author marketing plans

Author Marketing Plans: Why Yours Should Be Unique

Are you looking for ready-made author marketing plans? Hoping to find a simple checklist that tells you everything you need to do to get your book out there to a wide audience? Well, sorry … I have some bad news for you.

Why Author Marketing Plans Need to Be Customized

author marketing plans

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No two books are alike. No two authors are alike. And the audience for one book will be drawn to things that are drastically different from the audience for another book.

Here’s are two examples (note: these are completely made up):

Judy Smith: A children’s book author who writes a series for girls ages 8-10 about tween drama.

Mike Jones: A historian who writes biographies about war heroes in American history.

What would you recommend as a “standard” marketing plan for these two authors? What things should they both be doing?

Sure, some of it would be the same. Yes, they each need an ISBN. And yes, likely an author website and/or a Facebook page. But beyond that? Almost nothing about their author marketing plans would be the same.

Some examples of what Judy’s author marketing plans might include are:

  • A press release speaking to teachers/librarians about her series
  • A presence on Instagram/Facebook (to reach moms)
  • Fun online games on her website for girls in her target age group
  • Offering free copies to parents she knows and asking them to spread the word
  • A fun book launch party at her local community center, dance school or gymnastics school
  • Speaking engagements at elementary schools in her area

And Mike’s author marketing plan might involve:

  • Local events at libraries/senior centers
  • Book readings for local veteran’s groups
  • A presence on GoodReads, speaking to those who are interested in history
  • A comprehensive SEO strategy to drive traffic to his author website when people search for terms surrounding historical war heroes
  • Some targeted ads on Facebook for those with an interest in the topic

See? Night and day.

One Example of a Unique Author Marketing Plan

guy-garcia-swarmI recently came across this article about a bestselling author using virtual reality as a marketing tool for his book. I must admit that I had never thought about this as an option for authors, but it made all the sense in the world.

Guy Garcia’s new book, entitled Swarm, is described as a fast-paced, action-packed novel with an undercurrent of technology, showing how its evolution is faster than we, as people can absorb or understand —  and how it’s changing us in ways we can’t possibly predict.

So, of course, people who are interested in that type of book would be attracted to virtual reality. Hence his idea to use VR as a marketing tool.

In the VR experience he created to promote this book, he allows readers to “enter Swarm’s virtual reality” and “bring readers inside the mind of a character who is born online and rules a digital realm with the power to transform the real world.”

Here are a few quotes from him about how he came up with this idea and why….

“The key to marketing your book is embedded in your characters, and your story and the emotions and ideas that drove you to write the book in the first place … That’s your audience, find out what they do and where they are and go after them.”

“You are the best salesperson to represent your ideas and passion, and the most convincing billboard for why people should pay for the privilege of reading your work.”

Swarm, because of its subject matter and story line, is inherently suited for mixed reality marketing platforms, but marketing books of any kind with only standard ad and promotion channels in mind is a limiting strategy, full of missed opportunities.”

How to Create Your Own Author Marketing Plans

Not having much knowledge myself about virtual reality or the genre of his book, this is not an idea I ever could have come up with myself. But as Guy says himself, YOU are the best person to come up with your marketing plan.

In other words, you may have a wonderful team of people that can create your online presence for you, write press releases, and try to spread the word about your book. But no one knows your genre or your audience better than you do. And the best ideas about how to reach them in a new and unique way is likely floating around in your mind.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you try to come up with your own version of the virtual reality idea…

  1. Who is reading your book? How old are they? What gender are they?
  2. Where are these people spending their leisure time? Online? At a senior center?
  3. What is it about your book that appeals most to them?
  4. What can you offer them that’s different and unique?
  5. What do you know that your readers would like to know? How can you share that with them?
  6. How can you take advantage of technology to connect with them?

Again, I can’t spell out your author marketing plans. I don’t know your book, your subject matter, or your audience the way you do. Nor can I create a templated list of items that each and every author should check off to promote their books.

