BOOK SECTION MAGAZINE 2016
What Can an Author Learn From a Book Marketing Log?
By Harriet Hodgson
In February of 2016 I decided to keep a book marketing log. It would be simple document, a few sentences for each day of the month. I read my entries the other day and they surprised me. In fact, the log has turned into a learning experience. What have I learned from my log?
Over time a system develops. I realized it would be smarter and quicker to note similar things in the same way. For example, many entries begin with "Thanked these people on Twitter for their follows." I note the name and a fact about each person, such as non-fiction or sci-fi author.This continuity may help me with other writing projects.
Book marketing has many facets. I've taken the usual author steps, posting on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest. I've done new things, too, such as retweeting videos, something I hadn't done before. One retweeted video refers to books as friends, and I added a message to it: Hope I'm your friend, someone you turn to for information and comfort. This note generated a "like" on Twitter.
A log can be a learning experience. Although I can crank out manuscripts efficiently, I'm not a computer person or a "techie." So the idea of metadata was intimidating. When I watched a podcast on the topic (something noted in my log) metadata became clearer. In fact, the podcast sparked my creativity and I wrote an article about metadata, and posted it under the resources tab on my website.
Helping other authors can be powerful and rewarding. My book marketing log, and the steps it documents, links me with many authors. I'm touched by the number of retweets and encouraging comments I've received. I thank the authors for their retweets, mentions, and likes. Some names have become familiar and conversations may ensure.
Writing connects authors with the world. Retweets have come from England, Scotland, Ireland, and far away countries I've only read about. I don't note every country in my lob, but I do note many of them. These notes connect me with a family of authors. Authors don't write in the same genre, but we are compelled to write, and fascinated with words, no matter which language we speak.
A log can nudge an author in new directions. When I read my log entries I realize that the fact of keeping a log is making me try things I never thought I would try. Now I'm keeping a list of ideas, such as adding a visual to every tab of my website. According to my publisher, it can take months or even years for marketing efforts to generate sales. Yet I'm pushing on, making daily entries, and doing all I can to spread the word about my books.
Today, publishers want their authors to help with marketing. Your book log can help you translate this idea into action. Just as important, you are documenting your efforts. If your publisher wants a summary of them, you have it. Book marketing isn't easy, but it's interesting and challenging. Make every day a book marketing day!
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelancer for 37 years and is the author of 35 books. Her latest releases: Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss, The Family Caregiver's Guide, Affirmations for Family Caregivers, A Journal for Family Caregivers, and The Family Caregiver's Cookbook, slated for October release.
Why You Should Pay for Good Books
By Carmel M Audsley
With the digital publishing revolution, anyone can produce a book. 'Anyone' who has no experience of writing, can string a few words together in badly constructed sentences, throw in a few swear words and sex scenes, make up ridiculous scenarios that go nowhere, then shout to the world that she is an author. She also complains rather loudly when no one buys her book.
'Someone', who has spent time learning and practising her craft, who can spell and put punctuation in all the right places so that the sentences make sense, who has taken the time to research, write, re-write, edit and proof a book and who has respect for her readers is more likely to be successful and can rightfully claim the title of author. Her books are more likely to sell too.
You can usually tell from the first few pages of a book whether or not you will enjoy the story. If you choose to buy a good book - one that has been crafted by a skilled writer - you are paying for hundreds of hours of research, thought, inspiration and determination to write the best book possible so that the reader can be taken on a journey and feel something at the end of it.
In my genre of historical fiction, I go to the places about which I write, to see the sights, hear the sounds and smell the odors and perfumes so that I can accurately describe those sensations. I research how the characters would have dressed in a certain period, the currency they used and the basics of their everyday lives. I don't want people to just read words - I want them to feel that they are actually there, walking along the cobbled streets or travelling thousands of miles across the sea in a crowded ship, or falling in love on a riverbank.
I write about things I know, but also about things I don't know. I like to find out about people and places, and the work I put into doing that comes across in my books because readers can be transported to those places too. I treat my characters - and my readers - with respect.
So when you buy a book, either a hard copy or kindle version, and you enjoy reading it, think about the hard work that went into creating that book. Then, instead of lending it, consider buying a copy for a family member or friend. You won't make an author rich, but you will give her the satisfaction of knowing that her work is appreciated and the incentive to keep researching and writing good books - and that's a win for everyone.
Don't Try to Sell Your Book Until You've Done This One Thing
By Amy Harrop
If you want your book to be a sales success, there's no avoiding the need for some solid Amazon reviews. Even if you're a genius in every phase of marketing, failing to have your Amazon reviews in place first will result in wasted effort at all levels.
Therefore, you should time your book marketing campaign so that procuring Amazon reviews is at the head of the list, not at the bottom. Nail those reviews first, and it's like attaching a rocket booster to everything you do afterwards.
Here's what Amazon reviews will do for your book.
Every author has his or her unique way of marketing, but a few core principles adhere to anyone's campaign, no matter how it plays out. And it's a cold hard fact that getting your book reviewed on Amazon is one of these core elements of success.
I'll show you why Amazon reviews act as a multiplier for other marketing techniques in just a moment. But first, just to drive the point home, here are four benefits of nabbing some Amazon reviews before you begin your major marketing push:
- They provide social proof for your book - Amazon is king when it comes to checking out stuff we want to buy. Why? It's those reviews!
- One Amazon review encourages more- nobody wants to be first.
- If you get 10 reviews, the book qualifies to be listed in "also bought" or "you might like" sections on Amazon when consumers are purchasing other books.
- Amazon reviews will help you get your book reviewed on other review sites, since that's often a qualifying factor.
Even if you're a long way from selling thousands of copies through Amazon, get those reviews in there anyway. The goal is to prove your book exists in the mind of other readers who have bought and read it.
By doing this, you're coaxing your potential customers into a comfort zone where they'll be more likely to purchase your book. Nobody wants to be the first one out on the dance floor, or even the third or the fourth. Most people want to see a handful go before them before they'll follow.
Compare your book launch to the opening of a new restaurant.
Debuting your completed book without first having some reviews on Amazon is like opening a restaurant without first building any fanfare. As a restaurateur, you'd be expected to drum up support for your opening night to fill as many seats as possible, right? You'd be out of your mind to open without some sort of pre-launch buzz (at the very least an ad in the local paper).
In the restaurant industry, it's considered better not to launch at all than to have zero patrons your first day. You should think of your book launch the same way. When you begin the bulk of your advertising initiatives, it's good to have someone already "there" to say it's a good product... hence the reviews.
Of course for a restaurateur the buzz wouldn't stop there. The diners who showed up would be seated in the window to create a buzz-worthy scene for passersby (yes, that old trick... still around because it works!).
If you do have some great leads, they'll be even more likely to purchase if you have some Amazon reviews to show.
Seating people in the window on opening day of your restaurant is one way of leveraging social proof. That's also what you're doing with your first set of Amazon reviews.
Let's say you've made a few contacts and they seem interested in you and your book. They take note of your name or your title and then go to research your book to see if they might like to make a purchase.
Congratulations, that's 90% of marketing! That's what we call a hot lead: that person is more than halfway through your sales funnel and now all you need is the right gentle push during the last few steps of the sales process and you've made a sale.
Where does your lead go to research your book? The preeminent online spot for finding out about a book is Amazon. Even if someone plans to purchase elsewhere, it's those reviews that drive Amazon's popularity, and you'd better have some there once your "lead" arrives on your page to investigate your book.
It's all about making us of a major canon of ad-agency psychology: social proof.
A final note: despite what I've just told you, Amazon reviews aren't enough!
Of course all this assumes you've created an Amazon Authors page. This is where visitors can find out about you. Your Amazon Author page is also the spot where you redirect everyone on over to your website. Therefore, sprinkle liberally with links to your website and your social media accounts.
Why pull people off Amazon and onto your website or social media page? After all, Amazon is where they'll make the purchase. The reason is because if someone is on your author page, chances are they've come there from the book page where they would have made the purchase.
That visitor is already distracted from buying the book so you've got to recapture that interest. If there's nowhere to go from your Author page, it's a closed circle of discovery and you've lost the sale.
The ultimate goal is a fan base.
Get them over to your website where you can show them more of your wares. Let them get to know you, thereby hopefully creating a loyal fan not just a momentary spark of interest that may or may not result in a sale.
That brings me to what's really important here. I stand by my stern warning not to launch without Amazon reviews but don't think for a moment that's all you need to do. Don't go fishing without a pole- yup, good advice- but you'll also need a hook and some bait.
A fan base craves an author website.
What you really need is an author website, which serves as the marketing hub for your book and all future books.
The key to long-term marketing success is to build a following for your work, and that can't be done simply by listing your book on Amazon, gathering reviews, and referring people to an author page.
The Holy Grail of authorship is a loyal fan following. People who follow authors look for them to have a multi-channel existence. So there's a Part Two to this article- Amazon reviews are crucial but you won't get very far without your own author website.
Check out my blog for more publishing tips. Amy Harrop Blog