Book Trailers and Animated Ads – Do They Work?

Lonen’s War is on sale for .99₵! If you haven’t read it – or if you’ve been bugging your friends to give it a try 😉 – this is the perfect time to grab a copy.

I’m doing this in part to celebrate my good news: THE PAGES OF THE MIND and THE EDGE OF THE BLADE are both finalists in the fantasy category of the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal (FFP) PRISM Award! It’s always a thrill to be a finalist, but with two books in there, I have my fingers crossed that maybe I’ll get one of these:

Only with, yanno, MY name and book on it! A girl can dream.

Marketing: Book Trailers, Vine Vids, and Gifs: Can/Would/Could Animated Ads Work For You? I’m also asking readers if these kinds of things work for them. Come on over to the SFF Seven for more. 

Getting More Facebook Likes

001This pic didn’t come out as well as I would have wished, because Jackson was moving so fast. But he’s perched on the back of a chair next to my treadmill desk, methodically swiping things to the floor so I’ll pay attention to him. Funny cat.

Before I forget, I’m teaching an online writing workshop starting next week, on October 18: Defying Gravity: Writing Cross-Genre and Succeeding Anyway. This is for my longtime online home chapter, the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA (FFP).

Genre definitions have a profound influence on writers’ careers. From the first queries where we must specify the book’s genre to long-term decisions about pursuing or giving up on a “dead” genre, dealing with what feels like a false construct is a necessary skill. However, following our hearts and inspiration often means tossing aside these considerations.

Or chopping them to pieces in a murderous rage.

But shedding conventions can be what sets a book apart. That’s what takes a writer’s career from midlist to break-out. So… how do you know? More—how do we find the courage to embrace a bold move?

In Wicked, the heroine Elphaba is faced with that crucial decision, of whether to choose the safe path or to risk flying on her own. This workshop will explore genre definitions and how Jeffe Kennedy went from being a “Crack Ho” – being told that her work fell in the cracks between genres – to receiving a nomination for Book of the Year and an RT Seal of Excellence for the one title each month that stands out from all the rest by an innovative twist on a familiar story or pushing genre boundaries. Participants will discuss their experiences with genre—both coloring inside the lines and stepping across them—and will leave inspired to take risks and follow their hearts.

Everyone deserves a chance to fly!

I’m teaching this by special request, so it should be big fun. 🙂

While that workshop is about breaking away from market considerations, I want to talk a bit about promoting books on social media. This is something authors are forced to think about, whether they want to or not. Accordingly, there’s tons of advice out there on the topic, Rule #1 of which tends to be along the lines of “Get More Followers!”

Recently one of my published author email loops went bananas with people offering to trade Facebook likes – as in, you like my page and I’ll like yours. They did the same with following on Twitter.

I think this is a really bad idea.

Sure, the numbers go up, which apparently satisfies Rule #1. But it’s not real. Worse, it creates a false idea of your social media reach.

Let me caveat before I go on that I’m friends with and following/followed by LOTS of authors. Hell, I’m writing this blog post for authors. Nothing at all wrong with that. In fact, networking with other authors can be important for building community and career opportunities.

However – creating a trade system with other authors to like one another’s pages does three things: It skews our lists to the wrong people, possibly diminishes our reach to real readers and skews our own perceptions.

Skewing our lists to the wrong people

We all know Facebook is a mystical bog of smoke and mirrors. They really want us to pay money to get followers to see our posts, so they mess with our reach. We try to game the system. They game it right back. It’s an eternal battle to be seen, on top of the usual discoverability battle. This may be growing more true of Twitter also. The only thing we can be sure of is that only a portion of our followers will see a given post. If all of our followers are people who are there because they’re interested in our books, at least that portion who sees a post will be them! If a portion of our followers are from reciprocal author trades … guess what?

Diminishing our reach to real readers

Yes, yes, yes – people will always argue that writers are readers, too. Of course we are! And, sure, I’ll like the pages of authors I want to keep track of. But that’s entirely because I want to, not through a trade. A trade isn’t organic. See above. We want people to follow and like us because they are ACTUALLY INTERESTED in our books. This might be more difficult, but they’ll be real followers. See below.

