Tag Archives: marketing

How the Heck Can I Sell My Books – Guest post by Melissa Foster

I’m thrilled to have bestselling author, marketing coach, and entrepreneur Melissa Foster with me today, to talk about this crazy thing called marketing. Melissa has a program called Fostering Success that I’d highly recommend – it was one of the first things I did as an indie, and the Facebook group is awesome.

 

As you know, a writer’s life is rarely really just a writing life. The typical writer might also have a full-time job, a family, volunteer efforts—a plethora of other activities other than writing. My life is a little like a constant tornado whirling around me—and I’m the eye of the storm.

I’m asked quite often what it really takes to sell books. I’d like to not only cover what it takes to sell books, but also what it takes to maintain your sales—and your writing.

The most important thing that one can do is to start with a good product—a well written, professionally edited, and professionally covered book (or ebook). Once you’ve achieved that, then you are standing in the middle of a crowd of over 1.5 million other writers. Get your marketing hat on, because the next leg of your journey is an uphill one, and you’ll need the strength of many people behind you.

Next on your agenda is a marketing plan. A marketing plan is your plan of attack to get your books noticed, and it must be ever-present. Think of McDonald’s versus Arby’s—which fast food restaurant comes to mind when you’re hungry and need a drive-thru? Of course it’s McDonalds, they’re everywhere; billboards, print media, radio, television. Everyone my age (ahem) probably remembers this—take a deep breath— twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun. One long word, and if you said it fast enough, you won a Big Mac. Yup, I won, even had a t-shirt with the very long word on it.

Where should you market? Social media, print ads, online ads, and blog tours. If you can think of a place where you might be found, you should be there, and there are many ways to get noticed that cost almost nothing, but they do take hard work. Magazines and blogs, for example, accept short stories and articles, but they must be well thought out and well written.

How else can you get that presence? Give back, give often, and give genuinely.

 

I preach, and I live by, the premise of giving back and cross-promoting. If you’re on Twitter, then you’ve probably seen the #WLC tweets. World Literary Cafe (previously WoMEN’s Literary Café–hosting both men and women) is a literary community that I developed to bring readers and authors together, to teach authors how to succeed, to bring exposure to their books in a manner that is beneficial and long-term attainable (a week long promotion averages $35, and we have many free programs as well). We are building a community based on paying-it-forward and giving back more than we receive. We strive to bridge the gap between readers, authors and author services (bloggers, reviewers, cover artists, editors, etc), and do it in a way that is beneficial for everyone.

The beauty of cross promotion is that the venues for this are endless. Avid readers read many books each month, some, each week. What better way to help a friend than to refer their books? When you shout, “Read my book!” many turn a deaf ear, but everyone loves to hear, “I recently read….” or “My friend wrote a book. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds great. It’s called…” Readers will respect you for not being self-serving, your friend will benefit, and even though you didn’t sell your book, what goes around comes around. Karma is a great equalizer (yes, I say this often, and I believe in it).

Never worry about competition, or being the one who sells the most. As for competition, writing is not a competitive sport. Others will try to copy your means—heck people take my exact tweets and duplicate them. That’s cool—someone said to me recently that copycats are the greatest form of flattery. It’s true, I just never understand the desire to strike away from the crowd instead of joining them. I find joy from seeing others succeed, and even greater joy from watching them pay-it-forward. I invite the literary community to join us under our community umbrella.

Marketing is a full-time job, and there’s no magic bullet. You could sell 5000 books this month and two books the next. Remember this on your climb up the ladder: Fame is short lived, friendship is eternal. I strive for the friendships. When I’m old and (even more) gray, any modicum of fame will be long forgotten, but friends will be by my side, telling me it’s okay to move toward that big computer keyboard in the sky.

So, how can you sell your books? What will it take, and how hard is it to get there? Establish a presence. Join a community that will help you reach your potential, and plan on working hard. We all have the opportunity to learn and grow on a daily basis. This marketing life, this writing life, can be a lonely path. It doesn’t have to be. WLC is here for you.

 

 

 

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of three International bestselling novels, Megan’s Way, Chasing Amanda, and Come Back to Me. She has also been published in Indie Chicks, an anthology. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and the World Literary Cafe, a cross-promotional site for authors, reviewers, bloggers, and readers. Melissa is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she’s written for Calgary’s Child Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family. Melissa’s interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

 

YOU CAN FIND MELISSA ON HER WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, AND TWITTER.

