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/

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3 Basic but Essential Tips on Benefiting from Twitter for Busy Authors

Social Media, including Twitter, have become one of the most powerful tools an author can use to gain a stronger online platform in today’s marketplace. There are millions of users worldwide, and a large number of established book/author/reader communities to make the most of. If you are new at Twitter, or are struggling to find your feet, here are some essential basic tips that may help.

1. Setting up your profile You may think this is one of the easiest steps to get through, however it is at this point that many authors make mistakes which may cost them interest in the long term. If you’re new to Twitter, taking time over your profile can make it more attractive, and therefore you will gain more followers. If you’re already using Twitter and not getting anywhere with it, you may want to look back at your profile and ensure it’s beneficial to you as an author, or simply update it.

Ensure your username and handle (e.g @CarolEWyer) is your author name. This is how many Twitter users will search for you, so you need to ensure they are able to find your account easily, and they will be searching for a person, not a book.. You may be tempted to use your book title, but this will limit your account to one book. If you are planning on writing more than one book, using your author name makes better sense and enables you to reach your existing readership when the next book is released. If your name isn’t available or is already being used, add something to it such as ‘@carolewyerauthor’ or ‘@carolewyerwriter’.

You will also need to write a short biography. Try and keep this light-hearted and informal in order to attract more followers. Think of it as your blurb. It’s there to catch attention. You only have a short space, so try to include information that will attract your target audience. You can include the title of your latest book here too, so it is easily visible to those looking for you. Ensure you include your website address (separate to the biography).

Using a friendly photo of yourself as your profile picture is ideal – it creates a connection between you and possible readers as well as other Twitter users. You can use a book promotion image as your Header Image so that readers of your work can immediately see your latest work. It also creates a sense of legitimacy, professionalism and familiarity. Below is an example. SKININ THE GAMETWITTER 2. To Tweet or not to Tweet. Once you have setup your account, it can be daunting to know what to write, what to say and who you’re saying it to. Firstly, the majority of Twitter accounts are public, which is why and how people follow you. If people read your tweets and find them interesting, this is the best and most genuine way to gain followers.

A huge amount of authors are told that Twitter is a selling tool. It isn’t. Twitter is a sociable promotional tool, and so much more. It contains communities of writers and authors for support and encouragement, industry professionals for advice and tips, and of course readers and reviewers. However if you set out simply believing you can shout ‘buy my book‘, you will more than likely end up very disappointed. Although it is more than acceptable to talk about your book on Twitter, there is a subtle etiquette that you will need to learn.

Generally I advise that every fourth or fifth tweet should be book orientated. This can be very subtle, perhaps a link to a review, competition, media coverage, interview or blog tour, rather than a straight forward ‘BUY MY NEW BOOK HERE!’. Tweets such as this can be very off putting and you may find that followers quickly delete you if you over do it. Promoting the success of your book on the other hand demonstrates what a good read it is without you having to ‘shamelessly‘ brag! Ultimately, the rule is to keep it professional and confident.

You will also need to make yourself interesting as an author. If users see a neglected account, they will immediately be uninterested. You can talk about your writing journey, what research you may be doing for your work in progress, link to blog posts and competitions and generally interact with readers and authors on all sorts of topics. By making yourself interesting, you will indirectly be tempting your followers to investigate your work, and this means potential sales.

3. Build on Your Twitter Relationships. Once you have some followers, you will need to build relationships. The only way to do this is to interact, and that doesn’t simply mean thanking someone for following you, or retweeting something someone has posted. Starting, or joining in a conversation is a great way to begin, and eventually you will have a following that you can come back to on a daily basis. A great place to start with this, is other writers. Remember that most writers are also readers, so although they may eventually take an interest in your work, support you through publication and recommend your books, do not ‘sell’. Using the rules in the point above will mean they will take a genuine interest.

There is so much more to Twitter than this, but these basics are essential to get right in order to make the most of what is a global piece of promotion. If you have any questions, you can email me at contact@authordesignstudio.com or Tweet me on @authordesigner.

How to Ensure Your Author Website is Working to its Full Potential

Author Design Studio

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 you’re 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 that your book cover needs to. It needs to be branded, professional and targeted to your market. 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 promotion, you are going to lose their attention very quickly. Professionalism creates a great sense of legitimacy in you as an author and your work before they’ve even picked up the book.

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, or have 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 potential 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 websites. 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 in. 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.

If you have any questions about design and content, or would like a friendly critique of your website, get in touch with me at contact@authordesignstudio.com or tweet me on @authordesigner.

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.

