Think about a spiderweb. The intricacies of the design where threads reach out and appear to grab and lead the eye towards the middle of the web.
This is the way you should think when you’re building your author website. Your social media (Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, Business cards, bookmarks, you get the idea) serve as those tiny threads. At the center should be your website. You want to lead your potential viewers to your little hobbit hole on the internet.
Day 19 of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) offers ways you can do just that. BookWorks wrote a magnificent article on what it takes to draw attention to your website.
The Insider’s Guide to Author Websites: Set Your Foundation
An author website is the foundation upon which you build your platform. We asked BookWork’s Web Lead, Tyler Doornbos, to share his insider’s perspective on what that should entail…
(Adapted from The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guidecreated by BookWorks founder Betty Kelly Sargent and Joel Friedlander, “The Book Designer,” and winner of the 2017 Silver IPPY in Reference Book category) At this point, you’ve heard the endless refrain: you need a website. Probably for years now. I won’t reiterate it. It feels a little 2008 to even be mentioning it. What’s worth mentioning, however, is what your website needs. The independent author sphere is saturated with bad design and marketing—from unintentionally hilarious book covers to websites that look like refugees from the wreckage of Geocities—and you don’t want to add to it. But it goes much deeper than that. Design isn’t just how your website looks, but what it does (to very loosely paraphrase Steve Jobs), and you have to do more than just have something out there. It needs to be as remarkable as your book.
Here we go again with the whole marketing thing. Heck yes! Marketing is scary, intimidating and is so easy to lose so much money if one doesn’t follow a…wait for it……PLAN! We know, we’ve done it with some our earlier titles.
Well, one of our favorite gurus, Frances Caballo has just the cure to the marketing blues as part of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) Day 13. Check out Ms. Caballo’s article for some really good advice on how to prepare for book marketing.
Juicy excerpt alert:
Book marketing involves so many steps. When people come to me, they erroneously think that all they need is social media marketing.
Social media alone won’t cause your books to start flying off the proverbial bookshelf. So, take this quiz and see if you’re ready to tackle book marketing on your own.
Frances Caballo, author of Social Media Just for Writers
Find more about Frances Caballo at her links below:
Marketing can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. Trust us, we’ve been there. We know how you feel. Breaking it down into a marketing plan can help ease some of strain, especially for Indie and self-published authors. Here’s the kicker, bashing people over the brain with “buy my book” tweets is NOT the way to go.
Often times, as authors, we forget that our readers are people too. As part of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson), Maureen Joyce Connolly offers ways to make your marketing plan successful. Check out the full article here:
And to get you interested:
The very core of my approach was to learn as much about launching a book as quickly as possible, to compile a strategy and to execute it with support if I needed, but for me to be the driver of my plan. I also understood instinctively, that I would need to identify my personal strengths and use them to my advantage since I had no social media presence – nada, zip – as my business had flourished via referrals. In the social media arena, I wasn’t starting from the ground floor; I was starting in the basement. But I have a bulldozer work ethic and creativity. Two killer strengths.
Maureen Joyce Connolly, author of Little Lovely Things
So many times, we receive questions about what it means when we say that the author is a brand, not a book. We have written on this in the past but are pleased to see it brought back up as a part of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson).
Authors, whether you want to admit it or not, you are a brand. Do not fall into the trap of riding the coat-tails of a single title. Like the iPhone (and many other pieces of technology) a book title has a lifespan. Let it live it and move on but make your face (or name if you’re a recluse) the reason people know you.
Jackie Cioffa does an amazing job at keeping things real when it comes to book marketing in this article.
As always, here’s an excerpt:
When Bad Redhead Media’s Rachel Thompson reached out to me to write a post about promoting and marketing my books, my immediate thought was is she kidding? I have been an avid follower and fan of Rachel for nearly a decade, trying to emulate her badass self-publishing skills and as much of her marketing expertise as I could.
When I finished the manuscript for my third novel, The Red Bench, and began hyperventilating, I knew I needed guidance. I turn into a toddler when it comes to all things promotion and marketing related. I reached out inquiring about a possible formatting contact, and Rachel kindly suggested Barb Drozdowich, from Bakerview Consulting, a wizard who turned my pulp fiction into an exquisitely formatted memoir.
