Beta Readers, Book Promotion, Marketing, Networking, Social Media

How To Communicate With Readers

pinterest_84e5573e6b
Image via Pexels

Most indie authors are interested in finding out, how to get readers.  In fact, there are webinars, books and businesses that are devoted to that very subject.  However, not many of us ask the more important question like: What do we do with them once we got them?  We’re so focused on bumping up our email subscribers or social media numbers that we forgot about the human aspect of our job.

As I did the research for my latest social media book, I noticed authors asking over and over again, what do I say?  Honestly, there is no rule for that because it all really depends on your book and your message.  Do your books have a theme or moral?  If so, then your content should revolve around that.

I’ve been studying some of the indie elite, looking at their social media pages and even their newsletters and came up with a few tips that will work for those authors who want to not only get fans but keep them long term.

Idea #1: Plan Ahead

Many social media influencers and newsletter writers often plan months in advance what they’ll post.   One Instagrammer /model confessed to using a mood board  to integrate certain colors into her feed to create the perfect aesthetic effect.  I don’t recommend that unless color or fashion is at the top of your agenda but thinking about what you’ll say and sharing things on that topic keeps your message consistent.  For example, if you’re writing about 1940’s gangsters, then your social media posts should consist of posts about 1970’s fashion.  Your readers didn’t sign up for that.

Idea #2: Express Gratitude

When readers sign up for bestselling author, Bella Andres’ newsletter in the first auto responder, she thanks readers for their support saying, “Hello! First and foremost, I want to thank you for reading my books! I’m beyond grateful that I get to dream up and write romantic stories every day—and it’s all because of you.”  If I were one of her readers, I would’ve converted to fan status after that interaction.  I mean who doesn’t like heartfelt appreciation?

Idea #3: Be Sincere

In the summer of 2016, a social media influencer publicly quit Instagram because of what she called, “contrived perfection made to get attention.”  She publicly confessed to having photo shoots for her social media account just to make herself look perfect in all her posts.  She even discussed fake relationships on Instagram.  In essence she confessed to being a fraud.  Don’t fall into that trap, it’s one thing to edit wrinkles from a selfie and another to have a completely fake life.  Remember: You don’t have to create a persona or a character of yourself.  The top celebrities on social media hire professional photographers all the time but authors don’t need to because we have an actual story to tell.  They on the other hand, can only appear interesting.

Idea #4: Hold Real Discussions

I’ve seen so many authors fail at this and it’s because we haven’t really learned the art of conversation.  You know the saying, “People only listen with the intent to respond, not to understand?”  That’s exactly what I see authors doing, they’ll ask a question and answer it or they’ll try to tell their followers what to think.  That is not a discussion, it’s just them standing on their soapbox.  If you want examples of good reader-author conversations head on over to Indie Author & Book Blogs’ Facebook page.

*You have to be logged in to see the post.*

Here are a few tips about how to get a conversation started:

  • Give facts about a subject you know a lot about.
  • Hold open confessions.
  • Ask an open-ended questions like; Who are the most talented writers of our century?, How do you see (insert character’s name) life unfolding?, What should be addressed in the next book?
  • Hold a Q&A
  • Share a quote from your book on an eye-catching pic.
  • Record a video
  • Have contests
  • Do cover reveals
  • Hold giveaways

Idea #5: Reward Your Subscribers

Many marketers say that the fewer questions you ask, the higher your conversion rates (for your newsletter) will be.  However when I signed up for Stephen King’s newsletter in 2008, I was surprised to receive a birthday greeting on my actual birthday.  Back then when you signed up, you were asked for your name as well as your birthday.  Needless to say, I thought a birthday greeting was super cool but personally,  I would’ve taken it a step further and offered a coupon code or a free gift to my readers.  Why not one-up the man?  😛  Just explain why you’re asking and allow readers the option of skipping the question.

