Stop Demanding Attention And Start Earning It

6 January 2017

From Medium:

You aren’t entitled to a single reader. You aren’t entitled to a single customer, viewer, audience member or anything else. As a creative, you are doing creative work in the hope that people will consume it.

But you can’t demand their attention. The people with the potential to enjoy what you do are busy. They’re distracted. They have a hundred things they could be doing at any given moment.

They could be using your competitor’s app or reading your peers’ blogs.

They could be taking photos, playing Mario, seeing their family, drinking a latte, eating chips, listening to Black Flag or searching for that one pizza place they visited 10 years ago and have never been able to find since.

So when you demand their attention, they don’t care. They don’t want to.

There’s enough out there for them to worry about as it is.

. . . .

Which means the default position of your audience is to honestly not care about giving you any attention at all. It’s easier for them.

This isn’t a bad thing! This isn’t a disaster for you. This isn’t negative.

What it means is that you have to change your tactics.

You have to earn. You have to earn attention.

You earn attention by focusing on what your audience want, what they need, what they don’t even know they’re searching for. You research. You offer quality. You create your best work.

You create your best work at all times.

Link to the rest at Medium

I’m no longer in Kindle Unlimited!

5 January 2017

From author and TPV regular Randall Wood:


In more ways than one.

Let me explain. Three months ago I tried an experiment. I pulled my books from all the other vendors and went all-in with Amazons KU program. I was following the advice of many that had gone before me and decided to give it a try to see if I could emulate their success there. It was a decision I thought about long and hard, but in the end I decided was worth the 90-day commitment.

I was wrong.

Entering KU was initially a positive. I saw a nice jump in sales, and page-reads were at a level that had me on track for a 30% increase over my average monthly income. Not as good as I had been told to expect, but not bad either.

Then, Amazon happened.

One of my biggest problems with Amazons KU program was its lack of transparency. Amazon shares little to no information on the program with its authors and is anything but clear as to how it really runs. They also have you over a barrel from day one as they can make changes to the program at anytime and without warning. As they did so right around the time I entered it. Was my timing bad, or was I simply a victim of bad luck? I’d say both. But being at Amazons mercy was my first mistake.

Right around the time I entered KU they made a change to the algorithm. This is not something they do that often, it’s a constantly evolving program and we expect it to be tweaked from time to time, but this was a major change. I heard from friends making six figures telling me they were suddenly down by up to 30%. Some even more. A few had lost income in the neighborhood of 90%. In other words, career ending losses.

. . . .

My initial upward spike quickly turned into a long slide down. I’ll spare you the details and just say that by the time the ninety-day commitment was over I was pulling down the same numbers as I had been when I was wide. And that was with my first book Closure being offered FREE. (I’d been forced to put a price of $2.99 on it to justify going onto KU)

So, lesson learned. KU is as bad a deal as I thought it would be. While I may have gained a few readers that I might not have reached the old way, it just wasn’t worth it to be exclusive to Amazon.

. . . .

I’d heard stories of books getting a drop in ranking, or a slow turn-around when coming out of KU, or even a period of time-stoppage where the book sold nothing and sat as if frozen for a few days only to have a sudden spike before returning to normal. I got none of that. What I did get was something new.

My first book Closure has 1500 reviews on Amazons US website alone. 92% of these reviews are 4 star or above. One has 223 up-likes and has been the first review you see for years. Guess what’s at the top of the page now? That’s right, 1, 2, and 3 star reviews. I guess this is Amazons form of the doghouse. How long will it last? Who knows. But I can tell you this, it won’t change my mind about leaving KU. I should have trusted my instincts and business sense in the first place. If there was any chance of me trying KU again in the first place they’ve just made it harder for me to consider it. If anything, it’s made me even more determined to build a readership on the other platforms. I’ve seen battered wife syndrome while working as a paramedic, I certainly won’t let Amazon put me in that kind of relationship.

Link to the rest at Randall Wood

Here’s a link to Randall Wood’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Digital Day at Amazon

28 December 2016
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From Amazon:

Amazon Digital Day is the deal event for your devices. For one day only, get up to 50% off over a thousand TV shows, movies, music, apps, mobile games, eBooks and more. The savings start on Friday, December 30. Whether you’re gifting or receiving gadgets this year, this 24-hour sale is one of the best times of the year to shop for must-have digital content.

Link to the rest at Amazon

The 60 Best Book Covers of 2016, as Chosen by Designers

21 December 2016

From Literary Hub:

Today in “2016 was garbage but at least we had good ____,” we bring you: book covers. Because it’s true: this year, we had a healthy quantity of beautiful, inventive, arresting, unforgettable book cover designs, many of which deserve recognition. Now, of course, since it’s the end of the year, we are socially obligated to ask, but which were the very best? So I wondered: which were the very best? I know what looks good to my laywoman’s eye, but which were really marvelous and which simply pretty? To make sense of it all, I asked seventeen designers whose own work I have deeply admired to talk about their personal favorite book covers of 2016.

