Book Promotion, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media, Writing Business

How To Handle Online Trolling & Harassment: Author Edition Part 2

Image by StockSnaps via Pixabay

Yesterday, I discussed reputation monitoring but today, I’m moving on to reputation management.  In this post, I’ll give you the tools to go on the offense if you find you’re being target by an individual or group looking to harm your business.  This post goes a little beyond social media and deals with general online harassment but I still believe it’s something authors need to know.  I hope these posts will empower you to take control of your online image and grow your publishing business with confidence.  

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with the products and services mentioned in this post.

Reputation Management

Did you know that there is an entire industry built around managing online reputations?  There are quite a few services that work with individuals to help them either deal with a crisis or monitor the internet for any negative press.

Unlike reputation monitoring, a reputation management service influences and controls a person’s or business’ public identity.  They scan the internet using special software or just use Google, then start a campaign against anything that can be considered damaging to their clients.  For example, actor Charlie Sheen, allegedly paid a fixer (A PR manager who specializes in crisis management), to scour the internet for anything that pertained to him having HIV years before his public confession in 2015.  Later on I’ll discuss some services that can help you with an online crisis but right now let’s explore the dark side of the internet.             

Worst Case Scenario: You’re Being Attacked

Okay, let’s pretend that someone is actively campaigning to make your life hell, what can you do about it?  Well let’s figure out how bad things on the internet can get first:   

#1: Doxxing (Info Dumping)

This includes publically announcing anything such as bank account, social security (e.g. national identity numbers), and credit card numbers.  If you find that your personal information is being shared online there are ways to get it taken down by contacting the owner of a given site and request they remove the info.  If your info is dumped on social media you can report the post or contact the site directly and request it be removed. Most will comply since they don’t want to face any lawsuits nor do they want their website’s rank to be demoted in the search engines.  If this is a website and there is no contact information you may have to resort to contacting the hosting company of the website.  You do that by Googling the words: WHOIS and the website’s URL.  If you can’t find the name of the owner, you will most likely find the host company.  Feel free to shoot off an email to them requesting the removal of the content.

Now let’s say you’ve completed these steps and the information is still appearing in search results, even days after the content was taken down.  Did you know you can request that companies such as Google and Bing take it down from their search engine?  Below is a list on where to find that information:  

*More Useful Tips*

Information like your address, phone number, and names of your family members are freely available online on sites such as; FamilyTreeNow.com as well as Spokeo and the search engines like Google and Bing can do very little about that.  Data is a big business and many times it’s being scraped by various corporations you’re doing business with such as credit card companies, social media sites, and retailers so it’s nearly impossible to remove those things completely from the internet.  If you really want to find out how much of your data is floating around in cyberspace just Google your name as well as your city then see what pops up.  Fortunately, most sites allow you to request the removal of information but you do have to contact them directly or fill out forms. 

If you don’t want to spend time doing all that, there are services like DeleteMe, and OneRep that will go to these sites and fill out all the paperwork for you, however, they do charge a fee.  Also, keep in mind, they can’t rid the internet 100% of your data.  

Now that’s just the tip of the iceberg once your information is out there, you are at risk of identity theft.  There are companies that will monitor your social security number and monitor your credit line for a fee such as LifeLock or IdentityForce and they will even provide you with legal consultation if your personal information is ever compromised. 

 

#2:  Harassment

Harassment can include such things as ordering 100 pizzas in your name and sending it to your house or someone making insulting or inappropriate comments.  However, that’s small stuff, because cyberstalking is considered the most serious form of online harassment and it includes someone who is always making contact with you even despite your protest.  That means making comments on your social media posts even after you’ve blocked them.  (Lots of stalkers just create another account and proceed with their harassment.)  Stalking is considered serious because the harassment can wind up offline.  Case in point, several years ago, there was an author that admitted to stalking a book reviewer who gave an unfavorable review on Goodreads.

Important Tip: If you find online harassment going offline, you must document it and take that evidence and contact your local law enforcement in order to file a report.         

#3:  Reputation Damage

There have been many cases of people being defamed online and if someone is campaigning online to damage your reputation you may need to go on the offense and start countering the damage.  You can use the internet the same way a troll does by drowning out their content with your own by doing interviews on blogs, podcasts and even do guest posts for major websites.  Sounds an awful lot like marketing, doesn’t it?  Anyway, this won’t cost you any money but it does cost time.  However, if you are too busy and don’t have time, you can hire a service to do this for you.  Like celebrities, you can hire a firm to wage war against the reputation damage.  It’s costly, which is why many people don’t bother with it but if you’re determined to fight, there are services like ReputationDefender and BrandYourself that will help by posting positive articles and even build websites that will help you reclaim your reputation online.    

#4:  Hacking Websites, Social Media & Email Accounts

It’s not rare to hear of a celebrity’s phone or social media accounts being hacked.  Most of the time these types of hackings include posting gibberish or pornographic material to the victim’s account, it’s rarely personal.  In fact, the terrorist organization ISIS (ISOL) was targeted in 2016, by the hacker group Anonymous, who posted gay pride images on the terrorists’ Twitter accounts.  They (Anonymous) are also engaging in information doxxing by collecting financial records of terror groups and giving them to various governments around the world.  This is a clear example that no one is safe from hacking not even terrorists.        

So how do you protect yourself from a hacker?  Well having a strong password is a start, which means a password that includes numbers, symbols as well as upper and lowercase letters.  For example, it’s a bad idea to use your initials and address because that’s too obvious, that information can be found online as I said before.  However, something like your nickname, plus your kid’s school bus number, and a random symbol make for a pretty strong password.  Even short phrases like: ItIsWhatItIs2019$ is stronger than your pet’s name and address.    

Also, don’t forget to change your passwords often because when you’re under attack, security should be your first priority.

A Balanced View

I hope this post empowered you to pursue social media without fear, after all, there are over 3 billion people using social media worldwide. This is expected to grow as the internet becomes globally accessible.  And as more people use social media, the drama will become more common but we authors don’t have to be sucked into the dysfunction. We can handle ourselves with confidence even when the waters of social media are churning all around us.  I hope you never have to use any of this advice or experience any of the scenarios I discussed but if you do, you now have the tools to fight back and take control of your online reputation.      

 

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Book Promotion, Marketing, Social Media, Writing Business

How To Handle Online Trolling & Harassment: Author Edition

Image by Geralt via Pixabay

This post is based on a chapter in my latest book: Social Media Hacks: What The Other Authors Already Know. I plan on discussing this book and more with author Marsha Casper Cook, on her podcast: Michigan Avenue Media – World of Ink, Tuesday, May 7th, at 4 p.m. (EST). Join us and learn the real deal about marketing books on social media.  

It’s a sad fact but according to a 2017 survey taken by the Pew Institute, 41% of U.S. adults claim to have been victims of online harassment. Respondents also said the most common forum for it to take place is on social media.  Case in point, in June of 2015, E.L. James, author of the bestselling novel 50 Shades of Grey, held a Twitter Q&A session where she received an avalanche of verbal abuse.  Surprisingly, several of the disparaging comments didn’t just come from random trolls but from those within the publishing industry!              

Though a few authors did come to James’ aid, it did little to slow down the insults and vitriol.  In fact, this Twitter Q&A was such a disaster that it made the news!  Media outlets such as; USA Today, Time Magazine and Us Magazine all covered the Twitter fiasco.        

So How Do You Prevent A Disaster Like This?

Sadly, there is no way to prevent trolling 100% but there are ways to be prepared in the event that anyone wants to hijack your online events.  One tip an author shared with me was to invite your family and friends to your online events just so that there is at least one friendly face in the crowd.  Also, an important fact to remember is that trolls generally attack in groups and responding to their comments just keeps the altercation going indefinitely.  That’s why you always hear the advice, “Don’t feed the trolls” all over the internet.  Now would this have helped in E.L. James’ case?  Probably not, but her situation was very different.  E.L. James is an international star as well as a controversial figure in the publishing industry.  This type of individual will always attract trolls.   

