SORMAG Online Conference 2013- Readers and Writers, will you be there?

On the panel add

Have you heard about the SORMAG Online Conference ?

If not, you have to check it out!

SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine) is hosting its annual conference which gives authors the opportunity to learn from one another. Readers, here’s a chance to talk to some of your favorite authors! The event last November 1-3rd!!!

Workshops will be held online as well as by phone.  Each day will have a theme:

November 1st: New Writers

November 2nd: Readers

November 3rd: Published Authors

I’m excited to say that I am not only attending, I’m also on several panels! You will find me on the Social Media and Readers panel on November 2nd, and the Marketing panel on November 3rd. Both are live phone panels, so stop by and say hi!

Follow this link to learn more about the conference topics and what authors will be participating!

Register

Have you ever attended a conference without leaving your home?
Register for SORMAG’s Online Conference for readers and writers. Learn from published authors, network with fellow writers. Pitch your manuscript. Mix and mingle with avid readers. Win a few door prizes and never leave the comforts of your home.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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And the winner is…..

Yes! We have a winner!!

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by to help celebrate Ebony and Brian’s first Book-A-Versary! I had a wonderful time chatting with some of you online, and especially chatting with two wonderful book groups, Read You Later and the Real Readers Real Words (3RW) by phone. Hopefully you were able to tune in to one of the interviews, but if not, no worries! My interview with Read You Later is available on Blog Talk Radio! Click on the link and check it out!

For those of you who have been following me online, you know that I have entered the final stretch of preparing the next  book in The Butterfly Memoirs series, Lonely Heart….otherwise known as EDITING! So, I’m digging in! The winner of this months contest will receive an eBook copy of the book on the day it releases…..MARCH 6,  2014!!!!! I am very excited and can’t wait for readers to learn what happens next!

So, with that said, the winner of the Book-A-Versary contest is…….

Sharon Blount!!!!

Be sure to stay tuned to my blog, Facebook, and Instagram sites. I’ll be sharing snippets over the next few months, as well as having a few more contests with more opportunities to win eBooks and autographed paperbacks! You’ll need to access those sites in order to answer the contest questions!

And of course, if you haven’t read A Heart Not Easily Broken (Book 1) or Jaded (Book 2), or would like to know more about the series and it’s characters, Check out The Butterfly Memoirs page. There you’ll find character bios, diary posts, and a hidden scene!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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Wanna get your chat on???

No Sample Sunday today, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have something for you!

Tomorrow is the last day to enter the contest to win an eBook copy of Lonely Heart (Book 3 of The Butterfly Memoirs) on the day it releases! That date will be announced on Tuesday, October 1st,  along with the winner! Good luck!

Contest and interview with Brian and Ebony of A Heart Not Easily Broken! 

This evening I will be participating in a phone chat with the Real Readers Real Words Facebook group! This should be a lot of fun! If your not a member of the 3RW, no worries! You can still participate! Call and listen in! If you have questions you’ve been dying to ask, post them to my Facebook Author Page and I’ll try my best to answer them on the air!

7:30 PM EST!!! 605-475-4000 code 126643#

Hope to ‘see’ you there!

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

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The Butterfly Memoirs- Contest and Book Review!

Did you read Sunday’s blog post????? If you missed it, you missed out on the ‘update’ of whats going on with Brian and Ebony of A Heart Not Easily Broken….AND….you missed the CONTEST!!!!
Follow the link to enter and you have a chance to win an ebook copy of the next book in the series, Lonely Heart, on it’s release day! (Release day will officially be announced next month!) The contest ends on September 30 and the winner will be announced on Tuesday, October the 1st!
If you haven’t read A Heart Not Easily Broken, but are curious as to what readers have to say, check out this great review from an Amazon Reader!
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, Flowing, Lyrical, Absorbing, September 22, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

I first heard about M.J. and the Butterfly Memoirs series via Twitter, where I came across several positive reviews. I ran here to read what Amazon readers were saying and ordered both “A Heart Not Easily Broken” and “Jaded” that same day. When the books arrived, I eagerly began to read “A Heart Not Easily Broken.” To say I was hooked is an understatement. I loved the books, loved M. J.’s writing style, and now have a new favorite author.

