Five Book Marketing Tips You Can Try Today

We’re talking marketing for April and I immediately panicked and flailed. Then, I decided to consult an expert. When I think of YA authors who’ve done marketing well from the ground floor, I think of THE YA GIRL, Jennifer Bardsley.

I asked her for her 5 best Marketing tips… And as luck would have it, she was happy to share!

Five Book Marketing Tips You Can Try Today By Jennifer Bardsley
It would be fun to have a bank account stashed with cash, a nanny at the ready, and a private jet to shuttle me off to book conferences all over the world, but the reality is that when it comes to marketing my books, I need to concentrate on free things I can do on my phone while my kids are taking swimming lessons. Here are five strategies I’ve learned to help connect my books with readers:

Start a Facebook Page
Here’s how.
Post a couple of times a day.
Be brief and witty.
Provide entertainment and encouragement.
Don’t constantly sell yourself or your book.
Only do a “buy my book post” once every twentieth post.
Respond to every comment.
See my article in SCWBI: Tips for Building up your Facebook Author Page.
Read my article for Adventures in YA Publishing Facebook Rules are a Must Read for Authors.
Join the Bookstagram Community on Instagram
Heart as many posts as possible.
Leave as many comments as possible.
When a new account follows you, give that person lots of hearts.
Tag your location in every picture.
Watch for new hashtag trends.
Don’t share another account’s photo without permission!!!!!!!!
Read my article for Adventures in YA Publishing: Great tips for writers using Instagram.

 

Join the #YAlit Community on Twitter
Post a few times a day.
Retweet to make friends.
Only use two or three hashtags.
Organize your followers in lists.
Uses lists to engage with targeted audiences.
Use Manage Flitter to unfollow people who don’t follow you back.

Build a Newsletter Mailing List
Have a sign up form on your website.
Include a sign up at the back of your book.
Run a Rafflecopter to encourage subscribers.
Stay with MailChimp until you hit 2,000 followers.
Switch to Mailer Lite when your list grows beyond 2,000, because it’s cheaper.
Shoot for a 50% open rate.

JB

 

About the Author
Jennifer Bardsley writes the column “I Brake for Moms” for The Everett Daily Herald. Her novel “Genesis Girl” debuted in 2016 from Month9Books, and the sequel “Damaged Goods” came out in 2017. “Genesis Girl” is about a teenager who has never been on the Internet. Jennifer however, is on the web all the time as “The YA Gal” with over 21,000 followers on Facebook, 19,000 followers on Instagram, and 11,000 followers on Twitter. Jennifer is a member of SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens debut author group, and is founder of Sixteen To Read. An alumna of Stanford University, Jennifer lives near Seattle in the United States of America.

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Website Twitter Instagram Facebook Goodreads

 

I love these tips and can’t wait to try them out! Thanks so much for visiting today!!

🙂

Beck

beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.

Marketing: How to lose friends and not influence people

Since it’s something we here at AO&R struggle with to varying degrees, the crew decided that this month’s topic should be marketing, so hang on to your seats … we’ll be talking about marketing mayhem all month!

Now, I’m no expert on the topic, but I am a regular Joe on all the regular social media channels. I also have friends who frequent social media, many of which are young adults. I’m a member of a few author groups and a few reader groups both on Facebook and in real life. So although I’m not experienced when it comes to marketing, I do hear a little about what people love and hate. There’s one thing all these groups and people have in common (other than a love of books) and I hear it often.

From the authors:

How can I get people to buy my book?

From the readers / regular Joes:

How can I empty my social media of all the crap people are trying to sell me?

Oh dear.

As authors we want visibility. We want people to know our books exist, to read them, to love them, to gossip about how great they are, but how do we make this happen? I’m going to leave that to someone else to expand on and instead let’s talk about the quickest ways to make that not happen.

“If I’ve never heard of the author or my friends haven’t recommended them I won’t one-click.” (facebook group)

“If an author continually posts ‘buy my book’ I unfollow them. I want to know the real them, not the sales pitch.” – R (facebook readers group)

“If I wanted to buy a book I’d go to the bookstore, not click a link.” – Miss S (14 y.o)

“Authors are all the same on twitter. They just want you to buy their (retracted swear) book. BORING.” (facebook group)

“I hate seeing ads in my facebook feed. They get in the way of my real friends’ posts.” – V (School mum)

“I followed my friend’s page to support her, but…” *shrugs* “she just wanted me to share her posts and all that did was annoy my friends. I eventually stopped reading her posts.” – H (school mum, in reference to a small business, not books)

“I didn’t click to buy it the first time she posted. What makes her think I’d buy it on the tenth post?” – H (school mum)

Righty-o then. :/

 

Given all of those comments, how does one market on social media? Carefully, thoughtfully, and with the right targeting. If you want to stop potential readers from scrolling right on by I suggest avoiding the following things I’ve heard our target audience complain about;

  • Unsolicited ‘crap’ in news feeds
  • Being expected / asked to share promotional material
  • Only seeing promotional posts / photos from a page
  • Continually seeing pitches for the same product
  • Instragam photos full of nothing but the author’s books
  • Tweets full of links (sorry tweeps)
  • Facebook posts flogging products, even if it’s a different product each time
  • Spamming (that’s the same thing posted/shared repeatedly)

So, how can an author effectively sell books? Lauren had some great ideas on Facebook marketing last week. And if you tune into the rest of our posts this month, AO&R’s other bloggers have some more ideas. Plus, we’ve got an interview with an industry professional coming up, so make sure you stay tuned. There is sure to be some great advice!

While we’re waiting though … what’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to social media advertising?


Stacey Nash hates marketing with a passion, but she’s trying to get better at it. How else will she sell all the great books she’s written? To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries to be engaging), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

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Pitching Contests: Yes or No?

PitchWars-Logo

This month here on Aussie Owned and Read, we’re talking pitching. Make sure you stay tuned for our best pitch info and advice coming all throughout the month.

There are a lot of different types of competition authors can look at as a way to give their work industry attention, but today I’m talking pitching contests. Two of the biggest pitching contests that come around every year — which you may have heard of if you have a Twitter account and follow any authors at all — are Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars. The latter is on right now.

Both of these are organised by contest queen Brenda Drake. The ultimate goal is to have your pitch and/or manuscript chosen, polished, and put in front of participating agents for consideration. To do this, you need to first be selected by one of a number of mentors, who are generally editors, published or agented authors, or others with publishing experience but who aren’t actually publishers or agents themselves.

My experience: the positives

I am not an expert on the inner workings of either of these particular competitions. For that, you’ll have to ask Sharon, who is an experienced Pitch Wars mentor. But I have participated from the other side.

When I first joined Twitter back in 2012 I didn’t have any experienced critique partners. The only people who’d read my manuscript at that point were friends, who were enthusiastic but either didn’t see problems with the story as it stood or were too kind to tell me.

Pitch Wars was on about a month later, so I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t win, or even get picked for the final three by my mentors, although apparently I made some shortlists. It turned out that my query letter blew chunks. Several kinds, in new and interesting colours. Disheartening, much? But there were some definite positives from the experience.

  • I received some lovely compliments back on my writing. Yay, validation!
  • I got some specific, constructive feedback on the query and opening pages — all of which ultimately led to me improving both and selling that manuscript to a small publishing house.
  • I befriended many other entrants and a few of the mentors. I wouldn’t be an Aussie Owned and Read co-blogger now if it weren’t for that first Pitch Wars, and that’s how I met my critique partners.

My experience: the negatives

Of course, there are also a couple of big downsides to these sorts of contests.

They are yet another way to experience rejection, and some people will be disheartened to the point where they give up altogether. (Julie Hutchings, an author I adore, posted a rant last week that touched on exactly that; it’s worth a read if you want the other perspective.) I remember how gutted I was, receiving those “no thanks” emails after my first Pitch Wars. I’d never received a real, non-form rejection letter before, and it hurt — though I believe it’s better to have received that email from a fellow author than from an agent.

The other downside to these contests is that the mentors, as wonderful and giving as they are, are third parties. I can see that some authors, even those who don’t necessarily need the feedback anymore, might use pitching contests as yet another procrastination tool. If you have a query-ready manuscript that has been beta read and critiqued and edited, and you have a polished query letter all ready to go, do you really need to take a month or two out before querying in order to enter a contest? Why not hit up MSWL (Manuscript Wish List, my favourite agent-finding site) and put that baby out there all by yourself?

Are pitching contests right for you?

I’ve haven’t entered a pitching contest in a couple of years now. (I do love an enthusiastic Twitter pitch party, though!) There are a few reasons for that, but primarily it boils down to the fact that I have those awesome, experienced critique partners now, and I’m comfortable with the idea of querying directly to agents and publishing houses rather than going through what is essentially another set of gatekeepers. (I mean that in the nicest possible way!)

I’ve also been a mentor-equivalent in other, smaller contests — NestPitch and Pitcharama — so I’ve seen the slush pile from the other side. I’m not so arrogant as to suggest that I wouldn’t benefit from the insight of the current contest mentors, but I also know I don’t need that help as badly as I did in 2012. Back then I didn’t even know where to find a list of agents to query!

