Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Lovett’

Writing in Covid

By: Jennifer Lovett

Are you still writing?
Do you think it’s even worth it?
Is your new normal so stressful that you think it isn’t?
Well, I want to put your mind at ease about at least one thing.

The industry still needs books.

People are still reading.

The Reading Agency just reported that almost one in three people in the UK are reading more – classics and crime novels in particular.
Yay for mystery, crime and thriller novelists!

Those in the 18-24 age bracket showed the greatest increase.
Yay for Young Adult writers!

The reasons seem to be that books offer a new (for them) form of release, and that they now have more free time to read them. In the United States, Americans have shown a full 30% increase in reading across all age demographics.

Children’s and kid’s books are way up
Yay for children’s!

Most people admit to reading to either learn something about health or to escape reality.

We don’t have current stats on romance or science fiction, but if I’m reading to escape reality, these are a fair bet.

But how are people reading?

Not with print books.

Those are dipping, probably due to the closure of bookstores and Amazon’s priority list doesn’t include books right now. Ebooks did slump a bit, but those numbers bumped back up over the Easter holiday. Same with audio. It was down at the beginning of the quarantine but has since leveled back out to where it was.

I feel this was a commute and gym problem. Folks like me with long commutes or gym time didn’t have those anymore. But we humans adapt and evolve, so we figured it out. I now listen on my daily walk.

All of this is important for any writer who may feel discouraged.

Don’t. People are still reading and still want books. If you are feeling too stressed out to write. Take heart. That’s totally normal as well. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that if basic needs are met (food, home, shelter, job security), it’s real hard to move up to enjoy interests and hobbies.

Take care of yourself and your family and breathe.

At some point a new normal will take over and you’ll want to write again. Until then, do whatever you need to do to get through. If it’s not writing, that’s ok. If it is, then have at it.

If you’re writing, are you also thinking about your career?

Again, don’t overwhelm yourself in one of the most unprecedented times of our lives. But if you feel up to focusing on your career, then send out a couple of queries and see what happens.

The industry still needs books.

Continue to grow your email list or work on your social media engagement. Readers are hungry for connection. Maybe just focus on world building or character development or plotting. Set a schedule or create a way to focus on just a bit of writing every day. Take small steps to stay connected to your author business.

If your author business is your livelihood, then let’s talk.

Create a game plan. Don’t just wing this. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Write down your objective.
  • Plot out the tactics to meet that objective.
  • Think about ads. Now’s the time for Facebook ads. They are at an all-time low.
  • People are buying ebooks. Put yours up.
  • Try an email blast ad like BookBub or BookGorilla.
  • Consider content marketing…this means once a week create a piece of content: video, blog, podcast, long social post, and repurpose it into other content: Instagram Story, Tweet, Facebook Group post. It will boost your website’s searchability on Google.

Regardless of where your state of mind is right now, know this. You are a writer, and it’s totally fine if you want to write or you don’t want to write. A global pandemic that just killed 60,000 Americans in two months is seriously unnerving, and there is no right way to deal with it.

So, however you manage that is absolutely what is best for you – writing or not. Things will get better. Readers will read. And your stories will be awesome.

Sources:
The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Changing How People Buy Books
World Book Night: One in three reading more during lockdown
Share of adults reading books more due to the coronavirus…


Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Indie vs Traditional – Which Would You Choose?

By: Jennifer Lovett

Are you on the fence?

Traditional publishing is still considered the holy grail to many a writer. It validates you as a bona fide author. There is definite street cred to getting an agent and a book deal.

But … there seems to be a growing movement to “just go indie” when the traditional route takes too long or isn’t panning out quite the way writers had hoped. Going indie may sound super easy – write a book, slap on a cover, post to Amazon. Done.

And believe me, I just heard this version at a writer’s conference back in the fall and just about fell out of my chair.

Before you decide, weigh the pros and cons of traditional versus indie.

Indie publishing isn’t that easy. It takes a crap-ton of work. Before I decided to indie publish my nonfiction, I weighed the pros and cons of traditional versus indie.

For nonfiction, indie won out for a couple of reasons but mainly because I wasn’t all that concerned about wide distribution and I’m comfortable marketing.

For fiction, on the other hand, I’m still holding out for a trad deal.

