Why some folks are ruining the Indie pub market!

Wrong, wrong, just so wrong!

Wrong, wrong, just so wrong!

One of the well known montras for savvy authors in the Indie publishing world is to avoid shouting out “Buy my book!  Please, buy my book!”  Just ask Jonathan Gunson at Best Seller Labs.   Yet, the goal of course is to sell as many books as you can.   Learning the tricks of the marketing trade isn’t easy.   As egotistical as many writers are, sometimes their biggest failure is in promotion.   Here’s a great post on that exact subject from Martin Crosbie, a contributor to Indies Unlimited. Gone are the days when the big six publishers market you.   Not to mention small Indie press.

You might sign with a publisher, have them order ten thousand copies of your book only to have those books returned to you at cost because they did not sell.   Your ten thousand dollar book advance, now in arrears.  It happens.  Everyday.   Why do you think shops like Books a Million and Half Priced Books exist?   It is called returns. 

One of the advantages of being Indie pub’d and print on demand, POD is that your books aren’t returned en masse.   In the next week, AgeView Press will host a guest blogger, author and publisher Amanda Thrasher who is an expert in navigating the slippery slope of Indie Press.    What exactly is the relationship between CreateSpace, Amazon, Lightning Source and Ingram.   Who is in bed with whom?   How does it all work?

There is a new game in town.   Small press cooperatives.   Within these cooperatives are authors just like you.  Looking to get that edge.  Sure, it is an ego booster to say that you have your own Indie press:  i.e. you self pubbed your books and now are owner of “xyz books.”   But just take a look on Goodreads and Amazon.  There are over one million books Indie pressed each year.  Each year!  The competition is daunting.  

Not everyone is going to be an EL James or Amanda Hocking.   There is strength in numbers.   Don’t contribute to watering down the industry with onesy and twosy “Indie” Presses that you own yourself.    Shop around.  Find a small press that offers you what you want.   Better yet, form a cooperative with several authors yourself.   But buyer beware, the latest rip off are the fees that some of these small presses charge you to participate.    There have been scalpings for sure.  

Do your homework.  Check them out.   Find out what is required on your part.   Explore what bang you get for your buck.   Ultimately, you will find that with faithful social media, blogging, and a small budget for advertising the sky is the limit.   So tell us, what is your biggest struggle with shameless self promotion?  Do you have a marketing secret?  Please share it below.   We won’t tell.

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How you too can be a successful break out writer!

About a year ago, at the Lexicon Writer’s Conference I ran into a team of new writers. Buck Steinke and Ken Farmer. Immediately I was drawn to their ecclectic personality and antics. Their display table looked awesome. They were gregariously out there mingling and meeting. They were on the ticket to lecture to a packed room. They were on fire.

But how? How did two retired gentlemen who only published their first book a little over a year ago, become so popular so fast? It was something I wanted to find out. I found it was no secret. You’ve heard it before. They established a brand. Their brand and boy was it working.  The Black Eagle Force series.

Ken Farmer and Buck Steinke

Establishing their brand

Buck and Ken write in two genres, military fiction and action adventure. When they are out there, they are events that align with their brand . . gun shows, cowboy days, Indian events, military association gatherings, Western wear stores. Anything and everything that promotes their genre, their brand and thus . . .their books. It isn’t magic, its sound business sense.

Now, sure . . . they are retired and have time to do it. And they do it full time. But don’t go there, as a writer you can do it too.  However, they have another secret too. They have more than one book out there. They took the time to make sure they produced a second book, and then . . . a third, and a fourth. It is this type of succession that keeps their brand out there and keeps people wanting more. Most readers, if they like one book, will purchase a second from the same author.

So, really, it’s more than just successful branding and marketing. It is writing. We’ve all heard of the one hit wonder. As a writer, you do not want to be that. The proof is in the pudding. . . your second book.

 

There are some great lessons here:
1. Know your reader and your genre
2. Know what events are out there that match your reader and genre
3. Get booked into those events
4. Don’t be afraid to establish yourself as a character, an action hero, a cowboy, a philanthropist, a diva!
5. Get your calendar out and plot out which events will make you shine
6. Develop your marketing plan, start it, and keep the momentum going
7. Promote others that write well and guess what? They might just promote you.
6. Keep your keyboard and computer warm and running . . . keep writing!

Buck Steinke and Ken Farmer have become good friends and colleagues. I continue to be amazed to watch their brand grow successfully. They selected their genre carefully and have kept it narrow. As such, their novels have gotten onto Amazon’s top sales lists. Go take a peek for yourself.

