Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Dear Tommy

I have procrastinated long enough and now it is time to really work on "Dear Tommy" - my second book which is, I am proud to say, Women's Fiction and very very rated GP. Yay!

This book is my baby. I have been wanting to write it for the last two years, but for one reason or another, I also found one excuse to the next not to do it. Only very recently did I realize that "Dear Tommy" is the one book that I am willing to bleed for and I didn't really want to start writing it until I knew in my heart of hearts that I am fully ready for the impact that shaping the story would have on me. 

In the last few weeks, the need to jump-start the writing of "Dear Tommy" consumed me even in my sleep. I found myself mentally drafting scenes, plots, characters and conceptualizing book jacket designs. It didn't take long before I realized that the book was beckoning me, pleading with me, begging me to sit down and start putting my thoughts into words. And I gave in. 

I have started working on "Dear Tommy" a few days ago, just as I was launching another online business while working for Firebrand. I don't know how I manage it all, but thankfully, with a little organization and time-management skills, I get by. Because of all the things I have to juggle everyday, I only have a few hours daily that I can dedicate to writing the book, but that is okay. The reality is, "Dear Tommy" scares me. The moment that I finally told myself with absolute conviction that I am going to write the book, I felt that thunder-like banging in my chest. I was so scared I was wondering why was I suddenly scared? I've never been that scared before. I still am scared, too. There are moments when I would just stop and stare at my manuscript  and notes and then fear would set it. Another author-friend in one of the Facebook Groups I am a member of quipped that perhaps it is a good sign, that this is my breakthrough in the publishing industry... I hope so. Not really because I am desperate to have my share of the limelight, but because "Dear Tommy" is such a good story that it must reach a wide audience. People must be able to read it, especially the female populace. 

"Dear Tommy" is about a woman's struggle with unexplained infertility, a disrupted adoption , the falling out of her marriage and how she triumphed from it all.

Needless to say, I am very excited about it. I can't wait to reach the end of the novel and see how the characters would blend in with each other and how the main character would fight her way to victory. 

Join me on Facebook for updates, book snippets and other writing resources and walk with me along this exciting journey towards Dear Tommy. :)

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Woe to us who are graphic design-challenged... Not!

In my thirteen year stint as a virtual worker, I have never, not even once, attempted to mess around with any task that has something to do with graphics. Heck, I am fashion-challenged and while I am not color blind, I just wouldn't know how to mix and match colors so I always stick with the basics when it comes to my wardrobe. I might wear a geometric or floral top but I make sure that it is paired with the basics - white, gray or black. Okay, worst thing is I couldn't even draw a straight line unless I have a ruler. Or cut a paper straight. My gifts lie elsewhere...

But the world of social media marketing has evolved and nowadays, people react more to visuals. Look at Pinterest today, it has 48.7 million users, Instagram has 130 million users and Flickr has 87 million. The statistics clearly tell us one thing - people have very short attention span and hate reading social network users tend to follow, like and comment on posted images than on text posts. That said, anyone who does online marketing knows the importance of keeping up with the latest trend to maintain relevance. The problem is not everyone knows how to use Photoshop and I know I am not the only person here on earth who couldn't draw a straight line or mix and match colors.That is why, I did a little experiment today with various image editing tools and apps to test the waters and guess what? I am sharing in here what I discovered, so hop on!

Web-based tools:

1. www.picmonkey.com - My favorite so far, not because it is the best but simply because I find it easy to use and it serves my needs. I am not much into big image editing stuff and I like to keep things simple and neat so PicMonkey is great for me. It's pretty user-friendly and doesn't have too much clutter on its interface, too.

2. http://pixlr.com/ - Another user-friendly and simple web-based image editing tool that allows you to edit images, crop, add text and effects. It's like Photoshop, only simpler.

3. http://www.picnik.com/- Offers the basics - vignetting, saturating and cropping. Opens up fast, too and integrates with your Flickr account so you save some time.

Mobile apps

1. InstaQuote - I am loving InstaQuote at the moment because it offers me the flexibility to create quote images like this and picture images like this. Once you've created an image design using this app, you can choose to share it instantly on Instagram, Facebook, email or simply save it to your Camera Roll. Your image will automatically have the InstaQuote watermark, if you want to get rid of it, simply open it up from your Camera Roll and press Edit, then crop. Voila!

2. Labelbox - Labelbox is an image labeling app that allows you to create great looking labels on your photos like this. I snapped that photo in November of 2012 while my boyfriend and I were on a romantic holiday in a small but scenic coastal town north of the country. I have been wanting to use it as a backdrop for some of my profound thoughts but never really knew how to do it until I found Labelbox.

3. Comic Touch - Do you want to create something like this? Comic Touch allows you to create comic strips with your images by incorporating speech bubbles and text. It also lets you edit the image to give it a comic-like texture.

4. EZY Watermark - There are personal photos that we don't mind sharing for the world to view but are quite uneasy about the possibility of it being used by another person for other purposes. Or, simply, we just want some sense of copyright to it. EZY Watermark allows you to do this, like so.

Well, these are just a few tools and apps that are available out there and I am certain there are hundreds more. These ones are my personal favorites at the moment. Are you using another tool or app that is not in this list? I would love to hear about it, please feel free to leave a note on the comment section and I will make sure to jump right in the conversation.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Engage like batshit crazy!

The most common question I get asked by Authors is "How do I keep my audience interested?".

Unfortunately, there is no single surefire formula to hit success when it comes to keeping your fan base's loyalty intact because what works for one person may not work for others. It all really depends on your niche/genre. Not to lose heart, though, because this doesn't mean that there are no ways to find out.

