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Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs | 9 September 2017

Best of the Blogs: the best posts of the week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

Writing

Point of View

One of my personal bugbears when reading (and editing) is novels which headhop. In this excellent post, Most Common Writing Mistakes: Head-Hopping POV KM Weiland explains why headhopping is a bad idea … and how it’s often a symptom of a bigger problem:

it’s also a sign the entire narrative—all the way down to the structural foundation of the plot—lacks focus.

Publishing

Kristine Kathryn Rusch discusses Rip Van Winkle Syndrome among writers—a summary of how the business of publishing has changed in the last decade. Anyone who hasn’t kept up might feel like Rip Van Winkle did after waking from his twenty-year sleep.

Marketing

Cover Design

Emilie Hendryx visits Novel Rocket to share 3 Ways Your Cover Sells Your Novel. I have to agree: people do judge books by their cover. There is a new release I keep seeing promoted on blogs and social media. I know from the title and blurb it’s supposed to be historical fiction with a romantic element. Maybe I’m the only one, but the cover image reminds me of Cruella de Vil … not my idea of a romantic heroine. No, I’m not going to share the name or author.

Amazon Ads

David Gaughran shares 9 Ways to Improve AMS – Amazon Ads for Authors. It’s a combination of instruction on how to use Amazon ads, and how Amazon could make their advertising more user-friendly i.e. encourage advertisers to spend more money by providing clearer information on how to get a positive ROI.

I don’t have any books for sale on Amazon, so my experience of Amazon ads is solely as a potential Kindle book buyer. Almost all the books I check out are Christian fiction, so I’d expect the advertised books to be Christian fiction—or at the most edgy, fiction written by Christian authors for the general market. But that’s not the case, and I guess we can thank EL James and Christian Grey for that. I wonder if these authors realise they are wasting their time and money?

Sharing to Social Media

Buffer have an excellent post on What to Post to Each Social Media Platform (Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter). You can post to five of these six using a free Buffer account, or to all six using a basic paid Awesome account (my choice). Anyway, check out the post. Or click here to find out more about how I use Buffer.

Website Maintenance

If you have a WordPress website (and you should), you need to keep it maintained (voice of experience here). Shannon Mattern explains how in How to Maintain Your Website.

If you want to set up your own WordPress website and don’t know where to start, I recommend Shannon’s free Five Day Website Challenge. It’s how I developed this site, and www.iolagoulton.com. Click here to find out more.

What’s the best blog post you’ve read this week?

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?

 

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs: 13 May 2017

Best of the Blogs: the best posts I’ve read this week on writing, publishing, and marketing. Lots of marketing!

Writing

Stephanie Dees visits Seekerville to talk about critique partners, and shares her tips for finding a great partner (or group).

Publishing

Tim Grahl has published a length post on the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. It’s comprehensive, but there is one thing missing: vanity publishing aka co-operative publishing, partnership publishing, subsidy publishing and even traditional publishing.

I recently met an author who was talking about her published book. She said the publisher was a traditional publisher … but later said she’d paid the publisher $10,000. Sorry, but that’s not traditional publishing. It’s all the cons of traditional publishing with none of the pros. And all the cons of self-publishing with none of the pros.

Children’s Fiction

Publishers Weekly report growth in the religious children’s books market, including young adult novels (a genre Christian fiction has yet to crack).

Marketing

Amazon Also Boughts

Two linked posts from David Gaughran, author of Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible (if you’re self-published or planning to self-publish, you should read both—you can buy them from Amazon using the above links, and they’re currently showing as $2.49 each for me. There are also audio versions available, if you prefer to listen).

Please Don’t Buy My Book explains the mysteries of the Amazon Also Boughts, and why it might not be a good idea to ask your friends and family to buy your book.

The second post, Who’s Pointing at You?, goes into more detail about Also Boughts and introduces a clever tool called Yasiv (www.yasiv.com) which shows which books on Amazon are pointing towards your book.

His point is that having a famous book show up in your Also Boughts is nice, but doesn’t do anything for your sales. The important thing for sales of your book is for your book to show up in the Also Boughts of a book with high visibility.

Gaughran also promises a future post on finding your Ideal Reader and using that information to hack Amazon advertising. I’ll be watching out for it …

Amazon Keywords

An in-depth post from Penny Sansevieri at Author Marketing Experts on how to research the best keywords for your book … which might mean thinking outside the box (excuse the cliché).

Craft or Platform?

It’s one of the conundrums of writing. Which is more important—craft or platform? Dan Blank of WeGrowMedia attempts to answer the question: craft comes first.

I agree.

But nor can we ignore platform. If we want to publish (whether traditionally or self-published) and be read, we need to identify our target audience or ideal reader. Dan gives some useful questions to answer, saying if we can’t answer them, we have work to do:

1. “Someone who would love my book (or creative work) already loves theses three books: ____, ____, and ____.”
2. “My ideal reader loves this person: ______ and reads everything they write, would see them speak in a heartbeat, and really respects their opinion.”
3. “Where to find my ideal reader? This conference or event: ________, and this online blog/community: ___________.”
4. “What resonates with my ideal reader? What gets them to stop and take notice? This: ________.”
5. “What repels my reader? What gets them fired up? This: _________.”

Christian Fiction

The internet is full of posts announcing the end of bookstores or paperback books or ebooks or … the list goes on.

This post questions the doom-mongers: Christian Fiction: Heading Towards Extinction? Or Adapting to a New Market?

Even better, it suggests how readers can help ensure Christian fiction doesn’t become extinct.

 

What do you think? Is Christian fiction dying? Or is it reinventing itself to be more relevant to modern reader?

Book Review: Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books begins by explaining the intricacies of the Amazon algorithms (the computer programmes that dictates lists such as the bestseller lists, as well as what each individual customer sees on screen). He explains both what they algorithms are (as best anyone outside Amazon can know) and why understanding the algorithms is important.

He then moves on to an analysis of pricing, including a comparison of free and paid, with a focus on using free and discounted pricing as promotional tools. This all makes sense—because he’s explained the underlying algorithms that drive Amazon. He’s focusing on how the system works, and how you can then work within the system to drive results.

The book then moves on to the best sites for advertising, designing a promotion, and designing a book launch (for which he provides three options, as well as convincing evidence—based on the algorithms—of why the ‘traditional’ launch strategy no longer works).

Some key lessons are the importance of centring marketing around a mailing list you control (rather than, say, a Facebook Fan page), inserting a link to the mailing list signup form at the end of each book, and asking for reviews (with a link to the Amazon book page).

Following Gaughran’s advice will ensure you and your book look professional and are able to compete in the highly competitive market that is Amazon. The book is aimed at self-publishers, but small publishers will also benefit from the information.

Highly recommended.

Book Review: Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran


I’m inclined to like Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should a lot because David Gaughran has a lot of nice things to say about editors, especially about how important they are for the self-published author:

Editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing world.

and

Writers shouldn’t consider editing an expense; they should consider it an investment.

Leaving aside my obvious bias, there is a lot of good information in Let’s Get Digital, including a concise history of the rise of ebooks and the impact Amazon has has on publishing, as well as an excellent section on resources. He covers why he believes authors should self-publish, then moves on to writing, cover design, editing, formatting, uploading and pricing, as well as a whole range of marketing tools (such as websites, blogging, social media, reviews and promotion).

One of Gaughran’s early points is how quickly the publishing industry is changing, and his own book illustrates the fact. While it was all accurate information at the time it was published, it isn’t any longer. Let’s Get Digital talks about the Big Six (now the Big Five), Agency pricing (gone, courtesy of the US Department of Justice), and talks about the surcharge Amazon used to place on Kindle downloads (which no longer applies in Australia and New Zealand, and I don’t know if it still applies in other countries).

Let’s Get Digital includes a lot of excellent information, including interviews with 33 self-published authors. However, I would advise caution, as some of the content is outdated. Read it as a background to his follow-up book, Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books, but realise that not all of the information and advice in Let’s Get Digital is current.