My 7 Instagram Tips for New Authors

Some ask me about using Instagram. I don’t know if I am the right person to ask; I don’t have a lot of followers (if that’s important). But, I managed to put together something for you. First, I think IG is a great place for writers because there is a huge reader and writing community there. But ya’ll know me and if you don’t here’s the thing: I am not just a writer. I am also a wife, student, and now the co-founder and CFO of my family’s new Non-Profit Heart of the Streets Inc (learn more here), which means I value my time so I don’t invest too much time in anything without researching it. I use IG because it works for my business and the support is better than what I receive from Facebook and Twitter. Below, you will find seven tips I put together for new writers who also enjoy using the gram. Hope it helps.

  • Private Page to Business Page

There are three kinds of pages. Private, Public, and Business pages. If you’re an author or businessperson using Instagram, it’s a good idea that your page is a business page. If you are using IG for business and your page is private it doesn’t make much sense. You won’t be able to track to see if your post strategy is working (assuming you have a strategy), and people who want to visit your website to possibly buy your product or learn more about you as a businessperson will be turned off when they run into the private wall. They may not return. Get out of thinking anything on the internet is private. It’s not and making your profile private does not make it “safe.”

Before you make the switch:

  • You will have to connect to a Facebook page. Not your personal page but an actual page. If you have not already, head over to Facebook and create a Facebook page for your author business. This will make it easier when you switch over. Then, come back to your IG, click on the three bars and go to settings. Click on account. Scroll down until you see the option to create a business page.

If this is your personal account you are switching from, make sure it’s because you’re ready to transform the posts from your personal page into more business savvy content and not just random pictures of your cat. Some say you shouldn’t change your personal page to a business page (because of the cat thing), but I have found I get more engagement and clicks to my website using my personal page so this will depend on where you are already. If you have a separate business page and that page is already lit, by all means use it. As a new author though, you probably are using your personal page for now so you can just turn that page into a business page to make things easier.

Just as author blogs differ from business blogs, I believe author social media pages differ from business, social media pages in some ways. Sharing our interests is part of people getting to know us better and people buy books from people they know and share interests with. The personal page, in my opinion, for new authors is the page people care most about and it makes sense to build on this by transforming it into a business page and publishing content that shows off your persona but is not so personal it’s distracting.

  • Track Progress by Using Instagram’s Insights So You Know What’s Working and What’s Not

Once you’ve decided you are ready, making the switch from a private to a business page will help you to track the actions of your audience and to see which posts are actually reaching people. One of the hardest things to do is to understand what people want. The only way to know is to ask or to track behavior/pay attention to actions.

When your IG page is a business page, you get to see things you won’t see on personal pages. Below are screenshots of posts from my page. If you click on the insights (which you can see under your post but only if your page is a business account) you can see not just how many likes you got, but how many people shared your post,  viewed your profile, or clicked on your website link. These are the things you want to pay attention to because it shows you what people are most interested in. The thing about any business social media page is that it differs from pages that you are only using to connect with family members or hang out. On those pages, likes and shares don’t mean much except maybe to boost your ego. On business pages, though, likes and shares are important to you understanding how your content performs – by tracking metrics over time – and is the key to developing a content strategy that works best for you.

As a business page on social media, the formula is typically:

Engagement = Likes / Comments

____________

Followers

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shared
  • Saved to collection
  • Profile Visits
  • Reach (Impressions)

My personal testimonies are a favorite for readers. Although the first picture got more likes, the second picture did just as well if you look at the other components. The first picture was saved six times and four people visited my profile. The second picture got three saves but two shares. This tells me my audience really enjoys the testimonies, but there are other things to see…

There is so much to see here, where the views came from, reach, profile visits, website clicks, e.g. And while I did not get new followers, six people did take action (viewed my profile or went to my website) which is what every authorpreneur wants! Other things you can track include:

Chicago (my hometown), Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Charlotte are where the bulk of my support comes from. I am happy to see ATL at the top since I live in Georgia and to see the Chi representing. My biggest audience is made up of women which is always good since I am a woman, and the age group is between 25-44. Let’s move on.

