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The Marketing Focus


Spring Cleaning My Website

 

Monday, May twenty-second was the last day of school for my daughter and I have just another seven days left at the school before my school year is over as well.

Time sure is flying by  I have three books coming out in the next three months so I figured that it was time to give my website a facelift.

Therefore, I am now taking the time to reflect what I want to accomplish in my writing business. I have been looking at ways to increase the effectiveness of my book marketing online and have decided to start by cleaning out my website.

Even though anyone can click on the home tab on the navigation pane to go back to the homepage, the first thing I did to upgrade my website was to add a return to the home page on every subsequent page on the website. I put a connection at the top of the page and at the bottom of the page, making it super easy for anyone to navigate the website to look around at any of the pages.

 

Spruced up the Home Page

 

Next, I cleaned out the home page of the website. I have started to realize that the home page of my website is like the reception area of a large corporation. Imagine for a moment how a corporation with files and supplies littering the lobby would be perceived. It wouldn’t be considered a professional establishment, would it? Well, neither is a website cluttered with text. To clean it up I took most of the text portion of the webpage and moved it behind the navigation tabs and onto other pages.

I wish I could show you what mine looked like before I cleaned it up. Take my word for it, it looks much better now. In addition to moving most of the content onto other pages, I put the photos of all of my books onto slide shows and put links to the descriptions on other pages. Just click on a book and there’s the description.  Again, I wish I had a before photo to show you, but take a look at what it looks like now. Click here.

 

Made Book Pages More Uniform

 

After I got the home page spring cleaned, I moved onto the subsequent book pages. Before, I had designed each of the pages at different times and used different design structures. They needed to be set up in a more uniform manner and gave them all a facelift and formatted them the same.

What I am currently working on is that I am turning the book descriptions into slideshows so that the pages had movement. It isn’t video, and I may upgrade to that at a future date, but it’s a start and should the overall performance of the site.

 

What’s Left?–Beyond This Clean Up-How I Plan to Keep a Website Updated

 

No website is ever completely done. Every website should be updated from time to time. In order to make certain that I make changes on the website from time to time, I plan to do a few things that will guarantee continuous tweaks and additions. .

 

One of the ways that I intend to make continual changes on my website is that I intend to add a lead-in to each of my weekly blog posts. This is where I will write a short tie in to my blog and then add a link to the full post on my blog site.

 

In addition, besides adding weekly blog posts, the possibility that I will eventually replace the slide shows with video, there are other things that I will do to further improve the website. In the not too distant future, I need to create a signup meme for the newsletter and have the newsletter meme on every page of the website.

 

In addition, I am going to further develop the media kit by adding future press releases for In the Shadow of the Mill Pond which was just released as well as my next books Living Today, the Power of Now and Write a Book to Ignite your Business.

 

Scheduled Time to Review Website Again

In addition to making planned additions to the website, I will need to make additional reviews of the website in the future to make certain that the website doesn’t get cluttered. The important thing that I have learned about keeping up with all of this, especially if I want to do it right, is to schedule time to make it all happen. I intend to make this happen again in three months in the week of August 20-26.

 

Your Turn

 

How about you? Do you have a website? Have you made navigation around your site easy? Does your home page look like a lobby or a warehouse? Are your other pages uniform? Do you have a media kit so that others can know more about you and your books and most importantly how to contact you? Are you adding elements beyond photos and text to make your website more interesting? Do you schedule maintenance time to update your website? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

 

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This is a photo of a shoe last. To make shoes, a pair of these have to be made first and then the shoe is formed around it.

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I am getting ready to put out another nonfiction book called Living Today, The Power of Now. Currently the book is in the editing process and should be ready in a few weeks. I have also been working on a book about how to write a book for business called Write a Book to Ignite Your Business, A Why-To and How-To Guide. It will include a lot of the methods in book writing that I have learned over the years. Here’s a few of the things I learned works well for me as I am getting started writing nonfiction books

Putting a Fence around Content–Making the Last First

The second most important thing that I learned about writing better and faster was to outline my book before doing much of the work in writing it. .

