Sunflower Watercolors Lisa Shea

Sunflower Watercolor Giveaway

Sunflower watercolor giveaway! Chime in the comments on which one you’d like to win (you can choose ‘either one’).

I’ll do a drawing Thu Aug 13th for the winners. I’ll mail it to you free!

Unmatted / unframed 🙂.

Each sunflower is sized to be matted within an 8×8 overall frame. Please remember to mat it. Watercolors need to have space between them and the glass.

US only please, unless you’re willing to pay shipping to your non-US location 🙂.

Ask with any questions!

Getting Reviews - Marketing Your Book

Author Retweet Group Book Marketing

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter you’ve probably seen my enormous push as I gear up for Halloween book sales. A key focus of my marketing for all books horror and spooky has been building up the Horror Retweet Group, which I created. Once that is all set I’ll create a Paranormal Retweet Group and then a Romantic Suspense Retweet Group, to help several authors here. I already have a Sweet Romance Retweet Group which I’ve let go dormant; I will get that back into action shortly.

Here is how retweet groups work. I’ll use the Horror group as an example as that is the one I’m working on right now, but the same theory will apply to the others as well.

What Is a Retweet Group?
At its core, a retweet group is a way for authors in a genre to share promotions amongst themselves, to maximize each promotion’s reach to perfectly targeted fans. For example, if I have a horror book Deathwatch and a fellow horror author with 30,000 fans shares the news, I’m now reaching 30,000 wonderfully receptive readers who will be interested in my book. This is MUCH better than trying to market that horror book to people who adore regency romance only. It’s also much better than trying to market a horror book to a generic “I read books” list. The more specifically you can hone in on your ideal readers, the more perfect the rates of purchase will be.

A retweet group is a way of easily managing the sharing process, so that as little time as possible is spent on the marketing. We authors are all quite busy. The more the process is streamlined, quick, and easy, the more likely it is to be done. The more authors who participate on a given day, the biggest rewards that benefit every author in the group.

Preparing for a Retweet Group

Every author in the group has a Twitter account. That is key. Out of all the social networks, Twitter is one of the top for reaching strangers who love a specific book genre. 

Every author in the group also has a Facebook account. That’s because, while Twitter is best for reaching strangers, Facebook is best for sending notifications about specific things you want to know about and for managing private groups so that spammers can’t cause trouble.

So set those two accounts up first.

How a Retweet Group Works

The retweet group is managed through a private Facebook group. The purpose for this is to have a secure location which spammers can not harass. Only members of that group can participate, and they can be evicted if they cause trouble. You can see one in action here. Feel free to join just to look at how it works. You don’t have to actually use this one.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/horrorrtg

On each day, a starter post is made. This post is just for the day in question. So for example a post is made for Sunday August 9th. This post gathers up all the authors who wish to participate for this day. Authors choose which days they want to join in. It is always up to the author when to participate.

The authors who wish to participate on this date make a post on their own Twitter page about their book. In general posts should have engaging, descriptive text. They should have an eye-catching picture to draw attention. They should have a ‘call to action’ link to buy the book. In essence, they should be a normal book promotion post.

Once that Tweet is made, the author can then click on the time-stamp that goes with their tweet. That gives the author a unique URL that goes directly to the tweet.

Now the author goes to the Facebook thread for the current date. They paste in that direct URL. That way the other authors can easily find this tweet with one click.

Each author who participates adds in the URL pointing to their tweet. All other authors then click on and retweet those tweets. It makes the process quick, easy, and effortless. All the author does is make one tweet to promote their book, which they should be doing normally anyway. They paste that link in so the other authors know about it, and now each other author shares that news out to their own fan base. It gets the word spread far and wide.

That right there is the entire gist of a retweet group. Author makes post. Author shares posts made by fellow authors. Everyone helps everything, and it’s nicely organized to make it easy.

