Tag Archives: contests

Did You See…?

Leanne Pankuch was recently featured in a guest post on shadow plotting your villain’s story line on TeachingAuthors.com. Leanne is the author of the young adult fantasy, Dragon’s Truth, which is officially six-months-old. (Go to Leanne’s site to enter a contest to celebrate, but hurry! It ends September 30th!)

Dragons truth e-reader and mobile cover

In case you don’t know what shadow plotting is (We didn’t until we read the interview!), it’s plotting the main character’s and the villain’s journey in your writing process. There’s so much more to it than that, though, so you’ll want to go read the complete article/interview. You may find a better way to chronicle the journeys of your lead characters!

Can You Write a Bad Opening Line?

If you can, you might have a shot at winning the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Yes, this site actually looks for writers who can write the worst.

The contest looks for writers to submit really bad opening sentences to what we can only hope are imaginary novels, and it’s in honor of Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who famously wrote, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Check out some of this year’s winners: http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/2010.htm, but be prepared to laugh and groan.

If you win, you won’t receive a big cash award, but you just may get your name in the paper, and isn’t there a saying about there’s no such thing as bad publicity?

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Where “WWW” means “Wretched Writers Welcome”




Finding New Content for Your Website

How many times have you visited a website only to discover it had not been updated in six months or even a year? How is a reader supposed to know you’re still writing if you don’t refresh your pages now and again? You think, by the mere existence of a website itself, they should be able to tell?

Let us politely say…this is not going to happen. If we visit a site and scroll down to the bottom of the welcome page, we want to see a recent day, preferably within a week of our visit. Why? Because you wouldn’t go to a grocery store week after week if you thought for one instant their stock had not been upgraded or they ran the same sales week in and week out.

It’s all about creativity. Constantly changing your content will bring visitors back to your site and the article, 10 Website Essentials to Increase Your Sales which you can read here http://www.web-source.net/website_essentials.htm provides a list of excellent pointers, one of which is providing your visitors with fresh content on a continual basis. Ms. Lowery even lists several websites which provide free articles for publication on your website. So if you want to sell books, but you just don’t have time to pen articles as well, these places might be an excellent source for new content.

Here are some other helpful ideas to keep your website fresh:

Add polls. Ask your readers what they think about something that’s important to you, or just ask them to vote for their favorite cover of yours. Post the winning cover on the front page of your website as a Reader Favorite. It’s a great way to keep visitors involved.

Make sure your Twitter is integrated on your website so your updates are visible. Even if all you have time to do is update your Twitter, at least, you’ve made a minimal change to your website.

Make sure you have a blog. Even if you only post two or three times a week, you can always update the front page of your website to let visitors know you’ve just recently updated your blog.

What is going on in your life that you could append to your website? Are you taking a cooking class or a foreign language  class? Give your readers some recipes or teach them how to say hello in French.

Set up a separate Twitter account wherein you can include tips for something you’re interested in such as gardening. Integrate that account separate from your other account. If you constantly keep the tips flowing, there will always be something new for visitors to read.

Even if you haven’t had a new release within the last six months, you can still find ways to keep your backlist current by adding reviews as they come in. (Every website should have a What’s New section.) Add author testimonials. If you don’t have any, what’s stopping you from sending that book out for some?

Spend some time on Amazon to set up your profile there. Create lists and So You Want to guides. You can then link those to your website to let people know what you’re reading and watching.

If you’ve had articles published, consider adding them to your website as a separate page.

Keep a contest going at least once every other month.

Add new things to your website every so often like Word of the Day or This Day in History. The Free Dictionary.com also provides other free items you can include such as The Spelling Bee.

The best thing to do when seeking to keep your website current is to make sure it’s interesting and will make someone want to return for another look!

Good luck!


Contests—Worth an unpublished author’s time and money?

Freelance_Writing_Contests_and_Jobs Contests can be a great way to win recognition for your work if you’re a struggling writer, a way to break into the industry, and just a thumbs-up, especially if you place. They can also be costly unless you only enter the no-fee contests which are few and far between. So the question is should an aspiring author enter a lot of contests while they’re waiting on a publishing contract?

