Marketing

Yeah, yeah the jolly man’s coming, you’ve got shopping and baking to do and gifts to wrap. I understand. But that’s not the season I’m talking about.

It’s contest season!

And for this self-proclaimed contest-slut it means counting my money and budgeting … and deciding where I’d like to put my babies for judging. Yep, I’m one of those authors. I have been since I first put fingers to keyboard. It’s not my fault really. I blame my hardwiring. I have always wanted to be the best at anything I’ve done. Grades. Sports. School projects. Writing reports (my classmates hated my brown-nosed 10 page papers when the teacher only asked for 3). Anything and everything. I want to be the best.

I’m a terrible speller. Seriously bad. But I studied those spelling words every week and got 100’s on the test. The only problem was the monthly spelling bee. I worked so hard, but it was all for naught. Inevitably I was out in the first round. Then came the day I came home beaming in 5th grade and announced I’d finally been second in the spelling bee. My parents were so proud of my hard work … until I informed them I was the second one OUT instead of the first.

But I never gave up.

My drive got me straight A’s in middle school, high honors in high school and valedictorian of my college class. It’s won me awards in school and work. I just don’t know how to run half throttle. Lord knows there are times I wish I could. But I’ve come to accept this about myself.

So now I’m writing. This means entering my writing in contests to be judged against other amazingly talented writers. I never finalled in a contest for unpublished writers. And trust me when I say … I entered A LOT of them! But now I have my first print book. HEALER’S GARDEN is now in a format that many contests for published authors require. And I’m going in!

I love this book. I want others to love it too. Yes, it’s gotten rave reviews, but it hasn’t won anything … yet. I’m pleased it’s finalled in the Eppies. Over-the-moon happy about it. It’s just not enough. I want it to be. But I can’t stop myself.

There are many authors/readers who don’t really pay attention to contest finals and/or wins. I know this, but I justify the contests as a marketing tool for my books as well. My name and title are flying through the internet with the list of finalists. It’s really pretty cool.

So this week, before the holiday mail gets too crazy (because most contests have a January deadline) I’m packing up books, contest forms and checks, getting everything in the mail and crossing my fingers. I just can’t help myself.

What about you? As a reader do you pay more attention to books that finalled in contests? And writers how do you feel about this whole contest thing? Because you know me … I’m dying to know how you feel.

And don’t forget to stop at this POST and leave a comment for a chance to win a box full of anniversary gifts including a print copy of “Healer’s Garden”.

w00t! w00t! The news on people buying Kindles and Kindle books is nothing but encouraging. USA Today reported in July that Kindle continues to change and adapt to remain competitive in the market place. The price of the ereader has dropped significantly making it more affordable to more people. This change just further supports the fact that Amazon’s kindle books out sold hard cover books recently. Go digital!

What does this mean to me? Simply put, more readers with digital devices may very well find their way to my books. I had an epiphany in the middle of the night (which seems to be when my muse pulls me from my sleep to “chat”) and that was including KINDLE buttons on my website to make it that much easier for readers to connect to the kindle version of my book! Yay me! It’s a tiny thing …

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But just click on it … oh, come on, you know you want to! I’ll wait!

How cool is that? Of course on my website buttons take you directly to the book page. Sometimes I’m just brilliant. *pats own shoulder lovingly*. (Yep, and no lack of self-confidence either. LOL!) And ooookay, I came up with the idea, but it was Jenn at Sapphire Designs that actually did all the programming … because she’s amazing like that!

So tell me … what are you reading these days. Ebook or print? And if it’s an ebook what do you read it on?

I’m not sure if I got into publishing at the right time or a really difficult time.

On the one hand there are more publishers out there looking for stories to publish. On the other hand there are more publishers out there looking for stories to publish. This means that an author has so many choices of where to send their baby. But it also means with the ease of setting up a digital publisher that there are some who are here then gone. Scary. There are nightmare stories of authors not receiving royalties, times when publishers simply shut their doors holding the rights to books and now another slap to authors–publishers cancelling series books because they didn’t sell enough.

