You have a beautiful website or landing page but now what? How do you drive traffic to it? Build your email list or sell more autographed books?
Without a doubt this is one of the top questions I hear from clients. They have a great website and have completed all the right steps in building their author platform.
Curious about the steps? Read this post.
A huge influx of traffic is possible and often takes time to build. Here are the seven steps you can take drive traffic to your website, grow your email list and increase your book sales.
1. Advertise your catalog of autographed books
Fans love autographed books but it’s hard for them to buy if they don’t know where to get them! I have a store on my author website and I use three ways to sell autographed books:
Tell your email list – about once a month I let my email list know about autographed books. Since I have 8 books I feature an excerpt along with the cover and remind readers they can get some bookmarks with each order.
Use Facebook – Ads take a moment to understand but you can set up an Ad for $5-$10 a day and send people to your website to buy books.
Use Google Adwords – I target people who have visited my website and promote my autographed books to them.
2. Advertise your free reader magnet
One way to build your email list is to give away a free short story (reader magnet). I have a landing page on my website and I use advertising to send readers to the page. The page does the rest. Take a look at the landing page here.
3. Advertise your books and link back to your website
When running ads, it’s smart to link directly to the vendor sales page. For example, if you’re trying to sell more books on Amazon, link to your Amazon product page and thus forth.
But if you want to drive more traffic to your website, advertise your books and link back to your website.
If you’re using a pop up, this can help you build your email list.
If you’re using a Facebook Pixel you can build custom audiences and advertise to them.
If you’re selling autographed books this can increase your revenue.
4. Use a giveaway to drive traffic to your website
If you’re doing a giveaway, I recommend that you focus on giving away something readers in your genre will love. Generic giveaways tend to attract freeloaders who may not be excited to be on your email list – however, you don’t have to use a giveaway to build your email list, you can use it just to drive traffic back to your website.
What items should you give away?
- Popular books in your genre
- A kindle e-reader
- Book swag
5. Host a group promo on your website with other authors in your genre
Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin are easy ways to create a promotion with other authors in your genre. Often the goal is list-building, but you can also create a promo to feature books on sale. 99 cent sales are recommended to drive traffic to your website and increase your book sales. Most promos I’ve been part of generate thousands of page views and sales. Here’s an example promo page.
6. Do a blog series
I have a short story that has ten chapters. To increase my website traffic I did a blog post for each chapter and told readers they could download the entire series for free.
I promoted the blog posts via Facebook and Pinterest to drive more traffic to my website and build my email list.
Pinterest is a powerful tool for generating website traffic and I usually using Pinterest Ads to promote my blog posts and gather more traffic.
See the first post in the series here.
7. Do a video series and repost them on your website
Read aloud, talk about your inspirations, or chat with another author. The sky is the limit on video and you can drive traffic a few different ways. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram TV are popular places for videos.
Post a preview of the video on Facebook or YouTube and link back to your website for the full video. Here’s an example of a video on a website.
Want more? Get more details by booking a 1:1 Book Marketing Call.
Share your thoughts:
1. How do you drive traffic to your website?
2. Do you have a tip that wasn’t mentioned here?
3. What action will you take to improve your website presence?
Leave a comment below and then share this post with a fellow author.
What do you do to add flair to your stories and improve your novel writing skills?
For me, it all started with one-star reviews. They are soul-crushing. I pour my heart into my stories and it a vulnerable experience that leaves me feeling low and unlucky when the bad reviews come in. And trust me. They do.
In Spring of 2018 my box set reaching #157 on the Amazon charts which is the highest I’ve ever been. It was a miracle that brought in thousands of dollars and the dreaded one-star reviews. At first I ignored them, but they sat there like an inch that goes unscratched. So I read them. It hurt.
Some reviewers couldn’t get past the words I made up, others hated the story from the prologue, others thought it was stupid, the list goes on and on and on. While bad reviews are unavoidable and it seems like there’s nothing you can do about them, there is. Perfect your writing skills and hone your craft so the next book you write will be better than the last.
I’m not saying that I wrote a bad book, it was the best I could do at the time, but now that I’ve learned a ton about novel writing, I know I can do better. Will I avoid poor reviews? Probably not, it’s impossible to please everyone. But will I keep writing? Absolutely.
Click to Tweet: Add Flair to your Fiction and Improve your Novel Writing Skills https://www.angelajfordmarketing.com/add-flair-to-your-fiction-and-improve-your-novel-writing-skills/ via @aford21 #writingcommunity #amwriting
When it comes to novels, writing here are some pro tips that can save you time and energy and help you write faster!
