Celebrate Your Book This April During National Poetry Month

Are you celebrating National Poetry Month? Each April, the Academy of American Poets sponsors this event, wherein authors and readers of poetry alike are encouraged to raise awareness about poetry and leverage its inspirational potential to spark new and beautiful works of artistry in the world.

This year, National Poetry Month includes Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 26th. On this day, the Academy encourages those of you who love poetry “to select a poem, carry it with you, and share it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, and workplaces. Then, please join the conversation on social media by posting a link or screenshot and on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem.” So not only is there an entire month dedicated to promoting poetry in general, there’s also a day set aside specifically for the sharing of poetry in tangible physical form through in-person contact? This is one month you do not want to slip by unnoticed!

The Academy of American Poets provides a number of resources on their website to make participation easy for readers of poetry, but what about authors? And what about, specifically, self-publishing authors? Inspired by the “Other Ways to Participate” of their website, we’ve adapted their list to be more inclusive of those of you who have already published a work of poetry and are looking for ways to tap into the energy and theme of National Poetry Month to better market your own books.

10 Ways to own National Poetry Month as a self-published poet:

  1. Put together a printable file of a few of your best short poems and email it out to your friends, family, and fans in the same spirit as the downloadable resources provided by the Academy on their website.
  2. Recruit a team from among those friends, family, and fans who reply to hand out your pocket-sized poems in their local communities, and watch as your geographical reach multiplies exponentially!
  3. Host a “poem in your pocket” giveaway at your workplace or your local public library.
  4. Print off letter-sized posters of a few of your best short poems and ask local businesses to put up them up in their front windows or on their bulletin boards.
  5. Make it a treasure hunt by numbering each different poem. Encourage those residents of your town who manage to spot three or six or ten of these poems to take pictures and post them to social media and to tag you. Provide some special incentive or reward for those who collect the most, like a special limited-edition bookmark featuring your book.
  6. Be a ninja! Leave small, pocket-sized verses in public places, like libraries and bookstores and restaurants and businesses. Unlike the posters, these are easy to slip in a pocket and carry away.
  7. Design or order and distribute bookmarks with your favorite lines of your own poetry, as well as an image of your book’s cover.
  8. Add one of your own poems to your email footer … as well as a link to your book’s sales page! It may seem subtle, but it’s the kind of subtle which might just catch somebody’s eye.
  9. Every day, or even several times every day, make sure to post lines from your favorite poems on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr. There are dozens of apps which you can download for free or a small fee which will convert text into beautiful images which you can then post to your favorite social media platform.
  10. And yes, you really ought to send a poem to a friend. A poem you’ve written. Unlike these other suggestions, this one is intimate. It’s personal. It’s not about selling books or building your brand. It’s just about … you. You and your friend, who means so much to you. After all, poetry is the form language takes when simple words are not enough.

Still not sure where to start in marketing your book this April or at any time of year? It may be time to lean on an expert! Log into your Publishing Center to view all of the marketing services that Outskirts Press offers.

To see our staff picks of amazing poetry books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Market Smart: On the Acquisition of High-Quality Book Reviews

When it comes to book reviews for self-publishing authors, much less the acquisition thereof, authors have to prepare themselves to deal with a moving target. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all understanding, much less solution, for your average self-publishing writer, and there’s no rulebook which states that the best ways to get and give reviews are set in stone.

But first, just in case you’re skeptical of the need to acquire reviews of your book, we must answer the question: why are book reviews important in the first place? First of all, the number of reviews you receive on a website like Amazon, paired with its star rating, leverages a lot of weight on new readers. If all you had to go on was two or three lines of text and a star rating when it came to picking out a new kitchen appliance or nonprofit organization to support, you’d pay a lot of attention to what past customers or supporters had to say, wouldn’t you? A book with no reviews, like a fancy gadget that might just make a mess of your kitchen, is often passed over in favor of a “sure thing” … that is, a book others have already confirmed is excellent. Other factors, such as an eye-catching cover design, may play a role. But reviews simply can’t be ignored as the engine of book sales!

And those first reviews are the hardest to get.

This is where things get complicated. There’s no easy answer to the question of how to acquire those first, most difficult reviews. Or rather, there’s a short answer (any way you can!) but it doesn’t provide much in the way of practical advice. Our suggestion is to start small and build from there. Query book bloggers that you follow, and authors that you admire, and of course your friends and family. They’re your built-in audience, so take advantage of them! Just, you know, not too much. You don’t want your reviews to radiate desperation. While there’s no one single right or wrong way to go about querying for reviews, do keep in mind that reciprocity is an important part of the publishing world, especially the world of self-published authors, who have to build digital communities and networks for themselves. It’s a great idea to offer to review another author’s book in exchange for a review of your own; that way, both authors benefit, not to mention avid readers of indie literature!

There are, of course, other reliable places where book reviewers hang out. Amazon’s top reviewers make up one such group, and the best part is, it’s their job to review new products, and they tend to love it! Some may have specific product and even genre preferences, but you should definitely consider turning to them when you’re looking to build your reviewer base. And don’t forget about Goodreads! Dedicated, socially-connected readers gravitate to Goodreads, even while avid book-buyers will head to Amazon, its parent company. Consider hosting a Goodreads giveaway to bolster both the visibility of your book and the number of reviews! Best of all, Outskirts Press offers services which will set up accounts on both Goodreads and Amazon to make this process a whole lot easier!

The best thing you can do for your self-published book is to keep writing. The more books you write and publish, the more linkages you will build between texts, and the larger your circle of influence will grow. In the long run, your book’s visibility will benefit if you put in a little time here and there, and keep working on new ways to give and gain book reviews and boost your sales numbers!

Looking for more information on marketing strategies that might just work for you? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com and check out the options available on the Marketing Solutions menu. You can also access your Free Marketing Resource Center by logging into your Publishing Center where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs!

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Have You Published a Children’s Book? Here’s How to Market It.

Children’s books may just be the purest distillation of self-publishing perfection: they’re beautiful, they have universal appeal to readers of all ages, and they pack an emotional punch which leaves readers hungry for more. But if you’ve recently self-published a children’s book, you’ll already know that marketing your book successfully can still pose some unique challenges, regardless of these qualities. It’s time to put your creative gifts back to work, and to take advantage of your book’s unique place in the self-publishing marketplace. But how? Here are three simple suggestions to get you started.

ONE: Think of your book as an event, not an object.

Children’s books are best enjoyed collectively, aren’t they? Whether we’re talking about a grandparent reading aloud to a pack of children on the couch or a librarian holding forth to a cluster of kids during Story Hour or an educator teaching sight words to a roomful of second graders, children’s books are events, not just physical objects that one can hold in the hand. When it comes to marketing, spend some time early on brainstorming all of the various contexts in which you see your book being enjoyed … and then start planning how you yourself can center an event in each context. And don’t just think analog … digital context matter, too! Think of all those book reviewers on YouTube and those book bloggers on Goodreads who might just love reading your book as part of a book tour.

And look, just holding a book reading isn’t enough to move most parents to open their pocketbooks and deal out the hard cash; they really want to know and be convinced that there’s more to your book than what can be heard or seen in a single reading. Many children’s books out there are, after all, easy to pick up once and never again. So when you think about hosting or running an event, think about how to ensure it’s an engaging one, and find ways to make clear connections to ancillary materials like your book’s back matter, related activities, website material, and educator-friendly resources. The point is to communicate that your book is one worth coming back to, time and time again, and therefore worth investing money in.

TWO: Schools are key, and schools are hard.

If you really want your children’s book to move, you need to find a way to crack open access to the biggest movers and shakers of children’s books in the world: schools. And since the teachers in these schools for the most part rely on units and resources which have been approved or listed by or perhaps even provided by the systems which developed alongside them … which is to say, traditional publishing houses and their marketing teams. So yes, schools are a difficult nut to crack. But the sheer quantity of readers they sustain and cultivate make the effort worthwhile.

How to make a start? If you haven’t already, develop a unit’s worth of materials around your books. Collect activities and further readings, media, and so forth that relates to your children’s book and line it all up, ready to go. That way, when you arrange to visit a classroom or run a workshop for local teachers, you have both credibility as a resource and have made it easy for the teachers to meet state and federal core requirements. Work in some facetime with the school administrators as well; such relationships can establish you as a long-term presence in the area.

THREE: Make hay while the sun shines … and the sun shines around the world!

One of the most underutilized opportunities out there for children’s book authors is the book fair, and there are so many wonderful ones, globally, to choose from! These days, it’s easy to take part, too, as self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press offer global book tour packages designed to get your book in front of and into the hands of untold numbers, or individual book fair submission applications such as that to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which is the highest class event a children’s book author could wish for.

