Monday, March 31, 2014

Basic Decisions About PR that Every Indie Author Will Have to Make

There are numerous decisions that every single author has to face no matter what their genre or publishing preference may be. The Indie author has their own unique set of decisions to make and questions that they must answer themselves. There is not always someone around who can shoulder the burden of the most basic of these decisions. Introducing your book to the marketplace is perhaps one of the biggest challenges you will ever face no matter what your level of author experience. From start to finish, it can be a lot of hard work – well worth it in the end – but hard work nonetheless. In some author’s opinions, pursuing marketing options is more difficult than actually writing the book! There are literally hundreds of ways to promote your book and we can narrow these down to some of the most basic essentials.

How and Where the Indie Author should Spend Time and Money
It is very important to know exactly where to spend your time, money and efforts when it comes to getting your book out there. In order to accomplish this feat here are the basic areas you will want to address:
  • Defining goals
  • Identifying your audience
  • Setting up a timeline
  • Considering other PR questions

Defining Goals
Just like every arena, clear cut goals are essential to success. You will want to ask yourself a couple of questions like why you published your book to start with, what you are hoping to achieve and who you want to reach with this information. Without a definitive goal, how will you know when you have reached success? Realistically develop your personal goals as an indie author if for no other reason than knowing when you have achieved them.

Identifying Your Audience
Authors need to be aware of what their intended audience looks like. Not only does it help when developing a manuscript, it also helps with marketing efforts. It is important to place your finished book in a position to be found by those who have an interest in the content. In order to reach your audience you need to know who they are and where they hangout – both online and off.

Setting Up a Timeline
It’s not a good strategy to run a perpetual promotion. The self-published author will need to decide when, where and how long a promotion will last. They may also want to use the staggering approach so that promotions build on each other. Major holidays, anniversaries, and major events are all great occasions to use for a promotional campaign. Promotions can each be unique entities and do not have to be the same for every book. It’s really up to the author’s preferences and choice.

Considering Other PR Questions
There are tons of other questions that the self-published author may have to face. How much time do you want to devote to marketing efforts? Will that take away from writing your next book? How do you want to handle reader reviews? Is it okay or ethical to use paid reviews? How important do you think media coverage is? What do you want to call yourself: indie author, self-published author or no title at all? Will this be your only book, your last book, the first book in a series, or just your next book? Do you want to reach out to an international audience and consider translating your works into other languages using a company like Babelcube?

There are tons of questions that no one can answer but the author and these only represent a few of them. But if you can answer these general questions, you’ll be a long way toward developing a solid marketing campaign.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Building Professional Relationships with Other Authors

There can be an immediate sense of camaraderie among authors. They face the same challenges day after day and therefore they understand each other. But let’s face it – most writers live tucked away in their studios or offices working on their next masterpiece. How are they ever supposed to meet up? Fortunately, there are several social platforms and author sites that offer a place for indie authors to meet and learn from one another.

Value of Writer Relationships
There really is good reason for authors to develop professional relationships with other authors. According to a study on professional relationships conducted by the University of California, LA,* there are several reasons to foster relationships with like professionals and they include:
  • It’s refreshing, inspiring and rejuvenating.
  • They value the work you do.
  • They believe what you do to be interesting.
  • They can ask all of the right questions.
  • They totally understand you!
Where to get Started
There are tons of sites designed to cater to authors and help them build relationships with other like minded authors. Which ones you select will depend largely on your personal preferences. Most of them provide a platform through which self published authors can interact with both authors and readership. Here are a few top author sites or organizations that are great places to start.

Alliance of Independent AuthorsDesigned specifically for the self-publishing author. There are four levels of membership: associate, author, professional and partner. You will find a very diverse community of self-published authors.

Association of Independent Authors – Dedicated to “representing, advancing, promoting and supporting” indie authors on an international level.

AuthorLink – A well rounded site that offers indie authors a variety of services, including interaction with other authors, author interviews, and a host of free and premium services.

AuthorShout – A great site to connect with both authors and readers on an international level. Besides opportunities to interact with other authors, the site has many other benefits such as free book promotion, how-to-guides, and promotion packages.
* Source: The Academy of Management Journal © 2000 Academy of Management  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Facebook Fan Pages for Indie Authors

One of the most powerful online marketing tools today is Facebook. There are many ways that Facebook can be integrated into a social media marketing campaign and there are many strategies that can be used to take full advantage of the different resources the platform offers. One thing that the self published author should consider is having a fan page for each of their books. This will be most effective if you already have a page for yourself and have developed a solid following and ongoing interactions with your readers.

Benefits of having a Facebook fan page
By setting up a fan page that is specific to a book or series the indie author can keep their fans informed of the most recent developments concerning their favorite titles.  The primary benefits of having a fan page include:
  • Creates interest in your book(s)
  • Builds a solid fan base around your book
  • Posts about the book can attract new fans
  • Gives you a platform from which to interact with your readers
  • Increases organic traffic to your author website
Who will join your fan page?
Indie authors who have a fan page for each of their books have another means of engaging with their audience without being pushy, spammy or obnoxious. In many cases, it is likely that those who join a fan page for a particular book have already purchased it and the fan page offers a meaningful way to interact with your fan base.

Strategies for increasing a fan base
There are several different strategies that can be used to increase the number of followers an author has. When setting up a Facebook fan page you can create your own URL. You might choose to use the book’s title or main character. Once you have the URL, you can add the fan page to your author website and you can use widgets including Facebook’s “like” or “share” button to your website or blog content. This can increase your fan base substantially. Always include your URL in any correspondence such as in an email signature. Self publishing authors may also want to share exciting news or posts about the book across other social media platforms such as Twitter. These are just a few strategies for helping an author establish a solid fan base on a Facebook fan page.

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Does an Indie Author Need a Press Release?

There are many valuable ways to let your audience and the rest of the world know the breaking news about a book and a press release is just one of them. Up front, let’s say that a press release is not for everyone and it’s not appropriate for every single occasion. For the indie author who really has something to share, it can be a useful tool. You’ll want to save the press release for noteworthy occurrences such as when you release your latest book or have something that is interesting or appealing to your audience. A press release just for the sake of sending one out is not going to be effective; so save it for truly monumental or outstanding happenings.

Why should the indie author issue a press release?
A press release is a method used for distributing news to an intended audience. For the indie or self publishing author, a press release can be a useful marketing strategy. The primary benefits of choosing to use press releases include:
  • Gaining publicity
  • Increasing site traffic
  • Improving website rankings in search engines
When should the indie author publish a press release?
A press release can be written whenever there is something eventful that occurs. The primary reason a self-published author might publish a press release is when they are releasing a new book. But there are other times when a press release is useful. Here are a few events that are newsworthy and deserve a press release:
  • Introducing a new book
  • Celebrating the anniversary of a release
  • Receiving an award
  • Releasing a book in a new region
  • Launching a website
  • Announcing upcoming titles or releases
What information should the press release include?
The first thing a press release needs is an interesting title that gets to the point. Just below the title is a subtitle, which offers the reader a fleshy summary of the reason for the press release. The first paragraph of a press release should describe the basics: who, what, where, when and how. The first paragraph should contain the bulk of the information intended for the reader so that if they stop there and do not read any further they will get the basics. The first paragraph is the “news” and the other paragraphs expand that news and offer support through statements, facts or quotes. The final portions of a well written press release will contain pertinent links, such as to your website or the page where the book can be purchased.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Promotion for Indie Authors – Posting Books

For the indie author, book promotion can be a huge task. One of the best resources to make the task somewhat easier or at least more manageable is to post your book on various sites online. Book posting sites are a great tool to use to get your books into the view of the reading community. There are a lot of different types of sites that allow indie authors to post their books, or excerpts from their books. Many of them charge a standard fee for this promotional service and some are totally free. It is important to note that posting books must be managed similarly to social media sites. It’s not possible or reasonable to use all of them. But in order to generate some new interest in your book(s) you might consider using this great online promotional resource. Here are a few of the sites that can help you get your books in front of an interested audience.

Book Daily
This site allows self-publishing authors to set up an account for free. By joining this online community the author can post the first chapter of any of their books for readers to review, a bio with a photo, link to your website or blog and even a video about the book.

Indie Author News
This site is useful for helping the indie author promote their books but they have tons of other features as well. They offer specific features like the Indie Book of the Day, Free Book of the Day, new book releases, and book features that are specifically designed to assist indie authors in promoting their books.

For a small fee, indie authors can post their books on Once the fee is paid an author can post as many books as they want on the site. The AskDavid crew will create a book promotion page, and link to your social media and web sites. Visitors to the site are allowed and encouraged to provide reviews of books and their quotes can be used on the author’s own website. For such a small fee, this site has a lot to offer the indie author in the way of book promotion.

Book Goodies
Book Goodies provides a platform onto which authors can submit their books. This is one of the sites which offers free book posting. The site organizers are attempting to give indie authors a chance to be seen by readers and obtain honest reviews about their books. They also encourage interaction between authors and readers.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Indie Authors can use Blog Tours for Book Promotion

For those who have never heard of a blog tour before try Googling it. You’ll likely find lots of sites that list blog tours. The primary purpose for participating in a blog tour is to promote your book. Through the use of blogs and other online resources, an indie author can go “on tour” with their book without ever leaving the comforts of home. Don’t start out by thinking that it’s a simple task and there’s not much work to it.  A blog tour will take plenty of hard work, determination and discipline to be effective. But the end result of selling your books will be well worth it!

What is a Blog Tour?
A blog tour is not really a new concept for the online community or the indie author. Probably the easiest way to define a blog tour is to say that instead of an author going from store to store like they would on a traditional book tour, they go from blog to blog. A blog tour can take many different forms depending on the blog type. It may be designed as a simple book review, a question and answer session, an interview, or even a book giveaway. In most instances an author will set aside a predetermined amount of time such as a week or a month in which to  schedule a specific number of stops, or blogs to participate in.

What is the Purpose of a Blog Tour?
In most instances, a blog tour is scheduled to coincide with the release of a new book. Some authors choose to participate in a blog tour as long as 6 to 8 weeks prior to publishing their books. However, the primary purpose of a blog tour, no matter how it is designed, is to generate buzz about a self-published author’s book. For this reason, any time is really a good time.

Blog Tour Sites
If you Google “blog tour” you’ll see that there are literally pages of related results. It can be difficult for the indie author to know which ones are best to look into. Some authors prefer to try shorter blog tours to get a feel for how they work, others prefer to just be a guest blogger and write about their books. There are literally thousands of tour operators to choose from but here is a short list of a few to sample.

  • Xpresso Book Tours – This site has over 100 successful tours to show as examples and the site has an average of 30,000 page views every month. The blog tour site is not free but you get a lot for your dollar. While they offer several options, you can get a basic tour with 15 stops for $100. The audience is primarily young adult and romance readers so for self-published authors in this genre it’s well worth looking into.
  • Worldwind Tours – This is a very well established blog host and they carefully scrutinize interested blog posters to ensure the highest quality. The author must simply prepare their own guest posts, excerpts or interviews and the site’s staff takes care of the rest. Authors must meet their stringent criteria with features like a well designed cover, well written blurb. 
  • Orangeberry Book Tours – Orangeberry coordinates an online tour for the indie author, which consists of online appearances on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or on a variety of blogs in order to promote their book. They are possibly one of the most versatile book tour operators as they offer a wide variety of packages, which include personalized choices such as: guest posting, author interviews, blog advertising, and promotions on twitter.
The team at Babelcube wish you and your books happy and successful blog touring.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Many Books are eBooks?

Over the last few years,  there has been a dramatic growth in ebooks. This is being fueled by new technology and sales channels. There may be any number of good reasons for this shift for readers, writers, and publishers including the self-publishing author. One reason that electronic versions of books are gaining such popularity among indie authors is that there is no upfront cost for printing. We don’t even actually “write” on paper anymore since books are completed using digital media. But how do they really stack up against traditionally published or print books? Do they sell better? Are they more widely available? You may be pleasantly surprised.

Lack of Real Numbers
According to Hugh Howey in his 7k Report, there are no industry wide numbers that demonstrate the number of ebooks that are sold each year. One reason for this lack of reliable information is that ebook distributors do not have to reveal the specific sales data to consumers. So even though you've most likely heard that ebooks only make up about one-fourth of all book sales, the data is largely flawed at best. This 25% does not account for many different genres and does not include self-published titles. This leaves a huge hole in the data. Because there is no “bookscan” for ebooks, it is a struggle to find the numbers to create a reasonable estimate of the number of books that are ebooks.

What We Do Know
We do know that self published works are seriously under-reported when it comes to gathering the stats. We also know that Amazon has been a key player in the growth of the ebook market.  However, no one knows for sure what book market share actually belongs to Amazon. By opening up the ebook market through its Kindle platform and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, Amazon has created an open platform for self-publishing authors. These self-published authors have become mainstream.

Staggering Stats of Amazon Best-Sellers
Trade books are referenced in terms of New York Times bestsellers. These types of books do not include titles such as children’s books, cookbooks or academic books. If we consider only New York Times bestsellers we will see that electronic books already make up about half of the sales. In Howey’s 7k Report, he looked at just Amazon bestsellers to see how ebooks stacked up against print books and the numbers were astounding. Ebooks made up nearly 90% of Amazon’s top 2,500 Bestsellers. That’s measured against audio editions, hard and soft covers and mass market paperbacks as well. And when one takes a look at the top 100 of these 2,500 bestselling books 92% were ebooks, not traditional print books.

Projections for the Future of eBooks
A look into the future is promising for the indie author as the popularity of ebooks continues to soar. There’s high consumer demand as many readers prefer the convenience of electronic readers to traditional books and distribution is a simpler process for self publishing authors. Some predict that by the middle of this year ebooks will make up half of all the books being sold. This is not unreasonable given the recent data. If there ever was a time for the indie author to publish, it’s now!
Photo credit: antonioxalonso via photopin cc

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Social Media Marketing for Indie Authors

Social media is a powerful tool for authors. The world we live in is highly technological and most people have 24/7 access to a digital device of some type. As we grow increasingly mobile there are new smartphones and tablets taking over our lives and there are very few people left who do not have multiple social media accounts. It just makes sense for the indie author to figure out how to reach their audience on social sites. But as with any marketing media there are right ways and wrong ways to handle a social media campaign. It is very important that the author understand that while using social media for book sales is effective, it’s not the only reason to engage on social platforms. They are a powerful and effective way of establishing an online presence and building relationships with readership.

Why Use Social Media?
Social media is growing at a rapid rate and so are the users. It’s really not just for teenagers, all ages are beginning to show impressive growth when it comes to hooking up online. As of late last year, nearly 75% of adults online were using social media sites. Facebook has over 1.4 billion users around the globe.  Twitter has 94 million members. LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social sites with 2 new members joining the network every second. The sheer numbers and potential connectivity makes it worth implementing a social media marketing campaign.

Which Social Media Sites Are Best for Indie Authors?
There is no way to name every single social media site available; and it is really not necessary. Choosing which sites to actively engage with your readership is very important. It really comes down to personal preference and finding out where your audience is. The “Big 3” social sites are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Google+ is a newer site that is gaining traction in the market. These are social media giants and have the potential to reach millions of readers. But there are also author specific sites like Goodreads or NetGalley, which can be beneficial. There is no right combination or number of sites to select and it is up to the author to decide which platforms work best for their particular purposes and interests. However, it is also important to note that it is possible to sign up for too many social sites. A self-published author should sign up for only the number of social sites that they can realistically maintain on a regular basis. Social media is not about setting up an author’s page, writing a great bio or profile and then moving along. It’s about actively engaging and building relationships with readers. This means that the author has to be active in posting, tweeting or updating with relevant information.

Adding Value to Your Readers
Of course the ultimate goal for the self publishing author is to sell books. But in order to effectively accomplish this goal it is important to take the time to build relationships with your readership. It’s okay to tweet about a new release, new idea or a promotion that is running, but promoting yourself cannot be the totality of online social activities. Think about your social sites, including your author’s blog, as a way to add value to your readers. Create tweets, status updates, or blog posts about topics that are of interest to your readers. This does not mean that it is irrelevant to your book or books; but it should be geared to adding value to readers. This gives them reasons to return time and time again. Building lifelong readership is key to successful book sales for the long term.

Integrating Social Media
Self publishing authors need a solid strategy when it comes to using social media outlets. At the center of it all should be the author’s website, which contains all of their books and blog. When a new blog post is published it should automatically be announced across linked social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Google+ is also a good social media platform to consider using. It has its own benefits, such as helping establish authorship and your online reputation. It’s also a great tool for branding.

Be Personable
Facebook allows indie authors to set up an author’s page which can be very useful for promotions, branding and connecting with your audience. It is possible to overdo it with self promotional materials so remember to be personable with your followers. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a business page professional, but mix some personality in with it and don’t just become a machine spouting out updates about your materials. It’s okay to be funny, informative and relaxed while remaining professional. Offer a wide variety of content and let your audience get a glimpse of your true personality. When they connect with you in this way, they are going to be eager to read your self published works as well. Social media is about connecting and sharing; it’s a two-way street that offers the indie author a platform from which to interact with their audience.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Designing a Cover for Your Indie Book

For many authors, writing the book is the easy part and then there’s the rest. For the indie author there is marketing and many other associated tasks such as the book cover. The cover of a book is a very important element as it is the first impression a reader gets of your book and its contents. Studies have shown that nearly 75% of a reader’s decision to purchase a book is based solely on the book’s cover. The cover makes a powerful statement about your book and can effectively make that much needed connection with the reader. The human brain is capable of processing images a lot faster than words. When we see an image it evokes certain emotions and an immediate reaction. Upon viewing a book cover, the reader has a concept of what the book is about. For readers, the old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover” simply does not apply. The reader will make an immediate judgment about a book and create preconceptions about the book before they even pick it up or put it in their shopping cart.  Here are a few basic cover design tips for self-publishing authors.

Don't Judge Me By My Cover
Essential Features of a Book Cover Design
In order to design an effective cover for your book, you will want to start with some market research which focuses on your targeted readership. There are several considerations that need to be made and your choices should be geared toward what will be most effective with your primary audience. Here are the primary features that you’ll be considering:
  • The book’s title
  • The image used on the front cover
  • What colors will be used
  • Types of fonts that will be used
  • The blurb for the back cover
Even though each of these features has a distinct purpose, they all need to work together to create a unified object that is more than just aesthetic in appearance. Each year there are more than 200 thousand new titles published, now that makes for a very competitive market. You have only a few seconds to catch the eye of a potential reader so you want to design your cover to stand out in a positive way so that it rises above your competitors. No matter how great your content is, your cover is what will initially help a person choose if they want to venture into the chapters it contains or pass it by. It’s important to bring these features together to create a design that catches the eye and attention of your readers.

Purpose of Your Book‘s Cover
When choosing the features to include on your book cover there are some things to keep in mind. You will want a design that is characteristic of your genre but still stands out as unique from the rest. It should be compelling to readers and appeal to them in such a way that they want to take a closer look at what’s inside. Images, color and fonts should all be reflective of the type of content that is in the book. You want to design a book cover that convinces the reader to come on this literary journey with you.

Design Best Practices for Book Covers
While a book cover is essential for encapsulating the book’s content, it should still be simple. You will want to use a single image for your cover so that the reader is not overcome visually. Color is a very important element for a book cover and it alone can have a huge impact on influencing readers to purchase a book. Colors can evoke specific emotions and this is an important consideration to keep in mind when you are choosing your cover design. As a general rule, warmer colors can also seem to appear to be closer to the viewer which also makes them attract attention from a distance. Cooler colors like blue or green tend to evoke feelings like calmness, tranquility and relaxation. The title needs to be large, bold print and it is important that the indie author’s name be including on the front cover. A bold title is easier to read and makes the book easier to identify for readers. For authors who self-publish print books it is important to remember to put the title and your name on the spine of the book so that it is easily identified when it’s sitting on a shelf. Once the reader has been enticed by the front cover, they are likely to flip it over to glance at the back cover as well. The back cover of nonfiction books typically contains information about the importance of the topic contained in the book; and fiction books might have a short excerpt or brief synopsis. In some instances, the author’s bio is contained on the back cover.