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Short Stories as Promotion: Valerie Allen Provides Case Study for Promoting Creative Writing
Interview by Carolyn Howard Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
I tend to avoid the word “influencer.” It’s overused and not too pretty. But like most words, there is a reason we humans came up with any word that exists, and I finally found one. Valerie Allen embodies the truest meaning of the word, and I couldn’t find a word to introduce her that would do it better. I know her from her work at a producing writers’ conference and book fairs in Florida, and from the short stories she published in anthologies and short story collections, but it seemed she was doing more of that—and promoting them more.
I once published under a now-defunct Amazon program called “shorts” and was disappointed when it went away, so I wondered about her single-story publications more the size of a poetry chapbook she came up that featured her own stories and wanted to know more about them. My journalism streak got the best of me, and I bombarded her with questions. Why had she changed gears? Did she find them effective? I wondered how they were selling. Here is the story of her journey and confirmation that she had indeed followed where the penchant for short fiction took her to come up with something that may not be unique, but is certainly not widely used by authors searching for a way to both indulge their creative needs and do the marketing necessary to develop wide readership.
Here is what she told me:
1.I’ve written 50+ short stories (all under 2000 words).
2. I have five short story anthologies, about 150 pgs. each, as books retailing at $7.99. The ebooks are $2.99. I issue many in large print. Three are in audio. They are:
. ‘Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume One .
. ‘Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume Two.
. ‘Tis Herself: Short Story Collection Volume Three
. A Gift for Mom
. Stories for the Man in Your Life
3. The last two are individual stories just for moms and men. I pulled them from the first three anthologies listed above. (Valerie knows I believe in many aspects of recycling to maximize our effectiveness as authors!)
4. I excerpted stories for a Valentine’s Day promotional launch as well.
5. I indie publish all of my work via KDP as books, large print books, ebooks, and I use ACX. I hate initialism, so I am going to tell you what that is, even if you already know. It is the audiobook production service and rights marketplace owned and controlled by Audible, Inc. and available at www.acx.com.
6. I also publish all my short stories separately as ebooks for only .99 cents each.
7. I like FREE and use it to build readership, fans, and followers, which leads to sales 😊.
8. I post a single short story for FREE for various holidays, especially Christmas.
9. I also have a Big Birthday Book Bash for my July 20th birthday each year when all my books and short stories are FREE for the five days allowed by Amazon’s Select program.
10. I also post a different short story once a month FREE on StoryStar.com, I now have over 1000 readers and have won Story Star of the Week and of the Day several times.
11. I post a short story each Friday as “Your weekend quick short story, read” with the link to buy from Amazon.
12. Amazon lists these short stories as “Single Authors Short Stories” and “15-Minute Literature & Fiction Short Reads.”
13. I do not offer my short stories in anthologies that are published by others, but if one with a following like Chicken Soup worked for a story, I’d do it for the credibility.
14. I’ve built a big following via my short stories and this has led to an increase in sales of all of my work.
15. It has also increased traffic to my authors’ organization, AuthorsForAuthors.com. GoDaddy notified me that we are consistently at a 96% contact rate, which is one of their highest ever.
16. My AuthorsforAuthors partners and I have built a Facebook group for Authors with folks from all over the US and some from other countries
17. I’ve received many offers to speak at various book/author events. I decline due to many obligations I have – but still find it flattering!
18. I’ve connected via networking with many other “influencers.” [LOL. Valerie doesn’t seem to trust that word much either, thus the quotation marks!]
19. I promote my endeavors using Facebook and Twitter; I also have my own contact list of almost 1000 direct emails addresses from people I know personally or have done business with in the book/author community.
20. I often am contacted and asked to do book reviews; if it is something I’m interested in, I accept but they must send a real book; I am also willing to read and review children’s picture books.
Do you have questions for Valerie, too? Bring ’em on. She is perfect for that.
Valerie barely touched on all the contests her short stories have won without spending money for contest submissions!). I’m thinking about approaching her for another interview on that topic. Watch this space.
To learn more, contact Valerie using the information in her very short bio below.
MORE ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE
Valerie Allen is a prolific writer of fiction, but she also writes nonfiction to help writers, books like Write, Publish, Sell! 2 ed. Her other books include Amazing Grace,
Sins of the Father, Suffer The Little Children, and The Prodigal Son. Learn more at https://valerieallenwriter.com/and Amazon.com/author/valerieallen.
Her email is [email protected]. I especially like her online group on Facebook. Search for AuthorforAuthors there.
MORE ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, editor, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books published by Modern History Press include the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter. Her The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and the coveted Irwin award and others on topics for writing as varied as writing book proposals and making the magic of Twitter work for you will soon be published by that same press. Find more in her #HowToDoItFrugally Series at https://howtodoitfrugally.com.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.
Awwww, Valerie, so happy we connected. I love working with you. And so glad that Reader Views gave me such a lovely chance to pass your Short Story Smarts along to my readers and their web-fans (they do so much for writers!)