2nd book in the month of romance….

As I sit here listening to one of my fav sets from ABGT 200, I’m making sure all of you who have been eagerly awaiting the freebie eBook of Destined for You, the 2nd book in the Danielle Grant series. Get it now, as it’s up for the next five days as a download.

Happy reading (and dancing and trancing)….and a Happy Valentine’s tomorrow. For inquiring minds, who think I am married to a man who does outrageous things (like Will Smith famously sending 5,000 roses..), nay. Rog and I have always boycotted V-day out of principle (as in, what about all the other days where we do nice things? Don’t those count)?

So, we go out the day after because the places are empty, and we are, in fact, hungry. Call us kooky, but better deals are always to be had the “day-after” anything, never, ever, the day before.

24 hrs left for Book 1

Just a reminder for the last free ebook #1 in the month of romance….

Made for Me, book one in the Danielle Grant series…ends 2/10

Free download…then the next one up is the sequel, Destined for You. All books available in print at Amazon and B & N a’course  if you must have the hard copy.

Factiod: Writing the final book in the series, although I will say more than one reader wants another. Not in the plans, but you never know. What I’m really thinking about is  sequel to A Convenient Date, since so many readers have asked for another one (or more) books to follow. We shall see.

Month of romance/ free books & videos

Cover art inspired as I was sitting by the water on Lake Zurich. The Alps in the background, crazy exotic cars everywhere. it was great inspiration.

In February, the month of all things heart-shaped. Because everyone I know can use more love in their life, (I mean, how often do you hear someone say “I’m full-up on love. Don’t need anymore?) I’m going all in with a four-week give-away of my four women’s fiction books, aka, contemporary romance.

What does that mean?

  • A free book a week, no download limit (as in, you can download on any device)
  • You can share the link with your friends (same as above)
  • You can read and review….and review (did I mention review?)

Lichtenstein Castle that plays a role in the book with Danielle’s man of romance (the first one:)

I’m starting off with a fan favorite, Made for Me. Why? It’s exotic (set in Switzerland), it’s fast-paced and it’s a sequel. So the next book will be Destined for You.

Tap on the title or this link and you are on your way. The full description is below.

Oh! If that isn’t enough, you can read along with me. I’ve started a Made for Me playlist on my YouTube channel. subscribe and you will get notified of new chapters as they are posted.

Another view of the castle. What’s interesting is that the family still lives on the property and we saw the young Prince and his gang smoke cigs and lounging by their small BMWs watching us. It was surreal, funny, sad and a bit weird all at once. Not quite as romantic as I imagined, but I moved on.

So grab your best drink, sit back, read, watch or listen, and enjoy February with me!

Free book promo: A Convenient Date

If you are looking for a free ecopy of A Convenient Date, the search is over. For a limited time, I’m offering a free ebook copy to those who sign up for my newsletter. (this promo lasted 5 weeks….check back again in the future for other promos)

Book jacket info….

Two years after the unexpected death of her husband, Kaitlyn Reid’s life is improving. Her relentless devotion to helping the less fortunate provides a welcome distraction from the emptiness and sorrow.

Just as life begins to feel stable, her world is turned upside down. She receives an unexpected email from her attorney informing her that she is being sued by a woman claiming to be the mother of her deceased husband’s son. A son she knew nothing about…

Reeling from the news, Kaitlyn happens to meet Rick Santos. Rick is a recently divorced financier that has relocated from the San Francisco Bay area. Unaware of her personal turmoil, Rick proposes they become each other’s ‘convenient date.’

Vulnerable, but with nothing to lose, she accepts.

Will she trust her heart to Rick? Will she allow him to serve as her ballast during her times of crisis? Or will she run, fearing a future resembling the dark torment of her past?

A Convenient Date is about discovering real love and the realization that doing the right thing isn’t discretionary or convenient. It may ruin Kaitlyn, but truth and honesty is the only path that will give her the freedom she needs to live again.

Strong, smart, sexy. Is there a convenient date waiting for you?

Important dates for self-published authors or independent publishers

I love Draft2Digital. Seriously. They make my life as an author and owner of an imprint so easy. For readers who don’t know, I have books published under mainstream house (McGraw-Hill) and my own imprint (faster sales, higher royalty). It also means that while I “go direct” for some channels (think B&N and Amazon) for the highest royalty), I also use draft2digital as an aggregator for all the other distribution companies, such as itunes, Tolino, Kobo and the like.

