Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery

I’m so happy to welcome back to the blog, my good friend, author/editor/ministry leader, Jennifer Slattery. She has helped and encouraged me so often!  So what’s she up to these days? Her sixth novel, Healing Love

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Jennifer:  Oh, my. This could take a while. Let’s see. When  I was three … Just kidding. I live in Papillion, a fun suburb of Omaha, but I’m originally from the west coast. I miss the mountains, ocean, and evergreen trees, but I’ve fallen in love with snowy winters and all the colors that come in fall. I’ve been married for … (I always have to stop and think. Terrible, right?) 22 years??? My husband and I had a bit of a rocky beginning, but God turned everything around and has been drawing us closer to one another (and to Him!) ever since. Love my man! Love my God!

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Jennifer:  My books fall in between two genres—women’s fiction and romance. I’ve been told they’re similar to Nicholas Sparks books. I’m not sure what draws me to this genre. I just write the stories I feel God has laid on my heart. Sometimes, those are pure fun and silly, other times they go deeper. Really, I just love writing and losing myself in a world of my own creating.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Jennifer:  I feel this is changing somewhat, and I’m not sure what I’ve landed on. Originally, I just wrote and let the story take me wherever. But then I got myself into a mess. My timeline was totally off, things unfolded too quickly, and others not quickly enough. I figured I’d save a lot of headache if I started writing by outline.

I wrote six novels that way, but recently, I decided I just wanted to have fun. I didn’t want to worry so much about where my story was going; I just wanted to enjoy the process. The result—a book that was a hybrid between plotting and pantsing. 🙂 We’ll see if it ever makes it to print.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Jennifer:    Hmm … I think sometimes the pressure; I worry that I’ll let people down. This is something I have to fight, and remind myself that I write for Christ and am enough in Him, regardless of what I produce. I’m also usually convinced whatever story I’m working on stinks, so then I have to push through the desire to toss it and my computer in the trash. Haha! So I guess I would answer, how it can trigger one’s insecurities and bring them to the surface.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Jennifer: I have no idea. I try not to presume on my future. So much of my life has not gone as I “planned” and in the unplanned, so much good has happened. I may shift to more nonfiction, I may write lighter, fun stories. I’m six classes away from a ministry degree, so I may seek employment in a church somewhere. Ultimately, I want to be in tune with whatever God desires and however He leads, because He knows best.

Thanks for dropping by, Jennifer!


Healing Love

A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out-education-and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?


Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture.

Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com.

How to Obtain An Amazon Best-Selling Ranking

By Susan Neal

My previous blog post here on Writing Prompts, Make Your Dream Come True and Self Publish Your Book, described how to self-publish a book on Kindle, CreateSpace, and IngramSpark (Barnes & Noble). Today’s post will walk you through the steps to obtain an Amazon best-selling ranking. You may need to read the previous post to understand Kindle categories, KDP Select, and some other terms.

In 2016, I self-published two books, Scripture Yoga which was a #1 Amazon best-selling yoga book and Yoga for Beginners which ranked #3 in the yoga book category.

How?

First, publish your e-book on KDP.Amazon.com, otherwise, known as Kindle. Choose KDP Select because it allows you to lower your price during your book launch. Your subscription lasts for three months, and during that time you cannot publish your e-book on any other platform. However, you can publish a print book on another site. I unsubscribed from KDP after three months.

Be sure to include a request for a book review, along with a link to your Amazon book page, at the end of your Kindle e-book. The link becomes available after you have published your book. So remember to go back and add this link into your formatted book and reload it into KDP.

When choosing your Kindle categories, select a broad and a narrow category. The narrow one is key to obtaining the high ranking because you do not have as many books to compete against. For example, the broad category for Scripture Yoga was Christian Living which included a large number of other books. However, the narrow category, Yoga, contained fewer books to compete against for the Amazon ranking.

Next, choose two dates to have a $0.99 sale within KDP Select. This sale will show up in the Kindle store on Amazon. The first period should be at the beginning of the three-month subscription to KDP; this is the date you ask your book review team to purchase your book and submit a review. The second date will be your official book launch with the goal of increasing your Amazon ranking and it should be toward the end of the three-month period after you have several book reviews.

