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.

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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.

 

Outside-the-Box Marketing Ideas

out-of-the-box (1)

If you’ve spent any time researching ways to market your book, you’ve likely found one common ingredient: cost. Marketing is expensive! And if you’ve just laid out money to self-publish or partner-publish, chances are that you don’t have lots of extra cash lying around to spend on promoting your book.

Fortunately, with a bit of creativity and ambition, there are plenty of out-of-the-box marketing ideas that are sure to increase your readership without significantly decreasing your bank account.

Check out these ideas:

Give your book away

Wait, what? Yes, that’s right. Give your book away. But to the right people. We loved this creative idea from emerging author Brent Jones:

I called and emailed local libraries and independent bookstores, offering them free print copies of my book. Most of them agreed to take it.

Getting my book in the hands of independent bookstores (two free copies each) and local libraries (one free copy per branch) — 26 copies in total — cost me about $195 CAD ($140 USD) for printing and shipping.

I also bought some plastic business card holders and asked each independent bookstore if I could leave a small stack of promotional cards by their cash register. Every one of them agreed.

In total, my book can be purchased locally at seven different bookstores and six different libraries.

I’ve also been booked for four author events at local libraries.

Be news-worthy

Brent noted that giving his book away to bookstores and libraries enabled him to use our next idea… Be news-worthy.

[Donating my book] gave me a new angle: Fort Erie author supports local arts and commerce by donating his debut novel to bookstores and libraries.

I positioned my pitch to local media outlets as an opportunity to discuss the importance of local arts and literacy. And it worked:

snapd Niagara Falls came out to cover my donation to the Niagara Falls Public Library. CogecoTV, the local television station, invited me to appear on their show, What’s New? to discuss my book. And I was also interviewed by Niagara This Week, for an article titled, “Fort Erie author pens debut novel.”

Local media can be an excellent marketing resource and it’s free! You may think that scoring a spot on your city’s morning talk show would be difficult, but keep in mind that the producers of those shows have to fill several hours of airtime every morning, so they are always on the lookout for good content. And what better content than a homegrown author who is donating his or her books?

Not sure how to land a media interview? This post has great info, as well as our previous post, Three Easy Ways to Land Media Appearances.

Offer yourself as an expert

Is your book theology-based? Contact your local seminary and religious universities and offer yourself as a speaker in their weekly chapel or any upcoming seminars. More than likely you will be promoted in their on-campus literature and you will be able to set up a table for signing books. Be sure to donate few books to their library.

Is your book focused on a particular industry? Offer yourself as a free speaker at conferences and tradeshows. Even large companies may bring you in to speak at employee workshops and training sessions. Be sure to email them flyers with your info that they can use to promote your appearance.

Is your book inspirational in nature? Offer yourself to local counseling groups, such as grief and divorce support groups. Contact women’s clubs, retirement centers, and moms groups to see if they need speakers. Bring along a few copies of your book to give away.

You may not see yourself as an expert, but that fact that you’ve written a book on a particular subject offers you more credibility than you think. It means that you have put a great deal of time into researching, thinking and praying about your subject. Be confident in what you offer to others!

Support a charity

We all have charities that are near and dear to our heart. And don’t we wish we could give more to those amazing groups? Your book offers you a tool to do just that. Cathy Presland offers this creative idea in a post for Author Unlimited:

Run a big charity fundraiser so that for every book sold on a certain day or a certain week you give all or part of the profits to a charity of your choice (or better yet, run a fundraiser and then send everyone who donates a free pdf of your book…)

For example, if you have friends saving up for an international adoption, let your audience know that proceeds from your book sales will go towards that couple. Then ask your friends to share this information with their circle of friends.

Also, in times of national tragedy or disaster, such as a flood or hurricane, you can do the same, with proceeds going to the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, etc.

While these ideas may require a little legwork on your part, they can be highly effective, not only in their frugality, but also their marketing reach. At Certa Publishing, we have become an expert at helping emerging authors market their books. We would love to do some out-of-the-box brainstorming with you! Contact us today.

5 Publishing Trends You Can’t Ignore

5 publishing trends you can't ignore

Your content is amazing. Revolutionary. It’s been talked through, prayed through, sliced and diced from every angle. You’ve cut out favorite paragraphs, even chapters. You’ve sat through meetings and Skype sessions and sent thousands of emails. And finally, it’s time to hold that glorious, printed book in your hands.