Before you decide which direction you should go, I really, really, really encourage you to do a pro-con list because publishing indie isn’t for the feint of heart.

The factors below helped me decide, and I hope they help you before you decide.

Street Cred.

  • Although Jeff Bezos told Amazon shareholders in his annual report that more than 1,000 authors hit the six-figure mark, there is still a stigma around indie publishing as not being of the same quality as traditionally published books. Is it as deeply ingrained as it used to be? No. And if you are confident in the quality of your books, then you can build your own street cred. But that brings me to marketing.

Marketing

  • Regardless of which method you decide to publish, you will have to do upwards of 80% of your own marketing. Yes, even with a traditional deal. Former Writers Digest Publisher Guy LeCharles Gonzales led a publicist’s panel at Writers Digest conference in August and all agreed with this. This means you will need to know how to sell yourself and your books online and in person.
  • However, the traditional houses have ins with the major networks and news outlets you would have a hard time busting into as an indie.
  • There are a million ways to market a book and the information available is overwhelming and doesn’t all work. You’ll have to do a ton of testing to find which works for you.

Timeline

  • If your books are not time sensitive, then traditional publishing will work for you. It takes one to two years to get a new book to market.
  • With indie publishing, you’re on the timeline it takes you to write, edit, design and publish. It took me 10 months from the start of the first page, through the edits, book designers and uploading to Amazon. It’s taken five for the second book.

Editing

  • Traditional publishers want a clean manuscript, so having beta readers or a critique group or even a freelance editor review it is smart before you query. That being said, they will still edit it a million times for you.
  • If you indie publish, you’ll have to hire an editor (developmental, content, line, proofreader). I found mine on Reedsy and scored with the first one. I’ve had friends go through several before finding the best one for their work style.

Book Cover and Design

  • For the book cover, traditional houses will determine that for you. I’ve heard repeatedly that even authors with a stipulation in their contract to have final say on the cover never actually get that final say.
  • With indie publishing you’ll certainly have final say, but you’ll also have to do the market research to ensure your covers are industry standard and then hire the designer. It took me four before I found the right chemistry with a designer.

Distribution

  • Traditional publishing has the upper hand here. They can get your books into brick and mortar stores and yes, those are still a thing. Indie bookstores are rising and the Big Five have the contacts.
  • However, with IngramSpark, you can now pitch your books to libraries and bookshops.

TV and Movie Rights

  • Traditional publishing has the contacts to sell your book to Hollywood and get your story on the small and large screen.
  • If you indie published, you’d have to find an intellectual property attorney or a hybrid agent to help you do this.

International Rights

  • Selling your books overseas is lucrative. Period. A traditional agent again has the contacts at the London Book Fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair, BookFest Singapore and others. It takes money and time to get to those, make contacts and get you an international deal.
  • That being said, you can sell in other countries on Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books and Google Play Books. You can use an aggregator/distributor like Smashwords and Draft2Digital to help you.

Audio Books

  • Audio is simply exploding this year and with a trad deal, you won’t have to pay upfront costs or find a reader.
  • As an indie, audiobooks can be cost prohibitive as it can cost upwards of $3000 to produce an audiobook and you’ll have to find a reader using ACX or Findaway Voices.

Jennifer Lovett

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Obnoxious is Obnoxious – Email Marketing for Authors

by: Jennifer Lovett

So, there’s this narrative going around that marketers are telling authors to do email marketing and do it in a way that makes you besties with your list. Let me disavow you of that notion right now. Do NOT make besties with your email list. That list is for your reader to get to know you, not the other way around.

I feel email marketing is the new “buy my book” on Twitter thing that was going around a few years ago. Someone somewhere said, “All authors should be on Twitter,” but that “someone” didn’t teach authors how to do Twitter and thus, authors became obnoxious tweeting their buy links out every five seconds. Email has become the latest thing. And obnoxious is obnoxious no matter the platform.

Email marketing is a chance for you to develop a brand for yourself over time. It’s a long-term strategy, not a hard sell strategy. I do recommend it for authors, but I recommend it at a level you are comfortable at. Email once a month and make it fun for you and the reader. If you can’t do this, then just collect emails until you are ready. If you are chatty and have fun things to say, email once a week. Do not email more than that. Open rates plummet.

