author tip sheet

Author Tip Sheets: The Whys and Hows

author tip sheetYou may have heard about an author tip sheet, sometimes called an author sell sheet. You may have even been told that you should have one. But what in the world is an author tip sheet? Let’s answer some of your questions.

What Is An Author Tip Sheet?

Think of an author tip sheet as a resume or a brochure for your book. It’s your one-page pitch about what the book is about, who it’s for and what people need to know about it. I like to think of it as sort of an abbreviated print version of  your author website.

Why Should I Have an Author Tip Sheet?

Every business person has a business card. Every company has a brochure. Your author tip sheet is the equivalent. When you meet someone who might be interested in your book — be it an agent/publisher, bookseller or reader — your author tip sheet is the thing you want to leave behind. Many authors swear by it as a primary way to make a meaningful connection with people who can take their book to the next level.

What Should Go Into an Author Tip Sheet?

As I mentioned before, an author tip sheet is very much like an author website. It should be a one-pager that includes the most important elements about your book.

There are certain musts on an author tip sheet, including:

  • Your book title and book cover
  • A brief book description
  • Publishing details (publisher name, ISBN, pub date, price, page count, etc…)
  • Purchasing options (formats, bulk order options, etc…)
  • Your target audience and why they will be interested
  • Your website/blog URL and/or social media accounts

Other optional elements to include (depending on your subject matter, book publishing status, etc…) could include:

  • Your book marketing plan
  • Comparable titles
  • Review blurbs and/or testimonials
  • Special honors you or the book have received
  • Your bio and/or a list of other books you’ve published
  • Fast facts about why your book is a must read, (i.e. Did you know that 1/3 of Americans …..)

What Format Is It in?

As you have probably figured out by now, an author tip sheet is usually a printed one-pager that you can leave behind when you visit a bookstore or other professional contact. Experts also recommend that the one-pager be available as a PDF that is accessible through your website. This will allow site visitors to print it out — and start handing it out — thus increasing your reach.

Do You Have Examples of Other Author Tip Sheets?

Yup. Here are a few that might serve as good models for you if you’re interested in getting started.

Dorothy Hamilton, Love What You Do
(created by iUniverse)

Brian Thomas Schmidt, The Worker Prince

Tom Harbin, MD, Waking Up Blind

So How Do I Make One?

If you’re working with an outside firm that handles anything from web design to book cover design to PR, they should be able to create an author tip sheet for you. But if you’re going it alone and want to create one yourself, there are a variety of websites that offer downloadable templates. Here are just a few we’ve found:

Hopefully, this has helped you better understand what an author tip sheet is, why you need one and how to make one. If you have experiences — good or bad — with your author tip sheet, please share them with us in the comments box below.

Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Group Blogs: The Hows and Whys for Authors

So you know you should blog to promote your book. But you worry it will be a waste of your time and effort. The solution? Group blogs.

Why Authors Should Consider Group Blogs

First, let’s define group blogs. These are individual blogs on specific topics that have multiple authors, each contributing posts.

Group Blogs for Authors -- Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, in other words, you might create a group blog on, say, weight loss. Then you might have five different authors who each have written books on diet, exercise, etc… who regularly contribute to this blog with their own individual posts. People who visit the blog would be able to read all the posts in chronological order, or simply read the ones by the contributor they are most interested in. Each of those posts would also include promotion of the individual titles that each author has written and/or links to their personal site.

The benefits of group blogs for authors like you is numerous, including:

  • You can expose yourself to a new audience. In other words, people following one of the other blog contributors are likely to see your posts as well.
  • The shared responsibility of keeping the blog updated doesn’t sit solely on you; it’s a team that keeps it alive and kicking.
  • More posts = more traffic = more book sales. It’s simple.

Creating or Joining Group Blogs

If group blogs sounds more palatable to you than blogging on your own, how would you go about doing it?

First, see if there are already any group blogs created in your genre. Do some Google searching to identify any that may be out there, and then reach out to those bloggers about becoming a contributor.

If there aren’t any group blogs in your genre, you can start your own if you’re willing to take on the responsibility. Start by setting up a blog for free at WordPress.com. Post one or two entries yourself to set the tone and theme. Then reach out to other authors in your field (if you know them personally, great; if not, a simple search should allow you to find authors promoting themselves) and ask them if they’re interested in being a contributor. Create posts on Facebook and/or LinkedIn pitching group blogging — you can link to this blog post — and asking those who are interested to reach out.

