An interesting view from 30,000 feet of the challlenges confronting and opportunities available to independent authors, as posted at The Verge. They have spoken to a few successful authors and author advocates and provide several useful links. One of the best is here with a real trove of resources and advice, especially regarding predatory vanity publisher outfits.
Born and bred in the bush, nineteen-year-old Daryl Bishop's number came up in the tenth National Service Ballot in 1969, and he shipped out to Vietnam in 1971. Killing Babies is his unvarnished account of his training and war experiences. Fortunately, no babies were harmed in the making of his book, but the stigma and after-effects of serving in that unpopular war is honestly related. Published by Sid Harta, and written in an authentic, engaging and very Australian voice. Our cover features Darryl's own necklace of cartridges, jungle foliage and a helicopter used by both US and Australian forces. The title typeface is Eveleth.
At Blogging.com, an interesting deep dive into using images in websites and blog posts, with a focus on the ethical use of creative commons images. The post goes into considerable detail on attribution, modification and sources for free or low cost images. As the page notes, including images in a blog post dramatically improves audience reach.
If you are one of those independent authors to whom selling does not come easily, you might want to consider a publicist. Local publicist Phillip Anderson offers reasonably priced six week campaigns. Such campaigns typically feature the following:
- Author interviews and reviews in relevant newspapers
- Author interviews with key online news sources
- Book reviews across national and regional newspapers and online publications
- National and local author radio interviews (where possible)
Phillip can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Before engaging in such campaigns, authors will need to get their ducks in a row:
- Make sure their books are easily available in the areas reached by the publicity
- Ensure that they have spare stock in case sales go well (though this does not apply to print on demand and ebook sales online)
- Rehearse the points they want to get across in interviews, the key selling strengths of their book, the so-called 'elevator pitch'. And have some kind of idea of potential customers and what kind of angles might appeal to them
These might seem obvious points, but we have seen a remarkable number of authors who weren't really across any of them before initiating publicity efforts. Remember: bookstores will be much better disposed to independent authors who are making a clear and sustained effort to promote their work.
Writing effective emails can be difficult. Not everyone is a natural marketing guru. Goodemailcopy.com has a small collection of pithy emails from web based services to potential, existing and past customers. Some use humour, some are blunt, others cute, but few of them waste any words.
From Bookmachine, a useful checklist of must-do items for authors looking to enhance their digital presence:
* A robust author website to anchor an author’s complete digital presence and act as the central hub and source of authoritative information on everything about the author, her books, her work, and life
* Complete author and book information at book cataloging and community sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing, as well as at all online retailers (especially an Amazon Author Central page)
* Google+ to signal to Google who an author is, what she writes about, and all of the things connected to her
* The right social media mix, which can vary — and evolve — depending on the author, the type of books she writes, and the interests and demographics of her audiences
* Mechanisms to collect, manage, and effectively use email addresses
* Ongoing efforts to maintain accuracy and relevance across all of these
* Effective cross-promotion (across titles and authors)
Some prime online exposure for Soozey Johnstone, author of "I Am the Problem" (designed by WorkingType). Soozey discusses gender, leadership and career paths at Mamamia. An excellent example of an author enhancing her brand through 'thought leadership'.
Guest Post by Jo Ettles
Public speaking and networking
I often speak at events both big and small. Some events are local and some of late have been interstate. This is an amazing way to get your books and your message out into the world. It takes a lot of energy to do this though so I tend to really only participate in events and networking opportunities where I know there will be genuine interest in my work. For obvious reasons, if you are asked to speak at an event to showcase your book, make sure it is a good fit!
Invest in a good website. Create a beautiful website or blog and sell signed copies of your books from it. My website is actually a Wordpress blog combined with website design. I am lucky my husband is trained in this area so I can add and subtract information at any time. I post articles to my blog, I sell my books from my blog, I recommend other authors books from my blog and I also obviously promote my other services.
Your book is important and your website/blog should capture the essence of your work as well as who you are so invest some time and energy into this platform.
