“I like FREE and use it to build readership, fans, and followers which leads to sales.” ~~Valerie Allen
More marketing advice coming very soon.
Short Stories as Promotion?
An Interview with Valerie Allen by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
The word “influencer” may be overused so I tend to avoid it. But my online friend Valerie Allen embodies the truest meaning of the word. I know her from her work producing writers’ conferences and book fairs in Florida, but I recently noticed that she is doing a lot for creative writing, specifically short stories. I saw that she is creating her own anthologies and short story collections and help other writers do the same.
I once published under a now-defunct Amazon program called “shorts” and loved it, so I wondered how these single-story were doing. I wondered if she found them effective. So, I bombarded her with questions and here are some things she told me.
I’ve written 50+ short stories (all under 2000 words). I have five short story anthologies , about 150 pgs. each, and have published them as books retailing at $7.99. The ebooks are $2.99. I issue many in large print. Three are in audio. They are:
- . ‘Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume One .
- . ‘Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume Two.
- . ‘Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume Three
- . A Gift for Mom
- . Stories for the Man in Your Life
The last two are individual stories just for moms and men. I pulled them from the first three anthologies listed above.
Valerie knows I believe in many aspects of recycling to maximize our effectiveness as authors!)
I Indie publish all of my work via KDP as books, large print books, ebooks, and I use ACX. I hate initialism so I am going to tell you what that is, even if you already know. It is the audiobook production service and rights marketplace owned and controlled by Audible, Inc. and available at www.acx.com.
I also publish all my short stories separately as ebooks for only .99 cents each.
I like FREE and use it to build readership, fans, and followers which leads to sales. I post a single short story for FREE for various holidays, especially Christmas. I also have a Big Birthday Book Bash for my July 20th birthday each year when all my books and short stories are FREE for the five days allowed by Amazon’s Select program. I also post a different short story once a month FREE on StoryStar.com, I now have over 1000 readers and have won Story Star of the Week and of the Day several times.
I post a short story each Friday as “Your weekend quick short story, read” with the link to buy from Amazon. Amazon lists these short stories as “Single Authors Short Stories” and “15-Minute Literature & Fiction Short Reads.” I do not offer my short stories in anthologies that are published by others but if one with a following like Chicken Soup worked for a story, I’d do it for the credibility.
I’ve built a big following via my short stories and this has lead to an increase in sales of all of my work. It has also increased traffic to my authors organization, AuthorsForAuthors.com. GoDaddy notified me that we are consistently at a 96% contact rate, which is one of their highest ever. My AuthorsforAuthors partners and I have built a Facebook group for Authors with folks from all over the US and some from other countries
I’ve received many offers to speak at various book/author events but I decline due to many obligations I have – but still find it flattering! I’ve connected via networking with many other “influencers,” though I resist the concept.
I promote using Facebook and Twitter; I also have my own contact list of almost 1000 direct emails addresses from people I know personally or have done business with in the book/author community. I often am contacted and asked to do book reviews; if it is something I’m interested in I accept but they must send a real book; I am also willing to read and review children’s picture books.
Can Valerie answer questions any other questions for you? If so, please put them in the Contact Box on Writer Advice’s Home Page, and I’ll forward the e-mails until both of you ask for each other’s e-mails. You can also learn more about her at ValerieAllenWriter.com and Amazon.com/author/valerieallen.
MORE ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE:
Valerie Allen is a prolific writers of fiction but she also writes nonfiction to help writers, books like Write, Publish, Sell! 2 ed. Her other books include Amazing Grace, Sins of the Father, Suffer The Little Children, and The Prodigal Son, among others. Learn more at ValerieAllenWriter.com and Amazon.com/author/valerieallen. Her email is VAllenWriter@gmail.com
MORE ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER:
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, editor, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books published by Modern History Press include the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter. Her The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and the coveted Irwin award and others on topics for writing as varied as writing book proposals and making the magic of Twitter work for you will soon be published by that same press. Find more in her #HowToDoItFrugally Series at https://howtodoitfrugally.com.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
MARKETING: A Different Skill Set
By B. Lynn Goodwin
Marketing requires a different skill set from writing. Some people market their books beautifully, and maybe some talk a good game but aren’t all that successful.
Instead of talking about marketing this quarter, I’m going to share some resources. Find something repeated in more than one article? It might well be worth pursuing.
This guest post on renowned expert Jane Friedman’s site gives lots of good tips. Don’t let the 2018 date concern you. If you need resources, this article is filled with them.
Finalizing the submission you’re about to market? You’ll learn a lot from Rebirthing Your Writing with Dinty Moore and Allison K. Williams. These experts know what they are doing.
- Maybe I should add a contest for teens on Writer Advice.
- Maybe I need to do something more assertive, like checking with high school journalism classes to see if anyone wants to interview an author or arrange an event. I’d be helping them be of service and they’re helping me get the word out. This just might be a win-win – even in a pandemic.
- See how one idea can lead to another?
Do a google search entitled “Marketing + (your genre)” brings up for you. Also try a search for “Bloggers + (your genre)” and Influencers + (your genre).”
There are more and more contests for indie published and self published work all the time. They charge fees, so set a budget and pick two or three that you think might work for you.
You’ll find some fresh ideas in Writer’s Digest’s article, “What Starting a Business and Launching a Book Have in Common: It’s All About the Investment.”
Speaking of investments, invest some time and energy in supporting the work of author’s you like. Years ago I started Writer Advice so that I could interview authors and have a place where I could share the advice they gave. It seemed like a win-win, and the authors I interviewed felt the same way. A kind word, a thank you, and sharing a passage you liked can all go a long way when you are investing in relationships with your fellow authors.
Offer to talk to people in libraries, book clubs, classrooms, lecture halls, and coffee shops. Talk about your books and your beliefs.
Final suggestion: Do a little bit of marketing every day—at least 5 days a week. Keep at it. Things will begin to click and one connection will lead to another. If you’re published, and even if you’re not, please take a look at a sample author page on Amazon.
Okay, my author page. What will yours look like?