Why do you care? Because I received this email from D2D that gave me the highlights of all the deadline/closure dates for the majors. I had no idea. If you aren’t on the mailing list, you may not have or know this info either. It’s worth checking out.

If you are publishing new books or making changes
during this holiday season, there could be delays.
For best results, submit your requests no later than December 11th to make sure they’ll be live by Christmas.

Hi Sarah,

We just wanted to give you a quick reminder about how the Christmas holiday will impact scheduled publishing with our various vendors, as well as our office hours for the holiday.

Christmas falls on Monday this year, so our offices will be closed both Monday, December 25, and Tuesday, December 26. Normal office hours will resume on Wednesday, December 27.

Our offices will also be closed on Monday, January 1 in observance of the New Year.

We expect that the flurry of pre-Christmas releases and the special holiday hours at our partner stores will result in some delays. If possible, plan ahead and submit any changes or listing requests by December 11th to ensure the changes get published before the break.
We have received additional details directly from several of our partners:

APPLE
Apple’s publishing systems will be experiencing additional delays from mid-December through early January. To help you in planning release dates around this period you may use the following schedule:

  • Release dates from December 17 to 31 have a delivery deadline of Monday, December 11.
  • Release dates from January 1 to 8 have a delivery deadline of Friday, December 15.

All submissions must be submitted prior to midnight (PST) on the dates above.


BARNES & NOBLE
Book submissions and metadata changes supplied to Barnes & Noble from Draft2Digital are processed the next business day.

B&N will be closed December 24 (1pm EST) & 25, and December 31 (1pm EST) through January 1.

No files will process during those windows, and there will be no direct support. Also during this time you may experience review slowdowns, and slowdowns following those dates as B&N deals with backlog.


KOBO
Kobo will have only limited support from December 18th thru January 8th. They ask that you only upload important and non-deferrable imports during that time. Kobo’s publishing system will be down entirely from December 22nd through December 27th, and from December 29th until January 2nd. During this time we will not be able to submit any new books or changes. We recommend getting everything to them by December 11th.


SCRIBD
Scribd have announced limited support over the break (which greatly restricts how much our Customer Support can assist you with problems at their stores). Scribd support will be closed from December 25th through January 1st.


AMAZON
We anticipate that Amazon will be closed on December 25 and January 1. To ensure against potential delays in file review and other processing, we recommend submitting your books prior to December 11th.Due to the volume of submissions during the holiday season, we expect other vendors will take longer than usual to implement changes and to publish new works. However, there are no confirmed or planned publishing delays.


Preorders scheduled during these periods will go live as expected, provided we get the final manuscripts in and approved before the cutoff date of December 11th. We highly recommend getting us the final earlier that week to make sure it gets through review.

Happy Holidays,
The Draft2Digital Team

Draft2Digital, 5629 SE 67th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73135, United States

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign

The glories of a video post

Nausea. Sweaty tension. That’s what the notion of creating 60 seconds worth of video for an on-line post does to me. Talking to 1,500 people? No problem. A room full of hardened executives? I got that. Me, in a car/train/dining room with a little video recorder? Heart-palpitating anxiety-ridden nearly comatose individual.

This isn’t a forum to work out my personal insecurities, tho it might do me some good. Let’s just skip right to the solution, because I tend to be a solutions-oriented gal. Within a week, I had three people in different corners of my life say the same thing.

  1. I need to “connect with people,” and the on-line, static means (FB, Instagram pics, this website) doesn’t do it and never will
  2. I need to show people my personality, voice and idiosyncrasies (e.g. realize that I’m human, see point #1)
  3. I need to share more wisdom and insight than I’ve been doing, not just a travelogue that ties back to my books

None offered up suggestions as to how I was going to overcome my irrational fears that followers would drop off like flies, further compounding my insecurities. I’m no Kardashian with legions of stylists around me. I’m essentially a working mom who is fortunate enough to continue providing business acumen to companies and writing while the kids are in school.

Still, I’ve spent my adult life telling others to hire the best counsel and then listen. So while these three weren’t hired (expensive friends aren’t in my budget) I had no choice but to follow their advice.

