I am continuing the series on media training and marketing for authors which is adapted from my media training course for small businesses and charities. Authors are small businesses with a product that needs marketing to obtain sales. Once you start thinking of yourself as a business it tends to focus your mind differently.
Gathering at the right waterholes.
Have you ever been to one of those parties where it appears that everyone is speaking a foreign language or where everyone is talking about something that is completely unknown to you? I have. When my husband was offered his job in Spain, he went ahead for the first three or so years, and I would go over every six weeks for five days. His company directors generously took us out to the Madrid hotspots in the first few visits, and in those days I didn’t understand a word of Spanish (still not great even after fifteen years of living there!).
However, I would nod and smile and get David to translate direct questions, and the waiters would usually bring me a menu with a translation (although sometimes this was not necessarily helpful, and as in Spain, some parts of the animal are relished when deep fried, I would rather have remained in ignorance!).
My point is I was completely and utterly out of my comfort zone, embarrased to open my mouth with my newly acquired Spanglais leading me to rely a little bit too heavily on the comforting notes of a good Rioja.
I use this snippet to demonstrate the way many authors that I have come into contact feel when it comes to marketing themselves and their books. I mentioned in an earlier post that I almost had to drag authors into the radio studio, kicking and screaming to do an interview.
Let us be clear.
If you want what is termed ‘Traditional’ publishing, and more importantly readers, to take you seriously, you have to get over yourselves. You are in the Indie publishing business, and as with all businesses that have spent time in research and development, beta testing, human trials and production process, you need to sell your product with the same amount of commitment and effort.
At this point I must just add a note of caution.… going back to the party analogy….. there is something worse than not being able to understand what everyone else is saying… and that is being sat next to the bore. You know the one who never stops talking about themselves and their job, life, family, travels, successes and latest medical problem. Every time you try to get a word in to change the subject, they are back again with something else about their latest run in with their boss and how they won a bronze medal for life-saving at age ten.
What do you normally do? Usually if you cannot move seats, you turn to the person on your other side and completely ignore them for the rest of the meal.
And this is what usually happens on social media to authors who only ever promote themselves and their books. There are ways to mute those who follow you on the various social media platform, and whilst I am a paid up member of the Indie author movement, and love promoting other authors, I will hit that mute button if you fill my timeline with several self-promoting posts each day and sometimes several times a day. .
You should absolutely promote your work from time to time, but I tell you what is the most effective way to market yourself and your books, and that is sharing another author’s work.
- Every time you promote another author you are promoting yourself and therefore your books.
- Each time your reblog another author’s posts and share your space with them you are bringing future readers of your books into your place of business.
- Every time you retweet another author’s tweet it appears in your timeline and brings future readers of your books into your place of business.
- Everytime you share another author’s post on Facebook you are bringing potential readers into your place of business.
I think by now you have gathered that I consider your blog, website and social media platforms as your place of business and important watering holes where you can meet other authors and potential readers.
Exclusive watering holes for like minded writers and readers.
These are the number one watering holes where authors and readers gather and exchange information about books. However, you can split off from these main watering holes and make an even more effective impact by joining groups where your specific genre is appreciated and sort after. Let me give you some examples.
Romance Reader Group on Facebook with 15, 229 members: https://www.facebook.com/groups/romancereaders/
Horror & Paranormal readers and writers 2,000 members: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HorrorandParanormalAuthorsandReaders/
Fantasy & Sci-Fi Fans, Artists, Readers, Writers, Filmmakers & Cosplayers 16,500 members: https://www.facebook.com/groups/543825505643770/
You get the idea. These are the specialist watering holes and most platforms have similar groups to check out. I suggest that next time you are on social media that you search for your particular genre on non-fiction subject and find yourself an exclusive spa to hang out on.
Why you need an Amazon Author Page, especially if you have more than one book on the largest watering hole for books and readers. (You need three actually, one for your country of origin and then one on Amazon US and UK)
One of my frustrations as a book promoter, is to find that an author has two or more books scattered across Amazon. I don’t just feature one book, I will also include the other books and a link to buy them all. So whilst I will link to the specific book I am showcasing, I need to send potential readers to a central point where they can view all the books, and click on each one to view and buy.
This is a fundamental advertising and selling element of marketing your books.
Remember you are in business, and if you were selling shoes, or paint or lipsticks you would not have them spread up and down the highstreet, and make your potential customers hunt for them. The Amazon author page is another of your places of business and needs to have a good shopfront and be kept up to date.
