Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 2)

Last week, I launched a new summer series on self-publishing, particularly as regards publishing and marketing your book during this busy time of year–and how to take advantage of our July theme of freedoms and independence while doing so!

Today, I want to talk about the flip side of freedom.

You might call it … UNFREEDOM*.

(*After all, there has to be some sort of language to describe the opposite of ‘freedom’ which isn’t problematically tied to this nation’s long and deeply troubling relationship to captivities of various kinds … right? I’ll make the attempt, while recognizing and honoring the tight spot into which the English language … and the history of American expansion … has put me. Here goes!)

Point: Self-publishing authors are constrained by their circumstances, and therefore limited as marketers of their works. Let’s slow down and look at some of the speed bumps in our way!

independence, bird

Time.

The first constraint you’re likely to hear about when talking with self-publishing authors about their marketing attempts is how difficult it is to find the time to market well! After all, most indie authors aren’t living lives of leisure; they’re working, sometimes multiple jobs, to pay the rent and bring in the groceries. They usually have families; often, young kids and sleepless nights are also on order. In this kind of typical environment, it’s hard enough to find time to sleep much less write much less market your books for sale to the general public! And this problem also often inspires a great deal of self-doubt and frustration, as the marketing goes on.

Why don’t people just buy my book already? Hint: if it were that easy to sell books, traditional publishing houses wouldn’t have dedicated marketing staff, either! As a self-publishing author, you’ve written and signed a contract with yourself to do whatever it takes to become a published author … and that includes signing away a large chunk of your time.

Suggestion #1: Protect your time by slowing down long enough to sort out your priorities, and set a schedule that is both ambitious … and attainable.

Money.

Here’s the other big speed bump, right? If you don’t have the time, energy, skills, or access to do what needs doing in order to market your book, you’re going to have to fork over some cash to make it happen! Of course, how much you spend is going to vary greatly depending on what path you take towards publication; vanity presses often tout their marketing successes, but often prove disappointing in results anyway, and the really good self-publishing companies–with dependable, expert staff who’ve been in the business long enough to give you a really good leg up–cost a pretty penny.

Spending some money is unavoidable. Breaking the bank … is.

Suggestion #2: Guard yourself against both amazement and disappointment by doing your research ahead of time. Don’t trust a company’s own press releases for your data, either! Do your due diligence and check out customer reviews, and as with my suggestion for time, go ahead and slow down long enough to plot out what services you can take care of effectively on your own … and which ones you really need help with!

Energy.

Alright–it’s time to take a deep breath and feel your body for a moment. Are you sitting in a chair? Criss-cross-applesauce on the hardwood floor? Hanging from the rafters? Are you comfortable? Are you feeling … a little … sleepy?

We’ve mentioned this every now and again on SPA, but it’s always worth mentioning again: a person doesn’t wake up each morning with endless energy! Energy is a budgeted resource, and your body has no qualms about letting you know when you’re close to running the tank totally dry. Like, right now, my eyes are burning from having worn contacts all day, my knees are aching from walking in to work, and I can’t stop yawning no matter how hard I try–all of which are signs that I’m about a half hour from keeping the neighbors up with my zzzzs.

As a self-publishing author, you need to pay close attention to your energy level: it comes at a premium, and just like time, once it’s spent you’re done. There’s no writing when tired, and even coffee will only get you so far. Sleep, my friends, is inevitable!

Suggestion #3: Build some select mindfulness-based practices into your daily writing routine. Check in with your body when you sit down in your chair. Are you actually feeling good and comfortable–and energetic? If your body is screaming “NO MORE! I CHANGED THIRTY DIAPERS TODAY!” then it may be time to back off, allow yourself to get some sleep, eat the right kind of meal, and do a thing which brings you joy. Make a promise to yourself to come back the next day in a better frame of mind and body, and I guarantee you’ll produce better work–work you can be proud of!

Skills.

Look … we’re not all born with a Wacom tablet or a Master of Business in our hands! It’s okay if you don’t know how to set up social media accounts … THIRTY DIFFERENT WAYS … or how to design your own book cover, including blurb, ISBN, LOC numbers, and so on and so forth.

