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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How Do I Sell My Book? 6 Tips for New Authors

by Anne R. Allen


Ruth and I get lots of email from fledgling authors, both indie and trad-pubbed. The majority ask pretty much the same question:

"I've got great reviews, I'm on social media, and I send out a newsletter—just like [my publisher/agent/a blog guru/this book I read] told me to: why isn't my book selling? It's been out for six months!!!"

In other words, everybody wants us to tell them how to achieve sure-fire publishing success.

But we won't.

That's not because we're meanies. It's because we are fresh out of magic spells. And our wands have been recalled to Hogwarts.

Yes, Ruth has had a number of books on the NYT bestseller list and I've been an Amazon bestseller.

But we couldn't tell you exactly how a brand new author can climb up the charts right now. What we did worked for our books at the time. But times change. What worked even three months ago may not work now. Each new book, each new Amazon program change, and each new search engine algorithm change requires a different strategy.

Here's the thing: there IS no sure-fire formula. There never was. Traditional publishers don't have one and neither do indies.

Anybody who tells you otherwise is lying.  Marketers only know what worked for certain books at a certain time.

I know you've seen dozens of books on Amazon that claim, "I became an instant Kindle Millionaire and So Can YOU!!"

But most of those books offer "formulas" based on old information. Some writers who jumped on the self-publishing bandwagon at exactly the right moment did zoom to the top and made a ton of money. Maybe they knew some handy-dandy tricks for gaming Amazon at that moment or maybe they just had the right book at the right time.

But if they're still selling big, they're probably using a whole new set of tricks or they got themselves a loyal fan base and kept it through a lot of hard work, prolific output, and books with mass appeal.

This year's Amazon is a whole different playing field from what we had even a year ago, and there are other playing fields to consider. As I wrote in January, the Kindle Unlimited program has changed everything.

But "different" doesn't mean "bad."

There's still money to be made as a self-publisher or if you publish with a small press. Success may be harder for indies to achieve now than 18 months ago, and you may have to think outside the Amazon box, but it’s still possible—and plenty of successful authors are doing it.

You do have to think smarter, have more patience, and get creative in your marketing. You shouldn't expect a few tweets, some glowing reviews from the ladies in your Mom's book club and a fancy website to rocket every new writer to stardom. And here are some other things that definitely don't work. 

So what do we tell people who write to us with the age-old question, "how can I sell my book?"

First, authors should be aware of an important distinction I don't see mentioned often enough:

Nonfiction and Narrative (fiction and memoir) have different audiences and you can't sell them the same way. 


A lot of the people who are telling you "there's gold in them thar ebooks" are talking about short, informational ebooks, not novels.

Marketing for nonfiction needs different emphasis. The most important thing to do as a nonfiction author is to establish yourself as an expert. A blog is essential. You can also get a lot of attention through instructional YouTube videos and podcasts as well as personal appearances.

The following tips are mostly for newbie novelists and memoirists. 


But some can be applied to nonfiction authors as well.

These are a whole lot more likely to get your career going than Tweeting 24/7, paying to boost Facebook posts, buying followers and reviews, spamming online author groups, or any of the other gimmicky things way too many authors are doing.

1) Write another book.


I know, I know. You're tired of hearing that.

You've been stalled on that WIP ever since you launched your first book.

All your energy is going into writing those blogposts and Tweeting your book every half hour and sharing cat videos on Facebook and cooking food to photograph for Pinterest and Instagram and sending out newsletters and of course, endlessly begging for reviews…so there's no time to be creative any more.

Here's the thing: most of the stuff people tell you about online marketing just wastes time if you only have one book. What you want to do is build a brand. The way you do that is produce more product.

Remember the classic Saturday Night Live sketch about the mall store that sold nothing but scotch tape? Don't be that store.

Writing your second and third books should take priority over platform building. In fact, I suggest you don't try to publish your first book until you have another in the hopper—that goes whether you're querying agents and publishers or self-publishing.

