Take the Confusion Out of Planning Your Blog Tour

March 3rd, 2015


If you are new to the term and premise of a blog tour, refer to my February 21, 2015 post.

This post is for those who are ready to move forward with their tour. It’s all about the details.

Planning a blog tour can be a fun activity. But there are a lot of details to keep track of, so it can be time-consuming and a little confusing at times. That’s why it is vital that you keep excellent, clear, concise records!

Do not rely on your memory because, as you communicate with each blog host and work out the details of each stopover, things can become convoluted—did she want a story from the cat’s point of view? Is she doing a review or does she want me to write a post? Which one of these hosts asked for three photos? Who has the cover images and who requested them? Oh my!

I log each date of the tour, note the name of each host, name of the blog, and the exact, correct link. Leave enough space for your comments and notes. Post the date when you sent the requested material. Then, if you need to double-check on something, you can locate the email trail more easily.

I find it helpful to note the titles of my guest posts because some of them might be similar. And include the name you saved it under in case you need to reference it again. I said that some of your posts might be similar—yes, in a general way. However, it will be worth your time and energy to make your guest posts as different and diverse as possible. For some of you, this can be a huge challenge. It’s also an excellent exercise for an author who is serious about promoting his or her book.

Why? You want your promo material to be fresh. Many of your potential readers will see your marketing efforts in a variety of places. Creativity and diversity will attract them sooner than will the same mundane advertisement.

Learn more about my upcoming blog tour (March 9-15) here: http://bit.ly/1M4Ckld And be sure to journey along with us.


Connect, Engage, Be Part of the Now World

March 1st, 2015

The other day I was waiting in line at the post office. Later I sat in the dentist’s office waiting room. After that, I went to lunch with my mom. What I observed in all three situations gave me pause for thought.

You see, everywhere I went that day—even as I was driving along city streets—I noticed people walking or standing slightly slumped peering down into their cell phones rather than engaging with the people amidst them or even acknowledging their environments. They were texting or reading email messages or visiting their facebook pages rather than facing their current reality—or living in the moment.

This got me to thinking about a couple of things. If a crime were to take place at that moment, these would be horrible witnesses. “Uh, I didn’t see a thing…there was a robbery and the robber walked right past me? Nope, I didn’t even notice that.” Of course, there’d be others taking out their phones and snapping pictures of the event and then putting them on YouTube.

Another thought I had was how sad it is that we’re not interacting with others. For me, waiting or strolling, for example, are opportunities—opportunities to relax and reflect, but also opportunities to connect, learn something, share something.

What happens when you notice, acknowledge, reach out to someone? I’ve sold books to strangers—many times. I sometimes get ideas for stories or characters. I’ve learned things from a wide variety of people I meet and I’ve had the pleasure of helping by sharing knowledge or information. And if you don’t think that a warm “thank you” can brighten your day, you’re spending way too much time looking at the screen of your cell phone.

I walk most days. I like walking in a lovely area we call The Meadows. I’ve even seen people out in this amazing near-wilderness area texting as their dog exuberantly explore along the trails. What a shame that only their dog is aware of the carpet of yellow mustard flowers, the bluebird building a nest, the bunny hopping across the trail, the ducks floating on the pond…

The next time you step outside your house whether for a walk, to dine with a friend, or to run an errand, spend more of that time in the moment. Keep your cell phone in your pocket. Connect with real people in real time in person. You might just walk away with a lovely gift—a compliment, a new book recommendation, a coupon for those cookies you love, a warm thought after a moment of reminiscing with someone your age, or simply a smile.

Klepto Cat Mysteries

Have you been one of the hundreds who have already ordered your Kindle copy of Mansion of Meows? This one seems to be a 5-star wonder. Those who’ve read it are begging for more. Heck, I don’t know how I could write any faster—I brought out 6 Klepto Cat Mysteries in 2014. Mansion of Meows is number 9 in this series. Yup, I’m working diligently and happily on book 10, despite my chiropractor’s insistence that I get away from the computer more often. Guess I’d better take my own advice and go out and mingle more. Order all Klepto Cat Mysteries here: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2. All 9 of the books are formatted for Kindle at $2.99. The first five are also in print.