  • Your IG Bio

I just changed my bio again because I wanted it to reflect what I do and what I offer. Rather than my usual: Author, Blogger, Poet, I wanted to be specific. With limited characters, this isn’t easy. I decided on:

“I write Historical Fiction novels and novellas, Inspirational Non-Fiction, and Poetry | Restoring Black Historical truth for the freedom of all people.”

Following this is a link to my website (see pic) directing people to the specific page I created for this purpose. Also, I do not (at this writing) have many followers but that doesn’t matter to me much if those numbers don’t match the support. I have an arrow pointing to publisher because under the business account you can choose what best represents your brand. Notice I have an arrow pointed toward my highlights. Once you create a story you can add it to your highlights if you want to keep it at the forefront of your page. My highlights include my book signing pictures and events. This helps people get a feel for the work I do. Lastly, notice the call to action button (Email), which further encourages people to take action. What I want is to add a buy button as well.

It may not seem like a big deal to put all this work into an IG profile, especially with such limited space but as authors we are the whole package. Everything must represent who we are.

  • Use Sharp, HQ Images

Instagram’s focus is on photos so if the pictures you’re posting look grainy and pixelated it won’t attract many readers. Try to use sharp, high-quality images in your post. You can brand yourself by creating lovely images using Canva or PosterMyWall. It’s also good if the images have something to do with your books or show off your personality in some way. A good practice is something I saw someone post about looking at your last 9 posts. Can someone understand who you are and what you offer by these posts alone? I’ve been doing this (looking at my last 9 posts) and it has been a helpful reminder to publish content that is relevant to my books or services or who I am as a person. People will see the image before they see the caption so it’s important that the image speaks first.

  • Include Text with Images

Make good use of the caption area where you can add text. It is a good idea to always use text when posting images on Instagram. I have noticed that some celebs don’t do this, but that’s because they’ve already built their audience. David Banner doesn’t have to include text on his images and he will still get over a thousand likes and hundreds of comments and shares, but you are not David Banner. You are a new author at the beginning of an exciting journey and you are introducing people to who you are for the first time. Use text to explain the images you post. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy. Something as simple as a sentence is good. Nothing to say? Just use hashtags. Anything is better than leaving it blank.

  • Hashtags

Going back to this screenshot, it appears my hashtags are working on this post, reaching 45 people alone. Hashtags don’t exist just so you can be cute but they work just like the tags you’ll use on a blog post. They are searchable on social media. If you click on your hashtag, it will take you to all the posts relevant to that hashtag. They help categorize content and track discussion topics based on keywords. You can Google the hashtags that are best for your business. It may even be necessary to research your hashtags (I did because I’m a nerd lol). There are tools available like Hashtags.org or HashtagDirectory.com that can help you. You don’t really need 50 hashtags. The most important thing is that the hashtags you use are trending and apply to your business.

Website Link or Linktree in Bio

Where are you directing people to? What do you want people to do once they’ve seen your post? Do you want them to like, comment and move on with their lives? Do you want them to research something? Do you want them to buy something? What do you want people to do when they come across your page? That answer is the link you promote in your bio. As stated before, social media should not be the end of the road. If you’re trying to sell books, you should be directing people to your author website, the place where they can learn more about who you are, what you offer, and how it is beneficial to their lives.

In your bio, you may also want to include a special website link. This link is special because it can be created specifically for Instagram. Instead of posting the link to the site alone, you can create a landing page with buttons specific to where you want people to go. Chances are you have more than one link to promote which means you can do one of two things:

  • You can use linktree to compile link buttons
  • You can create your own version landing page on your website

If you don’t have a website, I recommend Linktree, which allows you to promote more than one link at a time. When people visit your site they can choose where they want to go. You can also see how often people are visiting your sites. I used linktree for awhile and it’s excellent. What I love most is being able to see how many clicks each button gets and it increased traffic to my author website. I only recently stopped using it  because I have a website.

