This week, author Kasie Whitener joined Alexa for a webinar on marketing with book clubs. If you missed the live webinar, you can watch the replay on our Webinars page.
Dr. Kasie Whitener is a writer, researcher, analyst, educator, and promoter of all things Gen X. She has more than 15 years of experience in business process documentation, re-engineering, and analysis. Kasie specializes in adult learning with experience in onboarding, corporate acquisitions, and software training. As President of Clemson Road Creative, Kasie conducts organizational research, coaches process redesign, and conducts strategic planning and learning initiatives. She earned an undergraduate degree at Clemson University, a master’s at Winthrop University, and her doctorate in Organizational Management at Capella University where she specialized in global leadership. When away from work, Kasie can be found in the pool as a US Masters Swimmer, cheering wildly for her beloved Clemson Tigers and Washington Redskins, beating the pavement as a half-marathoner, or entangled in the fictional worlds she creates where the vampires not only hunt, they also time travel.
In this webinar you will learn:
How to get into a book club
How to get KICKED out of a book club
How to sell your books through a book club
Tips for virtual book clubs
Finding Book Clubs
Kasie was invited by The Pat Conroy Literary Center to deliver her workshop, How To Get Kicked Out Of a Book Club, where she met other book club organizers, and began talking to them about her book, After December. Kasie advises authors to attend similar events, and share your book with book club organizers. Look up literary events in your area, and search the program to see if there will be sessions on book clubs, then attend those sessions! Don't be shy about telling people about your book, and ask questions to learn more about how the book club is organized.These questions will help you determine whether your book is a good fit for the book club.
Some questions you should ask are:
What kind of books does this book club read?
How far in advance do they choose their books?
How are the books selected?
Many membership organizations have book clubs, which is a great market to tap. For example, Alexa's sorority has a book club, and issues a month by month list of titles for local chapters to read. And don't overlook corporations. Woman on Top, by WPS client Angela Hosking, was recently picked up by Wells Fargo's employee book club.
Helping Book Clubs Find You
One of the key takeaways from this webinar is making sure people know who you are, and where to find you. This doesn't require a massive marketing campaign, but simply SHOWING UP. In other words, networking will get you far. Introduce yourself to book club organizers, and make sure you are easy to find. Your website should have everything a book club organizer needs to learn more about your book, and why it would be a good fit for their book club. Kasie often makes herself available to attend the book club meeting, and will give a presentation, so be sure to highlight this option if you are willing to do the same. Readers love the opportunity to chat with authors! Your website can also include snippets of the book, and videos that bring the reader behind the scenes. In the case of After December, Kasie visited the setting of her book, in Virginia, and made a video showing the different real-life locations where the story takes place.
Using Book Clubs To Make Your Next Book Better
Kasie points out that attending the book club allows her to gather reader feedback. She advises authors to take in the feedback, and not get upset by it, since the book has already been published and there's nothing you can do about it. Responding negatively to book club feedback is a Instead, use this information to make your next book better! In the case of After December, Kasie is planning a follow-up book so the feedback from book club members was especially useful. Her forthcoming book, Before Pittsburgh, was largely shaped by reader feedback, according to Kasie. Pay attention to what book club members liked and didn't like about your book, and what questions they have about the characters.
Head over to our webinars page to view the replay, and register for our upcoming webinars.
Do you ever feel like you’re a smidge behind the trends as a writer, and you pay for it in a big way? Like if you’d started a blog sooner, it would have done better? Now it seems like there are too many blogs out there, and not enough people reading them. Maybe by the time you noticed everyone starting a podcast, you felt it had become too saturated as well? Or you finally try TikTok, thinking it will be your big break…only to gain a whopping 9 followers after 3 months?
I’m not saying you should give up on those platforms, but I wanted to share something that might give you an edge that keeps you going on those days you feel so far behind everyone else.
You probably know several authors with thousands of email subscribers or even thousands of followers on social media. How many do you know who have thousands of subscribers to a text list? I don’t even know many with hundreds on their list. Maybe they have them and just aren’t sharing the numbers, or maybe they aren’t bothering because they don’t feel the need for a text list.
But as I’ve seen other businesses and even churches sending mass texts, I knew it was something I wanted to join. The problem was that I assumed it was expensive and a hassle. I’ve already got tons of stuff going for my blog, email list, and social media. Adding one more thing seemed overwhelming. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the area where I could stand out.
Still, I didn’t even know it was called text marketing and had no idea what words to even type in Google.
Then I signed up for a webinar with Tony Robbins and started receiving texts about it. When I opted out of the texts, it sent me a confirmation that included a link to the text marketing service used. I started my free account immediately and haven’t looked back!
Here's why this tool is so important for authors:
Enough businesses use it that the technology is familiar and well done but not yet saturated. You and your readers are probably on some mass text list, whether from a church or a business providing alerts of discounts. But they aren't so prevalent that they get lost in the chaos (as many emails do).
It's similar to emails but with a higher open rate. Marketers always mention that we need an email list in addition to social media because we don't have control over social. But email is our turf. Plus, people may take a sabbatical from social but not so much from email. The same is true for texts. And texts have an open rate of something like 98%! The highest open rate my weekly emails have gotten in the past 3 months is 37% whereas something around 20% is average for email open rates. So maybe you gain only 23 subscribers in your first couple of months, but you’d have about the same amount of people opening that text as you would have opening an email sent to 100 email subscribers. As with email, you can create different segments for different groups of text subscribers. Much of the other lingo and capabilities are similar. They can work well together. Maybe someone unsubscribes from your email list but continues receiving texts.
It doesn't have to be another overwhelming task to add to your to-do list. Because texts are so short, they are much faster to create. In fact, I usually schedule 4 or 5 at once which takes 45 minutes tops, whereas I only get 1 or 2 emails typed up per week and can take about an hour each. My texts are a way to connect with my readers regularly without putting in tons of time, and they don’t have to put in tons of time to read it. Learning how to use this tool before other authors will establish you as an authority they turn to once they realize the benefits. You will have answers to their questions and be able to help them because you have the data and experience to do so. You have people you’ve learned from about how to start and grow an email list or social media platform. You will be that voice for others if you learn early on how to use text marketing well.
You can easily promote them in a paperback or at a speaking event. While it's easy to link to an email list in an ebook, people may not be as likely to type in your web address. Plus, they might get distracted as they do. But with a text list, you can type “Text CLUTTER to 31996” or whatever Textword you choose that's available (I just used mine as an example), and your readers can simply text that word to be subscribed to receive texts from you. I think that piques curiosity as well because it's something not many authors are doing yet. It’s also great for speaking events because maybe they don’t have time to wait in line to submit their email address to you, but they will send a quick text. Texts are a great way to build trust and be able to conveniently tell your readers about future books.
People don’t often have multiple cell phone numbers. Yes, they may get a new number, but people often tell me they have multiple email addresses and use one of them to sign up for stuff so that it isn’t going into their primary email. People don’t do that with their phones. You’re usually getting their one and only number that they check nearly every day even if they have a separate work phone.
Now you know why you should give this a try, but I’m also going to show you how to set it up well.
Pay attention to text marketing that you love and that you don’t enjoy. I do this with email, too. I’ve opted out of a few text lists because it felt like spam. Buy these, join that, remember this. They didn’t talk to me like a friend. I was just a way for them to get their message to one more person. Then I signed up for Heather Parady’s texts. She sent me a short, encouraging message each Monday. There wasn’t a link in every text. So when I started my texts, I knew I wanted to send a quote about simplifying your life each week. People love being inspired. And they love getting texts that don’t require anything of them!
