Hear Ye, Hear Ye! AWARDS TIME!

This has been a great week! Thank you to all who have interacted with me in comments, reblogging, and liking my work! Some posts take a HUGE amount of time and others don’t. But I’m all about giving back and extending my hand of friendship to those around me. The fact that you read my work and talk back to me about it means the world to me! Thank you!

So I want to give out some kudos to those who have been amazing this week. Now I want to do this each week, so you can rise through the ranks the more you visit and comment! I know, I know…I can’t hand out cool presents each week, but there are times I will do a random give-away for those who participate on a regular basis. I’m unpredictable that way.

Take a moment to take a peek at these awesome bloggers! Follow them, talk to them, love them!

Without further ado…Here are my awards for this week!

Royal Subjects: Award for following my blog!

photo attribution: guttenberg.org

photo attribution: guttenberg.org

 

Knights of the Crown: Award for comments on my posts!

Photo Attribution: Unknown

Photo Attribution: Unknown

 

Allies of the Kingdom: Award for reblogging my posts!

photo attribution: wikipedia.org

photo attribution: wikipedia.org

 

King’s Herald: Award for liking my posts!

Photo Attribution: Midsommer Actors via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Attribution: Midsommer Actors via Flickr Creative Commons

 

Thank you sooo much for your love and support! I couldn’t keep going without you!

If you feel so inclined to read my books, you can find them all HERE! Just know that I appreciate you reading!

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What’s The Deal With Reviews?

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When we first get a book out on the market, we tend to be all about giving copies away, swapping stories, and review exchanges. Are reviews important? Of course they are. They are also the hardest piece of advertising to acquire. Why is this, you ask? Well, let’s examine the ‘review’!

1. While reviews are wonderful to own and use as someone to vouch for your work, there are ways to gain them and ways to use negatives to your advantage. You want reviews to be genuine, without harming your reputation.
One way to get those glowing reviews is to ask the people close to you to please give their thoughts on your work. Avoid using the word ‘review’. There are a lot of people who are not confident in their literary opinions and asking them to formally review your work will scare them to the point of not giving even a few words.

2. What is it about people and negativity?
Okay. Take a moment to think about this. How many times in your life have you called up the restaurant you just had dinner at and told the manager that they did such a great job? Did you commend that waiter or waitress that had been on their feet for hours on end, smiling and kissing your rear, and accommodating your every wish? What’s that? You think your tip says it all? Well, I can tell you that your words of praise mean more to that waitstaff than any amount of money you left.
But, how often do you complain about the service? Does it compare to the amount of times you call the restaurant with positive thoughts? As a fellow human being, I highly doubt that many people give kudos where they are due. Spouting one’s opinion of how they were wronged is our nature. We want others to know, without a doubt, that you were disappointed in them.
That is a lot how reviews work. People may read your work and like it. In fact, I know there are people out there who like your stuff. They are content. They found their new favorite author. They love your world. But do you think they will all take the time to spread the word? Sorry, no, they will not. In fact, you will get more people spout off to the world the reasons they hated it. It is their opinion and they want the world to know all the reasons they should not enjoy themselves by reading your work.

3. When you get a bad review, do you sit and cry?
Well, I have. You know, how dare they rip a hole through your soul by saying the editing was terrible? Who are they to be the judge of your style? Don’t they realize that your work is like your own child and when they bad mouth it, it is the same as putting your baby down?
No, unfortunately, many people don’t care how they come across, nor do they think about the effect it will have on your psyche. There is a way to be constructive and the general population does not think about that. They are only telling everyone else about their feelings. Being a crusader of “freedom of speech”, I understand that fact. Being a writer, I get a little sensitive sometimes.
What to do with those less than desirable reviews that lurk on your Amazon page? Hmmm…
Broadcast the daylights out of their little blunder. Rip it apart and ask your followers how they feel about those statements that haunt you. Wear it like a badge of courage…for it takes courage to be able to display those sentiments and move forward.

