I have stressed the importance of author landing pages, but I can't help you understand the importance of one if you don't know what an author landing page is, so I'm here to explain.
In the marketing world there is a term called a "Landing Page". I will explain what a landing page is by this:
Have you ever seen a facebook ad that caught your eye--admit it, you clicked on the cute bark box ad--and were routed to another screen that popped up? You laughed at the antics of cuddly puppy picture and then you clicked on the ad. That ad brought you to a landing page! While you were on the landing page you scrolled down a bit and saw a BIG arrow or flashing lights telling you to...subscribe!! Go ahead, click the button--see the landing page...
You laughed so hard or were entertained so much that you said, "Sure!! I'll join! What other funny stuff do you have?"
You just gave that site your well earned, cold hard-email. As a marketer I understand that you're email is worth about $1 of my marketing budget.
Marketers cherish your email, they pet it and name it George, and then--they send you stuff! You may like it, you may not like it and unsubscribe and that's okay!! Because they'd rather spend their money on true fans. True fans will buy everything they have to offer...
You get this part, you understand it because you've been the one giving your email. Now it's time to be on the email-getting side.
That page that had the "Freebie" here or "Sign-up for more laughs" was not the only page on their website. That's right you clicked on the ad and...landed on their landing page. The page that does 3 things:
1. Sets expectations. Meaning it tells you what you get (now and in the future) for signing up.
2. Gives you purpose as to why you should sign up.
3. Has a signup form. Or in other terms...gives you a place to enter in your email (if not your name too).
When someone fills out the form on my site, the name and email goes straight to mailchimp--no fuss for me and you get your free book immediately!! No waiting for the time-pressed author/publisher to get you your PDF. You also get emails from me letting you know about the things going on!!
Some may disagree, but building an email list is part of building fans. Fans want to know what you're up to. They want to read about their authors. Most my authors understand about having an email list. They think, but I put a form on my blog...I put a form on my home page, I put a form on my...
Yes, but do you have a page on your website dedicated to the WHY and WHAT a reader gets for signing up? They will see your form, but they may not realize what they get for giving their dollar to you. Imaging your fan thinking, if I give this man a dollar will he then follow me around--like Google?
So, if you're still scratching your head about what an author landing page is...it is a way to knock out all the distractions and say, this is what I want, this is what you get. Look at Gail Mencini's landing page HERE. It's a good one! Clean, fresh, explains what the book is about, what you get and what you have to do to get the six chapter sample. You're landing page is the new business card. If you want to do business, set out your business card on your online business and let people take your business card with them.
You're trying to get fans, and readers want to know they'll like you before they buy. (Yes, they are buying you--not your book).
If you attach the ad to a book on amazon...it doesn't mean that person is going to buy the book. In fact, no one is going to buy your book if you think your landing page is your amazon link.
Just because they clicked your link on the witty twitter message or facebook ad doesn't mean they are going to invest any money or even time to read your book. It means you hooked them and you better damn well let them know what the hell is going on. An explanation like "Hi! Thank you for coming, I'm going to knock you're socks off for reading this book that I'm going to give you for FREE!"
ACTION ITEM: Create a landing page so that when you put a link on your tweet or Facebook post you're not just sending them to buy your book. Send them to your website so they can decide for themselves if they want to take the time to read you!
Publishing Platform: Bablecube
I've been searching for book translation companies and I finally settled on Bablecube. So far we've put up 3 books and we've gotten translators within the week signing up to translate "Forever and 365 Days" in Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Italian so far.
Offers come in, we review them and sign the contract. From what I understand the publisher gets 30%, the translator gets 50% and Babelcube gets 20% of the royalties. So it's free to start for the most part but I need to provide the manuscript (of course), and the covers for both Amazon standard ebook and CreateSpace dimensions for print.
There customer service responds within 24 hours. If you're looking for your books to be translated but don't have the money for translators and don't know where to put the books up afterward, I think Bablecube is a company to check out! <-- that would be an ACTION ITEM.
Publisher Fail: Blog Bashing
Apparently, I've been blog bashing. I didn't mean to bash, I didn't think I was bashing. But apparently, my big mouth...or rather my big keyboard, did not portray a company in the light they deserve.
Let's return back at the middle of April to Tuesday Tools: YouHeartBooks. I explained why I was resistant to try a new platform because of past experiences I've had--not with experiences I've had with YouHeartBooks, but with other sites.
So I'd like to amend, for the record, that I was not trying to portray YouHeartBooks.com as a bad company. I am however, going to try their service because of Daniel's response to my blog! YouHeartBooks deserves that because I realize, like the Chihuahua, I was rude and didn't think about the implied meaning.
My thoughtless act made me take a look at the post again and once I went over it, I realized people might associate horrible things with a company I haven't even done business with. Despite the "Troll" in "Troll River Publications" it's not my intention to BE one. Thankfully, Daniel knows that and we're all good now.
ACTION ITEM: Sign up to YouHeartBooks.com and go HERE and see Daniel's powerful defense of his wonderful company in reply to my post. Also, please realize that I had no intention of placing the bad connotations to his company. Once he presented his case, I feel confident in his company and plan to try them out!
One of my writers asked me the following about the edits for her manuscript:
I love the edits suggested for HS (working title). I think many/most of the suggestions for HW (working title) are good also, but there are some minor things that concern me.
The editor has added a few 'that' s, 'to be's , and 'was's to the manuscript. Words I've been told to avoid unless necessary. I'm reading from various sources that writers and publishers are becoming especially disenchanted with 'that'. How do you feel about it?
My answer to this specific author:
I totally understand that your first novel you want it to be perfect! I would look at the edits closely and decide if the word "that" if taken out, would be confusing. Really what editors mean is if you have one of those words "that", "to be" and "was" are within the sentence you should rewrite the sentence so they are constructed without those words. Make sense?
However, there are times when those words are necessary. This is the writing curve and you will get better when you do your second drafts. My first drafts are still crap and horrible. Do you know how many times I used "really" and "just" in Dr. Vampyre? I was embarrassed. 102 times in a 37,000 word novella -- enough to make a reader throw the book across the room. I'm now down to 4 "just" and 7 "really" -- I found them necessary.
So...you do have to decide how many of "those" words you want. You are not going to be able to toss the important connectors: He green, doesn't sound the same as: He was green. Connectors convey important things. He green-- He was green? He will be green? What tense are we talking? Help me out!
ACTION ITEM: Check out your latest and count how many times you use "was", "that", and "to be".
I get an "A" for effort and and a "D" for execution. Even when I do all my homework, research the editor, have the manuscript edited several times--like five to seven times (and I mean by different people)--I still have epic failures. What I mean by failures is something not life threatening.
Even after the book was gone through me, checked by the author, professionally edited, sent to beta-readers and reviewers, and then published my poor author called me in a panic saying a friend of hers caught TONS of errors while reading her book for review. Now, the thing to remember is:
1. Nobody died because your book has errors.
2. An error free book is so rare, there can't be more than 10 perfect books in the world in every language combined. Some of them probably burned along with Alexandria.
3. All of the other people did not care or say or think it necessary to report the errors because they enjoyed the book that much.
Does this mean I pitch copy editors and line editors to the side and say "Oh well!"--not going to happen. I will fix it. If the errors are more than 10% I will have a different editor go through the book again and republish it. If the errors are less than 10% then I will fix what we know, re-upload the book and move on.
There comes a point where perfection vs. time investment is unbalanced and not worth your thought. I have uploaded a book several times over the course of readers complaining about this "one thing" and am happy to do it, especially when a fan writes and points out a typo; even when it's only a missing period. I don't mind and that's the beauty of ebooks. It's worth the fix, but not the heart attack.
ACTION ITEM: Writers, please know that to err is human, but to not freak about errors in the manuscript, even big ones after publication, is Divine!
As a publisher, I get queries even though I say I don't accept queries. Truth be told...if you have the balls to write me through my website and ask about publication, I listen. I read those submissions. Because my warnings ward off the non-serious.
I have answered every query given to me and I've asked for submissions too. The amount of writers that drop off communication after I say, "please send me a sample" confounds me. It's like all I have to say is "yes" and then writers scamper everywhere, fleeing the first step to success.
Can someone please tell me why?
If you ask, you shall be answered. But if the goal is to write and then grumble about how publishers don't read email or how publishers just don't get your writing, then don't come here. I do read email and I do publish works I believe in.
You have doubts, I get it. You doubt you're good enough to send your work. You're afraid I'm going to read your work and then red-line it. I know, you're a insecure lot. Sometimes, your manuscript needs work and as much as my encouragement goes unnoticed, you'll probably never hear me say "No". You'll hear me say, "This needs work before publication". But everyone sees that as a no.
Or maybe it's the fact that I advocate self-publishing. I often turn people to it--but I have yet to receive a letter pertaining to a "Thank you Stephanie, I went self-pub and love it! You were right! Self-pub is the way!!" If I had, I wouldn't be wondering why I don't get a response from writers who have the bravado to contact me, but sputter at sending me their work so we can get started in a working relationship.
However, I am a good test to your fortitude. You'll find out a lot about yourself when the agent or publisher says "yes". It's a bit scary but only the brave continue forward. That's a good thing for the rest of the writers who are willing to put themselves out there. Like my warning of not taking queries, it weeds out the less determined.
ACTION ITEM: Take a breath, summon your courage, send me an email and follow the **** up. Send me your MS--you have my email. Use me as a test run to build your courage--because I'm here for you--even if you're not on my author payroll.
Publishing Platform: YouHeartBooks
I've recently been pointed to a new publishing platform called YouHeartBooks.
For those who want to be on every platform available known to the internet, here's another! However, I've decided that being on every platform doesn't serve the best investment of my time. I've uploaded books to several different places and while being available on Amazon, Kobo, B&N, and Smashwords with their premium distribution is really good enough for me. I already have a crazy time with accounting. While I want to support readers in where they want their books, I have to weigh risk over investment.
What risk are you talking about Stephanie? You just upload your book once and then reap the payment.
Well, I'll tell you.
1. Pirating: I've found the books I've put on these small sites in the hands of, well, pirates. I'm glad I test these small sites with my own books because I'd have to fight to get those taken down for my authors. Luckily I can shrug, learn, and write the next book. If that happened to one of my authors, I'd be dealing with angry piranha because their books are on the "black market"--which for me is just marketing...and speaking of marketing...
2. Marketing: Usually, I have to drive the marketing effort to these sites i upload to. They don't have the budget or the expertise to drive traffic to their own site much less my book. They are probably thinking that one of these authors on their site will become a Hugh Howie and everyone will buy the book from their tiny site. It happens, but it's a bit backwards thinking. Tell me if I'm wrong... I've thought about the "If that happens, the site will become famous because that authors on their site." No, everyone will go to Amazon and buy the book.
3. Accounting ethics: I do not trust. I just don't. Not publishers. I'm sorry. It's why I became a publisher. I'm clear as glass. Everyone gets a report--a report from Amazon, Kobo, Createspace, and Smashwords. The end. Smaller sites are just an addition to the accounting I love to do. Plus, I really don't know about their accounting and how clear it is. People bitch about Amazon being hard to decipher...well thinking about another accounting system to converge with mine and the others make me shudder. Brrrrr.
ACTION ITEM: Go for it--upload your book to YouHeartBooks and tell me all about it!! Tell me their promotion plans and all that. If it looks good and is trustworthy--I'll join. But if I have to go through another accounting report--I'll wait till I have accountants that do that for me :)
Serial eBook Takeaways
This is the last week of our experiment in serial produced ebooks. Snow Blood has been an awesome experience! But, before you start in your own serial adventure plan on:
1. Taking more time than a regular novel.
You have how ever many episodes and they all require ISBN, covers, and the time it takes to upload them into retailers different platforms.
2. Dedication to organization.
If you don't have organization in place, you are going to **** it up. Your cover is going to not match the internal material. There is way more likelyhood that Episode 6 will have the cover of episode 5.
3. More marketing.
You now have more property to work with, and while I don't see that as a bad thing, it's more you have to keep track of.
All in all, I can't wait for Season 2! It has been a blast to market Snow Blood!!
In the beginning, there is an idea of a cover. If you are lucky, you find it. If you are not, it's probably because you have the idea of the cover stuck in your head and you can't bear to part with it or see another cover for its magnificence.
I agree that most covers "call" to an author. Some respect my eye for covers. I'm not the guru designer end-all-end-all of cover design, but I do the best I can with the budget that I have.
Take for instance, Snow Blood. This series needed 8 covers.
6 for the separate ebook episodes
1 for the ebook full Season One
1 for the print
Why so many? Why so different?
First, sometimes you only have a certain amount of copies you can use for an image. Second, sometimes you want a difference between the print, ebook and audible version. Third, sometimes you want to explore the different possibilities of different styles.
When we did Snow Blood I made a deal with my author. She would get the print cover she wanted, I would get the ebook covers I wanted. It was a compromise.
In the story, Snow Blood is a husky turned vampire dog, but the only creature with enough intelligence and intensity that could pull-off being "Snow Blood" -- was a wolf.
Also, we needed something for the serialized ebooks that looked similar but could be different enough from each other so people could understand these are different books.
For the print and the full ebook of Season 1, I wanted everyone to pay attention to the fact that this was a completely different book--that it was an entire season not just another episode.
In addition to all that, we will be doing another season of Snow Blood -- I'm not sure about the episodes being released separately, but I know there will be another season, and I wanted to make sure both the serial covers and the season covers could be continued in the fashion from Season 1.
For Snow Blood, it was easy. For another serialized story--I'm not so sure. But if I did it again I would make sure to be able to stamp a brand on the covers as well as I did for the Snow Blood serials. I'm very proud of them! Sometimes you just see the image that you know is going to work! I love it when the pieces fall into place!
Snow Blood is an episodic story where each episode is released every Tuesday. Think of it as a TV show, where every week, you get a new episode unveiling more of the story.
This episodic writing was an experiment I suggested to author Carol McKibben and she agreed! Now that we've gotten to 4 out of 6 episodes this is what it looks like:
#97 in the Kindle Store >Science Fiction, Fantasy & Scary Stories > Fantasy & Magic > Coming of Age
The time and effort it took to make these episodes was a new and different challenge. I could not have published them and kept every episode straight without the organizational skills I've learned over the years.
Would I recommend doing a series? If you have the stamina to weekly installments for at least 6 episodes, I would tell you it's a fun process. But it's much more work than putting one book up and then promoting just that book.
It's great for getting your name out there and being on the just released lists. It's great for pushing a higher word count. It's also a lot more pressure.
ACTION ITEM: Attempt for 4 weeks of releasing your own episodes each week to see how you like it!
Snow Blood: Episode 4: Rebellion
To protect Selene, Brogio leaves Kane and Snow Blood to guard the love-of-his-life. While his master endeavors to lead the Gods astray, Snow Blood searches for a way for the two lovers to remain together. In his search, Snow Blood displays true sacrifice and unconditional love for both Brogio and Selene.
Find episode 4 on:
Barnes & Nobel
My efforts are to make this a learning blog where writers can see the flip side of publishing. If you have comments that will improve your experience or have a certain topic you'd like discussed, please contact me through email - HERE.
~ Sincerley, Your Editor
Troll River Publications
Books on Kindle