Author Annie Stone on Marketing: Just Be a Nice Person

27 May 2015

From German indie author Annie Stone via Publishing Perspectives:

I published my first book back in March 2014. By the end of the month, I had created a Facebook page to help promote my book. Even though there wasn’t a whole lot of interaction with fans in the beginning, it was very important for me to reply to every single comment and message I received. Although the amount of comments on Facebook has increased so much that I am unable to keep up with them all, I do my best to “like” each post and respond to many of the comments.

If someone asked me how I go about marketing myself, I would probably answer that I don’t do any marketing at all. At least it’s not marketing in a traditional sense of the word. I like to consider it my own brand of “friendly marketing.” Although I have chosen to keep my publish persona under the guise of my pen name, I still give my readers a look into my private life on social media. I answer questions, send birthday greetings and have contests for readers to win copies of my books. I also actively contribute to book forums by posting my own personal book recommendations and give writing tips.

. . . .

I am not offended when I hear someone say “I don’t really care for your books, but I think you’re a great person.” Seriously, it’s more important for me to be recognized as a nice person than as a outstanding author. Of course I would love for people to enjoy my work, but I’m happy as long as my readers consider me a kind person.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Here’s a link to Annie Stone’s books

10 Tips for Choosing the Right Book Title in the E-Age

25 May 2015

From author Anne R. Allen:

I’m not going to pretend that picking a title for your book is easy. In fact, it gets tougher all the time. We have to consider a lot more than how grabby a title looks on a bookstore shelf these days.

In choosing a title now, we have to think about SEO, keywords, categories, and also-boughts as we fight for visibility in the ever-expanding digital marketplace.

. . . .

I can be stubborn. My editor for The Lady of the Lakewood Diner hate-hate-hated my working title, which was The Ashtrays of Avalon. But I didn’t want to change it. I thought it was hilarious. He thought it was gross. And yeah, Mark, you were right. Sigh.

. . . .

With self-publishing, it’s possible to change titles even after publication, and Joanna has had good luck with her changes.

But don’t make the decision to change titles of published books lightly. You’ll create confusion for your established readers and you may lose your reader reviews.  Also, older things always come up first in a Google search, so your old title will be with you forever on a SERP.

. . . .

1) Always Do a Thorough Search for Your Title

You can’t copyright a book title, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with choosing a title that’s already in use. Publishers have been recycling titles for centuries. Sometimes oldies but goodies work better than originals. In fact, some mass market lines regularly reuse titles they know work well.

But a recycled title can work against you, big time, so make sure you Google your title idea before you decide to go with it—and go through several pages of search results.

You definitely don’t want to share your title with a mega-seller. Calling your book To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, or Gone with the Wind is perfectly legal, but it’s going to disappoint a lot of readers and set you up for some unpleasant comparisons.

And you really don’t want to use a title if it’s been previously used for porn or something you don’t want your name connected with.

. . . .

A broad, generic title like Love and Hope, Love is Forever, Living my Life,or Making Choices tends to sound amateurish because it doesn’t tell the reader anything about the story and doesn’t indicate genre. Broad topics can also sound grandiose. If you take on a huge subject like War and Peace, you’d better have the writing chops to go nose-to-nose with Leo Tolstoy.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

Here’s a link to Anne R. Allen’s books

12 Book Marketing Tips from 12 Industry Experts

22 May 2015

From Marketing for Writers:

2. Brand Your Name – Joanna Penn

One ingredient that paved the way for Joanna Penn’s success is changing her pen name to J.F. Penn for thrillers and other genres ruled by men. Using a man’s name for stirring books swept away misgivings she received as a woman sketching brutally depicted plots because initials are unbiased.

Since men tend to get better reviews, more lady authors are changing their pen names to get the same view. One famed example is James Chartrand ofCopyblogger and Men With Pens, who recently came out as a woman and revealed how writing as a man reshaped her business. In Joanna’s article about name branding, she explained, “I don’t want any consideration of my gender to come up when someone reads my books. I want them to have a great fun read and escape the world for a time.”

. . . .

7. Get Creative in Social Media Posts – Shelley Hitz

Instead of blasting point-blank sales pitches, Shelly Hitz encourages you to explore the avenues of the social media marketing game and get creative with your posts.  Watch out for the ones that draw the most likes and comments. If you’ll look closely, such posts garner attention through  depth of engagement.

So how can you get creative with your posts? Here’s what Shelly Hitz did:

  1. Ask an engaging questions. You could share a little about your upcoming book and ask their opinion.
  2. You could also ask for feedback on book covers.
  3. Post about a sale, a giveaway or an informative blog post you have written.
  4. Share a snippet from one of your reviews instead of tooting your own horn.
  5. Share a snippet or the first chapter of your book.
  6. Share about a significant milestone in your career as an author.

Link to the rest at Marketing for Writers and thanks to HN for the tip.

BookBub Raises $7 Million in New Funding for Continued Expansion

20 May 2015

From BookBub:

We recently closed $7 million in new equity and debt financing for BookBub. Now we have even more resources to pursue our two core goals — to make it easier for readers to discover great books, and to help authors and publishers reach avid readers.

I’m happy to report that the new equity funding comes from the same investors in last year’s $3.8 million round of financing. It’s a group of people that I’ve known and trusted for more than 15 years, and who share our company vision. We’ve all been excited with the progress and feedback on our new initiatives, and decided to take additional capital to accelerate expansion.

A lot has happened since we announced funding last year. We grew to more than 5 million members. We expanded internationally, building localization for the UK, Canada, and India. We added eight new categories to target for Featured Deals. We launched Author Follows, a new service that hundreds of thousands of our members have started using to connect with authors.

. . . .

The funding we’re announcing today will not change our vision or strategy. We believe we’re in the midst of a massive shift in reader behavior. Today about half of U.S. book purchases happen online while half of U.S. adults own a tablet or ereader. As their habits change, readers need new ways to discover books, and authors and publishers like you need new to ways to reach them. BookBub added more than 20 employees last year to address these needs. With this new capital we plan to grow the team further so we can innovate and build new ways to serve you and our readers even better.

Link to the rest at BookBub and thanks to Jason for the tip.

Kobo Offers Ebooks to Southwest Airlines Passengers

16 May 2015

From Publishing Perspectives:

Kobo and Southwest Airlines have cooperated to offer an in-flight reading platform, which launched on May 6 and includes both full books and extended previews of top titles and new releases across all genres. Participating publishers include Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster, Inc., Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, Kensington Publishing Corp., ECW Press, Open Road Media, Bauer Communications and others.

. . . .

Once onboard a Southwest Airlines flight, customers can use their own Wi-Fi enabled devices to connect to the entertainment portal and access to hundreds of top-selling titles in Kobo’s library.

And if the passenger doesn’t have time to finish their book? After landing, they will receive an email from Kobo with information on how to purchase the book at their destination.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Eric, who notes that Kobo forgot their indie authors again, for the tip.

S&S Tries Geo-Targeting in New Marketing Outreach

14 May 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

In the latest effort to enhance book discovery, Simon & Schuster is partnering with mobile content delivery service Foli to offer customers complimentary access to a selection of full-text e-books in airports, museums and hotels around the country. Beginning May 15, David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers will be a feature selection at the National Air & Space Museum and 50 venues around the country. Another 18 titles will be available though a select group of hotels and airport lounges.

The new service relies on Foli’s location-based wireless technology, which allows the the delivery of a single title, or group of titles, to a specific geographic location. In order to access the e-books in the program, customers can download the Foli app to their iOS or Android device and read a full-text version of any of the books.

The availability of the e-books will last for three days while they are being accessed at the targeted venue. The service also allows the consumer to buy the book outright at any time.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG seems to remember hearing opinions from some non-indie authors and publishers that offering free or ninety-nine cent ebooks cheapened their image.

Elle Casey’s Advice for Aspiring Writers

14 May 2015

From Elle Casey, Novelist:

Since the requests for help that I get are increasing now, and I tend to give out the same advice over and over, I thought the best way to share my knowledge would be through a blog post.

. . . .

Jump in There and Do It.

Nobody’s going to come knocking on your door asking you to write a book for them, but there are plenty of people out there who want to read what you have to write, I promise. And they’ll pay you for it! Also I wouldn’t bother with the traditional publishing process because it takes so long, and the market is flooded with people doing that. Besides, you really don’t need a gatekeeper between yourself and your readers. Let the readers decide if you’re a good writer. Let the readers give you the very valuable feedback you need in order to improve your skills; and then, after you’ve had some success as a writer with the real people who matter —  that is the readers —  go ahead and send out a query letter if you still feel the need. By following this path you will have the confidence to push through the closed doors you’re apt to find.

Plan Your Branding Strategy from the Start. 

Make everything consistent: social media, covers, swag, etc. I didn’t do that, and  I’ve been kind of patching it together as I go. It’s much more effective to start it properly and then keep it going consistently. You may not know exactly who you “are” as a writer when you first begin, but you should give it some serious thought and start in a solid direction. Be consistent with your genre too. For example, if you’re writing thrillers, your website shouldn’t be pink and purple with romantic script for a font choice. For someone like me, who writes in several genres, it’s more difficult to have one brand that fits them all, but it is possible to tie your different books and social media sites together with similar colors, fonts, etc. I’m working on all that now and it’s a big project with over 30 novels!

. . . .

Be Yourself, But Remember Who You Are.

Be genuine. Be yourself. But remember, you are a writer. When you start your online social media presence, everything you put out there will be viewable by the public forever. Keeping up a fake persona for years and years will be exhausting and nearly impossible to keep consistent. Just be yourself and you’ll find your audience. If you’re strange and unusual, more’s the better. Authors are creative people; don’t feel like you have to be someone else.

Link to the rest at Elle Casey, Novelist

Here’s a link to Elle Casey’s books

How publishers could get more of my money (and make me happy to give it)

14 May 2015

From Stephanie Leary:

I’m getting spoiled by self-published authors and the services that cater to them. Big publishers are increasingly disappointing in comparison.

One of the most baffling aspects of big publishing is that publishers generally don’t know who their readers are. Other than people they meet at conventions or New York readings, they simply have no idea who’s reading their books, because those people usually buy through an intermediary: the bookstore. Most of publishers’ marketing efforts are therefore geared toward the bookstore buyers, not the individual readers.

In this NPR story on diversity in publishing, one of the things that leaped out at me was a quote from an editor citing a PEW study that revealed that African-American women “are the largest group of readers in the country.” (Which you’d never know from the lack of diversity in protagonists, cover models, and so on.) Why did publishers have to rely on PEW for that data? Because they have very little research into the habits of individual readers. They’ve never needed it; they’ve always done business with chain sales reps.

Self-published authors have found (among other things) that building their mailing lists is one of the most important things they can do for their sales. They’ve also found that linking directly to the booksellers works a lot better than going to some sort of intermediate page. That is, they’re placing links to their other books in their backmatter, and making sure that those are links to Amazon in the Kindle edition, to in the Nook edition, and so forth. It’s a hassle to maintain different links for every store and format, but it’s worth it, because those direct links sell more books.

. . . .

For an industry that bitches a lot about discoverability, I don’t see nearly enough publishers asking readers what they want to hear about. Simply by giving people an incentive to hand over their email addresses and genre/author preferences, they’d get valuable market data and a way to push new books out to targeted audiences. There’s no reason publishers can’t do this with their new releases as well as their discounts and promotions.

Link to the rest at Stephanie Leary and thanks to Scott for the tip.

Authors debate digital-first publication

11 May 2015

From The Bookseller:

Publishing digitally first can help authors to learn about the publishing process, make writers more critical of their own work and help reinvent an author. However, the author Stark Holborn warned that the format should only be used in the right context as there is “a difficulty in marketing something that has no physical presence”.

Authors who have recently had work published digitally first in serial format said there were benefits to the format for both readers and authors. Cathy Bramley published Ivy Lane with Transworld as a digital-first serial in 2014, and her second book for the publisher, Appleby Farm, is currently being released in monthly instalments of 10 chapters each, with the final section out this week.

Bramley said publishing in serial format “enabled me to raise my profile and keep my books visible for a longer period of time”.

She added: “I also enjoy a lot of interaction with readers via Twitter and Facebook who finish one part and can’t wait for the next. I think having a low price point is a huge benefit to a new author; readers can look at my Amazon page, see the positive reviews and try for themselves at a low- risk [cost] of 99p.”

Bramley’s editor at Transworld, Harriet Bourton, said the publisher’s aim “was to find a way of introducing digital-heavy readers to new authors and building a relationship with them from there”, with a digital serialisation acting as a literary equivalent to a television series.

. . . .

Holborn said she would “love there to be more of a culture of digital serials . . . I think the trick is using them for the right work. The format suited Nunslinger because it recalled serialised pulp and dime novels, like the old yellow jackets published by Hodder in the 1950s. It’s true that there is a difficulty in marketing something that has no physical presence, but in the right context that could be a strength, not a limitation. Of course, there is nothing that beats the thrill of seeing your work printed and bound as a real, honest-to-God book, but I would certainly love to explore digital serialisations further in the future.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

“a difficulty in marketing something that has no physical presence”

Let’s see, Amazon has no physical presence and they have terrible problems with marketing. Nobody buys insurance because it has no physical presence. Nobody watches television shows or movies because they have no physical presence. Nobody uses the Internet because it has no physical presence. Nobody buys stocks, bonds or mutual funds because they have no physical presence.


Writers, Start Building Your Brand Early!

1 May 2015

From author Steven Ramirez:

One of the great challenges for an indie author is dividing time between actual writing and marketing. And I would argue that the same goes for writers who are as yet unpublished. Sometimes, I like to think about giants like Joyce, Fitzgerald and Nabokov. How did those guys do it? Most likely, not at all—or very little. The work spoke for itself. But, hey, we’re talking about us. What are we supposed to do?

If I had to pick one person from history to travel forward in time and demonstrate how it’s done, it would have to be Mark Twain. That guy knew brand, and I’m sure he would do very well using Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Can you imagine? Here are a few of his most famous quotes. And look—they fit so nicely into 140 characters!

All right, then, I’ll go to hell.
I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Truman Capote was another famous author who truly understood brand. How about this tweetable quote:

Fame is only good for one thing—they will cash your check in a small town.

. . . .

I’ve met many writers over the years, and I will tell you that most are not comfortable in the spotlight. They are card-carrying introverts who love working behind the scenes, writing great stories which—if they’re lucky—get turned into movies.

If you ask my wife, she will tell you that I am an extrovert. I like being out and about, meeting people and engaging in interesting discussions. That’s just me. But I don’t think I would be comfortable being on the talk show circuit, delivering pithy one-liners in front of a studio audience. I’m better in small groups.

Which leads me to Brand. Many of the more seasoned authors out there know all about this. But there are those like you who are just getting started—who want to understand what it takes to not only write well but market well. As an aside, I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m happy to share what I know.

. . . .

How about James Patterson? You have only to utter his name, and book titles and scenes play out in your head. Never mind that he has a writer factory churning out books, he definitely gets brand, my friend.

When you do it right, here is what happens. Not only is your name recognizable but the name itself becomes embedded in the culture on a global scale. Kind of like Kleenex. How many people say, “Can you hand me a tissue?” More often it’s, “Have you got a Kleenex?” The same can be said for Xerox and Coke.

. . . .

Getting back to authors. When you think of horror, what is the first name that comes to mind? Stephen King, right? Of course. He has spent decades building his brand. His name is synonymous with horror.

. . . .

So what does building your brand mean? For me, it’s awareness. I try to be thoughtful about everything I post. I don’t always succeed. But being aware is important because what gets out into the Internet stays forever. So no drunk tweeting, no profanity and no mean-spirited troll attacks on others. A good general rule is to always take the high road.

Linking your digital assets is important as well. There should be a synergy among the various digital destinations you have out there. Make sure your bio and headshot are uniform across the various social media sites.

. . . .

Don’t create a Twitter account, leave the default image and expect to get followers. I mean, seriously? Who in the world is going to follow an egg?

Link to the rest at Glass Highway and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Here’s a link to Steven Ramirez’s books

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