Social Media Influencers: How to find and utilize them

social media influencers

Pretend for a moment that you are a new mom trying to decide on a brand of baby wipes. You’ve seen plenty of advertisement by the various brands, but it’s something else that makes up your mind. Not a Huggies ad or a Target mailer. No, it’s an Instagram post by your friend with 7 children. She mentions that she has tried all brands of wipes and settled, surprisingly, on the Walmart store brand as her favorite. You’re sold! And for the next few years, Walmart reaps the benefit of that one, simple word-of-mouth recommendation.

Why did that work? Because even though no one would have called that mother of 7 a “social media influencer,” in that moment, she was. In the mind of her friend, her expertise and credibility in the niche market of baby products trumped anything a Pampers ad could say.

This is nothing new. However, what is new, is that businesses have realized the effectiveness of the “social media influencer” and are intentionally targeting them to provide this valuable word-of-mouth marketing for their products.

And writers should do the same! So, how does it work?

1. Find your social media influencers

If you’re writing a book, hopefully you have spent a good amount of time narrowing down just who your audience is. Perhaps your audience consists of pastors looking to hone their speaking skills, or cancer patients looking for hope, or parents looking for Gospel-centered picture books for their preschoolers.

The next step is to determine who that audience looks to as an “influencer.”

For example, those pastors likely look to other successful, high-profile pastors with fantastic speaking skills. And those cancer patients probably look to oncology experts and well-known cancer survivors. Christian parents of preschoolers may look to mommy bloggers and Christian publishers.

If you’re not sure where to begin in the search for your audience’s influencers, there are some great tools available, both paid and free.

Trendspottr is a tool that will help you spot trends on Instagram, whether it is trending influencers, hashtags or posts. You can use this tool to discover what your target audience is liking and following. For example, if you write about healthy eating, you can use Trendspottr to stay on top of trending diets and ingredients, but also to discover which Instagram accounts within this space are getting the most attention. These are your niche’s “influencers.”

Buzzsumo is a site designed exclusively for finding social media influencers. And once you find them, the site will help you follow them, reach out to them and engage with them.

Followerwonk is designed specifically for Twitter. It will help you discover, follow and organize your niche’s social media influencers on this important platform.

Speaking of Twitter, this site lists all of the Twitter Chats that happen throughout the week, which can be a great way to interact with influencers. For example, if your writing is about post-traumatic stress disorder, there is a Twitter Chat on this subject every Monday night at 8pm, hosted by two influencers in that field.

While these tools are helpful, don’t disregard more traditional forms of online research, such as Reddit, LinkedIn groups, and good, old-fashioned Google.

2. Reach out to influencers

Now that you have a list of influencers within your niche, it’s time to reach out. Here are a few methods:

Comment on their blog and social media posts: Become an active commenter by offering authentic compliments and helpful commentary on their posts. As you do this more and more, the influencer will become more familiar with you. Be sure not to push your own product in the comments. Be patient!

Meet in person: Keep tabs on when influencers might be coming into town. Will they be a speaker at a local conference or hosting a meetup nearby? This is the perfect chance to meet face to face and give them your card. Although it may be a quick interaction, meeting you makes it much more likely that they will respond to follow-up messages from you.

Mention them in your own work: Everyone loves to be quoted and mentioned on blogs and social media (as long as it’s positive!) Look for ways within your content writing to do so, in hopes that the person you mentioned will share what you wrote.

Retweet and share their social media posts: Each time a person’s social media post is shared, they get a notification. This is a great way to keep your name fresh in your influencer’s mind. And be sure to include relevant hashtags and mentions when you share.

Offer to be a guest writer: Most prolific bloggers are happy to turn the reins over to a quality writer for a day. In fact, many post their guest blogger submission requirements right on their blog. This is a great opportunity to get your face in front of the influencer’s audience.

Go ahead and ask: Once you’ve established a relationship with your influencer, it’s time to confidently ask them if they would mention your book or product to their audience. This could be as simple as them retweeting you, or as elaborate as them reading a quote from your book on their podcast. This might seem like a big ask, but remember that all of these influencers were once in your shoes and they know how valuable this type of publicity can be. Plenty of them will decline, but you may be surprised at how many will say yes.

At Certa Publishing, we are working hard to stay on top of the marketing trends so that our authors’ messages can reach as many people as possible. If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, please reach out. We offer comprehensive marketing services and would be glad to take the reigns of your marketing plan or simply help you get started. Contact us today.

 

There’s still time to create a 2019 marketing plan

there's still time

Perhaps you had good intentions at the end of last year to craft the ultimate 2019 marketing plan. But then December flew by as December does, and you’ve found yourself at the end of January without a plan. But there is still plenty of time to make this happen. Glenn Leibowitz’s recent post at LinkedIn offers this advice:

If you’re wondering where to begin and how to structure [your 2019 marketing plan], here’s a set of questions you can ask that will help you generate the ideas you need to flesh out your plan. If you’re unable to provide immediate answers to some of these, go out and do some research: Talk to coworkers, customers, and suppliers. Read articles and books. Listen to podcasts. And then start filling in the blanks.

1. Who are your primary audiences?

Everything you say in your content marketing plan, whether it’s in written form or through video or audio, needs to address a very specific set of audiences. Who are they exactly? Can you define them beyond generic demographic categories like age, gender, and income? If you were to prioritize them, which two or three target audiences would you choose to focus on in your communications?

2. What do you want them to know you for?

There’s so much noise out there, cutting through it all and getting noticed can be incredibly hard. That’s why you need to be very specific about what you want to be known for among your priority audiences. More importantly, how will you set yourself apart from your competitors? What makes you different –and better– than them?

This one may require additional research and soul-searching, but it’s a crucial exercise you won’t want to bypass.

3. What specific topics will you cover in your content plan?

This is where you unpack what you decided in response to the previous question, when you determined what you want to be known for. Brainstorm topics and even specific headlines that you will publish content on, list them out and then sort them into a few key categories. Then sort them again into a month-by-month plan.

Maybe you’ll decide to focus on one key theme per month or quarter. Or maybe you’ll dip in and out of your pipeline and publish content on several different topics in a given month.

4. Which formats will you prioritize: Blogs, video, podcasts, email?

There are many possible formats to publish content in, but prioritizing and selecting one or two primary formats will help focus your resources and energy. Even the most prolific content creators who seem to appear everywhere usually pick two or three formats where they focus their most resources. They might repurpose content for other formats, but it’s clear that they’ve selected video, for instance, or long-form articles on Medium or LinkedIn, where they roll out their newest and best stuff, and where they engage most with their followers. (Check out this primer on creating videos for IGTVInstagram TVcourtesy of the folks at Facebook for Creators).

5. Which social media channels will you prioritize and what’s your plan for distributing content through them?

The social media landscape can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to underestimate the time and resources required to build a large and highly engaged following on any of them. That’s why you’ll need to prioritize and select the one or two channels to double down on. For you, that might be Facebook or Instagram. Or it could be LinkedIn. (Check out this free guide for content creators on LinkedIn. And if you’re looking for a social media scheduling app, try MeetEdgar.)

6. Who will be responsible for developing, publishing, and distributing content?

Having an ambitious content marketing plan in hand is not enough: Who exactly will be responsible for developing, editing, publishing, and distributing the content you produce? If your in-house team is limited in resources, or you’re working on your own, you’ll want to consider tapping into freelance resources that can give you the leverage you need. (Check out this free marketing calendar from Twitter).

7. How will you monitor engagement and measure impact?

How will you know whether your content marketing is working? What metrics will you track and measure? What applications can deliver the data and analysis you need?

You may have other questions you’ll want to ask as you develop your content marketing plan, but if you start with these questions, you should be well on your way to crafting a plan that works for you in 2019.

At Certa Publishing, we work with authors every day to formulate marketing plans, beef up their presence on social media and determine their target audience. How can we help you? Contact us today.

5 Quick Holiday Marketing Ideas

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It’s not too late to do some quick holiday marketing! Here are five easy tips to get you selling more books this Christmas season:

1. Tailor your message to the timeframe

During the weeks leading up to Christmas

The time for persistent browsing and highly-personal shopping is over. It’s crunch time and everyone is just desperate to get a gift to their family or friends before the 25th. Through your newsletters and social media posts, direct consumers to your Amazon link. As it gets closer to Christmas, remind them that an ebook is available to gift immediately.

After Christmas

Many of your consumers likely unwrapped an Amazon gift card for Christmas. Although they might be thinking of buying tools or music, it’s your job to remind them that your book would be a great purchase. Schedule an email blast for the morning of December 26th with “redeem gift cards” and “Amazon” in the subject line.

At the New Year

Now is the time to develop a marketing pitch related to the New Year. Finance writers should focus on financial New Year resolutions. Health and fitness writers… well, you have it easy! Religious and self-help writers can easily craft a message as well. This would be a great time to write up a short 500-word blog post pulling out parts from your book that will inspire your readers to want more as they plan their 2019.

2. Send more emails than usual

Many consumers will go most of the year overlooking marketing emails and avoiding the “promotions” tab in Gmail. But during the holidays, those same buyers will intentionally search through their inbox looking for deals. So, go ahead and send more emails than usual. Be sure to run a promotion that can be easily summarized in your subject line. We suggest doubling the number of marketing emails from now until the first week of January.

3. Set the mood on social media

People want to feel “Christmasy” at this time of year. So set a festive mood on your social media accounts. Take photos of your book surrounded by Christmas lights or next to a cup of cocoa… even if it’s not a holiday-themed book.

Does your book contain anecdotes about the holidays? Financial tips for gift-giving? Holiday-themed nutrition ideas? Now is the time to highlight those portions on your feed.

4. Do a 12 Days of Christmas promotion

You may think it’s too late to run a promotion, but this one is simple to do. Choose a 12-day period in December. Ahead of time, tell your followers that you will be offering a different promotion each day. Then (this is key!) schedule your posts ahead of time. You’ll need one for each day. Here are some examples of promotions:

  • Buy one book, get one free
  • Percentage discount on different books for different days
  • Free shipping
  • Free upgrade to Priority or Overnight shipping as it gets closer to Christmas
  • Free gift wrapping
  • Bonus gift included, such as any personalized merchandise you have (pens, mugs, tote bags, etc)
  • 99 cent ebooks

Be sure to use a custom hashtag, such as #12daysof[booktitle], so your followers can follow the hashtag and receive reminders.

No matter the sales, this type of promotion really ramps up your name recognition in consumers minds. If they don’t purchase your book right away, they will be more likely to remember it when the need arises in the future.

5. Involve the reader

This is a great opportunity to ask your readers to post photos of themselves with your book.  A recent post on Author Marketing Experts offered this idea:

Involve people on a more personal level as their favorite author! Encourage these opportunities!

Do a call on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and ask fans to share images of your book in their cozy holiday reading nooks, or your book with a backdrop of their fantastic tree.

Prepare to comment back because this is how these book marketing efforts make their biggest impact.

Simple, right? Even if you just pick one idea, you’ll see more clicks, traffic, and purchases. Although quick ideas like these can be very effective, at Certa Publishing we recommend a comprehensive marketing strategy that plans ahead for times like the holidays, and we have the resources and services to help you pull it off. Contact us when you’re ready to discuss a long-term marketing plan. We would love to partner with you.

