3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account

Bookmarks…jewelry…spa items…promo items in general…

You can put your book cover or author name on anything nowadays and though these items do get a lot of attention (Who doesn’t like free stuff, huh?) are they a worthy investment? Are you wasting your money on these items and not seeing a large return on sales?

Here are 3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account...followed up by suggestions on how to better invest your money, get more attention for your books and still get the write-offs. Continue reading

Attn: Bloggers – Please Put a Search Feature on Your Site

Blogging Tip: Search Feature

This post is primarily for bloggers, but this can apply to authors, too, because they usually have their own websites and blogs as well.

I’m going to get to the point immediately: PLEASE PUT A SEARCH FEATURE ON YOUR WEBSITE or BLOG.

Why? Because the next question will be a mute point and make everyone’s life easier.

Is Your Blog Easy To Navigate?

That question is SO relative, it’s insane. Everyone is used to whatever websites they visit and if something isn’t in the same place as the websites THEY visit, they’re going to get frustrated and leave. So, you can do all the research you want to on what’s commonly found on websites similar to yours–and you’d do yourself some service (and your visitors) if you did such research–but someone will inevitably have a hard time finding something on your website.

So what do you do as a fail safe for any visitor? Continue reading

How to Do an Automatic Tweet Campaign – Part 3

twitter-128Sorry for the delay on getting this last part posted. So much for marketing & timing! This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

Creating Your First Campaign

I’ll recap the 50,000 foot view mentioned in Part 1:
  1. Create a Hootsuite account (Hopefully, you’ve done this by now)
  2. Populate an MS Excel spreadsheet with your tweets (template below)
  3. Upload the spreadsheet into Hootsuite’s Bulk Scheduler
  4. Sit back and relax, feeling accomplished *sigh* Continue reading

Twitter Hashtags and How To Use Them

Twitter Expert? Hardly!

twitter-128(This is a republication of the article I posted on my reader blog.)

I’m going to state right up front…I am no Twitter expert. I will say, however, having just recently come to finally understand the concept of how Twitter works AND how other people use Twitter, I’m able to grasp the concept of how it can help me communicate with readers. With that said, if anyone else has anything they can add or correct me on, please leave comments. We can all be better at using this amazing social networking venue if we all pitch in.

Since I’m a fiction author, I’ll be sharing this information from the perspective of novels and that portion of the publishing industry, so this article is probably more geared toward the fiction author who wants to learn how to use Twitter to get the word out about their novels, but the concepts covered here can be applied to almost anything, so read on. This article is long, but covers the following topics (click topic to go straight to it, BUT click the MORE button below if you’re not in the actual article.):

  • The Purpose of Twitter
  • How to Use Twitter – The #Hashtag
  • Hashtags for Author, Readers, Writing and Publishing
  • Leveraging Mentions and Twitter Names
  • How to Run a Twitter Campaign (which mentions some Twitter Clients that make using Twitter easier) Continue reading

How to Do an Automatic Tweet Campaign – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

How to Schedule a Tweet with Hootsuite

Even though you can schedule messages for the other social networking platforms, I’m just going to cover how to work with tweets for the purposes of this article. Most of this will apply to the other social network accounts.

Why would you schedule a single tweet? Or perhaps just a small handful? Perhaps your readers are in a different time zone and they’re awaken when you’re sleeping or driving home in rush-hour traffic. Perhaps you want a few timely messages to go out while you’re at an event or at work. You could set up a small group of tweets to remind people of a seminar you’ll be teaching and you want to be sure they’re on time. Telling them to watch for a certain hashtag could alert them on their phones while you’re getting ready to teach. Be creative! Here’s how you would schedule a single message through Hootsuite:

  1. Login to your free Hootsuite account.
  2. In the top‐left corner of the home screen, there should be a text box containing the words “Compose message…”. Click inside that text box (see Figure 1).
    Figure 1
  3. When you do, it will expand to look like Figure 2. Go ahead and type the message you wish to tweet in the expanded text box.
    Figure 2
  4. Notice as you type, a counter appears at the bottom with the Twitter logo (See Figure 3). This lets you know how many characters you have remaining for your message. Also note there’s a text box that says “Add a link…” You guessed it! This is where you can put a link, should you wish to include one. The benefit of using their link option is 1) they’ll shrink it for you and 2) their “owl” links will create click statistics for you. Yes, you will be able to see how many people actually click on your links. GREAT for figuring out how to improve your marketing approach. Let’s go ahead and add a link to see how it works.
    Figure 3
  5. When you click into that text box, it will also expand and a new “SHRINK” button will appear (as you see in Figure 4).
    Figure 4
  6. Type or paste your link into the text box and click the SHRINK button (see Figure 5).
    Figure 5
  7. When you click the SHRINK button, it will not only make the link a shorter link, but it will also insert it at the end of your message (see Figure 6). At this point, you can just hit the “Send Now” button and it will be posted onto Twitter as if you’d posted it live at Twitter.com. This is how you use Hootsuite as a social media management tool. You can send live messages on all your accounts within a single application. However, for this tutorial, we want to schedule this tweet.
    Figure 6
  8. Just above and to the left of the “Send Now” button, there’s a little calendar icon (labeled with the dark-grey “Scheduling” balloon in Figure 7 below). When you click on that calendar or Scheduling icon, the window will expand and show a mini calendar with other options. Using the mini calendar, you can click through the months and click on a day and it will automatically update the date text box to the right of the calendar (see Figure 7, #1).
    Figure 7
  9. Set the time by clicking on the drop-down boxes (Figure 7, #2) and AM or PM by clicking on the corresponding buttons (Figure 7, #3). NOTE: If you’re scheduling a tweet/message and you want to be notified when it goes out so you can be online to answer questions, tick the “Email me when message is sent” check box.
  10. Once you’ve composed your message, shortened your link and scheduled a date/time, click on the “Schedule” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the window (see bottom-right of Figure 7). The scheduling/message box should shrink back to the small text box we saw at the beginning and you should get a confirmation the message was scheduled (See Figure 8).
    Figure 8

The Rules of Bulk Scheduling in Hootsuite

In general, a tweet campaign can be anywhere from 10-100 tweets sent out in one day, or thousands spread over several days. Due to the limits of Hootsuite, you can only schedule up to 350 tweets in your queue at once. If you took advantage of that max number, to have several campaigns scheduled over a few weeks (a couple of days here and there, let’s say), you can imagine how long it would take to schedule each and every tweet for a campaign if you followed the above instructions. What a nightmare! Remember, to best utilize your valuable time, use the above method for those one/few messages you need to schedule. If you need/want to schedule more than 10, I recommend the Bulk Scheduler.
Bulk scheduling does take some time to initially set up, but once you’ve created your first campaign, you can repeat that campaign just by making some subtle changes. Hootsuite has a list of rules and formatting restrictions that aren’t really necessary to go over here because the spreadsheet I’ve provided here will handle most of the formatting and some of the other things are “fixed” automatically in the scheduler. However, those rules are in the Bulk Schedule Updates window, so the first time you go through this, you might was to read them to educate yourself.
However, there are a few rules the should be addressed or you’ll get errors when you try to upload your spreadsheet:
  1. Duplicate Messages Not Allowed – You cannot use the same exact wording, character for character, in more than one tweet in your campaign. Not sure if Twitter/Hootsuite has some kind of timer (perhaps 24 hours), but this doesn’t mean you can’t send the same exact message tomorrow. The purpose of this rule is to prevent people from spamming the same message multiple times. However, you can change your message by at least one character (even a space) and the tweet will not be rejected (e.g., using “&” instead of “and” will change the tweet; even “Click here!” and “Click here!!” are different just because of the extra exclamation point).
  2. 10-Minute Restriction – You cannot schedule the first tweet in your campaign within 10 minutes of uploading your spreadsheet. So if it’s 7:00 am and my spreadsheet has my first tweet firing off at 7:10 am, by the time I login to Hootsuite and upload my spreadsheet I’ll have run into that 10-minute window. I don’t recommend doing a last-minute campaign, but I’ve woken up many-a-morning, gasping into an upright position in my bed, exclaiming, “@#$%?*@! I forgot to schedule my campaign last night!” and staggering bleary-eyed to my computer in my pajamas. NOTE: Although it isn’t a rule, I don’t recommend scheduling your tweets less than 10 minutes apart, either. It’s just plain obnoxious.
  3. 115 Characters ONLY – Hootsuite has a CSV template you can download, but they don’t tell you that even though you are allowed 140 characters in a tweet, you actually cannot have more than 115 characters in your message PLUS your link. The spreadsheet I’ve included here will solve that problem.
Okay, we’re getting really long here again for a single post, so I’m going to take this over to Part 3!
CLICK HERE to read the next post.
Self-Publishing Earns Authors More Money

How to Do an Automatic Tweet Campaign – Part 1

Sorry! Taking a quick break from converting eBooks to multiple formats in favor of the upcoming Black Friday shopping event. Marketing is timing and I thought this would give people enough time to get their Tweet Campaigns ready for the biggest shopping day of the year! GO TEAM!

This is part 1 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

twitter-128Twitter Works!

There is no doubt about it! Twitter is a great tool to help market your books by word of mouth. My friend Catherine Bybee SWEARS by Twitter because that’s how her books gained recognition. Go check out her Amazon rankings and see how ultra successful she is!

She stated in a recent Twitter workshop, “People need to see your name 7 – 10 times before they’ll buy your stuff!” And Twitter will help you do that! (*Arial clears her throat…* “Arial Burnz…Arial Burnz…”)

I would also recommend you get Kristen Lamb’s book Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World where she shows authors how to leverage social media as a whole. What I show you here is only a part of what she touches upon in her bestselling book.

I hear some of you protesting, “I’ve already tried Twitter and it didn’t work!” (Or you know a few authors who have and failed.)

Well, it depends on how you measure success. Read Kristen’s book and she’ll tell you how to do it right. But also take a closer look at what you/your author friends did. First, let’s look at who is following you. Most authors have authors following them. We want READERS following us. Authors are great emotional and professional support, but let’s face it…the vast majority of us don’t buy or read other authors’ books. We can’t! We have our own books to write and we have TONS of author friends. Just how many books can we buy to support our multitude of friends before we go broke? Authors are not the pond in which you should be fishing. (More on finding and properly fishing in the Readers ponds in another article.)

Secondly, did you have a constant stream of BUY MY BOOK tweets? That can be a sure-fire way to cause many eye-rolling gestures with massive unfollows in your wake or many people ignoring you. It’s just annoying, and you’ll know what I mean if you watch the Twitter feeds.

In this series of articles, I’ll not only show you how Tweet a little more personally, but do it more effectively without spending all day at the computer or on your smart phone. You’ll be too busy checking your stats!

The Personal Touch

Using Twitter with a genuine flair is the best approach to an organic response. What does that mean for us authors? Be yourself and stop sounding like a ticker-tape stream of adverts.

Here’s a general rule I learned from an author friend (Thanks, Heather Lyons!) and her publicist: For every 1 BUY MY BOOK (BMB) tweet you send, send 5 that are more personal or reflect who you are as a person/author. I call it the 1:5 TMR (Tweet Marketing Ratio). We’re not recommending ultra personal information, like posting pictures of your unmentionables or stalker-worthy details. Instead, let your personality come through. Here are some ideas for personal filler tweets:

  • Favorite and inspirational quotes by other authors, public figures or people you admire.
  • Jokes or humorous quotes. People LOVE to laugh and it’s a great way to win favor with others.
  • Share information about OTHER authors and help them promote their books by exchanging tweets. And swapping tweets with authors of the same genre is great cross-promotion, too. IDEA: Get a group of authors together to exchange tweets and you can save some time in composing about 50% of those personal filler tweets by promoting your friends using their tweets.
  • Share links to useful, funny or tear-jerking articles, videos or pictures. And it’s even better if they’re related to what you write. For example: My main character is a hot Scottish vampire named Broderick MacDougal, so I retweeted this picture with the tweet, “Broderick MacDougal needs 2 get one of these!” and mentioned several of my rabid fans…
Get creative and see what you can come up with! Even adding humor, drama or teasers to your buy-my-book tweets can be personal. These are some of the tweets on which I’ve received favorable comments or they’re retweeted often:
  • Woo hoo! My book MIDNIGHT CONQUEST is perma #FREE on #Amazon now!! *Does the Snoopy dance* http://ow.ly/qNOX4
  • Want a hunky Scottish #vampire in your hands? Download MIDNIGHT CONQUEST #FREE at #Amazon! http://ow.ly/qNOX4
  • “I want the taste of you on my soul.” Favorite #quote by #vampire Broderick MacDougal in MIDNIGHT CAPTIVE *sigh* http://ow.ly/qNTiN
  • OMG! I got an AMAZING #5Star review at #Amazon!! *falls off office chair* http://ow.ly/qNTGh #vampires #witches #werewolves Oh yeah!!
I wrote an article about Twitter Hashtags & How To Use Them, where I cover #hashtags and how to leverage Twitter. Be sure to check that post out if some of the above tweets looked strange to you OR if you haven’t quite figured out how to use Twitter.

What’s a Tweet Campaign?

In short, a tweet campaign is a stream of tweets you send out over a period of time for a promotional purpose, like a book release day, a free book day, spreading the news for a blog tour stops, or the like. You can do a campaign that spans an hour or even days.

“How the HECK am I supposed to do a campaign for DAYS?? My books aren’t going to write themselves!” I hear many of you screeching out there.

No worries!! Remember, at the beginning of this article when I said you won’t have to be sitting at the computer all day? Well, I meant it!

Hootsuite is Your Friend!

I’m a gal who likes to share a good thing, ergo why I have this blog. Now I can say to all my author friends, “Go to this article I posted!” And one great tool I discovered earlier this year (I know…I’m slow) is HOOTSUITE!

Hootsuite is a web-based social media interface that allows you to post on various social media networks, like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, WordPress and mixi. AND you can even connect with multiple accounts (e.g., I’ve connected my Arial Burnz Twitter and Facebook accounts and my Mystical Press Twitter account). Very convenient, as you can literally post one message and have it posted to all those networks with one click! I kid you not! LOVE this tool! There is a free account and a premium account. More on that later.

What I like BEST about Hootsuite is you can schedule your tweets (or whatever other messages you’d like to blast). And I don’t just mean typing in your tweet, scheduling it on the calendar for a date and time in the future and then rinse and repeat fifty times, like you have to do with TweetDeck. I mean BULK SCHEDULE!! Like up to 350 tweets at once! No joke!

More screeches echo across cyberspace. “OMG! Who would send out 350 tweets in a day!?” Well, very obnoxious people, to be sure. But I am not advocating you do that. That’s just how many messages can be queued/scheduled at once in Hootsuite.

How to Bulk Schedule a Tweet Campaign Using Hootsuite

I can almost hear those wheels turning and tumblers clicking into place. I think you know where I’m going with this. If you spend a little time up front planning and preparing, you can schedule several days’ worth of social networking posts – days and even weeks ahead of the event!

Here’s our 50,000-foot view:

  1. Create a Hootsuite account (WAIT! Don’t do it now! I have some money-saving tips for you, so keep your shirt on and stay here!)
  2. Populate an MS Excel spreadsheet with your tweets (template provided)
  3. Upload the spreadsheet into Hootsuite’s Bulk Scheduler
  4. Sit back and relax, feeling accomplished *sigh*

Create a Hootsuite Account

Hootsuite is free to join and it allows you to set up to 5 social networking accounts. However, there are several wonderful features that are only available to paid, premium subscribers – and the Bulk Scheduler is one of those delightful features. The fee is only $9.99 a month if you pay monthly and you can cancel anytime. $8.99/mo if you pay for the year at once – but that’ll be to the tune of just under $108. Ouch! Click here to see what each of their plans has to offer and all the nifty features.

But don’t fret too much about the money right now! Hootsuite gives you the chance to try their services for free in two ways, giving you 37 FREE days you can do campaigns! And I recommend taking advantage of both:

  1. 7 Days FREE – Join for free and, when you’re ready to use the Bulk Scheduler, they’ll tell you it’s a premium feature. But at the bottom of the window that pops up, it has a link to try it free for 7 days. I would recommend you plan a couple of campaigns first before you start your 7-day free trial.
    Note the link UNDER the big, green button!
  2. 30 Days FREE – Did you like your 7-day trial? GREAT! After your 7 days are over, you can plan your next few campaigns and then sign up for the premium account. You’ll automatically get get the first 30 days for free.

You will have to enter a credit card, though, but they won’t charge you during that 30-day trial. You cancel anytime before the 30 days is up, so if you can’t afford the $9.99 per month…put a reminder on your calendar. If I remember correctly, Hootsuite will send you several e-mails reminding you…but it doesn’t hurt to have your own reminder as a back-up.

I am confident, though, once you try the Bulk Scheduler, you’ll see how valuable this tool can be for your marketing campaign and forego that one night a month you go to a movie or take a sack lunch to work instead of going out to lunch. And remember, that $9.99 per month (which is the plan I use) is a tax write-off because it’s business related. 😉
So…visit www.hootsuite.com and sign up for your free account. But don’t trigger that 7-day trial until you’re ready to do a campaign! Right now, I encourage you to explore and set up your accounts and feeds. Hootsuite has a lot of useful walk-through steps that will show you how to add a social networking account and other functions in the web application. I encourage you to explore everything to see some of the amazing free features and what the premium account has to offer – like click reports, retweet statistics, Google Analytics, Facebook and LinkedIn Insights, Twitter and Facebook Aggregates and more! You can even see all your followers AND who they follow in a single glance by look at your contacts. Obviously, I’m in love with this tool.

To be continued…

This post is getting a little long, so I’m going to split this up. I’ll cover how to schedule a tweet and then show you how to bulk schedule a campaign in the next article. However, if you’re too impatient, I give a smaller version of using Hootsuite in that article I linked above to my reader blog, which I’ll probably be moving to this blog once I’ve finished this series. Here’s the link again: Twitter Hashtags & How To Use Them
In the meantime, go create your free Hootsuite account and do some exploring.
CLICK HERE to read the next post.
That’s my two pence…
Arial 😉