Lessons from a Book Signing

It’s time for another post on lessons from a book signing. I try to learn something new from every event I do. I also enjoy seeing if what we learn online applies when in direct, real life, person-to-person contact. Here’s what I learned from Friday‘s Book Signing.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

 

While I am not perfect by any means, consistency and practice really do help us to get better. Cliche as it is now, the saying is true. The more book signings and events I do, the better I get at pitching my books. I am a naturally shy person but author events help me to be more open. It is the chance for me to learn how to communicate what my book is about without being scripted (which is easy to do when you’re behind a computer), but that you only have seconds to do in person. For example, I had the chance to sit and think about what I wanted to say here, how to say it and the words that would best sum up this experience. In person, the time is much, much faster. There is no time to sit and think about what to say. There is nothing but your knowledge of your product and why you think it‘s worth the time and money investment. They even asked me to recite a poem on the spot! I am thankful to Yah I was ready.

 

It’s also not just about selling books but genuine interaction with the people. There were many people who bought books but did not take pictures because they didn’t want to and I did not force them. Some people didn’t buy books at all, but they sat and talked with me and laughed and we shared some interesting conversation. I met a new poet who told me about some open mic spots to hit up and a young man who referred me to a Barnes and Noble in the area that accepts Self-Published Authors. The best way to get started making change is to begin where you are.

 

  • Competing Against Cell Phone Attention Spans

 

In person, you get to see the distractions we compete with up close and personal. People‘s attention spans are short already but add to it the mobile device and it’s easy to get discouraged. Many of the people who walked past my table were glued to their mobile device or already talking on it. This makes me much more conscious of this when doing business online. Knowing that the interest in the smartphone is a big deal is one thing but seeing it empowers me with so many new ideas and thoughts on how I, as an author can keep this in mind when interacting with readers.

 

  • Don’t Try to Sell to Everyone (Don’t Sell At All, Connect)

 

The same thing about finding your target audience online applies to offline as well. While the time is faster and you do have to pull people away from their phones, discernment is important as well. I am starting to pick up on who to reach out to (literally) and who to let walk by. This may sound funny but it’s not just about getting a sale. Some people purposely crossed the street to avoid my table (lol), some people purposely focused on the ground and avoided eye contact, and some people were not on the phone. They just pretended to be to avoid me. These are examples that “I don‘t want to be bothered.” Just like not everyone will want to buy your book online, not everyone wants to buy your book in person. Some things I picked up on from people who wanted to buy my book or was interested in learning more:

 

  • They hesitated and stared at the book cover while walking by
  • They stopped by
  • They spoke to me
  • They asked questions
  • They stopped when hearing what the book was about

There are ways of knowing if you should reach out to people and if you should not. I hope to use the experience from Friday to help me at the Atlanta book signing in July.

  • Some Writing Advice Does Not Apply Offline

 

Every time I meet with people face to face it‘s a different experience than being online. What may surprise you is that I find writing advice (not all, but some) we use online does not apply to offline. There’s no screen, no script, no hashtag, nothing but good ole fashioned communication between two people who may share a genuine interest. In real life people do want your business card to learn more about you, they do ask about your website, and they want to know if they can follow you online. This means that while some advise against business cards, author websites and social media, this is not true when you are face to face with the people. In my experience, no one asks to follow your blog or if they can sign up to your email list (unless there’s already a sign-up form present and you ask them). While I think both are important and are necessary for Indie Authors to have (and both have helped me tremendously), in my experience when talking to the people in person who don‘t already know me, the basics they want to know is:

 

  • Do you have a card?
  • Do you have a website?
  • Can I follow you online?
  • Can I pay with my card?

 

Applying this means:

 

  • Having business cards with me
  • Having a website for people to go to
  • Being present on social media
  • Having a card reader on hand

 


If you did not get to stop by or you are not in the area, remember that I am Soul, my latest collection of poetry is 99cents in ebook through the month of April in honor of National Poetry Month. Also, if you are in the Atlanta area this summer, I’ll be at the Atlanta African American Book Festival in July. I’ll be premiering my first Non-Fiction release, Keep Yourself Full (of course I’ll still have my other books present as well) and other author swag. Don’t miss the chance to connect. See you soon ✒📚📸

View more pictures from this signing here
Connect with me on IG here, Facebook here, and Twitter here
Visit me on the web Here

My 7 Instagram Tips for New Authors

I think Instagram is a great place for writers because there is a prodigious reader and writing community there.

Below, you will find seven tips I put together for new writers who also enjoy using the gram. Hope it helps.

