Category Archives: book marketing

E-book Marketing Simplified

I’ve been working a lot helping authors market their work as e-books lately—and that includes my own books. Guess what? Like everything else, the more time and energy you put into it, the better your returns. But, e-book marketing is not difficult. Here’s a short course in the basics.

There are several sites on which you can upload and sell your e-book including:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Smashwords
  • iBooks
  • Google Books

If you are a first-time author—or first time to e-books, I suggest you start with Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing, specifically the Kindle Select plan. Once you have mastered KDP, the other sites are all similar. Why? Currently approximately 75% of all e-book sales are through Amazon Kindle. If you want to make a name for yourself as an author, you need to increase your sales rank. Maximizing your sales on only one platform will help you to do that. The Kindle Select program easily allows you to create special promotions. Used in conjunction with other promotions, this can greatly increase your e-book sales. Think of it as the snowball effect: Increasing e-book sales in the specific weeks in which you run specials can increase your sales ranking. This gives you increased visibility on Amazon, which, in turn, increases your rankings.

To use the plan you must first make sure that your e-book is not available on any other platform except Kindle. If you have already uploaded your book to other sites, take it down. Then go to your Kindle Direct Publishing “bookshelf” and select the “Kindle Select” option, which increases your royalties to 70%, and set your price at $2.99.

What Next?

Once you have uploaded and published your book, you can start marketing. Now that your book is on Amazon, tell people about it. For the first 45 days of your e-book campaign, you will concentrate on asking the people you already know to buy and review your book. Your goal is to get ten reviews in this period. Ten reviews will allow you greater choice when you do your first e-book marketing campaign.

After your first 45 days on Amazon you can run a one-week price promotion, dropping your price either to 99 cents or free. For your first promotion, I suggest you go with 99 cents.

Next, check out several of the e-book promotion sites that are available. If you don’t have 10 reviews, start with www.choosybookworm.com. There are dozens of other sites, also, each with slightly different requirements. A few I like are www.ereadernewstoday.com, www.robinreads.com, and www.fussylibrarian.com. These sites put out daily newsletters to subscribers telling them about various books deals. The newsletter is free for subscribers, but as an author, you must pay to advertise. Prices run from about $25 to several hundred dollars, depending on the popularity of the site. Some sites increase the price for more popular genres such as mystery.

Once you have signed up for a date for your price promotion, make sure you go back to KDP and change your price for the dates you have selected. It’s very easy to do. On your bookshelf, look to the right of your book cover icon and click the “promote and advertise” icon. This will take you to a new page. Click on the yellow “Create a New Kindle Countdown Deal” button.

Make sure “Marketplace” is set to Amazon.com, not Amazon.UK. Choose the date your deal will start and end. Then choose the price.

Now your first promotion is set.

You cannot, however, just sit back and let it happen. Using an e-book selling site will boost your sales, but you need to help it along. Post your deal on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. If you have a newsletter, send one out the week of your sale and include a link to your book. Think about all of the ways you can let people know that your book is on sale for a week at 99 cents.

Of course, there are no guarantees in life, and the first promotion will rarely take you to number one in your category, unless you happen to have a very small niche market.

As with all marketing, e-book promotions work best when done several times. You can run a promotion once a quarter. The objective is to slowly, over time watch your sales rank increase. It will be at its highest on the first day or two of a promotion, but with luck, after each promotion, your rank will stay higher for longer.

 

10 Tips for Social Networking

Many authors are afraid of social networking. Their excuses are as many and varied as the books they write: “I don’t like the internet,” “I’m shy,” “I don’t know how to do it,” “I’m afraid.” The list goes on and on.

But whether you are using social media, attending an in-person event, or just gathering with a group of friends, networking is about helping others and giving back. If you help others, if you are a friend to others, maybe they will help you. Be a friend first, and don’t worry about what you might receive in return. Isn’t that what our parents and teachers taught us way back in kindergarten? It still holds true.

Let me give you a couple of examples. I was recently at a business networking event and one person mentioned he was looking to rent a new apartment. I moved to another group and heard someone say he had just purchased a new home which has an additional unit he wants to rent. What would you do? Stand there in the room with two people who had matching needs? Or get them both together to see if they could work things out.

It’s the same with social media. An old high school friend who still lives in my hometown mentioned she was looking for a caregiver for her dad. I happened to know someone, even though I no longer live there. I gave them each the other’s email and let them take it from there. Three years later they are still working together.

  • Social networking is about keeping in touch.
  • Social networking is about sharing.
  • Social networking is about making new friends.

That’s not so scary, is it? So just how do you social network? Here are a few tips.

  1. Pick one or two social media sites and learn to use them well. I recommend Facebook as a good place for the novice social networker to start.
  2. Set up your profile and add a photo of yourself; just take a selfie if you have nothing else. Facebook is a place where you can use selfies—but please smile.
  3. Search for a few people you know to “friend” and begin interacting with them; “like” their photos and posts. Add a comment when appropriate.
  4. Posts some things about you. A favorite picture. A quotation you like. And yes, even where you went for lunch or spent the weekend.
  5. Now that you’ve connected, mention you are writing a book. You’ll be surprised at the interest you get.
  6. It’s getting easier, isn’t it? It’s time to look for some Facebook groups for authors and connect. You’ll make some new friends who share your interest in writing and publishing.
  7. Follow the same routine with these groups. Introduce yourself. Like others’ posts. Add appropriate comments.
  8. Continue to mention your book and the progress you are making in writing and publishing. Post a jpeg of your cover.
  9. Once the book is online, post the link to it and ask people to buy it and review it.
  10. Continue to remind people about your book and ask for reviews. Let them know if you are holding an event or doing an online sale.

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Remember, social networking is just about being a good friend.

 

Connecting with Readers: Putting the “Social” in Social Media

Why do we all dread social media? I know very few people—even Millennials—who truly enjoy social media. And when you are using social media to promote your books and yourself as an author, it can feel very, very awkward. The most important word to remember when using social media is “connecting.”

Social media is about connecting with other people—your friends, your family, your co-workers, and of course, your readers. I is about turning your friends and family into readers and your readers into fans who tell other people about your books.

Put Yourself in Your Posts
I’ve been working with a few authors recently on increasing their books sales and the number of book reviews they have on Amazon. All of them have done exactly what I told them: put a note on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account that includes a link to their book showing the cover, and a message saying, in their own words, “I’ve written a book, please buy it, review it, etc.”

The problem is, some of these authors (No, I won’t name you, if you are reading this you know who you are!) have put exactly that. “I recently wrote my first book, XXX. It is on Amazon. I hope you will buy it and write a review about it.
They have gotten some likes, some congratulatory comments, but very few of their social media friends have gone on to buy the book or write a review.

Except one.

What did he write? He wrote a long paragraph, from the heart, explaining why he had written the book, how much it meant to him, and how much he appreciated the support he had had over the years from friends who encouraged him to finish his book.

What happened?

Within minutes ten people purchased his book. Also, several of his friends shared his post with notes to their friends saying some version of, “I know this person and I’m so proud of him.” This resulted in more sales.
Okay, let me be clear, he did not become an Amazon bestseller with one unpromoted post on Facebook. He did make a great start at selling his book.

Show Me, Don’t Tell Me
If you have been writing very long, you have heard the phrase, “show me, don’t tell me.” It means that as writers we need to open up and allow the reader to have empathy for the characters by “showing” them the emotions of the characters through descriptive words. That’s exactly what we have to do when using social media to tell people about our books.

The people on who follow us on social media are our friends. They are interested in what we do. Some of them may be close friends or family, others business acquaintances or readers who are interested in our work. So why do we suddenly freeze and not share our pride and happiness in our books? Being embarrassed to tell people about your books will not get them sold.

What Should You Do?

  1. Create a connection. Don’t just say, “I did this.” Instead, talk about why you did this. How long has it taken you? What were your
  2. Try not to sound stilted. If you think of it as “promotion” you’ll feel and sound stilted and uncomfortable; not at all like yourself. If you allow you’re your honest feelings to show through, your friends will understand that this is important to you and will support you in it.
  3. Don’t just talk about your books. Social media is about sharing. Yes, about the great place you went for lunch, the beautiful flowers you saw, your afternoon with family and friends. The silly, everyday stuff of life.
  4. Respond and Share. If a friend posts something, respond to it, not just by hitting the “like” button, but with an appropriate comment. Share others’ posts, particularly posts that are meaningful to you, or that they are using to promote their own businesses.

There are many additional ways for you to use promoted posts and other social media techniques to reach greater numbers of people, but your friends, and your social media “friends” are your first circle. Reach out to them sincerely and honestly and you may be surprised at the response you receive.