The Trials and Tribulations of Self-Publishing Top 10

Moved as part of my HowToSelfPublishABook.org redesign. This is a guest post from Hillary Peak, Author of Wings of Hope and Cappuccino is the Answer for Job Dissatisfaction.

Her personal website is www.HillaryEPeak.com

10. So far, I’ve spent a lot more than I’ve made.

9. In my experience, good reviews sell more books than anything else. Check out bookrooster.com

8. It isn’t worth it to spend money to try and win an award.

7. The frugal ereader is worth the money.

6. Those free days on amazon are exciting–until you realize that you didn’t make any money. Plus, I haven’t seen the pick-up in reviews I’d hoped.

5. There are a lot of opportunities out there that are free or fairly cheap–particularly goodreads and facebook.

4. Facebook ads work, as do goodreads ads, if you are willing to spend a little money.

3. Doing a blog tour is really fun–and a lot of work.

2. Get into the Indie world, there is a lot of great information, help, support and new ideas!

1. If you have a good product, you can sell it, but it requires a lot of time and effort.

 

10 Ways to Market Your Book

by Desiree Finkbeiner

Today’s guest post is by Desiree Finkbeiner. She’s recently had her action adventure fantasy Morning Star published by Hydra Publications.

bt9

For an author, getting published is an accomplishment to be marked as one of life’s greatest milestones. But what most authors don’t seem to have a handle on, is how to market their work. Writing is the easy part, and getting published isn’t terribly hard either… given that the writer finds a publisher who recognizes marketable quality in their writing.

But let’s face it, most authors are going to be ignored by the huge publishing houses that can afford to assign a personal publicist for each author. Independent publishing and small presses are finding it harder and harder to earn their keep in the highly competitive market of literary entertainment. Writing and publishing is the easy part, but how do you compel people to buy your book?

I earned a degree in commercial art with a strong emphasis in business and marketing. But the market changes on a daily basis, and the virtual world is transforming the industry by leaps and bounds. What are some ways you can get your book into the hands of readers?

First and foremost, once you’re published, don’t expect your book to sell itself, and don’t expect your small press to do everything for you. They simply can’t. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably like me, eager to make your writing career a success, and willing to do your part to make sure you see more than a few digits on your bottom line.

Here are 10 marketing ideas that may help.

1.      If no one knows who you are, no one will buy your book. Get out there! The world has gone to social media so that’s where you need to be too. So get off your rump and start opening as many social media profiles as possible. Luckily, many of them have applications that link together so you spend less time updating and more time writing. Example: You can link your Facebook fan page to your Twitter account so it automatically reposts everything from your fan page to your Twitter account. There are also software applications available that link multiple social media accounts in much the same way, including rss feeds from your blog to auto post to other sites like Goodreads and Amazon Author Central etc. You’ve got to get your updates to your readers, wherever they are online. Since everyone favors different sites, it’s important to use as many as possible.

2.      Once you get your social networking accounts set up, what do you do with them and how can you make them effective marketing tools without coming off as ‘spammy’? It’s as simple as this: engage your followers. Try to avoid plugging your book in every post you publish. People will get bored with it and unfollow your page when it becomes redundant. Give them something interesting to “like”. Offer content that caters to their interests and you’ll keep them coming back to see what’s new.

3.      That being said, how to you get fans and followers? The first thing you can do is invite friends and family to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your page. That will give you a start, but you’ll run out of new likes really fast if you’re not actively seeking to grow your network. First off, DON’T SPAM. It’s bad cyber karma, and people will block you if do it. Instead, as mentioned above, offer something to people that compels them to follow. Some examples: free giveaways for the first fan to send 10 new likes to your page…. And let’s not forget the golden rule! Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Follow other people’s pages. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to follow you back because you followed them first. Remember, just because they may not support you directly, doesn’t mean their likes don’t matter. On the internet, Viral exposure is important. The more feeds and lists your content appears on, the more new faces you will be exposed to through extended networks.

4.       Blogging. Keeping a blog is a great way to scratch the backs of others while growing your own exposure. Remember, if you seek to help others first, it always come back around to work in your favor too. By offering guest posts or guest features on your blog, you are not only keeping your blog interesting for your current followers, but you’re increasing potential traffic because whoever you feature might promote the feature, sending new readers to your blog. They might take the time to browse your site while they’re there, especially if you update your blog regularly with new content. A catchy banner ad for your book or product at the top of your blog is a great way to increase awareness without being pushy. Viewers who are visiting for your guest post, will also see whatever else you have posted in the blog. So make your banners attractive yet subtle enough to not seem like a shameless self-promotion campaign.

