In Your Corner: Making Your Presence Felt

It would be hard to get to 2016 and not feel convicted of the importance of social media in selling books–and, just as importantly, in selling readers on you, the author. The power and influence of social media is uncontested–after all, it has helped feed and foment revolutions in the Middle East, toppling dictators and spinning the mythological webs that create internet celebrities. They have also, demonstrably, created the framework by which self-published authors become self-sufficient and successful. Authors like Lisa Genova (Still Alice) and Hugh Howey (Wool) often credit their devoted social media fanbase for moving their books out of obscurity and into the blockbuster realm.

With that kind of a recommendation on the table, it almost seems a waste to not partake in the wave of social media platforms developing today, right? But wanting to start developing your social media strategy and actually building it from the ground up are two separate propositions. And ultimately, it’s hard to know where to start.

Luckily, there’s not so much one way to get it wrong, but rather so many ways to get it right. This is because there are so many platforms out there, including:

And so many more! Because social media is a moving target–for example, the short-video-hosting platform Vine, owned by Twitter, was shut down recently for its inability to turn a profit for company shareholders–there’s no predicting which platforms will be on the ascent in a given year and which will be on its way out, like the age-old example of Myspace, a platform which more or less lost all of its users once Facebook became peoples’ primary conduit of digital social contact.

This changing landscape isn’t a bad thing, in the end. It’s a strength! It means that yes, you need to be willing to continually adapt to new platforms and to pick up new skills, but it also means that if you’re not all that good at one, you can always capture your readers by making a comprehensive social media presence, rounded out with a variety of different smaller presences that weave together into something greater than the sum of their parts.

I guess what I’m saying is: Try everything. Try everything, and don’t hold on too tightly to any one of those things. Experimentation is the mother of invention, as is necessity, and these two forces will keep your social media presence in a constant state of evolution, well-suited to the M.O. of the Internet itself. Maybe soon we’ll have options to network not just with our friends and our refrigerators, but with our books as active participants themselves. Can you imagine what that might look like? I’d bet you five dollars that someone out there is already figuring out how to make it happen. And that’s the wonderful thing about change: it’s wild and wonderful and asks very little of us except the will to keep up!

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.

Ringing in the Holidays: Thanksgiving Edition!

This Thanksgiving when you’re preparing to gather with family and friends, tummies longing for turkey and pie, you are most likely looking into recipes to satisfy those appetites. You may be collecting ingredients such as pecans, canned pumpkin, potatoes, gravy, or big birds. You don’t want anyone leaving your home hungry and you sure don’t want to show up to any one else’s home empty handed.

These same preparations and considerations should also be taken if you’re planning on staging any events this holiday season. Book readings also have a list of crucial ingredients that will ensure success in the form of a satisfied audience. A gathering for your audience should receive the same care and attention that a gathering for your family would, especially if your audience includes your family.

Just like any recipe, there are a few ingredients that can’t be substituted for anything else. Without them, you won’t be making much of anything. One of these ingredients is a location. A space that can both accommodate your audience and also set the mood for your event is fundamental. Don’t be afraid to utilize this holiday–which gathers those closest to us in a warm and welcoming space–to read some short snippet or your work aloud. Insert it before the meal when people say grace or express gratitude for food and family.

thanksgiving table

This brings me to another essential ingredient: an audience. Self-promotion of your event is essential, without it, don’t expect a crowd. While reading to yourself in front of the mirror is always good practice, it’s no substitute for the ears of others. Our books aren’t written for ourselves, but to share with others. Consider showing your gratitude for your family this Thanksgiving by sharing copies of your work with them.

Sharing your work implies another essential ingredient: books. This is another no-brainer. Make sure you have copies of your book to provide to those who have been inspired enough by your reading that they want to see more. If this means simply giving them away on the holiday or ordering copies for an upcoming event you have planned, always make sure at least enough on hand to supply your demand. If Thanksgiving has anything to teach us, it is that leftovers are never a bad thing.

In short, we all know we put in more time during the holidays making sure our homes look nicer for our mother-in-law’s approval and we make sure we have bountiful supplies of food to feed our nephew’s with bottomless guts. You perform the task of host during the holidays. This performance can teach us a lot about what makes a successful authorial performance. You want people who feel satisfied after they’ve received your offerings–be them of food or words–and it’d be ideal if they took home some leftovers–be them from your refrigerators or libraries.


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: Marketing for Anything-But-Dummies

Have you ever wondered what “proper” marketing support might look like, and how imperative it is to self-publishing successfully? What about implementation–have you ever wondered what effective implementation of your carefully-planned-out marketing plan might look like, too? I’m going to spend a bit of time this Thursday thinking through some of the answers to these questions.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years of working with self-publishing authors, both as an author myself and as an author advocate and representative for other authors with Outskirts Press, it’s that there’s quite a lot of truth to the statement that “preparation is the key to success”–but as Marie Forleo puts it, sometimes “the key to success is to start before you’re ready.” How do we make these two things compatible? Aren’t they mutually exclusive?

the key to success is to start before you're ready marie forleo

Here’s a thought: what if they’re not?

I don’t think they are, and that’s because I think “preparedness” and “readiness” are two separate modes of being. Preparedness, in my mind, is the process of taking concrete steps to plan ahead for whatever you can, and putting in place measures–good habits, good coping mechanisms, and good thoughts–that will see you through any times when being prepared will do no good. Readiness, on the other hand, has more to do with confidence–and sometimes, your sense of how ready you are for a thing may or may not line up with what you’re prepared for. Sometimes, we won’t feel ready to get started on a thing even if we’ve planned thoroughly and set our good habits in stone. Those are the moments, I think, that Marie Forleo speaks to–the moments when we just need to get started, whether or not our feelings line up with reality.

Proper marketing support, then, should help you both prepare and, hopefully, acquire the confidence to feel that you’re ready as well. And as my fellow writer Kelly Schuknecht pointed out in her “Marketing Master Strokes” series of blogs earlier this year, effective marketing strategies require a willingness to reach your readers where they live, to incentivize, and to play well with others–among others. “Proper” marketing support will assist you in doing all these things–and if that seems a bit beyond the pale for the ordinary self-publishing company, luckily, there are several extraordinary self-publishing companies–and I know I’m a little biased, but I happen to think my coworkers among the Personal Marketing Assistants working for Outskirts Press count as extraordinary. So if you feel like some of these points might be beyond your reach, consider reaching out and making contact with the experts, either through a paid service or through a more casual network, as on social media.

The best part of looking to the experts is that doing so will assist you in execution as well as in planning–so you’ll get the best of both preparation and readiness. Or at least, that’s the goal.

It’s hard to boil down all of the salient points regarding marketing into one coherent blog post, but luckily, and perhaps it’s a little trite to say “oh, I’m not ready to do that” given the context of today’s subject (you can tell how some of my jokes bomb around the dinner table, can’t you?). But the fact of the matter is, Self Publishing Advisor has been a resource for self-publishing authors looking to market their books for most of a decade now, and our archives are rife with posts on the subject–including those by Kelly that I mentioned earlier. If you’re looking for those concrete steps to transform the broad strokes we’ve brushed here into tangible steps, her series is spectacular. I highly recommend taking a look!

Marketing Master Strokes:

  1. What do ears, geysers, and self-publishing have in common?
  2. Be willing to reach your readers where they live
  3. Incentivize!
  4. Play Well With Others
  5. Try Every New Thing

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.

Ringing in the Holidays: Veteran’s Day Edition!

Veteran’s Day is day where we pay tribute to those who have served our in our country’s Armed Forces; this can be done by attending parades, by bringing flowers to veteran’s graves, hanging an American flag, etc. This day originally marked the end of World War I–the war to end all wars–and was deemed Armistice Day, a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.

Those of us with hindsight on our side know that unfortunately, WWI did not lead to world peace, but rather to the even more devastating WWII. Following WWII it was decided that November 11th would instead be a day to commemorate all veterans, not just those who served in WWI.

It is important to express gratitude for those amongst our country’s citizens who have been willing to put their life on the line to protect not only our country, but also the people of the countries where they are stationed. The amount of sacrifice demanded of such a task is one that should be given the utmost respect.

veteran's day

I want to point out to authors reading this that the word veteran points beyond that of military service and extends to anyone who has a lot of experience in a particular occupation or field. While there of course can be no real comparison made to veterans of war and veterans of say, self-publishing, I would like to suggest that veterans of the self-publishing field should begin to think of themselves as people who provide a different sort of service for our country.

To publish your ideas, your stories, your beliefs or your experiences means that you are in a way paying tribute to those who have fought for your right to do so. To not utilize that creative spark inside you is to shun the gift of living in a country and in a time where you have the means to do so.

Think of the amazing diaries of someone such as Anne Frank. Frank had to hide away from the unjust persecution that would eventually take her life before she could, by her own volition, share her story. We have the liberty in this country to write freely, and it is not one that should be taken for granted. Our stories can change people’s lives, they can change the way people think, and we don’t have to hide away to create them.

The veterans who fight abroad to keep our country safe make it possible for some of us to become veteran authors, readers, editors, publishers, etc. Honor those authors, readers, editors, publishers, etc. who have decided that they will not turn away from such a priceless opportunity. You have the freedom to sacrifice your time to do something you love.

Those in the Armed Forces have sacrificed time doing what they love, they have spent a great deal of time away from their families and loved ones–don’t let it be for nothing.


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

Ringing in the Holidays: Black Friday Edition!

Black Friday brings a lot of not so flattering imagery to mind, from shoppers pushing each other out of the way in Wal-Mart aisles to lines of people camped out outside stores and lines of traffic stymied on the highway. Black Friday has become a quasi-holiday of sorts, mainly because it is an American tradition that dates all the way back to the 1930s. Yes, that far back.

Regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season (again, ‘quasi-season’), retailers began opening their stores a bit earlier the day after Thanksgiving back in the 1930s. Today, some major retailers will open right after Thanksgiving dinner, or midnight–or other hours no one should be out shopping–offering promotional sales to those who are obviously not suffering from a tryptophan induced turkey coma, and who are thus able to storm out into the night for the deal of a lifetime.

Supposedly the cognomen “Black Friday” originated in the 1960s in Philadelphia, where people used the term to describe the abundant foot traffic and cluttered streets. I rather like to imagine that it’s perhaps more fitting today; people whisking out into the dark night, stalking up and down aisles and preparing to battle other predacious consumers over that new X-Box or flat screen TV. If you think that’s a dramatic depiction of Black Friday, keep in mind that seven people have died on this day since 2006, and there have been about 98 injuries associated with the Black Friday shopping madness.

Entertaining history digression aside, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, which means that as an author with a book to sell, it is not a day to sit back and relax. So, what can you do to rake in some of the Black Friday business?

black friday holiday

First of all, BIG discounts are all the rage on Black Friday. Offering your book for an extremely cheap rate will assuredly promote ‘impulse’ buys from people who might otherwise have considered giving your book a chance. While you don’t always want to offer your book out for an extremely low price, doing so on this particular day could be beneficial for gaining new readers!

Another thing to consider: 99 cent or free ebook editions of your book can gain you free advertising on free or bargain ebook sites. These sites will want to feature your book when it is discounted, and that feature will be free advertising for you, before people even buy your book! Notify these sites when you discount your book, and try to line it up with Black Friday; snag online shoppers who are looking for a deal or to try something new!

Collaborating with other others who have books similar to yours is also a great way expand your marketing efforts. When you combine promotional efforts, this means that their audience becomes your potential audience! It’s a, ‘You scratch my authorial back, and I’ll scratch yours,’ kind of thing. The best thing about this collaboration is that you will enhance your network for book marketing in general, which obviously expands well beyond Black Friday!

So, whether or not you see yourself armed with pepper spray for self-defense as you go out to buy the new iPhone 10–or whatever number they’re on now–just remember that before Black Friday, there’s a lot you can be doing to market your book. More importantly, none of those things require the bravery and fortitude it must take for someone to actually go shopping on that day.


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

Ringing in the Holidays!

The trees have shed their colorful fall foliage, the air has grown crisp, the kids are back in school, and you know what that means? The holidays are just right around the corner. This is a time of year to celebrate, not only because it means the return of pumpkin spice lattes and apple crisp, but because it is a time of year devoted to giving thanks, sharing delicious food and thoughtful gifts, and it is a time to gather with and spend time with those we love and cherish.

You can further celebrate this time of year as an author by innovating your marketing strategies, as there are certain advantages to marketing this time of year that aren’t available to you on just any summer day.

With an increased amount of shoppers trying to fill stockings and fill out the base of their Christmas trees, it is imperative that you’ve nailed down who exactly your audience is. Is your book a children’s book? Make sure your book is made available in local toy stores and maybe put some flyers up in local day care centers, libraries, and schools. Also, think of how great your book could be as a stocking stuffer for family members; being generous with your book this time of year could lead to more readers not only within your family, but whoever your family ends up sharing it with as well.

This is also a great time of year for holiday giveaways online. Vamp up your blog with relevant tags, and host your giveaways there! Post on pages relevant to your story–this could be anything from a Facebook page of the state your book takes place in, a Facebook group of readers that your book might appeal to, or maybe even to a Facebook event in your area that fits the theme of your book.

Remember that Christmas stockings are often full of Amazon gift cards; do you have an ebook to offer all these new potential buyers? Going digital means that there were literally be MILLIONS of people who will have access to your book, who never would’ve come across it otherwise. If you already have an ebook version, ask your readers for a priceless holiday gift: a good review online.

We know here at Outskirts Press how busy this time of year is. We know that you’re also out shopping for you families, preparing turkey feasts for your families, carving pumpkins for your porches, etc. etc. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to the gift of our services that can help you with these marketing tasks that are so important this time of year!

holiday sales marketing

At Outskirts, we have a marketing package that includes a custom press release, an author platform setup through social media, a book trailer with social network distribution, AND you get 5 hours with your own personal marketing elf…I mean, assistant. This is a great way to ensure you don’t miss out on the perks of holiday marketing, but also ensuring that you don’t miss out on the holiday cheer because you’re too busy worrying about marketing your book!

Click here to find out more:
http://outskirtspress.com/book-marketing.html


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

The Book Beautiful: Summary Edition

The past six weeks we’ve been looking in depth at all of the steps that it takes to turn a manuscript into a polished, professional, finished copy of a book. As we’ve learned, this is a complex process full of choices such as whether or not to go with hard or soft cover, what cover illustration to use to draw in your readers, what information to include in your front and back matter, how will you format your text and your back cover, will you illustrate your piece, etc. etc. This process can be long and daunting, especially as a self-published author, which is why we at Outskirts Press want to assist our authors through it with our advice on this blog, but also with our hands-on services as a company.

*****

I’d like to wrap up the last six weeks by evaluating what it is I think authors should take away from each in depth look we took at the different aspects of bringing a text to life. It seems critical to note that each of the choices you make while publishing all answer to a reader’s unconscious sensuous experience of picking up your book in a store. Each choice you make when formatting or designing the final copy of your book is something that a reader will be assessing from the minute they walk by it on the shelf, to the first time they pick it up in their hands, thumb through the pages, read the back, and decide whether or not to bring it to the counter to purchase it. This is really about first impressions, and we all know how important it is to make a good one when someone’s approval is important to us.

first impressions
[ first impressions matter ]
What is the first thing a potential reader will notice about your book when they walk by? Presumably if it is hard or soft cover. Do you need to go with a hard cover to look professional? Certainly not. In fact, it seems that the chance of selling your book in soft cover is much higher. The next thing to make an impression after someone has read your title and pulled the book of the shelf will most likely be the cover illustration. I feel I gave some entertaining examples of what not to do, but the best advice I feel I could give is again, use something that embodies your theme and draws in your target audience. Also, remember that less is more, don’t clutter the cover with unnecessary or flamboyant text or illustrations.

As far as formatting the interior of your book is concerned, remember that the status quo is usually the way to go here. You don’t necessarily want the formatting of your book to stick out, but to ‘fit in’ to what people expect to see when they open a book. That’s not to say that you don’t have some creative freedom when it comes to formatting the text and illustrations (the standards of which often vary from genre to genre), but going out on a whim with a bizarre font choice is not necessarily a wise idea either. Remember that you have creative liberty with which front and end matter you want to include, such as a personalized dedication, epigraph, acknowledgements, bio, etc.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t forget how critical the back cover of your book is. With the 150-200 words you have to sell a reader your story, you get more space than let’s say…a Tweet, but not much more. Make it exciting without giving anything away.

Remember that these aren’t decisions you have to make alone. If you have questions beyond what has been provided in these blogs, don’t hesitate to contact one of our professional, knowledgeable representatives at Outskirts Press. Our experience as writers helps us guide new authors toward the best decisions. We will always put our authors first.


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