Monday, July 28, 2014

How did I become a brand?

In my quest to learn more about marketing, the topic of author branding has come up quite a bit. 

What is that? Well, I'm still working that out myself, but the basic answer is... it's not marketing a "book," it's marketing the author. You want to be the "go to" person readers think of when they consider books in your genre.


For example, who comes to mind right off the bat when you think of YA Fantasy? 

JK Rowling would be my answer. And what do I think of when I consider what the name JK Rowling means? It's not just Harry Potter and Hogwarts. It's the fact that she is the creator of a fantasy world an entire generation knows, and half believe exists. She is THE YA fantasy icon of the past several decade because her books made an impact on people with their creativity and uniqueness. Everyone knows her name and what she writes and they have an emotional connection to the "idea" of JK Rowling. That's the concept of author branding. 

So, how do you achieve author branding without becoming a super star like Rowling? First step first. Figure out who you are, or who you want to be to your readers. 

Who am I? That's a whole discussion in itself, but let's get the basics down before delving into childhood scars and dramatic backstories. 

I am crafty. 

Not in the tricksy and deceptive sense, but literally crafty. I love to sew and draw and paint and make ribbon bookmarks and design and be creative. 

How does this apply to branding?

I do a lot of my own cover art, promo pics, blog and website design. I have an eye for detail and I try to put that to use by making my appearance online consistent. I also love to share my hobbies with my readers. It's a fun way for me to get them engaged in the behind the scenes work that goes into publishing. I'm also always willing to help other authors when they need graphic work done, bookmarks designed, or what have you. 

Consistency is important in branding. If this sort of thing isn't your strongest area, find someone to help you decide on fonts, colors, layout, and tone for your online presence that will help give readers a sense of who you are. Are you fun and silly or dark and serious? Personally, I use a lot of pinks and fun fonts. I use pictures of me smiling and try to keep my bio light and personal. I want to be approachable, but that may not be the persona that's right for a different author. I also put a lot of creativity into my book concepts, and I love sharing that with readers. 

I am girly and romantic. 

I think I might have mentioned my love of pinks a moment ago :) I love bright colors. My favorite is actually orange, not pink, but orange can be a bit overbearing if used too much. I also love flowers and upbeat music, though I have a decent collection of darker songs that come in handy when writing certain books. I adore a good romance. If a book doesn't make an emotional connection with me as a reader, I consider it to have something missing. 

How does this apply to branding?

I want readers to know what to expect when they pick up a books even if they haven't read the summary on the back. Am I going to write about grisly murders and explicit sex and use a bazillion swear words while I do it? No. Of course, my Someone Wicked series is considerably darker than most of my other work, but I do give ample warning of that. The majority of my books, though they contain serious topics at times, are fun and light and filled with emotion and adventure and romance. Even when it comes to the Wicked books, they aren't the kind of books you will put down and feel depressed when you finish. That's not my style at all. I write about overcoming limits and finding your inner strength and proving all your doubters wrong. I set that tone on my various social media outlets, marketing material, and reader interactions. I leave the suave mysteriousness to other authors who have reason to put out that kind of persona. 

I love surprises. 

I love being surprised, and I love surprising people. For those who have read any of my books, you already know this about me, thanks to all the twists and turns I throw out. Having things stay stagnant drives me crazy, so keeping things fresh is important to me. 

How does this apply to branding? 

Not only do I love playing games with my readers, like having them guess the names of certain characters or who said what in a quote I post, I try to keep things interesting by having a variety of things to talk about when I post online, and not dominating the conversation with one book or one thought. 

It's also important to keep things up to date. Recently, I redid my website so keeping it up to date would be easier for me. I also post regularly on my blog with interesting topics and news about my books. I don't want to be the kind of author that has one idea or one book and nothing else to talk about. I want to be the author readers get excited about because I always have something new, whether that be a book, a fun idea, or just something interesting to talk about. 

I am not one-dimensional. 

There isn't just one thing I'm passionate about. I love being outdoors with my family, I love taking pictures of flowers, I enjoy cooking even if I'm not the best chef, and I try really hard to be a gardener regardless of the fact that I am terrible at it. Building self-confidence in kids is important to me. I hate the idea of anyone being made to feel like they are less than they really are. 

How does this apply to branding? 

