WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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***This is PART FIVE of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. You can read part four by going here. I hope you enjoyed this series and found resources you could use. If you’d like more of these type of series, comment below and I’ll see what I can do!***

The other myths we looked at have covered whether or not you need a degree in creative writing to become an author, do you need an agent to be offered a book contract, will agents expect a huge author platform before they consider your manuscript and is the traditional publisher the only publication path.

Despite the various options and outcomes available to every writer, to the lucky ones who garner a book contract, there is one final myth to overcome.

 

MYTH #5…ONCE THE CONTRACT IS SIGNED YOUR WORK IS DONE

 

You’ve spent countless hours writing, rewriting, revising, and polishing your story. Query letters have been sent out and you have managed to receive an offer to publish your story. Take time to do the happy dance but realize the hard work of promoting and marketing your book is just beginning.

What methods will you chose to get the word out? Are some options better than others? That would depend partly on your marketing budget, partly on the networking you might have done prior to any book contract being signed, and partly on your own creativity in sharing your good news with the world.

Here are some things to make sure you include in your promotion arsenal when working on your marketing plan:

1. Media Kit…this kit should include press releases, book blurb, biographies, author photo, business cards, promotional materials, and a question & answer list.

2. Book Reviews…this would include favorable reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Koobug, and blogs as well as local or national publications.

3. Copy of your Newsletter…you should already have an email list generated through your website or blog or now would be the time to start one. I use MailChip (www.mailchimp.com) which gives me a list of potential readers of my books whom I can send updated info to such as the release date of my books, schedule of book signings or speaking engagements, interesting articles, and things like games, contests, or giveaways.

4. Endorsements or Recommendations…some of your ARC copies should have been sent to people who were willing to provide verbal support of your book. Now would be the time to gather copies of those endorsements and recommendations to add to your publicity kit.

5. Order List…make sure you provide a list with all the links on how readers can purchase your book through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sourcebooks, Kindle, Nook, and other distributors.

6. Quizzes, Contests, & Giveaways…have some idea of the different ways you can generate interest in your book. Things like blog hops and twitter blitzes create excitement during the first few months following an official book release but additional readers will be drawn to your book through the chance to possibly win an autograph copy of it or even swag items.

7. Print Media…even if you have a publicist, it is still the author’s responsibility to do their part to promote their book. This includes sending book release information to industry trade magazines like Publisher’s Weekly (www.publishersweekly.com), Library Journal (www.lj.libraryjournal.com), and major daily newspapers as well as regional or local newspapers.

6. Email blasts…this is where you partner with others who are willing to share your good news with their own readership via email announcements.

I know marketing and promoting a book can seem overwhelming to some authors.  Others breeze through part of the process like they were born to be part writer/ part book promoter. However you feel about marketing, realize that your publishing house isn’t the ONLY people raving about your latest book. YOU have to be shouting it from the rooftops as well!

I will potentially have THREE books being released this fall. You can be sure I will double check this list to make sure I have all my ducks in a row and everything thing in place because when it comes time to do my happy book release day dance, I won’t want to have forgotten anything!

What marketing things did YOU do to help promote your book? What worked and what didn’t? Share your marketing success stories by commenting below…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

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***This is PART FOUR of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. Make sure to come back next week and find out more insider secrets about the writing industry!***

 

5 Common Myths About Getting Published, Part Four
by Donna L Martin

 

So far we’ve looked at whether a new writer needs to have a degree, an agent, or a huge platform in order to become a published author. The constantly evolving publishing world of today allows a wide range of publishing paths which otherwise helps some writers, like myself, to become published authors when it might not have been possible years ago.

That being said, what ARE some of those publishing paths available to us today? Let’s look at another myth…

 

MYTH #4…LARGE TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS ARE THE ONLY PUBLICATION PATHS A SERIOUS AUTHOR CAN TAKE

 

Don’t get me wrong. I would LOVE to get a phone call saying one of my stories was picked up by one of the BIG FIVE, but that does not dim the awesomeness of finding out a smaller publisher is interested in my stories as well. I guess it all depends on what drives a writer to become published.

