Twilight, Arizona supernatural short stories

Lessons learned in the 2018 #AtoZChallenge

This year, I participated in the #AtoZChallenge for the second time. Last year, I jumped on the bandwagon days before it started and scrambled to post all twenty-six articles. In 2018 I approached #AtoZ as a project. Here are some lessons learned:

1. Lesson learned: Have a plan

Lessons learned in 2018 AtoZChallenge.

In 2017, in a panic, I wrote about what I knew—writing and book marketing. This time, I took an idea, the unexpected, unexplained antics of a bunch of retirees, and fleshed them into twenty-six stories. Characters crossed over into each other’s stories or reappeared from earlier stories. I strove to attain stories that could be read separately or as a collection.

2. Lesson learned: Start early

Part of my plan included a timeline. Lessons learned in 2017 taught me to allow plenty of time to write the stories. Starting in January, I wrote five stories every two weeks and shot them to my alpha reader for feedback. The last two weekends in March, I edited the stories, formatted them, added images, checked SEO, introductory matter, and ending matter, including links to previous posts. By April 2nd, the date of the first post, the posts were scheduled and ready to go live on their prospective dates.

3.Lesson learned:  Read, comment, share

Part of the fun (and challenge) of #AtoZ is to read as many other posts as possible by other participants. For the most part, I stuck with the #BlogchatterA2Z list. I didn’t visit every blog by every member (more than 60 listed per day) but I tried to spread out my reading time.

Comment. Commenting on each blog I visited validates the blogger’s time and effort. Be kind. Leave a comment.

How to use Facebook Groups to connect with customers

Sharing. Sharing other’s posts on social media is an objective and a perk to participating in the challenge. You might only have X followers, but someone sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and other venues might have XX followers. My Twitter followers increased by 50 in April.

4.Lesson learned:  Respond to comments on your blog

It’s common courtesy to thank your visitors for their comments. Even if they don’t check the box to see any further comments, others will see your answers and know you’re paying attention. Be human. Be nice. Thank your visitors. Make the answers personal.

5. Lesson learned: Promote your blogs

Remember the images I created in Step 1? I threw them into a file along with the one sentence teaser introducing each story. Every morning, I posted both onto my social media as well as page dedicated to the day’s posts. I also used scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to ensure the posts showed up later in the day.

I learned how to make an Adobe Spark video and posted it several times. Pretty proud of myself!

6. Lesson learned: Take advantage of the opportunity

At the conclusion of the challenge, #Blogchatter offers anyone a chance to turn their blogs into an ebook. (It doesn’t have to be the #AtoZ blogs, either. It can be any ebook). In exchange, #Blogchatter will answer questions, offer mentors, and guide writers through the process. They will host a free download of the book on their site for two months (the book cannot be offered through any other distributor) and they will promote it for you.

I took advantage of their offer in 2017. This year, because I did so much work upfront, I collected and published the collection on Amazon for 99¢

Twilight, Arizona supernatural short stories

See the bold phrase up above? Offer mentors? #Blogchatter asked if I would like to mentor this year’s ebook authors, guiding them through the process of publishing their works. Of course, I said yes!

On April 15th, I took part in #AMACarnival, a live Twitter chat, and answered questions from new writers.

On April 27th, I took part in a live Facebook chat.

I don’t know what the next few weeks will bring, but I’m excited about sharing what I know about writing and publishing with others. If only someone had been around back in 19XX when I started!

7. Lesson learned: Look to the future

Don’t be like millions of Americans who are surprised when Christmas rolls around each year and they don’t have any money saved. Look to the future. Toss around some ideas about what to write about in #AtoZChallenge2019.

I had a great time, read a bunch of amazing posts, and plan on being part of #AtoZChallenge2019. Thank you #BlogchatterA2Z and all your writers!

Blessings until my next post,


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An Amazon Author Page is a marketing tool for your books.

It’s #ThrowbackThursday—Write an Amazon Author Page

An Amazon Author Page is an efficient tool to promote your books.

An Amazon Author Page is an efficient tool to promote your books.

It’s ThrowbackThursday, and we’re reviving a blog from April 2017 on the importance of establishing an Amazon Author page.

One of the most effective tools you can use to market your book(s) and promote yourself is by creating an Amazon Author Page. It’s a FREE and easy way to communicate with your readers. Not only can you list your book(s), but any upcoming events (booksignings, readings), images and videos, and book trailers. Plus, it will automatically import your blog. Win-win!


How to create your author page:

Once your book is published (or if it is in pre-order status), go to Sign up using your existing Amazon account information. Add the following:

  • Professional author photo and biography
    • Use a picture of you, not your dog or a sunset from your last vacation. Your readers want a connection, and a photo of a person brings them one step deeper into your world.
    • Your bio should be centered around your professional accomplishments, not how you’ve been writing since third grade and how your family and friends love your writing. Remember, you’re showing your qualifications to your audience.
  • Your books
    • You can use Amazon’s ASIN number (similar to an ISBN) to add your book information.
  • Your blog
    • What a nice feature! Within 24 hours of posting your blog, Amazon’s bots will go out and fetch your post and display it on your author page.
  • Events
    • Do you have an upcoming booksigning? An author reading? This is the place to share.
  • Photos and videos
    • Not only can you share your author photo, but any images you’ve created for your story. Are you using a celebrity as an avatar for one of your characters? Post it here. Have you created a book trailer? Share it with your readers.

Other benefits of an Amazon Author Page:

Besides listing the above information, your Amazon Author Page works for you as well. Amazon is unparalleled in keeping track of information, which is to your advantage. They will list other authors your customers bought from (this is handy when you start to target your ideal reader). Sales rank and customer reviews are listed, so you can rejoice that your book is moving up in their ranking, and know when someone has reviewed your book.

Amazon will also issue you a URL for your author page, which you can use in promotion and social media. Here’s mine:

Look professional. Be smart. Create an Amazon Author Page. Let Amazon take over part of your marketing.









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