Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ten reasons to check out The Art of Lainey for $1.99!!

Order from: *HarperCollins*   *Amazon*   *Barnes & Noble*   *iTunes*   *Kobo Books*
                     *Chapters-Indigo*   **

EEEEEEP! I am so excited that The Art of Lainey is getting an e-book sale in preparation for this month's release of Girl Against the Universe. 

If you enjoyed GATU, I think you will also like LAINEY! Main character Lainey is snarkier than Maguire, but she grows and changes throughout the story--yay, character development! In a lot of ways I think LAINEY displays some of my best writing. It truly is the book of my heart and I took so much care to craft unique settings and fun characters.

Click here if you want to read the beginning. FYI, you have to drag the pages from right to left to keep reading. (I had trouble navigating the Overdrive site the first time I tried.)

Here's the basic story info, in case you're not familiar:

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with, if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?

Here's what some other smart people think of the novel:

“Refreshingly honest, sweet and romantic. The love story is everything readers want—perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, but with an edge.” --Romantic Times Book Reviews

"Stokes does a good job with the sports subplots as well as the familial relationships. Lainey is a driven athlete who focuses on her passion, which is a refreshing change of pace." --School Library Journal

“A mesmerizing journey of discovery, navigating that slippery line between what one wants and what one really needs. Romance, wit, and highly relatable characters join forces to create one addictive story.” --Rachel Harris, New York Times bestselling author

Just for fun, my top ten reasons why you should read The Art of Lainey:

10. It might help you understand The Art of War (or make you want to read it, if you haven't read it yet.) Note: once you read The Art of War, you will start applying it to everything.

 9. The character of Trinity. That is my favorite name out of ALL the names, so you can bet she's made of win. Also, Trinity's cat shoes, which I own :)

 8. Sporty girls! Warning: this book might make you want to kick around a soccer ball or go for a run.

 7. Ms. Creant's House of Torture (and Pancakes.) I think that name speaks for itself.

 6. Book-boy Micah is a punk-rock baker with a tattoos and a mohawk. So basically, imagine if Peeta were actually hot. Heheheh I am so #TeamGale! :D #SorryNotSorry

 5. The strong female friendship between Lainey and Bianca.

 4. Lainey's wonderfully wacky parents who are present throughout and do parental things like talk about birth control and give their daughter a curfew.

 3. Laugh out loud moments. When you mix a preppy jock with a rocker boy and fold in a cast full of coffeeshop misfits, hilarity is bound to ensue. 

 2. Girl power. This is not the story of Lainey picking a boyfriend. This is the story of Lainey picking a Lainey. There might be two boys, but this is not a love triangle book.

 1. Character development. Yes, Lainey is flawed and yes, trying to scheme warlord-style to win back your boyfriend is probably a bad plan. But sometimes you have to do the wrong thing before you can even figure out what the right thing is.

 0. Bonus! Once you're finished reading LAINEY, you'll want to read the 100-page, Micah-flavored,prequel novella called INFINITE REPEAT and the totally free and so adorable you might spontaneously explode into glitter short story/epilogue NEW MUSIC.

Ready to invest that coffee money in hours of giggling and swoons? Score a copy of The Art of Lainey for just $1.99 from these retailers. Sorry. Deal may not be available in all countries.
Wanna spread the word with one of these pre-made tweets? Micah says he'll love you forever if you do ;)

Looking for a story of self-discovery, friendship, romance, and...torture breakfast food? LAINEY is $1.99!

Falling in love has never been so fun (or affordable!) The Art of Lainey is just $1.99 all week.

Got a thing for punk-rock bakers? You will after you read The Art of Lainey :D Get an e-copy for just $1.99!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blog Tour: Paper Hearts: Some Marketing Advice by Beth Revis

When Justin from Justin's Book Blog asked me if I wanted to be part of a blog tour on writing craft books I was like: "No can do. Not in April. I have a gazillion and six deadlines. I don't even have time to read my email this month!"

Then he said it was for Beth Revis. I don't know if you've ever met her, but I have and she's amazing. She's not just a successful bestseller, she's kind, supportive, down-to-earth, and funny as all get out. I'd been meaning to read her craft books for forever because she's also really smart and I knew I could learn from her. So since I already had Paper Hearts on my TBR and I have five books releasing over the next two years that I'll need to market and promote, I decided I couldn't pass up this chance to help a friend and help myself at the same time. I started with Book #3--Paper Hearts: Some Marketing Advice. Read my review of the book on Goodreads.

Today it's time for Tip #3:

Beth: There are hidden costs to every promotion you do. If you’re mailing prizes, the hidden cost is shipping—and for international shipping, that adds up. If you’re selling books at a convention, the hidden costs is the travel and other expenses to get to that convention. But beyond the hidden costs, consider the actual, up-front cost of what you’re doing. 

A traditional publisher can expect to make a few bucks per book—so if you’re spending $5 for swag to give away to everyone who buys your book, you’re actually losing money. It’s fun to develop swag and find prizes, but make sure you’re doing it in a cost effective way. I say this with full knowledge that I have always gotten swept up with making swag and gifts for readers, but I also say this with the experience of spending more money than I’ve made on a hard day’s work at a convention. Make a budget and stick to it.

Paula: Now Beth is going to answer a couple of commonly asked marketing questions and just for fun, I'm going to give you my answers too (Spoiler alert: Beth and I think a lot alike!)

1. What can young writers do to start building their platforms now?

Beth: Focus on writing. Focus on craft. Don't worry about platforms*. Unless you are literally a celebrity with hundreds of thousands of followers, no one cares about your platform. Agents and publishers are checking out your social media only to make sure you're not completely crazy and that you know how to professionally** use social media. So yes: use social media--if you want to. Work on creating a professional online presence. But don't sweat it. The book matters--nothing else.

*The one caveat: if you're writing nonfiction, you do need a platform. You have to prove your audience and expertise if and only if you're writing nonfiction.

**By professional, I don't mean pay a bunch of money for sleek designs. I mean don't be racist, sexist, hateful, or otherwise crazy pants. Treat social media as a professional cocktail party--don't say it if you wouldn't say it to your peers or in front of your mom.

Paula: I agree completely when it comes to focusing on the writing. It's really easy to let perceived promotional responsibilities eat up all of your writing time. I spent a lot of yesterday making fun graphics for an upcoming e-book sale instead of working on my deadline book. #BadPaula As a published writer, it is expected I will do a decent amount of promotion, but if you don't already have self-published books available for purchase or a signed contract for a future traditionally published book, you have plenty of time to build up an online following later.

I would also add, consider keeping your personal social media and your professional social media separate. I don't use social media in my private life--I have a Facebook profile that is never updated, but that's it. However, if you're going to make an FB as an author, make a separate page, even if at first it seems like no one is reading it. Make a second Twitter account and get in the habit of putting the writing-related stuff there. What's appropriate for your friends and family to see and read isn't necessarily what you want a bunch of strangers having access to. If you make this decision at the very beginning, you won't run into issues where you're scrambling to delete potentially awkward posts later.

2. Any advice on finding the line on what counts as too much self-promotion?

Beth: Lisa and Laura Roecker once told me that they only talk about themselves (i.e. self-promo) after they've talked about someone else and/or someone else's book. That's the best rule of thumb I keep in the back of my mind as I do self promo--whenever I've talked about myself, I talk about
something else.

The problem is, the people who need this advice tend to ignore it. There's a group of people who feel like they have to use social media 24/7 for self promo. They're basically spam bots. And the only thing you can do is block them and hope that one day they figure out that this isn't how social media works.

