5 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Published My First Book

5 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Published My First Book

We all make mistakes with our published books, right? And we learn from them – well most of the time.

Joel Friedlander of TheBookDesigner.com frequently tells me that when he talks to new authors about what they should do once they publish a book, he usually tells them something to the effect of, “You should have prepared for your first book two years ago.”

Ouch. But he’s right, of course.

When I published my first book in 2013, I’d had a website and two blogs for two years. And I’d been using social media for two years. Sounds good, right?

Not exactly.

5 Things I Completely Blew When I Published My First Book

While it appears that I prepared for my launch, like many authors I was focused on writing my book. Here’s a summary of five things I did wrong.

  1. The domain for my website was ACT Communications. Not a very enticing business name for writers, now was it?
  2. Although I’d been blogging for two years, one blog was for businesses. The second blog started out as a blog catering to nonprofits. I didn’t switch the theme of the second blog to writers until I published my book. So again, I wasn’t doing much to build my platform or prepare my audience, authors.
  3. The username on my Twitter account was ACT Communications. Worse, I was tweeting about social media for nonprofits and small businesses, and I wasn’t following many people, so my account was stagnant. My story gets worse. I was using a verification app that required anyone who followed me to use and be verified by the app, TrueTwit.com. If you’re using this type  app, your Twitter account is basically frozen and will never grow. Therefore, your platform will stagnate.
  4. I followed the advice of a search engine expert and created a Facebook page for my book instead of an author page. His theory was that writers should have a Facebook page for each book they write. Now I know better. If I’d created a new Facebook page for every book I’ve written my audience would be divided, and I doubt that someone who liked my first Facebook page would like subsequent pages. Why would they? Several years ago, when Facebook first allowed pages to change their names, I switched my Facebook page to an author page, and I’m much happier. Now people can find my page by searching for my name instead of the title of my book.
  5. I signed up for the Kindle Select Program on Amazon and made my book available for free several days. But guess what? I failed to add my free book to a myriad of lists that exist to publicize free books. Relying only on my social media, I had 800 downloads but think of the thousands of downloads I could have had if I’d signed up for a variety of services that publicize free books.

What I Do Differently Now

In my case, I did learn from my mistakes. Here are five things I do differently.

  1. I ditched the website ACT Communications and started SocialMediaJustforWriters.com.
  2. I focused my efforts on writers, especially indie authors.
  3. I sought speaking gigs, teaching social media to authors. So far I’ve taught through Stanford’s and UC Berkeley’s Extended Education program, I led a workshop at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference and the Redwood Writers Conference (twice), and I’m a regular presenter at the San Francisco Writers Conference. I’ve also spoken to a variety of other author organizations and at bookstores.
  4. I seek guest blogging opportunities. I’m a contributing writer for TheBookDesigner.com, was until recently a blogger and the social media expert at BookWorks, and I’ve written for a variety of other blogs, including Joanna Penn’s, Jane Friedman’s, Nina Amir’s, and Susanne Lakin’s.
  5. I expanded my brand on social media. I switched my username on Twitter from ACT Communications to Frances Caballo. Plus, I got rid of the TrueTwit application and started following 100 people a day. As I mentioned earlier, I corrected my error on my Facebook page. On LinkedIn, I always mention my newest books in my headline now, and I’ve expanded my brand further by joining Goodreads, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. (Note: I don’t recommend that all authors use this many social media networks.)

8 Book Marketing Steps Worth Repeating

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Indie Author Weekly Update – January 12, 2018

Indie Author Weekly Update

This week’s Indie Author Update focuses primarily on book marketing. Be sure to read the posts by Dave Chesson on Kindle keywords and Joel Friedlander’s take on the release of Fire and Fury.

5 Reasons Goodreads is a Book Marketing Staple by Penny Sansevieri: “Goodreads has mixed reviews at best when I chat book marketing strategies with authors at conferences, but I really want 2018 to be about maximizing on YOU, on using what makes you unique to sell more books, and Goodreads is a great platform for achieving that goal.”

Trapped in the Fire and Fury of the World’s Greatest Book Launch by Joel Friedlander: “Like you, I’ve been trapped in what seems like a book marketing fantasy gone mad. Look, I’ve been publishing and marketing books for a long time, and enjoy watching the really big book launches that still dot the cultural calendar. Politicians launching much-awaited books like Bill Clinton’s 1000 +page My Life was a pretty big deal. Every book launch by Tim Ferris uses tactics no one else has seen. Guy Kawasaki has conducted numerous launches for his best selling books.”

