Category Archives: Authors

How Google AMP Affects Your Author Blog

How Google AMP Affects Your Author BlogIs your blog mobile responsive? If you’re not sure, take a moment to pull it up on your phone. If you have a tablet, take a look there too. If you’re using a “mobile responsive design” then it will shuffle your content around to improve the viewing experience based on the type of device accessing it.

Google is now taking that a bit further with AMP, Accelerated Mobile Pages. This is another level of responsive design that strips your site to the bones in order to make it load faster and improve the small screen viewing experience. Also, Google AMP pages will be place at the top of search results – ahead of non AMP pages.

You may be thinking, “So what?”

AMP can be a powerful way to make your content pop on mobile devices, or it could kill the effectiveness of your in-page marketing. Headers are visually truncated, side bars shuffled to the bottom or removed, and images within a post may not display the way you want them presented to the reader.

Think about the content you have on your site and how it may be changed. Do you advertise your books with point of purchase links in this space? Do you use sidebars to place ads or Social Media news feeds? How would moving these touch points affect your book sales? What strategies can you employ to keep your titles top of mind in an accelerated mobile world?

40% of mobile users leave a page if it doesn’t load in three seconds
Click image to share.

Here’s a more in-depth overview of Google AMP from Social Media Examiner, along with info on how to make it work with your  site and WordPress blogs. You can also learn more about Google AMP Project here.

A few months ago, I began adding a thumbnail, link and synopsis to the end of my posts as a gentle reminder that I also write mystery novels. Little did I know what a good practice this would become. My side bar links on the mobile AMP view were pushed to the bottom of the article list. Having the link inside the post gives it visibility no matter which screen readers prefer.

Don’t shy away from the technology. If you can write a novel and publish a blog, you already have the skills needed to optimize your book marketing and web content experience.

Questions? Advice? Leave a comment. If you found this information helpful, please consider sharing.

Thanks for reading!

JPG

 

Wired Judith GainesWired by Judith Gaines

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

Book Marketing Hacks and Apps

Hack Apps & PluginsHappy Friday and welcome to Spring.

We typically make January our time to start new habits and endeavors, but really why limit ourselves to one month a year to improve things? I’m thinking this weekend is a perfect time to get organized and put all the writing life hacks I have to good use.

Here’s What I’ve Got

Install your social media network apps on your tablet or mobile phone:

  • Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, G+, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Pinterest, etc.SocialMobile800x600

Install 3rd party apps that make the work easier:

  • Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, etc. for scheduling content
  • Canva, WordSwag, Layout, Camera Awesome for making killer images to share
  • Repost or R&R for reposting on Instagram

If you find you’re using these a lot, it’s worth paying a few dollars to get the ad-free versions. It makes the user experience much friendlier.

Get Creative With Twitter Content

Text posts are fine, but there’s a hierarchy if you want people to notice.

1 Least effective > 5 Most Effective

  1. Text
  2. Text + Link
  3. Text + Link + Image
  4. Text + Link + Video (native format)
  5. Actually ties with #4… Native promo card
Hacks, Apps & Plugins Twitter Card
Twitter card made with Canva. Click to share.

Full disclosure, I have access to some pretty smart editing tools, but for a quick video with a few title cards (aka words on the screen) iMovie works just fine.

Browser PlugIns

I use Chrome for most of my online, but if you go to the app store for your preferred browser, you’ll be sure to find what you need.  Plugins are tiny programs designed to work within larger programs. Chrome plugins add a small icon in the top right corner of your web browser and is activated with just a click.

ChromePlugins

Hootsuite – Click to create social posts from your browser window. The app allows you to send the post to any account you have connected to Hootsuite.

Pocket – If you don’t have time to read the site or online article, Pocket will save it and syc to Pocket on your mobile app. Great way to take your reading list on the road.

Klout – This plugin app allows social posting via your Klout login, but it does something else that’s really cool. Once installed, it places Klout scores inside your Twitter feed. Think of Klout scores as showing who has the larger “share of the conversation” on social. Since it’s an aggregate of social network activity – you get to know who carries clout on various topics. Click the Klout icon next to a user’s profile picture in Twitter and Klout will tell you where their expertise shines.

Let me know if you have any plugins or apps for keeping writing, book promotion and life manageable. There are new ones popping up daily and I love learning new things.

Thanks,

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Wired Judith GainesWired by Judith Gaines

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

This is How I Work

This Is How I Work

Thank you to Laura Brown (@thatgrrl), whose recent post by the same title inspired me to tackle these questions and share them with you. Her inspiration cascaded from David Kelly (@LnDDave).

So let’s get started. I’m Judie Gaines and this is how I work.This-Is_How-I-Work_JGaines

Location

Central North Carolina. 2 Hours from the coast & 3 ½ hours from the mountains.

Current Gig

I work with a team of talented folks who produce advertising creative, as well as a multitude of other media related projects.

The rest of the time I’m a wife, Mom, and writer.

Current mobile device

iPad, iPhone – I’m a little iCentric.