On the other hand, there is a smaller subset of authors who are so worried about being perceived as spammy that they never self promo. And if that's you--that's fine. It's not bad to keep your social media promo-free. But it's okay to mention you're a writer and have a book out. And it's okay to
mention the same thing three or so times a day--because the reality of the situation is that the vast majority of social media users only use a few platforms and are only only a few times a day. So if you tweet about your book once in the morning, once at noon, and once at night, you're probably reaching different people every single time. It feels like a lot of self promo, but it's not.

Paula: This question resonates with me so much because I often worry that I'm becoming a spambot. When my first book came out, I refused to even do Rafflecopter contests or give entries in exchange for Twitter follows or GR TBR adds because it felt so slimy. Reality check: An entry for a follow or RT is how a lot of promo activities are structured. It is expected, accepted practice in the industry. You don't have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, but the number one promoter of your book should be the person with the most invested in it, and that's YOU. So if you're not going to do these things, you need to come up with other things to do instead because your publisher will want you to do some online promotion.

I actually have different strategies for different social media. For Instagram, I generally try to keep my self-promo posts to one out of every three posts (so about once a week) or less. I might go up a little for my release month, but then I'll drop lower in the periods between books. I enjoy Instagram and often post pictures of cats, nature, funny things I come across, and other people's books. My Facebook might be a little heavier ratio of self-promotion, but that's probably because I don't like FB as much as the other platforms so creative content is harder to come up with. Also, due to FB's current algorithms, most of my posts are seen by fewer than 10% of the people who have liked my page, so I feel like the chances of people getting spammed via FB are very low. Twitter is my main social media activity and the bulk of my tweets are me talking to other people, sometimes about books but often about TV shows or celebrities or national parks or cats.

Like Beth said, you can tweet the same thing three times a day and probably hit different audiences. One thing I do that keeps me from feeling like a spambot is to use Tweetdeck to schedule almost all of my promo tweets ahead of time. Right now I'm running a Goodreads giveaway for The Art of Lainey and a pre-order incentive for Girl Against the Universe. When those activities went live, I scheduled three tweets the first day (including one in the middle of the night for my international readers for the pre-order.) I scheduled two the next day, one the following day, and then a few more sporadically over the next couple of weeks, mixing up early morning and late night and weekend. The end result of scheduling promo tweets is you can get a good mix of coverage and tweet variation without having to worry about oversaturating your feed.

Like anything else, there are caveats to using scheduling--you might feel like a real heel if everyone else is tweeting about a recent tragedy and you're tweeting "Pre-order my book and get fun stickers!" But again, I think most people on Twitter understand that tweet scheduling is a normal business practice. Another good way to find out if you're overpromoting is to ask your followers. I've asked people if posting on FB every day during release week is too much or if they are seeing too many retweets during RT contests on Twitter. Finally, I would recommend against retweeting or reposting every positive review of your book, and definitely don't tweet the same reviews over and over. The #1 reason I unfollow/mute people is because they spam me with the same positive reviews of their books day after day.

ETA: The #2 reason I mute people is when they use the DM function in a spammy way. Resist the urge to send an auto DM to every follower, even if it's just thanking them for following you. That's unnecessary spam. And if someone follows you on Twitter, they can find your blog/FB/Tumblr/Pinterest/Book-buying links if they want. Sending all this stuff in a DM is irritating to a lot of people (or to me anyway ;D)

Wanna check out the Paper Hearts series from the beginning? Learn more at

Purchase Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice
AmazonKoboBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

I hope you've enjoyed today's content for the Paper Hearts tour :) Follow along with the rest of the tour at the Paper Hearts Tour Headquarters, and/or follow Beth Revis on Twitter! And don't forget to enter the giveaway for signed copies :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Girl Against the Universe Pre-Order Incentive!!

Are you planning to buy Girl Against the Universe? If so, you might want to order early and take advantage of this awesome pre-order incentive :D Everyone who orders a new hardcover or e-book, from any store or website, by May 16th (so yes, if you ordered last week or 6 months ago it counts) is eligible to receive 2 signed bookmarks, a signed bookplate, a magnet, and 2 reader-designed GATU stickers (Thanks, Ri and Silvana!) Also, thanks to Eli Madison for laying out the book cover on the magnet and to Julie Heidbreder for designing my GATU bookmarks!

This incentive is international. In order to get your free goodies, you need to email your mailing address to pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com subject: GATU pre-order, and include a photo, scan, or screenshot of your order confirmation or receipt. Lovely international peeps: It helps me a ton if you type out your address on multiple lines like my super-clueless self should address the envelope. Also, don't forget to include your postal code if that's something you're not used to using. Please allow four to six weeks for arrival.

BONUS: OMG I am so excited about this bonus. One lucky pre-orderer will be chosen at random to receive a deluxe Girl Against the Universe swag bag to include all of the above swag, plus a Girl Against the Universe notebook, a box of Lucky Charms cereal bars, an adorable dolphin plushie (because everyone likes dolphins!), and a mystic knot and neko bead good luck bookmark, all packed in a brilliant, painted tote, created by the queen of brilliant, painted totes, Ms. Becca Fowler!

Bookmark: the red woven knot is similar to Maguire's mystic knot necklace.

If you are not on my mailing list (why are you not on my mailing list?! ;D) this is the ONLY chance you'll have to win this killer prize pack. So if you want the book and you want the goodies, pre-order today from the vendor of your choice!

Wanna try before you buy? Click here to read the beginning of Girl Against the Universe.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Great GATU Graphics Contest!

Last month I was looking for sticker designs to help promote Girl Against the Universe. I got lots of awesome entries, and to be honest, I wish I could have printed them all. Picking a winner and a runner-up was really hard, but I based my judging off overall appearance, sticker message, and how well each design branded/promoted the book. In the end, I selected the design on the left (made by Ri) as the winner and the design on the right (made by Silvana) as the runner-up.

Both stickers will be used in a GATU pre-order campaign later this month. Bonus: Ri's sticker design, with her permission, was selected for use in a major industry campaign, the details of which must remain secret until the book's release. But thousands of her stickers will be printed and distributed. Pretty cool, huh? :)

If you didn't win, don't despair! You can tweak your entry just slightly and have two more chances to score a copy of Girl Against the Universe, because this month I'm just looking for cool fan art or quote/image pairings to share on social media. These images should include the title of the book somewhere and can include quotes from the novel, suggested taglines, your own taglines, etc. They can also be text-free. Here are some examples from last year's contest for Liars, Inc.

By Ri from Hiver et Cafe

By Kim from Divergent Gryffindor

By Eileen from Book Cat Pin (Mixed media)

By Eli from The Silver Words

I am picking two winners for this contest, one based on the artwork I like the best, and one randomly selected from all of the other entries that follow the rules. It's not always just about who has mad design skills. It's also about the fact you took the time to help me promote my book.

Each winner of this contest will get a signed hardcover of Girl Against the Universe if you have a U.S. address or a Book Depository pre-order of the novel + a signed bookplate if you live outside the U.S. If you live in a non TBD country, I will send you an e-book copy. [ETA: Anytime you win a copy of a book from me, if you want one of my other books instead, just ask. I have no problem subbing in a different title as long as it's available.] All winners, regardless of location, will receive swag to include signed bookmarks and a GATU magnet. All submitted designs will be fawned over by me and shared via my social media ;D

Possible text for your graphic:
Your graphic does not need to have text (aside from the book's title), but it can. If you've read the book, you can use anything that stood out to you. You can also use part of one of the quotes that are listed on Goodreads.  You can make up your own tagline or phrase. Or, like last month, consider this huge list of tags I submitted to my editor when I was flailing for a tagline myself.
  • Life is risk.
  • Luck is a game of inches.
  • Worlds are about to collide.
  • Everything is riding on this.
  • It's time for an upset.
  • Don't count out the underdog.
  • The ball is in your court.
  • Sometimes the Universe just takes what it wants.
  • Sometimes you have to fight for everything.
  • There's a fine line between luck and tragedy.
  • You can't win if you don't play.

