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.

Annotating and Having Fun With Data

By Everaldo Coelho (YellowIcon) [LGPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Everaldo Coelho (YellowIcon) [LGPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Being able to share data in a number of different ways is one of the perks of living in the digital age. Warning: this post is for the fellow geeks out there.

Annotation Online

I’ll start with sharing some cool annotation tools. According to Library Journal:

Web annotations are an attempt to recreate and extend that functionality as a new layer of interactivity and linking on top of the Web. It will allow anyone to annotate anything anywhere, be it a web page, an ebook, a video, an image, an audio stream, or data in raw or visualized form. Web annotations can be linked, shared between services, tracked back to their origins, searched and discovered, and stored wherever the author wishes; the vision is for a decentralized and open annotation infrastructure.

One way to annotate on the web is by using Hypothes.is, which lets you “annotate with anyone, anywhere.” All you need to do is install a Chrome plugin, and you’re good to go. The idea is to make it easy to have discussions about anything online.

Annotation Studio, which is being developed by MIT, is another great example. You can use their tools to create group discussions, organize research, and link to images and video.

There’s also Infinite Ulysses, a project that lets readers make annotations on the book Ulysses. They can also filter notes, comment on notes, highlight, and more.

Displaying Data Interactively

Now on to tools to help you display all sorts of data in cool ways (perfect for non-programmers). First up is Cloud Stitch, which lets you “power your website with Google Docs.” If you know how to input data into a Google doc spreadsheet, you can create an interactive site. If you only have three projects under 100 MB, you can use Cloud Stitch free. An example of what you can do include adding Google maps to a story.

Next up is EditData and Flatsheet (the two work together). EditData lives on Github, and is a simpler version of Flatsheet. Flatsheet is a “realtime editor for curating data.” The project is open source, and the use case example on the website is a map that shows a Seattle non-profit’s “locations of art installed in empty storefronts around the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, WA.” Employees at the non-profit, who are not technical, can  “update artist profiles, and the map markers are positioned using the lat/long values from each row in the sheet.”

For more examples of interactive, digital annotations, read The New York Times’ “Skills and Strategies | Annotating to Engage, Analyze, Connect and Create.

Know of any cool tools? Please share in the comments!

A List of Tools for Freelance and Indie Authors

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By Daren (IMG_1713) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Having trouble staying motivated? Sometimes it helps to use some new tools to keep you organized and ready to work. Here are some new tools and resources I’ve found:

  • Mattermost: An open-source chatting tool, so you can easily connect with clients, editors, publicists, or anyone on your author street team. Compatible with Slack.
  • Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator: To help you figure out what you should charge, taking into account your salary goal for the year, vacation time, and more.
  • Workflowy: A notebook where you can easily keep lists. Good for brainstorming.
  • My Life Organized: A to-do list. For Windows only.
  • Todoist: A to-do list online. Gives you karma points for finishing tasks.
  • Wunderlist: Another to-do list.
  • Hemingway App: Great tool to use as a first pass for copyediting.
  • Hemingwrite Typewriter: A prototype that blends the romance of writing on a typewriter with technology (syncs with Evernote, Google Docs, and Dropbox.)
  • The Self Publishing Checklist: A handy checklist compiled by Jane Friedman to help with the editing, design, and proofing process.

And if that’s not enough, All Indie Writers has a long list of resources for blogging, marketing, tracking, and more.

And Elite Daily has a list of gadgets that can help you with life in general, such as a bulb that dims to help you sleep, a pen that lets you write on any screen, a tool that helps you prioritize your emails, and more.

Guest Post: Proofreading Style and Grammar with Document Grader

DocuGrader

By Patrick Roberts

Patrick Roberts is the creator of Document Grader, a tool designed to grade writing on a deeper level than the average grammar checking program. Authors can easily use the tool to help with their work.

Document Grader goes beyond finding superficial grammar or spelling mistakes, as most grammar checking tools already do.  Instead, the service highlights a wide range of language/usage issues that might affect the readability of your writing, including phrases that might be too wordy, colloquial, passive or cliched. When you click on these contextual highlights you will see an explanation of the issue along with some useful examples of what to do and what not to do.  In many cases, you can fix the issues in your writing with a single click.

Patrick created the following video to show what Document Grader looks like in action:

Patrick Roberts is a self-employed IT professional who is interested in internet based tools for writers. Along these lines, he recently released Document Grader (www.docgrader.com) to help authors of all shapes and sizes improve their writing habits.

Ebook Formatting Options for Indie Authors

By Per Palmkvist Knudsen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Per Palmkvist Knudsen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

For indie authors, one great way to save money when it comes to publishing your books is to learn how to make your own ebooks. Personally, when it comes to creating ebooks, I recommend using Sigil, and I teach an online course on Udemy on how to use Sigil and other free tools to create your own beautiful ebooks.

But there are a myriad of other options. Below are some examples: Continue reading

805 Writers Conference: Self-Publishing Primer and More

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This past weekend, I was one of the speakers at the 805 Writers Conference, held in Ventura, California. 805 Writers Conference is an annual event for writers, and this year had a number of wonderful speakers who covered a wide range of topics, including adapting fiction for the screen, writing a non-fiction proposal, writing mysteries and thrillers, writing articles, how to get published, how to sell books, and book marketing tactics. There were also panels with literary agents and book editors.

I was one of two speakers for the session called “Self-Publishing Primer – what has changed and how authors are selling books,” along with Leann Garms, founder of Build.Buzz.Launch. All the sessions have been recorded and should be available online shortly for those who attended the conference.

For those unable to attend the conference, I have an expanded version of my presentation available on Slideshare, which covers

  1. Writing and editing tools
  2. Cover design
  3. Ebook creation tools and techniques
  4. Ebook distribution channels
  5. Marketing tactics
  6. Authorpreneurship concepts
  7. Changes and developments in the industry.

Indie Authors: Writing and Publishing Tools

It seems that every day I come across a new site or tool that can help with writing, editing, promoting, or pretty much any stage in the publishing process. (The Book Designer has a great article explaining why authors should embrace new technologies.) Here are links to a few of the best ones: Continue reading

Guest Post: Get More Blog Traffic with These Free Keyword Research Tools

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Courtesy of Ciphers, via Wikimedia Commons

By Brian Lang – Founder, Small Business Ideas Blog

Finding and using the right keywords is essential when it comes to running a successful blog. Brian Lang, owner of Small Business Ideas Blog, covers how to research the best keywords.

Blogging is a great way for freelance writers and authors to showcase their skills and start building a following.

Bloggers that can successfully grow their following also find it easier to get high paying freelance work, grow a profitable business, or launch new books successfully. Continue reading

Poetica, A New Editing Tool

Poetica

Very recently, a new tool for editing called Poetica (that I’ve been waiting on for nearly two years, since I first heard about it at Books in Browsers) launched.

Poetica was created to bring the elegance and trust of paper editing to the digital world. As you can see in the image above, editors can add annotations, comments, and more in different colors. The interface is slick, and meant to promote a collaborative experience. Continue reading