Monday, January 28, 2013

The Winners of the Bookend 2 Bookend Book Review Competition

Hello fellow Junkies,

Jess from Bookend 2 Bookend had a hard job of choosing only three amazing-sounding books to review. After narrowing it down, she decided on:

1. Right Click, Love by M.B. Feeney
2. Fat Chance by Brandi Kennedy
3. Shattered by Karl Jones


If you are one of these authors, hit me up either via email (authorlaurendawes(at)gmail(dot)com), or on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/authorlaurendawes) so I can grab your email address and send the info to Jess. 

She would also like to say that although she could only choose three, she will be looking out for the other authors in the future, and to remind them that they can approach the other bloggers who helped out on the blog post, too!

Congratulations and thank you so much for participating!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Guest Post by Jess from Bookend 2 Bookend: Starting up a review blog and getting reviewed

Hello fellow Junkies,

So, I had the idea of having a guest blogger. I've never had one before, and I thought it'd be a bit of fun. With a little bit of wrangling, I managed to get this lovely lady to come on and show us how it's done: Jess from Bookend 2 Bookend. 

Before I fire away with the questions though, I just wanted to let you all know how I got to know her. As many of you may or may not know, I wrote a trilogy of books in 2012. Jessy picked up my first book, Half Blood when it was on a free promotion with Amazon. She said she liked it so much that she bought my second book, Half Truths, straight away and asked if she could review it. Me, being new to the whole 'being an author' thing shrugged my shoulders and said 'Why not?'

Admittedly, she was not the first person to ask to review one of my books. I had only just discovered Goodreads after (the shame of vanity) Googling myself and finding that half a dozen people had rated it. I joined up and a day later there was a request to review Half Blood. My immediate reaction was 'Why do they need to ask permission? Can't they just write a review?' and deleted the message. What I did in those early days was indie author blasphemy. 

So if you were that one person who asked me to review Half Blood, I'm so very sorry I didn't respond. Call it naivety, call it stupidity. Call it whatever you want, but I'll tell you what it was: a colossal mistake to ignore the offer.

By having Jess post this, I guess I just want indie authors and people thinking about starting up review blogs to see the wisdom in her words and learn from my mistakes. After all, what's life without making a few mistakes?

Well, enough from me. Let’s hear what Jess has to say...

How did you start your blog?         
I finished yet another great book and calling my close circle of friends was starting to not be enough. Lol I wanted to share these great books with a lot more people...so I opened up blogger and ta-da BookEnd 2 BookEnd was born! :)

Did you ask other bloggers/friends about the different platforms, or was Blogger your personal choice?
Blogger was my personal choice, only because I got so excited with my idea and I jumped into it and blogger was the first thing that popped up on my Google search! Hahaha.

Had you ever had a blog before Bookend 2 Bookend?
No. I opened one but never used it. Didn't know what to do with it then. :)

There are so many review blogs out there. How do you keep readers coming back?
Gosh that's a good question. Lol I honestly don't know! I try my best to befriend my readers and build a rapport with them. It's important to me that they see me as a friend just giving them a good book recommendation. Plus I do my best to give readers giveaways! :) Readers love giveaways! Who doesn't!? I know I do! :)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own review blog?
I would say don't try to do it alone. I reached out to others for help. I put myself out there letting them know I was new and wanted help. Bloggers are an amazing group of people. I've made many new friends! Not one turned me down and they all gave great advice and wonderful ideas to me, I can only hope I can repay that kindness when someone needs my help. :)

How do you decide which books to review? Do you need the author’s permission?
I've been lucky enough to review the books of some of the best books I've read. I just reached out to the authors and was surprised at how awesome they were in wanting to do something with my blog. I have yet to write a review on my blog without the author knowing first. :)

What genres do you like to read/review? Would you consider reviewing books outside of that(those) genre(s)?
I love to read just about anything! Paranormal, romance, scifi, thriller, mystery, contemporary, erotica, fantasy, historical. I won't review a book with a genre I don't particularly favor. I don't think it's fair to the author...I won't enjoy it as much as someone who normally reads that particular kind of book and so it just usually leads to a low rating. 

How do you feel about giving a 1 or 2 star review? Do you still do it, or do you politely decline to post a review? (I see you’ve actually taken the 1 and 2 ‘thumb’ options off your blog.)
Ugh, I feel horrible giving a 1 or 2 star review. I don't do it anymore. I thought who am I to bring down someone's hard work when honestly it's just my opinion right? I have a rating rule on my blog. Only 3,4 or 5 star reviews get posted. Why? Because I started my blog to share the books I enjoy. I didn't start this to be the tough book critic. A book I might not like could be someone's next favorite read! I refuse to put a low rating on my blog and possibly steal a chance at them ever picking up the book and finding out they may love it all because I said "Don't like it." 

