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.

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Encore: as an author are you a peacock, a mockingbird, or a hawk?

peacock spreading tail

All show and no substance?

As an author, think about this question.   Are you a peacock, a mockingbird, or a hawk?  You might be asking yourself what birds could possibly have to do with being a writer?   But let’s take a closer look at all three.  See if you can identify with some of these characteristics, because their are more similarities than you might imagine.   Bet you will be surprised.

Peacocks are pretty, to be sure.   Colorful, flamboyant, and decorative.   But even though they are showy, if you look closely at the feathers of their brilliantly, vibrant tail; there is not much substance there.    Peacocks fan out their tales to be noticed.   At first, it is impressive.  Then you realize that underneath all that show,  is nothing but air.    Is your writing all showy?   Are you writing darkness and gloom because of the popularity and success of Twilight or Amanda Hocking?   Are you running raggard to attend every literary event?  Facebooking and twittering all over social media without anything real to say?  Or are you writing what you are good at writing?  Great stories with substance.   Tales that have a beginning, middle, and end.   Characters that have depth.  Locations and plots that have been researched and carefully plotted out.    Good covers are great, but it is the quality of the pages inside that count and will make people come back for more.

Mockingbirds, on the other hand, never stop squawking.  They twitter, and tweet a variety of chirpy tunes.   Short, loud, bursts in every possible call song.  Never sticking to one, just repeating what ever else they have heard around them.   If you listen to them, it becomes apparent  they are trying to attract attention from every angle.    From anyone who will listen.  First this tune, and then that.   Frustrated and fragmented that no one is paying them heed.    So, they change tunes, mimicking some other melody.  Some new authors know they want to write, but can’t find their own voice.   They chirp from this to that, trying to find their niche.   Slow down.   Find your true voice.   Then, sing it to the rooftops joyfully as your own brand.   Your unique author platform.    And stick to it.

Hawk sizing up a mockingbird
Sizing up meaningful tweets and twitters.

Now, consider the hawk.   Eyes on the prize.    Quiet and still as he calculates just the right moment to seize and capture.    The hawk sizes up the situation, calculates the risks, and strikes to take action.    At first glance, he may appear to just blend in, but on careful inspection, you will notice this intricate, exsquisite patterns woven within his feathers.   All aligned and symmetrical in attractive patterns.   Breast full of sustance with dynamic, sharp looking wings.  Proud, confident, and sure of who he is,  no need for overt showy-ness.   The hawk takes his time, hons his skills, and strikes with near 100 percent accuracy when ready.    Isn’t this the writer we all want to be?    Savvy about the business, sharp in our craft,  eyes on the prize, confident and patient, but fearlessly ready to strike when the moment is just right.     On some days, you may feel as an author that you vasilate between all three.    But try to stay focused.   Educate and train yourself on the literary world.    When you are ready,  be a hawk!

This post was originally published in July 2012, but was so popular, it was brought back.   Favorite post of the year by stats. 

Facebook. . as an author your friend or foe?

Facebook logo in words

Friend or Foe?

This post may rattle some cages, but that’s okay.   Controversy oft makes for good journalism.   Facebook, the hugely successful, social media platform can be an author’s friend or foe.   There are many advantages to utilizing Facebook as an author.    Mainly, it gives you a free platform to post a fan page, a small Indie press page, even individual pages for your book.    Free is great.   Electronic exposure even better.   But you have to understand Facebook’s limitations.   Unlike Twitter, not everything you post is going to be available to all of your friends at the same time.    In fact, some of your “friends” may never see your posts at all.

Despite how public or private you make it, Facebook randomly determines which “friends” it thinks should see your material.   Example, you may have close to 500 friends or fans, but not all of your posts will populate their newsfeeds.    You can customize your newsfeeds, in order that your material is seen frequently by key people posted, but many folks on facebook do not take the time to choose these preferences.   The Harvard Business Review posted an interesting article on this fact.

Another drawback of Facebook is legitimacy.   Anyone can post almost anything on Facebook.   It’s validity, however, may not be guaranteed.   Prime example recently?   The Morgan Freeman death hoax.    Many received notice via Facebook newsfeeds that Morgan Freeman had died of an abdominal aortic anuerysm on Sept 6th.  Within minutes, like rampant wildfire,  Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts.  There even was a RIP Morgan Freeman page on which thousands posted memorials, retweeted, and reposted on Facebook.  Interestingly enough, despite Morgan Freeman’s publicists’ staunch and very public denials that he was alive and well, this rumor persisted for more than seven days!     Yet, no major news outlet was reporting the story.

Point?   Many people rely on Facebook as their official report of news.  They don’t bother to check out their sources before reposting like wildfire on the gossip grapevine.    Reliable news sources simply were not verified.   Folks were just keen to “share” the juicy gossip.   Thus, the danger of facebook.    Not one of these people who tweeted and fb’d bothered to check a real news source prior to hitting “share” or “like.”    The problem with that?   Rampant gossip without validation of fact.    Wendy Bauder, a columnist for the Independent Voice warns that frivolous facebookers will end up eating a lot of crow.

How does that harm you as an author?    Another case in point,  the Lend Ink debacle.   Lend Ink was a legitimate lending site.   But when a few fearful and uninformed facebookers grabbed hold  accusing them of piracy of their ebooks,  Lend Ink was dismanted within days.  Many were  guilty of not checking their facts.   As backfire, bloggers launched an counter assault.   Many authors as a result, negative reviews that cannot ever be removed were posted on author’s Amazon and Goodreads pages.

The same wildfire inflation occurs with mutual author “like” pages.    Authors go down a list and randomly “like” everyone’s Amazon, Facebook, and website pages.    As an author, you are working to establish your brand.  By randomly “liking” each book posted on these pages,  you are watering down your brand and word.    Be careful!!  Only “like” books which you are sure are well written.    Also, only “like” books which are in line with your brand.    A woman’s Christian fiction writer certainly wouldn’t want to be “liking” a sadistic slasher novel.   You get the idea.

The concern with all of this?    Superficiality.    Authors should indeed support authors.   As small Indie press authors, you could be at risk to water down the Indie press brand.    Only back quality!    But remember, first and foremost, your buying public are readers.

Make sure you are spending your time wisely on Facebook, doing what you can to research and find means to reach and grab the fleeting attention of your readers.    Book clubs,  genre specific events.    Unusual places to do book signings.   That is where your time would be well spent.   In the end, that genuine word of mouth pathway will make all the difference in the success of marketing your book.

Humility and the high road for Indie Authors

FLYING SOLO in the window at Barnes and NobleShock and disbelief are the two verbs that resonate related to the “angry mob mentality” that has characterized the recent LendInk debacle.   It illustrates how the exponential power on the internet placed into the hands of a crazed set can be turned spiteful.   Two bloggers,  one an Indie author herself,  recently blamed the dismanting of LendInk, a questionable book lending agency, on Indie Authors.   Soley, on Indie Authors.   Yet, many of the authors who complained about the fact that they were not informed of about their books being lent on this site were in fact published in the traditional fashion.

Myths and mayhem ensued;   including libelous comments and infantile name calling.    The community of authors, whether self published, Indie published (and there is a difference) or traditionally published should ignore this blatant, angry rant.   Unfortunately, when the livlihood of their sales is threatened, as is in the recent blog post by A.B.DADA that is hard to do.

Any author knows the painstaking work they applied to their material.   Their book is their baby.  Cherished and held in a hopeful regard that a reader will find it interesting.   How cruel, for a few bloggers to slam and threaten Indie authors as a whole by posting on their blogs how they intend to post bad reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, put pictures of writers books on their blogs and recommend not to buy them.   There have already been such postings.

Here is my attempt to take the high road.    All the facts need to be on the table.   Authors were crying out to the owner and manager of LendInk and other such sites to come clean about their business practices, inform authors how they were able to obtain the books.   Some bloggers quoted the FAQ section of Amazon Kindle (KDP) Select and Amazon Prime.     These electronic sections give very little explanation to exactly what is considered a “lend.”    Is a “lend” from one KDP user to the next?  A one time thing?

It appears for many authors, me included, that was our understanding.   If misinformed, we quickly got the facts.    When royalties are so scant on ebook formats, sure the hair is raised on any author’s back when hearing about a site possibly lending books without permission.    Most were horrified.    Despite the valiant efforts of some bloggers to explain the “lend” phenomenon, it is still not clear.

What is clear, is that  higher road must be taken.   I sincerely apologize if I was misinformed.   What I sought was answers.  Concrete explanations from the owners of these sites.    If I was wrong, I am the first to admit it.    Do Indie authors as a group deserve to labeled an angry mob?   “Ax wielding, #ssholes?”   A resounding “NO!”    Just FYI, slander is of the spoken word in a public forum,  libel is degradation in a written domain.     Blogs that have slammed and childishly called Indie authors by name degrading adjectives are committing libel.

Stop.  Just stop.   Let’s work together as a cohesive and worthy force.   For none other reason than to bring together delight in a reader’s eyes at your written word.    Take a deep breath.   Pause.   Hug a fellow writer.    Let’s better understand copyright, and lending policies.   There are some good people and great writer’s out there.

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!!!

Top five social media links you don’t want to miss!

Wagon full of social media logos facebook twitter youtube

Is your bandwagon full?

Just when you think you are hitting the wall, BAM!   A great networking site proves to be gold.   The World Literary Cafe, both their website and especially their group facebook page  are just platinum!    This site is for authors who are genuinely supporting authors.  There are plenty of sites that say they support authors, but come to find out the TLC comes with a  $$ price.    The synergistic networking that takes place immediately on signing up at World Literary Cafe just cannot be beat.

Traffic to my website AgeView Press, blog, twitter and facebook accounts increased exponetially in a week!    Thanks guys!    You really rock.   In surfing to the World Literary Cafe FB you will find discussions happening live with answers to many common issues within Indie Publishing.   There is a force moving!   The Indie world started as a ground swell, but expect it to surge to tsunami status.

Here are the Top Five Social Media links for today that you don’t want to miss!

1.   World Literary Cafe     Super discussions.  Author links.  Book reviews.   Fab networking gold!  Slogan?  #sharethelove4authors

2.  Reviewer Roundup on Facebook       Great place to find a jumping off point for your virtual book tour.

3.  Kobo     Now accepting Indie published ebooks with a 70% royalty!

4.   The Bookseller.com    This is an article published just recently.  Evidence of the movement.  AM Heath  now supporting Indie authors!!

And the top link of the day which made the day worthwhile?

5.  The Online Converter         A way to convert your books and other files to epub for FREE!  That’s right.  FREE!

Enjoy and thank you for visiting.   Please share and link this page for your fellow writers and friends.   Don’t forget to follow on Goodreads !