Archive for the ‘#writercommunity’ Tag

Counting My Chickens Before They’re Eggs   Leave a comment

Let’s talk about book descriptions. Do you write yours before or after you write the story?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/37aed1931a2e4706a3a3a04550684a4f

When Do I Write My Book Descriptions? Before or After?

How about during?

As with a lot of book-writing, I don’t really follow industry dogmas. I know “plotter” authors who write a detailed outline before they write the first page of their books and often that includes writing the book description. I know “pantser” writers who write the book description right before they publish the book. Both have passionate arguments for their method. I’ve listened to both sides, I see value in each, and I don’t subscribe to either.

I think I subscribe to my mother’s Midwestern wisdom that said “Don’t count your chickens before they’re eggs.” (Yes, a little twist on the usual saying. She had a lot of those).

During

I definitely never write a book description until I’m well into the first rough draft. Even when working through a series in which I have a basic idea of the high points of the plot, I can’t tell you what will be special in any given book until I’ve written most of it. I need the eggs before I can count them.

But that’s not completely true either. During the draft, sometimes I will write something and I know it will be pivotal. I have a slush file where I write the book description and at that stage I write notes about what might be in the book description. By the time I’ve finished the second draft, there could be several hundred words in the file. Not all of them will survive writing the book description, but that’s where I store my basic ingredients. I take a pinch here, a bit there, and viola, the book description emerges. Sometimes the book description is finished early in the editing process and sometimes it’s written as I’m finishing the formatting. And that sort of flexibility works for me.

What Works for Me and You

What works for me may not work for anyone else and what works for all those writing gurus may not work for us. While it is advisable to keep your methods flexible and hopefully learn new and better ways of doing things, we should all use the writing processes that work for us individually. If you’re a super-organized person who knows exactly how your book will turn out before you’ve ever started the first scene — lovely. But discovery writers like me aren’t going to get much done if we must complete the outline and have the book description written before we start, so we’re going to do it our own way and we’ll both have a book description before we publish. Anytime before that SUBMIT button is pushed is a great time to write a book description.

And now I really have to go fix the back cover of Gathering In because I see it’s not quite right. Oh, my!

Do Polar Bears Like Coke?   13 comments

What commercial do you hate? What commercial is your favorite? (YouTube link us if possible) Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from a commercial?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”977793030f7246a2a0b55412a4580e11″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/977793030f7246a2a0b55412a4580e11” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>Wordpress Shortcode[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”977793030f7246a2a0b55412a4580e11”]Unique URLhttps://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/977793030f7246a2a0b55412a4580e11

Commercials Ain’t What they Used to Be

Should the Polar Bear Still Sell Coca-Cola? | The New Yorker

All commercials are selling something and work to manipulate you into buying what they’re selling. That is one of the first things I learned in Marketing class as a journalism major.

I grew up in the 1960s and 70s when television commercials were all there were. Between every program, there’d be about four or five and sometimes a station break/ID. Then between the 12-minute scenes, there’d be two. There was no mute button and no remote, so the option to change the channel during the commercial break was a cumbersome one. Usually you used those times to get a drink or snack or go to the bathroom. Sometimes we’d talk about the program. Yeah, in those days parents and kids watched the same programs because the content was generally appropriate for all ages and most people only had one television set in the house. My mom really loved mystery shows, so we would often use those commercial breaks as an opportunity to guess whodunit. But also my parents would sometimes see things on the screen that they thought needed to be discussed. Do parents still do that now? Oh, that’s right, the kids are usually watching their own shows on the Internet, not even in the same room as their parents.

Notice, we were having these conversations when the television was on and we just ignored the commercials. If you turned off the television, the old vacuum tubes would cool down, so even if you timed the commercial break right, you’d likely miss the first part of the scene because the television had to warm up before it could broadcast.

People just learned the art of ignoring the chatter in the background.

What One Commercial Stuck With Me?

