Tag Archives: books

Books and Word of Mouth

You find a book, let’s say you randomly pick it up at the library while browsing the shelves for something new to read, or you do it at the bookstore, and its from a author that you never heard of, and more than likely, most people hadn’t heard of either, but the book’s description makes it sound like something you’d want to read. So you read it. You find that you enjoyed it so much, you tell your friends, family, co-workers, and others about it. Eventually, you read every book this author puts out. You might like some of the novels, you might dislike others, but this once unknown author to you now has a loyal reader all because you decided to try something new.

Or, like many others these days, you see a book mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, or on some message board somewhere online(unless its mentioned on TV and then its an instant bestseller, especially if Oprah mentions it), you ignore what seems like spam a few times, but one day you’re convinced to try it out. You read it, like it, and then tweet about it, like the book’s page on Amazon, like it enough to review it, and even share your new find on one of your many social networks. You do the whole digital word of mouth thing without going anywhere and your small amount of influence convinces others to take notice of those books, who influence others, and so on. Plus, you like the author so much, that you sign-up for the author’s newsletter or blog, follow them on Twitter, and join their Facebook page, where you buy every single novel hereafter.

For a lot of authors, Word of Mouth is the only way they find readers.

Here are a couple of ways to spread the word about a novel you enjoyed and helping the author out at the same time (which you’ve probably seen in one form or another on various authors’ blogs):

1. Mention the book online, like on Myspace (if you’re still there), Twitter,  Facebook, message boards, or wherever you frequent that allows you to mention books, and include a link to the store or author’s site.

2.  If you have Pinterest, create a board, like a “Favorite Books,” or “Book You Read Recently,” and link it to either the author’s site of store where you bought it from. The author might even be on Pinterest, so you could also follow their boards and “like” the book board they created for that particular book.

3. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, church members, etc through e-mail, phone, text, or talk to in person about the book. Include what you liked and why you think they might enjoy it. If you want, give them a copy of the paperback to read if you have a paperback copy, or even lend them the ebook version, depending on your e-Reader.

5. Leave a review on Amazon, B&N, or wherever you bought it from, you can even leave a review on all the sites if you want. If you’re on Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything, etc, you can leave a review there.

So reader, how have you been influenced to buy a book? Through Word of Mouth or by way of something else?

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My #Marketing Ideas

I have been an independently published author now for nearly four years, and not until 2010 did I really do any kind of promoting/marketing for my novels, mostly because I had no idea where to start. Since about late 2009, there have been all sorts of assorted experts in the field all over the internet who have popped up with a book on the subject, and if you buy their book, they’ll tell you what the secret is to selling thousands, or millions even, of books. I think what works for one author doesn’t necessarily work for another, so if you’re willing to waste $2.99 or $4.99 or $6.99 for someone to make money off of your naïveté, then go right ahead, since I was one of those people who has done that more often than I’d like to admit.

When I first published in 2008, it was suggested by iUniverse (now I go through Createspace, best money I have ever saved!) that authors create a website to promote and market themselves. So, I found Geocities, created a very basic site, posted the novel cover, the description, and the link to purchase, then forgot about it. When I finally remembered I had it, Yahoo apparently had shut down Geocities, so I searched for another server. Eventually, I came across Freewebs.com, now known as Webs.com, and that’s where I now have my website hosted, and trying to build my “brand,” whatever that really means. Since then, I’ve gone from idea to idea, gimmick to gimmick trying to promote and market my novels. Some have worked, and some haven’t, but here are my top 10 ideas. Your experience may vary.

1) Websites/blogs — With a website, you should know some html, or you can plug in whatever others have built for such a need, and then you can customize it to your heart’s content. You can add videos, pictures, links, etc. The suggestion from across the vast wasteland of the internet is to do SEO (search engine optimization), build back links, trade links with others, or pay for thousands of hits so that your Google Ranking will bring people to you. Let me tell you, that’s mostly nonsense, your site will be listed in Google, Yahoo, and Bing within a matter of days, but you can submit to directories, but I’ve never actually seen a hit from one of those. Only hard work on your part in promoting yourself will people begin searching your name, names of your novels, or similar sounding names before you notice hits to your site. As for a blog, if you want to keep it updated every day, you can submit it to RSS feed sites and link up with others who have sites. With some blogs, like Blogger, your feed will be seen on the side panel of the blog (if they’re on Blogger) that you’ve linked to. A website/blog is good for having a place for readers to come to find out what you’re up to, or if you have a new novel on the market. Plus, if you’re in the market for a job, it’s something potential employers will see, showing them that you have some skills and creativity (or, so I’ve been told).

2) Social Networking — What did we do before Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and all of those other social sites? To be honest, I don’t remember! ha ha. Anyway, I do know that if you join every forum involving writing, e-books, and marketing, you’ll never write, you’ll just be talking about writing, and getting to know other indie authors who are also talking about writing. Facebook is useful for authors in that they give us the ability to have a page for ourselves and our work. Thousands, and maybe even millions, of users can eventually come across your page, they can like it, and even share it with anyone in their social circle. Twitter used to be useful in my opinion, but there are way too many voices out there now, and one can get lost in the “noise.” My best advice for social networking is to do it in moderation, otherwise, you’ll never get that next book written.

3) Press releases — I use free sites like Prlog.org, which is good for visibility, but I really don’t know if it results in sales. Doesn’t hurt to try though, and it’s free. If you want to pay for high visibility, try PRWEB, but it’s really expensive if you’re on a tight budget.

4) Libraries — I used to work in a library, so I know something about this. A lot of indie books go almost directly to the Friends of the Library Bookstore, even though the Acquisitions Librarian “promised” that your books will get on the shelf, eventually. Although, it could’ve been just the one I worked with, because he wasn’t too particularly thrilled with putting my novels on the shelf. My suggestion is to get to know the library staff, usually the poor souls stuck at the Circulation Desk. Sometimes they get to sort through all the donations, so if you let them know that you really, really want your book in the library, they will mark your book for the acquisitions librarian, who will set it up for circulation. Be patient, books arrive at the library from B&T and Ingram every day, so it may take months for your book to show up in the catalog.

5) Book trailer — You can do it yourself by downloading Microsoft’s Live Movie Maker for free. It’s fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it. Of course, if you want something like the “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” trailer, then you’ll have to spend a lot of money for someone else to do it or have taken a video course in college yourself. Once you’re done with it, upload it to Youtube and a few other video sites. Very useful in the fact that the reader may get your book cover and the idea impressed into their heads, and then might eventually buy a copy of your novel.

6) Guerilla Marketing — Basically, this is putting bookmarks or business cards in books at stores like Walmart, B&N, and maybe Half Price Books (if you have one in your area), or even at the library. I have also put bookmarks in those envelopes that have the paid postage from the credit card companies and other spam mailers, and sent it back to them. You can do this for everything you mail out.

7) Bloggers — There are bloggers who will post your novel, review it, help with a blog tour, or give you an interview that will be posted on their site. Some require you to pay for the exposure, and some are free. Even if you get no returns on it as far as sales, it’ll be on Google and other search engines for as long as that post is available. So when someone does a search, that’s another impression you get, and it might even get you some sales out of it.

8 ) Paperback book giveaways — When you first finish your book, have it uploaded, and then available on Createspace, you can then contact some bloggers, or go to Goodreads and post your book giveaway. With bloggers, they can target specific readers who actually want to read your novel. I’ve received a couple of great reviews that way. With Goodreads, people will sign up for the giveaway just because it’s a freebie, not really caring about the genre. I had one person return a book because they thought it was something else, and others who reviewed, who didn’t like that genre, and thought Goodreads required a review. Remember to be choosy about doing paperback giveaways if you want specific readers that are looking for a specific genre.

9) Free e-books — One way to get your novels seen is to give away free copies of your e-books, usually with a coupon from Smashwords. If you want it free on Amazon, set the novel free on Smashwords, distribute it to B&N even if you’re using their publishing platform, and then wait for Amazon to price match. You’ll get a few thousand downloads for a week or two, copies into hands of people who normally wouldn’t have known about you and your work, and possibly some good reviews out of it. You may also get hit and run reviews that aren’t exactly glowing reviews of your work, mostly on Amazon. These are usually 1 star, they question your writing skills, and sometimes even your IQ. The advice to authors is never to respond, be above it all, and have a thick skin. There are instances of authors responding to their critics, and it developed into a clusterfark. Never ever a good thing.

10) Ads — Unless you have a lot of disposable income, creating ads on Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and other sites is a complete waste of your time and money. But, if you get a free coupon for one of those sites, then knock yourself out. I have also advertised on Craigslist and other classifieds all over the States from time to time, and I get the occasional hit to my website from those sites, but I don’t know if they actually result in sales. Mostly, it’s about being visible, and that’s not really a bad thing.

Finally, marketing your novels comes down to hard work, time, and sometimes spending money to make money. There are times you may want to give up, but being persistent will get you and your novels seen, and you’ll see success. These ideas are only some that indie authors may or may not try to promote their books, and it’s really an experience may vary kind of thing.

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New book review of The Usurper

This is a new review of The Usurper that was done on Manic Readers:

MR Review
Rating:

Reviewer: Amanda
Review:

The usurper, Gary Jackson, is a hateful soul. His entire life was planned by the Soviet Union before he was even conceived by a volunteer KGB agent. Gary was raised to hate the USA and all of its citizens and ultimately be the man of the countries undoing.

In The Usurper, we follow Gary’s mother for a short time but the star in the novel is undeniably Gary. He is trained and educated with the sole purpose of ending the USA during his middle aged years. The Usurper is filled to the brim with conspiracies and some elaborated history lessons. This is a terrific thriller but I would advise the reader to be open minded when reading due to Gary’s and the Soviet’s cold-heartedness. It would be relatively easy for a conspiracy theorist to become enthralled with this novel and the intricacies of Gary’s life. I did notice there are some points in the novel when the storytelling is very brief and dry, which I am not a huge fan of. However, there are many more other parts of this novel that are gripping and make up for that dry style of writing. Overall, The Usurper is an attention-grabbing story and an eye opener on many levels. Although The Usurper is a work of fiction, many instances could be comparable to some going-ons in our world today. Ball indeed did a terrific job with his imagination.

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More reader reviews

Two new reviews for The Usurper, one from Goodreads and the other on B&N:

From Goodreads, from Heather, who won a copy of the paperback:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/126805727

This is the first Cliff Ball book I’ve read…and I’d have to say that if he writes another political thriller … I’m in! “The Usurper” is a fast-paced fictional story that has non-fictional elements in it of events that really happened. Cliff makes you think ‘could this really happen?’ He makes it all seem possible…which is a scary thought! This book had lots of twists and turns that kept the reader on the edge of her seat throughout the book. I gave this book to my dad to read since he likes the same kind of books that I do. I’m sure he’ll have a good review as well. Thank you Cliff for writing this book!

On B&N, from a reader named Linda:
http://my.barnesandnoble.com/communityportal/Review.aspx?page=Review&reviewid=1575412

I agree with the other reviewer’s statement that it is Clancy like. The characters don’t have as much depth as Clancy’s, but Clancy has developed his over many books. This book was very similar to current events, with a frightening back story created. This back story was, unfortunately, plausible – at least in the goal if not the execution. It builds off of the fears of the cold war and moves into the role and power of government in our lives, as well as the battle of capitalism vs. socialism. This was filled with lots of symbolism and relations to actual current events. In summary, a very good read and I look forward to reading more by this author.

Plus, a review for Shattered Earth from a reader on Goodreads who won a copy of the paperback:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/149311972

Just finished this book. It was not at all what I thought it would be. The story line was was so imaginatively written, very interesting. I haven’t read a sci-fi, fantasy book written in such a way to be so interesting. I really liked it. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it is obvious that a lot of thought went into the writing of this book. The story line and the history aspect of the story kept me involved in the story from the beginning and had some really fun and interesting twists. I really enjoyed this book and hope to read more from Mr. Ball.

 

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Where all my novels are located

Dear reader, if you’d like to know where you can buy my novels, here is a comprehensive list:

Out of Time, originally published through iUniverse in 2008 in paperback, now through Createspace, and a 2nd edition uploaded as e-book this year.  With coupon code ZC6JYHVF get this title for 50% off from Createspace.

