Publishing Literary Fiction Independently

By: Piers Alexander

Piers Bearne author photo“I did not need reminding that my place in the world was to be the cutpurse, to show my pistol and witness murder while others played the honest craftsman.

“Garric Pettit, Cassie Barcus, Calumny Spinks: ours was the bitterest trade of all. Hiding in other people’s clothes, tricking and beating our thorny way through the world, and for little more than another day’s bread and water…” - from The Bitter Trade

Sometimes book marketing can feel like that! Writing is a big commitment even without promotion: in my case three years, five drafts – at one point the manuscript was 250,000 words long – until my agent Meg told me that the German version would weigh about 8 kilos… and I sliced 40% of it out. Ouch.

After winning the Pen Factor last year, I finally realized that it was time to stop drafting, put on the clothes of a publisher and get The Bitter Trade  to market. But the novel is literary historical fiction: it’s not genre, there aren’t 30 of them in a series, so it’s not a typical self-pub operation. I know literary writers who’ve been actively discouraged from publishing independently because it’s considered hard to find readers.

So I decided to do things differently, and reach out directly to readers with a few innovations. In my other life I am co-founder of three media businesses, so I’m hoping to bring some ideas in to help promote The Bitter Trade, which is an adventure story set in London’s coffee rackets during the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

First of all, I decided to work with epubli to distribute and promote the eBook. There are a lot of entry-level blogs and courses on digital publishing, but epubli’s author relations team are sophisticated, up-to-date, available and passionate about their writers. I am working long hours just to keep up to date with their recommendations, and the way they think about SEO and social media presence is very sophisticated.

I also asked the voice actor Roland Bearne to produce some high quality audio snippets from the story – they are up on SoundCloud and we will be using YouTube and other rich media channels to find people who prefer to listen to stories.

Then I took the rather radical decision to distribute the paperback nationally through bookstores. It’s a fairly serious investment, especially in typesetting and design (thank you www.thecurvedhouse.com and www.twoassociates.com), but I think the bookshop presence and ebooks will complement each other, with paperbacks leading people to Kobo and the other platforms. More importantly, a really nicely-designed book makes other potential marketing partners take you much more seriously – I walked the aisles of the London Book Fair in April and found I could have proper conversations with people.

The most radical thing I’m doing is working with very niche interest groups, like the London coffee scene (launching and selling the books at one of the leading coffeehouse groups), and historical reenactment societies. I had a lovely moment last week when a member of a Luxembourgish 17th century historical society kindly refused to take a review copy and insisted on paying for an ebook instead. The best part about this is the opportunity to connect with people who love coffee, and people who are as passionate about the historical period as I am.

the-bitter-tradeSo it feels like a good marketing plan is coming together – wish me luck! The Bitter Trade is up on Kobo already, and I still have a handful of free review copies available on Goodreads for friendly readers.

Wishing you all happy marketing… and more importantly, the time and freedom to write your hearts out.

 

 

Kobo and Kobo Writing Life are proud to be sponsoring the 2014 Penn Factor again this year. They are actively contributing to the success of new and talented authors like Piers. The winner will be offered a one year access to TLC literary and publishing events at Free Word Centre, editorial and advisory support.

We are looking forward to meeting you all at the 2014 Writing in a Digital Age Conference, which starts tomorrow in London.

 

KOBO REVIEWS COMING SOON!

In the near future, Kobo will begin featuring book reviews!

Customers will be able to write reviews and choose star ratings for your titles and post them on the book page.

We want to give KWL authors the opportunity to begin collecting reviews for their titles before the feature goes live!

Here’s how: 

That’s it! You can use this Kobo Reviews link to collect as many reviews as you want.

You may notice that the page does not list every one of your books.  The catalog of books represents a cache that might not always have the most recently added titles – but it is updated on a continual basis, and if a title doesn’t appear now, it might appear in a few days.

Go ahead and post your Kobo Reviews link to social media, include it in your newsletter, and feature it on your website.

The more reviews you gather, the more customers will notice your title. So, get the word out!

Making Social Work for You

An interview with Bestselling KWL Author Maggie Shayne – By Ben Landau

For self-pub authors, social media can be either a best friend or worst enemy. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr—all of these are valuable resources for writers as they attempt to spread the word about their latest works and connect with an audience. Without a clear social media strategy however, these same platforms can become a major source of procrastination.

Eternal+Love_+The+Immortal+Witch+Series

So what, if any, is the “right” way to make social media work for you? To answer this question we enlisted the help of Maggie Shayne, the self-pub author and social media dynamo behind the Immortal Witches trilogy and a handful of other dark and steamy reads.

What moves the dial? Does a “like” turn into a purchase, a fan, or an ambassador for you? Is this what writers should be aiming for?

