Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Marketing Series 2019

I began promoting authors and their books back in 2001 and then it was all about splashy book launches, press releases and getting local coverage. Indie authors had it tough in those days trying to break into the establishment and get the attention of national press, but could do very well locally.

It is very different today in many respects, but certainly you can still make a big splash in your own local area, especially if our books are relevant to the history of the area. Press releases and going door to door to established businesses such as bookshops, cafes, art galleries and holding book signings can certainly launch a book and possibly get the attention of a wider audience and the national press.

Six years ago I began promoting my own books (particularly Ebooks as I tend to still go local for my print books) and a handful of authors here on Smorgasbord, which over the next two years developed to become The Cafe and Bookstore.  This celebrated three years of book promotions earlier in the year and there are between 150 and 175 active authors with new releases and reviews at any given time.

Taking my experience of the ups and downs of book marketing over the last 18 years I feel that if I can give a helping hand to other authors, it might help them navigate the marketing process a little more effectively. Especially when we have a global marketplace at our fingertips.

I am delighted that I am in a position to showcase authors here on my blog and on social media. And for me it is important to provide this FREE as I know how tough it was back when I started, and even more so now, to get noticed.

However, I have over the years found some stumbling blocks that are common to many authors.

It would be lovely to think that we write a book and readers will then flock through the doors on the online bookstore and grab a copy. Unfortunately today you are in competition with the many thousands of other books that are published that week, particular in a popular genre on a worldwide basis.

So everything you do online has to have one clear goal, and that is to encourage readers to buy your book. But all the promotions in the world with wonderful blurb and reviews are not effective unless they address one very important question.

Where do you want potential readers to end up? 

Somewhere they can buy the book immediately.

Read how to set up your Amazon Author Page with a step by step guide:

In last week’s post I covered the importance of having an Amazon Author Page as a direct selling link to your books.

This week I would like to focus on one of the most important book marketing link to your books which is both FREE and has the added benefit of permitting readers from any country in the world to review your book without having to spend £50 on Amazon products for the privilege. Especially if you are one of the millions of readers around the world who have received your book as a gift. Even more frustrating if the book was purchased for you by someone else, and you still cannot review it on Amazon.

Unfortunately with Amazon being the largest online bookseller in the world most of us do buy our Ebooks from them, as well as print books which unless are part of their KDP print on demand carry a hefty postage and package charge.

In the last 18 months the reviewing policy has changed in a number of ways to combat fraudulent reviewing.These are paid for reviews, offered by some of the book marketing sites that also charge an arm and a leg for services you can get for free on sites such as Goodreads. On Monday I decided to go deep diving into one such company to discover the 200,000 followers they promised to market my books to.. you can read how many they fell short in regard to that number HERE

Also friends were suddenly not allowed to review for each other. Rumour has it that Facebook, before it became holier than thou about privacy, sold our details to Amazon so that they could remove reviews from our friends on that site. This meant that hundreds of thousands of legitimate reviews were removed immediately without recourse. Getting an answer from a real, live person is frustrating and you might as well use the message in a bottle method!

You can now only put a review on the Amazon that sells to your country of origin. In the UK this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the US Amazon reviews are also shown. However the reverse is not the case and if someone goes to buy your book on Amazon US they won’t see the UK reviews. Which if you are a UK author will usually be more than those on the US site.

The interesting thing is you can review any book you like, even those you have not bought from Amazon if you buy goods from any department on the site for $50 or £50 expenditure during the year!  Unfortunately we have one account for all purchases made through Amazon, but it is in my husband’s name as it is a combined seller account for my books. He formats and uploads them so it makes sense. He buys all my books that I read from Amazon but they have banned me from reviewing since it is not my credit card. It looks like I am going to have to spend £50 to review books that I have already bought.

This ruling also applies to the thousands of books weekly that are sent out as ARC copies before publication to be reviewed, gifts and also another source of reading…library books.

However, if you can encourage your readers to review on Goodreads as well as their Amazon country of origin, their review will be visible globally whatever the source of the book.