Book reviews are an important component of your marketing plan. Create a book review team by asking several individuals if they would like an advanced review copy of your book in exchange for a book review or they could purchase your reduced price book for $0.99. It is best to have at least 7–10 reviews before your book launch. Also, ask your team to share your book’s promotional materials you have created on their social media sites during its launch.

Your book launch goal is to obtain a ranking within the top 100 Amazon books in your category. If this occurs, you can publicize your book as an Amazon best seller. To accomplish this goal, lower your Kindle book price to $0.99 (usually for 3-7 days) after you have at least five reviews. You want to try to get as many purchases as possible within a short period of time for the Amazon ranking to rise. During your launch, monitor your book’s ranking which is listed at the bottom of your book’s Amazon page and take a screenshot as it increases.

There are many of things you can do to plan for this date. However, the most important thing is to pray and ask that your book glorifies God. Next, notify all of your family, friends, social media contacts, and email subscriber list that your book is on-sale. You could raffle a prize, and each person who verified that they purchased your book would be entered into the contest.

At the same time as your book launch, advertise your KDP Select promotion dates on BargainBooksy.com, ReadersInTheKnow.com, and FreeBooksy.com. These websites have access to large numbers of readers who want to purchase books at a discounted price. These promotions will drive up your book sales. At Bargain Booksy, it costs around $25 to run a one-day ad which would be well worth it to attain the best seller status. Whereas FreeBooksy charges a higher price to promote your book, and Readers In the Know allows you to promote your book for free while it is at the discounted price.

There are numerous websites available to market your book including CrossRoads.com, ChristianKindleNews.com, GospelBooks.net, FaithfulReads.com, GoodEbooks.net, and EbookChristian.com. It would be prudent to choose a few of these sites to promote your book during its launch.

Also, advertise your book on KDP.Amazon.com by clicking the “Promote and Advertise” button next to your published book in your account. Select “Create an ad campaign” and click “Sponsored Products.” Sponsored ads show up at the top of a similar themed book’s search results and the very bottom of a competitor’s book product detail page. It is the only ad that is displayed twice. Choose automatic targeting which allows Amazon to choose the keywords.

For my Scripture Yoga ad, I set a bid amount of $.25 and an average daily budget of $2.00. You can increase from there. You only pay if someone clicks your ad. If you monitor this a couple of times a week, it is easy to determine if an ad is working or not. If an ad is spending more than it is making, you can simply pause or terminate the ad.

The morning of my book launch I was at my 88-year-old mother’s home. I woke up early, and for about three hours I sent out many emails and posted to my social media sites. Then I saw a peer’s Facebook post for her book launch and how she was praying for its success.

I realized I had not prayed, so I got on my knees and asked God to forgive my oversight and bless this book’s launch. I felt reassured that it was in his hands. So I drove my mother and three daughters to Homosassa Springs for the day. When I got back to my mom’s home, my book was #1. Praise God!

It takes time and some work, but it pays off when your book is an Amazon best-seller.

Click to tweet: Let me walk you through the steps to obtain an Amazon best-selling ranking. #IndiePub #Amazon


Susan Neal-RN, MBA, and MHS has a passion for inspiring others to be healthy and grow in their faith. Her article, Eatin’ in Eden was published in Clubhouse magazine. She published two books, Scripture Yoga and Yoga for BeginnersHer hospice C.D., Bedside Encouragement: When You Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye, two Christian Yoga DVDs, God’s Mighty Angels and What the Bible Says About Prayer, and two Christian Yoga Card Decks, “Fruit of the Spirit” and “How to Receive God’s Peace” are available on Amazon.com and ChristianYoga.com.

Susan’s two digital products, Eat to Live with a Low-Carbohydrate, Low-Glycemic, Anti-Inflammatory Diet and How to Prevent, Improve, and Reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia are available at ChristianYoga.com and Gumroad.com. Susan is a member of Word Weavers International and has been interviewed on Moody Radio, Blog Talk Radio, and Premier Christian Radio of the UK.

