Author Excerpts (Video)

My friend Laura Howard is starting a fun new video series. She, an author, and a book blogger get together on a Google Hangout; the author reads an excerpt from their book (typically the first chapter, I believe) and afterwards, she and the blogger ask questions and offer up their expectations of the book based on said excerpt. Lucky for me, I was her first guinea pig! Laura and I got together with the awesome Tobi Helton of Forget the Housework, I’m Reading book blog to talk about Gifted, A Donovan Circus Novel.

I’ve never done video before, but this was super fun and I’m looking forward to doing more of them. I read a short opener of the first chapter of GIFTED. Afterwards, they asked me questions about the book and I even went into a little bit about the series itself. In case you want to watch this short (11 min) video, I wanted to share it with you!

I’m also interested in doing more videos like these, both with authors and readers, so if you have any ideas and would like to participate, I’m totally game! 🙂

Get It Together: Your Amazon Author Page

Let’s talk about a great marketing tool that’s right at your fingertips: your Amazon author page. 

There are several ways to enhance your Amazon author page. Let’s also go ahead and assume you’re going to use these same techniques for a Barnes & Noble author page – in any case, you need to be sure you’re using every tool you have available to ensure your readers can not only find your books, but find your other stuff too. Along with your website, your author page is one of the few places that readers can see ALL your stuff in one place.

Not only does the author page showcase your titles (including ebook and paperback, plus audio if you have it), you can display your other marketing weapons. Your bio, social media pages, Twitter and blog updates and video book trailers if you have them (let’s assume you do). You can also encourage folks to “Like” your Amazon page, just like they would with Facebook.

One of the best parts of the author page is that readers can sign up to be notified when you have a new release. This is great because it’s a built in resource – not only do you have a potential customer, but it might be one that isn’t on your newsletter list or hasn’t kept up with you on other forms of social media. Amazon takes care of it for you with a quick email to them. Pretty savvy, no?

I also really like the “Customers Also Bought Items By” because readers who land on your author page can see authors with similar titles. Not only could YOU, the author, visit those author pages to see their work and read customer reviews (i.e., find a potential list of reviewers for your own title due to similar interests), but your name can be listed in other author pages, too. It’s another way for readers to find you if they’re perusing for reads that they think they’ll enjoy. I mean, they enjoyed AUTHOR X, so why not try out one of your books if they’re in the same field?

Even if you’re still building your book list and/or only have one title, Amazon is going to give you this author page for your own use. Why not make it as informative as possible? It’s surprising how many authors don’t use this page as a marketing tool – if you’re not, I highly recommend you go ahead and build it. It’s another free resource that will only enhance your online author presence.

Author “Swag” – Goodies, Giveaways, and More at Your Signings

I hate the term “swag” so bear with me here. I wanted to show off a couple little things that I’ve added to my list of goodies for upcoming signings. I also wanted curious authors to see my signing table as this is what it’ll typically look like. While you should of course figure out what works for you, I know this table is: easy for me to set up, inexpensive to maintain, and looks super cute with my circus theme (I’m biased, so sue me). A lot of authors also have banners and cover boards, which is great and adds a lot of flavor to your area. I’m a big fan and we use those for work all the time. I’m working on a tight budget however, so for now, this setup will do me just fine.

Liz Long Book Signing Table

Book Signing Table (taken at Viva La Cupcake, April 2014)

You can see I have my little goodies strewn about for those who wander by, but that’s not even the most important part of the table. I’ve also included a fun carnival sign in addition to my velvety black table fabric; displayed my books for passersby to see; a fun top hat for good measure; price sheet for interested readers; and – here’s the big one – a newsletter signup sheet that anyone can sign up for so that I may contact them later.

In addition to the fun little stuff you could take home, I also had business cards, rack cards that double as bookmarks, and a bucket full of peanuts that you can snack on while we chat! Each book buyer also gets a free custom tote bag (see photo below). Also, for those of you wondering how to accept payment, I use both cash and the Square app that allows me to accept readers’ credit cards. Super handy and convenient, and vital in this day and age (because I know I rarely carry cash on me). I also offer a $25 gift card to one random book buyer – another great way to get them to sign up for your newsletter.

My items were obviously mustache-themed (to go with Sheffield Donovan’s ringmaster ‘stache).

  • Pencils
  • Keychains
  • Straws
  • Nail files
  • Mints (both mustache wrapper ones and red-and-white-striped)
  • Temporary tattoos (probably my favorite of the bunch!)

What items do you have on your table or would like to try out at your future book signings? Or as a fan, what are some unique items from authors that you simply loved – or maybe you have ideas of what to hand out to readers because you’d love it yourself? Let me know in the comments!

Liz Long Business Card

Front of business card

Liz Long Business Card

Back of business card


Liz Long rack card

Side 1 of rack card

Liz Long rack card

Side 2 of rack card

Liz Long tote bag

Super fun tote bag with covers and contact info. I have a limited # of these, so only book buyers get one. 

WITCH HEARTS – KDP Select Days Led to Bestseller List (Holy Eff!)

First off, I have to thank everyone who helped promote the 3 free days I hosted WITCH HEARTS on Amazon’s KDP Select Program. It’s something no author (indie or otherwise) could do without the help of others and I am grateful and humbled by the amazing support given to me over these last few days.

I make no secret in the fact that I’m a huge Amazon KDP advocate. If you’re an author curious as to the why (as well as if you’re on the fence about KDP), scroll down.

So, on to the great news. WITCH HEARTS had so many downloads that it hit #1 for 2 straight days in the Top 100 Free Kindle ebooks in Paranormal Fantasy. To me, that’s huge because the longer you stay in the top (read: the first page), the more exposure and downloads you get. It hits that particular genre, which is terrific because those readers looking specifically for those types of books are definitely my market.

Witch Hearts at #1 in Kindle Free - Paranormal Fantasy

Witch Hearts at #1 in Kindle Free – Paranormal Fantasy

Even better? My book hit and stayed at #7 on the OVERALL Free Kindle Bestsellers, which is of course terrific to reach an even bigger audience. When you enroll and use your KDP days, your goal should be to hit that top 10 and stay there for at least a few hours. You get more downloads and exposure from people who might not think to go all the way down the rabbit hole into genres. No screenshot for that one, but here’s the really awesome news that came from the first batch of goodness.

Thanks to the publicity and downloads, the book (as well as the other two Donovan Circus books) have continued to sell even after the KDP days ended last night. Because of those sales, it’s bumped up my ranking and is currently #83 in the Kindle BESTSELLERS list under Ghost Fiction. (UPDATE: At 10pm this same evening, I rose to #31. Holy eff.) For those of you who think that it’s not important to hit that because it’s genre and not overall, I’d argue that this gives me the boost I need for exposure. It helps in those Amazon secret sauce algorithms, not to mention it’s just a great reason for me to boogie in my chair as it’s the total highlight of my week (and perhaps even my writing career thus far). While I won’t be putting “Best Seller” on my covers just yet, it’s a great thing to be able to say I hit that list. What author wouldn’t want that kind of cool news?

Witch Hearts at #83 in Kindle Bestsellers Ghost Fiction

Witch Hearts at #83 in Kindle Bestsellers Ghost Fiction

This is why I’m such a huge fan of the Amazon KDP Select program. Sure, there are pros and cons to it like everything else, but for those authors on the fence or wondering why they should participate, this is a great way to explain – because I don’t really make that many sales off B&N or KOBO (less than 10 a month), I see no reason to pull myself from those and be exclusive on Amazon – for now. I’m not a big name and because I get the majority of my sales from Amazon anyway, I’ve got no problem hanging out with them for at least 90 straight days in order to get my free or discounted days. In the marathon that is a writing career, 3 months is nothing. Why NOT be a part of something that can get you such exposure?

Fact is, with the 3 KDP days I set up (complete with submitting to website and including an ad from BookBub for their Supernatural Suspense readers – $40!), I had approximately 18,500 downloads worldwide (the majority coming from the US, though a surprising amount from Canada and UK). That’s over 18K people that now have my book on their Kindle who didn’t have them before. Sure, I’m aware that not all of those people will read the book – but they could if they wanted to now that they downloaded it.

I’ve already gotten 2 new reviews and downloads have now rolled over into actual sales. And not just for WITCH HEARTS, but for both Donovan Circus books, too. While that could be coincidence, it’s more than likely readers see the author name and want to give them a chance. With GIFTED at only 99 cents, there’s not a lot to lose, you know? That gets them in the circus world and hopefully they enjoy it enough to try BURNED and maybe want to keep up with the series. KDP has given me readers for my other books, too!

All in all, if you’re an author looking for reasons to be in KDP Select, I say go for it. There’s nothing to lose but 90 days and again, in the grand scheme of things, that’s nothing. If it doesn’t work for you, go ahead and see how you do over at B&N, KOBO or any other outlet. That’s totally cool. I’ve found a plan that works for me (for now) and I’ll work it with everything I’ve got! Thanks again to all of you who helped make this possible. I’m humbled beyond belief, as well as can’t stop dancing in my seat. I appreciate it more than words can say.