Buck Steinke and Ken Farmer

Buck Steinke and Ken Farmer

The Nations
The Black Eagle Force seriesIf you get the chance, register and attend one of the most amazing, really helpful, networking conferences goign on in DFW – The Lexicon Writer’s Conference. What you will get there is a chance to network with writers who will promote you.  The founder’s philosophy is simply this:   “Would you rather hear someone saying ‘buy my book, buy my book’ or instead hear ten other people telling ten others to get this great book.”

At Lexicon you will hear talks on marketing, branding, social media knowhow.   You’ll meet publishers, agents, and successfull writers.  You’ll get a great bang for your buck and actually get a chance to meet these guys in person! I guarantee you’ll walk away motivated.   Don’t miss your chance to sign up.   Click here.

Ghost writers in the sky – do they exist?

Have you ever wondered why someone might need a ghost writer? It makes sense for the celebs that can’t put two words together. But why would someone else need one? Enjoy this guest post written by one to find out. Who knows, it could enhance your skills.  Enjoy!!

THE BUSINESS OF BEING A GHOST WRITER

by Karen Cole

It can be hard to write repeatedly about being a ghost writer, as I have already written something like a hundred pieces on this topic alone. But I find my job as a professional ghost writer to be fresh and new every time. Being a ghost writer is a lot like being a car mechanic – you’re on hire to work on someone else’s “baby,” and you do the best you can to get it in good running and working order. You fix whatever you find to be wrong with it, and you send it back to the owner in great shape.

I have been ghost writing and editing on the Internet since 2003, and was freelance writing before then, since 1980 at least. I have published a magazine of my own called “The Crusader” and have been published in several newspapers and magazines, including online ones. It is my business to be published occasionally under my own name, but normally my best work is published under someone else’s name. I specialize in editing nowadays, being semi-retired as a ghost writer.

Part of the business of being a ghost writer is receiving payments properly. As a ghost writer, what with the book field being nearly glutted with books nowadays, receiving payment during the course of completing a book writing project is paramount. Of course, with proper book marketing a book can pull ahead of its competition and sell well nowadays, if its author goes to the trouble to properly market and promote it. So it’s still worthwhile to be a book author and to hire a ghost writer or editor and proper, affordable book marketing services.

I run a team of some 100 book, screenplay and music ghost writers, editors, marketers and promoters, as well as accompanying illustrators, photographers etc. These people get most of the incoming job leads, and I take a job occasionally that suits my fancy, in a manner to how Sherlock Holmes took jobs in those famous stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes never worked a job unless it “fascinated” him, and I only take what is lucrative, fresh and interesting to me personally.

But I can locate a great, affordable ghost writer or editor for nearly anyone who writes into our ghost writing services agency, and I can help take a book from the inception of its ideas to its completion as a published work, editing, formatting and doing all that it takes to come up with the finished salable product. Whether you hire my affordable professional services as a ghost writer or as the overseer of an entire ghost writing job, you are indeed hiring the best, every time.

AUTHOR’S RESOURCE BOX:

Ghost writer revealed!

Ghost writer revealed!

Hi, I’m Karen Cole, Executive Director and appointed Head of Ghost Writer, Inc. GWI is an affordable ghost writing services agency that seeks to find and hire a ghost writer, editor, marketer and/or promoter for your book, screenplay or music needs. We will find you an expert, published, recorded or optioned freelance writer for all your possible service needs, and we always charge only affordable rates.

Link up to Karen Cole here:     Facebook    Twitter  LinkedIn

How to get tagged, tweeted, and most of all read!

Hawk on perch

Hawk your book in the right places!

Many authors will tell you . . . “writing isn’t the hard part.  It’s the marketing.”    As the market continues to get flooded by everyone under the sun who has had a book in their head, it becomes evermore important for a writer to create their presence, their brand, their own way on social media.   The recommendation from the pros in the book industry is to find your niche.   It will be the perfect niche that will hook your writers.

Initially, it will be easy for you to find other authors.   In following them, and they in turn following you,  your presence will expand on social media.  However, it will quickly become apparent from the frequented #hashtags out there, that gaining a following of only other authors will not sell your books.   Your numbers will go up to be sure.   But unfortunately, not your sales.  Only your mates that are fellow authors might buy your book.   For you see, other authors are trying to sell their own books.  You must find readers.   But a good start is to build your brand by promotion of fellow authors.

In building up a colleagial relationship with fellow authors, you must promote their books.   Tweet them, blog them, facebook them.   Extol your fellow author’s talents.  In turn, if they are savvy about book marketing, they will return the favor and promote yours.   One such writers conference that encourages such efforts is Lexicon.   According to the philosophy here, readers would much rather hear another author promoting a strong book, as opposed to an author screeching “Buy my book.”  As such, it is important that you promote brands that match your own caliber of writing and style.   Promoting every wanna-be writer out there, one whose material isn’t quality will water down your brand.   Preview their work, surf their blog and webpage, then if you like what you see, promote away!

