Book Promotion: Five Daily Tasks

These are the confessions of a book promotion junkie. What follows is a detailed account of Quantu Amaru’s addiction and how he feeds it. Qwantu Amaru says:

Hello world. My name is Qwantu Amaru and I am a book promotion junkie.

This is only my second blog confession since becoming a published author…not because I have had nothing to say, but because being a published author and an indie published author at that means that I am hustling…HARD!

I had the benefit of having done much of the pre-launch marketing work for 4 previous published novels, but the authors of those books never told me how “all-consuming” book promotion can be. At first I tried to organize myself with 5 daily tasks I would do to promote my book. I quickly realized I was leaving important things off my list so I came up with 5 other tasks and decided I would alternate between the two lists. Here are the tasks, naked and open for you to see:

Daily 5 Tasks:

  • Connect with 5 potential interviewers
  • Contact 5 potential reviewers
  • 2 Posts on FB fan page
  • 2 Tweets on Twitter
  • Comment on 2 Blogs/FB Group posts/Page of interest
  • Outreach to 1 Bookclub

Alternate Daily 5:

  • Outreach to 1 Media Outlet
  • Evaluate 1 Book Award or Contest for Entry
  • Outreach to 1 BlogTalkradio host
  • Develop 1 New Book Promo Idea
  • Friend top reviewers on Shelfari and Library Thing
  • Add Book to 5 Goodreads bookshelves

Pretty organized, right? And you would figure that I could blow through these lists in easily an hour or less and get back to my day, right? Wrong!

Authors beware of the time-sucking traps that are Facebook and Twitter. Early on I found that I could not pull myself from the gravitational pull of these moons. I would post and wait. Post, and check for mentions. Post, and respond. All. Damn. Day. (even now as I compose this confession, I have checked FB 3 times and twitter 4).

It was very hard to post and move on to other more important activities, like finding early reviewers, which is much more time consuming but ultimately more rewarding. Reviews, author friends, are the lifeblood of a newbie author. Newbie author, for your information, is defined as any author with less than 5 published books or less than 25,000 books sold. Reviews are how our beloved readers find the proverbial golden needles in the haystacks of dreck and drivel being published on a daily basis. Yes, I am aware of the Amazon reviews controversy, but people know the difference between planted reviews and real ones. I hope.

Anyway, just as the mantra of our esteemed president should have been Economy, Economy, Economy for the first (at least) two years of his presidency, my mantra (and yours) should be Reviews, Reviews, Reviews for the first 90 days post publishing. You see, as an indie author, unless you build advanced review time into your production cycle (and let’s face it, few of us do), you will launch with a goose-egg in the review column on Amazon.com. And believe me, Amazon is keeping score, as are the 90% of e-book readers flocking there in droves each day. Reviews are one of the key drivers of the mystical Amazon ranking algorithm that you must master in order to be found by prospective readers. This algorithm is a function of price point, reviews, customer tags, likes, and listmania. Price is the overall driver which is why so many .99 cent books get into the top 50 of many genre’s without a ton of reviews. But were that same .99 cent book to have over 50 reviews it would stick in the top 10.

So my current addiction is finding and connecting with prospective reviewers. I have given away thousands of copies of One Blood in this effort, and will continue to do so until I see One Blood top 100 reviews on Amazon.

Thankfully, the 23 I have received on Amazon make me very happy as well as the phenomenal review One Blood received from the Kirkus Book Review and the superb blurb and endorsement award-winning bestselling author Brandon Massey supplied me with by saying that, “ONE BLOOD is a richly detailed, intricately woven tale rendered in lush, evocative prose. This memorable debut heralds Qwantu Amaru as a talent well worth watching.” ~ Brandon Massey, award-winning author of DARK CORNER and COVENANT!

With that in mind, if you are interested in feeding my review addiction, e-mail me at qwantuamaru@gmail.com and we can work something out!

