Pinterest for Authors: Cool People & Boards to Follow

Not long ago, I wrote an article about Pinterest but never really got into the nitty gritty because I was new to the platform and had no clue what to do on there. Recently, I’ve been finding it easier and more fun to use than Facebook or Twitter. There aren’t that many annoying restraints or constant algorithm changes—yet! Also, I can save time on all my social media accounts by sharing interesting pins to Facebook, Google or Instagram, sites that all favor images.

So let’s start today by using the search engine to find cool people and boards.

Search Terms That Could be Useful

In a Pinterest search you will find several search options which can confuse some people. There’s a small almost unnoticable tab that you can click on where a list of  all of the most popular subjects on Pinterest pop up. Pinterest 2For the sake of this post, we’re just going to go to Film, Music & Books where you’ll find this: Pinterest Basic Search As you can see there are a whole lot of irrelevant non-book related things that were pulled up from this search.  However, you can narrow that search by typing something more specific like: Book Lovers. 

When you do that you will be presented with the All Pins tab as well as the, Your Pins, Pinners and finally, Boards. If you’re looking for something or someone specific, Pinners or Boards are what you want to choose.  Also, if you look toward the top of the page you’ll see several other tabs relating to the words (topic) you have searched. Pinterest Search Techniques If you’re not careful, you can spend hours on Pinterest as I sometimes find myself doing.  So here are a few search terms that will speed up your search.

Tip: You can sign up for Pinterest’s own blog which gives tips and tricks on how to navigate the site.

Boards with Writing Tips

If you’re constantly looking to improve your craft or even looking to challenge yourself as a writer, then Pinterest has you covered. Here are a few boards with everything from character development tips to jokes about writing.

  • ~Writer~  is a board by Sian Rickett’s who pins good tips and half a million other pinners agree!
  •  To Write Characters by Rowena Murillo, has several interesting boards for authors filled with solid tips on the psychology of characters.
  • Writing Tips from Hazell Longuet, has everything from grammar to productivity.
  • Character Personality Traits is a board by yours truly, where I post about personality traits and psychological disorders.
  • Write ✏️✏️✏️ D.i.a.n.a. G.u.n.d.e.l.a.c.h. has tips and jokes.

Boards with Publishing Tips

What indie author doesn’t need marketing advice these days? Here are a few boards for those of you looking for some resources.

  • Author Resources is another board by yours truly and it’s filled with everything from free books on self-publishing, to lists of book reviewers and advertisers.
  • Self-Publishing 101 is a board by Self Pub Nation and is for newbies, naturally.
  •  Book Promotion and Publicity by Your Writer Platform also has awesome pins about promotion and publishing.
  • How to Sell More Books a board from Penny Sansevieri, from the Author Marketing Experts Inc. has everything you’ve ever wanted to know about DIY Publishing.

Quotes & Funny Stuff

Want to post something inspiring or funny to your readers but have nothing to say? Then try seeking out quotes and jokes, they’re everywhere on Pinterest and some of them are unique.

Some Familiar Brands

Yes, companies feel just as pressured as we are to keep up appearances on social media.

Being True to Thyself

Like your books and website, your social media presence should be used as a business card, letting people know who you are, while your posts (pins) should show them what you can do.  This is 20% of social media, the other 80% is sharing, commenting and connecting.  Social media is not about collecting followers or faking engagement.  No one benefits from that.  When the marketing experts talk about building an author platform, they mean building a reputation.  Social media is a great place where you can be you and show the world what you’re all about.  This quote from the late Dr. Seuss says it all:

How to Increase Your Book’s Odds at BookBub

HomepageScreenMany indie authors call Bookbub the golden standard of online book advertising and I can’t say I disagree. Over the years their competitors like Pixel of Ink have either stopped accepting submissions or have gone under. Meanwhile Bookbub has only continued to grow with no signs of slowing down.  In fact just two weeks ago, Bookbub announced they’ve secured seven million dollars in funding to take their company global. This is great news for indie authors who want to reach more readers and make more money from advertising.

