Who You Should Vote For

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 16 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, The Reunion and When Night Comes.
He has won 3 Carol Awards and 3 Selah Awards. Three of his books were
finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book Reviews). Dan is a
member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the
Daytona Beach area where they love to take walks and spend time with
their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books

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Did my blog post headline catch your attention? That was its objective. Of course, I’m not actually going to tell you who to vote for. Not in a forum like this. That would be stupid. Right off the bat, I’d lose half of you. First, I’d lose the ones who plan to vote for the other person. Then I’d lose a bunch more who might even agree with the person I’m suggesting, but don’t think this is the place for someone to talk politics.

After all, this is a Writers Blog.

To be honest, I’m putting this blog post under the heading of “Marketing Tips” not politics. Let me explain what I mean. I’m 59 years old. Not quite a senior citizen, but almost. I’ve been paying attention to politics pretty closely since the Watergate scandal broke in the 70s (when Nixon was forced out of office). That’s a good long while.

I think I can say, I have never seen a presidential election quite like the one we’re facing right now, between Trump and Hillary. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the country as polarized as it is now. Or have seen political conservatives (of which I am one) get so upset and worked up about so many of the issues we’re facing now (and about the candidates they think are the best people to solve them).

Let’s just say, it’s been pretty interesting scrolling through my Facebook feed.

For the first time in a long time, I’ve had to click the “Un-Follow” button several times, to stop receiving an overdose of nasty, angry posts clogging up my feed. Some of these folks were people I had considered “writing friends.” It’s because of this, I thought I should speak up here with some friendly advice.

If you are an author writing books you hope will be bought by members of the public, you should be aware that if you make people feel angry or stupid by things you say on Facebook or Twitter, they probably won’t buy any more of your books.

I’m not saying you should shut up completely, or never say anything about a candidate or issue you support, or against one that you oppose. You have that right. It’s a free country. I believe in free speech. But I also believe it’s wise, if you do so, to always do so with respect for others. Even others whose positions or candidates you disagree with.

If you make them angry, or make them feel stupid…to me, that’s just plain stupid. How do I know this? There are several Hollywood movies that have come out in recent years, movies I probably would have wanted to see (and paid to see), but refused to support because the liberal stars of these movies had come out publicly saying horrible things about some of my conservative views. Had they kept their mouths shut, or even shared their concerns with respect, I would have happily paid the money and bought a ticket.

I suspect this very thing goes on all the time when people are buying books, especially in an election season like this. So my advice? If you must speak out on political matters, be very careful. Don’t knee-jerk react. And always be respectful, especially to those with whom you disagree.

Who knows, they might still buy your book if you treat them right. But they most certainly will not if you make them feel angry or stupid.

 

Indie Corner – Should You Pay to Advertise Your Book?

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 16 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 3 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book Reviews). Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take walks and spend time with their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books


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Let me say 2 things right up front: First, I mentioned in my headline that this post is for “Indies,” but traditionally published authors are welcome to read it. Although, having been one myself (for 13 novels), I’m not sure why you’d want to. Spending your hard-earned book money on a product where at least 80% of the return would go to others (the retailer and publishing house), seems like a losing proposition. 

