Saturday, June 18, 2011

SORMAG's ONLINE BOOK FAIR - Meet The Author Panel - Day Three


Click on the comments and leave a comment or question for our panel. Unless noted, the authors will drop in through out the day to answer questions or post comments.

MEET THE AUTHOR PANEL - Ebooks - Advice From The Trenches

Chicki Brown

Chicki Brown is the author of three published novels. She is currently working on her first series, a family saga, yet untitled.

An avid reader, her favorite authors are Beverly Jenkins, Eric Jerome Dickey, Lisa Kleypas, J.R. Ward and Suzanne Brockmann.
A New Jersey native, Brown and her family relocated to suburban Atlanta, Georgia in 1994, and she now proudly calls herself a “Georgia peach.”

Her many homes in cyberspace include, and @Chicki 663 on Twitter.

Chicki Brown started writing seriously in 2001 and admits that she didn't know what she was doing or than simply writing the stories that were in her head. A friend convinced her to submit to publishers, and the rejections started pouring in. Chicki refused to be discouraged, kept writing and over next eight years signed with two different agents yet still didn't sell.

Sick and tired of the near misses, Chicki started following the buzz about the Amazon Kindle. Knowing that the Big 6 houses only paid authors between 6-15% royalties on their books, when she discovered Amazon was paying 70%, the decision was a no-brainer. That meant she could make the same royalty on a $2.99 book that trad authors make on a $20.00 hardcover.

In the past eleven months she has e-published three books to Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. The fourth is scheduled for release on August first. Her first book, Have You Seen Her? hit #843 on the overall Kindle sales ranking. That book also made #57 in the Contemporary Romance category. Her recent release, Hollywood Swinging hit #78 in Amazon Marriage & Relationships category.

Chicki has sold 800 books each month for the last several months.

Angie Daniels

Angie Daniels began her career as a storyteller in 2000. She loves a page turner and strives to write novels pulsating with sex and drama. The award winning author has written over twenty-two novels for imprints such as BET Arabesque, Harlequin/Kimani Romance and Kensington/ Dafina Books. For more information about upcoming releases, and to connect with Angie on facebook, please visit her website at

Shelia M. Goss

Shelia M. Goss is the author of seven ebooks. Love UnExpected has been on the top 10 Amazon Bestsellers list for the past six months. The majority of her ebooks are either short stories or novellas. UnAuthorized is a full length novel and is her first collaboration with mystery writer John A Wooden. Shelia writes in multiple genres and her books are available in paperback or hardcover. She's the Essence Magazine & Black Expressions Book Club Best-Selling author of the upcoming novel, Ruthless (Dec 2011), Delilah, My Invisible Husband, Roses are Thorns, Paige’s Web, Double Platinum, His Invisible Wife, Hollywood Deception, Savannah's Curse, Montana's Way and the teen series The Lip Gloss Chronicles: The Ultimate Test, Splitsville, Paper Thin and Secrets Untold (July 2011). To learn more, visit her website: or follow her on Facebook at

Tremayne Moore

Tremayne Moore, founder of Maynetre Manuscripts, LLC is an accountant, a writer, a psalmist, a griot and a spoken word motivational speaker.

He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management Information Systems from Florida State University .

Tremayne’s life can be summarized with a quote from the Apostle Paul from Philippians: “Christ shall be magnified in my body; whether by life or by death.”

My website is

Kimberly Purpoz

Kimberly Purpoz has been a professional writer and author for over 12 years. Kimberly currently writes under the following pseudonyms: Kimberly Purpoz and Purpoz. She is the author of "Age of Innocence", "Foreshadowers: The Seeker of Legends, and the upcoming motivational book, "Purpose Lies Within: A Motivational Book for the Heart and Soul." Purpoz is a graduate of Georgia State University. She is a motivational speaker and speaks for Great Black Speakers Bureau.

Find out more about Purpoz @:

Beverly Taylor

Beverly Taylor is the author of Christian fiction adult and young adult titles: Desires of the Heart, Every Head Bowed, The Sweetest Day Ever (Series), Foolish Virgin, Sea of Passion (July, 2011), Love on a Budget (August, 2011), and the nonfiction title: Woman, Take Your Position (A woman's Godly position with man, marriage, children, church and community).

