3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Paid Ad

By Patty Smith Hall, @pattywrites

Whether traditional or self-published, every author is looking for the best way to market his/her book. Specifically, how do we attract new readers? One way that has grown in popularity are websites like Bookbub, E-Reader Café and My Book Cave who send out email blast with information on sale books.

Here’s how it works: When a reader registers on one of these sites, they are sent to a page with a list of genres they like to read. This is no short list—every genre you can think of is listed, all the way down to sub-genres. The reader is given anywhere from one to five choices that they can follow. Then every day like clockwork, a selection of books on sale from their chosen genre is emailed to the reader with links to the sale sites.
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3 Ways Your Cover Sells Your Novel

by Emilie Hendryx, @eacreativephoto

May name is Emilie and I judge books by their covers.

There. I’ve said it!

I know we’re all told not to, but I do and I’d wager you do as well. We’re told it’s what’s on the inside that matters, and in a way that’s true, but most of the time we won’t make it past a bad cover to see the inside.

I recently wrote a post on my blog titled The Truth About Book Cover Design. In it, I laid out specifics on what makes a book cover “bad” and why you shouldn’t try and design your cover yourself. In this post, I’d like to focus more specifically on why having a good book cover matters.

Before we get to that you must realize this simple concept first:

Your book cover design is essential to selling your book.

I want to stress this because some people will argue that the cover design isn’t as important as say…editing. I’d agree that editing is hugely important, but if your cover is (dare I say it?) ugly, many readers won’t venture past the cover to the content.

I know that there are loyal readers who will see past the cover, so this isn’t a blanket statement, but if you really want sales, my personal belief is that your cover is a major weapon in your selling-arsenal.

Let’s take a look at three aspects of how your cover sells your book.

1) The Looks

A stunning cover will sell a book on looks alone. This isn’t true for every reader, but I have interacted with many people online who will buy a book based solely on its cover, only to figure out what it’s about afterward. This may be shocking to some of you who are loyal “back cover copy” readers or even the poplar “first line/paragraph/chapter” judger, but it’s true. They do exist.

The Bookstagram Phenomenon
For those of you who don’t know, there is a whole community of “Bookstagrammers” on Instagram. Basically, the term “Bookstagram” means that an Instagram account is devoted exclusively to photography of books. I run such an account (@createexploreread) and a cover design is absolutely crucial in this setting. I can’t begin to recount how many times I’ve seen someone post that they love a cover and will purchase the book just because of that cover! On an aesthetic, visual platform like Instagram, having a good book cover design is crucial.

2) The Genre

How your book cover depicts the genre of your book will affect how, and to whom, it sells. I recently gave some feedback to a friend of mine on two cover options her publishing house had given her. They were both well done, professional designs and either would have looked lovely sitting on a shelf in Barnes & Noble. But there was a problem! The font the designer had chosen indicated a certain type of genre, one her book was not in.

The problem? Even having a wonderful cover isn’t enough if the image displayed tricks your reader. If I walked in to a bookstore and saw her book on a shelf, I might have passed right by it because the genre the font depicted isn’t a type of genre I prefer to read.

I may be able to more accurately describe what I don’t like about a cover based on the fact that I design them (and spend hours looking at books), but I’m sure you all have gut feelings about certain books based on their design. Why is this? Because a good designer will take into account the market for your book. They will create a cover to stand out as it fits in.

Isn’t that an oxymoron? It will stand out because it will be a unique and well-done design (hopefully!), but it also must fit within the proper genre. You don’t put dragons on the front of romance novels unless it’s a fantasy/romance. You don’t have someone in space if it’s strictly an historical novel. See what I mean?

Fun exercise: Go to your local bookstore and start to really see the covers. Visit different sections and take a look around. What types of design elements seem to be a common thread in a genre? What types of fonts are used? What colors, images, or shapes? Can you guess what genre a book is without reading the back cover copy or looking at the section title?

3) The Marketing

Your cover is part of your marketing. When done well, your book cover will attract your reader with its beauty and alert them to your genre. It will give them a taste of your novel and hopefully lure them in. Then the rest is up to you, the author, to seal the deal with your writing!

What does this mean for you, the author? That you must be able to trust your designer. If you’re hiring one yourself, make sure they understand your genre and the look you’re going for. If you’re with a traditional house, make sure your cover can “compare” on a bookshelf with other titles like it. A good designer will already be striving for these things.

Lastly, if you know your designer is good at what they do, trust their instincts!

What type of “cover judger” are you? Do you pay attention to book covers? What draws you to a cover?

If you’re interested in hearing a talk I did recently about this very subject, you can view it here.

TWEETABLES
3 Ways Your Cover Sells Your Novel by @eacreativephoto on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2emc6RG

Your book cover design is essential to selling your book. #bookcover #coverdesign @eacreativephoto on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2emc6RG


Many readers won’t venture past a bad cover to the content.~ @eacreativephoto on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2emc6RG
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Emilie Hendryx
is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California. She’s a member of ACFW, writes Young Adult fiction, and spends more time on Instagram than she probably should. With a heart for youth and a love of genuine social media connections, she’s built a thriving community around her Instagram platform and brand: CreateExploreRead. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, you can find her designing fun, bookish items for her Etsy and Society6 shops all while drinking too much coffee.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/createexploreread
Blog: www.eahendryx.blogspot.com
Society6 shop: www.society6.com/emiliehendryx
FB: www.facebook.com/emiliehendryx
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/eahendryx
Twitter: www.twitter.com/eacreativephoto
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/eahendryx

Influence What?

by Cindy Sproles, @CindyDevoted

Ding. The computer chimes and you’ve got email.There’s a nice note asking if you will consider being an influencer. That’s nice. We all like the thoughts of influencing others, but in this case,a number of questions come to mind. Things like influence what? For whom? What’s in it for me?

Let’s take time to learn what an influencer is and then we’ll address what remains.


An influencer is
someone chosen by an author or publishing house to help the author market their upcoming book. There is no financial gain or loss on this deal. You were chosen because, 1) the author trusts your judgment. 2) You have a solid platform with arms that reach deep into social media or specialty groups. 3) You love the author’s work and you’re one to pass along the news when you see a new book releasing. You’re a fan!

What’s it going to cost me? You aren’t required to buy ads, sell ads, nor will you be paid for the efforts you make. You were chosen in good faith and that, in and of itself, is an honor.

Now that we have that cleared up – what does an influencer do? It’s simple. You spread the word about the upcoming title. Tweet, peep, squeak, and squawk to all your friends and peers. If you have a local book retailer, let them know you have a great suggestion for their store and share that information. That’s it in a nutshell. You simply open your mouth and talk.

So, what are the perks?
You get a free book. Once that book arrives integrity comes into play. It costs a great deal of money to print and mail out influencer copies. The author and the publisher are counting on you to help spread the news. Read the book quickly and start to share the information about the title, the cover, release date, and just how much you loved the book.

More and more authors are providing prepared tweets, written interviews for blogs, and making themselves available for Blogtalk radio shows and podcasts. All you must do is grab the information in the format you are most comfortable and run with it. INFLUENCE!

But all I got was a PDF! No, the author and publisher are not trying to knock you out of a free book, but readers are vastly enjoying reading on their Kindle, iPad, computer, or other devices. It’s a matter of convenience. They want you to read the book and share it. Handing it to you in a format you readily use, assures them you’ll uphold your end of the bargain.

Am I required to write a review?
No. You aren’t required to do anything. You don’t even have to read the book, but if you don’t, it defeats the purpose of being an “influencer.” As Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” In other words, if you don’t know your subject matter, you can’t guide others. Please, please, please be kind and write a review. Your review will encourage others to read. Post it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the publisher’s site, and Goodreads. Most review venues do not require huge entries, rather simple information on how you enjoyed or disliked the book, the features that drew you to it, and if you recommend it.One review can spur the purchase of a book, and book purchases help the title gain ground for the author.

As an influencer, you are asked to share the announcement of the book’s release. Adding a review is gravy on the biscuit. After all, you were provided the gift of a nice book. Consider helping the author with a review as well.

What if I don’t like the book? Well, that’s a bit of a quandary, so I suggest you defer to the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Authors nor publishers expect you to be dishonest.And we all know books are subjective. What you may not like, your best friend may love. Keep that in mind.

If you choose to write a review in a negative light, then be kind. Say something like, “This book wasn’t my cup of tea . . . or Though this wasn’t in my wheelhouse . . .” then find good qualities about the book. One can be both honest and kind. There’s no need to rip an author to shreds. That’s of no help to anyone and it makes you look – well, kinda crabby.

