I’m Booky, Booky the Blog. I want to help the self-publishing authors. I want to motivate them to become better writers. But most of all I want to help them promote their books. That is why I supply them with all the beautiful graphics I can only imagine, so that they can get the attention that they deserve.
Have you ever wondered where good ideas come from? I could start and end this article with just one sentence:
‘Garbage in, garbage out’,
but let’s try to dig a little deeper.
I was thinking what articles I could write for Booky to make it more special. How to make it different from all ‘how to self-publish’ pages? Of course, I write about the technical aspects of promotion, etc. But I wanted to add something special, something from me and when I started thinking about it? Turned out I have a lot to talk about. Within half an hour I wrote 2 articles that were just a conclusion of the last few (actually 3) days of my life! What were I doing within those days? I was working on Booky and other designs, but in the meantime I watched a few Ted videos, 3 movies, a few videos of Werner Herzog’s Masterclass, read fragments of 3 different books and found new courses to learn from. Plus, altogether, I didn’t even spend 30 minutes on Facebook. Matching these various pieces of knowledge with the glue of some life experiences, I managed to create something that I felt was clearly mine and couldn’t be copied by anybody, because nobody had the same experiences as me.
How to use this strategy to write better books?
Try to add something to your days. Are you fascinated by somebody’s personality? Watch interviews with them, read their books or whatever. You know this feeling when you just ‘love’ somebody (author, director, etc), because you feel they are such deep and amazing people. Try to touch this deepness every day! Even if it would be just for a few minutes. If you watch “Gossip girl” every day, don’t expect “Citizen Cane” to come out of your head.
Match the facts you know in your own, unique way and you will create something unique.
You may not believe me that inspiration can come from anything, but check this out. Yesterday I went out with my friends to an Irish Pub. Observing I saw two completely different waiters trying to deal with a crowd of people. It was enough to write a short story about it. I could also write separate stories about the guests of the pub: a family with a teenage boy, a man loosing hair, three young girls making selfies, middle aged boys night out, etc.
Here’s an exercise for you
As I already wrote, observation is a key for a writer. Find one event from your last 48 hours and write about it. You can’t think about anything? You weren’t paying attention to what’s happening around you? Then go out of the house. Go to the street and observe people passing you. Make a walk to the park and see what kinds of different people go there too. Go to a coffee shop and observe the guests. Or simply open the window and look at the people passing by. World is full of inspirations! You just have to notice them. You might think: ‘It sounds so boring! I want to write something special and not just about people on the street’. My answer is: Have you read ‘Ulisses’? Does James Joyce write about anything special? No, he describes a guy buying a soap or walking on the street. Best writers can make something special out of nothing.
Also remember, this is an exercise. If every time you sit to write you want to create a masterpiece, you get nervous, tensed and you probably won’t write nothing at all. Especially if you rarely have time for it, so you expect great results. Chill out. Sit down and write without any expectations. Just write for the joy of writing and for making your brain work. Surprisingly, that is when the results will come.
Have you ever noticed how once you meet a person, you immediately judge them and create a certain way of thinking about them and later something happens, you find out something new about them and your whole vision of that person turns upside down? For example, your head at work was never smiling and doing poor in the organizational matters. You think she’s just stupid, especially that she’s younger than you. Maybe she’s unexperienced, especially that she got the job because of her friend. One day you see her crying, you find out that her boyfriend broke up with her not long ago and she still can’t get over it. And everything changes… And, to be honest, you feel like an asshole, because of the way you judged her before. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but discovering the other, deeper side of another person is fascinating.
Why am I writing that? I had a similar situation just a few days ago and I realized it can be essential for us – writers. We can use this mechanism in our books, to create more live, real characters. Lately I was writing a story and reading it my friend suggested: ‘Color those black characters’. It was one of the best suggestions I’ve ever got.
But how should we do it? How to create real characters, if we’re not psychologists nor the specialists in human behaviors? Well, we should become those. I don’t mean starting another faculty on university, but simply looking around. I already wrote about the importance of observing other people. Now it’s time to observe also yourself – your reactions to others, your visions of them, why you react this and not the other way, when you change your mind, etc. Especially this last point is important: when somebody’s behavior surprises you, maybe even delouses, stop a second and analyze. What happened? What did they do? What was I thinking about them before? Then include those mechanisms into your books.
For example, have you read ‘Solaris’ by Stanisław Lem? If not – that is your homework. Notice how surprising the characters are, how deep despite, or maybe exactly because of, having many unrevealed secrets. The most amazing thing is how those few characters give you an overview on humanity and it left me blown away.
Do you know other books where the characters are very well described? Share them in the comments.
I am a huge fantasy fan, but lately, when I go to bookshops (yes, I’m old-fashioned), I’m very disappointed. 99,9% of books I take in my hands, I put back on the shelf. Why? The reason is always the same – I already read it. And I don’t mean this particular book. It’s the same story with different names. Does it only apply to fantasy? No. Mystery, thriller and all other kinds – it’s so difficult to find something new.
For example, have you seen ‘Avatar’? I know it’s a movie, but it’s very probable most of you have seen it and it’s the perfect example. Didn’t you have the feeling it’s the story of Pocahontas, just the names and the planet have been changed? Because I did and I don’t like knowing what happens next. I prefer surprises.
Learn from neurology
Did you know that in our brain there is a part called the ‘reptilian brain’? It’s a part responsible for the basic reactions and it filters the information that arrives to further parts of the brain. In other words – the reptilian brain decides whether to proceed the particular piece of information further or if to forget it. If the information doesn’t pass the reptilian brain, it won’t arrive to the more advanced parts of the brain, thus won’t be analyzed from the logical etc point of view. How can an information pass this strict control? Making the things simple, the ‘reptilian brain’ cares only about two things: is it new/interesting? or is it dangerous? If the piece of information doesn’t belong to any of these, it simply doesn’t proceed it further. How can it be useful for you as a writer? The first thing the readers look at the book is its description, so make sure it’s interesting and new. Of course, the whole book also has to be innovative, or they will stop reading after a few pages.
Steal like an artist
How can I always invent something new, if everything has already been invented? – you may ask. There’s an interesting book by Austin Kleon – ‘Steal like an artist’. The author analyzes how artists throughout centuries were influencing each other and using each other’s ideas to create something original. I strongly suggest you read this short book, as the examples given are very interesting and show that ‘new’ often means ‘reworked’.
Lately I’ve read Dorian Gray. Have you noticed how small the line between masterpiece and kitsch is? The story is very interesting, but it could easily turn out as another zombie/vampire-like story. However, it became a masterpiece and an important book in the story of literature. Why? What did Oscar Wild understand that so many authors can’t catch? First of all, it was probably his genius or another divine element. (Watch an interesting speech of Elizabeth Gilbert – the author of ‘Eat, pray, love’ – about genius and creativity and you’ll never look at these things the same again). I think what made a difference with ‘Dorian Gray’ was that Wild was a very good observer of human behaviors. Just like Woody Allen or Roman Polański (have you seen ‘Carnage’ or ‘Wonder Wheel’?). Simple stories, with deep and thorough analysis of human psychology become unforgettable masterpieces. Somewhere I read an interview with a waitress from a cafeteria in Paris where Polański often goes to. She said he just sits and watches. And he seems to be seeing differently than anybody else. In my opinion that is the point! Going around, I look at people and what do I see? They don’t watch, they don’t listen. You can see and hear amazing stories even on a bus going to work, but you have to be open to them! Instead, most people just stare at their smartphone screen or have their ears covered with headphones. Whereas, a way to work can be the time of calming down and relaxing your brain. Opening for new ideas. Haven’t you noticed that the best ideas come to your mind when you’re not trying to figure them out?. When you just let your thoughts flow? (Another interesting, neurological subject. For example, I wrote this article lying in bed when I was going to sleep, but this idea came to my head and I just couldn’t resist but write it down). Or have you noticed that a piece of information you accidentally hear turns out to be very valuable? These little pieces, observations and flows of ideas are what can add something special to the often cold logics of storytelling strategies. But if you are not open for them, if you don’t watch nor listen, how should they come to your mind? And if they have no way to get in, how can they ever go out in a deeper form?
One last thing you should consider while writing your book. Your readers are not idiots. You really don’t have to explain them everything! I know, you fear they won’t catch the message, bla bla bla, but the truth is, we get attracted to things we have to figure out ourselves. If we see a picture and it’s immediately clear to us what it shows, we don’t really care much. But if we see an image that needs some attention to find out what is there – that’s when we’re interested (the reptilian brain is working). That is one of the reasons why James Patterson is a best-selling writer. He just got it! When we have to guess, fill some missing pieces of information with our imagination, check if our suspicions were right – that’s what engages us! Don’t take away this pleasure from your readers! Doze it well and they will love you!
It’s difficult to definitely answer the question what the difference between masterpiece and kitsch is. These are my ideas, based on experience and research. But a masterpiece is a term almost undefinable. Do you have your ideas about this subject? Have you found some article/video/book that changed your point of view on this issue? Share your thoughts in the comments.
One of the most difficult questions for an author is figuring out ‘who is my target audience?’ But how to identify your target audience?
It might be surprising to discover that, whatever we might think, our book is not for everyone. To maximize our chances of selling, we have to identify our target audience. One of the biggest mistakes authors can make is believing that the larger the potential market, the greater the chances for getting noticed. Quite the opposite, as the larger the market, the more competition you have to face.
What should you do?
Understand the need, wants and desires of those few that are really likely to buy your book. Finding and narrowing your niche will help you to reach–and appeal to–more of the people that will ultimately buy your book. But be careful! Do your research well to find the best audience. If you narrow it too much, selling your book will become unprofitable!
The key is to identify and research what your true target audience wants, recognize the unique and meaningful aspects of what you have to offer, and align the two to benefit your ideal reader in an exceptional way.
A mistake many authors do is that they don’t define their target audience before writing the book. It might seem overwhelming and limiting, but in fact can make things easier for you. Knowing for whom you’re writing can clear things up and motivate you to actually finish your book. .
Why is it important?
If you want to get an agent or a publisher, get ready for the question about your target audience. They will want to know how you plan to connect with them, so be prepared!
Knowing to whom you should talk, you stop wasting your time and money promoting to people, who are clearly not interested in your topic or genre.
Don’t assume you already know your audience, or that they are just like you. It’s possible, but not always the case that your audience will think like you. So do the work to confirm what your readers actually want; not what you think they need.
The goal is to segment a broad market into smaller, distinct groups of individuals who are like-minded or share specific characteristics, behaviors and needs.
What should you do?
1. What types and/or groups of people the content of the book would interest?
Is it a family book? A science fiction? Will it be interesting for history fans? For example, if your hero is a former Marine, military personnel might be interested in your book.
2. Identify other books that are comparable to your book and look at the profiles of those books’ main buyers/readers.
The target audience isn’t always who the book was written for, but rather, who it ends up appealing to. For example the Twilight saga was written for teenagers, but middle-age female readers also found it interesting.
3. What is special about your book?
What is your hook? For example, Is your book a mystery? If so, is it more Murder She Wrote or Silence of the Lambs? Is it more light-hearted or scary?
4. What are the answers to these questions?a) Geographic
Where do your potential readers live (now, previously)? Country, region? What language is spoken?
What is the climate like? The seasons?
What is the age, sex, race or ethnicity of your readers?
Occupation or employment?
Are your readers married? Do they have kids?
What is their religion or religeous affiliations?
Generation? Baby boomer? Gen X? Gen Y?
What type of lifestyle do your readers maintain?
Their social class (lower, middle, upper class)?
Do they live in an urban or rural environment?
What is their health like?
Background or upbringing?
What are your readers’ goals, beliefs, interests, habits, values and attitudes?
Any subconscious emotional associations?
What occasions are important to your reader?
Are they loyal (already fans of your genre/topic)?
What’s their motivation?
Where are they in terms of readiness to buy? (Already read the first book in your series?)
What are their buying patterns? (Buy on impulse, or look for value?)
Where and how do they read? (Mobile? Ebook vs. print?)
The answers to the above questions should not be just a guess, but gleaned from as many sources as you can get your hands on.
5. Finally, feed the previous tips into each other to gain even more insight and narrow down who your target audience is.
