Authors, If it Ain’t Broke…

May 23rd, 2015

We’ve all heard (and used) the term—“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what if it IS broken? What if your book sales are not what you had expected or hoped for? What if your promotional efforts (or lack of) are not producing sales? Then it’s time to change your tactics.

People ask me why my Klepto Cat Mystery books aren’t available for the Nook, for example. Well, Amazon offers an exclusive package through their Kindle Direct Program and, since sales have been amazing from the start of my relationship with this program, I haven’t considered making a change. I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to sell even more books, however, and to get more exposure for them. Wouldn’t you?

Are your book sales meeting your expectations? Maybe you’re offering your novel in print form only and sales are disappointing. I can tell you that novelists are devouring books on e-readers. Consider formatting your book for Kindle, Nook, etc. and see what happens.

Of course, you’d better also be promoting your book like crazy—getting exposure for your book. Contact reviewers of books in your genre, visit blog sites and websites related to the genre and post something, go out and talk about your book, build your own website and offer irresistible content—contests, fun facts about the era or topic of your book, etc.

Another way to ramp up your sales is to add to your “merchandise.” Create a series. The more books you have, the more sales you can expect. If your cover or the theme of your book is a real eye-catcher, offer coffee mugs, pens, note cards, t-shirts…

I’m a believer in opportunistic promotion. In other words, always carry bookmarks and offer a couple to someone you see wearing a t-shirt depicting the theme of your book–a cat, horse, antique car, movie or cartoon character, for example. Leave bookmarks lying around in restrooms, on picnic tables, on the bulletin board at the library… Carry a book with you and pull it out when you’re having lunch, sitting on a park bench, waiting for a plane. Yeah, read your own book. What better way to capture the attention of other readers…

Sure some of these suggestions won’t necessary garner huge numbers of sales, but these are things you can do in the course of your ordinary day. Why spend a day out among potential readers and not use the opportunity to get exposure for your book? In fact, you can wear a t-shirt with your book cover on the front—or back, have jewelry fashioned to represent your book title or theme, wear a baseball cap with the book’s title or carry a tote bag with the cover on it.

Be brash or be subtle, but do something that’s going to get your book noticed. If you don’t, who will? And if no one does, your book will die a very fast death.

If you’re still confused or intimidated by this thing called book promotion, be sure to read “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.” www.matilijapress.com/PromoteYourBook.html Also available at Amazon in print, for Kindle and audio.

 

Understanding Reader Reviews

May 16th, 2015

You’ll hear people say, “Don’t pay any attention to your book reviews—they’re meaningless.”

Well, I beg to differ. I find both positive and negative reviews often helpful. Not all of them, of course. There are mean-spirited people who leave nasty reviews. There are readers who download Kindle books free just because they’re free even though it isn’t the type of book they would ever read. And they have the gall to leave a review—a negative review, of course.

No, those reviews should be ignored. Let’s focus on the two types of reviews that can be helpful.

  • Rave reviews. As authors, we love positive feedback. We thrive on compliments and accolades. The 5-star reviews with a gush of praise let us know we have an audience and they enjoy our stories or find our nonfiction books useful. Positive reviews keep us writing. We can use phrases from these reviews in our promotion—for back cover copy, etc. And numbers of these reviews serve to influence other readers—or at least we can hope they do.
  • Critical reviews. Oh do we hate to see a minimal line of stars next to a new review and we shudder when we read a complaint or unfavorable comment. Granted, some of them are a bit unfair. I’ve had readers ding one of my Klepto Cat Mysteries simply because they don’t like cats, they were uncomfortable with the discussion about the plight of feral cats, they disagreed with a word I used, etc. But I’ve also learned a lot from reviewers and reader-reviewers. I have used the wrong word. I have drawn outside the lines when it comes to being true to my genre. I have forgotten to cross a T or dot an i occasionally and I appreciate it when an astute reader or reviewer points it out.

