Category Archives: Book Marketing

Using the Tao of Twitter for Book Marketing

The Tao of Twitter
Photo from Amazon

If you’re on Twitter, you know there are a lot of people there. And it’s pretty easy to make connections; people will seem to follow you out of the blue. Of course, many times they are just hoping you will follow them back. Then there’s all of that clutter. How do you stand out in the noise and actually connect with readers? The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer can help you with that.

The Tao of Twitter not only gives general advice about using Twitter, but also provides an action plan to get Twitterized in 20 minutes a day. You can easily apply this advice to book marketing.

On page 20, Mark says, “Twitter is about sharing content for humans, not search engines.” He advises linking to your blog posts so readers can find out more and see that you know what you’re talking about. He pushes “authentic helpfulness” above all, providing several examples of beneficial connections he’s made thanks to Twitter.

As the title suggests, Mark breaks his advice down into to three main “tao”s. Number one is to find your tribe. You can do this for your book by using keywords and phrases related to your book in your profile description. For example, if I had a strictly author Twitter account for Taming the Twisted, I would put something like “Author of American historical fiction set in the Midwest on the Mississippi River involving murder and romance.”

Tao number two is to offer meaningful content, which means sharing and posting things that are helpful, entertaining, enlightening, interesting, or a combination. Do not just post ads to your own books. It’s not that you can never talk about your book on Twitter, but follow something like a 10:1 rule: for every promotional tweet, post ten helpful, entertaining, etc. tweets.

Tao number three encourages authentic helpfulness. When you’re using Twitter, constantly be thinking about how you can provide value, right there on Twitter, but also offline and via other online avenues. For authors, think about how you can be authentically helpful to your readers.

Not only can you apply these three “tao”s to book marketing, you can also easily adapt Mark’s 20-minute daily plan. If you’re a beginner, for the first couple of months you’re on Twitter, spend 20 minutes each day tweeting an authentically helpful post once each day, finding and following people, and reading and responding to tweets. Continue this practice until you have “20 relevant followers.”

Once you have 20 or so followers, break up your 20 minutes throughout the day, retweeting things as they resonate with you and adding your own comments where you have real insight. You can also create lists to categorize those you’re following to make it easier to do this. Continue to delve into authentic helpfulness by retweeting, answering questions, and offering help. You can use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to spread out your tweets and get the mobile app so you can work on Twitter during down times.

Mark classifies you as a pro when you’ve hit 400 or more followers. When you get there, keep doing what your doing, continually striving for authentic helpfulness, experimenting, and building your lists.

These are the basics of The Tao of Twitter. The book also contains other helpful advice and tips, such as holding Twitter chats and ways to @mention to make sure your tweets are seen. To find that out, you’ll have to check out the book yourself.

Source: Schaefer, Mark. 2014. The Tao of Twitter, Revised and Expanded New Edition: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time. McGraw-Hill Education.

Author Spotlight: Poet Trisha Georgiou

Trisha Georgiou, fellow Midwest Writing Center board member, is set to release her latest poetry collection, A Bizarre Sentence, on December 9th at Read Local at 7 p.m. at the Bettendorf Public Library. A Bizarre Sentence is the latest title published by literary publisher 918studio, soon to be known as the selective subsidized publisher, 918studio Press, which incidentally, I have partnered with Lori Perkins to run. Independent of those relationships (though not unrelated), I asked Trisha to provide her insights about book marketing for this Author Spotlight edition.

Trisha has not had a formal, written marketing plan, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t given deliberate thought to book marketing. About her marketing, Trisha said, “Before A New Life was released, I had the opportunity to attend a writing workshop given by Hay House. It was through this workshop that I learned the difference between marketing your book and marketing your name. This has been my focus since. Instead of focusing on marketing my individual book titles, I shifted my energies to market my career as an author and poet. The goal for this shift in energy is to create a name or brand. Because my name remains a constant, it is easier to market as my titles increase. In essence, I am building a reader base so the sale of each title remains constant. In turn, with each new title released, this marketing approach provides more ‘news’ to help market myself.” This is a great point. Often, after our first book, we are just excited to get that out into the world and don’t stop to think about our long term branding goals.

Trisha believes that every writer of every genre must market their books. She said, “There are thousands of titles being published yearly from a variety of publishers and self-publishers. How do you entice people to buy your work, pick your book? Marketing is the key to selling books. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to have enough confidence in my work to get it out into the public. After a few successes and finding a niche, it became much easier. Writing is my passion. I am excited about the written word and promoting literary arts. It is through this excitement that begins conversations and opens doors to new opportunities.”

When asked if she has had any surprises while book marketing, Trisha said, “Every new experience, success and failure, is a learning opportunity. I have learned a great deal through my experiences and being a part of the writing community through the Midwest Writing Center. Marketing for me certainly has not been an exact science and I can’t say I have a natural talent. What has helped me is word of mouth. That has been my best advertising. When your readers are excited about your next title and you share their excitement, it is a great thing.”

