One Minute Poem Break

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram then you’ve seen my flurry of recent poem posts. Here are a few more:

Obviously, sustainable living and veganism are the primary motivation behind my recent poetic efforts. I hope you’ve enjoyed them and I also hope they’ve made you think just a little about what you can do for yourself and the planet.

Here’s one more just for fun…

-Tarrant

Suddenly I’m a Climate Change Warrior Poet

After watching a series of documentaries, mainly stressing the benefits of veganism and a whole-foods-plant-based diet, I was overwhelmed and quite angry at institutional policies (and nutritional myths) that perpetuate a food system that continues to harm this planet of ours.

Wait… am I now an climate activist because of my diet choice?

The documentaries, whether climate change specific or not, all touch on the harm industrial farming is causing this planet of ours. Long ago, I knew I never wanted to actually see what goes on in a slaughterhouse or think too deeply about how the food I eat makes it to my grocery store and plate. Back in my omnivore days, I understood in my heart of hearts that watching a video documenting the suffering of animals would prevent me from ever enjoying beef, pork, or chicken again. So, I avoided all those awful vegan propaganda films and the weirdos who shared them with me. (By the way, fish do feel pain. And the seas don’t contain limitless amounts of fish.)

Six years ago, my first steps into vegetarianism were strictly economical. Done right, it meant a cheaper grocery bill for my family every month. I didn’t expect to feel better because of the change, but I did. And because I experienced less inflammation, more energy, less bloating, and easy weight control, I began researching the why of it all. I wanted to understand the nutritional science that led to all these unexpected benefits. (Watch the Game Changers if you are an athlete)

Now, several years into my vegetarianism I’ve replaced my dairy creamer with soy milk. (Soy is not going to give women cancer or men boobs. That’s a myth.) Switched my yogurt to a plant-based option. (Just as enjoyable) Indulge in the occasional meat substitutes that are readily available on the market. (I know it’s processed, but it’s better for the planet than a hamburger. And it’s tasty.) Discovered grains other than white rice…like farro, quinoa, and barley. And I’ve been exposed to vegetarian-friendly cuisines from around the world. (The standard American cuisine is rather boring actually) Except for my occasional cravings for cheese, I’m about 85% vegan. (You don’t realize that Americans put cheese in and on everything until you try to avoid it.)

But enough about my veganism. I realize people have to come to their diet choices on their own. Let’s move on to Climate Change. (For more Climate Change specific documentaries on YouTube, click here. Of course, I expect all free-thinking adults to do their own research on the subject. Don’t accept information without the appropriate fact-checking.)

So I’m mad. Angered by the Climate change apathy and denial I see around me every day. The human race can’t seem to wear their masks in a pandemic, how the hell are we going to make the institutional changes needed to slow this climate crisis?

I think sustainable change is going to have to come from individuals. Only a shift in thinking about our planet’s limited resources will get us there. And, individual choices seem to be the only realistic place one can start.

My economical statement on behalf of the planet and animals everywhere was to remove meat from my plate. Others might choose to buy an electric car instead of their gas/diesel counterpart. We as individuals could invest in solar energy for our homes. Stop using plastic bags. Stop buying single-use plastic water bottles. Buy our vegetables from local farmers. Refuse to garden with chemical pesticides that harm the soil. Plant trees to rewild a pasture or a two-acre lawn. Walk or ride a bike instead of getting in our cars for a 2 mile trip to Walmart or the grocery. I know this sounds like too little far too late, but I don’t have control over the USDA. I can’t magically stop large-scale practices that are harming the earth. I can’t expect the governments of the world to agree on anything meaningful.

I’m only one overwhelmed person.

Yet, what I can do is signal to big industry what changes I think should be made through the use of where and when I spend my dollars. In a capitalist system, money is king.

The point of this post is, we all have to start somewhere. I started with my diet choice and a poem.

What will you choose to do?

Freed to Write Anything?

Like so many Americans, this week my husband and I gathered our tax information and sighed. And perhaps cried a little.

