Kelly Schuknecht: The Highlights Reel (part 2)

Today we continue the work began in last Wednesday post as we farewell our longtime contributor Kelly Schuknecht. Kelly is moving on from Self Publishing Advisor to take on new challenges and we wanted to revisit some of her best and most popular posts here. Here are three more posts that really went down in the record books with us and our readers!

self-publishing in december

Here’s a gem for the ages! After all, it’s an evergreen subject; every author needs constant reminders of just how easy it is to miss errors in one’s own work, and of the need for extra eyes on any unpublished manuscript before it goes to press. This post, first published in 2010, really connected with its audience–and that was before Kelly updated the post with further tips and tricks in 2016. This post, and its update, has been one of our top performers of all time, and for good reason: Kelly walks readers through how to utilize an editor, how to get those extra eyes on your work, how and when to leave the manuscript as finished, and several suggestions on how to read the material by your lonesome and still achieve excellent results (clue: the words “out loud” and “backwards” are both used, but not together). This post serves as great proof that good writing will always be good writing, and therefore suggestions on how to craft good words will also remain steady.

Have you even thought about Amazon’s BXGY lately? Chances are that you haven’t, since the program was phased out soon after Kelly’s original post in 2008 (one of her earliest!). It’s worth checking in on the original post just to see how far Amazon’s sales algorithms and promotions have come; back in 2008, this post was so popular it almost broke our analytics, but these days for obvious reasons it’s a quiet corner of the blog. If there’s a moral to be learned here, it’s that the only constant in the age of the internet is change, and Amazon is no exception–and one of our missions, as self-publishing authors tasked with marketing our own books, is to adapt to those changes and try to get ahead of the curve … if we can. That’s one of the reasons we write this blog!

Last but not least (for today, that is), we bring you one of the blog’s highest-performing posts of all time. As with her post on tips and tricks for finding errors in your writing, Kelly’s suggestions in using your first chapter to boost book sales has a serious and ongoing following–because the information is still useful and valid. And yes, Kelly did an update of this post too (in 2016), and it too is a high-performer (statistically speaking). In her original, Kelly walked us through how to use Amazon, email, and even Craigslist to host the first chapter of your book and gain those “preview purchasers,” browsers who are unwilling to commit to a purchase unless they have a chance to look inside first. In her update, she touches on using social media as well as the Kindle app, two of the most popular ways to discover new material these days. We have the feeling that this blog will have a very long-term following, indeed–and we definitely recommend that you check it out (old and new) and leave us your own feedback. This is a post that ought to constantly evolve to fit the times!


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every week to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 6)

goodbye summer

Summer’s Over … What Next?

Here’s a hard thing for me to contemplate, much less say ….

Sometimes, we have to move on.

And at the end of Summer, as we transition into a new school year and all of the challenges and possibilities which it has to offer, I think we have to consider the reality and visceral truth of this statement.

Sometimes, we have to move on.

There’s no better time to do it, really. Ending something, after all, is often a doorway into starting something new–and we all need a reminder of this every now and again, especially when or if we find ourselves stuck in ruts and looking for a way out.

Oh, don’t get me wrong–everything I’ve said throughout this series ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 ) is still true. If you have the willpower and the resources–and everyone has just a little of each, for sure–then you should definitely keep plugging away at marketing your existing, already-published indie books. You should definitely work on innovating your strategies. You should definitely think forward to the holidays now while you have the chance.

But also … you should probably end a few things. If you’ve been hammering away at the same marketing strategy for a while now with no change in sales prospects, it’s time. If you’ve been chipping away piecemeal at a new manuscript and have lost the joy of working on the project, it’s time. If you have been sending queries out to editors, agents, and traditional publishers and receiving only rejections in reply ….

It’s time.

Ending things–bad habits, dependencies, wish-dreams with no likelihood of fulfillment–is agonizing. I have no illusions about that. And it can be absolutely terrifying to cut off something now without a clear plan in place for the future. But if I’ve discovered anything–and I have some personal news to share in the days to come on this–it’s that sometimes you have to end a thing before you can really, truly, and clearly think about what comes next.

So here are my last thoughts in this series, where we have considered oh-so-many ways to sharpen your marketing strategies and hone your self-promotional skills:

  • Recognizing a thing as incomplete, unproductive, or simply “not working out” and deciding to end it is not the same thing as giving up. It’s giving yourself a new way forward!
  • We all face some tough decisions in the days to come, if the news reports are correct, and we simply can’t afford to entrap ourselves in habitual behaviors if they’re not producing the kind of results we need to see.
  • Y’all, our dear readers, give me constant hope that with a bit of diligence, a lot of pluck, and a community of writers and writing professionals to surround ourselves with, we can find a way forward, together ….
  • Even if it means ending a couple of things now.