What moves the dial is personal and sincere interaction with the fans. Don’t try to sell to them. Just be there, talking about normal stuff the way you’d talk to your friends and having a good time. Share challenges within reason (never become a public complainer, it’s unbecoming) and share how you deal with them, too. Let people know you’re a real human being with a life a lot like theirs, and that you care about them. You can’t fake that. That has to come from a real place inside you. You can’t measure the payback of this sort of thing in numbers of sales. I think long term, it’s more karmic. The more people smile when they think of you, the better your life is going to be. It’s about making other people feel they are important and worthy of your time. That’s what it is at the heart of it.

How much time do you spend on social daily? What social media platforms do you use?

I’m mainly a Facebook girl. I have a Maggie Shayne page, a Wings in the Night page. I also use Twitter quite a bit, and have been dipping my toes into Instagram and Pinterest. I blog at MaggiesBlissBlog.com . I spend anywhere from an hour to two hours online each day, but it’s fun for me. It needn’t be that time-intensive.

What is an effective social media strategy for an eBook author? What is simple timewasting?

For me, the most effective strategy is having fun. If you hate doing something, it’s never going to be effective. If you don’t enjoy social media, don’t use it. Everything in life is like this. If we trusted our gut feelings more, we’d be far better off. Have fun with it. That way if it works, bonus.

Who if any, are some other socially active authors that you think set a good example?

Susan Mallery. OMG, she’s the Goddess of Facebook. And Christine Feehan, who has her own freaking message boards, like a mini Facebook all its own at ChristineFeehan.net, these folks make me look like a rank beginner. (Not too rank, I hope.) ;)

Have you ever had a memorable interaction with a reader over social media?

A reader had a doomed pregnancy. She was told to have an abortion because the baby wouldn’t survive anyway, and if she tried to carry the child, she wouldn’t make it either. This reader read EDGE OF TWILIGHT, a book with a doomed pregnancy and a miracle ending. The way the book came to her, she was sure it was a sign. (I am, too.) Someone gave it to her to cheer her up, not even knowing the subject matter. Anyway, the mom decided it was a sign, and she carried the baby to term. Her little girl was born healthy. All are still doing well today. I treasure the email I got from her.

I’ve had lots of others. Readers email me for advice, or during challenging times for encouragement, and I’m always there for them.

maggieShayne_photoCheck out Maggie Shayne:

At her website: http://maggieshayne.com/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieShayneAuthor

On Kobo! View Maggie’s books: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/Search?Query=maggie+shayne

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/maggieshayne

 

Other Helpful Resources:

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/how-to-market-a-book

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Kabani http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/the-zen-of-social-media-marketing-1

 

Author Branding & Revamping Your Website & Image

Three years ago, almost to the day, I made the smartest decision I’ve ever made. Before you ask, no I did not decide to forgo a unicorn wrestling match (I know that was your first thought); no, I began my first website, E-book Revolution (http://ebookrevolution.com.au).

A very ugly Blogger blog that had all the finesse of a monster truck and kind of looked like a five year old had drawn a very boring picture with crayon on a brown paper bag.

E-book Revolution blog old

When I first started I didn’t really know what I was about. I was in my ‘teenage’ blogging phase, the years where you kind of know the stuff you like, and the things you want to talk about, but you hadn’t quite found the path that fit the personality. When I first started I knew I didn’t have the skill to blog about my fiction writing, but I was great at investigating, at pulling apart the things people did (often via instinct) and figuring out how they worked. Like a mechanic for ideas.

Back when I first dived into creating my author platform Amazon hadn’t opened its doors to Australian authors, Smashwords was just getting started and Kobo was a name I thought I heard once whispered in a dark alley by a leprechaun. Not really an expert at anything I did my best imitation of a triple somersault dive and descended into the depths of learning.

So the blog grew, with its cobbled together Logo in Microsoft Paint and font colours that didn’t quite match the theme. It grew from a site that explored how to throw off the oppressive cloak of publisher rejections, to a site that looked forward to digital experiments, taking control of your publishing, and (eventually) how to write a magnificent book.

In three years the blog had grown out of its teenage years, and the message it conveyed with its pixelated pimples of mismatched colour no longer fitted where I was. I now had a job in the publishing industry, I hold workshops teaching writers to be indie authors, I was being asked to talk around Australia, and I had a site that didn’t exactly scream professional. It kind of screamed ‘boring’.

So as it approached the blog’s third anniversary I decided it was time for the outside wrappings to look like the inside, and starting on the 4th of April I am running a week long website relaunch to celebrate, complete with a shiny new digital home, logo, and seven days worth of prizes! In fact it’s going right now! (http://ebookrevolution.com.au)

In the wake of these months of hard work I’ve done what I do best, broken down the process so that people can see how it works.

So here are my five tips on author branding and revamping your website and blog:

1: Why You Should Rebrand

It doesn’t matter how careful you were at picking your original template and banner art, how much time you spent agonising over the whether you wanted your headings fuchsia or fluoro green, chances are that if you’ve put together your author platform more than two years ago, times have changed. Not only have design trends changed, but what interests you, what entertains you, what you talk about while blogging, and what you share, has morphed into an entirely new polka-dotted beast.

You may write in more than one genre now, or you may have found the topic you first started with didn’t strike a chord with your audience, but as soon as you started posting pictures of My Little Ponies in compromising positions your website statistics skyrocketed.

Writers do not stay static; we trade in ideas and imaginings.

So the question you’ve got to ask yourself is, does my site still match my message and who I am? Because if it doesn’t, then you may find you’re not attracting the size of audience you should.

2: What Does That Involve?

Basically asking yourself a stupid amount of questions. Get a piece of paper and go back to your original posts: What did you talk about, what were the themes, what got the most interest from visitors? Then compare it to your posts and social media sharings over the last six months: What themes and topics do I cover now, what do people care about in 2014? How does that change in tone and topic match the images and colours on your website? Does your current status, celebrity, or career level, reflect in the layout?

The ultimate are-you-ashamed test is to ask yourself if you would be happy paying $10,000 to stick you logo or website banner three stories high on the side of a building. Does the thought make you twitch? Then that tells you how you feel about your logo today. Hand your logo or website banner around to family, friends, and people you meet in the park walking your dog. Ask them what they think when they look at it, what is it saying to them, does anything turn them off?

Ebook Reolution Logoe-book-revolution-logo-largest

                  Old logo                   New Logo

Finally, articulate in a paragraph what you are about now, and what your message is. Start going through Google images and websites of authors similar to you and start collecting all the images that appeal to you in a document. This is what you’ll use for your base line rebranding.

3: Recreating Yourself

Sorry guys, but this is where you have to come out of the world in your head and take part in some good old fashioned collaboration.

You are not the best judge of you!

Unfortunately writers are not the most subjective bunch of creatives (helloooo editors!) and we need professional help and a fresh perspective. Rebranding involves revamping your website, logos, and tag lines. You saw my old blog above, and below is an image of my new website.

E-book Revolution New Blog

I had already pulled together images of sites I admired and my new tag line (E-books, marketing and digital experiments – helping you bring your stories to the world ) from the previous step before I began approaching designers. There was a web designer friends had worked with in the past who made amazing WordPress sites that you could add to and run without any need for all those silly ‘maintenance fees’ that IT companies charge these days. She was the one who linked my pre-existing book cover to my new logo, and once the logo and highlight colours were decided she then moved on to make sure that the website matched the lot.

She was so amazing I actually invited her to write a post on Author Branding for my website relaunch. You can read it here (http://ebookrevolution.com.au/?p=759) and it will be live from Saturday the 5th of April.

You may find that you can get an all in one package like me, or that you need to hire a graphic designer first before bringing the logo to the web designer. Either way make sure you get a list of fonts and colour hues used so that when you are doing a sneaky alteration in Microsoft Paint, that you get it right.

4: Reconnecting With Your Audience:

Take your new stomping ground as an opportunity to have fun! What have you always wanted to add but never done?What information do you have already that you can now repurpose and help you connect with a new audience. Make it easier for them to do their crash course and then join you at the level you are now?

When I first started E-book Revolution I talked about really basic concepts and step-by-step processes to help authors get up and running in the digital space, but three years on I am way passed those beginner topics and rarely cover them. What a missed opportunity to connect with a new person! I am missing out on a whole audience who, if I pointed them to those original articles, would be up to speed and get so much more out of what I post now. Just because they didn’t happen to dive in the deep end at the same time as me.

So in the new version of my website I have resource sheets (http://ebookrevolution.com.au/start-here/) that list all of the most popular questions and blog posts on Marketing, Publishing and writing, so that writers who are starting out can find what they need, and those who have followed me from the beginning don’t have to read what they already know.

5: How to Gain Traction

Make it a party! When I originally started the blog I posted every day for 31 days straight. I wanted to build up momentum (and obviously had some unfulfilled need to punish myself) and that was the best way I could think of to do that. And it worked surprisingly well, I got over half the subscriptions to my newsletter because of that first, month long sprint. But as the three years went on that momentum slowed, in part I think because of the DIY feel of my site, which three years ago was fine, but these days was neglectful.

The website revamp was the perfect opportunity to reconnect, recharge and take advantage of the connections I’ve built over the past three years. So my recommendations for gaining traction include:

  • Like launching an ebook, extend the launch of your site over the course of a week. It is only through multiple connections that you can make an impression.
  • Have some great content, not only from yourself but people within your network. Use the launch as a way to build connections with your colleagues as well as your audience. Building a community, and presenting quality information helps you build trust for the years ahead.
  • Give people who don’t know you a reason to drop by! Information is all well and good but giving away prizes that are relevant to your audience is even better. At my launch I am giving away multi-media courses, a set of 6 writers guides from Chuck Wendig, a Kobo ereader, and a swag bag of books on indie publishing by some of the best indies around, just to name a few. All appropriate for my audience; writers and independent publishers.
  • Don’t just let them all go once the launch has ended! Don’t do all of this work and hope that people will continue to visit your site. Get people to sign up for a newsletter, that way you have a way of contacting them directly. I give away a free 1hr crash course on the E-book Revolution and a workbook on Writing a Killer Blurb to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. Not only do they get some great free information, but I am able to contact them in the future about any new book releases or events.

Emily_Craven_1Emily Craven is an author, speaker and innovator and runs the website E-book Revolution where she discovers writing, publishing and new ideas. Her website relaunch is running from the 4th- 10th of April with some great prizes for indie authors, check it out (www.ebookrevolution.com.au). Emily is the author of the non-fiction book ‘E-book Revolution: The Ultimate Guide To E-book Success’ (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/e-book-revolution-the-ultimate-guide-to-e-book-success) , and the comedy ‘The Grand Adventures Of Madeline Cain’ (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-grand-adventures-of-madeline-cain-photographer-extraordinaire) written as though you are reading the main character’s Facebook Page.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Optimize Your Crowdfunding Campaign

By Daniel Baylis

When I decided to publish my book (The Traveller) independently, I knew I would have to get serious about crowdfunding. The process of leveraging funds from my online community became a step in the publishing process that was as inherent as designing a book cover. Overall, my campaign was very successful, garnering more than 200% of my target goal. Why is that? Well, I applied a selection of key tactics to make sure my campaign would be successful.

Here are five lessons that I have learned about crowdfunding.

Start planning early. I began doing research into what makes a great crowdfunding campaign six weeks before I intended to launch my own. This entailed scouring other campaign pages, watching other videos, reading other writers’ campaign pitches, and analyzing how campaigners communicated their “rewards.” Then I essentially pillaged their ideas and drew up a shortlist of my favourites. If you want to go deeper, Indiegogo offers a Field Guide and Kickstarter offers a School. These tools are free. Use them.

Make an awesome video. If you don’t have the skills to do this yourself, hire someone. On most crowdfunding platforms, the first thing a potential funder will see is your video. Think of it as your storefront. A quality video will be worth the investment. Bonus tip: Keep it under three minutes — the Internet does not have time for wordiness.

Communicate creatively. On the first day of your campaign, you’re allowed to explicitly say “Please support my campaign!” But by Day 30, nobody in your network is going to want to hear your tired plea. You’ll need to spice it up. Try creating campaign-related content that had an implicit request for support. For instance, every few days I featured a photograph of funder and had them explain why they chose to support the campaign. Go ahead, steal my idea, but come up with your own, too!

Be realistic with your goal. It’s tempting to apply the old adage: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!” But when it comes to crowdfunding, that’s not the strategy you want to employ. Read these words: DON’T SHOOT FOR THE STARS. Ask for the amount that you feel absolutely confident you can get. If you reach that goal, be prepared to encourage additional funding with stretch goals — further objectives that communicate what you’ll do with more money. Remember that campaigns stay online forever. Your name will be attached to it. What type of cyber footprint do you want to create? I’ll answer that question for you: One that reeks of success.

Say “Thank You.” This might be an obvious one, but it needs to be highlighted. For every single funder that gave to my campaign — there were 253 people — I issued a personalized thank-you email. This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be a long note. A simple personalized acknowledgement goes a long way. Think of it this way: You’re not just selling a book; you’re building a personal brand. Care what people think of you.

daniel baylisDaniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. In 2011, he spent the entire year travelling around the world, visiting a different country each month and engaging in a variety of volunteer positions. Upon returning to his homebase in Canada, Baylis wrote a book about his journey and crowdfunded many of the expenses of his book on Indiegogo. In September, his campaign was fully funded in less than three days and went on to earn more than 200% of the initial target goal. Baylis’ book, The Traveller: Notes from an Imperfect Journey Around the World, is now available on Kobo. He politely invites you to buy it — and read it.

Indies for Indies: My Partnership with My Local Bookstore

By Robert L. Slater

Bellingham, Washington, has as many bookstores as many small towns have churches and bars. You can literally have a top ten… I frequent many of them, but the one I know best has become a great friend—Village Books. VB did a lot for me as a reader and community member. I saw Terry Brooks, Neal Stephenson, and many more folks at VB events.

As a customer in their original location, an old building in underdeveloped Fairhaven, I joined their Reader Rewards Club.  Every year on your birthday month, club members receive a coupon for a discounted book, your age up to 39 as a percentage discount, and a cup of coffee. Eventually the costs of maintaining an awesome local brick and mortar bookstore took their toll and everyone got 25% off no matter what their age. In addition, at 20 purchases customers get a cash voucher for the average price of those books. I’m a cheap and careful shopper, so mine was never big, but always more exciting than the free haircut or coffee punch card.

Village Books offers customers a savvy reminder they have access to Kobo’s giant catalog of eBooks.

Village Books offers customers a savvy reminder that they can access Kobo’s giant catalog of eBooks. Learn more here!

Over the last year VB became more of a place to go see ‘friends.’ The past year has been a series of synchronicitous events in my writing. I wrote my third novel for NANOWRIMO 2012. Soon after I opened an email from Village Books announcing a Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group. I went and met Paul Hansen, their General Manager. He read from his own work in progress. Two weeks later, I returned and soon volunteered to manage the group mailing list and reminders.  I met other local writers, now  friends, whom I hope to see in print someday.