Who are you on social media?

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As a writer, your presence on social media is key. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve seen us discuss follower counts, Twitter, platforms, and social media in depth. Today we’re looking at who you are on social media. You’re probably thinking, “Um, I’m me. Who else would I be? And why are you asking me to be someone I’m not?” Think of it more like a persona or a character.

Still not sure? We’re going to let Christy Huggins of Eventbrite explain in this excerpt of her recent post for Grammarly.

Refining your personality on social media can be a daunting process.

Individuals and brands get into trouble trying to create an entirely new personality on their social media accounts. Social should be a channel for you to deliver and develop a personality—but not to create an entirely new one. That can come off as forced and inauthentic.

If you’re writing social content on behalf of a company or brand, finetuning your personality is about writing copy that taps into your followers’ emotions.

That’s why we teamed up with Grammarly [on a] project where we unveiled five characters that accounts like yours should embody on social media. Find the one that most aligns with your personal or brand voice, and discover the emotions you can inspire.

Character #1: The Cool Curator

We all have that one friend who’s always in the know—the early adopter of new apps and the person we turn to when we need fresh music recommendations. Everyone wants to hang out with her. We want what she’s got.

The types of things your team will post:

  • Behind-the-scenes and in-the-know details
  • Artist or guest speaker sneak peeks
  • Breaking industry news

The emotion you’re going for:

  • Excitement, novelty

Newport Folk Festival is the oldest and most well-known folk festival in the U.S. The brand’s social media presence taps into its deep connections with folk superstars new and old.

Character #2: The Trusted Advisor

When you need advice, you know that this person has done his research, weighed the pros and cons, and possesses innate wisdom. He’s your “expert” friend, and you trust him implicitly.

As a brand, this persona is a thought leader of its genre. If you’re a rock music festival, you’re the rock music festival. Or if you’re a yoga and mindfulness brand, you know how to prove your mettle.

The types of things you’ll post:

  • Insight on a theme, not just about your event or product
  • Friendly advice from well-known personalities
  • “Did you know?” tips

The emotion you’re going for:

  • Confidence

The 3% Conference shares career inspiration, articles with expert guidance, and job opportunities on their Twitter page, which has nearly 20,000 followers.

Character #3: The Feel-Good Friend

Sometimes, we just want to hang out with someone goofy and low-pressure. This is our friend who sees the humor in every situation and is always up for fun just for the sake of it. If this is your persona, your posts will run the gamut from whimsical to humorous, and will typically use bright colors and short, quippy text.

The types of things you’ll post:

  • Colorful images
  • Whimsical captions
  • Funny GIFs
  • Cool memes
  • Inspirational quotes

The emotion you’re going for:

  • Happiness

National pop-up, The Museum of Ice Cream, consistently uses bright, ice-cream-worthy colors and whimsical themes in its social media posts. 

Character #4: The Tempter

The tempter knows the best bars and most picturesque hiking locations. Whether a foodie, a travel inspirer, or a fashionista, his posts always make you want to splurge on something.

The types of things you’ll post:

  • Gorgeous, high-quality shots of refreshments and libations
  • Images and video of attendees enjoying themselves
  • First looks at new vendors

The emotion you’re going for:

  • Desire

 

Eat Drink SF’s social media pages are visual feasts, showcasing the best of San Francisco eats year round — not just when the annual festival approaches. 

Character #5: The Innovator

Your innovator friend is often a tech visionary or an artist. Whatever medium they belong to, one thing is always for sure—they do things their own way.

As a social media persona, the Innovator finds new ways to post and share content. Posts are eye-catching, with a certain spark that makes you want to know more.

The types of things you’ll post:

  • Images and video from new angles
  • Videos capturing unusual situations
  • Think pieces and articles

The emotion you’re going for:

  • Curiosity

San Francisco Ballet is a legendary ballet company, and its social media presence is equally creative. Shots like this are made up of individual posts chopped into sections, then pieced back together in the profile like a visual puzzle.

See, we knew you would understand! So, as a writer, what will your online persona be? Often writers make fabulous “trusted advisors” on their particular topic. However, you could certainly use any of these characters as a voice for your social media brand.

At Certa Publishing we are constantly amazed by the creativity of our writers. But what if the creative marketing juices just aren’t flowing? We’re here for you! Contact us today to learn more about our marketing services, including full-service social media management.

Author Websites: Everything else you need to know

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Having a dedicated author website is more important than you think. It offers credibility, access and a one-stop resource for your readers. But where do you start?

Last week we shared part of Kimberly Grabas’ post entitled 11 Author Website Must Have Elements, which clearly lays out everything you need to set up the perfect site.

We discussed the need for:

  • A good first impression
  • About/bio page
  • Contact information
  • Email sign-up/updates
  • Testimonials

Here is the remainder of her advice:

6. Social Media

There are two areas to focus on when it comes to social media and your site. The first, is to provide visitors the ability to find and follow you on your various social media platforms.

To encourage follows and Likes, add links to your social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook) on your Homepage, About page, and Contact page. Then ask people to follow or Like you. It’s just crazy enough to work. Let’s try it

The second area to focus on regarding social media, is making it super easy for people to share your site and your content with others. To do this:

  • Write amazing content
  • Add a sharing plugin to every page on your site, so visitors can share your pages via all the major social networks.

The free plugin I use on YWP is called SumoMe, but there are many to choose from.

7. Books, Products and Services

Depending on what you have to offer, you may have separate pages for your books, products and services, or combine everything in one. For books, include a large cover shot, an enticing blurb and clear details on purchase options (with links).

You may want to feature your current project on your Homepage. Provide a link to your Book page for visitors to get additional information about the book, get some behind-the-scenes info or promotional materials. (A press/media Kit for each book would be ideal).

Tip: If your books are available on Amazon, join Amazon Associates and you will be provided a code to link your book. You will also get a percentage of whatever a buyer purchases after they click your link–even if it’s not your book (lets hope it’s a T.V.). Once you have signed up for an account, type in your book title. When your title pops up, click “get link”, and Amazon will give you a variety of options to customize your link. Just copy and paste that code where you want it on your site (sidebar, Book page), and your book will show up with a buy link.

8. A Blog

Websites with blogs get 55% more traffic than websites with no blog. As well, having a blog creates fresh, additional pages of content which is great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

If your goals are to be seen by more people, drive potential book buyers back to your site, and establish yourself as an industry authority and thought leader, you need to include a blog on your site.

Here are a few more additional benefits:

  • You can entice your current and future fans with exclusive, unpublished content, inside information and downloadable extras, like sample chapters.
  • Readers find it especially appealing to find out who their favourite author reads or recommends. This is often a missed opportunity to not only engage with your readers, but network with and support your peers. No matter how famous, everyone loves recognition and appreciation, so share the love! This is also a great way to get inbound links–other sites linking back to your site. This too, increases your importance in the eyes of Google.
  • Utilize your blog’s comment section to converse and engage with your audience. You can even encourage interaction between your readers by encouraging them to comment or reply to each others comments.
  • You can have excerpts of your most recent blog posts on your Homepage, which will dynamically update each time you publish. This keeps the content on your Homepage fresh, and encourages people to return for more.
  • A blog gives you the freedom to add additional content and bonuses (see below) without cluttering up your Homepage.

9. Appearances/Speaking Engagements/Latest News/Events

Include a section or page on your site that allows you to inform your fans of your whereabouts and upcoming events. Include things like:

  • Latest News/Events: interviews, blog mentions, reviews and other media coverage items you can share with your audience.
  • Appearances: book readings and signings, speaking engagements, interviews, conferences and professional events, workshops and so on, so your fans can find out the details and attend.

10. Press Page/Media Kit

The purpose of a press page or media kit is to easily provide the media, or anyone wishing to profile you, with the info they need to feature you in their piece.

The contents of a press kit will vary, but here are some of the basics of what you should include:

  • Basic author bio, including contact info.
  • Author photo (use a professional-looking headshot), and any additional photos that can be used when writing about the book.
  • Information about the book, including a sample review, sample chapters.
  • Press release.
  • Testimonials.

The simplest way to make your media kit available is to turn the contents into a PDF. Provide a brief description and a link on a page on your site. Make it easy to find, and consider carrying around a few hardcopies at conferences/events, in case you receive a request for a copy.

11. Bonuses/Extras

Get the creative juices flowing! There are many fantastic ways to build value into your website for your readers and to keep them coming back for more.

  • You can include a slideshow of photographs, sketches, illustrations of characters and locations in your book, and other meaningful images.
  • Add other multimedia like audio files, a podcast, YouTube video and video trailers.
  • Additional research material.
  • If you are an expert in your field, and your book is an extension of your career, include things that spring from the larger context of your work and experience.
  • Younger fans are often interested in contests, games and prizes (autographed books).
  • An author’s favourite book, music, and movie recommendations are also fan favourites, so include these and some of your other influences.
  • Include sneak peeks, additional content that isn’t in your books, main character bios, extra chapters, alternate character POV’s and any other bits that didn’t make the cut. Your readers will love it!

At Certa Publishing, we believe that our authors’ content has the power to transform lives and communities, so we are passionate about people finding your books. An author website is absolutely essential to your marketing. If you still feel intimidated by the process, we would love to help. We can either tweak what you already have or help you find the perfect partner to create one from start to finish. Contact us today!

Author websites: Everything you need to know

authorwebsites

 

We have some bad news. Even if you have the world’s greatest social media interactions and thousands of newsletter subscribers, you’re still missing a key marketing component: the author website.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a killer Facebook page or YouTube channel can take the place of an author website. Having a dedicated URL means something to readers and publishers.

It means:

  • You’re the real deal and that you’re here for the long haul
  • There is an ever-ready source of information about you and your books
  • There is a reliable way to contact you
  • Your content and style can be previewed before someone buys your book

So what should your author site look like? What content is most important? We’re glad you asked! Kimberly Grabas authored the post 11 Author Website Must Have Elements, which we suggest for anyone beginning to build their site.

This week we are excerpting Ms. Grabas’ first 5 essential author website elements here:

1. Designing Your Author Website: Ensure a Good First Impression

Your author website is an essential piece to the successful book marketing puzzle, but as always, first impressions matter. It is tempting to just get something up quickly, that requires little cost, and get back to the joyful torture of writing your novel.

However, while it’s certainly possible to set up your website quickly and with relatively little expense, it is extremely important to remember that your website represents who you are and what you have to offer.

A website will help to increase not only your book’s visibility across the internet, but yours as well. In many cases, it may be your future fans first impression of you–especially if you have not yet published. Make sure that your site reinforces the image you wish to portray.

With your author brand in mind, ask yourself the following questions about your current or new author website:

  • Will people know what I write within seconds?
  • Does the voice, tone, attitude and mood of the site resonate with my ideal reader?
  • Will they understand the page they are on and what it’s about?
  • Will they know what to do next?
  • Does the site appear credible?
  • Is it clear why they should buy my book or subscribe to free updates?
  • What does the site provide the reader?

