April 12

Offline Marketing Tips To Boost Your Book Sales

offline ways to sell books
Remember the good old days before the internet made everything so gosh-darned easy? Remember driving around with boxes of books in the back of your car, hawking to bookstores and selling at festivals and pretty much pounding the pavement to drum up ALL your sales? No? Well, to be fair, neither do I since I began my writing career online, but I have a point to make, so let me get there. When marketing your book, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world that exists offline. Online marketing can be the easiest, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just marketing online. Get out into the ‘real world’ with these offline marketing tips to sell more books.

When marketing your book, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world that exists offline. Online marketing can be the easiest, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just marketing online. I know several authors who really get out into the community and get engaged with people about their books. Rebecca Patrick-Howard is AH-MAZING at this. So is Tonya Kappes. Both write in extremely different genres, but both know how to make the most of their offline market. Get out into the ‘real world’ with these offline tips to sell more books.

Trust me when I say that it takes more than just ebooks and online marketing to really sell books and grow a fanbase. It also takes a little stepping out into the real world in order to spread the word about your books.

Give stuff away

The best way to get people to read your book is to get it into their hands, so if you have your book in paperback form, buy several copies to give away to potential readers. Give them away to people who are likely to leave you a review on Amazon or Goodreads, and don’t forget to ask if they want their copy signed by the author.

If your book is a children’s book, gift a copy to your local school, your public library, or one of your local daycare centers. Be sure to include information on where parents, teachers, and caregivers can get additional copies. You may want to inquire about doing a ‘free’ reading for one of these places in exchange for allowing the children to take home order forms for your book.

If your book is non-fiction, see if you can find a group or business that deals with the niche you have written about. Look for events that relate to the subject matter of your book and see if you can get involved in some way.

Print up business cards or bookmarks featuring your book. Give these out wherever you go, when appropriate. Make sure your contact information and information on how to order the book is printed on the cards and bookmarks. Whether you just have an ebook or both print and digital copies, get your book’s info into people’s hands and in front of their eyes offline to see more sales online.

Get involved

Ask your library and local bookstores if you can do a free reading or give a presentation about getting your book published. As a local author with experience, you’ll be a welcome authority for many creative writing groups and other people in the community who want to learn how to get their own books published.

Show potential readers why they should buy your books. Let them know you’re not all about “buy my book”, that you actually give a hoot about the community you live in. Get involved in community events like festivals and fairs. Set up a booth so you can sell your books and sign autographs. You may find yourself becoming a local celebrity if you do it often enough.

A word of warning: If you don’t actually care about your community/charity/other great thing and you are in this just to make money, stop reading this and sod off. You’re in it for the wrong reasons, and that never equates to great success.

Always carry copies of your book with you

Even if you never planned on selling print books, have some made up via Createspace. It’s free to set it up, you can grab copies cheaply when you buy directly through CS, and it looks great to have a copy of your book lying around. Besides, some people (like my mom, my aunt, and my friend, children’s book author Elle Alexander) still hate ebooks. Those people (I’m talking to you, Elle!) are diehard hardcopy book fanatics, and they will never, ever read your book.

Here’s one more tip that’s great if you want an instant conversation starter or just a reminder of why you’re writing your books.  Save a copy of your book’s cover to your cell phone, then set it as your wallpaper/screensaver. I change mine whenever I release a new book. If I get tired of looking at the same cover, it’s a great reminder that it’s time to release the next book!

ebook as wallpaper

(Here’s mine…that’s one of my pen name books, and my fat writer’s fingers!)

You never know when you’ll be able to spark up a conversation about your book. Be proud of being a published author; it’s not easy writing an entire book and learning how to format it for print. Be ready to answer questions about your book and the process you used to get it finished. You never know who you’ll run into throughout your day to day life. You might be surprised to find that there are lots of people out there ‘in the real world’ that would love to know more about you and your books, they just have to know where to find them.

What are your personal favorite ways to market your books offline? Please share with the rest of the class in the comments section down below!

August 6

3 Ways To Write A Book With (Almost) No Effort

3 ways to write a book with almost no effortThose of you who know me well know that I am a firm believer that there are no shortcuts to success. You have to put in the effort to reap the rewards, and writing a book is sometimes challenging, but never impossible. If you have always wanted to write a book, but thought it was too hard to do, here are three ridiculously simple ways to write a book that really eliminate all the excuses you could ever think of for not writing one. You’re welcome.

Use your blog posts

If you are a blogger and you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you probably have plenty of thousands of words worth of blog posts sitting on your blog. If they all share a common theme and are reasonably interesting and well-written, you can compile them all into an ebook. Don’t just copy and paste them, though. Take the time to add information as needed to make the posts flow like a real book, and not just a copy of your blog.

Write a few unique pieces and put those in your book, too. This will entice loyal readers to buy the book, since it has information not listed on your blog.

Use PLR to write a book

If you’re like me, you probably have a huge collection of PLR sitting on your computer, waiting to be used for something glorious. Providing the PLR is good quality, you can use it to make an ebook to sell. This is good if you want to write a non-fiction book, but there are some things you need to be aware of.

Don’t just copy and paste all your PLR into an ebook. That’s lazy, and Amazon won’t like it because it looks like you just plagiarized the crap out of somebody else. Instead, “freshen up” the PLR with your own personality, taking out bits that you don’t really need and adding in your own personal details and touches.

Again, add in extra information wherever you can. You really want to provide your readers with great information, and if you have a good personality, let it shine through. Add insights and observations, and before you know it, you’ll have a full-grown book baby on your hands.

Write it in little bites

Okay, so you have an amazing idea for the best novel in the whole wide world, but there’s no way you can sit down and write it all out. Oh, yes, there is. As I love to tell my kids, you can eat an elephant, as long as you do it one bite at a time.

Can you commit a measly ten minutes every day to writing your book? I’m sure you can. Stay off of Facebook for a little bit, turn off the television, and settle down with your writing implement of choice. Commit yourself to writing for just ten minutes, and write your little heart out.

The key to making this method truly easy is planning ahead, but you can include this in your ten minute chunks. On your first ten minute session, write a very brief, very general synopsis of your basic story. Then, spend a few sessions writing a more detailed outline of what will happen in the story. Get as detailed as you want, because the more detailed, the easier it will be to write your actual book.

I personally keep a notebook with me so I can jot down plot ideas throughout the day, but you might find using index cards just as easy, especially if you aren’t sure what order these plot points are going to fall. In every ten minute session, write a little chunk of your story. Once you have enough chunks, you can piece them together to build your actual book.

One method I like, but haven’t used personally, is the index card method. This really does help you simplify your plot points and put them in a visual order so you can imagine how your final story will come together.

One other mention

I know some people will say “Aha! She forgot to talk about using a ghostwriter!” No, I didn’t forget. Look at the title of this post again. It’s about how to write a book, not how to have one created for you.

I have nothing against using ghostwriters. I am a ghostwriter, so I definitely know how helpful it can be to have someone step in and help you craft your book. But, this post is aimed at those who want to write their own books, so although I mention using a ghostwriter, I think that most of you will feel more fulfilled if you write your book yourself.

So there you have it. Three more reasons why you should go write that book. Let me know when you’ve finished it. Heck, leave a comment below with a link to your book once you’ve gotten it published! And tell me what method you used to write your book, so other people can see how easy it really can be.

May 29

Pantsing Vs. Plotting: Do You Use An Outline?

pantsing vs plotting

There’s a lot of talk about writing fiction these days, and Kindle has made self-publishing a respectable option for people like me and you, who otherwise wouldn’t have the patience to write, submit, cry, resubmit, drink lots of wine to console ourselves, etc. the way “traditional” authors do. I’ve recently rekindled my romance with fiction writing, which has been harder than I expected it to be.

Normally, I’ll just get an idea, sit down, and write. There’s no planning, no outlines, just writing. The story develops as I write, with little or no thought about what comes next until it’s actually on the page. This is called “pantsing,” or writing by the seat of one’s pants. This is what I do, or have done, until very recently.

Plotting is the opposite of pantsing. It involves logical, planned-out events in your story, and is probably more efficient than pantsing because it can help avoid writing yourself into a corner or running out of ideas before you finish. Plotting is the practical twin, always knowing what comes next and in what order the story will play out.

Pantsing is the rebellious twin who refuses to bow down to authority and give up her secrets until she’s good and ready. Some could argue that she’s the lazy twin who can’t be bothered to plan ahead, but I like the first description better, because it makes me feel better about my methods!

I think that plotters have a slight advantage because there’s no lost time worrying about what bit to add in next or wondering what to do with the odd character that was introduced early on, but who needs to be done away with later in order to make the story “tidy.”

I’m trying to be a plotter. Or, at least, that is my plan. I am plotting to plot, but not in the book I am currently working on, at least not fully. So, I guess you could say that I’m pantsing the plotting in order to get through the first book, so that I can then plot the subsequent books and make life easier for myself.

Did you get all that? 🙂

I’ve looked around, and found some really good, and some really awful, basic outlines for story-writing.  You can find a few here, and also here.

So, tell me, are you a plotter or a pantser? No judgement here, lol, just asking! Feel free to share your tips in the comment section below!

May 26

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

What to do when you don't know what to do

What to do, what to do….

 

At some point in your writing career, you’ll probably find yourself doubting your choice of profession. If not, you can skip this post, and go be smug somewhere, sipping a latte and enjoying your confidence in your career choice.

If you are like the rest of us, you’ll find yourself doubting your sanity at least once or twice, maybe even weekly, if you’re very neurotic, like moi. I’m starting to believe that creativity comes with confusion as a package deal, at least sometimes. If you find yourself struggling with “what the heck do I do now?”, these tips will help.
Why do you write?  Ask yourself this, out loud if no one is around, and feel free to answer verbally, too. Then, write it down, like a sane person, and read your reasons. Are you writing for money, but hate what you do? Or, are you writing for passion, but not earning anything for your writing?
There’s a fix for both of these scenarios that will help you move forward.
If you dislike writing, there are so many other ways to earn money online. Spend a little time looking at your skills, and consider changing horses, so to speak.
If you love writing, but aren’t earning, look at your approach. There are many ways to earn money from your writing, but you may have to put in a little extra effort to see a payoff.
•Advertise your writing services on your own website, post ads in classifieds, and check out freelance job boards DAILY. Consistency is key to earning more.
•Sign up as a freelancer on sites such as Upwork and Elance.
•Learn how to properly market any books you’ve written. You may have written a fabulous novel, but if you don’t know how to market it, you won’t earn as much as you could.

Do you lack inspiration?  A LOT of writers seem to think that writing is all about chasing the muse, but that gal will leave you high and dry when you need her most. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can only write when you’re inspired, or you’ll never finish anything.
Instead, just write something, anything, to get your brain going. Write a blog post, describe an object in your home, or write out your shopping list, but write something. The actual act of writing can trigger all sorts of awesome brain activity, and it works whether you are trying to come up with fiction or non-fiction ideas.
Stop focusing on work for a few hours. This one works every time. Sometimes, when you think about something too much, you can overwhelm yourself. Your poor little human brain can only handle so much, then it shuts down, leaving you frustrated, grumpy, and ready to give up.
When you feel this coming on, go for a walk, grab a coffee with friends, or just take a nap. Your brain will ‘reset’ and you’ll be more likely to find a solution to your dilemma.

These tips should help you get moving forward again the next time you are at a loss for something to do. How do you get that forward momentum going again? Please share in the comments section below!

May 9

3 Ways You Can Use PLR To Look Like A Smarty-Pants

smarty pants

I’m the first to admit, I don’t know everything. I’ll never admit that to my husband, but I’m happy to tell you guys! Sometimes, a girl just wants to write all the stuff, but doesn’t have all the time to do extensive research, and this is where PLR comes in handy. I’m going to discuss three ways you can use PLR to make your life a lot easier, and potentially make you a lot of money.

What is PLR?

PLR stands for Private Label Rights. It’s basically content that is sold to a number of people, all of whom get the same content, but they have the right to alter it in any way they see fit and use it in a number of different ways.

There are two things you need to remember when using PLR. First, you aren’t the only one who has this content. It could have been sold to hundreds of other people, who may or may not have used it “as is” on their own websites or in their products.

Second, not all PLR is good quality, or even accurate. I personally know a few people who sell PLR that is amazing, with lots of detail and facts that they took the time to research. But, I also know a few that don’t bother to do any research at all, and who hire others to write the PLR that they sell. While hiring someone else to write your PLR isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is if the content hasn’t been checked for plagiarism or if the person who did the writing doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

That being said, PLR is an amazing tool for busy bloggers or marketers who need some extra content, fast. Here are three ways you can use PLR today to make your life easier, make more money, and sound like a real smarty-pants.

