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If only being a romance writer meant spending the day telling tales of love and loss and love again. Alas, to be a published romance author requires wearing many hats or hiring help. While many authors are financially successful, most others don’t have the money to hire help. That’s where tools come in. Tools can save you time and money on doing the things that need to be done to publish and sell your book.
With Black Friday only days away, here are a few tools I use and that you can get at a discount to help you take care of all the things in your romance writing business.
ProWritingAid will not only help you find grammar and spelling errors, but also it can help you improve the quality of your writing. It finds passive voice, highlights when you start too many sentences in a row with the same word, offers suggestions for better word choices, and more.
If you want to get an agent and traditional publisher, using this software will help your manuscript stand out by sending the tightest, cleanest submission possible, short of hiring an editor. If you’re an indie author, this software can clean up the manuscript, which makes it easier for the editor you hire (and could save you money on editing).
Right now, you can get 50% off on yearly and lifetime plans.
Learn more about ProWritingAid
My book designer uses Deposit Photos for covers and while the graphic comes from her account, because I have an account as well, I can have the same graphic to use for marketing. Not only do I use Deposit Photos for my covers, but also for social media, blog posts, and more. I signed up for the regular monthly subscription because this special deal wasn’t available when I needed graphics. Lucky you, Appsumo is running the special offer where you can get 100 stock photo and vector images of any size, that are royalty-free and come with a standard license (you can use them for book covers, social media, etc).
Learn more about Deposit Photos
Social Bee doesn’t seem to be as well-known as other social media tools such as Hootsuite, but I love this tool and recommend it whenever I can. Social Bee does more than just allow you to schedule social media posts. With the Canva integration, you can create your sharable graphic from within Social Bee. Plus it works with all the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest), including the ability to schedule Reels and TikToks!
My favorite feature is the reschedule option that will automatically repost a post. This is ideal for your evergreen content, such as sharing your newsletter sign up. You can organize post types by categories (e.g. promotion, blog post, etc) and set up a posting schedule, which again, used in conjunction with the reposting feature, means content is sent out regularly even if you forget or don’t have time to create a new post.
I bought my access through a deal at Appsumo, and unfortunately, that deal is gone. BUT…right now you can get 70% off for 3 months.
Learn more about Social Bee
I tend to go on buying sprees when I visit Appsumo and Ocoya is a purchase I made on a whim during a visit last year. Ocoya is similar to Social Bee in that it helps with Social Media. It has its own graphic/template library (like Canva) as well as integrates with Canva. Plus you can schedule social media post within the system.
The real benefit to Ocoya is the help it gives you in deciding what to post. It has AI support in creating copy for social media posts and more. It has hashtag help, plus a quote generator if you’re really stuck and want a simple, quick way to post something.
Right now, you can get an affordable lifetime deal.
I like Kingsumo for running contests designed to build my email list. There is a free option, but this deal through Appsumo gets you a few extra things that can make your giveaways better for you and your entrants. You can set up the giveaway in a few minutes and share with your followers. Entrants can earn more entries by sharing the contest through social media. You can allow them to earn more entries by following you or subscribing to your email as well.
Learn more about Kingsumo.
Other Tools For Black Friday
Once again, I’m coveting some really cool tools offered on Appsumo. I don’t own these (yet), but am seriously looking at them:
SleekBio is like LinkTree for link-in-bio social media (Instagram, TikTok) but without the monthly fee. It’s only $19 for lifetime use for one page, or $29 lifetime for 5 pages. I’m trying to decide if this would be easier than simply creating a page on my site with all the links for link-in-bio.
VoiceTapp (Voice to Text)
I own Dragon Naturally Speaking, which has a transcription option, but I want to transcribe video/audio to text that doesn’t have the punctuation commands. I see myself using Voicetap to create blog posts, scripts, and course materials. I can speak my ideas (without dictating punctuation), and then use this to transcribe, and then edit to posts, video scripts, etc.