Knowing what your skill set is, and how best to take advantage of what you already know how to do, is absolutely imperative! So, too, is knowing where your skill set runs out, and therefore when you ought to turn to established and verifiable experts–such as those employed at various self-publishing companies, or working on a freelance basis.

Suggestion #4: Before you sit down to submit your book for publication, sit down and sketch out all of the different little processes which go into making a book, from start to finish. EVERY SINGLE ONE. (There ought to be at least thirty!) Only then can you come back and say–“Ah, yes, I can easily take care of those, but not anything to do with Goodreads giveways or writing a press release!” Listing everything will feed straight back into allocating where you spend your time, money, and energy … so make sure you get it right before the wheels are in motion and momentum is pulling you in another direction!

Access.

Last but certainly not least, one of the most oft-mentioned barriers to self-publishing–an unfreedom–is the strictures placed upon indie authors by those with the knowledge and access to make things happen. Indie authors are often left out in the cold, with no recourse but to generate their own networks and influences from scratch … which, yes, can work but often doesn’t. Meanwhile, traditional publishing houses–who have, by the way, refused to evolve to fit the changed world around their signature markets!–snigger behind their hands and offer little or no help at all … because, I assume, they don’t want the competition.

Oh, if only you could imagine all the wonderful ways we might help each other!

But what a pipe dream. Traditional publishing houses have good reasons (from a business point of view) to try and uphold their monopolies by restricting access and denying support to indie authors looking to break out. I’m talking about everything from email lists of potential customers who they hold in reserve, contracts denying their authors from collaborating with self-publishing authors, and so on.

Access is a big problem for indie authors. If you don’t know who to get in touch with to get this certain thing done, it doesn’t get done.

Suggestion #5: Don’t despair. As I’ve mentioned, some authors have made it! There are some existing networks and resources in place to help you … but just don’t expect to find easy access to knowledge and the means to act upon that knowledge within more “mainstream” or “traditional” circles. I mean, take us for example. We’re here for you–every week!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Conversations: 9/23/2016

PROMOTING YOUR BOOK—EVERY WAY—EVERYWHERE!

A book-lovers miracle took place back in 1939. The Pocket Book publishing company began printing book for $0.25 cents. Traditional publishers did everything they could to stop it. They were going to lose money if this crazy idea caught on. Well, it did! Suddenly people in the U.S. began reading all the time! The first books were reprints of best sellers and classics such as The Lost Horizon by James Hilton (sold 2,514,747) and Topper by Thorne Smith (1,546,000). Can you imagine not having affordable access to those—or our own recently published books?  This revolution in marketing was a blessing to the world much like the production of eBooks today.

giftcard

Now the question for us is, “How can we do ALL that we need to do get our books noticed and purchased?” Often our budgets are small to begin with and the marketing column is the smallest. Several years ago, one of the self-publishing companies I’ve worked with came up with the idea of providing Gift Cards for authors no matter what stage of writing or publishing they were in. This was before the Facebook “GoFundMe” pages began to appear, however the concept is basically the same. Family, friends, author-communities and neighbors can help financially support an Author—basically donating funds to give the author more options for such things as: completing their book with editorial assistance, hiring a professional cover Designer, or working with an experienced Graphic Designer to prepare a video-trailer to market the book online. This is such a great way for a lot of people to share in the publishing adventure right at the beginning of our own writing journey.

The first place I recommend for investing Gift Card funds is with a Marketing Expert who specializes in promoting book and the genre of books you are writing. Even before your book is ready for release, this person will become your new best friend. I cannot express how valuable their expertise is in today book-world. Much like the innovative thinker who began the Pocket Book company, your personal marketing assistant will be the person who thinks WAY outside the box giving you priceless strategies for getting and keeping your book in view of Readers everywhere. First they will listen to you and collect all the information about your book that you can give them. Then they will develop a plan of action—tasks for you or them—to do today, tomorrow and next year. Arranging book signings at local venues from bookstores to book-friendly coffee houses is high on their lists. They will also help you create a brand and/or platform as well as an “online presence” through all the social media sites possible. Yes, indeed, these folks are amazing people whose gift to us is moving us forward beyond our own expectations.

