by Ben Zackheim | Jan 1, 2016 | Book Promotion, Sell your book, Writing |
If you’re a writer and you’ve wanted to try Facebook advertising for your books, then check out this great graphic… straight from the horse’s mouth!
It’s such a concise breakdown, it makes me wonder why they can’t be this succinct with the Facebook interface. Haha. I’m laughing at my joke, which makes one of us.
But let’s break it down from a writer’s perspective:
Tie your text to your visual – I love this advice and I’d imagine you do too. Us writers love to be told to tie stuff together! The point here is that the image and the text should not be isolated. Tell a story. Flex those storyteller muscles.
Create different ads for different people – It’s a lot of work but it’s necessary. Identify your audience and then break it down further to find strata of that audience. For example, Facebook will allow you to identify people who love your genre. But you can also break them down into people who love your genre who are also parents of kids with ebook readers.
Speak to your audience – For every large swath of audience type, craft your ad for them specifically. So for the general Fantasy fan, include an image of your cover. For the Fantasy fan who loves to use her Kindle, show the cover displayed on a Kindle Fire. When you identify the audiences, don’t just write the same copy for all of them. Use words that will stand out for them. For the Fantasy loving Kindle owner, mention Fantasy, Kindles and even if the book is free for Kindle Unlimited customers. Does that make sense? If not, let me know in the comments!
Be recognizable – This is your chance to identify yourself to your potential customer. Use images that have consistency. Think about putting a logo on your images. Have a strong voice and a call to action that’s all yours. For example, my ads for the Camelot Kids usually include, “Armor up with The Camelot Kids!”
Keep it short and sweet – Want them to buy? Why should they? Want them to sign up for newsletter? Why should they?
Stick to one call-to-action – At the end of your ad building you’ll be asked to choose one call-to-action. This will give you a button inside the post that reads “Buy” or “Download” or “Sign Up”. Everything you write and every image you post should drive people to the action you want them to take.
Mention price – Specifically, mention the regular price and the current lower price ;-)
Include timeframe – My favorite is “For a limited time”.
I have only one thing to add and it will save you a lot of money. Do not rush the copy for your ad. It’s SO easy to be in the middle of crafting an ad on Facebook when, all of a sudden, a wave of excitement crashes over you. In a way, it’s similar to posting a regular post on Facebook! You can’t wait to see how people respond, right? Big mistake. Preferably, you should write the ad and choose the image even before you start crafting the ad on Facebook.
Do you use Facebook to advertise? How’s it going? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments!
by Ben Zackheim | May 7, 2015 | Book Promotion, Sell your book, Writing |
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Twitter. One day I think I understand it and the next day it’s filled with some faux outrage (faux-rage?) thingy that makes me want to turn the world off. But my love affair started up again once I realized that Shirley Link’s success as a perma-free book is primarily due to the cacophonous bird.
But now I want to take it a step further. I want to pay to get access to their huge audience. I want this for two reasons. First, I want to sell my $1 eBooks. Second, I want to grow my mailing list.
So I attended a great Q&A with some Twitter employees who were eager to educate me about spending my hard-earned money on their promo tools. They clarified a bunch of nifty-sounding services that you may have heard about but had zero idea how to leverage. That’s right. They gave tips on how to promote a tweet and they even explained Twitter Cards.
It turns out if you use Twitter Cards and promoted tweets together you could drive some incredible (valuable) traffic.
Here’s what they taught me.
How to promote a tweet according to Twitter:
First sign into ads.twitter.com. I’ve found this site to be the easiest way to tweet. I like the way it lets me schedule posting times AND it how it allows me to attach images with 100% guarantee that the image will show up in the actual tweet. That’s not the case on Hootsuite where I’ve found that the image often gets cut out of the tweet.
Plus, it’s the only site where you can create a Twitter Card. Why would you want to do that? read on!
I think Twitter messed up in calling these things Twitter Cards. It’s a bad name for a cool idea. When I picture a card in my mind’s eye I picture, well, a card. Like a business card. Or a playing card. A Twitter Card is more like a visible attachment that hangs from the bottom of your tweet. What else could they have called it? A Twitter Tail? A Tweet Board? Yes, those are awful ideas but you get the point.
This is an example of a tweet with a Twitter Card attached to it.
The actual Twitter Card is the lower half of the tweet, including the image, the Shop Now button and the text “Armor up with The Camelot Kids! Only $1 for a limited time.” You can make that button read anything from “Shop Now” to “Download” to “Sign Up”. The larger image spot is a great way to stand out on a busy feed.
You see the text “Want a good fantasy read? One reviewer says TCK “will take you back to the day when you first read Harry Potter…”? That’s the tweet I wrote. After I wrote it I attached the Twitter Card by pasting its url in the tweet. it’s pretty simple to set up.
But once you get a few cool Twitter Cards set up, what do you do with them? Simply put, you target your audience, set your budget, assign some tweets to the campaign (with Cards attached) and press the Fine, Take My Money button.
The one hour talk covered best practices for promoted tweets/Twitter Cards. Here are the basics, with some icing:
Experiment with targeting usernames. It allows you to get into the feed of followers of specific people.
Experiment with targeting keywords. The important thing to understand here is that keyword targeting scans for tweets in real-time on the service. They do not target overarching interests, old tweets, or bios. I didn’t know this before. Socialbro will take your money to target that kind of metadata.
Experiment with images. You may have great copy but the image might need a refresh. Play around with the most eye-catching imagery you have.
Check your dashboard often to spot places to tweak. Twitter reporting (which also resides on ads.twitter.com) is robust and relatively clear.
Set up conversion tracking to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. Just follow the steps Twitter lays out.
All pretty standard stuff so far, right? Well, here’s some good stuff to add on top:
Separate your campaigns by objectives and targeting. Don’t make a campaign that’s meant to get sales AND sign-ups. Each goal needs its own campaign.
For username targeting go for 30 names per campaign.
For interest targeting select the most specific categories possible. Do not exceed 2 interests per campaign.
Avoid using hashtags, @’s or urls in your Twitter Cards and promoted tweets.
Do 3-6 tweets per campaign to give the Twitter elves something to work with.
Twitter loves fresh content so swap in new stuff often. “Often” being a relative term that should be dictated by data in the reports.
Use the Lead Gen campaign for email sign-up campaigns.
Expect a 1-4% engagement average.
Do NOT pause and stop campaigns. This damages the performance. Plan and budget ahead. You can start small and ramp up the budget and number of tweets as you build confidence.
Here’s a list of resources they provided to get started:
I hope you found this post on how to promote a tweet useful. Let us know how your campaigns go in the comments. Good luck!
by Ben Zackheim | Mar 25, 2015 | Book Promotion, Digital Identity, Sell your book, Writing |
[Tweet “Spend an hour a week listening to one of these podcasts for writers. Go in with eyes wide open!”]
From Joanna Penn‘s excellent selection of business tips to The Self Publishing Podcast‘s eerily helpful smack talk, there’s something here for you to enjoy.
The Self-Publishing Podcast is one my my favorites, with Sean Platt (), David Wright () and Johnny B. Truant () lobbing inside jokes peppered with fantastic ideas. The charm of the hosts is a big part of the draw but their success can’t be ignored. My money is on these three authors hitting it BIG and it’s fun to watch their careers grow. What’s the benefit for us? We can draw parallels with their hard work, disappointments, victories and struggles. It’s like an epic serialized story with three guys sitting on their asses.
Best enjoyed with: A red chili lunch with espresso chaser.
Favorite episode: Selling on Apple, Kobo and Barnes & Noble
Joanna Penn () is a staple of the indy community. She’s been sharing her experiences as an author and entrepreneur for a few years, so her perspective has weight. She’s recently started to focus on the craft of writing as well. I like Joanna for her optimism and her focus on the future. Anyone who can make me feel good about this tough business has earned my attention!
Best enjoyed with: Tea (spiked with sherry)
Favorite episode: Optimizing Kindle Categories, Email List Building and Facebook Marketing with Nick Stephenson
The Reading and Writing Podcast is a great way to hear from your favorite authors about their latest books and the writing life. From Dean Koontz to Lee Childs to Walter Mosley, this podcast snags some of the best writers in the business. Straight-forward, insightful questions from the host Jeff Rutherford ( ) make the podcast a must-listen for those moments when you just need inspiration and guidance. At 181 episodes (and counting) this is the legacy podcast that should be on everyone’s subscription list.
Best enjoyed with: Buttermilk Cornbread Waffles (sweet and savory goes well with the interview AND the southern accent!)
Favorite episode: Walter Mosley. So talented. So classy.
The Author Hangout () is a new entry in my must-listen list. They’re off to a good start with helpful interviews of authors and marketing folk. Their series on blog tours is the best I’ve ever seen. The podcast is part of the Book Marketing Tools site which sells author services (see my review of their promo tool). However, they do a good job of keeping their business out of their advice.
Best enjoyed with: Pad of paper and pencil for the deluge of tips.
Favorite episode: Author Earnings: The Real Story (only Hugh Howey could find a way to say, “Indy publishing is like a raisin muffin”!)
The Self-Publishing Roundtable is a storied podcast with high turnover. People come, people go, but it always remains informative. They cover everything from marketing tactics to creative tips. The conversations are intelligent, focused and current. For example, one of the newest episodes cover Mastermind Groups. Yes, Masterminds are packed with buzzy-sugarness but they are a useful way to get inspired fast.
Best enjoyed with any slow food. Good for the digestion!
Favorite episode: Making Money In The YA Market
Jim Kukral () and Bryan Cohen () host this helpful, slick show. There’s the occasional plug of author services (Jim Kukral started Author Marketing Club) but they’re smart about it. Their Three Tips segment launches the discussion and they tend to be dead-on with their advice. Jim and Bryan also cover current news (which can lead to amusing discussion-rants).
Best enjoyed with: Whatever you eat while you’re watching the evening news.
Favorite episode: Digital Resale, Virtual Assistants and Shorter Books (they also cover Amazon Giveaways, though they come to the wrong conclusion ;-))
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast covers, um, Science Fiction and Fantasy marketing. Lindsay Buroker () of The Emperor’s Edge fame joins Joseph Lallo (, The Book of Deacon) and Jeffrey M. Poole (Tales of Lentari) to discuss tactics and strategies for one of the most popular genres. The podcast is relatively new but the years of experience shine through. From showing up at shows with 3D printed swag to maximizing free promotional days, this one covers the tried-and-true and the cutting-edge.
Best enjoyed with: Mead. Ferengi crab.
Favorite episode: Book Bundles, Marketing Successes and Failures, and Creating Author Swag
If soothing British accents are your thing, then you need to tune in to Rocking Self-Publishing to find a mantra. If you like soothing British accents that are saying something useful then browse the Rocking Self-Publishing library. Packed with wisdom, inspiration and common sense it’s a welcome break from the grind. Simon Whistler () is enthusiastic and hungry to extract useful information for himself and his listeners.
Best enjoyed with: Tea (spiked with tequila). Bacon.
Favorite episode: The Importance of Being an ‘Authorpreneur’ (author/entrepreneur) with Joanna Penn (two British accents bounce off of each other like wind chimes on the bayou)
This new podcast also enjoys the presence of Lindsay Buroker (she’s everywhere!) The show is low-key and informative, with co-host Adam Poe () touching on topics that we have questions about. Pay special attention to episode 7 where he goes over how to get your books on Google Play. He’s found some success there and recommends authors get their books up for sale ASAP. I also enjoy The Writing Podcast‘s wise choice to interview traditionally published authors. We all have something to contribute to this writing life.
Favorite episode: Getting your books on the Google Play store
So there you have it! My favorite podcasts for writers. Every one of these shows is consistent, informative, well-intentioned and worth checking out. If you end up becoming a fan, tell them I sent you! ;-)
What are your favorite podcasts for writers and authors? Answer in the comments below…
by Ben Zackheim | Jan 23, 2015 | Digital Identity, Writing |
My cousin is a musician. He’s worked his entire professional life amidst notes; touring with a successful band for years, producing several fantastic CDs and teaching. When iTunes slammed into the planet and made music digital and cheap he was angry.
“Too bad, cuz,” I’d say. “You know what they say. Adapt or die!”
Okay, I didn’t say it like that, but it’s the message that he probably took away from our debates.
Then Spotify and its ilk pushed music even further into the ether. Songs became not just a commodity, but a common element. Like air, except louder and with a riff.
Poor music business.
But what if indy authors have more in common with our musical peers than we think? What if the proliferation of subscription services is sending us down a path of permanently earning less for our books.
I’m an optimist. I believe that the writing life is a wonderful life. I know it’s here to stay. But it may need to change into something different.
So I got to thinking. Stand back. It’s a dangerous thing. Ask my wife. Or my cousin.
Here’s my take…
Musicians have concerts. Gigs can add some cash to the coffer as music sales drop through the stage. At gigs, bands sell CDs (and LPs!) to the audience.
But writers have nothing similar. Book readings are the closest thing, but they’re not as essential to the reader as live music is to the music fan.
So are we doomed to just maneuver the same turbulent sea of shifting tactics to survive Amazon’s whims, or Facebook’s changing policies, or a tiered Internet?
Believe it or not, I’m going somewhere positive with all of this.
What if writers need to produce their work to find that alternate revenue stream? Produce our work? What the hell does that mean, Ben? Well, what if I need to make The Camelot Kids a comic book and a weekly animated short for it to make me money? What if Shirley Link is a monthly podcast and a small indy film? Maybe your book is a future YouTube hit? What I’m searching for here is that secondary revenue stream that leverages the wonderful book we’ve written and builds upon it for a modern audience.
Does that makes sense? I mean, we tell stories. On paper. On touchscreens. But maybe we need to ponder other ways to tell our stories.
Maybe we need to tap into these social network thingies and find audio recording, film making, 3D animating peers who will work for a cut of the profits.
As importantly, maybe new services need to spring up that help us make our books into animated movies, or plays, or films, or games, or virtual reality experiences. Yes, there’s ACX. There are fun toys like Booktrack. Those are along the lines of what I’m talking about, but what I’m starting to see is that I need to break out of my comfort zone (even more than I already have). I’m starting to see that the same way that musicians had to learn to set up a gig, perform and connect with music fans in a whole new way, well maybe in some twisted, introverted wordish way that’s our future, too.
What do you think? Could you envision writers as media producers? Do you think a successful indy author will need to be a successful media producer in the near future? Is the thought too terrifying to ponder? Or does it excite you?
by Ben Zackheim | Jan 24, 2013 | Book Promotion, Writing |
This is Part One of an ongoing series that will look into WordPress tools that do specific things we fiction writers must do.
With as little effort as possible, of course. We have writing to do!
One of the toughest, and most satisfying, tasks that I’ve had to tackle as a writer of fiction is my website. When I decided to follow my dream of yarning-it-up for a living, I knew that a site would be one of those dreaded (scary cello music) THINGS YOU MUST DO!
After all, how can anyone get by without their digital stamp on our collective Web brain? Sure, it’s possible, even likely, that no one will show up, but, hey, what if they do?
I was slow to get mine up and running. Writing, after all, is my focus. Who has time to go beyond securing the domain before the other guy with your name snags it?
With my background in corporate America, I tried very hard to make my site’s creation as difficult as possible. Surely there was no such thing as a one-size-fits-all platform for me to leverage. Surely, it would be tougher than simply finding one web service. Nonono, I’d have to find one service to enable sharing, another service to pretty the site up, another to build the foundation, another to place ads, blahblahblah.
Oh, and I’d have to pay for all of it. One way or another.
Then I followed the advice of a friend, and tried WordPress.
1. WordPress is mind-blowingly stupendous for writers.
(yes, i’m a fan)
For newbies out there, WordPress lets you create a site that can do absolutely anything. Blog thoughts, sell books, run ads, launch contests, evaluate traffic, quantify your hard work against a million criteria.
In a word, WordPress is the single best web product and service ever built. Yes, that’s hard to quantify, but damned if I’m even going to try. WordPress speaks for itself.
It is the one-stop shop I never thought could be built. It has everything I need. Awesome designs (called themes), social network sharing tools, SEO plug-ins, ad widgets, html boxes, A/B testing,
cheap gasoline. All drag-and-drop-easy. And most are as free as air currently is.
2. WordPress is gut-wrenchingly distracting to writers.
My favorite built-in feature is the theme switching. I can download a new theme, preview it, and even push it into the world without losing any aspect of the hard work I’ve done on my real site. In all, I’ve only switched designs permanently once (it took about 15 minutes to make it work like I wanted). But I’ve tested a couple of hundred themes, which is great fun.
And a huge distraction.
With all of the themes available, I found it tough to settle on one for a couple of reasons:
- There were too many options.
- My needs are, shall we say, “fluid”.
Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. I’ve spoken to dozens of writers who tell me they suffered through their own lack of focus when building their corner of the WWW. Some got caught up in the cool plug-ins. Some were wandering the massive catacombs of drag-n-drop widgets. Most were in my boat, ogling themes until the morning coffee brewed.
After months of grappling with the immense toolset like a supervillain with all the power in the world, I realized something that I hope will save you tons of time, and free you up to write a novel that sells better than mine.
What is that thing?
In the next post, I’ll give my opinion of what makes a good WordPress writer site. It starts with a focused author, who doesn’t mind getting into the weeds just a little. Read part two now.
by Ben Zackheim