Category Archives: Marketing

6 Nifty Resources No Indi Author Can Do Without

To paraphrase a famous frog, “It’s not easy being indie.”

Actually, it’s not easy being any kind of writer/author, self-published or traditionally published, but wearing the many hats in every Indie wardrobe–author, marketer, social media manager, designer, newsletter editor … did I miss any?–presents special challenges. We’re talking about the kind of challenges that either drive you to drink, force you to beat your head against the wall, or have you tossing up your hands in defeat.

We can all use a little ….

help-153094_960_720

Am I right? Of course I am. Which is why, I’m here to offer some in the form of 6 nifty resources no Indie should do without. (Purple headers = links, of course.)

Bublish

How would you feel about a tool that lets you write formatted e-books, market those books in a unique way, build your brand, connect with fans, and track reader engagement? This is no fantasy people, this is the reality of Bublish, which lets you do all of the above and a whole lot more. You can try out some of the features via the free plan or all of them via free trial, but I’m sure you’ll want the full-fledged Authropreneur package for either $9.99/month or $99/year.

Bublish is based on the book bubble, a unique and oh-so-posh marketing strategy that lets you send out an excerpt of your book via Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail. Here’s what your basic book bubble looks like:

Screenshot 2016-05-18 13.19.59

Slick, no? Seriously, what’s not to love? Save yourself a lot of time and effort designing go-nowhere ads, and give Bublish a try.

World Literary Cafe

Whoever said you get what you pay for obviously didn’t know about World Literary Cafe, which you can sign up for, as we say in the trade, absolutely free. Billed as the place “Where authors and readers unite,” WLC offers more bennies than you can shake your proverbial indie stick at. Check out these amazing resources:

  • training classes (some free, some for a fee)
  • a free book-marketing video
  • a Facebook like exchange
  • a Twitter follow exchange
  • a blog follow exchange
  • tweet teams
  • a free author toolbox
  • tips on how to maximize your free days on KDP
  • more, more, more!

Listen, you’d have to be brain dead to miss out on all these goodies!

Canva

Did you know social media content with colored visuals gets 80% more views? Hoo-hah! Is that a valuable tip, or what? And here’s another: You can create eye-catching social media posts for free using Canva. Well, for free unless you decide to use one of their paid graphics, but even those are one $1 each. The templates–Facebook post, Twitter post, Pinterest graphic, and so on–have already been created. All you have to do is point and click!

Oh, and if you’re looking to create a header of some kind, Canva has got you covered there, as well. You can even create your own templates, say, a specifically sized header to use on your website!

Hootsuite

Although some of your social media posts should be organic–marketing speak for posted in real time–you can make life a lot easier on yourself by scheduling other posts ahead of time on Hootsuite, which works for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, WordPress, Instagram, and YouTube! And get this, you can schedule them weeks in advance!

Conventional wisdom has it that you should post:

  • no more than twice a day on Facebook
  • three times per day (at most) on Google+
  • at least three times a day on Twitter (although followers tend to lose interest after the third tweet)
  • once a day on LinkedIn

Obviously, being able to schedule at least a few of those posts ahead of time will leave you more time to do what you do best: write.

Font Squirrel

Looking for a safe place to download free and/or almost-free fonts? Font Squirrel has got your back! Plus, all their fonts are licensed for commercial use.

MailChimp

The e-mail lists is one of the best promotional tools out there, because it allows you to form personal relationships with your readers. We’re not talking about using your list purely to make sales pitches, but sharing personal news, your own book reviews, special subscriber-only offers, and such, in order to exponentially build your fan base. MailChimp is a terrific tool you can use to create a newsletter, the occasional targeted e-mail campaign–say, to announce a book launch–or a coupon. Membership is free (although you can upgrade), and they offer plenty of themes and templates you can edit to make your own. Built-in analytics track the size of your list and give you an idea how well your campaigns are doing.

Publish & Move On

My launch date (December 23) has no particular rhyme or reason. My marketing “campaign” will no doubt be sporadic, conducted according whim and wild hair. I won’t be tracking sales, will evince only mild interest in reviews.

So. I’ve either gone completely loony tunes, or I’ve found an approach–okay, a non-approach–that works for me. Or both.

Probably both.

I won’t sing “The Marketing Blues” again in this space. But I hope you’ll allow me to sing a few verses of “The Hallelujah, I’m Writing Again Chorus.”

I found the joy again. All I had to do was forget about earning any kind of a living, exorcise the numbers demon, and remember why I started writing in the first place: Because I love it. Because it’s what I do.

So, on December 23, I’ll publish Hunter’s Shadow, book 2 in my Golden State Hearts Trilogy. And then I’ll move on. Move on to the sequel to Amanda’s Eyes. Move on to book 3 in the trilogy, Not Far Enough. Hunter’s poor shadow will have to navigate that cold, cruel self-publishing world without much help or attention from me. (Unless I get hit on the head and forget how much I hate marketing and how joyless it leaves me as an author.)

Any living to be earned will spring from Social Security, such as it is, and my pension, such as it is. (Not to mention the occasional freelance gig on motorcycle tool kits, National Prime Rib Day, or drug testing in Idaho.)

“Why publish at all if you don’t want to make money?”

Well, I wouldn’t mind making money, of course. And in the (so far) unlikely event money happens, just let me say, the party’s on me.

I publish, because that’s what you do with a book. I publish, because not publishing strikes me as a cop out. I publish, because if even one person reads my books, my characters have come alive for someone besides me. I publish, because you just never know.

So, bon voyage, Hunter’s Shadow.

I’m moving on.

P.S. That link thing, up there? Where I linked to my books? That’s what you call on-a-whim, why-not, wild-hair marketing. In case you were wondering.

Growing Up Indie Part IX: Crickets

Honesty comes hard today, but when I started this series, I committed to telling my indie publishing experience like it is—even if I wind up feeling like a dork in the process. Which I often do. Take this post, for example. Dork factor of at least 10.  Is that going to stop me?  Heck, no. Because I have a mantra:  There are no mistakes; this is a learning experience. There are no mistakes; this is a learning experience. (Breathe deeply and repeat until you get past the urge to devour massive quantities of Dove chocolate.)

book signing sceneYes, today’s topic is book signings.  As an indie author with no agent, I arrange my own. Two under my belt so far. And, as much as it pains me to fess up, I’m going to tell you about them and the lessons they taught me.

My first rodeo (this is Texas, after all) kicked off at the local library. “It’s NaNoWriMo night,” they said. “The group says they really want to talk to you,” they said. “You should get a good response,” they said. And, librarians being some of the nicest people I know, I believed them.

I arrived 15 minutes early to set up my table. Covered it with a fashionable tablecloth, made sure my book was stylishly (and prominently) displayed on an elegant stand. Heck, I even offered a door prize! Also the above-mentioned Dove chocolate. (All of which I did wind up eating, by the way, albeit not in one sitting.) Then I sat me down, smiled me sweetest author smile—a smile darned near as delectable as the Dove—and waited. In my defense, let me say I never expected droves of admiring fans. I did expect (or at least, hope for) a few.  In the end, I got one. The rest of the evening?

crickets3Yes, that’s a cricket. ‘Nuff said? God, I hope so.

Still, I told myself the evening wasn’t a total loss. For one thing, I learned librarians are optimists. I also figured out your basic, small-town library isn’t the most happening place on a Wednesday evening. I got a copy of my book onto their shelves. Finally, and possibly most important, I found out Killin’ Jim Miller really did assassinate 51 men.

Book signing #2, scheduled at a wildly popular local coffee house, looked a lot more promising. “The place will be packed,” they said. “You should get a great response,” they said. And, because the fellow I talked to sounded so enthusiastic, I believed him.

BUT, for added insurance, I came up with this absolutely brilliant marketing idea:  Purchase a book, get a free gift bag. Brightly colored tissue paper included. Could Christmas shopping get any easier? I ask you.

So last night, I lugged my traps up to the house of Java. And, brother, it was packed! Granted, my table was about the size of a deck of playing cards, but I am nothing, if not resourceful. Got set up, smiled my smile, and mentally rubbed my hands together. Avast, maties! Author’s ship off the port bow!

Unfortunately, my ship stayed off the port bow.  Waaaaay off the port bow.  Besides two pity visits—”Oh, did you write this book?  What’s it about?  Gee, that’s swell.”—nobody shopped … or even made eye contact. Well, except for that one lady, who stopped in to buy two books. Because, you know, she happens to be a friend of mine.

I sat there from 4-6 last night. Longest. Two. Hours. Of. My. Life.  (Not counting childbirth.)  But I stuck it out on principle. I will admit, though, by the time six o’clock crawled around, my smile was somewhat worse for wear.

fake-smile-229x300Again, I learned.  Librarians aren’t the only ones with rosy expectations, coffee hours guys have them, too. And college students studying for finals (in between hookups) don’t stop to buy books. I got to donate a book to the coffee house library. Finally, I now know where to get possibly the best and biggest cup of hot chocolate in the known universe.

Today, as I munch leftover Reece’s Peanut Butter Bells, I ponder the signing scheduled for next week. I remember how they promised me a big crowd and snort, “Yeah, I’ve heard that line before.” I anticipate another two hours wearing that clothespin smile. I wonder if I can come down with a convenient case of beriberi and save my hips from the blowout caused by a third leftover candy stache.

Mostly I wonder if I should be doing signings at all. Are book signings only worth it for authors with established names? Or are they a necessary, painful paying of dues on the way to establishing a name?

I love meeting readers, even if they don’t read my books. I love talking to fellow authors, especially if they, like me, are aspiring. I love introducing them to resources like World Literary Cafe that will help them on their way.

But who wants to sit at a table, feeling (and smiling) like a dork?

All I can say at this point is, the jury is still out on book signings. I’ll let you know the verdict, right after I recover from my acute beriberi.

Meanwhile …. Candy, anyone?