Responding to Major Roadblocks

FeaturedResponding to Major Roadblocks

Albert Einstein defined Insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Sometimes we writers get into a rut. Whether in writing or marketing we have discovered what we believe is the right way to go and we stick to it no matter what. Christian authors are just as guilty as any other writer of this unhealthy attitude.

After all we have prayed and sought God’s advice and implemented what appeared to be His answer. But there is the crux of our problem. Maybe it wasn’t God’s leading.

If that is where you are at then it is time to re-evaluate what you are doing. Take a step back and take a hard look at what is happening. Seek God’s leading and listen carefully!

If the problem is about your writing, revisit it and look for ways to improve. Ask yourself questions, especially as it concerns your cover, story line, and structure. Does the story move along at a good pace? Does it hold interest?

Don’t be afraid to change the story! Neither change just to change.

As for marketing you have a great many areas to look at. For example, do you frequently update your website or is it stale? Google and other search engines like fresh material and may downgrade your site if it is not updated.

Also take a look at your advertising. Especially paid advertising. You can waste a lot of money if you’re not careful. Frequently I take a look at where my money is going. And sometimes it means I shut something down and start something else. Recently I closed an email and domain account for three reasons: 1) there was a monthly cost, 2) the domain was not working like I wanted it to work, and 3) I could substitute a free email account for the paid account. The immediate result was a savings of money, but it also caused me to refocus on both the business and personal side of my writing career.

Did I just arbitrarily do that? No. I prayed to God for His leading. And it took weeks, perhaps months, before all of this was accomplished. It required me to look at everything and ask if I was just following popular opinion or was I doing things God’s way? It is not always an easy question to answer.

What is too easy is to follow the crowd. We are beset on every side by ideas and methods that are popular and successful. But worldly success doesn’t always translate to Christian success. God has a plan for us, and our goal must always be to conform to His will. It always requires us to spend time with Him and in His Word. It also requires us to compare the tactic or plan to God’s Word. Does the tactic or plan violate God’s Word?

In conclusion, we want to evaluate our work on a regular basis. Ask yourself the tough questions and early seek God’s leading. I believe that God has a plan for every Christian and He wants us to succeed within that plan. So the most important thing you can do is to trust Him and constantly seek His guidance.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Are You A Real Author? Part III

Are You A Real Author? Part III

This four part blog asks you four questions and addresses each. Here is the third question:

DO YOU HAVE A TRIBE?

Another way of saying this is, Do you have fans? Or readers who love your books? Or an audience?

Every author wants (or should want) to have a tribe. And every time you sell your book that tribe grows. That tribe will include people you don’t know, but it will most likely also include people who you do know.

How?

By building your email list. This takes time, so be patient.

How do you build your email list? There are a multitude of ideas on this subject. Believe me, because I have check several out. Here is a partial list of building ideas:

  • Friends who like your book
  • Relatives who like your book
  • Blog followers
  • FaceBook followers
  • Twitter followers
  • LinkedIn followers

In other words, anyone who has given you their email address and likes your books!

So how do I use the email list?

First, you need a provider. There are quite a few out there. I am familiar with three: Vertical Response, MailChimp, and Benchmark. All three are good, although I am only now learning about Benchmark. So far I have been impressed and amazed with the tools they provide within their Free package.

Google email marketing providers to find a more complete listing. Check them out and decided for yourself which is best for you.

How big should my email list be?

That’s a good question. I recently read where one expert suggests 1,000. That is 1,000 people who really like your books – the true fans! So, practically speaking, you should have several times that many.

Secondly, you need to incorporate the email list into your marketing plan. Caution: you don’t want to saturate them with your ads, it will turn them off! Remembering this is separate from your Social Media Campaign (below) send out periodic emails announcing:

  • Upcoming books
  • New books
  • Specials
  • More

But don’t overdue it.

What about Social Media?