The chances of my getting a six figure advance are slimmer than my winning the lottery, so it’s good I’m driven by the sheer joy of sharing the worlds of my imagination with others. Small presses and independent publishers, as well as self-publishing, can help me achieve this goal as long as I do my due diligence and adequately research before submitting which is what I did after receiving my picture book offer from a small press.

Ebooks, book apps, and self-publishing are other options beyond traditional publishing available to new writers as well. Whichever path you take, make sure to check out a potential publisher against sites like Editors & Predators (http://pred-ed.com), Writers Beware (http://accrispin.blogspot.com) and Publisher’s Marketplace (http://www.publishersmarketplace.com) to make sure they are legit before submitting or signing on the dotted line.

Below are a few sites listing small presses, independent publishers, and ebook publishers which might be of interest to you.

Poets & Writers…http://www.pw.org/small_presses

Flavorwire…http://flavorwire.com/417838/25-independent-presses-that-prove-this-is-the-golden-age-of-indie-publishing/view-all

New Pages…http://www.newpages.com/book-publishers/

Bookmarket…http://www.bookmarket.com/101publishers.html

Publishers Global…http://www.publishersglobal.com/directory/media/e-book-publishers/

Every Writers Resource…https://www.everywritersresource.com/bookpublishers/

Whichever path to publication you take, remember that it all starts with a strong story. Focus on becoming the strongest story teller you can and the publishing avenues are sure to eventually follow.

Have you had any experiences with small presses, ebook publishers, or self-publishing? Let’s us know what worked for you in the comments…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

**************

 

donna

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

 

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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***This is PART THREE of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. Make sure to come back next week and find out more insider secrets about the writing industry!***

 

5 Common Myths About Getting Published, Part Three

by Donna L Martin

 

The myths I’ve been uncovering are nothing new and you’ve probably already heard some of them before but it is always nice to be reminded of what is true and what might not be on the path to publication. When I started getting more serious about my writing back in 2010 I felt a bit overwhelmed with everything I had to quickly learn to improve my writing. Then I had to figure out the difference between agents and publishers as well as trying to determine just what they were looking for. By the time someone starting asking me what social media sites I was on and how many followers I had I wanted to scream! If you’ve ever felt like that just take a moment, take a breath, and realize you are not alone. While I was sorting everything out I ran across maybe one of the biggest myths of all…

 

MYTH #3. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HUGE PLATFORM BEFORE YOU CAN BECOME AN AUTHOR

 

While it’s true an agent or publisher will check to see if you have a website or blog and maybe even a Twitter or Facebook page, they know it takes time to build an “author platform”. Rushing to get as many followers as you can but having nothing to give them in return will only result in leaving a bad impression with your potential readers. There is a general rule of 80/20 when it comes to social networking where you are engaged with others 80% of the time and only promoting yourself or your books 20% of the time. It will also depend on which site you are using as to what you might offer your audience.

Here is a list of all the sites I currently participate in…some sporadically and some on a more day to day basis but all are set up to send me prompts of new posts I might need to be aware of. Probably while I sift through at least two to three hundred emails per day…;~)

WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com)…this is where my own blog, STORY CATCHER PUBLISHING (http://www.storycatcherpublishing.com) comes from. I switched from Blogger to WordPress last year for one simple reason…it offered me more support and expansion possibilities than any other site I had researched. There are advantages and disadvantages to any one of the sites so take the time to do your research to find which one is best for you. Here are some other free blog sites…

Blogger.com

Penzu.com

Squarespace.com

Tumblr.com

Webs.com

Weebly.com

Wix.com

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) …I have a personal account and a “fan page” listed under STORY CATCHER PUBLISHING (http://www.facebook.com/Donasdays). My personal account is for anything that interests me and the fan page is for my blog posts, videos or pictures I think my readers might enjoy, and anything writerly. I am also a member of about twenty Facebook communities which include wrters, readers, and people sharing other interests I have and I comment on all of those as often as I can…usually 3 to 4 times a week or more.

LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/story-catcher-publishing-b4a87a39/)  …I use this site for more professional contacts. I have a lot of authors, agents, editors, publishers, librarians, etc. on this account who want to connect with me. I also list my blog posts here.

Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/donasdays/) …I really enjoy fooling around with my Pinterest account and currently have many boards for people to choose from. It’s another place I can post my books, blog posts, and other things writerly as well as giving a chance to see some of my other interests.

Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18279692.Donna_L_Martin). My Goodreads account is full of books I’ve read over the years and is another place where my own books will be listed. I read the discussions but only comment occasionally.

Amazon (www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KA7DS02) …I have an account set up on Amazon through Author Central. It has links to my website and lists all my books.

Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/donasdays)…I list my blog posts, my books, share other writerly posts, and just anything that might interest me.

Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/martindonnal/) …this is my newest account and I’m just learning my way around it.

Some of these social sites I’ve used for years and others for just a couple of months. Yes, social networking takes time. Yes, it requires a lot of participation and some may think it only as a necessary evil. I’m very much a online people person, so I enjoy connecting with others. I love learning new things and participation in these sites give me the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of mindsets as well as other cultures.

From a business viewpoint it expands my platform. I have around 12,000 followers over the various platforms but it didn’t start out that way. While that is HUGE for me, in the publishing world I am still a mere speck on the social networking radar but that’s okay.

I may be tiny but I’m mighty and I’m continuing to get better at this whole social media thing so who knows what might happen over the next year? New authors don’t need to spread themselves so thin. Pick a site or two and get to know the people who hang out there. Comment, repost, engage…be present and allow them to see another part of you.

What social networking sites do YOU use? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments…

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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***This is PART TWO of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. Make sure to come back next week and find out more insider secrets about the writing industry!***

 

5 Common Myths About Getting Published, Part Two
by: Donna L Martin

 

Last week I talked about the first myth in this series where some new writers think you need to have a college degree in children’s literature or writing before you can actually call yourself a writer. If you missed last week’s post you can go here to check it out.

Now I’d like to talk about the next myth some new writers think is necessary to become a published author.

 

MYTH #2…YOU NEED AN AGENT TO GET A FOOT IN THE DOOR

 

I worked hard my first year as a “professional” writer to strengthen my writing skills. I also started setting goals for my writing career and one of those goals was to land an agent. I thought the ONLY way to become an author was to find an agent willing to represent me and then THEY would magically get my stories published.

I was wrong.

There are many larger publishing houses that won’t consider an unagented submission, but there are still ways for writers today to get their work in front of a publisher. Here are some of the opportunities I have come across over the years where writers don’t need an agent to get noticed by a publishing house…

 

1) WRITE ON CON (http://www.writeoncon.com)…

 

A FREE, week long writers conference usually held in August and including things like critique forums, guest speakers, twitter pitches, editor chats and chances to pitch to publishing houses.

 

2) PITCHMAS (http://www.pitchmas.blogspot.com)…

 

Twitter pitch forum under #Pitchmas usually held twice a year in July and December. Agents and publishers requests manuscripts pitched during a one day pitch party and even publishing houses not normally open to unagented submissions will occasionally sign on to read the pitches.

 

3) PITMAD (http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad)…

 

Twitter pitch party held four times a year under #Pitmad and hosted by author Brenda Drake where writers pitch their completed manuscripts to agents and editors. This is where I met my editor, Jessica Schmeidler, from Anaiah Press and where my story went from a twitter pitch to a book contract in SIX DAYS!

 

4) #MSWL (http://www.twitter.com)…

 

Twitter forum where agents and publishers list their manuscript “wish lists”. Just do a search for #MSWL and the wish lists will pop up. Just make sure to research any agents or publishing houses before submitting and ALWAYS follow the publishing house’s guidelines to make sure your manuscript has the best chance at being considered.
For those of you interested in pursuing agency representation, here are a couple of ways to bypass the slush pile as well as some agents looking to add to their client list…

 

1) JULIE HEDLUND’S 12 X 12 FORUM (http://www.juliehedlund.com)…

 

In my humble opinion, probably one of THE best pipelines to get your work into the hands of agents. Registration is closed for this year but any writer serious about their career and interested in finding an agent should definitely check this forum out!

