While cruising Pinterest, I found some helpful advice for writers as well as humor only we would understand. So enjoy these pins and let them humor, inspire and enlighten you.
If you want, you can join me on Pinterest at: http://pinterest.com/rachelrueben/
Recently, I saw a contest where a blogger gave readers $60 to leave a comment. This blogger was calling it a contest however, I didn’t agree. What I saw was bribery. But no matter what I thought, it was effective. As I thought more about it, most contests are bribes anyway: do X, get Y. With authors our X’s are generally, book reviews, or social media followers. So how do we get what we want without looking like shady?
Contests That Don’t Work
Free eBooks are passé since Amazon started their KDP program, these days everyone and their mother is giving away free eBooks. For example, Guy Kawasaki author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur said he gave away 200 eBooks in exchange for a review and only 40 of these people actually responded. That’s about a 20% rate and he’s an online celeb!
Also, stickers, postcards, bookmarks and anything small and cheap rarely gets a huge response. I once saw a Facebook admin begging people to enter a contest for a bookmark. It was pretty sad! I don’t understand, why authors have a contest where the postage stamp is more expensive than the prize?
How to do it Right!
Naïve authors have upped the ante by giving away freebies like gift cards, hardback books, and even Kindles, only to get screwed by not demanding something in return before the payday. I’ve seen many authors complaining about how shady people are and how hard it is to get anyone to support their book. One author gave away a free hardback of his new book to whoever would review the book on Amazon. Guess what? The winner took the book and never delivered on their end of the bargain. His mistake: not getting the winner to do something BEFORE he ponied up the prize. This way we all win.
To stand out from the crowd, and not be the typical author giving away ebooks or gift cards, try creating other products like t-shirts, posters and even cell phone cases with your book’s cover or quotes. There are sites like Cafepress and Zazzle who help you do just that. However, you have to be careful when using pictures of your cover unless, you’re certain that you own 100% of the rights to the image/art and not just a temporary license. This will ultimately save you a trip to court.
Just so you don’t end up like that Facebook admin who was begging for entries to her book mark contest, here are a few contest ideas that will benefit you and your contestants.
Need a review? Here’s a spin on freebies: give away a free ebook then tell contestants that when they review it, they’ll get a signed hardback or gift card.
Need likes on you Facebook page or retweets? Ask people to share or retweet a carefully crafted post you’ve created featuring your book’s details and give away a t-shirt or swag pack.
Want more blog traffic or comments on your posts? Ask a moderately difficult question and whoever answers it correctly, gets a gift card or a poster.
Awesome Contests That Delivered
Not long ago, there was a fantasy author who used a treasure hunt to promote his book. The prize: a golden wand worth thousands. Keep in mind this was sponsored by his publisher, one of the NY big six. However, he was the one who set up a website with a message board where he moderated as one of the characters from his books. Interesting eh?
Another author held a Twitter contest where readers had to retweet a post and with each RT, she would donate x amount of dollars to a local charity. P.S. she ended up owing this charity a few grand.
Promote the Crap Out of it
Don’t forget to shout this from the roof tops if you want maximum results. You can use social media, blogs, and podcasts to help raise awareness. Some authors have even used online ads to promote their contests. Again, this is your contest, and your rules.
A Final Word:
I wouldn’t be doing my job unless I told you to not pin all your hopes on contests. There are people who scour the internet looking for contests as though it were their profession. They’re often called, “sweepers” people who enter sweepstakes or (contests) with no regard for the prize at all. So don’t expect to make fans out of these people. Your objective is to get people to do something for you such as, review your book, or like your Facebook page.
Now it’s your turn, have you had any contests to promote your book? Let us know what worked and what didn’t?
Honestly, I wasn’t going to post anything today, because I had no desire to babble on about writing or publishing which is saying a lot because it’s pretty much been my life for the past 5 years.
The saying “April showers” took on a totally new meaning this month, when I was doused with a shit storm of bad luck. In the past month, I’ve been dealing with a few small health issues, which is no big deal. However, my cousin (who is like a sister to me) was in a car wreck and needed financial help, which I have been happily providing, again, no big deal.
