Blog Tour Stop #1 – @ JadeKerrion.com

November 9th – Stop #1 for my first ever blog tour is at JadeKerrion.com.

Jade is a very talented fellow author of Perfection Unleashed and blogger. She has been one of those folks who has been so helpful to me as I find my way through self-publishing, and very kindly hosted my first stop on my blog tour.

We did an author spotlight and excerpt from Blue Violet as a teaser for the Kindle Free Promo coming up on November 16th-18th. Hope you enjoy!

http://www.jadekerrion.com/2012/11/09/abigail-owen/

 

Book Blog Tour – November 9-15

Book Blog Tour: November 9-15
Free Kindle Promo (Blue Violet): November 16-18

I am so excited to announce my very first book blog tour!

For those of you not familiar, this is the virtual version of a book store tour. Various other book bloggers host me for a day. The types of posts can range from author interviews, to excerpts, to anything I want to write about. I love this concept! It seems like a really fun way to reach readers, and it’s also a neat way to connect with the bloggers themselves.

I’m really having fun with this, although I’ll admit it is a bit of work. I decided to start with a mini-tour – only four or five visits total – and have it lead up to my next Free Kindle Promo days to combine the impact of the marketing. I’ve seen several other authors do this, and they seemed to feel it was effective, so definitely worth a try.

To set up a blog tour I started by contact various bloggers to request a guest appearance. Some I knew from previous reviews, and some I didn’t. I then had to work closely with each of those who accepted. You communicate quite a bit to determine the date, what type of post to do, and other details they might need. I then get to work on each post – trying to make sure it’s complete well in advance of the post date.

And remember, this is all a marketing effort to find new readers, so the posts need to be compelling. No pressure!

Thank you to my friend Elayne, my marketing partner in crime, who has helped with contacting various bloggers to request a guest appearance.

Here is the schedule/details on my mini-blog tour (as of today – some details are subject to change):

Huge thanks to the bloggers hosting me for this tour! I really appreciate it more than I can say.

And readers, please pass on word that, following my book blog tour, Blue Violet will be available for free on Kindle November 16th – 18th!!!

Hyacinth: Excerpt #1 – Griffin’s Dreams

I am very happy to say that Hyacinth remains on track for publication in February and I think it’s finally time for a teaser excerpt!

I can’t believe it’s already time for this. I feel like I only just published Blue Violet. (Which is true, it was released in August). Look for the book cover reveal soon as well as more teasers over the next 3 months or so. I hope you enjoy this one!

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“Hey, Griff!” Ellie bounded into his room without knocking first and plunked herself on his bed.
Griffin paused in the process of loading his laptop into his backpack which sat on the bed beside his sister. “What are you doing here this early in the morning?” he asked as he resumed what he was doing.
Ellie shrugged a slim shoulder. “Nothing special.”
Griffin paused again, giving Ellie a narrow-eyed look. “Okay. What’s up?”
Ellie flashed him an exasperated look. “Why does something have to be up for me to visit my brother?”
“You only block my mind reading when you want to hide something from me.” He zipped up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. “Alex here too?”
“Yup. He’s downstairs letting Lucy stuff him with breakfast.” She hopped up, following Griffin out of the room. “Where’re you headed?”
“Library. I have to finish this last paper for my economics class.”
“Hmmm. Makes me glad I didn’t do summer school this year. I though you got that paper done last night?”
Griffin grunted. “I need a little more quiet than this mad house affords. Even late at night.”
Ellie laughed. “I guess we were up pretty late playing Trivial Pursuit. You shoulda come down and joined us.”
Griffin paused at the top of the stairs and turned to her. “Hey Elle? You’d tell me if Selene appeared to you in a dream, right?”
“Of course!”
“So she hasn’t?”
“Not since we killed Gideon.”
“Okay.” Griffin started down the stairs and missed his sister’s concerned look as she followed him.
Reaching the bottom he turned, gave Ellie a peck on the cheek, and said, “See ya later.”
“Have fun,” Ellie kept her worry to herself, gave her brother a casual wave, and wandered off to find Alex.
Griffin let himself out of the house and walked around to the shed where he kept his motorcycle. Hopping on he started the bike and headed into town. He loved this ride most of the time. The winding road through the mountains had spectacular views with vibrant hues of blues and greens that nature presented him. But lately the views had been lost on him. His concentration instead turned inward. He hadn’t wanted to bring up Selene with Ellie, but after last night…
It’s got to be coincidence. He reasoned with himself.
Selene hadn’t approached him in his dreams since the last time he’d seen her. An image of her standing in the field in the mountains, regally gorgeous with her silvery fair hair and dove grey eyes, was constantly with him. And then she’d walked away from him.
Initially, after everything had settled down, Griffin had convinced himself that he never wanted to see or hear from her again. Despite the fact that he was positive she was his te’sorthene. He pushed that fact away from him as irrelevant in the face of what she was responsible for.
But he’d missed her. Despite himself.
He’d believed her to be just a dream, and now that she no longer appeared to him at night when he closed his eyes, he did miss her. And somehow that just fed the bitterness in his heart.
His dreams lately, however, had featured flashes of a white wolf.
I only know one white wolf, but there’s got to be more out there. And maybe it’s just my own mind coming up with this, Griffin thought to himself.
But somehow, deep down, he didn’t think so. The images that would come to him periodically in his sleep were never anything very clear. Only flickers, like an old-timey movie but with more time between pictures. And last night…
Last night he could have sworn he’d heard sobbing.

