Less time online means more writing time.

Less time spent online should mean more time spent writing. Here’s how I’m trying to make that happen.

#bookmarketing #Iamwriting #writingcommunity #bookseries #indieauthor ##writing #timemanagement #socialmedia #indieauthor #authorslife #selfpublishing

After a great deal of pestering by my husband, I finally sat down and watched Netflix’s The Social Dilemma which is all about the emerging evils of an ever-increasing digital age where the algorithms are ultimately in charge of what we’re shown. The documentary asserts that the end goal of all social media is to simply make money. The way they do that is by keeping you engaged (time and clicks), regardless of the healthfulness or truthfulness of the content being served up. Of course, this led to the discussion of the ever-increasing polarization of our society, online addiction, unhealthy body expectations, and the decreasing ability and willingness of today’s youth to interact face to face.

The level of manipulation discussed in the documentary was not news to me. I am fully aware of the fickle rules of Facebook and other platforms. I am old enough not to have grown up with social media recording my every mistake. Thank goodness! Though I enjoy seeing 👍 and 💖 in response to my posts, I don’t judge my self-worth by the lack of them. I’ve reached a point in my life where the opinions of others mean very little to me.

With that said, as an indie author, I don’t have the luxury of deleting my social media footprint. To know me is to google me. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are the bedstones in my branding and marketing efforts. Online is about the only way I can reach potential readers. I am forever juggling posts between seven different platforms. And it is time-consuming. Much of those hours would be better spent writing my next book. That is a point I am willing to admit.

So what is someone like me, who needs Google’s search engine to work for me and not against me to do? How can I work smarter not harder?

The Plan:

Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken a few steps that I hope will streamline my online workflow. The aim is to simplify my posting efforts while cutting the overall time I spend promoting myself and my books online. Again, the ultimate goal is to clear room for more writing time.

To reach this level of efficiency, I am limiting myself to fully working three platforms. Two of which are purely disseminating marketing sites/apps.

The first and obvious place to start is my website’s blog. I need to kick it into high gear. This the only space where I can fully express myself without limits on length or substance. I used WordPress to create my author site and some time ago I made the decision that when I post a new blog entry, it would also be shared with my Twitter feed, my Facebook Author Page, my Linkedin profile, and with Goodreads. (Goodreads profile page screenshot below)

The second platform I’m using to its fullest potential is AllAuthor. I recently did a blog post explaining their many marketing benefits. To read more about what they offer, click here. The reason I included AllAuthor in my simplification plan was that they give me the ability to create a long list of tweets using their tweet scheduler. Once the list is made, I don’t have to think about whether or not I have posted something to Twitter that day. It’s all automatic. Three book-related tweets a day until each tweet I created has been used five times. I can edit those tweets at any point to suit my promotional purposes. But for the most part, AllAuthor works for me in the background while I spend my creative time elsewhere.

The third platform I’m trying out is called Later. This is strictly a media post scheduler. There are others out there like Buffer, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and SocialOomph to name a few, but Later fit my requirements of being free and easy to use. Hopefully, it will eliminate the need for me to log in to each platform on a daily basis just to keep my name and book titles floating around the internet.

Unlike AllAuthor and TweetDeck which only posts to Twitter, Later allows me to simultaneously post to my Instagram, my Author Facebook page, Twitter, and Pinterest. For a price, I could add more social media links but to suit my purpose I need to remain with their free option.

After a bit of Google research and downloading the Later App to my phone, it took me the better part of a day to figure out how to link my current accounts to Later, explore this platform’s capabilities, and schedule a week’s worth of posts. Now that I understand how Later works, I estimate I can limit myself to a single day of dedicated online marketing time which includes replying to comments, liking other people’s posts, and writing/scheduling future blog posts. That’s a definite win for me! With any luck, I will spend my newly discovered free time finishing up the two books I am currently ignoring.