***

Qwantu Amaru is the author of One Blood, available wherever books and ebooks are sold. Check out his website at http://www.qwantuamaru.com/index.html

Authors Supporting Authors

These are the confessions of a book promotion junkie. What follows is a detailed account of Quantu Amaru’s addiction and how he feeds it. Qwantu Amaru says:

One of my favorite aspects of promoting my novel has been the new connections I’ve forged with other authors, indie and otherwise. It gives me great solace to know I’m not out here on this road on my own. There have been many trails blazed by the likes of JA Konrath and his motley assortment of authorrpreneur amigos; the inspiring story of John Locke (the first indie published author to sell a million ebooks); and the guidance of book marketing wizards like Dan Poynter and John Kremer.

There are several collectives and authors supporting authors sites popping up all over like the Indie Book Collective, my publisher The Pantheon Collective, and The World Literary Cafe.

I’m exceptionally grateful to reader communities and author friendly sites like Goodreads (shout out to Tana and the Authors Requesting reviews program); Library Thing (love the Early Reviewers Program), and Shelfari.

And there are the tons of authors I’ve met and interacted with via Facebook and Twitter, many of whom’s work I’ve begun featuring weekly on my site  It’s like there is a literary Voltron assembling itself out here. One comprised of equally strong individual parts that amasses to become something that can defeat all the writers block, naysayers, and other antagonists of prose we writers encounter on a daily basis.

I recently joined Klout and it was very cool to see the people who have influenced me as well as those who I am perceived to be “influencing”. Here’s a list of some of my favorite new author friends, I don’t know which lions are which lol, only time will tell:

If you are an author, reach out and make contact with these folks. And readers, these are the authors on the cutting edge of this independent publishing movement. We may be Voltron, but we still need your support!

***

Qwantu Amaru is the author of One Blood, available wherever books and ebooks are sold. Check out his website at http://www.qwantuamaru.com/index.html

The Power of Free Books

These are the confessions of a book promotion junkie. What follows is a detailed account of Quantu Amaru’s addiction and how he feeds it. Qwantu Amaru says:

 I spent 12 years writing, editing, and preparing One Blood for the world. I have invested over $10,000 to date in my own success, not to mention the countless hours I spend promoting myself and the book. And for all that work, I can barely justify a $3.99 price point for a book that Kirkus Reviews called a novel of remarkable merit. Not complaining, just introducing you to my reality and the reality of thousands of indie authors entering this new realm of epublishing and pricing.

Tell me, what has the world come to when you can buy a book for the same price as a Taco Bell burrito?

Welcome authors to the wonderawful world of ebook pricing.

I can recall debating the .99 cent price point with my publishing business partner Author James W. Lewis of Sellout and A Hard Man is Good to Find fame, back in 2011, about 8 months after we had published SELLOUT. The book had moved around 700 units by this point but we had not successfully migrated from print books to ebooks which was one of our key strategic imperatives due to the cost and gross margin benefits of selling ebooks vs. printing and fulfilling print books. My perspective was that selling an ebook for .99 cents for a debut author made sense because the objective for any first time author should be to build an audience that can be leveraged for future books. James wasn’t convinced, but we agreed to conduct the experiment. We flipped the .99 cent switch in February 2011 and waited to see what would happen.

In February, Sellout sold 38 ebooks. March: 96. April: 577. May: 971!!

Cause for massive celebration, yes? Wait, not so fast, amigos.

The catch with the .99 cent price point is that Amazon takes 65% of each sale which means that the publishing company makes 35 cents and the author makes 9 cents per book (we pay a 25% royalty). So you have to sell a crapload of books at .99 cents to make any money. But that’s beside the point. James was building an audience. Nearly 6,000 reader discovered him in 2011 compared with 400 in 2010 – a 15X increase in 12 months. We raised the price of SELLOUT to $2.99 in October and watched sales regress back to around 50 copies a month as of this writing. So there is definitely something about that magic .99 cent pricepoint as far as kindle book readers go.

