In light of recent racial terrorism (because say what you will, that’s what the Charleston massacre was all about), it seems fitting that I should help spread the word about this captivating novel that seeks to help start the conversation about race, prejudice and laws (or lack thereof) that make up the current American culture. If you dare to face this controversy head on, keep reading.
The month of June is usually full of melancholy for me. At least it has been for the past few years. The explanation for my feelings of melancholy and sadness I’ll save for another day. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that gratitude lifts depression. So my confessions today are expressions of gratitude for some of the blessings I’ve received over the last couple of weeks. These occurrences reminded me that I am loved, appreciated and valuable. For all these things and more, I’m grateful.
My Uncle came to paint our house…well technically it’s his house, since we’re renting from him. But that’s besides the point. While he’s been there working over the last week, he put my new license plates on my car (I was riding dirty with my Texas tags for years!), promised to replace my brake pads, fussed at me for remembering to set the house alarm but forgetting to actually lock the door, and gave me pointers on improving my sweet potato pie recipe. It’s a blessing to have family near by, and our conversations about everything from the Rachel Dolezal media circus to the progress I’m making on my new book warmed my heart.
I was feeling a little discouraged about the progress I’m making in building a writer platform, and briefly entertained the thought of giving up. I wondered if I should put all the time and energy I’m currently giving to writing and publishing into something else. That same week I got an email from The Knowledge Maven stating how much she’s enjoying reading my book! It validated me that a fellow writer thought enough of my writing to make sure she told me that I’m good at it and to keep going with it. I also received a shout out from a fan on Facebook who said that she can’t wait to read my next book. Those expressions of recognition lifted my spirits and reminded me that I have to keep going. There are people all over the world who could one day be blessed by the work of my hands. That can’t happen if I give up.
What I’ve said so far are the major things that come to mind, but there are so many little things that make me pause and say ‘thank you’. Laughing at Melissa McCarthy in the movie Spy on a beautiful sunny day while feeling ultra feminine in a cute polka dot sundress. Discovering the Thai chicken salad at Panera Bread (try it, you’ll thank me later). Finally taking time to get the air conditioning in my car repaired; If you’ve ever experienced a Southern summer, you’ll know what a big deal that is! Seeing two men pray in the parking lot of Chick-fil-a. Visiting the library for the first time in over a year; I was almost dizzy with the hypnotic smell of books and knowledge. Rediscovering my love of cooking since my mama hit the road for the last few months. A text message from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. Getting a perfect eye brow wax. Finding a discount code for a business expense. Singing at the top of my lungs while washing dishes.
When it’s all said and done, all of my good outweighs the bad. There are so many random things that I’m grateful for, and when I begin to count my blessings, I give myself permission to live in the here and now rather than in the ache of the past. Does the sadness still creep up on me when I least expect it? Yes, and that’s ok. Because I’ve learned to sit with it for a moment, then let it fly away on the wings of gratitude.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 KJV
Have you ever felt like giving up on your passion? What keeps you going? What are you grateful for today?
So yeah, if you read the title and immediately clicked on the link to read this post, you’ve come to the right place. You’re obviously slightly desperate and probably equally clueless, which is why you thought, “Book marketing for dummies? Sign me up!”. The idea for this post came about due to a text message from my cousin and fellow writer Inilya Spencer. She’s a new author and wanted to know if I had any advice regarding marketing. I was all, ummmmmm…nope.
Then I thought about it for a few days and realized that I have learned a thing or two about book marketing over the last year. I’ve mastered the art of ballin’ on a budget.
Start a Blog or Website– To me this seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many authors are out in these streets without a web presence. As in, you go to Google them and all that pulls up is their Amazon book page. For real? Let me check my calendar real quick; yep, it’s 2015. As a legitimate author, you must have web presence. Whether it’s a blog or website is up to you. But if a reader cares enough to seek you out, you should care enough to make it easy for you to be found. Plus, that blog or website creates a one stop shop for said reader to find all of your books in one place. Winning.
