Have you seen these? Guest Posts from TheBookDesigner.com

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There’s no place I’d rather be than the beach, especially the beaches on the Monterey Peninsula where I was born and raised. While I’m away, please visit these posts I’ve written for Joel Friedlander’s blog at TheBookDesigner.com. I’ve been writing for Joel’s blog since November 2013. (Wow! Time does fly.) Below you’ll find pots that date back to December 2014.


Reader Audiences and Analytics: What Do They Really Reveal?

When I ask authors whether they know who their audience is, I’m surprised when some of them reply, “everyone should read my book” or “everyone will like my book.” Well, not exactly. If you write grammar manuals or cookbooks, you may be under the false impression that everyone needs your book. But everyone won’t buy it or even think that a grammar reference, dystopian novel, or low-fat cookbook would be worth its purchase price.

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Weekly Roundup – Social Media Updates for Authors

Weekly Roundup - Social Media Updates for Authors by Frances Caballo

This past week was rich in terms of content on the blogosphere. I hope you enjoy this week’s social media updates for authors. But first, here’s the story about the above image.

Here’s a little-known fact about me: I hike every Saturday morning, even in the rain. It’s a ritual I refuse to relinquish. The woods is where I replenish myself. Recently, I heard indie author Mark Dawson say that all the writers he knew were walkers. Well, count me as a member of that group. This past weekend, I slipped my iPhone into my back pocket and, of course, silenced it. I intended to take pictures of the wildflowers growing in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. I did take pictures of lupines, paintbrush, and monkeyflower, yet the above tree was my favorite subject. One never knows where the path will lead or where intention may be diverted. But if my experience last weekend can be seen as a metaphor, then it’s this: Don’t be rigid in following a path or pursuing an intention you think is best for you. You’re a writer, an artist. Follow your intuition and you’ll always be on the right course.


Social Media Updates for Authors

The Myth of the Average Reader from Writer Unboxed: “I usually see references to this mythic creature — the average reader — in one of two contexts. First: `I’m going for mass market appeal — I think the average readerwould enjoy my book.’ Second: ‘Well, the average reader obviously doesn’t know what good writing is. Why else would they buy crap like (popular bestseller)?'”

Note: Until this post, I hadn’t heard of anyone discussing psychographics in terms of readership. This is the definition the author offers: “the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles.” This was an informative post with a new perspective.

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Marketing Advice from a Publishing Pro: Jane Friedman Shares Her Best Tips

8-25-14 Jane FriedmanI recently had the honor of interviewing Jane Friedman, the co-founder and publisher of Scratch, a magazine about writing and money, and former publisher of Writer’s Digest. She has more than 15 years of experience inside the book, magazine, and literary publishing industries. Below, Jane shares her views on author websites, blogging and marketing for writers.

 

How important is blogging for a writer’s success?

Blogging is mostly overrated as a book marketing and promotion tool, and few writers have the discipline or stamina to do it for the length of time required for it to pay off.

However, a blog is probably the nonfiction author’s No. 1 content marketing tool for their career—a career that presumably involves not just selling books, but also getting new clients, securing speaking engagements, teaching online classes, delivering new products, and increasing their profile as an expert.

Which leads to another question: What is “content marketing”? It’s where you use content to provide value, build your brand, and gain trust with your readership over time. A blog is a form of content marketing, and it’s generally the most well-recognized and understood by authors.

 

What are the elements of a successful author website and blog?

It should immediately communicate the author’s name and/or brand and give visitors a specific call to action within 5-7 seconds, before they leave the site. What’s a good call to action? It might be: read an excerpt of my book, listen to this interview with me at NPR, sign up for my newsletter, etc. Your call to action will change a few times a year, depending on your marketing initiatives or book releases.

Make your menu or navigation exceptionally clear to first-time visitors. Where can they find information about your books? How can they look at your blog or its archive? How can they contact you? Know what people look for when they visit your site, then make it easy for them to access it.

I have a lot more advice on this topic here:

 

8-25-14 WD logoWriter’s Digest seems to have flourished – at least digitally – under your tenure. What do you attribute that success to, aside from hard work? In other words, what can authors learn from your example there?

At Writer’s Digest, I focused on serving the audience authentically. If we did that well, the numbers and the sales followed.

 

Do you recommend that writers participate in online forums, and if so, why?

 Writers usually have two goals with this type of activity: being part of a writing community and being in touch with readers.

As far as the first goal, I recommend it insofar as it can be a valuable source of education, information, and encouragement. It might also have some marketing value, but you have to be careful that you’re not marketing to the echo chamber of the writing and publishing community, rather than building your readership of non-writers.

For the second goal, participating in online forums where your readers are can be invaluable to understanding and anticipating their needs, serving them better, and—yes—marketing to them.

 

What about blogging communities? Can they help authors grow their readership?

I have limited experience with or knowledge of blogging communities, but my general impression is negative. (Every time one closes, such as Red Room or Yahoo Voices, I feel more steadfast in my critical POV.)

do like multi-contributor blogs, into which I categorize Writer Unboxed, where I occasionally write.

 

How long have you been on Twitter? To what do you attribute your following?

I’ve been on Twitter since May 2008. I got in early, and I religiously wrote a “Best Tweets for Writers” column from 2009–2011 that helped launch my following. For a while I was a recommended follow by Twitter in the Books category. The growth is not the same as it was while I was on that list, but now the account has its own momentum no matter what I do. I tell the full story here: How I Got a Six-Figure Twitter Following.

 

Do you also post your own podcasts/videos/ or Google Hangouts?

I’m not currently doing my own podcasts, video, or Google Hangouts, though I accept invites to be a guest, and try to make sure my audience is aware when and where they’re available.

 

Books320What role does social media play in helping authors’ books to succeed commercially? Asked another way, I find that authors can be reluctant to use social media. What is your advice in the face of their hesitation?

Social media helps authors in two primary ways.

  1.  It helps you maintain connections with readers and nurture that relationship over many years. While you may use social media at times to directly sell, like during a book release, the key value is in being in touch or communicating with people who are fans your work.
  2. It helps you develop relationships with and reach influencers and others in your community who can help spread the word to their networks.

The question to ask yourself is: How, when, and where do you best engage with readers and others in the industry? There is probably at least 1 social network where that opportunity is richest and most meaningful for you. Focus on that network and do it to the extent that it energizes or inspires you. Forget the social media networks that feel like drudgery—that defeats the whole point of being there.

 

We know that email marketing is as important as social media. What advice do you give writers about growing their mailing list of avid and casual readers?

Make the email newsletter sign up very clear on your website; ideally it should appear on every page. Give readers a specific idea of what they will receive when they sign up for your list. Then deliver what you promise.

 

You once said in a blog post that writers must push their boundaries to incorporate new media into their marketing. (This isn’t a direct quote.) At what point do writers need to pull back so they don’t lose their focus on their writing goals?

When you find yourself going through a checklist of media initiatives, without any interest or enthusiasm, then it may be time to pull back and evaluate why you’re doing it, especially if you’re not seeing reader engagement. (Keep in mind that any new effort takes time to pay off—you have to show up consistently, find your voice, and improve. This can take 6-12 months for some people.)

I love to suggest writers experiment and question the mediums they may always default to; on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing what works—especially if it motivates you to produce more good work. You just need to be aware if you’re clinging to certain things because you’re afraid to change (while everyone else is moving ahead), or making good choices that build on your strengths and the qualities of your work.

 

8-25-14 tumblrI see that you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Goodreads. How do you manage your time on so many platforms? How much time do you spend each day on social media?

I only show up consistently (usually daily) on 2 sites: Facebook and Twitter. I don’t have any quotas, however. My biggest rule is: Any time I tweet or post, it’s not to put myself in front of people. It’s to share something of value or to entertain. Period. So if I don’t have something for 48 hours, then you won’t see me. I’m not going to come up with a bunch of posts to fill in the gaps; we all have enough to look at already.

I’m a casual user of Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr. For each of those platforms, I have very particular things I post, or certain triggers. E.g., on Pinterest, I mostly pin graphs and charts related to the media/publishing industry, whenever I come across one. That’s it—but it’s a very useful repository now. Tumblr is a kind of personal notebook, where I save quotes or clips from interesting articles.

So it’s not so much about managing my time; over a period of months or years, I establish a particular benefit of each channel, something that fits my purposes. They’re not on my mind, and only come into play when I find things that fit my use of those networks. It wouldn’t be sustainable otherwise. Overall, I probably spend 1-2 hours per day on social media, if you aggregate all the little minutes here and there—most of that being Facebook and Twitter. Most of that is consumption time, or staying informed about what’s happening, not posting time.

 

If you were to narrow your social media use to three networks, which three would you refuse to give up and why?

It would be difficult for me to give up Twitter given my long-term investment there, and its importance in the writing and publishing community conversation. It would also be hard to give up Facebook, since that’s where a good deal of my audience engagement happens. Together, Twitter and Facebook make up most of the social media referral traffic to my website. However, organic search traffic to my site is far more important than social media right now; therefore, Google Plus is the third network I’d be reluctant to give up, since I think it will continue to have an impact on SEO.

 

Do you think that certain social media networks are better suited to specific genres? For example, Facebook and Pinterest are ideal for romance writers. Tumblr and Twitter would be important for YA and NA writers. Nonfiction writers would need to have a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. Or don’t you agree with the premise that certain channels are better for specific genres?

I do think certain channels are better for specific genres or audiences, yes. Most importantly, the author needs to be comfortable and committed to using whatever networks they’re on. Hopefully there’s a good match between what the writer is capable of sustaining for the long haul, and where her audience is active and engaged.

 

How do you suggest that writers juggle their writing time with their social media and marketing efforts in general?

This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind these days, and I understand writers feel that they’re under tremendous pressure. So when I hear this question, what I hear is: how can I relieve the pressure? How can I alleviate any stress or anxiety I have about juggling these things?

There is a very simple answer: Don’t take it all so seriously, and detach from the crazy-making activities. In a moment of silence, I bet you know what you should be doing, so acquire the discipline, structure, and tools to make it happen.

 

For Indie authors interested in finding an agent or publisher, what do they need to have in place aside from a killer manuscript?

It’s immensely helpful to point to a growing and engaged readership devoted to reading just about anything you publish. Be able to demonstrate your efforts to cultivate and nurture that readership.

 

What marketing advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Get your website established, even if it’s just a shell, and begin improving it and getting better at honing your online brand, one day at a time. This is your home base for the entirety of your career. Get comfy.

Visit Jane’s website to learn more about her.

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 200About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Writers: Use Visuals to Market Your Books

Create Your Own VisualsI never describe myself as a visual person. I can open the refrigerator door expecting one of our lunchtime salads to be gobbled up and not see a big, fresh salad that my husband made for me in the morning.

Really, I won’t see it.

Or I can walk into a friend’s home and not notice freshly painted walls or wallpaper newly added to the entry.

If there were an accident while I was standing on the street corner, I would not be able to give the police any details. I wouldn’t recall the color of the car or any details about the suspect.

Despite this quirk of mine, I am always drawn to visuals on social media. In fact, I more often gloss over (or not read) text posts on Facebook and instead jump ahead to the beautiful images and short, meaningful quotes.

I’m not the only one who prefers visual posts over text. Look at these statistics from Wishpond.com:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.
  • Videos on landing pages increase average page conversion rates by 86%.
  • Visual content is social-media-ready and social-media-friendly. It’s easily sharable and easily palatable.
  • Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than those without.
  • 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to carry more weight than product information or customer ratings

 Canva – A Free Application to Create Visuals in Your Messaging

I signed up for Canva about six months ago, and I’ve used it extensively to create Twitter and Facebook headers and images with text for Pinterest and other social media platforms. Canva is free to use (so far) and easy to learn.

Take a look at a few of the images I’ve created. The first image is my new Twitter header.

Frances Caballo - Social Media Just for Writers

This is one of the images I created  for Nina Amir’s Author of Change Program last December.

BEST Retweet Contest

Create Your Own Visuals

To start creating your own visuals, go to Canva. You can select a template or create your custom dimensions.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 3.20.29 PM 

Next, you will need to select your layout and image and your text. If you’re not using an image, you’ll need to select a background. If you don’t have any images of your own that you’d like to use, you can select from Canva’s one million images.

Canva provides some images for free and charges $1/image or $10 for eleven images for other pictures. In this example, I typed the word clouds and selected an image that will cost $1.

 Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 3.28.05 PM

 

My next step is to add a text overlay to the image.  Once I selected the text overlay, I changed the color from green to a pale blue. Then I added my text, added my branding at the bottom, paid for the image, and saved it.

 Canva will remove the watermark overlay once you purchase the image, and you can revise the image as often as you’d like over the following 24 hours.

Here is the visual I created. You’ll notice my branding at the bottom.

 Write Every Day

If you are artistic and you enjoy playing with visuals, you will enjoy this application. If you’re like me, you will be happy to discover how easy this application is to use. Canva has a series of short videos that will help you select complimentary colors and mix designs. 

Use Canva to create visuals to market your books by creating images for your blog, workshops, Goodreads giveaways, and book promotions. Once you create them, upload your visuals to any of your social media platforms, especially Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

What’s exciting is that now you can use Canva to create a cover for your ebook. Check out their pinboard on Pinterest to see their different layouts. 

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 12.26.28 PM

About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Burning Question: How to Use Social Media to Connect with Your Audience

1-27-14 enthusiasmFirst, a big “Thank You” to Frances Caballo of Social Media Just For Writers for hosting Writer’s Relief for this guest post!

