Find all my book details, new writing and more at my website: www.jvlpoet.com
Sign up for my email newsletter and I’ll deliver lovely and bookish WordyNerdBird emails into your inbox no more often than twice a month!
There are so many things you need to get right. When I started out, I knew nothing about marketing, very little about social media strategies, and had no idea how hard it is to promote a book and achieve sales.
There is one factor, more than any other, to which I attribute my survival and gradual success.
I have a group of “Indie sisters” who are the most incredible support, help, encouragement and backup anyone could ask for.
They’re all still learning, like I am. Individually, we’ve encountered pitfalls we never imagined, but we got through them with our integrity and sanity intact because of the support we’ve given each other. Together, we’ve done things that would have seemed near impossible on our own.
We’re selling books. We run Facebook groups for support, encouragement, and co-promotion for Indie authors. We’ve run events for Indie Authors Day, Valentine’s Day, book launches, author takeovers, cover reveals, and done a radio/podcast show. We’ve got websites, blogs, twitter and Instagram accounts, and multiple Facebook pages.
It all sounds too good to be true. To be honest, if you’d told me a year ago that five friends whom I had not yet met and I would be achieving these things, I’d have laughed. They probably would have, too.
The secret to what we’re achieving is not simply the sum total of our efforts. We have tapped into what I like to think of as ‘The Power of the Posse’.
It’s incredibly encouraging to know, with absolute confidence, that on the days one of us feels like a failure or can’t see the way forward, the others have their back. We all know that if there’s a challenge, we are in it together. We sincerely and joyfully celebrate each other’s victories and achievements. We talk every day, about all sorts of things, simply because we enjoy each other’s company. We defend each other, and we’d willingly go down fighting to protect each other.
I know, it sounds unreal. But the magic of the “Indie Fabs” goes way beyond our own group. We believe in paying it forward. We read and review other people’s books. We are free with advice and words of experience for those who ask for them. We answer the call when another Indie author – quite often, one who isn’t part of our team – needs help. And we will not ask for payment, except that those we help also pay it forward by helping others out when they get the chance.
I can’t imagine doing all this without Jeannie, Renee, Aliya, Eva and Lyra. I don’t even want to contemplate how I might.
One organisation I know of tried to allocate author teams for their members. Mine, and many others, never got off the ground because it’s simply not possible to manufacture the kind of relationship and teamwork that is required for a posse to work the way it should.
I am absolutely convinced that life/fate/destiny/the literary gods chose my posse for me, and me for them. What we have is magic.
So how, you ask, can you get a posse of your own?
“They march to honour sacrifice…”
April 25th is ANZAC Day.
It’s the day that unites Australians and New Zealanders in remembering the sacrifices made to preserve our freedom and way of life by all Australian and New Zealander soldiers and their allies, not just those who died at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.
Last year, on ANZAC Day, I wrote this poem. I published it on my blog then, and it appears in my book, ‘Nova’.
I wanted to share it with you again today, because it’s so important that we remember exactly what our rights and freedoms as Australians have cost. They didn’t just happen. Time and time again, young men and women have served our nation by fighting for the freedoms and values that we hold so dear. Many have lost their lives. Many have been injured – and not just physically. And many families still grieve for those who never returned.
‘Remembrance’ does not tell the whole story. It’s a glimpse of men and women, young and old, military and civilian, gathered together on ANZAC Day to pay tribute to those who served, and particularly those who gave their lives for their country.
I can never repay that debt. I am not expected to.
But I can pay my own tribute.
Lest We Forget.
How did I not know that this existed?
How did I not know about this?
Even though I’ve been on Facebook for about a squillion years – I was an early adopter – I’ve only just discovered the feature called ‘Reviews’. It has been around for years, but I’ve never used it before.
Then again, I’ve not really had a page apart from my personal profile until late-ish last year when I emerged onto the world stage as a budding poet with many important things to say.
As an author, the way I’ve learned to use Facebook is entirely different than the “look at me” and “look at my selfie” way I used to drive the social media bus. These days, I don’t want people to look at me. I want them to look at my work, discover my books, and tell their friends about them, too. I want to be read, not noticed.
That’s where Facebook reviews and ratings come into the picture.
Facebook reviews and ratings help by leading potential customers to trust your brand or products.
According to Review Trackers, 71% of people say they “somewhat” or “completely” trust what they read on Facebook. At the same time, 66% of consumers regularly share feedback, thoughts and opinions on their purchases using social media.
In short – if someone likes your work enough to leave a review or rating, that’s going to be an encouragement to other people to try it for themselves.
Reviews can also help by increasing your engagement with your audience.
If a new visitor sees that you’ve responded positively to your previous visitors, that will also encourage them to trust you and your products. The more you engage with your audience, the more likely they are to become return customers.
How to add the Reviews tab to your page:
1. Navigate to your page
2. Click on ‘Settings’ at the top right-hand side.
3. Click on ‘Edit page’.
5. Click on ‘Add a tab’.
6. Click ‘Add Tab’ on ‘Reviews’, then on the ‘Close’ button.
7. Rearrange your tabs by clicking on the icon that looks like three little lines next to the title of the tab and dragging up or down.
I have rearranged the tabs so that the Reviews tab is at the top, immediately under ‘About’ and above ‘Likes’ so that it’s always in a prominent place and easily seen by visitors to my page.
When you’ve completed these steps, visitors to your page will be invited to leave a review.
There is one catch.
If someone leaves a negative review, you can’t delete it. Only the reviewer can delete a review.
You can, however, report it and have it removed if you can show that it is not a fair review.
Having a bunch of positive reviews and interactions on your page is your best resource in that situation.
If it turns out that you don’t like the Reviews feature, or if it’s not working for you, you can simply disable the reviews by removing the Review tab, following a similar process to that used to add the tab in the first place.
Leaving a review is easy. You choose how many stars out of five, and leave a short comment. The minimum length is 40 characters. It can be as simple as “Your book covers are fantastic. I love the colours and design.” This would work perfectly well as a positive review.
This means that helping a small business or Indie author/musician/whatever by leaving a positive review could take as little as 30 seconds out of your day.
If you’ve read the book, heard the song, received a beautiful hand-made card or eaten a delicious meal at a restaurant, leaving a review is a great way to acknowledge the work that went into bringing you pleasure.
I’m going to spend some time over the next weeks leaving reviews and ratings for the Facebook pages for authors and books I’ve been reading and appreciating lately.
I’m going to make this an ongoing thing. In conjunction with the reviews I write and post on Amazon, Goodreads and my Book Squirrel blog, I’m going to make a point of leaving a review on the author’s and/or the book’s Facebook page.
It would be fantastic if you would do that for the writers and other Indies you know, too.
Not only will that brighten a writer’s day, it just might help them sell a book or two.
The choice between being either the low point or a bright spot in someone’s day isn’t so complicated.
Sure, my question might not have been the brightest or best he’s ever read. Even so, his response was condescending and made me feel really low. Who needs that kind of negativity in their life? I certainly don’t.
Make sure you’re sending the message you actually want to send to your audience, every time.
For the first time in a long time, I’ve recently abandoned reading a book. I’m usually fairly persistent, but I couldn’t get past the second chapter. It’s so full of basic errors, I’d be giving any of my students who wrote it a D. That book – any book – has no business being for sale on any platform, Indie or otherwise, until it has been properly edited and corrected.
If I had a dollar for every time I have face-palmed over glaring errors of spelling, word choice or punctuation in someone else’s social media posts, I would be considerably richer than I am today.
As people who promote ourselves as writers, it’s crucial that we don’t make those mistakes.
I’m not talking about the occasional typo, and I’m not talking about the type of formatting error that can happen to absolutely anyone when converting a book to eBook format. I’m talking about really basic errors – missing punctuation, terrible sentence structure, shocking spelling. Of course, not differentiating correctly between “your” and “you’re” is always going to frustrate people. There will always be people who put apostrophes where they don’t belong and omit them where they are needed. The same is true for commas.
It boils down to the issue of credibility. If I cannot correctly construct a sentence to encourage people to buy my book, what is going to make people believe I could possibly write a whole book? A writer should be able to communicate their ideas and messages clearly and effectively, without frustrating the reader or making their eyes bleed.
Quite honestly, if someone’s social media posts are full of errors, I’m not going to be buying their book. I’m not even going to put my hand up for a free copy. And it’s not going to change my mind if people laugh it off and say, “It’s just Facebook… relax!”
I may be called judgemental or overly critical. That’s okay.
As a reader and a frequent buyer of books, I’m entitled to be.
As a writer, nothing less should be expected.
If we want people to believe that Indie books are just as good as traditionally published books, we have to make sure they are. We must edit, and have them edited, as professional authors. We must promote both ourselves and our books as engaging, intelligent, and literate. The example we set on social media is part of that, because that’s where we hope to find readers.
Please, folks, for credibility’s sake – in the interests of your own integrity – proof-read all your posts. Make sure you’re sending the message you actually want to send to your audience, every time.
