By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Tag: author marketing (Page 1 of 3)

How to Build Your Author Brand the Right Way

 

by Marie Lavender

In the beginning, most writers believe that they should wait until they’ve landed a big six publisher or officially published a book before even thinking about the development of a ‘brand’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

No matter what stage you are at as a writer, you can work on building your author brand. Even from day one. Continue reading

4 Tips for Marketing Your Book and Increasing Sales

4 Tips for Book Marketing

 

Self publishing can be a scary endeavor, but just as frightening sometimes is the marketing that Indie Authors have to do after they publish. I want to share some of my own marketing tips with you to help you on your journey to sell more books.

I have published five books and have gone through what you are all going through. I’ve sat at my damn computer day after day trying to put into words the sensational story swirling around in my head. When I finally had my story down on paper—and more or less coherent—I had to start with the editing. Then, to add insult to injury, once the book was published, I had to demean myself to market it. Well, maybe demean is not the right word, but I do so hate to beg. I only mention my time in the trenches so you’ll know that I’m a veteran and have the wounds to prove it.

I’m here today to relate the little of what I’ve learned over the last five years concerning marketing. And don’t fool yourself, you gotta do marketing. Even Stephen King has to market his own books. He puts $200,000.00 of his own money into advertising each of his books. He can afford that kind of budget. But the rest of us will have to work a little harder.

Most of what I’m about to convey will be old hat to some of you. And to you brand-new writers looking for a signpost or two to help you find your way, I sincerely hope what I’m about to convey helps.

 

1) Newsletters

Using outfits with mailing lists is a good way to go. For $30.00 or $40.00, you’ll sell some books. When I use those resources, I’ll sell a couple of hundred or so. But you can go down that route only sparingly. They let you promote a book only once every ninety days. But after the first blast, you’ve probably made most of the sales you’re gonna make anyway. A few of the best are Ereader News Today, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Book Gorilla, and Choosey Bookworm. There are others and you’ll find ’em if you look for ’em.

One last thing, you’ll want to space out using these guys because you’ll want to know who will give you the most bang for the buck. And I’m sure some of the names on their mailing lists overlap.

 

2) Ask for Reviews

There is no other way to say this, but ya gotta go out and beg for reviews. Reviews spur sales. Ya gotta sit at your computer at least ten hours a day—or as many hours a day as you can afford—sending out the same query letter.

The first bit of advice that I read about when my first book came out was to get the list of Amazon’s top 100 reviewers and send them an email asking for a review of your book. I did that, but I didn’t stop at one hundred. I sent out almost 400 emails. I was into the top 600 by the time I stopped.

I did get two of the top 100 to review my book and both of them were kind enough to give it five stars. Subsequently, they’ve bought my other books and gave them good reviews. And that’s good. But … for my next two books, I sent out over a hundred requests to the Amazon top reviewers, and I didn’t get one single reply. Not every reviewer has their email address on their page. So, to send out 100 query letters, you have to go through about 300 to 400 profiles. It’s a lotta work.

 

3) Guest Posts

Next, the book bloggers: This is where the honey is. The people that read their blogs are readers and buyers of books. These are the people you want to know about your book. You can get lists of book bloggers by googling “book bloggers.” Who would have thought?

BUT (and there is always a but), book bloggers are inundated with requests for reviews. Some get 500 requests a week. At first, I went that route asking for reviews and I got a few. But the return on my investment (my time) was slim. I’ll explain.

Once you have the lists, you have to go through them and get the link to the blogger’s page. Then you have to go to their “Policy” page to see if they are even interested in your genre. You’ll be extremely lucky if you hit 50%. Then you have to go to their “About” page and get their name…if it’s there. If it is, personalize the salutation of your “begging” email and send out your request for a review. Then you go to the next name on the list and do the searching all over again.

Whew! Makes me tired just remembering going through all that.

I did that for ten hours a day, seven days a week. I must have sent out 2,000 begging letters for each of my books. But I finally got smart. Instead of asking for a review, I offered to do a guest post or an interview. It’s a win-win. The blogger gets content and you get to promote your book.

To date, I’ve done over 600 guest posts and I’ve sold a fair number of books because of those posts.

 

4) One Last Thing

This has nothing to do with marketing, but it is important. When you start getting reviews, the best policy is not to respond to them. However, if you want to thank someone for a good review, I reckon that’s all right. BUT … NEVER, EVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Do so at your own risk.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

 

Andrew Joyce AuthorAbout the Author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including his latest, a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mick Reilly.

Why Everyone Is Wrong About the Amazon Algorithm

amazon sale rank

Cate Baum wrote an excellent piece on “Mythbusting the Amazon Algorithm- Reviews and Ranking for Authors” that I think everyone should read. Cate Baum is the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Self-Publishing Review and a former search expert. She knows her stuff. Earlier this year she had grown tired of all the misleading information that was being circulated amongst the Indie Author community about how Amazon’s rankings work. She decided she wanted to tackle the biggest myths and set people straight.

I highly recommend reading Baum’s full article. She even wrote a Part II since part one was so well received. (Thank you to @AssaphMehr for bringing both of these to my attention!)

Here’s the highlights with some of my thoughts.

 

Myth 1 – Nobody knows how the Amazon Algorithm Works.

False. Yes they do. 

Amazon uses an A9 algorithm. There are detailed manuals and articles that shed light onto how it works.

illust_productsearch_full

 

 

 

Myth 2 – Amazon has secret ways of ranking books.

False. It’s not secret. 

Amazon use preset factors inputed into the A9 algorithm. Cate Baum provides a very handy list of some of the factors that it considers:

 

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-2-04-33-pm

 

Myth 3 – You can figure out keywords that people will use to find you by typing into the search bar and seeing what is autosuggested.

False. Every search bar and the suggestions provided are personalized. 

Just like ever other sophisticated search company today, Amazon provides a personalized experience for each user. That means the search suggestions you see on Amazon are different than the search suggestions I see.

 

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Myth 4 – It’s a job finding keywords to make your book discoverable and you have to do a bunch of tricks and resort to many author advice blogs to find answers and theories.

False. Amazon provides excellent guidance. 

Look at Amazon’s author guidelines. Amazon is fairly helpful in this regard.

 

 

Myth 5 – If you pick a niche category to get to #1 you are just conning everyone that you got to the Bestseller Lists by exploiting the “loophole.”

False. 

On this myth, Cate Baum is providing her opinion on Amazon’s node tree system for rankings and why she believes you’re not conning everyone by being #1 on a “niche” genre. I see both sides of the argument.

There’s no requirement that you have to be the #1 bestselling book for all of time that has ever been written forever and ever amen period. That would be a ridiculous goal. So any “bestseller list” is going to be a niche category in some respects. It’s quite an accomplishment to reach #1 regardless of the niche, even if your niche is #1 Book Written on the Third Tuesday of the Month During a Leap Year. That’s still impressive.

That being said, telling someone you’re an Amazon #1 Bestseller without any context can be misleading. But that’s you doing the conning, not Amazon or the rankings. And on this, I absolutely agree with Baum.

 

Myth 6 – You are advised to write to Top Amazon Reviewers and other reviewers to ask for free reviews to boost ranking.

False. This can actually harm your rankings.

Amazon has detailed guidance on how reviews can be solicited and what reviews will be allowed. It is also clear that a “Verified Purchase” is rated more highly than reviews that are unverified. If you don’t follow Amazon’s guidelines, you may find yourself losing reviews. (In my case, you may find yourself temporarily losing reviews even if you DO follow Amazon’s guidelines.)

My take from the research I’ve done on it is that about 50 reviews should be your initial target level to have a “proof of concept.” This is a good starting number to have so readers can get a good sense of whether people like your book or not.

 

Myth 7 – Nobody knows when the algorithm updates.

False. Sort of.

Amazon’s KDP Manual tells us that the rankings are updated every 1-2 days. However, we don’t know when the inputs and parameters for the algorithm are updated. We’ll never know that. This is proprietary and the secret sauce that is A9.

 

Baum goes on to include additional myths in her Part II. Again, I highly recommend you read the full article. It is very informative and well considered.

I do think Baum is a little too far leaning toward the position that these are all false myths, though. Baum is correct. Amazon does give a lot more guidance than the rumors that are circulated within the Indie Author community. However, there is still a high degree of opacity in the rankings as well. All of the factors that are considered in the rankings and how the factors are weighted are not clear, and I think this matters. I certainly don’t expect Amazon to provide this information, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that people would game the system, but this shouldn’t be ignored either.

If I’m an Indie Author, which I am, and my time is limited, which it is, I only have so much time I can put toward marketing. I need to prioritize where I spend my time. It makes a difference if Amazon’s rankings puts a higher emphasis on sales conversions or page views.

Let me explain. If I’m trying to sell my book Pieces Like Pottery, a logical plan would be to have my book considered by as many people as possible. If 1 out of every 20 people that view my book page on Amazon actually purchase the book, then I want as many people as I can get to view my book page. It becomes a numbers game.

However, if Amazon weights conversion more heavily than sales and page views, my strategy could have a negative effect. Maybe a conversion rate of 5% is not ideal for Amazon and they prioritize books with higher conversion rates. If that’s the case, then instead of getting as many people as I can to consider my book, I would want to be spending my time targeting those readers I think have a very high probability of buying my book (and only those readers) because it would help my ranking.

Again, I don’t expect Amazon to tell us how these factors are weighted, but it does matter. I think Baum skims over some of this a little bit too much at times.

I also have a small issue with the tenor of the article. Baum doesn’t come out and say it outright, but it is heavily implied throughout the article. So much so, in fact, that I’ve seen it repeated a lot by Indie Authors. Baum’s article implies that Amazon wants your book to sell. This is true insofar as if your book sells, Amazon makes money; but I think it misses the point of why Indie Authors worry about these rankings at all.

Amazon wants to make money, but they don’t care how, (not within this context anyway). Amazon couldn’t care less if YOUR book sold or not. It means nothing to them. Amazon just wants books to sell, not YOUR book at all. And this is exactly the point of all the fretting.

If every book could sell to the extent that we all become bestsellers and wealthy authors, that would be excellent, but it’s not possible. So we end up competing in the rankings against other books in hopes that our book will be ranked higher, resulting in more search results revealing our book, which results in more users seeing our book, which results in more users clicking on our book, which in turn results in more readers buying our book, thereby helping the cycle to start all over again.

Amazon doesn’t care if your books sells. You have to care. If you don’t, no one else will.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

 

 

Ten Tips to Being an Author

10 Tips to Being an Author

 

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I’ve seen the publishing business from both sides—with a big-time agent and as an Indie author. So, if you would allow me, I’d like to impart the little bit of wisdom that I have learned along the way.

In this day and age, being an author consists of three things: (1) Writing, (2) Editing, and (3) Marketing. Here are my Ten Tips to Being an Author.

 

1. Traditional publishing doesn’t save you from the marketing slog.

If you want an agent, then by all means send out query letters. But keep in mind that if you snag an agent and he or she gets you a deal with a publishing house (big or small), you will have to do your own marketing. And be careful of small publishing houses and signing away your rights. I believe Indie is the best way to go. It could take a year or more to find an agent—if ever. In that time you could have published and be selling books. The Martian started out as an Indie book and they made a movie out of it!

 

2. Read. A lot.

Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life. I would suggest reading Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and, of course, Steinbeck, to name but a few. Think of it as taking a writing class.

 

Reading to a writer is like med school to a doctor, like physical training to an athlete, like breathing to life.Click To Tweet

 

3. Do your research. 

Whether it’s guns, historical figures, or women’s undergarments of the 19th century—know what you are talking about.

 

4. Write.

That seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into people working on their first book who are obsessing over the cover or the title before they’ve written three chapters. You have to have a fire in your belly to tell your story. Anything else and you’re just playing at being an author.

 

5. Edit. Edit yourself and hire an editor.

Once you’ve written your book and you’re happy with your story, it’s time to tighten it up and edit it. It will be hard, but you’ll have to edit out some of your genius words, phrases, and sentences. Sometimes even whole paragraphs. When I start the editing process, I’ll go through the book at least four times changing things, rewriting things, moving things around, doing whatever it takes to make my story more readable before I call in my editor. This is very important: An author CANNOT edit his or her own work. Yes, you make changes throughout the editing process, but you can read your manuscript a thousand times and not see an egregious error that your editor will see on the first read-through.

 

6. Don’t be in a rush to publish. Edit some more.

If you can’t afford a professional editor, ask friends and family to help out. Find beta readers online. Get all the help you can. Remember this: The more eyes that read your manuscript, the better. Everyone sees things differently. On subsequent go-rounds, you’ll find that you and your editor will see things that you both had missed. If possible, you want people that will stick with you through the multiple passes of your manuscript that real editing demands. I make every correction when a mistake is pointed out, and I take about 75% of the material revisions (style, flow, etc.) suggested by my editors. When all is said and done, I have gone through my manuscript (making changes) at least twenty times and my editors half that many times. But you, as the author, have the last say. You have to sign off on the final version. The biggest complaint about Indie books is that they are poorly edited. Do not be in a rush to get your book up on Amazon—do it right.

 

Do not be in a rush to get your book up on Amazon—do it right. #ameditingClick To Tweet

 

7. You need to market your book.

Now the real fun begins (I’m being facetious), the marketing. I do not know of one author that likes this stage of the game. We all hate it with a passion. But it has to be done. Different things work for different people. If you research this subject online, some sites will tell you that social media is the most important. Others will tell you that reviews are important (which is true). You can advertise, but you’ll probably never see a return on your investment. You can run specials, dropping your price to $0.99 and you’ll see sales. At $0.99 (royalty $0.34), you still won’t make money, but your sales ranking will go up and you’ll get a few reviews. You’ll have to advertise these sales. There are places that will send out an email to their subscribers for as little as $40.00. I usually sell a few hundred books going that route. Choosey Bookworm and Book Gorilla are two of them. You can find more by doing a little research.

 

8. Contact book bloggers. 

There are many lists of bloggers online. The Indie View has a excellent, extensive list. Ask to write a guest post or do an interview instead of asking for a book review. That will make you stand out because book bloggers are inundated daily with requests for reviews. Do your homework. Find their name on their blog and address your request using their first name. Read their “Review Policies” even though you are not requesting a review. You’ll learn if they will host a guest post and what genres they are interested in. It’s hard work; that’s why we all hate marketing. For my first book, I sent out 3,000 requests. Got 300 responses. And ended up selling 7,000 books and getting about 100 reviews just from those 300 guest posts.

 

9. Get reviews!

Reviews are very, very important. Do whatever you can to get them, short of paying for them. Amazon does not allow paid reviews. If you want family and friends to review your book, ask them to buy it—a “Verified Purchase” review carries more weight.

 

10. Write some more.

After you do all of the above, sit down and write another book. The creating is where the real joy and satisfaction of the writing process comes from.

 

 

Andrew Joyce Author

About the Author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, Yellow Hair. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mick Reilly.

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

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