The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part III)

fall autumn book

Several weeks back, we began this series by introducing the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, we discovered, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we continue to run semi-officially with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the next post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special. Last time, we looked into the guiding question of “what’s next?” Which, as it turns out, is taking your existing habits and tweaking them to better serve your marketing goals–in a sustainable fashion that won’t undercut your existing routines and interests.

What comes after “what’s next?”

Next comes the holiday-specific part! Now that you’ve eked out some additional sustainable habits (that will continue working in your favor year-round, of course!) it’s time to think about what little bits of “extra” you can fit in around the holidays that support your ongoing marketing strategy and also take advantage of all those little things you can only do around the holidays.

Thanksgiving

To hit upon some high points we keep returning to year after year on this blog:

Thanksgiving is a time for doing, every bit as much as it is about giving and receiving. After all, the whole “giving and receiving” thing gets a real workout around Christmas. And in a smaller sense, at Halloween and even Veteran’s Day, when we give thanks to our servicemen and women—very important in its own way, but not the only mode of being to inhabit as a self-publishing author.

Thanksgiving is a time for activity, for wrapping up all the things that have been left unfinished at other times of year—a time for completion, for stepping back and looking at the whole and then by golly sitting down and filling in the holes. The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t just to give and receive thanks; the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to get ‘er done. To see yourself and your book and your marketing campaign and your social media strategy through the rough patches that inevitably accumulate on the leading edge of the end of the year. It’s not, contrary to legend, a time to sit around and kick up your feet and wait for good things to happen (or, more appropriately, to pop out of the oven and onto your dinner plate). Delicious as a fresh-baked cobbler is, it’s not quite the point.

If we wanted to look all the way back to the Quakers and the First Thanksgiving—and let’s face it, like it or not Thanksgiving is a time rife with nostalgia and historic musings—we should be honest about what it was like for them. They only celebrated because the gifted foods and skills given them by the local tribes kept them from starvation—and then, only just. The Quakers almost starved. Many of them did starve. It was not a time of plenty; it was a time for surviving, and for acknowledging those who helped them to survive. The time for celebration isn’t after everything is done and the harvest is in; the time for celebration is now, when the struggle and the busy-ness and the insanity is at its height. Tap into that spirit and, in the spirit too of the diagramming and recording we’ve done since our previous post, start brainstorming the ways you can merge celebration with marketing. Will throwing an event at the local library do that for you? Will putting up posters around town? Hosting a discount or giveaway on your blog and book sale page? Think of those strategies which you can put together quickly, easily, and without adding undue stress at a busy time. We’ll be back next week with more thoughts on specific events, tips, and tricks you can use that fit the bill for simple and stress-free!

These holidays, I hope you know that we here at Self Publishing Advisor are a part of your network, a resource to enable your resilience. We’re here for you this Thanksgiving season, to help you get it done–and to help you celebrate your wonderful book!

fall autumn book blanket coffee

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

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.

 

Self-Published Book Review: “An Inky Summer”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

an inky summer by fred and cheryl lowman

cipa evvy merit

An Inky Summer

by Fred and Cheryl Lowman

ISBN: 9781478777434

Synopsis*:

When 12 year old Freddie discovers Inky, an American crow, sitting on the fence near the back steps of his house, it is the beginning of An Inky Summer. Read this true story and laugh as this crafty and intelligent corvid upsets neighbors and relatives with his antics.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

A Wonderful True Story!

A delightful book! This book will not only be enjoyed by children, but by the adults who read it to them. The story will make you smile, laugh, and maybe even cry. It takes you back to a simpler time when kids didn’t have all the electronics in their lives. You will never look at a crow in the same way after reading this story. They are truly a very intelligent creature that we should learn more about. Also the illustrator, Dan Carsten, did an excellent job in bringing the story to life with his vibrant drawings. A must read for all ages!!!

– reviewed by Crowman on Amazon

Other Reviews

A Special Encounter to Enjoy.

A wonderful remembrance that is recalled and shared with the reader. It create’s our own wish to have an “encounter” with a creature to recall. It is a heart warming story that expresses much honesty and joy in the what may be if we are accepting. This story sparks the imagination and is made that much more special knowing it is a “true story”.
Well done!

– reviewed by Boppa on Amazon

Great Read!

I just loved this book. It really captured a perfect time in a young boy’s life. I was drawn in right away, and it made me want an “Inky” crow as a pet for myself. I learned a lot about crows. In the past, I would just see them as large, black birds; and now I am looking for individual personalities when I see them. The illustrations are wonderful and brought the book to life. A perfect read!

