Friday, April 28, 2017

Putting Everything Out There--For Kindle Scout

I have eight days left in my Kindle Scout campaign, and I feel like pretty much everyone on the planet has heard about it. I've Tweeted, I've YouTubed, I've Tumbled, I've Pinned, everyone's been LinkedIn, my Grams are all Instant, and of course my Book of Faces has had nothing but "NOMINATE ME!" right up in their business for weeks on end.  Yep, I've shouted it from every social media mountaintop in the range.
None of this has been easy for me, mind you. I am not one to pester the crap out of everyone most of the time. Sure, I'll ask my friends to support my kids' fundraisers at school. But I don't feel like I'm constantly shouting, "Buy my book!" so that it just becomes white noise. Maybe my friends would disagree, but I don't think so. I never know what to say when someone I have known for a while says, "I didn't know you were a writer." Well, yes, I suppose so.... But part of Kindle Scout is that darned Hot and Trending list (the one I haven't seen in over a week) and to get on there, you have to do a lot of self-promotion. Is it the be-all and end-all. No.  Does it help? Likely. At the end of the day, if my writing isn't good, it won't matter how long I've been on there. And if the writing is good enough, it won't matter if the only person who nominated it was me. (And I did by the way....)
https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/OT9F85ZHLEKL

Not only is hard to find the places to beg for nominations, it's hard to convert those nominations as well. Take this blog, for instance. I have had a huge amount of support from Books Go Social tweeting and retweeting about my blog the last two weeks. I've had over 1500 visits to my blot posts about Kindle Scout in that amount of time, but I've only had a few (like less than 10) visits from my blog to my Kindle Scout page. So that means the people who visit here either don't think my book is interesting enough to check out, they think it will take too long to nominate, or they intend to do it but end up getting distracted and not going back.
So listen, this is me putting myself out there asking you to go to my nomination page and just read the blurb and maybe part of the excerpt. If you think it's crap, then don't nominate it. But if you think the writing is good, the story is interesting, the cover is cool, or anything of merit can be found in Beneath the Inconstant Moon--even if it's not the type of book you usually read--please go ahead and nominate it.  You don't have to have a Kindle to read the free copy (if I get published through Kindle Press you will get a free copy). You can read it on any smart device, including your computer. Obviously, you don't even have to read it (although I would hope you would, eventually, once you get through that huge stack of other books you are planning on reading first.) I honestly think this book has something to offer to the literary world and that a lot of people will like it. A lot of people have read it and do like it. It deserves a chance to be published, but without enough eyes on it, it may never even get a second look by Kindle Press. So, please, check it out and then make your decision. You can find it here. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/OT9F85ZHLEKL
And if you've read this far, thank you for your support! I really can't wait until this campaign is over so I  can crawl back into my little writer hidey hole. (I'm sure you all agree.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Kindle Scout Campaign--Halfway There!

Today marks the halfway point of my Kindle Scout campaign, and boy am I tired! It's a lot of work marketing your work 24/7 for two weeks.  Though, overall, this has been a great experience, I will be happy when it is over!


Have you heard of Kindle Scout? It's a great way to get new books and have a say in what is published next.

My campaign started off very strong, and I spent the majority of days 2-14 on the Hot and Trending list. I fell off about three and a half days ago and can't get back on to save my life. Granted, I haven't tried much in the way of paid promotion the last few days, but I have done a lot of social media marketing myself, and none of that seems to be very successful. I have managed to trump up about 50 page views per day, which isn't awful, but there have been a lot of books added to the site the last few days and they seem to be dominating Hot and Trending, along with the books in their last few days.
For better or worse, these are my stats so far....

If you are thinking about launching a Kindle Scout campaign, my strongest piece of advice would be to go to KBoards and read the entire thread about Kindle Scout. It's very, very long, but it is full of tips and information about how to launch a strong campaign. You can also read a book by Lincoln Cole, a Kindle Scout winner, entitled Kindle Scout Guide. You can find his book and a ton of information and statistics on his website here.

