Tag Archives: marketing

Your Author Platform: Four Key Strategies from a Marketing Professional

by Linda Thompson

I’ve seen the questions come across the 10 Minute Novelists’ feed:

  • What is this thing called “platform”?

  • Should I be building one?

  • How would I do it and what would I even say to the world?

I’m well familiar with the angst behind those questions. I’ve also sat squirming in front of an editor at a writers’ conference who seemed intrigued by my story, but wouldn’t take the next step because my platform metrics failed to impress. So I know that angst too!

I’m in the “pre-published” stage myself. I definitely do not have all the answers—although I have a stumbled and bumbled my way to a few tactics that are generating consistent growth for my platform. And since I’ve spent a couple decades as a marketing professional, perhaps I have a slightly different vantage point on this subject that might be worth sharing.

As a marketing professional, I see fellow authors investing their marketing effort in ways I’m pretty confident are mistakes.

“But, Linda,” I hear you say. “I don’t even have a book. Why should I worry about building my platform?”

Because social media is a bit like investing.

Your nest egg grows over time. So the earlier you start, the more time you have for your following to snowball to the point where it can give you needed momentum for your book launch. Start building your platform now then later, when it matters more, you’ll have something to brag about. 

Your Author Platform: Four Key Strategies from a Marketing Professional

First, Some Fundamentals

“Marketing” can be a scary term, especially for the introverted writer-type! But in truth marketing is the art and science of finding the best fit between a product and an audience who will delight in it. When it’s done right, the result is the proverbial “marriage made in heaven” and mutual joy!

That’s the result we all want, right?

There was once a misconception that marketing consisted of slick people sitting around in conference rooms coming up with clever slogans designed to manipulate the public into buying stuff.  Perhaps marketing looked a little more like that in the days when the main avenues to talk to buyers were mass-market channels: TV, radio, newspaper or magazine ads.

But if that was ever really the model, the Internet has largely done away with it.  Today you can micro-target your exact customer. For most businesses, that makes way more sense than blaring a message out to a broad audience.

Which leads us to…

Strategy #1: Be Clear About Your Audience

Marketing today is about defining your audience as precisely as possible so you can speak directly to your highest-probability customer. I recently heard a social media maven go so far as to state that, if someone’s not your ideal customer, your marketing efforts should scare them off—so you won’t be tempted to waste time with them!

I wouldn’t go that far, but I do think of my potential platform audience as a bullseye with my highest-probability reader in the center. And where am I aiming my outreach efforts? At the center of the bullseye, for the most part. The people who not only are likely to enjoy my story, but who will also identify with the passion behind it. My “why” for writing. Those will be my “lifers” who will follow me book after book and might even be prepared to forgive me the occasional awkward sentence or flat stretch of dialog.

Which in turn leads us to…

Mistake #1:

Here is the biggest point I hope you’ll take away. I see a lot of writers who seem to spend the bulk of their time and effort talking to… other writers. Writing blog posts focused on writing. Putting up writing-themed updates on social media, tagged to #amwriting and #amediting. Exchanging follows with other writers on Instagram and Twitter.

This is a great strategy if you’re hoping to sell craft books or editing services to writers. But if you’re hoping to sell books to readers, you need to spend most of your effort developing relationships with them

Do we need some time to recharge around Katharine’s invisible snack table with our 10 Minute besties who understand our secret struggles in our writers’ garrets? Sure. Plus, relationships with influential writers will be important when it’s time to seek endorsements.

But at some point, we need to leave the space where the (virtual) coffee is warm and the donuts are fresh, and get out there and talk to readers.

My novel is based on a true story. In 1942, my protagonist watched her little brother die on the street, a casualty of the first Allied bombing raid on Japan.

By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame. The U.S. airman responsible for her brother’s death returns to Japan as a Christian missionary. She resolves to restore her honor by avenging her brother’s death—even if it will cost her own life. 

An author friend of mine put it this way. My best reader will be someone who cares about three things—Christian faith, military aviation history, Asian culture. My second-best reader will be someone who’s passionate about two of the three, but I can convince them to care about the third.

So my “bulls-eye” reader will be a passionate Christian who is also interested in military history and in Asian cultures. They’re going to skew middle-aged or older and conservative in values. They might well be veterans or members of military households. I believe my storyline has appeal for both men and women, but women read more fiction, and more historical fiction, so on balance, I expect more female readers.

Wow, that’s pretty specific. Is that audience big enough?

According to Facebook’s ad manager, that audience has hundreds of thousands of English-speaking members. Definitely enough to make my li’l old book a success, if I connect with them.

I certainly hope these will not be the only people who will read my novel—it’s a bit like preaching to the choir. But the choir is the best place to generate some volume. These should be the people who will line up to buy my book at launch and give it awesome reviews so other readers will discover it. This is another great way to build my platform. 

Strategy #2: Show Up Where Your Audience Is

Understand how they shop for books. Understand how they read—print, Kindle, iBooks etc.

Above all, understand where to find them on social media. I try to make myself visible on Facebook groups for people who fit my target audience—in fact, it’s been my most productive tactic so far. I started by friending a few people who post regularly in each group. I get notifications when those friends post, so I get reminded to go see what’s up in the group.

Quite a few of those folks have supported my author page and my blog.

Katharine Grubb’s wonderful eBook, Conquering Twitter in Ten Minutes a Day, has some great strategies for finding your people on Twitter.

Mistake #2: Focusing Marketing Efforts on Avid Readers

What? Didn’t you just tell me to focus on readers?

Yes, but there are readers and then there are those who identify as avid readers. And this one is probably not a mistake, but it’s a tactic many writers appear to rely on too much. The right strategy will make all the difference in your platform. 

Let me expand on what I mean. Goodreads, Bookbub, Facebook groups like “Books Place” are all tools for reaching the avid reader. Unfortunately, in our day and age, those readers are a small percentage of the total audience. Absolutely, we should reach out to them. But viral sales won’t happen there—and to be honest, I’m actually suspicious authors outnumber readers on those venues!

Our best sales success will “only happen when we mobilize that fat part of the bell curve—those who aren’t avid readers but will read one or two books per year—yet these people are, by definition, the hardest to impress.” (Kristen Lamb, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World. Awesome book on book marketing if you haven’t read it.)

Classic book marketing strategies won’t work for these fat-bell-curve readers. If they ever even see our “buy my book” ads, they’ll take one glance, think, “Fair enough, if you’re one of those readers” and move on.

That’s why you need to be hanging out where your targeted, non-avid reader hangs out. Because they’re way more likely to choose your book for their one or two a year if they have some kind of relationship with you.

Strategy #3: Be Clear about Your Message

You don’t have a novel yet. But the goal is to start collecting a “tribe” who’s interested in the kind of stories you tell. Your novel is about something bigger than that specific story. You can start collecting an audience around your stance on that something bigger—your big themes.

Trust me, you don’t have to “be someone” to garner an audience on Twitter or Instagram. There are tons of accounts with big followings that we don’t even know who they are in real life! All you need is to be able to curate content that:

  • Interests and engages your target reader and
  • Makes you likeable and trustworthy to them

Post content on Twitter a LOT—it doesn’t have to be your own content, it can be retweets—and then look at Katharine’s book for ways to identify your target readers. Go out and introduce yourself to them by following aggressively. As long as your tweets resonate with your target reader, your following should grow over time. (People are more grudging with their “likes” on Facebook. Maybe Katharine will let me cover some details of the tactics I’ve picked up there in another post.)

Hint: if your content is mostly “let me tell you about my writing,” it’s probably not going to be as effective as you might wish, especially if your book is further out on the time horizon! A little of that is okay… you want people to know you’re hard at work on your novel. But mostly, you want to post about those big themes we discussed earlier.

In my case, I post about bold Biblical Christianity; about patriotism and WWII history; and to a lesser degree about Japanese culture. That might not make me interesting, likeable or trustworthy to your reader, but it seems to be reaching mine.

Strategy #4: Relax. It’s Actually Fun!

I thought “building a platform” would be scary and a huge time sink. And to some extent it is. But on the other hand, you’re probably writing for your audience because you like them. So it’s not actually that hard to put out your “I’m an Author” shingle (or do the modern equivalent—put up your Facebook author page 😊 ) and get out (virtually speaking) and mingle with them. In essence that’s what you’re being asked to do.

Happy interacting!

Linda


Linda Thompson

Linda Thompson has spent decades as a marketing professional, solving business strategy and awareness problems for technology companies. She’s published a long list of trade-journal articles and marketing literature, but The Plum Blooms in Winter is her first novel. Based on a true story from the pivotal Doolittle Raid of World War II, the manuscript won the 2016 American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest in the historical category. Linda is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of WordServe Literary. Linda blogs on the topic of Five Stones and a Sling: Stories of Reckless Faith at lthompsonbooks.com/blog.

How Book Marketing is Like Flirting, Dating, and Getting Engaged

By Rebecca Waters

You’ve written a book. You may have a publisher or agent. You may have decided to publish the book yourself. Whatever path you take, there are marketing decisions you will make that will help or hinder book sales.

This post examines stuff not in your book. It is a look at the cover: the front and back of your book. It describes marketing in terms of what people see when they pick up the book or scroll through a pile of possible reads on Amazon or Goodreads. This is often your first contact with readers outside your mom and a close circle of friends.

