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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Promoting my ebook: review round up and why self-promotion is hard work

One of the things I have been blogging about recently is the sometimes arduous task of promoting my novel, Dark Dates. As I made the choice to self-publish (having been traditionally published before, albeit by a small press) I knew it would involve a lot of work, but I have been surprised by just how much it involves: researching marketing opportunities, contacting bloggers, writing guest posts and doing author interviews – at times it has felt like a job in itself!

Still, I am starting to see some results, and hopefully this will lead to increased sales. Below are some examples of what I’ve been doing and the results…

Review: Fangs for Fantasy – was delighted to get a 5 out of 5 review at this site, which provided me with my favourite quote so far – ‘Tracey Sinclair has turned me into a fan poodle’. I’m not entirely sure what it means, but I’ll take it. This is also a great example of how these reviews cross-sell for you – based on this review, the book got recommended as an interesting read over at Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers.

Guest post: Rebeka Harrington – author and blogger Rebeka Harrington is very active on the cross-promotion front, and does an enormous amount of work promoting her Vampires Released series. I connected with her via Goodreads and we arranged to do guest posts on one another’s blogs (you can read mine here). I’d really recommend this, because it means that your guest is not only helping promote your book on their site, but they are invested in promoting your blog, too. I’ve already seen an increase in hits and Twitter followers off the back of several guest posts.

Guest Post: Interview: A Book A Day – another cross-promotional opportunity, this time with author and blogger Tonya Cannariato, who reviews and writes for this site. We did author Q&As for one another: bringing new guests to my site (it was clear a lot of fans checked her interview out from the comments) while the interview she hosted for me got an awful lot of retweets.

Reading Lark After Dark: Another interview, this time for the more ‘grown up’ arm of Reading Lark.

Metamodo: Guest post – an example of blogs wanting not just straightforward interviews, but fun content that their readers will enjoy even if they aren’t interested in your book. These can be tough to come up with – it can be a struggle to find topics! – but bloggers like them because they are very little work on their side (as I’ve said before, most bloggers are non-professional and are fitting their activities around full-time jobs), and because they are quirkier than straightforward Q&As. In keeping with the slightly saucy nature of the site, I did a post about my favourite fictional love triangles…

Nocturnal Reviews: Guest post – this was quite similar to the above, but the blogger likes ‘top tens’ so my post was on the top ten places to take a vampire on a first date – yup, really! It sounds silly but was actually great fun, and it was also my first ‘giveaway’: I’d been wary of these because I find Amazon a bit confusing when it comes to organising freebies, but as most bloggers seem happy to offer PDFs or .mobi files as prizes, I am likely to do more in future…

As you can imagine, this has been quite time-consuming – especially when you take into account that I repost links to all of these on my own blog, Body of a Geek Goddess, and I am still reviewing at Byte The Book and Exeunt, writing for Unleash The Fanboy (who did a nice story on my book here) and Strictly Writing. And I am, of course, currently working on the sequel to Dark Dates as well as juggling all the other balls in my freelancing career. So never let anyone tell you that self-publishing is easy… but is it worth it? Watch this space…

Dark Dates by … me.

Promoting your ebook: dealing with Book Bloggers

One of the key ways to build word of mouth for your book is through the book blogging community: book bloggers not only tend to be enthusiastic about reading but also about spreading word of mouth, and will often post reviews across a number of forums, which can significantly boost the profile of your book. So how best to go about getting this exposure? Here are some handy tips – and some guidelines on what not to do!

Find a list of blogs: there are a number of ever-changing blogging directories out there, so I’d start by simply Googling ‘book blogger directory’ and working your way through the most up to date lists. Once you have found a site you like or think might be suitable, it’s also worth checking out links from that site to directories / other sites (these are usually found through ‘buttons’ on the bottom or side of the blog).

Check the blog is still active: lots of people start a blog but it takes time, determination and stamina to keep it going and to build a following. It’s probably not worth contacting any blog that hasn’t been updated in the last month. Ideally, you want a blog that updates at least once a week, if not more.

Check their review policy: this will tell you if they are accepting review copies, and what sort of books they are interested in. There’s no point in sending an ebook to someone who only reads print, and you just have to accept that some bloggers won’t consider self-published books, or will only accept certain formats. Respect their choices and move on.

Is your book a match? Look at the kind of books and features they have on the site. If they are big fans of historical fiction and you’ve written a modern horror book set in space, they’re unlikely to want to read it.

Be polite – remember they’re people! Approach politely and courteously, and remember you are dealing with an individual, not an anonymous corporation. If there is personal information on the blog that resonates with you, try to reflect that in your approach. People like dealing with other people – be nice, and you’re more likely to get a response! Treat them like you’re doing them an enormous favour letting them read your book and they aren’t going to be that keen to engage with you.

Remember they generally aren’t professionals: in nearly all cases, these blogs are run by individuals – or small groups – who are doing it for love (with some free books thrown in). They are fitting blogging around their jobs, families and other commitments. Respect that, and don’t be overly demanding: they have plenty of other priorities than responding to your email and reading your book! Also, they aren’t obligated to you in any way: just because you send them a book doesn’t mean they have to read it. Accept that you’ll strike out a few times and let it go.

Be flexible: bearing the above in mind, be as flexible as you can re: deadlines – don’t expect to send a book and have it reviewed within a week. Most bloggers will try to help you out if you’re doing date specific promotion, but they may be booked up well in advance, or they simply may be too busy. If you want to have a book reviewed when it’s published, you need to send advance copies at least a few months before publication date (most will state timeframes in their review policies).

Offer alternatives: the one thing all bloggers constantly need is content, so it’s worth offering an alternative; for instance, when you offer your book for review, suggest that you’re also happy to do an author Q&A or guest post. Many bloggers whose review schedules are packed will still accept guest posts (especially if you throw in a giveaway) and while this is extra work for you, it can be useful publicity (remember, don’t reuse guest posts: you’ll make both of you look bad if it’s not original content!)

Offer to cross-promote: All bloggers – or at least almost all – will be keen to get more readers or followers, so state in your initial email that any reviews or posts will be cross-promoted on your own blog or website (you have a blog or website, right? Right?) and through your Twitter feed (ditto). Also, if you have a blog yourself, why not offer to host a guest post from them? That way you boost your own content, and are offering them more exposure.

Build relationships: In the short time I’ve been dealing with book bloggers, I’ve already come across some really interesting and fun people – so don’t just go into this focused on how to plug your book. Think about building long-term relationships – follow them on Twitter and Goodreads, sign up to their blogs, comment on their reviews. You won’t have time to invest in every one of the bloggers you deal with, any more than they will with every author, but be open to connecting with new people and you could be very pleasantly surprised.

Never badmouth a blogger: even if you have had a negative experience, there is nothing to be gained by mouthing off or getting annoyed with a blogger. For a start, it’s unprofessional, and it’s also enormously counterproductive: there’s a fairly strong community of bloggers and the last thing you want is a reputation as being difficult – part of the reason so many bloggers won’t review self-published works is because self-published authors have a reputation for poor behaviour. Sure, you might encounter a truly obnoxious blogger – they are individuals, so you’re bound to come across some you’d rather not have, just as you will in any other community – but in all circumstances the best thing is to take the high ground and let it go.

Be realistic – they won’t all like you: One of the hardest things for writers to accept is that lots of people simply won’t like your book. They may think it’s stupid or badly written, they may hate the characters, they may wilfully misread your meaning or sentiment, they may think it looks so God-awful boring that they can’t even bother to read past the synopsis. Tough. Get over it. There isn’t a writer alive who has been universally loved, and you won’t be the first one. Don’t get into a row over bad reviews, don’t vote them as unhelpful on Amazon, don’t try and get them removed from blogs or anywhere else. Take them on the chin and move on.


Working from home during the Olympics: tips for newbies

With the Olympics now looming, Londoners will hopefully have their continuity plans already in place to deal with the increased commuter traffic. For many people, that will mean working at home – which always sounds great, but can be tricky for those more used to an office. So, how to make the best of working from home if you’re unaccustomed to it? Follow these tips:

Do a trial run: if your office has remote log in, try it before ‘D-Day’ – you don’t want to find out at crunch time that your broadband can’t cope, or your system is incompatible (this can be a problem especially if you have a Mac at home, and your office is Windows-based – check with your IT department now to see if there are compatibility issues). Your IT team will no doubt be run off their feet on the first day of the Olympics: identify your issues now and you can get them dealt with ahead of time.

Remind people that homeworking is still work: it can be tempting for your family or partner to assume that if you’re working from home, you are suddenly available to do all of those chores that they don’t have time to do at the weekend. Remind them firmly that working from home does not mean ‘running to the bank/dry cleaners/supermarket/ looking after the kids’.

Do be flexible: conversely, if your job is more about what you get done than when you do it – ie, there is no expectation to be constantly available in office hours – then it may be easier for you to work in the morning and evening and set aside some time in the afternoon for domestic duties.

Take a break: if you’re not used to homeworking it can feel, no matter how much you are working, like you are somehow getting away with skiving, and to imagine that, if you don’t answer emails the minute you get them, your boss will assume you are sitting in the garden with a G&T. But you can’t stare at a screen all day any more than you can in an office: take regular screen breaks, allow yourself a cup of coffee or a proper break for lunch – you’ll be more productive for it!

Set boundaries: anyone who regularly works from home will tell you that one of the most difficult things to do is to keep the boundaries between work and home life separate. It’s easy when you’re busy to simply think, ‘well, I’ve started so I might as well keep going’ – and find yourself working till 10pm! That’s fine occasionally, but a recipe for burn out and frustration in the long-term. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time based at home over the Olympics, you need to be strict with yourself: set a reasonable time to switch off the laptop and stick to it.

Stay off Facebook/Twitter: even if you usually update your status throughout the day, it’s wise to use caution in doing so when you’re working at home. You may know you’ve been flat out all day, but if you’re posting photos of your garden or joking that you’ve got lots of washing done, it looks unprofessional, and can breed resentment amongst colleagues who are still stuck in the office.