Joshua C Cook

Author, Husband, Father, IT Manager

Tag: marketing

Social Media, I’m not good at it.

So… it’s been a while oh Blog of Mine. I’ve also been sparse on Facebook page updates, Tweeting, and forget my never used Instagram account. Here’s why…

I’m bad at social media in terms of my writing. I just am. I have a few ideas as to why however.

 

  1. Age. I’m 43. While not ‘old’ at least in my head not old, I grew up in a different time. The idea of constantly broadcasting my thoughts, hopes, irritations of writing holds no appeal to me. I find myself having to FORCE myself to do updates. For personal stuff I do updates a lot, but that’s personal. Those are family, and good friends. It is, to me, ‘different’.
  2. Not having anything overly interesting to say. While I’m working on a book (or books) I don’t have anything other to say than ‘Hey, still writing.’
  3. I’m not a conversation starter. One of the things I know about myself is I’m not a person who likes to start a conversation. I’ll gladly join in, adding anything I can that’s relevant, and somethings that aren’t if I get to rambling. But I starting that off isn’t my thing. It works this way in face to face stuff as well. I’ll smile and nod, but very rarely actually talk first.

All of this makes social media ‘outreach’ hard for me. I know other people who are trying the writing game who can post 25-30 times a day and seem to have no issue with it. Me? I usually rewrite a tweet 40 times if I’m starting it, and half the time delete and send nothing thinking ‘That’s stupid.’

I’m not anti-social, though I am an introvert. But I have always found that aspect of the writing game hard. It’s probably why I find marketing hard. I simply think that anything I might write about when I’m not doing a release or a cover reveal, or anything like that to be kind of pointless. I know it’s not ACTUALLY pointless, but my built in reaction is “No one wants to hear this.”

I wish I was better at it. Maybe I’d sell more books, or have a better platform when I DO a release.

I’m going to attempt to do better.. but I’ve said that before.

I’ve tried various software tools to automate it more before. Auto twitter posts, Facebook page posts, something, anything… but it boils down to me just not being.. excited by it. Interested in it.

So..anyone got any advice?

 

–Josh

 

E-mail list Marketing

E-Mail list Marketing seems to be the holy grail of the self published author marketing world. And I can understand why, a dedicated list of readers who sign up to find out when you have a new book out. That usually means they will at some point buy it. More sales lead to better rankings, better rankings lead to more people seeing it, which leads to more fans, more e-mail list sign ups and so on.

It’s a great and wonderful thing.. Assuming you can get it working right. I’ve talking about what a pain book marketing is in the past, and it is. I’ve tried review stuff, and tried the free book promo. I’ve tried twitter storms, and ads. Ads on Facebook, Ads on Amazon. None of it has been particularly effective. Now, there are services that use e-mail lists and send your book to their sign ups. The downside is of course that your book is competing with everyone else’s book on those email lists, which is one reason I’ve been a bit turned off from using those services.

But as I work on the last chapter or two of the sequel to Bridgefinders, I’ve decided to try things a bit differently.

The ‘best’ service for this kind of thing is Bookbub. The problem is of course, that Bookbub is both very pricey and VERY hard to get into. Yes, getting lots of sales or downloads is nice. Very nice. And when I say a lot, I mean a LOT. For a reduced price book (down to 0.99 cents.) I’ve read of authors making 300-400 even up over a thousand sales in a single day or two. That is crazy to think about. Free book promos do even better, sometimes cracking 30,000! Of course it costs the author over 400-500$ sometimes to run on Bookbub as well.

Based on the fact that Bookbub has turned me down (again.) I’ve gone instead for the following approach.

On August 8th-10th, I’ve got a book countdown deal running. For those two days, Bridgefinders will cost 0.99 cents, down from 2.99.

Bridgefinders will be featured in newsletters going on to e-mail lists from the following services:

Book Barbarian

Books Butterfly

Bargain Booksy

Book Goodies

Book Scream

Fussy Librarian

Yes, I’m using the shotgun approach. ๐Ÿ™‚ About the only one missing from this list is Book Gorilla, who I wanted to use as well, but I miss clicked and selected a promo I didn’t want. By the time I got it fixed I couldn’t run with them in the time frame I wanted. So, not using them. I’m not going free for the simple reason that I’ve done free, and not seen free turn into a lot of sales at this point. As I come out with more books in the ‘Echo Worlds’ series, I think running a free book promo on the first book would be worth doing, but at this point, it doesn’t help.