I plan on releasing 5 books this year and I can do that because of the steps I take before I begin to write. Read on to discover all of my secrets.
Study the craft of writing
Story structure is easily learned after all what more could there be to it? A beginning, a middle and an end. But if you want to be an excellent writer you need to plan.
Word to the pansters – stay with me on this on! I’m not talking about a soul-crushing outline that will send you screaming. I’m talking about a plan. A plan will help you write an excellent story, write faster and avoid the dreaded writer’s block. I have to break it to you, a book goes so much deeper than having a brilliant plot and a diverse cast of characters. You need more than that which is why studying the craft of writing is so important.
There are a few ways to do it. I found the main things that really helped me to develop the craft of writing was reading books on the art of outlining, plotting and character development. I also discovered reading books in my genre to see how popular authors put the technical details of writing into practice helped me to see plotting and character development in writing. two books which are quite similar. They have the same approach for the method of writing a novel but come from different angles.
The first book I read on writing has a more technical approach. It is called Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland. Structuring Your Novel allowed me to see where the missing plots were in my novels and what I could do to fix them.
The next two books are quite similar. They have the same approach for the method of writing a novel but come from different angles. These two books are all about creating characters readers can identify with. I recommend that you purchase and study both books. But only if you are serious about improving your writing and becoming a better author.
The first book is Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland. In this book she walked through several components on character development which made me realize that pantsing is not the best idea. Have you ever written a book, finish it and realized something was fundamentally wrong? I bet it’s because you did not revolve around the three act structure with characters integrated within the plot.
K.M. Weiland writes about creating the character journey. Your character(s) starts out in one place and mentally (and perhaps physically) but by the end of the story has fought through a revelation that transforms them to their true self. They need to overcome something. Most stories center on the misbelief and the lie that the character believes about themselves. The character’s struggle, their highs and lows, the lies they believe about themselves, and how it affects them both internally and externally, are what makes a character come alive. But as I was reading the book, I found it to be a little too technical for my creativity.
Which is why I picked up the second book: Story Genius: How to use Brain Science to go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron.
This book is actually perfect for me because I’m not into outlining and I despise plotting more than one scene at a time. Don’t give me wrong, I always know the end goal of the story. But Story Genius appeals to my more creative nature. It really helped me to dig deep into the mental state of the character and the psychology of where they are now and where they will end up going.
Having a plan helped me create a much better novel. As I worked through my second epic fantasy series: Legend of the Nameless One, I was pleased and thrilled to hear the positive feedback from readers on how much my writing has improved. But that’s not the only thing that helped me change up my game, I also worked with an editor who pushed me to focus on my writing and figure out what’s wrong with it.
Most editors I’ve worked with copy edit my novel and send me a clean version to review. There’s nothing wrong with that method, in fact, it’s clean and easy and doesn’t force me to dwell on my mistakes and improve them. However, the last two editors I’ve worked with made a point in highlighting the mistakes I tend to make and helped me figure out how to fix them. Now I have a list of things to watch out. Are you making these mistakes?
#1 – Particle phrases
This is where two actions happen at the same time, something I did not understand I overused until an editor pointed it out to me. .
#2 – Overused Words & Lack of Variation
I have a list of words and phrases I use repeatedly. My list includes:
- as if
- as though
I’m sure there are others, but those are the main ones I watch out for when writing. To combat this, I not only have my editor and proofreader watch out for repetition, but I also use a software called ProWritingAid. They have a feature that checks for repetition throughout your novel so you can fix those pesky words that dull down your writing before your readers begin to snooze.
I have a lifetime membership to ProWritingAid and I highly recommend it to supplement your self edits. But not, it does not take the place of an editor and proofreader. Check out ProWritingAid here.
I also made myself a list of items to keep track of doing the self editing phrase. It’s important to make the story as clean as possible.
#1 – Don’t state the obvious
#2 – Don’t repeat yourself.
I have a fantastic habit of saying the same thing in three different ways. When I see that happen in my writing, I delete the reputations that make little sense.
#3 – Show. Don’t Tell.
This is an old saying and one I’ve heard so often it’s easy to let it fly in one ear and out the other. But when you describe feelings such as anger, hate, jealousy, rage, exhaustion, make sure you don’t simply say: She was angry with her friend. Describe the anger, what did it feel like inside, how did it manifest externally? I use The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression to help me think outside of the box for describing emotions.
#4 – Use active not passive voice.
You can tell if you’re writing passive if you reach the end of a sentence and the phrase “eaten by dragons” makes sense.
