Category Archives: book marketing

19 Nov

What is Really Necessary to Do Online? Authors You Have Surprising Freedom!

I’m doing a survey of your burning questions for 2015 about writing and publishing. I’ll be answering some of the questions over the next few months.

If you haven’t taken the survey yet, it’s a simple 3-question survey.
Answers are anonymous. Takes just a couple minutes. Please take the survey now!

Today’s online world for authors is confusing!
I’ve written about setting up an Author Website.
I’ve blogged consistently here for about seven years.
Please follow me on Pinterest.
Come and check out my Facebook Fan Page.
I have a Linked-In account.
Watch me on YouTube.

What do I think is the most important thing for you to do?

Write.

A writer is a person who writes.
A published writer is a person who consistently submits what they’ve written.

That’s it.
The rest of it? Sure, if you’re a mid-lister, and if you have time to spend, it can help your writing to sell better to be online. Sure, if you network with writers, editors, illustrators, marketing people, and others in the publishing industry, it’s easier to submit and find that right fit for your work.

However, that’s not your main job. Your job is to work on your writing. Period.

What do you LIKE to do?

SocialMediaMonopoly


After you’ve got the writing and submitting down, you can look around the online world to see if you want to join those who create content.

You could just participate by consuming content.

  • Repin or Comment on Pinterest
  • ReTweet or Like on Twitter
  • Like, Share, or Comment on Facebook
  • Do the comparable on the platform of your choice

But most prefer to find a home base where they create content that goes along with what they are getting published.

First, evaluate yourself. Do you like to write short, write long, take/edit photos, produce audio, or produce video? Those are the only options you have, regardless of the platform. Think about which form of communication you are good at, and can consistently produce.

I’d suggest you consider two things when looking for an online home base:

  • What Kind of Content Can you Consistently Produce? The most important thing on ANY platform is that you show up. Consistent posting of content is crucial. Without it, you won’t develop an audience!
  • Where Does Your Audience Hang Out? This is a very different question from, “Where do your friends hang out?”
    If you want your writing to connect with an audience, then you need to FIND your audience. Develop relationships, listen to questions, answer questions, become a part of the community. If they most do Slideshares, go there. If they prefer Instagram, go there. I have a young friend who introduced me to WeChat, an app that lets you keep track of friends and family. It’s her favorite app. Now, when I need to talk with her, I jump on WeChat, and almost instantly, we’re connected. This sure beats leaving her voice mails that never get answered! Go where your audience hangs out.

Your goal is to find that sweet spot between the ways you like to communicate and the ways in which your audience communicates. That’s the only logical way to operate online. Don’t let anyone tell you that you MUST do this or that online. Build your writing career by writing your own work, by submitting your own work for publication (or self-publishing it), and finally, by finding your audience.

27 Oct

Authors as Speakers: Inspiration from TED

Do you speak for organization as a way to advertise your books? Maybe you do school visits, or talk to a Kiwanis club, or even do Keynote Speeches for various organizations as a way to supplement your writing income.

If so, I’ve got a great book for you.

TED Talks

I am inspired by the TED Talks. TED, or Technology, Entertainment and Design, a nonprofit organization, invites people to give “the speech of their lives” in 18 minutes or less. Each speech should focus on one “idea worth sharing.”

The video archive includes some of the best public speaking you’ll ever see.
If you want to give better speeches, it makes sense to study the TED talks.

TedAnd that’s exactly what Jeremey Donovan has done in his book, HOW TO DELIVER A TED TALK: SECRETS OF THE WORLD’S MOST INSPIRING PRESENTATIONS. As you read this post on October 27, 2014, I’ll be at a Reading Recovery conference speaking about my work. The last time I went out, I bombed.

Now, I do a lot of speaking and it comes pretty easy for me. But last time, I really wasn’t prepared the way I should’ve been, and it showed. I vowed THAT would never happen again. In fact, that failure has spurred me to aspire to do better than ever before. Whatever level I was before, I’d like to up the game and improve.

Focus. When I taught freshman composition, the hardest thing was to get students to focus on something important enough, but manageable within the five pages of the assignment. Focus is difficult because we have so much we want to say. But not everything needs to go into THIS speech. TED talks ask you to find that one “idea worth spreading.”

It took me a long time to focus this speech! In some ways, the question is a philosophical one: what do you care about passionately? That’s what will connect with people.

