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One of the hot topics this week on romance blogs and groups is whether or not RWA (Romance Writers of America) membership is worth the yearly dues.  Interesting for me because I’ve been debating that same thing, especially now that RWA announced they’re thinking of raising the price for members.  Truthfully, I was considering just letting my membership lapse when it comes time to write that check next year and now, if they do decide to raise the yearly dues, I have to say I probably will do just that. 

Still, there are a lot of benefits to being an RWA member, but the only one I seem to get anything out of with any regularity is RWR, their monthly magazine.  I’m fully aware that I could get more bang for my buck if I would take advantage of all that they offer with their on-line site.  And it would certainly help if I joined a local chapter…but the nearest one to me is about three hours away and that’s not even in North Carolina, it’s in Tennessee.  There are two chapters in NC, but they’re both on the other side of the state, one in Charlotte and one in Raleigh, and both are even farther away than the one in Tennessee.

And I have to wonder why there isn’t a local chapter in Asheville?  Do all the romance writers in NC really live over in the eastern part of the state?  Probably not, but apparently all the ones interested in joining a local chapter don’t mind the drive.  I do so this morning I went on the RWA site and looked at what it takes to start a local chapter.  Even came up with a name for it, Blue Ridge Romance Writers, and RWA has all the information you need to start a local chapter, but the big question is; do I really have the time?  Not to mention, would it benefit me to get involved in something which has the potential to be very time-consuming and energy-draining?

I think it probably would, but I need to do more research and find some way of figuring out if there would be enough interest in a chapter for the authors who live in the western part of the state like I do.  I do know it would be a lot of work and until I get the edits done on Storm Shadows, I’m not willing to shift my focus to something else.  Once that’s done, I plan on going back on the RWA site and check out just what and how I would go about doing it, because given all the members who commented that they get more out of their local chapter than the national chapter, I think it might be a good idea.

On another note, I received an email the other day, The Book Marketing Expert Newsletter, from Author Marketing Experts.  I don’t remember signing up for this one, but I have to say, I’m glad I did.  As well as putting out a great newsletter, they have a blog and a site run by Penny C. Sansevieri, which is just chock-full of information on how to market your books.  You can sign up for the newsletter on Ms. Sansevieri’s site.  Check it out, I think you’ll be glad you did!

Now that my chaotic life has calmed down a bit, I’m slowly getting back on track with my writing.  I’m working on polishing Storm Shadows, the second book in my Eternal Shadows series, and yesterday I started a new short story based on the Cherokee legend of Ataga’hi, the Enchanted Lake.  My muse, I’m happy to say, has returned from her extended vacation.  Yippee! 

The thing is…with her return I’ve realized I’m going to have to set up a schedule and worse than that, I’m going to have to follow it.  I hate that!  Chalk it up to years of teaching and having to plan every minute of every school day!  Now that my first print book is out, I find I can’t spend every minute of my day writing.   Well, I suppose I could, but if I ever want to make any money at this new career I’ve chosen, I’m going to have to promote my work and at least try to sell a book or two–or three gazillion!

Yes, I need to promote, promote, promote.  I get it, but…ugh!  That’s not a good thing for someone like me who’s of the W. C. Fields/children school of thought when it comes to people.  You know, “Go away kid, you bother me,” only with me it’s “go away people, you bother me”!  So, in my introverted stand-offishness, I naturally turn to the Internet for promotions.

Problem is, I’ve wasted a lot of time in the last couple of weeks looking for the best way to promote my book on-line.  I get caught up in one site which leads me to another which leads to another which leads me to yet another and on and on an on.  And in all that time spent at all those many sites, I don’t get any promoting done at all.  In fact, about the only thing I’ve accomplished is that I may very well qualify for the Guinness World Records as the person who has the longest “Favorites” list in the history of AOL.