  • You must share your graphic on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook at least once during the next six weeks. Caption/tag the image similar to: #GirlAgainstTheUniverse by @pstokesbooks releases May 17th from @HarperTeen #GATU @EpicReads
  • Aside from the GATU cover which can be freely used, any photography or imagery must belong to you. Polyvore, Wikipedia, etc. images cannot be used unless they are completely open source without even requiring crediting of the source. When in doubt, don't use it.
  • Designs can be any shape or size and do not need to be high resolution.
  • If you entered the sticker design contest last month, you can use your same design for this contest, provided that you include the book title and share it on social media at least once.
  • You can enter up to three graphics, but each one must be shared on social media.

Final designs need to be emailed to me as a .JPG for easy sharing at pstokesbooks [at] gmail [dot] com by May 15, 2016, subject: GATU graphics contest. In your email, also include a link or enough information so I can find your shared image on social media.

General questions? Put them in the comments.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Giveaway Round-Up!!

Hi :) I don't think I've ever done this before, but I've got several giveaways going on, for different books, in different places, sponsored by different people. It's chaos, I tell ya! :D I decided to gather all the links into one spot for those of you who love to win free books, which is all of you, right? Here you go:

1. Win all of my books! Ends 3/31 (US only)
This one is the mother of all contests, sponsored by Paper Lantern Lit and me, hosted by PLL on their Twitter. In honor of the re-release of Venom as Venomous Kiss, you can win e-copies of all of my work-for-hire books written in collaboration with PLL under the pen name Fiona Paul, plus signed physical copies of all of my solo books. All you have to do to enter is follow @paperlanternlit and @pstokesbooks and retweet this tweet.

2. Win one of my books + a $25 gift card. Ends 3/31 (INT)
This one you have to work for. It's for graphic design types. I'm looking for a great sticker I can use to help promote Girl Against the UniverseCheck out the details! If you've never designed for print but like making quote/image pairings, drop by back the blog in a couple of weeks because I'll be doing a social media graphic contest then.

3. Win Girl Against the Universe. Ends 3/28 (US only)
This is a HarperTeen sponsored ARC giveaway on Goodreads.

4. Win a signed paperback of Liars, Inc. Ends 3/31 (US only)
This is a Goodreads giveaway sponsored by me in honor of Liars, Inc.'s bookaversary :) Liars, Inc. turned one year old on March 24th. I wanted to make this INT--I really did--but paying $20 to send a book that most people worldwide can buy from The Book Depository for $15 didn't seem like a good use of my promotional budget. So I'm sticking to my rule where I pay INT postage mostly to send ARCs. Never fear, more INT contests coming, like this one...

5. Win a signed ARC of Girl Against the Universe. Ends 4/9 (INT)
Check out my guest post over at Pop Goes the Reader and enter to win a signed ARC while you're there. Jen and I are sharing our thoughts about overused and potentially harmful mental illness tropes in movies, TV, and books.

Want more? Upcoming contests include:

6. Win a signed ARC of Girl Against the Universe (INT)
    Win a pre-order of GATU/Vicarious (INT)
Have you entered the YA Scavenger Hunt before? It runs from 3/29 to 4/3. One lucky winner will get a signed GATU ARC as part of a 20-book prize pack. I'll also be running a secondary contest for a pre-order of GATU or Vicarious. Oh and my bonus content is a non-spoilery, swoony phone conversation between Jordy and Maguire <3 See you then!

7. Win a finished hardcover copy of Girl Against the Universe (INT)
Do you like to make quote/image pairings or fan art that can be shared on social media? I'll be running a contest starting on 4/4. Details here on the blog.