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!

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.

apps, Book Promotion, Marketing

Snapchat For Authors

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Just say the word Snapchat to an author and you’ll probably get a confused look or a flat-out eye roll.  For those of you who aren’t 13 years old, Snapchat is a mobile social media app, and it’s not quite like any other.  Snapchat has its roots as a popular sexting app for college kids because the content disappears after 24 hours.  And with the proliferation of social media use, many teens were finding their posts and embarrassing photos being used against them when applying for jobs or colleges.  This need for privacy and control over personal content triggered what social media marketers have now called: the mass exodus from Facebook, where millions of young people either abandoned or deleted their Facebook accounts.

If you are an author marketing to teens and young adults, then Snapchat is definitely the place to check out.  As of 2018, the site boasts of over 187 million daily users reaching 40% of people between the ages of 18-24.  It’s gotten so popular that even the White House joined in 2016.  Millennials and Gen Z are a demographic that’s hard to reach, and nobody knows this fact better than Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, who tried to buy the app in 2013.

Why Snapchat Confuses Older People

Snapchat isn’t like the other social media sites by design, because all posts (snaps) are not permanent. Snaps are deleted after 24 hrs of being viewed (unless you take a screen pic) and those snaps that remain unopened are deleted after 30 days.  Snaperchatters are rewarded with points and trophies for account activity, which can be too video gamish for most adults.  Another deal breaker seems to be the pointless small talk, as well as Snapchat’s silly photo filters.

Snapchat pic for Writing By The Seat of My Pants
Really not feeling this.

As you can see, Snapchat isn’t a place to be serious, so you can’t treat it like Twitter or LinkedIn.  That fact alone, disqualifies authors who schedule content and blast it out to all their social media accounts.  Those techniques just won’t work on Snapchat, I’ll explain later, but for now, let’s see where authors are tripping up.

Where Everyone Goes Wrong

As I said previously, Snapchat is a spur of the moment type of site.  Most young people send private messages and respond to snaps with more snaps of their own.  You are often rewarded for keeping threads going for extended periods of time with points which can can earn users the right to access trophies for completing certain tasks or reaching milestones.  This is a psychological trick the site uses to keep people on Snapchat for longer periods of time and it works well.

Also, like other social media sites, video is a popular feature however, unlike all the other sites videos on Snapchat are only 10 – 60 seconds long.  That means traditional marketing won’t fly here.  So not only do you have to be brief, but you need to be interesting in a visual format. This can be a challenge to authors who are used to expressing themselves through the written word. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, there are authors and book reviewers doing well on Snapchat.  But before I tell you who, let’s get the basics down, below, I’ve listed five important steps to getting started on Snapchat.

Step #1: Watch A Few Snapchat Tutorials

For those of you willing to take the plunge into the Snapchat universe, there are several tutorials that you should check out before signing up:

Step #2: Get Followers

Okay, so you have a basic understanding of Snapchat, now it’s on to the next step and that is getting your first followers.  The common advice for building a following is to leverage the ones on your other social media accounts or from your email newsletters.  However, if you don’t have either one, you can find Snapchat groups where you can promote your account.  Just be sure to mention you’re an author and are looking for people who are into books and be sure to share your snapcode.  If you don’t know what that is please, return to step one!

Below are a few Snapchat groups you can check out:

Another way to find Snapchat followers is to go to the search engine of your chosen social media site and enter the words “snapchat” and look for promotional groups.  I’ve found Facebook and Google+ to be excellent sources to find Snapchat communities.

Step #3: Stay Away From Third Party Apps

I know a lot of authors want to manage their time wisely on social media and the best way to do that effectively is through scheduling posts.  Sadly, Snapchat still wants people to post content directly through their app. This policy will most likely change in the future, as it did for Pinterest and Instagram but for now, users are stuck in a scheduling purgatory.  There are scheduling apps that do exist but all of them violate Snapchat’s terms of service. That means your account could be suspended or shut down if you’re discovered using one, which is why I’m not mentioning any of their names here.

Step #4: Find A Few Influencers

Now that you have a few followers, it’s time to start networking with influencers. Since Snapchat doesn’t have a normal directory, people generally go to an app called Ghostcodes.  Ghostcodes, is a database of Snapchat users who are looking for followers. They sort out accounts under the categories of; storytellers, entertainment, business and even viral stars.  Now, I know what you’re thinking Rachel, didn’t you just say that Snapchat forbids third party apps?  The answer is yes, I did, but Ghostcodes isn’t a third party app, which means it’s not an app that links to your account, so you’re free and clear.

For those not interested in being a follower, you can always ask to be featured on the app, but you’ll need to fill out this form.

Other directory apps that are similar to Ghostcodes include:

Step #5: Figure Out What To Post

Since your content disappears after 24 hours, and videos are only 10 seconds, time is of the essence on Snapchat.  I know that sounds like a bad thing but Snapchat can be ideal for things like a flash sale or even a cover reveal.  The types of content that do best are snaps that are humorous, unique, and relevant.  Here are more ideas on the type of things you can create on Snapchat:

  • A quick author reading
  • Hold Q&A’s
  • Share advice or tips
  • Announce a sale, giveaway, or offer a coupon
  • Share a short quote, or joke
  • Snap a live event
  • Upload a book trailer
  • Create a story based on older snaps or photos from your camera roll. You can introduce yourself, or put together a little slide show explaining your work.

