Tag Archive | tricks

Marketing’s Big Lie: Instant Results

SherlockMost writers want to do just one thing:  write our books.  Few of us come from marketing backgrounds.  Still fewer of us think of ourselves as entrepreneurs and business owners.  In the old ages of traditional publishing, authors rarely had to be any of those things.  We slaved away trying to get a publisher to notice our work and/or securing a literary agent who would pimp our work for us — for a fee — while we went off and kept writing.

Self-publishing and the digital age has changed that for both self-published and traditional publishers.  Just as cigarette machines have gone by the wayside and Sherlock Holmes uses nicotine patches instead of smoking his pipe in response to smoking regulations in London, the days of in-house marketing and advertising for books by publishers are gone.  Today authors must do most of the work themselves.

There are no shortage of marketing firms to delegate to, of course, but as I found out across the winter of 2014 when I hired 180Fusion, marketing firms too often care about getting the business — any way they can.

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What this means is that marketing firms promise the sun and moon to you — if you hire them.  180Fusion promised to put me on the New York Times bestseller list within 30 days, using my natural optimism to augment their pitch.  I, like most people, want to believe that people are telling me the truth.  I have faith that everything works out.  I have faith in the quality of my work.  I know these books are well-written and reflect a lifetime of scholarship and dedication to my craft.

180Fusion took that and used that very positive quality against me with their pitch about what they can do with advertising on facebook.

Facebook advertising can and does work for some people.  The essence of their work is to study the numbers to make facebook ads profitable, making adjustments until the ads result in sales.  As Jonathan Gebauer points out, this actually is sound — but with one catch that was omitted from the pitch until I was ready to close my account:  it takes time, often months and years for it to work.

This is not something that can be achieved in the 30 days promised to me back in December 2013 when I signed up.  In fact it was only when I made a fuss about not getting results that I was told, quite condescendingly, that what they promised was actually not at all possible.  Then they said I needed to give it more time.  Just give it more time.

This was the truth in the lie.  It takes time.  Except they never told me this upfront, before I signed up.  They told me when I was ready to cancel, when they knew my patience was at an end.

permission to walk awayNow normally I am a very patient person.  If this service had cost me $10 a month, odds are very good I would have stuck it out.  Except it costs a minimum of $300 a month — when my budget was $10 a month!  This was known from the onset.  So they promised me the sun and moon and instant results.  It didn’t matter that their service was many times more than my budget!  Because I would re-coup what I spent with them very quickly.

It was a lie and they knew it!  It was predatory, disrespectful, and sadly not atypical of far too many marketing firms.

Instead, their focus was on getting me to sign up; it didn’t matter that to pay for their service I would have to plop down hundreds to thousands of dollars on a high rate credit card; as long as they were getting paid, they really did not care about me or my books.

Most people have a word for that and it is not nice at all!

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So what can we learn from this?  

Number one:  NO MARKETING STRATEGY GIVES INSTANT RESULTS.  As Jonathan Gebaur puts it, “Marketing never comes with a red button. 90% of the time marketing means: Work… Frustration… Small Improvements. Working out the little details. Improving little things to improve our results just a little bit. Good results take a lot of sweat and tears.”

Number two:  no matter what a pitch says, do not spend what you do not have in cash right now.  Set your budget honestly and hold to it.  If a company tells you that your budget doesn’t matter and you must spend more than that with them, they do not care about you; they care about getting your money.

Number three:  choose carefully.  Know that whatever do in terms of marketing and advertising will take several months to get results from.  Don’t just throw money at things hoping they will work; approach this with a plan and a clear set of perimeters and goals.  Pick one primary approach (like guest posting) and focus on that.  Don’t try to make everything happen all at once from everywhere.  Chaos works against you and ultimately robs you of your ability to focus, concentrate, and respond to your business and reader’s needs.

Marketing firms are out there to help you and should be used by independent authors.  But as with so many things, the rule “buyer beware” applies.  Ask questions, probe firms for answers, and if you see even a whiff of a hard sell or pressured pitch, run do not walk away.  Any business who cannot respect your budget and your goals is not really interested in working for you; rather they just want your money.

Reblog: An Active Author Brand

Today’s book marketing post comes from Richard Ridley of Createspace.

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If I had to describe the key to succeeding in indie publishing in one word, that word would be “active.” For a profession that involves a great deal of sedentary activities, those who rest on their laurels find it very difficult to sell books on a consistent basis. You have to keep moving in order to grow your author brand. Here are the three crucial areas where you should concentrate most of your activity:

 

ABW – Always Be Writing: If you want to get noticed, you have to have a track record in today’s publishing world. One book will most likely not help you gain widespread notoriety. You need multiple books to create an author brand that will get you noticed and bring in the sales.

 

ABM – Always Be Marketing: You can’t have books on the market today without an author platform. A platform is simply your online presence. That presence in today’s digital age includes your own website/blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And this presence requires you to be present in order for it to be effective. Contribute to your online presence multiple times a day.

