Book Promotion, Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, writing, Writing Business

The Struggles Of Promoting & Publishing Erotica

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Pic via Pixabay

Ask any author who writes erotica and they will tell you that publishing and promoting can be tricky these days.  Case in point, on December 3rd, Tumblr, announced they would no longer allow pornographic content after several reports of child pornography on their site, which caused them to be banned from the Apple app store. In response, Tumblr banned pornography and during their announcement, they said they would only allow certain forms of adult content such as erotica stories. However, as Tumblr deployed their new anti-porn bots, several innocent people got caught up in the net when their content was incorrectly labeled pornography.  If that weren’t enough, Youtube, has also long been accused of restricting LGBT vlogs and even demonetizing them.  So it’s reasonable to assume that anything with sexual content can be banned on social media.  If you write and publish erotica, or even steamy romance, this can be troubling not to mention, annoying as hell.

Unfortunately this isn’t anything new, most authors in these genres will tell you stories of petty people who report their content and even try to get them banned from sites.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes in our Facebook group when a religious author, let’s call her Petty LaBelle, for anonymity purposes (I don’t want her reporting me after all!).  Anyway, Petty LaBelle kept reporting this erotic author’s posts whenever she saw them in our group.  P.S. I was the admin, so every week for about a month, I would see this lady’s report in my inbox.  In the ten years of this page’s existence we never had an issue like this before.  To make a long story short, we reached out to the author of the erotic novel and apologized then, later featured him on our podcast.  It was also explained to Petty LaBelle, that erotica was allowed on the page and she needed to chill out with all the snitching.

Why Is Social Media Clamping Down On Adult Content?

For those of you who have been living under a rock, this past year has been pretty tough for social media.  From data breaches, hackings and scandals, none of the major social media sites have gone unscathed from the criticism of consumer groups and even world governments.  In fact, sites like Twitter and Instagram, are scrambling to clean up their platforms due to a law that passed in the U.S. called FOSTA/SESTA, which is a law that is intended to curb online sex trafficking by punishing websites who foster or are found complicit in sex trafficking.  This law has sent social media and most of the internet in a tizzy.  It also explains why some social media sites have gone to extremes and are now banning accounts as well as any posts that have adult content and not necessarily, those that are violating any sex trafficking laws.

How Do You Stay On The Right Side Of Social Media?

The most obvious way of staying in the good graces of any social media site is to not violate their community guidelines or terms of service.  If you are actively promoting erotica novels or adult products you might was to reacquaint yourself with the rules because they have most likely changed in the past few months.  Here are the community guidelines for the top social media sites:

Tip: It would be extremely helpful if all authors would learn about marketing on their chosen social media site.  Many of the major sites offer free courses that help guide you through the process from advertising to promoting, I blogged about it last year in a post called: Why Authors Need To Learn Social Media: The New Reality there, I list a lot of free resources.

Remember The Time Amazon Was Caught Deranking Erotica?

Last spring, several authors woke up to find that their books had been delisted or recategorized courtesy of Amazon.  Many of these authors were romance and erotica authors who were stunned by the sudden and quiet reshuffling of their books.  Authors claimed that their books were relegated to a separate list away from the rest of the population regardless of how well the book was selling.  Amazon however, claims mistakes were made and rectified it but it goes to show you how erotica is being treated these days.

Is There A Safe Place For Erotica Writers To Promote Their Work?

There are safe areas online for authors to promote their erotic literature and steamy romances without being harassed.  There are newsletters and blogs that still welcome erotica authors with open arms.  The best tip to finding these communities is to find an erotica author that you like and stalk them online.  Research where they’re being interviewed or where their books are being reviewed and hit those places up.  Below, I’ve compiled a small list of places where erotica authors and their books are welcomed:

Passionate Ink

Passionate Ink is a chapter of the Romance Writers of America, and they have a newsletter as well as a website you can check out that’s free but if you want to take workshops and go to conferences, you’ll have to pay membership dues of $35/yr.

Harelquin Junkie

A romance site that welcomes erotica and reviews books, holds live chats, and even offers guest posts as well as author features.  They have a thriving community of book worms that love to speak their minds, so it’s worth giving them a look.