Also right up top of my helpers list is the PRESS RELEASE writer. An author’s relationship with this person may be short. However, an exceptionally written Press Release is a top priority. One thing to ask when selecting the person you’ll work with is HOW WIDE is their distribution. The publishing of your book is not only a remarkable event in your life it is also an Event that needs to be noticed in the publishing world. Working with a professional and creative Press Release writer will help your launch your book and grab the attention of reviewers in newspapers and online—everywhere. ⚓︎


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

In Your Corner : What You Need to Know About Book Fairs

Book fairs are wonderful.  They are also terrifying.  Where else can you find tens of thousands of highly passionate literary fiends massing together to further the art form that is the book?  Where else can you find teeming crowds of people determined to find their next bit of reading material, and eager to simply browse among hundreds of tables of books and authors on display in order to find it?  Simply put: nowhere.  The book fair is an experience unparalleled by anything else in the reading and writing world, and because it most often reflects the best aspects of the writing and reading and publishing processes, it has quickly evolved to make room for you, the self-publishing author.  Many self-publishing platforms and hybrid publishing companies send representatives to book fairs.  Many, like Outskirts Press, will even sponsor booths in order to feature self-published books at home and abroad.

London Book Fair
 

Case in point, the 2014 London Book Fair is world-renowned & well-attended.

 

So, what do you need to know about book fairs?

First, you need to know your audience. 

What kind of person attends a book fair?  Interestingly, the London Book Fair has already answered that question and thoroughly; according to the LBF website, the 2015 event drew exhibitors from 60 countries and some 25,000 attendees from 124 countries.  In attendance also were around 900 members of the media, also from all over the world.  Since Planet Earth only sports around 196 countries at the moment, this means that the London Book Fair managed to represent at least 60% of the world’s population in some way, shape, or form!  Not every book fair can lay claim to such a draw, of course, but it serves as a good example of the power of books to bring people together.

There is no one-size-fits-all description for who attends a book fair.  The LBF welcomes “anyone who is involved with the creation, distribution, sale or treatment of content.  Authors, talent scouts, editors, designers, digital gurus, all walk the floor, meeting, talking, observing, discovering.”  I’d like to re-emphasize the digital gurus part of that sentence, since the LBF had 400 delegates at the Publishing for Digital Minds Conference.  If you’re a self-publishing author who’s looking to make a break into digital formats–or perhaps digital formats are your only or preferred option–there is still room for you at a book fair!  Whether you go as an attendee, a vendor, or wholly solo, the conversations you begin and the display zone in which your book is featured will reflect your digital-friendly nature.  Often, fair-goers will pause, snap a picture of a QR code, and queue new ebooks for immediate or future download–on the spot!  That’s the power of the digital-friendly book fair.

London Book Fair

Second, you need to know you belong there.

I know that it’s easy to think of book fairs as the stomping ground of the New York Times bestseller list and not for midlist authors–much less self-starting indie authors!  But making the leap to recognizing the value and worthiness of your book to keep those Big Names company at a book fair is an important one to make.  I can’t necessarily teleport to your location and give you a pep talk, but I can use this space to encourage you, I hope.  Your book is wonderful.  It needs to be read.  Critical acclaim and a blurb in notoriously biased magazines or ranking in notoriously rigged bestseller lists  doesn’t make a book better or more inherently deserving.  It just means someone with the right access to people and time and resources put out a book perfectly timed to fit into the publishing machine.

But you’re already a rebel.  You’re already striking out on your own, dispensing with the false and burdensome values of traditional publishing.  You and your book are free to take advantage of scaffolding like book fairs without being shackled to the rest of it, and your book is a bonafide example of an author designing and creating and publishing exactly what he or she envisioned.  That kind of artistic integrity creates its own gravity, its own magnetic attraction to readers.  Fair-goers will pick up on that authenticity right away!

Third, you need to make your book the star of the show.