In October 2011 the publishing world was abuzz with the news of a new program Amazon was rolling out to continue their dominance of the ebook and epublishing world – The Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program. Amazon was putting together a significant amount of funds to entice authors to give them exclusive distribution for up to 90 days in order to allow their books to be lend able for free to Amazon prime members. Under this program authors would also be able to give away their book for FREE to anyone for up to 5 days during the 90 day period.

Oh joy, so now instead of making at least 9 cents for my book, I’m giving it away? How is that good for the author?

Well, once again I reiterate that the goal of any new author is to build up a following. In that sense, KDP is an amazing program. And with hundreds of sites tweeting, posting, and sharing news on free books every day, it is one of the best brand awareness tactics available to the indie author, and…it’s FREE!

So don’t be dumb about the power of FREE books, give them away and watch your word of mouth spread. I’ve personally given away thousands of copies of One Blood to date and used 3 FREE KDP days so far and seen over 2,600 downloads! That’s 2,600 readers who know me now that may have never known Qwantu Amaru or One Blood existed. For a great and very detailed blog on his KDP experimenting, check out James W. Lewis excellent report from the KDP front lines here.

Now, if only there were a service to get thousands of reviews on Amazon!!!

***

Qwantu Amaru is the author of One Blood, available wherever books and ebooks are sold. Check out his website at http://www.qwantuamaru.com/index.html

Publicize Your Book!! Marketing Plan By Elicia Clegg

Publicize Your Book!!
Marketing plan created by Elicia Clegg, author of “Castigate My Sins”
www.eliciaclegg.com

There are roughly 200,000 to 300,000 books published each year.  How are you going to make your book stand out?  This article will give some suggestions on how to formulate your PLAN OF ACTION section on your Marketing Plan. (A list of resource materials is located at the end)


Marketing Plan

I. Author Biography
II. Similar Writing Style
III. Primary & Secondary Markets
IV. Synopsis
V. Action Plan
VI. Budget

VII. Sample Reviews & Preview Work
VIII. Selected Sample Chapter

Know your Budget before you create your Action Plan

Sample Action Plan

I.  Attend at least two book fairs [multiple book author]
a. Arizona Book Festival.  www.azbookfestival.org
b. Border Book Festival www.borderbookfestival.org

II. Friends and relatives
a. Send out post card announcing book and pub. date
b. Send out emails announcing book and pub. date
c. Post book and pub. date to (YOUR) website and social networks

III. Radio Appearance
a. Make list of relevant radio shows
b. Compose email
c. Follow up call

IV. Virtual Book Tour
a. Contact Virtual tour website
b. Compose calendar of event dates
c. Post virtual book tour to relevant sights
d. Email friends and family of Virtual book tour schedule

V.  Press Release
a. Compose Press Release
b. Contact list of local newspapers & college
c. Hire Press Release Company
d. Send out Press Release

VI. Book Signing or Panel Discussion or Creative Writing or Q & A
a. Compose list of possible locations and contacts
b. Compose letters and send
c. Follow up calls
d. Create calendar of events

VII. Book Reviewers
a. Write book review letter
b. Compile list of possible reviewers
c. Send out letters
d. Send out book

VIII. Commercial
a. Research if this is feasible

IX. Advertising
a. List of relevant websites
b. Contact websites
c. Create advertising ad

BRAINSTORM with OTHERS….The best campaign is the one that is unique and captures your target audience

Resources

www.booktv.org
www.loc.gov/cfbook/bookfair.html
www.shelfawarness.com/news.html
www.short-fiction.com

Bookstore Directories

American booksellers association: www.bookweb.org
Barnes& Nobel www.bn.com
Books-A-million www.booksamillion.com
Booksense www.booksense.com

Libraries

www.publiclibraries.com
Bacons Media directories us.cision.com/products_services
Burrell’s www.burrelles.com
Literary marketplace www.literarymarketplace.com
Mathews Media Directory
www.marketwire.com
www.publist. com

Online marketing resources and services

Author Buzz:  www.authorbuzz.com
Bridge Marketing:  www.bridgemarketing.com
Dear Reader:  www.dearreader.com
The Great American Book Giveaway:  www.bkgiveaway.gather.com
Goodreads www.goodreads.com
Anobii www.anobii.com
Library Thing www.librarything.com
Net Read:  www.netread.com

Press Release Services

www.bridgemarketing.com
www.elance.com
www.press-release-writing.com

Book Marketing Ideas by Jim Magwood

Please welcome my guest, Jim Magwood, author of The Lesser Evil, who”s talking about INTERNET MARKETING IDEAS .

