Friday, February 24, 2012

Favorite Things - ARCs:How to get Advanced Reader Copies

Finding Ms. WrightI'm guest blogging today over at She's a sexy sassy Romance author who's debut story recently came out in the anthology Finding Ms. Wright from 5 Prince Publishing.
They are offering it for free for Amazon Prime. Don't have Prime? (or already use up your one book this month?) You do get three paranormal romance stories for only $2.99. Not bad.

But as always you and I and billions and billions (did you hear that in your head in a Carl Sagan voice like me?) of readers are on the search for FREE e-books. Check out Lori's Blog and where I give you a bunch of great resources for getting them.

As promised here on my very own little blog I'm letting you in on the super secret sneaky way to get ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) of the most talked about books of the year (and books you had no idea about) before they hit the stores.

Authors and publishers are looking for reviews for their books before they send 'em out to the stores. The way they get those pretty quotes to put on the jacket is by sending out special ARCs to other authors and reviewers. Used to be that you had to be in the know (meaning in the book publishing industry already) to get and ARC, but with the advent the blogosphere that world has opened up to anyone who likes books, has access to the internet and has blabby fingers. Yep, I'm talking about book blogging.

So, my super secret sneaky resource for getting ARCs?
NetGalley logo request, read and comment on upcoming titles
All right, so it's not that secret. Lots of peoplehave known about for years. But hey, three months ago before I started book blogging I didn't know about it.

Here's some info straight from their website.
What is NetGalley, and how does it work?
NetGalley is a service for people who read and recommend books. Publishers upload their galleys, plus any marketing and promotional information; then invite contacts to view their title on NetGalley. Readers can also find new titles through NetGalley's Public Catalog, and request to review those titles from the publisher.
Who can use NetGalley?
Any professional reader: book reviewers, journalists, librarians, professors, booksellers, bloggers, etc. Anyone who reads and recommend books can use NetGalley for free. You can register here.

I'd almost start a book blog just to get the ARCs (also known as galleys). Oh, good, I already have.

I'm sure there are other places to get your hands on a book before it comes out. Like knowing the author personally or being one of Miranda Priestly's twins. Hey, if you know of some other great sources, leave a comment so we can all share in the glory.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Thinking Man's Romance for #ManCandyMonday

It's Man Candy Monday again. This little twitter party is quickly making me actually look forward to Mondays. The theme this week is men in glasses (and sweaters). Read: Hot Guy Geeks.
Nerds are in. Geeks are hot.

Oh, how I fall in love with intelligence.
I once had an upper level Russian literary criticism class in college. There was a boy who sat somewhere in the back right of the class. (yes, I remember exactly where he sat, he made that much of an impression on me). I'm the nerdy type and usually sat somewhere near the front. But on this particular day I was ultra aware of where Mr. Mojo. I can't say I'd ever really noticed him before and I have no idea what he said that day, but I remember thinking, Damn, that guy has got the smarts going on.  Normally I'm a contributor. I'll comment and discuss and debate with the best of them. There I sat, facing forward in my seat, just letting that deep, resonating, sexy, smart voice flow over, around and through me.
When class was over I casually turned feigning to stuff my notebook into my bag, just to snag a looksee at the Apollo to my Ono.

I got nothin. I have no idea today what he looked like. I have vague impression of some sort of dark goatee and a baseball hat, but that's it. But put me in front of a police line up, blindfolded and start a discussion of homoeroticsm in  Dostoevsky and I can pick that man out with my hands tied behind my back.

I like imagining he's a hot sexy profession of literature somewhere, whom I'd like to get naked except for his glasses and make him read Anna Karenina to me, in bed.

I'll just have to settle for Man Candy Monday in glasses.

To celebrate my new favorite day of the week, combined with my lust for nerdy geeky guys, I give to you today a thinking man's romance.

Title: Chasing Mona Lisa
Authors: Trisha Goyer, Mike Yorkey
Genre: Historical Romance (WWII)
Publisher: Revell

Chasing Mona LisaIt is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler must rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German.

This book is a return of Gabi and Eric. While this is a stand along, to get a better sense of their love story you'll want to read the previous book by these two authors. The relationship between Eric and Gabi really grows in this installment of thier OSS action packed story. Gabi is a great kick-butt heroine. The plot twists at the end will keep every reader on their toes. This must have been amazingly well researched. Author Trisha Goyer is known for her meticulously accurate historical details. There was a bit more telling than showing than I like, and I wish that the book had stayed in Paris rather than the other venues. There seemed like a lot more action and drama in the city of lights and love.

My recommendations:
One-click this, and think about getting the previous novel, The Swiss Courier too.
I give this one four stars

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Must-Have for Romance Writers #writetip

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."
- Desiderius Erasmus

In my poor-osity I do often buy books before anything else when I get my hands on some mula. I feed my addiction for reading with free e-books and the library. But oh, how I love to see my dearest possessions on a bookshelf, where I can peruse and caress them letting the memories they invoke lift my spirits. TMI?
Luckily my family feeds me and I'm a thrift store connoisseur, so I'm generally well fed and well dressed.

The books I covet the most, that I actually spend those few dollars that come my way are either my auto-buy favorite authors (hi Suzanne Brockmann and Katie MacAlister *waves*) or non fiction.
Last week I finally scraped together to buy SmartBitches Everything I Know about Love, I Learned from Romance Novels (or EIKAL for short). And I just finished Geek Girls Unite by Leslie Simon. (but I got that from the library and I don't get to keep it, and pet it.)
My one true love(s) in non fiction books are the ones on writing craft. Extra hugs and kisses if it's Romance writing.
Click on the pic of the book cover to go straight to Amazon to download it. If you're not clicking the original day of the post make sure to check the price before one-clicking.
It's also available as a nook book for free click HERE for that link.
Title: On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells
Author: Liegh Michaels
Publisher: Writers Digest Books
On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That SellsGenre: Non Fiction, Writing Craft

Everyone in the Romance world is talking, has talked or will be talking about this book. It is a great primer on Romance writing regardless of genre. It's focus on Romance craft and skills is brilliant for anyone who wants to write an HEA book. Whether you're multi-published, a debut author or just starting out, this book will have you going back to it time and time again for tips, lessons or just if you get stuck on your current WIP.
My recommendations:
Get it, quick, quick, quick, while it's still free. And if you missed the free promotion, think about buying it anyway. It's worth it.
I give this one five big ole stars.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Judging a Book by its Cover - Part 2 of Amy's Top 5 #pubtips

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover. But if we all didn't do it the publishing industry wouldn't spend katrillions of dollars on photo shoots and graphic artists now would they?

Ah, but you and I, we're not publishing moguls with ginormous budgets to put our books out. Let's look at how to get yourself a great cover for your self pubbed book.

In my post A Romance-a-holic's Top 5 reasons Download a Book (click to read) I outline how I choose what books to download. The book's cover is the number one choice maker for me. 
Some may argue that e-books don't even have a cover.  Why is this so important? Why do I (that's you the author asking me these questions) need a cover at all? 
Because they attract me (and other readers) to your book. 
Think about when you're browsing in a brick and mortar bookstore or the library. What a dull boring, black & white block letter world it would be without all those lovely book covers to peruse. 
Yes, of course I walk up to and grab books with shiny eye-catching covers.  
Wanna know a (not so secret) secret?
I do the same thing when browsing the internet for books too. 

Draw me in, then hit me with your great blurb, your credentials, your well plotted, emotionally deep book.  If you don't catch my attention I'll never get to see the rest of your hard work.

Here are my tips for getting a great book cover that will grab readers and sell books.

For the love of libraries, pay someone to design your cover.

There are lots of inexpensive resources out there.  A cover doesn't have to cost you a mint. They can be as inexpensive as $30. Now, I'm piss poor, but I'm pretty sure I could beg, borrow and steal from my friends and family to come up with three Alexander Hamilton's to buy a professionally done book cover.
All right, so you really can't come up with the money, huh?  I'll just bet you know someone that knows someone who's a graphic designer just begging to show off some stuff. Tell them you'll plug them on your website, give 'em credit in your blurb, blog about the amazing cover they made you, tell all your other writer friends.  They'll get paid in the end (even if it's only in good Karma).
Don't know where to start?
Here are a few places to get your feet wet.

Illlustrated RomanceAuthor Jenn LeBlanc (of illustrated romance The Rake and The Recluse fame) has, like most of us writers, a day job. She is goddess of capturing the souls of muses. (Read: a photographer)
She knows romance writers are always looking for hot pictures. For their covers of course. Her lightbox website has galleries of Romance Novel Stock Images for your viewing pleasure to purchase for your novel covers.

Author Viola Estrella turned to cover art creating when she got the rights back to some of her own works. Since then, she's finessed Adobe to within inches of it's pretty picture life. She's come up with some freaking brilliant covers for authors like Christina Ow, Hillary Seidl and Helen Hardt. Her Book Cover Art page will blow your mind (but not your pocketbook)

Both of these resources are also Romance authors. Who better to make you an awesome novel cover than an author?

Still making your own cover?
1. Use professional stock images. There are plenty out there for free. Just google it.
Don't use a painting or a picture your kid drew. Yes, we know you love him, and he's the most talented six-year old artist on the planet, but just frame his crayon drawing of zombie love and hang it in the hallway, not on Amazon. (Same goes for the picture you painted. Unless you're stuff is on display at the MOMA, then by all means ask your graphic designer to use your famous, worth a million dollars picture)
Also, avoid the computer gen people pics that Ellora's Cave is well known for. We live in the real world, not a primative hollodeck. 
I personally prefer pictures of people on Romance covers. There are people in your book right? I suggest avoiding sunsets, trees, teddy bears, and goats-eating-cheese pictures on your cover (and I've seen all of those on poorly done romance novel covers) and go for sexy couples instead.

2. Use a font I can read.
You don't see Nora Roberts using Blackadder ITC, Curlz MT, or Imprint MT Shadow
In fact, don't shadow it at all, only your tweenager thinks that still looks cool. Avoid neon too, it's hard to read. Want more info on what kind of typography you should use? Read this --> Typography in Graphic Design

3. Fit your genre.
I can't tell you've written the newest, greatest Zombie Love book if you've got a picture of a flower on your cover. Check out some covers of other authors in your genre and fit into that.  I'm not saying you have to be boring. Have a unique cover, but make sure it fits your story and I can tell from a glance if it's Regency, Paranormal, Contemporary or Space Cowboys. 

A final tip: Remember to put the title and your name on the cover. I can't tell you how many freebies I've seen that took the time and spent the money on buying a hot and sexy photo but didn't put anything on it. I'm totally not kidding.

I'm keeping on with Amazon books that don't have any reviews yet. There were nine new ones today. 
One had a picture of a glowing statue.
Two had pictures of women who looked constipated.
Another had a painting I'm sure I saw hanging over at my niece's junior high.
There was one with a picture of a sword and a castle, but the font gave me wrinkles trying to read it.
The biggest disaster of the day looked like someone took their college notebook with a mountain stream on it, laid on it's side and snapped a photo.

Let's look at some covers I thought were eye-catching (and I actually downloaded)

White Hot Desire: The Hunter and the Hunted

Here's the winner.
The Hunter & the Hunted by Aubrey White.
 I can tell by looking this is a YA Paranormal. The colors blend together beautifully, and the font, while matching is still readable. I already downloaded it. Great job Aubrey (or Aubrey's graphic artist)

...In All the Wrong Places (A short and funny romance)

Runner up: 
...In All the Wrong Places by L.A. DeVaul.
I said no neon font, but feel free to use a big ole block of neon. This one reaches right out, snags you by the shirt and screams at you to look at it. It's unique and I want it. 
I don't see the author's name on here anywhere though, do you?

Hallow House - Part Two

So close:
Hallow House - Part 2 by Jane Toombs.
Great picture, good name and title placement. The curlycue font on her first name and the part 2 bit get lost. I'm not totally sure if this is Historical or Paranormal or both. I do wish their was a guy on here with this pretty lady. I'll still probably download it, but first I'll have to read the blurb and I sure wish there were some reviews.

So, indie author friend o' mine. What are you gonna do about your book's cover?  (Buy it, right?)

Tomorrow we'll look at blurbs.  The good, the bad and the ugly. But mostly the good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drawn in by Credentials - Part 1 in Amy's #pubtips

For the next few weeks I'm going to only write about books that no one else has reviewed yet on Amazon. Yeah, you heard me, the infamous "Be the first to review this book" books. Scary, right?
Why hasn't anyone else rated and reviewed this book yet? Surely someone else has read it before me, did they hate it, do they not know how to type?  Maybe the book was such a big flaming pile of poo they felt bad and didn't want to post a bad review.

Maybe not.
In an earlier post I wrote about how I choose which free books to download and which I skip. Read that one here.
So, I'm just going a little more in depth on each of those points.

Credentials: If you've got 'em, flaunt 'em.

If you're book has gotten 5 star reviews from book bloggers and reviewers, post them. Just not the whole thing. Pick a great soundbite, like, "The characters' love was deeper than Edward and Bella's" (that's from my fav Stephanie Mabey song). Then put 5 stars from Such and Such Romance Review Blog.  That will spark my interest.

Did this book win an award? (Especially if it's the RWA's Rita or Golden Heart) Tell me. In big ole gold lettered slap a sticker on the front cover font. That means somebody else has read it and liked it, probably quite a bit. So, I probably will too.

Have you written for other major publishers (I mean one's I've heard of - *waves to Big 6*). Let those colors fly baby. This will show me you know how to write, you get it, you aren't going to drown me in adverbs.

There are more ways to show off your credentials and your books. What ever you've got throw it in that product description. Yes it's shameless self promotion and you are tooting your own horn. If you don't do it, who will? It will help you sell books (and that's why you put it up on Amazon in the first place, right?)

Here's the credential puller of non reviewed ebooks of the day.

My Deja Vu Lover by Phoebe Matthews
My Deja Vu Lover
According to the Amazon blurb" Matthews has been published by Avon, Dell, Holt, Putnam and Silhouette."

This book doesn't have the whole package. It's got a short vague blurb, a not so awesome cover, no other Amazon reviews and it's hard to tell if this is going to be an interesting genre twist, but oh, those credentials.  Look at her dropping those names. I'm impressed. I'm reaching for that one-click button. She got me.  I downloaded it.
Click on the book cover to go straight to Amazon and get it for yourself. Make sure to check to see if it's still free.

So, authors. Think about your product description. Does your book have the right stuff? Would I download it (and in the case of Be-the-first books, will I go back and review it?)

Next time we'll talk about those pretty pictures on the front of your book. 'Cuz, yeah, I judge a book by it's cover.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's Raining Books, Halleluah

Today is the last day to enter the Follower Love Contest. Click on the pic at the bottom of this page.

Valentine's day is for roses and chocolates and candy hearts and kisses. Oh, and apparently also free e-books.
I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when there were 27 romances on the new free list of the day. Today, well, there are so many, I can't even count them all.
Instead, here is my Valentine to you. A truckload of free Romances from Amazon. (That's better than candy hearts anyday)

Click on the pictures to go straight to Amazon to download these free e-books. Remember to check the price if you're not one-clicking on the same day as the original post.
Don't want to peruse the zillions of books here?  
My top ten - 

1. The Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien. Not only does it have 42 five star reviews I've been hearing tons of great things on twitter and facebook about this little Romantic Comedy.  If you only download one e-book this Valentine's DayThis is a your One-Click
The Frog Prince (A Romantic Comedy)

2. The Templar's Seduction by Mary Reed McCall. Have you seen this picture? Of course I'm gonna one click this one.

The Templar's Seduction (Templar Knights)

3.  Daughter of the Earth by Brianna J Merrill. I chose this one because it has an eerily similar storyline to one of my own YA series.
Daughter of Earth (Tales of the Guardian)

4.  Mon Couer Mort, an anthology.  For lovers of paranormal who are tired of sparkly vampires or werewolves who walk around with their shirts off.
Mon Coeur Mort

5. Sleeping Beauty by Elle Lothlorian. Yeah, I know, two books by the same author, but this twist on a fairy-tale really caught my eye. She falls in love with her sleep doctor in her dreams. Fun.
Sleeping Beauty (A Romantic Comedy)

6.  Cabin Fever by Steena Holmes. I have to tell you, the excerpt got me. This author (in the 13 lines I read) has a fun voice. Can't wait to see where this one goes.
Cabin Fever

7. Beyond the Far Horizon by Sally Malcolm. I only have one word for you (no, not zombies, look at the cover for goodness sakes) Pirates. Yummm
Beyond the Far Horizon

8. Incubus Hunter by Kenya Wright. This one sounds like Stephanie Plum in One for the Money but paranormal. 
Incubus Hunter (An Erotic Paranormal Romance) (Book One of Erotic Elf Series)

9. The Line by Courtney Brandt. This one time at Band Camp... Ha ha, just kidding, but who can resist a band geek YA Romance. Not me apparently.
The Line
10. Cabin Baggage by Nick Earls. Ahhh, love in coach class. 

Cabin Baggage: A Short Story

If none of my top ten strike your fancy, try one of these other free e-reads.

Five Star reviews from Amazon readers
RULES OF THE GAMELucky at Love: Some guys just never give upThe Curiosity Cabinet

The Moose Jaw (The Fergus O'Neill Series)Betrayals (Black Cipher Files-Romantic Suspense series)A TOUCH IN TIME

Daughter of Deceit"Secrets & Lies"The Sands Of Time (The Witching Pen Novellas)

The TroubadourIt's a Wonderful Wife: A Christmas NovellaErotic Healing (1 Night Stand Series)The Royal Assassin (Shadows of Myst)The Phantom Lady of ParisSeducing CupidCan't Stop Me (A Run Devil Run Novella)For The Love Of Cyprus: A Tale of Love, War and Honor.The Secret

Four Star Reviews by Amazon Readers

X.aye.i.eyeSterling RedmondDrip Drop Teardrop, a NovellaSamara: A Kilenya RomanceWarriors Of The Cross (The Warrior Series #1)Murder Deja Vu

Be the first to review these books on Amazon

Return To Totara ParkBack To UParis On FireDemon's Embrace (Demon Allure)Bewitching Kissing (Bewitching Kisses Series)Kyle & KellyThe Antique HuntersYOU WILL NOT CATCH MEDOWNPOUR--A Love StoryHello AgainWhen Love's on Vacation (Sequel one of the Embracing Love Trilogy)Torn (A Contessa Manoso Novel) (The Contessa Manoso Novels)

The Phantom Lover: Dance of the Dark Phantom - Erotica Paranormal Romance Novela Series, Book 1The Accidental ValentineLove on the Rocks: Romance to the Rescue

Out of Balance

Hugs and Kisses from my Kindle to yours.