Category Archives: marketing

Twitter and Me

I’m not very good at Facebook.  I’ve connected my blog to it, so that every time I write a new post, it automatically loads on my author Facebook page, so I should have something new up at least once a week.  Occasionally, I’ll post some great writing advice I find online, and when my publisher asks me to promote a sale or new release, I do.  But that’s about it.  I’m worse at keeping track of my regular Facebook account.  I can lose a lot of time there, scrolling through all kinds of people and news I don’t know.

I do better at this blog.  I try to write a new post every Thursday, and recently I’ve started putting up a Muddy River snippet every Monday and a Jazzi snippet every Thursday, but I haven’t decided if that’s worthwhile or not.  It’s too soon to tell.  On my webpage, I used to put up free books or short stories, but I ran out of those.  So…I’m trying snippets.  I do have two short stories to share in October, and two more in December.  I’m tinkering with a Thanksgiving one, but I’ve had too many things interfere to give it the work it needs.  I didn’t get enough feedback on the one I did for Labor Day to decide if that’s worth the time and effort.

I know every author is supposed to be serious about branding, but I don’t think I’ve nailed that yet.  I really enjoy twitter.  It’s quick and easy to scroll through some of my favorite writers and to find some interesting tidbits and pieces of writing advice.  If I like it, I usually retweet it, so other people can enjoy it, too.  I’m not overwhelming the world with followers with this approach.  But it makes for a fun ten minute break when my brain’s drained of any words, and I need to recharge it.  Often, when I finish writing a scene, and my little grey cells are spinning for a transition and the next scene, I zip to twitter for a fast refresher.  And if I see something I like, I retweet it.  Often, it’s something about writing.  Sometimes, it’s about cooking.  (I love to cook).  I’ve even retweeted Tarot card meanings.  They intrigue me.

I’ve noticed most other authors don’t retweet as often as I do, though.  If they like something, they mark it with a heart, a “like.”  Maybe that’s so that they don’t dilute their own brand.  They keep their tweets mostly concentrated on their own news.  And maybe that’s smart.  It’s something I should probably think about.  But for now, twitter is like a playground for me, a place to play before I have to get back to work, writing another scene, another chapter.  And if the scenes are like pulling teeth, I spend more time on twitter than I should.  That’s called stalling.  I don’t want to leave my chair because if I stand up and wander off, it’s even harder to come back and get in gear.  But my brain can wander away while I sit in front of my computer if I flip to twitter.  And even I, the queen of distractions, can only take so much of the people who scroll past me.  So, before long, I’m headed back to my WIP.

Someday, probably sooner rather than later, I need to rethink what I post.  But for now, I enjoy posting news about my favorite authors.  I mean, if I enjoy them, other readers might, too.  I enjoy posting snippets.  And I’ll never get tired of recipes and pictures of food.  (But I could argue that IS “branding,” since I have Jazzi and Ansel cook together.  So do Hester and Raven.  Or is that stretching it?)  Any ideas?  Is there a smart way to tweet?  I read somewhere that an author should write five original twitter posts a day.  That’s hard.  Interesting retweets are easier.  I do know, though, that I’ve come across some authors that I want to retweet, but I can’t find anything original from them.  So there needs to be some original tweets mixed with the others.

Things for me to ponder.  In the meantime, if you happen to be in Columbus, OH, I’ll be at the mini-con for Kensington writers at Pierogi Mountain from 11:00 to 1:00 on Saturday.  And as always, happy writing!

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The business side of writing

At writers club this week, we had three great readers but still had time to spare.  That’s when Les B. brought up the article in the Wall Street Journal that an investment company is buying Barnes and Noble.  That got everyone talking about marketing and whether it’s better to get an agent and a publisher or to self-publish.

People in our group do both.  Some self-publish because they love the freedom.  And they still get enough sales to make them happy.  Some self-publish because they just want their books available for family and friends.  Two members are actively looking for agents.  That’s a nail biter job in itself.  And I self-publish AND have a publisher because I want to write two different kinds of mysteries, and I didn’t think I could get a taker for my supernatural series.  Let’s face it.  Some genres are a lot easier to sell than others.   And, to be honest, I wanted to see what would happen if I stuck Muddy River on Amazon on my own.  Ilona Andrews wrote a great post about the pros and cons of each: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/hybrid-authors/

Going it alone, though, means that it’s up to you to attract readers to your book.  And I think that’s getting harder to do.  True, writers have to work at promotion, even if they have a publisher, but they at least have some backup.  One thing you can do with or without a publisher is a blog tour.  Sometimes, they work.  Sometimes, they don’t.  But so far, Kensington has signed me up for a blog tour for every one of my books when they  come out.  The more work that goes into the blog tour, the better it is.  I’ve written 20+ individual pieces for a single blog tour before, so that each site has something unique to offer.  The one tour that only featured cover reveals and excerpts with a blurb wasn’t very effective.  Why would readers keep reading the same pitch over and over?

Advertising helps.  There are a crap load of books out there.  You need to find a way to get a reader to find yours.  Today, on twitter, I found a link to how to sell more books with Amazon ads.  I tried that once and bombed.  My friend tweaks her ad as she goes, and she’s been successful with it.  Here’s the article I found: https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/how-to-sell-more-books-with-amazon-ads-for-authors/

I’ve tried Facebook ads, but those are really hit and miss for me, too.  Still, you can invest $20 to boost your post and give it a go.  (I’d read the article on Amazon ads to get ideas first).

We all know that nothing beats BookBub, but trying to get a slot there takes a miracle or more.  And they’re expensive.  Luckily for me, Kensington put The Body in the Attic on Bookbub and they’re putting The Body in the Wetlands on it July 10.  I’m a lucky girl, and I know it.  Still, if you can’t get an ad, you can get some traction there.  I highly recommend becoming a BookBub partner, signing up and doing an author profile, listing the books you’ve written, and then–and this helps–recommending other authors’ books and reviewing them.  I recommend books under my name for urban fantasy–Judith Post (https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judith-post?list=reviews&review_step=search ) and under my pen name, Judi Lynn (https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn)  The good news is that when people follow you on BookBub, BookBub sends them a notification when you add one of your own books to your book page.  That means, if you have 100 followers, an e-mail goes out to each of them when you publish a new book.  The more followers, the better!

I just paid for an ad for Mixing It Up with Mortals on BargainBooksy at Written Word Media and dropped the price of my book to 99 cents. https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/about-us/#  And it did what I wanted it to do.  It got the book in front of a lot of new readers.  It’s only the second book in the series, and I’m not expecting big results.  That usually takes a while, if you get lucky.  I’ve had luck advertising on The Fussy Librarian, too, but that site’s pickier–you have to have at least 10 reviews with a 4.0 average, and I didn’t have 10 reviews yet, (sigh), so I went with Booksy.  For The Fussy Librarian: https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/advertising

There are other things you can do to help promote yourself and your book.  I’m going to use Ilona Andrews again (because I read her on twitter).  She posts snippets of whatever book she’s working on, on her webpage and then feeds that onto twitter: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/working-on-hidden-legacy-5/

I do the same thing.  I use weebly to put up cover reveals, new books, and free chapters.  Then I feed that onto my twitter account.  I think of this page (my blog) as a way to reach writers, and my webpage as a way to reach readers.  C.S. Boyack includes little snippets and news about the books he’s writing on his blog, too.  I think it’s effect, but it takes both–posting the snippet AND linking it to twitter.  My webpage: https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

C.S. Boyack’s posts:   https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/its-a-brain-purge/?fbclid=IwAR16n0RCckMZ-L3E-DxWF4H9jsxtJC5XzFsY3gNt6jEUhyfnKGjz6q7Bcoc   

Which brings me to three places that authors can promote themselves for free:

an author Facebook page  (Look up the Facebook page for some of your favorite authors and see what they do).