I never quite understood what Rachel said over and over about the author is a brand, not the book until the release of The Red Bench, and the importance of building social media relationships, engaging, interacting, and not solely about your book. I had tried countless promos in the past with The Vast Landscape and Georgia Pine. I used Freebooksy, BookBub, Amazon Giveways, MailChimp, BookMarketing Tools—all with moderate success, yet becoming more and more frustrated.
Blogging is something we’ve found works wonders in growing an audience. It shows that authors are more than books with a body. It shows we’re human and that we like to share content we don’t charge for.
Here at FyreSyde, we preach to our authors to always and we mean ALWAYS have free, EVERGREEN content. What is evergreen content? It’s content that will always be relevant to someone.
Now, something we get a lot of (and we mean A LOT of) is “I don’t know what to blog about.” As authors, your first reaction is probably to go straight for the jugular right? You write books, why not talk books? The truth is, just because you’re an author, it doesn’t mean you have to talk books and writing. We will have a segment on this in our future posts.
For now, enjoy this excerpt from Shaunta’s post:
Building an audience is one of the hardest parts of being a writer. It’s hard for a lot of reasons. We want to create. We don’t want to be marketers. It feels weird and wrong to sell these stories that we’ve poured our hearts and souls into. We want to just write our books and leave the rest up to fate.
Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. At least not most of the time. For most of us, building an audience and learning how to interact with that audience is an important part of our job.
Readers, we know we are behind but fear not, we will be bringing you the amazing information from NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) up until the very last day.
How would it feel if you could sell your book in 20 seconds? Does that sense of elation make your spine tingle? Well, look no further than this article by Sharon Goldinger. She offers some amazing ways both fiction and non-fiction authors can pitch their book in very little time.
Excerpt: (of course)
Picture this: You’re in an elevator, your book cupped in your hand, the title clearly visible to the other person in the elevator. While riding from floor 1 to floor 19, she asks, “What is From Fat to Fit about? You respond: “You’ll be inspired by the amazing Community Meltdown, which motivated 1,000 people to have fun while losing 8,000 pounds in 8 weeks, and my personal story as I went from fat to fit and lost 62 pounds.” When the elevator lands at her stop, she says, “Sounds great. I’ve got to get a copy.”
Who knew using sites like bit.ly could help an author brand themselves? Apparently GeniusLink has some really good advice in the latest installment of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson).
Trust us, you do not want to miss the information in this article. We are definitely going to implement some of these things on our marketing team.
Below is an excerpt of what you can expect from this amazing article:
Do you know what harder working links are and how they can help you with your marketing and even sales? As an author, you hear about a lot of great ways to maximize your income from your published work. Unfortunately, most advice around implementing new, or optimizing existing revenue is somewhat time intensive and often means taking something off your plate to make room for trying something new. Don’t get me wrong, experimenting and continuously trying new things is essential, but we are big fans of mastering the fundamentals first and picking the lowest hanging fruit. One of those things we’d consider a marketing fundamental is the links you use in your marketing. You know, those things that actually take someone interested in your literary work and gives them a way to act on that interest and purchase your book. We are a bit biased of course, but we think the link is the most critical piece of any promotion (though a great call to action, solid copy, and an enticing visual are good contenders). It’s likely you already use links in every marketing and promotional project you work on. But stop for a second and ask, “Is that link working for you as hard as it could be?” Let me quickly introduce you to what we call “intelligent links,” the hardest working links on the internet. These aren’t the links you copy out of your browser window or a shortened bit.ly links, but rather supercharged links that can help you sell more books and unlock a new stream of revenue. And the best part is that you are already doing the hard and time-consuming work, swapping in the use of “intelligent links” doesn’t take much extra time at all.
Day 3 of NaNoProMo is all about pitching, written by our own Blaise Ramsay. Pitching can be daunting, especially when you’re not sure what constitutes as a strong pitch. Maybe you’re not sure what an elevator pitch is or how a pitch is different from a query letter.
Let’s talk about your pitch today. The publishing world is a struggle. With agents receiving multiple submissions from multiple authors, it is easy for your manuscript to get lost in the author’s proverbial nightmare: the “slush pile.” As a publishing company and as professional book reviewers who request a pitch, often times we see the author sending us things like reviews or rewards the author’s book has received. This is not what an agent, publisher or book reviewer wants or needs immediately when asking for a pitch.