Added Enhancements of the Horror Retweet Group

I wanted to take the Horror Retweet Group to the next level and make sure we could really spread the news of these books as far as possible. So in addition to the base retweet group, I added on some extra features. These are not features found in most base-level retweet groups, but they add a lot to the book sales of the authors who participate. I’m intending to do these same things for the paranormal and romantic suspense groups, so the features are good to understand.

First, I made an actual twitter account for the horror retweet group. That way every book gets the additional benefit of being shared out by it. Even without much effort at all we’re over 2,000 followers. We’re starting to work on growing that now.

https://twitter.com/HorrorRetweet

We’re encouraging horror authors to tweet with #HorrorRTG to be shared. That then brands us and our efforts. We just started up a weekly “We will review your book” post, and that’s getting good traction. All of this directly benefits the actual core group of authors who we are promoting. In essence we are building up a large following of horror fans specifically to benefit the small group of participating horror authors.

Because we are using HorrorRTG I also just grabbed that account name, just to make sure nobody else took it and started using it to benefit from our efforts. This is brand new and mostly exists to add likes and shares to our posts.

https://twitter.com/horrorRTG

I created a WordPress website at HorrorRetweet.com with a main purpose of just showing all the horror-themed tweets. It means we’re more easily found in Google and draws in more eyeballs. I don’t have to update this page. I can just let it auto-update with the tweets. That’s a standard free WordPress plug-in. 

https://horrorretweet.com/

I also created a WordPress website at HorrorRTG.com – its main purpose is to promote the actual author retweet group. Again I set it up once and now it just takes care of itself.

https://horrorrtg.com/

A main reason I grabbed both URLs is I don’t want someone else benefiting from all this effort we’re putting into building the brand.

Why Have A Website?

A key reason to have a website / blog page which contains all your content is that Instagram doesn’t let you link to things. So if I make a post on my Instagram account that says “Everyone check out this latest cool horror book!” they can’t click on a link. They would have to go search on the title by hand.

It’s even worse if you’re trying to promote a video – the URLs for YouTube videos can be complicated.

The only link Instagram easily provides is the one URL associated with the entire account. So for the Horror Retweet Instagram account, that one link points to the HorrorReweet.com site. On that site the readers can easily find the links to the videos we post and so on. It provides a far easier way for them to find content. If we instead pointed them to Facebook or YouTube they would have to dig through all sorts of posts to find what they wanted. Your own website can be organized the way you want it to be.

So in summary, a retweet group is an easy, organized way for authors in a genre to all take advantage of each other’s fans. They can easily manage when to share information around from each other in a coordinated fashion. It’s wholly free and quite powerful.

If you have any horror books, please join this existing Horror Retweet group. I will be setting up groups shortly for paranormal and romantic suspense books. If you have cozy mysteries,  SciFi/Fantasy books, or sweet romances, I recommend joining these existing groups:

Cozy Mystery:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1604936746452536/

SciFi / Fantasy:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/339669043096747/

Sweet Romance (this is mine, I will get it going again shortly):
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1883435235306445

And again the one getting spun up into powerful life right now is the one for Horror:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/horrorrtg

Ask with any questions! 

Book Marketing for Authors

Building an Author Newsletter

I encourage authors to use all publicly available book promotion newsletters at their disposal. Some smaller newsletters, like BookBasset, are general use and target all readers of all interests. Other larger newsletters, like BookBub, have specific lists for specific interests. With the genre-specific lists, you can target just those who adore paranormal books or just those who love historical fiction. It gives you much more bang for your buck.

The absolute best solution, however, is to create your OWN author newsletter.  This allows you to specifically target people who adore YOUR writing. That way you know every single person you reach is someone who is likely to buy your book.

The question is, how to you build and maintain your own author newsletter?

Choose a Platform

You’ll need a system to actually gather up and store those names. You don’t want to do this one by one from your own home system. It gets tedious VERY quickly. The system I use for most of my newsletters is MailChimp.com. MailChimp is wholly free until you reach 2,000 active members. At that point you’re probably selling enough that you can absorb the cost of their plan as part of your monthly marketing budget.

I also run my own newsletter mailing lists, because I know how to write database code. That being said, I’ve transitioned most of those over into MailChimp because it’s just easier to let MailChimp take care of bounce-backs and unsubscribes and so on.

You can also look into WordPress plugins, if you use WordPress.

Mail Weekly

You need to stay in regular touch with your readers. It can be a short note about how you’re doing. It should be friendly and interesting. Don’t just keep saying BUY MY BOOK. People will unsubscribe quickly from that.

If you leave long gaps between newsletters, then when people get them they’ll forget what they are about and unsubscribe. If you get hit with too many unsubscribes at once, it can cause issues for your newsletter. Stay in regular touch to avoid that.

Build Your Membership

When you start your newsletter, it will be small. The benefit of a newsletter comes when you have 10,000 or 20,000 or more members so with one quick effort you can reach legions of your fans all at once. But how do you build up to that level?

First, make sure there are links to your newsletter EVERYWHERE. On every single page of your blog. On your Facebook account. On your Twitter account. On your Instagram account. On your LinkedIn account. Do you not have all those areas set up? You really should. People in our modern world are picky about where they “live”. Some people hate Facebook and adore Twitter. Others hate Instagram but love LinkedIn. You want an account everywhere so you can be found by each set of fans.

Next, contact fellow authors in your genre area. Offer to do a promo swap. You will mention them in your newsletter, and they will mention you in their newsletter. The benefit of this is you are targeting people who CLEARLY LIKE NEWSLETTERS :). If they are likely to subscribe to one, they are likely to subscribe to the other, if the genres match.

Make sure a clear, easy to use link is in the back of EVERY SINGLE BOOK you publish. It shouldn’t be a long, complicated link. People hate to type. Make it clickable for the ebook version and short-and-easy for the text version. Use a URL shortener if you need to.

Put fun, interesting factoids or information in your newsletter. That encourages people to share them around to family and friends. That encourages people to subscribe who you never even knew about.

Keep at it. Newsletters build slowly but snowball over time, as their reach grows. Keep sending to it. That regular contact builds relationships, it rewards loyal fans, and it keeps you present in readers’ minds.

Ask with any questions!

A Demons Game - S M Nevermore

Book Basset Promo Newsletter

Our book publishing world changes every single month. Things that worked perfectly in 2019 no longer work well in 2020. A book genre that is smoking hot in March could cool down by October. Authors need to stay aware of these trends to maximize their sales and reader engagement. Think of it as a fun challenge, like knowing what the best movies to watch are. It’s something which brings great rewards for you, both as a reader and a writer.

Just one example is how book promotional newsletters work. I’m focusing here on free book newsletters, because in general readers are very likely to try out a new author for free – but they are far less willing to risk money on a new author. Free promotions are by far the best way to drive up rankings and review counts for long term success.

Back ten years ago, readers were amazed at the idea of getting free books. Until then, most readers had been paying a fair amount of money to physical bookstores to read books. Now they were being informed they could get books INSTANTLY for FREE. This was eye-poppingly amazing. Readers signed up to newsletters in vast droves to get this information. Every day they would get directly emailed a list of what was free for that day. Readers would pounce on those books ravenously, even if they weren’t planning on reading them right away. They wanted those FREEEE books in their libraries.

Even super-cheap newsletters like BookBasset, with a relatively tiny mailing list and only costing $8 for a run, would get an author downloads of 700 or more in a single day. And given the current sales volume on Amazon, this could vault you very high in their lists. This is one of my promos.



Let’s move forward to now.

