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Hero's Sword - a middle-grade fantasy series

Hero's Sword is my fantasy series, targeted toward middle-grade readers (ages 8-12). It is published through a very small press, Delabarre Publishing, which means I am almost completely on my own for marketing and promotion. I've tried a few things, and received generally positive reviews, but I have no idea if anything has actually worked. Being a complete marketing newbie, I'm hoping I can pick up something.

The image used is from volume 2 of the series, published in April of this year. Book 1, Power Play, was published in November, 2012 and has seen modest sales (that's kind of being generous). The tag line for the series is, "Can a video game teach Jaycee about surviving middle school?" and the Amazon blurb for Power Play is below.

Looking forward to creating a plan and getting feedback.

Action 1: Amazon description:

All Jaycee Hiller wants to do is survive eighth grade. Mostly that means hanging with her friend, Stu, avoiding the cheerleading squad, secretly crushing on Nate Fletcher, and playing her favorite video game, Hero’s Sword.

When she receives a new video game controller, Jaycee finds herself magically transported into the Hero’s Sword video game world. Survival takes on a whole new meaning. No longer battling with a plastic joystick, Jaycee picks up a real sword and bow & arrow and readies herself for battle.

Can she save Lady Starla’s rule in Mallory, keep herself in one piece, and maybe even learn something about surviving middle school?

<<New>>

Kids will love this fast-paced adventure novel and will cheer along with Jaycee's thrilling adventures. What kid hasn't dreamed of actually fighting and battling the villains in their favorite video games? Jaycee finds out if she has what it takes - and what she learns in the fantasy realm of Mallory impacts her mundane, middle school life in unexpected ways.

Ideal reader: Done

Kids between ages 8-12, probably not overly-advanced readers (kids who would be intimidated by "doorstop" books), most likely girls who feel "on the outside" of the social circle at school for some reason; may or may not be into video games; likes action-oriented stories, not dramatic pre-teen/teen angst.

Action #2: Author bio: Done

This is my current Amazon bio and basically what I use all over (with small variations). It's probably a little dry.

A software technical writer by day, Mary has been making her living with words for over a decade. She writes the HERO'S SWORD middle-grade fantasy series as M.E. Sutton. and THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS MYSTERIES police-procedural series as Liz Milliron.

Raised in Buffalo, NY she now resides in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two children.

She is a member of Pennwriters and Sisters in Crime.

For more information about Mary and her fiction, visit marysuttonauthor.com

Now, if I was going to jazz it up, it'd be something like this:

Mary Sutton has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. After ten years as a software technical writer, she decided that making things up was far more satisfying than writing software manuals, and took the jump into fiction.

She writes the HERO'S SWORD middle-grade fantasy series as M.E. Sutton and finds a lot of inspiration in the lives of her own kids. A lifelong mystery fan, she also writes crime fiction, including THE LAUREL HIGHLANDS MYSTERIES, under the pen name Liz Milliron. Her short fiction has been published at Uppagus.com (as Liz Milliron), Mystericale.com (as Liz Milliron), and in LUCKY CHARMS: 12 CRIME TALES (as Liz Milliron).

Like her LAUREL HIGHLANDS characters, Mary lives in Southwestern PA (but, unfortunately, she doesn't have a dog). She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters.

Visit her on the web at http://marysuttonauthor.com and follow her on Twitter (@mary_sutton73).

Action #3: Media kit - target date 10/31 (end of website redesign)

Will include:

Bio

description

head shot

cover

pic of book from iBooks

purchasing info

contact info

Action #4: Ask for reviews

I need to get in touch with the publisher and make sure the books end with something like, "Enjoy this book? Leave a review!" and a link. I think I'm also going to do another request for reviews via my Facebook page.

Because the books are only available as ebooks right now (publisher plans for print copies, but I don't have a timeline on that), I'm also going to look at Library Thing for a giveaway. Done

Action #5: Amazon tweaks

I think I have a couple of pictures I of the book (such as on the Kindle app), I can upload, so I'll do that as well. Done

Action #6: Blogging

I currently post about once a week to my blog (I do accept guest posts and requests for interviews, so that sometimes means more posts per week). I need to be better at promoting, since I usually only share via my own social networks (Twitter, Facebook), and not as often as I should. I will look into Reddit and Digg. Also, I'm redesigning my site using Authorlicious, so I'll also look at installing the WordPress Plugin mentioned (I'm porting all my blog content as part of the redesign). Target Date: 10/31 (end of website redesign)

Action #7: Blog Tours

I've done  couple. Honestly, not too sure of the impact. But a lot of writers I follow on Twitter have positive things to say about Orangeberry, so I will look into doing a tour with them (either in the next month, or for the release of my third book, which I hope will be soon). Target Date: Release of book 3 (TBD)

Action #8: Local

I already write a monthly blog in conjunction with my taekwondo school on Patch. The topic is generally something related to parenting/empowerment for kids, so I think that goes well with the overarching theme of HERO'S SWORD (which is really about finding yourself and being comfortable in your own skin in the face of social pressure). My bio line already mentions the series, and I'm going to see if I can get a separate mention (a local author feature, or something). Also, the publisher is working on POD copies of the books. I am on good terms with the owner of our local indie bookstore. They do sell through Kobo, so yes, the books would be availble for her that way. I do think an in-store event would work better with print books, but I'll talk to her and see what I can do, and if she has any thoughts. Target Date: 10/31

Action #9: Tagline

So, when I started, I had the tagline "Mysteries, romance, youth, and more." But that doesn't really fit now, since I've really stopped writing romance to concentrate on crime fiction (specifically police-procedural mystery) and middle-grade fantasy. So I need a new tagline. So far, all that comes to mind is "Fiction for the young - and young at heart," but I'm a little abivalent about it. I will be asking friends for feedback. I want to avoid anything crime-fiction heavy (a writer I know has "creating stiffs, one character at a time" or something like that,), but I don't want to alienate my MG audience. On the other hand, I have another aspect of my fiction that is definitely not MG. Hm, this is going to be tricky. Target Date: 10/31 (end of website redesign)

Action #10: Evaluate paid ads - Target Date, release of book 3 (TBD)

Look into BookBub and other sources, depending on budget

Action #11: Look for opportunities with local library/schools - Target Date, 10/31

Check with the local library and middle-grade schools for opportunities to connect with readers.

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