All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in April.
Starting Up Silicon Valley by Katherine Maxfield
Heartlander by Dick Herman
Positive by Michael Saag, M.D.
Lifeguard, Babysitter, Executioner by Daren Fristoe, J.D., and Julia McKee, J.D.
Saleshood by Elay Cohen
A Leader's Gift by Barry Banther
Love Comforts Cards by Annie Greenleaf
Waking the Dragon by Pamela Martin
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This is the third installment in our series about getting a fresh start with your platform in the new year. In Part One, we talked about how important it is to ship a project and, in Part Two, we talked about streamlining your online bios. This third, and final, post focuses on establishing good social media habits.
The other day an author called me and asked a question I hear all the time, “Scott, I keep trying Twitter but it isn’t working for me. I think I’m going to close my account.”
“Let’s take a look at your account first…” I said.
When we did, it was apparent that the author had signed up for Twitter about 6 months ago, had used it for a few weeks, but then tapered off from 5-6 posts a day to maybe once or twice a week. Then, once a month, there would be a flurry of activity over 24 hours and the account would largely go silent again.
Whether it’s Twitter or any other social network, it’s not uncommon for authors (or anyone, really) to get excited about a new network, go all in, but then lose interest and stop using it. Rather than establishing a valuable presence and building meaningful relationships in a thriving online community, the account becomes a stale reminder of what could have been.
The solution? Better social media habits.
Here are 3 ways to cultivate better social media habits:
1. Watch and listen first, then dive in. When joining a new social media network, one’s first instinct is often to start using it right away. Next time, schedule 10-15 minutes a day to just read, watch, and learn. Before diving right in, see what other people who are established on that network are doing. What do you like or not like about what they’re doing? Also, look for people you know or whose work you respect. What do they do on that network?
2. Start slow and build. In our excitement, it’s natural to want to dive right in and use a new network like Twitter or YouTube as much as you can. But one of the most important things about establishing yourself on a social network is creating a consistent, recognizable presence. It’s more important to spend 5-10 minutes a day and post once a day or once a week than it is to block off hours at a time and post like crazy. Start with something small that you can commit to every day (on Twitter), every week (on your blog), or every month (on YouTube). Once you’ve stuck with that for a few months and you have a sense for what’s working, gradually increase your time commitment.
3. Value relationships. When we talk about social media, we talk about making connections and building relationships. It’s a lot like starting a new exercise routine offline—it can be hard to stick with it, and having someone else there can help motivate you. Social media often works in a similar way. When you first start using Twitter, or LinkedIn, or blogging, it can help immensely to cultivate one-on-one conversations or content-sharing partnerships with other users. Having someone else who is expecting to hear from you or who supports your content with shares or comments can be a huge boost in your opening stages of use. And treating your social media account as a communication tool from the start (rather than a broadcast tool) sets you up for long-term success.
Learn what works by watching, start slow and build from there, and create relationships early. These are all foundations for building great social media habits, no matter if you are starting out with a new network this year, or rebooting on an old one.
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We’ve already discussed determining your social media status and the dos and don’ts of social media, but what if you’re working hard to create and share quality content on your social media profiles but not seeing your platform grow? Do you feel like you’ve dressed for the party but just stuck in a corner talking to yourself?
Managing your social media is a big commitment that’s at the forefront of connecting you with your audience, so make sure you’re poised for success by considering a few easy fixes that may be holding you back.
- Who Are You? If a potential follower can’t glean 1.) Who you are, 2.) What you look like, and 3.) Where to get more information when they view your profile, then your odds of securing that connection plummet. The Internet is full of spam and it’s your job to make sure your profiles are complete, consistent, and on brand so people can confirm at a glance that you’re legit. If you need help, check out our blog post on streamlining your online bios.
- Self Promotion Social media is the place to position yourself as an expert by sharing relevant content, but take a step back and follow the 100/80/20 rule of promotion. 100% on topic, 80% about others, 20% about you.
- Engagement If you try to call someone and they never pick up the phone, how many times do call back before giving up? When someone follows you, Tweets you, comments on an update, or otherwise tries to leave you a message, answer the phone on the first ring! There’s no guarantee that they’ll call back if you don’t.
- Pay to Play The reality is that Facebook isn’t connecting you with readers out of the kindness of its heart; it’s trying to generate a profit, just like you are, so stay current on Facebook advertising changes and consider allocating budget to promoting your very best content.
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As distribution manager for Greenleaf Book Group, one of the questions I’m asked most frequently by authors is “How do I get my book in Barnes & Noble or my local grocery store or even my favorite indie bookstore”? It seems like there would be a simple answer, but there are many industry challenges to navigate before a book finds its way onto the shelves of a brick-and-mortar store and I’ll shed some light on those challenges today.
First and foremost, your book cannot be a Print On Demand (POD) book. Retailers do not carry POD books because they are usually non-returnable (retailers require all books be 100% returnable to the publisher at any time, for a full refund) and there is usually little, if any, PR and marketing support behind POD books. Corporate book buyers consider POD books to be high-risk products, meaning the books will likely have low sell-through to consumers because of the challenges in generating awareness and demand, so they typically won’t stock POD books in their stores.
Most retailers, including B&N, buy books from wholesalers. Retailers like using wholesalers because it allows them to get any book from any of the major publishers, like Penguin Random House, and smaller, but well-known, publishers like Greenleaf. By working with a wholesaler, retailers only have to deal with one organization, making ordering, accounting, and merchandising very simple and streamlined. The trick is getting retailers to carry your book.
Small publishers generally have a distribution arm that allows some flexibility to distribute books that the publisher did not print itself. Those publishers charge a small fee to distribute other books, giving those authors the distribution muscle of a large publishing house. These smaller publishers bring in “distribution only” titles in order to expand and promote their existing catalog of books. Finding a publisher to distribute your title is probably the best option for getting your book into a brick-and-mortar retail outlet.
Another option is working directly with a wholesaler. There are a few wholesalers (notably Ingram and Baker & Taylor) that will carry independently published books, but there are some strict requirements to be met. Often, a wholesaler will require that an author/publisher have at least 10 books in print or sometimes a wholesaler will demand a very high discount, either way the requirements can be hard to meet. If you can meet the requirements, it’s often a good strategy to work directly with wholesalers because they don’t usually charge a fee.
In a nutshell, most authors looking to have their books carried in brick-and-mortar stores have two options—working with a smaller publisher or directly with a wholesaler. Retailers will typically disclose which wholesaler they use, so authors may reach out to that wholesaler and ask for their requirements. Otherwise, find a small publisher with a strong distribution network. There are many out there, so do your research, interview the publisher, and pick the one that fits you best.
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All of us at Greenleaf Book Group send congratulations and best wishes to our authors who have books launching in March.
Predictable Success by Les McKeown
Hawaiian Tales by Lee A. Jacobus
Exonerated: A Brief and Dangerous Freedom by Joyce King
Give, Save, Spend with the Three Little Pigs by Clint Greenleaf
Be Cool & Confident: A Guide for Guys by Wynne Dalley
Be Cool & Confident: A Guide for Girls by Wynne Dalley
Your Mind is What Your Brain Does for a Living by Steven Jay Fogel
City of the Sun by Juliana Maio
Riding a Crocodile by Paul Komesaroff
Blindsided II by Tolman Geffs
Inception by Tolman Geffs
Just Say Yes by Bernard L. Schwartz