Just like it’s important to have fresh eyes editing your novel, ask others for their answers to the above questions and get their opinions on the first impressions your site gives rise to. You might be surprised at their answers!

As you design your site, keep both aesthetics and functionality in mind. You don’t need to run out and hire a $12,000 designer to have a professional looking site, but do keep the following in mind:

  • Your site should look clean and uncluttered. Less is more, especially in your sidebar. And white space is your friend.
  • Your site is polished, legible (go for clear, not clever) and spell checked. Choose larger font sizes and colors that are easy to read. Light fonts on dark backgrounds or minimal contrast between font color and backgrounds are difficult to read.
  • Keep navigation easy and clear, so your readers can find the important stuff.
  • Use color to draw attention to select elements. For example, pick one color to be your “action” color. Whenever you want a reader to take action by clicking a link or subscribing, ensure you use that color only for the link or button, and no where else.
  • Avoid a chaotic mix of colors. Instead pick two to four colors for your design template and don’t try to make everything stand out–then nothing will.
  • Avoid anything unnecessary like Flash (Apple currently doesn’t support Flash), animated backgrounds or music. If your site takes a long time to load, or doesn’t work on a mobile device (iPad), you will lose a large number of visitors to your site.
  • Keep elements consistent from page to page.
  • Is your site branded for longevity? Is it book/genre specific or limiting, given your future writing plans? You do not want to rebrand or redesign the next time you publish.
  • Remember, your site has to be compatible with different browsers and devices, so check how things look on multiple browsers, tablets and phones.
  • Create content that is useful, engaging and well organized. Your posts and copy must be easy to scan. (Ugh, I know! As a fellow writer who bleeds over every word, I feel your pain!) People read differently online, so use bulleted lists, section headers and short paragraphs to convey your message, and learn the importance of writing a magnetic headline.

2. About/Bio Page

About pages are among the most frequently visited pages on the internet. Your readers want to know more about you, and this is the place to tell them.

Even as a visitor is delving into what you’re all about, what they are really thinking is WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?) Keep this in mind as you incorporate some of these ideas into your about page:

  • Consider having a professional headshot and short blurb from your homepage with a link to your About page for more information.

1. Start with a persuasive headline, that lets your visitor know what they can expect.

2. Reassure your readers that they are in the right place and tell them what your site will give them.

3. Strengthen your credibility with some testimonials, reader quotes or other forms of social proof (more on this below).

4. Tell your personal story. Frame your content around what led you to writing, why you write the kind of books you do, what you love about it. Make sure your personality shines through! You can also include your writing credentials and professional associations.

5. If a visitor gets to this point in your about page, you’ve got them interested. Ask them to join your email list, and provide a link to your books, services or other products.

Here are more ideas:

  • What do you want to know about your favourite author? Include that.
  • Keep your About page and Bio up to date.
  • Link to your Media Kit/Press page if you have one.
  • Be personal, but be careful not to over share; stay professional.

3. Contact Information

It’s surprising how difficult authors will make it for their readers (media, agents, publishers…) to contact them. There might be a tiny email address buried at the bottom of their website or noted on some obscure page deep within their blog. DO NOT make your visitors hunt for your contact information!

If your goal is to engage with your readers online, don’t play hard to get.

Make it as easy as possible for someone to get a hold of you. Here’s what to do:

  • Have a contact tab in your top main menu that leads to a page with your preferred ways to be contacted. Don’t list every possible way you can be found, just the best ways. If you use a contact form, make sure it’s simple and you’re only asking for the info you require to get back to that person. If you note your email address, use yourname[dot]com to avoid spam harvesters. 
  • You can also encourage your readers to get in touch with you via the social platform(s) you are most active on.
  • Provide multiple ways for people to contact, follow and Like you. It’s not your readers’ job to find you. It’s your job to be where your readers are.

4. Email Sign Up/Updates

It is never too early to start collecting email subscribers. Early sign ups are the most likely to be your biggest fans and most ardent supporters. These are the people that will forward your new releases and insider updates to their friends, evangelize you on Twitter, attend your events or push up your sales rank on Amazon when they hurry to get your new book.

I highly recommend using Aweber to manage your email list. Using a high quality, industry leader for your email list management is important to ensure your emails get to your fans and not their spam boxes. It’s easy to use, with tons of step by step videos, and very helpful customer service if you get stuck. And putting your form on your site is as easy as copying and pasting.

A few additional tips:

  • Don’t panic! You do not have to produce a newsletter every week. Catherine Ryan Howard at Catherine, Caffeinated makes a point of letting you know up front that “nothing much happens… an email about once a month will cover it…” Just keep in mind that you should not be ‘selling’ something every time (and the only time) you contact your subscribers.
  • Just an email address, or first name and email address is enough info. You don’t want to scare people off by asking for more.
  • Your email optin box should be bigger and bolder than other elements on the page, but don’t overdo it.
  • Make all links and buttons your ‘action’ color (as above). And make sure your links and buttons look clickable.
  • Consider including a signup incentive, like a promo code for your latest book, a bonus chapter, a sneak preview of your next book, or a free chapter from a different character’s POV.

5. Testimonials

Social proof, testimonials and positive quotes from fans and reviewers can go a long way in increasing your credibility and authority with visitors to your author website.

Place real, short and powerful testimonials on your site. Include positive reviews, quotes from fan mail, notable media coverage, and if you have a significant following on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Wattpad and so on, note it.

Great locations for your fan testimonials are your About page, Homepage and on your sidebar, just under your email sign up form.

Come back next week for the remainder of this comprehensive list of must-have author website elements.

Keep in mind that Certa Publishing is here to help, no matter where you are in the process of building your author site. We can recommend who to partner with for website design or simply look over the one you’ve already built. We’d love to hear from you!

Book Translation: Pitfalls to avoid

 

TWO (1)

It seems simple. You want to sell your book internationally, so you need to have your book translated. Between your Spanish co-worker, Portuguese sister-in-law and French professor, it shouldn’t be so hard. Maybe you can pay them a bit or barter services. Simple, right? Not so fast.

Here are the translation pitfalls you’re not thinking of:

1. Translation can put your copyrights in danger

A little-known fact is that a translator can claim the copyrights to their work. Surprisingly, this is legal! According to their site, the U.S. Copyright office may consider “a translation of a novel written in English into another language translation” a “derivative work,” and its rights available to be claimed by the translator.

In order to prevent this, we recommend that you have a legally-binding agreement with your translator drafted before the work begins, which clearly delineates who will retain rights to your work.

2. Translation must include localization

Even a perfectly accurate translation can miss the mark. Why? Because localization is just as important. Localization is the process of evaluating your manuscript through the lens of the local reader. Do your examples make sense? Are your jokes still funny? Are there references that are acceptable in English, but offensive in another language?

In her post, What You Need to Know About Translating Your Book, Daniella Levy states:

Localization is a term used in the business world to describe the process of adapting a product to an audience in a new locale…

A good book translation is more than simply saying the same thing in a new language. It requires careful adaptation of the tone, message, and structure of the piece to maintain the power of the original without causing misunderstandings.

In order to localize your manuscript, Ms. Levy recommends that you hire a professional translator:

Not every native speaker makes a good translator! Because you usually don’t read in the target language or know a native speaker, you may never know the quality of your product. Your best bet is hiring a reputable translation service with good credentials.

3. Don’t forget the marketing!

Let’s think about all the work you have (or will) put into getting your book into the hands of English-speaking readers. Market research. Paid promotion. Building social media platforms. And so much more. These efforts will need to be replicated in your international markets as well. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that simply publishing your book in another language will ensure sales.

For this reason, before you begin the translation process at all, we recommend taking a big-picture view of international marketing to ensure that are ready to make such a commitment.

The solution

Surely now it’s obvious that your Portuguese sister-in-law is not going to be up to the task of translating your book, no matter her mastery of the language. It’s time to turn to a professional. Here’s where Certa can help. We recently launched our translation services.

First-rate book translation is now offered from English into the following languages: Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese. Not only that, we are also offering editing, proofreading and typesetting services in these languages.

Spanish is currently the most popular language pair for publishers and authors in the United States. If you have considered expanding your work to reach the Hispanic populationbut didnt know howthe time is now! The number of Hispanics in the United States is growing exponentially, with over 50 million Latinos in the US alone. Certa Publishing can now help you reach this vital market. The doors to new opportunities are now open!

Let the words the Lord placed in your heart be seen by the eyes of many. Even those you never thought you could reach. Contact us today!

 

Consistency: The key to building a platform

CONSISTENCY_

You’ve heard it before. Before you can sell books, you need a platform. A fan base. A loyal following. But how exactly is this accomplished? Just by being awesome? If only it were that easy. Platforms are built just like anything—one piece at a time. Social media posts. Blogs posts. Email newsletters. But if you’re going to build sporadically, waiting for inspiration to strike, you will struggle to gain traction. Consistency is key. Here are three ways to use consistency to build your platform:

1. Be consistent in your branding

When you see those golden arches, you know it’s McDonald’s. No guessing required. Same with the Nike swoosh. Would your “brand” be quickly familiar to your audience? If not, you can change that today.

James McCrae offered this simple advice in his post for Forbes:

Your brand voice includes a visual presentation. Choose a distinct color palette, typography and logo. Have a professional headshot taken and use the same photo consistently across all touchpoints. Make it easy for your fans to recognize your brand from a mile away.

Look at this example from the team at Risen Motherhood.

Their Facebook page:

rm fb

Their Instagram account:

Screenshot 2018-06-17 at 3.35.08 PM

 

Their website:

Screenshot 2018-06-17 at 3.35.37 PM

 

What do you notice? There’s nothing fancy here, but there is consistency of colors, logo and style. Now it’s your turn. Go to your website, blog, author pages and each of your social media accounts. Is your “branding” consistent? If not, take the time to make that change.

2. Be consistent on your blog and social media

The days of posting online only when inspiration strikes are over. In order to build your platform and keep your audience engaged, you need to be consistent on your blog and social media. Are you saying I have to write or post something every day? I don’t have the time or even the ideas to do that. Take a deep breath. We recently profiled author Natalie Brenner who went from having a very small platform to being a bestselling author. She explains how she became more consistent:

I honed my voice and began writing more consistently on my website.

Creating a blog calendar to post at least once a week helped.

Just write — goal was to spend less than 90 minutes per post, publish, and share.

We always encourage our Certa authors to make the most of their content by leveraging it for social media posts. Your manuscript is likely full of quotes and scriptures that can be easily dropped onto an image and posted on social media. Graphic tools like Canva and social media managers like Buffer make it easier than ever to do so.

Quick-format social media also makes consistency easier. You can easily jump on Instagram stories each day to share an inspiring thought, poll your audience or share a photo related to your work. Twitter is also the perfect place for shooting out a quick thought, interesting link or question.

3. Consistently ask your audience to take action

Building a platform is much more than gaining Facebook likes. It involves converting the passive “scroller” to an active consumer of your writing, both paid and free. So how do you create this funnel? By consistently asking your audience to take action. Most writers do this by inviting their followers to join an email list. James McCrae offers this advice:

It’s important to know what action you want your audience to take and gear your efforts toward that conversion. Having a large email list is the metric that publishers value most. Email lists are weighed heavier than social media followers because email is a more stable communication platform. Having an email newsletter creates a deeper relationship with your audience and is less likely to be ignored than social posts. Platforms such as Mailchimp make it easy to build and manage an email list.

