The digital age is both a bane and a boon for budding young (and not so young) authors. Whilst the unstoppable surge of new technology has provided many new channels for self-publishing, it has also created a fiercely competitive marketplace where anyone with a laptop can now bang out a few thousand words and call it an eBook.
It’s a situation that is at once democratising and destabilising. Entry levels into the once coveted realms of authorship have been eternally lowered – but, inevitably, so has the quality of the output. And the result is an overtly saturated eBook market, most of which will likely never be read by anyone other than the author (and his/her mum), which is just as well, as I’m sure 99% of it isn’t worth reading in the first place.
We’re All Authors
Of course, in 2016, we all have and use the free tools infinitely at our disposal to self-publish. Social media provides for everyone a free platform upon which we may stand and broadcast to the world exactly what we think about anything at all. Once upon a time, celebrity was a hard-won thing; true influence and thought leadership even harder. But now, alas, we are all in the limelight. Indeed, we’re all authors of our own real-time, perpetual, digital autobiographies.
It’s a strange time to be a ‘real’ author. You remember them, don’t you? They were the often reclusive, artistic, professional writers, who not only spent hours upon hours deep in meditative contemplation over their chosen subject, but also just as many painstakingly perfecting what they had written in order to rightfully earn a place on an acquiring editor’s in-tray.
True, such brilliant minds do, thankfully, still exist, and it doesn’t seem like Penguin or Bloomsbury are going to go bust any time soon – but, nonetheless, the literary landscape has been radically overhauled over the past 5 to 10 years.
Vanity Publishing Self-Publishing
Self-publishing is now, pretty much, an acceptable practice (such a thing was once thought of as ‘vanity publishing’ you will no doubt recall). There are nearly half a million books self-published every single year – and that makes for a very tough playing field indeed. Not, I should add, because all of these publications are any good – most, quite frankly, are not, and would never have seen the light of day in the more rigorous selection processes of yesteryear – but because there’s just so many of them. Indeed, it’s not so much a case of the competition being fierce, but rather that the competition is just so bloomin’ enormous.
And this creates a brand new difficulty for the (‘real’) writer. These days, in order to succeed as an author and shine brightly from this ever-increasing pile of slurry, it’s not enough to only be exceptionally good at writing – one has to be exceptionally good at self-promotion to boot. Indeed, in 2016 and beyond, writers aren’t just writers any longer, we must also be entrepreneurs by equal measure as well.
Self-Promotion – The Sticking Point For Writers
As I say, this causes somewhat of a dilemma for the writer. Writers (real writers), by nature, are often the introverted type. Not always, but probably 7 or 8 times out of 10. I know I am. Articulation usually only comes to us when we’re alone, quietly cut off from the world, with only pen and paper (or keyboard and computer screen) in front of us. And, one thing that many of us struggle with – if not outright detest – the most is self-promotion. We just can’t do it. We don’t want to do it.
And yet we have to.
We have to, because, ironically enough, us writerly introverts are absolutely desperate to have our voices heard. Writers don’t really believe that they, as individuals, are ‘greater’ than any other person on the planet – in fact, it is often the trait of the introvert to (wrongly) believe that she/he is a rather useless person. But, we nonetheless like to think that our ideas, our imaginations, our trails of thought are greater.
And I don’t necessarily mean ‘greater’ in the sense of ‘better’ – rather ‘larger’. We take a thought for a walk through the rain, wind and snow, until that thought is so weather-beaten and livid that it’s positively transformed into a philosophy. A philosophy so brimming with metaphor that the only thing to do with it is to write it down and turn it into a story, a movie, a poem, a blog post.
Self-promotion In The Age Of Social Media
Thankfully, there’s some hope yet for us (real) writers (helplessly) of the digital age – social media marketing. And in fact, social media marketing happens to be one of the most germane means of self-promotion to the shy-away, writerly persona, for it largely relies on that one thing that all worthy authors have mastery over – the written word.
Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn – these are all some of the most inhabited internet congregation grounds on the planet, and each of them is largely based on the sharing and broadcasting of written information.
For some, it might be a shame that emerging talents can no longer just hunker down and focus on their craft and leave the promotion to the pros. But, like it or not, that’s the way of the modern world, and in fact, when done well, effective social media marketing can earn a good writer a magnitude of fans just through his/her social output before anyone has even downloaded his/her latest eBook. Indeed, as writers, if we could all just alter our perceptions of self-promotion, if we could begin to see it as a new skill, a new opportunity, a new pathway down which we may take a thought for a walk, then perhaps this whole self-promotion game would become a little less intimidating.
4 Great Tools For Promoting Your eBook
I want to now take a look at some of the great tools that are out there that can help us writers achieve this. The tools that I’ve selected (with the exception of the last one on this list) all focus on helping us spread our written words. And we must of course remember that that’s why we are authors in the first place – we write words so that other people can read them. These tools all give us the opportunity to write more and share that writing, and promote our larger works, our eBooks, at the same time.
1. Tweet Jukebox
Developed by author and entrepreneur Tim Fargo, Tweet Jukebox is essentially a tweet scheduling tool, albeit one that has been designed to cut out the most time-consuming element of scheduling of all – the actual scheduling itself.
For my money, Tweet Jukebox is actually the most valuable of all the tools on this list, and even if you completely disregard the rest of this article, I would urge you to at least give this program a try, as it’s not only a great way to promote your work, it also gives your fans the unique opportunity to promote your work for you as well.
Twitter is of course a great platform for social media marketing. Those little 140 character tweets are the perfectly bitesized nuggets of information that the modern-day internet user has no qualms over consuming (attention spans have worryingly shortened over the years, as I’m sure you will be aware). And they of course offer both a challenge and an opportunity for the writer, and indeed the self-promoter. 140 characters is not much – but, naturally, a good writer loves to try and form perfectly complete thoughts within this limited space as a true test of his/her creativity. Indeed, there’s something so pleasing about a good 140-character quote – they’re easy to remember, easily shared, and often a good one can transcend the sum of its mere 140 parts to become a true celebration of the power of language.
Now, you may not have written your eBook in 140 character sentences. But how many ideas have you packed into that eBook? How many statistics? Hundreds, I’d wager. Hundreds of new, interesting, challenging thoughts, facts and figures – all of which you will be able to truncate to fit within Twitter’s parameters and give your fans and followers a taste of what they can expect by indulging in your eBook.
But, as you can imagine, it’s going to take some time to put all these tweets together, and it’s going to take you even longer to schedule them to be posted out at regular intervals across your Twitter feed – and it’s this latter problem that Tweet Jukebox deals with.
As its name suggests, Tweet Jukebox functions much like a jukebox. Now, whilst it can’t write your tweets for you (and, as a writer, you wouldn’t want it to do that anyway), what it does do is take all of the hard work out of scheduling and the actual act of tweeting itself.
Once you’ve written your tweets, all you need to do is login to Tweet Jukebox and load them into a Jukebox Library. Next, select how frequently you’d like a tweet to be published, hit the play button and watch the dance commence.
Tweet Jukebox will ‘play’ your tweets in a random order at regular intervals (every 7 minutes or what have you), all day and all night, ensuring that your followers around the globe have got a great chance of catching your quotes and snippets in their Twitter feeds. It’s as simple as that.
What’s especially great about this tool is the fact that you can load up as many different Jukebox Libraries as you like, all with different sets of content. This means that if you’ve got more than one eBook to promote, then there’s no problem at all – just assign a different Library to each of your promotions, set the timer and hit play.
Furthermore, you are not the only one who can ‘play’ your Jukebox Library – other members of Tweet Jukebox can also set your Library to tweet on their Twitter feeds. This in fact is one of Tweet Jukebox’s most valuable features, for it means that fans of your work can promote your book using your words for you – which should give you even more incentive to hone those tweets into something really interesting that you think people should know.
And, to top it all off, every Friday TJB automatically thanks your top 50 most engaged followers for getting involved in the promotion of your eBook(s) – and this, of course, is all part and parcel of effective social media marketing.
2. WordPress (Or Other Blogging Site)
I’m sure that I’m not the first person to point this out to you, but writers write. They don’t just think about writing, or tell their friends that they’re thinking about writing – they actually sit down and write. Every day.
Of course, as a real writer you will be writing everyday as a matter of course anyway. But, what you may not be doing is blogging.
Blogging is rather 21st Century of course, but it’s invaluable in the digital age when it comes to getting noticed and indeed promoting yourself as an active and inspirational writer.
For the purposes of promoting your eBook, however, you can start your blog pretty much as soon as you start writing the book. That is to say that you don’t need to have finished your book to start creating a buzz about how exciting it’s going to be.
In much the same way as you would use Twitter and Tweet Jukebox (see above), you can use your blog to publish snippets of research that are going into your eBook, some interesting facts and figures, and even some full-length quotes (no restrictive 140-character limit here). The purpose of all this extra writing will be to try and establish yourself as a credible authorial voice in your chosen subject matter even before you’ve finished your book. You could even use your blog as a sort of ‘warm-up’ space to flex those creative muscles before you begin your day’s writing proper – about 300 words is all it will need.
As for the practicalities, a blog couldn’t be easier to set up. The most popular CMS (content management system) is of course WordPress, and for good reason – it really is the simplest, most intuitive and user-friendly platform out there. But there are other options such as Blogger or even Tumblr.
You can of course get started on any of these for free (and pay for any upgrades if you deem it necessary) – and, importantly, you can start using your blog to build a decent social media presence in the run-up to the big release date of your eBook. And all you have to do is do what you do best – write.
3. Abandoned Cart Plugins
At the time of writing, shopping cart abandonment rates stand at 68.63%. This means that even when you’ve written your eBook, published it, and effectively attracted people to your online store in order to buy your book – over two thirds of the people who pop it in their shopping cart will abort the process before completing the purchase.
Now, these people really are hot leads. After all, they very nearly took the plunge and gave you their cash, but, for whatever reason abandoned ship before the dock.
However, you will be relieved to learn that many of those sales can be recovered – all you need to do is reach out once more to those buyers and gently remind them that your fabulous eBook is still sitting there in the shopping cart waiting to be purchased. And, what’s even better, is that there are some great tools available that can help you do this.
If you’re selling on a WordPress site, then you can utilise an abandoned cart plugin like Abandoned Cart Pro, which will send out multiple reminder emails to your customers about their abandoned orders. You can of course use your writing powers once more to write these emails yourself, as well as offer coupons and discounts in order to coax them back.
If you have decided to set up a store using Selz, then all you have to do is switch on the Abandoned Cart app, which will automatically send out tailored emails to all those fleeing potentials.
Now, this comes right at the very bottom of the sales funnel, but one of the biggest reasons for shopping cart abandonment is when a website doesn’t offer a preferred payment method – and for 173 million people, that preferred method is PayPal.
Providing your customers with the payment gateway that they know and love is one sure fire way of gaining their trust and convincing them that you are someone worthy of doing business with. PayPal is also accepted in 203 countries and in 26 currencies – meaning that it’s the perfect medium if you want to sell globally (and presumably you do).
What’s more, you will of course be aware that tablets and eReaders are not the only devices that people use these days to read their eBooks – increasingly people are simply using their smartphones for their reading pleasures. And with PayPal, your customers can pay on any device, anytime, anywhere – and this is a great piece of promotional information that you can use to reassure your potential customers that their payment will not only be accepted, but will also be safe, secure and protected.
As a final word I just want to say good luck to all you budding real writers out there. You’ve got an awful lot noise to try and shout over, but if you start using these tools – especially Tweet Jukebox – then you will give yourself the very best chance of proving yourself to be as worthy an entrepreneur as you are a writer. I can’t wait to discover and read your next eBook!