What?

Yep, it’s happened more than once. An author (and agent) who believed the publisher would publish a set number of books in a series.The author writes the stories, spending months and creative energy working to meet a deadline, only to find out the second and sometimes the first book didn’t quite meet the publisher’s expectations. It has nothing to do with the quality of writing. Often times these books have received glowing reviews from both review sites and readers. It has everything to do with money.

The sad thing about this is that authors used to be able to focus on their writing. Agents and publishers took on the role of marketers. That’s not the case anymore. Authors are now the ones going out pounding the pavement shouting to anyone who will listen that they have a book out there. That means talking to potential readers on twitter, facebook and goodreads. It means blog tours and Yahoo loop chats to share excerpts. It means buying ads at review sites and newsletters. Many publishers suggest authors make themselves available for teaching or panels at conventions. Of course with the print books there is also the booksigning which can both be fun and mortifying at the same time.

With so much going on some authors have turned their marketing over to promotion companies. I have my own opinions as to the effectiveness of this, suffice it to say, I didn’t hire one. Not that I’m poo-pooing this as an alternative to an author spending all his/her time marketing and not focusing on writing. It’s just that I have only so much marketing money in my budget and I choose to spend it on marketing items I can give away at conventions.

Does any of this work? Obviously not as well as we’d like. With so many books out there I think readers are spreading it over more publishers and more authors. This means indivduals are making less money and this could translate over many authors to losses up the line to the publisher. It’s quite a high wire act, trying to balance everything expected of an author.

*sigh* Still not sure if I’ve hit the market at a good time or not.

Okay, so I just got the rights back to a trilogy. I LOVE these stories. I wrote them originally in the hopes that they would be printed in one anthology. And though they went out into the world, they never made it to print. They ran their course at the publisher and I got my rights back.

Now I’m doing allllll kinds of research. I’m looking at other publishers, even an agent or two and now I’m wondering about publishing them on my own.

Easy. Don’t faint on me. There’s an interesting blog post by Jon Konrath where he’s talking about the explosion of ebooks purchased through Amazon for their Kindle. He has uploaded his own books and has been tracking the sales and lists them in terms of dollars earned. The facts for his direct sales numbers are staggering.

And with Amazon lowering the price of the Kindle there is no doubt in my mind that this market is going to explode exponentially. Add the over 3 million in iPad sales with it’s e-reader applications as well as Sony e-reader and Barnes and Noble’s Nook and you’ve got millions of readers out there looking for another book to download.

Which brings me to my quandry. What to do with my books so they reach the largest number of readers and in turn bring in the most income. I’m actually toying with the idea of uploading them myself rather than going through a publisher. It can be done easily enough through Amazon, either on your own or with the help of sites like Smashwords. Authors are doing it all over the place.

But I don’t want my books to get lost in the cracks. I don’t want them to sit idle while other ebooks fly off the virtual shelf. I market myself. I get out there and tell the world I’m an author and where they can find my books. But this “going out on my own” isn’t a type of marketing. It’s me OWNING the rights to my books and becoming my own publisher. Definitely a leap of faith.

Part of me thinks … What have you got to lose? And another part thinks … I’ve totally lost my mind. But then again if Jon Konrath’s numbers are any indication of the type of money an author can make on their own it’s hard to pass up taking the chance. (NOTE: I’m not talking about self-publishing books. Lord knows there’s no way my stuff could go out into the world without a good editor smoothing the rough edges.)

So I’m wondering where you get your ebooks from: straight from a publisher’s site, amazon, barnes & noble, third party vendors? And would you try a new-to-you author if their book was priced right? And what about you authors, are you thinking of dipping your toes into this new world of publishing?

