The Grueling Task of Book Promotion

It seems to me that the art of writing is much easier than the grueling task of book promotion! I have run a small business for eight years, experimented with advertising until I got the right formula for my small company. . .and yet, promoting my book, which I think is very good by the way, is so HARD!

If you talk to a dozen different Indie authors, you will get twelve different systems that they all swear will work! Heck, a lot of them have stopped writing fiction and now focus on self-help for the self-publisher. . .and so now they are onto something and their e-books are selling like hotcakes.

So what is the hopeless fiction author to do? How do we market our books without emptying our kids college funds, or draining our retirement accounts? More importantly, how do we make our marketing dollar count in the most productive way possible?

Of course, the industry is changing every single day and let’s face it, your book, no matter how well written, is competing with sub quality works. That’s right, I said it. The market is FLOODED with junk, poorly written, UN-edited trash that is not worth the $.99 price. Which brings me to the next challenge we Indie authors are facing. Trends show that readers are becoming more discriminatory,  after all, they don’t want to waste their money on a book that they will just not be able to finish, and who can blame them? Unless your book grabs them at “hello”, they will browse right past you.

Reviews used to be “where it’s at”. Good reviews would guarantee you sales, but now, authors have the ability to obtain those coveted five star reviews for the right price. The “junk” may have stellar ratings, sporting reviews written by bloggers hungry for content. These can usually be spotted a mile away, they read like book reports, usually contain numerous typos and misspellings and are poorly written altogether. Reviews written in the book report format indicate one thing, that the reviewer/blogger did NOT read the book. . .they scanned it and picked out a few story points and wrote a review. I have received reviews such as these myself, and my heart sinks every time.

Verified reviews are much harder to get because the reviewer must purchase the book in order to post a “verified review”. Well, marketers have found a way around this too, taking most of the clout out of the ‘verified review”.

I am finding that the best reviews, that is reviews that actually mean something, are reviews written by other authors or published by respected periodicals. Not just any author, but successful authors. I recently read “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, (I will be posting a review here soon). Inside the copy I have in my possession, there are about a dozen or so reviews. The first is written by Stephen King! Several others are written by journalists for magazines such as Elle, Entertainment Weekly and Booklist. Now as Indie authors, I realize that we probably will not be able to obtain such prestigious reviews, at least not in the beginning, but we can focus our review requests on other authors.

If you’re a writer, than you’re probably a reader. Peruse Indie titles in your genre, the genre of your book. When you find something you like, buy it and read it. If you are impressed with the author’s style and quality of his/her work, write a review for it, then I recommend finding them online. Send an email request for a review. Point out how much you enjoy their work and just ask if they would be willing to read and review your book.

When you find a willing author, then send them a gift code to purchase your book. When they claim it, it then becomes a verified purchase. . .when they review it, you now have a verified review. That authors readers, the folks who are following him/her around on the web, will see that review. Remember, this author writes in your genre, so his/her fans could be your fans before long.

Equally important to your success, is that you use social media to it’s fullest. Find those Indie authors you love, like their pages, follow them and mention them in your posts. One good turn deserves another, and if your work is good, your relationship with other authors may give you some much needed exposure, and put clout back in your verified review.

C. Evenfall is the author of the paranormal/suspense novel, “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill.”

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A Haunting Response to an Ad Campaign

I recently ran a social media ad campaign and the response has been overwhelming. Let me just say, that I was completely surprised by the response and even more so by the stories that strangers have shared so freely with me. I boosted the post with a $20 budget and targeted users who were interested in the paranormal using the most pointed tag words I could come up with.

The ad was a simple one, it read :

WANTED

Ghost stories. I want to hear about your personal experiences.
Have you ever witnessed a haunting?
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Do you know anyone who has?

If so, I want to interview you . . .message me

Five hours after the post went up, the responses started pouring in. When the campaign ended, I added another $5 to the budget and found more folks who were willing to talk. I got stories about mysterious voices, photos of ghosts, accounts of hauntings, and ghost sightings ! I met mediums and sensitives and even a couple of witches ! I carefully responded to each person, after all, they had taken the time to answer the ad and they each deserved my acknowledgement, not to mention that I was very excited and interested in each one!

