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.
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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.
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.
Recently, a local publisher (Jo Jo Publishing) went into bankruptcy owing authors, printers and suppliers a great deal of money. The liquidators indicated the authors were free of any contractual obligations to the now-defunct company. Many of the authors published by Jo Jo wished to remove their books from Jo Jo-badged online listings (with Amazon in particular) so they could re-upload their titles with new ISBNs. As Jo Jo was now unstaffed, they had to take matters into their own hands. Amazon has a facility for authors in this kind of situation:
Amazon's requirements / contact details continue as follows:
- An electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright interest;
- A description of the copyrighted work that you claim has been infringed upon;
- A description of where the material that you claim is infringing is located on the site;
- Your address, telephone number, and e-mail address;
- A statement by you that you have a good-faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
- A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the above information in your notice is accurate and that you are the copyright owner or authorized to act on the copyright owner's behalf.
Amazon.com 's Copyright Agent for notice of claims of copyright infringement on its site can be reached as follows:
P.O. Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108-1226
Fax: (206) 266-7010