An effective Social Media Campaign requires the input of some money. Not necessarily a lot of money. So first determine what your budget allows. Next determine where you will focus your efforts. Some experts discount Twitter, but others are high on it. Your best course of action is to experiment and discover which two work best for you.

One last thought. You may not yet have 1,000 true fans. Use your email list to garner them.

 As always I am interested in your comments.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

His eBook Perished: The World That Was (Volume 1) can be found on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is found on Amazon.

Getting Book Reviews

Getting Book Reviews

How do you get book reviews?

This is a time question since I am currently seeking reviewers for my latest novel, Perished: The World That Was (Volume 1). Over the years I have used different approaches. My primary approach in the past was to make use of First Wild Card reviews. However, that is no longer available.

So I have move on to a broader, and potentially, more effective approach. In this blog I will share with you some of this overall strategy. Let’s start now.

Strategy.

  1. As a member of KDP Select make use of Free Days. My first set of 2 days are November 3 – 4 (Thursday and Friday). I use this in conjunction with my inquiry, offering the reviewer a free Kindle copy.
  2. Emailing friends/relatives and inviting them to review my book. I offer them the free Kindle (on 3rd and 4th).
  3. Research and contact actual book reviewers, offering them the free Kindle, a PDF copy, a ePub copy, a Mobi copy, or a paperback.
  4. Make use of a Goodreads review request.

I can ask friends?

Yes. But don’t be surprised if they don’t respond. Friends want you to succeed, but for a variety of personal reasons may not want to be a reviewer. It’s not personal, so don’t take it personally.

What are the results?

Since I just began using this strategy it is too early to be concerned about results, although I have already had three positives replies. This is an ongoing process that will take weeks and maybe months for me to complete.

In number 3 above I mentioned research. I used Indie Book Reviewers, although there are others out there.

How many book reviewers do you need?

I have heard several different answers to this. One is to get as many reviewers as possible. I totally agree with that as a long term goal. But short term I believe your goal should be a minimum of twenty. (If you fail to get twenty it is not a disaster. It’s a goal not a requirement.)

Who can review a book?

There are different types of reviewers. The Indie list covers those men and women who are professional in their approach yet charge no fee. (Using paid reviewers on a limited bases may be ok, but don’t build on them.) Then you have the more casual reviewer who occasionally reviews a book, but still takes the job of reviewing seriously. Finally, there are those who may never have reviewed a book before, but love to read.

All of these are acceptable. Try for a mix, if possible. You can find lists like the Indie Reviewers by Googling ‘book reviewers’ or something similar.

When doing your research remember that not all reviewers are interested in your particular genre. If possible visit their website and discover their likes and dislikes. And are they accepting books for review and what format they require?

How do you ask for a review?

This varies according to the type of review you are seeking. For example, when contacting friends/relatives your approach is more personal. You are actually asking for a favor, so I suggest you begin with “may I ask a favor of you?” or something along that line.

With the others you want a more professional approach. I will show an example in a moment.

There are at least two ways of doing this. One is to send out an email to all your potential reviewers at one time. This has the benefit of saving you time. But different reviewers have different requirements and a one letter fits all approach could backfire. I prefer one reviewer at a time. Requires more time and effort, but allows for a more personal and accurate approach.

Did you get the idea that seeking reviewers is work? Good, because it is. But don’t be afraid of it. Book reviews can be beneficial to your marketing efforts. With that in mind, what follows is an example of valuable content to include in your inquiry.

An Example

But no matter who you are asking or how you contact them you need to provide them with certain information. So with that in mind here is an example of information I recently sent out: (The highlighted parts are necessary.)

  • Title: Perished: The World That Was (Volume 1)
  • Publisher: T&R Independent Books (http://tr-indbkstore.com)
  • Published: 10-12-16 using Create Space publishing platform
  • Author: R. Frederick Riddle
  • Pages: 469 (paperback)
  • Reading age: 18+
  • ASIN: B01M4IDHNY
  • ISBN: 1537476378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1537476377

I also provided a brief description of the book. (Some reviewers may request an excerpt.)

