Articles tagged "Marketing Tips"

You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover. But….

We’ve all heard the old idiom, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” And that’s totally right — judging something based on a first glance often leads to false impressions and close-mindedness. However, covers, even in the age of eBooks, are still an incredibly important part of the browsing experience, and are often the first interaction a prospective reader has with a book. A cover should be artful, interesting, and represent some essence of the book. Often, it’s the only actual image a reader will receive to spark their imagining of the world of the novel.

But, sometimes, especially with first-time authors, or authors whose art is solely the written word, covers can bring you the wrong kind of attention. For instance, you don’t want to show up on Nathan Shumate’s Lousy Book Covers Tumblr. While his site has caught a lot of flack, and unfairly ridicules artistic endeavors, he does offer some wise words in a Huffington Post article for authors when it comes to book design:

“Print design is a mode of communication all its own, and there is at least as much study and experience involved in gaining a competence in design skills as there is to becoming a credible wordsmith…a book’s author is not automatically qualified to design her own cover.”

It’s true that there are tons of authors out there who are also insanely capable and skilled artists, but sometimes, we writers tend to overreach. We think, because we have just finished a book, why not just knock off the cover art right there? It’s best to take a step back and think about different artistic skill sets. The last thing an author wants to do is put off a potential reader because of an unattractive cover.

Like everything else an independent author does, getting a nice cover for your book is a mix of networking and savvy. One idea is to take the whole cover design project and to make it into a promotion for your book. Post a sample chapter of your book and ask readers to use it to come up with ideas for a cover. Have a design contest, with the winner getting a free copy of the book they helped design. It gets the word out about your book before it’s published and can help you reach out to readers and fans. Another option is to use one of Lulu’s Book Cover Design services. A great way to avoid the “lousy cover” trap is to put the job in the hands of a professional artist.

And even though they are important, don’t fret too hard over the cover. As prominent book cover artist Chip Kidd reminds us in an Esquire article titled How to Make People Buy Books: “There are so many factors that go into whether somebody buys a book — the jacket’s just one of them.”

And, to end on a high note, we have plenty of noteworthy examples of exemplary book covers by independent authors. You can peruse them in our Pinterest Indie Cover of the Day Album.

 

How To: Market a Self-Published Book

As an independent author, dozens of companies, sites and services will offer to show you how to market your self-published book – for one low fee, naturally. However, the reality is such: Provided you pick and choose your battles, and are smart about evaluating opportunity costs, doing so typically requires a greater investment of time than money.

Thanks to the rise of technology, online and social media tools, suddenly, anyone can advertise and promote their works affordably – meaning, for the most part, that you can tell coaches and consultants to take a hike. However, for those who do choose to go the DIY route, it also bears remembering: Even in the best of cases, from a promotional standpoint, due to the sheer volume of products, services and announcements competing for attention, you’re still screaming into a wind tunnel.

Happily though, with a little ingenuity and a good hook, you too can effectively market your works to the masses, potentially scoring high-profile placements and media mentions. Interested in getting started? We counsel keeping in mind the following hints, tips and advice.

Image is everything: People are visual creatures, and tend to accept what they see at first glance: From book covers to websites, social media profiles and business logos, everything needs to look top-notch, as it directly impacts perceived value. So if you have to cut costs anywhere, don’t let it be on presentation: If a picture says a thousand words, they should all be positive. Happily, professional-looking covers needn’t cost a fortune, crowdsourcing design sites can aid with affordable graphics and you can easily use off-the-shelf blogging solutions and plug-and-play visual templates to create high-quality websites.

Source advance quotes to build credibility: Ask recognized experts in your field, including thought leaders, well-known executives and other authors to read your manuscript and offer some endorsements (“Joe Smith’s work is a must-read!”) before even announcing the volume.

Author Success Story: The Walk-On by Matt Stewart

Matt Stewart knows what it feels like to be the underdog. As a freshman at Northwestern he walked on to the school’s football field and earned a position as the fifth-string free safety. But that didn’t deter him: through hard work and dedication he rose to second-string his sophomore year and in the process earned a full-ride scholarship. Stewart’s rise to success mirrored the team’s. In 1995, after 20-plus years of losing seasons, Northwestern’s footballers won 10 games as well as the Big Ten, and even played in the Rose Bowl.

Life changing for Stewart and his teammates, the school’s breakthrough season was a story he felt he had to tell, and after years of research based on his coach’s own book, the games Stewart’s mother taped, and the programs he saved, he finally finished. The Walk-On was released in May.

“I wrote this book to inspire others, to let them know that no matter what the odds, no matter what the obstacles, anything is possible as long as you work hard, believe in your abilities and approach your goals with a good attitude.”

From the get-go Stewart knew that publishing the book was only one of his goals. Making sure it got into the hands of the right readers was another—and to date his approach has worked. The Walk-On is sold on Lulu, Amazon, BN.com, the iBookstore and a number of brick-and-mortar stores. He secured indie placement by visiting the stores in person and asking them to consign his book — a deal that gives the retailer 40% of the profits and the author guaranteed shelf placement for at least three months.

How to Market Mysteries & Thrillers

Knowing who your targeting is half the battle when it comes to marketing. In 2010, a Sisters in Crime survey found that when it comes to mystery and thriller readers, 68% are women, 35% live in the south, 48% are suburban dwellers, and 26% are 65 or older. While this doesn’t mean you should target all of your efforts to 70-year-old women living in the outskirts of Atlanta, there is a point: know where to find your audience. This also means deciding whether your book falls under any of the sub-genre categories, which include: general mysteries, thrillers, police procedurals, and the like. Once you have a sense of who your reader is you should be able to identify the bloggers and publications you’ll want to reach out to.

That said, there are a number of general tips for marketing mysteries. Here are just a few:

Attend a Conference: More so than any other genre, mystery readers and writers have the chance to meet others at various meet-ups. From the large, annual Mystery Writers Conference to the smaller “Love is Murder” convention, find out what’s going on close to you and consider attending, exhibiting, or even applying for a panel. To cut costs, consider getting a group of local writers together to jointly sponsor a table. While there, don’t shy away from others; make connections and friendships that will improve your writing and your ability to promote.

Increase your social media presence: Whether it’s Twitter, Pinterest, blogging, or all of the above, it’s important you have a presence online. Readers want to connect with writers and all of these mediums are an easy (once you get the hang of ‘em) way to do so.

Lulu Author Discusses His Successful Marketing Tips

The Lulu community forums are a place for authors to ask questions, share experiences, and meet people with similar interests. Occasionally, a community forum member has expertise in a specific area or an author shares a success story that piques our interest. When this occurs, we invite the writer to contribute an article for the Lulu blog.

Following the announcement in the forums that his cookbook Beyond Soul Food: Modern American Heritage Cuisine was under consideration for an Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award for excellence, I asked the author to share some of his self-publishing experiences with the Lulu community. We hope you enjoy this author-to-author advice.

-Glenn, Lulu Community Forum Manager

How I Rediscovered Myself through Self-Publishing by Richard Petty

Writing a good cookbook can be a daunting endeavor, even for a seasoned pro. My name is Richard Petty. I am a successful chef and now the author of Beyond Soul Food: Modern American Heritage Cuisine, which was recently awarded an honorable mention as a finalist for the 2012 Eric Hoffer First Horizon Award for excellence in publishing. This recognition is a high distinction for first-time authors and publishers.

Like most people, writing a book was always a dream of mine. Since I was between jobs I had the time, but the challenge was how to do it. For my book, I chose some of my favorite recipes

Decoding Facebook Ads to Sell Books

From the Lulu Forums

Lulu is very grateful to have such an engaged and helpful community in our forums. There was a recent conversation about Facebook Advertising that we thought would be helpful to share with all of you on our blog. Below are some helpful tips from forum community member, Charles Conway.

Have you Considered Using Facebook to Sell Your Book?

With nearly a billion users from around the world, Facebook offers authors a fantastic opportunity to reach out to their potential readers in ways that are simply not possible through other media outlets.

Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!

Now that you’ve filled in your bio, personalized your page with a photo of yourself, uploaded a background, and have followed others or found followers of your own, what’s left to do?

Well as I mentioned in last week’s post (Tackling Twitter, Part 1), it’s important you maintain the relationships you’re building. This includes updating your own account on a regular basis, of course, as well as replying, retweeting and familiarizing yourself with the # sign, a.k.a. the hashtag.

What does that mean, though? Here’s a rundown:

Retweeting: It’s essentially a forward without commentary or, in dialogue form, “Hey, look at this interesting article / funny thought / smart observation I found.” Often I’ll pass along interesting pieces from The New York Times’ Twitter feed, blog posts from writers I follow, or even a 140-character sum up of how someone else is feeling because it’s how I feel that day, too.

Replying with the original tweet: I follow a bunch of writers who dish out some really good advice so often I’ll include their original tweet with my reply thanking them for the tip. This way other Tweeps I know can find the initial blog post / thought easily. So how do you reply like this, and what does it look like? Reply as you normally would, copy the original post after their username, put a “RT” before their @name, and then add your commentary before that. Here’s an example:

  • Original tweet from author @CathCrowley: The days of empty pages. Blog Post # 4 http://bit.ly/zPKvWC
  • My reply: Great advice for #writers who, like me, sometimes find it hard to start / keep going! RT @CathCrowley The days of empty pages. Blog post # 4 http://bit.ly/zPKvWC

Replying without the original tweet: Replying with the tweet usually indicates that the “conversation” has more of a broad appeal, but not all convos do. Recently I wondered if the Westminster judges accidentally picked a skunk instead of a dog as this year’s winner, which then kicked off a chat with a follower about her dog. Since our talk was more for us, and not for the general benefit of others, she didn’t include my tweet when she replied and so on and so forth. It went like this:

  • Original tweet: Does anyone else think that the #Westminster judges picked a long-haired skunk instead of a dog as the winner?
  • Reply tweet from a follower: I can’t judge #Westminster, I own a pup who bares similar Pepe Le Pew resemblance.
  • My reply: Your dog is AWWW-dorable and has normal dog hair/fur, not a mane, as yesterday’s winner does!

The #hashtag: This one is tricky, and it took me some time to get used to. It’s helpful to think of using the # sign to:

  • Become part of a larger conversation: Type #HungerGames into the twitter search bar, and you’re likely to find thousands of people talking about the books or the movies. Jump in on the conversation by writing your own thought about the #HungerGames and you never know who else you may connect to. Great twitter “trends” (what popular hashtag phrases are known as) for writers include: #amwriting; #writetips; #yalit; #yawednesday. There are tons of others though, so keep an eye out for what pertains to you.
  • Organize your tweets for followers: By tagging all of your posts as say #TheBakersDaughterTour, which I saw a fellow Tweep once do, her followers could easily find all of her tweets pertaining to her tour dates. It’s important the “trend” you’re creating be specific. Otherwise if you’re tweeting about the #Giants on game day a search will end up revealing all associated tweets, whether from you or not, and a follower will most likely just be overwhelmed.
  • Indicate a last observation: This is a particularly weird one and honestly pretty unimportant. Basically, though, sometimes people make a declaration on top of their initial observation. Wait, what are you talking about? It’s confusing so here are examples that are often supposed to be funny, with varying degrees of success:
  1. How is this day not over yet? #longestfridayever
  2. I promise never to wear bright green skinny jeans #noiwont
  3. I hate when I lost access to free articles on the NYT website #timesfail

I know it’s a lot to grasp, but deciding when to reply, retweet or use the # sign  becomes surprisingly instinctive after a while. Also if you fear you’ve not done it “right” there’s the nifty delete button, which lets you try again.

Above all else though, the #1 rule is to have fun, so get to it, Tweeps!

Other questions, tips or tricks for twitter?

 

Marketing your Book with “Buy Now” Buttons.

Keep your potential readers focused. Simplify book purchases by adding these free “Buy Now” buttons on your website or blog.

Reel in more readers with just four quick steps:

STEP 1: Log onto “My Lulu”

STEP 2: Click the star icon next to your published book

Buy Now Buttons

STEP 3: Choose the buy now button you like

Buy Now Buttons

STEP 4: Copy and paste the code to your website or blog

Buy Now Buttons

When your buyers click on these buttons, they will be taken to a Lulu shopping cart, which will include your book. It really is just that simple – so try it out today!

Take me to My Lulu.

Lulu University: Media Training Magic

Picture 10Are you ready for your close up? If you’re not sure then this class is for you. Before you spend valuable marketing dollars to get yourself on radio and TV, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re doing when it comes to media exposure.

This class will teach you what you need to know about media training. We’ll also share with you the media mistakes you never want to make.

Media Training Magic takes place August 9, 2010 at 7pm EST at a computer near you!

Lulu University: Think Outside The Bookstore Box

Book SigningBookstores got you down? Take heart. Did you know that only 35% of Americans get their books in bookstores? There are lots of things you can do to promote your book even if it isn’t in the bookstores. This class will cover the top 10 super savvy ways you can promote yourself without setting foot in a bookstore.

We’ll talk about all of the other places you can sell your book and we’ll also look at creative ways to do non-bookstore signings and events. Plus, we’ll discuss how to promote yourself by hosting your very own virtual tour.

10 Super Savvy Ways to Promote Your Book without Setting Foot in a Bookstore takes place July 12, 2010 at 7pm EST at a computer near you.