Skewing our own perceptions

As nice as it may be to look at our profiles and see hundreds or thousands of followers, as lovely an ego stroke as that may be, if a whole bunch of those are from author reciprocal trades, then it means nothing. Worse, it allows us to kid ourselves that we’re doing well in expanding our reach when we’re not. It’s a pleasant little fantasy and there’s no room for that in running a business. On the other hand, gaining *real* followers is a good measure of success – and one to be proud of.

Let’s get those real followers, people! Oh, and my Facebook author page is here.

What??? I *had* to give that a go. 😉

The Talon of the Hawk Release Day!

the talon of the hawk Lots and lots going on today!

WOW.

First off…2015PrismFinalist

THE TALON OF THE HAWK IS FINALLY OUT!!!

People have been saying they’ve been looking forward to Ursula’s story since The Mark of the Tala first hit the shelves. Speaking of which, that book just finaled in Fantasy for FFP’s PRISM award

Woo hoo!!!Negotiation

In celebration of release day of The Talon of the Hawk, I’m also releasing the prequel story, Negotiation, as an ebook – and setting it free for a week!! This was previously in the Thunder on the Battlefield anthology. Download a copy! 🙂

Smashwords

Amazon

Kobo

Google Play

Finally, I’m everywhere at once today. I’m at the Contemporary Romance Cafe, talking about the intersection of fantasy and contemporary psychology. Also, I’m at Here Be Magic, talking about why we need more superheroines.

The Talon of the Hawk

A HEAVY CROWN
Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.
Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other-that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Request a digital review copy

Available May 26, 2015

 

Writing Sexytimes and Other Important Pursuits

3_17 2This was from a few weeks ago – the full moon setting into a sunrise-pinkened bank of clouds. So beautiful.

Just a  reminder that my online workshop, Writing Sexytimes in Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Stories, will start on Monday, April 7! If you missed the description earlier, this is it:

Sex is a fundamental human experience and arguably the most powerful. The intimacy of sexual interaction can elevate the tension, emotion and visceral impact of most any story. But how do sex scenes best function in the speculative fiction genres?

This class will cover the basic of adding vivid, sensual and heart-pounding sexytimes to any story. In particular, students will explore examples of sex scenes that enhance the world-building and fantastic elements of any speculative fiction tale. Finally, writers will come away with tools for using sexytimes to enhance and build unique excitement in their worlds. Students will be able to submit short scenes to the instructor or the group for feedback

I’ve had a few questions from various people,, so I wanted to put some answers here, in case others were wondering. No, you don’t have to be an FFP or even an RWA member to take the class. Everyone is welcome. You need access to email and that’s about it. If you’re reading this, you probably have that part handled. 🙂

Also, you do not have to be very far in your writing career. I’m going to try to set this up to work for writers at all levels. We’ll spend a fair amount of time studying what others have done in the genre, so we’ll approach quite a bit from the reading perspective, too. If you’re not ready to share your work, that’s just fine! There will be exercises, but no grades. :mrgreen: So if you want to simply lurk, that’s cool. You can always work on exercises, etc., whenever you’re ready to.

You can register via this link.

I’m very excited to see how this works! It should be big fun. I have other workshops that I’ve put together, listed here. I’ll be doing the Walking that Consent Line Workshop in June and I just committed to doing the Sexual Tension – Getting Away from Wham, Bam, Thank you, Ma’am and Sex as a Tool for Character Transformation in 2015. 

Also, after some conversation on Twitter yesterday, I’m thinking of adding one on managing writing time. Let me know if you think you’d be interested in that.

 Happy Friday everyone!

~dances around with Rebecca Black hair~

More Jeffe! News on Workshops and Pitch Opportunities

026I love how I’m patiently posing for the picture while Carolyn Crane is mugging away beside me.

