The Care and Feeding of an Author on Amazon

The post and infographic on The Care and Feeding of an Author seemed to help a lot of authors and fans of authors, so here’s the next installment, The Care and Feeding of an Author on Amazon.  The infographic is literally, a checklist of things folks can do on Amazon to help an author.  (Detailed instructions and screenshots for each item are included in the post below.)

Other online retailers have similar features, but Amazon is the reigning champ of online sales.  Using these features helps the author and the specific book(s) gain visibility…which increases the likelihood of sales.  Again, we want to keep authors fed, watered, and writing, right?

Here’s the download link for the printable Amazon-specific infographic.

CareFeedingAuthorAmazonSM

Buy

buynow

Duh.  Of course, BUYING an author’s book or ebook helps directly.  It not only puts money in the author’s pocket, it also boosts sales figures.  The more a book sells, the more love it will get from the book store (Amazon).

Share “I Just Bought…”

Click to share “I just bought……on Amazon” on social networks.

When you purchase a book or ebook on Amazon, you’ll get an option to Share news of your purchase on social media.  That does add clout to the share.  People DO tend to notice if a friend actually pays for a book AND makes the effort to share.

You even get this option if you “purchase” an ebook during a free promotion.  The post doesn’t share how much you spent…just that you got it.  Sharing “I Just Bought..” spreads your endorsement and support even further than just the purchase.

Write a Review

This is HUGE!  We all read reviews before we buy (usually), and reviews on books are especially important.  We all read a bit differently depending on our personal experiences, so book reviews are relatively subjective.   Heck, bad reviews influence our buying decisions just as much as good reviews.  Either way, a large number of reviews is always helpful.

It doesn’t have to be a long analysis.  I think the current minimum for an Amazon review is 20 words.  20 words.  That’s like a substantial tweet.  You can do that to support an author, right?

To write a review, open the book or ebook’s listing on Amazon.  Scroll down to the reviews listed lower on the page.  (If it’s a new book, you might see a link to “be the first to review this book.”) Click the Write a customer review button.

Writeareview2

 

 

Writing a review only takes a few quick answers to questions on a form.  (If you’re not already logged in to your Amazon account, you’ll be prompted to do so before you submit a review.)

review

You rate the book with 1-5 stars with 5 stars indicating that you loved it.  (If you hover over each star, pop up text will describe how Amazon perceives the rating – loved it, hated it, etc.)

Type 20 words or more telling folks how you feel about the book, if you recommend it, to whom, and why.

You enter a title for your review…usually something positive or negative that summarizes how you feel about the book, like “Great Beach Read,” “Really Helpful,” or “Waste of Time.”

Video Reviews

You actually don’t even have to WRITE a review for Amazon.  You can submit a video review.  Use your webcam or smartphone to record your thoughts on the book and upload it just like you’d submit a written review.

Once you click the Write a customer review button, click the link for “Uploading a video? Looking for the old review page? Click here.”

videoreview1

You can also post the same video review on YouTube.  Make sure to use the book’s title, author name, and any keywords or terms associated with the book in the YouTube video’s title and description.  (YouTube is one of the most highly searched sites online.  Your video review will get views.)

Once you have your written or video review ready, click Submit.

Share the Link

While you’re still on Amazon, you can copy the URL (link) for the book and share it.

Select that http://www……. line at the top of your web browser and copy it (right-click and select copy or press CTRL+C).  Then you can paste the URL link in an email, on a social media site, etc.  Word of mouth is awesome, but it’s much more convenient if your friends can just click on the link rather than remember and search for a title.

Follow

If you’re already on an Amazon page for one of the author’s books, click the link for the author’s name to go to the Amazon Author’s Page.

authorpage1

 

If you’ve just opened Amazon.com, search for the author’s name and click the link for the Amazon Author’s Page. (This works best if you search within the Kindle Store.)

authorpage2

Once you’re on the Amazon Author Page, click the Follow button.

authorpage3

When you follow an author, Amazon will send you updates when new books are available.

 

Don’t forget.  You can download and print the infographic to use as a checklist.  Feel free to share with friends, too.  A few clicks can go a long way toward keeping an author fed, watered, and writing.

