Why the Holidays Should Be on Your Marketing Radar Now

For many of us, the red-and-green bling and piped-in Christmas music at the local big box store — usually before the kids’ Halloween candy is even inspected — is the first tip-off that the giving season is around the bend. It always seems ridiculously early to think about the holidays … but is it really?

If you’re a self-publishing author with plans to market a book, it’s certainly not. In fact, it should be on your mind now, even as summer is at full sizzle. Let’s work backward on the calendar to illustrate why.

By Black Friday, the official kick-off for holiday shopping, most print news and magazine organizations have already planned and sold out advertising space in their regular editions, gift guides and other special holiday publications. If you want to reserve ad space on time, you’ll need to think one to three months ahead; this means you should have your holiday marketing ducks in a row even before those trick-or-treaters come knocking.

That brings us back to October. By some estimates, one-third of shoppers are already buying gifts in the fall, taking advantage of Labor Day sales when the fervor is less aggressive. This can be a golden time to grab the spotlight with a print ad or polished social media banners with less competition than you’re likely to encounter in December.

To prepare, you should create marketing pieces or work with a copywriter and/or graphic designer in September to have your materials ready in plenty of time for a Labor Day push. Consider it a dry run — a chance to gather valuable data you can use to refine your approach to Christmas. (Then get started on Christmas, asap!)

In the two months leading up to Labor Day, focus on a marketing calendar and budget. Spend August saving your coins, determining your marketing budget, researching where best to allocate your money and drafting a marketing calendar specifically for the holidays.

So, now that you know how short time really is, start planning! You’ll be way ahead of the competition — and, dare we say, far less stressed — by the time your happy holidays roll around.

Want to expedite your marketing plan and marketing calendar? Consider purchasing time with an Outskirts Press
Personal Marketing Assistant for help preparing your holiday promotions.

Six Ways to Market Your Self-Help Book This September!

For many readers, Fall marks the perfect time to kick back, slow down, and pick up a new book or two to savor, whether while celebrating the return of pumpkin spice lattes or taking long strolls among the color-changing leaves … or adhering to the same work schedule as always. Book sales in niche genres, including self-help, spike in the Fall, and for good reason! Whether readers are looking for a change of pace or to prepare themselves for the new year lurking just over the horizon, self-help books are the best possible way to launch into pumpkin spice season. They can be, however, difficult books to market. While massive numbers of self-help books are sold each year, those numbers are not, by and large, coming from standard bookstore sales and standard marketing campaigns.

So how do you market your self-help book effectively? Here are six ways to get underway!

1. Identify your ideal reader. This is a critical step for marketing any kind of book, it’s true, but particularly important when it comes to self-help books as this is considered a niche market. If you don’t know who your readers are, you’ll definitely struggle to market your book to them. Once you’ve established who they are, however, and the kind of habits and values they share, you’ll be able to determine if, for example, they’re likely to need visibility-boosting aids like e-book versions and so forth.

2. Consider creating an e-book version. E-books may have been around a while, but current market trends indicate that they’re going nowhere but up in terms of popularity, even as sales for traditional print rise along with them. With their easily resizable fonts and other tweakable view functions, e-books are critical to readers with limited mobility or impaired vision. If you want to render your lifestyle accessible to oft-neglected readerships, you can’t overlook the importance of e-book editions for the Kindle, iPad, and other tablet and smartphone devices!

3. Consider creating an audiobook version. This is a rapidly growing sector of self-publishing that is still in many ways just getting off the ground, but for all its newness it should not be discounted. Just as e-book versions for the Kindle, iPad, and other kinds of tablets render books more accessible for those of limited mobility or impaired vision, an audiobook version makes your book more accessible to those who would love to learn but whose ability to read a traditional visual format is limited.

