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Twitter Rules

Understanding the Twitter Rules: How does Twitter Define Spam?

Spam is unsolicited mail or messages. Most email programmes do a relatively efficient job of syphoning unsoilicted messages off to the Spam box. Twitter, it appears, does not have such capability. Instead, it takes the blunt instrument approach of suspending the account.

When Twitter suspended my account last week, they suggested I check the Twitter Rules find out where I’d gone wrong. My first reaction was that I hadn’t. But then I read the rules

Let’s look at the rules in detail.

There are three sections to the rules:

Content Boundaries and Use of Twitter

Pass. I’m not tweeting anything illegal, pornographic, or violent.

Abusive Behavior

Pass.

Maybe.

I”m not making threats, engaging in hateful conduct, giving out private information, impersonating anyone, harrassing anyone, or threatening to harm myself.

However, I do “operate two accounts with overlapping use”.

But I don’t operate two accounts “in order to evade the temporary or permanent suspension of a separate account”. I operate a personal account (@IolaGoulton) where I share book reviews and blog posts on writing craft. And I’m the volunteer administrator for a writing group (@ACWriters) which shares blog posts from group members (including me). Some of those are posts on writing craft, and some are book reviews.

I can see that if you compared the two accounts, it does look like they have overlapping use. And I do operate both. But I have no nefarious intent or motive. The problem is an algorithm can’t measure intention. It can only monitor action based on predetermined rules.

Spam

My first reaction was that of course I don’t spam on Twitter. But according to the Twitter Rules, Twitter’s definition of “spam” is wide. Very wide. And it includes some of my activities—activities I’ve adopted based on the advice of Twitter experts with a large and engaged follower count.

Let’s examine what is considered spam in the Twitterverse:

I’m not username squatting (inactive accounts can be removed), sending invitation spam, selling usernames, posting malware, or phishing.

But then there is general spam, which Twitter defines in a long list:

If you have followed and/or unfollowed large amounts of accounts in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive following or follower churn);

I follow around 500 people a week, and unfollow those who don’t follow back. My current Twitter following is over 13,000, so that’s a relatively low percentage (~4%). I would have thought this was designed to cover Buy 5,000 Twitter Followers Today! clickfarms, not someone who adds and deletes a few dozen followers over her morning coffee.

Crowdfire reports Twitter is actively targetting accounts with aggressive following or unfollowing patterns, and Twitter points out that using “Get More Followers Fast!” apps is not allowed.

If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile;

I do regularly follow and unfollow people to build my following. It’s a tactic many Twitter experts recommend. But I don’t follow and unfollow the same users over and over and over. I use the paid version of CrowdFire for following, then unfollow around a week later if they don’t follow back.

For [paid] users, we hide users they’ve previously followed so they don’t end up irritating Twitter users by following them again and again.

If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates

I do mostly post links. It’s called curating content. Curating content is a tactic recommended by many Twitter gurus, and is practiced by many major accounts (including the @Twitter account). It’s modern marketing at work: the principle of reciprocity (via Robert Cialdini and Seth Godin).

In my uneducated view, it’s also possible for accounts to have too many personal updates (e.g. what people ate for breakfast, and the accounts of many prominent politicians). But I can take a hint: more pithy one-liners coming your way. MaybeTwitter thinks the internet needs more stupid.

If a large number of people are blocking you.

I hope not, but how would I know? Twitter only shows me how many people I’ve blocked.

If a large number of spam complaints have been filed against you.

Again, I hope not, but how would I know?

If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account

This is where it gets tricky.

I use SocialJukebox (see Introducing SocialJukebox) to repost old blog posts—my own posts, and posts from group blogs. I can set how often I want posts to repeat—anything from 0 days up. I thought I had all my jukeboxes set at 30 days, but found I didn’t. Now I do.

I also use RoundTeam on the ACWriters account. RoundTeam automatically retweets any post mentioning ACWriters (many of which are mine, because I’m one of the most diligent Tweeters in the group). RoundTeam also retweets tweets from group members. Again, many of these tweets are mine.

Oops. I may have a problem. Unintentional (it’s not my fault I’m the most prolific Twitter user in the group). But a problem nonetheless—I’ve had feedback that Twitter doesn’t like Roundteam.

I have now changed the RountTeam settings to exclude me from the retweets. Avoid even the appearance of evil and all that.

If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #, trending or popular topic, or promoted trend

If you send large numbers of duplicate replies or mentions

If you send large numbers of unsolicited replies or mentions

If you add a large number of unrelated users to lists

If you repeatedly create false or misleading content

No, no, no, no, and no. The “large numbers” is disturbingly vague, but I don’t do any of these things.

If you are randomly or aggressively following, liking, or Retweeting Tweets

If you repeatedly post other people’s account information as your own (bio, Tweets, URL, etc.)

If you post misleading links (e.g. affiliate links, links to malware/clickjacking pages, etc.)

If you are creating misleading accounts or account interactions

If you are selling or purchasing account interactions (such as selling or purchasing followers, Retweets, likes, etc.)

No, no, I don’t think so, no, and no.

I have posted Amazon Affiliate links, and I don’t know if they are marked as such, and if that’s considered misleading. The Tweets are automatically generated by Amazon when you push the little Tweety Bird button at the top of the screen. The idea is to share book specials, or tell your followers you just bought a book. You know, to advertise Amazon. Sorry, Amazon. I guess I won’t be clicking that any more.

If you are using or promoting third-party services or apps that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast”, or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account).

I do use CrowdFire, but it doesn’t add followers automatically – only those followers I select (which I could do through native Twitter, then just use CrowdFire to manage unfollows). I don’t use follower trains or #FollowFriday or #FF, although I’m sometimes included in #FF posts from other people. But I can’t control that.

In conclusion …

Do I spam or don’t I spam? I know of one author who tweets a buy link for one of her books every ten minutes. I think that’s spam. She has over 350,000 Tweets, fewer than 5,000 followers, and a measly 16 Likes. That’s some form of engagement from 0.004% of her posts. Does she sell books this way? I don’t know.

In contrast, I’m not selling anything, and my 12,000 posts have attracted over 2,800 Likes—a much more respectable 23 engagement%. Which of us is the spammer?

This experience has reminded me that Twitter, like every other social network, is not my property. They let me play there, but that’s not a forever thing. The purpose of social media reach should be to drive people back to my property: my website, and my email list.

