Best of 2018 (so far) for Self-Publishers and Book Marketers

We’re already almost a quarter of the way through 2018.

This year has seen a wealth of amazing content aimed at helping self-publishers and book marketers succeed and experience the best return on their time and effort.

It can be difficult to keep track of all the valuable content published amidst the never-ending stream of blog posts and social media content. As a result, it’s often easy to overlook some of the most useful blog posts.

To help you out, we at NerdyBookGirl have gathered together some of the best content from 2018 so far. We’ve extracted a key quote and a few takeaways from each article, but would urge you to read the full piece of content. Each site is also a quality resource in and of itself, so if you like any particular article, please check out the rest of the site.

Without further ado, here are the highlights from 2018 so far.

Writing.ie – ‘On Blank Pages and Being Inspired’

To start off, we have an inspirational piece from Writing.ie on the importance of remaining inspired no matter what your personal situation happens to be as a writer.

The article reflects on how even the most successful writers started out with a humble beginning. No one makes it overnight and the early struggles that writers experience are just part and parcel of the road to success.

KEY QUOTE –

“Why am I telling you this? Because every writer who is published, whoever hit a list or won an award or went to a fancypants publishing party was, once upon a time, struggling and aspiring, staring at a blank page and – quite possibly – weeping into their eighth cup of coffee that morning. I was so that soldier.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*No writer makes it overnight

*Struggling is part of the process

*Inspiration can be found by mixing with other writers

Draft 2 Digital – ‘Book Launch Best Practices’

Launching a book is one of the hardest things to get right. It also happens to be one of the key success factors which can make or break your book’s success in the long run.

Draft 2 Digital present their take on the best practices to keep in mind when launching your next title. They emphasize taking the time to learn and focus on the launch practices which produce the best results for your book, in order to only expend effort on activities which produce a tangible return.

KEY QUOTE –

“When it comes down to it, you’ll need to test and experiment and learn and grow, and ultimately do the things that get you the best results, consistently and with as little investment on your part as possible.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*Defining a target market, and writing to market, are keys to launch success

*Sunday is the best day of the week to launch a book

*Your marketing activities need to be consistent

Jane Friedman – ‘Launching Your Second Book and Beyond’

Jane Friedman is one of the most reputable names in the self-publishing and indie author community and her blog is a treasure trove of useful information.

In this post, a focus is given to long-term approaches to author marketing, with a particular focus on book launches after the first. This is an essential read for any book marketer who sees their publishing career as being a long-term endeavor.

KEY QUOTE –

“Before you publish their first book, your marketing plans are mostly speculative. But once you’re a year or two in, you’ve seen which efforts were successful in terms of generating publicity, boosting your social media engagement, and converting into sales—in other words, what worked for you and what didn’t.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*Know what worked and didn’t work from your first book launch

*Understand what makes your new book unique and interesting

*Focus on targeted forms of social media that produce results for your niche or genre

The Book Designer – ‘9 Types of Pitches to Use When Promoting Your Book’

Pitching your book to the various key players in the publishing world is a key skill you need to develop as an author. However, for many writers, it does not come naturally, and this guide from The Book Designer will be much appreciated. This article looks at nine types of pitches you can use. It caters to the specific nuances of pitching to different types of people and the things to keep in mind and focus on when doing so.

KEY QUOTE –

“Before you pitch anyone, you must identify your ideal readers, journalists and other people and organizations who you will be pitching. They must be a perfect fit. Your pitch must explain what’s in it for them or their audiences.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*Know who you are pitching to and what their interests are

*Think outside the box and consider pitching to less obvious people such as radio

*Ensure your follow up pitch is well thought out

BookWorks – ‘Authors: Don’t Put All Your Eggs In The Facebook Basket’

In this article for BookWorks, the recent Facebook algorithm changes are explored, and it’s emphasized that authors should diversify their marketing channels and not rely on any one platform for results.

This is a useful reminder guide to the fundamentals of building an author platform and the different marketing channels that can be used in doing so.

KEY QUOTE –

“Consumers (readers!) use keywords to find a new book or to locate information on a topic they want to learn more about. Learning about keywords and how they work is a great way to build your audience and sell more books.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*Don’t rely on any single marketing channel

*Your mailing list is a worthwhile long term investment

*Optimize your blog posts to gain organic search traffic

Write To Done – ‘How I Went From Being Scared Witless To Being a Published Author’

This article from Write To Done explores how authors gain confidence, self-belief, and discipline to help them along their author journey.

This is a heartfelt guide to finding time for writing and saying no to the things and people that hold you back from getting where you want to go. If you struggle with confidence or feel that you could use a boost of inspiration then this is a great place to start.

KEY QUOTE –

“Your biggest challenge in writing is the belief that you can do this. Lack of belief causes you daily problems in discipline – the discipline needed to be a successful writer. It stops you sitting each day and writing the words you need to hit your target and finish that post, or book or screenplay.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*Give yourself permission to take time to write

*Say no to negative people that don’t believe in you or your work

*Believe in yourself over the opinions of others

Adazing – ‘The 6 W’s of An Awesome Author Network’

It’s an old but true saying that it’s not what you know, but who you know, that helps you to succeed.

This is very true in the case of authors. Having a strong network of fellow writers and book marketers is a key factor to help you learn and get to where you need to go. This guide from Adazing teaches you everything you need to know to build the author network you need and to do so in the right way.

KEY QUOTE –

“A successful network is a web of mutually-beneficial relationships.  They say that a rising tide raises all ships. You want to be able to contribute to others just as much as you want to find ways that your connections can help you.  If you approach building your network with a “what’s in it for me” mentality, you’ll struggle.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*You have to contribute as well as take

*You can build your network both online and offline

*Author networks can provide mutual marketing opportunities

The Write Practice – ‘How to Write a Brilliant Twist Ending’

If there’s one storytelling device that audiences have proven to love time and time again, it’s the twist ending.

A well-executed twist ending is a kind of thing which gets readers talking, both online and offline and generates an incredible word of mouth buzz. If you want to learn to write an effective twist ending, check out this guide from The Write Practice, along with a practical writing exercise at the end.

KEY QUOTE –

“But it’s totally worth it. For many of us, great storytelling twists motivate us to tell our own stories. We long to recreate the catharsis of an unpredictable twist.

So do it right. Focus on choices and the seemingly contradictory reasons why characters make them. Don’t simply hide backstory, but use it to complicate the difficult decisions every character has to make.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*A twist ending can generate word of mouth buzz

*A twist ending works well when revealing a hidden motive

*Don’t rush your twist ending as it takes time to find the right end

Location Rebel – ‘How To Wake Up Earlier, 3 No-Brainer Tactics’

As book marketers, there are endless demands on our time, and it can be difficult to find enough hours in the day to get everything done that we need to.

This guide from Location Rebel offers three practical ways to get up earlier. This allows for more time in the day to work and the opportunity to take the entire afternoon as a period of leisure and socializing.

KEY QUOTE –

“Once you get past those first few excruciating minutes, and throw the covers off, turn the lights on, and get the coffee pot going – you’ll be treated to the very best hours of the day. The hours that many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world swear by.”

TAKEAWAYS –

*Waking up even an hour earlier can create room in a packed schedule

*Waking up earlier will require an adjustment period

*Planning out activities the night before can assist motivation upon waking

Independent Publishing Magazine – ‘Millenials Market: How To Promote A Book on Snapchat’

Although it’s come in for some criticism lately, there’s no denying the fact that Snapchat is one of the most popular apps and social networks among millennials.

Many authors are outside of the target demographic and don’t know how to use Snapchat. As a result, they are missing out on a unique form of marketing and an effective way of staying in touch with younger readers in particular. This guide from The Independent Publishing Magazine will turn even the least familiar author into a savvy Shapchatter.

KEY QUOTE –

“Even if your products are amazing, they’ll be a wasted value if nobody gets to read them. Sometimes you have to stop thinking as an author and start thinking and behaving like a marketer. Snapchat’s the key to generating buzz among millennials. Use it wisely and skyrocket your book’s sales performance in no time!”

TAKEAWAYS –

* Millenials prefer Snapchat over Facebook as a social network

*Cross-promote your Snapchat profile on other social media platforms

*Use the ‘stories’ feature to market your book creatively and artistically


Best Ways To Invest In Your Self-Publishing Career

“There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself. It is the best investment you can make; you can never go wrong with it. It is the true way to improve yourself to be the best version of you and lets you be able to best serve those around you.”

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Like anything in life, it’s important to spend both your time and money improving your skills and knowledge in the area of self-publishing.

It’s important to seek out smart investments that stand a good chance of adding to your self-publishing capabilities in order to give you a better chance of success. It can be difficult to know the best investments to make. In actual fact, there isn’t a one size fits all approach to investing in yourself as a self-publishers.

The best choice of investment you can make in your self-publishing business depends upon the stage you are currently at, and the investment you think will be most aligned with your aims and objectives at the time.

With that in mind, we’ll now consider some of the smartest self-publishing self investments you can make, and some tips on making a smart choice for where you are at in your career.

Courses For Self-Publishers

Self-publishing has many skills and techniques which must be learned in order to give yourself the best chance of success.

Even something as simple as writing a book has a lot of different steps which must be understood and put into practice. That’s before you even get to advanced ideas such as creating long-term strategic marketing strategies, building an author platform, working across different genres, or offering services to other authors as an additional stream of revenue.

Some of the best types, of course, you may wish to consider investing in include –

  • Writing courses. You may wish to take a general writing course if you are just starting out. You can also consider taking a specialist course to improve an area of writing you feel less confident about, such as world building, or dialogue. You can also take a specialist course for writing in a certain genre if you think it represents a good business opportunity, but aren’t sure of the conventions and tropes you will need to draw upon.
  • Editing courses. Although it’s always a good idea to make use of a specialist pro editor, it’s useful to have the type of skills that editors possess. This helps in several ways. You will be able to self-edit your own work which will save time and make the job easier when you turn your work over to a pro. You will also be able to consider offering editing services to other authors to give you an additional revenue stream.
  • Technical courses. Being a self-published author in the current business environment means you will benefit from having a certain amount of technical ability. Some of the technical areas you may wish to invest in include building and maintaining websites, running an author mailing list, and using apps to manage aspects of your business such as design, formatting, and marketing.
  • Marketing courses. Taking a scattershot approach to marketing is unlikely to produce the best results possible. Instead, it’s smart to learn from the best. No matter whether you take a course on Facebook advertising, Amazon advertising, or any other form of marketing, you are likely to get better results if you’ve learned from a reputable course.

Specialist Software For Self-Publishers

We’ve looked at some of the best knowledge investments for self-publishers in the form of courses. Now, it’s time to consider some of the best specialist types of software self-publishers should consider purchasing, the and the benefits that come from doing so.

It’s astounding how many self-publishers just use the basic tools available to them, such as Microsoft Word. If you are serious about success, you need to equip yourself with the tools that will give you an advantage.

  • Writing software. Although it’s possible to create great work with even the simplest of tools, when it’s time to produce longer works, the job is a lot easier with the use of book writing software. Some of the advantages of using specialist software include being able to have all your research in one place, being able to edit and reorder your work with much less hassle, and syncing across devices, such as writing on your home machine and editing on a tablet.
  • Cover design software. If you take the time to learn book cover design, you can save yourself a lot of money on pro cover design, and you can also offer cover design services for other authors in order to create additional revenue for your business.
  • Admin software. If you are receiving income from multiple different sources, such as some ad revenue, some book royalties, and some payments for services to other authors, it can become difficult to keep track of everything. Investing in financial admin software can make it easier to manage your books, keep track of your taxes, and avoid any financial problems down the line.
  • Marketing software. Marketing can become almost a full-time job in and of itself. Some of the benefits of using a specialist marketing tool include being able to manage multiple marketing platforms from a single app, schedule a batch of content for a time period in one go, and to respond to and manage social connections in one place. Using marketing software can save you time to spend on writing and other things you enjoy.

Platform Building For Self-Publishers

The key difference between amateur and pro-self-publishers is between those who think ahead and invest their time and energy into building a long-term author platform, and those who think in the short-term, not thinking further ahead than their next release.

Building a long-term author platform requires smart choices and clever investments. Some of the ways you can invest in your long-term author future include –

  • Advertising to build your mailing list. Perhaps the most important part of building an author platform is growing and maintaining a mailing list. By using the advanced targeting capabilities offered by Facebook, you can carefully target your ads on the specific people who are most likely to become fans of your work.
  • Investing in your website. There’s no need to have a super fancy website. However, investing to make sure the user experience is as good as possible, and the site is as quick, clear and functional as it can be, is a great way of investing in your long-term success as an author.
  • Video creation. A video is one of the most effective forms of content. It has a high engagement rate and is also very shareable on social. Investing in decent video shooting and editing equipment can give you an advantage over your competitors and give you a capability not many people have.
  • Hiring an assistant. Virtual assistants can be hired quite cheaply and for as little as a few hours a week. By letting a virtual assistant do things to build your long-term author platform, such as website or mailing list admin, you can focus on the high-level creative tasks that only you are capable of.

Self-Publishing Investment Final Thoughts

It’s important to invest in your self-publishing success. Some of the key investments include –

  • Investing in knowledge and skill to improve your own work and unlock additional revenue streams outside your core author activities.
  • Invest in software to help you produce better work in less time.
  • Invest in platform building and ways of establishing a long-term strategic presence.

What are the best investments you’ve ever made as a self-publisher? What has been the worst?

Please let me know in the comments.


Best Bargains For Self-Publishers

If you’re serious about self-publishing, you’re likely to come across an endless array of products and services to spend your money on.

It’s important to strike a balance between being frugal, but also unafraid of investing in quality offerings which will make a difference to your self-publishing journey.

Unless you have the terrible problem of an unlimited amount of money to spend, it’s wise to seek out genuine bargains. Quality choices that are a good fit for your circumstance, have a real opportunity to help with your goals, and won’t break the bank in the process.

Three of the best possible areas for your investment are in software, information, and services.

Let’s take a look at the smartest bargains within these three areas of self-publishing.

Bargain Self-Publishing Software

The array of software used by self-publishers is as varied as the writers themselves.

Some people have a specialist, high-end tool for every aspect of their creative process. It can be tempting to fall into the trap of assuming higher-priced software will instantly equal higher quality output. Of course, this isn’t the case. Otherwise, becoming the world’s greatest photographer would simply be a matter of buying the best camera.

Instead, it’s smarter to think about the problems you have with the way you are currently doing things. Is there a cumbersome or frustrating aspect of your process? Could you become more efficient by using fewer tools?

There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to self-publishing software, as everyone’s process and method are slightly different. Some people take a hands-on approach and therefore need to be able to design covers, format their books, and film promotional videos. Others focus on core aspects of their own business and invest only in these.

One of the best software bargains which will be useful to the vast majority of self-published writers is Scrivener. It’s a superb writing tool which makes the process of creating complex written projects much easier to deal with. Scrivener is fairly inexpensive, but you can get an even better bargain with a Scrivener discount.

Some of the most useful tools actually cost nothing, and are therefore the potential biggest bargains. Canva and Google Drive are great tools with no upfront cost for creating and collaborating quickly online.

If you are using any expensive software, it’s worth considering whether a free or cheaper alternative would be capable of offering the same level of benefit at a lower cost.

Bargain Self-Publishing Information

A lot of the best information out there is free. There are endless high-quality blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to providing actionable and game-changing information.

However, free information isn’t always the right choice. Sometimes it’s worth investing in a quality book or course which will go in-depth on a particular topic and provide you with the knowledge you need, presented in the way you want.

Just because you’ve decided to spend money on information, it doesn’t mean you should forget about finding a good deal.

If there’s a particular course or book you’re interested in, follow these steps to take a smart approach to find an information bargain –

  • Make sure there isn’t a better option for the information you want to learn
  • Read reviews and consider the feedback from real people rather than marketing hype
  • When you’re sure a course or book is right for you, research to make sure it isn’t on offer at a better price elsewhere
    Search online for coupons and discounts – you might be surprised at what you find
  • Some information providers offer deals, such as regular sales (for example, Udemy offer seasonal sales, and Amazon have prime day). If there’s a course or book you want, consider waiting until the promotional time to grab it.

Bargain Self-Publishing Services

Self-publishers may well require a wide range of services depending on their own publishing plan. While some have the skills and time to take a DIY approach for the majority of tasks, there are some that should be outsourced.

When looking to buy services, some of the most important things to consider are –

Is the price fair? Shop around to get a feel for the different prices service providers charge. Expect to pay more for experience and quality, and less for someone just starting out. The price point you’re looking for is your choice – just make sure it’s justified.

Are there hidden costs? Sometimes, you’ll have to factor in fees for online payments, taxes or other hidden costs. Do your research to make sure you don’t get hit with an unexpected cost.

Are there other platforms that offer similar services at a better price? Don’t follow the trend. Just because a particular platform is a high profile, don’t assume it’s the best deal for you

Is there any discount available for batch work? Often, you will be able to secure a discount on self-publishing services if you confirm you will purchase a larger quantity than a one-off order

Self-Publishing Bargain Summary

Overall, self-publishing is worth investing in, but it pays to be smart.

Don’t buy software for the sake of it, but look for genuine opportunities to make an improvement to your working life

If you want to purchase paid information, make sure the investment is the best option for your needs, and there isn’t a better price available

Take the time to find the right freelancers for your projects, and watch out for any hidden fees that may arise

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to handle your self-publishing spending. Different businesses have different needs.

It’s always good to find a bargain, but only if the bargain is right for you.