And Finally…

The extra step I took to simplify my online life and satisfy my overall anger with Facebook’s ever-changing, human-oversite removed community policies in regards to product promotional posts, I deleted all of my past posts from my personal Facebook page using a Chrome extension called Social Book Post Manager. This extension allowed me to delete my past posts in bulk. And it didn’t take very long to do it. I would have deleted the personal profile altogether but Facebook won’t let me keep a professional PAGE without a personal profile page to anchor it. So, I left a single post on my personal profile page that reads:

To all my 249 Facebook friends… I’m going to stop posting on this personal page. I’m irritated with Facebook and probably will remain so for quite some time. If you want to follow me on this platform, please jump over to my author page https://www.facebook.com/LegendsofthePale I promise to post on occasion. Mainly blog posts from my website, book updates, and indie-author life struggles. Thanks for all your support. 💖

As for all the many Facebook author groups and reader groups I have posted to over the years, I have received very little interaction with members of those groups. To make matters worse, the money I have spent with Facebook advertising has never translated into sales. Facebook, in terms of book promotion, has been an enormous black hole for me. It’s time to redirect my efforts away from Facebook as a whole. It is a toxic relationship that I don’t need but it’s one that I also don’t have a good replacement for… yet. So, I will keep the list of Facebook groups I have gathered and shared on this site’s Author Resource Page but I will add a caveat to how ineffective I now believe them to be.

As always, when I find a better way of doing something, I will share it here for other authors to try…because sharing information helps us all.

Thanks for stopping by the Chalkboard today,

-Tarrant

Giveaways and Freebies

For the explanation as to why giving your book away for a limited time is a good idea, go to the bottom of this post.

I’m always looking for ways to get my books in the hands of readers without it costing me money. This week I’ve delved into Thirsty Author to see what they offered.

For no cost to me, I can sell my books on their site. And… I can offer my books for Free for a limited time (the dates of which, I specify.) I’m still learning the finer points of how their readers find my books, but in the meantime, I am using a link to sends new readers to a page that lists my books. (Below is a partial screenshot of that page.) Here’s the actual link:

https://thirstyauthor.com/xx.htm?key=Tarrant%20Smith

Basic Questions answered:

  • Do you have to create an account with Thirsty Author: YES
  • Does it cost anything to create an account: NO
  • To sell your book(s) you will have to upload a book file(s) which is no different than selling your books with Smashwords, Draft2Digital, or Amazon. They take PDF (preferable), mobi, epub, or mp3.
  • Is the process easy: YES
  • Is there a limit to the number of books: NO
  • Do you retain the rights to your work: YES
  • Is there a cost for additional promotion within their platform: YES (I’m still discovering how the buying and using tokens works)
  • Do they help you create a reader mailing list: YES

As you can see, some of my books are currently downloadable for free in exchange for an email address. Scrolling further down the list shows the books that can be purchased. Thirsty Author uses a PayPal email to transfer royalties to their authors once those royalties have reached a min $20.00 limit. (Same as Draft2Digital and I assume Smashwords.)

The book-listing process itself isn’t very hard. The worst software issue I encountered was when I copied and pasted the book’s blurb from its Amazon sales page directly into Thirsty Author‘s form. I found that not all the commas and apostrophes transferred. So, I had to proofread the book’s description several times to make sure I caught all the new errors in what should have been an error-free blurb.

When a potential reader clicks on a book that is currently Free, this is what they will see. (Below) If you have an email collection program like MailChimp, the reader’s email is added to your list. If not, you have the option of collecting the emails yourself. For more information, click here.

If the book is not in a giveaway promotion and is currently for sale, this is what readers will see. Every listing gives readers a link to the book on Amazon or the Author’s website.

Of course, I won’t know how effective Thirsty Author is until a few months have passed. But for now, it’s just another tool in this indie author’s toolbox.

Fellow authors, let me know if they’ve worked for you. In the meantime, keep writing and reading out there.

I’ll do the same. 💋

-Tarrant

Now for that promised explanation about Freebies.