Your Story’s Timeline

February 24th, 2015

One of my challenges in story-writing is the timeline. And boy am I a stickler about it—almost obsessive, at times. As I teach and preach, even fiction must ring true. Saturday has to follow Friday. If it is summer in Honolulu, you’d better not write in a sled ride in freezing temps. Readers don’t trust writers who misstep when it comes to the logical flow of a story and the timeline.

One of my challenges is keeping the story well-contained. Cozy mysteries generally take place within a short period of time. I tend to drag out my stories—it takes time for some aspects of a story to gel and to make sense. If someone is traveling thousands of miles by car, they aren’t going to reach their destination in a few hours. Sometimes things simply don’t happen bam-bam-bam—there must be time allowed for research to be done, a character to heal, a mind to be changed…

My last story, Mansion of Meows, occurred within a brief week. That was a record for me—high-five!! The one I’m working on—sort of a sequel to Mansion of Meows—encompasses a month and I’m finding it difficult to keep true to the calendar, if you know what I mean. Realizing how important it is, however, I’m spending a lot of time on my timeline. In fact, this morning, I went carefully through the draft and checked each day, noting the progression on a separate sheet of paper. I was pretty impressed with myself to learn that I was right-on with the succession of days, except for one small glitch. Oops, I had two Wednesdays in one week. Now that would never escape my astute readers’ attention.

My next task is to see if I can cut the time down. Problem is, some issues take time to incubate—like a relationship does. Timelines in stories, like the baking of a perfect pie, can’t be hurried. But it’s vital that the author maintain a perfect sequence of events.

I know one writer who pastes post-its all over the walls of her studio to keep track of her timeline. I tried using index cards once—that was cumbersome for me, although I know it works for others. When you’re writing a series, it is highly important that you maintain a natural and realistic timeline. I’ve introduced a baby into my Klepto Cat Mystery series, for example, and it is important that I stay true to her age progression. The main cat character, however—I think I’ll have to give him eternal life. My fans would never forgive me if I allowed Rags to age and… No, let’s don’t even go there.

I’d love to hear from others about how they handle their story timelines. PLFry620@yahoo.com Or you can leave a comment here.

How to Manage a Blog Tour

February 21st, 2015

I’m planning another blog tour in order to promote my Klepto Cat Mystery series. I’ve shared with you before, the process of setting up and managing a blog tour. In case I missed some of the important points, or you missed that post, here’s a rundown.

Why launch a blog tour?

It’s a good way to get publicity for your book. When you contact bloggers who maintain blog sites related to the theme/genre of your book, they become aware of your book. If they choose to be a part of your blog tour or not, they will surely review your book or mention it in a post or two. They might feature your book at their blog site. If they participate in your tour, they’ll provide even more exposure for your book or series, as both of you will promote the blog through your social media accounts the day your review or guest post is published. It surprises me how many people who visit blogs related to the theme of my book series are not aware of my books. I find the blog tour a great way to spread the word to a wider audience base.

How do you find bloggers?

I do an Internet search seeking those who blog about cats and/or cozy mysteries. When I visit a blog site, I check out a few posts to learn whether this blogger posts book reviews or guest blogs. I also check to see how active their visitors are—does this site get a lot of comments? Does it appear there are a lot of visitors? If so, and if their audience seems to be my audience, I contact the blogger to invite them to be a part of my blog tour.

Some bloggers list links to dozens of related sites at their sites. Now this is an easy, albeit sometimes time-consuming, way to locate other potential stops on my blog tour.

How do you approach bloggers?

I locate their contact information. Sometimes it’s a contact form, other times they provide an email address. I tell them about my book or series, inform them of my blog tour, and ask if they’d like to participate. I generally ask for a review of the book. If that isn’t possible—the blogger doesn’t do book reviews or she is booked up through the dates of my tour—I’ll have a few ideas to offer in the form of a guest post. Typically, I’ll write about writing with cats, how I came to write the Klepto Cat Mystery series, my process for developing my characters or the plots, a post from one of my characters’ points of view, or I might even write from my cat character’s perspective. It depends on the nature of the blog site and the type of audience they attract.

