As we’ve discussed before, your author brand is crucial to your success as an author. A huge part of this brand is marketing. Your content, social media, and overall marketing strategy are all critical components of you and your book's presence to readers and potential fans. But sometimes it can seem like a lot to manage, right? What if we told you that you didn’t actually have to do it all on your own?
What is a virtual assistant and how can one help me as an author?
Having a virtual marketing assistant is useful on all fronts of the marketing side of your brand. A virtual marketing assistant can do things like reach out to book bloggers and influencers for reviews, create newsletters to go out to your readers, and create content and manage your social media. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have a hand in the marketing side of things, but it will significantly alleviate the pressure on you to perform all marketing tasks on your own.
Make a list of tasks you want help with
Ideally, once you hire a virtual assistant, you will create a list of tasks for him or her to perform. This list will, of course, vary from author to author. It’s important to know what tasks you want your virtual assistant to accomplish before you even search for one to ensure that you hire exactly who you’re looking for.
Some things to consider putting on the list could be:
A good way to determine what to have your virtual assistant work on is to make a list of things you either dislike or avoid and things that don’t really need your direct input. By doing this, it frees you up to work on the things that do need your direct input – like edits to your manuscripts, important meetings, and speaking engagements. A clear idea of what you want your virtual assistant to do makes it easier on both of you moving forward.
Budget to fit your needs
Virtual assistants typically operate as freelance contractors – similar to graphic designers or marketing specialists. When you hire one, you’ll typically pay somewhere between $10-$25/hour, depending on the virtual assistant’s skill level and experience (some may cost more but if you keep searching, you'll find the right fit). This makes it easy for you to stay within a budget, because a virtual assistant will work within the budget you set. For example, if you have a budget of $150 and you find a virtual assistant who charges $15/hour, you can request 10 hours of specific tasks and know that you will stay within your budget and get done what needs to get done. You can also work with the freelancer to create a monthly budget for a specific number of hours. For example, you can hire someone to manage all your social media platforms by setting a set number of posts per week (say 1-3) across your platforms (say, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), and agreeing on a package prices with your freelancer (say, $150 per month for no more than 10 hours of time). It often helps to have a discussion with a potential freelancer about how they prefer to work, but the effort is worth it!
How to find a virtual assistant
So now that you have a general idea of what a virtual assistant is and how they can help you with the marketing side of your job, you might be wondering how to find one! There are several different ways to find a virtual assistant, but we’ll give you tips on some of the easiest ways.
Start with a simple Google search. Searching “Virtual Marketing Assistant United States” will yield different companies through which you can hire a virtual assistant. Of course, not every company will be a perfect fit, so you’ll need to set aside some time to look through the list of companies and search by the set of skills you’re looking for to find the perfect virtual assistant for you.
A popular site to hire freelancers through is Upwork. If you visit their website, there is an option on the homepage to find a freelancer in the “Admin Support” field. You can then select the “Virtual/Administrative Assistance” option.
Another great way to find a virtual assistant or social media manager is through LinkedIn. You can search for local people in your network with expertise specifically in social media and marketing, content creation, or managing your schedule, if that's what you need.
Belay services offers website and social media specific support as well. Learn more on their website about how to work with their assistants.
Take the time up front for future success with your VA
Although it may take some extra time up front to sit down and come up with a game plan for hiring a virtual assistant, it will save you time in the long run. Hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to prevent yourself from burning out on the tasks you don’t enjoy as much about your job. If, after reading this, you’re interested but still unsure if a virtual assistant is the best option, remember that you can start small! Try hiring a virtual assistant for just one or two small tasks at first to ease yourself into it, and then go from there. There’s no exact formula for what your virtual assistant needs to do, so you have the freedom and liberty to craft it to what you need specifically. With a little research, patience, and open-mindedness, you may find exactly what you're looking for to help boost and maintain your author platform.
