Thursday, December 31, 2015

Re-Blog: Here’s a Handy Trick If You Use Word by Leah Braemel

Warning Scrivener Users!

I had a melt-down-worthy moment with Scrivener recently. (I'm on a PC, by the way.) I just finished composing my entire 106k manuscript for my next novel and Scrivener did some updates to their software. When I opened my manuscript in the updated version, it told me I had to convert the old file format in order to be used in the updated software. Where there were once seventeen chapters and an epilogue, I was down to the first three chapters of my book! Fifteen chapters...GONE!

Thank the GODS I still had my old computer with the older version of the software and was able to open the back-up and export the whole thing into MS Word. Crisis averted and I didn't end up sitting in the corner, sucking my thumb and rocking back and forth while I lamented over losing my novel. What a nightmare!

One of the main reasons I started using Scrivener was the ease of being able to break my book into scenes and then be able to move those scenes around with ease just by dragging and dropping them wherever I needed. After this little near-miss, I posted my woes in a network group I belong to, asking for recommendations of new software that would do the same thing, and the lovely Leah Braemel shared a blog post she wrote about how you can do the same exact thing in MS Word! I was so excited, I just had to share!

Here's a link to the original post, which shows you exactly how to do this nifty little trick!!

>>Here's a Handy Trick If You Use Word<<

by Leah Braemel

Although I loved the flexibility of moving things around in Scrivener, I did not like quirks of formatting text, how I always had to change my font to something other than Courier New (in spite of instructions I followed to fix the defaults) and then the mess the document was in once I exported it for eBook formatting. Too much junk in the background of the file! But the flexibility of moving scenes around was a big enough win for me to stick with it. I really have enjoyed working with MS Word as the final product. NOW I can!! *Arial does the Snoopy dance*

I hope this helps someone else!!

That's my two pence...

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Best Time to Write and Get Ideas, According to Science

Someone in my RAMN (Romance Authors Marketing Network) group posted this article in our Facebook group and I just HAD to reblog it here! I find myself referring other authors to this article often, so I thought it would be easier to re-post here. Nice reference for me and now available to those in my circle.
Author: Kevan Lee - March 10, 2014

What does your ideal day look like? Would you believe there’s a scientifically correct answer to the question?
Research into the human body—its hormone  allotment, its rhythms, and its tendencies—has found that there are certain times of day when the body is just better at performing certain activities. Eat breakfast no later than 8:00 a.m. Exercise between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Read Twitter from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. (your fellow tweeters are more upbeat in the morning).
Turns out our optimal times for performing a large number of tasks are best left up to science. If breakfast can be black-and-white, does that mean writing and creativity can be, too?

Monday, August 24, 2015

How to Use a Landing Page to Collect E-Mails While Using the Instafreebie FREE Account.
I'm ramping up to grow my mailing list. However, money is tight these days, so I have to get creative with what's free and pay for easier methods later when I can afford it.

If your budget is tight and buying InstaFreebie’s premium account is a little steep for you right now, here’s something I set up for myself to take advantage of their free account. These are the steps…and then below I explain the hows and whys of each step.

  1. Set up a landing page
  2. Create a separate mailing list for the landing page campaign
  3. Create an InstaFreebie giveaway
  4. Create an autoresponder which includes the InstaFreebie link
  5. Extras – take advantage of referrals with additional giveaways.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Plugin Review: MyMail Newsletter

Well, my migration over to my website is complete! What a nightmare that was! However, it certainly wasn't because of the new newsletter plugin I installed. It was because it took me a lot of time to find a plugin that would do what I needed AND because of the other plugins that DIDN'T do the job...I was trying to fit my website to match their ridiculous structure. As I said...nightmare.

Part of the mess was the data I was trying to clean up, but if I had found MyMail Newsletter plugin before I messed with these other plugins, I wouldn't have had so much trouble!! I'm hoping that by sharing this review, you will save some time, too.

NOTE: I have a WordPress website that I host on a shared server with hosting services. I have been using Pair since 2002 and they are, by far, THE BEST hosting service I have had the pleasure to work with. Their servers are hardly EVER down. I think in the 13 years I've been using them, my website has been down...twice? At least due to their server issues versus the times my site was down because of something I did. And when I did mess up, they were there to help. They have THE BEST customer service in the business. With all that being said, the information below won't apply to you if you use a public blog. You have to have WordPress the site application/platform installed on your own shared server to be able to use this information.

MyMail Newsletter - DA BOMB!!!

Buy their product HERE and I would HIGHLY recommend spending the small fee to get the plugin. It is SOOOOO worth it!!

Why do I like this plugin?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Arial's Author Toolbox

I've been doing a LOT of reading lately, but not fiction. This year (2015), I've been spending a lot of time honing my craft and doing my best to be a more efficient writer. In addition to that, I've been focusing on how to best market myself as an author.

Self-published authors - and actually most authors these days regardless of who publishes their books - have to devote a portion of their time to marketing. More and more publishers DON'T do marketing for their authors or the marketing is very broad (e.g., specials on a genre versus pushing a certain author).

So how does an author find the time to write AND market? THAT'S the big conundrum I've been putting nose-to-the-grindstone effort to find out. And guess all will get to benefit from my efforts! UPDATED 2/9/16: I've just updated this post. See changes noted below. Also, though I've changed some pricing and removed other, please check pricing before you buy. They change all the time.

Summary of My Findings

There are two things an author should focus on:

  1. Writing: You can't sell a product that isn't there. Never, never, never stop writing. Period. Don't be the author who puts out one book and says, "I'll see how the sales go on this one, and if it pays off, I'll write more." Stop writing right now if that's your philosophy because you will never make the sales to justify your writing. Readers won't invest in someone who's only written one book. They want to know you'll be around. AND if you write well, they'll want more and you need to be ready for that.
  2. Mailing List: Bottom line - THE most important marketing effort you as an author can do is build your mailing list. Hands down, this should be the primary concern of anyone who owns a business...and we, as authors, own a business.

Honestly, that's pretty much it. It's that simple. And I, personally, think you should spend at least 75% of your time writing and 25% doing the things you need to do to build your mailing list. Be sure to check out my article series on this blog on this very topic. UPDATE: I will be publishing an article soon about some recent projects I've been doing that will help build your list faster than you thought possible.

Also, social media is not the best use of your time to generate sales. Use social media, and even ads, to direct people to your mailing list! THAT'S the best use of your money and time.

Arial's Author Toolbox

Sounds easier said than done? Not really! Not with the list of books I'm going to provide here. I HIGHLY recommend you get these books ASAP and read them all completely. Most of them are very quick reads while also being entertaining and they're VERY effective. Disclaimer: All the links below are affiliates, but if you don't want to use the links, just go to your favorite online book retailer and type in the titles yourself to search and buy them. The Scrivener link, though affiliate, will take you to the Literature & Latte site, the original distributors of the software, but you can get it at Amazon. (UPDATE 2/9/16 - Scrivener links removed. See update below.)

Without further adieu, here's Arial's Author Toolbox:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Indie Authors - Should You Publish Your Books to Audio??

I'm just gonna answer this question right off the bat: YES!

Now I'm gonna tell you...
  • Why you SHOULD produce your books to audio.
  • HOW to do it AND how to do it for FREE (or at least no money up front)
  • When you should do it for free and when you should pay outright for the work.
  • And why you shouldn't do it yourself (or how to determine if you should)

Monday, April 20, 2015

3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account items in general...

You can put your book cover or author name on anything nowadays and though these items do get a lot of attention (Who doesn't like free stuff, huh?) are they a worthy investment? Are you wasting your money on these items and not seeing a large return on sales?

Here are 3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account...followed up by suggestions on how to better invest your money, get more attention for your books and still get the write-offs.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ideas for Promoting a Series

As the author of the Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles, I've run into a few challenges with promoting the other books in my series after Book 1. The biggest challenge has been trying to get people to review the 2nd, 3rd or [insert #] book in my series when the reviewer hasn't read the previous books. Though the books in my series can be read as stand-alones, there is the over-arching storyline the reader might miss out on if they read the books out of order.

