Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Publishing Odds & Ends: Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics, Good News About Book Sales

Here is a good article about book marketing. Don’t rush in and jump on the latest marketing gimmick bandwagon. Come up with a strategy to reach your users and only use the marketing tactics that will add to your particular strategy; skip the ones that don’t.
"Before considering new marketing tactics and platforms, authors should focus on understanding their goals and assessing their resources.

… the more you’re focused on your own long-term outcomes and how to wisely use your time and resources, the better prepared you’ll be to consider or experiment with new tactics, adopting or discarding them as you see fit."
Read the entire article.

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Here is some good news about readership! Recently I wrote that print-book bigots annoy me when they celebrate ebook sales declines. However, it’s equally annoying when ebook bigots try to minimize print book accomplishments. All indie publishers, and all writers, should be pleased when more written works are sold – regardless of the format.
"The Association of American Publishers has published its annual revenue report for the 1,375 publishers who submit their revenue data to the AAP. This info is not to be confused with sales data or the sum total of the US book market, although it will likely be misconstrued that way.

Publisher revenue rose $342 million last year, to $7.49 billion. While on the one hand 5% growth rate looks awesome, a closer look shows that most of that growth was due to increased sales of audiobooks and hardback books."
Read the entire article.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Walk Around Batavia, Illinois: March 23, 2019

I decided to spend some time on Saturdays taking pictures. The weather was wonderful today, so I walked around town.

Batavia Depot Pond

Gazebo outside the Batavia Historical Museum

One of the painted Batavia Bulldogs around town

The Peace Bridge over the Fox River

Looking north from the Peace Bridge: the old Challenge Windmill factory

Looking south down the Fox River

Looking north up the Fox River - the dam is in the distance

Looks like this section of the bike path won't be used much today

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Indie Publishers: Find Your Niche!

Indie publishers have to find their niche. Your readers are out there and your job is to find them and interact with them. One of the biggest problems with indie publishing is you are unknown – the potential readers don’t know your book exists.

Think small and specialized. You don’t need a lot of readers to do well. Your niche does not have to be millions of people. If you had 2,000 devoted readers you could do all right if you write enough books!

Spend the time to figure out who your reader is and where, online, they might reside. For example, one of my clients writes cozy mysteries and the titles are all based on food. In fact, the author includes a recipe in the back of each book! So, I went on to Google and searched “cozy mystery and baking.” In less than a minute I found two websites, both with lists of cozy mystery series related to baking and culinary topics. Obviously, she should be on those lists. Sometimes it’s not hard to find potential groups of readers. More often it is difficult and takes time. Once you find a group, participate! Contact the website owners; comment on posts – get involved. How else will your name, and eventually your books, get known? Here are some articles on the topic:
"Thus, before we hop onto the latest marketing/promotion fad we’re wise to understand why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books. Books are not like cups of coffee or breakfast cereal, and thus require a different approach.

Yes, ads, marketing and promotion campaigns sell toilet paper, soap, and toothpaste because seriously…who is NOT USING this stuff? When it comes to influencing what folks do with their free time, however, it’s a whole other game.

Reading for pleasure has been steadily declining since the 1980s, and now that our culture is firmly entrenched in the new digital paradigm, this number is dropping off…a cliff. Back in 2004, roughly 28% of Americans over the age of 15 read for pleasure. As of 2017, that number was down to 19%, and for good reasons.

There’s Netflix, Fortnite, YouTube, Instagram, Tinder, and Candy Crush. Also, the final season of Game of Thrones in April—Spring is Coming—and we need to refresh our memories and who exactly all three hundred four characters are. Right?

Alas, what frustrates so many authors (and traditional marketing/advertising/PR people who still think it’s 1997) is that social media is the modern version of ‘word of mouth.’ Unlike direct marketing, social media efficacy can’t be precisely measured or controlled.

The more niche we can become, the less competition we have to outmaneuver and outdo."
Read the entire article.

