Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, reading, self publishing, social media, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Marketing Primer: Author Platform Basics

It’s never too early to start building your author platform and marketing base. This week, we’ll do a deep dive into what an author platform is and how to use it.

What is an Author Platform?

An author platform is a writers public face

An author platform brands the author, NOT the book. Set up your social media accounts and fan pages under your author name instead of your book or series name. It will save you from trying to manage multiple accounts or pages, or from being difficult to find.

An author platform presents you as an expert in your field. Many writers balk at this because most of us feel we fit the meme of an author knowing a little about everything but is a master of nothing. The truth is, you are the expert of your book and your characters. Start there and expand your expertise.

An author platform is also a means through which to share your message with your target audience. The more fans you accumulate, the more quickly and easily you can disseminate information about you and your books to an interested audience.

An author platform tells readers what makes your work unique. Your platform should reflect your personality and the aspects of your writing that set you apart from other writers.

An author platform implies a promise of quality. Always make sure you are putting out quality products, images, information, etc. Present yourself online as a professional and release professional quality work.

An author platform says something about you as an author. What keeps you writing? What fills your spare time (if you can find any)? Share more than just your books. Share your writing process and experiences in publishing. Remember that you’re building a community with your platform, not just a customer base.

What does an Author Platform do?

It gives authors an opportunity to shows their personality to their readers. In today’s interconnected world, readers want to know their favorite writers. It adds to their reading experience to have some insight into who wrote the book.

It fosters relationships with readers, turning casual fans into super fans who will help promote you and your work. Friendships are also developed which can help authors feel more engaged with the reading community.

It establishes expertise as an author, writer, and whatever other areas of knowledge you have to share. If you write police procedurals, share some of your research. If you write a character who likes to cook, share recipes. Create a world for readers to explore with you.

It builds communication with readers and opens up opportunities for feedback, help, and encouragement. Many writers get bogged down with deadlines, stuck in the middle of a manuscript, or overwhelmed by life. Open up a dialogue with readers.

It creates community with other writers and with readers. Writing can be a lonely endeavor. Use your platform to gather similarly minded book lovers to talk to and engage with.

It builds visibility and extends reach. The more you build your author platform, the more eyes you will have on your books. Engage regularly to encourage readers to do the same. The more welcome a person feels in a group, the more likely they are to invite others to join or talk about how much they enjoy participating.

Use your author platform to build an community of interested readers.
Posted in marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing

Marketing Primer: Getting Started

This new series will discuss everything from building a platform and creating a plan to carrying out ongoing marketing for consistent success.

The key factors we’ll be looking at are:

  • Developing an author platform
  • Creating a marketing plan
  • Carrying out ongoing marketing
  • Developing a website
  • Using social media effectively

Other important aspects of marketing we’ll discuss in this series include:

  • Creating timelines for marketing campaigns
  • Creativity needed for marketing
  • Perseverance to learn and improve
  • Online and In-Person avenues for marketing
  • Budgeting to meet all your goals
  • Free/Paid advertising options

Next week we’ll kick off the series with a discussion on how to develop an author platform!

Posted in book reviews, books, cover design, editing, giveaway, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing, writing advice, writing tips

Indie Author Basics: Marketing

Whether an author hires out marketing duties or takes them on personally, it’s important to understand the basics.

Word of Mouth

Achieving good word of mouth requires having a professional, high quality product.

Word of mouth is still the best way to sell anything because the recommendation is coming from someone the person likes and trusts.

To get good word or mouth for your books, you need a professional, high quality product. Make sure your editing is clean and the book cover does not look homemade.

You should also actively encourage readers to share your book and talk about it publicly. This can be accomplished through street teams, contests that require sharing a post or writing a review, or putting a reminder the back matter of the book.

Social Media

Post on your social media platforms regularly to keep people engaged. Utilize a mix of informational, funny, promotional, or talking point types of posts.

Utilize social media ads to sell directly to interested readers who already like/follow you. You can also target lookalike audiences of similar authors and unique to reach new customers.

Free/Paid advertising

Free advertising options including posting to book-related Facebook groups (there are tons of these), newsletter swaps, blogging, creating Pinterest boards for your books or characters, and adding books to book sites like My Book Cave and Goodreads.

Paid advertising options include social media ads (pretty much all platforms are willing to take your money in the form of ads hosting), Amazon ads, book-related paid newsletters like FreeBooksy or BookBub, print ads in literary magazines or your local newspaper or circular, sponsorships, and paid online takeovers and parties.