 

The Care and Feeding of an Author

We DO tend to mention very cool books and authors to friends, but we don’t always think of that conversation as a “referral.”  We refer plumbers, painters, teachers, and tools to help friends, and we do that for books and authors, too.  We just don’t always think of it in terms of a referral.

Will Write For FoodHow to Keep ‘em Fed and Keep ‘em Writing

Yeah.  It’s a little different.  You might talk about the author’s book rather than the actual author, but is referring a writer (or book) any different than referring a plumber?…or an awesome new band/singer?

Generally, an author writes to either:

  • Inform/educate/solve a problem
  • OR entertain.

Well, a plumber, electrician, teacher, or trainer all serve to solve a problem, inform, and/or educate.  Bands and musicians entertain.  We refer all these folks to others.  We just need to start actively thinking about authors/writers as folks who can entertain or help people learn and solve problems.

Word of Mouth and Mouse

Sure, if you’ve read a good book recently, you might post a link or make a comment on Facebook or over cocktails.  Truly, that really is the first and best thing you can do for an author (other than buying the book).  Word of mouth/telling others about a book or writer is the best thing you can do to show support.

If you’re committed to helping your favorite author, feel free to download and print the infographic.  In fact, feel free to share it with every book lover you know.  The author will be thankful.  😉

       

Referrals and Recommendations

Your opinions, links, and referrals DO matter.

Just recently, an old high school buddy posted a link to a book trailer on Facebook.  His wife posted the same link, too.  Since I find both of them interesting, and know they have good taste in nonfiction, I clicked the link.  THAT was their referral to that book/writer.

That word of mouth or mouse introduced me to a new book and writer that I didn’t know.  Then the book trailer lured me in.  Good stuff.  (It was the book trailer for Trust Me, I’m Lying if you’re curious.)

Pass along links to book trailers, blog posts, and the author’s web site or books on Amazon.  Tell your friends about it over dinner.   Write down the name of the book or the author’s name on a dinner napkin, so looking it up later is easy.

YouTube

YouTube has a Share button that opens options to copy the URL (the http://www address) for the video or to share the link to the video directly on multiple social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

If the author or book has a book trailer or other interesting videos, share them.  You can also create your own video reviews to post on YouTube and Amazon.

Web Sites, Blogs, and Links for Authors and Books

If the author has a dedicated web site for the book(s), author, or blog, DO share them with others.  Refer your family and friends to those sites.  Just copy the URL (again, that http://www line at the top of your internet browser) and paste it in a social networking post or in an email.

Social Media

Does the author have a Facebook page?  A fan page? A group?  Most authors are all over multiple social media platforms.  Make an effort to like, join, comment, pin, and SHARE, SHARE, SHARE.  Remember how much word of mouth counts?  This is another way to help with word of mouth/mouse.

If you really want to care for your author, word of mouth or mouse will certainly help keep ’em fed/watered and keep ’em writing!

Don’t forget to download and print the infographic.  Use it as a checklist for the care and feeding of your author.  😉

 

How to Make Your Own Haunted Portrait

How to Make Your Own Haunted PortraitJust in time for Halloween, How to Make Your Own Haunted Portrait is now available on Kindle.

As I mention in my Amazon Author Bio, though I’m a technical writer by trade, I do like to work with my hands to blow off steam.  …then I document and write about those projects, too.

As described on Amazon:

How to Make Your Own Haunted Portrait is a step-by-step guide to making your own paranormal art for your haunted house or your home sweet home.  The detailed and illustrated instructions in the book are all you need to create your own creepy pictures with eyes that follow you.

All the materials are listed (with photos).  All the steps are detailed (with photos), and all the fun happens during and after the making.

It’s fun (and creepy) to watch grandma’s eyes follow you.  It’s even more fun to watch others stare at grandma’s eyes following them across the room.  Now imagine a portrait of your favorite writer or your favorite characters from TV, movies, and books watching YOU.  Fun!  Even better, imagine telling ghost stories around the fireplace with Edgar Allan Poe following your every move.

Put one in your guest room!

Haunting as it is, the illusion is actually fairly easy to recreate. It’s based merely on depth perception and angle.  Similar customized portraits sell on eBay and through various mediums from $15 and up. …MUCH up if you want to have a personal photo converted.

If you want to create your own Eyes-Follow-You portraits, this little ebook is for you. Whether you want a haunted portrait because you love Disney, the haunted mansion, haunted houses, illusions, crafts, or just the novelty, with these instructions, you can easily create an eerie illusion of your own.

[easyazon-block align=”center” asin=”B0093SII5Y” locale=”us”]

How to Make Your Own Haunted Portrait is one of those projects I did years ago, AND documented, with photos.  I knew I wasn’t the only one who’d grin gleefully at a family photo modified so the eyes follow you.  (I have a tendency to place them on the fireplace mantle or in the guest room.)  🙂

Since I’d done all the research and tinkering to get the illusion just right, I thought it was only neighborly to document all the steps and tips.  Kindle just gives me an easy way to distribute it, now.  …and I can’t WAIT to see your personal haunted portraits!  I’ve love to see pictures, so feel free to send me links to your haunted portrait photos or share with me on Facebook.

Book Review – The “Wow” Factor: Discover the Secrets to Book Covers that Sell

[easyazon-block align=”right” asin=”B0082FGDI8″ locale=”us”]Kristen Eckstein, best-selling author and power publisher certainly delivers in this short, concise eBook about book covers.

It’s not a step-by-step how-to.  That would probably take multiple volumes.

This little gem covers some very specific advice and pointers on maximizing your sales potential and visual appeal on book covers…print and eBook.  Yes, there is a BIG difference.

The Major Points

For a short eBook, Eckstein’s tips cover all the major points and issues she and her publishing team have mastered.  Tips include information and advice on the following and more.

  • Titles
  • Subtitles
  • Fonts
  • Colors (complementary and contrasting)
  • Resolution
  • Sources for illustrations, photos, and images
  • Branding
  • Expectations
  • Examples (LOTS of examples of successful book covers)

Tiny View

Of all the tips, my favorite is the advice to look at your book cover in a tiny size to make sure it’s still easily visible and readable.  I’ve said for years that more and more of us are shopping on our smartphones.  Do you know how tiny a book cover looks on a smartphone?  If that thumbnail image is still visually appealing and readable in that tiny size, your competitive advantage increases exponentially.

Fontastic

A similar tip on fonts is especially helpful.  Not only does Eckstein advise clear, bold, easily readable fonts, she also lists favorites that she and her team have successfully used in various cover designs.  That suggested list of fonts alone is worth the price of the eBook.

Illustrations, Images, and Photos

Great minds must think alike, too.  The “WOW!” Factor also links to top stock photo sites and resources.  …familiar URLs there.  (See Stock Photos for Writers and Bloggers.)

No Time!

The author is absolutely right – “You have 7 short seconds to convince a buyer to pick up or click on your book – and their decision will be made primarily on your book cover.”  …and that’s if you’re talking about your book on a store shelf.  With online shoppers scrolling through search results, you might have as little as a second to capture attention.  Following tips from The “WOW!” Factor CAN boost your chances.

For all my fiction-writing friends out there, I should also tell you that the book cover examples are pretty much all non-fiction titles.  The same principles still apply, but I didn’t want you searching the eBook for sexy romance novel cover examples.  🙂

Book Review – How to Make, Market, and Sell eBooks All For Free by Jason Matthews

[easyazon-block align=”right” asin=”B003CJU49I” locale=”us”]Matthews previews the book’s content early with the following:

“I will only market my books in ways that are free or extremely cheap!

Guess what? The free stuff actually works better than the expensive stuff. Who knew?”

We learn from experience – either our own, or the experiences of others.  We also learn from both good and bad experiences.  Thank goodness!  Though I’d love to learn from good experiences of my own, I’m most grateful to learn from the bad experiences of others.  I’m quite happy to learn from their mistakes.

DOs and DON’Ts

From Matthews, I get to learn both.  He candidly begins with his own background story and openly cautions first about the costly mistakes he made in the beginning.  Thank you, Jason Matthews.  With the “to avoid” list noted, it’s much easier to focus on the strategies and techniques that have proven beneficial and profitable for Matthews and other indie authors on the same path.

eBooks

With the soaring popularity of Kindle and other eBook formats, sales potential is huge even for the brand new indie author.  Even better, the overhead is minimal, so taking your shot as an author costs mostly your time and effort.  Matthews shows you how to best spend both.

Topic(s)

Though my primary purpose for initially buying the book was the in-depth section reviewing online payment methods and selling eBooks from one’s own web site, I quickly found value in multiple topics:

  • Social Media
  • Blogs
  • Google Alerts
  • Forums
  • Your Own Web Site/Domain Name
  • Keywords
  • SEO
  • Blogging
  • eBook Covers
  • Photos and images
  • Software
  • Formatting
  • Online Publishing and Distribution (Smashwords, PubIt, Amazon, etc.)
  • eBook readers, devices, software
  • Selling through your own web site
  • Free web site creation and hosting
  • Promotion
  • Reviews

…all from the perspective of an author (not a band, not an internet marketer, not an ecological non-profit group – an author).

There are plenty of resources available on all these topics, but examining them from the perspective of an author focuses us on how they are best used by authors.

Scope

The scope of the book is comprehensive for the entire writing process – which does not end at the final page of one’s book.  Writing the book is just one part.  Marketing and networking often take more effort than actual writing.

Links, Resources, and Examples

Most useful in the mass of information, Matthews includes links to even more resources and examples.  As a guide for indie authors, How to Make, Market, and Sell eBooks All For Free is a gem of a reference.  As a nudge and a point in the right direction, it is priceless.

It certainly answered my questions about selling eBooks from my own web site – and then, some.

And More

Jason Matthews also hosts an online cable network show on HangoutNetworks.com where he and other indie authors discuss all things writing.  Tune in live each week or enjoy the archived episodes of Indie Authors on Hangout Networks.

How to Make, Market, and Sell EBooks All For Free

 

 

Book Review – Quit Your Day Job, A Guide for the Self Published Author

[easyazon-block align=”right” asin=”B005FM7P7E” locale=”us”]Great overview of effective tools and resources for the indie author

Quit Your Day Job, A Guide for the Self Published Author is NOT an in-depth technical “how-to.”  It IS a conversational guide (i.e., more English/less tech-speak) to all the options and avenues available to indie authors.

Though many of us enjoy eating computer code for breakfast, the vast majority of writers enjoy “writing.”  For most, the technical tools are just that…necessary, and often unknown, tools.

With Quit Your Day Job, Mallory shows authors all the tools in her trusty tool box and gives the newbie intro to what each tool is and how it’s best used.  “Use the right tool for the job,” right?

Again, the book is an overview of items in a successful author’s toolbox.  It’s not a master-class in techie how-to.  It’s conversational English from one author to another.

For example, in the section on Google Analytics, Mallory describes (in regular English) much of the information Google Analytics can provide AND how an author can use that information to grow and best serve readers.  Mallory does NOT dwell on setting up Google Analytics or include screenshots.

That’s okay.  Actually, it’s better than okay.  Since the book is an overview of multiple tools and options, it does exactly what it needs to do.  It introduces the reader to those options.

IF the reader chooses to pursue or investigate a specific tool or option further, there are tons of technical how-tos available online.  With Mallory’s introduction to the tools in Quit Your Day Job, authors now know enough to ask the right questions and dig into the specific tool or resource in-depth.

 Quit Your Day Job by HP Mallory

How to Create a Subscribe Via Email Link Widget for Your Blog

We Want Our Blog Notifications by Email

Recent discussions have brought many of us to assert our preference of receiving new blog post notifications by email.

We know there are several RSS tools that can collect multiple blog posts for us in one spot, but we still prefer a good old fashioned email notification.  Since many of us DO prefer email notifications, I thought you could use a tutorial on How to Create a Subscribe Via Email Widget for Your Blog.

How to Make Your Blog Send Email Notifications of New Blog Posts

I actually wrote this tutorial a while back for a friend who wanted to offer email notifications of new blog posts on her Blogger/Blogspot blog.

The tutorial is written to use the FREE service from Feedburner primarily for Blogger blogs, but the general steps are about the same for TypePad and even in html code that can easily be pasted on your web site or WordPress blog in a widget.

More robust tools for managing your email list are certainly available through AWeber, MailChimp, and others, but this basic free service from Feedburner can get you started with automatic email notifications quickly…until you’re ready for more powerful tools.

subscribe to email notifiction updates

The Tutorial

The Tutorial – How to Create a Subscribe Via Email Link Widget for Your Blog is actually on Infobarrel.  (I wrote it long before I started a lot of blogging, so it was a logical place to publish it at the time.)