I believe part of the reason I was able to stay on Hot and Trending so long was because I ran a promo with Scout Boost one day early on. Scout Boost is a new option through the same people who brought us Genre Pulse and BookGrow. I've had a lot of luck with them in the past.
I also contacted my friends at Books Butterfly to see if they did anything for Kindle Scout, and though they don't advertise it much, they do.  I saw a big spike in views on that day as well. I've also had some Tweets of my blog scheduled through Books Go Social, and they'll be doing more the last week of my campaign.
You probably don't have to run promos to be a winner on Kindle Scout. There have been several books chosen who really didn't have a lot of views or hours in Hot and Trending. However, my thought was, I want to get this book in front of as many people as possible, and since I had some money in my promo budget, I decided to invest it here. Hopefully, it will pay off as a good launch whether I end up self-publishing or winning a contract with Kindle Press.
What I look like trying to get back to Hot and Trending

Even though I wrote what I consider to be a great novel (betas agree on that as well), it's been edited by three different qualified individuals, and I have an amazing cover, I am not particularly hopeful that I will win. There are a lot of great books out there, and they only take about 3% of those that are entered. One thing is for certain, though. Over the course of this month, literally thousands of people have seen my cover and my name, and that can't hurt.  Fingers crossed for a big win in a couple of weeks, but either way, at least people are seeing Ginny and Spencer's story and can decide for themselves whether or not they want to read it.

Please consider supporting my Kindle Scout campaign for Beneath the Inconstant Moon. You can read the first 5000 words on Kindle Scout, if you'd like, and decide for yourself if I've earned your nomination. If you like the book, it only takes a minute to click the blue "Nominate me" button and then leaving stars for the various items (cover, blurb, etc.) are optional.
You can find it here: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/OT9F85ZHLEKL
The nomination screen. Click the blue button--please!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Unreliable Witness—Genevieve of Kindle Scout Nominated Beneath the Inconstant Moon

Beneath the Inconstant Moon is a novel set in 1840s Baltimore. It primarily tells the story of one young woman, Genevieve Cawley, and how she struggles to overcome the insurmountable loss of her true love, Spencer. More than a romance story, “Moon” provides a look into the psyche of a woman who is teetering on the edge of madness and those who care enough about her to pull her back out of the abyss. It also reveals the darker side of Victorian era treatment for insanity and hysteria and takes the reader on a heart-wrenching journey through the world of medical treatment options of the past.
 
Nominate now on Kindle Scout! Click here.
When we first meet Genevieve, she is so broken she isn’t even certain of her own name.  She is confused by the people around her, where she is, and what she is doing. All she knows for sure is that she is waiting for the return of her true love, Spencer.


“But you see,” she began, sitting up a bit, “you always call me that—Mrs. Edwards--and that’s not my name either.”

We get a glimpse back into Genevieve’s memories when the story goes back from 1846 to 1844, and we can instantly see how dependent she has become on Spencer to keep her anchored to the world around here.

Here she was now melting into the moonbeams, forgetting herself entirely, Spencer filling her universe and causing her to lose track of anything and everything else.

But we also learn that Genevieve is a fighter, and when her parents urge her to forget about Spencer and move on, she refuses. It is only when she finds out she is carrying Spencer’s child and that her father may lose his business if she does not sacrifice herself by marrying Isaac Edwards that Genevieve accepts that sometimes our choices are really not our own.
 
Ginny is devastated when Spencer is lost at sea.

“Mr. Edwards is a good man. Give him the opportunity to woo you, Genevieve. You’ll see. He may not be your first choice, but he is likely the best—perhaps your only—remaining choice.”
                                        Clara Cawley, Genevieve’s mother

Even though everyone else believes Spencer will never return from his trip to the Caribbean, Genevieve never gives up hope. As she sits by the window, day after day, watching for his ship to come in, she remembers how they first met one day while walking on the beach.


“I felt that he had come into my life for a reason, and while he was passing next to us, it was as if the universe was in full alignment, but as he drew behind me, and I walked out of his proximity, everything came crumbling apart.”

As the years go by, Genevieve never gives up hope that Spencer will return to her, though her grip on reality has began to wane.