5.      Ad campaigns. I know, I know. Your budget sucks. Mine too. But some times ad campaigns are worth the investment, some are not. Most social networks have their own banner ad campaigns available where you can set your budget and ‘per click’ price. I’ve run ads on Facebook, Goodreads, Google Adwords, eBay and a few others. I saw the best results when I stuck to a strict target market. The more you can narrow your target market down, the more effective your advertising campaign will be. So if you’ve only got $25 to spend, you’ve got to make sure the right people are clicking your ads. By assuming that your Paranormal Fantasy novel would get the best exposure by selecting all age groups in all regions, you’re making an expensive mistake. Try limiting it to women readers, age appropriate demographics, within regions where English is the dominant language, and you’ll reduce the risk of some 12 yr old boy who likes action figures and puppies from clicking on your steamy romance and running up your bill.

6.      Book Trailers. Take it from the movie industry, movie trailers sell movie tickets! Book trailers sell books! Human beings are the most responsive when you can appeal to their senses. A good book trailer stimulates visual and audible response whereas reading and banner ads are only visual. More information and emotion can be conveyed in a 1 or 2 minute trailer than by reading a synopsis alone. It’s less work for the reader, and more compelling. If you don’t have a book trailer, you’re missing out on a vital marketing opportunity to increase book sales.

Note from Bryce: You can check out Desiree’s book trailers here and here.

7.      Blog tours. A blog tour is a virtual tour designed to do one thing: increase exposure. Each blog you visit has its own loyal followers that are potential customers. Again, by offering content to other blog that interest readers, you’re engaging readers. Most importantly, offer something that will benefit your blog host whether is be a helpful guest post on a topic that benefits their readers, or offering a giveaway in exchange for a feature on your new book. People love free stuff, and bloggers love interesting content, so why not help each other out?

8.      Book reviews. Never underestimate the power of reviews. They sell books to other readers who may be hard to impress, and nothing sells product better than customer testimonials. If you’re having trouble getting your readers to post reviews, offer them an incentive: free review copies of your book, for example, or sneak peak excerpt from the next installment in a series etc. You’ll need as many reviews as possible posted to Amazon, Goodreads and other sites catering to books. Also, reviews on blogs may compel new readers to buy your book as well.

9.       Pass-along cards. Business cards, flyers or post cards. Always have them on your person. You never know who you’re going to meet when you’re out and about. Those word-of-mouth one-on-one personal contacts are golden opportunities to grow your following. It could be as simple as striking up a conversation with the clerk at the grocery store. Build relationships with the people in your community. It’s always best first to let the people you meet talk about themselves first, be genuinely interested in what they have to say so they will feel that you’ve put value on their experiences, then tell them it was wonderful meeting them and give them a pass along card which promotes your book/social page/website with a polite smile. Chances are, they will take the time to visit your site and check out your content because you took the time to visit with them. I’ve sold books with this method, and they will in turn, tell their friends about you.

10.  Free Samples. You’ve seen them, the little sample tables at grocery stores that give away free food samples to get you hooked on their product. Free samples sell products, it’s proven, and it sells books too. Offer free review copies to readers and bloggers who will publish reviews online. Their incentive to read your book is because it was free, then they will tell their readers and friends about how much they liked your book, which will result in sales. You can also post free excerpt on blogs or forums to get people interested in the story. People are more likely to buy the book if they can sample it first. Free book giveaway promotions also work. Have you ever been to Amazon to download free ebooks from the free kindle page? Those downloads not only raise your Amazon ranks, they result in reviews and getting your book into circulation, which results in more sales. So don’t be afraid to give it away, especially if you have a series. Try giving book #2 away for free. People who download it will have to purchase book #1 to get up to speed on book #2. Or giveaway book #1 to get people hooked on the series. If they liked it, they will come back and buy the other installments.

