Friday, September 25, 2015

How to: Effectively Advertise Your Book

Guest Author: Elaine White
This article is by Elaine White. All opinions are her own.
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So, you have your book written, submitted and signed to a publisher. That's all you need, right? At least, until it gets published. Wrong! Dead wrong!

Once you've been accepted to a publisher, and BEFORE, that's when the real work starts. It's okay if you're a careful person and you don't want to advertise yourself as an author until you have that first book published. It's okay if you've never let anyone else read your writing, until you submitted to a publisher for the first time.

But now that you're ready to release a book, you need to start putting yourself out there and building your brand. At first, you'll be all over the place, not sure how to label yourself, not sure what your 'theme' or 'style' will be. That's okay, too. You'll figure it out along the way. We all do.

No matter how many times you've been knocked back before, you've made it now. Take a minute, take a deep breath and a sigh of relief. Now, get to work.

First off, you NEED an author page on Facebook. This is non-negotiable. I know, you might think that you're way better acquainted with Twitter or Google+, but Facebook is one of those invaluable resources for authors. If you're not on it, you're missing out.

Before we get started on what to do, let's look at how to do it best. For that, you'll need to read our other post 'Author Legalese'. Knowing the legal ins and outs of how to promote yourself is VITAL. Trust me, I've seen many, many authors ignore and even publicly violate the rules about using Celebrities to promote your work (a big DON'T) and ignoring the fact that having a unique backdrop/logo or model to promote your work can be what puts you on the map. (Done legally, this is a major DO.)

Now that you're read that, let's get onto the fun part. How to do it.

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Keep your Facebook page exciting. You can use Facebook's scheduling feature to make sure that there's always something posting on your page, whether you're going to be online or not. I generally schedule months ahead, so that I don't have to worry about it for a while. I will add updates, when someone exciting/important happens, but I keep a note of when my 'scheduled' posts run out and spend 1 day preparing a few more months of coverage.

Another thing you'll need is a profile picture. You can use a picture of yourself, as it's your page, but make it professional. Don't use a holiday snap, a personal family photo or something you shot in bad lighting in your house. It doesn't look professional. You don't have to get paid photographs taken, though that's a bonus that's well worth the money. You can take a decent author photo at home, with your camera or phone, as long as you don't have personal things in the background and the quality is good. Something simple will work just fine.

Also, you'll need a cover photo. There are some great options available on Facebook, with these apps. These are fine, if you want to do something generic, but it's better if you can make it personal to you, your brand and your books. Still, here are the ones on Facebook:

Top Cover Photos

Cover Photos

Profile Cover Photos

Facebook Cover Photos

If you want to make something personal to you (Highly Recommended!) then try using one of these sites, that are really easy to use and you can personalise them with your own photos. You might need to use some of the sites/methods explained below (in the Teaser Poster section).

PageModo

Pixteller

PicMonkey

The Pixteller link will take you straight to the Facebook Cover page, as will PageModo. However, on PicMonkey, if you hover over 'design' then it will show options for blank pages and one is Facebook Cover. You want that, because it's specifically designed to the right height and width.

Go have fun. Explore. Try out looks, effects, fonts and designs. Then, once you have one you like, make it your Facebook Cover photo. I change mine every few months, depending on what's going on in my life and writing world. Sometimes, if there's a really big event that relates to my writing, then I'll make a special banner. If I have a new release, I might change my banner to reflect that and build anticipation. Mostly, I keep a general one. Here's an example of my most recent one:


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You'll need a kick-ass cover, but unless you're self-publishing, then your publisher should have a cover artist/designer who will deal with this. But, fear not. If you're doing this all by yourself, then here's a few awesome cover artists that do beautiful, one-of-a-kind covers at reasonable prices:











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So, you have your cover, now you need to read through your entire book and pick out AT LEAST 15-20 quotes. Why? Because you need to make book teasers. Why do you need so many? Because you need them for Tuesday Teasers on your Facebook Author page, you need them for your release party and you need them for advertising, once your book is released. You can keep using the same teaser for a while, but you really want a change. The more you have to choose from, the more you can rotate them and use them for longer. If you use each teaser once, in turn, then you can go back and start from the beginning and use them 4-5 times, without people getting bored. Plus, the more teasers you use as advertising, the more sneak peeks into the book you're giving and the more people will read parts of the book that will make them want to buy it.

