Book Marketing Blogsby Penny Sansevieri
May 5, 2015
Last week we talked about different types of Amazon reviews. This week, let’s discuss more ideas for getting reviews on Amazon!
Use Free: Giving away your book can be a great way to drive both sales and reviews. The caveat, though, is that you need to have a letter (like the one I just shared with you) in the back of your book. You need a call to action (CTA) in order to get people to do something – like drop a review on Amazon. And yes this does work.
Goodreads: Another great place to network and get more reviews is Goodreads. And while a lot of authors like to complicate this process, Goodreads does not take a ton of effort. In fact, if you’re just on there a couple of times a week, that’s enough. Do book giveaways pre-publication, post-publication, and then any time after it’s on Amazon.
Blogger Prize Packs: Often the best way to drive interest to a book is to get a big blogger review. As I mentioned earlier, bloggers are busy, but a way to stand out is to offer a nice prize pack for them to give to their readers. By prize pack I don’t mean your book, though that’s great, too, but instead, think about gift cards, a Kindle device, or some other really cool item. For one giveaway, we did a spa gift basket which got a ton of buzz. Bloggers love to share great stuff with their readers and prize packs could go a long way to getting their attention.
Start a Club: When the first round of reviews started to appear for The Publicist (the book I mentioned before) we created an “Exclusive Reader Club,” which essentially meant that to thank them for the review, they’d get an early copy of the next book for free. Yes, I said free. Then we let them invite their friends into the “club” – and again, the price to gain entry was a review – good or bad. It didn’t matter (well it does, but it’s unethical to say that the entry price is a 5-star review). Not all reviews were great, that’s what happens when you put this out to the masses, but we did get a lot of reviews for the author.
Incentivize: After we created the Exclusive Reader Club, we then offered a free tote bag to anyone who reviewed the new book. The first fifty reviewers (again, good or bad) got a tote as a “thank you” for taking the time to review.
Reviews, and the process of getting them, has gotten more challenging and time intensive as new books continue to flood the market. Reviewers have a lot of choices. But if you’re smart about your efforts, and if you leverage Amazon’s features wisely, you can really boost your book’s exposure, and your sales. One final note on Amazon reviews: Sometimes, in order to get reviews, you need to become a reviewer. I’m not suggesting you compete for their top review spot, but instead help other writers in your market by reviewing their books. It’s not only a great way to pay it forward, but they may offer you a review, too.
May 3, 2015
Here’s a weekly wrap-up of some of Penny’s book marketing events, news, and fun finds! Happy Sunday!
- Ten great Ebook production tools from Digital Book World
- What if I told you that you could easily revive an old book and start making sales on it again? Here are four ways to revive a stale book.
- Want a free contemporary romance ebook? Letter from Money, available Apr 30-May 4 only on Amazon! Get it here today!
- Penny’s on tour! Find out how and when you can join her book tour here.
- Have you signed up for the NEW Book Marketing Expert Newsletter yet? If not do it now!
- There’s a load of tips and advice here! How to take charge of your author blog from Frances Caballo.
- Three pitfalls to avoid while writing a book from Self-Publishing Review.
- How self-publishing can establish you as an expert from Entrepreneur.
- More positive reviews for Penny’s book! Check out the latest review here.
- Love mystery thrillers? Get the Ominous: Borders: Coffee ebook for just $2.99 on Amazon from May 1-May 30.
- Have you got a good idea for a book? Check it out in these four places first from Books & Such Literary Management.
May 1, 2015
Today, we’re lucky to have a guest blogger – our friend Frances Caballo, an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. Read on for her valuable pointers on how to manage your social media in about 15 minutes a day. Thanks to Frances for joining us!
Social Media in 15 Minutes a Day
You know that to sell your new book you need to be involved in marketing it and in today’s world that means social media has to be in the mix.
If you’ve already been using Facebook and LinkedIn for some time, great! You’re ahead of the learning curve.
