BOOKTASTIK: Helping Authors Sell Books by Dionne Lister
Hi, Lisette, thanks so much for having me as a guest today. I’m excited to be here representing a fun new site that connects readers with books — Booktastik.
Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of new ebooks being published each year? So if you’re an author, it’s obviously becoming harder and harder to get your book to stand out from the crowd. As a self-published author, I know the difficulty in getting a book noticed — if no one knows your book exists, they’re not going to buy it.
In my desperate scramble to sell books, I’m always looking for new ways for my books to be seen. I’ve tried a few different avenues; including guest blog posts, interviews, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and paid advertising. Paid advertising has given me the largest sales numbers, but there aren’t many sites that actually work. And if you Google “advertising for authors” there’s not much out there to point you in the right direction.
Call me crazy, but I’ll share with you the site that has worked for me, the site I consider Booktastik’s largest competitor: Bookbub. If you’ve been around the traps as an author, you probably know someone who’s used them — and they work. But how does it work? Well, readers sign up for free to receive a daily email for books on sale in genres they choose. When an author pays to advertise with them, your book goes in a once-only email and appears on their website. That’s it. Simple.
The problem is that they are pricey — a few months ago I advertised my Fantasy book, which was on sale for $1.99. That cost me $270, and since then the cost has risen to $330 — figures that not many self-published authors can afford (and fantasy is a cheaper genre than, say, mystery or romance), especially if you’re just starting out. To add to that, the last three times I’ve applied, I’ve missed out, and it’s also been impossible for most of my friends to get approved because Bookbub is always booked out.
How annoying! I’d finally found something that worked, but now that avenue seemed to be closed too. Trying not to get depressed at times like that is hard, so I was having a rant to another author friend about my frustrations (ranting to other author friends who understand is a great way to keep your sanity). During that conversation I said something that set me on the course towards Booktastik: “It’s just not fair. If you want anything done, you have to do it yourself. I’m going start my own company so us indie authors have somewhere to advertise!” And so the journey to creating Booktastik began.
I knew that if I was going to do this, I had to do it better and offer more than what was currently out there. I contacted a web designing friend of mine and told her what I wanted — a friendly, welcoming site that didn’t just deliver ebook deals, but had other relevant stuff like vetted book reviews and a blog. I pictured Booktastik becoming a community, rather than solely a middleman. I also knew that authors didn’t just need a place to advertise a book that was on sale or free, but we often wanted to get the word out about our new release or competitions and giveaways, so I added those categories, which have been very popular with the subscribers.
I know no one really wants to know the nitty-gritty of what it takes, but we spent months designing the site and getting it functional (with a few nightmares along the way), although if it was easy, I guess everyone would do it. We’re spending money on advertising to get subscribers who authors can’t normally reach — readers who are outside the social media sphere of Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, and I’m happy to say that after just one month we are getting over 500 visits a day (and growing), and we’re already selling books for our advertising authors.
And that’s our story so far. We’ve got exciting plans for stage two of Booktastik, but that will have to wait a while. But right now, I’d like to extend an invitation to you all to come and check out www.booktastik.com. There’s lots to see and read, and I hope you love our little animal icons (there’s one for each genre) as much as I do. See you there!
An avid reader of many genres, including fantasy, for as long as she can remember, Dionne also loves writing and has attempted to emulate such greats as David Eddings and Raymond Feist – with … interesting results. Dionne has studied creative writing at Southern Cross University, works as an editor, runs Booktastik, and counts cats and panthers as her favourite animals and dragons as her favourite flying creature (notice ‘flying’ not ‘mythical’). Dionne writes young adult fantasy, women’s fiction and thriller/suspense. In 2013 iTunes Australia named her one of ‘ten emerging fantasy authors you must read.’ You can find out more about Dionne and her work at www.dionnelisterwriter.com.
Who would you turn to if your love life, or life in general was a mess? Jemma’s not sure, but she’s lucky that Doris is looking out for her. Who’s Doris? Doris is Jemma’s vagina, and she’s determined to help Jemma put her life on track, but is the job too much for one vagina to handle?
Meet Doris, Jemma and their friends in this hilarious romance/chick lit. Here’s what some readers had to say:
A delightful, funny, and heart-warming read!
…a charming book, fast-paced and funny, with a very brave concept.
I’m extremely honored to have author and publicist Jaidis Shaw to present the first guest blog at Lisette’s Writers’ Chateau. Jaidis is not only multi-talented at all that she does, but she is one of the nicest, most professional, and most competent professionals that I have dealt with in the writing world.
You can read Jaidis’ complete bio at the end of her blog and enter to win a one-week book tour from Jaidis, which can be claimed any time from February to July, 2013. And now:
PROMOTIONAL TIPS FOR AUTHORS: Reaching Out to Readers,
by Jaidis Shaw
You’ve poured sweat, grumbled in frustration, shed the tears, and ended with one heck of an awesome happy dance. I am, of course, talking about the moments leading up to seeing your hard work turned into a novel that is now published and available for the world to see. For debut authors, that one moment when you see your book cover on Amazon is forever seared into your brain. You are able to float on your euphoric high for days, sometimes even weeks. All of your friends and family have shown their support by purchasing a copy of your book. Then the inevitable happens. Your sales start declining, you haven’t seen a new review in days (no matter how often you refresh the page), your breathing becomes labored, and you’re positive that your heart is showing signs of cardiac arrest. A wave of self-doubt crashes over you and all of the positive comments you’ve received so far are overshadowed by the looming question: Why isn’t my book selling?
If you’re an author and are still trying to navigate the depths of the self-publishing world, you may be struggling with how to promote your book. Where do I start? Do I have to have an agent? Should I have tried finding a publisher to pick up my novel rather than self-publish? It is only natural to doubt our decisions, especially when we are feeling lost and confused. If you did go the self-publishing route, or even if you just want to do your part to promote your work, I’m here to tell you that promoting your book isn’t as daunting as it may appear. Maybe all you need is a little nudge in the right direction.
Most of the tips today say that the ultimate goal for authors is to sell books. Well I do agree that is a good goal to have, I disagree with it being the “ultimate” goal. The reason being is that I believe the most important goal for authors is to have people reading their books. After all, if nobody is reading your book, it isn’t going to keep selling. So what is a good place to start? For the sake of time, let us assume that you have already started making your mark on social media platforms by doing things like creating a Facebook Fan Page, joining Twitter, and having a blog or website. So, before the launch and release parties, before the book tours, it is important to reach out to bloggers and book reviewers. I’ve put together a list of tips and topics that I believe are important to remember while reaching out to potential reviewers … and just remember … you want them to be “Reading” your book.
Reviewers: If you are just now stepping into the book world, you may not be aware of how numerous book reviewers are these days. But with a simple search on sites like Goodreads, BookBlogs, or even Google, you will have a list of reviewers at your fingertips. If you happen to know a member of the reviewer community, another option is to reach out to them. Nine times out of ten, they will know of other bloggers that are open to receiving review requests. Several lists have been compiled of book blogs that serve as a wonderful starting point for gathering potential reviewers.
Email: It is important to have an email that is set up properly. This should probably go without saying but it is one of the main issues that I see repeatedly. I feature between three to five authors a week on my blog and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when I’m trying to find the author’s materials and have a hard time locating them because their email starts with something random like Bestselling_Author_1 or CrazyWriter4Books. Not only does having an email like that make more work for the blogger/reviewer but is less likely to be remembered. It is best to pick something straightforward and easy to memorize; more specifically your name. For example, my email is JaidisShaw@yahoo.com. Anyone who is looking to email me, feature me, etc simply has to begin typing my name and there it is.
Another issue I see authors guilty of is loading their email signatures down with tons of links and images. It is best to keep all graphics out of your signature. The main reason I think this is important is because the graphics tend to show up as attachments; I know that most times they do for me in Yahoo. When I am searching through for an interview for example, I am looking for the paperclip icon that indicates that email has an attachment and it wastes time having to go through the ones that only have graphics in the signature. Simply having your name, email, blog/website URL, and link to your Amazon Author Page is more than sufficient.
Ask: If you are still a little hesitant on emailing a potential reviewer, or just want to test the waters first, simply ask if anyone would like to provide an honest review of your book. Send out a tweet, post a status update on Facebook, or even write a blog post about it. It really is as easy as saying “Would anyone be interested in receiving a free eBook copy of my book in exchange for an honest review?” You will almost always have a few takers and people that will share your post to help spread the word.
Details: You may be wondering what details to include in your initial email to reviewers. There are two parts to this one. The first part is to attach a media kit. These are a simple way to organize and keep track of all your important details. You can use a template for these so once you have the information gathered; all you have to do is attach it to your email request. Some details that should always appear in your media kit are the following: author photo and bio, book cover and synopsis, a short PG-13 excerpt (300 – 500 words), and links to where you and the book can be found (Amazon Author Page, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads).
The second part is what to include in the body of the email. After your personal opening and initial request, it is nice to provide them with the book’s details including synopsis, genre, total word count, publication date, publisher, giveaway details (discussed later) and any content warnings or age restrictions that the book may contain. You do not need to include your author bio and links (unless you want to) since they appear in the media kit. Your email should focus on the book and not you as an author because the reviewer isn’t judging you as a person, but your book.
Do not include the book you want reviewed! You may think that this helps the process move along faster when in actuality it halts the process and results in you sending out books that will likely never be read. Most unsolicited books may be downloaded for future use but if they didn’t agree to review it, you’ll be lucky to hear back from them. In fact, most blogs have a policy on unsolicited books that are received, a subject I’ll be covering in the next tip.
Instructions: For the love of books, please follow the instructions for each individual blogger! Each reviewer has their own way of doing things: specific genres they like, what information they include in their reviews/posts, formats accepted for review, etc. With so many requests being received, they will almost always give priority to those who follow the instructions and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity because you didn’t take time to find out what they want/like.
No Bulk Requests: I know that it may be tedious to email reviewers individually but it is a necessity. If you want a reviewer to take time out of their schedule to give your book an honest review, the least you can do it take an extra minute to personalize an email to them. Don’t open your email with a simple “Hey,” “Dear To Whom It May Concern,” or with the blog’s title. Show the blogger some courtesy and that you are reaching out to them as an individual. Don’t know their name? Simply visit the blog in question and look on the “About” page. Most have a name that they go by and if they do, use that. If absolutely no name can be found, then you may have to address them by their blog title (but only as a last resort).
Giveaways: Everyone loves a great giveaway! Featured author posts or reviews posted on blogs almost always receive more traffic when there is a giveaway involved. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant: a copy of your book, swag, or electronic Amazon Gift Card for example. Simply let the reviewer/blogger know in your initial request that you are willing to offer a giveaway to their readers if they’d like. Other than bringing in more traffic, another great thing giveaways help with is bringing you new followers. Most of the time entries for the giveaway will be tasks like following you on Twitter or liking you on Facebook. If you’re offering a copy of your book, it will potentially translate into another review, which is always a good thing – whether it is good or bad.
So there you have it, my “Reading” tips to promoting your book. I hope they will help eliminate some of the confusion when it comes to getting your book into the hands of readers. I am currently in the process of making a series of Vlogs that will expand on the topics above and give some insight to other aspects of marketing your book. You may find yourself wondering why I am willing to share tips when I offer my promotional services through Juniper Grove Book Solutions. The answer is simple. I believe that all authors should have a basic idea of what to do to help them if they want to take matters into their own hands. Everyone doesn’t have the resources to hire help to have the work done for them. Or maybe you just don’t want to trust your novel in the hands of someone other than yourself. Whatever the case may be, you shouldn’t feel like there are no options available for you because with enough work and dedication, you can get your book out there to be enjoyed by readers.
If you have any questions, I am always available and happy to help so please feel free to send a note my way.
Jaidis Shaw currently resides in a small town located in South Carolina with her husband and a beautiful daughter. With a passion for reading, Jaidis can always be found surrounded by books and dreaming of new stories. She enjoys challenging herself by writing in different genres and currently has several projects in the works.
When not reading or writing, Jaidis maintains her blog Juniper Grove and helps promote her fellow authors. In addition to her free promotion services, she uses her experience in publicity to offer freelance author services through Juniper Grove Book Solutions.
Jaidis released her debut novel Destiny Awaits in April 2011. In addition to her novel, she currently has two short stories published with Wicked East Press. You can read her latest story ‘Blind Justice’ in the Wicked Bag of Suspense Tales anthology – now available on Kindle!
TO WIN A ONE-WEEK BOOK TOUR FROM JAIDIS (to be claimed any time from February to July 2013), please leave a comment below. If you would just like to leave a comment (always appreciated) and don’t want to enter to win, just put #notentering at the end of your post! GOOD LUCK TO ALL! A winner will be selected on January 1, 2013.