Rapid release strategy is the current hot ticket in the indie-author circuit. Many authors are saying this, combined with writing to market, is the only way to make any money as an author. The theory is that by releasing books on a fixed schedule: quarterly, […]
Tag: Book Marketing
Author P.J. Friel talks about a better way to sell books
Hey ML! Guess what I’m doing Saturday night! A TAKEOVER!
What exactly is a takeover, you may ask? It sounds so hostile, maybe even a little violent. Something Trygg (the hero of my debut novel A TWIST OF WYRD) and a few of his berserker buddies would do for fun on a Saturday night. Or if your interests lay in the kinky realm, you might be picturing silk ties and ball gags ala 50 Shades.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you’d be wrong. A takeover is neither violent nor kinky, but it can be naughty…if you’re doing it right. Takeovers are what other authors do when they join a Facebook group and throw a little virtual party, offering up free books, gift certificates, and fun and games with the group members there. (With the Group Administration’s permission of course.)
Takeovers vary greatly depending up on who is running them and how many authors are involved. They can last anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours. Each author makes several posts, offering up rewards to those group members who participate. Often the posts are about that authors books, but they can also be just fun games.
This Saturday night, LM Wilson is hosting a takeover in her group—LM Wilson’s Literary Godlings—for several authors and I’m included. LM and I recently met on Facebook and became fast friends. While she writes in a different genre than I do—LM writes Reverse Harem and I write Paranormal Romance featuring a single couple—we share a common goal. We both want to have fun doing what we love and share that fun with as many people as we can.
I’ve been struggling with marketing and building an audience, and LM graciously offered to help me out. She has been doing this writing gig for a while and she told me that I was making things much harder on myself than I needed to. All I really had to do was relax and have a little fun.
So, that’s what we’re going to do. Join us for games, free books, prizes, and lots of silly and certainly naughty fun. (LM calls this takeover my “cherry popping” so you know it’s gonna get wild.)
Date & Time: 12/15/18 @ 4:30pm to 11:30pm EST
Place: LM’s group – LM Wilson’s Literary Godlings
Participating Authors: LM Wilson (aka Yalu Taylors), Cassandra Night, Sue McMiles, Miki Ward, Sofia Hoffman, and me—PJ Friel, the sacrificial takeover virgin.
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Faceoff:Amazon vs. Facebook ads Last weekend I ran a 99¢ special on my book, Your Novel This Month as part of the Prep_tober kickoff for NaNoWriMo. Since I have no mailing list and a small website following, I knew that I would need to pay […]
Learning About Marketing
guest post by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
The past couple of months have been a steep learning curve. I was shoved from my placid little pool of writing and submitting into being published.
How? I won a competition where the prize was the publication of the winning entry. Since the night a box full of “Eens…” paperbacks were handed to me, I’ve been scrambling to learn how to sell it.
I knew enough about publishing to know that eBooks sell better than paperbacks (at least, that’s what I got from all the different publishing blogs I’ve been reading for years), so I got that all set up for my book.
But how do you sell it?
You can go around and do the hard-sell: corner someone, tell them about your book, and get them to buy. It does work… Think about those samples in stores with the salespeople who smile nicely and tell you all about the product. Who hasn’t bought something that way?
And friends and family will, of course, buy your book ‘cause they love you and don’t want you to end up like Van Gogh…
But what about long-term and global sales?
This strategy is much easier for writers who prefer not to have to sell face-to-face. Though, some might take the relative anonymity of the internet too far and ram books down people’s throats: don’t do that!
Step one: set up your author brand.
Luckily, I’ve been working on that for years. It includes your author platform (website/blog, social media networks, guest posts, Goodreads, etc.), author photo, and what people immediately think when they see your name.
I had a guest post in April by Rachel Thompson from BadRedHead Media explaining how to do this properly.
Step two: build an email list.
This is the best way to ensure that everyone who actually likes your writing will know about new releases. It’s also a good way to stay in touch with your readers.
An incentive like a free eBook can make people willing to part with their email address. Make sure they know when to expect updates from you – make it regular enough (say, once a month) so they won’t forget that they’ve signed up. Newsletters should be fun, informative and worth the time the reader takes to read it.
Remember to adhere to all guidelines regarding privacy, using an accredited service provider, etc. to stay on the legal side of things. (Don’t spam, don’t share your subscribers’ information, etc.)
Step three: publish the best book you can.
Don’t skimp on editing, proofreading or cover design. This is the product you wish to sell and what customers will remember. This book can sell the next one – or stop readers from returning for the next book.
Step four: set up a street team.
