This Gang is just…AWESOME!

I love it when one of my favorite author sites features me as the author of the day.  If you’re an indie (like me) or a traditionally published author then check out AwesomeGang for promotions and their features.  They’re really an incredible site devoted to promoting all authors (and most of the authors help promote other authors and give such generous advice).  It’s really amazing and here’s their website link Awesome Gang and you can find them on Facebook and Twitter and even on Pinterest!

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Marketing strategies should match your real goals as an indie author.

indie Scale & Balance_001

I feel guilty every time I log onto Facebook.  Another author I know is constantly posting to pages – all sorts of pages – and I get notified every time it happens.  It makes me feel inefficient.  I might post a couple times a week – to a select few sites – and 90% of the time, I’m just commenting on something instead of posting about my books.  It’s the same on Twitter.  My blog posts are generally related to being an indie author because posting about my books usually doesn’t occur to me.  Obviously, the other author and I have different goals.

As an indie, not only do I write books, I have to coordinate the cover design (or do it myself), editor, formatting, and promotion of my work.  If that isn’t enough of a to-do list, I have to maintain my online presence on my blog(s), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon (including the international sites).  I’m pulled in ninety directions just to launch my book.   BOOK – as in singular product.

Yes, it would be great to launch one book and have it succeed beyond my wildest expectations – but how much better would it be to have three or four books which were earning money?   What about nine or ten?

That’s my real issue as an indie author.  Do I want to launch one book – investing all of my time and profits in that singular work (because I can advertise it all over the place for a fee), or do I keep my focus on writing my next book?  I choose option B – because my goal is to write many books.  I don’t even want to write just one series.  I want to write and market in the most efficient way possible for me.  It needs to be a way that meets my goals as an indie.

So what makes a marketing strategy effective for me?

It has to be quick.  I’m not interested in posting to fifteen sites every day because on a good day, I only have an hour or two of solid writing time.  If I’m marketing for five or ten hours a week, I have no time to write the next book.  If I had more time to market, I might…but it’s equally possible that I would just devote that time to writing more.

It has to be fun.  As an indie, I have a wonderful opportunity to create the career I want without having to conform to the conventions that make traditional work…well, work.  Feeling like I have to do something sucks all of the joy out of it and then I just avoid the task.

It has to be low-cost or even free.  At this point, I’m just not interested in spending all of my profit on marketing.   I’d much rather spend it on cover design (which might be marketing in some people’s eyes) or another service that frees me up so I can write more.  What brings in money is book sales – and I’ve noticed that the thing that boosts sales is running a promotion – free or 99 cents – and letting other people do the marketing for me.  I’m amazed every time I do a free or 99 cent promotion and find out I have more mentions on Twitter…it’s free marketing!

Indie authors need to decide what their goal is.  Mine is to spend as much time as possible writing books.  I love the process.  I love the quiet escape writing provides.  I love being able to do it around the rest of my life.  I also want to publish two books a year.  If I don’t keep that goal in mind, then I start to feel the pressure to market, market, market – and if I’m doing that, then I’m not going to meet my real goal.

As to the frequent posting of books some other authors do, I’m sure it’s fun for them and they have the time to devote to it.  The challenge for me has been to create what I want, in a way it works for me, and without comparing myself to other authors who have different objectives.  By keeping my goals in mind, I’m maintaining focus so I can achieve my aim without feeling that I should be doing something that takes me away from the thing I love doing.

10 New Strategies over 10 weeks for 10 minutes per day – Marketing my new book release.

LM Image 2E with TextI’ve decided to try 10 new book marketing strategies over the next 10 weeks.  My catch is that they can’t take more than 10 minutes per day.

After I click “publish” and sit back to watch my book soar to number one (which, by the way, is overly optimistic) – I’m left with a frantic feeling that I should be doing something to push sales along.  Well, something other than obsessively checking my amazon rankings and email.  One thing indie-authorhood has taught me is that those weeks following a release are filled with angst and self-doubt instead of optimism and joy.  The reason is this:  Once the first wave of books purchased by my fans is over, those all-important rankings begin to dip lower and I feel a crushing pressure to share, sale, tweet, tweak, link and post – all things I really, really, really don’t want to do – partly because they’re boring and time consuming and partly because shameless self-promotion feels icky.

But shameless self-promotion is sometimes required, so I give in to the urge to engage in it with abandon. For two weeks. Then it’s back to business. Since promotion seems to take so much time from the main task (which is writing – in case you’ve forgotten), I have started to condense the marketing tasks into smaller chunks that feel more manageable. The first thing I’m doing is writing a short story which will be included in an anthology of works by other indie authors. That’s a task that’s way more than 10 minutes per day, so I’ve had to choose this weeks marketing strategy based on how much “extra” time I have left.

The winner this week was this: Change my categories on Amazon to get new readers.

That took about 10 minutes to research what categories other books similar to mine are listed under and maybe two extra minutes to go in and change the categories on my own books to match those. If I were not such an avid reader in my genre, I might not have known which categories to select – but since I read so much, it was a pretty easy task. For the next two weeks, the first book in my series will be listed under humor as well as contemporary fiction. At the end of the two weeks, I can decide if I want to move it back to just fantasy (debatable, since my books are funny – just read the reviews!). Ten minutes might net me a whole new group of readers – we’ll see!

Marketing Plan – Step 2

Once you have all of your links listed in one convenient location, you need to figure out where to put those links. That is the challenge because you need to get noticed somewhere or you’ve just wasted all of your hard work.

I’ll admit, I absolutely DREAD marketing my books. I can spend hours online, posting all over the place and sometimes I feel like I accomplished nothing. It’s frustrating! Now, my whole focus is on marketing in short bursts to keep my name/work in people’s minds…but not just posting “buy my book” links all over the place. Personally, I rarely buy books from those links that are all over facebook – but I do buy books from people who have something to say which amuses me or strikes a chord in me.

Although I’d love to build a reader base by simply making pithy comments on facebook and twitter, I know as an author I have to plug my book and post those annoying “buy my book” links sometimes. In order to make myself feel less narcissistic, I try to post free giveaways and sales instead of random ads. I don’t think I’m losing money by doing that – I think I’m exposing new readers to my work. Here’s a list of site’s I’ve advertised on recently:

ebooklister
bookgoodies.com
Indiebookoftheday.com
fkbooksandtips.com
freebooksy.com
frugal-freebies.com
thereadercafe.com
itswritenow.com
http://communitybookstop.blogspot.com
ebooklister
Orangeberry Free Me
ebookshabit
ignite your book
The Book Preview Club
Pixel of Ink
list my ebook
Kindle Book Deals
Indie Author Land
One of my favorite sites is http://awesomegang.com and I’m on there frequently – doing way more than just pushing my books. More on that in Part 3 of my “marketing special”.

There’s an awesome tool on http://www.authormarketingclub.com/ where you can just click the logos and list your books. There are also tons of places on Facebook to list your book promos. In fact, there are too many to mention because every day I find new sites. I do want to give a shout out to two of my facebook favorites, though: http://www.facebook.com/NerdGirl.NG and mad about books http://www.facebook.com/Madaboutbooks. These two sites have been awesome to me, and they have a fan for life. Stop on by their pages and give them a wave from me – these people work hard to keep their content fresh and their sites inviting and they have welcomed this indie into the fold.

Free Promotion increases sales?

I just finished a two day free promo of Elementary Magic and noticed an odd trend.  During a free promo, sales of my other titles increase as well.  This is not the first time this has happened, so I don’t think it’s a fluke.  Maybe the increased visibility brings new readers? 

The real jump usually happens about a week or so after a free promo.  I’ll report back on that later. 

How to build the initial marketing plan for your book

Last week, I promised to post my marketing strategies in the hopes that other indie authors would find them useful.  I’m still analyzing which were most helpful, but this will give you an outline about how to set things up so you’re not hunting around when you’re posting. 

I use a word document to list all of my links – both long versions and shortened links.  I use bitly to shorten my links, but there are several services out there which you can use (owly and tinyurl come to mind)

Here’s what you’re going to need links for: 

You book on Amazon.com, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and any other site where your book is listed for sale.  For Amazon, you might want to get a universal link so people can find it in the US, UK, AU, DE, etc. stores easily.  BookGoodies has a universal link generator that’s very helpful.  You can find that here: http://bookgoodies.com/geotargeted-amazon-link-tool/

 

In addition to your books, you’ll need a link or info for your entire on-line presence. These are the most common ones:
Your email address
Your Facebook link
The Facebook link for your book page (if you don’t have one, you might want to build one!)
Your Amazon.com author link(if you don’t have one, go here: http://www.amazon.com/authorcentral)
Your Twitter link
Your Twitter handle (different sites will ask you for different things)
Your Pinterest link (if you have one)
Your Pinterest name
Your Shelfari link
Your GoodReads link
Your blog link
I compile all of this info before I even start posting, so when I’m posting about my book I can just copy and paste the links rather than going hunting for them. The first time I did a marketing blast, it took me forever because every site wanted different information. When I discovered that little gem, I opened a word document and went to town. Now, I have all of those links handy so I can just copy and paste.

The other thing you’re going to need is at least three different book descriptions. These should be different from your back cover description as well. This is the part that generally takes the most time for me. I try to craft each one with a different first sentence, different “action” words, and a different “feel”. I’ve heard the the search-bots love unique content so I don’t post the same description on every site. Here’s an example for Legendary Magic.

Teaser 1:

Dr. Arienne Cerasola might have a suspicious mind, but that doesn’t mean something nasty isn’t being planned by two of her former acquaintances. They have banded together on an archaeological expedition in the United Kingdom, and that could spell trouble for the magical community. The magical apocalypse kind of trouble.

With a blend of humor, suspense, and fascinating research, author R. Leonia Shea brings magic to the world of archaeology in the third installment of the Relic Hunter series.

Teaser 2:

As a witch and disgraced archaeologist, Dr. Arienne Cerasola shouldn’t be surprised when Kingston Pon asks her help to find a lost relic. After all, Kingston is one of the senior members of the United Coven and Alliance and Arienne is one of the few people who knows about his secret resistance activities with the Crux Crucio Orbis. When she learns her own Grandfather is involved in the C.C.O., Arienne’s more than a little angry that her family has been keeping secrets. Secrets about their involvement in the magical world. Secrets about Arienne’s legacy. Keeping secrets means creating lies and Arienne is determined to unravel the deception even if it means collapsing the foundation of her new life.

Author R. Leonia Shea brings the reader on an entertaining (and educational) quest for a legendary sword. Her unique blend of humor, suspense, and slightly neurotic characters make Legendary Magic a must read.

Teaser 3:

Caught between the clandestine world of the C.C.O., the dangers of the Alliance, and the treachery of a new magical organization Dr. Arienne Cerasola must trace the grain of truth in the legends passed down from the ancient Celts, through the Roman Empire, and right into King Arthur’s court to find a legendary sword. The legends were created to protect the truth and keep the relic from passing into the wrong hands, but other organizations are trying to unravel the mystery. Arienne must solve the puzzle first, or the whole magical community could suffer – starting with her own family.

Author R. Leonia Shea began writing Legendary Magic after a research-binge into magical swords – the final result is an entertaining romp through the world of archaeology with a magical twist. Read this book – you’ll laugh a little, learn a little, and be completely entertained.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll realize that all three teasers are slightly re-worked sections from the original book description. Once you have all of these preliminary tasks done, you’re ready to start blitzing.

Now, I have to go post about my own book for a little while. If you’ve read this far, here’s a hint: Elementary Magic (the first book in my fantasy series) is going on a freebie promotion tomorrow (9/08/14) and tuesday (9/09/14). Here’s the link if you want to grab it when it’s free:
http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00736TWKI