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How to Create a New York Times Bestselling BLOG TOUR | Jennifer Martinez Tells All

Jennifer Martinez AuthorWant to make your indie book a New York Times bestseller? You might think about contacting Jennifer Martinez who among other things, helped Shanora Williams launch a successful book tour that landed her on the list.  It can happen to you too and as you’ll see from Jennifer’s interview below, it may take a little elbow grease but it’s not impossible to do on your own.

Stay tuned to our LIVE Google Hangout Class this Wednesday, March 13th at 12pm ET where Jessica will take us through the process step-by-step.

 

One of the services you offer are blog tours. For those who aren’t familiar with what a blog tour is, can you explain it?
A blog tour is an online, web based tour through blogs and other sites promoting a specific author or book.

 

How did you get started doing them and why? 
I got started in them to help out an indie author friend. I had taken part in a few of them and decided to try organizing one for her. I am all about helping out my favorite indie authors in any way possible and this is a great way to do it.

 

What goes into putting one together? And how many blogs do you need in order to make a real impact on sales? 
It all depends on your goals and your time frame. With a lot of the larger established book blogs you often have to send requests in months in advance. Usually I suggest at least a 7 blog tour or a 15 blog “book blitz” where everyone posts on the same day.

 

Shanora Williams said that you helped her start a blog tour even before she finished writing the book. Why is that helpful?
It is helpful because it allows the readers to anticipate… Think of Christmas morning, you’ve been staring at the boxes under the tree for two weeks and now the day has finally arrived. What’s the first thing you do? Head straight for the tree and start tearing open the wrapping. It is the same concept with the tour. Giving people time to get to know your book and characters allows them to get excited and to know something in advance so it isn’t a blind purchase.

 

What mistakes do authors make when trying to put together their own blog tours?
Organization and marketing. Authors have so much on their plates it’s hard to add a tour into that as well. I will spend on average 15-20 hours on a tour from start to finish. Add that time into the time an author spends writing, editing and keeping up their day jobs and family lives and something’s gotta give. Another problem is marketing. A lot of authors will only post about the tour on their web page. For an effective tour you have to have marketing everywhere, book blogs, Facebook, Twitter. You are trying to draw in new readers not just keep old ones.

 

If an author wants to put together their own blog tour themselves, give us a step-by-step guide: 
1. Lay out realistic but high goals. I am releasing my book March 13 and my goal is “Reach Amazon Top 100 within 2 weeks of my release”
2. Determine the length of your tour. For a new author with only a few works a 2 week tour is best. If you have a large following you can have tours lasting up to 2 months.
3. Determine “post types.” You should choose post types based on your book style. The typical post types include Spotlight, Promo, Excerpt, Author Interview and This or That. If you have a book with lots of action, love or drama you can add in fun stuff like Character Bios, Character interviews and Book Playlists. These types of posts help create a relationship between the character and the reader.
4. Find blogs you DO NOT know. This is the hardest part for an author. You have to scour the internet and find blogs that don’t know about you and convince them they should feature you. This is one of the main reasons many authors hire a Tour company like mine. I have a list of over 75 blogs that I work with that all review and promote different genres.
5. Make your schedule. It is imperative you have a blog on each day and you know their post types. Not only will you have to check on these posts but you will want to post your schedule to either your webpage or in a Facebook (or similar) event.
6. Make your Media Kit. All posts should contain the purchase links (if available), Book Cover and Synopsis. People can read all about your characters but if they don’t know what the book is called they can’t go buy a copy. A media kit should include: your book cover, synopsis, genre, any warnings (i.e. 18+ read for heavy language and adult situations) approx. page length, author photo and bio, and author links.
7. Get your materials out there early. Send the media kit in a mass email to everyone in your tour and send the additional materials such as excerpts and interviews individually.
8. Send out reminder emails about posts and check your tour EVERYDAY. Once the post is live you have to share it. Twitter, facebook, tumblr… everywhere. The more you share the better it is for the author and the blogger.
9. Enjoy the spoils of your hard work

 

What do you charge to do blog tours and what is included in it? What other services do you provide? 

