Monday, February 23, 2015

Marketing Mondays: Cooperative promotions with other authors

My friend and fellow author Cindy Spencer Pape has published more than 50 books and has been around the promotional block once or twice. I asked her to share her thoughts on book marketing in today's Book Marketing Monday post. Take it away, Cindy!

Cooperative promotions with other authors — yes, they work!

Promotion is the bane of most writers. On the one hand, many of us are thin-skinned and insecure about our work, but on the other, we have to be out there, telling the world how fabulous our latest book is. It’s tough, sometimes mind-bogglingly so.

After over 50 published titles, I’ve found that most promotions work…sometimes. I haven’t yet found that magic promotional bullet to catapult me into best-sellerdom. Some people read ads, some people don’t. Some follow Twitter, others don’t. If you can get help from your publisher, those promos probably work better than almost anything else I’ve tried, but most publishers have lots of authors and limited resources. You’ll get promoted if you’re already a best-seller, but it’s hard to stand out in the crowd otherwise.

Next to that, the best luck I’ve had is cooperative promotions with other authors. When readers see an author they like recommend another author’s book, they’re inclined to believe it. Promoting your friends on Facebook or Twitter isn’t seen as self-serving the way promoting yourself can be. Also, being cooperative gets you the reputation as being a “nice person” which doesn’t hurt either.

Blog-swapping (thank you to Angie for having me here today!) is one cooperative form of promotion that a lot of authors use. I’ll admit, after several years of intense blogging, I’m kind of burned out and only blog occasionally now. Special projects like this one, though, keep me out there in the blogosphere, without having to try to fill my own blog every day. Group blogs, where you only have to post once a month or so are another way of authors helping authors—and also a great way to make friends. The same goes for reader-author Yahoo Groups or Facebook Groups.

Generally speaking, if you’re kind to your fellow authors, they’ll be kind to you. And that’s probably better promotion than money can buy.


Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 19 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons, granddaughter, and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Website: ( )




Check out Cindy’s latest paranormal romance, Sea Change available now from Ellora’s Cave.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Marketing Mondays: A roundup of helpful videos

I'll be honest that I didn't have time to prepare much of a post today, so I compiled a list of helpful videos that have some great information in them for authors looking to sell their books to readers. Got a video you think has valuable information? Leave the link in the comments!

Blog tours can help you get your new release to readers. Here are some tips on starting a blog tour.

Here are some general tips that can help you make the most out of your overall plan.

Pinterest — is it worth using it to get your book exposure? And how do you use it to your advantage? This video has some great information.

Goodreads — love it or hate it, it's a huge community of book lovers. Here's an overview of Goodreads, some etiquette tips for authors on Goodreads, and how authors can use it to market their books.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Marketing Mondays: Using Wattpad to sell books!

Happy Monday! As I've said before, there's a lot I don't know about selling books, so I'm always reaching out to my author friends for advice to share here for Book Marketing Mondays. This week, the wonderful award-winning author Shawna Reppert graciously agreed to share advice from her experiences with Wattpad. In case you haven't checked out Shawna's books, I highly recommend her books Ravensblood and Raven's Wing. Great reads.

Without further ado, here's Shawna...

Wattpad as a Marketing Tool
by Shawna Reppert

When Mary Rosenblum, my indie editor, PR advisor and all-around writing-life coach suggested using Wattpad as a promotional tool, I didn’t see the point.  Give away a book for free online?  Isn’t that what we were told not to do?  Especially as she advised not to put up only teaser chapters.  (Wattpad readers are used to getting the whole story, even if the author stingily doles it out one chapter at a time.  They will get ticked off if you put up just teaser chapters with a buy link.  And one thing you never want to do is tick off readers.)

A year later, I was scrounging around desperately looking for something, anything, to get my writing noticed by more people.  I decided to look into this Wattpad thing and see what it could do for me.

Wattpad: The basics.  For those of you not familiar, Wattpad is an online writing community where people post their writing.  All kinds of writing, from scholarly article and polished fiction to fan fiction.  It is free to join, both for writers and for readers.  Anyone can sign on for free and the work you post there, but you still hold the copyright.  (An important note:  There are Wattpad-iike sites that will try to claim copyright forever over anything you post there.  Always, always, always thoroughly read the terms and conditions for any site on which you post your work!)

My game plan:  There are authors who put up the novel they are selling elsewhere (or plan to sell elsewhere) chapter-by-chapter, on the theory that the reader will become impatient and just buy the whole book rather than wait for the installment, or buy the book so that they have an official copy for their very own with a pretty cover.  (Or maybe even because they understand that a writer who makes money is a writer with incentive to continue.  Some readers are smart that way.)  I’ve met authors that have had success with that approach, but to me it felt too risky.

But because I pursued the traditional model of publishing for a long while before becoming a hybrid indie-traditional writer, and because it usually takes longer to get a book published than it does to write it, I had more novels in my ‘trunk’ than I had resources to indie-publish.  Even Kindle costs money if you do it right, with a professional editor and a good cover.  There was one in particular I was fond of, that was written to professional standards, but had a hard time finding a marketing niche.
Brother to the Wolf is one of those good, old-fashioned fantasy adventures with noble outlaws and unscrupulous nobles.  I happen to still love those old books, and I’m sure that there are others who do as well, but it isn’t exactly the latest hot thing in the publishing world today.  The novel is in many ways an homage to the Robin Hood tales, but it is an original-world fantasy with original characters.  I wanted to shape my plot without running roughshod over actual history.  (Not that that has ever before stopped anyone writing Robin Hood!)  I borrowed the set-up of my society from England about three generations after William the Conqueror, and spent a lot of time researching the culture and weapons of that period, so it has a historical feel, but it’s not actually historical.  The magic in it is pretty minimal.  If pagan spiritual were a genre, it would be in that genre, maybe.  But since there’s no shelf in the bookstore marked Pagan Spiritual Fiction, Brother to the Wolf remains without a neat marketing category.

In short, it was the perfect novel to sacrifice on the altar of Wattpad marketing research.  I signed up for Wattpad, and loaded chapter one that very night.  It got some hits.  I loaded chapter two the next week, and got more hits.  And so on.  The readership is not at NY Times bestseller level, but it is growing exponentially. 

Has it affected sales of my other works on Amazon?  Hard to say, since it’s early days.  Though I have noticed sales ticking up, and a tell-tale sign is that (until a recent PR blitz surrounding Raven’s Wing, the second book in my Ravensblood novel) the uptick pattern seems to lead with The Sword and the Kestrel, a short story I wrote that, of the things I have available on Amazon, is the closest in theme and tone to Brother to the Wolf.

At this stage of my career, any new people who learn about Shawna Reppert, author, in any capacity, is a victory.

  • Update regularly. I started by posting every Sunday, but found out I got more hits when I posted on Saturday afternoons. My new commitment to my readers is to post every weekend, so people know when to anticipate an update. And I know that they are waiting, because every time I announce an update on Twitter and Facebook, it leads to what I call The Pounce, where the chapter will get twenty hits or more in the first half-hour. The Pounce makes me feel like I’m not shouting my writing alone in a wilderness. Which leads to. . .
  • Promote your Wattpad stories on social media. There’s a ton of stories that go up on Wattpad each day, so people are unlikely to find yours unless you post on Facebook, Twitter (remember your hashtags!), and in forums you are already active in where the members have interests that predispose them to wanting to read this particular work.
  • For example, I announce updates to Brother to the Wolf on my own Facebook and Twitter (hashtags medieval, fantasy, pagan, Wattpad) as well as on forums for fans of Mythic/mythopoeic fiction.
  • If you are posting weekly, a mid-week reminder on social media can as much as double your hits.
  • Adding a pitch line to your update notice will also increase hits. An example from a recent update: Brother to the Wolf Chapter 14 is up! Gareth slowly heals from his wounds. But old enmities are not so easily forgotten.
  • Even an amateur cover is better than no cover at all, in terms of garnering hits. (Note: This advice does not apply to anything you offer for sale anywhere!)

Good luck and happy Wattpadding!

Follow her on Twitter: @ShawnaReppert

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Fifty Shades of — oh boy!

It has been a busy, busy, buuuuusy couple of months for me, and I brilliantly decided I would add to my busy-ness by blogging about some of the things that have been making me busy. Because, you know, I can’t afford therapy and blogging is free.

Shut up.

Anyway. I have to blur the line between personal and professional here for a moment to explain one of the things making me busy, because it involves the day job. I don’t really try to hide the fact I’m a journalist by day and romance writer by night. I work for a small magazine, which means in addition to reporting, I also handle social media, shoot video, take pictures, do graphic design, and so on. Small publication staffs are full of jack-of-all-trades like that. One of the things I enjoy doing are movie reviews. Movie geek, right here (points at self). Generally, my movie reviews are geared toward families because that’s our magazine's market. It’s fun. I enjoy it.

To make a long story short, I recently got assigned to cover all things “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the movie. The person who assigned it to me was very enthusiastic about it. He was hinging it on that degrading "mommy porn" label these books got slapped with whenever. My review is supposed to be "for moms" because, you know, men couldn't possibly want to see this movie AT ALL. I was told to contact the studio for production notes, for trailers, to stalk the cast, whatever.

“Cover all the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' things. Cover them all!” — That’s the gist of it.

I did contact my "friends" at the studios, the ones who handle all the marketing and often let me see movies for free before the public gets to see them and who invite me to press junkets. Predictably, I never got a response. No doubt those folks have been inundated with requests from media for this movie since January rolled around and it started blowing up.

I was busy, so eh, I just let it slide. Moved onto other things, such as preparing for the Oscars. As you may recall, I am partially insane and attempt to see all of the Oscar nominations every year. Yep. All of them. I'll be live-tweeting the Oscars this year again from our sister newspaper's account, so I have gotta squeeze in those movies when I can. This has also contributed to my busy-ness, as has reading books for a contest I agreed to judge, and you know, other life stuff.

So back to Fifty Shades.

I won’t go into specifics, but it was also suggested that I write my review from the perspective of someone “who writes books like that.” Wouldn’t that just be fun and different?

Oh boy.

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against the Fifty Shades of books. Yes, I read them. I don’t think my books remotely fall into the same genre. Maybe I’m wrong or self-delusional. I don't know. I do know I don't write erotica. I generally don't read it either, so I can't even judge the genre based on these books. I'm smart enough to know that.

For what it’s worth, I liked the "Fifty Shades of Grey" books more than I didn’t like them. I had a tough time with the first book. Not gonna lie. Too much of it seemed almost plagiarized from “Twilight” – too many descriptions and passages almost word-for-word — and I seriously wanted to take a red pen and do some tightening on the prose. And the sex! Come on, after a point I was bored with so much sex that I just flipped past it. But as a reader, the book overall reminded me of the Harlequins I used to read in college, with the alpha male and the strong-willed heroine who turns him into a better man in the end. Say what you will, but EL James has talent at building chemistry between her hero/heroine. My friend loved the books and so I kept on reading. I read all three books and liked the next two vastly more than I liked the first for whatever reason.

I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in an abusive relationship, so I wasn’t overly sensitive to those domestic and sexual violence triggers, although I certainly can't say they're not valid. Christian Grey can be a seriously controlling bastard. Then there's the "It's pornography! You're going to hell if you read/see this" argument. And the "You're not a feminist" if you support it arguments. And "how can you support books that started as fan fiction and still call yourself a writer" argument. What can I say?  I suppose all the arguments are valid to a degree. It’s all about perspective, and my perspective is obviously different from a lot of people who read these books and outright hated them for (fill in the blank with a reason). I just didn't take the books seriously enough to see those things, I guess. I looked at them as a mostly enjoyable way to kill several hours. I also realize I just put a target on my back for saying all of that. Let me go grab my imaginary bullet-proof vest real quick.