Look, I get it. Giving your book away feels like you’re giving away a year’s worth of work for absolutely nothing. It feels as if you’re devaluing your efforts…the blood, sweat, and tears. But authors need readers. Yes, we write because we must, but a storyteller needs a listener. Without readers, we really are just wasting our time.

So I run promotional Freebies and Giveaways for my books. I’ve learned that this is a necessary marketing tool in order to reach readers. Face it, the bestselling authors aren’t always the most talented writers. The bestselling authors are the writers who have the most readers. They’re the ones the general public has heard about.

I can be the most talented writer and not have readers. Personally, I know fantastic writers who have few if any sales to report.

As an indie author, I don’t have a huge publishing house to promote me. I just have me. Once voice. So yes, I have to give away more copies of my books than I’d like. But eventually, I will find a dedicated pool of readers who enjoy my books and will begin to search for my titles. And truly, that’s all I want.

It is for this goal alone that I embrace book giveaways. Luckily, I have an entire first series I can offer up as kind of an enticement. It’s not that these books are less than. As a matter of fact, the last three books in the Darkly Series happen to be some of my very favorite books. They’ve earned awards. I can confidently showcase them as a sample of my style of storytelling.

What I never do is pay to give my books away. Back in the day, places like Goodreads.com would allow authors to give books away for free. Nowadays, it cost over a hundred dollars to do a giveaway. Are you kidding me? Nope. Not doing that.

Here lines the end of my explanation. And good luck to all the authors out there trying to be seen. 💖

New Covers Coming for the Darkly Series!

It’s been over ten years since Enchanted Darkly was published in 2010. Looking back, I was overly conservative in regards to the original cover designs. At that time, the last thing I wanted for the series were paperback covers that screamed romance novels! To prove that the series was more than the multiple sex scenes found inside each novel, I opted for more obtuse covers…designs that depicted Celtic totem animals instead of the bare-chested men and damsels swooning I assumed all romance novels required. But the result of that presumptuous decision likely cost me sales. It probably also confused readers. Those covers, though pretty, fell woefully short of visually expressing what the books were about.

Of course, I now understand that there’s lots of creative wiggle-room between what I settled on back then and the tropes I was so afraid of depicting.

Fast forward to 2021… It’s high time to dust off those five books and breathe new life into a series I love.

Part of the perks of being an indie author is that I retain all creative control over my books. I can change the covers, the interior format, re-edit, re-issue editions, or add entirely new books to a series and there is no one to stop me. The bad news…there is no one to stop me.

Let me be clear, The Darkly Series is a contemporary, fantasy romance series that is full of immortal fey, realm-hopping, squabbling goddesses, Celtic mythology, steamy sex scenes, fey politics, quests with swords, and everyday mortals going about the business of modern-day living. That’s a lot to capture in one cover. Thank the gods I have 5 covers to play with!

I will be the first to admit that Enchanted Darkly remains the weakest of all my books. (I’ve written 10 to date, so I now understand why it wasn’t eagerly scooped up by a publisher in 2010.) Enchanted was both a divorce confession and my first-ever attempt at crafting a meaningful story. The emotions expressed in that particular novel are raw, even if the writing and plot itself lack the polish of my later works. But the good news is…I got a lot better at the craft of writing, plotting, and editing because of that one book. And, the series can still stand if readers want to begin with Bound Darkly, skipping Enchanted altogether.

Unlike my later series, The Legends of the Pale books, the Darkly novels illuminate a larger story for the reader over the course of their five-book journey. Ultimately, the series sheds light on the final fate of King Arthur as the once and future king and his relationship to the five couples whose love stories are Enchanted, Bound, Kept, Surrendered, and Resurrected.

For that reason alone, I didn’t want to simply let this series languish without attempting a little marketing wand-waving. At first, I was going to only update the ebook covers and pull the paperback editions from the marketplace entirely, but several friends and my husband urged me to take the extra steps to see the entire upgrade through to its very end. (That also means chasing down every site the books might be listed on, in order to make sure the new covers eventually appear.)

On the plus side, the redesigned paperbacks give me the chance to place a few review quotes on the back covers. That’s something I’ve never been able to do with any of my new releases.

I will be uploading all the new designs to Amazon KDP this week, ordering proofs, and hopefully approving them by the end of this month. What will I do with the old-cover author copies I still have stored? I have absolutely no idea. When I make changes this drastic, I like a clean break from the old. I may just bury them under a tree in the woods, say a spell, and pour a little wine over the gravesite. (You never know. Authors can be a little cray-cray about their word-babies)

I also redesigned the cover for the eBook Boxed Set. Cause… Why Not!

Thanks for dropping by the Chalkboard. And look for those new covers soon!

All my books are sold online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and so many more.

  • Books2Read Universal links: https://books2read.com/ap/xbop4a/Tarrant-Smith
  • AllAuthor Author Page: https://starrantsmith.allauthor.com/
  • Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tarrant-Smith/e/B004DDHDJ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

My paperbacks are also carried by: (links located in sidebar)

  • The Madison Artist Guild in Madison, GA
  • The Art Box in Monticello, GA
  • The Southern Pen Bookshop in Monroe, GA

Hello! Is anyone out there?

Social media is a blessing and a curse for indie authors. Right now, for me, it feels like a curse. It is as if I’ve gotten on the wrong side of Facebook and all the other platforms. I’m hearing nothing but cricket-song out there.

This is happening despite the fact I’m running a price discount on The Fate of Wolves (ebook) this month, and The Dreams of Demons next month. What’s an indie author to do!

So….what am I going to do with an internet abyss that seems endless, and oh so terribly quiet?

Answer: Complaining a little…and then, double down as any crazy person would do. (When the street corner bullhorn doesn’t work, try something else…but keep trying)

For little over a week, I’ve been doing a deep dive into my social media marketing. I’m asking myself basic questions. How am I going to engage people? What have I not tried? What have I let get stale?

For those who read my posts, you know already that I’ve discovered Biteable.com. This site allowed me to piece together new (And I hope better) book trailers for all my books. I’ve also researched all the places and ways to use those trailers in my marketing plan. (Posts across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.) For more information on where and how to post trailers across the internet go to my last blog post.

While googling where to post trailers, I realized I’d forgotten about a few book sites I had used back in the day (2010) when I was promoting my first three books in the Darkly Series. Sites like AuthorsDen and LibraryThing. Not surprisingly, because I’d forgotten about them, each of those sites had out of date information concerning me and my books. This led me to the realization that my online-brand, AKA Tarrant Smith, lacked continuity. For a reader (and google), it shouldn’t matter which site I’m discovered on. Every platform should contain the same author bio and picture, the same links, the same awards, and the same book blurbs. Now, are these two sites easy to navigate? Hell NO! (About the same level of headache as Goodreads. But of course, you can find me there too!) Anyway, AuthorsDen and LibraryThing were pretty cutting edge in 2010 and they were some of the only places to list an ebook in those days. Needless to say, I cussed a little but got to work.

Now with my media-presence house in order, I turned to finding something new to add to my book promotion toolbox. (Which is the real reason for this post.)

Unearthing a book promotion site that would do more than just take my money and wave goodbye was my goal. I had tried Whizbuzz.com in the past but had seen little return on my investment. I started there anyway just to check to see if they offered anything new. But after nearly two years of being away, nothing seemed to have changed in what they were offering…so I did a google search for book marketing and almost as an afterthought I clicked on AllAuthor.com.

Turns out, you can list your books for free with them, but to get the cool marketing tools you want, an author needs to pay the $59 for pro status.

I paid the fee. Here’s my profile page with them and the landing page they set up for my books. Looks nice, right? Now, if you aren’t web-savvy then your AllAuthor landing page can serve as a second author’s website. I can promote discount deals on this platform. I can make book review gifs and promotional material using AllAuthor’s tools. (Examples below. The first one is a png file, the other a jpeg.)