The next week, a Facebook friend of mine and fellow author, Linda Nance, dropped a bomb: she had cancer and because of a preexisting heart condition, she is unable to have surgery, or have chemo. She celebrated the release of her latest book, “Danny” with such joy because it will most likely be her last.
As if that weren’t enough this week, I turned on the television, and saw the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon. While sitting in my living room, I literally yelled, “Really fuckers, a marathon?!?” as if the terrorists could hear me through the television.
Inspiration Among the Turmoil
Not long afterward, all of our best and brightest came forward and did what they did best, they uplifted us, made us laugh and gave us hope. For example, comedian and writer Patton Oswalt, posted this touching and uplifting message on Facebook which has since gone viral. Also, Stehphen Colbert’s Boston Tribute touched and humored those of us looking for a release from the sadness. Notice how it’s only the artists, the writers, singers and performers who step up and express the agonies of the soul.
I also watched as people from around the world shared in the grief and offered tributes to the victims of the tragedy.
So in the future, if anyone asks me what happened in April of 2013? I’ll simply answer, things fell apart, only to fall back into place. Because that is what happened, life rained down a shit storm and we took shelter in our hopes, joys and dreams.
It’s one of the main reasons that the self-publishing stigma exists. Next to bad editing, bad book covers are the second biggest complaint from both readers and industry professionals. Let’s face it, most indie books look awful! But until recently, we didn’t have access to the same resources that the major publishing houses did, however that has changed. Did you know that there are thousands of people who are skilled at design work, and can easily churn out a basic ebook cover for as little as $25?
99 Designs is one of the most popular and well known cover designers to indie authors. They create not only book covers, but business cards, t-shirts, and even web page banners.
Here’s how it works, you launch a “contest” or project telling the potential designers what you want in a cover. You can even submit a sketch or photo to give them a better feel of what you need. The designers then jockey for your project by submitting their work. It generally costs $299 for a book cover.
Similar sites where you can hire freelance designers are; Elance, Odesk, and Guru. You post a job, and freelancers from all over the world will then bid on your project. At these sites, freelancers are paid by the hour or per project. You either have to set a budget or agree to someone’s per hour rate by coughing up the cash and putting it in “escrow” as a show of good faith to the site and its freelancers. There may also be contracts that you have to sign and 10-99 tax forms, but that’s to be expected when hiring a freelancer.
If you want to work directly with a designer then there are sites like Indie Designz that provides basic book covers at $75. They also do print covers and format ebook covers for print as well. The first two drafts are free but those afterward, will cost you $5.
It’s just what it sounds like, here authors purchase book covers based on work already completed by a designer. The Book Cover Designers is one site with premade book covers, the smallest price I’ve seen here is $25.
Another site that is similar is SelfPubBooks.com here, they guarantee a unique cover and will immediately stop selling the cover once you purchase. The lowest price here is $69.
Well there you go, a set of resources that are cheap, easy and stress free. If you have any more sites that you know of that are indie friendly, and cheap, please let us know in the comments section.
As the release of my next novel approaches, I’ve been studying better ways to market this book. I was afraid to put myself out there and confused by all the marketing advice given by the gurus. Use social media, don’t use social media, blog don’t blog, it was enough to make anyone’s head explode.
I looked at all my options, and that included farming the marketing chores to a professional and talk about confusion. There are so many agencies and book pr specialists that it’s nearly impossible to narrow down facts and real testimonials.
Focus on What You Want and Watch Your Budget
Do you want sales, then you may need to pay a little more and go with an established service. That means a company that has experience marketing hundreds, if not, thousands of books.
Beware however, not all the expensive packages are worth their weight in gold. For example, Xlibris’ email marketing plan is a whopping $10,000. That’s a lot for an email blast!
Now on the lower end of things, there are services that only cost $20 and not surprisingly, they don’t deliver according to this one author who has yet to get an ROI on her investment.
