Author—Should you be Using Social Media?

Author—Should you be Using Social Media?

The answer is a simple—Yes—but which social media sites? Come to think of it, what exactly is meant by an author social media website?
Social media is defined as ‘websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.’ That means any site which authors will find useful in getting information, sharing information, displaying their books and marketing. That will include sites such as Facebook but also sites such as Goodreads and forums such as Kboards

Let’s take a look at various author social media sites and see what they have to offer.

Facebook

The largest social networking site in the world and widely used. Using it you can network with ‘friends’ and relatives, and also access various writer’s groups where you can ask questions. You can even market or promote your books by using paid Facebook ads. As of September 2016 Facebook had approximately 1.71 billion active users. It is estimated that more than 1 million small and medium-sized businesses use the platform to advertise their business.
Get as many Facebook friends as possible – interact with them. People you don’t interact with are unlikely to see many of your posts. That’s the way Facebook works – it won’t show you what it thinks you won’t be interested in.
Facebook can be an author’s friend when it comes to making contacts. Create a page for your books and periodically write about your progress. Facebook is the place for announcing your successes.

  • Have you won an award? Use Facebook to tell everyone.
  • Got a new book coming out? Tell everyone about it on Facebook.
  • Got a problem? Ask for advice on Facebook
  • Need to make a decision such as which cover is best? Post the choices on Facebook and ask reader’s opinions
Facebook is NOT the place for posting repeated ‘Buy my book’ adverts. People will quickly de-friend/un-like you.
Facebook adverts work for collecting new readers and subscribers to your email lists. Make an attractive offer and exchange it for an email address. I’ve yet to meet any fiction author who has earned more than their advertising cost when direct selling fiction.

 

Tumblr

Tumblr was created in 2007 and has been owned by Yahoo since 2013, It’s a social media site on which you can post anything, including quote posts, chat posts, video and photo posts as well as audio posts and short blogs. Like Twitter you can re-post the items of others. The big difference is you are not limited to 140 characters. Unlimited text, images, animated gifs, photosets, audio files, videos, and more are possible. It gives you the flexibility to customize almost everything. Tumbler has about 555 million active users.

Pinterest

Pinterest is primarily for images and video. Of course as an author, you will be posting images of your book covers and possibly of images relevant to it. More than half of its visitors are women; could that mean it’s a good site to promote romance? I post the pictures which I use in advertising, especially those using humour. People seem to like those.

Twitter

A site which limits your text to 140 characters to which you can add a URL and image. It has more than 320 million active monthly users who make use of the 140 character limit to pass on information. Authors can use Twitter to interact with readers, answer questions, release latest news and advertise books.  The one thing you must NOT do is to post a constant stream of ‘Buy my book’ posts. You will quickly be unfollowed if you do. Post a mixture of  video, images, how to…, quotes, interest items, and mix in no more than 15% of promotions. Re-tweet interesting posts by others and comment. DON’T follow everyone who follows you—vet them first. Don’t expect miracles; Twitter will have little effect until you have at least 10,000 followers. NEVER buy followers—these are useless. Learn how to create the perfect Twitter profile.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the most popular social media site for professional networking and has over 400 million registered users. LinkedIn is great for people looking to connect with other authors and people in the publishing industry. You’ll frequently be bugged with job offers though. This is a great place for support groups and works for non-fiction authors.
 

Google+

Great for articles and short posts. For authors Its SEO value alone makes it a must-use tool. It had 418 active million users as of December 2015. Blogs using Blogspot will be added to Google+ accounts and it’s a great place to announce Google Play books.

YouTube

YouTube is the largest and most popular video-based social media website. It is owned by Google and as such has great SEO value. YouTube has over 1 billion website visitors per month and is the second most popular search engine behind Google. Every author should produce a short video introducing their book and link from it to their website. Consider using MS Powerpoint to do this.
YouTube videos get a high priority at Facebook which likes video.

