Authors Cathy A and Cathy T Wilson maintain an informative blog (related to their book series “Lions and Lilies” set in medieval England and France). They post about the historical background to their books. A good resource for their readers and a useful promotional tool.
On writing a series:
Writing in series is considered the way-to-go when it comes to romance. Romance readers are voracious! I attend the yearly RWA conferences and they often talk about the fact that some romance readers read 7-10 books a week! This means that when they find a set of characters or a world they enjoy, they want to keep reading.
As an author, it pays to have more books down the line to service this need. I was lucky to latch on to this pearl of wisdom while writing the first draft of Summer at Urchin's Bluff, so that allowed me to ensure there was scope to have a supporting character who will feature as the main character the next book, and so on for the following two books. I guess, in a way, writing in series is it's own form of promotion. Each book works to promote the next. Well, that's the plan anyhow!
My writing life:
I think like most of us, for me writing was always a hobby - something to get me out of my head when I was stressing about work or family or whatever. I've recently found myself with a little more time to write, and I'm loving it, but I'm yet to establish a routine around my writing. I've listened to podcasts and read books that say you should blank out some time each day to write (eg. 9 - noon). I should probably do that, but I'm loathe to, in case it sucks the fun out of it! I don't want it to feel like a chore, but I guess if I want to do this as a career, I might need to consider it. At the moment I write every day, but not at a specific time, or for a specified length of time.
Marketing and Promotion:
So, my plan with marketing is really to take it slow. I do plan to look at Facebook ads and Amazon ads (I have purchased the KDP Rocket software) for the promotion of Summer at Urchin's Bluff, but not in an extensive way. I figure once I have more books on my shelf, any money I invest in advertising will be that much more effective. I do plan to look at BookBub, but not for book one, or two for that matter. I know they're hard to get, so I might wait to start trying (maybe once all four books in the Seasons series are released). As far as social media goes, I'm only active on Facebook. I know it's better to be everywhere, but with kids and work, and the whole writing-the-books thing, I don't have the time to service a ton of social accounts. This is an area I need to become more confident in. Every time I'm about to post (even just on that one platform) I'm always thinking, 'is anyone going to care about this? Is it spamy?' (not a word, but you know what I mean). I do know that building a mailing list is super important, so I'm working on that but it's slow going. I'm okay with things taking a while to build. I want to be doing this in 20 years time, so being number 1 from day 1, with book 1 is not really my goal (I mean, I wouldn't be upset if it happened!). I guess what I'm saying is that everything I do around marketing and promotion, for me, needs to be about steadily building a readership.
Summer at Urchin's Bluff is a contemporary seasoned romance (seasoned is the term we use in the romance world for a heroine over 40). It is available for pre order now across most platforms.
Available from these outlets.
Presenting an informative and inspiring post from independent author Mala Naidoo:
Starting out as a writer was a romantic inclination, a desire to bring my writing dream to reality.
Little did I realise how important it is to create awareness that you exist, first as a person and then specifically as a writer. Later genre and style become recognisable to readers who are also feeling their way through the stories crafted by a new author.
Striking a balance between writing and marketing your books is paramount, if you want your books in the hands of readers through online or in store purchases.
Starting off with friends, colleagues and family is necessary. Your supportive core, in your writing career, will always be vital for feedback on all your books.
Some of the ways to create awareness and promote your books
is by extending your readership.
How do we do this, let us count the ways.
- Promote your books in your local community, book stores, libraries and book clubs. Offer and accept speaking engagements at book club meetings, school talks and at your local library.
- Talk about your book covers and what they mean, the visual impact - colours, placement of images etc. This has value in eliciting interest.
Cover Design: WorkingType (www.workingtype.com.au)
- Hosting a book launch when your first book is out, attracts curiosity, interest and gets attention. An afternoon tea with light refreshments is a winner to draw a wider crowd. Friends and colleagues are excited for you and offer to assist on the day. As introverts, as most writers are, (we lock ourselves in solitude for days on end) it’s not easy to solicit assistance and market your books - but it’s an essential requirement. The after effects of a book launch are book leads - requests for more books and where they might be available.
- Befriend, online or in person local independent bookstores in your town or city, and through friends in other cities to get your book online and in stores, then encourage readers to purchase your books through these channels. This helps to get your print book into stores, maybe not on the same shelf as Stephen King or Lianne Moriarty, but it gets a space, a tangible space.
- Create a website to reach your readers through blog posts, and newsletters, invite readers in to take up your free offers, create fun giveaways for your subscribers. A simple fact file on a character your readers love is all you need to spur on their interest to read more of your books. It’s an ongoing, strategic process.
- Join online author associations to promote your books or at the very least to create awareness that you exist as a writer.
- Facebook ads are a great way to create awareness and invite the purchase of your book or sign ups to your newsletter. A permanent Facebook Ad for sign ups is necessary when you begin promoting your books, website, and blog.
- When you have a new book out, launch it through Facebook and AMS ads, send out friendly newsletter or messenger communication to your contacts telling them about your new book.
