Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A look at Goodreads ads (long)

I have to preface this post about my experience with a Goodreads advertisement by saying, I know a lot of authors don't like Goodreads. They don't like the mean-spirited reviews that are allowed, the bad language that's allowed, the sorting system that can put one of those horrible, mean-spirited reviews at the top because a bunch of people "like" it, and more.

And I get it. I do. There was huge thread about it on Verla's message board awhile back, and I know some authors have really strong feelings about Goodreads, and have encouraged other authors to leave the site to send a message to the people managing the site. If you are one of those authors, please don't be mad at me for supporting the site.

I guess my take on it is that anywhere that books can be reviewed, bad things can and will be said. It's the nature of the beast. I have read some terrible reviews on Amazon. Mean reviews. It's not just Goodreads where this happens.

I'm not saying I agree with it. And I'm certainly not saying I like negative reviews. Ugh, no, I am as sensitive as the next guy. Probably even more so.

But stepping back, and looking at it from a different perspective, Goodreads is a popular site with readers. And in my opinion, there are too few places for readers to gather and discuss books. And whether I like it or not, readers are there. And so, knowing that, I decided I wanted to try and reach some of them.

When THE DAY BEFORE came out, I spent $45.00 to run a small ad on the site. They call it a "campaign." I was curious if an ad on Goodreads would help get my book exposure it might not otherwise get, and I was willing to spend around fifty dollars as an experiment, of sorts. Now I'm going to share the results of that experiment with you.

When you set up a campaign, you decide how much you are willing to spend per click. Apparently the higher the amount of the click, the better your chances of getting your ad seen. I set the amount per click at 20 cents, which is on the lower end. I wanted a long life for my ad versus a ton of exposure for a short time. As you'll see in a minute, this amount got me plenty of visibility. You can also set a cap as to how much you spend per day. I think I set the amount at $2.00 per day, but now that I've done this, I know your chances of getting even a click or two per day are pretty small.

After you figure out the money part of your ad - how much you are willing to spend, how much you want your "per click" rate to be, etc., then it's time to figure out the targeting of your ad. I think this is HUGE, and I wonder how many authors err on the side of a wide audience. I didn't want a wide audience. I wanted a narrow one. I wanted my ad to target readers who would be most likely to like my book.

I left age blank, chose United States as the country, turned off "target specific genres" and selected about twenty YA authors to target. What does that mean? Let's say someone goes to the site to look up books by NYT bestselling author Jenny Han. Along the side, that person will see ads for books as she pokes around, reading reviews for Jenny Han's books or perhaps logging her own reviews. I decided I would like the ad for my book to be one that potentially shows up around that author. To make this feature work well, you want to think like a librarian. If a reader likes THESE books, she might also like THESE books. Where would your books fit well? If you write fantasy, think of other fantasy writers. If you write contemporary, probably want to target other contemporary authors. One of the best things about this strategy is I can list myself. That way, if someone goes to review another one of my books, hopefully they might see the ad and discover that I have a new book out.

Please know, the ad won't show up *every* time. My understanding is ads are rotated, trying to give everyone a share of the ad time. You have campaign stats you can see at any time on your author page if you set up an ad. You also get e-mails sent on a daily basis that show how many clicks your ad received that day, and how many times readers added your book. Because they may see the ad, not click on it, and still add the book.

For me, it wasn't about the clicks. It was about the cover of my book popping up for people to see. If they saw it enough, maybe they'd want to check out. It was all about exposure!

In November, the graph shows that sometimes my ad was shown 700 times, other days it was shown 2,500 times. The most clicks (that is, where someone clicks on the ad and goes to the goodreads page of that book to read more about the book and read reviews) was 5.

It's almost December, and I have just a few dollars left in my "campaign." Yes, that $45.00 lasted about six months. So now the question... was it worth it? I believe it was. Would I do it again? Absolutely. And here's why.

Right now, out of all my books, including I Heart You, You Haunt Me, which has been out for almost 4 years and was recently available through Scholastic book fairs and clubs, The Day Before has the highest number of people marking it as "to read." Of course I realize, marking a book "to read" doesn't mean a person will actually buy it or read it. In fact, most won't. To me it means, I'm thinking about it. I might like to pick it up at some point. Something about the book intrigues me enough to remember it.

Out of all the thousands of books, a reader has decided she wants to remember mine. I'll take that!!! Because maybe in the future, she'll see my book mentioned again, and this time she'll decide to act and pick up the book. Again, it's about exposure, and helping people to notice my book.

So let's look at my "to read" numbers for all of my YA novels.

Far From You: 1,831 people
Chasing Brooklyn: 3,697 people
I Heart You, You Haunt Me: 4,612 people
The Day Before: 6,359 people

But what about sales, Lisa? That's what you're thinking, right? We will never be able to know for certain how many books were sold because of an ad on Goodreads. I do know that almost 1,000 have "rated" the book (which, in my mind, means they read it). I think that's a decent number. Not phenomenal, mind you. Maybe not even great. But decent. Compare that to Far From You, which has been out for a couple of years and hasn't sold all that well, with only 919 ratings. And I Heart You, You Haunt Me, which has sold very well, has been out four years and is in its tenth printing, and has 3,555 ratings.

Sorry this got so long, but I hope you found some helpful information here, if you've been considering an ad on Goodreads. I certainly think it's worth a try, given that you can spend a small amount of money for quite a bit of exposure. I should also mention you can change the campaign at any time, if you decide you want to change the text of your ad, who you're targeting, the cost per click, etc. I actually changed the text of my ad after a couple of months, and I do think it helped get me more clicks.

Any questions you have for me about this - let me know in the comments and I'll try to answer them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Limited Time Offer - Signed Bookplates

Are you planning on giving one of my books this year to someone on your Christmas list? If you are, THANK YOU!!!

To help make your gift extra special, for one week only, I'm offering FREE personalized and signed bookplates (3 maximum).

I can't offer this up all the time, because of a) the time it takes and b) the expense, but because it's Thanksgiving week and I'm feeling especially thankful for all of my readers, I wanted to do something special to show my appreciation.

To get a personalized and signed bookplate that you can stick on the title page, all you need to do is send me the following via e-mail at lisaschroederbooks@gmail.com

Name of person the book is for (yes, it can be for yourself - just let me know that)
Which of my books the bookplate is going inside
Your mailing address

I use clear bookplates, so when you peel off the backing and stick it in the book, the bookplate is barely visible. It looks clean and professional, I promise.

So hurry - this offer is good through Monday, November 28th, 2011.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Five - TV show edition and what I take away for my writing

1. "New Girl" CRACKS ME UP. I love it. Love, love, love it. Every time they showed the turkey in the dryer, I laughed.

2. I love "Modern Family" for the same reason - funny!

3. My new obsession is Downton Abbey. I've watched five episodes and cannot wait to watch the rest. Season 2 starts up January 8th on PBS and I will be there with bells on. The characters. The setting. The dresses! And Matthew. Ohhhhhh Matthew.

4. "Vampire Diaries" has been excellent this season. I've loved finding out about the history of the originals and seeing a different side to both Damon and Stefan.

5. "Once Upon a Time" is a new one I've been watching. I love how the show flashes back and shows us the characters' history, and feeds our desire to see the fairy tale aspect alongside the present day, contemporary characters.

Wow, what a varied list. And yet, what it shows me, what I take away as I go back to work on my YA WIP, is that whether the story is about vampires or aristocrats or a gay couple, what pulls me in, what makes me want to keep watching, are the characters.

And so it is in the fiction that I read as well.

We must remember, as writers, that yes, a great hook and fascinating plot are well and good, but in the end, it's the characters the reader wants to connect with. Give me an interesting character, someone I can relate to on some level, or admire, or want to be, or maybe even despise and want to see change, or SOMETHING, and I will follow that character anywhere. Yep, character is where it's at.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Recommendation - Daughter of Smoke and Bone


When it comes to YA, I'm partial to contemporary. I read other things, and often enjoy them, but I still find myself most excited about a new book by my favorite contemporary authors - John Green, Sara Zarr, Sarah Ockler, Lindsey Leavitt, to name a few.

But Laini Taylor's latest, a YA fantasy, I had been excited about reading for at least a good year. First of all, I know the girl has a magical way with words, as is evidenced by her DREAMDARK books as well as LIPS TOUCH. Second of all, there were so many cool things that piqued my interest as I read about the various parties held to celebrate the book, both here and in the UK. Wish bones? Teeth? Blue hair? Marionettes? I could go on and on! Finally, the early reviews raved about it. I mean, RAVED.

And so, a few weeks ago, I finally got to read it. I really have no words for how much I loved this book. The writing is gorgeous, and the story original and fascinating. The worlds she created blew me away. And the mysteries she weaved into the story kept me guessing, and when things were revealed toward the end, it all made perfect sense and yet, I hadn't seen any of it coming.

It's made PW's and Amazon's Best Books of 2011 lists and I'm sure we'll see it on many more lists to come. And rightly so.

I'm not one who gets into trilogies, most of the time. I read the first book, a year goes by, I can't remember much of what happened in the first book to care enough to read the second book. I can't tell you how many books I've read that were the first in a trilogy and then I never read beyond that first book. The exception to this would be THE HUNGER GAMES.

But this trilogy, I'm in it for the long haul. I cannot wait for the second book. Like, I'm DYING to read the next one.

I think Laini Taylor is one of the greatest writers of our time. Yes, I'm lucky to call Laini a friend, but just go and read all of the 5-star reviews on Amazon, and you'll see that many, MANY people feel the way I do. She is one very talented lady!

Don't miss this book. Seriously.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chasing Brooklyn in German

Yesterday I got a package from my editor. I was so surprised when I opened it.

Small, adorable books, written in German!

Here is IN LIEBE, BROOKLYN next to her big sister, CHASING BROOKLYN, so you get an idea of the size. It's almost pocket-sized.

And check out the bookmark that is sewn into the book:

I would love to give away a couple. If you read German or know someone who does and might like to read this book of love and loss, healing and hope, let me know with an e-mail address and I'll get in touch with you.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two things every middle grade author should do

It can be hard to figure out where your money is best spent when it comes to promotional activities.

I did a checklist and timeline a year or two ago to help authors organize those activities. You can find that HERE.

But two things I've discovered over the past year I wanted to share here, in regards to middle grade novels.

First - a reading/discussion guide is one of the BEST things you can do for your book. I paid to have one done for It's Raining Cupcakes, because I wasn't sure what went into one and I wanted to make sure it was done well. For Sprinkles and Secrets, I decided to try and do one on my own. As I got into it, I found it wasn't really that hard, and I'm happy with how it turned out. Check with your publisher too - they may be willing to do one for you!

Because I'm using a web site that doesn't allow for documents to be uploaded, I state in a couple of different places on my site to drop me an e-mail and I'll send the document along that way.

I'm actually glad now that I did it this way, and here's why. When a teacher or parent or book club member e-mails me, I can reply with the document she's requested for AND ask if she'd like some signed bookmarks to give out at the meeting or event. They seem to really love that I do this.

(By the way, I get a lot of mother-daughter book clubs requesting my discussion guide. Do you know how happy this makes me? VERY happy!)

Which leads me to the second thing I think you should do if you're publishing a middle grade novel. Have bookmarks made! I can't find a digital copy of the ones I had done with both covers on the front, but here are the ones I had made before It's Raining Cupcakes came out.

Anytime someone e-mails you about the book, offer to send some. Especially if you've written a series - as soon as you have the cover for the second book, get bookmarks made with both books and send them to everyone you can. This way, they have a visual that lets them know there's a second book coming. (Make sure to list the release date of that second book too).

As far as where to get bookmarks made? I LOVE www.iconix.biz. Ask for Kelly - she's great!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vegas Book Festival Recap

I flew to Vegas this weekend to be a part of the Vegas Book Festival. This was the first year they had a Teen Book Festival as a part of it. So much fun! Thanks to all the teens, parents, teachers and librarians who came out. It was great to meet you!

Below are some pictures, courtesy of Suzanne Young, Crystal Perkins and Heather Davis, because I seem to forget to take many pictures. Okay, actually, it's just that I don't have an iphone and everyone else does and they snap pictures right and left while I seem to just get in them and smile.

Friday Night:

Suzanne Young, Liz Gallagher and me, as we looked for a place to eat
After we saw Blue Man Group - what an strange amazing show! 

Me, Suzanne Young, and Lindsey Leavitt waiting in the freezing cold to eat at Serendipity's.

The large topiary outside Serendipity's. Is that a milkshake? Yeah, I think it's a milkshake.


Contemporary panel w/ Lindsey Leavitt, Emily Wing Smith, Daisy Whitney, me, Liz Gallagher, Jay Asher

All of the YA authors with Crystal Perkins, B&N bookseller extraordinaire

Saturday Night (Paranormal Ball):

Suzanne Young and I dressed up like vampire slayers.

James Dashner (The Maze Runner series) was dressed in black. And scared of us.

Be careful James. Sometimes when you least expect it...

Cute kitty Heather Davis (latest book is WHEREVER YOU ARE) and me
A great time was had by all. Now, back to work!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From my mail

Author Cynthia Lord does a blog post every few months with lines from her mail that made her smile or touched her. I've never done one of these, but today, I'm going to!

These are from both e-mails and actual letters I've received over the past few weeks.

Thank you readers - I love hearing from you!

"I actually hated reading until I discovered I Heart You, You Haunt Me at the book fair at my school. I am reading Chasing Brooklyn at the moment. I love how you wrote them in verse form." ~Candie, 14

"I read Chasing Brooklyn last night. I couldn't put it down! My mom said 30 more minutes and you have to go to bed. I stayed up until 1:45 reading it!" ~Caitlynn, 12

"I would like a reading/discussion guide for It's Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets. Thanks so much. I am a school librarian and my kids LOVE them." ~Christy

"I stayed home sick today and my dad said NO TV!!!! At first I was terrified ~ and my mom finally came home, she got me a brand new copy of Sprinkles and Secrets. On the first page I fell in love with your book. I looked on your web site to see if there are any other books in this series. I was devastated when I found out there are no more." ~Kaitlyn

"I was trying so hard to be patient for the ending (of Sprinkles and Secrets) but it was hard and so intriguing. I am so sad it's over. Please write a third because I would be thrilled." ~Samara

"I'm going to give you come special things too. A handmade bookmark signed by me!" ~Isabelle

"I just read your books It's Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets. They are my favorite books in the world." ~Brianna

"Will there be an It's Raining Cupcakes 3? This is just an idea, don't you think you could do a donut one?" ~Ashlee

I'm off to Vegas bright and early tomorrow morning. If you're in the area, come and see me at the Vegas Book Festival. I'm on a YA teen panel Saturday afternoon at 11:25.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Authors get asked about inspiration a lot.

It's not always a cut and dry answer for me. And I think there's different kinds of inspiration, too. The kind that provides story ideas. The kind that keeps you writing day after day. The kind that picks you up when you're feeling down. Some of it is not inspiration as much as it's perspiration, right? But still, I think it can be helpful to spend time thinking about what inspires you. Because when you are in need of a little inspriration, then you know where to look!

Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls, is doing a month-long event at her blog to provide inspiration to people doing NaNoWriMo this month.

You can read my post about inspiration HERE.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Goodreads giveaway - SPRINKLES AND SECRETS

I dressed up as a cupcake for Halloween!

I'm all out of candy to give away, so I'm giving you a chance to win a signed and personalized copy of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS over at www.goodreads.com, hoping to help get the word out that there is another book out about Isabel and Sophie!

Go HERE to enter!

Good luck!

Also, if you have read SPRINKLES AND SECRETS enjoyed it, please consider reviewing it over at Amazon. It only has a couple of reviews over there and I would love to have more. Thanks!!