Facts You Need to Know

  • BookBub has a subscriber base of over 5 million members
  • BookBub subscribers are spenders.
  • BookBub has strict standards accepting only 10-20% of submissions
  • They are not the most expensive place to advertise
  • Most indie authors who use their services get an ROI (Return on investment)
  • Even indie authors who don’t get an ROI, report a small boost in sales

Reviews Are Critical

Author Brian Cohen, from the Sell More Books Show wanted to get his YA book, Ted Saves the World a Boobkbub ad however, that proved to be more difficult than expected. After several rejections, he wanted to know what the problem was.  Determined to get answers, he studied BookBub and particularly, their YA list then noticed that many of the books in his genre had over 130 reviews at the time, his book only had 115.  Meanwhile, the bestsellers had anywhere between 200-300 reviews.  He’s not the only author to notice this, many indie authors have also had to secure more reviews before Bookbub gave them the nod.

Tip: In February, BookBub held a discussion on the Kboards and answered many questions for indie authors.  It’s very informative for those considering buying an ad.

Blurb

Next to editing, writing a blurb is the most hated of tasks according to most authors. In fact, there are books and online courses devoted solely to helping authors nail this craft. However your blurb is not only important for your book’s Amazon sales page but also to BookBub.  If your book sounds boring, why would they want to promote it? This would hurt their reputation with their subscribers. You have to remember this site is oriented toward readers, not authors. They don’t just take anything that comes in the door.

Your Cover

Many authors believe that they need to like their book cover but that couldn’t be farthest from the truth. This year at IndieRecon, bestselling author H.M. Ward, talked about how she didn’t necessary like all her book covers. In the beginning of her career, when her romance novels weren’t selling, she did some careful investigation and realized none of her book covers matched those on the market. Hers were more artsy and whimsical, while the books that were selling had pictures of attractive people in sexy poses.

It was a harsh lesson in marketing but she learned, romance readers expect a certain type of product.  BookBub is no different, they expect your book to look a certain way whether it’s a sci-fi novel, or an erotic book.  If the cover looks bland or weird, they may just pass it up.  Remember presentation matters in this industry.

Price

Pic By Ged Carroll via Flickr
Pic By Ged Carroll via Flickr

Price is a big deal on BookBub, if you read the page written exclusively for their subscribers, you’ll see they promise free and deeply discounted books.  This means you have to compete and either go low, or even free.  For those of you who are concerned about going too low, BookBub claims that 65% of their readers have reported recommending books they got for free on the site. Who knew?

Be Flexible

Some authors have been willing to forgo advertising on major holidays and weekends in order to get their book in BookBub. There is a comment section of the application that allows you to alert them to the fact that you are not particular about dates. P.S. This didn’t work with our friend Brian Cohen. :(

Study BookBub’s Patterns

In every genre there is a pattern or theme that BookBub is favoring at any given time. Now ask yourself, does your book even come near that? For example, if you’re looking to advertise your romance novel, are they favoring historical romances or contemporary ones? It would be wise to sign up for their newsletter (for readers) and see if you can find patterns.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for their blog as well.

Alternatives

If you’ve done all that you can and BookBub is still not accepting your submission, then try going to their competitor like Ereader News Today, another site that indie authors rave about.  You can also check out a post I wrote last year: Cheap Advertising for Indie Authors for more alternatives.

Well I hope that helps, if you’ve had a BookBub ad, let us know how it went in the comments section.

Selling Your Licensing Rights: What Authors Should Know

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Photo by ThinkPanama via Flickr

In the past few months, the story of Harper Lee and the controversy surrounding her sequel to “To Kill a Mocking Bird” had authors talking again about how it seems everyone is on a mission to rip authors off.   In fact, things have gotten so bad that the Author’s Guild has started a new campaign for what they’re calling a fair  contract initiative which they hope will help authors achieve a fair and balanced return for their work.

Even though I’m not a big fan of the Authors Guild, I do believe this is a worthy cause.  So in today’s post, I’m going to lay out several examples of authors signing unfair contracts as well as authors getting their rights stolen from them.  I also discuss how one New York publisher tried to take digital ebook rights from authors before they were even invented!

You Learn Something New Every Day

Two weeks ago, on the Red River Writer’s podcast, I was asked, what kind of advice I’d give to new authors and I answered, “Authors need to know what’s normal in a publishing contract. These days publishers are taking almost all an author’s licensing rights including movie rights. Publishers don’t even sell books anymore, are we expected to believe they’re shopping our movie rights to Hollywood?” Our guest, Bennet Pomerantz, an author, book reviewer and radio host extraordinaire, responded that it might be because Amazon has their own movie studio. The host and I were shocked, I hadn’t even heard of the Amazon movie studio!

So I did my research and learned yes, Amazon did open a movie studio in 2010.  Bennet also mentioned that Netflix has a studio of its own and they’re experimenting with producing their own movies.  It all made sense now, and publishers being publishers, figured, why not take these rights before someone else (the author) makes money from it?  This is why it’s so important for authors to know what exactly they are selling in a publishing contract.

Before I go further, let me explain the types of licensing rights authors usually exploit:
1. Print
2. Digital (ebooks, apps, video games, etc.)
3. Audio
4. Translation
5. Movie
6. Television
7. Merchandise
8. Franchise: (allowing other writers to use characters from your books as long as they give a percentage of the royalties)

The list does go on, but these are the more common rights that authors sell.  In the case of a traditional publisher, they are generally given the right to publish a book in print, ebook or audio form however, they do not own the copyright to your book.  You are just giving them permission (license) to publish and distribute your book.

Super What?

Most experienced publishing professionals will tell you that you should never EVER sign over all your book’s licensing rights. This is what the creators of Superman did in 1938, when they sold the rights to their company (which created the comic character) for only $150.  They also had  some sort of a work for hire deal with DC Comics that got complicated later on.  As we all know, the comic book character went on to become a global multi-million dollar phenomenon but the creators only got a tiny fraction of what DC Comics got.  Over the years, the creators had to sue on multiple occasions just to get access to royalties due them.  The latest lawsuit occurred in 2008, when Jerry Siegel’s estate sued over the Superboy character.

Back to the Harper Lee Story…

I hear he drives a mean bargain! :) Photo by Snaxor via Flickr
I hear he drives a mean bargain! :) Photo by Snaxor via Flickr

Let’s not forget the case of Harper Lee, (author of To Kill a Mocking Bird) who was duped into signing over copyrights to a former agent. For those who don’t know, Ms. Lee is living in a nursing home and has been nearly blind and deaf for years. However, that didn’t stop her agent who went over to the nursing home and got her to sign a contract giving him the rights to her book! P.S. a judge later declared the contract was null and void then ordered the agent to give back the money he took.

It explains the recent outcry when it was announced that there would be a sequel to her bestseller.  Many believe she is being taken advantage of yet again, while Harper Lee herself has publicly denied being duped into anything.  Later an investigation was launched by authorities who found no signs of fraud.

I guess the moral of this story is not even bestseller status protects you from the problems in the publishing world.

All Things Not Yet Seen

In 2009, Random House sent a letter to several authors when they noticed them selling the digital rights of their books to other companies. They were told in a memo they were in violation of their contract.  Now keep in mind, some of these contracts were 20+ years old, and ebooks as we know them, didn’t exist back then. Later on, a tiny clause was found in some contracts that specified RH could publish manuscripts in book form. Agents and authors cried foul but RH stood by its reasoning and proceeded to take several companies to court.

So how do you keep yourself out this kind of legal nightmare?  That’s easy, you educated yourself. There are several websites and books that can help authors decipher contracts, here are a few resources to look at:

Books:

Websites:

P.S. I’m not affiliate with any of the products or services mentioned.

As you can see, there was never a golden era in publishing, where authors were pampered and protected.  Things have always been tough in this business however today, it’s different.  The industry as we know it is fading away and many people are getting desperate especially, those within the ivory towers.  The only way to protect ourselves and fight back is to educate ourselves.  It’s hard to con an author who knows their legal rights and an educated author is what the industry fears.

*Stepping off soapbox*

Audio Books: What Indie Authors Should Know

Over the past few months indie authors have been discussing audio books and many of us have questions such as; how do you make one, should even you make one, and where do you promote them? So I went on a quest to learn the ABCs of audio books but before I begin let me be clear.  When I refer to audio books I am talking about both MP3 files as well as CDs.  Yes, there are people still listening to CDs!

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90’s humor! Pic by Nick D. Clements via Flickr

Major Misconceptions About Audio Books

Despite what you’ve heard, audio books aren’t for the blind or small children who are struggling to read. Lots of people listen to audio books at the gym, in their cars, and even at work. The numbers reflect this, because every major publisher has reported increasing audio sales since 2012.  This explains why it’s become standard for publishers to demand audio rights these days.

Another big misconception is that the bestselling audio books are all nonfiction. But not according to the APA (Audio Publishers Association) 2014 Sales Survey which says adult fiction takes 77% of the audio book market.  Don’t believe me? Just go over to Audible, the biggest audio book retailer, and look at their bestseller list.

The Pros and Cons

Pro: Right now Audible (which is owned by Amazon), has only about 180,000+ audio books for sale as of this date. However, that is predicted to explode as Google and Apple aim to make their software standard in new cars. This has the interest of many indie authors and it was the talk of many book conferences this year. There’s no doubt that the market has potential but it’s still small.

Con: The sad thing is, the most popular entry into the market is through ACX (also owned by Amazon), which makes producing audio books easy for authors but it all comes at a price. ACX has both exclusive and nonexclusive deals and none of them favor authors. For example, if you decide to go exclusive, you’ll get a royalty of 40% but you’ll have to remain exclusive with them for seven years. No, that wasn’t a typo, I said seven years, as in almost a decade! In that time, they will distribute your work to Apple iTunes and Audible however, there is no mention of Barnes & Noble, or Overdrive nor any of the other retailers in their FAQs. They also set the price of the book, not the author.

Pic by Jeff Golden via Flickr
Pic by Jeff Golden via Flickr

It only gets worse, indie authors who decide to go nonexclusive, will only get 25% royalties but they can sell their audio book(s) anywhere, even their own websites. Now before you despair, ACX isn’t the only deal in town, not long ago on Jane Friedman’s blog, one author talked about going to CD Baby to circumvent ACX’s undesirable terms. This may not be such a bad idea for the author who actually wants to make money from their audio books!
Keep in mind, there will be expenses associated with this as CD Baby does not provide narrators like ACX.  The average narrator can charge per hour or according to the length of the book.  Even if you decide to narrate the book yourself, you’ll need the proper equipment like a quality microphone and recording software. Another thing to note is CD Baby also has its own service fees ranging from free (minus 15% of your royalty) to $89.

Promoting Audio Books Can Be A Challenge

Recently, Goodreads (Another Amazon subsidiary) opened its doors to audio books so things are changing albeit slowly.  It’s also been rumored that Kobo and Google may be looking to get in the audio game so things are evolving. If this continues the supply will meet demand and we will begin to see marketing services catering towards audio books but right now, there aren’t that many options to promote an audio book.  Don’t get me wrong, there are several small advertising outlets for audio books however, there is no BookBub for audio books. (For those who don’t know, BookBub is the go to for online book advertising.)

On the flip side, getting a review for your audio book isn’t as challenging. I discovered several groups on Facebook, and Goodreads for audio books and reviewers. Below is just a small list of reviewers and online magazines catering to audio books.