The more you can make the email sound like one from a friend, the better your open rates will be. Because I want you to use email successfully, I created a checklist for you:

Why do authors need an email list?

  • Email usage is up. Nielsen and Pew Research both report an increase in email usage. 71% of email users admit to looking at them first thing in the morning
  • Email is seen more often by the recipient than any social media post. Social media is saturated scrolling and your followers may or may not ever see your post. If you run a business profile, those followers definitely won’t see it without paying for ads.
  • Open rates. Organic reach on a Facebook Page is 3-5% (it can get as high as 10-12 with good engagement). Twitter is about the same. Instagram is slightly higher. Open rates on email are in the 25-30% range.
  • You own the list. Forever. Your social media followers don’t give you their address and the platform owns the list. If they go under or out of style, remember Google+ or MySpace, you lose that list. Forever.

How do you build the list?

  • Pick an email service provider. Free ones up to a certain number of subscribers include MailerLite, Mailchimp, SendinBlue, or Drip.
  • Create a freebie or magnet. This should be something the reader wants: free book or novella, scenes, maps, case studies, recipes from a series. Get creative.
  • Build your landing page. This is where readers will sign up for your list. Not too cluttered and to the point. Make it fun.
  • Use the double Opt-in. This keeps you out of ANTI-SPAM law trouble.
  • Create an automated email trail. This is a series of introductory emails for the reader – to you, the stories, the setting, the character, releases, appearances, events. ONE email with a place to buy your books is good. No more.
  • Segment your list. This will tell you who actually opens your emails. This will matter when you start having to pay for subscribers.
  • Split test. Test subject lines, photos, contents, anything to increase open rates. Test only one component at time or you’ll receive skewed results.
  • Avoid spammy words. FREE, BUY, OPEN NOW, PROMISE, OBLIGATION. Google for more. These will get your emails kicked to spam.

What should I email?

Anything beneficial to the reader. Email is for the reader not you. Keep that in mind always. Don’t try to become their best friend. If they want a relationship with you, they’ll let you know. Otherwise, email should provide them with insight into your books. It also helps them get to know you, because readers enjoy buying books from people they know or think they do.

  • Progress reports on the current work in progress.
  • Book launch announcements.
  • Events and appearances.
  • New blog posts.
  • Research.
  • Photos of your last trip and what you learned (keep the size small so you don’t clog up their email box).
  • Positive reviews your book received.
  • Interviews with research subjects or other authors.
  • List of your favorites (books, authors, movies, plays, music).
  • Promotions and/or giveaways.
  • Deleted scenes (also good for a freebie).
  • Milestone news (anniversaries, birthdays).
  • Backstory (you know, all that stuff you wanted to put in your book but your agent made you take it all out).
  • Quotes and questions.
  • Photo – one SMALL photo. You don’t want to make the email size too big.
  • Call to action (buy the book, attend the event, respond to a question, meet the author). Use Calls to Action sparingly so the reader doesn’t feel spammed.
  • Use a P.S. because they are the highest read section. You can let them know what to expect in the next edition or something fun about your character. The best ones are a Call to Action that get them to click on your website or social media.

Subject lines.

I get questions about subject lines quite often. There are several schools of thought. Marketing Guru Neil Patel recommends one-word subject lines or anything that resembles a note from a friend.

Think about how you use subject lines and apply them. Don’t use spammy words because they’ll likely end up in spam. Try using emojis (increases open rates 45%) and the word “video” – those are getting high open rates.

Alchemy Worx analyzed 25 billion emails and found the subject lines with the best open rates included jokes, congratulations, the words: you, revision, forecast, snapshot, token, voluntary, deduction and free. Here are some other ideas:

What…?
Do you….
Don’t open this email!
Check out my new ….
Pairs nicely with
As you wish
Day at the beach?
Avoid these people
Where do I get ….
Stop wasting …
How to survive ….
Hey I forgot …
Good news! ….
Are you coming?
Vanilla or Chocolate?
Seriously, what?

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Audiobooks – Now’s the time!

by: Jennifer Lovett

Do you have a book out? Have you turned it into an audiobook yet? Audiobooks are exploding on the market and now is the time for you to jump in. Do it! Just do it!

Why? Because everybody else is doing it!