Join Goodreads–This is seriously the single best thing you can do for yourself as an author. In case you live under a rock, and are not privy to Goodreads, it’s a social network similar to Facebook dedicated solely to people who love books! I’ll admit that I slept on Goodreads for a while because I didn’t want the headache of managing another social media platform. I was stupid, but you don’t have to be. Even if your book is nothing but an idea at this point, you should still get on Goodreads quick and in a hurry. Once you’re there, join as many groups within your genre as possible and interact with them. You can use Goodreads to solicit book reviews from readers who actually have an interest in your genre, promote giveaways, drive traffic to your blog, and create ad campaigns, which we’ll talk more about later. Goodreads is so important that I’ll wait while you go there now. Seriously. (Add this to your shelf while you’re there.)
Work Your Social Media Jelly– Again, this seems pretty obvious, but you should have a few social media platforms that you’re comfortable using and are actively engaged in. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or whatever. Pick your poison and promote yourself. Notice I said promote yourself, not your books. Social media is meant to be, well, social. As in readers follow you in an effort to get to know you, not just your books. Engage regularly. Post about random thoughts, family events, cute bunnies, that delicious burger you made or whatever. If you’re doing it right, it should be fun. If you’re doing it wrong, it becomes a chore and you get blocked for being a spammer. I’ve stalked the pros and I’ve noticed that most of them only post about their books when they have a new release or event coming up. Keep it classy and keep it moving.
Postcard Anyone?–As you can see in the text message pic above, I love a good postcard or bookmark. These are oldie’s but goodies in the marketing game. They’re an inexpensive way to promote your book. Get some great ones designed with your basic information and pass them out like candy. I carry a stack in my purse. You can give them away at the hair salon, grocery store, book store, library, gym or wherever. They’re like over sized business cards that you should never leave home without.
Ad Campaigns–This is one marketing strategy that’s going to cost you a little more than time. Ad campaigns are targeted ads that run for a specific period of time on a particular platform. You pay-per-click on your ad. The good thing about these types of campaigns are that you get to choose your budget, the length of time the ad will run and your target demographics. Some platforms that offer per click ads are Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve only run one ad campaign and I used Goodreads. So far I like it. Using a $25.00 budget I designed an ad that will only be shown to readers that previously rated books by similar authors in my genre at 3 stars and up. This is an awesome feature. I write in Christian Fiction and I listed about 20 other authors in that genre. It’s great that I know my ad is being seen by people who are fans of the genre and who also take the time to rate books they read.
Put Your Book on Sale–Fluctuating the price of your book is a great way to draw attention to it. Make it 99 cents for a period of time and hashtag the mess out of it on Twitter and other platforms. Contact promotional book sites to have them list it during your sales period. List it under the Kindle Count Down Deals. If you’re only selling your book on Amazon, you can also enroll it in the KDP Select for maximum exposure. One of the best tried and true strategies is to offer one of your older books for free to help boost the sales of your newer books.
Show Up and Show Out–One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a super popular author who said that new authors should focus on becoming well-known where they live. She admonished authors to keep their efforts local because it’s cheaper, easier and just makes good business sense. Go to every local book related event you hear about. Call up local bookstores and ask them to order copies of your books. Contact your local libraries and offer to host a reading or donate copies of your books. Join local book clubs. Look for opportunities to showcase your books through speaking engagements and community events. Get out there and strut your literary stuff!
The American Way– Last, but certainly not least, you can always pay someone to market for you. I’m in cahoots with my blogger friend Quanie Miller who has just started her own business which assists writers with all things publishing related. You can pay someone to do the leg work for you and do what we all would rather be doing anyway: write!
I hope this helped get the wheels turning for those of you who don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to marketing. With a lot of effort and patience, you can sell your books. Once I stepped up my marketing game, I’ve watched that little graph on my sales report steadily climb over the last month. As long as I’m selling at least one book a day, I count it a success.