Certainly, I’d rather they contact me personally rather than blast it on my Klepto Cat Mystery page at Amazon. I’m very easy to find on the Internet. But I do take all comments to heart and act on those that it makes sense to. If it is a suggestion about my style of writing or the way my storyline flows, for example, and if I agree, I consider this for the next book in the series.

If you’re an author, you’ve probably learned that not every reader sees the same thing in the books they read. If you’re not yet published, prepare yourself. Take a look at the reviews for my Klepto Cat Mystery books and you’ll see what I mean. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

How to Create Your Garden of Readin’

May 13th, 2015

It occurs to me that book promotion is something like gardening (or dieting, or parenting). Think about it, there are no absolutes in book promotion. What works for one author and one book might not work for another. Isn’t this true of gardening, dieting, and parenting? Your garden tomatoes might thrive one year and struggle the next. They might grow well in one spot and shrivel up in another. The diet plan that trims your friend’s figure, might add inches to your waist. Likewise, the method of weight-loss you used in your twenties, may not work when you’re in your fifties.

Book promotion is another one of those unpredictable activities. However, as in gardening, for example, there are some constants. Garden plants needs soil, light, food, and water. A book needs an audience. In a garden, our goal is fresh vegetables or, perhaps, a lovely landscape. Our goal as an author is readers—interested, paying readers. But, in either case, how we achieve the goal may differ tremendously.

There are hundreds of methods of book promotion. Sometimes it takes experimentation to discover those that work for you and for your particular project. But it is imperative that you know who your specific audience is, that you write for that audience and, when it comes time to promote it, you know where your readers are, and how to approach them. Then you must nurture them—keep your book in front of them, constantly remind them of the benefits to buying your book, and make it easy for them to purchase it.

The next time you decide to stick a plant into the soil, you’ll be more successful if you consider, not where you want it to grow, but where it will have the best chance to survive. If you apply the same concept to your next book—if you write the book your audience wants and keep them in mind while you’re writing it—it will have a better chance for success.

To learn more about publishing and book promotion read Patricia Fry’s books, “Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author” and “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven , Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author.” Coming soon from Patricia Fry and Allworth Press, “Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction and Children’s Books.”

 

A shout-out for “Publish Your Book”

May 12th, 2015

Check out Matthew Arnold Stern’s blog this morning. He talks about my book, “Publish Your Book,” and how much it helps authors.

http://www.matthewarnoldstern.com/creative-writing/why-you-should-write-a-marketing-plan-before-you-write-your-book.html

The Reveal: How Many Books Have We Sold?

May 11th, 2015

I’m starting to get requests for interviews from newspaper reporters and radio show hosts and I know how important it is to give some sort of real sales figures. So I took time yesterday to go over all of my carefully compiled statements at Amazon. Wow! To date, we’ve sold over 40,000 Kindle copies of the Klepto Cat Mysteries and we’ve given away an additional 12,000 Kindle books during some of the promotions Amazon offers authors.

I published the first Klepto Cat Mystery as a Kindle book in June of 2013. These are sales figures through March of 2015.

What are my secrets to success? Well, there are actually no secrets. I (and other professionals) have been teaching and preaching three major concepts for years.

  • Write what is wanted/needed by a segment of readers. And then write for that reader—keep the reader in mind throughout the entire writing process.
  • Hire a good book editor before launching that book.
  • Promote, promote, promote. No one will buy a book they don’t know exists. Books need exposure. It is up to the author to know who his audience is, where they are, and how to approach them. Then you must do the legwork—go ahead and approach them, entice them. And continually remind them to read your book. Nudge them, give them incentives to read your book instead of (or along with) the others in this genre or topic.

If you write fiction, consider publishing your books for Kindle. We first publish each of our Klepto Cat Mysteries (revved up cozy (or light) mysteries), for Kindle. We have 10 books currently published for Kindle. We then follow up with print copies. Six of the books in this series are in print. But they sure don’t sell as well as the Kindle books do.