As might be expected, some of the artists I asked championed a few of the same book designs, so I feel comfortable saying that the very top three best book covers of the year are the following:

Cannibals in Love, designed by Na Kim (7 nods)
The Bed Moved, designed by Janet Hansen (5 nods)
The Mothers, designed by Rachel Willey (5 nods)

. . . .

Mike Roberts, Cannibals in Love, design by Na Kim

This jacket is one of the most perfect integrations of title and image I’ve ever seen. Every moment makes sense both intellectually and visually. It manages to be abstract and representational at the same time. But the main thing is I can’t stop staring at it, so not only is it a beautiful work of art, but it’s doing its job as a book cover. Genius!

. . . .

Rebecca Schiff, The Bed Moved, design by Janet Hansen

Simplicity in design can be a real battle, but designer Janet Hansen makes it look elementary with her design for The Bed Moved. Hansen manages to balance chaos and composition in such a way that the eye doesn’t at first detect the repeated letters. It’s a design triumph!

Link to the rest at Literary Hub

‘The Content Trap’ Is the Must-Read Book of the Year

18 December 2016

From Digital Book World:

A recent trip to a local brick-and-mortar bookstore helped me realize that even the best algorithms and email campaigns can’t replace in-person product discovery. On this trip, I noticed a book called The Content Trap sitting face-out on the shelf and couldn’t resist picking it up.

Great title. Intriguing outline. Normally I’d make a note to grab the ebook sample and consider buying it later. What I saw during my in-store flip test, however, convinced me I shouldn’t wait. So I made the unusual decision (for me) to buy the print copy, not the ebook.

As I walked out of the store, it dawned on me: despite all the daily book recommendation emails I get from Amazon and elsewhere, this one never hit my radar until I walked through that store. Actually, maybe one of those emails did mention it, but I never noticed because I receive so many book promo messages that they’ve turned into nothing more than inbox white noise. This seems to indicate the email marketing model could benefit dramatically from an overhaul.

. . . .

Here are a few of the more fascinating segments I’ve read so far:

The language for success in media, as in technology, is less and less about content and more and more about connections.

It’s striking how many digital media managers still think in terms of product appeal to individual customers rather than in terms of managing and exploiting connections. This is even more surprising in view of the fact that media consumption has always been inherently social.

Through its Marketplace, Amazon had shifted strategy from selling products to owning a platform. A similar “content versus platform” choice confronts many organizations today.

Superior products are great, but strategies that exploit connections are better.

Can we help readers to help each other? [That last question helped one publisher shift] from being important to being relevant, as one editor put it.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

PG says there is definitely a lot of bad email marketing, but there are also a lot of readers who no longer think about going to physical bookstores to find books.

Analyzing Why We Aren’t Selling as Much (As We’d Like)

16 December 2016

From author and TPV regular John Ellsworth:

Maybe Amazon changed the game this Fall and maybe it didn’t. Opinions are rampant. But this much I know, something has changed for me. At first I was frightened then angry and finally accepting. Now I’m on the other end, where I’m looking for steps I can take to reclaim what I had going before Amazon tweaked. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Maybe there’s a common denominator among us. Maybe there’s a key reason or two we’re not selling as much as we’d like. I’m not talking about getting picked up by APub or suddenly scoring a 7 figure trad deal. I’m talking about growing organic sales (word of mouth, “also bys” in back of books, mailing lists, etc) in the tried and proven way. The question I have is this: are those tried and proven ways still working for you? Some things I might do better to increase my sales:

1. Build my mailing list.
Action: I’m using Instafreebie right now and getting 10 or 15 signups a day. Not nearly as many as I’d like. How can I increase this?

2. Advertising.
Facebook: Not sure this even works anymore. It seems like I can spend $150 per day and sell 50 books or spend $0 per day and sell 50 books.
AMS: Almost useless for me. I don’t seem to have the grasp of it I need and I’m not finding good information on how to make it work.
Bookbub PPC: I have no way of telling whether I’m getting ROI that justifies. There is no data coming back.
Bookbub Deals: My last freebie giveaway on Tgiving day was a bust of sorts. Gave away maybe 25K books. The one before, in August, I gave away 57K. Still, that series is selling better than before the BB.
Action: as soon as BB denies my latest offering, I turn right around and try another deal. I change covers if a book keeps getting turned down over and over and I tell them so in the comments (optional) section of the deal application. This has worked for me.
Adwords: Does anyone really buy books from Adwords? I’m trying it but need to check figures and Express has no CPC like regular Adwords (tell me if this is wrong).

. . . .

4. Elevate to the niche above me. Right now my niche is thrillers > legal. What if I elevate my genre to just “thrillers”? Does this increase my market size? All it would take is to write not from the lawyer/courtroom angle and, presto, I’m writing “thrillers.” I believe I’ll be trying this in 2017 and see if my mailing list supports it. If not, I might need a new mailing list….

Link to the rest at John Ellsworth

Here’s a link to John Ellsworth’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Dealing with Spam

14 December 2016

This is a bit afield from the usual posts on TPV, but PG suspects he’s not the only one whose junk email volume has grown in recent weeks.

The author of the item below, with whom PG is well-acquainted, is an expert on internet marketing:

Pro tip from a former email marketer: if you get an email you don’t want and HATE the company/person that sent it, don’t delete it, don’t reply to it, don’t unsubscribe; instead, mark it as spam. There are 4 reasons to do this.

1. It’s functionally the same (to you) as unsubscribing. You won’t get any more emails from this company unless they’re idiotic because of reason #3. If you do, keep marking them as spam. Trust me.

2. Doing this will frequently get you put on the email equivalent of “do not call” lists that are often circulated (and honored) within the spammer community because of reason #3.

3. Generally speaking, if a company consistently gets more than 3-4 spam complaints per THOUSAND emails sent (roughly one third of one percent), their emails start going to junk for EVERYONE, not just you (until they pay to fix things, which also takes time). It’s a great way to stick it to the man and/or a clingy ex. Don’t worry about hurting the feelings or job security of an email marketer—as a profession, we’re a pretty soulless bunch and broadly speaking, most of us will burn in hell or have a change in heart/career path.

4. If an email marketer is annoying you, he sucks at his job and deserves to get fired, which he will if he gets tons of spam complaints all the time. This raises the demand (and salary) for people who aren’t annoying and don’t suck at their job; like me.

So what I’m saying is that if you want to take petty (but undeniably effective) revenge against terrible companies, you should mark their annoying emails as spam.

From the standpoint of general business email practices, PG suggests that an author have one email address that is used strictly for professional/personal reasons and another email address that is used for marketing: sending out newsletters, promotions, etc.

That way, if some of those on your marketing email list mark your emails as spam, it shouldn’t affect your professional emails. You’ll want to use different domains, as well – for business emails and for marketing emails. If you don’t want to use a domain name that you own, Gmail, Yahoo, and many others are happy to provide free email addresses.

A Clear Case of Anxiety in Motion

10 December 2016
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From Medium:

I was in the middle of finishing up my newsletter for the social network of overthinkers, Alone and taking care of my 6-year-old daughter, a work issue suddenly popped up. Though I was distracted and I hadn’t completely finished my process of nailing down what I wanted to say in the newsletter, I hit send. I wanted the dopamine hit. I wanted to move on.

. . . .

People don’t usually unsubscribe from the bevoya newsletter. But after rushing and sending this one out, 2 people unsubscribed pretty quickly. I was upset and disturbed. Not because people had decided what I was creating wasn’t for them. I was upset because I hadn’t given myself the space to finish my work and send it when it was ready to go. My anxiety to finish and feel done had pushed me to hit send before I was really ready to. I needed more space.

. . . .

I keep pondering this idea of space. The best way I can describe it is: the space to create. Focused relaxation.

If I were to do it over, I would have forced myself to wait to send that newsletter. I would have rewritten it when I had time. I would have achieved the completion of my thought and felt my conclusion click, nailing the ending (a very different feeling than the dopamine-send hit).

Link to the rest at Medium

10 Minute Marketing

2 December 2016

From author Elizabeth Spann Craig:

Sometimes there is so much promo-related stuff to do that it can seem overwhelming.

And, once we actually feel as if we get a handle on everything, that’s when something changes. There’ll be a new marketing approach or a new platform to use.

. . . .

If I can make at least a little progress each day, I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something.

. . . .

 Promo Tasks for 10 Free Minutes (or to Break Down into 10 Minute Increments)

Brainstorm blog post ideas
Plan out these posts on your editorial calendar
Make sure Amazon Author Central has all your books linked and your updated information

. . . .

Clean up each Amazon book page
See if your keywords need updating for online retailers
Make sure Goodreads links to all your books

Link to the rest at Elizabeth Spann Craig

Here’s a link to Elizabeth’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media

30 November 2016

From Digital Book World:

When I ask new email subscribers to tell me their number one book marketing challenge, the answer is overwhelmingly the conundrum that is social media: it takes too much time, and the results are difficult to measure. I agree.

Without a solid understanding of how social media does and doesn’t work, authors resort to the splatter method. But trying to hit every social media channel is a poor marketing strategy. On the contrary—you can successfully sell more books with less social media in four steps:

1. Find, build and target your proprietary audience.
2. Choose a primary social media channel for engagement and selling based on five specific criteria.
3. Designate social media outpost channels to direct potential fans to your primary social media channel.
4. Create a content system designed to foster engagement first and sell books second based on authentic author interaction with fans.

. . . .

Finding your readers shouldn’t be like playing Where’s Waldo. Here are a few tactics to find out where your readers are on social media.

• Survey your own readers. If you don’t know the social media preferences of your readers, ask them. You can send out a free survey on Survey Monkey or Google Forms to all your readers via email and social media posts. Find out who they are (demographics), where they spend their time on social media, and what other authors they read.
• Check free general use statistics on Pew Internet and other free data sites. Pew Internet provides the most reliable and extensive data on social media use worldwide. There are reputable marketing sites like HubSpot, Buffer, Marketo, Nielsen, Social Bakers and others that also publish free periodic data reports on social media use.
• Check your social media channel data. Most major social media channels will give you data about your followers.
• Check with your professional associations. Some writer organizations, such as Romance Writers of America, offer data about the genre’s readers to members.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

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