Indie Author Marketing Guide: Google Plus

Google Plus is a social media platform that is not as talked about as Facebook or Twitter, but can be very important, depending on your niche.

Google Plus Basics

For those who may not be too familiar with Google Plus, here are a few of the basics. First, you fill out a profile, with a picture, a cover image, and whatever information you feel comfortable sharing about yourself. After you create a personal profile, you can create a business profile, or page, such as the one for my side project, I Know Dino. Continue reading

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Indie Author Marketing Guide: A Primer to Social Media

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Social media is a big part of indie author marketing strategies these days. But for those just starting out, it may seem daunting. When I first began using social media for platform building, I felt slightly overwhelmed. But now, after lots of practice and just incorporating social media into my daily routine, I’ve come to embrace it. And instead of seeing it like a chore, I see it as another way to connect and interact with people, and I’ve been able to build real relationships through it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. (And if you want guidance on how to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed, read Your Writer Platform’s “Are You Building Your Writer Platform at Gunpoint?“)

Don’t use social media just to sell books

Kristen Lamb’s “Social Media, Book Signings & Why Neither Directly Impact Overall Sales” goes into depth on why this is not a good strategy, but basically you don’t want to spam people/just make noise, and you will not develop any real relationships this way (meaning, you won’t attract real fans).

Rachel Thompson suggests spending more time online finding people who may be willing to review your books, and she gives a list of suggestions in her article “Why ‘Read My Book!’ Doesn’t Work…And What To Do Instead

Focus on one or two platforms first, then build from there

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Google. Youtube. Goodreads. LinkedIn. Tumblr. The list goes on and on. You can be active on all these channels, but it’s probably best to pick one or two and work on growing an audience there first. Every social media channel works a little differently, caters to a different audience, and has savvy users who expect others to use the network a certain way. The Book Designer’s “Do You Make These Online Marketing Mistakes?” offers tips, such as establishing one audience per channel and using landing pages.

Social Media Just for Writers also recommends researching your target market and then choosing your social media platform based on that in “How to Stop Wasting Time and Focus Your Book Marketing.” For advice on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube, read DBW’s “The Book Marketing Social Media Hierarchy: Which Sites to Use for Which Purposes.”

Business Insider broke down the demographics of some of the social media platforms. According to them, the 45- to 54-year-old demographic is growing, “27% of 18 to 29-year-olds in the U.S. use Twitter,” LinkedIn and Google+ are mostly male, Pinterest is mostly women on tablets, and Tumblr is mostly teens and young adults.

Eventually you can expand into other platforms. For a case study on why, read Kate Tilton’s “Why I Use Different Social Media Networks (And You Should Too) by @K8Tilton.”

For help determining which platform is best for you, read these articles:

Strategize how you will build your platform

Erindor Press’s “Platform Building Primer” is a good start, and advocates setting expectations and figuring out the best way to share content, either via blogging, email newsletters, or something else (and you can use social media to promote that content).

The Loneliest Planet shared a post, called “One Writer’s Platform (Part 2) Events and PR,” which goes over techniques of marketing offline (such as doing public readings and lectures) but also adds that it’s worth taping these performances and uploading them to Youtube to share.

Use lots of images/visuals

People tend to engage more with posts, tweets, etc. that are visual. According to Rebekah Radice’s “5 Steps to Get Massive Engagement With Your Visual Content,” “43% of social media users share pictures.” She recommends having consistent colors, using templates, appropriate fonts, and to create infographics, images, and videos.

Build Book Buzz recommends creating different types of images, including picture quotes, tipographics, and infographics. For tips on how to actually create these images, read Social Media Just For Writer’s “Writers: Use Visuals to Market Your Books.”

Make use of social media tools

Here’s a list of resources, along with helpful tips and links to additional tools:

Keep up to date on new platforms and tools

Lastly, the social media landscape is constantly changing, so it’s good to stay up to date. One example of a relatively new tool/platform is Aerbook, which according to PW turns social media into a virtual bookstore. Earlier this year, Social Media Just for Writers wrote about how indie authors can use Aerbook, which allows you to share previews and even sell ebooks on social media networks, as well as see analytics on your shares.

According to the article, there are three product plans to choose from:

Aerbook Retail is free, no credit card required. It gives you the social look inside the book, email capture popups within the sample, stats on how the book is used, and the ability to share the link and also get web page widgets that launch the Aerbook. This plan lets you sell the book directly through Aerbook, and our service earns 15% of the purchase price after credit card fees are deducted.

Aerbook Plus gives you everything Aerbook Retail delivers, plus lets you add links to other retailers, like Amazon, iBooks, or even your own purchase page. Aerbook Plus is $49 per year.