Trisha hasn’t focused on marketing strategies or tactics other than attending a marketing workshop. Instead, she focuses on getting out in the public and sharing her passion. “I am not saying wear a neon sign with your book cover. When an opportunity naturally happens, take advantage of the moment. As an example, I volunteered to speak at book clubs. This has been a huge success for me. I not only sell the book we discuss but it also helps to build a readership.” Trisha has followed this passion-based approach to book marketing in her paid advertising as well, “I donated money for an ad benefiting a music program my children were involved in. The ad was placed within the concert notes which announced the release of Quartered Enlightenment. I received a lot of positive feedback and publicity, not only for the contribution to the children’s concert but advertising my career and upcoming book.” She warns that paid advertising is tricky and she isn’t sure she’ll ever solve the math proof to warrant it. “I believe there are advertising opportunities that exceptionally target your reader base. That is a very individual, case by case situation considering most books have a zero or limited advertising budget.”

In addition to building relationships and very selective advertising, Trisha uses social media to market herself as an author. She said, “I am just shocked how it has helped me and the contacts that I have made throughout the world for my books and freelance opportunities. In a cyber-second, hundreds of people can be reached globally with a snippet of insight about your latest work and upcoming events. Book titles are not frequent. Somehow the momentum needs to keep steaming ahead. Readers need to get excited about your upcoming work. I think social media, freelance publishing, and blogs are essential to maintain a following. I use most of the big social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”

I asked Trisha what advice she had for authors who are just embarking on the book marketing journey. She said, “This is a great question. I certainly do not consider myself an authority. What did take me time to discover is not everyone is going to like your work. In fact, some will really hate it. The sooner you can honestly be ok with that concept and gravitate to the niche you are writing about, it saves a lot of wheel spinning. If you are writing about knitting, target knitters, not necessarily readers. For example, a few years ago author Jennifer Chiaverini spoke at an MWC luncheon. She has a huge following with multiple books on best-selling lists. She writes stories relating to quilting. Who bought the most tickets to that luncheon? Was it writers or readers? Nope, it was quilters. Quartered Enlightenment and A New Life both have garden themes, targeting middle-aged women who like plants. It is this category where I focused my time and energy. I was invited to speak at garden clubs and books clubs, which again helped build my readership.” Trisha explained that marketing is essential and an author’s books are the extension of the author and advises that if authors find marketing difficult, they should invest in marketing services to help them get on the right track.

On the writing life in general, Trisha said, “Writing for me is a lot like breathing. You just have to do it. Writers look at the world so much differently. I am really thankful that I have been cursed with these writing glasses. Yet at the same time, it is difficult, heart-wrenching, soul searching, and absolutely chaotic. If it is a part of you, you do it.” Well said.

Trisha’s body of work includes My Name is A (1999), Quartered Enlightenment (PbPublishing, 2013), A New Life and other poems of Living Passion (918studio, 2014), and A Bizarre Sentence (918studio, December 2015). Learn more about Trisha and her books on her website at www.TrishaGeorgiou.com or read her TrishaGeorgiouHerWritingLife blog. Reserve your copy of A Bizarre Sentence at http://bit.ly/bizarresentence.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: LILLY SETTERDAHL

Lilly SetterdahlThis month I spotlight multi-published (mostly traditionally) non-fiction and fiction author, Lilly Setterdahl. Lilly’s latest book is a novel. The action in Second Love After 50 begins with a three-car accident in which Andrea is hurt. When the man who hit her car visits her and gives her flowers, she wonders if he is doing it because he might be made liable. Andrea is attracted to him but she has two other men visiting her, one of whom appears to be in love with her, and the other who is a hot, live wire that she is afraid to touch.

Since publishing her first book in 1981, Lilly says her attitude towards book marketing has changed. “In the beginning of my writing career, I wrote research articles that were published in Swedish and Swedish-American papers and magazines and gave me name recognition. For my first non-fiction books, I depended on the publisher for marketing.  Gradually, I began to give talks and book signings. I consigned books to gift shops and independent bookstores but didn’t always get paid. Now, I sell them outright to those outlets. At one time, I was paid to write one large research book, which took me five years.”

As you will see in her list of publications below, many of Lilly’s works cover Swedish heritage. Lilly has been interviewed in local and Swedish papers, gave numerous presentations in Sweden, and appeared locally on Augustana radio and the Paula Sands Live television shows. She sends press releases to Swedish-American periodicals, which has resulted in book announcements and reviews. “My nonfiction books always result in requests for review copies, and I can expect professional reviews to appear in quarterly magazines. Other than that, I rely mostly on sending out emails, the social media, and Amazon.com to market my books.  Many of my books are available on Amazon sites around the world.”