Twitter.  I make myself post something on twitter every day (at three different times, if I can) and to retweet some of the posts that I especially like.  And I always list book releases, cover reveals, and sales there.  Why not?  If you’re lucky, friends and others will retweet you and help spread the word.

Goodreads.  When I finish reading a book (and I can give it 3 or more stars), I write a review for both Bookbub AND Goodreads.

One last thing–and I know, I’ve written a tome this time, but I wanted to put in my 2 cents on marketing–, some authors have great luck with newsletters.  I haven’t done one yet.  Just haven’t gotten around to it.  But Story Empire wrote a decent article on it if you’re going to give one a try (and most authors do). https://storyempire.com/2019/06/07/how-to-tweak-your-newsletter/

One more thing, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Debbie Macomber’s advice on how to launch your book when it comes out.  Yes, I’ve shared this before, but someone might have missed it.  And it’s good. https://insights.bookbub.com/book-launch-checklist-marketing-timeline-traditionally-published-authors/

Okay, I’m running out of ideas and steam.  You’re probably ready for me to shut it anyway.  I promise not to bombard you with marketing ideas again for a while.  But if you’ve tried something and it’s worked for you, please share it with the rest of us.  And happy writing!

Hitting it Hard

My second Jazzi Zanders mystery comes out next Tuesday, April 23, and Kensington has been ON IT with the publicity and promotion.  When I published my six Mill Pond romances, they didn’t get much love, and I watched them sink lower and lower in sales and rankings every day.  It was sad and frustrating.  But Kensington restructured their publicity teams, and right now, I’m ecstatic with the pushes they’re giving my mysteries.  They even paid to put The Body in the Attic (Jazzi 1) on BookBub.

They’ve signed me up for a blog tour that starts on book two’s book birthday–April 23 and runs through May 2nd.  I love blog tours.  It’s a great way to meet readers and get feedback.  Bless book bloggers.  They do a lot of work and put in a lot of time to promote authors.  On the flip side, it takes a decent amount of work and time to get ready for a tour.  I lost count of how many 300 word blogs I’ve written, how many character interviews I’ve done, and how many Q & As.  Once the blog goes live, I try to visit every host who’s volunteered to support my book–sometimes up to three a day, and if someone comments on the blog, I try to respond.  This time, my publicist added something new.  I’m going to do an author chat from one to two p.m. on April 29 on Kensington’s Between the Chapters Facebook page.  That one makes me a little nervous.  I’ve never done one before, but I guess it’s time.

I mentioned before that I use canva.com to make twitter headers and twitter posts, as well as Facebook headers, to promote books.  I’ve done that for The Body in the Wetlands, too.  I started a countdown of days until the book goes up for sale and created a new twitter post with an image and a short blurb for each day.  I made a different twitter header for each month for the last six months.

I still don’t do everything Debbie Macomber suggested on her post for BookBub, but I do more than I used to.  I’ve shared her post here before, but in case it slipped past you, here it is again.  https://insights.bookbub.com/book-launch-checklist-marketing-timeline-traditionally-published-authors/?utm_source=guest-debbie-macomber&utm_medium=email.  And before I leave this week, I want to share one of the posts I created on canva for twitter.  And happy writing!  Have a wonderful Easter.The Body in the Wetlands, twitter 6

Have you seen my book?

I’m lucky enough to have some wonderful writers as friends.  I belong to a writing group, and so many of the members have so much talent.  But we all write for different reasons.  And we all differ on how much we want to invest in what.

A few of our members write because they WANT to, and producing a high quality finished product is their only goal.  They write for themselves, for pleasure.  They study books to improve their skills and listen to critiques, but they don’t want to go through the torture of submitting to an agent or even self-publishing.  They join Scribes because they care about the craft of writing and work hard to make their stories better and better.  And that’s enough.

A few of our members share their work with us, listen to every critique we give, and  work hard to create something worth publishing.  And then they choose to self-publish on Amazon to share their works with friends and family, and that’s enough.  They don’t want to market.  They shy away from promotions and feel awkward “bragging” about themselves.

Then there are members who put their work on Amazon and sit back to watch it sell.  I used to tell my writing friends, “No one comes to knock on your door to ask if you have a manuscript to sell.”  If people don’t know  it’s there, they can’t find it.  Now I tell them that you have to invest a decent amount of work to stand out from the millions of other writers hawking their books.  And that’s where the rest of us in our group fall.  We’ve put our books out there, finding agents or publishers or small publishers or self-publishing.  But we know that’s only a step.  And we also know that the road to marketing and promoting is slippery and devious.

What worked five years ago might not work now.  When I first put my urban fantasy online, authors had a chance of getting their books on BookBub.  BookBub advertises discounted books to millions of readers who sign up for specific genres.  These days, though, getting an ad on BookBub is like winning the lottery.  Without my publisher, I wouldn’t have had much  of a chance.  Plus, it’s expensive.  For my niche–cozy mysteries–Bookbub now e-mails news of a discount to 2,780,000 readers.  If I make my book free, I have to pay $707 for it being listed ONE day.  If I only discount it, I pay more.  It’s so hard to get on BookBub that other book advertisers have gone into business, but when I’ve used them, I’ve had mixed results.  I had some success with Facebook ads for a while, but it’s no guarantee more people will find my book.  A friend’s having success with Amazon ads, but I haven’t tried those.

Other than advertising, there are other options for authors to help readers find their work.  I’ve done blog tours, sometimes with success, sometimes not so much.  For some books, doing #1linewed on twitter has helped my rankings go up.  I’ve had some luck using Debbie Macomber’s Book Launch Checklist:  https://insights.bookbub.com/book-launch-checklist-marketing-timeline-traditionally-published-authors/?utm_source=guest-debbie-macomber&utm_medium=email  .  She recommends changing your twitter header once a month to get readers interested in a new book.  She changes her Facebook header, too.  I’ve been doing that, and I do think it helps.

And that brings me to canva.com.  https://www.canva.com.    I don’t have photoshop, but I really like canva.  I can type “twitter header’ in the search line and it gives me templates to choose from–templates that are sized to correctly fit each header.  I had to give myself permission to play with it for a while and mess things up before I actually tried to create a header I like.  Now, when I’m ready to start promoting a book, I try to create five or six twitter headers, so I can change them up when people grow blind to the one that’s been there.   Example:  Here’s one twitter header I created for The Body in the Wetlands:

 

The Body in the Wetlands--twitter header 1.5

Some writers use their blogs or webpages to connect with readers, and many ask readers to sign up to receive an e-mail newsletter.  I’m finally getting more followers on BookBub when I write reviews for the books I’ve read.  Whatever an author chooses, it’s an investment in time to try to connect with his/her readers.  I think it’s sort of fun.  But I always have to remember ads and promotions won’t do any good if I don’t write books, so writing time has to be sacred.

So for all of you, Hit Those Keys and Happy Writing!

Conference weekend

When you read this, I’ll be in Indianapolis at a mystery conference, Magna cum Murder.  It’s been a LONG time since I’ve attended a conference, so I’m looking forward to it.  And I’m a little nervous.  I’ll be on two panels, and I haven’t done that for a long time either.  The last time I did a workshop was here in Fort Wayne with my writer friends M. L. Rigdon (Julia Donner), Les Edgerton, and Kyra Jacobs.  It’s always fun to talk writing with them.  Heck, it’s always fun to do anything with local authors I know.

I hope to learn a lot and come home energized with all kinds of new ideas swimming in my head.  Swimming is the right word.  After listening to panels for three days, my mind’s so full, it turns to mush for a while.  A few authors from Kensington whom I’ve never met will be there, too, one even has the same editor I have–the wonderful John Scognamiglio.

When I first got serious about writing, I tried to attend one writers’ conference a year.  Published authors pushed me to look at writing from a business angle.  They talked marketing and trends, things I didn’t think about that much when I first decided to try my hand at novels.  I’m constantly surprised by how generous other authors are with their hard-won experience and advice.  Eventually, though, after enough conferences, authors don’t go to learn new things.  They go to promote themselves and their books.  So I’m hoping to get better at that part of writing, too.

Even when I only sold short stories, though, I learned how wonderful readers are.  The very first time I was ever on a panel, readers came up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed the stories I had in WomenSleuth anthologies and Alfred Hitchcock magazines.  It’s hard to beat the joy of having readers like what you’ve written.

My first mystery for Kensington, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC, doesn’t come out until November 27, so I’m not expecting many people have read it yet.  Some have from NetGalley and the giveaway on Goodreads, but I doubt many of them will be at Magna cum Murder, so I’ll be pretty much an unknown quantity.  I had postcards made for my book with the cover on one side and an excerpt on the other.  That’s about all I could do this time.  But it’s exciting to get back into the mystery buzz again.

I should be having a good time when you read this.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too, and happy writing!

P.S.  I’m starting to post new chapters from a YA novel I wrote and never did anything with on my webpage.  It has a little paranormal element in it, but back then, I’d decided I’d rather write urban fantasy, so tossed it in a drawer.  If you go to my webpage to take a look at it, I hope you like it!

Mysteries

I know.  I’m posting twice today, but I wanted to let you know that I put up a new chapter.  AND, I’m going to be busy this weekend, so I’m posting my blog early.  Maybe I’ll get lucky.  I read online that the best days to post blogs are Thursdays and Fridays.  Guess this time, I’ll find out:)  Anyway, here goes:

I’ve read lots of advice about how to brand yourself as an author.  Write posts and tweets that help readers recognize you.  I’ve changed genres enough, I might have made that hard for them.  When I switched from urban fantasy to romances to mysteries, one thing my books all had in common was food.  Someone in almost every series liked to cook.   Because I do.  So, yes, I tweet and post about food.  I enjoy reading mysteries that include recipes.  But I haven’t really gotten comfortable talking about the mysteries themselves until recently.

My first one, The Body in the Attic, doesn’t come out until November 27, and I guess that felt so far away, it felt silly to talk about it now.  But then my publisher surprised me and posted it on Amazon for pre-sale.  Without a cover.  I don’t even have to turn in the final proof pages until June 4.  But, seeing it for sale somehow made the book and marketing more real.  And then I read Mae Clair’s blog for her upcoming books, the first one due out June 12.  She created wonderful ads and postcards for it and a fewer older books she’s written, and she inspired me.  You can see them here: https://maeclair.net/2018/05/15/has-it-really-been-that-long/

Somehow, all of a sudden, I wanted to let the world know I was writing mysteries.  So, I used Canva.com to make a twitter header and posted it.  I’m not as talented as Mae, but I was happy with it.

bODY IN THE ATTIC twitter header

 

Every book in the series will be titled The Body In . . .  because every book will revolve around murder.  When I sit down to write a mystery, I always start with a dead body.  Yes, there are other crimes in the world, but they don’t have the gravity of a murder victim.  Once I know who died and what he was like, I ask myself Who killed him and more importantly, Why.  I’ve read and listened to mystery writers who swear they have no idea who the killer is until they write the last few pages of their story.  That would drive me crazy.  How do you add clues and red herrings if you don’t know Who Done It?  They manage to still write good mysteries.  We all approach writing differently, but my brain needs to know the end of a book before I write the beginning.

The next question I ask myself is whom does the victim’s death affect?  Are people devastated, or do they cheer and throw a party?  How many people wished him dead?  And how does my amateur sleuth get involved in the case?  What makes this death so important that she’ll try to investigate it?

It helps to have enough suspects, too.  Readers are clever.  They can practically guess your intentions by intuition.  It’s not the end of the world if they guess the killer before the end of the book, but if everything’s too predictable, you didn’t try hard enough.

Anyway, whatever you’re working on, good luck with it.  And happy writing.

Are you a mystery reader?  What’s your favorite type?  Cozies?  Thrillers?  Suspense or women in jeopardy?  If mysteries aren’t your thing, what do you read?

 

 

2017: Nothing to Brag About

I’ve worked hard on my writing for the last few years.  The first year I signed with Kensington, I had three romances come out.  Three more came out in 2017.  When I finished the last romance, I wrote a mystery and turned it in.  The Body in the Attic will come out in November 2018.

Nothing I’ve tried, so far, has worked the way I thought it would.  Way back when I got my agent–who’s with a great agency and really good–I thought I’d sell books and start being more successful.  But I was writing urban fantasy back then, and the market was glutted, so she let me put up digital books (the agency did that for me), and I marketed them myself as Judith Post.  I did EVERYTHING wrong, because I didn’t know any better, but I learned a lot, so I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Then my agent suggested that I write romances, because there was a market for those.  I’m not suggesting that writers should chase markets.  But my particular market was almost impossible to break into at the time, so I was willing to try something new.  And I found out I liked writing romances.  And Kensington offered me a contract for three e-books.  My agent really liked the romance I’d sent her.  My editor really liked all of my romances, so I was feeling pretty successful.  But I took a mis-step on that, too.  Kensington did a beautiful job of promoting my first Mill Pond romance, so I assumed they’d do the same for the rest of the books.  Not so.  My second book came out, sat around for a while, and then fell.  I meant to pay for a blog tour for my third book, but my publicist said that she’d already signed me up for one.  It used the same excerpt and blurb for each stop and didn’t do much.  My fourth book came and went, and I finally paid for advertising and promotion for my fifth and sixth books, but I did too little, too late.  I was hoping romances and a publisher would jump start my career, but not so much.  I hope my mysteries start out stronger.

I thought when I got a publisher, I’d sell more books.  Not really.  I should have hit the ground running, promoting myself more, but I didn’t.  Marketing, for me, is as tricky as always.  I’ve been happy with the blog tours I did with Gallagher Author Services and The Goddess Fish promotions.  I chose tours that offered unique material for each stop.  They’re more work, but I think they’re worth it.  The first Facebook ad that I placed did well, but the second wasn’t as effective.  Not sure why.  I tried Tweet ads, but they didn’t work for me.  The truth?  No marketing has made a big difference in sales except Book Bub, and it’s a miracle if they accept new authors anymore.  So I feel stymied with markets, too.  I know I need to promote myself, but it’s a crap shoot if whatever I choose works or not.

I write a blog once a week, I put something new on my webpage once or twice a week, and I tweet, but I’m not sure that any of that leads to sales either.  I enjoy sharing and staying in touch with fellow writers and readers, but I can’t really call it marketing.

For the first time, I joined a group author giveaway during December as an experiment.  B. L. Blair organized it and did all the hard work, spoonfeeding the authors who signed up for it.  She’s wonderful to work with and is starting to look for fellow mystery writers.  Here’s her blog:  http://www.blblair.com/blog.html.

With the giveaway, I got a lot of e-mails that I can add to a mailing list (if I ever get off my duff and start a newsletter).  And the giveaway was a great experience, but I have to be honest.  Most of the authors took their turn on the giveaway and then didn’t support any of  the other authors.  That confused me.  I thought the whole purpose of joining together was to WORK together.  I tried to retweet each of my fellow writers, but only a few of them retweeted each other.

To wrap up, I accomplished a lot this year, but I’m ending 2017 with more questions than answers.  Maybe 2018 will be the year when everything comes together.  I hope 2018’s a great year for you–and happy writing!

 

Webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter:  @judypost