- Don’t overkill the advertising, do it tastefully to keep readers coming back for more.
- Online interactions with influencers of the craft, attending book fairs, writers’ festivals, listening to podcasts and attending webinars are great ways to connect with like-minded creatives, to extend the promotion of your books. Be selective in your choices because it’s easy to drown in a sea of algorithmic advice!
- Create awareness of all your books on Facebook (pin to top), Twitter,(pinned tweet) Instagram (create a cover story, add updated information related to your writing journey). Pinterest (pins that showcase your books with links) Google+, your website and blogposts.
At first I was awkward talking about my books. Fear held me back. Now I have a little story to tell: One day a lovely hairdresser probed into my silent, private world, I managed to slip in, amidst the heat and whirring of hairdryers, a quick biographical sketch, whispering that I was a writer too. Curiosity grew in the hairdressing salon from that whispered revelation as ladies, and the odd gentleman wanted to know more about my books. Having your latest book at the ready is a loaded gun for promotion, as is having an author business card, especially at the places like the hairdresser!
Writing is a process, just as marketing and creating awareness of your latest publication is. Both need equal attention. It’s a balance I continue to work on.
Happy reading, happy writing, happy creating!
A thoughtful and in-depth examination of how authors are not getting the best results from their digital presence. The writer explains why the interests of authors and publishers do not always align, and how a new generation of author-centric services are being created.
Author M.G. Ryan uses the large banner above for promotional events. She says "it looks great and draws a lot of attention. When I have the second banner made up, they will look awesome next to each other." Her latest book "To Dawn" (sequel to "From Dusk") will be released with the assistance of In-House Publishing.
The Author Earnings website has worked hard at 'scraping' data from Amazon's various sites to provide unprecedented detail on sales data. As Amazon now represents close to a majority of print titles sold, knowing what is being sold and by whom is very interesting indeed. The data shows that independent authors represent a large and rapidly growing fraction of book sales on Amazon. There is also ample evidence that having a book listed on the Amazon bestseller lists provides a substantial boost to non-listed titles from the same author. Overall, Author Earnings claim that they identified over 9,000 authors earning more than USD $10,000 per year, and half of that number were earning over USD $20,000 per year. Read the whole report, which goes into much greater detail.
Books+Publishing are looking for books to be published from June onwards, originating in Australia or New Zealand. Please send your printed proofs by Tuesday 1 March directly to the following address:
PO Box 6509
St Kilda Road Central VIC 8008
As well as appearing online at www.booksandpublishing.com.au, these reviews will feature in their monthly Books+Publishing Reviews and Junior newsletters. Of course, there are no guarantees that a particular title will be reviewed!
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
I love social media and it has worked well for me. There are so many options though, so my best advice is pick one or two social media platforms and then do them really well. I use Facebook and Twitter only.
Facebook – I have a personal Facebook account but I keep this for family and friends and a few colleagues that I have connected with. Off to the side of my personal account, I have a business/ author page which I post on daily. Because I write self- help books, I post quotes and tips, wellness information that I hope will encourage people to take action towards having a better day. To me, it is fantastic a way to instantly connect with people and it also reflects the way I write.
I have used Facebook adds as a way of selling books, and I have had good results. If you are not familiar with marketing using Facebook advertising, the guidelines are strict and you need to be mindful on how to do it well to make it work. It is trial and error and maybe that is another post down the track if anyone wants to know more about that as a way to market their books.
You can actually connect your Facebook page to Twitter and when you post on Facebook, it automatically reposts it on Twitter- killing 2 birds with one stone (no pun intended!!!). Twitter is a phenomenal way to connect with the world. I once connected with two amazing coaches in London via Twitter and I sent them a copy of my first book. When they received it, they took a photo of it and then shared the photo and some information about my book with all of their followers. It definitely generated interest in my work and resulted in an increase in sales.
Here is another way to look at Twitter. If you follow someone on Twitter, they automatically receive notification via email that you are following them. It is a perfect way to connect and introduce yourself to all sorts of amazing people who might want to follow you, connect with you and even share your work.
When my first book was released, I had a publicist that actually got me a few radio interviews and a couple of good reviews in magazines. For my latest book, I have no publicist. I am my own publicist!
I wrote my own press release and sent a copy of my latest book to a few media publications. So far, I have had a few radio interviews, a great full page write up in a newspaper magazine and it is early days. I have only just started doing this.
I don’t have any real influential media connections so this method is a bit hit and miss for me, but I have nothing to lose. I think if you want to really get your work out there, be fearless. What is the worst thing that can happen? They don’t respond? Take a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Send review copies to journalists in your local paper or any papers and magazines for that matter. There is a great website called Sourcebottle and it is a free online service that connects journalists with sources so if you sign up, you get daily emails of upcoming opportunities to quote or feature in stories. I have found a couple of great opportunities via this website to promote myself and my books.
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.
When authors set up accounts at Createspace/Amazon for print on demand or via Kindle for ebooks, they are confronted with a request for their BIC code. This is a unique identifier code used for international money transfers, and is also known as a swiftcode. To look up the BIC for your bank, go here.