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The “S” Word – Guest Post by Natalie Buske Thomas

self-promotion

Do you hate the “S” word? Self promotion sounds ugly, doesn’t it? Indeed, people bristle at the slightest whiff of it. I knew I wouldn’t make it long as an author and artist if I didn’t find a way to make self promotion fit my personality. If you’re like me, and you want warm fuzzy promotion that fits into your comfort zone, give these S words a try:

1.     Shutterbug it! I’m more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. When I attend author events, festivals, and other public gatherings I take pictures of everything (displays, vendors, festival grounds, the convention building, etc.). I don a journalist hat (not literally), and ask people if they want me to feature them on my author site/blog/Facebook page—so far no one has ever turned down my offer. I feel much more comfortable promoting others than I do promoting myself. Of course when exhibitors visit their photos on my social media pages they then see my promotional material, and so do their friends, and friends of friends. The “Warm Fuzzy”? I often make new lasting connections that go beyond networking and settle into real friendships.

2.     Share it! Teaching, directing and serving are my social comfort zones. I share my life in person, and also online through photographs, videos, tweets, statuses, posts, blogs, and stories. Some of these experiences are directly related to my work and some are not. One of my most popular pins on Pinterest is a photo of a hummingbird planter. I came up with a nifty idea to use a shepherd’s hook planter, an inexpensive metal plant stand with a hook. I added a pot of tall bushy flowers to the bottom stand area and used the hook to hang the hummingbird feeder from. This idea has nothing to do with my career, but hummingbird enthusiasts who saw my pin may have also looked at my Pinterest board, where of course my promotional material greets every visitor.

3.     Say it! I know that experts often warn authors and artists not to reveal behind the scenes details, and to fake-it-before-you-make-it. I do agree that it’s the mark of an amateur to whine and vent about one’s career, but I take issue with the “fake it” part. I am open and honest in my communications with readers, fans and the general public. It’s not so much of a marketing strategy as it is giving myself permission to hold fast to who I am. Self promotion doesn’t mean that I must sell my soul. My fan base is small, but growing, and they are intensely loyal. If being genuine has cost me the respect of more polished connections, I can live with that. I say what I mean, I mean what I say, and that’s how I can feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t hold back; I stay true to who I am.

My warm fuzzy promotion has led me down unexpected paths. I held a pet photo contest to determine which animal would be adopted by one of the characters in my Serena Wilcox series. The third place winner was Roxy, a beautiful Jack Russell from Ireland. One thing led to another and Roxy’s “person” and I became friends. Not only that, but she has offered to help me trace my Irish roots. But wait, there’s more! She spoke to her library’s director about my books. My hardcover trilogy is now in a library in Ireland! That means the world to me. My father died when he was thirty-seven. I was sixteen. My mother is gone now too. I have no living grandparents either. The Ireland connection is emotional for me and for my father’s sister.

When I put myself out there and make warm fuzzy connections, I never know what might happen. If you’re like me and you hate self promotion, consider instead that you can live your best life through the “other” three S words. You’ll sell more books just by being your natural self. But more importantly, you’ll enjoy promotion much more than you thought you would. And who knows? You might find unexpected blessings along the way.

Natalie Buske Thomas

Natalie Buske Thomas is the author of the Serena Wilcox trilogies (mystery/thrillers, time travel, YA, Christian fiction). She is also an artist and entertainer. Try book #1, Angels Mark free for Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo, Sony, Smashwords and Wattpad.

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Solomon’s Throne Trailer

Solomon’s Throne Trailer.

Here it is, finally! The trailer for Solomon’s Throne. What do you think? And what do you think about book trailers in general? I’ve done one for Solomon’s Throne, and one for IXEOS. Next up is one for Undaunted Love, and one for my husband’s non-fiction book. I would love to know how to use iMovie, as I know I could do even more with it… Maybe if I had a lot of time to play with it (or is there an iMovie for Dummies??). But I don’t, and Animoto is a great tool for videos.

booktrailers

 

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Marketing is like laundry…

laundry the never ending story

I realized this morning that I didn’t have much planned going forward in the way of marketing. For the last eight months or so, I’ve had marketing booked for each novel out about six weeks. When I looked at the calendar that has all that laid out, it was disturbingly blank. My first thought was, “Seriously?? I already did that!” because sometimes I feel like I spend a crazy amount of time marketing. And I don’t even like marketing! My second thought was, “This is just like doing laundry! It never, ever ends…” That was followed by a big self-pitying sigh. If people would just quit wearing clothes. *sigh* again.

Your book only sells if people know it’s out there. Unfortunately, in the universe in which we live, we have like twenty-seven billion competitors. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Every single book in every single genre is technically a competitor for a reader’s dollars. You have to give them a reason to choose yours. And the first way to do that is to make them aware that the book exists. Seems self-explanatory, but somehow we think that the fact that it’s available on Amazon should mean that people will find it. I did, at first. I didn’t do any advertising, even for free promos. I just sat there, listening to crickets… Well, there probably weren’t crickets.

Doing a KDPS free promo IS a great way to get your book out there, but making it free doesn’t put it up on some magical Amazon billboard with arrows and neon lights. If no one knows your book is free, you may not give away enough to make it to the Free Bestseller list. And if you don’t get it there, at least in your categories, you won’t give away more. It’s a vicious cycle, I know. (And as a caveat, I wouldn’t worry too much about KDPS unless you have a second book out or coming out soon, where readers of the free books can buy the next one. Giving away a free book should point the reader to another action, specifically a purchase. Give away books to whoever you want, but don’t spend money marketing a free promo if there’s no book for that follow up action.)

Promote your free days by marketing them. There are sites that will list your book for free, or that may list your book for free, if they have room on the day you select. Several of those sites only charge $5 for a guaranteed listing, so it’s worth sacrificing one of your white chocolate mochas to do that. There are other sites, like FreeBooksy and eBook Booster, that give you a lot of exposure for $40+. If you have other books and are running a free day, I’d recommend those. If your budget is open for it, and you have a good number of good reviews, you can try a listing on BookBub. (You can see my semi-giant list of marketing sites here.)

Paying for promotions when your book is NOT free costs more money. Bookbub is by far the best avenue for this at the moment, but pricey. The one ad I ran through them more than made up the cost, but be careful about genre. For instance, IXEOS is YA dystopian sci-fi. I ran the book in Science Fiction, not YA, because YA doesn’t do so great on BookBub. Look at the average downloads on their website for your genre, vs the price, and decide where best to list it. Kindle Books & Tips is a great venue, and Kindle Boards Spotlight ads do pretty well. I, personally, haven’t had much luck with Facebook ads, but I know people that do. Be careful on your targeting and try to get the number down from 4-bazillion to about 20-50,000.

A good rule of thumb is to have an ad for your book (or for each of your books if you have multiple) somewhere once a month. Exposure is key, as is word of mouth, so you want people to know about your book, read your book, and talk about your book. Blog, tweet, G+, Facebook, and be on any other social media site you can handle. (For me, blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking are about all I can take!) DO NOT SPAM. Ever. Period. You will do the opposite of what you’re trying to do, because people will hate the sight of your name. Blog, Tweet and post useful info, personal author-related info, and content that people will like. Intersperse that judiciously with a sprinkle of book promotion. I don’t know the magic formula, but I’d say no more than one promo-type thing to every five “real content” post.

Keep your total postings reasonable, too. I try to blog twice a week. I think I could do three, but daily seems too much – people get saturated, and you want them to read your blog, not think, “What another one?” Unless you have super fabulous, super interesting, super useful info, in which case, by all means blog daily! I just don’t… at least not on the subject that this blog is dedicated to. Tweets are hard. My personal limit is about a dozen a day max, which includes Retweets and comments on other Tweets. On Facebook, I try to post something daily, even if it’s just a fun meme or quote. My max there is about three per day, not including responses to comments. Basically, respect your audience/fans, and give quality without killing them with quantity.