Well, let’s start by explaining that I grew up in Alaska where we often didn’t have access to the things being advertised. We typically had two items on the shelves — the fancy brand (like Charmin or Lays) and the store brand. I later learned in high school economics class that these items came out of the same factory and just received a different label and the fancy brand got advertising while the store brand didn’t. Mom was right! There were no differences other than price and hype.

So, the commercials often didn’t mean anything to me. They were advertising Seattle stores if they were national ads and we were a six-hour plane ride away from Seattle, so — yeah, why bother to watch them? We also got our television on a delay. We watched Thanksgiving shows at Christmas and Christmas shows in late-January. And, yes, the advertising was delayed too. Sometime around 1975, we finally got a satellite uplink here in Fairbanks and got same-day broadcast — though the 6 o’clock national news programs played at 4 in the afternoon…before anyone was home to watch them…so our local broadcast station would record it and play it at 6 o’clock. Again, commercials were for Seattle or California stores and activities and we hadn’t yet perfected energy-beam transportation, so why bother watching the commercials?

Man, were we glad when the Mute button became a thing. Our first one required you to physically get up and hit it on the television, but it was a step in the right direction. At least you didn’t have to listen to the commercials.

A Message of Unity During a Time of Division

But, of course, some commercials were universal. Fairbanks had Coca Cola. Alaskans thought the polar bear Coke commercials in the 1980s were hysterical. I know, it was supposed to pull at our heart strings, but…yeah, giving a coke to a man-eater just seemed like a dangerous idea.

Of course, the iconic Coca Cola commercial was I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke. That is probably still my favorite commercial of all time. It was just so well done and appropriate to the era. Yes, all commercials are manipulative and selling something, but this one also sent a great message. All races can find unity in something we share in common. I certainly hope it wouldn’t be a bottle of high-fructose corn syrup (Original Coke didn’t contain HFC in 1971), but the point spoke so much to my community in Alaska where races had been coming together over the shared issues of extreme cold, isolation and poverty for decades. This was pre-oil, when Alaska was still the poorest state in the union.

Although my mom’s best friend was a lovely person, her husband was a racist who would occasionally, when he’d have too much to drink, jab at Mom about her American Indian ancestry. Before you think, “How horrible!”, Mom would jab right back. The woman had a wicked tongue and knew how to use it. That wasn’t always a great thing when you were her kid who’d done something to anger her, but it was fun to watch when someone else needed a comeuppance. Les had lived in Alaska long enough by that time to know the people around him disagreed with him. Alaska outlawed racial discrimination in 1945 (yes, nearly two decades before the nation got around to it) and, even in the 1960s, we were a very diverse community, so Les and his opinions had experienced pushback in a community that had moved beyond him a long time ago. Still stuck in his ways, whenever the Coke Hilltop song would come on, Les would harrumph and subside into his chair like Archie Bunker after a well-earned lesson. Les knew he’d lost the racial argument with his own children (who were friends with me, my mother’s offspring). But more, he knew the world had changed and left racists like himself behind in its wake. It was a comeuppance without Mom needing to say a word. My dad would occasionally start whistling the tune when Les would be looking for a fight. If often shut him right up.

Which is why I found Coke Corporation’s actions visa vis race in this last year to be so ironic and frankly disheartening. Enough said on that topic.

Annoying Commercials?

Of course, I can think of dozens of truly annoying commercials. I know a lot of people who thought that “Where’s the Beef?” Wendy’s commercial was funny, but I found it annoying. The fact that the local Wendy’s stopped selling beef burgers last year caused that commercial to come to mind. There was one with a singing (and mounted) fish. I don’t remember what it was advertising, which might be my point. There was a Quizno’s ad that arrived here ahead of the food chain – singing rats singing badly – I know people who won’t eat at Quizno’s because of that commercial.

I hadn’t really watched commercials in years. There’s the Mute button and then when we had Dish, there was a feature that allowed you to click through the commercials. Then we cut the cord and the Internet, until recently, was commercial free. But, Youtube now has commercials and this last fall, during the election, we had to watch one, two, sometimes three, for Al Gross who was running for US Senate against Dan Sullivan. They played about every 10 minutes and you can’t really zap them, so….

