Author Archives: Jamie Brazil
Yesterday I threw out my January 2017 poster board of goals. In a quest to Marie-Kondo-ize that closet you see there behind me — the closet that up until yesterday held a mash up of both literary and garage sale sins — I figured out that I lost my sense of humor.
Yeah, it’s been a tough go of things this year.
My sense of humor was NOT in the closet. It is somewhere, but it was not in the closet.
In the meantime, I heaped piles in the middle of my office floor and edited. Brutally. Boxed papers for shredding. Stacked a four-foot-high tower of stuff near the front door to be re-homed. There are wicker baskets (why do I own a large collections of wicker baskets?) , hangers, clothes that don’t fit me, things I’ll never get around to selling, books (lots of books) and the ramblings of half-finished projects. Oh, and at the aforementioned garage sales, I’ve found REALLY USEFUL things like light-up animatronic flamingos.
Hmmm. The center of the floor was still a mess.
Disheartened by the chaos I bailed and went to a movie (Wonder Woman… brilliant… though the stabs of humor in the script felt forced).
Mentally restored, I returned home and tackled the last of the pile, finishing my task around 9pm. Exhausted, with an aching elbow that I don’t know how I injured, and still humorless.
What I do know is that I need a fresh start. For writing, for excavating even deeper than an office closet, and for laughter that comes from the belly.
Do April showers bring May flowers? We’ve had enough rain last month, and on a personal note, many tears too. When the Janes gathered last month at the RCRW Spring Fling I had no idea the month would end in such heartbreak: less than a week ago my two-year old Bloodhound passed away Whether it was an accident or intentional, he was poisoned
Though my “fur-baby” Angus is gone far too soon, I try to remind myself how fortunate I’ve been to have shared my home with not just one but TWO Bloodhounds. Each one magnificent in his and her own way.
So here’s hoping the rain wraps up, the sky clears, and the blossoming flowers in the coming days of May lift everyone’s spirits.
Up until this past weekend I’d never heard of Allyson Longueria, publisher of WMG Publishing, but as it turns out she’s a force to be reckoned with, and she has strong opinions on what authors and should and should not do when it comes to marketing.
At the annual RWA Rose City Romance Writers Spring Fling Allyson presented her BEST tips over three hours. It’s been a couple years since I’ve actively marketed my books, so the refresh was great, but the Amazon Ad words advice caught my interest.
Here are my top takeaways from Allyson’s class:
Series always sell better than stand alones, so think about using multiple starting points within your series. If your series has been around for a while consider marketing “anniversary” editions as on-ramps for new readers.
Amazon Ads: YOUR BOOK COVERS need be as chaste as possible – no skin showing or your book will be bounced! “Active Covers” sink in the algorithms, too – classic embrace, dangling bra strap, etc. MORE on Amazon Ad Words later.
As an extreme example– If this was your book cover, it might never see the light of day over at Amazon.
Amazon: Quotes and reviews placed after the blurb, not within the book description. Again, it’s all about the algorithms (until the algorithms change, again).
BundleRabbit is the latest greatest resource for authors who want to curate anthologies and “series starter” bundles with other writers.
Yasiv is another great site you should check out!
Reminder: Your eBooks are a long-tail investment. Don’t spend hundreds on a great cover and skimp on the formatting. The entire package needs to be professional.
Back to Amazon Ads:
We used the Product Display Ad in class.
A daily budget of $10 is standard with click buys between 25-50 cents.
ALWAYS choose manual targeting—auto is too generic.
Add your own key words—things got interesting here! A few dozen keywords? Forget it. To move the needle you need somewhere between 400-600 key words. One attendee said anything less than 700 was useless.
What to add in your 700?
Along with all the usual suspects like “romantic heroes”, “Godesses”, “Witches”, etc. your net should also include:
Authors similar to you, and popular misspellings of their names
Misspellings of your author name
Misspellings of pretty much everything commonly misspelled, as long THE KEY WORD IS RELEVANT TO YOUR BOOK.
Sneaking in non-relevant words is a no-no that will sink your ad in the algorithms.
Finally, real Amazon Ad Word numbers from an editor who does this every day: Allyson shared her data. For around $4.00 she accessed 78,000 views and that equaled 30 clicks.
So far, on all of her campaigns, her authors have earned back the money spent in promotion. When it comes to discoverability, Amazon Ad Words is a new tool that most authors should be considering.
Do you have any additional tips on using Amazon Ad Words? Please share in the comments.
Love stories abound this month, but I know you’re busy. So on a practical, and succinct, note I’ve curated the best stories. Quoted and paraphrased for brevity. Here we go, 60 seconds of IRL love:
“Costco. Bought one tire at a time until I worked up the courage to ask him out.” (17 + years together )
“She was my student. Adult ESL.” (9 years)
“It was after the war. My best friend’s boyfriend’s buddy needed a dance partner.” (50+ years)
“1965 anti-war protest. I was studying to become a priest.” (40+ years)
“Scattering the ashes of deceased husband.” (3 years)
“Knew him from square dancing. We were doing dishes when he threw the dishtowel over his shoulder, got down on one knee and proposed.” (20+ years)
“On the job. Funeral home.” (25 years)
“On the bus, commuting to work. Saw each other every day.” (30+ years)
“Conference. Slept together before our first date.” (15+ years)
“Too broke to take a vacation, I played tourist with my best friend and an acquaintance set up a sailboat trip for us. Met the love of my life.” (50+ years)
“Overseas. Volunteer relief work. I was drawn to his compassion.” (20+ years)
“She put her paw in my hand. Everything went still in that moment.” (6.5 years)
Winter and Wharton and Trump. While many settle into the chilly months with the promise of Superbowl, the Oscars, and, this year, a Presidential Inauguration to pass the time, I’m thinking of Edith. My winter tradition? Rereading Bunner Sisters. Published 100 years ago, this short novella of despair has captured my imagination for years.
What does this have to do with politics?
Well, actually, it’s about Emma-Watson style activism. It’s about Maya Angelou’s Mom and Me and Mom. It’s about a nation — OURS- facing massive divides, as any common ground and unity we once had seems to be shrinking in the rear view mirror of the past.
So this is a blog about finding possibilities in the pages of our favorite books. Even if the tale of the Bunner Sisters is, at least on the surface, depressing as hell.
In a nutshell, two sisters Ann Eliza and Evelina eek out a living in a dingy basement. It’s a hardscrabble existence, but they have each other, until a man, Ramy, enters their world. He brings ideas and possibilities and the sheer audacity of hoping for something more — something other than the steady predictability of their day-to-day lives.
I don’t want to give away the story, but Ramy’s promises give the sisters the courage to take a leap into the unknown. To leave the security they’ve always known — however bleak– for the possibility of something else.
The younger sister leaps into the unknown. In an selfless act of love, her older sister allows her to leap.
Like Maya Angelou’s autobiographical book, there’s a timeless theme of love, loss and reunion in The Bunner Sisters. A theme we might want to reflect on in 2017. Who we voted for in the 2016 election makes no difference at this point. No matter what the future brings, or whatever uncertainties visit our thoughts late at night, we are part of this historic time in the United States. Whatever losses we might feel, we still need to move forward to create possibilities.
To unite. To reunite. To come together as a nation.
Though I haven’t hidden any books around Portland, Oregon, I am leaving you with this link to be swept into the past with Bunner Sisters (free read), so that you might consider the future.