– reviewed by Gail V. on Amazon

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tuesday book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor

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Self-Publishing News: 10.22.2018 – Publishing Trends Roundup

october month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically regarding publishing trends within the publishing industry, and their implications for all authors!

We’ve written in the past on this latest trend, in which media engines like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have been looking to self-publishing platforms such as Wattpad for their source material; previously, Hulu had tapped the Wattpad piece The Kissing Booth for translation into the visual medium. Now it’s Light as a Feather’s turn, a soon-to-be-ten-episode horror story originally by author Zoe Aarsen. This article, from Forbes contributor Adam Rowe, chronicles the process through which this story has gone since its publication. Aarsen is an ardent supporter of self-publishing, having joined Wattpad in 2012 “specifically because she was interested in self-publishing and ‘Wattpad seemed like a great way to build an audience.’ ‘When I posted chapters for the first time,'” she told Rowe, she “‘became really excited by receiving feedback from readers all over the world, and so quickly!'” Self-publishing’s timeliness and responsiveness has long been touted as one of its strengths, and it’s certainly one which has paid off for Light as a Feather, and Wattpad certainly seems to be having a moment as well, according to Rowe: “As the biggest and buzziest media companies continue to realize that books are the simplest medium for IP acquisition, Wattpad’s uniquely data-driven artistic approach seems to make the most sense.” We’ll leave the final judgment call up to you, but if you’re interested in serialized fiction, this is a must-read piece!

The grand Good E Reader is showing up for the industry again, as this article from contributor Mercy Pilkington demonstrates. In analyzing several reports from Publishers Weekly and Bowker, Pilkington crunches the numbers and comes up with a summary: “To correlate the numbers, the number of ISBN-assigned self-published ebooks has been dropping steadily–a fact that makes for really good soundbites from publishing industry conference stages–but the number of self-published books is still growing.” Which is a nice and straightforward way of saying: don’t trust the numbers from industry titans whose stranglehold on ISBNs is no longer universal, and whose expensive services an increasing number of self-publishing authors are learning to circumvent. The numbers that matter–and that can be tracked–are giving us far more good news than bad, Pilkington indicates, proving once more that self-publishing is in no way, as it was originally predicted to be, just a “flash in the pan.” Check out her full article!

Last but not least, we bring you some more of those very good numbers! This report comes to us courtesy of Books + Publishing, one of Australia’s premiere news sources for global industry data. This report, published less than two weeks ago, also digs into the Bowker report indicated above–an annual report covering worldwide publishing and self-publishing statistics–and highlights several other important details not touched on in depth by Pilkington. But first! The raw data. The report indicates that “Self-publishing in the US grew by 28% between 2016-2017, with a total of 1,009,188 self-published titles in 2017, up from 786,935 in 2016 with 8% growth from 2015-2016.” This is good news all-around for readers and writers in the industry, with unparalleled volume of reading material promoting the production of higher-quality material, as well. (As is indicated by the increased tendency of media engines in picking up self-published material for adaptation!) B+P agrees with Pilkington that the decrease in ISBNs issued has more to do with authors skipping that process altogether and the diversification of publishing paths–Wattpad is now considered a viable alternative to Amazon, as is the growing stable of quality indie and self-publishing companies–than it does with any decrease in self-publishing overall. Keep publishing, ya’all! You’re doing great things!


spa-news

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 Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 9.10.2018 – The Interviews!

Blue september paper banner with colorful brush strokes.

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically interviews with or articles written by self-publishing authors and experts!

A.B. Endacott, self-published Australian author, wrote this insightful piece for The Nerd Daily, a pop-culture (and just regular culture) website for those interested in regular updates on news, books to read, and more. In it, Endacott chronicles her journey through the publication process–specifically, its immediate aftermath, in marketing and selling her books. She first published in 2017 with two books, Queendom of the Seven Lakes and King of the Seven Lakes, and published a separate article through The Nerd Daily several weeks back on why she chose to take the indie route. In this week’s article, however, she focuses on what all she did to raise awareness about her books, from reviews to placement to social media, and her suggestions for other authors based on her experience. The best suggestion? That authors should get to have fun after their books are published, even during the marketing process. Seems like solid advice to us!