“Our love story began beneath the moonbeams, and he promised to return to me from this very voyage sitting alone beneath the same silvery light. I have no reason to doubt that Spencer will make his way home one day—soon. I can only assume that the reason for his delay is because of that same shining orb, that it isn’t Spencer who has been dishonest, but it is the moon who should hold blame. And so, even as I feel the glow above me, even as it illuminates your pretty face, my friend, I know that it is not to be trusted, that the moon is a fraud, and I expect my husband to return to me soon not because of the waning moon, but in spite of it.”

How can she trust the moon when it has betrayed her?


Genevieve, whose friends throughout the novel refer to her as Ginny (those who do not cannot be trusted!) was a complex character to write. Not only did I have to make her likable despite her misgivings, I had to make her authentic.  She could not be sensationalized or comical or else she would be difficult to empathize with.  It is her sweet nature and kind spirit that first draws in the reader, and one cannot help but begin to sympathize with her plight.  Though she is not as physically strong as many of the other female characters I have written about, she does not break easily, and she certainly reaches heroine status by the end of the novel.

She is not completely reliable, however. That was the essential element of Ginny Cawley that this story relied upon. As a reader, you mustn’t believe much of what Ms. Cawley says, or does, or even thinks. It is this driving feature of “Moon” that compels the reader to keep moving forward. What is really happening? Who are these people? Where are they? And perhaps most importantly of all, will we ever really know the true Ginny Cawley?


If you like suspense novels with unreliable main characters, such as The Girl on the Train, then you will certainly like Beneath the Inconstant Moon. Visit my Kindle Scout page here and nominate “Moon.” If my book is chosen for publication by Kindle Press, you will get a free copy. If not, you will be notified once it is available for purchase. You can also read the first 5000 words on Kindle Scout.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Kindle Scout Campaign Day 2: Oh. My. Goodness!

So as you may have gleaned from the title, this is day 2 of my 30 day Kindle Scout campaign, and I am exhausted! It's hard work trying to get people to nominate your stuff! You wouldn't think so, but it's true! Luckily, today is a Saturday, so I was able to spend aaaalllll day online, bugging the crap out of my friends, checking the Hot and Trending list, and basically giving myself an ulcer. I'm quite certain that I will be as mad as my main character by the end of this month!
One of the awesome banners made for me by Author Shout!

Authors don't get a whole lot of feedback from Kindle Scout as to how the promo is going during the campaign. Every morning at 6:00ish I'll find out how many views my page received and how many hours I've spent on the Hot and Trending list. The H&T list is the top 20 titles enrolled in the program at one time. No one really seems to know how a book gets and stays in H&T, but speculations assume it has something to do with number of views and nominations.  It isn't enough to have people just come to your page and take a look around; they have to actually nominate your book. Or at least, that's the theory. I had 0 hours on H&T yesterday even though I had 182 page views, which I thought was pretty good. Today, I've been on H&T since 9:00 AM and it's almost 11:00 PM, so I should have at least 14 hours when I check tomorrow, depending upon what the night brings.
As far as spreading the word goes, so far most of my efforts have been on Facebook and Twitter. I did submit a BookBub Partners ad today but I don't think it's been approved yet because nothing has happened, and I also created a Pinterest ad which is definitely still in review. I've had a lot of help from friends on FB today, which is awesome, but I know my most loyal peeps will probably do everything they can in the next few days, so that might exhaust itself soon. I've done two post boosts, which seem to be getting some attention. I also posted in a lot of the book promo groups I am a member of.
I also have a company called Author Shout working for me, which I picked up off of Twitter for $10. They found me.  They made two amazing banners for me and have been Tweeting and did some FB posting, which is great.  Twitter hasn't been too exciting as even my most loyal retweeters haven't bit on any of my Twitter pleas, so maybe I can tap into their followers later in the campaign.  I also haven't started really bugging my author friends yet because I'm trying to pace myself. It's hard when you really want to get the word out but you also don't want to run out of steam.
Kindle Scout shows you the website where your traffic comes from, so I would like to thank the sole blog post reader of yesterday who clicked through my link! If you would like to see my campaign and nominate Beneath the Inconstant Moon, you can click here.  I would really appreciate your support!
The thing I really have to keep in mind is that public support is just part of the secret equation. Ultimately, someone at Kindle Press will decide whether or not my manuscript works for what they do. Hopefully, they will think so no matter how many hours of H&T I can stir up or how many page views and nominations.  But drawing in more readers definitely doesn't hurt, so please check it out and send your friends. If they choose my book, anyone who nominates it gets a free copy, which is really cool.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Nominate Your Favorite Books for Publication with Kindle Scout!