4. Identify where your ideal readers live, physically. And where they shop, where they eat, and where they slow down. Are they coffee shop aficionados? Are they likely to shop at whole-foods grocery stores? Are they purveyors of Italian restaurants? If your self-help book relates to financial planning, perhaps you can build relationships with local accounting firms to keep bookmarks featuring your book on the counter. Or if your self-help book relates to nutrition, perhaps the local gyms or health-food stores would do the same. Self-help books each have very specific audiences. The most effective marketing strategies all involve targeted in-person advertising, so it’s best to try and find those places your ideal readers would frequent and market there.

5. Identify where your ideal readers live, digitally. Just as every marketing strategy involves in-person advertising, it must also include effective digital marketing. Some of the same rules apply: self-help books appeal to specific kinds of readers, and those readers probably visit very specific websites, whether forums or blogs or Instagram accounts or shopping sites. It’s always worth approaching the owners of these website, or blogs, and asking if they’d be interested in partnering with you in spreading the word about your book. The worst they can say is no, but chances are, if you put together an effective press release and marketing package, someone influential will say yes. And then you have your foot in the door!

6. Be your own best advocate. All of these tips and tricks we’ve shared today are bound together by the one shared concept of self-advocacy. New ways and means of marketing your book will crop up regularly, as the world changes and the Internet evolves and the ways in which people consume their literature also evolves. The key ingredient of every marketing strategy is you, and cultivating a willingness to go out and observe, identify, and make use of these new ways and means of marketing is crucial to your ongoing success. In this way, marketing your self-help book is just like marketing any other kind of self-published book; this is where the streams cross.

Still not sure where to start in marketing your book this Fall? It may be time to lean on an expert! If you’re looking to market your self-help book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com, where you’ll find countless additional recommendations to suit your marketing needs.

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

5 Ways Authors Can Finish Strong in 2018

It’s hard to believe there are less than five full months left in the year. But for authors trying to sell books, the good news is that those months include the holidays, when die-hard bookworms are gifting and gobbling up books of all kinds.

What that means for you is that opportunities still abound to boost book sales and make 2018 a banner year. If you plan accordingly, your most successful months of selling lay ahead.

For instance, did you know the Reader Views Literary Awards are in December? And is October’s Frankfurt Book Fair on your radar? Put them on your marketing calendar (or get an Author’s Marketing Calendar from Outskirts Press and have important dates like these available to you in an instant).

A well-crafted marketing calendar is priceless. It gives you solid promotion deadlines to meet, keeps important events and benchmarks in one place, and inspires you keep moving toward your marketing goals. Here are five things you can track on your marketing calendar to finish strong in 2018:

  1. Literary contest deadlines. It’s not just important to know when a contest is being held; it s vital to keep track of submission deadlines, too. That way, you can plan ahead to complete submission requirements on time.
  2. Book review opportunities. There may or may not be a firm deadline for a book review. You’ll want to track the ones that do have submission timelines and plan for open-ended reviews in between.
  3. High-profile book expo dates. There are scores of local, regional, national and international book fairs where you can display your book. It helps to research which ones are appropriate for your book genre, what level of exposure to expect and when you need to complete registration.
  4. Smart and doable book marketing prompts. Think about some of the little things you can do in between big events to boost your visibility, such as creating a Pinterest page for your book or acknowledging holidays on social media.
  5. Include resources you can access for more information and assistance. Save links and helpful articles directly to your calendar for future reference. This not only serves as a prompt but keeps you from digging around for the information you need to complete a task.

Needless to say, your marketing plan has a lot of work to do! If you’re not sure how to draft a marketing plan and put it into action, Outskirts Press can help. Or, hire a Personal Marketing Assistant with expertise in promoting all genres of books! As our way of saying thanks, we’ll throw in a FREE 2018 Marketing Calendar when you purchase this or ANY marketing option! Just enter promo code FreeCal2018 at checkout and your calendar will be added to your Author Toolkit within 48 hours.

Now, let’s make 2018 epic!

Four Tricks to Make Your Cookbook Marketing Plan Sizzle

Cookbooks are unique in the publishing world. They’re not quite coffee-table books, even though they rely on visual impact in much the same way, and they’re definitely not like novels, biographies, travelogues, or any of the other genres of book out there, even though they certainly contain elements of all of the above: narrative, history, globetrotting, and personal context abound in cookbooks. As Walt Whitman might say, cookbooks contain multitudes, and this makes marketing them a unique challenge.

