Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Free Won’t Build Following with Guest Nancy Kimball

Build platform. As an author, that directive is up there with do not leave children and pets in hot cars. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I found a common thread in several authors and blogs with massive followings I wanted to emulate when I began my blog two years ago.


So if I started my blog and offered free books, free critiques, and other cool free “stuff”, people would follow me like the mice of Hamelin followed the Pied Piper, right? Well, not so much. Because free is like hot. Neither means a whole lot unless attached to something else. A hot stove, hot salsa, and a hot male are not the same “hot”.

So it is with free. Free books, free critiques, and even free e-readers by themselves aren’t going to build you a following because free is only as good as what’s being offered and more importantly, how much your target audience wants it and what they are willing to do to get it.

See? The cat people are like “whatever” to the puppy and dog people will love it but probably already have a dog and can’t/won’t take on another. Readers may like the free books but if they already have a to-be-read (TBR) pile ten titles deep, that’s not as exciting unless one of the titles being offered is one they want or think they might really like. The cash is cash. Enough said.

Giveaways are not a waste. They will not build a platform, but they will sustain one when used correctly. For giveaways to function this way, they need to be extensions of your value proposition.

Value Proposition = What your social media outlet provides that is worth the currency of time and effort for followers to partake of it, even when that means nothing more than read it. This is what builds a following.

Seekerville is Exhibit A. Their value proposition is teaching about the craft of fiction and the publishing industry, and building relationships with other authors and readers. The chocolate, books, critiques, and contests are great value-added that we REALLY LIKE, to help pull the lurkers out of hiding and make it more rewarding for us to be here.

Super-Agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog is Exhibit B. Her following is tremendous because of her insight into the current publishing climate as an agent. This is her value proposition. Giveaways there are rare, and are typically a critique of a query or something related. Her value proposition alone is strong enough to maintain a loyal following and when the giveaways come, they still tie in specifically to her value proposition.

Fiction Addiction Fix is Exhibit C. It’s free in its purest form. This blog advertises fiction giveaways for others. It is all this blog does, and for someone looking to win free books or have their giveaway advertised, I highly recommend it. Being a clearinghouse for giveaways is their value proposition and is building their following.

For the multi-published author: You have readers and a fan base. Sure, you can give away books but if we’re really the kind of fans you hope we are, we’ve already bought them and are telling our friends about them. Utilize all kinds of fun contests like fan-fiction, strangest place to read my book photo contest, and other strategies that reward your fans for being fans. Make the prize/giveaway opportunities to name a character, be featured on your website for a week, or win something autographed that relates to your current release. Promote them through your established social media outlets and connections.

For the newly published author: You are establishing readership. You should give away books but because these are finite, make the most of them. You want those books to go to people who will get other people talking about how much they like them in a highly visible way like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Capitalize on the established value propositions of others, and sweeten the deal by offering a good giveaway like an Amazon gift-card drawing for your hosts and hostesses and other influencers to increase their incentive to help you get your novel out there.

For the pre-published author: You’re in the twilight zone of platform building right now. Consider how what you blog, tweet, Facebook, or pin is different or unique in the value proposition you offer. Let’s face it. Chronicling the journey toward traditional publication in an online diary of sorts or reviewing books is already being done to the point of web saturation. Those with successful followings have them because there is something very unique in their value proposition that makes their followers engage and remain engaged.

I’m a success story with this. After floundering for two years to understand what my value proposition was after disappointing results and failed giveaways, I took a step back. I looked hard at what I was passionate about and prayed to God for help. All the pieces came together and One Author’s Adventures Writing Epic Historical Heroes became Fiction Hero Features. My value proposition became showcasing great heroes and I supplement that with giveaways of the novel for new readers and giftcards for existing readers of the featured hero. My hit counter shows what happened. So don’t give up. 

For the readers and followers: You’re the real prize for the authors, bloggers, and book reviewers hosting the giveaways. Here’s a not-secret. We love when you comment on our blog posts, Facebook pages, and tweet us. If you stopped by for a chance to win whatever we’re giving away and don’t follow our blog, don’t think it’s tacky to just enter the drawing. We know we’re trying to earn the right of your time and attention and that may take a little time. If you want to stick a “thanks for the opportunity to win ” in there to be extra polite, that’s cool too. The same is true for posts without a giveaway. If something in the post was helpful or added value to you, a simple “Great post!” goes a long way and takes maybe ten seconds. This helps that blogger, author or reviewer know what engaged you and is essentially your vote for more content like that. If we get it right often enough, you’ll follow us. We appreciate it and you!

Final thoughts

  • Giveaways enhance a following, they do not build one. 

  • Consider the cost/benefit and your end-goal and strategy with giveaways before shelling out those gift-cards or the newest e-reader to give away.

  • Sometimes really great stuff is too unique for most people to care. You can have a drawing for the most amazing antique sewing machine ever on your book blog, but how many people are really going to want that? (I’m sure we’ll find out in the comments.)

  • For your critiques, opinions and advice to carry strong value, they need to be substantiated by some credible awards, contest finals, or some other “street credit” like a good sized and engaged following backing it up. A blog with five hundred followers and an average of two comments per post tells me something, but that’s an entirely different blog post for another day.

  •  Find your value proposition or keep trying things until it finds you. That’s your platform. Then tailor your giveaways to supplement your value proposition and strategically invest the time and money right for you.

 Nancy would love to hear what you think, today she is giving away a $25 gift card, Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner's choice, to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Award-winning author, avid reader and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball makes her home in Houston, Texas. She doesn't understand the point of white crayons and is always on the lookout for another great fiction hero when she isn’t busy writing them. Eventually some inspired literary agent is going to seize upon what the contest judges are beginning to recognize and her manuscripts can continue on their way to becoming books. Until then she’s content to enjoy the journey, form great friendships, work hard and always trust God and His perfect timing. You can keep up with her happenings and various writer randomness at and are always welcome at her blog where you can enjoy the heroes, enter the giveaways, and nominate candidates for upcoming features.


  1. I'm sure it was completely my fault that the link to Rachelle's blog also goes to fiction addiction fix. But I'm pretty sure every writer in Seekerville is probably already subscribed to Rachelle's blog. :-p

    So excited to be here (on the other side) again!

  2. LOL, no it's probably my fault. I'll fix it right now.

    And WELCOME.

  3. I've never been the first commenter.

    My blog is floundering a bit. I suppose I don't have a good grip on that value proposition. I'm sure your tips will be helpful.

    I'm definitely in for the giveaway.

    andeemarie95 at gmail dot com

  4. Thanks Nancy, great post, really.

    When my now grown up daughter was about five her teacher pointed out that she didn't need to color something white, just leave it, she said, she wanted it a darker white.
    So, now you know.

  5. Andrea, you will always be first to me.

  6. Thanks, Tina. It's my extreme perfectionism to have checked all the links, hehe. You ROCK, you know that?

    Andrea, I'm sorry! I agree with Tina. We give you honorary first. =)

    Mary C, that is AWESOME. Darker white, hehe. I get it. I really do. I hope your daughter is still that bold. =)

  7. And Andrea, first off, it wouldn't flounder if it wasn't THERE so yay for you for making that step. And I floundered a long time before I found my stride with FHF. It's why I liked the transparency of showing my stat history in this post. Keep with it and ask yourself what are you good at and passionate about and if you knew you wouldn't fail, what would you try?

    I had this fear that authors would never let me quote big chunks of their novels and pick apart their heroes and I would make a fool of myself but so far, that hasn't happened.

  8. I use white crayons (I love to color, but my kiddos DON'T GET TO TOUCH my crayons or my coloring books (I buy the girl a second copy))

    Color your item first then color over with white, it gives it a smoother slightly lighter look, just try it and you'll see, hard to describe. On Dresses (That's mainly all I color is Barbie/Princess fashion pages) it makes it look silky/satiny.

    And technically it does show up on those off-white coloring pages.

    I need to get to work, but now I want to color....

