Creating Successful Blog Tours & Social Media Events

Social Media

By MKHMarketing via Flickr

Let’s be real, social media events and blog tours have gotten a bad rep mainly, because authors have an unrealistic expectation of sales. Now add shady bloggers to the mix and you got a disaster on your hands. I’ve heard all the stories about authors paying money for blog tours only to have said blogger disappear with their money.  Same with social media events, I’ve seen people on Facebook and Twitter charging authors anywhere from $50 to $500 for a share or tweeting blitz and that is way too much! You’d be better off buying advertisements or promoting your posts.

So how do you have a successful blog tour or social media event?  I’m so glad you asked…

Remember: Blog Tours are Sooo Not About You

Your tour really isn’t about you or your book, it’s about making a pleasant experience for the blog host, and their readers, keep that in mind.  Also keep it fresh, try not to post the same blurb or excerpt over and over again.  That’s boring and you don’t want to be boring.

Give away unique items, for example, Hugh Howey, gave away flash drives with a nuclear symbol on it (it was his book’s theme) and downloaded his book right on it.  Study the blogs you’d like to target and see what kind of gifts have been given away in the past. If they’re always giving away Amazon gift cards, then maybe you should try something a bit different. Maybe a t-shirt with a quote from your book or a mug with your book’s cover on it?

An Important Tip: Many bloggers complain about authors who post and run, don’t be that author! Ask them if they need help and offer to return the favor if they ever have a product to promote.  Also, find out where they are on social media and follow them and if you really want to go the distance, share their posts occasionally.  If you haven’t read my article, “How to Approach Social Media Influencers” I suggest you do so now.

You Need Time

Social Media Events

By Hartwig HKD via Flickr

Whenever promoting anything, time is always your friend but how good of a friend is completely up to you. You need to give readers as well as bloggers time to plan for your event or blog tour. You also need to plan what you’re going to say or how you’ll present your book.

A Few Things You Need to do for a Blog Tour
• Pick several exciting excerpts from your book to share
• Schedule social media posts
• Create an opt-in form for an email list (you got one right?)
• Write blog posts
• Create eye catching/sharable banners with all your book’s info.

Many authors believe they need to pay major bucks just to do a blog tour but they’re wrong. You can create your own blog tour like I and several writer friends did last year, when we created “The Fantastic Blog Hop.” It was a small tour which was good, because I cut my teeth there.  I would advise you also start small so that your mistakes will be small.  Trust me, there will be mistakes!

But what if you don’t have any author friends to start a blog tour with? Well, there are people online offering free blog tours, why not check them out?

Free Book Tours
Blogtour.org
MundieMomsBlogTours
RockstarBookTours

 

Social Media Event Partners

Thankfully, social media events work the same way as blog tours and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a few authors to share the event with. After all, the more the merrier. If you’re smart, you’ll invite all your new blogger friends that you’ve met along the way as well. Invite them, and allow them to participate in your giveaways or contests.

The Golden Rules for Successful Events:
• Invite friends and family
• Cross promote, if you’re doing a Facebook event tell your followers on Twitter and Google+ as well.
• Make sure to schedule your event when people are most active online, weekends, late afternoon, night and holidays.
• Remember don’t just do giveaways, create some fun games, quizzes or talk about pop culture if you want to connect with readers.

I’ve participated in several social media events as both an author and as a reader and they can be fun. It only becomes a chore when it’s all about selling and promoting. I met a lot of new people during online events and some of them have helped me tremendously later on down the road. So go forth and find new readers but don’t forget to make friends along the way.

Tune in next week, when I tell you how to get featured on Amazon and no, it has nothing to do with algorithms.

The Art Of The Pre-Launch: Putting It All Together

Book Launch

By Contemplative Imaging via Flickr

Pre-launches are a confusing issue for indies, many mistake pre-selling as pre-launching however a pre-launch is the issuing of a book for industry purposes and not necessarily for public consumption. Actually, a pre-launch is a powerful tool and can get the ball rolling when it comes to sales and reviews.   In fact, a pre-launch is a business plan for your book.  Simply clicking publish is not a pre-launch.  Many authors think that uploading their book to Amazon is the sum total of indie publishing when in fact, it’s only the beginning of the journey.  Today, I’ll lay out the basics in a pre-launch, and give a bucket list of things you should consider after you publish.

Elements of a Successful Pre-Launch

If this is your first book, it may take some experimentation and research to figure out where to put your time and money when it comes to promoting your book.  That means rolling up your sleeves and figuring out where your readers are. But there’s no need to despair, if you make a pre-launch list things shouldn’t get that overwhelming.  Here was the one I came up with:

• Query magazines, bloggers or podcasters about interviews
• Connect with Social Media Influencers
• Reach out to reviewers
• Schedule posts for your social media accounts and your blog
• Schedule advertising for major newsletters/ book sites
• Build up your email list.

Tip: The first thing you want to attack on your itinerary list is querying reviewers because you’ll need to give them plenty of time to read your book and write an intelligent review. That could take a few months especially, if we’re talking about a popular blogger.

Bonus Tip: The second thing you’ll need to do is to schedule a date for an ad before all the good dates are taken like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

If you’re thinking, geez this is a lot of work, you’d be right. A pre-launch is nothing to laugh at, it’s as time consuming and emotionally draining as writing a book. During your pre-launch you will essentially become a project manager and will have to make sure things are done on time and on budget. After all, you don’t wanna disappoint the boss (your readers) by delivering a sloppy product. If things become too overwhelming you may want to consider hiring some help to help ease the burden.

You’re Allowed to get it Wrong:  Launching and Relaunching

The cool thing about indie books is that they can be launch and relaunch sometimes, years later. This is something the traditionally published author can’t brag about.   Yes, some trade books are rereleased but only if they’re bestsellers.  However sadly, most books in the trade pub world are treated like fruit that will rot on store shelves.  Indie authors don’t have this concern.  If our books aren’t selling, we can take our work down, and change our manuscript, get a new cover or even change the title then, relaunch.  Now how many Big 5 authors can brag about that?

In fact, many self-published authors have given readers second and third editions of their books with multiple covers.  And from what I’ve been told, yes, people will buy the same book with a different cover. Weird huh?

Well there you go, more info to digest before you launch your book.  Don’t forget to hang around because next week, I’ll discuss the elements of successful blog tours and social media events.

 

How To Publish And Get Featured On Barnes & Noble

Barnes and Noble

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It’s the second largest book retailer after Amazon depending on who you ask. There’s no doubt the past few years has been rough for Barnes and Noble with plummeting Nook sales, store closings, as well as many layoffs.  But in spite of all that, B&N has begun to gain some steady footing by reorganizing their company and hiring a new CEO.  So despite the rumors of Barnes & Noble’s demise, they’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Why not go Exclusive with Amazon?

Not long ago, I had a friend ask about my print book and when I told her it was available on Amazon, she ordered it through B&N which, I thought was a bit extreme.  You see, there are many people who believe Amazon is the evil empire (generally those within the publishing community) and are actively boycotting the site. However, with the recent investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after the death of two employees and multiple worker complaints, even I can’t ignore Amazon’s declining reputation. If they insist on going the Walmart route, many of us will have to question whether to bother publishing with them at all.

Also there is the fact that once Amazon becomes a monopoly, (and it seems like that’s inevitable) they’ll change their royalties so instead of 70%, that could be lowered to 50% or even 20%.  Sorry, but that’s what usually happens in a monopoly.

The Difference between Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Barnes and Noble was a company founded in 1886 and began as a simple book shop in New York. To this day, it’s said that B&N still sells more print books than Amazon.com. However, Amazon dominates the digital market (eBooks).  Amazon also sells a plethora of products on its site such as air conditioners and clothing, while B&N just sells books and entertainment items on theirs. The only real advantage they have over Amazon, are their brick and mortar book stores. B&N is offline as well as online and can offer things to authors like book signings and even bookfairs in their stores. All one has to do is call up one of their many book stores using their store locator and speak with one of their managers directly.

