EBooks and Advertising

“Dogs Are People, Too”: What I Learned At Big Boulder 2016

This week I had the fantastic experience of attending the 2016 BigBoulder conference, thanks to the largesse of our partners over at GNIP. This was my first time attending the conference and the Big Boulder Initiative deserves a round of applause for the great job they did. Boulder’s best hotel, the St. Julien, was a gracious host, the food and drinks catered to a variety of tastes, the talks covered a wide range of pertinent issues in the social data world, and of course informing it all was the vibe of Boulder — even though I have lived here for twenty years, I still can’t get over how spectacular a venue it is. And if that wasn’t enough, the Dalai Llama was also staying at the St. Julien. Talk about a vibrational charge!

The BBI has already blogged about the talks in some detail so I won’t rehash a job well done; rather, I would like to share a list of thoughts, observations, and “things overheard” (without “last person” attribution). I have kept the list short, but truth be told, the conference generated a whole host of thoughts and ideas. So, without further ado: 

  • Dogs are people, too.
  • Brad (a real guy) does a better job than Radian Six at measuring sentiment. No one should tell Salesforce that.
  • A lot of folks are watching Mr. Robot. Is life imitating art?
  • If not art, then life often imitates (or is shaped by) Twitter — at least during political crises.
  • Pictures can tell a story — if we can see them.
  • Empathy — in design and presentation— will be a key element.
  • There are multiple truths.
  • We have miles to go before we sleep.
  • Bots are the future. But they still need Brad.
  • Algorithms are biased.
  • Now what?

Here are a couple of suggestions for the BBI for next year (assuming unlimited time and budget):

  1. It would be great to have a meeting planner capability where attendees are able to schedule meetings with other attendees prior to the conference. That may have been available and I was not aware of it.
  2. How about some workshops for brainstorming specific problems?
  3. What about a start-up competition? Start-ups would get ten minutes on the stage to make their presentation. Attendees could vote on the winner.

Look forward to seeing you all at Big Boulder 2017!

— Mark Schroeder

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Writers & The Zero Moment Of Truth

 

In our last post we discussed the importance of Micro Moments for writers. Micro moments present opportunities for writers to build their communities and/or market their books, assuming the timing is right. Micro moments comprise the first step in what we are calling the Audience Location Journey.

Here’s an example: assume that you have written a phenomenal work about a woman who is stranded on a distant planet without food or water. She will need to use all the ingenuity she possesses to survive until her crew can make it back to rescue her. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Your book could be the kissing cousin of the best-selling The Martian. And that’s not a bad thing, for if you can identify positive tweets and posts about The Martian, and connect with the authors of those sentiments, you may also find your own audience. Marketing experts call this an “affinity audience.”

Let’s further assume that your affinity audience has finished The Martian and is looking for a similar book to read. They are full of “intent to buy” but aren’t sure which book they will be buying. So they whip out the phone, pad, or computer and start researching. Google calls this The Zero Moment of Truth, which is “the precise moment when they [your potential readers] have a need, intent or question they want answered online.” This is the second step of the Audience Location Journey.

And journey it is, for in this phase your potential reader moves back and forth between devices (phone to computer and back again) and channels (Twitter, Facebook, et. al), checking prices, reviews, and in the case of books, asking for recommendations or simply taking a look, for example, at friends’ Bookshelves on GoodReads.

The marketing task, then, is this: to “shape” your potential reader’s journey — and anticipate the questions s/he might ask along the way.

This requires that you understand your reader’s intent. Indeed, one of the truisms of marketing today is that intent and immediacy of messaging are more important, as Lisa Gevelber of Google notes, than “reach and frequency.”

Zero_IMG_02_

So, where should you start? We suggest you first answer a number of questions, such as:

* What questions will the user want answered? And what are the answers?

* What kind of cover images or art will hook the user?

* What blurb works best to compel the reader to continue reading?

* Which books are similar to your book?

Keep in mind that your marketing efforts at this stage are not so much about “your” work but rather about addressing what your potential reader wants — what they feel comfortable with. To be sure, in the “morphology” of reader taste similarity takes pride of place. As a result, especially if you are a self-published author, you might want to engage in a species of resemblance marketing.

Another way of looking at this is that the answer to every potential reader question is this: “It’s like the book you just read (but with a slight twist).”

Let’s make this more concrete. Take a look at the following three book covers.