I’ve read quite a number of novels in the IR genre over the years. My interest was primarily due to my own relationship, and the desire to see African-American women portrayed as appealing, interesting, sensual, fully-formed characters – women I could recognize and relate to, and with whom I could go on a journey as I read their stories. I wasn’t always able to find novels that embraced all those elements. However, M. J. hit all those notes, and made me care deeply about the characters. I recognized Ebony. I liked her very much. She was real to me. Her struggles were real. Her dreams and goals were real. Her insecurities were real. Her self-assessment was real.

M.J.’s characterization of Brian was also quite vivid and rooted in reality. He was a good guy. He wasn’t a billionaire whose money and lifestyle could erase any and all challenges the couple might face. He wasn’t Ebony’s “savior” – she could save herself. He was “simply” a good man, with dreams and goals of his own. One who could appreciate a beautiful woman – no matter the “outer” form. He just liked what he saw. But he was also a man who could appreciate a good woman – a man who wanted a partner, someone with whom he could grow – a woman willing to share her goals, and support him in his. And he was willing to do the same.

Ebony and Brian’s relationship flowed so organically – as other readers have mentioned. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was mutual appreciation, with a bit of lust (!) at first sight. Brian pursued her, to be sure, but they got to know each other slowly – in real time, it seemed. They didn’t rush. They continued to learn about about each other, and realized that the mix of similarities and differences made the other all the more appealing.

The “serious plot point” that I won’t spoil was handled deftly and realistically. One of the marks of a great writer is being able to take the reader completely into a particular “scene” or circumstance. Suffice it to say, M. J. is a great writer.

I could wax eloquent about this book for hours. I loved it so much, and it instantly became my standard against which I will assess all other IR romances. “Jaded”, the second book in the series, was another fantastic read, with richly drawn characters and some twists and turns I didn’t expect. The story truly pulled me in.

I was so glad I bought both books at the same time. I’m anxiously awaiting the 3rd book in this trilogy. Hurry up, M.J.! 🙂

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Learn more about the characters!

Character Biography

Ebony’s Diary

Brian’s Musings

Read Chapter One

The Deleted Scene

If you haven’t read the Amazon Bestseller, A Heart Not Easily Broken, buy your copy today! It’s $3.99 and available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

AHNEB FINAL COVER

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jadedvisit this link! 

Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

I Got My T-Shirt!!!!!

Remember my post last week about receiving the book review of A Heart Not Easily Broken by The Masquerade Crew? If not, read the post: I Got Reviewed by the Masquerade Crew and Survived!!! So imagine my surprise when I logged on to Twitter this morning and found this tweet:  

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And if that wasn’t enough to make me smile through sleepy eyes, this tweet followed:

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And what a great post it is! Check it out!

The Leap of Faith of Book Reviews

So, if your looking for a honest review (and I’m not saying that we never receive any from readers because believe me, I have, both good and bad!), be sure to check them out! Their review policy is listed on their site so read it carefully and know what your signing up for! Like I said in my previous blog, I’m glad I did and will happily do it again! 

Happy Reading! 

 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog! 

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

I Got Reviewed by The Masquerade Crew and Survived!!!!!!

Now, where is my t-shirt?!?!?!?!?

Okay, I am letting out a deep breath now. For weeks I’ve been anxiously checking my Twitter feed for the tweet to notify me the review for A Heart Not Easily Broken was posted. For those of you who may not know, The Masquerade Crew is one of the biggest book review sites on the web.

Big as in over 19,000 followers on Twitter, 452 followers on Google+, 859 likes on Facebook and oh yeah, according to the counter at the bottom of their page this morning, an average of over 16,800 site views in the past 7 days!