Note to Youtube – figure out a way to put ads at convenient breaks in the show we’re trying to watch rather than interrupting it mid-sentence. Seriously. I’m not paying for Youtube television EVER until you fix that issue.

Note to politicians — annoying your potential constituents might result in them choosing not to be your constituents.

Al Gross did nearly 60 commercials, so I’m just going to post the one that annoyed me the most. The brief on this – Al Gross is an Anchorage brahmin (think the Cabots speak only to the Lodges and the Lodges speak only to God). His father Avram was a good guy (according to my dad, who knew him) who was involved in Alaska state politics. I think Avram wasn’t a brahmin (Alaska didn’t really have those back then). I think Al probably had a few adventures growing up here. You can drive to the woods if you live in Anchorage and back then, Anchorage was small. Because we lived right on the edge of a vast wilderness filled with primary predators, Alaskan teens lived pretty exciting lives when the Lower 48 idea of teen adventure was the mall crawl.

Do I believe Al had all those adventures from the commercial. No way! And nothing he listed (other than the lies) would have been considered a big deal when we were growing up here (we’re about the same age). So emphasizing that really torqued my Alaska-born-and-bred self because it was aimed at “cheechakos” –new residents who just moved up and don’t know anything about Alaska’s recent past. Al “took down” a grizzly bear? The story floating here in the state is “That’s the story he tells. Truth varies when you want a bear hide to hang on the wall.” My husband actually held off a grizzly bear with a chain saw, so I’m not impressed with Al’s story. Lots of Alaskans work the fishing fleet to put themselves through college. They didn’t let girls on the boats back then (unless your daddy or your husband owned it), so I worked a slime-line instead. Not impressed. And, never lie outright in a commercial. Avram got the loan for Al — banks don’t give 14-year-olds loans because minors can’t sign contracts. Even in the 1970s, Alaska banks were bound by federal law from offering loans to 14-year-olds.

So, aside from the style of the commercial and the fact that Youtube made us watch it and dozens of others over and over again for weeks, the lies he was telling got to me. I had planned to vote against Dan Sullivan for Senate, but Al convinced me he needed to lose the election in a big way — which he did. But it was more than that. The commercial I posted shows him wearing brand-new Helly Hanson rain gear. Nobody but tourists wears brand-new outdoor gear in Alaska. It makes noises in the woods whichscares off the wildlife and there’s a commonsense wives tale theory that the petroleum outgassing attracts bears. It reeks, I know that. My Helly Hansons are 25 years old, patched with innertube rubber and probably have another 20 years of wear in them. Once my husband pointed that out to me, I started watching and every commercial Al did showed him wearing brand-new and high-end clothes, which is a clear indication that he was making crap up. Then he had a commercial where his daughters were talking and you could see out the window behind them — at trees that don’t grow anywhere in Alaska, but are found in landscaped yards in California. Turns out, Al owns a mansion in Santa Barbara, California, and his family lives there full-time. They come back to Alaska for periods of time to qualify for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend and to run for Senate. That doesn’t make him any worse than Dan Sullivan, but Dan at least admits his attachment to Alaska is through his wife, who was born and raised here. This libertarian was not going to help give carpet-bagger Dan Sullivan a second term, but Al Gross so annoyed us with his incessant commercials (and then I found out he doesn’t live here anymore) that I voted for Dan just to send Al packing. A lot of other Alaskans apparently agreed with me, though there’s rumors Al might run against Don Young in 2022. Either way, Alaska can get rid of Sullivan in 2026, after we focus on getting rid of Lisa Murkowski in 2022.

