• Marketing,  Writing

    Basic Marketing Tips for Authors (No. 8)

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    As promised, I’m back to marketing with some social media marketing platform advice. So far, I’ve advised you to use what social media platforms you feel comfortable using and to use the same “look and feel” on each platform to make you easily recognizable. Now you might be frustrated because, having done that, you spend hours working on social media posts for each of these outlets. Wring your hands no more! There are platforms that allow you to post to all your social media at one time, for free.

    I have, at some point, used each of the platforms listed in the graphic below. I am currently using Buffer, which I’m having glitchy issues with (more on that later). I used MavSocial in a day job, and to my understanding, it’s only free today if you signed up when it was free. In other words, if you sign up today, it will cost, or if you signed up prior, you’re grandfathered in.

    These are not the only options. Any Google search for “free social media marketing platform” will garner millions of results. If you start threading through articles (like this one) that list them out, be sure to check the publication date because the information may be defunct by now.

    The granddaddy of all of them seems to be Hootsuite. You can link three profiles for free, the majority of which are the most popular social media outlets. It allows you to schedule posts, do bulk scheduling, gives you the “best times” to post automatically and shorten you links if you need to.

    Tweetdeck offers unlimited profile linking but then doesn’t seem to use the most typical social media outlets. MavSocial is now free for two profiles, but I can vouch that their platform is not intuitive. Buffer allows one profile and uses most of the popular outlets. The thing happening to me on Buffer (which I now understand) is that it allowed me to link to two social networks but then will only post to one of them. Why would you allow me to link to two or more and then only post to one?

    As usual, the bottom line is this: you’re going to have to try them to figure out which one works best for you. Some have smart phone apps and some do not, so that might be a no-go. Once you find a good fit, however, you can save a ton of time by scheduling your social media. This means you don’t have to visit each network to post, you can post at optimal times and set your notifications for your preferences.

    Using something else? Please share in the comments how you “set it and forget it.”


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  • Marketing,  Writing

    Basic Marketing Tips for Authors (No. 7)

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    Let’s talk newsletters today. There’s some conversation about whether or not newsletters are dead or necessary these days. It’s my belief that this is a personal choice. Much like me telling you to pick which social media outlets you enjoy and use those, I’ll tell you that if you enjoy receiving information from your favorite authors in an emailed newsletter, or if you consistently subscribe to them for contests or sneak peaks or other perks, you may want to consider cultivating a mailing list and provide your own author newsletter to your readers.

    If you generally don’t “do” newsletters – you don’t subscribe, or you’re always unsubscribing, it’s a safe bet this isn’t the gig for you. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. It’s okay if you don’t have a newsletter.

    BUT if you are interested in starting your own newsletter, let’s talk platforms. Most email campaign management systems are free, to a point. For example, you may have to start paying when your contact list reaches a certain number, like 500 or 1000. Or you may be asked to choose a plan if you want to email more frequently than quarterly or monthly. Just read the fine print to be sure.

    I’ve used MailChimp successfully. It has a decent list manager, campaign manager, and drag and drop message creator. I didn’t find the entire platform particularly intuitive, though, and spent a lot of time pecking around for this or that because it was never where I thought it should be. I reached a limit with MailChimp where I’d sent a certain number of emails and the next one would force me to choose a plan, so…

    I did some research and chose Send In Blue for my next experience. I found the entire platform much more intuitive, the message builder easy to use, and importing my contacts and scheduling email was easy. Analytics were easy to understand. I can send “up to 600 emails a day”, so I can send the same message to all 600 or split it up, and then send out to another 600 the next day. I’m still using them.

    I’ve also used Emma professionally (with my last paying day-job) and it is NOT FREE but it is easy to use on all fronts. The thing is, aside from offering 24/7 superior customer service (which I’ve never needed), they other (free) platforms do the same things. I’m not sure why you would pay unless you simply have $$$ to burn or an enormous mailing list.

    This is certainly not an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add your favorite in the comments for others to check out!

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  • Marketing,  Writing

    Basic Marketing Tips for Authors (No. 6)

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    This is for all those authors who have a book already on Amazon. We’re going to talk about Author Central, the method my which readers (any account holder) may follow their favorite authors for FREE. If you are one of the few people on earth without an Amazon account, you will need to sign up for one. If you’re vehemently opposed to shopping on the site, fine, you don’t ever have to. However, like Goodreads, having your titles sitting out there unattached to their author is a crime against…well, you’re missing an opportunity to connect.