I’ve been investigating creating my own E-Mail list, but haven’t really taken that step yet. But using all the above services, for a fraction of what it could cost to run this on Bookbub, I’m hoping will pay off. I’ll update after the promo has run!

Marketing Busts

Marketing Busts, 101 class.

So back when I launched Bridgefindersย  at the beginning of the month I had a post about what kinds of marketing I was going to do for it. You can read that post here.

So it’s been a few weeks, and I’m here to give a preliminary report on how things are going and if things were worth it.

Marketing is hard. I’m not a natural salesman, and a bit introverted overall. I don’t go out and sell.. well. Marketing things seems overly complicated, and messy mesh of things, hence the gears image.

But here we go with my early, preliminary report.

  1. Facebook ads – Not worth it, at least for now. Low click through rates. On top of it, the service I mentioned, authorRise, went under literally a day before I launched the book, so I had to do it on my own, and that didn’t go super well. Maybe when I have more reviews (more on that later) I’ll try again. Maybe.
  2. theBookPromoter – Well they are doing what they said, tons of tweets about the book. Tons. I can’t however realistically say however that I’m getting many or any sales out of it. But they are promoting it. Worth the cost? Dunno, jury is out.
  3. Targeted traffic – Total bust. Haven’t gotten nearly the volume of reviews I needed to for this to help at all.
  4. Picking the right genres – This actually worked. Now what I picked were kind of niche, but I’m in the top ten on two different kindle keywords. Just that those keywords aren’t high volume. But this is still progress, so I rate this one a yes!
  5. Bookmarks – Jury is out. I have them, but I had this idea for a bookmark exchange. Meaning you send me some bookmarks I’ll send you some of mine and distribute in different towns and cities, but no interest. Well that’s not totally true.. I have heard interest but no one actually wanting to you know, do it. *frustration*

 

One thing I didn’t mention, I did an Amazon giveaway, and it got me 500 followers of my Amazon author page, which hopefully is helpful. ย We shall see. ๐Ÿ™‚

Reviews: I’ve harped on it, and will continue, but reviews count for a hella lot. Getting enough reviews to really show people like what you’ve done and created is to be honest, hard. It’s why I think the Facebook ads were a bust, and why I won’t even mess with Amazon ads. Until i get more reviews, it’s not worth the headache.

But there you go, prelim report, and sadly not an overly great one. Going to think on it some more, and see what else I can come up with.

Bridgefinders

So finally.. Bridgefinders is out.. for sale, ready, done.. finis. Whhhoohoo. I’m really proud of Bridgefinders, I truly believe that it’s my strongest story yet, which makes me pretty happy. The eBook is out now, the paperback is coming out the next day or so, hopefully Amazon will get them linked correctly, otherwise I’ll have to jump through that hoop. For those who don’t know, if you have your book out on Amazon as an eBook, and you add a Paperback version via Createspace (an Amazon Company) they don’t *always* seem to link them, meaning there’s a totally seperate page for the paperback version and the eBook version. Then you have to get Amazon to link them, which can take a few days.

But anyways..and also for the first time, I’m working on getting Bridgefinders made into an audiobook through ACX (Also an Amazon company) that if all works, will mean the Audiobook will be on Amazon, audible and iTunes. This is new territory for me, so we will see how that manages to go.

Now that the book is actually for sale, all the Marketing plans are being put into motion, including a new one I had briefly mentioned before. There will be a follow up post on that, but I think that’s it’s a decent idea, and the other self published authors I’ve talked to about it have liked the idea.

For now Bridgefinders is for sale for *ONLY* 99 cents. Trying to drive early support and reviews to it now, hopefully that works. The price will go up to 2.99 at some point after the first month.

But for now, I’m really happy with the work, and how well it all turned out.

Upcoming: The marketing idea, and FINALLY finishing the keyboard review. I’m writing on the mechanical keyboard right now, still liking it…a lot.

Bridgefinders cover and Marketing.

Bridgefinders

Bridgefinders

Cover time and Marketing! I’ve release this on Facebook and Twitter, but hadn’t done it here on the blog yet, which in retrospect, I should have done it here first, and then on twitter and Facebook. Drive more traffic here, right? Next time!

Anyways, I’m really happy with this cover. The creator of the cover is the talented @authorsahunt. Very easy to work with, asked the right questions. Highly recommend, and I will be working with him again for the sequel (in progress!) for Bridgefinders. I’ve got about a week left till I get my manuscript back from the editor, the also talented @brianawrites. She’s finishing up copy edits, and she wanted to format it as well, so more’s the power to her on that! ๐Ÿ™‚

Which leads me to the next subject, something I’ve not taken overly seriously until now, marketing.

See, like a lot of folks who write, I have some issues with putting myself out there and flogging the book. While I used to do a lot of theater (had a very nice scholarship for it back in the day.) I’ve gotten away from that over the years, and found myself somewhat uncomfortable with selling. I like to sell my books, don’t get me wrong, the money is nice as a reward for the work. However like other’s who came into this over the years, I seemed to suffer from the common delusion that writing was easy and once I got it done I’d just put it for sale and then make money.

This, however, is grade ‘A’ total fantasy.

  1. Writing is harder than it looks.
  2. Marketing your books is totally 110% necessary if you actual want to sell any of them at any volume.

Now, if your writing and just putting them out there for family and some friends to buy, great! Have a wonderful time doing so, but don’t really plan on getting any real money out of it. Yes, there is I guess some slight slim chance you’ll get ‘discovered’ and do well. But the odds, frankly, are against it. You’ve got to try to push the book. So this time I’m going out of my way to do so. And yes, that means I may have to spend $$ to make $$$.

So what you ask am I doing?

  1. Facebook ads. Yes, really. The fact is, Facebook will let you target your ads in certain places. But I’m not all that good at that. So I’ll be using a service I already had to help get those ads out.The service is authorRise. authorRise has a neat tool that allows you to make free “book flyers” for your book to share on twitter and other social media sites. They also offer targeted Facebook ads to help drive sales, so I’m going to try it. The cost is minimal but there is a cost.
  2. theBookPromoter. Another book marketing service. Also costs (but again, not breaking the bank, and has a money back guarantee. So there’s that. Includes twitter traffic, mailing the book to a list of book reviewers, and more.
  3. Targeted traffic for the first two weeks of sale. This means quite simply, I’m flogging the book for the first two weeks at a discounted rate (.99 cents vs 2.99) and calling in every favor I can to get family and friends to buy the book and review it. The goal, to get on Amazon’s ‘Hot and New’ list for my genres. Going to try at least. Doing so gets you a TON of exposure.
  4. Picking the RIGHT genres. I’ve been working out exactly which lists or area’s I’m going to place the book in. I think I have a good plan now but I’m going to leave this one a surprise.. for now ๐Ÿ˜‰
  5. Bookmarks. wait, what? Yeah Bookmarks. You can get them cheap off Vistaprint, some alluring cover art, a QR code that links to the book on Amazon (going through an affiliate sales link to boot.) Leaving some at libraries, bookstores, coffee shops. I’ve also seen people offering to leave bookmarks out places if authors will send them some. I’m down with that. (Idea: Twice a year bookmark sharing hashtag, authors send bookmarks to each other to be placed where they live. Hmm…..)

I’m really proud of this book honestly. It was born out of a bunch of idea’s I had jotted down over a few years that I hadn’t been able to make work on their own. I had been working on a different book that is still unfinished (It wasn’t very good, and still isn’t.) when the idea for combining some of these things came to me. I actually blasted through the first draft in a month and a week, which is pretty damn fast for me. Revision, editing, and cover stuff has taken almost twice as long as writing the first draft. But I’m forcing myself to take my TIME this time around and not rushing it. Hard for me, but working on it!

So in the same way I reported on my free book promo, I’ll report on my marketing efforts about a month after launch. I’m expecting book launch to be the first week in April, which means the end of April for a follow up post.. I’ll keep you updated!

 

And remember, join the blog and POST if you want to make comments ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Working on Second Draft

So I got my first draft back from my editor (the ever talented Briana Morgan) and lo and behold, she liked it! Always good when your editor likes your work! ๐Ÿ™‚ But in all seriousness, I’m really pleased with this book. So far all my Beta’s have liked it, my Alpha’s liked it. And now the editor likes it. So yeah, I’m pretty happy with that. ย The Second draft reads really well, taking in all their suggestions.