Structure. Like any good writer or speechwriter, Donovan spends a lot of time on organization. There’s nothing particularly new or innovative in this section; however, his analysis of speech after speech is helpful, because you’ll see exactly how other TED talks were organized. He covers both inductive and deductive reasoning in detail.

Storytelling. The use of stories to enliven a speech is a time-tested technique. But Donovan explains the WHY and WHICH ONE. For me, the emphasis on a personal story was important. I am an ambivert, able to be extroverted when necessary, but in my everyday life, I’m an introvert. I don’t like sharing personal stories. And yet, for others to connect with you, it’s necessary. My new speech includes several new personal stories.

Powerpoint. Donovan says that about 60% of TED talks have no Powerpoint. Hurrah! It’s not my favorite method of giving information to a crowd. However–this time, I realized that I needed to do one. My normal approach would be to blow it off till the last minute–but that didn’t work last time and I was determined to do it right this time. I created a 55 slide pack.

Practice. Really? You want me to practice this 70 minute presentation? Yes. If I was doing a TED talk–with all the prestige of that organization, you can bet I would practice. I’m planning to do a run through a couple times this weekend. Realistically–one really good run-through is likely, but that’s better than the last time!

The benefits of taking the time to focus on the speech should be great. I know that I’ll relax more because I’m prepared. The connection with the audience should be much better than last time when I truly bombed. And who knows where it will go from there.

Slideshare From Jeremey Donovan

You should watch a 100 of these videos before you go out to do your next presentation! Here are some TED Talk Playlists to get you started.

As you read this, I’ll be about to speak. So send me the traditional on-stage blessing: Break a Leg!

13 Aug

1.6 Million Reasons Why Your Books Should Be in the iBook Store

Have your books been updated and made for sale as ebooks? Are you on the Kindle store, the Nook store, or the Kobo store? Great.
But if you’re not on the iBook store, you’re missing sales. Here’s why.

A recent 2014 survey by Education Market Research asked schools about what tablets they currently own. Apple’s iPad overwhelmingly wins the tablet wars with 79.7% of the market. Distant competitors include Microsoft Surface at 10.2% and Samsung Galaxy Note at 6.2%. Wow! iPads rule! In schools, at least, Kindles only have 1% of the market.

Further, respondents said there are 2.3 million tablets in U.S. schools. That means about 1.6 million iPads are floating around the school buildings. That’s a huge market that you can’t afford to ignore! Especially when the respondents were asked about future purchases. Again, iPad tops the market share with 65.7% planning to buy iPads.

See my books on the iBook store!
To see if your ebooks are on the iBookstore, use the iTunes Link Maker tool. Search for your name under the books category. In the comments below, report what you find!

Darcy Pattison's books on the iBookStore

Darcy Pattison’s books on the iBookStore


Find Darcy Pattison Books in the iBook Store

Other eBook Options

Just because a school owns a dozen iPads, though, it doesn’t mean the school library will order from the iBookstore. Schools buying patterns are way more complicated because of factors such funding sources, issues related to inventory and checking out books, etc. In a September, 2013 article for Digital Shift, “SLJ’s School Ebook Market Directory,” Matt Enis and Sarah Bayliss run down 22 options that school have for purchasing ebooks for their libraries. Many options are simply a publishing company offering their backlist. Other options include ebooks from multiple publishers. The King among these options is Follett eBooks:

“Sixty-seven percent of PreS–12 schools using ebooks purchase from Follett, according to a recent Library Journal survey. Special features from Follett include note-taking capabilities in all titles and highlighting options in most, along with a tool allowing teachers and students to write and share notes. Additional Follett tools aim to support close reading and Common Core State Standards goals and offer scaffolding structures for struggling readers. Printing, copying and pasting, and text-to-speech features depend on publishers’ DRM specifications.”

One of the main reasons schools go to these ebook distributors is their desire to be “device independent” or “device agnostic.” They understand the limitations of being tied to a certain ebook reader. When a company provides “device independent” books, it usually means the ebooks are browser dependent. Any device which has a browser–such as Kindle Fire or iPads–can read that type of ebook. The versatility and universality of the browser dependent ebooks makes them an attractive option for schools. They aren’t tied to costly upgrades of tablets that tend to break. Instead, ebooks are read on whatever device is working.

Are your books available on these services? You’ll have to look up each one. Follett’s titles can be checked in their titlewave.com website, which is only available to customers. That means you’ll have to find a friendly children’s librarian to look it up for you. Yes, all my books are available on Follett’s ebook platform!

Finally, some publishers are making their eBooks available for purchase on their own websites. My indie books are available in epub or Kindle formats at MimsHouse.com. If you own the ebook rights to your books, you can sell them from your own website, too.

Book Reviews: A Difficult Ask

Of course, this means more work for authors as they work to get the oh-so-necessary-reviews. Already, we ask friends and family to review our books on Amazon/Kindle and maybe on GoodReads. KoboBooks used to pick up reviews from GoodReads, but since it’s been bought by Amazon, that’s not smart business; now, Kobo asks its customers to review on its site. And now, you should really ask for reviews on the iBookstore. Is it too much to expect from a friend?

09 Jul

Synopsis: A Google Example

A couple years ago, Google produced a promotional video, Parisian Love, which advertised its search capabilities in a very simple way. There are merely twelve phrases entered into a Google Search box. And yet–it tells a story and tugs at the heart strings. It evokes emotion. How good is this copy? The video has received over 7 million views!

The sound here is minimal, but effective. But it’s really the words that shine.

When I think about blurbs for books, this stands as a stellar example of what you can do with very tight text. If you could craft your synopsis–or blurb, flap copy, elevator pitch, tweet, or whatever promotional copy you’re working on–to get this strong an emotional tug, you’ll have a winner.

Here’s the Copy

Parisian Love

Study abroad Paris France
Cafes near the louve
Translate tu es tres mignon (You’re very cute)
Impress a French girl
Chocolate shops paris france
What are truffles
Who is truffaut
Long distance relationship advice
Jobs in paris
AA120
Churches in Paris
How to assemble a crib
Search on.

Watch the Video


If you can’t see this video, click here.

Try writing up some promotional copy for your story in just twelve phrases.
Does it evoke emotion?
Does it show a narrative arc?
Can you use this to craft a better marketing message?

02 Jun

Book Reviews on Your Author Website: A Surprisingly Simple Widget


Why do most online sites include reviews of products? It’s called social proof. If someone else likes a product, you’re more likely to be interested. For clothing, I like to see if the sizing is correct, or if I should buy up or down a size. For household appliances, I read to find out what washing machines are noisy or how they hold up to heavy loads. Book reviews act in the same way. Add a couple reviews to your book and sales climb. How much? That’s the million dollar question! We don’t know exactly how the two correlate, but we know that they do.

Adding reviews of your book to your website is simple. Earlier, I did a series on setting up your author website which covered the basics of setting up your site. This is an extra, but potentially important extra.

Goodreads Widget

Configure the GoodReads Review widget as you like, the copy/paste the code into your site. Click to see this full size.

Configure the GoodReads Review widget as you like, the copy/paste the code into your site.


Goodreads makes it simple to add a Review Widget to your site. Here’s how.

  • Log into your Goodreads author account.
  • From the Home Page, right sidebar, click on Visit Your Author Dashboard.
  • Make sure your account is updated and you have claimed all your books. If this is your first time to set up an Author Dashboard, be sure to read the Author Tutorial linked in the sidebar.
  • Click on Author Widgets in the sidebar.
  • Scroll down to the Reviews Widget and click on Configure & Add Widget.
  • Use the ISBN number to find the right review and configure as you want.
  • Copy the code provided and drop into your website where you wish.

When you paste code into a WordPress site, make sure you have selected a TEXT editing area, not the VISUAL editing. Note: For the code to work in WordPress, you must paste it into a TEXT editing area, not a VISUAL editing area. You’ll find this tab at the top right of the editing area.


Example of GoodReads Widget in Action

Saucy and Bubba. A Contemporary Hansel and Gretel Story.

Saucy and Bubba. A Contemporary Hansel and Gretel Story.


  • Below is what the GoodReads Review Widget looks like for my novel, Saucy and Bubba.
  • Or, see how it is used in a separate tab on the Mims House eBookstore for Wisdom, the Midway Albatross.

Kobo Reviews

On a related development, Kobo eBooks (Here’s a post I did about Kobo and why you should pay attention to it.) has recently announced that they will no longer use GoodReads reviews on their site. This makes sense because Amazon bought out GoodReads a couple years ago. Using reviews from a competitor is bad business. Instead, Kobo will be developing its own set of reviews on its site. For a short time, authors can take control of that and ask fans to add reviews on Kobo. So, here’s my request. If you have read and enjoyed one of my books, I’d appreciate a review on Kobo. If you just rate the books (give it some stars!) that helps, too.