 

Adwords-Banner

To learn more about Desiree & her work:

Author website: www.finkartstudio.com

Author facebook fanpage: www.facebook.com/finkartstudio

Author G+: https://plus.google.com/116389190274070035894

Author twitter: https://twitter.com/finkart

BlogTour.org Update

For the authors/bloggers that hang around here:

newblogtour

Okay, I finally got around to making some changes over on the BlogTour.org site. I gave it a minor facelift (yay for clouds) and added a “Browse” function. It’s all Ajax-y and swell.

If you have a book to promote, or you wouldn’t mind an author dropping by your blog, go check it out.

BlogTour.org

BlogTour.org now up.

Okay everybody. The secret project I unveiled yesterday is now up. Yes, I know it’s still rough around the edges and there are still plenty of features that I’m planning on adding. But the core functionality is there and I think it all works.

So if you have a blog and you’d be willing to let book authors do a tour stop on your blog, please go sign up and help me test the thing. Or if you have a book for sale, do the same thing.

If you have neither, please be a pal and spread the word.

BlogTour.org

P.S. And to those who were hoping for a new chapter today – I’m sorry. I suck. I’m lower than low. I have no new chapter. I hereby promise to finish the chapter I’m working on and post it next week.

Filedby.com – A New Marketing Tool For Authors

I’m always looking for new ways to get my name out there and get folks to read my fiction. Sometimes I don’t have to look too hard though – the information just finds it’s way to me.

A representative of a new website named FiledBy.com emailed me and gave me a quick rundown of their service. I checked out their site and thought it might be useful to review what they do and pass it along.

logo

What is FiledBy.com?

According to the email I was sent, FiledBy is an “…author-centric website with free digital marketing and community building tools…”

So what is FiledBy.com really?

It’s basically like a public facebook specifically for authors & readers. An author signs up for or claims an account (more on claiming an account in a second) then puts up bio information and a list of his/her books.

Readers can then go on the site, comment on and rate books and authors they like. And find new authors and all that jazz.

Requirements and Signup

Before you sign up as an author, you do need to have at least one work in print that has an ISBN. If you’ve self-published through CreateSpace or used the appropriate distribution option at Lulu or you just own your own ISBN, you should be good to go.

However, if they don’t already have information about you, you will need to supply them with ISBNs of any books you have in print.

Because I published through CreateSpace, I had to use their little form to tell them my ISBN so they could research and do the actual creation of my author page. It would have been nice to be able to fill out whatever info was necessary by myself, though. I mean, If I can provide an ISBN, they should be able to tell if it’s legit and then let me get going. Instead I had to wait. sigh.

However, I had to wait less than 24 hours. So they’re currently pretty quick about getting things done.

What about this claiming an account thing?

They’ve apparently done a bit of data mining (it looks like from Bowker’s Books in print) to seed their site. They claim to have listings for over 1.8 million authors. From a regular visitor’s standpoint, that is a good thing, as it means you can look up and comment on your favorite author even if that author hasn’t or will never actually sign up for an account. So if you are one of the authors that they already have a page for (I was not) then you claim the page that has been pre-started for you rather than starting yourself a new one.

Setting up Your Author Page

Changing stuff on your author page is easy. When you are logged in and looking at your page, there are just little buttons that say “edit” under the various headings. You then upload your image or change the text.

filedby

With a free account, you also get to upload one “media” file – an embedded video (like from youtube), a pdf, or an MP3. I went ahead and uploaded one of my fantasy short stories.

FiledBy also then generates links to purchase your book at Amazon and other online booksellers.

Paid vs Free Accounts

Here’s a quick lowdown of what you get for free and what you get when you pay.

With a free account, you get an author page with an editable bio and photo. You get to list all of your books that have ISBNs, manage their covers, and you get get to order them however you want. You get to add two links to your sidebar (I chose to link here and to my twitter account.) You get to add one media item, as mentioned earlier.

With a premium upgrade ($99 a year) you get the free features and you add several ‘outreach to the fans’ features. You get a calendar so folks can see when you’re doing your next signing. You get the ability to promote upcoming books in addition to your already published ones. You get a blogging tool that you can use to blog via filedby or you can have it automatically update from your regular blog. You get to post a total of three media files and have up to six links on your sidebar. You also get a chance to moderate your wall (comments on your profile) so you can minimize the effect of haters. And lastly you get a ‘What I’m reading’ list, so your fans can read what you read.

