Category Archives: Book Marketing

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!

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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. 

#Bookish Instagram

img_1446I may be a late comer to this, but I had been under the impression that Instagram was all about pictures. I was wrong. It is a hub of communities and images are the common language.

In fact, there are rich communities passionate about reading and books and authors and anything even remotely related to words.

Head over to Instagram for a moment and search #bookish, #bookstagram or #booknerdigan. These are a few of the many hashtag communities thriving on book covers, artistic compositions of favorite titles, and rich word of mouth recommendations of what to read next.

A lot of authors are building their communities on Twitter and Facebook. But my Twitter feed seems to reach writers more than readers, and I’m too busy with social media for my day job to want to nurture a Facebook community larger than my immediate family. I wanted to connect with readers that love books the same way I do and have fun doing it. Because anything that is fun never feels like work.

bookblabpicI did the homework to find out how to launch on Instagram and build an audience quickly. It’s not gaming the system, it’s coming out of the gate with the foundational knowledge that minimizes the stumbles. I’m eight weeks in and @bookblab is still growing.

What I like about Instagram?

  • Once you know how to look, it’s easy to find like-minded book lovers to connect with.
  • You can post several images at a time and fill a whole day’s worth of content in a few minutes.
  • Visual content inspires written content.
  • The platform does not allow links in posts which discourages spammy content.

How To Grow Your Bookish Community

What’s in a name?
Start with a name for your account that says what you’re about. I knew I would be reposting a lot of content rather than creating original images to build a virtual library of beautiful books and titles readers recommend, so @Bookblab felt like a perfect fit from the start. Occasionally I post my own titles, but mainly I look for my favorites books and authors to promote. Whatever name you choose, you want it to be easy to remember.

instagramlogoGot the picture?

There are also image guidelines I follow. I look for content to reshare that is beautiful or unique, or a book cover that is exceptionally well done. If you browse similar accounts, you’ll see how lovingly some of these are composed. When you talk about a passion for reading, this is the community that builds the altar. Even if I like the book, if I don’t love the image, I don’t repost. Bookblab’s original images are usually tagged with my handle so if they are reshared, I get trackable credit to lead folks back to my account. This is easy to do using WordSwag from the app store.

Where are our manners?

As with all social sharing, etiquette is important. Reposts should be tagged as reposts with the creator credited. I also take it a step further and tag the creator’s account so they know I used their image. Often I get a follow back and some of my posts are reshared as the word of mouth variability of social media takes the content to new homes.

What’s the theme?

Make images relevant to your theme. I post only fiction titles, mainly mystery, suspense and Sci Fi/Fantasy. Staying within a theme helps people know what to expect and focuses your audience.
inst-bookblab-header

How & Where?

If you want to build a following quickly, you need to start off with a lot of posts, as many as 8-10 images a day for the first few weeks. This builds your content library quickly and makes your new account look not so new.

A few minutes of research will go a long way in finding your audience. Use Instagram’s search tool and type in keywords or hashtags for your theme. Pay attention to the hashtags others are using. Click to discover what type of content you’ll find with each. This reveals niches within the larger communities. If you post for family and fun, skip the hashtags. If you post for marketing or business you need these to get discovered.

Hanging Out

Like any social media platform, you need to hang out before venturing too far. Learn from the accounts that are successful in the same theme as you before diving into contests and challenges. Also, be honest with yourself and how much time you have to give to the platform. I find that when I’m on Instagram, I spend less time on Twitter. Is that good or bad? It’s a very different audience on both platforms, both equally important when maintaining a fan base. Once a foundation is built, you can spend time on one social network then another without overlapping or having to give something up.

I set a daily time limit for social media marketing, but I may be on a different platform from one day to the next to mix it up and keep it interesting. It appeals to my squirrel-like attention span.

I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and repost your beautiful #bookaholic images. Tag @Bookblab on your posts so it pops into my box and I’ll happily re-share. This is what Indie Authors do, we cross promote and share what we know so we can all get better at our craft and be successful.

