Thursday, July 10, 2014

A letter from C.J. Ellisson

Hello and I hope your summer is going well! I've been busy cleaning out my house of all con-related items from the last year, preparing for upcoming reader events, and getting my online life in order - starting with Facebook.
It's no secret I love Facebook and spend a lot of time there. I've got a street team of readers organized in a group, readers who want to talk about books in a private book club, and a smaller group of alpha readers who offer feedback on my latest work in progress.

What is a street team? It's a group of people who spread the word about an author's work through various channels, online and in person. I offer exclusive opportunities to street team members and prizes not available anywhere else. For example, I just gave away a $500+ ticket to a reader for an event in Vegas when I could no longer attend.
I'm currently offering spots in the street team, but will cap the number at 150. I may open it up to 25-50 more people in the fall, please look for notice in the newsletter. For those of you who do not use Facebook, I'm sorry. I tried to start a fan forum on my website, but after two months and very little participation, I'm going to close it down to save the funds (I get charged for the service and would rather use the funds elsewhere if the forum is not being used.)

What is an alpha reader? First and foremost, alpha readers offer opinions on the manuscript as I'm writing it. If you can't express your thoughts well in a four to six line book review, then perhaps being an alpha reader is not a good choice for you. 
We've got openings for alpha readers on the next V V Inn book, Blood Legacy. Forty people who have read and reviewed all five V V Inn titles are eligible. You must submit your URL links to publicist@cjellisson.com to be considered. An eligible review consists of more than a line or two like "I loved the book." 
What is a beta reader? A beta reader reads the book after it has been content and line edited, but before it has been copyedited and proofread (meaning you will see mistakes in the text, this is normal), then gives feedback and impressions on what they've read.
If you'd prefer to be a beta reader, and expressed so in the call for betas that went months ago, not to worry, we have your name on a list. You can't be in both groups, sorry. I like fresh eyes on the work after the suggestions from the alphas and edits from my editor have been incorporated.
 I've never had a case where more than one or two alpha or beta readers didn't care for the book and suggested huge changes. Ultimately, if my editor or I don't agree with the suggestions, then I don't incorporate them. Please don't take offense, I spend a considerable amount of time plotting a book - and plot points are often connected over multiple titles. We prefer betas to catch inconsistencies from previous books, confusing lines or statements and, among other things, to let us know if the hook at the end of a chapter is strong enough to make the reader want to keep reading. Even small plot changes often require rewrites, and I prefer to do those at the alpha reading stage, before my editor sees the manuscript.
What is your book club like? We read books and have live discussions (occasionally I may be able to get the author to attend) or post discussion questions direct on the group wall, we post about whatever we're reading and what we thought of it, we allow bloggers to share contest and giveaway links on an assigned day of the week, we have author members who sometimes offer their books for free to members in exchange for a review, and we have a free read thread that members are encouraged to add links in the comments section.
Also, since I read independent of the group, I will announce the book I'm reading and invite anyone else who has read it to join in a discussion with me when I'm done. Click here to request to join. If you're a blogger and would like to have a featured day to post giveaway links, please join and ask us about it.

Existing & Upcoming Sales: The Hunt is still on sale for 99 cents and will be until July 12th. Big thanks to all of you who signed up for the group promotional effort through Thunderclap! It's very hard to judge if it was a success or where the info was shared, as they didn't use the message I wrote for all of the posts.

Online Events: I'm a guest author at Joey W. Hill's release party on Facebook for The Scientific Method held on July 20th. Please stop by and join us anytime for a long day of partying and giveaways!
Appearances: I'll be at Authors After Dark in Charlotte, NC next month from August 6-10th. If you're interested in attending and can afford the hotel room for four nights ($139 per night), I'd be happy to gift you a ticket to attend. The organizer is allowing featured authors to give event tickets to readers after they secure their room at the convention hotel (one free con ticket per room). Please email me direct if interested (cj@cjellisson.com), I can give away up to TEN tickets to interested readers.

We're planning a Girls Night Out event at Authors After Dark. The original Vegas event has been pushed to September 25-27, 2015. Click here if you'd like a list of all the details as they currently stand.

Writing Update: I'm working on Blood Legacy at the moment, book four after Big Game. Depending on how the writing flows, I think it will release this fall. I'll keep you posted on its progress. I should have chapters ready to share with alpha readers by August, hence the revamping of my street team and other Facebook groups.

I'm also plotting out a New Adult Romantic Suspense series. It'll be a three book series initially, with room to grow if it's well received by readers. This one I plan to let my agent shop, so I have no idea when the books will be released if it is picked up by a larger publisher. I'll keep you posted on the details.

Health News: I wrote a post on Facebook yesterday about what's going on, if you're interested please click here.
Contests: Last month's pay-your-own-shipping giveaway to clear out the con bags from my house was well received by readers. We've been getting notice of prize pictures and sharing on social media - thank you!

We had a few prizes go unclaimed, and have picked new winners:
Tracy Bakalar, Deborah Close, Lori Walsh, Luna Airis. Pauli has sent you emails and you have until next month's newsletter to claim your prize or it will be re-awarded to someone else who entered.

The Reader Appreciation Giveaway for reviews left in the past sixty days, aimed at newsletter subscribers who have recently received free books, is still open! If you've got the desire to win one of three $25 gift cards, please enter your URL links in this widget on either my Facebook Page, or here on my website.

Random Winners: Three winners were selected this month for $10 gift cards at Amazon: Marge Collins, Karen Knox, and Paula Potter.

Last month's winners: I apologize for the delay. Pauli is unable to award them through my accounts and I must get in and do it myself, hence the delay. They'll be going out today.

As always, thank you for your support and interest in my work. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

~C.J.

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