What have you been trying for a while that isn’t working out? Is it time to tweak or a time to change tracks entirely?


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 outgoing 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

In Your Corner: Start Thinking About Holiday Marketing … NOW!

Remember our “Ringing in the Holidays” post series from late last year? Wouldn’t it have been oh-so-much easier to execute the perfect holiday book sales plan if you’d started just that little bit earlier in the year? Well, I’m here today with a reminder as you start to look down the barrel of yet another end-of-year holiday frenzy: it’s time now! If you want to put your holidays in order, you have to start thinking about your marketing plan today. Yes, in August. If not July!

So let’s make a plan!

First stop: Who’s your audience? You’ll be able to plan an effective strategy only if you know who your ideal readers are–or who their parents with the pocketbooks and credit cards are, in the case of children’s books–and where to reach them, either online and in terms of raising awareness about your book, or in person through events and a campaign that they can conveniently connect to.

Second stop: What’s your format? If your book is digital, then giveaways are a must. An absolute must! There are also some great freebies–free chapters, free peeks, etc–that you can do by integrating your material into your website, social media, and so on. Make sure you give your website a facelift if you haven’t in a while–you want to be ready for the holidays, not just responding to them when they happen!

If your book is print, then yes–giveaways are still a must! But also book signings, book readings, and perhaps even workshops and teaching opportunities. The more ways–and the more creative ways–you can put your book into the hand of a potential buyer, the higher your chances of actually getting that buyer to pull out the pocketbook! Print books offer a great opportunity to distribute shiny merch like bookmarks, postcards, and so on to readers–even when your book may not be present or being sold! Think of the places people pick up their merch–banks, hotels, libraries, restaurant waiting areas–and partner with local businesses to see about featuring your book in these places.

Third stop: Get a move on! By the time those holidays roll around–whether Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas–it’s already too late to put together a comprehensive plan to reach new readers at that time. You really have to think ahead! Which is why we’re here. We’ve been there. If we’re honest with ourselves, we still are there. We know what it’s like–but here’s a guarantee: if you plan ahead, you will sell more books than if you don’t.

Sure, we can take it easy on ourselves, and feed ourselves the same line we did last year: “Oh, but there’s always next year.” And it’s true, for most of us. There will be more time to perfect our methods. But for this book, and this year, there isn’t a moment to waste–and it really would be a shame to push back our perfect holiday season another year simply because we let ourselves off of the hook today. Because for as many wonderful and eloquent “New Year’s Resolutions” posts we put up here on Self Publishing Advisor that we really do intend to keep, there’s always something that gets away from us. So we keep at it. Better todays mean better tomorrows mean a strategically stress-free Fall and Winter 2017!

But don’t worry, I’m not saying I’m anywhere near perfect. All we can ask is that we get a little bit better every go-around, right?

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 5)

august back to school

The corn is well and truly in tassel, and fall is just around the corner, ready to crest the horizon. The evenings grow cooler, but there’s still the tang of summer smoke in the air–all the fire of a season packed with heat and mixed feelings–and it’s time to start thinking of how to make the most of August. Yes, it may be most often called the ‘back-to-school’ season, but we all of us go back to things in Fall. Back to work, back to family routines, back to the marketing strategies we … may … have let languish during the busy summer months.

How can we flip the switch and get back to work?

Here are my recommendations:

  • You’re not the only one who may need a reminder that change is upon us. Use August as an opportunity to launch a special deal or giveaway. You can frame it as ‘back-to-school savings’ or you can use it as a promo for new or upcoming releases.
  • Think visual. Fall is perhaps the most striking of all (or at the very least, one of the most striking) seasons. Take advantage! Your book is a product, and selling a product is at least half of the time about selling an image. If you haven’t created an Instagram and Pinterest, now is the time! These two social media platforms offer a great way of humanizing your brand and showcasing your product.
  • Fall is a great time to get your networking game on! People may not be thinking about taxes just yet, but you certainly want to get your foot in the door before the holiday craze so that they remember your name and your book come tax time–and come the holidays! Connect the dots between everyone you ‘meet’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and even LinkedIn and work those contacts and relationships now, while they’re planning out their budget, calendar, and holiday schemes for the school year.
  • And on that note, it’s time to plan your own editorial and marketing calendar–or at least to sketch out the outlines! Is it your hope to write some newsletters, blog posts, or social media updates in the coming months? Do you have some new work on the horizon? Now is the time to schedule not just your writing time or your own holiday marketing plan–it’s time to lay the groundwork for an entire year of editorial works!

