How to Keep Readers Engaged With Email Autoresponders

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How many marketing tools does it take to grab a reader for keeps? For some authors, the answer is one: an autoresponder sequence.

It can be overwhelming to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram when you know you need to spend your time writing. Autoresponders, which are the automated messages sent out after a reader subscribes to your email list, allow you to connect with readers without daily upkeep. By creating a sequence of these messages to go out a certain number of days after subscription, readers learn about who you are and what you have to offer in the correct order.

You can use Autoresponders as a feature on AWeber or the premium edition of Mailchimp. Using a well planned out series of messages can defray those costs, if not double your investment by gathering more engaged readers.

The biggest problem authors face when using autoresponders is figuring out what to send out, and how often. Need some inspiration? Here are seven autoresponder messages you can use that have been adapted from the mailing list of successful thriller author Mark Dawson:

1. Welcome Your Readers

Most email list building companies prompt you to set up an initial confirmation email. Some authors attempt to pack this message full of information. They might put links for buying all their books, ways to join them on social media, and entry forms for giveaways galore.

Take a look at this message as a reader. If someone sent you an email for the first time with 10 different links, how would you engage with it? Perhaps you’d click the first or second link, but it’s rare that you’d get all the way to number 10.

Keep things simple with all of your autoresponder messages. The first one should do little more than welcome the reader to your list and thank them for joining. You can also post a download link to some free material like a prequel novella or the first 10 chapters of your series-starting book.

Write your messages in the style of your books. If you pen whimsical middle grade fantasy novels, you shouldn’t use a cut and dry sales letter approach. The readers who found you might have a vague idea of the style you use. Stick to it in your email messages.

Lastly, end your emails with a question if you’d like to see more engagement from your list. The readers who respond are major candidates for potential true fans.

Here’s an example of message you could use as your first autoresponder:

You’re here! You’re here! Let me be the first and only person to welcome you to my email list. Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll receive a few messages about who I am, what I do, and why I spend most of my time locked in a room writing.

For all your troubles, I’d love to give you a peek at the first 10 chapters of my novel, Ferrick the Dancing Viking. Click here to pick it up and start reading Ferrick’s fantastical adventures.

It means a lot to me that you opted into this list. Thank you for signing up and joining this wild and crazy ride.

Are there any types of emails you’d like to see me send going forward? Shoot me a quick message to let me know.

Sincerely,
Hans Franz

Send this email right after readers sign up to your list.

Sample subject line: Welcome from Ferrick the Dancing Viking

Remember that this message will go to everyone who signs up for your list. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and guess at what kind of tone you’d like to set for the rest of your emails.

2. Check-in About the Download

Your readers receive hundreds of emails a week. Even if they read your first autoresponder, there’s a chance they might have neglected to download your free gift. Additionally, some readers with low technical knowhow may have had an issue getting the book onto their devices.

This second message is a second chance for getting that gift into their hands. It’s a simple message, but you can use your own style to spice it up.

Here’s an example of a second autoresponder:

I know, it feels like I just emailed you. Ferrick Flogenhoffel, my main character, feels the same way when his parents bug him about his chores when all he wants to do is dance!

I’m back in your inbox today because I wanted to make sure you were able to download Ferrick’s adventures. Here’s that link again to the free first part of Ferrick the Dancing Viking.

If you need any help figuring out how to get that book onto your Kindle, Nook or computer, here’s a great resource to check out. Trust me, I needed to go through this video three or four times before I got it right.

Have you downloaded your free book? Let me know with a quick message.

Sincerely,
Hans Franz

Send this email three days after readers sign up to your list.

Sample subject line: Did you like the free chapters?

Messages like this convert well, because sometimes readers just need that little reminder to start reading your book. It’s a busy, multi-tasking world out there, and this is your second chance to parse out your true fans.

3. Tell Them Who You Are

If a reader has taken the time to download your free work, they may be more interested in learning your story. This message is like one-way speed dating. You need to describe the most interesting and applicable parts of yourself in a short amount of time.

You’ll want to explain how you got into writing and why you write the kind of stories you publish. Pepper the message with details about your life, such as where you’re from, what college you attended, and any interesting facts that make you stand out.

In this email, you should also include ways for readers to get in touch with you. If you have an active social media account, this is your chance to link people to it.

Here’s a sample email you can use for your third autoresponder:

I’m back with another story, but this one isn’t about Ferrick at all. It’s about me!

I started writing in the margins of my math and science textbooks back in middle school. A couple of years into my time at Central Tech State, I had the idea of a boy who couldn’t stop dancing no matter what. After taking a Norse mythology course my junior year, I started doodling pictures of a kid I called Ferrick the Viking.

It took years for me to get up the confidence to write the first short story of Ferrick’s life. I received two-dozen rejections from publishers, but after self-publishing the story, I got the confidence I needed to write a full-length novel. The rest is Viking history.

I’ve been posting my old Ferrick the Dancing Viking doodles on Facebook. If you’d like to connect there, here’s a link to my profile.

Have you ever tried to turn one of your daydreams into a work of art? I’d love to hear about it in a reply.

Sincerely,
Hans Franz

Send this email five days after readers sign up for your list.

Sample subject line: My story

4. Get Reviewers For Life

One of the master tricks some authors use is to create an advance reader list. This collection of emails is a way for authors to get early reviews on their latest works. Since reviews are so important for marketing your books, it’s worth losing a few sales here and there to get the reviews up the first week you launch a new book.

Create a second email list for your advance readers. Use the fourth email in your sequence to talk about reviews and send interested readers to a new signup page. You can send those who sign up a free copy of your newest books.

Here’s an example of this review-gathering fourth email:

Thanks for following along with me so far. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Ferrick the Dancing Viking. If you have, one of the best ways to help me write more books is to leave a review of the first one on Amazon.

Let me explain. New readers who stumble upon the book’s listing page are much more likely to consider a purchase if the book has 20 reviews vs. 10 reviews. I’m currently at 10, and I’m only able to keep up writing if I sell enough books. I’m sure you understand.

Please leave a review of Ferrick the Dancing Viking here on Amazon.

I know that it’s a pain to carve out any time in our busy lives. Heck, Ferrick barely had any time to learn salsa in the midst of his farming chores, so I understand completely. In return for you reviewing my books here and in the future, I’ll send you the next book in the series for free!

Check out this page to sign up to my advance reader list. You’ll get free books to review, as well as some cool giveaways of Ferrick merchandise. Sign up today!

Thanks again for your reviews. They literally keep the lights on for Ferrick and company.

Would you be willing the post the review? Let me know in your reply.

Sincerely,
Hans Franz

Send this email a week after readers sign up for your list.

Sample subject line: Asking a favor, got a second for a review?

It can feel like a lot to run multiple mailing lists at a time, but separating these lists out now may help you to realize your truest fans going forward. The advance readers may also help you to promote the book as part of a street team.

5. Promote Your Second Book

If readers are still checking out your emails by the fifth one, you’ve probably got them hooked. That’s why it’s time to make sure they’ve got their hands on the rest of the series.

Since this is a promotional email, it’s best to add some extra personality so readers don’t feel like they’re being sold to. Provide as much value in entertainment as possible and you won’t get nearly as many unsubscribe requests.

Here’s an example of the fifth autoresponder:

You may have thought that Ferrick the Dancing Viking’s adventures were over. You were as wrong as Flogdor the Dragon wearing a tutu. Ferrick is the main character in a series of books that continues with Ferrick The Dancing Viking Two: Foxtrot Fever.

You can get the book on Amazon here.

I had so much fun writing Ferrick’s second adventure, but it was a lot of work too. I actually took three weeks worth of dance classes to make sure I got all his moves correct. It was a good time, but my calves were pretty sore. And here I was, thinking that my writing career would give me more time to sit.

I hope you enjoy Ferrick’s continuing story. Have you ever taken dance lessons? Has Ferrick inspired you to try? Let me know.

Sincerely,
Hans Franz

Send this email two weeks after readers sign up for your list.

Sample subject line: Ferrick’s adventure continues…

If you have several books available, you can leave links for those as well, though it might be best to keep them in the postscript. After all, you’re unlikely to sell many copies of book three to readers who have yet to read book two.

6. Promote Other Series

If you’re a writer just starting out without many books, you can use this autoresponder slot as a sort of wild card. If you have a second series with completely different characters from your first or that serves as a spinoff, this is where you’ll promote that series.

By now, readers are either in or out. If they love you enough to have bought books one and two, then they could be fans for life. In that case, it helps to let them know that you have other work available.

You probably don’t need a hard sell here. All you have to do is tell them why the things they loved in the first series will make them adore the second one.

Here’s an example of your sixth email autoresponder:

Did you know that Ferrick has friends? Thousands of miles away from Scandinavia, Samba Sam has his own dance-related troubles to deal with in Brazil.

Check out the first part of the Samba Sam series here.

I created Samba Sam when I realized it’d be fun to have a whole new crew of dancing fools in other parts of the world. I hope you enjoy Sam and her friends as much as you did Ferrick and his.

Where else in the world should I put my characters? Let me know with a speedy reply.

Sincerely,
Hans Franz

Send this email three weeks after readers sign up for your list.

Sample subject line: I’ve got other stories you may like…

You can also give your readers a free sample of your new series. If you’d like to go to the trouble of creating a third email list for your second series, then you can do that as well.

7. Bring Them Back

One tip from Author Marketing Institute founder Jim Kukral is to use an autoresponder to get in touch with your readers one year after they subscribe. It’s easy to fall out of touch with friends and relatives. It may be even easier to do so with the authors who readers love.

This message gives you the chance to bring readers back into active participation. Also, if they’ve been following you for an entire year, it’s a good idea to give them something for their efforts. One way to go about this is to see if they’re interested in having a Google+ Hangout or a phone conversation.

This may seem like a little much, but there’s nothing like going the extra mile to give a reader the experience of a lifetime. That reader could become a fan for life.

Here’s an example of the one-year message:

365 days ago, you subscribed to my Ferrick the Dancing Viking email list. I’m sure a lot has changed for both of us in that time, but I’m really happy that you’re still a part of the list.

As a thank you, I’d love to schedule a Google+ Hangout with you sometime in the next week. We could talk about Ferrick and his adventures, what it’s like being an author, or anything that strikes your fancy feet.

Let me know if you’re interested in that sort of thing. Thanks again for being such a wonderful reader! Here’s to another year of dancing fun!

Sincerely,
Hans Franz

Send this email one year after readers sign up for your list.

Sample subject line: A year has passed for Ferrick and you

If a personalized hangout is too much, then you can always offer a free story instead.

The Way Into a Reader’s Heart

Autoresponders work well as a way to initially reach out to readers. They save you time because you don’t have to send individual emails to all of your fans. Then again, it’s still important to keep your mailing list active with monthly or twice monthly emails that are timelier.

Autoresponders will get you part of the way there, but readers crave personal attention. If you take the time to mix occasional updates with your autoresponse sequence, your author tool belt will be light and manageable with an uncanny ability to keep your readers’ focus.

Do you know of any authors that are using email autoresponders very well? Share that with us in the comments, or share your own ideas.

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3 Small Changes That Will Transform Your Writing Overnight

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There are only so many tricks to help you sell more books. You can have a blurb that’s to die for, a cover that wins the monthly Book Designer award, and a website with a ridiculous email signup rate, but when you’ve reached the pinnacle of marketing prowess, the only way to improve your book sales is to write better books.

When you write fiction, improving your craft as you go is the equivalent of continuing education as a teacher or doctor. Writing more words over time will help you to improve, but finding specific ways to hone your craft will get you there faster.

When a voracious reader finds your well-written book, particularly as the first chapter in a multi-part series, that reader will latch onto your books for the rest of time. It’s up to you to make sure that your first book has engaging prose that keeps the pages turning.

Here are three writing changes you can apply immediately that will help your fiction to flourish:

1. Write Sentences With Suspense

Image from http://www.terrifyingtales.com/how-to-build-suspense/

Most of us learned how to write a proper sentence back in middle school or high school. You probably studied your subjects, predicates, and punctuation marks until you were blue in the face. These well-meaning English teachers taught us how to make a sentence grammatically correct, but they didn’t show us how to make it interesting.

K.M. Weiland of Helping Writers Become Authors said that most storytellers have been writing sentences wrong all their lives. When you take a sentence for granted, you miss out on the opportunity to hook, guide, and fulfill readers.

One solution to the problem is writing periodic sentences. A periodic sentence, which author Robert McKee called the “suspense sentence,” places emphasis right at the end. The first half of sentences should entice readers to keep reading, while the second half should serve as the payoff.

Take a look at these examples:

His book sales increased to 100 copies daily after four months of spending three hours a day on his craft.

In the last four months, after spending three hours a day on his craft, his book sales increased to 100 copies per day.

In the first example, the emphasis is on the time this writer spent working on his craft. In the second, we get the payoff of what happened as a result of his hard work. If you want readers to zip through your books and ask for more, then you should make the fundamental building blocks of your writing much more suspenseful.

2. Show Character Emotion

Countless books and articles on craft will tell you that you need to “show, not tell.” The phrase has been repeated so often that it no longer seems to have any meaning. Trying to apply vague advice won’t get you very far with your writing.

A simple way to add more “show” to your prose is to demonstrate character emotions through nonverbal cues. In their book The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi said that readers aren’t interested in being told how characters feel; they want to experience the emotion themselves. Ackerman and Puglisi found that in addition to using dialogue, authors could use physical signals, mental responses, and internal sensations to convey emotion on the page.

Use your powers of observation as a writer, both internally and externally, to determine how your characters nonverbally express their emotions. Here are two examples:

Image from http://www.fuelyourphotography.com/the-art-of-emotion/

There was a loud clang in the other room. Patricia was as scared as she’d ever been.

“Honey, is that you?” Her voice was sad and afraid.

There was a loud clang in the other room. Patricia held her breath. She attempted to speak, but her throat started to close up. She swallowed hard.

“Honey, is that you?” Her voice was a shrill whisper through the hallway.

Example one tells the reader how to feel. Example two gives the reader a chance to experience the emotions on his or her own. Trust your readers to understand these nonverbal cues, and they’ll find themselves riveted until the book’s final page.

3. Make Setting Tell The Story

For many authors, setting is nothing but a string of adjectives they add in to flesh out a second draft. They’ve been told that setting is important, but nobody ever told them that setting could be the lynchpin for developing their characters.

USA Today Bestselling Author Mary Buckham said in her book Writing Active Setting that setting can show characterization, create the world of your story, affect pacing, show conflict, change tension, explore emotion, and much more. While setting can orient readers to the time, place, and social context of a story, it can also demonstrate a rich point of view for your characters.

When you have multiple characters in your story, it’s important to remember that each one will experience the world you’ve created in a different way. Buckham gives the example of how a typical 30-something housewife would observe the view from a city rooftop much differently than a discharged military sniper. While the former sees playing children and SUVs, the latter sees escape routes and potential threats.

Image from http://www.desura.com/members/tetsuo3/images/alley-way

Here are two examples:

Eric walked down the dark alleyway. When he got to the other side, he opened the front door to the diner.

Eric’s shoulders relaxed as he entered the space between the two buildings. He didn’t mind the rotten pumpkin beside the half-open dumpster or the droplets from above of water mixed with god knows what. For a moment or two, he could hide from this city, and that was worth the stench. He took a deep breath as he reentered civilization and sunlight, yanking open the door to the diner before slamming it shut behind him.

We know a great deal more about Eric in the second example. While the first one gets us from point A to point B, the second one uses setting as part of the story. Readers tend to put a book down when it gets boring. Tying setting in with characterization keeps your readers going.

Better Books Are More Marketable

Marketing on its own won’t necessarily make your book a bestseller. Neither will writing the most compelling book in the world. When you combine effective marketing with strong writing, however, you significantly increase your chances of selling more books. These three tips will change your writing overnight, but you’ll need to put in hours of work to implement them effectively.

It’s time to stop looking for the quick fix that will make you enough money to become a full-time author. The most effective “trick” remains building up a dedicated group of fans. When you employ suspenseful sentences, nonverbal emotional cues, and setting that tells a story, you’ll be much more likely to hook new readers for good.

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ANTHOLOGIES…IT HELPS TO LIKE JIGSAW PUZZLES

by Glynnis Campbell

Have you ever considered being part of an anthology?

There are definite perks.

You only have to write a fraction of a novel. You get to work with writers you trust and admire. You can link a novella to your own existing series. And when your book hits the shelves, your promotion quotient increases by the number of authors.

But there are challenges, too.

Image from http://www.clker.com/clipart-jigsaw-puzzle.html

Writers are by nature solitary creatures. Creative people are stubborn about their opinions. And romantics get their feelings crushed easily. Put all three together, and you must think before you speak. On any given day, you may be treading on eggshells or walking on broken glass. You must be honest but careful with words and realize that no idea is so precious than it can’t be compromised for the sake of harmony.

So how to begin?

For my latest historical romance anthology with Tanya Anne Crosby and Laurin Wittig, it started with a bottle of wine in the lobby at a writer’s conference, brainstorming until the wee hours.

At first it felt like we were working on different puzzles.

Tanya hoped to write a prequel to her Guardian of the Stone series, featuring the legend of a Pictish goddess from the Dark Ages.

Laurin needed to tie her novella in to her well-loved Scottish Highland romances, the Kilmartin Glen series.

And the story for my Tudor-set Scottish Lasses series had to revolve around an event in Mary Queen of Scots’ life.

What we needed was a thread to not only tie all our novellas together, but to allow us the freedom to go seamlessly off into our own series.

So how do you find that thread? You can give stories characters or themes in common. You can place the stories in the same magical setting. You can connect the stories with an object like an heirloom jewel or a legendary sword passed from hand to hand.

After hours of juggling ideas, we came up with an object to link our stories—the Winter Stone—an ancient crystal with mysterious properties, carried from Keeper to Keeper down through the ages.

Of course, in the jigsaw puzzle of book-writing, this is only the outside frame. There’s still the entire middle to complete. There are more challenges ahead. For us, these challenges were magnified by the fact that we lived thousands of miles apart.

We went back and forth on the size and properties of The Winter Stone.

We compared plot points to be sure they didn’t conflict.

We played tug-of-war with the level of the paranormal element we wanted.

But in the end, with communication, understanding, compromise, and a lot of heart, every last piece of the jigsaw puzzle came together, and THE WINTER STONE was born.

So if you’re patient, if you can see the big picture, and if you enjoy turning pieces on their heads and trying to make them all fit, maybe an anthology is for you!

Website Planning for Authors

by Tina Gayle

One of the first things authors are asked? “Do you have a website?”

Some have authors use wordpress or blogger to host their site while others decide to try hosting sites.

As a former programmer, I wanted a site where I had more control. Why? Because there has been times when for one reason or another blogger has decide to take down my site. Trying to get answers as to what the problem entails is almost impossible. If you have a hosting site, you can call them and get immediate help.

Image from http://wespotlight.com/website-planning/

By using a hosting site, I know I’m can control what happens with my site. My site is programmed using HTML code, but don’t let that scare you.

A number of internet provide now have Weebly Drag and Drop Web builder. This feature allows authors to put together a professional looking website in a few hours. (I use Hypermart as my service provider.)

However, I still use blogger for my blog and just use a link for my readers to gain access to my home site.

When planning a website, an author needs to decide on a number of things.

Branding- what do you want to show on your site?
Number of pages? (note: Weebly sites have 5 to 6 pages with the basic plan…more pages cost more.)

What type of pages?

Here are some examples of the different type of pages one can have.

  1. Home Page / Welcome page – is like the entryway to your house. It is an introduction to you. It should include things like author’s picture, available books, a welcome note, brief biography and links to all the other pages on the site.
  2. Books Page – as an author you want people to find your books. This page should contain all the books you’ve written with either blurbs, excerpts or reviews. Or links to this information.
  3. Bio Page – a page to tell people about yourself. Who you are, what you write, more about your personal interests and other information you want to share.
  4. Links Page – this page gives visitors to your site links to other places on the Internet where they can find you. Also, it can include links to your friends and publisher. This is important because links to other sites that link back to you increases your rating on the Internet. (This also increase your SEO rating—see definition below.)
  5. Other Pages – the possibility for other pages are endless. Here is where you make your site your own.
  6. Picture page – share pictures.
  7. Contact page – where you give fans your email address.
  8. Excerpt pages – giving excerpts of your books or the ability to read the first chapter.
  9. Video Page – to display video you’ve made. (A great way to connect with readers.)
  10. Some sites also have chat areas or forums.

Each author has to decide what they want and why?
Feel free to hop around mine and see what you like and don’t like. Viewing other sites can help you decide what you want on yours.

Once these things are decided then comes the creative part of the process – colors, pictures, type print, headers, footers, etc.

This is not a one day project. Take some time and thing about what is best for your site.

5 Things Every Writer Should Be Doing To Sell More Books

It’s easy to be distracted by the shiny, new thing. Every day, there are hundreds of posts about the latest social media tool or the software that provides the most seamless writing experience. Writers are often guilty of spending more time keeping up with those posts than they actually do in the writing chair.

New fangled gadgets fade in and out of our consciousness, but the best advice is timeless. Successful writers often say they turned their careers around when they came to a certain realization or when they read a particular blog post or book. This article is an attempt to distill those evergreen lessons in one place that you can refer back to over and over again.

Here are five things every author should be doing to realize his or her best potential career:

1. Develop Writing Habits

Image from http://www.freelancetravelwriter.com/

There are authors who put out such a ridiculous amount of content every year that their peers can’t help but feel inadequate by comparison. Other successful authors don’t write a novel every month, but they do have the right habits in place to do a little bit of work every day. When you feel like you’ve hit the wall as a beginning author, creating a set of strong writing habits will give you the tools you need to finish multiple projects.

There are many examples of writing habits that’ll help you start and finish more work. You could develop a practice in which you write 500 to 1,000 words per day of stream-of-consciousness first draft material. You can set aside a certain time of day and a specific location for your writing. You may consider buying an electric typewriter or getting an old laptop without Internet capability and do all of your work on it.

Adding just one of these habits to your life will make a major difference to the amount of work you complete. Combining all the habits together could lead to a writing breakthrough.

You need to complete a task approximately 30 days in a row before it becomes a habit. Get a separate wall calendar for the writing habits you want to add to your routine. Use a green and red marker to indicate days you’ve completed the task and days you’ve fallen short. Keep pushing yourself until you’ve successfully completed the writing habit for 30 days in a row. From there, see how long you can keep your streak alive.

2. Increase Your Speed

Image from http://www.phillycourtreporters.com/online-resources-to-improve-your-transcribing-skills/

Once you’ve added multiple strong writing habits to your routine, it’s time to think about producing more content per year. Everything is a business, and writing is one of the best for creative types, because it’s part art form. The most successful authors do a fantastic job at both the business and artistic sides of their vocation.

There are many ways to improve your business as an author, but the one that works over and over again without fail, is writing more books. If you can write books more quickly with the same or better level of quality, then you will significantly improve your chances of success.

Author Russell Blake is well known as an indie author who gets on his treadmill desk for 10 hours a day and writes all day long. By the end of a writing shift, he might have more than 10,000 rough draft words with which to work. That is an overwhelming number, but you don’t have to be nearly that productive to be successful.

There are some basics to follow if you want to increase your speed.

Become an outliner by writing out detailed story beats before you start on your first draft. Turn off all potential distractions and disconnect yourself from cellular and Internet services while you’re writing. Practice typing as fast as you can so that when you’re in the zone you can put a lot more words down in your document.

When you take an author with strong writing habits and teach him or her to write 1,000 to 2,000 words per hour, you’ll end up with someone who sells a lot of books.

3. Schedule Your Books

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Once you consistently produce more content, you can start setting deadlines for when you’ll complete your upcoming projects.

A lot is made about indie authors being like one-person publishing companies. It’s the truth. The most successful indies stick to hard and fast deadlines for their projects just like publishing companies. When you know approximately how long your books will be and how many words you can write per day, setting due dates is a simple matter of division and addition. If your book is 70,000 words long and you can write 1,000 words per day, you’ll finish a rough draft in 70 days. Then, add on a certain number of days for editing and formatting. That’s it. That’s how you schedule a completion date for your book.

If your writing projects don’t have deadlines attached to them, you’re less likely to finish. The sense of urgency that comes from deadlines is compelling, even if you’re the only one who knows about the due date. If you take the extra step of telling your readers about it, this can inspire you to spend more time in the writing chair.

Since you’re going to start thinking like an author running his or her own publishing company, you’ll need to set deadlines for the next several books. To see the entire calendar year at once, you can buy a year at a glance one-sheet calendar to put up on your wall. Add in basic details like when you’ll finish draft one, when you’ll send the book off to beta readers, and when you’ll begin the formatting process.

Scheduling out books takes a fair amount of time itself. You have to consider trips out of town and other responsibilities. You’ll make mistakes at first. Everybody does. Once you get the hang of it, however, you’ll be able to see your multiple books into reality.

4. Use Calls to Action

Image from http://www.mrmediatraining.com/2012/05/16/how-to-deliver-a-closing-call-to-action/

Now it’s time to work on your marketing skills.

If you truly put in the time to publish more high-quality books per year, you’re going to find an audience. At least, you will if you make it easy for readers to find you.

The only way to get readers to contact you and seek out your upcoming work is to tell them how to connect. A call to action is the best way to get readers to do something. A call to action consists of a request you make to readers followed by a way for them to do what you want.

One example of a call to action is a request for readers to sign up for your email list. Many authors put these calls to action at the back of their books. The authors might write, “If you want to know when the next book in the series is coming out, sign up for my email list. Click here to join.” The second part of the call to action is making the phrase, “Click here to join” a link and pointing to a page where readers can sign up.

You need to ensure both parts of the call to action are set up properly. Give readers a clear action to take. Create attractive pages or offers to excite readers once they click through.

Calls to action aren’t just for email. They can work for social media or for buying later books in your series. You can use calls to action to get readers to leave reviews on Amazon or to share your work with their friends. It may seem silly to work so hard on marketing when you don’t have many fans to begin with, but the number of people who seek you out will grow over time if you have the right calls to action in place.

5. Perform Experiments

Image from http://www.sich.co.uk/1126/the-older-the-better-a-new-career-by-paul-white/

The first time a creative individual tries a new tactic, it has the greatest chance of being successful. Of course, that doesn’t mean the idea will be a success. Failures happen every day, but when you’re the tenth, hundredth or thousandth person to try the same idea, you’ll have reduced results when compared to the person who devised the original experiment.

Multi-author box sets and Facebook events started out as an experiment. The first few people to have their books posted on BookBub were part of an experiment. You can be a part of the next great book creation experiment. You just have to keep trying things.

There are new social networks popping up every single week. Test them out. There are new book formats and apps that let you reach readers in ways that you never thought possible. Give one of them a go. Has an idea for a way to find new readers struck you in the middle of the night? Write it down and spend the next month making your brainstorm a reality.

You can never guarantee that an experiment will be a success. The only guarantee is that the second person who tries out an incredible way of doing something will rarely be as successful as the first.

Experiment with the above tactics. Find a way to do them that fits with your time constraints, genre, and personality. Keep adapting until you can produce regular content and tap into a growing base of fans. Once you’ve got a method that works for you, use your creativity to come up with the next great idea. It’ll be hard work, but it’ll just have to replace your old blog reading time. No big loss.

So what do you think? Do you agree with these suggestions? Leave a comment below.

Listen To This Episode:

Promotion and Authors

by Roxanne Rhoads

Promotion- it’s a bad word for many authors…downright evil… but a necessary evil.

A small percentage of authors revel in the spotlight and have no problem talking, promoting, and selling.

But most of us…well we’d rather be writing. And not writing about our books or ourselves, just writing the books.

What happened to the days when the reclusive author typed away in their little hermit like abode, sent the manuscript off to a publisher who handled everything and the author sat back and got rich while writing more books?

Image from http://authoritypublishing.com/book-marketing/internet-radio-promotion-for-authors-how-ive-booked-20-shows-in-less-than-two-weeks/

I think that image is a fairy tale, I’m not sure if that was ever a reality at all but when I was young that’s how I envisioned the author’s world. Then I started writing books- and thought that once a publisher accepted and published my work the hard part was over. Boy was I wrong.

Thanks to the internet and technology more books than ever are being published every day- and it’s very easy to get loss in the ever growing a sea of pages and book covers.

What can an author do to stand out from the crowd?

Promotion.

Yes, there’s that damn word again but honestly it’s what can make or break your book. The other, I swear, is simply luck, and maybe a pact with the devil.

I’ve seen amazing books totally tank in sales and crap books, poorly written with sentences that run on and are hard to read, make the bestseller list on Amazon, repeatedly.

Why? Promotion.

For the past several years I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about the book business and book world, from all angles- author, editor, publicist, reviewer, book blogger, even publisher (I self-published a short story collection this year)- and I’ve learned a lot.

So what words of wisdom can I share with authors who are looking for the secrets to book success?

First of all- web presence.

What’s the first thing many people do when they hear about something- whether it’s a book, business, or new product?

They Google it.

That’s why an author should have a website- a good one, a professional one that showcases their author/book brand. If you write paranormal books your website should have a hint of the paranormal in it- should it showcase screaming skulls and blood dripping fangs? Probably not. Keep it tasteful and professional while making it clear you are a paranormal author, or romance author, or whatever.

Your website can sell you and your books 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all over the world. Nothing else can reach as wide an audience 24/7.
The author website should have 6 key things to be successful- a way to contact you, your bio, your bookshelf (if you write in different genres or have a couple different series then you should have separate pages for each genre or series), a calendar or schedule of author appearances whether in the real world or online, a page of fun stuff and/or links that relate to your books, and your media page which should contain an author photo, media ready bio, sample author Q and A, links to all your social media sites and your most recent book cover and blurb.

I also suggest having a regularly updated blog and newsletter that readers can subscribe to. The blog and website can be combined into one if you have standalone pages that link to the key things an author website needs. Visit http://www.roxannerhoads.com/ to see a website/blog in one. It’s still a work in progress but it has the basics.

Also be sure to utilize Author Central at Amazon, you can add your links and blog feed to your author page.

Which brings me to the next thing an author needs to utilize…social media- Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads- these are some of the most popular social media outlets for connecting with readers and other authors. The idea is to build is solid foundation of reader and author followers. Do this by posting fun and informative tweets and updates- not just promo. And you can link all your accounts together through apps at Twitter and Facebook or through outside apps like HootSuite.

An author should also stay up to date on what’s popular and working in the online book world- for example: book trailers, book soundtracks, Twitter parties, virtual book tours.

Do book trailers or soundtracks sell books? In my opinion no, but they are great tools for sharing your book (these would fall under that fun stuff category above to include on your website).

Virtual book tours, however, are one of the best ways to spread the word about your book. You can reach a worldwide audience without ever leaving your home at a tiny fraction of the cost of a real world book tour.

The goal is not just book sales but reaching out and gaining new followers. After a book tour you should see the subscribers list to your newsletter has grown, you have more Twitter and Facebook followers, and the number of blog followers you have has increased- and hopefully your book sales have skyrocketed.

So what do you do during a book tour? You’ll write guest posts, fill out and interviews, and sometimes participate in live chats and podcast and radio interviews at different blogs and sites around the web. The book tour company will schedule everything.

The key is choosing the best company for your book- find a company that has handled many books in your genre and that shows a good track record. If you only see one or two previous tours done by this company perhaps you should move on to the next book tour company- and new ones pop up every day. Do your homework before laying down the cash. While no book tour business can guarantee sales or great reviews they should be able to provide you with proven capability, organization and a certain amount of tour stops based on what you paid for.
Are real live book events things of the past? No, not at all.

By all means go out to local book stores, libraries, seasonal and holiday events and set up signings, schedule fun events that will bring people in- work with other authors to create group things that draw a crowd.

For instance if you write paranormal books- get out there at Halloween events and sell your stuff. Set up tables for sales and signings at Halloween reading and parties at local libraries, (schools too if your book is kid oriented), hayrides, even haunted houses. Work with your community to promote your book. You might be surprised at how many local businesses and event planners will be thrilled to have something unique and special (like an author) be a guest at their holiday event.

And be sure to bring business cards, bookmarks or even the hot new thing in real world book promo- book trading cards, to all your live book promotions. Pass them out at local libraries and bookstores too.

The key is- get out and promote. You are not going to get anywhere as an author being a hermit and hiding in your house tapping away at the keys of your computer.

Publication is only the beginning of the process…promotion is the road to success.

~Roxanne Rhoads is the owner of Bewitching Book Tours and is a paranormal romance author, book blogger, and book reviewer.