Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Promoting your book as a self-published writer

Promoting your book as a self-published writer might feel like trying to juggle with hands that aren’t cooperating.  Your strong hand does what it does best – writing.  The other hand finds itself responsible for the job of getting the word out. How to share your writing with the world can be a real mystery.
The first thing to do is to make sure that your piece is properly edited.  I am lucky to have an English professor from Northwestern University who is willing to do this for me.  There are services online that will help for a fee, but you can also try local community collages and universities that may have people working in or toward editing professions who might help. 
Additionally, it’s important to distinguish your book as different from others while keeping it attractive to readers.  My mystery novel, The Shattered Swan, is set in Peru during an earthquake, but has a female sleuth who goes through challenges that most readers can empathize with.  I give ten percent of my proceeds to charity - which may seem like a gimmick but it’s my way of giving back after having survived an earthquake. 
Once the book is edited and uploaded to sites like Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu, the real work begins.  All of those sites have amazing support services for the self-published writer.  With a few clicks you can set up your own pricing, discount your book for special promotions, or discount with a code to give to specific people. You can use this last one to contact reviewers so that your book gets objectively reviewed.  Another option open to you is Amazon’s “library” service where someone can “borrow” the e-book for a short time for a nominal fee.  The only disadvantage is that you must have your book exclusively on Amazon for a period of time.
Now the big challenge becomes figuring out ultimately who will be your fan base.  This is where the beauty of the Internet comes into play.  If you are anything like me, when you go shoe shopping you try not to make eye contact with the salespeople.  Your greatest wish is to look for shoes without being pressured to try on that latest sky-high wedge or the snazzy new dress shoe that would go great with any suit – when all you want are a pair of sneakers.  Or conversely, you’re that hapless salesperson, which indeed we all are, trying to make a sale when all the client wants is to do it all themselves.  The Internet has unlimited ways of linking the salespeople with clients who actually want to connect.  And even if along the way there are those clients who insist on circumventing you, or those insistent sales clerks, there’s no need to blush at avoiding them since it’s all done through the computer.  It is easier than ever to focus exclusively on exactly what we are looking for online.
Finding those communities may take a little digging, but is not difficult.  First, there are the obvious ways: start a Facebook page, blog regularly, Tweet, and subscribe to online services like Murder Must Advertise.  Don’t forget to use tagging features where available and put as many relevant tags on your posts as you can to avoid “shoe shopping” situations. 
Other alternatives are also available to you.  In my case, I advertised in paper mystery magazines like Crimespree Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.  I sent flyers to mystery conventions and as soon as I finish my second mystery novel later this year, I plan on actually going to a convention.  It’s not all easy going and some of my efforts have flopped.  For example, gosh darn it, I just cannot figure out how to get my novel onto Google Books so that my local bookstore can have me in for a book talk – but if you happen to be more technically savvy than I am, many small book stores offer that option, you just have to ask.
There are also more unconventional routes.  Make sure that you talk to everybody and anybody about your project.  You may find unexpected connections, like opportunities to perhaps publish in Europe, or have your novel translated into another language for additional promotion opportunities.  Because of my networking, I was able to give a talk on The Shattered Swan at the Library of Congress in D.C. last year, parts of which are available to watch on youtube.
Most of all, be persistent and don’t get discouraged.  It is becoming more acceptable to be self-published, and the number of people that do their reading on portable devices now is increasing daily.
Krystiana Stacy Kelly

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Using the Facebook fan page

There it is – your new Facebook fan page. It’s got your book covers up there and some cute quips about writers shedding blood to get their words out each day. There are some personal pictures of you with other writers and readers.

Now if you could just get some fans, that would be nice!

It was easy to get your aunt and your mother to come to your personal page and ‘like’ it, but that’s not really who you want on your fan page – although that might be better than no fans at all.

Most writers know now that they should have both a personal, and a fan page, to use with their author’s platform. Why a fan page? Many reasons. You can have an unlimited number of fans on a fan page (only 5,000 on a personal page).

While 5,000 sounds like a lot, it’s not once you get going. Those are 5,000 people who might or might not be interested in your work. And it’s difficult to turn those ‘friends’ into ‘fans’ when the time comes for you to switch.

Fan pages also look more professional. You can get your specific message out to exactly the people you want to see it.

But once you’ve set up your fan page, how do you get people to ‘like’ it?

It can be difficult and take a while to get people to come to your fan page if you’re not Stephen King or Patricia Cornwell, but it will happen. You have to be smart about your content and give it some time each day. Commit to making this an important part of your marketing. There are hundreds of millions of potential people out there on Facebook.

Some writers have a problem getting on Facebook and are stuck on it when they should be writing. Set the alarm on your phone or any other device (even an egg timer) for twenty minutes each day. Use that time to add content and look at your stats (on the Admin page). When the alarm goes off, get out. Answer questions when you can during the day.
Link your fan page to everything from emails to your website. You should do this anyway to create the whole marketing effect you want for your platform. If you have an agent, ask that person to link as well. Writing friends are good too. The more people, the better. While you’re at it, look for groups and fan pages that readers – those who might enjoy your books - might be interested in. If your book has a chef in it, link to cooking sites, and so on.
Encourage participation from your readers. Ask questions. Hold contests. Looking for a name for a new character? Ask your fans (even if there are only three of them). Fans like to feel included and will reciprocate by telling others about your fan page.
Facebook marketing research has been extensive for large corporations. Use some of their tactics. Make your posts light and easy to relate to. Humor seems to be best. Don’t get too long or dragged down by dogma. If you’re going to have a contest, make it easy. Don’t expect your fans to go too far to win something. Have answers – even to negative questions that can pop up from time to time.
Keep it fresh. Give your readers content they might not find anywhere else. Share something about your work. Give them some personal photos, maybe you, writing at your desk today, or the dog that resembles the one in your book. Readers want to see the inside stuff. Give them that but don’t be mundane.
Getting people to become fans won’t be as easy as getting them to be friends but it is worthwhile. Don’t be intimidated by that blank space you have to fill in each day. As writers, we’re used it. With time and patience, there will be fans on your fan page that will be waiting for your new books to come out and badgering you about writing more words each day!
Joyce Lavene writes mysteries with her husband/partner Jim. Their 60th book, A SPIRITED GIFT, came out in December 2011 and is a National Bestseller for Berkley Prime Crime. She lives in North Carolina with her family and has 577 fans on her Facebook fan page. Twitter - @author54 and Joyce and Jim Lavene at Facebook.