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Trekking the Indie Route

By Gail Johnson

Are you thinking about becoming an indie author?

For those new to the term, indie is short for independent. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. In fact, I suggest you don’t.

forking-road-839830_1280

 

Choosing the indie route can be scary when faced with all the decisions that must be made between the initial idea of the book and the final product. But there are a few things you can do to make the journey a lot easier.

 

Writing Groups

I suggest joining a writer’s organization. If you’re a Christian fiction writer, that would be the ACFW. For a small yearly fee, American Christian Fiction offers classes, conferences, and critique groups. A critique group will provide invaluable feedback during the writing process.

Friends

Writing is a lonely profession. We need friends, offline and online, to keep us balanced. Friends help make the journey an exciting adventure. They are irreplaceable treasures and wells of encouragement.

Editors

correcting-1870721_1280Love’em or dislike’em, editors have a purpose. A good editor can make a book better. You will not catch all your mistakes, but another pair of eyes will uncover the elusive typo. Guaranteed!

Ask for references. Talk to your friends or other authors. Working with someone can be a dream or a nightmare. Success depends on a good working relationship.

Media

Social media is a slippery slope. Too much of that and you lose writing time. Not enough and there’s no point. The point of media is interaction with others. Doing for others as you would have them do for you is good advice when thinking of media.

I want to share a few pointers I’ve learned in seven years of social media.  Don’t follow someone to get them to follow you, and then unfollow them. Not cool! And if you ask a question and someone answers it, respond. If you don’t, they won’t stay a follower.

Share their successes. There’s no reason to be jealous of another if their book comes out before yours. There are enough readers to go around. Be generous to promote them, and when your time comes, someone will do the same for you.

If you’re overwhelmed by your Twitter feed, may I suggest lists? Lists help separate your followers and those you like to interact with every day.

Readers

You gain readers by writing a good book. Hence all the above suggestions. Readers, like friends, are treasures. Treat them as such. You won’t regret it.

Blogging

Some people don’t like blogging. I do! My website gives me a chance to connect with friends and meet new ones every week. Blogging also helps with weekly word count. Whether you blog once a week or five times a week, make a schedule and stick with it.

My Journey

book-2224934_1280So, you see indie doesn’t necessarily mean independent. 🙂 It takes a tribe. I knew I couldn’t do everything. In the end, I hired editors, a back cover copywriter, and a cover designer. I did the formatting myself using a template which I purchased from a template designer. My book will be coming out later this year. Woohoo!

So, if you’ve been thinking about trekking the indie path but you’re afraid you can’t do it, take heart. There is a steep learning curve, but you CAN succeed as an indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Indie authors, what are your suggestions for newbies?

Click to Tweet: You can succeed as an #indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Writing Prompt

You have your manuscript, back cover copy, and your cover. Make a list of the things you need to do to make your book a success.

 

 

Marriage: Make It or Break It by Andrea Merrell

Today I’d like to introduce my friend, author and editor, Andrea Merrell.  She’s an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. Her latest book is Marriage: Make It or Break It.

Hi, Andrea! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Andrea: I’m a Southern gal who considers herself a bit of a late bloomer. Even though I’ve always loved to write, I didn’t begin to pursue my passion until about twenty years ago when the speaker at a marriage retreat told me it was time to get busy. “After all,” he said as he leaned in close, “you’re not getting any younger, you know.” That little statement lit a fire in me and set me on a path of writing for God that gets better and more fulfilling as the years go by. As an editor, I also love encouraging other writers, helping them grow and polish their skills as they learn to create clean, professional manuscripts. I LOVE what I do. 😊

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Andrea:  People ask this question quite often, and sometimes they’re surprised by my answer: a little bit of everything. In the beginning of my writing journey, God gave me a series of poems. Then I moved into writing nonfiction, especially funny anecdotes about getting older. I soon found myself writing devotions and a few articles. Over the past few years, I’ve written hundreds of devotions, a few short stories, and three nonfiction books (Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It). But I’m also passionate about writing fiction and have several novels in progress at various stages that are begging to be finished. Some say you should find your niche and stay there, writing either fiction or nonfiction. But my philosophy is that I should write whatever God gives me … whatever He lays on my heart. As we write for Him, we never know how our words can touch someone else, whatever the genre. And the more transparent we are, the more impact our words can have.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Andrea:  Outlines don’t work for me. I’m a panster (seat-of-the-pants writer), not a plotter. Early in my career I sat in a class at a writers’ conference about plotting where the speaker was using charts and graphs. I was completely lost. Sometimes when I sit down to write, it’s like transcribing dictation as the words flow. For me, it’s a matter of getting my words on paper (or I guess I should say on my computer screen), then the proofing, editing, and rewriting begin.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Andrea:  For me, as an editor, the hardest thing is making time for my own writing.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Andrea:  Probably doing the same things I’m doing now: writing, editing, and teaching at writers’ conferences—unless God has other plans. Hopefully, by then I will have at least a couple of published novels.

We hope so too! Thanks for stopping in for a visit, Andrea!


Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues.

Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and Praying for the Prodigal. Her newest book, Marriage: Make It or Break It, is now available on Amazon. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

Amazon link for Marriage: Make It or Break Ithttp://amzn.to/2qxucJ7

Amazon link for Murder of a Manuscripthttp://amzn.to/1HlRLmy

Amazon link for Praying for the Prodigalhttp://amzn.to/1BFOhK9

www.AndreaMerrell.com

http://www.TheWriteEditing.com


Marriage: Make It or Break It

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell after forty-plus years of marriage believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis. 

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong and a lot of things that will destroy it, buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.

Make Your Dream Come True and Self-Publish Your Book

By Susan Neal

As an attendee of Christian writer conferences since 2014, I understand the disappointment of not having a publisher choose your manuscript. There are many other writers who feel the same way I felt—disappointed.

However, as a follower of Christ, I believe God inspired me to publish Scripture Yoga to assist other Christian yoga teachers to speak Bible verses over their class participants. I wanted to provide a godly environment for Christians who choose to participate in yoga classes. In this article, I will explain how I self-published an e-book and print book for around $700. In the next blog post, I will share how I obtained a #1 Amazon ranking.

After my manuscript was written, I edited it on Grammarly.com. This site keeps track of your most frequent grammar errors and provides feedback for improving your writing. Through the search feature, I eliminated passive and unnecessary words.

I’m also a member of Word Weaver’s International and our group meets monthly to edit each other’s work, so much of my manuscript had been reviewed by this group. I used Edit911.com to edit Scripture Yoga. This service has Ph.D. level editors who provide a quick turn-around time. This website features an instant quote based upon a manuscript’s word count.

Next, I needed to format my book as an e-book for Kindle, and a print book for CreateSpace and IngramSpark. I was very pleased with Word-2-Kindle.com. They include unlimited revisions. However, a technically inclined person could format their manuscript and save on this expense.

I determined the keywords I would use to describe my book on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), CreateSpace, and IngramSpark. A keyword planner is available on https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/Home. Click the item “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.” Enter your product, website, and category then click “get ideas.” A spreadsheet with keywords and the average monthly Google searches is provided. From this information I chose seven keywords.

Next, I needed to choose the Kindle and Amazon book categories. Categories are listed on Amazon.com. To find the categories I clicked on the left side of the search bar and selected “Kindle Store.” Then I searched for “yoga books.” On the left side of this search page, a listing of Kindle Store categories appeared. I chose two categories for Kindle.

To find the categories for CreateSpace I entered “books” on the left side of the search bar instead of Kindle Store, and searched for “yoga books.” The print book categories appeared on the left side of the page. Again, I chose two categories for my print book.

It is best to choose one broad and one narrow category. The broad category provides exposure to a large population of readers. The narrow category allows the book to increase in ranking which helps it to become an Amazon bestseller in this category.