Here’s my example:

Based on the first six chapters of the Book of Genesis this story brings to life the Bible especially as it relates to places, events, and people. You get to meet and know such people as Adam, Eve, Enoch, Methuselah, and Noah as well as Cain and his descendants.

And remember to thank them. You are asking them to do something for you and that includes taking the time to read your inquiry. So thank them.

In conclusion, let me add that while this is a blog and not a inquiry, if any of you readers would like to review my book, feel free to contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

And thank you!

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R Frederick Riddle is co-founder and vice president of T&R Independent Books, an author of six novels, and blogger. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page.

Keeping Your Focus Part II

In Part I the topic centered on how health can distract from our focus. Today I wish to explore how finances can impact us.

Finances can have either positive or negative impacts on our business. But whether it’s positive or negative, finances can be a major distraction.

For example, one of my titles in T&R Independent Books is Vice President of Finance. This means that I am involved with the daily budgets, check writing, credit card balances, etc. It can be very involved and can easily distract from my writing.

Speaking as a man involved in financial work for over twenty-two years, I know firsthand how time consuming and frustrating money management can be. It is demanding of both time and energy.

So, how do you balance the needs of finance with the needs of marketing?

One answer is “FREE” marketing tools. And there is an abundance of free tools available. Not all will work for you, or for me. But they are there for your perusal.

The key to using free tools or the equally abundant marketing ideas is ‘not to jump from horse to horse.’ It can be very tempting every time you run across a new idea to abandon what you are currently doing and jump to this new idea. I have had to fight this temptation throughout my career.

For example, I may come across a marketer promoting his/her marketing approach. A free video, course, or seminar may be offered to promote the idea to you. Now, you might think I’ll say stay away, it can mislead you. On the contrary, check them out!

But after you’ve sample the ‘free’ stuff, step away and take a deep breath. Does this marketing solution really fit with who you are? Will it work with your book marketing?

It all comes down to a principle a friend once taught me. He liked to visit Florida, especially the Orlando area. He would come across offers to travel free to Orlando and to stay free for x number of days at a nice hotel. The only catch was that he had to attend a seminar on real estate. He would jump at it every time! Why? That’s where the principle comes in.

The only obligation was to listen to the presentation. No requirement to buy. So here it is: Although he was committed to the seminar there was no commitment to buy anything. For an hour or more of listening to the presentation he got all the benefits of the offer.

In marketing you can do the same thing, but instead of lodging you are getting valuable information that you may use; all for free by simply giving your email address and reading/listening to a presentation!

So how does that impact your marketing focus?

Well, you:

  • Get a fast track education on new techniques
  • Save money
  • Actually get information that may make your marketing more effective.
  • get the above while maintaining focus on your writing.

I don’t believe I’ll ever stop using free or inexpensive informational tools. If I get one new idea that benefits me it is well worth the small investment in time. I am then able to focus on putting that information to work in my marketing plan. In fact, the longer I am in this business the smarter I become and am able to refine my own marketing efforts.

In the above case I am able to focus on both marketing and financing. But if I jumped on the follow-up offer I could easily get bogged down and find myself entangled in a frustrating situation that deprives me of the energy needed to write.

If I was advising a new author I would say the following:

“Writing is your primary focus, so learn how to minimize your marketing and financial efforts. By so doing you can stay fresh and keep your focus on writing.”

In short, investigate new strategies, but be wise.

One tool that can help you is budgeting your time. This is a lot more difficult than it first appears and is different with each person. You must determine your priorities, such as where do you want to concentrate your focus? I would suggest you keep a short listed of priorities. And don’t be afraid to revise that list when needed.

Budgeting your time is only one way of keeping your marketing and financing under control. You may know of other tools. Tell us about them.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. His latest novel is a rewrite of Perished: The World That Was published by T&R Independent Books.