Aerbook Flyer includes everything above, but there’s no direct sale through Aerbook’s commerce service. You’ll add links to other retailers. Flyer also lets you do book giveaways, and includes 500 directly delivered, complete books annually. Flyer is $99 per year.

Got any social media tips? Please share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published September 2015, as part of the Indie Author Marketing Guide series.

Publishing in VR

By Manus VR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Manus VR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Virtual reality (VR) isn’t only for games. More traditional publishers are also incorporating the new medium into their content, and it’s exciting to see it all unfold and think about how stories may exist in the not-too-distant future.

According to Digital Book World, “VR could be the next frontier for publishers as a new revenue source.”

One example of a publisher using VR is the New York Times, and their Olympic Stadiums in VR, according to Upload VR. The project is called The Modern Games and it allows people to explore the Olympic stadiums in Rio as well as in past Olympic cities. To recreate past cities, NY Times pieced together thousands of old photos. The producer, Graham Roberts, said, “We’re always thinking about what makes something valuable in virtual reality. There has to be a reason that we’re making it in VR and not a standard 2D medium.” Continue reading

New Ebook Fonts Make Ereading More Like Print

The average reader probably doesn’t think a lot about fonts, but they are important contributors to the reading experience.

A few weeks ago, Google announced a new typeface for Google Books, called Literata. The Next Web goes into more detail, but the gist is Google ebooks now have a font that distinguishes it from ebooks read on a Nook or Kindle, and it was created to give a better reading experience, with varied texture to make it more interesting. According to The Next Web, this font has been in the works since April 2014.

Interestingly, just a few days after Google announced its new font, Amazon announced Bookerly, the new font for Kindles. According to FastCoDesign, is a custom-made serif font that replaces Caecilia as the default font. The article says Amazon tested the font for increased legibility, reading speed, and reduced eyestrain–the article said, “According to Amazon’s internal tests, that means it’s about 2% easier on the eye.” Bookerly looks like a mix of Baskerville and Caecilia, and the new font will stand out with Kindle’s new layout engine, which makes the ebooks read a lot more like print books:

Even if you max out the font size on the new Kindle app, it will keep the spacing between words even, intelligently hyphenating words and spreading them between lines as need may be.

The layout engine also contains some beautiful new kerning options. They’re subtle, but once you see them, you can’t unsee them: for example, the way that the top and bottom of a drop cap on the Kindle now perfectly lines up with the tops and bottoms of its neighboring lines. Like I said, it’s a small detail, but one that even Apple’s iBooks and Google Play Books doesn’t manage to quite get right.

It sounds like Amazon was working on these developments for a while, so it’s probably coincidence that Literata and Bookerly came out around the same time.

What I find particularly interesting is that new technologies and designs are geared towards replicating the print experience. In many ways, it makes sense, and I wonder if these types of changes will convince people who love print to embrace digital.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

Comparing the Ebook Submission Process: Self-Publishers v. Publishers

I recently wrapped up a freelance project with a small publisher, where I uploaded/submitted ebook files and metadata to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google. In the process, I thought about the similarities and differences between how a self-publisher would go about distributing an ebook versus a publishing company that is submitting files themselves instead of using an intermediary such as Ingram.

One of the biggest differences is that regular publishers have the option of also distributing and selling enhanced ebooks. However, currently only Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble accepts and sells enhanced ebooks. For this particular project, I worked with standard ebooks and enhanced ebooks which contained video files.  Continue reading

Self-publishing ebooks: Why maximizing distribution matters

New technologies and startups have made it easier than ever to self-publish ebooks. But they don’t make it any easier to make a living writing. The most important thing you can do as a self-published author, however, is to make sure your ebook is available through as many retail channels as possible. (FYI, ebook sales accounted for 20% of book sales in 2011, up from 10% in 2010. Good sign!)

Think about it. If your ebook is not available, then no one can buy it. So the best way to help boost your sales is to make sure your ebook is available for purchase. If you’re self-publishing an ebook, you’re an entrepreneur, and that means you should to put in as much effort as possible (yes, this means using your valuable time), to sell your product.

Continue reading

Google eBookstore–A Chrome Experiment

Google has found a creative way for readers to find good ebooks. If you’re using Chrome, you should check out the WebGL Bookcase, which allows you to browse through a virtual circular bookcase, click on covers that interest you, and read a synopsis of a book by flipping through it online. If you like what you see, you can click on the book and you’ll be directed to the Google eBookstore, where you can purchase it.

 

 

Google Loves Lucy

Today would have been Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, and Google paid tribute to her. Until midnight tonight, anyone who goes on the Google search home page can play six clips from the famous “I Love Lucy” TV show. Read more at searchenginewatch and Google’s blog.

BEA Day 1

First day of my first BEA, BookExpo America. Fortunately, because of this publishing blog, I was able to attend for free! I spent about five hours today at the Expo, and I still wasn’t able to cover everything. It can be a little overwhelming, as some attendees may agree, but totally worth it.

This year, BEA was held at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. BEA took up all four floors, with exhibits featuring hundreds of publishers, an entire section devoted to author signings, and the whole bottom floor open for meetings and panel discussions about the publishing industry.

I spent about an hour in the digital area, talking to people about companies that convert documents into ebooks, businesses that help publishers sell books directly from their websites, nonprofits who deal with copyright laws, and companies that create enhanced ebooks. There is a surprisingly large number of different softwares publishers can use these days. Trilogy, a Microsoft Certified Business Solutions Partner, is a company that sells software for mid- to large-sized publishers. Publishers can use their program to keep track of all sales, and track books from idea to publication.

Copyright Clearance Center is a non-profit that helps clients gain the rights to re-use content–which may be very useful to companies who are unable to afford their own attorneys. Innodata Isogen is a company based in Hackensack, NJ that provides, among other things, a service for publishers to convert their documents into ebooks and enhanced ebooks. They also had the most high-tech business card, which turns into a USB drive containing more information about the company.

Other exciting companies included Q&R, Cyberwolf, and QBend. These three companies help publishers sell books, both print and digital, directly from their websites. Q&R also develops apps that allows consumers to make notes and share on social networks about the books they are reading. Cyberwolf has an interesting solution to the piracy dilemma publishers now face in the digital world. Publishers have the choice of adding strict DRM, but they also have the option of social DRM. This means that consumers may buy the ebook, and a watermark will appear on each page that contains personal information about that consumer (email, phone number, etc.). That way, consumers are free to share their books with friends, but are less likely to pirate books for fear of spreading their personal information. QBend allows consumers to share their ebooks with friends, and they give publishers the option of selling separate chapters of a book, so they can try and serialize a book. All of these features are great ways to help publishers market themselves and increase sales. Who knew it could be so easy?

I also met some of the people who run BookRix, a social community for writers. Over two years, they have cultivated over 250,000 members, all who upload and give feedback to each other’s work. This really emphasizes to me the importance of social media and building communities. Later this year, BookRix will expand to publish ebooks as well as help their writers self-publish. It’s a great idea, especially since they already have such a large audience.

I was also able to see one of the Google Speaking Sessions, “The Future of eBooks Publishing Executive Panel.” The moderator was Tom Turvey, director, strategic partnerships of Google Books. And the panelists were Amanda Clos, president of Random House Digital, Evan Schnittman, EVP of Business Development of Bloomsbury, David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, and Andrew Savikas, SVP of O’Reilly and CEO of Safari Books Online.

“Ebooks are a convenience read,” according to Evan Schnittman. This means that consumers buy books in their digital form because they know they want it, and it’s easier to have as an ebook than a print book.

“Digital is good for hunters and not gatherers,” David Steinberger said.

Most of the panelists agreed that the Netflix model is very instructive for book publishers. The way Netflix has made movies accessible and searchable is a good starting point for where book publishers should go in the future. On any given night in the U.S., Netflix accounts from 30% of the bandwidth.

Another topic that was discussed was whether or not best-seller lists will continue to drive book sales. Apparently, they only work well in the U.S.

Amanda Close said that she expects we’ll see more targeted retail experiences, and that a diverse product selection will be more beneficial.

“A market is a conversation,” David Steinberger said. Markets need to be evolved to meet consumers needs.

“Consumers need help” when it comes to finding books to buy, Evan Schnittman said.

How book publishers will continue to market themselves and make money was another topic of interest.

“We are a data rich industry,” Amanda Close said. “The more we know our customers, the better.”

Some people think book publishers should look to magazines for guidance on how to find out more demographic information about its consumers. Magazines market to their audience and have great direct relationships to their consumers.

But, Evan Schnittman had doubts. “I’m struggling with the concept of holding up the magazine industry as a beacon for success.” Makes sense, since the magazine industry is struggling too, especially with their ads. Evan Schnittman thinks that books publishers can “have a marketing relationship with consumers, but can’t effectively have a sales relationship.”

Of course, a big part of BEA is getting advance galleys and free books! Two books that stood out to me today were Eromenos by Melanie McDonald, who I had the pleasure of meeting today, and The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch.

Eromenos is a coming-of-age novel about Antinous of Bithynia, who had a seven-year affair with Hadrian, an emperor of Rome. This is Melanie’s debut novel.

The Eleventh Plague is the story of a young boy born after a war and a plague.

Jeff Hirsch signed an advanced copy for me–best author signature ever!