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Way to End Corruption:

This isn't about publishing. It's about ending corruption in our government. It's about truly draining the swamp in Washington and our state capitals. Please take the time to watch this. Thank you.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Review: I, Lucifer

I, LuciferI, Lucifer by Glen Duncan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great book. I really enjoyed it. Lucifer is funny, flawed and just as messed up as all of us. The book has a real cynical grasp of human nature and is full of funny lines:

"Astonishingly gorgeous people are rarely good, for the simple reason they don't need to be. Hell's absolutely stuffed with the souls of ex-stunnas and hunks, whereas Heaven's been in a more or less perpetual state of talent-famine since human beings first started biting the dust. "

I liked this line too:

"Hell is two things: the absence of God and the presence of time. Infinite variations on that theme."

Nicely done.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Publishing Odds & Ends: Planning vs. Not Planning, Book Sales Up

I ran across a couple of blog posts that I found interesting.

First, Jane Friedman talks about the myth of planning vs. pantsing. I am attracted to the concept of outlining and planning, but I rarely actually do it - which is pretty much what her article says.
"Plotting versus pantsing is one popular version of the plan first/write later myth. This myth basically would have you believe that generating ideas, planning, writing, redrafting, submitting and publishing happen sequentially, in that order, in a linear fashion.

The myth also has its mirror image, the idea that there are some writers out there (for some reason I’m picturing them with flowing scarves) who simply cannot plan first and must write a draft then turn it into a novel. To me, this mirror image (although it’s the opposite) is simply part of the same story."
Read the entire article.

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This article angered me a little because the author conflates reading with physical books. It’s as if reading on something besides paper is not valid. If ebook sales were decreasing (they are not), it’s not because people are switching to paper, it’s more likely that they’ve stopped reading books altogether. There is too much crap out there, both in print and ebook formats. E reader sales are down? That's not a problem. People are reading on other devices. I get angry when print-book bigots feel gleeful when they read bad news (usually incorrect news) about ebook sales. We should be pushing for more readers, whether paper, ebooks or stone tablets! Nonetheless, there is good news in this article for indie publishers, and in the first paragraph I quoted a valuable perspective.

"Not long ago, I came across an article with the headline “Reading is a rapidly depleting form of entertainment,” which cited recent findings from Pew Research Center that 24% of Americans didn’t read a book in 2017. Now, what I saw was that 76% of Americans did read a book.

The American Booksellers Association, which promotes independent bookstores, says its membership grew for the ninth year in a row in 2018. Sales of physical books have increased every year since 2013, and were up 1.3% in 2018 compared to the previous year." 
Read the entire article.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Why Your Amazon Book Reviews May Disappear

I wrote a review of Ray Ziemer’s book, The Ghost of Jamie McVay, for Goodreads and Amazon on March 7th. I received an email from Amazon on the 7th that said my review had been accepted and that it was live. There was a link to the review, which unfortunately I did not click. Today I went to see if the book had received any more reviews (a friend of mine indicated she reviewed it and I wanted to see her review), but there were no reviews – mine, if it was ever there at all, was no longer showing. (My Goodreads review is still there.) I know that Amazon has a policy that family members or close friends cannot write reviews for your books. But, how do they know? It’s a secret, but the articles linked below speculate that Amazon is scouring our social media accounts to determine who knows who. I am friends with Ray on both Goodreads (Amazon owned) and Facebook. This may have doomed my review.

We’re being penalized for developing a network! All the so-called gurus tell us that authors have to be on social media, that the more “likes” we get and the more “friends” we accumulate the better our books will sell. It seems that strategy, as it applies to reviews, works against us.

I don’t have an answer here. It’s frustrating. The only thing I can offer at this point is to review books on Goodreads for authors who you may be connected to on social media. I looked at the Goodreads review guidelines and there is restriction on friends posting reviews. At least Goodreads reviews, for now, don’t get taken down if you have some online relationship with an author.

