Friday, September 7, 2012

Haunting Obsession Tour

Haunting Obsession Tour

R. J. Sullivan resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. His first novel, Haunting Blue, is an edgy paranormal thriller about punk girl loner Fiona "Blue" Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. R.J. is hard at work on the next chapter in Fiona's story, Virtual Blue, coming soon from Seventh Star Press. R.J. is a member of the Indiana Horror Writers.
Twitter: @RJSullivanAuthr

“She wants to be loved by you…alone!” Daryl Beasley collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl’s girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all. Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta’s birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind—and a haunting obsession he’ll never forget.

A 101 guide to fan support in the social media age 

We interrupt the R.J. Sullivan Blog Tour for a message of great social and political import! Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz...oh, wait, I mean...

You're an avid reader of small press authors. You Tweet and Facebook, Pin, and Google everyone about your favourite reads. You have an account at Amazon, Barnes and and Goodreads, and you're not afraid to use them. You want to use your powers for the greater good and you probably don't know how much power you command in the social media age and the rise of the small press.

We're small press authors and we love you. We love your reviews and your retweets and your complimentary posts, and we want to help you help us.

 And there are lots of ways to help us--simple ways to affect the internet's inner workings all summarized in a techie blanket term called "analytics," which comes down to "ways in which web-savvy readers [that's you] can raise an author's chances [that's us] of being seen by even more web savvy readers [our mutual goal]."

Analytics. Got it? Great. Now we can forget it and move on to practical matters.

1. Follow me.

Follow the author on Facebook. Follow their author page, Twitter, and personal page if the author openly allows fans to do so (For instance, I do. as do Tanya Huff and Melinda Snodgrass to name two others). Follow them on Goodreads.

 If they have a newsletter, subscribe to it. You don't need to read every tweet, every post, or even every newsletter. (let's face it, the same information gets repeated over all these various channels--we get that, but if these are you’re absolute favourite new authors you are trying to promote, you just need to be subscribed to them)

Why? Because it's a numbers game. Remember those analytics I told you to forget? Um. Yeah. When the publishers and bookstores ask an author how many followers they have, high numbers are good; low numbers are bad.

2. Like me.
Really like me. Find those "Like" buttons and click them. Find the author's page on Amazon and click the "Like" button(found to the top and upper right.) But don't stop there. Each book title on Amazon also has its own "Like" button--on Amazon. Go to every title and click those, too (assuming you genuinely"like" all of an author's books).

Do the same to alternate formats--On Amazon, Kindle and paperback versions each have their own pages--that means two separate "Like "buttons (No I don't know why--seems kind of stupid, I know).

On Barnes and, you can like both Paperback and Nook versions.

3. Review me.

Amazon and Barnes and Noble both welcome starred and written reviews, as does Goodreads. A formal article is not necessary, it's about analytics again--the content is less important than the starred rating. It can be no more in-depth than "if you like ghost stories, give this one a try. I loved it." It's okay to add more, but you don't have to.

What I usually do is type a review, and once I have it how I like it, I copy the content of the review so I can paste it in its entirety into the alternate windows and pages.

 A word about star ratings and your long-term reputation as a reader and a reviewer.

I'm about to say something that not all authors will agree with. As a reader, reviewer, and possibly a blogger in a social media world where you plan to make an impact for the next several years, you are building a reputation and protecting it. That means posting with integrity.

On most sites, you have a range of "star ratings" to post; use that range. There are three choices between one star and five stars. Don't use the five-star rating unless you really mean it. I tend toward four-star ratings for solid reads and reserve five stars for those "OMG I was gobsmacked, everyone is getting this for Christmas awesome." Your rave terms may vary.

Why? Because a reviewer who only posts five star reviews will not be taken seriously, and claims that every book by their favourite author are *ALL* "the very best thing ever" will be ignored, and should be. In this case, forget analytics; protect your reputation. It's all you will have later. Let your endorsement MEAN something.

Here's another reason why: A page full of five-star reviews comes off phony, because it doesn’t happen in the real world. Not even to the very best entertainers on the planet. You want proof? I just looked at Adele's 21 on Amazon. 746 five star reviews, 41 three-star reviews, 38 one-star reviews. 38 one-star ratings for the biggest contemporary pop vocal talent on the planet.

4. Tags on Amazon means your author is "it"!

Most people understand Following and Liking. A lot of people get reviews. But tagging, as utilized by Amazon, eludes many readers. The benefit is not obvious and the procedure isn't as clear. But since Amazon is the biggest online store in the world, and that's not likely to change anytime soon, it's well worth putting into practice.

You know how, when you buy a book, Amazon comes back every now and then with a "recommended for you" email? That list is compiled from analytics (there's that word again) that looks at every book entry and considers the number of Likes, starred reviews, and tags.

Where are the tags? Pull up any random Amazon entry. Drop roughly 2/3 down the page. You'll see a section labeled "Tags Associated with this Product." You'll then see a series of labels with a small check box next to each one.
My novella Haunting Obsession, as I look on it today, has 11 tags. They include: paranormal thriller, paranormal romance, novella, ghost story, and it goes on.

Every reader with an Amazon account has several options:

They can agree with the tags shown.
They can pick and choose individual tags from the complete list (to a maximum of 16)
They can add tags if they feel an important label is not showing

You can cast a vote for tags on any book you reference from your account--but you can only vote for tags once from each account, so get it right. This prevents someone from voting over and over and over again and "stuffing the voting box."

The first step is to click the link that says See all (#) tags. Once you see the complete list, it's time to tag wisely. First, click on the box next to any tag you strongly agree with. You are essentially "voting for" a favourite keyword you think should be associated with the book.

In theory, that means keywords that make sense, keywords that are most appropriate, will get a lot of votes. Vote for the ones that make sense and which you yourself strongly associate with the book.

Next, look over the list. Are there any obvious ones that should be there? If so, add them in. It will only get one vote, but others may see it later and agree with the tag.

Sadly, inappropriate or misleading tags can also be added by someone, either misinformed or intentionally facetious. There's no way to dispute those tags. The best you can do is to not add your vote, so that the appropriate tags will get lots of votes and far outnumber the inaccurate ones.

And this is huge, because here's where the analytics come in. Say you finish a ghost story novella on Kindle and you give it a high star rating. Amazon regularly sends readers "Recommended for you" lists. What will that list consist of? Books with high Like votes, books with high starred review ratings...and books with tags that match what they've just finished reading.

Bottom line: Tags are often overlooked and they're hugely important.

This is a lot of words devoted to what adds up to about 15 minutes of your time. Once you get the hang of it, it will take you longer to read through this guide than to actually hit the web and support one of your favourite authors.

In today's world of social media, you can have your voice heard. And directly affect the careers of your favourite authors in ways undreamed of before now. And we authors love you for that. Use your new powers wisely.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog tour.


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