This was at Ten Thousand Waves and we were all squidgy with relaxation from soaking in the hot tub. Carolyn visited me this last week from Friday to Tuesday and it was so much fun spending time with her. We also hatched Secret Plots that we’re very excited about!

Just you wait.

So, I have some newsy things today. First of all, all y’all who’ve been asking for me to teach a workshop on smexytimes and/or folding origami table lamps? I’m ready! In fact, I have two workshops lined up for you this spring!

These are hot off the press, so the listings may not have come up yet, but here’s the two scheduled so far.

Writing Sexytimes in Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Stories

FFP – April 7-20 – http://www.romance-ffp.com/category/workshops

Sex is a fundamental human experience and arguably the most powerful. The intimacy of sexual interaction can elevate the tension, emotion and visceral impact of most any story. But how do sex scenes best function in the speculative fiction genres?

 This class will cover the basic of adding vivid, sensual and heart-pounding sexytimes to any story. In particular, students will explore examples of sex scenes that enhance the world-building and fantastic elements of any speculative fiction tale. Finally, writers will come away with tools for using sexytimes to enhance and build unique excitement in their worlds. Students will be able to submit short scenes to the instructor or the group for feedback.

 
Walking that Consent Line

Romance Writers of America, San Diego Chapter – June 2-13 – http://rwasd.com/training/index.html

BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Submission/Sadism, Masochism) and kidnap/captivity stories are all the rage. But why? Is it all just a kinky fad? No! These questionable consent/loss of control stories are about a deeper, darker aspect of human nature. One that taps into both psychological and story dynamite.

In this class, students will learn where the lines of consent, questionable consent and non-consent lie – and also which genres tolerate how much line-crossing. The role of the reader in giving consent will be examined and students will learn techniques for mining the tension around those lines. Finally, the concepts of redemption and what exactly can be forgiven will be explored. Writers will be able to submit short scenes to the instructor or the group for feedback.

These will both be online workshops, conducted via email loops. I’m really excited to be teaching them!

ALSO, there’s a great online pitch opportunity coming up for those aspiring writers out there. I’ll be one of the author mentors helping you polish that pitch for the fabulous agents who will be participating in NESTPITCH. Check out today’s post to guess who’s hiding behind the Secret Agent Bunny Masks – and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card! I may know who one of them is, which should be a CLUE for those keeping score at home.

Drafy Nest Pich Logo stg 3Good luck everyone and Happy Friday!

Does Writing Faster Mean Cutting Out the Art?

001During my travels last week, I stayed with a friend of many years, Kristine Krantz (aka KAK). She blogs on the Word Whores with me and also writes fantasy. We met via the RWA online chapter FF&P, sometime back in the vicinity of 2009. We became critique partners and friends.

At that time, we were both in the same place – shopping these fantasy novels we’d written and hoped to sandwich into some pre-cut genre somewhere. Though my path was hardly a straight-line – no A-ticket Cinderella ride for me – mine has gone faster than hers. She’s still “pre-pubbed” or whatever euphemism you’d like to slap onto that vicious purgatory of waiting for the market to catch up to your genius. I know this is a hard place to be, because I’ve been there. Another friend and sister Word Whore, Allison Pang, who I met at the same time and in the same way, also shopping a like novel, did manage to pull the A-ticket and full Cinderella ride.

(The moral of our three paths, by the way, is that none is strewn with rose petals and nobody, so far as I know, has received a sparkle pony life companion.)

At any rate, (I’m sure by now KAK has scanned ahead to find out just what the hell I plan to say about her) KAK invited me to stay at her house while I attended the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together. This turned out to be an unexpected delight because we spent many hours on her delicious screened back porch, overlooking her park-like back yard, while we worked on writerly things and talked.

There’s something truly restorative about rambling conversations on writing and publishing with like-minded friend who’s as keenly interested in the minutiae as you are. Though we see each other on IM, the conversations only go so far. I also realized, as we talked, that I haven’t been updating her regularly on all of my “business.” It’s a funny thing – as you get into dealing with Published Author World, you tend to talk most to people in the same tangle. I don’t *think* I ditched my pre-pub buddy, but we’ve been working on really different things. And, as you faithful readers know, my life has been moving really fast lately.

