Tag Archives: self publishing

The Difference Between a Fan and a Follower—and Why It’s Okay to Have Both

21 Aug

Marketing books can be difficult. And confusing.

When I talk to brand-new writers who venture out into the marketing side of things, one of the first discussions we have is the difference between a fan and a follower.

A fan = someone who reads and/or buys your books

A follower = someone who follows your social media, but doesn’t buy or read your books

Why do I separate these two types of people? Because many newcomers get confused when they send out a newsletter to 800 people and only get 100 buyers. (Or post to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or so-on.)

Extra thought: A “follower” is also a fan. They are a “fan” of you. 🙂

Take my blog for instance. I currently have 21,000 followers. Did I sell 21,000 copies of my latest release? No. Because not every follower of mine is here to buy my books. They are here for my writing tips, my publishing insight, and (hopefully) my cat photos. And guess what? I’m perfectly okay with that.

There’s huge pressure to convert all your followers into fans, and I’m just not buying it. Don’t get me wrong. I would be ecstatic if 21,000 of you bought my book, but I also understand that my books aren’t for everyone.

What if all 21,000 of you bought my book, but it was only written for 10,000 of you? Well, that’s 11,000 1-star reviews just based on the work being inappropriate for that audience. My ratings would tank. Not that ratings are everything—but I’d rather have those who are genuinely interested in my books try them out. Attracting the right audience for the right things is more important to me than tricking the wrong audiences into buying something they probably won’t enjoy.

Granted, I get it. Sometimes it can hurt that thousands of people are following you for (insert # of reasons here) for years but won’t check out your books to show support, but, at the same time, aren’t they showing support by connecting with you? By cheering you up on Twitter? By reading your articles? By sharing your posts? By simply being there?

Don’t let the marketing world convince you that your work is only worth what is bought.

Your work connects you with others. It builds relationships. It allows you to reach out and be a part of the world. It gives you a way to express yourself.

You may have fans, you may have followers, and you may have both. But converting those into sales isn’t the most important thing in the world. (And those sales will come in time.)

What matters most are those connections you’ve made—and you’ve made those by chasing what you love.

Enjoy that,

~SAT

P.S. If you’re a follower who is considering becoming a fan, I have two free young adult books out right now on Amazon. 😉

Two free YA SFF books!

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Book Marketing Woes

31 Jul

Marketing is a word authors either embrace or want to stoke in the fire, but one aspect is universal: It’s necessary.

Whether you’re self-published, published with a small press, or published by a HUGE publishing house, authors have to take on some of the marketing efforts in order for their book to be as successful as it possibly can be. This could mean being present on social media, attending conferences, or purchasing ads. This could also mean spending more time marketing than an author would ever want to. In fact, I work as a social media marketer for authors and publishers. I know how much goes into it because I market all day long. So, trust me, I hear your woes…and today, we’re talking about them.

I’m only using this photo, because I love Scrabble, not going to lie.

I Don’t Like It

Many writers don’t. Unless you’re like me who has a background in marketing, many creative types struggle (or completely reject) the idea of marketing and publicity. And guess what? I understand feeling awful when considering a tweet schedule or a Facebook ad. My tips? Don’t overwhelm yourself. Stick to platforms you actually like. If that means you’re only on Twitter, fine. Tweet away. Stay off platforms you hate, because your readers will be able to sense it. Then talk about what you like. Love Outlander? Great! Write episode reviews. Join fandoms. Just be yourself. Marketing often comes down to just making connections and being you, not selling your book. I mean, who buys a book from a tweet that says “Buy this today! #mybookisawesome #linkbelow #IwannabeJKRowlingoneday”? No one. People buy books because they love that author or their ideas. Share you with the world. Related Article: Authors, Be Yourself

I Don’t Have Time

Just like writers who say they don’t have time to write, guess what? No one has time to write (or market). The key is making time. Even if you only have one hour a week, take that time to schedule your tweets for the rest of the week through Hootsuite or similar companies. Or just be present when you can. If you have the funds, hire a personal assistant to take some of the workload off of your shoulders. Personally, though, I only post when I can talk to fans. Example? If you take a really close look at my social media, you might notice that my photo posts are almost always at 3PM. Why? Because that’s when I wake up. (I work the nightshift.) My photos are generally taken the day before, so my posts are rarely “live.” However, I post when I can so that I can talk to my followers once posted. This also prevents my posts from interrupting my precious writing time. Example? If I post a photo of me writing at a café, I don’t want that to be live because I’ll use my writing time to talk to fans. But if I save that photo for tomorrow afternoon, I can use that photo and talk to them when I am available to chat (and protect that precious writing time while I have it). The key is figuring out what works for you (and when). Related Article: The Truth Behind an Author’s Instagram