Am I allowed to share the book once I’m finished reading it? The books come to you as a thank you, a gift in return for your kindness to help the author market the work. There is no obligation to the recipient to keep the book. I have often donated my copies after reading to the local library with a note written on the inside book cover, “If you read this work, help an author and write a review on Amazon.com. Thank you for reading.”

Is there a difference in an influencer and a beta reader? Oh yes. A beta reader will often be used by small publishing houses to read a manuscript after editing is complete. They act as an extra set of eyes, catching small typos and little details that were missed in the process. Influencers help spread the word. Both are important jobs and if you elect to accept either, please be diligent and do what you have promised.

Accepting the job of an influencer is vital and important. Helping a book “grow legs” is a generous thing for you to assist with. The author and publisher appreciate all your efforts. There are millions of books on Amazon alone, so your job as an influencer, is to help raise that new title into the view of the readers. When a book becomes a success, you know that you personally had a hand in that success. Thank you from both the author and the publishers

TWEETABLES

Influence What? by @CindyDevoted on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xzj6C7(Click to Tweet)

Accepting the job of an influencer is vital and important.~ @CindyDevoted on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xzj6C7(Click to Tweet)

When a book becomes a success, you know that you helped~ @CindyDevoted on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2xzj6C7(Click to Tweet)

____________________


Liar’s Winter

Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark—and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.

Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries, a best-selling author, and a speaker. She teaches nationally at writers conferences as well as mentoring new writers. Cindy serves as the managing editor of SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributing writer to The Write Conversation and Novel Rocket.com. You can visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

How to Grow Your Email List with Ryan Zee

by Patty Smith Hall, @pattywrites

One of my goals for 2017 has been to develop a quality newsletter that I could release each quarter. A nice goal, but with only 32 names on my list–I’ve got to remember to put out those sign-up sheets–it almost seemed like a waste of time.

Enter Ryan Zee.

For those unfamiliar with this marketing website, Ryan Zee works with authors to grow their social media presence through 1) building email lists for author newsletters and 2) growing your following on Amazon and Bookbub. For our purpose today, we’re only going to focus on email lists.

Here’s how it works: each week, Ryan Zee opens, a new genre focused contest. One week, it could be historical romance; the next small-town romance. The genres vary widely from erotic to Christian fiction so finding a contest with your genre is relatively easy. Sometimes, they even break them down according to publishers like the one they ran for Harlequin authors last December. Each contest generally has ten to twenty-five authors participating.

Once you chose the contest you’d like to participate in, you submit your book and pay a small fee—usually around $50. You will also be asked to give 2 copies of your novel or novella, e-book or hard copy to the winners of the drawing. When your application is accepted, the site provides you with a custom-made graphic to post on your Facebook and web page as well as a contest landing page made specifically for your contest. There are also tips on how to increase your social media presence as well as updates on the contest progression.

Once the contest is over, you’re receive the names of the two winners. In every contest, the first-place winner receives an e-reader as well as a copy of every book advertised while the second-place winner receives books.

A week to ten days after the contest is completed, you’ll receive a file with readers’ email addys. To clarify, the reader has a choice as to which author newsletter they will receive. In other words, if there are 2400 readers who enter the contest and you receive 900 of those email addys, it is because those readers chose your mailing list. They’re interested in your work.

So what kind of results did I have using Ryan Zee? My email list grew from an anemic 32 to well over 900 after my first contest. I added another 700 with the Harlequin contest previously mentioned. While the site offers a 50% open rate, I saw an open rate of 60.5% as compared to the industry standard of 14.9%. The click-through rate was steady at 6.9(industry standard—1.5) A little over a hundred unsubscribed after the second newsletter. From this list, I organized a street team of 15 dedicated readers.

The only downside I found in using Ryan Zee is availability. Slots fill up quickly so it’s best to check the website each week for updates on future contest. Another way to work around this is to organize with other author who are looking to expand their email list. Ryan Zee will set up a contest for your group.

TWEETABLES
 How to Grow Your Email List with Ryan Zee by Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

Ryan Zee works with authors to grow their social media presence~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

My email list grew from an anemic 32 to over 900 after my first contest.~ Patty Smith Hall (Click to Tweet)

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Seven women seek husbands to help them rebuild a Kansas town.

Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved?

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical/Heartsong and currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will
be available in July on Amazon.