In Your Corner : Celebrate National Reading Month With These Marketing Tips! (part two)

Last week, I started us off on a month-long exploration of one of my favorite subjects: the intersection of reading with writing and publishing!  It’s almost too easy, given that March is National Reading Awareness Month, too.  And as I said last month: here at Self-Publishing Advisor, we love the fact that there’s an entire month devoted to celebrating the written word–as well as the ways in which we can spread the joy of literacy–and I would like to invite you to continue joining me in making reading a focus all month long, here in our Thursday blog post slot.  

 

March may not typically be a month you think of to get started on a major project, or finish pushing said project through the publishing pipeline, but really, there’s no better time: the weather is getting warmer but where I live it’s still quite slushy and prohibitive to long road trips––perfect!  I always try to make use of this halfway-survivable weather to knock out some major projects while also taking some short local expeditions to my favorite spots in order to shake off the winter blues.

Sometimes, however, especially when I’m bouncing back from the Winter Blues, I find myself searching around a bit for a good starting point, or a way to pick back up the threads I dropped before the holiday frenzy set in, and before I got wrapped up in everything that follows (sending kids off to school, dealing with tax season, and so on).  So, I did a little brainstorming and came up with some more tips for kicking things back into gear, and making good on the potential promised by such an ambitious theme as National Reading Awareness Month!  (You can read my first four tips here.)

TIP FIVE : Ask for book reviews  

Research has shown that positive reviews makes a book sell better.  In fact, reviews written by people who have read your book often carry more weight than reviews by recognized experts!  Just think: the last time you went hunting for a new book to read, which held the most weight for you?  The blurb on the back cover?  Celebrity endorsements?  A four or five-star review on Goodreads and Amazon?  A really thorough and useful review on one of those sites?  Or word-of-mouth recommendation?  Most people would rank these metrics in reverse order, with one notable exception: a high star rating on Amazon and Goodreads is a defining factor between those people who click through to read reviews and those who keep scrolling on by.

So how do you get reviews?  We’ve written about them before here on Self-Publishing Advisor (here, for example) but in summary: be proactive.  Very few authors can rely on reviewers coming to them!  There are plenty of ways to drive book reviews, but the most important ones include offering giveaways in exchange for reviews, soliciting reviewers through easily-googled book review index websites, and simply asking for them.  You can ask for reviews even before your book is published by offering to send the reviewer a digital copy of your book.  The key to all of these interactions is not to come off as pushy or fake.  Reviewers tend to respond well to simple requests, either favorably or with regret at not being available.

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, View across the shelf showing girl (8-9) reading book

TIP SIX: Request peer reviews

Remember how effective word-of-mouth recommendations are?  Well, another way to get the review ball rolling is to ask friends who have already read your manuscript to write a review.  Because they have a personal connection with you, the author, they’re far more likely to do so––and far more likely to become advocates for your book––if you ask them to take on official review duties.  Since writing these reviews can be time-consuming and they may suffer low confidence if they’ve had little or no review-writing experience, you might have a couple of really good sample reviews (of your book or someone else’s) on hand for them to look at.  That way, they’ll know some of the standard language used in reviews, and also get a sense for how diverse and unique each review can be!  The point of asking your peers to review your book is to get little pops of personality bleeding through the pixels of your Amazon book page––readers love the authenticity of a person who admits a real human connection to an author, and speaks honestly from that privileged position, with all the insight into the book’s backstory that they’re now privy to. 

Businessmen working together
TIP SEVEN : Create a mailing list or Facebook group  

Last but not least––for this week, anyway––you should actively seek out readers who might be interested in reading your book.  You are probably already doing this at both personal or professional meetings as well as at conferences, book club meetings, your kids’ Mother Goose sessions at the library, and so on.  The next step is to turn these casual conversations into something a bit more structured and organized; ask if you can send these potential new readers information about your book, then add them to your mailing list.  You can use the built-in mailing list features in desktop-based versions of Microsoft Outlook, or you can look to the Cloud and to web-based softwares like MailChimp.  I don’t necessarily think of social media as a substitution for these valuable programs, but you should also consider creating a Facebook group in addition to your mailing list, and take full advantage of the intersectionality of that platform––through Facebook alone, you can schedule events, send private messages and post public announcements, upload pictures, and find new readers.  Well worth a little exploration, I think!

Small Business Revolution - Bluegrass Youth Ballet

I’ll be back next week with some more tips!  And …

… always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

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

 

 

In Your Corner : Celebrate National Reading Month With These Marketing Tips! (part one)

March is National Reading Awareness Month!  Here at Self-Publishing Advisor, we love the fact that there’s an entire month devoted to celebrating the written word–as well as the ways in which we can spread the joy of literacy–and I would like to invite you to join me in making reading a focus all month long, here in our Thursday blog post slot.  

As writers, we’re not just people who produce stories; we also consume them, share them, and advocate on their behalf.  As writers, March of 2016 is the ideal time for you to not only finish your book and start publishing it, but also to promote yourself and your book while encouraging everyone to read.  

Think this sounds like a challenge?  Maybe it is.  But I have some pointed ideas to get you started.  This is doable.  I promise you!  All you need to do is dedicate some time each day this month to pursuing the marketing and promotion tips I’ll be posting here for the next four weeks.

GETTING STARTED : Become the local expert.  

If you haven’t heard of National Reading Awareness Month or know the details of its longstanding connection to Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the history of the National Education Association, and how you can participate … well, it’s time to you pay a visit to the NEA’s website and browse through the plentiful promotional materials, media tips, press release tips and fact sheets the NEA has posted there in order to introduce you and other acolytes to the Read Across America celebration.  

Another tip?  It’s well worth offering to speak at local schools and NEA events, or to local organizations on the importance of childhood reading skills.  Many schools, libraries, bookstores, and other organizations welcome the outside help in putting on events of this kind, and yes–there’s something in it for you, too.  The more you make yourself indispensable to your local literary and literacy-building community, the more likely you are to be called on again in the future, and to get word of your own work before fresh eyes.  Best of all, there’s a great deal of satisfaction in knowing you’re helping to foster the next generation of readers–some of whom may go on to read your book!  Which leads me to ….

First Lady Michelle Obama takes part in Read Across America 2012

TIP TWO: GET ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE YOUNG 

Yesterday was Read Across America Day!  Writers are some of the biggest supporters of this day and event.  While you may have missed the boat for 2016, there’s no better time to prepare for the next year than now, when the opportunities (even the missed ones) are fresh on parents’ and teachers’ minds.  Contact local schools, libraries, and nonprofits to find out how you can help promote reading, writing, and kindergarten readiness in general–not just today, but throughout the entire month of March.  Ask if you might partner with some of them in throwing an event next year, in 2017, and start lining up the logistics.  When it comes to scheduling things in March, which is testing season for many American schools, the earlier you get started the better an outcome you can expect.

Read Across America 2007

TIP THREE: CONSIDER ONLINE ADVERTISING  

The last two tips built upon a foundation of interpersonal networking–that is, meeting people face to face and using this method to benefit everyone.  But what about those readers beyond your immediate sphere of influence?  How can you get them reading–and reading your book in particular?  Here’s a thought: Once your book is published, consider whether it might benefit from any online advertising.  You can set up ads on sites like Facebook, Google and Goodreads easily, or with some assistance from your self-publishing company and the marketing consultants they likely keep on staff.  If you’ve published through a company like Outskirts Press (my own stomping grounds), you can count on their staff to help you make your book more discoverable on Google with something like the Google Books Preview Program.

Reading in Madrid

TIP FOUR: INTRODUCE NEW FORMATS OF YOUR BOOK 

You know how it goes: The more easy a thing is to buy, and the more accessible it is to a large number of people, the more sales of that thing will jump.  It’s a well-demonstrated fact that self-publishing authors can reach a larger audience of readers by offering additional formats such as Kindle, Apple iPad or NOOK editions of your book.  And if you’ve only ever published your book digitally, perhaps it’s time you branched out into Print on Demand (POD) copies of your masterpiece!  Consider which formats you want to offer and add them before or after your hardcover format hits the virtual shelves.  If you feel inexpert in how to make the most of a multiplatform, multiedition publication, don’t hesitate to turn to those with the most wisdom to share: your fellow self-publishing authors!  We’re here for you.

Always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

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