Adventures in Self-Publishing – Marketing 1.1

One of the primary skills needed to sell your book is marketing. Many people don’t like pushy sales people – so don’t be pushy. If little and often works then go for it but if someone doesn’t want to buy your book then, they don’t. Don’t pester folks.

  1. Marketing
  • Marketing (no one is going to buy your book if they don’t know it’s there. Many people don’t like the pushy salesperson (I certainly don’t), but there are ways and means. I took a course (Diploma in social media marketing) with Shaw Academy. This was a bargain – the course is usually a couple of hundred pounds but a friend put me onto Living Social which offers all sorts of stuff at real bargain prices. It has everything from weekend breaks, to courses, to laptops or whatever. As I understand it – they have a small amount at the low price and when they are gone they are gone.  Check out these bargain sites – you’d be surprised what you find.
  • Facebook – There are zillions of pages and groups on FB. Set up an author page (you can do this from your main account). If you have somehow managed to avoid FB then I’m sorry it’s a good idea to get an account. There are lots of groups devoted to blogging, genre books, author groups, writing groups, promo groups – you name it there will be  FB group for it. Join a few – and CHECK THE RULES. Some let you promo, some let you promo with restrictions (once a week/once a day), and some are non-promo but good for advice and networking. Facebook really wants you to spend your money and buy ads. I haven’t as yet – and I have heard mixed reviews on whether it’s useful. But I understand you can spend a small amount to have a small ad. You can promote in some groups for free – but the reach is limited. Prepare to spend a lot of time on social media…
  • Twitter/Tweetdeck – If you are going to use Twitter to promote then get Tweetdeck. It’s free and it makes managing your Tweets much easier. You can schedule tweets, add graphics, and see what you’ve booked in and when. You can attach more than one Twitter account to it.  Does Twitter help? Probably – there are a lot of cross-tweeting groups, and many people follow there.
  • Linked-in – This is more of a professional site – many employers look there. I’ve been contacted via LI more than once about jobs (all of which were utterly unsuitable), but it’s another forum. 
  • Pinterest – I love pinterest. I set up a page for all the interviews and promo from the blog, but mostly I use it for pics of animals, Phantom of the Opera, and random interesting stuff.  Again there are reader and author groups.

There are countless others but keep in mind how many sites you’re going to have to manage. Even with Hootsuite (for FB, Linked in, Tumblr and Twitter) and Tweetdeck it’s still a couple of hours a night for me. That’s two hours not writing…

You could ignore the marketing, do less than I do and it MIGHT work, but then again it might not. Promotion of your book will get you sales. No one knows it’s there – no one buys it. Simple as.

Blogging/Website. 

Set up an author website if you can – again if you aren’t very good at that kind of thing then look for a course or watch You-Tube. There is plenty of free/cheap advice about if you look. WordPress is fairly easy (and free for the basic package), Wix, Squarespace, Blogger etc are other options. Also, set up a blog. My website is the ‘official’ author site – it lists the books, about me and is updated when there is something new. The blog is more informal (and gets more traffic). You can blog about anything – books you’ve written, books you’ve read, your cat/dog/rabbit/degu, plants, recipes or whatever. It’s good writing practice – builds a network of followers who might check out your book(s) and it’s fun. I will say this – pick what you blog about carefully. If you want to go rant about some reviewer leaving your book a 1-star review on Amazon; politics; what someone famous has or hasn’t done then go ahead but keep in mind what goes on the internet stays on the internet. It’s easy for a reader to misunderstand a comment, and if you start bitching then someone will notice and it’s likely to end up with a slanging match – which is public. You’re the author, you’re the brand. Being a jerk can harm this brand. You can’t undo it. I’ve seen authors behave badly – slagging off readers who rated a book low, or making some derogatory comment about a reader’s opinion or intelligence. It didn’t end well.  You have been warned.

 

 

 

Audiobooks – an author’s experience – Frankie Bow

Today I am pleased to welcome Frankie Bow. She has just released an audio book with narrator Nicole Gose, and Frankie has joined us to tell us what she has learned from the experience.

Over to you Frankie:

I’ve just released my audiobook, The Musubi Murder. It’s the first campus murder mystery set in Hawaii. The experience was great, and as of this writing I’m happy to report a 4.5 star rating on ten reviews on Audible.

There were some surprises along the way. Here are are four things that I didn’t expect:

  1. My narrator managed to impersonate me, without ever having heard my voice.Several friends, to whom I’ve gifted copies of the audiobook, have told me that they thought I was the narrator. I am not the narrator. That role was filled by Nicole Gose, a talented voice artist from Hawaii. The thing is, Nicole recorded the chapters without having ever heard my voice. And I know she doesn’t naturally sound like me, because I listened to her audition tapes. The only explanation I can think of is that she captured the “voice” of the author so well that it seemed that she was telling her own story, rather than reading someone else’s.
  1. A versatile narrator requires fewer dialog tags.In the written manuscript, you need dialog tags like “Pat said” in order to keep track of who’s talking, especially in three-way conversations. When your narrator can clearly voice three different characters, though, many of the tags become unnecessary–and annoying. After listening to the first pass, I actually went back and edited many of the dialog tags out of the manuscript. Nicole was very patient with me, and did the necessary edits and re-recording. Removing those few words made a big difference.
  1. It’s not going to turn out the way it sounded in your head. I thought I had written a low-key meditation on academic life, and I found myself listening to a boisterous comedy. Part of this was Nicole’s delivery (her comic timing is fantastic) and part of it is simply the medium. Producing an audiobook was a little like writing a play. I wasn’t calling all the shots anymore; I was a co-creator with the performer. And I knew not to micromanage.
  1. Audiobooks don’t have the discoverability of ebooks–yet.Audible doesn’t have the narrow categories that Amazon has, so there’s no “cozy mystery” category, just “modern detective.” That means that “The Cherry Cheesecake Murder” is in the same category as “The Burning Room.”

Audible doesn’t currently allow authors to put in keywords. So “The Musubi Murder” won’t come up under searches for “cozy mysteries,” “Hawaii,” “university,” or “campus.” (Also: I don’t recommend searching for “campus.”) Searching for “murder” does bring up “The Musubi Murder,” fortunately, because “murder” in the title.

The next book in the series is tentatively titled The Cursed Canoe. But if Audible still isn’t allowing keywords by the time it comes out, I may have to change the title to “The Cursed Canoe: A Funny Cozy Murder Mystery Set In Hawaii Also Sue Grafton Janet Evanovich Joanne Dobson Amanda Cross.”

Thanks Frankie, it certainly is a learning curve!

Here are the audiobook links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Musubi-Murder-Unabridged/dp/B00S7LPC8Y/

http://www.amazon.com/The-Musubi-Murder/dp/B00S8J6W34/

And the hardback: http://www.amazon.com/The-Musubi-Murder-Frankie-Bow/dp/1432830740/

Thunderclap – One User’s Experience

After my recent post about Thunderclap, the crowd-speaking platform, I decided to interview author David Toft about his experiences.

Hi David, and thanks for joining us. How did you first discover Thunderclap?

The more I think about this question, the less sure I am about the answer. I think a writer friend contacted me asking for support for their campaign, but I honestly can’t remember.

 

Can you tell us about your promotions?

I’ve run three promotions. The first to generate interest in my current trilogy and linked to Amazon’s listing of book one.

I decided to visit my back catalogue for the second and chose Ishtal, a fantasy published by Wings ePress a couple of years ago. Again I linked to the book’s Amazon listing.

Back to the Kyklos Trilogy for campaign number three, and again linking to Amazon’s listing of book one, The Cycles Turn. It’s reached 140% support and is due to go ‘live’ in a couple of days. If it’s not too late you can add your support at http://thndr.it/1nzIjXj

 

What is involved? How much leg work did you have to do?

Thunderclap campaigns are amazingly easy to set up. If I can do it, anyone can. Getting those one hundred supporters is where the work comes in. It doesn’t sound a lot, but believe me it isn’t easy. I was on my own for all but the last few days of my first campaign and spent an awful lot of time that should have been writing time begging for support from facebook groups, on twitter and on Google+. If you’re thinking of setting up a campaign, join a mutual support group such as Thunderclap Campaigns, or Stormbuilders, on Facebook

 

Tell us about your successes? How have you benefited?

I think there’s a danger that running a successful campaign becomes an end in itself. All my campaigns have been successful in that they’ve all achieved the required support and gone live. My aim when I started was to boost book sales, and the first two campaigns failed to do that to any noticeable extent. Here’s hoping that number three is different.It’s all about exposure, people tell me, and yes Thunderclap campaigns have increased my exposure, particularly on Twitter, increasing my follower numbers and generating retweets and favourites.