Blog tour prices range and I am always willing to work with authors on a budget. My standard prices are
1 day “Book Blitz” (7-15 blogs): $50 (+$3 per blog over 15)
7 day “Blog Tour” (7 blogs): $60 (+ $21 for 2 blogs a day)
14 day “Blog Tour” (14 blogs): $75 (+ $42 for 2 blogs a day)
21 day “Blog Tour” (21 blogs): $100 (+ $63 for 2 blogs a day)
30 day “Blog Tour” (30 blogs): $150 (+ $90 for 2 blogs a day)
45 day “Tour Extravaganza” (45 blogs): $225

These prices include: 24 hour access to me and my knowledge, all set up and blog finding, custom graphics for your tour, event hosting through Facebook or Books, Brownies and Barkers, all marketing and promotions on all social media platforms and all organizational needs. I will be the one who is up at 5 am checking to make sure the posts are live with no type-o’s. I also offer additional services including the creation of your media kit and important links for your tour.

Aside from Blog Tours, I also offer digital media services as well as beta reading, proof reading and editing. Just like blog tours my editing, beta and proof reading services have prices based on the length and complexity of the work. For a complete list of prices on these services feel free to check out my Brochure.

Writing for Your Audience | The Best Marketing You Can Ever Do for Your Book

Stop marketing and start writing is my motto this year of 2013. I’ve noticed that there has been a tremendous emphasis on tweeting and Facebooking and other types of marketing and social media marketing and I think that’s great, if you have the most important thing of all, a great book.

And not even a great book, a phenomenal book, a buzz-worthy, spread-worthy, share-worthy book that sparks word-of-mouth. Without it, you can tweet until your fingers bleed and it’s not going to do anything and certainly not going to sell anymore books or help you build your audience.

I’m telling you, you don’t even have to be a great writer. You just need to be a phenomenal storyteller. There are many huge authors who people say aren’t great writers and they don’t care because they’re writing for their audience. (More on that later)

I’ve interviewed hundreds of authors and all of the huge ones, especially those that top the Forbes World’s Highest Paid Authors year-after-year all have one thing in common, they’ve all told me one of their secrets to their success is that they write for their audience, they don’t write for themselves. On a rare occasion, they are the same audience they’re writing for but not very often.

As my favorite author, Nicholas Sparks says, “write what readers want to read, which isn’t necessarily what you want to write.”

James Patterson told me he thinks about ” the kind of audience with whom I’m talking to and what they might be interested in. ”

CJ Lyons advised authors to, “Re-write your damn good book with your reader in mind. With every decision ask yourself: what would delight my readers?

They all aim to write a share-worthy book for their audience.

How do you write a share-worthy book for their audience? If you are aiming to sell a lot of books too and not just books for the very small literary fiction-loving niche audience,  keep these tips in mind when you’re writing or rewriting your books:

1) Know who your audience is. And I mean, as specific as possible. Don’t try to appeal to everyone, not yet. Not everyone likes Diary of a Wimpy Kid, not everyone likes $100 Start Up or even War and Peace. Each of those books were written for a specific audience. When’s the last time you saw a 6-year-old little girl reading Anna Karenina from cover to cover?

2) Write for your audience. After you know who your audience is and you know their likes and dislikes and you know what they want and what they don’t want, write your book in a language they they would appreciate. Shape your sentences, your mentality, everything you do so that your writing will appeal to them and them alone. When I’m writing kids books for 4-8 year-olds, I write them totally different than when I’m writing eBooks for the entrepreneurial audience (at least I hope I do).

3) Tell them what they want to hear in the way they want to do hear it.  Simple but profound advice if you really let it sink into you.  That’s some advice a really huge author whose sold over 500 million copies of his books told me. Since you know who your audience is and you’re writing for them, and you know what they want, you need to tell them what they want to hear. What do I mean by that? If you’re writing a vacation book about the beauty of Costa Rica, the people who are buying it want to hear about how lush, fun, gorgeous and friendly the country is. They don’t want to hear about the poverty or the diseases or the venomous snakes. If you want to tell them that, then write a different book. These people are paying good money for your book, give them what they want! People tend to buy what they want, not what they need.