 

2) RATE YOUR STORY (http://www.rateyourstory.blogspot.com)…

 

Not only can you receive FREE professional critique ratings on your picture book stories up to 2000 words, creator Miranda Paul also provides membership levels where writers can receive special newsletters loaded with contests and insider links to agent opportunities.

 

For myself, I am always on the look out for agent to partner with on future projects. However, I encourage every writer out there looking to become published to do their due diligence and research the market. Maybe you aren’t looking for agent representation. While a writer can still become a published author without one, like I did, there are still huge advantages to being represented by an agent so make the decision that is right for YOU and remember no matter what path you choose…agented or free lance…it STILL all starts with a great story!

What other opportunities, publishing houses open to unagented submissions, or agents looking for new clients have I missed? Add to my list by commenting below…

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

***This is PART ONE of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. Make sure to come back next week and find out more insider secrets about the writing industry!***

 

5 Common Myths About Getting Published, Part One

by: Donna L Martin

 

There are a lot of misconceptions floating around beginner writers about just what it takes to become a published author. If you are a new writer just starting out you might even think there is only one set formula guaranteeing your success at capturing the attention of a publisher.

You would be wrong.

Since 2010 I have dedicated my efforts to becoming a professional writer. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Below you’ll find the first common writing myth I uncovered along the way to publication.

 

MYTH #1…YOU HAVE TO HAVE A DEGREE IN WRITING TO GET PUBLISHED

 

When I first decided to become more serious about my writing I actually thought I would have to go back to school and get a degree in writing before I could call myself a writer. I began looking at different colleges offering courses in writing and quickly realized I didn’t have the money to pursue a degree. Then I checked out other workshops, seminars, conferences, and classes offered to help improve my writing skills…only to realize I couldn’t afford them either. Did that mean I had to give up my dream of becoming published?

No.

It just meant I had to become creative. The first thing I did was go the library and check out all the writing books they had. Then I went to local bookstores and added to my collection. Finally I trolled the Internet, researching different websites and blogs until I had a number of free or inexpensive resources at my fingertips. Finally I actually took the time to read and study what the experts were already showing me about what’s necessary to become a serious writer.

The more I read, the more I began to understand and the stronger my stories became. I learned every story needs an engaging hook to begin with, a strong middle foundation to pull the audience along, and an unexpected ending to surprise, delight, or connect with the reader so it will leave them wanting more. I also learned no matter how good you think you are as a writer, there is always someone better. There will always be opportunities to learn something new and always others generous enough to share their writerly wisdom with you. Your job is to get out there and find them.

Here are just some of the books I have collected over the years…

Author 101: Best Selling Nonfiction by Rick Fristman & Robyn reedman Spizman

On Writing by Stephen King

The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen

20 Master Plots and How To Build Them by Ronald B Tobias

The Writer’s Book of Wisdom: 101 rules For Mastering Your Craft by Steven Taylor Goldsberry

You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracey E Dils

Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing For Young Adults by Sherry Garland

What are some of the books or websites you have used in your writing career? Comment below and be sure to come back next week as I uncover another writing myth.

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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The 5 Things Needed To Win The World Cup…And Succeed At Writing

 

I know a lot of people watch soccer field battles going on around the globe. Everyone has their favorite team and I’m sure plenty of friendly wagers are being placed on who will ultimately win the World Cup each year.

Being the writer I am and not a huge follower of ANY sport, I found myself analyzing some soccer games from an entirely different viewpoint and discovered there are a number of reasons a particular team came out on top each time.

 

1. SKILL

 

These teams are not amateurs but seasoned professional athletes. They spent a lot of time honing their skills and any victories earned have come from hard work at perfecting their craft. Writers prepare for the challenge of winning at the publication game by studying and fine tuning the art of storytelling until their skills as a writer are razor sharp.

 

2. SPORTSMANSHIP

 

Most of the time you will see athletes act in a respectful and courteous manner, even when they lose. They can still feel a disappointing loss while congratulating others on a well earned win. Writers who whine about a negative response from a publisher or agent sometimes forget the walls have ears and others are watching…and many will be looking for a professional response at all times.

