Now that you have your files organized and have an online presence on a number of social media sites, it’s time to take the next step in promoting your brand and your books as well as to protect your assets.
Almost all authors who are successful at promotion have achieved that success through the use of a newsletter. Before you can have a newsletter, though, you have to have a list of subscribers to send it to!
Building an Email List
Acquiring email addresses takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. You’ll need a place to keep the email addresses, so start by setting up an account at MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor or other email service provider. You can usually start free and even send out newsletters for free until your list reaches a certain size.
From where can you acquire email addresses? Well, remember that newsletter signup on your website? Set it up so the addresses go directly to your email service provider. If you ever need to get a list for some reason, most providers offer the means to download the list directly to your computer. Many authors offer a free book as an incentive to get sign-ups. You can also gain addresses from online promotions, such as Facebook parties, and from raffle basket entry forms at book conventions. When you’re just getting started, ask another author in your genre if you can borrow theirs—and then offer a cross-promotion opportunity.
The only time you’ll collect anyone’s snail mail address is if you’re needing to send a contest winner or a beta reader SWAG (stuff we all get), paperback books or greeting cards.
Promote Using a Newsletter
The email service providers offer a number of templates to use when authoring your newsletter. Take a look through the offerings and find one that’s the best visual representation of you. You may find one that’s close and that with a bit of tweaking, will work for you. Add your branding graphics and then start writing. Include an image of your latest book cover, a short blurb about the book (remember, some people will be reading your newsletter on their mobile device), and links to the buy sites. Add an article or feature that’s related to your book. Content types can include photos, data, recipes, comics (be careful of copyright infringement), and blog posts. Give your audience a compelling reason to subscribe, share and return.
How often you send out a newsletter depends on you and how much information you want to share with your list. Some authors only send newsletters when they have a new release while others send out one every week (be careful not to spam). Do what works for you.
Promote Using a Blog
There are so many blogs out there, it’s hard to get discovered. A blog requires regular postings, so if you decide to write one, work with other authors to provide content. Then cross-post with their blogs to extend your readership. Create content that’s consistently interesting, useful and engaging to your audience. Sometimes that means you have to think outside the box.
Promote Using Social Media
If you’re constantly trying to sell-sell-sell your books in social media posts, you’ll find you’ll quickly lose those who “Liked” your page. When you have a release, do send out tweets, post the announcement on your Facebook author page and the book’s page (even if it doesn’t have any “Likes”, people who find the page will see the release information), post a pic of the cover on Instagram, and share your Pin. Take advantage of the cross-promotion opportunities using a ThunderClap or Headstarter campaign. There are a number of Facebook groups you can join to help with these endeavors—you support their campaigns in exchange for them to support yours to help you reach the required threshold of participants. As a result, you may find authors with whom you can do future cross promotion.
Promote Using Email Promoters
When you don’t yet have a large email list or want to reach potential readers who may not yet know about you, consider “renting” a list by employing an email promoter.
There are so many email promoters who claim to have a large subscriber list, it’s hard to know which one to use and if what you’re paying is worth it. Some are better at free and 99¢ promotions—BookBub Featured Deal rules in this particular arena, especially for those promoting a 99¢ book—while others don’t require a discount to feature your book (The Fussy Librarian). Costs range from free to $1000 depending on how many subscribers they have in your genre. Most won’t take a book priced higher than $4.99.
Here are just a few to consider:
- BookBub Featured Deal (hard to get, expensive, but well worth it)
- Ebook News Today (ENT)
- kBoards (Chute Technologies)
- The Fussy Librarian (your book has to have 10 reviews of at least 4 stars, but once you’ve had one featured, you can do new releases with no reviews)
- Choosy Bookworm
- Read Freely
- Freebooksy/Bargain Booksy/Red Feather (Written Word Media)
- Hot Zippy (Bargain eBook Hunter, PixelScroll, Romance eBook Deal)
- All Romance ebooks (Featured Titles and Deal of the Day)
- Book Gorilla
- eBook Soda
- eBookDealoftheDay (UK)
Remember the note about stacking ads? To get the most out of your promotion dollars, use these services to do just that. Schedule several over a period of a couple of weeks and then keep track of your daily sales to determine which ones work the best for you. On the next release (or 90 days later), use just the services that worked the best for your first book and do it again.
Promote Using Advertisements
Since print magazines are slowly disappearing, more and more book advertising is being done online. If you decide to try advertising in an online magazine, focus on the publications your audience reads. Target specifically to people with particular interests, because you’ll want to a high return on your investment (ROI). And be sure your advertisement looks professional! If it looks the least bit amateurish, consider hiring your book cover artist or another designer to do your ads. Remember, you’re promoting your book as well as your brand.
Promote Using SWAG
Some authors will tell you that SWAG never sold a book, but others swear by the fact that people rarely toss bookmarks or the useful freebies they collect at book signings and conventions. Whatever you give away should include your brand. Although it can be specific to a book, you still want your brand front and center. And remember—book-specific SWAG won’t be as useful for the next book, so you may want to come up with a giveaway that will work for you and your brand no matter what book you happen to be promoting.
Now that you have a handle on promotion, it’s time to work on protecting your work.
Protecting Your Copyright
Although your book is technically copyrighted the moment you started writing it, take the next step and register the copyright. Got to http://copyright.gov. A simple copyright currently costs $35 while a standard copyright (necessary if you’ve included an excerpt to another book in the back) is $55.00. Try to do this within three months of publishing your book.
Argh! Book pirates are out there, posting your books on sites that supposedly allow anyone to download them for free (or in exchange for giving your credit card information). The “legitimate” sites offer DMCA forms you can complete so that the links to your books will be removed, but it’s a bit like playing Wack-a-Mole since your book may come down from one site and then appear the next day on another. You’ll be spending way too much time filling out forms rather than writing if you try to fight every instance of your book appearing on a pirate site. Not all the sites even have your book—most just have a link to a server where your book might or might not be present.
If you’re concerned about piracy (and you should be), a better option is to hire a firm to do the sword fighting for you. DMCA Force and MUSO offer anti-piracy services for a nominal fee, freeing you up to spend your time writing the next book.
Backing Up Your Data
Digital assets are valuable! You’ve spent days, weeks, months—maybe even years—writing your manuscript. Invested time in tracking expenses and royalties, doing research, creating e-books. All it takes is one computer crash, or a lightning storm, or a fire, or a stray cosmic ray for you to lose it all. Don’t take chances!
Set up an automagic backup for your entire computer or tablet.
- Time Machine on the iMac (just requires an external hard drive)
- Windows Backup and Restore
- Employ a cloud-based backup
Manually back up files onto a thumb drive or an external hard drive and store it in a fire-proof box or in your safe deposit box. Swap it out with an update on a regular basis. That way, if the unthinkable happens, you’ll be able to restore your business and get back to writing.
Writing is a business, whether you do it as a hobby or to make a living. If you look and act professionally, other will perceive you to be a professional. Mind your P’s and Q’s. Reciprocate. And, finally, when you finish a book, start another.
Be sure to leave any questions in the comments section. We reply quickly! Happy writing!