Sunday, November 23, 2014
Writing a Series -- Marketing/Publishing Part 3
Today we're going to discuss all the ways we can market our book. To recap from my previous posts -- We have our books ready to publish, we have our covers, our cover copy, we have our future first chapters in the backs of the books. We have a blog or FB site on which we post regularly. We have some followers. We are ready to click that tab that says "publish".
No matter if you're self-publishing or with a traditional or small press publisher, you have to do your own marketing. Where do we start? With our social media sites. Social media means being social -- it's where you INTERACT with people.
Phase One -- Social Media Sites
If you've been blogging regularly, your followers will know what you're working on, and if you have set up the email app in the side bar for fans to follow you with email in their inbox, they'll know too. I love that email box. It's so much better than a newsletter. Why pay for something, or build something, when it's built in for you.
Also, buy links are important. I have them on my sidebar, but one fan wrote me a few months ago and told me I should have them on every single blog post I write. (Honestly, I haven't had time to set up a perma-link but I will.)
Announce the big day on your blog. If you have a few blog friends, ask them if you can guest post, or if they will help you announce it. Like a blog tour but a mini-version. Perhaps one a week for six weeks. You don't want to overwhelm people with much more than that, and assuredly, if they see your book every day for six weeks, they'll tune it out.
Some people ask for review requests on their blog or FB pages about a month before publication. I've done that, and have not met with success. Of course, I write Regency romance, and it's a niche market, so my pool of reviewers is very low to begin with. However, a few reviews to start never hurts.
I only announce new publications once or twice on Twitter. I don't do a massive scheduling of Tweets. (I tried it twice and my sales actually went DOWN. So I don't do that anymore.) I Tweet that it's out, and post a picture of the cover. I also say where it's published. If I'm everywhere, I say "across the board", if I'm only at Amazon or B&N I'll say that and have a buy link. Sometimes my friends take it from there and ReTweet for me and that's always helpful, but I don't expect it and don't ask for it. And then I'm done.
I know nothing about FB, I'm not on it and have no care to be, so you're pretty much on your own there. I'll say, post once with the cover and cover copy and call it good.
I'm on this site, but don't use it very often. It's tied into the blogspot blog, so it's just an easy click away, but to me it's redundant. If you have followers on your blog, they've already seen it. If you have the same followers on Google +, they'll see it twice. If you have a Word Press blog, it might be to your advantage to utilize this option.
Phase Two -- Stagnant Media Sites
I love this because it's visual. If you go to my Pinterest page, I have the cover picture, the cover copy, and then pictures of who I think my characters are. You can utilize this any way you want, which is great. (Just remember to post the original link where you found the pic.)
I consider this a stagnant site because I don't go there very often, only to update my content. However, I know some people who use it like Blog/FaceBook/Twitter combined. (Honestly, I don't have time to mess around with it.) I'm there if you want to find me.
This is another site that could go either way. I have all my books listed there, but I don't socialize. I've heard too many horror stories about trolls and bad reviews and author meltdowns. I don't have time for drama so basically stay away from there. However, if you're also doing paperback versions of your book, this is a great place to to do a give-away. They also have "Ask the Author", where a reader poses a question, and you, as author get to answer it. I have never utilized this, but I think it could be a great marketing tool.
Tumblr/MySpace/Shelfari/Wattpad/Scribd/Whatever else is out there
I have no idea how many sites you're on, but whether they're stagnant or social, you should try to update them when you have new books out.
Phase Three -- Links
Now, some people I know have linked their blogs to all of these sites so whenever you go to any of them, you see the post. I used to do this, but again, to me it's kind of redundant. If they've clicked the email link on your blog, they've already seen your post. And again, some readers are just that, readers. They don't care what you're doing as long as you're writing the next book. Other readers are fans who are mildly curious and will only check out where you are once. And then there are those fans who want to know everything you're doing.
I have them listed on my sidebar on my blog. (I'm missing a few and will rectify this shortly.) I also keep them handy for Twitter and I use Bit.ly for that, a shortening link service. (Why waste 140 characters when you can get it down to 20) There are others out there but I can't think of them right this second.
Back matter is the stuff you find at the end of the book. Generally a short author profile, where you can find the author (what social media they use), and a list of their other books. Some authors have their other titles hyper-linked to buy. However, you need to have separate back matter pages for each of the publishers you use. Amazon won't take kindly if you have links to B&N or itunes. Smashwords won't allow it at all. You can't cross-pollinate as it were.
And this now brings us to WHERE we are going to publish.
Phase Four -- Publishers
Quite honestly, I think Amazon's hey-day is over. I'm sure you can read other author's opinions on this, but my opinion is that they set up their empire to turn traditional publishing on its ear by giving self-published authors a place to be read. The Kindle was new, and needed authors and Amazon built their billions on self-publishing. They gave us the world (great royalties, great algorithms, great author ranking) but then once they made their money, they turned to traditional publishers and gave them those same opportunities and pushed us indies out.
I told you that to tell you this -- Some authors swear by Amazon and won't use another publishing aggregate (Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, BookBaby, Google Play), but in my opinion, you're cutting off your nose to spite your face. We're writers first, wanting to get our books read. Why limit your audience? There are English speaking people all over the world who have access to different types of e-reading devices. Don't limit yourself. (And just so you know, Amazon's terms of service to some of their countries don't allow easy access to our books. I have never sold one book in Japan, Brazil, Mexico, or India. Very few in Canada, Australia, Spain, and Italy. And only a handful in Germany and France.)
Their interface is very easy to use, and you can upload a Word document, or a mobi. version. (For a mobi. version you need the Mobipocket Creator which you need to download to your computer.)
Royalty rates are 30/70% 30% for anything under $2.99 and over $9.99 70% for anything between $2.99 and $9.99 I have never used their Countdown or their Kindle Unlimited services so I can't tell you anything about that. They also have special requirements for some of their stores (India Japan Mexico Brazil) Read the fine print.
Amazon will also link your blog posts to your Author Page. And if you don't have an Author Page, set one up.
Barnes & Noble is the publishing company. Nook is the e-publishing arm of that company. You can only upload an epub version, which gets tricky, but I use Calibre which converts a prc.doc (which is what you have after you use the Mobi Creator). Now, with the latest version of Calibre, you can also make other versions of your book for other aggregators. PDF, LTF, Mobi, Epub, Plain Text, etc. etc.
Royalty rates are 40/60 same price points as above. They only cater to US and Great Britain.
I love Smashwords. It's the easiest way to get your books to everywhere all at once. Nook, Amazon, itunes, Kobo, Scribd, txtr, Blio (for libraries), and a few others I can't recall. This is also the easiest one of them all to use. Upload your Word document and you're done. Smashwords will convert it to every single e-book file you need. The book companies they have are global.
Royalty rates are 60% across the board.
Smashwords has a Profile Page which allows you to create your own interview. Questions are interchangeable, and you can make up your own if you like. You can update it any time.
You need a Mac to publish with them. I know nothing else about it. I use Smashwords.
I also know nothing about them. I believe they have the same stores as Smashwords plus or minus one or two.
I am set up to use Kobo, but I don't because they only pay out every six months with $100 balance (Which they may have changed. I don't know for sure.) I use Smashwords for them as well
I just recently decided to publish with them, but I'm jumping through hoops to get it done. Set-up is tricky, conversion for epubs is decidedly difficult, and their interface is kind of a nightmare. Which is why, I believe, no one but traditional publishers are publishing there. However, I never say die, and if I actually get a book published with them I'll let you know what I did.
Phase Five -- Keywords
Keywords are the words that you plug in on the interface when uploading your book so people can find it when they search. Some of my main keywords are "traditional Regency romance, Jane Austen, clean regency romance, historical romance". Each of my books has other keywords that are specific to that particular book -- pirates, espionage, divorce, etc.
Some authors twist themselves into knots trying to write cover copy that also has their specific keywords in it. I don't do that. Probably because I'm overwhelmed with all the stuff I need to do to begin with. But more power to you if you can. I hear it helps in SEO. (Search Engine Optimization.)
You also want to get keywords onto your document file as well. (Notice I said onto and not into) When you open your Word document, click File and then Properties, which has a place for keywords (among other things). When using Calibre, you can also add keywords to their property page as well. I'm finding this is very important.
Now, I've given you the basics, the rest is up to you. I'm sure if you wanted to do a search for any of the topics I've talked about you can find hundreds of other blogs and website postings to help you along your way. As we say now, " Just Google It ". That's how I found all of my information.
Writing a book is hard work. That's no lie. There's nothing easy about it. Publishing and Marketing is even harder. My only advice is just write the best book you can. Find a couple critique partners and maybe beta readers, and allow them to help you make it even better. Take baby steps when you dive in. Once you do it a couple of times, it gets easier. And utilize your blog friends, your Twitter peeps, and FaceBook followers if you need some help. That's what's nice about social media -- it's like a giant cocktail party and you never know who you're going to meet.
And I think we're done. Questions and comments are always welcome. Thanks for sticking around.
Anne Gallagher (c) 2014