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.

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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.

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.

Using Your Author Website to the Full – Part One

On behalf of myself and the entire team who put together The Self Publishing Conference 2014, I would like to thank any of you who attended. It was a brilliant day and we have all received a huge influx of positive feedback.

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As promised in my last session of the day, How to Use Your Author Website to the Full, I am blogging some of the points we discussed in a series of posts. We got through most of them, but with all of you taking part, you will know we run over by half an hour. At least you were enjoying it and taking away lots of useful tips!

I spoke about why an author needed a website in my first session of the day, which I have blogged about previously. Once you have a website as an author, there is a myth that it will just work and pull in thousands of new sales. To some extent it will work, but as with anything, people (most importantly readers) will need to know it is there to benefit from any sort of promotion, and this takes some time and effort. If your website isn’t pulling in as much attention as you hoped, here are a few elements you may wish to check your doing correctly.

 

Is Your Design Working?

The first question to ask yourself is whether your design is working. A website design, and in fact all elements of your book promotion should appeal to your reader in the same way your book cover needs to. It needs to be branded, professional and targeted to your market audience. Lack of branding can confuse a reader to believing they haven’t come to the correct website and lack of professionalism can damage your author image. It may be that if they see a badly edited or designed website, this may reflect onto your writing and books. If you put them off with your design, you are going to lose their attention very quickly. Professionalism creates a sense of legitimacy.

If you feel your design isn’t as professional as other authors that write in your genre, spend a little time on some design research. It is likely that as an author, you read in the genre you write, so take some time out to browse popular authors to see what they are offering from their websites, and how their design is pulling in your readers.

Another question I come across a lot is authors who write books in two genres. Do you really need two websites for each market? The answer depends really on what the genres are. If they compliment each-other, then it’s possible that you will be offering books to readers that read both styles; for example historical fiction and historical non-fiction. However if your books are polar opposites (I’ve seen websites offering sweet historical romances and modern erotica), then you need to consider using separate sites. You want to avoid deterring readers at all costs. You also need to ensure that your brand is represented, and it may be that this isn’t consistent over your two different genres.

Remember, statistically you have three seconds to convince your website visitor to stay on your website. I will give you a few tips on how to do this, other than having the correct design, in a later post.

 

Is Your Content Working?

After looking at the design, you will want to concentrate on exactly what your author website contains. Is your existing content offering visitors something they are looking for? As I just mentioned, it’s down to the three second rule. You need to immediately let you visitor know they are in the right place (design), where you want them to go (content and design) and how to get there (content). 

Assuming you have covered the first point of design, you then need to let them know what you want them to do. You can do this by ensuring your content is clear and not overwhelming. Your book/s should have prominence, with an immediate link to ‘find out more’ and purchase links. You also need to provide a clear navigation to other pages. This can be done through a menu, making sure the links are clear and concise. Don’t name your pages with quirky titles – you may know what it means, but you readers may not. In other words, the page that contains information on your books, should be labelled in your menu as ‘Books’, NOT ‘My Library’, ‘My World’ or ‘Offerings’. Keep it simple, so that people can easily navigate around your website. You will also want to ensure that any references in your text to your book are linked to the Book page. That way, if people are reading, they don’t need to scroll to the top of the page to find the menu again. I know this sounds particularly lazy, but any encouragement is essential.

When it comes to the amount of content you provide in your website, this can vary enormously between author’s websites. Some have thousands of words on each page, which quite frankly, unless you’re JK Rowling, people aren’t going to read or take that much of an interest. You want them to read your book, not pages and pages of content on your website. Remember that your website is ultimately a selling tool, and a place for current readers to find out more about you and your other works. People get very bored, very easily, so keep what you write shorter (around two to three paragraphs is ideal) in order to keep their attention. I will be talking about exactly which content you want on each page in a later post (exactly so as not to overwhelm you…and keep you coming back – I do practice what I preach!).

It’s not just the amount of content you need to consider though, you will also want to consider the quality. Does your website offer something that readers can’t find anywhere else? People love to believe they have found something exclusive, so offer just that on your website. For example 43% of readers agree that they will return to a website if it offers free short stories from an author they like, and 33% admit to wanting a free sample chapter prior to buying a book. Both these can be offered on your website.

Another way to bring people back to your website is via Newsletters and Blogs. If you have the time, you can spend a short while on a daily, weekly or monthly basis writing a few hundred words to let your followers know that you have something new to offer them, some news to share, or an interesting discussion on the topic of your work. It is important again not to overwhelm them with too much information, or too frequently. A newsletter does provide visibility, but people will all too quickly delete a newsletter emailed to them without reading it if it lands in their inbox too often. A blog on the other hand allows them to drop in when they have the time. There are obvious advantages to both, and some authors will use both for assurance that they’re reaching as many readers as possible.

I will reiterate the point that if you keep your website updated (no reader enjoys an out-of-date website), then you have more reasons to pull in visitors to your website. And of course, a website is one of the best promotional tools, which you can update as often as needed, so take advantage of it! It doesn’t need to take very long, but can have a big effect.

I hope this initial lot of information has been useful. I will update you with the next section of ideas and tips to offer your readers in the next post, so watch this space! If you want to get updates of when these will appear, follow this blog or keep an eye on my Twitter and Google+ feeds. You can of course also find some information at www.authordesignstudio.com or email me at contact@authordesignstudio.com

 

Until next time,

Aimee