Instagram

Instagram is a visual social media platform. It has more than 400 million active users and is owned by Facebook. Many of its users use it to post information about travel, fashion, food, art and, of course, books. Almost 95 percent of Instagram users also use Facebook.

Users can submit content such as direct links and text posts. Users can vote submissions up or down. Submissions with the most positive votes appear in the top category or main page. Reddit had more than 36 million registered accounts and 231 million monthly visitors.

BuzzFeed

At first glance this seems an annoying clickbait site using compelling headlines to attract readers, but look at this post – ‘Students Were Forced to Write BuzzFeed Click-bait For Grades. What Happened Next Will Rock Your World!
Think author’s can’t make use of this?

Quora

A site reminding me of the old Yahoo Answers. It’s a place where you can ask questions and provide answers. It’s proving very popular and seems a place where you can get information and provide answers. NOT a place to promote but you can link to blogs and of course you have control of what appears at the side of blogs. If you fit Isaac Asimov’s statement “Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do,” then you’ll do well at Quora. Find me there.

StumbleUpon

Stumble upon is a place where you can discover new pages to post on Twitter and other social media sites. You can vote pages up or down and you can discover pages and add them to StumbleUpon. Of course you can Stumble your own blog posts can’t you?

Kindle Unlimited – Good news or bad news?

Kindle Unlimited – Good news or bad news?

A little while ago Amazon did something dreadful. They started a program called ‘Kindle Unlimited’. 


It’s not a bad deal for readers – at least not at the moment, because for $9.99 a month (£7.99 in the UK) they can read any of the 700,000 books available in Kindle Select. Plus there are free audiobooks to listen to, and about 500 public domain books available.  No more to pay in that month. If you are a prolific or even a little better than average reader (4 books a month), that could save you money. There is one downside – books downloaded  through Kindle Unlimited will be deleted if you cease to be a member.

For authors, Kindle Unlimited has it’s good and bad points. 

Good:

  • The author gets paid if 10% of a book is read. For a standard 80,000 word novel that’s about 32 pages
  • For each book where 10% is read you get a share of the fund allotted. The last time I checked that was $1.40 but it varies. 
  • Your book has to be in ‘Kindle Select’ which seems to be higher ranked than those books not in ‘Select’

Bad:

  • If you sell your book for $2.99 and it’s an average 80,000 word book You’ll get that $1.40 instead of your normal $2.01 royalty. Of course it’s always possible that this would be an extra sale but in practice many people have seen a reduction in their royalties.
  • If you write longer books at a higher price they will still pay $1.40 and you won’t get paid on download.
  • An average reader, reading 30 minutes per day at 200 words per minute will take 1.33 days of reading before you get a payment.
  • Some books will be downloaded but not read for months – if at all. In that time you earn nothing. If they stop subscribing to Kindle Unlimited – you won’t get a payment for that book.
  • If you decide you don’t want your book in Kindle Unlimited you must leave ‘Kindle Select.’ You will still continue to earn Kindle Unlimited payments for books already downloaded though.
  • Kindle Unlimited is only really attractive to prolific readers -According to some sources that’s 3% of the population.
  • E-books produced by the conventional print publishers won’t be available. Just those exclusive to Kindle Select. If you want the latest Dan Brown novel – you’ll still have to buy it separately.

The upshot of this is Amazon Select and Kindle Unlimited are terrible programs for authors. You’ll earn far less in royalties. But there is a way for an author to make money from Kindle Unlimited!

  • Write lots of very short books 2,000 -10,000 word stories and put them in Kindle Select.
  • If you sell your book for $0.99 you will get $1.40 for each Kindle Unlimited download and 10% read rather than $0.35 from a ‘normal’ sale. See here for the details of royalties paid.
  • If you sell a 12 page book for $0.99 you get that $1.40 if they read the first page!
  • Promote them as being free on Kindle Unlimited.
  • Since these ‘books’ are in Kindle Select you can make them free for up to five days each 90 day period. Offer a two day promotion and up to three one day promotions in the following months to keep sales rank high. I currently have three short stories available and make them free in turn, one Sunday a month.

You don’t need to spend a great deal of time on these short stories but you will need a good cover and enticing description. Use a pen name if you wish not to be associated with these shorts.
Sit back and ‘rake in the money’ secure in the knowledge that readers and Amazon will eventually realise that Select/Kindle Unlimited now only offers short stories and ditch the Kindle Select/Unlimited program.

Well I’m trying it but have yet to see any results.


Have you taken out a Kindle Unlimited subscription? So far I’ve come across only one person who has.


Want to try my short stories?

The first is free on the 1st Sunday of each month – http://smarturl.it/iwadasn
The second is free on 2nd Sunday of each month – http://smarturl.it/iwadasn2

The third is free on 3rd Sunday of each month – http://smarturl.it/iwadasn3

All Change

As of 1st July 2015 Amazon will be changing the rules so that authors of longer works will be paid at a higher rate. In their example quoted in their email today (15th June 2015) they state:
As with our current approach, we’ll continue to offer a global fund for each month. Under this new model, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read rather than their share of total qualified borrows. Here are a few examples illustrating how the fund will be paid out. For simplicity, assume the fund is $10M and that 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month: 

The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).   

The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

We will similarly change the way we pay KDP Select All-Star bonuses which will be awarded to authors and titles based on total KU and KOLL pages read.

This effectively rolls back the clock to before KU and it will no longer pay to write very short stories for KU. Full details at https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A156OS90J7RDN

Well that’s effectively killing the goose which laid the golden egg so that just leaves KU as a very bad idea.


Have you pinned a tweet to your Twitter profile?

I’m grateful to those people who re-tweet my tweets. I like to respond in kind but many ‘tweeps’ make this difficult. I’d often scroll through many pages of their Twitter profile before I find something of theirs to re-tweet. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had a tweet at the top of their profile which they would like re-tweeting?
Twitter obviously thinks that and has made it easy for us to do this if you are using a browser based version of Twitter  – not an app on a mobile device.

Using Twitter on a Desktop/Laptop

The tweep needs to set up an embedded tweet. All authors should do that as a matter of priority. Here’s how to do that.

    1. Go to your Twitter Profile. If you are using your PC click your profile icon at the top right of your Twitter screen to view your recent tweets.

 

  1. In your Twitter profile find the tweet you wish to embed and click the ellipsis icon under it. From the menu select ‘Embed tweet’. It’s as simple as that.

    Your tweet is now pinned to the top of your profile. Anyone viewing it using a browser will see it first and find something to re-tweet. Change it often to keep it fresh.

Unfortunately the mobile version of Twitter doesn’t show embedded tweets or allow you to set them up – yet. Something we should request @Twitter to implement in the app?

. @Twitter Please implement ’embedded tweets’ in the mobile version of Twitter.
— John Chapman (@JChapmanAuthor) February 26, 2015

How to save a life with a comma – “Let’s eat Grandma” or “Let’s eat, Grandma”

When you are writing, your word processor highlights and often auto-corrects many of your mistakes. As a second line of defense/defence, (US/UK English is worth a whole new blog,) many authors use a grammar checking service such as grammarly.com, ginger or hemingwayapp.com. You can also purchase programs such as Whitesmoke to run a check on your work. The question is how good are these? Here’s a sample of text you can copy and paste into the grammar checking program to find out. 

This is a text document designed to test the capabilities of grammar checking programs of which there are a multitude of different versions available as both plugins for MS Word and as web applications to be used by pasting the text into a web page so that you can check the grammar of your documents and find examples for things like passive phrase use and run-on-sentences.
Their ahh off cause many words witch can bee ewes wrongly. Does the grammar checker draw attention to this? 
What about typos? Doed hte gramar cheker cop welll width then? Word spelling and grammar checker auto-corrects every word in the last sentance and fixes the ‘a’ in ‘sentance.’
Do yous no that you can use ewes  but ‘yous’  isnt a propar wurd. I

What about how it will coped with sentences was the wrong tense? Does the grammar checker spotted these?
Does your grammar grammar checker spot repeated words or phrases spot repeated words or phrases?
What about punctuation. That was a question. If; for example, a semicolon is used instread of a comma. does it draw attention, to non-capitalization and comma,s in the wrong place? Should it detect the Oxford comma and the none use of it? What about it’s ability to correct ‘its’ and “should punctuation fit inside or outside parenthesis”?
Underground would you find a led mime?
On a beech would you find a see shell?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. Does it detect plagiarism?