The Why Behind It All: The Psychology of a Troll

Most trolls are trolling because of their ego, while some trolls are part of a greater trolling community and are encouraged to do as much damage as possible.  Trolling can include anything from lies, insults, and even humiliation.          

Internet trolls were the focus of an article in Psychology Today where a Canadian study focused on profiling internet trolls.  It was discovered by scientists that people who troll are generally sadists that enjoyed making others suffer.  The study also implied that many trolls fell within the; Machiavellian, narcissist and psychopathic range.  So there’s a wide spectrum of trolls who lie, insult or actively try to do damage to random people they find on the internet.               

 

Who’s At Risk?

As I revealed earlier, 41% of U.S. internet users reported having experienced online harassment.  The main forms of harassment include things like; name-calling, intentional humiliation, stalking, and threats.  The biggest groups to experience online harassment are young people 18-29 years at 67%.  Men are more twice more likely to experience general harassment while 53% of young women (18 – 29) reported being sexually harassed.  Another interesting thing to note is that half of the participants of the survey claimed they didn’t even know the person harassing them.  So this isn’t personal, at least not for the troll.                   

What To Do If You’re In the Crosshairs     

If you are the target of trolling on social media there are several ways to deal with it.  For example Facebook, Instagram and Youtube allow you to moderate the comments of a post.  If someone is sending you direct messages privately, you can report those as well.  The good news is that almost all of the major social media sites allow you to block an individual completely so don’t be afraid to use any of these features if you need to.   

But what if you’re facing a more organized attack?  What if you have several people trying to get your social media accounts banned or taken down?  Like it or not, this is a popular method of trolling where multiple people will repeatedly report an account or page.  They’ll falsely report that a page or group is posting offensive material or is even linked to terrorism!  The most popular accounts on social media have had this issue at one point or another.  Sadly, it can take days or weeks to get the account back after an investigation.  If you find that the trolling is too intense, you may want to step back and set your account or page to private on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter until the smoke settles.           

Going on the Offense

If you’re truly afraid of stalking, and trolling the wisest thing to do is to pick a pen name.  Many online writers do it to protect their privacy as well as their egos from the insanity of the internet.  It creates a mental barrier from the praise as well as criticism that some authors find intrusive.     

To take things a step further, and remain anonymous to even agents and editors is to create a company and sell your intellectual properties (books) to publishers through it.  Some of the really crafty authors go further and hire a trust company then, put all their assets into the trust for further anonymity so that nothing can be traced, not even their copyright registration.                

Monitoring Your Reputation

Even if you manage to remain anonymous you are still responsible for maintaining your image especially, since you’re considered a brand.   There are a lot of tools available to you to monitor what’s being written about you online.  I don’t recommend it to people who are sensitive or highly anxious.  However, if you’re a masochist like me and are curious enough to brave the unknown you can gain insight into what readers really think about your work.      

Free Tools

To Respond or Not To Respond?

So what happens when you find something like a negative review or a scathing article?  Do you defend yourself or walk away?  Believe it or not, most situations don’t require a response.  If someone is just saying mean things then, it’s best to let it go.   However, if someone is spreading lies and making untrue allegations which is considered libel language or even slander under the law, then you may have to act.  That could mean anything from sending a cease and desist letter or even an email demanding corrections or retractions be made. Just remember to keep the tone professional and not whiny or childish.    

Now before you start writing emails to all your haters (reviewers) just remember that they are allowed to have their opinions about your book.  They are allowed to hate the book, heck, they’re even allowed to hate you!  Just because they don’t like your work that doesn’t make them tacky or stupid, it just means they don’t like your book.

Wrapping it Up   

Okay, I know that was a lot but tomorrow, I’m going further into this topic and give you tips on how to defend yourself from online abuse and harassment. Trust me, it’s not what you think, there are ways you can manage your online reputation like a pro and they don’t include you giving up all human interaction.   

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. This scandal caused Apple to ban Tumblr from their 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.

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 on numerous occasions.

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!

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.

 

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.

 

apps, Book Promotion, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media

Litsy: The Instagram Of Books?

 

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Last year I heard about a new social media app for bookworms called Litsy, from Writer’s Unboxed.  Then I heard about Litsy again on Publisher’s Weekly, who heralded it as the Instagram for books.  Needless to say, I ignored it, I really didn’t need to sign up to anymore social media sites.  Seriously, I have signed up and abandoned more social media sites than I care to count.  However, last month, I got an email announcing that Litsy had been purchased by LibraryThing.  Remember them?  They were the number three site for bookworms but they kind of fell off the map.  So why on earth would LibraryThing buy Litsy?  Perhaps they were going to merge platforms, Lord knows LibraryThing’s website is clunky and slow.  Plus, most companies buy others for either resources or in order to eliminate competition.  I’m assuming it’s the first and not the latter.  Anyway, I was intrigued and had to find out what was going on, so shamelessly, I signed up for yet another social media account.  *Sigh*

What Makes Litsy Different

Unlike Goodreads and LibraryThing, Litsy is a mobile app like Instagram and Snapchat but with books, of course.  What sets Litsy apart is their book recommendations based on real users rather than algorithms.  This can be a relief for those who are tired of algorithms and keyword based gate keeping.

Litsy is heavy on images and pretty easy to use, if you can figure out Instagram and Snapchat, Litsy will be a breeze.  Once you setup your account, you can choose to start posting reviews, pictures, quotes or even blurbs but be sure your text comes with a picture of some sort.  You can find free images to accompany your posts here:

 

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They don’t call it the Instagram of books for nothing!

 

Here Are A Few Tips: Don’t forget to upload a picture of your own book cover if it’s not in their database.  You can check that out by going to their search engine and typing either your author name or book title.

Also whatever you do, don’t forget to become a community member of your genre, that’s what social media is all about, so join a book club, or start one of your own.

What Do You Post?

Here is a list of things of ideas on what to post:

  • Share a short quote from your book
  • Upload pics of your book cover
  • Hold giveaways
  • Give a review on a book you enjoyed.
  • Ask a question or for a book recommendation

 

Problems Authors Might Have With Litsy

Litsy is new and therefore still finding it’s way in the online world, so authors are going to have to grow and evolve along side it.  This could be a dealbreaker for some who have come to expect certain sophistication and privileges with more mature social media sites.  Here are more cons:

  • The community size is much smaller compared to Goodreads
  • There is a limit of 300 characters per post
  • Members of the site sometimes refer to themselves as Littens. No, I’m not kidding.
  • There is no syncing between LibraryThing and Litsy yet.
  • Their database is small making it difficult to find certain books and authors.
  • People are given a score based on their account activity kind of like Snapchat. This is how they measure influence.

 

My Personal Experience

I used Litsy for about a month, okay, I lurked for about a month and during that time I followed a lot of interesting people who were passionate readers.  Though the community is small, it is engaged.  However, you have to get used to the idea of relying on images and not words to get your message across, this means I won’t be posting too often.  I don’t have the time to stage a photo shoot with my book nor do I want to scour the internet for images.  I’ll use Litsy for only strategic marketing or promotional purposes.

Also as I was writing this article, Litsy announced they were going to be offline for maintenance purposes and it would only affect the app for about two hours.  However, once the site was back up, there were major issues, people couldn’t see their notifications, or search the database for basic information.  It took a better chunk of the day for them to get the site back up and running normally again.  And since their site only allows 300 character posts, they had to take a screenshot of a Facebook post along with an apology.  Apparently, even their admins and support staff aren’t immune to the rules.

Litsy Explanation Full
My screenshot of a screenshot of a Facebook post.

 

I’ve never experienced anything like this with an app before.  I’m hoping this isn’t a frequent thing with Litsy.

The Verdict

All in all, I think Litsy is a great addition to the online book world.  Mainly, because they reach the younger demographic that live on their phones and love to take selfies.  Honestly, I believe Litsy could be a good thing for authors writing in the YA and romance genres since their demographic is mostly young and female.  However, like Snapchat, Litsy, may take some getting used to but I think it could be worth it for those having a hard time targeting Millennials and Gen Y using other channels.

 

Well what do you think, have you tried Litsy?  If so, let me know in the comments section.