Now this is not true across the board. We sell more print copies of my books for authors—“Publish Your Book,” “Promote Your Book,” and “Talk Up Your Book,”—than we do Kindle or audio books. But we’ve learned that the majority of those who read fiction, do so on their e-readers.

I hope this bit of advice from someone who has experienced it will help you to enjoy the success you desire. It’s not easy. It may be a stretch for you to write within a popular genre when you’d rather write your memoir, for example. But if you want publishing success, it is important that you follow these suggestions.

If you’re curious about the Klepto Cat Mystery series or you know someone who would enjoy reading a light mystery involving cats, here’s the link to the Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

 

Marketing Help for Novelists

April 30th, 2015

Novelists are starting to get it! That is, they’re beginning to understand that they, too, must market their books. And those authors who are marketing, are selling.

I received a note this morning from Elinor Florence, long-time journalist and new author of Birds Eye View, a historical novel. She has logged a dozen marketing dos and don’ts for novelists at her blog site and used some of my ideas in her post. Read it!

http://www.allysonlatta.ca/2015/04/28/12-book-marketing-dos-and-donts-from-novelist-elinor-florence/

 

10 of My Favorite Bloggers and Book Reviewers

April 26th, 2015

Today I’d like to do a shout-out for some of my favorite bloggers. Naturally, they either feature cats and/or books on their blog sites; preferably both.

Dru’s Book Musings http://drusbookmusings.com. Here, you’ll find reviews by Dru because she believes that “reading is a wonderful adventure.” And how better can an avid reader justify his/her time reading than to post book reviews and guests posts?

Fur Everywhere. http://www.fureverywhere.blogspot.com Sierra reviews books, talks about cat health and antics and the photo she shares across the top of her blog site is absolutely charming. If you’re looking for more blogs relating to cats, check out her large list of them—scroll down and look to the right side of the page for the links. Her goal is to “inform and entertain cat owners and lovers.”

Cat Chat with Caren and Cody http://www.catchatwithcarenandcody.com Caren reviews books and products related to cats and offers book giveaways. This site is informative and entertaining.

Mochas, Mysteries, and Meows is a fun place to visit. http://mochasmysteriesmeows.com. Melissa and Truffles host book and product reviews, guests posts and they feature Caturday Art, Tortie Shorties and Truffles even conducts her own interviews. According to Melissa, this site is for everyone who enjoys the cozy moments in life.

The Conscious Cat is another important site for cat people. http://consciouscat.net Here, Ingrid King hopes to present “conscious living, health, and happiness for cats and their humans.” Yup, you’ll find book reviews, product reviews and many articles featuring the health and well-being of our precious cats.

Socrates Book Reviews http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com. Yvonne is most interested in cozy mysteries. She provides a gigantic list of other blogs she follows, but it’s hard to find. To locate this list, click on “View my complete profile” on the right panel of any page.

Michelle, at Miki’s Hope reviews a wide range of books. Check out this site here: http://wwwmikishope.com

Ellen Pilch has a lot of fun on her site,15andmeowing. http://www.15andmeowing.com Here, you’ll find cats galore.

Kitty Crochet is a blog about writing, reading and stitching. http://kittycrochettwo.blogspot.com. Here, Brenda posts book reviews. She, as well as most of the others, also host blog tours.

Mum’s Writings, Mysteries and More http://bookread-mumswritings.blogspot.com. Here, Dee shares and discusses books—even those involving cats.

 

 

FREE Cozy Mystery With Cats!

April 23rd, 2015

FREE Cozy Mystery

Catnapped, the first in the Klepto Cat Mystery Series is FREE today and tomorrow. If you’d like to experience a cozy (light) mystery involving interesting people and pretentious cats, this is a good time to do it. Download your Kindle copy here: http://www.amazon.com/Catnapped-Klepto-Cat-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00DAHFS1G/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1429622111&sr=8-4&keywords=catnapped

Be a Gracious Counter-Promoter

April 22nd, 2015

How many times have you worked hard on a promotional piece for your amazing book, only to have a recipient slam you back with his promotion? Perhaps you’ve made it a habit to respond to someone else’s book announcement with your own promotional blast. Not nice, in my opinion, and kind of a slap in the face, don’t you think?

