Showing posts with label " "The Frugal Book Promoter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label " "The Frugal Book Promoter. Show all posts

Why Authors Should Learn to Love Amazon’s Freebies



Learning to Love Amazon’s Freebies

 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Award-winning writer of fiction and poetry and
author of the multi award-winning 
#HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers



 

 

Even with a publicity background, I stepped in lots of mucky publicity potholes when my first novel was published. Here on the four phases of my disillusionment:

 

  • I thought that hiring a professional was the only way to go—after all I had once been a New York publicist! so it was only natural to suppose that, right?
  • When I realized that book promotion not only offered but that it pretty much demanded processes that were different from the PR I had done professionally, I thought I had to hire one. And due to my frugality, I hated that, but I did it anyway.
  • When I realized I didn’t have to spend money and reclaimed my independence, I fell into shooting publicity bullets at…well, if not really the wrong audience, then certainly not the audience that would buy the most books.
  • I was new at the self-publishing part of my writing life, so I believed the misinformation I was hearing from authors who were determined to avoid Amazon.

 

Of course, I was dead wrong on all accounts. Primarily because when we learn new rules, they always seem so didactic. They leave no middle ground. I had to learn the hard way from each of first three phases. Luckily, I learned quite quickly that if Amazon sells 60% of the world’s books, they couldn’t be all bad even though my author friends loved to hate it.

 

So, I am now an Amazon fan who chooses to skirt the parts that seem antagonistic to a writer’s goals or research them to find why Amazon does those things. Most often, I learn something new (and positive) from that search. It is worth the effort. It is, after all, a great place to find people who read.

 

My favorite Amazon tool is a free KDP feature that lets authors (or publishers) dress up their book’s buy pages with quotes and images. Find the one my publisher did for the third edition of the winningest book in my series for writers, The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. Self-publishers can do it, too, directly from their magical KDP bookshelf.

 

My second favorite is the profile page Amazon does for authors. It is w-a-ay underused by authors. When your readers use the “follow” icon on your profile page, Amazon pings all of those who followed with announcements of your newest book. The thing is, your readers need to know about the page even if they prefer not to be pestered with frequent emails. They will want to know about each of your new books! It’s free and it works. One of my mottoes is, “For a promotion to work you gotta promote the promotion.” So, here are some reasons to love profile pages and to get one for yourself:

 

  • If you’re self-published, you’re in charge of your own profile page. If you’re under contract to a publisher, you might have to ask them to do it, or give Amazon permission for you to do it for yourself.
  • It’s a great way to reach some of the readers you would otherwise never know about. Amazon never shares the names of people who have looked at your page or purchased your book, but they will share your book with those readers.
  • Amazon is a huge search engine where your book gets more exposure with the key words you or your publisher supplied when they installed your book on this wondrous online bookstore.
  • Every time you participate in one of Amazon’s features—that might be a review you post for your favorite books—your name links back to that page.
  • If you have a series, Amazon now offers a free series page where your new readers can order all the e-book versions of your books with one click. Amazon’s logarithms love that, too, and it helps with Amazon’s searches. (See the next bullet for more on their logarithms!) To see an example, go to mine at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTXQL27T
  • Every time you participate in any Amazon feature—like your profile page—Amazon’s logarithms get a little nudge. With enough nudges, you might be amazed at how much free promotion you’ll get—some of which you’ll never know about until the logarithm is so happy it makes it happen and a friend or reader tells you about it.

 

So take a look at how I installed and fancied my profile page up with a biography. I also importing all my self-published titles from my bookshelf at AuthorCentral bookshelf in addition to traditionally published ones. I made a short, memorable link (no gibberish or codes!) for it. Real words are more memorable—and better marketing—than a string of html. To get people to come (and help ping that logarithm), I put an invitation to follow me there in most of my email signatures. If you haven’t seen one, check mine at https://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile.

            

            One thing you should know: Rumor has it that Amazon claims to “own” any writing you post. In my The Frugal Book Promoter I explain that this is misinformation using a quotation directly from Amazon as proof. Authors still maintain rights to use the reviews or anything else they write and put on Amazon. (Amazon may use it, too, but they have never used anything of mine. If they ever should, I will cheer rather than gripe. And, yes, even try to find the person responsible to thank them for the great exposure!

 

MORE ABOUT THE BLOG CONTRIBUTOR


Carolyn Howard-Johnson tries to share something she hopes might save some author from embarrassment (or make the task of writing more fun or creative) with the subscribers and visitors to Karen Cioffi’s Writers on the Move blog each month.

She is the author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally. Series of books for writers including the third edition of its flagship book The Frugal Book Promoter and, more recently, the third edition of The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. Find both (among her others in that series) on the new Amazon Series page. The new edition of The Frugal Editor book has been fully updated including a new chapter on how backmatter can be extended to help readers and nudge book sales.

 

 

Forget Book Sales: Think Career Building

 It Isn't About Book Sales: It's About Career Building

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Adapted from the multi award-winning flagship book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of
books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter, Third Edition

In a writer's world sharing is sometimes as important as the creative aspect of building a book. The trouble is sharing—for many—translates into selling books. Of course, we all want to do that, but we tend to lose sight of the fact that we will eventually sell a whole lot more books and, in doing so, share with a whole lot more people, if we concentrate on building our careers. Indeed, for some authors with nonfiction books based on their businesses and professions, the whole purpose of the book is to increase credibility and exposure for themselves and careers. 

What many authors think of when they think of book sales is the kind of hardsell that most would rather eschew. When they decide to do it anyway because they know they should, they may skip learning something about marketing first and their efforts backfire on them. I have a motto: “Never say, buy my book.” Keep reading for better ways to market your book and yourself.

Here's the surprise. Marketing—marketing anything—isn't about selling. Marketing a book is about finding the people who will benefit and appreciate what the author has to share and then letting those people know how they will benefit (or avoid problems) by reading it.. And there is a lot of writing that goes along with it and that's what we do. And there is real pleasure in seeing our marketing efforts succeed and seeing our careers build as we do more of it and learn more about it. Here are some ideas of giving-sharing kinds of marketing from my Frugal Book Promoter. Each may be used as a part of a launch campaign or to nudge exposure for books that have been around a while.

§  Meet new readers by running a contest on your website, on Twitter, or in your newsletter. Use your books for prizes or get cross-promotion benefits by asking other authors to share their books; many will donate one to you in trade for the exposure. Watch the 99 Cent Stores for suitable favors to go with them.

Hint: Any promotion you do including a contest is more powerful when you call on your friends to tell their blog visitors or Facebook pals about it.

    Barter your books or your services for exposure on other authors’ websites. Other authors tend to understand your need to build your career and to sell your books. You'll make long lasting friends doing it.
   Offer classes in writing to your local high school, college, or library system. Students can become valued friends and fellow writers. Publicizing the classes is easy and free and helps build your author-name recognition. When appropriate, use your own book as suggested reading. Use your teaching experience in your media kit to show you have presentation skills.
 
   Send notes to your friends and readers asking them to recommend your book to others. Or offer them a perk like free shipping, gift wrap, or small gift if they purchase your book for a friend. That’s an ideal way to use those contact lists—the ones I show you how to build in The Frugal Book Promoter—and to let personal friends share in your exciting publishing adventure.
    Some of your reviews (both others’ reviews of your book and reviews you’ve written about others’ books) can be networking experiences. Read that word "networking" as "making friends who want to work with you." Check the guidelines for the free review service blog I started to help fellow authors extend the life of their favorite reviews. It's at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com.
 
   Connect and reconnect. Subscribe to new blogs and newsletters to get new ideas, new opinions. Start reading the ones you once subscribed to again. Join a writers’ group or organization related to the subject of your book. Offer to help them with guest articles and blogs. Enter their contests. Communicate on their forums.

    When you ship signed copies of your book, include a coupon for the purchase of another copy for a friend—signed and dedicated—or for one of your other books. Some distributors insert fliers or coupons into your books when they ship them for a small fee.

   Adjust the idea above to a cross-promotional effort with a friend who writes in the same genre as you. She puts a coupon for your book in her shipments; you do the same for her in yours.

    Be sure your Amazon buy pages amplify the effects of their logarithms and utilized the benefits they offer through AuthorCentral. 

    Explore the opportunities for speaking on cruise ships. Many have cut back on the number of speakers they use, but your area of expertise may be perfect for one of them. I tried it, but found ship politics a drawback. Still many authors like Allyn Evans who holds top honors in Toastmasters and Erica Miner have used these venues successfully. Do know, however, that you need a knockout platform including speaking credits.

    I call reviews forever-reviews because they hang around forever. And because they are forever useful even when a book that is aging. In fact, I think they are so important to your career that I wrote an entire book on how to get them, how to manage them on places like Amazon, and how to utilize them…well, forever. It is, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been promoting her own books and helping clients promote theirs for more than a decade. Her marketing plan for the second book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success won the Next Generation Millennium Award for Marketing. The just-released third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, published by Modern History Press, is New! Expanded! Updated! Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction books have been honored by the likes of Writer’s Digest, USA Book News Award, the Irwin award, Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards and more. Learn more about Carolyn and her books of fiction and poetry. Each of them helped her learn more about maximizing marketing efforts for different writers, different titles. Learn more at www.howtodoitfrugally.com


  

Help for Second Edition Blues


I sometimes run Q and A a la Ann Landers columns in my SharingwithWriters newsletter using questions that my clients ask me or that subscribers send to me. This is one of my favorites because involves two subjects that seem to interest authors most--Amazon sales and getting reviews.

QUESTION:

Do you lose your Amazon reviews when you publish a second edition of your book?

ANSWER:

You can get Amazon to post reviews from the first edition to the second through Author Connect. And you can get Amazon to put a referral widget from the first edition to the second. They tend to move this widget around, but it's always been near the top of the first edition buy page (though not as prominent as I'd like to see it!).

Please note: Amazon will not remove the first edition from their site.

But please don't buy the first edition! The second edition is expanded by at least 100 pages, updated, and, if I do say so, lots prettier! (-:

Do know that when Amazon does this they transfer all of the reviews from old edition to New; you can't pick and choose. So if something in the first edition has been criticized and you fixed it in the second edition, they won’t discard that earlier review. A recourse is to use the comment feature that is found at the end of each review to dispute the claim—maybe with a thank you to the reviewer for helping you correct that in the second edition. There are some other ways to help fix Review problems in the newest of the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Just an extra here: If you just update your old edition rather than publish a new one, you may be losing more marketing opportunities than you ever dreamed of. Of course, a second edition should have something new about the cover like the words second edition or a whole new cover and at least 10% new content.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free
publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews free. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . And, be sure to sign up for SharingwithWriters newsletter.

Sneak Peek in Next Book in the HowToDoItFrugally Series


Book Covers for Book Series Demand Extra, Loving Care
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning
HowToDoItFrugally series of book for writers

Considerations for covers for series aren’t really so different from any book except that an author and her cover artist must consider whether the elements can be sustained and there are several ways to do that with the cover.

One of the most sustainable elements of marketing a book series is the author’s name. New authors and artists without special training in book cover design often under emphasize their own name. I tell them to look at the books in the window of Hudson’s bookstores in airports. The authors’ names are huge. The authors’ names are sometimes gilt. The authors’ names are often embossed. That’s because (you’ve heard this before from me in my multi award-winning book, The Frugal Book Promoter), an author’s name is her true brand. Or soon will be. And an author planning a series is even more dependent on his or her own name for recognition and identification than most.

In addition to the size of the author’s name, authors of book series should consider repeating its position on the cover, using the same solid—very bright—color, that metallic look, embossing if the publisher can afford it, or all three.  The font should be repeated, too—preferably one that’s identifiable even if only subliminally.

Of course, it’s the overall look of the cover that interests most authors and that brings up genre. All the elements of all the covers in the series must evoke the genre. This is one time that being super-original may not be best for sales. The look must suggest to the reader exactly what he or she will find inside the book. Think Picault’s images for Danielle Steele’s books. They catapulted him to fame in the world of fine art. Internationally known Park West carries his originals and prints even after his death. We may not be able to name him on sight, but we know it’s his work when we see it and that when they appear on a book cover, they are Steele’s books.  To evoke a feeling of familiarity among readers usually means using the same artist on each of the books in a particular series—perhaps even across different series.

Note: Consider negotiating with your artist that he or she will do book cover art only for your series. This probably will require a renewable stipend for exclusivity, but it may be worth it.

These are all considerations for series written by nonfiction authors, as well. Notice the unique font/art developed by Chaz DeSimone (http://DeSimoneDesign) for my HowToDoItFrugally series. Those coins say something visually and they are memorable.

It’s not always possible to be that creative, though. Chaz said my frugal titles were like the perfect storm. Everything came together for inspiration. But that’s still possible, even without that once-in-a-career brainstorm. Consider the famous Dummy series. In addition to carrying through a specific, very bright contrasting color scheme (yellow and black).  These books also all place logo in the same place on every cover  (I plan to talk about logos later in this book to be published in 2018). Consistency in image placement is important, too. In the Dummy books, they use  realistic images-- usually actual photos or true-to-life illustrations.

The Dummy graphic designer knows that the font is still important. He or she uses two fonts in the titles and both have a kind of do-it-yourself character. “Dummies” is in every one and connotes a small child’s first approach to printing without using too-obvious backwards letters or mixed caps and lower case. The other part of the title very simply tells the reader what he or she will learn. Word. Home Buying Kit. Mortgages. And because it slants right in a sort of italic look and is black and white, it evokes a chalkboard and—once again—a new learner. These cover took a lot more thought than is at first apparent.

There are other tricks for books in series, too. The visual can be maintained throughout a series in a geometric shape—a circle, oval, triangle. By using blocks of color that repeat themselves. We mentioned overall color schemes in the analysis of Dummies.
Obviously much will depend on an author’s publishing situation. When an author is traditionally published he may have very little control over his covers or none at all. Still—if possible, he should let the designer know the genre, his preference for an artist or style, and that it will be a series. That means that he must work to work as a partner with the designer and the more he knows about covers, the better partner he will be.

Note: If your book lends itself to using a reproduction of a famous painting in the public domain, put that idea on your list to consider. It has been shown that these images increase how well a reader remembers the cover, title and content of a book.
One thing the author will usually have complete control over is the size (thickness or page number) of her books. If one is very fat and another very slim, much will be lost in terms of a cohesive brand.
As you can tell, I am big on using the author’s name as a major design element, but there are times when the emphasis may best be put on another element of the cover. Sometimes it’s hard for an author to be open to something different from their first concept. Many authors fear looking too commercial or are very shy and loathe the idea of making their name the main design element. Many authors have an artist they want to feature (a mother who does water colors or uncle who does killer charcoals). That would be nice and personal, but if it doesn’t fit the topic, they should be open to rearranging their demand. Beyond the basics, I believe in giving the most professional designer you or your publisher can afford full reign to allow her creativity to shine. Sometimes it’s easier to make suggestions and fine tune afterward, anyway.

After you and your designer have settled on the look of your cover, you want to carry the branding sensibility you’ve begun to the interior of your book. Many graphic designers can help you with that, too. And you’ll want to keep all of this branding you’ve done in mind for the entire marketing campaign. A prissy, wedding like launch party with canap├ęs doesn’t cut it for a series on caring for your car.

Note: If you are self-publishing and have decided to use a template like those provided by Createspace, be very careful to choose one with a structure that is most likely to be carried though for the entire series.

Those elements of your marketing campaign—Web site banners, the site itself, logos, business cards, bookmarks, signs for book fairs and on and on will become more apparent to you as you read the first
in my HowToDoItFrugally book series, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or partnering with your publisher (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo). If this is your first book in a series, your campaign will grow as your plan—even if you are one of those who maps out the campaign carefully. A good map, though, will help you avoid having to make too many corrections as you go. That is both smart and frugal.

Note: Before making your final decision, reread the chapter in the flagship for of my #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter. There you will find what you need for writing the copy for our book’s back cover like the mini biography, the oft-ignored (sadly!) second subtitle, and the pitch or mini synopsis. This may be an area that you are better at than your designer, though many graphic artists or cover designers who have lots of experience with books are also excellent copywriters and marketers. So do ask for advice and listen to the answers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article is destined to become part of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s fourth book in her multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers set for 2018. It will have a foreword written by her book designer Chaz DeSimone and the frugalish coin design of the How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews) where you will learn Carolyn’s secret to getting review from big journals by going through the back door and how to use reviews to access commercial catalogs.
first two will be carried forward to this book, too. Her newest book in the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers is

Learn more about Carolyn including her poetry and fiction at http://howtodoitfrugally.com where you can also see some cover designs for her series of poetry books that were courtesy of free templates offered by Createspace.com.

A Call for Writers to Find Balance

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Within the publishing world, I’ve often heard it is harder to sign with a literary agent than to locate a publ...