Archive for the 'About Writing Fiction' Category

Writer’s Journal Review – Primer for Beginning Authors


Norway IS the new Scotland!

That’s my story & I’m sticking to it. Watch the video HERE. 🙂

I plan to be back to blogging on Monday, August 16. The independent publishing market continues to simmer – are there any particular questions you want me to research? I’m here to serve!

Kris 😉

Romantic Times Booklovers Convention: PROMOTION ~ The READER Version a.k.a Building Your Tribe!

Did you like the last post on promotion? But wait – there’s more! 🙂

According to what I heard at RT, a new author’s READER push should begin 2 months before the book is released. Here are some ideas from the RT seminar that target READERS:

  1. Write something from your character’s perspective: a blog, newsletter, an author (that’s you) interview, a Facebook page. Update on a regular schedule – at least once a month.
  2. Enter contests where READERS are judging.
  3. Offer free reads on your website such as short stories about secondary characters and deleted scenes from your books.
  4. Participate in blog tours – especially READER blogs – and always give something away.
  5. Connect your website to other authors who write in your genre. Those readers find you, and your readers find them.
  6. Hold Facebook contests where readers post on your wall.
  7. When the last book in a series is released, give the first book away.
  8. Make funny videos and upload them to your YouTube channel. Even if your books aren’t funny, laughter goes viral; dark and serious doesn’t.
  9. Find a gimmick. It makes you memorable.
  10. Take a look at buying promotion. Names tossed out were: Author Buzz, Constant Contact, Writerspace, Host for You, Sparklist, Fresh Fiction and
  11. Look at technology. How can you use it to push content to readers? Are Smartphones in your future?
  12. Arrange as many signings or appearances as you can, even on vacations or other trips – and list every single one of them on!
  13. Follow the 3-click rule: Website visitors should be able to purchase your books in 3 clicks or less.
  14. Join a local Speaker’s Bureau.
  15. Contact local newspapers and your TV stations’ local shows.

*whew* …Makes me tired to think of it all!

For independently published (and e-published) authors, this type of publication will supplant much of the trade promotion, as indie-pubbed books don’t get ordered by the Big Box Bookstores, as a rule.

But according Publisher’s Weekly, more than 764,000 self-published and micro-niche books were published in 2009, compared to 288,000 traditionally published books, so obviously the competition is there – and it’s stiff. (Stay tuned for my next series: The Death of Traditional Publishers? A Compilation of Opinions – with some exciting guest input!)

No matter where or how an author is published these days, it’s obvious: effective promotion, dogged perseverance and endless patience are the keys to success!

Romantic Times Booklovers Convention: PROMOTION-PROMOTION-PROMOTION ~ The “Trade” Version!

I learned so much at RT this year in preparation for my fiction author debut this fall. One area I especially wanted to learn more about was how to effectively promote my books. After all, no matter who you are or who you are publishing with, today’s new authors must promote themselves. And this convention exists for that very purpose!

So I attended a panel presentation hosted by a professional public relations company, one that focuses on authors. Here are some practical things I heard:

  1. A new author’s TRADE push should begin 6 months before the book is released.
  2. Independent bookstores love small (8.5×11) posters for end-caps. Make some of your book cover and send them out.
  3. Mail postcards to bookstores asking them to mail it back IF they want an ARC (Advance Release Copy). This way, you don’t waste too many copies sending them to places that aren’t interested.
  4. Most independent bookstores have reading groups. Ask about speaking to them!
  5. Leave a bag of give-away items when you do.
  6. Sign copies of your book and put appropriately-sized stickers (don’t block important parts!) on the covers.
  7. Make bookmarks. A key point was made here: authors are inundated with bookmarks; readers are not. For the average reader, a bookmark can be a treasure. Indulge them.
  8. ON THE BOOKMARK, mention if the title is part of a series, and what number book in the series it is. People need to know.
  9. ON THE BOOKMARK, include a plot description.
  10. Target 10 independent bookstores at a time. Send them end-cap posters, bookmarks and selected giveaways.
  11. Target 10 plot/setting/character related outlets at a time. Send them posters, bookmarks and selected giveaways.
  12. Give local libraries FREE copies of your book.

The gist was to target independent bookstores – ones who make their own decisions about what titles to buy. While the Big Box Bookstores are stocked by corporate buyers, authors can affect how visible their books are once they are in the stores by making themselves noticed – in a good way!

Other bits of random advice:

  • You already have your website. Now purchase the domain names of your book title(s) and have those domains link to the page on YOUR website that refers to that book.

For example: would be routed to this page: Once there, the reader could read the first chapter of that book, then (hopefully) explore my whole site.

I added 5 domains and routed them for a whapping $35 per year. I’d say that’s money well spent, considering that now my book titles will show up on search engines and take the searcher straight to my site.

  • Branding is still the key element. Consistency from beginning to end is crucial.

On the trade side this means that every scrap you put in a bookseller’s hand needs to match. Find something about your books – all of them – that can be a visual trigger pointing attention specifically to YOU. They suggested picking 5 words that convey who you are as an author (related to your writing) and bounce off of those.

If you are being published by a New York house, this will probably be decided for you. If you are independently or small press pubbed, you should have some say. In either case, the promotions that you do on your own should be coordinated with what your publisher decides to do!

Next up is Reader Promotions: Building Your Tribe – helping them to find you and to love you.

Romance Book Covers: THE RESULTS

I don’t often make this blog about me, specifically. I have written from my experiences and tried to legitimately link them to the big world out there. But this time, it was definitely personal.

So, THANK YOU to everyone who posted and emailed me about the book covers. It was interesting to read your comments and I made some decisions based on them. So today’s post is mostly visual.

