Book Marketing: How the Cover of Your Self-published Book Influences Your Brand as an Indie Author

ALLi Partner Member Aimee Coveney provides a useful overview of the impact of a self-published book’s cover not only on its sales success but also on an important long-term consideration: the establishment and promotion of your brand as an indie author. What she has to say also holds true for books published by trade publishing houses. Over to Aimee…

Over the years as a cover designer, I have often spoken with authors about their brand, and on occasions I have received very quizzical looks, but it is in fact something that should be included early in your career plan as a writer.

A strong brand helps an author in the same way it helps any organisation: it gives your name recognition and helps to sell your work.

The significance of visual marketing and design is forever stronger within all industries, but with online portfolios making artists more accessible, the standard of book covers in self-publishing has hit an all-time high and subsequently increased competition for authors too.

What is an Author Brand Anyway?

The concept of an author brand is sometimes misunderstood, and it is a large topic to cover:

  • It’s not just about the genres you write in, it’s about how you represent yourself to the entire industry and create a recognisable and trusted name.
  • A brand is about how you want your audience to perceive you as a person and a professional.
  • A brand can create an umbrella for all you do, whether that’s working in different fields, or writing in different genres.

Why Book Cover Branding is Important

For new readers, your book cover is more often than not the first introduction to your brand and your work as a whole.

The average customer spends eight seconds looking at the front cover of a book and fifteen on the back.

Customers buying online may spend even less time than this, so you can see why a high standard of cover is so vital.

It’s important to ensure that your book cover not only visually represents your writing and the story it envelops, but also your brand, so that new readers have an idea of what your work will be like and existing readers can recognise books as yours.

Strongly branded book covers can also have a huge, positive impact on your chance on gaining media attention or getting bookstores interested in stocking your books – not always easy for self-published authors. You must remember that the industry is inundated with books every day. Bookstore buyers may not necessarily be opposed to self-published books, but they know all too well that it’s the cover and brand that sells and if that’s weak, then stocking it wouldn’t make business sense. Unfortunately the use of unprofessional covers can harm the reputation of the self-publishing sector.

In a study of booksellers’ assessments of publisher marketing efforts, 75% of 300 surveyed said that of all the elements of the book itself, the look and design of the cover was the most important.

The cover of a book is thus prime real estate for promoting a book and your brand.

How Effective Cover Branding Helps Reach Your Previous Readers

It’s important as an author to reach previous readers, and one way this is easily achieved is through a recognisable, branded design. If an author has received a good response from their previous work, they may assume that their next book will do equally well, if not better. But what if your readers do not recognise your latest book? The right visual connection on the cover will ensure they do. That recognition factor is vital, and it is what sells books every day.

The same can be said for booksellers. If they can easily identify from your covers that you are an author whose previous books sold well, they’re more likely to stock your books again. If the cover is not strongly branded, they may not remember your earlier books’ popularity.

What About Cover Redesigns?

That’s not to say that a redesign isn’t a good idea. If your design and brand is not up to standard, a complete brand overhaul can be a great piece of PR. Also, cover designs date quickly. The big publishing houses frequently issue new covers even for books that have been selling well under the old covers, so don’t feel that you must stick with the cover under which your book was launched. Changing covers can change the fortunes of a book entirely. (For more on this topic, see the related post at the foot of this page.)

Top Tips for Your Cover Branding

Brand identity is now more important than ever for authors, but it doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. Here are the essentials:

  • a strong, unique font for your author name and book title
  • similar illustrations or image styles for each book
  • consistent layout
  • similar use of colour

Next time you are working on a cover design, remember to ask yourself and a qualified focus group how it’s representing your brand as well as the individual book.

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Book Marketing: How to Use MailChimp and Bookfunnel to Grow Your Author Mailing List

creatively-corporate-newsletterIt’s received wisdom in the world of self-publishing that authors should strive to develop email lists of readers interested in their writing. Author design consultant and ALLi partner member Aimee Coveney describes the mechanics of a simple, affordable way to do so: setting up free ebook giveaways to attract signings, using a winning combination of MailChimp and Bookfunnel.

While you may not have the intention of sending newsletters on a weekly or even monthly basis, when you have a new book available, what easier way is there to share the news with your existing audience? It’s therefore well worth going to the trouble of attracting new subscribers to your mailing list.

Yet with many people tiring of overflowing inboxes, it’s becoming more difficult to tempt readers to sign up to author newsletters. Promising free books or sample chapters on sign-up, via your website or social media, is by far the best and cheapest option to get them to subscribe.

Whilst researching options for a recent website design client, I soon became aware of why so many authors rarely get off the starting blocks with this style of promotion: it can appear a very daunting process, with so many options for both newsletters and file hosting.

Simple Solution: #1 MailChimp

Mailchimp, which seems to be amongst the most popular newsletter providers, offers an excellent and easy-to-use system. It allows you to create sign-up forms in several different formats, including some which embed easily within your website or blog. It also provides a simple link for use on social media etc. All you need to do is sign up for the free account, create your mailing list(s) and customise your settings. Mailchimp is very user-friendly and is a fairly step-by-step process.

What’s not so easy is using MailChimp to send an automated message with your book’s file, especially if you want to offer the reader a choice of ebook format. Sending new subscribers a generalised format, such as PDF, has limited value, as it makes reading the file more difficult. Every reader has their own preferred reading device or app, and it is helpful and courteous to offer your free book in their favoured format.

Simple Solution #2: Bookfunnel

bookfunnel logoBy using a second service, Bookfunnel, in combination with MailChimp, you can offer electronic books in several different formats.

Bookfunnel is a great concept.  For as little as $20 a year, you can upload and share up to 500 copies of your books per month – ideal for those starting out or even longer term. The website is also easy to use, allowing you to simply upload the file copies of your books in several different formats. Bookfunnel then generates the books as downloadable files, providing readers with the format options they need via a simple link. This link can then be placed in the ‘thank you’ message of your newsletter sign up, providing your readers with the book instantly in their preferred format, without the need for expensive software.

You’re able to use Bookfunnel in combination with the free Mailchimp account, so it’s ideal for authors who simply want to test the waters.

As your mailing list builds, you have the option to upgrade, but you will probably find the free version adequate to start with. And if you reach the point of demand outstripping the limits of the free version, your book sales will by then most likely cover the cost of the upgrade – problem solved!

OVER TO YOU Do you have any tips to add to Aimee’s instructions? Do you have an alternative solution to share? We’d love to know!

 

This article was originally posted on: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/using-mailchimp-and-bookfunnel-to-grow-mailing-lists/

Which Social Media Channels Should An Author Use?

As an author in today’s marketplace, you will often hear the success stories of book sales after strong social media campaigns, but it can be hard to know where to start and whether the input will be worthwhile. There are many elements that contribute to a successful social media campaign and continual promotion of your work, but one aspect that many don’t consider is which social media channels to choose.

The truth is that picking the most obvious or as many as possible will not always work to your advantage. Your choice should depend on your goals and your audience, not on your personal preference for a particular network. And you certainly don’t need to be on every channel, just the right ones. If your goal is to build a fan base and create sales rather than casual interaction with some of your readers, you will definitely want to check that you have considered the following.

Your Audience
To start you will need to gather information on who your target market is. Some simple elements to consider are gender, age and location. Once you have this information, you can begin to use this to find the best social media channels to fit your audience demographic. People are naturally curious about authors, as though they are a mystical beings, and so it is now very popular for readers to search and connect online.

Network Styles
Each network has a very different behavioural basis. The basis of the network and the demographic of people who use it dictates how it is used and who it is suited to. To give you an idea, a rough guide is detailed below.

  • Facebook
    Facebook is used by an astonishing 71% of online adults, mainly to share snippets of their lives with family and friends. There is however a strong recommendation and ‘sharability’ factor that authors and millions of businesses take advantage of.  Facebook has the best demographic spread of any network online, attracting both younger and more mature users.
  • Twitter
    Twitter is a real-time network, with a limited space for posting. This is ideal for those who have less time and want to share and read short, sharp pieces of information. 26% of the adult population hold an account, being favoured by youth and those you frequent the internet more regularly.
  • Google+
    Google+ offers a lot of the same features as facebook but at the moment remains less popular. Having said this, many authors find it useful and there is an argument that marketing on a network with less competition is of more use. Google+ also encourages users to connect over common interests, rather than just being friends and family, which narrows down your search for potential readers and those in the industry. It’s about meeting new people who love the same things you do. It has a high male demographic, with those over 40 being the fastest number of growing users .
  • Youtube
    Video media has taken a huge boost in popularity among authors in the last couple of years. Youtube therefore offers authors a great way to display various videos online to a vast audience. It is hugely popular for ‘how-to’ videos, and therefore highly ideal for non-fiction authors as well as those looking to distribute book trailers, interviews and advice pieces. It’s less of a place to connect, but with video being such a useful tool in marketing, it’s well worth considering. To read more information on video media for authors click here.
  • Instagram
    Instagram is a picture/photo based network, with real-time engagement, much like Twitter. It tends to attract a much younger audience, but is being picked up by more and more businesses who use it as a marketing catalogue or diary. Authors can post photos of their readers with their books across the globe, inspirational places or objects as well as events and book signings.
  • Linkedin
    Linkedin has often had the reputation as a simple network to upload your CV and achievements, but more recently it enabled a newsboard type feature. It’s ideal for non-fiction writers who want to connect with others in a particular field and further their expertise and reputation. As a fiction author you may be interested in being booked for speaking engagements, and this is also a great place to connect with those in the publishing industry. Linkedin is popular with a more mature demographic.
  • Pinterest
    Pinterest is similar to Instagram, as an image based network. It does however allow visitors to see ‘moodboards’ of your photos, allowing you to keep more of your content visible for longer.  It’s mostly popular with women over the age of 25 but that gender gap is getting smaller. Pinterest is working hard to better its commerce side of the business and is looking to soon allow users to link to purchase things within their photo collections.
  • Snapchat
    Snapchat is an instant photo based network which allows users to snap a photo and share, however the image only stays visible for a short amount of time. It is highly popular among a very young demographic so may be ideal for authors of YA fiction. It is the new kid on the block as far as social media is concerned, but became very popular very quickly.

Social Media Strategies

Now that you have a good idea of who your target audience is, and which social media channels they are likely to use, you can begin to put together a social media strategy. Start by selecting the best channels suited to your readership and yourself. There is little point opening every account possible if you have little time to update them and market successfully. You will gain a much better response if you concentrate on the few, rather than neglect the many.

You will also want to consider the times to post on social media. If you are attempting to attract a global fan-base, you will need to post in real-time for those who are overseas to gain the best possible chance of them viewing your material. If you are looking to attract an adult market, consider posting early morning and evening during commuter times as well as in the evenings for those who work. It is often a case of trial and error, but many of these platforms now offer a free analytics feature to show you how many impressions your posts have made and so you can very quickly grasp the best time to be online.

If you have any questions about social media, social media campaigns or training please do get in touch via www.authordesignstudio.com

How to Use Book Trailers for Successful Book Marketing

Design consultant and ALLi Partner Member Aimee Coveney considers the benefits of video book trailers to promote self-published books, shares top tips on how to make them, and offers eight ways to put them to good use.

Video media is causing quite a stir in today’s book industry. Online promotion is highly effective in reaching a wide audience, and sharable media, such as videos, play a key role in gaining attention for many professionals. With that being the case, video media and, subsequently, book trailers have become increasingly popular amongst readers, authors and publishers. They are however, still held with some scepticism, many claiming they are simply ‘author bling’. This is due mostly to the amount of poorly produced examples there are, and the lack of knowledge in creating that buzz.

  • Some authors and readers feel strongly that book trailers invade on an otherwise traditional medium of words and imagination.
  • On the other hand, video is a proven method of marketing, and authors need to cater for all readers, both traditional and those that embrace the shift into a digital reading age.

What’s the Point of Book Trailers?

Book trailers bring your work to life in a way that many authors dream about during the writing process. With visual elements on the internet bringing in far more interaction than those websites without, book trailers can now play a huge role in your online platform.

The elements of your book trailer should be striking and professional. Images, video footage and music can be sourced online, although it is imperative to ensure they are appropriate for your work. Having a well-thought-out script, and putting these elements together effectively, is key. Having image and text appear one after the other can appear lacklustre and outdated. Smooth and creative effects are vital in creating a professional finish.

If you’re not able to employ a professional, ensure you watch other successful book or movie trailers to get a sense of how they are put together.

How Long Should a Book Trailer Be?

Duration is significant. Many authors are very passionate and have a lot that they wish to include. The longer the video, however, the less likely it is that people will watch to completion, and they may even lose interest. A length of between one and one and a half minutes is about right.

Eight Ways to Use Your Book Trailer

Once you have a completed book trailer. it is imperative to distribute it effectively. A professional should let you know if this is included in their service.

  • Uploading your video to Youtube is only the first step. When uploading, be sure to include keyword tags, a clear title and description  so that your video is easy to find.
  • Having your book trailer on your website home page can also increase the length of time visitors remain on your site by up to 88%.
  • Sharing via social media is also effective, as many of your existing readers will have already connected with you through these channels, and the shareable nature of videos makes it very easy for others to spread the word for you.
  • Keep it visible during promotion by pinning it to the top of your social media pages.
  • Amazon and Goodreeds will also allow you to upload a book trailer directly onto your author profile and book’s page, meaning you have further means to capture reader’s attention.
  • There are also book trailer dedicated websites including www.bookreels.com that drive traffic to specific genres.
  • You need to think strategically about placing the trailer on sites where your book-buyers frequent. If you have articles or a blog tour where you can increase the chances of your book trailer being seen and shared, be sure to let the site owners know that they can embed the book trailer to gather interest.
  • Lastly, if your existing books are available on Kindle, you can easily include a link to your book trailers at the end, tempting readers to immediately purchase the next in the series or your most recent offering.

A good book trailer should not tell the entire contents of the book. Instead it should create suspense and visually stimulate the reader, enticing them to make a purchase, or at the very least, keep them interested in your work in the future. This growth in book trailers is allowing authors to reach a widening audience, and keeping your name visible in an overcrowded market.

OVER TO YOU What’s your experience been of book trailers – good or bad? Do you have great tips to share? We’d love to know!

 

Article originally posted at http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/how-to-use-book-trailers-for-successful-book-marketing/?platform=hootsuite

Don’t Go It Alone – Create A Successful Publishing Team

teamLast week I received a couple of emails from authors asking for updates to their websites. Nothing out of the ordinary for my line of work. Except that I suddenly realised that these two authors were in fact the very first authors I ever worked with, many years ago. I am proud to still be working with them and that we have built such a strong working relationship.

On the same day I read an article on the modern publishing industry and how creating good books is no longer about simply deciding on a publishing route and waiting for sales. In today’s marketplace there is a much bigger demand on authors, regardless of which path you choose. From design and social media to publicity and marketing; there are far more areas of expertise that a successful author will need to investigate in order to reach their target audience and make a success of their work. Surrounding yourself with a strong team from the outset and not attempting to do everything yourself can be the key to success.

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.” – Neil Gaiman

Whether due to time, lack of knowledge or financial constraints, authors are attempting to do what many professionals spend years training for. Book cover design, editing, publicity and marketing are all specialist areas. There is a cost to finding experts in these fields, however you will find that by surrounding yourself with a strong team will certainly make your life a lot easier, enabling you time to do what you do best and write. Remember that each individual expert you hire will be joining together to achieve one common goal: creating awareness of your book and ensuring it’s the best it can be. And it is this that ultimately means more sales and more readers. Remember that you are primarily an author, and unless you have a background in these areas, it can pay off in the long term to invest in some help. Once you have established these readers, it makes future work much easier to offer to market.

It can sometimes be a little trial and error in finding the right team. I work with many repeat authors, as well as working on many different projects with authors I’ve worked with in the past, and I’m proud to say that they would recommend me. I’ve also worked repeatedly with others in the book industry whom my authors praise highly. So that may be the best place to start – talk to other authors, or members of your existing team and ask if they have recommendations in the area you are researching. One thing I have learnt from being in the publishing industry for some years is that it’s not always the big companies that have the best reputations, but the smaller businesses and freelancers, so be sure to do your research.

“In a well-made book, where designer, compositor and printer have all done their jobs, no matter how many thousands of lines and pages, the letters are alive.” – Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographical Design

Successful book publishing is about investing confidently in your work and building momentum. No reader will have the confidence that your work is good enough to read if you don’t. Building a successful relationship with experts will mean you have a group of professionals in your corner, furthering the connection between you as an author, and your readers.

Why You Should Use Video Media to Market your Self-published Books

One of the challenges to indie authors in marketing their self-published books is that people simply don’t have the time to browse the web like they used to. It can feel as if there is a narrowing timeframe in which to generate interest in your work.shutterstock_173650184

With thousands of authors and books competing for attention, it can seem impossible to stand out from the crowd. Information needs to be delivered in a much more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast.

Different techniques are necessary to deliver information online, due to the varying ways internet browsers view material online. An ever increasing amount of people browse via their mobile phones, which means your page of text can become too daunting to read.

This is why many individuals and companies have taken to ‘vlogging’, replacing long articles of text with videos of themselves speaking about what they would have once written, conveying information in a much more graphic medium. The written word will never be replaced, but video can be a creative way of delivering information and reaping the rewards.

Videos displayed on websites can not only increase traffic, but keep visitors engaged up to 88% longer.

With that being the case, video media and book trailers have become increasingly popular, but are still viewed with some skepticism. Authors by nature perform most of their work ‘behind the scenes’ and are more often than not simply not used to such intrusive promotion.

Which Video Option Would Work for You?

There are many options for videos apart from book trailers that authors can consider creating. Website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.

An author I recently worked with created a hilarious video of spoof reviews. Some types of video media also have the added bonus of ‘meeting’ the author. Being able to put a face to the name and making your brand memorable has huge advantages for future work and tempts visitors to return.

Marketing professionals worldwide are reporting that video converts better than any other medium, and this is mainly down to its ‘sharability’. In fact up to 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others, meaning your audience just expanded more than you could ever reach in isolation.

Where to Share Your Videos

Once you have produced your videos, there are many platforms that you can develop to reach your audience. The most obvious are your website, blog, social media, Youtube and Vimeo, where uploading is simple. Others that many don’t consider is uploading to your Amazon, Goodreads or Huffington Post profiles, as well as perhaps your publisher’s website. If you are planning to produce regular videos, uploading to the same accounts each time and creating a channel for your media is a must, so that once you have caught their attention, readers can easily find others.

Using Metadata to Broaden Your Views

Naming your videos and adding useful tags when uploading to certain platforms is also key to allowing readers to find you. Much like a blog, using tags for your particular audience and genre, as well as your author name gives you a much greater chance of appearing in their search results.

This explosive growth in popularity is allowing authors to reach a huge audience via visual means, deepening that all-important connection between author and reader and keeping your name at the forefront of their consideration.

Practising What I Preach

What better way to illustrate my argument than with a video?

OVER TO YOU How has using video impacted your book sales and visibility? What’s your top tip for using video media in book marketing? Join the conversation via the comments box!

This post was originally published at ALLi’s How to For Authors – http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-you-should-use-video-media-to-market-your-self-published-books/

Five Prominent Ways a Busy Author Can Market Themselves Online

372913b0c48d2b1442aaf7fa23cb9feeOver the last decade the internet has changed the lives of writers dramatically. It has tested the publishing industry to the max, and is still consistently changing, forcing publishers, authors and marketing professionals to adapt, in order to make the most of what is probably the least expensive, but most effective form of promotion.

As an independent author, it is imperative that you have a plan in place to showcase your work online and get noticed. The single most effective way to achieve this is by building a strong, professional and branded online platform. By planning in advance and ensuring you have ample amount of content to keep your visitors genuinely interested, your author name will gain vital visibility.

There are plenty of ways to achieve this, but I am going to go through the easiest and most prominent five that will ensure you have the knowledge to start building your platform effectively.

 

Author Website

There is little to no point marketing online and getting yourself noticed if you have no focal point to send interested parties to. A well designed and branded website is the perfect place to host your marketing material as well as detailed information that readers and those in the industry may be looking for after your promotional efforts have paid off. It should also include a way to contact you, so that future opportunities may develop. A website should have static, easily navigable information that provides detailed information effortlessly, and should be designed to appeal to your target audience.

 

Blogging

A blog helps writers connect with their readers, the industry and those interested in the topics you write about. A blog can be used to display your expertise in specific subjects that relate to your work, or in writing itself, further legitimising you as an author. The posts should be written in a professional manner, much like your books, so that visitors can assess the quality of your work. Unlike a website, a blog doesn’t necessarily supply static information, and therefore should be updated regularly to keep readers returning, and also providing a link to your website, where potential readers can find out more about you, and purchase your work.

 

Video Media

With advances in technology, book trailers and video media are fast becoming a popular medium to promote your work. The issue is that in today’s online book sector, there is a narrowing timeframe in order to generate interest. Nowadays information needs to be delivered in a more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast. It has been found that the average internet user will remain on a website around eighty percent longer if there is a video to view. Videos have also seen the largest rise as a piece of sharable media, meaning your book trailer can be shared all over the world 24/7.

An ever increasing amount of people browse the web via their mobile phones and tablet devices, meaning your page of text may be too daunting and perhaps too small to read. Book trailers are great ways to gain instant attention, tempting visitors to look further and stay longer, as well as share with ease on social media. There are other options for video media apart from book trailers that authors can also consider. Anything from website introductions, readings, interviews or announcements can create an interactive feel and convert information into sales.

 

Podcasts

Following on from video media, podcasts are another effective, interactive way to promote online. Audio interviews, reviews or discussions with authors and industry professionals can all stir up interest, giving you a voice in your field of work. It is also another highly shared form of media, meaning that you can reach a far wider audience than would ever be achievable in isolation. It is also very easy to produce and doesn’t require much technical know-how.

 

Social Media

Connecting with readers and others in the book world online gives you valuable visibility and enables you to network in a way authors from the past would have never imagined possible. You can use it to share your work with readers, discuss being a writer with other authors, as well as opening the door to new opportunities. Agents and publishers freely admit to searching for potential new authors online, and in some cases, such as Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh, even accept pitches’ via Twitter.

There is an etiquette with social media that many authors are yet to grasp. Although it is a valuable promotional tool, simply shouting ‘Buy my Book’ and providing a link is a poor marketing strategy. Instead, providing snippets and links to reviews, links to your blog and video media is a much less demanding, but effective way to gain genuine curiosity.

As with any marketing, too many authors make the mistake of producing poor promotional material, with little design or production experience. It’s always good to remember that being an independent author isn’t necessarily about doing everything yourself, but about surrounding yourself with experts and creating a strong team and investing where it counts.