If you have a website of your own, it doesn’t make much sense to use linktree unless you use the paid version. While recommended, using the free version of linktree can compromise your branding a bit. How so? Linktree, is all over their free version so it was in the URL in my Instagram bio, at the top of the landing page, and at the bottom of the landing page in logo form. To get the best out of Linktree would mean using the paid version but if you have your own website (that you are paying for) it may be a good idea to use your site. This saves money, points people directly to your website, and promotes you and not Linktree. You can also get creative with your link. I used ecreads as the special page for my IG. Something simple and to the point. (If you’d like to check out what I’ve done, visit my IG page and click on the link. You won’t find this link just by going to my website since it’s created specifically for my ig page).

Website Link + Call to action button helps direct potential readers to your books, blog or wherever you want them to go. Remember, social media is not the end of the road. If you want people to do more than like a post, be sure to lead them somewhere they can learn more.

The only time your IG shouldn’t have a website link is if you are not using it for business and are just on there to socialize and hang out.


To summarize:

  • Switch your account from Private to Public and then create a Business page. Change up your content to reflect your business profile and use the metrics you see overtime to improve your strategy and increase clicks to your website
  • Write a bio that targets what it is that you do and what you offer
  • Use hashtags strategically, researching the ones that best apply to the kind of writer you are
  • Include the link to your website in your bio or use linktr.ee for multiple links
  • Use sharp, high-quality images
  • Use text to describe images
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Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Sheila Williams

Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Sheila Williams. Sheila, welcome to the PBS blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Sheila Williams. I am English, born in Yorkshire in the North of England (known as God’s own county to those who were born there!) Until five years ago my feet were firmly planted in English soil. Then, I had one of those ‘where did that idea come from’ moments and moved across the channel to the south-west of France – a region known as Occitanie (previously the Languedoc). I now live in a small village near the Pyrenees mountains with my dog Zouzou, otherwise known as the Ayatollah for his insistence on regularity – regular walkies, regular mealtimes, regular cuddles and regular snoozes on the sofa.

Awwue lol. I bet he’s adorable. Any siblings?

I am the youngest of three. My brother Mike is the oldest. He’s a very practical person, always building something. He has an apartment in my house here in France and stays for about six months every year which is very handy since the house is a bit of a wreck and always needs something doing. He’s a keen guitarist and banjo player and not a bad singer either. We’ve always been close despite our very different temperaments and political views. It makes for animated discussions on the terrace with a bottle of the local wine during summer.

My other sibling is my sister Pat. She too is an author and lives in New Zealand. As kids we were pretty close although she could be extremely prickly at times. She moved to Canada when she left college and then on to New Zealand. I have seen very little of her since then. Sadly, there was something of a schism, a family break-up after our father died which led to considerable ill-feeling between her and my mother and percolated through to Mike and myself. The rift is something I have never been able to repair and she remains stubbornly out of touch.

I am sorry to hear that. Hopefully you guys can reconcile! I think it’s cool your brother has an apartment in your house! What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

I would love to go on safari in Africa. I am passionate about this beautiful world that we live in and the creatures that populate it. Before it is too late and we ruin it altogether I want to see some of the species that are being driven towards extinction in their natural habitat. I am not a fan of zoos although some do good work in helping to preserve species. I can imagine a dawn safari, just as the sun is rising, still a chill in the air and seeing the different animals at the watering hole. I imagine the sounds and smells that would fill the air. One day I’ll do it. It’s top of my bucket list.

That sounds nice. What’s your favorite drink?

A cold glass of Blanquette de Limoux which was the earliest form of champagne. It goes down smoothly, with a little fizzy bite as an aftertaste. Just the thing after a swim on a hot sunny day.

You made that sound soo refreshing yess. Lol. avorite color?

Oh I’m definitely a blue person. I love all shades from the darkest velvety blue to the sharp blue of the morning sky. There is at least one shade of blue in every room in the house and my wardrobe likewise. It’s a colour that can soothe, sing, import elegance as well as casual comfort. What’s not to like?

Let’s talk about writing a bit. Who is your favorite writer?

Ah this is a tough one. There are so many. There are the three Kate’s – Kate Mosse, Kate Morton and Kate Atkinson – all very different in style and genre. For classics I love Jane Austen; for history Bernard Cornwell and for Sci-fi Robert Heinlein. Daphne du Maurier slips in there somewhere too.

