Interview with Author Social Media Strategist, Frances Caballo.

Today I’m delighted to be joined by Frances Caballo. If you’re an author who is struggling with social media, and how best to use it to help sell your books, then I highly recommend you visit her website and read through her posts. I’ve learned a lot from Frances, and am now looking forward to this interview. Lets begin:

Just like Joan Stewart (The Publicity Hound,) you were involved in journalism before moving towards helping authors. What was it that made you decide to focus on author social media?
After working as a reporter and then as an editor, I decided to use my skills in the non-profit sector. After working in that industry for 16 years, I decided to become a consultant. To promote my business, I knew I needed to learn social media. In the process of learning social media, I changed the course of my career and decided to specialize in social media to help authors. You see, I’d been a literature major in college, was writing a novel, and was a member of two writer organizations. So the transition felt natural. Authors had always been my favorite people.

 

You have written a number of non-fiction books. Have you ever thought about writing any fiction, and if so, what genres would interest you?
I started a novel in 2000 but haven’t revised it sufficiently to turn it over to an editor. The book is a historical fiction novel. In terms of reading, I like literary fiction, historical fiction, and thrillers. Continue reading

5 Things I’ve Learnt as an Author.

Today I’d like to talk about some of the things I’ve learnt since I’ve been writing. I hope sharing my experiences will help other authors.

Don’t pay for things you don’t need to.
There are many people out there who claim to be miracle workers when it comes to marketing books, or getting more book reviews. Most are not, and should be avoided. I had many people approach me when I started writing trying to market my first book, claiming they could send the book shooting up the Amazon charts with no proof of any previous successes.

Book marketing is a steep learning curve that I’m still on, but much of what is offered by these ‘services’ can be done yourself. Offering your book for free on Amazon, for example – you can set this up yourself and make social media posts telling people about it. Book reviews shouldn’t be paid for – Amazon will remove reviews if they believe they’ve been bought, rather than given by a genuine reader. You can approach book bloggers with your book description and cover and ask if they’d be interested in reviewing it for you. Make sure the bloggers you ask read the same genres you write in, to ensure you get more positive responses.

 

Write your book how YOU want to:
What’s the best way to write your book? On Word? With Scrivener? Plan every detail, or just have a rough idea of the story? It’s all up to you – whatever works best. I write in Word because that’s what I’m used to, and I don’t see any benefit from changing to Scrivener. The most important thing is that you’ve got an idea and you want to write it. Don’t feel as though you need to use everything that is suggested to you. If you’ve read books telling you how to write a book and you get something out of it, then great, but it isn’t necessary to read them. You can help yourself though, by reading a variety of authors and picking out what does and doesn’t work in their writing. Continue reading

Self-Publishing Myths

Today, I thought I’d talk about some of the common myths I’ve come across in the self-publishing world.

typewriterYou can write a book by yourself.
Selling platforms such as Amazon and Smashwords have given a large number of people the opportunity to publish their books. This has allowed many more writers the chance to showcase their abilities, but as the old saying goes, ‘no man is an island.’ A writer needs to have a team of beta readers and an editor to point out what needs improving or changing. Extra pairs of eyes may see things you have missed, and they can give an impartial opinion on the plot, flow and character development.

Then there’s making your book look as appealing as possible. The general consensus regarding book covers is unless you are a talented graphic artist, then you should seek help with designing a ‘look’ for your book. The interior appearance of a book is also important. Formatting a book for Kindle can be a complicated and frustrating process. Unless you want your readers getting annoyed with chapters starting half way down the Kindle screen, or too many spaces between words, find some help. JJ Marsh and Jane Davis discuss this myth in their blog post ‘Self Publishing Myths – Busted.’

 

partner_logosYou can upload your book and people will find it.
The majority of indie authors upload their books to Amazon, along with other platforms such as Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and KOBO. Just uploading your finished book doesn’t mean it will sell. Yes, the occasional reader may come across it and download it, but that won’t lead to many sales. As I found out, you have to do A LOT of research about book publicity and marketing.

Just because someone, or a company, say they are book publicists, doesn’t mean they do the job well. Unfortunately, there are many ‘publicists’ who receive payment from authors for their marketing services, and then deliver very little in return. Again, research is needed. Drill down into what a potential publicist can provide in terms of visits to your Amazon page and book sales before paying for anything. Ask for recommendations from other authors who have had successful promotions. Who did they use and why? You can find some excellent advice about finding a publicist and working with them in Jane Friedman’s blog post ‘How to Find and Work With a Book Publicist – Successfully.’ Continue reading

The Top 10 Facebook Groups for Indie Authors.

facebook-wordle

Facebook is an invaluable resource for indie authors. It enables you to connect to other authors, and to your potential readership. The following 10 Facebook groups are the ones I’ve found to be the most useful for finding help with all things publishing, and for engaging with my readers.

*1 Without doubt, the most useful group I’ve found is THE Book Club. It’s a secret group that currently has 6200+ members. It has a mixture of authors and readers, and everyone is very enthusiastic about books. If you need some advice about writing, book covers, or how to price a book, for example, then you’ll always get some help from other authors. Also, the readers and book bloggers of the group are always happy to spread the word about the books they’ve read – and leave those important reviews on Amazon.

*2 Turning Pages – Book Lovers Group, is a group where authors share news about their books, and where readers can share their opinions and reviews of the books they’ve read. I find this group useful, as it enables me to share news about my writing progress, my book offers, and the publication dates. I’ve also found some great books to read from other members recommendations.

*3 Great Reads UK is a group that focuses on books written by British authors. Authors can promote in the group, as long as they and their books are in the UK, and the promotion is done in a creative way. The readers of the group share their recommendations of books based in the UK. I’ve found this a useful group to be part of as it enables me to discuss my books’ settings/locations, and gather some interest in my writing from people who prefer books set in the UK. Continue reading

Ebook Prices. What would you pay?

Today I thought I’d talk about the cost of ebooks. There have been other discussions on blogs and social media about this topic due to the agreement made between Amazon and 4 of the top 5 publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan). The result of this agreement is that the publishers can set their own prices and keep them set, with no changes ever made by Amazon. The publishers receive financial incentives to keep the prices down, yet many of their books cost much more than those published by smaller publishers and indie authors.

The graphs below show the difference in the cost of ebooks published by different types of publisher. As you can see, the books published by the biggest publishers are the most expensive, in some cases more than double than that of an indie published book. They have also been increasing month on month from the time shown between Feb 2014 and May 2015.

Book prices on Amazon

Continue reading