Reviewers for your audio book
Audio File Magazine
Audio Book Jukebox
Eargasms
Books for Ears
Audio Book Reviewer (Giveaways & Reviews)
Audio Book Jungle
Library Journal

As you can see, there are many things to consider before committing to publishing an audio book. If you do manage to produce one, you have to make sure the quality is just as good as your print or ebooks.  If listeners don’t like the quality of your book, it won’t sell. Another thing to consider is that this is a burgeoning market so it’s unrealistic to expect your ROI to be as high as your ebooks or print editions.  Indie authors have to see this as a long term investment and treat it as such.

So how about you, have you produced an audio book or are you on the fence?

What To Do When Someone Pirates Your Ebook: Part 2

By lamont_cranston via Flickr
By lamont_cranston via Flickr

I had no intention of making a part 2 to my last post but when the Becca Mills story hit the internet, I felt I needed to go further with the series.  For those who don’t know, Becca Mills is an indie author, whose book was removed from Amazon by a false DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) compliant.  As the drama unfolded, many indie authors, including myself, learned several surprising things about the role retailers play in copyright disputes. Because what seemed to be an easy open and shut case turned into weeks of back and forth between the author, Amazon and a con-artist pretending to be the author.  Now here’s the kicker, even though the author had a registered copyright, Amazon would not get involved in a third party dispute.

Long story short, Ms. Mills was finally able to get her book out of KDP purgatory by filing her own counter DMCA and by shooting off an email to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. Though the odds of this happening again are astronomical, I still think we indie authors need to know our legal rights in the event someone tries to hijack our work.

*Disclaimer* I am in no way a lawyer, and cannot give you legal advice.  I can only educate you about the resources and institutions that are available to you.

Lesson 1: Don’t Go Looking For Prince Charming To Rescue You

According to Amazon’s own policy once a DMCA compliant has been filed, they must legally take the book down from their site.  I recently emailed KDP and asked about the Becca Mills case and here’s their response:

KDP Response to Becca Mills Story
Click to enlarge

As you can see, it is up to the real copyright owner to fight the con-artist.  In Becca Mills’ case things were resolved but what if one day, an imposter decides to press their luck and comes after your copyright? Would you know how to fight back?

Why File a Counter DMCA?

On most retail sites, once a DMCA complaint is filed, the identity of the person stealing the work along with their contact info is revealed in good faith. This way all the cards are on the table, and once you have this person’s identity, you can give it to the authorities which leads me to my next point…

Filing Criminal Charges

What if a thief ignores you and continues to make your life hell? In Becca Mills’ story, the person went to both Amazon and Smashwords to get her work taken down.  If this continues to happen, you’ll have no option but to file criminal charges against them. In most parts of the world, law enforcement institutions have a fraud and cyber crimes department so it would be wise to start there.

  • In the U.S. you can go to the FBI
  • In Canada the RCMP
  • In the U.K. Gov.uk

But what if you want restitution? In that case, you’ll need to take it to the next level and file a civil suit in court.

You Have A Copyright, Don’t You?

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By Tristan Schmurr via Flickr

As I stated in part one of this series, you’ll NEED a government copyright. There is no way around this, because according to the U.S. Copyright office: “Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origins.” You can read the entire PDF file here.

Another reason why it’s smart to get a copyright is because in the U.S., if you file your copyright before publishing, you can get more in damages and even recoup your legal fees. Yes, you can get a copyright after your book has been officially published in the U.S., but you won’t be able to claim the full legal benefits of a copyright owner who registered before they published.

Lesson 2: Authors & Journalists Get Sued All The Time

It’s not uncommon for a mega bestselling author to get sued by someone claiming to be the genuine author of a given work. For example, J.K. Rowling has been sued multiple times over her Harry Potter books.  However, none of the plaintiffs have been successful in proving J.K. Rowling ripped them off.  Nevertheless, there are thousands of copyright infringement cases filed in the U.S. every year.

Most major publishing companies have liability insurance which protects them against libel as well as copyright infringement lawsuits.  Unfortunately, most indie authors cannot afford it because the premiums are often very high.  Luckily though, there are guilds and organization that offer protection or legal advice with membership.

