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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Book Trailers and Video Media – Why They Are Increasingly Effective

Over the last decade the internet, how we use it and when we use it has changed dramatically, and this has meant that every industry across the world has had to adjust. The publishing industry has been no exception. In fact, as an industry that relies heavily on appearance and technology itself, it has had to be more vigilant than others in order to keep up with digital modifications. Even over the last few years, huge changes have meant that publishing in the digital world has become even easier, but making a success of your work is just as challenging as ever.

Online promotion can be one of the least expensive, but most effective tools that any writer can utilise in what has become an overcrowded marketplace. The issue is that in today’s online book sector, there is a narrowing timeframe in order to generate interest in your work. In a world where people visit websites whilst shopping, scroll through social media during television adverts or read a blog on their way home from work, everyone is increasingly busy and increasingly impatient. Nowadays information needs to be delivered in a much more exciting, interactive manner, and most importantly, fast.

With that being the case, video media and subsequently, book trailers, have become more and more popular, but are still unbelievably held with some skepticism, and that is due mostly by the amount of poorly produced examples there are being shared online. Many authors with little design or production skills put simple slideshows together themselves, or have friends or fans send them in. This gives many authors the advantage of still being able to stand out from the crowd with a professional video.

Book trailers bring your work to life in a way that many authors often dream about. They can also give readers a great impression of professionalism and much like a movie trailer, is designed to visually stimulate. With visual elements on the internet bringing in far more attention than those websites without, book trailers can now play a huge role in your visibility online, and its ultimate success. It has been found that statistically 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. If you are having trouble conveying the message of your book, or gaining the attention you feel it deserves, a book trailer may be a good option to explore.

Part of the reason why information online needs to be delivered in a different methods now, is due to the varying way internet browsers are viewing the web. An ever increasing amount of people browse via their mobile phones and tablet devices, meaning your page of text just became 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. Most readers won’t fully read the lengthy reviews and information that some websites try to share online. Instead, they want snappy information delivered with greater ease. These visitors therefore need to be fed details in a much more graphic medium, without inundating them with text, and that is why book trailers and video media are still on the rise.

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.

Website introductions are just that, a short video, usually featuring the author, welcoming visitors to their website and speaking about their work. This can replace, or work alongside the text that usually appears on a website home page, giving visitors the option. Videos of this nature, much like book trailers should be around one minute in length. At that length, a video receives the highest amount of viewers watching until completion. One minute sounds like a very short window in order to get your message across, but you will be amazed how much can be communicated in this time. This type of video media also has an added bonus of ‘meeting’ the author, which readers have always admitted to being intrigued about. Being able to put a face to the name and making your brand and website memorable has huge advantages for any future work, tempting visitors back again and again. And remember, it’s not just your website that can utilise video media; it can be shared across your entire online platform, including social media, as well as being played at book launches or other events. Approximately sixty-four percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching video promotion, with marketing professionals reporting that video converts better than any other medium.

There are many versions of book trailers, interviews or other forms of video media out there that have been put together poorly and unprofessionally, and like any piece of promotion, it needs to remain professional in order to gain the right attention and not deter from your work. It need not be expensive either; a professional book trailer varies in price, but something effective can be found for as little as £95. However not all companies that offer the service maintain a high quality, so be sure to view some samples of their previous work and discuss any requirements prior to instructing anyone.

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

This article was originally published on the Bloomsbury Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website at https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/901/self-publishing/marketing-and-publicity/

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.

8 Proven Ways to Attract More Visits to Your Author Website

WOMANThere is a myth floating in the minds of some writers out there, that once you have written the book and built your author website that the book will sell like hot cakes and you can sit back and simply enjoy the praise. Unfortunately this is not the case, and as an Indie author, it is down to you to market and push your book to reach its potential in what is a very overcrowded marketplace.