Ever since I began self-publishing my books, I’ve hated the process of chasing down every expense associated with the production and marketing of my books. There is always the question of what I can and can’t write off. But in the end, I have no choice but to confront the stark reality that I often lose money because I’m an indie author. And with Covid, this year’s figures were bleaker than in the past.

With a heavy heart, I handed over my final tally.

Then, for the rest of that evening and into the next day, I fell into a deep depression. “Why bother” constantly circled through my thoughts. With a blanket over my head and contemplating possibly not rising for dinner, my well-meaning husband suggested that I should be happy not sad at having sold so few books last year.

What? Are you kidding me! I emerged from the blanket and stared at him.

In his mind, being the best-kept secret on the internet was a good thing. It meant, I could write whatever I wanted. There are no expectations. No restrictions placed on me by publishers, readers, or even my own series. If I want to stop writing books altogether and switch to writing screenplays, there’d be no one to disappoint.

Listening to him go on and on about how I’m not on the bestseller list (yet) just deepened my depression. He meant well, so I gave him a pass. I also got out of bed to make dinner to shut him up.

A few days later, our taxes were filed, the checks to the IRS and the state of Georgia sent.

In hindsight, my husband does have a point. But not, I think, the point he meant to make. And that point is…drumroll…for the first time in our entire marriage, I’m no longer required to be the breadwinner for our family. The bills are getting paid, but not by me. This means we no longer live and die according to my book sales. I don’t have to make money on my writing actually – at all.

This makes it less stressful when I sit down in front of a blank screen, knowing that I can concentrate on the art of writing, take as long as I wish to finish a book. I can write poetry without worrying about hitting my self-imposed book-writing deadlines. I can write a blog post without fretting over not finishing that chapter that’s just been sitting.

I can switch it up and become an Instagram poet if I want. Or not…

Okay, so he’s right. There is a kind of freedom to write whatever I want. But what I want to write, what I’m good at writing, I am already writing. So, I will simply persist and stay the course. And, if I am truly fated to remain the best-kept secret on the internet… then I will be a jewel. Sparkling. Brillant. A delightful discovery.

Thanks for stopping by the Chalkboard,

-Tarrant

Today’s 3 Poem Work Break

I sometimes share my poetry on Medium. I am currently organizing a second collection. But until that is published, please enjoy the following efforts.

Product: Me

Shifting pictures
of my best self
snapβ€”alterβ€”post

Glow-filtered aspirations,
hollow pixels
and plastic smiles

The world judges
liked and hearted
commerce tending

-Tarrant Smith 2021

*** ***

Photo by Pim Chu on Unsplash

Moving Day

Burning away a cluttered life
simplicity by design
curated and capsuled
until I am more
and we are less
mid-life minimal
romancing empty space

-Tarrant Smith 2021

*** ***

The Cat’s Writer

contagious cat cuddles curtail coffee cup canoodling
clandestine collaborators colliding

-Tarrant Smith 2021

*** ***

Thank you for taking the time to stop by the Chalkboard. πŸ’–

Inspiration is Everywhere.

I lost an entire day of writing yesterday. Suddenly it was terribly important that I rearrange my living room. I currently live in an open loft and so moving one item affects the esthetics of the entire room. Eight hours later…I found myself sipping tea, admiring my efforts, and watching Westworld on HBO.

Given yesterday’s events, I woke this morning determined to make real progress on my next book. And then, Darling Desi popped up in my YouTube feed while I was drinking my coffee. Thirty minutes later, I found myself scaling back today’s writing plans.

This is typical writer-procrastination behavior on my part. Unfortunately, some of these time-sucking rabbit holes must be seen through to their end in order for me to write that next chapter. So, please bear with me while I follow this particular Mad Hatter for today.

If you haven’t run across any of Darling Desi’s videos, click here to check out her channel. By all appearances, she seems to be living her best Victorian/Edwardian Story Book Princess life. The video I first stumbled upon was her Wearing a Corset for a Day experiment. That video led me to another, How to Romanticize your Life; Being the Main Character of your Life, which is the point of this post.