Lilly relates that she’d rather spend her time writing and she hates book marketing. She has been surprised that organizations have sought her out as a speaker, thus discovering a talent for speaking to audiences she didn’t know she had.

When asked what book marketing tactics have worked best for her, Lilly said, “Of the marketing I’ve been doing, I think that personal contacts work the best, talks with book signings to the right audience. The individual approach has potential (doctors, hairdressers, exercise friends, etc.).  Recently, I’ve created an author’s page on Amazon.com, and I have yet to find out how productive it will be. I also made a video that I uploaded to YouTube and posted on various sites. I like self-publishing with independent online publishers because it gives me control and a decent return. It also gives me free listings on worldwide Amazon.com sites. For me, it’s very important to have my books available on Amazon sites in Europe, and that is seldom possible with traditional publishers.”

Lilly hasn’t used any paid advertising to market her books, but she has used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube as well as Amazon’s author page feature. When asked what advice she’d give to those new to book marketing, Lilly said, “My advice to new authors is to hustle your book yourself the best you can, but also to use social media and the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon.com. Try to get your readers to post reviews. Avoid paying to get published. It is possible to self-publish without paying a cent if you can do all the formatting and electronic submissions yourself. Always set your book price as low as possible. It’s better to sell more books at a low price than fewer books at a high price.”

Her final thoughts for you? “Writing, formatting, and marketing books can be a full-time job. One has to allow much time to the learning process, and there is always something new to learn. Proofreading is another time-consuming task. As a retiree, I devote almost all my time to writing and everything else associated with producing books.”

Learn more about Lilly and her books on her website, her Amazon author page, or her Google website.

Lilly’s complete list of titles:

Nonfiction:

Swedish-American Newspapers: A Guide to the microfilms held by Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center, Traditional, 1981.

Bror Johansson’s Chicago (Lennart Setterdahl, coauthor). Traditional, 1985.

A Pioneer Lutheran Ministry: L. P. Esbjorn and his Family in Andover, Illinois. Traditional, 1988.

Memories Preserved: The Inventing Bostroms and Guide to Interviews with Swedish Americans. Traditional, 1988.

Memories Preserved, Vol. II. Scandinavians in Alabama and Gude to Interviews with Swedish Americans. Traditional, 1992.

A Century of Song: American Union of Swedish Singers 1892-1992. Traditional, 1992.

Rockford Swedes: American Stories. Niel M. Johnson, coauthor. Traditional, 1993.

Minnesota Swedes: The Emgration From Trolle Ljungby To Goodhue County 1855-1912. Traditional, 1996. Second edition revised published as a printed book and for Kindle by Self, 2015.

Minnesota Swedes, Volume II: Trolle Ljungby Families in Goodhue County 1855-1912. Traditional and Self, 1999.

I Emigranternas spår: Människor vi mött, 1959-1995. Traditional and Self, 2002.  (In Swedish)

Swedes in Moline, Illinois: 1847-2002. Traditional and Self, 2003.

Growing up in Sweden: In the Shadow of World War II. Self, 2008.

Chicago Swedes: They spoke from the heart (based on oral histories by Lennart Setterdahl), Self 2010.

Not my time to die: Titanic and the Swedes on board. Traditional, 2012.

True Immigrant Stories: The Swedes of Cleveland, Ohio, 1873-2013. Traditional, 2014.

Historical Fiction:

Maiden of the Titanic. Traditional, 2007.

Hero of the Titanic.  Traditional, 2011.

General Fiction:

Second Love After 50, Self, 2015.

Finding Self & Indie Published Friendly Book Reviewers

book reviewAn edited version of this post original appeared on the Book Marketing Tools website in March, 2015 (click here to view it).

When you ventured into the author world, you likely pictured reading a glowing review of your book in a major publication. At some point after publishing your e-book on your own, reality set in: the big reviewers will not accept self-published books. Part of it is because of the poor-quality reputation that self-published books is slowly eroding. Part of it is logistics – limiting submissions to traditionally published books is a good way to reduce the volume to deal with. But, a review is still a credible way to make people aware of your book and get them interested in it. It’s also inexpensive, often only costing time, a book copy, and maybe some postage. As with a lot of aspects of self-publishing, it just takes a bit more work and creativity.

Self-Publishing/Indie Friendly Review Sites

Independent Publisher (http://www.independentpublisher.com) states “we review these books to bring increased recognition to the thousands of great – and often overlooked – independently published titles released each year.” To access current guidelines, click “How we choose books for review” under the “Review” tab on its website.

Midwest Book Review (http://www.midwestbookreview.com) states on its website that it “gives priority consideration to small publishers, self-published authors … whenever possible.” Check their website for current requirements.

Use Goodreads

Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com) is not only a great place to connect with readers, but it also offers several promotional options for authors. Once you sign up for an author account, make sure your book is listed; if it isn’t, you can manually add it. This will make it available for users to add it to their virtual bookshelves, rate, and review it. If your book is newer, hold a giveaway; winners are encouraged by Goodreads to review the books they win. The more you participate in group discussions and in shelving, rating, and reviewing books you read, the more exposure you get for yourself and your books, making receiving reviews more likely.

Keyword Research

Search your book’s genre and the phrases “e-book review” or “e-book reviewer.” Also try “e-book review blog,” “free e-book reviews,” “self-published e-book review,” and “independent e-book review” along with various plural and synonym combinations. Visit some of them to see if any of the reviewed books are by self-published authors and if your book might fit in. Check their review submission guidelines and give it a try. If all else fails, contact the site administrator to ask if they review self-published e-books. You can find website statistics at Alexa.com to determine potential exposure for any review. Be sure to also ask if they cross-post their review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Stamps of Approval

Groups that provide a designation or stamp of approval may not review your book, but at least they provide some validity and statement that your book meets some minimum quality standard. IndiePENdents (http://www.indiependents.org) offers the IndiePENdents seal. After becoming a member, you can submit your book. If you receive the seal, they will send you stickers to place on your book covers. Brag Medallian (http://www.bragmedallion.com) is a similar program; it used to be free but now they charge a $20 fee which covers the cost of buying the e-book and other expenses. Evaluators may choose to post a review on their own.

Think Local

Local publications are much more likely to be hungry for material; the less populous your area, the better. Browse several newspapers and magazines to see if they include any book reviews; then research their website or contact them to inquire about submitting your book for review. Don’t limit yourself to your own city; check publications for less populated areas in your state or neighboring states, too. Publications may not have a reviewer on staff but accept freelance-written reviews so you may need to contact review authors directly to ask about submitting your work for review.

Tip

Submitting books for reviews is like querying and submitting to agents and publishers. Make sure you book fits in with others they’ve reviewed and follow the guidelines exactly. Like agents and publishers, reviewers regularly receive numerous submissions so you don’t want to give them a reason to reject your book before reading it.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: POET SANDRA MARCHETTI

sandra marchettiYou do not have to be a non-fiction or novel author to successfully market books. To prove it, this month’s Author’s Spotlight features Chicagoland poet Sandra Marchetti. Sandra currently has published three books, with a fourth forthcoming, in creative nonfiction and poetry: “The Canopy, published in 2012 with MWC Press, is a short chapbook of poems about the Midwest, particularly the environment and weather. A Detail in the Landscape, published in 2014 with Eating Dog Press, is a limited letterpress, illustrated edition of poems and micro-essays about how one locates him or herself into the environment. My debut full-length collection of poems, Confluence, was just released with Sundress Publications in April 2015. This is a longer book of poems that traces a long distance love story of both people and place. My fourth book, co-authored with Allie Marini, Les Kay, and Janeen Rastall, is Heart Radicals, and is due out with ELJ Publications in February 2016. This is a chapbook of love poems from various perspectives.”

Sandra’s book marketing plan consists of a few Word documents and Excel spreadsheets to track sales and to-do list items. When a new book comes out, Sandra said, “My attention focuses on a few major categories: getting reviews, doing interviews, setting up book tour dates and local readings, and sending out press releases.”

Marchetti ConfluenceThe strategy with which Sandra has approached book marketing has changed with each title. She said, “Each publisher’s approach to promotion is different, which in turn changes my approach. Also, the audience for each book is slightly different, which shifts my strategy. Midwest Writing Center marketed The Canopy well in the Quad Cities’ local media, and they also helped me to find blurbs and set up a few readings. I made sure a press release went out to local papers in Chicagoland, and I sent out review copies to friends. I set up a few readings in support of the book, and added on as necessary for a few years. Detail was a limited edition press run, which was mostly sold out before the book had even shipped. I set up just a few readings to support the book and didn’t bother much with reviews, simply because I had no physical review copies to send out. Confluence has been the object of my biggest marketing push–I set up a national book tour to promote it this summer, with readings all across the country. So far, I’ve done over 20 readings and events in support of the book, which launched in April. I also sent out about 40 review copies to specific reviewers and we’ve already seen about 10 reviews printed and sold a few hundred books. Of course, a great social media presence is also essential!”

Sandra admits that she loves the marketing part of being an author; in her experience, this is unlike most writers. She enjoys scheming about strategy with her husband, who holds a marketing and business degree, and her father, who worked as a sales director for 35 years. “I enjoy promoting the book on social media, participating in readings, and lining up reviews. It can be time consuming, and if I give a reading and sell no books, that can be disheartening. It’s all about finding one’s audience. If you hate marketing, it’s probably because you are thinking about it the wrong way. I don’t think of myself as a salesperson. I think of myself as a writer desperately trying to connect with her readers. My readers are out there, but we won’t meet unless I make sure to go out and find them. So, that’s the fun part.”

When asked what has surprised her about book marketing, Sandra mentioned the help being a good performer and live reader provides. “Once folks hear my poems aloud they seem much more likely to buy a copy of the book. It also helps to have conversations with folks at events. Sit down and find a point of contact with a potential reader. I am an extroverted person by nature, but doing events can be exhausting and I find I do need downtime after a long string of events right in a row.”

The book marketing techniques Sandra has found the most helpful have been those that are the most personal. She interacts with her fans mostly through social media and in person. She advises getting someone else to help you sell copies if you can and gives the example of her publisher who is always posting new work, reviews, and interviews to its social media pages so she’s not always the only person doing the talking. She also recommends partnering with other authors for promotions and doing giveaways on Goodreads and other social media platforms. She said, “The key is to follow up after posting something initially. Ask questions and respond to folks’ comments. Be interactive.”

In addition to giveaways, Sandra also uses social media extensively elsewhere to connect with readers: “I use Facebook and Twitter to promote, along with Goodreads. When I post, I am enthusiastic about my own work. I try to promote professionally and double and triple check my posts for typos. I make sure to tag folks involved in posts so that they can share them/retweet the message. I try to post when themes that relate to my projects are in the news, or at times of day when I know social media waves are cresting. Lately, I’ve had success posting on Facebook late at night, so it’s the first post folks see in the morning. I tweet between nine and five. Facebook is a great place to interact with fans; Twitter is great for getting the word out to a larger audience you might not be aware existed.”

Sandra hasn’t used any paid advertising for book marketing. Instead, she said, “I do exchange services quite a bit with other authors and outlets. For example, I wanted a professional press kit and sales sheets made for Confluence, but my publisher wasn’t in the habit of producing these. I knew a woman who was starting a PR business for authors and needed some ‘guinea pigs’ to test out her services. So, in exchange for some feedback on her work, she made the documents free of charge. Also, I write quite a few book reviews, and wrote even more than usual the year before my last book was released. Then, when I asked folks to write reviews for me, or to run reviews at their outlets, they were much more receptive.”

When asked what advice she’d have for authors about ready to publish their first books, Sandra said, “Be excited about your accomplishment and don’t be scared to toot your own horn! You worked hard and you deserve to revel in your accomplishment and share it with others. Get out there, to the best of your ability, and shine. Do readings, contact other local authors and put together events, throw a cheap book launch party (even in your home!) and have fun. In the end, be grateful for every reader. If a handful of people read your book, it’s a success–that’s what we’re all in this for, right? Own your promotion and don’t be ashamed to get out there, celebrate yourself, and sell some books!” Great advice! If you aren’t excited about your book, it’s difficult to expect others to be.

Click here to learn more about Sandra on her Poets & Writers page. Click here to purchase The Canopy or Confluence. And, finally, click here to find out how Sandra can help you with her writing services.

How to Use Facebook Groups to “Sell” Books

An edited version of this post originally appeared on the Book Marketing Tools website in February 2015 (click here to view it).

“Sell” in the title is in quotes because you do not actually sell with Facebook groups – you build relationships, which sometimes lead to sales. See how:

Photo by Sean MacEntee, flickr creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5684115572/
Photo by Sean MacEntee, flickr creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5684115572/

One of the best ways to promote your book online is on Facebook with its millions of users. You’ve probably done some of that work. Your Facebook friends and family all know about it. Maybe you even ran a Facebook ad and gained some new likes. But those new likes haven’t translated into many sales.

You’ve likely heard at least a little about Facebook groups. You’ve searched and found some, but all of them have strict rules about not promoting books. Plus, these groups are for other writers. You need readers.

Many authors find themselves in the same book marketing quandary of needing to attract readers but seeming to be only able to attract other writers. Connecting with other authors is great; most authors are also readers, but they can’t possibly purchase every book written by their author-friends.

So what do you do?

Get Your Page Ready

Because people like to connect with real people, it’s better to use a human profile when participating in groups. This could be your author page or your personal Facebook persona, rather than your book page. If you use your personal Facebook page, make sure your identity as an author is clear. For example, you can list “Author” or “Author of ….” as your subtitle and include it in your description.

Be Selective

When a public group you’re considering joining consists mostly of ads, promos, or links to outside blog posts, click away and keep looking. If you get accepted into a closed group and find their participation excessively ad-heavy, leave. (It happens, even when the group dictates “no ads,” showing a lack of participation by the group’s administrator and a group gone rogue.)

When considering a group, look for conversations and engagement. How many posts have several comments discussing a topic? How many are tackling substantive topics? How kindly does everyone treat each other? Is there a lot of negativity or mostly positive attitudes, encouragement, and support?

Think Outside the Author Box

Think beyond groups about writing, publishing, and book marketing. Those are good but think about the other topics in your book. If it’s a non-fiction book, this will be easy. If it’s fiction, you need to be a bit more creative. If it’s historical, look for groups covering your time period. If it involves an animal, join that animal-lover group.

When searching for genre-based groups, make sure to search for the keyword “reader” – like “mystery readers.” If you can’t tell, request to join and try it out. You can always un-join later. Most groups on Facebook are trying to grow so they welcome most everyone, but some tight-knit groups might not accept your request. That’s okay. Just keep searching. New groups pop up every day.

Be Subtle and Engage

When browsing a group, comment where you can add true value. Answer questions. Give encouragement. Share your experience. Have real conversations and build friendships. If it’s pertinent to your reply, mention that you are the author of such-and-such book or that you’ve done research on this or that while writing your book.

Keep the mindset that you’re making connections and having conversations, not selling books. Be real and authentic. After you feel comfortable and participate in a few conversations started by others, try starting your own. Post something that invites response. Ask a question. Whatever you do, make sure it relates to the group’s stated mission.

Seize Opportunities

Though as a rule, it’s not okay to be salesy and obviously promotional in Facebook groups, it is okay to speak up if someone provides an opening. Someday, someone might post the question, “Anybody know of any good novels featuring xyz?” Go ahead. Tell them about your book and include a link to the buying page.

When you connect well with someone, try to take the relationship outside of the group. Start a conversation through private messaging or meet on Skype. See if you can become regular Facebook friends, follow each other on Twitter or connect on Linked In where you are allowed to (and expected to, at least some of the time) announce new releases, reviews, and blog posts.

When using Facebook to promote your book, remember that it is called social media for a reason. It’s not sales media. Just remember the goal is to have conversations and gain connections. Eventually, you’ll build awareness about you as an author and your books, increasing sales. Plus, you’ll make some new friends in the process.

The 5 Ps of Book Marketing

4PsWith this post, I’m getting back to the basic basics of book marketing: the 4 Ps of product, price, place, and promotion. All of these Ps, along with a huge 5th P factor, are important to consider when book marketing.

PEOPLE

The 5th P is a huge one: PEOPLE. Not only are people involved in every aspect of book marketing, but they are also the wild card. They can be unpredictable and you can do everything right with the other 4 Ps and still not convince enough people to buy.

PRODUCT

The product in book marketing is your book. It needs to be the best product it can be, including the story/topic, writing, grammar, punctuation, cover, weight, paper, etc. It could be argued that the Product P is the most important because if it isn’t top notch, no amount of price, place, and promotion is going to sell it. Above all, you need to produce the product that your readers (people) expect and want.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you are fully considering people when developing your product:

1) What does your target reader want in a book like yours?
2) How many errors are they willing to tolerate?
3) What kind of cover will catch their attention?
4) How large will they want the print and what kind of interior will give them the best reading experience?
5) If you’re marketing your book as being in a narrowly defined genre, are you delivering on that promise?
6) Will your ideal reader prefer print, e-book, or both or either?
7) Does your ideal reader prefer long books or short books?
8) What benefit does your book provide?
9) Go back to every decision you made about your book’s content, revision, editing, interior formatting, cover, and publishing; do they align with what your ideal reader expects, wants, and find value in?

PLACE

In book marketing, place is another word for distribution; it’s where you will sell your book. You can sell your book online, at brick and mortar bookstores, various vendor fairs, or from the trunk of your car. Above all, you need to sell your book where your readers (people) buy books like yours.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you are fully considering people when deciding where to sell your books:

1) Where does your ideal reader hang out online and in person?
2) Where do they buy books?
3) Where does he/she shop in general?
4) Is your book available for sale at these locations?

PRICE

Price is how much you will charge for your book but also encompasses determining if readers (people) will pay that price. If you traditionally publish, you will likely have no control over the pricing, but you might be able to offer discounts on direct sales, depending on your margin. With self-publishing, you generally have a minimum you must charge but have a lot of flexibility after that. Plus, author copies can be inexpensive, allowing you to offer even deeper discounts.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you are fully considering people when deciding the price for your book:

1) Where will they see value?
2) What price can they afford?
3) Where will they think they’re getting a bargain?

PROMOTION

Usually, when people talk about book marketing, what they are really talking about is promotion, which is figuring out how to tell people about your book. It’s all of the social media activities, personal appearances, blog tours, media outreach, and paid advertising, among a whole host of other things you can do to market your book. Above all, you have to promote your book to readers (people) in a way that will get their attention and convince them to buy.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you are fully considering people when deciding how to promote your book:

1) What will you say?
2) How will you say it?
3) Where will you say it?
4) How will you get their attention?
4) Where is the best place to put your messages?

You may get discouraged thinking about all of this, but try not to. Considering all of these 5 Ps will not guarantee a bestseller but it will give your book the best chance.

Have any other thoughts on one or more of the Ps? Feel free to contact me .

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: JON RIPSLINGER – YOUNG ADULT NOVELIST

Jon Ripslinger

This month I’m spotlighting Jon Ripslinger, former teacher and author of eight young adult novels published over a span of 21 years, all featuring 17 to 18-year-old protagonists.

Though he’s marketed his more recent books, Jon has had no formal, written book marketing plan. He’s seen firsthand the changes in marketing in the publishing world. For his first three books, the publisher handled all of the marketing and Jon wasn’t asked to do anything. However, he said, “Now, I’m expected to be deep into marketing on social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads, and I have a blog, all of which was unheard of when I started out writing in the 1990s.”

Jon views book marketing as a necessary chore; he dislikes it but the publisher expects him to do it. He said, “I find it difficult, and worse than that, marketing on social media takes a great deal of time away from my creative efforts. Some days I spend all my time working social media and none on a new novel or short story.”

TWOG JonThe time book marketing takes and how it’s shifted his priorities have surprised Jon as his publishing career has progressed. “When I was writing in the late 1990s, I spent all my writing time on writing. Every day at the computer, working on a rough draft, the next day editing what I’d written the day before, then pushing on with the script. Not anymore. Working on my blog and social media sites comes first, then comes working on a script—if I have time. Having said that, let me add this: For my most recent novel, The Weight of Guilt, Red Adept Publishing at no cost to me provided me with a content editor, a line editor, and two proofreaders. The publisher also provided at no cost to me the book’s cover and back-cover text. I get 50 percent of the profits. So I believe the publisher has every right to expect me to work hard marketing wherever and whenever I can.”

Jon has found the most marketing success in social media, in part thanks to his over 500 friends, many of whom are former students from when he taught English at Davenport West High School for 33 years. He maintains a “One-minute Romance” blog which features, so far, 104 approximately 800-word long short romance stories. The blog has received nearly 17,000 hits; Jon expects 20,000 hits by the end of 2015. He’s had successful book signings, too, selling 30 to 40 books at each of his seven at the Davenport, Iowa, Barnes and Noble. He’s found Twitter the least successful: “Most of my fellow twitterers are authors but strangers who, like me, are simply hawking their books, though I try to provide advice about writing in 140 characters or less.” Jon has not yet tried paid advertising but said he will consider some future Facebook or Twitter ads.

For his latest book, The Weight of Guilt published by Red Adept Publishing, the house arranged a blog tour during May and the first week of June. He said, “The tour features 17 book bloggers who have agreed to join in and highlight posts about TWOG. Some bloggers simply spotlight the book by posting a short bio of me and the book’s first chapter; some have interviewed me; some have asked me for guest posts; some have read the book and posted four- and five-star reviews, which is very encouraging, since the reviews are also posted on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and more. I have found the blog-tour strategy very successful for creating a buzz about the book. It’ll take a while before I find out if the buzz results in sales.”

Jon finds inspiration from posters that have hung in his writing room at home for over 30 years that state “Miracles happen only to those who believe in them,” and “Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” Great advice on their own, but Jon also offers this advice for other recent or soon-to-be published authors: “Establish yourself on social media immediately and be prepared to spend a lot of time on your chosen sites. Study what successful writers have done on these sites. If you can, be unique. Traditional publishers might hesitate to publish your book, regardless of how good it is, how well written, unless you can prove you’re ready, willing, and able to promote yourself and your book. Self-promotion is expected of you. It’s now part of your job as an author.”

Click on the title of each book below to learn more from Amazon. The books are also available at other national and local book retailers.

The Weight of Guilt, 2015, Red Adept Publishing. Two girls John Hawk dates die violently. Suffering from terrible feelings of guilt and believing his life is cursed, John is accused of rape and murder.

Who is Lori Darling, 2013, Martin Brown Publishing. Carl Mueller discovers the girl he’s madly in love with has been and is being sexually molested by her father—since she was ten years old.

Missing Pieces, 2012, Martin Brown Publishing. Kyle Donavan suspects his dad killed his mom, dismembered her with a chainsaw, and sank the pieces into the Mississippi. River.

The Hustle, 2010, Martin Brown Publishing. Five-foot-one Sean Duffy, a one-eyed pool player, falls in love with six-foot Mary Jo Moon and wins her love be defeating her abusive, former boyfriend in a violent game of nine ball.

Last Kiss, 2007, Llewellyn World Wide.  Billy O’Reily makes love with his girlfriend in her bedroom for a final time—she breaks up with him—and the next morning she’s found dead.

Derailed, 2006, Llewellyn World Wide. Wendell Stoneking’s girlfriend is a single mom, a senior in high school, and when her psycho ex-boyfriend kidnaps their son, Wendell is forced to risk his life before the psycho rapes Robyn and kills Tyler.

How I Fell in Love & Learned to Shoot Free Throws, 2003, Roaring Brook Press. Danny Henderson’s girlfriend, a new girl in school, breaks up with him and goes into hiding, fearing bullying, when he discovers she’s a test-tube baby with two moms, and she’s afraid he’ll tell everyone.

Triangle, 1994, Harcourt Brace.  Best friends since grade school, Darin and Jeremy fall in love with the same girl. And one of them has made her pregnant.

DUCT TAPE (Book) SELLING by John Jantsch

Confession time. Yes, you love writing. You love it when your words touch just one reader. And having a bunch of positive reviews is better than having a ton of sales. But admit it, earning at least enough money from your books to live comfortably so you can do nothing else other than write more books IS your ultimate dream. Isn’t it?

If it is (it’s mine), you have to accept the fact, at some point, that you are a salesperson in your book marketing. And you have to sell many things, but ultimately, you have to sell your books. Duct Tape Selling: Think  Like a Marketer – Sell Like a Superstar by John Jantsch (also the author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine) isn’t about book marketing, but there’s plenty of helpful advice for marketing books.

Build a Community

For an author, you can think of building a community like building a platform, a group of people who like you, your ideas, and/or your writing who are most likely to buy your books. Think about the seven touchpoints Jantsch talks about in the context of your book: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat (other books), and refer.

Lead Defining

Jantsch says that lead defining “is done most profitably when you can define an ideal prospect’s particular behaviors” (p. 34). Define your ideal readers as narrowly as possible so you know where to find them and what to say to get them to pick up your book.

Content Building

Duct Tape Selling‘s advice about building a general platform is also pertinent to building an author platform. You can do this by blogging consistently without worrying about the number of readers because you’re looking to build a presence; podcasting; and collecting emails by trading something free. Jantsch says, “Sharing content is a great way to engage your buyers. Read what your buyers read and share that content across your social networks” (p. 139).

Write Every Day

I love the part of the book (p. 119) where Jantsch sings the praises of writing every day. There are seven great reasons to write every day, but here are my two thoughts on a couple that are especially good for authors:

#1 – To be a better salesperson. It helps you as an author to talk about your books, but it also helps you to improve your product (book).

#7 – To establish a name. Maybe someone will see your book, think “Hey, they write on that blog,” and buy it.

If you are at all interested in the broader picture of marketing books, I recommend Duct Tape Selling. If you are an author into the book selling game for the long haul (i.e. you want it to be your career), I strongly recommend it.

Have you read Duct Tape Selling or any of John Jantsch’s other books? I’d love to hear your thoughts on tips to apply to book marketing. Just put them in the comments section below. Or contact me…

REVIEW – How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

Photo from Amazon

I’ve been receiving Joanna Penn’s emails directing me to her helpful blog posts about writing and book marketing for at least of couple of years now. So when I started to dig into planning to market my next book, Taming the Twisted, I purchased a few of her book marketing and writing business books. The first one I read is titled simply, How to Market a Book.

If you know Joanna from reading her blog, you will love this book. It has the same conversational, friendly, open, and honest voice that it has. The book is divided into sections so that the reader can easily find and read what he or she needs to know right now. It includes information on the basics with book marketing fundamentals as well as clear, step-by-step how-tos covering specific tactics.

How to Market a Book has solutions for you whether you need to do something to boost sales just for now or to increase reach for the long haul. I also liked that the book contains up-to-date information, which is invaluable in the ever-changing book marketing world. She covers social media, audio books, podcasting, video, and book trailers, which were non-existent not too long ago, as well as information on more traditional book marketing options like press releases, reviews, and traditional advertising media.

In addition to the practical advice, what I really enjoyed was the underlying story about Joanna’s life as an author. She talks about how she manages her fiction-writing life along with her entrepreneurial life, balancing and marketing them both. This resonated with me because of my varying personalities: fiction and poetry writer (visit jodietoohey.com for more info), business and copywriter (wordsywoman.com), and author services provider (right here at wordsywomanforauthors.com). Sometimes I think I’m crazy having so many different personalities, but Joanna gave me hope that it can be done, and successfully, which would make for a fun and rewarding career.

How to Market a Book by Joanna Pen can be purchased on Amazon (click here) as well as other online retailers, I’m sure. (P.S. I’m not an affiliate of either Amazon or Joanna Penn – I recommend her book for no other reason than it’s that good.)

I’m doing a major study blitz to find out all of the latest tools for book marketing, so if you have a resource or book you recommend, please share in the comment section below.