There are many tools online to help you achieve this, and with the bonus of social media and an author website, you can reach a market that would be impossible to reach in isolation. That being said, you need to make the most of what is possibly the best marketing tool you have. An author website is dedicated to you and your work. There is no competition and you can design it to attract your target market and update it as and when you need to. It should appear much like a ‘bonus DVD’, in that it offers information and ‘extras’ that cannot be found elsewhere. So to help you continue on the path to author success, here are 8 easy and proven ways to attract more visits (and repeat visitors) to your author website.

1. Deleted Scenes

Do you remember that really laborious editing process, where you deleted entire scenes that you may have realised weren’t entirely necessary? Well, don’t waste them! Put them aside, and once readers have finished your book, you can offer these ‘deleted scenes’ online to prolong their interest in your work.

2. Alternate Endings

Much like the deleted scenes, you may have tried several endings before deciding on the final edit. These can be really interesting for readers to see. If you’ve always had the same ending, why not have some fun yourself and write something totally different!

3. Short Stories

When a reader finds an author they really connect with and enjoy, they like to keep an eye on new and upcoming books. But of course writing a full book takes some time to complete, so why not keep their interest by offering an ‘interim’ story? It can be something completely different, or you can even include ‘spin-offs’ from existing characters. You can even theme them to different seasons. Imagining your characters around the Christmas season, or even taking a holiday.

A high percentage of readers admit that they visit author websites to read the free material, so why not take advantage and add it as a bonus for subscribing to a newsletter or similar? One thing to remember is that your short stories need to be edited to the same quality as your published works, otherwise you may put your readership off.

4. Exclusive Signed Copies of Your Book

One thing that Amazon (and other large retailers) cannot offer is a signed copy of your work. If you sell your books direct via your website, why not entice them to order from you rather than the easier option of a large online retailer and offer exclusive autographed copies of your book? Autographed copies make great gifts too.

5. Character Catch-up’s

This is something I came across when working with a children’s author. He very cleverly posted a transcript piece of his characters ‘chatting’ to him about the book and story. The author ‘interviewed’ them about different aspects of the events in the story. It was a very clever way of reiterating the important morals in his work, and very entertaining for his readers.

6. Competitions and Quizzes

Everyone likes to win at something, and if you have your reader’s attention on your website, then a competition to win a quiz or perhaps a competition in order to win something is an ideal way to gain contacts. You can even integrate this with your social media and offer a free signed copy of your book if the person ‘follows’ you on social media etc. It’s a great way to build interest and create a buzz around your website. It doesn’t need to be limited to your book though. You can offer book vouchers, or even something related to the book. One author I worked with recently gave away a necklace which featured on her book cover.

7. Articles

Everyone’s work speaks of some kind of experience or expertise, and this can be another way of reaching out to your audience. Whether you write fiction or non fiction, you can write articles about the topics of your work and knowledge. If there is no real ‘topic’ to discuss, why not talk about your writing journey, what you learnt along the way or even what research you performed in order to make your work accurate. One author I have worked with, who writes historical romance, creates mood boards for each book, including pictures of historic rooms and places, a map of the area where the book is based and portraits that suit the character she is trying to portray. Showing this to your readers can further build that author/reader connection.

8. Featured Reviews

If you’re gaining a good number of reviews, you could create a ‘featured review’ area, and encourage readers to send their thoughts by attracting them with a prize. At the end of each month you can announce a winner and ‘feature’ their review on your website and across your social media accounts.

I hope these hints and tips will help you attract more visitors to your website, but I’m always happy to hear more of your ideas. What do you do to gain website visitors? You can comment here or tweet me at @authordesigner with your experiences.

Five Must Haves for your Author Website

An author website is a central meeting place for you to contain the majority of your detailed information on yourselfYWP-T.-Umstattd-quote-300x219 and your books. Here is the place to convince your existing and future readers to connect with you and point them in the direction of purchasing your book/s. Turning potential readers into profit.

If you don’t have a website yet, you will certainly want to look into setting one up. If you already have a website, then now is the opportunity to ensure you have everything set up correctly and are using it in the best way possible. Below is a shortlist of ‘must have’ components to help you get started in making the most of your author website and maximizing your promotional success.

