I’m blogging over at the IBPA blog about the benefits of online excerpts and I’ll be speaking at the IBPA Publishing University in Chicago April 26-27 – Session 904: Marketing Outside the Box: Creative Tools to revitalize Revenue, including book discoverability, shareability and monetization.
Check out the post below and I’ll see you in Chicago!
Book discoverability—how and where consumers find and purchase books—is a priority in any good book marketing plan. This happens in a multitude of ways, ranging from giveaways to publicity to word-of-mouth, and what generates the most interest is different for every book. But what if there was one thing that every book should have to help their online discoverability? One thing that increases the odds that every book will connect with the right audience? There is - online excerpts
Available Amazon Search Inside and B&N See Inside
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We’re always on the hunt for new book-promotion and discoverability tools for our authors, and Ganxy is rolling out some cool features that we thought we’d share.
First, what is Ganxy? Ganxy is a set of easy-to-use online tools that help content providers reach their audience through promotion, social sharing, and commerce.
At the hub of Ganxy’s offerings is a showcase feature that’s completely free to users and takes just a few minutes to set up.
As you can see below, the showcase has some great functionality and includes a book description; a downloadable excerpt; social sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and via email; direct links to all major retailers; and the ability to embed your showcase on your Facebook page, website, or blog.
Authors can also work with Ganxy to facilitate direct sales of their ebook, with Ganxy handling payment processing, content delivery, and even customer support. Ganxy can even harvest email addresses from those sales so that authors can turn buyers into repeat buyers. If you decide to start selling via Ganxy, the fee is a flat 10 percent of net sales.
And if you’re looking for a way to offer free ebook promotions, Ganxy makes it possible though “open promotion” (the first x number of visitors download free) or “closed promotion" (redemption codes required)—it’s a perfect way to gift ebooks, bundle them with physical books, or use them as a value-add at speaking events.
What do you think of Ganxy? Will you be giving it a try?
Be sure to check out the Ganxy blog; there you’ll find the latest on how they’re helping authors promote and sell their titles.
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Facebook is an excellent place to run ads promoting your book. Unlike most other ads, it allows you to decide all your own parameters—image, budget, duration, audience, and more—while giving you access to one of the largest audiences the Internet has to offer. It also gives you all the data it collects on how successful your ad was, which most other sites withhold.
The first thing you need to decide (after, “Gosh, I’d like to run a Facebook ad campaign”) is what you want to accomplish. Are you looking to grow the number of fans on your Facebook page? Increase sales? Get noticed by a certain demographic you know will embrace your book? Once your goal is clear, you can then target your campaign and Facebook page to that goal.
Next you’ll need to decide on a budget. Facebook is pretty budget friendly. It offers two options: cost per click (CPC) or cost per impressions (CPM—yes this acronym is slightly less logical). Clicks are pretty self explanatory—you are charged for each person who clicks on your ad. Impressions are a bit trickier; it is a measure of the number of people to whom Facebook shows your ad but, unlike clicking, it is impossible to know whether they read or even noticed the side bar where the ads appear that day. Thus, impressions are much cheaper than clicks (as demonstrated by the fact that they are counted in thousands instead of singly).
Greenleaf prefers CPC as you’re only charged when someone takes action on your ad. Impressions are valuable though and work to create brand recognition, so we like to think of those as an added bonus.
Though it is important to note that the price on both options fluctuates depending on the size of your audience, the users you’re targeting, and the competition for ad space, Facebook does allow you to set a daily budget maximum and the duration of your ad campaign. If you don’t want to spend more than $2 a day, it’s easy (though probably not measurable effective). Once your maximum budget is reached for the day, Facebook stops running your ad until the next day.
Facebook’s FAQ ad page has a lot of helpful answers to budgeting and pricing questions.
Now, back to those goals.
