Guest Post by Author Jen Tucker

Please join me in welcoming the wonderfully sweet, ridiculously positive, and ever enthusiastic Jen Tucker. The thing I love most about Jen is that we're so different, and I tell her that all the time. I'm 'glass is half empty,' and she's 'glass is half full.' I'm a snarky smartass, and she is one of the most genuinely kind and generous gals I know. If you're ever feeling down, drop her a line. I'm so thrilled that she's here today on my blog! Mostly because it gets me out of having to write anything. Enjoy!
Thank you so much, Dina, for letting me hang out here while on blog tour for my new memoir, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt.  For those of you who do not know, not only are Dina and I friends, but we are also Purdue University alumni.  Dina is absolutely wonderful, extremely talented, and I adore her.  Believe it or not, I had something totally different in mind to write about for you today, when something interesting happened while spending time with my daughter.  Something that floored me.  Something that made me feel…old!  

Mommy, Did They Have Dinosaurs When You Were Little?
My daughter, Gracie, is obsessed with reading every single Junie B. Jones book that exists on the planet.  Although she is a wonderful reader at the ripe old age of six, spending time reading this series of chapter books, written by Barbara Park, is something we do together.  From time-to-time, I encourage Gracie to read them on her own.  I’m always met with resistance when I present this idea to her.  Gracie’s reasons are usually the following: 

     “Mommy, you do all the voices, of all the people in the story, and they do not sound the same in my head when I read it.”
     “But if I read it alone, then who will tell me when Junie B. does mischief that I should never do in real life?”
     The one that gets me every single time, is when Gracie pleads, “I love it when you read to me Mommy, so we can spend time together.  Just the two of us.  Please?!”
     How could I possibly say no to that?
We are fortunate enough to have the best library available within walking distance of our home.  It is not open to the public however, and their lending policies are quite generous.  I call it The Morgan Library, named after the little girl who lives next door.  Morgan has a wonderful acquisition of books, which could rival Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection.  Could we get any luckier?  Usually, we check out paperback books at The Morgan Library, but recently we went big time and received a hardcover.  Parks’ latest installment in her beloved series, called, Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff).  
     After reading the entire book, Gracie noticed a photo of Barbara Park, posed in her family room on the book’s dust jacket.  “Mommy, is that Barbara Park?” she asked, while running her pointer finger up and down the photo.
     “Yes Baby, that’s her!  She looks like she’s just chilling out in her comfy chair at her house, doesn’t she?”
     Gracie intently stared at the picture, and then asked, “What does she do with that?”  My youngest child was pointing to a typewriter that was resting on a table near the author.
     “You know Gracie, I’m not sure that Mrs. Park uses that typewriter to work on.  It looks like she has it on the table just for decoration.  Maybe she collects them.
     Gracie turned, scrunched up her face at me, and said, “No, Mommy!  What does she use that thing for?  What is it?!”
    Oh.  My.  Goodness. 
My daughter had no idea what a typewriter was!  Mortified does not even begin to describe how I felt about my parental faux pas.  I quickly went into recovery mode.  “Well, a typewriter is what people used to write with before computers were invented.”
     “Huh,” she said.  Gracie flooded me with curiosity. “So, where do you load the paper and the ink?  Where is the screen to see the words when you type them out and how can you play Lalaloopsy on the internet on that thing?”
     I briefly ran through the mechanics.  The most fascinating point for Gracie being that there was no “delete” key. 
     “Mommy; you’ve got to be kidding me right now.  No delete?  Well how did you erase your mistakes when you were little?”
     “You couldn’t erase, or delete mistakes, so you used something called White-Out.  It was this gloppy, white stuff you brushed on the paper with a teeny, tiny brush to cover letters or words you didn’t mean to type.  Then you’d let it dry and type again.”
     Gracie turned the corner of her top lip up at me and said, “Well Mommy, that sounds like a lot of work, and really messy too.  Who would want to use that old thing anyways?”  She closed the book, placed it on her dresser, and skipped out of her bedroom.  I was left alone, sitting amidst her pillows and Care Bears, trying to process what had just happened.
     Just as my children never knew what it was like to manually change a television channel, unfold a map to find your way on unfamiliar highways, or stretch the telephone cord under your bedroom door for a smidgeon of privacy, we can obviously add using a typewriter to this list too.  As technology moves ahead, many people put specific items in their lives out to pasture.  I’m curious as to what you remember as a child, even a young adult, that was part of everyday life and is now replaced by a 2.0 model.  What conversations have been sparked in your home over the old line, “Back when I was your age…?” 
     Since the tables have turned on me, I’ll start by confessing to you.  I was fascinated by the fact when I was Gracie’s age, that my mom never had a pet dinosaur when she was little.  She said dinosaurs lived a long time ago, and that she was a little girl a long time ago; I just put two-and-two together.  My mother cleared it up by saying, “Our cave in Kalamazoo, Michigan wasn’t big enough for a Triceratops, Jenny.  That’s why.”

Have a great day and BOILER UP!

Jen Tucker has never met a gluten free cupcake that she didn’t like.  A former teacher and educator, she worked with children in school, hospital, and enrichment settings for many years. In her years at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, it was Jen’s job to bring the “hands on fun” into the visiting exhibitions in the galleries.  Jen broke away from writing children’s books and thematic units in 2011 with her memoir, “The Day I Wore my Panties Inside Out” which was a semifinalist in the humor category in the 2011 Goodreads Book Awards. She is a monthly guest blogger at the website, Survival for Blondes. Jen lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband, Mike, and their three children. 
You can purchase Jen’s latest book, The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt, here.  You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, her blog or on her website at Princess with a Pen. 


Price Matters: Indie or Trad Pubbed, Everyone Loves a Deal

I wrote an article for IndieReader that I'd thought I share on my blog in case you missed it.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the news lately knows that—as the result of recent Department of Justice lawsuit—traditional publishers can no longer set final prices for their ebooks, which many readers feel should be priced considerably less than their paper counterparts. The question remains, does pricing effect how well a book sells?  Jeremy Greenfield, a contributor at Forbes recently wrote,  “… we’re going to watch the E-Book Best-Sellers List very carefully to see if HarperCollins’s new pricing impacts best-seller ranking. I expect it will.”

How much to price a book, especially for an indie author, is often a guessing  game. Too high for an unknown author looks presumptuous.  On the other hand, free can sometimes feel too desperate. I did a ridiculous amount of research on indie pricing before landing at $2.99. On an average month, I sell roughly 2,000 Kindle copies of my book, One Pink Line, whose ranking tends to hang out in the 1,000’s. Kinda like a high-school kid hanging out in the smoking area, watching the cheerleaders—in this case, titles that have cracked Amazon’s top 100—giggle and paw at each other as they celebrate their fabulousness.

Not to diminish my sales and typical ranking by any means, because I WORK MY TAIL OFF daily to keep it there, but hanging out with the cheerleaders in the Top 100 is where I ultimately want to be.

I wish it didn’t matter to me. I wish I didn’t care about the rankings. I wish I didn’t feel jealous when I see others books doing so much better than mine, but I’d be lying to you if I said otherwise. Much like Snooki, writing novels has been a dream of mine, and if I can possibly do this for a living and maybe support my family by doing so, then my book needs to wear that Amazon Top 100 crown. It matters. Huge.

A couple weeks ago, I was asked to be a part of a group of seventeen indie authors who were going to price their books at $.99 for the Labor Day weekend. Sort of a group sale in which we would all join together to cross promote each others titles and gain maximum exposure for over the long weekend.
Prior to this event, my book, One Pink Line, has been consistently priced at $2.99 – which in my mind (and quite literally) is not a far cry from $.99. That being said, I realize there is a greater perceived savings at the lower price point. The implication that the reader is getting much more of a bargain by paying less than a dollar for my book.

When I had my book enrolled in KDP Select, I vacillated for the entire three months on whether or not to take advantage of the FREE days they offer. In the end, I did not. I know those promotional days have worked wonders for other authors, but I simply could not bring myself to give my book away for FREE. But when this ‘Labor Day of Love’ opportunity came my way, I thought it would be a great way to test the waters of the ‘almost FREE’ and possibly reach my ultimate goal of getting One Pink Line into the Amazon Top 100.

So I priced my eBook at $.99 on Amazon and began doing what I do best: shamelessly self-promoting myself until my eyes bled from the illumination on my computer monitor. Everyone loves a deal, so my amazing network of authors and bloggers were more than happy to share the news. Saturday morning, September 1st at 6:00am I’d sold 13 Kindle copies at $.99 and my book was ranked at #1,645 in the Amazon Best Sellers Paid in Kindle Store. By 7:00pm it was ranked at #536, and when I woke up Sunday morning, it was #60. I nearly fell off my Target barstool. I screamed for my nine-year old son to come look, and he gave me huge grin and a high-five before asking what was taking me so long with his bagel.

I did it.

Thanks to the many people who helped spread the news, I cracked the Amazon 100. And while I spent the next day watching it slide down like a cream pie on a glass window, I have never been so happy to click that refresh button as I was that Sunday morning.

In a matter of three days, I managed to sell 2,178 copies of my book at $.99. Did I sell out by doing this? And why are readers more inclined to purchase at this price point rather than $2.99? My book has 100 5-star reviews; do those two dollars really make that big of a discernible difference to someone?  I think the reason the strategy worked was that I waited until my book was well-reviewed and somewhat widely read before resorting to fire-sale prices. This way, it looked as though the reader really was getting a decent deal. A book with over 125 reviews, and a 4.7 out of 5 rating was being offered up at $.99 – now that’s a steal! By tempting people and lowering my price a mere $2, I incentivized thousands of people that were on the fence into buying it (you know you’ve bought a Groupon under the same pretense!).

My obvious hope was that One Pink Line would hang out in the Top 100 until the price went back to $2.99, much like a party guest that won’t leave until he scrapes the bottom of the spinach artichoke dip with his finger…but that wasn’t the case. However, when I take a step back from my bat-shit-crazy obsession with rankings, I realize that not only are people buying my book, they seem to be enjoying it as well.

They also appreciate a good deal.

Epic Book Giveaway

I am so honored to be a part of the TFEiC Author Event on September 29th in Chicago at the Palmer House Hilton. Seventeen ridiculously talented and successful indie authors (I'm one of them, so forgive me for sounding creepy and boastful) will be on-hand to meet fans, sign books and chat with bloggers about their work.

But sadly, not everyone can make it! So, the fabulous Mollie Kay at the equally amazing Tough Critic Book Reviews is having a KILLER giveaway for those unable to attend the event.

Up for grabs are 30 SIGNED BESTSELLERS! And one winner takes all :) Amazing, right?

Enter here today!