In Your Corner: Why Network?

Imagine you are standing on the shore of a large pond. You throw a pebble into the middle of the water and watch the concentric circles ripple out away from the point of impact.

rock ripples water

Now imagine YOU are the rock. Those circles represent your networking opportunities when it comes to promoting your book. The analogy works because each circle of influence depends upon the success of the circle before it.

You are the rock. The first circle is your family. The second circle represents your friends. Then your acquaintances, and so on. In other words, you have to market your book successfully to people you know before trying to market to people you don’t know. Two easy ways to network with people you don’t know is to join an email discussion list and participate in a social media group–on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, or elsewhere!

Ask yourself what “circle” you are on… if you have not yet mastered marketing to people in your close circle of friends and family, how will you expect perfect strangers to be interested?

There is no time like the present to contact your circle of friends and associates, even if for the first time.  If you already contacted everyone you knew back when your book was published (no matter how long ago), it’s okay to do it again. They might like seeing how far you have come as a self published author! They might even mention you to someone in their circle of friends … and that is how networking to strangers begins.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, 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.

Navigating the Network | The Art of Self Promotion (part III)

Three weeks ago, I sketched out a few of the challenges facing self published authors looking to build their brands in the digital marketplace, and I made specific note of how great social networks can be as tools of self promotion.  Last time I blogged, I looked at the second and third of my top five points to keep in mind regarding self promotion, and recommended cultivating your physical network as well as developing physical promotional materials.  This week, I’m going to wrap up my top five points with a few words that count both as caution and encouragement––simultaneously!

To get right to the point:

4. Self promotion of any kind takes time.  And energy.  And constant attention.

Perhaps this is my caveat.  As I mentioned earlier, you’re not just in the business of self-promotion––as someone who’s interested in self-promotion, you’re actually in the business of writing.  So when weighing the pros and cons of starting a Twitter account or creating a blog on Tumblr specifically with the goal of promoting your book, consider the learning curve.  Consider the fact that the time it takes to establish a presence and reach your audience through social networks is directly proportional to how much time you put in, and that there’s a considerable element of pure luck involved.  Most tweets languish in the ether unread, and most Tumblr posts are not reflagged, and most Facebook followers are dormant, or run by bots.  So while all of these networks have potential to launch you into instant and global success, they are often high-maintenance and low-reward.  And they are habit-forming

As with all other forms of promotion, you must be deliberate about your use of social networks, carving out time on a regular basis to devote to building your brand.  Thirty minutes a day, three days a week, or every day during your fifteen-minute break between work shifts––whatever it takes, but not much more.  Because let’s face it: As someone who’s interested in self-publishing, you have other things to do.  You need to not just leave time for the other facets of your life––writing, working a job, working three jobs, family, and so on––but be able to throw yourself into them with passion and energy.

5. Everything changes.

If the rise of self-publishing and the ebook has demonstrated anything about the publishing industry, it’s that nothing can stand still for long.  This may be a disquieting fact for traditional publishing and the markets that rely on it, but opening up one’s options to change can also be a diversifying, enriching, and rewarding experience.  The digital and self-publishing revolutions are beginning to reach maturity, but on the whole they’re keeping a weather eye out for new changes, and new opportunities.  Perhaps the most key feature for success in self-publishing (and self-promotion) is a willingness to take advantage of them.  Keep asking questions.  Figure out what options work for you, and what feels comfortable for you, and what is too frustrating or too complicated or taking too much time––and adjust your daily practices as necessary.  Keep interrogating your options.  If a new technology becomes available, or a new acquaintance walks into your life, or a new story drops into your mind, don’t hold back.  After all, this is a business built on dreams.

This was just a primer!  You can find the first and second posts of this series here and here.  Check back every Wednesday to read more about the art of self promotion.  Over the coming weeks, I’ll be diving deeper into the how-to details of managing both social and physical networks.  If you have a question about any of these tools for self promotion, would like to hear from me about something specific, or have other big news to share, please comment below!

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.

Navigating the Network | The Art of Self Promotion (part I)

Ten years ago, self-publishing was by and large the province of wishes and dreams, and its successes were so rare that they warranted national attention.  In the early 2000s, authors like Christopher Paolini (author of the Inheritance cycle of fantasy novels) performed exhaustive regional trips to promote their books, visiting schools, libraries, and local coffee shops in a sometimes-desperate attempt to build a market base.  As the traditional publishing industry has struggled to overcome both infighting and growing competition from digital retailers––and as new avenues have opened up for authors looking to publish outside of these traditional structures––all parties have turned to a parallel revolution in hopes of finding assistance.  That revolution, you will have already guessed, is the tangle of startups, failures, and increasingly pervasive communications networks that we call, collectively, Social Media.

Fast forward to the present day, and you find yourself witness to the rise of these two new revolutionary forces––a self publishing industry with a substantial slice of the present ebook and print publishing market, and the aforementioned popular social networking platforms, typified by Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on.  It would be easy to link these two forces together, and to assume that a successful presence on the one side will equate to equal success on the other, but this isn’t strictly true.  Many new authors find themselves lost in the complications of navigating this network––so how might one make it safely through the white water? 

The task of building a brand, or finding a tribe, is tricky––but not impossible.  It is important to keep five points in mind from the very beginning.  Today we’ll examine the first of these points:

1. Social networks are fantastic tools.

Tweets can outdistance sonic waves, as the Daily Mail reported in May, and Facebook has proved invaluable in linking dissidents, outmaneuvering government censors, and supporting revolutions.  Social networks combine the appeal of a grass-roots movement with enormous computing power, a vast sociopolitical reach, and instantaneous delivery.  Authors like Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking have become internet sensations (and self-publishing success stories) in part because they are so intensely engaged with their readers online.  You can use Facebook to build a fan page and coordinate events in cities across the world.  You can utilize Tumblr’s built-in question function to respond to readers’ queries about purchasing details or the more obscure details of a character’s backstory.  And with its 140-character limit and endlessly useful hashtag feature, Twitter is the ultimate paradise for spreading news and reviews.  While it might be a bit of an overstatement to say that social networks can do everything and anything, they can certainly do a great deal for the burgeoning author.