Ask Jeff! My New Advice Column

Do you have a question related to publishing, ePublishing, landing agent, online marketing or anything else related to accomplishing your goals? Ask me below!

 

Here is where I will answer all your questions to the best of my ability.  I’m committed to answering people’s questions at least once a week.

 

I no longer give private advice without setting up a consultation because I receive so many requests, I could write a book!

 

I have also found that often times what people want is just a hearing ear and they end up doing whatever they want in the end anyway.  Not a problem but if I’m going to give time away from my family or my novels, then I have to make sure the people I give advice to are 100% committed. And nothing rings of commitment like a consultation payment.

 

If you do not have the budget for a consultation, I totally understand, that’s why I’ve created Ask Jeff!  This way, everyone can benefit from your question and it costs you absolutely nothing for me to answer.

 

If you really believe your question is private, feel free to contact me at Jeff AT JeffRivera DOT com to set up a consultation.  My rates are fairly reasonable.

CJ Lyons — “Buy a book, make a difference”

New York Times bestselling novelist, CJ Lyons, may not work in the ER anymore, but through her writing, she continues to save lives. This year, Lyons is making contributions to charities such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Doctors Without Borders, and the American Heart Association, and it’s up to her fans to determine the amount.

When any of her novels reaches the Amazon or Barnes & Noble top 100, she will donate $3000 to charity and double that donation if her book makes it into the top 20. Her donation will rise to $15,000 if the book makes the USA Today or New York Times bestseller list. Additionally, she is using proceeds from her novels to sponsor police officers from underserved areas to receive special training at the Sirchie Forensic Institution. Lyons has not set a cap on the annual donations, so the amount is truly left in readers’ hands.

“As an author, I love writing, but as a doctor, I miss helping patients,” Lyons said. “Through the Buy a Book, Make a Difference program I can give something back while also giving my readers a chance to get involved. I wouldn’t have the success I have without my readers. They’re the real heroes.”

Giving a helping hand is in Lyons’s blood. Trained in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, she has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide, and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.

Lyons’ interest in the power of forensics began when she was a pediatric intern. While working at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, a fellow intern was murdered during a brutal home invasion. His killer was apprehended thanks to a piece of forensic evidence. After becoming a New York Times bestseller, Lyons set up a scholarship program to help police officers attend the Sirchie Forensic Institution, where they will learn the skills needed to solve similar crimes.

Millions of readers are already hooked on CJ Lyons and her books have hit dozens of bestseller lists. But now, buying one of her books will do more than provide readers with a good story. It will help save lives. In the first week after her latest thriller, KILL ZONE, was released Lyons and her readers raised $3,000 for charities and three forensic scholarships via her Buy a Book, Make a Difference program. So far this year, Lyons and her readers have raised $12,000 and funded six forensic scholarships.

Visit http://cjlyons.net/buy-a-book-make-a-difference for more information.

More Good News on Write the Damn Thing!

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

“Divine idea!”  — Jennifer Daugherty, Executive Assistant to Jackie Collins

“Oh, my God, this is ingenious!!!” — ReShonda Tate Billingsley, bestselling author

“Invaluable because procrastination is to constantly tempting and easy — and not just for writers. ” — Natasha Kern, literary agent

“For  newbie writers definitely a  good concept and product.” — Bill Gladstone, literary agent and bestselling author of “The Twelve”

To download the latest version, click here: http://bit.ly/SmzIT1

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I am so grateful to be receiving such great feedback on the new software program. I’m also grateful for the very patient beta-testers, especially the ones that thought they would have to throw their computers out because they couldn’t get them to work properly after they installed the program.

 

Thank God, 98% of all those problems are all resolved with the new software update.

I still need feedback so we can make it better, so please private message me if you need to reach me.

 

Remember, if you have ANY issues with your software, please read this to find out how to fix it and how to reach me if you absolutely need to:

http://jeffrivera.com/archives/introducing-write-the-damn-thing-beta-mode/

 

Also, thanks to the wonderful people who have been spreading word about it.  Some people might wonder why I don’t make the program free forever, not just the 7-days?