Connect with readers regularly. Don’t just send a text when your book is released. Provide value week after week. Give them a reason to sign up. I like how detailed this fiction author is about text marketing, but she mentions that she already had 100,000 subscribers. So it doesn’t seem like she really needed the text marketing. She talks about how expensive her texting service was and how hard it was to get subscribers until she made a good offer. I’ll address that below since I use a different provider and offer, but she only sent 4 texts that year. I send 4 a month. I used to think less was more for my email list, esp since my audience doesn’t like clutter. I found that it actually works far better when I send one email a week that they look forward to and therefore isn’t clutter. It makes them feel like they know me, so they don’t mind when I ask for a favor every once in a while. That’s why I based my texts on the same system.
Make them want to subscribe. If you don’t think your texts are awesome, you won’t be as excited about promoting them. But when you’re providing value and building something amazing, you’re motivated to continue sharing it and encouraging others to join. I give away the audio version of my book, Packrat to Clutter-Free. It’s relevant to the topic of the texts, and it’s something they can’t even buy at this time. When you send a good text, you can use that content to show others how awesome it is to receive your texts. I promote my texts every week at the bottom of my email by sharing the quote I sent in my text that week. This repurposes my content and allows those outside the US to see the quotes since they can’t sign up for the texts. I also promote my Tuesday Texts on Instagram once a week. I don’t get tons of new subscribers but a couple here and there really adds up when you know they are virtually guaranteed to actually read your message.
Make it easy to subscribe. Online, I share this link rather than just saying “Text Writing to 31996” because it’s easier to click the link than memorize what number to text it to if they’re on their phone. If they’re on a computer, their phone might be in the other room. Plus, it’s pretty, and it gives me their name, too. At conferences, attendees may have their phone off. So it’s a good idea to have your Textword and number on a bookmark or sticker they can take with them.
This is the easy, reliable, affordable system I use. Once I found them, I searched other text marketing providers to compare. It started making me nervous when I saw so many big name companies working with them. I thought it would be too expensive. While the 50 free texts don’t get you very far because you could only send one text to 50 people or two texts to 25 people, the $29 plan gives you 500 texts a month, which rollover. They have simple video tutorials like this one to help you set up a page for people to subscribe. They always respond to my emails when I have a question about how to do something.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have a budget to work with, keep it in mind until you have an income you can draw from to make the payments.
But if this is something you see the value of investing in, definitely check it out here and try the free version to see if you like it. You can use this code, STR1168, like I did for a discount off the first month of a paid plan.
It may be a slow start, but I still gain 1-3 new subscribers each time I share my text list with people. That may not sound like a lot, but I count each phone number as 4 people on my email list since so many of them don’t actually read my emails. Starting small helps you get the hang of it and see if it’s something you want to continue investing in. I’ve found that my text subscribers really enjoy it, so it’s worth it to me.
I hope you find that learning this fairly new technology early is something you thank yourself for later!
The cost of editing is probably the most frequently asked question from authors. The answer is: it depends. In the webinar, JoEllen goes over the different types of editors and what factors play into the cost of editing. One tip for lowering the cost of editing is to first do a self-edit, with a tool like ProWritingAid. The less work an editor has to do, the lower the cost.
Another strategy for lowering the cost of editing is to use beta readers. Beta readers are not a replacement for editors, but they can be helpful is pointing out egregious errors such as plot holes and repetition. Learn more about beta readers in this WPS blog post.
Another frequently asked question is, how do I find the right editor? The author-editor relationship is more personal than you'd think. JoEllen recommends shopping around to find the editor that will serve your book the best. One tip she shared for finding the right editor is to think about who your favorite writers are? Whose style would you like to emulate? Ask a potential editor if they are familiar with the work of that author.
You'll also want to take your genre into consideration. Every genre has it's own conventions, and you'll want an editor that is familiar with those conventions. Don't hire an academic editor for your romance novel, for example.