    You can visit Author Central HERE. This page is full of helpful information, and the first bullet point is setting up your profile. Same rules apply here as everywhere on the interwebs: use the photo or logo you use on your author website and social media. Pull your title(s) under your author persona using the ISBN and viola! Instant author page. You can add more images, but I typically don’t recommend doing so, as it just takes away from readers viewing your titles and profile. You can add a profile, link your blog (if you have a blog) and website, and list upcoming events.

    Bonus? You can also access your sales data and customer reviews under different tabs.

    At the end of the day, I wonder how long before Amazon merges Author Central with Goodreads, because they do serve largely the same purpose: allowing readers contact with their favorite authors. To be honest, I haven’t yet explored whether most of the other online booksellers have this kind of profile authors can set up (I know B&N does not) so leave me a comment if I’m missing any other opportunities!

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  • Marketing,  Writing

    Basic Marketing Tips for Authors (No. 5)

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    In my first Basic Marketing Tips post, I advised to invest in a headshot or logo to use on all your media. I also advise that the “look and feel” of your website and media should all match up. What does that mean? It means that selecting the colors, images and such of your website (the modern day business card) should feel familiar to a customer/reader. You can do this by using the same images and colors on headers for your social media.

    For free.

    Now, you can find images online via Google search, but those images may be copyrighted and you’d never know unless and until you get that notice. But there are alternatives. My two favorite free sites to find images are: Unsplash and Pixabay. I have them on my smartphone so I can browse images when I’m stuck somewhere that I can’t do any other work. Splasher is also an app (only, no web version) with good free images. Your web service will also provide some free images, just be aware that lots of folks may use them.

    Great, you find an image you want to use. Now what? I’m going to get into trouble with my graphic design friends for this, but Canva is your friend.  Canva is free for most services. You can upgrade, of course, or pay for certain formats if you love them. I never have. At the top of Canva, you see a listing of formats they offer, so you can create a header specific for Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest…whatever you’re using, they have a format. Neglecting to do this means your images won’t really fit right, may be pixelated or blurred or cut off. Once you know what image you want to use, it takes mere moments to load any verbiage on top of the image, like your name and tagline, latest title, whatever. If you’re new to this “design” game, keep it simple. Use one of their pre-made templates, formats or create from scratch. Make the font clear and readable.

    So now you can find quality free images and manipulate them for FREE. No excuses! There’s nothing you can do that can’t be undone, go forth and create your brand!

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  • Marketing,  Writing

    The Importance of Reviews

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    So, I just got done bashing Goodreads and now I want to talk “off the record” about reviews. Y’all, authors need reviews, period. We have gotten to the point where we just come out and ask for them. But why are they so important?

    Digital marketing has gotten so complex and competitive that it’s nearly impossible to be seen. I’ve come across a litany of so-called promotional sites that will only list your book IF YOU HAVE (SOME NUMBER) OF 4+ STAR REVIEWS. What? I suppose you could make the argument that the books who need exposure are those without any reviews but this is still ‘Merica and this is a free market…so some have learned to manipulate it.

    Some will use bots, some will pay for reviews, and I’m sure there are a ton of questionable practices out there, including ganging up on an author and leaving unwarranted bad reviews to wreck any career they have. So let me say this: it’s not a competition. A review for a certain author doesn’t take away a review from a different author.

    Reviewing is hard. If you didn’t like the book, should you go back online and leave a poor review? Maybe, if what you didn’t like might be something that lots of people wouldn’t like. If you loved the book, do you leave a good review? Maybe, if you think more people would enjoy what you read. My guidelines: if I liked the book, I’ll at least leave a star rating. If it’s something I didn’t like, I really consider why I didn’t like it. If others have already reviewed it on that basis, I won’t leave a rating or review. It’s hard to tell you what to say in a review, beside to leave one.

    The bottom line is this: authors need reviews (albeit good reviews) so that we can promote more widely. We are trying to make some $$$ here, not entertaining a hobby. Any author who has the guts to put something into the public sphere should be respected if only for the hutzpah and perseverance required. Yes, we also truly want to know that people enjoyed about the book, and that’s another kind of reward.

    My plea: leave an honest review and let us deal with what the content of your review does to our delicate baby egos.


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  • Life,  Marketing,  Writing

    Basic Marketing Tips for Authors (No. 4)

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    Today’s going to be all about Goodreads. Goodreads came on the scene in 2006 and is defined by Wikipedia as a “social cataloging” website that allows individuals to freely search its database of books, annotations, and reviews. Users can sign up and register books to generate library catalogs and reading lists. Goodreads was intended to be superior to Amazon as far as ratings and reviews go, but alas, Amazon bought them in 2013.

    The good news is that Goodreads is free. You can set up an account, make friends, link to your other social media and website and, if you’re an author, create an author “dashboard” so readers can connect with you in that way. You can link your blog directly on the site, ask and answer questions, host give-aways, all the Things.

    Y’all, I’ve quit Goodreads three times, so I have a really difficult time getting down with this one. I have finally settled into the idea that I have to have Goodreads but that’s about it. I will respond to messages and whatnot, and every now and then I will list a book I’m reading and give it a star rating. I have given full reviews in the past, but I’m not doing that at this time. I no longer link my social media to it, mostly because not all my connections need to know I read ten pages of Whatever I Read (it got annoying).

    So, here’s my pitch. As an author, sign up for Goodreads and set up your author dashboard. Claim your titles. Do this because if you don’t, somebody else might and you will have lost control of your image, your titles, etc. While that doesn’t happen often, the mere thought of it makes me nauseous. At the very minimum, do that, and make sure you link to your website and use the same headshot or logo you use for everything else. When your new book comes out, go to the platform and claim it. If you want to do more, go for it. I’m not a fan.

    Here’s why. When I first joined in 2006, Goodreads was exactly what the founders wanted it to be: a way to keep track of your readings, make connections with others you either know, wanted to know, or with whom you have similar tastes, and find new authors to love. What it became, however, is something completely different, with no recourse for the author. You’ve heard horror stories about authors getting bashed on Amazon, and it happens on Goodreads, too. It basically makes everyone and their dog a book reviewer and not everyone takes that responsibility seriously. They think they do, but they don’t. The bottom line for an author is that you have no recourse, other than arguing on the platform, with a reader, to correct something that’s just not right. Meanwhile, it can wreck your star rating, which can affect your sales.

    So, am I using Goodreads to it’s greatest potential as a free tool? No. I’m not sure that’s possible but I encourage you to do what you can insofar as it is under your control. All that being said, you can find me on Goodreads HERE.

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  • Life,  Marketing,  Writing

    The Horrible Writing Podcast

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    I’ve been interviewed on live radio before. I’ve been a guest speaker in creative writing classes. I’ve even done a video interview with a colleague (and admit I have no idea what he did with the footage). But I have been listening to podcasts for a couple years (TNQ is my favorite: GOGGINS!) and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing my own (but that’s probably too extroverty for me), so when I saw the mind behind Horrible Writing was looking for guests, I jumped online and sent an email without overthinking things.

    I was advised not to listen to any previous podcasts but the gist is that, as writers, we encounter a slew of interruptions, detours and roadblocks–and hopefully how to overcome these kinds of obstacles. It’s like TNQ for writers. While I am by no means a NY Times Best-Selling Author…I haven’t given up and there are some things about me that make it interesting, including the MS diagnosis and navigating my husband’s year-long deployment.

    So I did it! Thanks to Paul Sating for having me on. It was fun–I’m episode 51 and will que up in late August.

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  • Life,  Marketing,  Writing

    Basic Marketing Tips for Authors (No. 3)

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    Today, I’m going to talk about free social media. As an author, with a nice headshot or logo, you can use all of these platforms for FREE:


    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Pinterest
    • Instagram
    • YouTube
    • Google+
    • Goodreads
    • Tumblr
    • LinkedIn
    • Spotify

    There are more, but unless you are a teenager, you may want to stick to the above listed social media sites. I’m going to go over each of them in some detail in the following weeks. I’d like you to keep in mind that this is how I use tools, so others may do different things with these sites.

    Okay, now that we have the list, I’m a little exhausted. TBH, if you tried to master and keep up with all these sites, you would’t have time to write. So my best advice is to choose the ones you like to use. That’s it. Each of these has good marketing ploys you can use to get yourself seen and your books bought, so choose the ones you understand well or use most often and start there.

    When you set up your author accounts on these FREE social media sites, use the headshot or logo that you use on your website. Choose a look and feel that mirrors that of your website so there is no mistake that this is yours (I’ll give you tools to create the right sized banners for every site). Often, you have the option not to launch the site (or keep it private) until you get the hang of it, invite others, follow others and all that jazz.

    This is what I tell everyone: you can’t break it, and there’s nothing you can do that can’t be undone. Go forth and play!

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  • Marketing,  Releases,  Writing

    Best of Spring Reading 2018

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    Super happy to share that my contemporary romance Crashed is one of ten books selected as The Best of Spring Reading 2018. Several news outlets have picked up the list so It’s exciting to think my story will end up in the hands of new readers nationwide. Here’s a LINK to one of the outlets.

    Here’s the blurb for Crashed:

    When Ella Leary crashes the birthday party of publishing mogul Levi Northrup, she hopes to learn something sordid to use in her fight against him. She believes he’s stolen the magazine her father started and blames him for her father’s death. She never expects him to chase her down the street or be so vulnerable that she loses her edge and falls into bed with him. Levi is irate when he learns Ella’s true identity and gives her only a single issue of her precious magazine while he unravels his father’s final, very personal, business deal. Long-held secrets will force them to either part ways or work together in and out of the office.

    Buy Crashed at your favorite e-tailer.

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  • Marketing,  Writing

    Basic Marketing Tips for Authors (No. 2)

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    In the first post, I talked about two things you can do NOW to start marketing yourself.

    Today, let’s talk about website services that cost nothing. I know what I said in No. 1, to purchase your domain name immediately BUT if you must go for the freebie, you must! I did. I’m going to discuss three TOTALLY FREE places you can build a website. I’ve used all three. If you cannot afford to purchase a domain name and hosting and whatever platform you want to use, this can be a good alternative for you.

    1. Wix – Wix has come a long way. They have a simple to use WYSIWYG editor, which means “what you see is what you get.” It’s drag and drop, upload images, copy and paste text. You can insert tables, videos, and add multiple pages. Blogging is not it’s strong suit, so if you want to blog, there are easier ways. You can, however, link to an already-existing blog (just make sure it has the same look and feel).
    2. Weebly – At the onset, Weebly makes you choose whether you want a website or online store, so they have a foot firmly in the e-commerce market. You have several options, like linking your domain name to your site for $4/month, which is pretty affordable. Their editor is much the same as Wix (by that, I mean it does the same things, but the tools look different) and you get about the same things, just in a little bit of a different way.
    3. WordPress – WordPress is the blogging platform that became a website host. For years, WP was for blogging, and their platform reflects this. Every page has the potential to become a blog. Limitations apply with the free version. The number of templates is fewer, so are the plug-ins. The free version of WP is a great way to learn the platform, which is vastly different from the first two options, and there is a learning curve. But, when you’re ready, you can purchase WP, a WP theme you love and plug-ins to create exactly what you want. If it sounds like I’m a fan..I totally am!


    1. Free means there will be advertisements running on your website. This is why it’s free, because advertisers are paying for it. There will probably be ads for whatever the person looking at your site browses for, as well as for the website service itself.
    2. There may be limitations on what you can do. For example, a paying customer will have access to thousands of templates and images on the service…but you will have a limited selection for free. You will not have all the fancy “bells and whistles” you might like. If this is the place you want to ultimately host your non-free site, it can be a good idea to start this way, to get used to the way the service operates, and then buy in when you can.
    3. People are going to know it’s free. There’s no way around it. Your domain name will have the name of the service in it, like: mkchester/wix.com, which is a dead give-away. And there’s the ads. The only way ads get on my domain right now (because I pay for both domain and hosting) is if I do affiliate marketing, so I make some money from the ads.

    Let me just say again, these are not one-size-fits-all. These services are not generally interchangeable and you should try them all out (why not? They’re free!) and find your best fit. There’s no shame in free. I’ve owned my domain for about fifteen years, but just bought WordPress last year, after I’d figured out how to really use it on the free version. So look around, try several options before you settle, and see what works best for you!

    Have questions? I’m around–leave me a comment 🙂

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