Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Calling All Contestants...

It's interesting to read the various book forums, book blogs and other sites dedicated to books to see the many creative ways authors will promote their books.  Many offer giveaways, some offer entire promotional packages while others still will attach their promo to a book trailer.  All I can say is "kudos" for these amazing ideas!

While I'm a big fan of the freebie giveaway, I like the idea of a financial incentive even more so to promote my book TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, I've decided to hold a contest.  It's not the most original marketing strategy but I like it just the same - spend a little and potentially win back your initial investment with a little somthin' somethin' extra - if you answer the question correctly.  I know what some of you are thinking.  There's always gotta be a big fat "if" in the equation...and there does - if you want to make things a bit more interesting.

So this is what my initial attempt at marketing strategy looks like:


Go to Amazon’s website and download Marta Tandori’s new ebook TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE…Read it…Answer the question below correctly…and WIN!!

QUESTION:  Which singer from a famous 70’s singing group was the inspiration for the character Kate Stanton in TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE??

First Correct Entry Received:  $50 USD

Five Additional Prizes of $10 USD awarded to each contestant with the correct answer based on a first-received basis.  Only one entry per contestant.  Prizes will be awarded the day after contest closes via PayPal.

Contest Opens:  December 17, 2012

Contest Closes:  January 2, 2013

Send Answers to martatandori@gmail.com; Please put “CONTEST ENTRY” into the subject line of your email.

I guess I'll find out January 2nd whether my marketing strategy had any takers. Stay tuned for the final tally...

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The All-Important Backlist... and Death by Diversification?

I think it's fair to say that for all writers, the importance of being published is only usurped by the importance of having a solid backlist.  The backlist is the collection of other books you've written that will keep growing with each new book you publish.  Writing and publishing your book is only one small part of the overall equation; getting an impartial third-party to review it - while near miraculous - is yet another small part; building book buzz is a HUGE part and finally, making sales is the final part of the equation.  If you've managed to get all of that, you think you've finally made it, right?  Wrong...

Even if your book is lucky enough to have had some sales, the only way to see a momentum build is by keeping the fan base you've managed to capture and then build on it...and fast.  Once a reader has read your book, and they liked it, they'll want to read another one and if there isn't one to read, they'll look for another book by another author.  If that reader really, really liked your first book and remembers to think of you six months down the road when your next book becomes available, you're pretty lucky.  Most readers have a much shorter memory span and want instant reading gratification - and quite frankly, they don't have far to look.  There's thousands upon thousands of titles and authors to choose from, merely with a few clicks of the old mouseroo.

In past years, traditional publishers have encouraged authors who like to write in more than one genre to do so under a pseudonym, since readers of one genre would become "confused" by an author's backlist comprising of more than one genre and that they'd be less likely to remain loyal to that author.  Some authors, like Nora Roberts and Stephen King, have written under pseudonyms for different series of books.  I personally don't buy into the whole "confusion" argument.  However, I think that any author that writes in more than one genre will still have to develop a reader base, regardless of the genre.  I also think that readers today are more open to reading different genres of books by the same author, thanks in part to the wide appeal of cross-over books like the HARRY POTTER series and the TWILIGHT series.  Some authors, like Karen McQuestion, have a backlist made up of more than one genre of books and by the looks of things, this diversification has only served to enhance her fan base and her reputation as a talented author.

So I guess the moral of this little blog is...write well...write often...and death by diversification be damned!   

Saturday, 27 October 2012

I, A Reasonably Intelligent Woman...

Cover design done?  Check!...Manuscript formatted?  Check!...Short synopsis ready?  Check!...Author bio complete?  Check! After I had gone through my little checklist, I figured I was ready to join my esteemed colleagues before me and jump on the Kindle publication bandwagon.  Unfortunately, that's not exactly the way it turned out...

I pretty much sputtered and died at the starting gate when I signed into KDP and couldn't add a new title.  I kept getting an error message and couldn't figure out why.  So much for easy-breezy!  Thank goodness for Amazon's help desk.  They suggested that if I was using Internet Explorer, I should try using Firefox instead.  Thankfully, that did the trick.  Step 1 down...

My next stumbling block came when I tried to upload the cover design and I kept getting an error message that the design I was trying to upload did not meet the pixel parameters required.  I tried reformatting the pixels - keeping in mind that I'm a non-computer-savvy chickie.  I finally managed to upload the altered image...but let's just say the cover didn't look anything like the cover was supposed to look when I previewed it - not by a long shot.  Uploading the formatted manuscript was no problem and I quickly received confirmation that it had uploaded properly.  Only one problem, though.  There was nothing there when I tried previewing it!  At this point, I didn't know what to think.  How was it that I, for the most part a reasonably intelligent woman, couldn't seem to upload two professionally-prepared items in what was supposed to be a straightforward, seemingly foolproof process??  Arghhhh!!

A quick - and somewhat panicked email to FormattingExperts followed.  They assured me that they had sent the right pixel count image but promptly sent me another sample with a larger pixel count.  I decided to delete the current publication effort and try again.  Let me tell you - there's absolute truth to the old adage that second time's the charm.  It was and everything worked tickety-boo.  Chalk one up to reasonably intelligent women everywhere...this one was suddenly on a roll... 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Trials, Errors and Tribulations

I was going through the Kindle community boards, hoping to get lucky and find some references I could check into regarding the formatting for my manuscript as well as the cover art.  I knew there were several well-known companies that provided ready-made covers for a set price and while those were certainly a viable option, they didn't address both my problems.  Eventually, I saw several postings for FormattingExperts.com so I sent them off an introductory email.

To say I was pleasantly surprised isn't the half of it! When the customer service manager, Rafal, confirmed that they do formatting and cover art, I was ecstatic.  Then when he indicated that I wouldn't have to pay until I was completely satisfied, I became a bit skeptical - but then again, who was I to judge??  He asked for a brief synopsis of the manuscript and I sent him the back cover blurb.  Within days, I was sent a cover for my review.  Overall, it was okay but I certainly wasn't impressed.  There was punctuation missing from the title and I didn't like the way the color in parts of the title seemed to disappear into the cover.  I sent Rafal an email, pointing out the error and some additional minor changes and within a day or two, the corrections and changes had been made with an updated version sent to me.  In the meantime, I had also received confirmation that the formatting had been completed.

At that point, I should've been one happy chickiepoo because the formatting was done and my cover was done.  The only problem was, the more I looked at the cover, the more appropriate I thought it would be for a video game rather than a book.  I sent another email to Rafal, voicing my concerns.  I told him what elements I liked about the cover and what I didn't.  I sent him some photographs to help with the visualization and some sample fonts I thought were more appropriate.  I fully expected to receive a polite response telling me to go jump in the nearest lake.  Far from it. Within days, I received a brand-spanking new cover that absolutely thrilled me.  It was perfect!!

However...me being me...I still had issues with the font.  Again, FormattingExperts took care of it.  For a very reasonable price, I got a custom-designed cover, a perfectly formatted manuscript and excellent customer service.


I figured with the biggest hurdles over, the rest of the publishing process would be a cake-walk - not...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Get on the Net and Start Surfing...

My philosophy, since the advent of the Internet, has pretty much always been that if you want to learn about something, get on the Net and start surfing.  There is probably no greater research tool than the Internet - so long as you keep in mind that sometimes, not everything you read is necessarily accurate or true.  However, for the most part, the Internet can open your eyes to the world, it can teach you and entertain you.

That sentiment especially holds true for author blogs and author websites.  There is so much information out there being provided by authors on their blogs and on their websites that it can literally make your head spin.  I think these are the places where authors really let their hair down and aren't afraid to tell it like it really is - case in point, J.A. Konrath and his blog, a Newbie's Guide to Publishing.  Now there's an author who's definitely putting facts and figures out there for public consumption and you gotta give him props for doing so.  His blog also contains tons of valuable information, anecdotes, etc.  Then of course, there's Amanda Hocking and her website.  She's brutally honest about her disappointing forays into the publishing world before Kindle came along.  She's blunt, she's without pretext and she's hugely entertaining.  She, like J.A. Konrath, are the earlier pioneers of the Kindle program who have trail blazed successful careers because of their talents, hard work, perseverance and thanks in huge part, to the Kindle Direct Publishing program.  There are, of course, tons of other authors out there that have, and are, doing the same thing with huge amounts of success.

The point that I'm trying to make here is that author blogs and author websites are VRT's (Valuable Research Tools).  Once you find one, you find a link to another one and so on and so on...

Saturday, 20 October 2012


My introduction to the Kindle Direct Publishing program came in a roundabout way.  I was reading up on the background to the 50 SHADES phenomenon and before I knew it, one thing led to another and there I was on Amazon's site, reading up on the KDP program, open to everyone who writes or aspires to write.  I immediately knew this was something I had to try.  It was certainly one of those defining "Aahh!!" moments in my life.

The first step was a no-brainer.  Open an account with Amazon.  I managed that step, no problem.

Then I quickly scanned the other stuff about uploading your formatted manuscript and cover design, filling in the price and other info and then with a couple of clicks of the old mouseroo, voila!, you're a published Kindle author!  I kept coming back to the phrase about becoming a published Kindle author over and over again...Then commonsense prevailed and I forced myself to carefully re-read all of the information about preparing and formatting the manuscript, preparing the cover design.  I re-read those parts again, several times.  Those words were totally foreign to a NCSC ("Non-Computer-Savvy Chick") like me.  With growing trepidation, I quickly scrolled to the tutorials on formatting your manuscript and designing your cover and then went over to the Kindleboards and read all the comments there.  Two vital points became abundantly clear to me:  (i) even authors with computer savvy had their challenges getting the formatting and cover design right; and (ii) in order to publish with Kindle, I needed help.  While there was a slim possibility - and I do mean "slim" - that I could figure out the formatting, there was no way in my natural lifetime I could even begin to contemplate doing my own cover design.

The funny thing was that while I was reading up on the tutorials and the message boards, the words of the Michael Jackson song "You are not alone..." kept running through my head.  That's because I figured there had to be other authors out there exactly like me who wanted to publish to Kindle but were overwhelmed by the challenges that the process entailed.  Hence the idea for this blog...I could document my challenges, solutions, successes and failures - not unlike Amy Adams' character, Julie Powell, in the 2009 movie Julie & Julia, which also starred the brilliant Meryl Streep as Julia Child.  In the movie, Julie Powell aspired to cook over 500 recipes from Julia Childs' cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in 365 days while documenting her experiences in her blog, The Julie/Julia Project.  Although my endeavor has a shorter timeline - I hope - it's certainly no less ambitious.  The only difference is, I'm replacing the challenges of making a Duck L'Orange with mastering editing, publishing and becoming my own publicist.

So, given my inspiration from Julie & Julia, I felt it only fitting to call my blog The Marta/Kindle Project...