How Marketing is Like Flirting, Dating and Getting Engaged by Rebecca Waters

Marketing is like flirting

Your smile catches the eye of that certain someone. Remember? In the same way, the book cover and title catches the eye of the reader.
–Rebecca Waters

Let’s start with the front cover. You have a say in your book cover. Take a look at best-selling books in your genre. What elements do they have in common? What do you like about the covers? Once you have researched your genre, sketch out a few ideas. You need not be an artist to capture your thoughts. Do the best you can and label the parts. Your publisher will run a few ideas by you, but it’s good to have researched your genre and considered a few ideas yourself.

If you are indie publishing, make sure your cover is a high-resolution image. You can hire a graphic artist or use an online tool such as Canva to create your book cover. I used a high-resolution photo and a free template on Canva to create the cover for the Marketing You and Your Writing 101.

Make sure the picture on the front matches the content. Check the lettering against the background color and image. You don’t want the title to get “lost in the clouds” or be hidden in the trees. Be sure to try the title out on the image you’ve selected before publishing. For my first novel, the publisher sent me the cover photos separate from the title. I was disappointed when I realized the title didn’t stand out on the print version of my book.

The title is another way to catch the interest of potential readers. Although traditional publishers have the right to change the title of your book, careful research of the title you propose will help you land on a successful name for your book.

There are trends in titles. For instance, a few years ago it was popular to include numbers. We see trends from time-to-time in one-word titles. Again, look to your genre to see what sells. And, of course, make sure your title connects with your content. Examine your book carefully for phrases or themes you may weave into the name of the book. Good marketing means being aware of what other products are doing too. 

Marketing is like dating

Dating is that time in a relationship when you get to know the other person. It is that period of time when you make a decision about whether or not to continue seeing one another. You want your reader to want you…okay, you want them to want your book… but it still is a relationship you want to foster. If you were successful in the flirting stage, your potential reader has turned the book over or in the case of Amazon, started reading the book blurb to see if they want to pursue this relationship. Marketing is much like this. 

Draft a compelling book blurb. If you have written a nonfiction work, tell how your book differs from other books. If you write fiction, give enough of the story to grab the reader’s attention. Draw on the premise statement you used for your book proposal. Read the blurbs of popular authors in your genre. You will get a feel for how much info you need to include.

Remember that “boring” date? He or she was yammering on and on about something you would have preferred to learn on your own? You don’t want to make that mistake. Keep your book blurb short and intriguing. This is the book description. Save talking about yourself for the author bio or in the case of Amazon, the Author Page.

Want more tips? Check out Rebecca’s newest book, Designing A Business Plan for Writers.

This leads us to another facet of the dating stage –getting to know the object of your affection. Make sure your “about the author” paragraph is an accurate portrayal of you without all the details of your life. Make it fun and interesting. Include your credentials if you are writing nonfiction. Offer other writing successes for both fiction and nonfiction works. Your potential reader likes to know enough about your past to see if you might be a good match. And while we’re at it, look closely at the bio you offer on other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. While they don’t need to be exactly the same in form, the information should be consistent and send out the same vibe. We simply don’t like dating someone with multiple personalities!

The headshot. Make sure you have a professional headshot for the back cover of your book. You’ll use this same picture for your author page on Amazon and for your social media accounts.

“DO NOT USE A SELFIE.”–Rebecca Waters

If you can’t find a good deal for a professional photo with all digital rights, at the very least have a friend with a good camera take several pictures of you and see if you can use one of those. Crop out the tree coming out of your head and the man standing in the background making faces.

I have a friend who uses a picture of him standing by the Ganges River. His wife took the photo. It’s a good shot. Moreover, because his book is about his work with various indigenous people groups of India, it gives the book credibility.

One other word of advice: Make sure your headshot is current. Don’t try to fool those readers and followers you are still that young brunette if indeed you had that picture made ten years ago.

Once, I was invited to a panel of writers at a library celebration in Kentucky. I was pretty excited since there were several well-known authors on the panel with me. I couldn’t wait for one of my favorite writers to arrive. Imagine my surprise when I realized the gray-headed woman at the next table was the woman I had followed and read for years. She had to be seventy-years-old. The picture on her books and blog were taken at least thirty years ago.

“Portraying yourself as you were in an old photo is not like taking off your make-up with that special someone around. It’s more like removing a mask.”
— Rebecca Waters

Marketing is like getting engaged

This is it –that dream come true moment. A guy gives a girl a diamond ring. Your reader gives you a sale. And if you deliver what you promised, it could be a relationship that lasts forever.


Rebecca Williams WatersRebecca Waters’ freelance work has resulted in articles for Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Prior to publishing her first novel, Breathing on Her Own, Rebecca was a college professor and speaker on the Ohio Writing Project circuit. Author of Breathing on Her Own (2014) Snag the bookLearn more! Visit my site & Read my blog  Let’s connect! Follow me on Twitter & Like me on Facebook.

Top 10 Ways Marketing Your Books Is Like Exploring A Jungle

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Some authors would call marketing an adventure.

Yet other authors would call marketing a long, torturous, mosquito ridden trek full of disease, peril and snakes. In some ways finding buyers for your books is easier than exploring the Amazonian jungle.

If you have studied, worked, created, drafted, revised, edited and completed a novel, it’s unlikely you took the time to learn the skills to sell it.

And because it seems hard, as hard as hacking your way through a rain forest, you may have a negative opinion of it.

You may think that to sell, then you may have to be annoying to buyers, like a jungle mosquito. To sell, you think you may have to cajole, manipulate, and lie, like a disreputable tour guide who brought you out into the forest to take your wallet. You may also believe you have to yell the name of my book as obnoxiously as a howler monkey to get attention. Or tweet constantly. You may think you have to send auto DMs. And it’s likely You may think you have to spend a lot of money, buy ad space, get onto every single social media platform, harass local bookstores, and whatever else to gain potential readers and convince them your book is worth buying.

No matter what you think about selling your book, if you are going to have readers, a make any kind of money, you’re going to have the face the jungle of marketing.

Top 10 Ways Marketing Your Books Is Like Exploring A Jungle by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

1. Surviving in the jungle is a day to day, moment by moment process, not a one time thing you do.

Marketing is the same way. To succeed, you need to look at the long-term for yourself as an author. You need to slowly build relationships, one reader at a time. You need to be patient, because the only way to have a big readership ten years from now is to work on it as much as you can now. If you want to play an interactive game about exploring the jungle, click here!

2. As you bushwhack through the jungle, you get stronger.

The marketing and publicity I do next week, next month, or next year is easier because I worked at it today. Don’t know where to start? Contact your local library and tell them that you’re a an author. They may want to stock your book, hold an event or keep you in mind for future events. Then, contact local bookstores, consignment shops, senior centers, your local newspaper, local access television, anything  that gets your name out there, helps you engage with the public and may lead to sales. As you get used to talking about yourself, more opportunities will present themselves, you’ll make more connections and marketing won’t be so awful. Here’s a video from a guy who decided to take a camera into the jungle. 

3. You need to be prepared for anything.

A jungle explorer has a kit , pack, malaria tablets, ways to find water and probably something sharp to kill dangerous critters. Book marketers should carry business cards and their books with them. They should be prepared for the “what do you do” question. Marketers should have a 30 second pitch ready. Also, they should have a calendar to schedule an event. They shouldn’t shrink when people ask anything, because they may just sell a book. I’ve sold several books because I was prepared, confident and was willing to make a sale right there. You may also find the wisdom of Guns and Roses helpful in this situation too. 

4. The trails may not be trustworthy.

In marketing, it’s a good idea to study what’s effective for others, but in reality, you have to find your own way. Your book is unique to the world so it will have it’s own marketing journey. What works for some may not work for you. But that doesn’t mean you quit, it just means you sharpen your machete and keep hacking. While you read over your notes, listen to these rainforest sounds!

5. If you’re headed in the wrong direction, you could find yourself in trouble.

I have absolutely no desire to get lost in a forest, Amazonian or otherwise. I also have no desire to waste time and resources on marketing that won’t yield a return. This is the tricky part. We’re the only ones who decide what works and what doesn’t. Marketing plans are just that plans. They need to be flexible. You need to be willing forget the latest social media trend and try a local craft fair, if you think you need to. Everyone who successfully markets has to try and keep trying until something finally works. This guy camped for two nights in the rainforest and took a video of it!

6. There’s always something to learn.

Scientists are still finding species of plants and animals they’ve never found before in the deepest parts of the jungle. They’re discovering that there is more to learn. Writers need to be willing to learn too. Learn all you can about marketing and publicity, but also keep learning about craft and creativity too! National Geographic is a great resource for learning about the jungle. 

7. Rewards come through persevering.

Now you may not conquer a land and you certainly won’t find lost cities of gold, but you will find your own personal treasure if you don’t give up.  The small gig you had at the library lead to this book club, which lead to this bookstore appearance which led to this other opportunity. It’s slow, tedious and sometimes disappointing. If you quit because it gets hard, then you have know idea what success could have been yours. Here’s a video from the BBC. I love them. 

 8. Jungle exploring is for the strong, so is marketing. 
The wisest of explorers would be knowledgeable about their physical strengths and weaknesses so they succeed. Likewise, a good marketing plan should make the most of the author’s strengths. Some of us are great at Twitter. Some  don’t have a good voice for radio. Others are afraid that our big hair will overpower any television set. That’s fine. Figure out what you can do, what you’re good at, what comes naturally to you and what seems to be effective and do it! Wanna explore the Amazon? These folks can show you how!
9. An effective marketing plan, like a jungle journey Is deliberate and thoughtful, not impulsive.
Which means that TIME needs to be invested in creating it and then implementing it. My personal plan starts locally with libraries, bookstores and coffee shops. Then I’m expanding to Google searches with a few key words in my target market. I can’t assume that one blog post or one tweet is all I need to be successful. If you’re ever inclined to canoe in the jungle, just watch this. 
10. Next, a good marketing plan is useless unless the book is EXCELLENT. 
If you are offering a slipshod product with no editing and bad artwork you are insulting writers everywhere. You are attacking the dignity of this art. You’re telling the world that you disrespect your readers and yourself. Do us all a favor and get it right first. I don’t know how to tie this into the jungle/exploring metaphor. If you think of a way, leave me a comment.

Finally, if you still haven’t caught the metaphor, marketing is like a neophyte jungle explorer with a coffee stained map in one hand and a machete in the other, who hacks and trudges through the rainforest hoping not to be eaten alive by local fauna.

If you’ve tried to sell a book, you know this is true.

This is what marketing is: you’re on the hunt for contacts, relationships, attention and sales. You’re looking for the perfect opportunity just like a entymologist is looking for the rare species. Like a jungle explorer, you’ve learned the lingo, you’ve trod carefully and you know the shadows around can smell your fear. And you wonder sometimes if you’ll succeed, get malaria or get lost.

To sum up: It IS a jungle out there, but with the right tools, the right attitude and perseverance, you can survive marketing your book. 

Just don’t forget the mosquito repellent. 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

Top 10 Reasons Why Reciprocal Reviews Are Unethical

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

This has the potential of being my most controversial post yet.

And I like controversy about as much as I like snooty  moms asking me personal questions about the decisions I made in the raising of my children.

But I believe that reciprocal reviews for authors are unethical, unprofessional and unnecessary. 

Unfortunately, the idea of “you review my book and I’ll review yours” is a common one among writers, especially self-published writers who are just starting out. The necessity of good reviews and the belief that reviews alone will generate sales is a faulty one. So this behavior of reciprocating favorable reviews can nudge an author into a tempting but ethically slippery situation. My friend Jane Steen, who has written a great deal about ethical behavior for authors, has this to say about reciprocal reviews. But below, I have my take on the issue.

Top 10 Reasons Why Reciprocal Reviews Are Unethical by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

But  I believe that reciprocal reviews have the potential of being unethical simply because any quid pro quo arrangement could be intentionally tainted, possibly inaccurate and maybe even dishonest.

1. On their own, individual reviews don’t make a huge difference. Let’s be honest. While it helpful to have some reviews on Amazon.com, it’s like throwing a bucket of water on the house fire. You’re doing something but it won’t be enough. It is far better to have an accumulation of them, from actual readers, all with a variety of opinions about your story. Too many five star reviews is just as suspicious as no reviews at all.

2. Someone in a reciprocal arrangement is getting the short end of the stick. You hand me over your copy of  Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses‘and you yank a copy of Falling For Your Madness out of my hands and the idea, you say, is that we both write a review.So then I read Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses and I discover a lot of problems. I may find tons of spelling and grammatical errors. I may also discover the work is derivative or sloppy or badly formatted or kinda dumb. You give my book a solid 4 star review. But it would be a stretch to give yours two. So you come out with a loss. Unless I lie and give you a four or five star review, which goes against my conscience.  At that point the loss is mine. This idea of reciprocity sounds even, but it’s not. Not by a long shot.

3. Reciprocal reviews do not build up trust, do not strengthen friendships, rarely improve one’s writing — they just boost numbers. What if the case is reversed and I give your Princess Zombie book five stars and you give my FFYM two? Wouldn’t my feelings get hurt? Wouldn’t I avoid asking you in the future? If we both lie, just to make each other comfortable, we’re not doing either of us any favors.

No one is going to stop you from soliciting reciprocal reviews from your writer friends.

It’s likely you can collect a few dozen and no one will notice.

But in the long run, your reputation could be at stake.

4. Art is subjective. The whole 1-5 star system is not a very good one. I once got a two star review because the reader thought that I didn’t give enough attention to the suffering mother as she gave birth in my story. (Oh, and you better believe I wanted to respond to that!) This imperfect system already has too much corruption and too many people who take advantage of it. Reserve your reviews for books that you read, not books that someone is making you read.  That way you can enjoy the subjectivity of our art and be free to leave the reviews you want to about it.

5. Reciprocal Reviews turn a gift into an act of commerce. We give our heart and souls into our work for our readers. If we’re lucky, our readers respond to our art with their reviews, recommendations, follows or other examples of reader love. A reciprocal review, by someone that has already agreed to a favorable report, cheapens the act of art itself.

6. Reciprocal reviews tell yourself and the world that you don’t have the means to earn success through your own merit. Why do we even publish if we’re going to manipulate the system? Personally, I want to be known as a great writer. I want it to be because of my skills, my craftsmanship, my own hard work. If I depend on the manipulations of others to become great, then the victories will be far emptier.

And believe me, I’ve got far better things to do than check on you. 

But that doesn’t make it right nor fair.

7.  Reciprocal reviews are like gift exchanges at Christmas. The best gifts are those that you give. They’re the ones that you’ve thought about, that you’ve worked for, that you’ve discovered is the perfect gift for someone you love.  So not only do you give the gift, you give the meaning and affection behind the gift. But if you give a gift because you have to, then you think about equal values and “what if she gives me something nicer” and the whole reason that you give gifts in the first place, out of love and affection, is completely squashed.

8. The goal of reciprocal reviews is fairness. Fairness is a poor marketing strategy. Generosity, however, is an excellent one. Seth Godin in his book, Linchpin, said, “Stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating art that matters. Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people. Then, and only then, will you have achieved your potential.” I believe this. I’d like to stop looking to the people around me to judge what is expected of me, like a reciprocal review. Instead, I want to look for ways to be generous and not expect anything. I believe this is the way to grow long term relationships which is far better than one review.

9. Reciprocal Reviews are based on fear. If I had you a copy of Falling For Your Madness, my fingers are crossed that you’ll like it. I’ll hope that the comments you make in your review are worth the effort it took to read the book. Hope is too positive of a word. I”ll probably be very anxious and fretful — hoping that my review of your book is fair enough. I may even go so far to count words.  If you bought it, I’ve already received my compensation. I’ll stand firm in the quality of the book and not be afraid of what you’ll say in your review. I have enough to stress out about in my life, thank you very much.

There is no such thing as an Author Ethics police. This is all the more reason to govern ourselves in the most excellent way to get reviews. 

10. Reciprocal Reviews are unethical if they hide facts from the readers. The act of hiding anything looks bad. If you avoid reciprocal reviews then you don’t have to worry about Amazon.com or anyone else connecting one of your readers with a review you left. I know that I don’t want any hint of impropriety linked to my name. I’d rather pass on your offer of reciprocity than risk an accusation of wrongdoing or misleading readers in the future.

Sales are great, good reviews are good too.

But our character and reputation lasts much longer.

Say no to reciprocal reviews and put yourself in the best possible light. 

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Everybody wants their blog to be noticed.

But in reality, that’s a little tricky. According to Tumblr stats, there are 375 million on Tumblr alone, that’s one for every person living in the United States. That stat doesn’t count WordPress and other blogging platforms. Writers are constantly encouraged to blog more, but getting noticed is becoming more and more difficult.

How do you get more traffic to your blog? Follow the meme #MondayBlogs!

The#MondayBlogs idea is brilliant. On Mondays, anybody who wants to can post a link to their blog and those who follow that hashtag, on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, can find new blogs to read and new writers to enjoy. In theory, those who participate read each others’ blogs, RT and favorite the heck out of them so that the whole world can discover this new talent. I have found dozens of new readers this way and I love doing this.

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

How Can I Get More RTs On Twitter?

I would LOVE to RT and favorite everyone who participates in #MondayBlogs on Twitter, but honestly, often the headlines or tweets that contain the link are so lifeless and dull that I’m not the least bit interested in them. I’d like to suggest, with a few changes in the tweets, all of us could see good results. I’ve listed a few things I’ve noticed (and things I try to implement) —and I’ve written some over-the-top silly blog title headlines to get the point across.

1. It’s All In The Headline

Consider your #MondayBlogs Tweet as a headline of the original post. The more concise and clear, the better. “My Thoughts on Dyeing” is terrible. Be specific. “Why I Dread Coloring My Hair This Summer” is much clearer and much more interesting. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Who” “What” “Why” or “How” and fill in the rest!

2. Follow Headline Rules, like Capitalize Each Important First Letter

This makes your tweet look more grown-up and polished. Tweets like “five ways to get your cat to sing” are wimpy and indifferent and I certainly wouldn’t be interested. But “Five Ways To Get Your Cat To Sing” at least looks like you’re trying.

3. As Tempted As You Might Be, Don’t Say “New Blog Post”

 Duh. We know. Just leave us a link. We can figure it out. Whenever I see this, I conclude that the writer is unimaginative or stuck in 1999 or both.

Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs
Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs

4. Put As Much Thought Into The Headline As You Did Into The Post Itself

Use vibrant verbs. Keep it Short. Pretend for a minute that it isn’t a blog post, but a magazine article and these first few words are on the cover of Cosmo. (It would be best, though to keep it rated G, unlike Cosmo). “Top Ten Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy” is a little long, but it’s clear. I could have also gone with “Your Blog Title Sucks. So Fix It!” But I’m trying to be helpful. And nice.

5. Use Numbers

I asked someone a few weeks ago what their biggest pet peeve on Twitter was and they answered that seeing this: “Eight Ways To Use Your Crock Pot for Cleaning” and “Top Ten Toothbrushes for Dogs”  — the numbers in the title seemed to be too much. A pet peeve? Really? Folks, this is good headline writing. If you can quantify the contents of your blog post into a list and then use that list in the title, you’ve got something interesting. This is exactly why I write all my blog posts in Top 10 lists. My blog posts have structure, continuity and all I have to come  up with are ten points and I’m done.

6. Exaggerate A Little

“Folding Chair Options That Will Change Your Life Forever” Well of course, it won’t exactly change my life, but the exaggeration might compel me to at least click the link and see what the fuss is about. I love the fact that Twitter is so casual, you can get away with a little exaggeration and hyperbole and it may make you all the more charming.

7. Be Funny

 Now not everyone can do this well. But if you can use humor in your headlines or tweets do it! Humor is powerful. If you can get a smirk or a chuckle or a LOL out of someone, you’ve won half the battle. If you can be funny consistently, then you are building a reputation for wit and comedy that can bring readers to you.

8. Sell You, Not Your Book

 As tempting as it is to say, “My Romantic Comedy for Ninjas is $.99 today” for #MondayBlogs. Please don’t do it. I personally find this off-putting. We all have books to sell. Instead, tell me something about you, something you’re struggling with, something that demonstrates how much we have common. Then, after I get to know you, and discover how awesome you are, I’ll be happy to buy your book and maybe even interview you here about it!

9. Study Other Headlines

Spend twenty minutes and read all the headlines in your magazines and newspapers. See if you can make your blog titles just as pithy and pointed as those writers did. There is a REASON why headlines are designed the way that they are and professional writers are trained to capture readers’ attention. Learn from them. If you call yourself a pro, then act like it!

10. Consider the Blog Post Itself

If your having trouble writing a headline for your 1500 words on your writing angst, then there may be a reason. Keep your blog posts simple and to the point, then you’ll see that the titles are much easier to write.

Learn From The Experts

And do a little research on your own! Here is a fascinating article on Forbes about headline writing. And another list of very practical suggestions from author Jeff Goins.

And a whole honkin’ bunch of articles from Copyblogger. Really, after all this information, there’s no reason why your headlines need to suck.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Do you have any suggestions to add?

There Has Never Been a Better Time In History to be a Writer

But the downside to that is that we are competing against each other for readers. We must be willing to  be our very best with every tweet, every status update, every blog post. Don’t get lazy with things like this. Put your best foot, uh, I mean tweet forward and see what happens.

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist and Mother of Five

 

Becoming an author is like becoming a parent. 

The writing of the book, was the pregnancy. You conceived the idea in a romantic, intimate moment.

You developed it secretly in the dark. You wrote while stuffing your face with all kinds of snacks. You tried to explain your characters and your plot to others and they just didn’t understand. And the length of the ms got bigger and bigger. And you wondered will I ever get this done? Will I be waiting for the arrival forever? 

And the big day comes!

You get your little bundle of joy from Createspace or some other expert labor and delivery establishment! You count all of the pages to make sure that it is all there!  You think that your book is the most beautiful and the most amazing thing that was ever created! And you tell all your friends! You post it on Facebook! There has never been a book before this book! No one will be a better author than you!

And then the novelty is over.

The well wishers have bought their copies. You realize that you’re the one up all night with the little buggar. You second guess yourself, are you the best marketer you could be? Amazon Kindle sales are nice but the reviews aren’t as complete as you’d like. The sales are only trickles. You thought that perhaps something significant would happen now, something bigger? The blues come on you and you don’t know what to do. One star reviews smell like dirty diapers. Rejection letters are the mean toddlers who throw sand on the play date. And then there’s that other author close to you who says, “I would never do that to my book! What are you thinking? What kind of an author are you?”

This metaphor can go on forever. 

Just like parenting, we often don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to marketing our books. Just like parenting, we read good advice and we try it, but it doesn’t always work for us. Just like parenting, we have great aspirations, but sometimes we get caught up in our own inadequacies and our own faults. Sometimes the frustration of knowing what is best for us is overwhelming.

Like parenting, if we are going to market our books, we kind of have to figure it out as we go. 

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing is Like Good Parenting by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

1. A good parent does what they can when they can. You don’t fill out college applications the day after coming home from the hospital. A good marketer understands that there are seasons for their book, look at the process in the long term and gives themselves grace.

2. A good parent has low expectations. A first time author should have them too. I haven’t  met a mother of a toddler yet that  didn’t. If you’re a first time author, understand that you won’t sell thousands of books. That’s okay. You’ve got your future ahead of you.

3. A good parent attends to the basics automatically. For a parent, that means having baby fed, washed, nurtured and well rested. For an author, that means having the manuscript well-written, well-edited, well-covered, and accessible to readers on the most basic of platforms, like Kindle direct. As your platform and skill set grows, your accomplishments will too.

4. A good parent doesn’t compare their kid or their style to another parent’s child or style. A good book marketer doesn’t either. What works well for your friend’s book, Amish Zombie Princesses won’t work for your book, Lint Art for the Lonely.  Like parenting, our marketing journey is a personal one and we have to choose what’s best for us and not judge others’ choices.

5. A good parent knows parenting is a game of inches. Children don’t master good manners in one lesson. It takes years. Authors who market should understand this too. A first book gains a few readers, the next book gains more. This game — parenting and marketing — is not for the impatient.

6. A good parent uses their community. Who hasn’t asked a friend, neighbor or family member to watch a child? What parent hasn’t depended on a social group to help them out? Authors need community too. If nothing else, an author’s community can encourage him, help promote, help fine tune and show how things can be done.

7. A good parent manages their time the best they can. They have an understanding of what must be done and figures out ways to get it done. A marketing author does this too. The engage with their readers without being too distracted. They delegate. They learn how much they can do in 10 minute increments.

8. A good parent takes reasonable risks. They want their children to stretch themselves, try new things and grow. A good marketer does this too. They aren’t afraid of speaking to the librarian at their local branch or calling the local paper. Both parent and marketing author knows you never know what great thing could happen if you try!

9. A good parent knows the “rules” but makes them work for their situation. A good marketing author does too. They’ve read marketing blogs, they understand generosity, they’ve taken great notes. Then they get good ideas and apply the principles their way.

10. A good parents sees the differences in their children and nurtures them accordingly. A good author may also see that each of their books opens doors that the other one can’t. They also aren’t afraid to learn from their mistakes and do better with children and books this time around.

Authors should take another lesson from parents — just because you do everything “right” doesn’t mean that there are guarantees. Parenting is fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, pain and expense. But then, it’s awesome and joyful and exhilarating.

But like parenting, marketing will take hard work, trial and error, risk-taking, expenses, time, energy, possible humiliation, disappointment, regret, sleepless nights, and the list is endless.

So are you a good parent/marketer?  What other similarities do you see? What has parenting taught you about marketing?

Top 10 Reasons To Treat Twitter Like A Big Cocktail Party by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Imagine yourself in a packed football stadium — one of the big ones like Gillette or Lucas Oil. Now imagine that every one in attendance at that stadium is shouting at the same time.

BIRDS

They aren’t shouting to players on the field, they’re not even watching the game, instead, they are trying to get the attention of the people on the other side of the stadium. Everyone in the stadium, including you, wants attention from others. Everyone wants to be known as clever. They want subscribers or followers or friends or likes. Everyone in the stadium wants the attention of everyone else in the stadium. This isn’t a great way to communicate. It’s chaotic, disorganized and discouraging.

Twitter can be like that for authors.

Yet, authors often hear stories of how books are sold, tribes have increased, and deals are made. Somehow Twitter works for those who know how to work it.

But if all you do on Twitter is shout into the crowd with no plan, no target and no order, you’ll probably come away disappointed.

BIRDS

Perhaps we should think of Twitter as a cocktail party instead.

Top 10 Reasons To Treat Twitter Like A Big Cocktail Party by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

If you go to a cocktail party, your purpose is not ever to shout. Instead, you extend your hand, make small talk, find common interests, and exchange information with the guests there. Everyone has the same purpose — to get attention — but a party is more relaxed. You can be yourself. You can take your time. A cocktail party is a manageable way to start relationships because it’s based in conversation, not shouting.

These nine tips can help you make Twitter less of a shouting match and more of a party.

BIRDS

If you follow these tips, you’ll start conversations, you’ll build relationships and eventually you’ll build your tribe.

1. Target specific types of people, not just other writers.  Other writers should not be your first market for selling your book. Instead, you should be looking for readers that meet your specific criteria. You know who you are looking for based on your genre, your setting, your themes, and characters. Take the time to think about your book and seek out readers who identify with certain aspects of it.

2. Ask questions of people you meet, don’t just say, “buy my book! It’s $.99!” Only blast tweets about their books.  If you are using Twitter as a an advertising medium, you are going to be disappointed. With the vast number of tweets every day, your message of “my Amish Zombie Princess romance is $.99” will get lost in the crowd. Questions, however, engage people who potentially could learn to love you.

3. Think long term. No social media platform guarantees instant success. To maximize the benefits of Twitter, you need to have a long term vision. Set a goal of following 50+ people a day. Schedule your blog post or “look at me” tweets but use the rest of your day to engage your followers and ask questions. You will see results if you commit to this daily, engage others and save the hard sell for something else.

4. Ask questions constantly and don’t overthink it. As you read people’s bios, ask them about their pets, their hometowns or who won last night’s game. You are going to have to get over yourself you are insecure or self conscious. Don’t waste this opportunity thinking “this sounds stupid” or “no one will respond”. Twitter moves so fast, that even if you do sound stupid, you can always tweet something else. Lighten up, ask questions and take chances.

5. Write an interesting noun-filled bio. At a cocktail party, you’re introduced with nouns, “Chip is an agent!” or “She’s a new mother!” or “He’s a marathoner!” The best nouns connect us to our jobs, roles, interesting hobbies and big dreams. It’s these nouns that will identify you to others and start conversations. Your bio should be a warm, friendly, specific introduction, not a CV or resume.

6. Search out relevant chats. There are dozens of chats on Twitter weekly. (My favorite? #10MinNovelists, every Thursday 9 PM EDT) Engage in one of them! You are likely to meet people in your target market who can encourage you. We all need community. We need encouragement, professional opinions and connections. I have meet dozens, if not hundreds of writers (my target market). Even if these writers never buy my books, I’m learning from them.  My writing life is all the richer for it.

7. Use hashtags appropriately. Hashtags are shortcuts to conversations. I’m the first person to volunteer to use one as a punchline, (#likethis #duh) but the purpose is to find common threads or topics quickly.  Your target market has its own set of hashtags. Find them! The people who use them are the people who may buy your book. The effort research is worth it.

8. Don’t treat Twitter like Facebook. It’s a waste of time to scroll through your Twitter feed to “catch up”. Twitter is so fast, that there is no need to go to where your 1200 followers left off yesterday and see what everyone had to say. Instead, create a list of your favorites or closest friends and check on them a couple of times a day. Use Hootsuite to track the threads of important hashtags. Find what’s trending and jump in the conversation, if you can’t catch up, don’t worry about it. Just go forward.

9. Make lists. Twitter allows for you to make lists to organize your followers. Use them. This will save time. Lists are also a great place to find more followers in your target market. And it’s perfectly fine to find followers from others’ lists — in fact if you may be able to find the lists created by others who share your target market (your competitors!) Take advantage of this: new connections are ripe for the taking.

10. Don’t get in a rush! Relationships take time. If you are antsy to make a sale, gain a reader or get a follower, it will show. And rushing relationships is a big turn off. Cocktail parties are meant to be relaxing — hence the cocktails. So pour yourself another glass, raise it high and toast to the beauty of good conversations through Twitter.

I love Twitter. I love its speed and its flexibility. I love that if I have an off week and don’t keep up with my tweets, I can pick up where I left off.

I love that writers everywhere are learning how to use it well. I love that most of my online connections have come through Twitter. But Twitter won’t work for you if you don’t know how to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses. So put away the football jersey and megaphone and slip into the little black dress.

Join the Twitter cocktail party, engage with others and have fun!


Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant more tips on how to make Twitter work for you? CONQUERING TWITTER in 10 MINUTES DAY is available for pre-order! Specifically written for authors, this book will help you think about yourself, your brand, your books, and your goals on Twitter, create great questions to ask and organize your time in such a way that you can get the most out of every tweet.

Available for $.99! 


Top 10 Ten Ways To Be There For Your Readers By Way Of ’90s Television

I firmly believe that your readers can be your friends.

I think that if you are a wise author, you are looking at your readers not as someone who bought, read and reviewed your book, but someone who, could potentially turn into a raving fan. 

The term raving fan was coined by Kenneth Blanchard to describe a customer who enthusiastically promotes a company or service and would be a lifelong fan of the people behind it.

In the writing world, we can have raving fans too.

A writer who has raving fans will have an army or coalition of people who will always buy what they publish, they will always leave good reviews, they may also comment on the Facebook page or communicate with you on other social media. But the most important thing they will do is passionately tell other people about you. 

You can’t get raving fans overnight. You have to cultivate the relationship. You have to be friends.

You know, FRIENDS. 

Top 10 Ten Ways To Be There For Your Readers  By Way of 90s Television by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

 

Top 10 Ten Ways To Be There For Your Readers By Way Of ’90s Television

1. Be as accessible to your readers as Chanler & Joey was to Monica & Rachel.   Your social media presence should be there to nurture relationships, not just push your sales. Carefully consider every way that you and your brand are represented. If it’s not welcoming or easy to find, make some changes.  It’s this frequency and accessibility that can build a relationship. Just don’t come in unannounced. 

2. Be as generous as Phoebe was when she found a thumb in her soda.  In the relationships with your readers, make giving your default setting. Does someone need advice? Give it gently. Does someone have a question? Answer, and do a little digging for them. Give without any expectation of return. Readers will flock to writers who have something to offer — and I’m not talking about your free download. I am talking about your practical advice, your words of inspiration, or your funny stories. And if Ross ever needs fashion advice, make sure you give him the right bag.

 

3. Be as interested as Joey is when Rachel’s sister visits. But more appropriately.  This could be your How You Doin’  strategy. Take the time to ask readers about themselves. What is their life like? What do you have in common? I find that if I turn my purpose from “connect with readers” to “make new friends” not only is it more fun, but I walk away far more satisfied. I also lay the groundwork for future conversations that could evolve over time into rich relationships. Nobody knew in season one that Monica and Chandler would get married in season seven.

4. Be as excellent in your writing as Monica was in the kitchen. This is a pretty important item on the list. If you have entered a relationship with a reader and they have actually paid money for your book, then you better respect that bond!  That means your book should be the very best it can be — professionally designed and edited, followed the rules of good storytelling and presented well.

5. Be just as authentic as when Monica and Ross danced on national television.  It never ceases to amaze me how much people are drawn to me when I am honest about my weaknesses. It seems counter-intuitive; we think we should hide our flaws. There are some dance moves that should stay in the family room in 1989. But I’ve found that the more real I am, the more my readers (who are now my friends) circle around me to support me. My weaknesses then becomes my strength. Maybe it didn’t for Ross and Monica.

6. Be a soft sell, which means don’t take marketing lessons from Marcel the monkey. This whole “buy my book” mindset of many authors in social media is beyond annoying, like Ross’s pet you can be smelly, loud and it feels like you’re throwing poop at me. I suggest you scrap any sales strategy that is repetitive and one-sided. Instead, lower your expectations for numbers, work on finding readers one at a time and stick it out for the long haul. This type of strategy will work far better for you in the future.

7. Be light-hearted like a couch-centered situation comedy. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Yes, you’ve written a book. That’s a great accomplishment that thousands if not millions do every year. If fight for that image as a special snowflake then you’re pushing people, and potential readers, away.

8. Be consistent, like Phoebe’s song lyrics. This is also a pretty important item on this list. Your brand needs to be predictable. Your readers need to know that when they pick up a book with your name on it, they can expect certain things. If you’re a blogger, you need to stick to a schedule. Consistency keeps your words in front of your readers so they don’t forget you.

 

9. Be yourself, unlike Joey’s acting.  If you keep looking to the right or left so you can copy what that other writer did,  you need to STOP IT RIGHT NOW! You will never get anywhere by trying to be derivative! Instead write freely, with blinders on, doing the best you can in your own voice. (That doesn’t excuse you from being excellent!)

10. Be unique like Rachel’s haircut. Our lives are filled with unique stories, experiences, struggles and pain that qualifies us to have a niche in this world. Take the time to find yours. Don’t rush this. Everything that you’ve experienced, good or bad, has been given to you so that you can use it to be generous to others. Your readers need you.

Now, realistically, this could take a long time. Longer than Ross and Rachel’s relationship. But I’d like to argue that the hard work of investing in people, asking them questions, looking for opportunities to be generous to them, remaining authentic, will pay off for you as your platform grows.

What else is there? What else can we do to love our readers? As a reader, how do you like to be appreciated? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! 

Top 10 Reasons You May Hate Marketing And What You Can Do About It by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

If I weren’t a writer and mother of five, I’d go into psychology or social work and listen to people.

Oh, I know it’s not all fun and games, like what I saw on The Bob Newhart show in the ’70’s, and from what I understand there’s a whole lotta of schoolin’ to go to, but I like thinking about what people are thinking about. It just could be fun!

psychology writing fear marketing sales ebooks self-publishing
This totally dates me. But I used to watch The Bob Newhart show on Saturday nights in the 1970s. It was the same night as Mary Tyler Moore and The Carol Burnett Show. Among other things, Bob Newhart played straight comedy against his kooky patients. I’d totally do that job if that’s all I had to do.

(And if you really love good situation comedy, click here to watch the pilot episode of The Bob Newhart Show.) 

Until I decide to take the plunge and become a shrink, I’ll satisfy myself with addressing the problem that some writers have:

The Reasons They Hate Marketing.

You poor, poor writers. You pour your heart and soul into your books. You create these magical worlds, these vibrant, three dimensional characters, these intricate plots, these thrilling stories that culminate in an figurative or literal explosion of action and dialogue that leaves your readers breathless, weepy and ready to plunk down more dough for the next installment.

Fabio: "Reading is so stimulating!" Damsel: "I was totally thinking reading. Yes! Reading!"
Fabio: “Reading is so stimulating!” Damsel: “I was totally thinking reading. Yes! Reading!”

Sadly, if we are to have readers, we have to go find them, convince them that our stories are worth spending money on and do it in somewhat civilized way.

The truth? We’d rather not. We’d rather hide behind our computer screens and only have the kinds of relationships that require us to type words.

I’d like to think, (I’m qualified to do this because I pretend to be a TV psychologist) that there’s more to our nervousness about marketing that we don’t like it. 

I’d like to suggest that there are real fears and anxieties here. And if that is the case, it’s going to take some doing to overcome them.

Top 10 Reasons You May Hate Marketing And What You Can Do About It by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

 

1. You’re not sure that you’re  good.

A lack of confidence is normal. Every author goes through that. How To Overcome: Hire a professional editor. Join a critique group through Scribofile.  Get a writing buddy on our Facebook group. Then, ask them for their honest feedback and then weigh what they say carefully. Improve where you need to but believe them when they say it’s good.

2. You have a creepy association with salesmen.

We all have creepy association with salesmen. Salesmen have a bad rap. They’re known for being slimy, smarmy and untrustworthy. How To Overcome: Just because others are bad sellers doesn’t mean you have to be. Remind yourself that your work is good, it’s worth buying and you have no ulterior motives. Be authentic with all your relationships and you’ll find selling to be easier.

3. You’ve seen the numbers and they’re not encouraging.

Millions and millions have books have been published in many different formats through many different types of publishers and platforms. It’s true that your little bitty book really isn’t much compared to them all. It’s enough to be very discouraged. How To Overcome: Have low expectations. Gain one reader at a time. Be content with small beginnings.

4. You’re  a little bit embarrassed that you are asking for money to do something you love.

How To Overcome: Change your thinking. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being paid for your hard work. You deserve something of value in exchange for the hard work you’ve put into it. You have talent, you’ve shared it with the world, now receive your compensation. The world operates like this and generosity will certainly open doors for you, you should never apologize for finishing the end of the transaction. This TED video explained to me so beautifully the art of asking. Amanda Palmer made me happy to give up my fear of asking.

asking Amanda Palmer marketing selling ebooks publlishing
Click the image to go right to the Ted link for this video.

5. You have haters.

We all have haters. That’s the beauty and the problem with art: what’s beautiful to some is repulsive to others. What to do: Thicken your skin a little and make your art the best it can possibly be. Then read all of these accounts of writers who were rejected and lambasted in reviews. Then, go back and read the good things your real fans have to say. There are more people in the world who would agree with them. Wouldn’t it be fun to find them?

6. You’ve failed before.

All of us have failed. We’ve failed from the first time we tried to walk, or read or even say coherent sentences. Our failure shouldn’t define us, it should just make us more human. What to do: Make a list of all the ways in which you are successful (if you need help, ask someone close to you). Practice saying positive things to yourself.  Try new strategies or approaches or take active steps to learn what you’re doing wrong that will make you more successful as you market.

7. You don’t want to be one of those pushy writers.

Some writers still haven’t got the message: hard sells get you nowhere. What to do: Don’t follow their example! Instead build relationships, ask questions, engage with people in an authentic way so that they want to buy what you’re selling. You never, ever have to be a slimy salesman.

selling books ebooks marketing hard sell

8. You’re not sure what you want.

What to do: Answer this: What does success look like to you? Is it thousands of books sold? Is it entertaining your friends and family? Think long and hard about what you want your sales goals to be and then take concrete steps to get there. Once you are on the path to your own desires, you may even find that marketing can be fun.

9. You’re not sure about the learning curve.

What to do: Have low expectations. Yup, it’s intimidating to think that once you write a book you still have to learn how to edit, publish, format, and design it. Then, once it’s available, you have to learn Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, Canva, Tumblr, Periscope, Snapchat or whatever social media platform people are telling you that you need to sell your book. Instead of freaking out about all of it, outsource what you can and only concentrate on one or two social media platforms that you’re the most comfortable with. And go slowly. There’s no rush. If this is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

10. You just don’t like people.

What to do: Fake it till you make it. One of the reasons why you’re holed up in your office with your coffee, cigarettes, holey sweater and numerous cats is because the world that you create on your own terms is a lot nicer than reality. I get that. In our stories, the good guy wins, the homely girl finds love and everyone vacations in the Maldives. But honestly? The best marketing you’re going to do is going to come out of relationships and connections. You’re going to have to put on your big writer panties, go out into the world, either IRL or online, introduce yourself and be nice. Even if it’s not sincere. Even if all you know to talk about is coffee, cigarettes and cats. Do it. Everything about your life will be better with friends.

Or maybe your issues are deeper than Bob Newhart can handle in a 22 minute episode.

If they are, that’s okay.

But please know that lots of writers have to buck up their courage to market their books. This fear of putting yourself out there is pretty common. Consider joining a writing group (like all the sweet folks at 10 Minute Novelists) where you can find encouragement, tips and community. And they might just help you with your big issues.

And let me know if any of this helps.

I’ll make sure to send you a bill.

marketing sales books publishing fiction Twitter
It’s Mommy issues. Definitely.

 

Making Your Author Platform Work for You — A Guest Post by Rachelle M. N. Shaw

By Rachelle M. N. Shaw

In such a highly competitive world of publishing, it’s no surprise that author platforms have taken center stage and become the foundation for any writer’s success.

But who has time to keep up with all the Tweets, Pins, and Instagram posts needed to do so? The truth is, successful authors don’t. They pick the top few social media sites that fit their style and their audience, and they roll with it.

By Making Your Author Platform Work for You --

What an Author Platform Should Do

  • Provide original content fitting of your audience through a well-designed blog or website
  • Become a place where you regularly engage with your followers; this doesn’t mean you sit back and let autoreply do all the work
  • Teach readers about yourself or your writing process
  • Allow readers to connect with you and follow you on various social media
  • Build your credibility as an author
  • Act as a landing site for media and for readers seeking events that you’re hosting; it’s a good idea to include a press release, a bio, and a professional photograph of yourself in at least one place
  • Tastefully link to your books, including where to buy them

Keep in mind that even though your platform is about you as an author, its main focus should always be on your readers and what you can provide them.

Think of it as a job interview—you want to show off your skills while marketing yourself as a prime candidate for the position.

What an Author Platform Shouldn’t Do

  • Spam readers with promotions for other authors—if you want a creative way to spotlight other authors on your website or blog, try author interviews; they’re a fun and easy way to build connections
  • Contain nothing but reblogs from other sites (it’s okay to share some of these too, but the majority of your posts should be ORIGINAL content)
  • Use completely automated responses
  • Be information based only (readers need a way to connect with you personally; a newsletter or blog is a great way to achieve this)
  • Ignore rules regarding grammar, punctuation, and spelling—this will sink your credibility faster than a one-star review
  • Feature a bathroom photo of yourself or one you took while out drinking with your buddies
  • Spam readers with promotional content for your own books (keep it to a minimum with a blurb or tagline and links for buying your books; you can also put your information about your books on a separate, clearly marked page)

Choosing Social Media that Is Right for You

The most important thing to sort out when it comes to choosing which social media you want to use is which ones will cater best to your audience. For me, though I write both YA fiction and general nonfiction about the craft of writing, the age for my target audience for the two overlaps the most for readers between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine. For that reason, sites like WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are my main areas of reach. However, six social media sites still proved to be too many to invest my time in. So I opted to keep things simple and to go with the sites that worked best for me in terms of audience and comfort level: the blog on my website (a WordPress substitute that actually works better since it leads followers directly to my own website), Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Through active engagement and regular original content, I’ve been able to build a relationship with my readers on those sites, and my author platform has grown because of it.

The secret to building a successful author platform is this: you don’t have to reach every virtual corner of the Internet to do so.

You just need to delve into those media where you’re mostly likely to reach your target audience and provide them with solid content that they can’t resist.


Rachelle M. N. ShawAn avid reader who has an incurable need to research everything she comes across, Rachelle is an author of paranormal, horror, and writing craft books. Since scribbling down her first story at the age of eight, her love for language and books has blossomed into a full-time career. She currently works as an independent editor and author while being a stay-at-home mom to her children and two rather persnickety cats. When she’s not baking cupcakes or playing in the snow, you can catch her blogging, tweeting, or plotting her next series. Her e-book, The Eyes That Moved, was released in May 2015. It is the first in her three-part paranormal horror series The Porcelain Souls. Part two is slated for release in the spring of 2016.

Rachelle also has two solo short stories and the first in a four-book series about the craft of writing fiction in the works. 

Website: http://rachellemnshaw.com/  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rmnsediting 

Tumblr: http://fmtpextended.tumblr.com/ 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/rmnsauthor/ 

 Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Rachelle-M.-N.-Shaw/e/B00X8D3LSY/

Top 10 Signs You May Be A Literary Writer (For Those of Us Who Are Genre Confused)

You’re writing a book and all of your hundreds of readers want to know. “What’s it about?” And you, gather them around you, adjust your cravat, look over your half moon glasses that are pretentiously hanging from a gold chain around your neck and you say, “I’m not really sure.”

Why can’t you explain? It’s because your story seems to transcend certain genres, it’s a journey or it’s an introspective. Words like “romance” or “fantasy” don’t seem big enough.

You, dear writer, could be writing literary fiction!

But you say, “I don’t want to write literary fiction! I know the market for these kinds of stories! I have nightmares that I’m locked in a room with someone reading Proust! I wish Hemingway would be more emotional!” “Sylvia Plath just needed to get over herself!”

Calm down.

 Literary writers are kind of like the zebras of the publishing world. They’re wild, unpredictable, and you can’t put a saddle on them. It could be that your writing habits have put you into the often misunderstood category of literary fiction.  I’ve created a little checklist (a tongue-in-cheek one) for your convenience, so while you’re chain smoking your clove cigarettes, go through this list. And check off what only applies to you. If you aren’t literary, then you can celebrate by going to that NASCAR event, but if you are, then rest assured that not all famous literary writers took their own life. Some were killed by their lovers. 

Top 10 Signs You May Be A Literary Writer

Let’s get crackin!

1. You may have spent a lot of time thinking about the beauty of language. This means that in the course of your drafting, you’ve thought about rhythm and tone. You weigh the length of sentences. You kind of wish you could throw in some poetry.  I know you’re optimistic and you think that some reader, somewhere, most likely an English major creating grande lattes at Starbucks, will appreciate your craftsmanship. And your hope that if more people did, then the world would be a better place. It would be. Here’s a hug.

2. You’ve incorporated some unexpected imagery or comparisons. I would have said metaphor, but I didn’t want you to squeal like a fangirl at a Taylor Swift concert. Just because you love a good metaphor, doesn’t mean you’re book is literary, it just means that you’ve put thought into it. This is a good thing. It’s what writers are supposed to do. But if you are overly obsessed with the green light in The Great Gatsby,  have a character you’ve based on George Orwell because of his role in society or think it’s a victory when your reader asks, “what the hell does that mean?”, then you could be literary.

3. Your book is far more about the human condition and big ideas. If you’ve ever discussed your manuscript and said the phrase “a struggle between this foreign sounding word and that foreign sounding word”.  If you have babbled for a good fifteen minutes about the concepts and never mention the characters, then we might need to get you started on pipe tobacco and buy you a tweed jacket with elbow patches. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in writing abstract meaning. Look on the bright side, your high school English teacher will love this. You should quiz her.

4. Your characters do get from point A to point B, but they take a long, long time to get there. Before you panic, take a moment and think. You probably do have good reasons to have your characters go off on tangents about what they did as children while they are standing in line at the Piggly Wiggly. But if your story’s big climactic moment is, after 250 pages, choosing paper over plastic, then, honey, we need to get you cat.

5. You want your MFA to count for something. Of course you do. I’ll take an order of fries with that burger, please.

6. You have nightmares trying to categorize it on Kindle Direct. Your book not really a mystery because you reveal the killer on page 82. Your book is not really a love story because she dumps him at the altar and your book not really fantasy because the aliens were just a metaphor. Let’s just admit it: this book is literary. Now, maybe The New Yorker is a better venue for you. Don’t wash that holey sweater. We’ll need it for your author photo.

7. Your brother asked how many explosions your book had it in and you stabbed him with the cheese knife. How are you going to serve your Wensleydale now?

8. You’ve lost writer friends over your stance on structure. “Three Acts? That’s totally predictable!” And then you launch a tirade that Stephen King’s On Writing could be a little bit self-serving. And you once hit someone because their idea of a great book has the number 50 and a color between black and white in it. And the longer you do this, the more you understand why writers drink themselves to death. Their friends are idiots. Let’s calm down. We have J.D. Salinger on the phone. He wants to meet you for drinks. See? You feel better already.

9. You find the expectations of specific genre too confining. And while you may be an Agatha Christie fan, or have a crush on Lovecraft or cry in your share of Harlequin romances, you’ve decided that you’ll take your favorite parts and twist them up. Marketability can go out with the window with all the vampire fiction as far as you are concerned. Your stories are beyond genre. Yes dear, put down that feather and quill. If your books can’t be categorized into a specific genre, then there’s a reason. You’re a literary writer and all the Chardonnay in the world can’t change that.

10. There are phrases in your books that require Google translator and your thought is, “come on, readers! Why are you so freaking lazy? You should just know Latin!”

Scoring: For every one of these ten signs that you agree to, give yourself one ounce of caviar. If you have more than six ounces, you’ll need some champagne and a friend. I’m on my way over. If you have zero points here, or zero ounces of caviar, then you are not a literary writer.

Your stories are probably solid, balancing both action and character development, you tell your stories simply enough without any of your characters resembling Frasier Crane, and you probably can explain the story itself to a prospective reader who can say, without any dirty looks from you, “Oh! It’s a thriller!” (Or a mystery, or science fiction, or fantasy, or a romance.) Your books are easy enough to find on a store shelf. And your genre choice helps your reader understand what to expect. You may not have fretted over every single word for its poetic weight, but you write well. But you don’t need caviar. Chips, salsa and beer will do fine.

The world needs literary fiction.

We need to have unpredictable, meaningful, symbolic stories that remind us that the good guys don’t always win and that not every ending is happy. So wear your literary label with pride!

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” You can do this. I believe in you!

Enjoying The Cocktail Party: How To Use Twitter to Engage Your Target Market by Katharine Grubb

Imagine yourself in a packed football stadium — one of the big ones like Gillette or Lucas Oil. Now imagine that every one in attendance at that stadium is shouting at the same time.

BIRDS

They aren’t shouting to players on the field, they’re not even watching the game, instead, they are trying to get the attention of the people on the other side of the stadium. Everyone in the stadium, including you, wants attention from others. Everyone wants to be known as clever. They want subscribers or followers or friends or likes. Everyone in the stadium wants the attention of everyone else in the stadium. This isn’t a great way to communicate. It’s chaotic, disorganized and discouraging.

Twitter can be like that for authors.

Yet, authors often hear stories of how books are sold, tribes have increased, and deals are made. Somehow Twitter works for those who know how to work it.

But if all you do on Twitter is shout into the crowd with no plan, no target and no order, you’ll probably come away disappointed.

BIRDS

Perhaps we should think of Twitter as a cocktail party instead.

If you go to a cocktail party, your purpose is not ever to shout. Instead, you extend your hand, make small talk, find common interests, and exchange information with the guests there. Everyone has the same purpose — to get attention — but a party is more relaxed. You can be yourself. You can take your time. A cocktail party is a manageable way to start relationships because it’s based in conversation, not shouting.

These nine tips can help you make Twitter less of a shouting match and more of a party.

BIRDS

If you follow these tips, you’ll start conversations, you’ll build relationships and eventually you’ll build your tribe.

1. Target specific types of people, not just other writers.  Other writers should not be your first market for selling your book. Instead, you should be looking for readers that meet your specific criteria. You know who you are looking for based on your genre, your setting, your themes, and characters. Take the time to think about your book and seek out readers who identify with certain aspects of it.

2. Ask questions of people you meet, don’t just say, “buy my book! It’s $.99!” Only blast tweets about their books.  If you are using Twitter as a an advertising medium, you are going to be disappointed. With the vast number of tweets every day, your message of “my Amish Zombie Princess romance is $.99” will get lost in the crowd. Questions, however, engage people who potentially could learn to love you.

3. Think long term. No social media platform guarantees instant success. To maximize the benefits of Twitter, you need to have a long term vision. Set a goal of following 50+ people a day. Schedule your blog post or “look at me” tweets but use the rest of your day to engage your followers and ask questions. You will see results if you commit to this daily, engage others and save the hard sell for something else.

4. Ask questions constantly and don’t overthink it. As you read people’s bios, ask them about their pets, their hometowns or who won last night’s game. You are going to have to get over yourself you are insecure or self conscious. Don’t waste this opportunity thinking “this sounds stupid” or “no one will respond”. Twitter moves so fast, that even if you do sound stupid, you can always tweet something else. Lighten up, ask questions and take chances.

5. Write an interesting noun-filled bio. At a cocktail party, you’re introduced with nouns, “Chip is an agent!” or “She’s a new mother!” or “He’s a marathoner!” The best nouns connect us to our jobs, roles, interesting hobbies and big dreams. It’s these nouns that will identify you to others and start conversations. Your bio should be a warm, friendly, specific introduction, not a CV or resume.

6. Search out relevant chats. There are dozens of chats on Twitter weekly. (My favorite? #10MinNovelists, every Thursday 9 PM EDT) Engage in one of them! You are likely to meet people in your target market who can encourage you. We all need community. We need encouragement, professional opinions and connections. I have meet dozens, if not hundreds of writers (my target market). Even if these writers never buy my books, I’m learning from them.  My writing life is all the richer for it.

7. Use hashtags appropriately. Hashtags are shortcuts to conversations. I’m the first person to volunteer to use one as a punchline, (#likethis #duh) but the purpose is to find common threads or topics quickly.  Your target market has its own set of hashtags. Find them! The people who use them are the people who may buy your book. The effort research is worth it.

8. Don’t treat Twitter like Facebook. It’s a waste of time to scroll through your Twitter feed to “catch up”. Twitter is so fast, that there is no need to go to where your 1200 followers left off yesterday and see what everyone had to say. Instead, create a list of your favorites or closest friends and check on them a couple of times a day. Use Hootsuite to track the threads of important hashtags. Find what’s trending and jump in the conversation, if you can’t catch up, don’t worry about it. Just go forward.

9. Make lists. Twitter allows for you to make lists to organize your followers. Use them. This will save time. Lists are also a great place to find more followers in your target market. And it’s perfectly fine to find followers from others’ lists — in fact if you may be able to find the lists created by others who share your target market (your competitors!) Take advantage of this: new connections are ripe for the taking.

I love Twitter. I love its speed and its flexibility. I love that if I have an off week and don’t keep up with my tweets, I can pick up where I left off.

I love that writers everywhere are learning how to use it well. I love that most of my online connections have come through Twitter. But Twitter won’t work for you if you don’t know how to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses. So put away the football jersey and megaphone and slip into the little black dress.

Join the Twitter cocktail party, engage with others and have fun!


Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant more tips on how to make Twitter work for you? CONQUERING TWITTER in 10 MINUTES DAY is available for pre-order! Specifically written for authors, this book will help you think about yourself, your brand, your books, and your goals on Twitter, create great questions to ask and organize your time in such a way that you can get the most out of every tweet.

Available for $.99! 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

The Book Launch Checklist To Make Your Next Release Awesome!

Congratulations!

You have a new book to sell! 

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb
I do too! I have Soulless Creatures coming out August 15. Click the image to pre-order your Kindle ebook!

Are you doing everything you can to promote it? 

Some of these points are no-brainers, like have a great cover. Some, though, are optional, like having a live release party at your local coffee shop. All of them will require YOU to look at YOUR book and YOUR needs and decide what YOU can do.

I’m also going to assume that your starting point is AFTER your book has been written, rewritten, revised, edited and proofread to death. If you don’t have a quality product, please, please, please, go back and make it one. You aren’t respecting yourself, your art, your readers and the other writers around you if you’re sloppy and unprofessional.

 Pick a release date. Ideally this is six months away. The more time you allow yourself, the more you can accomplish before the big day. You can compare this to a wedding. Sure, you can get married two weeks from now, but if you want your wedding to be memorable and involve more people, you need more time to plan.

 Buy your domain name. Do it while you can before anyone else takes it. You’ve got time to either design your website yourself (like I did) or hire someone to design it for you.

Sign up for a couple of social media platforms if you haven’t already. Pick 2-3 and only pick ones that you really love or drawn to. Start acquiring followers every day. Need to know how to do this with Twitter? I have a book! Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A Day! 

Consider your target market.  Who is your ideal reader? What do they value? Where do they hang out? Find those places! These could be forums, blogs, websites, Twitter chats, groups, podcasts. Make a point of visiting and contributing to as many as you have time for. Don’t mention your book yet. Just engage with others, start conversations, participate in games or memes, leave blog comments, etc. This is how you can build your tribe up for the release. You really should attend to this item on your list daily.

 Hire your graphic designer for your quality book cover. Do NOT go cheap unless the person you are working with has a great reputation. I blogged about what makes a great cover here.

Format your book for ebook and for paperback. You can do this yourself or you can hire it done. If you hire it done, you want the person to have plenty of time to get it done before your release date.

 Ask your designer to help you design business cards. You can get them to match the design of your website, which makes you look all branded and stuff. Or you can get bookmarks and business cards with your new releases title on it. You want this ready before the release.

Buy business cards from Moo
These are my business cards. I designed them myself and then bought them from Moo.com

Start thinking locally. If you haven’t introduced yourself to your local librarian, DO IT! They will be your BFFS. If they know that you have a release coming out, they may be able to help you promote it. Tell them well in advance of your plans so they can carve you into their calendar.

Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!
Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!

On a map of your region, draw a circle with your home in the middle. Make that circle as big as you are willing to travel. Mine? An hour. Then, list all the town in that circle. Under each town heading, research libraries, indie bookstores, consignment stores, gift shops, ANYTHING that could potentially sell or promote your book. You could easily have 100 places. Then make a phone call a day. Say, “I’m a local author. My book, “BLAH” is coming out in a few months. Is there a way that you and I could work together? I’d love to meet some of your clients/customers/patrons and introduce them to my work.” Make notes. Return calls. Go see these people.

Plan your pricing. Are you going to have the ebook run for free for a few days? Keep it .99? There are a lot of different ways to look at it. Pros and cons to both strategies. Once you make your decision, contact those FB groups and sites that advertise free or .99 books.

Other ideas:

 

1) Have a LIVE party at a local coffee shop and invite all your friends.
2) Have a giveaway on Goodreads (of which you will Tweet daily and mention on ‪#‎AuthorHappiness‬ day!)
3) Go back to all those podcasts and blogs you’ve been stalking for months and ask if you can be a guest blogger or interviewee. The worst they can say is no.

One month before your release, GATHER YOUR STREET TEAM. This is a group of people that are crazy in love with you and will help you. Have them read your book for free, then leave reviews, then promote it THEIR WAY either word of mouth or various internet magic, then reward them with free copies to give away or Skype chats or gift cards or something. Gently remind them on release day that that’s the BIG DAY and that’s when you need the reviews up and the promotions released.

Now, those are the FREE ways to have a good release. I know about those because I’ve never had the funds to pay up. I’m sure you could fork over hundreds of dollars to get someone to do this work for you. It’s going to cost you one way or another — money or time. Any more ideas?

The most passionate force behind your book is you! So put a smile on your face, get ready to do the research, make the phone calls and ask! You never know who can help you until you do. 


 

I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb available now
Click the image to order your copy!

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Learning From The Independent Publishing Experience: A Guest Post By Jude Knight

What have you learned from this experience?

The headline is a quote from the man I adore: “What have you learned from this experience?” (Not, incidentally, what you want to hear when you’ve just bumped your toe or broken your heart. But I love you, darling.)

Six months ago last month, I published my first historical romance, a novella. I’ve since published a novel, am about to publish another one, and will have another novel and a novella out by my 1st anniversary as an independent publisher.

I still have a great deal to learn, but here are my top five lessons from this first venture into the wild and wonderful world of Indie.

Independent Publishing From the Writers of 10 MInute Novelists

Lesson 1: We do better together than apart

Since joining various Facebook groups for historical romantic fiction, I’ve ‘met’ many wonderful authors. My to-read list has expanded at an alarming rate, but I’ve also been privileged to share their insights, tidbits from their research, and their encouragement as I’ve dipped my toes into the indie publishing water.  I’ve also joined a collaborative of regency romance writers, the Bluestocking Belles.

Without the retweeting and sharing of my friends, far fewer people would have heard of my books. And I am keen to return the service whenever I can. Readers are not a scarce resource to be hoarded; an enthusiastic reader will devour the books of many authors. When we share, when we support one another, we grow a larger market to benefit us all.

Lesson 2: 20 December is a terrible date to launch a new book

The 1st; maybe the 10th; maybe the 30th. But I launched my first book on the 20th.

The 20th was a really, really, bad idea, and very nearly did me in. So many competing demands. We have a habit of giving the grandchildren a craft day, and this year we did two (one full Saturday for the older children, and one for the younger). I work full-time in commercial publishing, and 30 years of experience should have taught me that clients pile on the deadlines in the three weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Zealand summer holidays. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on Christmas shopping and baking.

I did all my own editing, cover design, proofreading, formatting, marketing, and so on. The week leading up to 20 December was insane, and the next week, as I publicised the book, even crazier. And that week included Christmas Day.

Let’s not do that again, okay?

Lesson 3: Don’t leave the cover till the last week

I’ve done a lot of research on covers, and looked at hundreds trying to work out what I like and what I don’t. I downloaded Pixelmator for the Mac, and my PRH transferred across a heap of fonts from the ancient version of InDesign on our old publishing company’s computer. We experimented with fonts till we found some we liked. But – with final tweaks on the image — the cover I actually used wasn’t completely ready until 12 December, just a couple of days before I uploaded to Smashwords and Amazon.

More pressure than I needed. In future, my covers will be done before the book goes on preorder

Lesson 4: Distribution takes time – preorder is the way to go

I uploaded the first book on 16 December my time. The book began to be downloaded from Smashwords straight away. Somehow, I’d managed not to take that into my calculations, but hey — a download is a download, right? It took several days to filter through to the resellers from Smashwords. Apple finally started showing the book on 27 December, and didn’t really pick up speed for several days.

Amazon started selling immediately, too, but didn’t really begin to move until they made it free (see Ask for what you want, next).

Putting Farewell to Kindness up for preorder five weeks before release definitely lightened my stress load. And Baron for Becky went up nearly three months in advance.

Lesson 5: Ask for what you want; it’s less stressful than waiting

Ask for reviews. Ask for ratings. People can say ‘no’. But you lose nothing by asking. One thing I asked for was a free listing on Amazon. I was giving the novella away to give people a taste of my writing style, but Amazon insisted on a price of 99c.

I’d been told that Amazon would price match, and that I should ask people to request price matching. So I did. And nothing happened. I read discussions on forums where authors talked about how hard it was to get price matching. But then I thought ‘why not ask’?

So I emailed Amazon, told them that the novella was free at Apple and Barnes & Noble, that my strategy was to give it away free to publicise the next few books, and that — if they price matched — we’d both benefit in the long term. Within 24 hours, it was free on Amazon to US purchasers, and that slowly spread to their other stores.

So ask. People just might say ‘yes’.


Jude KnightJude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

 Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is also sitting on a couple of bestseller lists. It is number one in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

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