Tag Archives: Marketing

Running Out of Steam?

Sometimes being a published author can be exhausting. I often get asked, ‘how are your book sales?’ and my answer really depends on different times of the year as well as my involvement in book marketing activities. When you take your foot off the pedal you see the results slowing, but sometimes keeping your foot on the pedal can be overwhelming.

As an author, like any product, you need to be in front of your readers periodically. New books are being released daily, and the best sellers list changes rapidly. With so many books on the market to choose from, how can I make sure my book stays on the radar. This is a question I’m constantly asking myself.
The process feels literally like a treadmill that never stops.

• Sometimes your efforts feel like they are making no difference.
• Sometimes it feels all too familiar – unsure of whether you are really reaching a difference audience
• Sometimes you feel bored of just doing the same thing – over and over again
• Sometimes you want to try something different – but you’re not sure how to start
• Sometimes you just want time out, and you need a break from it all (have a glass of wine)

Like anything, if you do the same thing day in and day out, results will naturally start to waiver. What I will say is that creativity is key, for your own sanity as well as for the benefit of attracting new and different readers. Find different ways of positioning your book – use review quotes, different cover angles, highlight awards and achievements, a part of the story line that will capture attention. Marketing is about creating angles that will capture attention, finding an interested audience that may not have seen or heard of your book before, and more importantly, creating a following.

Learn from others, seek advice and even join forces with other authors to help your campaign. Sometimes it feels lonely out there on your own, and the treadmill can be much more enjoyable if you have a companion.

Enter your book in the McGrath House Indie Book Awards

McGrath House has a New Friend!

Many of you who have followed McGrath House and the books affiliated will appreciate how passionate we are about supporting new and independent authors.

The journey to become an author in the big wide world of online book sales can be lonely and unless you make author friends, it can be quite fruitless. The key to my success has been through the strong networks I’ve built across the author community.

Grant Leishman,  a fellow independent author and the recipient of the first McGrath House Independent Book Awards, is also passionate about this same quest.

So it therefore made sense that we join forces, and put our learnings, experiences and networks together in an effort to help other authors on their journey through publishing and promoting their work.

So we – Grant Leishman and Rachel McGrath – are very pleased to join together, using our expertise to help writers get published, and making that journey to become an author just a little bit easier.

For more information visit our pages, or contact us directly.  We are here for the independent author community.

Who’s Following You?

One thing I’m still continuing to understand as an author, is how to build a large following of readers. There are so many channels where you can reach a new range of readers: email lists, Facebook likes, Instagram and Twitter follows to name a few. What I also do is research and observe other authors, I watch those who’s following seems to increase with pace and substance, and I try to understand what they are doing so that I can continually learn and develop my own following as a result.

Do they pay for services to help build their following, do they pay for software that can automate their messages or are they just continually active on all social media channels and actively finding opportunities to create interest in a broad audience? The answer is probably yes, to at least one or two of these questions.

Whatever the answer, there is a commitment to building that following and it is something that clearly links to sales and book performance.

So do authors really need to become marketers to be successful?

Of course! Even if you are lucky enough to have a good publisher with an established reputation, readers are investing in your books and you as the author. If you want them to follow your work, they need to see a piece of you as a part of that package. Learning about how to build your public author image on social media is probably the very first thing you need to do as a new author. Then you need to make sure that the public find your profile.

Another valuable piece of advice someone gave me at the very start of my own author journey was that you cannot just keep posting about your own book. That gets boring and will quickly turn your following away. As an author you need to find ways to communicate different aspects of your writing story, your book, your interests and perhaps even other books you read and enjoy. Readers want to see who is behind the book, and they want to find interest in what you do and think. Just posting ‘buy my book’ won’t help your cause.

It was that advice alone that prompted me to set up my author website, make my book reviews part of my blog, and to just write my thoughts and experiences in different blog posts. It was all new to me at the start, but as I started to build a rhythm around my posts and I received comments and notes from people all over the world, I knew that this was my way of connecting to my readers and building a platform to attract a wide audience.

