Category Archives: Digital marketing for authors

Bespoke consultancy for authors

How to score a regular blog gig

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There are some things that are just kismet. Soon-to-be-published writer meets commissioning editor at exactly the right time. Pitches the perfect blog storm and suddenly you’re queen of the blogosphere with a regular gig on a major website. ‘Hello’ to merrily extending your brand and ‘Come on in’ to keeping your all-important book in the cyber-sphere.

Witness new author Hattie Holden Edmonds and her great HuffPost blog charting her very own self-publishing journey. As it happens!

This week Hattie’s kindly reporting on our first session together a kind of ‘twitter-anti-aversion therapy’ for her (you can read some more on that here). But exactly how she scored that perfect blog gig is really the stuff of legend because she really was in the right place at the right time. If there is a moral to this happy tale – or at the very least something to learn from this, it’s network, network, network.

Whether you start out on twitter and work your way up or maybe you’ve got a friend with a friend who knows someone who walks the dog of Jonny Geller etc… Use your contacts, ask your friends and put aside your ordinarily rather British reserve. Americans don’t suffer false modesty and neither should you. To build your brand will require work, knocking on doors and sometimes being a little cheeky by calling in favours.

Hattie is taking the world by storm, one perfectly formed blog shower at a time. But she’s also putting in the miles by going round local bookshops and charming the socks of them. Tear yourself away from your computer…even from the demands of the next book because if you’ve self-published that’s only the beginning. Your next big challenge is getting out and about and meeting the right people who actually want to, and can help you and your book.

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Six tips on pitching guest posts

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Working together

In my last post I talked about content marketing and why it works for everyone, when it’s done right. I also explained that editors get pitched to a lot – so here’s some tips on how to craft a winning pitch for your guest blog.

1         Know your own book.

What are its unique or interesting angles you can write about? It’s not just about writing fiction – it’s about spotlighting your passion and what you think people will find interesting about you. Let’s start with the main character – if she’s a cook for example – you might want to pitch your favourite childhood recipe accompanied by a cute picture of yourself cooking it with your grandma. Or perhaps it’s a historical novel and you pitch a post about how you discovered something unusual in your own family history while researching the book.

2       Have an angle.

To market your book properly you need to have thought already about every angle that might be of interest to potential readers. And then you need to be prepared to craft the perfect email (always try to get a specific name to send it to), offer a unique post idea and then follow it up a week later if you don’t hear back. Editors get a LOT of emails!

3       Don’t patronize

Web editors don’t always want free content. We want relevant content.

4       Don’t assume

Be proud of having a book published but don’t brag!

5       Don’t be sloppy in the email

If you can’t be bothered to proof-read your initial email inquiry – it doesn’t say much for the post you’re going to be delivering.

6      Give something back

From an editor’s POV – we also like content marketing. So, when you email, do suggest a reciprocal link from your blog and if you’re already active in social – tell us your reach (twitter followers/facebook likes etc).

Content marketing is you scratching our back, scratching yours. Now go forth and get scratching.

The launch of Cinema Lumiere

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Cinema Lumiere fresh off the press

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Gazpacho mini shots

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The reading – standing room only

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Spice, peppers, tasty brain food

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A chef & a rock n roll singer (fabulously happy readers)

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The author – Hattie Holden Edmonds

All copies sold out. Here’s to a beautiful book, a funny, clever author and every brave self-published writer out there doing it their own way.

Content marketing – an editor’s view

 

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I’ve had the great fortune to be editor of three popular websites over the last seven years. The websites have all been aimed at women in the main, but as we all know – women don’t just want to read about one thing. We read about every topic under the sun, from politics to parenting and hedgerows to hair loss.

It’s always been clear to me that commissioning regular guest posts and features is the best way to get the best content for our users. Sadly budgets are not what they were, so much of that commissioning was done on either a shoestring budget – or with no payment whatsoever. The later of which is what many web owners would class as content marketing. Which is a win-win when it’s done the right way.

Content marketing is the use of rich, quality content to attract customers to your product/site.

From an author’s point of view – this might translate to any of the following actions:

Tweeting or posting via any social media channel valuable links to great articles/products or images

Writing guest posts for community and/or bigger/relevant blog-sites

Inviting other writers to write guest posts on your blog

In my day job, I get a steady stream of offers of ‘quality free articles for your site’. On the face of it that sounds like a no-brainer – what could be better than free brilliant content to drive ever more traffic to your site? But, in fact many of the offers come with caveats, most of which involve hidden or visible links to commercial organizations. Often the email requests state that they have in-house writers who will write about any subject of our choice. Desperate for links, many companies are hiring poverty-stricken writers to churn out anything they can hide a link in. Well, they can keep emailing because the last thing we would do to our valuable user-base is inflict this kind of pernicious marketing on them. My view, and that of many editors is – if you want to do the hard-sell on your product to our users – pay for it like everyone else.

But, if you are an author – you have a big advantage. Your ‘product’ is a book. And, hopefully one that at least some of our users would naturally be interested in (do check first though that the topic would appeal). If you do feel it’s a relevant book then have a good think about an angle we might be interested in publishing for you.

In my next post I’ll give some tips on how to pitch your guest post. Until then it’s a good idea to spend some time searching the web for sites that would appeal to your potential readers. But do be realistic – it’s a big world (wide web) out there and you won’t have time to create bespoke pitches for everyone. Better to start with two or three perfect fits than waste hours pitching wrongly to all and sundry.

Should I self-publish?

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Did you know that one third of all ebooks sold on amazon are self-published?  This is because today’s authors are embracing the modern world of book buying. And part of that world is ensuring your novel is available to download 24-7. This is about embracing technology and making it work for your book.

There has been growing trend of traditional publishing houses buying up self-publishing companies. The mighty Penguin (part of Pearson) got in on the act back in 2012 by buying out author solutions – but why? Yes, it’s a way of pouring some much-needed cash back into their pockets. But they are also getting in on the game because it’s lower risk, and quicker. And above all they know now that a self-published book, as demonstrated by the hugely popular Fifty Shades series, has as much chance of becoming a success as one which has gone down the traditional route.

In fact, if you look very closely at traditional publishing, it appears to be shrinking. Marketing budgets (unless you are J.K.Rowling) have been slashed. And, even if you have a budget – that’s not to say that those brains representing you are actually tooled up to work best online. Where it matters. Sending books to news and magazine book critics doesn’t guarantee sales anymore.

To get your book heard about you really want it reviewed by someone online. Someone who will kindly include a link so their readers can buy it instantly.  Every book mention you get should ideally be just one click away from a sale. Everything else is wonderful for building your brand. But a plug in the paper is still at best a stroll away from your local bookshop who may well be out of stock anyway. Or closed. I love bookshops as much as the next reader. But as an author you need to be clear. This is a business. And if you want your product to sell well – put it where people are buying.

Your book will sell best online. And ideally on Amazon – where it’s got 5 stars and 100s of reviews (mixed is still okay) and it’s hitting the top of the ‘Most Popular’ lists.

So, before you dismiss what used to be called ‘Vanity publishing’ think about what self-publishing can offer you:

More money: Self-publishing gives a bigger percentage of royalties to the author.

Quicker: Self-publishing cuts down the time to publication from 1-2 years to a matter of a few months.

Best of both worlds: If you self-publish you can still pay for separate services like editing, proofing and getting yourself a professionally designed book jacket.

No interference: With self-publishing it’s your baby – no agent or publisher making you change a thing. It’s your book, published the way you want it.

Cost: With ebooks and Print On Demand publishing as well as Amazon’s  well regarded Createspace (read Dean Fetzer’s great tips on getting the best of this route) you can get your book out for a fraction of the cost of a traditional publisher. For an ebook, as little as a few hundred pounds.

So there you have it: the reasons why more new and established writers are embracing the self-publishing revolution.

It might be time for you to join in too.

 

A twitter guide for writers (part 2)

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So you have a blog. You’ve not only joined twitter (see part one of my guide on how to hate Twitter a little less) how to  you’ve linked your blog and you’ve already followed a mixture of brilliant first time authors/established writers/publishing professionals and…Stephen Fry.

You’re at the party. So, it’s time to make your move.

What to tweet:

By now you should be following enough people that your timeline (a constantly updating list of their tweets) is rolling along at a chug chug pace. What next? People often talk about the 80-20 rule in terms of how much to tout your book about (20% of the tweets). It’s a good rule but it doesn’t mean the other 80% you’re tweeting needs to be utter drivel.

Watch how others interact

if you are following publishers, editors, book bloggers or literary journalists watch and learn. When in doubt, spend the first week or so just watching how they interact and reading the articles they link to.

The real Info behind twitter

There is a wealth of quite brilliant information in amongst the nonsense being recommended via this social network if you know where to find it (see #hashtags below). There are experts on every aspect of books-  whether it’s writing, getting published, ebook aficionados and digital media mavens so reading their links and tweeting your thoughts back as well as RTing (retweeting it to your followers) the original tweet. This kind of interaction will have you on the path to engagement before you can say LMAO. Honest.

Find your groove

You don’t need to have a huge following on twitter to make a success of it. Even if you only get a handful of people interested in your book or visiting your blog. It’s a start. If your book is good enough those few people will tell their friends. And they will tell theirs – and hey presto – you’re making social media work for you.

Once you’ve got the hang of engaging with people in the writing or publishing field you can then extend your focus. If your book is about time travel or football or chocolate find people who love those things.

Understanding hashtags

Hashtags are searchable tags for your tweets. Put the right one on and you will be found, forget to hashtag your best tweet ever and it may  never be read by anyone other than you *tumble weed time*. For example if you’re tweeting about your brand new book cover finally coming through you might want to hashtag #publishing #bookjacket #artwork or if you’re going down that route #selfpublishing  or #ebook. This way you’ll be found by anyone else looking at those hashtags – think of the many aspiring authors and published writers all tweeting around the world about these very topics. How to connect? Search a hashtag and hashtag your tweets.

Bon Voyage!

That’s it for now, make sure you have emergency supplies (chocolate & wine & Netflix) and may you have a successful journey.

If you have any questions or feedback please do leave a comment – and remember these really are the basics – I’m not pretending to be an expert, but honestly, it’s not #rocketscience

A Twitter guide for writers

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Earlier this week I was going on about how I solved my pal’s twitter-hate. She’s a ‘proper’ writer, so every time she faced the void of twitter, felt the pressure to perform coupled with the need to sell (her book)…her fingers and mind were rendered utterly frozen.

We talked for quite a while about why Twitter can work for authors. We talked about finding people not just looking to buy a book – but looking to buy your book. And I thought I would jot some of what we talked about down – just in case there was someone out there who might find it useful. Remember, my friend is totally new to twitter so this really is advice for the absolute beginner.

We started with some cold hard facts:

How long can will she realistically spare to tweet?

I’ve read various ‘rules’ about twitter and especially how often to tweet. But many of these so-called rules are quite unrealistic when you take into account everything else going on in most people’s lives. So rather than setting yourself up to fail, think realistically about where this whole trail of social media needs to start. Create a focus and above all avoid a scatter-gun approach. Then, the understanding of how and why to tweet should come naturally.

What’s your twitter name?

Firstly, don’t think of twitter as a short term project. And don’t call yourself after the title of your book. You’re a writer – this is the first book published, of many.  Simply put – your best bet is your author name – otherwise how are people going to find you and connect?

Link your blog:

Tweeting in isolation – won’t help you sell your book, product or brand. Hoping to accidentally make friends with India Knight so she sells it you for you is also a fantasy, and one that is only going to waste your time and energy. So, to begin with let’s assume you have a blog and you can link it to twitter – not just in the profile blurb but in the blog back-end so that any new content gets automatically shared with your followers.

Everything you do online should link to your blog

Your blog can do much of your core digital marketing for you –  detailing all the wonderful sales pitches you like with pictures, and as many sentences as you can muster (over or under those pesky 140 characters) Include lots of links…to where to order your book on amazon, and of course to read all the great reviews on goodreads,

You can even write here about where you got the idea for the book, what books you love (supporting other new authors is a great way to get support for your own work)…and so much more. Your blog is your brand statement. It showcases everything great and interesting about you and ‘your brand’ so starting with that is the best first step to any use of social media. But back to twitter.

Who to follow:

One the key things to remember about twitter is, maintaining your focus.  Lots of newcomers pile in following celebrities fired up by tales of the friend of a friend who tweeted with Stephen Fry. That said, unless Stephen is likely to tweet ‘Buy my twitter-friend’s book’ it is probably not a good use of your time. And while tweeting about #GBBO may win you a handful of possibly fair-weathered friends, it won’t necessarily match you with people who are looking for a great new book to read. So at the very beginning think about who you admire and what you want to talk about (yes, even if it’s as basic as your journey to getting published).

If you’re totally at sea  – then find someone on twitter you want to be in x years time – an established like-minded fellow writer perhaps. Then look at who they are following, and follow them.

Have a glass of wine – you deserve it.

That’s a lot to get on with for now. So why not get to this point and then have a nice break from twitter.

Read more on twitter:

I’ll link to part two just as soon as that sun goes behind the clouds. And in the meantime here’s a picture I took when i was invited to Downing Street  a few years back. The invite came out of an idea I tried out on Twitter back in the early days. Just me, my blog and a little bit of tweet-thinking got me into Number 10 with the Twitterati for the night.

It’s all out there – you just have to feel the fear and do it anyway….

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