DON’T pay for reviews, ever! It’s against retailers’ terms of service and you can be penalized. Paying a fee to have your book listed in a review catalogue is okay because you are not paying for individual reviews, just the listing.

Networking/Collaborating

Collaborate with other authors to expand your reach.
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Get involved with group promos and events with other authors. You can usually find out about these by joining online authors groups like Alessandra Torre Inkers. These types of collaborations expands your reach and allows you to share fans with and of other authors.

Copywriting

Learn to write engaging ad copy and book cover copy in order to catch the interest of readers. Blurb writing is challenging, and can be hired out if you don’t feel comfortable writing in short form.

Test different ads through A/B testing and determine what type of wording and what styles work best with your audience. Update your ads often because tastes change frequently. Study blurbs for books in your genre to learn more about the style and conventions readers will look for.

Use professional graphics (Pixabay, Canva, Deposit Photos) in all promotional material. DO NOT pull images from a Google search, because the may be copyrighted and you could end up with legal action and fines. There are plenty of free options out there, like Pixabay, if you’re on a tight budget. The same rules apply to music if you post videos.

Planning

Plan according to the amount of time you can realistically put toward marketing.

Determine how much time you REALISTICALLY have each week to put toward marketing, and build your marketing plan around that. Set daily, weekly, monthly tasks AND stick to them. Good things to include are social media posts, submitting books to newsletters, reviewing and updating ads, and engaging with readers.

Plan major campaigns (new releases, holidays, etc.) at least a month in advance, more if possible. Holidays need advanced planning more than almost anything else because newsletter slots will fill up quickly and ad costs may be higher than usual. Bloggers are also much busier and so are readers.

Ideas for major campaigns include hosting virtual parties, running giveaways, participating in takeovers or having other authors takeover your pages (especially popular on Instagram lately), running sales on your books, or hosting a live or online event to celebrate new releases or writing milestones.

Host an online or in-person event to celebrate new releases or writing milestones.
Posted in creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing

Indie Author Basics: Book Marketing

Marketing is one of the biggest chores for indie authors. There are so many avenues it can be overwhelming. Breaking it down to the basics can help you get started developing a plan and getting your book in front of readers!

Websites

Websites as part of a marketing strategy

Websites are important, even though readers often tell me the biggest reason to go to an author’s website is to find the order of books in a series.

Readers aren’t always your main target with a website, though. So who is? Media, agents, publishers, and other industry professionals. They go to websites to find a bunch of information all in one place.

Many website services are free or low-cost for a basic setup. Popular sites include WordPress, Wix, and Square Space. Yearly hosting fees for paid websites are usually in the $60-$500 range, depending on how intricate the website is and what special features you want.

Domain name registration is $10-$20 per year and well worth the cost! A .com site looks WAY more professional than a .wix.com or .wordpress.com site.

Custom designed sites are the most expensive options, for the design work and for hosting costs.

Blogs

Blogs can be a great way to drive traffic to your website on a regular basis, but only if you’re willing to put in the time to blog consistently. If you don’t have time for that, don’t start a blog.

Social Media

Social media book marketing

Social media account are vital in today’s marketing world. Not only are they great places to grow your fan base and develop relationships with your readers, an account is required on most platforms to be able to run ads.

This doesn’t mean you have to run out and join every social media site known to man. ONLY sign up for the ones you’re actually going to use consistently. The most popular and effective right now are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Amazon ads.

Most social media platforms are free to set up and running ads can be done even on a very small budget.

Book-Related Profiles

Sign up for author profiles and popular book related sites. Unlike social media, you don’t have to actively do anything on these sites. Having a profile allows you to add your books, run ads, and gain followers, though.

Popular book-related sites right now include BookBub, Goodreads (don’t read reviews!), and My Book Cave. Most of these types of sites are free to sign up, but may be a bit pricier to run ads or features on and you have to be approved for features.

Newsletter Features

There are a million book-related newsletters out there that accept free and paid feature spots. The biggest the list, the higher the price. However, many smaller ads (free or $5) can be very effective. Most writers have a hard time getting features on bigger lists without a lot of reviews.

Making a Plan

Marketing Basics for Indie Authors

There’s a lot of trial and error involved with book marketing. Everyone’s book is different and will speak to readers in different ways.

Start small. Test out multiple avenues and keep track of what does and doesn’t work. As you evaluate the effectiveness of different tactics, you’ll be able to start making a solid plan.

Posted in book covers, books, creative writing, editing, publishing, self publishing, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Indie Author Basics: Responsibilities of an Indie Author

Without a traditional publisher, what do indie authors need to handle on their own?

