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Character Interview – Zilla

So, I recently posted an interview I had with Author Melissa Keir, and Zilla decided to get into the action as well!  The link to her interview is posted below, and thankfully, she didn’t have anything negative to say about me! I actually didn’t mind getting to know her better, since she is a little hard to get close to.

http://www.melissakeir.com/blog/character-in-the-hot-seat-zilla-from-the-power-of-four

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Check out my Author Interview!

Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Author Melissa Keir and I am excited to provide a link to her website below.  While you are there checking out my interview, please be sure to take a peek at her books, or write a comment on her blog!

http://www.melissakeir.com/blog/interview-with-da-henneman-in_the_spotlight

Deby Headshot BW

#Writing Cave

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I will be taking advantage of the long weekend, and heading into my writing cave for the next few days. I can’t tell you what a special treat that will be… 4 full days of writing time to really get rolling on Sera and Logan’s story!  I also have some other ideas brewing for stand-alone novels that I am itching to get started on. Keep your fingers crossed that the stars will align and grant me the time I am counting on! I really need to get these voices out of my head and down onto paper! I know it sounds crazy…but sadly it’s true!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Independence Day, and if you swing by my writing cave, be sure to bring some snacks! I especially like chocolate covered cashews!

Happy writing!

@Goodreads #Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Winds of Change by D.A. Henneman

Winds of Change

by D.A. Henneman

Giveaway ends July 24, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Enter to win one of ten copies of my latest book, Winds of Change, on Goodreads!  Click on the links above, and remember to follow me there or on my Amazon page for updates on future books or giveaways!

If having a paperback is not your thing, you can download to your Kindle from Amazon here: amazon.com/author/dahenneman

Thank you everyone for your continued support!  Can’t wait to share the next book in the series with you!

Book Launch! Winds of Change!

Today is the official launch day for Book 2 in my Power of Four series –Winds of Change! I am so excited to bring you Aleck and Amie’s story and I hope for anyone who hasn’t started the series yet, you will consider checking out Book 1 – Sea of Dreams which is available on Amazon!

I would like to thank all of my friends and family for their continued support, I can’t think of a better group of people to travel on this life journey with! Excited to see you all at the launch party!

Meet me at the fair!

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Will be participating in the Ann Arbor Bookfest today with some of the ladies from my wonderful writing group, The Muse Crew!  For anyone who is in the area, please stop by and say hi!  There will be plenty to do and see, and if you are interested you can check out the book festival website for more information! Link: http://aabookfestival.org/

Pictures to follow!  Hope to see you there!

30-day Book Marketing Challenge

I am never one to back down from a challenge, and the latest one that popped into my Twitter feed was one from Rachel Thompson, author of the “30-Day Book Marketing Challenge.  I decided to start my challenge on the first of the month, May 1, 2017 to be exact, and I just ended it June 1, 2017.

30 day book marketing

Before I started reading, I took my stats and documented the number of followers each of my social media sites had. Then I settled in for 30 days of changes that I hoped would increase my followers. Here is what I learned:

Twitter – Even though I had already established a Twitter account, there were a few things that were suggested that made all the difference in the world!  My followers at the beginning of the month were 288 and by the end they were 372. At the time of drafting this post, I am up to 421. Primary changes included: Pinning a post, using location spot for more information, and including hashtags in my profile. I have also been more apt to interact with other posts, which is key on Twitter.

Facebook – Wow the first day alone I made changes that I didn’t even know existed!  I added tabs through a site I was directed to called Woobox that allowed me to connect all of my other social medias to my Facebook page, which I absolutely loved! I also developed more of a storefront presence by adding my books and linking them to  my Amazon account.  Even though I thought I was way ahead of the game on this, I realized I had only been scratching the surface! My beginning numbers were: 191 on my Author account, and 59 follows on my page.  I ended with 193 on account and 59 follows, so not much of an increase, but to be fair I spent the most time interacting on Twitter.

Google + – This was another account I had already established, so didn’t do too much in the way of changes for this either.  I began and ended with 13 followers, however I firmly believe that anything posted through this site, will support your visibility in the Google search engine.  I have my Buffer linked to all my social media accounts so I can schedule posts easily, so shoot things automatically to my Google + site. I plan on giving this site a little more love in the upcoming months.

Blog – My personal blog http://www.saraybooksllc.com did see an increase in followers, going from 27 to 39, which is pretty good considering I didn’t make very many changes to what I have been doing for the past 6 months. One main change however, was that I included my Saturday blog posts on #mondayblogs, which gave my site more activity than I am used to seeing.

 

Pinterest & Instagram – Yes I have those also, and each of them showed an increase of 2-3 followers, going from 14 to 16 for Pinterest and 43 to 46 for Instagram.  The images I share are mainly quote slides, and tend not to be recycled on those sites.  I do plan on posting more pictures as I do my book events this summer which I feel will increase activity on these sites.

If you are building your author platform, make sure you check out Rachel Thompson’s “30-Day Book Marketing Challenge.”  You will want to be faithful and read it daily, and make sure you do the exercises! This book is one of the best investments in myself I have made so far!

Soundtrack of my Life – Entry #9

I have had an interesting career path and have always tried to approach things with an open mind. Because of this, the road I’ve traveled hasn’t always been the easiest, but it has been fulfilling. I didn’t attend college after High School, it wasn’t in the cards for me at the time, but I always wanted to learn new things. and the careers that found me allowed me to do just that.

Insurance was what I spent several years after High School doing, and coupled with earning a decent living I got married and raised a family. I learned more than anyone would ever want to know about Liability exclusions, Health Insurance supplements and Annuities. It is not in my nature to settle, I like to try new things, so in my mid-thirties I decided to buy a shop and become a florist. In hindsight, not the greatest plan during a recession, but I did manage to obtain my Master Gardener and Certified Florist designations during that time.

After I closed the shop, I started yet another career in small government, which allowed me the ability to go back to school. I didn’t take full advantage of that until I heard those three little words no woman ever wants to hear… “You have cancer.” I am blessed that it was found at a stage where it was easily removed, and have been Cancer free for 5 years now. My wake up call had me enrolling in college shortly after my recovery and I recently completed my first ever college degree in Business Management. Cancer also managed to bring me back full circle to writing, a passion I had in High School and dabbled with throughout my life. Somehow during all of this I managed to release my first book Sea of Dreams, and develop Winds of Change which will be released this month.

So here we are back at the beginning, so to speak, and I realize now that I am older I didn’t need to have it all figured out. For me, there are always going to be challenges to overcome, obstacles to move, and things to learn about myself and the world around me. I have completely embraced my journey and as another school year comes to an end, and all of the high school graduates head out to start a new chapter of their lives, I would like them to know that they don’t need to stress. You will figure it out as you go, we all do. Besides, it’s not so much about the destination and how you are going to get there, it is way more about experiencing the climb.

Class of 2017 this song is for you…

Considering writing a series? Some food for thought…

Success.Bobby Unser

I’ve written my entire life, in one form or another, but drafting anything over a page or two was something I shied from until my late 40’s.  Honestly, life got in the way, as it tends to do, and so decades came and went while I worked a kaleidoscope of careers and raised my family. Now that I am older, I have more “me time” and I choose to spend it on what feeds my creative soul. While I wouldn’t trade the feeling of holding two years of my life in my hands (in a colorful bound version from Create Space), I am starting to wonder what was I thinking?

The idea came to me in a flash, on a girls weekend and at (what will continue to be) an undisclosed location. What I didn’t realize, when plotting my story all those years ago, was just how much time and passion it took to bring one book into the world. I also had no clue just how much creative energy I would need to parcel out between writing articles, marketing, social media, sales events and juggling new projects.  We won’t even go into working full-time and spending time with family and friends, that goes without saying for now. Looking back, why I ever decided to write a series first is beyond me!

I am so close to launching book 2 that I can taste it (just ordered my proof today) and Winds of Change should be available June 2017 as intended. But I’ve had my fair share of learning curves along the way, most of which had to do with taking on a series in the first place. I would like to share some ideas for those who are considering planning and plotting more than one book as one of their first projects:

  1. Think of the project as a whole – It is only about the first book until you have two, and then it is about the series. Be sure that when you are working on the first book, you plot out the balance of the series. This in no way commits you to those outlines once you get into the writing, but it does allow you to have a bird’s eye view of the project, which is helpful later when you need to tie it all together.
  2. Work out back stories for your main characters – You don’t have to work them into your story, unless they serve a purpose, but it is helpful to know what happened to a character in the past so you understand what motivates them to act the way they do in the present. I spend a lot of time fleshing out even the most minor character, using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of characteristics and habits, so I can be sure to have them consistent over the span of the series. Back stories can also spin off into prequels or other series, so keep those notes!
  3. Think of the series when developing artwork – I feel that this is extremely important, since no one wants to have to redo a cover on book 1 during the release of book 3 in the series. While I will agree that tastes can change, and you can find an alternate cover that could work better once the series is established, I do feel that it is always better to have a consistent and matching marketing image presented at the start. I spent a lot of time thinking about the series as a whole, and have elements in the books that tie them together in an artistic way. The elemental symbols on the spine of my printed book is just one example.
  4. Spend time building your brand – What I mean by this is take some time to develop the image you want to present as an author. Spend a little money and get some professional headshots, trust me they will really come in handy! If you can’t afford a graphic designer, then do marketing images and slides yourself using a program like Pablo by Buffer, just be sure that the images you use are consistent with the theme you are shooting for. And lastly, get out on social media!  Each one of the products attracts different demographics so knowing your target market is key. If you are just starting out like me, Facebook and Twitter are probably the first two you want to get comfortable with. I also recommend setting up your profile on Google + and popping on there at least weekly to stay active.