  9. Melissa! I color still too. The FREE sign I made to take those pictures is Exhibit A. I have crayons and a coloring book too. It's bible stories, hehe, and every once in a while I pull it out and color. I will have to try your white overlay. Maybe on the angels.

  10. You know, I've been questioning the kindle freebie tactics of the big publishers. I get giving away the beginning of a series once the whole series is out there. That means all the loyal followers and the ones that liked the idea should have already bought it, and now you're trolling for the ones that were on the fence about buying it and then forgot.

    But not too long ago, a big publisher (Bethany?) put out a new release on Kindle for free-- like not but a week after it released. Granted that not everyone has a kindle, but that just zapped any potential buyers who owned a kindle. Didn't make sense to me.

    Now, if you know me, I love free, but here's my opinion. Make your kindle book just cheaper than a penny and 3.99 shipping at amazon at some point. So for about 3.79???, no one with a Kindle would choose a used copy off of Amazon and the author gets paid. I know that when the 1.99, 2.99, 3.99 sales come up, I impulse buy just in case I ever decided I want to read it.

  11. Melissa, I like your thinking on the first one in the series at the end. I will so not pretend to understand the marketing strategies of some, no, most of the traditional houses. And the thing is, everyone loves free. But sometimes it's not a good thing. For them or for the purveyor. Vince had a really good comment about this a few months ago, the pricing model versus free. I'm hoping he pops in today with that again.

    I disdained the e-reader until someone gave me one. Pam Hillman's Stealing Jake was the first book that made me use it. And if you know me, free e-books scare me. Because in my experience, many of them were poorly executed so unless it's an author or publisher I know, I'm not even remotely interested. I have too much to read already. Unless a friend or my account recommends it, then I might take a look at it. I discovered author Cliff Graham through a free download of his debut novel, but I liked the cover and it was a Zondervan title and Amazon said I would like it. And they were right. I ordered the trade paperback to have one for my shelf and am a die-hard fan of his now, so I know it WILL WORK. I just think it fails more than it works and maybe the why is what the marketing teams at the big publishers are still trying to figure out.

  12. Um, white crayons are for ghosts on the black paper, people!

    Hallowe'en is almost here.

    And if you want to use your white crayon before that? Just take a dark blue paper and draw some clouds.

    Seriously, good article!

  13. I used the white crayons for easter eggs before- wrote on the boiled egg then put in the food coloring/water/vinegar solution.

    hey I live in Houston too! southwest side! :-)

    your name sounds familiar but I cant' place you..maybe I'm thinking of someone else..sigh..not good with names!


  14. as a reader I agree about giveaways. it brings people to a blog who want something free but doesn't mean they will keep coming. I have giveaways and get some entries from people who do not comment on any other posts and even in a giveaway dont read the post or the entry conditions.
    I also dont always follow a blog as I follow so many that I dont actually visit. many will click follow but dont actually read those blogs. Several of the blog I do follow most days rarely have giveaways but they are blogs I like the content and the community feel.
    in saying that would love to enter (one can never have enough ebooks)
    Ok I have to go to bed been awake since 2.30am and its now 7pm

  15. OK. I'm a sucker for giveaways. I've discovered many authors that way. If I like the freebie, then I post a positive review and BUY more from that author.
    I would love to get that antique sewing machine. :)

  16. great post! funny thing, two of your three exhibits are regular check-ins for me. now all i need to do is figure out my value proposition.

    going to bookmark your Fiction Hero Features. bummed i didn't know about it before now. of course, i spend limited time online (mostly to check Seekers and a couple of regular blogs...pretty sure FHF will be added to the small list)

    now to go pray and see what value proposition the Lord knows i possess...

  17. What excellent advice. It's so hard to quantify our marketing efforts. What really works and what doesn't? Are we getting bang for our buck or not?

    I'm going to check out Fiction Hero Features. Sounds like just my kind of reading. :D


    GREAT advice, my friend, and EXCELLENT blog!!

    My publisher has been after me for a while to stop giving away so many books on countless blogs, but since I've never been in this for the money, I didn't listen because frankly I LOVE my reader friends and it thrills me to send a book to someone who really wants it. But as my publisher tells me, "free" is a not a good idea when the people winning already love my books and are more prone to buy them. It's like preaching to the choir.

    Another thing I NEVER truly considered before was the "free" time I give away when I do countless blog/interview giveaways and respond to all comments. Had a blog interview recently where I had over 200 comments, and I had stacked mine, so I spent a good chunk of time interacting with reader friends, WHICH I LOVE to do!! But I am learning the hard way that with three books out in six month's time and a very sick aunt with whom I've spent a lot of time away from my writing, "free" time suddenly isn't so "free" anymore, but costs me a bundle in nerves and missed deadlines.

    So your blog was very timely and very affirming, Nancy -- THANK YOU!!


  19. Nancy, so glad to have you today!! Great post. I really need to look at my personal blog and reevaluate. I spend so much time on group blogs that my personal one is neglected. I really should find a focus and re-vamp.

    This is some great information to help me do that! Thank you!

  20. By the way, I love your blog! I think authors will love sharing about their heros. It's good exposure for them, plus it's fun!

  21. Wow...excellent post! I'm doing a giveaway and it's fixing to be over soon but I think all your points are right on. I like doing book giveaways but this one is much bigger. It's an experiment, kind of. *grin*
    Thank you for sharing all your info!!! Very helpful. ;-)

  22. Welcome back to Seekerville, Nancy! Your post is full of wisdom. Thank you! I need to take a hard look at my personal blog or dig a cyber hole and bury it. Will check out yours!

    Coffee's on. I brought egg bake and fruit this morning. A great way to start the day.


  23. VIRGINA, thank you for that. =)I stick with coloring books mostly now as an adult (that sounds funny, hehe) but good to know on the clouds and ghosts. And thank you.

    SUSANNA, that's true! A white crayon used to come in the deluxe PAAS kit! Maybe we've met at the Writers on the Storm ACFW chapter meeting?

    AUSJENNY, you are the poster child for my findings, my friend. Thank you for backing that up! Best wishes in the drawing.

    AMY C, I knew someone would want that sewing machine at a blog this happening like Seekerville. =)

    DEB H, thank you. I'm the same. I have to really self-discipline myself with time online also and I'm thrilled to make your short list. I'll add my prayer to yours for you to focus on your value prop. It's made such a difference for me and I want that for other bloggers.

    ERICA V, thank you. You're so right. As I don't have anything for sale yet, I consider bang for my buck followers, blog visits, and interaction. Part of why I think sharing this kind of info is important and my hope is the comments and generated discussion will offer some fairly valuable insight into that. And thanks for checking out FHF. We're pretty hard core over there. =)

    JULIE L, haha, thank you. Melissa's earlier comment really supports what your publisher indicated. You are in that top tier of multi-published like my article says, so a flood of free books isn't so good for you. A few free ones might catch readers who finally want to know what all the buzz is about and that's a good thing and to get out there your traditional outlets need to reach new readership. One of the things that is making my blog so successful is the giftcard option for people who have already read that featured hero, so I'm capturing interaction from them as well and I know of two verified instances that spurred someone unfamiliar with that novel or author to buy that book because it got "word of mouth" right there in the comment good enough for the others to make the decision to buy. Good stuff! And blogging does take time and that's not free either. Like right now, I need to be getting ready for work, hehe. (The day job). Glad I could help. =)

    MISSY T, thank you, I'm always thrilled to be here, posting or commenting because either way I'm always learning and forming friendships. Focus is such a beautiful thing. FHF requires about six to eight hours total now (not including reading time of the novels, including the ones that don't advance). That is everything from contacting the authors, working with them, writing the feature, having it proofed, scheduling the post, and then following the onslaught of comments which peak and then drop off after the first three or four days. And best of all, it's fun for me again. And it a pretty potent platform builder for when it's time to feature my own heroes. ;-) I love FHF too. I haven't had an author turn me down yet so they must agree. I have had to pass on some that were nominated, but understanding my focus and made that slightly easier to do. It also taught me vividly what acquisition editors do and that sometimes there's nothing wrong with a novel (or in my case a hero) except that it isn't the best fit for them and their current goals. That was probably the singular most educational part of FHF for me.