 

3. TEAMWORK

 

World Cups are never won by ONE person. It takes a group of individuals depending on each other to help and support one another all the way to the top of their game. Writers can depend on peer groups, critique groups, agents, editors, and publishers as well as friends and family to help them along the road to publication. And when the time is right, those same writers should lend a helping hand to those following in their footsteps.

 

4. PERSEVERANCE

 

I wonder how many times the players on a soccer team have missed a goal during practice? How many times they have made a misstep and fallen? Did they just lie there, drowning in their tears of frustration or did they get up and try again until they succeeded? There will ALWAYS be writer’s block, rejection letters, poor sales, etc. It is what we writers DO when that happens which determines our success at our chosen career. Whether we become a door mat or get back on our feet separates the winners from the losers at this writing game.

 

5. LUCK

 

Despite all the other areas a world class team may excel in, there will still always be a level of pure luck in claiming that World Cup trophy. All the stars need to be in alignment and somebody needs to be holding that lucky rabbit’s foot because when all is said and done, soccer is still just a game and there are no guarantees in sports. It’s the same with writing world. Writers can’t control being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time but they CAN increase their chances of winning the writing jackpot if they perfect the other areas…

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Elizabeth H Cottrell

 

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ACTION CALL TO AUTHORS: Get Visible, Get Known, And Get Sales! Eight tips for building an author platform with online tools

 

by Elizabeth H Cottrell

Congratulations on getting that book written and published! Now “all” you have to do is get it out in front of people so they’ll buy it. Of course, many consider this the hardest part, but there’s no place to start except from where you are, and one step at a time will move you in the right direction towards your goal of increasing your visibility as an author and selling your book.

Marketing in general—and book marketing in particular—is changing daily, and while that can feel overwhelming, I want you to remember people are still people, and they still prefer to buy things from people they “know, like, and trust.” In some ways, that’s no different than it was in our grandparents’ generation, but now we have some fantastic new tools to get the job done. Your mindset should not be on selling your book, but rather on building an army of true fans who’ll be ready to buy your next book before it’s even out. (See Kevin Kelly’s seminal article entitled “1000 True Fans.”) This is the essence of relationship marketing.

It’s important to spend some time reflecting on your audience or target market. Who are they, and where do they “hang out”? The answers to these questions will help you prioritize your marketing activities. A friend who served on a bank board with me used to say, “If you want to hunt ducks, you’ve got to go where the ducks are.” So true! If you already have a blog, Google Analytics can help you identify where your followers are coming from. Facebook Page Insights is becoming very useful for telling you where your page visitors have come from.

While there are many offline ways to promote your book, this article will focus on ways to harness the power of the Internet to gain visibility and book sales.

What’s an author platform and why do I need to build one?

An author platform is one thing your grandparents would envision differently, and of course we’re not talking about a stage built of wood. Your author platform can be thought of as a rocket launch pad from which you’ll send your books out into the world. But mostly, it’s your brand—a brand built with readers and potential fans one relationship at a time, using many different techniques:
1. Creating a web presence with a website and blog

2. Building your email list of true fans so you can stay in touch with them

3. Responsive and regular activity on your favorite social media platform

4. Posting your biographical profile wherever you can

5. Activity in relevant forums and groups and commenting on appropriate blogs

6. Regular cultivation of reviewers, bloggers, and journalists

7. Learning from your peers

8. Turning your readers into ambassadors

We’ll talk about each of these in more detail shortly. Some will appeal to you more than others and could be considered optional. Some are pretty essential. All can make a difference, and I’d suggest you do all of them at one time or another.

But I’m an author, not a marketer!

Sorry, but unless you’re a blockbuster best-selling author, you’d better be both. Don’t let the idea scare you. Just think of every present or future reader as a present or future friend, and you’ll grasp the right mindset for relationship marketing: making authentic connections and nurturing them until they become true fans.

 

Isn’t my publisher supposed to market my book for me?