Then I was chosen with five other writers to write a Speculative Fiction Serial Story for the local newspaper, The Bellingham Herald, set in Bellingham 100 years in the future. One of the first questions from editor, Dean Kahn, was, “Do you want to read at Village Books?” I wholeheartedly agreed. My theatre background would come in handy. When Dean had to opt out, I stepped in to be master of ceremonies.

The evening came. I dressed for success, imagining what a professional writer might wear and say and do. We went from empty to a crowd in minutes. Sam Kaas, another fabulous VB employee, introduced us and we were off. The evening went well. I handed out postcard promos for my collection: Outward Bound, (already on Kobo) and for my soon to be released debut: All Is Silence. New folks signed up for my mailing list. I thanked Sam. He asked for some cards and asked if I would like to be featured in an eBook newsletter as a local author using Kobo. Of course, I said yes.

All Is Silence by Robert L. Slater

All Is Silence by Robert L. Slater

As a local teacher at Windward High School, I partnered with Village Books in printing WHS’ first annual book of poetry, art and fiction, Whispers in the Wind, using their Espresso Book Machine [EBM]. When it came time to talk about publishing my own book I knew I wanted to partner locally if I could. My initial plan was to have Village Books print my Advanced Reader Copies [ARCs] using the EBM, but unfortunately, the EBM had become unavailable. Brendan Clark, the ever-helpful arm of Village Books’ publishing forays, told me cryptically that I should wait and see what else was in the works.

I had done my homework. I had a plan. VB would print ARCs, then pro-printing with Lightning Source. When I sat down with Brendan and talked about my vision, it turned out what was in the works was a VB partnership with Lightning Source to print books. Turnaround time was longer, but the book cost was better for short runs. Best of all, Brendan Clark would be my go between with Lightning Source.  When I printed 500 copies, the books would be more expensive than going with Lightning Source direct, but only by about 8%. That trade off was perfect. I could partner with Village Books, get the quality I wanted without LS’ legendary lack of author-friendly support. That 8% into my local community and the extra help made it an absolute win-win.

When I got the call from Village Books that my ARCs had arrived, VB personnel and patrons ooed and ahhed as I grinned like a monkey and set my book on the shelf to see what it would look like. The cover wasn’t quite popping so Brendan changed to high gloss for the second set of ARCs. When they came in, the cover popped!

Author Robert Slater promotes All Is Silence at the KWL-sponsored Village Books event in January 2014.

Author Robert L. Slater promotes All Is Silence at a KWL-sponsored Village Books event in January 2014.

I worked on getting final edits in and my cover artist made adjustments. My goal was to have people’s jaws drop when I told them it was self-published. After sending off the ‘final’ edits, I settled into all the other prep work for releasing a book. Then I got an email from Sam. Would I be interested in doing an ePublishing workshop with Kobo? Sure. I had been trying to get All Is Silence uploaded as an ePub to Kobo, and was having issues—too much specialized formatting. So Sam connected me to Mark Lefebvre at Kobo, the main speaker at the workshop. Mark helped me through the process, even purchasing a copy for himself after getting hooked!  The workshop with Mark was great, Paul and Brendan and Sam were great. We had a great crowd and lots of questions.

Mark helped me set up a special pricing deal on a card for the eBook leading up to release of my print book and connect readers to VB eBook opportunities. We gave it out to workshop attendees, Mark took some on the road with him and Sam kept some at VB. Soon, I hit #7 on Kobo’s Young Adult Dystopian Fiction Bestsellers and, for a very short time, #3 behind Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent on the Young Adult Science Fiction list. [I have the picture to capture the moment.]

My partnership with VB led to many unforeseen benefits. Rumor had it that one major retailer would not allow pre-orders on self-published books. The only way around it was to create a seller’s account and cough up $30 for set up. Because I partnered with VB, and through them Lightning Source and Ingram’s, my book was up for presale internationally on that major retailer for no extra charge. It also got me into the local library system early. I have more books being requested than they have in stock. It’s a great start.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre presents a workshop on digital publishing alongside Rob Slater at Village Books.

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre presents a workshop on digital publishing alongside Rob Slater at Village Books.

Now my book is in Village Books. They’ll be hosting a novel release party with me on March 14th and after that… who knows. What did I do to get so lucky? When I picked up the first batch of my print books, Paul Hanson told me, “When you first came in you said, ‘What can I do to help?’”

So, writers, ask not what your bookstore can do for you [the answer is plenty], but ask what you can do for your bookstore. Be professional. Communicate warmly, openly and politely. Get off the broken record of “buy my book, buy my book,” and make friends, find partners, and buy books at your local brick and mortar bookstore.

Visit Robert’s website.

All Is Silence on Kobo.

Outward Bound on Kobo.

Learn more about Kobo’s partnership with indie bookstores here and here.

Meet the winner of KWL’s Social Savvy Author contest

beachHello from the windblown snowy east coast of Canada – Summerside, Prince Edward Island!

