Back talking with Jess about his learning experiences in marketing. He conveys ways he has marketed his first book that cost him money but wasn’t necessary to spend that money. Most of the marketing he has been able to learn and do himself.
He has been successful using PR techniques – including getting reviews through bloggers and review sites. A site he recommends is literarytitan.com
00:00:00] Jess: Are you working on your author career, but struggling to get that first book published? Does the goal of being an author seem too lofty? Or thoughts of having multiple books and making a full time living are as fantastical as living in Cinderella’s castle? Welcome to Discovered Wordsmiths, a podcast where you can learn more about the world around you.
[00:00:24] We’re aspiring authors can be heard. Join Steven Schneider is he finds and talks to authors. You may not know, but authors that have gotten their foot on the author career path, hear what they’ve done to get there and where they want to go now. Settle back. It’s time for a bit of inspiration and advice.
[00:00:42] Come listen to today’s discovered word Smith.
[00:00:44] Stephen: All right. Well, Jess, welcome back. Second part of our podcast. Well, Get into some author stuff about your writing in your book. So let me ask Uh, the first question, writing this book, and now you’re working on your second [00:01:00] book, what were some things you learned that you’re doing
[00:01:03] Jess: differently?
[00:01:04] I’ve learned a lot, uh, the, and it falling into two categories. One is, uh, on writing and the, and the other is, uh, on, on book marketing on, uh, one of the things I’m doing differently on in writing my second novel. is I have, uh, in the last few years really took the time to network a lot more into, into the writing world.
[00:01:29] And so that’s enabled me. So to, for example, find an editor who I’m, uh, who I’m working with as I’m writing the second novel, getting detailed feedback along the, uh, along the way from somebody who, from an editor who used to be a senior editor, one of the big publishing houses. So, uh, with a lot of credibility to this individual’s, uh, feedback and that’s, uh, that’s been very helpful.
[00:01:54] One of the other things I. I learned, uh, while I’m a pretty [00:02:00] good, uh, pretty good proofreader, no two eyeballs are ever sufficient. The quest for eliminating every typo, uh, requires multiple sets of eyeballs. So, uh, that was, that’s been a painful experience. But I think where I really learned the most. Uh, is when it comes to, uh, uh, to marketing because I was completely, utterly, you know, blank sheet of paper, ignorant.
[00:02:31] Um, when I set out to, uh, uh, to market, uh, my first novel heart set free, probably, uh, committed every. type of mistake you, uh, you can, and, you know, learned a lot, learned a lot of, uh, expensive, uh, lessons. So I’m certainly happy to, uh, uh, get into more detail about, uh, what I’ve learned, right things and wrong things when it comes to, uh, to book marketing.[00:03:00]
[00:03:01] Stephen: That’s one of the biggest areas I think people have problems with. They want to write, but then they get kind of scared and nervous. What are some of the things you’ve been doing to market
[00:03:13] Jess: your book? Sure. Well, uh, I’ll tell you both what I’ve been doing and, and, and not doing, uh, because, uh, any, anyone who gets into book marketing will learn very quickly that it’s, it’s not just possible, but in fact, very easy to waste vast amounts of money.
[00:03:33] Uh, I mean, there are so many, uh, companies and so called experts who are out there to quote unquote help Some of them are, are really predatory. I mean, I mean, some of it’s obvious, right? There’s, you know, vanity presses that are out there that, uh, want to do for authors what they can do very easily themselves through KDP or, uh, Ingram Sparks claim that they’ll, [00:04:00] uh, market the book and charge, uh, vast amounts of money.
[00:04:03] That’s most people can. can avoid that pretty, pretty easily. But, you know, some things are less obvious, right? Like, uh, does it make sense to, uh, to hire a PR? That was something that I, uh, I did at first, uh, not knowing any better. And while there are certainly are, are scenarios where that can work, the vast majority of.
[00:04:27] Authors who are writing fiction, uh, and writing a debut novel does not make a lot of sense.
[00:04:36] Stephen: Have you done anything like that with a PR company?
[00:04:38] Jess: Yeah, yeah, I did. I, I did very early on, uh, and found it, uh, mostly to be a waste. The one thing, um, on the other hand, I was paying for an education. So I learned through that PR firm.
[00:04:51] About how many bloggers are out there and they connected me with a number of bloggers who some of whom were great [00:05:00] sources of Quotes for editorial reviews, right? You know if you think about about an author’s page on Amazon You’re gonna get all your reader reviews at the bottom But you’ve got editorial reviews Uh, above that, and the really, the really strong editorial reviews, uh, are going to go in the front of the book, right?
[00:05:22] Uh, so that when people look inside, they’re going to see them. They might go right on the top of the book description, uh, on the Amazon page. Or the really good ones might go on the cover. Uh, now, on the other hand, I didn’t need, you know, now, I, I know I didn’t need a PR firm to connect me with bloggers if I could have done the homework myself and connected with them, but, uh, hey, you know what?