Which reminds me … if you’re not on my email list, sign up on the right. I email once a month, and include updates to Christian Fiction Publishers (a new edition is due out in January), links to my blog posts for the month, and other useful information for Christian fiction writers.
Twitter Account Suspended

5 Lessons Learned from Getting My Twitter Account Suspended

Or, how I accidentally violated the Twitter Rules and got my account suspended three times, shared here in great detail so you can learn from my mistakes and ensure you don’t get your Twitter account suspended.

Last weekend, my Twitter account was suspended for allegedly exhibiting automated behaviour that violates Twitter’s rules. Long story short, my account was suspended three times before I worked out what I’d done wrong (at least, I hope I worked it out. My account has now been active for a whole 72 hours without a suspension).

I’ve since discovered that other authors are having similar problems, hence this blog post. Yes, I know I said I’d be posting about plotting with Michael Hauge, and I will. But first I want to cover what I did wrong, and how you can prevent the same thing happening to you.

Avoid Using Twitter for Blog Comments

The first time my account was suspended, I was trying to use Twitter to authenticate a comment on an unrelated book review blog. I thought this was the problem. In hindsight, it may have contributed to the problem, but I don’t think it was the cause.

The comment was a form of automated behaviour, which well have triggered something in the Twitter algorithm that got me shut out. Or it could be one of several other factors (as you’ll see).

Lesson One: Don’t Use Twitter as a Login Unless Necessary

This is actually good online practice. If you use Twitter to log in to every app in cyberspace and someone hacks your Twitter account, they can do a whole bunch of things in your name. Not good.

Avoid Autoposting from Social Networks

I’m a book blogger, and I spent a few hours on Saturday uploading book reviews to sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, and Riffle. I was behind, so I probably uploaded ten reviews to five or six sites each.

My Goodreads and Riffle accounts were both set to autopost certain links to Twitter (which I knew was the case for Goodreads, but had forgotten with Riffle). Again, there weren’t a lot of tweets—maybe ten or twelve over a two-hour period—but that might have been enough to trigger the algorithm.

I reviewed my Twitter feed, and found the Goodreads and Riffle tweets. I deleted them, and edited the settings on both accounts so that nothing is automatically tweeted.

Lesson Two: Don’t Autopost to Twitter from Social Networks

Even when the social network gives you the option. I have to admit, this annoyed me. I was trying to be a good member of the bookish community by sharing links to reviews of books I’ve enjoyed, and I got punished for it.

As I was looking through my feed, I noticed some Tweets that were autoposts from Instagram. This isn’t a good idea. Apart from possibly falling foul of Twitter’s rules, the picture doesn’t show up. You’re better posting directly from Twitter.

Be Careful About Using Autopost Apps

I use Buffer and SocialJukebox to retweet old blog posts and book reviews, and RoundTeam to retweet from members of one of my many writing groups. Blogging experts typically recommend you promote your evergreen posts on social media. There are many tools designed to assist: Buffer, Hootsuite, ManageFlitter, MissingLettr, RoundTeam, and SocialOomph, to name a few.

Some experts recommend tools which automatically post based on selected keywords. I abandoned that idea after about three minutes, when I realised that using “Christian” as a keyword (or even “Christian fiction”) would get me a combination of faith-based content, and content that was decidedly more steamy.

So my practice is a little more time-consuming, but it means I have personally read and curated every Tweet. Well, almost every Tweet, because I was using RoundTeam for that small group of trusted writer friends. My bad. Because something, somewhere, decided this automation was violating Twitter rules.

I had no idea what I was doing wrong, so I shut off posting from Buffer and SocialJukebox. I’ve switched Buffer back on, but I think I’ll wait a few more days before restarting my Jukeboxes. (If you don’t know about these two programmes, check out my previous posts: Introducing Buffer and Introducing SocialJukebox.)

Lesson Three: Limit the Number of Apps you Use

This situation showed me I actually had no idea how many apps I was using with Twitter.

Review Your Twitter Apps and Permissions

Twitter settings include a list of apps we have allowed to access our Twitter account. So I checked out my list (in my Settings and Privacy menu). It was a lot longer than I thought. Many of them were apps productivity or curation apps I’d checked out, decided not to use, and forgotten about.

But I hadn’t revoked Twitter access.

My bad. I was unpleasantly surprised to realise how many of these could post on my behalf. I couldn’t see any tweets from them on my timeline, but what did that mean? Had they been autoposting and the posts deleted?

I clicked Revoke Access to pretty much everything (although most of them were read-only access in the first place), leaving only the apps I have paid subscriptions to (e.g. Buffer and SocialJukebox), and those that seem necessary (e.g. apps to comment on WordPress blog sites).

Lesson Four: Don’t Give Apps Posting Rights on Your Twitter Accounts

Unless you need them, of course. I’ve trialled perhaps a dozen apps, but only use two on a regular basis. But the others still had posting rights, and some might even have been still posting (e.g. MissingLettr, which schedules Tweets for up to a year in the future).

Be Careful With Multiple Twitter Accounts

I’m also the “owner” of a group Twitter account for a writers group, Australasian Christian Writers. The ACWriters Twitter account uses a different email address than my personal account, but both accounts use the same mobile phone number for authentication . . . which effectively links the accounts.

I happened to mention I’d been having problems with Twitter to one of the other group administrators. She checked the ACWriters account and saw it had been suspended (interestingly, when I checked it, everything looked normal).

I logged into the ACWriters Twitter account, and had to go through the whole unlocking rigmarole. Three times. This got me wondering: was it my “bad” behaviour that got my account suspended? Or was the ACWriters account suspended first? I don’t know, and I guess I never will. But it did show me that actions (and suspensions) on one account impact on the other.

Most of the activity on ACWriters is automated. The account doesn’t generate any native tweets, but posts links to new posts on the Australasian Christian Writers blogs, retweets @mentions, and retweets Tweets from blog members … including me. And Twitter might have interpreted that as me trying to toot my own horn.

Lesson Five: Don’t Have More Than One Twitter Account

Or, if you do, run them off separate email addresses, separate mobile numbers. And don’t have Account A set up to retweet Account B and vice versa, because Twitter calls that spam. Yes. The Twitter Rules contain dozens of possible ways you can spam, and some of them surprised me.

So while I never set out to violate the Twitter Rules, I did.

I’ve tightened my account, reviewed who and what can post, and done as much as I can to break the link between my two accounts.

I’ll be back next week to update you on my progress, and to talk through the Twitter Rules and work out what I might have done wrong … and what you might be doing.

Meanwhile, have I missed anything?

Introducing Buffer

Introducing Buffer

What Is Buffer?

