How to Effectively Use Social Media for Your Book

You know you need to do more on social media to promote your books. However, the whole idea overwhelms you. Maybe you are afraid of getting sucked into a black hole that you can’t escape. Maybe you just aren’t sure how to go about using social media to promote your books.

This social media infographic by Pardot.com showcases how in just 30 minutes a day, you can make the most of social media. The infographic includes six major social networks: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram. If you don’t want to use all six, that is fine. Learn how to rock social media in less than 30 minutes a day and more effectively promote your book.

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Spending Precious Marketing Dollars

Budget. Many people cringe at that word. It conjures up images of over-spending, not being allowed to purchase something they want, or just plain control. Money is always a loaded topic.

money

Most independently published authors and small publishers have precious few dollars to spend on marketing. A budget is a must for them to follow. Because of limited funds these authors and publishers don’t want to take risks on spending their money. They want to know upfront what the expected rate of return on their investment will be—a smart question indeed.

However, I would caution you to be wise in evaluating the answer as well. No one platform works for all books. The answer you may be given might be the return on the book that did the best. Or, it might be an average return rate. You still have no assurance that your book will fare as well.

Just because one author’s book sold like gangbusters from a Facebook ad, does not mean your will do equally well. Just because one author received 20 media interviews from a press release blast does not mean you will.

There are too many variables to determine how well your book will do on in any one venue. Your best course of action to plan how you will spend your precious marketing dollars is as follows:

1. Ask other authors in your specific genre with the same target audience what has worked for them.
Knowing what has worked for other authors writing to the same target audience is a good place to start. These authors are reaching the same group of people, so they can show you where the most success is likely.

2. Test and retest.
Don’t just try a venue once and give up. Test the platform and evaluate your results. Then make adjustments to your advertising campaign and test it again. If nothing changes, test a different venue. Testing is necessary to develop a successful marketing strategy.

Marketing is tricky. No true formula exists. Trial and error and making smart choices are your best bets. Don’t fall for services that charge high dollar amounts and predict huge results. Rarely do these pan out.

Your marketing dollars are precious, so be wise. Learn from those who have gone before, keeping in mind that each book is unique. Make informed decisions on spending your marketing dollars, evaluate each venue, and make adjustments as results come in. Of course, prayer helps too. The Spirit can lead you into all wisdom.

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Amazon is Not a Distributor

Last week I had the death flu. As I lay in my bed for four days in a cough-raked body in a fever-induced state of mind, I began to ponder the important questions. Questions like “When will ISIS be stopped?” and “How far will the Chinese economy fall and what impact will that have on economies around the World?” Then came the question, “Why do so many self-published authors think that Amazon is a distributor?” With that my brain said, “There’s a blog post,” and I knew I was on the road to recovery.

hand-out-books-t14745

Does Walmart buy books from Target to sell in their stores? Does Lifeway buy books from Family Christian to sell in their stores? Of course not. If one retailer bought product from another retailer, they would not make any money and would go under.

If you asked bookstore owners and managers who their biggest competitor is, many would say Amazon. That’s right. Amazon is a bookstore. It happens to be the largest bookstore in terms of sales in the United States. It is not a distributor.

Yet, so many independently-published authors seem to think that Amazon is a distributor. When I ask authors to list their distributor, many say Amazon. Why would a bookstore buy books from their largest competitor? That would simply help Amazon grow bigger and put the bookstore out of business.

Bookstores buy books from distributors, not their competition. Distributors sell books to bookstores at a discount, usually at 40 to 45 percent off the retail price. The bookstore then sells the book for the full retail price, keeping this 40 to 45 percent of retail price as their profit.

The larger distributors (and wholesalers) that bookstores buy books from are:

  • Ingram
  • Baker & Taylor
  • IPG
  • BookMasters
  • Spring Arbor (Christian bookstores)
  • STL (Christian bookstores)
  • Anchor Distributors (Christian bookstores)

There are also a myriad of smaller distributors around the country. Getting a bookstore to stock an independently published title is an uphill battle to start with. Unless your book is listed with a major distributor, you often don’t have a prayer of having bookstores stock your title.

Bookstores do not buy books from Amazon. Although, they will purchase the book directly from the publisher or author if a customer has asked the store to special order a book that is not listed in the bookstore’s distributor’s database.

So, if you are an independently published author and someone asks you who distributes your book, don’t say Amazon. That is where consumers buy books, not retailers.

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6 Marketing Hooks to Grab Your Audience

You may have heard the statistic that, on average, people are exposed to 5,000 marketing messages per day. That means that people typically see a marketing message every 11.52 seconds.

Risk fish

This figure appears a little high. On taking a closer look, experts are now saying that this 5,000 figure includes any branding exposures, not just ads and marketing messages. In other words, looking at food in your pantry was considered an exposure to a marketing message. If you looked in your pantry and it held 50 items with labels on them, the original study counted that as being exposed to 50 marketing messages.

So, instead, marketing experts decided to look at just ads. How many ads are people exposed to on a daily basis. It has been determined that, on average, people see 362 ads per day. However, your brain only notes about 153 of them. Of these 153, only 86 produce awareness in our brain, while only a mere 12 make an impression—hooking us to engage in some way.

If you are marketing a book, your ads and marketing messages often get lost in the clutter of messages your audience receives every day. To hook your audience, you must have interesting bait. Using hooks that tease and entice your audience to want to know more is the key to getting your marketing message to stand out from the pack.

Following are six “hooks” that you can use in your marketing messages to grab your audience’s attention and have them engage to learn more.

1. Use Numbers
Just like I did with this blog post, you can use numbers to get hook your audience. Starting your message with numbers like “5 Mistakes…” or “7 Tips…” will hook your readers’ attention.

2. Arouse Curiosity
Of course, each of your marketing messages should arouse curiosity, but you can use a specific phrase to really grab your audiences’ curiosity. Beginning your marketing message with “What if I told you?” is an effective curiosity enhancer.

3. Incite Fear
Fear can be a powerful motivator. If I know I can do something to avoid a negative circumstance, I will. Starting your marketing message with a word like “Warning” incites a fear response that hooks your reader.

4. Exploit Secrets
Letting your audience know they will get a behind the scenes look or information never revealed before is a powerful hook. Starting your marketing message with “Secrets of…” is a surefire way to engage your readers.

5. Use Superlatives
Anything that is the best or worst, longest or shortest, or highest or lowest, will grab readers’ attention because it is an extreme.

6. Employ New
We love new things. Using phrases like “New methods for…” and “New rules of…” engages your audience to want to learn more.

Crafting effective hooks takes some practice. Start with your social media posts to learn the art of using hooks. Every blog post, Tweet, Pin, or Facebook post is an opportunity to practice using hooks. If you want your marketing messages to stand out from the crowd of ads that people are exposed to every day, start using hooks that will grab attention.

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Book Cover Design Tools to Know

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This old cliché, while true, is not often practiced in everyday life. People do judge books by their covers. I know I do. God created us to be visual.

eyes

Think about these statistics:

  • In conversations, 55% of what is communicated is done through body language (visual), not words or tone or voice (auditory).
  • Facebook posts that have the most engagement contain photos.
  • Tweets on Twitter that receive the most retweets boast images.
  • 74% of people in the United States regularly use emoticons or emojis in their online communication.

Your book cover design is extremely important in the success of your book. Your cover is your most important marketing tool. It is what readers see first when they look at your book. Your cover can draw people in or turn them off.

For many independently published authors and small publishers, hiring a book cover designer is not in their budget. While having a professional design a book cover is one way to ensure that your book’s cover is appealing and engaging, a good book cover design can be created without a professional.

Amazon allows authors and publishers using their CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing programs to create free book covers. The good news is that if you want your ebook in more places than Kindle, or you are not using CreateSpace to produce your print book, there are other programs you can use to create free or inexpensive book covers. Two of these programs include:

  • Canva
    Canva is a free, browser-based design tool that offers templates in all sizes for social media and print media uses. They have a book cover maker that allows users to create a book cover for an ebook or a print book. With Canva’s book cover templates you have access to over 130 fonts and over one million stock images, or you can upload your own image.
  • Pressbooks
    Pressbooks is a book creation tool for ebook or print books. The service includes a cover creator for both ebook and print books. For print books, Pressbooks’ cover creation tool uses the number of pages and type of paper you want to calculate the correct spine width. All you need is a background image for the front cover. The service has fonts and background colors to choose from.

There are a few important things to keep in mind if you are creating your own book cover.

1. Make sure your title is clear and easy to read.
Your title should be able to be seen clearly across a room or in a one-inch-sized thumbnail sketch on your computer. The size, color, and font all matter.

2. Use a professional photo or illustration.
Your book’s cover helps you stand out from the competition. An engaging, colorful image is important.

3. Conform to industry standards.
Your book cover needs to look like other book covers in your genre, but still be different. In other words, if your cover looks odd or out-of-place, or lacks essential elements, it will scream self-published and readers will pass it by. Study your competition so you can create a book cover that sells.

A lot of independently published authors and small publishers use templates to design their book covers. Beware, though, that an overused template will also keep you from standing out in a crowd. If you choose to use a template, be sure to customize your book’s cover for your message and audience.

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