The Erotic Book Review

This site offers reviews, features as well as articles on relationships and sex.

Under The Covers Book Blog

Under The Covers Book Blog offers traditional book reviews as well as author features, release calendars (where they announce publication of a given book), and Youtube book hauls for their readers.

All of the sites I mentioned also offer advertising which leads me to my next point…

Where To Advertise Erotica?

Fortunately for erotica authors there are still plenty of places that will accept their money below, I list just a few of the major discount book newsletters:

Have A Seat, I’m About To Preach

I’ve said this several times on this blog, but I’ll say it again: You have to find book bloggers, influencers as well as book communities and support them.  If someone takes the time to review your book or send you a kind word, you need to remember those people and help them out when you can.  Offer to reciprocate any favors and most importantly, keep these people in your network.  You don’t need social media or Amazon for that!  As time goes on, promotion won’t feel like such a chore and you won’t have to keep starting over with each book launch.  Anyway, I hope I this post helps a few of you out there that are overwhelmed by all the drama that the internet is giving you.  If you know of any tips that could help authors who publish and promote erotica, let us know in the comments section.

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Advertising, Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Writing Business

The Future Of Self-Publishing 2019: Figuring Out The Next Move

Pic via Pixabay

Last year I made several predictions about the publishing industry and some of it came true.  So this year, I decided to put my psychic powers, okay, my powers of deduction to the test yet again and look into the future.   

Social Media Will Continue To Lose Users… Oops, I Mean Pivot

In September of 2018 Facebook reported a 7% loss in content consumption across their platforms; Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.  The flagship company itself, saw a 20% decline in consumption per person.  This could be due to the data and hacking scandals but nonetheless, sites like Facebook still boast over one billion daily users per day.  Even with the drop in content consumption, Facebook is still a powerhouse on the internet.  This means we have to be more thoughtful about what we post and why we’re posting it.  If you want to spend your time wisely on social media you need to make networking your number one priority and posting content your second.

Social Media Ads Will Get More Expensive

If you haven’t noticed, there is a fight for cheap advertising pretty much everywhere online.  Advertisers are now in a bidding war for key words just like in the early 2000s with Google Ads.  This time the fight is taking place on Facebook, which means ads will become more expensive if history is any indicator.

Voice Marketing Will Be A New Avenue For Authors

Everyone has heard of voice assistant technology like Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant which have revolutionized homes all over the world.  These “smart speakers” can search the internet, control light bulbs and even adjust a house’s thermostat simply through verbal command.  Amazon alone sold over 50 million Echo systems and it’s predicted that 55% of adults will have some sort of smart speaker by 2022.  Advertisers have been watching closely and are creating ads and chatbots specifically for voice.  I know what you’re thinking, aren’t those called radio ads?  No, not quite, unlike static ads on the radio where a company speaks to a customer, these ads can not only speak but respond to customers.  I see publishers and indie authors using these ads to read excerpts and answer questions about characters and upselling them on other books or possibly getting readers to signup for mailing lists.  It’s not unrealistic to assume that indie authors will be adding this technology to their marketing toolbox very soon.

Influencers Will Continue To Be Vital In Marketing

As I explained in my previous post, Bookube For Indie Authors, both Gen Y and Z consider Youtubers just as relevant as stars like Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner.  In fact, the top Youtubers, podcasters and bloggers are making more money than some television stars.  If you can reach out to an influencer, and get them to help you with promotion, it could help with book sales.

Defending Intellectual Property Is Going To Be A Real Concern For Authors

Over the past few years author and blogger, Kristine Kaythryn Rusch has sounded the alarm about publishing contracts.  That’s because things have dramatically changed in the publishing industry with contracts being the most important of them all.  Listing example after example, she presented how authors are foolishly signing away their entire copyright for paltry sums of money.  This should be unacceptable to a professional author but there are still those who refuse to educate themselves about the publishing industry.  

Even indie authors must be careful because book publishers aren’t the only ones looking to take your copyright, literary agents, television producers, media companies and even the movie industry would love nothing more than to get their hands on cheap intellectual property.  In fact, IP is considered a big thing in business and some companies are hoarding as much of it as they can like stocks, in hopes it will gain value in the future.

Amazon Will Lose Its Grip On Retail

According to an article in CNBC, Amazon’s Founder Jeff Bezos was asked during an employee meeting about the future of Amazon to which Mr. Bezos responded, “Amazon is not too big to fail. In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.”  He also urged employees to stay hungry and obsess about their customers.  It was a sobering statement made by a CEO whose company is being accused of antitrust activities by the European Union and has even had their Japanese office raided by law enforcement last spring.  Also, U.S. President Trump has voiced his concerns about Amazon.

Nevertheless, it would be a smart move for authors to stay current with the retail world considering we do sell our books through stores whether they are online or brick and mortar.  It’s no secret that old box stores like Sears, Barnes & Noble and J.C. Penny are in big trouble and are either looking for a buyer or are filing for bankruptcy.  Now before you mourn the good ol days, just know there will be others waiting in the wings.  For example, there is a retail app called Wish, that most people haven’t even heard of yet which is now worth more than Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penny’s combined.  No, I’m not telling you to sign up for Wish, I’m telling you that even though it seems like stores are being crushed, others are quickly rising to take their place.  This is actually a good thing, it means that the industry isn’t dead, it’s just changing.

Wrapping It Up…

It seems there is a recurring theme this past year and that was change, and depending on how you look at it that can be either a good or a bad thing.  I’m not the type of person to BS you and tell you that there aren’t challenges ahead.  Trust me, there are!  But there are also opportunities ahead, and believe it or not, our industry is thriving.  So go out there and conquer the publishing world but save a little for the rest of us. Oh yeah, and happy 2019!

apps, writing

Editing Software For Authors: The Good, The Bad & The Meh!

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Image via Pixabay

Not long ago, a writer friend talked about having to quit publishing because she could no longer afford to hire editors.  I thought that was sad and asked if she had tried editing software?  She scoffed at the idea of using a machine to replace a flesh and blood human being.  I explained that she wasn’t replacing anyone, editing software can help cut the costs of the editing process.  These days most software can help with things like punctuation, typos and repetition.  I don’t know if she’s going to take the advice but in case she doesn’t, I’m spilling the beans here about the best software for writers.

Before I go on, I have to give the disclaimer that I am in no way affiliated or sponsored by any of the products or services mentioned in this post.

Grammarly

Grammarly is by far the most well-known editing software out there.  It’s free for the basic service, and you can add their app either to your browser, or on your desktop.  You only have to opt in with your email for the basic service however, their premium service will run you between $29.95 per month to $139.95 for a yearly subscription.

Analysis: Grammarly is easy to use and guides you through the process, by asking you important questions like the purpose of your work and when I uploaded my content, I was impressed by the analysis; it noticed commas that were out of place and offered suggestions for stronger adverbs.

Hemingway

The Hemingway app is similar to Grammarly and can also be downloaded for your desktop.  The cost for the desktop app is $19.99. You can also go to the website and copy and paste your work into the editor for free.  There is no opt in as with Grammarly, so it’s better for people who are concerned about privacy.

Analysis: Hemingway made more suggestions than Grammarly and even pointed out sentences that were difficult to read.  This is ideal for an author writing to young adults and children.

Typely

Typely is a 100% free editor but unlike Grammarly and Hemingway, it has a limit of 50,000 words.  Also Typely doesn’t focus on grammar and instead focuses on usage such as redundancy and misspellings.

Analysis: I was disappointed by this software, it only pointed out the double spaces after sentences and offered on a suggestion for a redundant adverb.  Yes it may be free but it’s not the best, not by a long shot.

Slick Write

Slick Write is 100% free but you can donate or at the very least, turn off your ad blocker so they can make a little money.  Their software evaluates content based on flow,  and statistics and can even help you with writer’s block with their association feature.

Analysis: It was simple and easy to use, but much better than Typely for a free editor. It gave many suggestions for stronger adverbs and pointed out the redundant verbiage in my work.

