Book News: Inked Gets a Sequel, to be Published in May 2016!

bloomsbury spark Deep breath. Here we go.

Bloomsbury's digital imprint, Bloomsbury Spark, will be publishing the sequel to my debut YA novel, Inked, in May of 2016. 

And there it is. It feels real now.

inked 2

Inked 2: Ink Harder (that is not what it is called) picks up where book one left off, and introduces a class of characters that get brought up in book one, but aren't really explored. The Unprinted, the citizens without the magic, moving tattoos that define one's place in society, who have opted to live off-the-grid and away from the mandatory practice of magical Ink.

In book one you get to see an Unprinted settlement, and one of the main characters is an Unprinted warrior (Tabor!), but this time around, you'll get a lot more of them.

What's it about? I won't get into much, but in  Inked II: The Inkening (still not the actual name), war has erupted. And  smack in the middle of it, are a pack of powerful teens that have been forced into a position where they are leading the charge. It'll take them across the Realm and challenge their relationships with one another. The Citadel has new weapons, new defenses, new allies. And they'll go to some pretty horrifying lengths to get what they want.

2 Inked 2 Furious (not yet), has a bunch of new characters that I can't wait for you to meet, as well as the old ones you hopefully liked in the first book. I started working on the sequel while my superstar agent (hi Dawn you rule!) was shopping around the first book, took a little break from it, and revisited it last year. I had a finished draft ready to go back in January, but my agent spent a few months editing it with me, as every good agent should, to make sure it was up to her standards.

And now, here we are, with Inked II: Cruise Control (no) coming out in the summer.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who supported the first book. Those of you who helped critique the drafts and final manuscripts. Who tweeted, emailed, Facebooked, YouTubed, and blogged about it coming out, shared the cover, pushed the promotions. The many of you who took the time to write a review on your favorite retailer, on your book blog, or posted on Goodreads. Nena for pushing me. Dawn for repping it. Meredith and the Bloomsbury team for publishing it in the first place. Thank you! You're why Inked 2: The Squeakquel (haha, no) is happening.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an edit letter to read through and a manuscript to touch up.

Inked: Rise of the Unprinted (the actual title!), coming your way May 2016.


Six Things I Learned Running a Pre-Order Campaign for My Book

B_hTxz8WYAIAM0U A few months before INKED came out, me and the team at Bloomsbury started talking about building buzz on the ol' Internet. There are a lot of ways you do this. Sending out review copies, creating book trailers (or in my case, a book song), releasing excerpts, putting together blog tours, pitching media... stuff like that is all pretty standard, and really helps launch a book online. The crew at Bloomsbury did a killer job, and worked closely with me and the contacts I'd put together. It was an awesome experience.

And since INKED was a digital-first release, building that Internet buzz was extra important.

I wanted to take things a little bit further, and put together a fun pre-order campaign for the book. I promised signed posters, postcards, and handmade (more on that shortly) necklaces to anyone (also that) that pre-ordered the book. Since INKED is a digital-first book, I thought it would be a good idea to give readers some extra incentive to pick it up.

Was it a successful campaign? I'd say it was. Building pre-orders can be tough, and I was really thrilled with the results.

Here's what I learned putting one together.

money shovel

If you don't check your budget, you'll end up doing this.

1. First, Check Your Budget: I mean, really check it. It's fun to offer up swag and presents to readers, totally. But if you're spending more than say, $1 a book... you'll probably never see that money again. If that's not a concern (it wasn't for me, I wanted to get this book out there and set some funds aside just for this), go crazy.

You're giving away 100 swag packs that say, weight one ounce. Each of those, first class just in the states, will cost about $1.50 to mail. That's $150. Add $15 for the envelopes. $165. Contents? Maybe you do a run of 100 posters. $25. Some nice sharpies and you're at $200. Not bad at all, you guys... although that does put you at $2 a book already.

See where this gets tricky?

And then this is where you run into real trouble... offering up too many other extras. Me, I gave out handmade necklaces, which in bulk, probably cost about $1.50 each to make. I had to buy the leather straps, the bottles, and the flowers for inside. And they took quite a long time to put together. I watched many movies while doing this. If you factor in the cost of time, it was extra expensive.

I definitely went over the $1 per book budget, especially later with shipping. But I regret nothing. More on that next.


The books went way farther than Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

2. Consider Just How Open It Is: When I launched my pre-order campaign, I said I'd send signed posters, postcards, and necklaces to anyone who pre-ordered. It didn't matter where. I honestly didn't think it would push out all that far.

But ah, the Internet makes happy fools of us all sometimes.

For me, opening up the pre-order internationally meant that a $4 pre-order on Amazon turned into me spending $6 - $12 a package when it came to shipping to places like Australia. Five people in Australia pre-ordered Inked. Out of the 300 or so packages I sent out, about 25% of them were international.

Ask yourself when putting together your budget, just how open your campaign is going to be. If you're going to ship to other countries, awesome. But remember that it'll add up.

Financially, offering up the pre-order internationally was a bit of a mistake. But when it came to getting cool gifts into the hands of people that were excited about the book... I regret nothing. I appreciated every single person who took a chance on the book, and I still do.


Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!

3. Twitter Campaigns Work, But Not How You Expect: I ran three Twitter campaigns for INKED. A short one (like, three days) for the cover reveal, one to drive people to request it on NetGalley (a week), and one last big campaign for the pre-order promotion (about a month).

And they all worked... but maybe not how I expected them to.

Did the Twitter campaigns get people pre-ordering the book? Requesting it on NetGalley? Sharing the cover? It's hard to say. What it did do though, was expand my message well beyond my audience, and put it in front of the eyes of my friends and colleagues. Running the Twitter campaigns helped make sure my friends with way bigger voices saw my little tweets, and consequently, they helped boost my message with RTs galore.

I made sure I sent everyone a thank you email for that. Ya'll rule.

Let's talk those numbers. The pre-order campaign push cost $200 and was (potentially) seen by 87,484 people over the course of three weeks. This pulled in 999 clicks to the pre-order page from Twitter, and that individual pre-order page was accessed over 2,013 times.

$200 for 87,000 eyes and 1,000 click-thrus to the campaign? Not bad at all. But what was even more valuable, was the promotion that resulted from my many friends seeing the campaign and pushing it to their audience. Having other YA authors and blogger friends promoting the book to their audience that might not be (and probably aren't, let's be real) aware of me... that's worth way more than a click thru. That's a new follower, potentially a new fan.

Don't measure the success of your Twitter campaign on strictly conversions relating to pre-orders. There's more to it than that.



4. Market Your Campaign: You're running your Twitter campaign? Awesome. Maybe you've even decided to spend waste some money on Facebook ads. Great! But that isn't enough. People aren't on social media to be promoted at, you guys. They don't follow you for that. You have to step outside of all that, and do some marketing.

Talk to bloggers, talk to media folks, and see who you can get excited about your promotion. Is the mainstream media going to be psyched about your signed postcard? Probably not. But reach out to the people who support you that already have a voice, and see if they'll help you blast your message out there. Is a blogger hyping up your release? Ask them if they might consider talking about the pre-order option.

Superstar BookTuber Jesse the Reader gave Inked's pre-order campaign a shout-out in his video back in December. The result? 100 pre-orders straight from this video. How do I know? THEY TOLD ME. "I heard about this book from Jesse the Reader" they said. "I love you"  I said, in emails to Jesse. "Eric stop emailing me" Jesse said. Etc.

He didn't actually say that.

I didn't ask Jesse to bring up the campaign, he did it on his own. But several bloggers after him talked and linked to it, including Paste Magazine when they posted my excerpt.

My regret? I wish I'd told more people about it directly, especially after seeing the impact Jesse had.

chris mail.jpg

Look at that handsome bro.

5. Find Yourself a Buddy: Having a pal on hand is an absolute must. I honestly didn't expect the INKED pre-order campaign to do all that much, and would have been thrilled if a dozen or so pre-orders came in. Then, as the weeks went by, I suddenly found my pre-order spreadsheet growing to hundreds of people. At the end of it all, I had three hundred envelopes to stuff and mail out.