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“We don't allow individuals who share a household with the author or close friends to write Customer Reviews for that author’s book.”
From Amazon’s Customer Reviews Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions from Authors

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“Amazon knows who your writer friends are and no, you can't post reviews for them. 
Amazon somehow knows people you know personally or as acquaintances is troubling. And that Amazon keeps how it knows this under a pall of secrecy is even more troubling, especially when there's nothing in its privacy policy that explicitly addresses this.”
Read the entire article on

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"If you interact with an author in any way online, beware: Amazon might decide that you’re 'friends' and ban you from leaving a review of their latest book.

But how does Amazon work out their definition of 'friends'? It looks likely to remain a closely-guarded secret."
Read the entire article on The Guardian.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Book Review: The Ghost of Jamie McVay

The Ghost of Jamie McVayThe Ghost of Jamie McVay by R.G.  Ziemer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Ghost of Jamie McVay is a great read. As the back of the book says: Brian has problems. He has to adjust to a new town and school. His father is an unemployed drunk. His neighbor is a pyromaniac bully. All these problems combine with a ghost who was involved in a gruesome train wreck in an intriguing and quick-moving plot. The book is categorized as young adult, but I feel it has appeal to a wider range. Recommended.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Email Marketing for Authors

Authors, both indie and traditionally published, face the same challenge: getting the word out, letting the potential readers of your work know it exists. The challenge there is made far more difficult because there are so many writers. How do you stand out? How can you cut through all the noise and get noticed? Here are a couple of articles about e-mail marketing that might help.

"An email list is your secret weapon for selling books—it is a direct connection to your reader."
Read the entire article from Jane Friedman.

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"First, we need to identify the problem, and the problem is (mostly) that no one is opening your emails. If no one opens, no one clicks. If no one clicks, then no one buys. Getting the subscriber to open the email absolutely has to happen before you can deem your email campaign a success or a failure.

Consider this, email open rates are down across industries, and the reason for it is because there’s far too much noise in readers’ inboxes. That’s why email marketing for authors doesn’t work. BUT, and it’s a big but – 80% of retail professionals indicate email marketing as the single biggest driver of customer retention. Plus, email subscribers will spend an average of 128% more on products than customers who do not receive emails from a business. And if you’re really looking for exposure, email subscribers are 3X more likely to share content on social media than people who are not on your email list.

… you need to think about how you can cut through your subscriber’s inbox noise and gain their trust. They need to see you as not another boring author who just wants to hock their own eBooks.

79% of customers prefer watching a video about a product compared to reading about a product.

By 2020, 80% of content consumed online will be in the form of videos. It’s what your viewers are going to expect in the near future.

Companies that experiment with interactive content marketing strategies see their conversions improve up to 28% within a mere two weeks." 
Read the entire article by Lucille Moncrief.

A couple more:

Friday, March 1, 2019

Be Prolific and Find Reviewers

I have read, over and over, that you will sell more books if you write more books. It does make sense. The more products you have to sell, the more you will sell, whether that be books, cars, or any widget. This post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks about that, but also that it’s time to get rid of the notion that fast writing is bad writing.

This post also talks about influencers. She doesn’t go into much detail about how to find them, so that will be an area I explore in a later post. Reviews of your book are important, but some reviews are more important than others.

From the article:
"Micro influencers are more important than one-fits-all curation.

Writers need to figure out two things. First, they are micro influencers (with their worlds and their brands and their newsletters and all of that fun stuff). Second, writers should value the micro influencers who already love their work. If writers do those two things, then they won’t chase those pipe dreams of instant fame and success. Those pipe dreams are the most deadly dreams of all, because they make writers give up important things like copyright in order to make those dreams come true.

Being prolific is good. It’s not only good, but desirable.

Remember when writers suffered through that hogwash of 10 or 20 rewrites and one book every five years?

No one could make a living at that, but it sure worked well for traditional publishers, because they didn’t have the attention span, marketing budget, or ability to publish writers quickly. Professors, who also shoveled that BS, didn’t have to grade as many papers if they made their students rewrite things to death."
 Read the entire article.

Beautiful Fall Day

It's a beautiful fall day here in Illinois. Seen on the Fox River Trail