Commercials that Inspire Me

I got to say, I still try to avoid commercials, but Youtube doesn’t really allow you to do that, so I had to think of ones that had inspired me to the point where I might have learned something or that I want to put them in my writing. I think PragerU commercials have influenced some of my research and might have inspired some events in my novels. PragerU has a lot of videos that often deal with history or something going on in culture and that’s not what I’m referring to. Those are usually longer than the five-minute or less commercials that become attached to other shows — like this older one on how to reengage boys in learning and, hopefully, reengage the next generation of men in society. I don’t use these commercials to inform my opinions, but I sometimes learn things I didn’t know and then I go out to research to find out if PragerU is telling me the truth. Usually they are, but I don’t assume that. I fact-check them through my own research (as I do with most articles I encounter). Always question anyone claiming to be an authority. I don’t always agree with the PragerU commercials. While looking for this commercial I’d seen before, I ran into a Jill Simosian commercial where I just found her condescending, even though I largely agreed with her facts on public schools because I’ve already studied the topic.

And while looking for this commercial, I also found this one by Adam Carolla which echoes something my husband and son have been discussing for a while and a character in one of my WIPs has been trying to express. I like how Carolla presents a familiar argument without sounding like he’s lecturing. There’s not a lot to fact-check in the commercial but I did google Carollas bio and he wasn’t making up his childhood. I also ran across a video he did about the whole neighbor-calling-the-cops thing. That apparently also happened.

All advertising is manipulative and trying to sell something…but occasionally it’s just trying to sell a broader perspective on the blinders we put on ourselves. In many ways, truth and liberal thought are commodities just as much as sugar and butter. In our current strait-jacketed culture where we all self-segregate into our own information bubbles, I think it’s brilliant to advertise alternative viewpoints and hope they get attached to videos that present self-segregated opinions from an opposite perspective.

Last night we sat through one that pleaded with us to understand that the world is going to end in a decade if we don’t start giving polar bears cokes. That last part’s a joke, but not really — the commercial (which I couldn’t find as a standalone) suggested some things we should do to control climate change that might prove almost as dangerous as trying to give a coke to a polar bear.

Posted June 7, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , ,

Covered   6 comments

Interview your cover designer (even if it’s you!)(talk about other covers they have worked on, what you love about their work, etc.)

Rules:

1. Link your blog to this hop.

2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.

3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.

4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.

5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

<!– start InLinkz code –>

<div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”3f3fef4af27149348daaa7873f0de69a” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”>

<div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p>

<a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/3f3fef4af27149348daaa7873f0de69a” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div>

<span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20href=</span>

<!– end InLinkz code –>

[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”3f3fef4af27149348daaa7873f0de69a”]

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/3f3fef4af27149348daaa7873f0de69a

Who Designs Your Covers?

Right up front — I design my own covers. When I first started, my daughter, who is an artist, designed my first two covers and they were quite good, but a catastrophic computer failure wiped out those cover images just after she left on a world tour (otherwise known as being a starving musician across America). She recommended a friend, a college student, who helped me rebuild the covers for The Willow Branch and Life As We Knew It. They are Ivyl’s basic design, but with new images and we fixed some of the things I didn’ t like. He started to design the cover for Mirklin Wood. Halfway through collecting the various images, he suggested I learn how to do photo editing and computer collage. It would, he explained, save me money (or moose-stew and blueberry pie, which is what he preferred over money) and it would take care of that fact that he was graduating and leaving the state. I’ve completely designed all the others with input from friends, my family and random coworkers and church members.

What Do You Like Best About Working with Yourself?

I’m cheap. Seriously – money is an object and if I spend my money on cover design, I have less money for editing and marketing.

I’m not a true artist. I can draw, but my inner artist has perspective problems. But Ivyl points out I’m a photographer and I also managed to get a B from a university art class where the professor was a real artist. She was pretty convinced I could do it and so was her friend, who is now a scrimshaw artist in a western village concerned about what CoVid19 is going to do to the tourism industry his income relies on. Cover design is really collage and I’ have always been good at collage. The computer eliminates the need to endure the smell of rubber cement.

But I also like that I know my own mind. I don’t have to describe what I want to another person who may not have read the book. Ivyl had and the design went easily, but there were still issues with conveying my vision. Ethan hadn’t and working on Mirklin Wood was a struggle. He did a good job, but it took a lot of effort.

What Are You Aiming When You Start a Cover Design?