Another way for exposure is to tweak your categories on Amazon until you are in the smallest you can legitimately be in. I changed my categories recently for the Quinn adventures, and have since been in the top 50 on the Genre Fiction>Mystery & Thriller>Thriller>Historical Bestseller list. Amazon put my IXEOS books into Teens>Science Fiction & Fantasy>Science Fiction>Aliens, and I’ve stayed in top 40 on the Bestseller list for a couple of weeks. Now, that isn’t a category you can put your book in from the KDP Dashboard. But if you find a non-listed category, you can go into your dashboard, remove one of the two categories you are listed in already, then send the KDP Help Desk an email requesting to be put into your new one. They almost always will, but you have to have one category free for them to do it. This is well worth the effort, because your book is on those Bestseller lists and thus available for people to see without any other marketing or promo on your part.

Finally, and I just learned this one myself (thanks Melissa Foster), monitor your keywords. If another book in your genre is trending, put that book title in your keywords. If your writing or book has been compared to another – and more well-known – author, put that name in your keywords. This way, if someone is searching for that title or author, your book also comes up. Change this monthly if needed to follow market trends! My Quinn books have been compared to Clive Cussler, so I have Clive Cussler in my keywords. My IXEOS books have been compared to The Maze Runner and Falling Skies. I have updated my keywords to reflect that. This is especially important if you write current-events type non-fiction.

I’d like to say this part of the job comes to an end, but I don’t think it does. While the beauty of ebooks is that they’re out there forever, the difficulty is that they’re out there forever! They’re like children who never grow up and leave home… You still have to tend to them. At least they aren’t eating you out of house and home or having loud parties til 3am. So there’s an upside.