More importantly, you'll need to determine what stage of editing you are in, which JoEllen covers in the webinar. Different editors fill different needs. A developmental edit is much different from a copy edit, both in purpose and in cost.
Learn more about FirstEditing at firstediting.com, and use coupon code WIP19 to get 19% off services, until May 31st, 2020.
Head over to our webinars page to view the replay, and register for our upcoming webinars.
ed. note: Many thanks to team member Nancy Cavillones for submitting this post, which originally appeared on her blog at http://va4indieauthors.com
The Basics of an Email CRM
One thing you'll almost always see in a book marketing plan, or a book marketing course, is an emphasis on “building your list, ” using an email CRM, sometimes called an ESP or Email Service Provider. This means building a list of email subscribers. Of all the ways to reach your readers, the email list remains the most effective way to sell your books.
If a reader is on your email list, that means that they WANT to hear from you. (More on opting-in in just a moment!)
You have more time and space to say what you want to say to readers.
You have the opportunity to provide extra value to your readers.
In this post, I'll cover the very basics of using an email CRM, or Customer Relationship Manager. If you subscribe to an email newsletter or online mailing list, chances are very good that they are being delivered to your inbox via an email CRM like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
First, let's talk about WHY you, an author, needs an email CRM. Whether this is your first book or your 100th book, when you write a book and sell it, you are in the author business. When you collect email addresses, you must provide a way for readers to automatically unsubscribe from your email list. You cannot do this with a personal email address.
Another difference between an email CRM and your personal email is that your personal email server will almost certainly flag you as a spammer if you start sending mass emails, and you'll end up in some hot water.
Okay, let's break down the parts of an email CRM.
Campaigns: Sometimes called a broadcast, campaigns are one-time emails that are sent to your whole list, or a segment of your list. These are usually newsletters, product offers, announcements and updates.
Segment: A portion of your subscriber list that has something in common. For example, you might identify a segment of your list as people who downloaded an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of your book. This will be important when we talk about opt-ins below.
Landing Page: A type of form. Landing pages are a full-page design, usually containing sales or promotional copy and calls to action, along with a form to sign up for whatever it is you're selling.
Subscribers: These are the people who have agreed to get emails from you!
Automation: An automation is a workflow based on triggers. For example, someone may fill out a form to get an ARC of your book. When they fill out the form, it might automatically trigger a welcome email that contains the link to their copy of the ARC. You can do all kinds of neat things with automations, depending on which email CRM you are using.
Forms: This is what readers fill out to let you know that they agree to get email from you. Forms can be as simple as a first name and email address. (Always get the first name, so you can personalize those emails!). Some forms may collect more information, like what kind of content they are interested in or demographic information. I have a client whose form asks whether the reader is a parent, student or educator. The emails she sends out are tailored to each of these groups.
Opt-In: To get someone on your list, you must ask permission! Don't be a spammer. Get permission from readers to email them. Many opt-ins have a freebie attached to them. You send them the freebie in exchange for their agreeing to be added to your email list. Many authors give away a free chapter of their book as the freebie or an ARC. If you receive a list of email addresses from an event or promotional coordinator, keep these emails separate from your main mailing list. Only add them to your main list if they've expressly given permission. For example, if you participate in a BookFunnel group promo, you will collect a whole lotta emails from people who opted into the promo, but not necessarily your email list. Create a segment of those BookFunnel people, send them a welcome email and invite them to join your regular mailing list. It's just good business practice.
Email CRMs range from super basic to powerfully featured. If you're just starting out, I recommend using an email CRM with a free plan like MailerLite or MailChimp. As your audience and your business grows, you can graduate to something like Aweber, ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign. Here, at Women in Publishing Summit, we recently switched to ActiveCampaign because the automation features are very robust.