What can you expect?

As it is in life and other business dealings, some bloggers are savvy, organized, and easy to work with. Others are not familiar with the blog tour or they aren’t good at returning emails. Some are welcoming and others prefer doing their own thing. Your job is to be clear in your intentions and expectations and hold up your end of the discussion or agreement. When you really, really want to connect with a blogger who hasn’t responded, respectfully follow up. If the blogger wants something you didn’t expect, be willing to supply it.

For example, I’m setting up my tour for the second week in March, but one blogger plans to travel during that time and needed the post this week. Of course, I dropped everything and wrote my guest blog for her that day.

What’s your role?

The two most important things on your plate, once you’ve set up your tour—you’ve filled each day of your tour with a suitable blog stop—are organization and follow-through. Organizing a blog tour is not always easy, especially when bloggers want to make changes in their day or they ask you to write something that’s outside your comfort zone. Keep good and thorough records. I made a mistake this week. I confused two bloggers with similar names and sent the wrong one my early blog post. No harm done—the one I sent it to loves it and will use it on her day of the tour. The other one didn’t actually need the post early. Somehow I got my wires crossed. It is important to include in your records, the name of the blogger, title of the blog site, link, and contact information. Also note the date of their stop-over and your planned contribution, whether it is a free copy of your book to review or an original post.

Miscellaneous Notes.

I would start planning a blog tour a month in advance—especially the first one. Start promoting the blog tour two weeks ahead. The day of each stop-over, talk about that post and the host blog in your own blog, on your facebook page, at twitter, etc. And suggest that the blogger host do the same.

Some authors typically offer free copies of his/her book to someone who comments at the site the day of your stop-over. Check with each individual blogging host about doing this. If you will offer a print book, you might specify that the winner must live within your home country. For me, it would be the US.

A blog tour can last a few days or a couple of weeks. I play safe and run mine for a week. Since I typically contact more than 7 bloggers, if 10 of them come back wanting a spot on my tour, I will run it for 10 days. It’s easier to be flexible after that first blog tour. I’d suggest keeping it simple at first—3 or 4 days, perhaps.

Let me know if you have any questions about launching or managing a blog book tour. Leave a message here or contact me here: PLFry620@yahoo.com

In the meantime, check out Mansion of Meows. This is number 9 in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. The book is getting great reviews. Even my mother said she couldn’t put it down. Naw, she doesn’t love everything I write. But she sure liked this one. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2


An Author’s Adventure in Promotion

February 18th, 2015

Yes, I’m in promotion mode again. Well, an author who wants to sell books should be in promotion mode all the time—handing out bookmarks, talking about your book, dropping copies off in hospital lobbies and doctor office waiting rooms, for example. But there are times when an author must shift his/her promotional efforts into high gear.

My latest Klepto Cat Mystery, Mansion of Meows is out! It debuted last week. So I am contacting my email list to make the big announcement. I’m getting in touch with those who have reviewed at least some of the other eight books in the series. I’m setting up a blog tour for a week in March. A blog tour is where you schedule visits to a different blog site each day where either the blogger writes a review of the book or the author is guest blogger. Sometimes you offer a free book to one of the visitors. That generally attracts more comments—folks who comment are automatically in the drawing.

During this sort of promotion blast, you might leave comments at appropriate blogs. I don’t use this opportunity to simply announce my new book. I find a topic I can legitimately comment on and maybe mention the book in passing or note it along with my name at the end of the comment.

I used to try locating some of those who leave positive reviews of my books at Amazon. But that turned out to be a go-nowhere proposition. Such a shame. There are sometimes negative remarks I’d like to follow up on. If there’s a problem for a reader, I want to see if I can fix it—but I can’t fix it if I can’t have dialog with that reader. These negative reviewers often just hit and run.

As for those leaving positive reviews, even though they might leave a name, it is usually impossible to locate them. What do they do—use a fictitious reviewer name? I know that some of them are legitimate reviewers with websites and blog sites. But locating them is a mostly impossible chore.

But, alas, Amazon, for the most part, has our back. If you—the author—are promoting your book and sales are substantial, the folks at Amazon will promote your book to those who have bought your other books. That’s the beauty of the series.

Authors use their social media sites to keep potential readers informed about their books.

Another way you can promote your new book is to blog about it. I have two blog sites. One is devoted to cats and cat books. http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades I’ve already posted an announcement there. Why not also bring it up here? Some of you might be interested in cozy mysteries and cats. So what is the premise of the Klepto Cat Mysteries?


The Klepto Cat Mysteries are light, fun cozy mysteries full of adventure, intrigue, and a little romance. They feature Rags, an ordinary cat who just can’t keep his paws off other people’s things. Often, the treasures he finds are clues in a mystery. Follow Rags’s fascinating life path from when he and Savannah were single and he roamed the neighborhood stealing everything from toys belonging to large dogs to jewelry and bathing suits. Rags and Savannah don’t stay single long. After meeting Michael, a handsome veterinarian, Savannah settles down, but the cat doesn’t change his thieving ways. Even though his kleptomaniac habit is annoying and embarrassing to his family, he has earned the respect of the local sheriff’s department and he was even asked to star in a documentary.

Mansion of Meows is number 9 in the series. This is probably the most eerie of the stories. The Iveys take Rags to the premiere of his documentary, which is held at a mansion in San Francisco. This mansion has a deep, dark secret; and leave it to Rags to discover it. What kind of guests accept your hospitality and, in exchange, reveal your dirtiest secret which sends the lord of the manor to jail? If you like adventure and drama, with a little fun and lightness along the way, you’ll enjoy Mansion of Meows. Available for your Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Mansion-Meows-Klepto-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00TJ9D7T4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424273448&sr=8-1&keywords=mansion+of+meows


Juggling Authors—Which Manuscript Should You Publish?

February 12th, 2015

Most new authors, when they decide to write a book for publication, are narrowly focused. They have a story rolling around in their heads that needs to be told, they want to teach a skill or concept, or they’re eager to share a philosophy or, perhaps, their poetry.

Occasionally, however, I meet an author who has several book ideas and can’t determine which one to pursue. If you want to publish something, but aren’t sure which of your projects to focus on, this might help.

  • Determine your ultimate goal as an author. Do you want to make some real money—produce a book for the masses—or are you more interested in making a statement, helping or entertaining a segment of people, or simply sharing (your life story, your short stories, or your perspective, for example)?
  • Thoroughly research the genre or topic of your proposed book project to make sure your goal is realistic.
  • Study the publishing industry as meticulously as you would any other business you were about to embark upon. (Here’s an excellent resource: “Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry” Allworth Press.)
  • Learn what is expected of you once the book is published. Exactly what it will take to promote your book to your specific audience. (Read Patricia Fry’s book, “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author” Allworth Press.)
  • Write a book proposal. This important document will guide you in determining whether your book idea is a good idea, who your audience is, where to find them and how to approach them. Many a book has became relatively successful only after the book proposal process clarified important issues for the author.
  • Open your mind. Once you’ve gathered important information, facts, and statistics, reevaluate each of your projects to determine which one will most likely help you to meet your goals.

Rush blindly into this complex industry with unrealistic expectations, and you could be among the nearly 90 percent of authors who fail. Enter into the hugely competitive business of publishing from an informed rather than emotional mindset and you will experience greater success.

Order Publish Your Book and Promote Your Book at most any online or downtown bookstore. At Amazon.com, they are offered in print, audio, or for your Kindle.

Offer Your Book For Free—Advantages and Disadvantages

February 9th, 2015

I just ran another free promotion for one of my Klepto Cat Mysteries through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. It was The Colony Cat Caper Kindle version. During the three day promotion, there were nearly 12,000 downloads. WOW! That’s almost 12,000 mostly new potential readers.

