Social media is a powerful vehicle for publishing short-form content that people can digest quickly and easily. We are all lazy to an extent with short attention spans.
Which is why I love blogging as a way of publishing long-form content.
It gives writers a chance to fully express the completeness of their thoughts. And, if you are long-winded like me, I enjoy being able to thoroughly add context to my thoughts with examples to nurture further understanding.
Blogging also helps me to keep writing in those spaces when I am not actively writing a book. (I wrote more about that here) This is important because it means I can continue to sharpen my writing skills (through actually writing) and engage with others even when I haven’t published anything new.
But there’s an exciting twist!
Blogging has, so far, helped me to publish two books, with another on the way. That’s because, unlike static websites, blogs are updated regularly, allowing people to leave immediate feedback and share. Authors can see how their content performs in real-time, producing invaluable information they can apply later.
One of the most powerful ways blogging helps me is my ability to repurpose the content I publish here into larger works. Thus, even when I don’t think I am laying the foundation for new works, I am!
None of us can deny the power of social media to impact businesses, big and small. As we’ve seen repeatedly, what we post to our accounts can have positive and negative real-life effects, destructive and groundbreaking. With it, we can reach people worldwide without leaving the house. It is no longer just about posting family photos. People are making real money and establishing real connections.
However, an over reliance on social media to hold up the core of our business can prove disastrous since we do not own them. Lately, I have heard many complaints of Instagram pages being hacked, Facebook jail, and TikTok suspensions.
And these are not complaints from people with small accounts. People with tens of thousands of followers have had to start from zero.
People who operate systematically, moving their tribe (those genuinely interested in their content because everyone isn’t), over to their own platforms, do not lose when their accounts are hacked or when IG decides to glitch.
They do not lose because they understand a basic principle:
Social Media is the vehicle, not the destination.
Social Media is a powerful tool for socializing and networking with your target audience. Still, you want to always be moving them along your funnel.
This looks like adding them to your blog, email/text list, website, or membership site.
To do this, use a call-to-action at the end of your posts to tell people what you want them to do.
The call-to-action or CTA is when you give your people direction. What do you want us to do after seeing your post?
Do you want us to visit your website by clicking the link in your bio?
Do you want us to leave a comment? Are you asking for feedback?
Do you want us to buy something? Are you having a Black Friday sale?
The goal is to avoid getting too comfortable with the followers you get from these social media platforms. Only some people following you are interested in what you have to offer. You can ensure they know where to find you outside Instagram and Facebook. This allows you to nourish relationships and build stronger bonds with those who care.
In a matter of seconds, your thousands of followers can be gone if someone hacks you or your account is deleted for whatever reason.
Protect yourself by establishing an online home.
Indie Author Basics simplifies and streamlines the Self-Publishing Process so authors can Self-Publish high-quality books without pulling out their hair.
I used to ask people to subscribe to my email list, and almost no one ever did. It was also cringy to ask.
And then I realized I was working harder than I needed to.
The truth is, asking people to subscribe to your email list is boring, and no one wants to do it. We have enough emails.
And if you are a new author, no one’s ever heard of, saying we will get a free copy of your book doesn’t work either.
As I alluded to in the last post, authors must start to think like readers if they want to attract them.
Instead of asking people to subscribe to your list directly, do this instead.[mepr-show rules=”31881″ unauth=”message”]
Offer Something They Want
The value in giving something away is that if it’s a truly valuable piece of content, it will naturally lead to your paid stuff. At first, this wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t until I gave away my best book (the one people actually wanted to read) that I started to see a difference.
For your give, my advice would be not to throw something together. Give us something good.
Your give is also known as a lead magnet and doesn’t have to be a book. It can be a resource, guide, free tutorial, or access to exclusive content. It can be a complimentary ticket to your online class or a virtual pass to the next event.
Deliver Your Give By Requiring Email Sign-Up
Choose a platform to use to collect email addresses. I use Mailchimp, but there are tons of others. Require people to enter their email to receive the freebie.
Set Up Automation
As soon as they sign up, they should be able to instantly download the freebie. Setting up an automatic welcome email to officially introduce yourself is an excellent start to a warm welcome.
You’re done, and you didn’t have to beg, borrow, or pull teeth to get here.
Other ways to add subscribers:
Collaborate with other Authors
Host a contest
These are the two most powerful strategies I’ve seen. I get the most sign-ups through my poetry contests or when I collaborate with other authors.
Have a sign-up sheet at every live event.
This is probably the only time it’s okay to ask people to subscribe to your email list directly. I always have it sitting at my table. Still, the amazing thing is people will walk by and put their email addresses down without me asking! So in a way, you still don’t have to ask. All you have to do is make it available.
Add a pop-up on your blog and website.
Please ensure this goes away after about 5 seconds and doesn’t take up most of the space. Pop-ups that aren’t easy to close out are annoying and distracting. This makes us feel like we are being forced to sign-up. You don’t want people leaving your site because your pop-up won’t leave them alone.
Use Your Blog
If email newsletters aren’t your thing, you can always use a blog. When people subscribe to your blog, they get an email notification whenever you post something new. You can use this with your third-party email list or by itself. Either way, it’s another way to stay connected with your tribe outside social media.
I can go on, but the moral of the story is there are tons of ways to collect email without spamming.[/mepr-show]
Oh, please be sure you provide a way out! It is illegal not to provide a way for people to unsubscribe if they no longer feel you. It is much easier to do this if your emails go through a third party. If people can’t unsubscribe, they will report you as spam, which can ultimately hurt you. I talk more about that here.
Kyrie Irving is in hot water for posting a link to the documentary Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black Americato his Twitter account. The movie is a film adaption of the Independently Published book by the same name. It is alleged that the movie has much antisemitism in it, (I disagree but that’s a different post), and Irving has since taken the tweet down and apologized to the Jewish community via an Instagram post.
This post is about how he found the documentary and what Indie Authors can learn about platforms.
Kyrie Irving found the documentary by researching Yahweh on Amazon, saying that’s what his name translates into. According to this interview, he typed the name in the search engine, and the movie came up.
Many Indie Authors have long-cut ties with Amazon, which is their business. What I hope we can gain is an understanding of how people search for information, namely books, and the role that it plays for us as authors.
Amazon is not a distributor or bookstore. Amazon is a retailer that sells many things but is known for books. They are known for books because, in addition to selling books, they operate a Self-Publishing arm called Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. Amazon is so very well connected with books that bookstores hate them, and people who think of buying a book (and now movies) turn to Amazon almost instinctively.
Amazon is also the world’s second-largest search engine, with Google being the first.
“Amazon, with 54 percent of product searches taking place, is the world’s largest search engine for e-commerce. Technically, Amazon is the second largest search engine in the world excluding Google.”
Decoding the World’s Largest E-commerce Search Engine: Amazon’s A9 Algorithm
When someone wants to search for a book and does not want to visit an offline bookstore like Barnes and Noble, where will they search first?
Today (11/2022), it is a #1 Bestseller with tons of new reviews. Yes, he searched for the movie, but the book is a #1 Bestseller.
All because a rich and famous celebrity tweeted the link.
And this celebrity found it on the second largest search engine in the US.
When deciding what platforms to put your book on, consider not what you want but what readers want.
When your average reader wants to look up a movie, topic, or book, they are not going to Smashwords. They are not going to Draft2Digital. They are not even going to Goodreads like that. They are also not flooding B&N.com, though they’ll visit the brick-and-mortar bookstore (catch that).
When people (not necessarily people who are always on the internet and are familiar with the book world but everyday people with jobs who happen to want to buy something) want to look up information, they go to Google and Amazon.
Ignoring this is just not good business sense, except that your goal is not to make money from your books or bring a whole lot of awareness to it, which is cool. Not everyone publishes a book for these reasons.
(It is also not wrong to be on the other platforms, also known in the Indie community as “going wide.” It means you are not exclusive to Amazon but have your book available at other online retailers, which is awesome. I go wide myself. At the risk of steering away from the topic, that’s a post for a different day.)
However, for those of you Self-Publishing books you want people to buy, not being on Amazon is not bad or wrong, but it is leaving a lot of money (and exposure) on the table.
This post is a nudge to consider more strongly the platforms you wish to sell your book (if you are selling it).
It is a reminder to go to the places where your potential reader will most likely hang out.
That is the message.
Kyrie Irving found Hebrews to Negroes and made it a bestseller by posting the Amazon link (without a caption) because the book was sitting on a platform where readers are most likely to search for books.
Go where your readers are most likely to hang out, and search for books like yours.
Indie Author Basics simplifies and streamlines the Self-Publishing Process so authors can Self-Publish high-quality books without pulling out their hair.
Editing is first for several reasons, one being that I can’t get the book formatted before it has been properly edited. I determine my production schedule on the date the book comes back from editing.
2. Digital and Print Formatting
Now that the book has been edited, it can be formatted for digital and print. Formatting for digital ensures that it flows properly when you read it on your kindle, phone, and other e-devices.
Print formatting is vital to ensure the intended finished size of the book is how I want it. The most common size is 6×9 for a standard paperback. Poetry books tend to be smaller, 5×8, and workbooks are larger, maybe 8×10.
When I published my first poetry book, I chose 8×10. Imagine a poetry book the size of the 8×10 picture on your wall. Yes, it was a mess.
Oh, and Microsoft Word will not take care of your book formatting for you. Converting an MS word document to PDF and uploading it as is, is why many Self-Published books look messy and all over the place on digital devices. It can also make the printed book look poorly done, such as having too much spacing that makes your novel look like a College Essay. Ya’ll know what I’m talking about.
Don’t skip on formatting. How your book looks inside is important.
3. Professional Cover Design
Technically, the cover can be worked on as the book is being edited. A finished cover can be used to help promote the book if it’s done early and even kick off early preorders.
However, there’s a reason cover art is not right under editing.
To complete the entire cover (front, back, and spine), the artist needs the exact number of pages and the book’s trim size. Usually, the number of pages changes after formatting. Also, some books are too thin for a spine. If I give him/her the wrong size, it can affect how the book prints, and then I’ll have to get it redone, which can cost more money.
While I can get away with a finished cover, I cannot complete the full artwork before steps one and two are accomplished.
As you can see, I have a strategic reason for publishing in this order.
4. Buy / Assign ISBN
I buy ISBNs in bulk, so this part is usually already done. If it’s not, this is around the time I get them.
5. Upload Files to KDP / Ingram Spark / Draft2Digital
This part requires its own post to fully explain. I’ll do my best to keep it short but clear.
I publish with Kindle Direct Publishing and Ingram. KDP for Amazon and Ingram for wholesale distribution to bookstores and libraries.
How it works is I upload my files to KDP per usual, but I DO NOT select expanded distribution. The reason is that if you are making your title available in both self-publishing systems, that makes the title available to Ingram and will cause a conflict with the ISBN when you upload it into IngramSpark.
Although Amazon works with Ingram, publishing with Ingram separately makes it easier for your book to be ordered by bookstores. And bookstores hate Amazon, by the way. The thought of carrying a book published by Amazon gets their blood boiling. That’s another reason it’s good to have your own ISBN. It can make it easier for the store to carry your print-on-demand title without being distracted by the fact it was published independently by Amazon.
After publishing with Amazon, I go through the process of uploading my files to Ingram Spark.
If step three was not done properly, this is the part I can get stuck on. The cover must match the size of the book and the artist must provide a single PDF file that includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as one image.
Lastly, I upload my files to draft2digital for distribution to all online retailers, from B&N, to Kobo, to iTunes.
6. Order Proof Book
Order the proof copy of the book from Amazon and Ingram. Check for errors.
7. Start Production Schedule / Publish Book
Now that the book is complete, I can kick off the production schedule.
The financial part of Self-Publishing is not talked about enough. Lack of funding can get in the way of an author producing a high-quality book which can get in the way of that author selling that book.
One solution you can employ is to reinvest in yourself by taking the money you make from your book to publish more books!
I’m a slow writer. By slow, I mean I only publish 1-2 books yearly. I have no plans of publishing a book this year. But here’s the twist:
The money I made and saved in 2022 will help me to publish in 2023.
I have the privilege of speaking at Griffin High School again this year. As you know, teaching, children, and writing are all passions of mine, so whenever I can combine them is a plus. This will pay for editing my black history book. The money I made from book signings will help to cover the cost of the cover and other things.
See where I’m going with this? I knew you would.
If you think about it, by reinvesting, you are not spending your own money!
It’s about changing your perspective and putting those creative skills to work.
No. I did not publish a book this year.
I’ve been stacking my coins so I can publish two books next year.