Good question: 1) I’ve found that people don’t value anything unlesss they’ve paid something for it and I don’t want people to just download it, I want them to use it and love it.

 

Also, I want to make sure that I pay my programmer for all his hard work and my for putting up with my diva antics!

Remember, private message me if you have anything you need.

 

And YES, a Mac version is on its way. Hopefully about a month from now.

I use this program myself! So, if you see me online, that’s because I did my word-count.

 

I’m on my way home back  from NYC dealing with Hurricane Sandy; so sorry if I didn’t get back to everyone immediately like I normally do. What an event! I’m so grateful for my life, health and the loving support I’ve received from people.

 

 

 

New York Times Bestselling Indie Author Bella Andre on Beating the Odds!

What does it feel like to have sold over 1 million books? Bella Andre knows and in my interview with her today, she shares exactly how she turned rejection from a major publisher into a runaway bestselling series and a fortune.

Jeff: First of all, if I don’t ask this question, your fans are going to lynch me: What is your latest book about?

 

Bella: LET ME BE THE ONE is the sixth book in my series about the Sullivan family and is my first friends-to-lovers story. I absolutely loved writing about pro-baseball player, Ryan Sullivan, and sculptor, Vicki Bennett. Happily, LET ME BE THE ONE (The Sullivans, Book #6) hit the USA Today bestseller list after only three days on sale and I’ve received an incredible amount of email, tweets, Facebook and Goodreads posts about how much readers are connecting with Ryan and Vicki’s love story! It’s been a really thrilling release week.

Jeff: Your success is truly a phenomenon. How do you keep writing with such a busy schedule?

Bella: I write or edit every day. Because I write my first drafts fairly quickly, it often takes me as long to revise as book as it does to draft it. When the draft of a new book goes to my wonderful beta readers, I immediately begin to write and/or revise another book. I often joke about how much I love to “weep over my keyboard”…only it’s true! I absolutely love writing.

Jeff: Do you battle with procrastination and how did you overcome rejection?

Bella: I don’t have time to procrastinate. :) I also take breaks to spend time with family and friends, and to swim and hike every single day. Plus, I get great satisfaction from checking off items on my ever-growing to do list!

I am absolutely thrilled to be on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller list with The Sullivans series, and am so thankful to my readers for embracing Chase, Marcus, Gabe, Sophie, Zach, Ryan, and the rest of my Sullivan family!

Jeff: How would you say your life changed since you became so successful?

Bella: I’ve always been a hard worker but with self-publishing, from the moment I wake up to the moment I finally go to bed (and there can sometimes just be a few hours between those two activities), I live and breathe books and stories and publishing. If I’m not writing, then I’m responding to fan mail or keeping up to date with the industry or speaking at a conference or revamping my covers or answering interview questions! At the same time, I’ve never been more excited about my work. Every day brings a new adventure and a new, wonderful experience!

Jeff: For the writers out there who also are thinking about self-publishing, what advice would you give them?

Bella: From the start, I focused my efforts on connecting with my readers. For five years, I’d had fans who specifically requested I continue a traditionally published series. When the publisher declined to publish the sequel to TAKE ME, I wrote LOVE ME and published it myself. I made sure to email every single readers who’d asked for it to let them know it existed – and that it existed because of their requests! It was the beginning of my absolutely thrilling self-publishing journey.

Now that I’ve sold over a million books, I stay in touch with readers through my newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Reader contact has done more for me, my sales, and my own excitement about my writing than any other marketing tip or technique.

Interview with Indie Author Josh Lanyon

Josh Lanyon is living proof that sometimes volume and quality can win out when an indie author is trying to make a living as an author no matter what the niche. Lanyon has written countless gay-themed mystery and romance books and if you think there’s no audience for that market, Lanyon begs to differ. His books have sold so well that he is able to make a comfortable living. So for those of you who think you can only be a hit if you write in the mainstream romance, thriller or erotica market, but your heart is into writing about something your more passionate about, like the mating rituals of East African turtles, this interview is for you.
Jeff: You are a writing machine. Tell me about your latest book
Josh: I’m currently working on THE BOY WITH THE PAINFUL TATTOO. It’s the third book in the Holmes & Moriarity series, which is a lightly comic, gay mystery series. The thing that makes this book different is it’s the first time I’ve decided to self-publish a book that belongs to an established series still in print with a perfectly good publisher. Up until now I’ve only self-published the occasional short story or republished titles that timed out and reverted to me. So I suppose this could be looked at as a little bit of a risk, but given how well my old titles still sell, I feel confident.
Jeff: I’m glad I even got an interview with you, Josh. How do you keep up with it all?
Josh: The challenge for me is to balance productivity and promotion with a healthy lifestyle. When I was busy building my author brand, I worked all the time. And I do mean all the time. There were a couple of years where I worked every weekend and every holiday with the exception of Christmas and Thanksgiving days. You won’t be surprised to hear that, along with a successful indie writing career, I gave myself a serious case of burnout.
Now I take weekends and holidays off, and I try to work no more than 12 hours a day. The first part of the day is spent on email, social media, and the writing biz. The second half of the day is spent on the actual writing.
I am a terrible procrastinator about everything except writing. I do not procrastinate when it comes to writing. It’s my job. It pays the mortgage and puts food on the table. I don’t know many people who procrastinate about going to work in the morning, and that’s what writing has been to me for the last six years.
Jeff: What did it feel like to have received those years of rejections and then suddenly be thrust on the bestsellers list as an indie author?
Josh: My situation is slightly different in that pretty much everything I ever wrote as an adult was accepted for publication. The problem was, as nice for my ego as that modest success was, I couldn’t make enough money to support myself. And from the time I was a little kid, I wanted to earn my living as an author. Digital publishing put that goal within reach, but I was still taken aback to find how lucrative indie publishing could be.
Here’s an interesting point: I’m working in a niche market so I don’t sell thousands of copies per title a month. In fact, some of my titles don’t sell twenty copies a month. But because I have an extensive backlist and a loyal audience, I earn a comfortable living simply by averaging a thousand or so total units every month.
With a new release, I’ll sell 1500 – 2000 copies the first month. After that, sales drop down to a couple of hundred a month, and then eventually 60 – 100 copies a month.
Jeff: How has your life changed?
Josh: Aside from having the best job in the world, I’ve been able to mentor several other talented writers to success and financial independence. And I’ve been able to help my parents and siblings in this harsh economic climate. I’ve been able to put aside money for retirement and we even have a little cash for the occasional vacation or new appliance.
Jeff: Okay, so for those authors who don’t write mainstream fiction, what can they do to promote their books?
Josh: I did a variety of things, and I think it was that scattershot effect that paid off. Initially I wrote for the “best” ebook publishers — the ones that edited and had an established reader community to create name recognition within my genre and to build a core readership.
I gave books away — and I continue to give books away. I did every interview and guest blog and author chat that came my way. I posted excerpts. I sent books off for review.
I consistently blogged, journaled, twittered, and facebooked. I engaged in social media in a positive manner — that’s important. I see a lot of people joining social media and behaving like jerks because they think any attention is better than no attention. I think your interactions with readers should reflect the tone of your work. I write for smart adults and I try to conduct myself like a smart adult online.
I helped a lot of other writers along the way. I don’t know what that did beyond create good karma, but I’m a big believer in paying it forward.
I kept my expectations realistic, so when I didn’t have instant brilliant results, I didn’t get discouraged. I kept writing and building my backlist — a healthy backlist is crucial to success — and I kept studying the market and my genre and honing my craft. Writing a great book is something that can’t be overlooked; that’s not the place to take a shortcut on the road to fame and fortune.
You have to take the long view. A successful writing career is often the result of a cumulative effect.
Jeff: And what didn’t work?
Josh: Buying ads did not work for me. And I don’t fool around much with pricing — I price my work fairly and I do the occasional giveaway, but beyond that I leave pricing as is.

Interview with USA Today Bestselling Indie Author Rebecca Donovan

Rebecca Donovan knows a thing or two about rejection but she didn’t let it get her down. Through perseverance, she kept going and decided on a different path, indie publishing. The result? Selling 1000 books a day and landing on the USA Today bestsellers lists. I know many established legacy published authors who aren’t selling that many. When I found out how well she was doing and how great her writing was, I had to know: What was she doing? She graciously agreed to tell us.

Jeff: So many authors struggle with years of rejection, how did you overcome it? 

Rebecca: I didn’t take the rejections to heart. Not a single agent read my manuscript when I sent query letters, and I will admittedly state that I despised writing query letters. I think they realized it, because they didn’t ask to see my manuscript. But the success I now have is due to the passion of my readers.
Word of mouth generates interest. Enough people are talking now that the series is making an impression and Reason to Breathe is now a best seller! That success can be measured by the smile on my face.

Jeff: Here’s something a lot of writers want to know, how do you handle it all? There are so many distractions. If I had a penny for every time that I check my email, I’d be Bill Gates by now. What is your advice to them?

Rebecca: I wish I could say I had a schedule. I’m not as disciplined as I’d like to be. I’m searching for balance between writing and life, but I’ve discovered it’s not going to happen unless I make it happen. So I capture blocks of time whenever I can. But I cannot force writing. I have to be “in the moment” with my characters—seeing, feeling, breathing alongside them. If I’m not, the words will not be genuine and the emotions will not be felt.

I don’t know if what I experience is considered procrastination. I need to wrap my head around a scene or a sequence of events before I can start typing. I have to understand my objective and where I want the story to go, and sometimes that leaves me daydreaming, or I should say “conceptualizing,” for periods of time without official productivity. I don’t want to say I procrastinate because it makes me feel like I’m avoiding writing. I love to write! But I need to make sure I have something to say before I sit down, and that I allow myself enough time to fully commit to writing that scene. It’s the whole balance conundrum all over again, and I often find myself standing on a see-saw!

Jeff: What does it take to be put on a bestsellers list because that’s a goal a lot of writers have?

Rebecca: When I was placed on the USA Today best sellers list, I was selling approximately 1,000 books per day. This was, and still is, mind blowing to me. But I am grateful for each and every day of the books’ success and that more readers are finding this story. I’ve received emails from readers expressing how much Emma’s story has affected them, or how they were able connect with it due to their own experiences, or even how Emma’s struggle made them appreciate the life they have so much more—these heartfelt messages from readers are the best reward!

Three months ago I was able to “retire” from my other career in the event industry and become a full time writer! That was the most rewarding moment—to know that my work is being read enough that I can do what I’m meant to do… write. I have so many stories to share, and I am thrilled to be able to do so. I have also met some amazing indie authors who have embraced me, and I am so appreciative of their support and enthusiasm. I have a group of supportive friends. They believe in me, and are my life line during times of writer’s distress. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!

Jeff: Okay, spill the beans. What can authors do and what did you do to promote their books in a way that actually works?

Rebecca: I do not currently have an organized marketing strategy in place. I have ideas, but they haven’t quite been implemented since I’ve been focusing my efforts on writing the third book. I started off by self-publishing as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Then I created a web site as a way for fans to connect with me, or to learn more about the story and my writing experience. I created a Facebook page, signed up for Twitter, and have a no-frills blog on Goodreads.com. The rest I attribute to my readers and friends who tell everyone they know to read my books. I believe allowing enough time between the first and second book created anticipation for the next installment and may have helped as well, because as soon as Barely Breathing was published my entire world changed!

There are certainly other things I can do, such as reaching out to more bloggers. Bloggers can make a difference. They have the ability to influence readers to pick up a story by an unknown author. I know a few who have emphatically promoted the series, and I’ve gained readers because of them.

I don’t participate in as many giveaways as I think I should, which would be a way to get people who may not have known about my books interested, whether they win the books or not. I would also like to organize more public appearances.  I am also taking part in a meet and greet on September 29th in Chicago with a large group of inspiring indie authors at the Palmer House Hotel. These will be my first real life encounters with fans and fellow authors, and I am thoroughly looking forward to them!

Jeff: What’s your latest book about?

Rebecca: The latest and final installment of “The Breathing Series” is Out of Breath. It follows Emma to California where she is attending Stanford University, just as she always intended. But she is not the same girl she was in the first two books. She is broken, and the only way that she will be whole again is through forgiveness. Emma must find a way to forgive herself and recognize her own worth before she can receive the love she deserves.

This final installment’s conflict is internal, whereas the other two books focus on external trauma and obstacles. I believe Out of Breath is the most powerful of the series.

NY Times Indie Bestselling Author Sydney Landon

What is like to sell 15,000 copies of your book in one week? New York Times bestselling indie author, Sydney Landon knows and she knows first-hand how sales like that can change your world. But it didn’t come easy, as she tells us in our interview and it didn’t come overnight.

Jeff: I’m so inspired by you, how you became an indie author yet still hit the bestsellers lists. How many copies had you sold during what period of time when you were put on the bestsellers list? 

Sydney: I sold 50K on Amazon in May and made their best seller list.  I sold 15K last week and made the USA Today Best Seller List for the first time.

Jeff: How has your life changed? 

Sydney: After working for the same company for 20+ years, I am now able to work from home.  Also, I don’t think I will ever get used to the fan mail that I receive daily.  Making a living doing something that I love is awesome.  Being able to work in my Pajamas, now that is priceless!

Jeff: What did you do specifically to market your books? 

Sydney: My books were released to Amazon under their KDP Select Program.  I did one day of their free promotion on my first book and I think that probably gave me the most exposure.  Of course, I also use Twitter, Facebook and maintain a website.  I am probably the most active on Facebook and I think that is the biggest way to communicate with readers.  I have a link to all these sites in the back of each of my books which helps.  I also answer each and every email I get.  Readers love to see writers as a real person and a friend.  I have so many of them thank me for taking the time to write them back.  Anyone who takes their time to read your book and write to you deserves your time and attention in return.

Jeff: What did not work?

Sydney: I did some advertising on different romance sites and I don’t really think this paid off much if any.  The free things such as Facebook are the most useful.

Jeff: How do you manage writing with the evil enemy, “procrastination”?

Sydney: My first two book and half of the one I am working on now were written while I was still working a full-time job.  I wrote mostly in the evening.  Now that I no longer have outside employment, I usually handle my correspondence in the morning and write after lunch.

I have learned that it is ok if the words are not there that day.  I try not to force myself into a quota.  If I need to break from writing for a day or a few days, then I do.  I never do my best work when I feel like I’m forcing it.

Jeff: What is your latest book about and how is it different than the others?

Sydney: I am currently working on Book 3 in the Danvers Series.  This book will feature Beth which is the sister of Suzy in the second book and also Nick which is the brother of Gray in the second book.  This book will again feature characters from the previous two books.  This book is different in that it will deal with the sensitive issue of someone formerly overweight who struggles with self esteem issues long after she loses weight and the steps that she takes to finally love herself.

Tammara Webber: Indie Author Hitmaker

Her latest novel debuted on the bestsellers lists but it wasn’t her first time out.  Tammara Webber rocked the indie publishing world when she came out with hit after hit but things didn’t start clicking until her first few novels.  She is living proof that as an indie author, you cannot give up if your first book does not hit the New York Times. Her determination lead her to the USA Today and New York Times bestsellers lists and in my interview with her, she shares her real secret for success, when she knew she’d truly made it and all about her latest bestseller-in-the-making.

Jeff: Are you a schedule author or do you write when you’re inspired?  Do you deal with procrastination as well?

Tammara: I’m still trying to hold myself to the idea of a writing schedule. I tend to write when moved to do so, no matter what time of day (or night) that happens to be. I can be motivated by a deadline, however, even when it’s self-imposed. I decide on a date to have the first draft completed, and the number of words I assume the story will need. I divide that into words-per-day, and write those cumulative totals at the bottom of each day on the wall calendar I can see from my desk. Sometimes I get behind or ahead, but I try to stick close to the total for the day.