Nancy Cavillones is an indie author’s best friend and is on a mission to keep authors sane by handling the minutiae of their online presence and communications. She’s been online in some form or other since 1993, and still has the AOL dial-up tone stuck in her head. She enjoys taking the scenic route, forcing her kids to appreciate nature, and spending time in New York City by herself in a desperate attempt to recapture her college days. Originally from Upstate NY by way of Long Island, Nancy recently relocated to Northern California with her family from Redding, Connecticut. Nancy is the co-editor of Lose the Cape Mom’s Guide to Becoming Socially and Politically Engaged (And Rising Tiny Activists, Too!). She has been a member of Team Alexa since 2016. Find her at http://va4indieauthors.com, on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Description: Join Alexa for this closing panel about Bringing It All Together. She is joined by Natasha Carlow, Keri T. Collins, Angela Hosking and Sylvia Hubbard.
Format: Live, on the Women in Publishing Facebook Page
Level: This presentation is for all levels.
Author, Publisher and Summit Producer
Alexa Bigwarfe is a wife, mother, author, publisher, speaker, and author coach. She has published numerous books of her own and for many other writers and entrepreneurs through her author coaching and hybrid-publishing company Kat Biggie Press (katbiggiepress.com). Kat Biggie Press is dedicated to sharing women’s works of inspiration, self-help, and books that make the world a better place. Her children's book imprint, Purple Butterfly Press, publishes books of encouragement, inspiration, self-love, and healing for children and parents. She is also the founder and producer of the Women in Publishing Summit. Follow her everywhere on instagram @katbiggiepress and on youtube for publishing tips at https://www.youtube.com/writepublishsell.
Keri Collins is a children’s author who helps kids and parents better themselves by making better choices. There are times when problems can seem insurmountable, but taking action and making one small choice can get the ball rolling, and lead to all kinds of happy outcomes. Her first children’s book is You Can Call Me Katelyn, published by Purple Butterfly Press in 2019. It's about a girl who doesn’t like her name, and follows her journey as she makes the choice to change it. She also blogs about parenting and kids issues, and offer plenty of tips and other advice at http://keritcollins.com/reading-room/ Her second book, A Big Change for Daisy, is forthcoming from Purple Butterfly Press.
Natasha Carlow is a first time author and long time lover of the written word. As a mother of two amazing rainbow babies, who spent much of her time reading stories to her young children, Natasha noted that there were no stories that spoke to her family's journey. So she decided to write one. Thus Happy Tears and Rainbow Babies- a story of hope, resilience and love was born. Natasha is an Itinerant Counselor and Lecturer who resides in Trinidad and Tobago with her husband and two preschoolers. She and her husband are owners of a children's boutique called Rainbow Babies that specializes in customized clothing and accessories for rainbow families.
Sylvia Hubbard knew she’d wanted to be a writer of romance long before she knew there were black writers in the world. Weaving stories magically as a summer past time to writing stories to get through the humdrum of school, she was able to create something from nothing. Today, she has independently published over 40 high suspense romance books, is the founder of Motown Writers Network and The Michigan Literary Network, CEO of HubBooks Literary Services, runs over five blogs on a variety of subjects, part-time host of The Michigan Literary Network Radio Show and is a happily divorced mother of three children in Detroit, Michigan. https://sylviahubbard.com/
[bctt tweet=”Bringing it all full circle with @heronetribe, @iamkeritcollins, @natasha_carlow, and @sylviahubbard1 at the #womeninpublishingsummit with @womeninpublish1 #womeninpublishing #authors #authorpreneurs #kidlit” username=”katbiggie”]
There is ONE way to still access the full 2020 experience... you can get your Full Conference Pass upgrade now!
The Full Conference Pass/ Community Access is lifetime access to all of the presentations, in video and audio form. Additionally, you get access to a private support community where we are helping each other through our writing, publishing, and selling journeys. And bonus materials! Thousands of dollars of gifts, products, discounts, training, and more have been provided by our speakers and sponsors. You can learn more about the Full Conference Pass here or you can go ahead and grab it now!