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, 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.

 

Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing

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

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

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

 

The Problems That Could Be Solved With Blockchain

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

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

The Problems That Could Be Created By Blockchain

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

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

The Unknown Variable: The Publishing Industry Itself

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

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

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

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.

Business, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media

The Future Of Book Publishing: Figuring Out The Next Move

The Future Of Publishing
Image via Pixabay

It’s 2018, and 2017 is finally behind us which has a lot of authors wondering, what’s next?  Well, I took out my crystal ball and tried to see what the future holds for the publishing industry?  Will bots replace authors?  Short answer—not anytime soon.  Will AI technology replace word processing software like Microsoft Word and Scrivener?  In a nutshell—not yet.  Do we finally get our jet packs?  Again—not anytime soon.  So what will change next year?  Well, read on and find out…

Prediction #1: No More Superstars

It was pointed out at one news outlet that there were no breakout books in 2017.  Many blamed the slow down due to various political elections around the world and although, that could be the case, it could also be an ominous trend.  One only has to look to the music and movie industries to see where ours is heading post digital revolution.  For the past ten years, shelf space at brick and mortar stores has been disappearing and there are no indications that trend will cease.  When Barnes & Noble announced they would focus less on books, and applied for a liquor license, the publishing industry shuddered.  Amazon alone, now controls 71% of the ebook market, and accounts for 37% of all print book sales in the U.S. and has no serious rivals as of this posting.  This leaves the publishing industry at a huge disadvantage.

Major publishers are finding it harder and harder to introduce new books to the masses which has them turning to their backlists in order to make a profit.  Also, it’s been reported over the past few years, that midlist authors are being unceremoniously cut loose by major publishers.  So what does this mean to indie authors?  It means that the industry is getting careful about their spending and they’re doing everything they can to squeeze every last dime out all of their intellectual properties.  Many authors will have to either move on to another line of work, or seriously consider self-publishing.  This will ultimately mean more competition for indie authors.
In fact on the Creative Penn, this was discussed and the conclusion was made that the superstars like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King will become a thing of the past.  Mainly, because there won’t be any money to invest in an author’s career anymore.  This will lead to self-publishing becoming a default setting in an author’s early career.  In other words, self-publishing will become the norm and the only way to get a contract with a large publisher. That’s if large publishers can remain relevant.

Prediction #2: Social Media Is Going To Get A Lot Harder

In October, Facebook, began dividing their user’s newsfeeds in two, between personal and promotional posts in an experiment.  Without warning, people in six countries found their newsfeeds had changed, dramatically.  It was similar to what email services like Gmail and Outlook, did when they divided their inboxes between promotional and primary tabs.  Though Facebook says it doesn’t plan on rolling out these changes to every single country just yet, it does makes sense to begin shifting your marketing plan away from your page and possibly focus more on Facebook groups or maybe consider spending money to get your posts seen.

Prediction #3: Authors May Turn To Mobile Apps & Texting Services To Reach Readers Directly

With the effectiveness of email and social media marketing coming into question, those authors who went mobile won’t sweat it too much.  Believe it or not, apps and texting services aren’t for big businesses anymore, celebrities, athletes and even musicians are embracing the technology.  Romance author, H.M. Ward, said during an interview at the Self-Publishing Formula that most of her readers open her emails on their phones which is why she has a texting service to reach them now.  However, she does also say that your list has to be worth it (profitable) to warrant the expense.  The good news here is, is that these options are becoming less expensive with each passing year which, is perfect timing for authors looking for a new way to connect directly with their readers.

Prediction #4: AIs Will Make Books More Accessible   

You’ve probably heard by now that podcasts and audiobooks are very popular in this busy world we live in.  Instead of mindless corporate playlists on the radio, people are listening to niche podcasts and even audiobooks on their way to work, or at the gym.  Amazon saw this coming and developed their AI, Amazon Echo, to easily link with their ebooks and Audible library.  So readers can now have their audiobooks accessed and played while, ebooks can be read by Amazon’s AI for free.  Google and Apple are likely going to follow suit because they also have AIs and a somewhat healthy book catalog.  In fact, it’s believed that AI technology will only continue to evolve and affect every area of our lives from healthcare, to warfare.  Physicist and author, Stephen Hawking, has gone on record predicting that AIs will eventually take over the world.

Prediction #5: Virtual & Augmented Reality Will Present New Opportunities

In October of 2017, Harry Potter fans were treated to a thrill when Google announced it would be offering on their virtual reality platform Daydream, a gaming adventure based on the book series.  Also, this past year, The Washington Post, published an augmented reality article based on the Freddie Gray case.  It’s believed that in the future, media outlets will begin using augmented reality more in order to present complex stories.  As if that weren’t enough, The Washington Post also has a robot reporter who already published 850 articles.  Called Heliograf, it is being used to free up staff from redundant projects as well as helping with big data sets.  So what does this all mean?..

It means that it’s not beyond reason that publishers could use this type of technology when presenting both fiction and nonfiction books.  Several decades ago, publishers were producing choose your own adventure books where an author would write alternative endings to a story and readers would decided which one they wanted to follow.  This was popular for a short while but it may be revived if technology evolves.  That could mean interactive books will take on a whole new dimension and authors, as well as publishers, will have a new potential income stream.

It also means that big data is going to play a larger role in aquisitions, meaning data trends will soon play a role in how much a publisher will pay for an intellectual property.

In Closing

I hope I gave a balanced view of the future, there is a lot for indie authors to look forward to as well as several challenges.  Isn’t that always how reality goes?  Now, I’m handing the mic to you, if have any predictions of your own, add them in the comment section.