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The MacGregor Legacy 3-book series

From Scotland to the colonial Carolinas a family's faith is tested as they find grace

Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran

"Propels...into a realm of storytelling once dominated by Michael Crichton." ~ Robert Liparulo, author of Germ, The 13th Tribe and The Judgment Stone

Pieces of the Heart by Bonnie Calhoun

Available June 2013. Check out the video book trailer!

Finbar's Fiddle by Silas Champion

What happened after the cow jumped over the moon? Find out in Finbar's Fiddle, a new children's book to take you on merry romp. DOWNLOAD NOW!

"A Cup of Christmas Cheer"

Vol I, a collection of Christmas short stories available at Guidposts.org

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Photoshop Tutorial - Resizing Images

Over the next few months, we will be hosting free video tutorials on how to use PhotoShop CC. Our goal is to post at least one tutorial each week. While working with new authors, one of the most challenging issues many of them face is having to promote their books when they aren't marketers, graphic designers or digital marketing experts. It isn't realistic to hire someone to resize, crop, and save images in various file formats necessary for each social media upload or website update. Therefore, we are providing these simple tutorials to help your projects go more smoothly.



Friday, March 21, 2014

What You Need to Know About Digital Image Files

At one time only designers needed to know the different file types of digital images and how to use them, but times have changed. People who aren't designers are using the web, blogging and uploading images more than ever. With just a few tips, you can make your images pop and stand out among the masses. 

Image Files for the Web
There are 3 standard image files that are used on the web: 1) jpg, 2) gif, and 3) png. These files are best known for their compression ability and are recognized by most browsers. The average resolution size for a web image ranges from 72 - 150 dpi (dots per inch). The higher the number, the higher the resolution, which means the larger the file size and download ability takes longer. 

JPG or JPEG - Stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group and is the most commonly used file type on the web. It is best known for the ability to compress without losing quality. This file type cannot be used on a transparent background. Notice the basketball image to the right. On a white background it looks transparent because the background is white, but if we cut and paste it on another image, you can see the white background on the image below. The floor is the background, but with white around the ball, it looks awkward. 

PNG - Stands for Portable Network Graphics and is becoming more popular as it can be used on a transparent background. The ball without the white background on the image below was a png file that was cut and pasted onto the floor background. PNG files are better at being compressed without losing quality, unlike a gif file. If you have to choose between a gif or a png file because you need a transparent background, my advice is to go with the png file. 


GIF - Stands for Graphics Interchange Format and is used on transparent backgrounds. Unlike jpg and png files, it can also support animations. See the rotating earth below. Notice how the blue water has swirly lines in it? This because of resolution issues. Gifs supports up to 256 different colors, which makes it unsuitable in reproducing photos with continuous color, especially high-resolution. 



Print File Types

The following file types are not typically used on the web, but are preferred output file types for printing. The preferred resolution for a printable file is 300 dpi or higher. All of these files types can be converted into a web-based format using a program such as PhotoShop or some other photo editing program. 

TIFF - Stands for Tagged Image File Format and is often used by designers in laying out graphic design images. Since this file does not compress, it is usually large and takes up more storage space. Designers like using this file type while creating their design projects because it does not lose resolution no matter how many times it is saved. 

EPS - Stands for Encapsulated Postscript and is a vector file. While the other file formats I've listed are created by using pixels, an eps file is created using mathematical equations. Therefore, when the other images are enlarged or made smaller, they lose pixel quality, but a vector image never loses quality or proportion because of the mathematical percentages that it uses to calculate the size changes. EPS files can only be opened by special programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Corel Draw, etc. These files are not viewable on the web. 

PSD - Is a Photoshop file that is only recognized by the Photoshop program and some other Adobe programs. It is great for graphic designers to use while creating their design work. The resolution is excellent, it supports layers, high quality colors, transparency, animation, etc. I often create my files in psd formats and render them in one of the other formats for publishing on the web or for printing. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Using Hashtags to Sell Books

#hashtags #socialmedia #SMM

If you are trying to sell orand promote books, or any other product or service, you need to be using hashtags with every promotional tweet and social media post. 

What is a Hashtag?

Even if you are not on Twitter, you may have seen the little hashtag symbol with the pound sign (#) in front of a word or a combination of letters and numbers such as #ff, #news, #jobs, #icarly, #glee, etc. These hashtags are used to identify and keep up with conversations and news about specific topics. Think of hashtags like the tags used to identify articles, blog posts and Amazon products for topics or items in a search. While hashtags originated on Twitter, it is no longer the only place where hashtags are used. Hashtags are now used on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.   

Building an online platform is hard. You have to be creative in order to be heard above the noise of your competitors and all the nonsense conversations on social media these days. Lets face it, now that people can self-publish so easily, it seems like there are more authors than readers. 

Readers only have so much time between working, raising a family, and living. No avid reader has time to read all the books on his/her TBR pile. They have to pick and choose due to finances and time. As a result, some books and authors will never be read as often as others. Therefore, you have to use every available resource and tool to increase your chances of being noticed by readers searching for books. Hashtags can help you beat out some of your competition, especially those who aren't using them. 

How to Use Hashtags
1) Put hashtags above the first line of text or in the first sentence. Do this because when the blog post is shared on social media sites, it pulls the title of the blog post and the first line of text. See the examples at the beginning of this blog post. It may seem strange, but it works. 

2) Register your personal hashtags. While you can't buy or own hashtags like a domain name, you can register it with Twubs.com or Hashtag.org to better manage your personal hashtag related to you or your books. Use a term to represent your author name and/or each individual book you write or even a series. This will help you keep up with the flow of responses and discussions around your books during new book launches and/or campaigns. Here is an example of a hashtag I created for a series of books #MacGregorLegacy

3) Use common book related hashtags.While it's a wonderful idea to create and register your own hashtags, some common hashtags will also bring readers to your blogs and social media sites. For instance, bloggers who post on the CFBA Blog Tour, include hashtags such as #christianfiction and/or #christianromanceThis allows them to promote other authors' books, and at the same time, lure reads to their site to discover other books as well. For a list of book related hashtags, click here. 

4) Use the #SampleSunday or #TeaserTuseday hashtags to post short excerpts to introduce your work to new readers. The Sample Sunday idea originally came from David Wisehart, but it took off with other authors. Since then Sharon Rose created a Sample Sunday Facebook page. You can read more about the idea here. Some authors post first chapters to promote their books. Why not take it a step further and post sentences or paragraphs each Sunday or Tuesday, leading up to and through a book launch for the first chapter? 

Are you using hashtags? Have you ever registered a hashtag? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Best Social Media Site for Authors

#goodreads, #reviews #authors

Without a doubt www.goodreads.com is one of the best social media sites for readers and authors to connect on the Internet. The site has over 5.6 million visitors each month and 20 million total readers overall. Unlike most reading and book communities, there are readers than authors. With more than 100,000 authors participating on Goodreads, the ratio is still 1,000 readers per author. You won't find a better site that will give you that kind of access to avid readers. 

Most Goodread readers are addicted to reading. They love to talk about books and share what they've read and are currently reading. This means reviews for authors--and lots of them. Goodreads users create favorite lists by years, topic, genre and quotes using Listopia and readers' actions are published on a newsfeed to their friends and connections. Modern readers are savvy at using social media. They upload book covers and link them to Amazon and auto post reviews to all their other social media accounts.  

Goodreads uses an algorithm similar to Netflix to recommend books to readers who have read and liked specific genres. Books can only be put on the recommendation list after receiving a few hundred ratings. After your book has been out for a while, offer the ebook version at a discount or for free or for a discounted price for a couple of days and those ratings will start rolling in on Goodreads. 

Everyone on Goodreads must first create a free basic reader account. Once you have done this, you can then contact Goodreads and ask to be listed as a Goodreads Author. Using the Author features on Goodreads provides so much more. Upon the Rock Publicist includes Goodreads as part of our social media package because we believe it is imperative to authors who are building their online platform to sell books. 

Create an Author Page
Join the Goodreads Author program to get a dedicated author page and link all your books, connect your blog to auto post on your Goodreads Author page, create giveaways, create reader groups, advertise, publicize upcoming events, post videos, post quotes from your books, list a quiz, and get a widget for your personal blog or website to showcase reviews for your books. Goodreads provides a detailed instruction page that will walk you step by step through the setup process. 
List Your Books on Goodreads Listopia
Search through the Listopia section on Goodreads and find appropriate lists for your book genre. Click the “add books to this list” tab and do a search for your book. You can also add other books to the list. Be sure to vote for your books and ask your friends and readers vote for your books on the lists. Often the difference between 30th and 10th on these lists is only a few votes. 
List Your Printed Books on Giveaway Campaigns
List your print books for a giveaway on Goodreads for a limited time. Be aware that ebooks are not allowed. On average, 825 people enter each Goodreads giveaway and over 40,000 enter book giveaways daily. This will expose your book to a huge number of readers that may otherwise not hear about your book and some of them will go ahead and list your book on their "to read" list. 
Schedule Book Discussions
Goodreads allows you to host discussions about your book. Readers can ask questions and talk with each other about your book, and authors can be as involved as they choose to be. For the steps on how to start a book discussion, visit Goodread’s Featured Books.
Link Your Blog to Goodreads

If you choose to connect your blog to the newsfeed on your Goodreads Author page, Goodreads will email your fans once a week of all your new blog posts. This is a great way to reach other readers that may not have subscribed to your regular newsletter and will remind them about your work and keep your name in front of them. This is part of the Goodreads Author Program.
Ask Readers for Reviews
Since Goodreads features books based on the number of reviews, you will want to get as many reviews as possible. While it's natural to want a higher number of positive reviews than bad reviews, even the bad ones increase your overall number of reviews, which is all the algorithm takes into consideration when promoting your book on the Goodreads system. 
Advertise
Advertising is optional, but has its advantages if you can swing the budget for it. Be sure to target people who read your genre, give high ratings and reviews in your genre, and target the fans of other authors whose books compete with yours. Don't forget the reviewers who have rated your books in the past. Ads cost a minimum of $0.10 per click with a default rate of $0.50 per click, which is more affordable for those with lower budgets. 


 

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