Notice the family resemblances? Now is not the time and place to talk in depth about our desire, or lack thereof, for originality in what we read (and see). Notwithstanding, it is important to take into account the degree to which the publishing industry shapes your readers’ tastes. Tim Parks in a recent NYRB article describes the situation as thus:

The difficulties of the writer who is not yet well established have been compounded in recent years by the decision on the part of most large publishers to allow their sales staff a say in which novels get published and which don’t. At a recent conference in Oxford–entitled Literary Activism–editor Philip Langeskov described how on hearing his pitch of a new novel, sales teams would invariably ask, “But what other book is it like?” Only when a novel could be presented as having a reassuring resemblance to something already commercially successful was it likely to overcome the sales staff veto. 

In closing, we should point out that your “public face” (cover art, web site, etc.) needs to be professional and enticing — in short, it needs to pass the “gut test.” If it does pass that test, and many don’t, then you have a chance to further influence the reader’s Zero Moment of Truth. In our next post, we will discuss the different ways you can do that.

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Pinterest for Authors

Every morning I spend a few hours collecting content to share on the Find My Audience social media platforms. I look for trends in the publishing industry and I pay special attention to the articles that describe how things are changing for writers (and readers, for that matter).

The publishing industry is always evolving and it adapts with the times—and fast! That said, in today’s age an author’s success is dependent on his or her ability to hit a moving target. Authors are left wondering, “What can I do to keep up?”

One thing the experts do agree on is the need for authors to focus on building a strong social media presence—right now. The social web is where things are happening for authors these days; and it makes sense, considering that’s where their readers spend their time.

One of the best social media platforms for reaching readers and sharing content on the web is Pinterest. You can use it as a tool to introduce yourself, engage with your audience, and drive traffic to your various websites.

What is Pinterest?
Jon Reed describes Pinterest as “a virtual corkboard – a place to pin your interests. You create and arrange boards on specific topics and pin images and other media such as video to them.” In essence, Pinterest is a referral engine that is filled with customer insight intelligence. Seth Fiegerman adds to the conversation in his article explaining why, “Pinterest Drives More Traffic to Publishers Than Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit Combined.” He says that, “When it comes to referral traffic from social networks, there’s Facebook and Pinterest—and then there’s everyone else.” Instead of having to ask people what they like, they tell you by pinning it.

Why is Pinterest a useful tool for authors?
It gives you the opportunity to share your content and your books with your current audience, as well as many potential prospects. As long as you have a visual representation of the work you have done – book covers, book trailers, illustrations from your novel, fan art, or even a headshot – you can pin links to your work, driving traffic to your website(s). Because referral marketing is so powerful in the publishing industry, it’s no wonder why successful authors are starting to use Pinterest. It screams book marketing!

Authors who are on Pinterest already?
Take a look at some of these Young Adults authors who already have accounts on Pinterest:

Lisa Shafer (Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire): http://pinterest.com/lisawriting/
Laura Thomas (Tears To Dancing)http://pinterest.com/lauracthomas/
Todd R. Tystad (Blue Hill): http://pinterest.com/toddrtystad
Sara Zarr (Story of a Girl, How to Save a Life, etc.): http://pinterest.com/sarazarr
Amie Kaufman (Wrecked): http://pinterest.com/amiekaufman
Lynne Kelly (Chained): http://pinterest.com/lynnekellyh
Caitlin Kittredge (The Iron Codex series, etc): http://pinterest.com/caitkitt/

So how do you get started?

  • Sign up. You have the option to log in using your email, Facebook or Twitter account. I recommend connecting with one of your existing social media accounts because it will be significantly easier for you to find your friends, family members, and favorite public figures or blogs to follow.
  • Create your profile. You get to choose a username for your account. Keep it consistent with your other social media usernames. That’ll make it easier for your fans and potential followers to find you.
  • Check your settings. Turn your email notifications on. You want to know who is pinning what, and overtime you’ll start to understand the “why” behind their behavior. Having access to the “whom”, “what”, and “why” is important.

How do you pin?