Pro Writing Aid

Pro Writing Aid was editing software that I discovered while researching Grammarly.  Their limitations are the most restrictive of all, only allowing 500 words at a time in their free version of the product.  They also cost the most around $50 for a year subscription to their premium service and $285 for a lifetime subscription to their premium+ service.

Analysis: Pro Writing Aid’s free service offered an easy experience and was the most comprehensive of most of the software I tested.  If I were going to put money down on any sort of editing software, this would be it.

Ginger

Has software that can be added to Word or can be uploaded to your browser.  You can use it to listen to your work and also translate from other languages.  However, it does have an annoying feature where it suggests alternative sentences if it finds yours incorrect or too wordy.  Also, its logo is also very similar to Grammarly’s, which can be confusing if you have them both downloaded on your computer like I did.

Analysis: It was easy to install and use, but found its sentence correcting annoying as I was writing.  Also where Grammarly was asking me to take out redundant commas, Ginger was actually telling me to put them back in.  Interesting, eh?  This seems to be a software for non native English speakers because it focuses heavily on sentence structure as well as punctuation.  Not bad, but not exactly what I need either.

*On the flip-side* This software was difficult to uninstall  from my desktop since it was an add-on to Microsoft Word.  Using the traditional uninstall features in Windows wasn’t enough.  I had to go in and find where the software had rooted itself and delete the contents of the Word template folder.  This alone, downgrades the app in my opinion.  No software should be that complicated to uninstall.

Editors That I Wanted To Test But Couldn’t

  • White Smoke (no free trial)
  • Language Tool (no free trial)
  • Smart Edit (Need 2016 version of Word)
  • Ulysses (For Mac Users Only)

The Verdict:

I really didn’t like Typely so I’m not recommending it for authors, if you have a teenager who is writing an essay, then Typely might help them.

Here are my choices in order:

  1. Pro Writing Aid
  2. Grammarly
  3. Hemingway
  4. Ginger

A Final Word

Now before you kick your editor to the curb remember, nothing can replace the human touch.  There is a reason why editors are so heavily used in the publishing industry, it’s because good editors offer real value to a writing project.  They can see what most writers can’t and can tell you if a story is going off the rails whereas a machine simply cannot.  If you want to clean up a manuscript so that you don’t have pay for so much editing, this is a legitimate route to go.  It saves a little money and helps writers see where their basic weaknesses are.

So there you have it, if you know of any other editing software that is useful for authors, please let me know in the comment section.

 

Advertising, Book Promotion, Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing

Advertising Options For Self-Published Books

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Recently, a friend of mine asked me where was the best place to advertise her book?  At first I had no answer, sure I had written a blog post years ago called, ‘Cheap Advertising For Indie Authors’ but that was outdated.  And to be honest, most of the places I once advertised at are now defunct like, Pixel of Ink, whereas places like Fussy Librarian, have changed their rules because of what has been dubbed, The Amazon Purge.  We all know about BookBub, but not everybody can afford that, so where are the best places to advertise now?  I decided to go on a mission and find out.

Before I go on, I have to give the obvious disclaimer:  Advertising of any kind isn’t going to guarantee book sales.  In fact, I met an author whose book sales went down while doing a BookBub ad, imagine that!  Also, I am not affiliated with any of the sites or services mentioned.

Trends In Book Advertising: Social Media & Amazon Ads

Thriller writer Mark Dawson, started a Facebook advertising course that was very popular among indie authors looking for a cheaper alternative to BookBub.  However, not all authors saw success, for example, YA and children’s authors didn’t seem to get the results that romance authors do.

Then a year later, Amazon ads became hot and this made more sense.  Instead of luring people to Amazon from Facebook, why not advertise to people already on Amazon?  Chances are they’re at Amazon to buy something so why not entice them with a book?  Indie author Brian Meeks, created a course on Teachable for those looking to master Amazon ads, it has a $500 price tag but if you can’t afford that, he also has a book available on Amazon for $9.99 here.