 

Nook

By McCain Library via Flickr

In the Beginning there was the eBook…

When eBooks first hit the market, readers had two choices, Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and believe it or not, many book lovers preferred the Nook over the Kindle for a short time. That alone is why it’s a good idea for indie authors to get their books uploaded to the Nook. Also, B&N is launching a new device in May of 2015 and who knows, it could rival the Kindle once again. Don’t snicker, it could happen!

The Site Formally Known as Pubit

For those of you who don’t know, Nook Press (formally known as Pubit) is the only way indie authors can upload their ebooks to the Barnes & Noble site directly. For those of you on a shoestring budget, it would be wise to upload your ebooks directly to as many sites as possible so you can cut out the middle men like Smashwords or BookBaby. You really don’t need to give 20% of every book sale to an aggregator when there’s software like Calibre and OnlineConvert.com that’ll convert your MS Word docs for free.

Wait a Minute, You’re not Done Yet!

Like Goodreads, Barnes & Noble has a newsletter called B&N Review where they interview authors and review books. It would be wise if you sent them a proof or review copy of your print book to their address:

The Barnes & Noble Review
Barnes & Noble.com
76 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10011

In Conclusion

I like Barnes and Noble but I spend most of my money online at Amazon because they have so

By Sean via Flickr

By Sean via Flickr

much more to offer and let’s face it, it’s convenient. Also there’s the issue with the Barnes and Noble search engine, it’s nowhere near as good as Amazon’s.

However, Barnes & Noble has a physical store that offers people experiences like author signings and workshops.  Some stores even have a cafe with cupcakes to die for!

But needless to say, if B&N doesn’t change their operating model soon and rely less on entertainment products like DVDs and CDs they will go into extinction like their competitor Borders.

So there you go another promotional hack for your book launch.  Next week, I’ll be discussing the art of the pre-launch so stick around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indie’s Guide to Researching Potential Book Promoters

By Paurian via Flickr

By Paurian via Flickr

In the age of the indie author it’s pretty cool to have multiple avenues to promote our work. However not all services are created equal and sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s on the up and up when it comes to value and integrity. Today, I hope to show a few techniques that I’ve used to check out services claiming to promote books to the moon.  Whether it’s advertising, newsletters or blogtours, I’ve got you covered.

Newsletters

In my opinion newsletters are the hardest to research because many promotional sites won’t reveal their numbers. Those that do, only reveal the total sum of their subscribers however, that can be problematic if they have multiple newsletters. For example, if a site claims to have 20,000 subscribers but has 10 newsletters, then that 20,000 becomes a very small number when you divide it by 10.  Also, you have to take into consideration that not every subscriber opens every single newsletter, some are likely getting deleted.  In fact, a great deal are being deleted.

So how do you get the stats? You can obviously email the site personally and ask, or Google the name of the site as well as the words; reviews, or complaints. But if that doesn’t turn up anything, I’d type the question: Has anyone used (Insert name) Promotions? Half of the time a conversation on the Kboards or Absolute Write will pop up.  You know we authors just love to dish! ;)

Online Advertising

With advertising it’s a little easier, you can always gauge activity by looking at their rankings on Alexa, Google Analytics or Clicky. But what is a good number? Let’s try to put all of this into perspective, Google usually has an Alexa ranking of 1, while Goodreads has a ranking of 125.  A small blog like mine, has a ranking of  43,000 on a good month and 90,000 on a bad one.

Alexa Stats for Writing By The Seat of My Pants

Alexa stats for June

 

However, I’ve seen sites with rankings worse than mine charging hundreds of dollars for ads.  This blog gets a few hundred visitors on a good day and half of them don’t click anything.  That’s why I don’t allow advertising on this blog because it won’t work.  And  despite what you may have heard, the numbers do matter because a site needs significant traffic just to get a few clicks.  More importantly, a site needs a loyal following just to get a few conversions (buyers).