For the book title and subtitle—I looked on Amazon to see if there were other books with this title, and I checked out competitive book covers. I needed a separate cover for my e-book and print book. I had my covers created on Fiverr.com. If you choose to use Fiverr, look at the vendor’s customer reviews and other book covers they have published to determine if you like their style.

hlcs.org

For the Kindle book, I did not need to purchase an ISBN because Kindle provided an ASIN for free. However, a print book needs an ISBN, so I bought my number on Bowker.com. I planned on publishing another print book and a card deck, so I purchased a package of ISBNs because it was more cost-effective.

When I was ready to publish my book, I made sure I had the book cover, formatted manuscript, ISBN, key words, and categories. I set up a KDP account on KDP.Amazon.com, and I chose KDP Select for the first three months because it allowed me to put my e-book on sale during my book launch which is key for obtaining a high Amazon ranking.

Three months later, I unsubscribed from KDP Select. Once my book was downloaded to KDP, within 24 hours, I received an email stating the book was ready to be reviewed. I logged into my Kindle account and reviewed every single page ensuring it was formatted properly before I pushed the publish button.

I wanted to publish my print book on both CreateSpace.com (Amazon distribution) and IngramSpark.com (Apple, Barnes & Noble, and many more distributors). I set up my accounts on both platforms and loaded my formatted print manuscript, and book cover. Then I entered keywords and selected categories. On CreateSpace, I didn’t check the box for expanded distribution because this designation would preclude the book from being published on IngramSpark.

Before I pushed the publish button, I previewed every single page in the online previewer, but I did not publish it yet. Instead, I ordered a print book which was mailed to my home. When it arrived, I previewed every single page making sure everything was formatted properly. When I was satisfied, I went into my accounts and pushed the publish button. I was finally an author of a print book—my God-given dream finally came true!

Now that I was a self-published author I needed to set up my Amazon Author page on AuthorCentral.Amazon.com. I entered my author bio and headshot. This information appears at the bottom of my Amazon book page. I also claimed my Kindle and print books so they would appear on the same Amazon page.

Below is the cost of publishing my book.

Breakdown of Cost

$375    Editing

$49     Kindle Formatting

$129    Print Formatting

$40      E-book and Print Covers

$125    ISBN

$718    Total Cost

Now I’m no longer disappointed. Instead I’ve been reappointed: as the author of a print book. My God-given dream.

Click to tweet:  I self-published an e-book and print book for around $700. #IndiePub #writing

Writing Prompt: What has God inspired you to write and publish? What is holding you back?


Susan Neal-RN, MBA, and MHS has a passion for inspiring others to be healthy and grow in their faith. Her article, Eatin’ in Eden was published in Clubhouse magazine. She published two books, Scripture Yoga and Yoga for Beginners. Her hospice C.D., Bedside Encouragement: When You Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye, two Christian Yoga DVDs, God’s Mighty Angels and What the Bible Says About Prayer, and two Christian Yoga Card Decks, “Fruit of the Spirit” and “How to Receive God’s Peace” are available on Amazon.com and ChristianYoga.com.

Susan’s two digital products, Eat to Live with a Low-Carbohydrate, Low-Glycemic, Anti-Inflammatory Diet and How to Prevent, Improve, and Reverse Alzheimer’s and Dementia are available at ChristianYoga.com and Gumroad.com. Susan is a member of Word Weavers International and has been interviewed on Moody Radio, Blog Talk Radio, and Premier Christian Radio of the UK.

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Winners for the Fourth of July

 

Happy birthday, America! As another fourth rolls around, we celebrate by making some of our loyal audience aware of their winnings. Congratulations!

Traci Wooden-Carlisle gave two people a chance to win. Congrats to Jeannie D. for winning a copy of Missing Destiny and Caryl for winning the jewelry. Hooray!

Betty Thomason Owens is gifting either a Kindle or print copy of Sutter’s Landing to Traci. Woo hoo!

Loved Defined by Leila Tualla   has been won by Mimi. Yay!

Wow. Winning and reading. What a great way to enjoy the holidays.