But if social media is completely new to you – aside from a Facebook profile you somewhat neglect – then it’s likely that you’ve spent time reading blog posts or attending webinars and social media workshops at writers’ conferences.
What you probably haven’t learned is that you can manage your social media in about 15 minutes a day.
Isn’t that a lovely idea? You’re probably wondering, “It that realistic?”
Keep reading because I’m going to show you how to manage your social media in a way that it won’t dominate your marketing efforts or send you into the vortex of social media time suck.
Four Steps to Managing Your Social Media Marketing
Regardless of the social media platforms you use there are four steps to managing your social media.
- Start with curation. Find content and create content to share. The content can be in the form of text as in links to blog posts by colleagues and experts in your genre or posts you write. Your content can also be in the form of images. Share as many images as you can – at least once daily on Twitter and in every post elsewhere.
- Schedule your social media posts. Once you know what you want to say and share, use a social media dashboard to schedule your posts.
- Find time to socialize. The very nature of social media is that it is social. In the book Twitter Power 3.0 the authors Joel Comm and Dave Taylor write, “Someone who uses social media successfully doesn’t just create content; he or she also creates conversations, and those conversations create communities.” So keep the social in social media and create communities with your readers on the social media platforms that best serve you.
- Review your analytics. Determine which posts receive the highest level of engagement and try to replicate that content every week. You can use the free analytics tools on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (if you have a Pinterest business account). There are also tools (such as SocialReport, mentioned below) available that provide analytics on other social media networks.
Tools to Help You Save Time
There are numerous applications available to help you save time on social media. Here are just a few the tools and tricks I use.
- AllTop – This is a wonderful directory of the top blogs in every category imaginable. You will always find the information here to curate and share.
- Swayy – Once you tell Swayy what your interests are, the app will send you an email each day with the five top blogs in your niche or genre, and you can schedule your post within the same application. This tool will save you a lot of time.
- ContentGems – This application works identically to Swayy except it will send you a longer list of blog posts.
- News feeds and lists: On Twitter, you can create lists of people who post great content and then use that list to curate content you want to share. You can also do the same thing reading through your news feeds on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other social media networks that you use.
Scheduling your content is your next step. You will need to find an application that has the features you want.
- Buffer – This is a great tool for scheduling your posts. Buffer integrates well with other applications such as SocialBro, which determines your best tweeting times throughout the day. If you upgrade to the Awesome Plan you can also use it to share your posts on Google+.
- SocialOomph – This is my favorite social media dashboard. However, I only use it for LinkedIn and Twitter. You can schedule your Facebook page posts for the week using Facebook’s scheduling tool within the status update box. In addition, you can use a free chrome extension to schedule your Google+ posts. If you’d rather have one application take care of all of your scheduling needs, you can upgrade to a paid version of Buffer (about $10/month). If you’d like a more powerful dashboard, use SocialReport, which posts on every major social media network and provides killer analytics But SocialReport is about $40/month.
- Applications just for Twitter: TweetDeck and Pluggio (Pluggio has great analytics!)
Tools to Help You Socialize (As If You Need Help with That!)
There are some cool apps that will keep you in the know.
- NutshellMail –You can choose to receive an email once or twice a day. Each message will tell you who your new followers on Twitter are, who unfollowed you on Twitter, what’s trending on your Facebook news feed, which friends have birthdays, and what information is trending on LinkedIn.
- Newsle – This application is just for LinkedIn. You will receive an email every day that lets you know when your friends and colleagues are making the news.
- Twitter Notifications Tab – You can also log into Twitter and click on the Notifications tab (or check your social media dashboard) to find out who is following you and sharing your tweets.
- Join Groups & Communities – By joining groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and communities on Google+ you can easily join in conversations, share expertise, and make new friends and contacts.
Can I Really Do All This in 15 Minutes?
Yes. But – you knew there would be a but, didn’t you? – if you can allocate one day each week to spending at least 30 minutes for planning your social media posts.
