Saturday, August 24, 2013

Why Host a Goodreads Giveaway?

     There are varying opinions about giveaways.  Some authors cringe at giving their work away due to the incredible effort, time and money they've put into it.  They also don't want to devalue their work by handing it out for free.  This makes sense; however, part of the reason writers do what they do is to entertain.  It's hard to entertain your audience when they don't even know you're there.  And thus the reason many authors host free days on Amazon, do Goodreads giveaways and the like.  By giving away a few books or other gift, the writer gains exposure to a wider audience.  They might not buy the book right away, but at least they know it's there.

    When we did our book tour with Beck Valley Books, we had a $50 gift card giveaway tied to the tour. We had over 24,000 entries!  Of course many of those just wanted the money, but it got the book in front of many sets of eyes.  Getting it in front of readers increases the chances they will go further and read about the book.  At that point, it's the book that has to draw them in.  The cover has to catch their eye, the synopsis has to pique their interest and the writing needs to leave them wanting more.  

     Soon after publishing the first four books of the Guiamo Chronicles, we were introduced to Goodreads by Grace Best-Page, author of The Death and Life of Sherlock Holmes.  If you love to read and haven't discovered Goodreads, you should check it out.  If you look up Goodreads in Wikipedia, this is what you'll read: 

"As of July 2012, the site reported 10 million members, 20 million monthly visits, and 30 employees. On July 23, 2013, it was announced on their website that the user base had grown to 20 million members, doubling in close to 11 months."

So Why Goodreads?

     No matter how long you've been around, it would be hard to duplicate that kind of traffic.  We have done giveaways on Goodreads for Guiamo and Cumoro already.  The first having over 1,000 entries and the second around 700.  In contrast, when we gave away a complete set of the first four books at the end of the  Blogger Book Fair with the help of rafflecopter, we had around 50 entries.  When people enter the giveaways on Goodreads, many will add the book to their "to read" shelf.  This means it won't get lost in the shuffle.  Months after the giveaway, there will still be a reminder about that new book they wanted to check out.  Many will not win, but will end up purchasing the book down the road.

     And so, we are hosting another giveaway on Goodreads, this time for book 3, Morlanos.  For those who have already read books one and two, this is a great chance to get a print copy of book 3.  For those who haven't, book one, Guiamo, is only $2.99, a pretty good deal for a book that has received 16 five star reviews!  If this is your first visit to our blog, you can read about all four books here.  

     It's been a pleasure meeting so many people in the writing and reading community.  Thanks to all who have shared their knowledge to help us. If you're a new author getting started, our Twitter stream @ancumer has many tweets of articles that have been very helpful to us.  If you're a reader, we'd love to have you join us on Twitter or our Facebook page, The Chronicles of Guiamo Durmius Stolo.  And of course, you can find Marshall on Goodreads as well. 

 So, take a minute to enter.  It's painless we promise! 

Having destroyed the Fomori in Britain , Guiamo Durmius Stolo decides in 51 B.C. to bring the Cruthin people, once slaves to the Fomori, to Ireland , but encounters the Fomori who reside there as well. Guiamo discovers that the gods venerated by the Druids are unworthy. The gods are displeased with him and begin to work against him.

Combining legitimate legends with actual historical events, Marshall Best weaves an epic story that portrays the ancient world as it might have been, a world which the ancient historians recorded as fact; a time when gods ruled the earth and strange creatures dominated the land. It is the era of civilized conquerors exploring distant and primitive new lands. Scant recordings left to us today only touch on the fringe of the fantastic and brutal reality that existed in those distant lands of the west. Into this age, young Guiamo enters the world stage as the great game-changer, and by his hand the gods and beasts become destined to disappear into myth and legend.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Helping Hand ~ Connecting With Readers

Back in December of 2012, I began to experiment with Twitter.  My teenager knew all about it.  I knew nothing.  I made some mistakes and blunders along the way.  If I annoyed any of you ( or am doing so now) I apologize.  Many an author (or author's significant other) looking to connect with readers through social media have made mistakes.  Not being one to study, observe and learn before jumping in, I was no exception.  Over the last several months I have attempted to help others in spreading the word about their works as well as forward on helpful articles I have run across.  And of course, I've consistently told whoever would listen about Marshall's books.  The writing community as a whole has truly been helpful, gracious and understanding.  I know there is still a lot to learn.  I'm looking forward to the days ahead.

I've heard of stumbleupon but have no experience using it.  As I've traveled the twitter-verse, that's exactly the term I would use for some of the best connections I've made in promoting the Guiamo Chronicles.  In exploring, browsing, searching, I "stumbled upon" a blog advertising book tours. The comments were positive, the blog well done and so I took a stab and reached out inquiring about their possible interest in doing a tour for Guiamo.  The rest is history. The Guiamo Book Tour was an incredible success and encouragement. 

Our experience with Beck Valley Books was a positive one from start to finish.  Sharon, who does the computer side of things, was quick to answer any questions I had and stayed on top of all that needed to be done.  She went above and beyond in helping to promote Guiamo.  Even after the tour was over, she offered to post about a giveaway we were doing as part of the Blogger Book Fair.  Many companies do what they were paid for and then move on.  Not so with Sharon! I'm confident that Beck Valley Books will be a valuable partner in continuing to share the news of Guiamo with others.  

As I've told Sharon via e-mail, if we ever make it over to England, we would love to meet in person. We wish Sharon and Stephen all our best.

And now, pull up a chair as I interview the people behind Beck Valley Books to learn a little more about their journey into the literary world. 

Introducing Beck Valley Books!

~ Could you introduce yourselves to our readers and share a little bit about the two of you?

Hi everyone we are Sharon & Stephen, a pair of book lovers who live in the UK.  We have been married for almost 20 years and have two lovely teenage boys who keep us very busy indeed!   We both work full time as well as running our online bookstore and book blog.

~ We met through the Beck Valley Books book blog, but originally you started as book sellers. Tell us a little bit about your journey in the business of selling and blogging as well as how long you have been a part of the book world.

Our passion for books started many years ago, we love books and constantly went to as many car boots, jumble sales and auctions as we could to find more books for our ever expanding collection. From many visits to the beautiful Northumberland, filled with lovely old bookshops, our dream started of owning our own bookshop one day. After one particular visit we returned home to the news of a bereavement and due to my own ill health which meant I could not return to my previous occupation we decided that there was no need to wait any longer and that is when it all began.

~ What makes Beck Valley Books different than other online bookstores?
I would say because we are a small family run business and value our loyal customers. We have our books on site and know the true condition of them which is always reflected in the books description.  We love our books and want to share our passion with other book readers. 

~ Do you have any hopes and plans for the future?
Stephen hopes one day to have a physical bookstore, a book lovers paradise I think with sofa's, a coffee maker and even a chess board!!  We bought a beautiful book shaped table from an auction a couple of years ago and the first thing Stephen said was that it would go lovely in his book shop !!

~ The two of you work as a team. How do you split up the work? I know with our family, Marshall writes the books and I do the marketing.
I do all the computer side of things, which is massive, putting individual books online is quite time consuming especially the old books, but I love doing it.  Stephen does the buying and delivering and of course all the heavy lifting.

~ Share with us one or two of your successes. What things have you done in your journey that really worked?
I received a wonderful email from a customer who had been looking for his childhood book for over fifty years and finally found it on our store, he was absolutely overjoyed and we were thrilled for him.
The other obvious success is the book tours we now do, at first we started our Beck Valley Books blog to promote our bookstore but it has now become far more important which in a way is quite sad as we love our old, rare books and we are spending less and less time with them.  For me each old book has their own unique history and it's wonderful to pass this onto a new owner.

~ On the same note, what mistakes have you made in the past years that you hope others don’t repeat?
We started out selling every type of book possible but in time you will find a niche that fits your style and you can focus on selling in that particular area.  You have to be in it for the long haul, it isn't an easy way to make money you have to have the motivation to make it work.

~ What are some of the unwritten rules you go by in doing business with others online?
To be honest I don't think I have any x

~ Can you share a fun story of a book you have been involved with doing book tours over the years, perhaps finding an all time favorite read or an author success story?
We have met so many wonderful author's over the last couple of years and it has been an absolute pleasure working alongside all of them, they are such fun people to work with.  I love to hear that our book tours have made a difference in the books sales and online presence.  We have been very lucky up to now that there hasn't been one book that we haven't enjoyed, I think that may be down to the fact that we only review the books we feel that we would really enjoy ourselves.  
My all time favourite read has to be the general fiction book Swallowtail by Sheri Meshal, it was a spiritual delight and it left myself and many of the other reviewers still feeling the effects from reading it even now.

~ Thanks Stephen and Sharon for spending a little bit of time with us!  I'd have to say whether you know it or not, your unwritten rule is to treat others with courtesy, kindness and respect.  It's been a real pleasure!  

Support a Bookstore Today!

I know many are concerned that the bookstore may become a thing of the past.  Stephen and Sharon's dream is to own one of these jewels that are becoming  more rare.  Why not visit them today at Beck Valley Books and browse their selection.  You too might find a treasure!

For more information on tours or new authors to follow

Friday, August 16, 2013

Suggestions for Some Great #FridayReads

Are you looking for something new to read, something new to discover?  Let me introduce you to a few authors we have run across on our new journey in marketing Marshall's books.  And of course, please take a moment to read about Guiamo Chronicles as well!  The links below will take you to the authors' Amazon pages; however, many have e-books available through Smashwords as well for those who do not own a Kindle.  So grab a seat, stay awhile and maybe you'll find your next favorite author!

Brian Rathbone is a horse trainer turned author and creator of The World of Godsland fantasy series, which includes Call of the Herald, Inherited Danger, Dragon Ore, Regent, Feral, and Regal. He is also the author of the Sam Flock novels, a paranormal adventure series that begins with Lure.

Michael R. Hicks is a top selling science fiction author. Born in 1963, Michael Hicks grew up in the age of the Apollo program and spent his youth glued to the television watching the original Star Trek series and other science fiction movies, which continue to be a source of entertainment and inspiration.

Alon Shalev lives and writes in two worlds. His first epic fantasy novel, At The Walls Of Galbrieth, won the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award - YA Category and was a Grand Prize Finalist. The sequel, The First Decree, was released in March 2013, and the third book in the series, Ashbar, is expected in October.

That's all for now....check back in the morning and I'll add some more.

Well, it's not the's 11:00 p.m. but that's how life goes with a family.  If you would like to see me repeat this post next Friday with other authors, please leave a comment below.  It is amazing to me how many talented writers there are out there.  It would take a lifetime or more to read them all.  We all have different tastes and if Guiamo isn't your preference, we'd like to connect you with another author you may enjoy.  Below are a few more authors you might want to try.  Happy reading!

Oskar's Garden by Fresno Parker
In 1924, a veteran who has served with Marek's father in the Polish/Soviet war of 1920 comes to stay at the family boarding house near Chicago. Nobody realizes the man has a hidden agenda that isn't revealed until long after his death.

Years pass, and Marek learns that the veteran has left an inheritance. He only has to travel to Poland with the veterans ashes to receive it. It seems so easy on the surface, but Marek learns that Oskar has left a village of dark secrets and a toubled past behind.

Marek Zemple stands to gain more than he could have imagined if he has the courage to do what is right against all odds. An enigmatic young woman, a ruthless Polish general, and the invasion of the Nazi's are just a few of the obstacles he must face.

Finbar's Fiddle by Silas Champion
What happened after the cow jumped over the moon?

Well a lot. And most of it never made it into the book of rhymes. Which is exactly what Eleven-year-old Dallas McAllister discovers when she wakes up one morning dangling from a giant willow tree. Rescued by a fiddling cat named Finbar, Dallas makes her way through the land looking for Mother Goose.

With her knowledge of the rhymes, Dallas becomes famous for "knowing" the future. But when Old King Cole sends her deep into the Far Forest to rescue Humpty Dumpty, Dallas needs more than rhymes to stay alive. After all, Mother Goose never wrote anything about giant trolls and hungry wolves. How can a girl from Nebraska and fiddling cat do what all the king's men could not?

Silas Champion takes us on a merry romp through the nursery rhymes of Mother Goose. We follow Dallas as she learns there is more to these old rhymes than she ever suspected. There is more to Dallas as well.

The Art of the Knuckle Sandwich: Learning to get back up when life knocks you down
by Mr. Ricky M. Hansen Jr.
Not at all what you would expect from the title, this story has to deal with battling depression, learning from life lessons and overcoming.  Check it out!  And a Knuckle Sandwich won't be what you expect.  I'm' looking forward to reading this someday.

Well, it's late, so we'll end it there.  If you end up trying one of these authors and enjoy them, please come back, comment and let us know.  Are you looking for books in a specific genre?  Let me know that too and I'll try to find ones to fit your interests.

In addition to these, please stop on over and visit the Self Publishers Showcase where you can find many other independent authors with great books.  We'll be talking to Paul Martin, founder of the site, in the weeks to come.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Welcome to All New Readers

     As of today, Amazon has raised the price of Guiamo back to $2.99.  Over 2,000 people downloaded a free copy in the past couple of weeks.  We welcome you all to the adventure.  Many have begun to purchase the remaining books in the series.  If you would like to read more about each book and what others have to say about them, read The Guiamo Chronicles - Books 1-4 page.  As of today, we have our first review of book 3, Morlanos.  You can read it on Amazon here.  In the near future, we will have a guest post from Beck Valley Books.  We did a book tour with them which tremendously helped in getting the word out about Marshall's new series.  They are great people to work with.  We highly recommend them.  If you are a reader, they have lots of book reviews to check out as well. 

    We would love to connect with all of Marshall's new readers and followers.  Feel free to drop us a message here in the comments below, follow us on Twitter @ancumer, or like our page on Facebook.
You may also find Marshall on Goodreads.  If you haven't discovered Goodreads, it's a wonderful place to find new authors, books and connect with other readers.  Check it out!  Be looking for a giveaway of book three soon on Goodreads.

Thanks once again and we'll be in touch soon!

Marshall and Tracey Best

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