    JESSICA N, thanks for that! Experiments are really good sometimes. NaNoWriMo in 2010 was an experiment for me, and now here I am. =)

    JANET D, thank you, I'm humbled and flattered at the same time. Thank you for being the first to bring some food. I'm pretty starving because my cereal time was spent interacting here. (See, time is not free, everyone! Think about this more from the side of your followers and potential followers.) I will grap some of your egg bake, thank you. =)

    KK, time to get ready for the day job and get everyone settled in at the office but I'll be back as soon as I can!

  24. Hi Nancy!

    Great insights. I'm between the "pre-published" and "newly-published" stages, so I'm in the middle of deciding how much time and energy I need to place where.

    Because, you know, I'd much rather hide in my writing cave...

  25. Thanks for the tips, Nancy.

    I have a giveaway story. As a new Realtor, I came up with various giveaways to attract listings. One was a Maid service for a full house cleaning. It was expensive, but I thought it was unique. Six weeks went by and I'd collected only 5 entries out of 900 homes. Then, to add insult to injury, I drew the winning name and called the woman only to have her repeatedly hang up on me. I finally knocked on her door and met her husband who was thrilled and then explained that his wife had no idea that HE'd entered her in the contest! LOL. So not only did I not get the buzz I thought I would, but I'd completely missed my target market- women!

    I learned it was better to find the value-proposition angle and do that consistently. My business blossomed.

  26. What is often overlooked is that yes, Seekerville gives away free stuff, critiques and cool stuff..BUT

    A. Our blog has taken years..five as a matter of fact, to cultivate.

    B. We have a mission statement and we try very hard to stick to that mission statement.

    C. The majority of most of the authors here focus the majority of their marketing efforts here so free here IS worthwhile as we have established that audience.

    D. Giveaways are for two purposes here in Seekerville. An introduction TASTE TEST or because we genuinely love to give away stuff to the very, very nice people who visit us in our HOME.

    Not unlike your nice Italian (or Irish or German) aunt whom you visit WHO is insulted if you leave without eating or taking a covered plate with you. It's just good hostessing.

  27. Wow that was a bizzaro sentence. Do not tell William Brohaugh. Write Tight--author that I wrote it.

    The majority of most of??? Hello? I need coffee.

  28. Welcome Nancy! Thanks for this post with great advice--I'm sure lots of us needed this today. Blessings on your writing, Patti Jo
    p.s. Enjoy my Georgia Peach muffins I just baked--served with *real* butter! ;)

  29. Nancy, What great insights. I really love all the points you made.

    Thanks for joining us. This topic is sooooo important in todays market.

  30. Nancy, what a great post! This is definitely a keeper. I plan to start a blog after ACFW, and the things you've shared here will help me in organizing it and determining my value proposition as a pre-pubbed author. You have a lot of insight! Understanding the value of free is important, in writing and in life. I need to re-read your post and glean more from it.

    Changing the subject, white crayons are also great for drawing Valentine hearts on red paper. Speaking of coloring, I enjoy it too. Have you ever tried Praying In Color? Wonderful way to pray.

    LYNDEE--your experiment as a new realtor had me laughing. Sorry. :) Thanks for sharing your experience.

  31. JAN! I knew when you promised on my FB page to be here you would. =) Thank you! Time is the most finite of resources so I totally understand. All I can encourage is to try what you think is going to be best and don't be afraid to change direction and tailor what's known to work with what works for you. And the writing cave is awesome. Your readership wants you in there turning out great novels, but maybe not hiding. =)

    LYNDEE, thanks for sharing that. I have a few posts where I thought I was going to get tons of responses. Like when I offered a ten-page critique. ***crickets*** Of course I get it now. When I did that, I didn't have enough street credit. (aka awards) My biggest what was I thinking blog post is the video of the antique animal fur I wanted my followers to help me identify. But I'm not ashamed of it. It's part of how I learned. =)

    TINA, thank you. With almost a thousand followers and I know many more by e-mail, Seekerville understands and embodies these ideas perfectly and I'm surprised (and encouraged!) you all have done this in only five years. When I chose my examples, I liked having one of each model. Rachelle's blog hardly ever does giveaways, Fiction Addiction (though a gateway) is purely links to giveaways, and Seekerville is that sweet spot in-between. I'm an example of how Seekerville works, and works well. I went looking for advice and tips on fiction writing and ended up here. (Connecting with your value proposition.) It rewarded me enough to stay. The giveaways are awesome (I'm pretty sure that Michael Ehret contest prep package is going to get me a final in The Rattler, hehe) and I know the feeling you're talking about. I LOVE to drop that novel into the mail to the winners on FHF because I know they'll enjoy it as much as I did and best case scenario, talk about it a LOT. And the Seekerville model works because I won some books, and then I started buying the new ones. SCORE on all sides. =)

    CATMOM, thank you for that and the muffins. Real butter is the only kind I use. I buy it in a lovely full pound box of four sticks of delicious down-home goodness. =)

    SANDRA, thank you and thank you for having me. Agreed. Money is tight all over and for many, so is time. It's a holdover from my college days but maximizing the ROI (return on investment) is more important than ever.

    JEANNE, thank you! I have a saying. It's good to learn from your own mistakes, but it's better to learn from someone else's. That's why I'm not afraid to share what didn't work for me. Let me know when it launches. =)
    And you almost made me tear-up. My first "keeper" blog post. I am so adding that to the milestones of this author journey!
    And you MUST tell me more about Praying in Color. MUST!!! Please. =)See, Tina wants to know too.

    But I'll have to find out in a bit. Be back soon!

  32. White crayons + red paper = homemade Valentines. Much like ghosts and clouds. I'm with Melissa on the off-white paper. I don't like the color of the paper for white. I want white. I'll have to try the white crayon "satin-ing" next time I color, which probably won't be as soon as it should be. :(

    Right now my blog is just me telling people what I think. It's mostly book reviews and "Ooh, listen to this great song I love!"
    Basically, I get to talk as much as I want without being interrupted (one of my favorite things about writing). A few people read it, but it's not very conversational.

    Though it occurred to me that someday I can use it to gain interest for my novels. In my WIP, letters are a big deal for my heroine. I've considered someday posting my characters' letters, even scenes I love that don't make it in.

    I know I love to read that kind of stuff. Anytime I just love a character, or cast of characters, I want to know all about them. If that means letters on a blog, I'm pretty likely to go there and read those things.

  33. Okay, I'm in for the gift card! Been at least three loooong weeks since I did some book shopping. The withdrawal is getting bad. :)

    Nancy, Novel Rocket is one of those interesting blogs that gets good traffic but not a whole lot of comments. Any take on that?

    And I'm with everyone else. I'm shocked at how many brand new books are free shortly after release or how many that came out six to nine months ago are free because the author has another book coming out. And I'm not talking LI. Does that bother those authors?????

  34. Nancy, when you speak...or write...I listen. Great blog today. Insightful and fresh. A topic we haven't looked at before. At least, I don't remember doing so.

    I've got a "personal blog" that sits untended. I keep wondering what I'm supposed to do with it. Evidently, as you mentioned, I need to cover it with more prayer.

    My two cents about Seekerville? It's coming home. It's family. It's a place to relax and sip coffee and chat with friends, sisters, brothers. Cyberspace is vast. People float by on blogs and FB and Twitter--names and faces with whom I don't have a connection. But Seekerville is different.

    I'm not a saleman. I'd rather give something away than have to charge for it. So I like sending books to Seekervillagers. While they may not be buying that book, I know they'll pass it on perhaps to their aunt or their grandmother or their best friend, and word of mouth means so much in this business.

    The friendship and mentoring and support and encouragement I find in Seekerville keeps me moving forward and trying to create a better story with each new book.