In fact, she FINALLY (hee hee hee) completed a monstrous revision of her epic fantasy novel. “Revision” is probably a misnomer because she really wrote a whole new novel with the same world and characters. I feel quite a bit of guilty responsibility for this since I was the one to give the crit that triggered the massive rewrite.

She says she doesn’t blame me.

But it took her a long time to do this. Meanwhile I’ve been working fast. It’s nice for her to be able to do this, because she has the luxury of time right now. We know you pre-pub authors get sick of hearing this from us – we got sick of hearing it, too – but writing before contract is REALLY different than writing for contract and under deadline. We know it’s not nostalgia-worthy since being in that hem-tugging, please-see-me stage of publication wears on the soul, but having the luxury of time is something we look back on fondly. Also the lack of expectations.

KAK and I had this conversation. She mentioned that she’d noticed me blogging about writing books I sold on spec and how it feels different. I said, yes, that it feels like another kind of writing altogether. For me it means:

  1. I have to form a plan ahead of time, because selling on spec means I sell the concept and THEN write the book. This is not a natural pattern for me.
  2. Writing a story you’ve “pre-sold” to an editor creates this lens where I feel like I’m writing FOR the editor. That person is very firmly in my mind, because they are now the primary recipient of my story. I haven’t decided if this is good or bad.
  3. There is a firm external deadline. I have to plan ahead – by a year or more, in some cases – to ensure I have the time to write and revise the way I want to.

This last is crucial because, as I rambled on the topic, KAK nodded and said, yes, you write faster and cut out the art.

Which I’ve been mulling ever since.

Because I don’t think that’s true. I can totally see why it would seem that way. There is certainly not the time to lovingly tweak and polish every bit. There is, also, a definite sense of creating a product that fits a particular expectation (see #2 above). However, I don’t feel like I’m cutting out the art.

Maybe this is self-delusion, because I really HOPE I’m not cutting out the art.

I definitely have not managed to short-cut the suffering. Writing a book faster is no less painful than writing it slowly. It’s more that I am more efficient about it. Some of this is experience. I know by now where I’m going to bog down and how I’m going to feel about it – and I’m quite a bit more ruthless about pushing through it. I don’t have time to wander for weeks through the Enchanted Forest (see last Friday’s post, if you have no idea what I’m referring to). I’ve BEEN through that stinking forest and now I just take the direct – and sometimes arduous – path straight through to the Fountain of Story.

I think it’s less cutting out some of the art and more knowing how to pack the art in there. Like really experienced travelers can pack for a two-week trip in 30 minutes and not forget a thing. You just get good at it.

Mainly because you have to.

Speaking of which, I have a novella due on Saturday and just shy of 9K to go to finish.

See you on the flip side!

 

Fantasy Romance and Professional PJs

Thursday at conference ended up being Fantasy day for me. Not sure how that worked out, but there it is.

First thing in the morning, I met up with the agents for breakfast. Actually – before that I ran on the fancee treadmills at the hotel, which let me gaze out on palm trees. You know how I am about palm trees! In fact, I’m creating a blog label for palm trees. So there. I ran on the treadmill on Wednesday, too, and went to Starbucks for my skinny latte after. On Wednesday I had both the fitness center and Starbucks to myself. On Thursday? Whoa! I barely wedged myself in.

So, I already mentioned that this agent contacted me before the conference, to set up a meet to talk. The night before, a senior agent with her agency stopped by my table at the literacy signing, introduced herself, and said she’d be coming along for breakfast. It was very fun to meet up and hear what they had to say. I was joking with people that I wasn’t pitching at this conference – I was taking pitches. For all of you who have been in the trenches with me, being nervous about those pitch appointments, pinning so much hope on them, I’m sure you know how delightful this felt.

