Thursday, November 20, 2014

Can Facebook and Twitter Help Authors?

I've written at length about how Facebook and Twitter, and other social media can hurt your bottom line or create a challenge for an author to continue to have book sales.  I've also written about how they can lose you your hard earned money if things go wrong.

I've not dug deep into the idea of how these social media giants can help you.  I suspect it is because I am by nature a cynical person, or it is the fact what I have done in the past hasn't worked out as well as I wanted it to.  The question, isn't how things work, but how can it help an author build an audience?

Notice, I didn't ask how it can hep them sell a book.  I don't think social media is there to constantly promote a book of yours, but it's there to promote you as an author.  It's there to get people to come and read a blog post of yours and find some meaning to what you say.  It's sharing a bit of who you are to others who are interested in you- as an author.

Since I've been doing more author book signings, I've noticed on important fact about the power of helping authors and social media.  My Facebook page is growing, as is my Twitter following, but I try to keep it balanced, I don't promote my book beyond having a link pinned to the top of my Twitter tweets, and I try to comment to other authors I follow.  It doesn't seem to be a big thing, and I limit my social media efforts to about 20 minutes a day.

If I'm not putting as much effort into promoting my own book, why, you might wonder would I suggest these sites will help an author?

It's the fact they offer a large area for communication, and when I posted where I was going to do an author signing, it allowed more people to ask questions, and gave me a lot more confidence in knowing there would be a few people there who would be coming to buy a book or have a book signed by me.  This confidence, in turn, made me more open to saying "hello" to anyone who would pass by and nod in my direction.  I haven't given up on my dream to have a long lineup of people wanting my book signed in a huge bookstore, but that will happen in its own time.

It helped a lot with direct book sales in this method, as I often wouldn't know when to expect a person coming in for a signing, and I also wouldn't be able to recognize them on the spot if they weren't a person who would like or comment as much on either site.  In this case, I've heard from many of the people who work at these bookstores that I've done well in terms of selling my book when I am not a big name author.

It boils down to the fact I am simply telling people in my social network there is something happening.  I mention it, and then I go on to the next bit of news that comes across my feeds based on whom I follow.  I try to be a good citizen on Twitter and Facebook, and tell others of some pages or people they can follow if they are following me.  It's a bit of a service, but it works wonders for me, and it means a lot to the people who I mention.

It helps me long terms since more people find me, and also can be assured I am not going to bombard them with tweets and posts of "buy my book."  I'd love to have people buy and review my book, but that's not the point of social media, the point is being seen as a person and as an author, but not as a person who constantly plugs their book.  It's shouldn't matter where you publish, but how you present yourself. Having something to say is the most important thing.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Should You Self-Publish Your Book With CreateSpace?

CreateSpace is part of the ever growing Amazon umbrella of companies.  Unlike Xlibris or iUniverse or AuthorHouse, if you simply want to have your book self-published under the ISBN of CreateSpace, or simply don't care to use the services they offer, that is up to you.

There is a lot of opportunity left in the self-publishing world, but the time where there was a lot of growth- or competition has past.  Most self-published authors, myself included, have looked into many of the companies who are, or have been, a player to self-published authors.  After careful consideration, I self-published my paperback version with CreateSpace.

I also published my book on Kobo and on Kindle, and have seen repeatable sales for both.  I decided to price them both at 99 cents, and have been pleased with the book sales.  On the paperback front, my sales are strong provided I am doing author book signings, and spending time writing other books which will be self-published.  You can also self-publish with CreateSpace if you live outside of the United States- in countries such as the UK or the rest of Europe- and have it distributed by them through the various Amazon websites, a quick book to read is Self Publishing Success With Kindle & Createspace who deals with such issues.  I found this Kindle through the website, but the ideas remain the same.  I am working with a co-author on the next book, and feel confident in what I have learned.

For these books, I will be using CreateSpace again, because it is one I feel most comfortable with.  I don't advise people to use other companies such as Xlibris or iUniverse or AuthorHouse because I found their offers and choices of packages too expensive and restrictive.  Some authors find them to be useful and they like the experiences they had.  An author I spoke with, who had published using AuthorHouse found them professional, but she has a harder time selling her book at a price point that will make her a profit.  However, it is not the book creating her difficulties, she also admits she finds the writing more fun than the author book signings.  Without enthusiasm for a book, it is hard to sell anything to anyone.

Should you self-publish your book with CreateSpace?  Yes, based on my experience with my own book I recommend them if you are willing to pay for any extra pieces needed to publish a professional looking book another book published by CreateSpace is Transylvanian Superstitions.  You will also need to pay attention to your brand- you the author.  While I don't suggest you focus your money on how things look, I recommend working with someone who understands the need to make certain the interior is correct.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Where Is The Best Place to Promote Your Book?

Not Twitter.  Not Facebook.  Not on Google Plus.  Not with family or friends.  No, these aren't places you should promote your book on.  These are places, and people, you can have comments and chats with about you and your book, but they aren't the best place to promote your book.

If this is the case, and you self-publish a book, or have several books you've been writing/ self-published, it doesn't matter much if you can't sell them.  The logical answer would be to write some more and push your book through Facebook or Twitter.

The problem is most books have a "life."  Most books, with a bit of help can have long term sales, but you will have to continue writing others to get more life out of them.  My first book, In Search of The Lost Ones was published in 2011, and there are still sales, now more since I have monthly or bi-monthly book signings.  As for the e-book, it is respectable, but not anything of "wow" factor like sales.  It can be because a book, and an author can smile and talk to a reader and create a meaning for them to buy it.

Books signings are one of the best places to promote my book- in a book store with people passing by and me getting to know them as readers.  The reason why some books don't sell is because the authors are promoting them in the wrong places at the wrong time.  Some authors, are great on Twitter and I can imagine that Taylor Fulks who wrote My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal has a strong following, but she doesn't promote her book, rather she promotes other authors, who then "tweet" her book.  The problem most new authors don't see is she has been on Twitter since 2012, and has over 18,000 followers.

Most authors don't have that sort of following, but she has this draw, and allows people to find her book- but even then it's still not a "hot seller" it's typical of many books, it possibly gets a couple of book sales a week, the chances are fairly high she still has another few books she could write and publish.

The best place to promote you book beyond an author book signing?

Your own blog, and if you do this correctly, and don't overly promote, you can find more success.  This blog has been around for a while, and many people come to read a post, or ask for book reviews, and I try to accommodate them as well.  However, writing comes first in this blog, and book sales are a part of writing.  The more books sold, the more time I have to write.

Writing is a bit like dancing, you promote your book because you love your book.  The person who reads your book is your partner.  Together you have the chance to create something magical- but you have to work together, and you have to be real.

Being a person first, an author next, and a book promoter last will give people confidence in your work- those are the "dance" steps.  It's about networking and working on being mature, and professional in how you think about your book.  Most books won't make you millions, but with time and energy there will be success.

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