Volume 1 Number 1 - March 2017.
Greetings, Current Writing, Book Review, Book Blurbs, and Book Excerpt
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Greetings Fellow Readers and Writers!

Welcome to the first issue of Donald Firesmith's Speculative Fiction Newsletter, in which every month I will include articles, book reviews, book excerpts, guest blog posts, news, contests, giveaways, and unique content for the readers and writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels, novellas, and short stories.


Current Work

Currently, I am also writing a book titled Free and Low Cost Marketing for Indie Authors, the draft manuscript of which is about 50% done. I plan to have the book completed and published by the end of the summer. In order to gain early feedback, I am also incrementally publishing this book on my author website.

I am also working on my manuscript for Hell Holes 3: To Hell And Back, the third book in my Hell Holes series of modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction novels. I plan to have it completed and published by the end of the year.

Blog Tour

Enchanted Book Promotions is organizing a two-week long blog tour for me that will include author interviews, author spotlights, book spotlights, book reviews, character interviews, and more. Check out the following link to see the current schedule of book blogs hosting stops and to sign up if you would like to host one of the events.

Free Fantasy Books

Fan Art Contest

This month's contest is for the best fan art related to Hell Holes: What Lurks Below or Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton. It can be any kind of drawing of a scene, character(s), or demon(s) from the books. It can be anything from a simple pencil sketch to a full-color painting. First prize will be an autographed copies of the two books, inclusion in your art in the Fan Art webpage of my official website, and potentially even inclusion in future editions of the books as an illustration. If you lack artistic talent but know someone who does, please forward this newsletter to them. The winner will be announced in the May 1st edition of the newsletter.  Good luck "And may the odds be ever in your favor.”

Book Review
Zombie Turkeys by Andy Zack

A Fun Little Zombie Parody (4 Stars)
Zombie Turkeys: How an Unknown Blogger Fought Unkillable Turkeys (Life After Life) (Volume 1)
 is definitely not your typical zombie book. Instead, it is parody of the standard zombie book, and as such may even be destined for cult status. The book doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should you. Its relatively choppy and repetitive writing style would not work well with a serious horror novel, but somehow fits when used in this humorous take on the zombie apocalypse. In general, I enjoyed reading this book, but I was left feeling that it could have been funnier and that the plot dragged in a couple areas in the last third of the book. Although the twist at the end was relatively obvious, it nevertheless seemed suited to the book, like watching a train barreling towards a car stuck on the tracks and when the crash finally came, it left a satisfied smile. So if you want a change of pace from your usual brain-eating zombie feast and a little light reading, you just might want to gobble up this little book.
Buy Link
My Two Most Recent Books

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below is now free from Amazon, InstaFreebie, and Smashwords. Post an honest review on Amazon and earn a coupon code for a free download of Hell Holes 2: Demons on the Dalton. Post an honest Amazon review of book 2 and earn a free early download of Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back when it becomes available.
Hell Holes 1: What Lurks Below
Hell Holes 2: Demons on the Dalton
Check out my author website at
Excerpt - Free and Low-Cost Marketing for Indie Authors

The following is a first draft of one of the chapters in my new book on marketing for indie authors on a budget. Currently, the book covers over 50 different marketing tasks and techniques.

Book Launch Parties

What Is It?
A book launch party (a.k.a., launch party, release party) is a party that is thrown by an author (or book publicist) to celebrate the publication of the book. The three main types of launch parties are:
  • Physical launch parties, which occur at a physical venue such as a local book store or public library
  • Online (virtual) launch parties, which take place online, primarily hosted on your author website (and not your personal website). They may also be cohosted on your social media author webpages (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) as well as the websites of book bloggers.
  • Hybrid launch parties, which simultaneously take place online and at a physical venue
Whereas major publishing houses will organize launch parties for their successful authors, it is up to the indie author to throw his or her own launch parties.

What Is It Used For?
A book launch party typically has two purposes: to celebrate the completion and publication of a new book and to promote the book by announcing its publication to potential buyers and other interested parties.

Cost/Benefit Table
The cost of a launch party can vary greatly. Major publishers can host lavish launch parties at expensive venues for famous authors. As an indie author, setting a reasonable budget and staying within that budget is important. Luckily, there is no need to spend lots of money, and one can gather a launch team to help with the time and effort involved. If well-advertised and attended, book sales from a successful launch should more than cover its cost.
The benefits of a successful launch party can be significant, but also will vary largely depending on how much effort is invested in making the party a success.