Author Robin Elno's latest installment in the award-winning Clown William series enjoyed a successful virtual blog tour throughout February. IngramElliott Publishing partnered with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for several stops at prominent book bloggers around the globe, including reviews, excerpts, and exclusive interviews with author Robin Elno. Thanks to our reviewers and fans everywhere for their tremendous support for Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance!
Enjoy the reviews below as well as two special author interviews hosted by International Book Promotion and Teddy Rose Book Reviews.
Praise for Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance
The story is highly spectacular, with the author taking his time in matters of character development with his writing being so vivid and well researched. Elno paints a vivid landscape that transports the reader. For western fiction literature lovers, Clown Williams is an outstanding masterpiece which is not only worth your time but also deserves a place on your shelf.
-Gud Readers review, Goodreads
Author Robin Elno is on tour! Robin's latest installment in the award-winning Clown William series will be touring review blogs from February 3 - 28. IngramElliott Publishing is very excited to be partnering with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours on several stops at prominent book bloggers around the globe. The tour features reviews, excerpts, and exclusive interviews with Rob
You can follow Robin's Tour Schedule and enter a giveaway at Virtual Author Book Tours.
About the book
.A gunfighter with Tourette’s and a quick draw . . . Book three in the award-winning Clown William series finds William on the run. William blames Jesse Evans for starting this violent life and wants to pay him back, but first he must stop the bounty hunters on his trail and defeat his own internal tornado—before becoming a victim.
About the author
Robin Elno is a retired army colonel, semiretired psychiatrist, and full-time author. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, where he is an active member of the San Antonio Writers' Guild. Elno’s Clown William series was inspired by the work of neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote about the unusual speed and accuracy often displayed by people with Tourette’s syndrome. Intrigued by the idea that strengths can rise from differences, Elno created the unique and compelling character of William. Elno’s novels are often set against true historical backdrops like the Wild West.
Holiday Gift Guide 2019
We've talked much in our blog about the importance of social media and building an author platform through an online presence. As the leaves change color, consider changing your approach as well. It can be a challenge to make time to keep up online presences but as the leaves go on falling, the world of social media goes on spinning. We get feedback from partners all the time on how important it is that an author have a strong presence online when searched for. An author's social media platforms are used in marketing programs, book awards programs, blog tours and reviews, and even purchasers can find you if you put yourself out there where you can be found.
This fall, we encourage all authors to take a fresh look at their platforms by following three simple steps.
Even if you are not a pro at this, what matters is that you stay active. It really is about connecting to other people which may include other authors, readers and fans, or groups that you are interested in.
A few pro tips
Lastly, if you don't have the desire, interest, or time in doing all of this, search for and hire a virtual marketing assistant to help you do all these things . . . and it won't break the bank! You can specify marketing assistants or social media assistants and hire someone to help build your brand, keep your sites fresh, and work with you on connecting to followers. Search on LinkedIn or Google for people in your area (if you want someone local) or work with people around the globe offering their services. You can also find students at local colleges that may be interested in the job or just through people you know and already work with. Ask around!
As any author knows, your job is not finished when you finish writing your book. Marketing is key for sales of your book, and, as social media continues to evolve, there are continually more possibilities for how to do this.
Enter the Influencer.
In recent years, influencers have become quite popular, especially in the world of social media. An influencer is someone who has built a following of people that trust and respect their opinions in an area of expertise. Some influencers specialize in fashion, others in food, others in family life, and still others in blogging – just to name a few areas.
Influencers exist, as you may have guessed by now, in the book world, too. And these influencers can be huge assets to you in marketing your book! But, understandably, it can be a daunting task when considering how to go about reaching out to them.
First and foremost, it’s important to look at this like you would any relationship. It should never be entirely one sided. Yes, you want them to do you a favor and promote your book. But don’t forget that, as with anything, these things work best with a symbiotic relationship.
Nice to meet you!
When it comes time to finally reach out, there are a few things you should be certain you do. If you haven’t formally introduced yourself yet, start with that! Keep it brief and personable. Then, give a quick description of your book and why you feel like it connects with her or his area of expertise. When it comes to your ask for support, be clear and concise. Provide them with all resources they will need – obviously a copy of your book, any hashtags or social media handles you would like them to use, as well as any copy you would like them to use when promoting your book.
Show sincere interest
In other words, be sincere. Consider what you can do to help them, as well. If you have the time margin, focus on building a good relationship with the influencer before you ever reach out asking for anything. Simple things like promoting them on your own social media, writing about them in a blog, and sharing things they are working on all contribute to a positive relationship.
This, of course, is easiest to do when you find influencers that genuinely interest and inspire you. Consider who your target audience is, and go from there. For example, if young adults are your target audience, a simple Google search will let you know some influencers in that sphere. Take some time, look through their profiles on social medias, and find a few that you are intrigued by. Give them a follow and begin building the relationship!
Quid pro quo
When it comes to the specific ask for help, be clear with what you want them to do. Consider where their sphere of influence is, and go from there. Do they have a successful blog? Ask them to read and review your book on their blog. Do they have excellent engagement on social media posts? Ask them to post a message of support and a link to buy your book.
If you haven’t heard back from them within a week, follow up in a brief manner. Check that they received the material and let them know you would be happy to answer any questions they may have regarding the information.
Finally, continue to maintain relationships even after they promote your book and continue to follow their posts and offer to promote their content across your sites. You can both be beneficial to each other in the future and become mutually benficial allies in this new online world.
Images by Free-Photos from Pixabay
When it comes to Goodreads, the possibilities as an author are endless. We've talked much in the past about Goodreads as an essential tool for your author platform. (Read a couple of our past blog posts on Goodreads and other social media strategies here).
Goodreads is owned by Amazon and it's a true community of readers and librarians that take their reviews seriously! They are avid readers and writers and make it very easy to connect with others. As an author they offer amazing tools such as a Goodreads Author Profile where you can connect or create a blog, create a giveaway, and participate in a plethora of community groups tailored to various genres and interests.
One major way to use Goodreads well? Book giveaways.
But wait! First things first. It's critical that you spend some time creating a compelling Goodreads presence first. Goodreads makes it very easy to give and get reviews, update your author profile, create or link to an author blog, and connect with other readers and writers.
The more positive reviews you have, the more likely someone is to buy your book if they click on your ad. Spend the time necessary to establish this presence before spending the money necessary on advertising your book and you will be more likely see favorable results.
Let's talk about Giveaways!
Goodreads giveaways have been shown to dramatically increase book sales, and they’re so simple! They come in two options – standard or premium. Read all the detail here and get the quick notes below!
A standard giveaway will cost you $119, no matter how many books you give away within it. Everyone who enters will add your book to their Want-to-Read list, all of your followers and anyone who already has your book on their Want-to-Read list receive a notification of a new giveaway, Goodreads emails the winner of your giveaway reminding them to rate and review your book, and your giveaway is featured in the Giveaways section of the website.
A premium giveaway will cost you $599. You get everything from the standard giveaway, as well as premium placement on the Giveaways page. Additionally, Goodreads will send a message (that you create) to the entrants who don’t win, which could increase your book sales and build relationships with readers.
For the giveaway, you select the span the giveaway runs and how many copies you want to give away. As the author, it’s your responsibility to get your book to the winner in a timely manner and to cover the cost of shipping. While it will cost you less to give away one book, you will get more reviews from readers if you give away more.
You’ll want to make your giveaway description as attention grabbing as possible. Is it an autographed copy? Have you won any awards for it? Why should readers want to sign up to receive a free copy of this? Remember that they can simply check your book listing on the Goodreads site to read the synopsis of your book, so don’t make the only description!
Pro tip: If you schedule the giveaways for a few days in the future, you won’t lose any run time to Goodreads’s approval process. Also, if you select a short span for the giveaway (think 2-3 days), your giveaway will appear on both the newly listed and the ending soon pages, meaning you will get double the exposure at the same time!