What’s the trick to making sure fair-goers notice your book?  Creating intimacy in a warehouse-like environment.  If this sounds like an impossible task, let me be the first to assure you that it’s not.  Take a look around you whenever you next step foot in a mall or retail space, public library, or family-friendly health clinic.  How do those professionals section off space and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere?  Take note of what you personally respond to–because your ideal readers will most likely respond to the same.

London Book Fair

Often a busy or crowded space isn’t the most comfortable environment to spend time talking or browsing for new reading material.  Think of Starbucks–and of bookstores like Denver’s the Tattered Cover.  Both of these companies use small nooks to great effect, and it’s not by just packing in a lot of stuff and posters and wallpapering the whole area with product information.  A book fair is not a bookstore; it doesn’t revolve around books.  A book fair revolves around authors and the worlds that they create.  People can order whatever they like off of Amazon and have it in their hands with far less expense of time and energy and money than attending a book fair–but people still flock to them!  And why?  Because they want to participate in the social world of books.  They want to meet the people who make books happen.  They want to meet you.

So, how do you make your book the star of the show?  You winnow down your display and your presence to the absolute essentials, and you focus on building human connections with the people there.  And the London Book Fair is just the beginning–your book could just as easily find new readers in Beijing or Frankfurt!  All you need is the confidence to go, and perhaps the support of those who have gone before.

Always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Marketing BASICS : Investing in a Little Advice

Your book isn’t just a product, as neat and simple as that might seem to make things when it comes to marketing; it’s much, much more.  It is, in every way and shape and form, an investment.

  • you have already invested valuable time, energy, and other resources in writing it; and
  • you will continue to invest valuable time, energy, and other resources in marketing it.

More importantly, however, you should constantly monitor how you are spending these resources in respect to spreading the word and promoting it to fans and followers and readers alike.  In a impossibly cool and detached financial sense, you need to know when you’re spending more on your book than you should be––and then be prepared to take action.  (Though, let’s face it, who of us is ever cool and detached about our precious offspring of the imagination?  Not I.)  The Return on Investment (ROI) of your book should always reflect a balanced approach and a sustainable increase of returns.


 

Welcome back to my series on marketing B.A.S.I.C.S.!  This is the fifth in a series of blog posts where I tackle the fundamentals of marketing in hopes of making things a little more manageable for you, the self-publishing author.  Four weeks ago I launched the series with this introductory post, followed by:

This week, as you might have guessed, we’re taking a look at:

  • I. “Investing in a Little Advice.”

So, what happens when your investment isn’t paying off?

First off, I’d like to remind you that no matter what profit you make off of your book in financial terms, it’s an absolutely fantastic thing that you’ve done!  You’ve written a book!  You’ve published it!  You’ve sent it out into the world for others to be changed by!

Secondly, I’d like to clear up a myth about self-publishing: you don’t have to go through it alone.  Let me phrase it a little differently:

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

I wish I had known this sooner––I wish I’d felt convicted of the truth of this sooner.  I’ll be the first to admit that one of the greatest appeals to me of self-publishing is that it provides a platform to and a haven for the fierce individualist, exactly the sort of person to incur the wrath of Traditional Publishing for wanting too much artistic control, among other things.  But the truth of the matter is that self-publishing is for everyone, including the insecure first-time author, including the burnt-out and disillusioned veteran author, including the technologically-challenged author, including the risk-averse author, including authors who find themselves at the end of the rope and in desperate need of assistance.

The indie community isn’t just a community of self-assured and confident entrepreneurs; we’re far more diverse than that.  And the indie community is a remarkably non-judgmental, unsnobby collection of people, in possession of vast and varied resources and an overwhelmingly supportive, generous spirit.  I promise you, if you hop on to a forum or listserv or social media group dedicated to indie authors and pose a question, you will be inundated with advice and shared resources.