  • Install the Pin It Button. With the Pin It button on your browser, you can easily pin any of the content you have on your page.
  • Add a Pin. When you are browsing the web and you want to add a pin, you can click the Pin It button on your bookmark bar or on the website you are pinning from. Then, Pinterest will give you the option to select which board you’d like to pin it to.
  • Create a New Board. Everything you pin is added to a board you have created. You can do so by clicking the “Add +” button in the upper right-hand corner of your main Pinterest page. Select the option to Create a Board. You can name your boards anything you’d like–but try to be specific, so that when potential users search for pins or boards similar to your board, it will show up in their search results.
  • Repin from Your Feed. You are able to see what your followers are pinning as well. In order to repin their post, all you have to do is run your mouse over the pin and select the “Pin It” button. It’ll direct you to the board you’d like to pin it to.
  • Like and Comment. Engage with your Pinterest community! Like pins; comment on pins; get to know your followers and let them get to know you.

Sources used for the above information:

–Alexa Davis

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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Getting The Most Out Of Google+

Since its beginning, Google+ has been a phenomenal writing community and resource. As a writer, you can find plenty of support, information, and feedback from people every step of the way throughout your writing process. Plus, there is an underutilized promotional tip that can bring attention to your book events. Some of the tips listed below will help you make the most out of your Google+ experience.

To forewarn those of you who aren’t familiar with Google+, this post is designed for those who have some experience with the social media site, but feel as if you just don’t “get it” or you haven’t unlocked all of its features yet. So, let’s get started!

1) Don’t forget to follow and engage.

 google_one

Much like Twitter, it’s easier than you might think to find other writers on Google+. Simply search for terms such such as “writing,” “writer,” or “author” and you will uncover a slew of fellow writers and authors on the social network.

Circling people is meaningless, though, if you don’t spend a little time engaging with their content by sharing, “plusing,” or commenting. With Google+, comments and interaction are much more meaningful than on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, where it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

2) Utilize Communities

 google_two

The communities feature of Google+ is a wonderful resource for writers. Communities such as Blogger Coffee Shop and Speculative Fiction Writers allow one to ask questions about the writing process and gain support. I have also seen people ask questions about self-publishing, book covers, and everything else in between. Google+ Communities are the new hub of writing communities. You can find any group of writers you need for your niche.

3) Create events for book promotional dates, tours, etc.

google_three 

I utilized events recently when I launched a Twitter Party event for an author with a new book coming out. It was the first time I had used this feature, and I was nervous about sending this event request to so many people I followed. The results? All positive. I received a lot of supportive remarks and a lot of people RSVP’d.

If you haven’t used this feature before, I highly recommend it. It is very useful for book launch events or tours. Use it wisely, though, as it gets sent out to everyone you’ve selected to send it out to (I sent it to over 5,000 people I followed) and you don’t want to be flagged as nuisance. So, make sure you are sending this to other writers and bookworms who will appreciate this event.

4) Create smaller circles of more engaged people to be able to send out niche specific posts.

google_four 

One of the beneficial, but more “housework-related” features of Google+ is the ability to create smaller circles of people with whom you share your posts. I’ve clumped people into one or two categories of “following” or “writing” people. However, if you have a variety of people you share content with, some posts may cater to a specific crowd. With Google+, it’s very easy to build a circle of people who only receive certain kinds of posts.

5) Complete your profile and be active.

One deterrent to circling someone back is an incomplete profile. If someone doesn’t have a photo and they have shared nothing about themselves and have never shared anything on Google+, more than likely I will not follow them back.

Make an effort to have a photo of yourself on your profile and share a little bit about yourself. Better yet, make sure in your tag line you describe yourself as a writer. Many people search for people to follow based on various search terms that interest them, so if you want to gain the attention of other writers on Google+, use words like author or writer in your profile.

6) Don’t be overwhelmed by number of followers.

Last, but not least, what I’ve noticed about Google+ is just because you have a high number of people who have circled you back, doesn’t mean that you have a lot of engaged people reading your content. Indeed, if you have a core group of people who are engaged and share your content, then you are way ahead of the game. Don’t get bogged down by the goal of having more than 1,000 people who have circled you back. If you have 100 who have circled a comment, or given a plus one, or share your posts and interact with you, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

What I like best about Google+ is that it does engage writers. You can use more words in your posts and you can seek refuge in the community area to gain support. Whether you have just signed up or you have been with Google+ for a long period, it’s always possible to enhance your experience and make it the best social network you use. There’s a whole world of writers on GooglePlus. So don’t miss out.

About the Author
Nicole Pyles is a writer and blogger living in the Pacific Northwest. In her free time, she loves to read and write about things that go bump in the night. She enjoys helping authors unlock their potential with social media and recently started hosting Twitter parties for the book promotional service Pump Up Your Book. Read her blog at World of My Imagination and follow her on Twitter and, of course, GooglePlus.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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Twitter Tips & Tricks

“Are you on Twitter?” I ask my new client.

“Yeah…um, well…sort of. I mean, I’m on it but I don’t use it.”

“Why not?” I ask.

The answers writers give tend to follow the same pattern:

  • I don’t know what to say
  • I’m not funny enough
  • My life isn’t interesting enough
  • I’m not good at social media
  • Who wants to read my tweets anyway?

But not one of these statements matters when it comes to building an awesome author presence on Twitter.

The key to becoming a Twitter Rockstar is that it’s not about you being impressive.

It’s about you finding your people.

But how do you put yourself out there and find your people?

One of the biggest misconceptions new users bring to Twitter is that they should be concerned with building what we call “clout.” Sure, Stephen King has over 600k followers and is only following 21 people. But you don’t have to be Stephen King to rock the Twittersphere.

You can be yourself and still build your audience. You can be 100% authentic and still promote your book and grow your writing career. Instead of focusing on pushing your advertising, your focus should be on pulling in a grassroots network of writer friends who want to support your work.

Twitter Tip #1

Check the Follower Lists of Popular Organizations in the Writing World.

Writer’s Digest, Artists and Writers, and AWP all have a mass following on Twitter. Look at who is following them and then follow the novelists, poets, freelance writers, editors, agents, and publishers who catch your eye.

Follow those Followers who share your vibe.

Zoom in on the details. If you’re a horror author, look at the Follower list of the Horror Writers Association. If you write contemporary romance, check out Chick Lit Central. Follow the people you have something in common with, and if they don’t follow you back it’s no big deal. The people you are meant to connect with will.

Twitter Tip #2 

Be Supportive and Share the Content of Others.

When you find someone on Twitter who shares your vibe take it a few steps further. Look up their About page on their website, Like them on Facebook, and subscribe to get their posts if they have a blog. Then, tweet their stuff.

Twitter is about connection.

Once you build those relationships it becomes a two-way street. The people who appreciate your help with their writing dreams will cheer you on as you pursue yours. You will build a virtual community that is compatible with you, your message, and your mission. And when you put your own content out there, members of this community will share it with their audiences.

Twitter Tip #3

Harness the Power of the List

If Twitter is like a party with millions of people in attendance, the Lists you create are rooms within the party. As you stumble across people who always tweet good stuff, or who you want to get to know better, you can add them all to one room.

Your lists should include people and organizations who only share interesting and useful tweets.

When you’re crunched for time check one of your Lists and retweet the good stuff. It only takes five minutes when you have a great List going and you’re not under so much pressure to come up with witty, insightful tweets of your own. Plus, you can actually keep up with what’s going on with a select circle of your Twitter friends instead of becoming overwhelmed by the main stream.

Twitter Tip #4

Talk to Strangers and Tell Them You Love What They’re Doing

Once you start following a lot of different writing people, you will stumble across a few who have fantastic projects going on. If you find a new indie author who’s just come out with a book that looks intriguing, tell them so. If you discover a cool writing contest devoted to charity, tell them to keep up the good work.

Be open and generous with your most positive presence and others will respond in kind.

And sometimes, they won’t. That’s okay too. Remember, your Twitter strategy is to pull in the really incredible people and the most compatible organizations. The ones who fail to connect were never going to be a good match for you anyway.

It’s just like making friends in the real world. You don’t need every single person in the virtual universe to support you as a writer, only the few who really matter.

About The Writer
Lauren Sapala is a writer and a writing coach and a social media expert. If you’re interested in improving your writing, and building your confidence as a writer, she can help you. Email her at writecitysf@gmail.com and talk to her about your writing.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook for Writers

If you’re a writer who wants to build a thriving fan base around your latest book, facebook  is still one of the best places on the web to do so.

Your facebook presence could catapult you to the next stage in your career, opening up hundreds of shiny new opportunities for you and your book…but you have to do it right.

Here are a few do’s and don’t’s that will help you make it happen.

DON’T: BE LAZY
There’s worse no faux pas than writers who join facebook groups to try to sell their fiction books to other writers. It’s like real estate agents trying to sell houses to other real estate agents, or car salesmen trying to sell to other car salesmen.

Yes, writers are also people who read from time to time, but they don’t join groups called “New Top Authors” to look at what YOU wrote.