Here’s what happened. I asked for thoughts on topic, format and approach. I made an objective (on Monday I will start). I washed my hair (or did I? I don’t recall now), but what I did do was show my husband the first video. He vomited on it.

“You’re boring. Not smiling. Where’s the “real you?” he wanted to know. Hiding. That’s where. You see, I feel safe behind the non-smiling business face. It’s serious, which is what a business person is–unless with peers behind closed doors.

“Lose the business person. Be yourself. The one you are behind closed doors.”

Round two. I start laughing in the middle, because I can’t believe I’m doing it at all.

“Much better. Post it before you overthink about it.”

Now, what’s crazy is this: the video received over 150 views in less than 15 minutes. Do you know how long it takes any of my posts to receive that many likes? A few days. (No Selena Gomez am I).

Fast forward @2 weeks. My average video receives this many views in about this time. They are limited to 1 minute, and I think to myself that it’s easier to spend a minute watching than it is to read for 10 seconds.

Another thing. I’m always in my car. Why? It’s my quiet time. No conference calls scheduled, no dedicated writing time. No children, dogs, chickens…you get the idea. I may kill a moose while I drive in the snow, but hey, it will be recorded for posterity.

Lastly, the ties to my book sales in immediate and impactful. This follows on my last blog posting. After 5 video posts, I can legitimately say my book sales have gone up 40% over all, and compared to a static post, the numbers are 7x greater.

Does topic matter?

Not that I can tell. I’d like to say I have a marketing Jedi behind me, coaching me on what to say, but it’s not true (and I have this small thing about honesty. It’s important). I do keep a running list on my iPhone about key mantras, subjects and attitudes I have regarding success and life. Some of those things are in my business books–past and future–the short antedotes I can squish into 60 seconds, which isn’t easy.

I will say this: “active” videos aren’t as interesting to people. My skiing clip for example. Rog was convinced this would be cool–not so much. Viewers–at least those that follow me–seem to prefer words.

Connecting is cool.

With the objective of ‘connecting,’ out there, I wasn’t convinced it was going to happen. After this short amount of time, I can attest it’s occurring. The number of comments, along with the depth and level of emotion is incomparable to a static pic. It’s fulfilling, enjoyable and rewarding on a very personal level. To others who read the comments made–I suspect it’s also enlightening. The adage is proving true…when you share details, others will reciprocate. That’s a two-way connection that can’t be faked.

So am I still nervous? Yes. Do I take more than one video for each posting? Yes. On average 6. I talk a lot and always go over. Do I use a filter? Sometimes. Since I consider my posts more guerilla style than poised and professional, it works for me. I like the down and dirty, real life postings. Plus, I don’t have the time in my life to pretend like it’s my source of income–it’s free, to me and the viewer, which is probably the best part.

Instagram, Facebook & the conundrum of social media

The wide world of all things electronic is distracting, wonderful, irritating, fun, stressful and pays dividends. I guess that means it’s like most things in my life, family and hobbies included. My experience over the last ten years with the various incantations of apps has been largely disappointing, because I want results. In other words, if I want to talk to you (and you me) the phone is the best way to go. Deals don’t happen by text. Negotiations are done real-time, email employed when confirming what’s been agreed upon is necessary.

My data points are similar to other individuals who are continually trying to figure it out when to use what, and why:

Facebook:

Personally, I have an account, but probably wouldn’t unless it weren’t required for my business account. Again, I like talking more than sharing. Opinions, with the associated volatility of emotions seriously stressed me out. I can’t write fiction when I’m in that state of mind, and I certainly don’t have time to be surfing when I’m doing business.

Business…I do have an author account, but it’s largely ignored. That said, I found it was FB was very beneficial in doing one thing: driving traffic to my blog. What I did:

  1. wrote the blog
  2. linked the header and wrote a short note in the FB posting, along with an image
  3. the viewership/hit rates and time spent on my website skyrockets when I do that…and so I started employing this strategy around book launches, events, competitions, give-away’s and other business-related activities.

The only downside is when I fell off writing my blog (because I was actually writing or working on the business side) then the traffic to my FB page dropped dramatically.

Net: FB (for authors/businesses) can be very helpful if employed the right way.

