My #Marketing Ideas

I have been an independently published author now for nearly four years, and not until 2010 did I really do any kind of promoting/marketing for my novels, mostly because I had no idea where to start. Since about late 2009, there have been all sorts of assorted experts in the field all over the internet who have popped up with a book on the subject, and if you buy their book, they’ll tell you what the secret is to selling thousands, or millions even, of books. I think what works for one author doesn’t necessarily work for another, so if you’re willing to waste $2.99 or $4.99 or $6.99 for someone to make money off of your naïveté, then go right ahead, since I was one of those people who has done that more often than I’d like to admit.

When I first published in 2008, it was suggested by iUniverse (now I go through Createspace, best money I have ever saved!) that authors create a website to promote and market themselves. So, I found Geocities, created a very basic site, posted the novel cover, the description, and the link to purchase, then forgot about it. When I finally remembered I had it, Yahoo apparently had shut down Geocities, so I searched for another server. Eventually, I came across Freewebs.com, now known as Webs.com, and that’s where I now have my website hosted, and trying to build my “brand,” whatever that really means. Since then, I’ve gone from idea to idea, gimmick to gimmick trying to promote and market my novels. Some have worked, and some haven’t, but here are my top 10 ideas. Your experience may vary.

1) Websites/blogs — With a website, you should know some html, or you can plug in whatever others have built for such a need, and then you can customize it to your heart’s content. You can add videos, pictures, links, etc. The suggestion from across the vast wasteland of the internet is to do SEO (search engine optimization), build back links, trade links with others, or pay for thousands of hits so that your Google Ranking will bring people to you. Let me tell you, that’s mostly nonsense, your site will be listed in Google, Yahoo, and Bing within a matter of days, but you can submit to directories, but I’ve never actually seen a hit from one of those. Only hard work on your part in promoting yourself will people begin searching your name, names of your novels, or similar sounding names before you notice hits to your site. As for a blog, if you want to keep it updated every day, you can submit it to RSS feed sites and link up with others who have sites. With some blogs, like Blogger, your feed will be seen on the side panel of the blog (if they’re on Blogger) that you’ve linked to. A website/blog is good for having a place for readers to come to find out what you’re up to, or if you have a new novel on the market. Plus, if you’re in the market for a job, it’s something potential employers will see, showing them that you have some skills and creativity (or, so I’ve been told).

2) Social Networking — What did we do before Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and all of those other social sites? To be honest, I don’t remember! ha ha. Anyway, I do know that if you join every forum involving writing, e-books, and marketing, you’ll never write, you’ll just be talking about writing, and getting to know other indie authors who are also talking about writing. Facebook is useful for authors in that they give us the ability to have a page for ourselves and our work. Thousands, and maybe even millions, of users can eventually come across your page, they can like it, and even share it with anyone in their social circle. Twitter used to be useful in my opinion, but there are way too many voices out there now, and one can get lost in the “noise.” My best advice for social networking is to do it in moderation, otherwise, you’ll never get that next book written.

3) Press releases — I use free sites like Prlog.org, which is good for visibility, but I really don’t know if it results in sales. Doesn’t hurt to try though, and it’s free. If you want to pay for high visibility, try PRWEB, but it’s really expensive if you’re on a tight budget.

4) Libraries — I used to work in a library, so I know something about this. A lot of indie books go almost directly to the Friends of the Library Bookstore, even though the Acquisitions Librarian “promised” that your books will get on the shelf, eventually. Although, it could’ve been just the one I worked with, because he wasn’t too particularly thrilled with putting my novels on the shelf. My suggestion is to get to know the library staff, usually the poor souls stuck at the Circulation Desk. Sometimes they get to sort through all the donations, so if you let them know that you really, really want your book in the library, they will mark your book for the acquisitions librarian, who will set it up for circulation. Be patient, books arrive at the library from B&T and Ingram every day, so it may take months for your book to show up in the catalog.

5) Book trailer — You can do it yourself by downloading Microsoft’s Live Movie Maker for free. It’s fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it. Of course, if you want something like the “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” trailer, then you’ll have to spend a lot of money for someone else to do it or have taken a video course in college yourself. Once you’re done with it, upload it to Youtube and a few other video sites. Very useful in the fact that the reader may get your book cover and the idea impressed into their heads, and then might eventually buy a copy of your novel.

6) Guerilla Marketing — Basically, this is putting bookmarks or business cards in books at stores like Walmart, B&N, and maybe Half Price Books (if you have one in your area), or even at the library. I have also put bookmarks in those envelopes that have the paid postage from the credit card companies and other spam mailers, and sent it back to them. You can do this for everything you mail out.

7) Bloggers — There are bloggers who will post your novel, review it, help with a blog tour, or give you an interview that will be posted on their site. Some require you to pay for the exposure, and some are free. Even if you get no returns on it as far as sales, it’ll be on Google and other search engines for as long as that post is available. So when someone does a search, that’s another impression you get, and it might even get you some sales out of it.

8 ) Paperback book giveaways — When you first finish your book, have it uploaded, and then available on Createspace, you can then contact some bloggers, or go to Goodreads and post your book giveaway. With bloggers, they can target specific readers who actually want to read your novel. I’ve received a couple of great reviews that way. With Goodreads, people will sign up for the giveaway just because it’s a freebie, not really caring about the genre. I had one person return a book because they thought it was something else, and others who reviewed, who didn’t like that genre, and thought Goodreads required a review. Remember to be choosy about doing paperback giveaways if you want specific readers that are looking for a specific genre.

9) Free e-books — One way to get your novels seen is to give away free copies of your e-books, usually with a coupon from Smashwords. If you want it free on Amazon, set the novel free on Smashwords, distribute it to B&N even if you’re using their publishing platform, and then wait for Amazon to price match. You’ll get a few thousand downloads for a week or two, copies into hands of people who normally wouldn’t have known about you and your work, and possibly some good reviews out of it. You may also get hit and run reviews that aren’t exactly glowing reviews of your work, mostly on Amazon. These are usually 1 star, they question your writing skills, and sometimes even your IQ. The advice to authors is never to respond, be above it all, and have a thick skin. There are instances of authors responding to their critics, and it developed into a clusterfark. Never ever a good thing.

10) Ads — Unless you have a lot of disposable income, creating ads on Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and other sites is a complete waste of your time and money. But, if you get a free coupon for one of those sites, then knock yourself out. I have also advertised on Craigslist and other classifieds all over the States from time to time, and I get the occasional hit to my website from those sites, but I don’t know if they actually result in sales. Mostly, it’s about being visible, and that’s not really a bad thing.

Finally, marketing your novels comes down to hard work, time, and sometimes spending money to make money. There are times you may want to give up, but being persistent will get you and your novels seen, and you’ll see success. These ideas are only some that indie authors may or may not try to promote their books, and it’s really an experience may vary kind of thing.

Interview on 1st Author Interviews

Premium Interview with Cliff Ball Author of ‘The Usurper’

 

Brief summary:
Gary Jackson is raised to hate. Hate the United States, and everything it has ever stood for. His mission is to destroy the United States from within, allying himself with America’s enemies to accomplish the deed. He stops at nothing, and a small group of Americans decide they need to stop him. Will they succeed or will the US be relegated to the dustbin of history?

Excerpt:
“You know who is one of your enemies, Gary?” asked al Hussein.
“No, who?” the boy asked with a bewildered look on his face.
“One of your enemies is your mother. She doesn’t agree with the government controlling peoples’ lives, and she thinks terrorism to control the people is bad. What do you think we should do with her, Gary?” asked Putin.
“My mother is an enemy? But, she could be on our side,” Gary innocently protested.
“We’ve talked about this before, Gary, and you know what you must do,”
“But… but…. I don’t want to do this.”
“Yes, I know, but she will destroy all that we are working for, and all of your future hopes and dreams. Again, I ask you, what should we do to people like her?”
Gary sighed, gulped a couple of times, and said, “The enemy has to die as an example to others not to think for themselves to do what they want. If my mother is an enemy, she must die,”
“Correct response. We need to go visit your mother to see that she is no longer a threat. Let’s go, Gary.” ordered Putin.
A few minutes later, the trio arrived at the house Gary and his mother lived in. They went inside, where Ann was in the kitchen cooking dinner, she heard them come in, went to meet them, saw her son, and went to hug him, but, Gary didn’t hug her back, so she asked, “What’s wrong?”
“You are the enemy, you must be destroyed.” he said as coldly as possible.
Putin handed Gary a Russian made Tokarev TT-33 service pistol, and Gary aimed it at Ann, who was shocked, but knew that this day would come eventually, and thought about how her life had come to this in the brief moments she had left. Gary, who had no expression on his face, but did have hate in his eyes, aimed, and fired point blank at her forehead; giving his mother no time to react. Blood and brain matter spattered everywhere. Ann died instantly, her body falling to the floor with a thud. Gary handed the gun back to Putin, left the room, did his best to suppress any impulse he had to cry, and he was determined to leave this in his past, hopefully to never be dwelled on again.

THE INTERVIEW:
Why did you write this book?
I wanted to write a political thriller for a few years, and I’m into conspiracy theories, so I decided that around 2008 I would write a novel based on some of the conspiracy theories surrounding some of our politicians from about the mid-1960’s onwards. It includes such nutty conspiracies as truthers, birthers, and the idea that one all powerful man controls everything behind the scenes. I thought it would be interesting to see where the main character would go if given unlimited power to do what he wanted to the States.
How did you come up with the title?
I figured the main character pretty much usurps the idea of the American Constitutional Republic by becoming a petty dictator, so the title seemed to make sense.
How did you choose your genre?
Well, genre of Thriller makes sense for this particular novel.
What inspired you to be a writer?
When I was in elementary school, my parents bought me the whole Little House on the Prairie set (I guess because we watched the TV series), and I thought it was cool that Laura was a writer. So, when I was 10, I began writing.
Are you writing another book?
Yes, I am. It’s an alternate history, political thriller, science fiction novel. Basically, the US continues with the moon landings, and announces they’re going to Mars by the end of 1989. The Soviets decide to up the ante by building an interstellar starship of their own, but things go awry once they leave the solar system. In the meantime, terrorism against the US begins earlier than in our own timeline. Al Qaeda suicide bombs the State of the Union in early 80’s, and the new President sends an elite team of Green Berets to take out Osama bin Laden. That’s about as far as I’ve written, but I plan on having the US & Russians team up to launch a starship out of the solar system, where they find an anomaly, and find the long lost Soviet ship on a planet not previously known to humans. Unfortunately, the planet has some very dark secrets….. (vampires? zombies? ghosts? demons? dragons? I haven’t decided yet! lol)
Question usually asked from readers: Why should I read this? This sounds like what we’re going through now.
My answer: Sure there are similarities, but everyone only thinks they know this story. Sometimes, a book you normally wouldn’t read or are skeptical of, usually turns into something you enjoy a lot. Some of my reviews have reflected that. All I ask is that readers give it a chance.

Book Title: The Usurper
Publisher: CreateSpace
Author: Cliff Ball
Genre: Thriller
Amazon [Paperback]: The Usurper
Kindle: The Usurper
Smashwords: The Usurper
Author’s Website: http://cliffball.webs.com/
Author’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/cliff_ball

My interview on Two Ends of the Pen

Here is the interview Deb Martin of Two Ends of the Pen did with me:

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
My very first novel that I actually finished writing was the novella Out of Time, a time travel adventure story. I wrote it off and on for about 10 years, started from a couple pages long to where it’s at now, about 30k words.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon? No. Back in the late 90’s when I was seriously thinking about publishing any of my writing, I decided I’d rather publish my own stuff. I looked into vanity press, but, that was way too expensive at the time, and I didn’t know enough about self-publishing like I do now with Createspace. In 2008, when I had money, I published Out of Time first through iUniverse with the basic package they had. I uploaded it to Kindle myself, mostly just to see what would happen, since at the time, I thought e-books might be a fad. Little did I know!

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
I prefer having control over my destiny, as it were. I figured self-publishing was faster, and preferable to receiving rejection letters six months later, with the generic reasons why they wouldn’t publish. I just happen to like doing everything myself, at least I can see tangible results.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books? Probably not. Besides, I think traditional media is going the way of the dinosaurs.

Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?

My first two novels I published through iUniverse and Virtualbookworm, so I used what they gave me. Once I went to Createspace, I created my own covers. I did have help from another author who tweaked them for me though.

How did you feel when you got your first sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
My very first sale was from a short story I wrote in high school back in the early 90’s that won in a contest that I wrote through Creative Writing class. I was thrilled with that, until my mom decided to use the money to create a frame for the check stub, and a little blurb about it that she mentioned to our newspaper. Anyway, in the here and now, I’m pleased with my sales so far, they could be more, but I just have to keep working at being seen.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I’m on places like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Goodreads, Shelfari, Linkedin, I have a blog and a website, forums such as Kindleboards, Nookboards, Mobilereads, eBookgab, and trying to promote on the Amazon message boards.
Author website: http://cliffball.webs.com
Author blog: https://cliffballauthor.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cliff_ball
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cliff.ball.author

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale? Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Sony, Createspace, Diesel eBooks, Kobo, Borders for my e-books.

What’s next for you?

I’m actually trying to bring up my GPA by getting a 2nd BA so I can get an MA in Creative Writing from the University of North Texas, at least that’s the plan. I’m also trying to write an alternate history novel where the US establishes a moon base in 1979 when a different President is elected in 1976, and then he has the US set a goal of a Mars Base by 1989. The Russians see this, so they decide to create an interstellar starship so they can one-up the Americans. All sorts of real life events get in the way, like the Revolution in Iran, but that gets squashed by US Special Forces rescuing the hostages. The President in 1981 gets assassinated by those who take revenge for the failed Revolution. Al Qaeda comes along later, and blows up a cargo ship to the moon, tries to blow up the sealed habitat on Mars, and then blows up the space station in Earth orbit in the 2000’s, and so the US President orders Osama bin Laden to be taken out, and that’s the last of Al Qaeda. Eventually, US and Russia join forces to explore the galaxy, where they find the long lost Russian interstellar starship.

Today’s Sponsor on The Frugal eReader

I am today’s sponsor on The Frugal eReader

Ever wonder what would happen if our worst fears were realized and we elected someone who was willing to destroy the USA, even if he was destroyed himself? The Usurper is that novel. It is a fictional account of what would happen if the Soviet Union and KGB were given the chance to take down the United States from within. They use the American political system, education system, terrorism, and commit environmental disasters to achieve these goals.

The Soviet Union and the KGB refuse to let the purging of communists in the United States as awhole by Senator Joe McCarthy, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, deter them. Soviet Premier Khrushchev authorizes the KGB to embark on an ambitious, decades long plan to destroy the United States from within through the corruption of American politicians, the American education system, terrorism, and environmental disasters. Gary Jackson, the main character, is the fulfillment of the KGB plan to destroy the United States from within. They raise him from birth to hate everything about the United States, indoctrinate him, and introduce him to terrorists across the world, where the KGB dictates all terrorist attacks. When Gary is a teenager, he is sent to the United States to assimilate and begin his mission. Nothing will deter his goals of completely and utterly destroying the United States.

When the Soviet Union dissolves, he is given a choice, and he decides to continue with the mission. A terrorist organization ends up filling in the gap left by the absent KGB, and they, together with Gary, conspire to destroy everyone in the United States who doesn’t agree with them

Accolade:
“A cold-blooded, Clancy-esque political thriller; The Usurper is sure to entertain.” ~Nurture Your Books

Reviews:
The Usurper currently has a customer review rating on Amazon of 4 stars. Read them here.
The Usurper currently has a customer review rating on Smashwords of 4.5 stars. Read them here.

An Excerpt from Chapter Four:
“Do you know who else is enemy of the people?” asked Putin.
“The enemy is anyone who questions the word of the government. They must be destroyed; nobody can be spared if they disagree,” answered Gary.
“You know who is one of your enemies, Gary?” asked al Hussein.
“No, who?”
“One of your enemies is your mother. She doesn’t agree with the government controlling peoples’ lives, and she thinks terrorism to control the people is bad. What do you think we should do with her, Gary?” asked Putin.
“My mother is an enemy? But, she could be on our side,” Gary innocently remarked.
“We’ve talked about this before, Gary, and you know what you must do,”
“But… but…. I don’t want to do this,”
“Yes, I know, but she will destroy all that we are working for, and all of your future hopes and dreams. Again, I ask you, what should we do to people like her?”
Gary sighed, gulped a couple of times, and said, “The enemy has to die as an example to others not to think for themselves and do what they want. If my mother is an enemy, she must die,”
“Correct response. We need to go visit your mother to see that she is no longer a threat. Let’s go, Gary.” ordered Putin.
A few minutes later, the trio arrived at the house Gary and his mother lived in. They went inside, where Ann was in the kitchen cooking dinner, she heard them come in, went to meet them, saw her son, and went to hug him, but, Gary didn’t hug her back, so she asked, “What’s wrong?”
“You are the enemy, you must be destroyed.”

Purchase The Usurper at:
Amazon for $2.99
Smashwords for $2.99

Learn more about Cliff through his websites:
Author Website
Author Blog
Amazon Author Page
Author facebook Page
Twitter Page

Where to find The Usurper

Ok, as of right now(July 30), here is the list of stores online that The Usurper can be bought:

The Usurper
Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1453702725
ISBN-13: 978-1453702727

The Paperback
CreateSpace
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Powells
and on Lulu with a separate ISBN

E-book Version
Kindle
Smashwords
Sony Reader
Kobo for your mobile phone
Scribd
Lebrary
Myebook
Available at the Apple iBookstore, search for ISBN 978-1-4524-2920-5

If you’re on Goodreads, Shelfari, FiledBy, Facebook, or Myspace, Twitter, then click on the links to find me or my books

Digital Writing Services

I am going into business for myself to edit and proofread books and novels for new and Independent authors, for a reasonable fee. I created a website called Digital Writing Services to advertise my services. The website is not entirely functional yet in regards to Paypal, so any purchase you may want to do now will not work. I enjoy proofreading and editing, and I thought that I should finally do something I’m passionate about, instead of trying to find another office job that I’ll probably end up hating anyway, so here is my attempt at doing something I’m passionate about. I will eventually offer affordable book reviews when this is fully up and running smoothly, so please look for that in the future.

Now, I won’t begin doing business until May 17, because I’m graduating with a BA in English on the 15th from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls and I wish to concentrate fully on finals for the next week and a half. I’m also offering an author showcase for authors to showcase their works, along with various links to the stores their products can be bought from, and where they, as authors, are located as far as myspace or facebook is concerned. This is for a low yearly price. I’m also offering proofreading/editing services for college essay and research papers for a low price. Another feature is converting an authors’ word document into PDF for a small fee. Please check out the website if you’re interested in finding out more. The website is about 95% finished, but, all the important areas are all there, and you should have no problems navigating the website.

Marketing and all that Jazz

Since having my novella published, I’ve discovered just how hard it is to get noticed by readers. There are so many science fiction authors out there and just authors in general that the market is probably saturated with un-read books. I’ve done the whole online marketing thing, since that is where everybody seems to be these days. I have a profile on myspace, created an ad on facebook to get people here, and I’ve created a profile on every site that I can find that has readers on it, like goodreads.com or librarything.com, places like that. I’m trying to up my presence on Amazon.com where my novella is being sold, since Barnes and Noble doesn’t really have any kind of features that Amazon has. 

I’ve tried google adwords for marketing myself and my novel, but I actually found that all you’re doing is wasting money and not making any, so I stopped that particular campaign and tried doing a facebook campaign. I’ve had more people visit my site in the last two weeks than I had in the previous month. I decided to target everyone on facebook, not just a particular reader of a particular genre, I’ve had quite a few people click on one of the links for my novella.  I really don’t like the idea of having to spend money to make money, but that’s the culture we live in, what are you going to do.

I created a forums page, like other author websites, so people can discuss what they think I’m doing wrong with my novella or what they liked about it. I even have a thread for a Q&A with me, along with favorite movie and book threads.  So, if you’ve read my novella, please don’t hesitate to post there, or just post for the heck of it.

You can find some of my other short stories, poetry, and articles here: http://www.helium.com/users/360400