Read how to set up your Goodreads Author Page as a marketing platform and a place for all your reviews from around the world in a step by step guide:

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.

One of the jobs that gave me some perspective on marketing and promotion, was the several years I spent as advertising sales manager for a free paper in London and then a holiday publication company.

One of the key elements of marketing and selling is to attract the right customer for your product and in book marketing this is your readers.

Part of my job was writing copy for clients who could not afford to spend a fortune with an agency. This was quite an interesting challenge because most companies, whatever their product wanted to put their name in large letters front and centre. So for example:

Great name, but what does the person who is looking for a new car see when they are skimming the adverts for cars?  Steve Smith and Sons.. but that is not the product for sale and is not going to grab the attention of the person looking to buy a car. If you are looking for a car, you are more likely to be interested in reading the same advert, but arranged very differently.

Read the rest of the post...Attracting your readers – covers, book titles, tag lines and key words:

In the next three posts I am going to look at the online social media platforms that are helpful in your efforts to market your books. None of them are perfect, not least of all because of the amount of personal data that is collected, but you are in business as an author and advertising is a key element of your strategy.

This week I am going to focus on blogging which in my experience over the last seven years is the one that offers the most options when it comes to book marketing, as it is combined with another crucial element… the marketing of you the author.

Blogworld is probably the most effective watering hole for writers.

There are an estimated 60 million bloggers on WordPress alone, and I recognise that it can take time to establish your own community of writers and readers. I started my own blog in 2012 but it was not until September 2013 that I really began building my brand consistently.

I wanted to promote my previous books which were just converted to Ebooks, and this gave them a new lease of life. New covers, updated and previously only sold in print at local outlets, I was finally after 14 years able to take advantage of the global  Kindle and Epub market.

Seven years later, this platform and my social media, not only offer me an opportunity to promote my own books but also to promote other authors. Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore has 150 + active authors (recent reviews and releases) at any given time and passed its third year anniversary in June this year.

A blog also offers you 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.

Read the rest of the post:

Twitter – New look and and step by step guide to Book Marketing useful functions.

The look and  functionality of Twitter has changed recently, and I have to say that I am not a fan (as yet). It is now designed for mobile devices and whilst there are a couple of useful upgrades, for someone starting an account (and some of us who have been using it for 7 years) it is over complicated for what you want to use it for.

However, as a watering hole, for your blog and certainly your books it is a useful platform to establish yourself on. There are some useful marketing features, including paid advertisements, but there is a great deal of free functionality that you can take of advantage of first. To be honest I don’t use all the bells and whistles as I do everything manually, but do find it helpful to use some of their basic marketing options.

I will work my way through the new interface with some of the key elements that you need to focus on as an author with books to market.

And the first place to start is your profile.

On the left of the page you have the new menu and if you click on Profile it will bring up the above page. When you sign up for your account you will be offered a similar page to the one below and also should you wish to edit in the future.

Read the rest of the post:

This week I am going to Facebook in relation to book marketing and also the benefits of joining an exclusive watering hole on social media platforms.

This is not intended to be the definitive guide to Facebook, but just some suggestions to new authors who are getting started. I am sure that those of you with established pages find them successful for your marketing needs, and am only sharing my own experiences.

When I first joined Facebook ten years ago it was to keep in touch with friends from work and places we had lived. It was a simpler time, and people chatted about their everyday lives and you shared as much or as little as you wanted to.

Over the years it has become increasingly more complicated, especially if you are a blogger and author looking to market your books and blog without creating a page and being constantly hassled to upgrade, pay to advertise etc. Which I did for a year, until I realised that my page was followed by those already following me on my personal page, and therefore I was spending my time growing a following that I already had.

There are new policies introduced on a regular basis that impacts your visibility. Posting and interactions with others is filtered, and not everything that you should be seeing is available to you or your friends. Also Facebook will decide to put posts into places such as Timeline Review for that adds time and additional effort to ensure that they are shared with others.

Another interesting issue that impacted authors was concerning reviews on Amazon, and the purge of hundreds of thousands of reviews from ‘friends’ and therefore assumed to be paid for or fake.

First: when you are in contact with hundreds and even thousands of authors who are also readers, they most likely will review your book. That does not mean that they are fake.

Secondly: Allegedly Facebook sold all our information to Amazon which is the only way they knew about our ‘friends’.

Read the rest of the post about book marketing on Facebook:

Getting yourself noticed locally – Media

Despite the fact that it is very difficult to get the attention of the mainstream media, I still believe that you should make every effort to get your book noticed.  If you have done everything right – well written, edited, formatted and produced either in print, E-book or both, then it deserves your best shot.

I interviewed many authors on my Sunday Morning Radio show and one of the elements to a book that really gets the attention of the press and radio, is if the book has a local connection. With a story that is set in the area or a history book about the area or a well known character from the area.  This also applies on a wider scale, and certainly it does not harm your chances if you mention Ireland or something Irish in the title or taglines.

Sending out press releases to your local press and radio.

There are certainly a couple of things to consider when marketing your book, and one of those is cost.  Most self-publishing companies are not going to do your marketing for you.  You can pay quite a bit of money to a PR firm to compose and send out press releases to their contacts, and if you feel you will get a return on your money, then it is probably the most effective way to go.  They will compose your release and then direct it to specific contacts in the media who would be most interested in your genre or books in general. And, because they are a recognised PR firm they are likely to get it as far as the journalist in question.

Unfortunately today, unless you have a high profile name – either author or celebrity, your press release about your book, that you send in your own name, is unlikely to get past first base.  Short of changing your name by deed poll to J.K. Rowling, you are going to have to make sure that both the subject line of your email and the title of your book intrigues.

How can they find out more about you? and How to put your Press Release together:

I was very lucky to be a radio and television presenter from 2004 – 2012 and in that time I interviewed many authors about their books. The key to an interesting interview for the listeners or viewers is in preparation and research, not just by the presenter but by the author too. The purpose of the interview is to encourage people to buy your book and read it, and that is a key element you should keep in mind when answering questions.

This week a look at how you can prepare for you interview on radio and next week on camera.

Wonderful news, your hard work in promoting your new book on social media and locally has paid off and you get the call or email. An invitation to do an interview on a radio station, television show or author promoting podcast.

Getting an interview on a radio show or an established author podcast is gold dust for an author and as such requires you to take a deep breath and celebrate. Millions of Indies out there would love the opportunity to get their voice heard about their work so give this serious thought.

Following sending out your press releases you hopefully will get some response from the media with a view to interviewing you about your book. Usually the request will come in by email rather than over the phone as it depends on what you have put down as your contact details. However, I would always ring a possible guest as it helped me identify how confident they would be on air. Some authors needed a little more help than others in preparing for the experience, especially when I uttered the terrifying words, ‘It’s a live interview’….

Head over to read the rest of the post:

 Last week I covered the basics of the preparation needed before a radio and podcast interview

Preparing for an interview on camera.

In the last few years I have been very lucky to interview some fascinating people on camera. Mainly live shows that as profile interviews have lasted 30 minutes or so. These included: – astronauts from NASA – a former First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy – Doctor Allison Cronin of the Monkey World rescue centre – Charles Tobias, President of Pusser’s Rum. Also successful authors and those writers just beginning their careers.

Some had been media trained for their particular job, but for many it was their first experience of being live in front of a camera.

Today there are a number of options available for online interviews that are filmed with YouTube and other platforms offering access to millions of viewers. Many thankfully only show the guest from the waist up without the long shots that show a magnitude of sins! But as with the radio and podcast interview, the opportunity to talk about your book, even for a few minutes is too good to pass up.

I do suggest that you get a couple of radio interviews under your belt first as it will boost your confidence before facing a camera. I went to the extreme to get my nerve up. I applied to The Weakest Link in the UK and was accepted as a contestant. I managed to make it to the 6th round and was voted off… Tactically of course!!

Read the rest of the post: