Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Leanna's Marketing Smackdown #1 - Tips for Writers

Last year I wrote a quarterly column for my local RWA Chapter, RWA NYC, in their Keynotes Newsletter. Since then, several of the articles have been reprinted by other RWA chapters and since I'm continuing the column into 2011, I thought I'd post the 2010 columns here. While I'm not remotely a Marketing expert, I do spend a lot of time on various marketing strategies and happen to have a lot to say about it. I hope writers might find this useful, and that readers and fans might find it interesting (or perhaps daunting) to know some of the many things we authors are doing while trying to juggle everything else in our life. That's why I call it the smackdown, because it's us, battling our own limitations, battling time, battling to get our books noticed. I hope you enjoy! (These top ten lists will repeat either monthly or bi-monthly, depending on how many I'm able to create.)

So, here goes:

Leanna's MARKETING SMACKDOWN #1 - Managing Expectations

Copyright 2010 by Leanna Renee Hieber

Before you embark on marketing yourself and your work, it's good to check in with your friend and foe: Expectations.

1. No matter how awesome your publisher, they’ll likely not do all the marketing you’d like them to do – pick up the slack and know your fellow authors are all doing the same.

2. No one else cares as much about your book and your career as you do. Realize that and use it as motivation.

3. Manage your expectation of yourself – be honest about what’s reasonable and feasible for you in the following categories: costs, time, travel, workload, sanity.

4. Manage expectations of others: Friends are awesome. If you ask them (nicely) they will likely buy your book and tell their friends to buy your book. Just realize karma is a huge key word, so be thankful for all that everyone does – don’t just expect too much every time. Prioritize how you utilize your personal and immediate network lest you burn them out early on in your career.
5. Social networking is free but it does take time. And it takes some reciprocity too. People won’t follow you on twitter / facebook, etc, without some reciprocity – comes back to, Karma. Re-tweet other authors’ good news, interesting tidbits, run contests, etc – make your social networking interactive and suddenly you’re in community. Pick the social networking sites that appeal to you and use them – don’t waste time on a platform you hate, find the ones that work organically for you and that seem to generate some sense of result.

6. Expect that you will get tired. Rest, and start again.

7. Expect that people will love (and hate) your book. DO NOT go off the deep end on Amazon, twitter, etc. Career-ending mistake.

8. Expect not to make money right away. Or soon. You’ll have to invest more than you’ll immediately receive. Think of it like starting your own small business – you are.

9. Readers will have expectations of you too. Know how you fit within your genre or how you stretch the boundaries of your genre.

10. Throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks. A lot of great marketing is a ‘right place right time’ thing and not every strategy will work for every person. See what feels right to you – instincts are a good asset.

Happy writing, happy selling!

Tweet? Follow me on Twitter @LeannaRenee

Facebook? Here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recipe! Cincinnati-style chili cheese coney dogs - vegetarian style!

Hello friends!

Taking a break from talking about books to discuss another favourite topic: Yummy food and animal rights. I'm a vegetarian for environmental and animal rights reasons. I'm blessed to live in New York City where making that choice is a lot easier than in other parts of the country and world. I do miss some local delicacies, though.

(Photo credit: Cincy Images)

I grew up in rural Ohio north of the Cincinnati metro area. Anyone who has ever traveled through or lived there knows Cincinnati is all about the chili. And thankfully, local stores sell solo seasoning packets so you can to take that unique spicy-sweet taste on the road with you.

The last time I was home I thought to myself, knowing there are awesome veggie/vegan meat substitutes by Lightlife and others, that it would be easy to switch out the meat for meatless products, and still enjoy all the yummy hometown flavor! (For a tiny, tiny fraction of the calories and fat).

To be clear, I'm not getting paid to share this, I just believe in discussing different food options, for the sake of health and for animals, and this food is close to my heart! Marcos and I (we've a vegetarian household, bunny included *s*) were so excited by how deliciously it turned out!

You need:
1. A Cincinnati Recipe style spice packet from local Cincinnati Tri-state grocery stores or call Skytime, Inc for a mail order: 1-800-443-4371. These spice packets are spices only, making them vegan-friendly.
2. Lightlife Smart Ground or TVP of your choice (Texturized Vegetable Protein)
3. Tomato Paste (6 oz can or 8 oz can of plain tomato sauce)
4. Lightlife Smart Dogs vegetarian hot dogs or the brand of your choice
5. Shredded mild cheddar cheese (if you're vegan, your health food store should sell vegan cheese)
6. Hot-dog buns

Step 1. Obtain spice packets! Read the directions.
Step 2. Rather than the ground beef it calls for, add Lightlife Smart Ground (I make it with two 12 oz packages of Smart Ground, makes a nice pot-full and makes for great leftovers)
Step 3. Follow additive directions; water, tomato paste, etc.
Step 4. Bring to a boil then simmer to desired thickness.
Step 5. Drop Smart Dogs into boiling water (Approx 2 minutes)
Ste[ 6. Dogs into buns!
Step 7. Pour chili over the dogs.
Step 8. Generously sprinkle shredded cheese over top of chili, it will melt over top. (Additional topping option: Chopped onions)

YUM! Voila! You have the same delicious chili! Its a very easy meal that goes a long way, one chili packet and 2 packages of Smart Ground can easily top 12-14 coney dogs!

It refrigerates well for left-overs, and can top all kinds of dishes. Cincinnati-style chili (and shredded cheddar) goes over plain spaghetti too!

Thanks to the beauty of soy technology, I'm thrilled to have one of my favourite childhood indulgences again, but with less guilt! :)

Cheers and bunny kisses from Persebunny! (Visit Lightlife and other vegetarian food companies for great tips and recipes!)

For cruelty-free beauty tips, please visit the AAVS Compassionate Consumer guide! It's free!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Miss Percy goes to Poland!

Miss Percy goes to Poland!

Here's my first glimpse at the Polish cover for The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, Miss Percy's first foreign translation! Isn't it neat?!

I'm beside myself. Percy and the Guard are very excited too.

Polish Publisher: AMBER - (check out their site, it's awesome!)- Expected publication date: Feb. 1st 2011
*dances Polka*

This is my first foreign rights sale so I'm feeling very shiny and thrilled, to see a beautiful cover in another language and to see your name on it... well... there's just something so uniquely special and sacred about it to me. Writers are storytellers in their soul and bones, and to think that my story might cross language barriers even, well, it kinda makes me cry. Like all of this is bigger than me. Because it is, for all writers. Our stories are bigger than ourselves and they'll live in this world in ways we might never be able to. That's very special. And I feel very blessed by such an opportunity for my work to take on a whole new life, a whole new language. That's magical.
Strangely Beautiful Blessings!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Aeternitas Harry Potter convention! Keynote Speaker!

So as you all know, I'm a Harry Potter fan. (FANATIC) (Pictured: Me with The Group That Shall Not Be Named Slytherin contingent, opening night, Deathly Hallows part 1)

So being asked to be a keynote speaker at Aeternitas 2011 Harry Potter convention is like a dream come true. And crazy awesome. Thanks tons to Jonathon of the incredible NYC Meetup The Group That Shall Not Be Named for asking me, and for HP-MA, the sponsor for agreeing. It will take place April 28, 2011 to May 1, 2011 at The Margate Resort in Laconia, NH.

The event space is gorgeous, as is their Castle in the Clouds destination, all profits go to charity, and they're kindly throwing me a release party for The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess! (A Strangely Beautiful prequel)

My keynote, along with the lovely and talented Robyn Schneider aka Violet Haberdasher of Knightley Academy, is on "From Fandom to Fiction —Two Authors Share Their Experiences as Writers and Fans"

It's true, being a fan of fantasy fiction - really good fantasy fiction like Harry Potter, it does and it should influence writers who seek to bring their own lush and richly created worlds out into this world. We are very excited and blessed to share our journey with those who love similar things we love, all coming together for common appreciation and even better - a good cause! Aeternitas proceeds supports The Harry Potter Alliance - fighting real life Horcruxes! And the Lung Cancer Association.

Follow Aeternitas on Twitter , Follow The Group That Shall Not Be Named on Twitter
- Aeternitas on FB - The Aeternitas website

And forward this along to any Harry Potter fan, (and/or Strangely Beautiful fan) it's going to be EPIC!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess (Strangely Beautiful #3) Cover and Trailer reveal!

I give you the cover! (Huge thanks to True-Blood.Net for my cover reveal!)

The back cover reads:

“I cannot recommend this book, this series, or this author enough.” —True-Blood.Net on The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker

The Goddess:
In the beginning, there were lovers: a winged deity of power and light, and a queen of grace and beauty. Phoenix was murdered, his beloved stolen away to the Whisper-world. But their passion inspired the Muses. Through great sacrifice, it could live again.
The Guard:
There are always six, mortal hosts for the divine. Battling spirits through the ages, they defy Darkness, Lord of the Dead. In 1867, a shadow rises. The tide turns against them, and all hope falls on a child of prophecy, an eerie, snow-white girl yet to be born. But her path must be cleared. A Great War is coming, and song, wind and stars whisper that eighteen-year-old Beatrice Smith must give everything to prepare."
Author's Note: For those who have wondered the why and the how, I hope this prequel will be illuminating, bringing together familiar characters in some of their most formative moments, and introducing characters only spoken of in legend. The stage will also be set for what comes next when the 19th century, and the series, draws to a close in the fourth book. For those new to the Strangely Beautiful world, this prequel would be a fine place to jump in before returning to books one and two. Seeds planted, terrible storms will come, but watered ground means life.
Releasing May 2011 - in Trade Paperback and digital - ALONG WITH Trade Paperback reissues of Strangely Beautiful books 1 and 2! All are now available for pre-order.
The book trailer!