I mentioned earlier that I don’t outline the entire novel all at once but I do take notes and plan out the highlights of the plot and character arcs. My planning helps me to write faster and avoid writer’s block even though all the twists and turns in the story don’t come until I start to write the actual novel.
Regardless, planning helps me know what is coming next and I can go back to my guidelines to re-read the scenes. Since I plan out my novels at bird’s eye view, here are the things I focus on.
This is usually something that comes through brainstorming. I jot down several keywords. For example, I’m working on a novel called Realm of Ice. Some themes include winter, ice, cold, life and death, shifters, ice kingdom and political moves. Writing it down helps me narrow down the theme of the book.
Introduction & Set Up
Many plotters call this Act One of the story. It’s where the key players are introduced, the setting and what a normal day in the life of the characters looks like. If I have several characters and points of view to go through, this can get rather long, but I keep the action going by having a key event (also known as the inciting incident or the hook) happen to each of the characters.
Hooking readers is critical, and if this is something you struggle with I recommend reading the book: Writing Dynamite Story Hooks: A Masterclass in Genre Fiction and Memoir by Jackson Dean Chase
Beginnings are rough for me. I end up going back and rewriting the first chapter a few times until I can nail the hook. During the first draft I don’t worry too hard about it because I know it’s something I’ll come back and rewrite after the first draft.
Also known as the midpoint, this is the biggest part of the story. According to K.M. Weiland it should include the 25% – 75% mark of the story. It is massive and includes the rising action—at least to the midpoint—and the rising action after the midpoint.
I love digging into the make or break moment for the characters. This is the point where the reader feels like all is in vain and maybe the characters should give up because there is no way for them to win. Then suddenly, something unexpected happens and the hero rises up and wins the day. Everything comes together, loose threads are tied up and if there’s more, a door is open to the next book in the series. To boil it down, Act Three is one amazing ride until the final words, The End, are written.
Avoiding those pesky flat characters
Since I like to fly by the seat of my pants, I generally outline a chapter before I write it—however that does not mean I outline the entire book. Instead I go chapter by chapter.
Each chapter is their own mini-story and includes a beginning, a middle, and an end. Or, if you like, a hook, an action and a disaster. I really like to hone in a focus on my characters, the obstacles that stand in their way and how they will overcome the internal and external characters that keep them from getting what they want.
That sounds like a lot for one chapter, but it works out well with keeping the action going in the chapter and flowing smoothly into the next chapter.
After the disaster, the character needs a moment to react to what happened. This can be a form of introspection which I absolutely love and respect. In all honesty, I can go overboard with writing intense chapters that are extremely introspective. Having a plan helps me shorten the introspection and make sure that I have my characters reflect on the most important emotions that play into the ongoing story.
There are many elements that go into crafting an amazing novel, but at a high-level, these are the actions I personally take to improve my writing, and I make it my goal to focus on learning something new with every single story I write.
As a recap, here are the books I recommend reading:
Share your thoughts:
- What revelations have you had about writing stories?
- What tips do you have for the first time (or old time) writers?
- What do you do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to improve your writing?
Leave a comment below and then share this post with a fellow writer.
Today I want to talk to you about perseverance and patience even though things aren’t going the way you want them to.
It takes time to become a full-time author and reap the benefits of success, especially if you’re self-published and need to work on marketing.
It takes even longer to make a full-time income off of your work and it can be depressing when you see other authors making four, five or even six figures a month. What about you? When will your time in the spotlight come?
Here are some thoughts from my personal experience.
Success is different in each of our minds and it takes time and energy to get where you want to be.
Looking back, I realize it took me almost four years to become a full-time author and make enough to pay the bills, afford ads, covers, editing and everything else that goes with becoming a full-time author.
So I’ll share the tips that got me there, but the most important thing I want you to know is that it takes time.
When you publish your first book, you might not see the results in 4 weeks. You might not see results in 4 months. Each of us has a different story and we must remember to put in the work, day in and day out.
Put in the work when it feels like you can’t sell a single book.
Put in the work when it feels like you’ll never reach your target audience.
Put in the work when you feel like going home and doing something else.
It took me 5 books and 4 years to make my first $50,000 from publishing books.
It took collaborations and studying and marketing.
It took taking a risk and trying new things.
It took thousands of dollars.
And let me tell you, I have bills and loans and things to do with my life. But my desire to be an author is deep and passionate. And even when my books weren’t paying for themselves I worked three different jobs to make it happen. I saved up for editing and book covers; I studied marketing and took courses. It was a long road but looking back I can say it was worth it. So hang in there. Keep going.
Follow these tips to put you on the road to success:
Write your best story.
Writing a story is hard but rewarding work. While there are many different ways to write a book, it’s helpful to study story structure. One of the many mistakes authors make it writing something without regard for industry standards. While the work may be good, it might not be something that readers enjoy. Pacing, setting and character development are a combination which makes books delightful to enjoy. Here are some of the books I recommend to help you succeed with storytelling.
Read this blog post for more about writing.
I used to turn up my nose at pre-made covers, but not anymore! It’s important to have an attractive cover in your genre, and you don’t have to spend an absorb about of money to get it. Covers these days range from pre-made to stockphotos to custom illustrations. After writing and publishing seven books I cannot stress the importance of a beautiful cover that fits with your genre.
Read this blog post for more about covers.
Study marketing (free and paid)
As an indie author, book marketing can make or break a career. Personally I consumed as much free information as I could and spent time working with entrepreneurs to practice the marketing basics. Some of my favorite sites for resources include:
Read this blog post for more about book marketing.
Build and grow your brand grow your email list.
Building your brand is essential for forming a fan base. Even if it’s nothing something you’re excited about doing, you can build your empire on automation. The start up steps take the longest, but I highly recommend having a website or landing page to collect email address. If you’re not a fan of email, you can also use a messenger bot and use that as your way of communicating with readers. Focus on both organic and paid ways to grow your list. Many tried and true methods include writing a short story (less than 10,000 words) and offering it as a free giveaway. This serves to give people a preview of your writing before they make a monetary commitment.
Read more about email marketing.
I remember releasing my first book, and trying to figure out how to get reviews. A few weeks after the release I booked a call with a book marketing guru to figure out next steps. A lot of people talk about launching a book but there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes after release. How do you keep book selling? What marketing tactics should you use? Booking a call and getting help from other marketing gurus helped set off on the right path to success.
Talking to a marketing guru can be both good and bad, so I also recommend chatting with successful authors. Follow them on social media, read their emails and do everything you can to emulate (not copy) their success. I recall following some USA Today Bestselling Authors and the number one thing they did that I didn’t do was newsletter swaps. It was very eye opening because it opened up an entirely new way of reaching more people.
Aside from talking, it’s also important to do something actionable. Taking courses may not be right for everyone, but I love seeing video examples of what I need to do and following the steps to make it happen. A few courses I’ve enrolled in include a writing course, an Ads course and a few other marketing related courses.
Collaborate with authors in your genre.
One of the biggest mistakes I see authors make is collaborated across different genres. Someone who writes nonfiction will ask a fantasy author to promote them. Why is this a mistake? Because you’re not reaching the kind of people who read your book. It’s extremely important to collaborate with authors in your genre. It makes a huge difference in book sales if you are selling to the right audience.
Read more about author collaborations.
As a final note of encouragement, it’s possible to become a full time authors, but in most cases it takes more than one or two books to get there. So decide what you want from your work and get to work. Write your book. Read as much as possible. Save up for expenses. Take a risk. You’ve got this.
Want to chat further? Schedule a call with me.
Do you have the right graphics for your book launch?
Recently I released the first book in a new epic fantasy series I’m working on, marking my 7th book release. Since my last series (The Four Worlds) did so well, I decided to level up and focus on excellent visuals for my book launch. Whether you are releasing your first book or tenth book, here are some suggested graphics for your next release.
Before I dive in, a word to the wise. Book launching is hard and takes a ton of time and energy. Because of that, there’s no way I could do it all myself. I outsourced as much as possible and collaborated with other authors to make the book release a success.
During a book release I always run Facebook Ads. As a student of Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course, I like to spend time testing out Ads and determining what converts to clicks and sales. Ad copy can vary, it’s important to test different wording as well as different graphics. The three kinds of graphics I usually test include stock photos and branded photos.
Stock photos are usually downloaded from Pexels or Depositphotos, depending on what vibe I’m going for. Stock photos do quite well with Ads, however, on the flip side, I do want people to know I’m selling a book which is why I also use branded photos.
Branded photos use my book cover or associated graphics. See below for the three kinds of graphics I use.
Standard Cover File
Free in Kindle Unlimited
While I don’t often run Ads on Instagram, it’s fantastic for organic views and connecting with book bloggers. In all honestly, I often don’t have to the time to connect with book bloggers on Instagram so I hire someone to do it for me. However, posting daily on Instagram is an awesome way to get my book in front of readers who are looking for something new to read. Plus the cover is so pretty, it draws the eye. See below for Instagram graphics.
View my Instagram account here.