How To Choose the Right Kindle Keywords by Dave Chesson: “Whether you’re a famous author or this is your first book, Kindle Keywords are an important part of any book marketing strategy. Kindle keywords allow your book to be discovered by hungry shoppers on the world’s largest book market, Amazon, even while you sleep. They help make it so that you get sales and get discovered without having to do major marketing. Plain and simple, they are important.”

Authors’ New Year’s Resolutions for Marketing Their Books from BookBub: “It’s a brand new year, which is a great time to get a fresh start on goals. You may already have personal New Year’s resolutions (exercise more, write more, etc.), but you might want to consider setting specific book sales and marketing goals.”

Six Social Media Marketing Tips For First-Time Authors from BookBaby: “If you’re looking for readership and engagement, finishing your book is the first step. These social media marketing tips can help you frame your approach to the process of promoting yourself and your work online.”

Bring Social Media to Your Blog with Embedded Posts  from TheBookDesigner.com by Frances Caballo: “Embedding your social media posts on your blog or elsewhere on your website can benefit your website in several ways. First, you can demonstrate your social proof to your blog visitors. In other words, they can see your number of shares, retweets, and Likes you’ve accumulated.”

Quote of the Week

Ernest Hemingway quote

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

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How to Sell a Truckload of Books with Penny Sansevieri


I recently invited Penny Sansevieri to my Conversations with Frances webinar series. Below you’ll find a condensed summary of some of our conversation. Be sure to watch the video to glean all of Penny’s great suggestions.

  • Book selling strategies vary depending on the genre and title. But what we know is 95% of books are sold by word of mouth. So look at getting reviews. The No. 1 thing she recommends is building your list of super fans or a street team.
  • 99% of authors don’t market their books. A good measure of authors believe in the field of dreams theory … that because they wrote a book, readers will come.
  • Authors need to turn to their super fan base to get them to review books. You don’t need a huge list as long as your readers are fanatical about your writing.
  • One way to build a fan base is to include a letter in the back of the book and ask readers to contact you. The next step is to add them to your email list and start communicating with you. Then start asking them questions, such as what they want to see in your book or let them help you to select a book cover. They in turn get exclusive deals. For example, give them a free book two weeks before a book goes off presale or a tote.
  • According to the book The Curve, you need 1,000 super fans to get on the New York Times bestseller list.
  • Nowadays, it’s easier to connect with readers due to social media, email, and video.
  • Book launches are very important but the most successful books are those that are promoted over the long term.
  • Pre-orders are fun but once the pre-order is over sales can drop and that can in turn will hurt sales.
  • She loves to re-launch books. Sometimes you can split up books and create a series. Consider refreshing a cover. Update the content.
  • Book series are doing better than movie series.
  • Christmas novellas are popular.
  • Always pitch bloggers for reviews. Reviews continue to help your amazon visibility. Amazon is just a search engine and it responds to the same cues as Google does. Continually reach out to readers, ask readers for reviews, and do speaking engagements. Give out character trading cards.
  • How should authors use social media to promote their books? There’s a lot of noise out there that’s not productive. You need to remember that it’s about conversations. Also, it’s not about being everywhere but being where it counts. Cut out the useless noise and get rid of the social media sites that are doing anything for you. In some cases a video connection can be great.
  • Start to research similar authors in your genre. You want to find what social media sites they are on, where they’re getting the most momentum, and invest your time there.
  • Be sure to talk to your readers on social media.

The Next Webinar is January 11th!

Sharon HamiltonSharon Hamilton started writing several years ago on a rainy day. It’s wasn’t long before she was publishing, writing more books, blogging, and achieving success as an indie author. We’ll follow the trajectory of her career and the factors that contributed to her success in this webinar. Join us on January 11 at 11 am PST / 2 pm EST.

 

 

 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

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Indie Author Weekly Update October 6, 2017

Indie Author Weekly Update

This week’s Indie Author Update contains every topic from Pinterest hashtags to selling books when you don’t have an audience. How? Keep reading to find out!

Go Local: Marketing Books to Targeted Communities by Jane Friedman: “When I hear professional publicists and PR people offer advice to authors, one theme that comes up again and again is: start where you are. Use the power of your community—and the people you know—to gain momentum.”

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How to Sell More Books with Less Social Media with Chris Syme


Last week, Chris Syme of CKSyme Media Group was my guest on Conversations with Frances. The hour-long webinar was wide-ranging but mostly focused on Chris’s belief that social media needn’t be time consuming as long as you have goal-focused strategies.

Here are a few notes from the webinar. Be sure to watch the video to hear all of Chris’s advice and suggestions.


The best ways to use social media to sell books: Use social media wisely. Social media is just another tool; a community-based tool that has revolutionized everything. It is a powerful tool for both sales and engagement. It’s the only tool that does that.

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Books Lingering on Bookshelves? Try These 18 Book Marketing Tips

10-3-16-18-book-marketing-tipsDo you want to sell more books? Every author does. I know that I do.

The truth is, we can never sell enough books, right? It would always be great to be able to sell another 1,000 books, or 100,000 more, or maybe even 250,000 more. Or even 100 more.

Indie writers regularly contact me wanting to know how they can maximize sales of their books. Some of them dream of the day when their writing can support them – a lofty goal.

If you look at the great success stories of today’s indie authors, they support their careers with writing nonfiction or teaching courses. Look at thriller author Joanna Penn as an example. She has sold almost 500,000 books around the world and in five different languages.

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Book Marketing Tips from Industry Experts

Book Marketing TipsWhat book marketing tips do you follow religiously? Are you having success?

If you struggle with book marketing, don’t feel alone in your struggle. A lot of authors wish they could be selling more books.

If you have a beautiful author website, you regularly update your blog, and you’re fairly active on social media, you’re probably wondering: What gives?

I decided to contact some expert book marketers to glean their advice and this is what you’ll read below is their best advice.

Book Marketing Tips from Industry Experts

Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn was the first to reply when I asked her for her thoughts and this is what she said. Note: She was in a hurry and only had time for this succinct pearl of wisdom.

Book marketing tip from Joanna Penn

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Book Marketing Weekly Roundup

Book Marketing Weekly Roundup by Frances CaballoIt was such a wonderful week on the web for book marketing advice for authors. I selected a whopping five posts to share today because of the cornucopia of great content for authors. The big news of the week? Goodreads is testing the inclusion of Kindle ebooks in its giveaway program. This will be huge for indie authors. Plus, I loved being interviewed by Lorna Faith. So check out the show notes, podcast, or video.


Book Marketing Advice for Indie Authors

10 (Practically) Cringe-less Self-Promotion Ideas for Authors from Publishers Weekly and by Kimberly Dana: “Self-promotion is fraught with the cringiest of awkward moments, but my more experienced comrade was right. Combing the social media circuit in search of friends, followers, and readers isn’t just necessary; it’s an integral part of the average author’s day. I consoled myself with one small, comforting thought: I can at least be smart about it.” Note: Kimberly Dana offers some tangible steps for indie authors to follow.

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Authors: Just Be Where Your Readers Are

I just did it again. I added even more pages to Twitter Just for Writers, bringing it to 52 pages. And it’s Free for you.

Twitter Just for WritersGrab a copy of your 52-page eBook on Twitter today. In Twitter Just for Writers you’ll find:

  • Easy to follow instructions on how you can get started.
  • Instructions on how to devise a password that will never be hacked.
  • Terms and special hashtags just for authors like you.
  • A list of applications to use with Twitter.
  • Advice on how to select your username and write your bio. (So many authors get this wrong.)
  • Plus guidelines for advanced users!

Download your FREE copy now. (Why wait?)


Find Your Readers by Frances Caballo

 

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

― Michael Altshuler

The new marketing dictum for selling your books or anything else is this: You don’t need to be everywhere; you need to be where your readers are.

Remember that. Otherwise, you’ll waste time. Focusing your energy and time on the social media websites where your readers network is your first rule.

There are plenty of experts who disagree with this theory. But think about it. No one has the time to be everywhere. Let me qualify that. If you have a virtual assistant, housekeeper, personal chef, and driver, you have the time to be everywhere online.

But Indie authors like you do everything themselves. To be economical, many writers create their book covers. Every author, once a book is published, then handles the marketing and publicity.

Don't be everywhere; be where your readers are @CaballoFrancesClick To Tweet

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