When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

My first book was non-fiction ‘Close to the Edge – Tales from the Holderness Coast’. It is an eclectic history of part of the coast where I lived in England. My friend – a photographer and I walked up and down the length of the coast researching people and places. It was huge fun. I published it with Amazon and not being very techie-minded got into a bit of a muddle but it all got sorted out. Then, when the paperback arrived I went round all the caravan sites and got them to hold copies of it to sell to the visitors; I donated copies to all the local libraries and got the tourist information offices to sell it for me. It was extremely hard work and my first introduction to marketing a book. It’s not a best-seller but the sales continue to trickle in even four years later.

That’s awesome. Aside from Non-Fiction, what genre do you write in?

I’ve probably made it a bit difficult for myself! I write a mix of history with a dash of fantasy or spooky stuff. I published a book of short stories ‘The Siren and Other Strange Tales’ which has a lot of spooky stuff in it and my first novel ‘The Weave’  is a contemporary fantasy story with history woven in. My wip is definitely history, set in the 7th century with a splash of fantasy. I like the little bit of something extra that fantasy gives me as a writer. It gives me an opportunity to tease the reader a bit…to make them wonder whether there is something psychological going on in a character or whether it is something supernatural/fantastic really happening. It is something I’m exploring much more in my wip.

Okay History, Sci-Fi and Horror book readers! You heard it here first. Here’s a writer for you.

What takes up too much of your time?

French bureaucracy! The French love their paperwork and as an expat there are wads of it to be completed. They also have strict demarcation lines between who does what which sometimes means that the carefully gathered information slips between departmental gaps. It’s getting better though as more and more is brought on-line. The Brexit situation has created even more since most expats I know in France are applying for a ‘carte de sejour’ which will allow them to stay in France. The documentation required is extensive and much of it is already in the maws of bureaucracy but it still has to be provided anew.

What do you love about yourself?

I suppose it’s my ability to be myself without embarrassment, without worrying about what others’ might think any more. It’s something that has crept up with age and I guess experience too. I like to do daft things now and again like make up silly songs and sing them in the shower or dance with the dog in the village square. I don’t worry about making a fool of myself. Alongside that I have developed assertiveness which I sadly lacked when I was younger and I like the fact that I can say saying clearly(albeit diplomatically I hope) what I think!

Thank you Sheila for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Bio.

Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world on Guy Fawkes night, under cover of fireworks and bonfires. Outraged to find other nurslings in the nest, she attempted to return to her own world but found the portal closed. Adopting a ‘make the best of it’ attitude she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society. Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures – or to use the vernacular – careers; hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer. She attempted to integrate into society by means of marriage  before setting out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.

In her quest to understand this world she pursues knowledge of its history; not of kings and queens but of its ordinary people and how they lived and worked. To this end, she haunts events such as boot fairs, vide-greniers and sales rooms where many ancient artifacts can be uncovered.

Her outlets from this unfathomable world include nature, animals (especially funny videos of), books and writing stories. This latter occupation enables her to create her own worlds, populate them and dispose of the residents as she thinks fit. She finds holding the fate of these poor souls in her hands immensely satisfying.

Be Sure to Follow Sheila Online!

e-mail: sheila@writeonthebeach.co.uk

blog: www.writeonthebeach.wordpress.com

website: www.sheilawilliams.net

Twitter: twitter.com@sheilawwilliams

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2WQA38R


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. (Only 2 slots left for March! Schedule today.)

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Dana Kearney

Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Dana Kearney. Welcome to the PBS Blog. Let’s get started!


What was you childhood dream?

My childhood dream was to be a doctor. Then I realized hospitals and sick people scare me. So I had to find something else to be and I always loved writing.

Cool. In your own words, what is love?

Love is a connection that you cannot describe. It is so powerful when you feel it you know because you have never felt it before. It is a part of the air you breathe. It is unconditional. Love has been around since the beginning of time. Love lasts through the universe and galaxies. It is a selfless feeling that transforms you into your highest self. Love is when frequencies align, your life is complete, and the passion is at its peak. Love is when you see stars in their eyes. Love is balance with the universe.

Okaay Dana. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

A trip around the world would be the most exciting to go on. You could travel many different ways and see so many historic sites.

I love that. Who is your favorite writer?

