Posts Tagged ‘book marketing’
For the past few months, Publishers Weekly has been printing a monthly report from CoverCake about the most talked about books in social media. And these lists (and the corresponding analysis) have taught me a thing or two!
First, here’s how CoverCake describes itself:
At CoverCake, we are focused on helping organizations, their brands and their products engage with people. Our philosophy is based on a platform that simplifies and cuts through huge amounts of data in the social media universe to provide you with the necessary information you need to have a meaningful relationship with your customers.
And now on to what their stats about books and social media have taught me…
1. It might be nice to have your book turned into a film. This certainly is no surprise, but it is noteworthy. According to Publishers Weekly, and based on the monthly report from CoverCake, “Thanks to the warm critical reception and box-office domination of the film adaptation of Catching Fire, released November 22 and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth, the second book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy was the most-talked-about book on social media for the month of November.”
2. When a book catches fire on social media, it really catches fire. For the past two months, the book that’s #1 on the CoverCake list far outperforms all the others on the list. “Like Catching Fire in November, Allegiant, in October, was the subject of twice as many social media conversations than the second most-buzzed-about book that month,” Publishers Weekly reports.
3. Men and women talk about different things on social media. It’s no secret that women use social media more than men do. It’s also no secret that women read books more than men do. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that for most of the titles on these lists, women generated more of the chatter than men. But that’s not always true. In fact, according to Publishers Weekly, “Men initiated 61% of the social media conversations about Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing Jesus, and 62% of the commentary on Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven, which was released November 12.”
4. Books can hover near the top of the social media list for months on end. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins has hovered consistently in or around the top 10 books in CoverCake’s ranking for the entire year, according to Jeff Costello, v-p of CoverCake. This just goes to show you that good buzz can continue for an extended period of time.
5. A book doesn’t even have to be released yet to be a hot topic of conversation. In the CoverCake report for the month of September, two of the most talked about books hadn’t even hit the printer yet. They were House of Hades, by Rick Riordan (released in early October) at number two, and Allegiant, the final installment of Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, which was released on October 22nd, at number four. The lesson to be learned here? It’s never too early to start building buzz for your book.
Want do do some analysis of your own? Here is CoverCake’s list of the 10 most buzzed about books on social networking sites in the month of November. Enjoy!
Okay, so you’ve built an author website. Congratulations! But just because the site is live doesn’t mean that people will find it. Here’s what you need to know about all the ways people can and will find your site, and what you can do to increase the odds of it happening.
1. Search engines. Optimize your site properly and people searching for your name, your book title, or the subject matter of your book will find your website near the top of their search results. This is probably one of the most important efforts you can put in to building your website! A blog can also be a huge tool in terms of boosting your traffic from the search engines.
2. Interviews. Plan to do an interview with your local TV or radio station? How about the newspaper? Always — and I repeat, always — mention your web address. People will undoubtedly go there to learn more about you.
3. Offline materials. Print business cards with your domain name on it. Make mouse pads, pencils, mini-calendars … whatever suits your fancy. But make sure to print your URL in big, bold letters on whatever you have made.
4. Your email signature. Every email you send should include your name, your book title, and your web address at the footer. This doesn’t cost a thing to set up, so it’s a no-brainer.
5. Social sharing. Let’s say you keep a blog on your site (which I highly recommend). Someone will read one of your posts. Someone will like one of your posts. That person may then choose to share your post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Voila! A whole new audience has been exposed to your site.
6. Word of mouth. Make sure to talk about your writing — and your website — wherever it’s appropriate. Chat with strangers at the airport. Mention it to colleagues at work, or friends at a birthday party. Spread the word!
7. Cross-promotion. Make sure to include links to your author site from your Facebook page, your Google+ account, etc…
8. Cross-linking. Are there other authors whose works you like? Do you know people who write in a similar genre? Reach out to other authors (or organizations, individuals, etc…) and ask if they’d be interested in linking to your site, and vice versa. This is a great way to expose your target audience to your writings.
9. YouTube. Do you have a YouTube account? Have you uploaded any videos about your writings and your books? Make sure your YouTube account provides a nice segue to your author site.
10. Paid online advertising. There are a variety of ways to “advertise” online — from paid banner ads to Google Adwords campaigns to Facebook “boosts.” But before you start shelling out money for these sorts of things, talk to an expert who can guide you towards the efforts that will provide the best bang for your buck.
Can you think of any other ways that someone may find your site? Share them with us!
I came across a really interesting conversation on LinkedIn this morning. The question: What are the most ridiculous myths you’ve heard about writing and writers.
Here are the responses I’ve found (so far). And please use the comments section at the bottom to share your own!
That people don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Of course, they do. (This includes endorsements on cover etc.)
What else do they have to go on, unless someone has recommended it.
Writing’s easy and we all make as much as Grisham or King
That you will have no trouble talking about it at a party.
They make a lot of money.
Writers are inherently antisocial. The disclaimer at the beginning of every novel: “All characters, locations…are fictional and figments of the author’s imagination.” Well, what inspired those aforementioned figments? Social interactions and life experiences.
I’ll add one of my own here as well. I’ll say that one of the most ridiculous myths is that all you have to do is write a good book and it will sell itself. That is soooo not the case. Being a successful author requires being a good marketer as well. And that’s true whether you self publish your book or go through a traditional publishing house. Writing a good book is just step one. Promoting it is just as important.
Okay, your turn! What is the most ridiculous myth you’ve heard about writers? Share it below!
My response? There is none.
Now, that doesn’t mean that social networking doesn’t work for authors. On the contrary, it has become an essential part of an author’s promotional plan. This is especially true for fiction authors, where word of mouth is the most common way that people hear about a new, great book.
What I meant was that there is no one social network that is right for every individual author. Before deciding where to invest his or her time, an author should think long and hard about who the audience is for the book and where that audience tends to spend its time.
Case Study #1
A woman writes a book about the most adorable interior design ideas for a baby’s nursery. The book is chock full of pictures, and obviously speaks to an audience of 20 and 30-somethings (prime childbearing age).
In her case, I would recommend that she dedicate her time to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Facebook and Twitter are important, primarily because of the audience — that’s their preferred methods of communications. Pinterest is also extremely important for this author, as her book is photo-centric, and Pinterest is an amazing place to share photos.
Case Study #2
A man writes a book about saving for retirement. It is geared towards 40- and 50-somethings.
This author should be focusing much his social media efforts on Facebook. After all, his target audience doesn’t dedicate a lot of time to Twitter, and Pinterest isn’t really relevant for this book. Neither is GoodReads, which is much more fiction-oriented. Instead, he should also delve into LinkedIn and Google+, as those are where a professional audience tends to spend more time.
Case Study #3
An up-and-coming author wants to be the next JK Rowling. She writes the first book of a fantasy series targeted to young adults.
Where are today’s youth spending their time? Sure, they’re on Facebook. But so are their parents. They spend more of their time on Twitter, Tumblr, and who knows where else. They may always be a step ahead of us, but it’s this author’s (or her publicist’s) job to pay attention to this young demographic and figure out where they are spending their time. That’s where the marketing efforts should be.
Case Study #4
A novelist writes a suspense-filled mystery and wants to get it in front of his target audience: both men and women who happen to love a good mystery.
Facebook and Twitter would be helpful for this author. But I would recommend that he really delve into GoodReads. The most common reason why a fiction reader buys a book is because it was recommended to them by someone else who has similar taste in books. And unlike other social networking sites, GoodReads gives you the opportunity to get your book in front of an audience of readers who you know already are interested in your genre, and have “friends” whose recommendations they value.
See what I mean? Four authors, four different online strategies for book promotion. Before you put together your social networking plan (and dive into anything and everything that has worked for other authors), stop and take a good hard look at your audience. It may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
There are thousands — if not millions — of authors out there trying to make a name for themselves. Most of them have very little in terms of publicity agents, marketing experience, etc… So they’re basically fighting an uphill battle.