Other options for writers include dictating your ideas or even your stories, and then using this to transcribe. VoiceTapp would be a more affordable option to Dragon’s version with transcription.
There are time limits per month on transcription use, but with 12 welcome hours and 5 hours of recording/transcription thereafter for a lifetime, it’s a good deal.
One Transcriber (Voice from PC to Text)
I nearly ignored One Transcriber until I realized I have a TON of online courses I’ve signed up for. While some courses offer transcriptions, most don’t. With this software (if I’m reading the information correctly) I can create real-time transcription of webinars, online courses, meetings, etc! I’d have a second note-taker and a readable transcript to review once I finish the course! I’m definitely taking a closer look at this one!
Like VoiceTabb, there are monthly limits, in this case 120 minutes (2 hours).
You’ll notice that many of these tools are through Appsumo. I love this resource for finding helpful tools at affordable (usually one-low-lifetime) prices. While most are geared toward online businesses, there are a ton that could help authors (such as those above).
Want More Savings?
By the way, if you’re into savings, make sure you sign up for Swagbucks and/or Rakuten. So many online retailers earn you points through these programs that you can use for cash back or giftcards. I let my points ride until this time of year, when I use them to buy gifts or get giftcards for gifts.
November 18, 2022 in Blog
Lots of interesting news and tidbits to share this week, plus a few new romance imprints to submit your manuscript to.
Amazon Limits Categories:
When you publish your book through KDP, you select 3 categories, but in the past you could contact Amazon to list in 7 more. Recently, Amazon has now disallowed books from ranking in more than three. Amazon states that customer activity will influence which three categories the book will rank in on your amazon page.
NOTE: I noticed recently that on my author page, some of my books wouldn’t appear at the top. I learned the books highlighted at the top of an author page are the most popular ones. It’s an attempt by Amazon to showcase your more popular reads.
K-lytics Offers Good News for Romance Authors
- Top subcategories: Contemporary, Suspense, Rom-com (mafia and billionaire are popular)
- Multi- and Interracial romance sales are growing
- Sales in shifters, Amish, and Christian romances have fallen
- Average prices are up from less than $2.50 in 2017 to over $5.00 today. – What I don’t know is how many of these books are in KU.
What does this mean for you?
Writing to market is urged by many indie publishing “experts” but if you choose billionaires and to go against the authors who are already rockin’ in, you might have a harder time standing out.
In any business, your goal is to find the hot seller that doesn’t have as much competition. Some ideas to consider are:
- Medical romance
- Later-in-life romances
- Action & Adventure
- Demons (and maybe Angels)
- New Adult College (although Colleen Hoover and Elle Kennedy will give you a run for your money) – This is what the TikTok crowd loves.
- LBGTQ – If you’re looking for a traditional publisher, LBGTQ and diversity are high on the list of “wants” from agents and publishers.
Or just write what you want. There’s no guarantee that writing to market will mean the big bucks for you. And there’s no reason to think a book you write that isn’t current “hot” in the market won’t sell.
Also, something to note about K-Lytics is that it lists trends in Kindle sales only. This data could be different for print book sales or a combination of the two.
Romance Publisher Imprints
Are you looking to traditionally publish? Here are few new options:
Harlequin’s HQN is now Canary Street Press with a goal to publish “inclusive stories that represent everyone’s happy ever after.” Here is the entire Harlequin Imprint list.
Entangled Publishing is launching Red Tower Books to focus on romantic fantasy and science fiction, with “a feminist and empowered emphasis…” Think Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas.
Storm Publishing is brand new, which is something to be cautious about. But, it was started by people who worked at Bookouture, a Hachette UK ebook imprint, so they likely know a little something about book publishing. Here is the submission page.
Holiday Romance Writing Class (think Hallmark Movie)
Story Summit is offering a holiday romance writing course for novelists and scriptwriters. The cost is $129, and covers:
- How do you plot a classic holiday romance?