You need a decent photograph, as however shy you might be, unless you are on the run from the FBI, your readers would like to see you and that personal touch can help you sell books.
Obviously you need to think carefully about the photograph you put up there if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. This does not involve you spending hundreds of pounds or dollars, getting a professional photographer to do a portfolio. These days even camera phones take excellent shots and I suggest you take a look at the profile photos of some of the authors you follow and find what catches your eye.
Thinking you can get away with a 20 year old, fuzzy round the edge photograph and get away with it is also not helpful. Especially if you gather round some of the real life watering holes I will be featuring next week.
It is not conceit, but good marketing to present a professional if relaxed face to the world and your potential customers. And even for the guys a little makeup does wonders as does a little photoshopping!! Also you need a high resolution photograph to begin with so when it is shrunk down it does not blur.
Your bio beneath your photograph will be viewed by potential readers, and do not forget it is an example of your writing, and as such it is part of your marketing drive. Get someone else to read before you post and take your time over it. People buy People first.. trust me I was a telesales trainer! Your photograph and bio is part of your marketing package, and since this is your business and not your hobby, you do need to give this careful thought.
At the end of your bio you can add you blog link and one or two social media links so that potential readers can connect. On my Amazon author page… my twitter feed also shows and if you choose this option do remember that potential readers are going to be seeing what you really think about Trump, the human race and your neighbours tom cat!
If you would like to know how to set up your Amazon author page here is a link you will find useful: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?topicID=200620850
Amazon takes money from you to sell your books. They are the shop but you own a retail unit in the complex and need to make sure you make the most of it.
One of the other major watering holes for readers and writers is Goodreads.
Personally I have tried a number of sites that promise to feature your books and there are some paid sites that will promote your books. However, I tend to stick to social media, Amazon, social media and Goodreads. One of the reasons being is TIME.
I try to spend at least an hour or so a week keeping my own promotions going even if that means tidying up my author pages (as a book sells they move it in your line of books on the page and in the process your bio photo can disappear and you have to log on to Author Central and reclick it). With Goodreads I am still working my way through connecting with those that follow me on my blog and social media. It is quite a slow process but well worth it. I need to do better so whilst I am encouraging you to make the most of this combined platform... I am also giving myself a good talking to.
Here is my Goodreads page if you are there and would like to connect: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin
This brings me onto the subject of reviews which are hugely important as they are the word of mouth that is always the best tool in a sales person’s tool box.
This is a post that I wrote earlier in the year and I have now included the page requesting a review at the back of my last two ebooks and my print versions:
Recently a post by a blogger caused quite a sensation when she declared that ALL reviews for Indie books were left by friends and family and were not worth taking into consideration. She also said that most of the Indie books that she read were rubbish.
Fine, we are all entitled to our opinion however, having been an avid reader for the last 60 years I have paid good money for books that were so called ‘traditionally’ published and were dreadful.
There are great, good and awful books from both sides of this publishing divide, but unlike the days when you walked into a bookstore and only had the cover and blurb to go on, (unless you stood there brazenly and read the first chapter under the glare of a shop assistant) you can now read the first chapter or most of it before you buy.
In fact if you go to my latest book What’s in a Name Volume Two you can read three of the 17 stories before you buy the book. As most of us now have our books in both print and ebook format there is absolutely no reason why you would buy a book without checking it out first. https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Name-Stories-Life-Romance-ebook/dp/B0748MLZ1W (I did say that you should promote your books when the opportunity arose!)
So next time you are promoting your book.. don’t forget to include with your link to Amazon, a reminder that readers check out the first chapter or initial stories etc for FREE before they buy.
Which brings me back to Goodreads. Because readers are also members of Goodreads they often leave reviews there rather than on Amazon, especially if they have bought in a bookstore.
- Amazon and I have been having conversations for some time on the fact that reviews from one country are not shown on other countries accounts for your books. It looks like if you make a bit of a commotion they will put your reviews from the US onto the UK account and other Amazon franchises with a note that it was first posted on the other account. But at least readers in the UK going in to buy a book with only two reviews can see there are another 10 from the US.. 12 reviews have to be better than 2 any day.
- If you ask readers to review and that they be kind enough to put onto Goodreads too, it means that whichever country they put the Amazon review you will have them all together on Goodreads. This brings them together and gives the reader a wider range of review to judge your book on.
- If you are not on Goodreads yet then do create an author’s page… attach your books and make sure that when you are promoting your book you add your Goodreads links as well as other bookstores.
- When I do a promotion for another author, I am now giving the link to the author page on Goodreads so don’t miss out and get that in place as soon as possible.
- Make sure that when you are promoting your books to put the Goodread links so that readers can see more reviews and they can link directly to Amazon from there.
Blogworld is probably the largest watering hole of them all. With millions of bloggers on WordPress alone it can take time to establish your community of writers and readers.
It is also an amazing opportunity to show off your writing skills. If a reader likes your post, or short story, they are more inclined to buy your books.
Branding your blog.
My blog is Smorgasbord Invitation and my avatar is Sally G. Cronin. I always put Smorgasbord in the title, and when it is Googled it comes up as Smorgasbord and Sally G. Cronin together. When the posts go into the reader, anyone who follows the blog can immediately see that it is a new post from my blog.
Originally I set up my blog to be a magazine style drop in centre, covering a number of subjects such as health, humour, music and posts on general interest, hence the name Smorasbord. I then began to post book and author promotions and in addition to the Smorgasbord brand, in mid 2016, I added Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore as my second level branding. I did that so there was a consistent promotional platform for authors appearing on Google, and when it comes up in a search, it always has the authors names attached in the first line. That is good for me too, because I can use that vehicle to promote my own books from time to time.
As I scroll down my reader which contains the posts of all the blogs that I follow there are only a handful of posts with something in the headline to brand it. One of two bloggers are recognisable such as Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge (Colleen Chesebro) or Sue Vincent – Daily Echo Photo Prompt (Sue Vincent is part of the blog name) and other popular bloggers.
If you do not have a consistent name in your post titles such as your blog name or your own name then you will find it hard to establish your brand.
Many authors have a website too, which is easier to brand with their name, but if they do not have a blog attached and only post about their books, they will not get the traffic through need to sell them.(Unless they are J.K.Rowling).
So – the formula is – You in the headlines or an identifyer that turns into a brand name + Blog – Creating news in various formats to encourage readers to enter your place of business and once there to take a look around, particularly at your books.
After four years people ask me why I am not going to a paid platform on WordPress where I could have much more functionality. The answer is that I keep it simple. I am posting four or five times a day and I don’t need all the bells and whistles. I want a clean post that people can read and then take action. Head over to Amazon to buy a book, drop into another bloggers posts to look around, leave a comment and share.
I don’t want to make that process complicated, which is why I do not ask for name, email or website before someone leaves their comment. I want that process to be automatic. I don’t like leaving my email on other blogs, and since I do not send out emails to those who follow me I have no need for theirs. I also do not have any notifications turned on for emails. I used to get 200 + emails a day and I spent more time with those than I did with my own writing and author promotion. I have a system that I use via my social media sites and LinkedIn.. and I usually get around quite a few each day to read, like and share.
I also recommend that people do not have notifications for my blog since I post so much, instead I rely on them seeing Smorgasbord or Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore in their reader or they have got into the habit of popping in to my Smorgasbord Weekly Round up where all the posts are laid out and they can pick and choose which ones they read.
Clean colours, simple text with appropriate illustrations and don’t worry too much about the recommendation about not using coloured font… one or two will brighten up your post.
This is your place of business – put a sign over the door – your name or the brand name you have chosen and use it for all your posts – Smorgasbord Health, Smorgasbord Pet Health, Smorgasbord Laughter Academy, Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves etc, etc. Keep those readers coming through the doors and once in you must have your mechandise on display..
Menus are there to guide your readers to your profile page, your books, your health posts, your guest posts, your challenges. They are there to tempt your readers into dipping into your archives when they find a subject that they enjoy. Monthly archives down the side of your blog are fine, but much easier for a reader to view your menu with subject titles and click on William Price King – A Man and his music, My Books and Reviews, Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore and my most visited page in my menu… About Sally G. Cronin where readers can find my bio and my books and even see my tweets in live time.
There are many more aspects to your blog that you can turn to your business advantage as an author and even though as a blogger on the Free platform you cannot actually take money directly, you can certainly link to all the places who will take money for your books!
That is just some of the online watering holes available and I have not covered some of the other platforms, as to be honest I spend more than enough time on the four that I use primarily, and managing the several posts a day on my blog. But there is plenty of information here in blog world on establishing yourself on social media, and you only have to Google a question to get some very helpful information.
Next time off line watering holes… OMG.. meeting your readers face to face!
You can find the other posts in this series in this directory in the menu: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-media-training-for-authors/
Thanks for dropping and I would love your feedback as always.. Thanks Sally