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Joanne Phillips

A Writers Journey

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Need A Personal Assistant To Help Market Your Book?

I first met Kim Nash (aka Kim the Bookworm) back in 2012 when she reviewed Can’t Live Without on her brilliant blog. When I heard that Kim was branching out into author marketing I was so excited I invited her on to talk about her new service. If you’ve ever felt that marketing was eating into your writing time, read on. I know I’m going to be adding my name to her list of clients very soon.

Kim

 

Kimthebookworm has been reviewing and blogging about books for nearly 3 years. The idea developed and was inspired by a conversation she had with author Milly Johnson and Kim hasn’t looked back since. Mom to 6 year old Ollie, Kim works for a marketing company by day and also writes and reviews for family travel and review site http://www.havealovelytime.com and also writes for http://www.loveahappyending.com. You can find Kim’s reviews at http://kimthebookworm.blogspot.co.uk

“While I love my day job, which is working for a marketing agency, I also love working with authors and books and that’s where my passion lies.   I’ve recently set up a services page on my website, so that authors who want to concentrate on their writing and want a little help on the marketing side, can come me and see how I can help them to ultimately sell more books.

A couple of weekends ago I met up with an author that I’ve been speaking to on Twitter for a few months now.

This author is someone who loves to write, and has oodles of ideas for her next books up her sleeve, but who has no idea where to start when it comes to getting the word out about her books.

I’ve been able to help her in a number of ways some of which I’ve listed below.

Social media – a great way to get the word out about your books but it is something that does need to be done properly and regularly.

One of the first things I did is to set up a Facebook page, so that she can keep all her “booky/authory” related posts in one place, and keep all her info for her friends separate.   She is happy to post on this page herself so this was just a one-off set-up.

I’m also running her Twitter account on her behalf, until she feels confident in using Twitter.  It’s a great way of getting to know new people and build contacts but is not something you can dip in and out of when you feel like it.  You need to make sure that you are retweeting other people’s tweets, taking an interest, engaging with your audience and building relationships.   Within a week she had emailed me to say that she was really pleased to see that she had got an additional 60 genuine followers.

PR/marketing – so many authors have books out in the market place but don’t have time to tell people about them or don’t know where to start.

We started by putting together a list of local magazines and radio programmes and we have written to them offering the author for features and interviews.   We’ve also looked at local groups, where the author could go along and talk about her writing experience/journey.  Women’s Institute Groups, Book Clubs etc are a great way of getting to know some of the local community.

Our next plan is to arrange with local libraries for her to go along and do a “meet the author” event where readers can go along and listen to her talk about her experience and have the opportunity to post questions and have a book signed.  A lot of libraries love to do these type of events, but it is time consuming and again some authors don’t know where to start.

I also have a section on my blog where people can advertise their book.  Throughout the month, I will tweet and post on Facebook the link to the books that are advertised.  This is another opportunity for someone else to be posting on your behalf.

Today, being an author is so much more than writing a book.  You have to also have to be involved with your own PR and marketing.  So if you are feeling a bit bogged down by all the mullarkey that goes with being an author, why not use someone who loves to do it! As your personal author assistant, let me wave my magic wand and help you!”

You can contact Kim via her website by clicking here Kim will also be around to answer questions on the blog, so please say hello and fire away below 🙂

Bow and Arrows – The Lazy Person’s Guide to Book Marketing

As most of you know, I had a week off last week and had absolutely nothing to do with any social media or marketing of my books. You would expect sales to have been lacklustre at best – I certainly did. But I was wrong. In fact, sales of Murder at the Maples were far higher than I’d predicted, and sales of my other two titles also remained steady.

When I say I did nothing last week, I did still regularly check my KDP figures and Amazon rankings. Oh, come on! I’m only human and I did have a brand new book out!

MatMchart

Anyway, back to those sales figures. The first Flora Lively mystery was released on the 12th September. In the week ending the 14th September MatM had 30 downloads. The following week it achieved 37. During my launch events in the local area I also sold over 20 paperback copies (thanks to lovely friends and family and the customers of Bookshrop). And last week while I was lounging around doing zilch? 107 downloads! And, even more amazingly, it’s hardly dropped out of the top 2,000 in the rankings and has stayed in the top 50 bestselling books in the Kindle categories.

So does this mean that doing nothing at all is the way forward? Well, sadly no. Because even though I did nothing last week, I had of course been working my socks off up to that point. I believe these sales are down to a simple equation expressed this way:

Concentrated sales = visibility = more sales = visibility … and on until it stops working.