I’ll finish out this week of marketing tips talking about actual promotion type “things”. Last year at Ellora Cave’s Romanticon a reader said, “I think of a promotional item from an author as a gift. And I really appreciate it.”

Wow. I mean, wow, did that ever resonate with me. I may be trying to get my name out there, but people actually enjoy getting something from an author. This has made me more thoughtful of what I’m choosing for promo.

Let’s first talk about the paper products. This is the least expensive, easiest to find and cheapest to mail type of promotion. I start with VistaPrint for all my paper products. First things first people, don’t and I mean DON’T buy anything full price at VistaPrint. Ah. No. Stop. Never. There is no excuse. Just get on their mailing list. And yes, this can be a little annoying … live with it. There are always free standard postcards (cover flats) and business cards and t-shirts and hats and pens and magnets and … Okay, you get the idea. And yes it’s true, nothing is completely free, but the “shipping” covers their costs.

I get a high resolution copy of my bookcovers from the art department. (Just ask, they’re happy to do it.) Use the design template and upload the bookcover on the front of the postcard. On the back I upload my blurb and website information and voila! instant postcard to send or send out as promotion. I also use the same hi res jpg to upload for magnets. I’ve found my readers really enjoy this item. I also have bookmarks. I have a design that puts two bookmarks on one postcard. When they arrive I take them to Staples and for $2 they cut them in half. Sure, they’re not exactly the size of a bookmark, but they’ve worked for me.

I have also started making CHAPTER SAMPLERS. I got a heavier stock 8 1/2 X 11 paper to print the cover and back cover. On the inside of that I put the copyright page and my bio. Then I print off a few thousand words from one or two chapters in a book form, fold the whole thing in half and staple it together. Readers enjoy this mini book of excerpts from my books. It gives them a taste of my writing style before they make a purchase. With the cost of the ink and the paper, they are a little more expensive to make, but worth it in my opinion.

These paper goods I send out to conventions across the country. Reader and writer events. Remember, this is about people seeing your name. The new flat rate boxes are working very well for me to ship these out. Now keep in mind (and we’ve all been here) that goodie bags at writer’s conferences are FILLED with paper goods, coverflats and bookmarks. If you can do something to make yours standout, it’s more likely not to get dumped in the recycle bin.

Which brings me to my next point. If you can find some THING that fits your brand and/or the book you’re trying to market a few well placed promotional dollars goes a long way. I got an emery board from an author that read “nail biting suspense” and her website … great gimmick. That file went in my purse and I held onto it for a loooong time. Find a brand of pen you like and there are reasonable places like National Pen and Earthly Charms that are great for pens as well as other promotional items. It’s taken me a couple of years to find a pen I really like, but now that I have … I’m sticking to it. Hopefully people will know it’s mine when they see it. And as a side note, both of these companies offer other promotional items at reasonable prices.

I also pick up quirky items at specialty stores that I can throw into gift baskets (a great author promotion tool at conferences) and prize packets I give away randomly at chats and such. (I’ve found a source for some great bookbags that have my logo and I love sending these to readers.) And I always put a label on the items with my tagline (Romance so hot … it melts your Heart) and my website. I want people to see my name and to think of me when they’re using these products.

THINGS in goodie bags at conferences are more likely to get tucked into a purse or set on a desk to be reused. But of course they will take more of your promotion money as well.

And there you have it. Just a tiny taste of some marketing tips for you. I hope these posts were helpful. I’d like to thank all the thoughtful readers who have been stopping by this week to share what they enjoy and how they go about making book purchases. It has been very helpful.

So readers and authors, what makes something a keeper for you? And have you ever bought a book from a new author based on a promotional item you received?

Today I’d like to talk about getting your name out there. How and where do you find the readers? Trust me when I say this is the million dollar question. Readers are everywhere on the net, at reader’s conferences and bookstores and the trick is to figure out how to find the bulk of them without having a person get sick of seeing you before they take a look at your book. The true marketing fact is that the average reader needs to see your name TEN times before it strikes a chord. When I worked in sales it was the “nine nos=one yes” rule.