My favorite writer is Zora Neale Hurston. Her stories transcend, time, space and culture. She takes us through two worlds where some of us live.  She describes a time that has passed, but it is also infinite.  She gives our lives space, meaning, love, and divinity.

What kind of music do you like?

I like rhythm and blues, hip-hop, pop, old school music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Sometimes I pick whatever makes me escape into another place and other times I pick what resonates with current moments in time.

Nice. Dana, define racism.

Racism is the power to negatively impact millions of lives through housing, employment, and natural resources based on race.

Nicely put. What’s your favorite TV Show? Movie?

My favorite movie is Gladiator. I love stories of Ancient Times. I love how the actors bring you into the story. They make you root for one over the other. Behind all the backstabbing and treachery it is a love story and a father trying to return home after he avenges his family.

Diamonds or Light? is available now on Amazon.

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

The most difficult part about being a writer is getting your thoughts into a familiar structure. The most exciting part is giving your perspective on life.

What does that mean, getting your thoughts into a familiar structure?

Putting my thoughts into a format that people are comfortable with. As your thoughts come out they may not be organized or naturally flow.

Ahh. Got it. That’s true. Is there anything you don’t you like about yourself?

I don’t like my need for perfection. It stresses me out but I still strive for perfection.

Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

My best advice for reducing stress is take care of yourself. Do what makes you happy. Take time to meditate or pray. Take time to do your favorite things. Take care of yourself.

I love it.

Thank you Dana for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright©2019 Dana Kearney. photo used with permission.

Bio.

Dana Kearney was raised in Oakland, CA and graduated from the University of California Davis. Dana was a public school educator for ten years. She loves to read, write, swim, teach, and travel. Dana still lives in California and is currently working on Diamonds or Light? Part II

Please be sure to follow Dana online!

Blog. https://orangeallinherit.com/

Instagram: @diamondsorLight

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Corey Collins

Today, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Corey Collins. Corey, welcome to the PBS blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Corey Collins and I am from Memphis, Tennessee.  I went to college in Northern Indiana and to law school in South Florida, where I have lived since 1992.

Nice. My in-laws are in Memphis. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

I published my first book entitled The Thanks You Get in 2017.  I self-published my novel and the experience was exciting, painstaking, exhausting and, ultimately, fulfilling.

Love it. Who is your favorite writer?

My favorite writer (present day) is Zadie Smith.  My favorite writer (all time) is James Baldwin.

I. Love. Baldwin! What is your favorite color?

My favorite color is blue.

What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?

I dislike folks who impart advice about writing authoritatively as though what works for one writer should apply to all.  In my experience, writing definitely is not a “one size fits all” endeavor.  I love folks who simply talk about their writing experience in such a way as to give others insight into their process so that aspiring writers might consider what nuggets to incorporate into their own process.

You summed that up perfectly. It is why I don’t like to refer to my information as advice, but tips. Tips based on my own experience I hope others could maybe add to their own experience. Very well stated there Corey. What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is Memphis dry rub barbecue ribs.  My second favorite is cashew nuts.

If you could live in a movie, which would it be? 

If I could live in a movie, I would live in the final scene of the movie The Shawshank Redemption, one of my top 5 favorite films.  The final scene depicts a reunion between two friends who served time in prison together at a city in Southern Mexico called Zihuatanejo.  I was fortunate enough to visit that town in 1990 when I participated in a semester broad program during my junior year in college.   It made a lifetime impression, with its pristine beaches and hospitable residents.  Unlike its more popular neighbor Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo was underdeveloped, less crowded, less noisy.  Peace and serenity descended upon me the minute I stepped into the city and upon its beach.  The thought of spending my final days living off the sea and the land in Zihuatanejo, like the main characters in Shawshank, makes me smile.

Ha! Shawshank Redemption is one of me and my husband’s favorite movies as well. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

The most amazing adventure to go on (and one of my bucket list items) would be to trek through the mountains of Machu Picchu in Peru.

The Thanks You Get is available now on Amazon.

Nice. What is the most difficult thing about being a writer? What is the most exciting thing?

Finding consistent, significant blocks of time to write while working a full time job is the most difficult thing about being a writer.  When I am fortunate enough to have significant, uninterrupted blocks of time, entering that zone where ideas and words seem to flow well is thrilling.