Book People On Snapchat

Despite what you may believe there are YA authors, as well as book reviewers on Snapchat, so it would be wise to watch and observe how they use the site if you’re struggling with ideas.  Here is a small list of just some of them, you’ll have to search for them in Snapchat’s search engine:

  • BookFerretSnaps (Reviewer)
  • Zoe Sugg (Author)
  • RomanceBeckons (Reviewer)
  • OneIllLouise (Author)
  • JohnGreen (Author)
  • BookRiot (Reviewers)

In Closing: A Discussion On Bad Marketing & Respect

Teens initially left traditional social media like Facebook, due to lack of privacy and respect.  It doesn’t matter that Facebook is the biggest social media site in the world, teens saw that it wasn’t serving their needs so they took off.  In fact, social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, made this comment about Snapchat: “There are two things that are very true when it comes to teens. One, it’s not cool to hang out at the same club as your mom (Facebook). And two, you want to lock your room.”  So far, Snapchat covers all these bases.

And while we’re at it, I have to mention a huge mistake I see adults committing on social media and that’s trolling (rudeness and disrespect).  You might be shocked to see how many authors love to discuss how dumb and weak Millennials and teens are.  Now here’s my question, how can an author despise the very people they’re trying to sell to?  YA authors in particular, need to be careful and use tact when addressing tragedies or when giving unsolicited advice.  If it’s not from the heart and from a place of understanding, then it’s best to keep it to yourself otherwise, you may come off as a know-it-all or worse yet, a shill.  Remember, good marketing requires that you care, and if you can’t do that, then do everybody a favor and just stay on Facebook.

Rachel Ruebens Snapchat Pic

apps, Book Promotion, Marketing, writing

Chatbots: How Authors Are Using Them For Marketing And More!

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Image via Pixabay

In the past three years, a new type of book marketing has emerged using internet bots which has indie authors buzzing.  Now bots have been around for years, but they were only available to those who understood coding or had deep pockets to hire someone else who did.   Today,  I want to explain the possibilities as well as the pitfalls of this new marketing tool.  But before we move on, let me explain what a bot is…

According to Techopedia, an internet bot is piece of software that is programmed to do automated tasks on the internet. This can include things like; answering questions, collecting data, selling products, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  In an article from the Atlantic, it was estimated that more than half of all internet traffic now consists of bots.  So you’ve most likely encounter one either on social media or at a major retailer’s site.  Internet bots can be a life saver for small businesses, because they save both time and money.  Imagine having a bot greet a person who just signed up for your email list right on your website, or who answers questions on social media.  Now let’s take it a step further, image a bot conducting a giveaway or doing deep research on your behalf.  Neat, huh?  Well that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this type of technology.

The Publishing Industry Is Already Onboard

Last year, Harper Collins launched its own Epicreads chatbot for teens on  Facebook Messenger, they also have another bot called, Book Genie both bots offer book suggestions to readers.

 

Epic Reads Bot
Epic Reads Chatbot

 

The traditional publishers aren’t the only ones getting onboard with social media bots, indie author Nick Stephenson, has a bot of his own on Messenger as well.  His bot alerts you to new articles and free video training.

On the Self-Publishing Formula podcast, host James Blatch spoke with indie author Kerry Gardiner, who gave examples of how authors are using bots in order to;

  • Build up their email lists
  • Increase their social media following
  • Ask for reviews
  • Create choose your adventures for readers

She has a bot of her own which she created for her website called, BookBotBob.  On the site readers choose whether they want a free or discounted book.  Once the choice is made, the bot eventually moves the conversation over to Facebook Messenger.

Kerrys Book Bot
BookBotBob Chatbot

Kerry also has a course in which she teaches indie authors the in’s and out’s of creating a bot for Messenger.  (Not affiliated.)

The Pitfalls of Automating Your Marketing: A Warning

There are numerous stories of people who have used bots to automate their marketing and failed miserably.  The results include situations where bots spouted inappropriate gibberish at random people, to bots that got social media accounts deactivated for violating terms of service.  Remember, before creating your bot for a social media site learn about the rules because bots need to be approved before they can deployed on any site.  For example, did you know that on Facebook Messenger, promotional content is allowed for standard messaging but not allowed for subscription messaging?  Strange, huh?  To learn more, check out more about Facebook’s rules and regulations for developers here.

How To Create Your Own DIY Bot

Believe it or not, it’s not that hard to learn how to create a bot, because these days you don’t even have to know how to code to do it.  There are several services also that will allow you to create a basic bot for free (restrictions apply).  The service that lots indie authors are going gaga over is ManyChat because it’s a free site and easy to use.

Here are just a small list of resources which can help you to design your own bot:

If You’re Not Technically Inclined

If you aren’t technically gifted, you can always find someone to do the job for you.  Below, I’ve list several websites where you can find a freelance chatbot developer.

Final Thoughts

Marketing experts believe that bots are here to stay but there are others who believe that AI devices like voice assistants are the future, and will make bots obsolete very soon.  Personally, I can’t say what the future holds but if bots can help make our lives easier now then why not use them?  They are much cheaper than hiring an assistant and they don’t need rest nor do they give you (the boss), attitude.  If you’re an overwhelmed author who can’t find the time for things like social media or email marketing then bots may be the answer for you.