The simple answer is there isn’t one, but here are a few suggestions our staff has come up with that might help you make wise choices when it comes to choosing the right contests, how to know you’re getting the most bang for your buck, and how often you should enter.

1. Choose wisely and frugally. An author who has yet to be published can get so caught up in the excitement of potentially winning in a contest that he/she loses focus on the big picture which is getting a publishing contract. So set a limit of the number of contests you will allow yourself to enter every six months (or whatever time frame you choose). A good rule is to never have more contest entries than you have books sent out for consideration to publishing houses.

2. When you’re first beginning in your career, choose the no-fee entry contests. Even if you don’t place, you might get some feedback on your writing that will help you grow as an author.

3. If you’re looking to get into a certain publishing house, pay attention to their contests. Some publishers offer yearly contests that will earn you a spot in their stable of authors, and usually, the entries are free.

4. If you’ve entered three or more entry fee contests and haven’t placed, consider refining your work before you enter another contest. Also, you might consider going the no-entry fee route to see if you can get some feedback.

5. And finally, get as much information as you can about the contest before you pay that entry fee. Make sure it’s an established contest and not some fly-by-night contest eager for money. Before you spend money, do your research.

We wish you the best of luck with your entries, and should you place, make sure that figures prominently in your future query letters!


Buzzing Into Sales with Book Videos (Part III of Book Video Series)

Once you’ve generated some buzz with your book video, you’ll want to concentrate on making the buzz make money for you. This where creativity comes in. You’ve heard the phrase “think outside the box”; this couldn’t be truer when it comes to marketing.

There is one thing you need to learn first: Research is your friend. Get really close to a search engine, one you trust. You’ll be using it quite often as you’ll find that one idea will create others.

Okay, so the next month will be your test run for sales, but it’s going to be a busy one. So busy, in fact, I’m going to detail the sales portion of using book videos using two separate posts. This post will focus on advertising and more uploads.

First, you’ll want to upload your video to a few more places because you need to make sure it’s in the public eye as much as possible. Check out some places like: http://ratemybookvideo.com, http://www.watchthebook.com, http://www.revver.com, and http://www.veoh.com to name a few. Research some other places that would be beneficial for book videos. Remember that you’re not trying to sell the video; you’re trying to sell the book. So it’s important that you look at the hits/stats the websites get before you upload your video.

Spend a few minutes every day researching ways to promote using a book video. Here’s one article I just found today: http://websavvywriter.com/articles/video-book-trailer. After you do that, spend another few minutes following the steps in the article if possible. For instance, in this article, the author suggests including the link to the book video in your signature line. You could add that really quickly.

Now, on to advertising. The saying “you have to spend money to make money” is so accurate when it comes to selling a book. I know you’re probably wondering why you would spend advertising dollars promoting a video when you need to be promoting your book. Quite simply because you can advertise your video on places like YouTube which, in January 2010, had over 100 million viewers. So just imagine if you could get a small percentage of those viewers to see your video, like your video so much they go to your website, and then buy your book. Quite a coup.

YouTube lets you set the amount you want to spend when you advertise so your budget is up to you. Since you’re in a test-run phase, I’d suggest starting off small. (Remember to keep track of your video views, website hits, and now you’ll be keeping track of your sales, too.

You might also want to look for other advertising venues such as Daily Motion and Veoh. Just remember to look at the number of visitors each website gets to know if your advertising dollars should be put to work elsewhere. The search engine is your friend here because you can type in “number of visitors Daily Motion receives” to find your easy answers.

Now on to contests. Entering your book video in contests is a great way to get more people to watch it. Even if you don’t win, you’ve gotten more traffic which means more people have learned about your book. Most of the time, it’s free to enter, and all you have to do is wait for the results. Of course, you’ll want to let your Facebook (and other social networking) friends know you’ve entered.

And finally today, make sure to Twitter, blog, and update your Facebook status with everything you’re doing. Make sure the online community hears the buzz. More people translates into more sales.

In the next post, I’ll talk about more ways to utilize your book video and how to determine if your sales are increasing.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,