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Marketing & Promo Sites

BookBub www.bookbub.com
email list by genre price varies
NOTES: can’t be free w/in 3 mos, 10+ reviews, 4* min
Book Nerd Tours www.booknerdtours.com
Blog tours, blast, reviews price varies
NOTES: 30-45 days out
Book Tweeting Service www.booktweetingservice.com
Book tweeting starts $29/1 day to $125
Indie Book Promo www.indiebookpromo.com
side banners, free day $25-50
promo, “cheap reads”
under $2.99 promo
Christian eBooks Today www.christianebookstoday.com/advertising
banner, feature, solcial $10 and up
media, author page, read
& review
Book Blast Promotions http://bookblastpromotions.blogspot.com/p/tour-blast-pricing.html
(I Am a Reader Not a Writer)
book tours, blasts, reviews varies – $90 and up
NOTES: GREAT for adding
to Twitter and FB following
Jitterbug PR http://www.jitterbug-pr.com/blog-tours/packages/
Blog tours varies by length
NOTE: Also does PR by the hour
Digital Book Today http://digitalbooktoday.com/join-our-team/
week book display $30 and up
week book feature
social media blast
“great reads”
guest interview
guest blog ost
Free day promo
New book release list
Promo sale price book
eReader News Today http://ereadernewstoday.com/bargain-kindle-books/
Bargain Kindle Books 25% of earnings
NOTE: 10 reviews, 4* min, less than 99c
Kindle Books & Tips http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/for-authors/advertising-information/
featured book featured = $75
free book free = free on request
NOTE: 8 reviews, 4* and up, only bk 1 in a series
AuthorsdB www.authorsdb.com
author database free
Book Basset http://www.bookbasset.com/authors/submissions/featured-author/
Featured Author $15
NOTES: up to 5 books, @ least 1 free
paid have to be less than $2.99
only 1x per 30 days
World Lit Café www.worldlitcafe.com
social media blast $20 and up
Author feature
New Release launch
Gaining review
Kindle Fire Department http://fireapps.blogspot.com/p/app-developers-authors.html
Feature $50
Kindle Boards http://www.kboards.com/blog-ads/
spotlight post $50 (3+ reviews)
Book Discovery $15 (Family friendly)
Full Banner $40/ day
Featured Book $35/ day
Free book promo free (min 4*, 20 reviews)
Bargain book promo $20
Shelf Unbound Magazine www.shelfmediagroup.com
1/4 page ad $350 for 2 (recent deal)
Book Gorilla http://www.bookgorilla.com/advertise
email blast by genre $30-100
starred book extra $100 by approval
NOTES: Max price $3.99
FreeBooksy http://www.freebooksy.com/for-the-authors/
Feature $50 Feature
Feature Plus $100 Feature Plus
Daily Free Books http://www.dailyfreebooks.com/promote-your-kindle-book.html
Book of the Day (US) $17/day
Banner (US) $7.50/7 days
Listing highlight (US) $7.50/year
Banner Forum (UK) Sat-Fri $13.50/7 days
Banner Forum(UK) Wed-Tues $13.50/7 days
Banner Free (UK) $7.50/7 days
Free book of the day (UK) $17/day
Listing highlight (UK) $7.50/year
Free Digital Reads http://freedigitalreads.com/author-submissions/
free promo free
NOTES: must be 4-5* rated, free in both US and UK
5-7 day notice
eBook Booster www.ebookbooster.com
submit free bk to 50+ sites $45
Pixel of Ink http://www.pixelofink.com/sfkb/
Free promo day free
NOTE: Not currently taking paid guaranteed ads
Kindle Mojo www.kindlemojo.com/kindle-services/
Twitterblitz (free days) $35/day
List on blog free
Prime Tweets $35
Indie Book of the Day http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/bargain-bookshelf-promo/
Bargain bookshelf, bargain $50 for 1 book, $40/ea for
scout listing, promo, 2 or more
dedicated post, social
media boost
eReader Utopia www.ereaderutopia.com/index.php/author-corner
feature deal (2.99 or less) $15
basic (random) free
guaranteed post $5
NOTE: submit book(s) to data base, them submit deal,
steal or new release
eBook Lister www.ebooklister.net/page.php?p+19
Daily Focus eBook $15
Top 5 “bargain ebooks” $10/day
Top 10 “bargain ebooks” $5/day
Submit free or bargain free
NOTES: 1x per 30 days
Book Goodies www.bookgoodies.com/get-featured/
1 week in 1 category $25
2 weeks in 1 category $40
1 week Home page $45
2 weeks Home page $65
Book Goodies Kids www.bookgoodieskids.com/contact-us/
listing, interview, reviews
Author Marketing Club www.authormarketingclub.com/members/advertise/
Featured book of the day $35
Featured sponsor less than $1/day
NOTE: doesn’t have to be free; not sure length of
sponsorship commitment
YA Promo Central www.yapromocentral.com/submit-to-yapc/
free days free
gold $50
silver $35
bronze $25
guest post $10
release day promos $8
book blurb $8
feature excerpt $8
sidebar ads $15/mo
eBook Impresario www.ebookimpresario.com/advertise/
free book listing $10
Bargain book listing $20
NOTES: 10 reviews, 4* or more, $2.99 or less, only
1x per 30 days
Book Daily www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1325647
Emerging Authors $50
The Cheap Ebook www.thecheapebook.com/authors/
99c deal post free
deal post over 99c $15/3 days
Romance Recipes Blog http://romancerecipes.wordpress.com/contact-me/
About book + recipe free
Bargain eBook Hunter www.bargainebookhunter.com/guaranteed-free-placement-form/
free promo guaranteed $10/title
bargain guaranteed $10/title
free no guarantee free
NOTES: 3 days notice for bargain, 1 week for free,
 books 99c to $5, accepts nonfiction over 100 pages
Pixelscroll www.pixelscroll.com/feature-your-product/
free promo no guarantee free
99c promo no guarantee free
bargain promo no guar. free
free guaranteed $10/title
99c guaranteed $10/title
bargain guaranteed $10/title
NOTES: 1 week notice free, 3 days bargain
Kindle Book Review www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-here/
Twitterlicious $40
Hot new release 440
Monthly sponsor $40
banner $149
ebook video jacket $149
freebie alert $5 or free
tweet pkg add-on $10
Blog Ads Book Community web.blogads.com/advertise/book_hive
Bookmooch $70+
Sci-fi bloggers $19+
LA Observed $15+  (also nonfiction)
The Millions $10+
The Book Smugglers $40+   (YA, scifi, fantasy)
Digital Novelists $10+
Smut Book Club $10+ (rom, YA, new adult)
BookTrib $45+
Literary Kicks $30+
Mommy Says Read $10+
Parnormal Cravings $9+
Cuddlebuggery Book Blog $10+ (YA)
Fangs for Fantasy $20+
Anna Reads $9+  (YA)
Reading Teen $10+  (YA)
Good Books & Good Wine $10+   (YA)
Me, My Shelf and I $9+   (YA, family friendly)
Chapter by Chapter $9+  (YA)
NOTES: many more than I’ve listed!

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Filed under Publishing, Self publishing