Beverly holds a M.A. in Psychology and is working towards a Ph.D. in Counseling.

AlTonya Washington

AlTonya Washington has been a published romance novelist for 8 years. In addition to teaching a community college course entitled Writing the Romance Novel she works as a Senior Library Assistant and resides in North Carolina.

In March 2009, AlTonya- writing as T. Onyx- released her debut erotica title Truth In Sensuality. In August 2009 she released her final installment in her Ramsey series A Lover's Soul. Her latest release with the Harlequin/Kimani label is the February 2011 release "Every Chance I Get."

A Lover's Shame marks a new chapter in the Ramsey saga with the introduction of the Tesano family.

Website address

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LaShaunda said...

I want to thank you ladies and gent for being a part of our panel today. I’m looking forward to learning more about ebooks. I have a few questions to get you started.

Tell us a little about your ebook experience?

What type of marketing do you do for your ebooks?

What advice would you offer to someone interested in publishing an ebook?

Shelia Goss said...

LaShaunda, thanks for having me on today's panel. I will answer each question below.

Tell us a little about your ebook experience?
Last year, I decided to revive some of my old short stories and release them as ebooks. I did research before deciding on a price. JA Konrath's blog is a wealth of information for anyone thinking about doing ebooks. I learned price structure, what sites to put the ebooks on, etc, just from following his blog. Even though I did my research, I was still pleasantly surprised at how well the ebooks were selling. The profit is 100 percent mine so that's a plus. My overhead is very low. I format the manuscripts myself. I do my own book covers. I may have to pay a few bucks for stock images, but after a week of the book being up, that recoups that money.

What type of marketing do you do for your ebooks?
I mention my ebooks on my blog and on Facebook & Twitter; but otherwise, I don't market them like my other books. I probably should and going forward I may do so. It may generate more sales if I do. I sell more ebooks on Amazon than any of the other retailer sites. I've been trying to figure out why, but won't question it since it's been working in my favor:)

What advice would you offer to someone interested in publishing an ebook?
#1 - Do your research. As I mentioned above, JA Konrath's blog is a great place to start.
Make sure your document is formatted correctly so it'll be easy for readers to view on any ereader.

Tremayne Moore said...

LaShaunda: thanks for having me on today's panel, and I want to say good morning to my sisters/fellow authors.

I was at first apprehensive because I was trying to acquire more sales with the paperback. That changed as I was nearing the purchase of a Kindle. And noticing the sales of ebook were doing better than the paperback, it was time for me to get on board. I would echo Shelia's response in that the overhead is relatively low and can be made available for sale within 24-48 hours after the book is completed.

Most of my marketing for my ebooks are done via e-mail, my website and the ever popular Facebook.

The advice I'd offer would be to ensure your book is worthy of reading because anyone can publish an ebook due to the convenience of making it available to the world. Again, I would echo Sheila and ensure the formatting is correct. I had to fix the format so the sections don't run together.

Beverly Taylor said...

Good morning, LaShaunda ~
Thank you for the invitation to join this prestigious circle of authors.

*Tell us a little about your eBook experience?

I've written several short stories in various genres (appx 25,000 words). I submitted a few of them to publishing houses. Finally, I received a letter from a house requesting that I submit one of my stories in full length (80,000 words). I was so excited and immediately began working on the title. It took me a complete year to finish and when I was ready to submit it, the publishing house folded. Talk about disappointment! So I picked myself up, brushed myself off, and started all over again. I marketed my new full length novel to a number of editors and publishing houses and received numerous rejections. Finally, I decided to step out and self-publish it. Since that novel did pretty well in paperback form, I recently decided to rename it and publish it in eBook format.

*What type of marketing do you do for your eBooks?

I did some google research and learned that the process to post an eBook on Amazon, B&N,and Smashwords was a relatively simple one. However, I concur with Shelia. You have to make sure that the format will conform with various eReaders. That was a tedious process. Grant it, there are businesses that will do these things for you, including designing your book cover. Like Shelia, I did these things myself. I was trying to find ways to save $$$. It's time consuming, but you'll save yourself lots of money by doing it yourself.

Like Tremayne, I do most of my marketing through email, my website and purchasing cost effective ad space in great publications like SORMAG.