While Amazon's Kindle Scout program has been around for almost two years now, I've found not a lot of readers are familiar with the program. This is a short intro to how Kindle Scout works so that avid readers will know how they can have a say in which books Kindle Press publishes next.

Kindle Scout is a new program that allows authors to submit unpublished novel-length manuscripts for consideration for a publication contract with Kindle Press.  This is a great opportunity for upcoming authors for many reasons, and it also allows readers to have their voices be heard by the number one book retailer in the world--Amazon.

For readers, the system is pretty simple. Just go to the Kindle Scout page here (or go to kindlescout.amazon.com) and you'll see how it works pretty quickly.  Books that have been accepted into the program are displayed for readers to peruse.  You'll see the cover, a synopsis, and have the opportunity to read the first 5,000 words of the novel.  You can read about the author and see links to his or her other books.

Each reader has a chance to nominate three books at a time. In order for your vote to count, you must have the book nominated on the last day of the campaign, so keep that in mind. If your favorites are selected for publication, you'll actually get a copy for free. If not, you'll still get an email from Amazon when the author publishes the book elsewhere. That's it! Nominate books, get free books, read free books!

You can find out more about Kindle Scout and even watch a short video here on the Kindle Scout About page.

My newest novel, Beneath the Inconstant Moon, will be featured on Kindle Scout from April 7, 2017 until May 7, 2017.  I would love it if you would check it out and give it a nomination if it sounds interesting to you.  If I win, you'll get a free copy! If I lose, you'll get a hilarious email from Amazon letting you know that I am a L-O-S-E-R.  It's a win/win for you, really. ;) Click here to see my Kindle Scout page for Beneath the Inconstant Moon.  Here is the address if the link is not working:
https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/OT9F85ZHLEKL



Whether you vote for my book or not, I hope you'll check out Kindle Scout. How awesome is it that you will have a say in choosing the next best seller?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Kindle Scout program, so please leave a comment and happy reading!




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Using Word's Tracker Feature for Beta Readers

Okay--not the most exciting title, but you get the idea! This blog post will walk you through how to use the Tracker feature of Microsoft Office Word as a beta reader.  As I prepare to send my newest manuscript, Beneath the Inconstant Moon, to eight to ten of my most helpful fans, I want to make sure we all get as much out of the experience as possible. While there are other ways to offer feedback to a writer, using the Tracker feature is a great way to embed comments right into the manuscript where I can read them and then take them to hard (or press the nice little X button!)

The first thing one needs to do is turn the Tracker feature on, which is pretty simple. Just click on the Review tab:

Next, find the "Track Changes" button


Slide it to the "On" position.


You can highlight any sentence that you want to comment on, as I have here.


Use the "New Comment" plus button at the top to add a comment (the very first yellow notepad.) A box will appear to the left. Type your message here.


Once you close the box, your comment will still be visible.


Also, any other changes you may make (like catching my typos!) will be highlighted for me to see as well.


The Tracker feature is a great way for me to get specific feedback while you are reading. Is this sentence too confusing? Let me know!  Something doesn't sound right? You really like a particular word choice? Think something may not be making sense? You can let me know all of that right as you are thinking it so I can better understand the emotions of the readers. Whatever you are thinking, someone else may also have the same thought, so I'd rather hear it from you first!
I so very much appreciate all of my beta readers and all they do to help me in my writing endeavors! Thank you all so very much! And if you are new to my blog and would like to consider becoming a beta reader, please email me at authoridjohnson@gmail.com. Fellow authors, feel free to share this post with your betas!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Beneath the Inconstant Moon--Chapter 1 Excerpt

Beneath the Inconstant Moon is my NaNoWriMo project, and it's just about finished. I've never written anything like this before. Inspired by stories like Shutter Island and The Girl on the Train, I wanted to write a story where the main character could not be trusted! Set in Baltimore in the 1840s, this is a romance novel full of suspense and heartache.  Whether or not Genevieve will have a happy ending is yet to be determined! Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1. Please let me know what you think in the comments or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IDJohnsonAuthor
Thanks for stopping by!



Digital art by Renata Lechner
Photography by Cathleen Tarawhiti
Model - Danielle Lightfoot



Chapter 1

1846
            The ocean seemed to have a temper. It wasn’t calm and serene as it had been just the day before. Rather, the waves were rolling in against the rocks so furiously the whitecaps seemed to bubble as they broke and attempted to reform with the next in succession.  It would not be a good day for her husband to return, not with the sea so angry. It would be better if he waited until tomorrow when perhaps the ire had died down a bit, and the water would welcome him back to solid ground, at last, with the gentleness he so deserved after such a long and tumultuous journey.
            She could only assume it had been tumultuous or else he would have returned by now. He was long past due, having reached the apex of the appointed amount of time many months past. But she knew he would be there any day now, any moment. And that is why she sat sentinel by the window, rarely leaving her post, watching and praying for him to return.
            The view was a bit obstructed, and it seemed that many of the clippers that came in looked similar now that time had passed. There were occasions when she was certain she spied the Mary Ann nearing port, but after waiting hours for her husband to disembark and make his way home, she would be forced to accept that the ship she had been watching must not have been his. And so she continued to watch for hours, craning her head when necessary to get a better view, sometimes late into the night when it was much more difficult to see and exhaustion blurred her eyes. Eventually, she would give up and find her way across the room to her bed, steadfast in her belief that tomorrow would be the day her husband would arrive home.
            It would be horribly boring, maddening even, if it weren’t for her baby to keep her company.  Even now, as she watched the waves toss about and spray the seagulls with salty brine, she glanced down at her sweet angel’s face where he lay sleeping in the bassinet beside her. She reached down to stroke his cheek softly, afraid she might wake him. His blond curls poked out of his snow white bonnet, and he cooed a bit in his sleep. He was such a happy baby, such a peaceful little soul, and she couldn’t wait for her husband to return so that he might hold his son at long last.
            “Madam?” a voice was calling nearby.
She startled, not aware that anyone else had entered her room, and turned to address the woman.  “Oh, please be quiet,” she whispered sharply. “You mustn’t wake the baby.”
The woman drew up her shoulders and took a deep breath.  “Madam, are you done with your dinner plate, or shall I leave this bit for later?” the woman asked through clenched teeth.
She looked at the plate curiously. Had she eaten dinner already? Was it that late in the day? It seemed like it should still be morning.  There wasn’t much left on the plate, only some bread crust and some other unrecognizable scraps. She wasn’t even sure what she may have eaten for dinner, assuming she must have been the one to eat whatever had previously occupied the plate.  She looked up into the impatient eyes of the woman who had the mysterious plate thrust at her in a clenched fist and finally managed, “I’m finished, thank you. That should be all.”
The woman nodded at her sharply, and then offered a small cup to her. “Your medication, madam,” she said, her lips drawn into a straight line.
She looked at the medicine for a moment. She really didn’t like taking it; it made her feel—odd.  “Must I?” she asked with a sigh.
“Come now, Mrs. Edwards,” the woman insisted, forcing it into her hand.  “You know how he gets when you don’t take it. And please don’t cause another uproar. I can’t handle any more of that today.”
She dropped her eyes, and took the medicine, absently wishing the help would stop calling her that name.  She didn’t bother to voice her annoyance again, not after that reminder. Sometimes it was better to just remain silent and endure. Once her husband returned, she wouldn’t have so many hardships to bear.  She took the medicine, swallowed it down, and took a sip of water.
“Very good, madam,” the woman nodded. “I shall be back in a few hours to check on you before bedtime. Is there anything else you require?”
“No, that will be all. Thank you, Scarlet,” she replied.

The hard look was back about her face again as she turned to go, shaking her head and mumbling, “My name is not Scarlet.”