  • Tip #1: Private Page to Business Page

If you’re an author using Instagram, it’s a good idea that your author page is a business page. This will allow you to use insights and other metrics that can help you post quality content by looking beyond the number of likes and tracking things like saves, shares, demographics, and the best times to post based on when your audience is online. (You can find this under insights)

Business pages are also automatically public, which is what you want. If you are trying to build readership and engagement, your author pages should not be private. That is like having a closed sign hanging off the door of your new business. To be clear, this isn’t your personal page (unless you have turned your personal page into a business page, but we will touch on that in a second). This is your business page, and business pages should be public.

Get out of thinking anything you post on the internet is private. It’s not, and if it’s any consolation, making your profile private does not necessarily make it “safe.”

Switching to Business Account

  • Although I am not a big fan of Facebook, you will need to connect it to a Facebook page to create an Instagram business page (at this writing). I know, it sucks. But IG is owned by Facebook so, go figure.

    This page cannot be your personal page but a Facebook business 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 in the upper right-hand corner and go to settings. Click on account, then scroll down until you see the option to create a business page.

Changing a Personal Page to a Business Page

If you are going to turn your personal page into a business page, there are some things you will need to do first. Some people say not to do this and to create a separate business page, but I agree with both ways with a few exceptions.

To turn your personal page into a business page, you will want to make sure you delete everything that is not in some way relatable to your business. This means you might want to delete those nudes and all fifteen pictures of your cat.

Another option is to delete everyone who is not part of your readership and unfollow people who aren’t right for your business. While it is best to create a separate business page, turning your personal page into a business page could work if you are willing to make a few adjustments.

You will also have a lot of family and friends on your personal page, and family and friends are not your target audience. The chances are that’s why you are complaining so much about not getting the support you deserve. You are trying to sell to the family instead of the strangers who want to buy from you.

Family is family, but they are not your customers. Even those who buy from you aren’t doing it for the same reasons your readers are. A family who buys from you is just trying to be supportive because they are related to you, not because they actually like to read your books. It’s a hard pill to swallow, I know, and it doesn’t apply to all family members (some of them do like your work), but the quicker you move out of the mentality that your family must support you to be successful, the more successful you will actually be because you will have embraced the strangers who are readers passionate about the kinds of books you write.

Just as author blogs differ from business blogs, I believe author social media pages differ from other business social media pages in some ways. One way is that for writers, showing off our likes, interest, and personality is all part of author branding. People buy from people they know, like, trust, and getting personal (though, not too personal…keep it clean) helps build trust.

  • Tip #2: Track Progress by Using Instagram’s Insights So You Know What’s Working and What’s Not

One of the hardest things I have found as an introvert is figuring out what other people want. The only way to know is to ask, track behavior, and pay attention to actions.

Once you’ve decided you are ready, making the switch from a private to a business page will help you track your audience’s actions and see which posts are reaching people. 

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 on business accounts), you can see not just how many likes you got but how many people shared your post, saved your post, viewed your profile, or clicked on your website link.

This helps you to see which posts have high engagement and which posts do not.

The thing about any business social media page is that it differs from pages that you are only using to connect with family members, friends, or just hang out. On those pages, likes, shares, and follows don’t mean anything 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 your audience.

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

Engagement =

Likes + Comments / Followers

You also see things like the number of people who viewed your profile, clicks to your website, where the people are coming from (what city/state), age range, gender, and more to consider in terms of what’s working other than counting likes, which is actually the least important form of engagement.

Let’s look at some examples of my high performing Instagram posts and how I determine they are high performing. Try not to look at the number of likes. Although that plays a part, you can see likes on everyone’s post. In this example, we are looking at what you can only see on a business page and how to increase posts’ quality.

Example #1

Here, the winner is the number of shares (46) and saves (74). The number of comments is next (20) and then, lastly, number of likes. Also, you will notice the number of people I reached and the number of people who clicked on my profile. Although there are more likes than saves, liking a post is last in terms of engagement.

Example #2

Here, there were only two profile visits but the reach was huge and so were the saves. A lot of people enjoyed this post. But I want you to notice something else.

While this post has the most likes and a higher reach, example number one is still a better post to me because it’s my own original content.

This is important.

In example two, I was reposting a black history meme from another page (you can see my credit at the bottom left…always give people credit when you share their post. You can do this easily using a repost app). The posts that are yours are always the best!

Never share more of someone else content than you do your own.

Example #3

 

Example number three was lit. The reach is impressive, the shares and saves are outstanding, and the likes even got up there a bit. Here, everything outshined the number of comments, so while people loved the post, they didn’t have too much to say about it. I guess we all know Alice Walker by now lol.

Chicago (my hometown), Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Charlotte are where the bulk of my support comes from (at this writing). I am happy to see ATL at the top since I live in Georgia and 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.

  • Tip #3 Use Sharp, HQ Images

Instagram’s focus is on photos, so uploading pictures that are grainy, pixelated, or include text that’s hard to read is like the IG cardinal sin. If your images look like crap, you won’t get much engagement. Trust.

Use sharp, high-quality images in all your posts. 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 nine posts. Can someone understand who you are and what you offer by these posts alone? I have been doing this (looking at my previous nine posts), and it has been a helpful reminder to pay attention to the kinds of content I post. People will see the image before seeing the caption, so the image must speak first.

  • Tip #4: Include Text/Caption with Images

Speaking of seeing the image first, people pay attention to the caption! Add some context to the image by adding a caption. Now, I have noticed many celebrities don’t do this. They often post a selfie, and leave it at that, but that’s because they are celebrities who already have a strong audience and platform. 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 the caption to explain the images you post. It doesn’t have to be uber long and fancy, but something is better than leaving it blank.

  • Tip #5 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.

Tip #6: Clean Up Your IG Bio

I just changed my bio again because I wanted it to reflect what I do and offer. This is one of the most critical parts of your account. Since you are limited on characters, you must quickly tell people what you have to offer in as few words as possible. As you can see, I don’t have tons of followers, so don’t think because you have less or even more, that’s the most important thing because it’s not. The number of followers doesn’t determine quality.

  • Author – Make sure you let people know you are an author. Don’t be afraid. If your an author, say that.
  • Tell us what you do or offer. If you’re an author, tell us the kinds of books you write.
  • Be sure your website or Linktree link is in the bio.

Tip #7 Website Link in Bio

What do you want people to do once when they visit your profile? Do you want them to like, comment, and then 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.

If you are using Social media for business, the end of the road isn’t your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter page. You need an author website/blog/email list and should be directing people to these sources to 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 your website alone, you can create a landing page with buttons specific to where you want people to go. Instagram only allows one link, but you can post several when you:

  • Set up a Linktree account where you can house several buttons, accessible through one link

Even if you don’t have a website yet, Linktree is excellent because it allows you to list more than one thing at a time. You can add buttons to your social media sites, for example. When people visit your link, they can choose where they want to go. You can also see how often people are visiting your sites. I used linktree for a while, and it’s excellent.

  • You can create your own linktree-like link through your website

To get the best out of Linktree would mean using the paid version so you can customize it, but if you have your own website (that you are already paying for), you can also opt to create a page on your website that mimics the Linktree platform. This is a special page specifically for Instagram, so you don’t have to make it visible from your home page, but add the link to your IG bio. (Click here to see my page for an example)

This saves money, points people directly to your website, and promotes you and not Linktree.

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.


To Summarize:

  • Make your profile public, and create a business page. Be sure to shake up your content to reflect your business profile

 

  • Use the insights and metrics you see over time 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 sharp, high-quality images

 

  • Use caption/text to describe images

 

  • Use hashtags strategically, researching the ones that best apply to the kind of content you post.

 

  • Include the link to your website in your bio or use linktr.ee for multiple links

 

Free BOOK IT Masterclass: “Turning your story into Print” | Oliver T. Reid

Writers! Got something good for you. A friend of mine, Oliver T. Reid and his publisher Mr. Kelly Cole, both Bestselling Authors, are hosting a FREE Masterclass for those of you in the Atlanta area. I met Reid last year at the 4th Quarterly Mixer event hosted by Tinzley Bradford. Guys, the man knows his stuff, just wait until you hear him speak. You don’t want to miss this. I hear new and aspiring authors talk about the high cost of publishing all the time. Truth is, there are tons of free opportunities out there. Reach out and take them! Take advantage of the free resources that are available. This is one of them. If you are in the area, come on out.

Details: *Don’t mind the price on the flyer. This event is FREE as of this moment. Act now.*

Link to purchase FREE ticket: >>>

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/book-it-master-class-turning-your-story-into-print-tickets-51720690979?

Date: Sat. 2/9/2019
Time: 11:00am-2:00pm
Thee Werk Place
1900 The Exchange Bldg 300A Ste. 345 Atlanta GA 30339


You’re welcome!

Easy Blogging for Authors: 10 Tips for a Successful Author Blog, Anne R Allen

Anne is at it again with a most excellent article on Blogging for Authors. If you’re an author and you’re looking to learn more about how your blog differs from a business blog, check out this post. She talks being true to your brand, not defining your blog success by numbers, networking and not sacrificing your WIP (work in progress).

My biggest mistake was that I didn’t see that an author blog has a different purpose and goal from a business blog. Author blogs aren’t about making money directly with ads or sales.

Instead, they provide a platform for your writing and a way to communicate with readers and fellow writers. An excellent one. In fact, a blog is still the best platform-building tool for authors, according to agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, (Laurie will be visiting us in January.)

Good writers don’t need gimmicks. We only need to entertain and inform: content really is king. Be accessible and be yourself. Nothing else matters. (Well, correct spelling and grammar help too. 🙂 )

Click through to the ORIGINAL POST HERE to read the entire article.

Meet and Greet: 11/3/17

Looking for more exposure? Danny’s hosting a Meet and Greet, stop through, say hi and leave your Link 🙂

Dream Big, Dream Often

 

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!  

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times!  It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want.  It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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Shortlinks and Pingbacks

Sometimes you’ll have a post you would like to share on a social platform as limited as Twitter where only 140 characters are allowed. Or, you may want to give a link to someone of your blog post but…it hasn’t exactly gone live yet. You can do both by way of using short links.

A short link is a way of providing a link to a post that is shorter than the permalink. Also, like I said, you can use it to send people the link to a post that has not gone live yet. (They won’t see anything until it is live). It is how I give direct links to authors of the Introduce Yourself Interviews on this blog. They can use it to go directly to their post (in case they don’t see it show up in their email or reader or if they are not already following this blog).

To access your shortlink:

After drafting your post be sure you are in the old editor.

Note: It’s easier in the old editor. I have found that if you click on the link icon next to the post headline in the new editor you can copy the link. As seen here:

 

However, it is not a short link. If anyone knows how to get the shortlink while in the new editor, it is appreciated!

So, in the old editor…

Under your headline you will see the permalink to your post or the permanent link to that post.

Right next to it you’ll see Edit….

(…..where you can edit the permalink. This is useful when you change the title to your post which I’ve done sometimes. I noticed changing the headline does not change the permalink. For the permalink to match, you’ll have to edit it. I caution that this should probably not be done if the post has already been shared. For example: I recently published a post to this blog called: “4 Ways Commenting on Other Blogs Can Help Your Blog to Grow.” I publish my post midnight my time because I know that while I am sleeping, many of you on the other side of the world is up. That said, by the time I woke up the post was already being reblogged. The problem is that I had five bullet points, not four! I changed the headline to 5 Ways Commenting on Other Blogs Can Help Your Blog to Grow. BUT I DIDN’T CHANGE THE PERMALINK. (If you notice, the link still says 4) This is because I don’t want to mess up the reblogs I already got. It would be a shame for someone to go to that link and that 404 message shows up. I am not sure if it will but I would not risk it. If the post has already gone live and you need to change the headline, leave the permalink be just in case).

….I digress (as usual, dang)

Next to edit is Get Shortlink. Click on that and copy and paste your shortlink. It is a shorter link to your post instead of the long permalink.

Note: If there is nothing written in the post, you will not see the shortlink button.

Pingbacks

When someone links to your blog or a post on your blog within their post, you get a comment in your comments section of that link back. That’s a pingback.  It means someone is literally, piggy backing off your post. This gives people a chance to share your post without re-blogging with credit back to the original owner. Google defines it:

  1. an automatic notification sent when a link has been created to a person’s blog post from an external website, allowing a reciprocal link to that website to be created.

Sometimes I pingback to my own post. Whenever I place a link to a previous post within my own blog post  it creates a pingback link in the comments section of whatever post I am linking back to. My Introduce yourself feature is the perfect example. Go to the comments section and scroll down. Because I link to the original post from every guest post, you will see them in the comments section.

Screenshot (663)

The first one is my pingback and the others are from others. Either way, they are all in the comments section of the original post. You can click on those links to go to the that post and since people can be notified of new comments (if they check “notify me of new comments” when making one), they can be notified every time a new Introduce Yourself interview is posted because it will link-back like a comment. No Writers Wednesday is the same way. Every time I say to “Click here to learn more about this segment” with a link to that original post, I am creating a new pingback in the comments section of that post. Although this was done by accident (and is always weird since I get a comment from myself) it has turned out to be a good thing. Link juice at its finest.

Pingbacks are also an alternative to re-blogging. While I’d rather reblog, ping-backs can be used to share posts as well.

Getting the Most Out of Guest Blog Post – by Yecheilyah Ysrayl…

It’s me again, EC. I’m back on The Story Reading Ape’s Blog and today we’re talking getting the most of your guest blog posts. Come on over, let’s chat. What are ways you get the most of your post? Let us know!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Peace and welcome,

Today, I’d like to talk about guest blogging. After all, that is what I am here for. So, let’s chat.

Why is it worth it to Guest Post? Why is it beneficial to write articles on someone else’s blog? Can’t you just write it on your own blog? Surely, the people will flock to you, right?

Your blog home is equivalent to your real home. It is your house, your rules and you can pretty much do what you want. Well, I hope you aren’t getting crazy (we’re still on the World Wide Web) but it is your domain. Naturally, you are going to behave differently on your own blog.

On the other hand, writing articles on other blogs, preferably ones more established than yours, gives you the chance to showcase your work on a larger scale. Whether you are writing an article, an inspiring post, or…

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