*What advice would you offer to someone interested in publishing an eBook?

I would suggest checking out Yolanda M. Bryant-Johnson/Literary Wonders!/Bryant Consulting. She offers great articles and advice on eBook publishing, marketing and publicizing your work.

Now that I'm back in school, I haven't much time to do extensive marketing, but if you and I desire to achieve book sales on the level of Shelia Goss, we'll need to make time to market.

I absolutely love eReading! It's so convenient. It's the best thing since the microwave--or shall I say, cell phone. I don't purchase anymore paper books (other than for my studies). I gave away and donated most of my books (only kept the personally signed books). Now I have all this extra space that replaced my book shelves. Yahoo!

Chicki Brown said...

Sorry for coming in late. Had an appointment this morning. First I want to thank LaShaunda for inviting me and for her tireless efforts on behalf of authors. You're a blessing, girl!

1. Here's my experience with e-publishing so far. Nine years ago, when I started writing, my only goal was to get an agent and sign with a major publisher. During the first few years of my writing career, I had conversations with writers that had or were considering self-publishing their books. The idea of dealing with the front-end details of publishing my own book turned me off to say the least. I knew that self-published books couldn’t get shelf space in the major book chains. Many reviewers wouldn’t review them, and I’d heard stories about authors ending up stuck with boxes of unsold books stacked in their garage. No way did I want any part of that.
Fast forward to 2007. Rumblings had begun about’s newest electronic gadget – the Kindle e-reader. At that time no one, except perhaps for Jeff Bezos himself, imagined this little gadget would be the game changer in an industry already plagued by antiquated policies and procedures, ridiculously long wait times between contract and release, decreasing sales, and increasing competition from DVDs, smartphones, video games and all things electronic.
As an author trying to break into the business, I kept my ear to the ground, fascinated by what I was hearing about the possibility of getting my books into the hands of readers. I submitted to editors and agents for several years and even signed with two well-known agents but got no offers. The whole process had begun to wear me down.

In July 2010, I took the plunge and joined the ranks of electronic authors and published my debut novel directly to Kindle. My second novel released in November 2010 on Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader. Hollywood Swinging, my third release, hit the cyber shelves on May 1, 2011.

So far my venture into e-publishing has been fantastic, and all of my books have made it to different Kindle bestsellers lists! For the past few months I've sold over 800 book each month!

2. None of this would've been possible without marketing and promotion. My main focus is to reach readers through features on the major e-book sites like eReader News Today, Pixel of Ink, Frugal e-Reader and groups like

The recent rise in independent author groups such as Independent Author Network, Worldwide Indie Authors and International Indie Authors have provided other places to promote to readers of indie books.

Other than that, I concentrate on Facebook and Twitter.

3. This is an exciting time for authors, but e-pubbing isn’t for the faint of heart. This isn’t a deal where you simply take your Word manuscript from your hard drive and toss it into cyberspace. The preparation is very much the same as getting a paper book ready for release. Editing is a necessity. The quality of the cover is a determining factor in the success of the book.

Formatting of the manuscript for each of the different e-book sites can test the patience of a saint. Promotion and marketing is a never-ending chore.

But for those writers with the fortitude to learn the language and requirements of this new market, the doors are wide open.

Angie Daniels said...

Tell us about your ebook experience?
I was one of those authors who believed that only people who couldn’t get published the traditional way self-published, but now I’m eating crow. E-book publishing has been the most liberating experience of my publishing career. I have published numerous books from large publishing houses like Harlequin and even Kensington but I never felt the level of fulfillment that I have self-publishing. I have the final say on everything from the cover to the pricing of the book and can make as many changes as I want when I want. I love that feeling. No deadlines. No pressure. So far it has been an amazing ride!

What type of marketing do you do for your ebooks?
I am fortunately to already have a following so most of my marketing is through social media, facebook, my monthly newsletter and website. I also run Kindle ads with Sormag, of course. But my biggest marketing tool has been word of mouth.

What advice would you offer to someone interested in publishing an ebook?
Just do it. Everyone can finally fulfill their dream of being a published author. But like any new author will tell you, you need to be prepared to market your work especially now with the rising ebook craze. There are thousands of books being uploaded each day. Also, spend money on a professional cover because that tells readers that your work is going to be of professional quality as well.

Kimberly Purpoz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimberly Purpoz said...

I apologize for being late. I want to thank you LaShunda for inviting me on this panel discussion. Here are the answers to your questions.

Tell us a little about your eBook experience?

My e-book experience has been totally awesome. I am selling about ten times more e-books than paperback. Every week I’m getting continuous sales. E- books makes it a lot easier for independent authors to get their books out to the general public and it has definitely leveled the playing field for self-published authors. For the too long publishing houses has ruled over the book industry and has made it nearly impossible for new and beginning authors to get their creative works out to the masses.

I took some of my books that I have written over the years and broken them down to shorter reads. Like for instance, my novel the "Age of Innocence" is the first book to "The Nia Trilogy", I could have released the Nia Trilogy into one long thick novel like "Gone with the Wind" instead I decided to release in into three parts at a lower cost for the customers. I also did the same thing for my urban fantasy book series, "Foreshadowers".

Most of my e-book sales come from Kindle and Smashwords. I love because it puts your e-books in multiple formats for readers to downloads and plus you can create coupons to send out to your loyal customers.

What type of marketing do you do for your eBooks?
I advertise with Shades of Romance Magazine, of course.:-) And I have gotten great results. Just like my fellow authors, I also promote through social Network Media like FaceBook,, and Linkin. Book Trailers is also a very cool tool to use as well. I also use Good Reads as a marketing tool also. Angie is right the word of mouth is a very powerful tool.

What advice would you offer to someone interested in publishing an eBook?

Make sure your book cover is professionally done and to make sure you have your book edited. Those two things are very important because it can affect your reviews. First impressions means everything.:-)

AlTonya said...

Hi Everyone!

I posted a comment but believe I posted in the wrong place. Apologies!! I've been on the road since 6am- we traveled to Orlando today. At any rate, please forgive the lateness.

My ebook experience wasn't something I actually planned. I was actually more interested in publishing titles (print books) that were more MY voice- I was looking for more freedom in my publishing efforts. The readers responded wonderfully and then began to inquire about my putting the self published print titles into electronic format. That set things in motion...

As far as marketing the work- I rely greatly on my Yahoo webgroup LoveAlTonya- the readers are sooo supportive and really get the word out about what I'm doing. Also, the social networks Facebook, Goodreads, Shelfari are wonderful tools as well. Of course you can't make money if you don't spend money so sites such as Sormag are incredible places to put those advertising dollars and reach an audience you otherwise would not encounter as easily.

My advice is to go for it because that's the only way you learn. I went into this with no input from anyone else I was sort of flying blind and even after the experience I've gained so far, I'm still learning.

AlTonya said...

Hi LaShaunda,

Just wanted to send another post to tell you how much we authors appreciate all that you do to keep us connected with our readers. Your efforts are very appreciated.


Shelia E. Lipsey said...

I wanted to stop by this afternoon to congratulate all of the great authors on the panel today. LaShaunda, I commend you again for an outstanding online book fair too. I know your mother would be proud of you. I hope each and every author represented here today continues to flourish in their literary career. Keep writing and keep the fire of passion blazing. May God bless each of you.

Beverly Taylor said...

Chicki, thank you friendgirl for the marketing info on the eBook sites. I live in south Atlanta and we have some terrific authors! We need to network and organize some type of Atlanta eBook authors' group. You did your homework when you discovered that traditional publishing houses were only paying 6-15% royalty payments. As you and Shelia point out, authors can keep 70-100% of the profits. But for great writers like Angie, traditional publishing was wonderful because it created a following for her. Now she can take that following, thank her publishing houses, and keep the bulk of her profits, cutting out the middleman.

Angie, I'm sure the "crow" is digested by now and no doubt you're feeling liberated and in control. You go girl! I'm rootin' for ya.

It's wonderful to hear from other eBook authors and their journey into the electronic publishing industry.

It can only get better so hang in there. Hats off to you all!

Kimberly Purpoz said...

I enjoyed reading everyone's posts and comments. Chicki you gave some wonderful advice on e-books I could not have said any better. I did not know Chicki and Beverly are in Atlanta. I am also an Atlanta author too. I live in Decatur. What a small world!:-) Beverly, I love your idea of having an Atlanta Author E-book group.

Kimberly Purpoz said...

Shelia,that is a wonderful suggestion to read JA Konrath's blog on e-book publishing. He is how I got started. Definately a great source for writers who want to get started.

Shelia Goss said...

Tremayne, I think the ebook sales has also helped my paperback sales.

Beverly, thanks. I will be checking out the articles by Yolanda.

Chicki, thanks for the reminder about the boards. That's a great way to get the word out about our ebooks.

Angie, ebook publishing has been liberating to me as well. I will continue to mix both ebooks and the traditional route--well unless someone gives me a million dollar deal like Amanda Hockings. LOL

Purpoz, the verdict is still out for me on Smashwords. I use it, but my sales aren't what I want them to be. I think I will need to tweek my descriptions. Any suggestions? :)

AlTonya, I need to vamp up my marketing.

Thanks Shelia Lipsey.

Tremayne Moore said...

I also want to congratulate the authors on the panel and I enjoyed learning from you.

Sheila G: I'm with you. I need to up my marketing - my eBook sales are a little slower than paperback. Might need a little more guidance. I will definitely check out JA Konrath's blog. My editor is pushing me to set up a Twitter account, and I'll admit that I'm procrasting (due to my 9-5 job & CPA exam studies).

Bev: Because of my job and studies, I haven't been able to market the way I want to, so I know exactly how you feel. Ever since I bought my Kindle, I pretty much buy eBooks unless I know the author.

Chiki: You provided some great sites to consider. I agree, ePublishing isn't for the faint of heart.

Angie: I'm sure the crow was only short-term (smile). I agree, the cover is everything. I remember at a writer's conference, a sister friend said that the cover (front & back) determines whether people will want to look inside the book.

Purpoz: I need to look into I also agree about the cover & editor. For my last two books, I took on a proofreader along with an editor.

Sheila Lipsey: Thanks a bunch.

I'm down with an E-book group.

I pray much success for all of you. Much love!

Kimberly Purpoz said...

Hi Shelia,

I have been getting some good sales on Smashwords. And I also get more money from Smashwords than Amazon. Amazon takes a larger percentage of the sale.

Have you tried the coupons? That has worked well for me. Some of the readers order from Smashwords get get their coupon discounts.

The only problem that I have is that when you get more sales on Smashwords it cuts into your Kindle sales because most readers buy from one or the other. It makes it looks like your books are not selling as well on Kindle when actuality your books are selling on Smashwords.

Chicki Brown said...


Hopefully we'll be able to hook up an one of the ATL's many literary events this summer or fall.

To the other panelists, I'm more than willing to share my list of promo sites. With each book I discover more place on which to promote and which ones are basically useless.

If anyone wants a copy, e-mail me at and I'll shoot it over to you.

Have a great night everyone.

bettye griffin said...

My completely unsolicited advice to you is to keep doing what you're doing and don't waste energy being concerned about how things "look." As long as you know your books are selling well in a particular venue, nothing else should matter. My observation is that people in general and writers in particular are too concerned with appearances.

Someone once told me that they were advised to periodically purchase their own books on Amazon so they will have a low ranking, which struck me personally as being absurd.

Keep up your good work, always do what works best for you, and take those profits!

AlTonya said...

Hi Sheila,

Trust me, it isn't easy. Sometimes I wonder if the writing isn't the easy part and the real work begins when you start to market it. One thing I do love about ebook publishing- especially the Kindle product is that they allow for you to adjust the price i.e. having a sale- always a great marketing tool. As technology advances the various ways to market also advance and oftentimes you can find ways to market that won't break your bank :-)

Tremayne Moore said...


I would even add that the B&N Nook will allow you to change the price also. It does seem that the real work is marketing. But it's necessary in order to reap the harvest.

LaShaunda said...

This has been a rough week for me, but SORMAG has kept me sane. I wasn't able to participate like I wanted, but I must say, you all did an excellent job in my absence.

I want to thank everyone on the panel today. You shared so much about the ebook business. I hope it will help others who are on the fence about it.

Thank you for your time and advice.

Angie Daniels said...

I enjoyed reading all the comments. If I can be of service to anyone please don't hesitate to contact me. Thanks LaShaunda for having me.

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