Planning a series is a daunting task but taking time to do some overall project planning will save you stress and heartache in the long run.  Trust someone who knows, and who plans pretty much everything in her life! If you want to know what I am using or what is working best for me, please be sure to follow me either on this site or on any of my social media channels. I always share products that I have come across that I find helpful!  Happy writing!

Writing a pitch for your novel

So you wrote a book, had it painstakingly edited, a gorgeous cover created and convinced everyone you knew (and even some that you didn’t) to give it a read. Congratulations!  And I mean that sincerely.  Giving birth to an idea and putting thoughts to paper is something that no one can understand or appreciate unless they have been through it. But now what?  Well, if you do happen to get out of the house, and mention to anyone in passing that you have written a book, you need to be prepared to give an answer when they ask you what it’s about. And trust me they will. Your answer shouldn’t be a blow-by-blow of the 300 pages you just finished reading through yourself for the 10th time, if it is they’ll have no reason to buy your book.  Your description, or “elevator pitch” needs to be concise and descriptive yet brief, giving them just enough of a tease, but leaving them wanting more. In other words, you need to condense your 300 page novel down to less than 2 sentences.

Okay, so I know what you are thinking (since I was thinking the same thing just recently) but it can be done.  And the exercise can be very beneficial to those who take the time to go through it, even if you already have your agent lined up or a publishing house that is taking you to print. Because in my mind, the author always needs to be prepared to talk about their work, and so here are the things I focused on when developing my pitch for my series, The Power of Four.

  1. Think about the overall theme of your story – At its core, what is the end result that your protagonist is striving for?  Even in romances the plot isn’t just about the two people getting together, it is about the conflict that rises to meet them and the struggle that the characters go through to achieve it. Are the challenges related to societal issues, environment, perhaps even a struggle for control?  Pull way back and think of your story in a big picture kind of way.
  2. Think of a question the book needs to answer – “What if” scenarios can be very effective not only for your pitch but for marketing advertisements as well. For example, for my series I used: “If the Fates were unable to maintain universal balance on their own, and were required to gift four unsuspecting women with the powers of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, how would it impact the world as we know it?”
  3. Look at the back of your favorite books – The top edge of the book is prime real estate, and is generally the first place the reader looks when checking out a book. What line has special formatting, or has something that draws attention to it?  For Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, the very first line on the paperback summarizes the tone of the book beautifully, and teases us with more to learn about his character Dan Torrance. “The Overlook Hotel was where his boyhood gift for shining opened a door to hell.”

Once you have done some research, and thought about the overall idea you wish to focus on, you can draft your pitches.  In my mind you will need two of them, one that is 1-2 sentences long that takes a few seconds to deliver, and one that is a bit longer and takes just less than a minute to present.  The idea is that the 1-2 sentence pitch, also known as an “elevator pitch,” whets the appetite, and has the person asking for more information. When they do, you have the second, bit longer pitch that gets them interested in your story.

I found that developing a “one-sheet” was extremely helpful for this process. I included the pitch, a short summary, bullet points of why my books are marketable or unique, and an author bio all on one sheet.  Even if I never use this when speaking to an agent, it provides me with a script to follow that keeps me focused on the points I wish to make when ever anyone asks me about my product. This is extremely helpful when the nerves start to kick in, and the rambling begins (or at least in my case).  This sheet can also be used as  flyer when marketing yourself to bookstores, libraries or as a handout when doing speaking engagements.

I found a number of very helpful articles and videos when developing my pitch which I link to below.  I hope that these help you to streamline your thoughts into a bright and shiny pitch that attracts the book deal of your dreams. At the end of the day, it is about selling books, and a well crafted pitch can help you do just that!

Additional Resources:

Craft an Exceptional Elevator Pitch – by: Penn C. Sansevieri

http://www.selfpublishedauthor.com/content/craft-exceptional-elevator-pitch

7 Tips for Pitching to an Agent or Editor at a Conference – by: Chuck Sambuchino

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/7-tips-for-pitching-to-an-agent-or-editor-at-a-conference

What not to say when pitching an Agent (or Editor) – by: Guest Author

http://authorunlimited.com/pitching-an-agent/

Why Your Book Pitch Matters (Even If You’re Self-Published) – by: Joel Friedlander

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2013/10/book-pitch/

How to Pitch Agents and Editors at Conferences by Writer’s Coach Teresa Funke