Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book Reviews & Marketing Ideas for Newbies

Fitz says HI!
Hi All,

I just wanted share with you the ideas and resources I've collected over the months as I took the journey to becoming a self-published author. I wish I knew these before I published Violet Storm, but it's never too late to learn.

It's not an easy workload. The hardest part is undoubtedly writing, editing, and polishing your novel, but after that comes marketing and advertising. Many of us are fortunate to have publishers who can help in this area, but even then, a lot of the work is pushed by the author to help spread the word.

Here are a few things on my massive list that have worked well, including some that have not:

  1. Editorial Review services that I pursued: 
    • San Francisco Book Reviews: (cost $125, 8-10 weeks) - Great service, quick to respond, and the review was amazing. They gave VS 4 stars! See the review here
    • Readers' Favorite: (cost $129 for 3 reviews, 2-3 weeks) - Great service, super fast, and the review was amazing. You can choose to have 1 review for a cheaper cost. I benefited from purchasing 3 reviews because the second reviewer loved my book and gave it a phenomenal 5-star rating! The other two rated it 4 stars. See the reviews here
    • Publishers Weekly: (cost $149, 8-10 weeks) - I would not recommend PW to other indie authors because although you pay to submit your novel, it is not guaranteed that they will read and review it. Which happened in my case. I lost two novels (which the submission required plus a hefty $149). They mentioned VS online here. That was what $149 and 2 books purchased…
    • Why pay for editorial reviews? I found them to be a great way to get renowned editorial magazines to give honest reviews. Plus it also included advertising. Review + advertising equalled a good investment for unknown author like me. 
    • Other editorial reviewers to consider: Kirkus ($425, 7-9 weeks), BlueInk Review ($395, 7-9 weeks), Self-Publishing Review ($59, $109, or $249). I did not pursue Kirkus or BlueInk because they were absurdly expensive and didn't seem worth the cost when considering my budget.
  2. Competitions that I pursued: 
    • Writer's Digest 2014 Self-published Book Awards (cost $110)
    • There are a few others I'm considering for 2015 which I'll list at a later date
  3. Book Signings:
    • These were terrifying and by far the most anxiety ridden. I've hosted two book signings with the help of my family and friends and sold close to fifty books. Plus who knows if it generated any additional leads. 
  4. Bookstores:
    • Some bookstores have programs for local indie authors. It doesn't hurt to ask, even if it feels daunting or embarrassing. I went to a renowned local children's bookstore, Hicklebee's and they agreed to put my books on the shelf. For a small fee they advertise and host a local author event that is sure to generate some buzz. I'll keep you posted on how that goes! The Author Event is slated for Aug. 23rd. 
  5. Blog Tours:
    • I first learned of blog tours through my good author friend, Meradeth Houston, for her latest publication, "Surrender the Sky." After Googling top Blog Tour sites, I decided on Xpress Book Tours. Giselle is great to work with and I feel like my tour is in good hands. 

I have a long list of ideas that I didn't pursue but am keeping on my radar. I'll share those on another blog. 

Other creative endeavors in the area of marketing and advertising:
  1. Author Interview Videos: check out my Facebook Page for examples. They were quick 2-4 min. videos on various topics. They give the readers a chance to get to know the author and their creative process, as well as talk about the novel. 
  2. Promotional material: I used Moo and worked with an artist and a graphic designer to help create polished material. This sounds expensive, and to some extent it was. But utilize your network (friends and family) who can give you a discount on their services. :) It never hurts to ask for help!
    • Flyers and Promotional cards, both of which I try to keep with me at all times and hand out and post them up when the opportunity arises. I was recommended by a fellow blogger and author to mail them to libraries with a personalized note. 
    • Want to work with a great illustrator and/or a graphic designer? Reach out to Kyle Van Meurs (kwvanmeurs@gmail.com) for great art, and Jason Rought (jasonrought@gmail.com) for graphic design. Let them know I referred you! I worked with them in individual capacities on my book cover, promo materials, flyers, and even my logo!
  3. Rafflecopter: it has been so useful in engaging readers of my blog and gaining new interest from fellow blog hoppers. 
  4. Excerpts: create short excerpts and even meme's, using a well designed app. I use Chisel, and I love it!
  5. Newsletters: I'm signed up with MailChimp, I haven't utilized it much, but my designer was able to create a beautiful newsletter with the same theme as my flyer.  
  6. Lookbooks: after visiting fellow bloggers SashandEm I was inspired to create my own looks for my characters. Check out: Aeva, Karth
That's my list for now. Check out fellow blogger, Leandra Wallace, who's written a list of creative "Things She Would Do" to market and advertise her current WIP. 

Promo Card #1
Promo Card #2

My flyer (back and front). And of course Fitz wants to inspect them. 
Here's a sample of what I've created using Chisel. It's SO easy. 

Would LOVE to hear from my fellow authors and bloggers on any other avenues that benefited them. I am always on the lookout for new ideas. Thanks in advance! :)

23 comments:

  1. Wow, that's an impressive list. I didn't even know most of those services existed. Hope they all work out well for you. I read your book and enjoyed it very much!

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    1. Thank you Sarah! :D I still can't get over how exciting it is to hear that people enjoyed the book. Thanks for checking it out!

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  2. This is a great rundown of the things that worked (and didn't work) for you. Well done!

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    1. Thanks Maria! :) It was daunting at first, for sure. But I'm hopeful that the next round won't be nearly as terrifying.

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  3. Shared!! I love all the pics of your stuff. Man I'd love to get to this stage, but I'm drowning in editing!

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    1. Thank you Shay! Editing is still the hardest part. It can be so fun at times, but if there's a big enough problem with the MS, it can be a HUGE task. Best of luck, my friend. I know you can get through it! :D

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  4. Yay! You know I love getting to read stuff like this. I've got some more stuff to add for my 'one day' now. And what you created using Chisel looks super good. *furiously scribbles down notes.* I'm so excited for you for your book event at Hicklebee's. Not to put even more pressure on you- but I hope you get some pics! =D And lastly, Fizz has lovely golden eyes. He's pretty darn cute. (and I'm sure he knows it)

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    1. Awesome! Chisel has been super easy to use and I love that you can add logo's or additional images overlaying the background. I'll definitely try to post up some pic's from the Hicklebee's event! :D About Fitz, just the other day I thought about how much he sort of looks like a wolf-kitty. And sure enough, there's such a thing...Mind blown.

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  5. I was asked to judge those Writer's Digest awards this year! 35 books in one month. EXHAUSTING. But it is definitely a great contest. I didn't realize the fee was that high!

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    1. Oh wow! It sounds incredibly exhausting. I can't imagine going through 35 books in one month. The fee does seem a bit high, but it is much cheaper than Indie Reader's contest which runs at about $150+.

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    2. Exhausting doesn't cover it. I probably won't do it again...people don't really understand that I run a freelance writing business that takes up about 40-60 (sometimes more) hours a week. They think I just write children's books and that pays the bills, I guess? Maybe most fiction writers are married to rich men! Apparently other authors do this every year with no problem.

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    3. I absolutely understand just what kind of juggling that must take. And it's your own business no less. The massive amount of operation and organizing alone sounds daunting. I have a full-time job to help sustain me through this transition (as a serious novelist). And married to a rich man...wouldn't that have been a nice dream. ;)

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  6. YAY FITZ!!!! Still so darn cute :) Thanks for the fix today!

    And thank you for this awesome, helpful list. I love how willing everyone is to share their experiences, to learn what worked and what didn't. I'm bookmarking this post!

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  7. Great post! I'm going to have to bookmark it and refer others here. You've given me food for thought...although I'm not sure if my brain will thank or curse you at the moment. ;)

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    1. LOL Sounds like we need a round of cheese and wine. I'll bring the wine and you can bring what's left of your cheese reserves.

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    2. That works for me--as long as you don't mind me sneaking in my apple cider too. Mmm...apple cider and cheese...

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  8. Oh my goodness, Fitz is adorable!! Most excellent post--I'm totally going to check out Chisel :) And thanks for the shout-out! Xpresso is awesome and Giselle was so amazing!! It makes me so happy to see things going well for you!

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    1. LOL! He is terribly cute, and terribly monstrous when he's in the mood. Definitely check out Chisel. I was peeved at first to have to create an account, but I later realized that it was so handy have a history and record of my past creations. Thank you for getting me on Xpresso! And things are so-so, just got to keep chugging along. Little bits here and there. Trying to follow in your footsteps. You've written so many books and recently got a publishing contract--congrats my friend! :D

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    2. Well I think I need to be following in your sales footsteps, as well as all your awesome reviews :) But keeping writing is important--it's what I'm in this for at least!

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    3. Absolutely! I saw that you've got a placeholder on your blog for your upcoming novel. You are a writing machine. I've got to be more disciplined like you. I get burned out so quickly these days. I've got some time off next week which I hope to spend writing away! ;)

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  9. Anna, you give awesome advice! I've paid for a few reviews for my children's book but mostly were giveaways for busy parenting blogs and book reviewers. You have to definitely put the research in before you decide where to spend your money.
    I learned so much after self-publishing my children's book. My only regret is that I wish I had done the research before I published instead of taking publishing seminars and classes just a few months prior. But I'm very pleased with the outcome of my decision to self-publish because it's enabled me to establish myself within the school system... and this is something I wouldn't trade for the world.
    And you are absolutely right! So much work goes into the marketing, promoting and advertising of self-published books. We are not only the authors, but we represent ourselves through book signings, author interviews, author visits, etc. And it's our responsibility to put ourselves out there and make the vital connections we need for our beloved books to get into the hands of our readers.
    Great post, Anna! Loved it.

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    1. Hi Gina! Your message really hit home. There are definitely a lot of things I wish I'd done all before having self-published. It really is a tremendous project, and one that has a high learning curve. I agree with you that it's absolutely our responsibility to put ourselves out there. It's not the easiest part, in fact, it's terribly difficult--more so than writing a children's book or a novel! There is so much that goes into it, but what an incredible test it's been and I don't regret a single moment of it. I learned a lot about myself and just how passionate I am about writing. :)

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