My name is Susan Rodgers – as the winner of the Kobo Writing Life Social Savvy Author contest, I’m bursting with excitement! I won a social media mentorship with Kathy Meis, Founder and President of Serendipite Studios, creators of Bublish, a new social media platform where book bubbles provide authors the opportunity to publish book excerpts alongside personal insights.

My gallop through the daunting world of social media has been illuminating, fascinating, sometimes overwhelming and, above all, inspiring. I was feeling discouraged and unsure about how to move forward with the marketing of my ebooks.  I did the usual big mailing list and then the small mailing list, created a Facebook page, and ground to a halt.

Kathy Meis came on board with a wealth of knowledge and a ‘you-can-do-it’ attitude. She took the time to make a personal call to ascertain my level of knowledge in the ebook and social media world, and then between emails and two in-depth sessions on GoTo Meetings, she dove in headfirst and started some comprehensive training. She even gave me homework!

My shiny new website still needs a few tweaks, but I wouldn’t have had the nerve or made the time to create it without Kathy’s confidence and support. By comparing the whole social media world to a wagon wheel with spokes and a central hub, Kathy made a visual learner like myself realize the importance of an author website. My site is now my central hub.  Each spoke radiating from it is an aspect of social media like Twitter, Facebook, Google plus, etc. “All roads should lead back to your website,” encouraged Kathy.

Twitter has been a blast to learn and negotiate. I had an existing account but had no idea of Twitter’s power. Kathy took me through the platform step by step, starting with the presentation of a consistent image / presence featuring my books that should be reflected on all of my social media sites.  I am now committed to Hootsuite, I’ve learned how to find new ‘follows’ via Twitter lists, I’ve created a calendar to schedule regular marketing themes and, most of all, I am dedicated to a daily 20/20/20 rule of (1) research, (2) actively marketing across all platforms, and (3) live chats / interactions.

joshMy marketing now features my growing library of digital images (because more people respond to images than written posts / tweets) and I have committed to blogging on a scheduled day each week.

By far the most fun I am having is creating book bubbles on Bublish.  How often do authors get the opportunity to share their own insights with readers? And isn’t that what we authors love most – talking about our characters, our stories, our inspirations? Best of all, once created, my pretty little book bubbles are simple to tweet or post on Facebook.

Am I seeing an increase in sales? Not yet, but my burgeoning social media savvy is still brand new. I’m enjoying some amazing reviews for my Drifters series, and on my story A Certain Kind of Freedom. One reviewer compared my writing to Hitchcock – after I had a good laugh (I am no Hitchcock!), I immediately thought about Kathy’s teachings and how I can maximize the impact of this review.

Kathy has given me the gift of empowerment. I am now taking an active role in the marketing of my books. Yes, it takes discipline and time and, as a self-employed struggling filmmaker with two part time jobs to keep me afloat, I am very busy. But I need to follow up with what I’ve learned – because I can, because I now understand how the social media marketing cogs turn.

I want to evolve into writing full time so I can enjoy mystical east coast sunsets from my trailer on the beach next summer, and for many summers to come. It’s hard to picture that now as yet another snowstorm swirls outside my window, but eventually the snow will melt and my guy and I will drag our kayaks out instead of the snowblower I can now hear trundling up and down the laneway. And, because of Kathy Meis’ gentle teachings and Kobo’s Social Savvy Author contest, I will rock social media and continue to strategically develop my brand as an author.

Thank you Kathy Meis, and thank you Kobo Writing Life!

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About the Author

susan rodgersWriter and filmmaker Susan Rodgers has been blessed by the opportunity to reside in serene Prince Edward Island, on the east coast of Canada. A Finalist in the 2011 Atlantic Writing Awards for her as yet unpublished first novel, A Certain Kind of Freedom, she is currently receiving rave reviews for a short story excerpt from that book as well as for her recent Drifters book series.

She augments her career with client films as well as a part time job at a local box office with the plan in mind to one day work full time as a writer.

Visit her website!

Like her Facebook page!

Follow her on Twitter!

Find her on Bublish!

And of course, check out her books on Kobo:

A Song for Josh

Promises

No Greater Love

Learning to love book promotion

By Kathy Meis

041712_bublish_logoFirst, you stall. Next, you make a pot of coffee and allow yourself to be easily distracted…for hours. Admit it. You’ll do just about anything to avoid book promotion.

It’s completely understandable that many authors avoid book promotion like the plague. After all, you’re artists, not marketers or salespeople. What if I told you that you didn’t have to settle for this type of split-personality approach?  What if book marketing could actually be enjoyable – a natural extension of your writing life? Well, it can. Let me tell you how.

Promotion and marketing, at their essence, are about connecting creators and consumers. In the case of book promotion this simply means helping writers and readers engage. What better way to relate to readers than through storytelling? Behind every story you write there are many more stories – tales about the moment you first knew you were a writer, accounts of what inspired you, life experiences that shaped your heroes and heroines, difficult sessions spent crafting complex scenes, travels that helped you enrich your settings with important details. If you’re a nonfiction writer, there were the years you spent building and honing your expertise and authority. These are the stories behind your stories. Readers love them, and Bublish can help you celebrate and share them across the social Web.

Bublish is the free social book discovery and commerce platform that is revolutionizing how writers share their stories and readers find books they’ll love. The platform turns book promotion into storytelling, a marketing technique used by many of the world’s most powerful brands. Stories lead to strong connection and engagement. As humans, our brains are wired for them. They provide context in a content abundant world. They speak to us, not at us. Bublish puts this powerful branding and marketing technique at your fingertips, enabling you to share your stories and voice without ever feeling like a salesperson.

At the heart of the Bublish platform is the book bubble:

 Jen Talty bubble 1

Notice that on a single screen, readers can enjoy an excerpt from your book, a synopsis, your bio and photo, the book’s cover art, links to your website and an “author insight.” It’s in the author insight that you get to share the story behind your story. Think of it like a director’s cut for your book.

Book bubbles are also designed for the social Web. They allow authors to create original, highly engaging content in seconds and share it across multiple social channels where readers can enjoy it and share it with their networks. Over time, this “network effect” helps authors start conversations with new readers and build their fan base.

Book marketing in the Digital Age is also about marketing into the “endless tail.” Book sales are no longer constrained by bookshelf space, print runs or seasons. Authors need effective, scalable tools to help them maintain long-term relationships with readers. The book bubble is one powerful tool. As the platform evolves, we’ll be adding more to help authors keep in touch with readers in an authentic but manageable way.

We also host a number of weekly events to support our authors or “bublishers.” The newest bubbles are highlighted in our #SampleSunday Marathon on Twitter @BublishMe. On Monday’s we turn the stream into the Bublish Floating Bookstore and share it across multiple social channels. Most Thursdays, we host a live chat with someone from the Bublish community. Finally, we have special events on a regular basis.

If you’re tired of wearing a promoter’s hat and would rather remain a creative, come and check out the Bublish community of writers and readers as we partner to shape the future of social book discovery. We promise, once you create your first book bubble, you’ll stop avoiding book promotion. You might even think it’s fun!

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About the Author

kathy Meis 1Kathy Meis is the founder of Bublish as well as a professional writer, editor and nonfiction ghostwriter. She has more than twenty years of experience in the media and publishing industries.

How do you promote on Kobo?

By Patty Jansen

When other writers hear that I sell quite well on Kobo, the reaction is invariably: how do you do that? I don’t even know how to promote my books there.

Last month, this post appeared on the Kobo Writing Life blog, which details useful sites for ebook promotion. There are also a few Facebook groups that concentrate on Kobo or sites that sell ebooks in EPUB format. Kobo Writing Life and Kobo Indie Ebooks are two I can think of.

Invariably, a lot of these Facebook groups have the same problem in common: they are populated mainly by writers wanting to “promote”. You may sell a copy or two, but those books are bought by someone who came to the site wanting to advertise their own books.

*sigh*

So, maybe we need to step away from that tacky word “promote”.

What does promote mean? Since the start of self-publishing, it has come to mean spam the living daylights out of all your Facebook and Twitter friends, and pay big bucks for advertising that may or may not work, but even if it works, effects are usually very short-lived.

Many people seem to survive on this crash diet of expensive promos and free giveaways and so many of them are becoming disillusioned with the process. It’s a draining and tiring and takes you away from writing.

The reason people give away books is because they want to find people who will champion their fiction. The more copies of your book you have in circulation, the better the chance of finding people who will love your work. If you make your book free, you can give away lots of books. Hang on, only if you can get mentioned on one of the main free and cheap book blogs, which don’t list as many free books as they used to, because of a crackdown on the use of affiliate links for free titles (story too long to recite here). The free spots on those blogs have become competitive, which means that the blogs charge for them. Yes. To advertise a free book.

This may work if you have more books in the series, and you may not lose any money if you make your book 99 cents rather than free, but still…

In my opinion, this is spiralling into all the wrong directions.

Some time, in some industry called the traditional publishing industry (remember that?) someone said something that went like: money flows to the writer. Not to the service providers. I do sometimes pay for advertising, but I’m starting to feel very uneasy about this whole free/cheap book blog money-grabbing business. Feel free to disagree in the comments.

So.

How DO you promote on Kobo? Because Kobo doesn’t offer this crash-course diet of free days, and there are only a few dedicated Kobo book promotion blogs.

The same way as you can let people know about your fiction everywhere else:

1. Write a good book

2. Write a sequel. Make sure you brand books as a series. Make sure you number the volumes.

3. Write another sequel. Make book 1 free if you want, but that’s not really necessary.

4. Talk about your book on your author and Facebook page, Facebook groups and on Twitter. I mean talk about, not spam.

5. The three Be’s: Be there, Be genuine, Be interesting on social media

6. Do a LibraryThing give-away (free), casually give away ebooks to anyone who shows interest in reviewing.

7. Do an occasional guest post on someone else’s blog.

8. Make sure your author website has a page for each book that lists links to all the places where people can buy the book. Remember that if they use Google Chrome with adblocker, people will not see your links if you use affiliate codes.