By the way, you can get my cousin’s new release here! Can you tell I’m excited for her in this pic? Excuse the treadmill and random suitcase in the background. I guess we stay ready to go ’round my way.
What kinds of marketing advice do you have to offer? Don’t leave us hanging! Tell us all about how you get down in the comments below!
It’s been a minute since I’ve posted any book reviews. That’s mainly because I haven’t had all that much time to read, what with learning about book marketing, working on my next novel and dealing with beau-coup family drama. But I’m back and following is my review of Catch Me If You Can by Christina C. Jones. I purchased this book back in December when I lost my entire mind and went on a book buying frenzy. Hope you enjoy!
Title: Catch Me If You Can
Author: Christina C. Jones
Genre(s): Romance, Suspense
Diligence. Focus. Agility.
For Naomi Prescott, it’s not just a cute little saying. It’s a critical mantra, words to live by if she wants to retain her freedom, and more importantly, her life. Impeccable planning is the only way to ensure she sets off the small flutters that will trigger the big ripple she needs to pull off the score of a lifetime — no matter the stakes.
FBI Agent Marcus Calloway is a straight-shooter… if you overlook his sometimes unconventional, law-skirting, expensive ways of solving a case. A big arrest would do wonders to restore his reputation, and he has one woman in mind: Jolie Voleuse
Unforeseen circumstances force them into a closer proximity than either — especially Naomi — would like to be. Sparks fly, and as surely as fire ignites,eventually their undeniable chemistry combusts into a passion that neither expected as they join forces in the dangerous pursuit of a common bounty.
[PLEASE NOTE that Catch Me If You Can is the first title in a continuous series that will carry over three books. Book 2 will be released in February 2015]
Christina normally writes in strictly romance, so adding suspense is a new venture for her. I certainly couldn’t tell, because she did it with such expertise that my little fingers couldn’t push the ‘Next Page’ button fast enough on my antiquated Kindle. Naomi and Marcus’ chemistry practically cast flames across my screen. Add the titillation of piecing together how their pursuit of the bad guys connects them on levels they never imagined, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for stellar entertainment. I’ll tell you one thing, I couldn’t figure out the end and I pretty much stopped reading suspense years ago, because I always figure out what’s going on. Not so in this case! If you’re looking for a great quick read with romance and mystery, I highly recommend Catch Me If You Can.
This was my first book by this author, but it definitely won’t be my last. I’ve got A Crazy Little Thing Called Love waiting for me now.
What genres do you normally shy away from reading? Do you have an issue with book series or do you like the continuity of characters and whatnot? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Brace yourself people, there’s just all kinds of adorableness coming your way by the bucket full. I mean it, you won’t be able to stand how cute the girls taking over my blog today are. These three little literary titans have managed to write and publish their first and second books all before completing middle school. With summer officially here, their literary sophomoric effort is right on time. Check out the deets below!
The talented trio that brought you The Perfect Present is back…with summer stories that will brighten your day, warm your heart, and prove that life is one of the greatest teachers there is. In Too Big for Teacups, Gabrielle Simone introduces us to the Fernandez family, who is on their way to Disney for a vacation. Marlena, the oldest, would rather stay home and practice with her dance team. But her parents make her go, and Marlena trudges through a miserable week of what was supposed to be a family bonding experience. In the midst of her complaining, her best friend, Jennifer, helps her learn a valuable life lesson and a new outlook on family time.
In Jackie Lee’s A Lesson for Summer, 14-year-old twins, Vanessa and Teresa, had planned their ideal summer vacation. But when their father announces that he’s taking over a new church in a new city, the girls find their summer ruined! Instead of spending their days shopping, talking about boys, and going to the movies, they were going to be moving and volunteering to mentor a bunch of snotty-nosed seven-year-olds. The twins do everything in their power to sabotage their parents’ plans for them. However, in the end, they learn life lessons that truly make this the perfect summer for both of them.