Use the Venn diagram to see where the different groups of people who are potentially good fits for your book overlap, thus refining your targeted groups and finding your primary target audience.
How to find it all out?
If you already have a group of readers, simply ask them. You can create a survey, ask in your emails or in your comments. Remember, people love to talk about themselves!
Work the connections you’ve found to popular books in the same vein as yours by appealing to those books’ readers. Analyze the aesthetics and marketing techniques of those authors. Check where their fans are and go there too. Who is commenting? What are they sharing? Check the social media of those authors and who their followers are.
Google the reader demographics for magazines, publications or newsletters that pertain to your topic or a subtopic in your book.
How to use this knowledge?
It’s time to use what you’ve learnt. A well-defined target audience includes elements from more than one set of criteria or segment above.
1. Consider your target audience while deciding on branding, for example – creating the cover.
By the visual side of your book promotion let your readers know, what the character of your book is. If it’s a romance for ladies loving Harlequines the cover should be different than when you wrote a thriller containing a love story, but the target audience includes also men.
2. Defining the target audience can also help you choose the ways to market your book.
For example, if your target audience are young males mostly active on YouTube and Instagram, you know you have to use images and videos in your book promotion. Helpful, isn’t it? So use the information you gather from your research to devise various marketing strategies and promotional tactics according to the tastes of your future readers.
3. Identify where your target audience hangs out and be there too.
If you’re a fantasy writer, guest post on fantasy websites, instead of all the possible blogs and websites you can find. This will bring you much better results.
The best way to find and engage with your target audience is to create a highly detailed reader profile that represents this audience. Seems difficult? Less than you think. Imagine, you are creating a character for your novel. Describe your ideal reader, give him a name, try to understand him.
Once created, this profile or persona is who you think of, speak to and write for when creating any marketing message. Every email, social media post, design tweak, book trailer, book cover, blog entry, excerpt, and comment must be crafted with your reader profile in mind.
Try answering these questions:
What blogs does your perfect reader read, what forums does he frequent, what networking sites does he post to?
Given what you know about your perfect reader, where would you advertise?
How to talk to your perfect reader what kind of language to use and how to connect with him?
Where your perfect reader might look for advice, reviews and additional information before buying?
By combining forces with other authors or businesses that share your target audience, you can gain credibility, and perhaps additional access.
You can influence his influencers: ask bloggers who blog on the topic to review your book. You can encourage testimonials from readers within your audience and gather endorsements from other writers, businesses or organizations that have a connection with your books content.
It becomes much easier to discern who is most likely to buy your book if you can get to the core of who it’s really meant for and the secret sauce that makes it stand out from the rest, so take your time to discover your author brand.
Children’s books and gift books are two instances where the book buyer isn’t necessarily the book reader. And textbooks represent a situation where the book reader is required to purchase the book, based on someone else’s suggestion and opinion. In these cases, the process for finding and describing your audience (or audiences) is similar, but your marketing strategy must take into account the two or more, often disparate groups.
Is it too late?
If you already started promoting your book, don’t worry. Simply apply all the above steps and you may find out what you can do better and how to attract more readers!
A few more ideas how to stay connected with your audience:
Stay up to date with news and trends regarding your topic or genre. What are other authors, bloggers, and industry influencers talking about? (Some resources: Feedly, AllTop, Google Trends and NewsMap)
Get ideas from your ‘competitors’. What works? What doesn’t? Don’t just copy – people like originality.
I hope this article will help you understand your audience better and find a new ways to reach them.
Do you have your own experiences with defining the target audience? How have you worked out who your target market is? Who are your comparison authors? Will knowing your target audience help make marketing your book easier? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Being an author, you know your book best. But still, you may overlook some important details. That is why you need beta-readers.
Beta-readers are non-professional readers who read a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption. Beta-readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context.
Why do you needthem?
Beta-readers can highlight such things as plot holes, problems with continuity, characterization or believability. Even if your book is non-fiction, you can still need some help with fact-checking. Even if you’re planning to hire an editor, you should still ask someone to read your book before you make the next step.
Definition from: Karen Hellekson, Kristina Busse (2006). Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. McFarland. pp. 15, 43, 172–179. ISBN 0786454962.
How to findthem?