So how do you catch a reader up to the main storylines of the previous books without them having to read the books? The Synopsis!!

I know...I can hear you groaning now, but the full synopsis can be a great marketing tool! AND if you convert it to an eBook, you can send it to the reviewer with a nice cover image, your publishing and copyright information and buy links.

The Synopsis

Remember the synopsis is not the back of the book blurb. This will have the beginning, middle and end of your story. And when I mean end...I mean it needs to tell the reader how the book ends. This is most definitely the spoiler...but if you write it in a way that is intriguing, they'll want to read the wonderful details of the actual novel, which might encourage some sales. If not, they'll at least get the gist of the other books and won't be missing out when they read a book in the middle of the series.

If you're an author who has pitched the first books in your series, you may already have a synopsis, because that's probably what you submitted to the publisher. Dust that puppy off and get ready to work on a few rewrites!

However, if you're a self-published author, you probably do NOT have a synopsis for your books. As an ex-content editor for two publishers, I learned a few things about how to improve the synopsis and make it POP! As such, here are some tips and suggestions on writing or revising your summary:

Attn: Bloggers - Please Put a Search Feature on Your Site

Blogging Tip: Search Feature

This post is primarily for bloggers, but this can apply to authors, too, because they usually have their own websites and blogs as well.

I'm going to get to the point immediately: PLEASE PUT A SEARCH FEATURE ON YOUR WEBSITE or BLOG.

Why? Because the next question will be a mute point and make everyone's life easier.

Is Your Blog Easy To Navigate?

That question is SO relative, it's insane. Everyone is used to whatever websites they visit and if something isn't in the same place as the websites THEY visit, they're going to get frustrated and leave. So, you can do all the research you want to on what's commonly found on websites similar to yours--and you'd do yourself some service (and your visitors) if you did such research--but someone will inevitably have a hard time finding something on your website.

So what do you do as a fail safe for any visitor?

Include a SEARCH feature for your site. On WordPress, it should just be an easy drag-and-drop widget you can load into your sidebar. On Blogger, it's in the design section. Admittedly, I have one on this blog but it doesn't seem to be working as of late. Not sure why. I'll have to investigate, but it sounds like a issue, not an Arial issue.

As an author, when I've been featured on someone's blog - either a review, a cover reveal or a book tour - it is so difficult to refer people to the blog where I've been featured if all I have is the main address. Since I know many bloggers publish a lot of posts in one day, I can't expect them to put my post at the top where it's easy to find. And if I don't get the permalink for the feature, I have to go to the website and search for it...if there is a search feature. If I don't have a search feature, it's a lot more work on my end to go to Google and HOPE it shows up on the search.

If you don't have a search feature, you lose that extra traffic to your site...and isn't that part of why you're featuring an author? To drive traffic? Help yourself and do this one thing...PAH-LEEZ!

Social Media Information

PLEASE make your social media information easy to find, too. If you don't know how to create buttons for the various platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), then you should be able to create a hyperlink easily enough. Put it on your CONTACT page or in your sidebar.

Okay, I'm done ranting.

That's my two pence...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mailing List Plugin Review: MailPoet

I might add more to this later and give updates in my comments, but I've been playing around with the MailPoet plugin for about a week now and I have good and not-so-good things to say about it. In all fairness, I still have some comments/e-mails to the MailPoet support team and I'm waiting to hear back from them on some of my concerns, but here's my initial review of the plugin.

How To Get the Plugin

For those of you who have a WordPress website, you can find the plugin either by going to their plugin page on WordPress OR by going into the Plugins section on the admin side of your site and looking for "MailPoet". Personally, I think it's easier to install it from there.

My Initial Observations

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mailing Lists 5 - Newsletters

Mailing Lists: Recap

This is the fifth  post in a series of articles about Creating and Maintaining a Mailing List. Here are links to the entire series:
Be sure to read those before you read the post below.

Newsletter Frequency

One concern I've heard often is, "How often do I send a newsletter out?" If you implement a plan like I've outlined in this series - autoresponders that give your readers regular freebies of your short stories and whatever else your talents will allow - then you are ALWAYS in front of your readers, reminding them about you and your books. Which're now already in front of your readers, so don't stress! That's the beauty of the autoresponders and the plan I use.

So relax! The pressure is off! Write as little or as often as you like. I would recommend at least one personalized newsletter per quarter, so that would be once every three months.

Newsletter Content

Now to address the main concern I've heard most authors express: "I wouldn't know what to write!" Allow me to make a few suggestions based on when I send out in my newsletters:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mailing Lists 4 - Growing Your List

Mailing Lists: Recap

This is the forth post in a series of articles about Creating and Maintaining a Mailing List. Here are links to the entire series:
Be sure to read those before you read the post below.

STEP 3: How to Grow Your List

Social Media and ads are a great way to promote your mailing list and I want to encourage you to direct your campaigns and readers toward signing up. THAT should be your priority! If you implemented a plan like I've described in the previous posts, you'll have plenty of freebies for your readers, which creates an incentive for them to want to join. 

And regardless of how you promote your mailing list or even your books, having a STRONG CALL TO ACTION is important! Any post or ad you create should tell readers what to do. Don't just say, "If you join my VIP Club, you'll get vampire freebies!" TELL them to join. "Join my VIP Club to get vampire freebies. CLICK HERE!" Don't just say, "I'm giving away a $10 gift card at my Facebook party!" TELL them to go there. "CLICK HERE for a chance to win a $10 gift card at my FB party!"

Here are some ideas to get the word out and help you grow your list:

Mailing Lists 3 - Creating a Plan

Mailing Lists: Recap

This is the third post in a series of articles about Creating and Maintaining a Mailing List. Here are links to the entire series:
Be sure to read those before you read the post below.

Part 3: Creating a Plan

Before you get all excited and announce your VIP or Reader Club, be sure you have everything set up! I made the mistake of announcing my VIP Club and THEN said, "HOLY HELLO! I have to make the freebies and create the autoresponders for next week!" Talk about pressure!!! Learn from my mistake and draft your program FIRST, set it up, THEN announce it!

As I said in the previous post, how you set your program up will depend on how many books and freebies you have. But let's start with the basics...

Mailing Lists 2 - Creating Your Mailing List Program

Mailing Lists: Recap

In the first post I published on Mailing Lists, I talked about why you should have a mailing list and how to find a service to manage your mailing list.

In this post, we'll talk about how to create a reader club (aka mailing list) that will give back to your readers and encourage them to not only stay, but sell your books! Here are links to the entire series:

Part 1: The Name

Personally, I've found more success in gathering people for my mailing list by NOT calling it a mailing list. That term tends to have a "spammy" air about it and many people shy away from joining a mailing list for fear of their inbox being filled with a bunch of advertising and useless information. A "newsletter" is coming close to that, but it is a little more acceptable.

For my mailing list, I use "VIP Club" ( the way, that's a PrettyLink). My readers feel special when they're one of my VIPs and I do my best to treat them special by offering exclusive content, goodies and information. More on that later. So I would recommend coming up with something unique to YOU and/or your books.

Mailing Lists - Why Have One & Finding a Service

Mailing lists and newsletters! A daunting topic, and one that has popped up a lot lately, so I thought I'd give my two pence about what I've learned and how I manage my own mailing list. In the comments below, I'd love to hear what's worked for you!

So far, this is a five-part article (I might be adding more later). Here are links to the entire series:

First, let's go over the basics.

Why Have a Mailing List?

As free venues like Facebook, Twitter and other platforms force us to use ads in order to get our posts and information out to our readers, it becomes more difficult to reach our audience without paying a lot of money. A mailing list, then, becomes essential to communicating to your audience without having to spend gobs of cash on advertising. Personally, I think advertising should be used to reach NEW readers, not the ones who have already shown interest in your work!

EXAMPLE: Even though I have almost 1500 "likes" on my author page on Facebook, less than 6% actually see my posts. WTF, right? Isn't that why we gathered likes and followers?

So a mailing list is now more crucial to reaching that audience you've worked so hard to build. The benefits of having a mailing list outweigh the work that goes into them, if you ask me. THIS is the audience who will drive your sales with a new release or traffic to your online events. Anytime you have a new release, these readers need to know about it. If you have a FB party, giveaways, if you'll be attending a convention or other reader events, your fans will want to know! Your mailing list is the delivery method to get this word out!

Won't I be Bothering My Readers?

I thought the same thing! But here's the mentality to have when creating a mailing list and any communications that go out: Don't just make it about you...give something back to them! This is relationship, and those usually go both ways.

In this article series, I'll be detailing what I do for my mailing list and provide tips and ideas on how to give away freebies with little-to-no cost on your part! AND it will be, for the most part, centered around your books so you can generate GENUINE interest in your work.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bay Area Book Festival Writers BEWARE!!!

If you're an author and you are NOT following David Gaughran's Blog, I HIGHLY recommend you go over there now and subscribe (free, of course) so you can get updates on when he posts. Do it now...I'll wait.

Welcome back!

WHY should you follow David Gaughran? Here are several reasons why...
  1. David is a very successful self-published author, so you can't go wrong by listening to his advice. He's walking the walk and talking the talk. And the proof is in the pudding: He is a NY Times bestselling author ON HIS OWN....not through a group, boxed-set project. Yes...with his self-published books.
  2. He's written GREAT books about self-publishing, sharing all of his methods that led to him being such a success. Let's Get Digital and Let's Get Visible. Go out and get them NOW! You won't regret it.
  3. He is ON TOP OF the news about what's happening in the self-publishing industry. If you don't know where to look about such news or have problems finding it yourself, David's blog is a great place to start!
  4. He is diligent about informing authors about Author Solutions and their SCAMS. This is a Penguin-Random House company that supposedly specializes in self-publishing services. Worse than a vanity press, which charges a LOT of money for self-publishing services, Author Solutions totally rapes authors for services that are not only overpriced but are nothing but fluff and useless. They even lure authors into thinking that if they self-publish their book through Author Solutions, there's a chance their books could land a contract with the Big 5 publisher. You have the same chance of landing a contract with them if you submitted your manuscript to them for free. *shakes head*

David's latest post on the Bay Area Book Festival highlights that not only is Author Solutions sponsoring the event, the organizers behind the festival don't care that AS is a scam operation and that they have a class action lawsuit against them for deceptive practices.

Check out David's post HERE.

And for your convenience, here are the books I mentioned above:


Good luck with self-publishing and if you follow David's advice, you won't regret it!!

That's my two pence...


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lessons Learned from Boxed Sets

I’m no expert on the subject, but I did have some “lessons learned” from two boxed sets to which I recently contributed. I had certain expectations going in…

  • I’m going to make a lot of money!
  • I’ll get lots of new readers!
  • This will be easy to do!
  • I’ll get on a list! 
Some of those expectations were satisfied...and some were not. And if you’re not familiar with a boxed set or what’s involved--like I wasn’t--the following information are things I wish I’d known going into such a project.

How Does a Boxed Set Work?

I participated in two boxed sets in 2014. Excessica (Selena Kit’s company) did the publishing of the set for Highland Shifters (HS) and 7th House (Victoria Danann’s publishing company) did the Passionate Bites (PB) boxed set. These two authors also contributed their own stories. So in this situation, we had participating authors' own companies handle the publications.

But there are also many people who have started their own companies to specialize in producing boxed sets - coordinating the compilation of the books and handling the formatting, the cover design, the publishing and finally, all the accounting to pay out the royalties. Sometimes, even the advertising.

Whoever publishes the set usually takes 10% off the top after the money starts coming in and it's usually paid out per quarter...which means you might not see your money for several months. What company publishes the set is only part of it.

The authors who participate in the boxed set are the biggest element and will make or break a project.