- For Likes you’ll want to link the ad to your Facebook fan page and then give users a reason to Like your page once they’re on it—the promise of interesting information, a giveaway, etc. Then you’ll need to keep those promises (because Unliking is always an option). For example: if your book hasn’t come out yet or if you’re writing a series, you can post spoilers and participate actively in fan discussions of characters or topics to increase fan involvement.
- For increased sales you’ll want to link your ad to a website they can buy your book from—likely the Amazon or Barnes and Noble page or to your own website if you have the functionality to sell directly. Make sure that once a viewer has clicked on your ad they don’t then have to navigate to get to a retail page—the more a shopper needs to click, the less likely they are to complete the purchase. So make it as convenient as possible.
- If you’re looking to accomplish something less book-specific such as company promotion or personal brand exposure with your ad, this article has a lot of helpful tips.
- And just in case you’re thinking of designing a ridiculously clever ad campaign, here are some amazingly popular examples of what other companies have developed. Some of those campaigns are now more famous than the brand they represent.
One of the best things about Facebook ads is that they save all your ad campaign histories and give you all the feedback and analysis you could possibly want on how successful each was. So if one style is working, you can duplicate that ad or recreate it with minor changes in just a few clicks.
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The ability to interact directly and immediately with your readers is perhaps the greatest benefit you have today over authors in the past. Are you taking full advantage of this privilege?
As authors navigate the long and often confusing publishing process (not to mention the selling cycle!), many lose sight of the end goal of it all—that is, sharing your book and great ideas with others. Below are some gentle reminders of ways you can reach out to and connect with your important, invaluable readership.
GoodReads is a book cataloguing site, on which avid readers can list the books they are currently reading, have read, and intend to read with ratings. Authors have the opportunity to create a profile page with a bio and photo, share their favorite books, create quizzes, post videos, publicize upcoming events, share book excerpts, and more. The site has more than 2.8 million users, so if you’re not yet set up on GoodReads, may we gently suggest that you migrate over there right now.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: social media is essential to making a lasting connection with your readership. Hopefully you’re already set up with a Twitter profile and Facebook fan page. As Amanda Nelson wrote on BookRiot: “At a time when the methods by which an author sells a book are in serious flux, Twitter may become (or perhaps it already is) a serious sales tool.” When you show readers your true value to them by providing great information (via news, blogs, information, jokes, etc.), followers will easily turn into repeat customers.
Taking the time to set up a fully equipped Amazon Author Page is one of the most important steps you can take for your book. Author Pages are a great opportunity to provide customers with a more in-depth view of your platform; you can provide a biography, video, blog feed, events, and more. To learn more about the benefits of an Author Page, check out our blog post here. @Author may also be a great tool; the forum allows readers to highlight certain passages within their Kindle books and ask the author questions about their books. The feature is still in beta mode, so only Amazon-selected authors are currently participating, but the site does plan on opening @Author to the world at large sometime soon.
Paying close attention to certain small website features can also be an unexpected (and easy!) way to foster great communication with your fans. Aside from having a blog, consider adding an events page to your website as well. Also be sure to include your contact information on your site (including links to your social media profiles) and get rid of the lousy contact form, which doesn’t exactly feel like the warmest greeting. The Write Network also suggests setting up an auto-responder to emails. Fans will feel like they’re being heard and will know what to expect in terms of response time, making them feel like the valuable customers they truly are.
You can also add a few features to your actual printed book that will increase communicability with your readers. Consider adding your email address or social media profiles to the front or back pages of your book (and making them link-enabled for e-readers). Reading group questions are also a great idea and one feature you could incorporate into your social media strategy as well (set up a hashtag chat where readers can weigh in on the book, and you can too).
Aside from the potential financial benefits of connecting more deeply with your customers, you might garner some valuable insight into your writing and recommendations for future works from your readers as well. Just last week author Steven Saylor wrote about how a reader’s comment influenced his upcoming book, The Seven Wonders.
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Upon publication of a book, many authors begin to fantasize about the wildly successful book tour they wish to embark on, envisioning miles of lines of eager readers and hours of engaging conversation. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case in most scenarios. We generally advise authors that a book tour should not be on a top ten to-do list when it comes to marketing a book. For those authors with large platforms and extra resources, however, a book tour can still make a lot of sense.