If you have tips for Instagram or book marketing, please share in the comments below. Thanks for hanging out with me.

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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. 

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. 

How To Customize Social Media Share Options

HowToCustomizeSoMeShareOptions-JPGWRITER

Have you noticed how some blogs have interactive content? How about a line of text or an image that turns into a Tweet with a just a click?

It’s not a plugin or pricey add-on to your blog account, it’s simply code. Code even a right brain creative type can produce.

Twitter

It starts with the url.

Here’s an example:

https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=How%20to%20customize%20share%20options%20on%20Twitter%20via%20JudithGaines.com

Now give it a test run.

Want to add an image to your custom tweet?

Post the image on your feed, then cut the Twitter picture url and paste it to the end of your custom url. (Don’t forget to include %20 to add spaces.)

Let’s say you want to include a Tweet on your blog that readers click to Re-Tweet or Follow you? Publish your tweet, then find it in your feed and look for the stats bar underneath. Click on the ••• to bring up the menu as shown below.

TweetStats-JPGWRITER

Select ‘Copy link to Tweet’ and then simply paste it into your WordPress blog copy. This is what you get:

If your blogging platform supports embedding code, that’s another way to add a Twitter card to your site.

How else can you use this new power of sharing?

Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ also support sharing in the same manner. It’s all about the code. These networks will automatically pull text from your site to create the look of the card. All you need to do is add your url to the end of the codes below:

SocialSharing-JPGWRITER
Click to Tweet

ALWAYS test your share url so you know exactly what it will look like for your readers when they click.

FBShareImage-JPGWRITER
Click to Share on Facebook

By activating share buttons on your blog, you give readers an easy way to spread your content. When you give them the option to share within a post, impulse has the opportunity to take over while they are still enthralled with your insights and message.

So, at the end of the day sharing is less about technology and code, it’s psychology. It’s giving readers an easy way to connect, identify and share what they like while they’re in the moment.

If you found this helpful, please consider passing it along to friends and followers.

Have a great week!

Free Tools & Analytics That Show If Your Book Marketing is on Target

Finding Yr Audience DIY Book Mktg-2

This post was first published in January 2015. To make this more useful for you, I’ve added new content and tips. Thanks for reading. ~

Once you’ve published your novel, and perhaps setup a blog and started tweeting, how do you know who you’re reaching? How do you know if the content you publish is drawing them to your books and creating sales?

Without becoming a digital guru, you can discover a lot about your fans. Knowing their interests and understanding why they follow you will help you produce effective book marketing content.

If the information you uncover is surprising, then you have some work to do to attract an audience that will potentially become your raving fans. Consider that the folks reading your tweets and blog posts may be on the fence about buying your book(s) or perhaps they’re browsing a subject and your name appears in a search. They want to learn more. You can use the built-in analytics of your social media tools to learn what they want to know. Let’s take a look at Amazon Author Central, WordPress, and Twitter.

Amazon Author Central
AuthorCentralSalesGeographyCropped

Most often, you’re probably signing into Amazon KDP to look your sales stats. Once a month, or at least within the first two weeks after publishing your novel, login into Amazon Author Central and view your sales by Geography. You’ll see the U.S. with sections highlighted, the darker the area the more sales you have in these regions. This is calculated by Nielsen BookScan, which is estimated to cover 75% of all retail print sales.

Why is this important? Now you know where your audience lives and most importantly their time zone. This allows you to schedule blog posts, promotional tweets and content to when they will most likely see it.