The rest of the week you will only need at most 15 minutes a day.
And those 15 minutes can be spent while waiting for a friend at a café, sitting in your doctor’s waiting room, or sitting in front of the TV and taking time during commercial breaks to check in and be social.
We all know that social media can be time-consuming. It’s easy to open Facebook, check our news feed and get lost in our friends, fans and followers’ posts. We can click links that take us to another website and spend too much time watching silly videos.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
If you are willing to spend at least 30 minutes once a week planning your social media posts for the week than all you need is 15 minutes a day to spend some fun time socializing with your friends, followers, and contacts, who are mostly the people who read your books and stories.
These 15 minutes a day are the most crucial part of your social media marketing. During those 15 minutes, you are creating relationships with your readers. You are answering their questions. You are allowing them to get to know the author behind the book.
Don’t ever forget how special it feels to know the author of a book you adore. Why wouldn’t you want to spend 15 minutes a day talking to readers who most appreciate your writing?
So as long as you’re willing to spend 30 minutes once a week, all you need is 15 minutes a day to incorporate social media into your book marketing strategy.
I would love to hear about any strategies you use to economize your time and make social media less time-consuming.
About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers on her website or check out her newest book, Avoid Social Media Time Suck. Connect with Frances on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.
April 29, 2015
Welcome to the fifth installment of our April “Social Media Series.” This week, we’ll focus on how to extend your marketing reach. Check out these tips to make sure you’re not missing two important markets: women and millennials.
Are you marketing your book to men? You may want to reconsider that. Here’s why:
According to MediaPost, women account for $7 trillion in US consumer and business spending.
Women also make or influence 85% of all purchasing decisions. Yes, you read that right: 85%.
Women purchase over 50% of what is referred to as “traditionally male products” so electronics, home improvement items, cars, and books (geared to men).
78% of women gather product information online before making any purchase
Women account for 58% of online spending.
What about Millennials?
Their book shopping habits might surprise you (they’re more likely to read print than an ebook) but don’t underestimate their marketing potential…According to a recent Publishing Technology survey:
- 45% of millennials discover books by word of mouth referrals, 34% by social media, and 32 % by online browsing.
- When it comes to sharing their opinions on books, 54% of millennials share by word of mouth 20% by social media, and 18% in online communities
- Best part? Millennials can be persuaded by online promotion! 55% are persuaded by price promotions, 37% by ebook/print book bundling, and 10% by shorter content forms or pay-per-chapter ebooks.
Don’t miss out on these important markets!
April 28, 2015
When I talk to authors about getting reviews, most struggle to get just twenty, while other authors can’t seem to reach much beyond that.
The problem is that bloggers are inundated, and since there are 4,500 books published every day in this industry, the system is cluttered. Further, studies have shown that readers in general don’t always review the books that they buy. So what’s an author to do? Before we dig into some tips, let’s first look at different types of reviews:
Different Types of Reviewers: Do They all Matter?
Reviewers, like anything in marketing, are very relationship-based. That’s why it’s often easier to get reviews for your second or third book, but first-time authors, don’t worry – I’m going to show you a tip in a minute that can help you double or triple the amount of reviews you get.
There are a few different types of Amazon reviewers. Let’s look at each:
Top Amazon Reviewers: These folks can review anything, not just books, and they often do a lot of reviews. I had one reviewer tell me she once posted 100 reviews a month on Amazon. These reviewers also get a lot of credibility in that their reviews are often accompanied by attributes such as Hall of Fame Reviewer, Vine Voice and Top Ten Reviewer. Here’s an example of how a top reviewer shows up on Amazon.
It’s a great thing to get a top Amazon reviewer to consider your book, but they are tough to target. Does it mean you should ignore them? No. We’ll talk more about how to creatively target them in a moment.
Amazon Reader Reviewers: These are readers who just love books. They aren’t part of the top list like the high profile Amazon reviewers, but they can also review a lot of books. Their reviews are thoughtful, insightful, and thorough. They tend to be very genre focused, which means that they stay true to one genre, possibly two. Many of them are also on Goodreads, which is another reason why it makes sense to be on that site, too.
Consumers: Do consumers review books? Yes, but according to a review statistic I read recently they don’t review a lot. Often only 1% of consumers will review a book they read, but I’ll show you how to quadruple that number for your next book.
Bloggers: We love bloggers. They have this tireless passion for books and if you can get them to review yours, this relationship can last the length of your career. But keep in mind that while book blogger relationships are great, not all of them review on Amazon, so if your goal is to really populate that page with reviews, you’ll want to make sure they do.
Curious about how to find great book bloggers? You can search for many of them on Google and search “book blogger” + your genre. You can also go to sites like: http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/ or http://www.blogmetrics.org/ to find bloggers in your genre.
How to Find Amazon Reviewers
A quick Google search will take you to this link: http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers. The problem is that this link takes you to an endless list of reviewers you now have to ferret through.
As you can see, the list has two tabs on it, Top Reviewer Rankings and Hall of Fame Reviewers. The Hall of Fame list is really the top of the top. If you can get picked up by one of those folks, you’re golden. Not all of them review your genre, and some don’t even review books. There are other ways you can reach them, though.
Some authors I know will just find reviewers based on other, similar titles. You can do this by going to books that cover the same or a similar topic and see who has reviewed their book on Amazon. You follow the reviewer’s link to his or her Amazon profile page, look for an email address, and send a pitch. It’s a very time-intensive way to get reviews, though it’s 100% worth it. If you start this process early (i.e. before your book is published), you’ll be able to target these folks as soon as your book is ready to go.
How to Double the Amount of Blogger Reviews You Get
You’ve now identified the bloggers you want to pitch and they also review on Amazon. You know that they get a lot of review requests, so how will you make yours stand out?
Last year I conducted an experiment. I wanted to see if there was a way I could double or triple the amount of reviews I could get if I were an unknown, newly-published author. If you’ve ever attempted to get reviews, you know it’s never easy as a first-time author. You’re lucky to get one or two at the most. I always tell authors to personalize their pitches whenever they can because it’ll net more review requests. Most of the time authors sort of nod in agreement, but I suspect that very few actually do this. I mean, let’s face it; it’s a big time-suck to personalize pitches, right? You have to go to their blog, find their name, look up some of the books they’ve done reviews on, see if they’re right for your book and then pitch them. Seems like a lot, right? Now I’m going to ask you to take this a step further. I want you to include some personal information on them, too. I did this any time I could and, as I said, I tripled the amount of review requests I got for this unknown author. In some cases, I quadrupled the amount.
Turning Your Book into a Review Machine
We all want to turn our book into a sales machine. Now I’m not talking about turning your book into a cross-promotion tool (though that’s good, too), I’m speaking about getting your book to work for you in other ways.
We’ve worked with many first-time authors, but earlier this year I had an idea I wanted to try. I wanted to find a way to encourage readers to review the book by adding a specific request. We asked the author to include a letter in the back of her book asking for reviews. She reminded readers how important their voice is. Did it work? Yes. In fact she’s got well over 250 reviews, of which only 10 were solicited. Remember, this is a first-time author with no history online and this book was self-published. All of these things worked against her and still she succeeded in getting tons of reviews. Were they all five-star? No, but that’s not the point. Let’s face it, a book page that’s populated with tons of five-star reviews is pretty suspect anyway. All of the reviews are authentic, written by real readers the author engaged with. Want to know another secret? These readers are now part of her “tribe.” She stays in touch with the group and lets them know when her next book is out.
Here’s a sample of the letter we included in the back of her second book.
Keep in mind that, as I mentioned earlier, generally only 1% of consumers review books on Amazon. Using this letter helped to beat that average by a lot.