If you go all the way to a premium plus upgrade($399 / year), you get everything else and a couple of nice marketing features. You can add testimonials and endorsements. You can add awards you’ve earned. You get to add up to ten media files and have up to ten links on your sidebar. You get to add a ‘press kit’ to which you can point everyone who interviews you. (here’s the example they have) You can add a custom header to your page. Finally, you get in the rotation for the “Featured Authors” section at the top of the homepage and the category pages.

Things I Would Like, But Couldn’t Find

  • The ability to at least suggest the genre that I / my book fall into.
  • A way to add a short description for my book. The “Membership Levels” grid says you can do this, but I never could figure out how. I could only change the cover picture.
  • Reporting features. I’d like to know how many people looked at my profile, how many looked at my book, and how many people downloaded the short story pdf I put up. Also link tracking would be nice – I can tell from my site stats how many visitors came from FiledBy.com, but it’d be cool to know how many went to my twitter page and how many clicked on a buy link. This could make a huge difference in my willingness to upgrade my account.

My Personal Tiny Hysteria Over The License

I’ve begun reading those terms of service that everyone makes you say you’ve read when you sign up for an account at the new site.

There was one thing that kind of raised an eyebrow for me as I read the Terms of Service. Part of the paragraph under the heading “Submitted Materials” said:

…However, by submitting materials to the Site, you hereby grant FiledBy a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform such materials in connection with the Site, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Site (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels, without  compensation to you or any other person….

Here’s one reason this bothered me. I post my fiction chapter by chapter on my blog. If I pay the $99 a year to upgrade I can have my author page on filedby be automatically updated with my blog posts. So as my blog posts get gathered to filedby, they then are granted a permanent right to use my fiction however they want. They could even transfer or sublicense my fiction to somebody else. I’m not saying that current ownership would do that – sell a right to print (at least the online version of) my next book- but they could.

This won’t be a problem for everybody, but because I am currently marketing myself the way I am (posting fiction on my site) it could be a problem for me. The solution of course is not to hook up my blog to my author page on filedby. But doesn’t that kind of defeat at least part of the purpose of paying the $99 a year? Or I suppose I could just use their built-in blogging tool (which I didn’t have the chance to test.)

I do like the thought of being able to syndicate content from my blog, but I also really want to be able to remove content I own if I ever want to.

In all fairness, I’d imagine that they just want the ability to sell the site if it starts becoming hugely popular and transfer the author-entered content they have on the site. Or maybe they’d license out the expanded info they have now gathered the same way they probably licensed the info from Bowker’s. I don’t really have a problem with that because I want more people to find out who I am.

Oh, yeah, and elsewhere they describe what is considered personal information, and personal information will not be disclosed publicly.

All that being said – I still signed up for a free account.

How I Plan On Using FiledBy.com

For the time being, I’m just going to use a free FiledBy account as a lead source to find new readers. If I start noticing a jump in traffic coming from them or a spike in sales of my novel, I may consider upgrading. But only if it’s pretty clear that it’s going to boost sales enough to cover the account upgrade costs – after all, I’ve got a well-trafficked blog already, and I could throw a calendar on the sidebar at any time if I felt it appropriate. I’ve also already got a separate site for my novel, and it ranks pretty well for it’s most likely keyword, zombie novel. I’m not sure I could do that without total control of the book website.

If you want to see what a free account looks like, here’s my filedby profile. Feel free to rate me and Oasis as you deem appropriate. As long as you think five stars is appropriate. :) If you hurry, you can be the first to join my reader list.

View Bryce Beattie's profile on FiledBy

The Verdict

For authors who want to have a good looking page and don’t want to do anything technical to get one, filedby.com is a good place to start. $99 a year for a blog (and a couple of other things) seems a bit steep to me, though. But then again, I’m a nerd, and comfortable finding a host and doing all the technical things necessary to operate my own websites.

The people who should upgrade are the folks who do plan on using their FiledBy page as their main website. It really would make things easy to manage.

Also, I believe at least a free filedby.com account would be a good addition for any author.

In my opinion, the thing that might make the $399 a year “Premium Plus” upgrade the most worthwhile is if being on the “Featured Authors” lists generates a significant amount of traffic/book sales. Of course the site is new, so there really is no way to prove that just yet.

All in all it seems like a good service/platform. If you’re looking for more exposure as an author, you should definitely check it out.

FiledBy.com