9. The most important thing is that this process is a constant, low-key affair that need not take you away from the rest of your life for more than 15 minutes a day.

Right. Did I mention the word “Kobo” in any of these points? I did not. Because this method is a one-stop-shop and works everywhere, including on Kobo. I would say especially on Kobo and other sites that are dedicated to selling books. The most valuable thing an author can have is a reader base that’s not linked to any one retailer.

 

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About the Author:

Patty JansenPatty Jansen lives in Sydney, Australia. She loves to write fantasy set in unusual worlds, space opera and realistic science fiction. She has sold short fiction to genre magazines such as Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Redstone SF and Aurealis.

Her novels include Watcher’s Web and Trader’s Honour (Return of the Aghyrians series, with book 3 expected later this year), The Far Horizon (middle grade SF), Charlotte’s Army (military SF) and Fire & Ice, Dust & Rain and Blood & Tears (Icefire Trilogy). Follow Patty’s blog for news on her fiction, her Monday dawn photography project, discussions on science in fiction and digital art.

Tips on how to get discovered

Want to escalate the traffic to your eBooks and increase sales? We know it’s difficult for self-published authors to get the exposure they need for their titles; competing for space against traditional publishers and big name authors.

When it comes to self-publishing, we find that an author’s success often depends on how much time and effort they’re willing to put in on their end.

So we have found 4 ways to market your book on any budget. Kobo Book Hub and Trindie Books are to promote your Kobo eBooks only. But there are also sites, such as BookBub and StoryFinds that allow you to market other eBook distributors as well as Kobo.

 

 kobo book hub

Kobo Book Hub

Price – Free

What You Need to Do – Just fill out the submission form, and your books will be put in the queue for approval.

What You Need to Know – Not all books will be featured; the selection will be made based on perceived quality and available slots. There will be more free books featured than bargains, and more bargains than full-price books. *Bargains are all books priced below $2 (regardless of whether it’s a promotion or not), Full Price are all books priced above that.*

Rules:

  1. The posts will go out once a day per category (for now). Each post contains up to 10 books. If you won’t fit the post one day, you will go first in queue on the next day.
  2. The links in the form MUST WORK. If the Kobo or Cover link is not working, your book will be removed from queue and you must submit again.
  3. They reserve the right not to post a book at their discretion.

 trindie books

Trindie Books

Price

  • Book of the Day feature – $25
  • Free eBook listing – Free
  • Sidebar ads are also available. Please contact for pricing.
  • Book Giveaway contesting – $25
  • Blog Tours. Please contact for pricing.

What You Need to Do - Just fill out the submission form, and your books will be put in the queue for approval.

What You Need To Know

  1. They do not guarantee that your book will be posted due to the large number of requests, but they will do their best to schedule it. If they are unable to feature your book, your payment will be refunded.
  2. They reserve the right to refuse any book for any reason.
  3. They may take clips of reviews or author info that are posted on your Kobo listing or other sites (your website, Amazon or Goodreads) to fill out the submission if necessary.

 

bookbub

BookBub

Price – It ranges from $40 to $1200 depending on the price and the genre of the book.

What You Need to Do - Just fill out the submission form, and your books will be put in the queue for approval.

What You Need to Know – BookBub is an “advertorial” newsletter. Although it consists of paid advertisements, only those books the editorial team feels are the best deals for their subscribers are selected to be featured in the email.

Requirements:

  1. BookBub features books that are either free or discounted by at least 50%.
  2. Top quality content
  3. Best deals available
  4. Professional Presentation
  5. They will not feature the same book more than once every 120 days, or once every 90 days if targeting a different category. Nor will we feature the same author more than once every 30 days.
  6. They promote books that are discounted for a limited time, usually not much longer than a week.
  7. They promote full-length works, so we do not typically accept listings for books under 150 pages.
  8. We only feature deals that are available at one or more of the major retailers where BookBub’s members buy eBooks.
  9. They promote books that fit into our member interest categories.
  10. However, please note that even if your deal meets all of these qualifications, that does not guarantee that it will be selected for a listing slot.

 

 

storyfinds

StoryFinds (storyfinds.com/promotions-for-authors)

Price

  • Free book are free to promote, but they do appreciate donations via PayPal.
  • Daily Special (books on sale or priced for $1 or less) – $15 per book listing
  • Author Spotlight – $50
  • 1st Chapter Spotlight – $40
  • Themed Weeks – $20 per book posting

What You Need to Do – Create an author account and then email the required information to promo@storyfinds.com. You can find all the required material in the link above.

What You Need to Know

  • Your book must have a professional cover (Storyfinds.com staff reserves the right to make this determination).
  • No erotic material accepted for FREE Reads.
  • When choosing the dates you would like your promotion to run, they would like at least a weeks’ notice before the chosen day.
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