Following my previous post about how to use hashtags effectively, I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a list of hashtags that work well for Indie authors.
My aim in this post is not to give you every hashtag that writers use, but to provide you with a functional list of the most common, and therefore the most valuable.
In addition to these, you can also make a hashtag for your own book or brand.
However, if you’re going to do this, make sure it’s unique to you or your book so that you don’t get lost in a haze of brand confusion.
You can see here that #jvlpo was good, but not good enough.
However, #jvlpoet was completely unique to me. I did this same search on both Twitter and Google when deciding on my domain name, jvlpoet.com.
For example, during Women’s History Month in March, I added either #CelebratingWomen or #WomensHistoryMonth to my tweets that were relevant – but not to all of them.
Adding those tags to a post about spelling or writer’s block simply wouldn’t be appropriate, and would definitely look opportunistic rather than professional.
Similarly, given that April is #NationalPoetryMonth, I’ve added that to my tweets inviting people to read my poetry on my blog, but not to the ones where I’m offering advice to authors learning to use social media.
Using hashtags that nobody is looking for is a waste of time and effort.
Using the search bar near your profile menu and Tweet button, you can type in key words to see which hashtags are the most popular.
The hashtags that come up will change as you keep typing – see from the illustration here the difference between typing ‘book’ and ‘bookw’.
This is a handy way to see what is most popular among the relevant terms that you could choose from.
It also means that even when the feed condenses your post, people see the most important things first – your content, your message, and your website.
It can be really tempting to send your post from Instagram to all your other social media accounts. However, that’s not always the best thing to do.
Don’t share directly from Instagram to Twitter unless you’re under that 140 character limit.
A longer message will get cut off, leaving your tweet looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. Nobody wants that.
Don’t share directly from Instagram to Facebook if you want your post to look professional. A bunch of hashtags look completely out of place on Facebook. They’re not really needed there at all.
Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.
Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.
It’s easy to read a post and move on, and even easier to like a blog post without reading it.
But stop and think for a moment. How much more valuable to the writer, and other readers, if you actually bothered to respond. Isn’t that what you’d hope for when writing your next blog post? Nobody wants to invest time in writing something that people are just going to skim over.
Not only that, but you will gain more from the post and from the interaction with others than you realise.
It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated post. Even just saying “thank you” or “I liked this!” does the trick.
Leaving a comment on a blog post doesn’t have to take more than five seconds, but it can make a huge difference to the blogger by helping them, and whatever they have to say, to become more “discoverable”.
Leaving a comment on a blog directly affects the ranking and therefore the visibility of that blog on both the platform – such as WordPress or Blogger – and consequently on the web. Rankings and visibility affect which posts are chosen to be featured on the highlights pages of blogging platforms, such as the ‘Discover’ page on WordPress which pick up the posts that have had the most interaction and engagement, not just the ones with the most likes or views.
One of the author support groups on Facebook to which I belong has been conducting an experiment over the past few weeks. We’ve made a deliberate effort to read, like and comment on a selected blog post by each of the others.
Those posts have consistently attracted more viewers beyond that initial group. These new viewers also seem more willing to read, like, and comment. This boosts the visibility of the individual post and of the blog overall, and helps to attract even more viewers.
In short, it’s a highly valuable snowball effect in drawing attention to both the post and the blog.
Let’s face it. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do for someone.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any other social media where you can pin a post, you should.
Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.
Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any
other social media where you can pin a
post, you should. Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.
It is an immediate way for people to see what you’re about – your book, your favourite charity, an upcoming event, social justice issues, whatever it is.
It also serves as an easy way for people to share your posts and get your message out to even more people. Some of those people will share your interest, and either share your post or follow you. Some will do both.
In short, it’s a great way to get more attention with minimal effort.
If you have a good number of new followers on a regular basis, you can change your pinned post each week or each month to give followers and “click-throughs” something new to share on your behalf.
It’s also a great way to get feedback on the effectiveness of your post.
The stats at the bottom of a pinned tweet tell me how many replies, shares and likes that post has had. Clicking on the little graph icon at the far right gives you even more detail about how far your post has travelled.
It can get you more followers and more shares.
There’s another thing to consider, too. If people click through to your profile and all you have is shares or retweets, they can easily decide you don’t have original thoughts to share and lose interest. Given that they’ve been interested enough to click through to your profile, that’s probably a bunch of shares and prospective followers that you’ve missed out on.
To pin a post is easy.
On both Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, each post has a little down arrow at the top right-hand side. Click that, and choose “pin etc”.
That will remain your pinned post, and always appear at the top of your profile, until you choose to pin something else there.