Nonfiction authors: Your books may take a long time to research, so it can be tough to come out with more than one a year. But you still should be working on #2 as you market #1. You might consider putting some of the material you're working on for #2 on your blog if you're planning to self-publish. For great info on how to blog your nonfiction book, check out Nina Amir's blog  How to Blog Your Book.

NF authors can also put some of your new material into speaking engagements, podcasts and videos.

2) Guest blog


Visiting a blog that addresses your core readership is something that can help sales even if you only have a single title. This is especially true for a memoir or personal journey story.

High profile writing blogs like this one are all well and good, but you'll do much better targeting smaller blogs that address your core audience.

If you've written a cancer survival story or a war memoir or a "wo/man vs. nature" story, Google your subject matter and visit as many blogs as you can find that deal with cancer support or Veterans issues or wilderness travel or whatever. Comment on those blogs. Get to know the bloggers. Then ask if you can be a guest.

Blog tours still work for some authors, so you might consider paying for a professional blog tour for your first book launch. But be aware that reviews that come from paid blog tours can't be posted on Amazon, and the bloggers don't get paid even though the tour organizer does. This means you might not get as much enthusiasm as you think you've paid for. (I've also heard of host bloggers asking for reviews or other quid pro quo reciprocation: stay away from any blogger who makes that kind of demand.)

If you're already here in the blogosphere, you may be able to organize your own blog tour simply by networking with your friends. Want to meet other writer-bloggers who might want to host you? Join the Insecure Writers Support Group, a fantastic blog group started by bestselling SciFi author Alex J. Cavanaugh. 

Nonfiction writers: Guest blogging can be one of your most effective marketing tools, so you can get a lot of milage from networking and visiting other blogs.

3) Get some short work published (and enter contests.) 


Getting your work in a vetted journal or winning a contest gives you a stamp of approval. It shows publishers, agents, and/or readers that somebody besides you and your mom think you can write. It can also make money, as I wrote in my article for Writer's Digest, 9 Ways Writing Short Fiction Can Pay off For Authors.

Some literary magazines take novel excerpts. If you've self-published your book, you can place bits of your book that work as stand-alones and mention they're part of a larger work. (Don't try to do this if you're querying, though, because it may violate a potential contract.)

Winning contests and getting short pieces published can also boost your self-esteem (and sometimes fill your wallet.) This is why I always include "opportunity alerts" at the bottom of each blogpost. These can be stepping stones to a successful career.

And two weeks ago, the wonderful Jodie Renner gave a step-by-step instruction on how to write a prize-worth short story.

If you skip the short story step, you may find it a lot harder to get your work discovered.

Nonfiction writers: Nothing establishes you as an expert better than getting your work published in a major journal in your field. Don't worry about how much it pays or the circulation numbers as much as the prestige involved and how closely it targets your audience.

4) Run a sale or countdown (if you're in KDP Select) and advertise the sale in bargain ebook newsletters. 


Bookbub is the Rolls Royce of bargain-ebook newsletters, but it's very expensive and so selective they reject most applicants. But there are many others to choose from. Try Fussy Librarian, EBookSoda, EBookBargainsUK, Kindle Nation Daily, E-ReaderNews Today, Pixel of Ink or any of the new ones popping up all the time.

Ruth Harris has a rundown of some of the most popular newsletters in her post, Writer's Toolkit #4: How to Sell Your EBook

Here's another great overview from Cheryl Bradshaw .

And Molly Greene wrote an enlightening post about using something called Book Marketing Tools that submits your 99c book to over 30 sites for a flat fee of only $15.

But remember every genre is different. Fussy Librarian does very well for cozies and women sleuths, and another may be better for thrillers or nonfiction.

NOTE: if you have only one book, do not offer it free. Free samples only work if you have other products to sell. Otherwise you're just giving away the store. A 99c countdown works best if you're in KDP Select.

5) Network with your fellow authors for joint promotions. 


One of the best sales tools these days is the multi-author boxed set, joint promo, or anthology. My newly-relaunched career got a huge boost in 2011 when I was invited to be part of the Indie Chicks Anthology, which showcased 25 indie authors.

Later a single weekend 99c promo put on by the "Official Chick Lit" Facebook group gave me the boost I needed to get onto some major bestseller lists. Joining with authors in your genre for a well-organized promo like this will put you on "also bought" lists of other authors in your genre on Amazon, so it can give you a huge ratings surge.

Most recently, I was in the "Six-Pack of Sleuths" boxed set that made some nice money for all of us and gave us all a jump in sales. The month after it came out, my author rank was in the top 150 mystery authors on Amazon.

So how do you get to be part of these promotions?

You have to be invited.

How does that happen?

You make friends with other authors in your genre. I can't emphasize enough how important this can be to your career.

This is also why you don't want to make a lot of enemies, as I mentioned in last week's post on How Not to Sell Books. Follow Wil Wheaton's Law. Treat your fellow authors as colleagues, not rivals. Acting like a kind, helpful grown-up person doesn't just keep you out of trouble. It helps your sales. If people are choosing between a book by somebody they like and one by an arrogant, infantile jerk, which one do you think they'll choose?

Visit other author blogs, especially high profile ones where lots of people will see your name so they'll feel they "know" you.

It's also a good idea to join some Facebook writer groups or start hanging out in groups on the Kindleboards. Not for drive-by promotion, but to make friends.

Some people have success with Goodreads groups, but I have not. I find the anti-author sentiment on Goodreads to be overwhelming. If you go, don't tell anybody you write. Keep your "reader" hat on.

And never, ever go onto the Amazon Forums (not the same as the Kindleboards.) It's notorious troll habitat. Toxic sociopaths lie in wait for newbie authors, looking for egos to flatten and careers to destroy. Even big name authors have asked Amazon to clean up the filth there. I hope that will happen soon.

Google Plus is a must-join for authors. Not only can you network with other writers in groups like Google Plus for Writers, but you get yourself on Google's radar—a necessity for authors. Google Plus is easy to use and doesn't take much time (turn off most of your notifications, or your inbox will fill up.) I just visit once a day and have made good friends there. I've also had over 7.5 million views. That's a lot of people who saw my book covers and my name.

So how can you do all this if you're madly writing your next book?

Use your social media time wisely: only get involved with a handful of social media platforms where you can make some friendships, but avoid arguments and long discussions. Tweet and share useful information for your fellow authors and retweet their sales and launches,

When it's your turn, they just might reciprocate.

6) Slow blog and forget the newsletter until you have more books out.  


Yes. You read that right. I know every book marketing guru out there tells you to bombard potential readers with weekly updates about getting your carpet shampooed and how tragified you are that your pet gerbil has toenail fungus.

I could not disagree with them more. In fact, if you only have one book, I strongly recommend you do NOT send out a newsletter. You will annoy more readers than you'll get.

Newsletters only work when you have an established fan base that is desperate to know what happens next with your series or characters. You can be compiling a mailing list, but don't use it until you have something to announce. And only use it to announce books and sales. Nobody cares about your carpet shampoo dramas. Trust me on this.

And I recommend only blogging once a week for fiction or memoir authors. You won't wear out your welcome and you'll have more time to write. Blogging once a week or less is sometimes called "Slow Blogging" and it sure has worked for me. Here's one of my posts on Slow Blogging.

Nonfiction authors: The rules are different for you. Your blog is where you establish yourself as an expert, so I'd suggest blogging at least twice a week and incorporating your work on your next book into the blog.

***

You'll notice I haven't said anything about:

  • press releases
  • having a big book launch party 
  • taking yourself on a booksigning tour of the bookstores in your state
  • attending book fairs and festivals 
  • public readings or speeches
  • getting on talk radio and TV shows. 

There's nothing wrong with these old-school methods. In fact the less expensive ones, like getting an interview on a local talk radio or TV show, can be cost effective and raise your local profile a good deal.

But in this era, you should be marketing globally, not just in your hometown. (Unless your book is a nonfiction piece about your hometown. Then you do want to go old-school.)

I do know that book launch parties and personal appearances can boost your confidence as a writer. They may be important rituals you need to mark the event of becoming a published author. I'm not telling you to rule them out. But do them for fun, not because you expect them to be cost-effective.

Ditto book fairs and genre conferences. They can be fabulous for networking and feeling like a "real author." But be aware your costs will far exceed your sales.

Nonfiction authors: One of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority is teaching or presenting at conferences, so again, my advice is different for you. Personal appearances are more important for you and you will probably sell a good number of books at conferences and other venues where you speak on your book's topic.

But no matter what your genre, you need to keep in mind that most successful authors make less than 10% of their income from paper books, which is why I urge new writers to concentrate on selling ebooks.

Now go write that next one!

What about you, Scriveners? Have you hit on the sure-fire key to publishing success? Have you tried any of these tips? Are you a first time author who has had a singleton title shoot to the top of the bestseller list in the last year and can prove me wrong? Have you followed marketing advice and found it didn't work for you?


BOOK OF THE WEEK


No Place Like Home, #4 in the Camilla Randall Mysteries (but easily read as a stand-alone)  is available at all the Amazons and NOOK, Page FoundryKobo and iTunes


It's also available in paperback from Amazon USAmazon UK, and Barnes and Noble, in regular and LARGE PRINT




"A warp-speed, lighthearted comedy-mystery"...Abigail Padgett
"A fun, charming novel about the rich and less so" ...Karen Doering
"A cross of dry British humor and American wackiness, and it all adds up to a fun read." ...Deborah Bayles.
"It's comedy about a dark topic – homelessness – and it succeeds without ever descending into tasteless insensitivity, or tipping over into sentimentality."...Lucinda Elliot at the Sophie deCourcie blog.


And NO PLACE LIKE HOME IS NOW AN AUDIOBOOK

Narrated by award-winner C. S. Perryess and Anne R. Allen (as Camilla)

Set in San Luis Obispo. Great for that morning commute...


The audiobook is only $1.99 if you also buy the ebook or paperback. And it's free with Audible free trial. Nearly 8 hours of hilarious entertainment!
Available at Audible  and iTunes


OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


MARK TWAIN HUMOR CONTEST  Entry fees: $12 Young Author or $22 Adult. 7,000 words (or fewer) of any original work of humor writing. Submissions must be in English. Submissions are not required to be in the style of Mark Twain or about Mark Twain. 1st Prize: $1,000 (Adult), $600 (Young Author). Other cash prizes! Deadline July 10, 2015

Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest. Entry fee $10. Your story should in some way touch upon the publication’s mission: Celebrating America — past, present, and future. Think Norman Rockwell. No profanity or graphic sex. Any genre. No previously published stories, but they can have appeared on your blog. Between 1,500 and 5,000 words. Deadline July 1, 2015

PULP LITERATURE'S The Hummingbird Prize for Flash Fiction $10-$15 ENTRY FEE. Winner published in Winter 2016. First Prize: $300 (Runner up: $75). For unpublished short fiction up to 1,000 words in length. Contest Opens May 1, 2015 and closes June 15, 2015

Ink & Insights 2015
is a writing contest that comes with a detailed critique. Send the first 10,000-words of your book. The entry fee is $35: pricey for a contest, but a fantastic deal for a critique. Each submission is read by four judges who score 18 areas of your novel. This looks like a great opportunity! Over $5,000 cash and prizesDeadline May 31.

Writer's Digest Writing Compeition. This is their biggie. First prize is $5000 plus your photo on the cover of Writer's Digest. Entry fees are a little pricey at $25 for a story, $15 for a poem but there are lots of big prizes. Categories for many genres of fiction, Creative nonfic, essays, screenplays, and poetry. Early Bird deadline May 4th.

WOW Spring Flash Fiction Contest: Fee $10, or $20 with critique. The critique is a fantastic deal. These quarterly contests are judged by an agent. 750 words.  First prize is $350 plus a $500 publishing package, publication and an interview. 20 prizes in all. Enter early. They only take the first 300 entries. Deadline May 31.

The Vestal Review is looking for FLASH FICTION. Submissions are accepted February-May for the Vestal Review, the oldest journal devoted exclusively to flash fiction. 500 words or less. Humor is a plus. Pays $$ plus copies.

WRITER ADVICE FLASH PROSE CONTEST $15 ENTRY FEE. Flash fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction running 750 words or less. First Place earns $200; Second Place earns $100; Third Place earns $50; Honorable Mentions will also be published. Deadline April 21, 2015.

The 2015 Bulwer Litton Bad Writing Contest. Wretched Writers Welcome! This is the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" Bad Writing Contest! Write the worst opening line you can come up with (about 50-60 words). Must be a single sentence. NO FEE. Small cash prize. Deadline April 15

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52 Comments:

Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm about to have four books and I still don't have a newsletter. (Although I want to start one for the IWSG this year.)
And thanks for mentioning the IWSG!
Many of those come back to one thing - networking and making friends with other authors. It leads to marketing help, joint projects, anthologies, and so much more.
I've been doing #4 with the Kargrandes site, plus my publisher is placing my third book on sale right before my fourth comes out. Add in pre-sales and hopefully it's all a good boost for the book.

March 22, 2015 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--I have 11 books and I don't have a newsletter. I figure this blog gets the message out pretty well. Maybe I'll ask people to sign up who want notices of the next book, but other than that, I can't see the point.

A newsletter for the Insecure Writers Support group would be awesome, though.

#4 is definitely the biggie for most indies and small-press books. Best of luck with your sale!

March 22, 2015 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Thanks for the fine tips. I look forward to having the problem of promoting my newly published book. In the meantime, I know where to look when The Big Day arrives.

March 22, 2015 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

A lot of people are looking for the silver bullet. They want something easy to get rich on, and writing is never easy. The best way for being discovered is lots of fiction. I can't tell you the number of writers I've read where I liked the book and went back -- only to find they had nothing else out. I didn't go back later to see if they had anything new. There's a lot of competition of books for me to read.

Send short stories to pro-rate magazines. They will provide a lot of visibility. The science fiction/fantasy magazines have a subscriber base, and the best of the stories get published in an anthology every year. Add to that there are several sites that report on what's in the issues so you can track down favorite authors. That's a lot of ways for readers to find you.

March 22, 2015 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--We have to work so hard to get published, that it seems unfair when we realize that's just the beginning of the workload. Cultivating online friendships now can help a lot when that contract finally comes through.

March 22, 2015 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--I agree about the "silver-bullet" folks. I've had so many people ask for a magic formula, and it just doesn't exist.

Sci-Fi and fantasy probably have more traditional print venues than some other genres, but if you can get into any of the biggies in any genre it can really jumpstart your career. Even smaller magazines help, especially for literary or womens' fiction.

March 22, 2015 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Kristiana Gregory said...

Anne, thank you for these tips. I totally agree that "there IS no sure-fire formula". With my first Amazon e-book, some pros promised that the KDP Select free days would guarantee big sales, so I signed up: eager, hopeful, falsely confident. And boy, it was exciting seeing thousands of hits, ("oh yay, people like me!) -- but I naively believed the free-loaders would read the book then recommend it to someone, who would then buy it. Well, the sobering truth was no sales. Not one. I love having instant access to Amazon royalties, but it kinda knocks the wind out of you, to see so many zeros. Onward, though!

March 22, 2015 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Fabulous as always Anne! Today's list convinces me, at least for this year, that selling success is not my thing. Mostly it's the horrifying time-commitment (zoiks, I have an employer!), but also the things you recommend that I DO like, such as blogging, have become joys in their own right. I probably post twice a month and a newsletter at the rate I turn out books would be a joke. Just try to write better- and the friendships, advice scans, and blogging you talk about here are almost as good for that as the writing itself has been. I like the books I have and they'll always be there in the event fame finds me. Seeking it... boy, you make it clear, lots of time involved. I feel good about where I am, just wish I could crank out a little more. But hey- I have to make time to check out these incredible blog posts!

March 22, 2015 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Rosalyn said...

I always appreciate your pragmatic approach to things like marketing. As a still unpublished author (my book comes out next year), marketing is fairly daunting--particularly when I keep hearing that word of mouth is really the most effective marketing tool. The solution to that, as to so many things, seems to be to keep writing. :)

March 22, 2015 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

Literary though is one of the poorest selling markets.

March 22, 2015 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Don't know what I'm doing wrong here but soon as I get a comment written, I lose it. Trying again. :) Terrific post Anne. I think it's all in prioritizing. A lot of balance required, especially for me, with the actual writing as number one. I've tried many of these suggestions and they're good ones. But I find if I spend too much time on social media and promotion, as you've mentioned above, I lose sight of why I'm doing this. And I'm doing it for the writing because I enjoy it. I made a pact with myself. Soon as it's no longer fun, that's it. Let's hope that's a long way off. In the meantime my main goal is always to get thru the rough draft of my WIP. Love this post. Another keeper.

March 22, 2015 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Krystina K said...

Thank you as usual for your excellent advice. I'm so happy I found my way to your site. You are very generous. Thank you again.

March 22, 2015 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Rona Simmons said...

Spot on! No, I don't mean I'm adding to the reasons you should mention the carpet shampooing disaster you had today. You are oh, so correct on your advice.
I remember one mistake I made, initially (as if I've not made more). That was to write a blog about writing only to realize that those who might read and follow and favorite would be other writers but not necessarily readers. I changed tactics, found a topic that I though would resonate with readers of my genre and more importantly centered on a topic in which I was genuinely interested -- which allows me to blog (yes, make that slow-blog) on what I really want to say.
Thanks for this perfect piece.

March 22, 2015 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Katarina West said...

Thank you, Anne, thank you! I think I'll go over this post with a fine-tooth comb, because there was just so much good in it. And it's a relief to hear someone saying that there's no magic trick to make your books sell.

March 22, 2015 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

Wonderful post, Anne! I noticed in this month's issue of Writers' Digest, they have an article about indie writers who did well on Amazon. And each of the fiction writers used techniques that worked great in 2013 and 2014, but not in 2015. The article was out of date before it was written.
You are absolutely right about 'write another book.' Twenty minutes ago, I had a new reader contact me to say she had just read all three of my Goddaughter books - would there be another one out and when? Well, the 4th won't be out for a year, but I was so glad I could tell her that there were more books coming.
Write that next book! And the next. That's the key.

March 22, 2015 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Mercedes King said...

I'm in the non-newsletter-doer category as well. People are particular about sharing their email these days, understandably so. Thanks for the info! It's spot-on. Finding readers is an ever-moving target. Thank you!

March 22, 2015 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Jodie Renner said...

Another golden post to bookmark, full of savvy advice on increasing book sales, from someone in the know! Thanks for this, Anne. I'll be sharing this post on social media and to my author clients.

March 22, 2015 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kristiana--The free days used to result in more sales because the Amazon algos kept the book buoyant for a few days after a freebie run. But they don't do that any more. You end up giving away books to people who might have paid for it. I think the problem is worse when you write a book outside your genre, so there aren't a bunch of ready-made fans. Your experience is very common, unfortunately.

March 22, 2015 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Will--I feel that way about newsletters too. I'm lucky if I get out two books a year now, so people would forget they'd signed up for it anyway.

But blogging is enjoyable and I always put my new books here, so I figure that's enough. Yeah--do the stuff that works for you and keep most of your energy directed at the writing.

We do appreciate you taking the time to read and comment here!

March 22, 2015 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Lexa Cain said...

Thank you so much for the tips. I think many of us feel we must be doing something wrong if we do everything they say and just can't seem to sell. I'm doing all the things on your list (and how did you know my WIP stalled when I was busy promo-ing last year? You're a psychic!) Now I'll be putting out horror shorts and trying to find other horror authors to network with, as you advise in #5. Thanks!!!

March 22, 2015 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rosalyn--Congrats on your upcoming launch! Networking--the kind you're doing right here--is probably the best way to pave the way for sales, so keep doing what you're doing.

March 22, 2015 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mindprinter--I'm so sorry Blogger has been eating your comments! That's so frustrating.

You make a good point that social media can eat so much time you forget why you're even here. I think that's a good rule--when it stops being fun, cut back and figure out how to get the joy back into the process.

March 22, 2015 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Krystina--I'm so glad you find it helpful!

March 22, 2015 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rona--There's nothing wrong with starting out with a writing blog and then moving to a more universal topic. In fact I recommend doing just what you did. A beginning writing blog can help you network with other writers. Then you can branch out and change the blog focus to attract more readers..

March 22, 2015 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Katarina--I get a little annoyed when I see all those books and seminars that promise a magic formula for bookselling. There isn't one.

March 22, 2015 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Melodie--I subscribe to WD, but I haven't read it yet. But yes, MOST of the stuff on indie Amazon success is out of date. What worked in 2011 or even 2013 will not work now. KU has made most indie sales plummet.

Isn't it great to have fans who are actually waiting for the next book? That makes it all worthwhile. Congrats. Love the Goddaughter books!

March 22, 2015 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mercedes--I'm glad to hear from the non-newsletter camp. Catherine Ryan Hyde hates newsletters and never sends them, and she's consistently one of Amazon's top sellers. If she can do it, we can. :-)

March 22, 2015 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jodie--Thanks for sharing the post. Much appreciated!

March 22, 2015 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Lexa--There are a lot of people out there who will tell you you're doing something wrong, because they want to believe in the magic formula. It can't be the formula's fault, so it must be you. LOL. Sounds like you're doing all the right stuff.

March 22, 2015 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Paula Margulies said...

Great advice, Anne!

March 22, 2015 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Therese Kay said...

My genre, children's picture books, is quite a different animal, but I think item two applies best for my particular (not yet published) book which addresses a young child dealing with a chronically ill Mom. I've found the blogs excellent for networking, but also for research as well! Thanks for sharing your kowledge and experience!

March 22, 2015 at 4:30 PM  
OpenID writerchick said...

I have to say all this marketing stuff scares the crap out of me. I may have to go to that insecure writer's group. But I also have to say I appreciate all the valuable data in this post - which by the way is doable. Unlike a lot of marketing advice which only seems scary and impossible - or some sort of trick.

Thanks Anne.

Annie

March 22, 2015 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks for stopping by, Paula!

March 22, 2015 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Terese--You're right. I separated nonfiction from narrative, but I didn't mention that books for small children are in a separate category, too. You need to network with parents and librarians rather than your little readers. I'm glad you've found that blogs are useful for that!

March 22, 2015 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Annie--A lot of the marketing advice IS scary. That's partly because a lot of it doesn't feel ethical. Gaming the system and playing numbers games isn't just very hard work, it can backfire. Plus the rules can change with no warning as they did this summer with the introduction of Kindle Unlimited.

These are simple, non-techie things that ordinary authors can do.

March 22, 2015 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Marie Ann Bailey said...

I am so glad I subscribe to your blog. I have too many friends upset because they've done "everything" that the marketing gurus tell them to do and their sales are still low. But so many of them think that with the internet, it should somehow be easier and faster to obtain fame and fortune. As you point out, it's just different. Not necessarily easier or harder, just different. I'll keep my eyes on the prize, but my feet on the ground.

March 22, 2015 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Marie--"Keep your eyes on the prize and your feet on the ground"...excellent advice for almost all of us. Thanks!

March 22, 2015 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Florence Cronin said...

This is why we love you, Anne. You don't sugar-coat and tell it exactly as it needs to be told. One thing I love to hear is that blogging is a slow but sure method of networking and getting the word out. Since I love the blog-of-it-all ... that's an easy step for me.

I also intend to take your advice about the short story. Since I love to publish my flash fiction on my blog, it should be fun writing a couple of them to publish elsewhere :)

March 22, 2015 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence--We seriously do not want to lie to our readers. There's altogether too much lying to writers that goes on. But one thing I know is true is that blogging works!

I do indeed hope you venture into placing your fiction in magazines. You know I'm a huge fan. You need to spread your wings!

March 22, 2015 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Anne: As usual, I enjoyed your blog post and found useful information. Thanks a million.

March 22, 2015 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Misha Gericke said...

Great tips! I'm think that social networking has zero effect on sales, so my blog, twitter etc are all about having fun and connecting with people.

March 23, 2015 at 3:34 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Phyllis--I'm so glad it helps!

March 23, 2015 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Misha--Actually a wide circle of friends has a big impact on sales. If you use social media the right way, it impacts your sales in a big way, but not directly. But if you're widely known and well-liked, you're going to sell more books.

March 23, 2015 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Eileen Bell said...

Anne: Excellent advice here! Thank you so much for sharing it with us! I love a good party as much as the next writer, but knew that the on the ground stuff like book launches etc wasn't going to get me far... but I couldn't quite figure out how to "do" the online work. This will give me lots to think about--and work on! Thank you.

March 23, 2015 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Eileen--I'm glad this helps! Yes, a book launch party is a lot of fun and can be great for marking the milestone--but it's not going to pay for itself. Online marketing is what matters in the era of the ebook.

March 23, 2015 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Glenda C. Beall said...

Your blog is one of the best for writers. I tell writers to blog and build a fan base, but most think they can get on FB and Twitter and promote their books and they will sell. Your advice is the best and I will keep this handy for my students. Thank you, Anne.

March 23, 2015 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Glenda--Thanks much for the recommendation and the shout-out on your blog. I agree it's sad to see writers putting all their energy into spamming FB and Twitter instead of connecting with their potential readers. I'm glad to know this post helps.

March 23, 2015 at 8:40 PM  
OpenID sallyember.com said...

Thanks for the advice and tips, as usual, Anne. Excellent.

Makes me want to whine, though, along the lines of: "I'm a novelist and a blogger already; I don't want to write short fiction"; and, "I already do the rest! Why isn't that enough?"

BTW, everyone: You do not mean "silver bullet." In legends, that is used to kill, especially vampires or werewolves. You mean "magic pill," or "magic wand," or even "cure-all." All right?

Can't help it. Too many years teaching Language Arts and editing/proofreading; mixed/wrong metaphors bug me.

Best to you all,

Sally

March 24, 2015 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sally--Thanks.Writing short fiction and articles does take time, and if you're already selling well, you certainly don't need to branch out. But as a blogger, you probably already have many short creative nonfic pieces that could be polished up and submitted to magazines. That helps you reach a wider audience.

I think the use of the term "silver bullet" to mean "ticket to a sure-fire win" comes from the Lone Ranger. He used silver bullets and never missed. I don't think he ever ran into vampires or werewolves, though. But that might be a great spin-off if you could get the rights. "The Lone Ranger: Vampire Hunter" :-)

March 24, 2015 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I was right about the Lone Ranger and silver bullets! (My original response turned into a new comment below.) Here's what the Phrases and Origins dictionary says:

"We now use the term 'silver bullet' to refer to an action which cuts through complexity and provides an immediate solution to a problem. The most famous user of silver bullets was of course the Lone Ranger. This cowboy series ran from 1933 on radio and later as a highly popular television show. Silver bullets fitted well with the masked hero's miraculous persona. He typically arrived from nowhere, overcame evil and departed, leaving behind only a silver bullet and echoes of 'who was that masked man?'.”"

March 24, 2015 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Rosalind Minett said...

I also believe in marketing in the same manner as I buy. For instance, I never ever bought a book from a Twitter blast, so I don't do that, even though many if not most promo services involve multiple tweets. Your blog sells more of your books, Anne, than anything like that, I'm certain.

March 27, 2015 at 4:41 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rosalind-- Exactly. The old Golden Rule is always the best one isn't it? If we ask ourselves "what makes ME want to buy a book?' and then apply that to our potential readers, we have a much better chance of making a sale. I definitely think my blog is my best tool for getting my name out there.

March 27, 2015 at 9:25 AM  

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