Essentially, every author is different, and my advice is to find ways to market yourself that you are comfortable with and go for it. Tell your story, but in a different way; a way that will bring readers to your book and following your future publications with anticipation.

Good luck and go for it!

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Getting your Book Noticed!

What I have learned more than anything, is that the more credible your book becomes (via reviews and awards) the more likely it will spark the curiosity of your readers.

Reviews can be a little hit and miss. Firstly, you cannot force your readers to write a review after reading your book. Like most things, many people forget or will verbally acknowledge a good book, but your average reader will rarely sit down to write a one or two paragraph critique of your book. Most reviews come from professionals or even other authors, and trust me, sometimes it feels like you are pulling teeth to get a review written.

Another great way of getting visibility and credibility for your book, are book awards contests. Obviously, it counts on the quality of your book, but entering and winning an award can give your book a heightened accolade that will help get your book noticed.

The award contests below are just a few of the available opportunities for independent authors. Whilst there is an entry fee to submit your book nomination, these are certainly the contests that will create more hype around your book – if it is recognised as a winner!

Reader’s Favorite Awards – the deadline for the early bird entry is 1st April 2017!

Contestants for these awards range from new independent authors to New York Times best sellers. The awards have a range of prizes and an esteemed ceremony every year in Miami for its winners. They also have the attention from some publishing houses who have in effect picked up some of the winners to sign them to publishing contracts.

New Apple Literary Awards

Another great opportunity for recognition in excellence in independent publishing. The early bird entry deadline is 1st May 2017 with the final deadline 1st December 2017. Note, that the price increases so it’s best to get in early! The New Apple team will also provide a certificate and an award trophy (at your cost) and your book will be promoted for twelve months via their social media channels.

The Best Indie Book Awards

With only nine categories, and exclusive to only independent book authors, this is another great award contest to ensure you get the recognition you are seeking for your book. A trophy is awarded to the category winner, and your book is publicised across various social media channels – so in essence you get some free marketing with the accolade.

IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards)

Has been running for 21 years now and has a very strong reputation across the author and reader community. Entries are now closed (25 February) for 2017, but these awards are certainly one to put in your calendar reminders for entry in 2018.

For those authors who are a little more money conscious, or don’t have the funds to spare, there are some free awards contests available (many hosted by independent authors themselves) which are mostly reader nominated, but again anything that gets your book out there via different channels is certainly worth exploring!

When Indies Unite…

As an independent author, in a world where there are literally billions of books, finding your voice and visibility can be challenging.

But, what if independent authors joined forces, created one voice and united in their efforts to build credibility, visibility and readership. This was a question posed on one of the author forums I’ve joined, and from there the ball got rolling.13962590_2072535112970833_4125606326806642410_n

Rather than relying on individual efforts to get visibility for our respective books through social media platforms, we have proposed that we form a membership, focused on showcasing our books in a way that presents us as professional group of authors. We want to leverage each other, create hype, interest and discussion about our work, in a way that will build a good readership following.

Will this work? Time will only tell… but surely there is more power in unity and allegiance.

Therefore, we are introducing Indies United and any author is welcome to apply to become a member. There will be a small monthly financial commitment, which will be used to leverage promotions in a professional format. We will also be asking for input and a commitment from members to share in the efforts to cross promote the groups efforts, and the group owners will commit to ensuring that there is are regular promotional activities on behalf of all authors.

If you are an author and you are interested in finding out more, please complete the form in the link below and someone from the team will get back to you shortly.

Complete your query here…

Over time, we aim to make Indies United a major name in book publishing, and we hope to build attendance at book fairs and other literary events.

How Do You Price your eBook or Paperback?

For self-published authors there is a fine balance between looking to get your work out there for your readers and the ambition to make a profit.

Many self-published authors use the services of Createspace, KDP or Smashwords to get their book published – easy enough platforms that instantly ensure your book is loaded up with major retailers online. That’s the easy part…now you need to reach an audience who wants to buy your book. So what about the pricing?
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There is such a disparity between quality of work and price when it comes to eBooks and Paperbacks. What is a good price, for all that time spent writing, editing, creating, getting publish ready. Selling a book for 0.99c (less than a coffee) reaps a royalty payment of around 0.35c on an eBook – yet many readers want the quick bargain and it does help get your book quickly out there! But will you sell enough to get a return on your basic investment?

On the opposite end, I see eBooks advertised for $5.99 and above and paperbacks reaching upwards of $20.00 USD. As an avid reader, that is a hefty price to pay – especially for those authors you have never read or heard of before. Yet, I understand and appreciate that even at those prices, the royalties are still minimal per book.

So do you sell more at the lower price and make less, or keep your book high but sell less (if any at all)?

Having researched a little bit further into this – my best advice is to check out your competition. Who are the top authors in your genre, and what is the top ranking book selling at? Like any product, you need to be competitive. You don’t see Coke and Pepsi with major differences in their pricing mechanisms – and so authors need to have this same savvy when pricing their books.

Look at books in your genre, their page count, content, reviews and try to get as close as possible to their pricing. Or perhaps even look at ways to attract readers to one of your books to hook them into your writing. Countdown deals and free promotions are good opportunities, but I’ve also seen mixed results. It’s a constant battle and one that any independent author needs to proactively manage if they want to attract new readers.

As I tell everyone, this is not a ‘get rich quick scheme’ and the worst thing that we could do is have our readers not even bother looking at the synopsis because our pricing turns them off.

The Many Hats of an Author…

I’ll admit that after submitting my first book for publication I was naïve. I thought you just had to be a good writer to be a successful author. Wrong!

Being an author is not just putting clever words to paper and then waiting for those royalties to start flooding in. No not at all. There is so much more to this world than many can even fathom to understand.

An author needs to be Internet savvy. June Service 2012

Get yourself a website, a blog, and establish your online presence through different social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What I’ve found is that readers want to know you – the person behind the book. A book just doesn’t sell on its own, so as an author you need to build your profile, and not in a ‘buy my book’ way. There is a delicate balance between promoting your book, and interacting with others, blogging, commenting and networking. ‘Buy my book’ gets boring, as I have quickly learned, so we need to mix it up with clever ways to build out the author profile, grow followers and establish a strong network that will help cross promote.

Find your audience and market yourself.

Now, I’m certainly not a trained marketer, and neither are many of my author connections. Nonetheless, we have had to learn quickly the tips and techniques to different marketing strategies for our books. Depending on your book’s genre, its about targeting your audience, finding out where they buy your type of book, and getting in there. Sounds easy right? Well it’s much harder than you’d expect. It takes time, dedication and determination.

Some of my learnings so far:
• Get the right reviews, and promote what people are saying about your book.
• Read and review other books in your genre (and blog them)
• Cross-promote with other authors – there are enough readers in the world for all of us, and we should support not compete against each other.
• Enter awards, promotion deals and get your book on as many sites as possible
• Be wary of quick and cheap promotion sites – they may not deliver or will do so with tactics that may not be in your book’s best interests
• Seek advice, counsel and support from other authors. Look at their successes and learn from them.
• Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – book signings, magazine interviews, guest blogs and anything where possible if you are offered.

With the world of self-publishing becoming much more accessible to individual writers, it is important to ensure your voice is heard above the noise. Sometimes it is just one thing, and your book hits a trigger that sparks an influx of interest and sales. I say, take that spark and keep it alight.

Most of all, have fun, enjoy the journey and don’t lose hope. Every day offers a new opportunity and a new reader to inspire.

Taking the Plunge to Publish

As an author or writer, taking that first step to getting yourself published is certainly a big decision. I remember writing many pieces of work, but shelving them away, or thinking that if they weren’t accepted by the ‘big name’ publishers that I should just bin them.

The reality is, that if you are not represented by an agent, or mostly if you fall into the thousands of other manuscripts submitted to big publishers, you’ll be waiting forever to get your first publishing contract. Nowadays, self-publishing is a great avenue for aspiring authors but having now ventured down that avenue it’s not one to jump into without doing your proper research. Critiques can be cruel and positioning your book correctly from the very beginning is the key to starting off your success as a published author!

What do you want from being published?
I wish I could tell you otherwise, but writing will not get you rich quick. For me it was about having my work recognised and enjoyed by readers, and my books are growing steadily, but not without a continued personal effort. Think about why you want your book published, who your ideal audience would be and how committed you are to your book’s continued promotion and success.

Proof reading and editing your work
It is so easy to think that reading and editing your own work would be suffice, but my strong advice is to get a third party to edit it. Personally I pay for editing, however it is an outlay that many would prefer to avoid, so if you can get someone you trust who can be objective, and has a good grasp of grammar, spelling etc. It’s the small mistakes that distract readers from your story, and can lead to poor reviews.

Getting the right cover and promotion material
You want your book to stand out and be noticed. You want potential readers to want to buy your book on the first view. So make sure you spend time getting the cover right (colours, graphics, style) as well as an enticing blurb and other promotional material. Do a cover reveal, get a book trailer and post to your social media channels. Get the word out there that your book is coming and get people excited about it before they’ve even read the first line!

Getting it right on Kindle or eBook formats
With e-Readers offering much more convenience than paperback and reachability all over the world, why wouldn’t you publish your book electronically? However, be warned, the formatting is tricky, and can sometimes lead to compatibility issues for readers, again distracting them from the true essence of your story. My advice is do your research, spend the time getting it right, and if you’re not sure, ask someone who can help. There are many authors out there who have tried, tested and learned from their own mistakes, and will be very willing to support and help you succeed.

Connecting and marketing your work
I met an author recently who told me he hates social media and refuses to engage with it. Big mistake! The World Wide Web is your key connection to the world, and whilst it takes a lot of effort, it will help you connect and network with other authors, and spread the word about your book. So don’t be afraid, set up a Facebook page for your profile, try out Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Whilst they aren’t the only channels they certainly help and I’ve made most of my sales through these channels with people I’ve never met in person.

Marketing is the key to your book’s success; you need to be prepared to find opportunities and avenues to reach new audiences.

Enjoy this journey, be passionate about your writing, and use it as a connection point with other authors and readers. This is a brilliant community to be a part of!

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The Business of Writing

Many a writer could easily believe that getting a book published would quickly result in a flurry of sales and interest from the general public.

Unfortunately, that is not the reality.

Being a writer is an art of passion, and for me personally, it releases the creativity and ideas that bottle up inside my head. I had ambitions however to develop my writing into something that could be made public; a story that would be read, known and talked about. To do this, I needed to build a following.

Nothing is simple.

What I found is that there is an entrepreneurial side to writing that many new authors underestimate. I certainly did! I quickly needed to put myself out there; and that was a frightening thought. The ‘what ifs’ start to arise as my work was released into the wide open world, and I tentatively waited for that first bout of feedback on my story, my writing, and its public appeal.

Confidence is key . . .

It is about finding the right audience, targeting your work aptly and listening to your readers. Criticism is expected, and broad shoulders are necessary for survival; any business owner should expect that.

Being an author is like owning your own business.

Your writing is your pride and joy, something you have worked on for a great length of time, and most likely put your heart and soul into every typed page. Suddenly, you are at the hands of your consumer, and the control feels like it is slipping away.

So take back the control! business-writing

Connect and grow your network, push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and use your creativity to build visibility for your work in different ways. Develop your author brand! Get comfortable with social media, and join online and community groups to broaden your reach. Anyone who starts a business will say that their first year is the toughest, but the rewards are fruitful when the hard work pays off.

Hence, I am reinventing myself as an entrepreneurial author and I’m embracing the business of writing!