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.
We hope all our readers, authors, followers, and fans are staying safe and finding the light during all the recent darkness - family, friends, community. As you are finding ways to stay connected during COVID, don't forget to spend a little time reading (or writing if you're so inclined!).
We have some great new titles coming soon that we're previewing below. You'll see some new authors and some you already love, but all these new novels are poised to thrill, inspire, and entertain. They'll be on sale soon at your favorite book outlet online!
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!
Sometimes our greatest strengths can come from what we view as our greatest weaknesses. Robin Elno says this idea was a huge inspiration for him when he was writing the Clown William series, which is about a young man, William, who suffers from a physical ailment we now know as Tourette's Syndrome. After being kicked out of his house by his father in the first book of the series, a self-defense situation teaches him that he has astounding accuracy with a six-gun.
The book series follows this unexpected hero through Colorado and New Mexico as he defends himself and those around him with this unexpected talent. And now, Elno has the third installment in the series ready for readers.
Picking up where book two left off, Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance finds William still in New Mexico. In the book, he is obsessed with tracking down and finishing his war with the man he blames for his life turning out the way it has – Jesse Evans.
As always, William is a target for many. He battles an inner conflict, as well, deciding to wait until Jesse is out of a compromising position before making his attempt on Jesse’s life. William is in a race against his own inner tornado . . . Will he beat it before it takes him out?
Robin Elno brings his experience as a retired army colonel and semiretired psychiatrist to this book series. He says he was also inspired by neurologist Oliver Sacks’s work about the unusual speed and accuracy often displayed by people with Tourette’s syndrome. The third installment in this series, Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance, is now available for pre-sale at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. And, until then, here’s a little sneak peek . . .
An isolated cabin in the New Mexico wilderness, February 1878
A bullet splintered the wood window casing of the cabin where William waited to kill Jesse Evans. William ducked lower. Things had not gone as planned, though one of Jesse’s men lay dead on the snow-covered ground a few yards in front of the cabin. Jesse hid in the tree line fifty yards away, cracking away with his rifle at William.
“You’re a damn fool, William,” Jesse shouted and fired again. “I know you’re fast, but a six-gun against a rifle?”
“This d-d-day has been coming for three years.” William watched the trees, trying to spot Jesse’s position. “Hoot. Ever since you first put a gun in my hand.”
“Seems more like God’s act than mine,” Jesse bellowed. “He’s the one made you defective with your jerks and mumbles. It was me helped you discover the gift that came with that curse.”
“It is no gift.” William fired at the trees. “I hate being a gunfighter. But you and God made it so I have no other choice. I despise you both for it.”
“Your hatred addled your brain. You let yourself be caught under my gun like this.” A shot, the bullet digging another splinter from the cabin wall, punctuated the statement.
The muzzle flash marked a spot in the trees, creating a perfect target for the next time Jesse fired—provided the outlaw didn’t shift to a new spot. William goaded him into another shot. “Your men killed my friend. You drove away my girl, Emily. Sheek, poot. You ruined my chances for a real home in Lincoln.”
“Well, when it comes to killin’, your Regulator pals ain’t any better. How many of Brady’s men have they killed? And locked Sheriff Brady up in his own jail. This war ain’t personal. Hell, I offered you a job on my side.”
“This is personal. I am not riding with those murdering Regulators now. This is about me f-f-finding a place to settle down, in peace.”
“Why're you gunnin’ for me?”
“Because God is out of my reach.”
“And so am I.” A muzzle flash just where it had been before.
William snap fired. And waited.
The sun climbed the sky, and the branches of the trees shed their white sleeves. Ice crystals glistened in the receding snow banks. The air lay still and cold as the top of a frozen stream. The dead man he’d shot that morning sprawled in front of the cabin. The man’s horse stood in the open, its head down, nuzzling snow aside as it pulled at tufts of dry grass.
The waiting dragged on. Was there some way to draw Jesse out? With one eye on the tree line, William threw a side of bacon onto the griddle of the potbelly stove heating the rough-hewn cabin. A pot of coffee simmered beside it—a nice welcoming scent to torment a cold and hungry man. He hoped it would make Jesse act rashly. Come and get it, William thought, revolver ready in his hand.
The bacon crisped and the coffee boiled. Jesse did not take the bait.
William ate the bacon and drank the coffee.
There had been no more shots. All was quiet. Too quiet.
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.
This series will focus on Amazon and Goodreads ads and how they are used in helping promote books and helping readers find the next unique find for your library or beach bag!
As an indie publisher and author, Amazon and Goodreads ads can be a great opportunity to promote titles and get visibility for books.
Amazon is currently the largest platform for purchasing eBooks and Goodreads currently garners 300 million pageviews and 45 million unique visitors a month.
Amazon Ads: Sponsored Product Ads vs. Lockscreen Ads
Now for a quick history lesson! It’s important to know that what is now known as Amazon Advertising used to be called Amazon Marketing Services, or AMS. AMS was rebranded to Amazon Advertising back in September 2018. With the rebranding, things have changed!
Before AMS was rebranded as Amazon Advertising, it offered two main types of ads – sponsored product ads and product display ads. Now that it’s been rebranded, it’s out with the old and in with the new… kind of. Instead of product display ads, Amazon Advertising offers lockscreen ads alongside its sponsored product ads.
So what’s the difference between a sponsored product ad and a lockscreen ad, then? In Amazon’s terms, product display ads “promote products to shoppers actively searching with related keywords or viewing similar products on Amazon,” and lockscreen ads are “based on shoppers’ interests and are shown when they ‘unlock’ their Kindle E-readers or Fire Tablets to begin reading or shopping for books.”
In other words, sponsored product ads will help when readers are actively searching for a new book to purchase and your book fits in with the keywords they are searching for (think “mystery”, “fantasy”, “romance”, “quirky,” etc.). Using keywords, sponsored product ads can be very useful! Lockscreen ads, meanwhile, are based on the readers’ interests and habits and not so much on what they are actively searching for in the moment. Both can be valuable, if used correctly!
These types of ads are both great because they cater to a very specific audience, and, when it comes to ads and the sales of a book – the more specific the audience, the better! It’s also important to note, however, that lockscreen ads are only for Kindles and Fire Tablets; therefore, your exposure and target audience will be much smaller and more limited with this option than it would be with a sponsored product ad.
Maybe you have noticed when you search for something on Amazon and your first several results have the “sponsored” label at the very top? Those are sponsored product ads! If you’re a Kindle or Fire Tablet user, chances are you’ve probably come across some lockscreen ads catered to your own interests and habits, too.
Would you be more likely to buy what comes up as a sponsored product or a lockscreen ad?
We'll have more interesting info on Amazon and Goodreads ads and giveaways in the coming posts , so stay tuned!
As we've shared in many past posts about author marketing, it's important to use a variety of tactics to generate awareness for your books. You can leverage givewaways and ads on Goodreads, reach out to bloggers and journalists for reviews and articles; run organic and paid social media campaigns; participate in talks and events; publish articles, opinion pieces, and become of guest blogger; get interviewed on podcasts; and even expand your author social media accounts by creating profiles for fictional characters from your books.