- What do holiday movie producers look for in a script?
- What kinds of tension are expected between characters?
- How can you introduce unique twists?
- How do you come up with a memorable meet-cute?
- and more…
I can’t decide if Elon Musk is throwing spaghetti at the Twitter feed to see what sticks or has a reason for the madness. Personally, I’m not active on Twitter, but I know it’s a resource to stay up on publishing trends and connect with authors. Agents I know use Twitter to keep informed about publishers and editors.
Me? I doubt I’m going to change my non-existent Twitter habit. What are your thoughts on Twitter these days?
Write with Harte Survey End of Year 2022Feeback
Suzy England: From Wattpad to Published Author
Suzy and my writing careers started similarly, but we’ve had sightly different paths to publishing. In this interview, Suzy shares how she started writing, discovering Wattpad (and Wattpad discovering her), and now landing her third traditional publishing deal.
SUZY ENGLAND ON THE WEB
Chasing Mr. Crown (Wattpad Paid)
Wattpad Deep Dive Interiew with Suzy England
Following this interview, I talking to Suzy more about Wattpad and how authors could use it in their writing efforts. Write with Harte members can view the deep dive into Wattpad here.
If you’re not a Write with Harte member, you can join here. It’s free!
I interviewed Suzy England about her journey to becoming a Wattpad Star and published author. You can see that part of the interview here.
Below you’ll find a members-only exclusive deeper dive into Wattpad, where Suzy shares her experience and insights on how Wattpad can help you with your writing and garnering a fanbase. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Will you be trying out Wattpad?
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is coming in November! Millions of writers across the globe set out to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Here at Write with Harte, I want to support your effort in accepting the NaNoWriMo challenge, or through WWH Writevember, achieve some other writing goal, whether it’s getting your lead magnet written, writing a novella, finishing a manuscript, etc. To help with either or both goals, Write with Harte is running its free Preptober and Writevember challenge.
What is Preptober?
Preptober is the name given by NaNoWriMo participants to the month of October, where they plan out their project for November. While NaNoWriMo rules state that writer must work on a brand new project in November, there are no rules against planning and plotting.
At Write With Harte, the Preptober challenge provides a daily email to help you plan and plot your project (even if you’re a pantster), so that when November rolls around, you are all set to start and finish on time.
What is NaNoWriMo?
If you’re a writer, odds are you’ve heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November. It sounds crazy. It sort of is, particularly if you’re a writer who can’t stand to write badly. Chris Baty, the creator of NaNoWriMo, and other participants agree that the month-long writing marathon is all about getting a badly written rough draft. You might be wondering, why bother to write like a madman just to get a bad draft? The answer it two-fold:
1) Bragging rights. Let’s face it, it sounds impressive to say you wrote 50,000 words in a month.
2) Completing a draft of a novel. Yes, it’s bad draft, but often the hardest part of writing is the first draft. Whether you write the draft in 30 days or 30 months, it’s not going to be presentable. No first drafts are. With NaNoWriMo, At the end of the 30 days, you have 50,000 towards a completed book. Most people never finish a book. Others who write a book take months if not years to finish. If you’re serious about writing a book, NaNoWriMo can jump start your effort.
Many NaNoWriMo particpants have parlayed their 50,000 words, after lots of editing, into a published work, including Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Harley Jane Kozak’s Keeper of the Moon.
I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo and I challenge you to join me. I know it sounds daunting, particularly in the middle of the holidays, but it can be done. The trick to success in NaNoWriMo is to have a plan (that’s what Preptober is for) and to average 1,667 words a day, which is really not that much, if you know what you want to write.
Some writers believe NaNoWriMo is a gimmick that promotes poor writing. I can spend a whole other blog post questioning why writing more words in less time is automatically considered “poor writing.” Instead, I’ll share my thoughts that NaNoWriMo is a great way for a would-be or struggling writer to jump-start new writing habits and to start and finish a book.
What is Writevember?
Writevember is Write with Harte’s version of NaNoWriMo. It’s set to coincide with NaNoWriMo if that is what WWH members want to attempt. However, I also know that writers might have other projects they want to work on that don’t fit into the NaNoWriMo rules (50,000 words of a new, never-before started novel). Writevember allows writers to pick their own writing challenge for November. Ideas include finishing an already-started novel. Writing a 30,000 word novella. Writing two 30,000 word novellas. Writing 60 or 80,000 words.
Further, writers who join WWH’s challenge receive daily tips, support, and motivation to achieve their goal.
FREE Preptober and Writevember Romance Writing Challenge
I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for more years than I can remember. I haven’t always been successful at hitting the 50,000 word mark, but even then I came out with more words than I might have if I’d never signed up. The challenge for me was running out of steam and words about 10 days in. that coupled with the idea that 1,667 words a day was crazy, sometimes I’d give up.
Since I’ve become a ghost writer, averaging a book a month, I’ve learned that 1,667 isn’t so much IF you have a plan. In the WWH Preptober and Writevember Challenge I share with you my tips, hacks, and secrets for writing a lot of words in a short time.
The goal of the Preptober and Writevember is two-fold:
- Plan a novel (October)
- Write a novel (November)
The challenge starts October 1st, and each day in October, you’ll get an email with information, tips, and homework to plan your romance novel. Most lessons won’t take very long. Others might take an hour. Of course, finding time will be covered so that when November comes, you have the time and organized ideas to write 1,667 words in an hour or 90 minutes (or whatever your daily goal will be).
You’ll continue to get a daily email in November with additional tips, inspiration, and pacing cues to help you stay on track.
Along with daily emails, there will be weekly Zoom meetings to recap the week’s goals, ask questions, and get support.
Participants can connect between calls by joining the private Romance Writing Challenge group here at Write with Harte. If you haven’t joined Write with Harte, it is free, and gives you access to a variety of tools, as well as the ability to take part in groups and forums.
Don’t wait, join now! Learn more and sign up for free here: Preptober and Writevember Romance Writing Challenge
One of my favorite pastimes is watching bonus material on DVDs. Along with interviews and bloopers, I enjoy seeing the scenes cut from the final version of the film. Over weeks and months, movie makers create scenes telling a story, but before the movie reaches the big screen, an editor hacks away scenes that, for whatever reason, don’t make the cut.
Writing a novel isn’t that much different. During the months or years the author writes a story, but before it reaches the reader, it needs editing, including hacking out perfectly written prose. It’s painful. It’s disheartening. But like ripping a bandage off in a single quick pull, it must be done.
What are darlings?
Many writers have been credited with the phrase “kill your darlings,” including Faulkner and Arthur Quiller-Couch (who said, “murder your darlings.”). But it’s Stephan King, in his own macabre way, who revealed just how difficult the process is in his book On Writing when he said, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” But what exactly does this mean?
During editing, you’ll cut unnecessary words or replace them with better choices. Those aren’t darlings. Darlings are beautifully written sentences, scenes, and even entire chapters that show just how wonderful, creative and clever you are, but must be slashed from your book because they hinder your story. You love these words, and cutting them is like ripping your heart out.
Why do darlings need to go?
Many DVD bonus features of deleted scenes include the director’s reasoning for cutting scenes. The two most common reasons are; 1. the scene slows the movie down, and 2. the scene doesn’t move the plot forward. The same is true in novels.
Every scene should have a purpose that keeps the action going and moves the plot forward. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. When you’re in love with your words, it’s easy to justify keeping them. This is where beta readers can be a help, if they’re honest enough to tell you where your book stalls.
I’ve written scenes I love, defending them by saying they reveal character. But if it isn’t part of the plot, it’s just blob that interrupts the story. Certainly understanding character goals, traits, and motivations is important, but they’re better revealed as part of the plot.
Darlings To Cut
Now that you know what your darlings are and why they need to go, how do you find them?
- Does the scene serve a purpose? Does it move the plot forward or develop the character? If not, cut it.
- Have you already said it (redundant)? Yes, sometimes you need to remind readers of clues or information, but be careful that you’re not telling them something they already know and remember.
- Is it purple or wordy? Beautiful writing is all well and good, but it can go over the top. Often, in an attempt to write beautifully or to seem smart, writers use way more words than they need and come off sounding like they’re trying too hard. Short and succinct is usually best.
What to do with darlings?
As difficult as killing your darlings is, it’s a necessary part of crafting tight, compelling works of fiction that keep readers in their cozy spots until the book is done. To do that, you need to kill or murder your darlings. I find it painful to delete forever a well-written piece of work. If you do too, here are a few tips.
During initial edits, highlight or strike-through your darlings. This leaves them in the manuscript for the time being. Perhaps they’ll fit better once you revise or can tweak it to fit the plot.
Eventually though, you’ll find some that have to go. If you find it too difficult to delete evidence of good prose, you can do what I do, which is to save them in a “Darlings” file. It’s possible you’ll be able to use them, with a few changes, in another story. Most likely, they’ll live forever in the file, never to be read by anyone but you. But they’re not dead. They’re in purgatory.
Another option I’ve considered is to create deleted scenes bonus material just like on DVDs. I think it would be fun to discover what authors (or their agents or publishers) cut from the final manuscript. Don’t you?
How hard is it for you to cut your darlings?
If you could read the cut darlings from any author or book, who/what would it be?
According to Writers Digest, audio books make up the fastest growing publishing platform. And like ebook and print book publishing, audio book publishing is affordable and accessible to indie authors. Using a royalty-share option through Amazon’s ACX, an indie author can have an audiobook recorded for nearly nothing, sharing the income earned off audio sales with the reader.
However, what many indie authors may not know is that you can get an audio book publishing deal where the author could earn an advance, and the publisher takes care of everything to create the audio at their expense, and pays a royalty similar to how traditional book deals work. If you have a traditional book deal and your publisher doesn’t have audio rights, you can seek an audio book publisher as well.
How to Get an Audio Book Publishing Deal
1. Build a track record of sales of your book.
While you can self-publish your audio book on your own regardless of how well your ebook or print version is doing, most audio book publishers will want to see that your indie book has a track record. Is it selling? Does it have more than just a few reviews? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific sales number, ranking, or review count. I have a friend who’s first book in her series sits a 330,000 sales rank with 56 reviews and she got a deal with Tantor. However, at the time she got the deal, the book could have been ranked higher. She’s great at selling her books, so I’m sure her sales, at least around the time of release, were high.
2. Gather your book’s information
While you might not need to submit a full synopsis or written manuscript, the publisher will like want the following information:
~ Your Name
~ Book title
~ Book genre
~ Publisher (if not you, you’ll need to prove your publisher doesn’t have audio rights)
~ Link to your website
~ Information about book sales: This may include linking to a bookseller or gathering information from your distribution resources
3. Write a query or introduction letter
This is the first and best chance you have to grab the interest of an audio book publisher. You should have a hook about your book, a little about you as an author, info about the book sales, awards, and other kudos, and anything else the publisher asks you to supply.
4. Consider getting an agent
Many agents are now taking on indie published clients to sell additional book rights for audio, but also foreign and movies. While these are all things you can DIY, there can be an advantage to having an agent to access publishers and navigate contracts. Plus, some publishers below prefer to or only work with agents.
I plan to use my agent to sell my indie books to an audio publisher. While I could do it myself, there are enough moving parts that I’d rather have her do it and I can focus on writing.
Audio Book Publishers
Many of these publishers you can submit to on your own. Those with an asterix will also work with agented authors. Some will only work with agented authors. A few are not currently accepting submissions, but could open up in the future.
Audible * – Audible is currently closed to submissions (as of this writing, June 2022), but you can check back at a future date to see if it’s open again. Note, this is difference than self-publishing your audio to Audible through ACX.
Blackstone * – Prefers to work with agents
Brilliance Publishing *(also owned by Amazon) – It’s not accepting submissions at this time, but check back.
Dreamscape – Dreamscape publishes audio, but also provides distribution services for audio, movies, and more.
NovelAudio – Says it likes to work with traditional and indie authors, including backlist books.
Podium * – Podium is popular with indie authors, especially in the romance and fantasy genres.
Oasis Audio * – Has indicated it is more responsive to submissions through an agent
Penguin Random House * – The big publishing houses normally publish audio through their own published resources, but there is some indication that Penguin Random House accepts submissions for audio books, but only through agents.
W.F. Howe – UK publisher that publishes audio books in many catagories and genres.
Is there a romance audio publisher I don’t have listed? Let me know in the comments below.
Write with Harte membership is growing and so it’s time for me to ask you for feedback. Filling out this form will help me understand what you need and how I can better help you.
Thank you for taking the time to let me know how I can help you write, publish, and/or market your romance.
I received the following question through the WWH Weekly Call topic list and thought I’d answer it here as well.
Ugh. I just did taxes, as a first year romance author. I looooovvveeee this business, but I’m wondering if I can really make a profit and how. I work a full time job so 2021 I did All. The. Things. Because I could afford to, I tried everything, bought everything, advertised the heck out of everything. Now for 2022 I’m pulling back, focusing on the things I found that work and not spending money on things that don’t in terms of marketing my books. So I’m writing my second series now, and sifting through my data to find where to get the most bank for (budgeted) marketing dollars. I guess my question is, what are some tips to becoming profitable as a romance author?
This is the million-dollar question. Like this author, I’ve done all the things and have watched while other authors who started after me zoom (or so it seemed) to the top of the bestseller list, making money hand over fist. Why is that? What were they doing?
Before I get into tips to becoming profitable, or at least making more than you spend, here are a few things you need to consider.
- There is a reason most self-pub programs tell you to write to market. Some go as far as to tell you to write spicy or clean (apparently nothing in between) romance. Writing what people are devouring is an easier sell than to people who don’t read a subject so much. I’m not telling you to write to market, but it’s clear that finding the right readers for your book is the crucial element to success.
- There is a reason most publishing gurus tell you to be in Kindle Unlimited, especially if you’re a romance writer. Romance readers are voracious. They read more than they could possibly afford if they had to pay retail. Many of these readers consume 2 or 3, maybe more books a week. It’s more affordable (and justifiable to the budget) to pay $9.99 a month and read to their heart’s content. (NOTE: There are many successful indie authors who distribute their books wide, but most consensus is to publish on Amazon and in KU as a new author. When you get the fans, you can go wide).
- Packaging makes a difference. My Valentine Mystery series got all new ebook covers (and shortly will have new print covers) so I could better target romance readers, who were a better fit for the books than mystery readers (because I include sexy bits!). The same cover artist did both (see below). Same interior, but totally different vibe, right? It’s important that you think of your cover as a marketing tool. Here is my take on how readers choose books. Authors they love then, with new or unknown authors: Genre > Tropes > Cover > Blurb > Reviews (often checking the lower ones first).
Marketing your book is different when you are brand new than when you already have a book or two or three under your belt. So in this article I’ll start with new authors (first book) and novice authors (have books but are still growing).
Marketing for New Authors
If you build it and put it on Amazon, the readers still may not come. It’s crucial that new authors start marketing as soon as possible BEFORE publishing your book.
If you’re still writing, start talking about your book.
There are two advantages to starting your marketing now; 1) You develop a system and habit of maintaining your platforms (social media, website, email etc), so it’s easier to incorporate more marketing tasks later. You don’t want to do all the things at the same time your book is launching. 2) You have a group of people ready to buy your book when it publishes.
Create a FB and Instagram page with your author name. Publish tidbits of writing, things you’ve learned in your research, and other topics readers of your genre would be interested in. Consider creating a website and email list. You need to do it soon, so why not start now?
Learn who your readers are and where they hang out.
When it comes time to market your book, you need to reach out to these people so figuring out who they are and where you can find them is important. Follow authors that write in the same genre (social media, website/blog, email etc). This will not only help you get ideas for what you can do with your fans, but also, you can meet and learn about their readers…who are your readers too. CAUTION: Don’t promote yourself on other author’s platforms unless they say it’s okay.
Build your platforms and invite people to visit.
We’re back to that “if you build it, they will come” concept. It doesn’t work except of in A Field of Dreams. In the real world, Ray would have had to go out and tell the world about his baseball field in a cornfield. You need to do the same. A website and social profiles are the equivalent to having a baseball field in the cornfield. You need to get people to come visit you. That won’t happen by cosmic magic of Shoeless Joe Jackson. You need to go out and find readers where they are, and invite them to join you at your place. This leads us to two goals in marketing:
- Sell books
- Build community
Selling books is first because that’s your ultimate goal. But in reality, building community is the best way to achieve that. Sure you may get people who accidentally find you on Amazon and buy, but most successful authors (the big money makers) are making their money from existing readers buying new releases. They got those existing readers by creating places for the readers to come visit them and giving them a reason to stay. These authors stay actively involved with their readers so that when a new book comes; the readers are ready to buy.
The challenge of building a community is that you need to give readers a reason to want to follow you (i.e. a free novella or other romance-related freebie) and continue to give them things (entertainment, fun, and books) so they keep on following you. This is the equivalent of the slow burn romance (sorry, changing metaphors). It takes time to woo them, but when you do, they’re loyal and loving!
Think of it this way; some of the most successful romance writers have 20,000 to 100,000 email subscribers on their list. When they have a release, how many people do you think buy when they get an email on the new release? Probably not all 20k to 100k but I bet it’s more than anyone who doesn’t have a list, except Nora Roberts and her ilk. If only a thousand to five thousand bought, that would still be a lot. A $3.99 Kindle book, would earn (@2.99 profit/book) $2,990 to $14,950. If they’re KU readers, the earnings come through page reads. Two-hundred and fifty page reads over 1000 people would earn approximately $1,100. However, consider that more people may grab the KU version, which could lead to more downloads than if the book was purchased, in which case, you’d earn more. With a single email, these authors are making $2,500 and more.
So, I’ve taking the long route to say that you want to think beyond book sales and instead in terms of building a community of readers around you. You want to give them something they want and to engage with them regularly, and when book releases happen, they’ll be there to buy.
What is a community? Community is where you readers can congregate to hang out with each other and you based around the writing you do. There are basically two ways to build a reader community and you should consider both.
The email list is crucial since you have readers’ email addresses. When a reader give you an email address, that’s a bigger commitment and show of support than a simple follow on social media. However, you can build a group on Facebook or some other place where readers can engage with you (you could build your own reader group here on Write With Harte!).
So how do you find people to join your community?
If you have ZERO readers, followers, fans…
- Create something readers in your genre would like. Ideally it’s a book or novella you’ve written, but it can be something else as long as it’s something your target market (the people who read your type of book) reads.
- Create an email list. This is a big topic. I have a link to an article here to tell you more about email and how you can use it to become a profitable author. Put the email list sign up on a website, blog, FB page or other place you can tell people where to get it. Note that Aweber has an easy way to make a landing page so you don’t need to build another site. You can get a free trial of Aweber here
- Start a Facebook group under your author name and invite people to join. Consider making it private and offer some extra stuff you don’t share elsewhere. It will make it seem more exclusive.