Although not strictly an interview, this article covers an author visit by Sandy Tritt to the Point Pleasant Writer’s Guild in such detail that it might as well be! Tritt, who is known for being the founder and CEO of Inspiration for Writers, Inc. and author of the books Everything I Know and The Plain English Writer’s Workbook, walked the guild members through her publishing experiences and her knowledge of the publishing process, step-by-step. Erin Perkins of the Point Pleasant Register describes Tritt as discussing the positives and negatives of both traditional publishing and indie publishing, including self-publishing and hybrid publishing. When opening the floor to questions, Tritt was asked for advice on keeping motivation. According to Perkins, “Tritt said if an author feels they need to tell a story, time will be made, and the author must ask themselves what is most important. […] ‘If you feel like you have the story tell, if you don’t write it, who will?'” The tried-and-true advice of published authors is invaluable to those looking to take the self-publishing path; if you have a chance to sit in on some author visits, we highly recommend it!


spa-news

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 Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: Growing Your Market With Eyes For the Future Harvest

fall computer autumn

In many parts of America, it’s already Fall. Oh, maybe pumpkin spice mochas haven’t quite hit the menu yet, but school is back in session or just about to return to session, and many of us are starting to plan ahead for the coming seasons: Fall means back-to-school and back-to-daily-routine planning and the comedown from summer vacations; Winter means the holidays have well and truly arrive, and all the reunions and trips and expenses that come with them; Spring means the winter doldrums are over and it’s time to lay the groundwork for the new year. This transition time, between Summer and Fall, is our last best chance to plan ahead before things get well and truly busy.

It’s time to prepare the soil and plant the seeds for your next marketing plan.

Technically, when it comes to marketing, including marketing for your own self-published book or books, it’s always time to plant these seeds. After all, the best marketing plan is a robust one with a whole stable of ideas running simultaneously, from attending book fairs to scheduling book readings to participating in a book blog tour to reaching out to your local radio stations to creating meaningful content for your social media posts. But since we’re human beings, we need things broken down into manageable bits and bytes for us to move forward without falling over our own feet.  Or at least, this is a common enough necessity that I too have experienced it: We all need to hit the “reset” button every now and then, whether our plans grew so messy in the previous season as to drive us to exhaustion, or because they fizzled out and we need to relaunch them with fresh vim and vigor.

reset button

So … if resetting one’s marketing plan is equivalent to laying the groundwork for your next harvest, what does resetting actually look like?

  1. First off, resetting doesn’t mean “stop everything you’re doing and burn it all down.” That would be a crying shame, given that even the slimmest of strategies, even the ones which tapered off sooner than you would have liked or that never really got off the ground, did some important work–work like getting you registered on your social media platforms of choice, or acquiring some followers on your blog.
  2. Resetting does mean taking stock. It’s time to make an inventory of all the marketing strategies you’ve tried, and running some numbers. What kind of engagement did you see on this or that social media platform? Did you see more success with Twitter or Instagram? Your blog or your Facebook page? And this is just as important: How much time did you spend, on average, marketing through each of these avenues? Get that down on paper (or pixels), too. Don’t cast any judgments or make any emotional calls until you’ve had a chance to actually run these numbers and put them all on one page.
  3. Then you get to make some judgment calls. And yes, your emotions about these things totally matter! If you had a negative personal experience with a social media platform, Twitter for example, you may not feel comfortable returning to it for marketing reasons. And that’s okay. That would make for a great reason to try out an alternate platform, if it leaves you with a gap. If you’re quitting Facebook, try Goodreads. If you’re quitting Twitter, try Instagram. If you’re quitting Snapchat, try YouTube. There are so many choices to choose from! But keeping it manageable is the real trick here.
  4. Keeping it manageable applies to all aspects of your marketing. If your original marketing plan fizzled out without much success, it’s usually because either the original plan was A) too ambitious, or B) not ambitious enough. You’ll know instinctively which of these was your struggle simply by looking at your inventory of time spent marketing. And if your original marketing plan stalled out because you were exhausted from trying to keep all the balls in the air, very likely you’d be in the former category, not the latter. If you were in camp B), it’s time to experiment a little. I can’t force you to, and it’s very likely I can’t even entice you to, but I will certainly encourage you to pick up one or two new marketing strategies this year–and to go back to the beginning, as if you’ve never marketed your book before. (Just be sure to hang on to those followers and strategies which you’ve already established.) If you’re camp A), your reset must include scaling back. This doesn’t mean burning bridges or quitting social media platforms altogether, however; I suggest announcing your new plans on all of your platforms, even to the point where you announce you’re scaling back on your engagement in some areas so that you can focus on others. This gives you a chance to direct your followers to those platforms where you saw the most return on your time and energy. while still giving those followers on less-high-return platforms something to remind them that your book exists and you care about them as readers. But you do need to scale back the time and energy you’re spending on marketing if you find yourself burnt out. You need to feel free to experiment and play and enjoy yourself, too!
  5. Resetting means returning to the things which bring you joy. Resetting is about recovery, and rejuvenation, and starting afresh. You can’t start afresh if the very thought of marketing, or of doing more, depresses you! Worse still, your potential readers can totally pick up on a lack of enthusiasm, given their skill at … oh, reading between the lines. So focus on those things which bring you joy. What platforms, marketing strategies, and daily marketing habits were the least intrusive? Which ones made you smile? Focus your energy there for a while. It’s okay to pull back, take stock, and re-center on those things. I give you permission. The world gives you permission. Your book gives you permission! And once you’re in a good place, you’re in the perfect place to craft the architecture of your next marketing plan–and to start growing those strategies which will bring in your next harvest.