Recently, my publisher went into receivership. This was a devastating blow for not only me but also around 200 other authors, editors and talented designers. It would have been very easy to just call it quits but I decided that quitting would have been too easy.
My thing is to write short, easy to read books that will inspire people to make positive life changes instantly. That desire has been so strong that I am now starting my third book. Imagine if I let my first publisher take that dream away from me through their miss management?
I was lucky enough to get picked up by another publisher recently and so the journey to get my work out into the world continues.
Here is the thing though...
If you believe you can, you are halfway there. There are always going to be challenges, obstructions and hurdles that will set you back. If success was easy, well then everyone would be successful!
Henry Rollins said, “You must do what others don’t to achieve what others won’t”. For that reason I am relentless when it comes to marketing my books. I make the time every-day to find a way to reach another reader, to connect with another person who may want to hear my message or share it with someone else.
If you have created a beautiful book that you are proud of, take steps every day to get it out into the world. Think outside the square, take action and be consistent. Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.
Guest Post by Jo Ettles, author.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you right? I had no idea when I wrote my first book in 2012 that it would be such a challenging experience in more ways than one. Ever the eternal optimist, I do believe self-belief is a huge part of achieving success. BUT it also takes real work, determination, dedication and commitment to marketing yourself and your books continuously to make it in such a competitive world.
I have a strong background in marketing and it is second nature for me to recognise that you need to actively market yourself as an author and promote your work consistently. You know that old line from the movie — Field of Dreams — “If you build it, they will come”?
Well, it may have worked for Kevin Costner, but if you take that approach, your amazing book might never reach anyone.
I recently connected with some gifted authors who have released incredible books. Each and every one of them wanted to know how to improve their marketing and share their work. Here is some of the information that has helped me get both of my books out into the world.
I think everyone needs to have a professional headshot for their author profile. It is amazing how people respond to a professionally taken image as opposed to one that was just taken randomly at a party or family dinner! Present a professional image to the world and invest in a decent author photo.
When it comes to writing your bio, keep it short and sweet but always write from the heart. Readers want to really connect with you. Be uniquely you.
Goodreads is a phenomenal way to get your books seen all over the world. Create an author profile and list your books as soon as you can. Goodreads runs a giveaway competition for readers. I normally giveaway 3 signed copies of my books every few months and it generates a lot of interest in my work. I highly recommend it.
There is a section where readers can review your work and also give it a star rating. Try not to take it too personally if a review isn’t as great as you had hoped. Not everyone will get your message or your writing but don’t let that stop you from moving forward.
I recently had a review of one of my books and the reader said, that it had motivated her to clean up but I had rehashed a lot of self-help stuff that was already out there and generally, my book would only appeal to an Australian audience. At first, I got my back up! In my book “The Shed” I share a very personal story so it is definitely not rehashed. After a couple of wasted hours trying to make sense of her opinion, I just accepted that my work is not for everyone and if I was going to continue writing, I had to respect everyone’s opinion and take it on board. The following day, I saw a post on the internet by an American man. He had recommended my book on a reader’s forum saying it was full of good ideas and it was a very decent entry into the self- help genre. Balance restored!
See Post 2 for more promotional suggestions from Jo.
Deborah Benson recently wrote "Judicial Murder — the Crown VS David Young", published under the Eaglehawk Press imprint. Here is her account of a recent promotional trip to the Goulburn Valley.
My book has been welcomed in the Goulburn Valley book shops and newsagencies. Helen Sofra from Collins Bookstore in Shepparton suggested we arrange to visit to speak about DY’s story.
Jan Hutton the Project Manager of the Goulburn Valley Libraries went into action and had 3 venues organised, complete with media releases for each town. But before we began, we had an interview with the Shepparton News for the weekend edition. I say ‘we’ as my husband Chris shared the experience with me and during the course of the talk he read the hanging scene in his articulate expressive manner, resulting in numerous watery eyes in the room.
Numurkah library was our first appearance and the turnout of keen listeners was wonderful. Historical crime seems to be of interest and captures our imagination especially in the country areas where there is still a feeling of remoteness and a connection with the environment.