First – I went to (thank you, Nannette, for the link!) and made a word cloud from the comments, phrases of which I cut and pasted. The big words appeared the most often, the smaller words, less so:

Blog Response Word Cloud

Cool, huh?

The response to the covers was overall positive, but the lack of people on the front covers was a stumbling block for many. What I’ve done, then, is to have the heroine represented on the cover of “A Woman of Choice” and the hero represented on “A Prince of Norway.” I have NO idea what I’ll depict on the third book (it’s a trilogy), “A Matter of Principle”… But I still have a couple months to figure that out. *gulp*

My apologies to those who wanted to envision the characters for themselves. These photos actually match the descriptions in the books, and I was pleased to find them on

So, here are the updated designs. I do want your honest feedback, should you be willing to give it, but I won’t post again about this particular subject. Thank you all – you are amazing!

And now I’m off to Columbus, Ohio to attend my very first Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. We’ll see what subjects and information I come home with next week. Watch out – you never know with me!  🙂

A Woman of Choice Full Cover

A Prince of Norway Full Cover

Romance Book Covers: What do women REALLY want?

Interesting question.

Two things prompted this train of thought. First, I was reading my Kindle at a diner, glad that no one could see what sort of reading I was doing. (It was literary fiction, but still.) I had a moment as some people walked by when I thought: “Can they tell what I’m reading?” and was inexplicably relieved that the answer was no.

Secondly, I spent last weekend at a writer’s conference where we each received a bag of promotional materials – mostly glossy bookmarks with book covers splashed across them. Men’s abdomens were in abundance, rippling over low-slung jeans, pantaloons, trousers or kilts. The rest had women, displaying their thighs – some in garters and stockings – through a slit in their skirt, or their bared shoulders and backs.


Publishers will tell you that half-dressed bodies (most of which were faceless, cut off above the jaw line) sell books. I find that hard to prove when there aren’t other choices offered. It’s like saying glazed donuts sell best at Krispy Kreme, when ALL of their donuts start out glazed!

But as I discuss the subject with my friends who enjoy reading, most of them say they would prefer book covers that aren’t embarrassing to hold up in a Starbucks. Or ones that they feel comfortable leaving on the coffee table where their kids see them. On the inside cover – be as seductive as you want. But on the outside, they want classy.

This subject is particularly important to me, as I am currently designing book covers for the American historical romance trilogy which I am publishing this fall and winter. I want the covers to reflect the settings as well as the stories.

And – I want the covers to match each other in design, so it’s obvious the books belong together.

And – if my agent isn’t successful and I end up publishing my other manuscripts as well (none of which fit the publisher’s beloved “boxes”) I want ALL of my novel covers to match.

So, I want classy. The question is, am I shooting myself in the foot? Will women stay away from my novels because no one is being ravaged on the covers? Or because no man is stripped to the waist and flexing his multi-pack?

I don’t know. What I do know is that the designs I have been working on are starting to look pretty good (in my VERY humble opinion). So I’m posting two of them here and asking for your input. Your HONEST input.

Based on the covers, would you buy these books? Or flee to the ripped-bodice section? No judgment! I just want to know.

Thanks in advance.

A Woman of Choice Book Cover

A Prince of Norway Book Cover

E-Reader Hysteria: A little common sense to correct the discussion – Part 4

I have a few random and quick final observations that I want to add to the e-reader discussion before we move on:

1. As new-sale bookstores continue to suffer, second-hand bookstores will thrive.

New-sale bookstore closures are following the pattern set by the highly publicized closings of specialized music, video and record stores. As more and more people convert to e-readers over the coming decade (and old and hard-to-find books become available electronically) some of us will pitch our dusty and disintegrating paper versions.

(Yes – they will. No – that is NOT a sacrilege! Let’s go through this again: the medium is not the message.)

Books will then become a bit of a collector’s item. Not always for actual reading, but for having. Like baseball cards, vinyl albums and cameras that use film. Just as specialty-music stores have found their niches and are surviving in the new world of music downloads, used bookstores and specialty bookstores could thrive in the digital-book age.

2. The future of bookmarks is hazy.

Obviously, with e-readers you don’t need one. But they are an ubiquitous marketing tool for authors… So will authors continue to have them printed? Maybe. They are colorful, informative memory-prompters that fit into most purses. And they are harder to lose than a business card. It’s quite possible they will still be handed out by the thousands for the next several years.

But if anyone has another cheap, quick, marketing idea – get on it. YOU could make a jillion dollars!

3. Editors and agents already read and edit their submissions on e-readers.

Having said THAT, I need to tell you what happened this past weekend when I was pitching a manuscript to several editors at a writers’ conference. After saying in a panel that they are looking for something different, in a fresh voice, two different editors actually said to me: “I don’t know how I would sell that… Publishers like their boxes.”

How ironic. Reading submissions on the very device that makes their job unnecessary in my “I-don’t-want-to-write-in-your-box” career.

So what made my book un-sellable in their eyes? It was set in Norway, not England or Scotland. I. Am. Serious.

4. E-readers/e-publishing can save University presses.

University presses are an arguably essential – if obscure – segment in the world of scholarly non-fiction publishing. They bring prestige to universities by publishing the research and written work of their highly-degreed staff members.

These books obviously have very low sales and a very narrow reading audience. But e-publishing is free, unlike standard paper publishing, and books can be distributed to other universities across the country in a few seconds. In the climate of squished and smashed budgets, this is VERY good news!

5. Now – Repeat after me:

  • I will not say anything good or bad about e-readers until I have read at least one full-length novel on one.
  • I will not make claims that I assume to be true about e-readers until I have done the research.
  • I will keep an open mind and admit that an e-reader might be in my future – because I don’t want to have to eat my words later.

Have I missed anything?





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Authorpreneur Kris Tualla

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