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 Promotion, Book Reviews, Business, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, writing

How To Find Who & What You’re Looking For

 

instagram_a5f1dac338
Image via Pixabay

Several years ago I wrote an article called, “How to Get Featured or Reviewed on Amazon” and it became very popular.  Recently, it was pointed out that I left out an important fact like names of various departments.  That was my mistake but later on, I encountered another author who was having trouble finding email addresses at a popular P.O.D. company.  It was then I realized there was a much deeper problem and that is, many indie authors can’t do deep research.  Now I come from a freelancing background where finding people who don’t want to be found is just part of the job.  However, we all come from different backgrounds and this kind of stuff isn’t taught in school, even though it really should.  Today, I’m going to help you find people who are hard to track online also, I’m going to go over the fundamentals of sending out an ARC or pitch. So buckle up, because we’re going sleuthing.

Tip #1: Before You Start You Need To Look The Part

When approaching a person like a book reviewer or editor, you must present yourself like a professional.  That means using a professional email address with your domain’s .com such as: JoeShmoe@YourPublishingCompanyName.com.  Most authors have a domain for their pen names but not many have one for their publishing company.  I bring this up because there are still book reviewers and editors who exclusively review trad pub books.  That means no indies allowed.  So like it or not, we need to create a company for our publishing business and that entails building a website and having a professional email address if we want to bypass the snobbery.

Here are the most popular sites for buying a domain and setting up a professional email address for your business:

Tip #2: Don’t Forget To Include A Kit With Your ARCs

Once you’ve gotten passed the gates, you need to bring the goods.  I was amazed at how little authors knew about sending out their work, none of the ones I spoke to ever included a book/press kit or formal letter with their books or ARCs.  How is someone supposed to know who you are let alone where to find you?  Authors can’t assume that a busy professional is going to bother Googling them, many of them just don’t have the time.  You need to introduce yourself and your company then give them what they need whether it be an ARC or a book.  Here’s an article you should read on the topic by Savvy Writers & E-Books Online.

Tip #3:  How to Find Names

Most companies have a corporate website or blog and there, they have listed the names of employees and the departments in which they work.  Also, most magazines and publishers have a page where they list their masthead which is really convenient but not every place is this transparent.

If you can’t find a masthead or corporate website, then you can always check out LinkedIn, there they have a search engine which can help you find your target.  Just enter the name of the company and start filtering the results to reflect certain terms like department and job position.

If that doesn’t work then you can always pick up a phone and call customer service or the information desk and ask them for the info you lack.  But if you’re feeling really bold, you can ask to be connected to the correct department and speak directly to your target.

Tip #4:  How to Find Email Addresses

Before we go any further let’s get one thing clear: You are never to email someone’s personal address.  It makes you look unprofessional not to mention desperate plus, they may report you.  The resources listed here are simply for trying to figure out work email addresses at a large corporation.  Most journalists and freelancers use the following services:

Tip #5:  Always Remember You Are Not Bothering Anyone!

People who work at a company get paid to do certain tasks and unless you’re preventing them from doing that job, you’re probably not annoying them.  If you are professional and courteous to them, then you’ve done your part.  And as an indie author it is your job to promote your books so it makes sense to leave no stone unturned.

Tip #6:  A Warm Introduction Trumps A Cold Pitch Any Day

Despite what many people think, it takes a lot of courage to become an indie author, because we constantly have to put ourselves out there.  Without a middleman, it’s up to us to reach out to the influencers in our industry.  If there is a book blogger or editor at a magazine you want to contact, do it, just be smart about it.  If they have an online community join it, if they have a social media presence, follow them.  Remember a warm email or pitch is always better than a cold one.  I talked about this in a previous article “How to Approach & Pitch Social Media Influencers” and it’s worth giving a read.  Another helpful article is “Before You Pitch a Book Reviewer: 6 Tips Most Authors Ignore” it’s filled with tips that writing professionals need to know.

I hope this helps, and if you have any questions please ask in the comments section.

