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Posts Tagged ‘self promotion’

“In this course for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, you will learn about the targeting options for Amazon Advertising’s sponsored ads and determine the most effective targeting method to meet your objectives.

After taking this, you will know how to:

  • Recognize the targeting options available for both Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products.
  • Explain the different keyword match types.
  • Leverage product targeting in your next Sponsored Products campaign.”

Okay, let’s do this. I’m taking the course.

It’s supposed to take 22 minutes. The last one was supposed to take 12, but took me closer to half an hour, but I needed to grab a coffee and had multiple interruptions. I didn’t track how long it took this time, again with multiple interruptions.

The first batch of “pulse check” questions were way too easy. The answers were literally in the questions.

Wow. So apparently you should add misspelled keywords for seekers who are typing challenged (like me typing on my phone!), and other causes of misspelled search terms entered. If I search “thrliler” the keywords won’t pick it up as a misspelling of “thriller”. Less important search words (if, and, of, the, when) are ignored when the algorithm matches search terms to keywords.

Ooh, again using crime novels as the example. I like these people.

Broad match keywords for customers looking for “crime novel”. Pretty much the broadest search option:

“Ads associated with these keywords would be eligible to display:

  • Crime mystery novels
  • Novels about crime

But ads associated with these keywords would be ineligible to display:

  • Criminal novels
  • Crime books”

Phrase match keywords for customers looking for “crime novel”:

Customers need to use the exact phrase, or close variations, and be in the same order as keyword term. It will also reach a smaller audience than the broad match, but your targeting is to more specific searches.

For your crime novel these keywords are eligible:

  • Crime novel eBooks
  • Best seller crime novels 

But these keywords are not eligible:

  • novels about crime
  • crime eBook novel

Then you get your exact match keywords, which are exactly that. The search term has to exactly match your keyword term. Their query words have to be in the same order and without extra words. Your keywords are “crime novel” and “crime novels”, but they searched “best crime novel”, so your ad does not show on their search. It narrows it down to cost you less, but also limits your ad reach to exact matches only.

I always wondered what these “negative matches” were about. Now I know! I, for example, will want search keywords like “crime novel”, “crime”, and “serial killer”.

But for my “negative matches” I would definitely want “true crime” so I’m not paying for clicks for people who want true crime stories instead of fictional crime stories. The same goes for “cozy” to weed out people looking for a cozy mystery. Mine is not cozy. That might have saved me some $$$ when I tried to do ads before!

If your recall, my previous attempts (how long ago now?) at paid Amazon ads resulted in it costing me more for the ads than my royalties for purchases. In total, from Sep 20117 to Sep 2018 I spent $87.40 on ad clicks, with an average cost per click of $0.28. That got me a total of $37.80 in sales. That’s the list price, not the royalties you earn. And not all of those ads even had any clicks, but at least you don’t get charged for that.

In the product targeting, I immediately had a question. Do my POD books qualify for “Prime Shipping Eligibility” and how do I find out? Because that is one of the target categories.

I logged into Amazon using my partner in all thing’s account, which has Prime and searched one of my books. Here is what I found. The book on the left would be the one uploaded to IngramSpark. The one on the right is pulling from Amazon. Note the price difference because to get the same royalties you have to price it higher on Ingram. This is prices in CAD, not USD. The US prices are lower, but still higher through IngramSpark than the Amazon book. Also, this book is now available in hardcover, but only through Amazon.

Only the book on the right mentions Prime in the product search screen.

As you see below, the IngramSpark book does not show the Prime emblem, but the Amazon KDP book does. So, I guess the answer to my question, “Do my POD books qualify for “Prime Shipping Eligibility”?” is yes to the ones uploaded to Amazon KDP, and no to books uploaded through another platform. But both show free shipping. That’s a bonus for me and the buyer.

When I searched using my own non-Prime membership, the IngramSpark book shows free delivery. Curiously, it also shows “Ships from United Kingdom and sold by Book Depository CA”. Funny that I assumed IngramSpark would print it in the US with ground shipping to Canada instead of shipping it overseas. Whereas the Amazon book lists “ships from and sold by Amazon.ca” and free delivery if you spend $35 on items shipped by Amazon.

So, both books benefit from Prime memberships with automatic free shipping and only the Amazon one is charging shipping for non-Prime members, but the latter might be a bonus because I bought Stephen King’s “Danse Macabre”, which I’ve been contemplating for some months when I decided I might also want his “On Writing” memoir. When I saw that I got free shipping because together they were over $35, I used my own account to buy them instead of the Prime account of my partner in all things. But for someone without access to theirs or someone else’s Prime account, they save the shipping if they buy two of your books, or your book and something else sold and shipped by Amazon. Or, as in this example, by spending a little more for your IngramSpark book.

*Note, this one did show the hardcover option too until I shrunk the Google window down. It hid it when it reformatted for the new window size.

So, while most of this course was stuff that seemed pretty obvious, I did learn something because I wasn’t really sure about what “negative matches” was. Turns out my suspicious was right, but I avoided it in my prior ads because I just didn’t really know.


Bring on the next challenge!

I started setting up my first experimental revisiting book marketing endeavor. But at the recommended $1.17 default bid per click, and if I use the “Dynamic bids”, I have to set my daily budget for $1.17 X 2 = $2.34 minimum per day in order for the dynamic bids to work. That puts my minimum projected expense for the 15 days at $35.01, which allows me to get one bid per day at this maximum charge. If I set a budget of $60 for the next 17 days, maybe I’ll win more than one click per day? Still, that’s a lot of money for me to spend for half a month of advertising that I’ve had no success with before.