Of course, once you have an email list established, you have to send emails! Not sure what to include? Check out 20 Ideas for Your Author Newsletter Email, which includes some great ideas like:

  • Fun facts about your writing process
  • Blog posts from other blogs you admire
  • Book Signing and Event Dates

At Certa Publishing, we recognize that many of our authors lead very busy lives and find it difficult to be consistent in building a platform. We would love to help you in this area. We can help you create a social media calendar, manage your social media entirely or even provide ghostwriting for your blog. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Natalie Brenner: How a first-time author became a bestseller without a large platform

Natalie Brenner_

Most bestselling authors have several not-so-best-sellers under their belt. Or they have a massive platform from which to promote their book. However, the following story by author Natalie Brenner proves that with a little (well, a lot) of hard work and focus, a writer with a small platform can achieve fantastic success on the first try. Enjoy this excerpt from her post Why I Stopped Waiting to Win the Lottery and Just Published My Book:

It was nearly midnight when I desperately tweeted to my 300 precious followers, “Does anyone have any sort of literary agent connection they could hook me up with?

I had little to no idea how to go about getting the book burning inside me published. It felt impossible to get a publisher to bat an eye at little ol’ me. Because really, I had little to no platform and in order to win the lottery of a traditional publisher, I needed a platform.

None of my blog posts had gone viral.

I had been blogging for six years and had 56 dear subscribers.

I felt really successful when a single blog post had over 100 views.

Combining my Facebook friends, Facebook page fans, Twitter and Instagram followers, I had about 1500 names in my social circle.

Platform? What is that? Surely someone will just notice me.

Though my online community was small, I still had countless people asking me when I was going to start writing books. I wanted to have started yesterday, but I didn’t know where to begin or if I could start with so little of a following.

Nine months after tweeting that desperate request, my book This Undeserved Life was released. It became a bestseller in six different Amazon categories, sold over 500 copies the first week and 1000 copies the first month. It remained number one in the Family Health and Adoption category for most of its release. Within 3 weeks it had over 50 reviews on Amazon.

I have since had dozens of readers reach out and ask me about my next book. I have a traditional publisher inviting me to draw up a proposal for my next book. I have had requests to create and offer a course or coaching on various topics. To some, these numbers may be miniscule. To me, they are both mind-blowing and humbling.

In January 2017, I started my email list at a whopping zero when I transferred my website and lost my dear, dear 56 committed community members.

My goal was to build a list of 1000 subscribers by release day — September 18.

To me, this goal was big: I am a full-time photographer, a full-time work at home mom to two toddlers (both under one-year-old at the time of starting the book), and a wife to a full-time unpaid graduate student. And we are involved in church and community events.

My time to give my book and online community (platform) building was at zero, but I moved around priorities and worked my butt off. The goal was met. But not without hard work, determination, and belief in myself and my message.

Have I yet mentioned I began writing this book with two babies under one-year-old as well as a growing photography business? Just want to make sure that is clear: I am not sitting around with tons of time to pursue this, just as you aren’t.

So, how in the world did little ol’ me, a blogger of seven years with a minuscule platform — can I even call it a platform? — become a best-selling author nine months later?

Writing This Undeserved Life was a painful, difficult labor of love and it followed many years of unsuccessfully creating the online community I had hoped for. Let’s dive into the process.

Identity

It all began with grabbing ahold of my identity as a writer.

I grabbed ahold of it tightly and began calling myself and acting like a writer.

A mental shift happened: I began to take myself seriously.

The why

Since reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, I knew the importance to start with why.

Why did I want to write this book? Why did I think the world needed it? Why is this book anything different than what’s already available?

Study the pros

After I processed why I wanted to write This Undeserved Life and why I believed the world would be better if it was created, I began studying people who were successful in the book writing, marketing, and selling world as well as people who were successful in my genre.

Just do it

At the end of the day, I just had to do it. Here were the steps I took to write and self-publish This Undeserved Life, in nine months:

I just started doing it

No one is motivated to run a marathon before they start running. Maybe they are, but they’re crazy. When I was training for the Portland Marathon, beginning every training run was difficult.

It wasn’t until I started doing it that I gained motivation.

This was the same for writing my book: I knew there was so much work ahead, but I knew it wouldn’t happen over night.

I simply started showing up and doing the work.

Redesigned and used my website + blog

I honed my voice and began writing more consistently on my website.

Creating a blog calendar to post at least once a week helped.

Just write — goal was to spend less than 90 minutes per post, publish, and share.

Expand my circle — influencers

I set out to use my website as a place to interview other authors in my genre who I admire.

I sent emails and explained to them why I loved their book(s), how I’ve implemented their advice or tips, and asked if I could do an interview and book giveaway.

Most said yes, others said no. I conducted interviews via phone, Skype, and email.

I built my email list

After I read and heard how incredibly important email lists are, I began putting a good amount of energy into creating a safe community.

I created a grief guide ebook, Wholeness Despite the Brokenness, and offered it for free to anyone who wanted to download it. I also created an adoption fundraising guide, Financing Adoption with Fundraising.

I found a groove sending out emails to my dear community every other week.

I love this community; they helped me pick my title, my author photo, and more. I want to give my community only good and valuable things.

I wrote my manuscript

While doing these steps and chipping away at everything I could, I was also working on my manuscript. My first draft made my eyes bleed. I rewrote and erased and rewrote the next draft.