A note about self-serve ads on Goodreads
Unfortunately, Goodreads is retiring their self-serve ad feature as of next month. They will focus on giveaways and other advertising opportunities. If you already have a self-serve ad funded and created you can still edit and run it through next February. These ads run (used to anyway) on a cost-per-click model. You set the budget, and your account gets charged for each click until the budget runs out.
Many authors who have used this service say not to plan on immediate results from your ads. However, after time, the momentum usually builds, and the more exposure the book gets, the more interest there is in it.
Check out your author dashboard for whatever new advertising opportunities Goodreads will roll out next or to manage anything current you have going on until February of next year.
Creating an author blog can be an effective extra 'step' in creating your author platform and reaching your audience. Since blogs can be on any topic you like - including those related to or in support of your book - you may pick up additional readers or reviewers interested in taking a look at your book.
If readers haven't used the particular keywords in their search for you (read more about keywords and meta in our blog post here), they may not immediately see your book pop up in results. Using meta data in your blog post, including keywords and categories, will help search engines find your blog, and in turn, find you as an author. Also include social media share buttons on your blog post (most platforms do this automatically), so that followers can easily post your content to their networks.
Blog posts can be topics of interest for your readers or related to your area of expertise or knowledge. For fiction writers, a little less straightforward than non-fiction writers, which typically have a specific area of expertise, it may mean relying on your personal experience and tying it into your fiction work.
Building an audience takes time.
Building an audience takes time.
Building an audience takes time.
The above is not a typo . . . but it's worth repeating. Whether it's an author blog, author social media sites, author events, and other ways to build your brand, it takes commitment, time, and consistency.
Blogs aren't for everyone and that's okay. You can get the straight-talk from one of our favorite bloggers of business advice for writers, Jane Friedman, in her post Blogging for Writers. She says, "The most successful blogs have a very focused angle and appeal to a very specific audience."
Creating a blog takes time, but may be worth it if you have an author website to which you can add the content (read our blog post on building an author website). It's best to use the platform you are already using for your author website - this keeps everything in one place and helps keep your marketing (social media links, blog links, author bio and info, events, book info) all in one place. There are many good and easy to use author website platforms. You can also work with a virtual marketing assistant to help set one up.
Another easy-to-use blog opportunity is your Goodreads Author Page. Once your author profile is setup on Goodreads, they make it pretty easy. From your Author Dashboard, scroll down until you see Your Blog. From here you'll have options to write a new post or sync with a pre-existing blog. Goodreads Authors are the only members who can have a blog on the site, so take advantage!
So give your potential readers useful and interesting information, and hopefully those beginnings will bloom into followers and purchasers.
As the buds are popping brightly and birds are seeking new nesting places, this week’s blog post hopes to inspire our author friends to seek out new followers and uncover potential markets to spring your book into spring!
While most authors are hesitant to market themselves and their books, if this is your career, keep in perspective that your book is the product and all products require a marketing and sales strategy . . . no different than any other business. Marketing is an investment in your career.
The most important aspect of marketing and promoting your book (outside of knowing your audience) is to engage your audience, fans and readers. You can do this via a variety of platforms, many of which we’ve covered in this year’s blog posts and which we will touch on again here.
Who are your readers?
In today's digital world, if you want your book to stand out, you're going to have to step up and get involved in the promotion, which often means communicating directly with your target audience through a variety of channels (online and social media, in-person, through print media, etc.). Get to know your audience! Are they working moms, soccer dads, book clubbers, or glamorous literati? What are your readers reading? And what forums do they use to find new books? Use the intelligence you gather to target your marketing efforts and reach out to those segments.
You can use your established social media presence (even if that’s a Goodreads or Amazon Author Profile) to promote your title. Promotions such as giveaways (available for a fee on Goodreads) are available for FREE on your social media sites. You can setup a giveaway on Instagram or Facebook, for example, by asking your followers to tag your book page (or author page) in a post, follow you, and comment on an Instagram posting. Once they’ve done these things, put their name in a hat and at the end of your giveaway timeframe, send them a direct message and send them their book in exchange for a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.
Blogs & Reviews
You can work with a blog tour company (TLC Book Tours is one we love) to setup a blog tour for reviewers of your work. If you don’t want to pay a service for this help (which is well worth it, in our view, as you get guaranteed reviews and mentions), you can still compile a list of bloggers and book reviewers and email them asking them if they will review your book in exchange for a free copy. They will then usually post the review of your book on their blog, which has lots of followers – which in turn – can become your followers. As we mentioned in a recent blog post about writing for free, you can also contribute articles to relevant magazines or online blog sites, which is another way you can keep raising your author profile.
Find bloggers that will review your book. This can be as simple as googling reviewers based on your genre. Make a list of bloggers that you want to engage for a review and giveaway. For example, here’s a Google search for Historical Fiction Reviewers.
Publicity, author events, and media appearances can also generate awareness for you as an author and connect you with local readers. At each event, you may want to create a gift basket giveaway, with a signed copy of your book, bookmarks, and other merch, in exchange for collecting email addresses. Building a strong email list is a key component in building your followers and reaching your buyers over time. You may also want to consider hiring a publicist. There are lots of book marketing and publicity firms out there – you just need to take some time and look for local agencies in your area that specialize in book publicity. Here’s a great article by book marketing guru Jane Friedman that helps authors understand what to expect when working with a publicist.
Personal selling can be one of the most persuasive selling tools because it allows two-way communication. Consider the following markets:
If you are not familiar with networking, start with people you know: friends, family, co- workers, alumni, and neighbors. Then move on to less-familiar people. Again, avoid overtly selling to people in your network; instead, ask them for referrals and to spread the word about your book. When personally networking, begin by introducing yourself and mentioning who referred you.
Keep in mind that readers want to talk with the author. We talked about creating your own individual social media platforms (Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, etc.) and through these you can connect with everyone you know. In these posts, you can write about your book, give readers insider information, and even share other titles that you are reading and that inspired you or are of interest to you.
One great asset you have in your personal network is the ability to ask your contacts to provide reviews for online retailers for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Kobo, iBooks, and Goodreads (or wherever they buy books). If you have professionals and industry experts in your network, offer to give them a book to review in exchange for a free copy. You can also consider paid reviewers such as ForeWord Clarion and Kirkus Indie to get a professional review of your book.
Relax and take stock.
Most importantly, take a break and take a breath. Building your audience is an experience to enjoy and share. It takes time and patience to build an audience as a new author. Word of mouth is the least cost and most effective way we’ve come across to do this, so keep at it. One reader at a time.
Once your book is published, it's critical to build your audience. This doesn't happen overnight, but rather one night (or day) at a time. We've highlighted several components of building an author brand in past blog posts: Building meta data into everything you do on your author platforms is a way to promote your book with every search; Taking one step at a time to build your author brand; Digging into the mechanics of creating an author website; Pumping up the volume on your social sites; and Strategies for marketing yourself as an author. A big part of continuing to build your author brand is to find new ways to connect with readers.
Creating new content, like articles and short pieces, based on your book or variations on your books theme is a great way to do just that.
Everything you write has the potential to generate book sales. This could be as simple as a book review on Goodreads, a blog on your website, or converting your book (or pieces of your book) into short fiction or article-length pieces to pitch to magazines or online periodicals.
You can create these pieces and offer them for free to newspapers and websites in your specific area of expertise or that cover topics highlighted in your book. For example, a novel about an exotic location could be perfect for an article or excerpt in a travel magazine or blog. Newspapers, online sites, bloggers, and magazines are always looking for strong content - and you are a published author! So put that street cred to work for you. In the bio included after your piece, you have an opportunity to mention your book and your website, which may lead to new relationships online (and down the road, new buyers for your book).
This type of content marketing is sneaky - it helps you build relationships and promote your brand as a contributor and author, all while giving you the opportunity to mention who you are as an author and send readers to your social platforms to follow you and learn more.
So write for free . . . and watch it pay off in sales (and great new relationships to boot)!
Here's a SmartBlogger article about writing for online publications, but there are others, just search on Google and start submitting!