And these are just a few of my recommendations! As you might expect, there are plenty of chances to enrich your opportunities during the Fall. Don’t put things off–start now! A hint of pumpkin spice is wafting on the rising breeze of Autumn ….


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

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 4)

future forecast

As the summer draws to a late middle, it’s time to ask some of the tough questions—questions about the future for you and other self-publishing authors looking to market your books.

So, what is the general outlook for self-publishing in terms of independence?

Everyone seems to have an opinion.

Lorraine Candy, interviewed for The Guardian, thinks that “There is enough evidence to prove that there will be print, and it will continue to be in many forms and be available in many places,” and that the future “will be about working in a much more collaborative, better and bespoke way.” Sounds neat. The Guardian‘s other interviewees have a lot to say about journalism (understandably) and the “disruption” created by social media.

Meanwhile, over at the 2017 London Book Fair, industry vet and the executive director of a publishing business, Kristen McLean writes that “one thing we do know: there is no going back. People now integrate technology seamlessly into their lives, and they do whatever makes the most sense to them as they pursue their goals in a particular moment.” So—disruption isn’t all bad, and we don’t at this point in time have to pick a side in the ongoing Print vs. Digital debate. Says McLean:

The passion of the individual organizes [their] pattern of investigation, not necessarily the content creator. In fact, the most exciting examples of this type of consumption are not usually the product of a single creator or company, and seem to take on a life of their own. (For instance, are you aware of the current slime frenzy? Google it.)

All the same, children’s media and audio—particularly cross-platform audio, available in analog and digital forms—are on the rise. If you’re looking to market a self-publishing book this year, you’ll need to pay attention to the buzzwords associated with these trends. Check out the Publisher’s Weekly article for more!

Jason Illian of Digital Book World begs to disagree—or at the very least, to take a different tack from these other pieces. In an article titled, somewhat snarkily, “The (Real) Future of Publishing” he writes that “Everything being said about the state of publishing is (relatively) true—but not everything that is true is being said, as there are data points and trends being left out of the broad discussion.” What isn’t being said? He cites major shifts at institutions as diverse as Penguin Random House, Wal*Mart, Barnes & Noble, and public libraries as representing a growing confidence in digital, despite talk about plateaus and slow-downs. Says Illian:

When a new technology gets talked up and fails to fundamentally change everything in a short amount of time, the conversation turns negative. But that doesn’t mean change is over. It is the pause in the action, the short breath of time where most traditional firms tout their belief that disruption is over, only to soon find out that real change has just begun. What we are experiencing rather is just the break between the waves. And the next wave could forever change publishing.

Lastly, Justin Pang of Tech Crunch has his own take. Says Pang, “The playing field is starting to level between the most-savvy traditional publishers and top digital native publishers.” This is good news for indie and self-publishing authors looking to break into a crowded market, although Pang’s primary interest is with companies like Netflix and Gawker. It does seem clear, however, that as messaging apps overtake social media for the highest number of user hits per month, that we may need to shift how and where we market our books. As publishing races to catch up to this particular shift, smaller and more nimble indies may finally find themselves on an even playing field.

It’s time to get savvy and experiment with some of these trends. How will you go about marketing in a post-digital, rapidly changing world? We’d love to hear from you; simply drop us a line in the comments section below!


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

In Your Corner: Libraries, the book-lover’s paradise!

public library

Let’s face it, if there’s one place we go to find out information about books, it’s our local public library. Bookstores just feel like such a commitment sometimes, you know? But at a library, the art of browsing is elevated to an art form, and you can feel free to study the shelving arrangement, the genres, the popular nooks and crannies, the competition, and the various ways and means librarians use to “sell” their books to the public–all without feeling guilty for not buying something! In fact, if you’re “caught” browsing in a library and the librarians find our you’re a local author, you’re far more likely to get hooked into giving a book reading than you are to get shushed or to get side-eye from booksellers who really need to sell a certain number of books a day.

Libraries mean unlimited books and unlimited resources for free. And one of the best resources is the librarians themselves. Your local librarian can provide help with, yes, possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, as well as finding answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in that library and much more. Librarians are an amazing source of help and information!

What are some other ways you can promote your book by using the library?

  • Donate a copy (or several copies) of your book to the library. Be sure to go through the proper donation channels.
  • If your book is geared towards children, give a school library presentation on your book’s subject. School libraries are always looking for new books! Just make sure to reach out through the proper channels (i.e. through the principal and administration, as well as the librarian).
  • Connect with librarians via social networks. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are powerful ways to network!
  • Stock promotional materials such as flyers and letters at local libraries. Be sure to include of the essential information about your book such as subject, genre, audience and purchasing information. It’s best to ask if they’d be willing to stock these supplies on their “freebies” counter or in their brochure pocket wall first, just in case they need to check their policies.
  • Ask a librarian to review your book in a local publication. This will bring positive attention to your book and encourage other locals to buy it! You might even be able to get a librarian to review it in your library’s state or regional newsletter, which would encourage other librarians to buy it.

Libraries are a powerful part of your book promotion strategy. Creative marketing tactics can increase your chances of a library stocking your book. They can also lead to great relationships with librarians and readers. The best way to find out what your local library wants is to talk to the librarians. Work on building an honest relationship, and you may just find one your book’s best promoters.

Not sure where to find your local library? Hop on www.publiclibraries.com and search by city, state, or zip code–or you can visit the American Library Association (ALA) at www.ala.org, where you’ll find loads of information on the current state of libraries and how you can get involved, both as a self-publishing author and a lover of books!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author SeLibraries are a book-lovers paradise.  Unlimited books and resources everywhere.  One of the best resources is the librarian itself.  Your local librarian can provide help with possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in the library and much more.  Librarians are an amazing source of help and information.rvices 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.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 3)

Two weeks ago, 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! And I continued the series last week, with a discussion of unfreedom and what constraints are placed upon us as self-publishing authors also engaged in self-promotion by necessity. How does one market a book effectively, without the reach or access or time-honed skills of a publishing company’s full marketing team? (It’s hard, but not impossible.)

This week, seguewaying off of last week’s discussion, I’m here to talk about the freedoms which are possible when working as a part of a team. Not just any team, either–a team of self-publishing authors! Which I think you will find is something of a different proposition from a marketing team at one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses.

teamwork

But first, let’s dispel the myth of the solo indie author, struggling valiantly against the current of traditional publishing, and vanquishing his or her demons alone, without assistance, and for free. It may in fact be true that some indie authors make a success of themselves this way, just as James Patterson and Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling have made blockbuster success stories out of their lives in traditional publishing … all while conveniently ignoring the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of midlist authors struggling to get by, and required, despite their status as “traditionally published authors” to carry the majority of the promotional burden for their books.

Publishing is hard, no matter which way you go about it–and going solo, either in the publication process or all that comes after, harder still.

But freedom can be a collective achievement. You sacrifice nothing by teaming up with your fellow indie authors to sell your books! You lose none of your dignity, your creative control, your independence–your freedoms–but you gain oh-so-much-indeed! 

We’ve talked about the importance of book readings, book signings, and attending book fairs in promoting your book to new readers–but what if you didn’t have to go it alone? Many of the best readings, signings, and other bookish events I’ve attended have been panels, not singular affairs. Pulling multiple authors into one space, particularly indie authors, lessens the load on each participant while multiplying the event’s outreach. Imagine–even if all that happens is that your fellow readers bring their friends and families along, you’ve reached two or three or four times as many friends and families as you yourself were able to bring! That’s no shabby number.

Or, you might consider partnerships with local businesses, your public library, or events like our annual Cherry Festival as opportunities to build a coalition. Some of the fiercest book advocates are librarians and indie booksellers, yes, but don’t forget about the reach of a clerk at the counter of your local quilt store, or a restaurant with a waiting area! Your self-assembled team of advocates doesn’t have to be made up of the expected literary types; your team should make room for readers of all shapes and tastes, and partners who you normally wouldn’t think of. Once you’ve made contact with someone offline, make sure to make them a part of your online presence as well–either as a part of your social media network, or an email newsletter distribution, or something along those lines!

Lastly, you might consider going in for something like a co-op advertisement, something along the lines of this fabulous offering from Outskirts Press. In this case, you may never actually meet your fellow authors, but you’ll help each other out anyway–financially!–by reducing the cost burden on each contributing author. (And watch OP’s yearly deals, too–they often offer seasonal holiday-specific deals on their co-op ads.)

This is just a couple of examples of the kind of collaborative partnerships which can make your life, as an indie author, so much easier! Dig around online and see what suits you, but remember: you’re only freed if the marketing workload itself is reduced by your partnerships, so commit to projects with tangible and measurable outcomes, and clearly defined contributions.

 


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