Jeanne: Selling Books with Instagram

Instagram logoInstagram is, hands down, my favorite social media application. I love how visual it is. I love how it doesn’t lend itself to angry discussions. I have less love for the selfies you find there, but in every pot of honey there are bound to be a few bee parts.

Anyway, for the past couple of years I’ve been using my Instagram account to post pictures of wildflowers that I take while hiking. I am not really a visual person, but I hike with an artist who has been wonderful about helping me understand lighting and composition, at least in this very narrow context. As a result, my IG page is loaded with reasonably attractive pictures of flowers.

I’ve heard a lot of discussions about how great IG is for selling books, but I’m not clear on how to do that. (Unless you run ads. If you’re willing/able to spend beaucoup bucks, I’m sure it works very well.) Unless your post is an ad, Instagram doesn’t allow you to include a working link there, only in your profile. Given people’s dislike of extra clicks, that suggests IG is not a good platform for sales.

So what’s the deal?

Last Sunday I took an Instagram class, taught by Kat Coroy. She explained that Instagram is more of a relationship-building tool. If people come to associate your posts with things they enjoy seeing and a consistent theme, it will predispose them to buying a book from you when the time is right.

That works for me. I dislike being on the receiving end of the hard sell so I’d never want to be on the giving end.

Without poaching material Kat has created and uses to make her living, I invite you to go look at her page and compare it with mine.

While mine won’t make you want to poke your eyes out with a tuning fork, it’s definitely several steps down from Kat’s. And, realistically, it’s never going to look anywhere that gorgeous. But it’s also clear that with a little bit of work and planning, I can spruce it up and have a very nice page that just might make people think, “I’d like to read a book of hers.”

My plans for next year include:

  1. Identifying colors and fonts to brand my page.
  2. Selecting short quotations from my published books and works-in-process.
  3. Alternating flower pictures with quotes to make my page look more like Kat’s.
  4. Interspersing pictures of my book covers (and maybe even an ad or two!).

I’m also taking a class on Instagram for Authors that is being offered by my RWA chapter in January, so I’m hoping to learn even more. I’ll post an update when I’ve made some progress.

What about you? Are there any social media apps you’ve found useful in selling or promoting books?

 

Jeanne: Selling Books the Old-Fashioned Way

Indy Bookstore Day 2019On Saturday I attended a book-signing at New and Olde Pages, a local bookstore, in honor of Independent Bookstore Day, where I sold seven books. That may not sound like much, but it’s twice what I’ve sold on Amazon in the past week, including my KU reads. (On Sunday I had to suspend my “trickle” ad when the trickle became a flood thanks to Christmas shoppers who apparently clicked on my ad only to remember that they weren’t shopping for themselves. Since the Zon charges per click, this is the worst possible outcome. Like many other authors at this time of year, I had to suspend my advertising.)

For an author with only two books on the market, selling seven books in an afternoon is a very nice result. It wasn’t especially profitable, because I bought books from two other authors there (of course), but it was an enjoyable afternoon of chatting with potential readers. It was also, for an introvert, insanely stressful. When I got home I walked in the door, ordered up a drink (it’s lovely when your husband is also your bartender) and proceeded to binge on Spider Solitaire while listening to the soundtrack from Hadestown for a couple of hours while I unwound.

(If you’ve never heard Why We Build the Wall, it’s absolutely haunting.)

As I write this post on Sunday morning, though, I’m largely recovered from the ordeal of talking to other human beings and I think hand-sales is something I need to pursue more aggressively in 2020. I believe in my books. I think they’re funny and thought-provoking, with unique and compelling characters. And when I talk to people face-to-face, this comes through persuasively.

So one of my goals for 2020 will be to approach independent bookstores and ask if they’ll take my books on consignment (or order through Lightning Spark). There are only a couple of Indies here in the Dayton area, but there are more in Cincinnati and Columbus. I also plan to approach the local library systems and see if they’d be willing to stock it.

Which means I’ll need to talk to people again.

Is 9 a.m. too early to start drinking?

 

Justine: Drip Campaigns (aka Automation) for New Authors

email marketingI recently switched over my email service from MailChimp to MailerLite (for a detailed explanation of why, read this post by David Gaughran). Mind you, I hadn’t sent any emails to my 46 subscribers since last November, and I figured (now that my kitchen reno is done and the kids are back in school) it was time to saddle up the ‘ol marketing horse again.

At the same time, I’m planning some FB ads in the near future to spread the word about my free short story (which is also a backstory to my first upcoming book His Lady to Protect) and hopefully help drum up newsletter subscribers prior to its release later this year.

However, before I go gung-ho on the FB ads, I wanted to make sure I had a drip campaign–also know as “automation”–set up for my new subscribers. Continue reading

Jeanne: Looking for Mr. One-Click

As regular readers my know, my first book continues to win prizes but it’s not not selling like I’d hoped.demon_wins_1500--POD

Feedback from experts suggested that my original cover wasn’t working for me.

A local bookseller had an issue with the snake. “People are afraid of snakes,” she said. “They won’t pick up something with a snake on it.”

Hmm.

A couple of author friends who sell a lot of books had a more basic criticism. “Your cover doesn’t say romance.”

And I never did like the fact that it was so hard to read the title.

When I had that first cover made, a marketing friend who had read an early draft suggested going with an “object cover”—that is, a cover with an object rather than a person—with the intention of trying for cross-genre sales. Continue reading

Michaeline: Twittering Tropes for New Book Promotion

There’s a new Twitter marketing strategy that caught my eye recently. List a bunch of tropes that describe your book, and then add the links for purchase or preorder.

Jackie Lau's Ice Cream Lover offers: 1) opposites attract, 2) paint-your-own unicorn party, 3) unicorn onesie, 4) dumplings, 5) foodie six-year-old and 6) grandmother who discovers texting.

Jackie Lau caught my attention with the ice cream, and the foodie six-year-old was a joy, and not just a plot moppet.

I haven’t seen this before, but then again, I don’t get around much, so maybe it’s a thing. Maybe everyone is doing it, and I just haven’t seen it before. But . . . it looks like a really good idea, and I’m going to pretend that you are as in the dark as I was.

I first noticed when Jackie Lau did it for Ice Cream Lover. Jackie just showed up suddenly on my phone Twitter feed, and I was in the mood for ice cream and romance . . . and that’s how I ended up following her. She had me at ice cream; add in an #AsianRomCom, and I bought her book. And boy, it was good! Ice cream, sexy scenes of the like I’ve never seen in romance before (do note: I don’t get around much), a bi-cultural heroine and Continue reading

Jeanne: About That Cover…

Recently, a friend messaged me about a bookstore in a nearby town that she thought would be willing to stock my book(s), so last Tuesday I went to visit New & Olde Pages Book Shoppe in Englewood, OH.

I explained why I was there and the proprietress said, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

I pulled a copy of The Demon Always Wins from the small box of books I’d brought with me and held it out to her.

demon_wins_1500--POD

“That’s a problem,” she said. Continue reading

Jeanne: Happy (Book) Birthday to Me!

demon's in the details ebook cover

The second book in my Touched by a Demon series comes out today!

It’ll be a cold day in Hell before artist Keeffe Blackmon gives up the statue created by her late mother, a world-famous inspirational sculptor. Keeffe’s not selling—not even to a man as rich as devil’s food cake and handsome as sin—the gorgeous but morally repulsive billionaire Seth McCall. That is, until Keeffe decodes a fiendish contract and discovers she has just one month to prove she’s earning a living with her art or lose her sculpture forever.

Demons will ice skate on the Lake of Fire before Satan puts Abaddon, aka Bad, the demon of sloth and Hell’s brainiest minion, back in charge of Hell’s technology hub. But when Satan’s stooge McCall fails to acquire the powerful statue, Bad seizes his chance. To win back his job, Bad offers to possess McCall and, with the unbeatable combination of McCall’s good looks and his own smarts, melt Keeffe into selling him the sculpture.

As Keeffe races to complete a mural in McCall’s McMansion and earn the cash she needs to keep her statue, the billionaire blows hot one minute and cold the next. It’s almost as if he’s two different men: one a jerk, the other sweet and nerdy—and hot as Hell.

Aboveworld for the first time, Bad finds out his heart is even bigger than his brain. He is entranced by Sedona’s stunning landscape and seduced by Keeffe’s passion for art, life and the man she thinks she sees in McCall.

Bad may be the smartest demon in Hell—but is he smart enough to win Keeffe’s trust and ice Satan’s devilish plan to destroy Sedona?

You can check it out on Amazon in either ebook or print format.