Check back every Wednesday to read more about the art of self promotion!  Next week, we’ll be looking at the analog social network––that is, what you can do to build your platform as an author even before you plug in to Facebook and Twitter.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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.

5 Reasons Some Self-Publishing Authors have no Online “Street Cred”

You’re following the advice you’ve been given on self-publishing blogs such at this one. You’ve started a blog and are updating it regularly. You’ve got a small following on Twitter, Facebook, etc., but are you still feeling like no one’s really listening to you? Well, first off, it can take a while to get to the point where you have a “true following” because people are still feeling you out. They haven’t really gotten to know you, and they don’t know if you’ll be around for a day, week, month, year, etc. So, know that time can be your biggest enemy when you first get started. Once you’ve overcome the time barrier (usually after about 3 months or so), there may be another reason you aren’t getting noticed online.

Here are some of the top reasons that no one is listening to you online:

  1. Everything (or mostly everything) you post online is a request for people to buy stuff. People don’t like being sold, and that’s the quickest way to shut down interaction between you and your audience. Let them buy from you because they like you, not because that’s all you ever talk about online.
  2. You don’t provide anything of value. Have you ever heard of the acronym WIIFM? If not, it means “What’s in it for me?” By nature, humans are selfish, and if you aren’t giving them what they need/want, you’re useless and not worthy of their time — online or otherwise.
  3. You don’t play well with others. Could people feel put off by what you saying online? Are you being derogatory or insulting in any way? Make sure you are being sensitive to the issues of your audience and worse yet, don’t get into online arguments with others.
  4. You’re off when they’re on and vice versa. Are you posting at a time when your audience is actively online? Are you sleeping while they’re browsing? Unless you are scheduling your updates (which is highly recommended), you are missing your audience. You want to be most active when they are.
  5. You’re not connected with the right people. Are you missing the boat altogether? Make sure your audience knows that you’re out there. It’s fine to connect with others who may be outside of that demographic. However, you want to make sure you are reaching the people who could buy your book.

All of the above can be summed up into one simple sentence: Be where they are when they are, be nice, and give them what they’re looking for.

DISCUSSION: Have you ever missed the mark on connecting with your audience?

 

Weekly Recap:

Quick Question – What is Self-Publishing?

5 Things to Look For in a Self-Publishing Company

Bookstores Are In Trouble and What this Means to Your Self-Publishing Marketing Plan

Self-Publishing Book Review of the Week

Determining What Book Readers Want

Your book content – fiction, non-fiction, children’s, religious – naturally presumes a value to readers intending to be entertained or learn something from your work. How do they decide they want to read your book?

They don’t. You do. Sound like an incredible power? It is. It’s name: Marketing

When Thomas Edison turned 16 do you suppose he wanted a Tesla Roadster? Probably not. In order to want something you need to know it exists. One definition of marketing is convincing a a mass of people to want what you have. That puts you, the author of your book, in the cat bird’s seat. Who knows your book better than you, after-all.

How readers know about books has changed a great deal over the past decade, and my guess is that trend will continue. With Amazon, Twitter, Podcasts, Bookfinder, etc. we no longer rely on a single-minded source for telling us about books. A good CEO (the self-published author) knows how to leverage the expertise of others and delegate work. Consider the long-term. Research self-publishers with ongoing marketing support and services. Being published is rarely even enough.

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Affiliate Opportunites in Self-publishing

With the inevitable explosion of print-on-demand, there are more authors than ever before dipping their feet into the self-publishing game. In fact, the term dipping feet may be an understatement considering the volume of new, developing, and somewhat esoteric information involved in self-publishing. Some authors come from the traditional arena and have a degree of knowledge and understanding corresponding with their experience. Other authors may have independently published books in the past, consider themselves savvy, and are now seeking the advantages that come from joining forces with a full-service print-on-demand self publisher.

The great majority, however, are new authors, anxious to learn, but not possessing much history or background in the industry. They often rely upon the information they read on the internet, hear from friends/associates, or receive from their publisher. In fact, the term self-publishing has expanded in scope to include publishing content in blogs, forums, online newsletters, even videos.

You may find yourself somewhere along that continuum or in the process of researching publishing options for your own material. Have you considered that your expertise can benefit other writers while at the same time earning you additional income? The process is called Affiliate Marketing and a great opportunity offered through various self-publishing leaders.

Affiliates can often earn up to 10% or more for each author they refer. Here are the nuts and bolts:

It’s perhaps the easiest and fastest way to share your knowledge as an industry thought leader while at the same time earning extra income in the home based internet business, and you do not have to develop your own service. Instead, generate revenue by simply referring authors to recognized, professional custom self-publishing services through the credibility your experience provides. What’s more, you get to see the investment that comes from seeing authors reach their publishing goals.



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Have fun and keep writing

Self-publishing – know your market and have a plan.

The reason books sell has little to do with content quality. At least initially. Just like any other product on the retail market, books sell because readers know about them.

Some books have the advantage of author platform, or industry applicability, and can hit strong out of the gate. The more nebulous quality of fiction can result in a slower start, but a much longer shelf-life.

The point is this, know your market and leverage your resources to meet those potential readers. Outline a marketing plan with your self-publisher that takes advantage of internet marketing and retail resources like Amazon who has pre-qualified readers based on profiles and virtual book pairings.

Work smarter. Work harder. Become a successful self-published author.


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