I'm not a picture and a bio. I'm a person, with a family and a life outside of books. I'm not a flat image. My characters aren't flat. My stories aren't flat. I write with a lot of emotion, and I want readers to understand that who I am influences my writing. If I am an interesting, fun, entertaining person when I interact with people online or offline, then readers will want to pick up something I wrote, because they'll know without me having to tell them that my stories will be engaging and fun and captivating. Getting to know an author should make readers want to pick up their books, not because they think you are the next literary genius just because you told the most witty joke at an event they attended, but because something in your interaction with them sparked a desire to know more. Curiosity, it will get them every time ;)

I am creative and romantic and surprising and multifaceted... 

and so are my books. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Emotional Letdown of Finishing a Book

Finally finishing a book is like digging into a Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt bar, right? 

Okay, some people might substitute champagne here, but I don't drink, so I reach for my favorite chocolate, but that's not really the point. The point is... IT'S NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL! 

Now, every writer is different, but for me, after that ten minutes of celebration that I FINALLY finished the book that had been killing me, screaming at me, begging me to finish... that's when the total emotional letdown hits. 

What am I talking about? 

When you are writing a book, you become so emotionally invested in the characters that they become your family. You worry about them when you're not writing. It might be worry that they'll survive whatever harrowing situation you just shoved them into -- because seriously, sometimes the author doesn't even know know! -- or if they're going to cause trouble while you're gone -- because, again, that happens ALL THE TIME!! (cough, cough...Oscar)

You also miss talking to them when you walk away from the computer, because sometimes your characters are the only ones who really seem to understand you. They're part of you, they know what's rumbling around inside your head, and it's kinda comforting to know your story is as real to them as it is to you. Not that that really makes sense because they're all fake, but, well... you know what I mean, right? 

You've spent months, maybe even years, living in your characters world, building their lives bit by bit, and trying to guide them to their ultimate salvation... or death... you know, depending on which character we're talking about ;) You have spent a good deal of waking and sleeping hours devoted to their existence. 

And then... suddenly it's all over. 

What do you do with all your free time after typing THE END? Who do you worry about when all the member of your real life family and friends are all safely tucked away in their day to day lives? Who do you try to guide, or help figure out how to escape a near death experience, or piece back together when everything comes crushing down around their ankles? You are left with an emotional vacuum that makes you sit on your couch thinking, "Should I open the book back up, or should I get my daily dose of Sam and Dean?" 

Sam and Dean certainly are tempting, but letting go of the book you just closed the pages on isn't that easy. Even when you know it's now in the hands of your trusted beta readers who are going to tell you everything that needs fixed or that you totally forgot to follow up on, opening it back up and taking a peek at it, just for a minute, is SO hard to resist. 

You could move on to a new book, but that feels like some kind of twisted cheating, like your characters are watching you, thinking, "Wait, what about us? You know you're not done yet!" You feel a little lost, to be perfectly honest. At least I do. BUT, I know starting in on editing (which I hate) is silly until I hear back from my betas. 

So, what am I doing to patch up the emotional let down I feel every time I finish a book? 

Watching a little Supernatural, of course. Sam and Dean can pretty much fix anything. Ghost and demons need not be present for effectiveness ;)

And in a few days, I will start on book 4, because I am mean and I left book 3 totally hanging off the edge of a cliff ;)

What do you turn to when you need an emotional boost? 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Writers: Gail Wagner

Today I'm super excited to welcome a good friend of mine, author Gail Wagner!

Once upon a time, there was girl who lived to read…wait, I meant loved. J  Her family was the type that family time meant all sitting in the same room together while reading different books.  She walked the school hallways with her nose stuck in a book because she had to finish the next chapter before class started.  She read so many books she got to put her name in a drawing over a hundred times and actually won a set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books (she never won anything).  She enjoyed most of the required reading in school.  She even became best friends with a girl in high school simply because of their mutual affection for Little Women (don’t judge, friendships have formed on less stable foundations).

Okay, clearly that girl is me.  Books were my escape from reality, not that my reality was bad. I don’t have any sob stories about how horrible my family was or how I was bullied in school.  Honestly?  I kind of just flew under everyone’s radar.  I had good grades, okay great and the rest of my class may have been a little surprised when I ranked number one.  I was in choir but only did one solo, simply because I have such bad stage fright I thought I might pass out while I whispered the second verse of Silent Night (thank heavens for microphones!).