 

ABI – Always Be Interacting: When you have your platform up and running, your readers are going to reach out to you. Don’t ignore them. Interact with them. Let them know how appreciative you are for their support. The more you connect with them, the greater the support they’ll give you.

 

The world of indie publishing is not for the lazy or unmotivated. It requires boundless energy to succeed. It requires that you be active.

 

-Richard

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

Repost: How Not To Request A Book Review

negative emotion isEarlier this week DA Bale sent me her blog post from BookDaily.com on what NOT to do when requesting a book review.  As always I do not like anything phrased in the negative because that has you thinking in negative terms instead of focusing on everything in the positive.  With that caveat in mind, here is her post in full.  Enjoy!

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You’ve sent out hundreds of emails to reviewers. You wait. You wait some more. Months pass. Impatience grows. You’re tempted to re-contact to ensure they received your request.

Don’t.

Seriously. DON’T DO IT.

Once you’ve sent out that initial request, you’re done. Most reviewers only respond if they’re interested – months later. It goes back to the flood of daily requests and a day’s limitation of twenty-four hours. Cross it off your list and move on.

As a fellow author, I make a point of responding to every request to avoid leaving others hanging in the dark. Yes, my response is usually a canned email (I know yours is too). Yes, I turn down the majority of requests.

Here’s why.

1. Genre: It’s obvious when an author sends romance that he/she hasn’t taken time to read my instructions. I make it very plain I’m not interested in romance, erotica, or horror. My favorites are thriller, mystery, and suspense followed by occasional fantasy. Check a blogger’s likes and dislikes. We put lists out for a reason. Don’t waste time sending romance to a thriller enthusiast.

2. Book title: Missing. If a reviewer has to spend time searching a massive email to discern something that should be in the first paragraph, it’s pretty much going in the trash.

3. Author name: Missing yet again. It’s frustrating not to have any idea to whom you’re corresponding. Even email addresses are just cutesy with no sort of identifier. If you’re going be an author, create an identifiable author dedicated email. Then remember to reference your name at least once, even if only at the close.

4. Book blurb: Excluded! Many authors place a link to the purchase page or website and expect reviewers to click on it. Not happening. Then again, sometimes the blurb is simply boring, long and convoluted descriptions that don’t say anything. I’ve even seen a book blurb with another section to state what the book is really about. Seriously? If you need to describe your description, something’s wrong.

5. Honest review: Telling a potential reviewer you seek an honest review is like telling them all their reviews up to yours have been less than honest. Reviewers try to keep opinions straightforward without outside influences. Saying you want an honest opinion is a slap in the face.

6. Free book: You’re asking me to review your novel. Of course you’re going to give me one. Stating you’re offering a free or reduced price book projects an unprofessional image. I’ve even had authors send me the link to buy their book. Understand this if you didn’t already – if you’re requesting a reviewer to spend personal time reading and reviewing your novel, a free copy is expected. End of story.

7. I’m new: Quick question – would you ever say this to a potential client in your day job? Don’t short-change yourself. You may have been writing novels for five minutes or five, ten, twenty years and just decided to plunge into indie publishing. Approach a reviewer with confidence regardless of how long you’ve been writing. You’re a legitimate, bonafide author.

8. Accomplishments: If you’ve won awards for novels in your publishing quiver, a reviewer would love to know. If you’ve won awards for poetry, journalism, or employee of the month – in other words anything outside of novel writing – don’t mention it. It means nothing to most reviewers. Cold truth.

9. Other reviews: Emails pile into my inbox incorporating excerpts of other reviews a novel has received. Share these with family and friends – not potential reviewers. Goes back to number five about avoiding outside influences. Reviews are subjective, the opinion of the individual reviewer.

10. Links: Unless a reviewer requests website links in your initial correspondence, don’t include any.

11. Attachments: Once again, unless a reviewer’s guidelines specifically state to do so, do not attach your book cover, author image, eBook or PDF file with your initial request. When we want them – if we want them – we’ll ask.

12. Reviewer instructions: Self explanatory. Reviewers put instructions up to help you and save everyone time. Read it. Do it. If you choose not to, shame on you because your request is heading for the trash bin. This leads me to another thing – always check to see if a reviewer is currently accepting reviews. Reviewers close submissions when the reading pile gets too big. If a reviewer has closed submissions, abide by this please. Otherwise it’s a huge time-waster, and your email is another great big delete.

Stay tuned for how to get on a reviewers must read list.

About the Author:
In her previous career, D.A. Bale traveled the United States as a Government Relations Liaison, working closely with Congressional offices and various government agencies. This experience afforded her a glimpse into the sometimes “not so pretty” reality of the political sphere. Much of this reality and various locations throughout her travels make it into her writing.

She dreams of the day she can return to visit Alaska.

You can find out more about her on her website www.dabalepublishing.blogspot.comand on Twitter

Repost: Six Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts

permission to walk awayBack in December I received a great article from a law of attraction newsletter called “7 Tips to Overcome Negative Thoughts.”  The seventh tip was a sales pitch, but the other six tips are good and useful.  Here is that article, minus the sales pitch, in full.

#1. Think about something or someone you like

 Maybe even write a list of ten things that you like, and spend your time thinking about them. This can help you put a smile on you face easily and distract the negative thoughts.
#2. Be grateful
Write down the things or people in your life that you are grateful for. Being grateful helps appreciate what you already have and move your focus to gratitude. The mind can only hold one thought at a time, so if you are thinking about the things you are thankful for, there is no more room for negative thoughts to exist.
#3. Go out and help someone
By helping someone, you move your focus from the negative thoughts you have to the solution thoughts that help solve someone’s problem.

#4. Change the tone of your thoughts from negative to positive. For example, instead of thinking, “We are going to have a hard time adjusting to our living situation,” think, “We will face some challenges in our living situation, but we will come up with solutions that we will both be happy with.”

#5. Surround yourself with positive people
When you’re stuck in a negative spiral, talk to people who can put things into perspective and won’t feed your negative thinking.
#6. Read positive quotes
There are plenty of places online that you can go and look for positive and inspirational quotes. These quotes are powerful because they can change your emotional state quickly.

Five avoidable errors by Indie authors

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012.  Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Cover art for The Great Succession Crisis, 1st edition paperback as published in September, 2012. Thanks to constructive criticism from reviewers, this cover art changed for the revised edition.

Great Succession Crisis paperbackIndependent authors have a mixed reputation.  With big publishing houses no longer serving as gatekeepers, deciding who to publish and what works will be published, the market trend is towards self-published, independent authors.

Publication by a big name doesn’t guarantee quality — as a recent conversation with a friend regarding the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey” revealed, a book widely regarded in literary circles as filled with unprofessional writing and countless technical errors — not to mention shallow characters and the glorification of what many people consider abusive behavior towards women.

Even so, ask most people if they expect great literature from a big name publisher or an independent author, the perception remains to side with big name publishers.

After interviewing authors for consideration for this blog, certain errors do seem to come up over and over again.  Let’s look at them and how you can avoid them in your own writing:

1.  Grammar/punctuation errors

There is a reason why the advice sites tell authors to hire an editor — or at least have a friend go through manuscripts with a fresh set of eyes before publication.  Editing yourself is HARD.  People miss errors in their own work that others will catch.  Looking at the 1st edition of “The Great Succession Crisis,” my own struggles with this are pretty clear.  That edition was far from perfect.

Fortunately, some very kind souls gave me constructive feedback reviews which I listened to.  The result: in January 2013 I released the revised edition.

Let me be clear:  errors are normal.  The difference between a professional and an amateur (in my humble opinion) in this print-on-demand publishing world is what the author does about errors once located.  Do you let miss-spellings, grammar errors, and/or punctuation issues persist, or do you edit and resubmit once you find mistakes?  

Professionals want their work to be as absolutely error-free as possible and make the edits.

2.  Poor cover art

Not everyone is a graphic artist or has great visual instincts.  But most readers can spot stock book covers (such as those created in cover creator programs) a mile away.

Your book cover is the very first thing a reader uses to determine if your book is worth reading. It’s your critical first impression.  If it looks like you just slabbed some text over a generic image, odds are really good potential readers will not take a second look.

3. Over/under pricing

Pricing is hard; it’s taken me a fair amount of trial and error to figure out how to price my books.  But as a rule, the extremes look bad.  That is to say, if you offer your digital book for free or 99 cents (special, limited promotions not withstanding), people are going to often times assume it’s not worth paying for at all.  Unless your “book” is a very short work, DON’T DO IT!

Likewise, don’t price your book outrageously.  A digital book of less than 600 pages selling for more than $20 (I’m going extreme here) comes off as arrogant and not worth buying.  In fact, the poorest reviews I’ve ever seen on a digital book were for books priced well above and beyond normal expectations.

4. Poor book descriptions

Your book description is the second piece of information potential readers see when looking at your work.  Book descriptions ARE HARD as I’ve discovered from personal experience, especially if your book falls into more than one genre at the same time or involves a particularly complex story.  At the same time, your description needs to be clean and professional.  This is not the time to show off your fluency with colorful colloquial language.  When people see grammar errors, spelling errors, and colloquial language in a book description, the inevitable conclusion is the rest of the book is of the same character.

5. Publishing before your work is ready.

Is your story compelling and interesting TO OTHER PEOPLE?  Have you researched your setting and other details thoroughly? Do your characters make sense?  Are your details accurate and believable.

Writing is not about you; it’s about your readers.  Publish quality work others want to read.

Remember:  you are your brand.