Here are two examples of successful Indie marketing journeys:

The first is a pair of writers, Buck Steinke and Ken Farmer.    Both have presence on social media.   Their niche?  #historicalfiction and #militaryfiction.  As such, in developing their marketing plan, they booked themselves into events which characterized the themes of their writing.   Some of their most successful sales have been gun shows, military gatherings and cowboy events.  In these events, they dress the part in character.   Set up a display with objects related to the theme.  They visit.  Greet.  And yes, even flirt.   The results?  Sales.  Sales.  Sales out the wazoo!    One of their books, The Nations is now in the top 50 books on Amazon in historical fiction.    Wow! The Nations - a historical fiction in Amazon's top 100 - Ken Farmer and Buck Steinke

A second example is even more grassroots.    Brinda Carey is a survivor of incest and domestic abuse.   Her book tells of that story.   Brinda who initially found it hard to talk about the subject, must less write about it, found comfort in sharing her story to help other women.  As such, she speaks at women’s shelters, public health forums, groups which attempt to prevent domestic violence.  Her tweets and blogs are directed at helping other women break free of the imprisonment of domestic violence and abuse.    She provides them comfort and strength.   It is through her public speaking appearances that she has sold over 1000 ebooks in the first year of publication for her debut memoir, Don’t Cry Daddy’sHere.

Don't Cry Daddy's Here book on Amazon

A must read for anyone dealing with abuse!

Finding a niche isn’t easy.    Sometimes it is hit or miss.   From what I have learned in seeing a work of my own, Flying Solo published this year, I can already see the mistakes I made initially, that could have boosted sales.    But no need to cry over spilt milk.   A historical fiction, well written has no expiration date.    One advantage of the genre to be sure.    Take your time, do your research.   Explore and experiment with several multi-tiered layers of marketing.    Be a hawk!   But most of all, don’t give up and keep on writing!   The world is waiting to read your words.

Unfriending, unfollowing, unsubscribing. . . what gives?

Tortoise with Tweet sign on shell

Slow and steady wins the race!

So you’re in writer’s marketing high gear.   You’ve set up your blog.  Tweeted and twittered.  Facebooked, liked, and followed.   You’ve read the marketing tips, blogs on social media success, tips on tweeting.   Smile on your face, you are surfing the social media maze.   Mail Chimp geared up, you’ve drafted a slick newsletter proclaiming your worthiness and upcoming events.    Poised, polished and ready to hit . . . . send.   Click.

And then BAM, your friend unfriended you.   Your follower unfollowed.  Your co-worker unsubscribed to your email blast.   What gives?   All that work.  All that energy.   How could they?  Why would they?  Why would they hurt your feelings so?

In a recent Forbes article, Eric Limer writes “Most of the time it’s due to offensive comments, or the fact that you were never real friends with people in the first place. But you can also get cut off for updating too frequently or too infrequently. If it makes you feel any better, “physical attractiveness” and “increasing friend count” rank 4 and 5 on the list of reasons to friend people in the first place, so you’re probably better off with fewer friends in that case.”  He goes on to list the following top six reasons that people unfriend, unfollow, and unsubscribe as:

1.  Offensive comments

2.  Don’t know you well

3.  You are trying to sell something

4.  You make depressing comments

5.  You don’t interact much with others

6.  You make political comments

Diana Adams, a social media blogger concurs.  In addition, she confirms that too much self promotion, obvious automation, being offensive, posting too many hashtags, and not driving real conversations are all doomsday for tweets.   Don’t be a used car salesman.   Sure, it takes about three or four points of contact before someone will make the connection and buy your book.   That is why follow-up is important.   Just don’t overdo it.   Pay it foward through promotion of others work as well.   A tweet or blurb about a book is always more powerful when it comes from someone other than you.    It’s more genuine.

So, it is essential that you create a blog, facebook page, and twitter page that present the brand and image that you want to show positively.   Keep your snide and downer comments in your personal diary.  Far, far away from your reading public.    As a writer, promo perky as you try to be; the rejection can be tough.    You put in hours of work and effort to have your neighbor down the street, click UN-     Harsh!

Balance your time with social media.   Don’t let it overwhelm you.    Writing is your gift.  Make sure you are giving it enough time.    Set a time limit for your social media and don’t let it drive you crazy!    Slap some Neosporin on your war wounds and just keep going.  Let the momentum build.   Slowly, but surely.  In the book marketing game, the tortoise wins the race.

Rollercoasters of praise and rejection, which one will you dare to ride?

Huge rollar coaster at Six Flags Texas

Ride the waves of your writing career!     Being a writer, is not unlike being a bipolor, manic-depressive.  Would you not agree?   One minute, you are full of emotion, supercharged with motivation, and typing away furiously on the computer with your latest story idea.   The next, you are staring at the computer wondering why no one has like your brilliant tweet or blog post.    Can you relate to this juxtaposition?

Many writing coaches and publishers will tell you, the writing is easy.  It is marketing yourself and your work that is the killer.   It is flat out exhausting.   Tweeting, facebooking, links, and hashtags.  Talk, talk, talking about your book to grocery store workers, women at the salon, book clubs, book signings, and book festivals.   Seemingly, there are not enough hours in the day.     This constant demand on your time can fuel the rollarcoaster of emotions.   You, like your public will find that you vassilate between self confidence and self-flaggelation.    You are not alone.

Recently, there was a presentation at the Lexicon Writer’s conference entitled, Marketing your business on a shoestring, by Julie Hall, owner of Custom Websites 2 Go.    She talked about the importance of getting the word out there constantly about your book, especially with the short attention spans of your potential buyers.    At some point, you might consider investing in a service that would help you automate your tweets and generate connections for  yourself.   If you are Twitter naive or Facebook naive, take a course.    Only you can make your facebook and blog postings personal.    But at some point you have to care for yourself too.    Research and invest on small business that specialize in promotion of writers.  Several have been mentioned in previous posts (Ralphs Designs and DeliAskthepublishingGuru; AuthorMedia).

In utilizing these specialized services, they can help extend the connections that will make an impact for your book and your sanity.   The hard part is patience.  It can take from three to six weeks for the results of your marketing to show.   Not every effort, or blog post, or tweet will “go viral.”    Don’t you secretly wish they would?   But stay the course.   Keep putting one foot in front of the other.    Pay it foward by supporting other authors.    Like pages you really like!   Retweet posts that mean something to you.   But be genuine!    Establish your voice and brand.   Don’t just “like” to “like.”    Make those followup phonecalls;  log those book signings and book festivals;  and keep on writing.

The waves of emotion come in whether your book or poem is praised or rejected.    You surf to Amazon hoping to see likes, wait on baited breath to see your book review,  or eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s after reading a not-so-positive review.    One minute you are being praised at a signing.  The next minute no one opened your mass email containing your book reviews.    It happens.

The biggest lesson, which is the hardest of all?    Don’t be afraid of the big coaster.    The journey up it can be terrifying, but the payoff for your efforts is a huge, exhilarating high at the end.

The social media maze: how to effectively get the bang for your book

ImageSo you’ve written your book, set up your blog, twittered your tweets.   But no one is coming.  Your book cover it hip, your tweets twangy, your blog boisterous.  But still no one is coming.   There is an art to social media.   The basics just won’t cut it.   An author this weekend at the Lexicon Writer’s conference was overheard to say,”I write books.  I just don’t do that whole social media thing.”   Jaws dropped in amazement.  Even in the big publishing houses, they publish your book, but you are the one who will have to market it. 

It literally takes 3 or 4 times of contacting your customers before they might order the book.  The average self published book sells only about 100 copies.   The main bulk of books published by the big whig houses only about 200.   If you are ever going to make that top seller list, you must embrace social media.    That doesn’t just mean ebooks.   There will always be biliophiles that love to turn a page, but you have to get out to them.  Their must be buzz about your book, or you are a mere spec of dust amongst books a million.   

Here are few helpful links.   If you want someone to do it for you, then hire the right service.  Once such service is Ralph’s Design and Deli, a social media site specifically targeted to authors.  They know what you need and why you need it.   Their services are ala carte.  You only pay for what you need.  

So you have started a few things own your own, you do-it-yourselfer you, except one problem;  they aren’t working!  No customers.  In that case, you will want to get a consultation from Author Media.   They will take a look at your website, your blog and what yo have done and either blow it up and start over or point you in the direction of some things you have missed. 

For the adamant go-it-own-your-own author, this is the best $99 you will spend.  The Publishing Guru, Jason Rutheford.   He will write you a review and blast it out to milliions of radio talk show, newspapers, book bloggers and publicists who will review your book and the world out there.

Another author, with a book not selling said, “well the last thing I want to do is network with other authors, they aren’t the ones that will buy my book.”  Maybe not, but that isn’t the point.  They will network with their followers who will.   Again, the messge here?  Pay it forward.  Join groups that will help shout out your work.  If they won’t, why are you a member.

Tid bit for the day, don’t give up.  If what you have been doing isn’t working, scrap that plan and make another.  Don’t just sit in a dark corner and think, I have written it, they will come.   Not!!!