What Should It Contain?
Your launch party should have:
  • A budget and schedule
  • A venue
  • Advertising
  • Books and promotional materials
  • Book readings
  • Book signings
  • Set goals. Set ambitious but realistic, measurable objectives for your launch party such as its target attendance, book sales, newsletter subscriptions, and online webpage views.
  • Set budget. Set a budget for the launch party that you can afford. It will help you prioritize the potential activities that comprise the party.
  • Order books. If you are having a physical launch party at which you will be selling or giving away copies of your new book, be sure to order enough copies sufficiently in advance of the party so that they will be sure to arrive in time.
  • Obtain help. Form a book launch team to help you organize and run the book launch.
  • Choose the venue. Select a venue for the launch party based on your goals for the party. The author’s home or a local book club meeting may be appropriate for a primarily informal celebration. A local bookstore or library is appropriate for a launch party that is primarily a marketing/sales event. Approach the venue with a press release and a pitch explaining why the event is not just good for you, but also for the venue. Consider a venue that is relevant to the genre or subject of your book. Some authors organize online launch parties, either via their website and social media accounts such as Facebook or via a release day book blast.
  • Schedule the party. Select the date of the launch party based on the availability of the venue and books. Make it on a weekend afternoon or early evening. Develop a schedule such as roughly one to two hours for introductions, book reading, Q&A, giveaway, book signing, and conclusion).
  • Select needed materials. Select and acquire the materials you will need for the party. This could include a table and chair, copies of your books for sale, pens for autographing your books, sign-up sheet for your newsletter, author business cards, decorations including book posters, tickets for book giveaways, and any promotional items such as bookmarks. If you are having an online launch party, prepare your posts and tweets ahead of time so that they can posted over the course of the party.
  • Announce the party. Advertise the upcoming launch party including book title, author, date, venue, and events. Advertise on your social media (e.g., with a Facebook event), your author website, and email newsletter. Create launch party flyers or posters, and hang them up in local libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, colleges and universities, and community centers.
  • Court local media. Work to make your launch party a newsworthy event. Distribute launch-specific press releases or press kits to the members of the local media (e.g., newspapers, TV stations, and radio including NPR, community, and college radio stations) at least 2 months in advance. Keep track of who you have notified and follow up with them after a couple of weeks.
  • Invite people. Personally invite members of your family, your friends and acquaintances, your co-workers, members of your local writing group, and local book clubs. This priming of the pump will lead to further increases in crowd size and excitement. Invite other authors and book bloggers in your genre to your online launch party. Ask those who accept your invitation to promote your launch party on their social media channels.
  • Arrive early. Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to start time. Reintroduce yourself to the host and set up your table and any decorations. If appropriate, bring refreshments for the attendees.
  • Socialize. Be friendly and spend a little time talking with each attendee. Let them ask questions about you, your books, and your writing, and answer their questions honestly. Thank them for coming. If they bring copies of your book, then autograph them. Personalize your autograph by asking them who they want it made out to.
  • Book reading. Read an excerpt or chapter of your book. If you are not comfortable with public speaking, have someone from your book launch team read it for you.
  • Make buying easy. Accept all payment methods including cash, checks, and credit cards. Make it clear that your books are also available online. For example, I use a simple (and free) Square card reader with my iPhone.
  • Offer incentives. Consider offering a discounted book price. Hold a giveaway of one or more autographed copies of your book or free downloads of previous books. Give out promotional items.
  • Take pictures. Have a member of your launch team take pictures at the party and post them to social media in real time. Make sure that you get photos with any “notable” attendees for promotional purposes.
  • Collect addresses. Have a signup sheet to collect names and email addresses for your newsletter. Make it voluntary and provide an incentive (e.g., a free download of your book) for signing up.
  • Create a fun environment. Remember that your launch party is more than a marketing event. It is a celebration of all of the hard work you have invested into writing and publishing your book. Enjoy it, and make it fun for everyone who attends.
  • Acknowledge. Thank the attendees for coming. Acknowledge the hard work of your book team including your book’s cover designer, copy editor, story editor, and illustrator (if any). Also thank your launch team for their help before and during the launch. Last but not least, thank your readers, especially those who have posted reviews of your book.
  • Throw an after party. After the official launch party ends, throw a small informal after party at a local restaurant as a way of saying “thank you” to your launch team.
  • Tax write-off. Keep track of your launch party expenses, keep your receipts, and write the costs off on your taxes as a business expense.
Coming Next Month
Next month, there will be a new contest, and I will be providing book reviews of the first two books in the Cyberpunk Tales series by A.L. Hunt and J.B. Forrest. I will also be providing information about the upcoming Brain to Books Cyber Convention in which I will be participating as both a volunteer and author. Check it out!
Copyright © 2017 Donald Firesmith, All rights reserved.

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