I like covers that give you some idea of what you might find in the book, which is one reason I don’t use cover mills. So, for example, The Willow Branch has a moon that isn’t really a moon and it harbingers the arrival of a goddess who sometimes takes the form of a raven. And you can get that from the cover.

Objects in View features a lot of roadblocks and surveillance by drones. You can see that from the cover. I want readers to be intrigued by what they see and want to check out what’s inside. By the way, that features almost entirely my own photography. I ran around my town and took pictures of cars with their taillights on, then cropped the images, masked the license plates and layered in the collage.

Although most of my images come from the Internet, I try to find unique pieces or edit the images in such a way that nobody is going to recognize it as an image they’ve seen a million times. For example, the moon on the cover of The Willow Branch is a NASA photo that we spun on its axis so it doesn’t look like Earth’s moon.

I always go for some striking image, often a pop of color or contrast in every cover. The brake lights in Objects in View, the aircraft’s yellow standing out against the blue of the storm in Gathering In, and the barn in Life As We Knew It all grab attention in a thumbnail and, hopefully, make the reader go — “Ooo, what’s that? Gotta check it out.”

I want the cover image to look good in print. With the ebook it’s all about the pop, but with the print book, the images need to look good, especially the typography. One of the things I like best about working for myself is I own the image, so I can make changes whenever I want and test them on the live audience on Amazon. I have made some remarkably small changes and seen an almost immediate bump in hits on ads, for example.

How Long Does It Take You to Design a Cover?

About a year, or as long as it takes me to write the book. Of course, I don’t work on it every day, but typically, I start to get a basic idea for a cover while I’m writing the book. In the case of “Winter’s Reckoning,” which will come out this fall, I started to get the cover idea while I was writing Gathering In and actually had the cover more or less complete before I started to write the book. Sometimes it just works out that way.

As I write, I’ll start looking for images to edit. I’ll keep track of where I got them, so if I use them in the final design I go pay the royalty. I’m always looking for that pop of color or contrast and then when I have a rough collage going, I go back and really neaten up the constituent images and layer them into the design. I might do several dozen tweaks. I might toss an image I liked in favor of another one that’s stronger. I finally save it as if it were a piece of artwork and then work on the typography.

What’s Important about the Typography?

I’m actually qualified in typographic design. I trained as a journalist back when small-town newspaper folks had to do everything without computers, so I try to spend extra effort in getting the typography right. You say a lot with the font you use and the placement in the image. While I might take a lot of time on the collage that forms the picture, I will definitely spend several passes at getting the typography right.

Now, when I say right – I mean on the print book. It’s really not necessary to make the typography legible on the e-book. A pop of color or contrast will attract attention to the thumbnail, but ebook customers have all that writing available to them left of the thumbnail in whatever font size they prefer. My focus is on a good or even great cover image. My attention to typography is for the print book and is a matter of personal pride.

Would you ever consider working with a professional cover designer?

Yes, if the price were right and we came up with a final product on our first project that was worth the effort. I recognize that others have talent beyond mine. I also recognize that indie publishing is a numbers game and if I’m spending thousands of dollars bringing a book to market before I’ve even sold one copy, then it’s not a business so much as a very expensive hobby. I already have one of those and at least we can snuggle under my quilts.

Are You Looking for Customers?

No, although if someone would like me to mentor them in DYI cover design, I’d be okay with that. I think, in doing someone else’s cover, I would have the same problem Ivyl and her friend had, trying to read the mind of the author and not quite getting it right. That’s a lot of money to charge someone for not quite getting it right and if I’m going to charge money for something, the final product needs to make them happy.

What Advice Would You Give Other Authors Considering DYI Design?

It’s not for everyone. I had a background in pedestrian art, photograph and typography. All I needed was training in photo editing. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do that. Perhaps you can DYI a mockup for your cover designer, so you can show him or her what your basic vision is. Then take his advice because that is his area of expertise. And cover mills do have a place in the market, although I caution against having the same cover as 20 other books. But you know, having some fun with it. Get Canva or Paint.net (which is what I use) and spend some time playing with some images. You may discover you have a hidden talent.