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: Growing Your Market With Elbow Grease

Over the last several weeks of this summer, I’ve written about the difficulties of both making a fresh start when getting started and having to re-start your marketing plan when something goes south. Both of those involve a lot of work, it’s true, but this week it’s worth reminding everyone (including myself) that the work is worth it.

I wrote recently about my gardens being stripped accidentally. Well, after having a mini-meltdown and lapsing into total self-loathing and disappointment for a few days, I decided to take a couple of baby steps. I did a soil pH test one day, laid down some fresh soil the next. Ordered a couple of packets of wildflowers and bush beans the day after that. Took handfuls and spread them out the following weekend.

Now, things are starting to come up. It may not be the garden I first envisioned, and it may never again look like the original, but it’s still something. And it still makes me happy. It brings me joy.

Just like writing, and marketing, when I see the first signs of success.

gardening

The elbow grease needs to be there. It’s never going to be the easiest thing, marketing. But it also doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you do each day. Line it up after your fifteen minutes of foreign language learning each day (Duolingo is brilliant, isn’t it?), your half-hour walk, and your afternoon smoothie. Making marketing just another part of your routine, something that has a little bit of structure but not so much it interferes with the rest of your day, is critical to it remaining a long-term part of your life.

I should know. I’ve been to the marketing (and the gardening!) doldrums this summer with you. I know what it looks like. And I’m here to remind you: it’s not the end. It’s never the end. It’s just another part of your life, and you get to make it fit with the rest of who you are and what you do. And in the end, you’re going to sell some books simply because you were willing to show up for a few minutes each day and remind the world that you have a brilliant new book out there in the world, and it’s ready to be read.

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.

 

Using Book Videos to Market Your Books

youtube video illustration

Everyone knows Google is the #1 search engine. Any guesses for #2?

YouTube.  

Video is quickly become the de facto way in which people interact with the Internet, which means you are missing out on a world of opportunity if you don’t have at least one book video (and preferably more). The good news is that it is easier than ever to make videos.  In fact, you probably have everything you need in your pocket right now.

Every major social media site (SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook included) is jumping on the video bandwagon and most of them are following in the shadow of the one that popularized it all: YouTube.

Youtube is for authors, too.

The YouTube app makes it easy to record videos on your mobile phone and then upload them to a channel that you can create exclusively for your book. If you write multiple books, you may be better off creating a channel about you as the author and then include videos about all your books in one place, rather than uploading them across multiple channels, since managing multiple YouTube channels is more trouble than it’s worth.  And besides, you’ll already be busy uploading the same videos to Instagram and Facebook and other video sites, like Vimeo.

You can easily download the YouTube app from the iTunes App Store, but if you prefer not to use the YouTube App, it’s still easy to record videos on your phone and then upload them directly. Another alternative is a webcam. Nearly all laptops and tablets come with video cameras nowadays.  Just aim and shoot and upload. Of course, you can always go “higher-end” with a GoPro camera or something even higher-definition, although the price and the complexity makes it less worthwhile. Start small, start cheap, and as your experience with shooting videos grows, so too can your budget and quality.

The technical aspect is actually the easy part.  More difficult is deciding WHAT your video is going to accomplish, or what it is going to say.  While it is certainly simple to record yourself reading passages from your book, that may not make for the most exciting video to watch.  

Entertaining and/or educational videos are the way to go.

How-to videos, for instance, are very popular. This means authors of non-fiction how-to books have a large pool of content from which to draw.  Every chapter could be its own video; heck, perhaps even every page if you wish to make a series of shorter videos (which are more popular than longer ones, and drive more subscriptions to your channel to boot).  

Children are almost as popular as cats in videos, so children’s book authors … rejoice!  Let the little ones be your stars and reap the rewards for their cuteness. If you’ve written a cookbook, you’re golden. Film yourself cooking some of your recipes.  The point is, no matter what kind of book you have written, you can create a book video to market it. If all else fails, use stock photography sites to pull some still images down and edit them in with memes or quote cards and tell the story of your book or summarize its plot or message.  With the right selection of music, even these can be effective. Slide.ly and Animoto are two third-party video sites that make this process relatively simple and relatively inexpensive.

Once you make one video and upload it, make another one, and make it unique. Then, track the views and comments to see which type of videos are most popular with your audience.


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.