The important thing was: I got it out. I wrote the first draft (and then the second and third…)

Make an influencer list and ask for endorsements

I created a three-tier influencer list. These were people I wanted to write an endorsement, and give me a shout out or two.

My first tier was names of people who I knew would say “yes” to reading and endorsing my book. A few were writing and podcast friends, one was a best friend, and the rest were people on my email list.

My second-tier list were people of whom I wasn’t sure would say “yes” to endorsing my book, but I thought might. Most of them were influencers of sorts, whether a popular blog or podcaster or author.

My third-tier list were people who I highly doubted would respond to me, but would make my year if they read and endorsed my book.

I began with tier one: sending clear emails, asking them to read my book, and write a few lines to endorse it. This would be used either for the inside the book, or my website. I gave a deadline. When they responded with “yes,” I sent the PDF immediately.

Once I had a couple, I wrote to each individual influencer on list number two. They were similar emails, but specific to each influencer. I told the author, podcaster, speaker — whatever their respective title — why I was thankful for their work, and how I had used their advice. Then I shared two sentences about my book, along with an endorsement I had received. I asked if they’d be willing to read it and do the same. When they said “yes,” I sent it right away with the deadline. When they said “no,” I asked if I could send them a copy of my book to read for a giveaway or shout out.

I did this with the third tier as well. Each person who responded gave me their address. So even if I didn’t receive an endorsement, I have permission to mail them a copy of my book to share on their social media.

Book launch time — don’t do this alone

Nothing in my life that has been successful has been done alone. I knew I needed a community, and specifically the community I had been working hard to create and build.

I set up a Facebook Group to invite readers to help me launch This Undeserved Life. I gave everyone the manuscript digitally and asked their help on finishing touches of the cover.

This group remains a strong support network: I have loved the community built around This Undeserved Life through that group.

Tim Grahl has an entire podcast series and website that guides you on how to successfully launch a book. I listened to the entire series twice.

Publish and release!

My book is now available on Amazon and has been sold across the globe.

I believe in the message of This Undeserved Life.

There have been purchases from multiple countries and continents, and not because I’m someone fancy. I chose to do the hard work it required.

And, so can you.

At Certa Publishing, we can vouch for Natalie’s experience. We’ve seen firsthand that authors who demonstrate this type of determination and focus consistently succeed, often surpassing everyone’s expectations! If you would like a partner in this complex publishing process, contact us to learn more about our services.

A Quick Guide to Book Trailers

a quick guide tobook trailers

You’re already intimidated, aren’t you?

A book trailer?

You want me to make a video?

I’m a writer, not a video producer and editor!

Take a deep breath. We get it.

The idea of making a book trailer can be so overwhelming that most emerging authors skip it altogether. But give us a few minutes and you may find that the idea is much less daunting, and even more exciting than you realize.

Three types of book trailers

There are basically three types of book trailers and your choice depends both on how much money (if any) you can spend, as well as your technical ability:

1. The animated trailer – Think Powerpoint but better. You are basically using a presentation software to make slides containing images, book art, video and text. These slides are then merged into a video file that can be uploaded to YouTube or other mediums.

In his article How to Make a Book Trailer, Henry Herz offers a great overview of some apps you can use to create a polished, simple (and possibly free) book trailer.

  • Animoto: Make 30-second animated trailers for $8 per month.
  • Prezi: Make click-through presentations that are trailer-quality.
  • Photoshow: You’ll love how easy it is to use, but keep in mind that the free version only lasts 30 days.

Here is an example of a book trailer for Life of Pi, which was made in Animoto:

 

2. The author-driven trailer- This trailer focuses on the author. It can be an interviwe or simply you talking to the camera. This can be as simple or complex as you like. All you need is a camera, good lighting, some editing experience and a well-crafted pitch. The good news is that most newer iPhones and Android phones have both the recording and editing ability to create a quite professional-looking video. But if you’re not comfortable doing the recording yourself, you can hire a film student or local photographer with a nice camera.

The beauty of this type of book trailer is that the reader doesn’t just get introduced to the book, but also to you, which offers them an immediate connection. If they find themselves relating to you personally, they are much more likely to give your book a try.

Do you think the author-driven trailer is only for those on a budget? Well, check out this one that New York Times bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst produced for her recent book Uninvited:

 

3. The Hollywood-style book trailer– Yes, this one won’t be free, but it’s the most likely to go viral and hold the viewer’s attention. However, with some creativity, a Hollywood-style trailer doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. Free software such as iMovie (already installed on Apple computers) and MovieMaker (free to download for Windows users), make it easier than ever to create a very polished trailer. You can either hire a videographer to capture the footage you need, or you can tap into free stock footage resources like this one.

Here’s an example of a fairly simple book trailer that contains enough high-quality effects to keep you watching:

 

One last thing

Don’t make the trailer about you. Don’t even make it about your book. Instead, make the trailer about an idea. As marketing guru Jeff Goins says,

It doesn’t take a big budget, but it does take a big idea. Successful marketing is about spreading a worthy idea in an interesting and surprising way that makes your audience the hero. Video is a powerful way to do that, so long as you do it right.

Your video should be an engaging narrative that draws the reader in and leaves them wanting more. Just a like a movie trailer that elicits a “oooh we have to see that” response, your trailer should elicit a “oooh I have to read that” response. (Note that this is a different response than, “that author seems very smart,” or “that book is full of good information.”)

Perhaps you’re on board with the concept of a book trailer, but still unsure of your ability to pull it off. We would love to help you! Certa Publishing has created many book trailers for our authors and we would be glad to do the same for you. Head over here for more information, including pricing and some of our work. We look forward to hearing from you.