2014 is going to be our year to shine!

As we prepare to start a new year, I thought a crash course in my inky efforts might be useful. As I’m sure you know, one of the primary goals of Ink & Alchemy and More Ink is provide a place for writers and artists to network and show off their stuff. Another of my goals is to teach by example. I work diligently on my platform and hope that by doing so, each of you will pick up some useful ideas for strengthening your own platform.

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As I reflect on 2013 and consider how to improve I&A and MI in 2014, one fact keeps swimming to the surface. We haven’t used this platform as effectively and consistently as we could have. Much of this is my fault and I have an incredible number of ideas floating around in my brain aimed at improving in the future.

I don’t mean to point fingers here, but some of this is also your fault.
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There are many ways that you can take advantage of the free marketing I’m offering, but many people don’t. This surprises me. People are downright desperate to get their work out there, and I don’t blame them a bit. So am I. The market is tough and it’s hard to make yourself heard above the roar of the crowd.

This blog post is a friendly reminder of myriad of ways that you can take advantage of the promotional opportunities that I offer in the upcoming year. Let’s work together so that we’re more successful than ever before.

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  • My website has lots of free resources, including lists of recommended sites and a reading list, links to help you promote your ebook during your free KDP days, and a PDF describing the basics of building your social media platform.
  • I offer Featured Artist and Featured Writer programs. Submit your work. There is no cost to you and the bottom line is increased exposure for your work. Use these enthusiastically. When I feature you, you should re-post that link far and wide and comment when you can. Leverage every single bit of exposure for all it’s worth.
  • A tip about features: I do my best to give everyone a fair shake, but the bottom line is that if you regularly frequent the page, interact with others, or share my links, you’ll likely get featured more often. Reciprocity. It’s just the way it works.
  • If you have an upcoming event (book release or signing, exhibition opening, etc.), send me the info. I’ll do my best to post it throughout my platform. You can increase your odds of being promoted by sending me a well-formatted blurb complete with links and an image. Copy, paste! How much easier can it get?
  • Along the same lines at the previous bullet – I offer guest blogging or features on a regular basis but people seldom participate. This is a win-win. Fresh content for me that I didn’t work very hard to get and content for you that you can smear all over cyberspace. You can wax poetic about how incredible you are and blame it on me if you like! Just send me a piece that is publication-worthy (with links and images). Please, please, I beg you – do not send me poorly spelled and punctuated ramblings. Because I’m basically a nice person, I spent way too much time correcting and editing this kind of thing in 2013. New year, new rules. In 2014, I will do light editing, but I don’t have the time to re-write submissions.
  • Sometimes people apply to be featured and then shoot themselves in the foot. You really need to have a website or at least a FB or blog page that is regularly updated. I can’t promote what doesn’t exist. If you’re still starting out and building your platform, consider submitting a guest blog. See previous bullet.
  • I’ll admit that I like to control the content at Ink & Alchemy. It’s kind of my baby and I’m a little protective of it. Every once in a while, I open it up for link sharing (like today RIGHT NOW), but for the most part, I curate this page. More Ink is another story. You may feel free to post useful links, events, and anything else you think will energize us to greater creativity! Think of More Ink as ourpage, yours and mine. If you’re a part of Ink & Alchemy, you should probably also frequent More Ink. It’s a less formal, more open forum and I’d love to have you!
  • My platform reaches far and wide and isn’t just limited to the FB pages. Try to branch out in the upcoming year and use a new medium. How about Vimeo, Behance, or Tumblr?

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If I were going to summarize what I think successful promotion looks like, I’d say this:

Consistency

Content

Reciprocity

Cross-linking

What do I mean by cross-linking? Imagine that networking is…well, a gigantic net. Every single interaction that you have in cyberspace is tiny potential thread in the larger mesh. You can’t build a strong, reliable network by rushing or using a shortcut. It’s not quick because you have to earn the trust of your followers. Every little thread should be carefully placed and secured. How can you do this? The best approach is to consistently post quality content. Regularly interact with others. Be patient. Be genuine. Your network will build itself slowly. I’ve talked about this in many other places (like here, here, and here), so I’ll spare you the details.

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I encourage you to take your platform seriously. Take action in 2014. Come up with a plan and hold yourself accountable. I recently started a new series designed to help you become a (social media) badass. My plan is to post practical, useful actions throughout the year that you can take to learn how to better manage your platform. Try it and let me know how it works.
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Join my mailing list or check out the archives. You’ll find lots of links and information to help you with promotion.
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This art knocks your eyeballs around a bit, doesn’t it? I adore the work of Jaeyeol Han. He’s a Korean artist who works primarily in oil bar on canvas and is part of the I&A Featured Artist Program.Pay him a visit at his website by clicking here or on any of the images in this post.

Need a creative kick in the ass? 

Pop over for a quick art or lit fix.

P.S. Wanna hear something fabulous? Sheila Cameron has made my day. She is one of my favorite artists (not to mention just a terrific and kind-hearted person) and has created a very special discount today in celebration of Ink & Alchemy.  I am beyond honored.Go to her Etsy store and enter coupon code: INKANDALCHEMY for 20% off. But you’d better hurry, because I’m heading over now and I can’t guarantee that I’ll leave anything for you.

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More lessons in self-publishing

Today, I learned yet another lesson in self-publishing and I’m going to share it with you. As you may know, KDP Select allows a five-day free promotion period for ebooks. You can schedule it whenever you like using the Manage Promotions link from your Bookshelf. I’ve been extraordinarily busy and my three month term has almost flown by so when I realized this today, I decided to pull the trigger on the 5-day promo. Easy and simple to do.

Then I realized that as with everything else in self -publishing, the key was promoting it. Why would I want to give away free ebooks, you ask? Mostly because I hope to generate interest in the book and garner more honest reviews on my Amazon and Goodreads pages. I approach the book promotion process exactly the same way as I manage my social media platform – I seek to slowly and intentionally build a strong network of followers. I try to effectively utilize every tool available to me. I give more than I expect to get.

So…how to maximize my 5-free days? I found some places to promote free books and I quickly realized that last minute isn’t the best way to do this. Next time, I’ll plan better. It might sound like a lot of work, but I suggest that about a month before you plan to offer your ebook for free on Amazon, you do some research and sketch out a general marketing plan.

There are lots of places which will accept your submission and add your book to their sites and feeds, but the rules vary from site to site. Some require that you submit 14-days ahead of time while others will not even accept your submission until the free offer is live on KDP. Some have very strict guidelines about genre, content,  number of reviews, and the score of your reviews. For instance, I ran across several places which would only accept a submission if your book has a review score of greater than 4 based on a set number of reviewers.

I’ll leave you with some ebook promotion links and the suggestion that you plan ahead for your free book promo with KDP. Also, don’t forget to utilize every other social media channel available to you – Twitter, Tumblr, FB, etc.

The good news is that as soon as I began submitting, I started to see my number of downloads climb. It works.

The above list is just a starting point. A simple Google search will yield hundreds of sites willing to promote your free ebook. Pay close attention to their rule and guidelines. Don’t waste your time (or theirs) submitting to those which aren’t suitable for your ebook.

The art in this post was created by Tessa Pearson, one of Ink & Alchemy’s Featured Artists. Click any of the pieces to go to her website. If you have art or writing that you want to share with the world, consider submitting to me. Click here to access the form.

Love & lit,

Robin

Writer promotion in exchange for honest reviews

I am seeking honest reviews for a recently published collection of midwestern-noir short stories. In exchange for your review posted at Amazon and Goodreads, I will add you to my Featured Writers program and promote your work or site throughout my platform now and in the future. You’ll find details about the program on my website. If interested, submit the form and note that you are requesting a review copy of my manuscript and I’ll provide it by email.

Thank you!

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Geisha in hiding

Submissions have ended.

The winner is Carin Cullen and this painting is now officially called “geisha in hiding”.

Congrats, Carin! Keep your eye on the post because I’ll be sending off your prize package on Monday. It’s already packed and I think you’re gonna like it!

There were so many terrific entries that it was difficult to choose. We’ll do this again soon – thanks for participating.

-Robin