Ten Book Marketing Strategies

Sorry for the delay in my blog posts again. I’ve been extremely busy at my day job because all of the snowbirds are coming back to town. I’ve got a really good topic to discuss with you all today. In my Fantasy Writers group on Facebook, a member asked for marketing tips. When I gave them the following suggestions, they claimed it was more work than writing the book itself but “thanks anyway.” If you plan on being a true author, the first thing that you’ll understand is that you can’t just write the book and then be done with it. You have to market that book for the rest of your life in order to make any money from it. Without further ado, here’s the list of suggestions. It’s more effective if you do all of them but, as a beginner or someone with limited time, you can pick and choose what works for you and it will still be very effective.

  1. Personal website. Everyone that I know who is a successful author has their own website. They use it to update their readers on their book releases, deals, and tidbits of information to keep their intrigue until the next book comes out.
2. Blog. In order for your blog to be successful, you need to post at least 1-3 times a week. Anything less will rapidly lose your audience. I’ve been blogging solidly for five and a half years now on this site. That’s more than long enough to figure out that the more you blog, the more traffic and followers you get. When you don’t keep up with it, they lose interest rapidly.
3. Facebook ad/Newspaper ad. Do both of these. Try setting up a $5 ad on Facebook and see how well it does. I assure you that you’ll get at least 30 new Likes and 1-5 book sales. That more than gets you your money back and everyone on Facebook will still be talking about it when the ad goes away (through sharing).
4. Do R&Rs (read and reviews). There are several websites where you can pay to have hundreds of people R&R your book. The cost of this is very small considering that a higher number of reviews will make new readers purchase your books.
5. Have a mailing list. The people who follow you have e-mails. That’s how they see that you’ve made a new blog post or published a new book. With this in mind, set up special announcements directed at them so they know that you care about your readership and don’t just send out mass updates.
6. Advertise daily in Facebook groups designated for advertising. You should always join several groups that allow you to promote once (or more) a day within the group. Most people post all of their links in one post. Don’t do this because it’s overwhelming. I find myself skipping over all of those because it makes the person seem desperate and to be honest, I don’t have time to sort out the links to the sites that I actually use to follow people. No matter what book link you share, always include your author page link. Even if you don’t accumulate any sales, you’ll at least accumulate several Likes.
7. Go to your local book stores and leave business cards/personalized bookmarks. This option is harder for introvert authors or ones that are very busy with the day job and families but there’s no excuse to not do this. Eventually, you have to get out of the house or have a family outing. Stop by a local bookstore, speak to the manager, and just drop off a handful of cards, bookmarks, or flyers.
8. Ask your local bookstores/libraries to host book signings for you. While you’re at that local bookstore or library, ask if they’ll host a book signing for you. Always offer to order and bring copies of your books on your own if they seem dubious about letting you have a signing. It usually convinces them because it costs them no money and you only need a small table in the corner but it gets their store traffic.
9. Hire a marketing business. The most obvious option is just to hire a marketing company. Within your budget, of course!
10. Word of mouth. Word of mouth is the strongest marketing strategy in order to obtain lots of sales. People are more likely to trust their friend that your book is amazing versus believing an advertisement that you clearly paid for.

Some Book Publishing References

(Originally posted on http://www.stevencapps.wordpress.com/)

If you’re like me, most authors are on a budget. In this economy, good jobs are hard to come by and I’m lucky enough to hold a part-time at a tiny post office. It’s still not enough to survive on, but like many others, I manage. With this knowledge of me, you can bet that I try to find the best quality of services at a cheaper cost. This post is to present you with my personal list of references. These are people or places that I have personally used and recommend highly for self-publishing authors. Even though I am a Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Romance author, these references are capable of doing (nearly) every genre. If you have any further questions for me, you can contact me in the comments.

Cover artists:

Bree Vanderland – https://www.facebook.com/Author.Bree

ES Tilton – http://estilton.deviantart.com/

Jo Renehan – https://www.facebook.com/john.renehan1

Premade Covers 4 U – https://www.facebook.com/Premadecovers4u

J Ash B Designs – https://www.facebook.com/Jashbdesigns

SelfPubBookCovers – http://www.selfpubbookcovers.com/

Editor:

Angel Thomas – http://covertocoverediting.webs.com/

(The reason for only one editor reference is because I have found no one who is better or equal to Angel’s professionalism.)

Marketing:

Facebook Ads – http://www.facebook.com/

Your Local Newspaper

Create a Blog on WordPress or Blogspot

Create a Website on Webs or Wix.

Publishing Platforms:

Createspace – http://www.createspace.com/

Lulu – http://www.lulu.com/

Amazon KDP – http://kdp.amazon.com/

How to Begin and End a Chapter

Now that we’ve discussed the length of chapters, here’s some basic advice on how to begin and end those chapters.

Hook. From the moment your reader begins to read, they are expecting to be dragged into the world headfirst. In other words, they need something of interest to keep them reading. This happens on the first couple of pages. Whether it’s a question that has to be answered or an action scene, make it brief but do it well before diving into the story.

Line. The middle of the chapter.

Sinker. By this time, you have answered the question or come to a conclusion for the action from the first two pages. Now that you’ve given them some relief, you need to plant another hook to make it impossible to resist continuing on to the next chapter.

By using this process repeatedly throughout your books, you’ll ensure that your readers will be leaving reviews claiming to be “unable to put the book down.”

How to Create and Maintain an Online Writing Community

(Originally published on http://www.stevencapps.wordpress.com/)

Thank you to my host, Steven, for having me here. First, a little introduction of who I am. I am author J.E. Feldman (more commonly known as Aris Lisvacor online) and I’ve been writing since the age of three. I write Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, Romance, and YA in the form of novels and short stories. I currently have six books published and plan to stick with writing and publishing six a year. With all of that work, how do I have time on my hands? Sometimes, I ask myself that same question, especially when my job and family get in the way of my strict writing schedule.

  1. Come up with a goal and stick with it for the entire life of the group. I created my online Fantasy Writers community on Facebook when I was fifteen because, after being in several other groups, I realized that beginner writers are always bullied by the more seasoned ones. I wanted a safe haven where a bunch of writers could be themselves.
  2. Word of mouth is stronger than advertising. It started off with a few friends (who I fondly refer to as the originals). As the first couple of years went by, it kept growing, but only by a couple hundred. Abruptly, members began pouring in during the third and fourth years. Now, at over six years old, the group hosts almost five thousand members.
  3. Understand that you aren’t in competition with other groups. Many groups after six years have well over five thousand members. I’ve been in some with as many as twenty thousand and it’s overwhelming. The fact that I have kept the group going with the same goal this entire time, and never expected to have so many members, make that five thousand seem like a million.
  4. Creating rules. As the group grew in size, a lot of spammers started entering the group. With small numbers, it was perfectly alright for everyone to post their personal pages every now and then because it wasn’t overwhelming. But with hundreds of people doing this, my little discussion group was on the verge of being turned into a silent advertising black hole. So I created a few rules and it became a non-advertising group. Some members got removed for disregarding the new rules, some left in a huff on their own.
  5. Your rules, your group. Not theirs. Don’t be discouraged when people leave your group because of your rules. Some will try to call you out on them, make you seem like the big bad guy, even manage to take a small group of people with them. Your group is better off without them. If they can’t respect the rules you’ve set for your group, how can you expect them to respect their fellow members?
  6. Compromising rules. My group went from no rules to having some. When it became a strictly non-advertising group, several of the originals left because they felt it was too strict now. This, along with a number of suggestions from fellow members, led to Mad Mondays. A designated day of the week where everyone could use a single post to place all of their personal links in. Before, members were complaining that the group didn’t care about supporting them anymore. After MMs were instilled, members were thrilled to be able to share their work with their favorite writing community.
  7. Administrators. Originally, I had planned to run the entire group by myself but when the numbers started growing, I began finding close friends to help keep an eye on the group. You have to be very careful when choosing them because one argument could send your friend to the members list to do a mass removal before you know what’s happening. I’ve seen it happen many times before. I’m mature for my age so I always choose mature administrators rather than my old high school friends. Always look for someone that understands the rules and has always followed them, will have no problem standing up to members or to you, and is someone you get along with. Understand that you aren’t always right and when in doubt, you can go to this group of people to have them vote, knowing that the outcome will be correct and final.
  8. The private admin chat. For every group, there has always been a private admin chat. Having one allows you to quickly talk about what’s going on with the group, keep tabs on members in the wrong, and to get to know your admins. Our chat is always mixed with admin duties, sticker wars, writing projects, and real life details. That’s because we are all people with lives outside of Facebook. Sometimes people forget that. If you want to keep even better tabs of members, you can also create your own Admin Group. I have also done this and it works wonderfully for Warned and Banned lists, upcoming events, etc.
  9. Events. No matter what kind of community you’re thinking of creating, you need to have events. Something to bring the members together to either work together or compete against each other. It should be fun and enticing. For my writing community, we have Best Description events where a Fantasy picture is given as a prompt and they have to stay within the word count. Using a rubric, I judge their submissions and choose a winner. This gets the members motivated to write more and to think about their writing process instead of trying to throw up words onto a page. I also used those events to choose twelve winners for the group anthology. It took a year to put together but the anthology (published this past month) is a big success. We already have annual anthologies planned.
  10. Have fun. Have compassion. I’m hoping that you’re creating your writing community because you want a place to be yourself with other people. If not, you should still remember to always have fun. Some people get on Facebook to learn new things and meet new people in a relaxed environment. In other words, they don’t want it to remind them of being trapped in a classroom. Have comical chats and on-topic meme wars. Most of all, remember to be kind to your members. Always listen, try to resolve their issues as best you can without compromising your own group, and treat them as your equal. Just because you created the online community does not mean you have the right to be hoity-toity over them. You may have created the community, but your members are what make it a community. Remember that and you’ll do great.

Publishing Short Stories Separately: Worth It?

The answer is no. Unless you write a tiny version of a million-dollar idea or are into the Erotica genre, it isn’t worth publishing short stories outside of anthologies. You will not make your money back. I have personal experience from this and both of my stories Hazardous and Virthrandel are very successful. But they aren’t Rowling or Patterson successful and that’s the problem. I have made the money back from the novels I have published but otherwise, I would be throwing money at a hobby. My suggestion is to look into publishing companies that host annual anthologies in various genres and submit your short stories for those. That or compile a collection of similar shorts together and publish them in your own anthology. Either way, do not publish them separately. It is not worth it.

Facebook Advertising: When It’s Good, When It’s Rude

With the massive number of people on social media these days, online advertising is ideal for everyone. There are thousands of groups dedicated to advertising on Facebook and ads pop up all over the page as you try to navigate the site. In most of those cases, those advertisers are only paying a few dollars to advertise with Facebook and it gets seen by thousands. The question every keeps asking is if it brings any revenue or page likes along with the views? The answer is an astounding yes. I promoted my author page on Facebook for a total of $5. In return, I gained over 300 new Likes, sold several e-books, and a couple paperbacks. For $5! What other large social media site can you do that on?

Many people who don’t know how Facebook advertising groups work claim that they’re full of only advertisers. This definitely isn’t the case. Every day, I promote once in each of my 42 advertising groups and receive a couple of Likes here and there and some more e-book sales. Originally, I had joined several of them to get good deals on e-books and to check out new authors. It’s not as big of a return as the $5 but it’s still free.

I run a Fantasy Writers group of nearly 5k members and it just happens to be a non-advertising group. When several people who have recently joined spam the group’s wall, the posts get removed and they get banned. Whenever you join a group on Facebook with the intent of advertising, you always need to read the entire description for the group. Mine has in the first sentence in all capitals “this is not an advertising group” but advertisers still spam the group. It’s extremely rude and isn’t necessary due to there being thousands of advertising-only groups out there. Pay attention and take care where you put your advertisements because while most of the time it will gain you customers, it can also gain you boycotts who aren’t afraid to spread the word.

Chapter Length

One of the discussions that I see online from newbie writers all the time starts with the following question: How long is a chapter? To put it gently, a chapter is as long as it needs to be for your story. Before you continue with a barrage of similarly worded questions, stop for a moment and think of the stories that you have read. James Patterson has mere paragraphs for chapters. J.K. Rowling has several pages. Why? Because it works for the story they are telling. Patterson writes thrillers so to leave each scene cut off by the start of a new chapter makes the book feel more fast-paced and that need to devour the entire book in one sitting. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is geared towards a young audience so the chapters are longer due to taking the time for details and explanations.

In my novel The Dragonscale, the first chapter is 14,923 words. The second is 7,580. The third 3,606. The shortest chapter is barely over 1,500 words. That’s a drastic difference of chapter lengths in just one novel of 72,528 words. It’s written in Third Person Omniscient with four main character POVs (point of views) and falls heavily under the Fantasy genre.

In my short story Hazardous, one of the chapters is just barely over 1,000 words. If the story had called for it, each chapter could have been 500 words or less each to make up the 5,000 word book. However, the story called for longer chapters and as such, it ended up having only four.

The main point behind this post is this: stop researching every little thing, stop pulling questions out of thin air, stop spending years building a world you still haven’t written in. Stop everything and just sit down and write the story. You can only tell if it’s terrible after you’ve written the first draft.