Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Celeste Barclay

How long do you keep your book publicity going? (Part 1)

Book publicity

Hello Reader,

This is a tough question to answer.  How long do you keep your book publicity going?  I suppose the first question to answer is: what type of publicity do you use?  If you check back on a couple of my previous posts, including the one that I wrote most recently ("Marketing your own Books and Ebooks"), I have a few suggestions on ways to market your book.

Among the most popular seem to be blog tours, tweet blasts, email blasts, and REVIEWS, REVIEWS, and some more REVIEWS.

But the reality is that this can get expensive fast.  Even buying product sponsor ads can add up quickly if you have a low conversion rate, meaning plenty of people click your ad, but not as many actually buy your book.  This means that your Cost Per Click (CPC) outweighs your Estimated Total Sales.  If you're Actual Cost of Sales (ACoS) is greater than 100% that means you're spending more on ads than you're making.  In other words, you're in the red.  Now, this can fluctuate, but if you see a a steady pattern of being in the red, you need to reevaluate some factors:
your ad, your cover, your book description, and your book content
Vague, isn't it?

Before you launch yourself into a social media blitz...

You must have a clear vision of how you want to position yourself in the market.  Before you seek help from a professional or even go it alone, you need to see the bigger picture of how you, the author, want to be presented on your book jacket, your bio, social media and website, and your press releases.

Before you spend more on ads, consider your book's first impression.

You have a limited amount of space within your ad, so make sure you maximize what you have to say to draw a potential reader to the "Look Inside" or to directly purchase/download your book.
Not to beat a dead horse, but what is the quality of your book cover?  I am rapidly learning how much value really should be placed on this aspect.  I already know that I will need to take a different approach to this.  My understanding of how this market works grows daily, and I find that my thoughts and plans are evolving even from just a week ago.

Do not for a moment underestimate the necessity of a strong book description.  This is often written well after you've finished writing your book.  This is a first impression for your book.  Does it shake your hand with confidence, or is it more like a loose, floppy hand?  My advice in this area, if you don't have access to someone who writes copy for a living, is to read several descriptions of your favorite books.  Look for trends in their descriptions, such as, common thoughts, recurring words, and the emotions they trigger.  Just as importantly, look at books that you decided not to read because the description just didn't convince you.  Evaluate whether it was the way the description was written or was it really just the story that didn't grab you.  Basically, see what you want to emulate and see what you want to avoid.

Finally, if someone uses the "Look Inside" and sees writing that is not well developed or riddled with errors, then your content may be the problem.  That's an entirely separate post for another day.  Suffice it to say, you may have a bigger project on your hands.

Are you seeing a pattern in my message?  What is the big picture?  Before you start, you must have a strategy.

To be honest, I didn't have a well developed strategy before I got started.  I didn't know what my options were or exactly what I was getting myself into.  I've learned by doing...maybe I can save you some bumps and bruises along the way.

Publicity Tools of the Trade

Phase 1

As you plan your strategy for the next stage, and a strategy is a must, you need to consider who you are and what you're trying to achieve.  Beyond knowing you need to publicize, you need to strategize your positioning and map that out.  In other words, what tools do you have access to, and how will you use them?

From what I've read, and it's been a lot lately almost to the detriment of my revisions, it seems that more experts and professionals agree that social media is essential.  The use of Twitter and Instagram are now staples to marketing your book.  Hop onto Twitter and follow authors and publishers.  You can fill your feed with over a 100 people to follow in just a few minutes with just those two categories.  Did you know that there is such a thing as bookstagram or rather its hashtag, #bookstagram?  This is a hashtag on Instagram that denotes pictures, videos, or stories that are specifically about books.  It's a newer platform for people to tag their posts that center on what they are reading, what they recommend, or to drive people to their blogs.  Just like "regular" Instagram, the key is to have aesthetically pleasing posts of book covers, people enjoying a book, or objects that evoke emotions related to plot, characters, and setting.  It has over 22 million posts, so this is not a fly by night resource.

There's still something that might just be more important than social media...   

I was opening a thank you card this morning (yes, people do still send those), and as my finger was pushing through the seal, I thought about letter openers.  More specifically, can you even buy those anymore?  While pencil and paper, snail mail correspondence has slowed over the past three decades, the need to correspond has not.  There is value in direct communication with a specific person as opposed to a half constructed thought or sentence that's blasted to your thousand followers.

Email newsletters lists are possibly the most powerful tool you can use once your main publicity campaign ends.  Engaging your (potential) readers with a more personalized and specific message makes them feel wanted and valued.  It also is a practical method for conveying more information than can be fit in a tweet or Instagram post.  Email newsletters should contain information that interests readers.  This includes your current project, projected release dates, snippets or teasers from your current project, your most recent reviews, and insights into your motivations or inspirations for your books.  You might even include small personal anecdotes, such as, recent travels, funny ideas as you're writing, amusing things said to you by readers.  These extra little touches make you seem more human and relatable in a relationship where you may never actually meet the person with whom you correspond.

But how, you ask

When you're still virtually a no name, it's hard to send out an email newsletter when you don't have anyone to send it to!  I'm still figuring out how to build followers so I can have enough subscribers to make a newsletter worth the time and effort.  A major way to get subscribers is to have a well constructed website.  I've been working on mine for the last week, and it's still a work in progress.  Do I invest the money to have it professionally designed to try to draw in more readers or do I wait until I make enough royalties to show I have enough readers to draw in?  The chicken and the egg.

In the mean time, I do have a pop up ad when you arrive on my site.  You might have noticed it.  I used Hubspot Free Marketing to create a form for people to fill out when they land on my page.  I designed this for free, and now it appears on my website when a visitor is here for at least 7 seconds or scrolls past the 50% point on any page.
Another method that I plan to try is to offer to guest blog for other writers and reviewers.  This is an opportunity for a wider readership to see your style and to connect to your website.  Conversely, you can ask bloggers and reviewers to guest blog on your page.  This is a different fork on the same path.  It drives readers to your page through a source they are already familiar with, like, and trust.

The paid route is to use a marketing company to send out email blasts and hope that people will subscribe.  This is certainly the method to gain the widest exposure rather than relying on organic traffic.

One final thought before I wrap up this post.  Try creating a newsletter and post it to your social media.  See if there are any bites and whether it sends any traffic to your site who might be converted into subscribers.  This is on my ever growing to-do list, but I think it's an important experiment to try.

This is the end of my suggestions on Phase 1.  My next post with examine Phase 2: Long Lead Media and the Media Landscape.
Relevant Comments Welcome

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