Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ask PZM: November 2013 - IWSG



It's that wonderful time again, the first Wednesday in the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group day, compliments of our very own fierce and noble Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavennaugh. If you think this group sounds like a good place and you'd like to join, click here.



It's a simple process: 
 

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post." 

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

IWSG co-Hosts this month are CD Coffelt, Tina Downey, Isis Rushdan, and Michelle Wallace!

Please stop by and thank them for their time and effort. CD, Tina, Isis, and Michelle! You guys rock!

 


ASK PZM: November 2013

 

 




1. What do you think is the most misunderstood facet of the book marketing industry?

Book marketing takes a long-term commitment (basically forever) by the author regardless whether traditionally published or self-published and this means continually working on book marketing, even if a few minutes each day.

This also means being open to new book marketing opportunities.  An author cannot be content with only offline activities (book signings, book fairs) – instead an author must also embrace new online activities.
 
And authors should not abandon their older books when promoting new books.  In fact, here is a personal example of utilizing new opportunities for book marketing as well as promoting older books with newer books:

I have just adapted the screenplay “Hot Potato” that I wrote with my husband (and which is in the book FOUR COMEDY SCREENPLAYS on Amazon) into a novella on Kindle.  (See http://amzn.to/16gMBaS )  



Why did I do this?  Because I wanted to share this story I really like in an easily accessible format  – and because this ebook is one more opportunity to promote all my other books and ebooks on Amazon.

How?  Because I have links at the end of the novella for all my other books.  Thus each ebook on Kindle is a marketing opportunity for all my other ebooks.




2. Do you think because of the negativity surrounding book reviews that their value is diminishing?


No, I do not think the value of book reviews is diminishing.  Regardless of how much, for example, Amazon search algorithms take the number of reviews into account, reviews can be useful for multiple purposes.

One such purpose is that there are sites that will not list your free or bargain books unless you have a certain number of reviews and often with a certain star ranking. 

Another example is that you may want to use quotes from reviews for promotional purposes.

And regardless of the controversy over reviews, I suspect many people look at the number of reviews a book has as part of the decision as to whether to purchase a book.  If there are no reviews, I suspect potential readers may ask themselves:  Has anyone even read this book?

In other words, we authors have to keep up our efforts to get reviews for all books.


   




3. Are the fees to have your book submitted for a book award worth the expenditure?

I think this is a personal decision depending on your marketing budget.  Even if your book wins an award, will that award translate into sales?

The answer to this may partially depend on how you “advertise” that book award.  And does that award mean anything to your target readers?


Personally, unless you have a large marketing budget, I think it comes down to whether the money required to submit your book to award competitions could be better spent on promotional opportunities that are directed towards your target readers. 



4. Most authors seem to market their books primarily to other authors; what's the effectiveness of such efforts?

I am not sure that fellow authors are the best target market for buying our books.  After all, we are writing our books for readers who aren’t necessarily authors, so shouldn’t we be marketing to those readers who like our genre? 

In addition, many authors are so busy writing and promoting their books that these authors may not have as much time to read books (or the budget to buy books) as readers who aren’t authors.


Then there is the issue of not reading certain books while writing your own in the same genre.

For example, I am writing a dystopian thriller, THE MOTHER SIEGE, on Wattpad chapter by chapter (see http://budurl.com/MSintro).   While I have read dystopian novels, I am purposely not reading very successful ones now because I am concerned that I might unwittingly mimic too closely the work of other authors.




And, of course, we want readers to suggest our books to their friends as well as to book clubs, so we should be promoting our books to these potential influencers.

TWEET #1 - What's the most misunderstood facet of the book marketing industry? (click to tweet)

TWEET #2 - Is the value of book reviews diminishing? (click to tweet)

TWEET #3 - Should we register and pay a fee for as many book awards as we can? (click to tweet)



Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon.  Her fiction books on Amazon can be found at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller and her nonfiction books at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller

She is also a digital marketer who blogs on book topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and you can download a free copy of her YA short story PINKY SWEAR at http://www.phylliszimblermiller.com/keep-in-touch/


51 comments :

  1. The Fussy Librarian is a new site that only lists books with so many reviews and a certain ranking.
    My publisher told me from the beginning not to target other authors when following other blogs and I've tried to keep my follow eclectic.

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    1. The Fussy Librarian, how come I didn't know about that one? Thanks, Alex! And your publisher sounds on target.

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  2. There's so much that's inflated it's hard to get a grip on a Jello-like mess. Generally speaking, authors don't buy books from other authors, all counter-image to helping each other. . . but that mentality is pervasive throughout society these days.

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    1. My inbox in inundated with requests to buy author books, especially through Twitter. I've noticed the habit has increased especially this fall. Thanks for visiting, Kittie!

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  3. Book reviews are definitely important, as is knowing your market. I agree, other authors aren't necessarily the best target audience. There are writers and there are readers. Some of us are both, admittedly. However, writers and book reviewers need to cater to the largest audience, which is a general readership.

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  4. I think a lot of writers do push their books toward other writers. Book promotion is very time consuming and it's so difficult to measure which methods are successful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. I think part of the problem is we hang out with other writers more than we hang out with readers. I'm not sure how to change that just yet. Thanks, Susan.

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  5. I know most my blogging (and therefore marketing) is aimed at authors. I know that is a waste, but I also know how much I get from the support of those who understand what I do/go through as a writer. I do also advertise (promote/feature)/ blog about books in my genre, so I'm probably not doing myself any favours there either :) But I blog about what I enjoy - spec-ific. Mostly, I want to support (and engender support from) the writing community. None of my friends or family are writers, most of them don't even read much fiction either - certainly not in my genre - so I have no one else to share things with (esp in Dubai, thugsands of miles away for everyone).

    Blogging for me is more about gaining support and learning than marketing, but I realise that's not the best use of my blog.

    I've tried a lot of book tours / giveaways / guest posts etc, but none of it makes much difference at this stage of my writing career (fledgling / one novel of a series published and a few shorts) so I'm swimming through the slush of wasted time and opportunity till I have enough out there to really sell! :)

    shahwharton.com

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    1. Your blog is a comfort, Shah. You do much to educate and commune with other writers. I understand your position and can relate totally. I have very few readers as followers, most of them are other writers. We need the support and the fellowship. Plus we can learn so much from each other.

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  6. As a reader, I find the reviews helpful. As you say, a book with no reviews raises red flags. If there is a charge for that book, the author might do well to offer it free on Amazon or Goodreads for a while just to gain some reviews.

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    1. My publisher is currently doing that very thing with my ebook. I don't know that it hurts, but thank goodness people like reading books. Hope your computer's feeling better, Robin.

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  7. Very insightful questions and answers. Thanks for this!

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  8. Thank you for a very interesting post. Marketing does seems to be an never ending struggle in my case, especially as I learn as I go along and I still haven't much idea about what I'm doing!

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    1. I know what you mean, Marie. The more time passing, the more I realize there's so much I don't know. Thanks for visiting.

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  9. Very good advice. And I agree: I think there is limited value in blog tours of books to authors. I think the time-investment/outcome ratio is probably not very impressive. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.

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    1. And thanks for your well thought out post for today, Julie. Very moving.

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  10. I completely agree with your findings on each of the three things. The only people the "awards" fool is the readers. But I guess that's the point - people who don't know any better are impressed and may buy based on that. Well, maybe sometime I'll sink that low ... but not today. Great post! :-)

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  11. I think we're all each other's audience. Like with this blog venue for instance! I'm a book marketing novice so I'm still trying to figure out my platform, my reach, and so on. Enjoyed your post!
    Cheers,
    -A

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    1. Thanks for letting me know, Adrienne. Makes a world of difference.

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  12. People do look at reviews. From the good ones, you can extract some wonderful blurbs for your promotional materials, too.

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  13. I look at reviews, but I don't put too much stock in all 5 stars or all one stars.
    Reading the median reviews tend to help the most.

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    1. Thanks, David. I've certainly found the same thing.

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  14. I didn't know that about reviews. I tend not rely on them when deciding to read a book. I rely on my friends--though that doesn't always work either.

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    1. Especially if they prefer a different genre than you do. Thanks, Stina.

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  15. I think review are important for growth as an author, but for readers, I think you nailed. Readers just want to see if anyone else has read the book, and since number sold isn't listed, number of reviews is the next best thing.
    Targeting books to authors does seem a little silly, but that's not to say cross-promoting is. I fear that, unfortunately, some authors forget to separate those tasks: targeting and promoting, and cross-promoting.
    Not sure about the awards question. Need to think on it more.

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  16. Reviews are more informative than stars for me. I read through a few good and bad ones, looking for intelligent critique. Stars, well, they give me next to no information.

    Great IWSG post!

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  17. I like reading reviews. I usually go with what the majority say.

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  18. Very useful tips and information. I do notice that when I'm doing nothing promo-wise that sales begin to lag.

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    1. Joy, I long for the good ole days when all we had to do was write the book!

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  19. Hey Joylene,

    First of all, I hate the way blogger has messed around with the comment section. I go to check what I've written and it skips all over the place.

    I shall keep my comment mercifully short. It kinda' seems logical that authors might try selling to folks who aint authors.

    And yes, it's that wonderful time of the month when you awesome people make note of me, "I Was Seeking Gary." Thank you so much.

    Delusionally yours,

    Gary

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    1. I hate Blogspot, but I hate WordPress even more. oh, and I hate that I hate them. Does that make sense? Thanks, Gary.

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  20. After every PZM post that I read here at your place, I realize the magnitude of this writerly journey with all the different "non-writing" elements, and wonder how on earth is a writer supposed to manage these things...?
    As usual, an informative post. Thanks Joylene.

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    1. Michelle, I'm as overwhelmed as I was when I first started blogging. No, in fact, I'm more so now. Thanks, eh!

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  21. Blogger just ate my comment. And I can't remember what I just said ...

    Bugger.

    Hope you are well.

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    1. Wendy, one more reason I hate blogger. Hope you're well too.

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  22. Hi, Joylene! I hope you will stop by my blog to claim the award I have nominated you for. Have an AWESOME day!

    Susanne
    Putting Words Down On Paper

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    1. Thanks again for the award, Susanne. Means a lot.

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  23. All excellent thoughts. I do disagree to one point though. Advertising to other authors is not entirely ineffectual. Granted, my TBR list is 100 books deep, but when I read something I love, I go all fan on it--as much as any obsessed reader. And who reads more than authors? I think there is power is sharing your work with authors--but primarily those who work within the same genre--for the cross promotional potential involved.

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    1. I hear a lot from Romance authors, and I'm not a huge fan of the genre. I want to help promote their work though, so I have to agree with you to a point, Crystal. Haha. Thanks, eh!

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  24. Thanks for your support, Joylene, I have cancelled the book signings up until Christmas, and life now a little calmer!

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    1. I'm cheering for you, Carole. Hope your husband recovers quickly.

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  25. Thinking of you too, Joylene. Pleased you keep busy and enjoyed your ghost making. I was led to return to my papier-mache by the author Clarissa Pinkolas Estes, for I don't see writing as quite the same relaxing occupation when one is editing. The first moment of creating a book, maybe. Her book is Women Who Run With The Wolves, and is wonderfully healing. 'Every one who can read should read this book' Maya Angelou.

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Thank you for visiting my blog. Please come in and sit for while. We will talk about writing. We will share our dreams. Then I will serve tea and cookies. Home made and Gluten Free.