It’s very easy to find beta-reader on Facebook. Try asking on groups connected to your book genre. You can’t imagine, how many people will be happy to read something new and fresh. Of course, not all will find the time for it, or they will just forget, so get ready for it. You can also try asking to fans of reading or other self-publishing authors.
If you don’t want to share the whole story, give them a part and see the reactions. Even if you’re still writing this is a great tool to check if you’re moving in the right direction. The opinions of beta-readers can be also extremely motivating.
Family and friends
These are the easiest to find, but if they are busy or you shy, there are also other options.
Goodreads is a community connecting writers and readers. To look for beta-readers you can check its forum or simply ask people liking books similar to yours. You can also use one of their groups, for example Beta reader group with over 10 000 members. If you still don’t have an account on Goodreads – you should! Why? More information here.
If you’re a member of any community of writers or readers, ask your fellows. I’m sure some of them will be willing to help.
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“we are a place where you post your own article about your title and can reach the readers. We do not review your book – we give you a platform to tell everyone what do you think is most interesting about your book and what you think will interest readers so much that they will go and buy your book.”
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It is obvious, you want to increase your book blog traffic and gain more exposure of your book. Here a few tips that you should use to achieve that. These small steps may be more important than the text you wrote, so pay attention!
1. Use an image
Images catch attention. Especially in the era of social media they are very important. If you share the post, the image is what you look at first. Then you read the text. But if there’s no image, would you read the text at all? Exactly. The image is what can help you stand out in a crowd.
On the other hand, the image you use will be indexed by search engines. This way you can get traffic from people using Google Image search. Make sure you change the file name to your post title or this strategy will not work! Adding it to your post, add your title also to the alt text field.
2. Share it!
We all know social media are crucial for gaining traffic and a way to use this traffic is to share your posts. Everytime you write a new post share it on as many social media pages as you can. You may be surprised to hear that one of the best social sites for delivering readers is Flipboard. This app is very popular on iPads and smartphones so it is an ideal platform for people looking for quick reads.
Not every post will bring you huge amounts of traffic, but some will do better than the others. Especially, if they have an eye catching image.
3. Make sure people can share your post
You must have the sharing buttons! At least the main four: Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. People who share your post expose it to new audiences and it can only have a positive effect on your traffic.
4. Remember to add internal links to your posts
You got a visitor? That’s great! Try to keep him on your page as long as you can! To achieve that add internal links to your posts so that the person gets interested in what you write about and doesn’t disappear after reading just one piece. Remember to do it in an interesting way. Click here isn’t interesting for anyone. Add your hiperlink to some important phrase in your text, which also gives an idea what the other article is about.
5. Research your post title
Every time you write a new post, do some Google search and discover keywords that you can include to attract more people. A useful thing i salso to image what keywords you’d insert into Google search if you’d be searching for that particular topic.
6. Use Google+
I know this tip may seem crazy to you. Google+? It’s so boring, right? Yes, the interaction is minimal, but there’s something very important about Google+: when you publish via your Google+ account, in the Google search results there will appear a link to it with the author image and a bold title. And all this within 20 minutes from publishing! But there is a secret I’m going to tell you… When you publish on Google+ make sure to insert a star at the beginning and at the end of your title. Publishing this post on Google+ I’ll insert my title this way: *How to increase your book blog traffic?*. Make sure you do the same!
7. Use H2 and H3 paragraph headings
When Google or Bing do the research, they look for heading tags. They are numbered, and the most common are H1, H2, H3 and H4. Search engines see these tags as the sense of order in a text. H1 is the title and you don’t have to set it, but you’ll have to do it manually with H2 and other headings. H2 in almost always applied to the sub-heading. This says that these are the most important words, after the title. For all subsequent paragraph headings, they should be H3, and therefore of equal importance. You can easily apply these setting in your blog editor. The setting in usually in the formatting or style menus. Applying H tags to your posts will increase your search index rankings, which of course helps in gaining more organic traffic.
Can you see how fast and easy to apply are these tips? You don’t need to be a nerd or an expert to apply them. Applying them to each of your posts will help you increase your book blog traffic. However remember, that content is still very important! An interesting post on a well-designed blog will bring you many loyal readers.