Organizations that offer liability insurance or legal information:

In Closing

The purpose of this article is to inform authors that they don’t have to go it alone when defending their copyright.  Help is out there, all we need to do is reach out and ask.  And hopefully, the Becca Mills story will inspire us to take charge of our publishing businesses whether that means getting liability insurance or registering our copyright with a government office.  We indies need to know what’s available to us and how to proceed in the event of a lawsuit or copyright hijacking, because as you can see, the waters are treacherous in the publishing world.

*Stepping off soapbox*

Update: According to Becca Mills, once an author sends a counter DMCA their policy is not inclined to restore a book.  And she’s right, I reread Amazon’s KDP Terms Of Service and it doesn’t mention counter DMCAs or who to contact in the event a false complaint.  I’m left to assume that they take this on a case by case basis but nonetheless, author beware!

What To Do When Someone Pirates Your Ebook

Book Pirates
Pirate Daddy by Paurian via Flickr

In the past couple of months, I’ve noticed an uptick in book pirating complaints from indie authors.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this trend is going  to subside anytime soon.  Why, you ask? Because according to Author Earnings, self-published books make up almost 33% of all ebooks sold on Amazon. So if we indies command a piece of the market that large, we also share the attention of book pirates. This is a problem many authors are going to have to face soon or later, so let’s educate ourselves on the various ways our work can be stolen and what to do about it.

Types of Pirating

There are several ways pirates make money from stolen work, some create websites where they sell books directly, and at these sites there can be anywhere from hundreds, to thousands, of stolen books. Oh yeah, and here’s the kicker: some of the more sophisticated sites not only make money with books but also with ads and affiliate links. Welcome to 21st century publishing!

The second type of pirate will upload your book to a retailer like Amazon and pretend to be you. Often they will change the book’s cover and create some fake pseudonym. They’ve even been known to take public domain works and charge for them.

Then there’s the third kind of pirate that does a combination of both, selling direct as well as selling stolen books on sites like Amazon.

So how do we deal with this?

Step 1: Get Your Book Protected

Before you even click the publish button, you need to register your work with your government’s copyright office. The copyright office will assign your book with a number which links you to your work. This number will be important if someone asks you to prove you are the owner of the intellectual property (book) in question. Which leads me to my next point…

Step 2: Start Sending DMCA Take Down Notices

In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted in the U.S. to protect digital properties from being stolen and distributed. This means if someone takes any material that is copyrighted elsewhere, the owner of that property can take legal action against them.

In compliance with the law, many sites like Amazon, Google and Barnes & Noble all have departments that deal with DMCA complaints. However before you start there, try contacting the pirate site yourself  (if possible) and give them ample time to respond to your complaint. Be professional, and let them know you are the owner of the intellectual property they’re selling and would like it removed from their site.  Some authors have even gone as far as to send invoices to pirate sites, so feel free to charge them whatever you think is reasonable. :)  But if they do not respond, you’ll need to move on to step three…

Step 3: Start Reporting Them To Their Web Host

Copyright Infringement
Arrested by Simon Ingram via Flickr

If this is a website that has stolen your work, your best bet would be to find the host of that particular site and report them. You do that by going to Who Is Hosting This and typing in the pirate site’s URL into the search engine.  Most hosting companies like GoDaddy and BlueHost will happily take down the site if they get enough complaints.  It goes without saying, that it would help, if you teamed up with a few authors on this one and barraged them with complaints. But what if that doesn’t help?…

Step 4: Make Them Invisible

You can report a pirate site that has stolen material to most of the popular search engines. Many sites like Google, will either take away their ranking, or remove them completely from their search engines. Below are some links to get you started:

Step 5: Report Them To The Retailers

This step is for the pirate who steals your book and posted it to an online retailer’s site. Most retailers have official channels that need to be used in order to get a timely response, so be careful to follow the instructions about filing a DMCA.