“This ebook suffers greatly from a lack of editing. The author has people speaking in idioms which would never have been used in medieval times, and also fails often to show who is speaking, thus creating confusion. The grammar used also shows the author’s need for a competent editor. Nevertheless, the story line is very good and if the author were to invest in the services of a good editor, the book would probably be successful.” ~N.F. Duncan

What would you do with a review like this. I know, hard to say when you might not have had one. While I feel that this person had no respect for me as a writer, I had to think about some books that I have read in my lifetime where I might have felt the same. I don’t like every book I have read. But you had better know that I would never add the extra jab of “competency”. To me, that is like giving the finger to an author. Do I know that my edits were lacking? Yes I did. I still published it knowing that? Yes I did. And you know what? Among the hundreds of readers who do enjoy my work, there are only an amount of haters that I can count on one hand. Does that mean I am tooting my own horn? No, not exactly. I am simply saying that there will always be those who can’t wait to smear another’s name in the dirt and you have to dust yourself off and move on. Do I agree with this reader’s opinion…no. While I know that there could be better edits done, I chose my style carefully. My characters speak in a way that my modern readers can relate. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. It makes my readers feel according to my characters. Is that my opinion vs. their opinion? No, because I have other positives to outweigh the negatives.

“Noble Courage by Daisha Marie Korth is a great read. Korth is amazing in her character and plot development. Throughout the entire book I felt as though i personally knew every character, and that I was right there with Aspen and Thorne. Once I picked up the book it was impossible for me to put it down, and this is true for the whole series. If you are looking for a series that you can fall in love with from the very beginning then this is the one!” ~M.R.H.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they were all like that? lol

4. Avoiding the Soul Crusher review:
There is no perfect formula for getting others to leave positive thoughts. However, you as the author can plant the seed of positive thoughts. When asking people to pick up your book, tell them you look forward to hearing how much they enjoy it. Explain that you are honored to have their readership and that if they like what they read, to jot down their thoughts for you. Publicly thank those who give great reviews so that others will catch the air of happy thoughts. You don’t have to try to cover that you had a bad review, face it and back up your work with the good ones.

5. Do not swap books and offer to review another author’s book in exchange for one on yours. This leads to less than honest reviews on both parties. Many will stall in making their statement until they get your back. Then, they will mirror what you had to say. Believe me, it happens. Perhaps not every time, but it will. When you are in a position of leaving a review, use the sandwich method and avoid using words that are unnecessarily harsh. We are all human beings here, we all have hearts and feelings. There is absolutely no reason to purposely destroy another person with your bad manners. If you review another’s work, make sure you don’t expect a glowing review back. Do not GIVE one to receive one either.

6. The Sandwich Method:
Stating true and factual statements in an appealing manner. Begin with a positive, such as a feeling it stirred within you, avoiding giving the entire story away. Mention things that may need improvement. You could say, “I just wish the editing had been a little more thorough because it interfered with how I read the story.” Close with another positive statement to leave the prospective reader with a sense of adventure having not made up their mind for them. That is NOT your job. There are always positives in everyone’s work, you need to be open minded enough to find them. Being honest and yet productively critical can develop an author into a better writer. Just being an @$$&*^@ could make a writer quit forever. Why should that weigh on your shoulders?

We are in the business of entertainment. If you write fiction, the world is yours! There are no laws, there are no rules, save one: It has to be believable. You could write about white cows that squirt strawberry milk in the chocolate hills, for all I care…but I have to smell the strawberries and taste the chocolate grass. If you write non-fiction, I’m sorry, but you have to be accurate. Be sure your facts are straight and when interjecting your opinions into the mix, be sure readers understand that and know your professional ability to back yourself up.

Think about these points when you review another’s work. It is not professional to be mean to another author intentionally and people will pick up on your pessimism. They will not follow you, nor will they read your work. Do your fellow writers a favor and provide healthy criticism that is attached to your name.

Target Audiences: What is yours?

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When I worked for a company that really cared about teaching their management staff how to understand their employees and make the environment better for each person working for them, I attended a set of meetings that helped us learn about the different generations and how to best relate to them. So what are those generations and what do the gaps mean?

We will start with the eldest of our generations, the Silent Generation. These people were children of the Great Depression and frugality is a way of life for them. These people were born between 1925 and 1945. At this time, these people don’t care much for reading…the words on the pages are too small. Therefore, appealing to these people is difficult.
Technology is not their friend so digital copies are not very interesting to them. Paper copies work, but it is hard for them to read. Solution? Audio books do well with this generation. You can tell the story and they can take it all in by listening to you.
How do you reach these people? Mailings are the best way, but word of mouth that reaches a family member can work as well.

Next, we look at the Baby Boomers. These people were born between 1946 and 1964. Many of these children learned to be very thrifty from their parents so cost is always a factor when looking into luxury items such as books. Most of these people do not appreciate electronics the way the later generations do so a paper book is much more appreciated. If your book resonates with this crowd and you don’t have your book in print, you are missing out on sales.
This generation prefers to curl up with a great book, to smell the pages and bend back the cover…even dog ear the pages to mark their place. This generation loves to please people, they are loyal and dependable. Once you convert them to being a fan of yours, they will be faithful to you until you do something to destroy that relationship. Unless a parent or sibling was lost to death, most of these families were in tact, two parent families so moving and emotional stories tug at their heart strings.
How do you reach these people? Well, more and more, this generation is using social media outlets like Facebook to keep in touch with their family. If you can capture their attention online, encourage them to “like” you there. Ask them to share their thoughts about your work on Amazon and refrain from using the word “review”. It is a very intimidating word that makes people feel the need to be technical and not sincere. Getting a snazzy mailing will get their attention, but you need to be thoughtful about your price point. There are mailing list companies that will compile lists based on specific demographics and printers such as Vista Print that allow you to create and print items such as postcards to cater to your audience.

Then, we have the Generation X. These people were born from 1965 to the early 1980’s. I think of this generation as the “in betweeners”. Yes, I am aware that that isn’t really a word, it is just an expression I came up with. These people were born and raised around the evolution of computers and cell phones. I am a Gen X kid. While I had two parents all of my childhood, both of my parents worked outside the home. Many of my friends were from single parent families as divorce rates began to rise. We were a generation that raised themselves, yet most of us still had two parents at home after work.
This generation loves to be praised. It is thought to be due to a lack of it when both parents are absent more than present. They need to feel wanted and needed.
Dramatic movies with effects that were the cornerstone of today’s movies started a virtual evolution and a love for fictional stories. These people have learned to adapt to a new way of life, a digital life.
When I read a book, I still love a paper copy in my hand and the way the ink looks on the page. However, I do like being able to download a book onto my Kindle app and have it right there. I am the type that I only collect the paper copies of books that I am most loyal to and others, I commit to technology. When I become a large enough fan, I buy the paper copy.
So, this generation will prefer either type of book. It is a good idea to market a choice of formats for these people as some are very against digital copies while others prefer them. You can reach the majority of your audience by the web as mailings can be boring and add to the pile in the trash can. Things like Facebook ads direct emails will grasp the attention of these people. Placing bookmarks in local bookstores or grocery stores may help them find you.
This group of people used their imaginations as kids. They love descriptive works that are easy to read and hold their attention. For many, the characters come to life and the setting will take them away as a means of escape. If that works for them, the story doesn’t have to be technically accurate for them to be fans. The vacation is what they want.
One thing I have found is that this generation really displays little loyalty. They can love your work and give you a marginal review. They rarely stand up for you, especially if you are new to the publishing scene and shout to the world that they like you. They are afraid of being condemned by their peers for their opinions. Many of these people are happy to follow but not to be the start of great things. (This is not to offend any Gen X people out there…This is just what I have found. My least loyal crowd are Gen Xers.)
Words of appreciation and praise will help them create a relationship with you. Be warned, however, that even my closest friends and family have turned their backs and never “share” my links even though they rave about my work. If this happens, find a new crowd to help you out. Your target may be these people, but the Gen Y people may be of more help to your reputation.

And then there was Generation Y. These people were born early 1980’s to the early 2000’s. They are lovingly referred to as “Millennials”. This was the birth of the technological generation. Everything is digital, everything is virtual, everything is instantaneous, and everyone is a winner. These people are very particular about movies and books…even food. This generation can feel more logical in their thinking. Imaginations don’t exist much and that is a product of their environment.
With a lack of imagination, movies and writing must be very accurate or you lose the interest of this generation. They require precision. Whatever they do, be it movies, gaming, or reading, it must be very real or it immediately sucks.
Cracking into this audience is quite a feat, but if you do, they have the technological know how to reach out to waves of people that can spur your career forward. Catering to this generation can be your ticket to a bestseller!
Gen Yers know the importance of spreading the word for you…but be prepared that it might not be the words you want spread out there. While other generations don’t complain as much, this generation can be brutally honest in giving feedback. They mince no words about the fact that your story had a few typos or a historical discrepancy. For them, it is black or white…they love it or hate it.
More than any other generation, these people use the social outlets like Twitter and Facebook most so they can be your best friend! This generation is big on blogging and can exhibit a “big mouth”. Meaning, they have groups of people in their corner that they have never met in person so they can speak volumes when they give their thoughts on your work. Even being able to post an article as their guest can gain you new followers.
Digital copies work the best for this generation. They are a “I want it now” kind of people…used to microwave food, 3D movies and up close and personal video games. They don’t think about how their words affect people as much. Most of these people are from broken homes and absent parents. They have completely raised themselves. They cannot fail out of school or lose a soccer game. This is a world where no one loses, so they don’t think about how they come across. Respect is not first and foremost with these people as they feel the world owes them a little something.
Reaching this audience will be very much computer oriented. Hooking them with concise advertisements will prompt them to click and could result in a new fan.

There is a name for the newest generation…Generation Z. These kids were born after the year 2000. If your audience is for the younger kids, remember that they are much the same as Gen Y where technology is concerned. These kids can teach you how to run your cell phone before you even pay for it.
Modern stories with real situations they could encounter will capture their attention while old school scenarios will turn them away.
However, with this generation, you must appeal to their parents as well. You don’t want to offend the parents or you get no sales. These parental generations will be Gen X or Gen Y so use of the computer will reach either audience. You can bet that a Gen Z child will read their books from a tablet or another device. If you don’t have a digital version of your book that pertains to this audience, you are losing sales.

This is a lot of information, I know. Are you marketing the right way to fit your audience?

Every author wants to believe that their books do fine with all generations. Don’t cheat yourself! Really work at determining who wants to buy your work. If you write for a Baby Boomer crowd and you market to a Gen Y, you will not be successful. You need to focus on your specific group of people and from there, it could explode on you.

Some authors will even recognize the opportunity to write for the Gen X and Y people as they are the easiest to reach and hook. There is something to this strategy. But I feel that you should write a story that speaks to you, not cater the story to your audience.

This post skims the surface of determining your audience. It is just another way to follow the avenues that will lead you to a marvelous reader base. I could go on for pages and pages…

So, here is the loaded question: What generation is your target audience?
Psst…Mine is Gen X and Y. However, there are many Baby Boomers that enjoy my work as well. But X and Y are my targets. Digital copies and paper copies are a must. Mailings and online activity are my ways of communication. I also write for two of the most difficult audiences that there are.

What about you?

A Thank You

You know, it is very hard to step out on the stage and allow yourself to be vulnerable and judged by the public. It is quite different to make your work available over keeping a journal. Both are equally great cruades, but I didn’t care so much about who read my work or even if they did.

Now, it is a different case. I have been on a mission for some time now and finally decided it was time to really get serious about what I do because I have been told by many that I do it well.

I am having an affair with my characters. They never leave me alone. They are consuming my mind. I love them dearly. I cry when they feel sorrow. I have put in my sweat, tears and blood pressure for my readers’ benefit. It was for them that I continued to tell my characters’ story. I’m in love with my whole world and I want you to be too.

So…I want to applaud those who have taken the time to actually read my posts and my books. I owe a debt of gratitude to those who retweet me on Twitter. And I will love every one of my fans who propelled me forward even when I wanted to give up. You all know who you are and I will be forever grateful. Please keep spreading the word and telling the world how much you love the Aspen Series or Hyde and Zeek.

For those who have promoted me and wish me to mention a special you have going on or a new book being released, let me know! I am here to make the system work. And know that if I “like” your posts, it means I read them and they moved me in some way.

I Guess I am Sticking my Toes in the Water

I have been contemplating what to do with the other three books I have out for download through Smashwords.com. With very little feedback from anyone, I decided I really have little to lose and unpublished The Price of Power yesterday. Now, I just wait and see what happens, how long it takes retailers to remove that book from their catalogs and then be able to activate it with Kindle. *Deep Breath*

I don’t know why it is such a scary move for me, or why I even have to think on it at all. But it is. It is like letting go of a child, letting them out into the cruel world with no way for me to stand up and defend them against the harsh eyes of critics, but I can celebrate with them as they become well received by the fans.

You know, I started my first book, Noble Courage, when I was 26. It took me seven years to complete it I was 33 when I got up the guts to publish it and that was because a woman who has become a very good friend, told me to get it out there. That is seven years of my life I laughed, cried, loved, and hated my characters and now I make 35 cents each time a reader takes a chance on me. lol I love you all dearly for reading, I really do.

Book two was really hard for me. When a year had gone by and I didn’t even have one chapter done, I wrote a small prequel to keep my readers satisfied. But inspiration finally hit me and Book Two, The Price of Power, had to be split into two books. That second half had to be split again for a third book,Tears of Penance, and Book Four, Salvation of the Forgotten was a very emotional voyage for me and was just released for purchase a couple of months ago.

So I guess my whole point was just to say that I have made quite the journey. I’ve had to dust off my clothes after being beaten into the dirt of haters. But I have done it and I’m determined to make something of myself.

Noble Courage on Kindle! .99

Simple Ways to Market your Book!

This article is from a guest poster and is about some of the easy little things we can do, and forget to do, besides just all the social media marketing that has become commonplace.

We are all learning the advantages of social media and the internet when it comes to reaching out and selling books. However, in dedicating so much time to the digital world, we have not grown to improve our business building skills between us and our face to face customers. As writers, many of us don’t like to step out be outgoing with strangers nor do we always like to toot our own horn. Marketing online only may work, but you create a personal following when you come out of your house and strut your stuff to the public around you.

  • Bookmarks: Having a bookmark image designed and printed is a great way to connect with potential readers. Leaving a small stack of them in bookstores generates a want in people. Leaving them on the table after you eat out will make it possible to have your name land in someone else’s hands. Remember that it only takes one loud person to discover your book and you will have more readers than you know what to do with.
  • Business Cards: While bookmarks can be expensive, you can create a business card that you can give out to people you run into. Hand them to your checker at the grocery store. Mail them with your bills (I know, we pay so many of them online). However, to just spend the 42 cents on a stamp for marketing, you are reaching those people you would never know. And if you are running a special, print a label you can stick on the back with a coupon code or dates of free downloads.
  • Book Signings: While these can be very scary to some writers, they are a great time to come out as a celebrity. You can do them in bookstores or have them elsewhere like in a hotel conference room or the library. Even outdoor booth space type shows or events can constitute as a signing. Create a buzz about your event online and offer prizes for those who bring someone with them. This doubles your exposure. At the signing, hold a drawing for your newest release. The forms you collect from the drawing will give you the information you need to add them to your social media contacts. Part of getting people’s attention and making them interested enough to stop requires a very visual set up. A large poster, of your book’s cover, your other signing dates, and maybe your bio, on an easel in close proximity to your table will help you.
  • Vinyl Letters on your Car: Having your book’s title and your web address cut out of weather resistant vinyl and spread across the back window of your car will show that you are most proud of your work. How many customers do you miss everyday sitting in traffic? This is a low-cost way to get your website in front of the average person. White is simple and shows up well while neon colors are attention grabbing. Never do black, it will blend into the interior of your vehicle.

Although the internet is the easy, risk free way to market to people far away from you, it is still important to make an image for yourself. Be that author who makes regular appearances for their fans and future readers. Their voices get pretty loud when they are excited about what you do for them…which is writing. Share the love.

Jessica Reynolds loves spending time with her family and living life through photography and art. She has spent considerable time running her own businesses while raising her kids. Currently, she blogs for Poster Session, a large format poster printer.