OK, I'm back, and now that I'm protected, I'll be even more honest. I’ve been getting excited to see this movie with every trailer I sneak a peak at. Maybe it’s the movie geek in me, but I love seeing movies that are adapted from books, although I have never seen one that was better than the book, except maybe "Gone Girl," because I loathed that book but actually liked the movie. So like "Gone Girl," I think “Fifty Shades of Grey” might be the exception to that rule for me because I think a movie, by nature, will force them to tighten the story and eliminate all the cringe-worthy parts. And that’s why I’m getting excited to see it, although it will be hella awkward seeing it with my co-worker/good friend on opening night in a packed theater and then writing about it afterward.

Truth is, while I’m getting excited to see the movie, I’m also getting cold feet about writing a review for it, although I’m pretty sure I’m nailed into that at this point.

The book — and the movie, as it turns out — are very polarizing. No matter how I write my review, it will get comments. I will get emails from very angry people in my community blasting me for supporting the opposite of their viewpoint. There will be letters to the editor blasting me for writing it, period. I’m no green reporter. I’m an experienced journalist. I’m used to these things, have developed a thick skin about it, but for some reason, this one makes me nervous, guys. Because I am a romance writer AND a journalist, and ultimately, this review could affect my role as both.

So yeah, I’m nervous, but you know what? I’m not judging this movie until I see it. That’s kind of my cardinal rule about all the things. And when I sit down and write my review, you can trust it will be my honest opinion, good or bad, and it will be about the movie — not the book. It also won't be from the perspective of a romance novelist because, one, I wasn't comfortable with that and, two, neither was "the big boss" apparently. Whew!

And also, with people being beheaded, children starving on other continents, people suffering from diseases we haven't yet cured, and real violence happening every second against men, women and children somewhere, I'm not going to get too worked up over these books or this movie.

Know what I mean?

What about you? Are you planning to see the movie? Absolutely not? Tell me. I want to know! Are you a "Fifty Shades" hater or lover or eh, who cares?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Marketing Monday: Tips for making the most of Twitter and Facebook

I had a request for this topic, so today I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I’ve learned about using Twitter and Facebook for marketing on the off chance you don’t know about them. As always, this comes from my experience, so if you know better tips and tricks, please be a lovely human being and leave them in the comments. Thank you.

I'm talking specifically about advertising on Twitter and Facebook, not simply using them in general. That's a whole other topic entirely. In my opinion, advertising your book on Facebook and Twitter is probably the most inexpensive form of advertising you’ll find because both allow you to set specific parameters, including how much you spend, who sees your ad and exactly what your ad says. It is also fairly easy to set up, and I’ve seen some results from both. Then again, I have only ever used either to promote a special sale or discount. People like sales, so it's a great opportunity to test these as advertising methods.

To start, of course, you must have accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s begin with some Twitter tips.


Before you set up your Twitter ad, I’d recommend testing a tweet by simply tweeting it out. For example, here’s one I have pinned to the top of my Twitter profile because it had decent reach when I first sent it out.

How do I know it had decent reach? Because I watched my Twitter analytics. Twitter analytics is a free tool and provided by twitter and you can see how effective your tweets are by looking at them. Simply make sure you’re logged into your twitter account and go to

Some things I’ve noticed by browsing my Twitter analytics: The tweets I send out on Mondays get the most impressions. Luck? My fairy godmother? I have no idea why, but there it is. I'd see what days have the most reach on your previous tweets and schedule your ad for those days of the week. Most social media training states the most active users are on Twitter Mondays between 10 a.m.- noon ET, but this allows you to see if that's true in your case. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.

When setting up Twitter ads, make note of whether your test tweet has gotten much reach. If not, reword it and tweet a different one until you find one that seems to be effective. If you have a sale, use the hashtag #sale or #discount. A good rule of thumb on Twitter is to NEVER use more than three hashtags in one tweet though, but if you have a keyword you can hashtag, then by all means, give it a try.

Once you have a solid tweet, go to to set up your Twitter ads.

In the right corner, you’ll see Create New Campaign. Click on that button. You’ll see from the drop-down that there are various types of ads you can run. Do you want to gain more followers? Maybe, but I’d rather sell books, so I choose “Website Click or Conversions.”

You’ll be prompted to name your campaign and how long you want it to run. Then you can compose an entirely new tweet or select tweets that have already run.

I chose tweets that have already run and that I’ve seen through analytics are effective. Then you select Targeting. I chose United States and United Kingdom, but you can select or add any country you wish.

You can also add keywords to search, etc, based on any keywords that describe your book. What I personally have found effective is also targeting users of other Twitter handles — mainly celebrities with tons and tons of followers. So I select to target followers of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey and others. Why? Why include all those celebrities who have probably nothing to do with your book? I'm sure you're thinking, That’s ridiculous, Angie, are you crazy?

Yes, yes, I am, but trust me. This works. Or at least, it has for me so far. The simple explanation is that these celebrities have millions of followers — at least a few of them like to read, right?

You also will be prompted and need to set up your budget. When I run a Twitter ad, I only spend between $5 and $10 and only run it for a few days at most. A good daily budget to use seems to be $2.50. It’s entirely up to you though. On the days the ad is running, I use NovelRank to see if I’m selling any books on Amazon since that’s the link I’m directing people to, but you know, it’s NovelRank, so don’t expect accurate sales figures from NovelRank. But NovelRank can at least let you know if you’ve sold any, so I do recommend it as an estimate. I have the NovelRank app on my iPhone and check it obsessively EVERY DAY, you know, maybe once a week. There’s also a website —


Setting up Facebook ads is very similar. Underneath your profile page, you'll see a link to "Ads Manager." Click there to begin setting up a Facebook ad.

Then you want to select Create an Ad. You'll be guided through the steps, starting with the goal of your ad, which again for me is directing people to my book link on Amazon or another retailer. So I select to direct people to a specific URL and then paste in that URL in the field it gives.

Again, you will want to target the people you want to buy your books by choosing the countries you're targeting, putting in some keywords to target people who might actually buy your books. For example, in the keyword search field, I enter Kindle, romance novels, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, and pets — because each of these apply to my books, so people on Facebook who like any of these things might conceivably like my book, too.

Once you have your image selected and your budget indicated, you can start running your ad.

Speaking of images, Facebook will reject your ad if the image you associate with it has too much text on it. So while a horizontal image is ideal, you can use your book cover alone or create a small horizontal graphic that features your book cover — but without much text. Basically, just make it appealing and use a photo you own the rights to and not a picture of Henry Cavill because you want click bait. That's just wrong, and could get you sued.

Another option is dark posting on Facebook.

Mwahahaha! Sounds ominous, right? Dark posting on Facebook means publishing a post that does not appear on your page’s timeline. Instead, these posts are targeted to a select audience of your choosing.

First of all, you have to be using the browser Google Chrome for it to work. If you are, go to Ads Manager and click Power Editor in the left column.

From here, you’ll want to click Download to Power Editor at the top of the page to download the accounts you want to manage.

Strata Blue has put together a list of very detailed instructions on what to do next so I'll point you to follow their instructions to try this out.


I know. I know I've loaded you with a TON of information already, but I do want to stress the importance of Facebook insights if you're operating from a page and not a profile. Personally, I tend to neglect my page in favor of my profile, but you can schedule posts to run on a page and you can't on a profile (to my knowledge) so that's one thing in a page's favor.

You have to switch to your page to access Insights. Once there, simply click the Insights tab at the top of the page. You can see where most of your visitors are coming from, etc. What I find most important are the days and times my audience can best be reached. You know, since Facebook makes it so darn hard to reach people these days. These stats can help you schedule posts at the best times to get the best reach.

For example:

From this chart, I see most of my visitors visit my page on Monday around 2 p.m. ET. So if I really want to be smart and reach more people, that's when I would schedule an important post.

Again, I know it's lots of information, but hopefully some of it is at least helpful.

Until next time...


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