Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Social Media for Authors

It used to be that authors would write their book, hand it to their agent, and let the publisher do the work of editing, publishing, distributing, and marketing it. Now, authors can use social media to perform the tasks of publishing, distributing, and marketing on their own more easily. This also enables new authors to self-publish when passed over by the traditional publishing companies.

Sadly, if you are not found online, you are functionally irrelevant. The same can be said about your work. Social media allows people to share and promote information by using the internet and other communications channels. Among those communications channels are your website, social media sites, email marketing and e-commerce. Searching the internet, you can find websites, social media sites and other content meant for any industry. Since I am presenting "Social Media for Authors" to the 2017 Winter Writers Weekend in New Hope, Pennsylvania on March 4, 2017, I chose to discuss this topic at this time.

Your Website
Writers (all professionals) must have a website. Today, more and more consumers use the internet to search for the products or services they need. Hence, your readers expect you to be there. A professional website gives you and your publications credibility. It's your platform to demonstrate your interests, knowledge and expertise to your readers. If you and your work are not yet known, this is where people begin to find out about you.

Social Media Sites for Authors
Amazon - Amazon started as an online bookseller in 1994 via It has since grown to become the largest internet-based retailer in the world. Amazon offers 2 self-publishing services:
  • Kindle Direct Publishing is a free program that helps authors self-publish their book as eBooks.
  • CreateSpace is a fast and easy way to self-publish paperbacks. It also offers on-demand printing, eliminating the need for you to maintain inventory.
goodreads is a social media site that lets users track and rate books, and network with other readers. The site is free for readers. Authors can also promote their books via pay-per-click advertising.

Issuu is a digital publishing platform for magazines, newspapers, portfolios, catalogs, corporate literature, DIY guides, community programs and more. It's free to use with a publishing limit of 100MB, and paid subscriptions are available when you want to exceed the free limit.

Scribd is a digital documents library that allows users to publish, discover and discuss original writings and documents in various languages. The site is free to use and try for 30 days. Then, there is a moderate monthly subscription after the free period.

Email Marketing
Email Marketing is using email to send newsletters, offers, invitations, event notices and more to grow the visibility of your brand and business. If new to email marketing, start by using the email addresses of your friends, family and coworkers. Then add your networking contacts and people that ask to connect with you. Most people have email, and email is the most popular app on smart phones. Therfore, email marketing is less expensive and more effective than traditional mail campaigns. When using popular email marketing software such as MailChimp and Constant Contact (the two market leaders), you will have access to their analytical tools that will show you the performance of your email campaigns.

E-commerce is the purchase and sale of products or services via electronic channels such as the internet. It’s also known as “online shopping”, and allows your customers to electronically buy goods and services from you with no barriers of time or distance. E-commerce can be implemented on your website, via your social media sites, or via one of the available e-commerce service providers such as ebay,, Shopify and many others.

To benefit from social media, you need to build a clear strategy that takes into account what you're trying to achieve, who your customers are and what your competition is doing. As an author, use any or all of the tools I identified in this post. Start with your website. Then, add one social media communications channel. As you become comfortable using that one communications channel over time, consider adding another. Before you know it, you with have a robust social media strategy and have significantly grown your online presence.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Email Marketing Best Practices

Email Marketing is when you use electronic mail as your means of communicating messages directly to an audience. It presents more opportunities for your business and drives a better return on investment than other forms of outbound marketing.

Here are some "best practices" to follow for you to create an effective email marketing campaign...

Know your Target Audience
Targeting a specific audience allows you to focus your campaigns on a specific group of people that is more likely to read your message and respond as intended. In addition, sending a message to the audience not within the target is likely to increase the number of recipients that mark your message as Spam or choose to unsubscribe. In that case, you will not be able to reach those recipients later when you send a message intended for them.

Communicate on all Devices
Email is the #1 app on mobile devices, and more than 50% of email opens are on mobile devices. So, your email messages and email marketing service must be able to deliver your messages in a mobile-friendly format. Some email service providers can accommodate presenting your message in the best format for the reader's device.

Write a Great Subject Line
Your email subject line is often the first piece of information about your message that the reader will see. A successful campaign starts with a subject line that grabs the attention of your reader. As per Convince & Convert, 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone.

Use a From Name & Email Address They Will Know
In addition to the subject line, the from name and email address of the sender are among the first information from your message that the reader will see. As per Convince & Convert, 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email from name or email address.

Include a "Call to Action"
A "Call to Action" is the part of the message that requests the reader to take an immediate action, such as to sign up for a demo, call you for specials or direct the reader to your website. If your call to action is not clear, you may not get a good result from your campaign.

Limit Photos and Images
Some email hosting companies will mark in-coming messages as Spam when there is a high ratio of images to text. That is because some senders mask their inappropriate content by including it the image since Spam filters cannot "read" the content in the image. Additionally, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires that each commercial email message have at least 1 written sentence.

Track Campaign Performance
Using an email marketing software product (e.g. MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.) provides one key advantage over using your own email service provider. That is, you can monitor the performance of your campaign. These software tools allow you to track how many people opened your email campaigns and see exactly what they clicked. Then, you can make decisions about how to proceed with contacting your readers who have or have not opened or clicked on your email campaign.

Be Careful when Buying a List of Email Addresses
You need to be very careful when buying or renting lists of email addresses. Sometimes they are of sufficient low quality that a large number of the unsolicited messages you send will be marked as Spam. When that happens, some email providers will close or lock your account to prevent you from continuing to send Spam messages.

Where to Get Email Addresses
The best list of email addresses will be from the people you know, or have already started a professional relationship. Go through your own email address list of friends, family and business associates. Include the contacts you have from LinkedIn and other social media sites. Also, use the names and email addresses from business cards you collected.

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