Morgan Billingsley is back with twins, Max and Mickey in A Country Summer. And this time, the suburban duo is unplugging from their iPads, Wi-Fi, and Netflix, to spend the summer with their extended family in a small Arkansas town. This was not at all Mickey’s idea of fun. In fact, she hates the boring country and her “classless” relatives. While Max fits right in with his cousins, Mickey soon feels left out and learns a valuable lesson about life – it doesn’t matter what you have…what matters is who you have. These three young writers will inspire and entertain…and leave you with a lesson or two yourself.
Excerpt from A Lesson for Summer by Jackie Lee
I knew that look meant that my twin sister did not like what she was hearing.
“There you are. We were wondering what was keeping you,” Dad said in a cheerful voice.
I politely smiled and took a seat beside my sister on the sofa. My eyes darted over to the
strangers in the living room. The man had fine gray hairs around his bald spot. He wore thick
glasses that made his eyes look like a huge red moon. He also wore too much cologne. Whew!
He had the living room lit up like the perfume part of Macy’s. The woman beside him wore this
big Kool-Aid smile. She had on a red dress with blue flowers. Her dress was loud enough for my friends
to hear her across the street. “I have heard so many wonderful things about you, young lady,” said the balding man.
The lady with the loud dress just kept smiling.
“Your parents tell me that you are the captain of the church praise dance team and worship
leader for the youth. That is wonderful! I love to see our youth active in church,” the man
continued. I just continued to stare at him. My sister elbowed me, so I managed to say, “Thank you.”
My mother jumped into the conversation.
* * *
Excerpt for a Country Summer by Morgan Billingsley
When that last bell rang, signaling the beginning of our summer vacation, I felt like I’d
just been given a Get Out of Jail card. I had been counting down to this day and was looking
forward to hanging out with my twin brother, Max, playing video games, and taking daily
swims in the pool my parents had built last winter. You know, just having fun.
I wasn’t expecting this. I mean, in the fun dictionary, a road trip to a
country town was nowhere in the book. Yet, that’s exactly what we were doing.
“Ugh! Are we there yet?” I asked my dad, who was driving our large SUV like a skilled
truck driver. My mom was next to him and they were singing some corny old people song on the radio.
* * *
Excerpt from Too Big for Teacups by Gabrielle Anderson
Six hours, four arguments and three stops later, they made it to the hotel in Birmingham. It was early evening and all Marlena wanted to do was swim. They were staying in a room that had two queen beds and a pullout sofa.
“I call the sofa bed,” Marlena said while putting her bag on it.
“I want the sofa bed,” whined Kyle.
“It’s big enough for the both of you,” her dad said.
Marlena protested. “I don’t want to sleep with him. I called it first.”
Her mother let out a loud sigh then gave Marlena a look.
“It’s been a long ride, let’s go swim,” her father suggested.
“Good idea,” her mom replied. “Get your suits on.”
Marlena and Kyle got dressed quickly. He in basketball shorts, and she in her one-piece. Of
course she wanted a two-piece, but her parents said that was out of the question. Not until she
was old enough to buy it herself. Marlena didn’t think it was such a big deal, most of her friends
had one. While her mom was in the bathroom, she decided to dress Chloe in her suit. She found
her little pick suit with ruffles around the bottom and put it on her. Chloe was such a cute little
girl. She and Marlena always got along. If her mom wasn’t around, she preferred Marlena to
anyone else. Sometimes Chloe even slept in Marlena’s room.