Lack of Funds 

This is a big one I hear from clients and companies, and it’s such a big one because it’s essential to success. What do I mean by that? You need to know your budget, and you need to stick with it. If, for instance, your self-publishing budget for the year is $2000, but you spend all of that on ads, how will you buy cover art for your upcoming release? Where are you going to earn that back? Are you going to earn that back? Being honest about your financial situation is important. Advertisements and traveling can rack up a bill…fast. Be careful about what you spend and where. Apply for grants and scholarships. Volunteer at conferences. Ask for help from other authors. Example? Guest post on one another’s blogs or switch mailing lists for a day. It’s free and a great way to increase exposure. Keep your head up, and don’t let your lack of funds bother you. There will always be more opportunities, and support is all around you. Related Articles: The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) WriterHow to Create Book Teases on a Small Budget

Social Anxiety or Other Health Issues

Everyone’s health is unique to their situation. The key is trying to find outlets that are just as unique as you. Don’t automatically count yourself out. Research accommodations. For instance, if you have social anxiety or find leaving the house difficult, online conferences are now available (and growing in popularity). Don’t be afraid to reach out to the event coordinator if you’re interested in attending but you’re not sure how you can. Talk to fellow writers. And don’t feel guilty if you need to take time away from writing or social media to take care of yourself. Writing will always be there, and your health matters. You are awesome. You belong. Related Articles: Writers, It’s Okay to Log Out & Taking a Writing Break and Why It’s Important

I know there are a lot of issues that come up with marketing your book, but I hope this was a solid place to start. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! I’ll try to leave a quick tip. And if you have a topic you want me to cover, feel free to suggest one any time. I love hearing from you!

~SAT

#WW How to Manage a Book Launch

20 Jul

Launching a book is chaotic, exciting, and fun, but it can also be daunting. What ads do I take out? How do I get reviews? When should I get reviews? Should I create teasers? WHAT DO I DO?

Simply put, there’s a different answer for everyone, especially when you consider your audience and genre, but I have a few tips to keep in mind when organizing your book’s launch.

1. Start Three Months Ahead

Books might only launch on one day, but launching the book starts three months ahead of the official launch date. Why three months? Because that’s when most retailers allow you to list a book for preorder (and I highly suggest all authors do this). That being said, this means your plan starts now, so you need to have your marketing plan ahead of time. This means you have your teasers, blog posts, blog tours, etc. figured out, so that when it comes to crunch time, you’re not rushing to get things together.

How to Manage a Book Launch

How to Manage a Book Launch

2. Think Visual, Think Virtual

Consider an array of ways to market. You don’t want to only write articles or create book teasers. Different types of marketing will reach different types of readers. Personally, I suggest starting off by creating at least ten book teasers (and releasing five leading up and five after) and writing a few blog posts about your book (why you wrote it, your writing journey, etc.). If you want to know how to create book teasers, read How to Create Book Teasers on a Small Budget. Between these two things—visual and readable—signing up to other marketing opportunities will be easier. If you have a budget, consider hiring a book tour company. They generally share your book for a week before release day across various blogging platforms. Sometimes, you’ll need guest articles and excerpts, so those above materials will come in handy. Other ideas to consider: Release short stories related to your books on Wattpad, send out newsletters on release day, and schedule a time to e-mail book bloggers who read your genre. How did I organize all of this? I released one book teaser a week on #TeaserTuesday, I posted a short story on Wattpad every other Friday, I released two book-related articles every month, sent out one newsletter every month, and I made a point to e-mail 10 book bloggers every week. This way, I knew what I needed to do and I got it done without getting too wrapped up in marketing. All of this material was prepped months in advance.

3. Paid Promos and Giveaways

If you have a budget, there are more opportunities you can take advantage of. Like I stated before, research a few book tour companies to find book bloggers that will feature your work. List a Goodreads Giveaway beforehand. These giveaways often result in readers adding your book to their TBR shelf, so they should get an e-mail on release day saying your book is now available. Take out an Instagram ad or Facebook ad if you want. Anywhere, really (depending on your budget, of course). Host your own giveaway on Rafflecopter or other social media websites. Create a Thunderclap and offer swag to supporters. Whatever type of giveaway you’re doing, be sure there’s a way for your followers to share it. This will attract new readers, and hopefully, spark everyone’s curiosity about your book release.

On the day of the launch, work hard, but also let yourself celebrate! You deserve to enjoy this moment, no matter how much marketing you were able to do. You wrote a book, finished it, and got published! Congrats! If you can schedule a physical tour, fantastic! Call up a couple of local bookstores and ask if you can host a writer’s panel and book signing. If you can’t, create a Facebook event to have a virtual launch. But be sure to party the day away.

You deserve it.

~SAT

Bad Bloods is now available!

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RELEASE99cBad Bloods: November Rain released, and it’s .99¢ for release week only!

What are the latest readers saying?

“November Rain is very relatable and at the same time very inspiring, breathtaking, and beautiful. It should be read by everyone because I believe everyone will learn at least one valuable lesson from it. I also thought of The Hunger Games and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children while reading it, so if you loved those books, you should definitely check Bad Bloods out!” – Macy Loves Stories

Bad Bloods: November Snow releases next Monday, and readers are raving!

“I bawled like a baby at the end of this book. I highly recommend this story to all to read and enjoy!!” – Black Words, White Pages

“This book was an emotional roller-coaster! So much happened in this book, I couldn’t entirely believe my eyes. Recommend it? Yes!” – Daydreaming Books

I also did a character interview about Serena on Brittany M. Willows! Curious about Serena? She’s the protagonist of Bad Bloods, and we discussed her life, dreams, and what moves her. Here’s a sneak peek:

Where does she live? What’s it like there?

Serena lives in Southern Vendona, which is the countryside of a walled-in coastal town wrecked by a war that happened fifty years ago between bad bloods and the government. She’s living in the aftermath, and as a bad blood up for execution, she’s fighting to live every day. But she loves her flock—a group of 12 bad bloods who hide in a house together—and she strives to help her leader keep everything under control as an election for bad bloods’ rights approaches. Her best friend is Catelyn, and together, they share a nameless cat.

Read the full interview here.

#WW How I Became A Full-Time Editor

10 Feb

I love blogging (obvs.), but I love it even more when my readers suggest a topic for me to cover. Today is one of those days. The Uncommon Cliche asked me to write about how I became a full-time editor, and well, here I am to tell you.

Long story short: I fell into it.

I know. I know. That’s probably not the answer you were wanting, but don’t fret. I still have tips for everyone set on doing what I do. It’s a lot of fun, after all! (But also a lot of hard work.)

First and foremost, you should love to read, because you’re going to be reading a lot. (And that’s not including your free reading time.) In fact, I spend most of my life reading. I read at work and I read when I get off. It’s a passion of mine. So much so that I found myself reading articles about reading. You could say it’s an obsession. This little obsession of mine eventually pushed me into writing, and writing taught me some harsh lessons about grammar. Harsh, public lessons. This is when I became obsessed with not only reading and writing, but also grammar and punctuation. I wanted to get as much as I could get right, and I wanted to learn even more after that. I wanted to be a professional, and then, I realized I could help others be professional, too.

My initial experiences with editing happened in college. I was an English major, and for some reason, everyone seems to think English majors understand grammar…even though they don’t teach you grammar in college. You’re expected to already know it. All of it. So, in a way, being an English major forced me to hustle, and I learned in order to pass. This put me in a place to help fellow students with their papers, and eventually, reading others’ works became a regular, everyday thing. On the side, I started a blog for fun, but this is important. Remember this. I mainly shared writing tips and book reviews, and four months into it, I decided I wanted to pursue publication.

My cats help me edit, too.

My cats help me edit, too.

Move ahead to my senior year of college, and I sign with a small publisher. This upped the stakes. Now it wasn’t grades on papers. It was readers and their reviews for products people purchased. On top of that, it was a totally different type of editing with a new demand. As an author, I tried, made mistakes, tried again, and learned. I adjusted. I did what I had to do, and I worked with other editors to learn the more complicated aspects. If an editor wants to take you under his or her pen (er…wing), do it. Offer to be a proofreader or even a beta reader. Practice. Then practice some more. Learn as much as you can. Buy a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. Study it. Study it again. Follow Grammar Girl and other grammar-related blogs. Talk to as many editors and authors and publishers as you can about what it takes and what they know. Most people are willing to help you, and there’s always something new to learn.

When I first started, it was by accident. I was helping authors at my publishing company, and the publisher happened to expand. They needed a proofreader, and I took the gig. I did that for over a year before we went our separate ways and I started my own editing services. (I did this after many hours of research on appropriate pricing for my personal goals and such.) I launched my services via my website, a website I started three years prior. (Told you to remember that.) If you’re doing this independently, have a platform, and if you’re working toward doing this independently, start a platform now. Set your goals, research your audience, and move forward.