How can indie authors approach review bloggers to have their books reviewed?
It's the easiest part! Email them. Review bloggers will only say no for 2 reasons. They are booked solid or they don't generally read your genre. So look for blogs that reach the audience that your book fits in with.  We love to hear from authors. We're there to help because we want to. So email us 99.99% of the time our emails are posted on the blog for you to use. :)

If for some reason a blogger turns them down, the author should ask if they could fit in a book or author spotlight and usually they can do that, too. Provided the author sends everything to them, all the blogger has to do is copy/paste.

What are the advantages for Indie authors in getting their books reviewed?
(There are) lots of advantages. You reach new potential fans. If the reviewer loved your book they're going to rave about it. When people hear great things they get interested and they pick up the book. Then before you know it, you have a chain reaction and many people now hold your book in their hands.

Another advantage is really free marketing. There's a blog willing to review your book and post great things about it...who doesn't want that free "ad" out there? :)

The greatest thing for me is being a part of it! Someone out there is holding their new favorite book because I blogged about it or an author is walking on cloud 9 because I blogged about their book and got them new positive sales and reviews.  It's an awesome feeling to be a part of the book loving world! It's a great community to be a part of!

In the grand spirit of blogs, I am having a little giveaway. This post wouldn’t have been possible without help from some review blog heavy weights and authors. In no particular order (coz’ let’s face it they’re all awesome), I’d like to thank:

And, of course, Jessica Johnson

The focus for this giveaway is getting some indie authors who haven’t quite sucked up the courage to email a blogger, or to those who are yet to receive a request to have their book(s) reviewed to get their book reviewed by one of the best: Jess!

If you would like to have your book considered for review, please leave your name, genre and word count of your book along with the blurb in the comments below and Jess will pick THREE books to review.
*Please note in the comments if complimentary copies of your books will be provided*

Please be aware that Jess has prior commitments to other authors. She will read and review your book, but wants to let you know it may take up to a month and half before she does so.

Some of the other review blog gods who are helping me out with this post are also available to review books and/or do an author or book spotlight. Click on their names to get a link to their blog site, and don't forget to follow them for the latest reviews, giveaways and author/book spotlights.

To thank everyone else for stopping by and having a look around, there will be some other things up for grabs including:
    
*An e-copy of Reviving Bloom by Michelle Turner and an awesome signed bookmark.



"Bloom was abandoned by her mother at birth, but thanks to her dad she never once felt unloved. When he is killed in a car wreck, leaving her without any close family, she spends a year mourning him. She feels as if her heart has been cut out of her chest and nothing is left but an empty hole that she doesn’t think will ever heal. Then one night after work she finds a wounded dog in the woods behind her house and takes him in, not realizing he’s more than just some stray dog but a wolf shifter, who happens to be her mate.

Pike is getting over the loss of his father by running full force away from his responsibilities. He’s getting ready to go back to face his new position as the Alpha of his pack when he catches the scent that can only belong to his mate.

When Bloom finds out she may not be the normal human she always thought herself to be, she’s forced to search out the woman who abandoned her at birth."


*The book that started it all: an e-copy of my first book, Half Blood.

   "A battle for werewolf territory and rights has Rhett fighting for his life and for the survival of the pack. The last half blood—a half human, half vampire hybrid—has been found and Rhett has been chosen as her unlikely Guardian. The pack’s survival hangs on her completing her transformation, but a Sicarii—a vampire assassin—is hunting her to ensure that never happens …

Indigo’s hard exterior is nothing compared to the dark secret she carries within her. Her haunted eyes alone tell of her struggle and desire to live. But what she doesn’t know is that she is hard-wired for survival; the very blood in her veins and the legacy of her father demands it. But when her life takes a violent turn, her heritage and her fate may be the very thing to get her killed …"


 
 *A $10 Amazon gift card for your spending pleasure.



Friday, January 4, 2013


I just had to share. This picture is the latest aid in the old inspiration corner. I LOVE this picture. It's actually my wallpaper right now. Click on the pic to get a link to the creator of this amazing art, and let your imaginations run wild with the possibilities...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The new project...and the much needed help it required

Hello fellow Junkies,

So I've been trying for the last month (unsuccessfully) to try and get my next project up and running. As far as planning goes, it could only be described as disastrous. My usual method of planning--the method I used for Half Truths and Half Life just don't seem to want to work for this new project.

Normally I would sit down and come up with my characters then a few notes on the plot and then I'm off. I get a notebook, get some post-it notes and storyboard the whole thing out. Unfortunately this time, my Muse has put the brakes on and not much has been accomplished.

I managed to get my character profiles done roughly, but then I felt like they needed more meat on their bones. So I tried something else to make them seem more alive. I got this idea from Roni Loren who is the author of the Loving on the Edge series. Essentially, for each character you dedicate one page to develop them. On each page, write the headings:

* Need/Longing
* Wound
* Belief
* Fear
* Identity (their face to the world)
* Essence (who they really are)

After I wrote out the 10 pages I needed for my characters, I felt like I knew them a little better. This definitely helped me back onto the right track with setting up the plot. But it still wasn't easy. My tried and true method of writing notes just didn't seem to work, so drastic times called for drastic measures. I went out to my local office supply place and picked up a notice board (you know the one with the pushpins) so I could make a real storyboard I could refer to constantly instead of flipping back through my crazily written and generally disorganised notes. Below is a very blurry pic of it, but you get the idea. I wrote notes. Stuck them on the board, and ta-da, you have one storyboard.