We talked about my favorite subject – me and my work – for an hour. Senior agent was great and said she’d be mentoring younger agent. And I really liked the gal who eventually said she was officially offering to represent me. She really groks what I write, which is the most important thing to me. Senior agent said she really sees Fantasy Romance as a genre on the rise and they’d like to make me the Queen of Fantasy Romance.

Hell, where’s my tiara?

Obviously this was a great way to start the day! I attended the PAN retreat and learned a lot of interesting things about the market. At the Carina Press spotlight, Angela James mentioned Rogue’s Pawn – and how Fantasy Romance is getting more attention. She, and several other people, said Rogue’s Pawn had been discussed at breakfast and there was lots of good buzz swirling about it.

Whee!

That night was the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FFP). The hotel staff were just great helping us with this party – and seemed terribly amused by our costumes, as above. All the pics I’ve seen of that night so far are dark and blurry. Must have been all that magic in the air. We did a costume contest, the PRISM awards and had a fabulous time overall. Such a fun party, every year.

After, I switched into my pajamas for Harlequin’s PJ Party, which started at 9. I stayed to watch the Disney fireworks from our room, so I made it there a bit late. WHY I didn’t take pics, I don’t know! But everyone really wore pajamas and it was just a kick. They had candy – like M&Ms and cherry sours – and potato chips with warm blue cheese sauce to put on the side. I seriously felt like we should start making crank phone calls.

Tomorrow will be final wrap-up!

The Tale of the Attack Cupcake

Thanks to the hysterically funny Victoria Dahl for this pic of me at the Harlequin party. Yes, this was well after midnight. I still like it.

I talked a little bit about the RWA Conference on Word Whores on Sunday. I’ll keep filling in with the stories this week. But since I already started with the Harlequin party on Word Whores, I’ll finish telling you all about that.

So, I headed over to the Harlequin party late. This is because I was at The Gathering through the PRISM ceremony. (Petals and Thorns took second place – alas no trophy for me! It was still a way fun party.) I dashed out of there, changed clothes, and went down to the taxi stand. The bell captain was loading another group of gals into a cab, so I waited. This pretty young woman walked up to me and asked if I was going to the Harlequin party and would I like to share a cab. We laugh, because we’re both dressed in black and white, so the “going to the HQ Black & White Ball” is such an obvious flag. I am, of course, delighted to share the taxi ride.

She introduces herself: Nalini Singh.

Yeah – way famous, mega selling author Nailini. And, it turns out, nicest person in the world.

We chat on the ride. When we get to the Waldorf-Astoria, she sticks with me and introduces me to people. I got pulled away at one point and lost her. Later I ran into her again and I apologized for poofing. She laughs and says that’s how these parties are. Then she asks if everyone is being nice to me.

Everyone was so great to me.

This party was AMAZING. The DJ played every girl power song you can think of while everyone danced barefoot or in our party-favor Harlequin footy socks. I had a mini-chocolate eclair with gold leaf on it. The coffee stations had bottles of liqueur lined up to be added to your cup at will. I drank flute after flute of champagne. There were stations manned by handsome young men where you could build your own ice cream cone or cupcake.

After lots of dancing, I decided I deserved a cupcake. I chose a red velvet cupcake and the handsome young man swirled cream cheese frosting on it with a pastry bag, then added my choice of chocolate shavings. It was a thing of beauty.

Proudly I carried it, and my champagne up to this balcony area. There I see Candy Havens. We hug. We chat. I feel my plate wobble. We both watch my special cupcake tumble from the plate and splat, icing-down, on the carpet.

We start to giggle. Yeah, who invited us to the fancy party?

I recover and reach to pick it up, but even as I do, this woman facing away from us, taking a photograph, takes a step back to position herself. Candy and I watch in impotent horror as her stiletto heel impales the crumpled cupcake, then rides off with her as she strides away.

We totally lost it. Gasping with laughter, we are unable to stop her, to tell her. She disappears into the crowd.

And, of course, because we were laughing so hard, I hadn’t picked up the frosting splat before another bare-footed guest stepped squarely in it.

Alas.

Oh, and I did get another cupcake. After I cleaned up the first.

I sat down to eat it.