Book Basset’s newsletter volume has grown greatly. So they have more subscribers. But what has changed is that Amazon is now STUFFED with free books. A reader can easily go to Amazon, go to their favorite genre, sort by price (or show the ranking by free books) and they get hundreds of books right there which are free. The problem no longer is getting your hands on a free book. The problem is that your Kindle or Nook or whatever device you use can easily be stuffed with TENS OF THOUSANDS of free books and a large portion of them are awful. So if anything readers hesitate before clicking on a free book now.

The reader evaluates the cover. Does it look professional enough to indicate the author is worth trying out? Is the blurb well written and engaging? Maybe they use the ‘look inside’. Is the content going to be worth adding to the giant pile of To Be Read books already waiting?

So the experience is wholly different. Readers are much pickier about what they put onto their device, even if it’s free.

On Thursday, August 6th, I ran a free BookBasset promotion for S. M. Nevermore’s demon book. You can see the online version of the promo here –

A Demon's Game - S. M. Nevermore
A Demon’s Game

As a result, the book got 65 downloads on Thursday and then another 16 on Friday. Which brings up an important point. If you are “dropping your price” to free for a newsletter promotion ALWAYS RUN THE FREE PERIOD FOR AT LEAST TWO DAYS. Have it free for the day of the newsletter plus the next day. You want to get as many people as possible to download and review your book, to boost its ratings and rankings. Many people don’t get to their email on the day it’s sent. Give them the extra day.

This book hit #1 in short Fantasy and #2 in short Teen/YA which are two targets for her.

On the very next day, Friday, August 7th, I ran a free BookBasset promotion for book 16 in my medieval series. The online version of the promo is here –

Becoming Whole - A Medieval Romance

That book got 371 downloads on Friday and 106 downloads on Saturday. In addition, I got 36 Kindle Unlimited pages read on Friday and 265 on Saturday. Readers in KU also see the books as the rankings rise and jump to grab it, too. I get paid for those pages read. This promo also then raised sales of all my other books in this series. 

My book hit #1 in teen/YA historical romance and #4 in the overall (adult) medieval romance. Those are target areas for me. I was #520 in the entire Kindle store. Again for only $8. If you do this with a bigger newsletter you get far better results, but $8 is cheap and easy.

Note that it’s not like you can run in the exact same newsletter every day! Maybe once every three months is the maximum, because now you’re just hitting the exact same readers over and over again. Either they got it the first time or they aren’t interested, in general. But the point here is you should USE these resources because they exist. Other authors in your genre are using them. If you watch other authors vaulting up the charts, undoubtedly they are doing something like this. To get your book found, you want to do the same thing, on a regular cycle.

So on one hand you can say I “only” got 371 downloads, where a decade ago I could have gotten over 700 downloads. On the other hand, it’s still enough to get me high rankings in my target area I care about. I don’t need my medieval romance to compete with mystery readers or horror readers. I care about reaching my medieval romance readers, and as long as I reach them, that’s what matters.

It’s also worth it to note that each genre has its own volume of readers. Nevermore was able to get to #1 in her area with “only” 65 downloads. While I got a higher 371 downloads, I was still only #4 in my adult medieval romance area. And note that isn’t even in the main “romance” genre area!! It was only the sub-genre of medieval romance. It shows how much tougher it is to get a high ranking in romance, with so many authors hammering their marketing every single day. So the more you can specialize into a specific sub-genre, the more able you are to be seen by those specific readers and make that connection. It is definitely true that many regency romance readers adore regency romances and have little interest in medieval romance. It’s also true that many contemporary sexy romance readers have zero interest in gentle regencies and medieval stories.

Sure, there are always readers with wider interests. But our modern world has created an environment where many readers can and do delve into one particular sub-genre and gladly relish that world. So the more an author can be aware of that and know exactly where their fan base lies, the better they can market.

To summarize – first make sure your cover and blurb are top-notch. Keep revising and tweaking them. That is ALL that is seen in a book newsletter, to lure in the click. Then run a FREE promo for your book. Have your book set for free for at least two days to soak up as many readers as possible. Hammer the book in all other platforms (Twitter, Instagram etc) during that time period to maximize the book’s ranking rise. That up-swell in ranking should then translate into sales and reviews in the coming weeks. Be patient. People who download free books rarely read them instantly. But they will get read. This is a long-term marathon, not a sprint :).

Ask with any questions!

Here is my historic review of BookBasset, to see how it worked in years past.

https://lisashea.com/lisabase/writing/gettingyourbookpublished/newsletter/bookbasset.html

Here’s a link to BookBasset itself –

BookBasset.com

Cover Design Process

Powerful Book Marketing with Book Cover Interactive Discussion

So many authors nowadays do a big, single cover reveal. They tell fans a book cover reveal is coming and then on the stated date they show the cover. People OOoh and Aaah over it.

Not only is that the most basic form of interaction you can get from people, but it also doesn’t give you any valuable information. These are your target audience members you are talking with. They are your fans. They are the ones who know best exactly what type of covers would grab them and make them want to buy.

Why would you pass up this golden opportunity? Why would you miss out on the powerful trifecta of building your social networking, getting your fans emotionally invested in your upcoming book, and perfecting the cover so it is absolutely perfect?

You need to do a cover LEFT RIGHT CENTER poll.

Here is how it works.

If you only have two choices, it will do. But when possible, give your readers THREE choices. More than that just gets confusing. Show them THREE potential covers side by side. They don’t need to be wildly different. They just need to show a few possibilities.

So here’s one I did with two covers.

It got hundreds of responses.

Here’s one I did with minor changes on a book cover. This one got 337 comments (including my responses) –

Newgate Prison Facebook Thread

A similar thread with the same horses got an additional 248 comments in a private author’s Facebook group I belong to, plus the scattering of responses on other platforms.

This voting process gets all the readers ACTIVELY (rather than passively) engaged in your book. They feel as if they helped to craft the book, which in a way they did. The more emotional of a connection you create between readers and the book, the more likely they are to talk about it, recommend it, buy it, and review it once it comes out.

I remember attending a funeral for an author friend who died unexpectedly after finishing a book. At his celebration of life, person after person came up and the thing which stood out most for them is how they helped him do X on a book or helped him figure out Y. It is really that powerful. Get your fans to feel that.

Also, your fans are your target audience and they are the ones buying the books. Cover design themes change month to month. It could be the book designer you’re working with settled into a style a year ago and keeps using it. The readers know styles have changed since then. They’ll give you valuable advice about how to be found and stand out. You need to listen to and trust your fans.

The more posts that are made on the thread, the more the thread is automatically elevated by the social network as a “thread worth seeing”. That means even distant friends and followers are now seeing it. Always make sure this thread is PUBLIC. You want every single human being who can possibly see it to see it and comment on it.

The act of people interacting with this post means the network is more likely to show them future posts you make – i.e. your book promotion posts. So you are “priming the pump” to show them your marketing material when you want them to buy.

Thank every single poster! Even if they disagree with the end result, it is still valuable to get their feedback. With the horse cover I had 99% of people wanting the center image. The people who preferred the side images had valid points! In general you want to trust in the majority while also listening to the details the minority offer – often times they provide that last tweak to truly elevate the cover to exceptional.

Market to writers. I know some writers say, “Well they are writers, why would they want to buy my book?” Most writers LOVE to read. The more you can target fellow writers in your genre, the better.

And, finally, cover design trends change FREQUENTLY. You want to revisit and perhaps update your cover at least once a year. Never just sit back and assume it was great so it still must be great. To keep your book selling, you need to do updates. Every major author does this.

So, to summarize, avoid at all costs doing just a ‘cover reveal’. Do a cover comparison. Get that feedback. Drive up your social response. Create fan emotional engagement. You’ll end up with a perfect cover along with an avid fan base waiting for its release!

Ask with any questions.