A Little-Known Amazon Tool
Did you know that you can respond to a review on Amazon? Using access to your Author Central account, you can now write a note thanking the reviewer, or, you can let the various reviewers know that you have another book out and ask them if they want a free copy for review. To gain access to your Author Central Page, go here and log in using your regular Amazon login: https://authorcentral.amazon.com
Once you’re inside, you’ll see this header. Click on Customer Reviews (see arrow):
If you click that button, it’ll take you to this page, where you’ll see a bunch of your reviews. Under each review, you’ll see “Add a comment”—this is where you want to click. That will let you respond to the reviews. It’s a great way to connect with your readers on Amazon!
Here’s a screenshot:
April 27, 2015
Getting international sales is always an important part of an author’s campaign but selling overseas can be tricky. The good news is: Amazon is everywhere. The bad news is that most of these author/book pages overseas are blank slates and populating them means either finding reviewers in these countries or finding reviewers who have accounts internationally. For the most part, I’ve only seen Amazon top reviewers have this kind of access. Though technically anyone can review internationally, most don’t.
I called Amazon a while back, well several times (which I’m sure they appreciated), as well as emailing them. My goal? To finally get these reviews we work so hard to populate our Amazon US pages with onto their international counterparts. Their response was: we can’t help with that. Which made absolutely no sense. Needless to say, this has been a high priority for me because frankly, it’s silly to have a page on the Amazon US site with hundreds of reviews only to see a naked page when you visit the UK Amazon, or Netherlands or Brazil or wherever.
Well today I have some great news! It seems that I wasn’t the only one asking about this and my guess is Amazon finally had to listen. They’ve started rolling out a beta test. Populating reviews from the US page onto all of their foreign sites. The screenshot shows one of my books on the Netherlands Amazon site. This feature is below any reviews you may have gotten from reviewers reviewing on that particular site. So Amazon.br, Amazon.fl, etc. Have a look (sorry, I know it’s small – if you click it it will enlarge):
The thing is that it’s rolling out incrementally by book, so when I checked my books they were all showing the US reviews but not all of the books we manage are. So keep an eye out on your books and see what pops up in these countries. And speaking of promoting yourself overseas, have you updated your international Author Central pages yet? If you haven’t, here’s how: http://www.amarketingexpert.com/amazon-hack-get-book-hands-international-audience/
Here are my book pages on Amazon, scroll down and you’ll see how the reviews populate there. Let me know if your books have this yet!
April 23, 2015
Don’t miss the chance to sign up for the new-and-improved Book Marketing Expert Newsletter!
Over at Author Marketing Experts, we’ve been working hard on revamping the newsletter, and we think you’ll love it. We’ve shortened it up while adding more quick tips, more opportunities for authors, and color!
If you haven’t opened an edition in a while, now’s the time to give us another shot! And if you’re not yet subscribed, be sure to sign up here!
April 23, 2015
Welcome to the fourth installment of our April “Social Media Series.” This week, we’ll focus on using images to market your books on social media. Here are my recommendations for the best places to find free stock images!
Twenty Places to Get Free Stock Images
- Free Range Stock Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: http://freerangestock.com/
- Morgue File Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: http://www.morguefile.com/
- StockSnap – Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: https://stocksnap.io/
- FreePhotosBank – Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: http://www.freephotosbank.com/
- FreeFoto – Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: http://www.freefoto.com/index.jsp
- Life of Pix – High-res images and videos for personal or commercial use: http://www.lifeofpix.com/
- New Old Stock – Some very cool vintage images, no known copyright restrictions: http://nos.twnsnd.co/
- Picography – Free high-res photos to use for business or personal: http://picography.co/
- Pickup Image Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: http://pickupimage.com/
- Snapographic Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: http://snapographic.com/
- Free images Free for personal or commercial use, no attribution required: http://www.freeimages.com/
- Super Famous Studios: Great Pictures, credit required: http://superfamous.com/
- PicJumbo High res images for personal or commercial use: http://picjumbo.com/
- Pexels – Images for personal or commercial use, no credit required: http://www.pexels.com/
- Little Visuals – 7 new pictures every week: http://littlevisuals.co/
- Unsplash – 10 free high res images every week: https://unsplash.com/
- IM Creator – Great site, attribution required: http://www.imcreator.com/
- FreePik – Only vector images, attribution required: http://www.freepik.com/
- Pattern Library – Super cool patterns, free to use: http://thepatternlibrary.com/
- Death to Stock Photo – monthly free photos in your inbox: http://deathtothestockphoto.com/
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April 22, 2015
Ask the Author is a very cool feature on Goodreads but are you using it the right way? Patrick Brown of Goodreads takes us through how best to use it for maximum impact and exposure! Check out this video on Penny’s YouTube channel!
April 21, 2015
Welcome to Tip #52, the final tip of our 52 Ways to Market Your Book! I hope you’re enjoying these tips and they are helping you sell more books. Want the complete book of tips? Get it here!
Getting top ranking on Google may seem like a lofty goal, but many authors we work with do achieve this. And while they may not come up on the #1 spot on Google, they can get pretty high. The secret, though, isn’t in “gaming” the system as many people like to think. In fact, Google is too smart for most black hat marketers. On average, Google changes their algorithms over 500 times a year. Why do they do this? Well, mostly to make sure that websites that are focused on content farming and other black hat SEO tactics don’t climb up the search engine ranking.
In 2011 Google implemented changes, which are now being referred to as the “Panda” update. What this did is go after content farms and the like, lowering their ranking by up to 90%. What are content farms? Sites that are focused on high volume, low-quality content. These sites often try and sell AdWords on their pages to game the system and make money that way. Google is always on the lookout for these types of sites and unfortunately during this update, bigger and respectable sites like Suite101 and EzineArticles got hit hard, too. If this story concerns you, and it should, keep in mind that you likely won’t become a site like Suite101 unless you are singularly focused on content aggregation.
If you’re ready to boost your site up in the search ranking, here are a few tips to help you do that:
- It’s not about you: Your website is not about you, it’s about your consumer or end-user. Google’s singular focus is to make sure websites are focused on the user. Make sure that your site is focused on your consumer/reader. What does that mean? It means that you need to take yourself out of the equation and really, really make sure your site is all about the people you are targeting.
- Links, Links, Links: You want to get links, but not just any links. You want links from high traffic, high quality sites. I’ve shared other articles on how to get these: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/how-to-help-google-find-y_b_515969.html
Going through these pieces will definitely help you.
- What’s on your SERP? What does SERP stand for? It means Search Engine Results Page, and if you’ve never looked at yours, you probably should. This is the page that shows content from your home page, generally the first three lines or so. If the first paragraph on your home page is just about you, and not about your reader, it will not only affect your ranking but your clickability as well, so again, keep this focused on the reader.
- Keywords and title tags: While many of us are focused on keywords, most of us ignore title tags. What are title tags? They are what your page name says at the very top of your search bar. You should be using keywords in this area, which will help with your search engine ranking.
- Site updates & ad space: I love our AME blog, and it’s really helped with our search engine ranking. Why? Because search engines love fresh content and every time you update your website, it tells the search engines that you’ve added new content. But one thing you won’t see on our blog are ads. Why? I don’t care for them, particularly on our site, and I don’t think they monetize enough for me to consider adding them. Also, too much ad content can lower your ranking in Google.
Getting a higher ranking in Google isn’t that hard, but it does take time. There is no such thing as overnight results or ranking and for sites who subscribe to this, they often find their site disappeared or was “sandboxed” by Google. The secret really isn’t a big secret, but basically it’s this: keep your site current and relevant. If you have a website that’s focused on your consumer, you update the site via your blog, and you spend time doing some helpful link building, I can almost guarantee you’ll see your website go from page 54 to page 1 – and wouldn’t that be great?
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