    Thanks for a very valuable post.

  35. I love to color! Although not usually with white crayons.

    I'm sure the repetitive motion frees our minds to be more creative. Vince would have an opinion on that.

    Vince, where are you today?

  36. Okay, so Jeanne beat me to the white heart/red paper comment. I need to read more carefully before I post.


  37. I LOVE white crayons. Black, red, dark blue paper. Got em all.

    I buy most of my books even when they are given away. It is a mission for me to support writers. But if I get a book, it goes to the library after I read it.

    Here at Seekerville I talk but a lot of other places I lurk. Seekerville is the coffee pot where everyone gathers IMHO.

    You made me realize I need to check out my favorite authors' blogs more than I do, as another way of support.

    Peace and thanks, Julie

  38. The reality of ANY agent blog (although Rachel's is one of the best) is that they give out good information and everyone who wants to be published is like a dog to a bone for good information.

    Who doesn't want to sell a book? Seriously. Poll 100 people and 90 of them want to and believe they can sell a book. (Write a book is that intermediate part no one wants to discuss, lol).

    A good portion of followers on any agent blog is KISSUPS. Seriously. Not meant unkindly. You want to be noticed by the agent of your dreams. And who wouldn't want to be noticed by Rachel. So what do you do? You talk and comment on her blog.

    She doesn't have to or need to do a giveaway. She just needs those little words. LITERARY AGENT!!

  39. Welcome, Nancy, and thanks for the great advice! When you're trying to build a following, it can be hard to find the right balance for when and how often to offer giveaways.

    I don't usually do giveaways on my personal blog (which I attend to in fits and starts, unfortunately). But here in Seekerville, I think it's fun that we offer such a wide variety of giveaways. Sometimes a book, sometimes a critique, sometimes a gift card--and always something that will benefit our faithful Seekervillagers in some way. I see our giveaways not so much as promo ops but as a way to thank our loyal followers for sticking with us and spreading the word.

  40. Tina, I think you've hit on why most of us go to blogs - Nancy called it "return on investment".

    What's the return we want from blogs? There are lots of different ones - community, education, encouragement, contact with people who get our jokes, to be noticed by our dream agent or editor, to put our name in for the free stuff...

    The ones that gives us the most return on our highest priority desire are the ones we return to again and again and again.

    For me, community and encouragement are high on my list. Free stuff is just occasional icing on the cake :). Contests are sweet - and have been the kick start to my career.

    Has anyone noticed I rarely miss a day on Seekerville?


  41. Gosh, Nancy, this makes so much sense and also explains some writer-friends' experiences that didn't turn out the way they hoped. Your post has thumped me to consider what my value proposition could be when I venture into blog/website territory. Thank you!

    The side discussion about white crayons has been interesting, too ;-)

    Nancy C

  42. Oh, crayons!

    I've been so frustrated with my 4's and 5's Sunday School class! Crayons aren't good enough - they have to have markers! I have to say, though, they do a good job with them.

    So I use the crayons, and they use the markers. I bought some new ones to start the year on Sunday.

  43. You said it so much more eloquently than I could have Jan!@!

  44. Hi Nancy:

    I’m not sure what I said the last time you were here but I am even more against free digital books than I was then.

    Here’s why:

    1. Things tend to be valued at what they cost. If you give your book away, how good can it really be? Really good restaurants don’t give out discount coupons. Discounts normally don’t apply to blockbuster movies. There is no need to do it.

    2. I have about 1,200 free books on my Kindle right now. I would say that 99% of those books will never be read. Why download them? I might want to read them at some point and I know that often ‘free’ books are only ‘free’ for a day or so.

    3. A ‘free’ first book to a customer can stop any future sales of your books until they read that book. “If I’m not interested enough to read her first book after all this time, why should I buy her new book? Shouldn’t I at least read the one I have first?” I believe the battleground of the future is going to be getting people who already own your book to read it! This is why social media can be so important. You have to give readers reasons to actually read your books. One sale, free or otherwise, will not make a career.

    4. “Free” books alienate your best prospects. How do you feel when you buy something at Wal-Mart and the next day it goes on sale at 50% off? Don’t you feel cheated? Don’t you want that money back? Don’t many retailers actually offer to give your money back? I’ve already spent over $200 for eBooks that were later available for free. How do you think that makes me feel? We are teaching a whole generation of readers not to buy books until a month or two after they come out. Since I’ve been waiting on books to go ‘free’ before I buy them (especially from publishers who do this often and you know who they are), I have almost regained that $200 by waiting to buy books that in the past I would have bought right away. This is deadly from a marketing POV because the best moment to sell your books is when they just come out and are newsworthy. There is also a prestige in being the first to read or review a favorite author’s books. Do you really want readers who like your work to be waiting to see if it will come out for free in the next six weeks?

    5. “Free” books should cost something. I think it is far better to give a discount coupon for your book so that the reader has a stake in it. This is something I learned doing political campaigns. Get a voter to contribute even one dollar and they are many times more likely to vote for you. They have an investment in your success.

    6. On blog giveaways I favor making the reader do something to be entered. Write a creative passage or name the hero and heroine in your book. They should have to do something that shows they have an actual interest in you and reading your book. Print books are much more valuable because they can be signed and these stand as a reminder to read the book. I value autographed books much more than the same book on my Kindle.

    7. When the book is the first in a series, it might make sense to give it away as an eBook. I’d rather see the book given away free when the reader buys any of the other books in the series. In a way, it is still free but it also leads to a full price sale.

    8. As far as ‘value propositions” are concerned, I like to put it this way: do something on your website that will reward the visitor for the time they spend on your site. Zig Ziglar used to say, “You can have anything you want in this life, as long as you help enough other people get what they want.” He was quick to add, “That’s anything…not everything…so pick something.” Help enough people get something they want from your website, and you will get what you want. High traffic counts and perhaps sales. (Of course you must keep updating your site. Always be giving reasons why visitors should come back.)

    I hope this isn’t too long for blogger! : ) It was. I'll have to repost with my P.S.


  45. Well said. :) I'm stilling learning how to use giveaways and such. I appreciate all the insight I can get!

  46. Great thoughts Nancy.

    Jodie Wolfe

  47. Thanks, Vince!

    Jan, I always notice you!

    Great discussion, Nancy.

    Maybe I'll rethink white crayons! :)

  48. Well free books DO cost something in Seekerville, Vince.

    You have to be brave and visit with us.


  49. Brilliant stuff here. Thanks so much for sharing! I especially love the application for every level of writer. I'm sharing with my writers group... :)

  50. Hi Nancy:

    About websites:

    I can see two main types of author websites. One is active. It tries almost every day to attract visitors and build a following.

    The other is the author’s reference site. This should tell all about the author and have a complete list of the author’s books. This does not have to be updated often. A big attraction for this kind of site is info on the author’s books. Photos of the locations in the books. Research notes on the history or settings. Links to favorable reviews. News of what the author is now working on. Photos of the covers that are different in other courtiers. This is more of a reference site to backup potential sales. It also can create added incentives for readers to read your book which they already own.

    For inspirational books, I’d like to see the Bible quote that is dedicated to that book given on the website. I’d also like to see a list of acknowledgements if these show the book is well researched and can be relied on as authorities. I’d even like to see a very short prayer written to express the Moral Premise of that title. If it is Christian, then be Christian on the author website. I like these things better than a sample chapter. You don’t see a sample ten minutes of a movie coming attraction. You see short scenes of the best stuff. That’s what I think should be on the author’s website.

    I think this kind of site is enough for most authors. A joint site like Seekerville is much better at changing each day and trying to build followers. I especially like that you can link to author sites from the Seekerville home page. If I want to visit a Seeker author’s own site, I always go to Seekerville first. (Except for Ruth – I have her page on my desktop because some days it’s so cute it makes me feel good all morning. I just wish it changed more often. :) )


  51. Hi Nancy:

    I enjoy your hero website.

    I was on a blog yesterday where an author was not very impressed with Linda Howard’s “Mr. Right”. I thought this might be because Howard’s heroes are so strong from the male POV. (I’d love to be her heroes.) I think Linda has the best heroes in romance. What do you think?

    Also, I would love to see you come up with a ‘working list’ of the top ten heroes in current fiction. You could keep updating this as you uncover new and better heroes. But I would love to see your top ten list.

    Of course, you could have many top ten lists?

    Best alpha heroes. Best beta heroes. Best military heroes. Best sexy heroes. Most loveable heroes. Best sexy because they are so smart heroes. Best heroic heroes because they really are heroes in real life (like police and fireman and PJs!). Best heroes as fathers.

    This would be hard info to otherwise come by and you are in a great position to build these lists which would always be a WIP. Why, vistors would have to keep coming back to view the latest hero updates.

    As for me, do you think any one beats Linda Howard for man’s men heroes? I’d like to meet those heroes if there are any better ones.


  52. ANDREA, some good ideas there. I did an interview between the two heroes in my manuscripts which was hilarious and those who have read it really enjoyed. For me, forward thinking is I will recycle that on my Facebook page once the novels are published and integrate those kinds of things (like beloved deleted scenes) into my website. When I too connect with a novel or character, I want to know everything!!!

    SALLY, I have heard of Novel Rocket but confess that it is not on my radar. That is no reflection on them or me up or down I hope, but it did not grow organically into my sphere of social media. Maybe others will have some insight with that one. Best wishes in the drawing!

    DEBBY, many thanks. I'm humbled and flattered in equal measure. You described Seekerville perfectly. I check in at night before I go to bed to see the new post and then when I can, later in the day to see the comments and catch up with other friends of Seekerville. For me the value proposition of Seekerville is the relationships formed and wisdom acquired and that's worth the time to me (more than worth it) to be privileged to be part of the Seekerville family. I have discovered so many wonderful friends and novels through here. Whenever I begin mentoring a new writer, the first place I send them is Seekerville. Susan C, pop in and testify to that!
    I am also wondering where Vince is.

    JULIE S, thank you and I agree wholeheartedly. We love that you want to support your authors! And I'm loving how many other grown women color. =)

    TINA, agreed. And I know it's not meant unkindly, and I'm sure most agents understand that too. I follow Rachelle's blog, but I don't read the comments. More often than not they're veiled pitches. ;-) Those two little words and her insight related to that are her value proposition and yes, we all want it like my dog wants his bones. I know it's not his best picture, but I'm saddened no one has complimented my son with fur yet. Where is May? =D

    MYRA, agreed! We'd really rather you all didn't try this, but if you cut off the giveaways right now, Seekerville would remain alive and well and I have no doubt continue to grow. And I love that you suggested them as thank-you gifts, similar to what Tina said about the Aunt who won't let you leave without a cookie. Giveaways will enhance and maintain a strong following like I mentioned, but it's very hard to create a following with just that.
    Unless it's cash. And consistent.

  53. JAN, exactly! That's why sometimes I balk when I have to be a follower to enter a giveaway or jump through some other hoop because I'm old school and think you need to earn that from me organically rather than bait me for it. (Though I know there are many who do this and I don't mean that to disparage.) But I want genuine followers, not tit-for-tat adds and likes who haven't put eyes on my blog for months. And I know when I've earned them, and that tells me better than anything what's working. And yes, I recognize you as a regular. =)

    NANCY C, I thought it did too. When I figured this out after praying and reexamining why my blog wasn't growing and I'd started to resent it completely, I knew I wanted to share this info and Tina was gracious enough to allow me to here today. And the white crayon thing has been a blast too. On occasion I allow myself to be impossibly random, because you never know what good will come of it. =)

    JAN, children with markers. I shudder inside. God bless you for being a Sunday School teacher. I remember mine who taught me the B-I-B-L-E song, all the great bible stories on flannel board, and were a rich part of my childhood. Sunday School Teachers rock my socks. =)


    Your number 3 is something I'd never thought of but realized I do. I don't think wholesale "free" works as good as people want to think it does. Unless it's cash.

    And I will admit to #4 but won't say who it was. I'd shelled out the $15 to get it on preorder because I wanted it ASAP and then two months, TWO MONTHS later, I saw a friend post on facebook it would be free for a day. Suddenly that $15 I spent with a big smile on my face didn't feel so good.

    #6 I wholeheartedly agree. When my followers are vying for the gift card, they have to name a character from the novel but I will let them enter the drawing for the print copy just for commenting. On their own they usually include why they want it, which I file away for future reference in my own marketing efforts. "Saw this on a friend's blog, or been seeing this a lot lately and would like to read it, etc."

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Vince.

    NATASHA, learning itself is a gift. I'll say it again. If you can learn from your own mistakes, that's good but if you can learn from someone else's, that's better. Best wishes and thanks for stopping in! I don't know you well yet but I'm sure time in Seekerville will cure that. =)

    JODIE, thank you. =)

    DEBBY, I am also rethinking white crayons. Apparently they have many, many uses I didn't know/hadn't thought about. =)

    TINA, exactly. Pull the lurkers!

    SARAH, thank you. I really liked breaking it down by level of writer and then including readers only and MUST give credit to a post in Writer's Alley (which I know you're familiar with ;-) where I first saw that done, though I can't remember whose post it was. Writer's Alley is my next stop in my blog feed daily after Seekerville. =) And thanks for the share.

    VINCE, thank you for that PS. I actually just finished my author website that went live last week. It is a reference site. When I'm published, I will for sure be coming back to your info here to make it as effective for me and my readers as possible. Right now FB is where I "play" and my blog is where I let the heroes shine and grow my following.

    KK, loving the interaction and will be back as soon as I can.

  54. Hi Debby:

    “Vince, where are you today?”

    Don’t you know that if you rattle my cage, I might come out with too much information? : )

    You wrote:

    ”I'm sure the repetitive motion [of coloring] frees our minds to be more creative. Vince would have an opinion on that.”

    If the repetitive action, like saying a mantra, empties the mind so that the universe or God can enter without being filtered, then the experience can be one of the most creative joys in our lives. If, however, one creatively colors and adds new insights between the lines given in the coloring book, then that in itself is a creative endeavor. This may lead to creative fatigue or it may spur parallel insights in other areas like plotting a novel.

    I think in the end it’s just who you are and what you make of it. That’s my opinion. : )


  55. You have wonderful info here. thanks for the insight on blogs and webpages.
    The comments by others were helpful as well.
    I too am a closet colorer. I mostly use my crayons making cards and such.

  56. Wow -- really interesting musings in both the blog post and the comments. RE. Amazon's free book offers...I've never understood the reasoning behind that -- especially on newish releases and love Vince's observations. Especially the idea that we're training up a generation who won't support the industry because they will just wait for freebies.

    I wonder if it skews the marketing results -- Does Amazon include the free books they've offered to boost their monthly stats and make their 'sales' look higher? Especially when they compare ebooks to 'real' books?

    Have to admit that I offer free books on my blog but that's because it's my small way of supporting the industry -- both publishers and authors that I love. I started offering free books for the titles that I get free from the publisher to review so that I'm still buying a book but then it kind of blossomed. I'm a one woman crusade for inspirational fiction! :-)

  57. Beemama, I'd love to have a heroine who is also a beekeeper, although I need to do research. Do you keep bees? A fascinating occupation for sure.

    Vince! Did I rattle your cage?

    I knew you would have great insight into the fine art of coloring with crayons. Perhaps a future blog...

    Hmmm. I'm thinking! :)

  58. Crusader Kav! Thank you for helping the inspirational cause. :)

  59. Nancy, you are the smartest person in the world.

    That's all I need say.

    So stinkin' smart.

    Hey, coffee... fresh pot. Mid-day wanna nappiness goin' down in upstate!


    And baking brownies even though it's hot. Just because.

    Nancy, you accurately assessed, then explained why some things work and don't work.

    So how come we all don't just do it right the first time????

  60. You know it surprises me how many of my readers (probably OUR readers but as usual, I'm narcissisticly focused on ME) How do you spell that stupid word, anyway????

    Anyway, REALLY, so many readers come over here. A lot of them are too shy to say hi, but they come by. Read what we've got to say. Cheer me on silently for making fun of Connealy...

    It's what I DO... right????

    And they commiserate with that Tippens woman because she's so gentle and nice.

    Oh, gag.


    BUT... they like coming here, even though or maybe because of the writing talk and friendliness of youse.

    Tina scares 'em most times, but we lure them back with the giveaways.

    And that's the truth.


  61. TINA, NANCY--Praying In Color. A friend introduced me to it. You can Google it and find the website. There are books and workbooks for it, but I keep it really simple. It's basically doodling/coloring as you pray. You begin with thinking of one of God's attributes. Write it on your paper. I usually write something like: "God is faithful." Then I spend some time doodling around that phrase, thinking on who God is, and praising thanking him for how he demonstrates that attribute in my life.

    Then, I write names or one word situations somewhere else on the page and doodle/draw a picture as I pray for the person or situation. Nothing planned or structured, just doodling or coloring while I pray. It slows my mind down to focus on the person and pray as God leads me. I like that it slows me down and gives me that coloring outlet.

    I personally bought a composition book on sale and some colored pencils (I prefer those for this activity), and I use these.

    I'd encourage you to Google it and see what you find. I love it. :)

  62. VINCE, true on websites. I knew I wanted mine static (mostly unchanging) because it needed to meet a different need. Someone who hears/reads "Nancy Kimball" and has no idea is going to go google "Nancy Kimball" and now that I've taken the top search engine result back from the realtor in Florida again, they get "me". There are links to my blog and my facebook page from there and a contact form, but I don't expect (or want) people to interact with me through my website.

    My FB page is for me. It's where I get to talk about what I want to talk about with the writers and readers I'm connected with and share some randomness or that hilarious, and I mean HILARIOUS video "So you want to write a novel" kind of thing.

    My blog is about what those followers want and thank the good Lord I finally found it and it fit with what I wanted and loved.

    I have not read Linda Howard's work so I cannot intelligently respond to your inquiry. This is part of why I originally chose not to do lists of my favorites on the blog. If I were going to do that, I would do that on my facebook author page and even then I would tread lightly. For the following reasons:

    1. My capacity to read is limited and I know (though it's a serious thorn in my side) that there are tremendous heroes I have missed and will miss.
    2. I run a large risk in alienating the authors and readers of previously featured heroes when they get bumped from the top ten. I am unwilling to risk that because I want to build strong relationships with my authors and fellow authors more than I want to be renowned as an expert on fiction heroes. In my current format, I'm able to deliver on my value proposition to accomplish my goals of platform building.

    Your ideas certainly have merit and if I were not an author sharing the sand box of those who would be affected by such a compilation, I would be much more inclined to want to capitalize on branding myself as an authority on fiction heroes.

    Please recommend to me the best Linda Howard hero and I will put that on the TBR and then hopefully in the future be able to answer you. To meet you half-way, I will share that my absolute, all-time favorite fiction hero ever who I think hung the moon is Michael Hosea from Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love.

  63. Hi Nancy! Hi Everyone--I had so much fun yesterday I couldn't stay away lol.

    Great Post Nancy!

    I'm a terrible blogger lol I've always said, I write books not blogs, and that's what I've mostly been doing since I sold my first book. I finally did start a blog and it just sits over there lonesome waiting on me to post something new on it. lol poor thing.

    Your post was a great insight for me. Not sure if I'll ever be more of a blogger than I am but there is always hope! Thanks...

    And yesterday when you commented about approving my hero cover I had no idea about your hero blog--I checked it out this morning and loved it!!! I would hope my heroes would make the cut :)truley it is something to think about when creating a hero--he does have to have all those qualities you rate them on. What a great idea you had.

    I can see why your stats are good.

  64. Very good advice.
    csdsksds at gmail . Com

  65. Oh Yes, Susanna, totally forgot about using a white crayon on Easter Eggs, I love doing that.

    Oooo, Vince, the I feel cheated thing has happened to me before. I was perfectly content paying for the book but then it went free and I was like Dagnabit! It happens so often on free kindle that I could see a lot of people waiting for the freebie instead of buying right away. Especially Christian Publishers, the secular kindle freebie site was mainly self-pubs, but the Christian books are some of the best: Julie's and Julie', that's Lessman and Klassen, and others, etc.

    I think I nodded my head on every one of those points, Vince.

  66. TINA, thank you! That's Mr. Eric Templeton. Eric for short. There is a much better picture of him on the home page of my website. He is named after the hero in my best friend and critique partners manuscript, who is a CIA assassin. Thus the camo collar. =)

    BEEMAMA, thank you. Delighted you shared you color as well. =)

    KAV, you said "especially the idea that we're training up a generation who won't support the industry because they will just wait for freebies". I will restrain myself to a non-political answer and say, AGREED. Which is something I've noticed on my blog and because I actively track giveaways through Fiction Addiction Fix, but when there are a flood of giveaways for the same title, I'm even less inclined to go scope/enter that giveaway because subconsciously I think I'll get another chance anyway.

    I will let a knowledgeable published author confirm or deny, but I do think that downloads of the free copies count as "sales" for numbers purposes. Which makes me wonder how or if any plan is in place to preserve the integrity of the best-seller lists if this is indeed true.

  67. RUTHY, I don't know what to say. I would have been less knocked off kilter if you'd said I was an idiot, LOL. The titles came out blurry on my bookshelf photo but that is Small Town Hearts, Mended Hearts, and Yuletide Hearts there in the H section. ;-)
    And I don't know. I didn't get it right the first time. Or the fifteenth. The honest answer is I got frustrated and then asked God to help me make my blog work. In hindsight, I should have done that first.

    I'll tell you why I love Fiction Hero Features and you tell me if it's why you think I'm smart.

    1. To make a feature, I was already doing three of the four things required already. Reading new releases, writing blog posts, looking for swoon-worthy heroes. The missing element was contacting the authors for permissions, arranging excerpts, cover images, etc.

    2. The exposure and reach of the blog changes with each new author added. When I send the author or their publicist the link to their feature, they promote it because it's their work and Fiction Hero Features reaches an entirely new collection of readers. In short, they promote my blog as I in turn promote their hero.

    3. My growing list of followers is FINALLY transitioning out of the writer/reader to readers. I love writer/readers but eventually you exhaust that pond. FHF gives me an opportunity to piggy-back into the readership and fan-base of other authors, many of which are very well established such as Andrew Klavan whose hero Sam Hopkins will be featured 9/15. (I still can't believe I got him, LOL)

    4. I'm not completely selfless in promoting Christian fiction (Nodding at Kav. Good for you my friend and we appreciate it!) I have an incentive, or I wouldn't be buying two books and two gift cards a month to give away and spending the time FHF requires (6-8 hours a month) if I didn't fully expect something in return. When it's time to feature my own heroes from my own novels, Jonathan, Drusus, and soon Jaxon, (YES Ruthy, I decided to write that story from your prompt. =) I've got a ready made fan base for great heroes. That's my long-term return on investment aspirations but the short term are already attractive as I get to interact with authors and publishing professionals and readers twice a month. Everyone wins!

  68. JEANNE T, thank you. I'm so going to try that. =)

    DEBRA, thank you! Authors are always welcome to nominate their own heroes when they believe he will fit the criteria. The only thing different when that happens is I ask the author to provide me the copy of the book instead of me procuring it myself. Info is on the How Does This Work? tab on the blog and I'd certainly be happy to take a look at him. =)

    RUNNER10, thanks! (See, sometimes you just enter the drawing/let us know what worked for you and we like that too. =) Best wishes!

    MELISSA's back. =)

    And I will be too! I promise.

  69. Nancy,love your reasoning above! Sounds like a win-win to me! Today was my first visit to FHF, but will not be my last!

  70. Nancy, you are brilliant. Almost as brilliant as Tina. :)

  71. Jeanne T,

    I googled Praying in Colors and the site brought tears to my eyes. Holy Spirit tears. What a lovely idea. Thank you!

    I'll be praying your name in color soon...

  72. Hi Nancy:

    Here are the Mackenzie series books. People kept wanting more of these books. These books actually got me reading romances in the first place.

    Mackenzie's Mountain (Mackenzie Family, #1)
    Mackenzie's Mission (Mackenzie Family, #2)
    Mackenzie's Pleasure
    MacKenzie's Pleasure/Defending His Own
    Mackenzie's Magic (Mackenzie Family, #3)
    Christmas Kisses (Mackenzie Family, #4
    A Game Of Chance (Mackenzie Family, #5)

    I like Mackenzie’s Mountain, Mackenzie’s Mission, and A Game of Chance, the best. I’m not sure women readers will like the heroes as much as I do. I’m not a big fan of beta heroes.

    About the top hero lists: I was thinking like a marketing person. I did something like this about condos for my real estate business and I was quoted in the newspaper at least once a month. Some months it was four times. Because I put out the lists, I was also interviewed about the condo market on TV and radio. Imagine getting quoted in magazines and news websites like Foxnews and so on. This moves you up to hundreds of thousands of potential hits.

    If you put out the list, you become the expert. And if people object to your picks, that makes even more news. It gives readers a reason to come and comment.

    I think right now you own the position of ‘hero website’ and that is worth holding. It has great marketing potential.

    I guess an author would not like her hero dropping from number 1 to off the chart. That’s why I thought you’d need lots of lists. I thought it could also be light hearted and be disclosed as your personal, ever changing, list updated as you gain more knowledge. But I can see the difficulty in doing it.

    Perhaps you could have a top ten list of attributes found in great heroes of various types. Things like: honestly, loyalty, consideration, etc. Such a list would not step on any author’s toes. Top names? Top occupations? Top past experiences with women? How about heroes with a great sense of humor? I have lists of things like this on my website: each with 100 items or more. But I just did these to be creative. I don’t have a theme. I'm just having fun.

    A list that is quoted and even anticipated by readers is a powerful publicity tool. I am sure there is a perfect list for you. You really have something. : )


  73. The Vince Moody Seal of Approval was just awarded to Nancy Kimball!

    I've got chills. Really! And he's so right on! Yay, Vince. Yay, Nancy!

    Bringing ice cream and cake to celebrate!!!

    Does anyone wonder why we love Seekerville?

    Okay, I'm going back to work and thinking of lists I can create...

    Having already shamelessly proclaimed how much I like your blog (See the last W.E for proof), I was really looking foward to your post today! AND did I mentionned that I'm also looking foward to the book?
    Very good points. I like what you said to readers... and well, I don't know if anyone said it yet: but some of us (readers) really LOVE to support authors. (Pre-pusblished, published etc...).

    Thanks, Nancy!

    Good day to you all, peeps!

  75. One more thing:
    Gorge-ous picture there!

  76. Nancy,

    Most excellent post today! It is always a challenge to know how far we must go without actually selling our souls to the devil....

    A $25 gift card to a bookstore? Um, sign me up. A couple times, if you can.


    Love the photo, btw. Captures a little sass in your eyes!


  77. I agree with everything said in this post! And I'm glad you don't think it's tacky when people just comment to win. :)


  78. DONNA, I saw that, thank you! That drawing is tonight at midnight so you squeaked in. =) Hero features post on the 1st and 15th of every month so we have the newest one coming very soon.

    DEBBY, thank you. I'm going to go check out that Praying in Colors site when I get a chance.

    VINCE, your encouragements make perfect sense they really do and from a straight marketing perspective, I would adopt them all in a heartbeat. I do have the market cornered right now on fiction heroes because there is no other blog or site doing this.
    But I've lived and learned a lot of things already in my time here.
    I'm soaking in your praise, truly and hope I don't destroy it with what I'm about to say.

    I don't aspire to be the web's foremost authority on fiction heroes. It would be super cool if that became a reality but to work in that direction would take time and dedication from my primary pursuit of becoming an accomplished and prolific novelist with an ever growing readership. My time is my most precious commodity and I cannot take any more from anywhere else in the pie of my life without giving up something else in exchange.
    I'll sum it this way.
    I want to be a vineyard that consistently produces 100 point wines and I can't do that and be Robert Parker.

    Now you have given me some great ideas and perhaps the end of the year will need to see such a list from featured heroes that year and let the followers/readers of FHF vote their top three, most wounded, etc. And the fact I earned a nod from you is a Texas-sized peacock feather in my hat. I still remember when I posted an excerpt from a work in process and you said you wanted to read that novel immediately. All I can say is, I'm working on it! =)

  79. DEBBY G, I know. I got them too. And the same day Ruthy said I was the smartest person in the world. It's a good thing I learned true humbleness several years ago. Seriously.

    GANISE! There you are my friend! I'm horrid and missed the shout-out on the WE but thank you for that. I'm sure I'll feel really dumb when you tell me, but what book are you looking forward to? One of mine? And thank you. My brother is a professional photographer. That's his work. A truer representation is available on my official website, hehe.

    BECKY DOUGHTY, great seeing you again! Don't worry, Tina will get you in the drawing and thanks, that's one of my fave pics of me.

    MARISSA, I don't think that's tacky at all. The only time I think someone is being tacky is when I specifically ask blog readers to do something and they don't, which tells me they didn't read the post at all or the ump-teen comments before them that could have been an example. But it's rare. And I'm mollified by being able to exclude from the drawing. :-p

  80. Jeanne T this is amazing. I am so excited to check out the idea of coloring and praying. WOW!!! Thank you.

  81. Okay, I'm going to pray and color tonight :) Great concept.

    Thanks for the awesome post. I don't have a website, but I've been contemplating one. I just don't think anyone would follow me at this point, lol. I am the unpublished author with high hopes.

    Thanks again!

  82. I'm jumping on the colouring and praying band wagon too. And there is even a book for kids. We have a little boy in grade two who is battling cancer and how neat would it be for his class to colour a prayer mural for him????

  83. Hi Nancy, I am a reader and blogger and do reviews. I have got many books (Free) and it is a help since I love to read so much BUT I review the books I read which I think helps the author. I send to my sisters after reading and they read and share also so others are getting to know these authors through me. If I read a free one that is part of a series, I have to go get the rest of them to read also-- so makes me buy some that I wouldnt be buying otherwise. I liked reading through your comments though most I think is for writers, still enjoyed learning little from them. thanks for sharing today. I would love to win your giveaway, truly.
    Paula O(

  84. Great post, Nancy! Thank you!

    Am sharing...

  85. Nancy-- O yes! I'm looking foward to reading your very own book! Thanks for replying. :-)

    Kav- O my, the prayer wall would be very good! I'll join and say a prayer right now for the little darling.

    Back to school day 3 :I'm already studying intensely. *sigh*

  86. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for the helpful tips.

    I'll be thinking how to apply them to my blog.

    Jackie L.

  87. I don't have a personal blog because I'm very sure I wouldn't keep it up. Your tips are so helpful, Nancy! Thanks for sharing with us today.

  88. Interesting post, Nancy! And enjoyed the comments, too. I will definitely check out the Praying in Color that Jeanne mentioned. Please count me in for the $25 gift to read and have books in my cart ...waiting!

    Jackie S.

  89. Great post. :P

    I'm a long-time lurker on Seekerville. But I have joined in the conversation on occasion!

  90. This info makes sense. As a reader (not a writer), I enjoy reading author blogs and am thrilled when I can win free books (or gift cards to buy books), especially since finances are tight for me. I often share newly discovered authors with my book club, which will hopefully result in sales for you even if I cannot afford to buy many books.

  91. There you go, Pam K. THAT is how it's supposed to work. We thank you for sharing.

  92. ANNIE, the authors of the novels we love were once unpublished with high hopes. Press on!

    PAULA, authors LOVE reviewers. When they like our work. =) If you have a following that trusts your recommendations and their tastes are similar to yours, that is for sure a win. Thank you for stopping by today!

    LINNETTE, thank you and you're welcome. I like short and sweet, too. =) And am capable of it myself. Really, hehe.

    GANISE, thank you my friend. This September at the ACFW conference is the first time I attend a conference and pitch to agents. I'm focusing mainly on my historical that finaled in Genesis but I have my historical romance complete also if they care to hear about that one. The WIP is on hold until after conference, but my plan is to keep learning and writing until they start selling. =)

    I also love the idea of a prayer mural for that youngster. Love it. I'm now sure that God had way more in store for my silly white crayon comment than I could have imagined. It's one of the things I love about God. =)

    JACKIE, thank you my friend. =)

    CARA, a woman who knows her boundaries. I so respect that. =) Thank you and the Seekers for having me.

    JACKIE S, done. =)

    KATIE G, I can see that, hehe. The great news is now that you've come out of lurking, you'll probably never go back. =) I look forward to getting to know you and what you love to read and or write.

    PAM K, people like free stuff and that's A-Okay. That you generate word of mouth when you really like your prize is exactly why authors give books away and we LOVE THAT. But we have to be careful on our side too, because while they're free to you, they aren't typically free to the publisher or the author. That cost is part of marketing and building readership and we want to do our best so that those prizes go to people like you who will give us the best advertising there is--word of mouth. =)

  93. TINA, here, here! We probably clicked send at the same time, hehe. Thank you again for having me. I'll check in a little later after I've gotten my Rattler contest entry safely off. =)

  94. Welcome Katie!
    I've visited your blog, before.
    Nice to see you here!

  95. Thanks so much Nancy for the shout out about our giveaway blog Fictionaddictionfix. Your post is very helpful for all of us, and definitely challenges me to work on marketing that much more.
    Poor Rachelle. That's too bad about the mix up with the blog link--but how nice for us! LOL

  96. At Overcoming Through Time - With God's Help, we have a pretty clear perspective on why we are blogging and our focus is on sharing testimonies. My tagline for my own writing is what gave the blog its name. But we have evolved into a blog ministry sharing encouraging stories of overcoming. And periodically we get to meet with lovely multi-published authors like Julie, whose books we are reviewing again soon. We do giveaways but the focus is on relationships with our visitors. We hope they leave encouraged and that they will find a place where they feel free to share.

  97. KATHLEEN, you're welcome! And you earned all those hits today honestly because Tina fixed the link VERY EARLY this morning. =) And I said earlier, I'm pretty sure every writer here already knows/follows Rachelle's blog.
    Best wishes on your Genesis finalist entry this year. I really truly mean that. =)

    CARRIE, you're describing a winning combination to me. You know what your value proposition is and your giveaways merely enhance it. I pray lots of blessings on your efforts and the lives it touches. =)

  98. Oh, please, PLEASE, pick me for the drawing! ; )

    I think it's funny I happened on here today not knowing you were the guest blogger! Wonderful info and I'm so glad your revised blog is doing so well.

    Eric is getting more handsome everyday. And yes, as a dog lover, and in general animal lover, I totally had an awwww moment with that picture.


  99. Great post Nanc! Seriously, I'm going to utilize some of what was written when it comes to our incentives for people to sign up (and attend) our events, as well as read Pastor John's blog and facebook posts! The best part for me though (as a personal friend and huge fan of my friend Nancy who happens to also be this amazing writer) was having to scroll through pages of comments in order to get to the end so I could post one! Too cool. Love you girl! Karen F.

  100. WHITNEY!!! ***hugs*** Thank you so much, my friend. It's so great to see you!

    KAREN F, that you, who like me have more responsibilities to fit in a single day than should be humanly possible, dropped by to comment means so much to me. Truly, my friend. I would just hit my knees in grateful prayers if anything I offered today can help Pastor John and the CARE group ministry. AND... I'm going to make a reader out of you someday, you mark my words. We'll start with Chasing the Lion. =)

  101. I should comment more. I know when I do it is always appreciated.

  102. Would love to win a gift card! Thanks for the opputunity to enter

  103. Hello from Lurker City. I get your posts a day late in my email, so I probably missed the drawing, but I wanted to thank Nancy for the info about freebies and especially about defining a unique value proposition for my soon-to-be website/blog.


    Can you give a few examples of "Capitalize on the established value propositions of others"?

    And may I quote your wonderful message to readers on my blog when I finally get it up and running?


  104. MARYBELLE, it is indeed! Thank you.

    SHELIA, you're welcome. =)

    LINDA, welcome! That happened to me too when I first subscribed so I learned to always click the link to Seekerville from my e-mail so I would be on the current post. If that helps anyone!

    Capitalizing on the established value props of others is like leveraging to reach your goal faster and or stronger. An example from my blog is when I e-mail Debby and Kathleen at Fiction Addiction Fix to list me in their giveaway posts. I'm using their established value proposition (a central clearinghouse of giveaways of Christian fiction) to further mine. Another example is at the research level is the website goodreads. The value proposition of goodreads is recommendations, reviews and community around books readily available. I'm able to go there to explore a nominated hero's novel to see if enough of the reviews substantiate moving him to round 2 of selections. This saves me a tremendous amount of time in not reading every novel nominated with the trade off being I'm relying on reviews at that level of decision making. Because I've found goodreads to be hands-down the best place for reviews for my needs, I'm leveraging their value proposition for my research. A real world example is fitness centers who are also distributors for dietary supplements and will have their literature and information in their gyms. Those supplement companies are leveraging the value proposition of the gym to fulfill client need to further a healthy lifestyle and hoping to generate sales through that outlet.
    I hope that was helpful more than over-answering your questions.

    I was a business admin and accounting double major in college. Sometimes it still shows, hehe. And I don't mind at all though I'm sure the Seekers would appreciate a link back to the post as well. Best wishes when your website or blog is up!

  105. Kav, I'm praying for that little guy you've placed on my heart. Lovely idea about the prayer mural. More Holy Spirit tears! :)

  106. Thank you for sharing. A lotto think about! Please enter me in te drawing.
    Linda Cacaci

  107. Thanks for the information Nancy.
    You have put together some tips that are most helpful.

  108. Nancy, I have to tell you this was a very lively and thoughtful conversation starting post. I'm just finally getting back to read all the comments that went up after I went to bed last night.

    And wow, some lurkers I haven't chatted with in a while were here today. Hi!!!! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!

    And Whitney stopped by. Miss you Whitney!!!

  109. Vince, I hear you.

    I'm making it my goal to update Ruthy's Place more often starting today.

    You have inspired me.

  110. Thanks for this post. It gave me a lot of insight and things to consider with my own blog.



  111. I, for one, am relieved to hear that giveaways and prizes don't bring blog followers. Because I'm a struggling author who pays a dear price for my books. Who can afford to let go of very many books when she's invested $10 in each copy?

    So...I started writing devotionals, nostalgic memories, life experiences, and humorous incidents from my own life.

    Still I don't have a large following.

    in 2009 and 2010 I made many blog appearances as a new author? Did it help increase book sales? No. Did I make more people aware of who I was? I think so. Did I make new friends? YES! Interaction is a wonderful thing to me. I cherish each and every friendship.

    Just last week I received an email from an elderly woman in Texas who read my post about "Roses." Ha! It was posted in April. How she found it I don't know.

    I replied to her email and I think this will be an ongoing friendship. This lady is so sweet.

    Beginning the first of this year, my mother developed health problems. My blog posts have been few and far between since. I haven't seen a fall in book sales due to it. Honestly sales were up the last two quarters. Praise God!!!

    Enter me in the book drawing. I still love to win them. I'm an avid reader of romance. Woo-hoo!

  112. Wonderful post, Nancy--thank you!