Category Archives: Marketing

Put the Reader First or Risk Losing Them

Write for your audience, and don’t try to impress others with your skill

Put the Reader First or Risk Losing ThemI recently read a nonfiction book. My assessment was that the author wrote to impress more than to educate. Though I did learn from her words, I’d have gained much more had she gotten out of the way and put me, the reader, first. I didn’t care how educated she was or about her sometimes sassy style. I wanted her to teach me.

Regardless if we’re writing a book, article, or blog post, we need to put the reader first. Our words need to serve them, not call attention to ourselves with our clever use of words or the way we weave a phrase. The same applies to sales copy and marketing efforts for our books.

Whatever our promotional activities, we must carefully consider each campaign from the perspective of the prospect. Before we launch our promotion, even before the test marketing, we should take a step back and look at our creation as if we were the prospect.

We must consider each marketing campaign from the perspective of the prospect. Click To TweetConsider an email I received. It was set up like an email newsletter. The first item caught my attention. The email only provided a two-line teaser, so I clicked on “more” to read the rest.

That took me to a website (as opposed to the full text, lower in the email). Unfortunately, that page only provided the first four lines of the text, so I couldn’t read further until I clicked on “read full article.” I was six lines into it when the screen grayed out and an ad popped up, covering the entire piece. Then I had to “skip” the commercial so I could close the ad.

As this happened an intriguing video played to the right. My curiosity was piqued, and I wanted to hear the audio, but there was no volume control or “on” button. Incredible!

By then I had lost interest in the article and was peeved by the entire ordeal. I closed the window and opted-out from receiving further messages from the company.

I doubt that was their intent.

What steps can we take to put the reader first? What do we need to do to get out of the way of our message? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!



How to Build a Fan Base

Every writer needs avid supporters to help get the word out about his or her books

How to Build a Fan BaseWhen it comes to marketing our book we need a group of loyal followers. They are apt to buy our books and will be excited to tell others about them. We need a platform.

Most writers cringe at the word platform. That’s probably why some people use other words. One person says tribe and another prefers community, while others say street team. I prefer the word fans, which is short for fanatic. Yes, we all need fervent followers who are committed to our writing, our work, and us. But how do we find them?

Model What We Seek: To have a fan, we need to be a fan. Think about it. Look to serve instead of being served. Give without expectation. If they reciprocate that is a bonus, and we have found a new fan.

Share Freely: We need to give to our fans. This might be our time and attention. It might be personal messages via email, Facebook, and Twitter. We can offer them a nice discount on our book or even share advance copies for free.

Avoid Insincerity: No one likes a sleaze. Don’t become the used car salesperson of books. Avoid high-pressure tactics, false pretenses, and artificial limited time offers. We should avoid doing to others what we hate being done to us. It’s that simple. And if we are to error, lean towards humility.

Thank Profusely: We need to show our appreciation. We can do this with words and with gestures. We salute them: privately and publically. We let them know how much we appreciate them.

Reward Generously: We can recognize our fans in the acknowledgment section of our book. We can mention them on social media. We can let them read our next book before anyone else. How about sending them an autographed copy with a personal note?Developing a fan base is all about being nice. Every author can do that. Click To Tweet

Many book promotion gurus claim we only need a thousand ardent fans for a successful book launch. Though that’s a lot, it feels attainable. However, I’ve heard success stories from authors who only have a couple hundred. And I listened to a podcast interview of one successful author admit she focuses on about forty true fans. She lavishes them with attention, and they propel most of her releases into best-seller lists, and she makes a full-time living from her book sales. Finding forty followers is doable.

Cultivating fans is all about being nice. Everyone can do that – and every author should.

What do you do to find fans? How do you keep them? Please share your    thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!



Should You Use Video to Grow Your Platform?

Video may be the next step in connecting and engaging with an audience

Should You Use Video to Grow Your Platform?With advances in technology, and the power residing on every smartphone, it has never been easier to record a video and start a vlog. A vlog is a video blog. I’m a huge proponent of blogging and in the past tried the audio version of that: podcasting. (See The Power of Podcasting and My Experience With Podcasting.)

Moving a blog to video is the next evolution in communicating with our audience. Some people, such as Michael Hyatt, videotape their podcast sessions so they end up with a two for one deal: a podcast and a video.

Though a growing number of people consume information in video format this is mostly for short-form video: content lasting only a few minutes. Video increasingly pops up in social media, and starting a YouTube channel is a great tool to share and disseminate video content.