AllAuthor will let me bank as many tweets with gifs as I want and then automatically post a set number of times on my Twitter account without me having to do anything but provide the list of tweets. That’s pretty cool. In just the overall time and hassle saved, I think AllAuthor is a good value for anyone who’d rather spend less time marketing and more time writing their next book.

I won’t actually know if anything I’ve done with AllAuthor will make a difference across my social media. At least, not immediately. But I’m willing to give it time. If anything, adding this platform to my marketing arsenal will provide Google another corner of the internet on which to find my name. Go on, google Tarrant Smith. I appear to be everywhere!

So one last time, let’s go through my brand’s internet health check-up:

  • Created new digital ads for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
  • Tried to create visual and informational continuity between all existing platforms.
  • Backtracked to old book listing sites to update my basic information. Bio, Bio pic, awards, book details, social media links, etc.
  • Pieced together new book videos.
  • Dispersed those book trailers across as many platforms as possible. Those that one expects like Facebook, Twitter, my website, Amazon Central, YouTube…and others less expected like submitting a video to my book’s Amazon sales page.
  • Added DailyMotion and Vimeo to my list of video sites.
  • I gave in and paid Facebook for an ad that will run for the next 5 days. (Because I’m weak and insecure)
  • Discovered and utilized AllAuthor’s book promotion tools
  • Polished my own Author’s website and reported my discoveries here on my blog for other indie authors to try.

And to be honest, that’s all I can do to break through the awful silence I’m experiencing at the moment. I’m going to keep writing and publishing my books regardless of who reads or doesn’t read them. I can’t stop writing. I’ve been telling stories all my life.

And in the end, I might have to make peace with the notion that I might just remain the best kept secret on the internet.

Book Trailers… Are they worth it?

Do you need a book trailer in this very visual marketing world? Would you know what to do with a book trailer once you’d created one? And really, how hard are they to make?

Well, as a part of my quest to reach new readers, let me weigh in on the subject.

Photo by Donovan Silva on Unsplash

Firstly, Hell Yes! Make a damn promotional trailer for your book.

We all understand that writers paint pictures by using words. It’s what we do. We spend years learning how to do it better, quicker, cleaner. So it’s easy for writers to dismiss the visual aspects that a good book marketing plan should include. Examples of visual marketing are, but aren’t limited to:

  • eye-catching cover art
  • static social media ads
  • book unboxing videos
  • videos from book signings
  • and yes, a book trailer or two
  • video interviews
  • taped readings

I am sure I’m forgetting something in the above list, but let’s press on. Book trailers have the ability to engage potential readers and build excitement about your book. So why wouldn’t you take the time to create one? And let’s face it, it’s most likely going to be the only time you see your book in movie form!

So is it difficult to make a book trailer?

The short answer is no. It shouldn’t be. There’s enough movie-making software and apps on the market. Finding a site or software to suit your needs isn’t hard at all. A google search should do it.

Once you collect your images, have an idea of the kind of tease you want to present… then it’s time to stitch the “short movie” together. Pay attention to the accompanying music you choose. That will set the overall mood of your trailer. Just pretend you’re a movie producer cutting the best trailer for this year’s summer blockbuster, romcom, or drama and you will be happy with the results.

I’m now going to plug… biteable.com.

All the videos on my site were made using their software. I decided to pay their monthly fee to avoid their watermarks on the video and images I used to create my book trailers. The rest was good old imagination and a bit of editing. Of course, I have made book trailers in the past using PowerPoint. Biteable was much easier to deal with.

As for how your book trailer should look… Well, that’s up to you. I suggest you view lots of book trailers, both in your own genre and others, until you feel inspired.

So where do I share my book trailers once they’re made?

Okay, this answer is less intuitive. Frankly, beyond putting them on your own author’s website, YouTube, Goodreads, and Facebook… you’re going to have to do some searching. But I can help you get started.

Places I’ve found to Upload your Book Trailer:

  • Author’s Website (Have that video front and center!)
  • YouTube (Create your own channel!)
  • Author Goodreads page (The video must be a YouTube link)
  • Facebook page and all those book marketing groups (easy-peesy)
  • Pinterest (upload the file directly and don’t forget to add sales links)
  • Bookreals.com (will require information from your Amazon page)
  • DailyMotion.com (like YouTube, you can set up your own channel)
  • Vimeo (like YouTube, with the option of paying for more memory space)
  • Twitter (of course)
  • Instagram (if the trailer is over 60 seconds in length)
  • Include the trailer in your Newsletter to subscribers
  • Amazon Book Sales Page **(Submit it as a video. If accepted, it takes a few days to show up)
  • Amazon Central (there’s a place to submit pictures and video in your profile)
  • And, if there is a local business that sells your books, then give them the file to upload to their own web storefront. They will probably appreciate anything that might drive traffic to their site.

This list is just a jumping-off point for where you can engage with possible new readers. I will keep reporting back on this issue as I discover new sites.

Before I leave:

** Below is a screenshot from The Fate of Wolves sales page on Amazon. The Upload Your Video is below the details of the book and above More about the Author section. So it’s pretty far down the page on the left. I think it’s still worth submitting a trailer. (And yeah, I know my sales numbers are sad. Stop judging. Help me out. Leave a review. 💋)

Alright, thanks for stopping by! I’ve got to get back to work now. The next book isn’t going to write itself.

-Tarrant

A day in the DESIGN CHAIR

Whoever thought writing a book was time-consuming has never had to market a book, much less two multi-book series and a poetry book!

Today I set aside my writing so I could devote much-needed time to the design chair. Below are the new social media ads I’ll be running on FB over the next three weeks. I’m also doing a bit of digital housecleaning today. This internet health-check includes all my social media sites, my author’s website, and the multiple sites selling my books. Luckily, I do this chore once a month to keep the information circulating about me as current as humanly possible. This includes…but is not limited to… book blurbs, author bios, book pricing and discounts, award updates, and a reasonably decent author’s picture.

I’m also taking a little time this afternoon to unsubscribe to newsletters and promotional materials that are clogging up my author’s Gmail account. After leaving Tumbler years ago, I still get a weekly email from them. Why is that necessary?

On the Promotional Front

The Fate of Wolves (ebook) is just 99-cents this month across all platforms. You can find it and all my other books listed on my Books2Read Author Page.

https://books2read.com/ap/xbop4a/Tarrant-Smith

How to get a free ebook!

I have a few Amazon gift codes for Kindle copies of The Love of Gods and my latest, The Souls of Witches. If you’ve been wanting to read one of my books, live in the United States, and would like one of these codes…please email me at tarrantsmith@gmail.com. I will reply within 24 hours. (As always, honest reviews are appreciated but not required for obtaining a gift code)

Once the codes are gone, they’re gone. 😘 So hurry!

At last count, I have 8 Gift Codes for The Love of Gods and 5 Gift codes for The Souls of Witches.

What’s Coming?

I am well into writing The Heart of Monsters. This will most likely be book 5 in the Legends of the Pale Series. To help myself get on with the writing of it, I’ve made a promise to my editor to get the finished manuscript to her by the first of October. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be able to set the release date just in time for Christmas this year.

I’m looking at cover art possibilities now. By Mid-Summer, I’ll reveal a finalized cover so we can all look forward to holding it in our hands.

On the Poetry Front

Yes, I am still writing poetry and have laid out the framework for a second collection. I even have a working title: Whimsy, Hearts & Zen.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, The Chalkboard!

-Tarrant

Good Things are Happening in 2021!

Hello everyone. Thank you for stopping by my blog, the Chalkboard. Because everyone I know is on a budget these days, here’s a list of the upcoming book promotions I have in the works. (Because there is no reason not to read a great book!)

Here’s your insider Promotion Information:

  • The Love of Gods (ebook): Currently discounted to .99 cents until Feb 28th
  • The Fate of Wolves (ebook) Just .99 cents for the Month of March!
  • The Dreams of Demons (ebook) Just .99 cents for the Month of April!
  • All the Darkly Series Paperback book prices have been dropped to $12 (down from $16) This will be the last year to purchase this series in paperback. At the beginning of 2022, I plan to briefly pull this series from the marketplace, change the covers to something more salacious, and then only offer these books again in an ebook format.
  • End of the year (2021) paperback giveaway for any author copies of The Darkly Series I still have just laying around the house. A girl can only carry so many books in her car and to book signings.
  • Enchanted Darkly (ebook) Just .99 cents from March 1st to June 1st.

Also… The Souls of Witches is receiving some great reviews from Amazon readers!

Thank you to all the readers who have taken the time and effort to leave me a review. Not all reviews need to be as detailed as the ones I’ve shared with you today. Sometimes, all it takes is a brief comment left behind for other readers to find. Something along the lines of…”Loved this book” … “Enjoying this Series.” … “Quick read and well worth your time” are just some of the possibilities. Amazon and other online booksellers just want honest reactions to the products sold on their platforms, not comprehensive book reports like we all did back when we were in school.

And for those who have already devoured book 4 in my Legends of the Pale Series, be assured that I am working on books 5 and 6. With diligence and luck, one of these novels will be published this year.

-Tarrant

New Review!

The review for The Souls of Witches from Literary Titan is out. Some excerpts from the review:

“Author Tarrant Smith has created a captivating mystical haven called the Pale. The place is full of mysterious characters fighting for love, struggling with hate, assault, cruelties, and a blooming romance between Lars and Rowan. The use of imagery was fascinating; I could visualize the beauty and scenes like a dream.”

“This is a novel that is propelled forward by the two main characters that are deeply developed…”

“It’s just pure enjoyment..”

Literary Titan: 4-star out of 5

To read the entire review, go to Literary Titan.

The 99-Cent eBook Dilemma

Book Marketing Plans

Photo by Vivek Kumar on Unsplash

After packing and then hauling my laptop all the way down to the Dominican Republic for Christmas vacation with family this year, I ended up not writing a single word. While planning for my trip, I truly had thought I’d write at least a little bit. I’d just assumed that I would sneak off to jot down a few notes, maybe a paragraph…probably not an entire chapter, but something nonetheless. After all, I have two manuscripts in progress and two entirely new books outlined just waiting in the wings. And I told myself logically, I have a self-imposed publishing schedule to keep. A schedule where I’ve started to miss the deadlines marked so thoughtfully on my Google calendar. So, it made sense to carefully fold my laptop between the bathing suits, shorts, and sundresses because all my writing of late has been geared toward making my deadlines, expanding my brand, and growing my literary empire. But in truth, I didn’t even crack the laptop open to check my emails. I can, of course, do that on my phone.

Okay, don’t laugh. I do have dreams of one day being a best-seller. Though, when or how that will happen is still a mystery to me. I did the usual steps of cultivating book reviews and gathering awards for my website to bolster my own validation and to give my career as an indie author legitimacy. But, I struggle almost daily between the dilemma of giving my work away because I want to be read by a wide audience and valuing my time and talent by keeping my books priced (ebooks at least) just under well-known authors like Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Karen Marie Moning, and Patricia Briggs. These are other paranormal romance authors who I read, love, and want to one day be listed among.

So which is it? Do I spend a year or more writing, crafting, editing, producing, and designing a product only to slap a 99-cent price tag on it so readers are more likely to take a risk by purchasing a work of an unknown author? Or do I value the time and effort that went into bringing a book to the marketplace by keeping my ebooks at $3.99 and hope that the right book-influencer stumbles across it? Then reads it. And hopefully, tells others how awesome it is?