That’s why so many authors are looking for ways to connect with other authors, and potentially help one another. With that in mind, here are nine creative ways that authors can team up to help promote one another’s books, author websites, etc…
1. Share, share, share. Are other authors posting blog entries? Tweeting? Pass on what you’re reading of theirs to your friends, readers, etc… If they do the same for you, you can increase your reach exponentially.
2. Like one another. Clicking on a Facebook “Like” button is so simple. And yet, doing so really does help to spread the word. So swap “like”s. What’s there to lose?
3. Guest blog post for one another. Do you have a blog? Does your friend, an author, have a blog? Why not write a guest post for his or her site, and vice versa. Not only will this breathe some fresh life into your own blog, but it will get your writing out to a new group of readers.
4. Review one another’s books. Post a review/recommendation of another author’s book on your site. Have him or her do the same for you. If you speak to a similar audience, you’re exposing a whole new crop of readers to a book they may not have heard of otherwise.
5. Interview one another. Use one of your blog posts to interview your author friend about his her book, writing habits, publishing lessons learned, marketing techniques used, etc… Again, it’s a great way to get new faces in front of an existing readership.
6. Offer special deals/giveaways. Why not consider providing a special deal or giveaway to people who came to your site through your friend’s author site or social media page? Any incentive that will get people to buy your book or give you their email address is a good thing.
7. Consider doing group tours. Not actual tours, of course: virtual tours. But by teaming up, you can offer book clubs, libraries, schools, etc… the opportunity to double the attendance by featuring two authors (and triple, if three of you get together).
8. Promote each other through other forms of social media. Do you have a GoodReads account? Make sure to cross-promote there as well. Ditto if you follow people on Twitter, highlight book covers on Pinterest, etc…
9. Create a group blog. This is a little harder to do, but it’s not unheard of. Get a group of authors together and create an author blog site. Agree to each post, say, once a week. The more posts you have, the more you will become a can’t miss destination for other authors. Then, make sure each of your books/websites get fair promotion.
One last caveat … as much as your friend may be your friend, make sure that you’re not wasting your time cross promoting with him or her. In other words, if you have 100,000 followers on your blog and your friend has 5,000, it may not be worth your time for you to “help” one another. Always ask potential authors for information on their following before deciding whether it makes sense to proceed. If the two of you are in the same ballpark, then it’s probably a good arrangement.
Looking for additional advice on selling or marketing your book? Contact us today at Smart Author Sites for a free consultation!
If you’ve written a science fiction book … or a military history book … or a chick-lit book (you get the point), then this is obviously a genre that you enjoy and that you’re familiar with. In this post, I will explain why and how you should utilize that knowledge and interest to help promote your own book.
Strategy #1: Review Other Books in Your Genre
People love reading book reviews. After all, they want to know that other people have enjoyed a book before they invest the time and money to read it themselves. So build a blog in which you review other mystery novels … or self-help books … or whatever genre you’d categorize your writing as. Once you start building a following, people will start valuing what you have to say. And if they agree with you about various books, they’re much more likely to take the plunge and read your book as well.
Strategy #2: Offer to Cross-Reference Other Books in Your Genre
At the end of the day, other writers in your genre aren’t really your competition. They’re a potential source for finding new readership. So reach out to other writers who talk to the same audience. See if they’re interested in sharing blog posts with you (and vice versa) or reviewing/recommending each others books (and vice versa). Remember: authors aren’t like accountants. Most people have more than one that they are loyal to at a time. So take advantage of the following that another author has, and offer the same in response.
Strategy #3: Write Round-Up Articles
This idea comes courtesy of one of my favorite people in the field, Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz.com. She recently wrote an interesting post about how authors can get their books out there through round-up articles. Here’s a summary of her recommendations.
Step 1: Define your roundup
A “roundup” article usually gathers up the best, worst, most, least, newest, top, funniest, etc.