How the bids work is that it will bid up to your maximum, but only charge you a little over the next highest bid under yours. It charges you that cost per click for that ad showing up in someone’s screen (only if they actually click on that ad). So, if I win a bid and am charged $1.56 and ten people click that add, I expect to be charged $15.60 for clicks. What are the odds enough of those 10 people will actually buy the book for the royalties to cover my cost?

I’m thinking zero.

Amazon, of course, recommends using their automatic targeting especially when you are not experienced at advertising with them (like many of us!). But since I don’t really have that $60 budget, and ideally you want your sales to pay for your advertising instead of losing money on it, I feel like I need to seriously undercut their recommended default bid, change it to set bids by target group, or switch to manual targeting with a very narrow target.

$60 over 15 days is a daily budget of $4.00. When it reaches $4 in clicks on any given day, it shuts down the ad until the next day.

Okay, so after some playing around, I chose: Garden Grove (paperback and eBook)

  • Manual targeting
  • Dynamic bids
  • Product targeting: /Books/Mystery, Thriller & Suspense/Thrillers & Suspense/Suspense…” category “Suspense Thrillers”.
  • I used the suggested bid ($0.38). That’s a whole lot less scary than bids of up to $2.34 per click!
Garden Grove

I had zero success coming up with anything in the search for negative product testing, so I didn’t bother. I’ll try that another time when I do the keywords targeting instead of product targeting.

Because the book is uploaded through multiple publishing platforms, I actually had to check the ASIN numbers to make sure it was the Amazon book. But it looks like any book pushed to Amazon from other platforms can also be used in the advertising campaign.

It’s cool that Amazon also happens to have these book discounted. Yeah!

Remember, when Amazon discounts the book on their own, they still pay you the full royalty as if it’s not discounted. Sweet and a bonus on my potential advertising dollars’ sales?

 I also rummaged around the KDP discussion boards before doing this and noticed some people say they only do the ads and only recommend doing them when there is a new book because of their lack of success also with the ads. I’m going into this eyes open knowing I’m likely to only lose money advertising on Amazon. But enough companies do it that it must be of some benefit to some, right?

And while I’ve only really seen people recommend advertising NEW books, what about everything else you’ve put endless hours of yourself into? My name and fame are not enough to sell my already published books and I don’t have anything new currently coming out. I’m working on it but am not there yet. The new books, that is, not the name and fame.

Okay, this campaign is going live. Wish me luck.

Oh, um, what? It shows the $1.17 default bid from prior to my changing it to the product default.

But on the dashboard screen is shows the $0.38 per bid, so I guess I’ll give if a few days and see what happens. I will be watching this closely because I left it at a $4 daily budget, which I can’t really afford because life is a budget and anyone who’s paying attention to life knows the cost of everything has been going way up the past two years while your job that pays the bills paychecks never increased with the cost of living pre-Covid and are trailing even further behind now. And the cost of everything is about to explode (gas prices already are) because of the horrendous actions on another continent of one person who I do not wish to soil my blog at this time with his vile name.


Keep writing, reading, and promoting my friends.


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Next Posts (coming):

  • Amazon – Marketing Resources: “Start with a Book” & Breaking Down the Price of a Book vs. Royalties
  • Amazon – Marketing Resources: A+ Content (New!)
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“In this course for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, you will learn about Amazon Advertising’s sponsored ad types, identify benefits and use cases, examine placements across devices, and select the appropriate ad type for your campaign objectives. 

After taking this, you will know how to:

  • Identify the benefits and use cases for Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Products.
  • Select the appropriate ad type for campaign objectives”

Okay, let’s do this. I’m taking the course. It’s supposed to take 12 minutes. It took me closer to half an hour, but I needed to grab a coffee and had multiple interruptions.

I already knew how the auction process works from doing it before. I paid more in clicks than I made in sales, so it was a fail when I did the charge-per-click auction campaign before.

When I get around to trying a sponsored brand ad, now I know that I’ll need to create a custom landing page. I’m assuming I’ll have to create it, anyway. I haven’t gotten that far yet to find out how that works.

Bring on the next challenge! I’m going to experiment with the first book marketing endeavor.


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The Enroll in free Amazon Ads training courses starts with a “Complete the quiz to earn a badge!” declaration with a “Get Started” button and options to choose course, do the quiz, and take a survey. Teenager number one made a face of disgust and properly done eyeroll at the badge thing.

But hey, let’s earn that badge!

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Damn. “Authentication Required”. You have to log in with Amazon (again) to unlock this additional content. Now, what’s my password again?… I also had to allow Amazon Advertising to access my Amazon account profile.

Cool. Apparently, I can “Earn certification”. “Demonstrate your proficiency and earn certifications in Amazon Advertising solutions.” And they have a help button. I usually need help.

It’s a 17 multiple choice question quiz and was focused to writers. Mystery thriller books even and running out of advertising funds and being unable to increase the budget. I feel embraced and understood for the first time, haha.

A few questions the answers included 4-character acronym terms I did not know what they meant. I know what KENP is, sort of. I don’t remember what words make the acronym but have an idea of its meaning. What is ACOS and CTR? I guess I’ll be learning that. I’ve chosen KENP a few times just because I didn’t know what ACOS and CTR are.

