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/

Creating Simple Visual Content for Your Author Platform

You may have noticed recently how more and more visual content such as images, photos and videos appear on social media. This is because visual content on social media and platform networks tends to gain a lot more attention than those that contain text alone. Social media experts say that it gives your interaction a significant boost and also strengthens your brand.

Authors can use this as a fantastic tool to further interact with readers and others in the industry. According to B2B Infographics, photos are liked twice as often as text updates, and videos are shared twelve times more than links and text posts combined! Those statistics are incredible, and something I will certainly be taking note of myself.

Below are some simple ways to create unique visual media that you can share across your author platform, including social media, blogs, websites and more.

Account Imagery
Imagery has nearly always been used strongly across social media. Profile photos and header banners are great ways to make an instant impression. I’ve always preferred photos of yourself as a profile shot. It means that visitors can put a ‘face to the name’,and conveys legitimacy. Below are some fun examples of how some authors have created a branded and fun header – just remember to leave space for the profile photo to overlap so that nothing is hidden when it’s in place. Contact me if you would like your own header image designed, or you can do it yourself fairly easily.

Video
I have written a couple of articles specifically on video media for authors, which you can view here and here, and there are many more options to choose from. Showing your personality on camera can further that connection with your fans, and many authors are trying their hand at vlogging (video blogging), whether its with instructional content on being a writer, conveying your expertise on a topic, or general material.
Carol Wyer is currently running a very entertaining ‘Grumpies On Board Travel Show’ which follows her and her ‘Grumpy’ husband (Carol’s words, not mine!) through various adventures after the success of her books. You can view Carol’s channel on YouTube here.
Other authors use video as an interview platform, for book reviews, book trailers or as a writing journal. If you are a little camera shy, there are options to create something visually appealing that doesn’t necessarily need you in shot.
The important thing to remember is to display videos across your entire platform to gain maximum exposure. They are extremely easy to share via social media and blogs. The average internet user also spends 88% longer on a website with video, so embedding a selection of your videos and having a link to your YouTube channel prominently displayed is superb for keeping visitors engaged.

Photos
I recently wrote a blog post on the various social media account options and which authors should be using them. If as an author you use the image based social media networks, such as Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest, you may be used to sharing photos, however for those authors who aren’t sure on what images they could possibly share, here is a list of options you may not have thought of:

  • Inspirational photos – Out and about for research? Share photos of locations, people (with their permission) or anything else that may have given you that fantastic idea for your next book! Lovely author, Ellie Holmes has a section on her website devoted to photos that have inspired her. Jane Odiwe, who is a fantastic author and artist displays the paintings she has produced whilst inspired for her novels.
  • Your favourite books – Have you seen a book that you love? Share a photo or picture of its cover, or include a photo when you link to a review.
  • Your writing space – Readers are naturally intrigued by authors and sharing a photo of the space you use to write can prove a real interest to your fans. Get creative and decorate your space per season and share over and over again.

 

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Beth Hersant’s book travelling the world!

 

  • Your Readers – Readers often send in unusual shots of themselves reading your book. A client of mine, Beth Hersant has a fantastic list on her website, with her readers from all over the world!
  • Local Bookshops – If you have a local independent bookshop, why not share photos of their amazing displays. It can further your relationship with them and also help promote independents within the industry. If your book is stocked there, even better!
  • susan
    Author, Susan Gandar

    Author Events – If you attend an event such as a writing conference or are running your own event such as a book signing, ensure you get some photos. These can instigate links between like-minded authors and any readers oe locals who may be interested in attending future events.

Just Add Text
Another suggestion is to take images and add text to them. If there is something you want to get noticed, adding the text to an image can be a better way to gain that attention. It is easy enough to add words to images with Microsoft Paint, or with free sites like PicMonkey and Picfont.
They can be used to convey your brand, a new release, a book excerpt, title a blog, or even a general quote that you want to share. Some examples of this image style is below.

GIFs
What could be better than an image to gain attention? An animated image! GIFs are a huge trend at the moment, and easy to get hold of on websites such as Giphy. Authors can use them to display how they are feeling at any one moment. Use them alongside some promotion or general posts for maximum exposure. It is also a great way to have some fun and enter some humour into your platform.

giphy

 

It can take a little more thought and time, especially for authors, who naturally write through life.The key with visual media is if you can show it instead or typing it, then you may end up gaining more attention. All that effort will be worthwhile in the end.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch on contact@authordesignstudio.com. I always love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so please comment if you have had any experiences you would like to share.

Book Review – A Quiet Winter by Isabel Ashdown

28015181A Quiet Winter is one of those books you want to curl up with in front of a roaring fire during  cold months. Isabel Ashdown instantly absorbs and draws you into a vast mix of raw human emotion, and every time you feel that you know where it’s headed, Isabel pulls you in a new direction.

Sarah Ribbons, who has recently lost her father is in an ever sinking denial of grief. She can’t quite bring herself to move on and take that next step to recovery. Pushing those close to her away, she soon finds herself quite alone. That is until she meets Ed, a builder who encourages her to renovate her father’s cottage. Both have their own set of very different problems in life, and as each story is gradually revealed, the connection between reader and character strengthens.

Don’t be fooled though, this is not a predictable story, but what is does have is a great sense of satisfaction and reality.

Isabel’s writing is flawless, almost soothing and flows with utter ease. I look forward to reading many more of her books.

Having not been a great reader of short stories before, this may have just converted me. It was lovely to be able to easily read it within one sitting on a cosy night.

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

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/