Posted March 16, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , ,

Market Magic   8 comments

What’s the best way to market your books?

Rules:

1. Link your blog to this hop.

2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.

3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.

4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.

5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

<!– start InLinkz code –>

<div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”7c5d600d76da478588197c7cf59c65f9″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”>

<div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p>

<a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/7c5d600d76da478588197c7cf59c65f9” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div>

<span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20href=</span>

<!– end InLinkz code –>

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/7c5d600d76da478588197c7cf59c65f9

Image result for image of book marketing

If I Knew That, I’d Sell More Books

Seriously, I think there’s a magical formula … or maybe a novel fairy … that chooses who will be blessed among all indie authors to be “discovered”. For the rest of us, there’s just a lot of hard work and vagaries that work for some and not for others, and works some times and then not at all the next time.

Meanwhile, the advice is contradictory. Go to five book marketing blogs and you will find five different answers to that question. Some will say, “working with book bloggers” is one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your books. Yes, book reviews and interviews are essential to promoting an indie book. Blog tours can really help to get attention from a wide audience.

According to Penguin Random House:

Online exposure is the main benefit of using a blog tour to promote your book. It hits a different audience than, say, an NPR interview or local newspaper review. Sure, an unbiased review from a huge publication is fantastic publicity, but what the fans are saying can have a similar impact.”

Others will tell you to write guest blogs, a dedicated piece to be published on someone else’s site. It gets your name out there, drives traffic back to your website, and helps you build anticipation for your book. So “they” say.

Does it work? Sometimes. I’ve seen bumps in blog traffic when I write a guest post. Have I sold more books? Not really. Sometimes and not others. Why? I have no idea. And there in is the problem. I am not psychic and I just don’t know why a strategy works today and doesn’t work tomorrow. Maybe I need to invest in fairy dust.

How About Bonus Material?

Standard bookish merchandise ( otherwise known as ‘swag’), such as bookmarks, are often touted as excellent and relatively cheap promotional tool for indie authors. I know more than a few indie authors who have stuff to give away because they fell for this marketing ploy. It’s mining the miners. It’s a way to get indie authors to spend money they probably don’t have to try and sell books that probably won’t sell … that way. Always pause and ask yourself – am I being mined? Would I buy a book because the author gave me a free coffee cup? Yeah, maybe if the author was face-to-face with me to make me feel guilty, but through the Internet? If the answer is “No, I wouldn’t”, then the answer is “I’m being mined.” Formulate your own conclusions from there.

There are other “bonus materials” that might work better.

Related stories

I’ve written short stories for an annual anthology with an agorist/libertarian bent. Does it drive purchasers to my novels? Yeah, it appears to do so because I write books that appeal to agorist/libertarian/anarchists. I’ll usually see a bump in sales a week or so after they publish. I say “usually” because the bump was real weak once. Was that because I wrote a bad short? I don’t know. Where’s that fairy dust?

Although I haven’t done so yet, many authors offer a short or prequel for free as a reward for signing up for their newsletter, or as a bonus item for a book purchase. I’m developing a YA/NA book series that will have a prequel available for free on my website, if you sign up for my newsletter. We’ll see if it works.

Book club kits

That YA/NA series is a departure from my usual audience, so I plan to create a set of questions and discussion points that readers can use to talk about my books in a book club setting. I’ll make the list available on my blog. I’m told by friends this is an effective way to attract readers. Do I know it works? No, but it’s something that doesn’t cost me money that is worth a try.

Team Up With Other Creatives?

We creative types have to stick together, don’t we?! That’s what this blog hop is all about, right?

Doing the research for this post, I discovered a few creative collaborations I hadn’t thought of.

Bookstagrammers

I’m not on Instagram and I really don’t want to be, but I probably need to overcome my reluctance because many bookstagrammers are also reviewers, so sending out a free copy of my book(s) for some gorgeous promotional shots could kill two birds with one stone if they publish a review as well.

Podcasters

I had a great interview with a podcaster about two years ago, and there did seem to be a bump in my book sales for a while, but I’d rather write books than talk about them. Still, if you don’t flinch in horror at seeing yourself on the screen, do some research, reach out to podcasters and see what you can arrange.