That certainly seems daunting.

I can only share with you the things I have done to get my name out there. I don’t think there’s any silver bullet answer here so I live by the shotgun method, shoot so it sort of spreads everywhere and hopefully hits something that works.

Besides blogging here I also do a lot of guest blogging. That is, I visit other sites sometimes doing an interview with the owner, sometimes writing a blog post that I hope readers of that particular blog will enjoy. The benefit of doing this of course is tapping into the reader base of that blog. Hopefully they will interact with you, comment on your post and perhaps learn a little bit about you and in turn become interested in your books. How do I find these opportunities? Author and reader loops. There are always authors out there looking for guest bloggers. I host authors here on the Writer’s Block (anyone interested?). It’s a benefit to the owner who hopes the guest will also carry some readers over to their site.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these posts also have their downside. Too many interviews means the readers hopping from blog to blog with you may keep reading the same information and that becomes a drag no matter how pithy and humorous you make your answers. I mean there’s only so many times you can share with the world that your Aunt Joan was actually your Uncle Jim before the outhouse accident and even the most devoted reader is going to lose interest. There’s also the question of whether you have enough interesting things to say about varying topics that relate to your newest release. Can you continue to make it new and fresh so that each blog encourages readers to comment?

I gotta tell you, when I started blogging three years ago, my first book had just been contracted and the whole process was new to me and I could share all that with fresh eyes. I just kept chatting for nearly a year with no slowing down. But blogging has become difficult for me. I feel like I don’t have as much to say. So I do try to keep my guest blogging down to once a week for a month or so after a new release and then no more than twice a month when I’m not pimping a new book.

The other type of blogging that can be very successful is group blogs. The benefit of course is having readers from many authors visiting a group blog. I’m still in search of a successful blog that I can also participate in. I tried a couple of group blogs, but the readers weren’t there and I found myself ignoring this blog to be sure I posted other places where it seemed no one was hanging out anyway. I politely bowed out after sticking with it for six months or so.

Another very successful way to have readers find you is offering a contest. These vary as much as the romance genre itself. I’ve offered contests where readers read an excerpt on my website, answer a question and their name goes into the hat. I’ve seen great contests where readers get one entry for signing up for your newsletter or friending you on facebook, another entry for commenting on blog posts and so on and so forth. Contests can also be run on your blog post or on a loop chat that you participate in. Who doesn’t love a contest? I love sending out little prize packets to winners of my contests. I fill them with all kinds of “Nina Pierce” goodies. And on Friday I’ll talk a little bit about where I get my goodies.

Unitl then, let me know what kind of contest you like to participate in or run.

If you ask a writer if they could do anything they wanted what would it be? You most likely will hear … write. And from the writing we hopefully birth books that go out into the world and find readers. Yay! But all writing and publishing does not a successful writer make … unfortunately.

Nope. There’s that four-letter-dreaded word … marketing. (Yeah, okay, not really four, but it shivers through most of us like a curse.) This week I’m going to focus on different avenues of marketing and today I thought I’d start with the online variety.

Even NYT Best selling authors need to go out and press flesh at book signings. Adoring fans want to meet the person who whisked them away to another place or time or helped them remember what it was like to fall in love again. New authors have it even harder as readers don’t normally flock to the table of an unknown entity to buy a book they know nothing about and get the signature of a writer they’ve never heard of. Yeeeeeah, that’s the nightmare booksigning of authors.

And what if you don’t have a print book? What if it’s only electronic? Obviously marketing at bookstores isn’t going to help you. You need to go where your readers are and that means the internet. Marketing your book on the internet can be as time consuming as writing it if you use all the social media avenues out there. Besides your website there are a couple of places where your readers will be looking for you. And that’s facebook and twitter. These two avenues offer you the opportunity to interact with readers and let them get to know you and your book. (There is also the lesser known/used Linked In and GoodReads … I didn’t bother to mention MySpace because I think it’s gone the way of the video player) … but these two biggies are where you’ll find the tech-savy reader who will very likely being buying their books online.