Buffer (www.Buffer.com) is one of many programmes that allows users to manage their social media posting. Other popular options include Hootsuite and MeetEdgar. I like and recommend Buffer because I think it has a better user interface than Hootsuite, and it’s not as expensive as MeetEdgar.

Buffer Plans

Buffer’s free plan allows users to post to:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Instagram

The free plan allows up to five accounts—one from each network—and allows you to share up to 10 posts per network. This could mean one post a day for ten days, or ten posts every day (although then you’ll have to reload your Buffer each day. If you’re sharing this often, you might benefit from a paid plan).

The Awesome Plan

I subscribe to Buffer’s Awesome plan, which costs USD 10 per month and is awesome (Buffer don’t have an affiliate scheme, so I’m not being paid for saying that). The Awesome plan gives subscribers access to 10 social accounts across six social networks—the five networks available on the free plan, plus Pinterest.

The Awesome plan allows users to queue up to 100 posts in each social media buffer (so that’s 1,000 posts in all). They’ve obviously changed the rules a little, because my personal limit is 12 accounts, and if there is a limit on the number of posts per social media account, I haven’t found it yet. Moral of the story: subscribe early, to get the maximum benefit for the minimum cost.

The Awesome plan is designed for individuals—there are also a range of business plans starting at USD 99 per month (with a 50% discount for registered not-for-profit organisations). For more information on these plans, see their Pricing page.

How do I use Buffer?

Buffer is one of the tools I use to enable me to post to social media when I’m not actually on social media. I use a tool called Freedom to lock me out of social media for most of the working day. Buffer posts during the day instead of me, posting content I’ve added ahead of time. There are two types of content I share through Buffer:

  • My own content (e.g. blog posts)
  • Curated content (quality blog posts from other people)

Curated Content

I subscribe to more blogs than I care to admit through Feedly. Each weekday, I scan my Feedly feed and check out the titles of all the posts that have come through. I’ll read those which interest me, and pick a few to share. (This is why it’s important to have a catchy blog post title.)

But I don’t want to clog my social media feeds by sharing everything at once. Instead, I click on the downloadable Buffer extension. From here, I can choose which of my linked social media accounts I want to share to, and can write an individual message for each network.

I can write different messages for different social networks.

This is important when it comes to post length and hashtags. Twitter limits posts to 140 characters, while the limit (!) on Facebook is 63,206 characters. Two hashtags are ideal on Twitter. Instagram allows up to thirty, and Facebook … well, Facebook allows hashtags but they haven’t really caught on. #AndMostPeopleDontKnowHowToUseThemAnyway

However, if I share to a Facebook profile, a page, and a group, each one will show the same message. I can share the same post to two different Facebook pages with two different messages, but I’d have to share the post twice—first to one page, then to the other. This isn’t hard—it takes about 30 seconds per post.

If the post is time-sensitive (e.g. a book giveaway), then I’ll ask Buffer to “Share Next”. This means my queue is rearranged so this is the next post shared on each network. Otherwise I’ll “Add to Buffer”, which means the post is added to the end of my queue, and will be shared at different times to different social networks depending on what other posts are in my queue.

My Own Content

I use Buffer to share my own blog posts to my social media profiles. With my own content, I usually elect to “Share Next”.

I also use the Power Scheduler to share my own content over time.

What is Power Scheduler?

The premise of the Power Scheduler is related to a time management principle: Don’t Trust Your Future Self

Your future self won’t remember to promote your old blog posts on a regular basis, but you can act now and set the Power Scheduler do it for you.

When I have a new blog post that isn’t time sensitive, I use the Power Scheduler to set that post up to Tweet regularly over the next year. I could also use PowerScheduler to repost to Facebook or Pinterest—and I probably should.

Note that Twitter doesn’t allow you to share exactly the same Tweet too often, so Buffer will sometimes reject posts to Power Scheduler. I’ve found the easiest way to get around this is to write two slightly different Tweets for the same post, perhaps with different hashtags as well. I then share alternate between the two Tweets.

I share each post eight times through Buffer: today, then in 7, 15, 30, 61, 90, 180, and 360 days. That means I cover each day of the week. This takes about two minutes each day, and ensures my posts are scheduled regularly over the next year.

You can achieve a similar result through a WordPress Tweet Old Posts plugin, or using another app, MissingLettr. I’ve tried both, and found Buffer’s Power Scheduler is quicker and easier to use than MissingLettr, and easier to customise than a plugin.

What about reposting in perpetuity, not just for a year? I use Social Jukebox for that, and I’ll talk about that next week.

Being Social on Social Media

Using Buffer means that when I visit a social media network, I’m visiting to check notifications, respond to comments, thank people for mentions, and generally interact. I’m not there looking for something shareable—I’ve done that already, and I know my social media tools will deliver that for me.

Instead, I can use social media for the purpose for which it was originally intended—to be social.

Do you use Buffer or other social sharing software? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Best Book Marketing Websites

#AuthorToolBoxBloghop: 9 Best Book Marketing Websites

This post is part of the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop, the brainchild of  Raimey Gallant. There are over thirty authors participating in the blog hop this month, each sharing on a topic related to writing, publishing or marketing. There are three great ways to follow the blog hop:

  1. Check out the list of participating websites on the main blog hop page
  2. Follow the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop hashtag on Twitter and other social media sites
  3. Visit the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop board on Pinterest

So … on to my 9 favourite book marketing websites.

I’m not yet published. Well, not in a book sense. I’ve got thousands of words published online in the form of hundreds of book reviews and blog posts–my book review blog will hit 1,000 posts in a couple of months, and at least 80% of those posts are reviews.

Even though I’m not yet published, I’ve been studying the art and science of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing for several years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on the road to publication, it’s this:

Marketing starts a long time before you publish.

Which means everyone who wants to publish should have at least a passing awareness of current marketing trends. And there is a lot of marketing advice out there—some excellent, some good, and some downright misleading.

(I think the worst was the one which advised readers to add everyone they knew to their “opt-in email list”. Had she heard of the CAN-SPAM Act? Did she understand the meaning of the words, “opt in”? I can only assume not.)

Anyway, today I’m sharing the nine websites I find most useful when it comes to identifying book marketing trends.

1. BookBub

BookBub is the gorilla in the room of book marketing. They charge authors hundreds of dollars to advertise in one of their genre-specific daily emails, and turn down more potential advertisers than they accept. I’ve only heard of one author who didn’t make her money back on a BookBub ad (the book was middle grade fiction, so it doesn’t altogether surprise me. My kids are on their devices 24/7, but still prefer paper books).

But the power of BookBub’s featured advertisements isn’t why they are on my list. BookBub analyses their sales and other data to provide detailed articles on what sells, and what doesn’t. And that’s worth reading.

Chris Syme

Chris Syme is the owner of Smart Marketing for Authors, and the author of Sell More Books With Less Social Media, and the soon-to-be-published Sell More Books With Less Marketing. She also co-hosts a book marketing podcast with her daughter, bestselling romance author Becca Syme.

Reading Sell More Books with Less Social Media was a lightbulb moment for me, one of those times when someone says something that seems obvious, yet I’d never seen it before:

Not all authors are at the same level when it comes to writing and publishing, and our marketing needs to take that into account.

Dan Blank

Dan Blank is the owner of WeGrow Media, who help authors connect with readers. He has recently published Be The Gateway, where he shows authors how to research and understand their target audience, then work out how best to connect with those people. It’s about playing the long game in an industry where many people are looking for quick wins.
Be the Gateway
I like Dan’s philosophy of marketing—it’s similar to Tim Grahl, and is one I can embrace as someone who hates asking for the sale (something I’m working on). I enjoy reading his blog posts and newsletters—like his recent post reinforcing the importance of word-of-mouth marketing.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran is the author of Let’s Get Digital (why authors should consider digital self-publishing), and Let’s Get Visible. He was the first author to show me the importance of understanding and using Amazon algorithms to drive sales. The books are a few years old (and I read them both as new releases), so the information may have dated a little.

The other reason I like and follow David is because of his personal war against the vanity publishing, and the valuable information he provides on their various schemes. You might not think so, but this is marketing as well: it’s part of Product, one of the four Ps of marketing strategy.

Joel Friedlander

Joel Friedlander is The Book Designer. He hosts the monthly Cover Design Awards, where he critiques author-submitted covers. He also hosts a monthly Carnival of the Indies, a round-up of what’s new in indie publishing (and writing, and marketing). He also attracts guest posts from some of the top names in digital publishing.

Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson of BadRedHeadMedia is the mind behind #MondayBlogs and the weekly #BookMarketingChat on Twitter.

She’s also the author of The 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, which was the inspiration behind my own KickStart Your Author Platform challenge. Rachel doesn’t pull her punches, and brings twenty-plus years of pharmaceutical sales experience to her marketing advice.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin invented the idea of permission-based marketing, that we should work to grow a tribe of people who support us and our work. He posts a short blog post each day, and all are worth reading.

The Buffer Blog

I love Buffer. I loved their free version, and I love the Awesome plan even more. Buffer enables me to manage my social media sharing without going mad. Hootsuite has similar functionality, but I find the Buffer interface much more user friendly.

But that’s not the reason Buffer is on this list. They’re on my list because of their blog. They share millions of social media posts, and collect information on the performance of those posts. That enables them to write meaty blog posts that answer a lot of social media questions: when is the best time to post? How many times a day should you post? Do you need to use hashtags? Images? Which social media networks perform best?

Buffer knows, and Buffer tells us.

Tim Grahl

Tim is the owner of Outthink Group. He is the author of Your First 1,000 Copies (which preaches the importance of building an email list and using those connections to market your book), and The Book Launch Blueprint (which reinforces the importance of building an email list, and using those connections to launch your book).

He’s not about sell-sell-sell. He’s about building meaningful connections, about getting permission to contact people (through the email list), delivering relevant content, and outreaching from there.

It’s been several years since I read Your First 1,000 Copies. I’ve recently realised that while I’m doing Permission and Content reasonably well, I need to work on Outreach.

That’s my list of the best book marketing websites. What are yours?

 

Reader Question: Should I Hire Someone to Build my Social Media Presence?

Today I’m visiting Australasian Christian Writers to answer a question from a reader:

Building Your Social Media Presence

An agent liked my manuscript, but said I needed to build my social media presence before he’d consider representing me. I work full time. Should I hire someone?

Short answer: Maybe. Long answer …

Maybe. It depends on what your agent means by a social media presence, the kind of books you write and plan to write, on your brand, and on what God wants for your writing …

To read the rest of this post, click here to visit Australasian Christian Writers.

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in a future blog post, please email me via www.christianediting.co.nz/contact, or tag @iolagoulton on Twitter.

Websites for Writers: Which Platform is Best?

Writer websites - Christian Editing ServicesWhy have a website?

It’s your “space” on the internet. It needs to be a space you control, because otherwise you’re at the mercy of ever-changing algorithms and terms of service.

(This is also why marketing experts recommend developing an email list. Because you own it.)

I recommend having a self-hosted WordPress.org site rather than a free Blogger or WordPress site.com. There’s nothing wrong with Blogger or WordPress.com, but the point of a website is that you own it. And you don’t own a free blog. As I found out …

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Blog

One day I woke up to find my Blogger site, Iola’s Christian Reads, had disappeared. Instead, there was a message to say my site had been removed because of “inappropriate content”. It was a book review blog. Of Christian novels. What could possibly be inappropriate about that, beyond a few critical reviews of books I didn’t enjoy because of dubious theology?

Who knows? Anyway, I followed Google’s instructions and Google must have agreed with me, because my site was soon restored. No harm done. Even if I had lost material, I could have recreated the site. I have Word copies of all the reviews. Most of them have also been posted to Amazon and Goodreads, so it’s not like the content will disappear forever.

But that story could have had a different outcome.

And that’s why I recommend having a self-hosted site: because then you’re not at the whim of Google (or some disgruntled reader who’s reported you for being “inappropriate”). And I’m not alone in this: every book marketing expert I know of recommends the same thing, including Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, Kristen Lamb, Joanna Penn, Nick Stephenson, Chris Syme, and more.

What does Self-Hosted Mean?

Hosting refers to where the site is stored online. It means you either have to host the site yourself (and I have absolutely no idea if that’s even possible, let alone how much it would cost). Or you have to use a service like Bluehost or Dreamhost to host your site. And that does have a cost—$5-$10 per month depending on the size of your site and how much you pay in advance, but a cost nonetheless (Bluehost is US $3.95 per month if you’re prepared to pay three years up front).

You can often tell from the website address whether it’s a hosted or self-hosted site:

Experts say you look more professional if you have your own site name rather than a Blogger or WordPress address. It says you’re serious—a Blogger address says this is a hobby. And I’m fine with that for my book review blog, but not for my professional sites. (Yes, you can use your own website address on a free Blogger site, but there is a charge for this.)