Have you written and published a cookbook recently? Here are four tricks to boost your sales of your beautiful, oh-so-personal treasure of a cookbook.

1. Give, give, give.

This one ought to come easy, as cookbooks are already a gift unto the universe, and the act of writing one can often feel like offering up a part of yourself and your personal history for others to make use of. A fantastic way to entice users to purchase your cookbook early on in your marketing strategy is through giveaway promotions. Offering up a discount on your other books or products, especially if they relate to the cookbook’s central theme, is always a good plan. If this is your first book, you may not have other items to discount, but that’s okay! Goodreads and Amazon giveaways are a great way to raise the profile of your book and put its cover before the eyes of new readers, and you can offer a time-restricted discount on the cookbook itself, say for the first week it’s for sale, or around a holiday. Offering a week-long discount is a great way to get people to make the decision to purchase your book. Even though you leave some money on the table in the short term, the boost to your Amazon Sales Rank will allow you to make more in the long run.

2. The giving doesn’t have to stop there.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to cut into your profits from the cookbook, you can offer a unique PDF file with select special recipes not in the cookbook for people who order your cookbook during a certain period. This “bonus” file is often a great way to introduce your next cookbook idea, too; so if you’ve already published a book of entrees, the “bonus” file is a great place to premiere a dessert recipe or two as you start putting together a book of desserts!

In addition to your giveaways and discounts, don’t forget about the other opportunities for giving your readers more of what they want as a way to whet their appetites! Leading up to your book launch is the perfect time to start posting a steady stream of free content from, around, or relating to your cookbook on your blog, author website, and social media platforms. This not only builds anticipation for your book’s release but also adds to your newsletter distribution list, follower counts, and other outreach connections and provides great examples of what your book will be covering. If your book is already out, don’t worry! These strategies still apply after the fact, although the language you use to frame them may change to reflect the context. Instead of building anticipation, your goals and your language can feature select excerpts and reviews from fans. After all, word of mouth is the most effective marketing strategy of all!

3. Partner up.

Working with other cookbook authors is a highly effective way to drive traffic to your own author website, book sales listings, and social media platforms. Food bloggers, after all, more or less rule the Internet, especially on visually-driven platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. You can offer these bloggers and social media stars free copies of your cookbook or the aforementioned “bonus” sample files to give to their readers and as an enticement to partner up for interviews, video spots, and “guest chef” adventures, and you can offer to feature them on your blog or website in return. These partnerships produce material that operates much like a high-powered review would for a more traditional book, and potential customers really appreciate seeing someone they admire and respect confirming their taste and judgment in cookbooks. Better still, if you’re able to organize a blog or social media tour and coordinate all of these articles and video blogs and so forth to come out at the same time, you can create lots of momentum leading up to your launch or an upcoming sale.

4. Don’t be shy.

Selling cookbooks can be difficult. Everyone already has an established sense of what they like when it comes to food, and they very rarely take risks and branch out … unless they hear a good story. Narratives are what capture the cook’s imagination every bit as much as they are what capture the imaginations of readers of novels and biographies and so forth. There’s a reason why Julia Childs became a superstar, and it wasn’t just because she knew her way around the kitchen: she wove stories into her food, and wasn’t shy about what she loved. Successful food bloggers today are the same way!

It’s so easy to be shy about selling a cookbook. After all, you’re trying to sell your own personal story as well as your favorite recipes! But in the end, it’s the story which will grab peoples’ attention–the story, plus some beautiful photographs or illustrations, and competent recipes. But mostly the story. If you want to sell your cookbook, you need to be up front about how much you love what you do, and how much you love your cookbook, and how this cookbook of yours is a part of your life. Your wonderful, magnificent, flavorful life!

Still not sure where to start in marketing your cookbook? It may be time to lean on an expert! If you’re looking to market your cookbook, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com, where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs.

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

Summer Series – Marketing Your Book on Amazon – Part 3

Welcome to Part Three of a three-part summer series focusing on successfully and efficiently marketing your book on Amazon. In Part One we discussed writing reviews for other products and books and explained why it is an important part of book marketing. Last time in Part Two we discussed three different techniques for soliciting reviews for your book and how to do it properly. Part Three will introduce you to three fun and interactive steps you can take right now to improve how Amazon’s search algorithm identifies your book.

Part Three: Using Reviews to Create “Activity” Around Your Book on Amazon

There are two obvious components to using reviews to generate book sales on Amazon — writing reviews and getting reviews. But there are also lesser-known elements of online reviews, and those are what we will discuss today. You see, Amazon rewards “activity” around your book by pushing it higher in its search results, because online activity signifies interest, and Amazon displays search results based upon what it “thinks” people are most likely to buy. So by including these steps in your ongoing “Review Process”, you tell Amazon’s program (algorithm) to “weigh” your book heavier than other books or products where these other steps are not being taken.

Step 1 – Indicate that positive reviews for your book are helpful. Each Amazon review includes a question that says “Was this review helpful to you? Yes or No.” As you receive new reviews, indicate that the positive reviews are helpful.

Step 2 – Every time you ask someone to write an online review for your book, also ask that they indicate other positive reviews as helpful. Clicking that little “Yes” button is fast and even kind of fun!

Step 3 – Comment on every review you receive for your book. If you receive a positive review, thank the reviewer for reading your book and for taking the time to write a review. It will encourage OTHER people to buy, read, and review your book. Bonus: If you’ve written another book, different from the book being reviewed, sign-off your comment with “your name, author of the new book, such-and-such.”

If you receive a negative review, ask yourself if you can address the negativity in a positive, non-confrontational or defensive manner. If you can’t, then simply ignore the review (being defensive or argumentative here will do more harm than good). If you can diplomatically and politely address the negative review, do so in a positive, and brief, manner.

If your book is receiving more negative reviews than positive ones, take note! Those comments may not feel like it at the time, but they’re worth their weight in gold. Save all of the feedback you receive and start working on a NEWLY-REVISED edition of your book. There’s nothing quite as rewarding as using the “Insert Product Link” (discussed in Part One) to point a negative reviewer to your newly revised book that incorporates their criticism. Why? Because nine times out of ten, they’re going to buy the book again just to see if you listened to them. Cha-ching!

Five Fearless Tips to Market Your Fantasy or Science Fiction Book

For many readers, summer marks the perfect time to slow down and pick up a new book or two to savor, whether basking in the sun on the beach or camping in alpine meadows … or adhering to the same work schedule as always. Book sales in the fiction genre, including science fiction and fantasy, spike at this time of year, and for good reason! Whether readers are looking for their next travel-friendly book or for a way to escape when they’re stuck in place, the fantastical and the technological sublime are the perfect escape valve.

They’re also, sometimes, difficult books to market. Both science fiction and fantasy qualify as “genre fiction,” and while massive numbers of science fiction and fantasy books are sold each year, those numbers are not, by and large, coming from standard bookstore sales and standard marketing campaigns. If you’ve recently published a work of science fiction or fantasy yourself, you’re probably already aware of the fact that your ideal readers, while incredibly loyal, can be difficult to reach.

So how do you market to them effectively? Here are five fearless ideas to get you started.

1. Publish an ebook edition.

Nothing appeals to readers of genre fiction quite as much as accessibility, transportability, and ease of use. After all, many of your readers are on the move at this time of year, and the others are likely too busy to bother with shopping at physical stores every time they want a new science fiction or fantasy book, which is on average more frequently than readers of pretty much any other genre when you consider the numbers. If you want your book to be easy to find and easy to buy, you absolutely must consider investing in an ebook edition of your book if you haven’t already. You can promote the release of your new ebook edition on your website, blog, and social media sites, and even offer an e-giveaway to boost traffic and engagement on all of the above websites!

2. Get thee to social media, STAT.

It naturally follows that you need to be online, and you need to have a robust digital footprint. Readers of science fiction and fantasy, once they fall in love with a book of yours, will want to engage with you online. And most, if not all, of the top science fiction and fantasy authors are already online, so rounding out your social media platforms isn’t so much giving you a foot up over the competition as it is leveling the playing field. Luckily, plenty of established authors love to network and boost their fellow authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere, so don’t forget to follow your favorites and interact with their tweets and posts. They are likely to respond, follow you back, and help get news of your latest book out there. Perhaps it’s a legacy from the difficult, hard-boiled bootstrap days that current science fiction and fantasy authors went through in the 1980s and 1990s, but science fiction and fantasy authors tend to be more supportive and collaborative than authors in many other genres. And don’t forget about Reddit! Many of your ideal, technologically-savvy readers are to be found on that website, debating upcoming releases and the details of their current favorites.

3. Make sure your book cover is on point.

Each genre has a kind of shared visual vocabulary, and when you peruse the shelves of your local bookstore or web-based sales platform, it’s easy to see just how the vocabulary differs from one genre to another. Can you guess which of the five book covers we’ve included at the top of this post are science fiction and which are fantasy? Here’s a hint: there’s a lot to do with the font, the imagery, and the prominence given to the title. And here’s the thing: the difference between your average science fiction and your average fantasy book cover is much less pronounced than the difference between covers in these genres as compared to books in other genres, such as crime fiction and romance. When you set out to design your book’s cover, or hire an expert to do so, spend some time analyzing what makes for particularly eye-catching book covers in your chosen genre … and make sure to include some of those same visual cues in yours! In the end, readers do tend to judge a book by its cover, at least a little, especially when they already know what they like and are looking for books which may do something similarly and well.

4. Find your nearest convention.

Here’s the flipside to the whole “ease of access, go digital” coin: many readers in the science fiction and fantasy genres love to discover new books in person, too. And there’s no better way to identify your local genre-lovers than to attend your nearest convention! While many of these are still classified as “comic cons,” most conventions have expanded their offerings to include all things science fiction and fantasy, and many will actively solicit vendors and presenters from creators within these genres. Many of the biggest conventions may be too expensive to afford vendor privileges (including the San Diego Comic Con, Dragon Con, and the Denver Comic Con), there are always plenty of smaller conventions with more reasonable fees taking place around the country at the city or regional level. Hop online and search for events happening in your area, and reach out to the event organizers to inquire about pricing and ways to promote your book. Even if you only break even on sales at one of these conventions, you’ll have raised a great deal of awareness about your book, which can have cascading positive repercussions for your marketing strategy. And most often, you’ll do much better than simply breaking even!

5. Reach out to the genre gatekeepers.

Convention organizers are only one category of important gatekeepers you need to be reaching out to if you truly want to boost sales of your science fiction or fantasy book! Many readers in these genres find their books by word of mouth, and from their favorite online content providers, including pop culture bloggers, vloggers, reviewers, and podcasters. Do some research into the most popular personalities in all four of these categories. And once you’ve identified them, use your social media platforms to engage with them. Once you have established some sort of digital handshake, you can reach out to them to request a shout-out on Twitter or a review of your book. Even if not every one of these genre gatekeepers has the time to do so, it’s likely that at least one of them will be interested if you truly do your research and contact all of the likely candidates. All it takes is one positive response to get the ball rolling!

Still not sure where to start in marketing your book this summer? It may be time to lean on an expert! If you’re looking to market your science fiction or fantasy book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com or access our wonderful free resource center at http://anyflip.com/bookcase/mhpb, where you’ll find countless further recommendations to suit your marketing needs.

To see our staff picks of amazing science fiction and fantasy books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

 

Marketing Your Book on Amazon – Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Part Two of a three-part summer series focusing on successfully and efficiently marketing your book on Amazon. Last time in Part One we discussed writing reviews for other products and books and explained why it is an important part of book marketing. Part two will discuss soliciting reviews for your book and how to do it properly. Part three will explain why reviews (both giving and receiving) can “tilt” Amazon’s search algorithm in your favor and how you can tilt it further by taking other simple steps.

Part Two: Soliciting Reviews For Your Book

Once your book is published and available for sale on Amazon, one of the first things you need to focus on is getting (positive) Amazon book reviews. “Positive” is in parentheses because it is typically frowned upon to out-and-out ask for a “positive” book review, but let’s face it — only the positive ones are doing you any good! So that’s certainly your goal — acquiring book reviews in the 4-5 star range. Ultimately, however, as you get more Amazon reviews, your average star-rating will be out of your control. So, all you can really do is seek out Amazon book reviews via the methods below, and hope your book is good enough to secure the “positive” reviews you need. Here are three great ways to get reviews:

1. Reviews in Exchange for Free Copies

A widely accepted and common practice for acquiring Amazon book reviews is giving away copies of your book in exchange for reviews. This is usually the most successful when performed in person, when you literally hand a paperback or hardback copy of your book to someone you know and say something like: “If you enjoy this, I would really appreciate it if you could post your review on Amazon.”

Offer to sign it. Then write something like, “I hope you enjoy this! ” as a “subtle” reminder. Not everyone you give your book to will write a review for it, but this has a high ratio of success. Obviously, the better you know someone, the more likely it is they will write a review. You can limit the number of free copies you give away by only offering copies to people who will appreciate or value your book. Don’t give your hardcore horror novel to your grandmother, for example (unless you happen to know that’s her cup of tea).

You can also do this online by offering your ebook edition to a community of readers in exchange for a review. Facebook is full of communities with this purpose, and Goodreads is another good choice.

2. Reviews in Exchange for Reviews

If you’re at an author event and you are following the suggestion above by handing out copies of your book for reviews, don’t be surprised to be on the receiving end of a similar request. This is a stroke of luck! Other authors are your most likely candidates for a book review, because they want you to write a review of their book, too. Swap copies, vow to swap reviews, and sign each other’s books! This type of networking is part of the benefits of being a published writer; take advantage of it by broadening your reading library, widening your network of colleagues, and increasing the number of reviews you receive.

Again, you can also do this online, where you offer to swap reviews with other writers. How do you suggest an online review swap? By asking for one. “Hello, I’m so-and-so, author of such-and-such, and if you’d like to swap Amazon book reviews, please get in touch with me.” You can either vow to purchase each other’s books (thereby increasing your respective best sellers rank and getting your author royalties back), or you can exchange digital editions.

This is a great way to build camaraderie in your writing community, but only if you follow through. Don’t participate if you don’t intend on fulfilling your end of the bargain (i.e., purchasing the book, providing the e-book, or writing your reciprocal review). It only take one rotten apple to ruin the bushel.

3. Amazon’s Top Reviewers

Contacting other readers within reading communities is all well and good, but what would be even better? Contacting REVIEWERS within reviewing communities! Reviewing communities? Is there such a thing? Not only is there such a thing, there is the best thing — a community of the top reviewers on Amazon. These are the individuals that Amazon has identified as consistently writing the most frequent, most helpful reviews.

There are two different listings of Amazon’s top reviewers: A listing of Amazon’s “Hall of Fame Reviewers” and a listing of Amazon’s “Top Reviewer Rankings.” You can find both lists at http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers.

Being identified as a “Top Reviewer” is a lifestyle for some of these individuals, and the only way they can maintain their ranking is by continuing to write reviews. That means they are highly motivated!

Some of them are impossible to contact; others are not. Some of them are very specific about the types of products they review; others are not. Some of them provide very specific instructions for how to solicit a review; others do not.

But if you start at the top of each list and work your way down through the profiles of each reviewer, you will identify candidates for your book review. Pay attention to the types of books they enjoy, since your chances of receiving a (positive) review will increase dramatically if you send them the type/genre of book they’ve reviewed positively in the past. Follow their instructions for contacting them to the letter, and always be respectful.

Stay tuned for Part Three where we explain how “activity” around your book can improve your Amazon search rankings. And, if you missed Part One, click here.