It walks you through all the steps:

  • Creating a Feedburner account
  • Burning a feed of your blog site
  • Activating/enabling the Email Notifications service
  • Grabbing the code or widget you need to put it on your site.

With your link or sign-up option on your site, Feedburner takes care of the rest.  You just publish your blog posts, and Feedburner will automatically email anyone who has subscribed to your email notifications list that a new blog post is ready for them.

 

Guest Panelist on Indie Authors Online Cable Show

The latest episode of Indie Authors (the online cable network show about writing and publishing – sponsored by Hangout Networks) is now available.

All the live shows are recorded and posted on HangoutNetworks.com.

IndieAuthorsShow

If you’d like to see previous episodes, I’ve also listed direct links to the episodes in which I was honored to participate as a guest author.

For other Indie Author episodes, see Indie Authors on Hangout Networks, or check out the page Samantha Fury maintains on past episodes of Indie Authors.  She includes links to the shows as well as information on the topics discussed during each.

 

Using QR Codes and Smartphones for Marketing

What are QR Codes?

Small QR CodeMy favorite definition says that QR codes are bar codes on steroids.  It makes sense.  QR codes (abbreviated from Quick Response Codes) are scannable images very much like the UPC codes and bar codes we see on items in stores.  They’re just image representations of two-dimensionally encoded information.

…still sounds a little techie, right?  That’s okay.  You don’t have to know how QR codes work to make and use them for advertising and marketing.

Making your own QR codes and using them for marketing is VERY easy and totally free!

…unless you go with a method that requires printing costs, but even a print campaign using QR codes can generate a lot of interest and web traffic for very little cost.

Why Should I Care About QR Codes?

Honestly, the potential to directly connect with smartphone users and to sidestep the issue of trying to write down a URL or trying to memorize it – is just incredible.

  • It’s more convenient that trying to find a pen and a scrap of paper.
  • You won’t have to worry about losing that scrap of paper or reading your own handwriting.
  • It eliminates the issue of LONG domain names.
  • It eliminates typos or misspelled words in a link.
  • It’s relatively new technology, so people will be apt to try it just to see what happens.

Data from advertising efforts already shows that using QR codes increases conversion rate (from potential attention to a sale).  It also shows that the immediacy speeds up the sales process to a more probable sale, in less time.

Apparently over 14 million QR codes were scanned by Americans last year.  That’s 6.2 % of smartphone users, and more will start using them as they discover what they are and how to scan them on their phones.

The numbers are already great, and they’re just going to keep getting better.

Making Your Own QR Codes

First, you should know that QR codes are really EASY to create – for free!  There are several options out there, but my first test was quick and successful using a free online tool at http://qrcode.kaywa.com/.

1.  Just select the type of information you want the QR code to trigger… a URL (web address), a Text, a Phone Number, or a SMS.

2.  Type in the data.

3.  Select the size you’d like for your QR code.

4.  Click Generate.

Enter Info for QR Code Data

5.  An image and html code to the permalink for your newly created QR code will appear on the left.

save image or code

You can right-click the image and select Save picture as… to save it as a png or bmp file.

You can also select the html code generated for the permalink to the QR code if you want to insert it on your web site or blog.

qr code to brewpub web site

I found another free online QR Generator that incorporates images or logos, too.  It’s pretty cute.  The resolution of the original image is clear, and I love the color options.

http://www.qrcode-monkey.com/

 

Scanning QR Codes

Ideally, other people will be scanning your QR codes, so you may not even need to know how to scan QR codes yourself.

Me?  I need to test.  There’s no way I’m sending a QR code out into the world without knowing what it’s going to send or trigger.  Well, I actually already know since I created it, but I must test.

So, what do you need to scan a QR code, and how do you do it?

All you need is an app (application/software) that reads QR codes and a camera on your smartphone.

There are several free and paid apps for pretty much any smartphone or device with a camera.  Just search for “QR” in iTunes, the Android Market, or your favorite source for apps that work on your smartphone.

You MAY already have a QR code reader on your smartphone.  Both the ShopSavvy and RedLaser shopping apps (originally used to scan UPC/bar codes) can also read QR codes.  Both ShopSavvy and RedLaser are available for iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones.

Regardless of the app, the steps are pretty much the same.

  1. Open your preferred app for reading QR codes.
  2. Point the smartphone’s camera at the QR code.  (Click the scan button to open the camera if it doesn’t open automatically.)
  3. Position the QR code within the camera’s guide lines/grid and hold the camera steady while the camera captures the image and processes the action.

Go ahead and point your phone’s camera at this QR code and see where it takes you.  You can point your camera toward a printed copy of the QR code or the image displayed here on the screen.

Large QR CodeOnce your smartphone processes and reads the QR code, the designated action will occur.  This may be opening a web page/URL, or prompting you to see if you WANT to open the web page.  It could be text data, a phone number, or whatever action has been encoded.

So, I have a functional QR code, now what do I do with it?

The marketing possibilities are endless.  You can print the QR codes or display them on screens.  They’re easily read by smartphones either way, so use your imagination.

QR codes have been used on many of the following already.

  • Business cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Brochures
  • Book covers
  • Magazine ads
  • Newspapers
  • Web pages and blog posts
  • Stickers and magnets
  • Flyers and signs
  • T shirts
  • Scarves
  • Ball caps
  • Key chains

QR Codes can trigger:

  • textual information
  • contact information
  • a prompt to share a link on a social network
  • a link directly to a web page
  • a link to a contest entry form
  • a link to an email opt-in form
  • a coupon code
  • a video
  • etc.

The potential is wide open.  How will you use QR codes to connect with your customers?

Seriously, we’ve already listed several options above (t shirts, business cards, magazine ads, on web sites, etc.).  How else could we use QR codes to connect and draw in our readers?  Feel free to comment with ideas and suggestions below.

…and check out even more QR Code goodness over at LearningInHand.com.

Adding Pinterest Pin and Follow Buttons on Your Site

Why Add Pinterest Buttons?

Why would you want to add Pinterest buttons to your site?  Can’t folks just copy the URL and paste it when they want to pin my page/image?

Well, yeah…but there are several reasons to go ahead and add Pinterest buttons ON your site.

  • It’s a call to action.  With a Pinterest button right there, you are ASKING readers to please do share your stuff on Pinterest.
  • It’s convenient.  Folks are much more likely to pin your stuff if they can click the Pin It button right there rather than opening Pinterest, logging in, clicking to pin, copying and pasting the URL, etc.  If you want your stuff pinned, make it super easy.
  • If you add a Follow me on Pinterest button, you extend your reach to communicate with your readers through your own pins and pinboards.
  • It’s a signal that you are happy to have folks share and pin your stuff.  With copyright infringement issues and legal concerns, many of us are hesitant to pin unless we’re sure the author/owner is okay with it.  Including a Pinterest button shows that you welcome pinning.

Follow Me on Pinterest

How Do I Add Pinterest Buttons?

The exact, step-by-step instructions are a little different for each platform (WordPress, Blogger, etc.), but it’s pretty much the same process regardless of the site’s format.  It’s just a matter of adding a little code in the right place.

I’m not going to “recreate the wheel” here.  Since there are already great “how to” resources available, I’ll just save you a bit of time and link to some of the tutorials for each platform below.

From Pinterest

Direct from Pinterest’s Goodies, you can grab the images and code you’ll need.  If you already have experience adding Facebook or Twitter buttons, Pinterest is pretty similar.

How to Add a Pinterest Button to WordPress Site

How to Add a Pinterest Button to Your Blogger Blog

How to Add a Pinterest Button to Other Sites

This one actually covers any html-based site, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and Posterous.

 

Pinterest Can Make You Money

Yeah, I know.  I probably should have started with that statement, or at least put it in the list of reasons to add Pinterest buttons to your site, but making money with Pinterest is a whole other topic.

You can make money directly with affiliate links in your pins, and you can make money indirectly from the additional traffic and new visitors you draw to your own site.

I’ll leave the monetization discussion to the experts like Dan Morris.  You can follow him on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/danrmorris/ and check out the Pinning for Profits training video he created with Darren Crawford, at MakingMoneyWithPinterest.com.