Group Blogging Tips

If you are going lead a group blog, here are some tips and things to keep in mind.

  • You can add authors and contributors easily through WP Admin. Go to Users → Invite New to invite others to join your team to be contributors or authors (more on this distinction below).
  • Decide if you want final authority over everything posted on your group blog. If you give contributors “author” rights, they can post and publish instantaneously. Or you can decide to make them “contributors,” in which case you would be able to review each post before it goes live.
  • Make sure to have each contributor create a user profile and gravatar. This will allow visitors to easily differentiate between each contributor.
  • You can also have each author be his or her own “category” of posts, making it easy for readers to sort posts by contributor.
  • Have all your contributors follow the same guidelines about tagging blog posts, optimizing them for keywords, etc… Consistency is key.
  • Use the super-cool author widgets that WordPress offers. Consider “Author’s Widget” — “an easy, direct way to display your team, as shown on The Smoke-Filled Room. When configuring the widget, you can adjust some settings, from a custom widget title, to the number of posts to show for each author, to the ability to specify avatar size.” Or try “Author Grid,” which brings in the photos of each of your authors/editors.

Have you tried group blogging? What worked for you? What pitfalls did you face? Share them with us!

marketing tips for getting an agent for a book

Getting an Agent for a Book: Why Self-Marketing Is Essential

So you’re starting to think about getting an agent for a book. Your manuscript is almost finished and it’s time to get it out there. Where do you start?

In today’s world, I would argue, becoming a self-marketer before getting an agent for a book is essential. Now, not everyone agrees with that. I was just looking at a conversation on LinkedIn specifically about this. Here’s how it went…

marketing tips for getting an agent for a book

I personally got a kick out of the “trying to get your kid into Harvard before you meet any women” reference. But I would venture to say that argument is wrong. Here is why.

Point #1: You Need to Prove Your Marketing Chops Before Getting an Agent for a Book

In the olden days, authors were just authors. Publishers did everything else — from book editing to cover design to marketing. Well, the world has changed.

Some people mistakenly think that only self-published authors have to wear all those hats. But what they don’t realize is that the publishing industry has changed significantly in the last decade. Sure, publishers invest lots of time and energy in making sure that the upcoming books of their bestselling authors have the perfect covers, press releases sent to premium media outlets, and great presences on social media. But that’s only done for the authors that have already made them loads of money. Every other author they work with? They are on their own.

And that’s where pre-pub marketing plays in. Since a publisher knows that the success or failure of your first book depends, in part, on how good a marketer you are, they want to work with authors who understand marketing and have shown some success with it in the past. And agents know that. In other words, “good marketing=agent interest=publisher interest.”

Point #2: You Need to Sell Yourself to An Agent, So They Can Sell You to a Publisher

You may have written the best manuscript in the world. But unless you know how to sell it, it’s for naught. Trust me: the last thing an agent wants to have to do is spend his time helping you rework how you’re positioning your book before reaching out to publishers.

So as you start the process of getting an agent for a book, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who does my book appeal to?
  • Why is it different or unique from other books out there?
  • What is the most compelling aspect of my book?
  • How can I summarize my book in several paragraphs?

Keep these points in mind as you craft your inquiry letters and book summaries. These are questions a marketer would ask herself as she starts to scope out her brand — whether she was selling jewelry, real estate, or a book. So put on the hat of a marketer before reaching out to an agent. You need to show that you can sell your book before he will put himself out there to sell your book.

So How Do You Start Marketing Yourself?

While the term “marketing” can sound somewhat intimidating for some, here are some simple ways to get yourself started:

  • Build yourself an author website. I could go on and on about this. Or you can just contact us for a free consultation.
  • Create at least one social media presence for yourself. Here are some ideas on how to choose the right ones.
  • Start blogging to drive traffic to your site and help build your brand.
  • Collect email addresses. When an agent asks you how many names you have collected, be prepared to answer.

There’s obviously plenty more you can do, but taking these four steps are a great way to dip your toes in the marketing necessary for getting an agent for a book.

how to promote your book

How to Promote Your Book on Your Website

how to promote your bookEver wonder how to promote your book online? Whether or not you already have an author website, there are definitely right ways and there are wrong ways to feature (and hopefully sell) your book there. Here are some examples of the dos and don’ts.

How to Promote Your Book: The “Do’s”

  • DO make sure your book is prominently featured on your homepage … “above the fold” as we call it.
  • DO have a separate “book” page that people can land on if they are looking for more information.
  • DO include your book cover and links to purchase it on every page of your site.
  • DO create/highlight a book trailer … or even a video of you talking about the book.
  • DO have a book teaser on your homepage, and a longer book summary available for readers on the book page.
  • DO offer a free chapter and/or book excerpts that will allow people to get a sense of the tone.
  • DO include reviews/testimonials about the book.
  • DO add some “book extras” to your website, like a “behind the book” story or secrets about how certain characters got their names.
  • DO make it super clear who your book speaks to and why that audience would want to read it.
  • DO maintain a blog and/or a social media presence to continue tying your book into current news and events.
  • DO optimize your site for the search engines so that people can easily find your book.
  • DO include any honors your book may have won. Why not???
  • DO make it clear all the ways your book may be available (hardcover, paperback, e-book, etc…)
  • DO make it clear if you’re working on another book or if your book is part of a series … you want to build a legion of fans who follow your writing.

How to Promote Your Book: A Few “Dont’s”

  • DON’T only feature your book on your homepage. It deserves a page of its own!
  • DON’T expect people to buy a book when the description of it is only a paragraph or two long.
  • DON’T make it hard for people to buy the book. Make the buy buttons prominent and clear.
  • DON’T make your book excerpt so cool or flashy that it’s not readable on all devices. A PDF is fine!
  • DON’T use a low-quality photo for your book cover. You want this to be large and attention grabbing!

Do you have any additional dos or don’ts you’d want to add to this list? Anything on other author sites that impressed you (or did the opposite)? Share them with us!

sell books

How to Sell Books Through Your Author Website

It’s one of the primary reasons an author creates a website: to sell books. And yet, these same authors still seem to be confused about some of the logistics of how to sell books. Here are some frequently asked questions.

sell booksCan I include links to Amazon, B&N, etc… to sell books?

Linking out to Amazon, B&N, your publisher — or any other sites that sells your book — is incredibly easy. In fact, we often recommend that authors include links to ALL the sites that sell their books (so as not to appear to favor one seller over another). All you have to do is choose the text and/or icons that you want to serve as links, and then use the handy dandy link feature in WordPress to make sure each one goes to the right place. Voila!

Can I sell books myself?

Absolutely. There are a variety of ways to do this — some easier than others. The simplest is to create a PayPal account. PayPal will then allow you to set a price for the book, a shipping charge, and a tax percentage. You then get an embed code from PayPal that you can put on your site. Once someone clicks on that “buy” link, they make the payment through PayPal, you get notification via email, and then you can take care of shipping it to the buyer.

There are far more complicated systems as well, but most authors start with the basic PayPal function. If you want more detail on your options, check out this blog post on the various ways to sell books.

How do I know if someone has bought my book through my site?

This is actually more complicated than it sounds. Obviously, if you’re selling the book yourself via PayPal, you know if someone has purchased it. But tracking that purchase can be a lot more complicated when it’s simply someone coming to your site, clicking a link to Amazon and then making the purchase.

My recommendation is that you set up an Amazon Affiliate account. This will allow you to put a specific tracking code on your links. Not only does this let you see who has gone from your site to directly to purchase your book on Amazon, but it also actually gives you a small percentage of the sale price as a commission! That’s a win-win.

What kinds of incentives can I offer on my website to sell books?

If you plan to sell the book yourself, there are a variety of incentives you can offer for someone to make the purchase. Since you’ll be doing the actual packaging and shipping, you might opt to include a “bonus” gift along with the book. That could be a printable discussion guide, some swag that relates to the book … or whatever else you can come up with. I’ve also worked with authors who autograph each and every copy of the book that someone buys through them. So if it ever becomes a bestseller….

Incentives are more challenging when you’re not the one selling the book. But if anyone has found a successful idea, please share it with us!

How do I get people to my website in the first place so that they’ll buy my book?

It’s true. People actually have to arrive on your website before they can decide to buy your book through your website. And there are professionals who make careers out of telling authors how to drive traffic to their site, so it’s not exactly a science that i can explain in a few sentences.

But here are some strategies (and more info on each one) that we have found to be successful for authors:

Any last tips on how to sell books through my author website?

Yes! Make it easy for a visitor to your site to buy the book. Don’t make people click around in order to figure out how to make the purchase. Have a “buy” link on each and every page. Make sure it’s clear and prominent. It’s a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often I see that happen.

Happy book sales!

book publishing facts

Book Publishing: 5 Things That Might Surprise You

book publishing factsYou’re writing your first novel. You, of course, would like to get published. So how do you break into book publishing?

Like many fields nowadays, book publishing is an industry that is changing by the minute. Here are five recent statistics that might surprise you.

Book Publishing Stats

1. In 2015, there were 727,125 self-published books. That’s right: nearly three-quarters of a million books were self-published last year. That’s up 21% in the last five years, according to Bowker, and it’s estimated to be roughly two thirds of the total number of books published. And that number is only increasing.

2. Traditional publishers do little to market most books they publish. It’s true. Unless you’re already a bestselling author, it’s unlikely that the publishing company that opts to publish your book will invest a lot of time and money to get it sold. Instead, they will rely on you to get your hands dirty. That’s why, if presented with two books that are equally good, a publishing company is far more likely to publish the book that has an author with a bigger following on social media, or a ready-made email list and promotion plan.

3. The book publishing market has met crowdfunding. Just this week, a milestone was hit. “Crowdfunding giant Kickstarter has hit a landmark, recording $100 million in pledges to small publishers and self-publishing authors,” according to SmallBizTrends.com. This means that not only are there two options for publishing any more — pay for it yourself (self-publish) or let a publisher pay and keep most of the profits — there’s now a third option: get funded.

4. Most authors never make a penny. It’s sad, but true. Here are a few stats from Income Diary:

  • 70% of books don’t make a profit.
  • Traditional publishers keep 90% of the profit from a book’s sales.
  • If a book sells 10,000 copies, it’s considered successful. “The average royalty through a traditional publisher is 10%. So even if you sell 10,000 copies of $10 book (through a traditional publisher), you’re only walking away with $10 grand.”

And yet, all of this doesn’t mean that you’re destined to continue at your full-time job for the rest of your life. In fact, even some self-published authors have gone on to make a very good living. According to Tharawat Magazine, “Mark Dawson, one of Kindles most successful self-publishers, gets paid $450,000 annually.”

5. It takes a village to publish. While it’s true that authors are now more independent than ever — they can self-publish their books with little to no help from a traditional publisher — authors still need a team of people to help get their book to the finish line. Every author should be working with a professional cover designer, book editor, and website developer/marketing consultant to help them get their book to where it needs to be. After all, what good is a wonderfully-written book if the cover looks shoddy or the website is amateurish? You might be a wonderful writer, but you’re probably not a professional at all of these things.

What else have you learned dipping your toes in the book publishing industry? If you have other surprises you’d like to share with authors just starting on the journey, please share them below!

kids reading books: children's authors

6 Tips for Children’s Authors

kids reading books: children's authorsChildren’s authors face some unique challenges. While authors of books about religion or history — or even a romance novelist — have a ready-made audience of people interested in that genre, children’s authors have more of an uphill battle. They need to identify their target audience and convince them that this book is the right one for their kids.

So how should children’s authors get their books out there and in the hands (and minds) of the right people? Here are six strategies to try.

Children’s Authors: 6 Things to Keep in Mind When Marketing Your Books

1. Word of mouth is key. There’s no one out there searching Google for “great kids books.” It just doesn’t happen. So how does a children’s book make it onto the bestseller list? The key is usually word of mouth. In other words, one child reads the book and loves it. Her mom is sitting at the playground the next day and starts talking to her friend about the great book that her daughter read the night before. That’s the beginning of what is ultimately a long chain of conversations about this “book my child loves.” So start by getting your book into the hands of as many parents as possible. Give out free copies. Offer a special deal for your e-book. The more kids that can read it, the more parents that can talk about it.

2. Talk to multiple audiences. Who buys children’s books? Well, parents buy children’s books. Teachers add children’s books to their curriculum. Librarians make children’s book purchases. And, of course, you’ve got the kid who comes home from school and says, “Mommy … will you PLEASE buy me that book that little Timmy was reading?” In other words, children’s authors need to sell their books to multiple audiences. You, of course, want kids to love it. You also want to convince parents that it includes a good lesson for their child. And you want teachers and librarians to know that it’s a great book that will help their kids read (and maybe learn other things along the way). In other words, you need to position your book to each of these audiences uniquely, and possibly even dedicate specific flyers, social media messages, or pages on your website accordingly.

3. Think about events. An event can be many things. It can be a speaking engagement at the public library or local school. It can be a book reading and signing at a bookstore. Or an event can be a fun gathering at the local park or rec center. Maybe you invite kids there with lots of food, snacks and activities. Maybe you create life-like versions of your characters and have the kids interact with them. You can think as big or as small as possible, but actually having the opportunity to interact with parents and children will help you build a loyal fan following. You can find examples of great children’s authors’ events on the Children’s Book Council “Kid Lit” page.

4. Join a children’s book community. There are various organizations out there full of children’s authors (and sellers!) For example, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) boasts more than 22,000 members, and has various regional chapters that hold conferences throughout the year. Conferences like these — and others — allow writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, and agents to meet and get to know one another. Connect with professionals in the industry, and get a chance to schmooze with top children’s book publishers.

5. Make the online experience fun and interactive. Remember: your book is for kids. That means it needs to be fun. So make your children’s author website or social media presence just that. Examples of ways to do this can include:

  • A social media campaign in which you ask users to submit cute photos of kids reading your book
  • An online poll in which you allow readers (parents and kids alike) to choose the name of a character in your next book
  • A fun crossword puzzle that uses the names of characters/places in your book
  • A kids’ writing contest, in which kids can submit their own book reviews, recommended additions to your story, etc…

These are just a few ideas of ways to bring your story into an interactive online experience. Get creative and come up with your own.

6. Think big (and yes, I know that’s the name of a popular children’s book). What makes your book different and unique? How can you market it to your audience? Publishers Weekly recently cited a few good examples of authors who did just that. In promoting his children’s book about little league baseball, The Hometown All Stars, Kevin Christofora sold copies of it in bulk to a local little league team, which they could then re-sell to parents at full price as part of a fundraising effort. Laura Barta, author of My China Travel Journal, actually founded a toy company and included the book as a learning tool in a larger set of educational materials about China that also includes “color story cards for reading comprehension, a fabric play mat, and standup puzzle pieces.”

Get your book in front of as many kids, parents and teachers as possible, and let the word spread!

amazon books publishing

Amazon Books: 10 Things You Need to Know

amazon books publishingBoy how times have changed. Today, self-published Amazon books are some of the best-selling books out there. If you’re considering self-publishing through Amazon, here’s are 10 things you need to know.

Amazon Books: What You Need to Know

1. CreateSpace/Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) are the names of the self-publishing companies run by Amazon. CreateSpace is the one in which you would publish a book in print; KDP is for Kindle versions of your book. Speaking of which….

2. You can decide if you want Kindle, print or both when you publish through Amazon books. Publishing on Kindle is totally free. Publishing in print requires actually printing the book (which isn’t free), but since it’s print on demand, you would really only eat that cost when your book is ordered online.

3. Amazon will allow you to create an author profile page. Do it! When you publish your book through Amazon, you will have the opportunity to create an author profile page with your photo, bio, genre, keywords, etc… Make sure you do this, as it can make a difference in the number of books you sell.

4. Yes, you can easily link from your author website to buy the book on Amazon. I get this question from authors all the time … if you build me an author website, can you link to Amazon so people can buy the book? Yes. Absolutely we can.

5. You can set your own price. Yes, when you self publish through Amazon, you can decide how much your book costs. Offer your e-book for only 99 cents if you want to increase readership. Or decide that $3.99 is a fair price. It’s your call.

6. You control the whole process from start to finish and retain all the rights to your book. Unlike going through a traditional publishing house, you are in charge of what your book is titled, what the cover looks like, etc… Best of all, you retain the rights to your book and can even sell it to a publisher later.

7. The percent of your sales that you collect may vary. It’s basically either 70% or 35%, depending on your pricing, your location, etc… Check out the Amazon guidelines to understand which bucket you would fit into. Either way, it’s a lot more than what you’d keep through a traditional publisher.

8. You can take advantage of Amazon books promotions. I’ve spoken with many authors who have found that taking advantage of one of Amazon’s many promotions — like giving away your book for free for up to 5 days — made a huge difference in exposure. Other promotions include earning money when people borrow your book, the Matchbook program (which offers the free Kindle version with a hardcopy) and the Kindle Countdown Deals.

9. Publishing is free, but you may still need to pay for various services. It doesn’t cost you a penny to self-publish through Amazon (except the printing of purchased books). But what doesn’t come with self-publishing through Amazon is the services you usually get through a traditional publisher — editing, book cover design and any marketing services. And these aren’t areas you want to cut corners in, so make sure you set aside some budget to get professionals to help you in these areas.

10. Don’t forget to start building reviews. Once your book is available on Amazon, people can start posting reviews of it. And you want them to! Ideally, you’ll want to readers themselves to be raving about your book in a review on the book’s page. But before that happens, you can ask friends and fans to get that conversation started. Having reviews posted can make a world of difference for a prospective reader.

Okay, so what have I forgotten here? What was your experience with self-publishing Amazon books? Share your experiences, opinions, little known facts, etc… in the comments box below.

facebook live for authors

Facebook Live for Authors: What You Need to Know

facebook live for authorsIt’s the hottest new trend in marketing. It’s called Facebook Live. Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Live for authors, and how you can jump on this bandwagon while it’s still hot.

What Is Facebook Live?

Facebook live is actually a video that you shoot from your phone and air live on Facebook. It’s different from pre-recording a video and then just uploading it (which you can also do). These are real-time video posts on Facebook. In other words, you turn on the camera and your video is recorded live on Facebook until you stop recording. And while these videos actually are visible while they’re being shot, they will also appear in the news feeds of friends and followers for some period of time afterwards.

How Do You Actually Do Facebook Live?

A Facebook live video can be anywhere from a few seconds to up to 90 minutes. To start recording and have it appear live on Facebook, just follow these directions.

Just How Popular Is It?

Well, no one yet knows just how far Facebook Live is going to go. But I can tell you this: Everyone with a hand in social media is experimenting with it now. Facebook has openly shared the fact that they are ranking Facebook Live videos higher on newsfeeds than pre-recorded videos that are uploaded. That’s because, according to Facebook, “People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live. This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact.”

Are There Any Tips for Doing a Successful Facebook Live Event?

Again, it’s still pretty new. But in scouring some of the leading sites on social media marketing tactics, here are some tips I put together.

  • Take advantage of the “live” aspect. There’s no point in doing Facebook Live if there’s nothing urgent/timely about it.
  • Let people know in advance that you’re planning to broadcast. And write a kick-ass headline that piques people’s interest.
  • Check your connection before starting. Nothing worse than Facebook Live that cuts in and out.
  • Reduce background noise and speak loudly and clearly.
  • Play around with different live video times to see when you have the biggest audience.
  • Include a call to action at the end, like “Check out my website at …” or “Get a free copy of my book today by….”

How Can I Take Advantage of Facebook Live for Authors?

All types of businesses have started using this feature. And some of these ideas may be applicable to authors. Here are three ideas I found:

  1. Use it for live Q&A sessions with readers. Allow readers to tweet/text/IM you questions, and answer them live in real time. According to an article on Forbes.com, you should “Ask for feedback, respond to questions, and make the experience as participatory as possible.”
  2. Give your readers an “inside peek” at your world. Fans of your writing want to know more about you. Use Facebook Live to let them do that. One recommendation from Digital Book World is that you, “Switch back and forth from the front and the back of the camera so you can talk to your audience and also show your audience something else, like where you are, or the book you are talking about.”
  3. Broadcast live events. Are you going to a writer’s conference? Doing a book signing? Offer your fans the opportunity to follow you at this event through Facebook Live. As described by PostPlanner.com, “Are you at a conference, a concert, or some other place others would love to get a glimpse of? Share it live! But don’t forget to engage with the audience while you’re filming. Walk and talk them through every bit of it — and answer the questions that are sent your way.”

Have you used Facebook Live yet? What has or has not worked for you? Share your ideas with us!

Photo credit: Skley via ChairsHunt / CC BY-ND

E-mail Tips for Authors: Building and Using Your E-mail Lists

Photo credit: Skley via ChairsHunt / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Skley via ChairsHunt / CC BY-ND

Some people think email is soooo 2000s. After all, isn’t everyone communicating via Facetime, Snapchat, Twitter and such… now?

Not necessarily! Email can still be extremely useful as an author marketing tool. Here are some basic e-mail tips for authors … from collecting email addresses to using your lists wisely.

Step by Step E-mail Tips for Authors

Step 1: Set up an email collection system
In order to start collecting emails on your author website, you need to have a place to store them. There are a few basic systems that you can choose to use.

The first is a simple WordPress plug-in (assuming your site is built on WordPress). One basic one is just called “Newsletter.” This is a free system that stores any email addresses that people enter on your site, and offers some bells and whistles, too, like newsletter creation, the ability for users to unsubscribe automatically (a legal requirement) and more.

Other people opt to go with something a bit more complicated, like MailChimp. This service is also free up to a certain point (once your email list gets to about 2,000, there can be a charge involved). It offers a bit more flexibility in terms of newsletter design, analytics and more.

Then there’s a more advanced service, like Constant Contact. There’s a monthly fee associated with this one, but it has more bells and whistles.

All of these types of services are incredibly easy to set up and give you a simple code to put on your site. Which one you choose should depend on how much time, energy and money you want to invest in this project. But the concept of all of them are relatively similar: Any email address entered through the site is automatically stored in the system, and that list can easily be accessed any time.

Step 2: Plan your communications with subscribers
Just collecting email addresses isn’t enough. You actually need to … you know …. use them. And this plan should be mapped out before you start collecting addresses, because (as you will see in step 3), you need to tell people what to expect before they sign up.

Start by planning how frequently you’re going to send to that list. Will it be a monthly newsletter? Will you just send everyone a quick notification every time you post a new blog entry? Or will it be a news-based notification — like if you’re doing a radio show tomorrow?

Once you’ve figured out the strategy you want to use, then make sure you have everything you need in place — like a newsletter template, a blog feed etc… — to make this actually doable.

Step 3: Start collecting emails!
So now that you CAN collect email addresses, how do you actually convince people to start giving you their email? It’s not as easy as you may think.

I’ve written extensively about this in the past, like in this post: 4 Ways to Improve and Increase Your Email Sign-Ups. So I’ll keep this one short.

But here’s the gist of it: People need a reason to sign up. They’re not going to give out their email for no reason. So offer an incentive, like a free download. And make sure you spell out what they should expect to receive and when if they give you their email address.

Finally, it’s important that you tell anyone and everyone that you will not sell or share their email. That assurance of security is essential.

Step 4: Think outside the box about utilizing your list
In this super-helpful recent article on PW by Jane Friedman, she outlines many of her recommendations for using email lists creatively. Here are some highlights.

  • Review your list and determine if anyone on it might benefit from an individualized email instead of a mass email. For example, if someone is an influencer (like a blogger who reviews books), this is someone that you might want to pull out of the larger list. You can then reach out individually to each of these influencers with a more customized message. This will increase the likelihood of making the most of that relationship.
  •  Your email list can be an essential tool in your book release strategy. For example, if you send out a newsletter pre-launch, you can include key details about where the book is available. You might also want to consider offering bonuses for people who buy the book on a particular day (like the day of launch). This can help you sell a lot of books at once, and might allow you to make it on one of Amazon’s top seller lists.
  • Consider collecting additional information from users, and then segmenting your email lists. Asking for more than just an email can be risky (the more you ask for, the more people will bail out). But if you want to be bold, consider collecting additional information, like where someone lives or how many of your books they’ve already read. This will allow you to segment your list and do what’s called “targeted newsletter sends” — dividing your list based on the specific message. In other words, you could notify only people in the midwest if you were doing a local book signing. Or allow you to send separate newsletters to people who are already your superfans vs. the newbies.

As Jane says at the end of her article, “That’s the point at which email marketing becomes among the most valuable and profitable marketing tools, where you can tie specific sales goals to each email you send out.”

I couldn’t agree more.