Recently, FyreSyde Publishing has been working to open up submissions to help authors looking for representation. Though we do not require agents (yet), we do expect an elevator pitch prior to receiving a query letter. For #NaNoProMo 2019, we are delighted to bring authors a better understanding of what a pitch is, how you can properly write an elevator pitch and provide some steps on how you can write an award-winning pitch that can land you an agent.
Blaise Ramsay, author of the paranormal romance Blessing of Luna
Let’s face it, speaking for authors in general can be pretty daunting, especially if you’re one of those who freezes up in front of people. For day 2 of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson), Paul Geiger offers a way that could help ease the stress of speaking.
Most authors will admit they write a lot better than they speak. (I happen to write the same way I speak – but I’m only developing one character here.) Most people, in general, don’t even like the sound of their own voice. Couple that with a little nervousness when being interviewed about your book and you’re in for a bumpy and unpredictable ride. Any time you let the word out that you’ve got a big promotional opportunity, you will inevitably receive a lot of well-intentioned advice: “Be yourself.” “Just speak the way you write. You’ll be great!” “Show them how smart you are.” “Take a deep breath and go for it.” Your friends and family mean well but, ultimately, you’re still left with no answers. The better action plan for how to talk about your book has only three parts: Discover your bumper sticker. Leverage your forward momentum. Know how to close the loop.
NaNoProMo by BadRedHeadMedia is upon us. Throughout the month of May, FyreSyde will endeavor to keep you up to date on this amazing event hosted by Rachel Thomson, a leading name in the publishing industry. Day 1 revolves around why you should be running your writing like a business by Leigh Shulman.
Due to the rise of self and indie publishing, it has become all the more easy for authors to write, publish and market their own work. However, more often than not, many of these authors fail. Why is that?
Because they refuse to see themselves as a brand and not a book. That is what you are when you decide to move from writing for a hobby to publishing your first novel.
To quote Leigh herself:
Simply said, when you run your writing like a business, you create more space to share your work in the most authentic way possible. Building a business plan for your writing begins with one question. “What do you want to write?”
***Before I get to the juicy stuff, let’s get some housecleaning done. Be sure you read all the way to the bottom for some ways you can access to exclusive content not available to the public. If this is your first time joining us, we here at FyreSyde are a husband and wife duo who made the decision we wanted to offer a community to help our creative entrepreneurs, readers, bloggers and authors alike. Blaise’s book, Blessing of Lunacan be found on Amazon in audiobook, paperback and eBook with the second book in the series, Bane of Tenebris, due to be released in July of 2019. If you would like to sign up for the launch team and receive a free digital copy of the book, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Launch Team” in the subject line.***
So, as you have probably noticed if you have any presence in the writing community or social media in general, you are noticing the term Preptober being used all over the place.
One simply does not walk into Twitter and not see this hashtag haunting the pages.
What Is Preptober?
Simply put, Preptober is a month authors of all kinds and genres use to prepare for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In this four part series, I hope to help give you ways you can benefit the most from Preptober. If you’re stuck on how to schedule preptober in a way you find helpful, check out this helpful little schedule sheet.
What You Can Look Forward To:
To get your feet wet in what I’m planning, here’s a rundown:
Part 1 – Deciding what to write
Part 2 – Mind mapping v. Outlining v. Pantsing
Part 3 – Deciding an outline method
Part 4 – Fleshing out your outline
Without further hesitation, let’s get this show on the road.
If you’ve done NaNoWriMo then you know the goal is to begin a brand new project with the end goal of publishing it either traditionally, self-publishing or indie publishing.
It Gets Us All: The Question
Many authors struggle with this first question: What should I write? What genre is popular? What if the story I have doesn’t sell? I’m going to ask you to put away the question of popularity and selling and focus only on the story you, the author, wants to tell.
To figure it out, ask yourself these questions:
What’s something you have either in your mind or written in a journal somewhere that you’ve always wanted to write but haven’t for any number of reasons?
What story is going to keep you interested?
What are you passionate about?
Which one can you finish fastest?