If you want to understand hosting options better, then I suggest you listen to this podcast episode from The Novel Marketing podcast: Website Hosting for Authors (13:58 long).

What Are My Website Options?

The main options are:

  • Blogger
  • SquareSpace
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • WordPress.com
  • WordPress.org

Blogger

Blogger is owned by Google, and it’s more basic than Weebly, Wix or WordPress, which means it’s an ideal first website for many people (including me). But Blogger has limited ability to change the blog’s appearance (which limits your ability to brand yourself), and has limited functionality.

SquareSpace

SquareSpace has a free trial, but appears to cost USD 12.00 per month (when paid annually). It’s another simple platform, which makes it easy to use, and the themes are apparently among the best. All themes are mobile responsive, and it integrates with mailing programmes such as MailChimp.

Weebly

Weebly is a drag-and-drop platforms. This means you get to choose how your site looks. The basic site is free, but runs off a subdomain (so your website address is www.yourname.weebly.com), has a 500MG storage limit, and displays Weebly advertisements. And running a site though Weebly means it’s their site. Not your site. Only some themes are mobile responsive.

You can have up to ten pages on a free Weebly site (and I don’t know if that includes a blog or not). That might seem a lot when you’re first setting up a site, but in time you’re going to need a page for your books, and a page for each individual book. You don’t want to get to the stage of launching your third or fourth book and realize you need to move your website. Better to think longer-term now.

Paid Weebly plans start at USD 8.00 per month (when paid annually), and allow for a custom domain and no advertisements. See https://www.weebly.com/pricing for prices.

Wix

Wix is similar to Weebly, in that it is a drag-and-drop platform, and the free version runs off a Wix subdomain (so your website address is www.yourname.wix.com), and displays Wix advertisements. Themes are not mobile responsive, which is a big issue as mobile use grows.

Paid Wix plans start at USD 4.50 per month, and allows a custom domain name but still display advertisements. See http://www.wix.com/upgrade/premium-plans for prices.

If you use Wix and you’re planning to develop an email list and have a newsletter, then you won’t be able to use MailChimp or any of the more common email programmes. You’ll have to use ShoutOut, Wix’s email programme, and this will mean more work for you when it comes to building your email list.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a free site, hosted by WordPress. While it has a lot of the functionality of WordPress.org, it also has all the disadvantages of free. And free can cost … as social media Jedi Kristen Lamb recently found out when she migrated her website from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Kristen’s web dude was able to migrate all her posts, and she now has a fabulous new site.

But she lost 21,000 followers in the process. Yep, read that again. Twenty. One. Thousand.

Some of them (including me) will find her new site because we’re following her via Feedly (web dude must have done something clever there!). Others will find her because they follow her via email, or because they are members of her #MyWANA tribe.

As she says, learn from the mistakes of others. If you’re serious about being an author, start as you mean to go on. And that means a WordPress.org website.

WordPress.org

All the experts recommend self-hosted WordPress sites, which is what I’ve gone for and what I recommend for this challenge. The main advantages are:

  • You don’t have the telltale .blogspot.com or weebly.com or wix.com or wordpress.com address
  • You have a lot more options around customising your site so it doesn’t look like everyone else’s sites (when I first started my book review blog I used a theme with books in the background—and so did every other newbie book blogger. That’s not good branding).
  • There are hundreds of free and premium (aka paid) plug-ins available for WordPress sites.

A plug-in is basically an app or program that adds some kind of useful functionality e.g. automatic site backups, or contact forms. If you’re on a hosted site (WordPress or other), you won’t be able to access a lot of this functionality.

The main reason I’m suggesting WordPress is because I found a fabulous 5-Day Challenge which enables you to build your own self-hosted WordPress site from scratch. I built both my sites with it, and absolutely recommend it,.

Which platform is best is going to depend on what you want to do with your site.

But I’m going with all the experts and saying that if you’re a professional author, your best option is self-hosted WordPress.

Six Factors to Consider in Planning an Online Giveaway

Six Factors to Consider in Planning an Online Giveaway via Christian Editing ServicesHave you ever wondered what’s involved in planning an online giveaway? Or how to run a giveaway?

Over the last three weeks, I’ve published a series of blog posts at Australasian Christian Writers. The subject has been email lists and author cross-promotions:

Today I’m going to share six factors to consider in planning an online giveaway.

 

1. Consider Your Strategy

Just because I’ve been extolling the benefits of online giveaways and multi-author cross-promotions doesn’t make it the right tool for you.

The best cross-promotion opportunity for you might depend on your overall marketing strategy. A multi-author cross-promotion to encourage newsletter signups is going to be of little use if you don’t have an email list (although it might be the prompt you need to start one).

Ask yourself: Is this opportunity consistent with my overall marketing strategy?

 

2. Consider Your Brand

With a one-on-one cross promotion with another author, you are effectively endorsing that other author by recommending him or her to your readers. You need to make sure the author is one you want to endorse, in order to protect your own brand—otherwise, you might find yourself in the awkward situation of losing readers if they have an issue with the author you endorsed.

You might need to consider:

  • Genre
  • Content (language, violence, sexual content)
  • Quality of the writing and editing
  • Size of audience—you want the other author to have a similar-sized audience to yours

This is less of an issue with a multi-author cross-promotions, as most allow readers to choose which specific author lists they sign up for.

Ask yourself: Is this promotion opportunity consistent with my author brand?

 

3. Plan Your Giveaway

You’ll need to promote the giveaway to your existing email list, and via your social media channels. You’ll also need to meet any group expectations and requirements in a multi-author cross-promotion. How are you going to do that? Can you schedule a series of social media posts in advance?

Ask yourself: How will I promote this giveaway?

 

4. Plan Your Follow Up

Will your new subscribers be automatically added to your email list, or will you have to add them manually? How are you going to do that? What are you going to do with your new subscribers? Are you going to let them languish on some forgotten list … or are you going to follow up with them right away? Do you have a free download for them, to encourage them to stay on your email list? How are you going to send that to them? Do you have time to individually follow up every email?

This may mean setting up an auto-responder sequence to automatically send a short series of emails to every new subscriber. This needs to written and actioned before the giveaway begins. Note that auto-responder emails aren’t a free feature of most email providers. I’m told they are free with MailerLite, but that tool doesn’t automatically integrate with Instafreebie–so you’ll have to send the emails manually, or pay for a provider like MailChimp.

But the beauty of a pre-prepared auto-responder sequence is once you set it up, it’s there for any future promotions.

Ask yourself: Can I easily set up the appropriate follow-up emails?

 

5. Consider During the Giveaway

The reason I recommend setting up the social media schedule and auto-responder sequence in advance of the giveaway is that you’re likely to get a lot of emails during the period of the giveaway (unless you’ve paid someone else to organise the giveaway for you).

The host of the multi-author Instafreebie giveaway I participated in reported receiving a lot of emails from people who didn’t know how to transfer the file Instafreebie emailed them to their ereader device. Fortunately, she had a relevant YouTube video, so she was able to respond to enquiries by sending the link.

I ask several open-ended questions in my auto-responder email sequence, and several people emailed me with answers … and more questions. Each question was unique, so each response took time (although I will later repurpose several of my answers as blog posts!).

Ask yourself: Will I have time to follow up on individual emails and requests?

 

6. Consider After the Giveaway

Once you’ve run your giveaway (or participated in a multi-author giveaway), you’ll need to find some way of delivering your books to the winners—if this doesn’t happen automatically (e.g. via Instafreebie).

You can:

  • Email the book directly to the winner e.g. epub, mobi or pdf file. Some authors are hesitant about this, because an unscrupulous winner could email the file to their 5,000 closest friends.
  • Gift them the ebook via Amazon, Smashwords or some other online retailer. This is safer, but does cost you money. And you might be unable to gift via Amazon—or the winner might be unable to accept the gift if they’re not on Amazon US.
  • Use a third party such as BookFunnel, Instafreebie or NetGalley.

BookFunnel

BookFunnel is a way of distributing ebooks to bloggers, influencers, reviewers, and street team members. It can also be used to distribute ebooks to your email list. You load up your book in ePub and mobi formats, and BookFunnel creates a link to that book. This can be a unique link for each reader (e.g. for a review team), or a general link.

Prices start at USD 20 per year for the Basic plan. This allows authors to upload up to five books with one pen name, and delivery of up to 500 books per month. This does not include giveaways or MailChimp integration. The Mid-List Author plan is USD 100 per year, and includes giveaways, unlimited books, and up to 5,000 downloads per month. MailChimp integration costs an additional USD 50 per year.

BookFunnel is similar to InstaFreebie, but will provide readers with assistance to get their book delivered to their device.

However, it doesn’t promote giveaways in the same way as InstaFreebie does—it relies on you promoting your book in order to get people to sign up to your email list.

NetGalley

I’ve blogged previously about NetGalley. One of its features is the ability to email a widget that allows the recipient to download the ebook in epub or mobi format. However, NetGalley is expensive, so this is probably only an option if you or your publisher are already paid-up members.

Ask yourself: Do I need to invest in any tools to manage this giveaway?

 

What else might you need to consider in planning a giveaway?

 

A Step-By-Step Plan to Give Your Book the Best Launch Possible

I’ve read and enjoyed all Keely Brooke Keith’s Uncharted novels, which I guess I’d describe as futuristic historical fiction–they’re set our future, but in a society which has had no external contact for about 200 years, so still has only 1860’s levels of knowledge and technology.

Keely impressed me with her debut novel, not only with her actual story and writing, but with her professional approach to marketing. So I’m delighted to welcome her to Christian Editing Services today to share some of that knowledge with you, and to introduce her first non-fiction projects: The Writer’s Book Launch Journal, and The Writer’s Book Launch Guide (which I reviewed yesterday—click here to read my review).

A Step-By-Step Plan to Give Your Book the Best Launch Possible

The Writers Book Launch Journal by Keely Brooke KeithBy Keely Brooke Keith

Congratulations, it’s a book! Whether you are approaching your first book launch or your tenth, it’s time to take a long slow breath and relax into the creative process of promoting your release. You’ve done the hard work, and someone out there needs your book.

While there is no one-size-fits-all book promotions plan, there are certain essential tasks both traditionally published authors and independent authors should do (or delegate to their assistants) to ensure a fulfilling book launch. I’ve written a handholding book marketing guide to help (The Writer’s Book Launch Journal, Edenbrooke Press), but here are a few basics to get you started:

Ready your website.

Your website is the online version of your office or storefront. It could also be your catalog, your bulletin board, or your yearbook. It should not be a cobweb-covered single page you set up years ago and haven’t touched since.

Unless you are an avid blogger or content provider, the author website is not how readers discover you. It’s where they come to learn more about you. Your web address should be the simplest form of your author name as possible. And it should be the link you share more than any other.

Before you create (or update) your author website, look at the websites of some of the top authors in your genre. Decide what you like about them. Notice some of the elements the websites all have in common. You will probably find most of them have basically the same pages. Choose a theme, or the look of your website, that reflects your brand.

Ready your social media.

While the social media landscape changes as quickly as highly-caffeinated developers can write code, the purpose and best practices of an author using social media for book promotion remain the same. Your readers want access to you (or will once they read your fabulous book). They want the inside scoop on your story, your research, and your writing related events.

Your social media presence should be just that: social.

And it should be professional. And yes, you should also use it to let people know when you have a new book coming out, but recognize that social media is largely a post-discovery point of contact with your readers.

Create or update your social media accounts. This should include an official author page on Facebook, a Twitter account, and a Google+ account. Depending on your genre and target audience, you might also want to have a presence on other platforms. For example: Instagram and SnapChat are popular with teens at the moment, while Pinterest is the website of choice for a large sector of 35+ year old women with college degrees. Twitter is a great place for writers to connect with each other and keep up with the industry.

It might take setting up an account on each major social media site and experimenting to find out what works best for you and where your readers will connect with you. The important thing is that you maintain a consistent, professional presence and, of course, that you choose a platform you enjoy.

Build your connections.

Writing allies are the people who support you and make your writing life possible, enjoyable, and peaceful. You can usually find a writing group by searching online or even through your social media interactions.

Writing conferences come in all sizes and offer a menu of classes to sharpen your skills. There are a variety of professional organizations that support every genre. Consider joining the writing organization that would best align with your writing goals.

Many radio and television programs feature authors, as do newspapers and magazines. Often local media outlets are more accessible to new authors.

Build your dream team by creating a sign-up form and promoting it online. Often the promise of an early review copy of your book is all it takes to get booklovers and bloggers to join your team.

If you like the sound of your own voice, consider starting a podcast and interviewing others in the field related to your book.

Perfect your product.

If you’re traditionally published, your publisher should ensure your book has been professionally edited and formatted and has an eye-catching, genre-appropriate cover. But if you’re independent, it’s up to you. If you’re signed to a traditional publisher, they might write compelling copy for your book. They might not. If you are an indie author, you will have to write it yourself.

Either way, take the time to perfect your book description. Also, consider writing a reader’s guide or book club questions to include in the back of your book.

Create your media kit.

A media kit (also called a press kit) can be as simple as a document file containing your author bio, professional photo, book release information, book cover image, book description, sample Q & A, book excerpt, and endorsements. You might not have all of the information available yet, but go ahead and start the document so you can add to it as you go.

Find potential reviewers.

Book reviewers can be found in groups on social media, on Amazon by looking at the reviews of comparable titles, and on book sites such as Goodreads. You can search online for book bloggers in your genre who accept review submissions. Create a sign up form for new reviewers. Promote it on your social media and send it to your email list.

Find potential endorsers.

Books endorsed by popular authors in the same genre or influencers in the field related to a book tend to sell better than those without endorsements. Who might you ask for an endorsement? If you don’t know the potential endorsers personally, email them individually.

What do you do once you have the basics covered?

Let The Writer’s Book Launch Journal guide you through the marketing and promotional tasks every author should do to ensure a successful book launch. Filled with checklists of essential tasks, an abundance of publicity suggestions, and questions to personalize your promotions, The Writer’s Book Launch Journal will lead you on the journey to a fun and fulfilling book launch.

And since some authors want the information in The Writer’s Book Launch Journal but prefer to scroll through the checklists on their computer, I’ve also written the ebook The Writer’s Book Launch Guide: A Step-By-Step Plan to Give Your Book the Best Launch Possible. This ebook is a good companion to The Writer’s Book Launch Journal because the tasks are explained in more depth. I recommend getting both the journal and the ebook together.

About Keely Brooke Keith

Keely Brooke Keith is the author of The Land Uncharted (Edenbrooke Press) and Aboard Providence (CrossRiver Media). Her novels are known for blending genres in unconventional ways. When she isn’t writing stories, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Keely resides with her husband and their daughter on a hilltop south of Nashville where she dreams up stories, hoping to encourage, comfort, and inspire readers. She is a member of ACFW.

#Instafreebie Non-fiction Books for Authors and Writers

Do you use Instafreebie?

Have you used it as a reader looking for books, or as an author looking to promote your work?

http://indiebookpromo.com/2017/02/instafreebie-non-fiction-books-just-authors-writers/

I’m currently in the middle of my first ever Instafreebie promotion, #Instafreebie Non-fiction Books for Authors and Writers.

It’s going well. Really well. In the first 24 hours, I received 60 new newsletter subscribers. To put that in context, it took me 18 months to get my first 60 subscribers.

 

But how did I get here?

I’m a member of the Self-Publishing Formula group on Facebook, and I’ve signed up for their email newsletter. One newsletter talked about forming smaller genre-based groups for cross-promotion. I joined a couple of groups, including the non-fiction group.

I’d only been in the group a couple of days when one of the members, Jackson Dean Chase, floated the idea of a joint promotion of books for writers.

All I had to do was have a book I could use as a reader magnet, and have it uploaded on Instafreebie.

Well, I had a book—Christian Publishing: A Guide to Publishers Specializing in Christian fiction. I didn’t have it uploaded on Instafreebie, but a couple of hours on Canva and Calibre fixed that. And I was in.

Jackson contacted Instafreebie, who promised to promote the giveaway if we could get ten or more authors involved.

We got 18.

All participating authors agreed to email our current lists, and to promote the giveaway on social media. The beauty of this promotion was that participants weren’t required to have a minimum number of subscribers. Many cross promotions do … which makes it difficult for authors with smaller mailing lists (*raises hand*).

Jackson created some graphics for us to use, and Barb Drozdowich collected all our covers and set up a landing page. She linked the 18 books on the landing page to the book pages on Instafreebie. Visitors can click on a book cover and be taken to Instafreebie to sign up for the author’s mailing list and collect their free download.

Promoting on Social Media

Jackson set up a Headtalker campaign to run on the first day of the promotion. This hit the targeted number of supporters, and meant 53 supporters combined to reach 1,221, 732 people on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Yep, that’s more than 1 million social media contacts. It wasn’t difficult to reach because we have 18 authors in the cross-promotion, and many of them have more than one social media account. It helped that one of the authors in the cross-promotion has over 180,000 Twitter followers!

We have also set up a Thunderclap campaign for 11 February, the day before the cross-promotion ends. (We’re still recruiting supporters—Thunderclap requires a minimum of 100 supporters in order for a campaign to go ahead).

We got mentions on a couple of big author groups on Facebook, including The Smarter Artist. Giveaway authors also posted on groups they are members of. For example, I posted on Australasian Christian Writers, Christian Writers Downunder, and New Zealand Indie Authors, and Romance Writers of New Zealand. I’ll post on some other groups later in the week—making sure I only promote in groups which permit self-promotion, of course!

I’ll be blogging more about cross promotions at Australasian Christian Writers over the next few weeks, and I’ll post links in my next newsletter. If you’re not already on my newsletter email list, you can sign up at Instafreebie (surprise!).

Here’s the link: http://indiebookpromo.com/instafreebie-books-just-authors-writers/

There are some excellent books on offer—and they’re all free!

And if you’d like to support the Thunderclap campaign, click here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/52900-nonfiction-books-for-writers

We need 100 supporters in the next four days in order for the campaign to go ahead. It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers you have—you still count as one supporter for Thunderclap.

Have you participated in any author cross promotions? What was your experience?

If you’ve never used Instafreebie, what questions do you have?

Book Launch Case Study: Heather Day Gilbert

Today I am interviewing Heather Day Gilbert, who is talking about the release of her first novel, God’s Daughter, which I recently reviewed on Iola’s Christian Reads. Heather’s second novel, Miranda Warning, will release on 20 June 2014.

Welcome, Heather!

What platform did you have prior to the launch of God’s Daughter?

I’m so thankful I had an agent who encouraged me to build my platform while my book was out on submission (it was out for almost a year and a half!). In that time, I joined Pinterest, Twitter, and started a Facebook Author Page. I changed my email, website, and twitter handle to reflect my author name (not an idea, like @vikingwritergal). I joined with two other authors, Becky Doughty and Jennifer Major, in a group website dedicated to the love of fiction and the need to nurture marriages (Married…with Fiction, which is no longer an active blog).

So by the time I realized God wanted me to self-publish my Viking novel, I had a firm platform in place. I would say I had at least 1,000 twitter followers and 200 Facebook fans at that time. I truly feel Facebook is where I connect most easily–it doesn’t require long posts so I can get relevant info out fast and regularly touch base with readers. Pinterest is also a wonderful way to connect with other Viking-lovers all over the world.

Since my launch, I’ve added more outlets–a newsletter email list, a Goodreads/Amazon author page, and a Soundcloud account (for my audiobook).

What was the strategy/planning behind your book launch? Where did you get your information and ideas?

I got my ideas two ways:

  • Reading self-publishing blogs, such as The Creative Penn.
  • Watching traditionally published authors’ marketing strategies very carefully and emulating what I could afford to.

What activities did you undertake to launch your book?

I’ve actually run a 4-part series on this topic on my blog, titled “So You’ve Decided to Self-Publish“.

The first and most critical step is to have a great blurb and cover art in place (not to mention a well-edited book!).

The second step was to lock in early readers, so the early reviews on Goodreads/Amazon were well-thought. Then I gave them 2-3 months to read and/or endorse the book.

The third step was building buzz for my book (I pulled quotes from my book and created pinnables, did vlogs, lined up blog tour, etc).

The final step involved the actual launch–sticking to a firm launch date, getting the CreateSpace softcovers loaded, and giving myself a little wiggle room while formatting for different uploads (Smashwords is different than Kindle, etc). This stage also involves book giveaways on blogs, Goodreads, etc. And the marketing at this stage goes on endlessly.

How long did that take? How difficult was it?

My novel, God’s Daughter, released November 1, 2013. I was marketing for at least 2 months ahead of that to build buzz, then I did about 39 guest posts for the blog tour over the course of 2-3 months, and I honestly haven’t stopped marketing since.
I knew I had to give over 100% to get the word out on my debut novel, or I’d be invisible in a sea of Amazon books. I tried not to cross the line into spamming territory (scheduled tweets, etc), but I was an aggressive marketer. I actually enjoy marketing.

I think the key to marketing is believing, at your core, that your novel is worth reading and sharing. I was passionate about this novel because I believed people don’t know enough about this period of Viking exploration and they like to ignore the fact that some Vikings were documented Christians. Also, women played a huge and undeniable role in Viking society, as my main character historically sailed with all three husbands…and with one to North America, no less! I also strongly believe we need more CBA books with married main characters readers can relate to, not just dating characters.

How successful was the launch (and how do you define success)?

In my mind, it was quite successful, because it exceeded my expectations (though I try to keep my expectations low!). God’s Daughterhit three bestselling lists on launch day, as well as the Hot New Release lists. It stayed on those for about a week or two. It has stayed on the Amazon Norse/Icelandic Bestseller list for seven months now. I think creating buzz around release day had a lot to do with it. Not to mention God’s blessing!

The book continues to reach people and garner reviews, and was recently picked up to be sold at the Royal BC Museum Vikings exhibit. There is now an audiobook version of God’s Daughter on Audible.com (narrated by my crit partner, Becky Doughty, of Bravehearts Audio). So I feel the book will continue to expand its reach.

But the real definition of success is finding readers who are hungry for this novel and find it unforgettable. That just revives my little author heart and makes me want to keep bringing books to them.

I saw you used NetGalley to get book reviews. What made you decide to use NetGalley?

How NetGalley work for you? Would you use it again? Did it represent value for money? Would you recommend it to other indie authors?

I would not do it again the same way I did. I paid for a monthly slot, but it was with a publishing house that primarily sells romance. Therefore, I think the readers came into it thinking my book was romance (it is not categorized that way, since the main character is married, although I would call it a love story). Not onlydid I receive very few reviews from that, the reviews I received weren’t stellar, as I think it hit the entirely wrong demographic.

I found the most effective strategies for garnering reviews were:

  • Tracking down every book reviewer I could find who reviewed historicals and offering an ebook in exchange for honest review (time consuming!).
  • Doing a Kindle Freebie of the book, which necessitated pulling it from Barnes and Noble (Smashwords) and going with Kindle Select. This garnered some reviews from non-demographic readers, but it also reached many soon-to-be-loyal readers I couldn’t reach otherwise.

Miranda Warning

What will you repeat for your upcoming book launch? What will you change?

Great question! This time around, I’m not focusing so heavily on author endorsements. For my debut novel, I wanted as many as possible to prove I wasn’t a complete unknown quantity. But I’ve asked my Facebook fans about this, and most say they rarely, if ever, read endorsements, unless it’s an unknown author. I do have a couple so far, which I’m so thankful for, but that is not my focus this time.

I’m also not lining up such a strenuous blog tour. I’m pretty wiped out, having gone basically nonstop from about June 2013. When my mystery, Miranda Warning, releases June 20th this year, I am hoping I can pull back from marketing somewhat. That said, I don’t truly believe books will just sell themselves. As an author, you need to stay on top of your sales (which is sadly impossible for traditionally published authors), and tweak your marketing strategies to fit your numbers. This is a true benefit of being an indie author. I can implement marketing ideas and see immediately if they’re working or not. I’ve definitely had some hits and misses!

And I’m starting out with only a softcover version and Kindle version of this book, so I’m going with Kindle Select, versus trying to upload to Smashwords (Barnes & Noble) as well. I love having control over my freebie/discount dates.

What advice would you give to other authors about to launch their book?

My best advice (primarily for indie authors) is don’t rush the launch process. I love having a firm launch date, but I try to set it late enough so that I give my early readers time to read and so I can make sure my cover art/formatting is in place.

For traditionally published authors, I would say be as involved in the marketing process as you can be. I know your hands are tied on scheduling freebies/discounts on your books, but you can build your Facebook page, pin pics of your book topic, etc. I know many traditionally published authors are doing marketing work, outside the publicity firms.

To be perfectly honest, I think one author, 100% dedicated to getting the word out on his/her book, can be as effective as a publicity firm. We might not be able to afford expensive electronic gadgets as giveaway gifts, but we can keep the pedal to the metal and be relentless in our marketing. And I believe that’s what it takes. A publicity firm only works on one book a limited amount of time. As an author, you can promote your book at any time. This is something I’ve definitely learned from being an independent author.

Thank you so much for having me, Iola! What wonderful questions, and I hope this interview encourages many authors out there!

About HeatherHeather Day Gilbert

HEATHER DAY GILBERT enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Seventeen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.

You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert–Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her Viking novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Audible.com. Her Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning, will release June 20th.