To celebrate the publication of Baby Bailino this month, I’m conducting my first #AmazonGiveaway! You can win one of 3 copies of Baby Grand. All you have to do is click here for details. There’s absolutely NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The giveaway ends on Sept. 8, 2016, at 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. (Official Rules here.)

Why do a giveaway? There are lots of reasons: to find new readers, to create excitement. I conducted a Goodreads giveaway in October 2012, and more than 1,000 people entered. And like Goodreads, Amazon really does make it easy to set up your giveaway. Just pick the number of copies you’d like to give away, how you’d like to give them away (random, lucky number, etc.), set the duration of the giveaway, and you’re off!

Will my sales increase as a result of the giveaway? Ah, that’s the magic question, isn’t it? And the answer is: I don’t know. But I believe it’s worth checking out all the tools we indie authors have at our disposal to get the word out about our books. The more people who know about us, the better, and this is certainly one way to achieve that objective.

Why I Went All-In With Amazon

eLuna_screenshotThe ebooks of Baby Grand and Baby Bailino are now part of Amazon’s KDP Select program.

For those who don’t know about the program, when you sign on to KDP Select, you agree to sell your eBook only in the Kindle format (you can continue selling your paperbacks anywhere you wish). In exchange for this exclusivity, you are given some perks.

When I first published Baby Grand back in May 2012, I joined KDP Select and left after the first three-month period was over. Why did I leave? I thought it was a successful run, but I wasn’t really interested in offering my book for free (a big perk of KDP Select) and I had friends who were diehard Nook readers who wanted access to the book. So I went wide, as they say, and uploaded it to Kobo, iTunes, Nook, and other resellers. (For more details on why I left KDP Select, I blogged about it here.)

Four years later, things are a bit different. How:

  1. I have a four-year track record with Amazon. And, BY FAR, I have sold more Kindle versions of Baby Grand than I have any other outlet or edition. Amazon SELLS books.
  2. I have found — despite many opinions to the contrary — Amazon to be good to readers AND authors, offering low pricing and high royalties, respectively. And for such a mega-company, the customer service support is efficient and prompt.
  3. The introduction of Kindle Unlimited, which offers more than a million titles and thousands of audiobooks to subscribers. Books that are enrolled in KDP Select are also enrolled into Kindle Unlimited. This helps to increase the discoverability of the Baby Grand Series. Very important. After just a few days in the program, nearly 1,000 pages have already been read by subscribers. (Kindle Unlimited is populated mostly with books written by indie authors, like me. I like the idea of all of us getting the chance to find new readers.)

All this was enough to make me reconsider my participation in the program. It seemed like a good deal. And the right time, particularly with the sequel to Baby Grand on its way. So I decided to pull all the ebooks from Smashwords, the Self-e program (I was sad to leave this one), and others. At least for now. In three months’, six months’, nine months’ time, I can look at my sales and reevaluate. If something doesn’t seem to be working, I can always mix it up again.That’s the great thing about being an indie author. The decisions — writing, editing, publishing, marketing — are mine.


Book Trailer #2

When I woke up this morning, a second book trailer was the furthest thing from my mind, but I had some free time and — like the first book trailer — was able to put this together really quickly, in less than a half hour (with a little help from my tech guru, my oldest son). As I often discuss in this blog and in my classes, indie authors need to take advantage of whatever tools they have at their disposal to market their books. A little creativity goes a long way in social media circles. So put on your thinking caps! This video was put together using Microsoft PowerPoint and YouTube and cost me nothing but a few minutes of time. Would love to hear your thoughts!


BabyBailino_digital_final_FINALAs you work on self-publishing your book, you may want to consider getting a blurb or two. What are blurbs? Words of praise or reviews from another person that go directly onto your book cover or flap. Their purpose is simply to convince readers to buy your book. People like to read books that are liked by other people, so if a popular author gives a book an endorsement or her stamp of approval, that author’s legions of fans are opt to get on board and buy that book.

Who should write a blurb for you?

Well, there are no rules, but there are three good candidates:

  1. Celebrity
  2. Well-known author in your genre (fiction)
  3. Well-respected individual in your field (nonfiction)

How do you go about getting a blurb?