Step 2: Figure out your roundup topic
For example, “Best business books of 2013″ or “Best beach reading for the summer”
Step 3: Create your list
Your list doesn’t have to just include books, either. Think outside the box. For example, your book could be part of a “best Father’s Day gifts” list or a “Fun things to do while your spouse plays golf.” Then figure out what — besides your book, of course — will comprise the list itself.
Step 4: Pitch your list to the press
Write a press release announcing your list. Make sure to present it as identifying a problem that your list can solve.
Voila! Three reasons you should seriously consider reviewing and recommending other books in your genre. As always, think outside the box, and feel free to share any good ideas with the rest of us!
Authors are willing to try a lot of things to promote their books. Giving copies away for free is one of them.
That’s not to say that free book giveaways are a bad thing. In fact, there are some significant benefits to doing so.
Here’s what you need to know about the potential positives and negatives of free book giveaways:
It’s pretty simple. Giving your book away for free will significantly increase its reach. After all, who isn’t willing to accept something for free? And when they get it, then they’re likely to read it. And when they read it … well, maybe they’ll love it. Maybe they’ll tell their friends about it. Maybe they’re rave about it on Amazon. And maybe … just maybe … you’ve built a fan for life. When your next book comes out, you’ll have a loyal reader. And then, they’ll be willing to actually pay whatever you charge for your new release.
Let’s start with the simplest of the negatives: there’s no money to be made when you’re giving something away for free. In fact, you are likely taking a loss when you do this. That’s especially true if you’re giving away print copies of a book. But even with electronic copies (which cost nothing to actually create or give away), you’ve still invested a whole lot of time, energy (and possibly money) in the giveaway campaign.
But, apparently, that isn’t the only drawback to giving your book away for free. As I discovered in a recent conversation on LinkedIn, there’s another, more obscure problem: a de-valuing of your product.
The conversation started with this post:
This is a question I pondered in my last blog post, after I’d received a one-star rating for my blog anthology, “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run.” It then occurred to me that the person that gave me the one-star rating won my book via a Goodreads giveaway.
Has anyone else encountered something like this, where they’ve given copies of their books away, either as a promotion or as a way to garner reviews, only for that to turn around and bite you? I’m beginning to think a book giveaway wasn’t such a great idea to begin with.
And the responses seemed to back up this claim. Here are some of the highlights:
It’s true people devalue the free. When I was a stage performer, free shows would end up badly promoted and lacking tech support. – John Kulm
Yes, especially with Amazon’s free books. My worst reviews came from giving my book away. Most people connect free to garbage, so I’m sure these readers (the ones who left the bad reviews) were already biased to think the book was no good. –Richard Houston
There is definitely a correlation in marketing that goes something like, “In the absence of other signals, the buyer equates quality with price.” –Lucy Gold (500+)
So maybe there is something to be learned here. Maybe free book giveaways have a certain caché that come with them. This is something all authors should keep in mind before launching such a campaign.
But before you get too down on book giveaways, I’m going to include a quote from one last comment in that same conversation on LinkedIn:
I think giveaways are a great way to promote your book, but they are more effective if yes, you have a larger number overall, but also if it is part of a promotional event where people realize you are giving away a few number of books for the purpose of promoting it, not necessarily because you just want to give them away — which, unfortunately, can sometimes SEEM to be the case, even if it isn’t.
I’d say keep doing it, but maybe on a smaller scale, and only as promotional ventures that truly make sure people are aware they are being blessed with a free book instead of being given “just” a free book. –Jessica DuBois
So there you have it! All you need to know about the potential benefits and drawbacks of a book giveaway. Make your choice wisely and best of luck!
This is one of the most important questions I ask an author when we are beginning to work together. And, surprisingly, many of the authors that I speak to don’t really know the answer. So let me talk about the benefits of each of the major types of sites that authors build and how to go about deciding which one is right for you.
A Book Site
A book site refers to a website that focuses solely on one book or one series of books. It should be named after the book (or the series) and use images or graphics that come straight off the book covers or illustrations. So what’s the benefit of a book site? Well, it aims to promote and sell the book. Simple as that.
