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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Dilemma of Sinking Sand Pits for Midlist Authors

"I've always wanted to write a book."

As an author or a pre-published author, how many times have you heard this statement the moment someone discovers you're a writer? My guess, is quite often, and the longer you write, the more you will hear it.

I love writing and the publishing market, but I'm witnessing lots of changes that can be seen as both positives and negatives. Even if you're a "glass half full" kind of person, you need to be able to recognize the negatives so you can brainstorm and develop ideas on how to turn them into positives. In other words, you can't find a solution if you do not first recognize that there is a problem.

The changes that are taking shape in the publishing industry is affecting all writers whether they are the million dollar writers, multi-published, award-winning, midlist, traditionally published, POD published, e-published, or self-published. No one is exempt from the paradigm shift that is taking place, not even agents, editors, publishers, publicists, or marketers and designers that work in the industry.

What am I noticing?

Almost everyone who wants to write a book IS writing a book and the publishing market is being flooded with all kinds of books--increasingly, self-published e-books. This has its advantages and disadvantages. I've listed a few below, but there are many more points not listed that we could discuss.

Advantages for authors are:

  • Not having to wait years to see their books in print 
  • Having full control of their manuscripts from writing, editing to cover design
  • Ability to set pricing controls and adjust it to market fluctuations
  • Higher royalty payments 
  • Publishing niche books that may not appeal to the general audience

Disadvantages for authors are:

  • No advance
  • All marketing and distribution is on the author's shoulders
  • May cost more of a personal financial investment
  • Higher chance of releasing books before they are ready and when more edits and rewrites are needed 
  • Building a platform from scratch, since even traditionally published debut authors have the publisher's platform to start from

Now, midlist authors whether they are traditionally published, POD published, or self-published via ebooks are competing in a flooded market that is either swallowing them up or leaving them on the shore mired in sinking sand. A few are doggie-paddling to a row boat. Only the million dollar authors are on the nice yachts sailing through the water on the sails of their publishers' marketing budget. The impact on them is much less than the rest of us, but a wave might flip them over every so often.

What is the solution?

It's already been identified--a solid platform.

But how does one get there without starting out as a celebrity? 

I wish I had a short, simple answer that would take care of all our worries that would launch us to the platform where we all dream of being. The truth is, there isn't one simple answer. No publicist can provide a miracle. What we can do is give you consulting advice and get you started on a marketing plan that will increase your sales as time progresses and from one book launch to the next. When deciding on a publicist, take a close look at that publicist's Social Media following and stats--most likely, that is the market to which they are able to market your book. Overall, each author will need to take advantage of every possible marketing opportunity. Do not give up. Be consistent and recognize that slow progress is still progress.

What has been your biggest challenge to building a platform?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Using Google Analytics to Measure Social Media ROI

#GoogleAnalytics, #SM, #SMM, #SEO

If you aren’t already using Google Analytics to track your website/blog performance, you’re missing out on a great feedback system and it’s FREE. It isn’t necessary to have a Blogger blog. It can be used on static websites hosted on your own server, on Wordpress, or some other platform. You will need a Google account and then follow the directions in how to place the codes on your site so that it can begin tracking the activity on your site.

I use Google Analytics to get an idea of how many visitors I receive each month, to track new first-time visitors vs returning visitors, and to measure my blogs' traffic flow from social media. It let’s me know the percentage of people from the US, Canada and other countries, who is using what browser platform to view my site, and what percentage of my readers are on mobile platforms such as Verizon Android or iphones. 

Why is this important? It helps me tailor my content, and to use gadget plug-ins that will work with these features. I don’t want to use something that the majority of my readers’ software won’t be compatible with and will prevent them from viewing my site. My goal is to gain readers, not lose them. This means I have to tailor my content to something they can use and value, as well as be compatible on the reading device they choose to use. 

Google has implemented the Social Plug-In Analytics. It shows how many people visit your site from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. This eliminates the guess work in how much of a difference your social media efforts make in your overall platform. It can be great info for the Marketing Plan piece of your proposal. It isn’t enough to have 8,000 Twitter followers and 2,500 likes on your Facebook page. Those numbers are only a start—they give you “access” to people you wouldn’t otherwise have. Now take it a step further, and learn the percentage of those people who are actively engaged in following your posts and interacting with you.

  • Do they take action and click onto your website/blog and read the whole post? 
  • Do they now follow your blog? 
  • Did they like your content enough to further promote it to their friends and family? 

You can know the answers to these questions by keeping up with how many +1 hits on Google, shares it on Facebook, or retweets it on Twitter. If this is happening, you have Social Media spreading your news by “word of mouth marketing”. This is what you want—other people promoting your work. You won’t know this without some mechanism to track your efforts--and why not use a free, accurate system like Google Analytics?

This will give you a “return on your investment” of time, types of posts, and content that people are interested in sharing and seeing or hearing. Often, what we “think” they are interested in is completely different than the “truth”. I can get people to share an image of Bambi on Facebook much faster than I can one of my devotional posts or an announcement about my books or events. Yet, on Twitter, people will retweet one of my devotions or my book announcements easier than on Facebook. It’s given me a chance to get to know my readers better on each individual social media site. Each social media site has its own culture, and you must learn them.

Here is an image of traffic flow that Google Analytics will show you from your Social Media sites. It will show you what percentage of “click thrus” come from which social media, which page they entered, and which pages they clicked on next and when and where they dropped off from your site. This will also give you an idea of which content (blog posts) people are interested in so that you will be able to target your future posts to garner more interactions. 

Below is an old image from one of my personal blog sites. 

If you want specific directions in how to implement the code on Blogger, click here.

What are your thoughts? Have you used Google Analytics? Did you know about the ability to also track your Social Media actions? Would it be helpful in helping you with YOUR online marketing efforts?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to Find the RSS Feed on a Facebook Page

There may be some instances where you might want to find the RSS feed of one of your favorite Facebook pages and share all their great info on your website, blog, Twitter, or other social media account. Or you might want to share your own Facebook page with some of your blogs or other social media pages. It's a way to streamline and share content while you work on projects and do whatever it is that you do.

1. Copy the following code link and paste it into the block where you plan to set the RSS feed. For instance, if you are setting your RSS feed through, it would look like the image below.

2. Then go to the Facebook page and click on a photo from that page. Go to the url link at the top and copy the set of numbers right before (.&type=).

For example, you would highlight and copy the numbers I have highlighted below from the Facebook url:

3. Now go back to your RSS feed block that you had copied earlier. (In my case it would be the Twitterfeed block.) Paste these numbers after the (=) at the end of the RSS feed you had pasted earlier.

Now you have the entire RSS feed. Test it and make sure it will parse correctly and you should be set to go. 

Note: Facebook is constantly changing things, so as of the date of this posting, this works. It may become obsolete once Facebook updates their site again. 


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