Paperback:
Createspace
Amazon- 2nd Edition
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million
Borders
Independent Bookstores

e-Book locations for $.99
Amazon Kindle
UK Kindle
Apple iBooks
Borders
NOOK
Sony Reader
Smashwords

The Usurper, published 2010, through CreateSpace – $5 off with coupon code JKJLG2YW.
Review of The Usurper

Paperback:
Amazon
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million
Borders
Hastings
Indie bookstores

E-book $2.99
Amazon Kindle
Kindle UK
Apple iBooks
Barnes and Noble Nook
Borders
Diesel E-books
Kobo
Smashwords
Sony Reader

Shattered Earth is $3.99 for e-book (currently $2.99 on Amazon, & Sony, Apple through Smashwords) and $12.99 for paperback

Where to buy, $12.99, $2.99:
Createspace
Amazon
Kindle US
Kindle UK
Barnes & Noble Nook
Smashwords, able to download all e-book formats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Mess With Earth – Published by Virtualbookworm.com for $12.95. E-book going for $.99
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing (March 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602643415
ISBN-13: 978-1602643413

Indiebound.org
Amazon
Kindle
Amazon UK
UK Kindle
B&N paperback
BN Nook
Books a Million
Smashwords

There you go, good luck and thanks for buying!

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January’s sales numbers

Here are my sales numbers for the month of January. Thanks to being on Kindle Nation Daily at the beginning of January, I surpassed my goals for the month. I sold 197 copies altogether of my three novels, and I was only expecting to sell maybe 100. Here are the stats from Amazon and B&N:

The Usurper, my thriller novel for $2.99 as an ebook, $9.99 as paperback
Kindle US: 104
Kindle UK: 4
B&N Nook: 13
Paperback: 1

Out of Time: a time travel novella for $.99 as e-book, $6.99 for paperback
Kindle US: 28
Kindle UK: 14
B&N Nook: 4
Paperback: 1

Shattered Earth, a science fiction novel $2.99 as ebook, $12.99 as paperback
Kindle US: 19
Kindle UK: 2
B&N Nook: 6
Paperback: 1

So far, this brings the grand total of novels sold to 800. My goal is to have 1000 sold by the end of March.

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Reader reviews for The Usurper

Currently, the Usurper has 6 reviews, 5 of which are 4 star on Amazon.

Brian says: Cliff weaves an interesting story with enough connections to real happenings in the world today that this book seems to be non-fiction. Just when you think you know where the story line is going Cliff changes up on you. While some things are predictable others are not, which adds to the enjoyment of the book. Some events catch you totally off guard. While it may seem to start slow stick with it, you will not be disappointed.

Tracey says: The Usurper is not usually my favourite type of novel but Cliff Ball really surprised me. This is a very fast-paced, action-packed book once you get past the first few chapters. I think what impressed me the most was Ball’s very accurate depiction of the power of indoctrination. In many ways it was a rather chilling view of what ‘could have been’. If you like political thrillers then I highly recommend it. I only took away a star because it wasn’t really my kind of book so I couldn’t get as lost in the story as I would’ve liked.

JC says: I just finished reading The Usurper and enjoyed the book. I love the concept of this book and the ending caught me totally off guard. The Usurper is a quick read. There are many correlations with the real world that most of us can relate to. If only they had turned out differently. The book smacks of conspiracy theories. Who knows, this book could possibly be one of those that, in a few years, will make us wonder, “How did the author get so close to the truth?”

Check out this link for a full list of where to buy The Usurper. Remember, there are only 9 shopping days left until Christmas.

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Mentioned on J.A. Konrath’s blog

My novel, The Usurper, was mentioned, along with quite a few other Indie authors, on mega Indie author J.A. Konrath’s blog, here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/11/with-little-help.html Check out all the novels listed. All these authors would like to have more people read their novels, including myself.

I am very appreciative of the fact that Indie authors generally help each other out, and try to get each other recognized. From sharing posts about someone’s work on Facebook or Twitter, to learning from other, more successful indie authors on message boards or through books they have published about how to be a successful independent author. Being an Indie author is challenging, but rewarding, and through all the hard work you do through promotion, you can see it pay off through all the sales you may get. Being an indie also has the benefit of doing things your way, and you have nobody telling you what to do or how to write your stories.

Traditional publishers, like the old media, may hate having things get out of their control, but, with the internet, everything is now in the people’s hands. A person can publish on Kindle, Nook, or Smashwords fairly easily, and the paperback copy of the novel can be released a week later on Amazon if you publish it on Createspace. No more waiting around for months and months after you query a traditional publisher, and then getting rejected. Welcome to the 21st century where you can bypass the old media completely.