You’ve written a book. Now your publisher says you need to get out there and sell. But you thought they would do that, right? Guess again. It’s basically now all in your hands, whether published traditionally or by yourself.

You can drive down the street with a trunk load of books, trying to get anyone to be interested enough to let you in the door. Or, you can start getting involved in Internet marketing, which is rapidly becoming THE place to be. So let’s take a look at some ideas that might help you.

To start with, I am not a great fan of social networking. Not to say you shouldn’t be involved, but that you should do it in a reasonable and planned manner. If you pick up the keypad every waking moment just because you think it’s fun to “tweet”, you’re going to waste an awful lot of time doing nothing productive. If you spend two or three hours every day sending out “social” messages, and don’t get any sales from it, count the time you’re wasting.

I’ve seen far too many ads saying you should “tweet” 10-20 times each day, or should “friend” everyone on Facebook. I, personally, get tired of having to scroll through message after message about someone’s dog, or what they had for breakfast, or how boring the taxi ride was. I get tired of people who think their sole purpose in my life is to send out more junk for me to read, stuff I have no interest in, just to get their name known. Don’t bother.

If you have some good quotes, or how-to’s, or a special ad for your book, then go ahead and tweet. But, not many people (certainly not me) are going to buy your book just because they now know that you change your child’s diaper three times a day.

That said, what are realistic ways you can make your presence known on the Internet and sell some books? There are some—but they all come under the heading of having a PLAN. Any businessperson will tell you if you just run out there and shout out your product’s name, very few people will respond. But if you have a structured PLAN, and go about working it in a disciplined way, you will get results. Here are some ideas.

First, what is your PLAN?

1. Is it something you’ve actually sat down and put on paper? If you just dream it up moment by moment, you will flounder. At least, as you dream, put those ideas down on paper and incorporate them in your PLAN.

2. Do you have the PLAN laid out in a daily, hour by hour manner, so you have very definite steps to take every time you get up in the morning? What are you doing from 8 – 11 a.m.? How about Tuesday afternoon? What about at night from 7 – 11? Television, or working your PLAN? If you are really trying to sell your books, you have to work a PLAN like a business, not a game. A game you can pick up and play any day, any time, and toss it aside just as easily. A business you work diligently at Monday through Friday from 9 –5, or in some other structured way.

3. What should your PLAN include? Again, ask yourself if you are really trying to sell some books. Many writers think they want to but simply don’t have the discipline to work at it. I’ve known many businesses, and authors, who think all they have to do is wake up each morning and the sales will roll in. Think of businesses around you who have closed their doors after several years of operations. Were they working a PLAN, or just opening the doors.

Some thoughts for your daily PLAN:

What are you trying to do? If you are just trying to have fun, or participate in a political discussion, then have fun. But don’t expect sales to come in. Keep this in mind.

Set out a definite time to do research for where you can get noticed in the Internet. Keep the proverbial yellow writing pad by your side at all times. As you research a certain topic, don’t get sidetracked into clicking every ad or article that pops up. Write the addresses down on the pad and keep on with the original research you were doing. Come back later and pick up the new topics. On the computer, copy the article or address from the ‘net, then jump into your Word program and paste it as “things to do.” Save the list forever as “Marketing Things To Do” so you can always come back to do the next thing and remember what you’ve already done. Put simple notes with each idea saying what you did and what the results were.

What should you be researching? For us poor, or cheapskate, authors, anything FREE where you can get noticed is where you need to be. Can you find a listing of reading clubs that you can send announcements of your book to? How about finding every bookstore of any size at all in your immediate area? Perhaps other places you might drop off a flyer or a free book – car washes with book racks, small grocery stores that will let you put a couple of books on their counter, dentist offices and hair dressers where you can leave a dozen simple flyers or bookmarks. And leave bookmarks at every restaurant you can find.

What about places throughout the Internet where you can get a free listing (or at least cheap—the next best word to FREE.) There are places like Isnare (http://www.isnare.com/) where you can pay to send out a series of articles for $1-2 each, which then get syndicated out for others to use. You can’t specifically solicit for your book, but you can write articles on areas of your expertise. Then they will give you a small space on the bottom of each article to put your bio and book information with live links for people to click on. Another is MediaSyndicate Press Releases (http://www.mediasyndicate.com/) where you can write actual news releases, pay as little as $5 for them, and they get sent out to potentially thousands of places that re-use them. You can find many more like these.

Another thing you should research is any author/writing website you can join and use, either for FREE or for a very low price. But, look before you leap. Many sites will seem to give you exposure but end up being so limited it’s not worth it. They may give you a page and the ability to write a lot of material within your page, but the page doesn’t get posted or rotated so anyone gets to see it. People have to be actually looking for YOU before they find your page. Or, they give you a fairly good price to get in, but then anything you want to do costs more, or the annual renewal fee gets you. If you are able to spend $500-600 for a yearly site fee, plus several hundreds to renew it each year, how many books are you going to sell to pay for that?

There are sites such as Pat Bertram’s (Pat Bertram Introduces and Dragon My Feet) that will interview you and/or give you the ability to talk about your book. There are sites such as The Author’s Inn where they have a one-time very low fee to get a 24/7 exposure page with no annual renewal. In general, every site ad you see anywhere should be looked up to see what it offers. This takes time and dedication, but can bring great rewards. However, always research each ad carefully.

What sites are out there who are looking for articles to post on their site where you can get a small byline and possibly a live-link to your own site? Google topics such as “articles” and “article syndication,” then keep on looking for those sites as new words come to you. Take a look at Bauu Institute’s listing of sites where you can post your materials (http://www.bauuinstitute.com/Marketing/).

One more thought for now. Where are places you can give something away FREE that will raise interest in you and your book? Consider this: If you have created an e-book, once the basic production cost has been paid, it costs basically nothing to send out beyond a little computer time. Think about finding places you could offer your e-book FREE to anyone who writes to request it. Consider law enforcement people and other first-responders; how about a gift for any and every military service person; missionaries and helps missions around the world? How many might love to read a free e-book, then tell a friend or buy your hardback? Consider clubs, companies and organizations that might offer your e-book at their next annual meeting or corporate fundraiser. If you’re going to pay for some kind of advertising, why not “pay” by sending out a FREE copy of your e-book so the word will spread?

These have just been a sampling of ways to market your works through the Internet. The main idea: Be Creative. You are, I assume, trying to sell your books, so how do you start that process? The Internet is a great sales resource, but get away from the over-used “social networking” scene and do some different things. Research; try things; keep good records of what happens (or doesn’t); then do more research and try again. And make a disciplined PLAN for what you are doing. Then, work your PLAN.

Click here to download my free mini e-book: “So You’ve Written A Book. Now What?”

Best to you all, and Keep On Writing.

I would love to hear your responses if you try anything here, or have questions or suggestions. Comment here, write me at JimMagwood@aol.com, or go through my site at http://www.JimMagwood.com.

Amazon Sales Tracking App

This information was sent to me by Dave Wooldridge from Electric Butterfly, Inc.

NovelRank for iPhone – the Amazon sales rank tracking app – enables authors, publishers, and book marketers to track and compare the Amazon sales rank statistics for printed books and Kindle Edition ebooks across several Amazon country sites. The app supports tracking through free NovelRank.com user accounts, which can sort books by title, sales rank or last sale. The app also provides a graphical history of daily sales estimates and hourly sales rankings.

If your book’s web site, blog, Twitter, and Facebook Page drive traffic to your Amazon book page, then tracking your sales rank history via NovelRank is a great way to determine if and when your online marketing tactics are effective. It’s also a convenient way to compare your book’s sales rank with competing books.

Available as a free app download on the iOS App Store. If you want to try out the app before creating your own free NovelRank.com account, then within the app, simply assign the user account name to: demo

App Store URL: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/novelrank-amazon-sales-rank/id423938573?mt=8

For more information, visit: http://www.ebutterfly.com/novelrank/

How to Annoy Readers (Or How Not to Promote Your Book)

My guest today is Olivia Cunning, author of Backstage Pass. Combining her love for romantic fiction and rock ‘n roll, Olivia Cunning writes erotic romance centered around rock musicians. Olivia’s second novel, Rock Hard will be released in April, 2011. Olivia writes:

Since I’ve become a published author, I’ve been doing a lot of observation.  My study is in how to sell books and gain attention without annoying readers.  It’s a very fine line to tread.  I’ve gained little insight on how to get attention without being a book whore (as I like to call it), but I have definitely determined things that annoy readers.  Things that should be avoided at all costs.

So here is a brief primer on how to annoy readers and get yourself blacklisted as an author to avoid.

1. Go on the Amazon forums under a fake name (or make a friend do it) pretending to be a fan and post a topic about your book. Make sure you rave about this new book you love. Say it’s the best thing since sliced bread and insist that everyone should read it because it’s literary genius (or entertaining, or whatever your particular slant happens to be).  You can be clever and list some other people’s books while you’re at it, so it’s less obvious what you are doing.  They will still figure it out.  It’s like a school of piranhas over there.

Why this is a no-no…  Those who frequent Amazon forums are actually a rather small community of readers.  If you show up and post one post about a book, you will stick out as a newb with an agenda. They will hunt you down and out you for the book whore you are and proceed to rip you to shreds.

2. Go on the Amazon forums under your real name and post links to your book on every comment thread.  Even if you have something of use to say on the topic, as soon as you put a link to your book, you are considered a spammer and much grousing will ensue.  People will mark your comment as unhelpful and follow you around to harass you on other topic threads because they obviously have nothing better to do.

3. See number 2, except link your book in all the Amazon book reviews you’ve done.

For the record I have not done any of these things.  Was I tempted?  Hell yeah, but before I jumped in with both feet in the allure that is the Amazon forums, I observed what happened to other authors who tried any of these approaches and it always backfired.

4. Friend every person and all their relatives/kids/pets/coworkers on Facebook/MySpace/Social Network Of Choice and talk nonstop about your book.  Make sure to respond to everyone else’s status with a little tidbit about your book.  Tom writes “I’m sick of shoveling snow.” Author responds, “In my book, Dancing with Snowflakes (ISBN ########) the lead character also hates shoveling snow.”

5. Suggest to everyone on your friends list that they should “like” your author page.  I did this once.  *hangs head*  Forgive me. I was young and foolish. (It was several months ago.) I won’t do it again, I promise.  If you like me, you will find me.  I now have a little “like” button on my website.  Fans find me that way, not by me suggesting a “like”.

6. Post your blog tour links on the Wombat thread every day for a month.  GUILTY!  Sorry guys.  I know it gets annoying.

7. On Goodreads, friend random people and then post spam about your book on their status page, their blog feed, their reviews, and by all means send them an obvious form letter with links to every book you’ve ever written (got one of those today, tyvm). A hint on when to reject a friend on Goodreads (because they will spam you).  If they have 2000+ friends and 5 books (all their own) and 5 reviews (all giving themselves 5 stars) you should deny that “friend”.

8. On Gather, only write articles about your book and put links to your book (and or FCR entry) on every comment.  Dang it all, I did that too.  Sheesh!  Bad form, author.  Bad form.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things and I’ve no doubt you’ve been annoyed as a reader at some point in your life.  What are some things that authors have done to try to get you to buy their book that have annoyed you?

*prepares to take notes*