In Your Corner: Nixing the Social Media

I know, I know, who cuts social media marketing in the modern era?

Well, consider the question. It is entirely possible in the age of social media saturation that many people are at or past a tipping point into social media exhaustion. After all, we’ve been exploiting the digital sphere in every possible way we can imagine ever since it was invented, practically speaking, and people are growing weary of quite a few “overdone” mainstream marketing moves, including holiday sales. Consider REI’s “opt outside” program, a push-back and against Black Friday insanity.

(Incidentally, this is nothing new. The Puritans banned Christmas/Yuletide carols back in 1600s, claiming that to sing them was a political act and an embrace of a “‘popish’ and wasteful tradition […] with no biblical justification” and we all know how far, literally, they were willing to go to enact their beliefs … so, you know, there’s nothing new under the sun.)

Back to book marketing. One of the very good reasons why some authors are pulling away from social media is that they’re over-extended. That is, they’re trying to do too much with too little (time, energy, money) and need to refocus on areas where they see good traction and meaningful engagement. Spending lots of time on maintaining a Twitter account with a following of 25 is a waste if one has truly tried all of the tips and tricks of the trade, particularly if one has, say, a robust following on Facebook.

Growing up, my father always told me time is money. He wasn’t wrong.

time is money

As author and blogger Delilah Dawson writes on WhimsyDark:

We are glutted with information, and yet our answer to “How do I get people to buy my book?” is social media marketing, which is basically throwing more information out into the void.

She’s got a point, too. More information isn’t always what’s needed; meaning and value are what’s needed, and most appreciated, by readers and book-buyers today. Just tweeting or blogging is not enough … each tweet and blog post must provide something the reader can’t get anywhere else, and which adds in some measurable or immeasurable way, to the book-buyer’s life.

Otherwise it’s just white noise. And as Nancy Peacock writes, there are a lot of small ways in which social media can eat away at our happiness and our productivity as authors:

Something was going on in my brain and I knew it. I knew I was in trouble because I could not focus on the book I was trying to write. There’s always self doubt with writing, but this was different. This was more than the question of whether or not I’d be up to the task. I couldn’t concentrate long enough to even enter the flow. My mind was fractured and splintered, my spirit in constant agitation. I felt like I was failing at everything.

I think we’ve all been there, and we may even be there more often than ever now that our computers have become hubs for all manner of distractions, including (as Peacock details later in her piece) social media in all of its forms.

Srinivas Rao, in an excellent piece for The Mission, writes that quitting social media can actually improve quite a few aspects of the author’s life in addition to providing more meaningful content. Says Rao, the benefits include “less anxiety and more happiness,” “presence,” “increased focus,” and “improved productivity.” I don’t know about you, but this month those benefits are sounding preeeetty fantastic.

So, this November, take a moment to consider the possibility of nixing social media. If your immediate knee-jerk reaction is “but I have such great followers!” and it feels like shutting down something vital and important to your creative recharge process, then maybe this isn’t a move you need to make. But if your response is more along the lines of “well, I don’t see much engagement there anyway” or “I probably won’t miss it” … then maybe it’s time to take a step back from marketing your book on social media, or at the very least refocus your efforts on platforms where you have a good toehold.

I know this isn’t a terribly popular sentiment, especially to the companies (like Twitter and Facebook) who monetize your access to social media and turn a profit off of the free content you’re posting on them, but not everyone needs to use every tool in the toolbox. It’s always, always about picking the right tool for the job. Let the other tools wait for authors who will find them better suited to their work, and focus on being “you” and the “best you” possible, in branding as well as other efforts. And as always, we’re here to help support you in your decision!

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.

Survey + In Your Corner: Supporting Future Thinkers

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For the last month, I have been taking a close look at what it means to be a visionary, or a future-thinker–specifically as regards self-publishing. (You can read those posts here and here.) We first looked at what future-thinking is, then ways we can become future-thinkers. But I also posed the question, which has yet to be answered, of how we might support future thinkers.

This week I’m here with a couple of possible answers.

But first, why should we care about supporting other self-publishing authors? The simple, moral answer comes from Abraham Lincoln, who I believe was quoting a certain text many of us hold to be, well, super important:

abraham lincoln a house divided

We ought to care about other authors because of the Golden Rule, because we ought to treat others the way we want to be treated. And interestingly, this moral reasoning also has a certain practical result: if you support other self-publishing authors, you create a community upon which you too can rely when needed.

So, the ways:

Networking is crucial. Through networking, you can make important connections with other authors that can lead to new insights for marketing strategies that the two authors, before meeting, may never have considered. Sharing ideas is the first way to join forces with another author.