It’s easy. Create a list of potential book blurbers — maybe 7 or 8 — kind of like a list you would make when applying to college. Divide the list into “reach” (blurbers who are probably hard to get, like celebrities), “match” (those for whom you have a good shot a landing a blurb), and “safety” (people very likely to provide you with a blurb). And then simply go down the line and ask each one. The great thing about social media and the internet is that anyone is accessible.

Remember, of course, to always be courteous and to make sure that you’ve spelled the person’s name correctly and that your request carries no typos or grammatical/punctuation errors. (I believe written requests, in the form of emails, are best. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a telephone number for someone famous.) The worst that could happen is that person will say is no, but he or she might surprise you and say yes. At the very least, even if the person declines, he or she will remember your name.

I humbly asked David Baldacci to blurb my new book, Baby Bailino (he declined), but his associate remembered that I had asked four years earlier for Baby Grand (as you can see I tend to never give up). My hope is that the third time will be the charm.

The Scarsdale Library’s 2016 Festival of Writing by Judith Abelove Shemtob

It’s so thrilling to see a new author hit the scene. I had the pleasure of meeting Judy at an event I did in Scarsdale, N.Y. I’m so glad to see she has found her “someplace.”

the good book corner

The Scarsdale Library’s 2016 Festival of Writing by Judith Abelove Shemtob

The Scarsdale Library Writers Center marked its 2016 Festival of Writing on June 12. Sixteen authors read aloud their pieces to an audience of forty-five. I was one of them, a member of the Scarsdale Morning Scribes.

I sat in this same Wrexham House at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville two months ago to hear my critique group leader read from her recently published novel The Last Dreamer. I wanted to show support and understand more about being published.

The only seats remaining were in the last row. My fingers touched the clip holding my story together. My husband joined me.

My name was listed seventh in the program. I knew some people but not others.

The reading began. Many authors thanked Jimin Han and Barbara Solomon Josselsohn, for leading the three writing groups at the library.

Listening wasn’t…

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I Blame Tommy Lee Jones

After I wrote Baby Grand, I decided to write a stand-alone novel, In the Red, before I tackled the sequel. I tend to do that, even if I’m reading (and not writing) a series — I concentrate on a work that’s completely unrelated, and then return to the next book in the series. I find that the distance creates a little perspective and pushes me more to think about the characters and plot lines and what they mean before I plunge back in.

G3stickmenI finished In the Red after a looong four years, and, unfortunately, realized that it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. It needed some major revisions, and I decided that, rather than doing that, which would take quite some time, I would instead start writing Baby Bailino, the sequel to Baby Grand. This was in late 2014.

In spring of this year, I finished Baby Bailino. So now — as I prepared Baby Bailino for publication — it was time to move onto my next book, which, based on history, would be something completely different from the series I was working on. Right? However, In the Red had so many issues, which freaked me out, and had taken so long to write. I didn’t want to wait four years to start the final Baby Grand book!

I decided (isn’t it fun making these arbitrary decisions?) that it would be best to start writing the last book in the Baby Grand series immediately instead of doing something unrelated. Perfect. Sounds like a plan. I would start writing the next Baby Grand book right away.

And then I watched an old Tommy Lee Jones movie.

I have a certain affinity for suspense movies made in the 1990s. I don’t know why. I turn them on whenever I catch them on TV. The Fugitive. The Firm. Primal Fear. Anything with Ashley Judd. I tend to find my greatest inspirations there. (Baby Grand, in fact, was inspired by Robert De Niro’s character in Heat.)

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Baby Bailino: Promo Video

This 15-second video was a cinch to put together. All I needed was my book cover, some type, and some fade-in animation, and the quick PowerPoint was complete. Converting the PowerPoint to video took some time, only because my particular version of PowerPoint didn’t have that easy “Create a Video” button that the newer versions have. Luckily, my college-age son had the most recent edition, so I emailed him the PPT and he created the MP4 in, literally, minutes. Then he zapped it back, and I uploaded the file to YouTube, added the music (free, courtesy of YouTube, which asks that you credit the music authors in your description), and voila! A cute little promo video. Then, using a YouTube Downloader app, I downloaded the video, so I am able to use it in other forms of marketing, like here. :) Such a great time to be an indie author!