Are you an author or contemplating being an author?
Okay, if the answer is no, then perhaps you have a book inside of you? Is your journey so amazing that other people would want to hear it also? If so, that is your autobiography or your memoir. A lot of people “think” their story is interesting. It’s not. That is the reason there are literary agents in the world. Their job is to prevent bad writing from making it into the mainstream literary world. I don’t have to tell you that the world is full of struggling authors.
Think of being a writer just like any other skill. Typing for example is a skill. The first time you touched a keyboard or an actual typewriter, you had NO idea how these letters ever made any sense. The A was by the S? Everyone knows that A goes next to B. The thought of using this machine and knowing where all the letters were was pretty overwhelming. I learned on an IBM Selectric. That shows how old I am, right? WRONG. You are only as old or young as you choose.
So on to today’s lesson, the book marketing plan. If you were not aware my background is marketing, my bachelor’s degree is in marketing and I was a product manager and marketing manager for a good portion of my professional career. Amazingly it has come in handy. My point is, I am experienced in this arena. You, just like your book, need a marketing plan. Hopefully before your book has ever launched you have spent some time and energy on your personal branding and now your book branding.
Your book needs a S.W.O.T. analysis with detailed marketing data. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. How you look at your book and who will partner with it is monumental if you want massive success. I have a client who asked me to develop a marketing execution plan for her book. Basically my success of my book and platform put into an easy to follow workbook, marketing plan. I have a pretty good idea of what it is going to include, specifics to marketing strategies, which routes I chose.
Why did I self publish versus going with a literary agent and traditional publisher? What were some of the financial pitfalls I hit and missed? How did I amass such a large following and what were some of the specifics? I would like to say that someone took me by the hand and said, “First you are going to do this. When you complete that you will move to phase 2, which is this …” but it wasn’t anything like that. I spent hundreds of hours doing research, reading other authors blogs, and investigating anything and everything I could find online.
There is a hidden world of eBooks. There are so many eBook retailers that do not exist to the average American. Most of the United States is focused on printed book sales. Getting their books in stores, at Walmart or Costco. Anything to get the marketing and exposure that they desperately want so bad.
You and your I.S.B.N. is also important as is the “imprint” of your book. Whomever owns the imprint is the owner, bottom line. That is who gets paid. If it is not your name, then you have to wait until that entity decides to pay you your percentage. If you go the traditional route with an agent, keep in mind that you will probably be paid just a little better than your agent. 15% of the sale price. If your book retails paper for $19.99, it may sell for $9.99 and you 15% of that. Bookstores get 60% off of list price, that is why Amazon and B&N can discount books so heavily.
Distribution is also very key in your book marketing plan. Newsflash — not everyone shops at Amazon. Some people HATE Amazon. Some people only shop local, some only shop at Barnes & Noble, some only shop at airport bookstores. Some people only read books from their public library. Did you know that your electronic book can easily be listed in your local library? Yep, it is true.
Your power partners are also important in your success. Who are power partners? They are the group(s) or individuals who are helping your cause. Your partners are also part of your tribe. Your tribe is your 1000 true fans. This is a theory I have talked about before so I won’t rehash it. You can research the details, but basically you need to have 1000 people who will buy your product or service.
Regardless if you self publish or go traditional you will be told by many people you need to build a platform of readers. It is a huge gamble for a publisher to print books that won’t sell. You have to prove that you have readers who are willing to fork over their hard-earned cash. Your power partners or tribe will be a large majority of your sales initially.
I have already been approached by many professionals who want this same marketing plan. Why? Because what I have done has worked quite nicely for me. It’s a proven fact that there are millions of people who are successful simply by following the actions of those who have demonstrated success.
I haven’t decided how I am going to pursue this endeavor. Do I write another book for the world to read? Do I have a full day workshop? A Friday, Saturday and Sunday event where people all over the nation fly to Denver and sit in my energy and learn all the things they need to know? How much would people pay for such knowledge? I could easily put that together. I could very easily incorporate small business know how that would be valuable. Finances, sponsorships, investors, things along those lines. Maybe someone believes in you and wants a cut of the profits?
I think I would definitely devote a large portion to training professionals, how to use their website, make the most of “out of the box” marketing tactics. I bet that portion would be very popular. Right now I am thinking $5000 for 3 days, and I share all my wealth of knowledge. You pay for your own way to get here and stay. You can bring a second person, like a business partner for half price. During that time, we build your website, develop your marketing plan, strategize your book, and partner with other authors to build your social media. As an added bonus, I read some manuscripts and give some feedback. It could be a lot of fun.
I know for a fact that some authors have spent tens of thousands of dollars and never achieved the results that I have. If you think you might be one of the few that will be interested in this workshop feel free to let me know. I am thinking of keeping it to a low number of participants so I can work closely with everyone.
Confused with hastags? #hashtags
Welcome to the 21st century
Where the little tic tac toe, from your old dial tone phone is now called something else. It’s called a hash tag.
I know, it sounds like the stupidest thing to rename something that we all call a pound symbol. Either way it doesn’t really matter what you call it, it matters what you do with it, what you label, and how you retrieve it. It is also very important when it comes to gaining new readers.
Chances are you might know what these little doo hickeys are, but if you don’t then you are in good hands. No one actually taught me about them but I figured them out and have been making them work for me quite well for some time.
Basically because Twitter only gives you 140 characters, you had to somehow “code” your tweets so you could find them again, and other people could find them. It is a code that starts with a # and is followed by a word. They need to be connected #twitter, and they are not case-sensitive. You can use capitals but it won’t matter.
Twitter started the hashtags, but its popularity quickly jumped to other mainstream social media, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and many more. Many companies and products have created their own hashtags to brand themselves.
I have used my own #QuotesByAaronMstephens when I write something and think I may want to read it again. It also is helpful for people to find your updates. So if people know this is MY hashtag, then they can easily pull it up without having to go through so many thousands of tweets or posts.
Once I started using hashtags that were more common for people to think of, I started gaining more followers. Now I use them for SEO and search engine relevance. When you are in WordPress composing a new post, there are tags you can use which are in your article/blog.
These are actually just like hashtags, but for search engines. If you are just randomly throwing in illogical words, it is going to have a negative effect on your rankings. I would say that only 10% of bloggers who understand SEO actually use these hashtags, tags and categories correctly.
I have experimented using different hashtags, using ones that are trending, and also posting things without hashtags. It is safe to say that you should ALWAYS use at least one hashtag. I am a writer, so I use a lot of writing reference hashtags.
I have a lot of readers who are authors, aspiring and published, and they look to me for education. “If it is working for Aaron, then it can work for me.” Some easy to remember hashtags can be #blog #write #writer #author #indie . There are millions of people who love to read blogs. You might be one of them. Make things easy for your reader. If they know they can find you or your blog by a clever or common hashtag, you will gain more followers/readers.
Be a messenger and share your new found knowledge with a friend.
Facebook Business Likes Decreasing
If you weren’t aware, Facebook has made a decision to clean house. Businesses that have fake “likes” from LIKE farms are in trouble. Facebook has decided to remove dead, inactive accounts. It has not been confirmed, but I am sure they have some sort of advanced software working in the background.
If you don’t know what a LIKE farm is, it is a company that hires thousands of people to just “like” pages if customers pay them. On the surface you can’t tell that a business has fake likes. Meaning they paid an outside company to just like their page and they really don’t. Personally I don’t think that is right. It’s cheating. Facebook thinks so too. They are also attempting to determine the number of fake accounts and duplicates. I only have one Facebook account, but there are tons of people who have more than one, and that is against their terms of service. If they find out, they could ban both accounts. So be careful folks.
Facebook also decided that deceased accounts should also not count. In all fairness, the person who liked that page can no longer interact, like or share postings. The biggest problem companies had with using a like farm is that when they would go to post something on Facebook, there would be zero engagement or likes. So I am sure you have seen pages that post something and there is hardly any like or zero likes. For a lot of people they think that those likes are fake, and purchased from a like farm.
If you don’t own a Facebook business page, then this might be educational for you. I am going to assume you know what a page is, and you just don’t have one of your own. If you do, then you already know that it is not easy to get people to like your page. You might be one of them. You’ve spammed all your friends through the Facebook invite option and only a handful of people liked your page. Why? You have over a thousand, surely everyone is going to like your page, right? Wrong.
First of all, your friends don’t know anything about your new page, and second of all, they don’t know if you own it. It might not be clear. I get invites all the time for people who want me to like their page. Here is my rule, if you didn’t ask me personally, or I can’t tell that it is your page, I won’t like it. Third, I need to see what you have been posting the past month or so, how often you post, and if I find it interesting, educational or entertaining. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, I may not want you showing up in my newsfeed. Sometimes, over-posting can prevent someone from liking your page.
Your business page should have at least an hour’s worth of good reading, just like your website. Many people make the mistake of announcing their premature business page and the only people who like it are the best friends, family and maybe some clients. If you are someone who just reposts other people’s material, ultimately you will just end up sending your potential readers to someone else’s page.
When you do finally decide on your topic for your blog, be sure you write something ample. Use big fonts. If you are using WordPress then you should be using those “H” tags. In the formatting, there is Heading 1, 2, 3, …6, and paragraph and there are some other formats you can use. Those are key in your SEO. I have never mentioned using these in my blogs in the past, but I always, ALWAYS, use them. For one, it makes it easier for you the reader to read. Two, it does some special SEO tricks that help search engines find me. Three, it just looks nicer.
Did you know that your blog/website only has 8 seconds before your reader will make a decision? Think about it. How much time and patience do YOU have? If a page doesn’t load fast then your reader will close out. If your page does load and it is too busy, your reader will close out. If your page loads and the font is too small and a TON of text, your reader may close out. Remember, most people have failing eyesight or are reading from a mobile device. As a blogger you are also a designer now. Layout and design make a huge impact and impression on your reader.
So if you haven’t checked me out on Facebook, I have a few business pages. The main one is my public figure page and the other is my children’s book page. I was asked by a client who has an author page if she should also have a book page. Personally I don’t think it would hurt, and it certainly can help. My marketing of the book was monumental on introducing people to the idea of my book, months before it actually launched. After it launched the likes continued to grow. I have noticed that on both of those pages my likes have decreased like everyone else out there. Fortunately for me it was minimal. I lost like 2 thousand on the angel page and maybe 1 thousand on my public figure page.
I am sure it was due to duplicate or inactive accounts. I know some people are thinking, “Wow, you lost 3 thousand fans? That’s more than I have all together. I’d be freaking out.” I would be except that I have over 200 hundred thousand fans on Facebook, not counting my other social media platforms. I would probably imagine that this website has a pretty large following. There are so many marketing vehicles out there that point people to this website. Lately I have been getting random visitors from StumbleUpon.com. That is another cool website, but I will write a blog on that website another day.
Although, in all fairness, before Facebook was doing their deletion of likes, I would lose likes on a regular basis. Sometimes none, sometimes as many as 30 a day. For whatever reason, someone decided they didn’t want to see me in their newsfeed. I try not to overanalyze and instead focus on the positive.
Thousands of God’s children ARE listening to me, hearing his message. There are also thousands of followers who like reading something spiritual and inspirational. I get messages daily, many of them young boys who look up to me as a role model. It’s a really cool feeling when a total stranger tells you that he wants to be just like you. I also spent a pretty penny (from heaven) on advertising and marketing the book around the globe for almost 10 months. Millions have been exposed to the book, Facebook pages, or websites.
I have some stealth website tricks that I use. On the angel academy website and this one, I have a “like” box that shows up in the right hand corner of the website when you hit page 3 scrolling. If you like the site it asks you to like the Facebook page. The cool thing with this is you don’t have to leave the website to actually go look at the Facebook page. So I got thousands of people to like my page without ever going to see it. It doesn’t activate on the blog posts, but if you click on the header it will take you to the home page.
Once you have your Facebook business page established you should advertise it everywhere you can for free. Your email signature, your personal Facebook cover page and description, your Google+ page, your About.Me page, Twitter profile, any promotions, and anything printed, including your business card. I am not sure how many likes I got from LinkedIn, but that is also another rich platform you can market yourself.
Regardless of profession you are in, if you are seeking clients or customers, you need to be visible. You need your website to come up first if someone types it in Google, Bing, MSN or Yahoo. You never know where your readers are coming from, but you can always direct them to your personal professional website. You are always in control of your website. Facebook won’t be going away due to it’s egregious wealth and power. However there were other social media sites that came and went; Friendster, MySpace are just a couple off the top of my head. If you are blogging on Blogger or WordPress.com, there is nothing from them saying they are going to start charging you or hold your website hostage.
More Blogs & Articles
Hello friends and welcome to another edition of Aaron’s highly informative and extremely entertaining blogs. One of the things I pride myself is the fact the no one writes like me. I’m not scheduled, repetitive, and certainly not boring. I am always looking for new blogs/writers and many times I find myself let down.
I am a member of a lot of different Facebook groups so I am exposed to a lot of authors. Naturally I am curious what other authors are doing and go check out their website(s), Facebook Business page, if they have one, and what they rank on Amazon for their book. Lately I have seen quite a few authors tooting their horn at what a great social media person they are, and you should register for their class/workshop, and of course, purchase their book. If you give them an email address they might give you something free. Personally I don’t ever feel that whatever they are giving is worth signing up for another mailing list.
Seriously, I get so much email another newsletter just is not going to do it for me. But wait! You are thinking, “Aaron, you have a newsletter sign up on your website.” Nope, I don’t. Have you ever gotten an email directly FROM me? Nope. Do I ever send out mass emails on my own? No. If you subscribe to my site, I don’t know it. WordPress automatically sends out a notification that a new blog was created. I never promised anyone anything, other than stealing you away from what you really should be doing … work. However, you may argue that reading this article IS work as it will help you in your own endeavors. How? I am getting there.
I honestly do not even know how many people are signed up for email notifications or RSS, but I do know it is in the thousands. So I never ask anyone to sign up or promise them anything. Chances are by the time you have lost a half an hour or so of time, you can make up you own mind if you want to read more. An RSS is really super simple to set up. What makes it cool is people will still be notified of your update/article without actually going to your site, opening up email, or getting a notification on your smartphone. It just silently scrolls along the bottom of your screen. Very sneaky marketing. If your blog is interesting, people will look forward to seeing updates. If you slam them with “Buy my product/services” they will quickly get rid of you. Sorry, but that is the way it is.
If you are visiting my site for the first time, you will find there is a lot to read. I like to write. If you are returning for a second or third time you will notice that I keep on writing, just like Dory from Finding Nemo. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. I tell that to writers all the time. Who cares if it isn’t good the first draft, just keep writing. We can fix those things later. The other day I wrote a really long blog. The longer the blog, the better the SEO. It got a lot of exposure and people really liked it. Sweet. I’m glad I can be so entertaining. Seriously, I personally get annoyed reading a blog that is like ten seconds long. Almost all of my writing is pretty lengthy. Since I “usually” write quite early in the morning, many people have already started making it a habit of sitting down with their morning coffee and reading my blog. I think I am a little more entertaining than the same old Facebook newsfeed. Well, that is what a reader told me this week.
One of the really cool things I like about having a large fan base, is the constant stream of comments, messages and tweets I receive. There aren’t a lot of writers you can contact and say “Hey will you write about _____ just for me?” I would like to write Stephen King and say, “Oooooo…write a Colorado marijuana horror story just for me! Even a short story, please????” Yeah, that certainly won’t happen anytime soon. I’m not writing short stories, but I am addressing a lot of topics that people find interesting. Some people are even using my articles in their research papers for school. Yes really. Because they tell me. Anytime I write about WordPress I get a lot of hits on the site. Why? Because millions of people are using it and millions of people don’t know how to use it. They fiddle their way through it and barely make use of it. It’s like cooking. Everyone can cook something. Not everyone is a chef.
So today I want to direct your attention to social media. Why? Because everyone loves talking and reading about it. Mostly people who don’t know what it is, or feel like they are lost in the crowd. Everyone has moved on but you. You are now figuring out how this how Facebook thing works and you hear that people are moving on to other things. Like what? Well, that is why you are here on this site. So I can share that with you. Social Media is this giant elephant in the room. Some people like to brand themselves as experts, write books and charge thousands of dollars just to talk. John Maxwell, Darren Hardy are two that quickly come to mind. The thing I find most interesting, is these “experts” are all old. Sorry, they are. They didn’t grow up with a smartphone, they grew up with something called a “rotary dial”. Older people also use Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. The younger generation, we use things like Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat and StumbleUpon.
I am not going to go into a lot of detail of how to use these outlets, someone has already written about them. For a lot of readers, they are thinking “Okay I know that one, … and that one, but what are those other ones?” I have several people in mind right now. You know who you are. I didn’t know about SnapChat until my friends from one of my Facebook groups told me to start using it with my fans. Of course I asked a dozen questions, but after seeing how it worked I could see a lot of value in it.
I have been struggling with how to reach MY younger reading audience. They aren’t on Facebook. Why? “My parents are on Facebook. They cyber-stalk me.” How freaking funny is that? Well, that is what the kids are saying. “My mom is a total ****** and reads all my text messages and makes me give her my lock code.” SnapChat is a 1-10 second video or message that deletes after viewed. So I signed up for a SnapChat account and then I put a picture of the logo on my Facebook page. I didn’t say what it was, and it did not take you off of Facebook’s site. This is important when you want to have larger exposure. Sure enough, my fans all around the world knew what that app logo was and thousands quickly added me to their friend list. Quite a few older “friends” asked me what it was. I didn’t want to let everyone in on the secret just yet, so I just said it was a way for me to connect with my fans.
As a writer it is critical to connect with your audience. Your audience could span across several demographics. For instance, I seriously doubt there are a lot of kids under the age of 12 that read my blog. Why? The information is not relevant or interesting to them. In the United States a lot of children found out about my book through their parents. Why? Because I wasn’t able to connect with kids. I have several audiences, and perhaps in another article I will go into greater depth. International kids are a different story. I don’t know why.
One way you can connect with your readers is by your writing style. For the most part, I write in a very casual conversational style, just as if I were talking with you. Many of my personal friends say they can actually hear my voice as they read my blogs. Some writers talk above their audience reading level (and lose them) and I just find that frustrating. You should always write at a sixth grade reading level. Why? Most average adults only read at a sixth grade reading level.
The key word I use is CONNECT. Once you have that connection with your readers they are more likely to share, and recommend you and your blog. The “willing to recommend” is very key in getting a viral marketing plan for your book/blog. When you write something, in the back of your mind you should be thinking “WHY would anyone want to read this article? Or tell someone else to go read it?”
So to answer my own question; “This blog introduced me to some new marketing data, social media insights and made me start thinking about whom might want to read my own writing.”