DO: KNOW WHERE YOUR READERS ARE
Join groups where you’ll find people who love the genre you write in. Find people who will look to their facebook groups when they want to buy new books. Create posts that will be relevant to them, and will get your name remembered.

Don’t sell to them, befriend them – so that when that day comes, they’ll look to you.

DON’T: ACT CREEPY, DESPERATE OR PUSHY
People typically don’t log on to facebook with the intention to buy books. They log in to be entertained, to discover fun and interesting things, and to stay up to date with the things they care about. Your job is to integrate yourself seamlessly into their objectives, not rush in and ruin their downtime with rude interruptions and unwanted marketing.

You want attentive, interested people who are dying to hear about your new work, right?

Well, your typical facebook users won’t be in that mindset until you give them a reason to be. Interest is something you have to cultivate, not force.

Find your perfect space (a facebook page or group) to draw people into your world. Think  about what it will take for people to know, like and trust you.

DO: BE FRIENDLY & USEFUL
Engage with people through groups and other relevant pages. Ask your friends for introductions, like people’s stuff, and build relationships.

No one will feel threatened or offended if you’re adding value as opposed to self-promoting. Any self-promotion can come later, because once earned, you’ll be offered opportunities to do so with open arms.

We all know how we’re good at helping people, deep down. We know what people would appreciate from us most. A great sense of humour, for example – a caring ear, or fantastic advice. Even if it’s something you feel you could charge for – ESPECIALLY if it’s something you feel you could charge for – it is essential that you share it.

Sometimes your generosity will pay off right away, and sometimes not, but it’s the only way your marketing ever will.

About The Author
Stephanie Lennox is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, holistic writing coach and wellness advocate. She’s also the founder of “The Authorship Program®” – a book, blog and online course that helps writers write successful books and lead successful lives through spirituality and personal development. For free tips on feeling well and writing well, you can visit her at www.theauthorshipprogram.com.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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Think You Don’t Need a Writing Coach? Think Again.

Writers are idea people. Big picture people. We are the visionaries who weave dozens of diverse colorful threads of narrative together to create one unified story. Writing is the thing we feel born to do and the thing no one could ever take away from us. It is our true purpose in life, whether it brings us euphoria or pain. Because we push on with it no matter what, the actual writing is never the problem.

It’s all the stuff that comes along with it, that is.

And that’s where a writing coach comes in.

Every writer I work with struggles with the same issues. They have a brilliant idea but can’t seem to finish writing the book it inspired. Or they finish but then feel lost on how to handle the revisions. They want to grow their writing career but they could use help with social media and getting reviews. They feel overwhelmed in this brave new world of publishing where a writer’s name depends on forging a unique identity, and they have no idea how to go about doing just that.

A top-notch writing coach helps with all this and more by:

Working with Writers to Release Inner Blocks
Many creative people unknowingly hold themselves back and self-sabotage out of fear. By honing in on who you are and how you psychologically tick, we can start to dissolve layers of resistance and open up the mental space needed for a writer to do their best work.

Getting Writers on a Realistic Writing Schedule
We set appointments for writing time and hold writers accountable for showing up. By committing to a regular schedule of time slots and word counts, even the slowest writers will see the pages increase week by week.

Being the First and Best Reader for a Writer’s Work
A top-notch writing coach also boasts the skills of a professional-grade editor and unfailingly supportive beta reader. If you don’t know the difference between the two, this is yet another thing a great writing coach can teach you.

Navigating Writers into Community, Career, and Claiming the Writer Identity
Writing groups, writers’ conferences, writing blogs—trying to get a handle on which is for you is confusing and exhausting. Writing coaches help writers find alignment with other writers, as well as the writing community that is truly a perfect fit.

If you feel scared and unsure about your writing, we can help. If you want to take the first draft of your manuscript to the next level, we can help. If you want to become the writer you always dreamed you could be, we can help.

All you have to do is ask.

About The Author
Lauren Sapala is a fiction writer, writing coach, and blogger. She founded the Write City writing group in San Francisco, and its sister branch in Seattle. She coaches all levels of writers, helping them to discover their voices and realize their goals and dreams.  Lauren currently lives in San Francisco and is working on her fifth novel. She blogs regularly at www.laurensapala.com.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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Expression and Intention

 

Big Ben & Houses of Parliament, black and white photo

Years ago I read Jacques Barzun’s Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers. Barzun was one of those elegant and lofty minds of a certain generation; think Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson, Mary McCarthy, the Chicago School, and maybe a little later, M.H. Abrams, Northrup Frye. You know the type: fluent in a handful of languages, many of them no longer spoken (at least by the “man on the street”); played the piano beautifully; did a stint at Oxbridge; maybe served in WW II at Bletchley Park; took a post at one of the Ivies after the war. Always dressed professionally, maybe smoked a pipe, thought that teaching and mentoring the next generation was critically important (yes, it was a long time ago!).

Thus Barzun, who died two years ago at the age of 104 and who taught at Columbia University for over 50 years. A recent discussion by the Find My Audience team about the relationship between tweets and hashtags reminded me of one of Barzun’s memorable sentences, to wit:

The mind tends to run along the groove of one’s intention and overlook the actual expression.

Barzun’s sentence reminds us of the need to always have an editor at our side, but it also has application, if of a tenuous nature, to social discourse – and in particular to the relationship between what one says, for example, in a tweet and what one intends to say (or the audience the tweet is intended for), which is often signified by the use of a hashtag.

Now of course the hashtag has multiple purposes: it inserts one into an ongoing conversation; it serves as a bit of intentional signposting for one’s tweet (“my tweet is relevant to people speaking about X”); it can even signal the start of a new conversation.

But what is actually said in a Tweet and the hashtag used in a tweet are not the same thing. The hashtag indicates, I believe, a higher-order, even meta-intention; indeed, the expression may not have anything to do, at least on the surface, with the hashtag used.

For example, take the following tweet:

Just had a great meal at The Kitchen in #Boulder. #organics #kimkardashian

The Kitchen is a well-known “farm-to-table” restaurant in Boulder, so #Boulder and #organics make sense as hashtags, but how did #kimkardashian get in there? Did I see her while eating? Do I want her to see my tweet so she will eat at The Kitchen? Am I using that hashtag to amplify my reach? It’s hard to know.

This is one of the issues we are wrangling with at Find My Audience. Do we pay more attention to the actual expression, to the hashtag(s) used, or both? What is the most important element to focus on as we try to “find your audience.” We are experimenting with different approaches. In the next few weeks we will unveil what we have discovered. Drop me an email at mark@findmyaudience.com if you would like a sneak preview.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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Writers And Self-Marketing

paul_2Literary Promotion Has A Long History!

One of the things we’ve been looking at here at Find My Audience is the evolution of literary promotion: how writers “traditionally” get the word out about their work, how that process is changing, and how writers can best adapt. I put the word “traditional” in quotes since there is really no set of canonical best practices that have held over the last few decades (let alone centuries) for a writer to connect with their audience.

But there have always been ways to get the word out, many of them inventive and outrageous (and hardly in keeping with the image of the writer as a housebound field mouse). Almost three years ago, the journalist and writer Tony Perrottet published a great piece in the N.Y. Times on “How Writers Build the Brand”. He put the modern writer’s need for proactive online self-promotion in the context of great literary marketing campaigns throughout history.

paul_1George Simenon Would Do Sit-ups For A Sale!

It’s quite a tale! In the short article, he traces literary self-promotion back to 440 B.C. when Herodotus stood up in the Temple of Zeus during the Olympic Games to plug his Histories; through Walt Whitman, who “notoriously wrote his own anonymous reviews, which would not be out of place today on Amazon;” up to Simenon, Hemingway, and Nabokov.  It’s a great, often hilarious piece, and every working writer should read it. As Tony puts it, “It’s always comforting to be reminded that literary whoring — I mean, self-marketing — has been practiced by the greats.”

In the three years since that article, online outlets and social media have proliferated even more, creating new, highly specialized, channels for authors to engage with. But it is not always clear how best to do so. Writers sense that their ideal readers are out there, but they don’t want to hang themselves above the street in a glass cage (as Simenon did), go on a reality TV show, or subject themselves to breathless play-by-play. And they justifiably don’t want to spam people.

We believe the immediacy of communication through these channels, and their effectiveness when used wisely, will start to overcome the writer’s natural resistance to self-marketing. When messages are targeted to likely readers, an author can be more confident that they are speaking to someone who may have an interest. They will speak more authentically and with greater confidence, and in turn their work will have a better chance of getting a reading.

fma-audienceFind My Audience’s Audience Page

Writers have feelings, ideas, and stories to impart, and we intend for Find My Audience to help them reach those people who will hear them as signal, not noise…. and not as a brazen attention-grab. That may work for something with superficial or titillating effect (throw an ad up in front of as many people as possible and appeal to the lowest common denominator), but it won’t work for a written work, where ideas and expression have been honed to present the authors’ unique voice or message, and need engaged attention.

For many decades, large enterprises and brands have used sophisticated demographic and market analysis to “find their audience.” The connection between a reader and a book is very different from that between a “consumer” and a product. But it does not mean that writers can’t take advantage of tools that help them assess interest.

Are you a writer looking for your readership? What do you think?

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By |February 27th, 2014|EBooks and Advertising, The Writer's Dashboard|0 Comments

New Grub Street: Writers And Advertising

A couple of months ago I told a Venture Capitalist that I was thinking of starting a company that focused on providing marketing and advertising services to writers, particularly self-published writers. I had only just started to create my own “marketing platform” (and still have a long way to go) for my own book, but I had noticed that, especially on Twitter, there was a lot of “echo chamber” noise, as N.V. Binder has called it. Now writers are, of course, readers, so they are a good audience to market to, but I’m sure we will all agree that we writers are still very much in the beginning stage of learning how to market our books–to the right (buying) audience, that is.

It struck me that one could, potentially, build a tool that crawled the social web to find one’s unique audience, and having found them, engage in conversations with them, follow them, friend them, and advertise to them. A Writer’s Dashboard, if you will. Something Bloombergian.

After my soft pitch to the Venture Capitalist, she looked at me like I was from Mars, and replied, “Why, Mark, don’t you know that writers don’t have any money?” I felt like launching into an explanation of how the new revolution in self-publishing would change all that, would place the responsibility and financial burdens of marketing back on the writers themselves, that most self-published writers have “day” jobs, that the image of the penniless writer is a Romantic legacy, and so on, but I’ve always found it best not to try to persuade someone that one’s vision is the correct one. In any case, most writers know that we are a hard-working group, toiling away during the day to make ends meet, and spending late nights and weekends pursuing our dreams. Not for us the Nietzsche observation: I went in search of man, but only found the ape of his ideals.

But still, I’ve been around long enough to know that intuition is best corroborated by hard data, so I decided to “crowd verify” some of my initial assumptions. I’m pretty confident one can build a social media analytics tool for writers. What I have been less confident about is the most appropriate business model for a company that built just such a tool. While “most” writers are not scribbling away in dingy garrets, money is still an issue for all of us, and I want to develop something that creates real value for writers at an affordable price. Identifying “where” to advertise and then providing a cost-effective platform to do so is one of two business-model options I have envisioned.

My first step in testing the assumption that the advertising model would work was to poll some writers on what they would spend to advertise their books, assuming they had “located” the right audience. 111 writers responded. Here is the question I asked and the responses.

How much would you spend to advertise your book to a targeted audience?

$0-$250  42.34%  (47 votes)

$250-500  18.02%  (20 votes)

$500-$1,000  12.61%  (14 votes)

$1,000+  12.61%  (14 votes)

Nothing  14.41%  (16 votes)

Total Votes: 111

85% (95 of the 111) of the poll responders indicated that they would advertise to a targeted audience. Average spend is hard to measure, but it is probably in the $300 range. Almost 13% indicated that they would spend more than a $1,000. Of course more responses might skew the results in a different direction, and I make no claim for reliability or validity of the poll results, but I will note that the responders were geographically dispersed and were practicing in different genres (YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Erotica, etc.).

I think that most writers, myself included, are hampered by the notion that if our work is “good,” then someone will read it. But that is not necessarily the case on the web. Indeed, I would make the claim that there is only a tenuous connection between quality of content and views. A perusal of the most popular You Tube videos provides one convincing data point for this perspective.

Rather, we need to adjust to the rules of the web, and think about the most cost-effective strategies that will place our work before a possible buyer. Quality of our work only becomes an issue once someone buys and actually reads our work. At that point, they either become a negative or positive referral, as the greatest source of reading suggestions comes from friends, family, and co-workers. If the work is good, then the advertising should pay off in spades.

At first blush, it looks like there is a compelling economic case for going forward. In my next post, I will upload some screen shots of what I am talking about when I refer to something Bloombergian. In the meantime, I would welcome your comments! Thanks.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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By |January 1st, 2012|EBooks and Advertising|16 Comments