Making a teaser is simple, once you know how.

First off, where do you find an image? Well, here are a bunch of websites where you can find great images for free, that are totally legal to use on your teaser posters:






Pixteller

Here are some examples of images found on these sites:


And here are some stock sites, if you want to buy your images. Some, like iStock and Fotolia even take PayPal which is awesome:





Dollar Photo Club

Here's an example of some bought photos from Fotolia and Shutterstock:


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To make your poster, choose one of these sites, to manipulate your picture with effects, font and layers, to make it more individual:






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You can use the same techniques and websites mentioned above to make an author logo. This is a great alternative, if you don't want to use a personal picture as your Facebook profile pic. Something snazzy, cutesy, sexy or just simple. It's all up to you and your brand. Here's mine:


Why is it so big, when you only need a square? Because I can use it as a poster or crop it to suit my needs. Sometimes I keep the 'Elaine White, Author' part and sometimes I cut it out. It all depends.

I've also made logo's for each of my books. You can put it on every poster or just a few, but it brands your book, posters and makes the poster instantly recognisable.:



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Then you're ready to share! When sharing your poster in a Facebook group, you want to give people the most information, in the fewest words possible. People don't want to spend forever reading a really long excerpt that's in paragraph form, but they are more likely to read a longer extract on a poster, if it's well presented, easy to read and pretty.

So, add your text to your poster, play around with the look and then add something like this to the text part of the comment:

Tags
Book Title, by Author Name
Tagline
Buy Link / Coming Soon
from Publisher (optional)

That's all you'll need to get your point across. It's simple, looks good and depending on the length of your link, title or tagline, it should fit on Twitter too. For tags, try things related to your book, plus use #TeaserTuesday, #SharingSunday, #SexySunday or #TBT (Throwback Thursday, which is best for older books)

Example:

#TeaserTuesday #Contemporary #Romance #SimplySexyReads

Courage in the Kiss, by Elaine White
Just how much can one girl take?


Coming Soon from Simply Sexy Reads


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Where to share it? Try Hootsuite, which can link up your Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and more to one account. It's free and it will allow you to post the same message to all sites or arrange where you want to share it and when. You can schedule for months ahead, as well as shorten links, with their button, and add posters.

Other than Hootsuite, these are your options for shortening your buy link, which can come in really handy, especially for long Amazon links :

Authl.it

SmartURL

Bitly

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Now that you have that sorted, you're ready to roll with making more posters. What comes next? Well, you'll need to keep blasting that book until release.

Another way to share your work is with Thunderclap. This is really big right now, but it's tricky. You might not get it right the first time around. I didn't.

Basically, what you do is you set up a page for your book, with the buy link (a general Amazon page, if you have an existing one, or link to your FB, Twitter or website. Wherever you'll be posting the buy link, as soon as the book is live.) You'll also need a photo, but Thunderclap images are different from FB, you might have to play around with a few options, until you get it right. This is the size it will need to be. Keep it simple - like your FB cover or a teaser poster.

If you're super techie, unlike me, this is the photo requirements - 600 x 280px

If not, play around and you'll get there eventually. ;)

What is Thunderclap? Well, once you've made your page, you'll have a goal of reaching 100 supporters. You set the time and, if it's your first go, I recommend giving yourself around a month. It can be tricky to get supporters, if you don't know where to look. Which, you will, because I'm going to tell you.

Stick to the 100 and don't get over ambitious. 100 supporters is also free. How do you get those supporters? You ask for them. You'll get a link, as soon as your Thunderclap is approved and you can share that on FB, Twitter and any other site you want to. There are also groups in Facebook that are specifically for sharing your link and supporting others, who will then support you.

ThunderClap Campaigns is a closed group, but the support is awesome.

Want to know more? Check out their FAQ's.

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Now, you're on your way. About a month before your release, either you or your publisher will post your book on Goodreads. This is super easy, if you have to do it yourself. Search for your book title and in the search results, top right corner, you'll see 'Manually Add Book'. That's what you want. You can't see it unless you search first, so this is a must.

Here, you can add your book cover, title, author name etc. Make sure you use the right name! If you already exist on Goodreads, in their author program, then you want to make sure the book is added to your profile and not someone else's. Mine, on Goodreads, has two spaces between my first and last name, because there's already someone with the name Elaine White. So to make sure my book appears on my profile, I have to put those two spaces in, when I create my book page.

If yo're adding a book to an existing series, then this gets a little bit complicated. Somehow, with one of my books, I managed it without really knowing how. But, the protocol is to create your book page first, then go into the first book in the series, click the series link (generally at the side of the title, where it says Series Name One). There, all the previous books in the series will appear and there will be a small 'edit' at the top left hand corner. Click that and you should be able to add your new book to the series.

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Another great thing to have is a book trailer. These are really easy to make, again, if you know how. You should have Windows Movie Maker on your computer/laptop and this can be a really great, cheap, easy option to use. All you have to do is add photos and music. You can use the free or paid options for book teaser pictures, to get images, and use the same websites (pixteller, picmonkey etc) to add text, if you don't want to use the Movie Maker's caption option.

Sometimes adding the text to your image can be easier and you can use different fonts and directions. Just do this the way you do teaser posters and then add the poster/text and picture to your video the way you'd add a normal image.

Music is added the same way. Please, for goodness sake, DO NOT choose any old music from your iTunes or online. Music legality is the same as images. You can only use music that is available for legal use. DO NOT use your favourite band or any Top 40, popular music or anything that you've downloaded for iTunes, even if you paid for it. ONLY use music that can be used for commercial use.

To find valid music, try these sites and always read the legal usage rights, in case any of them have changed since writing this:

Incompetech

LinoRise

Partners in Rhyme

Free Video Footage

Taylor Hayward

Royalty Free Music

Marmoset Music

YouTube Audio Library

Always remember to add the name of the song and artist to your Credits, as well as making clear where you got your images (bought or free) and add a website link, if you're still not sure about how well you've credited things.

Book Trailers are great for adding to websites, sharing on Facebook and linking to your book on Goodreads. There are so many applications and it's always a great selling point. You can use quotes from your book in the trailer, or just tell the story in a mysterious, intriguing way that will make people want to read your book.

It's also an alternative to long passages, in the same way your teaser posters are. People will sit and watch a video, more often than they will sit and read a passage that is almost 6 paragraphs long. It looks daunting, while a video of less than 2 mins tends to make people think. "Oh, this won't take long. let's see what it's like." Even if your passage will take the same amount of time, visual stimulation is a powerful tool for authors, so use it every time you can.

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Next? Swag. Swag is so important. You'll need it for giveaways, your release party and any random competition you do throughout your career. Have some stuff that is just general. So if you're a romance author, have some sexy/romance stuff. If you write a book about a rock star, having some guitar/singer/rock related items. Have an equal amount of general and book specific items. That way, if a last minute event crops up or someone wins a prize, you've always got something kicking around. I keep a box of jewellery, bookmarks, business cards, pens etc always hanging around, in case I need them. Oh, and have a few personalised things. Put your book cover or logo on pens/bookmarks etc and people will love them!

Good places to buy these things are:

Amazon

Etsy

Zazzle

Vistaprint

Overnight Prints

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What's next? Well, with your book published, all your promo taken care of and your book live on Amazon and Goodreads, you're ready to rake in those reviews. The first key to getting reviews is to give copies away for free. Yes, Free! I know it seems counter-productive, since the entire point is to sell more books. But, reviews sell books.

The more reviews you have, the more people will see and notice your book. Ergo, the more books you sell. The best way to utilise this process is to get coverage on Book Blogs and Review Blogs. If you do that, you'll get your book noticed by all the readers on those blogs.

Not sure where to start? Try this book blogs:

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Here are some review blogs that are generally great for accepting all genres and responding quickly:
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Looking for more Author Resources? Check out my blog for:

How to Make A 3D Cover

Places to Buy Swag

Places to Find Images

Where to Find Music

Where to Find Videos

How to Fake a Facebook Profile for Your Character

How to Make Wattpad Work For You

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