I was pretty stubborn with the necklaces. When I wrote about them here on the blog, I said that they were going to be handmade by me. When friends asked if they could come over and help me put them together, I declined, because I had said they were going to be made by me. I didn't want to lie to these future readers.

However Chris, as he often does because that's what good friends do, wore me down when it came to helping with this, and insisted on helping me with the final mailing. I can't even begin to tell you how big a help that was. I literally would have been at the post office for HOURS if he hadn't come with me and helped, and I certainly wouldn't have made it all in one trip.

Take the help when it is offered, you guys. And then buy that buddy lunch.


Singing helps.

6. Make Sure You Have the Time: Last, remember that these take time. You have to come up with something clever and fun. If you're doing posters, you need to get them designed and printed. Special swag? You need the time to create it. Then you have to package and mail all of this stuff. It takes a while.

I spent a few days packaging the envelopes, a week on the necklaces, and it took me about a month to finally get these all out and in the mail. When it came to the poster and the postcards, it took my pal Ashley a week or two to whip 'em up. And I know readers understand, but I still felt pretty guilty seeing that box there day after day, knowing I had to get them out, had to find the time to finish everything, etc.

Want to do a lot of cool swag, but afraid you won't have the time? Go back to step 5. Also, remember your budget.


And there you have it. Six things I learned putting together and running a pre-order campaign. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Did I spend a bit more money than I should have? You bet I did. Would I do it again? Damn straight.


World of YA, Here I Come: A New Book Coming Out With Bloomsbury Spark in 2014

bloomsbury spark When my super agent Dawn Frederick called me last week, late in the afternoon, the day before The Geek's Guide to Dating hit bookstores, my heart started racing. Was this it? Did it happen? Was this the phone call?

It was.

I'm thrilled to announce that my first young adult novel will debut with Bloomsbury Spark in the Fall of 2014. They're a new imprint under Bloomsbury Publishing, who you might remember from this thing called Harry Potter. The imprint is so new, that their first seven books just came out this month. Popular YA blogger The Story Siren did a cover reveal of all their first titles back in November, and I seriously can't wait to be on their list.

Excuse me, crying break.


Okay, I'm back.

Though as I write this, I'm realizing some of my friends might be a bit confused. YA book? What YA book? Didn't you write a dating guide?

Well, back in May of 2012 I announced that I had signed with Dawn Frederick over at Red Sofa Literary. I remember the day quite well, as I made local artist / BFF Britt Miller hangout with me in Cosi as I signed the contract (it was a nice moment, thanks for being there Britt).

I'd spent that last year scribbling away at a YA manuscript. I'd been inspired by all the YA novels I had been reading lately, and thought I would give it a shot. I sent Dawn the finished book, and shortly after she signed me, the opportunity for the Geek Dating book came up. She started pitching publishers and I worked on the dating guide while editing the novel.

And now, here we are! Hooray!

As for the book, it's called Inked, and it's a YA fantasy story. You know, with like, castles, swords, magic... all that good stuff. Here's a blip from the sale mentioned in Publishers Marketplace (and a screenshot, cause OMG Publishers Marketplace!).

Eric Smith’s INKED, about a society where tattoos are magical, fate altering, and mandatory, and a teen’s search for his own path leads to the discovery of hidden powers, sending the corrupt government after him and those he loves –to Meredith Rich at Bloomsbury Spark, by Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary.

ya publishers

I look forward to talking more about it as it gets closer, but for now, I'm just happy to share this news with all of you.

Big thank you to my awesome agent, my fantastic writing group (I heart you guys!), Nena for listening to me ramble about this book, and my friends who took the time to read the manuscript while giving me notes (especially Jennifer AdamsFrankie Diane, E.C. Myers, and Preeti Chhibber). And of course, to Bloomsbury Spark and Meredith Rich for taking a chance on me.

Time to get revising!