Marketing effectively in that medium not only means touting your newest book, but spending time talking about yourself, not necessarily that you just finished your third chai tea and no have to pee, but interesting snippets of your life that engage people. And “chatting” with people on these sites also brings them into your world.

Readers are more likely to pick up your newest book if they know that you went to your local fire station to talk to the fire chief and you managed to trip up the paved walk, skinning your knee and requiring a bandage or two from the EMT guy before you could go on the tour. It has nothing to do with your hawt fireman vampire, but it does make them feel a little more connected to you. Those types of anecdotes are just the things readers love to share with other readers. Besides that makes your tweets and status updates humorous and engaging. Trust me when I say people will stop following you if everything you say is about your latest book and where to buy it.

Another place ebook authors hang out is Yahoo loops. There are more Yahoo loops for readers and authors than there are leaves on the maple tree outside my office window. And here again, I caution you to go easy. No one wants to read the same excerpt on 18 loops for a month. If you’re on a yahoo loop, try (and I know it’s not always easy with our busy schedules) to respond to the posts of other people now and again. Don’t be that author (or promotion company) that becomes an auto delete just because your name showed up in my inbox. Trust me when I say I have search parameters that send certain emails directly into the DELETE file, never to be opened. If you’ve become one of “those” then no matter what you post, it becomes moot because I won’t see it.

Marketing is a tightrope we all walk. After all … if you’re not writing you’re not really doing your job. But if you’re not doing some promotion … readers won’t know you’re out there.

On Wednesday and Friday I’ll talk about paper products vs “things”, contests, blog hops, multi-author promotion and whatever else I can think to cover. Feel free to throw out ideas as well.

I’d love to hear what you think of marketing both as a reader and an author. What methods do you find work the best?

Where does an author go to keep in touch with and find new readers? Where do we hang out to gain words of wisdom from successful authors? And how do we do all this without sucking so much time from our day that we don’t have time to write?

These are all questions authors ask themselves. Social media sites have exploded exponentially with the growth of the internet. And in my opinion this means authors and readers are having a harder time finding each other. I absolutley love to talk to people. As an extravert it’s how I recharge my energy levels. Since writing is such a solitary endeaver and I’m now disabled and not getting out of the house to work, it’s the social sites that keep me in touch with the outside world. But how much is too much?

Here’s a list of some of the places I hang out on the internet and some of them I understand and use effectively, but others I’m still not sure about …

MySpace – I LOVED MySpace when I was first contracted two years ago. I had a teenager in the house who walked me through setting it up. I went there every day to touch base with my “friends”. This means I read comments left on my page and usually went over and commented on other’s pages in reply. MySpace has a blog feature which I tried to see if blogging was something I wanted to jump into. I really enjoyed it. But over the past year or so MySpace has become cumbersome. It loads slowly and often times locks up my computer when I try to visit other people’s pages. I have no doubt that it has invited several unwanted viruses onto my computer. I’m moving away from MySpace. I’m not sure if I’m going to delete my page, but I’m definitely not using it as much.

Blogging – Wow, this one is hard. If I were to do it all over again I don’t think I’d have my own blog. Though I do love having this space that’s all about me and a place where I can display all my book covers and buy links, a place where I can share my life with my readers, I’m not sure whether or not if I’ve run out of things to say. (Don’t laugh … yes, I can talk … blogging is something a little bit different. LOL!) If someone were asking me whether they should blog I would caution them about the time it takes to post blogs. In order to get followers YOU MUST BE CONSISTENT. IMHO there’s nothing worse than someone stumbling upon your blog and finding the last post was one month earlier. You’re going to be hard pressed to get them back when you have posted something that would be helpful. If you don’t have your own blog I would highly recommend finding a group of authors willing to start (or joining in) a group blog. But again, it’s very important for everyone to agree that posting on their scheduled days is important. Building a readership is hard. Losing a readership is very easy … don’t be consistent in your posting.

