9 Ways Your Fans Can Support You

My wife Sue provides social media marketing services for authors. I am, of course, her most important client. I’ve asked her to share some of her checklists and tools with you. We’d both love to hear if this type of information is helpful.—Joel

Sue L Canfield
When your fans share your writing with others it carries more social proof than your own marketing efforts because it comes from a third party. Make it easy for them. Real fans are glad to help.

Do you have all the following in place so your fans are connected with you and sharing your posts with their friends?

  1. Connect with your fans on the following social media platforms.
  2. Ask your fans to share your social media posts by doing the following.
    • Retweet something you shared on Twitter.
    • Share a post from your Facebook Author page on their own Facebook timeline.
    • Repin something from one of your Pinterest boards.
    • Share one of your status updates on LinkedIn.
    • Comment on one of your Instagram posts.
    • On Goodreads, recommend one of your books to your friends.
  3. Ask fans to sign up for your newsletter.
  4. Ask fans to share the link to sign up for your newsletter.
  5. Ask fans to subscribe to your blog and to comment at the blog. Write a blog post about how they can support you. (See Joel’s at his author website)
  6. Directly ask them to buy your books.
  7. Encourage fans to buy a copy of one of your books for a friend who they think will enjoy it.
  8. Ask fans to review your books on Amazon.
  9. Let fans know you’d love to hear from them and to send you an email.

Let your fans know that supportive things like reviews at Amazon, comments at the blog, enthusiastic shares on social media and even personal emails help make you enthusiastic about continuing to write.

Author Bio:
Sue L Canfield has been working with social media since 2005. She blogs regularly about how to use social media and consults on best social media practices at Chief Virtual Officer. She specializes in helping authors create and maintain their online presence. She currently manages a team of four social media account managers and over a dozen social media clients.

The Power of Free – Guest Post by Alex Zabala

Alex Zabala
Alex Zabala
I love being compensated for my hard work, both as a landscape contractor and an author, however I also know the how effective the power of ‘free’ can be for an author. It sounds like a contradiction but it’s not, especially when you control how much ‘free’ you want to give away. When used judicially it can actually help generate future sales.

Savvy marketers know this. That’s why they spend money hiring people to stand in supermarkets and offer free samples of their food to passersby in hopes that people will purchase the entire enchilada instead of a small sample.

It’s almost the same way in the book business.

My co-author and I engage in giveaways about twice a year for 72 hours at a time on a website that caters to what they call ‘flinch-free-clean books’ at Clean Indie Reads (We never telegraph in advance when we are going to do this). These offers are a nice way to expose us to more people and give us visibility where authors want it the most: Amazon.com. (this is for e-books only)

Most of the times we will offer one book for free (usually the older one) and discount the price of the other newer titles. The free title usually makes it the ‘Top 100 in free books’ on Amazon. The discounted books will also rise dramatically on Amazon rankings.

Results: Last month we moved about 98 books in 72 hours 60% were free and 40% were paid for.

Does this marketing strategy work? Yes it does. How can I trace the customers who bought my books? In the real world one cannot trace every sale. Nobody can. But that’s okay with me. There are about 840 million English speaking people in the world. That’s my target audience, not just my 200 e-mail contacts. This strategy was much less expensive than hiring some marketing company with no guarantee of success and no way of tracking their moves.

Some say that giving away e-books encourages people to download books that won’t be read.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I know people are reading my books. How?

Amazon provides my publisher a detailed account of how many pages are currently being read (as long as the e-readers are connected to the Internet). So, whether my books were purchased, electronically borrowed or downloaded for free, Amazon tells me that an average of 3,000 pages of my two published novels are being read daily! I don’t know who these readers are, but I know they are reading!

Also, my books have never stopped selling since I published them, (you can see the sales ranking at Amazon), of course I’m not selling thousands of books, but I am selling! My hope is to make ‘cheerleaders’ of those who received my books for free so they can come back for the other books or tell their friends about my work.

So use the power of ‘free’ properly and see if it works for you.

Alex Zabala is the author of the bestselling book Treasure for the Mayan King and The Golden Scepter. His new book, The Mind Games of Dr. Sova is on sale now at Amazon (available June 1st 2016).

Literary and Commercial Considerations in Self-Publishing

My thoughts on this excellent article by Nick Levey.

tl;dr re my comments

  1. the situation is fluid
  2. those too lazy to do the work of digging through the onslaught of independently published work are missing out, but perhaps they deserve to
  3. I am not embarrassed that I self-published and it is not a fall-back position, it is my first choice.

Maybe I need a tl;dr for my tl;dr

many-books

Quotes in italics (my comments in parentheses.)

shows just how uncomfortably firm the association is between traditional trade publishers and literary value (which we know doesn’t exist: publishing is an industry, it is commerce with primarily financial goals)

There are many possible reasons why literary fiction has fewer examples of successful self-published works, but perhaps the simplest answer is that readers of the genre are served sufficiently by traditional publishers (This is a powerful argument against self-publishing literary fiction to make money which means I’ll have to do it to make art)

a narrower and more volatile market instead of a broad and sustainable one (As author businesspeople, we must take the view of our own sustainability, not that of the market as a whole. If I can live on what I earn from writing, that means exponentially more to me than whether or not my genre or books as a whole are selling better or worse.)

Mainstream literary fiction, we can assume, has different assumptions and associations, and its readers are more reluctant to explore alternative modes of publication (Where does that conclusion come from? Curious about the data supporting the statement that readers of literary fiction are reluctant to explore non-traditional publishing avenues. Chicken, meet egg.)

David Vinjamuri . . . concludes that the “problem with Indie books is that there are so many of them.” (I restrain myself here, but, too many books? Egads.)

Such readers were often also unconvinced of the value of rereading (and later) price can be a key factor in the experience of its products (Note to self: non-rereaders want digital [which = disposable] so dial back my obsession with selling print.)

between 1830 and 1859, more than half of the novels serialized in Australia were written by just one man, John Lang (Great googlymooglies, that’s amazing.)

The spread of literary culture has always been furthered by treating novels as the commodities they are, subjecting them to the whims and peculiarities of the market in order to improve their uptake by the public. (Lovely thought. This is primarily where traditional publishing is missing the boat.)

gives authors the ability to choose how much their book is worth (Badly worded, that. Price and value are entirely disconnected.)

Many post-pressers are thus working only transitionally within this domain, while holding out for traditional validation. (This bothers me.)

(Learned a new word: stoush.)

it’s difficult to view current self-publishing as aligned with an underground when it is so dependent on the technology and the business model of Amazon. (A troubling truth. But why do I find it troubling?)

For Kloos, traditional publishing is still the desirable pathway for the production and dissemination of the literary object; self-publishing comes as a last resort. (I have no respect whatsoever for those who abandon what they believe is the proper course of action. If you think traditional publishing is “real” publishing then either do the work or opt out, but don’t settle.)

The Ten Commandments of Book Selling (Guest Post by Alex Zabala)

Alex ZabalaIf you are an author, here are some tips for selling books on Amazon. There is no silver bullet for success. I can’t guarantee you will sell books if you follow my Ten Commandments. However, failure is almost surely guaranteed if you don’t have a successful plan. Keep in mind that it’s a tough world out there. It’s very difficult to sell books.

These commandments are written in order of importance and production sequence: … more … “The Ten Commandments of Book Selling (Guest Post by Alex Zabala)”

Sharing a Secret at Elizabeth’s Place

Elizabeth Spann CraigGuest posted this week at Elizabeth Spann Craig’s blog.

It’s called The Secret to Sales without Selling: Your Author Newsletter.

Fresh take on a familiar topic. Go show Elizabeth how much my readers love me, eh?

Free: How’s That Working for Ya?

front-cover-perspective300x420Just fine, thank you very much.

Best Beloved finally had time to put on her accountant hat this week and gave me numbers about book sales this year.

The numbers themselves are small. It’s sad, but I’ll get over it.

Here’s the wildly unexpected part: sales of Through the Fog, which I give away free just for signing up for my fiction newsletter, are the highest of all my books, and higher than they’ve ever been for this book.

… more … “Free: How’s That Working for Ya?”

Faster Horses II

holy-grail-of-author-marketing(Faster Horses was the title of this month’s newsletter. This is more on the same subject.)

“If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said ‘Faster horses.'” — Henry Ford (attributed)

When I asked authors what they wanted, the universal response was “Someone to do my marketing for me.”

I’ve been racking my brains pondering a technology automation tool I could create to give struggling authors an effective marketing service they could afford.

Because, y’know, that’s what authors said they wanted.

… more … “Faster Horses II”

Learn to Love Marketing, or Give Your Books Away (or Both)

left, right, or middle?Almost every author I talk to wishes someone else would sell their books for them. The few exceptions are those who, by nature or training, enjoy marketing their books. They’ve learned enough to have a plan and to execute it consistently, persistently.

Even my wife‘s clients, who pay her large sums for social media marketing for their books, engage fully in the process. Those who don’t quickly become frustrated because she isn’t selling their books well enough, not realizing that’s not how it works (despite having that clearly explained at the outset.)

Here’s the good news: if you hate marketing and you don’t want to sell your books, you don’t have to spend another second on marketing.

… more … “Learn to Love Marketing, or Give Your Books Away (or Both)”

Wine into Water?

wine into waterAs writers, I hope you’re getting some of your marketing savvy from The Story of Telling. Not only is Bernadette brilliant, it’s the most writerly marketing description I know.

In her latest post she writes that “the customers you keep are not just choosing you—you are also choosing them. The fact that you make this choice means you get to do your best work and not the watered down version for people who might care some day.”

I co-authored a book with Rick Wilson called Hits or Niches. The diagram below outlines our shared perspective on why marketing should always aim at a niche and never aim at becoming a hit.

… more … “Wine into Water?”

Newsletter Q&A With Mrs. A

Mrs AEvery person who signs up for any of my newsletters gets a personal welcome note. Sometimes they turn into great conversations, like this one with Carrie Aulenbacher about making the most of a newsletter.

Hulloo, Carrie!

As I anxiously await the printed proof of what will likely be my only children’s book (back to the mysteries!) I think about how easy it is to get distracted from the One True Path (I know; ain’t no such thing; work with me here.)

What could I do to help you stay focused or to keep moving? I’d like to write about that.

Welcome aboard.

Interesting you mention the One True Path because the feedback I’ve been getting lately points to my being pulled in a bunch of different directions and not sticking to ONE path.

So, you’ve just met a romance author who is trying to improve her own newsletter, is passionate about marketing, loves being creative, is excited about writing business articles for Fridge Magazine, was just in the Wall Street Journal last month on a non-author related article -and- who is up to her elbows in a day job with a newsletter and marketing of its own!

With a lot of irons in the fire, I want to glean expert knowledge on how to follow so many passions while not making my author newsletter unattractive.

Do I eliminate one of the passions so as to not dilute myself?

Or add another fork in the road? Another lane to my highway?

… more … “Newsletter Q&A With Mrs. A”