Especially if it’s done right. Having frequented more than my fair share of bookstores, I can say from personal experience that author tours are evolving. A 30-minute reading followed by a signing just won’t cut it anymore. And for good reason.
While working at a bookstore, I witnessed quite a few of these old-school book signings. One particular author started her reading with a small, mildly interested audience. When she was done she only had three audience members, none of whom were from the original group, and they seemed more excited about finding available chairs than listening to her reading. Afterwards she sat at a table for almost three hours and sold only one book—to the store manager.
Needless to say, the author didn’t reap any benefit from her reading and it’s unlikely that the bookstore will agree to host her a second time. An author’s worst-case scenario.
On the other hand, here’s a best-case scenario that hasn’t even happened yet, but that I’m already excited about. Sci-fi and fantasy author Neil Gaiman and his wife, musician Amanda Palmer, are going on tour together. They created a vague, goofy and charming video to build awareness and raise funds to help them book larger venues and print merchandise in advance. (Side note: There are posters and they look amazing.)
Gaiman and Palmer’s Kickstarter campaign not only fueled buzz about their tour, but it convinced 3,873 people to donate a combined total of $133,341. Now, even if you aren’t a well-established, multi award-winning writer who is married to a rock star, you can take a few lessons away from Gaiman and Palmer’s tour strategy.
1. Do your own promotions. Hopefully the bookstore will advertise for your event by putting signs in the store and notices on their website, but there’s no guarantee this will happen. So advertise on your own website, your blog, Twitter, Facebook and anything else you have access to. Make sure everyone who likes you knows what’s going on, where and when the event will take place. No one wants to or should ever bank on opportunity sales – sales that just stumble by and decide they want a book. Attracting random shoppers is possible, but those readers will be much more likely to join a crowd of entertained people than to sit in an empty group of chairs.
2. Plan something truly interesting for your audience. Come prepared with a presentation, speech, or something else that will keep your audience captivated. While you can do a brief reading, that should never comprise the bulk of your time. Similarly, Q&As are great, but don’t rely on them. What’s interesting to readers is the information authors can provide that we can’t get anywhere else. If you want to try something new, come with questions for your audience. What did they like (and, if you’re brave and thick-skinned, what did they not like)? Are there things they want to know more about? What made them pick up your book in the first place? Their answers will provide some of the most insightful and accurate market research on your book, and it will keep the audience interested and engaged.
3. Have the basic Q&A answers ready beforehand. Where did you get your inspiration? How hard was it to get published? Did you meet with a lot of resistance? Who are your characters based on? How did you get started in your field? All of these are common questions at author readings, so be ready with the answers so you can keep the event moving at a swift pace.
4. Bring back-up in the form of a colleague or talented acquaintance. Gaiman’s event won’t just involve him reading an excerpt. He’s bringing someone with him who will draw her own audience. If you have a friend, colleague or acquaintance who can reach a different crowd and even slightly relate to your topic, bring him and make sure he advertises to all of his fans as well. This is also helpful because it attracts additional business to the event, making the venue more likely to host you again and support you in the future.
Much like publishing a book, going on a book tour is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to have a successful event you need to take the time to promote your appearance, prepare in advance, and wow your audience. Don’t be afraid to get creative and start a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign, if appropriate. The most important thing to remember is to make your reading more than a reading. Give people a reason to show up, stay, and, hopefully, become lifelong fans of your work.
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Publisher, distributor, publicist, agent, marketing team, editor . . . The list of titles in the publishing world could go on for half a page. It may seem like there’s a small army of people working on your book, and many authors become understandably bewildered by the number of job titles involved. It can consequently be difficult to discern who does what tasks for your book.
Have you ever found yourself wondering what the difference between your marketing team and your publicity team is, and what roles they play in relation to your book? You’re not alone. One of the most commonly confused and misunderstood aspects is the distinction between a publisher’s marketing duties and a publicist’s.
The truth is that the duties of a marketing team and of a publicity team do often overlap. But, in essence, your publicity team is trying to get you and your book media and public appearances, while your marketing team is focused on making your book visible to your target audience via ad space, online efforts, etc.
A book publicist is going to be the one writing press releases day and night, soliciting media, scheduling your book tour, and creating promotional materials. Meanwhile, your marketer will be buying relevant ads for your book, optimizing your Amazon account, distributing your book trailer, spearheading your online marketing campaign, and more.
Agent Steve Laube points out that marketing is “all about creating multiple impressions,” while publicity is “all about meeting the author.” He warns authors against confusing the terminology, and getting angry at marketers for not doing things like setting up media interviews or organizing speaking engagements—things that aren’t in their core business.
Oftentimes, publicity will feel “more real” to the author since its results (ie: television and radio appearances) are higher profile while marketing is more behind the scenes but equally important.
As you move forward with your marketing efforts, be sure to ask the people you work with what, exactly, they do. Your book’s success is going to be inclusive; it will depend on you and your publisher, and all of the employees therein. Knowing what they’re expected to do will not only make you more empowered as an author, it will also allow you to harness your team effectively to make the best publishing experience—and book—possible.
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You know that having a newsletter is an important component of your platform and that the list you send your newsletter to is invaluable to you. (If you don’t, check out our article on newsletters here.) What may not be so clear is how you can continue to grow that list over time. Below are some strategies to help you do just that.
Provide really valuable content in an engaging way
Above all other strategies, valuable content creation is king. If you are giving your readers useful, relevant, timely information that they can really use, your newsletter will be valuable and it will be shared with others. Word of mouth and forwards are your greatest ally in trying to achieve a bigger newsletter list.
Make it easy, obvious, and everywhere
It should be really easy to join your newsletter list, and it’s your job to make sure that is the case. You should have a “join” button on every page of your website, visibly situated on your blog and on your newsletter itself. You can even include an invitation to join your list in the signature line of your email. Make the link attractive and appealing to the eye, and have it say something catchy or meaningful in a tone consistent with your brand. That message may get more attention than a standard “join our newsletter” link.
Don’t forget to ask people in person, too! You are busy giving workshops or speaking to audiences. Ask them to sign up for your newsletter while you have them in front of you. Same goes for interviews. Share your web address and tell listeners or readers that they can join your newsletter there.
Incentivize new members
Make the invitation to join your mailing list an attractive offer to newcomers. This is where you can make great use of your “freebies.” To thank them for joining, give them access to an extra or two that they could not get otherwise. This could be some sample chapters of your book, videos, a free app, white papers, an ebook of your previous book, or a sneak peak at your new, yet-to-be-released book. Help them along by showing immediately what is in it for them if they join.
Incentivize existing members
In the same way that you want to thank new members for joining, give your already loyal followers a thank you gift for inviting others to join. You can make use of the same extra content you utilized to get new members or you can up the ante a bit and give existing members something unique just for them. Maybe that would be a personalized copy of your book, a guest blog spot on your blog, or a link to his or her website in the newsletter the following week.
Leverage social media
It’s safe to assume that there is not a one-to-one correlation between your Facebook fans or LinkedIn connections and your newsletter list. The same is likely true for all of the social media platforms you are engaged with. Make a habit of trying to convert those connections to subscribers. Contests are a great way to accomplish this. Give away something that your connections would want. This doesn’t have to be related to you or your content directly. It could be a free tablet or ereader device, a subscription to a service people love, or a simple versatile gift certificate. The cost of entry is simply joining your newsletter list.
It’s important to remember that you have to provide recipients a way to opt out of your newsletter, and it’s true that you may see some people utilize that option after the contest ends. Just keep in mind your best strategy for list building, which is delivering meaningful, valuable content, and you will earn their loyalty and they will stay.
Keep these things in mind as you go about your way building your platform and conveying your message out into the world and watch your list grow!