In my case, I’m still half of the industry standard. Why? Because I went into this knowing I wanted to give Indie authors a bigger chance. I mainly wanted to create a place for people to go if a previous editor didn’t turn out to be all they were cracked up to be. The other aspect I decided to focus on was having “no limits.” While many editors do, I don’t deny work because of controversial topics or scenes. I’m not here to judge; I’m here to edit. I understood the market and the average buyer’s budget, and I set out to help them.

I make just enough for me, and I’m happy. I love reading the works of my fellow writers, and I love it even more when I see the readers fall in love with their work too.

Being an editor isn’t easy. My eyes hurt, my wrists ache, and my migraines stay well into the night. But it’s worth it in the end…especially when you love to read.

~SAT

If you follow my newsletter, you just received an exclusive sneak peek of Bad BloodsFor future opportunities, sign up today by clicking herenewsletter

My weekly Twitter series #AuthorinaCoffeeShop will take place this THURSDAY at 7 PM CDT, since I’ll be out of town on Friday. I hope to see you then!

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM during the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. Come meet Tamara GranthamCandice Gilmer,, Jan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

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Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

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Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

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Death Before Daylightbook 3:

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November Ketchup

30 Nov

This month has been crazy! Between announcing my next publication and getting involved in a social media rage-war, I’ve loved November more than I ever could have guessed. We’ll get to the “why” part below.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up.” At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this November!

Big Moments:

First thing is first: I signed Bad Bloods with Clean Teen Publishing. It’ll be a two-part series, with part one—November Rain—releasing on July 25, 2016, and part two—November Snow—releasing one week later. The final blurbs were released this month too! And I cannot wait to see Bad Bloods come to life again after eight years of slumber.

In other news, wwww.ShannonAThompson.com hit 20,000 followers! Yipeee! I am blown away by you all, and I’m quite grateful for your love. I love you back. ❤

Minutes Before Sunset was nominated for the Cybils Award in Young Adult Speculative Fiction.

~SAT

Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Don’t Understand #MorallyComplicatedYA? Here’s Some Info: A trending topic I immediately got myself involved with via Twitter, Facebook, and my website. This covered an enraging article, as well as many authors’ reactions, and why situations like this need to be acknowledged, so we can make a change in the publishing industry.

2. My Next Publication, Two Books, Release Dates, and More: I announced my next publication and the release dates! I’m really looking forward to seeing the original November Snow transform into Bad Bloods, part one and part two.

3. Writers Who Don’t Write: Sometimes writers need a break too. This is a short article about why and what I do during my breaks, and also why we need to stop saying “writers write.”

#1 Clicked Item was TTDT on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was TTDT on Amazon

Other Blog Posts:

UntitledWriting Help From the World: When I struggled with an element as mundane as weather, I never thought to just look outside my window.

Writing Rituals: All You Need to Know by Heena Rathore P. Writing rituals can help energize and organize you.

Your Perfect Workplace at Home: How to Organize it by Emily Johnson: https://shannonathompson.com/2015/11/02/perfect-workplace/ A brilliant way to energize your environment and productivity.

My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined by Shane Joseph: We all have dreams. But they don’t always turn out how we thought they would.

#1 Referrer was WordPress' Reader

#1 Referrer was WordPress’ Reader

Pitch Competitions: An unusual way to try to query agents, but well worth it and lots of fun.

Saturdate: Bad Bloods Blurbs, Mockingjay, Steampunk, and more: You know, just the usual weekly update. Loved Mockingjay and released the official blurbs for Bad Bloods.

6 Tools to Improve Your Grammar by Sarah Whitson: We could all use a little extra help at perfecting our manuscripts.

Saturdate: Next Publication, Our Brand is Crisis, Cocoa Coffee, & More: The beginning of announcing Bad Bloods and treats.

Saturdate: Spectre, Presidents, MBTI Test, and More: Bad Bloods is releasing during an election year, which is neat since it’s about an election, and I’m an INTJ.

Website Wonders: A monthly classic

Calculated on November 26 at 20,524 followers

Calculated on November 26 at 20,524 followers

#WW Website Wonders

28 Oct

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of Octobers’s Website Wonders categorized into Reading, Writing/Publishing, and Coffee and More Fun

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Reading:

The Greatest Novels of All Time List Challenge: Pretty fun to at least skim through.

Anatomy of a Kindle Owner: Very informative infographic on how and why readers choose books.

4 Books That Will Make You a Genius: Go ahead. Try it out.

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Writing/Publishing:

Man Book winner’s debut novel rejected nearly 80 times: This is why you never give up!

How to Find and Fix Your Novel’s Plot Holes: I LOVED this article.

Writing Action and Fight Scenes: Because those can be tricky for many.

23 Websites That Make Your Writing Stronger: There is a lot of information that comes directly from literary agents too.

The Art of Writing is Rewriting: Writer’s Digest, I love you.

Coffee and More Fun:

15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee: All coffee beans grow in the Bean Belt.

Ancient Astronauts Photo Gallery: Just some fun for you UFO lovers.

Massive 16th Century ‘Colossus’ Sculpture In Italy Has Entire Rooms Hidden Inside: I LOVE adventures like this.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! Also, if you like self-publishing tips, my good friend and fellow writer, Rich Leder at Laugh Riot Press, is giving out a monthly newsletter with 12 of the best self-publishing articles every month. I highly recommend it. Sign up here.

~SAT

#WW Rejected? How to Keep Submitting

15 Apr

Rejected? How to Keep Submitting

Lately, I’ve been trying to help a lot of fellow writers find publishers, literary journals, and websites where they can share their work. The market is HUGE (hence the giant, capital letters), but for many, this is both a positive and a negative description of the industry. With so many options, how does someone know where to submit? And with so many opportunities, why do I keep getting rejected?

rejectThere are so many answers for this, and none of them are accurate. It’s all guesswork. I can’t tell someone why their manuscript was denied by so-and-so, and I can’t explain why someone else’s poetry made it into The Gettysburg Review over someone else. Only the judgers could, for certain, say why, but even then, it often comes down to their mood that day or their theme that month or how well it would fit in with the other work they already accepted. Again, guesswork.

That being said, this is when I see too many writers give up hope. They’ve submitted to 20 or so places and either received rejections or nothing at all, so they stop. Now, I want to take this moment to clarify that I’m talking about submitting to places today. I’m not discussing self-publishing. While I completely support (and often suggest) self-publishing, it isn’t for everyone, and many people do give up when submitting starts to overwhelm them, so this post is more for them – this post is for those writers who have specific journals they want to see their name in, to see a certain label on their work, to be among the voices of their favorite journal. That’s their goal and their decision, and I see nothing wrong with it. So, again, while I support self-publishing, this post is directed at writers who are submitting to places who might feel discouraged by the process. Below, I’m outlining a few steps to keep your pen up and your ink flowing while also submitting and submitting and submitting until that rejection pile becomes an acceptance pile.

Here are ways to keep submitting: (I’m going to use poems for the example)

Keep a Submission Journal

Set a goal for submitting a certain number of times during a specific timeframe. Ex. I will submit three poems to three journals every month. Now, here’s the tricky part – keep track of that goal. Write down what poems, what journals, and what dates you submitted. This will help remind you that you are currently submitting, and even if you get rejected, I guarantee you’ll already feel better because – chances are – you’ll already have other poems circulating for submission. Many journals, for instance, take months to get back to someone, so submitting different poems in different places will prevent you from getting that “I’m never submitting again” feeling because you’ll already have other submissions pending.

Keep Writing

While I believe it’s okay to have a specific poem you definitely want to get published, try submitting other ones too, and definitely keep writing new ones. A story I like to tell everyone involves my poetry publications. When I started submitting them, it was almost always the poems I NEVER thought they’d pick that were chosen in the end. My “best” poems in my mind are not my “best” poems in someone else’s mind. Remember that one reader won’t like everything, so send out more than just one piece of work. Send out a variety. And then write some more. And keep writing.

Keep Reading

One mistake I see many writers make is the lack of reading, especially of the journals and/or publishers they’re submitting to. I, myself, have made that mistake by accidentally submitting a controversial piece to a journal that no longer accepted controversy. Despite the fact that I kept reading the journal, I never noticed the theme change – so it’s important to read the journal and also take notes on the journal’s overall voice and goals. Sometimes writers think they can go around this by just reading the submission guidelines, but it isn’t rare to see “to get a feel for what we accept, read our latest edition….” at the top of submission pages. Even better, many literary journals offer a free copy for you to review, so read, and read a lot. You might even find a new writer you love.

Make a Mentor List

You know you have them. Your favorite novelist. Your favorite poet. A TED speaker. We all look up to someone, and it’s great to figure out where that someone came from. Even better, find someone with similar topics and/or voice, and check out where they came from and how they got their start. That famous writer wasn’t born a famous writer. They had to submit too. And you know what? I bet they even received rejections. But they never gave up, and you shouldn’t either.

Keep on submitting!

~SAT

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