Friday, March 25, 2016

Book Review: Tutankhamen Speaks

On 4 November, 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter and his team discovered a tomb in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, a tomb that he and his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, weren’t even sure existed. It was the tomb of a little known king, a young man who’d taken the throne at around eight or nine, and had died around age 18: Tutankhamen. The young king, whose obscurity during his own time allowed his tomb to be forgotten, has now become one of the most well-known figures of ancient Egypt. But what do we know about the young king and his unexpected death at such an early age? What do we know about how he lived, how he felt about things like duty, responsibility and obligation, his emotions and opinions, his family life, and his love for his wife, Ankhesenpaaten? The mystery begins right away! Author Cheryl Carpinello, an ardent Egyptophile, reveals that one day she met the Egyptian scholar S.L. Wood, who mentioned that he’d found an ancient scroll, damaged in parts, in a basement room of the Cairo Museum. This appeared to be a scroll written by the young king, almost speaking to his people from beyond the grave. Was it a hoax? Did this scroll even exist? Read on to find out what the young king says in Tutankhamen Speaks.

Cheryl Carpinello has an extraordinary gift for being able to breathe life into what could be dry and dusty facts about people who, to the average person, are just names in a history book. Through wonderful, evocative and poignant descriptions, she takes us back in time to when a young boy lived in ancient Egypt, a boy who was in awe of his great father, and loved his half-sister Ankhesenpaaten. His memories of early childhood, descriptions of daily life in ancient times, his growing up years, the games he played, the ceremonies and, of course, the politics and religion are all examined for the interested reader. The author also includes interesting facts that readers may not be aware of, so interesting that these might quite change your thoughts of ancient Egyptian times and rulers. This is a wonderful read for all ages, and at the end of this short book, you’ll be left like me, wanting more. I truly enjoyed this! Five stars.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

My 5 Top Book Marketing Methods

“Discoverability” is the word on every author’s lips as they try to get their books into the spotlight, making readers aware of their new releases and hoping for reviews and of course sales. With so many books being released every day, getting noticed is a huge and sometimes seemingly insurmountable problem.

Since I released my first multi award winning Middle Grade adventure,  The Secret of the Sacred Scarab in 2009, I have tried many and varied forms of marketing. I have wasted some money, gained some success, and learned lots of lessons in this journey. Just recently I have had great results with ‘teams.’ You may wonder how an author can use a team. Well, doing all your own marketing is impossible, since it takes up so much time that the author finds they are doing more marketing than writing the next book. I tumbled to the idea of teams quite by accident, but patience, persistence, and using teams is paying off. Here are the five team marketing methods that work for me:

1.     Team Twitter: Although Twitter blasts are good and do have an effect, having a consistent Twitter presence thanks to someone who does it for you, and has their followers tweet your news, is really very useful. I use @bookboost, although there are many around, and was surprised to find the price so reasonable and the Twitter reach so far. I also use AskDavid if I have special book news to announce.

2.     Team Authors: A while ago I noticed two authors writing in Middle Grade with similar themes (Egyptian, Arthurian, Ancient World), but oddly enough, we did not overlap and therefore were not competition for each other. Besides, we figured that young readers who love Egyptian or Arthurian themes were going to read all the books they could find, so why not team up and offer lots of books under one roof. Wendy Leighton-Porter, Cheryl Carpinello and I formed The Quest Books, where we have grouped all our similarly themed books for young readers to enjoy. We have a newsletter and offer free downloads, so the site works for all of us.

3.     Team Blog Hosts: Initially I went on loads of book tours, with definitely chequered results. Some tours were wildly successful, catering specifically to the parents of Middle Grade readers, while others were a mix masala and I found my book shoved in between other books, such as thrillers/detectives, fantasy and romances, that I felt did not give me a target market audience. Through trial and error I have now fine tuned my blog tours to very specific hosts who only deal with the children’s/juvenile fiction genre. Getting to a specific market offers better results because you are approaching an audience eager to find out more about your particular books.

4.     Team Facebook: As in joining up with my fellow Quest authors, I also found myself part of a shared Facebook page based on a group of authors who produced an anthology of kids’ stories for fundraising purposes, Book Elves Anthology Volume 1. From the anthology, came the Facebook page and Book Elves has become a great way for the burden of marketing to be shared among other authors, who also post their news. It is just a click a day to share news with page followers and since other authors are doing the same, the marketing results benefit everyone.

5.     Street Team:  I had never heard of a street team in relation to book marketing, but have now engaged with a wonderful team where the news is shared on the various team members’ Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social sites. It is a reasonable fee and my only hard work is to keep the team leader up to date with anything I am doing, such as blog posts, book tours, award wins, anything newsworthy that the team members can share to their friends and followers.

There is no get rich and famous quick scheme, but rather a consistent presence reaps the right kind of results. Teaming up with the right people for the right fee spreads the burden of marketing and gives the author a chance to get back to what they are supposed to be doing … writing their next book!
If you’re looking for more adventures, then please visit The Quest Books, where Middle Grade authors Cheryl Carpinello, Wendy Leighton-Porter and I have teamed up to offer readers an array of exciting quests. Sign up for our monthly newsletter with exciting exclusive material and get a fantastic e-book, Passport to Adventure, FREE!