Yahoo Loops – When I first started writing I joined RWA and through that my local writing chapter. We stay in touch with each other through email on a Yahoo loop. The wonderful thing about loops is you email one announcement and it goes to the inbox of every member of the loop. It’s a great way to communicate. Many authors started their own loops. It gave them the opportunity to share news with readers. As I started looking into Yahoo loops I realized there were soooo many that I chose not to start my own group. As a matter of fact, at one point I was on so many loops I could receive up to 1000 emails a day! Though these groups allowed me the opportunity to post excerpts and chat with others about books and writing I found myself spending my day answering emails. (Mostly because it’s important to me not to be a “fly-by” poster. I try to chat with people on the loop even as I post my own promo.)

Forums – My first publisher had a forum. THAT threw me for a loop. It looked like one long list of goble-dee-gook. It just seemed so confusing. Then I realized chats were in threads and if I wanted to participate I simply needed to open the thread. I found a wonderful forum in Romance Divas. I highly recommend this group. It’s filled with authors both published and unpublished, new and some very established authors. They are a very welcoming group that is willing to share without reservation. Again, this is a place I visited every day, both my publisher and Romance Divas forum. But I found I was hanging out and chatting for so much of the day that I wasn’t writing. So I’ve slowly moved away from forums.

Facebook – This is the newest place I’ve set up housekeeping. I really enjoy it over there. There’s none of the personalizing of MySpace, which is good … because everyone’s home pages come up without having to take time to load. Again, besides posting my own news I do comment on the posts of my friends. I am really enjoying this social media and IMHO, I think more people are shifting to this site and away from MySpace. Mostly because it’s easy to set up and easy to use.

Twitter – The best way to describe this is that it’s an instant chat with 800 (or however many followers you have) of your very best friends. When I post a tweet it feeds to the home page of anyone following me. When anyone I follow tweets it streams to my home page. If you enjoy chatting, twitter is a great place. Some people complain that people are chatting out about what they’re eating or the fact that they’re doing their laundry. Some are. It doesn’t bother me to follow a few people who do that once in awhile. I’m probably guilty of doing that as well. I use Twitter to give links to my blog posts or share a link to someone else’s blog if I think it’s a good post. I also use twitter to follow links to blogs on subjects that interest me. Since I don’t surf blogs I do find this is a great way to visit blogs with relevent posts. I like twitter. But there are a lot of people who don’t and avoid it at all costs. I do have this linked to MySpace and my blog (you can see it in the sidebar) so it posts to those two places whenever I tweet. (But couldn’t figure out how to get it to go to my facebook, but it does have that feature.)

These are the places I’m active. But I also have accounts at

Goodreads – I can’t help you here folks. On most days I can post what I’m currently reading and what I’ve read. But I don’t go there enough to be able to remember how I did it the last time. *g* I know you can post events or join groups and do a whole bunch of stuff, but I don’t know how to do it.

LinkedIn – Again, I’m hanging there … but I REALLY have no clue what to do with it. Not even sort of.

And that’s where I am. Now there’s NING’s and I know some people on Live Journal (who love it). But at the moment I’m pretty overwhelmed with all the places I’m visiting right now. Sometimes my social obligations can take over my whole day. I’m trying to figure out what’s an efficient use of my time. I’d love to hear your opinion. Where do you go and what do you enjoy. Because in the end it’s all about what helps readers find new authors and authors to help readers find their books. And sometimes it’s having the opportunity for experienced authors to share what they know.

So what works for you as a reader or an author?

Twitter.

One word that has totally sucked me in. I will admit–I’m in love. Addicted. Totally enamored of this social meda tool that is creeping up on Facebook and MySpace, putting the estimated number of unique monthly visitors at between 6 and 8 million. (Wikipedia)

Twitter is the brainchild of Jack Dorsey who posted his first tweet on March 21, 2006.

