Happy Thanksgiving

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' head next to their book.

Herman is thankful that Gator McBumpypants doesn’t eat flying things.

Gator McBumpypants wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. And to the turkey he says,

I don’t eat flying things if that’s what you’re worried about.

Don’t forget to pick up your free kindle download today to share with the whole family!

And for more fun Gator and Herman now have their own theme song and it is now on their video

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Marketing: A little outside the box.

Gator and Herman's first movie on youtube.com

Gator McBumpypants and Herman’s First Movie is on Gator McBumpypants’ Youtube.com channel.

Since my writing life is completely consumed with promoting Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise this week, I’m jumping off schedule and continuing to talk about promoting your book. I announced my kindle free days everywhere I could think of yesterday, so how do I keep the internet’s attention today?

I stepped away from writing today and explored a couple other art forms. I took some pictures that didn’t get used in the books (book 2 coming soon!) and made a little youtube movie. One of the fun things that you can do with google+ is create a youtube channel. I made one for myself and a separate one called Gator McBumpypants and Friends.

Making the movie in Windows Live Movie Maker was pretty straight forward once I figured out that I could speed up the picture rate by using fractions in the duration box. The hardest part was picking some music since the program didn’t include music editing and just started the music choice from the beginning. Luckily, I have a large library of music I wrote, so I don’t have to infringe on anyone’s copyright.

This first film is just a quick, fun promo. I plan to do more with pages from the book and perhaps reading the first few pages. I’ve seen some really nice book promo videos online. I think video is a great way to get people excited about your book. Check out Michelle R. Eastman’s promo video for The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Andy Mulberry did a really nice interview with Michelle R. Eastman on her blog andymulberry.com/blog

I also went over to RedBubble,com and made some Gator McBumpypants merchandise.

Gator McBumpypants baseball shirt from RedBubble.com

What about a fun T-shirt?

Gator McBumpypants tote bag from RedBubble.com

or a lovely tote bag?

A Gator McBumpypants coffee mug from RedBubble.com.

or enjoy your hot beverages with Gator McBumpypants and his friend Herman the baby pterodactyl.

RedBubble is a great site where I’ve set up a portfolio of my photography. They will put my photos on a variety of merchandise including t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, cards, pillow covers and the adorable items shown here. All would make great gifts! It is also, yet another social media site with a nice journal entry space where I’ve been letting people know about my kindle free days.

So, to sum up, book promotion doesn’t have to be hitting people over the head with your book and free kindle days announcements, it can be fun promotional art projects that then give you an excuse to go post about them on all your social media sites.

Anyone else found promotional ideas that are a bit outside the box?

FREE! – Promoting Kindle Free Days and Diving into Social Media

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' Head

Gator McBumpypants and Herman on an adventure through the internet.

Today is all about announcing my kindle free days to the world! For all you self-published authors who used createspace, or went straight to kindle direct, or are working with amazon in another way, this post is about using your kindle free days the best way possible to let the world know about your book. First, my plug, then I’ll share my advice from everything I’m learning.

Get Your Free Download of Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

In anticipation of the soon to be released second book in the Gator McBumpypants adventures series, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is available as a free download from Today Nov. 24 – Friday Nov. 28.

Don’t have kids? No problem. The beautiful pictures and fun story bring a smile to the kid in anyone.

Don’t have a kindle? Also, not an issue. You can read it in the kindle cloud at amazon, or download free kindle software to all your devices.

After you’ve read it, PLEASE share with friends and take a minute to write a review to tell the world how much you love Gator McBumpypants .

Okay, so now the dirt! When I published Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, I decided to self-publish because I read that breaking into the children’s picture book market was harder than becoming an NFL Football Player. I loved writing Gator McBumpypants and spent almost a year putting it together. My niece was really excited about it and the other children I shared it with were enthralled, so why not self-publish, right? I was ready to see the dollars roll in, so I could spend all of my time taking pictures and writing books.

Though I originally imagined a big, long, hard-cover book, Create Space’s 8″X8″ paperback–that I decided would work best with my original concept–turned out great, and I really like it. So, why haven’t the dollars started pouring in yet? Emails to my friends, my website mbercreations.com, this blog, goodreads and an amazon author page were not enough.

Why not? Because these reached very few people. I love you guys, but I’m still new at this blogging thing and your numbers are at the moment few. Plus, I attract other authors, and many of us don’t have the money to buy each others’ books.

The answer? I had to dive into social media. I had a rather strong relationship with social media before it hit the stock market. Then I got upset that our friendships became a commodity to be traded like fossil fuels and corn, so I removed myself. However, as a self-published author, or any self-employed self-promoter, we need any word of mouth we can get. Most of you are probably way ahead of me here.
So what IS working? Make sure you give yourself at least three days before your planned free days and choose all five free days.. I recommend starting at least a week before. I, of course, did all of this starting last Friday, but mostly Saturday and Sunday ( I did NOT want to do facebook and twitter, but now I’m happy to see my friends and what they’re up to).

Gator McBumpypants on FACEBOOK! – Not that I want to promote it for personal info after all the stories I’ve heard (actual local businesses) of people getting fired (or arrested) because they posted stupid stuff on facebook, but facebook is working to get the word out. I was able to create a separate page for Gator McBumpypants and invite my friends to like it. I can also wander facebook as Gator McBumpypants and like other books and authors.

Gator McBumpypants on Google+ -Though I have yet to see results here, I was able to create a separate Gator McBumpypants page which corresponds to a Youtube channel. I plan to put up little promotional videos throughout the week.
Twitter  – I’m haven’t created enough presence here yet, but I have four more days to figure this out. Please click on this and find me with your 140 character tips on how this works for you. In the meantime, I did find out how to link to my free days in a tweet. The amazon URL is WAY too many characters to put in a tweet. TinyURL.com is a great free service for easily turning that long web address into something that fits into Twitter. I have yet to use a POUND SIGN (=hashtag: isn’t pound sign more sexual, wouldn’t that be more popular? just sayin’.)
eReaderPerks.com – I found a lot of sites that say they will promote your kindle free days. There are many services and blogs that will kindly take your money to promote for you, but the majority were not geared toward my needs. Out of more than 50 sites, I found ten that were free and didn’t need more 5 star reviews than I had.  The ten I submitted to were:

FreeBooks.com

Indiebookoftheday.com

Freebookdude.com

Ereaderutopia.com

Bookangel

eBookLister.net

eReaderPerks

Freebies4mom

Jungledeals&steals

Onehundredfreeebooks

The only one that listed my free kindle download was eReaderPerks.com. They listed it as an “Activity Book” which makes no sense, but they listed it. As a friend of mine said, “Reading is an activity” and I agree, but then all the books should have been listed as Activity books, right? I did only give them two days prep, and my give-away goes until Friday, so there’s still hope. I’ll come back to this list throughout the week if any others post my free download.

Other sites: Think about all of the sites you interact with on the web. These days, almost every site has some sort of social aspect. As I started my announcements this morning, I kept coming up with more places to put them. I’m part of a writer’s meet-up that has a page for announcements and my neighborhood has a nextdoor.com site that has a free stuff page. I have an old MySpace page that, though it confused me and seems to be owned by Google now, still has my original music on it, so I posted there too. Why not?

I still have much to explore. Pinterest? Reddit? Instagram? Flickr?

Results? From looking at the stats at kdp.amazon.com, I’ve gone from no activity to 17 downloads, just today and I have a new review.

My first day results are very exciting! Because I used all five free days, I have time to work on my platform and connecting all my sites to motivate more people to read my book throughout the week. Hopefully, people will be sharing Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise with their families for Turkey Day/Thanksgiving and buying the sequel for Christmas and Winter Holidays. I will be truly Thankful!

Finishing – Making a Picture Book

Gator McBumpypants and Herman in the shady placeContinuing with my theme of finishing what I begin, I’ve been spending most of my time finishing the picture book I started in January. At the moment, I sit in the 24 hour waiting period of review from Create Space (Amazon) before I can get to work on my ebook. While I wait, I thought I’d give you some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

1. PATIENCE– Be patient and multi-task. Unlike what the rate of celebrity picture book publications might make you think, making a picture book is hard and incredibly time consuming. You have to love your idea and see it through while you work on two, three or four other things. The pictures for my book, influenced the story, which then influenced the pictures I took. Over time my ability to photograph my story improved which made me take more illustrative pictures. If I had rushed the process, my characters wouldn’t have had time to come alive.

2. Make your book  for a child who wants it (can be you).  I think it would have taken much longer to finish, or maybe I wouldn’t have finished at all, without my niece wanting her finished copy. She gave me perceptive feedback on my pictures and shared the pictures with her younger cousin, telling the story in her own way, which was the best feedback ever (though I’m still a little confused where some of her story fit with the pictures).

3. Know your Tools – If patience and inspiration weren’t so important, I would have put this first. It is my own fault this keeps taking so long. Sometimes when I work this hard, it seems like the majority of Western Society instantly found ways to buy all of the newest technology, and left me out. It took every tool I had to make my picture book, including gifts from every loved one since 2006. But I did it, so I want to share the things that hung me up. I started being frustrated by the difference between what I saw on the screen (RGB) and what my printer printed (CMYK). I spent a lot of time trying to make my Microsoft laptop video card adjust to match the printed images, but that was awful. I have a Mac with Photoshop CS. I got everything I needed from Photoshop CS and learned what I needed from youtube videos. I have many specific pointers based on specific technical issues, but I will save them for when my book is successfully printed.

4. A Book Is Forever – I started this project with the idea that I wanted to see what the pictures of my stuffed animals exploring my world would look like. Now, I’ve made a children’s picture book and I realize I have to take responsibility for my creation. As I face the final stages of self publishing and prepare to release it into the world, I hear my nagging inner voice say Are You Ready? Are you doing your best?

Just last week my mom called saying she found a box of children’s books in my old room. I think, but don’t trust, I put them there on purpose long ago. She wanted to know if I’d mind if she give them to my niece and nephews. I loved the idea. I pictured paperbacks of the Ramona series and some Judy Blume. I remembered reading the entire series of the Rescuers mice on an airplane and Ralph the motorcycle mouse at camp. But then I also saw me reading Dickens, Jaws and A Clockwork Orange. I raided  Dad’s desk to find real books to read. I wasn’t allowed in Dad’s den, and I didn’t sleep so well. I convinced Mom to look through the box, just in case. She found Ramona books and Ralph on his Motorcycle. Talking about them made me want those books back. Maybe when the kids are done reading them, they’ll let me borrow a few. I hope my efforts bring similar joyful reading experiences as the books in that box brought me.