How authors can support indie bookstores on Small Business Saturday

If you asked a group of people where they purchased their last book, chances are the majority of them would say Amazon. You might get a few people saying Barnes and Noble. But you will probably only get one or two who mention an independent bookstore. So what are some ways we can support indie bookstores so that they stick around alongside the bigger stores?

  1. The first one is obvious: Visit your local indie bookstore!
    Next time you get the book browsing bug, head to your local bookstore and purchase a book (or two) there. Chances are the customer service will be more personal than the big name stores or scrolling through Amazon. I find that the people working at my local bookstore are WAY more knowledgeable about the things on their shelves than other bigger retailers. Ask for a recommendation and you might walk out of the doors with your new favorite book!
  2. Buy through independent bookstores online
    Yes, Amazon can allow you to purchase a book from the comfort of your couch, but so do indie bookstores! If you don’t have a local bookstore to support, don’t worry. There are sites like IndieBound where you can find independent stores to support or sites like Bookshop.org who financially support indie bookshops with the money you use to purchase on their site.
  3. Participate in virtual or in person events
    Support doesn’t have to mean financial support — we know that sometimes that is not an option. But you can still participate in author events and share their events on any social media you might have! When authors see that independent bookstores have a lot of events with pretty good turnouts, they are more likely to come and have an event as well. Also, sharing that an event is happening gets the word out about a local bookstore some of your friends may not be aware of.
  4. Engage with indie bookstores across social media
    Follow your favorite independent bookstores on social media and sign up for their newsletters to keep up to date on events, book deals, and new arrivals. Also interact with hashtags like #AskABookseller where booksellers across the country are answering questions on book recommendations to questions on getting books stocked. Chances are if you ask, a bookseller will answer. This is also a great way to find indie bookstores to support who are interacting with customers online.
  5. Buy gift cards for the holidays
    The holidays are fast approaching and we all have book lovers in our family​​! Find out what their favorite local bookstore is or their favorite indie bookstore and get a gift card for them this holiday season. As a book lover myself, I can tell you that a gift card to buy more books is exactly what I want.

It’s so important to keep independent bookstores running and there are so many ways to support them. Supporting small businesses is something that we don’t always think about, but can make all the difference for those stores. So let’s all do our part next time we buy a book!

What to read when you’re still thinking about Mare of Easttown

I don’t know about you, but I became obsessed with Mare of Easttown and came up with all sorts of theories of how it would end. Now that it’s over and all has been revealed, my hunger for thrillers and crime are at an all time high. So if you are looking for something to fill the void, check out some of these books!

1. The Trespasser by Tana French: French is a master of the genre and you’ll root for the tough female detective Antionette (very Mare-like) as she works to solve the murder of a pretty blonde who everyone assumes was killed by her lover.

2. The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup: This thriller is full of twists and turns as a kidnapping and a series of gruesome murders are found to be linked through handmade dolls made of chestnuts. The author is the creator of the hit show The Killing, and his ability to create suspense will leave you on the edge of your seat. I literally couldn’t put it down.

3. The Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves: These books follow detective Vera Stanhope as she works to solve various crimes in the seaside town she grew up in. All of these books are perfect for crime lovers wanting to connect with a character over time. The backstory of Detective Stanhope and her connection to the town are revealed slowly, much like the slow-burn of information about Mare in the show.

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: If you are looking for family drama mixed with murder, this book is right for you. Complicated relationships and past traumas come to a head in this book that was also turned into a television miniseries.

5. The Alienist by Caleb Carr: This is a classic crime novel all about young people being murdered and a group of people using profiling to come up with a suspect for the first time successfully. There are a couple twists in this novel that feel very Mare of Eastown that you will enjoy.

6. The Whisper Man by Alex North: Much like Mare of Easttown this book takes place in a small town, Featherbank, where past murders by The Whisper Man are brought back into the light as a young boy vanishes. The two detectives, Amanda Beck and Pete Willis, have to confront the past in order to save the boy before it is too late.

7. My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: This book also looks at the question: “What would you do to protect the ones closest to you?” as a sister grapples with the knowledge of her sister’s murderous habit.

8. And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall: This story follows Grayson Skyes as she relentlessly looks for a woman who has disappeared, Isabel Lincoln. The more she searches, the more she uncovers about Isabel’s past secrets. A cat-and-mouse game between two smart women.

9. If You Tell by Gregg Olsen: This one can be hard to read because it is the true story of three sisters living in a house with an abusive and murderous mother. Like Easttown, it evaluates the lengths people go to in order to protect themselves and their family. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

10. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: A much more straightforward mystery novel with a female protagonist who is finds herself in prison for a murder of a child she swears she didn’t commit. The twist at the end is what makes it a perfect fit for this list.

What are reader newsletters and how can they help me?

Authors are always trying to find new ways to reach readers and get their book to as many people as possible. There are a lot of ways to achieve this, but one of the more successful strategies is by submitting for reader newsletters.

So, what are reader newsletters?

Reader newsletters are essentially tools for book promotion. They are free to readers, and publishers or authors pay to have their book included. A newsletter is sent out to subscribers advertising books that are on sale, or even free, for a limited time.

The cost to have your book included varies based on the newsletter but it can range from around ten dollars to hundreds of dollars. This usually has to do with the audience you are reaching. 

These newsletters are all about offering bargains for their subscribers, which means that to run a book promotion through them, you usually drop your e-book price between $0-$3.99 for 3-5 days. This is what draws readers in to buying your book. 

It is a great way to gain exposure and get some sales. Often these promotions increase your standing in Amazon rankings, which also gets your book seen by more people. 

Many newsletters allow you to target a specific genre which means that the people seeing your book in the newsletter are the type of person who is most likely to buy your book.

It is important, however, to try and pick newsletters that often see good results. You ideally want to generate at least enough sales to pay for the promotion.

So, what are some of the best ones?

We submit for a full range of newsletters and the best ones do depend on genre and other factors, but here are some of my top recommendations.

  1. Bookbub: This always gets great results, but it is pretty pricey (can cost thousands of dollars), and they only accept 10-15% of the books that are submitted. If you are selected, it is a great opportunity and usually is one that recoups the money spent on the promotion itself. Just be aware that you may have to submit multiple times before you are selected.
  2. Bargain Booksy: This ranges from $10-$95 depending on the genre and is easy to submit for.
  3. Fussy Librarian: Easy to submit for, ranges from $10-$30 depending on genre.
  4. Book Lemur: I don’t just love it for the fun name, but it is a plus. This newsletter costs anywhere from $25-$55 depending on price drop price point and genre. They are easy to submit for and are very communicative if there is ever a problem.
  5. Just Kindle: This is a great one that is set at $43. There is no waiting around to get approved for this one. Everything is quick, and your newsletter ad is scheduled before you leave the website.

There are many newsletters out there and they all have benefits!

So, what do you need in order to submit for them?

Each website is a little different in the information needed to book an ad. Here are some of the things that are often required:

  • Title of the book and author name
  • Email
  • Original price point and discounted price during the dates selected
  • ASIN
  • Book cover image
  • Short description of book (Pay attention to character count required on each site)
  • Author bio
  • Number of ratings/star rating
  • Dates of price drop
  • Date you want the ad to run

Some newsletters require all of that information while others only want a subset. It is important to have these things on hand so that the submission process can be quick.

So, is it worth it?

Reader newsletters can be extremely beneficial in getting your book on the radar of a new set of people. Having these ads go out to people who love your genre can boost sales and your ranking on Amazon. As an author, exposure is likely one of your top priorities. Running these ads and these discounts is a perfect way to catch the reader’s eye. This is a low time commitment way to see maximum results.

 

To Promote or Not to Promote: The Pros and Cons of Facebook Advertising

Authors are always doing what they can to get their books in front of more people. But the real goal should be to get your book seen by the most people in your target audience. Number of eyes doesn’t mean anything if they are not likely to turn into sales.

That’s where targeted Facebook ads come into play. Advertising on social media is an extremely effective strategy for promoting your book or building up your social media accounts. As always with promotion strategies, there are pros and cons to Facebook advertising.

The Pros

  1. Targeting a Specific Audience: Blanket advertising is not always the best strategy when trying to get more people to purchase your book. You want there to be a larger click through rate on your ad, which is more prone to happen if the audience seeing the ad is interested. By using the data on Facebook, you can target people based on their interests, gender, age, and location. You can always change these parameters as well, depending on how well an ad is performing.
  2. Number of Users: You can reach so many people on Facebook. There are currently 2.7 billion users on the platform, so even with targeting you are reaching a wider audience than you would on other platforms.
  3. Different Ad Options: There are multiple types of ads that you can run depending on your goal. The ads fall under three different categories: awareness, consideration, and conversion. You can choose what you’re wanting to accomplish (more traffic to a website, more page likes, more sales, more brand awareness, etc.) and Facebook will run an ad tailored to that goal.
  4. Comparison Opportunities: Facebook allows you to run multiple ads at a time, which allows you to monitor which ads are performing better than others. They allow you to set up an ad with an A/B Test which means the same ad runs with two different ad sets (different target demographics/psychographics) so you can see which audience is responding more. This allows an efficient way to monitor who you should be targeting and can save you money by only spending money on the ad that is giving you the most engagement.
  5. Easy to Change: Facebook ads are also easy to tweak if needed. You can go in and change the target audience at any time. You aren’t locked in to the ad set you originally create. Having the ability to change demographics as well as the image/copy at any time is helpful in making sure you are getting the best results possible.

The Cons

  1. Costs: While you can set up a Facebook ad with any size budget, the bigger the budget the better an ad will perform. This doesn’t mean that your $5/day ad won’t generate more engagement, but if you want substantial numbers, it could become expensive. Also, if your targeting is off, it can be a lot of cost for not enough return.
  2. Limitations to Facebook: While you are reaching a wide amount of people, it is only Facebook users that you are reaching and a lot of people who have accounts have started to move on to other, more progressive social platforms. This fact could lead to lower numbers of engagement on your ads. But again, a lower percentage of 2.7 billion, is still a pretty large number.
  3. Diminished Organic Views: Only a small percentage of your customers will stumble onto your post organically since the Facebook algorithm limits brands visibility, so to reach more people you may have to boost your posts.

Marketing your book can definitely be overwhelming, and understanding your options is key. It is important to take all of these things into consideration before creating an ad, however the pros usually outweigh the cons when it comes to advertising your book or your brand as an author on Facebook.