I didn’t make the leap until a month or so a go. Now, I open it before my email, before my blog, before my writing. Which is baaaad very bad and I know this. I’m like a kid with a new toy, unable to put it down.

So what exactly is twitter? It’s an opportunity to follow and share with people snippets of thoughts or activities in 140 characters or less. Like any social media, when you open a profile at twitter.com you are given options to customize your page with a unique picture and background.

But you are totally alone in the twitterverse. You must venture out and search for people to follow. Follow? Why would you want to follow people? Twitter is about connections with people. The updates of those that you choose to follow will display on your home page.

I would suggest using the “search” function at the bottom of your home page to find people who interest you. When the search screen appears you can type in keywords like “author” “editor” or in my case “multiple sclerosis”. A list of tweeters pops up and if you click on their picture it will take you to their home page where you can read their profile and check out their recent tweets. If you want to include them, simply click the “follow” button below their picture. Easy-peasy.

Soon, others will begin following you. Once you have followers you should try to post an update a couple of times a week. To increase your readership, I would suggest popping on twitter at least once a day and spending a few minutes updating and replying.

Why reply to other’s tweets? Because this isn’t all about you. Move your mouse to the right of their post and a star and arrow appear. When you click on the arrow, the @NAME appears in your update box. Simply type your response to their post and hit update. You’ve started a give and take conversation very similiar to instant messaging.

Scroll down the right side of your page. There’s an @YourNAME tab. Click on that tab and it will display all messages from people who replied to your posts.

So why do I do this? First and foremost … I LOVE IT! Ask my homegirls at my local writing chapter. I sing the praises of Twitter all the time. I’m following a little over 600 people and 450 are following me. It’s advantageous to keep your follow and followERs pretty close so you don’t look like a spammer. Yes, they’re there.

And you’ll know them. You’ll get a notice that someone with 1,679 follows and 18 followers and 2 posts has chosen to follow you. They’re spammers. Why? I have no idea. (But I don’t understand why someone named v$CKy emails me every other day to offer me products to increase the size of a penis I obviously don’t have. Anyway …)

Celebrities are jumping on the twitter wagon. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and Larry King of CNN (@CNN) had a race to 1 million followers. Ashton topped the mark yesterday. Morning show celebrities Ellen Degeneres (@TheEllenShow), Al Roker (@AlRoker) and Elizabeth Hasselbeck (@EHasselbeck) are tweeting. And yesterday Oprah (@Oprah) did her first tweet with tens of thousands of people following her before she even posted her first update.

Purists believe this kind of exposure will crumble the original purpose of the twittersphere. Since I too jumped in without having any expectations, I’m not sure if they will change the flavor of twitter. I guess that remains to be seen.

All I know is that it’s a very powerful tool. I have met other writers and editors and enjoy the information people have shared. I try to be entertaining and hope it will be enough to pique people’s curiousity and perhaps they’ll check out my books. Not sure if it will happen but in the meantime, I’m having fun hanging out over there. Come join me on TWITTER!

Yes, the elections are only one week away, but that’s not what I was referring to. I was reminding you of my lovely gift basket give-away!

The basket includes:
Note cards
2009 Desk Calendar
Yankee Candle
“Tilling Passions” Coffee Mug
Car Freshener
Other little goodies

Entering is easy.
1. Go to my WEBSITE
2. Email me from there (under “author” and “contact”) and tell me what you like about my new website layout.
3. Cross your fingers.

Really, it’s that simple. A winner will be drawn at random from all the commenters. (Shipping for basket is to US residents only. An international winner would receive the three e-books in the Tilling Passions series.)

Contest ends Friday, October 31 at midnight EDT. So what are you doing here? Scoot right over to my website! I’ll announce the winner on Saturday, November 1.

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