Use it on a blog or website.

Need extra content for blog posts or reviews? PLR is great for this. Buy a pack of articles on topic of your choice, rewrite one or more of them to match your site’s tone and voice, and, “voila!” You have ace content, fast, that took zero research time.

Do you have to rewrite PLR? Not unless you want Google to consider your post potential duplicate content. Even if Google doesn’t penalize you, do you really want to run the risk of someone reading the exact same content that your site has posted on another site? You won’t look too clever then, so spend five minutes and rewrite some or all of the PLR for best results.

Use it to create an awesome freebie.

Blog posts aren’t the only thing people want from you. The masses crave free stuff, and if you can give it to them, they’ll love you more for it. Turn a pack of PLR into a free report to give to your subscribers in exchange for their email addresses. This lets you build a list of people you can email your updates and offers to, and it gives them a reason to want to follow you.

I like the idea of giving freebies out to your regular subscribers, too. Every now and then, just package up some rewritten PLR, add a few of your own thoughts and ideas, and send it out to your subscribers as a way to thank them for sticking with you, even through your slightly crazy phases.

Use it to create short ebooks.

I love this idea on so many levels. First, let me state that you should NEVER just put together PLR articles and sell them as an ebook. Why? Well, imagine fifty other people did that, and you all sold the exact same ebook as each other, but you sold yours for five bucks, and some of them gave theirs away. You’d look like a prat, and people would suspect that you are lazy, greedy, and incapable of creating your own stuff.

Now, the right way to do this is to break up the PLR, rewriting the bits you want to use, leaving out the parts you don’t need, and adding a little more information and detail. I find that it’s good to start with a pack of PLR articles that you already have some knowledge about, so you can minimize your research time.

People seem to think making money online should be effortless, but it’s really not. It’s harder, in some ways, than just working a 9-5, brick and mortar job. PLR can make your job easier, but it really shouldn’t replace the work you would normally put into creating something.

Use it for what it is, a helpful tool that can shorten your research time, and can help you make more money, both by building a list of followers you can sell to, and by helping you create more products, faster.

How would you use PLR to make your life easier? Please share below!

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May 4

Using a Calendar To Plan Out Your Business (PLR & Freelancing)

calendar GoogleThis post may seem like common sense to some of you that have been working online for a while, but bear with me. If you’re like me, it’s easy to miss the obvious stuff while you’re nose to the grindstone trying to learn EVERYTHING there is to know about earning money online.

I wrote about some of the most useful tools in a writer’s toolbox, but I left out one that is super useful and underutilized by yours truly, the humble calendar.

Way back when, I used to print out a calendar every month from Outlook, and I’d write in every bill that I had to pay, plus every doctor’s appointment that anyone in my family had, and those other important happenings in my world. I kept that calendar with me at all times, checked it frequently, and acted on it, doing whatever needed to be done to keep on top of the things listed on it.

I stopped keeping a calendar when I got an iPad, and started keeping a digital version instead. But, I don’t always have my iPad with me, so I stopped adding EVERYTHING, and never even considered using it when I started my business.

Fast forward about two and half years, and I was struggling to keep up with all my “to-do’s,” and nothing seemed to work. So, I started asking other writers and marketers for tips, and lo, they suggested the humble calendar.

Here’s where I use mine most.

Freelancing: I’m still working on this one, but at the moment, I keep week-by-week breakdown of any client work that’s due, and track any other income from “miscellaneous” sources.

What I plan on doing is using the calendar to pitch ideas to clients based on what’s coming up. For example, it’s May now, so I may look ahead to July and suggest summer-related stuff, or even back to school articles.

PLR: This is one place I struggled to get organized, until someone suggested using a calendar. I always thought writing PLR would be easy, since I could basically write anything I wanted. However, it was harder than I thought, trying to guess what people might want to buy.

Now, I try to look ahead a couple of months, and write about upcoming events. I’ll probably do back to school PLR soon, and Halloween PLR not long after that, because by the time I write it and people buy it, it will be fast approaching.

If you already do this, and think I’m late to the party, you could be right. But, there’s always someone who can benefit from even the most basic advice, so I’m all for sharing.

How do you plan ahead in your business? Are you a calendar girl (or guy) too?