Instead, I hope this advice will help spark ideas for you to put together your own successful marketing plan. Good luck!

vanity publishing and self publishing

Vanity Publishing and Self Publishing: What’s the Difference?

vanity publishing and self publishing

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you know a fair amount about self publishing. And if you’re over the age of 40, you probably have heard about vanity publishing as well — and likely not in a positive way. Just the name itself is awful (who thought that “vanity” was a good name to put in anything?!?!) But, in all seriousness, what’s the difference between vanity publishing and self publishing? Is there one, or has the industry simply undergone a name change?

What Are They?

Let’s start with simple definitions of each one.

A vanity publishing company is a business that an author can pay to essentially be their book publisher.

A self-publishing company is a business that gives authors the ability to publish their books themselves and pick and choose the needed services to do so.

Vanity Publishing and Self Publishing: What’s the Same

In many ways, self publishing is simply an evolution of what used to be called vanity publishing, but incorporating much of the 21st century technology available to authors. Here is what the two still have in common:

  • They allow authors to publish books themselves, without going through a traditional publishing company.
  • They involve some sort of financial investment from the author.
  • Marketing and sales of the book sit exclusively with the author.

And yet, in many ways, these businesses are very, very different.

Vanity Publishing and Self Publishing: What’s Different?

So now we get into the nitty gritty of what differentiates vanity publishing from self publishing. These are important differences that you need to know before choosing a publishing route.

  • Vanity presses have been around for nearly a half century, while self publishing is relatively new in comparison — only a few decades old.
  • Vanity presses almost always offer “cover to cover” service — everything from editing to cover design to book binding. Self publishing companies may or may not offer such services, and authors who are self publishing are less likely to rely on their publisher for such services.
  • Given the age of the medium, vanity publishing still offers books primarily in print. Self publishing allows you to print books, offer e-books, or both.
  • Vanity presses usually require more money up-front from an author. This makes sense, since their services are far more complete.
  • Here’s a really important one … If you go through a vanity publisher, that publisher will assign your book an ISBN number that belongs to them. This makes them the publisher of record and they may or may not collect additional royalty whenever that book sells. They will, forever and ever, own the rights to that book. A book that is self-published, on the other hand, is fully owned by the author.

Vanity Publishing and Self Publishing: Which Should You Choose?

Almost everyone will tell you that self publishing is the way to go. It offers you far more flexibility than vanity publishing, and — most importantly — allows you to retain the rights to your book in perpetuity. You should definitely lean towards a self publishing company if you:

  • Want to offer your book in multiple formats
  • Have the goal of publishing multiple books and/or becoming a bestselling author
  • Want some flexibility in terms of costs and services

However, that doesn’t mean vanity publishing should be excluded in all circumstances. Vanity publishing may do the trick if, for example, you:

  • Want to print a book that is exclusively for a small audience (i.e. an autobiography or family cookbook that you want passed down for generations)
  • Don’t want to invest a whole lot of time and energy in getting the book published
  • Don’t mind putting some money down up front

Hopefully, this has helped you understand the similarities and differences between the two industries and it will help you make the right choice for getting your book out there in the world.

articles for authors

Articles for Authors: What You Might Have Missed in February

articles for authors

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Happy March, everyone.  Since February came and went so quickly, you may have missed some of these really helpful articles for authors – put together from various places across the web. Here are five our our favorites.

5 Must-Read Articles for Authors

  1. The Indie Author’s Guide to Customer Reviews
    How indie authors can turn that discouraging “no customer reviews yet” message into star ratings and commentary.
    Publishers Weekly, February 1, 2017
  2. Are You Confusing Your Readers?
    Here are five signs you might be confusing readers with your book’s category and description. If you confuse readers, you’ll also cripple sales.
    Build Book Buzz, February 8, 2017
  3. Writing an Effective Book Description: 7 Ways to Turn Browsers Into Buyers
    Today I share 7 tips on how to write a book description that will turn browsers into buyers.
    Karen Woodward, February 14, 2017
  4. The 7 Benefits Of Inviting Guest Authors To Your Blog
    Attracting guest posts to your blog, written by outsiders, is a strategy of enormous potential value. Here are seven reasons why.
    Forbes, February 15, 2017
  5. I Want to Stop Blogging. Now What?
    Here are three questions I frequently get when people want to stop blogging, and what you as an author need to know about cutting ties with your blog.
    Smart Author Sites, February 16, 2017

Happy Reading!

good reads for authors

Good Reads for Authors from January (No Pun Intended)

good reads for authors

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Another month has come and gone. And with that in mind, here’s a list of the good reads (and no, I don’t mean GoodReads) for authors and writers that were published in January. If you missed any of these, now’s the time to go back and make sure you don’t miss them.

January in Review: 5 Good Reads for Authors

1. Memoir Author’s Book Marketing Success Story
Jen Miller leveraged her platform, skills, and experience to turn her memoir launch into abook marketing success story. Here’s how she did it.
BuildBookBuzz, January 4, 2017

2. Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails
If you’re preparing to pitch your nonfiction work to agents or publishers, you’ve probably heard about the necessity of having a platform.
JaneFriedman.com, January 5, 2017

3. 8 Book Marketing Mistakes to Ban in 2017
Avoid the most common book marketing blunders made by self-publishing authors.
Reedsy.com, January 10, 2017

4. 10 Times Book Reviewers Totally Got It Wrong
I love reading book reviews but I always take them with a grain of salt. Thing is, no matter how much of an expert the reviewer is, a review is an opinion, not a fact.
#AmReading, January 24, 21017

5. Author Tip Sheet: The Whys and Hows
You may have heard about an author tip sheet, sometimes called an author sell sheet. But what in the world is it? Let’s answer some of your questions.
SmartAuthorSites.com, January 26, 2017

Happy February, everyone! If you come across other good reads for authors this month, please share them with us.

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What Authors Should Read: November in Review

what authors should read

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

Another month has come and gone (and we are in the midst of the holiday season). We did a lot of posting and sharing in November — both of our own content and of other sites’ interesting articles, blog posts and more.

In case you missed any of it, here’s a summary of what authors should read to stay on top of industry trends.

What Authors Should Read From November

1. Is Passion for Your Book Enough? Include These 10 Hot Selling Points
Knowing these before you write your book will make all of your copy more organized, succinct, easy to read and engaging.
Book Coaching, November 5, 2016

2. Author Website Templates: 5 Things You Need to Know
So you want to build an author website. Here’s what you need to know about selecting and utilizing the right author website templates.
Smart Author Sites, November 7, 2016

3. Guest Blog Post: Author Website Tips
This article offering author website tips is our second guest post from Irish children’s book author Avril O’Reilly, who I met when she took one of my book marketing courses.
Build Book Buzz, November 16, 2016

4. Social Media Marketing Evolves
As social media platforms get more crowded, indie authors are recalibrating their marketing efforts.
Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2016

5. 4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media
Traditionally and self-published authors use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to help sell books. But should they be doing that?
Digital Book World, November 28, 2016

Happy reading!

author tips october

5 Author Tips from October

author tips octoberIt’s time for our monthly round-up again! If you missed any of these five author tips that were published in October, this is your chance to catch up. Enjoy!

October Author Tips: 5 Must-Reads

1. Your Author Page: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
In this post, we explore a few different approaches to a successful author page, and examples of people who have done interesting things with theirs.
Smart Author Sites/October 11, 2016

2. Anatomy of a Book Cover
We are always admonished to not “judge a book by its cover,” but that’s exactly what happens, because your book cover is a retail package.
BookCoaching.com/October 11, 2016

3. Pitch Your Book to Holiday Gift Guides
Would your book make a good holiday gift? Now’s the time to start thinking about how you’ll pitch it to annual holiday gift guides that run in newspapers and on websites and blogs.
Build Book Buzz/October 12, 2016

4. Is Social Media Toxic to Writing?
What happens when an author won’t join social media?
Publishers Weekly/October 14, 2016

5. Website Hack: 5 Reasons Your Author Site Might Be Down
Here are five possible causes of your site being down, and what you can do about each one.
Smart Author Sites/October 27, 2016

Happy November!

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!

good author reads for august

August Round-Up: 5 Good Author Reads

Happy September, everyone. I can’t believe it’s time to bid adieu to summer! But all good things must come to an end. Including the month of August. In case you missed it, here are five good author reads from the month that you might have missed.

good author reads for augustGood Author Reads from August

1. Trade Journals: The Book Publicist’s Secret Weapon
“Trade journals offer book-selling, career-building opportunities for authors of both nonfiction and fiction. What are they and what can you expect?
Build Book Buzz | August 2, 2016

2. 5 Mistakes Authors Make With Their Websites
I have already discussed the importance of the way your present your book and how you can market it better. However I have started to note a problematic trend- that of the bad website.
LinkedIn | August 5, 2016

3. DIY: How to Price a Self-Published E-Book
Setting a book’s price requires some creativity on the part of the author, a careful consideration of the book’s potential audience, and an assessment of what the author hopes to accomplish with the book.
Publishers Weekly | August 5, 2016

4. Author Website Load Time: 7 Things You Sh
ould Know

What’s my website load time? How do I speed it up? To help you get answers, here are seven things you need to know about website load time.
Smart Author Sites | August 24, 2016

5. Six-figure Book Promotion Strategies for Authors
In this interview, the author of over 100 books in niche genres covers effective book promotion strategies, the Amazon Algorithm and much more.
Written Word Media | August 25, 2016

Do you have other good author reads to share? Please post them in our comments box below!

author-reads-july

July in Review: 5 Great Author Reads

Happy August. Now that July has come and gone, we’ve gone ahead and put together the five author reads from the month that you won’t want to miss.

Author Reads from July

author reads july1. 70 Quick Tips That Will Boost Your Author Blog
Want more reader for your author blog? Here are 70 things you can do in 6 categories to improve your author blog’s impact.
Build Book Buzz | July 6, 2016

2. What Do My Analytics Really Mean?
Here are 10 specific things to look at in your Google Analytics, what they really mean, and what you should do as a result.
Smart Author SitesJuly 14, 2016

3. The Formula for More Book Sales
The formula for more book sales is simple. And, you don’t need to be a mathematician or chemist to apply it to your book.
Build Book Buzz | July 20, 2016

4. Amazon Books: 10 Things You Need to Know
From publishing rights to pricing and distribution … if you’re considering self-publishing through Amazon, here’s are 10 things you need to know.
Smart Author SitesJuly 21, 2016

5. 10 Self-Publishing Trends to Watch
Ten trends shaping the future of publishing
Publishers Weekly | July 22, 2016

Stay tuned for more author reads in August and beyond!

DIGITAL CAMERA

June Roundup: 5 Don’t-Miss Author Reads

Happy July, everyone! With June now in the rear view mirror, here are some author reads that you might have missed (and that you can now catch up on)…

Author Reads From June

1. Author uses novel tactic to promote book
Build Book Buzz
June 1, 2016

2. May 2016 Author Earnings Report: the definitive million-title study of US author earnings
Author Earnings
June 2, 2016

3. Facebook Live for Authors: What You Need to Know
Smart Author Sites
June 10, 2016

4. Authors: SEO Blog Posts in 3 Easy Steps
Smart Author Sites
June 16, 2016

5. As E-book Sales Decline, Digital Fatigue Grows
Publishers Weekly
June 17, 2016

Enjoy summer while it lasts! And if you stumble across any other good author reads, please share them with us in the comments box below.