WordPress

Yes, I know there are other blogging sites and services out there, but the tips here should still apply. It’s not the service provider, but the data provided in your stats and dashboard that you’ll find helpful. Here are the four things you’ll want to review.
WordpressTrafficMap

  • Pull up your stats summary and make note of which days of the week are getting the most traffic. Those are the days you should be posting.
  • How often are you posting? If you can look at six months to a year’s worth of site traffic you should see a natural ebb and flow of visitors. After a post has brought a boost in traffic, note how long it takes for the visitor traffic to slow down. This is your guide to how long you can pause between posts before losing repeat visitors. Aim to be on the leading edge of the timeline before your audience moves on.
  • Next, migrate to your posting summary and sort by most popular posts. This is where you get insights into what your audience likes. You may have written a post two years ago, but it’s still getting random traffic from web searches. It should be easy to look at the top ranking posts and identify the similarities in content. Now you know your sweet spot and can build your audience by writing to their interests.
  • If your dashboard gives a list of referrers, make note of who they are. Knowing where your traffic comes from lets you know how effective your marketing is on other sites. i.e. A lot of Twitter traffic shows your content posted there is working.

Bonus: These interests, and the comments on these posts, can help shape your fiction writing as well. Knowing who you’re writing for and weaving the story to hold their attention will help give your writing focus.

Twitter

If you’re using a Twitter management program like Hootsuite or Socialoomph, then you’re familiar with their stats and dashboards. They’re very good at showing follower counts and click-throughs. However, Twitter Analytics is a robust tool that gives unique insights into your audience demographic.

TwitterAnalyiticMenuCroppedTo begin, log onto Twitter with a web browser and click on your icon in the upper left corner. This gives you a menu which should include Analytics. If this is missing from your menu, Google Twitter Analytics while logged in and it will bring up the same screen.

At the top you’ll have a few choices: Tweets, Followers, Twitter Cards, and Tools. We’ll just consider the first two.

Tweets gives you an overview of followers over time. Below that you’ll see each tweet, how many impressions it had, and if anyone engaged with it. Impressions are the times the tweet was viewed by someone on Twitter. You may have several thousand followers, but they are not all looking at Twitter at the same time. Also, tweets come and go quickly on timelines. This means only a limited number of people will see your content at any given time. If your tweet gets shared, you’ll see the impressions increase. This is where the engagement comes in. Engagement is when another person either clicks your link or shares your content.

TwitterAnalyticEngagementSummaryCroppedWhy is this important? Knowing what times of the day have the most impressions can help you schedule tweets for the most viewers. Guy Kawasaki recommends tweeting your most important content four times within a twenty-four hour period. This ensures the most reach among your followers. Keeping these two points in mind can help you fine tune your timing.

Also, knowing what garners a click can help you know what works and what doesn’t work when you’re trying to get clicks to your point of purchase or website.

TwitterAnalyticFollowersCroppedThe second tab, Followers, gives you a list of your follower’s top interests. This tells you exactly why your they are

following you. Interests should match your writing genre and topics. It might even give you some insights into sub-genres that could play into your fiction writing. It even takes it a step further and tells you which states and countries make up your following, as well as their gender distribution.

Why is all of this important?

Put it all together and you know the gender, interests, location, the best time of day to reach your audience, and what content resonates with them most.

Your audience is made up of fans, people who have chosen to read what you write and seek out the content you provide. They are the fans who will talk about your blog posts and recommend your novel to friends. When you write a post or share a comment on Twitter you now know who you’re talking to, and that’s where a conversation begins.

Final Note

The only sure thing about marketing on social media networks is that it will keep changing. Your follower makeup will change. What works and doesn’t work will change. Data will give a you a leg up on trends and messaging so you can effectively reach your audience and when they move you can move with them.

Writing your novel is your art and craft. Selling your novel is business – be engaged. Listen, ask questions, and talk with your fans.

Have an idea or helpful insight? Leave a comment and help everyone market smarter:)

November 2015 Addendum

New resources are popping up every month with services to help you take the guesswork out of determining what readers want and make writing less stressful. Here are a few recommendations:

Buzzsumo – Check out the popularity of topics before writing your blog post. This is also helpful in seeing what new insights you can to existing trending topics.

RazorSocial – Ian Cleary’s site and newsletter is crammed with actionable marketing tips relevant to today’s authors. You’ll find information on tools that help with Content, Analytics and SEO to help your optimize your blog and author sites.

StoryboardThat – Lay out ideas, scenes or entire novels. This site helps you visualize the action.

Trello – One of my new favorites. This replaces the legal pad “To Do” list and post-it notes all around your computer. Get your tasks, goals and notes organized on a virtual board. Site supports more than one board. I have one for my work life and one for my writing life. There’s also a handy mobile app that syncs to the site. Evernote is similar – the only difference is matter of preference.

Sococo – Virtual office. How does this help? Imagine you have a team of writers for a publication that work remotely or you collaborate on novels. Sococo gives you a virtual meeting space where you can video conference face to face and share screens. When it’s on, all you have to do is talk and the other folks there can hear you, unless of course you’re in one of the private conference rooms.

Bonus Tip – Metadata counts. Whether it’s the category and product description for your book on Amazon (or other sites), or the descriptions and setting of your blog, the words that make it easy for search engines to connect readers to your site play a big part in discoverability. Take the next 20 minutes and strengthen every word, every category connection and every link that takes readers to your book.

Have a tip? An idea? A helpful new tool for writing & marketing? Leave a comment and let’s crowdsource smarter ways to reach readers.

Thanks.

 

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. 

 

How to Look Like a Pro Day One on Twitter

DIY Book Mktg

Don’t be an egg.Look Like A Twitter Pro

  • Customize your header, add a profile picture and make your bio relevant to your audience. Studies show that using your face as your profile image increases followers & engagement.

Character counts.

  • Keep tweets under 110 characters.
  • This increases the likelihood it will be re-shared. RT’s tack on up to 20 additional characters to a tweet. Keeping the original content short means users do not have to edit your content to get the RT under 140. Obstacles = No Sharing. Editing is an obstacle, plus you have no control over how your content is changed.

Use #hashtags appropriately.

  • Don’t hijack a trending hashtag just to get impressions. This can get you into serious trouble if you don’t know the meaning or origin of the #.
  • If a word in your content is a high search term, give that word a hashtag as it appears in the tweet. i.e. “#SocialMedia is a high search term on #Twitter.”
  • If you are participating in a conversation or event that has an official hashtag, USE IT. This helps others find your content.

Use search to find your audience.

  • Looking to converse with Maserati lovers? Search #Maserati, or one of their models, to find folks talking about this topic. #Hashtags in their tweets will clue you in on where their conversation is and lead you to more followers like them.
  • Your Twitter Analytics will show you if your followers are the same folks you set out to find.
  • Follow to be followed.

Make content actionable.

  • Tweets need a call to action too. What action do you want followers to take? Click a link, watch your business’ video, follow you, download your content from a site, sign up for service? Links, images and video are all ways to get followers to engage with you.
  • Twitter Analytics will tell you in great detail what actions happened that are viewable to everyone on Twitter as well as the Follows, profile expands and url clicks only you can see.
  • FYI – the lifespan of an average Tweet is 1 hour. That is why quality content is so important it increases your chance of getting a re-tweet and extending your social reach.

    What is the average lifespan of a Tweet?
    Click image to Tweet.

Sound like you.

  • Be yourself. Followers like humans, not marketing robots.
  • Be helpful, never spammy
  • If you want another person’s followers to see your comment or reply, add . before the @ in their Twitter handle. i.e. “.@Cool_Dude51 Thanks for the advice on social etiquette.”
  • Lurk on #TwitterChats until you feel comfortable joining in. Twitter chats are a fun way to meet people passionate about a particular topic. #FlipboardChat #BrandChat #IndieChat #NostalgiaChat #etc.
  • Say Thank You for Retweets, acknowledge those that favorite your content, then go and do the same for them.

Use Twitter Ads to schedule embedded media content.

  • Even if you don’t pay to promote content or find new followers, you can use this section of Twitter to schedule native media posts. Native images and video are displayed more prominently in feeds, which gets your content noticed.
  • If you decide to pay for Twitter promotion, match your campaign to what you’re trying to accomplish to ensure the quality of the engagement is aligned to your long-term goals.