As you can imagine, the ad was also great for that social media page as well, earning me a lot of post likes, page likes and higher than average engagement statistics. Since I am marketing my book, “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill”, on that page, I was thrilled with the results.

I quickly figured out that I could not possibly interview everyone individually, which was a shame really, because 90% of the respondents had GREAT stories to share about their own personal experiences with the paranormal. I was forced to narrow it down to a manageable number. I set to work, late evenings after long work days, to write a set of interview questions unique to the experiences folks had shared with me . . . this proved to be the real challenge.

As I struggled to select questions individually, I asked myself, what would the world like to know about this persons encounter or experience? Unable to answer that one, I decided to fashion the interviews centered around what I wanted to know and BAM, I had a set of questions for each one of the selected.

This experience has taught me so much about the marketing power of social media in today’s world. ( I come from the days when our only social medium was the house phone that hung on the kitchen wall ) It has also enlightened me to the willingness of people to talk about this most fascinating topic ! As a believer myself, and having my own personal experience story, I realize that most of us are hesitant to share, which makes me appreciate these folks and their haunting responses all the more.

C. Evenfall is the author of the Paranormal/Suspense novel, “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill.”

Balancing Writing Time: For Authors who work full-time

If you work a full-time job and still aspire to be an author, you will find that setting aside the time necessary to write your novel presents quite a challenge. After all, there’s still house chores to do, gardening, lawn work, dog baths and a bunch of other stuff that really rack up the minutes, and eat away at your spare time.

Notice, I said spare-time! When I first started writing, it was a hobby, something I did to relax and escape for a while. When I decided to seek out publishing options, I thought, ” Well, I’ll set half my weekend aside for writing”. Something miraculous happened and I actually completed the novel. Yay! I felt wonderful!

Until I realized how much “time” the marketing was going to take. Suddenly my “spare-time” was not enough time to do it all! I’m not twenty anymore and don’t multitask as smoothly as I used to. So, I decided that I would treat marketing for “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill” like a part-time job … second to my full time job of running a business. I quickly realized that my part-time job was absorbing my “spare-time” leaving me very little time for sleep.This was not working for me.

The bottom line is this, if you want to write and you want to promote your work, but you have a full-time job, you must make a schedule. Be realistic with what you expect from yourself and remember that you write because you love it! The following steps are how I am getting myself on track.

  •  Make a list of your marketing goals each week.
  •  Make a realistic schedule for yourself. Consider how much time you can set aside each day for marketing tasks and what time of day is best for you. Try to adhere to your schedule but if you have extra time one day and work ahead on your list, good for you!
  •  Take good notes. I have a notebook handy while I am working on marketing. On it I document what I did and where I stopped. It helps me to restart the next morning right where I left off.
  •  Keep a notebook handy throughout the day if possible. If you’re writing a story, ideas can come along at any time. Jot these down as they occur and when the weekend comes, you’re already halfway to writing a couple of chapters.

Because I run my own business, I have some flexibility in my work schedule … not much but some. So I decided that I would reclaim my weekends, creating “spare-time” in which I could get creative and start my next novel. Creativity does not flow on demand, but all week long I jot down notes, ideas and phrases that come to mind so that when the weekend arrives, I already have the bare bones.

I decided to set aside 2 hours each day for marketing my latest release and I chose early morning. Why did I chose 6am as my marketing time? Because at 6am my business phone is not ringing and I am fresh for the day. Our work day starts at 9am, so I have two hours for answering emails, making inquiries about reviews, posting to my books social media pages etc. with a one hour break in between.

For now, it is working for me. I feel a bit more empowered and less overwhelmed. I am experiencing the joys of writing again and the excitement of promoting my novel “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill”.

I realize that in time, I may have to rethink my writing and marketing schedule, but the important thing is that for the time being, I feel much more organized.

C. Evenfall is the author of “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill” available in paperback at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1503205096

and in e-book format at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VIU9YKS.