Category Archives: social media

Results of Summer Science Fiction Marketing Program

photoThe results are in from my summer marketing experience.

A few comments first. I couldn’t do everything, so I picked what interested me. You will put energy into those things you want to do and slide if you’re uncomfortable with doing it. So pick what you think you’ll like to do. And do that.

I am not a famous author (yet) and I have a small platform. I am not John Scalzi who shows up for a book signing and gets a large crowd at Powell’s. I haven’t won a Hugo (yet). I Twitter some, but usually stare at the feed and think, “What the heck can I say interesting?” I enjoy writing and editing, so most days I’m doing that rather than having coffee with friends or grabbing a movie. Consequently, my local network is small because friendships take work and I keep busy with family and writing.

I do like to blog about books I like, and I like people. I don’t have a big marketing budget, and so far have used book sales to cover all expenses such as editing, covers and marketing.

Having said this, I decided to try two approaches. One was to use Amazon’s KDP Select programs. The other was to get out and do person to person.

Which would be most cost effective?

Hands down, Amazon won. In fact, it blew me away. At zero expense, I enlisted in the KDP Select and put the first book in my series Caught in Time on sale for free for five days after Mother’s Day. I submitted to Bookbub for a listing during my free days. It would cost $100 to list on their site and I’m sure they get affiliate fees in addition…but I wasn’t big enough for them and got turned down. I submitted to Sweetfree Books and received a very enthusiastic response and got a listing there for free for my free day.

I also Tweeted and blogged about my upcoming deal.

Cibola BurnNow…I am a follower of Dean Wesley Smith and several others and my cunning plan all along was to write a series as a way of selling my books. I’m also a fan of Lois Bujold, Ann McCaffrey, Lee Modesitte, Sharon Lee, and others who have big series. In fact the two books I’m reviewing next are part of an ongoing series I have been reading: Cibola Burn and Fool’s Assassin.

The first day Caught in Time went free, over 800 books got downloaded worldwide. The second day, 3000! I had expected some lag time with the others in the series, but immediately readers started to buy them, and in fact, A Dangerous Talent for Time did amazingly well.

At the end of May, there were 4500 free worldwide downloads of Caught in Time and over 60 books sold at retail in two weeks by the time the program ended.

Excited, I plunged into the Publisher’s Book Fair to sell person to person. For this, I shared expenses with Diana Peach (Myths of the Mirror, Sunwielder) I bought $100 worth of paperbacks of my titles to fill out my inventory. I bought two crystal necklaces ($50) as incentives for a three book deal, and I paid $25 toward renting the space. I bought flowers ($10) to decorate the table and chocolates ($5). Diana paid parking, drove, paid half the rent and brought the tent she had borrowed from a friend. She also purchased inventory, brought chairs and decorations. We spent from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. standing and talking to people…which was a lot of fun.

I sold six books at discounted prices.

Okay. We had fierce competition because over fifty tents all around us were also selling books.

Did I mention that I had fun? But my feet hurt.

So, next was the Amazon Countdown Deal experiment for July. This ran seven days and I was doubtful about how successful it would be, but it didn’t cost a dime and required very little time and energy.

Blam! Right away, readers all over the world started buying. They started with Caught in Time and then nibbled on the others. In fact I sold almost as many A Dangerous Talent for Time as I did the Caught in Time deal. July was my best month ever.

But I had a book signing in August to round out the summer. And another Countdown Deal with Cosmic Entanglement because now I was a believer. For the book signing, I advertised on my blog, Twitter and Goodreads. Once again, I bought flowers and added to inventory since I had sold out Caught in a Time at the Publisher’s Fair, and everyone buys the first in a series. But Jan’s Paperback Books provided cookies, table, tablecloth, chairs. I just had to show up with books and a smile. Diana bought $150 in radio advertising to see how that would help sales. We both put out the word to our multitude of friends.

Debbie and Jody of Jan’s Paperbacks were terrific hostesses. They agreed to consign two of our first two books. So locals, you can find my paperbacks there in Aloha, OR.

Neither I nor Diana sold a book.

Those who showed up knew me and had already bought. At a following book club, three people whispered they were going to come to my signing, and I had to tell them that it had already happened.

But did I mention that I had fun?

And sore feet.

But…I had one more promotion for August, and the Cosmic Entanglement Countdown Deal rolled around with me rubbing my hands in excited anticipation. This a great read and because I do time travel, it is also a good starting book. I expected wondrous things.

The universe has a way of surprising you.

I don’t know whether it was the timing (school starting), the title, the cover, reading fatigue or happenstance. I didn’t sell as many as before. But an interesting thing did happen. I sold four KLL/KOL books. These are books sold through the Kindle Lending Library and the new Kindle subscription program…and I sold a few on Smashwords…those not on the KDP Select Program. I hadn’t sold there in over a year.

When payday came, I had eight lines of income coming in. The USA, UK, Fr, AU, CA, EU, KLL/KOL and Smashwords. Then Amazon POD or the CreateSpace Paperbacks kicked in some too.

So, what have we learned boys and girls?

Amazon rocks. Don’t hesitate to experiment around. Online was better in this case and more cost effective than person to person. Series are good. Be in it for the long term.

And keep trying different stuff.

Anyone have comments on what did and didn’t work for you? I’d love to hear it. Maybe a guest post?

Here’s an interesting article on this subject.

Because I blathered on, I’ll review Cibola Burn next week…stay tuned.

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Filed under ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing, social media

An Argument for Self-Publishing

IMG_0174Two years ago I wrote an article for Morgen (‘with an e’) Bailey explaining why I turned to self-publishing. Morgen has a robust series of websites for the writer, being the one for book authors. She lives in the United Kingdom and it’s fun to check in on what’s going on at her many websites

Now three years later after deciding to self-publish, I did an evaluation. While I’m not yet paying the monthly mortgage with royalties, I do have my books being read in France, Australia, England, Canada, not to mention the United States, and around the world. Not a month has gone by that I haven’t made something in royalties. Money is always in the “mailbox.” That’s exciting. Manuscripts that moldered in a draw for many years earning nothing now have bright covers and exciting stories within them and line my office shelf.

Total so far–six with one on the way.

It’s been hard work. I struggle every day over perfecting my grammar (and I have a Master’s degree in English and taught high school English) and trying to figure out how to market. That has been the biggest challenge. The English language is full of quirks and odd rules whereas marketing is even more difficult. I am not one who likes to tout my books, even though I am very proud of them. I have no idea what to tweet about or put on Facebook, but I love to talk about interesting science fiction and enjoy writing this blog.

My mind is challenged constantly, and this tech idiot is on a steep learning curve concerning formatting, downloading, social media, and general computer skills. But, I am learning and feeling a certain sense of accomplishment. I have made many new friends and acquaintances that I value within the book world over Linked-in, twitter, email and face to face.

I maintain complete control over the story, the cover, the pricing, the marketing, the deadlines and my career. If I need help, I now know where to go. Toni Boudreault is a professional graphic designer and knows that business. Not only is she competent, but a pleasure to work with and I love the covers she does. I have hired several professional editors at reasonable prices while the Beaverton Evening Writing Group offers excellent suggestions on a biweekly basis as to how to improve each submitted chapter.

So, I’d do it again. And here’s the reasons that prompted me to self-publish in the first place and the article that explained my decision.

Should I Self-Publish?

So you’re thinking about self-publishing? Right? You just read that list of those authors who have made more than a million sales at Amazon.

You know that most likely it won’t be you…but why put up obstacles? Who really knows? I would settle for just a nice living from my writing. I would love to do what I am passionate about and have fun every day…well almost every day.

Still, you run into them, you know, the writers who angst about not getting a response from their 200 query letters and can’t imagine not formatting and sending in a killer synopsis, and first three chapters all doubled spaced in Times Roman font. All following big publishing rules for submission. And then waiting forever.

Or, the person who mumbles, “Oh you’re self-published? I heard that authors that self-publish write terrible books.” …as if they had statistics and accurate knowledge that would validate such a conclusion. As if there has never been any poorly written books put out by legacy publishers.

As if.

Millions of readers say otherwise. Millions of readers are reading ebooks and ordering paperbacks. I doubt they check who is publishing the book they read. Does a publisher’s name influence your choice? Is that how books are bought? I don’t think so.

You’ve heard the naysayers who cling to the old ways like a drowning man onto a plank of wood in a tossing storm.

So why should you self publish?

1.  Times are tight and publishers are even tighter. It’s getting hard to get in with any fiction unless you’re Amanda Hockings with a million books sold already and a fan base, or Steve Jobs, and he’s dead. Reality check time. Big publishing houses have missed the boat sometimes on figuring out blockbuster hits. Scholastic picked up Harry Potter, for crying out loud, after twelve publishing houses turned it down.

2.  You’ve tried for ten years to publish and you know you have a book that people will like. Get it out there. Let the readers decide rather than a few gatekeepers who often choose at a given moment, and then never reconsider their decision. No second chances in that game. And the rejection may be not because it wasn’t good, but just because they accepted a similar one last week and that slot is now filled.

3.  People ask me if I’m making money. I answer, “More than gathering dust on the shelf. That made me $0.” What have you got to lose? Just be wary of the scams. Yes, another blog for another day, but so far all revenues have covered any expenses. So it can be done, but it does take work.

4.  Maybe you are retired, currently unemployed, or have time on your hands. Or have room for a part-time side job. I worked full time for years and wrote on the side. Then, they closed down the art gallery where I worked and the economy turned terrible. Finding a new job where I wanted to work wasn’t easy. Okay, I was picky. Now, instead of depression and feeling useless, I’m learning exciting new skills and getting paid for the experience. My life has purpose and I’m having fun. There is a psychological side to it—a sense of purpose…a sense of accomplishment.

5.  You are your own boss and set your own schedule. You decide on the cover, what your write, how you price it and no one else tells you what to do.  I don’t have big gas bills and I have a short commute. No stop lights. Plenty of coffee in the morning.

6.  You have exciting conversations at parties about your book and you give speeches and show what you have written. Long lost college roommates e-mail you and tell you how much they liked your work. You amaze your mother who is astounded that her own child has written a novel, or two, or more.

7.  You love to write and your dream is to see you book in hand. Now. Facts: It takes a long time to get published. It took eighteen months to get Baen books to ask for my entire manuscript after countless other queries to other publishers, and then a year after that they said, “No thanks.” I wasted two years because they said, “No simultaneous submissions.” They make up all these rules and like sheep, wannabe authors follow them afraid to rock the boat or ruin their chances.

Even if you were accepted right this second, acceptance in hand today, it takes a year or more to hit the shelf. Most likely two. Will those shelves be there in two years?

7.  What is everyone getting for Christmas? Most likely a Kindle Fire, an Ipad2, a Nook, or an iPhone. Why am I a self- published, Indie author? It just makes sense for me in my place and at this time. Why not? Why wait any longer?

8.  And if you are successful, didn’t a big publishing house offer Amanda Hockings an amazing contract? You can put both oars in the water if you want. You can do both and no one will arrest you. Ask Dean Wesley Smith about that. It isn’t an “either, or” situation.

9.  If you’re smart about it, you have nothing to lose. Hey! Don’t these babies look great and fun to read? (check out my right panel) Why don’t you try one? An ebook is $2.99-$3.99. Less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

10. Think about it.

Find my books at  Also at Smashwords multiplatform formats, Kindle, in paperback at Amazon.

Caught In Time or Cosmic Entanglement are good starts, but all have stand alone stories in the Alysian Universe.

Check out for further information on my books and the world of Alysia, including map, character listings and dictionary.

Some small publishers are springing up to help the new author and are worth looking into if you need a helping hand, but be careful of the many scams out there. Editors and Predators is a website that highlights those to watch out for.

If you decide to self-publish, I welcome you to a whole new experience.







Filed under Indie authors, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing, social media

Celebrations and awards

IMG_9518After you’ve put in a lot of hard work, sometimes you just have to stop, savor the moment and celebrate.

So, I’m celebrating the publishing of my fifth book, Space Song.

Wahoo! Pass the champagne.

For those of you who think writing a book is easy…I’ve got news. It’s not.

But it is fun and rewarding, and like life, there’s many ups and downs in the writing game. Just hold on in that roller coaster knowing when you’re down, there’s usually an up and when things are great…well bask in the fleetness of the moment.

As in most things, if you stick with it, eventually you’ll see the finish line.

Many times I was ready to give up, and usually my writing was relegated to a weekend activity since I often had a day job or a family to take care of. But now, I look with pride at what I have accomplished and am glad I kept

So I’ll still keep going, and my next book Touching Crystal is due out in November. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of hard work ahead.

However, to celebrate I’m offering through the KDP Select program my first novel,  Caught in Time  free through Amazon Kindle, Tuesday 4/16 & Wednesday 4/17. Just right click on the book image at right, and click open in new window.

My gift to you.

Because I’m giddy with celebrations and awards, since I have been awarded the Liebster Award for this blog.

Thank you Andy McKell. I take a humble bow.

The what? You say.

Well, blush and a  hand to the side of my mouth…The Liebster Award.

You know, for the upcoming newbie bloggers that someone likes and nominates. It’s all the rage in up and coming blogs.

liebster-award4-e1361373936960Liebster is German for favorite. The idea is to name eleven favorite bloggers with less than 200-300 followers. Which is hard to figure at times, so apologies if you have way more, but know that I admire your blog and want others to know about it and admire it too.

And why eleven? Beats me.

It’s like “hearing it on the grapevine”, or a complimentary chain letter where there are no threats of I’ll will…only wishes for fame and good fortune.

However, I have to abide by certain rules, which actually vary from time to time and are a bit squishy and vague at others.

Post 11 facts about yourself

Answer 11 questions your nominee sent in

Create 11 questions for your nominees

Choose 11 people to give award

Go to their site and tell them

First I have to tell you eleven things about me.

1.   I’m 5′ 11 1/4″. Tall is in my family.

2.   Married to a wonderful man…except for the odd occasion when he does something that makes me crazy.

3.   Have a beautiful daughter. Ditto above for her.

4.   Soloed in an airplane and logged many flying hours as copilot.

5.   Have raced in many races in a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay when I lived in Annapolis

6.   Worked as a stockbroker and watch Fast Money every morning.

7.   Consider myself an oil landscape painter who loves art.

8.   Visited Paris for an anniversary surprise. I wanted to hate it, but I loved it.

9.   Write science fiction, thanks to my father, who loved the genre and always wanted to write but never got around to it.

10. Had a father who went to the Naval Academy of which I’m very proud

11.  I’m half Danish, half English.

Nominate your favorite upcoming blogs.

Please drop in on my nominees and leave a comment. Share the love.


Here are the Questions that Andy asked me: my answers in bold.

1. Why did you decide to blog?

A). I love science fiction and wanted to get a dialog going about the books I  really enjoyed.

2.  What is your theme?

A). My theme is science fiction/ fantasy books and things of the future.

3.  Do you find blogging satisfying?

A). Sometimes. Some weeks I struggle to find something interesting enough, other weeks I’m leaping off the page to share my thoughts.

4.  What format do you use?

A). WordPressI am a techno-idiot and wanted something easy.

5. What social network platforms are you on?

A). Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and am thinking of Pinterest.

6.  How do you schedule your blogging?

A). Every Monday. I read somewhere that was the best day, but I have no idea why

7.  Favorite movie?

A). No one favorite

8.  Favorite novel?

A). Oh please. Dune…there’s too many.

9.  What is your ambition?

A). To finish publishing my current books and figure out how to get more people to enjoy them.

10. Greatest success?

A). Still to come

11. If you could move anywhere, where?

A). We discussed this and every place has its strength and weakness. Right now I like Portland, OR

My questions to my nominees:

1. What excites you?

2. What do you want to accomplish with your life?

3. Why do you blog?

4. What’s your favorite science fiction/fantasy novel?

5. Best part of the day or week?

6. What is one odd thing that few people know about you?

7. How do you schedule your blogging?

8. What social platform works best for your purpose?

9. What is the theme of your blog?

10. What do you like best about where you live?

Check in…meet new people…enjoy the moment…giggle…and pass the champagne.


Filed under blog information, ebook marketing, social media, Uncategorized

Science Fiction: FREE! FREE! FREE!

IMG_9518A magic word, FREE.

That is attracting the marketing attention of authors.

“Social networking forums” used to be  the venue for marketing. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, I could go on and on.

And did.

It was a time sink. And I’m not sure that it translated into sales.

So, this week I’m talking about free as a new marketing technique, I’ll be reviewing  a book that I got free and offering two free novels to you. So read on.

Goodreads is one way to offer your book free. You can decide how many you want to offer, what country you want to deliver to and what time period you want to offer it in. Hopefully, the winner will write up a stellar review and lots of people will sign up and look over your work. Many authors have used this, me included, and have suggested it as a way to get a new book noticed. The problem is that many are doing it and the free book choices are overwhelming. Once again, you’re jumping up and down in a crowded room. Did I sell any books? I’m not sure. And it costs to supply a paperback and ship it. If your margins are thin, is it worth it?

Smashwords will let you put up your books for free. However, you still have to bring the readers to the party.

Baen Free Library (science fiction) and the Gutenberg Project also offer free. The Gutenberg, however, is older books whose rights have expired. Many local libraries are also offering free ebooks, along with the usual hardbacks. Check out your own library to see what kind of program they have.

And even bookstores are offering free books. YES! Powell’s bookstore has a Science Fiction Book club and each week they pass around free samples, or uncorrected beta reader’s samples. That’s how I won Andre Norton’s Ice and Shadow. This is two older back-listed novels put together and made into a new book.

With  a delicious cover staring at me from my bedside table, I soon grabbed it up and began reading.

Ice and ShadowAnd was pleasantly surprised.

The first story, Ice Crown, is about an archeology team that lands on a once interdicted world looking for artifacts of a mysterious Forerunners civilization. This was a technically advanced race that spread throughout the galaxy and then vanished before humans ever had fire. The planet has been closed off for centuries and is rumored to be an experiment in human mind control by the overseers the Psychocrats. Following a lead on possible Forerunner technology hidden there, Roane, a member of the team, goes on a search and finds herself caught out in a storm. She flees to a ruined tower for shelter, only to be followed in by three roughs and their hostage, the king’s daughter. Roane hides behind the bed and watches them bring in the princess, tie her up, and leave. Against all exploratory protocol, Roane reveals herself and the two escape. The Princess is desperate to find the missing Ice Crown that is held by the current ruling monarch of her kingdom of Revy and controls the mind of all his subjects. He is dying, and on his death, if the crown is not secured, the kingdom of Revy will fall to enemy factions. Together the two of them search for the Ice Crown and fend off the enemy forces bent on capturing it and the rest of Roane’s team who are ready to arrest her for breaking protocol and return her in disgrace to her home planet.

Okay, I’m not telling you any more, as I’ll give all away. But it was a rousing story and I enjoyed it thoroughly….never mind the price. I want to read more Andre Norton.

And that’s the point of free. To give you a taste like chocolate, so a small bite will leave you wanting more.

Levine-SpaceMagic_600x900 copyTo this end, David LeVine has authorized me to give away a free copy of his anthology Space Magic. Check out my January blog to find out all about David and this highly recommended book. I’ll hold a drawing gotten from names who leave comments for the next two weeks on my blog. Monday, March 4th, I’ll draw a name from that pot and email the winner a copy. So let me know about free book sites, your favorite science fiction book, your best marketing idea, if Goodreads was a success for you or not, or anything you might want to say about science fiction and fantasy.

And..TA…DAAA.. I have enrolled my first book, Caught In Time in the Kindle Select Program. If you’re a Prime Member, you can download a free novel once a month from their library and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (in time for Valentine’s day) February 15, 16, 17.  Caught In Time will be offered free on Just go there, put in Caught In Time by Sheron Wood McCartha and download it FREE FREE FREE. This is a limited time offer, however. So mark your calendar.

If you want to see what you are getting, go to my book website at to read all about it or check out the right hand side bar here on my blog.

There are many who advocate the Select program, so I’m going to see what results I get.

And maybe you might like the taste of my chocolate.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, ebook marketing, genetic manipulation, modifying humans, science fiction, science fiction series, social media

Can We Crinkle Space?

According to an article listed in the Kurtzweil Newsletter, professors at UC Davis say we can.

If you are not familiar with this free weekly newsletter and are a science geek, let me suggest it. Go to

Ray Kurtzweil wrote the stunning book, The Singularity is Near that is a non-fiction discourse on what our future may be. He bases it on current science discoveries and projects.

Very thought provoking for the intellectually ambitious.

Immortality, human-like robots, nanotechnology and much more…Science reality.

The newsletter contains current projects and experiments and is where I saw this article claiming that we can crinkle space. We are nowhere near the scope found in Frank Herbert’s Dune where space travel is managed by folding space, but it’s a thought-provoking article, nonetheless. My current characters in Past the Event Horizon are dealing with the vast distances of space and the difficulty that poses in getting around.

I mentioned last week of accidentally discovering Jon Courtenay Grimwood and now I find him on the Locus Online’s short list for best books of 2011 with the book The Fallen Blade. Might be worth a look.

Browsing in the library, I also found 9Foxtails by Grimwood. This is an even better book than the others that I read with the intriguing premise of a murdered cop finding himself in another body who then decides to solve his own murder.

With his murdered persona inside a strange body, he hears how others have perceived him. His estranged daughter, his ex-wife, his police partner, his boss, the list goes on as he listens in shock to what others say about him.

Wouldn’t that be fun? Or would it? What do you think people would say about you if they didn’t think it was you they were talking to?

There are several diverse strands in the story that I was sure would never come together…but they do…eventually at the very end…and in a believable and satisfying way…much to my surprise.

A combination of Scalzi (downloaded personality), Gibson (tone and technology), Modesitte (tone and mystery), and Kris Rusch (scifi mystery)

A similar problem of solving his own murder confronted Harry Dresden in Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story that I reviewed earlier. As a ghost, Harry has a corporeal problem to getting a handle on things, while Bobby Zha just has people writing down psychiatrists’ phone numbers when he tries to tell them he is really the murdered man, never mind the most recent funeral.

I also just want to mention a scheduling detail. I recently read a blog in Indies unlimited that said most people read blogs Monday through Fridays. Saturday and Sunday were considered the least read days. Since I believe everything written on the Internet (wink), I have moved my blog to Mondays. It’s a good rationalization. One I’m comfortable with.

However, they also mentioned that ten o’clock was the most often read time. Since, I’m out in the Northwest, this isn’t going to happen. I’m a committed blogger, well, committed was the word mentioned, but not at seven o’clock my time. I can hardly roll out of bed in the morning, even when gravity is in full force.

Since I’m in full edit mode and sliding backwards, I thought Indie editing might be a good topic for next week and some interesting information on habitable worlds, along with some more scifi book ideas. See you then.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, artificial nature, Best selling science fiction, blog information, downloaded personalities, gene modification, genetic manipulation, modifying humans, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, science news, social media, space ship, space travel