And when it comes to book reviews, these guys pull no punches and are brutally honest. So, needless to say, responding to a call of Romance novels to be reviewed was a leap of faith.  I had to sit and think long and hard before submitting my debut novel, not sure of how this could either help or hurt me, because in the end, like I mentioned before, see the number of social networking contacts? Yeah…one bad review and there’d be no hiding it….period.

Well, I awoke this morning and discovered this tweet in my Twitter stream….

IMG_0757[1]

3.7?!?!?!?!

I am going to OWN THAT BAD BOY LIKE YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE!!!!

Like I said before, these guys don’t hold back and from what I’ve seen, it’s hard to get past a 3 on their rating scale, and according to their review policy, a 3.5 and up is a 4 on Amazon and Goodreads! So best believe, I am doing the happy dance right now!!

I loved the way the reviewer described what she liked about the main characters, Ebony and Brian, and how she felt the subject matter was handled. The portions she did mention could use a little fixing are nothing new, as in a few reviewers have said it before. Remember when I posted a few weeks ago about learning from your reviews (Book Reviews: The Good, The Bad and the WTH?!?!)? Well, trust me, the comments that were made have been addressed when writing the second novel in the series, Jaded. I haven’t seen similar comments made in any of it’s reviews which is a good thing! I listen to what my reviews are telling me, and while I may not be able to back track and change what’s already been done, I do make a contentious effort to correct it in the next book. As any author I’ve talked to and I’m sure any author will tell you, each book is a learning experience, a chance to become a better writer than you were in the last one. Listen to your reviewers, listen to your readers, and grow…your audience and fan base will grow with you.

So with that said, I say a very heartfelt THANK YOU to my reviewer over at The Masquerade Crew for giving  my DEBUT NOVEL, first book written EVER such an awesome review! Stop by and check it out, my friends!

A Heart Not Easily Broken reviewed by The Masquarad Crew

If you haven’t read it yet, buy your copy today for $3.99! It will make a great weekend read!

Available for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and on Smashwords. If Paperback is what you prefer, find it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble! 

AHNEB FINAL COVER

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond-haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

ONE CLICK for REVIEWS, FREE CHAPTER READS, ALL SALES LINKS!

For more information on The Butterfly Memoirs Series and a sample of the next book, Jadedvisit this link! 

Looking for more #8Sunday Samples? Visit this link! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online! MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

#WriterWednesday- New Release- A Woman’s Worth by Chicki Brown

AWW REVISED FINAL COVER - Facebook size

School media specialist, Gianne Marvray, has been through the worst two years of her life physically and emotionally. After a battle with cancer and all it entails, she is finally ready to start living her life again. She wants to see new places, meet new people and experience new things, but she isn’t ready for the rollercoaster ride she’s about to embark on when she meets Las Vegas personal trainer and raw vegan foods advocate, Marc Stafford.

 After a four year absence, Marc comes home to Atlanta to attend a family celebration in one of his brother’s honor. He’s not thrilled about seeing his father, but he has promised his mother that he won’t throw off the family balance by being the only one of their six sons absent. All Marc wants to do is make an appearance at the event and spend a little time with his brothers. Little does he know that this is the night he will meet the woman who will forever change his life.

 EXCERPT:

“I wasn’t aware that you and Marcus knew each other,” Dr. Stafford said, eyeing his son from where he stood in the kitchen that opened into an enormous family room with an equally enormous fireplace facing floor-to-ceiling windows.

“We just met today, Daddy,” Marc said, giving an anxious glance into the spacious room beyond the kitchen. The two toddlers had made themselves comfortable on either side of a woman Marc introduced as Ramona, Vic’s wife. Heat filled Gianne’s cheeks when Ramona looked her up and down and said, “My God, she’s gorgeous, Marc.”