Marketing

Email List Building for Authors

tumblr_adf39f9814
Image via Pixabay

Since everyone and their mother is talking about email lists, I decided to add my 2 cents and explain why email lists can make or break an author’s career.

If you haven’t noticed it’s getting harder and harder to stay in touch with your readers on social media.  I’m  not only talking about the Facebook changes to their algorithm, as  much as that sucks, it’s not the only thing standing in the way of indie authors when it comes to reaching their readers.  As more people and corporations build websites and blogs, it makes for more competition in cyberspace.  To add insult to injury, online ads are becoming more expensive, not to mention, ineffective when promoting a book.  So what do we do?

Lots of authors (myself included) are building their own email lists and are having success at getting readers to sign up.  I’ve heard of authors who have over 30,000 people on their lists.  Yes, there are authors who have more subscribers than some major newspapers!  And don’t think this is an indie thing, I know several traditionally published authors who are quietly building their own email lists.  You know in case they get the shovel from their publisher.  That way, readers can follow an author and not the stinking publishing company.

Email lists are quickly becoming more important than social media to a lot of authors. It’s gotten so important that even Amazon is collecting email addresses on your Amazon author page!

Amazon Author Page Opt In Form

The cool thing about email lists is that they’re not time sensitive or at the mercy of some search engine’s algorithm.  Bestselling authors like C.J. Lyons have even replaced blogging with email newsletters.  So if you find yourself overwhelmed and short on time, this may be the route for you.  An email newsletter once a month is doable even for the busiest author.

Last year, I explained the importance of newsletters so I won’t rehash, but I will be giving you a few tips on how to grow your email list, you know, just in case there’s a social media apocalypse or you just don’t feel like blogging anymore.

Free eBooks

Hands down, many authors and online writers swear by this technique.  Here’s how it works, an author offers a free book, readers opt in, they get a coupon code or file to download and boom—new subscriber.  Don’t worry, if you have only one book out, you can always write a short prequel.  This way you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing your paid writing time creating freebies.

Tip:  It also wouldn’t hurt if you put a link to your opt in form in any existing ebooks you’ve already published.

Ads

Personally, I wouldn’t try advertising unless I had a few bucks laying around but if you have a nice freebie or contest to offer, then why not advertise?  Just beware that there are people on the hunt for freebies who may just sign up, collect their freebie then unsubscribe.  So be careful where you advertise.

Where to Put Your Links

I know that sounds kinda dirty but I’m being serious.  😛  Anyway, the most obvious place to put your opt in link is on your blog, or website and make sure it’s big and bold like the widget I created here on my author site:

Rachel Ruebens Opt in Form
My opt-in widget on my author site.

Another idea for the blogging author is to create generic template for your posts with a byline containing your link.  Don’t relegate yourself to the generic bio that WordPress or Blogger has for you, they don’t allow clickable links.

Use Social Media to Promote Your Email List, Not the Other Way Around!

While it’s still free to use, social media can be a good place to link to your list.  Instead of just putting your website or blog address, in the about section, why not put the link of your email list instead?  I did this on Twitter, Facebook, and even Wattpad.  And don’t forget to mention it occasionally in your updates and posts.

Blog Tours or Guest Posting

If you’re going to post on someone’s blog it would be wise to leave your form’s link in the bio.  If they don’t allow it, create a sales/landing page on your blog with your opt in form like I did here.

I’m sure you’ve gotten the point by now, authors really have to promote their email lists and not so much their social media accounts these days.  This way we can weather the storms of social media evolution and advertising extinctions without breaking sweat.  There’s nothing worse than being dependent on something or someone that cares nothing for your success.

In Closing…

After learning about the recent Facebook changes, I decided to delete the follow me widget on the sidebar of this blog because it’s pretty useless now.  I have no desire to spend money on Facebook ads nor do I want to jump through hoops to reach my followers.  Besides, social media never really helped me when it came to selling books.

So what about you, have you begun your list yet?  If not, what’s holding you back?