Of course, sometimes what you really need is targeted advice.  If you have been posting promotional material to a blog or social media platform for a long time with very little engagement, or if you’ve been spending hours upon hours obsessing over marketing only to sell very few books, it’s time you sought professional advice.  But where to begin?  Even just a quick Google search for “Consultant for self-publishing a book” turns up “About 7,330,000 results,” which says a lot about the growth in this sector of the publishing industry––even once Google’s many duplicates, oblique references, outdated listings, and other “wrong” search results are set aside.  Seven million results!

There are a lot of marketing consultation websites out there geared toward you, the self-publishing author, ranging from freelance consultants (including many who’ve transitioned from being publishing consultants within Traditional Publishing) to personal marketing assistants with hybrid/self-publishing companies.  Freelance consultants can be excellent, but it’s difficult to know which ones have the know-how you need.  The benefit of going through a hybrid/self-publishing company is that every consultant has been vetted for expertise, experience, and the quality of their insight.  That’s a pedigree worth exploring.

marketing consultant

No illusions here: when it comes to seeking professional advices on marketing your book, you’ll have to spend some money.  Remember how I spoke about your book as an investment?  So too any money you spend on marketing is the same.  The only difference is, exchanging money to save yourself the time and energy and frustration of sorting out all the details on your own is what we might call a “fair market value.”  It’s worth it, in other words, to see your book’s future set on a solid foundation and to use your time far more effectively in writing the next book.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “5 Ways to Increase Book Sales by Giving Away the First Chapter”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: June 17th, 2011 ]

I love Amazon!  I frequently search for books on Amazon.  I pay attention to what Amazon recommends for me.  I have a Kindle and often check Amazon’s list of “Top 100 Free” Kindle Ebooks.  As a reader, the choices for “what to read next” are endless.  My “to read” list is never under 25 books.  Readers have so many choices these days, so, as an author, how do you convince readers to choose your book to read next?

One idea is to give away the first chapter of your book.  Everyone likes getting something for free, right?  The first chapter will give the reader a taste of the book and will entice them to want to read more.  There are a few ways you can get your first chapter into the hands (or onto the screens) of your potential readers:

  1. Add a message in your email signature asking your contacts to let you know if they would like to receive a copy of the first chapter of your book.  For those who reply, send them a PDF copy of the first chapter and let them know where to buy the hardcopy if they like it and want to read more.
  2. Put an ad in your local newspaper with a short (1-2 sentence) synopsis of your book, inviting potential readers to email you for a PDF copy of the first chapter for free.  When you email the file to these contacts, let them know where to buy the hardcopy if they like it and want to read more.
  3. Similarly, put an ad on Craigslist (in the “free” section) with a short synopsis of your book, inviting potential readers to contact you for a free PDF copy of the first chapter.  And – you guessed it! – when you send it to them, let them know where to buy the hardcopy if they like it and want to read more.
  4. First Chapter Plus publishes and distributes a monthly e-catalog, which includes the first chapters of print and digital books, and mp3 clips of audio books to over 35,000 opt-in subscribers.  This listing will include the necessary details for where potential readers can find and purchase a copy of your book.
  5. If you’re a blogger, publish the first chapter of your book in a blog post or link to a PDF file where your readers can open the first chapter and read it.  Be sure to let readers know where to buy the book once they’ve read the first chapter and want more.  Author Ian Lurie actually allows his viewers to read the entire contents of his book, Conversation Marketing, online.  See how he does this here: http://www.conversationmarketing.com/internet-marketing-book/

DISCUSSION: What are some other ways that you might distribute the first chapter of your book to potential readers?

by Kelly Schuknecht

The world has shifted somewhat since 2011.  By that, I don’t mean to suggest that my original points are somehow now invalid––they’re all still great ideas and, except for the newspaper advertisement and First Chapter Plus (which runs about $100 for one month of promotion) they’re free–but I do mean to introduce social media to this list.  Back in 2011, most of the more popular websites (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) already existed––but they hadn’t yet quite reached the cultural tipping point where they are now at, where a single post can go viral and by force of sheer momentum, alter reality offline, outside of the internet.  This makes for some very good news for you, the self-publishing author, especially when it comes to promotions like free sample chapters.