Don’t get me wrong, I love lists, but this one has gotten a little out-of-control.  TMI!  So, in the interest of holding onto at least a little bit of my sanity–and selling a book or two!–I’m making a list of promotion ideas and since I believe wholeheartedly in passing it forward, I’m going to include some of them here on my blog.  I’ve already done that a couple of times and hopefully as I make my way through the mire of self-promotion, I’ll be able to give other aspiring authors some valuable help.

That said, today’s site is a post I came across at The Midnight Hour, a blog hosted by several paranormal authors.  This particular bit of wisdom is by Cheyenne McCray and in it she lists 20 ways authors can promote themselves and their books.  Although it was posted almost two years ago, it’s still relevant today and extremely helpful, especially if you’re a list-lover like me!  

Hmm, let’s see, if I set up a file on my “Favorites” list for each of the 20 points, and assign each of the sites in my “Promotions” file list to one of the files, and work out a schedule with set times for each file then maybe I’ll have this self-promotion gig nailed down within the next millennium or so…

Seriously, Ms. McCray, thanks for the tips and for bringing a touch of sanity back to my sometimes–okay, mostly!–insane world!

…gathered over the past week from around the blog-o-spere:

1.  From Karen Knows Best, a post by Azteclady (this was last weekend)  about piracy in the world of ebooks.  The post itself was interesting, but the comments that came after were even more so.  Seriously, are there people out there who actually think downloading e-books from sites that offer them for free isn’t stealing?  Apparently there are.  Come on, people get a clue here, you’re taking someone else’s hard work and not paying them for it.  Hmm…sort of on a par with plagiarism. 

2.  There were multiple posts this past week dealing with New Concepts Publishing and their latest vendetta against the authors who’ve been trying to get their rights back.  Well, they gave some of them back but in shall we say, a less than professional manner, posting the author’s pseudonyms and giving their real names.  Why do they think authors use a pseudonym?  Trust me, there’s usually a good reason and it’s not because they hate their real names!

3.  From the EREC blog on June 23rd, a new market for romance writers–and readers!–coming from Grass Roots Magazine, Love Stories Magazine.  Click on it and check it out!  Their submission guidelines will give you the scoop.  Pays $300 dollars for a short story and $50-75 for poems.  I don’t write romantic poetry, but I have a feeling Ms. Veinglory speaks the truth when she says, “a paying romance poetry market, that’s like finding a unicorn!”

4.  Also from June 23rd, one of my favorite Red Sox blogs had a post that had me laughing so hard I almost hurt myself!  The blog?  Basegirl.  The post?  Walkoffs and Bulldogs. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.   The hilarity?  Kristen (Basegirl) and her friend Amy discuss Jason Varitek’s awesomeness and come to the conclusion he’s the “Banana Republic cut” when it comes to catchers.  I have to agree with them, since I’m almost as big a fan of Tek’s as I am of Manny.  Hey, I didn’t name my car Tek for nothing!  Well okay, it had a little to do with the fact that I drive an Aztec, but note the spelling, TEK, which is in Red Sox Nation, the name for our stupendous catcher/team captain.

5.  I think this one comes from the comment section of #1 above, but I can’t be sure and I don’t have time to go back and look it up.  It’s something I came across early in the week, and it struck me as “words to remember” so I copied and pasted it to my file on Book Promotion Ideas.  It comes from best-selling author, Nora Roberts.

“Most of us who write, as most of us who write know, want to write. Want to be alone, don’t want to go out there in the world. Some of us go out there when we’re told we must, and we do just fine. But that is NOT how we want to make our living. Moreover, it’s not in our skillset.”

Can you believe that?  Nora Roberts feels the same way I do about writing and promoting her books.  She wants to be alone, I want to be alone.  She doesn’t want to go out there in the world, I don’t want to go out there in the world.  She just wants to write, I just want to write.  But here’s the real wisdom in her comment: “Some of us go out there when we’re told we must, and we do just fine.”  

Thanks, Ms. Roberts, I’ll try my best to remember that!  In fact, I may just make it my mantra as I move closer to the release date of my book.