Lots of people buying a book at the same time has an effect on the Amazon ranking, pushing the book up the charts – popularity and bestselling – making it visible to more buyers, who then download the book repeating and multiplying the effect. There are a number of things that help – if the book is new, if it has some good early reviews, a striking cover, well written blurb etc. Here are some of the things that were in place which may have come together to create what those in the know like to call a sales spike:

  • Articles in the local press creating local interest
  • A buzz around the launch with posters, bookmarks, people talking to their friends, that kind of thing
  • Amazon mailing customers to tell them about a new book by an author they’ve bought before
  • People buying from their ‘to read’ list a couple of weeks after release
  • Goodreads interest following from the giveaway
  • Posters in the library ahead of this weekend’s signing
  • Support from bloggers, on Twitter and Facebook getting the word out

Basically there were a lot of paths leading people to be interested and possibly buy, all coming together at the same time, and this may have caused the jump in sales that pushed the book into visibility.

Which leads me to my bow and arrows metaphor – you know I love metaphors, right? OK, so I’m the bow – the author or marketer – and the arrows are the activities I send out into the world to let people know about my books. If you were fighting a battle you wouldn’t fire one arrow one day, then another the next day, then another … you get the picture. You’d stand right there outside the castle and fire a whole quiver of arrows, one after the other, until you had none left. Then you’d go home and put your feet up until the next battle!

bow_and_arrow

That’s my new marketing strategy. Once a month I’m going to fire out lots of arrows and spend the rest of the month with my feet up – or writing 😉 No more chipping away with meaningless tweets or half-hearted Facebook postings. From now on I write, I blog, I keep up with my friends and connections, and I put on my marketing hat – or take up my bow – once a month for a concerted effort. What do you think, guys? Sound like a battle-winning strategy?

Book Trailers – How To Make Them and Why You Should

Today I’m delighted to welcome Maria Savva to the blog to talk about book trailers. This is an area I’m really interested in, so I invited Maria to talk us through the why and how of a book promotion tool many successful authors are using. Take it away Maria …

Maria Savva

Book Trailers – why I like them, and some tips if you want to make your own

When I started seeing book trailers appearing on YouTube a few years ago I wondered why people bothered. I could understand film trailers, because you’re seeing clips from a film that you can choose to watch if you enjoy the trailer. But a book trailer? I couldn’t really get my head around the concept. I mean, books are words, not pictures or moving pictures.

Then, I started to quite like the idea. People were saying it’s a good promotional tool, you can use it to get more exposure for your book. It tells people what the book’s about and someone might watch the trailer, enjoy it, find it intriguing, and decide to buy the book.

I was inspired to try to make my own book trailer after seeing other authors make their own.

I had no idea where to start, but I had iMovie on my old computer and decided to give it a go. I’d already discovered a wonderful website http://www.morguefile.com where you can get royalty free photos to use for creative projects, so I used that site to get my photos. If you’re thinking of making a trailer, be careful to check the terms of the licence for use whenever you choose photos from royalty free sites because some of the photographers will require that you add their name or website details to your book trailer. There are also sites where you can pay a one-off fee to use a photo for a specific project. I’ve always used morgueFile for my photos and have found all the pictures I need there.

iMovie is very easy to use and if you get stuck there are always tutorial videos on YouTube that will tell you how to do something. I used one of those instructional videos to teach me how to upload to YouTube. The updated version of iMovie that I have on my new computer makes it easier to upload; it’s just a matter of clicking a couple of buttons.

To make the video (if you’re using iMovie), you just drag your photos to the position you want them, then you can add words, and even various different transitions between the frames e.g. fading out and fading in.

I have a lot of fun making my book trailers and am learning something new about how to fine-tune them every time I make a new one.

Book trailer for 3

If you want music for your book trailer, there are (like the photo sites) lots of royalty-free sites where you can download free songs. Most websites will require that you at least add a link to the site in your trailer if you’re using content from that site. Many of the artists will also require that you credit them in the book trailer.

For some of my book trailers, I’ve used music by independent artists that I’ve met online: Jason Achilles Mezilis, Matt Keil, and WVM. Most indie musicians will be happy to have their music used for such a project as it gives an extra bit if promotion for their work; but make sure you ask them for the right to use the music. If you find a tune that you really like it’s definitely worth asking the musician if you can use it. Some of them will charge a fee for use of the tune.

For other trailers, I’ve used royalty-free music from the following sites:

http://www.freemusicforvideos.com
http://www.pacdv.com/sounds
http://ccmixter.org

Some tips for good book trailers that I have picked up over the years:

1. Tell a story with the words that you use in the trailer, try to keep the reader interested
2. Try to find pictures that say something about your book; images that evoke something from the story
3. Use instrumental music rather than music with words, unless you have only pictures in your video with no writing
4. Keep it brief. Try to make it under 2 minutes. I think the best time to aim for is 1- 1.5 minutes.
5. In my most recent trailer I’ve used short excerpts from the book. I read this tip somewhere recently, and thought it would be a nice idea. It gives the viewer a taster of your writing style
6. Include your website name in the trailer so interested viewers can look you up.
7. In the ‘About’ section, just under the video, add a couple of paragraphs about the video. I usually put the book blurb there. Also in this section, add links to where people can buy the book—that’s good for the impulse buyers.

If you’re not confident enough to make your own trailers, there are many services out there offering professionally made trailers. Check out their YouTube channels to see whether you like the trailers they make before you part with any cash.

One that I can recommend is Black Wolf Books, which is author Magnolia Belle’s website: This trailer tells you more about the service and how you can get in touch. http://youtu.be/T0X3iToPwPI

She’s made a few nice book trailers to help promote the BestsellerBound Anthologies, which are short story collections from various authors from BestsellerBound.com (I’m an administrator on that writers’ forum along with Darcia Helle and Stacy Juba). Here’s the latest trailer she made for us: http://youtu.be/kIWsIIKyobI

I thought it would be nice to showcase here some of the best book trailers I’ve seen, and these will also give you ideas as to what makes a good trailer.

13 – by Julie Elizabeth Powell http://youtu.be/S-UqzLRA5lg
What I love about this one is that Julie has used her own designs and created something very original. It makes me want to read this story.

Oblivious – by Neil Schiller http://youtu.be/wt4pFDebims
Neil has used actual excerpts from the book, and has chosen the sound of a typewriter in the background, rather than music. Again, original, and something that gives the viewer a real feel for the book. This is longer than the average book trailer, but because there is a lot to read, it doesn’t seem that long when you’re watching it.

33 Days – Bill See http://youtu.be/OsDdbvHxqUU
This one uses original music which is relevant to the book, as it’s a memoir about a touring band. The author also speaks on this trailer, which adds something to the personal aspect of the story. It brings the book alive showing photos of events that are written about in the book.

Musical Chairs – by Jen Knox http://youtu.be/HcBd8OIQVqs
This is one of the trailers I’ve watched that made me buy the book. This is also a memoir. The author reads excerpts from the book.

The Kiwi Series – by Vickie Johnstone http://youtu.be/CLjmVgNJcLM
I’m posting this one because it made me buy the first book in the series. It gives a good idea what the story is about. I would say this one is a bit too long; I didn’t actually watch it to the end, but what I did watch was enough to make me want to buy it. I suppose the length of book trailers is a matter of taste. But ideally you want to aim to make it shorter so that people watch to the end because that makes your ‘views’ figure goes up on YouTube and the video is probably promoted more by the site then.

Here’s my own YouTube channel where you can find all my book trailers: http://www.youtube.com/user/MariaSavva1/videos

Book trailers are definitely here to stay and are getting better and better. One professional book trailer company I found out about recently, Red 14 Films, makes cinematic book trailers. They’re quite expensive, so probably not within the budget of the average indie author, but I love their videos. They offer a very polished product. The idea is innovative. They use actors to create almost a mini-movie from the books they promote. Take a look at some of the trailers on their site: http://red14films.com/

It’s definitely worth having a book trailer, whether you’re making it yourself, or hiring someone else to do it for you. You can post it to Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, your website/blog. The ‘share’ options on YouTube have expanded so you can now very easily share your trailer to many different websites in just a few seconds. I think it’s also a reader-friendly way to promote your work. You’re offering them something to look at, a bit of entertainment, as well as telling them a bit more about your book instead of constantly sending out links to your book and asking them to buy it.

A few years ago I was cynical about whether anyone would buy a book after watching a book trailer. Now, though, I’ve bought books after watching a trailer, so I know it can be an effective marketing tool. I enjoy making my own trailers, and would encourage other writers to have a go.

*

Wow, thanks so much, Maria! I’ve always fancied having a go at making a trailer, and now I’m full of ideas for one for Murder at the Maples. You can find out more about Maria below, and take a look at her books on Amazon here.

File created with CoreGraphics

Author Bio:
Maria is a writer of short stories and novels. She has always been a storyteller, and an avid reader, and is now having a lot of fun in her adventure with the creative art of writing. She has published 5 novels, including a psychological thriller, a family saga, and a fantasy/paranormal/time travel book. She also has 5 collections of short stories, the latest “3” has been described as an “Innovative showcase” of her short stories. If you like stories that will take you deep inside the characters’ hearts and minds, and you like twists in the tale, you will probably want to try these stories.

As well as writing, Maria is a lawyer (not currently practising law). During her career, she worked in family law, criminal law, immigration, residential property law, and wills & probate, among other things. Many of her stories are inspired from her own experiences and the experiences of those she knows or has known. Chances are, if you get to know this author it won’t be long before you are changed forever into a fictional character and appear in one of her books. If she likes you, you may become a romantic hero/heroine; if she doesn’t… well, she writes a good thriller I hear.

Maria currently divides her time between working as an administrator in a university, and writing/reading/editing/blogging. She maintains the BestsellerBound Recommends blog helping to promote fellow indie authors. She’s also a music blogger for UK Arts Directory where she helps promote independent musicians.

Connect with Maria:
Official website: http:www.mariasavva.com
Goodreads Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418272.Maria_Savva/blog
BestsellerBound Recommends: http://quietfurybooks.com/bestsellerboundrecommends/
UK Arts Directory Blog: http://ukartsdirectory.com/category/blog/maria-savva/
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/Maria_Savva
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Maria-Savva/171466979781

March is the Month for … Marketing!

An alliterative title for my first blog post of the month – and it’s a Monday too! I’ve been hopeless at regular blogging these past few weeks, and excuses of bad backs, holidays with the family, and a major book launch just don’t cut it! But I’m back now (watch out), and ready to take on the new task of marketing not one but two novels. And I need your advice …

Having two novels out has caused quite a lot of extra work already. My spreadsheet where I track my sales and royalties has had to be updated, for one thing, causing all sorts of problems with links to my accounting sheets … well, you don’t need to hear about all that. But the new systems I’ve set up allow for the fact that there will be more novels, an indefinite amount, and that got me thinking. Prior to the release of The Family Trap, all my marketing efforts were mainly focused around Can’t Live Without. It was like, this is my book, guys – take a look! But now, and in the future, this approach seems awkward and unlikely to work. (It didn’t work so amazingly well anyway, to be honest.) So, what I need is a new plan. A proper, bona fide, Marketing Plan.

I sort of have a marketing plan already, but it’s more of a list: promote book, Tweet about it, go on Facebook etc. Nothing concrete. Nothing measurable. I need a clear vision of what I’m supposed to be doing, and how to do it.

Most authors I know, or know of, do some or all of the following online activities:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Goodreads
  • Blogging
  • Forums
  • Other social media sites

We’ll leave ‘other social media sites’ out of the discussion, as there’s enough to do without confusing it any further. Now, while I love my blog – and will never stop blogging – it doesn’t bring me in front of many new potential readers of my novels. Not pure readers, anyway. But it’s fun, so I’ll still devote time to it. Forums I’ve tried and just don’t get on with. I think you have to be really careful in these cynical times that readers don’t think you’re there purely to sell your book – and let’s be honest, you are! Lots of authors have built up a great following with relevant forums, but I don’t think they are for me.

Stress

Goodreads I get as a reader, but as an author I can’t see how activities translate into sales of books. I do all the usual stuff – events, giveaways – but I’m not sure how far I can go beyond that. Which leaves Twitter and Facebook. Now, the problem for me is this: I don’t have time to do both well. (And I think it’s important to do one well rather than both half-heartedly.) Some authors I see in my Facebook feed seem to link their Tweets and FB posts, but when this results in a FB feed of meaningless hashtags and @names it just gets annoying! Other authors market their books almost exclusively on Twitter, and it works for them. But I find just Tweeting lines of a book, or snippets of reviews, a bit boring and repetitive. I’ll do it, but I don’t like it. Likewise, taking a photo of my dinner and popping it on Facebook isn’t really me either, but lots of authors do this kind of thing …

So, I need advice. Should I focus on Facebook or Twitter? And whichever I choose, what do I have to say that’s interesting to readers? Readers, readers, readers … how can I connect with them in an ongoing and meaningful way? And how can I do all this and still have time to write? Over to you 🙂

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