[00:05:46] You, you pay for an education, and sometimes it’s kind Some are more expensive than others, but just continuing on this concept of, you know, getting editorial review quotes, uh, that’s, um, one of the things that [00:06:00] I did right, I’m happy that I did, is you have a number of paid review services that are out there, right?
[00:06:05] There’s some of the most prominent and prestigious ones would be Publishers Weekly or Kirkus, uh, and then you’ve got less known ones that are still very, I found, uh, uh, very useful. for a self published author, blue ink review, forward clarion reviews, uh, you know, where you get, you know, expensive, right?
[00:06:28] Three, 400 a crack usually. Um, but when you get a really good, uh, blurb, a fraction of a sentence or a sentence or two that you can use. all of a sudden that gives an otherwise unknown author some real credibility. So for example, one of the big breaks I got was getting a very strong review from Publishers Weekly, and so I put one of the best sentences from, uh, from that review right on the cover of my, uh, of my book.[00:07:00]
[00:07:00] Uh, that’s been very, very helpful. But of course, a getting a review or even a great quote from Kirkus or anyone else that in and of itself isn’t going to sell books. It’s how do you use them? Right? So the question is where to advertise. Now, one of the things I found was that there there’s I don’t know how many there must be.
[00:07:20] two dozen, uh, different, uh, at least, uh, companies that, uh, any sort of, uh, uh, self published author is going to have their inbox deluged with, you know, pay us just 25 and we’ll put your book in, uh, in front of, uh, Our email list of 20, 000 readers or whatnot. I’m very skeptical of, of most of those services, but the, the advertising, you know, the, the reputable book advertising names that I think most people quickly come to understand.
[00:07:56] You got, you know, book, Bob, you’ve got Amazon book ads, and you’ve got [00:08:00] Facebook. I haven’t personally made much use of, of book, Bob. So I’m not going to talk about that. They certainly are very effective for the right kind of book, but I have made use of Amazon and Facebook. Facebook has really been my primary vehicle, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that.
[00:08:19] Um, the thing that’s very attractive about Amazon. Uh, is it? How do you know that the money you’re spending is getting you results? Right? Uh, so with with with Amazon, you have the same platform which you’re advertising on is a platform where people are buying, right? So you can know precisely. How effective your, your ads are.
[00:08:44] Um, and that’s, that’s very, uh, that’s certainly very attractive. On the other hand, Amazon ads, I think are going to be most helpful for someone who’s writing in a, in a well defined genre or where there are other, uh, specific other books where, [00:09:00] Hey, if somebody likes that book, they’re going to like your book, the more that’s true, the more effective Amazon ads can be, my challenge is my book.
[00:09:09] isn’t like that. It doesn’t fit neatly into a genre. It’s hard for me to say, okay, this recent bestseller is a book. If you like this, you’re going to like my book. Now, with Facebook, I can target people with specific interests, specific age ranges. So, for example, uh, my typical, uh, readers are similar demographic to Christian fiction in general, which is.
[00:09:35] Basically, older female readers. So, you know, I can target age ranges, I can target people interested in literary and historical fiction, and Christian fiction, inspirational fiction, and most important though is, I can use video. The Facebook marketing people will tell you that video is by far [00:10:00] You know, the most effective, uh, to grab people’s attention, right?
[00:10:04] So, book trailers. Uh, and I had to learn a lot of expensive lessons about book trailers. I want to, I can’t resist putting in a plug. If people are looking for a way, without spending a lot of money, to create an effective book trailer, you can’t do better than going to, uh, A website called Literary Titan, Literary Titan.
[00:10:26] Very, very affordable book trailers. I’ve used them, I’ve used Book Candy. It’s very good, but more expensive. Um, and at first I was doing longer, meaning like one minute. movie style book trailers, like movie trailer type style book trailers, which a lot of people do. But what I’ve discovered working closely with the Facebook marketing staff is that very short, shorter is better.
[00:10:55] 15, 20 seconds, 25 seconds is long, about as long as I’d want to [00:11:00] go. Focusing Not on a lot of dramatic action, uh, in the trailer, but image of the book and review blurbs, and I have found that to be tremendously effective for me, uh, at least for my books. Uh, so that’s my go to, uh, marketing vehicle after a lot of, uh, experimentation, uh, has been using very short.
[00:11:24] book trailers, videos, uh, that take advantage of all of the very good reviews I’ve gotten by, so showing those reviews, showing people the book, and when they click on the book, they go right to the book’s Amazon page. Some, some people like to take them to an, uh, to an author website, and I know that that’s very important as you’re getting email lists.
[00:11:48] That’ll be part of my future phase two marketing, developing an email list. But if you simply are focusing on getting people to buy your book, I want to grab their attention with a, uh, a video [00:12:00] on a Facebook ad. When they click on it, they’re going to write to the, uh, to the Amazon book page. And that’s what drives my sales.
[00:12:08] Stephen: Interesting. Great. Because I’ve heard the opposite that, uh, book trailers don’t seem to work, but you’ve got them to work really well for
[00:12:17] Jess: yourself. There are ones that do and there’s ones that don’t. Uh, I think, um, uh, Jim, uh, Rhubart makes a point that there’s a lot of trailers that, uh, that don’t work. Uh, I’ve no doubt that’s right.
[00:12:29] But, uh, there are ways of, uh, uh, of making it work. Uh, certainly the more a book fits into a specific, uh, genre, uh, with other books that are, that are very similar, the more Amazon is probably, uh, uh, quite possibly the, the best, uh, vehicle. I’ve just had good success with Facebook.
[00:12:50] Stephen: Back on the, the video advertising, what, have you found anything that seems to work the best and anything that just doesn’t seem to work at all with that?[00:13:00]
[00:13:00] Jess: Well, probably the worst, uh, The least effective video book trailer, uh, was the first one I created where we tried to, um, uh, to put some of the action of the book into the trailer. Uh, and what I discovered is that even if you’re going to make a trailer that is going to be movie style, right? A trailer that’s like a movie trailer, many book trailers are like that.
[00:13:30] Don’t get hung up on this. Something I really learned a lot from, from book candy, who does a very good job at this. Don’t get hung up on the, uh, on trying to be literal. Uh, give, give people a feel for the, the atmosphere and the mood of, of the book. Uh, don’t worry about trying to represent literally what happens in it.
[00:13:52] Um, so when I tried to do that, that was probably the most expensive and least effective. And, uh, [00:14:00] uh, but most effective, most cost effective, uh, and also sales effective, uh, have been just very short. Keep it. Keep it short, stupid, is what I tell myself. You know, 20 second ads, uh, you’re not, um, showing a lot, a lot of dramatic action.
[00:14:20] Uh, you’re, you’re just, you’re showing the book, you’ve got, it’s a video, so there’s something going on. In the most recent one, which I did through Literary Titan, uh, there is a, uh, Uh, that’s, that’s taking place, uh, with some evocative, uh, uh, music, uh, in the background. Uh, the cover of the book has a sunrise on it.
[00:14:43] So that’s, it’s related. And uh, the, some of my best review quotes, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, are, uh, are scrolling across the screen. So it’s, it’s gonna, it’s gonna get someone’s, get someone’s interest. [00:15:00] Uh, but it’s going to go quick and, you know, the whole point, just get them to click to through to that Amazon page.
[00:15:06] Stephen: So do you think that there’s something with maybe. Your genre and the people who read that type of thing respond better to the, uh, video ads than maybe other genres. Maybe they don’t see the video ads as much or anything like that. I don’t,
[00:15:23] Jess: uh, I doubt that. Uh, I doubt that. Uh, I think that, uh, uh, like I said, if you’re, if you have a book that fits neatly into a, uh, into a, a major genre and there’s other books that are like it.
[00:15:38] Uh, Amazon ads as opposed to video ads quite possibly might be the best way to go, but for me, since I don’t, I’m genre challenged, I don’t have another book I can point to and say, okay, I’m going to, I’m going to have Amazon show my book to people who have read this specific other book, uh, or this genre of book.[00:16:00]
[00:16:00] That, uh, that’s where I really had to learn, uh, uh, Facebook and the Facebook marketing people will tell you video is the way to get people’s attention.
[00:16:11] Stephen: What other marketing avenues have you tried that didn’t work? And, um, what have you done to maybe test it and see if you could get
[00:16:20] Jess: it to work? Well, I, you know, I mentioned the PR firms.
[00:16:23] That was not, that was mostly a wasted money, uh, book promotion websites. Um, I have not, uh, had a lot of success with. Those would probably be the sort of most, most expensive lessons, uh, that I learned.
[00:16:43] Stephen: Before, uh, we go, uh, is there any other last minute advice? you would have for any other new authors?
[00:16:51] Jess: Just, just keep writing the, uh, you know, probably one of, one of the things that have been impressed on me is that any, any [00:17:00] sort of marketing is, uh, going to be more effective the more books I have out there.
[00:17:05] So, uh, you know, nothing, nothing beats just having more product to sell. So keep
[00:17:12] Stephen: on writing.
[00:17:16] All right. Well, we, we had a few technical issues. I hope we can, uh, Get all this put together nice and smooth. Uh, it’s been great talking to you and I think your book sounds wonderful. I appreciate you taking some
[00:17:28] Jess: time today. You bet. Thank you. Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road they’ve traveled and maybe sometime in the near future, it might be you.