When I was growing up, Dad used to have a saying which was “when you make shoes, you have to make the last first.” He said something about it being the wooden part of the shoe that was the basis of the shoes. I still didn’t understand what he meant until I actually saw a shoe last. The shoe last is the wooden form that you stretch the leather around to form the shoe. Having a last makes making shoes a lot easier. Without a last, your shoes are nothing more than moccasins because they won’t have that shoe like shape. The same goes for writing a book. Having a structure within the book helps a person write a book better and faster.

Putting a Fence around Content-Know–Your Book’s Conclusion

One of the most important things that I have learned about how to write better and faster is to begin with the end in mind. This reminds me of a story that I heard a number of years ago about an elementary school in New York City where for a number of years, the school didn’t have a fence around the school yard. In the book, the children would hang close to the entrance to the building and didn’t spend any time on the school equipment.

Finally, the school board agreed to put up a fence. An amazing thing happened. The children no longer hung out around the entrance, but played in every corner of the building up to the edge of the fence. When they had boundaries, they felt they had more freedom to play rather than less.

When I write my books, I like to know the end of the book soon after I start. I have learned that when I know the end of the book early on, I feel as though I have more freedom to write. If I don’t know the ending, I ramble in generalities. However, if I know how my book is going to end, I write more from the heart. I know where I am going with my book. In this case, I am less likely to go down rabbit holes.

Start Your Book’s Description Earlier Rather than Later

It used to be that when I wrote a book’s description, I would write it AFTER I wrote the book. Now I start writing it BEFORE I begin writing the book. As I write the book, I go back and edit the book’s description until I have exactly what I feel works best to hook the reader into reading that book. I write the description first by coordinating it with my book’s outline. Then as I write the book, I continue to edit and upgrade the description to make it more interesting. I do my best to hook the reader into reading the book. I do SEO research and find the best words to include in the description to make it search engine friendly. As I move into the editing stage of writing my book, I begin editing the description as well. By the time my book returns from “extra eyes editing”, I no longer frantically try to figure out what to include in the blurb on the back of the book. Instead, I have a well written description that does all the work that a description is supposed to do. The description is a short synopsis that doesn’t give away too much information that hooks the reader and supplies the right words that people use to find the book’s information from search engines.

Create Your Book’s Title

Another thing you should determine before writing my first draft is to determine a working title for my book. A number of ways exist for writing a book title. One thing that helped me decide what title to give my literary baby is to give it a name as see how well it fits. I know that my book’s title is important because it is my first tool for hooking the reader into reading my book. A good strategy for figuring out how to name a book is to go to Amazon and examine the titles of the current best sellers in that category. One technique that I sometimes use is to use is to use a catchy, even trendy title as the main title and then tell what the book will do for the reader. For instance, in my newest book, Write a Book to Ignite Your Business, A Why-to, How-to Guide, the book’s main title and subtitle work together to create a title that hooks the reader by telling it what the book will do for them. The title provides information about the book will teach the reader, without sounding boring. Boring titles often a a sign of boring books, at least that is what readers often think.

Begin Your Book with the End in Mind

Just as a shoemaker should make the last first, for lasting success, you as an author need to determine your book’s end audience from the beginning of the writing process. Start your book by knowing how your book will end, knowing what your book is about, having at least a rudimentary outline, designing a good book description and creating good working title not only make writing your book easier to write, doing all of these things also make it easier to sell copies of the book when it is finally done.

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Make Friends With Your Local Librarian

bookshelf

A couple days ago I was talking with the Director of the Corry Public Library, in Corry, Pennsylvania and we discussed how I could get my books into the library system. She says that when the Corry Public Library published my books, she had to manually put them into the system. Once the books were in the library system, Once the books are in the system, other libraries can go and find the books and buy them as well. The problem is that the information could take six to twelve months to show up in the database. This means that as a self-published author,  I want my books in the libraries, I need to put legs to my dreams and introduce myself to librarians.

As I contact libraries, I first need to discover who the director of the library is and send my request to that person. Libraries are available in almost every town so getting books into libraries is not as difficult as you may think. Most libraries have websites and can be contacted via email. Many libraries now love working with local authors or regionally popular authors. Your goal with dealing with libraries, like dealing with bookstores is not in just getting the book into the library, but also in developing a synergistic relationship where both win from the relationship. Offer more to the library than just your books. Ask the library about programs that are held there that you might be able to participate in at some future date. I recently had a book signing at the Corry Public Library in Corry, Pennsylvania and the following night I participated in a book club there as well.

Keep your first contact with the library brief. Tell them a little about who you are and about your books. Send them to your website (or Amazon) to see your books. Include a wholesale price list of your books. Make the process as simple as possible for them to purchase. Ask what programs at the library are available that you might be able to assist. Libraries are looking for ways to stay relevant and developing relationships with authors is one way that they can do this.

When you hear back from the library, develop a relationship with that librarian. Discover what programs they have available and see where you might be able to help out. Not only does this help the library, but it also helps you gain exposure. For instance, librarians are always looking for someone to help with summer reading programs.

Consider Having Your Book Launch at Your Local Library

I have talking with the librarian we are discussing having the official launch of Sailing Under the Black Flag at the library in the near future.  This way, when I have a press release, not only will it benefit me, but will also benefit the library with publicity.

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


Image via Bill_Owen Flickr Creative Commons

Another important aspect of marketing books is getting reviews. Many of the primary online book sellers (like bookbub) do not allow you to put your book on their site until you have a certain number of reviews and have an overall 4.0 review rating. Getting reviews therefore is imperative if you want to have access to such sites.

Get Reviews Locally

One obvious way that I get reviews is from family and friends and other people who organically buy my books. In addition, I have a newsletter where others read my work on a regular basis. When I have a new book that comes out, after they have read the book, I ask them to write a review. This has been my main strategy. So far, I have few reviews on each of my books. I need many more, many more. Therefore, I am making special effort to go beyond this organically produced group. I am actively seeking reviewers.

I am searching for others who regularly read books and review them. Some of these people include other authors within the same genre (building relationships with others in your same genre is beneficial in other ways as well).

Another group of people are people who regularly do reviews for local magazines or newspapers. know the magazine or newspaper’s policies concerning reviewing your work before submitting.

How to Find Reviewers of Your Book’s Genre

Still another group is someone you contact through a social media source. Amazon is a good source for that because Amazon not only tells who wrote the books, but often provides connections to reviewers who regularly review your book genre.

To find a reviewer of your book’s genre, google “book reviewer” and “your specific genre” for instance, I googled “book reviewer” “Early American historical fiction”  In addition to reviewers in Amazon I found a Booklist Online a reviewing service connected with the library service which offers reviews for libraries, book groups and book lovers. Give them the information pre-publication and they review it for you.

There are a number of other reviewer sites online that charge money to share your book with reviewers. I believe that you should never pay for reviews. It is unethical to pay a reviewer for his or her “opinion”.

There are also genre specific reviewing sites like Historical Novel Society. Historical Novel Society has an online magazine and a print magazine and posts their reviews online too. I know that other genres have their review sites too. The easiest way to find them is to google them.

Getting Reviews from Other Authors

Another way to get Reviews is to exchange reviews with other authors within your genre. My plans for next quarter (October-December) I intend to start writing reviews for other authors in exchange for that author reviewing my work. I am going to include a review on my blog as well as putting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I will also do interviews of these same authors on my blog in exchange for my interview on their blogs.

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .


train wreck

I have to confess that I have not been marketing as I had planned. I have gotten off track and am already not meeting the objectives that I set for myself at the beginning of the month.

My main marketing objectives that I have actually focused on this week have had to do more with introducing my latest book Sailing under the Black Flag to those people who already enjoy The Locket Saga series. In addition, I have been using my marketing time toward finding gainful employment—which I am calling my means of positive cash flow. My goal is to get a first shift job (or second with the weekends off will work as well) so that I can spend my weekends and some week nights attending events.

Discover Where the Train Jumped the Track

So, it isn’t that I have not been doing anything in marketing. It is just that I have not been following the plan that I set out to do in the first place. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I have failed either. It simply means that I need to re-evaluate.  Therefore, I have to reassess my plan and decide to do something a little differently. The main problem for me in the system that I was trying to do was that I had too many little projects that were too much alike that also didn’t seem to bring any results. Therefore, I need to adjust my plans so that I not only am not getting bored with what I am doing, but also so that I can actually get better results with those activities.

Adjusting Tactics

So rather than doing one activity all afternoon long, I have chosen instead to focus on that one activity for just 25 minutes of nonstop focus. I will use what is known as the Pomodoro technique. I will divide my marketing time into 30 minute segments using 25 minutes for actually working on the project with 5 minutes between each session. Each session will focus on a single activity whether it’s sending emails, phoning, commenting on posts, reading, or creating interviews.

At the beginning of each session I will set my timer for 25 minutes and begin that activity and do that activity for the entire 25 minutes. Then at the end of the session during the last 5 minutes, I will note exactly what I did, how far I got, and how much time I invested into that aspect of marketing. The current areas of marketing that I am working on are contacting booksellers, finding reviewers, getting my books in libraries, touching base with authors (particularly other Indie authors) in the historical (particularly American) fiction so that I can interview them (as well as review their books) for my blog, as well as contacting and getting appointments to participate on podcasts and radio. I will still use the templates that I made earlier this month, but rather than spending all day doing a single activity that leaves me bored to tears, I will do just 25 minutes of that activity and then go onto the next area of marketing.

For more about the Pomodoro technique and discover how you can utilize this technique, check out their website at http://pomodorotechnique.com/

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

 


Poor Results from Email Campaign

IAs I said in previous posts, I have made reaching out the book buyers my focus. By this weekend I intend to have the first introductory email out to booksellers and will begin locating and connecting with reviewers. In addition, I will begin sending a second email to the booksellers concerning the Locket Saga, particularly now that the fourth book in the series is now available for sale and wholesale pricing for the book. Just because my marketing focus will move on, does not mean that I should stop working to get more booksellers to buy and sell my books. The process is really quite boring right now, because I have received no feedback as of yet. I guess the lack of feedback indicates that is that the emails are not working.

Getting Ready to Launch Sailing Under the Black Flag

I have been selling quite a few Sailing under the Black Flag to friends and family despite the online price increase. I am making plans to do an online launch. More on this in a later post.

I have been thinking about attending more events over the course of the next several months. Now that I am east of the Mississippi, I am closer to more people. I am even looking for another source of positive cash flow (read that to mean I am looking for a job).

IMG_8330 final copy

As Author Cygnet Brown, Donna Brown  has  published  several nonfiction books including Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener, Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard, and Help from Kelp.

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga,  Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag is also on sale now!

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and buy her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

 

 


“Planning my work and working my plan”

success sign post

This quarter, I am focusing on developing the marketing aspects of my self-publishing business. There are several projects that I really want to develop into systems that will make easier for me to incorporate over the coming months. There is a program that I am following to achieve my goals. I am focusing on obtaining a certain primary goal within the quarter. I am dividing the quarter into projects that I intend to complete within two weeks. These projects are divided up into missions that are then divided into tasks where one or two of these tasks can be completed within a day.

The primary goal this month is very specific.  My quarterly goal is to establish and test a systematic format using email and organizational templates for marketing through obtaining reviews, obtaining interviews, exchanging blog posts, and making books available to more people in several ways.

I have several projects. Each one I give a two week (fortnight) to complete. These first two weeks I am using to set up for the rest of the quarter. During the first few days, in addition to looking back over my accomplishments of the past six months, I have been working breaking this major goal down into projects that are broken down into two-week intervals.

Projects for Third Quarter 2016

  1. Organizing plan July 1-16
  2. Marketing to bookstores July 17-23
  3. Finding and contacting reviewers July 24-August 6
  4. Marketing to libraries August 7-20
  5. Scheduling podcasts and radio interviews August 20-September 3
  6. Exchanging guest posts September 4-17
  7. Review and Prepare for the Upcoming Quarter–September 18-30.

I will share more details as the month progresses.

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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church  1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm.   As Author Cygnet Brown, she  has  published a nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener

She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga. The next book Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag will be out in the near future.

Her most recent publication were two booklets Help From Kelp and Using Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Yard. Available in paperback

.For more information about Cygnet Brown and her books, check out her website at http://www.cygnetbrow.com .

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