And The Winner Is…

The winner of the Hyacinth Name a Character Contest is in. Drum roll please…

Finalist #1 – Kelli’s submission of Dez O’Moore won 63% of the votes!

Name: Desmond Alexander O’Moore
Nicknames: Nicknames include Dez and Alex
Description: Hes about 6’2ʺ golden tan hair that waves it long enough to slick back but not past his ears and one piece that always falls into his eyes he has a surfers body not to full of and is always tanned he has the face of an aristocratic eyes of a sea green that notice every little detail and pearly white perfectly straight teeth and a set of aways pouting lips

Dez will be appearing in my next book – Hyacinth – as a potential love interest for one of my main characters. I can’t wait to write him into the book.

Kelli has won:
– A $25 Gift Certificate for Amazon.com
– A FREE autographed print copy of BLUE VIOLET
– A FREE digital copy of HYACINTH prior to release
– A thank you in my acknowledgements section of Hyacinth

CONGRATS KELLI!

And huge thanks to everyone who submitted or voted in the contest. This was a lot of fun to run and I’ll definitely have to do another one for book #3 in the series.

Vote On Your Favorite Finalist (Hyacinth Name a Character Contest)

Update 10/22 Voting closed. For details on the winner click here.
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Time to vote on the winner!!!

A huge thank you to all the people who submitted ideas for the Hyacinth Name a Character Contest (more details here for a review of the contest). I had a ton of fun reading through these and picturing each name and description with the character I have in mind. I have selected the top 5 finalists that I feel best go with the character.  Below is the character description and the finalists.

Voting is now open to all my readers. Please vote for your favorite by October 21st (post a comment on this blog, email me, leave a message on Facebook – whatever method you like best). I’ll post the final winner by the 22nd!

Character Description (spoiler alerts):
A male Vyusher in his 20s – a good one (at least to start). The son of one of the High Council members. A rival love interest for one of my main female characters. Personality will be very charming and outgoing. Very likable. Superpower will be the ability to turn himself invisible.

Finalists:
In no particular order the 5 finalists are:

Finalist #1 (submitted by Kelli):
Name: Desmond Alexander O’Moore
Nicknames: Nicknames include Dez and Alex
Description: Hes about 6’2ʺ golden tan hair that waves it long enough to slick back but not past his ears and one piece that always falls into his eyes he has a surfers body not to full of and is always tanned he has the face of an aristocratic eyes of a sea green that notice every little detail and pearly white perfectly straight teeth and a set of aways pouting lips

Finalist #2 (submitted by Jocelyn):
Name: Sebastian Lucas
Nickname: Seb
Description: Tall with light brown hair, brown eyes that always look like they’re laughing. Golden tan. Turns into a light brown wolf.

Finalist #3 (submitted by Teresa):
Name: Jacob Matherton
Nickname: Jake
Description: I picture him with sun bleached blond hair and blue eyes. Good looking, but in a boy next door/very friendly sort of way. Broad shoulders tapering to narrow hips and washboard abs. He can be both a guy’s guy and still be sensitive enough to be friends with girls. Very perceptive.

Finalist #4 (submitted by Kayla):
Name: Byron Kessler
Description: Medium brown hair and hazel eyes. Very handsome. I’ve read that you really like Star Wars – so think Han Solo/young Harrison Ford in looks. Sarcastic sense of humor, and super confident.

Finalist #5 (submitted by Grace):
Name: Dorian Jonas
Description: Jet black hair, dark brown eyes. Laugh lines around his eyes. Dimples that deepen when he smiles. I’m thinking an Eddie Cibrian look-alike. Hard to take him seriously, but with Selene he’ll get real.

Okay folks – tell me which one you like best!

A Book Title With Meaning

Coming up with the titles for my books has been one of my favorite exercises so far. The title is one element of my books I did not research extensively like I have most of my self-publishing tasks. I based my title selection solely on personal preference.

I was very deliberate about selecting the title for Blue Violet. I knew that it would be the first of a series of four books. I wanted to make sure to select a title that would jive well with the other three titles. Personally I prefer titles that are on the shorter side but that also provide for good visuals for the book cover. And obviously the title has to have something to do with the book itself.

“Twilight” for example was a great title in my opinion.  It was short and memorable, provided lots of options for graphics, is a lovely word to say, fit the book, and led to other titles in the series that kept with the theme. So those were my parameters going into picking my titles…

For Blue Violet I started with book content. I could easily gone with a title about supernatural powers, shape shifters, telepaths, or drag– (ah-hem… I won’t spoil that part for folks who haven’t had a chance to read it yet). But I found that a lot of titles in my genre already had something about those topics in them. So my book wouldn’t stand out. I also didn’t want to be too literal.

So then I started thinking of what could represent some of the concepts in my book. That’s when I came up with the idea of flowers. Many of you who’ve read Blue Violet might have missed the following description which is located on the page before chapter 1 starts:

“All flowers have a meaning. In the Victorian era, people used flowers as symbols to express their feelings. 
blue violet: watchfulness, faithfulness, I’ll always be true”

I love the idea of the flower I select for the title having a meaning that fits the book. Flowers have lovely names that are memorable. They offer several options for graphics. In addition, I could tie all the books in the series together by the titles. This idea fit my original parameters perfectly.

I spent quite a bit of time hunting through various meanings for flowers, making sure they were flowers that would work visually for the cover, and narrowing down the list to ones I felt fit the book. Some of the options I considered for Blue Violet included:

– Larkspur (an open heart)
– Edelweiss (courage and daring)
– Acacia (hidden love)
– Queen Anne’s Lace (fantasy)

The second book in the series – which is Griffin’s book if you haven’t found that out yet – will be titled “Hyacinth” which means dedicated to Apollo, loveliness, and sorrow. I couldn’t have invented a more perfect title if I tried. As soon as I found that one, I knew it was the title for his book.

Books 3 & 4 of the series I’m still deciding on. I won’t tell you which character is the focus is of each of those books. But I will share some of the titles I’m considering.

– Nightshade (truth)
– Anemone (fading hope, forsaken, anticipation)
– Red Camellia (you’re a flame in my heart)
– Columbine (deserted love)
– Jonquil (violent sympathy, love me)
– Lotus (mystery & truth)
– Primrose (I can’t live without you)
– Snapdragon (strength, deception)
– Gardenia (I love you in secret)
– Forget-Me-Not (faithful love, memories)

What do you think? Can you guess who they’re for? Which do you like best?

I will leave it to my readers to agree or not on if I selected the right flowers for Blue Violet, Hyacinth and the other two when they come out. I still love the concept, and the titles I’ve picked so far. So that’s a good start!

 

My 1st Free Kindle Promotion: How I “Sold” 6000 Books in 2 Days

I’ve just finished running my first free promotion on Kindle. Here are my initial thoughts on the experience (which far, far, far exceeded my expectations)…

First of all – huge thanks to everyone who took advantage of the promotion and downloaded the book. I hope you enjoy it! And also a huge thanks to those who listed me, retweeted me, shared my FB link, etc. I really appreciate it!

So – about the promotion… When I published my first book, Blue Violet, via Amazon Kindle I decided to sign up for the KDP Select program.  This program means that for the digital content of my book I exclusively publish on Amazon Kindle for three months. But with the program come several perks. One of those perks – and the biggest reason I signed up for the program – was the 5 free promotional days.

How It Works…
First – pick the days: I get to pick the days and can spread them out however I like. You manage it via KDP and Amazon automatically turns it on/off for you. Most of my research indicated that the best way was to do it in groups of 2-3 days at a time. So I decided to do Friday/Saturday this past week. I’ll do my remaining 3 days at the end of November all grouped together.

Second – get the word out: With a little research you can find tons of lists on where/how to promote your free days. There are a boat load of blogs out there dedicated to listing book promos that you can get listed on for free. I also announced via several Twitter feeds and Facebook sites. A little work up front goes a long, long way. If you want more details on this, contact me or comment on this post, and I’m happy to go into more details.

The Goal…
My goal was to reach more readers and to get word of my book out there. What I didn’t think about though were the side benefits like capturing more Facebook followers, email disti list requests, Likes for my book on Amazon, and the boost to my Amazon ranking. With the rapid sales, my book got pushed to the top of the search and best sellers lists (temporarily) making it more visible to potential readers during the promotion.

My Results…
As I mentioned, my results far exceeded my expectations. I had gone into this with low expectations, figuring I’d be very happy if I hit 500 in sales. By 10am on Friday (the promo starts at midnight) I had sold 117, so I figured I was right on track to that. But by 3pm sales were ticking over at about one a minute. I was at around 800 by the time I went to bed on Friday.

On Saturday I was thrilled to see that I’d topped 1000. I have class on Saturdays (I’m in an MBA program) and by the time class ended at 2pm I’d sold about 1700. I didn’t check again until around 4:30pm and was shocked to see that it had rocketed to 3500. After that I watched it tick over at about 5-10 books downloaded every minute until I went to bed.

Final count… 6157 total sold (5934 US, 175 UK, 47 Denmark, 1 Italy) !!!!!!

In addition… I got more likes (jumped from 7 to 35). I had about twenty new people start following me either on Facebook, my blog, or my email disti list. And my Amazon ranking really jumped up. I had hovered around 18000-20000 (out of one-some-odd-million I believe) since the release. With this promotion I peaked at #26 in general Kindle books and #11 in Kindle romance books (free list).

Holy smokes!!!

Now, I am not so naive as to expect that all 6157 people will read the book. I am assuming that they likely download tons of free books and don’t get to all of them. But if only 10% end up reading the book (around 600), and 10% of those become repeat readers (around 60), the promotion has definitely done it’s job.

Needless to say I am thrilled! Will I do the KDP Select program again? Absolutely. This feature alone is worth it.

Look for me to run a 3 day free promotion for Blue Violet November 16-18th. And, depending on when I get Hyacinth finished and published, the first promo for that book should come in March or April some time.

Hyacinth Name a Character Contest

UPDATE 10/22 – Voting closed. To see details on the winning entry click here.

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UPDATE 10/18 – Finalists Posted. Check them out here and please vote for your favorite!

*****
ORIGINAL POST
Trying out something a little on the fun side…

THE CONTEST:
One of my readers gets to come up with the name and physical description of a new character in the Svatura series who will be introduced in Book #2 – Hyacinth. This is a character who will run through the rest of the series.

PRIZES:
The winner will receive…

– A $25 Gift Certificate for Amazon.com
– A FREE autographed print copy of BLUE VIOLET
– A FREE digital copy of HYACINTH prior to release
– A thank you in my acknowledgements section of Hyacinth

Winner may also be featured on this website and other Abigail Owen and Svatura Series advertisements around the web.

THE RULES/YOUR SUBMISSION:
1. Read the below description of the character and submit your proposed name (may include first, last, previous, and/or nicknames). Also include a proposed physical description that you think goes with the name and the character.
2. Submit your entry one of 3 ways:

You may submit multiple entries.

3. All entries must be submitted by October 15th, 2012 at 11:59pm
4. I’ll select my top 5 and post them on Facebook Oct 16th to let my readers vote on the winner
5. Winner will be announced October 20th by 10:00pm.

Character (spoiler alerts): A male Vyusher in his 20s – a good one (at least to start). The son of one of the High Council members. A rival love interest for one of my main female characters. Personality will be very charming and outgoing. Very likable. Superpower will be the ability to turn himself invisible.

Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!!!

***Disclaimer: By entering this contest you retain no rights to the character or books.

Developing My Characters

My first reviews for Blue Violet have been coming in lately, and so far feedback frequently centers around my characters. Here are a few excerpts from reviews:

“The characters are flawed enough not to be irritating, particularly Ellie, who is an ideal heroine – strong, stubborn and loving.”
– Kirsty http://kvlovesbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

“I grew really attached to all the characters, and I love all of them.”
– Cara http://readingpassion03.blogspot.com/

“What IS different – and most refreshing – about BLUE VIOLET is Ellie Aubrey. Where TWILIGHT’s Bella is weak, clumsy, and insecure, Ellie is strong, confident, and courageous. Bella is the perennial damsel in distress, but Ellie is a heroine, leading her people, teaching them, and risking everything to save them from destruction. I admire Ellie. She is exactly the kind of young woman that can inspire teen readers to be self-confident and brave.”
– Kathy, Amazon Top 500 Reviewer http://www.amazon.com/review/R125EY5J68GCT8/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B009084KV8&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=

I’ve had several readers ask me if a character is modeled off of a specific person, or even off of myself. My answer is yes… and no. No one character is entirely me or entirely someone I know. But there are bits and pieces scattered throughout.

I will admit that a bit of myself can be found in every single character in some way or other. Sometimes it’s very much me. For example, I am naturally introverted. So when I write Adelaide I put that aspect of myself into her. Any time I mention a character liking Star Wars, reading, running, skydiving, or chocolate… that is 100% me coming through. Sometimes a character displays a characteristic that I wish I had. Ellie, for example, has an innate sense of self confidence. I frequently have to fake mine.

Many of my characters have small parts of people I know in them. For example, Ellie is strong because she has an optimistic and open personality. Both of my two closest friends from high school and college have this quality, and it’s something I’ve always admired in them. Griffin has a very deliberate and sometimes cautious personality, which is a little bit my husband, and a lot my son. Another trait I find endearing.

I’ve heard that some authors will map out their character entirely before writing a book. They’ll answer a series of questions that helps them to determine every aspect of that character – background, history, personality, looks, etc.  I don’t tend to do this. However, I will keep track of little details – nervous habits, funny preferences for foods or movies, anything I’ve mentioned along those lines so that I keep those things unique to the character. Sometimes, if I’m struggling with a character, I will do a little question and answer time just to get my imagination going. But most of the time they develop fairly organically.

When I read I tend to prefer scenes that are heavy with character development and character interaction. Consequently, these also tend to be my favorite scenes to write. I guess that’s coming through. I’ve been so thrilled to received feedback that people love my characters. I hope to continue to write compelling characters in my next books!

How To Publish a Print Version of A Book

Once I had published my debut novel, Blue Violet, on Kindle, I thought that the bulk of the publishing work was behind me. However, I underestimated two things: the number of people who still prefer print and how long it would take me to get the print version published.

I always planned on publishing a print version of the book. But I wasted precious time making some mistakes along the way. For other first-time self publishing writers out there, as well as for my own memory-refresher when I publish the next book, here are some key points about publishing the print version of the book.

I published the print version through CreateSpace.com which is an “On Demand” printing service affiliated with Amazon. On Demand means that no one carries inventory. They print as each individual order is placed.  The cost of that is built into the cost of the book itself.

Here are the main areas that took more time than I anticipated or where I made mistakes…

1. Formatting the Text
After you spend all that time formatting the text for the Kindle version of your book, you get to do it again. This time you have to account for things like the margins where the spine of the book falls.  Luckily, the site provides a template for you to use, and they also provide guidelines. The tricky part is that if you make any edits to your book after you’ve formatted you now get to either make those changes to both versions. Or re-format for print yet again. Hopefully you don’t have any changes to make after you format for print.

2. Book Cover
CreateSpace has a great Cover Designer tool. It has a bunch of different layouts that you can then adjust how you want. I already had a cover design that I wanted to use. It took me a full round of printed proof with a generic cover before I figured out that some of the options would work for my already created cover. I used the “Spruce” layout which allowed me to use my custom cover image on the front and then had formatting to choose from for the spine and back cover. Keep in mind that the dimensions for the cover image for print are different than the Kindle cover dimensions. So you’ll need to create a separate version of that image. But it worked great once I figured it all out!

3. Proof
The tool has an online proofing tool which let’s you know if there are major errors or issues with the book layout that you need to fix. Once you are done (or think you are) with all your formatting it takes the CreateSpace folks about a day (a little less most times) to approve the book before you can review the official proof. If you have to make any changes after that it’s easy to make changes to your previous submission, bu they have to review and approve all over again.

I highly suggest you get a printed proof to check out as well. You’ll catch things you might not have. For instance I forgot to update my table of contents page #s for the print version and so it didn’t match the actual page #s. I had to fix that before publishing. It takes about a week to get the printed proof and costs a few bucks.

4. Time to Publish on Amazon
It wasn’t really obvious to me that I had finished all the steps. There’s not a “Publish” button that you click. There’s a great checklist of “To Dos” and once you do approve the final proof and turn all the checks in the list green, you’re done. But it then takes a few days before the link to the book works. It can take 5 to 7 business days before you can search for the book on Amazon and find it. And it can take up to four weeks or so before all of the various features on the Amazon page work. For example, the Look Inside feature. And the system should automatically link the Kindle and Print versions for you, but that may take time.

The link for a print version once it’s working is http://www.amazon.com/dp/XXXXXXXXXX (the 10 digit ISBN #)

A couple of other things to be aware of… The tool assigns an ISBN for you as part of the service. You get to pick your distribution channels (Amazon and CreateSpace are free, some additional channels are for a fee). You set your own pricing by region and it’s very clear what the minimum is and what your royalties will be per book.

Also… you can apparently have CreateSpace create the Kindle version of the book for you. Since I did this in backwards order I’m not sure how well that feature works, but it’s an option to be aware of.

After all of that… for the print book lovers out there… the print version of Blue Violet is now available! You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1479161942!!!