So this has helped. I feel like I'm back in the saddle. On the right track. Sniffing in the right direction...well, you get it. I'M BACK! And the writing process is almost ready to start. I'm going to let everything just sit there for a few days, let it absorb into my sometimes scatty brain then see if we can't make a novel out of it.

If there are any authors out there who also read the blog, I'd love to know how you go about planning your books. I guess everyone has a different style they're comfortable with, but it'd be good to know all the same.

Until next time...

Oh, and you've totally got to stalk Roni Loren's website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads:













Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Indie self-promotion (Part One): Social Media



Hello fellow Junkies,

I decided to take some time out from writing to do a post about self-promotion. I know you all just shudder at the mere mention of it, and I didn’t particularly enjoy it until just recently. It turns out it can be quite fun!

 Some of you may have heard about an event run by Young Adult and Teen Readers via their Facebook page called ‘Adopt an Author.’ The name is self-explanatory, but in case you haven’t heard of it before this is how it works: Indie authors put their names down to be adopted by someone else whether they be fellow indie, a blogger, whoever. Once all the indies are together in one spot, their names are posted and people can volunteer for the author they want to take under their wing and pimp out for a three month period. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get picked up straight away, but a wonderful indie named Michelle Turner took pity on my puppy-dog-eyes routine and adopted me! (I feel so loved!)

Michelle got to work right away. She messaged me to find out what my goals were. Now this was very important. I didn’t want to give her a broad answer like “I want people to like my books.” I told her very specifically that I wanted to boost my paperback sales and get more reviews on Amazon. Her next question was, “What are we going to give away as prizes?”

I had a few promotional things made up and ready to go including bookmarks and silicone bracelets with ‘Team Rhett’ on them, e-book copies and a set of the Half Blood Trilogy on paperback that I could sign. Michelle added some of her own bookmarks and copies of Reviving Bloom and we had our swag ready! (P.S. SWAG stands for Stuff We All Get)




 

She got to work straight away setting up an event on Facebook called ‘Lauren Dawes – Adopt an Author Event’ and invited some friends, indies and bloggers along. We set a limit of 50 people to join the event before starting in on the giveaways.
The next question was, how do we decide what to giveaway and to whom? So we came up with some games Michelle already knew, and I sat down and put my thinking cap on. The aim of games and giveaways is to boost the author’s numbers: Amazon likes, Goodreads fans, Facebook likes, Twitter and blog followers. We also wanted to get people involved, to engage and identify with the book and the characters within it. We needed some games that would have the ability to cover both of these things and this is what we came up with…

 

Games:

1.      Trivia with quotes from the book(s). These can be as simple or as difficult as you want them to be. For example you could ask “Who said this?” or you could make it a “Who said this to whom?” meaning contestants would have to give two names. Of course this can be changed to “Where was this said?” also if you really want to make it hard.
2.      Trivia questions about the book(s). For example, “Which character is known for their quick temper?” or “Where does (character X) work?”
3.      Post a picture of what you think a character looks like. The winner would be the person with the most ‘likes’.
4.      Ask a character a question. The winner would be the person with the most ‘likes’.
5.      Describe your favourite character in your own words. The winner would be the person with the most ‘likes’.
6.      What would the personal theme song be for a particular character? The winner would be the person with the most ‘likes’.

If you want to boost your numbers, here’s what you could also do:
1.      ‘Like’ the Amazon page for either the book(s) and/or the Amazon Author Page. The contestants participating then write the ‘like’ number into the comments section of the post. The winner is picked using random.org.
2.      Add the book(s) to your TBR list on Goodreads. Participants can post into the comments box that they have added it.
3.      ‘Like’ the Facebook page. Participants can comment that they’ve ‘liked’ the page.
4.      ‘Follow’ on Twitter. Participants can comment that they’ve ‘followed’ you on Twitter.
5.      ‘Follow’ the blog. Blogger has a widget that can be added for people to follow you. Alternatively, they can follow by email. Participants can tell you the name they follow up for confirmation.

Because my ultimate goal was to get more reviews on amazon.com, Michelle suggested I
give away free copies of my book in exchange for an honest review. The first post on the
event was exactly this. We had a great response to the post, doubling our initial offer of 5
copies to 10 for Half Blood. The bonus for the readers? There are two:


a)      They get a free book, and who doesn’t like a free book?

b)      Once they’ve written their review (good, bad or ugly) they can then enter the draw to win one of the grand prizes.


Our grand prize was a copy of either Half Blood, Half Truths or Half Life. To keep things fair,
random.org will be used to draw the three lucky winners in the same order as they will get the
books. 

This is part one of indie self-promotion. I'll post again soon with different resources to use to
get promotional items made. 

If you like the post, please feel free to leave a comment. Also, if you know of any other ways you
can use social medial to promote yourself, also leave a comment. Thanks!