The list may be long, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Breaking everything down can help you decide which tasks to learn to do yourself and which to hire out.

I’ll break these down in the coming weeks, but here’s a broad list of what indie authors devote their time to when not writing:

Production costs

These costs include editing (developmental, copy editing, proofreading), cover design, formatting, setup, distribution fees. Next week, I’ll break down costs for each of these as well as options for reducing the overall cost of book production.

Marketing

Marketing includes building a plan and carrying it out, learning about paid advertising and booking ads, setting up and managing social media accounts, participating in online and in-person events, writing and sending out press releases, and much more.

Networking

When it comes to networking, it’s important to engage with the author community, join groups and lists, make friends for support, find beta readers or critique partners, and learn from others in the industry.

Collaborate

Collaborations that are popular right now include box sets, worlds, promo groups, etc. These collaborations help authors expand their audience and reach, as well as learn more about marketing and promotion.

Reaching Out

Reaching out to media, stores, businesses, etc. is part of marketing, but for many people it’s a different skill than interacting on social media or booking ads. Different types of stores have different requirements for booking an author signing, and bookstores aren’t the only option for signings. Learning how to approach a business, radio station, newspaper, etc. the right way can make a difference in being accepted.

Events

Without an agent or publisher, indie authors are often responsible for organizing their own signings, publicity events, participation in books fairs, speaking engagements, conferences, etc. Learning about what types of events are worth while, how to get involved, or what type of classes to submit to a conference can help you make solid plan.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be discussing each of these topics in more detail. Follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss a topic!

Posted in marketing, social media

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 3

To get started on creating your marketing plan, check out Part 1 and Part 2 first. For specific release day ideas…keep reading!

Facebook Release Party

TGH FB PartyCreate an “Event” on FB, then add details of where/when, who’s participating, prizes, games, etc.

Invite Friends and Readers and encourage them to invite more people.

  • “Who invited you?” giveaway can be a great way to encourage more invites.

Invite other authors

  • Share the burden and fans: Invite authors to participate or “takeover” during the party with their own games/giveaways/etc.
  • More games and prizes means more fun.
  • Other authors bring in their fans to learn about your books and your fans learn about other authors as well.

Games

  • “Caption this!” – Find a funny or strange picture and ask for captions. All captions earn an entry and you can either pick the best as the winner or pick at random.
  • Book themed i.e. Bad Date Stories for my Date Shark series, or favorite myth for my Twin Souls series
  • “Like My Page,” “Signup for my newsletter,” “Follow me on…” are great ways to build followers and are an easy giveaway entry form
  • Costume Party (post pic of costume to enter giveway)
  • Task oriented games, i.e. go to my website and find all the pink letters and unscramble the word.

Prizes

  • Ebooks, signed books, bookmarks, postcards, swag, name a character, etc. Be creative and personalize as much as you can.

Teasers

  • Guests may have been invited by someone else and don’t know about your book. Interest them with teasers/excerpts in the form of images and/or quotes.

Time Limit

  • 2-3 hours is common. If you want to include more authors and cover more time zones, a longer All Day event can work well.
  • May want to leave games open 24 hours for international guests

Twitter Chat/Party

Tweet BirdCreate your own Hashtag #DelShereesReleaseParty

  • This is how people follow the discussion

Play Question and Picture based games

  • Replies enter them in giveaway

Retweet chain

  • RT enters giveaway. Use this to have a lot of people retweet information about your book.

Time Limit

  • 1-2 hours, close giveaways at the end so it easier to track entries.

For more information on contacting media, come back next week.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in books, marketing

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 2

To get started on your marketing plan, check out Part 1 HERE. Once you have your goals set, it’s time to start preparing.


Preparatory Marketing

Networking with Bloggers

Bloggers are authors’ friends. Not just the ones with thousands of followers. Sometimes the smaller bloggers will do more to promote your post and become an ally for future books. Don’t just spam every blogger you find. Build a relationship by checking out their blog, commenting, and interacting.

Types of posts to prepare for bloggers: Guest posts, interviews, excerpts, Q&A, Top Tens lists, writing advice, etc.

KEEP TRACK of which bloggers you work with for future releases.

Social Media

Facebook

Regular posting on 2-3 platforms.

Share teasers such as quotes, images, character bios, etc.

Share sneak peeks of content.

This helps you build a fan base and interest in the projects you’re working on.

Branding

Blond Business Woman

Establishing expertise through content, i.e. columns/articles/blogs, sharing useful information/articles, etc.

You want readers to know what they can learn/expect from you. Do you share writing advice, post about your own reading, talk about your hobbies, blog your thoughts on a variety of subjects, etc.


