The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps #12 (A part of my novel)

He cocked his head to the side, surveying the room.  Placing his elbows on the table, he exhaled.

He had always longed for his freedom to be with his family, but now, he felt as though the distance they had was what his family needed.  His thoughts raced.  Much the same as the night he was taken away.  He wanted to get away from them.  Thinking, maybe it was a wrong idea to be let go from a secured place.  A place he had control over.  Perhaps the judge was wrong and that he was not a rehabilitated man.  At that moment, he wanted to return to Centenery.  To the place where he hid behind stone walls and prayer someone his life will end.  But even behind bars, new travelled fast.  And without saying a word, it was understood that Deo Narine was to be touched by no one.

Copyright © 2017 David Alexian

All rights reserved.

17 Crucial Things Authors Forget to Do When Self-Publishing

by Bryan Hutchinson

17 Crucial Things Authors Forget to Do When Self-Publishing

This is a guest post by Shayla Eaton. Shayla is the president of Curiouser Editing and a connoisseur of the writing and editing process, having edited over two hundred books and countless articles, blogs, social media posts, and web copy. She is the author of The Curiouser Crusade and the Pre-Publishing Checklist.

Choosing to self-publish your book means you’re in control of the process. But like Ben Parker said to Spider-Man: “With great self-publishing comes great responsibility.” Or, you know, something like that.

Self Publishing

With great self-publishing comes great responsibility. (Click to Tweet)

Don’t overlook these must-haves when self-publishing your book:

1. Check to see if your book title already exists

There are pros and cons to finding that your book title already exists. I believe the con is obvious, but the pro? Some authors use it as a smart marketing tool, because when a potential buyer searches for your competitor’s book title, he’ll find yours as well.

2. Set up an email address for marketing purposes

From signing up for social media platforms to setting up an account with CreateSpace, you’ll want an email address specifically for marketing purposes rather than using your personal address. Pro tip: Don’t use AOL or Hotmail.

3. Add an email signature with website and social media information

This is easy to do: just go to your email settings and craft your signature’s content. You can even add URLs so people can click on over to your book’s website or subscribe to your newsletter.

4. Prepare a promo kit

You’ll need a long and short book summary, a long and short bio, a tagline for your book, and a professional headshot. You’ll have all of this ready to go in your promo folder for when you reach out to bloggers.

5. Gather endorsements

Try to get endorsements from well-known figures who either write in your genre or relate to it somehow. These endorsements will go in the front matter of your book and can also be used for marketing on social media and your website.

Click here to see the stellar endorsement Bryan Hutchinson received for Writer’s Doubt from 21 times New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. He’s using the endorsement to lead his book’s page on his website and on Amazon.

6. Get your ISBN

If you’re printing with CreateSpace, they’ll handle this for you with a free ISBN or paid ones. But if you’re not using a print-on-demand company and are using a local printer instead, you’ll want to purchase your ISBN. I recommend Bowker.

7. Check the licenses of typefaces

Make sure you or the designer has the right to use certain fonts. Pro tip: Tell your formatter what fonts you used, because they might not be visible during the transfer.

8. Get a book trailer

Hey, who says movies are the only ones who get trailers? A book trailer is a modern, engaging way to tell your friends and potential readers about your book.

9. Set up Amazon Author Central page

When you publish your book on Amazon, you’ll want to go here to create the Amazon Author Central page so people can learn more about you—the author. You can link your Twitter page, blog feed, and book trailer on this page. Your future books will show up here too.

10. Write a sample author Q&A

Surely you didn’t think you’d publish a book without an interview or two, right? Craft a sample author Q&A for bloggers and podcasters to use when promoting or reviewing your book.

11. Tease your social media followers with snippets of your book

Your followers are the fish, and your bookish quotes are the bait. Hook them and reel them in. Copy and paste your book quotes into Canva to create high-quality promotional photos.

12. Throw an online launch party

It’s best if someone other than the author hosts this party and it can be done on Facebook. The host will create an event and invite people to the party. There will be giveaways and contests and lots of online sharing about your book.

13. Get in touch with your community

Why do so many authors forget about their local library? Libraries love to promote their own local authors, so talk to them about donating your book or planning a book signing there. You can also publish a press release about your town’s local author (ahem—that’s you) whose book comes out in two weeks!

You can get local bookstores and coffee shops involved. If you’re smart, you’ll host a Night on the Town with a local shopping center, where customers can get raffle tickets, food, freebies, and a signed copy of your book.

14. Add your book on Goodreads

You would be surprised how many authors forget to do this. Users can shelve your book to read for later, update their progress while reading, and review your book after completing it.

15. Brand yourself using photo apps

What are the colors of your book cover? The fonts? The style? Choose a photo app to create a brand that relates to your book, then post the images on social media.

16. Get a contract with your editor

If your editor is a professional, then he or she will have this ready for you. It will outline what the editor will do to your book, the tentative deadline, and how much it will cost. Sadly, too many newbie authors forget about the contract and get themselves into trouble when the editor doesn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain.

17. Form your citations properly

Can we please talk about the sheer terror that overcomes me when I see sloppy (and sometimes nonexistent) citations in a nonfiction manuscript? Here’s a fast rundown and a great tip on crafting citations in under two minutes.

How Successful Authors Use Twitter To Promote Their Brand


To busy authors, Twitter can be a chaotic jungle. Given that Twitter is an important part of your author platform, how much should you be tweeting? Should you be actively promoting your books, or focusing more on conversations with fans?

We asked successful authors on Twitter to share the secrets of their success. Instead of replying with the usual vague ‘best practices’ that people typically blog about, they had tons of actionable tips to share on how authors can use Twitter more effectively to reach their audiences. We’re excited to share their advice with our readers!

Here are the top tips they have for using Twitter:

Promote new or discounted books without being spammy

“I know the current wisdom is that you’re not supposed to sell your books on Twitter, but I think there’s a big difference between yelling “Buy my book!” and letting your followers know you have a new release or a sale on a book. I truly think that if one of my books is, for instance, having a BookBub promo, my readers want to know that they can add it to their ebook collection for $0.99. And people who’ve connected with me on Twitter — maybe they’ve seen the Must Love Dogs movie but have never read one of my books — might also want to find out if my books are their thing at that pretty risk-free price.”

Claire CookClaire Cook, Author of Must Love Dogs

“When I have a new book release coming up, I’ll tweet about it. When I do, I’m straightforward: ‘My new book is up for preorder today’ with a picture and link. When a prominent review site gives me a good review, I’ll post it or retweet. I generally don’t retweet reader reviews or automated Kindle tweets like “I just bought Exigency by Michael Siemsen” because ew. Why do people retweet that stuff? It reads as ‘Someone ACTUALLY bought my book!’”

Michael SiemsenMichael Siemsen, Author of The Dig

Use images to drive more clicks

“Occasionally, I will directly promote my books, especially during a sale or new release. There are generally two strategies I find most effective:

  1. A short, bold quote from the book I know people will respond to.
  2. A photo of the book’s cover or a teaser inserted directly in the tweet (not a link to Facebook or Instagram) that’ll hopefully encourage followers to click on it and then retweet and/or favorite.

I measure this using Twitter Analytics, which allows me to see which pictures or quotes get the most attention, and I always track clicks via Bitly to see where they’re coming from.”

Jessica HawkinsJessica Hawkins, Author of Night Fever

Keep up with the newest promotional tools

“The second Twitter introduced Cards in promoted tweets, I jumped on it and blasted my latest Sci-Fi release to everyone in that interest segment (via Twitter Ads), with an eye-catching image of the book cover, because I know it grabs the eye of SF fans. Whenever a new promo tool like that comes out, I jump on it, because:

  1. It’s still novel to the users so they’re more likely to look at it, click, etc.
  2. The ad prices are usually super cheap because they’re new, so it’s a safer investment.

That campaign received somewhere around 200,000 impressions, 30,000 ‘engagements,’ and 2,200 link clicks. I sold around 1,500 books over those two days — a huge spike.”

Michael SiemsenMichael Siemsen, Author of The Dig

If you link to your books, track your results

“Most URL shortening services will give you the option to see clicks. Some affiliate accounts (specifically Amazon & Apple) allow you to create specific IDs so you can see how people purchase. When I have a new book out, I do tweet links, and I use specific affiliate accounts to track where people buy my books.”

Courtney MilanCourtney Milan, Author of The Duchess War

“I track my own tweets using Amazon affiliate links, which is only moderately useful because I only know of the number of clicks and purchases made at the time fans initially click. If someone comes back later to purchase, there’s no way for me to know unless they use my post and affiliate link again. I have not seen significant sales numbers, but enough to make it worth the small effort.”

Stormy SmithStormy Smith, Author of Bound by Duty

But, really… don’t be spammy

“Too many authors hit fellow users with requests as soon as they follow each other; ‘buy my book’ being the biggest turn-off. Twitter is primarily a business machine, I know, but a little decorum doesn’t go amiss.”

Rik StoneRik Stone, Author of Birth of an Assassin

“Having a marketing plan is great… but it shouldn’t look that way unless you’re a non-fiction author with the Key Steps to [some kind of] Success! Be cool, non-desperate, and show your personality. The direct self-promotion (‘Star Stabbers 2 is on sale today for $0.99!’) should be the exception. If you’re having to think about your Fun:Promotional ratio, you’re promoting too much. If you know you have a sale coming up next week, chill out on promo posts for a week.”

Michael SiemsenMichael Siemsen, Author of The Dig

“The biggest mistake I see other authors making is constantly tweeting links to their books, or books put out by their friends. We get it. You’re an author. Some repetition is okay, but if all you do is send out links, you’re teaching the people who follow you to ignore your tweets.”

Courtney MilanCourtney Milan, Author of The Duchess War

“Just as quickly as you were followed, you will be unfollowed if your content doesn’t provide some value. That value can be humor, interesting articles, teasers and tidbits about your books or simply a vehicle to get to you know, but the person following you has to find some value to pay attention and engage. For every one promotional post there should be two to three that aren’t (if not more).”

Stormy SmithStormy Smith, Author of Bound by Duty

Provide a behind-the-scenes look at your work in progress

“Right now, I’m on a mini roadtrip conducting research for a pivotal scene in my WIP. Posting pictures to Instagram and Twitter has been great for engagement, especially when I use the words ‘mystery’ or ‘secret’ for the locations I don’t want to disclose because of spoilers.”

Jessica HawkinsJessica Hawkins, Author of Night Fever

“My tweets are formulated snapshots of my current book and as each new book arrives, I will weave in a new set of snapshots.”

Rik StoneRik Stone, Author of Birth of an Assassin

Seek out and connect with a relevant audience

“My goal on Twitter is more to expand my connections and discover new resources than to sell books. For instance, when writing my historical fiction (Civil War) novels, I networked with re-enactors, historians, and historic sites. In writing my new romantic military suspense (Meant to Be, June 2015), I connected with Navy SEALS and other military resources that otherwise I never would have had the opportunity to engage with. The widow of a Navy SEAL that I met through Twitter became one of my early reviewers and gave me a wonderful endorsement that is more meaningful to me than any literary review could ever be.”

Jessica JamesJessica James, Author of Shades of Gray

Reciprocate retweets and make it easy for others to reciprocate for you

“When one of my Twitter followers throws some RT love my way and I have some extra time, I try to reciprocate by retweeting something for them. So I go to their page and scroll through their tweet thread. But if I can’t find something to retweet quickly, I don’t. So my suggestion is to pin a tweet to the top of your page, a tweet that you’d love to have other people RT for you. And even if they don’t retweet it, they’ll see it first if they check out your profile.”

Claire CookClaire Cook, Author of Must Love Dogs

Respond to fans who reach out

“I reply to every beautiful one of them, and I avoid being generic in my replies. Instead of “Thanks @patsyonrye2391!”, I’ll say something more thoughtful and specific to their tweet.”

Michael SiemsenMichael Siemsen, Author of The Dig

“I don’t necessarily reply to everyone who mentions me, but I at least favorite their tweet.”

Stormy SmithStormy Smith, Author of Bound by Duty

“I never forget for a moment that my readers give me the gift of my career, so I always answer @ mentions, unless it’s something spammy. What I don’t do is answer DMs on Twitter (or on Facebook). There are just too many of them, many of which are auto replies, and trying to keep up with them was starting to get in the way of my writing.”

Claire CookClaire Cook, Author of Must Love Dogs

Build relationships with book bloggers and journalists

“As I was starting out and building my base of blogger connections, Twitter was my lifeline. I followed authors I respect in my genre and saw whose reviews they were sharing, researched those blogs, and pitched my own book to them. Bloggers are critical to your success as an author and the relationships that I’ve built from initial Twitter exchanges have been invaluable.”

Stormy SmithStormy Smith, Author of Bound by Duty

“Lots of requests for interviews, speaking engagements, and even collaborations have come to me via Twitter, so I think of Twitter as an open doorway to opportunities like that.”

Claire CookClaire Cook, Author of Must Love Dogs

Earn trust by showcasing your unique personality

“There are people on Twitter who will make you pause as you’re scrolling through your timeline because you want to see what they say. They’ve said insightful things in the past, for instance. Or they’re funny. Or they have good book recommendations. Whatever it is, that person has earned your trust with time. You know from experience that if you give them attention, you’re going to get something good out of it. Be the person who makes people want to stop scrolling.”

Courtney MilanCourtney Milan, Author of The Duchess War

“I use Twitter to give fans a flavor of who I am. I have a naturally sarcastic demeanor and I find Twitter to be the perfect avenue to share my random thoughts. Fans get a kick out of it and I have fun crafting the tweets. I also use it to engage with the bloggers and fans that post reviews and photos. My younger teen fans get really excited when I personally engage, and reaching them is a challenge. My engagement shows them I am taking the time to read their reviews and pay attention to how they feel about my work.”

Stormy SmithStormy Smith, Author of Bound by Duty

Have you found Twitter to be an effective element of your author platform? If so, join the conversation and share your tips for fellow authors in the comments below.


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Chapter 4: KISKADEE FLAMES (Excerpt) To New Beginnings: The Skies Are Lighted With Lamps.: A Novel.

10 Tips For Authors Promoting Their Books Online


It’s always surprising to me when writers seem to think it’s a) **just** about the writing or b) even that writers SHOULDN’T market their books. Look, I’m a writer too and I’ve got to say writing my novels makes me happiest and if I could magically release them into the wild and people would buy them by the tonload  and make me rich? I’d be ecstatic! But we all know that can’t happen without a little work. And the good news is, for authors it’s easier than ever before, thanks to the web. But the bad news is, it’s even easier to totally SCREW THIS UP.

With the above in mind then, I’ve written a fair amount about standing out online with reference to pitching one’s loglines and screenplays and even crowdfunding, but relatively little on how to grab potential readers’ interests in your book on social media, so here’s a few thoughts on various conversations I’ve been having with authors recently:

1) Get A Blog

The obvious, first. Your book or series needs its own web presence, as well as *just* social media accounts. It doesn’t matter how you do it – Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly, pages off your existing site, WHATEVER – but do it. I decided to go for Tumblr, since I already have this website, plus my target audience for The Decision Book Series is teenagers, who generally hang out on Tumblr a lot when they’re not on Facebook, Ask.FM, etc. You can find The Decision Book Series on Tumblr HERE.

As you’ll see, The Decision Tumblr is in its infancy and is mostly photographs and quotes, because based on my market research, I’ve discovered this is what teenagers like and share. The Decision is on the same same dashboard as The Bang2write Tumblr, plus both blogs are plugged into Twitter and Facebook.

So, whatever you decide to do with your book’s blog, make sure it offers something FOR your target audience – you can find out where they hang out thanks to the multiple sites online dedicated to social media trends, like @mashable. Also, make sure it is plugged into multiple social media channels, so you can ensure people can find it. MORE:10 Reasons Your Blog Sucks

2) Go Multi Platform

Another no-brainer. A Twitter account dedicated to your book is another MUST – yes, in addition to your own. What’s more, your book’s Twitter account needs to offer “added value” … In other words, don’t just have the SAME content there as your own. Make sure there’s a REASON people can follow the book’s Twitter and get something “more” from it, as well as yours. Crossover and mutual RTing is fine, but make sure the book’s Twitter has its own identity. Mine is Lizzie, my protagonist from the first Decision book and you can follow her HERE.

Your own Facebook page. A Facebook page is important, but thanks to the recent “Reachapocalypse”, possibly NOT as vital as it once was. (Don’t know what that is?? Find out!!) Facebook pages are still great though for things like photos and links though and the new layout is great, so do make sure your book has one, just don’t obsess over it.

Other Facebook pages. Whether you find other FB pages worthwhile arguably depends on your target audience. In my case, teenagers apparently spend a lot of time on Facebook pages, so it is. I’ve “Liked” all the pages dedicated to teens in some way, as well as all the charities and organisations that help teenagers. I post on the walls if allowed from time to time if permitted and also comment on threads wherever possible (not necessarily always about The Decision Books, it helps to be as genuine as possible).

Facebook groups. There’s LOTS of indie author groups on Facebook and it’s worth joining them all to get a feel for which ones are the most useful. A lot of them have very little interaction, with authors simply linking their free or discounted books, over and over; but others have moderate to very high interaction/engagement levels. Search words like “Kindle”, “readers”, “authors” etc to find some.

Google+ is apparently the “new Facebook”.B2W has been on Google+ for years and I never really “got it” … I basically just clicked the G+ sharing button at the bottom of my blog posts and forgot about it. I didn’t realise that Google+ had the same capabilities as FB until recently and it seems no one else did either, ‘cos suddenly it’s exploded over there. I’m still getting to grips with it to be honest, but I predict it will become VERY useful to indie authors, especially considering its far superior “community search” function to Facebook’s.  MORE:Making Relationships Online, plus 5 Reasons Social Media Will Always Sell More Books

3) Claim Your GoodReads Author Page

DYK? As an author you can claim your own Author page – HERE’S MINE. No it’s not the same as your profile page (which btw the disappears when you’re an official “Goodreads Author”). I didn’t realise this for bloody ages, but hey ho – I make the mistakes so you don’t have to! One of the best things about GoodReads is you can add your book to lists, plus it has a blog function of its own. Plus the librarians over there are fantastic: I had a problem because I ended up with two different pages (for fiction and non fiction) because it thought I was two different people. The librarians merged the pages and all my books were on the same profile within 48 hours. So DO IT. MORE:Connecting Online, plus 5 Ways Writers Kill Their Credibility Online

4) Get Allies

It comes down to this: working on your own is for chumps. Find allies wherever you can, especially other authors, but also readers and fans. In addition, if you can partner with organisations, groups, clubs or whatever that can get behind your book? EVEN BETTER. I partnered with prochoice organisation @EdForChoice for a Twitter chat recently, for example: READ IT HERE. MORE:9 Ways To Create A Following Online 

BS Promotion

5) Consider Paid Promotion

I’ve seen some authors online saying that writers “shouldn’t” pay for advertising, but fact is, all publicity is good publicity, ultimately. And you won’t find bestsellers leaving it to chance and those book posters etc you see at train stations and banners online all cost MONEY. But most writers don’t have that much money, so where should we go to get the best return on our dosh?

Facebook now offers comprehensive advertising packages to increase “Likes” on your page, or “boost” your Reach on the site, starting as little as £1. I experimented with this and predictably, the more you spend, the more eyes your post gets in front of. What I really liked about it however was the fact you can tailor make your own ads AND focus them in on your target audience. For example, I paid about £35 recently and managed an extra 180 “Likes” for The Decision Book Series, all within my target audience of females within the 14-20 years old age range, who’d liked movies like “Juno”; were interested in prochoice matters; AND liked YA literature featuring female protagonists. Not too shabby!

FYI, indie authors in particular: with a new venture like indie publishing, there are lots of places online now offering various showcase services to indie authors now. They seem to vary in quality and reach, not only in how they look themselves (always check their websites out, not to mention how many followers they have and whether they’re multi platform) but also the types of books they help advertise. Some are completely indiscriminate and will showcase anything; others insist on a certain level of quality. Like anything, due diligence is required.

6) Use Your Reviews

When your book has been out a while, you will start getting reviews, reactions on Twitter, Good Reads etc. Good reviews are always useful to indie authors, so thank the people who took their time to write them wherever possible and use THEIR words, not *always* yours, to help advertise your book. Also, NEVER ignore anyone who engages with you in a personable manner. If someone trolls you, makes accusations etc then ignore/block them! Or, if you can’t resist like me, turn it round on them (but never for an extended period, some of these idiots can literally go on for DAYS!). MORE:Making Connections & Building Relationships Online 

7) Spamming Vs. Cross Posting

Don’t spam, especially on Twitter, but basically anywhere. This is what I mean by spamming:

– @ing individuals far and wide, with the same tweet, copied and pasted, ESPECIALLY when you’ve never talked to them before. Same goes for posting on individuals’ walls, emailing them, PMing them, DMing them with appeals for “Likes” for pages, etc.

– tagging photos and other content on places like Facebook randomly without prior agreement and/or no thought whether someone will like your content or not and/or doing it EVERY SINGLE TIME you post something

– Indiscriminately sharing the same thing, multiple times, in groups over and over, especially in close proximity time-wise, especially without “added value” (though not always)

DO NOTE: Cross posting is NOT spamming. Cross posting to groups at considered intervals that adhere to the groups’ rules is fine and helps spread your message. You will find some platform users who are members of many, many groups may complain they see your message “too much”, but you cannot control how many groups that individual is part of. However, to avoid this (and as my own “best practice”) I use a scheduler like Hootsuite to stagger postings so I never post in more than 2-5 groups at any one time, which works very well. MORE:How **Not** To Do Social Media

8) Say what?? A Word On Repetition

Repetition is fine, as long as you don’t repeat yourself constantly. Vary the times you send your links. What’s more, People tend not to engage with those they feel are ONLY trying to hock something. So, even though you may be sending the same link, make sure the words accompanying them are different and present “added value”, meaning more click on them. MORE:8 Rules Of Social Media You Need To Know Right Now, plus A Twit’s Guide To Twitter

marketing-promotion-300x3009) Let Us Know What You’re Talking About!

I often see writers touting their books online (especially in Facebook groups) and even though I know the writer and may even have read the book, I don’t see **what** it is! Instead, the writer will say simply “Check out my books”; or say something about how hard it was writing it; or that we indie authors have to stick together; or they might offer a quote that probably refers to the book in some way, but those who haven’t read it will have no clue why.

When you are talking about your books online, you can do it however you want but make sure those unfamiliar with it KNOW:

i) what the title is

ii) what it’s about

iii) what genre /age range it is (as applicable)

iv) where we can buy it

Yes, yes this is totally obvious stuff but you’ll be surprised how many people forget the above!!! MORE:Best Practices In Facebook Groups, plus Using Social Media Effectively

10) Review Your Approaches

Good online promotion is NOT about firing a gazillion tweets, posts etc into cyberspace and hoping for the best. As well as watching out for how many RTs, Shares, favourites and so on you get (as well as replies), as well as your online “reach”, you can measure the “click through” rate of how many people actually went to the pages about your books. I do this a number of ways, using Hootsuite’s dashboard, but also SumAll, AND  the other various free tools available like Facebook Insights, Statcounter, Tweriod and ManageFlitter. This enables me to see where I’m going RIGHT – ie. which posts and tweets are shared or clicked on the most – which I can then build into my promotion techniques. For instance, I had already realised that my posts get shared most at 8:15am and 5:30pm weekdays, but I had NOT realised I also get a spike at 1:15pm, 2pm AND 11pm. In addition, weekends my most shared posts are again 2pm and 11pm but also 10:30am, 4pm and 9:30pm. Various tools told me all these things, but it will be different for everyone and these things will change too, dependant on your popularity and/or what you write about, so make sure you use tools to help you. Also, read about social media – it has trends and best practices, like anything else. And needless to say: if you don’t get results on one approach? STOP DOING IT and try something else!

Do you have any other online promotion tips – positive or negative? Then please share in the comments section.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!



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