If you’re one of the relatively few published authors who actually have a publisher, they may promote your book through ads and media. But more and more, they rely on authors to work their own connections and relationships to promote their books. In fact, many publishers will only sign on new authors who bring an existing author platform with them.

Start marketing your book before it’s finished.

Whenever possible, build buzz before your book is even available. Start talking about your book on your social media channels. You can even create a Facebook page for the book to get conversations started early. Some authors are brilliant at getting their fans involved in contributing ideas or even direction and content for their book. When John Maxwell wrote Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, he used his blog to ask for stories and input from his readers for months before the book was published. He didn’t include everyone’s comment, but he did list every person’s name insider the cover. He even included a thumbnail photo of them.

Action steps to build a robust author platform:

 

1. Create a professional website/blog and keep it up to date.

 

If you don’t have a website already, I highly recommend you consider a WordPress.org website. While you still have to purchase hosting and a domain name, WordPress itself is free, and it offers a very robust content management system that makes it easy to create pages and blog posts and even sell things from the site. You simply must have your own “digital real estate” that you control yourself. More importantly, with just a bit of WordPress experience, you can add and change content yourself without having to hire a webmaster to do it for you. It’s usually worth getting some professional help with the set-up so it doesn’t look homespun, but why be at a webmaster’s mercy for ongoing changes if you don’t have to?

Your website and the content you put on it will allow the search engines to find you and become more visible online. Use keywords in your headlines, pages and posts that match what your target market is looking for.

Make sure your website content “sounds” like you. I’m a fan of Craig Johnson’s Longmire books, and his website http://www.craigallenjohnson.com/ has several features that help the visitor get to know him. There are lots of pictures and an “Interrogation” page that consists of an interview with the author that is very revealing of his quirks and personality.

Here are some other website features than can help with the site’s “stickiness” and increase your visibility:

· Blog: If you think you can post regularly to a blog (minimum monthly but better weekly), it can be become a very effective way to increase your visibility. This is a great place to answer reader questions (or imagined questions). You can also use it to provide your back-story for your book. Don’t forget to list your blog on Kindle so Kindle users can subscribe to it there: https://kindlepublishing.amazon.com.

· Email opt-in box: See #1 below for more on this. In addition to an opt-in box in your sidebar, you might also want to create a whole landing page that incorporates an opt-in box along with an invitation to your readers to get free updates or a special offer. You can use a link to this page in your Facebook or other advertising.

· Video: Video is a powerful way to get people to build that “know, like, and trust” factor more quickly. Think about it. When you go to a website and there is a short welcome video from the author, especially when it’s sincere and warm, you start feeling good about them and more interested in what they’ve written. You begin to feel as though you know them personally. Virtually every cell phone, camera, and computer now has video capability, so you no longer have to spend lots of money to create a simple, effective video. Lou Bortone is my go-to guy for video marketing information and training.

· Media Page: Make it easy for an interested person to get information about you, especially journalists or bloggers. This might be on your Contact Page or it might be a separate “Media” tab of your menu that takes a journalist or media representative to lots of information they might need to write about you. This could include biographical facts, recognitions, high-resolution photos, quotes, and excerpts.

· Extra value content: Some authors use their website to enhance the value of their book by adding more content just for readers. For fiction, this might be an author interview about the book. A short prequel or sequel can be enticing, as can some additional background information about your characters. For nonfiction, your website could include additional information, charts, and graphs that further elaborate on the topic of your book. Give readers a URL for this information right at the end of your book.

Here’s a useful article called “Ten Author Websites That Really Do The Business” by Simon Appleby. It spotlights ten effective author websites. Besides looking at the sites, read the comments for each one to see what the article author considers pros and cons.

 

2. Build an Email list

 

This should be a high priority for anyone with an online presence. Denise Wakeman, co-founder of The Future of Ink website, considers it among the top five essential elements for selling more books. As she stated in a recent article,

“Without an email list of qualified prospects and customers, you will always struggle to sell your book. The people who give you their email address are telling you they value what you offer and want to hear from you.”

Here’s her complete article: http://thefutureofink.com/sell-more-books/.