Saturate Social Media?

That’s a lot of work. Before my books started paying for themselves, it was really my only choice because I couldn’t justify the financial outlay of most other options. I still post to my blog, Facebook (come join some of my liberty conversations), Twitter and MeWe, but I spend less time there than I used to and it’s likely I’ll spend less time there next year too. It’s hard to be heard on Social Media, so it’s a lot of effort for a little bit of return. It’s “free”, but man, what a time-suck!

I also think that it is counterproductive to keep waving a sign that says “Buy my books.” It’s annoying and I tune out that posts myself. Which is why I started the liberty conversations because libertarian/anarchist/voluntaryist topics (and the allergic reaction statists have to them) fascinate me and sometimes there will be a bump in sales or readership after a good one.

Become a ‘book fairy’

Okay, I’m not talking fairy dust here. Have you heard of Emma Watson’s ‘Book Fairies’ project? The Harry Potter actress began an international book-sharing movement, which involves leaving free books in public places for people to find and take home. The finder is encouraged to pay it forward by leaving the book for someone else to find once they’ve finished reading it. It’s not exactly a new idea. Something like this has existed in the Fairbanks community for as far back as I can remember. Go to any laundromat in this town and you’ll find a few dog-eared “left” books, some of them with handwritten notes inside say “Take This Book and Enjoy It.”. It’s a good idea that should go viral.

There are people participating in the Book Fairies project all around the world or with similar initiatives like Melbourne’s Books on the Rail. It’s a great way to do a good deed and promote more reading in the world – but have you ever thought of using it for promoting your own book?

I haven’t tried this yet, but there’s a fine madness in the thought of leaving copies of my books in public places for people to discover. Why haven’t I tried it yet? Why do I think it’s a little mad. It involves a cost outlay for me to essentially giving away several physical copies of one of my books for free. Would it work to drive traffic to my other books? I don’t know – which is why I’ve not tried it – yet.

Advertising

My father-in-law, an experienced businessman, will tell you “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” He’s right. Just make sure you spend money on things that make money. Advertising helps. I’ve tried Facebook ads and, yeah, I sold some books. I’ve tried the book advertising sites. Sometimes I’ve seen some sales conversions. I’ve tried Amazon ads recently. So far I’ve spent about as much money as I’ve made, but I’m not bidding very high and I just started, so I haven’t got enough data to be sure it’s working. Ask me in three months.

Write the Next Book

Honestly, I think the best marketing technique I possess is writing the next book. My readership goes up with each book I write in the Transformation Project series. I can now see that on KDPs KENP Reads. People appear to be binge reading the entire series. The best thing about that is it doesn’t require me to put on pants to set up a book signing at Barnes & Noble. I’m doing what I would be doing anyway and so, it is essentially free and not a time-suck. My self-imposed Transformation Project break since the publication of Gathering In is now officially over, so get ready for Winter’s Reckoning next year. And, possibly that YA/NA in Spring 2020 IF the betas think it’s ready to go to the editor.

So, I don’t know what the “best way” to market books is. Book marketing is a lot like playing Pin the Tale on the Donkey. There’s several ways and they work to varying degrees at times not necessarily of my choosing. Good luck and if you have any tips ….

Posted November 25, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

Tagged with , , , , ,

Watch for the Anthology   1 comment

Image may contain: one or more people, text and outdoor

My short will be part of the Agorist Writers’ Workshop anthology “Fire and Faith”.

The Libertarian Ideal

Voice, Exit and Post-Libertarianism

CRAIN'S COMMENTS

Social trends, economics, health and other depressing topics!

My Corner

A Blog Showcasing My Writing and Me

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

Deep Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

Steven Smith

The website of an aspiring author

thebibliophagist

a voracious reader. | a book blogger.

cupidcupid999

adventure, art, nature, travel, photography, wildlife - animals, and funny stuff

Republic-MainStreet

The Peaceful Revolution Liberate Main Street

%d bloggers like this: