Category Archives: Marketing

Creative Juice #188

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Creative Juice #188

Three poems this week, some funny stuff, and some useful information, as well as beauty.

Guest Post: 3 Marketing Strategies Literary Agents and Editors Love to See; by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

There’s only one thing literary agents and editors enjoy more than discovering great unpublished writing: discovering great unpublished writing that’s backed by an author who is an enthusiastic self-starter.

But what exactly do literary agents love to see in a new client? How can a writer do more than merely promise enthusiasm for book marketing?

Believe it or not, there are three simple marketing strategies that can make a huge difference for writers even before they get a book published.

Lay the foundation for your future as a successful author right now, even before you start seeking publication.

Here’s how.

Writers: Three Marketing Tactics To Implement Before You Seek Book Publication

First: Define Your Author Brand

A writer with a well-defined, recognizable brand is a writer who can expect to build an audience that will buy book after book for years to come. But how can writers build their brands even before getting published?

Simple. Learn the core concepts of author brand development and how this strategy can work for you.

A strong writer brand starts with the author’s online personality and builds a focused outreach campaign based on the author’s select literary interests.

In other words, who you are as a writer—and what you love to write—makes up the spine of your author brand. With focused effort, a writer with strong, specific branding will develop a unique voice and style that pervade book after book, delivering on the “promise” of the brand with each new title so that readers can expect stories of a consistent quality. A writer’s social media posts, marketing materials, and writing all reflect the core tenets of the author’s brand.

But a word of caution: Writers may have a natural tendency to love many sorts of books written in many different styles, but a strong writer brand is usually only big enough for focusing on a single selected genre. Writers who hop around among genres tend to take on different pen names for each style of book—but that means marketing each pen name with “new author” status and building a readership from the ground up for each new book.

How will agents and editors know you have a well-planned author brand? You can certainly bring up the details of your plans and strategies in conversation. But you can also hint at them in your query letter.

Second: Have A Fabulous Author Website

New writers often wonder: What is the point of having an author website if there are no books to sell, no publishing credits to brag about, and—generally speaking—nothing to offer potential fans?

Friends, let our years of publishing experience AND web design smarts reassure you: New writers are as much in need of great websites as established veterans. Here’s why creating a website before publication can be a benefit to literary agents, editors, readers—and, of course, to you.

  • A well-designed author website shows that you’re actively paving the way for the future—a future that you’re willing to invest in. And if a writer is meaningfully investing, agents may find it easier to follow suit. After all, an author website shows that the writer has a strong expectation of publishing success—as opposed to a vague hope that someday, something good will happen. I’m going to be great at this, the subtext screams. So why not start now?
  • An author website with integrated social media feeds, a sign-up form for email subscribers, and freebies that encourage connections with fans makes it clear that you are READY to build your readership. Plus, having fan-building functionality on your author website may surprise you: You might find more people than you ever imagined are signing up to learn about your writing. But you won’t know who might become a fan until you give them the opportunity.
  • An author website lets you tell your personal story—which is HUGE for personal marketing and branding. If you’re a new writer, your author’s bio page gives you the ability to show industry pros that you’re dedicating real effort to the craft of writing by taking classes, attending conferences, and soaking up knowledge like a bookish sponge. Even if a writer has no publication credits yet, an author website is a chance to show that it’s only a matter of time.
  • Creating an author website makes you googleable—when literary agents and editors type your name into a search engine, something will actually come up. Read more: How Writers Can Be More Googleable (So People Can Find Your Writing Online) | Web Design Relief.
  • Not having a website seems shortsighted and passive. Literary agents and editors expect their writers will be active promotional partners. In fact, having an author website is as de rigueur as having a business card. Writers who don’t have author websites imply that they are simply not interested in promotion.

If you don’t have a website yet, be sure to hire a company that truly understands your goals as a creative writer and how those goals matter within the larger publishing industry. Start by checking out Web Design Relief.

Read more:

Unpublished Writers: Strategies For Creating An Impressive Author Website | Web Design Relief

How To Help Your Author Website Designer “Get You” And What You Want | Web Design Relief

In your query letter, be sure to tell literary agents to visit your author website so they can get to know you as a writer. Instead of including a basic URL address, try: If you’d like to learn more about me, see pictures from my research and travels, or check out my popular blog posts, visit my website: URL here.

Third: Create A Foundation For Social Media Success

If you enjoy posting new pictures and thoughts on social media, count yourself lucky. You’ve got a natural advantage when it comes to marketing and promotion. You’re probably already out there sharing the ups and downs of your publishing journey and inviting potential fans into your life—and that’s exactly what literary agents and editors love to see from writers.

And here’s a secret about social media for writers: It doesn’t matter whether you have fifty Facebook friends or five hundred.

What matters is your attitude: invigorated, enthusiastic, and active. You’re already laying the foundation for a thriving community of fans, friends, and followers. And this counts big when literary agents are assessing your potential success as an online personality who can command a large fan base of readers.

But if you’re the type of writer who would rather be writing books than social media posts—who breaks out in hives just thinking about sharing any information on social media—take heart in knowing that you’re not alone.

Let’s address some common insecurities (and a few straight-up excuses) that tend to hold people back from developing a strong online social media platform.

Excuse: There’s no point in trying to gather ANY fans since it’s so difficult to gather LOTS of them.

The truth: Literary agents prize the quality of your social interactions more than they care about the quantity. A writer with 5,000 friends who rarely interact doesn’t have more marketing power than a writer with only fifty friends who actively engage regularly.

Excuse: Social media is only for young people who care about frivolous things.

The truth: Though social media is certainly popular among students, older generations of adults are also active online. In fact, the majority of people who use the Internet are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and similar platforms. And though cat videos are perennial favorites, posts that have more poignancy or substance are welcome too. Writers can choose how to make social media their own. Learn more: Tips For Targeting Older Demographics On Social Media.

Excuse: I’m worried about posting anything personal online—it’s not safe.

The truth: It’s possible to post information that isn’t personally revealing but is still engaging and interesting. All it takes is a little creativity and an eye for intriguing, sharable content. Read more: Safety Tips For Social Networking: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Safe Online.

Even if you don’t have a huge following yet as a writer, working with what you already have puts you in a great place to expand and grow.

In your query letter, you can brag to literary agents about big numbers of fans and followers if you have them. But equally as powerful is this simple statement: I’ve been active on social media and am looking forward to continuing to grow my following.

Build An Author Platform That Will Give Your Book Every Advantage

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Take the time to build a marketing infrastructure now, and you might see a bigger payoff when you do finally submit your book for publication.

And remember, we’re here to help!

Question for writers: Which of these marketing strategies seems simplest to implement? Which seem hardest?

Guest Post: What Kinds of Social Media Go Viral? by Jenny Hansen

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Guest Post: What Kinds of Social Media Go Viral? by Jenny Hansen

Thank you to Jenny Hansen and to Writers in the Storm for strategies you can use to promote your work.

In last month’s post, I shared social media strategies that support your brand and let you have a life. I don’t know about you, but I like having social media be something I fit into MY life, rather than the other way around. The big question everyone wants to know is: “How do I get my post to go viral?”

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First, we need to understand what kinds of posts get shared extensively and why.

There are many many schools of thought on what gets others to share your content, but I decided to go with science because we want results that can be duplicated. Scientific American published a fascinating article that concluded the following:

“..content that elicits an emotional reaction tends to be more widely shared. In addition, stories stimulating positive emotions are more widely shared than those eliciting negative feelings, and content that produces greater emotional arousal (making your heart race) is more likely to go viral. This means that content that makes readers or viewers feel a positive emotion like awe or wonder is more likely to take off online than content that makes people feel sad or angry, though causing some emotion is far better than inspiring none at all.”


For max impact, I’d recommend focusing on the following types of content:

1. Lots of photos and branded graphics.

Whether it’s photo platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, or more chat-based media like Twitter and Facebook, photos are more likely to grab attention and get shared. In fact, Facebook algorithms always show a photo before a link. That means, even if you’re going to include a link, be sure to put your photo in first. Better yet, add the link in the comments so the Facebook status update is all about your gorgeous photo.

Make your photos awesome! I recommend Laura Drake’s Canva post for help with this. Also, here’s a good social media rule set to live by from Sendible.

2. Short videos provide traction.

This can be achieved by a Facebook Live, a quick Snapchat video, or just some vid you shoot on your phone. The key word here is short. NO more than five minutes. Preferably, no more than three minutes. Get in, say what you want to say, and get out.

Don’t be afraid to edit your video! You don’t have to learn a program like Camtasia to do this. YouTube has tons of editing tools that are free with your YouTube account. Plus, it’s owned by Google, which means your videos here will show up higher in the search rankings. Score!

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

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Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

Thank you to Peggy Sansevieri for this fascinating book marketing article which previously appeared on Writers in the Storm.

By now most authors know the importance of choosing great keywords on Amazon, but Amazon’s categories are equally important. Choosing the right categories can boost your exposure. And exposure drives book sales.

So, while it’s good to spend a lot of time focusing on keywords, you should also focus on finding narrow categories on Amazon. The reason to look narrow is this: categories with fewer books have lower competition for the #1 spot. And the top ten is a great place to hit, not only because it creates more visibility for your book, but Amazon’s algorithms kick in as you start to spike within categories.

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The BIG Secret about Amazon Categories

When speaking to a contact at Amazon recently, she told me they had rolled out ten categories for each book. Which means that instead of just two categories, you can have up to ten for each of your titles. Why is this good? Well, the more categories your book has, the more places it will show up. And because you have more flexibility now, you can pick some super niche categories, along with less niche ones. This is especially good in markets where there aren’t a ton of niches. Business books often sit in this segment. Having more categories levels the playing field a bit more.

How to Choose the Right Categories

First, when I talk about Amazon categories (and in previous posts I’ve done for this blog), you’ve probably noticed that I always refer to the eBook side of Amazon. This is because the categories on the eBook side are more creative because there are more of them.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book by Angela Ackerman

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Guest Post: How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book by Angela Ackerman

Many thanks to Angela Ackerman for this guest post, first published on Jane Friedman’s website.

Today’s guest post is from writing coach and author Angela Ackerman (@angelaackerman).


As a writing coach and avid user of social media, one of the most heartbreaking things I see is when an author puts a ton of effort into writing, editing, polishing, and finally publishing a book—only to see it fail to gain traction in the marketplace. Often this comes down to a marketing misstep that’s all too common: failing to understand (and therefore reach) one’s ideal book audience.

I’ve posted about how to find your book’s ideal audience before, so I won’t wander down the same trail. Instead, I want to look at another piece of the marketing map that can greatly improve your success rate with reaching your audience: influencers.

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What Is an Influencer?

Influencers are the people who are already doing a great job of connecting with your ideal audience, because it is their audience too. They have a good reputation, are visible, and they interact with your potential readers every day. Hmmm, sounds like people we should get to know, right? Exactly!

Influencers are not one-size-fits-all. Each author will have different ones depending on the audience they are trying to reach. However, one common ingredient with any influencer is that they are worthy of our admiration for the trust and respect they’ve earned with their audience. And admiration is a key ingredient of any healthy relationship—but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Influencers for a fiction author might be:

  • popular authors who write very similar books
  • bloggers who are passionate about a topic or theme that ties into the author’s book
  • well-regarded book reviewers
  • bookstore owners
  • librarians
  • organizers of literacy or book programs and events
  • teachers and instructors
  • groups and organizations that cover the same specific interest featured in the author’s book
  • celebrities (hey, it can’t hurt, right?)
  • businesses that cater to the same audience as the author’s in some way
  • forums and websites dedicated to the same topic/event/theme explored in the author’s book
  • well-connected individuals (who endorse the book or author to other influential people)
  • people who are passionate about a particular topic/theme (that ties into the author’s book)
  • fans of the author and her work (if the author is established)

And that’s just the start!

Because influencers are recognized and have clout with your shared audience, they can really help you reach your readers. Not only that, but they are a living, breathing example of how to connect with your audience the right way. There is much to be learned by examining how an influencer engages with others online. In fact, if you want to see an example, check out this post by Author Accelerator’s Jennie Nash, who wrote about shadowing me online. (I had no idea, so this was eye-opening for me as well.)

When you determine who an influencer is, it isn’t just a matter of you asking them to help you. People are generally busy, and whoever you’re approaching likely works very hard if they hold a position of influence. They may already have a lot on their plate.

This might sound like a closed door, but it isn’t. It just means that, as in most things, there’s no marketing shortcut, and honestly there shouldn’t be, because we’re talking about creating a relationship with someone. Relationships, to work, need to come from a place of sincerity. Healthy ones are balanced, with each party giving and receiving.

How to Reach Out to an Influencer

Angela Ackerman

Angela Ackerman

When you’re seeking to engage with an influencer, your heart needs to be in the right place, so choose carefully. Get to know this person. Admire their work. Because if you truly appreciate what they do, you will naturally want to help them further succeed. And while of course you hope they’ll return the favor, that’s not your endgame. Creating a relationship is.

Sometimes an influencer will already know you. Maybe you are in the same circles, and have a friendly connection. In that case, it’s really just about you making it a priority to actively show you care. This can be done by trying to boost their visibility however you can (tweeting, mentioning, sharing links to their work, talking about them and their work online, recommending them, etc.), and lending a hand here and there because you want to. Think about what they need to better reach their audience, and then proactively help them do it. Tag them online. The relationship should naturally grow because they will see what you’re doing and will want to do the same for you in return. Helping each other out leads to collaboration, and with a shared audience, this becomes a win-win for both of you.

If you don’t yet have a relationship with an influencer, the first step is getting on their radar. To do this, think about what your strengths are, and what you can give. Put yourself in their shoes: what would you like help with in their position? If they are an author, a business owner, or an organization, visibility is usually welcome. So, how can you give them a shout out and help your shared audience find them? Can you blog about them, or recommend them in some way? Or what about sending a personal note to let them know you admire their work and what they do for others, and that you’d like to help if they ever need it?

If it’s a librarian, a teacher, or a nonprofit group, maybe there’s some way you can use your skills to help them. Can you volunteer your time? Show that you appreciate what they are doing, be it promoting literacy or an interest you share (because it will tie into your books, remember)? Perhaps you noticed they mentioned in a blog post that they wanted to know more about something and so you do a bit of research and send along a few interesting links their way. In all things, seek to provide value.

Generally speaking, when you consistently help someone or show interest in what they do (influencer or not), they will notice and appreciate it. A relationship naturally forms—they will want to know more about you. That’s your goal: to create a friendship that feels natural and authentic, and to have the type of connection where either of you can help, ask for advice, brainstorm ideas, and possibly collaborate with in ways that can help you both. In this way, you both grow and benefit.

Remember Anyone Can Be an Influencer

Are you cultivating strong relationships with the people you interact with day to day? I hope so! It’s just as important as seeking someone “established.” After all, a writer who asked you to look over their query letter might end up selling a five-book mega-deal a year from now. Or be affiliated with an organization looking for a speaker or visiting author. Maybe that blogger you contacted as a source of knowledge on a certain topic may become a huge fan of your work and want to help the world discover you.

Bottom line, wouldn’t you just love it if one day someone came to you and offered to put your name forward because they liked and admired you? So, adopt the mindset of a giver. Ask yourself what value you can add, what you can do for others. If you can help, do, because you never know when it will come back to you tenfold. (This is coming from someone who knows this firsthand!)

How Do You Find Your Influencers?

Determine who your exact audience is. Then, pay attention to the movers and shakers who interact with this group. These might be authors, businesses, special interest groups, forums, bloggers, and other individuals that produce content or a product that ties into the same topic, interest, theme, or element that you have written about.

To help with this, I put together something I call the Influencer Hot Sheet. This will show you what to look for to find your exact audience influencers, how to break down what they do online that helps them be successful (so you can do the same), and finally, ideas on how to build a relationship with them.

You can find it and many other marketing handouts on my Tools for Writers page.

Happy writing and marketing!


You can visit Angela at her sites for writers, Writers Helping Writers and One Stop for Writers.

Authors: 22 Quick Tips For Getting More Retweets!

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Authors: 22 Quick Tips For Getting More Retweets!

Thank you to good people at Web Design Relief for today’s guest post.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief, a highly recommended author website design service. We understand writers and their marketing goals and seek to design websites specific to those needs. Visit our site today to learn more.

Previously posted on February 12, 2015 by Web Design Relief Staff.

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When it comes to spreading the word about your writing, you may already know about the power of Twitter. But tweeting regularly is just the first step in making Twitter work for you—you also want your Twitter followers to retweet (or RT) your tweets. To get more retweets to boost your reach, increase followers, and build your readership, try these tips!

How To Get More Retweets (For Authors)

  1. Share shortened links. Twitter users love interesting content. Just be sure to shorten links using a site like bitly.
  1. Ask for retweets. Though it may feel presumptuous, you’re more likely to see your tweet retweeted if you ask readers to “Please RT!”
  1. Talk about something other than yourself. What you had for breakfast may be interesting, but mundane tweets don’t offer practical info that’s fun to pass along.
  1. Be clever, funny, and surprising. If you are going to share observations from your daily life, be sure your commentary is scintillating. In other words, tweet like a creative writer! The wittier your tweet, the more likely it will be shared.
  1. Spread breaking news. When news hits the headlines in your field, be among the first to share it with your followers, and you’ll be more likely to see your tweet retweeted.
  1. RT other people’s links and news. Not only does this show you’re a community player, but YOU could get more followers by sharing other people’s cool tips, links, and news.
  1. Share quotations (using quotation marks). Twitter users love pithy quotes, especially when those quotes use quotation marks. Punctuation wins! And if the person you’re quoting is on Twitter, use their Twitter handle: @AUTHORHANDLE.
  1. Vary your content. Keep your readers coming back to your feed by posting lots of different kinds of posts, from personal observations, to videos, to retweeted news.
  1. Offer practical, helpful info. When a reader can actually make practical use of info in a tweet, it’s more likely to be retweeted.
  1. Share promos and good deals. Heard of a great deal on a book? Or is your own book on sale? People love to save money (and RT deals, contests, and opportunities).
  1. Be conversational but grammatical. Avoid stiff language. Be smart about your grammar—no one wants to retweet a mistake! Learn to write shorter tweets.
  1. Use one or two hashtags (and no more). Find out more about hashtags here.
  1. Ask questions. Engage your followers with simple questions (Example: Do your prefer pen or pencil? E-book or paperback?) that can be easily retweeted. And leave room for a reply. Include a short hashtag too!
  1. Come up with ideas for RTing games. Start an online rhyming game or a poetry game, and ask for retweets from players.
  1. Give prizes for RTs. Host a contest with a giveaway. Users must retweet to enter to win.
  1. Don’t overcapitalize. Twitter readers tend to prefer tweets to be capitalized the way that sentences are capitalized. Avoid ALL CAPS.
  1. Share videos and images. Posts with a visual component are especially popular.
  1. Tweet on the weekends. To reach individuals (as opposed to businesses), some experts suggest tweeting on the weekends. You can schedule your tweets to boost your efficiency.
  1. Tweet during the day. There’s a bit of disagreement about the best time to tweet, but many experts point to afternoons (Eastern Time) for the highest activity. Experiment to discover what works best for your audience.
  1. Tweet a lot. Twitter success can depend on the volume of your tweets. In other words, the more you tweet, the more likely you’ll get retweets.
  1. Don’t commit any of the eleven deadly sins of social networking.
  1. Be excited! When you share an exciting piece of news (with exclamation points), people are happy to pass along the happy!

Photo by marek.sotak

QUESTION: Are you on Twitter? Post a link to your profile!