A reputable email service provider will not only save you time and headaches, but it will also ensure you don’t run afoul of spam regulations. You can create customized lists if your wish (e.g. a separate list for each book you write), and the tools offered by your provider will make it easy to send messages, newsletters, or updates to your followers. I started with MailChimp for free. Since I also do affiliate marketing, I have since moved to Aweber. Other reputable email service providers include Constant Contact, KickStartCart, and InsfusionSoft.

The email sign-up form (a.k.a. opt-in box) usually appears in your website/blog sidebar. WordPress makes this very easy with its sidebar widget functionality. Sign-ups increase if you offer a free digital download in return for your prospect giving you their first name and email. This could be an excerpt from your latest book or a short report on the topic of your book. This is sometimes referred to as “ethical bait.”

 

3. Get active on at least two or three social media platforms.

 

As I write this article, the “big four” social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, but Pinterest and Google+ are not far behind. YouTube goes hand-in-hand with the others, because it is the best place to upload your videos and then get YouTube’s embed code to place them on your website or talk about them on your other social media platforms.

Don’t get involved in more social media platforms than you can handle, because it’s very important for you to monitor them and respond to comments and questions from fans and readers. Learn how to “listen” to what’s being said about you, your book, or the topic of your book. This article “4 Steps to Create a Social Listening Strategy” by Sandy Carter on SocialMediaExaminer.com can help you get started.

Never underestimate how thrilled your readers will be when they can actually have a conversation directly with the book’s author. I write a lot of book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Often an author will leave me a message thanking me for my review. I’m always impressed and appreciative when they make this kind of effort. They’re paying attention and they’re hustling. You should be too.

Consider creating a Facebook Page for each one of your books. This is the perfect place for fans to come and ask questions about the plot or the characters, and this is where you can start conversations with your fans that make them feel you are accessible and likable. I’ve listed an article by Wes Locher in the Resources section below on other ways to use Facebook to promote your book.

4. Post your biographical profile wherever you can

 

Every social media platform offers the ability to create a detailed personal profile. Here’s your chance to shine! Be real and don’t be afraid to be authentically quirky. If drinking a glass of red wine puts you in the mood to write, tell your readers. It helps them know you and like you.

Don’t forget these important places for establishing your presence with a profile.

Author Central on Amazon: Besides a place to put biographical information, there is a great deal of functionality here too, including the ability to add RSS feeds for your blog or other sites.

Goodreads Author Program: There is a great deal of interaction between authors and readers on this site. Read the instructions about it on Goodreads to learn how to take advantage of it. 

Google – if you use Gmail, you already have a Google account, but if not, create one. Make sure you’ve filled out all the profile information. When your Google name appears, it is clickable and goes to this information. 

Even places like TripAdvisor and many other commercial sites offer you a personal profiles when you register with them. Whenever you get a chance, let people know you’re an author and how they can learn more about you. You may also find some directories in which to add a listing by searching for “directories for book authors” in your search engine’s search box.

 

5. Find forums and groups in your field and comment on relevant blogs

 

This may be more useful for nonfiction books, but if you can find a forum where people are discussing topics related to your book, you may have an opportunity to add value to their community and become known for your expertise by the forum members. Use Google or another search engine to search for “forum+your topic or niche.”

It’s extremely important to abide by forum rules. While most will prohibit direct promotion, many do allow you to create a signature that shows up every time you write a post. Here’s an example:

Jane Doe
Contributing author, Book Title

Facebook and LinkedIn both have hundreds of groups you may ask to join. In both cases, log in first, and then use the platform search box to enter keywords such as “book marketing” or “book promotion.” In LinkedIn, you can select “Groups” from the drop down box to the left of the search box. Most groups will require you to request to join.

Commenting on other blogs can be a surprisingly effective strategy, especially if it’s done thoughtfully and respectfully, without pushing your book. Be sure you have a Gravatar.com account that links your thumbnail photo with any emails you might use when you register at a blog. When you leave a comment, not only will your picture show up, but your user name will be a live link to whatever website URL you have entered in your registration. If your comments are interesting and thought provoking, readers may become interested enough to click on the link and learn more about you.

 

6. Cultivate reviewers, bloggers, and journalists

 

Every time you are mentioned in an article, a blog post, a Facebook post, or a tweet—either positively or negatively—it increases your visibility to an entirely new group of people. It makes sense to cultivate relationships with those who have their own large audience and who can help you spread the word. Reviewers, bloggers, and journalists are at the top of this list.

In #5 above, I mentioned the importance of leaving comments on other blogs, including blogs that review books. Bloggers love to get substantive comments that add value to the conversation about their post. If you become a regular commenter, believe me, most bloggers will notice.

In #4 above, I included links for getting on listed on Amazon, Goodreads, and Shelfari. These links also include information about how to leverage those sites and their easy access to readers and reviewers to get more visibility.

Here’s an outstanding article by Penny Sansevieri called “How to Get Reviews by the Truckload on Amazon.” She gives quite a few very clever and different strategies for approaching those who write book reviews on Amazon.

Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound, has several blog posts about what to do—and what not to do—when pitching to journalists and bloggers: http://publicityhound.com/?s=journalists.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great way to learn about journalists who are looking for information or people to interview for an article they’re writing. It’s free to sign up, and you can select getting notices in specific categories. These are usually quite time-sensitive, so check them regularly.

 

7. Learn from your peers

 

 

This overlaps with other items on this list, but it bears repeating. Don’t reinvent the wheel when you can learn what has worked for others trying to do the same thing you are. Interact with peers in groups, forums, and online webinars. I’ve listed some terrific resources below that will get you started.

 

8. Turn your readers into ambassadors

 

Many authors forget to do one simple thing that can make a big difference in sales: ask the reader who has just finished your book to tell their friends via social media or word-of-mouth. Right then…while they’re thinking about it.

Virtually all the strategies I’ve discussed in this article can contribute to building relationships with your readers and turning them into true fans. Then they become an invisible sales team, telling others about you while you sleep!

 

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed!

This may all feel like more than you can do, but don’t let it discourage you. Not all of these things will be relevant to your particular situation or suit your particular personality or modus operandi. Just do something—take baby steps—on a regular basis to build your author platform, and a year from now, you’ll be amazed at the results. Of course, if you decide to take massive action, you’ll get results even more quickly.

And remember, whatever effort you make to build your author platform will help position you to get much faster results when you publish your next book!

What tips for building an author platform can you share with readers of this blog? Please comment below.

 

Resources for book marketing

 

Book Marketing Made Easy website: D’vorah Lansky is both an author and a book marketing wizard. She brings in experts to contribute to her blog and does terrific industry expert interviews that are informative and helpful for authors trying to increase their visibility.

The Future of Ink website: Founded by Denise Wakeman and Ellen Britt, this site offers a wealth of information from industry experts on all aspects of digital publishing, book marketing, book production, and much more. Use the categories or search box to find exactly what you want. 

Robley, Chris. “The 6 Best Book Marketing Blogs.” September 12, 2013: http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs/

Sanderson, Karen R., The Word Shark. Karen’s blog includes some excellent advice on branding and platform: http://karenrsanderson.wordpress.com/category/branding-platform/.
Social Media Examiner website: http://socialmediaexaminer.com: “Your guide to the social media jungle.” Founded by Michael Stelzner, this searchable site has everything you ever wanted to know about how to use social media properly and effectively. Guest bloggers include industry experts, and their training events are always value-packed.

Author’s Note: Some links are the author’s affiliate links, but she only recommends people or products she has used herself, and in no instance would your purchase cost more than if you used a regular link.
elizabeth

 

Elizabeth is a writer, author, and master connector and encourager. She is founder of Heartspoken.com and SmallBizSpoken.com, where she spotlights the power of Connection in both personal and professional life. Her freelance writing and services are featured at RiverwoodWriter.com. She is a former leprosy researcher, a bank board member, a community activist, an Extra Class amateur radio operator, and a note-writing evangelist. Become a better Connector and opt in to receive her future Connection updates by using the easy sidebar opt-in boxes on any or all of her sites.
URL links is:

http://heartspoken.com