This leads me to my next point, if a company says they’re going to advertise your book online, ask them where? Investigate how much it actually costs to buy an ad at the site they’re peddling and see if everything adds up. Are they charging you $8,000 for a Goodreads premium ad that only costs $5,000?
Research, Research, Research!
Never go by the testimonials on the company’s website, those are too easy to manufacture. To find people who’ve really used their service, start by Googling the company name and the words, “scam” or “complaints.” If you come up empty handed, start a thread on an indie author’s group on Goodreads or the Amazon Kindle Boards and ask if anyone’s used that particular company’s service. Leave no stone unturned!
There are no Guarantees
Publicity does not necessarily equal sales, because marketing is a complicated business. If you’re writing a book in a genre that’s small, then nothing you, or a professional marketer does may matter. I’ve heard many horror stories of indie authors who have spent their life savings buying unnecessary and unproven marketing packages from self-publishing companies and fly-by-night places only to end up disappointed, not to mention, broke!
So what about you? Have your tried a professional marketing service to promote your book? Share your experiences in the comments section.
Recently, I wrote an article for Writer’s Weekly about the scandals rocking both the publishing world and entertainment industry. You can check it out here: http://writersweekly.com/this_weeks_article/007789_01302013.html
It ended up being one of my biggest regrets as an indie author. Two small words that could have made my life so much easier, of course, I’m talking about a soft launch. For those of you not familiar, a soft launch is where you put your book on sale, but tell only a select few like; reviewers, members of the media, and even newsletter subscribers. Why? Read on…
I Might Have Found Annoying Mistakes and Formatting Issues
I’ve probably told you before, but it’s worth repeating. When I published my YA novel, I found a grammatical error on the first page. Needless to say, I was very upset. I worked so hard on that darn thing and still I missed things. Obvious things. If I had done a soft launch this wouldn’t have happened!
If I could do it over again, things would’ve been so different…
I Would’ve Started Collecting Reviews
This is the secret that most successful authors don’t talk about. Ever wonder why when a famous author releases a book, there are already 200 glowing reviews on Amazon? It’s because the book was already available for sometime but kept on the down low. A release date doesn’t really mean, a book was actually published that day. A release date is more like a push date, where the author and or publishing house are starting their marketing bonanza.
I Might Have Scored Some Blurbs
Blurbs are different from reviews, blurbs are a seal of approval from someone significant in your genre or within the publishing industry. Blurbs almost legitimize your book if you’re an unknown. This is important for indie authors since the self-publishing stigma is alive and well. Finding a big name who is willing to give an opinion on your book is hard but worth it. Check out this post written by Marcia Yudkin on how to get started.
Would’ve Created Media Kits
Creating a media kit would have helped me and those curious about who I was. If you’re going to query book bloggers, journalists, or podcasters it would help if you gave them a link to your media kit. This helps them find out who the heck you are and what you do exactly. Here’s a good article from the gals at Duolit on how to create a sweet media kit for your website.
Should’ve Schedule Social Media Posts
If you don’t have Hootsuite or Buffer I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. These two services offer the ability to auto post during peek hours on your social media accounts. Currently, Hootsuite can link to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, MySpace, Foursquare, WordPress and LinkedIn. They even have an app so you can include more of your accounts. Priceless, for the author who is short on time and energy.
Needed to Secure Interviews, and Features From Media
If you didn’t read last week’s post, I suggest you do so. It’s imperative that we get our work in the public view where other people outside of our circle can see. Getting in front of other people’s audience is wise for marketing. If they don’t review your genre or anything indie, offer to do a guest post and make sure your book is the first thing mentioned in your bio.
Schedule a Blog Tour & Advertise if You Must!
I’m not against ads or blog tours even though research and my own experiences have proven they just don’t work. But to have a successful blog tour, or ad blitz you’re going to need to schedule things so when your major launch happens, things will smoothly fall into place.
I hope I showed you in this post, that there is no magic or luck in the publishing business, just planning and hard work. These techniques I’ve shared with you are the very same ones used by the NY big six publishers and we indie authors would do well by observing and taking notes. That’s so you don’t end up writing a could’ve, should’ve, might’ve blog post of your own!