Understand theJpgWriter-Twitter-Analytics-2 reality of followers vs. impressions.

  • Your tweet has the potential to be seen by all of your followers.
  • Your tweet is actually seen only by the followers actively looking at their twitter stream when your content publishes. Out of 500 followers, your tweet may be seen by as little as 15 people. Some days I get great impressions and engagement, other days I get goose eggs. That’s why it’s important to repeat tweets and tweet often to reach your followers and to help new people find you.

 Use 3rd party apps to maintain your sanity.

  • Do not try to keep up with live tweeting all day everyday. This is a sure-fire way to make you hate Twitter and wish you never jumped into social media.
  • 3rd Party apps like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Socialoomph, Klout, Buffer, etc (you get the idea) allow you to schedule the tweets you want to share so when you go onto Twitter later, you have time for replying to comments and engaging in conversation.
  • This is the best way to take a weekend off from social or take a vacation without going dark online. There’s always time to catch up on thanking others for RT’s and comments when you return. After all, they’re human too and also take breaks – you just don’t notice because they scheduled their tweets.

Before jumping into conversations or trending hashtags, keep this in mind:

Are you adding value to the conversation or are you adding noise? Is your comment relevant or intrusive?

Social media is experienced through mobile phones, tablets and computers, but there are still real people on the receiving end. (Yes, I’m sure there are more real people than bots.) Behave the same as you would at any live gathering, with the same good manners, helpfulness and tweet unto others as you would have them tweet unto you. Find your comfort zone and be yourself.

If you found this list helpful, please consider sharing.

Thanks,

@jpg_writer

Flipboard for Authors & Bloggers

FlipboardForAuthorsBloggers-JudithGainesIf you follow me on Twitter, you know that lately I’ve been playing with Flipboard, an app that allows you to aggregate online content into custom digital magazines. This content is composed of websites, news sites, blogs, and social media.

Flipboard launched on iOS in 2010, went through rounds of development which included the addition of Android, and has now launched a web version. Simply, the creation and consumption is now available to anyone on any device. You can read a brief history on the company here.

Why do I like Flipboard?Flipboard-Logos

I first encountered the app on iPad and loved that I could read feeds from Twitter and Facebook in a magazine format. The graphical layout is clean and building mags around topics was easy and intuitive. But over time, as with all things, I got distracted, it wasn’t top of mind and I migrated to other apps. Then recently came across #FlipboardChat on Twitter. A quick search brought up tons of conversations which got me thinking how about Fipboard could be useful for so much more than I originally imagined.

Flipboard Basics

As with most social platforms, you’ll need to set up an account. You can use existing social media profiles from Twitter, Facebook or Google+ for quick sign-in and to make keeping up with passwords easier.

Next, select topics of interest to create your first Flipboard mag. As you click selections, more topics will appear. Once you’ve added All of your favorite topics, you can click DONE at JPG_FlipboardSelectionthe bottom of the page. Now you’ll be redirected to your personalized magazine. The process inside the app and online are similar enough to be self-guided. Privacy settings allow you to either keep your content to yourself or make it public.

With Flipboard, you are not limited to one magazine. You can throw all your interests into one collection or create separate titles. You can  Flipboards from other members, and if you find an article intriguing, you can LIKE it or “Flip” it into one of your own magazines.

Creating Flipboards for a purpose.JPG_FlipboadMags

Curate Content – A good portion of my blog posts are either about writing or the business of being a writer, so it was natural to want to curate content from around the web that builds on these topics. Forgive me if you’ve already come to this conclusion, but I realized quickly that a curated Flipboard mag is a perfect extension to a blog or web site. Readers who like the content on your site will appreciate that you’ve taken time to collect more viewpoints on the same topics and put them in one easy to access location and format.

But don’t limit yourself there. Do you have a main character with a passion for race cars? Vintage clothes? Art, perhaps? You can create mags from their point of views to add personality beyond your novel for fans to enjoy.

Add a few of your own interests too. Writers are a complex collection of eclectic interests. It’s okay to show you like tree house architecture; some of your followers may like it too.

Research

Novels don’t write themselves and the ideas that bring them together often come from lots of research. My own WIP includes a  lot of information on art FlipboardJudieGaineshistory and WWII, apartment layouts and maps of downtown Chicago. What better way to get a feel for nightlife in another city then reading about news and events that help add vivid detail to the story. It becomes a resources for you, as well as readers, who want to learn more about your work.

What are your ideas? What stories and interests do you want to collect? Cookbooks? Travelogues? Go take a “flip” in your character’s shoes and have fun.

 

Book Marketing: Creating & Using Infographics For Social Media

DIY Book Mktg-CreatingAndUsingInfographics

I think it was around 1993. Having settled down to the computer, a super fast P-90, I opened AOL and navigated to my favorite site, a web forum for Highlander fans. It was early social networking: all text, lots of imagination (like you wouldn’t believe), and key words ruled if you wanted to find anything. (Insert sounds of modem dialing.)

I’m not sure how long it took for the text-based interweb to transform to rich media, likely because adding images and video seemed like such a natural progression of the medium. If Blakestone could have sharp graphics, then so could everyone else.

Why should social media be any different?

It’s not.

In March, Social Media Marketing World declared 2015 the year of native video. In addition, media loaded directly to applications such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and multitudes more are getting preferential treatment. Images are displayed larger with PLAY icons ready to stream content. Video may also appear in Facebook feeds sooner than text only updates.

Twitter 27APR2015Have you noticed your social streams coming alive with rich links that show images and perhaps a summary of a blog post? Are you seeing more video in your feeds? With so much social sharing, text posts are getting lost. Visual posts are squirrels pulling audiences to the side to entertain, inform and educate.

Blog posts that are large blocks of text get skimmed or skipped. There’s a reason glossy magazines have images, lists, bullet points, and lots of white space. It’s not an accident, it’s years of experience and training in the hands of a graphic designer with the purpose of making the words easier on the eye and mind of the reader.

Enter the age of the infographic.Willy Wonka Infographic

You know those clever digital posters that step you through instructions or ideas, and plot the history of something that otherwise would not be very engaging. Another upward trending phrase for these is “snackable content”.

Infographics create white space on your blog page and provide a snackable image to share and entice readers to your content.

You don’t need a graphic designer to have designer looking graphics. There are many free sites that allow you to make your own memes, post headers and info graphics using their templates. If you can fill in the blanks, you can add easy to share images to any post on any platform.

Wouldn’t it be great if your blog post had Pinterest worthy images?

Let’s get started.

How To Build an Infographic-2

Start with a very messy draft of what you want to say. It can take any form: thought bubbles, lists, annotated outline – any form that helps you put your thoughts on paper.

For the next step, I find using a highlighter makes finding the most relevant points fast and visual.

Refine your notes and put each step in the best logical order to help another person understand what you want to share.

Keep trimming your text until it is as concise as possible and still makes sense. The layout and associated images will help convey the rest of the meaning.

So how do you ACTUALLY make an infographic?

If you have a graphics editor program like PhotoShop or Gimp, and feel comfortable starting from scratch, then you’re on your way. Look at top blogs and magazine layouts for inspiration of what makes a page highly readable.

If you need a little help or want to save time, here are a few websites that can help.

Google - How to make an infographic.

A web search is a great way to discover what’s available. New sites and programs are launching all the time to help with creating social worthy graphics.

What content makes a sharable infographic?Copy Icon

  1. Key Point(s) – By setting aside a line or key point as a graphic, you draw attention to it that’s fast and readable in seconds.
  2. Bullet Points –  These are perfect for Pinterest & Twitter shares linking back to your post.
  3. Book promotions & Launches – Lay out the buying process or how to find your titles. Got a series? Show all your titles & covers so readers recognize them when they go to buy.
  4. Lists (Take your next “Best Of” to a new level)
  5. Instructions & How To’s

Why do they work?