I’ll do just fine…I’ll do just fine…I’ll do just fine…oh, God, where’s the bathroom?  I think I’m going to be sick!  Is there a doctor in the house?  I want my mama!

After a week of furious writing–48,000 words and counting!–I spent yesterday morning researching poisonous snakes–did you know North Carolina is the number one state for poisonous snakebites?  I didn’t, but I do now and I fully expect to have a few nightmares after reading about it!  Then to take my mind off the hideousness of that and to calm the heebie-jeebies a bit, I spent a couple of hours browsing through the promotion sites I have on my favorites list.

There are a lot of them out there, some packed full of really good tips and some with only a few, but worth reading anyway.  A couple of my favorites:

Muze’s Musings (Free Ways to Blog Your Book Promotions)

David Louis Edelman (A Guide to Ethical Self-Promotion)

Both well-worth reading.  And then there’s DeAnna Cameron’s blog, On Writing, Publishing, and Other Odds and Ends (many thanks to author Lisa Alber for directing me to this sight!).  It’s a great source for learning about what other authors are doing to promote their books.  Ms. Cameron has asked various authors the all-important question, “How’d you find your audience?”  Some of their responses are helpful, some priceless, and all entertaining to an aspiring author with a book coming out soon.

Finally, there’s a great article in last month’s RWR, Self-Promotion for the Introvert by Jane McBride Choate.  Haven’t checked to see if this is available on-line, I suspect it is on the RWA site, but I don’t know if you have to be a member to access it.  Anyway, it’s an interesting article and in my case, highly appropriate because I consider myself the most introverted of all introverts.  Seriously, I don’t like people I could do without people I’m shy, damn it!

One of the best things about this ariticle?  It validates something I’ve suspected for quite a while now; the efficacy of having a MySpace, Facebook, etc. page.  The following quote comes from Gwen Shuster-Haynes, a Harvard MBA who has an online class for writers; “Introverts and Extroverts:  Create a Career Path Built on Your Strengths.”  Ms. Shuster-Haynes says, “If you write books that are read by readers ‘of a certain age,’ creating a presence on or doesn’t make sense because your readers aren’t spending time at MySpace and Facebook.  If, however, you write with a hip, fun voice that attracts college students, your marketing priority should be to establish a presence at MySpace, Facebook, and whatever the next communication technique that will he hot for college students.”

In other words, know your target audience and create a presence where they’ll be sure to see you.  Exactly what I’ve told various friends, both in the real world and in cyber-space, MySpace isn’t the place for me.

The thing is…I reluctantly set up a MySpace page back when my first ebook came out, but I haven’t done much with it.  First, it makes me nervous because my computer security system kept popping up and saying I’d clicked on a dangerous site.  Second, it was obvious to me from the start that the MySpace crowd is a little young for my books.  Third–and I admit this one and the next one is a personal thing–I don’t appreciate a site where anyone can send me messages telling me I’m a bitch.  And fourth, am I the only person in the history of MySpace who wasn’t ‘friended’ by Tom–or whatever the heck his name is–when they first joined?  What’s up with that?  Does he know something about me that I don’t know?  Did I do something to offend him?

<sigh>  Getting back to my point, I just don’t think MySpace is the place for me to find readers.  I never signed up for Facebook and I’ll keep the MySpace page, but I doubt I’ll do much with it.  I’m thinking there are a lot better places for a romance author to spend her time…like GoodReads, Gather, Author’s Den, Shelfari, My Library Thing, Cata Romance, Romance Junkies, ParaNormal Romance, Coffee Time and various other of the seemingly infinte number of romance forums, Amazon, Nothing Binding, etc.

Oh man, I think my brain just exploded!  Maybe I should take a break from thinking about promotions and watch the Red Sox go up against the Cardinals on Gameday.  But given the June-swoon Boston seems to be in right now, I don’t think I can take it.  Hey guys, do me a favor and snap out of it, would ya’?  A win today over St. Louis would soothe my promotion-challenged, over-taxed mind. 




Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams