Articles tagged "readers"

Email Marketing for Authors

8 min read

Lulu, Self-publishing, Email, Marketing

How many emails do you think you get a day? Dozens? Hundreds? Looking at your inbox can be overwhelming. Despite the sheer volume of emails sent a day, using email to reach customers is a tried and true means to connect and make more sales.

The “noise” of social media can make it hard to appreciate, but there are nearly three times as many email accounts active as Facebook and Twitter accounts combined. An email will continue to be the most important way you connect with your readers and convert potential readers into customers. Now, before we get into the nuts and bolts of email marketing, remember that no one strategy is perfect or the only answer. Even if you finish this article and have a new urge to emphasize email marketing, you cannot eschew other marketing efforts. Social media might reach fewer users individually, but the exposure from social media means you still have to engage with your audience on platforms like Facebook.

Email has a very specific and potent use in your marketing scheme: email is where you can make a personal case for your book, where you can “get in the door” and get an individual’s attention, even if it’s only for a matter of seconds.

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Keywords: Get your Self-Published Book noticed

2 min read

Marketing your book is tricky business. Here at Lulu, we appreciate that many of our authors are not marketing experts, but still would like to amplify their sales. The Internet makes it easy to list your book and for readers to perform searches among the many books out there. The trick for authors is to make their book stand out from all the noise, to distinguish itself so that readers can find your book when they search.

How do potential readers find content?

Almost all content online is found through searches. Authors must align their book with the common search terms a reader might use. To do this, you’ll need to use ‘Keywords.’

Keywords are search terms users will type into a search engine (like Google) to find something. A reader might want a book about healthy eating for women over forty, so they would search something like:

“books, healthy diet, women over forty”

The resulting search will be thousands of books that have utilized these keywords.

Now you’ll have to decide which keywords to use for your book. This can be a challenge, but we can recommend a three part strategy to help narrow down the keyword options. First, sit down and write out as many words as you can think of associated with your book. At this stage, anything that comes to mind if fine.

With this list completed, the second step will be going on some retail sites and book review sites (like Goodreads) and search reviews for books similar to yours. Look at the words readers are using to describe these books and make a list.

In the third step, ask your beta readers (or if your book is already published, any reader) for their list of words they would use to describe your book, and/or any terms they might have searched if they were in the market for a book similar to yours.

Any words that fall on all of these lists will of course be good to use. Create a refined list with all the words that span the three lists, as well as any other words you think might be highly valued for your readers. This last part will take a bit of guess work and intuition on your part. It’s not an exact science, but aim for quantity over quality.

With your keyword list in hand, what you’ll want to do is integrate the keywords into your blurb/synopsis. Readers will perform searches, and because your keywords were thoughtfully chosen and added to you book description, they’ll find your listing coming up in the search results, ultimately leading to a sale. Apart from using the right keywords to draw in readers, you’ll also need to craft a compelling blurb. Weave in the keywords as they make sense, and if need be write new material to incorporate keywords you deem too valuable to exclude. Check out this post for some advice on synopsis writing for self-published authors – Writing your blurb/synopsis

Conscientious and careful application of keywords can do wonders to boost the discoverability of your book. Help your readers, grow your sales, and enjoy the success a little bit of market research and keyword application can bring!

 

Proofreading: What Makes a Great Reader?

2 min read

Taking an idea and turning it into a written work is no easy task. The process is long, arduous, and riddled with interconnected steps. It can be easy to overlook proofreading. You’ve written a book after all! The excitement to get it into print and out there for the world to see is tremendous.

But don’t put the cart before the chicken!

Or something like that. Anyway, don’t get ahead of yourself.

Its vital that you get some eyes on your work before you publish. Proofreaders serve a variety of critical purposes:

  1. Spelling and gramatical errors
    This one might seem obvious, but you shouldn’t let anything go without notice. Get as many trusted readers as you can to give feedback regarding spelling, grammar, word choice, and syntax.
  2. Plot, pacing, and organizational feedback
    A topic or story you’re passionate about might hold your interest indefinitely, but if the pace is crawling, the plot languishing, or the content organized in a counter-intuitive way, readers are not encouraged to stick with the book.
  3. Overall opinions about the work
    Presumably, you had a goal in mind when you started the book. An endpoint for your characters. A piece of information you want to convey to readers. A bit of historical data you want to commit to writing. Whatever the content’s purpose, you need a holistic opinion about how what you’ve created works as a book.

With the above roles in mind, you’ll want to seek out individuals you can trust to give honest opinions. I cannot stress enough how important diversity is here. As an example, my ideal proofreading group would include:

  • 2 or 3 people familiar with you and your writing
  • 2 or 3 people unfamiliar with your writing (friend of a friend, member of a local writing group, etc.)
  • Someone with a strong editorial and/or publishing background (this might require paying someone)

Local writing groups are a great place to start. You’ll find like minded writers, and in most cases eager proofreaders. Family and friends work too, though there is a good chance they’ll be more supportive and less critical than you need. But you should absolutely get the opinions of BOTH. You need a variety of voices, with all the associated motivations, to truly get the most from your book.

There’s a few specific attributes to look for in your proofreader:

  1. Patience
    Reading a rough draft, no matter how well written, is a lot of work. Your proofreader needs to have the patience to stick with your work from start to finish, without wavering or losing interest.
  2. Avid reader
    It is not necessary, but is quite beneficial, if your proofreader is familiar with the type of writing your are doing. If you’ve written a fictional tale, you might not want to engage someone who primarily reads non-fiction to proofread.
  3. Thorough
    Alongside patience, your ideal proofreader will be thorough and detail oriented. Someone who always seeings a thing through to the end, and puts in the same effort from start to finish. Proofreading a book is no easy task, and your proofreader is going to be a critical player in helping you  create a book readers will want to pick up.

Proofreaders are crucial to perfecting your manuscript prior to publishing. Don’t overlook the value of unbiased observes.

 

Lulu Joins Durham’s Inaugural Read Local Book Festival

2 min read

Lulu Read Local Table

There’s nothing more refreshing than seeing readers, writers, and publishers come together to celebrate their love of all things books. It’s even better when they’re doing it to support a great cause. A few weekends ago, that’s exactly what happened.

In this case, the event was the inaugural Read Local Book Festival in downtown Durham, North Carolina, and the cause was raising money for the Durham Library Foundation. And since it was in our own backyard, we here at Lulu couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get involved and show our support.

Lulu author Jon Batson

Long-time Lulu author Jon Batson with lots of books on display.

The result was an undeniable success! Over one hundred local authors, both established and up-and-coming, turned out for the event. They showcased their work and participated in panels, talking and answering questions about writing and publishing. Thousands of readers showed up to walk the tables and find their favorite authors, as well as discover a few new ones.

Small publishers and independent bookstores were on hand to display the best new books they had to offer. There were even literacy-based volunteer organizations to help spread the message of the weekend. There was something for everyone, no matter how you were involved in the publishing industry.

Oh, and there were some favorites in local food and drink there to keep everyone well-fed, too.

Lulu author Rachel Pollock

UNC professor Rachel Pollock writes about restoring antique parasols.

Lulu was lucky enough to be right in the middle of it at the Exhibitor Fair, with our very own Jennifer and Gannon in attendance manning the Lulu table and mingling with the crowd. They were happy to see some familiar faces, like Jon Batson and Rachel Pollock. They met up with a number of authors who have used Lulu to create, publish, and sell their books. From popular fiction to niche hobbies, the breadth of content that’s available from Lulu authors was well represented.

On top of that, they were able to introduce a handful of people to Lulu; whether it was an aspiring author looking to publish a book, a reader wanting to find a great new independent writer, or a publisher trying to manage and print their entire catalog, next year’s festival is sure to have even more support from the Lulu crowd.

After three days and thousands of people coming together, the community managed to raise over $20,000 in support of the Durham Library Foundation. Lulu was proud to support the Read Local Book Festival, and we hope that this was only the first of many to come!

Social media for book lovers

2 min read

Social networking meets your reading addiction.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent profile of Goodreads, a super popular book-centric social media platform. The site launched in 2006, and as the Times notes, has over the last 7 years become “the largest source of independent reviews on the Web, with 21 million and counting.” Like all successful social media sites, its popularity springs from the relationships and communities it fosters, and if this article is any indication, these ties are booming.

I was also happy to note that the piece paid special attention to Goodreads’ relationship to independent publishing. It notes the wild success of “Wool,” a series self-published sci-fi books by Hugh Howey that received serious attention after being featured by one of Goodreads’ most popular book clubs (later it mentions that Howey’s series was optioned by 20th Century Fox!).

The Times attributes the particular advertising power of sites like Goodreads to the “membership model.” In short, recommendations or reviews written by friends (be they online or off) tend to be more effective motivators because they’re understood to be trustworthy and personal. Could literature-focused social media platforms provide the non-traditional advertising avenue self-publishing authors need to break through to a wide audience?

Though the Readmill’s iPad app has been around for a while, in early February the company launched an (even more mobile) app for the iPhone. Readmill is a digital reading platform with a built-in social media interface. One part digital marketplace, one part bookworm Facebook, the application – now available for both iPhones and iPads – allows users to purchase eBooks from vendors online and read them via a slick, minimalist interface on their mobile devices. It also lets readers share favorite quotes, track reading stats, and get recommendations from friends and followers.

Competitor apps like Wattpad and BookShout point to a growing market (and hopefully a growing demand). We’ll see if apps like this catch the public interest, but I think they could provide excellent opportunities for self-publishers trying to get the word out as well as serious readers looking for their next page-turner.

Are you a part of any of these book-centric social media platforms?  What has been your experience?

What to Read?

1 min read

Finding recommendations for independently published books can be difficult. Over at The Guardian, Dan Holloway explains:

“As a reader, I believe life is too short: if I want a great thriller, there’s enough Mark Billingham and Tami Hoag to work through. If I choose to read self-published books it’s because I want something different.”

Holloway also outlines resources for finding well-reviewed self-published books. There’s the Indie eBook Review, which reviews recent self-published books, as well as IndieReader, which does an incredible job writing thoughtful reviews of some really interesting self-published books. All in all, Holloway paints a portrait of a burgeoning literary culture surrounding independently published books, one that’s sure to grow as self-publishing becomes the dominant force in the literary marketplace. As a writer, it’s incredibly important to keep track of who is writing reviews and what kinds of books garner attention, especially if you want your title to find a large audience.

Another great resource is Booklamp.org, the “home of the Book Genome Project. Similar to how Pandora.com matches music lovers to new music, BookLamp helps you find books through a computer-based analysis of written DNA.”

A great way to make sure your own book gets reviewed is to look into some of Lulu’s reviewing services, including options to have your book reviewed by Kirkus or Clarion reviews.

So, where do you find help selecting books to read? What websites or book reviews are helpful? Do you think self-published books are getting the right amount of respect from reviewers? Have you ever reviewed someone else’s book online? Let us know!

Additional Reading:

Hiptype: Analytics for eBooks

2 min read

I run a website, which means I constantly check Google Analytics to see which stories are being read and how readers are reaching my site. It’s an incredibly useful tool that helps me figure out my audience, what my readers enjoy, and when best to post certain pieces. This type of real-time analytics has been revolutionary for websites, letting media groups find out whether their tweets are making a difference, whether their “tags” are working, and if their highfaluting SEO strategy is working.

Of course, as an author, this might all be gibberish. That is about to change. Hiptype, a young start-up, is looking to bring the wonder of analytics to eBooks. While it’s still in Beta and not yet available to all publishing companies, Hiptype represents a new, inevitable approach to gauging the eBook market. By noting when readers make a comment on a section, or share an excerpt, authors and publishers can see what interests and excites readers.

This leads to some interesting dilemmas and the question of privacy on the internet. Many publishers, authors and marketers would like to use this technology to learn more about their readers. There are two ways to look at it: as an invasion of privacy or as a research tool designed to deliver you the most relevant content. Your internet-surfing experience can be tailored to you based on what your browser knows about you (what words you search, what websites you visit, etc.). With this information, advertisers can target specific ads to you based on your interests. For avid readers, this can mean that when you go searching for eBooks, the eBookstore will recommend books that people similar to you have enjoyed.

Likewise, authors and publishers can use this information to target a specific audience with an eBook and to improve marketing efforts. You can also use the information about your primary audience to create more relevant content for them. For instance, let’s say that you discover that your books are very popular with veterans. With this knowledge you may decide to include a character in your next book who is a veteran.

This is just another avenue of creative possibilities that has been opened by the internet. We imagine that this type of analytic eBook information will become ubiquitous in the coming years.

As writers, how will you use this information? Will you tailor your books to your audience? Are you interested in knowing who reads your books?

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