Allen J Johnston

Author of The Divine Series

The official website of Allen J Johnston, the author of The Divine Series.

Filtering by Tag: the divine path

June 13, 2015 Book Signing for the Divine Series

I am very excited to announce my third book signing for The Divine Series at the Barnes and Noble in the Lansing Mall beginning at noon. There will be limited copies of each book available at the signing. I recommend checking out Amazon to order a copy to bring along.

I could not be happier with how many of my readers are showing up at my events.  It's fantastic.  You all are amazing people and it makes me happy to see those that appreciate my work and have come to love my characters. I wouldn't be where I am without you, so Thank You!

I also have other very exciting news that I am super pleased to tell my readers about.  For this book signing, I am bringing the characters to life by having those very people on the cover of my book there to sign the books that they are on.  If you are as smitten with Darcienna as Kade is, you will have your chance to meet her and have her sign your book. If you want to meet Kade's most fierce protector, Ven, you will have your chance.   It is rare that an author goes this extra mile, but I want my readers to be as excited about this book signing as I am to be doing it. 

Don't forget that I have sample chapters of each book available on Amazon. I hope to meet you at the signing!

Book Cover for The Divine Forest

Okay, this is for my cherished followers who enjoy my posts and series.  I have a dilemma and I want your input.  Normally, I have close to two hundred covers to choose from and one just jumps out at me.  This time...I am struggling between two that appeal to me very much.  So, I want to ask your input.  Normally I post things in my blog so as to help others.  This time, you get to help me.  Look at the covers and leave your feedback on which one appeals more.  Feel free to discus it.  Why does it appeal?  Thanks and I can't wait to hear what you all have to say.  Cheers.


First, let me answer the question of what is considered a successful book signing.  As soon as you sign one book and put it in someones hands, you have had a successful book signing.  Yes, we all want them lined  up down the block and around the corner, but unfortunately that is rarely the case for 99% of book signings.  You can expect to show up and set up your books with no one even realizing who you are or what you are doing....unless you take a few steps to help make your signing something special.  I can say I have been lucky enough to have people waiting for me, but for the most part, I don't start seeing interest until I am there and ready to go.  So, what will help?  Well, let me give you some tips that I use.  I have a 30X40 poster made up with pictures of my book and some tidbits to entice readers to want to read my story.  If you work with your book store and find that they are willing to post a notice of your book signing a few weeks out, they will probably let you put additional advertising up to help boost the signing.  The next tip is posting on social media.  This can be expensive, but it can be done successfully.  I use Facebook the day before my signing and the day of the signing.  I make certain to target the city I am in or you will just be wasting your money.  When you write your post, write it as if you are someone reporting about this amazing author coming to town.  If you post it as yourself, people will tune it out.  It's human nature for us to ignore self-promoters.  We tend to get more excited when it looks like it is being reported.

Okay, so lets jump to the signing.  You are all set up and ready for people to line up, but there is no one.  This is almost every authors experience unless you have lots of money to throw at advertising.  It's okay.  So what should the 99% of us do?  For me, I have tried many techniques to see what works best.  If you expect to set up your table and sit back all relaxed, waiting, you may be waiting for a long time.  It may work, but what I have really found to be successful is getting out from behind the table and talking to people.  It will blow your mind when you introduce yourself as an author and see people look at you as if seeing you for the first time.  Most people will become interested and will be eager to talk with you and even pick up your book.  DON'T BE PUSHY!!!  You are introducing yourself as an author, and you are just saying hi.  Most of us feel uncomfortable approaching a stranger and trying to find what to say.  Here is how it goes for me.

Awesome Author:  How are you doing today?
Soon-to-be reader:  Blank look or maybe "Good."  Either is okay.  You just want their attention.  If they won't look at you, leave them alone.
Awesome  Author:  I am doing a book signing today and just wanted to say hello.
Soon-to-be reader: "Oh.  Hello."  Most likely, they will be polite and pay attention while you are talking to them.  I have found that 90% will happily engage me in conversation.
Awesome Author:  So what genre do you like to read?
Soon-to-be reader:  "I prefer FANTASY."
(Well, I did walk over to the area of the store that has my genre.)
Awesome Author:  "Oh, I love that too.  In fact, it is what I write.  Feel free to take a look at my book.  I am over there signing books."  I would say 25% will follow me back and half of those will gladly take a signed copy home.

You DO NOT want to be pushy.  People see authors as mini celebrities.  You don't want to be reduced to a pushy salesman.  Say hello to people as they come in the store.  Smile, be polite and relax.  Pretend you are talking to a friend.  I know people get nervous, but once you get in a groove, it's fun.  Try it.

One last tip:  Be strategic about when you do a book signing.  If there is one day of the year where you want to do a book signing, it is the Saturday before Christmas.  The stores are LOADED with last minute shoppers looking for the perfect gift.  What is more unique and special than a personalized book straight from the author?  Otherwise, ask the manager or PR person their opinion.

Please leave a comment and give your opinion so we can all help each other be successful.  Thanks for reading and I would love to hear how your book signing goes.  Cheers.

Allen J Johnston
The Divine Apprentice
The Divine Path
The Divine Unleashed
Next Release Oct 27, 2014

Does social media help book marketing?

This is a tough one.  Social media can help, but it depends.  If you just start throwing your money at Facebook and hope it will get you what you want, you money will flee from you faster than a gazelle from a lion.  I happen to be in a decent position where I can and have tried social media to a great extent, spending lots of money to make sure of my results.  For the most part, it is not worth the money.  The amount of book sales you need to recover your cost for adds on Facebook is tough.  If you have just one book, you definitely are going to have a difficult time recovering your money.  If you have a series, like myself, you can promote the first and see much of it returned as the readers pick up your next books.  Now, where Facebook has made a difference is in my book signings.  Surprised?  This is a very powerful tool for your book signing.  We all dream of showing up to our book signing and seeing people lined up waiting for us.  However, to be honest, it is very rare.  I would even say its around 1%.  Unless you already make millions and have a publicist that gets you all over radio and TV, chances are you will walk up to a table with some of your books already there but no line.  IT'S OKAY.  You are there to meet people and have fun.  Make that your focus.  I will make another post about book signings next week that will help your book signing.

Okay, I am off track a little so lets focus.  Facebook.  What you do is make a post on your author page.  Let me stop for a second and ask a question that should have a positive answer.  You do have an author page on Facebook, right?  Yes?  Okay, good, you are taking being an author serious.  So, you make a post on Facebook about your book signing.  On the bottom, you will see where you can boost the post.  Do this BUT specify where you want this to show up.  If you don't, someone in Australia is going to wonder why they are seeing your post when you are in Detroit.  I suggest specifying a state or maybe even a city.  For roughly $30, you can expect to get 6000 views.  If you are in a small state, someone may enjoy traveling a short distance, but I would consider sticking to a city, if your city is large.  Most book signings are in cities that have a decent population.  If you have a book that is doing well on Amazon and other places, you can expect people to come in and say, "I saw you were having a book signing and wanted to come meet you."  What a great feeling.  It even makes you feel like a celebrity.  So, yes, using social media can be a benefit, as long as you use it wisely.

I hope this has been a help.  Please comment below if you have anything that can aid your fellow authors in making their dreams flourish.

Allen J Johnston
The Divine Apprentice
The Divine Path
The Divine Unleashed
Title To Be Announced and released Oct 27, 2014

How to market your book

Okay, so it is taking me longer and longer to get these darn blogs kept up to date.  I have a good reason; I am working on my forth book in the Divine Series almost every spare minute I have.  I have promised my readers to publish it Oct 27, 2014 and I mean to keep my promise.  Okay, now to focus on this post.

Marketing is easily as important as writing the book if not more so.  Most people search blogs, Google, Bing and everything else under the sun to figure out how to market their book.  You can have the most amazing manuscript, but if you can't get it in peoples hands, its not going to sell.  I cannot tell you how many times I have searched 'How to Market My Book'.  I get sites that give a small tidbit here and there but nothing like what I am going to list.  Well, after six months of intense research and trying different things, I am going to outline what I think are going to be your best options right off the bat.  There will always be more things you can do, but to really turbo charge things quickly, follow my suggestions.  In my opinion, you are going to spend some money or you are going to struggle to get attention.  I have spent $1,200 on advertising, book giveaways, press releases...etc.  I have taken in ten times that much and more.  I won't say exactly how much, but know that it was DEFINITELY worth it.  So, now onto some of what you need to do.

         *Create a business card.  I used VistaPrint.  I love them.  They always have discounts.  Always, always, ALWAYS keep cards on you.  Get an impressive looking case that gives a good impression when you take it out, and keep it on you at all times.  I did my card case shopping on ebay. This link will take you directly to card cases.  I had so much fun with this, I bought eight.  My favorite is a shiny chrome case with "Author Allen J Johnston" engraved on it. When you tell people you are an author, their eyes light up.  When you pull out that fancy looking card case, they will notice.  Then you can tell them that they can take a look at your books as you hand them a card.  Trust me, you WILL feel like a celebrity.  This part alone makes writing books fun!  Use both sides of the card.  Put a picture of your books on the back and your author information on the front.  Have your website and email info on the card.  Do what you can to make your card stand out but don't make it too busy.  I would suggest not pinching pennys here.  Do the card right.  You want people to be impressed when they feel the card along with see it.  By the way, you do have a website or blog, right?

        *Create a web site or blog (Didn't see that coming, did ya?).  A blog (Like the one you are reading) is a great way to get your name out there.  If you are reading this, then it means it is doing its job.  As a self published author (I am assuming here) you can use all the help you can get.  Even if you are published by a big house, you should follow these tips.  It makes a difference.  The more web presence you have, the more your chances are of being taken serious and the more books you will sell.

        *List your book with GoodReads and BookDaily.  These two sites alone have driven so many people to my books, it's amazing.  Let's talk about GoodReads first.  On this site, people can rate your book.  You can also do book giveaways.  I cannot begin to express what a fantastic idea this is. If you have a series, giving away the first book through this site is an absolute MUST!  I believe Amazon owns GoodReads.  Just a little factoid.  Back to my tips.  If you sign up for a book giveaway, your book will receive extra advertising on the site.  I would suggest giving away ten books over a month period.  Put a personal note in the book asking them to write you a review.  When people see a personal, handwritten note from the author, their eyes light up. They may be buying it for a retaliative so be cautious when personalizing it.  I would suggest just signing it and say something short.  I write "Enjoy the book and let me know what your favorite scene is."  Readers find me on facebook and email all the time telling me what they liked.  It makes my ego inflate way too much, but it is fun. You will thank me for this.  Also, the people who run this site are amazing.  If you have any questions, they will respond very quickly.

       *BookDaily:  This site is an advertising site.  If you pay to promote your book, they will feature your book once a month on their site and another popular site.  At this time, it costs me $49 per month.  I believe it is well worth it.  My book sales spike dramatically on the day my book is featured.  I EASILY make my money back and then enough to cover the rest of the year!  Another out there is bookbub.  I must say, I am not that impressed with them.  I would put my time and resources into other avenues.

       *I would also suggest doing a Press Release.  The site I used  is PieceOfCakePR.  I was incredibly impressed with this service.  I wanted to see if they were as good as they claim to be so I sent them a press release I had created myself.  They took what I did and improved it so dramatically that I almost ran out and bought ten of my own books.  These people know how to write a press release.  They also send out that very press release to thousands of sites.  Two weeks later, they send it out again...if you get the higher package.  I think it was $159.  Now, I can't attest to any actual sales based on this, but it is an avenue for advertising.  You need to decide for yourself.  If asked would I do it again, I would say yes.

       *Out of all the companies I used to distribute my books, Amazon won hands down.  I did sell on Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Noble, but Amazon really knows what they are doing.  They are clever and devious at the same time.  They want your book listed with them and them ONLY.  To encourage you to list with just them, they offer higher royalties and a few extra promotional tools.  I have to say, if these other sites want authors to list with them, they better understand capitalism real quick or they are going to dwindle and Amazon is going to continue to grow.  As much as I want my book in all those places, they do not hold a candle to Amazon.  In the end, you must go where the sales are.  Amazon knows how to make those sales happen.  I sell 500 books on Amazon for every 10 I sell somewhere else.  The math here is easy.  Now, I am not saying that you have to chose either Amazon or these other sites.  You can be on all of them, but if you want to use Kindles promotional tools, you must be on just Amazon/Kindle.  Do your research and decide if you want to try their tools. I have decided to try their tools, so for me, it is just Amazon for a short time.  I will know in a little over two weeks if it was worth it.  Send me an email if you would like to know my results.

       *There are a lot of book distributors, but I like Lightningsource/Ingramsparks.  EVERY bookstore knows these people.  This company will take returns so all the bookstores are able to buy from them.  I love the service, but they do have ways of nickle and diming you to death.  Before you submit your book to this company, I would suggest waiting a month.  You do not want to have to make changes to your content or it could cost you extra.  Amazon does not charge for content changes.  It is almost inevitable that you will want to change something.  When you are certain you have the cover and content the way you want it, then submit it to Ingramsparks.  I believe it is $49.  That does seem to be a popular amount, doesn't it?  IMPORTANT:  When you contact bookstores to ask them to carry your book, it will show as POD (Print on Demand).  You MUST tell them that the books are returnable.  For some reason, when bookstores see POD, they assume they cannot return them and won't order them.  Enough about this.

       *If you want to promote your books like the book publishing houses, the secret is thinking like them.  I cannot begin to suggest strongly enough that you contact the major bookstores in your state and ask to talk to their PR person or the store manager.  Tell them you want to send them a book at no cost for their staff to review.  They will put it on their break room table for their employees to read.  If they like it, they will even order it for their store.  It works.  Trust me.  Every Barnes and Noble I have sent my book to has wanted my book in the store and has asked me to do a book signing.  As a matter of fact, I have one tomorrow in Saginaw, Michigan.  At this time, I am selective which stores I put my books in.  Dealing with bookstores can be tricky.  If they decide that they only sold 10 books in three months instead of the 5000 they wanted, they could return your books.  Think about all 600 Barnes and Nobles doing this.  Makes ya think a little, doesn't it.  I would suggest sticking with your home state.  Stores love to work with authors from their home state.  As long as you are on line with Ingramsparks, any store can order your book when a customer comes in and asks for it.

Okay, for now, I have definitely given you enough to think about.  If you have ideas that you believe would be useful for marketing, please respond below.  Although I have definitely hit on some of the most successful, I have by no means covered everything.  These suggestions in this blog for book marketing are the most powerful and successful for someone who wants to jump start their book writing/selling career.

Allen J Johnston
The Divine Apprentice
The Divine Path
The Divine Unleashed