Idea #6: Cross Promote

Long ago, I was listening to a podcast (the name of it escapes me) and an author was asked if she was afraid of the competitiveness of the market.  Her answer was simple, “I don’t see other authors as competition but as colleagues.”  That was the most brilliant way to answer the question and since we indie authors are on our own, we need to support each other when we can.  Interview other authors in your genre and start the good Karma train rolling.  Who knows maybe one day they’ll interview or promote you.

This could be a lot of fun for readers who will be introduced to a new author, and it gives you content to use for social media, newsletters, and blogs.

Miscommunication

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t flip the script and talk about what happens when readers reach out to authors only to get repulsed by the response.  Case in point, just a few months ago, S.E. Hinton, author of the Outsiders, got into a Twitter scuffle with a teenager when asked about the sexuality of one of her characters.  Anyway, Hinton came off looking a bit homophobic and I’m sure she’s not, but the question could have been handled a lot better.  Note to authors:  If someone asks if one of your characters is gay or transgender, a simple yes or no will suffice.

In Closing

Socializing isn’t necessarily complicated if you plan ahead.  When interacting with readers make sure you’re open to hearing them.  You don’t have to understand exactly where they’re coming from but it would be nice if you simply acknowledged their responses.  Your readers will thank you later and who knows they may even start conversations with you.

Book Reviews, Indie Publishing

Booktube for Indie Authors

pinterest_e721db792e
Pic via Pixabay

Youtube isn’t the first site that comes to mind when authors go looking for reviews but maybe it should be. When I published my book in 2012, there weren’t that many people on Youtube who reviewed books and those that did, didn’t review indie books. In fact, some of them didn’t even know what an indie book was. Ouch! Fast forward to 2015 and Youtubers are a force to be reckoned with, they endorse everything from cosmetics, clothes, and yes, even books. Several Youtubers have even become millionaires and in response Forbes created a list of the wealthiest Youtubers.  Several of these channels have a subscriber base of millions which means they often reach more viewers than some popular television shows!  In fact, corporate America is taking notice and getting their products and services in front of this untapped market.  Sure ads are okay, but to get an influencer to endorse your business is gold and gives your product credibility.

Same thing goes with a book, if you can get a Booktuber (a person who reviews books on Youtube) to give the thumbs up on your book, that can be a powerful endorsement.  But before I go on, I should give a few facts…

The Rundown On Youtube

Youtube claims over 1 billion users reaching more young people (18-49 year olds) than cable television. Also, the hours spent on the site has gone up 60% in the past 2 years.  Youtube is so powerful that many book marketers have recommended authors create their own channels or the very least, create a book trailer for promotional purposes.

An author who took the plunge and created his own channel was bestselling author John Green, who along with his brother Hank, created Vlog Brothers, a channel where they discuss all things nerdy.  Since its launch in 2007, Vlog Brothers has amassed 2.6 million subscribers.  Not bad for an author, and his brother, huh?

¿BookTube en Español?

For those who doubt that Youtube could provide any opportunity for the indie book movement, doubt no more. The Booktuber phenomenon has gotten so strong that it’s gone global for instance, while I was researching for this post, I stumbled across several Booktube channels in Spanish. Amazingly, I got to watch John Green being interviewed in Spanglish. (Spanish & English) I loved it!

In case you have a book in Spanish and you’d like to get it reviewed, here are a few channels to check out:

Booktubers Who Review Indie Books

Before I go on, I need to give the disclaimer and remind you that many of these vloggers are busy, and have normal lives so they can’t review ever single book that is pitched to them. Also keep in mind, you are competing with other authors so if they say no, don’t take it personally.

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t state the obvious, but be sure to read the guidelines in a Booktuber’s “about” tab before pitching. Trust me there’s nothing worse than getting an unsolicited email from someone who never bothered to learn your name or the genre you review.

How To Find More BookTubers

If you want to find someone on Youtube who reviews books in your genre, it’s best to use the search engine. Try to use key phrases like; reviews, book recommendations, book hauls, book swag and of course, your genre. Use them in combination for maximum results:

  • YA Book Reviews
  • Book Hauls
  • Book Swag
  • Romance Novel Recommendation
  • Booktube

Helpful Tip: Many of the top Booktubers are inundated with requests so try to target a Booktuber with a smaller audience.

In Closing

I believe the Booktuber phenomenon will evolve giving indie authors a greater chance at exposure. Who knows, maybe you will be the one who builds the Youtube channel solely for indie books? As far as I can tell there isn’t anyone doing that right now and that’s a shame but that’s another post for another day.

Book Promotion, Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing

Lessons Learned in Publishing

facebook_048bae9374
Image via Pixabay

It’s almost 2015, and like most people, I’m wondering where the heck did all the time go? Luckily, I had a pretty productive year, I finished one book and published another. I also made more friends and learned more about the publishing industry.  Yes, after years in the business, I’m still learning new things.

Here are just a few of the bigger lessons I discovered this year in 2014…

Book Marketing Has To Be Taken To Another Level

Last month, an author sent a lamb chop into space to promote his book: Meatspace. He recorded the whole thing on Youtube and so far it’s netted him over 250,000 views. It was the most odd, yet, spectacular marketing ploy I’ve ever seen. So much for creating bookmarks, eh?

Despite what you may have heard, you still have to promote your book to some extent. Whether you decide to do it via blogtours, advertising or social media, you should let someone know your book is available. Many of the most successful authors have marketed their work continuously, because they can’t afford to leave it up to chance.

Repeat After Me: Amazon Is Not The Savior Of Publishing

Not long ago, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, referred to authors as customers in a meeting with investors. A Bloomsbury executive also referred to authors as customers at the Frankfurt Book Fair this past year. Although, I don’t agree with the customer label, I do believe we are treated more like employees rather than business partners.  Think about it, publishers have been using authors as brand ambassadors to promote their companies for years.  One author in my writer’s group put it like this: “Yes. We’re Amazon’s unpaid marketing department. And all those little ‘Amazon affiliate’ booklists are their marketing funnels. We’re all herding readers into the chute so we can cut our own throats. Maybe it’s time we all woke up and stopped committing professional suicide by supporting a one-platform market?” A strong but very true statement.

Consider All Possible Income Streams

Many of the literary elite like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King have made a lot of money from selling books but they’ve also made lots of money from other things like movie deals, speaking engagements and yes, even merchandise.

And why not? If you don’t take advantage of all the opportunities available to you someone else will. For example, I found a lot Fifty Shades of Grey merchandise online but none of it was official, meaning the author E.L. James, is likely not getting paid for any of it. How do I know? Well, on the author’s website there is no mention of merchandise and ditto for her publisher’s website. However, that hasn’t stopped many of these so called “fan sites” from taking the image of the book (a copyright violation), and slapping it on multiple products.

Don’t ever forget publishing is a business, not an art. It’s sad when bootleggers understand this so much better than the authors they rip off.

Free Books Aren’t Devaluing A Damn Thing!

If you believe that giving away a free book is going to ruin your career, you’re insane. There are lots of bestselling authors who have free books available. They often use free books to get reviews or to build up their email lists just like their indie counterparts.  That’s because free books have been proven to be way more effective at building an author platform than advertising and social media.

We Need To Promote On Social Media But Only In The Right Places

Social media is getting complicated as Facebook and Google limit the reach of their users. Many are finding that even advertising and promoting posts aren’t working so they’re abandoning their pages in droves. I think this is a bad idea. I believe social media can be useful but only if you network properly. We authors need to become a part of a thriving reader community and make the leaders of these communities an offer they can’t refuse. I discussed this in my post: How to Approach and Pitch Social Media Influencers.

We Need To Accept There Is No Such Thing As Luck!

Many authors who’ve succeed at publishing often put years into their careers. They’ve learned their craft, studied the business, and experimented (both artistically and business wise) in order to make a living at publishing. Luck by the way, is often seen as a four letter word to successful people.

Awesome-quote-by-Peter-Dinklage from Thumb Press
From Thumbpress

You’re A Writer After You’ve Actually Written Something

Don’t let others fool you into thinking that you need an agent or contract with one of the NY Big 5 to be considered an official author. No one will ever anoint you with fairy dust and make things happen for you. That’s way too Cinderella! A real author is someone who has published a book and made a connection with their readers.

In Closing

Though I think the industry is stabilizing, I do think things will continue to change, but not at the pace that they have been. In times like these, we have to constantly remind ourselves this is a business and not a calling.  As with most businesses, we’ll face many ups and downs, that’s just life in general.  No one gets a free pass.  Absolutely no one!

 

Blogging, SEO

SEO Keywords For Fiction Authors

pinterest_e1a4a81913
Image via Pixabay

 

Update: I did a more recent version of this article called: SEO Keywords for Self-Published Books in 2016, so go check it out.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t enthusiastic about writing this post because it was so technical and to be real, I usually ignore posts about SEO and keyword research.  That’s mainly, because the subject is so boring.  But after seeing the comment section in my last post, I realized I had to face an old demon.  Yes, I do read the comments and I often feel your pain.

Not only did I find SEO boring, I didn’t realize the correlation between it and book marketing.  But there is, keywords are an intricate part of online marketing and most of us are selling our books online so wouldn’t it be nice if we understood this mysterious creature called SEO?

Anyone can rank high in the search engines just by inserting popular words and riding on the coattails of controversy or news headlines but that easily backfire.  In my own experience I’ve used the wrong keywords on this blog and ended up with a ton of bounce traffic.

In most cases, author blogs and websites need to be tagged with keywords that include:

  1. Title of your book
  2. Author Name
  3. Genre of your book

But you can’t just let it end there, you have to insert commonly searched terms.  This is where the Google adwords search toolbar comes into play.  In less than a half-hour, I was armed with the most searched terms related to fiction books.

Top search results on the word: “Books”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

E books 4,090,000
Online books 2,740,000
On line books 2,240,00
Books online 2,740,000
New books 1,000,000
Google books 2,740,000
Children’s Books 823,000
Kindle Book 1,220,000

Top results for the term: “Fiction”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

Fiction Books 673,00
Adult Fiction 201,000
Historical Fiction 135,000
Top Fiction Books 110,000
Free Fiction 90,500
New Fiction 90,500
Fiction Series 74,000
Good Fiction 60,500
Romantic Fiction 49,500
Adult Fiction Novels 40,500
Gay Fiction 40,500
Flash Fiction 33,100
Horror Fiction 22,200
Christian Fiction 27,100
Contemporary Fiction 18,100

Top Results for “Novel”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

A novel 13,600,000
The Novel 13,600,000
Novel Books 1,220,000
American Novel 1,220,000
Online Novel 550,000
Romance Novel 368,000
Fiction Novel 368,000
Best Novel 301,000
Free Novel 368,000
Romantic Novel 165,000
Novel Writing 135,000
Pandigital Novel (An iPad like eReader) 90,500
Fantasy Novel 40,500
Novel Reviews 40,500
Historical Novel 40,500
Vampire Novel 33,100

Top Results for the word, “Adult Readers”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

Book Club 1,220,000
Books for Young Adults 135,000
Books for Girls 368,000
Books for Teens 110,000
Adult Novels 110,000

Top Search Results for “Reading Books”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

How to read a book 1,220,000
Reading Books on line 201,000
Reading Books for Free 135,000
Where to read books online 450,000
Online Reading Books 246,000
Read Books 1,220,000

Homework:

Pick out your keywords or look some up on the Google Tools page and find some unique to your book.  Look up things like Science Fiction or Chick-Lit and see what you get.  This will take awhile since you’ll be trying different words and combinations of phrases.  That’s fine, take your time and next week, we’ll put those keywords to use.