Category Archives: Marketing & Promotion

Occasional Marketing for Authors – what is it? [Marketing Mondays]

1052586_balloonToday for my Marketing Mondays post for authors, I’m talking about Occasional Marketing. No, this isn’t promoting your books occasionally as in here and there, sometimes, when you feel like it…etc, it is about using special occasions to help market your books to potential readers, or linking your book to an occasion that matches the themes or feel of the story.

Do you have a book about babies or royalty? Then I hope you took advantage of the recent birth of the royal baby and did a spot of promo relating to it! This is what I’m talking about… taking something in the media, or using an established special occasion or event to ride on the hype and make your marketing more targeted and relevant. For example, if you did happen to have a book about babies or royalty, then on twitter you could tweet something about your book in relation to the royal baby and add the hashtag #royalbaby – this means anyone clicking on or searching for this hashtag can see your tweet, along with all the others who have tweeted using the same hashtag. (For more on hashtags and using twitter, see this post). See what hashtags are trending on twitter in the side menu… do any of them relate to your book? Most of the time probably not, but get used to keeping an eye on the trends and if they do, tweet!

Apart from royal babies, what other occasions can you link to in your marketing? Here are some ideas:

  • The popular occasions that occur on specific dates like Christmas, Easter, Valentines’ Day, Australia Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve/Day, Queen’s birthday…etc.
  • Other occasions and events like political elections, celebrity romances, The Oscars, The Emmy Awards, The Golden Globes, media scandals, and certain news stories in the media (be tactful and appropriate though, and choose these carefully). If your book is wedding themed, keep up to date with celebrity weddings and engagements and get in on the fun with social media.
  • Even seasons of the year, months of the year, days of the week…etc if they relate to your book. Eg: my book The January Wish is releasing in—you guessed it—January. 😉
  • If your book has medical themes you can even utilise certain awareness days for health conditions that are held throughout the year, and maybe link to charities or helpful advice as well, so you are being useful and not just promoting your book.
  • Have a book about a reality show? Promote (especially using twitter) during the time a related reality show airs, and tap into the crowd of people already discussing it. Use the official twitter hashtag of the show, but remember; interact as well, don’t just think about promoting. Get some discussions happening.
  • What about popular conferences and conventions? If they relate to your book and you’re not attending, look at ways you can still make use of the power of occasional marketing.

Here are some ideas on how to make use of occasional marketing:

  • Blog posts – create an interesting title to catch people’s attention and discuss something relating to the special occasion, and filter in bits and pieces about your book.
  • Share short excerpts of your book at regular intervals throughout the day on facebook, during the day of a particular event or occasion (eg: New year’s, The Oscars…etc).
  • Post pictures relating to the event on your facebook page and encourage sharing.
  • Find & share pictures on Pinterest for the occasion, including your book, and put everyone who repins your pictures into a draw for a prize.
  • Hold a contest (blogs are good for this) relating to the occasion and your book. Eg: In hindsight, a good contest revolving around the royal baby would have been to get people to guess either the sex of the baby and put all correct answers into a draw for a prize, or guess the name of the baby, and whoever guesses correctly wins a copy of one of your books, or a gift card, or another prize of your choosing. What about a contest to guess which movie will win best picture in the Oscars? Think about the various special occasions on throughout the year and how you could make it fun for people. You don’t have to have giveaways, it can just be for fun, but giveaways do attract more people.
  • Tweet with related hashtags during events and think up interesting, funny, or helpful tweets that help promote your book or your blog posts or attract new followers…etc. Not sure what hashtags to use? Search for a few variations and see which ones get the most action.
  • Hold a facebook event. This could be a virtual way to enjoy an event that you can’t attend live, along with other likeminded people, and give exposure to you and your books at the same time, especially if you have a giveaway for all participating attendees.
  • You could even hold a reader appreciation event in your local area with the theme of the special occasion and have your books available for signing, swag to give away, do a reading…etc.

Are your marketing juices flowing? To take action and utilise the power of occasional marketing, create an ‘occasion calendar’ and jot down different strategies you could employ around the time of each occasion. What occasions suit the themes of your book? Maybe brainstorm with some friends and help each other come up with ideas. Also, keep your eye out for popular topics in the media and be ready to pounce! (in a totally helpful, useful, ethical and appropriate way of course!).

Remember, occasional marketing is a way to connect with people who are more likely to be interested in your book, as opposed to more general one-size-fits-all marketing.

Have I missed mentioning any popular occasions? Let me know in the comments, and tell me your ideas for your own occasional marketing, or if you’re stumped, mention your book and the themes in it, and I (or another blog visitor) might be able to help. 🙂

 

Tweet this post by copying & pasting any of the following into a tweet:

What does the #royalbaby have to do with book marketing? @Juliet_Madison explains: http://wp.me/p1jJti-j9 

What is Occasional Marketing? Advice for #authors via @Juliet_Madison http://wp.me/p1jJti-j9 

How special occasions can help you sell more books, via @Juliet_Madison http://wp.me/p1jJti-j9 #writers 

Marketing idea for authors at @Juliet_Madison’s blog: http://wp.me/p1jJti-j9 #bookmarketing #authors #marketing

Authors, stuck for blog post ideas? Here’s some, via @Juliet_Madison http://wp.me/p1jJti-j9 #blogging 

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Sign up for the Three Wishes Blog Blitz!

BlogBlitz-signupWant more visitors to your blog?

I’m holding a joint blog event to encourage cross-promotion and increased blog traffic to authors and bloggers. This is on 2nd September 2013 to coincide with the release of my novella, I Dream of Johnny on 1st September. Rather than just promote the new release, I wanted to do something where everyone’s a winner – authors, bloggers, and readers.

How would it work and why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz?

As you may have guessed from the title of my novella which is play on the TV show, I Dream of Jeannie, the story involves a virtual genie in a magic lamp granting three wishes. For Mandy, one of these wishes goes hilariously wrong (she ends up with a Geek God instead of a Greek God). So I thought I’d do a ‘Three Wishes themed’ blog event.

How it would work is that interested authors or bloggers would create and schedule a blog post for 2nd September, and link it back to mine which will contain links to all the participating blogs. Each participating blog (and mine) will offer some sort of prize to readers who leave a comment, and the winners will be drawn a week later at the conclusion of the blog event.

The blog posts can relate to the theme of three wishes, wishes in general, or something to do with magical elements in fiction, romantic comedy, or even geeks as characters. For example, you could simply have a blog post titled: ‘My Three Wishes’ and write about what you would wish for if you had a magic lamp. The answers could be serious (world peace…etc) or funny (the ability to always find good parking spots)…etc, whatever you like. You could even have a photo blog post with pictures of three things you would love, three celebrities you’d love to meet, or three places you wish you could travel to…etc. You create the title for the post, and simply include the blog event title in brackets, eg: My Three Wishes [Three Wishes Blog Blitz]

What’s in it for you?

  • Increased exposure and visits to your blog and/or books from cross-promotion. My official blog post will link to all the participating blogs and I’ll encourage people to visit as many as they can to take part and go in the draw for prizes. One person could potentially win multiple prizes, so it’s an enticing blog event.
  • Potentially increased number of blog subscribers and new readers.
  • Offer value to your existing blog subscribers and readers.
  • A way to blog without having to come up with yet another idea for a post! (I’ve done the idea-part for you ;))
  • Chance to win prizes yourself! Even participating blogs can enter the prize draws on other blogs.
  • Chance to win a special ‘blog participant’ prize, reserved for one of the lucky bloggers who take part.
  • You never know, your three wishes might even come true! 😉

Plus, it’ll be fun and we’ll all benefit from the combined marketing efforts during the week of the event.

I participated in a similar blog event through Book’d Out last January, and that post remains one of my top five most popular blog posts this year, thanks to the cross-promotion through all the participating blogs.

 

>>If you’re interested, sign up here, and feel free to share this opportunity with others. The more the merrier!

[UPDATE>> As of Thurs 4th July, 40 blogs have signed up. More are welcome!]

 

(Participating blogs will receive more details via email and will receive a reminder when the event is approaching).

 

Tweet this post (copy & paste into a tweet):

Want more visitors to your blog? Sign up for the Three Wishes Blog Blitz! via @Juliet_Madison https://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/three-wishes-blog-blitz/ 

Looking for something to blog about? Here’s an idea: via @Juliet_Madison https://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/three-wishes-blog-blitz/ 

Bloggers! Authors! Cross-promotional blog event coming up. Sign up here: via @Juliet_Madison https://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/three-wishes-blog-blitz/ 

Twitter Basics for Authors [Marketing Mondays]

I’ll be doing more regular blog posts on marketing and promotion tips for authors, called ‘Marketing Mondays’. It won’t necessarily be every Monday, just whenever I’m able to. I’ll be discussing such topics as twitter, facebook, email newsletters, copywriting, blogging, and general tips. If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover, let me know! To read my popular post ‘10 Marketing Tips For Authors – From A Business Perspective’, please click here.

 

TwitterToday I’m talking about Twitter Basics for Authors (although it might be helpful to some non-authors too). I’ve heard from a lot of authors recently that they don’t really get twitter, or they’ve signed up for an account but haven’t used it yet because they’re not quite sure what to do. I hope this article will help demystify the Twitterverse for you!

>What on earth is Twitter and what is it for?

Twitter is a form of interactive social media, it’s an ongoing public conversation, and a way to interact with others, learn, discover, chat about a certain topic, and have fun. Public is the key word. Unless you set your tweets (short messages or updates) to private, your tweets can be seen by potentially anyone, regardless of whether they’re following you, so remember to think before you tweet!

For authors, it can be a way to meet and interact with other authors, publishers and editors, agents, and readers. There are even pitching competitions on twitter where you could get the chance to submit your manuscript to an industry professional. It can be a useful marketing tool, but must not be used purely for this or you will be seen as a spammer and people will unfollow you.

 

>How to sign up:

*If you’ve already signed up, skip this section and move onto ‘Maximising your profile’…

1. Go to www.twitter.com

2. Fill in the sign-up form with your name, email, and password.

3. On the next page you’ll be instructed to choose a username. This is the ‘twitter handle’ people will use to connect with you. Make it something easy to spell and remember (eg: mine is @Juliet_Madison) It can be the same or different to your name. (*Note, both your name and username will be visible publically, so use your pen name if you don’t want your real name showing up).

4. On the next page, click next, follow the instructions and ‘follow’ five people to get started. If you don’t know who to follow, follow me! (type @Juliet_Madison into the search field). You can also search for words like ‘writers’, ‘authors’, ‘publishers’…etc to find people in those fields, or search for your favourite authors, then click ‘follow’ next to their name. Once you’ve followed five, click next.

5. Twitter will ask you to follow another five, and will give you suggestions in different categories. Choose another five people then click next.

6. It will now give you an option to add people from your email contacts list, but if you like, just skip this for now by clicking on ‘skip’ (it’s written in light grey font and a little hard to see, but is just below the listing of email contacts).

7. Upload a photo and write a brief bio about yourself (see maximising your profile, below). You can change this later, so if you’re not sure exactly what to write, just put ‘writer of *insert genre*’ for now, and click done to move to the next page.

The next page is what you will see each time you log into twitter – a ‘stream’ of tweets from people you are following – and you are now ready to tweet! Or you can take some time to follow more people and/or maximise your profile first. Also, go to your email account at this point and confirm your account, as twitter would have sent you an email.

 

>Maximising your profile:

Twitter-profile1. Click on your name to view your profile. This is how it will look to others.

2. Click ‘edit profile’ and adjust your bio if needed. Also click on the words ‘location’ and ‘website’ to add them. What to write in your bio? At the very least, tell people your occupation (ie, writer or author), the genre you write in, and any other detail you really want people to know about you. Some people’s bio’s are quite humorous! But they don’t have to be. Think about what you want out of twitter, and tailor your bio to suit. If you have a blog or website, you definitely need to add that as it will help you get more visits to your site.

*Some extra tips for bios are:

– Add hashtags (more on them later in this post). Hashtags are words starting with #. If you write romance, you could add #romance to your bio. Then people searching for romance will more easily find you.

– If you’re published, add your publisher’s twitter handle (eg: mine is @escapepublisher). When people are searching for that publisher, your twitter profile will show up in search results. So many authors fail to do this, but it can be a good way to give yourself extra exposure, and it also tells people visiting your profile who you’re published with.

– change your profile occasionally to coincide with promotions or new releases. For example, you could say: ‘Author of Fantastic Book, available now at Amazon: *amazon link*’, or: ‘Win prizes in the Fantastic Book blog tour! Details here: *blog link*’, or: ‘Get a free ebook when you subscribe to my newsletter at *insert link*’.

Think of it as a call to action – what do you want visitors to your profile to do? The first thing is of course, you want them to follow you. The next would be to visit your site or buy your book, or add it to their wish list. Make it easy for them by including direct links and mentioning any benefits.

3. (Optional) Add a header photo. If you just want to get on with tweeting for now then leave this till later, otherwise click ‘edit profile’ again and then click the little pencil icon in the top corner of the larger header picture (not your profile picture). Add a photo. You can resize this by dragging the little button. You can also change your background picture/design by clicking the little cog wheel at the top of the page and selecting ‘settings’, then ‘design’.

 

>Following people:

Now try following more people. Search for people you know, your favourite authors, publishers, bloggers…etc. Some of them might follow you back, and you will get notified when this happens. Twitter can put limits on how many people you follow, so don’t go overboard at first, you can follow more people gradually as you start interacting with others. You might also like to post an update on Facebook (if you’re on there) to tell your friends that you have a new twitter account and need some followers.

 

>How and What to tweet?

tweetbuttonTweets are short messages or updates, limited to 140 characters. To tweet, click the little blue square icon in the top right of the page. This opens up a tweet window where you can type in your message and click ‘tweet’ when you’re ready to send it out into the world. Remember what I said before about it being public. You can delete tweets, but nothing is ever completely deleted from the internet.

tweetGot nothing to say? Of course you do, you’re a writer! And believe me, you could soon find yourself spending too much time on twitter and wishing you hadn’t read my blog post and started your addiction! To start with, see what others are tweeting. You can also see my tweet stream on the side of this blog (unless you’re on a smartphone) or go to http://www.twitter.com/juliet_madison and take a look.

Why not start by saying you’ve just joined twitter and are looking forward to interacting with writers, readers…etc? That way when people visit your profile they don’t just think you’re a spammer and can see that you’re just starting out. (*A word on spammers… don’t automatically click links if someone sends you a tweet or message, it could be a virus or blatant advertising. Only click links from people you trust. Also, you don’t have to follow back everyone that follows you. Follow those you want to interact with, keep updated with, or learn from.)

Other tweet ideas:

  • what you’re working on
  • something good that happened to you today
  • link to an interesting article (twitter automatically shortens links so they can fit into the tweet)
  • share a blog post you’ve written
  • recommend a great book you’ve read
  • ask questions – eg: what books have you enjoyed recently?, what are you writing at the moment?…etc

Many tweets are actually replies to other tweets. See ‘mentions’ below…

 

>Hashtags:

You can also add a ‘hashtag’ to a tweet. This is a word or phrase starting with the hash symbol #. This will add a hyperlink that people can click on, which will take them to a page containing all the tweets that have also added that particular hashtag. It’s a great way to communicate with people about a particular topic, and is also a way to find new people to follow that share your interests.

For writers, it can help with promoting your work. For example, if you write chick lit and add #chicklit to a tweet, people searching for that hashtag can find your tweet. You can also find other writers by using the hashtags #amwriting, #writing #amediting #writetip #pubtip to name a few.

 

>Mentions:

When you reply to a tweet, you are ‘mentioning’ someone. This means their twitter handle will be included along with your reply, and they will get notified that you mentioned them, so they may continue the conversation if they wish. You can also just mention someone outright, without replying to a tweet. To do this, include the person’s twitter handle in your tweet. You can mention anyone, even if they’re not following you (including celebrities), but be careful not to annoy anyone by over-mentioning them!

 

>Retweets:

jkIf you come across a tweet you particularly like, you can retweet it by clicking ‘retweet’ when you hover your cursor over the tweet. This means you are sharing this tweet with your own followers. People often appreciate retweets, because it means their message is getting seen by more people, and don’t be surprised if you get a thank you tweet in response. Be careful not to ‘over retweet’ though. If your tweets are mostly retweets, people will tend to unfollow you because you yourself are not interacting, just using other people’s tweets as your own.

 

>Favorites:

jmAnother thing to do if you see a tweet you like, or if you come across a tweet you want to remember for later, is to click on ‘favorite’, which is next to the retweet option. This will save the tweet to a list of favorites which you can access by clicking on your profile page. The person’s tweet you are favoriting will also be notified. Favorites can be seen as the equivalent of the ‘like’ option on Facebook – a way of acknowledging something without replying to it.

 

>Direct Messages:

The envelope icon on your profile page allows you to send private messages to people, but only if they also follow you. Don’t use this to promote your books, it will be considered spam. Use it when you want a more private discussion with someone you’ve been interacting with, or to pass on email addresses for further communication…etc.

 

>Twitter Rules for Authors:

  • Interaction is your first priority, promotion is your second. There’s a reason it’s called social media.
  • Don’t overuse it – allocate time to spend on twitter, otherwise hours can pass, and the tweet stream never ends!! Twitter is going 24/7.
  • If you’ve enjoyed a book, mention the author and tell them. What goes around comes around.
  • Don’t use it as your only form of promotion. Twitter is only one type of social media, and social media is only one part of a marketing campaign.
  • Use smiley faces and winks to show that you’re being lighthearted or joking. It can be hard to tell the emotional context behind written words without body language to give us cues, and the last thing you want is to unknowingly upset someone when you didn’t mean to. 🙂 😉
  • If someone compliments you or your books, thank them by favoriting the tweet, retweeting, or replying. Favoriting only takes a second, and lets them know you appreciate it.
  • Be consistent. The tweet stream flows quickly, and you get the most out of twitter when you use it regularly, rather than just a couple of tweets every couple of weeks or so. There are programs available that allow you to schedule tweets in advance, such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, but I won’t discuss them here today, however, feel free to Google them if you’re looking for that type of feature to add to your twitter account.

 

>If Twitter seems daunting for you, just follow these 3 Quick Start Tips:

1. Sign up

2. Follow people

3. Reply to tweets, retweet tweets, and favorite tweets.

You’ll progress naturally as you get more followers and get used to using it.

 

>Benefits I’ve received from twitter:

  • heard about great books
  • had people tell me they bought my book after hearing about it on twitter
  • won books
  • scored free theatre tickets (see below pic!)
  • made new writing friends
  • found out about pitch competitions and publishing opportunities
  • learned to be concise!
  • participated in agent/editor chats and learned helpful info
  • discovered interesting & useful articles
  • had fun!
Me at The Addams Family musical in Sydney, after scoring two free tickets via Twitter.

Me at The Addams Family musical in Sydney, after scoring two free tickets via Twitter.

See you on twitter! You can follow me here. 😉

 

If you’ve enjoyed this article, why not tweet about it? Here are some suggested tweets you can simply copy & paste into a tweet:

Twitter Basics for Authors via @Juliet_Madison: http://wp.me/p1jJti-hQ #twitter #authors

Confused about twitter? Easy, simple tips here via @Juliet_Madison: http://wp.me/p1jJti-hQ

Are you an author? Learn how to make the most of Twitter  @Juliet_Madison http://wp.me/p1jJti-hQ

How To Use Twitter Effectively, tips for #authors: http://wp.me/p1jJti-hQ @Juliet_Madison

Juliet Madison is a naturopath-turned-author with experience and training in running both an online and offline business. She won Marketer of the Year in 2008 in her industry, and enjoys educating others on ways to maximise their marketing.

Annie Seaton’s Promotional Tips For Authors [Marketing Mondays]

Welcome to the first of my Marketing Mondays posts, where I’ll be sharing marketing tips, interviews, and guest posts on the occasional Monday. My first post is a guest interview with romance author Annie Seaton, who has just released a helpful book for authors: Promotional Tips & Tricks for Aspiring Writers in a Digital Landscape.

 

Annie_Seaton (2)Welcome, Annie!

1. Did you read any books or do any research or courses to help you learn about marketing, or did you learn things as you went along?

The same as I write, I am a seat of the pants marketer. Everything I have implemented, I learned as I went along. Self research and self taught.

2. Do you think it’s possible for time-poor authors to still market their books effectively? What would you consider they focus on most to make the best use of their time?

You’ve hit the nail on the head there, Juliet. Finding a balance between promotion and writing is hard enough, without the complication of career or other commitments. That being said, I think a structured schedule that allocates even a small portion of promo time…regularly or daily will allow time-poor authors to market effectively.

3. How can authors strike a balance between promoting their books and writing their books?

That’s the $64 dollar question. No matter how much time we allocate to promotion, we must always keep in mind, the very best advertising strategy is always your next book. Therefore it is essential that the balance leans in favour of writing.

4. Do you think it’s important for authors to be on twitter and/or Facebook every day?

I am an avid FB user, and I am yet to be convinced that twitter has the exposure of Facebook. But yes, whichever one you commit to as part of your promo strategy, you must be on there every day.

5. In your experience, what do you think has had the greatest impact on your book sales?

Establishing my brand in the lead up to publication. I blogged and Facebooked and saturated the market with Holiday Affair in the three months led in before publication.

6. Knowing what you know now, if you could go back and do anything differently when you first started writing seriously, what would it be?

No, I am happy with the way my promotional activities have succeeded. I wouldn’t change anything. If there was anything, perhaps I would have started an author page on Facebook a little earlier.

7. Is it normal for most book sales to die down after a few months, or do you think with consistent and effective marketing strategies authors can keep their sales at successful levels?

Holiday Affair stayed on the best seller Amazon lists for one year and I believe it was the constant promotion and saturation that allowed it to stay there.

promo28. Can you tell us about your new marketing book, and how writers can benefit from it?

As I experienced success with sales over the past year, many friends and colleagues asked me for the secret of my success. A couple told me I should write a book…and finally convinced me to write it down. It was intended for aspiring authors to show them my simple journey on a budget which still resulted in spectacular sales (I have sold over 25,000 copies of Holiday Affair in less than one year.) I have had many emails and reviews from established authors who have said they, too, got ideas from my outline.

 

Thanks for sharing your tips with us today, Annie.

>>To check out Annie’s book, Promotional Tips & Tricks for Aspiring Writers in a Digital Landscape, visit the Amazon book page.

You can also visit Annie online at her website, twitter, and facebook.

…Stay tuned for more ‘Marketing Monday’ posts coming soon. To be notified of new posts, remember to subscribe to the blog via email in the top right corner. 🙂

Survey Results! What Do You Like To See On Author Blogs?

A few weeks ago I posted a survey link to find out what people like to see on author blogs. If you haven’t participated in the survey you can do so here. I will share the results periodically as more people respond to the survey.

Here are the survey results so far:

  • 5% of respondents were readers, 92.5% were writers (and readers), and 2.5% were publishing industry professionals

 

  • The most popular genres that respondents like to read, in order of most to least popular, are: romance & women’s fiction/chick lit (tied first), romantic comedy, mystery, thriller/crime/suspense, historical, paranormal, young adult, literary, Australian rural fiction, steampunk, men’s contemporary fiction, and sci-fi.

 

  • 75% of respondents have a blog, 17.5% don’t, and 7.5% are thinking about getting one.

 

  • Of those that have a blog, 40% only post when they get a topic idea, 23.3% post a few times a week, 20% post once a week, with the remainder posting one or two times a month. None of the respondents post daily.

 

  • 40% of respondents regularly visit author blogs a few times a week, 32.5% visit author blogs when they are enticed by an interesting post, the same number of people (7.5%) visit daily, once a week, and a few times a month, with only 5% visiting once a month.

 

  • When asked which factors influence the decision to visit a particular blog or blog post, 82.1% of respondents said that knowing the author professionally or personally made them want to visit the blog. 79.5% visit a blog to learn about a specific topic, 64.1% visit based on the recommendation of a friend or an interview with a favourite author, 51.3% visit to discover a new author or book, and surprisingly, only 38.5% visit a blog to enter a contest or giveaway. Some other reasons people mentioned that cause them to visit a particular blog were: to learn how to do their own blog, to keep up to date with industry information, to visit the blog of someone who commented on their own blog, posts with interesting titles, recommendations via facebook and twitter, and to support fellow writers.

 

  • The most popular types of blog posts/categories, in order of most popular to least popular, were: How-To articles & tips on writing, interviews with publishing professionals, How-To articles on author marketing, opportunities to pitch your book to an agent or publisher, author interviews, humorous posts just for fun, book reviews, info on upcoming new releases from authors, excerpts from books, book giveaways, free short stories or serials, giveaways for non-book prizes, and character interviews.

 

  • The most popular topics to read about on blogs were: digital publishing, writing books, marketing & promotion, the story behind a book & how it came to be, cover designs, how to get an agent or publishing contract, a writer’s life behind the scenes, self publishing, readers guides/book club questions.

 

  • In author interviews on blogs, the most popular things people like to find out about the author are: info about their latest book, what they’re working on next, where they get their ideas and inspiration, how they came to be an author, how they balance family/life with writing, info about their other job or previous career, how to connect with them online, fun things like favourite colour/movie/tv shows/books/music/hobbies. Respondents also commented that they’d like to see more specific information about developing writing skills, fun character interviews to find out things that weren’t in the book, and detail about the author’s processes from beginning of the idea to the end result.

 

  • Some of the final comments people had to say were: many author blogs seem to be the same – need to make the blog stand out and be unique, never blog an apology for not blogging, don’t get offended if you don’t get many comments – it doesn’t mean the reader hasn’t enjoyed the post, it usually means they are busy. And someone also commented that I was amazing so I thought I’d throw that in there to add to the important statistics, lol! 😉

 

 

As with all surveys, the results are only representative of a selection of people so take from it what you will, and I hope the results help authors to plan their blogs with the reader in mind for the greater benefit of both parties.

What I gleaned from this survey:

  • Try to blog one or more times a week
  • Network with authors and readers
  • Blog about topics that people want to learn about
  • Support your friends and favourite authors by sharing links to their blog posts
  • Visit and comment on other blogs to increase exposure for your own
  • Contests are good but not essential for a blog to be popular
  • Blog not only about writing but about marketing and the publishing process
  • Space out your informative blog posts with fun & light-hearted posts
  • Character interviews are enjoyed by some but hated by others – these may be best used as a bonus for those who have already read your book
  • Anything to do with digital publishing is a hot topic
  • Try keeping a story journal to record the development of your book from idea to end result
  • Think of a way to make your blog unique and stand out from others that are similar

 

So next time you’re thinking hmmm… what will I blog about? Take a look at these results and maybe you’ll be inspired and come up with a top idea that readers (and writers) will love.

How To Use The New Facebook Page Timeline & How To Run A Facebook Chat

Confused about Facebook’s new timeline display for fan pages?

I found this great cheat sheet to help you get your page organised quickly and working well!

Before I show you, a word about running Facebook chats on your fan page…

A quick splurge of new posts by fans (such as questions during a one hour chat for example) can make it confusing to keep track of, due to the visual layout of the timeline page. Here’s how you can make it easier:

1. At the top of the page, but underneath the main header/banner image, is a faded text box that says ‘Highlights’. This means the page is only showing highlights of what’s been posted to the page, and you may miss some of the posts. Click on the little ‘down arrow’ and a drop down box will show some options for how to display things on the page.

2. Click ‘Posts by others’ to show the posts made to the page by fans. This is good if you are hosting a Q & A session/chat and want to be able to answer individual questions.

3. If you are providing the questions for fans to answer, or hosting something like a book club chat, then click ‘Posts by page’ so you can see all the questions you have posted and check the comments for each one.

4. Keep refreshing the page to see the most current posts and comments.

5. An alternative to using pages for chats, is to create a Facebook group that is associated with your page, and use that for the interactive sessions. The groups page layout resembles the ‘old’ simple Facebook, where you just see posts in a linear way, one on top of the other, with the most recently commented on post at the top. You can even create different groups for different chats, so that the chat sessions don’t interrupt your main page’s functioning and confuse visitors if they don’t realise a chat is going on.

You can make the group open so it is easier for fans to participate, or add more security by making it a secret group in which you have to manually add members, or people can request to join. This is more of a hassle, but can be good for chats that you don’t want visible to the public. Remember, everything you post on a Facebook page is 100% visible to anyone in the world (your Facebook ‘friend’ profile can be visible publically too, unless you adjust your settings and posts to ‘friends only’). You can tell if your posts are public by the presence of a little ‘world globe’ icon under your posts, so if you have this and don’t want complete strangers seeing your posts, change your settings quick smart! Also, if you comment on someone’s public post (ie; their post has a globe icon under it), then your comment will be made public.

Now, back to the cheat sheet for setting up and organising your Facebook timeline page:

 

Facebook Page Timeline Design Cheat Sheet

Facebook Page Timeline Design Cheat Sheet

10 Marketing Tips For Authors – from a business perspective

Instead of writing another blog post about writing, I thought I’d share some marketing pearls of wisdom for a change, as I know many authors struggle in this area or simply don’t enjoy it, or they’re not sure what to do. In fact, at the RWA conference in Melbourne earlier this year, I think I was the only person in the room out of hundreds who raised their hand when Bob Mayer asked “Who enjoys self-promotion?”!

I don’t claim to be an expert when it comes to marketing novels, but writing is a business. I have eight years experience in running a business and several years combined training in both online and offline marketing, selling skills, copywriting, and public speaking. I also won a marketing award in my industry in 2008 (health industry), and have self-published a non-fiction paperback book and several ebooks. Many marketing strategies are transferable across different industries, so I hope by sharing what I’ve learned in business you’ll pick up some useful tips on how to market yourself and your books.

Before I start, I want to address the issue of ‘self-promotion’. Many authors I’ve spoken to would prefer to hide under a blanket than tell the world how great their books are! They don’t want to come across as egotistical or feel like they are ‘selling’ something, and some hold a lot of self-doubt and are afraid of getting rejected or ridiculed. Without going into a long speech about how having false beliefs about yourself can limit your success and hold you back in all areas of your life, I’ll just say one thing: If you’ve written and published (self or traditionally) a book and hope that readers will buy it and enjoy it – then you are essentially a sales person as well as a writer, so get used to it! You are not selling your writing skills, you are selling entertainment and enjoyment, an escape from real life, and an experience that the reader will (hopefully) remember and recommend to others. Readers WANT to read, so by marketing your books in appropriate ways, you are providing a valuable service to readers by linking them to a book that will meet what they’re looking for. You’re not forcing them to open their wallets and hand over money, whether they do that or not is their choice, but how you market can influence their decision to buy or not to buy.

A big mistake I see a lot of business owners (including writers) make, is making it all about THEM. I this and I thatblah, blah, blah. When it comes to selling anything, you need to tune your radio to the station that customers, or in this case, readers, are listening to: WII FM. This stands for What’s In It For Me. If a person is considering buying something, they want to know what’s in it for them. What benefit will they get? How will this add value to their lives? In the case of novels, focus on the benefit or experience the reader will get out of reading your book. Will it make them laugh till their belly hurts? Will it give them chills and make them jump with fear or excitement? Will it take them on an emotional journey and leave them with a smile on their face at the end? Or maybe it will help them discover new and exciting places and cultures. So don’t say “I’ve written this book about this and that and you might like to read it”, say something along the lines of “This book will have you laughing out loud and… (insert other benefits here).” Of course, everyone reacts to a book differently so you can’t always ‘tell’ a person what they will feel, but hopefully you get my drift.

Another thing to think about is: ‘WHO are you marketing to?’ You could have an excellent website, compelling copy, and a fantastic book, but if your target market is not seeing it then it doesn’t matter. Take a piece of paper, or open a word document and write at the top of the page: ‘My ideal reader:’, and then make a list of all the qualities that your ideal reader may have. If you’ve written a book in a fairly clear-cut genre then this will be easier. You could list their age range, gender, what occupations/industries they might work in, whether they are parents, what area they live in, what hobbies they have, where they go for fun, what they do in their spare time, what magazines they might read…anything really. Now you might be thinking “How the heck am I supposed to know all these details?”, but you don’t have to know them exactly, you are just getting ideas that will help you in your marketing efforts. It is better than not knowing at all who your readers are or should be, and getting clear on your ideal reader can actually help you ‘attract’ those readers, as we tend to attract what we focus our attention on in life. Another thing you can do is send a survey to your current readers, and then see if there are any common traits among them. For example, if you find that many attend gyms or fitness centres quite regularly, you might think of arranging an author talk at some fitness centres. This is just an idea of course, a lot of people who aren’t your readers will also attend gyms, but again, I hope you get my drift!

When it comes to marketing your books, you are also marketing yourself. In business, this is all about positioning yourself as a trusted authority in your field, but as an author, it is more about connecting with readers and letting people learn more about you as a writer and a person. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal, but not too personal. Don’t go and tell them everything that’s going on in your life, or say things you might regret later. Keep professional, but be true to yourself and be authentic.

Once you know WHO you’re marketing to, WHAT they’re going to get out of your product, and you’re CONNECTING authentically with potential readers, you can start to implement some specific tips. I won’t go into detail about everything, because this topic could be a book in itself (hey, there’s an idea!), but here are ten tips and strategies to help you maximise your marketing efforts:

1. When tweeting, posting facebook updates, or emailing your followers, think in terms of one ‘promotional message’ for every two ‘content messages’ as a general rule. This means, don’t just tweet and post messages that try to sell or link to your book. Space these types of messages out with ‘non-selling’ messages that talk about you, what’s going on in your day, valuable info, helpful or interesting links that your followers might like, jokes, or ask questions to your followers…etc. If you just sell sell sell, your follower count will probably start to drop drop drop, along with your sales. Don’t appear desperate (see above picture), it is a turn-off. Check your tweet history or status updates and see how often you’re promoting compared to how often you’re providing value.

2. You MUST have a way to capture email addresses on your website and/or blog. Followers and fans are not enough, because not all your followers will see ALL of your updates, but they will always check their emails. They might not open every email, but at least your email subject will be seen, and then you can use copywriting skills that will make it more likely for them to open your email. When someone has given you their email address, you are legally allowed to keep emailing them until they unsubscribe. I see so many author websites that don’t have an ‘opt-in’ or subscription form, or it’s not easily visible, and they are probably missing out on HEAPS of potential readers/buyers. Often when I am looking at an author’s website, I might not be ready at that moment to buy one of their books, but if they have a subscription form I’ll fill in my details so that I don’t forget about them, and then when I’m ready, I might buy their book later on. When I first started online marketing in the health industry, I focused on building up a list of potential buyers in the niche I had chosen, and by the time I had created a saleable product, I had a list of hungry people to market to. This is now a five-figure list that continues to grow. I say this not to impress you, but to impress upon you how many future sales you could be missing out on by not setting up an email subscription form.

3. Offer an incentive for people who sign up to your mailing list. This is not essential as an author, but helps a lot. Think of something you can easily give away for free, and preferably something that the subscriber can receive automatically, like a download link inserted into an autoresponder/autoreply email, for an ebook or pdf copy of a short story, or an anthology, or even a non-fiction e-guide that relates to what you write about. You could also record yourself reading an excerpt from your book and offer this as a free mp3 download.

4. Have the ‘Top 4’ when it comes to online presence: a website, a blog, a facebook page, and a twitter account. An additional option is a YouTube account.

Website: this means having your own domain name (website address) and hosting. Dot com’s are best. Yes you can get a free blog-type website but you do not own these sites, and sometimes technical things go wrong and you have no control over them. By getting a proper paid-for website hosting you are ensuring more stability, freedom, and control, and have tech people working behind the scenes to help if problems arise.

As mentioned before, have an opt-in form, an author bio, details of your books and links for where to buy them, what book is coming next, and contact details. It helps to have a photo so people can see the real person behind the books.

Blog: Use free blog sites like wordpress or blogger to quickly and easily set up a blog, where you can post your thoughts, articles, links, and competitions to interact with readers. Blogs are more ‘search-engine-friendly’, so it is easier to get visitors to a blog than a website. The more you blog, the more the search engines like you. I prefer wordpress as it makes it easy for people to comment, without needing certain online accounts and going through irritating procedures in order to leave a comment. Just a note, WordPress.com is for free blogs hosted by wordpress. WordPress.org is also free but you need your own hosting.

Facebook: Set up a personal account and also a ‘fan page’. Whether you just use a personal (friend) account or a page to reach people is up to you, but keep in mind that you can only have up to 5000 friends on a personal page, but can have unlimited fans on a ‘page’. Having a page relies on getting ‘likes’ from people though, and can take longer to build up than sending friend requests on a personal page. If you have a page, realise that everything you write is public, whereas if you post on a personal account, you can choose to share your status publically, or only among friends. It is also a good idea to have a fan page for each of your books.

Twitter: Set up a twitter username that is memorable, and use it to post tweets/messages that are 140 characters or less. Again, remember the 1 to 2 rule; one promo message for every two general messages, or even less in the case of twitter. Use hashtags (# followed by a keyword) to attract new followers interested in your topic. Eg: #romancenovels to attract readers and writers and bloggers of romance fiction, or if you’ve written a story based on the Titanic, add #titanic to your tweet. Be sure to reply to other’s tweets, and support other people by ‘retweeting’ their tweets. [Update! Read my post about Twitter Basics for Authors here.]

YouTube: Worth a mention, because YouTube gets a HUGE amount of visitors each day. Don’t think you have to have fancy videos of your own to use YouTube, you don’t even need videos! You can use an account to comment on other videos and book trailers, ‘friend’ other users, and subscribe to channels. You can also mark videos as favourites. If you do want to have videos on your channel, it is fairly easy for non-techy’s to learn how to make a simple video. My son showed me how to make one in only a few minutes using windows movie maker. However, when it comes to promoting a book in this way, quality is more important than say, if you were giving how-to advice for making a bookcase. With most non-fiction, people are looking for ‘solutions’ or ‘tips’, whereas with fiction, people are looking for entertainment, so quality counts in this case. Another idea is to use your webcam or get someone to shoot a video of you reading an excerpt from your novel. Or, you could film an interesting tour of where your book is set, if it is based on a real place.

5. Have a new book coming out? Don’t wait till it’s out before you start promoting, create a marketing frenzy in the weeks leading up to the release date! A six-week time frame is a good amount of time. If you have an email database, email them once every week until the book is released, saying how many weeks to go. Eg: 6 weeks to go, 5 weeks to go…etc. And with each email, have some kind of value to provide to your subscribers. It may be an excerpt, a useful tip, a journal-style letter, or a weekly competition. Be creative and generate some excitement around your release. I have used this in business with great results. When the book is released, you might want to offer something as a bonus for everyone who buys the book from Amazon in a specific 24-hour period. That way you can be in with a chance of rising up the Amazon top sellers list. Simply get the reader to email you their receipt so you can forward them the bonus.

6. Increase traffic to your site or blog by having guest posts by other authors. This is a win-win situation, because not only are you getting more visitors to your site, the guest is getting more publicity for themselves.

7. List signed copies of your books on eBay. eBay is often underused, as people think you use it mostly to sell household items, but you can sell pretty much ANYTHING on eBay! I have seen listing for things such as ‘spells’ for sale… yes, witchcraft spells! If you’re traditionally published you probably sell most of your books through bookstores rather than directly from yourself, but make sure you always have some signed copies available to give away or sell yourself. And if you list your book on eBay, try including some other bonus with it, such as a promotional item, a small gift, another book, or even a ten minute phone conversation for the reader to ask you questions! You can also sell gift vouchers so that the recipient can choose which of your books they would like.

8. When linking to online bookstores to sell your book, use an affiliate link. Many online stores have affiliate programs, whereby you can earn a percentage of each sale that comes through your unique affiliate link. Rather than just getting your royalty payment, you can increase the amount earned for each book through an affiliate commission. It may not be much, but it all adds up! Amazon and The Book Depository are two such websites that offer affiliate programs.

9. Create a live webinar to invite potential readers to. This one is getting on the techy-side, but might be worth considering. A webinar is basically a seminar, presentation, or talk that is done via the internet using special software. We all know that author talks and signings are a popular form of marketing, but what about all those people who live too far away to attend? A webinar is a leveraged way to reach a lot of people by replicating what you would do at a live talk, only online instead. Of course you can’t meet them face to face or sign their book, but you can still present a talk, and even use your webcam, or just use your voice with various pictures and photos on the screen as you talk. Webinars also offer the option for live attendees to type in questions, which you can then answer. If exploring the use of webinars seems too tricky or expensive (as you need to pay for a subscription), consider approaching business owners who use webinars and ask to be a featured guest.

10. Think beyond the book. It can be tricky to earn large amounts of money just from books. Many authors do of course, but many still need a day job. Think about what else you could offer readers apart from the book. Maybe there’s some other product or service that is related to the book or to your specific skills that you can offer, or maybe there’s a ‘club’ you could create for a select group of people that certain fans would be willing to pay for in exchange for the value you provide them. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a way to ‘rip anyone off’, this is just about thinking outside the box and seeing if there’s an untapped market or idea you could explore. When in doubt, ask your readers what they want!

Whoaa… that’s the longest blog post I’ve ever written, you’d think I was a writer or something! I hope you’ve found some gems among the waffle, and if you’d like more detail on any tips in particular, feel free to comment and I may just do a separate blog post.

And… if you like this post, make sure you share it with others, and subscribe to my blog by filling in your email address on the right side of the page so you don’t miss out on other blog posts! (another little tip there!)

Happy marketing! 🙂