When I’m procrastinating, it’s always because I’m not happy with either what I’ve just written, or what I plan to write next. When I’m happy with my WIP, and I can see where it’s going next, I don’t procrastinate. So that need to “not write today” is a red flag for me that my subconscious is scrutinizing something and saying, “Um. No. I’m not writing that.”

My way of beating it is to take a notebook, a pencil, and my husband out for a long lunch. I have to be away from the house, and away from my computer. My critique partners and beta readers don’t want the story spoiled for them, but my husband allows me to throw out every crazy idea I have, and he gives me great feedback. There have been times he’s been instrumental in changing the course of a story. He’s a smart reader, and if something doesn’t ring true for him, he tells me, and I pay attention to that. These sessions usually serve to get me back on track.

Jeff: How did you know when you had made it big time as an indie author?

Tammara: I admit I didn’t have the years of rejections that many people had – simply because I didn’t put my work out there in any way for a very long time. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t writing. I was looking at what I wrote and judging it not good enough. Most authors have shelf novels. I shelved my first three without much, if any, outside input – and certainly no professional input. My fourth novel was Between the Lines, followed by two more in that series – and those three were my first foray into self-publishing.

Easy was actually the seventh novel I wrote. I knew very early into the writing process that it was special, but I never expected it to be on The New York Times or USA Today lists. That still feels unreal.

Jeff: How has your life changed?

Tammara: I’m a lot busier! I can’t believe the increase in the volume of email, let alone other social media contacts. I’m rather introverted, so it’s overwhelming sometimes. If I get sick (like I did during the past week) or have any personal or family issues – the types of things everyone has to deal with – I get behind very quickly.

Jeff: What advice do you have for the writers who are reading this and want to follow in your foot steps?

Tammara: As I mentioned above, I’m an introvert. I’m not anti-social – I’m just extremely shy. I’m the person who can go to a party and later someone will say, “You were there? Really?” The idea of marketing my books was horrifying.

My entire process in a nutshell:

Get a cover made and write a blurb. Post these on my blog, Facebook page and Goodreads.com two months or so before publication.

Do “Tuesday Teasers” from the book on my blog, and provide a link from the Facebook page to those.

Contact book bloggers to request that they review my book. I don’t do ARCs. I buy (gift) legitimate digital copies of the book the day it goes live to the reviewers who accept. (By the time I got to Easy, I only sent requests to the bloggers/reviewers who’d reviewed for me before – about twenty of them.)

When the book goes live, I post links to the individual venues on my blog, Facebook page and Twitter.

Other than that, I interact with my readers as much as I can, whether that means telling them about other books I liked and think some of them might like, letting them know milestones like when I’m done with the first draft of a new book, or answering questions.

Jeff: What did not work?

Tammara: I have no idea what of the above works or doesn’t work, as most of it is instituted before publication, and are things I would do regardless of how they affected sales. I actually don’t track sales – if I’m curious how many have been sold of a particular title “as of today” or what the average daily totals are, I ask my husband, who keeps charts! When I first published, I watched sales every day, but I quickly figured out that was an emotionally harmful thing to do. Too much up and down, based on nothing I could control. Ditto for reviews. I don’t read them, unless someone tweets or emails one right to me. I can’t change the product that’s out there. It’s done, finished, out. Once a book is out of my hands, it would be pointless to agonize over it too much. I’d never get the next one written.

Jeff: What is your latest book about and how is it different than the others?

Tammara: Easy is my latest young adult/new adult novel, and it differs from my series (Between the Lines) in content and structure. The characters in Easy are college students. The story centers around a girl, Jacqueline, who followed her high school boyfriend to the college he chose, only to have him break up with her at the beginning of their sophomore year. At the start of the novel, Jacqueline leaves a party alone and is assaulted by a frat brother of her ex. A boy she’s never met intervenes, and sets into motion a complicated relationship between two damaged people attempting to reinvent themselves.