Eleven year old, Jackie Lee is a lover of the letters and the arts. She has starred in three theatrical productions produced by Cherie Garland. She portrayed Crystal in “The Christmas Present,” Glenda, The Good Witch in “The Wiz” and the Ballerina in “One Night with a King.” Jackie’s love of arts also extends to church. She participates in the praise dance ministry at East New Hope Baptist Church. She utilizes her musical talents as a clarinet player at Forest Hills Elementary School Band. Jackie can often be found at various literary events assisting her mother and guest authors. She also enjoys journaling and making sketches in her notebooks. She resides in Virginia with her parents and siblings. You can follow her at http://thecreativelifewithjackielee.blogspot.com/
Morgan Billingsley is a seventh grader, who loves writing, acting, swimming and volleyball.
She enjoys helping out and making people laugh. Everyone who knows her, applauds her nurturing heart. Morgan can often be found assisting her mother, ReShonda Tate Billingsley at book signings. She is active in her school organizations and serves as secretary for her Teen group in Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Follow her on Instagram @c_momo_b
Eleven year old, Gabrielle Simone attends Pulaski Academy College Preparatory School, where her teachers describe her as hardworking and passionate about learning. She is the student council representative for fifth grade, plays both basketball and soccer and has a personality bigger than life. The confident young writer is also the daughter of young adult author Celia Anderson. Having grown up tagging alongside her mom at book signings and lectures, it’s no surprise that she has become interested in the art. Gabrielle says that one day she would like to attend Stanford University in California, but that may change as she grows older. Currently she resides with her mother in Little Rock, Arkansas, enjoys playing dress up, singing and playing with her American Girl Dolls. She lists both her mother and maternal grandmother, whom she affectionately calls FeFe, as the people who have influenced her the most.
What did I tell you? Is this not the cutest idea? And those author photos: these girls are serving intellectual divatude all day! #GetYoLife Books for kids, written by kids with strong moral lessons. Do yourself a favor and snap one or two up for the child or tween in your life. I don’t think you’ll regret it!
Are there any book series you were obsessed with as a child? I was a Babysitter’s Club fanatic. I think my sister was into Nancy Drew. What about y’all? Also, I’m seriously considering writing in the tween or YA genres in the future. Any tips are appreciated!
In honor of When the Real Thing Comes Along being on sale for .99 cents, I decided to take a few moments to interview Jacelynn, the book’s main character. She had plenty to say, so I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better. No worries if you haven’t read WTRTCA; it’s a spoiler free interview. :)
Faith: First of all, Jacelynn, I want to thank you for agreeing to sit down with us. I know you’ve taken a lot of flack from readers and it hasn’t been easy for you.
Jacelynn: That’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. Your readers have put me through the ringer, but I’m here to explain my side of things. Hopefully a sista’ can get a little compassion.
Faith: I totally want to give you every opportunity to explain your perspective, but before we get to that, let’s back up a little. When we were first introduced to you, you were caught up in a love triangle gone terribly wrong. How did you get in that position in the first place?
Jacelynn: Going straight for the jugular, huh Faith? I got myself in that predicament by not being true to myself. I wanted to play it safe and stay in a relationship that felt secure, but I didn’t want to give 100 percent to that relationship in a pathetic attempt to prevent myself from getting hurt. All that self-preservation backfired on me big time!
Faith: Was it really self-preservation or just plain selfishness? I’m only asking because a lot of readers felt that you came off that way.
Jacelynn: I can see why I appeared selfish, but that’s not who I am. I was really conflicted and basically all in my feelings! I never meant to hurt anyone.
Faith: You may not have meant to, but you did hurt quite a few people. If you could turn back time, would you have handled things differently?
Jacelynn: I try not to dwell on shoulda-woulda-couldas anymore. Part of my problem was that I was way too caught up in my past. I did the best I could at the time, and that’s all anyone can do. I regret causing anyone pain, and if I could undo that I would. But I can’t. All I can do is move forward and try not to repeat the same mistakes.
Faith: So you’re saying that you’re satisfied with the way things turned out?
Jacelynn: I’m saying that I’m satisfied with ME; flaws and all. Isn’t that the true mark of maturity? I spent so many years in pursuit of perfection that doesn’t exist: holding myself and others to an impossibly high standard. It was ridiculous and exhausting! I’m completely happy with the way things turned out and I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now, because it’s brought me to this place of wholeness and peace.
Faith: Watch out now. I love your new positive attitude!
Jacelynn: Me too. It’s been a long time coming, and I spent enough time whining and crying over spilled milk. Life is too short, chile!
Faith: You ain’t never lied! Now, has this new attitude translated into any new changes in your life?
Jacelynn: Yes! I’ve got so much going on I can barely keep my head on straight: being newly married, expanding my catering business and trying to start a family keeps me really busy! In a totally good way though.
Faith: Whoa, that is a lot. Newly married? Is it someone we know? C’mon, tell us which one you chose. We’ve got #TeamJason and #TeamTaylor fighting like cats and dogs!
Jacelynn: Wouldn’t you like to know? They’ll just have to read the book to find out!
Faith: You are wrong for that! Can readers look forward to hearing more from you?
Jacelynn: It depends…if they act right, I think I can work with you on a sequel.
Faith: Well alright girl, I’ll definitely be in touch. Any parting words?
Jacelynn: Your past does not dictate your future. Once you surrender to God, He’ll change your life in ways that will leave you breathless!
I hope you enjoyed catching up with Jacelynn from When the Real Thing Comes Along. If you’ve already read WTRTCA I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a few minutes to leave an honest review on Amazon. If you haven’t read WTRTCA yet, what are you waiting for? Now’s the perfect time to buy.
<<<<<<<<<<< THE E-BOOK IS ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS !!! >>>>>>>>>>>>>
If you’re currently reading or have read WTRTCA tweet me @FaithSimone2011 and let me know if you’re #TeamJason or #TeamTaylor !
Making the decision to forgive can be tricky. It’s like choosing the smallest box at Christmas. Forgiveness won’t make sense to the immature and it seems unappealing; maybe even irrational. But to the mature mindset, the old saying that some of the best gifts come in small packages plays like a catchy song. The smallest package becomes appealing, even desirable. And when you open it, the blessing inside is more than you hoped for or could ever imagine. That’s how I view forgiveness.
I won’t pretend that I’ve always had this lofty view of such a humble state of being. I used to be the type that could hold a grudge until it hollered. I kept record of every wrong and hoped that I would have a front row seat when the Lord exacted His revenge.
Then I became a person in need of forgiveness and everything changed. I guess I should clarify that. I became a person aware of my overwhelming need for forgiveness and everything changed. On my best day, I’m in need of God’s forgiveness. On my own I can never measure up. Walking into the fullness of this realization changed me. Then it changed the way I relate to other people. People who are walking out this life to the best of their ability. People who are flawed, just like me. People to whom grace exemplified may be the only glimpse of God they ever see.
A part of me always thought that to extend forgiveness was a sign of weakness. I assumed that people would view me as a doormat and take advantage of me. But a funny thing happened when I opened myself up to grace: people surprised me by rising to the occasion. Showing grace gave space for the best in them to shine through.
It’s rare that someone does wrong and feels no remorse. We call those people sociopaths, and the reason we have a name for them is that they’re not the norm. Most people feel bad when they fall short morally. Showing forgiveness gives them permission to be a better version of themselves. Just like accepting God’s forgiveness gave me permission to be a better version of myself.
I forgive because I am forgiven. It’s cyclical, beautiful and redeeming. My gift to others is a gift to me.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Collosians 3:13 NLT
Until next time….
Are you a grudge holder? What do you gain by holding a grudge? Do you view forgiveness as weakness? Sometimes you can forgive someone and still choose to discontinue the relationship; how do you decide what path your forgiveness will take in each situation? Have you ever been forgiven for something? How did you feel knowing that other person didn’t hold it against you?
Read other Confessions of Faith here!