Here are three more ways to get your first chapter into the hearts and homes and hands of your potential readers:

  1. Take advantage of your existing social media presence (and maybe even beef it up a little).  There’s never been an easier way to spread the news that you have a sample chapter out there waiting to be read than by alerting your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Tumblr, and elsewhere.  Not familiar with one of these social media platforms?  It might just be worth taking a look to see whether it might be of use to you, both for this promotion and for other networking purposes.  Except for Tumblr, none of these platforms can actually serve as host for your chapter’s file––with Tumblr, you can just copy and paste into a text post, and it will preserve almost all of your formatting––but part of their appeal is that they create exactly the right kind of “bite-sized” bits of information that makes for shareable content.  My suggestion is this: upload your .PDF file online or steal your Amazon book listing’s hyperlink, and paste that link into a cute little promotional post for each of these platforms.

    Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 6.59.08 AM
    Fans will sometimes do the sharing for you, as with this sample chapter to George R.R. Martin’s next book that appeared on Tumblr recently.
  2. Take advantage of the Kindle Store’s automatic sample*––in several ways.  Did you publish through KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing?  If you did, then 10% of your book is automatically accessible to your readers for free.  It’s worth noting at the outset that one of the downsides to publishing through KDP is that you can’t choose which chapter or what content is made available this way, but such are the hazards of publishing through a large company with little customizability.  If you do publish through Amazon’s KDP, however, take full advantage!  As I mentioned above in point #1, you can grab the hyperlink to your book listing and share the sample chapter’s availability far and wide.  Additionally (or alternatively) you might use the automatic sample as a guidepost to what you should steer clear of including in your own promotion.  If Amazon, for example, offers the first chapter, you might upload a .PDF to your blog of chapter two.  This might prove to be an especially clever move, since dedicated readers will have to access both your Amazon book listing and your personal blog––and doing so increases their exposure to your product, which in turn increases the odds they’ll purchase your book!
  3. Make it visual, and make it embeddable.  Software designer Nathan Barry writes that “moving from a text link to a more visual graphic can double the number of downloads of a sample chapter. That’s expected since it is much more visual and will grab more attention.”  How do you go about doing this?  First, create a graphic snapshot of your book’s cover or first few pages––something attractive that intimates the look and feel of your book––and then use a software app or program like ConvertKit to generate email subscription and download options.  This will create an embeddable piece of HTML code that you can insert into your blog and any other platform that allows for HTML content.

    Authority-Full-Form
    image credit: nathanbarry.com

And there you have it: three new ways to engage your readers with the wonderful promotional tool that is the free sample chapter!

* NOTE: several other publishers, including indie and hybrid self-publishing companies, offer sample chapter options.  You should always inquire after the options by contacting your Personal Marketing Assistant.

 

 

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Marketing BASICS : Selling Readers ON Your Book, Not Just Selling Your Book to Readers

Welcome back to my series on marketing B.A.S.I.C.S. here at Self Publishing Advisor, of which this is the fourth installation.  Three weeks ago I got the series underway with this introductory post, followed by an exposition on the “B” in B.A.S.I.C.S. (“Building an Online Presence“).  Last week, I answered the burning question of “What does the letter “A” stand for, then?” with a not-so-simple answer tackling various ways and means of “Ascertaining Your Ideal Reader.”  This week, as you might have guessed, we’re taking a look at the next letter in B.A.S.I.C.S. as we examine just how to go about Selling readers ON your book––and not just selling your book TO readers.  If the distinction seems a touch unclear, consider it this way: there are a lot of reasons why people do or do not buy specific books, and it only rarely can be defined as ONLY a financial transaction.  Ultimately, a book’s larger success can be credited to the author’s creation (and after, cultivation) a fan following made up of readers who really love and connect to the book.

As I mentioned last week, this series emphasizes marketing for new or first-time authors, but this point––this letter “S”––carries a lot of meaning for even the most experienced of authors.  There’s no point in an author’s professional career––even a blockbuster success of a career––where free passes are handed out.  No matter what stage of the self-publishing process you are at, you must continually strive to connect to your readers, and to create a product that is more than just attractive to them––you must strive to create a product, a book, that blows them away.  Each and every time.  This, too, is one of the most important and foundational of steps to crafting a successful marketing strategy.

selling a book

So, how DO I sell readers on my book?

  • Even before you publish your book, build community.  Spread the word!  Launch countdowns and promotions (like giveaways of Advance Reader Copies, or ARCs) on social media early.  And don’t forget to reach out!  Many first-time self-publishing authors find their most passionate advocates to be other members of the indie community.  Why?  Not only do they understand the rigors and narrative of self-publishing, but they’re by and large a welcoming bunch with extensive and generous networks––networks made up, in part, of avid readers looking for their next great book.  You shouldn’t approach the indie publishing community, online or off, as a chance to steal eggs from someone else’s basket, though: humility is a quality that belongs in the self-publishing community every bit as much as it does in fairy tales.  And, seeing a little of themselves in you, many established indie authors will be willing to put in a kind word for you with their readers.  One day, you’ll be able to pay it forward in the same way.

 

  • Share.  You’re not just selling a book––you’re selling the larger narrative surrounding your book, and that narrative intersects with your own life in ways that you won’t always be able to predict.  A key ingredient to selling readers on your book is to follow in Steve Job’s footsteps and be your own product’s biggest fan; your book is a beautiful and wonderful thing, and your enthusiasm for can be positively infectious.  Never be ashamed to share with your readers your passion for what you’ve created, and to do so in as many creative ways as you can think of: radio and blog interviews, posts to Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr and Vine that reveal the “behind the scenes” elements that give a book its own life and render you, the author, into an interesting character in your own right.  (And trust me, you ARE interesting!  You’ve written a book, after all.  You’ve put a piece of yourself out in the world for other people to engage with and respond to.  Whoa.)

 

  • And last but not least: Publish the book that you would want to buy.  If you’re only halfway sold on the concept, execution, or presentation of your book … well, let’s just say that readers are usually looking for the same things in the books they buy as authors really want to see in the books they publish.  Give every detail of the process––from conception through creation to final publication––the same level of care and attention that you might give to a priceless work of art.  The comparison is only fair, as your book is art.  And I, for one, can’t wait to read it.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Put a Little Soul Back Into Marketing This Christmas

This is the time of the year when there’s snow on the roads in my part of the world, the days are short and dark by five in the evening, and everyone’s going a bit stir crazy.  Tensions are at a fever pitch, but so too is that special brand of optimistic cheerfulness which washes over and around the people I care about.  Some people may not celebrate the religious aspect of the Christmas holidays, but you can’t help but love some of the perks they bring with them: hot cocoa and cider to drink, quilts and kittens and friendships to keep us warm, generosity to celebrate in giving and receiving.

It seems almost callow, perhaps, to talk about marketing in the midst of all this good-feeling.  What does the commercial machine have to do with empathy and generosity?

Here’s the thing: What’s good for you as an author and what’s good for your relationships is also good for business.  

human christmas tree

I’m not just talking about the “family-friendly” or “family-owned” propaganda issued by big businesses like Starbucks or Chipotle or REI; I’m talking about your relationships on a personal level, and starting from the ground up.  The real revolution in how we do business has to start with actual human connection rather than the cold and soulless opportunism that we’ve been taught is the marker of successful companies and their high-level officials.

So this Christmas, I’m not going to encourage you to break out a couple of new strategies for self-promotion success for several reasons–including the fact that I already did so last Christmas: here, here, and here––but rather to refocus on what you consider the most valuable and worthwhile aspects of your relationships.  I guarantee you this: if you put your friendships and your loved ones first, the rest will fall into place.  Friends want to hear about what each other do and love and are working on, and when your relationships are in tune you’ll know instinctively when it’s a good and natural and 100% organic moment to do so.

Who you are as a writer fits within a broader framework of who you are in connection to the other people in your life.  Authenticity isn’t just nice; it’s imperative.  It just makes sense that what’s good for your relationships would be good for spreading the word about your book, and the ingredients for a joyful and happy holiday season would also be the perfect recipe for a productive time for you as a self-publishing author!

 


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.