If you’re not sure which one you want to try, Amazon has weekly free webinars for beginners and Facebook has courses that are also, 100% free. Also, Dave Chesson, of Kindlepreneur has a free course on Amazon ads.

The Obvious Problem:

The biggest barrier for most authors is the learning curve, it requires authors to study copywriting, keywords and graphic design.  Not all authors are capable or willing to learn these things.  Many indie authors work 9 to 5 jobs or have personal obligations and this is just another hurdle in the publishing world.  That’s where discount newsletters like BookBub become a Godsend.  You just give them the money, and they handle the rest but as I said previously, not everyone can afford it.

Alternatives To BookBub: Those ‘Other’ Discount Book Sites

Believe it or not, BookBub is not the only discount newsletter geared towards readers.  There are others and though, many of them don’t have the reach of BookBub (which has 3.4 million subscribers in crime fiction alone) they are cheaper and some of them reach hundreds of thousands of readers.  Like BookBub, many of them charge according to the popularity of the genre as well as the type of ad such Deal of the Day type of ad or a simple slot in the newsletter.

Below I only listed those that feature book sales and not freebies sites:

  • Kindle Books & Tips: Reaches 600,000 people on their two apps and 150,000 on their email list, social media and blog, they cost around $25 – $125.

 

  • Book Gorilla: Reaches 350,000 followers over a range of platform such as apps, social media as well as email and costs around $40 – $50.

 

 

  • Ereader News Today: Has 200,000 subscribers as well as 500,000 Facebook followers and costs around $40 – $150.

 

  • Robin Reads: They have around 194,000 members and cost around $45 – $85.

 

 

  • Bargain Booksy: Reaches 150,000 people through all their channels and costs around $40 – $200.

 

  • Book Sends: Has 120,000 subscribers and costs around $20 – $125.

 

 

  • Read Cheaply: Has 70,000 engaged newsletter subscribers over 23 genres.

 

  • EreaderIQ: Has around 47,000 email subscribers and cost around $10 – $40.

 

  • Book Barbarian: Has 54,000 hardcore sci-fi & fantasy subscribers to their daily newsletter as well as 19,000 Facebook fans and costs around  $30 – $50.

 

  • Book Runes: Has 30,000 active readers and costs $25, they also do combo promos with Booksends.

 

  • EbookSoda: Has 22,000 subscribers and 40,000 Twitter as well as 12,000 Facebook followers.  Their prices range from $9 – $20.

 

A Tip For A Stress Free Experience

The first thing I would recommend an author do before putting down any money is to read the rules of these sites carefully.  Several of them have requirements regarding; reviews, covers, and pricing.  Also, some of them offer refunds while others do not, so author beware.  The author I mentioned earlier, said he got a partial refund from BookBub but isn’t allowed to discuss the details.  Go figure.

Now there you have it, updated advertising options, if you know of any more sites that I  should check out, please let me know in the comment section.

 

Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing

Blockchain: Will It Change The Publishing Industry As We Know It?

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Recently, I read the whitepaper by The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) called, Authors & The Blockchain: Towards A Creator Centered Business Model which was published this past spring.  The report was an eye opener in regards to the potential of this latest technology that could change how we do business in almost every sector of the market from finance to yes, even publishing.  In fact, they refer to blockchain publishing as publishing 3.0 in this report.  Now before I move on, I know what a lot of you are asking: Rachel, what the heck is blockchain?  In short, it’s a digitalized and decentralized public ledger that records transactions made in cryptocurrency.  And for those of you not sure what cryptocurrency is, it’s basically digital currency that is encrypted and not issued by a bank.  This makes the currency more secure and cheaper to make transactions.  Blockchain is the software that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin were developed on.  I encourage you to read the whitepaper that ALLi published and if you’re still confused about blockchain’s definition, check out this Youtube video created by Simply Explained.

Blockchain either excites or frightens business owners as well as governments with the promise of eliminating middle men as well as making business deals 100% transparent.  Experts believe that in the next few years, blockchain will revolutionize every aspect of the economy.  In fact Goldman Sachs, as well as JPMorgan Chase, have invested heavily in the new technology.  So far only two companies called, Publica and Po.et have launched with the premise of independent publishing via blockchain.  I’m sure there will be more on the way as this technology evolves.

 

The Problems That Could Be Solved With Blockchain

Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, predicts blockchain will be the next big thing and offers a warning, “It’s gonna eliminate all your margins…When you make money by being in the middle and the internet and blockchain come along and they’re actually the middle, you’re in trouble.”  In other words, those who don’t provide value (literary agents) will lose in this new business dynamic.  This benefits traditional authors because they get a 15 – 20% pay increase just from this one elimination alone.  Here are more problems blockchain could potentially help all authors with:

  • Copyright Disputes: Products (manuscripts) are time stamped.
  • Piracy: Manuscripts are encrypted, so you can’t strip the DRM from the file.
  • Sales Reporting: Once a transaction takes place the entire ledger is updated almost in real time.
  • Late Payments: Payments are almost instant on blockchain because everyone was preapproved via cryptocurrency.

The Problems That Could Be Created By Blockchain

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t address the downside to this new technology, and some of it includes:

  • Privacy Issues: The ledger is public and unchangeable so there is no real anonymity.
  • Mistakes: Even the fastest and smartest computers make errors.
  • Consumer Reluctance: There’s no telling if consumers (readers) will follow authors from retailers like Amazon.  Also, there are several prominent voices within the financial sector calling cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, a scam.
  • New Overlords: Though there is hope that this will democratize the industry, there’s also danger in that new companies will monopolize this technology.

The Unknown Variable: The Publishing Industry Itself

Does this mean the traditional publishers will get onboard with this new technology?  Based on their response to the Kindle revolution in 2007, I doubt this will be implemented with any sort of speed.  In fact, I see them kicking and screaming into this new way of doing business.  It will most likely be the indie authors who yet again, load up their wagons and head off into this unknown frontier.  The publishing industry may be interested in the money saving aspect of it, but I doubt they’ll know how to execute.  Let’s be frank, many of them didn’t even know what metadata was a few years ago.

Blockchain has the potential to make things like fraud a thing of the past, and since the the publishing industry is rife with fraud I can see most authors welcoming this new transparency.   For example, in May of 2018, it was revealed that a bookkeeper at a prestigious literary agency had stolen seven million dollars from the agency.  This person had been stealing for years and apparently no one at the agency was paying any attention.  *Cue eye roll*  Also let’s not forget three years ago, when I talked about the case of Harper Lee, whose agent went to her nursing home and got Lee to sign over the copyright to the literary classic: To Kill a Mocking Bird.  So fraud and theft runs deep in the publishing industry and it will only get worse as intellectual properties become more and more valuable.  Blockchain won’t stop people from being shady but it will pull back the curtain and that’s what a lot of publishers and agents don’t want.

However, I believe it will be indie authors who will benefit the most from this technology because blockchain not only offers to make deals more secure but quicker.   The more and more I look at it, blockchain is a positive move for the publishing industry all around, but the question still remains, will we be able to execute?

writing

Content Creation For Indie Authors: Answering The Question: What Do I Say?

 

Content Creation For Indie Authors
Image via Pixabay

When it comes to book marketing many authors approach the subject with dread.  They just don’t know where to start and I understand, it’s hard to write books and be a marketer.  Effective marketing requires not only grabbing a reader’s attention but keeping it as well.  I broached this subject last year in my post:  How to Communicate with Readers but today, I hope to go more in depth.

Despite what you may think, you don’t have to put yourself on display like a celebrity in order to maintain a following.  You don’t have to post selfies, or pet photos to keep your readers engaged on social media. You also don’t have to divulge deep, dark secrets with your email subscribers.  In this post I want to present some old school methods used by publishers as well as newer techniques which hopefully, will give you ideas on how to keep your readers engaged through smarter marketing.  Hopefully, you will find ideas for your social media posts, or email newsletters.   Now keep in mind, some of these techniques are free while others are not.