I get it. Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

Outside of writing, I love running.  My personal goal is to run at least two half marathons per year and, for the past five years, I have managed to meet that goal.  Aside from the health benefits, running, for me, is calming and helps to clear my mind.

How many siblings do you have?

I have one sibling, a younger sister.

Are you employed outside of writing?

Outside of writing, I am employed full time as an in house attorney for a construction company.  I review and negotiate construction contracts for the company and manage their litigation.

Okaay. Another attorney in the house ya’ll. What is your favorite TV show / movie?

My favorite TV show is Game of Thrones.  My favorite movie is The Godfather.

Thank you Corey for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright©2019. Corey Collins. photo used with permission.

Bio.

Collins is a practicing attorney in Miami, Florida, with an innate curiosity about the world and the people in it.  Collins attended college at the University of Notre Dame graduating with a dual degree in Government and Spanish in 1991.  Thereafter, he spent a year working for a member of the United States House of Representatives before continuing his education at the University of Miami School of Law.  He graduated in 1995 and has practiced law in South Florida since then.

Beyond practicing law, Collins chairs the board of directors of the James B. Collins Memorial Fund, Inc., a non-profit corporation formed for the dual purpose of providing scholarships to high school seniors needing financial assistance for college and making an annual donation to the American Cancer Society in the hopes of finding a cure for cancer.  He also serves on the board of directors of the St. John Community Development Corporation.

In his spare time, Collins enjoys running, having completed four marathons and twelve half marathons.  He also writes short stories.

About the book:

Corey B. Collins is the author of The Thanks You Get, a novel that explores human behavior and the driving force behind people’s actions.  His protagonist is Hank Goodman, a public relations executive, who is drawn into a mystery involving one of the wealthiest men in South Florida.  Woven throughout Collins’ novel is the theme of families, however defined, and the ties that bind them.  Ultimately, Collins hopes to encourage readers to contemplate whether there really is such a thing as coincidence and whether people, with all their faults, are naturally inclined to do the “right thing” as they define it in their lives.


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. Stay tuned for our next featured author.

Be Authentic: Message to New Indie Authors

In, building connections as a writer on social media, it’s important that you are authentic in those interactions. What does this mean? It means to be genuine and true, to be real but what does this mean? To be genuine and true is to be yourself in a way that does not force others to accept you, but brings together those who share the same passion as you do. People can tell if you are sharing something just to sell your books or sharing something because you deeply love it and you care about sharing that love with others for their benefit. You genuinely want to educate people, inspire people, empower people, or you want to make them laugh, or help them to heal or evolve. What people get out of getting to know more about you? What value do you offer that helps to make their lives better? This is what building relationships are about. It’s not so much about the book itself, it’s more who you are, who we all are and how your book seeks to make us better. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction, in what way are we better from reading your book? This answer is revealed in your genuine interactions with others. People can tell if the information you are sharing is not authentic. We can tell if you’re sharing something just to sell your book versus sharing something because you want us to be better.

The problem is not that “artistry” doesn’t sell. There is no debate to be had about writing as an art and as a business. It is both. Integrity is everything and I personally believe no one should ever compromise that. Even more so, I believe it is this very integrity that makes us interested in an artist in the first place whether that artist is an author or musician or painter. There’s this debate about wanting to make real money from writing or treating it as an art I do not understand. There is no competition to be had. It is possible to be a serious businessperson and artist at the same time. The problem is too many new Indie authors aren’t authentic about the art enough to build trust among readers to the extent that we care about supporting that author’s work.

This isn’t about trying to find anyone to read our books. You are in search of people who share your passions, goals, and belief system. You aren’t here to force people to share those passions and beliefs but to connect with those who do. This isn’t about trying to make people like you. This is about genuinely connecting with those who do. These are authentic connections. It doesn’t matter how many times you talk about your book if I know nothing about you or share your vision or if I don’t care about what you are bringing to the table, I am not buying the book and I am not the reader you want. You don’t want me. You want the reader interested in the value you are bringing. To get here is to start with offering value where being yourself is not a gimmick.