Pre-Release/Launch Marketing

Blog tours

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Need to be set up 2-6 months in advance. Bigger tour companies will require more time. It also gives more time to bloggers to read the book and review. Blog tours are for EXPOSURE, not sales, so reviews are really important during blog tours.

Book Trailers

Click for a book trailer sample
Click for a book trailer sample


Post release date in video or description to help promote the release date and/or pre-order status.

Don’t just use your blurb for the script. Create a script that fits your video/photos and gives a unique look at the book through this format. Some book trailers use text only, voiceover narration, or live action.

Resources for making book trailers include: Free Music Archive for music, Windows Movie Maker, Animoto, Stupeflix, etc. for video compilation.

Reviews

Open Blue Book

Reach out to bloggers, beta readers, friends, and other authors who are interested in your genre. If they are new to reviewing, explain the process and how easy it is to leave a review as well as how important reviews are to the success of a book.

DO NOT PAY FOR REVIEWS! It’s against most sites review policies and is considered unethical.

When dealing with Amazon, family and close friends are not allowed to review your book because they may have a financial interest in your success. Same goes for authors affiliated with the same publisher you are with, street team members, or anyone else Amazon deems may have too close of an interest.

Goodreads does not limit reviews from friends and family.

Reviews can’t be posted on amazon until the book is LIVE, but encourage posting on Goodreads pre-release. It’s easy to copy and paste later.

Pre-Orders

Dollar Sign

A discounted price is usually offered during the pre-release period. Make sure to add the links to your website/pre-order page.

2-4 weeks is a common time period for pre-orders but trends have recently been leaning toward longer periods.

The Benefit of pre-orders is that ALL pre-sales are tallied on release day = big boost in rankings.


Launch/Release Marketing

Email Blast

Newsletter

Mailing list! Start building your mailing list early. This is a captive audience of readers who are interested in your books. Targeted Marketing=Better Click-Throughs

Release Party

TGH FB Party

In-person &/or FB event, Twitter chat (specifics to come…) Gather your fans and readers in one place to celebrate the release. It’s great to get other authors involved for games/prizes.

Media Appearance/Interviews

Podcasts, blogs, radio, YouTube, etc. Explore local media outlets like radio and TV, but don’t be afraid to branch out and talk to online sources like internet radio shows, podcasts, bloggers, Google+ shows, etc. There are many book and writing related media outlets interested in talking to authors.

Incentives to Buy

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Freebie w/ purchase, email receipt for gift, etc. Be creative with your incentives. If you have another talent like music or drawing, pair them up for a bonus gift after purchase. These types of incentives are usually offered during the first week after release.

Add cover art to Social Media images to help announce the release and get people interested in the book.

Update your bio with release info/links so readers who are already following you will have the most current information about your books.

Putting your plan into action requires planning, but the time and effort can pay off with a great release.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in marketing

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 1

Creating a marketing plan that’s doable is tough.

Where do you start?

Time

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How much time per day/week are you willing to put into marketing? Be realistic. If you only have an hour per week, build your plan around that. A lot can be accomplished in a small amount of time.

If you have more time, keeping a list or schedule can help you use it more efficiently. Using whatever amount of time you have in the most effective way is important.

Money

Dollar Sign

Set a firm budget for your marketing efforts and be realistic about what you can afford.

There are a lot of free marketing options, so don’t feel like you have to have a big budget. If you have a small budget, there are many author friendly marketing options that are as little as $5 and can have a good impact.

Effort

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (9 of 10)

What can you do on your own and what do you need help with? No one can do everything on their own, so admit what your strengths and weaknesses are and go from there. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help when you need. Authors are great about helping each other.


Now let’s take the next step…

Who is your audience?

Who do you want to target in your marketing efforts? You need to be as specific as possible so you can narrow down your marketing pool. Targeted marketing is more effective than blanket tactics.

What avenues do you most want to pursue?

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In-person, online, blogs/reviewers, social media, etc. What are you comfortable with and what types social interactions do you enjoy participating in?

If in-person events aren’t your style, focus on online marketing like Facebook parties, Twitter chats, etc. If you enjoy meeting readers face to face, school talks or bookstore book signings might be where you want to focus.

What is your goal?

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Aside from hitting the NYT bestseller list 😉 

Study your competition. What’s working for them? What’s not working? Look especially at creative ways other authors are marketing their books. Finding unique tactics will make your book stand out.

Marketing is tough, but making a plan that fits into your life, budget, and schedule will make it more manageable.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.