Longer form video, however, has one key disadvantage. It requires viewers to sit in front of a screen in order to consume the content. While video can be most engaging it requires commitment on the part of the viewer to dedicate the time to watch it. With our short attention spans, few people are sufficiently patient.

As one adverse to being on camera, I know that vlogging is not for me. Yet for those who are comfortable being videotaped and enjoy the experience, vlogging may be the way to go.

A second consideration is our audience. Does our audience consume content via video? If so, this is another reason to pursue it. But if they prefer other forms of communication, then vlogging is a waste of our time.

While producing video to grow our platform and connect with our audience may be an ideal opportunity for us, don’t jump in without considering the ramifications. First, are we ready for it? Second will our audience watch it?

What is your experience with video? How could a vlog grow your platform? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.Producing video to grow our platform may be an ideal opportunity. Click To Tweet

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!






Avoiding a Spectacular Podcast Crash

Avoiding a Spectacular Podcast CrashTwo weeks ago we talked about the benefits of podcasting to grow an audience for our books. Then we discussed possible downsides of podcasting and how podcasting isn’t right for everyone. Today we’ll look at one more consideration: the crash and burn.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, about ten altogether. Some are monthly, others twice a month or weekly, and a few are more often. Three of them had spectacular fails. As a loyal listener they let me down, and because of the increased connection that a podcast affords over a blog, I felt my disappointment in them more profoundly.

Peters Out: The first podcast started out aggressively, with daily podcasts. It actually provided too much information too often. After about one month it went to weekdays only and later to three days a week. Months later new episodes appeared haphazardly and eventually stopped altogether. After four months of silence, the host launched a new podcast, with a different format but the same theme. He’s doing them three days a week. Since the host lost my trust with his first podcast failure, I’m not so interested in following him anymore.

Goes Dark: Another podcast started with one podcast a week and kept it up for several months. Then some things happened in the host’s personal life and she missed a few weeks. She never did get back to once a week and hasn’t posted anything new for a couple of months. I have no idea what happened.

Takes a Long Break: The third podcast was also once a week. It had an established track record but stopped abruptly with no notice. After no new episodes for six months, a couple of random ones showed up, with an explanation that the host took time off to write a book. Now the regular weekly schedule is re-emerging, but my enthusiasm still lags.

With each of these podcasts the host build an online rapport with me and then effectively abandoned me. I feel betrayed and let down. I don’t trust them as much as I once did.Podcasting tips: have a sustainable schedule, be consistent, and keep listeners informed. Click To Tweet

Although the second podcaster gave some initial explanation for missed episodes, all three of them stopped without notice. Had they issued even a short podcast to explain what was happening, I’d have understood but to just go away feels disrespectful.

To avoid falling into the same trap: have a sustainable schedule, be consistent, and keep listeners informed. This demonstrates respect for your audience and reveals your professionalism.

Have you ever been disappointed by a podcaster? What do you think is a good podcast frequency? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!




My Experience With Podcasting

Last week I mentioned four benefits of having an author podcast to build our platform. The reasons are compelling. But before jumping in, we need to consider if podcasting makes sense for us.

My Experience With PodcastingI was an early adopter of podcasting. Though I don’t have the dates, it was shortly after I started blogging, so around 2009 or 2010. Those podcasts are no longer online so I can’t even verify when.

My process was simple. I’d interview people at conventions. I used a digital recorder with a cheap mic, didn’t prep for the interview, and made no edits afterwards. I just posted the raw files. Overall it wasn’t bad – as long as my subjects were extroverts and didn’t clam up in front of a microphone. However the results were far from professional and wouldn’t meet the much higher expectations of people today.

So before you jump into podcasting, consider the following five questions:

Do You Enjoy Public Speaking? Some people can stand in front of an audience and offer an interesting monologue with little prep and no anxiety. Accomplished orators usually make for good podcasters. However, if public speaking terrifies you, podcasting won’t be much better. Yes, a podcast doesn’t have people staring at us, but we also don’t have any visual cues from our audience to know if we are connecting with them.

Are You Blogging? Are you currently blogging? Are you doing so consistently, according to a schedule? Do you have enough content ideas? The reality is that if you’re having trouble blogging, you will most likely struggle even more with podcasting.

Do You Have Time to Prep? Six years ago I got away with doing no prep work. That won’t fly today. For interviews you need to research your guest and formulate twice as many questions as you will need. If you’re not doing an interview but a monologue, the prep time is even greater, the same as for a speech.

