By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

Tag: book marketing (Page 1 of 3)

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.

10 Must-Do Tips for Authors on Social Media

If you’re like me, you constantly have to balance what time you spend marketing on social media with what time you spend writing—you know, that thing you actually love doing and wish you could do full time? Yeah, writing. This doesn’t even account for time with family, friends, hobbies, day jobs, or countless other things that quickly fill up your day.

The point is your time is limited. While social media can be beneficial as you build your author platform, it can also be a never-ending time-suck.

Here’s some advice on how to best utilize social media to build a solid Author platform.

 

Author Social Media Tips

 

1. Be Selective

There’s a mantra I tell myself regularly: You can do anything. You can’t do everything. This is important to remember throughout life.

Managing your social media engagement is no different than other aspects of your life. Be selective on where you utilize social media. Each platform is different.

Twitter can help you reach new readers, while Facebook can drive more traffic to your website and create relationships with readers. Goodreads is wonderful for engaging with the indie author community. Instagram and Pinterest can help you build a brand, if that’s what you’re going for. This is just the tip of the iceberg of social media options.

Figure out what works best for you and focus on those one or two platforms. Personally, I mostly engage on Twitter and Facebook.

 

You can do anything. You can't do everything. Be selective on social media.Click To Tweet

 

2. Create Better Images

People love pictures on social media. Images get exponentially more engagement than just words. This is the very reason Twitter started allowing images on their platform a few years ago. Their lunch was getting eaten by Facebook.

Spend the time necessary to create better images. One place to do that is Canva. That’s how I create many of the images I use on this site. (No, I don’t receive any kind of commission for referring you to them, but I should, huh? Somebody look into that for me.)

 

3. Engage

This really should be rule number 1. Engage! Engage! Engage!

Don’t just scream for people to buy your book. Engage them. Learn about them and who they are. You’re likelihood of finding a new reader will be much, much higher. Answer questions. Respond to comments. And who knows, you might just find a new e-friend.

 

4. Tag People

If you’re talking about someone in one of your posts, tag them so they’re aware. There’s a higher likelihood they’ll interact with the post or that some of their followers might as well.

However, DO NOT tag people just to tag them so they see your latest marketing message. One of the most annoying things on social media platforms is getting tagged by someone with no context on why you’re getting tagged other than they want you to buy something from them.

 

5. Keep Tweets Short

This may sound odd since the very nature of Twitter is already short quips, but just because they give you 140 characters doesn’t mean you have to use all 140. Try to keep your tweets short and simple. Around a 100 character max seems to be a good sweet spot.

 

6. Try Videos

As much as images and pictures get more interaction than simple text, videos do even more so. If you’re inclined to face your fear of being on camera, it can help your engagements on Social Media.

I realize most people have a fear of being on video. I do as well. Just because you have a fear of something, though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore it further.

I’ve begun dabbling in videos with my content, both with photos I’ve taken and with being in front of the camera myself. I really enjoy the author and reader videos anaisbelieve creates on YouTube as well. Try creating a video yourself!

 

7. Make Your Headlines Work

I’ll admit, I can be much better at this. People that tease the reader and pique their curiosity get more engagement and clicks. I’m not saying to use click-bait as a strategy. Everyone hates that and Facebook is even working to get rid of it where they can. I’m saying captivate your followers imagination with your posts. Give them a reason to think, laugh, or be moved. Put thought into your headlines.

 

Put thought into your headlines. Give people a reason to think, laugh, or be moved.Click To Tweet

 

8. Remain Positive

Social media is a real quagmire of negative individuals, isn’t it? It’s obnoxious. If you’re not careful, you’ll find you’ve fallen into one of the two large cess pools that social media hosts: (1) The cess pool of Negative Nancies (or Negative Nates if you please); or (2) The cess pool of look at how wonderful my family / my vacation / my life is.

Don’t fall into those traps.

Keep your positivity. Show your excitement. There will always be haters. Don’t worry about that. People can sense your excitement. They feed off of it. Remain positive and excited.

 

9. Repost Old Content

Reposting something from a few months ago is called Evergreen Content. Don’t be obnoxious and tweet the same thing out over and over and over again. But if you’re judicious, there’s a lot of fantastic content you’ve posted in the past. Don’t let it go to waste. One plugin I utilize for Nothing Any Good is “Revive Old Post”. I set it to randomly send out a previous post of mine every 16-24 hours.

 

10. Manage Your Time

Let’s end at a similar place from where we began. Just like you need to be selective with which social media platforms you spend time on, you also need to be selective with how much time you spend on social media. Don’t forget about your writing because you’re working so hard to get people engaged with your writing. Manage your time and stay focused on the craft. After all, what’s the point of having an author social media following if you’re no longer writing?

 

 

Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

 

Launching The Pacifist

The Pacifist Book Launch

This is an Advertisement for The Pacifist book launch.

 

Launching The Pacifist

Before we get into details about launching Mehreen Ahmed’s book, The Pacifist, I should introduce myself.

My name is Dylan Callens. I’m an author and I also run a small publishing company, Cosmic Teapot Publishing. It’s a fledgling operation that is only a few months old. To date, I have published eight books with three more coming soon.

When I launched my first book a year and a half ago, I was not surprised to hear the whisper of crickets following my big day. I certainly hoped for more, but alas, silence ensued. Since then, I have given considerable thought about how to best launch a book.

The first few books that I published, I tried different things. These produced varying results but nothing that I would consider fantastic. Following, I did quite a bit of reading and poking around, to see how others launched their work. This book launch is a result of that. I took the most common elements that came from the myriad of suggestions to cobble this plan together.

 

Preparation

Mehreen and I talked a great deal about what this launch should look like. Her book is one that the right audience will enjoy, so I wanted to make sure that it has the best possible chance for success. The first thing that we did was decide on the duration of a pre-order period and the price point.

We decided on a six week pre-order period and a price point of $0.99 during that time. During the first two weeks, the book will remain at $0.99, then $2.99 for the following two weeks, then a regular price of $4.99 after the first month. We want to make sure that we get those impulsive buys during the pre-order and launch week, as well as qualify for a number of promotional sites.

We also set an advertising / promotional budget. Not all money will be spent on advertising, so anything considered “promotion” was lumped into this amount. It includes the giveaway items, paperback copies to reviewers (upon request) and advertising. Because I’m Canadian, this hurts. Setting a budget of $700 US is closer to $1000 Canadian. To some it’s a lot of money, but in marketing, it doesn’t even make up a drop. For me, it’s a good chunk of change.

Other things that we did during this time was evaluate potential keywords and create a blurb that utilized the keywords. I’m not sure if we managed the keyword optimization well, but I sure hope so.

 

Pre-Order

For an independent author, a six week pre-order period probably seems kind of long. Anything more than a four week period, to gather a few extra sales, probably seems silly. Up until we planned out the need for reviews on launch day, I probably would have agreed.

The reason for the two extra weeks has nothing to do with sales. I want reviews. If it was reasonable for me to do so, I would have run the pre-sale period for two months, just to get more people reading with the hopes of gaining more early reviews. I think we’ve done a good job with getting reviews. While they cannot post their reviews on Amazon until the book is officially launched, our hope is that these reviews will go up within the first couple of days, strengthening our position on Amazon’s ever-elusive algorithm.

Which is the reason for a pre-order period in the first place, right? The Amazon algorithm. If you are an indie author putting a book on pre-order, chances are that you’ve heard it creates a spike for your first day sales on Amazon, which is a huge benefit for visibility.

Add to that, any reviews that you can get beforehand, and there is hope. Although, I have heard from two authors that have listed new releases on Amazon over the last month say that it didn’t create that spike for them. These are deeply troubling comments, since they would make the pre-order moot, in my opinion. I’m not sure if their pre-order sales were too low to make a big difference, or if Amazon has simply changed their policy, but we’re going to find out soon.

In short, we are utilizing the pre-order period to get more reviews and sales before launch day.

 

Bloggers

Contacting bloggers is an important part of our strategy. What we asked from bloggers was to either give us a review, a guest post, an interview, or a spotlight. My inquiry went out to five hundred bloggers. From that, I had a 10% positive response. That is to say, nearly fifty bloggers were willing to review, post, etc. I feel that was a pretty good response. Most of these posts will be put up during the month leading up to the launch with a few going up during the first week.

While I was happy that there were so many willing participants, there is a caveat: working with this many bloggers at once is a lot of work and keeping all the information straight is difficult. Be ready for a lot of work!

 

Giveaway

One of the problems with pre-ordering a book is the wait. Who really wants to wait a month to read something, especially when there are millions of other choices out there? I had to create urgency. Urgency in a pre-order can be created by giving stuff away that won’t be there after the book is available. What we have done, is create a tiered giveaway. Everyone gets something, but others can win bigger prizes.

So, here is what our giveaway looks like: Pre-order a copy of The Pacifist, submit your proof of purchase, and get a free digital copy of Mehreen’s Snapshots. Plus, you’ll be entered to win Amazon gift cards, Cosmic Teapot sling backpacks, and Cosmic Teapot Bookmarks. Here is what the giveaway page looks like, if you want to see it: http://www.cosmicteapot.net/mehreen-ahmed/the-pacifist-contest-details.

To help promote the giveaway, we’ll mention it anywhere that we can think of and run a few Facebook ads. Word of mouth will be important, if this is going to be successful.

The total cost for running this promo will end up being about $175.

 

Amazon Followers

I would also like to bump up the number of Amazon followers that Mehreen has during the launch period. In order to do that, I will use the Amazon giveaway tool with the stipulation that entrants must follower her. I’ll most likely do three giveaways and hope that this will result in about 1500 Amazon followers. This should translate into 1500 direct emails to potential customers from Amazon during launch week. At least in theory. The Amazon giveaway tool seems to be very helpful, if utilized properly.

 

Launch Week

During launch week, we’re hoping for a few things. The first, and most obvious, is that we rank relatively high during that week. We are in historical fiction categories, which are fiercely competitive. Still, it would be nice to come in somewhere in the top 20 of one major category, for the sake of visibility. If we are able to market the pre-sale well, I believe it is possible.

Second, we have stacked several promotional newsletters on top of each other, starting on launch day. Currently we have about twenty of these promotions stacked over a seven day period. I want to get ten more before the week begins. This should give us a good shot at ranking high.

Aside from the promotional newsletters, I will set up four or five different Amazon ads, the book will go through my newsletter, and we will use social media to bump more traffic in our direction.

To be clear, at $0.99, I do not expect to turn a profit during the first week. This week is an attempt to drive sales high enough to get Amazon’s attention, so that they recommend the book, put it on any of their “hot” lists and to hopefully have a lasting impact on their algorithm. I do believe that this is possible.

The Pacifist is a quality product and that is more important than anything that can be done promotion-wise. Still, good books go unnoticed all the time. My job here is to make sure that it has a shot in getting recognized amongst the other one million titles that will be publisher this year. And if we’re successful, moving forward with a solid plan in place will be much easier.

 

The Pacifist Blurb

Blurb: In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.

During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit; however, he fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter?

Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.

 

The Pacifist is Available at:

Amazon

Smashwords

Kobo

iTunes

B&N

 

 

 

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.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-2-07-25-pm

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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