Our next engagement was in Nagambie again with an interested crowd of people and lastly at Shepparton. All venues supplied a good home made spread of delectable cakes and slices.
The fact that people were excited to actually meet an author said something about the way writers are removed from the general public who are their potential readers. Writers nowadays have to wear several hats to become known. A very enjoyable warming experience while sharing a story that has been waiting 150 years to be told.
Author Natalie Gretton recovered from the recent bankruptcy of her publisher by holding a very successful book launch. Here is her account of the event:
My young adult medieval adventure novel was due for release five weeks after the publisher went into liquidation. After negotiation with the printers, I purchased the 1500 copies of The Healer of Marchmont. Neither my husband Mike of I had much idea of how to market the book to sell so listened to anyone who had advice for us.
I was offered our local Neighbourhood Centre to have a book launch and chose a date some weeks from that. Flyers went out to the whole town and outlying areas of Trentham through the postal service advertising the launch using the cover of the book, part of the blurb and a little about me. I also placed books in the local Trentham bookstore, Aesop’s Attic in Kyneton, New Leaves bookshop in Woodend, Stoneman’s Bookroom in Castlemaine and Paradise Books in Daylesford. These are on a commission basis. Friends were contacted by email, on Facebook, through my new website set up by my IT guru son, and word of mouth. A visit by friends who live in Canberra was good, because they took a box of 64 books back with them to sell for me. At present there are 5 books in Harry Hartog book shop in Woden, Canberra and more are being advertised by the friends. Other people took 10 books and sold those as well.
The book launch went very well. The day was lovely, sunny, still and warm. People came from many different places and were old and new friends we have known for short times and long times. We had some local people attend as well. Fifty people were here altogether. Some people had bought the book earlier and came to give comments about it or to get it signed for their children and grandchildren. Diane Parsons, a local retired secondary school teacher launched the book for me and after that, a critique was given by Charlie Wells. Charlie’s mother is the manager at the Trentham Neighbourhood Centre and had asked Charlie to read the book. His comments were very interesting and insightful for a ten year old young man. All the comments we had on the day and in emails since have been very positive. The day of the launch we sold $500 worth of books which did not include more that were sold prior to the launch.
There are still very many books to sell but at least I have more than some other writers who were left in the lurch. I think I was more fortunate than some other writers as I now have my book in print. Others were left with nothing to show for all their hard work and will now have to negotiate with another publisher.
So with a bit of advice and some energetic emailing, phoning, flyer producing and a launch with a good afternoon, good friends, some lovely snacks and a few drinks, one can recover from what could have been a total disaster.
I must say here that Julie Athanasiou, my editor and Luke Harris, my designer, have been most helpful. Luke has been in contact regularly and is most supportive of everything I have done. Thank you, Luke.
Natalie's website can be found here.
Kids Book Review is an attractive and frequently updated Australian book review blog. Apart from thoughtful reviews, the site also features interviews with illustrators and authors. Due to the sheer volume of review requests, the volunteers who run the site will not review self-published work. The site also has an excellent list of writing awards and events, plus links to related blogs and services.
Bianca Ross' charming Herbert Peabody series (typesetting and layout by WorkingType Design) continues with Herbert Peabody and the Incredible Beehive. Authors would do very well to study Bianca's promotional activities as outlined on her Herbert Peabody-themed Facebook feed. Lots of media activity, plentiful, on-point posts, a feeling of positive, targeted activity. And it helps somewhat that the book itself is excellent with very good quality illustrations. Herbert's official website is worth investigating as well. And buy the book!
Some interesting thoughts from Anne Davies, author of Wrath, listed as a notable book in the Children's Book Council Awards. She touches on the school market and writing with boys and young men in mind.
If you are planning to sell your book at places other than bookstores, you might want to consider a portable display banner to attract attention. Lightweight, retractable banners are widely available and with designs printed in full colour at high resolution, they can be quite striking. Prices are low and preparation of artwork (a service offered by WorkingType) is usually similarly inexpensive. The banner shown below this post features "The Sunny Side of the Street" by Maria Stefanidis.