Gianne wondered why he didn’t bother to tell her they weren’t a couple, but he merely said, “And that’s coming from a former Miss Georgia. She’s responsible for giving old ugly Vic these cute kids.”

“Marc’s here!” Nick announced and almost a dozen pairs of eyes focused on them. Two equally good-looking men rose from the sectional sofa and rushed over to meet her.

“These are the two you haven’t met, Greg and Nick. Gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Gianne Marvray.”

She scanned the three men before her and silently thought that the fineness quotient in this one room was off the charts.

“Whoa. You’re looking real Vegas, man,” Greg said, giving the hair draping over Marc’s collar a playful flip.

Gianne didn’t miss the way Marc drew back with a quick jerk before he said, “Well, we’re a little more relaxed out west.”

Dr. Stafford shook his head and groused, “Too relaxed, if you ask me.”

Marc’s mother reached up and patted his cheek. “I love his hair long. It reminds me of when he was a little boy.”

“And people always mistook him for a girl,” Dr. Stafford mumbled.

His father’s comment seemed strange to her, since it was clear Marc had him to thank – or blame – for the wavy hair, only Dr. Stafford’s was cut short and brushed back from his face.

The air in the room crackled with a confusing mixture of love, admiration, jealousy, disappointment, and hurt feelings. Gianne couldn’t wait to learn more about them.

 Amazon     Nook

Coming soon to Kobo and Smashwords!

 

***Enjoy the sample! Let Chicki know by leaving a comment and you just may win a free copy of the book! ***

About the Author:

Shades of Romance Magazine 2011 Author of the Year, Chicki Brown has published six novels and one novella, all of which have made different Kindle bestseller lists.

A voracious reader since she was a child, Chicki grew up in New Jersey reading everything she could get her hands on. Now she concentrates on romance, women’s fiction and suspense.

Mother of two and grandmother of five, Brown was born and raised in New Jersey and now calls suburban Atlanta, Georgia home.

She can be found at any of the following sites:

Blog     Pinterest     Twitter     Facebook

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, sign up for the monthly newsletter by following this blog!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Instagram  Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

#Coming Soon! Miss Perfect: Shaw Family Saga, Book 3 by Nicole Dunlap

Missperfect

Miss Perfect: Shaw Family Saga, Book 3

 

Their desire for perfection will be… shattered

Charlene Shaw embodies perfection as a highly-acclaimed actress. Within her gilded walls of beauty, she is scrambling to save her daughter, Raven, from sins she can’t even fathom. This is her self-imposed curse for abandoning Raven as a child.

Raven Shaw is captivatingly gorgeous but burdened by a closet of skeletons. After a rough childhood, she is finally living life. Jon, her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved, has returned. Yet, a stalker looms just out of reach, blackmailing her for Jon’s fortune. She’d do anything to keep this man–even if it means turning to another… Mysterious, handsome Tyriq may have the key to erase her deepest, darkest secrets forever. Yet, this savior might threaten her mind’s rationale of “happily ever after” with Jon.

In this intense third installment of the Shaw Family Saga there will be blood, murder, and a beloved …will be shattered.

punk-queen-pink-black

Join the Paperback book Giveaway

  1. 1.     Add Miss Perfect on your Goodreads list
  2. 2.     Like facebook.com/authornicoledunlap (if you have already, you’re in the clear)
  3. 3.     Wait til September 12, book launch day. Winner will be contacted through Goodreads within seven days. Good luck!

 

About the Author:

Nicole Dunlap holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Child Development, and a Masters Degree in Educational Counseling from Azusa Pacific University–mantra Jesus first. She counsels in the inner city of San Bernardino; motivating teens dealing with depression, pregnancy, gang membership and abuse. She has been self dubbed the “gumbo genre” novelist, because books shouldn’t be lightly seasoned… Her stories revolve around family and relationships, women’s issues, drizzled with drama, peppered with suspense, and finished off with aromatic notes of romance. The Shaw Family Saga pays homage to dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships, with well developed characters that readers can root for; love them, hate them, cry for, and most of all, yearn to flip through the pages to the end of that character’s journey.

 Website     Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Goodreads     Twitter     Facebook     YouTube

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook    Pinterest     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

#SampleSunday and a little bit more…….

After a long day of hard work, bleeding eyes, and burning a few brain cells, the new look of my blog is complete!  But not only that, I have an announcement to make!

Starting JULY 1st-31st, my debut and Bestselling novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken, is on sale for .99 cents!

Yep, you read that right! If you’ve been waiting for the best deal, THIS IS IT!!!!!

Here’s a little sample to wet that appetite!

Excerpt: 

Chapter 1

“This is the last time I wear this dress.”

“Oh, please, Ebony,” Yasmine, my best friend and roommate, yelled in my ear.

The music pounding out of the nightclub’s speakers made it nearly impossible to hear her.

“Stop fidgeting. You look uncomfortable,” she added, winking at the bartender who handed us our drinks.

No matter how many times I adjusted the hem of my dress, it was impossible to ignore the warm air tickling the backs of my thighs as people pushed past me in the crowded bar. It would take more fabric to keep my shapely derriere from involuntary exposure.

“Thanks.” I slipped money into the bartender’s tip jar, and he rewarded me with a gorgeous smile. “For the record, I am uncomfortable.” I turned to face Yasmine. “Freakum dresses are your thing, not mine.”

Yasmine laughed. “True, true, everyone’s not blessed with a body like mine.” She ran a hand over her hips, striking a pose. “Besides, I love showing mine off.”

I smirked before sipping my margarita. Yasmine’s light-skinned complexion, slender ballet dancer body, long legs, and B-cup breasts suited her personality.  There were times I wished my body was more like hers, though. It would make shopping for clothes a lot easier. As it was, I had been blessed with the shapely figure my Nana called ‘bootylicious’.  According to her, and her photo albums, I looked just like her when she was my age, with caramel-colored skin, perfectly proportioned hips, a butt that drew major attention, and D-cup breasts, making it hard for a man to look me straight in the eye.

I groaned while making another wardrobe adjustment. The jaw-dropping cleavage of my dress threatened to give my ‘girls’ their own airtime.

“I love my body, too. I’d just rather not show it to everyone.”

Yasmine shook her head while my attention went back to the patrons of the club. A wide variety of men lined the dark walls, standing just out of range of the overhead lights, making it impossible to pick out their faces in the smoky room. No doubt, many were on the hunt, looking for an easy lay. It shouldn’t be hard; one scan of the room revealed potential opportunities in every direction. Nearly every woman in the club wore a dress so tight it appeared to be a spray on, with skirts stopping just below their hips. I cringed. That sounded like my attire. Self-conscious, I tugged on the edges of my dress again.

The next time we go out, Yasmine is not selecting my outfit.

“That dress is going to get you some major action tonight. You’ll be thanking me in the morning…or afternoon.” She laughed.

I rolled my eyes. “I don’t have time to get into a real relationship right now. Finishing this last year of college is my focus. I’ve got to get that veterinarian job at the zoo, I’ve worked too hard to mess up now. Besides, I don’t need a man to take care of me.”

Yasmine smirked.

“Financially,” I clarified. “Having a nice body to lie against is a different story.”

She laughed and held out her hand for a high-five. “That’s my girl. Look around tonight. I bet you’ll find someone.” Her attention went to a dark skinned guy headed in our direction. He glanced over, smiled, and kept walking. “There’s one right there.”

He was attractive all right, but not the physical type I preferred. I was attracted to men who were tall, had thick lips, and eyes that peered into the depths of my soul. A man with the body of a sex machine, yet had no problem working hard for a living and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

One of the first things I noticed about a man was not his shoe size, but his hands. If they were too pretty and soft, the man didn’t believe in hard work. If they were overly calloused with visible dirt under the nails and full of scrapes and bruises, those were signs that a man didn’t take care of the little things, which meant the rest of him would be questionable. Now, a man with hands somewhere in between, calloused from work with no traces of dirt under his nails, those were signs of a hardworking man who could clean up nice. Everywhere.

I shook my head and sipped my drink. “He’s not my type.”

“Stop being picky. It’s only going to be a summer fling.”

“Even so, if I’m going to give a man my body and my time, I should at least be able to hold an intelligent conversation. Everything doesn’t have to happen between the sheets.”

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Read the rest of Chapter One here! 

AHNEB Sale with seal pic 450

 

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

 

 

 

Available for .99 cents starting JULY 1st-31st! 

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the second book in The Butterfly Memoirs series, JADED!

For more information, visit this link! 

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

About Me     Twitter     Facebook     Google+      Goodreads     Linkedin     Email

How Important is Branding to an Unpublished Author or Published Author?

Website Author Banner

Branding, we’ve all heard of it. Products such as Tide with the large orange bottle, McDonald’s and those unforgettable golden arches, and then there is Chili’s and the green jalapeno pepper, to name a few. These and many more can be found in nearly every town, on TV, and on the web. Each of them has one thing in common: the use of color, shape, or item represents the company and products they sell.

How does this relate to an author, published or unpublished?

When a publishing house prints a book, the covers are unique to each book, but have you noticed that no matter how many books an author publishes with that line, the font of their name is (usually) the same? If the book is part of a series, regardless of what number it is, the main title will be the same, for example, the Harry Potter series.  The colors change from cover to cover, but the font remains the same.  This allows fans to find it when scanning the shelves of libraries and book stores. Think about it, do you read each and every name on the cover when looking for your favorite author, or do you allow your eyes to find the size, shape, and ever familiar font of the authors name to know you’ve found what you were looking for?

Did you know you don’t have to be a published author to develop your brand? I established mine before I began querying.

Let me tell you how…

In 2010, upon the advice of those around me, I started a blog. The point of blogging was to help me improve my writing skills. The experience taught me how to engage an audience and receive feedback and participation through comments. And while I was nowhere near ready to publish anything I wrote, I did build a following. The more I shared my experiences, the more people followed my blog. I also established connections via popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.  Visitors to my blog connected with me online, and online connections started visiting my blog. It was months before I upgraded my online presence ‘picture’ from a downloaded image of a heart and book to being brave enough to show my face.  And wouldn’t you know it, the moment I put my picture up, my following on all platforms increased!

Without realizing it, my face became a part of my brand. No matter what social networking site I am attached to, you’re going to find the same picture, same name…easy recognition.

Next came creating a brand, or theme, for the books. The Butterfly Memoirs series is a Contemporary Romance novel that features interracial couples dealing with real life issues. I knew from the moment I started writing my covers would not have the typical Man/Woman embarrassing or half naked. I like symbolism in my stories and I carry that theme in my covers. The series covers will always consist of two main elements, a butterfly to symbolize the female character as well as the image of something that represents the male character in the book.

As for the series itself, I have a logo of a butterfly imprinted into a wax seal that says ‘The Butterfly Memoirs’ and my name, thus branding the series. So anytime you see my picture, logo, or book cover, you’ll know it’s me.

Though you may not be writing a series, you still need to build a brand for yourself and for your audience. Here are a few simple tips, and the best part, they don’t cost a thing!

Branding your online image:

Here are a few tips on taking an author picture without spending a lot of money. Remember, your picture introduces you to your readers. As they say, a picture says a thousand words!

  • Photography equipment: If you can’t afford a professional headshot, take advantage of the features of your digital camera or cell phone camera.
  • Setting: Plain back grounds or simple settings work best. The key is to engage with the reader, not have them wonder where you were when the picture was taken.
  • Wardrobe: Keep it simple! Use solid colors that compliment you. Keep away from strips and patterns because they are distracting. Ladies, keep that jewelry simple, guys, don’t forget to shave or tighten up that hair cut! (Of course, if grungy or over the top is what you’re going for as your ‘persona’, have fun!) *TIP: If you study my picture, you’ll see I wear a butterfly ring that is facing the camera and not away. I am pulling my book/series brand into my image. It’s subliminal branding!
  • Posing: Be comfortable! Don’t try some awkward pose that will translate pain in your eyes though your lips are smiling. Be natural, focus on the camera, and imagine you’re looking directly at your reader. Keep your mind clear…negative thoughts will translate through your facial features no matter how hard you try! Sell yourself!
  • Editing: When done, upload your picture and crop it to take out any blank spaces, once again, the focus should be on you. Readers want to know who YOU are. Off centered images with dead spaces are distracting as well as poor lighting.
  • Sharing: Now that you have your picture, share it with the world! Post it on all of your networking sites so readers will recognize you, no matter where they are! Most people recognize and remember faces before names. If you have one picture on Facebook, and another on Twitter, and yet another on Google+, fans will be unsure if it’s you. Keep it uniform! If at any time you change or update your photo, be sure to change it on all of your sites. **Ignore the urge to change it up every few weeks! Even though your name may be sitting beside the image, people recognize faces before names. Again, it’s branding! After all, McDonald’s doesn’t change the color or shape of their golden arches!**

Branding your style as an author:

  • Your writing style and the way you give voice to your characters is a part of your brand. Read books from two of your favorite authors. Notice how the authors writing style/voice varies from one another, yet, when you read more than one of their books, each of their stories have a similar tone, speech pattern, or even use of particular phrases that distinguishes their writing style from someone else’s. So should yours.
  • Interactions with fans on social media can make or break you. How many times have you come across offensive, political, or highly opinionated posts or tweets that have offended you or left you with a sour taste in your mouth about the commenter? Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but beware of using your social presence as a showcase for your opinions. Readers now have access to you online and will pay close attention to what you have to say. Make your post count. There are times to joke; there are times to be professional. There are times when your fingers need to be still on the keyboard and you avoid addressing a comment, even if it stings. The last thing you want to do is turn off a fan due to your political views or personal feelings. Instead, use your online presence as a way to build your fan base, sharing information about you, your books, and upcoming projects. Fans these days love author/reader interaction. As Indie authors, we have a chance to do what many NYT Bestsellers can’t…talk to our fans on a regular bases. Readers love it!
  • Make your online presence known. Websites are the home base of your brand, the place where a reader can be directed and learn everything about you. This can be done one of two ways: 1.) pay for a professional website or 2.) Take advantage of free website tools and build your own. Sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com, and Wix.com, to name a few, offer free blog hosting. (I’ve used all three, and WordPress, which hosts this blog/website, is by far the best!) All you have to do is create an account. This takes time and patience, but can be an educational and rewarding experience. Keep your site professional with links to all of your social networking sites, products (remember, your book is a product), and any merchandise (free reads, etc.) The more work you put into it, the more people will be drawn back to it to see what’s new. Don’t publish content and step away. Website maintenance and fresh information is a must in order to keep your readers coming back. Your website represents you 24/7, even when you are not online. Content should include: a picture, a well-written bio, (remember, you’re an author. It should be free of grammatical errors. If you have a poorly written bio, readers will hesitate to purchase your books because they feel they will be written the same way), all sales links and links to social sites where they can find, follow, or contact you. Your site should also include information about your books (book blurbs), and a sample of your work for them to read.

I know it sounds daunting and like a lot of work, and believe me it is! The point of all of this is you’re a writer and it’s what you love. In order to be successful, you have to put in the work. Marketing and discovering your brand is all about knowing who you are and how you want your writing perceived. By the way, I’m not telling you something that I haven’t done. Everything you see on this site was done by me and it took weeks! But it was well worth it! J