Let me say, I have always tried to live an intentional life. This of course is the ultimate point of Darling Desi’s videos as well, but I haven’t actually thought of myself as the main character in my own life.

Or maybe, I have…and just didn’t expressed it in those terms.

For those who may not know, my only child is now out of college and living part-time with my husband and me. About two years ago my husband’s job required him to travel quite a lot. I was able to travel with him some of that time, but when I couldn’t, it gave me large swaths of alone time. Or as alone as I can be with a grown child coming and going whenever he pleases. These fundamental shifts in our lives demanded that we make some changes to how our small family operated and lived.

Let me pause a moment to say, I have always taken the time to evaluate myself and my life so that I might refine who I want to be moving forward. In the past, I have gone through my corset witch-wearing years. The sexy mom years. The Victorian era vamp-esthetic years. There were the years I bought all things Viking, or all things yoga-spandex/gym-rat inspired, and also the two years I wore only boho style. Which by the way was extremely comfortable until winter arrived. Not too long ago, my wardrobe was revamped to accommodate the late 40’s and 50’s pin-up girl style. This was rather tricky since I am not in my 20’s anymore. But it was a look my husband greatly appreciated, so I felt beautiful instead of silly and I rediscovered the comfort of high-waisted pants.

With each of my costume changes and self-reinventions, my imagination flourished and my living space echoed each newly aquired style. To some extent, readers can track my progressions by the descriptions of what my characters happen to be wearing in each of my books.

But back to my most recent life-changing circumstances.

Last year, the year of Covid, I realized it was time to downsize. We needed to ditch the romantic, verging on Southern gothic house we’d been renting for fourteen years and move into a new space that any of us could simply lock up and leave at a moment’s notice. So the three of us moved into a two-bedroom downtown loft. After so many years in the same large house, we were bursting at the seams with accumulated stuff. It took nearly a year of sorting, donating, and packing to downsize our possessions but in the process, I rediscovered my love of minimalism. My obsession with having less led me to the joys of a capsule wardrobe and a modern furniture esthetic preference. Freed from so many things, I began to feel like a different person.

But who exactly was this new leading character in my life story?

Well, like the characters who populate in my novels, I’m still fleshing this new me out. Though my capsule wardrobe is small, I’ve filled it with quality pieces that suggest a woman who appreciates casual elegance. (Or at least I think it does.) Though I live in a much smaller space, it feels bigger with its Swedish neutral color palette and clutterless surfaces. This new me regularly travels to the Caribbean, something my old self never had the money nor the time to do. I’m basically childless now and rediscovering the kinky joy of being a couple once again with my husband. This new me has a hairdresser and tailor, something the old me wouldn’t have prioritized. Oh and let me not forget, I’m doing my part to save the planet by choosing to not eat meat anymore. I’ve left behind pescatarian and transitioned fully into my vegetarian-self while making real progress in my vegan journey.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

I like this new life and leading lady. And shouldn’t that be the point. To live each moment with intention and awareness because you’re writing your own life story. To know that it’s okay to make wardrobe and stage changes as life circumstances dictate. Like a novel, life has plot twists… moments both good and bad which must be dealt with so the plot can progress and the characters continue to evolve.

Just one step further…

I can honestly say that though the main character may look different from chapter to chapter, my life-novel is definitely a romance. A romance where I’m in love with myself and the people who populate my world. And though I may reinvent myself at some point in the coming years, I will take a moment to appreciate each iteration of me to its fullest because I was deliberate in creating her.

So what sort of character are you, dear reader? And what genre is your life novel?

Thanks for stopping by the Chalkboard today. It’s now time for me to get back to working on my books.

-Tarrant

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 πŸ‘ and πŸ’– 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. πŸ’–

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. πŸ’‹

-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. πŸ’–

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. πŸ’‹)

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

-Tarrant