Trolling The Pirates: Social Media Blasts

I’ve seen journalists and freelance writers have success calling out the people who steal their work on the thief’s own social media page. Yes, there are pirate sites with Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts! Again, just one complaint may not be enough, you may have to join forces with others to get attention.  Think about it, internet trolls, often attack in groups, because it’s effective. However unlike them, you can’t start any flaming wars, just call them out and request they take down your book. If it’s a social media site like Facebook or Google, you can post your entire DMCA complaint right there on the page or in the comments section of their post.

Well there you go, just a few examples of what you can do to fight back against a pirate. Though you can’t put everyone out of business, you can do some damage.  It’s well known that most of the major publishing companies don’t bother with pirates unless, they’re making lots of money.  They can afford to do that however, we indies can’t afford to let that kind of money fly out the window. Granted, I don’t believe you should waste your life hunting pirates but when something comes to your attention, you should at least try to deal with it. You might not win, but hey, at least you put up a fight.

*Stepping down from soapbox*

Should Indie Authors Use Social Media Services To Promote Books? Part 3

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By Olarte.Ollie via Flickr

I was going to post this separately but since it’s relevant to the other two articles on social media services, I’m extending this series. Today, I want to discuss how to research and analyze social media marketing services. Don’t worry, I won’t get too technical. This is important if you want to discern which marketing strategies have a real chance of working for you. As I learned while writing this series, information isn’t always readily available. Sometimes, you will have to dig for what you need to know. But you’re a writer, and already used to that sort of thing, right? So here’s how to find out if a social media service is legit…

Look At Their Numbers

If you’re hiring a social media service it would be rather important to look at their social media accounts and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do they have more followers than me?
  2. Are they promoting books to readers?
  3. Do their posts have more interaction than mine?

If you answer no to any of these questions, you should consider moving on. You don’t have the time or money to throw away on a service that isn’t going to help you promote your books. You probably already have a social media presence that’s either small or nonexistent, so there’s no need to add a zero to your marketing equation.

Getting To Know Them

Once you’ve found out if their following is on the up and up, it’s time to go deep and start analyzing their followers. You need to be sure these accounts are real.  Granted, there are going to be some spammers and fakery but if their Twitter following is more than 20% fake, this is a huge problem. Let’s put that into perspective, if a promotional site claims to have 50,000 followers but 20% are fake, that means 10,000 of their followers are worthless. Can you afford to pay for that? Fortunately, there are several apps that can help you analyze someone’s Twitter account.

Sadly for Facebook, things aren’t so easy I know, shocking right?  On Facebook, you’ll have to go to a person’s page and click on “likes” in order see the countries from which these likes are coming from. If they all come from places in Southeast Asia, they’re most likely fake. Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East are renown for their online scams as well as their spam but they’re also a hot bed for like farms which you can read about here.

How Do You Know If A Service Has Gotten Any Traction?

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By Marco Belluci via Flickr

Okay, so you finally found a promotional service that has legitimate followers congratulations, however, you’re still not done. Before you submit your tweet, post or excerpt, you’ll need a link to wherever your book is sold. When you grab that URL, I would suggest you get a trackable link. This is important if you want to know for sure if a service is actually working for you. Trackable links can be found at:

These sites not only shorten your URLs but track them as well. This means you’ll know exactly how many people clicked on your promo and when. It’s a win-win! In the beginning, you’ll want to monitor any services your use whether it’s advertising or social media blasts.  It would also be wise to schedule different campaigns on separate days just to keep things easier to track.

Helpful Tip: If you haven’t gone exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select, I’d advise linking to various book sellers like; Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or even Google Play. This also keeps things easier to track and it helps promote your book across all seller platforms.

Checking Sales Rank

I know this is obvious but it must be pointed out that you need to keep track of your sales during your promotional campaigns. You have to know which services are giving you the best ROI and which ones are duds. This will save you time and money the next time you promote your next book. So there you have it, if you have any tips on how to research and analyze a social media promoter, let me know in the comments section.

Also, if you didn’t check out the previous 2 posts, what are you waiting for?

  • Should Indie Authors Use Social Media Services to Promote Books? Part 1:
  • Should Indie Authors Use Social Media Services to Promote Books? Part 2