If you would like to take the step toward helping your potential readers to get to know more about you and your passions and how you can help to make us better through your writing, be sure to take part in my Author Introduce Yourself Feature, specifically designed to help us to get to know you better. Learn how to do so HERE and stay tuned for tomorrow’s featured author.

Also, don’t forget that FOUR of my books are on sale for the month of February. If you are into Black Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction or poetry, choose your favorite book by clicking HERE and pay just 99cents from now through 2/28. 

What to do when people unsubscribe from your #author email list and why it is OKAY

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Email unsubscribes. Yup. I’ll be that one. I don’t care what anyone says, if done right and if it’s your cup of tea, author email lists work. At the end of the day, everyone’s journey is different so none of us are in the position to say for absolute certainty what works and what doesn’t work for someone else.

That said, IF you are a fan of the email list (I don’t refer to them as newsletters….I prefer email list), check it.

Not everything about being an author is peachy. Email unsubscribes feel like silent rejections and sometimes confusing because you don’t always know why the person left. Unsubscribes can leave authors feeling abandoned, especially if the person was a long-time member of the list. All kinds of thoughts go through your head.

“What did I do wrong?”

“Am I providing value?”

“Does my writing suck?”

“Do I suck?”

Did I email too much? Too little? What happened?”

The good news is that whether someone leaves your email list or your blog, it is not a bad thing. In 2019, we are not taking losses, we are taking lessons and there are tons of lessons we can learn from email unsubscribes. I hope this list encourages you and motivates you to push past that feeling of confusion and rejection.

  • Don’t subscribe people to your list without their permission.

I’ve personally never done this and I don’t understand it but please don’t let this be you. There are laws against doing things like this. Never, ever add anyone to anything without that person’s permission. I don’t care if it’s a Facebook group or email list, get permission first. When you let people subscribe on their own, they can unsubscribe whenever they want and do it all without you being sued. But if you subscribed someone without their say so, you can be sure they will unsubscribe. While there’s nothing wrong with compiling a list of supporters and emailing the old school way (directly), we live in a different time. You need a track record that shows proof this person agreed to get emails from you. You need permission. It is illegal to add people to your list and email them without permission. Do not grab emails from blogs and websites. Choose an email opt-in form and let people subscribe on their own or create an opt-in form of your own using google docs but just get permission. Don’t get sued. I recommend using one of these opt in forms:

  • Mailchimp
  • Mailerlite
  • Convertkit
  • Don’t take it personally.

If the subscriber was legal, and the person decided to leave, the most important lesson you can learn from this is not to take it personally. We don’t know why that person is no longer interested, and it doesn’t always have to have anything to do with us. People have their reasons for subscribing to a list/blog and not everyone is clear what that reason is. If someone mistakenly thought your list would offer something that it doesn’t, they may unsubscribe because it’s not what they thought it would be.

  • Never respond to an unsubscribe.

Resist the inclination to ask people why they left. Unless they have reached out to you, do not send them follow-up emails. If they unsubscribed from your main list, they probably don’t want to keep receiving emails from you. Again, don’t take the unsubscribe personally. One apple don’t stop no show (and that’s grammatically incorrect on purpose), just keep grinding.

  • Quality over Quantity: You don’t have to have a gazillion email list subscribers to be relevant.

With email lists, remember it’s more so about the quality of your team. It’s better to have 30 or 40 committed people who are eager to support your work and read your books than 2,000 who won’t lift a finger to give you so much as a piece of advice. You ask a question and hear crickets. I have only about 172 subscribers to my email list. (I say email list because I don’t like to refer to them as newsletters *yawn*), and I am more than okay with this. Of course, I’d like to grow (who wouldn’t?) but I am in no rush. It’s challenging enough managing the subscribers I already have. I’ll wait patiently. Always remember quality over quantity. It’s probably easier to manage 30 or 50 subscribers than it is to manage 200 and 300 starting out.

  • Resist the urge to vent your rage on your favorite social media platform

Again, don’t take it personally. Email unsubscribes are like bad reviews that only you see. Just as it is not recommended to discuss the bad review, it is also not recommended to discuss the unsubscribe. We are all human but venting about these things on social media (this includes the blog) makes you look like an amateur. Accept this person has decided they are no longer interested in your content (for whatever reason) and move on. People come in and out of our lives for a reason and we just have to accept when the season is over. Don‘t make it bigger than it is.

  • Remove and Renew

Don’t be afraid to lose people. It may even be necessary to unsubscribe people yourself that you see are no longer interested. Sometimes people subscribe to email lists for the wrong reason. Maybe they believe they would receive something, and the emails turned out not to be what they wanted. But there will also be people who won’t unsubscribe. They’ll just ignore you and delete your emails or they may just ignore it without acting. In any event, it’s a good idea to do a good ole cleansing occasionally. Delete some people. Don’t be so thirsty for high numbers to your own detriment. If they aren’t active, it doesn’t matter, and you are deceiving yourself. Every 2-3 months I clean my list. I go through and delete people who have not been active. Have not been opening emails, clicking links, responding to questions or participating in any way. Their presence is irrelevant. I love them, but my emails are clearly not their cup of tea and they shouldn’t be forced to drink it. They must go.

  • It takes time

Writing is a business and like all businesses, it takes trial, error, consistency and time to build. We may have been born with gifts but no one was born knowing exactly how to execute them. No one woke up with the skills to hire a team or produce excellent products. Similarly, you don’t know how to manage an email list except through practice and hard work and even still people will unsubscribe.

This woman makes enough money to know what she’s talking about. If you aren’t following her on IG, you should be.

 

I used to transcribe to the same practices of some “gurus” who said to only email once a month. While I understand why you wouldn’t want to email too frequently, you have to do what works for you. It’s a personal journey first. So I followed my own path and now email whenever I have news. The truth is, it’s hard to stay connected to anyone you don’t speak to for months at a time. The email list can be an important source of support if you want it to be. Or, the email list can be just another social media account you update to tell people about your new books. *Yawn.* Truth is, there will always be someone to unsubscribe. The real question is, who cares? People unsubscribe from our lives all the time but we can’t stop working just because people leave. People unsubscribing from the list can be a blessing as it teaches us what works, what doesn’t and how to better connect with our audience. People unsubscribing from our list is not even the real problem. The real problem is learning how to connect with our audience. If we do our jobs well, we don’t have anything to worry about.

  • One door closes, one door opens

Every time someone unsubscribes from my list, someone new subscribes. That’s the fun thing about it. When one door closes another always opens. Just because a few people unsubscribe does not mean more won’t come. I’ve been successful in keeping my numbers steady because I am always blessed with a new subscriber whenever someone else leaves. When unsubscribes do happen, now I just smile knowing someone new is on their way and hopefully, they’ll find value where the other person did not. The end of one relationship is the beginning of another.

Helpful Tips:

  • Ask your email list questions to discover what they want.
  • Let your readers in a bit on who you are. Write stories, give updates not shared anywhere else, showcase your personality, e.g.
  • If possible, use a domain email address as your from address instead of gmail. Ex: yourname(at)yourdomainname(dot)com.

Reminders:

1. Don‘t take the unsubscribe personally
2. Don‘t subscribe people without their permission
3. Never vent your rage about it on your favorite social media platform
4. Quality over quantity
5. Recognize the growth that comes with removal and renewal
6. Remember that it takes time to build anything of substance
7. and that when one door closes, another always opens

For more email list building tips check out one of the most popular posts on this blog:

7 Things I Learned About Email List Building.

Editors and Beta Readers – Vital for Independent Authors

Excellent post. Indie Authors, take heed.

Author Don Massenzio

Publishing contractThis post focuses on the importance of using an editor and enlisting beta readers if you are an independent author.

Let’s start by comparing/contrasting independent and traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, an author receives an advance (if he or she is lucky). This advance is usually a fairly small amount. The author may then receive royalties for books sold after a certain number. The royalties can vary from pennies per book to dollars if you are a bestselling author. In exchange for allowing the traditional publisher to publish your work, you receive editing, formatting, publicity, and marketing services. The quality and effectiveness of these services can vary depending on how much the publishing company believes it can make from your book. In the end, very few published authors make a living wage from traditionally published books.

Independent authors know that their world is a different one. All of the services mentioned…

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