5 Tools Every Indie Author Should Use

5 Tools Indie Authors Should UseWhen I first started using social media, confusion quickly set it.

I read a lot of blog posts and tried every application I learned about. I signed up for more than I needed and registered for apps before they were even available. Some that come to mind are Strawberry Jam and BrandBuilder and its precursor, none of which exist today. I tried out SocialBro, and it doesn’t exist today either.

In fact, sometimes I write about apps, and six months later, well, they’re kaput! It’s an embarrassing at times and can get frustrating.

There are some applications that I know aren’t going to abandon me, and so today I am taking the risk of suggesting that there are five tools that indie authors can’t be without.

Ready to see which ones they are?

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Blogging Got You Down? Follow These 6 Steps

Blogging Got You Down? Follow These 6 Steps by Frances CaballoI’ve heard so many questions about blogging that I decided to address them today. 


6 Steps to Better Blogging

Let’s raise the curtain on the issue of blogging, shall we?

You know you should write your blog posts weekly but for some reason you feel writing new posts can feel akin to writing essays about the importance flossing.

Am I right? Guess what? You’re not alone. Plenty of authors feel this way.

There are more of you than you might think. Sure, when you look at other author blogs you think to yourself, “Geez. Their blog is great. They  must love to write those posts.”

Here’s a little secret. There are a lot of you who detest it. I have a colleague, and she publishes her blog posts every Saturday. By Thursday, I hear her complain, “I have to go home and try to figure out what to blog about next. Sheesh!”

See? You’re not the only one.

Learn how to refreshen older content for today's readersClick To Tweet

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Social Media for Authors Podcast: Improve Your Marketing Results

Episode 14 - Social Media Sweet SpotTo read previous episode show notes, refer to my Friday blog posts.


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 Episode 14 Show Notes

This week’s segment includes summaries of four blog posts with awesome social media tips, and of course, I have your tip of the week.

Let’s start with your weekly tip.

You spend so much time learning about social media and keeping up with it that you’d like to see great results, right?

It’s only natural that we want to see our tweets retweeted, our Facebook updates shared and liked, and our images shared.

For me, it’s a sad day when after carefully planning my social media posts they trigger little engagement.

Today I’m going to suggest just three tips that have helped me and I think
will help you too.

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Friday Roundup: Add Visuals to Your Book Marketing

Episode 4 - Use Visuals

 

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Welcome to the Friday Roundup where you’ll find practical tips for marketing your books on the social web. This week’s segment includes summaries of four blog posts I found on the web,  and of course, your tip of the week on how to incorporate images in your marketing with Canva.


Let’s start with my weekly tip.

If you haven’t heard of Canva, go to Canva.com. This is an amazing application and now also a social media network.

I use it to create nearly all of my images for my blog and social media posts. Now, I say nearly all because I also use PicMonkey, another great app.

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Chasing the Elusive Shareable Content

6-23-14 Frances Caballo Social Media Just for WritersI was listening to a webinar featuring Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzgerald, who now work with Canva, and Guy offered his definition of what constitutes shareable content.

Creating shareable content is the holy Grail of social media. If our friends and fans do share what we post, then there is little hope that we will succeed in our social media marketing efforts.

Before posting content on Facebook or Google+, Guy recommends that you place your content through the “re-share test.” Ask yourself whether your content is valuable, bold, informative or entertaining. Does it provide a useful analysis or does it assist people in some manner? If it accomplishes any of these goals, your content should be shareable.

Guy also asserted that controversy will make your content more shareable. I’ve always shied away from stating my positions on gun control, presidential elections, or hot-button issues such as abortion. Instead, I keep to my niche, which is very safe ground.

Finally, Guy recommends that you follow this template for your posts:

 •    keep your headline to 50 characters

•    keep the body of your post to three sentence

•    use active verbs

•    brevity is vital

When I wrote my blog post about Canva recently, I shared some pretty amazing statistics on how much faster our brains can process images versus text. Our eyes gravitate to images and increasingly tend to shun large blocks of black letters. This fact explains why increasingly we need to include images and video if we want our content to be “shareable.”

Does Controversy Trigger More Engagement, Really?

This week I decided to run an experiment on my Facebook profile. I shared an image on Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency and another image about gun control. Guy told us during the webinar that when he takes a stand on gun control, hundreds of people jump in with their opinion. He loves that.

Let’s look at my post on Hillary Clinton. No one Liked it, commented on it or shared it. So, I thought it would experiment with another issue. I posted an image of Richard Martinez, whose son was murdered in the recent shooting in Isla Vista in Santa Barbara, with his arms around Peter Roger, the father of the killer. The image represented their stand on tougher gun-control laws. This content generated eight Likes.

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Compare those results with a quote I created using Canva. This content received two shares, one long comment, and seven Likes.

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In my experience, questions that elicit personal or fun responses trigger the most engagement on my profile. For example, this simple post about what I did on a Saturday morning followed by a question generated 14 Likes, and four comments.

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Finding Shareable Content for Facebook Page Posts

I haven’t and won’t steer into political stands on my Facebook page. It would be hard for anyone, including Guy, to talk me out of sticking to my main topics: social media, publishing and writing.

Even on this page it can be difficult to predict what will trigger engagement. This very simple quote by William Faulkner reached nearly 1400 people and generated 153 Likes, comments and shares.

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This quote by Maya Angelou, posted right after she died, reached 173 people and generated 26 Likes, comments and shares.

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I thought this image was amusing and had hoped it would generate some shares, but it didn’t. It reached 152 people and generated just six Likes.

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I also share what I consider to be valuable content. For example, I include links to my new blog posts, inspiring TED talks and other bloggers such as Joel Friedlander and Jane Friedman. These posts typically reach about 50 – 200 or fewer people and rarely generate a Like even though the information is informative, helpful and in some cases entertaining.

How Do We Really Know What’s Shareable?

Let’s return to Guy’s criteria for shareable content. He said the content needs to be valuable, informative, helpful, are entertaining. But isn’t it difficult to predict whether others will find information as valuable as I do or as entertaining as I do? The “re-share test” that Guy discussed can be elusive.

Are preemptory re-share tests necessary? On Facebook, I look to Insights, Facebook’s free analytics feature that shows me what works and what doesn’t. By returning to the metrics I can, over time, predict what content my audience prefers.

For example, even though my emphasis is on social media for writers, my audience prefers quotes from writers about writing. Even though Guy Kawasaki can trigger hundreds of comments by taking a stand on gun control, my friends are unwilling to do so.

Before you wade through all the potential sources for content and try to decide what to use, review your timelines, retweets, and Google+ shares. Even without using a metrics program, you can get a sense of what does and doesn’t work with your particular audience. In the end, that is the only re-share test that is infallible.

About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 Photo Credit: www.Pixabay.com

Writers: Use Visuals to Market Your Books

Create Your Own VisualsI never describe myself as a visual person. I can open the refrigerator door expecting one of our lunchtime salads to be gobbled up and not see a big, fresh salad that my husband made for me in the morning.

Really, I won’t see it.

Or I can walk into a friend’s home and not notice freshly painted walls or wallpaper newly added to the entry.

If there were an accident while I was standing on the street corner, I would not be able to give the police any details. I wouldn’t recall the color of the car or any details about the suspect.

Despite this quirk of mine, I am always drawn to visuals on social media. In fact, I more often gloss over (or not read) text posts on Facebook and instead jump ahead to the beautiful images and short, meaningful quotes.

I’m not the only one who prefers visual posts over text. Look at these statistics from Wishpond.com:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.
  • Videos on landing pages increase average page conversion rates by 86%.
  • Visual content is social-media-ready and social-media-friendly. It’s easily sharable and easily palatable.
  • Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than those without.
  • 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to carry more weight than product information or customer ratings

 Canva – A Free Application to Create Visuals in Your Messaging

I signed up for Canva about six months ago, and I’ve used it extensively to create Twitter and Facebook headers and images with text for Pinterest and other social media platforms. Canva is free to use (so far) and easy to learn.

Take a look at a few of the images I’ve created. The first image is my new Twitter header.

Frances Caballo - Social Media Just for Writers

This is one of the images I created  for Nina Amir’s Author of Change Program last December.

BEST Retweet Contest

Create Your Own Visuals

To start creating your own visuals, go to Canva. You can select a template or create your custom dimensions.

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Next, you will need to select your layout and image and your text. If you’re not using an image, you’ll need to select a background. If you don’t have any images of your own that you’d like to use, you can select from Canva’s one million images.

Canva provides some images for free and charges $1/image or $10 for eleven images for other pictures. In this example, I typed the word clouds and selected an image that will cost $1.

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My next step is to add a text overlay to the image.  Once I selected the text overlay, I changed the color from green to a pale blue. Then I added my text, added my branding at the bottom, paid for the image, and saved it.

 Canva will remove the watermark overlay once you purchase the image, and you can revise the image as often as you’d like over the following 24 hours.

Here is the visual I created. You’ll notice my branding at the bottom.

 Write Every Day

If you are artistic and you enjoy playing with visuals, you will enjoy this application. If you’re like me, you will be happy to discover how easy this application is to use. Canva has a series of short videos that will help you select complimentary colors and mix designs. 

Use Canva to create visuals to market your books by creating images for your blog, workshops, Goodreads giveaways, and book promotions. Once you create them, upload your visuals to any of your social media platforms, especially Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

What’s exciting is that now you can use Canva to create a cover for your ebook. Check out their pinboard on Pinterest to see their different layouts. 

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About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web