Authors: Do You Know Where Your ACX Promo Codes Are?

acx_logoDid you know that once you complete an audiobook for ACX that you’ll receive 25 promo codes that you can use to give away copies of your new book? I actually didn’t know that until recently. It’s pretty cool of ACX to want to help you jump-start the review process for your book. You can give these codes to anyone you want — professional reviewers, your grandmother, social media fans, anyone who is an audiobook listener.

Author and podcast extraordinaire Paul Teague turned me on to Audiobook Boom!, which, for 10 bucks, will get your title in front of thousands of audiobook listeners. I used a good chunk of my Baby Grand codes through Audiobook Boom!, and I also used them to gift books as prizes for contests I held on Facebook, Twitter, and through my email list. You can either distribute the codes directly to listeners or use the codes yourself to gift the book for listeners (this guarantees that listeners use the credit for YOUR book and not someone else’s). Within a few days, my rating went from a dismal one-star review to a string of four- and five-star reviews. Woo hoo!

Currently, I’m working on the audiobook for Baby Bailino, the sequel to Baby Grand, and I’m already thinking up some fun caption contests to run when I receive my promo codes. Last week at #DBWIndie in New York City, it was reported that in 2016 more than 3 million audiobooks were self-published by indie authors. It’s a big market, and if you want a piece of it, you have to find ways to boost your discoverability. I’m not saying these codes should be your only promotional tool, but they’re definitely a good start.




Marketing Your Novel WITHOUT Social Media: Press Releases

Although I’m a HUGE proponent of social media with regard to successfully self-publishing a book — seriously, there is no other marketing tool that lets you reach so many people so affordably — in the class I’m currently teaching at Hofstra University there seems to be some (gasp!) resistance to the idea of using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to market novels. Is social media the ONLY way to market a book? Of course not. Is it the BEST way. I say yes. However, I put together some non-social-media tools that novelists can use to boost their visibility and help increase sales. Here’s one of them: the press release.

What is a press release?
A press release is a “news story” that you write about yourself — it is written in a professional manner and in third person. The goal of a press release is, first and foremost, to gain editors’ or reporters’ attention so that your news will be placed in their publication or on their website. You do that by conveying newsworthiness, which means your press release should include the five Ws and one H:

•    Who is this news release about?
•    What has happened that is newsworthy?
•    Where did the newsworthy event take place?
•    When did this happen?
•    How is this newsworthy?
•    Why should I (or my readers) care?

How are press releases sent?
Nowadays, most press releases are sent by email, but you can also use snail mail or fax.

What is the proper press release format?
There are various acceptable formats, but all press releases should include a header, dateline, a paragraph or more of news, and contact information.

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7 Things I Learned About Shooting a Video on the Cheap

I have been meaning to shoot a few promotional videos for Baby Grand to put up on my YouTube channel, so yesterday I took (dragged) my daughter, husband and youngest son with me to Hofstra University for a video shoot. My daughter is thinking about a career in directing and my oldest son has expressed an interest in video editing, so I figured why not encourage (take advantage) of these aspirations and get some publicity as well. Well, after an hour of frolicking in the sun on campus, I learned seven important lessons:

  1. Make sure you have a charged battery. If my husband hadn’t come along for the ride, it would have been a very (very!) short shoot. The minute my daughter, who served as camera-person, pressed record for the first take of the afternoon, the screen went black. “I had a feeling that would happen,” my husband said, pulling an extra charged battery out of his knapsack. I didn’t know if I wanted to slug him or hug him. :)
  2. Know your lines. I wanted to kick myself for not having memorized my script. There are so many things that are out of your control during a photo shoot, like the weather or the amount of people milling around if you’re in a public place. The last thing you should have had to worry about is knowing your lines. Lesson learned.
  3. Empty your memory card beforehand. Luckily, it was after an hour of shooting that my memory card screamed, “No more, please!” Otherwise, as I said in Tip #1, it would have been a very short shoot.
  4. Vary your shots. As an undergrad at Hofstra, I took a few television classes so I know a thing or two (but that’s it) about video production. So I had my daughter video me saying the same paragraph several times — while sitting on a bench, while walking, etc. This helps to make your video more interesting and dynamic when it’s put together in post-production.
  5. Have cutaways. Basically, a cutaway is a shot of something different from the main action. In my case, for example, we shot the university’s name on a sign for a few seconds and my legs walking. Cutaways are crucial to the editing process, particularly when you have talent who apparently hasn’t memorized her lines. It gives the video editor options and helps piece together different shots that wouldn’t otherwise go together so that they look cohesive.
  6. If you’re not going to pay your tech people, feed them. And if you’ve got anyone 10 years or younger there for the ride, it might behoove you to feed him BEFORE the photo shoot. It keeps the complaining to a minimum (and while you’re at it, bring a jacket for him too).
  7. Have fun. My daughter and I giggled the entire way through. “I feel like I’m in a writer horror movie!” she squealed when I asked her to walk backwards with the camera as I approached. Sure enough, we watched the playback, and it did. Perhaps an idea for my next book…

Marketing Tips #2 & #3

Promote your author events on social media. Very important. Which leads me to today’s companion tip:

Don’t over-promote your author events on social media. Equally as important.

Today’s marketing tips go hand-in-hand. Those of us who do most of our book promotion online, particularly through social media, know the fine line there is between promoting and over-promoting our work. I’ll bet many of us can point to Tweeters or Facebookers who bombard our home or newsfeeds with nonstop ads for themselves. As supportive as the publishing industry is — and it is! — it can get pretty annoying after a while.

Give and take is what social media is about — and, actually, more giving than taking. The general ratio I strive for — and this differs, depending upon what website you consult — is 7:1. In other words, for every seven tweets or Facebook posts I do, I will do one promotional post, which may mention a new 5-star review Baby Grand has gotten or a contest I’ve entered (did you know that I was nominated for Best Long Island Author?) or a guest post I’ve done. I strive for the vast majority of my posts to be informational (the sharing of interesting blog posts or articles I’ve stumbled across, as well as my own experiences and lessons) and supportive (retweeting good news for fellow authors).

Last Monday, I had my first book signing for Baby Grand — an event I promoted heavily, mostly on Facebook and Twitter. Again, I tried to straddle that fine line between promoting enough and promoting too much. In the end, the event was successful; more than 100 people attended, and I sold a ton of books.

I’ll tell you now… I don’t think anyone would have showed, other than my husband, mom and kids, if I hadn’t promoted this thing for months (periodic reminders, I’ve learned, are good). But I also feel that no one might have showed if I totally alienated all my friends and colleagues with a constant bombardment of promotional posts.

We want people to be happy to see our tweets and posts and blogs. The last thing we want is for people to roll their eyes or, worse, to unfollow or unfriend us because they’re fed up. Although there are those who think that any publicity is good publicity, my feeling is that too much promotion can be worse than none at all.

My First (& Probably Only) Facebook Ad

I’ve had my Facebook Fan Page for a few months, and I’d always seen those little ads on the right side that try to goad you into advertising on Facebook.

I was curious about it, so I decided to give it a try. I created a cute little ad, using my Baby Grand graphic and the easy-to-use Facebook tools, and set a week-long campaign. I didn’t want to spend all that much for this little experiment, so I set a daily budget of $5 for 7 days with a CPC (cost-per-click) set-up. There is a bidding system with Facebok ads that, after reading extensively about it, I still don’t really understand, but basically in order to be seen, you bid with other advertisers to secure ad space. Bid too low, and you don’t get seen — which I learned the first two days, when I ignored the suggested bids and chose to set a bid of 5 cents. On the third day, I caved and set a bid of $1.17 (the low end of Facebook’s suggested bid range) — which I thought was ridiculously high for a suggested bid, considering my daily budget was $5, but whatever.

And voila! The impressions started, and so did the clicks. Few of them, but there they were. At the end of my little week-long campaign, I had about 93,000 impressions and a mere 36 clicks from those (was it my ad copy? my graphic? my intended audience? who knows?). And of those 36, only about 10 or so actually became a fan of my page.

In the end, I spent $30 for 10 fans. Probably not the greatest or most cost-efficient marketing strategy ever attempted, but I have to say my new fans are wonderful and active, and I satisfied my curiosity.

Would I do it again? Probably not. It was fun, but word-of-mouth suits me — and my pocketbook — just fine.