5 Sites to Promote Your book on a Shoestring Budget

shoestringbudget

graphic from http://edgewatertech.files.wordpress.com/ 2009/03/2955706736_a31585470e.jpg

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When it comes to promoting your book, you have to spend money to make money.

How many of you have been told that?

The first time I heard it, my heart filled with desolation. I live in the real world where disposable income is as rare as the unicorn–in other words, it doesn’t exist. What chance do I have of being successful with my marketing endeavours without the coin to back it?

The answer is: I don’t know. My book is relatively new (just over a month old at the time of my writing this) and it’s really too soon to tell. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share some of the places I’ve found online that allow me to advertise my book for free. Here are the 5 sites that top my list so far.

Indies Unlimited

The vetting process on this site is incredibly helpful. I submitted my novel for their free promotion. About 6 weeks later, the site contacted me with an excellent critique of my book description as well as suggestions on how to improve it. I made the corrections and received a second critique and even more suggestions–all for free! As far as I’m concerned, this site is indie author gold, for that reason alone.

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Online PR News

This site provides a free place to post and distribute a press release. You have to write the press release yourself, but this is an excellent opportunity to reach people to which you might not otherwise have access.

[Tweet “@PRnews reaches people U otherwise might not. 5 Sites to Promote Your Book on Shoestring Budget”]

New Book Journal

Free author announcements for anything author related. Announce your book release or a book signing…the possibilities are endless.

[Tweet “@R_K_Alan & New Book Journal 4 author related stuff. 5 Sites to Promote UR Book on Shoestring”]

Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

This website posts a list of new Sci Fi releases each week. I sent an email to the site administrator asking if my book could be included in the next list and he was happy to oblige. This taught me never to be afraid to send a query to anything online I’d like to be a part of. The worst that could happen is my request will either be ignored or rejected. To my surprise, that rarely happens.

[Tweet “@AISFPodcast lists new sci fi releases every week. 5 Sites to Promote UR Book on Shoestring Budget”]

My Book Addiction’s zOctober Event

I read about zOctober on a news feed site I frequent and sent an email and was accepted right away. I am posting a “Mad Lib” style puzzle and a short story on My Book Addiction’s site in October. Great publicity for my book and my brand, all of it absolutely free!

[Tweet “@Toni_BookAddict sponsors #zOctober 5 Ways to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget”]

That’s my list so far, opaline pearls in a sea of seemingly barren oysters.  Do you have any other hidden gems you are willing to share? Post them here and I’ll feature them on my next post with a link to your online pages–another great, free place to publicize!

Announcing the completion of “I Was, Am, Will Be Alice”!

Graphic by Parker Knight, "Family 1353" under Creative Commons

Graphic by Parker Knight, “Family 1353” under Creative Commons

Announcing…

Hot on the heels of The Revenant‘s release I am thrilled to announce the completion of my next YA novel, I Was, Am Will Be Alice.

After narrowly escaping death in a school shooting, 8 year old Alice Carroll realizes she can time travel when under extreme stress, a situation she is determined to learn to control in order to go back to that day and save the lives of her teacher and classmates and discover the identity of the woman who sacrificed her life so Alice could live.

My Inspiration

I began writing Alice when, while shopping for agents and publishers for The Revenant, I found a call for clients for a new agent on Chuck Sambuchino’s excellent “Writer’s Digest” blog. This particular agent said she would love to read a young adult version of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (TTW). I absolutely love TTW, and adopted her request as a personal challenge. I began with a similar premise: what if someone, a young girl, discovered she had the ability to time travel? In Niffenegger’s novel, the main character, Henry, keeps returning to his first episode of time travel, when he was in a car accident with his mother. Henry survived because he time traveled out of the car avoiding the crash which killed his mother. In my novel, Alice’s defining moment is being caught in a school shooting in grade three in which her favourite teacher killed. There is a romance and an episode with frostbite, too, but that’s where the similarities end.

The name Alice Carroll comes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I appropriated that name for my character early in the writing because the more I wrote, the weirder the character’s predicament until it was almost like she’d entered a bizarre world where nothing made sense to her any more. Why did she survive when others perished? Why did she time travel? What kind of future could she possibly make for herself? Would she ever learn to control it? Why did the shooting happen? Could she find a way to save her teacher? These questions, and more, confuse my Alice, much like Wonderland confused Carroll’s. To drive the parallel home, I borrowed other names from Wonderland to draw further connections.

Though a mouthful, the title for the book comes from something Henry says in TTW:

I love. I have loved. I will love.

I liked the juxtaposition of the different tenses and adapted this for my novel. Late in the writing I decided to use the title, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice, as subtitles and divide the book into sections. I Was Alice describes Alice of the past, when she discovers she can time travel and is traumatized by it. I Am Alice describes Alice of the present, when she realizes she can’t continue randomly traveling through time for the rest of her life and she decides to do something about it. I Will Be Alice describes Alice of the future, after her life comes full circle and she returns back to the day of the shooting and learns answers to some of the questions that have plagued her for most of her life.

Looking for Support

I am reaching out to the reading and writing community to look for “beta readers” and help printing and publicizing my YA sci-fi time-travel romance novel when the time comes.

If you would like to volunteer as a beta reader–finding errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and consistency in story and possibly writing a review further into the process–please contact me at info @ eliseabram.com

[Tweet “Attention beta readers and reviewers – request your copy of I AM, WAS, WILL BE ALICE info@eliseabram.com”]

If you would like to donate to support my project, you may do so by visiting my PubSlush page at eliseabram.pubslush.com. I am giving away an eBook to all $20 donors and a hard copy, autographed, to all $50 donors (please note an additional $10 is required for international shipping outside of Canada). If you donate over $75, I will also throw in a free study guide in full colour, available as a PDF and/or printed copy sent along with your novel.

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All donors will receive a mention in the acknowledgements section of the final, printed novel (eBook and hard copy).

If a tree falls in the forest…?

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If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound? Does anyone care that it’s fallen? More precisely, if I complete a manuscript, publish it, and no one reads it, can I still call myself a published author? 

That sounds weird: me; a published author. It took a lot for me to admit I aspired to be an author, as I thought it would be viewed as a frivolous pursuit. I think it was because I was pushed hard growing up to do the right thing to become independent and successful. I pursued archaeology as a career instead, something I loved and which my mother supported, my father didn’t understand and my grandfather ridiculed. Yes, ridiculed. “Find any gold, yet?” he used to joke every time he saw me. I wish I could chalk it  up to old world mentality, that archaeology, the search by those in the present seeking to understand those in the past is lost on those who have lived through it, but my grandfather was second generation Canadian and probably younger than my mother is now (i.e., not that old). My father, an avid reader of the newspaper, cover to cover, each and every night, with his grade 9 education and demeanor too weak to tell my grandfather that he should demonstrate pride in lieu of derision for his granddaughter’s accomplishments, ironically would have understood.  Though not a fan if fiction, he would have supported my endeavour, recognized it as a noble pursuit (much in the same way I marvel at my son’s artistic ability, as something I could never, no matter how many lessons or how much effort, could duplicate). With the eye for detail he’d groomed over years spent in the printing industry, he’d have made me excellent proofreader.

It turns out, people actually believe writing, publishing, is a noble pursuit. I had an interesting discussion with my cousin, just last week that demonstrated this for me. He’d asked how my book was selling. I told him I was selling copies at the rate of about one a month. He’d picked up on my disappointment and told me that, nevertheless, I had sold copies and I could call myself a published author which was more than most could say. I reminded him that I’d self-published and anyone could do that. He reminded me that few people did and he pointed out I was the only one he knew who did. I also think about my mother and how she practically begged me to get her a print copy. I reminded her that she would be better suited to an e-book with which she could adjust the text size until so she could actually read it. I don’t think she was happy about my suggestion, but she agreed. Tell people you’ve published an e-book and they congratulate you; show them the physical book and they’re impressed. Show to make an impression; don’t tell—what author hasn’t heard that old saw?

As for me, I continue to write for the same reason I continue to teach, for the same reason I cling to my lottery fantasy of leaving it all to run an archaeology camp in the backyard of an old Victorian  somewhere in the city—because it’s my passion. Always has been, for as long as I can remember (except for the lottery fantasy which has only been around for 20 years or so). I continue to cling to the “if you build it, they will come” school of thought—if I continue to write,  publish,  and publicize,  like Shoeless Joe and his teammates and fans, the readers will eventually come.

In droves.

About the Author
Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

Download PHASE SHIFT for the price of a tweet. Visit http://www.eliseabram.com, click on the button, tweet or Facebook about my novel and download it for FREE!

Graphic taken from http://writers-write-creative-blog.posterous.com/quotable-donna-tartt

Mr. Gold and the Five Facts of Fiction

Believe it or not, I return to teaching less than two weeks from now. I am currently spending my days modifying last year’s lesson plans, working on my latest manuscript, and re-watching season 1 of Once Upon a Time.

The lesson I am currently revising is on character. I found this amazing worksheet online by Steve Peha (http://www.ttms.org) that I use in class called “Five Facts of Fiction” in which students brainstorm the physical, emotional, social, philosophical and intellectual traits of a character, explore what the character wants and whether or not s/he gets it, how the character changes throughout the story and the world in which the story takes place. The task is to complete this worksheet for a character with whom the students are already familiar, either from fiction or the popular media (i.e., television or movies). So of course, I chose Robert Carlyle’s excellent portrayal of Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin with which to complete an exemplar. I won’t bore you with the worksheet notes, but here is the character sketch I wrote as a result of the exercise.

Gold dusted the holdings of his pawn shop tenderly, memories of days gone by, each of them reminiscent of a deal he’d made in that other place. It was cold there, metaphorically speaking, had become so the day he abandoned the army and returned to his village the only survivor of his troop. Fools. They’d dubbed him the resident coward then, but no one could have understood his fear, not unless they’d been there. Back then only the men went to fight in The Ogre Wars and few returned from battle. Then they took the women as well. Then the children.

                Bae.

                His mind returned to his own son whom he’d help escape that world. Better separate and reunited somewhere and somewhen than send him like a lamb to the slaughter.

              That reunion was still forthcoming.

                Gold sighed. He laid the feather duster down and retreated to the back room where his spinning wheel resided and began to spin. Here, in this place without magic, even his spinning was impotent. Here he spun sheep’s wool to yarn; back home he spun straw to gold. Spinning helped to calm his nerves and made him a rich man, but he was nevertheless very lonely.

He’d been happy once. Looking for someone to tend his castle, he’d taken Belle, saving her from enlisting in a loveless marriage, only to find he had feelings for her. When she kissed him, he felt his power threatened and believed her to be an emissary of the Evil Queen and sent her out. He’d heard she returned to her father’s home where she’d been shunned and eventually taken her own life. Here, in Storybrooke, Gold had beaten the man, hoping to hear the truth from his own lips, that Belle was still alive and, like Bae, out there somewhere, somewhen, but to no avail.

               The wheel stopped momentarily as Gold closed his eyes and tried to visualize her face. She was beautiful. Too beautiful to fall for the likes of him without an ulterior motive, he felt sure. Yet he still held onto a strand of hope, a strand as thin and delicate as the gold he favoured spinning from straw. He resumed his spinning. In Fairytaleland, after accepting the power of The Dark One, he was a powerful man, both feared and respected. It was the same in Storybrooke as well. He had fear and respect. What he didn’t have was love, but it was coming, of that he was sure. One day, he would bring magic to Storybrooke and then, when he had regained the power of The Dark One, he would show them all, Regina, her “Royal” majesty, most of all. When that day came, he would find Bae and Belle, and the three of them would live their lives out as the resident royals of Storybrooke, Maine.

                One day he would find his own happy ending.

                One day soon.