But what if all of that work isn’t quite enough to get that book out of your hands and into the hands of your reader? Unfortunately, amazing content can easily get lost among the competition.

At Certa Publishing, we know that it’s the writers who anticipate the ever-changing market and readers’ needs that stand out from the crowd. So let’s look at some of the current publishing trends:

Getting personal

The trend in newsletter marketing can be summed up in one word: unsubscribe. Since readers are quicker to opt out of mass market email, authors must find a way to make their emails feel more personal. A recent post on Written Word Media quotes Kevin Tumlinson of Draft2Digital, who offers this insight:

To combat newsletter fatigue, authors are starting to become far more personal with their readers, simplifying newsletters to plain text, removing graphics, and refining their copy to something softer than a marketing pitch. The author’s personal empowerment will start, in part, with a more personalized email newsletter.

More non-fiction

The past year has offered a tremendous amount of political and cultural turbulence. You won’t find many corners of the country or the populace where these disruptions haven’t reached. As such, the thirst for non-fiction is on the rise; particularly non-fiction that helps the reader interpret current events. We suggest that you evaluate your marketing efforts in light of this trend. How does your book speak to an audience searching for meaning and a way forward during tumultuous times?

Covers: Bold, pink and clean

Many authors make the calamitous error of designing a book cover based on their own preferences and style. And yet, this entirely misses the point of a cover: to attract the reader. So which cover styles are currently getting the job done? The Digital Reader has compiled a list here, which we think is worth perusing. And yes… pink is on the list!

Cross-promotion

Another trend in publishing is cross-promotion. Writers are collaborating with each other through various joint ventures in order to tap into each other’s audiences and thereby grow their own.

In her post 15 Self-Publishing Trends to Watch in 2018, Jessica Ruscello offers this prediction:

We’ll see cross genre and cross-product promotion, as writers take cues from digital creatives with brick-and-mortar retail partnerships. Collaboration projects between digital influencers was common in 2017, and we’ll see authors, bloggers, and influencers in both the print and the digital space work together to leverage each other’s audience for mutual benefit.

Live seminars, webinars, and videos

Your reader wants more of you than the written word. They want to see images of your daily life (think Instagram), read articles you find interesting (think Twitter) and see what inspires you (think Pinterest). Yet among these many tools, the one trending most is live seminars, webinars, and videos.

It’s simpler than you might think. You simply prepare a discussion or presentation, based on the content in your book. Next, you invite the reader to log on at a specific time for the video. Using a service like Facebook Live makes this process even simpler by alerting all of your followers when you’ve “gone live.”  Another great feature is that your viewers can interact with you in real time and even ask questions or make comments along the way.

Think Media has created this great tutorial that will get you on your way to your first Facebook live event.

 

Whether it’s taking a second look at your cover design or a first look at live videos, we encourage you to stay on top of the trends in publishing so that your incredible, God-given content can make its way into the hands of those who need it.

How can Certa Publishing help you? Contact us today.

Five Ways to Grow Your Platform

5 Ways to Grow Your Platform (2)

If the thought of “building your fan base” or “growing your audience” overwhelms you, you’re certainly not alone. Creating an online platform isn’t a one click task, but there are ways to maneuver the often confusing road to successfully building your online reach.

The 5 major stages of the journey to grow your platform according to Michael Hyatt are as follows: Definition, Activation, Attraction, Monetization, and Optimization. If you’re tired of feeling like you’re writing to nobody and posting for no one to see but yourself, keep reading. I’ve adapted his 5 stages and action steps in order to best serve you, our Certa authors.


1. Definition – Gain clarity

As you work on finding your voice and creating a brand for yourself, you are considering the unique, God-given message you have to share. How will it impact the people that receive it? Determine exactly what your message is going to be.

Action steps:

  • Survey your readers
  • Write a core value proposition
  • Create a brand slogan
  • Develop your brand components (logo, photos, etc.)


2. Activation – Create content

Whether it’s a blog, vlog, podcast, or website, you’re launching your home base that will be the source of your main content. You’re beginning to work on gaining your first followers and learning how to serve them through great content in a consistent fashion.

Action steps:

  • Establish your home base
  • Select your primary content categories
  • Determine your voice
  • Commit to a publication schedule


3. Attraction – Attract customers

Your content is being created and published, but now you want to share it with as many people as you can. This is done by developing your social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), building an email list, and trying to increase your home base traffic.

Action steps:

  • Install an email collection form
  • Create a compelling email incentive
  • Choose a primary social media channel
  • Develop a social media strategy


4. Monetization – Generate cash

Once you have a solidified subscriber list and following, you want to serve them even better by increasing your income through online revenue. It’s time to explore affiliate links, selling ads, and creating original products (think eBooks, webinars, workbooks, conferences, etc.).

Action steps:

  • Understand your relationship to money
  • Consider advertising income
  • Maximize affiliate opportunities
  • Develop your own products


5. Optimization – Build a company

Finally freed from the demands of a day job, you can work on maximizing your impact and optimizing your results. By building infrastructure, developing workflows, and hiring a team, you can learn to empower others to spread the message that started this whole process.

Action steps:

  • Learn how to delegate
  • Establish a hiring process
  • Identify and define key workflows
  • Pay attention to the numbers

At Certa Publishing, we know that these steps can be intimidating, so we are here to guide and assist our authors. Contact us today!

Our Fave (Free) Marketing Tool: Word of mouth

Our Fave (Free) Marketing Tool

Perhaps you’ve been there. You need a book on a particular topic. Let’s say: dealing with tyrannical toddlers (oy!). So you head to Amazon or your local bookstore. You search and peruse for half an hour, yet walk away emptyhanded. Why? All the books look great, but nothing convinced you to pull the trigger.

The next day at work you overhear a coworker beaming at “what a great morning I had with my 3-year-old!” She goes on to relay all the great tips she learned in a parenting book she’s reading and before she can finish, you’ve already ordered the book. Price? Cover? Who cares? She says the book works so you’re buying it!

What happened here? That parenting book received the most valuable marketing available: word of mouth.

In his book Sell Your Book Like Wildfiremarketing guru Rob Eager offers great advice on garnering word-of-mouth marketing. We’ve combed through his tips and summarized them for you here:

Give your book away for free

Yes, that’s what we said. And not just one chapter. Everyone is giving away one chapter. We’re talking about taking a portion of your material, repackaging it and giving it away for free. Doing so whets the appetite of your audience, engenders their gratitude and gives them an easy way to pass along your content (and name) to their friends. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Condense your main points into a “challenge” for your readers to participate in. For example, “30 day weight loss challenge,” or “21-days to a more peaceful home,” etc. Offer the free download on your website or social media.
  • Offer your entire book for free on Amazon as an e-book for 30 days. Sound crazy? Rob Eager says:

    Look at the issue this way: If you offer your book for free, get a few hundred people to read it, and they generate word of mouth, you just built a fast-growing platform of nearly a thousand people—at almost no cost…  In contrast, let’s say you give your book away for free, but very few people read it or tell their friends. That’s still a blessing, because you found out that our book isn’t very good without taking a huge risk.

  • Offer a free resource as a companion to your book. Based on the type of book you’ve written, consider if you can create a study guide, podcast, recipe booklet or printables to go along with your book. Give away this tool via your website, conference booth and social media.

Utilize your biggest fans

Are you noticing that your work is attracting not just passive readers, but active fans? Perhaps you’re receiving increasing numbers of emails, social media comments and great attendance at public appearances. If so, it’s time to mobilize your biggest fans to become your biggest marketers.

But don’t worry that you’re unfairly taking advantage of these readers. This only works if you truly reward your fans for their word-of-mouth efforts. So how is this done? First, invite your readers to join a special club. You can do this through emails, newsletters, social media and your website. Explain that you will be asking them to do different marketing tasks, in exchange for some fun perks.

Then periodically send out an email blast asking them to:

  • Post a review of your book on Amazon
  • Mention your book on social media
  • Give your book to key leaders and influencers
  • Host a book club

As your fans do these tasks, reward them by:

  • Giving away free merchandise
  • Offering special discounts
  • Giving them inside access to you via local meet-ups or online Skype sessions

At Certa Publishing, we know that there is no better marketing than a passionate reader who loves to talk about your book. We hope that these tips will help your word-of-mouth marketing to grow so that more readers are introduced to your message. Contact us today for help with any of your marketing and publishing needs!

 

What’s in it for me?

What's in it for me_

We would love to tell you that all readers are motivated by a pure interest in hearing your story and supporting you as an author. But honestly, those traits likely only apply to one person… your mother. The truth is that readers choose books based on the question “What’s in it for me?” In the same way that people purchase food to satisfy their hunger and hire plumbers to fix their drains, readers buy books that will do something for them: either entertain, inspire or educate.

While the idea of self-interest may seem greedy, it has been proven to be one of the greatest generators of capitalistic societies, such as the one we enjoy in the United States. In his acclaimed work The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Scottish philosopher Adam Smith notes that free markets are enabled by the self-interest of its laborers:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

With this information in hand, we must change our approach to marketing, In his book, Sell Your Book Like WildfireRob Eager states:

You will maximize the power of your marketing when you take the focus off yourself and place it on satisfying the self-interests of others. Let go of the idea that the public may be fascinated that you’re an author. Concentrate on answering their internal question: ‘What’s in it for me?’

So what does this look like practically?

1. Offer expert insight

When searching for a recipe, why do we often seek out successful chefs’ cookbooks? Because we want assurance that the recipe is tried and true and will turn out just as expected. In the same way, your reader has a problem they are trying to solve. They need an expert to help them. They don’t want advice from a novice.

I’m not expert, you may be thinking. But wait. Have you experienced something, learned from it and come through the other side with fresh insight and wisdom? Then you are an expert in that  subject.

  • Have you walked through a difficult divorce and found wholeness and healing? You’re an expert.
  • Have you started a business, launched a product or been promoted through your field? You’re an expert.
  • Have you walked through infertility, miscarriage, or extended singleness and still found God to be faithful? You’re an expert.

Leverage these experiences to offer hope, help and tips to those who are at the beginning of a similar journey.

2. Offer value

Tell the reader specifically what value your book offers.

Instead of saying:

This book chronicles my experience with cancer,

say

I will help you face cancer as an informed and empowered patient.

Which would you be more likely to purchase?

Rob Eager suggests using “value statements” in your marketing. These statements begin with the phrase “I will help you _________,” such as:

  • I will help you live with confidence instead of fear.
  • I will help your company build teams that finish tasks faster with less conflict.
  • I will help you regain the pain-free life you used to enjoy.

3. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes

Who is your reader? Why are they looking for a book on your subject? What problem are they trying to solve? One of the best ways to put yourself in your reader’s shoes is to think back to why you chose to write your book. Rob Eager asks:

What was the big reason that drove you to expend so much mental and emotional effort? consider the central reasons you were motivated to write you book. Had you recently overcome a challenge? Did you see injustice that needed to be addressed? Were you moved by the headlines that laid the foundation for a compelling story? If you experienced a personal result in your own life that led you to write your book, then that same result is probably true for many of you readers…

Thus, examine how the message of your book improved your own life. then use that knowledge to write powerful value statements for others.

At Certa Publishing, we see every day the value that our authors offer. We are passionate about helping you spread your message and attract as many readers as possible. Contact us today to see how we can partner with you.

 

 

Have You Overlooked This Free (but Amazing) Marketing Tool?

 

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The writing world is full of expensive marketing tools. But there is one completely free tool that many authors are either neglecting entirely or failing to use to it’s potential: the Amazon Author Page.

But I already have a website, a Facebook page, and a LinkedIn page… do I really need this too? YES. While your other platforms may be well-done and informational, they are often only found when a reader intentionally seeks you out. However, an Amazon Author Page “lives” where readers live: on Amazon. Once the reader has found one of your books, it only takes one click to send them to this in-depth resource. And did we mention that it is free?

Still not sure what we’re talking about? Head over to author Paul Wilbur’s Amazon Author Page. With the help of Certa, Paul was able to create a dynamic, informative page that is helping him sell books and engage with his readers.

So let’s get started:

  1. Head here and follow the instructions for setting up your page.
  2. Add a biography. That’s the blurb that shows up on the left of the page. Make it brief, yet amazing. (You’re a writer after all!) Don’t forget to mention any awards you’ve won and links to your other platforms (website, social media, etc). Be sure to include your Twitter handle, since Amazon will auto-update your page with your latest tweets (yet another reason to keep those tweets interesting and fresh.)
  3. Add events. Include upcoming speaking events, book tour dates or podcast releases. Be sure to keep this up-to-date and remove any old events. Few things will send readers to that BACK button like seeing a 2-year old event on your page.
  4. Add as many photos as it allows. First, include your headshot, but feel free to get creative with the others. Your photos should reflect your genre and personality. Are you a travel writer? Include photos of your destinations. Does your cat make frequent appearances in your work? Include Fluffy’s picture! Readers love getting to know you better.
  5. Be sure that all of your books are listed. Many readers visit Author Pages to find the writer’s other work.
  6. Customize your URL. Instead of an Amazon-issued URL like http://amazon.com/john-smith/e/F007KHIY6, you can have http://amazon.com/johnsmith. Definitely more attractive.
  7. Add the RSS feed to your blog and new posts will automatically show up on your page. This is another great way to offer your reader a deeper insight into who you are and create meaningful connections.
  8. Use the “Customer Reviews” tab to respond to reader reviews. Readers LOVE to receive a personal comment from an author. This type of one-on-one contact can quickly turn a passive reader into an adoring fan.

In her post, How to Optimize Your Amazon Author Central Page, tech expert Carla King sums it up this way:

Amazon loves to sell books and Author Central gives us the opportunity to make more money, which, of course, helps them make more money.  So take advantage of it. Make it a living page by keeping it current and embedding your RSS feeds so that it’s always fresh and new.  (And make sure you’re updating your blog!)  List your in-person and virtual events. List your custom URL on your website, business card, and your email signatures.  If you’re like most authors, you’ll sell more books via Amazon than any other retailer.  Optimize here, and boost that number even higher.

Perhaps you find this all a bit intimidating. We understand! That’s why at Certa Publishing we specialize in walking with our authors each step of the way. Need help setting up your Amazon Author Page? We’d love to be of service! Contact us today.

3 Easy Ways to Land Media Appearances

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You can author the most dynamic blog, produce highly-viewed YouTube videos and kill it on Facebook live, but nothing will give your book exposure like a TV or radio interview. And yet most authors are intimidated by media appearances. Perhaps you have assumed that these can only be obtained through expensive public relation firms or agents. We are here to dispel that myth and share with you three easy ways to land media appearances.

1. Be prepared to react to current events

TV and radio producers care about one thing: ratings. In order to keep up ratings, they need their shows to constantly remain relevant to current events.  When a major event occurs that relates to a theme in your book, be prepared to blast media producers. (For tips on contacting producers, head over here).

In his book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, Rob Eager recounts this example:

Actor Alec Baldwin caught the nation’s attention when the public got hold of an angry voice message he left for his daughter. Almost every news outlet and entertainment program covered the story. When this happened, one of my clients had just published a book called When Your Marriage Dies.  In her book, she had devoted an entire chapter to handling common problems that parents face with their children after going through a divorce. When my client heard the news about Baldwin, she quickly put together a press release and e-mailed it to several radio stations. Within four hours, she received a response  from the producer of a well-known radio program.

A great way to stay up to date on current events is to set up a Google alert. Input keywords that are relevant to your book and Google will alert you by email when these keywords are trending. You can choose to be alerted daily or less often.

2. Make the calendar work for you

In order to stay relevant, producers often plan their content around the calendar. For example, November and December shows will be full of guests discussing gift ideas, party planning and how to manage holiday stress. However, summer shows will be altogether different.

So, take out your calendar and go through the year in light of your book’s topics. Can you offer relevant topic for Mother’s Day? Easter? Back to school?

Rob Eager offers these lead times for the various media types:

  • Magazines – four to six months
  • TV and radio – 30 to 90 days
  • Newspapers and blogs – 7 to 30 days

3. Make the producer’s job easier

Imagine meeting with a baker about your wedding cake and yet he didn’t have an samples or photos to offer. Most of us would quickly move onto someone else and he would lose the sale.

The same is true for media interviews. The more “samples” of your work you can offer, the better. However, the producer isn’t interested in the content of your book. He or she is interested in the content of your interview. Will you be interesting? Relevant? Personable?

One creative way to showcase your interview content is to provide a sample, through one of these mediums:

  1. If you have done previous media interviews, send along the link to the video or audio.
  2. If not, create your own! Create a (high-quality) video or audio recording of yourself answering sample questions. It may feel silly, but it will be worth it!
  3. For a simpler approach, type up sample questions and answers for the producer, similar to what author Joel Friedlander did here.

Going the extra mile in this way will set you apart from your competition and likely garner you the media attention you’ve been looking for!

At Certa Publishing, we are experts in book marketing. Our authors have been featured in countless magazines, newspapers, radio and TV shows. Contact us today so we can put our experience to work for you!