Ultimately, my advice is this: see what the contest is offering you. Not just the ultimate reward of an offer from an agent or publishing house, but all the other benefits, which are potentially available regardless of whether you’re selected. Pitching contests can be an excellent way to receive another perspective on your work from someone other than your bestie or your mother. They can teach you how to research a mentor’s preferences (a skill that will be invaluable when querying agents). And they can introduce you to a new circle of writers, who — if you’re as lucky as I was — might become an invaluable support network.

Whatever you decide to do, may the odds be ever in your favour.

Cassandra Page is an urban fantasy writer whose first book, the manuscript she entered back in that 2012 Pitch Wars, is now available as a free ebook!

Cassandra Page

 

Twitter for authors: a newbie’s guide

You guys are stuck with me again. The second time in less than a week. I KNOW, RIGHT? What terrrible thing must you have done to deserve such punishment? I’m not sure — that’s between you and your conscience.

But while I’m here I’ll try to be useful! Today I’m going to talk about Twitter. You may have heard of it (lol): a social media application that allows micro-posts, or tweets, of 140 characters or less. A lot of authors use it as part of their platform, as another way to reach their readership, and to try and increase it.

"Tweet..."

“Tweet…”

But when used badly it can go horribly, horribly wrong. Here are my top five tips for authors new to Twitter (although they apply to anyone that wants to use it to promote a product).

1. Don’t spam. The occasional humblebrag or promotional tweet with a link to your book or blog is okay, but it shouldn’t be everything you tweet. Aim for at least five other tweets to every one with a link in it. (I’ve seen some people suggest a 10:1 or 20:1 ratio, which wouldn’t hurt but I’d personally find it hard to maintain.) People who are deciding whether to follow you will probably skim your recent tweets. If they all say “BUY MAI BOOK, LOLZ”, odds are you won’t get the tick. And if they do follow you and that’s all they get, they’re likely to click unfollow.

So what do I talk about then, you’re asking? Be social. Chat to people. Retweet other tweets that take your fancy — although, again, try and limit your retweets vs original content, and remember a retweet with a link is using up one of your “link” tweet slots. Whether it’s your spam or someone else’s, it’s still spam!

2. Consider scheduling. To maintain regular content on Twitter when you’re at work, at school or sleeping, there are several options. TweetDeck, a free web application designed by the folks at Twitter, lets you schedule tweets. Another option is Hootsuite, which allows you to manage not only Twitter but also Facebook and Google+. (For day-to-day use I find TweetDeck is generally easier to read your tweets on, but YMMV.)

One thing about scheduling is that, while it’s a great tool in moderation, you don’t want to schedule 100% of your tweets. Remember that thing about being social? It does require a certain amount of live interaction. (Curses…!)

3. Don’t use True Twit. Yes, there is a Twitter web application called True Twit. I’m sure it’s a great little application for people who are on Twitter to talk to their mates and stalk their celebrity crush, but for those who are there to raise their social media platform, it’s a bad idea. The way it works is that everyone who follows you must enter a code — one of those word verification things — before they’re permitted to follow you. (I really struggle with those verification codes. Maybe I am a bot!)

The thing is, why would you want to put a hurdle between yourself and potential followers? Even if some of them are bots, who cares? So long as you don’t follow the bot back, it will have zero impact on your life.

4. Never send auto DMs. Some social media management applications let you send auto DMs (or direct messages) to people when they follow you. NEVER EVER DO THIS! If someone follows you and you want to chat to them, tweet them and start a real conversation. An auto DM is the social media equivalent of ringing someone’s doorbell. Probably at dinner time, or while they are on the toilet. Anything with a link (“buy my book” or “follow me on Facebook”) is particularly bad, but even an auto DM “thank you for the follow” can annoy some folks. Better to just not.

5. Play nice. This bit of advice goes for all social media, review websites, and, you know, life. I’m not saying don’t be yourself on social media. But show the most flattering side of yourself. Put your best foot forward, wearing your nice shoes, not those blown out thongs that have stepped in something unsavoury.

Some people take playing nice to the extent that they never tweet about controversial topics, like politics or religion. Others, like me, just try to keep those things to a bare minimum. Either way, don’t be rude to people. Don’t buy in to other people’s crazy, because sometimes it rubs off.

So, there you have it — my five tips for those writers who are new to, or contemplating signing up for, Twitter. If you’ve been using Twitter for ages, what are your pet peeves? I’d love to see what I missed.

Cassandra Page is a young adult and new adult urban fantasy author who spends a little bit too much time on Twitter.

Okay, way too much time.

Cassandra Page