1) Your Books!

If you’re an author, whether that’s self-published or mainstream, you need to promote your work. One of the best ways to do this, is on a dedicated author website.

You also need to ensure that your book/s are displayed clearly and that your website is easily navigable. You will need a page dedicated to displaying your books with clear links to purchase, a copy of the cover and blurb and even the latest review. Don’t overcrowd this page. It is vital that it’s clear and concise. If you have a number of books, they can be sorted by release date or genre in order to make it clear to your readers what they can find.

2) Author Information

It’s well known that readers like to connect with author’s, and a page dedicated to a short biography is a nice addition to entice your readers further into your website. The key to this page is to let your readers learn a little bit more about you, but still keep it professional. It’s also great to include a professional photo of yourself as knowing what you look like is a great way for your readers to create another connection point with you.

Another tool to include here is to include a Newsletter sign up form after your biography text. If readers find themselves interested in you as an author, it’s then there for them to very easily sign up.

3) Newsletter Sign-up Form

Whilst displaying static content on your books (and links to purchase the book) is imperative, having consistent visual impact with your reader can be a fantastic tool. Imagine your name appearing in their inbox on weekly basis. They may or may not open and read the newsletter every time, but your name is there, and when they think they are ready for a new book, your name will be prominent in their minds.

Connecting with readers (and potential new readers) on a regular basis is the key to keeping them informed with your latest work. If they don’t know your book is available to purchase, then how can the buy it!

You don’t need to spend money on expensive newsletter systems, although some are free. Another way of handling this, is to set up a blog on WordPress. It can act as a newsletter (as people can sign up for email notifications when you post) and acts as a regular blog alongside this.

Make sure that your sign up forms or links to any social media are easy to see, in prominent locations, and appealing.

4) The Sneak Peek

Offering your readers something that they won’t find elsewhere is a very ‘sneaky’ way of pulling them further into your website. Your design is the first key to appealing to your demographic, however offering something for free is the best way of keeping them there for longer. There are lots of options here. Whether you offer exclusive free sample chapters, competitions for free copies of your book or sneak peeks at your next release, everybody loves something for free! Changing the free offering from time to time will also keep them coming back for more.

One other thing to remember is when you mention ‘free’, ensure it is free. Don’t insist they sign up for your newsletter first or similar. Although this is a great way to gain visibility, it more than often puts people off these days. If they are genuinely interested in you and your work, they will sign up of their own accord. You have more chance of gaining said interest by letting your free sample chapter do the work. If you want to focus on gaining further sign up’s to a newsletter, offer them something such as an extra free bonus chapter.

5) Validating Reviews

If you are a writer or reader, or both, you will know that books are one of the most talked of products of all time. The extent of sharing and the recommendation of books is something no other type of product in the world gets to enjoy. Reviews are one of the best ways in validating why people should purchase your book, however overstepping the mark is easily done too. By filling miles of your website pages with reviews may seem tempting, the sight of so many words on a computer screen will seem like a daunting essay to your website visitors. By taking a selection of the best reviews to date, or snippets of them, much like headlines, you stand a much higher chance of visitors actually reading them, and therefore impacting them on their purchasing decision.

If you insist on sharing every review, then consider putting your reviews on a cycle so that you may display a handful at a time.

Tap into reader’s instincts to share their thoughts by having clear social media ‘share’ buttons on your website. Word of mouth can often be the most powerful sales pitch. If they genuinely enjoyed your work, make the process of sharing their thoughts easier.

 

I hope these points have made you think about your website and the power these tools can have over both selling your books and your brand. Authors are using these elements all the time for their website’s and now you have the knowledge to craft a fantastic website too – are you ready to take action?

Authors in Isolation

Image

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.

“I like books t…

“I like books that aren’t just lovely but that have memories in themselves. Just like playing a song, picking up a book again that has memories can take you back to another place or another time.”

Emma WatsonTime Magazine (November 2010)