Do I write to be read? Or, do I write to make a small income?

I know I’m not the only indie author to struggle with this dilemma. The prevailing thought is that in giving our work away we gain access to more readers. But, this strategy also hurts the ebook marketplace as a whole. How are any of us going to make a living if all ebooks, except for the publishing industries’ chosen darlings, are just 99-cents? That’s less than the price of a cup of coffee. And, there’s also that lingering assumption by readers that 99-cent ebook isn’t well-written. If it were, then why is it so cheap?

It’s a catch 22. I’m damned no matter what marketing plan I choose and that best-seller label seems even further away every year.

So, I find myself stumbling back to my original question. Why do I write? Is it because I must write. Would I be writing if I weren’t publishing? Well, the resounding answer is YES. I’ve been writing for my entire life. So why do I find it so hard to just lower my prices? After all, I’m not living off my writing right now. After Covid, my book sales are in the toilet. Why not just say fuck it and give the books away. At least then they’ll get read by someone. Anyone.

Here’s the rub and my other problem with the 99-cent plan. The few times I’ve discounted my books to that low, low price, I didn’t see the upswing in sales that the marketing “experts” promised would happen. And when I look at friends of mine who are authors trying to earn a living by keeping their ebook prices at the standard average of $3.99, I felt like I am betraying them in some way. Call me crazy. (I’m beginning to think anyone who publishes in today’s industry must be just a little nuts.)

Unlike most of my posts, this entry doesn’t have a tidy conclusion. This is me thinking out loud and sharing thoughts that plague so many other authors. If you have a suggestion for escaping this catch-22, please feel free to leave a comment below. I welcome your wisdom. And of course, look for me to run the occasional discounted price on my catalog of titles throughout the coming year. Cause when in doubt, choose the middle ground.

Thanks for listening.

—Tarrant

Latest Review! 🥰

Reviewed By Tammy Ruggles for Readers’ Favorite

The Souls of Witches by Tarrant Smith is a well-written page-turning paranormal romance novel. This selection is from the series Legends of the Pale about paranormal characters and communities living and struggling on the outskirts of society in a place called The Pale. Members of these unique communities include werewolves, demons, witches, and other supernatural entities. Smith has created a plot that will pull you in like quicksand–the dangerous but irresistible romance between a demon/demigod hybrid named Lars and an unassuming but independent kitchen witch named Rowan who lives a quiet life and knows what she wants and doesn’t want out of life. She never thought she wanted or needed her “other half”–a soulmate. Are the two destined to be together? How will they overcome the darkness that threatens them and their differences? There are secrets buried in the past, and if Lars chooses to be with her, it may cost her life.

Come for the plot, stay for the characters and emotional love story. This author makes it easy to sink right into the story, beginning with brief character sketches at the beginning to get you familiar with the players. This is greatly appreciated. As the story begins, you will immediately recognize that this writer is talented, knows how to put a story together, and pull emotions from the reader. The attention to detail is impressive, the inner dialogue balanced with narrative and exterior dialogue, and the imagery is cinematic. You are in Rowan’s world all the way, made tangible by thoughts, descriptions, and her personality. As you read, you get the feeling you’re reading about real people with real lives (albeit paranormal ones), not characters in a book. When Rowan’s world collides with Lars’ at the witch’s ball, we are treated to romantic chemistry that throbs like a heartbeat. There are some strong, steamy sex scenes for those who like a little heat, but with genuine longing and connection too. I like the way Lars’ character develops over time and the inner turmoil he wrestles with. Rowan grows too, but Lars’ changes are profound. The backstory is crucial to this series and its characters. This is a world you can easily get caught up in, and Smith should be applauded for world-building skill, which is the foundation of a series like this. If you can’t believe the world, nothing else matters. But Smith masters it. The Souls of Witches by Tarrant Smith is the perfect example of a must-read paranormal romance.