Okay, here’s my take on this. We’re all working hard to have our books noticed. Those of you who’ve stepped into the shark-infested waters of publishing know that it’s not an easy swim. It’s a lot of work keeping sales up, maintaining an interest in your book, getting word out to new readers. In fact, it’s a rather constant activity. Keep in mind that other authors are going through pretty much the same struggles you are.

Most of us don’t enter into the big book promotion race with a marketing background. Many authors are downright timid, embarrassed, and even repulsed by the necessity of promotion. Others are so gung-ho they even step outside the bounds of courtesy.

Are you’re one of those (and I’ve met several) who, when you receive a new book announcement or other promotional piece, you immediately return the “favor” in the form of your own promotional material? Why not first acknowledge the sender? If you have the time and incentive to send something, why not make it generous—“Hey, congrats on your new book (accomplishment, award, milestone, etc.).” Maybe establish a dialog with the other author, “Love your title.” “Who did your cover?” “What’s been your best promotional ploy?” THEN, if you must, promote your book back. It’s okay, in my opinion, it’s just that I’d like to see a little more give as well as take—a tad of finesse—a more gracious approach. Wouldn’t you?

Yesterday, many of you received my promo piece announcing my 50th published book and the 10th in the Klepto Cat Mystery series.

PAWtners in Crime is now ready for your Kindle. Order it here: http://www.amazon.com/PAWtners-Crime-Klepto-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00WFSE646/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429620489&sr=1-11&keywords=patricia+fry+klepto+cat

Catnapped, the first in the Klepto Cat Mystery series is FREE April 22- 24, 2015. These Kindle books are selling at a rate of one- to three-thousand copies per month. Get your FREE Kindle copy of book number one—Catnapped—and find out what all the excitement is about. http://www.amazon.com/Catnapped-Klepto-Cat-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00DAHFS1G/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1429622111&sr=8-4&keywords=catnapped

 

 

 

Times, They Are a-Changing at LATFB

April 20th, 2015

I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (LATFB) as a visitor this year for the first time. Over the last nearly 20 years, generally, I’m either selling books from a booth or—most often—running a booth for SPAWN. This year I was simply a visitor: no schlepping of tables, clothes, extra chairs, books, sign-up sheets, etc. No long conversations with dozens and dozens of visitors seeking information and resources related to publishing. No quick meal breaks. No exhaustion at the end of each day. Instead, with a good friend, I roamed through the rows and rows of booths, sat down and took my time eating a fabulous lunch, sprawled out on a swatch of grass and chatted, and arrived home feeling fairly refreshed.

I must say that I missed the excitement of being in the SPAWN booth and the camaraderie among the members who participate. I missed meeting and greeting all the many authors and hopeful authors who come to SPAWN seeking guidance; and the wonderful feeling of having helped.

I guess once you’ve been a mentor (of sorts) through so many speaking engagements, workshops, articles and books, as well as by being available at numerous book festivals to teach and preach, the helping aspect kind of gets in your blood.

I hope all of you who attended the LATFB had a positive experience, met some fascinating authors, bought some great books, and stopped in at the SPAWN booth for some wise words of advice and inspiration. It was there, it just wasn’t me providing it this year.

If you do have questions about the crazy world of publishing, read my book: “Publish Your Book.” If you are an author with a book to promote, buy “Promote Your Book.” If you want to do some public speaking or need help in talking to potential customers, consider reading my book, “Talk Up Your Book.” All by me—Patricia Fry—and all available in print, for Kindle and audio at Amazon.com and most other online and downtown bookstores.