As an independent author who is very active on social media (twitter, facebook, and pinterest), I see a lot of book marketing posts. If you read this blog regularly, you know I have eleven titles out and will be publishing my twelfth, Princess Anyu Returns, sometime before the 28th of February. So I feel like I know something about this business.
Here are the top four mistakes I see independent authors making that are absolutely certain to drive away potential readers.
#1 Mentioning you checked spelling and grammar in your book description or on social media.
I am genuinely shocked at the number of times “authors” tout this as a reason to buy their book. It takes MINUTES to run spell check in a word processing program. You do not get a gold star or a pat on the head for doing this. Adults are expected to do this. Likewise, telling us that you hired an editor to correct your typos only tells us that you do not possess the language skills to write, let alone publish a book.
Writing is a job, a profession. Treat it that way. If you need editorial help, hire an editor. That is fine and many experts say you should anyway. But for heaven’s sake, the only appropriate place to mention you used one is in the credits of your book — quietly and without any noise.
#2 NOT correcting spelling, grammar errors
Right after telling someone you corrected your spelling errors, the next best way to drive away a potential reader is to publish with spelling, typing, punctuation, and grammar errors in your book or in the book description.
Why? Because leaving these errors in your published book screams of unprofessionalism. It says “I expect you to treat me as a serious writer, but I am not going to bother to fix my mistakes before you read my book.” It disrespects readers and it hurts your reputation.
That said, mistakes do happen and sometimes they slip past the best of editors. What distinguishes the best professionals from everyone else is the response given to locating these errors. Professionals will quickly and quietly fix any errors they find and resubmit their books to their publishing platforms, knowing that doing so offers future readers a more perfect and more desirable product for purchase.
#3 Indiscriminately spamming social media and bloggers
No one likes a hard sell. As a matter of fact in today’s world we are so accustomed to advertisements across media formats that we instinctively tune out ads in favor of engagement. We want to be talked to and not talked at.
Enter social media forums and facebook groups, each of them designed around a central theme or purpose. An effective group offers members conversation and social opportunities. An effective book marketing group is a place where readers (potential customers) can discover new books without having to sift through a flood of advertisements for books they are not interested in. This is one reason why I love Tom Tinney’s “Promoting My Published Book,” group. By enforcing a strict set of rules for posting, readers are able to browse listings relevant to them without having to sift through posts of absolutely no interest to them.
Follow these rules and you are golden; you reach the readers most interested in buying your posts. But post without care or concern for what the group is about and you alienate not only readers, but the colleagues and potential reviewers most willing and able to get the word out about your books.
#4 Being difficult to reach
For me personally, the number one reason why people buy my books is that I am accessible. I am easy to reach and I spend large sections of nearly every day on social media answering questions and talking to people. The easier you are to reach, the more people connect with you. The better they connect with you and the better the rapport you build on social media, the more likable you become and more appealing your books become.
Remember: people buy from people, not corporations. Be a warm, friendly, accessible professional online and you are certain to see your sales skyrocket.
My simple prayer this evening:
Holy Mother, Creatrix of all you know I trust in you and truly believe that everything is happening as it should, that there is a hidden wind beneath my wings. I know that though my feathers are wet from torrents of rain and snow, I know in my heart you are always there to strengthen me.
You also know that for all my faith and trust, sometimes I feel sad. Sometimes those wet feathers feel so wet I am not positive all the time that I can fly. Sometimes I feel a bit anxious because if I fall, it looks like a very long way down.
But for all the inner tremblings, I know your wind is always there. All I need to do is believe in your gentle guiding wind. In the gale, it sometimes feel like no bird can fly. But you are there.
Please, Holy Mother, Creatrix, help me to feel your wind under my wings when my feathers are soaked, bring people in my life to cheer me on and tell me they believe in me.
Every bird must fledge, must dare to touch the sky. Be with me and show me how to soar.
Character name: Nellie
Book appearing in: Nellie Knows How To Knot A Neck Scarf
Profile: Nellie loves dressing up. She loves wearing pretty dresses, fun hats, cute shoes and long flowy scarves. Scarves are Nellie’s very favorite accessory.
Ideal actor or actress to play in a film adaptation: Mia Talerico
Keywords: marketing, self-publishing, blogging
It is three in the morning eastern standard time. Really truly I thought I would be back in bed like a civilized lass by now. But I am taking out a few minutes in the middle of the early morning because I am utterly baffled on something when it comes to my sister and fellow authors: why can so few of you follow kindergarten level instructions?
If you follow this blog you know that on Thursdays I run a character profile column based on the Chris Matthews’ Show column called “tell me something I do not know.” On his show, Chris Matthews gives political pundits about 15 seconds each to tell viewers something they do not know and should know about current events and politics. I can be a bit of a political junkie at times; Meet The Press is my favourite program on NBC. And yes, I confess I love the dedicated journalism of NBC London’s Keir Simmons; he is definitely a role model to look up to as a writer.
Taking a page from this journalism, these character profiles are designed to be SHORT. Firstly, they are completely free to the authors featured — as opposed to book cover reveals which tend to be PAID ADVERTISEMENTS (and no, I do not find those effective from a marketing standpoint).
Secondly and perhaps most importantly, the purpose of these profiles are to get you CURIOUS. When you as a reader are curious about something, you take the initiative to learn more about it, to explore it. The discovery process is satisfying for us as humans; we like to sample and try things ourselves. When authors deny us this process by overselling, our instinct is to move on.
The requested information on my form is therefore no accident. It is in fact very straight forward. I ask for the series name (if there is one), the character name, the book or books the character appears in, the Amazon or Smashwords link (permafree flash fiction like The First King tends to be on Smashwords, not Amazon because Amazon does not allow authors to offer free books there), and of course two or three sentences about the character. This is not rocket science. In fact, the instructions for the character profiles are many times simpler than those used by Amazon, Smashwords, and Apple to publish on their platforms.
I assume that someone able to self publish on the above is capable of filling out these fields.
Apparently though I am wrong. This is discouraging because I genuinely want to profile more character from more secular children’s, middle grade, and young adult books on this blog (if you are an author of these, please email me at peersofbeinan at gmail dot com with your inquiry and proposal). I love working together to bring great independent and small press books out there to readers like you. But seriously: this is a favour to you, a service. I am not your mother, I am not your editor. Do not treat me as one unless you want to pay me for the privilege. Do not get cute or think that the rules here do not apply to you. Because at this point instead of playing mommy dearest and treating you like a child, I am simply now rejecting submissions.
This form is not hard. It is not rocket science. If you can pass 2nd grade, let alone write for the 2nd grade, you can follow my instructions — or at least email me back for clarification on what I mean.
Time to grow up, folks! Self publishing is not for the feint of heart. If your aim is to fail at this industry, the best way I know is to disrespect bloggers and other writers doing you favours like this.
I for one am done playing mommy.
Originally posted February 28th, 2012
The Jewish Holiday of Purim is a festive, often raucous holiday filled with gaiety, great food, and parties. Yet for the gentile, this holiday is often a bit of a conundrum, even though many gentiles know the essential story behind Purim from the Biblical book of Esther.
Purim is a spring holiday, typically celebrated in March, celebrating Jewish survival in the face of genocide. The word Purim means “lots” and is a reference to the lots drawn by Persian courtier Haman to decide the date of Jewish annihilation. The story itself is told in full in the Biblical book of Esther, the name of a very brave Jewish young woman who, according to the story, was chosen as the new queen of King Ahasuerus (assumed to be Xerxes I of Persia) after his previous queen refused to come to a banquet thrown by Xerxes for several nobles. Queen Vashti’s refusal was probably understandable; the summons came while Xerxes was drunk. Regardless the historical details, if any, Esther’s ascent puts her in a rare position, able to influence the king in a time of crisis. After Haman tricks Xerxes into genocidal slaughter of all the Jews in his realm, Esther skillfully uses Xerxes interest in her to amend the new law-allowing Jews to defend themselves. It is her courage and intelligence (and the ultimate victory by the Jews made in self defense) that is celebrated at Purim-one woman who stopped genocide.
Orthodox Jews celebrate Purim with readings of the entire book of Esther in temple. During the readings, it is customary to shout or make noise whenever the name of Haman is read. Children dress up in costumes (making some describe it as a sort of Jewish Halloween). Adults drink-the much debated standard is “until they can no longer distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordecai,'” (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Meal/Drinking_on_Purim.shtml).
These are the parts of Purim that are more or less the real domain of Judaism. Yet it is the other half of Purim that I believe gentiles can robustly embrace and which I keep every spring as a gentile:
- Charitable giving: giving to those who have less than you do. This part of Purim reminds us that no matter how hard life is or how much we may lack, there is ALWAYS someone who has even greater life challenges-economically and otherwise. Purim reminds us to “count our blessings.”
- Giving food gifts: certain Jewish foods like hamentaschen cookies are traditional, but any food gift will work. This is related in part with charitable giving; there is always someone we know struggling to have enough to eat.
- Feasting/enjoying a special Purim meal: this is a merry holiday–of course we celebrate with food.
Purim is more than simply a celebration honoring the courage of a Jewish heroine. The holiday has evolved into a time for charity, food, and humble thankfulness for the blessings each of us receive and too often take for granted. No matter your religious or cultural heritage, each of us can celebrate this very Jewish holiday and its spirit of helping others.
For more about Purim, please see http://www.meirpanim.org/page_e.php?name=Purim andhttp://purim.123holiday.net/purim_customes.html and http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Purim/At_Home/Foods.shtml.
A nice recipe for hamantaschen is at http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/1366/jewish/Traditional-Hamantashen.htm
The following excerpt is highly unusual: it is the final two pages of the book, its epilogue.
“On BE 6961, beinor 154, my mother, Queen Constance the Kind, sacrificed everything to give me my one chance at escaping the weapon systems under Lord Yelu’s control. Hating Yelu as much as she loved Lord Knight Corann, she hid her feelings and played along with Yelu’s whims. It would not be until I returned to Beinan that I discovered Yelu’s plans that beinor; the drug my mother drank was no different than the one Janus gave Lady Ecter when he first raped her, conceiving in Lady Ecter his daughter, the future Lady Priestess Miriam, and through them, the Choire Ar Cerridwen.
“In my mother’s body, a child was quickened by Yelu’s persistence in those last beinors of the Beinarian era. Across Beinan, the fires emanating from the Ten-Arian monastery, from the temple of Abka Biya, and from the palace spread widely, destroying many familiar and sacred places. As I set course in my star craft for D425E25 Tertius, my star craft detected a strange anomaly coming out of the temple where I found so much peace. A small shockwave hit my star craft two xiao-shirs later. In my mind I heard Lady Laela’s voice and knew that somehow she was behind whatever it was my star craft detected, working unseen and unnoticed though for what purpose I would not understand until I returned to Beinan.
“The Beinan I knew was gone. But deep inside me I knew something else: that out of the darkness and cold comes a new spring, a new hope. If I ever doubted it, all I needed to do was listen to the messages left for me on board the Liltaél. The story of my exile on D425E25 Tertius and of my return to Beinan, planet B345A15 Quartus in Beinarian nomenclature took me down many unexpected roads. Many I loved perished in that Great War whose lives I honour across this history of the last yen-ars of the Beinarian Era. Many hidden things revealed themselves at last. I am not proud of what I said and did along the way. But this I affirm forever: in the darkest night, in the deepest snow, in the bitterest sorrow, there is love, there is light, and there is a new life waiting for you if you simply find the courage within yourself to believe.