  • In March 2018, Pew Research reported a seven-point increase in Americans who listen to audiobooks.
  • Another study found drivers admit to listening to podcasts and audiobooks while sitting in traffic.
  • And yet another study found that Harry Potter was the most listened to book on Alexa in 2017.

Use the commute!

People are admitting to listening to ebooks while working out, cleaning the house and taking a walk. Besides the fact that everyone is doing it, providing an audiobook is also an excellent way to exploit the daily commute. Studies show that in the United States today, the typical commute is 24 minutes long. If you live in Denver, that commute tops 45 minutes–Fill that void baby!

Meet Big Daddy ACX

Before you decide whether you want to read it yourself or pay someone, you need to know about Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX). It’s the dragon in the Amazon, Audible and iTunes’ moats. There are other peeps trying to get in on the distro business but for now, you’re stuck with ACX. Go ahead and just accept it and create your account, then upload your book cover, input your product description, list price and distribution options. Then upload your file. Hit publish and market as usual.

Yes, you could go with Overdrive (the library distributor) or Audiobooks.com or even Downpour but then you’ll lose high royalty rates on ACX. This goes into the big debate about being wide or exclusive to Amazon.

Just how techie are you?

ACX has a pretty stringent set of requirements. If you hire someone, they’ll make sure your file has all the correct technical requirements. If you do it yourself, you’re on your own. Because I don’t want to scare you right off the bat, I put them in the DYI section.

BUT BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING, you have to decide how you want to go about producing these things.

To create an audiobook file, you have several options:

  • Record it yourself
  • Partner with a narrator and pay up front
  • Partner with a narrator and pay in royalties
  • Partner with a narrator and pay by the hour

DYI – If you do it yourself, you need to consider a few things. First, it’s easier for nonfiction authors because they don’t have to be in character. Second, are you comfortable reading your work? Do you have any voice or acting training to help with emotion and character differentiation in your reading? Are you comfortable editing audio? Third, just how techie are you?

 If you answered yes and you’re ready to go, this is what you need:

  • Editing software. I recommend Audacity. It’s free and easy to use.
  • A good dynamic microphone. I recommend ATR2100 rather than the Snowball I use for podcasting. It will pick up less extraneous noise.
  • A very quiet space. Recording at your kitchen table isn’t going to cut it. Pad the walls of a small room in your house with egg crates or set up a tent (seriously) and throw a blanket over the top of it. Now, listen for things like the humming of the air conditioning, traffic on the street, or the dripping water at the sink.
  • Decrease noise on the audio file. Before you start recording yourself reading your book, record the “silence” in the room for five to ten seconds. When you’re done recording, highlight that section, go to the Effects menu and click “Noise Removal,” then click “Get Noise Profile” from the drop-down menu. Then select the entire audio on the track and click Noise Removal. Adjust any settings or go with the default, click OK and you’re done. This should help eliminate any ambient noises you may not have noticed while recording. This step is key because Amazon won’t take an audio file that has extraneous noise.
  • Tech specs. Here’s how your files need to be composed:
    • Be comprised of all mono or all stereo files
    • Include opening and closing credits
    • Include a retail sample between one and five minutes long
    • Section titles must be recorded
    • Be a 192 kbps or higher MP3 file
    • Each file must have a running time of 120 minutes or less
    • Measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS and have -3dB peak values

If you’d prefer to use a narrator, ACX has an exchange of narrators and producers. These folks are professionals and will offer you an “audition” reading of your work. Using professionals who are trained to record audiobooks will ensure your book sounds professional and will increase your credibility. It also cuts down on your learning curve.

There are three ways to pay a narrator: pay by the job up front; pay through a percentage of royalties; or pay by the hour. I do not recommend paying by the hour because it can take upwards of 20 hours of reading to get a normal-sized book read for a file. As a totally broke writer, I like the small percentage of royalties but over time, that could screw you. So, the ideal way if you have investment funds is to pay for the job up front. And let’s be real: audiobooks are NOT cheap! They can range anywhere from $1500-$3000. Are you choking? I did when I found out. BUT, if you can figure out a way to get it done, it’s a pretty big bang for your book over time.

Final word on this from a famous-type guy: Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur says, “The audiobook market is growing at a rate of 30% per year, which nearly quadruples the growth rate for eBooks.

Don’t you want in????


Jennifer Lovett

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett