Home » marketing

Tag: marketing

Christian Authors Unite by Antonio L Crawford

Book Review: Christian Authors Unite: Challenging the Way Writers Write, Publish and Think

Christian Authors Unite is a compilation of articles on marketing for Christian authors. There are seven chapters by seven different authors. Each chapter covers points on a specific topic related to writing, publishing, and marketing Christian books. The chapters cover

  1. Building your author platform
  2. Targeting your market
  3. Keeping your writing on track
  4. Writing a book proposal
  5. Automating your author platform
  6. Launching your book
  7. Marketing your book internationally

It’s an eclectic mix of topics.

Topics like writing a book proposal are most relevant to those seeking traditional publication. (Those seeking to self-publish would do themselves a favour by knowing this information). Other topics seem more focused on the self-published author.

Antonio L Crawford comments that most writing conferences fail to offer current training about modern marketing techniques or distribution channels.

(I will say the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference is ahead of the curve in this! But there is another conference where I’ve never even seen the value in buying the session recordings, because so much of it seems to be focused on outdated publishing ideas.)

This is a short book, and isn’t going to give you all the answers about marketing your books.

But it will give you some ideas and inspiration, whether this is the first book you’ve read on marketing or the fiftieth. (I think my number is towards the higher end of that range.) No matter. I’m sure you’ll learn something—I did.

And yes, you will be challenged to think.

Thanks to Antonio L Crawford for providing a free ebook for review. You can read the introduction to Christian Authors Unite below:

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.

Marketing 101: Five Ways Not to Promote

I hope the last few posts have given you some ideas about how to determine and manage your author brand, how to ensure you have a quality product (book), and answered some questions about price, distribution and promotion.

Today’s post is taking a different slant. It’s focusing on mistakes I’ve seen newbie authors make (or ones I’ve heard about). It’s what not to do.

Don’t comment on reviews (better still, don’t read reviews)

Don’t comment on reviews on retailer sites (e.g. Amazon) or booklover sites (e.g. Goodreads). Ever.

Commenting on critical reviews can end in a flame war with the reviewer, and the author always comes off looking bad. Don’t comment about a critical review on the review, on your blog, on your website, on Twitter, on Facebook or on any other social network. And don’t allow your spouse, parent or child to comment either.

Commenting on positive reviews looks needy and stalkerish, even if it’s just a thank you. Think about it: are you going to thank every single reviewer? Even if you get more reviews than Karen Kingsbury? If you must thank the reviewer, see if they have an email address listed in their profile. If so, it’s perfectly acceptable to drop them a short email thanking them for their kind review.

If you truly think the review is inappropriate, then you can Report Abuse (on Amazon) or flag the review (on Goodreads) and say why the review is inappropriate according to the reviewing guidelines of that website. For example, on Amazon, reviews commenting on the price or the speed of delivery are inappropriate, so you can legitimately ask for them to be removed.

You can comment on a review on a blog, especially if your book has been reviewed as part of a blog tour, or after you’ve contacted the blog and requested a review. In this case, it’s polite to visit the blog, thank the blogger, and respond to comments. However, don’t challenge any aspect of the review, for the reasons outlined above.

Don’t vote on reviews

Some authors upvote positive reviews and downvote negative reviews (to hide them from the front page), or encourage their fans to vote like this through social media venues like Twitter or Facebook. Again, this behaviour looks needy and stalkerish and can have a huge backlash if you are found out (e.g. if someone screencaps your Tweets—and someone will). Besides, if the review is unfair, it will quickly drop out of sight. If it raises valid points, you don’t want to draw attention to it by voting one way or the other.

If someone has read your book, they have the right to express their opinion through a review (and if they got your book through a blogging programme, they are obliged to write a review, positive or not). The review is the subjective opinion of one person. Nothing more.

Don’t copy or quote from reviews

Reviews of your book are not yours. Reviews are copyright to the reviewer, who grants Amazon, Goodreads and other sites a royalty-free licence to publish that review. Copying whole reviews (or even just extracts from reviews) without written permission is a violation of copyright. (Copying an entire review, then rebutting it point-by-point on your website is violation of copyright and … words fail me. But I’ve seen it done.)

Don’t review your own books

Some authors review their own books under their own name. While that’s against the terms and conditions of almost every online site, it’s pretty obvious and readers will know to ignore it (but not before they’ve reported the review for abuse).

Don’t create fake accounts to review or rave about your books. If you do this on a website, you’ll probably get lucky and be let off with a warning from a moderator. If you are caught doing it on a site like Amazon, you run the risk of your account being deleted (meaning you won’t be able to buy, sell or review). All your fake reviews will also be deleted.

Don’t spam

Each website, forum and group defines spam differently. The general rule on social media is to mention your book no more than 20% of the time (even on your own Twitter account). In forums and groups, observe for a while, find out what the rules and expectations are for that particular forum, then follow them. If it’s ok to mention your book, then mention it where relevant. If it’s not … then don’t, because your post will be deleted, and you may be banned from the group.

Marketing 101: Promotion

When most people talk about marketing, what they’re actually meaning is promotion, specifically, advertising. We were raised in a time when promotion was a combination of radio, television and print advertising, perhaps supplemented by letterbox fliers (better known as junk mail). That’s how we found out about and were encouraged to try new products.

Large trade publishers still use some of these mechanisms, but they’re not viable options for most small press or self-published authors. And they ignore the rise of the internet and social networking. Social media, ereaders and print-on-demand technology, has forever changed the nature of publishing, as has the way publishers promote their product.

Unfortunately, the rise of the internet and the low cost of use has introduced new annoyances for consumers.

Spam

(Yes, that’s Monty Python’s enduring contribution to contemporary culture. Click on the link and watch the video if you’ve never seen it.)

So, how do consumers find out about new products in this internet society? The traditional methods of television and print still work, but are being supplemented by online advertising and social networking: Liking a brand on Facebook or Pinterest. But consumers are being overwhelmed by information, so how do you, as a producer, ensure the consumer finds out about your product?

Discovery

Discovery is the new buzzword. How do customers discover a new product? How do readers discovery you as an author? The internet is both part of the problem (spam) and part of the solution.

There is ongoing debate regarding the effectiveness of internet marketing. Does it provide a return on investment? What role do influencers play? (Do we even need influencers? Aren’t brand advocates more important?)

Research shows that 92% of people rely on recommendations from people they know, compared to 36% who rely on advertisements on social networks.

So in order to persuade people to buy your product (read your book), personal relationships are key. People are more likely to act on a recommendation from someone they know, whether they know that person in real life or only online (I’m a member of one online forum where I’m sure people share more information than they ever would in real life).

And when it comes to promotion and spreading the word about your book, it’s easier to get help from people you know. But how do you meet people? Connect online. Build a platform. Come to the next Omega conference. Dates haven’t been set, but if you live in Australia and start saving $10 a week now, it will be affordable (us Kiwis have to save a bit more). Make it a priority, because it’s an investment in your writing and it will introduce you to a network of Christians who want to see you succeed.

Personal relationships are important. They might not be traditional face-to-face relationships (or even old-fashioned pen-pals), but they are still relationships. This network of people who feel they know you are the people who can help promote your book. But where are these people and how do you find them? These people are your platform, and that’s the subject of next week’s post.

Marketing 101: Price

This article is part four in my series on marketing, following posts on planning, product and place.

What is the right price for a book?

If you are accepted for publication by a trade publisher, then they will set the recommended retail price for your book. The actual retailer may discount that price, so you need to understand whether your contract pays royalties based on RRP, or actual selling price.

Looking at the Christian novels on my bookshelf, most are priced at $12.99 (all prices in this post are quoted in US dollars unless stated otherwise), with some priced at $11.99, $14.99 or (rarely) $15.99. Category romances are less expensive – Barbour 4-in-1 novella collections are $7.99, and Love Inspired are $5.99.

Now, obviously, I’m based in New Zealand, so the retail price I pay for books includes shipping from the US. Most full-price novels are NZD 24.99, NZD 27.99 or NZD 29.99, with some small-press books priced slightly higher than this—which means they might miss out on my purchasing dollar because I perceive a NZD 33.95 book as ‘too expensive’ – especially when I consider the price of e-books.

Ebooks

I own both a Kindle and a Kobo, so can purchase and read e-books from all the major online sellers. New release Christian fiction generally retails for $8.99 to $9.99 on Amazon – or less than half the price of the ‘dead tree book’ at my local Christian bookshop. Some authors have pre-launch sales where the book might be available for as little as $2.99—a bargain.

Older Christian books by established authors often cheap as well—$3.99 and $4.99 are common prices (and the author may be getting a bigger royalty from that than from the full-price dead tree version). Kindle evangelist Joe Konrath (who reportedly makes $50,000 each month from Kindle sales) believes that the ebook pricing sweet spot is just $2.99. At this price he makes $2.04 off each sale, compared to $2.50 off the sale of a trade-published $25 hardcover or $0.75 off a trade paperback. David Gaughran makes similar points, pointing out that different strategies will lead to different price points (e.g. maximising readers vs. maximising profit).

Why is this important? If choose to take the self-published route, you need to understand what the market price is, and what your strategy is. If you are considering publisher through a small trade publisher, make sure their retail prices are competitive with the market.

Self-publishing

As a self-published author, you need to understand you have to charge less than this. Why? Because these tight economic times mean readers have less to spend, so they are more likely to spend their money on a known author—who will pay $17.99 for a book from an unknown author, when you can buy a bestseller from a well-known Christian author for less?

This is where the economies of scale and marketing presence of the trade publishers can have a positive effect. I might not know who Carrie Turansky is, but I can see that The Governess of Highland Hall is published by WaterBrook Multnomah, who publish a lot of excellent Christian fiction. On that basis, I am prepared to spend money on a book by Carrie Turansky. But I probably wouldn’t spend money on an unknown author from an unknown publisher without having had the book or the author recommended to me. Which brings me nicely to the subject of the next post … Promotion.

Book Review: 10 Keys to ebook Marketing Success by Karen Baney

10 Keys to Ebook Marketing Success delivers what is says on the cover: ten steps to kickstart your ebook marketing efforts. What sets this ahead of some of the other marketing books I’ve read is Baney’s professionalism. She is a professional, and she expects her readers to act in a professional manner. Other self-published authors would do well to emulate her.

The 10 Keys are:
Key 1 – A Good Book
Key 2 – Target Audience
Key 3 – Internet Presence
Key 4 – Pricing
Key 5 – Distribution
Key 6 – Book Reviews
Key 7 – Guest Blogging
Key 8 – Reader Communities
Key 9 – Social Media
Key 10 – Paid Advertising

I appreciate her insistence on the importance of good editing—that’s a lesson she’s learned the hard way—and her thoughts on defining your target audience (and genre) were clear and useful. Her pricing chapter is particularly good—not as thorough as Let’s Get Visible, but well-written and easy to understand.

On promotion, I personally think she tweets too often, and too much of it is promotion, but she saw a 47% increase in sales through her tweets, and that’s hard to argue with (although I wonder if attitudes and results may have changed since she wrote this).

The one thing I don’t understand is her comment about her contemporary novel, Nickels. She says it hasn’t done nearly as well as her historical novels, which I find strange. I’ve read them all, and I enjoyed Nickels far more than the historicals (two of which featured rape scenes, which I don’t enjoy).

Overall, 10 Keys to Ebook Marketing Success is a quick and easy read that will provide new authors with a simple marketing framework to use, and those who have read other marketing books may benefit from the book’s clear structure, and from having another point of view on subjects like pricing and promotion.

Book Review: How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

I’ve read quite a few books on marketing books on Amazon (or marketing books in general), and this is one of the best. Many books I don’t even get through the Kindle sample before finding something that’s outdated, unethical or just plain wrong. Of the ones that pass the sample test, many end up being little more than ‘how I did it’, with little understanding of the principles of marketing. Most concentrate purely on promotion, ignoring the other key aspects of marketing: having a marketing plan that guides decisions around product, place, price … and promotion.

Joanna Penn’s book is different. She begins by asking authors what they want to achieve, because it is only by understanding the desired end result that we can plan marketing activities that will achieve that goal (including the importance of good professional editing). She then discusses branding: the meaning of brand and the need for authors to display a consistent brand across all platforms.

She talks about short-term marketing tactics, and why authors should develop a long-term marketing platform, which includes discussions on topics such as websites, email marketing, content marketing, social networking, audio and podcasting, and the use of video. There are many ideas in here that I initially dismissed as not relevant, but that’s like an author saying they only read hardcover books so there’s no need to release an ebook. Just because I don’t listen to podcasts or watch video doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose in an integrated marketing plan—and maybe I should consider them as well.

How To Market A Book contains dozens of links to useful websites, and for this reason it’s probably best read on a tablet or PC, as the Kindle isn’t designed for surfing the internet. It would also be good read as a real book—I found I highlighted a lot more material in this than I usually highlight in an ebook, and I still could have highlighted more. Maybe I’ll have to buy the print version as well …

If you are looking for a book with five simple steps to launch your book and sell millions of copies, or three easy ways to gain 10,000 Twitter followers, this isn’t it. What Penn does show is a solid method for developing and maintaining a brand-driven platform that will support your individual business aims, whatever that is. Recommended.