If, through sharing ideas, you decide that you could benefit one another’s work, start strategizing with them. Two heads are always better than one. Working with someone else can open up possibilities that might seem too daunting to take on alone. If you want to host an event but don’t want to (or can’t) do so alone, joining up with another local author who will help with the logistics, social outreach and hosting of the event, it becomes a much more reasonable task.

Team up when creating discounts and/or giveaways. Strategically place your books on sale and promote one another’s at the same time during the holiday season and beyond! You then both gain access to one another’s readership that you would not have had otherwise. The readers won’t mind … they like having more books to read and authors to follow.

Utilize digital space and host one another on each of your blogs and/or websites, social media pages, etc. You can do this by featuring a review of that author’s book on your blog and then asking them to do the same for you in exchange. Or simply write up a bio of them with a link to their website page as an equally effective means of promoting them (and in turn, yourself). You could also promote a vlog style interview of that author and vice versa, featuring them as an author in general or asking them specifically about their latest or greatest release.

Whatever you do, always make sure that the joining of forces is mutually beneficial, not parasitic on one end or the other. It is equally as important to make sure you hold true to your end of the plan as it is to hold the other person accountable for their own contributions. Support is always a two-way street, isn’t it?

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.

In Your Corner: How to Become a Future-Thinker

Last week, I started this series on the subject of visions and visionaries, and what it means to be a future-thinker as an author. I teased at the close of that post that I’d be returning to the subject this week with some key pointers on how to become one of these people who manages to “think different” (as Steve Jobs might say) and change the world, or at least the publishing industry as we know it, while at it. I’m here to deliver on that tease!

If you go out and Google “how to become a visionary,” you’re liable to run up against a wall of more clickbait than you’ll know what to do with. I know that did. And worst of all, very little of the advice doled out by heavyweight publications IncPsychology TodayForbesand Business Insider apply to us, as overextended self-publishing authors (often exhausted, or limited in terms of emotional, energetic, and financial budgets to boot), in ways that are both tangible and possible to achieve. Either that, or the points just don’t make sense.

Some of their points, however, we like. I’ve condensed down a list of my top 6 suggestions for steps any self-publishing author can take (or leave, depending on schedule and other constraints). Mix and match to your heart’s content, and know that even if you just make gains on one or two of these points, you’re still making progress towards becoming that great and majestic thing: a visionary.

  1. Examine your routines. Often habits of the mind reflect habits of the body, and while some things simply can’t or shouldn’t be disputed (such as school drop-off or pick-up times, doctor’s visits, mealtimes), quite a lot of the average person’s schedule is occupied by arbitrary space. And the first step to becoming a visionary is being willing to examine the way things have always been … and take steps to break out of that. Maybe your schedule works … but it doesn’t empower you to write as much as you like. Consider what all can go, and lay out some ideas for new routines. Start with some ideas for what you can do next week, some others for next month, and so on.
  2. Take a minute for mindfulness. This can look different for every person, but it’s a consistent component of every breakout author success story that they have found times to sit for a moment each day and think. Just think. Maybe you need to clear your mind. Maybe you need to just focus on one thing for a while—like your book. Maybe you need to work through some steps. If you don’t know what works for you yet, then I have good news: there are plenty of mindfulness strategies to try! I personally prefer to do mine at the end of a day, but I can definitely see the value to switching that up and doing it in the morning, before things get started. I use a mindfulness app, like Headspace, because it’s easy and came as a built-in app on my phone. But YouTube is packed with resources for people looking for guided meditations or mindfulness activities.
  3. Keep nothing sacred. That is, when someone says or suggests something new, and your first reaction is to think “no way!” or “that won’t work for me,” consider why you think that. And keep nothing sacred—because nothing is, not really, except for of course certain cultural or religious things to which I’m not referring here. I’m thinking more about habits, and ways of thinking, and so forth. And reconsidering one’s assumptions is incredibly difficult, since they’re very often, well, assumed. And implicit, under the skin. Drawing out what you assume to be true about yourself and the world—and your book!—is vital to becoming one of those people who can “think different.”
  4. Think of an ecosystem, not individual “things.” Nothing exists in a vacuum, right? Including your work-in-progress. Including this or that writing habit which you’ve picked up somewhere along the line, or this or that routine you’ve decided to follow. Including the publishing industry! When looking to cultivate some of those future-thinking or visionary possibilities, remember that every “thing” or behavior or system exists as part of a network or relationships, like an ecosystem of plants and animals. Take away the top-order predators and the system collapses. Take away the simple single-celled organisms at the bottom of the food chain and the system collapses. But it also works in reverse: tweaking the little fiddly bits of how you think and how you write and how we publish can strengthen the ecosystem as a whole. The key is to boost the vitality and flexibility of every part of that ecosystem, not just to look at the “top” (big decisions, like where to publish) or the “bottom” (little decisions, like what pens to buy).
  5. Expand your list of futures. What will the future look like? I mean, to you specifically. Well, it can look like a lot of different things, and the list keeps growing and shifting with each and every passing day. I recommend exposing your mind to the voices of as many future-thinkers as possible, either by seeking them out on web forums or in podcasts or in the science fiction section of your library. Publishing, especially self-publishing, is tied up with all sorts of cultural, societal, historical, and technological trends. Read up, listen up, and absorb. It will enrich your idea of what’s possible, and possibly even encourage you to dream up some of your own ideas—ideas you can act on. I recommend the “Future Thinkers” podcast, BBC Future, and the “Ideas” page on FastCompany.com—just to start. There are loads of other resources out there!
  6. Do the leading thing. Becoming a future-thinker means becoming a leader, although there are so many kinds and varieties of leaders that it doesn’t mean you have to become a CEO or a General in the Air Force (though those would be cool things and you should go for them, if you want to). But what is it that all leaders do? They share and guide others. Find a way to share your ideas that fits with who you are and what you already want to do as an author. Whether that’s starting a Twitter account or a blog dedicated to sharing tips and tricks to writing, or signing up to start a writer’s group in your local area, or volunteering at the library to help develop programming for authors and speakers in your area—there are ways you can be a leader.

And we’ll always be here to support you while at it.

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.

In Your Corner: Future-Thinking

When I last blogged three weeks ago, I spent some time looking at the evolution of self-publishing from where (and what) it was when I first got started in the business well over a decade ago to where it is now, in 2017. And the history of self-publishing is, in many ways, a history of self-reflection writ large into the future. One might even say that the self-publishing author is, always has been, and likely always will be, a visionary. But what does that actually mean?

visionary future thinker horizon

A visionary sees things differently.

On a fundamental level, I mean. A visionary thinks in terms, not of what is possible, but what could be possible. And that’s a big difference. When someone is limited by what is versus what could be, the future narrows to predictable outcomes rooted in measurables that exist today. Meanwhile, visionaries have no such restrictions–they’re more interested in creating altogether new systems of thought, of measurement, of ambition. It’s not that the measurables don’t matter at all, or that visionaries are necessarily detached from real-world and present-day concerns, but they do have a dash of something a little bit extra, and the capacity to think outside of the box. To build a new box from scratch–from materials that didn’t even exist when the idea was first born.

Think of Steve Jobs:

In his biography of this tech titan, Walter Isaacson repeatedly mentions Jobs’ predilection for creating devices and inventions for which no infrastructure yet existed. He always had the iPhone constantly in mind, but he had to invent (or reinvent, depending on who you ask) cloud storage–the iCloud–and the software–iTunes and more–to make the iPhone possible. And in the meantime, the hardware itself didn’t exist–he wanted a good camera, a good battery, and a surface that didn’t exist yet.

He made it from scratch, from materials that didn’t yet exist.

That’s future thinking. And this isn’t to reinforce some mythology of Steve Jobs which ignores the other future-thinkers necessary to his enterprise. The iPhone, like everything else at Apple, was a group effort. Jobs first had to recognize a need for, then go looking for, talented engineers and technicians and managers and so on to infinity who could create these as-yet-nonexistent materials and systems. They deserve every bit as much praise.

And together, they made something new.

Self-publishers do this all the time, and they do it in what often comes across as a vacuum. They conceive of a book, but there’s no one on hand–no editors, no agents, no publishers, no marketing team–to make that book come into being. Self-publishers are talent scouts, like Steve Jobs, only on a much tighter budget. They have to be able to construct new ways of getting the job done, using systems and procedures and materials they may never even have heard of. When you think about it that way, it’s clearer than ever that self-publishers are visionaries. Are future-thinkers.

So, what do we do with this information? We find ways to support each other, first of all. We will always have to create some of our own resources, it’s true, but also we ought to support each other in this enterprise. By creating shared resources, by offering support and guidance, and by empowering the individual author to go after that ambiguous, often frightening future.

In my upcoming posts, I’ll be looking at ways we can both become and support future-thinking in self-publishing. Watch this spot!

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.

In Your Corner: What Happens … After?

what's next

There’s a lot that goes into bringing a book to the point of publication … but there’s a lot that comes after, too–as you likely already know, since you’re here and reading this post.

So … where to start? Planning out what you’re going to do now that your book has been published–or if you’re one of the more prescient among us and are looking ahead, when your book has been published–is almost as important as writing your book. Not quite, maybe. You wouldn’t have a book to market if you didn’t actually write the thing, so there’s that. But it’s undeniable that a careful, thoughtful, and strategic plan for what comes after–after the writing, after the publication–is vital to making sure your book actually sells.

I have a couple of questions to help you get started, questions which might just shape how you go forward after publication:

  1. Do you plan on selling your book on your own at a local event or book signing? If yes, make sure to watch what your publisher charges you for book copies. There’s quite a lot of legalese and fine print to parse, especially when we’re talking about vanity presses and self-publishing companies which privilege profit over people. If you don’t understand immediately how much your author copies will cost, both now and in the future, it’s probably a sign that the company in question is trying to make it hard to understand. And that’s never a good sign. Go with a company which goes out of its way to make the author copy situation and pricing transparent and easy to understand! And one which offers you a consistent discount. No matter who you go with as your publisher, you’ll want some physical copies on hand. They’re amongst the best marketing tools you have!
  2. Are you planning on selling your book online? Watch out for the prices of other books in the same genre or content area; pricing your book correctly will go a long way toward making sure it sells. Don’t trust Google to answer the pricing question for you, either … thousands upon thousands of blog posts and pieces have been written in the past to explain the intricacies of the Amazon marketplace, but the situation with online retailers like Amazon and B&N is always fluid and changing, so even if we’re talking about an article written this year, the information may already be out of date. There’s a fine line between overvaluing and undervaluing your book; the former will cut into your sales figures, and the latter will make it hard to turn a profit, no matter how many copies you sell! The best policy is to do your own market research–and this is doubly useful, since you will learn a lot about how books similar to yours make use of the digital sales space–with giveaways, sales copy, and linkages across social media.

And look, it’s okay if you’re not yet through the publishing process. It’s always a good time to plan ahead. In fact, knowing what you’re going to do after your book is published will help you select the right publisher to fit you and your book in the first place! Before you open your pocketbook and give someone your money, you absolutely should consider all of the fine print and the advantages available to you … both during the publishing process itself, and during the marketing and support periods which come after.

Luckily, you and I both live in a day and age when there are plenty of options available, so you rather have your pick of the buffet. Some publishing companies are long on publishing assistance and short on marketing, and others are the opposite. Some offer stellar services across the board … but at a price which is too high for the average self-publishing author. And others … others walk the tight rope between quality services and affordability, and walk it well. The key to making the most of your money is to have a good sense of what has to come after publication, what you want to come after, and how your existing resources and skill sets fit into the picture. Your priorities are paramount, and have everything to do with crafting a solid plan for your book’s future.

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.

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.

In Your Corner: Choosing a Quality Publisher

You’ve spent absolutely ages writing your book, and now it’s as perfect as it gets! Why choose a sub-par publisher who’s just going to mess it up—or worse, betray your trust—by providing a sub-par final product?

Here’s the thing: no one in their right minds does make that choice—at least, not knowingly. And there’s the rub! Sub-par publishers sometimes give off a very real impression that they’re anything but. Sometimes, they’re more convincing than the bonafide deal, the companies which are legitimate and will treat you right, but struggle to stand out in a marketplace crowded by phones, vanity presses, and other publishers who’re like as not prepared to milk you for every dollar you have, and satisfy their obligations by producing the bare minimum in terms of quality product.

In a sense, you’re in a double-bind as a self-publishing company! The onus should be on the publisher to provide the best possible product they can with the funds available … but because it’s difficult for regulators to enforce this—and because publishing, especially self-publishing remains ahead of the curve in regards to legislative oversight*—the reality is that you, the author, are ultimately the one person you can trust to make sure you get the best deal possible.

* One day legislation may in fact catch up to the ever-evolving products and services which have risen along with the Internet, but that day is not today.

decision making

You want a quality publisher who will give your book the attention that it deserves.  How to ensure this happens?

  1. Spend time researching your publishing options.
  2. Learn what your publisher will do for you before your book is published, while your book is published and after your book is published.
  3. Think through what’s important to you and what you need (as opposed to those nice things you really, really want but can get by without).
  4. If you need someone available to help you, be sure you choose a publisher that offers help and support.
  5. If you know you need an amazing cover design, choose a publisher that offers a custom-designed cover. Same goes for marketing services, formatting, and everything else. Do you have the necessary skills? No? Make sure your publisher does—and for a reasonable price.
  6. Don’t turn your book over to just anyone. Your book is your book, not something you can afford to let anyone else ruin.

You’ve spent the time getting it just right … and now it’s time to find that company which will treat your book with the dignity and respect it deserves. Not to mention, which will treat you the same way.

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.