Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Fresh From The Book

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Well, as I’ve been hinting at for a week or so, I started a new venture. Yeah, I know, like I needed something else on my plate, but… I’ve been listening to fellow authors and readers. Authors are constantly asking how to reasonably market their books and fellow avid readers always want to be able to find new books. So, in comes Fresh from the Book.

I created this website to help with those exact problems. As the marketing process of a book is expensive, I’ve checked out several upon several websites that advertise for authors. Some of them want a ridiculous price to place an ad, so I created this to help with that. Of course, I couldn’t do it all for free, but after many months of searching and experimenting, I’ve come up with costs that are below the normal costs.

I’ve set up the website and Facebook separate from my own author page, but the Twitter and Pinterest are connected to me. Since I have over 4000 followers on Twitter and here on WordPress, I thought that would be a better start to get the word out. Once the subscribers build, I’ll detach the site from my author sites.

So, in honor of the launch day, I’ve come up with a couple of incentives to share the good news. If you share the new website, like the Facebook page and share it, then go on Twitter and share, then I’ll give you 50% off your ad. Since you’ll be tagging me, I’ll see your efforts and thanks ahead of time. To receive your discount, I’ll send you a discount code to use upon checkout.

To say I’m excited about this new venture would be understating the truth. As you will see on the website, I’ve used my own advertising to give you a taste of what the ads will look like. Also, all ads will be archived on the site, so that way readers can scroll through older ads and still snag your book. It’s a win-win!

As always, great writing and May God Bless You…

www.facebook.com/freshfromthebook/

www.freshfromthebook.com

 

 


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Changing up…

Before I published my first book I did a lot of investigating. The general comment that I saw from several well known writers was to keep writing. They said that the more you write the better your craft and the better the sales. Well, I wondered how this would pan out for my future career as a writer. 

Now that I’m coming up on my two year publishing anniversary I can say that this is a fact. It’s funny that when I read my first published book I shake my head. I’m in the process of revising a couple of my first books. I’ve learned so much about the process and writing in the last two years. I changed a lot of how the process goes. Also, I’ve slowed down a bit. Of course that could be age, but let’s get past that point.

I’ve seen a huge difference in sales. The first 6 months after publishing my first book my sales were minimal. Every month after that I’ve seen a upswing. I’ve also learned to put a decent price on my work. Even though you might sell less in numbers, the end result if a larger profit. 

As for my covers I’ve stepped up the game. Now I put more effort in making each new cover pack a punch. I want them to stand out in the enormous crowd of other newly published books. I study other covers that I see and what the current trends are. I get a lot of response on my covers which makes me smile. 

One thing I’ve learned from multiple published books, I’ve added more descriptions. I’ve added more insight into the characters and more information on the surroundings. Some of this comes from fans writing to me. They tell me that my earlier books were good, but they wanted more from the characters. I’ve listened to the readers and now I write further detail into every book. Patience has been a hard thing for me to have in my writing. When you can see the end and your excited, sometimes you press it too quickly and lose the middle structure. 

My publishing process has become very detailed. I’ve slowed that process too. Now I do a little more marketing than before. As you’ve noticed in my blogs I’m working on several manuscripts that have been in the works for a while. I also have a couple of surprises coming up, but that’s for another blog down the road. 

As always, good writing, and May God Bless You…


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3 Ways Indie Authors Can Improve Self Publishing

As you know I’m a self published author. When I decided to publish my manuscripts I studied the market. I’m an Accountant and I have a strong analytical background so that pushed me to make a study into this. I looked into both the traditional market and the self publishing market. One thing I realized was that more and more traditionally published authors are going to the self publishing market. But let me tell you this, in order to do it right you’ve got to keep up the traditional publishing standards strictly enforced.

Here are 3 of the ways Authors can improve Self Publishing:

1: Editing: This is a very important part of publishing and this is where several self published authors fail at. It’s also part of why some people will not pick up a self published book because they’ve been burned before. You’ve got to read your manuscript and read it again. Also you need to either get Beta Readers or someone that will be critical and unbiased to read your work. When you read your manuscript pull yourself away. Read it as though you’re a reader and are you inspired to read it again. If it falls flat, then how can you expect anyone else to get into. Have you corrected all the spelling errors, grammatical errors, and just plain out story line disasters?

2: Covers: I can’t stress this enough. Covers can sell even a badly written book. This is the first thing that a reader sees. This is the first line of selling rank. If you don’t spend money on anything else, please spend a little on this. There are so many talented cover designers out there. I’ve been so fortunate to have a awesome cover designer. I’ve seen some really cool covers and then some really horrible attempts. Your cover needs to tell something about what’s inside. It need to pull the reader in. I’ve purchased so many books just from the cover.

3: Book Blurbs: I stress about this with all my books. This is the hardest part of writing to me, no kidding. Make sure you don’t give away too much in the blurb. Too many authors tell the story on the back of the book. This is not good. Be very descriptive and use complimentary words that will draw in the reader. I’ve done a study on this with my very own books. I put out a blurb on a couple of my books that I was somewhat happy with, but I noticed a lag in sales. Then I sat down and poured over the blurbs changing some of the key words and adding some small elements. This helped the sales dramatically. Try it and see if your sales go up.

It’s hard to be an author, period! When I say I’m an author, people come back with yeah, I could write a book. Well, yeah, anyone can write a book, but can they write a book that will go anywhere? Do they have the drive to publish that book and do all the marketing? Being an author is not as easy as it looks and being self published is brutal at times.

But let me tell you the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. The first time a fan comes up to you at the grocery store and says, “Oh my goodness you’re that author.” The first time this happened to me I was so embarassed and excited at the same time. When you get emails from fans excited about your work it makes you smile all day. I’ve gained so many new friends from all over the world that some days I’m just amazed. Yes it’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. 

Have I thought about traditionally publishing? Yes. I sent Ghost Lover to a traditional publisher and never heard a word. Then I decided to self publish it and it was all uphill from there. It was my introduction into the publishing world and the response to that book has been really great. I’ve had a couple of big publishers call me about coming on board with them, but they couldn’t offer my anything different from what I do now, so not now. I do have a work in progress at the moment that it’s been in my heart to send to a publisher that I contribute to as a blogger. We’ll see how that goes. 

So, my advice to you is to go for it, but be prepared to do it right. This is your name you’re putting out there, so make it shine. If you need any help with it, I’m in partnership with my editor/cover designer in a publishing service, Horseshoe Publishing. We’ll help you iron out those wrinkles and make your work shine like a new penny.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Decisions…Decisions?

We have decisions to make as writers. What’s funny is if you’re a writer then you made a big decision, you decided to be a writer. You may say, ‘I haven’t published anything’, but if you write down what’s in your mind, then you’re a writer. 

Here are a couple of decisions to make as a writer:

1: Most importantly – Decide to actually begin writing. Whether it be an unpublished journal or a novel that could be the next big one. If you enjoy it, then go for it.

2: You have to decide if you’re going to make your writing public or just keep it in a drawer for your enjoyment only. I’m really glad I decided to get mine out of a drawer and blow off the dust.

3: After you’ve written your masterpiece (well that’s how we all feel after we’ve finished a manuscript. It may be only us that labels it this, but oh well.) do you try to submit to a traditional publisher and wait and wait and wait and wait some more or do you tackle self publishing it and taking a chance on your own.

4: If you decide on traditional publishing, who do you go with. Well, decide what genre your manuscript best fits, then check into publishers that specialize in your genre. Traditional publishers come in all sizes and needs. I’ve been approached by a couple and I was surprised at the diversity of each one. One guy was so funny that I laughed actually at him, he said ‘we want your book on our team’ then he proceeded to tell me how much money he wanted for the honor of them wanting my book, which was a couple of thousand and that included putting it on the same social media sites I already have them on. NOT! Then you have the publishers that only take a portion of your royalties. Here’s where it gets tricky, do you want to give up 50% or more of your royalties? 

5: Do you want to self publish? This is easier than you might think. The self publishing sites available is phenomenal and a statement of how popular this type of publishing is. With this type of publishing you have to be careful when reading the disclaimers, but most of the popular sites are just general and do not your first born up front 🙂

6: Marketing, Marketing, Marketing… As a self publisher you have to do this if you want to be seen. This is where you meet so many wonderful people from all over the world. I’ve enjoyed this part of the whole process so much. 

7: Finally, don’t forget the decisions about the book itself. You have the cover, the description, the trailer video pictures, the music for the trailer, etc. It goes on and on and on.

As I always say, this is just the wandering musings of a writer, but hopefully it gives you some food for thought. Each decision you make needs to be met with lots of prayer and contemplation. 

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Amazing! Have you tried this?

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 As writers we try everything to get our work noticed. We go on sites and follow other established writers to see how they do it. We put our name everywhere. I’ve put my name in some of the most unlikely places. Some have worked and others have just plain out flopped around like a dead fish.

Well I’ve found a couple of avenues for my work and I wanted to share them with you. Some of you may already be using these channels and if so I hope it’s going well, if not I hope this gives you some new advantages.

1. The Independent Authors Network

     I’ve been playing with the choice of paying for a space on this network. I researched it and noticed that some of the authors I love are on there and it’s relatively reasonable. It’s a $24.95 one time fee for a basic membership and $74.95 a year for a Gold membership. I chose the basic. It’s like a author family of sorts. The network sends out your info periodically on their social media and other authors or readers send out your links and you do the same for them. I’ve noticed a real change in my sales since joining. My author page, yes I got an author page shows six of my books and some of the links that are clickable for purchasing my work.

2. Romance Writers of America

   I wanted to join this earlier than I did, but the entry fee kept me held back. I’m really glad I decided to join this wonderful organization. I get a magazine monthly and newsletters periodically. They both provide some great advice and instruments I can use in making my author platform more sturdy.

3. allromanceebooks.com

    This is one of the sites where you can sell your books. It doesn’t cost anything to set up a publisher/author account and have your books sold on their site through Paypal. You can put as many books as you want to on their site. It’s fairly easy to put your books on their site and they take several formats. Actually they recommend publishing them in several formats. I set this up and was able to put five of my books on there yesterday and already have had sales. You get 60% royalty. I figure that’s pretty good especially since it’s another avenue for my books to be seen and it’s FREE.

Maybe this will be helpful for you or just old news, but it helped me. My objective is to let others know when I find a great way to get my work seen. These are not my only avenues, but are my newest. If you use other sites, please list them and send to me. It could warrant a whole new blog post of what others use to market their work.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Self Publishing: Do or Don’t?

I’ve read several posts lately regarding the decision whether to go traditional publisher or do it yourself. It’s a hard question to answer without some investigating your options. That’s what I did before I published my books. Here’s my findings and remember, this is just my experiences and opinions.

When I first decided to publish my books I sent a query letter to a traditional publisher. Well, after several months I didn’t receive a response and I was really wanting to the book out. So, being the person I am, I started looking into other options. I didn’t know a lot about self publishing, but soon I was immersed in the how-to’s. It was an interesting concept. What really impressed me was the royalty rates versus traditional rates.

One of the issues was that in traditional publishing you have someone doing book promos for you and the self publishing market you do it yourself. Being an accountant by trade I wasn’t sure about this. But with more in depth investigating I realized I could do this. Thank goodness my assistant is in college and she is very with working computer magic.

The funny thing is that it was easier than I had ever imagined. I was not a social media butterfly, so easing me into that part of the marketing was extremely funny to my assistant. The first time I received a follower on Twitter I was like, really, someone I don’t even know followed me. She just laughed and rolled her eyes. Since then it’s been crazy. I blog, I tweet and I have my books on every website I can find. My accounting office has turned into publishing central.

We even design our own covers and have gotten some real good reviews on them. I have gotten a couple of calls from traditional publishers wanting me to sign with them. That’s been gratifying but the only thing is some of them want me to pay for their services. I asked one the other day and they are a big publisher, what are you going to do to market my book? Guess what, I was doing the same exact thing they were going to do, and paying thousands less than they wanted to do it.

So, I guess with me, I’ve had a good experience with self publishing. I won’t say that I’ll never go with a traditional publisher, but for now I’m happy with doing it myself. I have been talking with a small publishing company that is interested, but that will be later on. At least with self publishing I can get it out there now, not next year.

Hope this helps you if you’re trying to decide. As always great writing and May God bless you!