So let’s get started…

Idea #1: Make a Game

Did you know that you can create games and puzzles for your readers based on your book?  There are several websites that allow you to make games like; crossword puzzles, word scramble, jigsaw puzzles, and even sudoku.  You could even create a crossword puzzle for a contest, and announce the winner within the puzzle!  Your imagination is the only limit here.  If you’re interested, here is a list of websites to check out:

I personally created a crossword puzzle for this post on ProProfs Brain Games, just click on the image to check it out:

Crossword Puzzle For WBTSOMP

 

Idea #2: Create an Infographic

A few years ago, infographics were all the rage and were used primarily to convey complex ideas in a visual format.  But over the years, I’ve seen books broken down into infographics such as Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and even Harry Potter.  You can even make a funny character chart for readers, it all depends on you.

Course Hero InfographicImage via Course Hero

Here are a few free sites that allow you to create infographics:

Idea #3: Do A Top Ten List

If you’re a romance novelist, you could create a list of the hottest lead characters in the Regency period and encourage readers to contribute.  If you’re writing a historical, that takes place during the Civil War, you can create a list of the biggest battles fought during that war and casually mention that your book takes place during one of those battles.

Idea #4: Do Character Interviews

Since time beyond remembering, the publishing industry always has liked to insert author interviews at the back of a book.  However, if you don’t feel comfortable being interviewed, use one of your characters to do all the talking.

Idea #5: Make A Meme

Memes have become a part of social media for years and you could easily use one to promote your book.  Here’s one I created years ago with the help of a friend and author Karen Vaughan.

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If you’re interested, here are a few places to check out:

Wrapping it Up:

Well I hope this gives you a few ideas when it comes to content creation as well as book marketing.  I also hope that you learned a few things, as in why it’s so important to make marketing fun.  You know the saying, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” The same goes for marketing, if it’s not fun for you, it’s probably not gonna be all that fun for your readers either.

Marketing, Networking, Social Media

The New Rules For Social Media: The No BS Guide

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It’s no secret that social media has gotten tough for authors with many reporting dismal reach and even worse engagement rates.  This past year, the biggest social media site Facebook, announced they would show less content from business pages and favor community groups.  This was a huge blow to authors with business pages.  So what is an author to do?  Believe it or not, there are still ways to reach your audience without having to pay a site to promote your posts.  However, it will require time and effort on your part, so if you’re willing to put in the work, you can maintain your connection to your followers.

Old Tricks On A New Day

The problem that I often see on social media is that many authors are still following rules that don’t work anymore.  The hacks, tips and tricks that were supposed to help you game the system years ago may actually be hurting you now.  Below, I put together a list of just a few tricks that just don’t work anymore:

Trick #1: Posting Frequently

Several years back when I created my author page on Facebook, the marketing gurus told people to post frequently and that worked, for a while.  But social media users complained when spammers and the power users began overtaking their feeds so algorithms were given the task of prioritizing content.  This meant that it didn’t matter if you posted 5 or 500 times per day, it would all be ignored if your content wasn’t relevant to your followers. In fact sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have a limit on how much activity an account can have before it’s flagged as suspicious.  This means you can be locked out of your account for 24 hrs or even have it suspended indefinitely.

Trick #2: Like Groups & Events

On Chris Syme’s podcast: Smarty Pants, her guest, author Shawn Inmon, talked about the regret he had about holding “like events” where he would invite other people to like his Facebook page.  He described those likes as, “An anchor around your neck,” because those people who liked his page, did so, and never returned.  You see having a large following but no interaction is pointless on a site like Facebook.  The same goes for Twitter and Instagram.  As you can imagine, when your followers far exceed your engagement, the algorithms assume your posts aren’t of a good quality and so your content gets less priority.

As if that weren’t enough, this past May, it was reported that Facebook shutdown several large Instagram groups, who were artificially inflating the popularity of certain posts, violating the company’s terms of service.  I believe things like this will continue as Facebook desperately tries to clean house after their recent data scandals.

Trick #3: Blindly Following & Unfollowing

I still hear this one being repeated as a sure fire way to get a large following.  In fact, there are services that deploy bots which follow and unfollow people en masse to help their clients build up their social media following.  As you can imagine this type of technique was abused by shady marketers and now, algorithms are programmed to detect this sort of thing.  So if you’re following and unfollowing more than 40 – 50 people per day, it’s possible that you can trigger the algorithms and get locked out of your account for suspicious behavior.