People nowadays have short attention span. Posting ludicrously long messages on your fan page wall or sending them two-page marketing emails won't work for most, and actually they may even see you coming across as spammy and very salesman-like - which, realistically speaking, even you yourself don't like. Put yourself in your audience's shoes, do you like receiving sales letters - long or short? Do you like seeing five-sentence long postings on your Facebook news feed? Do you like reading "BUY MY BOOK *bit.ly#blahblah*" posts every hour from the same person everyday? I bet the answer is a resounding "no". So, don't. For heaven's sake, just don't or you'll just see the early demise of your fan page.

A lot of us miss the one most important thing when it comes to marketing and that is building relationships. You know, gone were the days of sales letters and impersonal advertisement blurbs. These days it is all about letting your personality shine through. It is all about engaging your fan base like batshit crazy!

Here are 9 ways you can keep your audience engaged on your fan page:

1. Show your audience that you are just as human as everyone else, occasionally post personal pictures - a snapshot of your dog sleeping under the Christmas tree, of a meal you prepared for your family, of you frolicking on the beach or of you and your children/grandchildren being silly. Anything, anything that would give them a face behind the name.

2. Share your life's little joys. Maybe you snagged a really great cashmere sweater at the dollar shop or found a quaint cafe' that serves wonderful croissants, share it on your fan page. Let them know how ecstatic you are about your discovery and then ask them what made them happy today?

3. Crowd-source when you are running out of ideas. Ask your audience for suggestions on character names, book ideas or a cover theme. As a reward, you can mention their name in the acknowledgment page of your book, send them a signed copy or maybe give them a free digital copy. Whatever works. Coupons are not bad as well.

4. Ask them to share their thoughts about your book on your page. Let them know that you are open to criticisms and would love to hear even the sordid details so that you could improve your next one.

5. Post infographic materials like this or this or other really funny ones. Yes, go and get a Pinterest account so you'd know what I mean and then, follow me :).

6. Be Ms. Congeniality. You've been sharing things about you, your life's little joys, family pictures, holiday photos, your favorite writing spots and even your craziest thoughts. Now it's time to get to know your audience. Talk to them. Ask them questions, they don't have to be really personal questions but they have to be smart questions that would make them respond to you. Find that one or two or five fans that you think really likes you and spend a little time chatting with them, getting to know them and be friends with them.

7. It is okay to post some rants once in a while, but please, have mercy on us, don't make it a habit otherwise we would be hitting the hide or unlike button faster than lightning. We all go through crap everyday and the last thing we want after a really trying day at work is to log on to Facebook and read rantings from our friends. I mean, hey, it's a "social" network site, isn't it? Being the bearer of negative vibes isn't really socializing.

8. Create a rewards system on your page. Set benchmarks and once that benchmark is reached, reward your fans. For example, give away 2 $50 Amazon Kindle gift cards when you reach 500 Likes. A free book copy when you hit 1000 Likes and so on.

9. Be an authority in your niche or genre. Post some tips, resource links and materials for your author/writer followers. Be helpful, be sympathetic, be a friend.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Welcome to my new baby!!!

I should have done this a long time ago. I should have started this blog years ago, I should have made friends in the publishing world eons ago and I should have started writing those books ages ago. I should have forayed into the world of PR and Marketing and book-writing the very first time the idea presented itself.

But I was chicken shit.

It took me years of struggling to discover myself, what I want, who I want in my life, how I want my life to become and yes, it took Firebrand Publishing, to give me the guts to jump right in.

So, today marks the official start of my book-writing career. Back in April, I published an erotica with Smashwords and, because I was too chicken to associate my name with an erotica, I did not market it hence, I only made one sale thanks to a friend in Alberta, Canada who had enough faith in me to spend $0.99 for a book that is peppered with cyber sex stories. I took the book down a few hours ago and still tapping my foot at the moment while deciding on what I really want to do with it. It has a crappy cover, it badly needs editing and more content wouldn't hurt. But then again, my number one concern remains - do I really want to be associated with erotic materials?

Don't get me wrong, there are thousands of great erotica out there. I read them sometimes and I love them. Not all of them are crappy and fucked-up. I have so much respect for authors in this genre because they are so brave, talented and creative. It's the brave part that sets me apart, I am not that brave and I often wish I am.

I digress...

I have been thinking about this "foray" or "venture", or however you may choose to call it, for days now and I believe that this is the perfect time to do it. I have been in the PR and Marketing industry for thirteen years now and I think I am ripe enough to wade into deeper waters. I have been writing since I learned how to hold a pen the right way, diligently putting my thoughts into words on paper, on journals, on school notebook pages and even text book pages. I was a print journalist for five years before I ventured into the outsourcing industry. I have written website content, press release materials, blog content and marketing letters for various businesses. I have been actively marketing on social media networks for over a decade now, engaging people, studying the latest trends and applying them in my various campaigns for my clients. I have the experience, the technical know-how, the means and the skills to do it.


This blog will be a main go-to place for authors, book readers and writers who wants to learn the ropes of marketing their books - no matter what genre. It will be a one-stop shop for resources, tips, news and information in the publishing and marketing industry. It will be a rich, thick and valuable treasure trove of everything there is to learn about effective organic marketing especially for authors.

As an author myself, I understand that not all of us has the inclination for marketing. Some of us had been spending so much time poking around on the internet in attempts to engage our fan base, build relationships and make book sales, to no avail and we end up feeling frustrated. Some of us don't really care much about marketing because all we really want to do is write and write some more. If only we can find someone to handle the marketing aspect for us, then this world would be a much better place to be in, right?

Let me help you. I would love to share with you what I know and help you position yourself in the spotlight.

Hang around and be my special guest... Welcome to this site... Welcome to my new baby!