To ask for reviews on your own Kobo books, just change the name at the end of the URL, using a plus sign between first/last names. You’ll see which of your books are offered on Kobo.

28 May

5 Interesting Podcasts: Kidlit, Social Media & Self-Publishing

With limited time to keep up on the business of writing and publishing, I have found myself turning to podcasts. A podcast is like a radio program, but you can play it on demand. To listen, I have the Pocket Casts Lite app on my iPhone; the free version allows me to set up five podcasts to follow. I listen while I’m at the gym or taking a walk using ear buds; I have a wireless bluetooth earbud setup, so I don’t have to worry about cords. Or, I plug into the auxiliary input on my car radio/cd system to listen. At home, I have a portable bluetooth speaker that sounds great. Of course, you’ll need to find a set of apps for your particular system. If you already have something set up to listen to music on your smart phone, just use that same thing for listening to podcasts.

Using Pocket Casts Lite, I can log onto the iTunes store and search podcasts to find something I want to listen to. My friend who write history nonfiction, tends to listen to history podcasts for tidbits that might spark an idea. No, really, she just listens to them for pleasure! If it sparks something, great. Almost any topic that interests you, there’s a podcast. Here, I’ll mention five podcasts that I’ve been listening to lately.

If you’re interested in just hearing authors talk about their books–and not the publishing side of it all–then you can look at podcast lists here or here, here or here.

Children’s Literature.

  1. Katie Davis’s Brain Burps is the longest running podcast about children’s books. Each week, she interviews someone about their work and publishing experience, provides a book review and gives tips. Find her on iTunes.
  2. Cheryl Fusco Johnson takes a slightly different approach to podcasts by using a local access radio station, KRUU in Fairfield, Iowa for her show, The Studio. For her show, you must download files and put them on your smartphone like you would a music file. Her interviews are with a wide-ranging set of authors–always interesting.
  3. Book Marketing.

  4. One of my favorite podcast is Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner, which isn’t necessarily about book marketing, but about using social media in general. It comes from the folks at SocialMediaExaminer.com and some of their strategies are stellar tools for your book marketing. Look for it on iTunes.
  5. Podcast


    Self-Publishing

  6. There are strong podcasts for self-publishers, including Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn Podcast. She’s got a long record of interviewing the most successful self-publishers and being on the cutting edge of new developments.
  7. But my favorite right now is Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. Yes, I was just interviewed on this podcast, but I have been listening to it for the last few months because of Simon’s great British accent. He’s got one of the best radio voices around right now. Simon’s interest in self-publishing is–of course–doing narration of audio books. But ont he podcast, eh talks to a wide range of authors about their publishing experiences.

What apps do you use to listen to podcasts? What is your favorite podcast?

21 May

Thank You, AuthorCentral

One of the online tools I use weekly is AuthorCentral.com, which is an Amazon site with a backend for authors. It gives authors access to the listings about your book, statistics about sales, reviews of all your books on a single page and access to Amazon for correcting mistakes.

Typical page from AuthorCentral. I've just "claimed" my Aliens, Inc. Series which will be out in August, 2014.

Typical page from AuthorCentral. I’ve just “claimed” by Aliens, Inc. Series which will be out in August, 2014.

Book Listings. When you log onto AuthorCentral, the first thing to do is claim your books. Click on the Books tab at the top, and then ADD BOOKS. Once the process is completed, you’ll have access to the book listing, book details and book extras. These shouldn’t be changed willy-nilly, as your publisher has likely spent time in honing the description. But you do have access to change anything that is wrong, to add good news about awards and such, and to tweak as needed. Indeed, there is a space for “FROM THE AUTHOR” which gives you the perfect place to add information. The Book Extras are primarily intended for Shelfari, which isn’t one of the most popular sites; often, I don’t bother to do anything here. But it’s available if you like.

Profile. The profile tab offers simple access to your Amazon Author page, something you want to update a couple times a year, or as new information is available. Included are you bio, bibliography, photos, videos, blog feeds and the ability to list events.

Sales Info. This includes sales data over time and by geographic region, as reported by BookScan. That is important: this only includes sales data from BOOKSCAN. Still, this is important and helpful. Say you visited California and wanted to know the effect of that visit on sales. You could check the sales data the next week. The information is also broken down book by book.

Author Rank. Just like Amazon gives your books a sales rank, it also gives YOU a sales rank. For a certain time period, how did your sales stack up against other authors in your category? I tend to ignore this one.

Customer Reviews. On the other hand, I check my customer reviews about once a week. It’s convenient to have all reviews from all your books in one central location. Otherwise, I’d have to visit each book listing on Amazon to see new reviews. It’s a bit slow (24-48 hours) pulling in a review. When a friend emails to say s/he has posted a review, I can check the book page and see it immediately; however, it doesn’t show up on AuthorCentral for a day or two.

Overall, these tools allow writers to keep a pulse on their book sales. It’s been a valuable addition to my set of online marketing and promotional tools. Thanks, AuthorCentral.

29 Mar

Author Website Content: Keep the Blog and Website Going

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Keep Your Author Website Fresh

WWW under construction building website
You’re done it. Your author website is launched. Now what?
The care and feeding of a website is necessary and part of your career now. Please, don’t abandon the website and let it wither on the vine–not after this month of hard work. Set aside regular days to write something for the blog and get it scheduled. When you have new books, update!

Also, you must plan ways to connect with your readers. Remember that these are things readers want from you.

AUTHOR WEBSITE CHECKLIST
Where on your website did you include these things? List the page(s)

Exclusive unpublished writing: ______________________
Author Schedules: ________________________________
Author’s Literary Tastes:___________________________
Insider Information: _______________________________
Freebies: ________________________________________
Regular Contact: __________________________________
Contests, puzzles, teacher’s guides, book club discussion guides, puzzles, coloring pages, etc.__________________________________

Resources

I won’t leave you without some resources! You can always look at my Author Website Resource page for ideas–and please send me ideas on what to include there!

For problems or questions about WordPress, refer to the WordPress Codex.

WRITING A BLOG – GOING DEEPER

31dbbb2After your website it up and going, you may still want some hints and advice on building a strong blog. Darren Rouse, owner of Problogger.net has this great tutorial that will keep you going for the second month. He is one of the original people talking about how to make money online with blogging and he’s still one of the best. This book is a simple, easy-to-do collection of tasks that will make your website even stronger. After two months of concentrated effort on your site, you’re well on your way to success!
Darren Rouse’s 31 Days to a Better Blog

EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS AND MARKETING

Every website needs a way to collect names of fans. After you finish your first month or two, you should look into getting this set up. Own your audience!

Mailchimp is my preference because it’s easy to set up and it’s free until you get 2000 subscribers. After that, the prices go up on $5 increments as your list expands, so it’s easy to live with.

28 Mar

Author Website Tech: Launch

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Launch Your Author Website

WWW under construction building website

First and most important, make your website available to search engines.
under Setting/Reading: For Search Engine Visibility, UNCHECK the box for “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.”

You will waste LOTS of time and effort if search engines can’t see your site! Don’t do a launch without doing this step first.

Plan an author website launch with as much care as a book launch–it’s launching your career. Use all your social media contacts to send people to look around. Hold a virtual party, with book giveaways for prizes. Or quietly announce the site to a few friends and ask them to tell friends. It’s up to you. Are you a big party planner or a quiet, introverted writer who just wants to get it right? Plan the website launch your way.

As you get feedback, tweak. Websites are works in progress, always.
And finally, enjoy. A well-functioning website should bring in readers–who come back. Because you planned for them to come back.

Congratulations!
Tomorrow,is one last tip on how to keep your site going.

(And be sure to invite me to the party!)


Launch your author website carefully--it is launching your career.

Launch your author website carefully–it is launching your career.


27 Mar

Author Website Content: Beta Readers

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Calling All Grammar Witches: Beta Readers for Your Site

WWW under construction building website

You’re just days away from launching your new and improved Author Website. Now’s the time to proofread, test links and make sure everything is working! Recruit friends (and enemies?) to click around and make sure the site works.

  • Links. Click on every single link to make sure it works.
  • Grammar and Spelling. Grammar Witches, i love you. I’ll do everything you tell me to do.
  • Photos. Add photos to every page, because it makes it more appealing.
  • Tweak posts. OK, you’re a writer. You will be tweaking every single post. Just don’t stress out over this; write the best you can and let it go.

Fix everything that is reported to you. Make sure everything is in order for launch.

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