Trick #4: Posting & Running

Most authors are guilty of this and I am no exception, it’s the set it and forget it technique where you use a scheduling app to post on your behalf.  However, algorithms these days monitor what people respond to and if nobody is responding to your content then your scheduling is in vain.  Today, authors must show up and engage their followers so leave the scheduling for important things like announcing publication dates, sales or public appearances.

Trick #4: Using Quotes

For years authors have been urged to create quotes on stunning backgrounds to get attention.  However, that too has become blasé, in fact, it’s actually become a meme on social media:

-Very Famous Person (2)

 

Visual posts do garner the attention of people but take quotes from your own books.  Trust me, famous people don’t need our help to promote them on social media.

Trick #5: Clickbait Headlines

For those of you who don’t know what clickbait is, it’s basically a headline such as: “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!!” which is a ploy designed to get people off of one site and onto a less secure one.  Clickbait is a popular technique used by criminals and shady marketers which is why sites like Facebook and Twitter now have rules against it.

Things That Still Work…For Now

Okay, so now that you know what doesn’t work, I’ll explain what does.  Surprisingly, it’s not all that complicated but it does require a bit of your time and effort.  Below, I have just a few tips to help you to remain visible to your followers:

Tip #1: Creating a Community Group 

Groups are nothing new to social media, you can create them on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.  As of this date, none of the social media sites have tried to monetize groups—yet!  This means the members of your group will see ALL of your posts.

Now I know what you’re wondering, how can you build a group on a site like Twitter? Well that’s simple, you can create your own hashtag around an important topic and build a group that way.  If you want to take it a step further, you can even register your own hashtag with a service like Hashtag.org.  It won’t mean that you own it or can prevent others from using it but it will mean that your account will be linked to the hashtag.  So when people look for it in the search engine, your account will pop up at the top of the results.  Neat, huh?

Tip #2: Networking

Okay, I’ve said this before but I’m saying it again, you’re not on social media only to promote yourself.  You’re there to establish relationships with your readers as well as book reviewers, influencers and authors in your genre.  If you’re doing those things you are one step ahead of 80% of your peers who just auto post.

When I say go out there and socialize, I mean go out and find where the book and writing conversations are and contribute to the discussion.  I know authors who set goals of commenting on at least 50 discussions when trying to grow their following or boost their engagement.  Most of the time it works for them plus, it doesn’t cost any money.  I talked about this in my post: How to Approach & Pitch Influencers several years ago, you might want to give it a look.

Tip #3: Videos

In the past year or so, all the major sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have begun favoring video content.  They seem to be trying to amass as much video as possible in order to keep users on their site instead of Youtube, or Snapchat.  Now, I know what you’re saying, “I don’t have the money or skills to create a video!“.  That’s where you’re wrong.  You may not be able to deliver Steven Spielberg work but you can do a basic video where you stream together pictures and add a little text or music like a slideshow.

Most authors can create basic videos using software that’s probably already installed on your computer like Windows 10 Photos, or iMovie.  You can even create a basic video on your smartphone with software like Magisto and iMotion.

Tip #4: Live Streaming

Live streaming began in social media with the launch of Periscope, a video app which was acquired by Twitter in 2015.  Since then, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram all have their own version of live streaming.  It’s still relatively new so it’s given more weight by the algorithms.  If you want to see indie authors who have used this feature well check out Mark Dawson and Toby Neal.

In Closing

As you may have noticed, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are designing their algorithms to keep users on their sites for a longer period of time.  Gone are the days where you could put your social media accounts on autopilot and not log in for days.  Today, you need to show up and interact with actual human beings.  If you don’t, you stand the risk of becoming invisible to your followers.  This is the new reality of social media and if you’re not into the whole community aspect of things, then you might have to pony up with some cash in order to stay on minds of your followers.

Now I’m handing the mic to you, are there any social media tips that you find don’t work anymore?  Tell us in the comments section.