There was a question using children’s author, science fiction novels, and fantasy trilogy examples for those of you out there.

Do I get a badge? I failed! Pre-taking any of the courses and webinars, I scored 41% on the quiz. 7/17. Nope. You have to earn 80% or higher on the quiz to receive a badge. “Sucks to suck,” as teenager number one in the house would say. She was also completely unimpressed with my failing. This is the kid who gets mad if she gets below a 98% herself on anything, so I guess I burst her little bubble of my awesomeness.

The review didn’t let me actually review the test so I can re-take it and cheat to pass. I guess I have to actually do the courses and learn before I retake the test to earn the badge.

Oh well, that’s the intent anyway.


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We discussed how essential self-promotion is, whether you love doing it or hate it. And how self-promotion is the face you put out there to your followers.

Now we are getting into what you can do to self-promote, like blogging.

Having a website is as important as blogging. It’s another tool in your promotion toolbox. Think of your website as the center of everything you. It gives you a homepage to send people to for various purposes.

As with everything, there’s no one right way to do a website, but some things are better than others.

Don’t be bloggy.

It’s an easy mistake, but avoid making your website look like a blog. I made this gaffe when I started trying to do this stuff years ago. I’ve also seen it on a lot of websites. You can incorporate your blog and website together in a one-stop package, import your blog with an RRS feed, or just have a running list of links to your most recent blog articles, depending on what your website platform is capable of.

Just be sure your website looks like a website and not a blog. The first page of your website should look like a homepage. Keep the blog feed on another page they can easily find and click on, or in a lesser profile side stream.

Don’t backburner your website. Prioritize it.

I’m guilty of this and working to put more focus on updating it. In being so busy with life, family, the job that pays the bills, volunteering, blogging, trying to self-promote, and trying to get writing and editing done, I tend to forget my web page even exists. Bad bad me.

If this is your one-stop spot for people to find everything, it needs to be up to date. It should also be very easy for them to find and click links for your books and other products.

Keep it current and relevant.

If your blog feels abandoned, like an old house, it will not invite visitors in.

Your website is your homepage for all things you.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

As I said above, your website is your homepage. It’s where you can feature your newest release or product, sales, events, promotions, anything you want to focus on. You want links to follow you on social media, and to any store pages you’re selling your books or products on.

It’s your central hub pointing to and organizing the maze of media all your self-promotion is on. This also makes it easy for it to turn into a confusing web of links and plugs.

Try to do all this and keep that homepage simple and uncluttered. Easier said than done.

Your branding starts here.

As your focal point for self-promotion, your branding starts with your website. All points lead both to it and away from it.

Branding, in short, is how you shape the you your followers see. It’s something recognizable that immediately identifies you. Once you establish a branding that works for you, you want to express it consistently across all of your media from your website to your blog to your Facebook and Twitter.

Landing page vs. homepage.

You might see a website homepage referenced as a landing page. I’ve seen website homepages that were a landing page. Here is the key difference between the two:

A landing page is singularly focused. It is a standalone web page for a specific marketing or advertising campaign. It will typically have a single call-to-action link button.

For example, this newsletter signup button on the sidebar of my blog brings you to a landing page.

This landing page’s singular call to action is to signup for the newsletter. It asks the visitor to enter their email address and click “Subscribe”:

A homepage page is the first page visitors to your website see and it sets the stage for your website. It’s opening the door and stepping into your front entrance with just a glimpse of the home within behind the doors, aka pages and links.

This is my L. V. Gaudet website at the moment, and my other alias (Vivian Munnoch) website. They are both a work in process. As with all things writing, I’m forever working to improve my websites too.

Give your website personality. Make it stand out as yours.

Whether you are using a template or building your website from scratch, you want to give it your own personality. Make it yours. Make it stand out as a piece of you. You want your website to be memorable. To scream, “THIS IS MY WEBSITE AND IT’S BETTER THAN THE REST!”

Multiple pen names means having multiple websites.

If you are published under multiple pen names, you ideally want to have a website for each pen name. You can have a quick link for visitors to jump to your other nom de plume website. It means double the work. I have a visit button on both of mine linking to the other. With Wix, because I didn’t pay for a special domain name, this means both sites’ addresses start with ‘lvgaudet’.

Alternatively, you could go the route of treating it like a dual-author shared website. But having separate sites means you can focus each more on the target audience for that pen name. This is especially ideal if they are different genres. In my case they are different age groups.

Choosing the right website platform is important.

Finding the right website platform can take some trial and error. The first one you try isn’t always the best and that’s okay. There is a range of them out there from free to pricey, many with for both free and paid services, with different options and ways they work. Finding the right one for you makes the difference between a struggle or making updating your website a breeze.

Creating your website is like writing your story. You plot and draft it out, outline, change, and rearrange it. You might even scrap the whole thing and start fresh with a new page on a new website platform. It’s all part of the creative and learning process.

My webpage is on Wix.com. It is free and, once you figure it out, not too hard to use. It has limitations, but they all do. You can only link one blog to it. It is designed to be more friendly to Blogger than other blogsites like WordPress.

I chose Wix because after reading through multiple website platform reviews, it was in the top of the list with a majority of the reviewers, and because it’s free.

One of the things I don’t like is having to choose between adding new material at the bottom of your pages or the long slow process of moving all those boxes down a few at a time to organize it from the newest to oldest going down the pages.

For example, my “News & Events” page. It doesn’t make sense to list it from the oldest a the top down to the most current at the bottom. Who wants to scroll down that far for the most recent news? Maybe there is an easier way to do it on Wix, but I haven’t found it yet.

It only takes a moment to search ‘best free website platforms’ and you will have a screenful of articles to sift through and pick out which sites have what is best for your needs.


Keep writing my friends, and don’t let the challenge overwhelm you. Building a website can be time consuming, but it’s worth it in the end.

Posts: SELF-PROMOTION IS A FOUR LETTER WORD:

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How can you kill two birds with one stone? Simple. Follow that cliché! Blog.

Since most of us writers don’t make a whole lot from our writing, if you are among those that do sell any books, it doesn’t take much to put you in the red. Yes, there are ways to publish without spending a penny on it, but effective publishing, and promoting, costs money.

Blogging is one way to promote yourself and your work on any budget from, “Budget? What budget? I’m dead broke.” to “Budget? Haha, yeah, I don’t even think about what I spend. I don’t worry about money. I’ve got lots.”, and you don’t even have to blog about your work. You can make your blog about anything.

Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash

Just because you write a particular genre or subject, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to focus your blog on. Maybe you’d rather discuss the plight of the Pacu Fish. If you don’t know, they have weirdly human-like teeth. Personally, I suspect this is the result of some hapless person who really angered someone big time, and was cursed that they and their generations to follow will forever live as fish.

Whatever your passion is, you can make that the subject of your blog. Write it enthusiastically. Write it well. And, the most important point, try to write it on schedule.

Consistency is magical. Stay reasonably on topic. If your passion is painting burned out skyscrapers and you grow a following blogging about those post-apocalyptic symbols, your readers likely won’t be interested in your post on tapioca pudding, unless it’s pudding found in a burnt skyscraper.

Posting occasionally and sporadically won’t grow much of a following. If you are going to do a monthly blog post, try to schedule it for the same day each month. People like consistency. They want you to be reliable.

Frequent blog posts can be a big challenge, especially with daily life and other things getting in the way. If you are going to commit, make it a schedule you can likely keep. Too frequently posting could set you up to fail, and if too frequent, is also spammy.

Don’t be spammy. Nobody likes having their email clogged with spam. If I’m getting multiple notifications a day every day on the same blogger posting, I’d stop following them pretty quickly. I find one a day every day from the same blogger too much. I don’t have the time to read that and would be just deleting the email notifications and probably killing that blog subscription.

Speaking of execution, how are you committing that murder of the second ‘bird’? Blogging serves a second purpose.

Blogging is writing practice. So, not only are you working to build a following that will hopefully result in some book sales, but you are also working at practicing and improving your writing skills.

Don’t wait. Start blogging before you publish.

While the writing practice and working to develop your writing voice is a bonus, the main purpose of your blogging is to put yourself out there and build a following. Your blog is a checkmark on your writing platform to do list.

Building a following is key to building your author platform. Any potential agent or publisher is going to be a whole lot more interested in the author with an extensive following than the one with a few dozen co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, and the odd random person they don’t know in real life.

Whether you are going traditional, with an Indie or small press, or self-publishing, that following is a pool of potential buyers of your book. The bigger that pool is when your book comes out, the better your odds are at generating sales through your blog.

You want to get your followers excited about your upcoming book if you can. Get them interested enough that they are sharing and spreading the news about your book. Only a small percentage of your followers will typically buy it, so the more reach you can get them to spread for you, the more potential buyers see it, and your list of followers can grow.

How do you start a blog?

Find yourself a blogging platform and start writing articles.

Simply put, a blog platform is a service or software for managing and publishing content on the internet in the form of a blog.

WordPress is one of the most popular platforms. It has both free and paid for themes that have a range of customization ability. There are plugins that let you do even more. You have to buy a subscription to use the plugins, but you can still do a pretty decent blog for absolutely free.

There are two variations of wordpress.

WordPress.org is a self-hosted open-source software. It’s free to use, but I’m sure there’s some catch in there for them to make money off you. Self-hosted = you need a domain name and web hosting. It lets you do more than the other WordPress, but a domain name and web hosting is not included in the “free” price tag of this software. You will need to find these and will have to pay for them. This also means that you or your web hosting service are responsible for doing all customizations, updates, and backups of your blog site.

WordPress.com is what I currently use. It is a hosting service created by Automattic, so it’s got the all-in-one on providing both the blog platform and hosting service. It has options ranging from free to crazy expensive. You are more limited in what you can do than with the .org, even more limited with the free version. You can get your own domain for a price. You have to have a paid subscription for that. They plug ads on your blog to make money off you, and you cannot plug your own ads to monetize. If you max out your storage space on the free plan, you have to upgrade to a paid subscription. When that happens, I’ll likely look into the costs of getting that domain name and web hosting to switch to the .org.

What I dislike about WordPress.com is that the new editor automatically removes all extra line breaks and color in text when you copy/paste your post into it, and doesn’t allow for font type changes within the post. I write in Word, all prettily formatted, and copy/paste it into WordPress. Then I have to go through the entire post adding back in the line breaks and re-convert sub-headers back into sub-headers and re-colorized any text that I didn’t want black. Line breaks – those empty spaces – help make your post easier to read and breaks up bits that don’t necessarily go together.

Blogger is another common one. You may have heard it called “Blogspot”. They aren’t one and the same, but they do work together to provide you a blogging platform. Blogger is the publishing platform and BlogSpot is a domain service provider. Both are available for free. You can also pay to get a custom domain name.

Warning: some authors have reported having issues with Facebook flagging Blogger blogsites as violating their anti-spam rules. Apparently Facebook lately equates Blogger with spam. Hopefully they will fix this.

There are others, and also website platforms like Wix that let you do a blog in addition to the website.

Do your research before you start. Find out what blogging platform best suits your needs.

You will find that you can auto-feed many blogging platforms to cross-pollinate your articles onto other social media sites with your blog. Where they are capable of feeding to depends largely on who owns what and who set up their sites to work together. I was able to set Blogger to feed into Wix (a website platform), but had no success trying to get WordPress to feed into Wix. Blogger also fed posts into Google+ before Google shut down that platform.

This article says you can import WordPress blog posts into Wix (you have to log into Wix to read the article). I’ll give this a try later when I get around to updating and spiffing up my Wix page.

My WordPress.com blog auto-feeds posts to my author pages on Facebook and Amazon, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. It also has a new create a podcast episode feature that lets you convert your text blog to audio. I tried it out. Cons = it sounds like a robot, tends to skip words, and will mispronounce words including names and anything that is a heteronym (same spelling, different pronunciation). There is no way to fix those errors at this time. It’s new, so hopefully they fix that, but they probably won’t be able to get it to sound human.

Vlogs are another option.

Like audiobooks, they are also increasing in popularity. Why read a blog when you can listen to a video blog while you are doing other things like ignoring the other people in the room? Right?

Vlogs have their own group of hosting platforms. You could probably get away with creating the posts on your phone, but if you want a professional feel, you’re going to have to invest in equipment, find some sound and video editing software, learn sound and video editing, and find a quiet place to record. I’m probably making it sound harder than it is.

What else are these posts on YouTube, Tik Tok, and other social media and video sites where people are essentially blogging by video if not a form of vlogging? No, not the barrage of so-called challenges and other bizarre and mindless shares. I’m talking the posters who actually use these media sites as vlogs. There are other platforms out there designed specifically for vlogging.

You also have to be capable of speaking coherently while recording yourself. I’m still working on developing that talent.

One of the benefits of the blog is the side bars and pages.

In the side bars, you can have click to follow buttons, signups for your newsletter, and photo button plugs linking your readers to buy your books and products.

Pages give you the option to set up a click away page featuring any or all of your books and products.

Readers can come for the article and see your books down the side, buy them, learn more about them, and click to follow your other social media accounts.

Keep writing my friends, and good luck on those blogs.

SELF-PROMOTION IS A FOUR LETTER WORD Posts:

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How cute you look. Dashing. Pretty. Pretty weird. Handsome. Bizarre. Tough. Tender.

What kind of appearance are you going for?

Photo by LeeAnn Cline on Unsplash

Self-promotion, in many ways, is like a Snapchat filter. Who hasn’t used one of those, right? The ‘old’ filter is fun when you’re goofing with friends, making them all see how awesome they look old. Or as one of the other wacky filters. It makes for hilarious party games.

But you see people on other social media using the Snap filters to change their appearance for the pics they put up of themselves, to make themselves look more flattering (because who doesn’t want to look better?) and it’s so obvious they used a filter.

That’s what self-promotion amounts to. The appearance of yourself that you put out there. Your public persona is the Snap filter of your real self. And that appearance isn’t really about your looks, it’s about your personality.

Whether you are going for genuine original you, or putting on a different face for your fans and followers, putting that persona out there consistently is work. And you need to be consistent. You can’t be the girl or boy next door full of sweetness and then lash out full of angry venom. You will alienate your followers that way. Don’t confuse them with different personalities on different social media platforms. Self-promotion means using multiple platforms, and trying to remember who you are on each is just too much unnecessary work.

If you are going to be a particular persona, own it. Eccentric? Own that too.

If you are going to be Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Alice Cooper, or some other character, then you have to put that act on any time you are doing anything to self-promote. Always in character. Always obvious about knowing you are a character, not real, because your followers know it. That’s exhausting.

What persona do I think works best? Just be you. The real you. Unless, of course, the real you is a jerk. Be personable, friendly, and easy-going. Be natural. Be the best and most likable real you that you can be. Although you might not be able to be all natural you. Not if, like me, you have strong introverted tendencies, are most comfortable in your own company, and feel completely awkward about promoting and talking yourself up or talking to audiences of any kind. You’ll have to fake the outgoing personality a bit then. But it gets easier and more natural feeling the more you do it. Kind of like that bike you learned to ride.

And when you get out of practice, like relearning to ride a bike (I did that), it’s easier the second time around.

Wherever and however your are promoting yourself, everyone will see through a fake façade. If you try to sound too smart, funny, or cute when you blog, when your blogging or vlogging voice just isn’t you, followers will pick up on that quickly if they meet you in person or follow you elsewhere. If you put a personal note in the front or back matter, make it real. Make it you. When you do a bio of yourself, try to put a little of your personality in it, even though you are writing it in the third person.

Here’s a secret: readers like to feel a personal connection to the author, like they know you. Like they can think of you as perhaps a distant friend or an acquaintance. I’ve listened to teenagers rave about their favorite authors and it always seems to share one common thread – they will happily tell you about something they feel is personal about the author. Something they found Googling about the author, from an author interview or article about the author, or just from following the author on social media. It might be a story the author shared about something that happened in writing or publishing a book, at a book event, in an interview, or in their personal life. That connection seems to have a bigger overall impact in that age group than the quality of the writing.

Adults seem to gravitate more to the story that enthralls them first and the author’s personality second. But if that personality fails, so does their opinion of you, and that translates to their opinion of your books.

Think before you speak. Another important tip. It only takes a single one-off offensive comment to ruin a reputation. Insulting people and making hurtful comments is not a way to sell yourself or your books. Your personal views are separate from your writing quality, but not from your reputation, and it’s that reputation you want to build. When you put respecting others first, you bring greater respect on yourself.

Do no harm. That should be first and foremost in your actions and comments. Think before putting something out there publicly that you cannot take back. You do not want to alienate entire communities of potential fans, whether it’s by being insensitive, flipflopping the public persona you put out there, or by being unlikeable.

And remember, the easiest way to not slip up on your public face is to just be you. Be nice. Be respectful. And be real.

Keep writing my friends, and think about the different ways you can self-promote you and your books.

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Photo by Raphael Rychetsky on Unsplash

As an author one of your jobs is endless self-promotion.

 

I did my first ever book bog tour. I mean a real tour, not one where your publisher sends your book to all of two fellow authors in their stable to review it and calls it a tour (yeah, this did happen). This, despite having my first short story published in an in-print anthology in 2009. (I’m not counting the multiple E-zine flash fiction and short stories), and my first book published in 2014 by that same Indy publisher, followed by another. (Wow, it feels so much longer ago than that!) And, I’ve been writing for a lot longer than that.

 

It was kind of terrifying. Okay, a lot terrifying. 62 book bloggers over 30 days received complementary copies of my 4-book series to blog and/or review at their discretion.

 

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

 

To add to the, ‘will they hate it,’ fear, I’m not entirely a conventional writer. I’m not a follow the traditional rules write to the long established scripted standards kind of author. I don’t conform to the status quo, the norms; the overall expectations of, ‘This is how it has always been done, so this is how you have to do it,’ mindset. I don’t obey the, ‘This is the currently popular style/person so you must do it too.’ Literary art, to me, is not meant to be kept in a tidy box of expectations.  (And, those expectations are expanding with the volume of Indy and self-pubbed books.)

 

 

 

 

 

Book blog tours is only one of the ways to try to get the attention of the readers at large in the hopes they will be interested enough to buy your books.

It is important to note here that people who manage book blog tours do not generally do it purely out of the generosity and kindness of their own hearts. Book blog touring is a paid service. While the bloggers and book reviewers are not paid (their only compensation is the free book), the tour manager will charge you a fee, and the rates will vary.

 

 

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

My book blog tour was a fail and I’ll tell you why. Predominantly, in going through each blog or Facebook page after their scheduled posting date, almost every one was like skimming through those Facebook groups of endless self-promotion. You know the ones, where countless authors hopeful and desperate seeming plug themselves in a never-ending stream of self-promotion posts that nobody looks at. Few of the authors posting on these groups take the time to scroll through the other advertisements, fewer still with the goal of finding something to buy. I doubt anyone else even looks at them.

 

 

The other problem was the genre. You need to sing to your target audience. Can you imagine Alice Cooper or Ozzie Osborn stepping on to the stage and belting out lyrics to a crowd who bought tickets to Michael Bublé or Beyoncé? As Alice would croon, “Welcome to my nightmare…”

 

Photo by Katie Montgomery on Unsplash

The blogs that signed up for the tour were mostly populated by streams of “book tour” advertisements for romance. Yes, romance. I write dark fiction; thrillers, dark mystery, psychological thrillers, drama with dark twists, not so cozy mystery with an underlay of you guessed it – darkness. I have not to date tried writing a dark romance. Frankly, I don’t think I could write a romance. Romance and dark fiction tend to appeal to very different kinds of readers.

 

I did get some positive comments on my book covers, even a few on the books’ write-ups. And I got one review so far from the 62 blogs. Do I expect to see any sales from it? It’s possible. Just because there was no uptick in sales during the 30-day tour, doesn’t mean no one who saw or participated will buy. Some buy later. I don’t think it’s likely, though; romance and thriller being unlikely crossover genres.

 

The comments were also generally from the bloggers themselves posting on the blog tour operator’s blog. They already got complimentary copies, so they aren’t going to buy the books. If a book farts in the woods and nobody hears it, will they buy it? There seemed to be little, if any, traffic outside those bloggers to any of the blogs.

 

 

Photo by Dorian Hurst on Unsplash

Can a book blog tour be successful?  Yes. The question is, ‘How?’ It’s about following basic rules of marketing.

 

Find your audience. If these were blogs featuring thrillers, horrors, suspense, mystery, and other related genres, odds of sales would have been driven up exponentially, assuming anyone reads the blogs.

 

Traffic is necessary. I suspect blogs that feel like Facebook groups of endless self-promotion ads with nothing else to offer probably get just as much meaningful traffic: little to none. You need blogs that pull traffic in, that have meat and potatoes and lactose free/gluten free/vegan-loving poutine (if such a thing exists). What you need are blogs the people who might read your book are interested in what they have on the blog menu.

 

 

Incentives are helpful. People love to feel like they got a deal. Thus, the giveaway. I gave away a couple of small Amazon gift cards and a few free copies of an eBook I was not trying to drive sales on in the book tour. If it was a short tour, I might have offered a discounted sale on the books.

 

Be inclusive and try to make friends. You want people to want to buy your book, and to make it as easy for them to do it as you can. Remember, everyone who might buy is your friend.

 

Personal touch is important. Self-promotion is not just about immediate book sales. It is also about building your author platform and growing your hoard of followers, some of whom will buy your books – eventually. More followers can be gained by being personable and engaging with them than standing behind a smokescreen plugging ads at them.

 

Be seen.  If nobody knows you exist, you don’t, right? Kind of like that Schrödinger-styled tree that may or may not have made a sound when it fell in the forest. Your marketing needs to hit as many eyes as you can, but not literally. This is not A Christmas Story or the Addams Family.

 

 

Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

How the book blog tour works is that the tour operator puts out a call for bloggers to sign up. Once the signups are complete, the bloggers are scheduled to blog on certain dates. It could be a blog, Facebook blog page, or other online site.  The bloggers get a complimentary copy of your eBook(s).

 

You fill out an author Q&A interview and/or write up some short guest blog posts to be shared with the bloggers.

 

On their designated day, the blogger puts up the blog post. It could be a cut and paste of the book tour info (all but one did this on my tour), they could post the relevant information and pictures with their own personal narrative introducing it, or they can post a book review.

 

Ideally, you want each blog post to be unique. Pre-written author interview Q&As or guest posts from you are key here. So is regular active participation from the bloggers, rather than blogs filled with empty cut and paste advertisements.

 

You visit each blog and make comments thanking the blogger and responding to any comments left by anyone else. Again, be personable and try to make friends.

 

Sit back and hope for sales, and don’t forget to tip your waiter/waitress.

 

 

 

Other ways to self-promote your self and books include, but are not limited to:

– Book and/or author website/blog is discoverable on internet search engines

– Social media. Be social online and blog.

– Newsletter/email subscriptions (ie Mailchimp).

– Category choices and keywords for your book sales listings and Google searches.

– First appearances. Your cover needs to make them want to pick it up.

– Book promotion. Pay for some outside promotion help.

– Give it away FREE! Allow free download of the first 10%-20%, free short/flash fiction.

– Book events. Set up author signing tables and schmooze, sell, and sign.

– Have some swag. Give away business cards and bookmarks.

– Submit to eZines, magazines, and anthologies featuring short stories and flash fiction.

– Get mentioned in local newspapers and newsletters.

 

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By request, I’m talking today about Wattpad. Let’s talk about a thing called Wattpad. Wattpad was launched in December 2006, so it’s a not-new social media platform. For comparison, Facebook was launched in February 2004.

What the heck is Wattpad?

Wikipedia defines Wattpad as: “… an Internet community for readers and writers to publish new user-generated stories in different genres, including classics, general fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, poetry, fan-fiction, spiritual, humor, and teen fiction. It aims to create social communities around stories for both amateur and established writers.”

Wattpad calls itself, “The world’s most-loved social storytelling platform. Wattpad connects a global community of 80 million readers and writers through the power of story.”

 

The long and short of it is that Wattpad is another means to an end for writers: building a fan following. You create a profile and publish your stories, long or short, series snippets or all at once, and hope people read them, like them, and follow you.

This means you are self-publishing those stories. Wattpad, like Smashwords, Amazon KDP, and others, lets you put your story in front of readers yourself, without the agent or publisher. The big difference here is that Wattpad does not give you the option of charging readers to download your stories. You are putting them up for free.

However, you can conceivably make money from publishing on Wattpad. How? Similar to getting paid by publishing vlogs (video blogs) on Utube. It’s about ad revenue. You monetize your Wattpad account by allowing ads to be inserted between your chapters, and if you have enough followers/readers/ad clicks, then you get paid ad revenue.

Disclaimer: Just to be clear here, once you publish on Wattpad, that story is published for all intents and purposes as far as any publisher or agent is concerned. So, if the submission guideline says, “No reprints”, your Wattpad story is off the table.

So, why the heck do you want to give away your blood, sweat, tears, and pieces of your very soul hard worked writing? Maybe you don’t, and that’s okay. If you do want to, that’s okay too.

 

It’s about marketing yourself. Being a writer means seeking ways to market yourself and that means followers on social media platforms.

Getting a following on Wattpad can be just as hard as building that following on any other media platform. People have to not just half-notice you exist, they have to be interested enough to click that little follow/like button. More, they have to be interested enough to really follow you and read what you have to say, and to go that step further and comment on your story and share and recommend it to other Wattpad users.

Talking to some fans of Wattpad, I am told the best way to develop a following is to invest yourself in them. You need to follow, like, and comment on other people’s stories and in return they may do the same for you. Visit the community section and participate in discussions. Like any media platform, the more likes and followers, the more visible you become to potential new followers.

 

Not everyone on Wattpad is a writer. There is a subset of people who are just there to read stories. But, there still is a lot of writers on Wattpad. Wattpad fans also tell me that the largest demographic on Wattpad are young readers. That’s right writers of middle grade, teen, and ya fiction, these are your people.

They are also often young fledgling writers just beginning to flex their writing wings. This would be why (I’m told) there are a very large number of poorly written stories on Wattpad that those magical gems of great stories excellently written are hidden among.

 

Wattpad is not just for the young. Older genre writers rejoice. Just because your writing is not middle grade/teen/ya, does not mean you can’t carve out your space on Wattpad. There are plenty of writers and readers of all genres and ages.

 

The beauty of Wattpad is the opportunity to be discovered. Those rarities, the writers whose stories are smash hits rising to the top of the Wattpad pile, can and have been ‘discovered’, netting them sweet publishing deals.

 

There is also a thing called the Wattys (The Watty Award). This is Wattpads own literary awards.

“The Watty Awards are Wattpad’s annual celebration of the electrifying, visionary, diverse voices that choose to share their stories on Wattpad every year. Across a decade of Wattys, we’ve celebrated the journey millions of Wattpad writers undertake to bring their stories from their dreams and into the lives of readers around the world.”

Watty Award winners get:

  • A winners’ digital kit to share your accomplishment with the world
  • Promotion on the Wattys profile on Wattpad, and other official Wattpad channels, which may include (but are not limited to) Wattpad’s official social media pages, newsletters, and other communications
  • A Wattys winner certificate signed by Wattpad co-founder and CEO Allen Lau
  • A limited-edition Wattys badge for your story cover
  • White-glove treatment from our Content and Creator Development team, including Wattpad Best Practices and Insider Tips and Tricks and priority consideration by Wattpad Studios for your story to be shown to entertainment and publishing partners
  • Consideration for Wattpad Paid Stories, our monetization program where writers earn money directly on Wattpad

 

 

 

Wattpad Links:

 

How do I Create an (Wattpad) Account

How to Publish a Story on Wattpad

Statistics and Demographics – Wattpad

The 2019 Watty Awards – Wattpad

The Wattys | Wattpad Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Understanding Writer Analytics – Help Center

 

 

Blogs about Wattpad Links:

 

10 Years of The Wattys — 2019 Awards offer fast track to Wattpad Paid Stories

How I Got Noticed on Wattpad (and Won the Wattys)

Wattpad’s Dark Side! – BookPromotion.com

6 Things Every Author Needs To Know About Wattpad

 

 

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One of the problems with an author’s need to self promote is the need for those promotional efforts to come across as professional.

Having it look like your ten year old did your promotional material is probably not good. Then again, maybe your ten year old is better at it than you are.

If you want professional looking promotional material you need good quality photos and photo editing.

The first rule is to watch the copyrights for every picture you use in your promotional materials. As a writer you would not like to be plagiarized. Neither do artist’s and photographers.

Canvas.com is a good source of single use photos around $1 USD. It’s more for expanded rights.

If you are manipulating the photos or art, you need a photo editing program.

This is where I get stuck.

After realizing photo editing does not mean drawing on your screen with colored Sharpie and uttering a little swear, comes the knowledge that sooner or later I need to upgrade the program I have. I think it’s older than flip phones. Yes, I’m definitely pretty sure.

Cost is a huge factor. So is being user friendly. I don’t have the money to blow on something expensive, or to commit to a monthly subscription for a product I will use sporadically.

I don’t have the patience either to fight with it while putting Roxy dog aka The Big Dumb Bunny outside every three minutes.

I also don’t actually have a promotions budget, a software budget, or even a Sharpie budget for that matter. Cost of living expenses and all that tend to get in the way of little things like that.

If you are like me with a very small disposable income that gets sucked into the vortex of young teen children, you need to find the most cost effective (aka cheapest) way of doing everything.

So, here is a link to an article that says these photo editing programs are not super expensive.

We will see.

http://www.toptenreviews.com/software/multimedia/best-photo-editing-software/

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The Trouble With Self Promotion

 

where the bodies are

After years of work, a great deal of time spent writing, re-writing, abandoning, taking up again, and endless rounds of editing, self doubt, and convincing myself that no one will like it, I finally took the big plunge and queried, accepted a contract, and had a book published.

 

Now what?

 

Self promotion, that’s what.

 

No matter the size of the publisher, or if you go the traditional publisher route, small independent press, or self publish, nobody is going to know about or buy your book without promotion and a lot of it. The smaller the company, the smaller the promotional budget they’ll have. But regardless of the size of the company the bulk of the promotion will fall on the author’s shoulders. It’s expected that you will take up that burden and run with it. After all, who has your self-interest at heart more than you? That means you, the writer, have to do a lot of work to promote yourself as an author and your book.

 

My first attempt at bulk/multi self promotion can be summed up with one word. It’s not a good word so we’ll just say “Oh crap!” and leave it at that.

 

The trouble with self promotion, my trouble to be specific although guaranteed I’m not alone, could probably have been helped a great deal with being more prepared and organized. But in such a big task it takes a lot of time to be prepared and organized in that huge world of promotion and, like writing a novel, that will be an ongoing work in progress.

 

Anger and frustration. Those are two good words to describe my experience. The biggest challenges working against me: poor internet connection, a less than stellar working mouse (okay, its more dysfunctional than functional), and starting out already tired and frustrated, with an overdose of wild hyper kids to reduce any attempt at concentrating to a slathering glob of damn I wish I had a glass of wine and a quiet place.

 

So this is lesson one in How To Be A Writer – Promote Yourself & Your Book:
– Distractions are a killer just as much here as when you are trying to write
– Tired and grumpy? Let’s find our happy place before we start.
– Preparation and organization ahead, yeah let’s work on that.
– A good internet connection and reliable computer are huge pluses, essential even.
– Spending four hours or more fighting with the internet, computer, distractions, et al to post a measly 8 quick past and post attempts to promote your book sucks the big one and was probably a huge waste of time.

 

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre ?

Do you know #WhereTheBodiesAre ?

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