Ashes of Deceit Blog Tour + Giveaway

I’m feeling pretty lucky today. I haven’t been eaten by vampires. If you want to stay safe also, I suggest you check out 101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire. Best of all Joleene Naylor is here to share some wisdom with us as she celebrates her new release!

 

The Power of the Freebie

First I would like to thank Reena for hosting me and my giveaway (see details at the end of this post) on the eighth stop of the blog tour celebrating the release of my newest book in the Amaranthine series, Ashes of Deceit. Reena is a not only a sweet heart but a wonderful author (check out her books if you haven’t before!)

Most of the stops on this tour have been geared towards readers, but today’s is more for fellow indie writers. Writers are always looking for promotion ideas. I’ve seen suggestions that range from the practical to the bizarre and back again and, while I am not a million book selling author, I am clearing a couple hundred sales a month. I’ve tried many of the suggestions – a facebook author page, twitter, blogs, blog hops, blog tours (though this is my first), free ebooks etc. etc. But the one that seems to work the best for me are my Vampire Morsels.

Since I write a series, I have a “universe” rich in side characters and bit players. The vampire morsels are short stories (between 3,000 – 5,000 words) about some of those side characters, which I then upload to Smashwords (and through them Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc) as freebies – but not to Amazon because they don’t support free without hassle– and I’m fairly certain this is why I sell more books on Barnes and Noble than I do Amazon. In fact, I’ve gotten emails from readers stating that they read the free stories first and liked them so much that they went on to buy the novels – which aren’t free.

Why does this work better than, say, giving away book 1 in the series for free? It seems that there are different mindsets about what is worth money and what isn’t among readers who download freebies. As with any kind of marketing, different tactics work on different groups. For the sake of simplicity, I am breaking it up into three categories. (Like anything this is not written in stone and does not apply to everyone or every situation).

The Free Hoarder: I am one of these. I used to download a lot of free ebooks – in fact every free ebook someone sent me a link to – but truth is I rarely got to them (and still haven’t) because I’d usually rather read that book I paid for – after all, I wouldn’t have paid for it if I didn’t REALLY want it (yeah, I’m a cheapskate.) and now, let’s face it, with Amazon’s KDP select promo weeks, there are free, full length ebooks EVERYWHERE, not to mention those that were free to begin with. So you give away a hundred free books, but how many of those actually get read?

The Why-Should-I-Pay-if-It’s-Free?: As I mentioned above, there are a LOT of free ebooks, so even if someone reads all the free books they download, you now have to deal with “assigned worth.” Everything – housing, food, clothing, books – are only worth what someone is willing to pay, and with a glut of freebies, some readers don’t see the point in paying. “Why buy when you can have another one for free”? Sadly, it is an economically sound idea. So, unless your book REALLY strikes a chord with this reader, chances are that, even if they liked it, they will simply download another free book by another author rather than buy your other books.

The Some-Things-Are Worth-It Reader: People have long given little worth to the short story (despite the fact that it is often harder to write!) One complaint I see on reviews of paid short stories is that readers are “angry that I paid for this! It’s not even a full book!” Which means that, in these readers’ minds, a full book is worth money, but a short story isn’t. So, while they don’t want to pay for your short story (heck, you can find those on blogs nowadays!) if this reader likes the free short story, they’re more likely to buy the full length book because they believe that the full length book has a monetary value.

The question is, what group do you want to cater to? That depends on your goals. Ruth Ann Nordin made an amazing start for herself with free full length books – which later led to headaches and complications when she wanted money because she was no longer targeting the I-Want-It-Free-group – where she’d built up a huge fan base – but was suddenly targeting the I-Will-Pay-For-It group and the I-want-it-Free readers only sometimes turn into the Here’s-My-Money kind of readers.

If the short story is long enough, it will give readers a taste of your style, and if you can make it tie into your newest book, even better, but I don’t think it’s necessary. While I’ve had readers say they were “curious about the characters” and so went on to the full length books, most just say “I liked your style/sense of humor/etc.”.

That’s not to say that as a romance author you should promote your books with sci-fi stories because while they like your style, they also like the genre of short story or else they wouldn’t have read it. My Amaranthine series has sex, violence, and romance in it (heck, there’s even a bit of a murder mystery in Ashes of Deceit) and so I have tried to come up with short stories that reflect these various “topics”, if you will, because a reader who did not get what they expected is very often an unhappy reader. And unhappy readers leave unhappy reviews.

And if you get enough of those, all the free promos in the world won’t save your book.

And now for the giveaway!

(Yes, I recognize the irony of this, but I’m counting on you to be that reader who breaks out of the mold and goes on to love the rest of the series!) One lucky commenter will receive a coupon code for a free ebook from Smashwords. Since this is a series, the winner may choose which of the books they would like to receive:

Book 1: Shades of Gray – Katelina’s “friend-with-benefits” is murdered for stealing something from a coven of vampires. Hunted as an accomplice, she must rely on Jorick to survive. But what happens when her knight in shining armor turns out to be one of the monsters?

Book 2: Legacy of Ghosts – For Katelina and Jorick, peace is hard to come by. Kateesha plans to fight the same battle as Jorick’s fledgling, but a common enemy isn’t enough to overcome previous betrayals. Drawn into a deathly conflict, Jorick and Katelina must overcome old regrets, or lose their future to the ghosts of their past.

Book 3: Ties of Blood – A trip to Katelina’s home starts a chain reaction; she and Jorick meet Verchiel, a too friendly vampire, then the police arrest Jorick for kidnapping. Worse, The Guild wants to question them. Will Malick, the head of the vampires, punish them? Or will the mysterious vampire following them do the job first?

Book 4: Ashes of Deceit – Katelina and Jorick must rescue a captured vampire and discover who kidnapped him and why. The truth isn’t easy to find. As Oren’s attack on the Guild draws closer, Jorick and Katelina are led back to the Citadel. When the flames of war ignite, can they rise from the ashes, or will they be consumed?

Follow the tour for more chances to win!

(here’s the link to my blog post with the dates/links to other posts –http://joleenenaylor.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/my-first-blog-tour/ )

You can find more of Joleene Naylor and her vampires at her website: http://JoleeneNaylor.com or check out her blog at http://JoleeneNaylor.WordPress.com or her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks.

Who Art Thou Thursday: Joleen Naylor

Today, we get a little insight on what goes on in the mind of Joleene Naylor.

Tell us about your most recent publication.

Legacy of Ghosts is the second book in the Amaranthine vampire series and picks up where Shades of Gray left off. Katelina and Jorick, her vampire boyfriend, plan to get some rest and recover from all the fighting and bloodshed they’ve endured, but it isn’t long before trouble finds them. Plagued by conflicts both at home (Just what *is* behind the locked door Jorick keeps disappearing into?) and from outside (Oren’s cryptic warning that the vampiress Kateesha is after them), will they ever get a chance to sort out their relationship and get some peace?

Give us a brief description of a story you have hidden in your skeleton closet? And will it ever see the light of day?

My “skeleton closet” book is Wednesday’s Child, which I wrote when I was 17/18. It’s a long, miserable story about a girl who runs away from home with a “bad boy” and gets into lots of trouble. I posted it on my MySpace blog a couple years ago, but I never intend to seriously publish it. It needs too much work and frankly it has too many “true” parts hidden in it.

How much of you/your life do you put into your stories?

I think most characters have to be part of you or else you couldn’t understand or empathize with them. I think when an author writes characters that don’t have any of themselves in them that they turn out “wooden”.  There’s not really a lot of my life carbon copied into the vampire books (and here you thought I spent my nights fighting coven wars 😉 ) but for instance Katelina is quitting smoking in the first book because when I wrote it I was, and her terminal diet of microwave food is something else I’ve been through, as well as the isolation thing she has started to experience when being surrounded by only Jorick, or Jorick’s friends and having none of her own. The one I need to try for research is to really go a month without seeing any daylight to see what it’s really like. I’ve gone a week or so, but never that long.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Edit. Edit. Edit. Poorly edited books give all self published authors a bad name. They’re the examples that the naysayers point to as proof that self published authors are all “quacks”.

What are you working on now?

The third book, Ties of Blood, is being edited, and I am working on a short story compilation called Vampire Morsels. Each one is a short story about a different side character from the series that didn’t get enough “face time”. I’m posting them one at a time to Smashwords as free reads (each is around 3,000 words) and when I’m done I’ll put them all together into one collection.

Who would you say is your biggest fan in your writing career?

I have four who are tied: Carolyn Cason is the president of the unofficial “leave Oren alone” fan club (and also my wonderful editor!), and Sharon Stogner is at the top of the “I love Jorick” group followed closely by  my mom – which came as a huge surprise and then Jonathan Harvey who painstakingly reads everything I post – even the aforementioned Wednesday’s Child.

Which author has inspired you the most?

I aspire to that creepy level of VC Andrews (She’s the only author I’ve ever read who could make a shelf of stuffed animals seem somehow dark and menacing.) and of course Ann Rice’s vampires were a huge inspiration. I remember when I watched “Interview with the Vampire” for the first time when I was a kid and there were all these “new ideas” in it about vampires that just made so much sense to me and hooked me right away.

Why did you decide to publish independently?

Because I wanted to do my own cover. Okay, no that’s not the only reason, but it was a factor. The only reason I wanted a contract is because I am lousy at promotion, and when I found out that most traditional authors have to do their own, I didn’t see the point anymore. I’d been doing research on self publishing and I liked all of the control factors, but that just sealed it for me.

Where do you get inspirations for your stories?

Anime is a big one. Random images I run across, things I notice in other books that someone should have done, ideas other people spring at me. Just all over, really.

How do you come up with your cover art?

I went with a white book because when I first started I expected to do a lot of paperback sales, and if a white book is stacked with a lot of black ones then that white book will stand out more. Different is really what I was going for all the way around (hence there’s no blood and it doesn’t look very vampire at a glance). I don’t know if that has hurt or helped, though. On one hand, a lot of people who’ve picked the book up have said “I don’t normally read vampire books, but I liked this one”, so it is attracting non-traditional readers for the genre, but at the same time I think some paranormal fans are turned off because it doesn’t follow the traditional pattern.

How about some quickies!

Pencil or Pen: Pen

Print or Cursive: Cursive

Pantser or Plotter: Pantser

Favorite Candy: the old style mint chocolate Hershey’s kisses

Worst habit: chewing on things.

 

 

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About the Joleene Naylor

Joleene Naylor grew up in southwest Iowa surrounded by corn and very little entertainment – so she made her own. She’s been writing and drawing since she was a child, with a leaning towards fantasy, horror and paranormal. It’s this love of all that goes bump in the night that lead her to write the Amaranthine vampire series. In her spare time she’s a freelance artist and photographer. Joleene does freelance book cover art, maintains blogs full of odd ramblings, illustrates a webcomic and hopes to win the lottery. However, unless she starts buying tickets she may never actually win anything.

Stalk Joleene Naylor on her Website: http://joleenenaylor.com

 

 

Find works by Joleene Naylor at the following locations:

Barnes & Nobles
Amazon US (paperback)
Amazon US (kindle)
Amazon UK (kindle)
Kobo e-book Store
Smashwords
Sony Reader Store
Borders

Amazon US (paperback)
Amazon US (kindle)
Amazon UK (paperback)
Amazon UK (kindle)
B&N NOOKbook
Kobo e-book Store
Smashwords
Sony Reader Store
Borders

Amazon US (kindle)
Amazon UK – (kindle)
B&N NOOKbook
Kobo e-book Store
Smashwords
Sony Reader Store
Borders

 

B&N NOOKbook
Kobo e-store
Smashwords.com
Borders

Tuesday Teaser: Legacy of Ghosts by Joleene Naylor

My talented writing buddy, Joleene Naylor, has returned for another visit, and she comes bearing gifts! An excerpt from Legacy of Ghosts, her second book in the Amaranthine vampire series.

After the events of Shades of Gray, Katelina seeks a moment’s peace with Jorick, but such peace is hard to come by in a world shrouded in secrets and threatened by a brewing storm. Though Kateesha, a former ally, builds a war coven to fight the same battle as Jorick’s fledgling, a common enemy isn’t enough to overcome past betrayals, and the tempest explodes into a violent frenzy. Drawn into a deathly conflict, Katelina will have to make the ultimate decision between the world of sunlight and the world of darkness. Will she and Jorick band together and lay the memory of past mistakes to rest, or will they be haunted by their ghosts forever?

It was a nightmare.

Blood; there was blood everywhere. Her clothes were soaked with it and it stained her pale skin in smears of red. She sat on the floor, a body cradled in her arms. Hot tears fell from her eyes and her vision was so blurry she could barely see them.

“No,” she heard an aching voice whisper; torn and raw. “Not again. God, not again!”

She’d tried to stop the bleeding, but nothing worked. She pulled them closer and screamed to the ceiling, a wordless howl of pain. She could hear their heart slowing and she knew they were dying. They were dying and it hurt so much! Her chest felt hollow and empty, stabbed through with something sharp, and she buried her face against their bloody neck. She could stop this, she knew how to do it. There was a way, but if she did it they’d hate her forever…

She stared down at the figure in her arms and counted their decreasing heart beats. How many more would there be until they stopped completely? Fresh, hot pain coursed through her and she knew that she had to do it no matter the consequence. She couldn’t just watch them die.

She lifted her own arm to her mouth and bit into it. It hurt, but the pain was nothing compared to what she was already feeling. Dark blood ran down her arm and she pressed her bleeding flesh against their slack lips and forced her blood inside their mouth. A tiny trail leaked from the corner and ran down their chin; a miniature river. The sight choked her.

“I’m sorry,” the voice whispered, heavy with unshed sobs. “I’m sorry.” And then she opened her mouth and clamped it around their dying throat. She didn’t feel her teeth slice through their skin, but she tasted the blood as it filled her mouth. She swallowed almost desperately, her mind seeking something in the connection; some spark. No, it couldn’t be too late! It couldn’t!

“You can’t die, Katelina, You can’t die!”

She woke, startled. It wasn’t her dream, but Jorick’s.

 

Legacy of Ghosts by Joleene Naylor is available at the following locations:

Barnes & Nobles
Amazon US (paperback)
Amazon US (kindle)
Amazon UK (kindle)
Kobo e-book Store
Smashwords
Sony Reader Store
Borders

 

***************************

About the Joleene Naylor

Joleene Naylor grew up in southwest Iowa surrounded by corn and very little entertainment – so she made her own. She’s been writing and drawing since she was a child, with a leaning towards fantasy, horror and paranormal. It’s this love of all that goes bump in the night that lead her to write the Amaranthine  vampire series. In her spare time she’s a freelance artist and photographer.  Joleene does freelance book cover art, maintains blogs full of odd ramblings, illustrates a webcomic and hopes to win the lottery.  However, unless she starts buying tickets she may never actually win anything.

Stalk  Joleene Naylor on her Website: http://joleenenaylor.com

Guest Post: Joleene Naylor ~ Transforming Cover Art into a Wraparound

Today I’m turning the blog over to Joleene Naylor—Artist, Author, Photographer—she’s just got her hands in so many pots. 🙂 Welcome her as she simplifies cover art for us do it yourselfers.

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In December Reena hosted a blog about how to find an artist to create your book cover.  But, what if you later decide to move that ebook into a paper back?

A paperback book has to have a full, wraparound cover. In other words there has to be material for the front, spine and the back of the book. This might sound daunting, but don’t sweat it. Anyone can turn their ebook cover into a full-fledged wrap around

The easiest way to make your cover is to use the cover creator in your POD of choice. (Some have better directions than others, though the programs are essentially the same, so you can use the superior FAQ at LuLu- http://www.lulu.com/en/help/covers_faq.  ) Import the front cover into the cover creator and then you can create the back cover in the online program, or make a back cover as a single image (the same way you did the front cover), then place the images correctly and, voile! You’re all done. However, cover creators don’t allow you to import images for the spine. If you try to, it will simply place them on the front cover instead. This includes logos.

Before you jump into your back cover there are a few things to consider. For starters, it needs to match the front cover. You don’t want a purple back and a primarily yellow front.  Be careful of using full sized images, as well, because it’s usually hard to read words over the top of them, unless you understand opacities and layers in your art program.

But what exactly do you need to put on your back cover?

1-    The bar code. Most POD places will provide that for you.
2-    Your copyright information (example: © Publication year Your Name/ All Rights Reserved). Near the left hand corner is a good place.
3-    You may also want to include a link to your website. If you capitalize keywords it makes your URL easier to remember: prettypinkponies vs PrettyPinkPonies.
4-    Most important is your “description”. It can be a blurb, a small excerpt, a hook, the description you used on Amazon, whatever.  But, remember, it is the meat and potatoes of the back cover, and everything else is the gravy. You don’t want any of the design elements to interfere with the readability.

If you have space left over, you may wish to include an author bio, a photo, or even “other books by”.  Whichever you choose, don’t turn it into a long, laundry list. Only mention a couple of books that pertain to this one (eg the same genre) or that have sold the most copies.  The reader can always look inside the book for the list of your other titles.

Whether you’re adding that author photo, using a decorative image, or just making the whole thing and then uploading it, there are some things you need to remember:

1-    Make sure you have permission or a license for the image
2-    Don’t use blurry webcam type photos. They don’t print well.
3-    Make sure all your images are 300 DPI. Smaller images will print badly.

The most important thing to remember is this; book covers aren’t scary. They’re an extension of your book, and they should be as much fun to make as your book was to craft. If you find yourself frustrated, angry, or upset, then take a breather and come back to it later, or get some help.  If you hate the cover, everyone else will, too.

Have you done a paperback cover? What worked for you? What didn’t work?

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Joleene NaylorBio: Joleene Naylor is a freelance artist and author of the eBook How to Get a Cheap Book Cover and the Amaranthine vampire series. Her current projects include Ties of Blood, the third in the series, a collection of short stories titled Vampire Morsels, and The Terrible Turtle Conspiracy webcomic. In her free time she creates book covers for other authors, blogs and waits patiently to win the lottery. Learn more about her at her website: http://JoleeneNaylor.com