Guest Post: Rachel Smith – Four Simple Ways To Get Your Book Noticed

Rachel SmithThe t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. Your book is done and you’re ready to publish. And the hardest part is over…but your work is not done. Now it’s time to begin your marketing plan. First, let’s assume that your manuscript is as polished as it can be – you’ve had it edited and maybe even beta read by family and friends. Let’s assume that you’ve picked out a great title, designed the perfect cover and clicked that final upload button to the publisher of your choice. Now what? How do you get the word out about your book? Here’s a quick list of ways you can get your book noticed:

Get your book reviewed. There are lots of different types of reviews. Editorial review are generally the most expensive ($299+). These reviews are by neutral third parties (yes, we do those) where an editor reads and reviews your book. You are then allowed to use that review in your marketing materials, on the cover, etc. But you can also leverage the blogger network.

What does this mean? I call it the ripple effect. If you have an amazing, compelling book – it will be successful. Remember the last time you read a truly excellent book – didn’t you want to tell everyone about it? There are quite a few bloggers that will read and do reviews for books they are interested in, some of them are even free. But it takes time, perseverance and research. There are several companies that will also manage the process of getting these reviews for you (yes, we do that too). Other options include contacting local media, newspapers and television. You’ll have a better chance of being talked about in your local news if you present your story in an interesting way for the editor of that outlet. Media outlets are always looking for more content that they can provide to their readers.

Use your social networks. This seems obvious but you don’t need to spam your friends and family. However, getting a mention to your book, a link, a like, a post can help a friend of a friend of a friend find your book. And don’t forget for every reader you have, your circle of influence expands. Social networks don’t have to be limited to online contacts. I was recently checking out at a store when the woman in front of me struck up a conversation with the cashier. She said something to the effect of, “I think that you would like my music. I just finished recording this and I’d like to share it with you.” She then left a copy of a CD with the surprised and pleased employee. That made an impact.

Donate when you can. There are libraries and schools near you that are always in need of new books. Find out how you can donate a copy or two of your book to them. They may have an area where they spotlight new books or local authors. Take advantage of this free publicity. Many of these library employees are in the business of recommending books on a daily basis. Also, don’t overlook that many retirement homes or senior citizen centers could benefit from your book as well. All donations are tax deductible either as charity or as a marketing expense. Ask your tax advisor for more information.

Sponsor a book club. There are thousands of book clubs all over the world that meet in person and online to read and discuss a specific book. Contact the leaders of these groups to suggest your book as the book of the month/week, donate it or offer to speak to the group personally for a question and answer session. Everyone loves to get a little “special attention” when they are involved in running or participating in a book group. These experiences give you an opportunity to form relationships with people that can become “super fans” and help grow your reputation while increasing awareness about your book.

These are just a few ways to increase awareness for you and your book. Most are fairly low cost but all involve forming relationships with people. You can download more marketing ideas free at http://www.entradapublishing.com/marketing_guide.html to get you started.

You can do this next step! Just take a few minutes to brainstorm your ideas and write them down, including the ones that you had while reading this article. Your book won’t sell itself. It need a little help from you – but don’t forget…YOU CAN DO it!

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Rachel Smith is the lead acquisitions editor and marketing manager at Entrada Publishing. She works with beta readers, editors and authors to get books into selling and award winning shape. She prides herself on having found two authors through beta reading for publication, holding their hand every step of the way and celebrating when they signed their first book deal contract. You can get help with all areas of book marketing, book reviews, beta reading, cover design and more at www.entradapublishing.com.

Tips For Marketing Your Self-Published Book

Marketing SelfPubed BookNote: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

When it comes to self-publishing, writing and publishing your book is only half the battle. The other half is an arduous, never-ending process of self-promotion. Many indie authors would prefer to write than to spend time networking and marketing. And many writers don’t even know where to start marketing. But being an indie author means that you are the only person responsible for the success of your book. You choose how it’s marketed and where. And to tell the truth, I’ve often found this to be simultaneously freeing and terrifying. So let’s take some of the mystery out of marketing and start selling your book.

Why Marketing is SO Important
As an indie author (especially while your fan-base is still new), gaining exposure is the hardest thing to do. Making money with your writing is typically not as simple as putting your book up on a website and then watching the dollars roll in. In most cases, people won’t even know your book exists. That’s where marketing comes in. You need to put your book in front of potential readers and grab them with your awesome cover and product description in order for them to buy it, read it, love it, and then tell all their friends about it.

When to Start Marketing Your Book
As soon as possible! You can start marketing before you’re even done writing your book. This way you can create buzz about your book and get readers waiting to buy it. But I’d advise that you only do so once you’ve decided on the final title. Nothing’s more confusing to a reader than ever-changing titles.

And before you start spreading the word, make sure that you know – without a doubt – that you will deliver your book by the date you’ve set. Don’t let your readers down, or they might not come back when you actually do release your book.

When to Stop Marketing Your Book
Never! If your book sales dip one month, who’s to say that they won’t spike the next? Keep making your book known. You never know when you’ll reach a new reader that will become a life-long fan.

Where to Market Your Book
The key is to reach as many potential readers as possible – and it’s even better if you can target people who you think will actually like your book. You’ll want to research where your ideal readers are (what sites are they on?) and cater to them. Here are just a few examples of the most popular methods of self-marketing:

  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc.
  • Your blog/website
  • Your mailing list of people who have subscribed to your site
  • Other people’s blogs/sites (by doing a guest post or blog tour)
  • Book advertising sites (this one takes some research, but you can find sites that will advertise your book for you – this usually requires a fee or that your book meets certain criteria)

How Much Will It Cost?
Basically, marketing a book will cost as much as you want it to. Some people swear by advertising on sites like BookBub (which can get pricey), others like to spend a couple bucks on paid Facebook or Twitter ads. And then there are people who like to advertise without spending any money whatsoever (social media, your own site, etc.).

I can’t say that any method is any better than others. But this is how I approach my marketing:

  • I market anywhere that I can for free
  • I make sure any sites that I choose to advertise on are legitimate
  • I’m not afraid to spend money to make money (provided my budget allows for it)

Sticking to the Guidelines
If you’re marketing on any sites that are not your own (this includes social media), make sure you are adhering to the guidelines set forth by that site. Don’t lie about the genre of your book just to get advertising space and don’t spam your audience (see below). This sort of behavior will only alienate potential readers. Be respectful of platforms that are willing to market your book for you – read their guidelines and follow them as though your writing career depends on it.

A Word About Spamming
Please, self-published authors, do not spam your audience or followers with incessant tweets or posts or pop-ups pertaining to your new book. Yes, keep it on their radar, but do not send out 100 messages a day telling the same people the same thing over and over and over. Make sure you are professional and that you’re representing yourself in a way that you’re proud of.

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Any questions or thoughts on marketing your self-published book? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

 

Writing Stellar Product Descriptions: How To Write Back Cover Copy That Sells

product descriptionsNote: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

Product description, blurb, back cover copy. It doesn’t matter what you call the text that goes on the back of your book, inside the dust jacket, or on your website – that text is one of the most important things you’ll need to successfully sell your book.

Why is that? Think about what happens when you come across a book you’ve never heard of before. Sure the cover might draw you in, but what’s going to sell you on actually buying that book? The description.

In order to help you write the best possible product description, I want you to ask yourself this question: If you were at a bookstore and picked up your book, what would need to be on the back cover that would entice you to open up the book, flip through the pages, and buy it?

Here’s my list of elements for a successful blurb/product description:

  • Mention any pertinent awards or prestigious publications you’ve achieved as a writer.
  • Got any great reviews or accolades for the book that you can pull from? Stick the best possible quote or tagline on there.
  • The feel of the book should be conveyed through both the description AND cover.
  • For fiction: give a few sentences that describe the main plot points. Introduce your main character(s), your general storyline and the challenge/consequences that the character(s) is facing.
  • For non-fiction: note what the book is about and what it intends to do (answer a question, teach someone something, etc.).
  • The summary should make the genre evident. If the book is a sci-fi book, make sure the summary reads that way!
  • Engaging, vivid language.
  • Tone that is consistent with the book and the marketing language you’ve used so far (like in your launch).
  • Include a call-out to your ideal reader. Is this the perfect book for fantasy lovers? Great for people who enjoy a quick, lighthearted read?
  • Keep it relatively short and very digestible. Potential readers will often skim over this section. Make it skim-friendly with bold terms, italic quotes, headings, paragraph breaks, etc.

If you’re looking for some examples of great product descriptions for self-published books (particularly fiction), I’d recommend checking out books from David Wright, Sean Platt, and Johnny B. Truant. For example, check out their product descriptions for Yesterday’s Gone and The Beam. When in doubt, browse through Amazon or Nook and see what you think works and what doesn’t for different books.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to do a couple different drafts/rewrites of your product description. Give it the time and attention it deserves. If you throw something together last minute, it will show – and your sales will likely reflect it.

You can always hire someone to write your copy, but unless one of your beta-readers or editors is a great copy writer, I’d suggest you write it yourself. After all, you know your book best!

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Any thoughts, suggestions, or questions about writing product descriptions? Let me know in the comments below!

Blast Off! Why You Need A Launch Date

BLAST OFF!Note: this piece is geared toward writers interested in self-publishing. Find other pieces on self-publishing here.

So you’ve got an idea for a book. Maybe you’ve started writing it already. Maybe you’ve already polished the final draft! But what do you do after the writing is done? What do you need to plan for before you’ve even finished your manuscript?

The answer: your book launch.

Indie authors are not JUST authors. We’re also marketers. As a self-published author, you’re responsible for the success of your book. And the first step to success is setting a launch date.

So let’s delve into the basics and discuss why you need a launch date.

Launch Date Basics

What is a launch date?

A launch date is the date that your book is first available for purchase. It’s the publication/release date. It’s the start of your book’s life!

When should I set my launch date?

I like to select a launch date as soon as I’ve started writing the first few chapters/pieces in a book. I suggest you figure out when you PLAN on having your book done, then set your launch date about a month AFTER that date. This extra month allows you time to play around with formatting and marketing – just to make sure everything is perfect. Plus, it gives you a couple weeks leeway in case of any hiccups while the book is being written (maybe you get some serious writers block for a week, or maybe your beta readers take FOREVER to get your manuscript, or maybe you find a plot hole and need to spend an extra two weeks rewriting half the book).

When should I announce my launch date?

This is tricky, and there are a lot of factors to consider, but it basically boils down to how long you’ve been writing.

If you’ve been writing and self-publishing for a while, you know how long something is going to take you to complete. If this is the case – announce your book and the launch date as soon as you start writing the thing! If you’re especially good at marketing and have your method in place, find ways to get pre-orders for your book before it launches!

If you’re relatively new to self-publishing, announce your book a couple months before the launch date – at least after your editors/beta-readers have had a go at the manuscript and you’ve made a round or two of revisions. Writing a book is hard work, filled with a lot of unforeseen pit falls. So make sure you don’t back yourself into a corner by setting a date without knowing that you’ll be able to have the book ready by then.

Where should I announce my book/launch date?

Everywhere!

Really, tell everyone about it. Tell your mailing list and social media followers. Post it on your blog/website. Arrange to have it put up on other people’s blogs or sites. Tell your family and friends and sort-of friends. Tell everyone!

Why You Need a Launch Date

Launch dates create buzz

Just like I mentioned in the basics section, building up to your release with announcements about your upcoming launch gets people wanting to buy the book NOW. Having a launch date gives your fans (and potentially new readers) a concrete date to get excited about and tell others about.

You can start lining up marketing/advertising for your book ahead of time

If you have a launch date, you can schedule posts and ads to go out on other sites on your launch date. It’s much better to have a fellow blogger say that your book will be out on “February 2nd” than “some time in February”. Plus, some sites that run ads require you to submit the date that you want the ad to run – and what better day than your launch date?

You’re accountable

When you announce to the world that you’re going to write a book and that it’s going to come out on a certain day, you’re much more likely to actually have the book ready to go on that date than if you hadn’t announced anything at all. It’s much easier to let yourself down than to let other people down. Having an official launch date keeps you on track.

It keeps you motivated

This is similar to the last point, but having a date that you book NEEDS to be finished by is incredibly helpful. It keeps you writing when you don’t want to. And it forces you to push through any writer’s block in order to get things done on time.

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So what are you waiting for? Go set a launch date for your next project. Then get to work!

Self-Publishing Checklist: 12 Steps to Success

Self-Publishing

You’ve put in the hours. You’ve bled and cried. You’ve driven yourself crazy trying to iron out that nasty plot hole. And now you’ve done it – you’ve finished your manuscript! Huzzah! Congratulations!

But now what? If you want to get your work out there and are considering self-publishing, you’ll want to make sure you cover the basics before attempting to put your words out there for the world to read.

I published my first ebook back in April 2014 – nearly a year ago. And now, with four more books slated for release this year, I’ve put together a checklist to help myself stay on track and would like to share them with you to aid you in your own self-publishing adventure!

Note: This is meant to be a very basic checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything. But not to fear! I’ll be posting more about these checkpoints in detail over the next few months.

Self-Publishing Checklist: 12 Steps to Success

  • Beta-Readers, Editors, Proofreaders
    • Have you had a second (or third or fourth) set of eyes look at your manuscript?
  • Revisions
    • Have you edited, revised, and polished your work?
  • Launch Date
    • Have you selected/announced a launch date?
  • Cover
    • Do you have a professional-looking cover for your manuscript? Is it eye-catching? Does it look good as a thumbnail (this is how it will show up on most websites!)? Have you done a cover-reveal?
  • Print vs. eBook
    • Are you producing this book as an eBook? Are you doing Print on Demand (PoD)? Find the vendors/sites you want to sell through and adhere to their guidelines (formatting, marketing, ISBNs, etc.).
  • Formatting
    • Has your book (whether print or eBook) been formatted to the appropriate formats for your vendors (or wherever you’re selling?).
  • Uploading
    • Give yourself a couple extra days to upload your book with to your vendors’ sites so that you don’t miss your release date.
  • Price
    • Have you selected an appropriate/competitive price for your book?
  • Blurb/Product Description
    • Have you written a stellar (and accurate) blurb to put on the back of your book or on your book’s page?
  • Selecting Key Terms
    • Have you selected succinct categories and key-terms for your book on your vendors’ websites?
  • Marketing Platforms
    • Where are you marketing your book? Follow any guidelines for those platforms.
  • Review Copies
    • Have you sent complimentary copies of your book to any reviewers you have lined up?

I hope this checklist helps you get a good handle on your self-publishing journey. Keep an eye out for more posts on self-publishing in the coming months!

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Have any steps that you find crucial to the self-publishing process? Have something you think should be added to the checklist? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!