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One critical component to building your author platform is to create and maintain a regular newsletter. Speaking directly to those who are interested in what you have to say on a regular basis with relevant and compelling content will bring you some great marketing and conversion opportunities now and well into the future.
First, we will discuss why you need a newsletter in the first place. Then, we’ll get into the finer details of ways it can work for you and how it can be most effectively distributed.
Every author is doing it. Here’s why.
The primary purpose of your newsletter is simple. It’s list building, list building, list building. There is no more direct way to communicate with your audience than through this channel. After all, each person has opted to be included in this list. These are your peeps. They want to hear from you and they welcome you into their inbox. This list is something to be preserved, pampered, and treasured. It’s unique and specific to you as an author and it is priceless. Deliver them content that is useful and uniquely available to them and they will continue letting you into their inbox again and again.
Leverage your list by giving them the good stuff.
Offer exclusives to your newsletter subscribers so they see the tangible benefit of being a member of your list. This could be special discounts or bonus materials for your current book, sneak peeks of your new material, or contests to win things not directly related to your book at all. Get creative and deliver value!
Looking for a way to drive attendees to an event or to capitalize on that great interview or review you have coming up? Let your list know all about it in your newsletter. You just may convert some potential readers to bona fide book buyers by doing so.
You can also let your loyal list take some ownership of your yet-to-be-published works by getting them involved in the process early. Ask them what they want to see from you next, survey them about such topics as title or character names, or let them weigh in on cover comps. You don’t HAVE to take their advice if it’s not what is best for your book, but getting their opinion can create some buy in from their side, which is of paramount importance when it’s time to move the needle on book two, three, or four.
Finally, don’t forget to incentivize them to tell a friend or colleague. After all, the goal is to grow your list. Ask them to help you and give them a great reason to do so, such as free content or access to you directly for a book club or training session.
Now that you know you need one, how should you handle getting it out there?
You can opt to manage your list yourself by essentially sending out a mass email or a series of mass emails once your list gets really big. That is appealing to those who don’t want to learn a new system or outsource something they feel perfectly competent in managing themselves. But there are benefits to utilizing a newsletter distribution service that are worth seriously considering.
Using a newsletter distribution service will ensure that you are meeting any legal requirements necessary, such as including a way to unsubscribe, and also makes those functions hands off for you, saving you time. You can also access analytics such as open rates that would not be available to you if you simply sent out a mass email. Finally, your newsletter can appear more professional in design very easily and will be formatted for either text only or image viewing so that your smart phone readers can still get your message without all the graphics if they choose.
If you aren’t already on the newsletter bandwagon, it’s high time you jumped aboard. With relative ease, you can be up and running on building your author platform with this important marketing tool in no time flat! The benefits of doing so will surely make it worth your while.
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Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter, and private coaching. Get her free Top Book Marketing Tips ebook at www.BookMarketingNewsletter.com, visit her blog at www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, and connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SavvyBookMarketer.
As a book author, you've probably seen the term author platform used a lot, but you may be wondering: what is a platform, how do I get one, and when should I begin?
Your author platform determines your reach in the marketplace and it's important to your book promotion success. There are lots of definitions for author platform, but it basically boils down to three things:
If you're hoping to land a book deal with a traditional commercial publisher, a strong author platform is critical. When publishers evaluate book proposals, they want an idea of how well known you are and how successful you will be at promoting your book once it's published. A platform is just as important for authors who publish independently.
The best time to start building your author platform is before you write your book or book proposal, because it takes time to build your platform. But regardless of where you are in your publishing journey, you can continue to strengthen your author platform. Let's take a look at the elements of a platform.
Branding helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace and makes you memorable. One of the most important parts of your brand is your author tagline – a concise and catchy description of what you do. Use your tagline after your name in your promotional materials and signature, like a title. Here are some examples of author taglines:
* Bill Wilson, The Productivity Pro
* Susan James, The Risque Romance Writer
* Walter Jones, Author of the Detective McGee series
* Beth Morton, Writer of educational children's books
* Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer
Your author photo is another important branding tool. Be sure to get a professional looking photo and use it everywhere, to build recognition of you. Professional doesn't necessarily mean a studio portrait—think about how the background, pose and clothing in your author photo can be a reflection of your brand and the type of books you write. See this article for more tips on author photos.
Author branding can also include your logo, book covers, the color scheme you use, your distinctive style of writing or speaking, and your academic qualifications. All of these elements together constitute a recognizable brand that makes you memorable and builds credibility as part of your author platform.
Take a look at your own branding and think about what you can do to strengthen it.
Your author reputation is a factor of how well known you are, what you are known for, and how credible you are. Consider these questions:
* Do you have a degree, special training or extensive experience in the topic that you're writing about and/or in the craft of writing?
* Do you have (or can you obtain) a professional certification in your area of expertise?
* What awards or other recognition have you received?
* What kind of media experience do you have?
* How many people do you reach each month through speaking or interviews?
* How many people read your blog?
* How many articles have you written and posted or published in the past month?
* How well known are you and how much name recognition do you have?
* What leadership positions do you hold?
* Why should people listen to you or read your books?
Nonfiction authors can gain a reputation as an expert in their topic through such activities as writing books and articles, speaking and teaching, appearing on talk shows, being quoted in other people's articles, and writing the foreword for other books.
Fiction authors may become known for their writing style and their expertise in writing in a specific genre (such as children's, sci-fi, romance, or mystery) or for their niche within a particular genre (vampire stories, romantic adventure).
Your reputation and author platform can be enhanced by winning awards, receiving excellent book reviews, and getting testimonials and endorsements from celebrities and experts in your field.
What can you do to boost your author reputation and expert status and increase the number of people you reach? How can you highlight your credentials in your marketing materials?
When selling your book, it's not just what you know, it's who you know!
To sell books in today's marketplace, you need to be connected. Here are some examples of the type of connections that are valuable to authors in promoting their books and themselves:
Contact Database—Clients, prospects, colleagues, friends, and family.
Opt-in Mailing List—People who have given you permission to contact them.
Influencers—Well-known people in your field, book reviewers, celebrities, media, and bloggers. These folks can help spread the word about your book.
Online Networks—Connections on Facebook, Twitter and other online networks, groups and forums.
Blog Readers—People who read your blog or subscribe to the blog's feed.
Professional Associations—Fellow association members and leaders. Serving in a leadership position enhances your visibility within the organization.
Other Groups—Alumni associations, civic and service organizations, hobby clubs, etc.
What can you do to increase your connections and leverage the connections that you have? How can you partner with others to extend your reach?
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You’ve no doubt been advised at some point to use your content to market your message. You’ve probably been told to give some away in order to get something in return, such as an email address for your newsletter. People call this content by many names. Extras, goodies, ancillaries, and freebies are all popular choices.
Any author or expert working hard at developing his or her platform should have a stash of these extra good ancillary products at the ready. (They aren’t just for giving away either! See here.) Below is a list of suggested items you can create, provide, and leverage for the betterment of your brand.
- Articles: these can be reworked chapters of your book, research your have compiled on your area of expertise, or case studies.
- Ebooks: you can use small chunks of your book to make small ebooks or convert the entire manuscript, not forgetting to convert previous works, too.
- Audio downloads: again, you can have small bits of your book in audio format or the entire thing.
- Podcasts: provide access to interviews or discussions with you and other relevant experts in your field.
- Videos: deliver mini lessons or tips in short video segments.
- Infographics: boil down a big amount of information into a one screen graphic.
- Workbooks: putting your theory or strategy into practice for those ready to implement what you have taught them.
- Apps: create an app that shares lessons or tips that people can access anywhere, anytime.
- Direct access: give them direct access to you for a consultation on the phone or via chat.
- Members only access: have a special place to send people that requires special membership to access and give them any of the above once they get there.