Of course I’ve only touched the surface with this text. I invite you to add your own grammar and spelling mistakes in the comments below. Those ‘liked’ the most will be added to the text above.


If this post has helped or entertained, will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our book ‘Immortality Gene’ from http://smarturl.it/avi
Even if you never read it (but we hope you will) – it will help our rankings.
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Using SmartURL to promote your book

It’s a pain to have to change an Amazon URL to make it work in a different country. Several link shortening services offer a single link which will take the user to Amazon’s site in their country. SmartURL seems the pick of the bunch for authors.

Advantages

  • A single, easy-to-remember link to your book at Amazon which works in all countries.
  • Earn an extra 9% from Amazon by adding affiliate codes.
  • Add keywords which raise your book’s popularity rankings
  • Change the link easily, for example if your free book is taken out of ‘price matched’ in one country you can direct readers to a site where they can get it free.
  • Experiment with different keywords – even having different keywords for each country.
  • Works with iTunes and others too!
  • Track clicks on your links.
  • You can even get a QL code.

How this works. 

Smarturl.it is a link shortening service which is very effective for producing a single link which takes the reader directly to the Amazon site in their country. It allows authors to add affiliate links and keywords to the link. You can also request a particular, easy to remember link.

What you’ll need

1. A smarturl account – it’s free get it at http://smarturl.it
2. Amazon affiliate accounts in at least the US, UK and Canada. You can sign up for more if you wish. To get those you’ll need to have a website or blog with enough traffic to make it attractive to Amazon. Don’t worry if they don’t accept you as an affiliate yet but you’ll miss out on the extra 9% offered in affiliate payments.
3. Some spare time to research effective keywords at Amazon. For how to do this – spend some money and buy ‘Make A Killing On Kindle (Without Blogging, Facebook Or Twitter). The Guerilla Marketer’s Guide To Selling Ebooks On Amazon’ by
Michael Alvear http://smarturl.it/mak Let me warn you though – although you can learn valuable stuff from this book, I don’t agree with Michael that we are wasting our time promoting using social media. Getting the keywords right will help your book sales but it’s more effective if you use social media as well.

Ready? Here’s how to do it.

Let me show you how I made the link to the book I just told you about.

  1. Go to smarturl.it and log on. Click the ‘create smartURL’ link, (in the black bar)
  2. In a different tab go amazon.com and find the book or product you want to link to. I suggest you enter the book ASIN and the keywords you want to use in Amazon’s search box. Don’t forget to add the author name as keywords too.

I’m going to use Michael Alear’s book mentioned above as an example; it’s ASIN is B007XVWEIU – I used the following keywords in the search box

B007XVWEIU Make a killing on Kindle Michael Alvear marketing Kindle keywords selling books e-books on Amazon

Notice I didn’t use any commas to separate them.

  1. On the results page click the link to Michael’s book. Your search parameters will follow you and you’ll get the URL
    http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Blogging-Facebook-Guerilla-Marketers-ebook/dp/B007XVWEIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395149205&sr=8-1&keywords=B007XVWEIU+Make+a+killing+on+Kindle+Michael+Alvear+marketing+Kindle+keywords+selling+books+selling+e-books+on+Amazon
  2. Copy the URL from your browser and paste it into a text editor (not MS Word – use Edit or a text editor you like such as EditPlus)
    You could probably edit out keywords such as ‘a’ and ‘on’ but it isn’t worth the bother.
  3. If the book is NOT free then, to this URL, add your affiliate tag for Amazon.com I usually bury it somewhere inside it just before ‘&keywords’ Mine would now read:
    http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Blogging-Facebook-Guerilla-Marketers-ebook/dp/B007XVWEIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395149205&sr=8-1&tag=jaydax08&keywords=B007XVWEIU+Make+a+killing+on+Kindle+Michael+Alvear+marketing+Kindle+keywords+selling+books+selling+e-books+on+Amazon
    Remember – only add an affiliate tag to books which are NOT free. Amazon don’t like you using tags for free products and may penalise you.
  4. Now look in the URL for a part starting &qid= followed by a number. Delete that entire section! In my example it will now read:
    http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Blogging-Facebook-Guerilla-Marketers-ebook/dp/B007XVWEIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&sr=8-1&tag=jaydax08&keywords=B007XVWEIU+Make+a+killing+on+Kindle+Michael+Alvear+marketing+Kindle+keywords+selling+books+selling+e-books+on+Amazon
  5. Now copy the link and paste it into the Default URL box in your smartURL tab
  6. Now you need to get the URL for Amazon UK and Amazon Canada and add affiliate tags if you have them. You can either go through the whole process again or just modify the amazon.com link in your text editor. I find it’s easier to modify the link since all you have to do is change ‘.com’ to ‘.co.uk’ for the UK and ‘.ca’ for Canada. You’ll need to change the affiliate tags too.
  7. Once you have the URLs enter them in the section ‘Country Destinations’. You’ll need the country code for the ‘Country’ box. For the UK it’s GB and for Canada it’s CA Click the + to add more alternative countries. If you don’t know the code just type in the name of the country. Add as many as you like/have affiliate codes for. Any you don’t add will be added automatically  from your default URL by smartURL but they’ll use their own affiliate codes – this is how they make the money to run the site.
  8. Now add a custom alias to the link. I add a three letter one. In the case of the book above I used ‘mak’ (from Make a Killing…). Not all of these are available so if someone already has that – try another. Don’t forget the URLs are case sensitive so ‘mak’ is different to MAK, MaK and Mak.
  9. Add a description of the link if you wish. This helps you remember what it is when you come back to it.
    It’s also possible to enter someone’s email address which allows them to change the links. (If Michael Alvear reads this I’ll be happy to add his email address if he sends me it – he could probably come up with better keywords)
  10. Once you are happy with everything click ‘Save’ and start using your new link.

What’s that bit about tracking clicks?

Above is an image of the control panel you get if you click the ‘my smartURLs’ link. At the right you’ll see a mini pi chart. Click one of those and you’ll get:
So that tells me: 
  • that the book was more interesting to Russian visitors than to the UK
  •  I need to check rebelmouse.com
  • just eleven clicks happened at Twitter and Facebook – that’s 4.5% – maybe Michael is right after all? What do you think?
  • What went wrong on Wednesday 5th March  and Thursday 13th March?

Do you know of a similar free service which offers more? I don’t. The only downside I find in using it is that like all link shorteners it can be abused and sometimes gets an orange circle from Web of Trust.


If this post has proved useful to you would you do me a favour in return? Download a FREE copy of the book I co-author – a romantic technothriller called ‘Immortality Gene’. Even if you don’t read it it will help our ratings. You can get it at http://smarturl.it/avi and if you want to read it, you can use a phone, a tablet, a computer or even a Kindle.


Follow @JChapmanAuthor

Editing your book

It’s essential that a book you want to promote is free from the sort of errors an editor would pick out. A book full of typos and grammar errors is an excellent way to ruin your reputation as an author. Line editing services seem expensive to a new author; however, so many will attempt this job themselves. The following is an extract from my book ‘An Illustrated Guide to Getting Published.’


Assuming you produced your manuscript with Microsoft Word, you already should have used Word’s spelling and grammar checker. You might think this step has been covered – right?
Wrong! It’ll probably still be full of mistakes. Here are the steps my wife and I go through before we send a file to a publisher.

  1. Read the book through. Either print it out and read the printed copy, or send the file to an e-book reader and read it that way. (More on this later.) Reading it on your word processor isn’t the best solution. After all – any mistakes were made on that. Make corrections on a copy of the document and save it with a different filename so you can revert to an earlier version if necessary. Keep a backup of your book on something else such as a USB memory stick. Trust me, sooner or later, you will have a computer disaster. You don’t want to lose your hard work. If you’re paranoid keep a copy in a different building or ‘in the cloud’.
  2. Are you sure you used the right word? If you are in any doubt – check it again unless you want to look foolish in print
    Bear-faced or bare-faced?

  3. Watch out for:
    • Unnecessary words? “She gave a loud shriek.” Quiet shriek anyone? 
    • Characters appearing without explanation
    • Minor characters who are named but take no further part in the plot
    • Crossing time zones without time being affected
    • Chronoclasms in historical novels – President Lincoln looked at his wristwatch (not used by men until the early 1900s)
    • Bits of the story that drag because of detailed descriptions
  4. Put the text through a grammar checking program. We use two:
     Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check). It’s a subscription service.
    Ginger (www.gingersoftware.com). Needs a slightly more powerful computer. Also a subscription service.

  5. Both Grammarly and Ginger will find mistakes, which you didn’t spot. Not all of these  ‘mistakes’ will be errors just as the grammar checker in Word also  finds false errors. I find it’s best to put no more than one chapter at a time through it.

    Grammarly allows you to set your writing style.
    Ginger is better at punctuation.

  1. Get a text to speech program to read the book aloud while you follow along. We use ‘Text Aloud’ which has a plugin for Microsoft Word, but there are lots of other programs including some free options. This step is essential since when reading it yourself, you read what you expect the document to say rather than what is actually there. Addition 2014 – the text to speech option of Word 2013 is very good now and even better on Windows 8.1.
  2. Get a proofreader to read the document. You can use a professional proofreader or a friend or do a swap with another indie author. Consider using a proof reader on the other side of the ocean at this stage to find those words and expressions which don’t quite have the same meaning.
    e.g. Midgie – midget or small candy in the US.
    Midgie – small biting fly, especially in Scotland.

Sending a file to the Kindle Touch/Fire/Keyboard

If you have an e-book reader such as the Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire or Kindle Keyboard it will do a fairly good job of reading the text to you. The basic Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite do not offer this feature.
At this stage, it’s enough to send the file as a .doc or .docx file attachment to your Kindle e-mail address. Use File > ‘Save and send’. Enter the email address provided with your Kindle. If you don’t know it you can find it from the Home screen menu > Settings > Send to Kindle email (You might have to go to a second screen). A subject isn’t important, but give it the document title + ‘draft’. Once you’ve sent the email it might take a few minutes to show up on your Kindle. Consult your Kindle guide for how to have the document read to you. Expect it to make some terrible pronunciation mistakes though. It will be enough, however, to draw your attention to errors.

Sending a file to another Android device e.g. Nexus 7

Although there is a Kindle reader available for these devices, it does not offer ‘Text to Speech.’ To get round that use an e-reader which offers to read the text to you. One such e-reader is Moon+ Reader Pro which is available from the Google Play Store for £3.10 ($4.99). This reader accepts DRM free .epub files. That means you will have to convert your Word file into an .epub file first. I use Calibre to do this.

  1. Save the Word document as a .doc or .docx file
  2. Open Calibre and use its ‘Add books’ icon to add the .doc or .docx file
  3. Use the ‘Convert books’ icon to convert the file to an epub format – this is probably the default format. You don’t need to add a cover or meta data unless you want to at this stage.
  4. Use the ‘Connect/share’ button in Calibre to start the content server. Clicking the dropdown allows you to find the ip address of the server – enter it in Moon + Reader Pro (Menu > Net Library > Calibre Library > Local Calibre)
  5. Attach your Android reading device and download the e-book you just created from the Calibre Library.

Think you’ve got your book ‘perfect’?

The Wicked Bible mistake

Even after going through this process you are still likely to have made or overlooked errors. Professionally printed books contain them. Take consolation in the fact that errors can be corrected in a print-on-demand book or e-book far easier than in a conventionally published book.
You are also unlikely to suffer the fate of the printer who accidentally missed out a crucial ‘not’, producing the ‘wicked bible’. As a result, he was heavily fined and lost his licence to print.

Save the final document

When you’re satisfied with your document, save it again as your master copy. You are now ready for the next step – formatting.

If this post has helped, will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our book ‘Immortality Gene’ from http://smarturl.it/avi
Even if you never read it (but we hope you will) – it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Blogging to promote your book

What sort of blog post should an author make?

John Locke in his book How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! suggested that the best method an author could use to use blogging to promote a book was not to write about the book itself but to produce a blog post designed to go viral and which contains subtle links which encourage the reader to find out about your book. Although John is in ‘author disgrace’ over the paid for review issue, he’s spot on with his approach to blogging.

John Locke’s famous blog post

John wrote a post Why I Love Joe Paterno and my Mom! in which he blogged about how his mother encouraged him to find a role model, his choice being Joe Paterno, a longtime football coach at Penn State. The blog makes only a minor reference to John being an author but is hosted on his website where his audience can read more about his work. John promoted the blog by sending the link to it to Penn State University related bulletin boards, blogs and people tweeting about PSU. It quickly went viral, being read not just by football fans. Part of its attraction was his choice of title – we may not all know Joe Paterno but we all have a mother. The post was made before the Penn State scandal became an issue.
John doesn’t post often. Each blog is very carefully planned and aims to tug at the heartstrings. He did it again with a post ‘Fathers and Daughters‘ in August 2012.

My attempt at a John Locke style post

I had a go at writing a John Locke type blog post myself. Here’s what I came up with:


Bio-terrorism and the cure for the common cold

Sooner or later someone will use a bioterrorism technique to release a pandemic which actually helps people! It could be that the common cold is it’s first target.

How to catch a cold

Everyone knows how easy it is to catch a cold but there are some things about the process that aren’t common knowledge. Let’s try an experiment. While you read this don’t touch your eyes!

Imagine someone with a cold gets in a lift. They sneeze and a fine mist of spray spreads everywhere. It quickly settles though. They get to their floor and exit the lift. You call the lift from two floors down and the first thing you do when you get in is to press the button to select your floor. A button covered by a fine spray of cold virus.

So now you have the cold virus on your finger. Not a big problem, it’s unlikely to get through the skin on your finger. Of course you could infect yourself with a cold by now eating something.

Touched or want to touch your eyes yet?

As you’ve probably found out by now, we touch our eyes all the time and as soon as you do, that  virus finds a warm, moist very thin membrane and promptly infects you. Ever noticed how a cold can make your eyes sore?

Deliberately spreading contagion

Now imagine a terrorist intent on using biological warfare. A good way to spread contagion would be to spread their substance on anything which people frequently touch. Lift buttons, push plates on doors, door handles, shopping cart handles, magazines in a shop,  newspapers and books in a library. Money! Forget the idea of sending letters. There are a huge number of ways of spreading any virus using things we touch.

Why there’s no cure or vaccine

Now imagine a genetic researcher who has made a fantastic discovery. He/she has come up with a genetic fix which will forever stop people from catching the common cold.

Would you buy it assuming it’s 100% safe and costs little? Of course you would!

So if this had been produced do you think you would get the opportunity? Frankly you would have as much chance as a celluloid cat being chased by an asbestos dog through the fires of Hell!

“Why?” I hear you ask. “If it was safe why wouldn’t it be available?”

The answer is simple. The people who would be marketing this are the very people who make a fortune  every year by selling cold remedies. Are they ever going to willingly give up those billions of dollars of regular income?

That’s why there are really no serious research projects into curing or preventing the common cold. None of the so called remedies actually cure a cold. If you buy them you might, if you are lucky, get some slight relief from the symptoms …and you can get that effect with a simple home remedy. Here’s the recipe:

A home remedy

In a tall glass:

  • add 2 fingers depth whiskey (cheap stuff)
  • add 2 fingers depth honey
  • add 2 fingers depth lemon juice
  • Fill the glass with hot water, stir well and drink.
  • Go to bed with a good book and relax or sleep it off.

If you find your symptoms are not better after an hour or so repeat.

Now I know what some of you are going to say. “I don’t like whiskey,” but believe me – this tastes nothing like it. It tastes good, relieves a sore throat, relieves congestion and after three of them you won’t care about the cold!

OK – free advice over; now let’s consider something else.

What bio-terrorism has to do with a cure

During the course of researching our ‘A Vested Interest’ books I had occasion to investigate gene therapy. It is possible to alter a virus so that it inserts the genes which prevent a cold. Imagine a genetic researcher has produced that cold cure. It really works and he knows it’s safe. But he/she can’t market it for the reasons explained above. He/she can’t announce it either without putting their life at risk. There’s a multi-billion dollar industry at stake here remember?

The researcher knows the people of the world want the cure though. Does that researcher have the right to deny them it? Should they risk the wrath of the drug companies to make it available?

I think you’ll find that the researcher would adopt the bio-terrorist tactics to release his/her product.

Sooner or later some well meaning person will do this!


So how did my post do?

Well I followed the John Locke formula and wrote a post which replaced the common to all factor of ‘Mum’ with ‘Cold’ – something we’ve all gone through the misery of. Like John I made a subtle reference to being an author and didn’t over emphasise ‘the book’. I used a buzzword ‘Bio-terrorism’ instead of ‘Joe Paterno’ which played on media fear factor rather than hero worship. I even got some well known authors, including John Locke, adding comments – which I responded to. You can see the original post and comments here. My post didn’t go viral however. John Locke’s Joe Paterno post had 100s of comments and mine had 10. Where I failed was in promoting the blog.

  • I failed to seek out people posting about having a cold or bio-terrorism 
  • I failed to use Twitter effectively. At the time John made his post he had 1000s of Twitter followers whereas I, was new to Twitter, had only 200 followers and didn’t know about hashtags or searching Twitter.
  • I didn’t know about Triberr either and wasted the opportunity to have it promoted there.
  • My blog was hosted at blogspot rather than at my own domain and in the original post I didn’t have links to my site.

My post was better than John’s!

In three areas my blog post was better than John’s. 

  1. I included a graphic. People like pictures – they are attention grabbers. Use relevant pictures!
  2. I used lots of sub-headings. Subheadings allow the reader to quickly skim an article to see if it’s what they are really interested in without having to read the whole thing.
  3. I used the Associated Press style of writing in that I started with a quick synopsis and then went into more detail section by section.

What you as an author should do

  1. Write about a blog subject which you know well and which you feel others should know about.
  2. Don’t write ‘Buy my book’ blog posts. Reading those is as popular as sitting down to watch just the adverts on TV.
  3. Include subtle references to your author craft and books. Give the reader the opportunity to find out more if they wish.
  4. Use pictures and break your blog down with subheadings.
  5. Unless you have a massive blog following already, you are probably wasting your time if you don’t have a good understanding of how to use Twitter and Triberr to promote your posts. 
  6. Seek out those who have blogged, discussed and tweeted about similar subjects and make them aware of the link to your post. Don’t be afraid of posting to other authors. Authors are usually prolific readers – I read 64 books last year just on my Kindle.
  7. Your aim is for the post to go viral! If it does people will want more and, the more they see your name, the more likely they are to buy your books.
  8. Add a ‘Call to action’ at the end of your post and make it a prominent feature. Here’s an example:
    If this post has helped or entertained, will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our book ‘Immortality Gene’ from http://smarturl.it/avi
    Even if you never read it (but we hope you will) – it will help our rankings.
    Look - a FREE e-book

Have I missed anything?

Yes I have #9. Finish with a question which invites comments.

Feel free to comment – If you know of any other technique to promote your book through blogging which I haven’t included, please feel free to add it..