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Interview on Kip Poe’s Blog

Interview with Kip Poe’s Blog

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I would have to say that my most productive time of day to write is between 10 am and 3 pm. I don’t know why that is, but, it seems like that is when I’m at my most disciplined and focused.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I usually start out with pen and paper, because I find it easier to sit with a spiral notebook on my couch just writing out by hand whatever idea I have. When I feel the story is established enough, I go on the computer to finish the project. This goes for novels, essays, research papers, pretty much anything I write.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

I’m pretty much inspired by the fact that as an Indie author, I can write what I want, when I want, and I have no deadlines.

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

I don’t really set a goal of word count when I sit down to write. Most of the time, I write for as long as I have that idea fresh in my mind for that day, and then I quit. Sometimes, that’s an hour, and other times, its three or four hours.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

Self published author. With my first two novels, I took whatever cover iUniverse and Virtualbookworm.com gave me, they gave me 4 templates to pick from. With The Usurper, I created my own cover with a combination of Gimp and Paint.net, since I was publishing that through Createspace. I took a picture of a fire from when I went camping earlier this year, then downloaded a US flag and a pair of eyes, and that’s that cover. I recently re-did Out of Time and downloaded a public domain picture from NASA, then just added the title and author name. Eventually, I plan on buying something like Book Cover Pro to come up with better covers.

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?

It’s kind of something that I’ve always wanted to be involved in since I was in elementary school, but, as of right now, I’d say it was more of a hobby than a career.

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

Not currently, but, I’d really like to have a Kindle.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

Some of my favorite authors are Harry Turtledove, Eric Flint, S.M. Stirling, Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, for example. I’m currently trying to read Color Me Grey by JC Phelps and Draculas by Konrath and his co-horts, when I don’t have to read college textbooks, since I’m pursuing a 2nd BA.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

I have two book trailers. One was done for me to advertise Out of Time and Don’t Mess With Earth, while I created my own with The Usurper. I think there are some pretty cool book trailers out there, like the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, for instance. But, I don’t think they improve sales all that much, at least not for me, and it’s probably just another gimmick someone came up with, and then convinced everyone it was a good idea.

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?

The Usurper is about the USSR wanting to take down the US from within no matter what, so, their inside man “usurps” the Constitution, Congress, and the States when he finally gets into power. So, the title “The Usurper” seemed to make sense to me, even though it was probably the third idea I had for the title, but, once I settled on it, it seemed to be a good title.

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I’m working on another two science fiction novels. One is an almost total re-write of Don’t Mess With Earth, after a lot of feedback I had that it had too much exposition, and some complained about my version of history at the beginning. So, I re-wrote the beginning, added a lot more dialogue, and the sequel I had planned for it, is now part of the novel, which is making it a full length 80K novel now, instead of around 50K. It’ll be re-titled, since it’s practically a different novel now. The other novel is an alternate history novel that begins with the 1976 Presidential Election, where the new President declares the US will have a moon base by 1979 and a Mars Base by 1989. The Russians decide to one-up the Americans, so they build an interstellar starship. What happens beyond that, well, I’m still working on it.

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Announcing Shattered Earth, a science fiction novel

Shattered Earth is my fourth novel.

What it’s about:

Advanced humans, called Terrans, leave Earth when its threatened by a massive meteor. The remaining humans on Earth fall back into primitiveness. The advanced humans, and a group of aliens, the Ragnor, involve Earth in an interstellar war. Thousands of years later, the humans of Earth decide to do something about this. Interstellar politics will never be the same again once Earth is done with their revenge.

These Terrans involve themselves throughout human history. Some play as King Arthur and Merlin. Another is a scientist, whose name is Galileo, and he gets into all sorts of trouble for challenging official orthodoxy about the sun, the Earth, and which one is revolving around the other. Then, we have Amelia Earhart, who has a very valid reason for disappearing. When an alien spaceship gets shot down over Roswell in 1947, President Truman orders the creation of Area 51, Project Blue Book and Sign, and has the United States embark on a plan that will culminate 60 years in the future. Nothing will ever be the same again when the United States gets involved in interstellar politics. But, the whole plan backfires when Earth ends up the worse for wear over it. Other species find out what Earth did, since no one else was bold enough to even try, so they want to help bring down the Ragnor once and for all. The new President of the United States imagines a galactic federation or a republic, but, none of the other species wants anything to do with it. Once they destroy the Ragnor’s technology, they leave the Ragnor to ponder why all the other species hated them enough to attack them. Will the galaxy remain at peace?

Currently can be found as an e-book on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and Kindle.

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