If you’re looking to market your children’s book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com and check out our Marketing Solutions menu. You can also access our wonderful Free Marketing Resource Center where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs!

To see our staff picks of amazing children’s books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

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Romance Your Readers With Four Quick Marketing Tricks

While romance novels are slowly gaining traction as a legitimate and delightful genre unto themselves, shedding the unearned stigma of their early “pulp” and mass-market years, there’s still a void to be filled. Very likely, if you spend much time surfing the internet, you’ll discover that there’s not a whole lot of quality advice out there on how to better market your romance novel apart from the standard, general, non-genre-specific advice given to all self-published authors. But this is, as the Washington Post calls it, a “uniquely successful genre” in that it is one of the top performers in sales, across the board — and sales don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. There’s an audience out there, and they need to hear about your book!

Here are four quick tips that will help you romance new readers!

ONE: Tap into the untold power of Goodreads and Amazon. Goodreads is a reader-centric social media platform which privileges the kind of digital discovery tools so valuable to reaching dedicated readers, and readers of romance novels are incredibly dedicated. Have you ever known a reader in the genre to only ever buy just one book? While Amazon uses algorithms to optimize which customers are exposed to which recommended books, Goodreads relies upon readers to recommend books to each other using their reviews, shelves, giveaways, and group conversations. Both Amazon and Goodreads (which has, in fact, been purchased by Amazon but remained a separate entity) are powerhouses of the book world, and creating an author account and taking charge of your book’s sales page can reap untold rewards. Join a couple of group forums for romance readers (we particularly like the sound of the “Tall, Dark & Deadly” group, as well as the “Scandalicious Reader Vault”). Host a giveaway or two. Re-post your blog updates to your Goodreads author page. Offer to exchange reviews with other romance authors. Respond to readers’ questions in the Q&A section. There is literally no downside to getting on Goodreads and optimizing your Amazon page!

TWO: Make use of groups on Facebook. Yes! Facebook does have more to offer than just its author pages! The greatest untapped resource of Facebook is its group function, and I’m not talking about scheduling an event or posting on someone else’s home page, although those are also great ways to reach out. No: you can actually create your own group if there isn’t one which already suits your needs (do a quick search for “romance writers” or “romance readers” and see what comes up!) simply by clicking “Groups” from your home page, then “Add Group,” then “Create New Group.” Facebook will walk you through naming your group, adding members, choosing privacy settings, adding images and icons, and completing your “about” section. Make sure to include the hyperlink to your book sales page, and commit to commenting or otherwise engaging with your chosen group on a regular basis, and you’ll be sure to see a spike in interest.

THREE: Think hard about merchandising. Romance books are rife with symbolic artifacts: those objects which remind your characters of each other, and which serve as metaphors or vehicles for their attraction. We’re talking about that gold bangle on your leading lady’s wrist, or that fountain pen in your champion’s breast pocket. We’re talking about that bookmark your ingénue tucks into her copy of Leaves of Grass while strolling through the New England countryside in search of adventure, or that teacup which shatters in chapter thirteen. Think of how you can riff off of those artifacts, whether by ordering customized pens, sunglasses, or keychains with your website address on them, or by hosting a giveaway in which you give swag as well as your book as an incentive to enter. Think about more flexible means of advertising, too, whether by mailing a postcard featuring your book’s cover or printing bookmarks with the same, or by ordering posters to put up in the windows of local businesses. Merchandising can mean a lot of things, but it always means your book is always in your future readers’ minds!

FOUR: Put a pin in it. That’s right, I’m talking about Pinterest, everybody’s go-to home for recipes and home decorating tips. But you know what? Pinterest is also a fantastic place to market your book, as it is already being used by readers of romance to post their favorite book covers, movie posters, and digitally decorated quotes (in image form). You can create boards of your own, and specify them at will. You might have one where you store your “research” or “inspiration,” and another where you routinely post quotes from your own book. You might even go all-out and start a board where you pin recipes inspired by your book or that are prepared for or by your various characters throughout your romance novel, and a board where you post outfits or “fancastings” of your characters. Think about your ideal reader, and what will engage them best. What sort of home might they live in? What sort of recipes would they regularly look for? Build your brand from the ground up, in image form.

If you’re still not sure how to start marketing your romance novel, log into your Publishing Center to view all of the marketing services that Outskirts Press offers. As an Outskirts Press published author, you can also access your Free Book Marketing Resource Center where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs!

To see our staff picks of amazing romance books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

3 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Plan in 2018

Almost every blog, workshop, and website on the subject of self-publishing advocates for creating a book marketing plan even before your book has been printed. You will already have read about a number of marketing methods, from virtual book tours to book signings to book fair partnerships to glossy mailings featuring your book. Have you followed that advice?

Sometimes, even when we answer “yes” to this question, our sales numbers may not reflect the hard work and the (usually) good advice. You might even be following every piece of advice you’ve received to the letter. So, how could this be? And more importantly, how do we fix the problem?

The simple truth is that your book’s marketing plan may have a fatal flaw, and this flaw may be costing you sales. And truthfully, this is a common problem among self-publishing authors, which means both that you’re not alone and that we’ve figured out a couple of surefire ways to troubleshoot the issues.

Instead of looking at your book marketing plan as an enemy which is actively working against you, ponder these three questions. Your answers might just help reshape your marketing plan to be more insightful, more effective, and more successful at moving your book off of the bookstore shelves.

  1. Have you clearly defined your target market? When you wrote your first book, you just knew that everyone would love it. It would make you the talk of the town (or maybe even the talk of the nation or globe). It would be the “it” book that everyone would want to read. But … that’s a rather lofty goal. Many might even say that it’s an impossible goal, in that even the most successful authors (like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, and Jan Karon) aren’t able to reach everyone with their books. And that’s fine; they have developed loyal followings among readers who are committed to them and their books. That’s where their success lies, and even if you’re not a blockbuster breakout success on the scale of a Stephen King, one can learn from that core truth: loyal followings sell books. How, then, do you seek them out? First, ignore all of the white noise, and dispense with the idea that your book is for everyone. There isn’t a book on Earth that’s for everyone. So, who is your book for? What is your intended audience? Start locking in the details, from demographic details like age and occupation to the qualities they look for in books. Define your target audience with care, and with specificity. If you can’t name some specific characteristics, you won’t be able to market to them.
  2. Have you figured out what differentiates your book from the other books available to your target market? Can you tell us why your book is both different from and better than any other book on the market in its genre? Is there a lesson taught in your book? Are your characters easier to relate to? There has to be a reason why readers want to buy your spy thriller instead of the latest from John le Carré. As daunting as it is to consider as a competitor THE AUTHOR who leads the pack in terms of sales in your genre, doing so will help you figure out your book’s strengths. You aren’t just churning out another Vince Flynn action book; you’re publishing a book with its own strengths of plot and character. Find out what makes your book special and use that as your unique value proposition … in marketing as well as every other context.
  3. Have you updated your book marketing plan lately? The book marketing industry, like any other, evolves with blinding speed. If you don’t keep your plans up to date, your plan can easily become irrelevant and your book sales will flag. We recommend that authors review and update their book marketing plan at least once per year, and that they make sure to get other eyes on their plan than their own as well. Having that external insight is vital and important to making sure that every detail of your marketing plan serves a purpose!

Have your book sales been flagging and you can’t figure out why? Visit your Author Center account online at www.outskirtspress.com to explore more marketing options and resources, including the chance to book 5 hours with one of our award-winning Personal Marketing Assistants!

How to Market Your Health & Fitness Book

Have you published a work of non-fiction lately that dealt with health, wellness, fitness, or a lifestyle regimen designed to reshape the body? If you have, you’ll already know how difficult it can be to find and build the perfect marketing strategy to sell your book. The good news is, there are ways and means of doing so, and we’re here to share a few of them with you today! So settle in, warm up your mental muscles, and get ready for our top three tips for marketing your wonderful book!

Tip One: Boost your social media presence!
It’s the future, right? And the future is here, and it demands a fully-fleshed-out social media presence to launch both your personal brand and your book, regardless of its theme or content. Sound basic? It sure is! But there are plenty of ways to leverage your social media preference to the specific end of selling your health or fitness-related book. Consider where your book’s audience lives and works out, and where your readers are most likely to discover new health-related content. Do they use Twitter? Perhaps, but they’re less likely to use twitter than Instagram, where all of those delicious-looking smoothie pictures live, or Pinterest, where those delicious-looking smoothie recipes live. The same goes for pictures of you or your workout buddies, health compatriots, and fellow-travelers; those social media platforms which are image-driven are the most effective tools out there for selling future readers not only on your book but on the lifestyle it represents. Write down a quick schedule (smoothie pictures on Mondays, workout pictures on Wednesdays, game day pictures on Fridays, or whatever works best for you!) and stick to it.

Tip Two: Build your team.
Look, big publishing houses don’t have a patent on teamwork, and as an author concerned with health and wellness, you have just as much of the team-building mindset as anyone! Find a way to engage your customers, past and present and future, in spreading the word about your book by taking your lead from teams in the athletic and health communities … teams like the brand ambassadors for Nike and Adidas, for example: can you get your friends to wear book-branded tee shirts around town? And what about local business owners? If you can get your book into the local gym or health food store, and bring the staff on board as brand ambassadors for your book, that’s a fantastic start! And don’t forget about teams like the loose collections of people who participate in those “like and share” incentives on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and elsewhere. Word of mouth works in both digital and offline spheres!

Tip Three: Integrate, integrate, integrate.
No matter what specific steps you take to market your book, you should make sure they appear to your future readers as smaller parts of a larger, unified whole. Integrated marketing is centered upon crafting unified and seamless content across all of your platforms for communication, including any social media profiles, emails, blog posts, flyers, handouts, and other marketing materials you generate. Your public relations work and your marketing, your sales promotions and giveaways, advertising and store placement, as well as your social media presence, should all work together to build one aesthetic, and communicate one message. That message is your book!

Put these three tips together, and you’ll have a marketing plan with a firm foundation that simply can’t be beat, on the field or off the beaten track! But if you’re still not sure where to start, it may be time to lean on an expert. If you’re looking to market your health and wellness book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire.

Interested in learning more? Log into your Publishing Center and click on the Marketing Solutions menu for more book marketing ideas and services.

To see our staff picks of amazing health & fitness books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

7 Reasons for Self-Published Authors to Give Thanks This Year

As Thanksgiving draws near, it’s time to take stock of everything there is to be grateful for. Family, friends, love, laughter … and the rich life of a self-published author! There’s never been a better time to be an independent author. Here are just a few reasons we’re thankful to be self-publishing in these exciting times:

  1. eBooks. Just having the ability to offer books in an easy-to-order format has opened up a massive sales channel for independent authors. As readers move from hardcopy to electronic books, the ability for anyone to get their book in front of these customers is priceless exposure — and offering an ebook is easy.
  2. Social media. When knocking on doors, making phone calls, buying ads and getting media coverage aren’t on your busy holiday calendar, reaching out to large audiences is still achievable, thanks to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and more. Author pages can be set up quickly, so you can let others know about your book from the comfort of your home.
  3. Author selling page. An author website can be created for free on many drag-and-drop website building platforms. If you only need a selling page, Outskirts Press provides an author webpage to every author who publishes with us. You can easily provide this link to prospective readers so they can purchase your book.
  4. Blogging platforms. The advantage of being an author is that you can put your writing skills to great use in your marketing. A personal or professional blog is a great way to raise your profile online, interact with readers and make valuable connections with others in the publishing industry.
  5. Power of the press. Book announcements have come a long way in recent years. In an instant, a press release distribution service can get your book announcement to thousands of relevant news organizations worldwide. Plus, with the internet as a valuable research tool, an author can very quickly gather specific publications and broadcast media to target with personal contact.
  6. Goodreads. Self-published authors can easily make use of many selling tools on the Goodreads platform to foster relationships with readers, promote their books and sell more copies.
  7. Support when you need it. Traditional publishing houses typically provide a marketing push upon a book’s release but withdraw support as time goes on — especially if a book falls short of lofty sales goals. This doesn’t mean the window for success has closed; it only means the publisher no longer supports the author. When you’re in charge — and, as a self-published author, you are in charge — you have the power to tweak your marketing approach until you find the one that works. It’s never too late to market your way to success!

Clearly, the book marketing game has changed in positive ways … We live in exciting times, indeed. We’re thankful to part of the modern self-publishing renaissance — and thankful for authors like you who are paving the way!

Want to give your self-published book a boost during the holiday book-buying spike? Let Outskirts Press help you market now for a successful season of selling!

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