Secondly, if you are an indie or hybrid and wrestling with the idea of spending some of your hard-earned book money on advertising, you might want to read my first post on this topic written in Novel Rocket back in January. CLICK HERE to read it. At that time, I had learned how to use advertising (especially on Facebook) a few months earlier and talked about becoming more serious and deliberate about doing this in 2016.
That was 4 months ago. I’ve advertised consistently since then and have learned some additional things to share. Part of the reason I chose to revisit this topic is seeing so many active discussions about it among indies on social media.
Now let’s consider some new thoughts, especially thoughts about spending money to promote your book. I know there are things we can do to promote our books that don’t cost actual dollars, just hours of our time. We can blog about our book, go on other people’s blogs to promote it (I’m doing a little of that right here), we can tweet about it, or even create fun little ads and post them on a myriad of free Facebook groups. I’ve done all these things myself.
Some of them have proved to be fruitful. Others, a complete waste of time. And speaking of time…isn’t it really something of a myth to say that we do all these things “for free?” There is something in business called the money-value of time. In short, it means your time (especially when working) has monetary value. All the hours we spend doing these “free” things are hours taken away from writing and rewriting and all the other essential tasks an indie author must do to be a success.
The idea of advertising–if it’s done effectively–is that the ads are doing all kinds of work for you. Actually, if done right, they should be doing a much better job of promoting and selling your books than you could do on your own. The money spent should provide a return that pays for the ad and nets you even more money besides (called ROI, return on investment). Not to mention, all the new readers that are reached because of the ads (who may have otherwise never heard of you or your book).
Here is a screen capture of an ad I created for Facebook (it’s essentially the same ad I began with back in January) for my novel, Rescuing Finley.
I spent a few hours creating it. Since then, I’ve “hired” Facebook to get this ad into the Newsfeed of readers. Not just any readers, but specific readers who are very likely to already be interested in a book just like this. It’s called a “Targeted audience.”
I asked them to show it to people who they know have already expressed strong interest in Dogs, the Humane Society, and who also own Kindle devices or apps (turns out, about 2.5 million people on FB match that criteria). 
When they click on the “Learn More” button, they are taken to a “landing page” on my website (CLICK HERE to see it). This page shows the full cover of the book, highlights some great reader reviews, updates the number of reviews and Stars (which is now up to 167, still at 4.8 avg), and gives them a chance to click on a big Amazon button, which takes them right to the Amazon page where they can buy it. I also have a link embedded on this page that tracks everyone who visits, so I can re-visit them specifically at a later date (like when my next book comes out).
I’m slowly making my way through this 2.5 million target audience. Here’s a graphic to show how the ad did just last month:
See that number? 17,878 people have seen this ad for my book just in the last 2 weeks of April. See that little light orange shading in the beginning of that darker orange bar? If I hover my mouse over it, it tells me these are the people who saw my ad “organically.” Meaning, for free. The darker orange area shows who saw it because of the money I was willing to spend. Turns out, the ad only reached 1,250 people on its own. That’s nice. But an additional 16,628 people saw the ad because I paid FB to show it to them.
The result? I had a 90% ROI on this ad last month. Meaning, I made enough sales to pay for the ad, plus receive 90% more money for myself. I didn’t have to spend hardly any time on this. I also added around 300 brand new readers (many of whom are now checking out my other books). These readers and I would have never connected.
I’ve just done some additional Facebook ads last week promoting my brand new release, Remembering Dresden (just came out this past weekend…the cover is the first pic above on the right…CLICK HERE or on the title to check it out). For these ads, I used the Boosted Post feature. No time left to give you the details, but I made over a 500% ROI on these boosted posts in sales.
Well, that’s my update. Feel free to ask questions. If I can help, I will.

A Free and Effective Book Marketing Tip

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 15 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, Rescuing Finley and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 3 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book Reviews). Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take walks and spend time with their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books.

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A few upfront thoughts…
The free marketing tip I’m about to share is really only for 2 groups of writers: Indies and Hybrids. If you’re a traditionally published author (only), read only if you’re in the mood to become frustrated (because you can’t act on anything I’m about to say; believe me, I’ve tried).
For indies and hybrids (hybrids, I’m referring to the books you have control over), I won’t leave you in suspense. The tip is simple. I’ll state it in the form of a question: “Are you using the front and, especially, the back pages of your book effectively?” I’m sharing this because, when I first started out, I wasn’t. I’ve since learned these pages offer some excellent marketing opportunities, if you do them right. 
One of the great benefits of being an indie is the flexibility to fix your mistakes (once you see them). We can simply make the corrections, re-format, then re-upload the book. I should also say at the outset, most of what I’m going to share works best with ebooks (some of this works with print editions, some of it won’t).
Front Page Tip #1  – One of the best tips I’ve read about the front pages is…since most online stores like Amazon offer readers a free glimpse of the first several pages of your book, use them wisely. Don’t fill them up with all kinds of legal mumbo-jumbo and unnecessary intro information. If you do, you’ll cut down on the number of actual story pages they can read. As quickly as possible, get them to Chapter 1 (or your Prologue, if that’s how your book starts). Some of this “legal mumbo-jumbo” is important. If so, put it in the back of the book, not the front.
Of course, this tip assumes you’ve worked hard to create a great hook in your opening line and first few paragraphs. And that, by the end of Chapter 1, the reader is absolutely under your control and compelled to read the rest of the story. If your first chapter is dull and boring, feel free to ignore this tip and fill the front pages with as much clutter and nonsense as you please.
Front Page Tip # 2 – Create a brief 1-paragraph Author’s Note that draws their attention to the important things you’ve placed in the back of the book for them. Get them thinking right off the bat that you have more in store for them once they finish the book. What kind of things should you mention? For starters, the things I’m about to share with you regarding the Back Pages.
Back Page Tip # 1 – If this is the first book in a series, paste in the first chapter or two of the next book in the series (again, assuming they are flawlessly written and would totally hook the reader). Immediately after that, provide them a link so that with 1-click they can buy the next book. If the next book isn’t out yet, provide the link to the pre-order site. If the book isn’t ready for pre-order, write a brief paragraph that highlights your email newsletter, letting them know this is the best way you can inform them when the book is released. Then provide a link to your newsletter.
If the book is not in a series, follow the same advice above except draw their attention to other books you’ve written in the same genre (and provide links that take them right to the page where they can buy them).
Back Page Tip # 2 – Create a page that politely begs for them to leave a customer review. Explain how important reviews are and the connection they play to your ability to keep writing books like the one they’ve just read (and absolutely loved). Then provide a link so that with 1-click, they will be taken right to the place where they can leave a brief 1-2 sentence review. What if the book isn’t written very well and the ending isn’t all that satisfying? Should you still do this (won’t that be inviting a bad review)? I wouldn’t worry. Because if that’s true, they’ve probably stopped reading before they get to this page.
I’ve put a “begging page” like this in the back of my first 2 indie novels, and I’m seeing wonderful fruit from it. My first indie novel, When Night Comes, now has 239 reviews (4.5 Star avg) after being out just over a year, and my second novel, Rescuing Finley, has received 95 reviews (4.8 Star avg) after being out only 3 months.
Certainly, not every reader will leave a review but some of them will. Reviews from actual readers are simply the best.
Well, I have many other wonderful tips I could share, but this is a blog post. Experts say, you’re already beginning to lose interest because it’s too long. But if you have any great tips to share with other indies and hybrids, please leave a comment.

“Two Types of Marketers” (Which One Are You?)

Have you heard this?
“There are two types of people–those
who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am,’ and those who come in
and say, ‘Ah, there you are.'”*

The first–Type One- is focused on self. Type Two is other-focused.
I suggest that, as we market our books, we are too often TYPE ONE.

 Not sure? Put the question this way, “Does my marketing feel like I’m trying to shout and get attention in a busy room? Which type do others   perceive me as?” 

Having
just put out a new release, my tendency is to be the first type. I want
to rush into a room and shout, “Look! My new book is out! Look, look,
look!!!” All I’m doing is focusing on me and my work. Despite my natural
excitement, that method isn’t going to sell many books.

A better alternative, according to Rob Eagar, marketing coach, is to cease trying to sell your book altogether.
You read that right.

CEASE.
TRYING.
TO.
SELL. 

But
then what, you ask, am I to do? How am I to help move copies as my
publisher expects me to? And how will my book sell if I don’t
market it? 

Become Type Two. Know what you offer and find the readers who need what you’ve got. Then, let them know how your book meets their need. This is quite different from “selling” to them. Instead, you’re helping them discover your benefit to them.

You’ve heard it before: “Know Thy Reader.” If we don’t want to come across as the “Here I am,” author, it is vitally important that we do.

Rob
puts it this way: “Ask yourself, ‘Who needs my value (the message of my book) the
most?” Conversely, “Who stands to lose the most if they never get (my message)?”**
While these questions are especially important for authors of
non-fiction, even fiction authors can use these parameters to find their
ideal readers. 

For
example, my newest release, PULSE, is YA fiction. I could focus my
marketing by searching out all the places on the web that YA fiction
readers hang out and try to show them how my book fits their dream
read. However–that’s sort of like walking into the room and
shouting, “Here I am! Look at my book!” That would make me a Type One
marketer. 

The solution: By asking who needs my book MOST,
I found that a small niche of YA readers fit the bill. (Those who want suspense, not just teen angst or romance.) Another niche of
readers, preppers, fit the bill. A third niche of readers, patriot
gun-totin’ types, also fit the bill. So now I have three niches of
readers who can benefit from my book, because it is a post-apocalyptic
scenario that appeals to all three niches. The YA readers get three teen
protagonists to root for, suffer with, and eventually triumph with. The
preppers get to see how a family that included prepping in their
lifestyle came out way ahead of the general population during a national
disaster. The patriot types get to see the same family defend
themselves successfully. There is soul-searching and God-discussions to make Christian readers who like this sort of stuff happy. 

The
bottom line is that people in these niches don’t just like such
books. They LOVE ’em. Using Twitter as an example, I can tiptoe into the room and show my readers that I’m one of them. When I send out a tweet to the first niche, I
use the #YA #Suspense #Christian #Fiction hashtags. Same for my posts on
Goodreads. When I want to show the second niche what
they’re missing, I send out tweets with #Prepper #Fiction #Apocalypse
#YA in them. For the third niche, I send out #Patriot #Gunrights
#Fiction #YA. But using these hashtags alone isn’t enough. I
wrote out a list of twenty to thirty tweets to use for each individual
niche of readers. In each tweet, I show them a benefit to reading the book.
A benefit that appeals to THEM. 

I’ll
share three of my tweets, teasers, one for each niche, so you get what I mean. 

For YA Suspense fans: 
Feeling
safe in your apartment building? So did 16 y.o. Sarah–until it happened. #YA #Suspense #Fiction #Christian http://amzn.to/1J7CybR.   
(Link to the Amazon book page.)

For Preppers:
“Opening
a #storage bucket, I got hit with a reality check–if not for these,
we’d face hunger.” #Prepper  #Apocalyptic #Book
http://amzn.to/1J7CybR.

For Patriots:
“I’d enjoyed #shooting as a sport–but would we really need our #firearms to
save our lives?” #Patriot #gunrights http://amzn.to/1J7CybR

Teasers are only effective if they
hit the “tickle” spot for the niche you’re trying to reach. Readers of YA Suspense love an element of danger, so I include that in my tweets. (The book
oozes with it. Don’t make promises in a teaser that your book won’t
meet.) For the preppers, the book affirms their world-view. (SOMETHING
is gonna go down, sooner or later, and you’d better be ready!) For the
patriots, the same holds true. (They just KNOW that the proper use of firearms is one day going to save their lives and maybe
the lives of their families.) For each of these groups, there is
affirmation in store when they read PULSE.

How do I know this? Because I’m a YA
reading, hobby prepper, licensed carrier of a gun! (Gasp! Yes, me. It’s my alter-ego to the sweet historical romance writer.) 
I KNOW my audience. I
can walk into a room and say, “Ah, there you are.” 

Now. Can you do the same?  

*Quote by Frederick Collins
**From, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, by Rob Eagar

Linore Rose Burkard is best known for writing Inspirational Romance. As L.R. Burkard  she writes YA Suspense, and is working on the sequel to PULSE, Book One in the PULSE EFFEX SERIES. Find out: Can an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) really happen? Linore talks about it over at the website companion to PULSE. Click menu option: INFO.