Social media gives writers the opportunity to connect with more readers, agents, and editors than ever before. If you’re new to social networking or want to know how to make the best use of your author platform, here are a few guidelines to help you effectively utilize your online presence:

Engage, Entice, and Be Enthusiastic

Engage in the dialogue. Whether you’re new to marketing your author brand or a seasoned, published veteran, you should establish a professional presence online. If you prefer discussion and commentary, a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter account is right up your alley. For more image-driven networks, consider up-and-comers Tumblr and Pinterest. And don’t be shy—contribute something. Just be sure that what you post brings something of value to the conversation. You don’t want to appear to be blowing smoke for the sake of attention, or you’ll risk getting a reputation for self-centered promotion.

Entice followers or fans back to your own profile. Once you’ve contributed responses on public forums, try posing some questions of your own. People who find your thoughts interesting may seek out your page or website to learn more about you and your writing. On Facebook, whenever you leave a comment or Like a post, that activity is broadcast to your fans. The same is true for Twitter, where your tweets and retweets are sent to all of your followers’ news feeds. The more fans or followers interact with you, the more opportunities your messages will have to reach more potential readers. Just as a fire slowly grows and spreads, your name as an author and news about your writing projects will start heating up the social networks.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Nobody likes negativity in life or online, so be sure to stay upbeat. Your name as an author will create the brand for your book. While the latest sharp-tongued curmudgeon may grab a moment in the spotlight, you don’t want that sort of reputation for your writing career. Agents and publishers will pass on someone who has a reputation for being difficult. Being positive and enthusiastic, as well as putting in the extra time and effort to promote your name and your writing online, will make you an agent’s dream come true.

Interact and Have Fun

Once you have the social media fire burning, you need to keep fanning the flames so it doesn’t go out. How do you go about maintaining an online presence, you ask? We’ve got plenty of ideas!

Get people involved. People love expressing their thoughts and opinions, so you should embrace that sentiment and give them something to talk about. For instance, if you are in the process of deciding on a character’s last name, the title of a project, or a graphic for your book cover, post it as a question. Keep in mind that it’s best to give options rather than pose open questions in order to keep the responses manageable and useable. Some ways to get people involved are:

  • Take a poll. If you’re considering a few options on a topic, pose it as a poll! The visual element and easy-to-click voting method will be sure to get many people involved.
  • Post with the weekly trends. Whether it’s a #ThrowBackThursday or a #FollowFriday, keep yourself relevant with the trends of the times and have fun with it!
  • Pose a prompt. Writing prompts are a great way to get thoughts churning and share creativity.
  • Host a contest. If you’re working on promotion, offer a free giveaway or an interactive contest. Before you start, be sure you have enough followers or friends to make the effort worthwhile; and it’s a great way to gain some more! Declare a contest, promote it for a week or two, and then announce the winner. It’s up to you to come up with the contest rules, but it’s best to keep it simple.

Maintain the Flame

http://www.amazon.com/Avoid-Social-Media-Time-Suck-ebook/dp/B00HWFLZG4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390004559&sr=8-1&keywords=avoid+social+media+time+suckA little daily kindling will do the trick. Here’s what we mean: If you build a routine, it will become second nature. Start off with a basic schedule, perhaps some daily morning and nighttime interaction, and keep in mind that you don’t have to monitor your social media 24/7.

Post a thought, question, or reply before your day begins. Later, while you’re unwinding in the evening, check back and share, tweet, like, follow, do something to keep your social forums active. With the proliferation of smart phones and mobile technology, even midday updating doesn’t seem implausible. Your lunch break could be a great time to plug in a question or idea, and you can look forward to reading the responses in your evening session.

The more people participate and interact with you through social media, the bigger your following will grow. Keep readers updated about the status of your writing, whether you’re concluding a manuscript or setting a release date. You could serve as an inspiration to other writers while simultaneously marketing your brand. Then, if you gain traditional representation, you’ve already made a name for yourself and a brand for your writing, all on your own. All of the followers, fans, or friends you’ve accumulated will be potential buyers already invested in the success of your writing career.

And while you’re creating an online presence via social media, think about getting an author website. It’s a great way to centralize your image as an author.

This post was written by Writer’s Relief Staff: Writer’s Relief was started in 1994 to help creative writers make well-targeted, professional submissions to literary agents and editors. We are not a literary agency, publisher, publicist, self-publisher, or marketing company. Get to know us personally! Start with our FAQ page for common questions about our process, our clients, and our success rate. We are called Writer’s Relief—as opposed to Writers’ Relief—because we believe in emphasizing close relationships with each and every one of our full service clients. 

 photo credit: Damien Basile via photopin cc

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 380

 

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc