Newsletters, Street Teams, Advanced Reader Groups, Social Media, Oh My!

My marketing efforts for my novels needed to be organized!

One thing I had been confused about is all the special groups some writers have. I’ve read about street teams, advanced reader groups, and launch teams, but it left me confused…I already have a newsletter and social media fan pages, do I really need three more groups of readers?

And with these more specialized groups, what info do I share with them, and how often do I engage them? I can barely keep up with everything I do already.

At multiple points during my years writing and publishing, I bought into each of these team concepts at one point, forming a new group that I let fizzle out a few weeks later, because I didn’t understand what to do with the team of willing readers.

After doing a ton of research, I realized I was making the whole process way too complicated.  I demystified the teams, and I thought other writers might also be confused, so I’m sharing information on my idea of what the best collection of fan engagement platforms are. The ones that give you the biggest return for your time.

Newsletter:

I’m still a huge fan of a Newsletter List. Many writers have multiple different ways to grow and manage their newsletters. Some writers only grow organically through visitors to their website and readers of their books, others utilize a reader magnet and service like Instafreebie or BookFunnel, while others participate in huge group giveaways. I’m actually a fan of all of the above.

I treat my newsletter like any type of paid advertising I do. It’s a way to engage established fans and attract new readers. What’s right is very specific to the writer.

There’s also the question of how often to send a NL. I know writers who send a newsletter daily…to weekly…to monthly…to only with new release edition. My choice is after an initial, weekly welcome series for the first month, I only send a NL out monthly unless I have a new release or something important to say in between. Monthly is enough to ensure the readers remember who you are, but doesn’t bog down their inbox.

I look as a newsletter as a consistent, typically one-way communication tool where an I can keep my subscribers/fans updated on what I’m working on, such as new and upcoming releases and remind new fans of my previous books they might not know about. To keep fans engaged, I do ask questions, share fun content like jokes and contests, share new project info, inside information on writing a certain piece, including deleted scenes, character interviews, etc, contests/games, other author book reviews, etc.

Website/Blog:

It works the same as a newsletter, only instead of the author pushing out the information, readers find the information when they’re interested in it. It’s a way to keep books organized and guide the reader to other stories they’ll enjoy. Plus, it’s nice to add a little bit of extra, bonus information.

I continue to blog a little (I used to do more of it)  for no reason other than I get enjoyment from the process and interaction. I don’t feel a blog is necessary, but do think every author should have at least a static web page.

Social Media Fan Pages:

Social media is another way to engage the reader. Successful fan pages have two way communication where the author connects with the reader on a nearly, 1:1 level. In my neck of the woods, Facebook is the most popular, so I utilize that one. I have other ones as well, but I don’t go to them routinely with information, but I utilize some integration so my blog and Facebook posts automatically go to twitter.

Early in my career, I tried to utilize too many social media sights, and I got overwhelmed and my posting frequency and content quality went down on all of them. Now, I’m focusing on Facebook. Ideally, posting every day. If some of my fans don’t use Facebook, they should subscribe to my NL or check out my webpage to find whatever info they’d like.

Advanced Reader Team / Street Team / Launch Team:

I’ve decided to combine all three of these into one team that I’m going to refer to as my Street Team. It’s too difficult to keep different groups based on what they’ll do for you, so I’m merging all my half-thought-out groups into one. With this, I have two parts. First is a “Street Team” email list and second is a “Street Team” Facebook group.

Both of which I don’t contact consistently, only when I have something to say. Most of these readers are on my regular newsletter list or follow my Facebook Author Page already.

I utilize this group to help me with specific tasks. In exchange, they get offered early, advanced copies of my books before publication.

I ask them to read and review copies of my books, to purchase the book (if they’re able) to help me with Amazon ranking and having their reviews show up as verified. I also ask for help with advertising by commenting and sharing Facebook posts for enhanced visibility, to help pick covers, provide blurb feedback, to test their interest in new book ideas, and to help spread the words of my stories by sharing them with their own followers and groups.

So…how does this all come together?

I send my Newsletter out once per month. (And an extra time if I have a mid-cycle new release.)

I’m working up to posting on my Facebook Page once daily. I pre-schedule posts a lot so I only need to work on this about one day per month.

I post on my Street Team Facebook Group whenever I have a decision to make… i.e. New series cover or concept, title feedback, etc, have an advanced reader copy of a book ready (I like to post the book 2-4 weeks before publication) and then during the first week of my launch with specific tasks (like leaving the review, liking/sharing posts, etc.)

I email my Street Team Newsletter list when I have a new advanced reader copy of a book ready, then I re-email whoever received a copy as soon as the book launches, reminding them to leave a review.

That’s it. Not nearly as complicated as I made it over the past few years.

How about you? What works for you that I’m missing? I’d love to hear.

I Love Anthologies!

I do. I love everything about them.

I love reading them. I love writing stories for them. I love meeting new authors and characters through them. I especially love holding one massive book in my hands. (Take a look at the size of these two anthologies I was recently in compared to a standard, mass market paperback:)

anthologies

As a writer, a multi-author anthology is great for introducing your writing style to new readers. I always gain new mailing list subscribers, book sales, and comments through social media from new fans.

As a reader, anthologies are a great way to taste many different writers work. The best part is they are inexpensive AND you don’t have to invest a lot of time to determine if you like how an author writes a story. If I loved something, I always go on to find more by that author. (My biggest pet peeve is when a story does not get wrapped up in a satisfying way. Many people may go on to read another book, but not me. I’m not that patient.)

This week, a 20,000+ word novella of mine, Fangs & Fairy Dust, was published in the Darklight & Daydreams Anthology. This one is my second charity anthology I’ve participated in. Here, all the proceeds will go to Puerto Rico to help them recover after hurricane Maria hit last year.

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I also have a cozy witch story just in time for Valentine’s Day available in the Hexes and Ohs Anthology.

Hexes and Ohs

So, due to my love of this form of book, I may have over committed myself for 2018. I have a handful of anthologies coming out this calendar year.

  • Hexes and Ohs: A collection of paranormal cozy shorts. Published January 16th. (Contains a cozy romantic witch story.)
  • Darklight & Daydreams: A charity anthology benefiting Puerto Rico. Published February 1st (Contains a spin-off novella in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Angels & Magic: Short Story collection. Publishing in May. (Will contain a short story in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Angels & Magic Box Set. Publishing in June. (Will contain a novella in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Unleashed: A Paranormal Romance Anthology. Publishing in August. (Will contain a novella in my Angels of Sojourn series.)
  • Legends of the Veil: A Fae Anthology. Publishing in August. (Will contain a novella in my Fairy Godmother World.)

We have covers for all these sets, but I can’t share the unpublished ones yet. Keeping a secret is SO HARD!

Another thing I love about writing a story for an anthology is they are quite a bit shorter than a novel and are a much needed break from a bigger, lengthy project. Like right now, I just finished up Book 2 in the Angels of Sojourn series and can’t wait to get started on some shorter works.

As always, thanks for reading!

Faded Fall

Please share your love/hate relationship with anthologies.

 

Four Books Later, I Finally Hit #1

That’s right. I finally did it!

Hidden #1

Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey hit #1, and I received the elusive Amazon Best Seller orange tag!

Hidden best seller

And it didn’t take many sales. The day it hit number one, I sold 50 copies.

The key was a good cover, a little bit of the right advertising, and picking the correct categories for the book. Here are a few tidbits:

  1. The right cover: I’ve finally given in. I did make my Hidden Cover, but moving forward, I think I’ll be hiring cover designers. I reached out to one of my favorite designers to work on redoing Blood & Holy Water & making one for book 2 & 3 in this series.
  2. The right advertising: Having a group of authors that help support this project has helped me bring in sales (if you haven’t read my blog about the “Hidden” project, check it out HERE.) I’ve also developed a new release spreadsheet/plan that works on multiple angels of advertising, including paid promos, newsletter swaps, social media, cross promo with other authors, and Amazon/Bookbub notifications. Someday, I’ll write a blog about this — if you want a copy sooner, just comment below.
  3. The right categories: Yeah, this makes all the difference. There’s a whole mess of sites about getting into specific categories, but what I do is just browse every ebook category on Amazon, write down which ones I want, then contact Amazon (thorough author central) to add my book where I’d like it. This article has been helpful. I go right to step 3.

Oh, and a bonus to all of this…my reviews are coming in better than I expected. I have 18 reviews so far (it released three days ago,) and I’m currently averaging a 4.6 stars!

Now, my next goal: figuring out how to get “sticky” on Amazon. First, I’ll have to write more books!

Thanks for sticking with me & my writing journey.

Talk to you again soon!

 

Hidden: One Title. Endless Possibilities.

I’d like to officially introduce everyone to a project I’ve been working on since spring. You’ve all read about my novella, Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey… Well, this was written as a part of a 70+ author collaborative where we each wrote a story with the same title: Hidden.

Confusing, right?

When you see the variety in the covers, it’s not confusing at all, just take a look at these October/November releases.

HIDDEN (1)

Each author could write any story they like, in any genre they enjoy, as long as it has the title, Hidden. Then, once weekly, a book is released…and we’re booked out into 2019!

The purpose of the project–besides having fun–was to connect indie authors for cross-promotion. Hopefully, when someone reads my eBook, they find another one of the Hidden authors and read their book as well. (Those that are interested in the outcome of this, don’t worry, I’ll blog about it sometime during this project.)

You can follow along on our website or with any of our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram) to see what this fantastic group of authors came up with, or simply sign up for our newsletter to receive updates of the current new releases.

Here’s what’s in store until the end of November:

Here’s October/November’s Releases:

October 26thCheck this out HERE.

Laura Greenwood – Dystopian RH Fairy Tale Retelling

November 2ndCheck this out HERE.

Alasdair Shaw – Military SF

November 9thCheck this out HERE.

Joynell Schultz – Quirky Fairy Tale / Urban Fantasy / Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 16thCheck this out HERE. 

Troy McLaughlan – Dystopian Science Fiction Adventure

November 23rdCheck this out HERE.

Deidra D. S. Green – thriller, murder mystery and suspense

 November 30thCheck this out HERE. 

A.J. McWain – Post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait to see all 70+ covers, side-by-side, in 2019 when this project concludes…and, of course, read every one of these titles!

1000 True Fans – 14000 Readers in 10 Months.

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Wow!

Ten months has passed since I started my quest for 1000 True Fans. I was diligent in posting until an accident with my father had my life flipped upside down. Behind the scenes, though, I still plugged away, trying to grow my mailing list.

In these ten months, my mailing list grew to over 14000 readers…and is still growing, but, at the same time, I’m working on cutting out people that appear that they’ll never be a true fan. I want to maintain an ACTIVE list that sits around 10,000 subscribers. (Why 10,000? Purely a balance between being effective…and cost effective.)

So, of these 14000, how many are true fans?

Honestly, not that many…but enough. When I send out an email, only about 30-40% of the people open it…and 7% click on any links. So, of 14,000 people that’s about 4500 opening the email and 1000 clicking something…but mostly freebies/giveaways.

A good test of my true fans is to see how many of my newsletter subscribers clicked the link to purchase my latest new releases.

  • I sent Witch or Treat out to about 4000 subscribers. Of these, I had 211 click the link to purchase on Amazon.
  • I sent The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives out to about 10,000 subscribers, and I only had about 100 clicks…but many of my true fans are on my advanced reader team or ordered it on pre-order. All in all, I sold over 500 books in the month since it’s been released. (Still not at 1000 true fans.)

So, on this journey for 1000 true fans, this is what I’ve learned so far.

Your best fans come from slow, organic growth. Patiently waiting for people to read your books, fall in love with your writing style, and join your mailing list (or follow you on BookBub/ Facebook/Etc.)

  • I get a few organic sign ups every day…and that’s because I have stories out there. The more I publish, the more signups I receive. I adore little notes on how they fell in love with some of my characters or love my book.
  • The key here is to ensure joining your mailing list is visible in your printed books. I have a nice page in the beginning of the book and another link at the end (see the graphic I posted below.) I also have links on my Facebook page, website, and amazon bio about all the ways to follow me.If you enjoyed... (3)

Participating in anthologies, has been more effective than I expected in extending my reach. I have spurred a lot of new interest in my Superhero Wife World through my short story published in Witch or Treat. This brought me a lot of exposure to fans who enjoy stories like mine. I have another short story coming out in 12 Days of Christmas which I hope brings similar results. I’d love to have a full novel in a box set someday.

Participating in freebie giveaways is not a bad thing, as long as you don’t allow dead weight to sit on your list & cost you money. (When I say “dead weight” I mean those that use false emails or a separate email account they never use to redeem freebies. I love anyone who opens my emails, whether they click or not.) What I like about having some stories out there for free, is they attract readers I wouldn’t have run across any other way. I classify these giveaways into two groups: Individual downloads where a reader is interested in your book specifically and downloads the story or group email collection where a reader enters a contest to win free stuff and all the hosting authors receive the email address.

Either way, these are much faster ways to grow your list…and some, like the huge multi-author group email collections, can get you up to 5,000 emails in a few months. I was in a Science Fiction & Fantasy paperback giveaway this summer that brought me 5000 subscribers, but note, of these, only 1100 are still on my list…and of these, only about 300 have ever clicked a link. BUT, don’t discredit this. It’s a wide net, but if I end up with 100 true fans from this, I’m happy.

These mailing list signups that come from freebie giveaways are are like like running sand through a sifter. Most of the small grains pass through, but when all the dust settles, you’re still left with a few good pebbles…or fans in your sifter. Most of my Advanced Reader Team has come from this method, and they are wonderful to work with. I also have some close fans that sprung from a few freebies. Also note, many people sit on your list and haven’t had time to read your stories yet. Most of the time, they open an email here and there, and I appreciate the casual interest.

Another tip is a good automation/welcome series can help trim out some of the sand that is passing through. I send a three to four part series and if someone doesn’t open any of them, I send them one more titled Have you been receiving my emails? from a different email account. If nothing is opened, I remove them from my list. If they open the one from gmail, they get added to my “send from gmail only” list.

My frustrations!

Even with this solid mailing list, many of my emails to “true” fans are filtered out by the readers’ email service. Google throws them in their “Promotions” tab while other services filter them to spam because they’re from a mailing list. Its frustrating not to be able to contact my loyal readers.

To overcome this, I’m focusing more on growing different social media channels instead.

Facebook is my favorite, so I’m trying to use it more. I have twitter, but don’t find much engagement. Facebook has been good to me. I’m diversifying my posts to add more variety and interest. Check out my page HERE. I started posting about my life running a zoo. Cute/Fuzzy animals always gets some attention. What I don’t like, is Facebook still filters out who see’s your posts…unless you pay to promote it.

Also, I’m trying to grow other services. With each new release, BookBub sends an alert to my followers. Amazon does the same thing, so I’m trying to get my readers to follow me on these two platforms. (Shameless plug: Follow me on BookBub HERE and Amazon HERE.)

In Summary! (I know, this has been a long post.)

My goal is to filter out the dead weight on my newsletter and add in quality subscribers. What I’m learning is it’s a never ending process. New people in, old people out until your left with a tight list of loyal followers.

The best followers come organically…and the best way to get these is simple: WRITE MORE BOOKS AND BE IN MORE PUBLICATIONS!

Thanks for following my journey! I’ll update again when I learn more. If you’ve been following my growth, here’s how my audience has changed in 2017.

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If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

Do you have any tips for me? I’d love to hear!

I’d also love to answer any questions you have.

 

Participating in an Anthology

Recently, I’ve participated in my first anthology. From a marketing perspective, I’m so excited about this project! I’ll tell you more about that further down in this blog post.

First off, I want to tell you about this anthology. It’s done! You can grab a copy of Witch or Treat HERE. It’s 99 cents for a very limited time, then the price will go up — but still be very reasonable for a 600+ page book. There are stories from fifteen different supernatural cozy mystery/clean romance type authors.

Witch or Treat

Here’s the blurb:

It’s All Hallows’ Eve, and these witches are getting wild!
Just in time for Halloween, some of your favorite authors have teamed up to bring you more than 600 pages of mystery, magic, and mayhem.
Whether it’s a trick or a treat, these witchy tales will surely get you in a spooky state of mind!

The Case of the Exploding Luck Pumpkin – Nikki Haverstock
Cats, Bats, and Talking Hats – Danielle Garrett
One Spell of a Night – Regina Welling and Erin Lynn
‘Tis the Season to be Creepy – Sonia Parin
The Supernatural Life of a Superhero Wife – Joynell Schultz
The Mystery of the Halloween Mask – Ani Gonzalez
How to Date a Witch – Cate Lawley
Hexing the Ex – Ruby Blaylock
Costumes and Cauldrons – Amanda A. Allen
Harper Grant and the Poisoned Pumpkin Pie D.S. Butler
Witches & Stitches – Ava Mallory
GoB (Game of Bones) – Pearl Goodfellow
Howling Ian – Karny McFlynn
Bubble, Bubble, Here Comes Trouble – Tegan Maher
A Dark Root Samhain – April Aasheim

~ ~ ~

Okay. Now for more info on putting this together and the effects on marketing.

I found this anthology in one of the Facebook promo groups I’m in. If I wasn’t diligent in watching that group, I would have missed it. I joined right away and told myself I’m getting a story done for this project.

We had months to write a story, and I came up with a short story that ties into my Superhero Wives World. It’s titled The Supernatural Life of a Superhero Wife. I wanted this tie-in as a type of cross promo. Let me tell you, at first I was wondering how I’d mix a witch with superheroes…but I think it worked! If you read the anthology, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my story.

All fifteen participating authors brought something to the table. Regina Welling did the cover and the publishing, Danielle Garrett did the blurb, Kate Baray worked on formatting & others are working on advertising. Having such a talented team like this makes it so easy to put everything together.

We published this anthology two days ago and have had over 1000 sales so far with only pushing to our own newsletters and social media. It got the Amazon “Best Seller” banner! I think that’s pretty amazing. One thousand people have a copy of something I read…and it happened almost instantaneously. A key point here is to make sure your writing style fits with the group. The goal is to share readers and find some new ones.

We want to get a BookBub ad for this anthology. Having a group of people together…and a seasonal story…increases our chances. My fingers are crossed. We published the anthology two months early so we can try for BookBub twice (you can only submit once monthly.)

Oh, and the best part? I met a group of fabulous authors who are full of knowledge. They’re giving me all these marketing ideas that I was oblivious to.

I’ll keep you updated as things progress. Thanks for reading!

 

How about you? Have you participated in an anthology? Your thoughts?

 

Do You Give Your Book Away?

Do You Give Your Book

My writing goal has always been to get people to read my books. Pretty simple, eh?

Those of you who’ve been following my journey (or are published authors yourself) know it isn’t that easy. One of the things I’ve been tossing around is giving away my full-length novels for free.

I already give away short stories as subscriber magnets for my newsletter…but how about an entire book? Will this help me in the long run? Especially when I only have two books available for sale at the moment?

Despite the cautions from others that this devalues my work and it only makes sense if you more books in the series, I decided to do it anyway. Why? Because I want to know. Don’t you?

So, I did some experiments with my FREE days through my Kindle Contract. (For those of you who don’t know what this is, if you sign up to be exclusive with Amazon, they give you two advertising options during each 90 day contract. Either you can drop you book price to free for 5 days (consecutive or non-consecutive) OR you can participate in one countdown deal.)

Back in February, I blogged about my countdown deal for Love, Lies & Clones where I basically lost money…about 50% of my investment. Last week, I had a countdown deal on my other novel, Blood & Holy Water, where I did it smarter. The results? I still lost about 33% of my advertising investment. (i.e. I put in about $150 in advertising and made back about $110 back.)

So…what about FREE days instead?

With Love, Lies & Clones, I had five free days to experiment with. Here’s what I did. (Note, I don’t know if there is spillover sales for my other novel from these downloads.)

  • April 27th — No Advertising — 286 copies downloaded — $22 in extra sales over the next few days, no increase in Kindle Unlimited page reads. Result was a net profit of $22 with no advertising cost.
  • May 11th & 12th— Ran a Genre Pulse ad for $12.50 on the 11th followed by another Free day on May 12th — 810 copies downloaded over the 2 days (360 on day 1 and 450 on day 2) — $6 in extra sales over the next few days and an extra $14.50 in increased Kindle Unlimited page reads over the next two weeks. Result was a net profit of $8.
  • May 25th — Ran a Fussy Librarian ad for $27 and had my book priced 99 cents before and after the promo. 578 copies were downloaded — Only made back $3 because of the 99 cent pricing and had a page bump that only was an extra $3.5. Results were a net loss of $21. If I would have kept my book at full price, this promo would have broke even. I also had the memorial day holiday here, so I don’t know if this was run at the best time.
  • June 26th — Ran a Robin Reads Ad for $60 — 1483 copies were downloaded – Made back $42.63 in extra sales and I’m unsure on the KU page reads at this point. Probably will make this promo break even.

Non-Fiscal Benefits:

  • Newsletter signups: I have had 24 sign-ups from this promo. (I have a “download my free prequel” link in the front matter and back matter of the book.)
  • Social Media Follows: I know I’ve had some, but didn’t quantify them. Probably the same number as newsletter signups.
  • Reviews: I received some reviews on goodreads and amazon. (4 amazon reviews, 13 goodreads) I had been fearful they’d be extra critical because the book was free, but they weren’t.
  • Exposure: How do you quantify just having people see your story?

So, overall, free days appear to get your book(s) in more hands and bring in more net revenue than countdown days. (I don’t know how true this statement is if you’re doing a lot of cross promotion and not paying for advertising.) Giving your book away is also a great way to get your book out into the world, whether or not it’s the first in a series–especially for a newer author.

My Tips for Setting up a Free Day.

  1. No advertising is a good place to start. Perhaps promote it with other authors. People will find your book, and you may even get spill-over sales the next day (I did.) I will be repeating this method to see if it’s consistent.
  2. If you’re advertising, it appears best to only have your book available for free for a single day. Consecutive days will result in more downloads, but won’t make money back to pay for your advertising.
  3. Don’t spend a ton on advertising. Moving forward, I’m going to try to shoot for the $25 or under price tag.
  4. Keep your book full price before and after the free promotion.

I’m still left with some internal debates. Is giving your book away free devaluing your work? Is there long term complications? I don’t have those answers. I write because I love it and it’s fun. And seeing thousands of people download my book is pretty darn fun!

What do you think? Have you given your book away free, and what were your outcomes?