 

Did you discover any pitfalls?

None, really, but remember that if you’re in a mutual support group, every Thunderclap campaign that you support will appear on your Facebook timeline. If you don’t want that timeline plastered with erotica, be selective.

 

Would you recommend Thunderclap?

I would, as a means of increasing your exposure, and it’s free which appeals to me as a Yorkshireman.

 

What promotional advice do you have for others looking to use such crowd-sharing features?

Join a mutual support group, but be a little selective, if you want to keep your Facebook timeline free of certain posts, support via Twitter only, you’ll get your support returned and keep your timeline clean.

If you choose Thunderclap, when you support another campaign click on the ‘tweet’ option. Doing this doubled my number of Twitter followers and gained me more retweets and favourited tweets than I’ve ever seen before.

Enjoy! It can be fun and you’ll make more friends.

Library of Erana – one year old! Lessons, advice and reminiscence

Apparently this blog is one year old today. It doesn’t seem a year! So what has the last year brought and what have I learned? Has the adventure been worth it?

I was a little sceptical when I began, if truth be told. Would the blog take away from writing time? Would anyone want to read my posts? What on earth would I actually write about?  I don’t post every day, but I do try and post weekly and vary the interviews, I reblog, I follow others and now I have twitter I tweet the posts. Whether that helps is another post entirely.

The blog doesn’t have a massive following, but it does have followers, and some of them are kind enough to comment on posts, to reblog and to tell others. I’ve had various positive comments and I have more author and character interviews than I ever expected, of a wide variety and I’ve even run editor and reader interviews, which have been fascinating.

Blogging is a great networking tool, in a digital and international world it is a great way to meet people and to build a brand. More than that, however it is a lot of fun. Some people blog in order to rant about things or people which upset them, some to promote their work, some to just voice their opinions and so every blog is different. I have met a huge mix of people through blogging and swapped interviews, bought books and found friends.

There have been over forty author interviews, thirteen character interviews, eighteen reader interviews, six editor interviews and even a couple of cover artist ones. Do I have favourites? Of course – mainly the interviews and posts detailing the challenges faced by a blind author and reader and the many fantasy interviews – including one with the ghost horse from Sacred Band.  I’ve written about reviews, and how useful they might be, courses I have taken, books I’ve read, whether text speak is the evolution of language, the pervasiveness of fantasy and, of course, my new releases.

Have I learned anything? Yes of course. Being a writer is a steep learning curve and the lessons learned from both being a blogger and being interviewed for other people’s blogs have been important.  It has given me the chance to think about what it means to be an indie author, honed my writing skills, what is and isn’t important to me as a writer and what advice I might give to other new writers. I’ve thought as my characters, as a reader and I’ve started reviewing a lot more books.  All in all it has been a busy year – The Shining Citadel and Tales of Erana were released, not to mention the other anthologies and 2014 will be equally busy, if not more so.

Here’s my advice to new writers:

Be patient. Building a following takes time and needs a lot of leg work.

Write what you want to write, if you force the story to be something it isn’t you’ll be unhappy and that will show. Readers will notice.

Readers aren’t stupid, they will notice implausibility, inconsistency and weak plot/characters.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time. There will always be someone who is offended, doesn’t like the book, or perhaps doesn’t see it in the way the author intended. Bad reviews happen. Don’t respond publicly and just move on. Reviews aren’t for authors anyway.

Build a network – indie authors are usually a supportive lot and happy to help one another out. Have a launch day? Ask your blogger friends to mention it. Swap interviews and advice.

Read the FAQ and the TOS of the sites on which you publish. Please! A lot of mistakes and confusion can be avoided. Amazon is not out to con you. If you distrust your publishing site why are you doing business with them?

Produce the best product you can. No book is perfect but try and do the best you can do.

Readers – see above. No book is perfect.

People review for all sorts of reasons and in many ways. A 3 star review is not necessarily bad.

Readers – free does not necessarily equate to rubbish, bad writing does that and that is NOT limited to the freebie pile. It is a marketing tool, nothing more. Authors weigh up the pros and cons before you embark on this. There are still some who do see free books as devaluing literature and if an author doesn’t believe his/her work is worth any money then why should a reader?

Enjoy the book, if you don’t move on. Life is too short to waste on bad books.

Take a chance on Indie authors, there are some real gems out there.