Current computerJGainesAvatar

13″ MacBook. Small enough to go anywhere, big enough to create worlds.

One word that best describes how you work

Organized. Without structure I would be lost.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Scrivener is tops for writing software, but I must confess to having an unhealthy relationship with my Audible app. At any given time I am reading, listening, and writing a book. I like words.

What’s your workspace like?JPG19

It’s just me and any comfy chair. As long as it’s quiet, I can write most anywhere.

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Prioritize my To Do list. When I’m forced to rank what needs to get accomplished I can usually find items that really aren’t that important and cross them off, or I can consolidate tasks to take up less time. This is also important in finding time to write & day-dream – two core needs of every writer.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

Paper. I like the satisfaction of scribbling lines through everything that is DONE. By the way, that’s my favorite word.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

Chicken Shawarma for dinner!
Chicken Shawarma for dinner!

My iPad has become an extension to everything I do. I use it to check mail, socialize via Twitter & Facebook, make blog edits, take photos while at conferences, FaceTime with family, and even keep track of recipes while cooking. Best application? Playing Minecraft with my daughter and letting her give me tours of her amazing mazes!

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Sleeping. After 9 years in broadcast TV working early mornings, late nights, endless snow coverage, and telethons, I picked up the essential skill of sleeping anywhere, any time.

What do you listen to while you work?

Silence. Usually, my characters are too loud for me to hear anything else.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

Definitely introvert.

What’s your sleep routine like?

See above.

Fill in the blank. I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

You!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Take a leap of faith.

It was a dark and stormy night...
How do you work?

Feeling inspired? I hope you’re ready to share, because I’m passing you the baton. Not the last reader or the next reader – YOU.

Pass it on.

 

Rewarding Readers

DIY Book Marketing

DIY Book Mktg_RewardingReadersThe landscape of selling and promoting books is littered with advice, often in conflict with itself and often with strong opinions. Frankly, there’s a lot of ways of doing things right, but keep in mind that what works for one author or book may not work for you and your books.

So how the heck do you know what to do to get your work discovered and, just maybe, make a living with as an author?

Experiment. Be flexible. Be curious. Be willing to work at it.

DIY Book Marketing is all about giving you ideas to help grow your readership. Some may work and some will show no traction at all. But I’ll let you in on a secret. If you try out a strategy that doesn’t work, you’ve just gotten smarter on how to market YOUR work. The process of elimination helps your focus on what’s working and cut out the time-wasting tactics that just aren’t for you.

It’s going to be hard work. It’s a job for writers who are too stubborn to give up.

Added Value

Previous posts have covered:

Now let’s discuss Added Value. This is when you give readers something extra, at no charge or obligation. Doesn’t even have to come bundled with the book. Added value gives your readers and fans something of value to them beyond the product itself.

Here are a few ideas in relation to books:

  • Did you have character bios for your novel? Sketches? Fans love to see how you created the people and locations depicted in your work.
  • Did you have a list of websites you frequented for research on your novel’s subject or locations? Imagine if you had this coveted list from your favorite author from their latest book.
  • Mystery novel? Have fun and give readers a clue tally sheet. Let them know how many clues they should identify per chapter and see if they can find them. Can they solve the crime before your hero?
  • Some authors create social media accounts or websites for their characters. Fans love getting tweets from their favorite characters or reading blog posts set in your novel’s world. A  great example plays out in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes. In the show, John Watson writes a popular blog outlining the events of each case. The smart producers of this show have the blog – in character – online for fans to read and comment, extending the enjoyment of the show. Harry Potter fans will be familiar with Pottermore which lets you feel you are part of the magical world which didn’t end with book 7, but is a story still playing out in real-time.
  • Writing journals or plot outlines are also great content to share with fans. The messier the better, because it shows the thought and effort you put into your work. Fans get to see how the threads of the plot came together and how you overcame plot shifts and writing blocks. Here’s a sample from Sue Grafton.

Your website or blog, and point of sales program features like Shelfari are natural sites to share and promote this content. If you want to bundle the goods, consider creating a free ebook with easy download from a self publishing site or as a PDF on your website.

256px-Fingerprint_pictureBook marketing is as individual as your fingerprint.

If  you find an obstacle or the task proves impossible, learn from it, adjust the path, and move on. That sounds a little like a plot twist, doesn’t it?

You have to look at the interests of your readers, take note of the content they like and adjust. Don’t keep pounding away at the same type of content or tactic if no one is responding.

Here are the results of a few of my own experiments:

TwitterAnalyticEngagementSummaryCropped

  • Looking at Twitter Analytics, I noted the times when I had the most engagement, then sent all of my scheduled tweets the next day at the exact same time. I got a positive hit on about 70% of the tweets. Then I looked at the content that followers liked and did more of that. It was about 50%. Then I refocused the best content at the best time (based on analytics) and got engagement on every one. At the same time I connected with new folks who I wouldn’t have met otherwise and I really enjoy what they have to say with their content. I’ve also discovered that I have more than one audience. Some love books, some want to know more about writing and selling books, some love social media tips, and the last group are art lovers. Networking and conversation is how readers find you.
  • Giving away free copies does not work for my books. Also, having played with various price points I have discovered the “what the market will bear” pricing for my specific novels. If you adjust price points as I did, be willing to live with that price for 3+ months. You have to establish a buying pattern before you know if the price is working or not. Plus, you don’t want to appear fickle by your future fans by having a different price every time they look back to consider buying.
  • Activity = book sales. When I’m active on social media my brand and my writing is being actively discovered. My social media mix is this Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. I have a page on Goodreads, but it seems to have a life of its own so I pretty much leave it alone.

Writing After DarkConsider how using Added Value & experimenting can help you market your books more effectively.

If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing and by all means share your thoughts and insights.

Thanks for hanging out with me.

DIY Book Marketing – Editorial Calendars

DIYBookMktg_ EditorialCalender_JudithGaines

Calendars have been around for thousands of years. We’ve used them since before kindergarten to track holidays and count birthdays, then graduated to day planners and mobile phones with pop-up reminders. We have no excuse for not knowing the day of the week and month and what we need to do. Calendars help us make order out of our busy lives.

This is what a Social Media Editorial Calendar can do for your DIY Book Marketing. It doesn’t have to be fancy or use special software – it just needs to be visual.

The visual nature of a calendar will help you see the bigger story build on each channel. It also takes the pressure off figuring out what to do next.

Slide1I’ve taken my editorial calendar a little further and added a few reference pages:

  • First, a quick reminder of what type of content works best on each channel, and image sizes and formats so I don’t have to keep looking them up.
  • And added some of the audience research so I’m always reminded of who I’m writing for and keep their interests in mind when planning topics. I’ve created Personas to help me put a face and personality to each Slide2audience segment. It’s easier to write to someone you know rather than a list of data.

Step One

Use your audience research to brainstorm topics and start a list. Free style it – no censoring – and let the craziest ideas have a place, because you never know which one will turn out to be brilliant. This is where I usually get excited and add something vague like “blue vs. yellow buttons” – I strongly recommend writing a few words so you know what it means six weeks later.

Once you have an idea of what you want to share, begin ranking them in a logical order. What would your reader need to know first for the next three topics to make sense? You see, as much as a single post is a story, the collection of posts become a larger story. Think episode, with each post building upon the next.

This example shows the weeks at the top and the channels to the side to give a weekly snapshot. A traditional calendar layout works well too.
This example shows the weeks at the top and the channels to the side to give a weekly snapshot. A traditional calendar layout works well too.

Step Two

Now you’re ready to add them to your calendar. Decide how frequently you want to post and on what channels and begin filling in a few weeks worth of content. Begin with the big stuff first – the articles and blog posts, putting them on the day you plan the content to publish.

Being able to see where you’re putting your content will help you spread out what you want to say and put it in the form that best fits a specific channel.

Should There Be a Post Every Day?

When you have a wonderful list of ideas, it’s easy to want to post a new topic every day. Slow down. You don’t need to talk to everyone on every channel everyday. As long as you post on a somewhat regular basis, readers will come, and you’ll have current blog followers stopping back in to see what’s new. Twitter is the only social channel that needs an every day feed, everything else gets its own schedule.

Tips

  • Avoid using the same content across all of your social media channels. Make variations that fit the audience and personality of each. The content should complement across channels, not be a copy. (1 topic = many short tweets or several Google+/Facebook updates)
  • Keep a consistent naming convention as you add content to your calendar so at a glance you know what’s coming up. For example: Blog-How to outline a short story; G+ meme on story plots. (Color coding works well too.)
  • Consider where you can use curated content so you’re not spending all of your writing time making social media content. Even Twitter, an admittedly a time-consuming channel, can be made manageable by using curated content tweets and a few pre-scheduled tweets to give you a 24-hour presence. Then when you are perusing your Twitter stream you can actually engage with friends and fans and not worry that the tweets promoting your blog posts and books are neglected.
  • Use themes to tie content together and help you generate ideas.

How Social Media Works

Have you ever been in the mall where you were constantly approached by someone with a sales pitch? How about that Sunday afternoon movie that was great until the 10-minute block of commercials? Not a good feeling. The reason the experience feels annoying is because you don’t have a relationship with the person pitching their products. Does this mean you build a social media relationship and then ask your new friends to buy your book?

Nope.

Building your audience on social media is about talking to people about common interests. Bring them something of value in exchange for their time. If they like your social posts, then they may click your profile and discover that you’re also a writer. If they like the type of books you write, then they may buy it.

Social Media doesn’t sell books directly. It’s getting to know people and creating opportunities for discoverability.

Last Word (I promise)

Editorial calendars can also be used to track your traditional book marketing.

  • Set a schedule of how many and how often you send queries to agents and publishers.
  • Schedule time for book signings and author events.
  • The best part — reward yourself with a day off just to write or attend a conference.

Your calendar is a visual of your writing life. Writing it down makes it easier to make it happen.