Are You Willing to Do Post-Production Work? You will need to edit the recording. No matter how much you planned or how good you are, you will need to edit the file. You’ll also want to add an intro and an outro. Though you can outsource this, that costs money.

Will You Invest in the Right Equipment? Though you don’t need much of an investment to produce a decent podcast, you do need a quality microphone, as well as software to record and edit the results. Then you’ll need a site to post the files. (Putting them on your website or blog could crash your site if too many people try to listen at once.) You’ll also need a computer with a good Internet connection and a quiet place to do the recording.[Weigh the benefits and costs of podcasting before you begin. Click To Tweet

Starting a podcast can be enjoyable. It can also be taxing if you aren’t the right personality for the task or ready to do what needs to be done to do it well.

Weigh the benefits and costs before you begin.

Do you think you are the right personality to be a successful podcaster? Do the benefits offset the detriments? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!




The Power of Podcasting: Four Reasons to Have an Author Podcast

It seems people are jumping on the podcasting bandwagon. They want to grow their audience and build their platform in order to sell their books (or whatever other product or service they have to offer).

Four Reasons to Have an Author PodcastThis makes sense. Look at the recent surge of interest in audiobooks, with people who “read” books by listening to a recording. They do this during their commute to and from work, as they exercise, or when they attend to projects around the house. They have become voracious “readers” without ever opening a book or turning on their e-reader.

Podcasting extends the audiobook mindset. A podcast simply becomes another audio expression for these folks to consume.

Here are some of the benefits of author podcasts:

Another Channel to Reach Readers: A natural communication channel for writers is the written word. Blogging connects nicely with that. Readers read books; readers read blogs. It makes sense, a lot of sense. However readers who listen to books won’t likely read a blog, but they will likely listen to a podcast. With podcasting writers have two ways to reach their audience.

Another Means to Connect with Readers: When we read a book or blog post we use the sense of sight to see the words. When we listen to a book or a podcast we use the sense of sound. With audio we use voice inflections, interject emphasis, and add timing to each sentence as we speak. These benefits of audio all allow us a better means to connect with our audience.

Another Creative Outlet For Authors: Writing is a creative art; so is speaking. Both communicate but in different ways. Both provide creative outlets, but which tap different aspects of our creativity.

A Fun Break From Writing: No matter how much we like to write, we all need to take a break. After all, once we spend a full day working on our book, do we really want to spend another hour writing a blog post? Not likely, but spending that hour on podcasting provides a nice alternative to writing. Then we can return to writing with a refreshed perspective.Use a podcast to build your author platform. Click To Tweet

Given these great benefits you might be ready to jump on the podcasting bandwagon. Not so fast. First you need to consider whether podcasting is right for you. Next week I’ll look at my experience with podcasting, which should provide some more insight into this intriguing communication option.

Do you listen to podcasts? Have you ever done a podcast? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!




3 Ways to Create Top of Mind Awareness

3 Ways to Create Top of Mind AwarenessMarketing can have one of two goals: make sales or create awareness. Although any marketing effort can do both of these, it will only do one of them well.

This post will discuss ways to create awareness – and when done right, top-of-mind awareness. That is, having our author brand be what a reader first thinks of when he or she considers what book to read next. Awareness, which some would call branding, is built slowly over time. Here are three strategies to consider:

  1. Articles enhance awareness both online and in print but especially in print. Publishers appreciate a well-written article that’s interesting and provides useful information. It will establish the author as a credible source and a knowledgeable resource. It creates awareness.
  2. Blogging is a great way to develop a following and increase awareness in those who read our blog. And as a post is shared more people will be exposed to us and our writing.
  3. Online efforts including guest blogging, commenting on blogs (real comments, not “buy my book”), and interacting on social media. These take time and require effort, but when done wisely they produce great results – and backfire dramatically if done badly. Each is its own art and requires time to develop.

There are other creative tactics that authors can do to increase brand awareness, but these are some of the top ones. Just remember, branding is building for the future. For the most part it’s not going to immediately sell books, but if it does that’s just a pleasant bonus. Book sales requires a different approach.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.Sell more books when you create top-of-mind awareness for your author brand. Click To Tweet

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!




5 Benefits of Using Online Advertising to Sell Books

With an online ad, a book sale is one click away

5 Benefits of Using Online Advertising to Sell Books

I once shared columnist Andrew Brenneman’s thoughts on the benefits of print advertising. It is, by the way, a compelling list that includes things we take for granted or overlook. Print advertising is the medium of choice to meet certain marketing objectives.

Notwithstanding that list, he also shares the benefits of online advertising. Consider these when contemplating marketing your book online using paid advertising:

1) Dynamic: It is essentially immediate, and can be updated as needed. Test an ad, tweak it, analyze the results, and then make it even better.

2) Two-way: It facilitates easy interaction and dialogue. Answers and access are a click away when an ad is online.

3) Medium Resolution: Although online’s medium image resolution pales in comparison to print’s hi-rez capabilities, it also works nicely on mobile’s tiny displays.

4) Transaction-Enabled: A sale is but a click away. This allows for the easy tracking of ROI (return on investment). As long as an ad costs less than the profit on the sale of our book, we can run as many ads as we can afford.

5) Personalized: Offers can be tailored to the recipient and targeted to specific demographics.

Online advertising and marketing is getting all the attention and hype these days, in part because of these factors. If these are your goals (seriously, they must be your goals – not what you think your goals should be or what someone else told you), then embrace online book promotions and pursue them diligently. However, when doing this, don’t forget to consider the benefits of non-online advertising.

Book marketing success, as with most things in life, requires balance: online and offline promotions and marketing initiatives.

Have you thought about running online ads for your book? Where have you run book ads? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!





12 Tips to Create a Better Book Ad

Designing a great ad is an art that takes practice

In my work as a magazine publisher I see all sorts of print ads, from good to bad, appealing to boring, effective to ineffective. While ad creation is an art, one that requires both practice and talent, it’s also something that can be learned.

12 Tips to Create a Better BookThe biggest difference between a good ad and a bad ad is the use of white space. Novices fill every square millimeter of space with stuff: information and images they deem relevant and critical to their message. And if the words don’t all fit, they simply reduce the point size of the font until it does. Then to make key words or certain phrases stand out, they use italics, bold, underline, and uppercase. While none of these are necessarily bad, they need to be used with much restraint.

Seasoned ad creators do the opposite. They know:

  1. White space is your friend.
  2. Graphics or photos are the focal point to grab attention and draw them in. Remember: “A picture speaks a thousand words.”
  3. Embellishing text with bold, underline, italic, and UPPERCASE screams is seldom a good move.
  4. Having less text increases the chance people will actually read it.

With these basics out of the way, here are some tips about the words in the ad:

  1. Put the reader first; give them value. It’s not about you.
  2. Communicate one message.
  3. Write a great headline; make it count.
  4. Use a subhead if it advances your message.
  5. Every word you use must have a purpose.
  6. Make the text readable and flow. Complete sentences, correct punctuation, and even grammar technicalities don’t matter.
  7. Include a compelling call to action at the end.
  8. Carefully proof the ad, and have other people review it.

Ad creation is an art that requires practice and talent, but can it can also be learned. Click To TweetThese are the ads that get people’s attention. They elevate your book and position it as a must read. And if the ad has a compelling call to action, they may even buy your book.

Today’s prospects look at pictures and scan headlines. They don’t actually read something unless you grab their attention first – and then you need to keep it by presenting a short and interesting message.

What tips would you add? What makes you read ads and respond? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!





The Art and Science of Search Engine Optimization

Good SEO gets people to go to your website, but good content will keep them there

An important aspect of author websites is attracting visitors, people who will actually read your information and consider buying your books. However, having a great site, with cool graphics, and the latest technological innovations means nothing if no one besides your friends and family actually go there.

The Art and Science of Search Engine OptimizationEnter search engine optimization (SEO): the art and science of getting people to your author website. Just remember that once they arrive, it takes good content to keep them there.

I invest a lot of time and energy into SEO for my websites. Generally, the results are good, with monthly increases in traffic, but occasionally I work hard to make recommended changes only to see no bump in visitors.

SEO applies to both static website pages and blog posts. However, sometimes the best course of action is to not tweak some blog posts for specific search terms or phrases. Instead just focus on good content and let it attract the people who are most interested. After all, they are the ones most likely to stick around to read more and then tell others about your site. That makes for some great word-of-mouth recommendations.

Even so, you do want to work carefully to optimize the other pages of your website for SEO, especially your home page, about page, and contact page. You should give special attention to your book pages, too. They need SEO.Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of getting people to your website. Click To Tweet

If you have an author website, don’t just post good content, optimize it for search engines.

What steps do you take for SEO on your website? Do you ever write posts to capitalize on trending keywords and search phrases? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!