By figuring out these questions, you’ve already helped yourself decide on a story you want to dedicate time and energy to. If you can’t answer these questions or fear you might get distracted, take a step back and write a few scenes.
Isn’t Writing before NaNo Cheating?
Believe it or not this isn’t cheating. Writing out a few scenes can help you get a feel for the characters you’re fixing to spend the next month with. Develop some locations, a music playlist, and some character sheets.
You may find you’re still stuck and that’s perfectly fine! Now is the time to catch up on your To Be Read List (TBR List) to get some inspiration. Reach for your favorite movies, play your favorite games (if you’re a gamer) and listen to your favorite music. You may just need to refill your think tank.
Once you know what you want to write, give yourself a few short sentences to describe your story. This is what we call an elevator pitch but I’ll cover more on that in a later post.
Never give up! There’s a story inside of you, you just may have to really dig deep to find it!
BEFORE YOU GO! PLEASE READ ON!
Thank you so much for joining us this week. We are so excited to share this series with you and hope it helps during these next two months. We invite you to sign up for our newsletter and receive not one but two free eBooks as a thank you! We will never spam you!
As we mentioned above, we’re offering exclusive content only available to those who support us on Patreon. Why Patreon? Because it’ll help us reach our goals of putting out printing compilations, extras and eventually publishing opportunities to authors struggling to either start or are desperately looking to avoid the slush piles of bigger publishing houses.
We welcome you to join us twice a week on our Twitch channel where you can get to know us on a more personal basis, watch as we work, play video games and chat with our readers live! As of now we’re aiming for 7 – 9PM CST Wednesdays and Sundays!
If you have the time and want to find some wonderful folks who can help you design the perfect eye-catching book cover, please drop by our friends at Damonza.com. Use the code, FYRESYDE to get 5% off your purchase! We use no one but this team of dedicated professionals for all of our book covers.
Had trouble with Word losing your files? Want a place you can plan, outline, have your character sheets, research, etc? Look no further than Scriviner. Trusted by our authors for almost a year, Scriviner is available wherever you need it to be. Now as an app! Click the links for Macor Windows.
If you would like to write for us, please get in touch with us at email@example.com! We would love to talk with you!
“It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” (ie an author’s laptop/PC/Desktop)
Okay, we all know the famous quote above. But I digress. Why I used it is because for some strange reason, we author types (especially us indie published types), have a tendency to avoid our fellow man. Why do I say that? Because until recently, I had the same tendency. We hide behind our laptops and delve into the world of social media, book promo sites, book blitzes and blog tours and still we hope to hit the best-selling list overnight.
Now, before you jump on the “But Blaise, what about so-and-so?” or “What about e-commerce?” band-wagon; let me elaborate because this is something I have heard coached to me by many business coaches in many different seminars. Social media is critical in growing an online presence but it should NOT be your only point of contact.
If you don’t believe what I say is true, I can go further. As an indie game concept artist, I had the privilege of speaking to a character designer for Marvel, yes that Marvel. In the skype call he told me two things:
1) Always keep your social media updated frequently
2) Start attending conventions
To go on, an author I love and is possibly the greatest influence on my own journey, you’ve heard me mention her before, Kristen Martin says that attending book related events is a great way to build your author platform because you are putting yourself face to face with potential readers, other authors and publishers to learn from them.
Those are not your exact words, I know, Kristen.
Without further ado, here are five reasons why I think that events are crucial to building your platform.
Gives your readers a face: How many of us get a thrill from meeting our inspirations face to face? To get to actually talk to them about their accomplishments or ask them their advice or comment on their books. How many of us like to get our books signed in person and shake their hands? I know for me, that is an amazing feeling because it reminds me that the goals I’ve set are possible because so many times they tell me that they felt the same and went through the same trials and doubts. Your readers will be the same. They want to meet you, talk to you, get their books signed personally and learn from you.
Chance to meet some mentors: Not only can you meet your heroes, but you can network with authors that want to mentor and read your work. They are willing or can point you towards potential referrals or possibly network you with the company (if they’re traditionally published) that they published with. Do not be naggy or begging about it but it is a possibility. You can ask editors questions and learn what they look for so you can edit your next manuscript or receive discounts on their services. The possibilities are endless.