That’s not to say it doesn’t need tightening up and tweaking. I’m really forcing myself to take my time on this second draft, making sure all the details work, things match up, timelines are tight, etc. I honestly fight myself daily not to publish it like now, I want it out there for people to read, right? But I remind myself when I get that way that I rushed CANITUS. It needed work, tightening, cleaning up, and It didn’t get that time to fully mature. And it paid the price by not really being anything to write home about.

Bridgefinders is the first book in a series though, and I want it to shine. While I’ve already started the second book, I’ve stepped away from that draft while I polish this one. Once I’ve got this one released, I’ll return to the second book, never fear. Besides all this work with polishing the draft, I’m also still working on cover idea’s and looking hard for a good cover that isn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. I’m not a graphic artist, so making a cover myself probably isn’t in the cards. Sure I’m a computer guy, but the skill (and patience) for digital art is a bit beyond me.

I’ve also been gently reminding people on Facebook and other mediums, that if they buy or ‘check out’ the book on Amazon, to PLEASE leave a review. I don’t think people really understand how insanely important reviews are to self-pubbed authors, and how much they matter to how Amazon handles your book. Get enough reviews and Amazon basically starts marketing your book for you, which is insanely helpful. So I’m working out a strategy to get as much traffic to the book as quickly as I can right off the bat. I want to get on that ‘Hot and New’ list from them, and go from there.

Also, please if you want to know more about the books, and other things I’m involved in here, please consider joining the site as a member. That will help me build an email list, and continue to help me market the books.

Enough about that though (Marketing was never my forte.) After this second draft is gone through, it goes back to the editor for a good full copy edit and formatting. Then it’s cover time, publish time, and marketing time. I look forward to it!

Reviews for eBooks, how to get them?

One of the more interesting things I’ve run across with this little start to writing and (self) publishing, is I don’t think I truly understood the power of a review. I’ll be honest, I never really left reviews myself, and didn’t ever think about not leaving them, until now. With from what I understand at least, Amazon really counting reviews a lot towards marketing. This gets you better visibility, and hopefully, better visibility leads to better sales. Which hopefully leads to more reviews, which leads to better visibility, etc etc.

Of course the kicker is how to *start* that process. Your a nobody with an idea and a recently published eBook. You think it’s pretty good, maybe you’ve gotten a family member to read it, they think it’s pretty good. And youย  hope they just aren’t saying that.

You can beg, annoy, cajole everyone you know to both get the book and review it. And say, put it up for free for 5 days. And out of over 100 downloads, you end up with 4 reviews. ๐Ÿ™ Great reviews to be sure, but 4…:(

Then you “submit” your eBook to services that are supposedly there to help promote the book, but your not even sure they do anything.

I once thought writing was the hard part, and it is sometimes. But just as hard, and in ways I never expected, was the marketing aspect of an eBook.

I’m going to redo the cover, I changed the categories the book is under, and tightening up the way I tweet about the book. Trying to find the right hash tag for it.

Marketing an eBook, is in some ways, it’s own special challenge. Getting reviews for eBooks, can just be plain hard.

eBook Marketing 101

To my past self:

 

So you want to start being a part time to full time writer eh?

 

Ok..so here’s what you gotta do.

1) Write the damn book. Far easier said than done.. but you can do it.

2) Get it published. Ok, we can do this.. Fiverr is your friend. Covers, kindle formatting, etc. Fiverr if your on a shoestring budget isย  your go to place.

3) Marketing.

 

What’s that? You think you don’t need to do number 3? Ah.. foolish foolish boy.

You will have to market the hell out of both yourself and the book. No one knows you, no one knows the story, and no one even will pay it any attention in the 80 thousand other books out there. You will have to submit the ebook to everywhere you can find, post every and anywhere you can proclaiming the book, and beg for real honest reviews. Now don’t be a dishonest guy, and pay for reviews, but submitting the eBook to websites that put the book and it’s cover out there? Yes please.ย  Yes, I’m aware we don’t like promoting ourselves, but you want this? You gotta work for it man. Put it out there, be larger than life as the saying goes.

The only person keeping it from you.. is you.

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