Let’s break it down.

WHICH DO YOU PREFER

At a glance, which one will give you a split-second impression of what you’re about to read?

In our busy world, our brains are trained to scan for what’s relevant. We make snap decisions without even being aware that we’re doing it. Your next tweet, post, caption will be judged in under :03 seconds. If you have video you may get up to :07 seconds to win a person’s attention.

Graphics break up your blog page and give the eye somewhere to rest, preferably on the key information you want to convey.

In an endless social media stream of reality TV updates and spam tweets, a custom image will catch the eye of your audience and draw them to follow your link.

Infographics gives your audience relevant, usable, SNACKABLE content at a glance.

Do you know a great site for making memes or web graphics? Have a time-saving tip in your back pocket? Leave a comment and share your ideas.

Have a great weekend!

 

Book Marketing: How to Take Readers on a Guided Tour of Your Work

imageLast year I viewed a webinar hosted by a leading professional advertising organization about the neuroscience of marketing. I’ve also spent some time reading up on studies by behavioral psychologist about what makes us do the things we do … and how to use this basic nature to guide marketing.

Over and over, the same messages emerged:

image

This should sound familiar. This is what writing and art instructors have been teaching since the beginnings of communication. Cave paintings draw your eyes from the charging warriors to the doomed buffalo; Juliet’s pain staggers us to her doomed fate with Romeo.

Communication is a journey. We take our readers from the beginning to the end. We plot the connections that draw their attention to our main characters faults that will eventually lead them to trouble. We use descriptions of color and setting to evoke emotions and focus what we want our readers to see and feel.

Take a moment to pick up a favorite book and read a paragraph or  two. Do you see the intentional direction the author takes you?

As you write your first draft of fiction, you’re already layering in some of these subliminal impressions. It’s such an inherent part of our nature and how humans have evolved, we hardly notice we’re doing it. I think storytellers, writers like you, have a stronger ability to do this than most. By paying attention to these elements of emotion, description and creating the reader’s empathy with the character, you are enriching their experience and taking them exactly where you want them to go.

You see, if you control the story you control the perception.

The aforementioned study shared that 99% of brain processing happens below the conscious level of awareness. This is the reader’s sweet spot.

HOW IS THIS RELATED TO BOOK MKTG

Details. Every bit of skill you use to engage readers with your novel you’ll also need to use to engage them with the promotional copy that sells it.

Prime the subconscious to help that 1% of their consciousness regard your book favorably and nudge the buying decision in your favor.

These are the guideposts you need to help readers navigate as they decide if they want to buy your book.

book iconBook Cover: Quality matters. Books are judged by their cover, and this is not the place to skimp if you want to be taken seriously as a professional author. Book covers can range from $50 to several hundred depending on who you work with and their skill level as a graphic designer. If your budget is tight, try Canva.com where you can choose a well designed e-book cover template to customize. The layout should compliment viewing as a thumbnail with the title prominent and easy to read, and your name clear and easy to read. The composition should pull the eye from the title to your name either by the layout of the type or the color choices. There should be sufficient contrast so the type does not disappear into the background image. If you’re planning to do it yourself, there are dozens of great articles online that explain the basics of book cover design.

Short Product Description: Simply sum up your book in 5 sentences. Then tighten it up to one really solid line that has a hook, gives a sense of what the book is about (genre), and what experience the reader can expect. Memorize this line – you now have the perfect elevator pitch.

Long Product Description: Your full product description will begin with the sharply written short form and then add on to expand on what’s exciting about your story. Build a sense of what your main character will face (remember empathy – you want the reader to empathize with the protagonist), and add a few enticing details. Product descriptions are not plot summaries. Their job is to build anticipation. Just as you cut the short version down, do the same here. Extra words get in-between the reader and the message. Ad copy is concise. Watch a TV commercial and see how much the advertiser has to convey in 30-seconds. You bet there was a copywriter hacking words with the delete key to make it fit without sounding rushed.

eye iconVisibility: You’re being smart about how you market your book so of course you have it on your blog, maybe even have a separate page dedicated to your books. Your book cover images need to be on every page. Make them part of your template set up in the side bar so it’s visible on every page view. The image should be linked to your Amazon or B&N page for impulse buying, and give helpful suggestions like “Download Sample & Read Now”. Every so often, recheck that your links are valid. Changes you make to your point of purchase page may alter the link leading to the dreaded 404 Missing Page error.

