IWSG: Ask PZM, January 2015

It’s that the first Wednesday in the new year! Which also means Insecure Writer’s Support Group Wednesday. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, it’s time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn’t matter which.

To start off the new year, we’ve all been invited to include an introduction into who we are. For those of you who don’t know me, here’s my brief story:

My name is Joylene Louise Butler, and I am famous (in my own mind) for having eleven grandchildren and 2 suspense novels: Dead Witness and Broken But Not Dead; the latter won IPPY silver medal in 2012. I also collaborated on a steampunk anthology published last year called Break Time. Prior to that I had no idea what steampunk was. I, my husband and our two cats Shasta and Marbles, live 6 months in Cluculz Lake in central B.C. and 6 months in Bucerias, Nayarit. Because my husband’s retired, the plan was he’d cook, I’d write…(hmm)

If you’d like to join Insecure Writer’s Support Group, click here.

Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the first posting of the IWSG for 2015 are:

Chrys Fey, and 

Please stop by and thank them for their time. 

Before we get to Ask PZM, just a reminder that The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond is now available for free downloading. You can check out the sites here.


Q. Does offering the first chapter for free work for unknown authors?

First, let’s look at this question in a known context.  Many traditional publishers include a first chapter of a different book by an author at the end of that author’s published book (both in print books and ebooks).  This makes good marketing sense because, having read the first chapter (or chapters) and having liked what we read, we as readers are probably much more likely to buy (or borrow from a library or from a monthly ebook subscription provider) that book.

Now with an unknown author, especially for a first book, there is not yet the opportunity of including that first chapter at the end of a previously published book.

Yet how much more necessary is it to give our potential readers a taste of our story as well as our writing style if we are unknown?

Assuming that giving away the first chapter for free does not affect any agreements we may have with publishers or KDP Select or the like, why not provide this opportunity?  Although we may not gain from this, it certainly is one way to get in front of potential readers.

What are some of the ways that you might give away a chapter?

1      Provide the chapter on your author website or as a download on your author website. (Here is an example from a humor book by my 90-year-old father Al Zimbler — http://www.alzimcomedy.com/first-date/ )

         Create an ebook of just the first chapter and publish that first chapter ebook on sites where you can list the price as free.
         Post the first chapter on Wattpad for free.  (For example, see the first chapter of my women’s friendship novel MRS. LIEUTENANT — http://www.wattpad.com/2140539-sharon-i-may-4-1970-mrs-lieutenant-a-women%27s )

     Possibly ask a self-published author who writes in the same genre to include your first chapter at the end of his or her book (with the commitment to include a chapter from one of that author’s books at the end of your book).

         Print out copies of the chapter (include the cover and in color if possible) and hand out to people.
Caution:  Make sure that all sample chapters in whatever format include the links to where people can buy the book.

Getting out the word about your sample chapter:
Here is where using social media to link to the sample chapter online can be very effective.  And you can ask friends to share the link on their social media accounts.

Q. They say to be a successful author you have to connect with your readers. How do we do that effectively without driving them away with our boring day-to-day living?
It is important to clarify what is meant by connecting with our readers.  In my opinion this does NOT mean always talking about our own books or our own lives.

What it does mean is sharing on social media accounts and blog posts a variety of information that may be of interest to our readers.

For example, if you are a romance author, you might want to share news of other romance authors.  Why?  Because romance readers are known for consuming many books, so why not showcase yourself as someone who recommends other good books besides your own?

At my own author blog at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com I often write about topics that are important to me, such as the portrayal of women characters in fiction as well as real-life projects that support our military troops, their families, and veterans.

I very rarely tweet or post on Facebook anything about my own life, which I agree would have little interest to the readers of my books.  Yet I am very active on social media because I share good information on several topics (which does reveal what interests me).

A word of caution:  I personally think it is good to share information only on a set of specific topics.  If the information you share is all over the map, this may be too confusing for your followers, and confusion can cause people to stop following you.  (My mantra in marketing is “Don’t make me think.”)

Q. Are there any new epic trends out there that we haven’t heard of?

There are so many new trends all the time that it is very hard to keep up with these.  Because as authors we need to conserve time for writing, I would recommend that we do not worry too much about emerging trends.  If and when these trends push themselves to the fore, then we can consider adding them to our promotional toolkit.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a digital marketer as well as a fiction and nonfiction author.  

Learn more about her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/phylliszimblermiller and visit her author site at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com

ps. I’m a day early because we’re having power outages, and I’m having blogger issues. IWSG is officially tomorrow. 

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