Bookbub Ads aren’t something I’m versed in. While Bookbub allows authors to run Ads on their site, it’s still something I’m learning. Bookbub Ads are usually a loss for me so I run them for visibility. Usually I can set aside a few funds that are strictly for visibility and not for ROI. See below for the one Bookbub Ad I used.
There you have it. If you’re looking to create graphics for your next book launch, here are the sources I recommend.
Realm of Beasts is an Epic Fantasy Adventure with Mythical Beasts.
Credit for this release goes to:
Shayla Raquel for Editing
Amalia Chitulescu Digital Art for Cover Design
Stephanie BwaBwa of Story Creative HQ for Graphics
Recently someone asked what advice I’d give to a fledgling fantasy author. My immediate thoughts were: read and write. But there’s a bit more to it. So I thought I’d break it down for you in today’s post:
Get familiar with the craft of writing
Start reading. If you’re a brand new writer, the first thing you want to do is get familiar with the craft. The best way to do this is to immerse yourself in stories. It’s easier to write a good story when you can recognize the elements that make an enjoyable story. Head over to Amazon Bestsellers and review some top books in that genre. As you read, pay attention to what the author does. How do they use action, dialogue, characterization and description?
Choose your genre. Some of the most popular genres right now are romance, fantasy and mystery/thriller. However, there are many genres and depending on what you want to create, it’s good to know what genre your book will fit into. If you’re curious about finding a market for your book, check out the data from K-Lytics.
Practice by free-writing
Free-writing is a technique I use to get my creative juices flowing. I started a journal when I was 8 or 9 years old and the daily practice of writing helps me organize my thoughts. Now, you don’t have to journal daily but I recommend taking time to write about anything and everything.
Try to capture the five senses when you write to give yourself a broad grasp. Remember, this is just a practice. No judgement, editing or deleting allowed.
Here are some idea:
- Write about the couple chatting at your local coffee shop and pay attention to their body language.
- Write about the way the leaves change to red and gold in the fall.
- Write about the way your favorite dinner or drink tastes and go beyond taste to your emotional response.
- Write about the people or objects that trigger happy and sad memories.
Read books about the craft of writing
This is a big one for me. As an avid reader, I instinctively know the art of storytelling. However, there’s no harm in reading books to help you take your skills to the next level.
Some major errors I made with my first book included: head hopping, overuse of adverbs, and use of passive words and phrases. Since then, I’ve focused on continual improving of my writing with each book I publish.
There are many elements to storytelling and here are some of my favorite blog posts that help break it down:
I personally recommend these books:
Establish your writing routine
As a new author, you are already familiar with “writer’s block.” It’s not a myth and I’ve certainly been there when I was writing my second book, The Blended Ones. One way you can combat writer’s block is by setting up a writing routine. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. When people ask me how I write so fast, it’s because I’ve spent hours practicing, studying and repeating. You don’t have to write every single day, but it helps you keep the writer’s flow if you do.
My writing routine consists of writing five days a week for up to ten hours. Here are my three must haves for a good writing session:
Brainstorm ahead of time. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, however, while I often know where the story is going, I don’t always know what the characters will do in a particular scene. Before I start writing, I usually brainstorm what I want to happen which gives me a place to begin when I sit down to write. This also alleviates staring at a blank page for an hour.
Turn on music. When I sit down to write, I usually turn on a playlist to help me get in the mood. Since I write fantasy, listening to epic fantasy soundtracks helps me dive into the vibe of the book I’m working on.
Turn off all notifications and other distractions. When you focus on one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking, you can get more done. I turn off all notifications on my laptop and put my phone on silent (not vibrate, silent.) From there I can dive into the world of writing, much like diving into a virtual reality.
Make friends with authors
While it helps to have a mentor it also helps to create friendships with authors who will encourage and uplift you. You can do this both online and in person. When I wrote my first novel, The Five Warriors, I had an accountability partner I’d check in with every week. She wrote nonfiction, but it was helpful to have someone check in with me. If you’re looking for an accountability partner or just want to connect with authors, I recommend using Meetups.
Recommended reading: How to Start a Local Writing Group
Familiarize yourself with the basics of book marketing
Regardless of whether you plan to self-publish or go the traditional publishing route, you have to be familiar with marketing basics. Even publishers want their authors to have a website, grow an email list and establish a presence online.
As a new authors it’s important to start building your tribe. It can be as simple as creating your social media profiles and a landing page where readers can learn more about your upcoming work and join your email list.
That’s it. What advice do you have for new authors? What do you wish you’d known when you began writing?