See an example of a book site at http://www.lostinplainsight.net/
An Author Site
Truth be told, the large majority of sites that I build for authors are truly author sites. That’s because most authors don’t write one book and then quit (or at least don’t plan to quit). Maybe they already are working on a second book. Maybe they do speaking engagements on the topic. Maybe they want to build a following. An author site also works to promote and sell a book (or multiple books), but its focus is primarily on the author. Such sites are usually named after an author (i.e. JohnSmith.com or JohnSmithBooks.com) and include the author’s name and photo in the most prominent places. In addition, sites like these give readers multiple ways to follow or contact the author, like a newsletter sign-up box, social media links or an easy-to-fill-out contact form.
See an example of an author site at http://donnawilsonphd.org/
A Branded Site
This is probably the most complicated of the three types of sites. Why? Well, because building a brand requires a lot of hard work. Even the naming is difficult. Take, for example, an author who writes a book on career building and also runs a business offering career coaching services. So what should he title his site? Well, step one is coming up with a brand name. In this case, possibilities could include anything from CareerCoachProfessional.com to LetMeHelpYourCareer.com. Then, he would have to have a logo created that encompassed that name and some sort of recognizable icon that would work on the website, business cards, etc… Finally, he would have to put together an entire marketing plan for getting that business name out there. So could a site like this be successful? Of course! In fact, at the end of the day, it could generate a lot of money if it’s done properly. Just read this post about how an author can use their book to be a springboard for selling all other types of products and services.
See an example of a branded site at http://themanopauseman.com/
A Do-Good Site
I have worked with authors who wrote a book primarily because they felt they had a very important message to get out to the community. Their goals aren’t about fame or fortune …. they’re about making the world a better place. So how do you build a site that is an extension of that? Well, you start by naming it after your cause. Maybe it’s BeNicetoAnimals.com or AchievingWordPeace.org. Then you come up with powerful, compelling images and colors they clearly convey your important message. A site like this is less about the author or the book or any products that are for sale: it’s about building a community of followers, and possibly even getting them to take action, like starting their own chapters of the organization or donating money to a worthy cause. Buttons to “donate” or “join the cause” should be prominent in such a site design.
See an example of a do-good site at http://angrymoms.org/
Obviously, one or two of these types of sites are going to jump out at you … and the others are going to seem completely unrelated to who you are and what you’re doing. But that’s okay. As long as you can recognize what type of site best suits your needs, you’ve taken the first step towards building an online presence that can help you achieve your goals … whatever those goals may be.
One of the most important elements of an author website is an easy way (ideally with one click) for a site visitor to take the plunge and buy the book. But that’s easier said than done: not in a technical sense, of course (setting up a link is easy), but in terms of deciding which retailer sites to link to.
The Big Two
Obviously, the first one that everyone thinks of is Amazon. It’s truly the site that dominates the market. And not just the book market, mind you, but just about every product you can buy online.
Then there’s B&N. We always recommend that authors offer links to buy the book from both sites, because we’ve heard reports that if an author decides to only provide a link to one of the two big online retailers, the other can threaten to pull that book from its site altogether. That’s something no one wants.
Borders used to be the third of this “big three,” but that’s no longer an option.
From Two to Two Thousand?
So are two links enough? What about all the other thousands of booksellers out there?
Well, they’re now speaking up. A new article in The Bookseller, titled Anger over authors’ website links to Amazon includes quotes from independent booksellers who are sick and tired of authors only linking to Amazon (or Amazon and B&N) to sell copies of their books. And who can blame them? After all, if you had a tiny little store, how would you feel if your product manufacturers kept sending potential clients to buy their stuff at WalMart?
In the article, Keith Smith from Warwick & Kenilworth bookshops says: “As someone who owns two independent bookshops I feel angry that these authors, unthinkingly or by design, have chosen to support Amazon, W H Smith or Waterstones without giving a fig for independent bookshops. Many of these are authors who, when asked, will say they couldn’t imagine life without their local bookshop. But words need to be matched by deeds if they are to make a difference.”
I totally understand his anger. But what’s an author to do? After all, it’s a lot easier to set up one Amazon link than it is to set up thousands of links to every online retailer. Or even more challenging: to list every single independent bookstore that carries the book in question.
Feedback From Authors
Here are responses from a few authors that appear later in the article:
Author Alison Weir defended herself, commenting: “Publishing, as you must know, is going through hard times and every author and publisher wants to maximise sales. When I set up my website, my webmaster told me I could link to Amazon, so I told him to go ahead. My American publishers then asked me to link to other bookstores. I’m not sure how Keith Smith envisages linking to every independent bookseller in a practical way – how many must there be? The fact remains that not one, including him, has ever asked me to do so. But if they had, I would have worked out a way to do it. If you look on my website you will see links to other websites whose owners requested a link. Linking to Amazon does not mean that I do not support independents.”
Novelist Joanne Harris said: “I am more than happy to include links to independent bookshops. I know how much I owe them and I support them fully.”
Julia Donaldson told The Bookseller changing the links on her website was something she had been planning to do “for some time”. She said: “I want to think carefully about how I do it. Independent bookshops really are something I care about very much and I have been feeling guilty about it. But when I first set up my website, this is what was suggested to me would be the easiest thing to do.”
What’s an Author to Do?
This entire issue can be summed up relatively quickly and easily. Independent booksellers are upset about Amazon and B&N being the sites that authors are sending readers to for purchasing the book. And that’s valid.
But it’s also true that the logistics of setting up thousands of links is … well … not really doable. It’s so much easier for authors to link to the big retailers, and it’s just as easy for readers to click on those links and make the purchases quickly and easily. Doing anything more complicated will not only be a challenge for the author and his or her webmaster, but it may make the experience even more complicated for the buyer.
So what’s an author to do? I don’t have the answer. If you have any great ideas, please share them with us!
And yet, many authors continue to avoid social media at all costs, or worse, make some serious mistakes while investing their time and energy in social media.
With that in mind …. presenting, five common social media mistakes authors make.
1. Being too promotional. It’s social media. It’s not a commercial. If you make the mistake of treating it like an advertisement — and only talking about your product — people are going to treat your social media presence like they would treat any other advertisement: fast forward through it.
2. Not interacting with readers. Part of why social media has spread like wildfire is because people love that it truly is a conversation. An author website is a place where authors can talk and readers can listen. Facebook, Twitter, etc… is where readers can communicate with writers as equals. So make sure to pose questions to your followers, respond to questions and comments, etc… Remember: it’s a conversation.
3. Posting too infrequently. In this way, social media is much like a blog. People are only going to follow you if you post in a timely and frequent manner. That means that you share your opinions on news and events as soon as they happen (not weeks later), and you respond to questions and comments while they’re still fresh in the minds of the people who posted them. Just take five minutes a day to pay attention to your social networking profiles and it can make a world of difference.
4. Confusing professional and personal. I’ve had many authors ask me if they need to create a separate professional profile on Facebook. The answer is a resounding “yes,” and for a multitude of reasons. To begin with, what you want to share with your readers is probably very different than what you want to share with your second cousin. The latter may care that your toddler was picking his nose yesterday, but the former probably doesn’t. In addition, it’s important that you remember that your professional profile is just that: professional. I recently was reading a conversation on LinkedIn in which someone was talking about how an author had linked her professional profile as a children’s author and her personal profile, in which she was venting about her own political beliefs. Sure, she has the right to talk about whatever she wants. But why alienate readers when it’s completely unnecessary?
5. Not measuring results. I say this all the time about websites. The same is true with social media. If you’re not paying attention to which posts are getting read/liked, and which Tweets are getting retweeted, then you’re working blindly. Pay close attention to what’s working — and what’s not — and alter your social media strategy accordingly. If you don’t know how to do that, you can find plenty of tutorials online about Facebook insights and the corresponding tools on other sites.
Sure, social media can be a pain. It can be a time suck. And you probably would rather spend your time … well … writing. But do social media right and you can see a hefty reward.