Ask your writing/blogging friends to help you spread the word about your book.
Book blasts (blurb, cover, buy links, excerpt, author bio) are popular. So are author interviews and guest posts (like this one) where information about the book is shared as part of the post. Reviews by your street team are important too. You can even ask your email subscribers if they want to receive ARCs (Advance Review Copies) to write reviews about your book on their blog/Goodreads/wherever else book reviews are posted. (I should’ve thought of doing this… Luckily a member of my street team thought of doing a review.)
Your street team doesn’t have to be restricted to hosting you on their blog. Some don’t have the time for that – or don’t blog. But your friends on other social media networks can be very helpful in spreading the word about your latest release.
Step five: what to do during launch week.
Visit and comment on the blogs hosting you. Share those posts on social media. Be social!
Step six: to keep momentum going.
Create more promotional stuff. Using Canva/Adobe Spark you can create visuals with quotes from your book to share on social media. You can also mix things up by creating book trailers on Adobe Spark to share.
Just don’t overwhelm your audience. One of each a week on each social media platform ought to be enough – you don’t want to be all BUY MY BOOK! all the time, either.
Step seven: social karma
This might be obvious, but do for your writing friends what you wish they would do for you. Share their stuff, buy their books, review their books, host them on your blog, etc.
And make more friends!
All of this is free.
Step eight: (because I like symmetry) it’s not just one book!
Use all of your rights. Your book can be a paperback, hardback, eBook, audiobook and other things too (maybe a movie?). And it can be translated into other languages. Making it another paperback, hardback, eBook and audiobook with endless possibilities.
I did that for the Afrikaans edition of “Once…”: it is available as an eBook, paperback and audiobook. I’m working on the audiobook for “Once…”.
See? Two languages, one book, several editions.
I’m learning about marketing every day. The point is to let people get to know you, have them like you, make them trust you, and hopefully sales will come from that. If not, at least you have great friends.
Thanks for having me, Michele.
Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon.
Her newest release is coming May 23
Explore the world of “Once” by Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Damsels in distress, curses, echoes of faery tales and tragic love affairs swirl together in sixteen stories found in a dragon’s lair by a curious half-fae.
Unexpected changes to reality causes more than one damsel to turn into a strong, independent woman who takes charge of her own life.
A collection of short stories about Faerie and the fae that live in the human realm. A few of the stories had won competitions and all of them had enchanted readers.
Learn their secrets and enter the realm of the fae…
Mortals cannot perceive the veil unless they are invited to – or extremely gifted. For centuries, Man and Fae have been kept apart, for nothing good ever comes from them mixing. The collection of The Adventures of Saphira the Faery Dog is proof of this.
Still, there are magical creatures that side neither with Man nor Fae.
Dragons are such creatures. They hold the knowledge of both worlds. Some even collect it in the written word, keeping it safe in their lairs.
An inquisitive half-fae once broke into the lair of a dragon known to hoard books. The knowledge she found was too much to keep to herself…
Here are a few tales, myths and legends from Faerie. Some may sound remarkably similar to legends held by mortals, while others are… well… as otherworldly as the fae themselves.
Universal Book Links for Afrikaans and English versions of this book:
My Books Page https://ronelthemythmaker.wordpress.com/my-books/
Universal Book Link (UBL)*
ISBN EPUB: 978-0-6399476-2-4
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-6399476-3-1
Publication date: 23 May 2018
Available on most online retailers.
Also available in Afrikaans as “Eens…”.
Connect with Ronel on:
Ronel the Mythmaker: https://ronelthemythmaker.wordpress.com/
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UBLs give you one link that leads to every online retailer selling your book.
And when your readers click on that link, they’re shown a list of everywhere your book appears online, so that they can choose the retailer or eReader that works best for them
One link. Every bookstore online.
(Info from Draft2Digital/Books2Read.)
Cover Design Mistakes that are costing you sales
You cover is your number 1 sales tool
Yes, it is. No matter how good your novel is, no matter how brilliant your back cover blurb is, no matter how many ARC reviews you have, a bad cover will cost you sales.
When people see a poorly constructed cover, they will assume the novel is also of similar quality. A prospective reader will always see your cover first. And not only will she judge the book by its cover, she will judge it harshly.
For the writer with limited funds, paying for a professional cover can seem like too much of a gamble. (How many do I need to sell now to break even?) But putting out a terrible cover will guarantee lackluster sales. If you can’t afford a pro for every novella you put out, make sure you are not committing these common cover design mistakes.
Text is art. Bad typography is the most common “tell” of the amateur cover. If you are serious about designing your own covers, study the basics of good type. If you are struggling with the basics, try a program like Canva
Mistake 1: Fancy Fonts
Breaking out the scrapbooking fonts to make your cover look really special, really doesn’t. These two fonts don’t reflect the Sci-Fi thriller feel the rest of the cover is trying to portray. These fonts don’t match the cover image or each other. The results are confusing and messy. If you don’t have access to the correct genre font, don’t substitute another exotic font. Clean and simple block text would have sufficed.
Mistake 2: Boring centered text
This text suffers from no formatting. The title is centered and allowed to auto format. The main element “Sarah” should be given a separate text box, allowing the size to be manipulated independently from the subtitle. The descriptive words in the subtitle could also be given some thought. “Wild” could be set in italics adding further interest in the title. Text is artwork. Give it careful consideration.
Mistake 3: Invisible Text
Every time I see this, I’m left scratching my head. An otherwise beautiful book cover ruined by the invisible text. (Did you even see it? It’s in the water.) A simple burn under the main title and a change in font color for the subtitle would fix this. What works for print doesn’t always work for online. Your text must be legible.
Mistake 4: Creative Typography Effects
Look through the entire top 100 on Amazon and count how many books use type settings in unconventional directions. Very few. And it’s a good bet those were done by professional designers. Unconventional typography is tricky. More than one direction will make your text appear random. Waterfall text is almost impossible to pull off. I know Photoshop has it built in, but that button isn’t for you. Step away.
If you have access to Photoshop, spend the time to learn it. Photoshop is a powerful, but complicated, program. While you many never use most of its capability, having the basics will save your hours of frustration.
Mistake 5: Montage Monstrosity
This cover shows the creator has just enough Photoshop skills to be dangerous. What exactly are these faces floating in? Montage is not only a quick way to move the story along, it’s also a quick way to move a potential reader along–to the next author. Keep it simple. Skip the montage.
Mistake 6: Busy Background
The previous example suffered from too much Photoshop. This one suffers from not enough. The text is lost against the busy background. As a result, the creator was forced into using the garish black text in an attempt to create enough contrast to make it legible. Note how the author’s name is clearly visible against the bright green. With a few simple manipulations, the dark tree trunks could have been lightened allowing the text to show.
With so many self-published titles on the market, the potential for multiple covers to use the same stock image has prompted many authors to seek alternatives. However, creating your own image isn’t always the best solution.
Mistake 7: The backyard photographer
While this is a pretty photo, it falls flat as a book cover. Why? It has a shallow depth of field. The leaves, the woman, and the tree appear in the same plane of focus, and visually, they have the same weight. Rather than force your eye to focus on the main element: the woman, they compete with her. As a result, the text feels lost in an already saturated visual plane, making it into the chorus girl, not the main star.
Mistake 8: Poser/hand-drawn fantasy covers
Finding a decent stock image to use for a high fantasy cover is nearly impossible. Commissioning an artist to create a custom piece is expensive. What is a fantasy writer to do? Unless you have an art degree, do not create your own artwork. You cannot be “pretty good” at drawing, or “getting the hang” of Poser and pull this off. And don’t be tempted to ask your friend who likes to draw. Whatever you get back, you will feel obligated to use. You are much better off picking something abstract from your novel and creating a cover from that. No colored pencils, no cartoon boobs. No.
While your cover doesn’t need to portray a scene in your book, it does need to accurately reflect your novel. The image and the title must work together as a cohesive pitch. It must also reflect the established conventions of the genre.
Mistake 9: Genre Confusion
This is a rom-com? It looks more like my 8th-grade dream journal. While it’s a pretty cover, it won’t look like any of the books next to it. Readers will think either this book is mislabeled, or the writer doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Either way, they won’t bother to click because there will be plenty of other books to choose from that do look like what they are searching for.
Mistake 10: Random Image
Is this book about a bear? Where’s the home? And why is the heather blooming in November? While the cover does beckon the reader forward, it’s too far removed from the title to make sense. Your cover is a visual pitch of your book. It has to sell your book. It can’t do that with an image that doesn’t match the story.
Think of your cover as a visual pitch
These are only a few of the potential pitfalls authors fall into when designing covers for their novels. If you are trying to sell your novel with one of these covers, you are hindering your sales. Take the time to create a cover that looks professional. Study book covers in your genre and take notes. Learn to recreate those same types of covers in Photoshop (or your preferred program). If you don’t have the skills, reach out to the writer’s community and get help. There are so many resources available. Don’t let your sales suffer from a bad cover.
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