Saturday, November 9, 2013

What is SEO? And can SEO help your ebook sales?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a group of marketing and technical techniques used to bring Internet taffic to your web page or blog.  Websites are ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users.  So the first page of search results are the most relevant to the search word or phrase that you typed in Google.  Basically, the whole idea of SEO is to get on those first two pages of search results.  Most people never go past those first two pages.  The way to get your site noticed?  There are so many.  I'm only going to give a very brief overview of the concept in this blog article and expand in more detail in later posts. 
SEO can improve your site's exposure by the strategic use of keywords or key phrases.  These are the words people search for in their Google searches.  They could also use Yahoo or Bing, but for the sake of brevity I'm just saying Google. 
Keywords can be sprinkled throughout your web content, but don't overdo this.  Keyword "stuffing" will get your site flagged and plus it just reads badly; not to mention it looks unprofessional.  You want to shoot for 5 percent (5%) keyword saturation throughout your copy, nothing more.  Keywords can also be placed in metadata such as HTML tags.  More on this in a future blog posting.
Are you noticing through tracking that your visitors are leaving your website quickly?  They aren't hanging around to read?  That's called a "bounce" visit.  You don't want that.  If this happens to you, then you really need to examine the quality of your web content.  People want to learn something from articles they read; not shallow, thin "fluff" pieces that waste their time.
I'll give more details later about how to control your "bounce" factor in your copy.  SEO covers such a wide range of information.  Treating it all in one blog post would be impossible.
The bounce factor leads to another major factor that draws search engine bots to crawl your site as well as visitors--Quality Content.  Without this your website or blog is merely a fluff site where visitors leave feeling deceived and cheated.  Time is valuable to everyone and time is money for many, so don't waste your readers' time.
Links are important in driving traffic to your site.  Make friends with other bloggers who blog within your field of interest.  This is a way to get backlinks which help improve your rankings.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New book on selling e-books is FREE Oct. 29-31

Do you want to publish and sell an e-book for Amazon's Kindle, but just don't know where to start?  "Publishing and Selling Your Ebook on Kindle" is jam-packed with step-by-step instructions and awesome tips for marketing your book once it goes live on Amazon.  This book will save you hours of time researching the process so you can focus that valuable time on writing your next novel or non-fiction book.
"Publishing and Selling Your Ebook on Kindle" will be available for free downloads from Tuesday, Oct.  29th through Thursday, October 31st at http://amzn.to/17QAspk

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Last Day to Download HOUSE OF MIRRORS for FREE!

This weekend I've been running a free promo via Amazon's Kindle Select program.  It's gone much better than the first three times.  In fact, there's been a noticeable difference in the download numbers and in the best seller list ranking for the book.  House of Mirrors now sits at #2 on Amazon's best seller list for free in the genre of Ghosts and #3 in the genre of Occult.
If Kindle Select does anything, it gives you a little motivation to keep finishing what you're currently working on.  Right now, I'm working on a suspense thriller that's set partially at my favorite place of all time--the beach.  I'll give more info as I get closer to completion.
Please feel free to check out my FREE novel this weekend.  This is the last day it will be on sale for free.
You can find House of Mirrors on the Amazon Kindle Store here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"House of Mirrors" FREE downloads this WEEKEND on Amazon!

HOUSE OF MIRRORS will be available for free downloads on Amazon this weekend April 27 & 28 (Saturday & Sunday) Here's the link  for Saturday & Sunday!  #ebooks

HOUSE OF MIRRORS is a paranormal thriller about a woman who buys antique mirrors from an eccentric antique dealer; only to discover she has brought entities into the house attached to the mirrors. The uninvited guests cause a bit of a stir for the distraught woman who is mourning the loss of her little girl to a recent drowning. Her husband hires a psychiatrist and family friend to exorcise Eleanor’s personal demons, but Dr. Kelso discovers that the mysterious mirrors hold more secrets—a few that he isn’t comfortable having aired. 
“House of Mirrors” taps into the universal hope and desire we all have of contacting loved ones who have died, but sometimes it’s better to leave the dead at rest.

New book cover for "House of Mirrors" thanks to Jeanine Henning!

I've given HOUSE OF MIRRORS a book cover makeover.  I tried to make a homemade cover to begin with but decided it's better to go with a design professional like Jeanine Henning of J.H. Illustration.  If you're looking for a professional book cover artist, please check out Jeanine's work at J. H. Illustration or her website.
Here's my new book cover for HOUSE OF MIRRORS:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Building Suspense One Delay at a Time



So many ways to build suspense …
The suspense genre is different from the mystery genre in that the reader already knows how the murder or heist went down in the beginning.  The rest of the story is the protagonist trying to solve the murder or run from the murder and eventually answer the question or defeat the enemy.  Suspense really is delaying the answer to a question posed at the beginning of the novel.  For instance, look at any Alfred Hitchcock movie and you’ll see perfect examples of suspense at work.  Hitchcock is the one who penned the famous quote about the “suspense bomb” and showing the difference between surprise and suspense.  If you haven’t heard about this quote, here it is:
Hitchcock said “There is a distinct difference between "suspense" and "surprise," and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I'll explain what I mean.
          We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let's suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, ‘Boom!’ There is an explosion. The public is
surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o'clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene.           The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: ‘You shouldn't be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!’
          In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of
surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.”
          I’m sure most people have seen Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly.  In the beginning we along with Jimmy Stewart watch as the neighbor/murderer does away with his wife---at least he leaves an awful lot of clues for us to believe that.  So the question then is will Jimmy Stewart gather enough evidence and the ear of the police department to arrest the murdering neighbor.  That answer is delayed throughout the movie.  The police don’t believe him.  His colleague from work makes him feel like he’s crazy.  Grace Kelly is pawing him and trying to avert his attention to herself and their relationship.  Finally he wins Grace and a nurse over to his side when they too notice something peculiar about the neighbor and his apartment whose window backs up their window.  You can see how it all ends if you haven’t already seen Rear Window, but of course I’ll tell you that the answer finally gets answered at the end.
          Novelists and screenwriters use several devices and techniques to stir up suspense.  Here are a few of the old tried and true ones…
          *Use story structure to build suspense—You can tell a story from two different points in time.  You can tell a story through different switching points of view.  Both of these techniques delay the answer to the problem and creates suspense, and maybe a little frustration, too.  Also, chapter endings are great places to plant cliff-hangers or new developments in a story.  Just don’t go over-kill with this because then a reader could tire of too many and now predictable cliff-hangers.  Remember, always use a little moderation with everything. 
          *Use threat to build suspense—If the protagonist isn’t in danger or something that means so much to them is not at stake, then what do they have to lose?  Where’s the suspense?  Make sure you have a perilous journey ahead for your protagonist.  Feel free to give us a bit of the antagonist’s POV, so we’ll know what the protagonist is up against.
          *Use the urgency of time to build suspense—You know how you feel if you’re running late for an important event—transfer that same anxiety into your readers throughout the story.  Remember Hitchcock’s aphorism about the two people eating breakfast while a bomb ticks beneath the table?  There’s an urgency of time in that scene he’s created.
          *Use worry to build suspense—For a suspense to be really good, the reader needs to be worried about the person and the outcome of the story.  They’re wondering how in the world will this work out for the protagonist?  They’re up against so many obstacles.  When the reader really wants something to happen and it’s not yet happening…that’s good suspense.  By making the reader worry, you’re keeping the reader engaged, curious, and invested in the outcome of the story.
          When I look for a new suspense book to read, I look for these things and most of the time they appear in the story, but when they don’t it proves to be an unsatisfying reading experience.  And that’s probably because the writer hasn’t taken the time to understand what makes suspense tick and what draws readers to this genre.  Instead of asking what do my readers want to happen, maybe ask what do my readers not want to happen…just yet. 


--Lisa M. Logan is author of HOUSE OF MIRRORS

Why should you use Goodreads?


I learned about Goodreads by looking for book recommendations on Twitter about a month ago.  Little did I know, I’d be hooked a month later.  I check my Goodreads account for updates now more often than I do Facebook, and that’s a lot. 
Basically, Goodreads.com is the essential go-to website for bookaholics, bibliophiles, book worms, book lovers, book addicts, whatever you’d like to call us. 
For those of you unfamiliar with Goodreads, here are some features that I love about this site:
It keeps a tally of the books you’ve read and reviewed as well as those of the friends you make on Goodreads.  It’s great for getting recommendations by people you’ve chosen to “friend” on Goodreads.  For instance, I could friend or follow a person who loves The Shining by Stephen King which I absolutely think is one of the best books of all time, and then I can look at that person’s profile and see what else they’ve read and liked.  Also, people recommend books to their friends and that’s helpful. 
One of the greatest features about this site is the groups section.  They have groups that are genre-focused like Paranormal mystery books, Horror books, Mystery aficionados, etc.  I love that I can peruse these forums for likeminded questions I have about the genre or books.  Some of these groups serve as online book clubs, so if you like assigned reading and sharing your thoughts with a group, this is an excellent place for you to check out.
If you’re an author, Goodreads is a wonderful opportunity for you to meet readers who enjoy the genre in which you write.  For instance, my author profile Lisa M. Logan on Goodreads can be found simply by typing in my name in the search field or my novel’s title “House ofMirrors.”  You’ll see a bio and they can even feature your Facebook and blog links on this profile page.  They also keep a tally of your reviews on Goodreads.  It’s not, however, a place where you should spam book lovers about your book.  But if you’re an author like me who also adores books and reading, you’ve found the right place at Goodreads.com.  Another note for authors who want to use Goodreads to help promote their book:  There are numerous groups of writers on goodreads.com which are specifically geared toward promoting and help one another.  I encourage both readers and writers to check out this site!

Monday, April 8, 2013

House of Mirrors now on Amazon!

House of Mirrors hits the Amazon Kindle store today.  I love a good ghost story, and that's what I set out to write when I started working on House of Mirrors years ago.  It was a project that I worked on during my lunch hour and evenings.  I hope you'll enjoy reading it, and please leave a review on Amazon if you have time.  I'd love to hear what you think.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Free e-book publishing platforms to sell your ebook

I'm planning on launching my debut novel "House of Mirrors" within the next two weeks, so I'm looking at all of the available platforms.  So far, I'm sold on trying Amazon's Kindle Select first.  You have to make your book exclusive to Kindle while enrolled in the program, but considering that's where most people do their book shopping, it makes good marketing sense.
I researched the various platforms available to indie authors, and I posted it below for others who are not interested in making their e-books exclusive to Kindle. 
If you're looking for free e-book publishing platforms on which to sell your latest e-book, then take a look at this short list.  These are free to sign up with unlike others who charge a fee.  I made a note of the ones who offer a 100 percent royalty.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing 35% - 70% royalty
Smashwords 60% - 85% royalty
KOBO Writing Life 70% - 80% royalty
PubIt! 40% - 65% royalty
EbookMall 50% royalty
Scribd 80% royalty
Blurb 80% royalty
MyeBook 90% royalty
PaySpree 90% - 100% royalty
Click2Sell 90% - 95% royalty
* Payhip 100% royalty
* BookTango 100% royalty



Monday, March 18, 2013

Free e-Books? Does it work?

This week I'm offering my short story collection "Death By Clogging" for free. I'm doing this as a promotion for the e-book and also as an experiment. Does it really help your ebook sales to offer your e-book for free? I'll find out and let you know in future posts. In the meantime, if you'd like to download my book Death By Clogging for free via Smashwords.com it's at the link https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91641 I could definitely use some reviewers!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Before and After: Cover makeover

Here's what my homemade book cover looked like before the book cover makeover:
BEFORE
AFTER
The book cover artist who created my NEW book cover is Jeanine Henning. Look her up on Twitter at @JenVinci  I'm hoping to hire her again for another book I have in the works. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

New cover for Death By Clogging

My short story collection "Death By Clogging" got an extreme makeover!  If you want to know what it looked like before, just check out a few earlier posts and you'll see the old homemade version that I made.
I was lucky to find an excellent and talented book cover designer named Jeanine Henning @JenVinci to create a new cover for my book.  I wanted something weird to match the stories in Death By Clogging, and she did exactly that!  If you're looking for an excellent book cover artist at an affordable price, please check out Jeanine Henning's website at JH Illustration

Friday, March 1, 2013

Converting your e-book using Mobipocket eBook Creator

If you want to publish an e-book to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing and you just don't want to hassle with formatting and converting the file on your own--try the free Mobipocket eBook Creator.  It's free software you can use to convert your Word file into a Mobipocket's MOBI file format.  A MOBI file is the equivalent of Amazon's proprietary e-book format AZW.  When you use Mobipocket, your Word file will be converted into an HTML file and then into a MOBI file that you can then upload to Amazon's KDP platform. 
With Mobipocket Creator, you can create e-books from Adobe PDF and TXT files as well as Word.  Also, the software includes a built-in converter that you can use to import PDF files, HTML, and images into your publication.  Another great feature is the Table of Contents Wizard which automatically creates links to the chapters of your ebook using smart heading extraction. 
Lastly, Mobipocket Creator helps protect your e-book from illegal copying by use of its Digital Rights Management (DRM) encryption.  The three security options included in Mobipocket Creator are 1. no encryption, 2. encrypted, and 3. password-protected. 
Overall, Mobipocket is easy to use and navigate.  It's a free tool that makes formatting and converting easier for e-book authors to publish on Amazon's KDP.  You can check out Mobipocket's e-book creator guide here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Price is Right! Choosing the right price for your e-book

Here's the deal on pricing your e-book for Amazon Kindle:  If you price your book below $2.99, you will not receive the 70 percent royalty on sales; you'll only receive 35 percent.
But while I'd like to charge $2.99 a copy, I've got to admit nobody knows me or my writing yet.  So I feel a little pretentious starting out so high at $2.99.  But maybe that will be a good experiment to conduct before I upload my book to Amazon Kindle Select.  I'll let you know when that happens.  In the meantime, I'm working on a new mystery novel.  It's one I've been working on for some time.  I'm finally coming into the home stretch on it, and I'm shooting for April as my due date. 
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you think about pricing e-books.  What do you charge?  Is that price level working for you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is Kindle Select and how can it help sell my e-book?

Amazon Kindle Select is a relatively new program launched to help independent authors and to help Amazon's sales.  It also is a way for Amazon to dominate the e-book industry by requiring independent authors to digitally publish their books exclusively on Amazon Kindle Select.  Authors cannot have the book published on any other platform while enrolled in Amazon.com's Kindle Select program.  The other hitch is that your book will be available for free during the promotional period of time, and lastly, your book will be available for checked out in the Amazon Kindle Owners' Lending Library.  The Kindle Owners' Lending Library can only be accessed by Amazon Prime members. 
The best benefit for independent authors in this program is the 5-day free promotion period every 90 days.  During your free promotion days, Amazon will promote your book on their site and offer it for free for the days you select.  You can either use all 5 days consecutively or you can schedule them sporadically throughout the 90-day period.  Cheryl Kaye Tardif who wrote  How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month Selling My Kindle eBooks broke up her five days into two promotion times:  a three day promotion and then a two day promotion later on.  It worked for her.  Her book tells how she laid out a marketing and promotion plan for her book using Kindle Select.  The book explains how her sales increased over a short time as a result of the program.  It was impressive.
So if you're interested in enrolling your book to Kindle Select, you'll first have to remove it from other platforms like Smashwords, Apple QuickReads, and Barnes & Noble, etc.  But it could be the best move you make in getting your e-book ranked higher in the lists and increasing your sales.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ebook publishing sensation Hugh Howey and Kindle Select

Remember all of those rejection letters from print publishers to which you sent manuscripts? Many unpublished writers can now thumb their noses at the big NYC publishers and do it themselves through digital self-publishing.  In fact, many are making on average $10,000 a year and then there are some raking in only $500.  But the world of digital self-publishing has many new superstars in its ranks--namely Hugh Howey, 37-year-old author of a popular dystopian series "Wool."  A recent article on CNN's website reported that Howey earns on average $150,000 per month.  October 2012 he sold 20,000 copies of "Wool" in one day!  Guess what he used to get his digital publishing career started?  That's right the Kindle Select program.  I'll post more details about the Kindle Select program and how it works.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Formatting e-books for Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

You might be wondering which format to choose when uploading your manuscript to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing.  The best choice is Microsoft Word (.doc/.docx).
KDP also accepts these formats:
HTML (ZIP, HTM, or HTML)
Mobipocket (MOBI)
ePub (EPUB)
Plain Text (TXT)
Rich Text Format (RTF)
Adobe PDF (PDF)
There are a few problems you may run into when using MS Word to upload your e-Book to Amazon.  Complex formatting like tables and graphics could cause conversion errors.  Make sure to use the previewer on KDP if you think your e-book contains complex formatting.  Don't expect the font sizes, margins, and page numbers that you set in Word to convert exactly in KDP.  These settings will not apply because readers can adjust font sizes.
If your document contains graphics, you'll want to use the "Insert" function to add images; not the copy/paste function.
When uploading your MS Word file, make sure you load it all as one file.  But do not include the cover.  KDP will automatically embed the cover image.
If, like many, you try to upload your e-Book in Portable Document Format (PDF), you'll probably run into conversion problems such as
  • irregularly bolded text
  • irregular page breaks
  • irregular font sizes
  • inconsistent text flow
  • and missing or oversized images.
So your best bet is to format and upload your e-Book document in Microsoft Word.

I found a book cover designer!

It didn't take long. I found a terrific book cover designer named Jeanine Henning!  I'll post an update later along with the new cover once it's completed.  There are many great book cover artists out there.  In one of my future posts, I'd love to post a list of top book cover artists for e-books.  Jeanine's work is outstanding.  You can check out her work at http://jhillustration.wordpress.com/
I'm so excited about changing my cover!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Could this be the worst book cover art ever?


UPDATE:  I found a book cover designer!  I'm working with her on planning the new book cover, so when she's finished, I'll post the new book cover design.  I'm so excited about getting a new book cover!

Recently, I've been in search of an affordable but great book cover artist.  Does anyone reading this blog know of a great graphic designer who's affordable?  Please let me know if you do.
Here's what my homemade cover art looks like right now.  I used a photo I took of a rose garden in Raleigh, NC.
Could Death by Clogging possibly be the most hideous e-book cover art ever?  LOL  I think so.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

What is Byliner.com?

Byliner is a showcase of long-form journalism.  It's articles and stories longer than 3,000 words but shorter than a novel.  I guess you could say they are mini-books that can be read in two or three hour spans of time.  Inquisitive readers with short attention spans should love Byliner.com.  It's mostly nonfiction journalism like the article that placed Byliner in the spotlight--"Three Cups of Deceit" by Jon Krakauer (author of Into Thin Air).  It's about Nobel Prize nominee Greg Mortenson fabricating his best selling book Three Cups of Tea and misusing donations.  More about Mortenson's story can be found in this Washington Post article.
Anyway, the article by Krakauer and 60 minutes coverage of it helped launch Byliner into the spotlight in 2011.  The site offers quality writing by today's most famous journalists as well as up-and-coming journalists and authors.  For around $9.99 a month, a reader can subscribe to the site and have access to these articles.
The writers of these long-form articles and stories also reap the benefits.  It's been said that Byliner splits the profits with authors 50/50.  The advantage Byliner authors have is the editorial assistance that the site offers to the writers.  In a nutshell, Byliner.com is heaven for journalist; not so much for the mass audience.  If you're an aspiring writer for the New Yorker or Vanity Fair, then you'll definitely want to check out Byliner.com.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who gets published on Kindle Singles?

Curious as to whether or not my little book stood a chance of being accepted by Kindle Singles, I did a little digging around on the Amazon Kindle Singles site.  Since it's launch in January of 2011, Kindle Singles has published 3 new titles each week.  Their editor received around 50 unsolicited submissions each week, so Dave Blum's job leaves knee deep in manuscripts every day.  Most of the lucky ones who are chosen to live on this list of Kindle Singles are exclusive to Amazon, meaning this is mostly original material.  Others accepted come from traditional publishers and also e-singles publishers The Atavist and Byliner.  More about those sites later.
Most authors covet the Kindle Singles list over the Barnes & Noble Nook Snaps and Apple QuickReads because they receive more marketing and promotion help from Amazon.  Also, you've got to admit most people use Amazon not only for book shopping but for looking up info on a book in mind.  It's like a library helper site as well as a book seller.
So in a nutshell the answer to the question "Who gets published on Kindle Singles?" is the lucky ones.  Also, I've got to admit the talented ones.  So I guess even if you do have a flashy book cover, it's still not going to fly with Kindle Singles because they are looking for quality; not just bling.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's the book cover stupid.

Judging a book by its cover is a reality in marketing an e-book and self-published print books.  Think about it... When you enter a bookstore and you see a homemade looking cover, you probably assume the writing is as bad as the cover.  Call me shallow, but I do, and so do thousands of shoppers out there.  Purchasing decent looking cover art is a necessity in selling your e-book.
Here's an article recently published online at Indie Author News blog:
Bad Cover = Bad Sales
The book cover artist featured in this article is Jeanine Henning and apparently she's great.  Here's her website:  J. H. Illustration
I'm still polishing the first small book of my teen fiction series, so I'm hoping to look into a book cover artist in the near future.  By the way, another option for finding a book cover artist is 99 Designs.com .  On this site you set up a contest for designers to submit their artwork for your book cover.  You post the specifications and they deliver their designs to you in the hopes of winning the award you post of at least $299.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kindle Singles submission guidelines

Kindle Singles:  What are they and how do I submit my own Kindle single to Amazon?
Kindle Singles are great for authors who can't manage to finish that 300-page novel, but who want to get published in the meantime while they're still plotting out that door-stopping tome.  Stephen King should be credited as the author who brought Kindle Singles to life.  His short stories like his latest "Guns" are chart-toppers on Amazon's Kindle Store.  Many Kindle Singles are short fiction, but there are also nonfiction narratives and profiles as well as memoirs.  
In order to have your book featured on Amazon's site, you'll need to follow some submission guidelines much like submitting your work to a literary magazine.  
Here are the basic criteria for a Kindle Single from Amazon's site:
Kindle Singles Criteria
• Length: 5,000 to 30,000 words
• List price: $0.99 to $4.99
• Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
• Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
• Not published on any public website in its entirety
• We are currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children's books. 


To learn more about Amazon's guidelines, go to   http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000700491