- Pick a limited number of places to hangout on social media. You can’t be everywhere all the time and tryin to do so will lead to burnout and lower results. Facebook, for all its faults, is the place to be unless you can prove your reader isn’t on Facebook. After that, think of other places your reader hangs out and decide if you can actively maintain participation on the platform. The active participation is important. If your reader is on TikTok but you can’t stay consistent on the platform, maybe that’s not the place for you or you need to figure out how to you can be consistant.
Once you have your “ball field” in place, it’s time to get people to visit you:
- Ads aren’t free but can be effective at quickly building a community if you have offers readers like and you can effectively target those readers.
- Giveaway programs such as Bookfunnel or Prolific Works offer an easy way to build your list while helping others build their list as well.
- As your email list grows, do newsletter swaps, where you tell your readers about another author and they tell their readers about you. You’ll need to swap with lists that are a similar size to yours. If you have 1000 subscribers, you’ll swap with someone in the same genre with around 1000 subscribers.
- Tell your friends and family to share with others they think would be interested in what you’re doing.
There are more ideas in the email email article posted here
For first-time authors (first book coming out):
- Continue to build your list and community however you’ve done it before (as long as it’s working).
- Join Bookbub and start keeping it updated with your books and asking your community to follow you. It’s free to have a Bookbub profile and its where many romance readers keep track of what they read and their favorite authors.
- Be a guest. Go on podcasts and guest blog. Try to focus on outlets that target your reader, not other writers. This is a great way to share your new book and even better, it’s free.
- Takeover events. I did a lot of takeovers when I started and many of my fans came from it. I’ve heard lately they’re not as good, but the woman I’m hiring to be my new PA insists that with the right group, they work well. These are free and can be really fun.
- Run ads. Successful authors I know run ads nearly all the time. But for a new author on a budget, consider running your ad during your presale and a few days after launch. Ads more than anything can jack up your sales if you don’t have a large community of readers. If you have been building a BookBub following and have around 1000 followers, try to get a Bookbub ad. I recently had a book marketing specialist tell me they’d never met an author that didn’t have success with a Bookbub ad.
For novice authors:
If you’ve already been doing the above and other tasks to market your books, you’ll want to start first by looking at the results of your efforts. Did the FB ad bring new subscribers or sales? Is your Facebook group engaged and if not, is it because you need to be more interesting? Is your email list responsive? If your list has a low open rate all around (17% or less) and/or low click through rate or high unsubscribes, then you’ll want to figure out why.
As you grow your author business, there are two things you need to do to make the big bucks:
- Evaluate your results regularly. Data is your friend. It’s what will tell what’s working and what isn’t. However, if something isn’t working, consider tweaking or assessing why. Maybe you need to make a simple change to get results. So don’t abandon a strategy without determining if you can make it work.
- Keep on top of new trends in book marketing. Things that worked last year, may not work this year. There might be a brand new service or idea (i.e. BookTok) that you should consider. Staying active in author marketing resources, especially romance ones, will help you keep on top of what is working and not working for others.
So, where I’m I spending my time?
I currently have 12 books published (plus a novella), with new releases in May and August.
For the last year or so, I’ve been focused mostly on building my list, which I do mostly through social media and Bookfunnel giveaways. When I’m at events, I have a paper on a clipboard where people can sign up for my list as well.
I ran FB ads for nearly year, but stopped because results weren’t as great as I’d hoped. With that said, I recently started a new ad for my next release. I’ve also been looking at trying Amazon ads.
I’ve just hired a new PA who tells me her other clients are having success with FB takeovers and Bookbub, so I’ll be making room for that. But as I add a new strategy, I take my baseline stats so I can know what new efforts are making a difference.
Writing a book is hard, but selling it is harder (I think). It’s important to see author success as a marathon. It might look like some authors hit the bullseye on first try, but even those who say they were shot to success will tell you they were working hard on all the things, until the one thing bumped them to the next level. The question you have to figure out is the “one thing” that will propel you to the next level?