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/

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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

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.

5 Star Book Review – House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Discovering a new author is one of those lovely feelings, and one of the reasons I try to vary who and what I read. This is exactly how I’ve found (a little late in the day), Nicola Cornick. Her fabulous new book, House of Shadows is a rare gem. It’s breathtakingly well written and hooked me instantly.

51VVpqM8a9L._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_House of Shadows has a little bit of everything; the modern day, the past, magic and mystery. Holly Ansell is desperately trying to find her missing brother. When no one else seems to take his disappearance seriously, Holly takes it upon herself to follow in his final footsteps and try to discover the truth. She quickly finds that he was busy researching their family history. Nothing out of the ordinary right? Except the past holds secrets that you wouldn’t believe, and Holly quickly finds there may be a more ‘out of this world’ reason as to why her brother may never be found.

It’s only by passing over hundreds of years and learning of the lives of Elizabeth of Bohemia (The Winter Queen) and Lavinia Flyte that Holly and the reader can begin to piece together the mystery. This isn’t one of those simple predictable stories either. It will keep you hooked throughout with no let-up, and the revelations and uncertainty will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Nicola Cornick takes us on an effortless journey through time, visiting three separate centuries and creating suspense and intrigue across every page. If you think you’ve read a page turner before, try putting this one down. Following the lives of these three very intriguing women and their extraordinary lives makes it three times harder to stop reading! One of the best books I’ve read in years.

I love the cover for this book too – it compliments the story and various timings very well. It must have been hard to design with so much time travel!

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

A Quote On Writing That I Just Had To Share

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

Ray Bradbury

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.