Huge Network Opportunity: Guys, you’ve heard so many say it, I know you have. Networking is crucial for book sales and marketing. I have learned this through so many authors and business webinars that it is not even funny. Conventions and book festivals are an amazing way to meet new authors, potential returning clients and contacts for your books and blogs. Yes, social media is great for turn-around and growing email lists but how hard are you working when you could spend the money you spend on Facebook ads to go out to the convention or festival and manually do what Facebook pays people to do. For example, my last ad campaign for Blessing of Luna reached over 300 people. Sounds great, right? I thought that too until almost all of those reached were paid to click and address ads. Talk about a let down. Budget the post boosting and splurge on the cons and festivals.
Inspiration time: You want to talk about a plethora of inspiration? Events like cons and festivals are always full of groups of people who don’t know each other from Adam or Eve but get together and talk about common hobbies, strategies that worked for them or guys, can we say book swaps? Guest blog post opportunities? Maybe even a blog tour? Book blitzes? And these folks might be willing to do it if you do it for them. Why would you not want to meet and greet these folks? Book ideas abound, collab opportunities. Everything you read about in self-publishing blogs for marketing is just 100$ away or you can sometimes get early bird specials if you sign up early.
Scouting opportunities: Guys, this is a big one. Huge. Almost every convention you go to, there are scouting opportunities. Publishing companies, editors, freelancers, etc are all there. They are looking. You actually get to talk to them instead of waiting five months for an email. Some of them will even look at your proposal on the floor if they’re open to it. Again, don’t be pushy, they’re busy and have so many folks wanting to get looked at. I can say this because I’ve seen them in person at conventions like A-kon. They are there but you aren’t going to meet them behind your laptop.
***For #NaNoProMo, I want to add some great ways I’ve found to offline market that have worked for me personally!***
Book store appearances – Seek out your local bookstores or those in close proximity and call them to see if they will allow you to sign and sell your books in their stores. You would be amazed how excited so many of them are. Plus, you have gotten into the system. They’ll most likely ask you to return again for subsequent titles.
Conventions – These are not just for science fiction, cosplayers, etc. I sold out of my book and had to switch to invoicing. Many interviews I got were from attending a convention. You meet other authors and build life long friendships.
Book Festivals – You may or may not sell in a room full of other authors but hey, it’s a great thing to look at. You get to meet and network and get your book out there and do some book and review swaps.
Libraries – Donate to libraries! Again this is a great networking opportunity and they want authors to come in and talk and read!
Pass out ARCs – Free titles may seem like it hurts like heck but ARCs are a great review opportunity and who says no to free books?
Ask for reviews – This was the hardest one. I was so nervous about sounding like I was begging but you would truly be amazed how many of them are willing to offer their feedback and reviews. You never know if you don’t ask.
Pass out business cards – Always have a PROFESSIONAL* business card! You can pass them out to so many people! Many are more than happy to take them and even ask if they can take them. Be sure to include Amazon and website links!
Book swag – Book marks are a great tool to get your book’s cover out there and heck you can offer them for free. Many people are more than willing to take them and often couple your book with them!
Make Fliers – You have to be willing to hoof it. Take the days you have off, open word and use a template to make your fliers. Starbucks is amazing with their community calendars and they’re everywhere!!! Grab a coffee, post your flier and head on to the next location. If you have an event at a bookstore, ask the manager if they provide fliers. If not, ask them if they’d be willing to use yours!
Name Drop your book/ Tell them you’re an author! – Guys, I know this sounds strange but I kid you not. Blessing of Luna has been sold at restaurants, grocery stores, and even at the end of an event. I just approached someone in the romance isle and starting talking! Always have a book! You would be amazed what can happen!
* What I mean by professional is always have a .com, .net, etc. It has an air of professionalism and ongoing pursuit. Invest the money. Many domains like Bluehost, GoDaddy, HostGator, WordPress, etc have their own hosts.
So, I hope this has helped you. This knowledge was gleaned from trial and error, seeking mentorships and just asking managers and professional marketers. The cruel and harsh truth is, our market is saturated but it doesn’t mean we have to fight each other. There are readers who want to read our work, heck, maybe both of our books if we work with a partner to promote our books. Social Media is a black hole that is necessary for an online presence but at the same time, offline marketing gets you out there! Try for yourself!