Now the theory is that a good percentage of those people will love the book and BUY some of the other 7 Klepto Cat Mysteries. Although some will just continue to troll for free ebooks.

My growing collection of reviews might increase once all those new readers enjoy The Colony Cat Caper. However, not all of those readers will LOVE the book. Many of those who download free ebooks seem to do so randomly, not paying attention to the type of book they’re getting. Then, when it isn’t their cup of tea, they write a negative review.

Some authors maintain that I just threw $20,000.00 in the toilet by giving away all those ebooks. But I also may have gained a percentage of new readers. If only 1/3 of them purchase even half of the other books in the series, that’s a profit of $30,000 to $40,000. And remember, the promotion didn’t cost me anything in time or money.

If you dream of publishing a novel, have it edited before making any publishing decisions. Then consider publishing through the Kindle Direct Publishing program and promote, promote, promote—using KDP promotional opportunities and every means of publicity you can manage.

It may seem more prestigious to imagine readers sitting in airports, lounging on exotic shores, etc. happily reading from the hard copy of your beautiful book. But if you want to sell more books to more readers, consider producing an ebook through KDP.

Learn more about my Klepto Cat Mysteries here: http://www.matilijapress.com/Klepto-Cat-Mysteries

Order copies here: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

Learn more about the Kindle Direct Publishing program here: http://kdp.amazon.com

Are You Destined to Fail as an Author?

February 3rd, 2015

“How can I possibly take time to promote a book?” “I have a life, you know.” “I wrote the book, isn’t that enough? Now it’s time for me to take my life back and collect royalties, right?” “Anyway, this book will sell itself!”

This is the mindset of many, many new authors. In fact, this is the reason why so many books fail in the marketplace. The figure used to be “nearly 78%.” Now, I understand the failure rate is closer to 98%. Shocking, but true.

Actually, this is not so shocking to those of us who work with authors. Why? Because we know that most authors today enter into the publishing business with a hobby mentality. Everyone knows someone with a book in the works or one or two published books. Every celebrity, business guru, retired teacher, housewife, immigrant, former victim, extreme sportsperson, and ditch digger has a book out. There have always been people with life-changing experiences, and now, they’re all writing their stories. Millions of men and women over the years have thought up stories for children or full-blown adult novels. But now those stories can easily become published books. There’s nothing lacking in the ability to get a book idea into print or on a digital reader. It’s as easy as slipping on a banana peel. What is lacking in most authors today is a business head.

Finding and paying a printer or a publisher is a piece of cake. It’s what comes after, that stops most unaware authors in their tracks. PROMOTION!

I maintain that promotion should start the moment you decide to write that book. The first thing you should think about is often the last thing you consider—your audience. Most authors write the book he or she wants—they write for themselves. Once the book is published, THEN they begin thinking about their audience. It doesn’t work that way, folks. You wouldn’t open any other type of business without first knowing something about the business, your potential customers and their needs/desires, your competition, your distributors and suppliers, as well as what it will take to reach your particular customers.

Well, news flash: Publishing is a business and those who succeed are those who step into it with a business mindset.

Those authors who often fail first are those who write something they hope will change minds—they are bent on forcing their opinions on readers. Another group whose failure rate is high are those who write their memoir, giving a lot of uninteresting facts and family history that readers can’t connect with or learn from.

To learn more about publishing and book promotion read my books, “Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author,” and “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.” http://www.matilijapress.com. Also available are a series of ebooks for $1.99 each. They include “50 Ways to Promote Your Book,” “50 Ways to Promote an Ebook,” “50 Reasons Why You SHOULD Write That Book…”

I’ve been writing for publication for over 40 years. I earned my living as a freelance writer for decades and I’m the author of 48 books. I established my own publishing company in 1983, before it was fashionable. While many of my books are self-published—through my publishing company, Matilija Press—I’ve also published with traditional publishers. I was President and then Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) for over ten years and I now work for and with other authors on their writing projects. I’ve also begun dabbling in fiction. Check out my Klepto Cat Mystery series—there are 8 published so far. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2


How to MUCH More Successfully Promote Your E-Book

February 2nd, 2015

Many of you know that I’m sold on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This is an Amazon program for Kindle books. While I was in the process of writing my first Klepto Cat Mystery novel, I heard from a friend whose husband had published his first novel through this program. This unknown author had sold 2,000 copies within the first few months (as I recall). I was intrigued. So I became a KDP author from the get-go and have NOT been disappointed.

I’ve steered other authors in this direction, however, and they are not experiencing the success that I am. Why? Even though Amazon does a lot to promote your book for you, it is still—always has been and always will be—up to the author to promote his/her book. Those unknown authors who do not understand the concept that no one will buy your book if they don’t know it exists, are walking away from this program disappointed.

Some don’t think of an ebook as a valid book that you can easily promote. So they choose to publish print books. And this may be good and well for nonfiction. But I can tell you that my novels as ebooks are selling hundreds of copies more per week than the print versions of the same novels—it’s something like 50 or 60 to one most weeks.

Now let’s talk about promoting your ebook using some of the more traditional methods—public appearances, for example. You can still engage in public speaking, have booths at book festivals, etc. Here are some pointers:

  • Create strong promotional material—a really nice brochure or bookmarks representing your ebook(s), maybe a professionally done mock-up of the ebook, and/or a book trailer showing on an electronic device for potential readers to view.
  • Have a QR (Quick Response) Code placed on your promo material. Potential customers can scan the code with an app on their cell phones and use that information to order your ebook (or print book).

There are hundreds of additional methods of promoting your ebook. In fact, I’ve written a booklet called, 50 Ways to Promote Your Ebook. It sells for $1.99 here: http://www.matilijapress.com/50WaysToPromoteEBook.html Order your copy of this useful book today.

Whether you are the author of ebooks and need help with promotion or you are contemplating publishing one, this ebook is for you.

What is a Story?

January 30th, 2015

I believe that in order to write intimately about cats (horses, children, gardening, etc.), you must have quite a bit of experience with the subject. Sure, you can (and should) research aspects of your story that you’re not familiar with, but the main theme, characters, and premise must be something close to your heart and hearth. A story, after all, is typically created from imagination based on life experiences and observations.

How do authors choose their themes? Some write about something close to their hearts—a topic they are familiar with. Others write on topics and in genres that interest them—that they want to know more about, perhaps. This might include police work, crime and the criminal mind, mysteries, relationships, war, a certain place or time period in history. While one author enjoys pushing her creative mind to the limit by writing fantasies, others prefer using their minds to develop fascinating life challenges for their characters.

As you may know, once I’d paid my dues writing nonfiction—articles and books to teach, inform, share, and enlighten, I decided to follow my dream to entertain readers through my writing. I enjoy reading and watching mysteries. I also love cats. When I launched out to try writing fiction, I put the two together and created the Klepto Cat Mystery series.

Light (or cozy) mysteries with cats is certainly not a new concept. But a series written from my perspective, using my particular creative flow, and featuring a kleptomaniac cat is new. Thus, my stories have fallen into a popular niche and have been quite well-received.

I’m tickled that I’ve found a way to enjoy my senior years by bringing so many hours of reading enjoyment to so many. So far, I’ve created approximately 26 hours of pure reading pleasure for those who like cats, love losing themselves in an interesting mystery, and relish getting to know some fascinating people, all without a great deal of terror and strife.

If you aren’t familiar with the Klepto Cat Mystery series, pick up the first book in the series, Catnapped and get to know Rags and his supporting human and animal characters. The 8th book in the series, The Gallery Cat Caper, came out in December. If you start reading through the series now, you should be ready for Mansion of Meows—the best one yet—when it launches sometime in February. http://www.matilijapress.com/Klepto-Cat-Mysteries Or visit the Klepto Cat Mystery pages at Amazon http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2