I spent most of my childhood dreaming of being an actress or a singer.  Kind of funny after that sentence before, huh?  Unfortunately I have zero talent for acting (unless lying counts…I’m a great liar but don’t worry I try to use my powers for good, like surprise parties!).  I’m a fair singer but without the willingness to wear skimpy outfits and dance on stage that pretty much killed my pop career before it started…not to mention the whole passing out in front of a crowd thing.

Writing never crossed my mind.  My oldest sister was going to do that.  She’d made it quite clear to her twin
and I that were we ever to publish before her she would kill us in our sleep.  21 years older than me, I knew her well enough to know she was fairly serious (I love my sister!).  Oh she wouldn’t actually kill me, but she sure would make me miserable.  I didn’t think it would be a problem though.  I was so not interested in writing.

Flash forward several years.  My sister has passed away from a type of brain cancer I can’t pronounce let alone spell and I have one published book, one agented series and several more WIPs.  I didn’t start writing till she’d been gone for a couple of years and maybe it was her that put the bug in my ear…that or my husband telling me to quit whining about all the vampire/werewolf Twilight rip-offs and write my own book.  I’d like to think that after her initial reaction of wanting to kill me for getting published when she never got to, she’s my biggest cheerleader. 

However it happened, I’m so glad it did.  I’ve met amazing people and gotten to do some pretty awesome stuff because of it. 

 Follow Gail here: 

Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt

It's Time to play! Who's read for the Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt!

The Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt will run from TODAY until midnight on SUNDAY (19th July). To enter to win FORTY signed paperbacks by a wide range of authors PLUS $30 worth of Amazon Gift Cards, simply hop around ALL participating stops, collect all of the highlighted numbers, add them together, and then go enter the requested details along with your calculated answer in the ENTRY FORM. You can find more information on how the stop works HERE. All stops will direct you to the next place to hop across to. And don’t worry if you get lost, because the entire list of participating authors can be found HERE.

Top 5 Summer Reads (according to me)

Sign of the Throne by Melissa Eskue Ousley. 

Winner of a 2014 Eric Hoffer Award
Abby is haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as the babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby's life changes forever.

The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker

Cherry blossom lipstick: check
Smokey eyes: check
Skinny jeans: check
Dead kid in the mirror: check

For sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway, this is her normal everyday routine. She's been able to see ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old. No way does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard enough without being labeled a freak too.

Normally, she just ignores the ghosts and they go away. That is until she see's the ghost of her foster sister... 

Arcadia's Curse by Jesi Lea Ryan

Most people who experience death don’t live to tell about it. 

When sixteen year old Arcadia “Cady” Day wakes in a hospital after experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, she finds her family in tatters. With her twin sister gone, her dad moved out, her mom’s spiraling depression and her sister’s boyfriend, Cane, barely able to look at her, the only bright spot in her life is Bryan Sullivan, the new guy in school. When Bryan’s around, Cady can almost pretend she’s a regular girl, living a regular life; when he’s not, she’s wracked with wild, inexplicable mood swings. As her home life crumbles and her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning…

Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastriech

Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.

War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in MoisehĂ©n. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered. 

Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.

What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.

The Awakener by Amanda Strong

Seeing Micah for the first time in years, Eden wants nothing more than to run and hide. Tall and handsome, Micah is no longer the scrawny kid she remembers. Eden tries to slip by him unnoticed but unfortunately, her body acts on its own accord. In a moment of sheer embarrassment, she throws her arms around his neck, unaware she's just changed her childhood friend forever. 

With angels and demons fighting around them in a battle that began long ago in the ancient City of Enoch, both Eden and Micah must find their own personal courage in order to triumph. ... For if they fail, they could lose everyone they love.

And... just because, here's one more :) 

Curiosity Killed the Crow by Gail Wagner

When Avalon Gregory left for a summer archaeology program, she got more history than she bargained for.  After an unfortunate accident she is thrust into an ancient battle.  Surrounded by enemies, human and non, she must finish what was started almost a millennium ago or die trying.

Giveaway #2

Courtesy of the lovely Autumn Kalquist!

Autmun is offering up an eBook copy of her novel, LEGACY CODE!

Enter to win on the Rafflecopter Widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's My Number? 

All the scavenger hunt stops are assigned a number, and you need all the numbers to enter the giveaway. Don't forget to add this one! 


Where do you go next? 

Next stop is the blog of...

Aimee Laine

Or, if you have all of your numbers and are ready to enter, then hop across to the Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt Entry Form.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blogging is Dead

I've heard the same question being asked by quite a few authors lately... Is there any point in having an author blog anymore? 

I was surprised by the answers many of these authors were getting from other authors. 


What reasons do these advice give use to back up their reasoning? 

1) The blogsphere is oversaturated. 

2) Readers will go to a website over a blog. 

3) Blogs don't help sell books. 

4) It takes time away from writing books. 

These were their main arguments, and there seemed to be a good deal of backing from other authors, but I don't agree. 

The Blogosphere is Oversaturated

1) There are a bazillion blogs out there, yes, but is there a blog out there dedicated to talking about you and your books? If there is... yeah for you! Most likely, though, there isn't. Introducing your characters to the world, telling about your writing process, sharing crazy adventures in publishing... those fall to you and you alone. 

Readers Will Go to a Website Over a Blog

2) Readers go to websites to look up an author's book ordering. Trust me, when I was redoing my website, a got a whole slew of requests that I make sure my books are listed IN ORDER. Aside from that, what else does your website tell readers? They can get the synopsis for your books, your bio, maybe some general info about you, but they really don't get to know YOU just by visiting your website. 

Blogs Don't Help Sell Books

3) Blogs aren't meant to sell your books. SHOCKER, right? I think many authors confuse the idea of having an author blog with having a book selling platform. If readers are coming to your blog, either you are very witty and entertaining, or your visitors heard of you from someone or read one of your books. They most likely are not stopping by your blog to buy your book. They have Amazon and B&N for that. They have taken the time to stop by your blog and read your posts to find out WHO YOU ARE. 

Are you the kind of author that harasses reviewers who leave you a bad review or cry every time someone posts a spoiler? Are you as interesting as your books? Probably not, but your thoughts on writing and the world in general are interesting. Are you funny despite the fact that your books are all tragedies? The POINT of having an author blog is to connect with your readers, not sell them more books. If you're not interested in connecting with readers, there's a good chance you're in the wrong business. 

It Takes Time Away From Writing Books

4) I try to post something non promotional on my blog at least once a week, usually on Mondays before things get too hectic. It takes me maybe half an hour to write up a blog post. I keep a list of ideas that occur to me at random times, either from an article I read, conversation I had, review I got, or what have you. I don't write my blog posts on Mondays. I write them when I need a break from writing because my brain is fried from my characters misbehaving or I got stuck on some plot point. Blogging gives me a chance to write without worrying about whether I'm about to screw up my plot with yet another twist. It's a relief for me and I have fun doing it. Plus, readers get a peak at what's going on inside my head during the week, which makes me a real person to them instead of just some name on a shelf or Kindle app. 

Blogging isn't dead. It's alive and well to allow readers to get to know their favorite authors and to keep authors' heads from exploding. 

So, if you're looking for all my books listed IN ORDER you can find them on my website here, but if you want to figure out who this crazy girl is who writes about Hunger and Curses and Talents and Flirty French Men Named Guy, stop by my blog every Monday for a peek inside my head. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday Writers: Kasi Blake

Today I'm welcoming Kasi Blake!

A Writer’s Life or How I Spend My Days in Pajamas

When it comes to the mysterious world of writers, the general public seems to believe the myths rather than the truth.  Even my friends think I must be living a glamorous life that I somehow keep hidden from them.  They watch movies about writers putting themselves in danger while researching data for their books, hanging out with intriguing characters with a cigarette dangling from their lips, and doing a dance down the red carpet in Hollywood as their book-to-movie deal dumps loads of cash on them.

The reality is that writers write.  We spend most of our time alone in an office, typing away on the keyboard and hoping when we finish we have something worth showing the world.  I try to write at least 500 words a day.  Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but sometimes I struggle for hours just to a single coherent sentence.

I also have a love/hate relationship with my characters.  It’s sort of like meeting someone new, someone you can see spending the rest of your life with.  You want to be with them every second of every day—at first.  Then you start to notice their annoying habits.  After a while you hate the very sight of them.  When I reach this place and want to kill all of my main characters off, I hold on tight and keep writing.  Sooner or later, it will turn to love again.

Yes, someday I do actually work in my pajamas, but only when the ground is covered in snow.  That way I know I won’t get any unexpected visitors.

My name is Kasi Blake, and I have three series out.  The Rule series is about a vampire who returns to mortal and tries to go back to his old life.  Hard to do when you are dating THE werewolf hunter, your brother wants to stake you, and your teacher is a monster in disguise.  This series begins with a book called Vampires Rule, and it is free if you want to run over to Amazon, B&N, or one of those other online retailers to grab a digital copy.

I also have a series that begins with Bait (it is free too), and it’s about Van Helsing’s daughter.  She reports to her father’s school in New Zealand, anxious to become a great hunter, but things get in her way like wraiths, a reaper, and a gorgeous boy
with jungle green eyes who hates her on sight.

My third series, so far, consists of Crushed and Witch Hunt.  Both books are about teen witches using their powers to play dangerous games at school.  They each have their own set of characters and a new, exciting game to play.

You can find me on Twitter @kasiblake and on Goodreads.  I also have a Facebook author page and my blog is here:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Adventures in Vlogging

Blogging has been the "go to" place for up to date info on your favorite authors for a while, but what about Vlogging?

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, it's okay. You're not alone! Although video blogging has been going on for a while, it's becoming a great new places for authors to share what they're up to. 

I'm not giving up on blogging, because it's a great outlet for me when I need a break from one of my books, but I too am trying out the world of vlogging. 

So here is my first attempt at vlogging. I'm answering some of the questions many readers have asked me over the years this week. 

In future posts, I'll be talking about how I build my characters, what research I've done for my books, and even showing some character artwork. If you have something you want me to vlog about, just let me know!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wednesday Writers: David Kirk

Today I'm pleased to welcome David Kirk!

I write stories with young adults in them. You will notice that I did not say I “write YA.” There is a difference. Publishers select genre designations primarily based on marketing issues. So a book with younger characters usually carries the genre young adult. Unfortunately, Amazon describes their category as “teens.”

I prefer to describe my novels as “coming of age,” or as the Germans say “bildungsroman.” This is a story in which the protagonist is confused about the ways of the world or suffers a loss, and then begins a journey of discovery. At the end, hopefully, some learning or maturity has taken place. It’s described as a novel of education or my favorite, a “novel of formation.”

YA and coming of age are not mutually exclusive. Many novels in the YA genre have elements of the bildungsroman. However, coming of age differs from books written primarily to entertain teens. It is also not restricted to the teenage years. I recently read an article about a high school beauty queen who led a fairy tale life. She married a successful business man and lived in a plush suburb. Suddenly, she found herself at forty, abandoned with four kids, and juggling night school and a job. Her coming of age began all over again.
Young adulthood is such a vivid time to write about. Scientists once believed that our brains were fully developed at twelve or thirteen. Recent imaging techniques reveal that biophysical development of the prefrontal cortex continues to as late as the mid-twenties. Some of us wore our emotions on our sleeve and had less-developed social filters to modify their expression. Feelings were intense. Mood swings were amplified.

Imitation begins at this time, which is an external compulsion. Little kids don’t have it. I recall the assignment in first grade to draw a picture of our house. We didn’t look at the person sitting next to us and copy her paper. (One of things the exercise taught me was that a career as an artist was in doubt.) But as teenagers we begin to imitate dress, style, music, even writing. We try different things out in order to someday develop our true identity.

I often speak at high schools and library sponsored young adult readers/writers groups. The question frequently comes up as to what, for someone obviously past their formative years, do I know or even remember about these years. Well, I helped raise two and I did go through it myself. But most importantly, I wrote it down. I grew up on a farm and that meant hours of driving a tractor up and down a field, or walking through acres of soybeans with a hoe cutting down weeds. Developing a vivid imagination not only helped pass the time, it was a matter of psychological survival. Plus I kept a journal, the kind college writing teachers tell you to keep, and wrote down sayings, quotes, experiences, and passionate love poems, usually about some girl who would have nothing to do with me. The characters of my first novel began in that journal.
So whatever the label, teen, young adult, or coming of age, it is such a great time to write about.

I would like to thank DelSheree Gladden, a great YA writer, for hosting me on this wonderful blog. I also like to chat, so drop me a line at or with the contact form on my web site at In addition, please check out my coming of age novels.