Instagram

Let me count the ways I used to love this app before it was purchased by FB. The primary reason I loved it (I’ll list the reason’s I still like it in a moment).

  1. I could control the timing of my content. what I posted was done at that moment
  2. the culture of IG is nicer, more interested in the images than opinions
  3. the focus is global, vs FB which tends by its nature to be more demographically US

Unfortunately, FB has ruined a few features…now they are offering up random postings at random times (which is beyond annoying). As a biz person and author, the last thing I want to do is annoy my followers with too many posts. Well, thanks FB. Now they annoy my followers for me…their algorithms just offer up whatever, whenever. It’s horrid.

That said, until something better comes along, I’ll keep using it. Here’s why.

  1. my book sales have a direct connection to certain posts. Seriously. It’s been about 2 yrs, and I post, on average, once a day, but at times, I’ve gone for 2 weeks without a post. In that time, I have been able to determine what images/text a) increase traffic to my site, b) increase ebook reading, c) invigorate print book purchases and more
  2. my holistic approach to how I market “my business,” which is multi-faceted, is completed by my website, Instagram and facebook
  3. Instagram seems to reach a completely different audience than FB. I could go into detail on this (and may do at another time) but suffice it to say that whereas I can track direct postings and sales from IG, I have no clue on FB. Even when I advertised on FB, I saw very little (as in, negligible) sales connections.
  4. Video on Instagram essentially increased my followers (and hence, book sales, event attendance) 30%. Seriously. I just recently started doing videos (I was scared. yes. I get scared), and it’s been dramatic.
  5. The ability to connect with people on an individual basis is really great. It’s nearly impossible to do with other apps of a similar nature, and I truly love seeing and hearing from ppl of all walks of life, all cultures and countries–and we are bound by common interests from inception.

Twitter…sigh. I abhor what I see on Twitter, and for that reason, only joined it about 2 weeks ago. I posted a bunch in a few days, realized it just wasn’t for me, and stopped. I’m not a politico, comedian, or other major personality that has the acumen or desire to engage in that world. Further, the demographic of the people on twitter doesn’t seem to connect with the folks I’m trying to reach.

If I had to make one observation about Twitter is that the people who responded to my (few) tweets were mostly international, which wasn’t surprising. My captions were of places I visited and used in my recent novels.

So this is a snapshot of what I’ve experienced. I’ll continue to explore and track other apps as the come about, but for now, I’m still a big fan of Instagram.

 

 

The billionaire’s secret weapon

Once, when I was giving a writers presentation to a group of high school students, I was asked by a teacher what process I follow for writing my books. “Is there one thing, or set of things you do prior to starting to write?”

“Yes, there is,” I responded. “I pray.” That was it, pure and simple. I didn’t even elaborate on what I pray for (which, btw, is clarity, the ability to write what’s in my head etc. and have it be congruent with my ideals and thoughts etc). You should have seen the look on this woman’s face. You would have thought I was advocating a new drug inhalation process for the illegal, not legal type. The irony of it all, was this was a parochial school, the place I where I actually felt safe giving this answer.

Over the years, the irony of the prayer-before-the-big-event thing has intrigued me. I’ve grown up with images of Madonna and her backup-dancers holding hands in a group prayer before a concert. Big football players kneel or bow their heads prior to kick-off, asking for health, strong hands and probably a win. Why then, I ask, is the big deal with saying a prayer (albeit silently) before a big meeting or when starting a sculpture or writing a book?

quote

slightly obvious. I actually prefer Roger’s quote, which he used for years with consultants (who wouldn’t shut up). “You can’t learn anything while you are talking.” I would have used that but I didn’t have the time to create a pretty picture with quotes.

I have long prayed when considering what clients to take on and which ones to pass.  I’ve said prayers before presentations in front of groups large and small, interviews with the press, before I’ve gone on television shows, prior to pitching the venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. In fact, pretty much any event of significance I’ve invoked my right to call above to the Almighty (or as Roger says: “whatever is out there in the Universe that’s listening”).

Ironically, I’ve been much more lax about praying on the personal front, but that too, is another story. It seems that when it comes to career, my red-phone bat line has been in constant use. It turns out, I’m not alone in this. Over the last two years, I’ve been interviewing 3 dozen hundred millionaires and billionaires that haven’t spoken to the press about their rise from poverty (nearly all) to a financially secure point in life. One of the common threads is faith (in self or God). Another thread is prayer. Even the few who claim atheism state they still say a prayer (to the universal energy that exists).

This call-to-arms as I’ve come to think of it, is a plea for all the thoughts, energy and desire built within to come to the forefront when it’s needed in exactly the right way, be it for that winning touchdown or the closing of the million dollar home sale.

Prayer circles aren’t as weird as they sound

Going back to the football scenario, where a bunch of men are on the field, eyes closed and heads bent—it’s a normal scene is it not? They are in a circle…a literal prayer circle. If this came up in casual conversation, can you even imagine the derision the topic would instill, not to mention the analogies to other sects, cults and who-knows-what off-shoots of beheading chickens and dancing around a bonfire.

Yet for athletes and Madonna, it’s done and accepted, business as usual. (I would, just once, love to have seen Ballmer hold out his hand at the executive round table, bow his head and say whatever prayer that man would have said –although I imagine it would have involved a strong desire for the stock price to go above 100 for a picosecond. Just once).

Going back to me and the writing process, or business for that matter, yes, I pray, but it is not done lightly or by rote. I won’t pray if I don’t feel worthy of an answer. Ergo, if I have a lesson to teach and I’ve not adequately prepared, I feel it’s morally wrong to ask some higher power to bail me out. Conversely, if I’ve done my part, studied, prepared my outline, readied the lesson and I still feel uncomfortable, then I know this means I’m missing something. A piece of the puzzle isn’t quite right in the grooves. It is then that I pray fervently to understand what direction I must go, what I must change and how I must communicate the message—assuming that my message is right in the first place. I can’t tell you how many times this very thing has happened, and when I’m on stage, I’ve had words, phrases or examples come to mind that I’d previously not thought of or considered, and it made all the difference in the world.

One billionaire, a seventy-ish man now retired and living in Colorado, used to be the president of one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the country. In his “retirement,” he still owns three different entities in different industries. When I asked him how he makes many of his decisions, he was unapologetic when he said he prays.

“Yes, I listen to my advisors and I read the numbers, but most of the time, hiring people and making big business decisions doesn’t rely on numbers or resumes,” he said. “Those can be manipulated and represented in ways that won’t tell you what will truly happen six months, a year or five years out.” For that, he relies on a higher power.

And this blog? Do I pray before writing a blog? No, not usually, and honestly, my level of seriousness regarding my blog writing (and Instagram and Facebook accounts) ebb and flow with my mood. Sometimes I simply like a picture that’s interesting, fun or humorous. I’ve noticed that when it comes to thoughts of making a person’s day brighter, uplifting myself (or others) in some way, then yes, I actually do say a prayer to understand what I should write or post. The reward is often immediate and strong, producing positive feedback or responses.

Even those who don’t believe in a universal God or super being, the notion of universal “Karma” is alive and well. In other words, what comes around goes around, so it’s better to be on the safe side than send out evil vibes. If this holds true, then one could argue that prayers can only help, and never hurt, so “What’s there to lose?” (As my husband often asks). “It’s not hurting anyone and can only help.”

Keep that in mind the next time you could use a little clarity, support, wisdom or overall confidence. It’s free, there’s nothing to lose, and it can only help. Those are three mantras I can live by.

Titles versus results – IOW- How to improve hits & sales

I’m always wanting to give my posts exaggerated, catchy titles, but author 101 dictates otherwise. The reason? Google and searching questions. “Spooktastic Treats” don’t get as many hits as “Wasy and impressive Halloween treats.”

This is not War and Peace, I know. But if you are writing a blog for the purpose of getting advertising revenue, or a book to receive a royalty check, it all starts with hits, then clicks, then views, then a purchase. But even general markets pushing a product–be it a software application, game or new brand of earphone, want to get to their target consumer.

For marketing junkie such as myself (that means 20 yrs of learning how to get people to buy), I struggle with my own desire to use a fun, catchy title, versus the reality that when in a rush, a person looking for the answer to a specific question will most likely type in that question, not the cool, marketing version of the exact same question.

Tip for bloggers:
1. Have a catchy title, but then the real-world sub-title that people will search
2. Make sure you embed high-impact (e.g. often searched) categories, products or phrases that will give you a higher hit count
3. embed the google AdSense or other advertising revenue generating form into your system. I personally stopped using that when I moved to WordPress because a) I found I was spending too much time on linking rather than writing and b) I don’t use a blog as revenue-generating mechanism. it’s my own personal therapy tool (for my personal side) and information dissemination center (for general business and writing topics).

Tips for authors/or business owners who are pushing a product:
1. same as above BUT try and categorize by topics and put the primary topic somewhere in the title, and multiple times in the body
2. link to and from other topics on the add value, not just sell the product. so irritating when its all about you and not the information at hand

time your promotions to fit your target demographic

time your promotions to fit your target demographic

For both, the final tip is Review and Assess. See what’s working and what’s not. Most apps have statistical data that shows what pages are being viewed and the time spent on each. Jupiter Communications puts out great info (that’s free) on the best pages, and times for posting. Specifically:

  • Posts get looked at the most on Wednesday at 12 pm PST (3 pm EST) and Friday at the same times–for the business crowd. why? Because east-coasters (in the US) are lolly-gagging around, killing time after 3, and west-coasters tend to stay put at their desks for lunch. Thus, if you are launching something that appeals to this category (workers at desks) post during this timeframe. I have technology clients- software companies, but also card-making companies that launch promotions during this time to great results.
  • Posts for the general consumer (either not working or off hours) are Sunday nights after 7 pm. why? The football games are over, the movies and soccer games done. People are finished with dinner, relaxing and not always by the television. The laptops are on the actual laps, in front of the tv!

 

Writing to get published – the sure fire way to fail. Write for self & self only

Every so often, a brave soul asks me a bonified, legitimate question about writing, publisher, or some business aspect that relates to my former (mostly) life of deal marketing and partnerships. Perhaps a half-dozen come across my desk every year, which I attribute to fear or skepticism I’ll actually offer a reply. This was one of them.

This last month, I was asked the following question.

Q: (asked via Instagram): how do you write? For yourself, or for the publisher, or for the reader?

This required a longer response than I was willing to put in Instagram, so I asked for, and received, an email. Turns out the writer is a man from France, an EVP for a telecommunications company who is writing a fiction novel in his spare time. I was just speaking about this topic with another prospective author (e.g. unpublished, not- agent represented), so I thought the universe was giving me a hint to respond. Here is my answer, verbatim.

admiral-ackbar-ole-miss-bigger

Be authentic. People like authentic, no matter how strange it is.

A: Ok, so I was just answering your latest question for another new-author. To write for the reader or write for self. The answer, unequivocally, is write for self. Early on, I knew I had an audience to write for—but that was non-fiction, business/trade, and all about making money and success. In that world, it was/is easier to write for the audience—because the readers had a mutual, self-identified/selected topic—success in business. In that respect, yes, I did consider the reader—but that was based on common denominators (age group, entrepreneurs etc).

Fiction is entirely different. For fiction, the audience is so broad and varied—my action adventure is read by 18-35 yr old males, but then a ton of girls/women internationally—it’s a complete grab bag. When writing the first version, I had to scrap my first two (fully complete) versions and write what interested me. It was that book that was accepted and is being turned into a movie franchise series.

That said, I suffered the same issue when I started writing in another genre—and found once again, that writing for self (me) was the only way to go. In fact, I struggled with this particular genre (general interest fiction) for years, because I was always writing for some demographic I had in my head. Turns out, my agent said the books were always sub-par and he declined to submit them to publishers. Three years ago, that changed when I went through some personal issues (death/destruction) and emerged just wanting beach reading. I churned that novel out in 3 months, my agent said it was the best thing I’d ever written.

The moral to the story is this: write a book you yourself want to read. If a paragraph or chapter drags and is boring for you, then it’s going to be boring to someone else. Ultimately, your favorite book to read should be the one that you, yourself, have written. That’s the ultimate test.

Note: all the comments on my blog are automatically deleted. I get spammed to the tune of 20K per day, which is awful. If you want my attention, hit me up on Instagram or facebook, and at least you have a chance. my Instagram  is Sarah_j_Gerdes and facebook is Sarah Gerdes author

 

 

 

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