Now here’s an interesting fact, Publisher’s Weekly Select, (the indie version of the website) has a ranking of 3,087 and they seem to charge more for advertising than Goodreads. Does that make sense to you?

Social Media Promotional Sites

There are many authors who want nothing to do with social media and prefer to farm out

By Red Touch Media

By Red Touch Media via Flickr

this aspect of their marketing to a social media promotion site and that’s totally cool. But not all sites are created equal and here’s how you can investigate whether a service is worth your money.

• Investigate their followers by clicking on their profiles and check to see if they’re all authors or spammers.  If so, run away!

• Check out the interaction on their pages, if they have 10,000 fans but there’s no conversation going on then it’s time to move on.

• Look at how their social media pages are arranged, are their header photos professionally done? Do they collect emails? Also, if they’re not actively reaching out through promoted posts and ads then they aren’t the social media superstars they would like you to believe.  In other words, if they’re not promoting their own page why would you trust them to promote your book?

Blog Touring Services

This one is super easy, if you can not find any authors who’ve worked with them previously, don’t do it.  A service like this should have some sort of testimonial to speak of.  Another way to investigate is to check out their previous tours by Googling their name and see what kind of interaction the bloggers had with their fans.  If you see no comments or shares, then this isn’t the place to put your money in.

I hope I gave you something to think about before you pay for that ad or Twitter blast.  Next week, I’ll be talking about how to get featured on Barnes and Noble.

Should Indie Authors Approach Book Clubs?

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An author Skyping into a book discussion. By Cesar Astudillo via Flickr

It’s an area most indie authors ignore when promoting their work, and it’s a shame because many readers love to connect with authors. Whether it’s on social media, podcasts or live and in person, readers want to know more about the people behind the books they enjoy.  Made popular by the suburban housewife, book clubs are everywhere and not only that, there book clubs in schools, libraries and even prisons.

There are two routes you can go, approach an online book club or make an arrangement to meet with them live and in the flesh. It’s really up to you but I would recommend starting online and as you become more comfortable then, meet up with a group in your area.

 

Finding Book Clubs Online

It’s easy finding book clubs online because they’re pretty much everywhere but not all are author friendly. So here are a few places I found that offer to facilitate a phone or online get together with readers.

P.S. don’t forget to check out Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing as they have many groups that would love to hear from an author. Again, just make sure the group is author friendly before approaching.

 

  • Readers Circle (International) make sure to click list your book
  • BookBundlz has both free and paid services but I would just use the free one since their website doesn’t seem to get much traffic.
  • Skype has a program called Skype in the Classroom which offers free skyping to schools with an author.

 

Finding Book Clubs Offline

Many authors start off by meeting book clubs at their local libraries, I know the main branch where I live host lots of writer and reader events. It’s worth checking to see if your local library has an author program or book club.

Here are a few library databases as well as a few book club directories.

 

Libraries in the U.S.:

Libraries 411

Public Libraries

 

Libraries In the U.K. 

Find a Library

Canadian Library Database

LibWeb

 

Offline Book Clubs

  • The Loft Literary Center: Here you can post a community bulletin asking groups if they’ll host you like this author did here.
  • Book Clubs on MeetUp.com
  • Authors who are willing to travel can add their name to this database.  Hat tip to Galley Cat on MediaBistro.

 

Take Heed:

Remember when approaching a book club be polite and explain why your book would be a good fit for their club. Just suggest your book and let them know you’re available to do a personal appearance. It would be helpful if you could compare your book to something they’ve heard of, if that’s possible.

Also, keep in mind these are readers so no hard selling, it’s annoying and it may bite you in the butt down the road when they decide to give you bad reviews just based on the way you behaved.

 

So there you have it another book promotional hack you can actually use.  Stay tuned for next week’s post when I talk about researching promotional sites.

 

 

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