Just like your book cover, the layout of your blog page should pull the reader’s eyes through the information you want them to notice. They may not buy, but at least they are aware of the opportunity. It’s also a great way to tell them you are an author without constantly telling them you’re an author.

See, marketing isn’t evil. It’s just connecting a need or desire (for books) with a solution or product (your book).

MORE  TIPS ON  ENGAGING BEHAVIOR

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Now it’s time to “Doctor, heal thyself”. I recently tweaked my blog theme and layout, but I’m not done. I know my product descriptions could be better, so I’ll be working on those this week.

Thanks for hanging out with me, and if you found this information helpful, please consider sharing via the handy icons below:)

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.

 

Content Curation

DIY Book Marketing

DIY Book Mktg _ Content Curation _ Judith GainesNow that you’ve gotten to know your audience by looking at their interests in your Twitter Analytics and chatting via social media, it’s time to give the relationship more value. This is where curating content to share is a win-win proposition.

Blogs and social media posts demand a lot of content and if you don’t plan ahead they also demand a lot of time. Everyone is short on time, including your followers.

By finding online content that feeds their interests you…

  • Save them time by giving them what they want
  • Save yourself time by sharing great content that compliments what you already post
  • Makes you a source for great content – thus your posts get noticed and appreciated

5 Destinations For Sharable Content

Online Search

  1. Type in keywords that match your blog topic or writing genre.
  2. Narrow the scope of your results by adding more words to the search string. These are known as long tail searches.

For example, type “mystery writing” and you get this About 126,000,000 results (0.37 seconds) There’s bound to be something here of interest to you and your followers.

Google Alerts

Harness the power of Google’s search engine to do the work for you. Setup a simple 1-time search and have your topics delivered to your inbox. I have several set up to monitor news on art theft and WWII art crimes using variations on search terms. You get to decide how frequently you want these delivered – daily, weekly, or monthly.

Note: This is also a good way to “listen” for online mentions of your name (pen names) & titles.

Alltop.com

Search a wide range of topics and get a list of top websites and blogs with the latest articles. (Thank you to Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick for this suggestion from their new book The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users.

Not only will you find great content, this is a good resource for researching current topics relevant to your writing.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.38.45 PM

Recommended Blogs

Check your blog host’s main page for trending and top blogs. WordPress shares recommended blogs based on tags used on your own site. Their Press This feature also allows you to easily share posts to your page.

StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc.

These services are social networking for websites. You tag what you like and share it, and then others do the same. What forms is a resource of recommended links already vetted by a discerning  audience.

What’s the point?

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned book promotion. Everything in these last few posts have covered discovering and understanding your audience, and then giving them great content.

Spam is bad. Lately I’ve noticed an uptick in authors pitching their book links on Twitter. It seems like a constant stream with no conversation or relationship building. If people like your content they’ll naturally want to know who you are, click on your profile, and see that you’re an author. That’s the funnel that leads them to your point of sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

By posting interesting content that feeds your audience’s interests you increase traffic and are discovered by new readers who may love your titles. Think of content marketing as an introduction, “Hi, my name is ___ .”

What’s next?

SharingI’ll take you through the steps to set up an Editorial Calendar and explain how to figure out what to do when. Having a plan means you’ll spend less time thinking and more time doing. That’s time given back to you to write your novel while still managing to work a day job, fold laundry, and cook a meal (or at least order a pizza).

Your Turn

Share your favorite methods of finding and sharing content. How are you breaking through the discoverability barrier?

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