Authors in Isolation

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I may not (as yet) be a published author, but I can relate to many of my clients on just how isolated a ‘work-from-home’ job can be. I work mostly from home and apart from the hundreds of emails and odd phone call I deal with every day, it can be at times a lonely career path. Admittedly, working the hours you choose and doing a job you love has its advantages, but its often the silence and need for human interaction that hits home when you spend days in isolation, working on your manuscript, or in my case designing websites and book covers for you lovely people.

In doing this, we all have that blessing of doing something we love, but do you not find that you have those days when your characters are just not enough company? Perhaps it’s just me who talks the ears of the postman or window cleaner when they call, just to have some sort of conversation?

It is for this reason that I don’t understand the reluctance that some authors and writers have for Social Media. Some declare it’s a lack of time, which is understandable as we are all very busy people. Some use technophobia as their excuse, which is again understandable and sympathised by many. Others claim it’s the intrusion that it brings which puts them off.

Now, as understandable as these reasons may be, all of these explanations may be overcome. Lack of time for instance – it takes on average a maximum of a couple of minutes to log into a account and read through or post a tweet or message. It doesn’t need to become an essay or a chore in the slightest. So whether you use Social Media sporadically throughout the day for two minutes at a time or set aside some time each day to interact with the world, it need not take up so much of you time that it becomes unrealistic to keep up. 

If you’re not great at using a computer or if you’re not up-to-date with all the latest apps and gadgets, you still don’t need to fear Social Media. Once you’ve learnt the basics of logging in and finding out exactly where everything is, you can think of it as an online filofax or journal, where you jot down your thoughts and keep hold of contacts. There are many guides available to teach you how to use your accounts, but if you really are worried about getting started, talk to someone who deals with social media (such as myself…plug plug), who can hold your hand through each and every step until you’re comfortable. We’re not all going to ‘tut’ and sigh at your lack of ability on a computer. Far from it. Trust me when I say that I’ve most probably helped others less capable than yourself. It’s simply a case of being shown the very basics and familiarising yourself with it before taking another step.

Intrusion is a big turn off for a lot of people, not just authors and those who don’t want to be identified or who write under a pseudonym. However, just as you write under a different name, so can your accounts be. You needn’t display a neon sign of your true identity, nor are you required to include your latest photo. So in actuality, the intrusion level is entirely managed and measured by yourselves. If you don’t want to ‘tweet’ or ‘post’ updates about your personal life, then don’t, but do use Social Media to engage your readers and interact with other people in the industry. Think of it as going to a huge coffee morning for a quick chat before work. You wouldn’t expose your personal details there and you don’t need to on Social Media either.

Social Media is valuable. Not, just to the sales and publicity of your work, but to your sanity too. Some great friendships can be seen on the likes of Twitter through people who have never even met. And this is because you share a common interest, be it between author and reader or author to author. We all share that passion for the written word and along with that comes some empathy and understanding of each others struggles and desires.

You can also benefit hugely from the support and advice that the writing community has to offer. On the ‘off days’ it can be like receiving a bunch of virtual pat’s on your back and a cheer of ‘you can do it!’. It’s an invaluable piece of my daily interaction and millions of others too. It’s nice to know that someone is out there ready to listen, encourage or cheer you up.

Social Media is so often referred to as marketing and promotion by those agents and publishers sitting behind a desk, surrounded by co-workers. I of course don’t deny it’s ability to increase interest and sales as readers will quickly complain nowadays if authors don’t have Social Media accounts. It’s a fantastic way of reaching readers and sharing news of your latest work in progress and releases, but in truth, for people like us, it’s company. It’s offering a kind of interaction that authors before you didn’t have.

It seems that a lot of authors feel as though they are giving into a new phase and leaving the traditional love of writing and being an author behind. Perhaps it’s the way our world is heading, albeit a shame if face to face contact were to completely cease to exist. A bit like pen and paper were replaced by the computer, but I bet you still readily jot down notes with your favourite pen from time to time?  In fact I am drafting this article the old fashioned way, ready to type out at a later time.

So whether you’re still wondering whether of not to join or you’re already an active user, there are so many more Social Media ‘friendships’ out there to be made, and I thank each and every one of your comments, likes, re-tweets or even for just reading my thoughts and I know you’ll all enjoy Social Media for a long time to come.

Website vs Blog – What’s the difference?

Many authors will use a blog in one form or another during their career, whether it be as an online base, through book tours or guest interviews. Blogs build valuable social circles and can offer exposure to authors trying to reach a wider audience. Being a guest on a blog and giving an interview, for example, reaches out to a much wider audience than an author could ever hope to achieve in isolation.

There is however a mistake some authors (and other professionals) have come to make, and that is to use a blog as a website, when it simply cannot function in the same manner. There are some certain blog software’s which enable a more ‘website based’ display of content, but this can be tricky to build and usually requires a professional.

The difference between a blog and website is critical, and when considering your online promotion, you need to be fully aware of ‘what’s what’.

  • A blog could be classed as an online newsletter. It consists of continuous ‘posts’ of new material or articles which keep visitors coming back to see what’s new.
  • A website contains more static content and elements, each page having information that doesn’t change constantly, but that is updated when necessary and most importantly easily navigable and visible at all times.

Each have their own benefits, and should be used in conjunction with eachother  but a blog is not a website and a website is not a blog. Sounds like someone trying to explain cricket rules, doesn’t it?! Let me give you an example:

  • Blog – An author can use their own blog as an interaction tool, much like Twitter or Facebook. It’s a fantastic way of reaching your adoring readers, encouraging conversations and researching what your readers like and want more of. Authors may also use blogs to post news of what they’ve been up to, where they’ve been or the latest news on their work in progress. This can be very captivating, and the constant updating of the latest post keeps it fresh (as well as being search engine friendly), however what happens when a potential reader wants to know the link to buy that book you mentioned a few weeks ago? They would need to search through the blog archive, or spend an age scrolling down and down the page to find it. Realistically, that’s simply asking for them to close the page and look elsewhere. It’s too much hassle, and we all know how impatient internet users can be. Blogs are fantastic additions to a website, but to stand the best chance of making the most of online marketing, you will need a website. Blogs can also be very time consuming, and in order to prove useful, they need to be updated frequently, so before venturing on one, ensure you  have the time to post at least once a week.
  • Website – A website is set out much like like a book. It may have several or hundreds of pages, but they’re all laid out in an easy to navigate menu, where the information relating to each page is kept. For instance many authors will use a combination of these pages: Home, About the Author, Books, News & Reviews, Excerpt, Contact. You see how easy it would be for any potential reader to find what they were looking for? This is the vital difference between a website and a blog, and it’s creating that ease of navigation which will encourage visitors to explore and find what they need, whether that’s more information on the Author (go to the About the Author page) or a new book (go to the Book page). Because the information is static, it’s always there. It can be updated from time to time, but it won’t disappear in a multitude of posts like on a blog, making that important information visible at all times. The nature and frequency a blog is updated however, makes it extremely search engine friendly, and if embedded or linked with your website can increase its popularity even further.

So lets end with a cliche this time, shall we? It’s Quality, not quantity.

Why Authors Need A Website.

The question often arises of exactly why an author needs a website, and there are many reasons to consider. One of the most vital being because agents, publishers and most importantly readers expect you to. So what are you waiting for?! Not explanation enough? Read on…

‘I really wish every author had either a website or Twitter account. Makes me sad they won’t be interacting with readers.’  –          @readingGals

The above was genuinely taken from Twitter, written by a fairly disappointed reader. Whomever the author is that they’re referring to is making a dreadful mistake. Doesn’t it just say it all?

As an author, you are unknowingly losing out on a vast amount of opportunities (not just sales!) if you do not have a website. Readers take more and more time to research authors and their books online in today’s market, and you are losing out on valuable interaction and potential sales by not investing and embracing what is one on the worlds most effective promotional tools.

Displaying your work on other websites, such as your publisher or retailers simply isn’t good enough. The book market is extremely overcrowded and readers are more likely to be distracted by other works or adverts on the websites where more than your books are on offer. Needle. Haystack. Enough said.

Having your own website enables that important element of control, enabling you to brand your design to attract and engage the readers in your genre. It uses the same concept as a cover design, which your publisher or graphic designer has worked so hard to perfect. If the design of your cover isn’t carefully considered, you’re in danger of losing a sale to the book next door. In addition  your own website can be continuously updated, making it the centre of your promotion.

“Here’s a copy of my book, I hope you like it, but you may not. Probably not. Maybe?” – No success ever came from lacking confidence in your own work. If you portray yourself though your website as a professional, that confidence will also reflect on your work. A poorly designed website on the other hand, can immediately give a death sentence to your reader looking any further.

No successful author would forgo a website for the simple reason that they understand the importance of reaching out to their readership in whatever way they can. A website can be hugely successful and exciting to create. Whether you do it yourself or brief a designer, make it professional and ensure it’s worthy of displaying your work.

The process can be daunting to some authors too, but really, you braved the agents and publishers, dipping your toes into the publishing pool, you can do this too…