Should Authors Do It All?

What’s better? To be a jack of all trades or to specialize in a particular skill? Naturally, there are arguments for either choice depending upon the circumstance. Let’s say you’re an athlete and have suffered torn cartilage in your knee; you’ll want to consult with an orthopedic surgeon.

After all, they’re experts at what they do. So why is it as authors, we don’t seek out experts?

Why do so many of us try to do it all?

Assuming that the writing is in place, let’s examine all of the jobs or tasks that are required to bring a book to market.

Publishing Requires Juggling —

Cover Art
Digital and Paperback Formatting
ISBN Registration
Synopsis Writing
Keyword and Category Research
Distribution / File Uploading
Marketing and Public Relations
Social Media

Phew…what a list! Considering that today’s reader has an abundance of choices available to them, it makes sense to give your audience what they crave….more books! Many authors have learned that one of the secrets to building a loyal fanbase is to release their books in rapid
succession. Some debate the pros and cons of doing this with a series versus a standalone novel.

Regardless of which choice, series or standalone, how do you keep up with your writing if you’re busy with so many tasks? And if you are taking on all of these responsibilities, are you doing each one justice? Whether we’re talking about graphics or formatting, there is a definite skill involved in each.

Let’s examine three of these tasks in greater details — cover art, formatting, and social media
— and analyze what makes for a superior job versus one that is somewhat mediocre as a result of not focusing on only that task.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

We’ve all seen them…the book covers that stand out from the rest and not in a good way.

Considering that now there are numerous contests for book cover art that can benefit the writer as well as the artist by bringing attention to your book, you don’t want to attempt cover art on your own for the sake of saving money.

Especially considering that many cover artists create what’s known as “pre-made covers” that can provide immense cost savings. These are covers that aren’t created to your specifications but rather, fit a typical genre such as romance or thriller. Writers will see one of these covers (often times as low as $30 and typically not higher than $75) and use their great imagination to actually pen a scene into their novel that suits the cover image, thereby making it appropriate to their book.

Functional Formatting is Key for Reader Enjoyment —

Many new authors do not realize that proper book formatting requires knowledge of specific softwares that can generate a file format that is accepted by the ebook retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and more. Furthermore, Amazon won’t accept the same format as the rest. They want what is known in the industry as a “mobi” file whereas the other ebook retailers will accept an “epub” file. As you can see, simply uploading a Word document from your computer won’t cut it, even if you think it’s beautiful with fancy fonts littered throughout your text.

Professional formatting will save the author time because you won’t receive error messages from the ebook store sites. Imagine if you did receive an error message. Would you know where in your entire book to find the problem? And, if you did find it, would you know how to correct it?

For this reason, as well as the aesthetic quality that a professionally formatted book can bring to the reader, it’s important to choose a professional book formatter.

In my opinion, professional book formatting should serve three functions: saving the author time, bringing aesthetics and beauty to your words, and providing a level of technical functionality.

Clever book formatting will include numerous benefits to the reader experience. Here’s just a few things that can be added to your ebook with formatting:

Hyperlinks within the text to outbound URLs
Author social media links
Link to Amazon’s listing of the book whereby a reader can leave a review
Social Media…Fun and Games or Serious Business?

Let’s face it, social media can be fun. Why wouldn’t you want to spend time on Facebook chatting to readers, tweeting messages on Twitter to other authors, or posting pictures of your
adorable pets on Instagram? Because quite simply, social media is a time sucker and if you’re
serious about your writing, you need to limit your time online. However, there’s no denying that if you want to sell your books, you need to be visible and have a proven author platform.


How do you do both? As authors, how do we find the time to write our books and use social media? In a word: balance! I write extensively about how to live a creative and balanced life.

It’s a subject I feel strongly about because we all wear many hats. In no particular order, I’m an author, a wife, a mother, a book packager, and a ghostwriter. Trust me, I understand busy. But I also have learned when to back off and ask for help. In terms of social media, I think it’s a great idea to learn a few key lessons from social media strategists and then experiment with how much of this task you can do yourself and still maintain a regular writing schedule and your sanity.


As to answer my initial question, should authors do it all? I think it’s wise to educate yourself.

Know how much a cover will cost. Research the different formatting fees. Spend time on social
media and see if your tactics are converting to sales. Once you educate yourself, it’s easier to hire an expert because you understand what their job is and you’ve developed realistic expectations.

If you have questions about anything publishing related, I’d love to chat.

How to Prepare for Self-Publishing: Formatting for Hard Copy

Source: How to Prepare for Self-Publishing: Formatting for Hard Copy

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

self-publishing, authors, indie publishing, writingThis is part five of a six-part series.

Ebooks might be cheap to produce and distribute, but many authors still choose to do a short print run or make their books available in stores on a print-on-demand basis. Readers still like printed books—they’re not going away any time soon! And even if you don’t plan to make a fortune selling them, hard copies can be a useful promotional tool. They come in handy for book signings, giveaways, special events and for sending to reviewers.

You want to see your book in print, so how can you make sure it looks professional? A self-published book doesn’t have to look self-published. The reader is going to be drawn to your book because of its striking cover design and outstanding blurb; she isn’t going to turn her nose up at it because it isn’t published by HarperCollins!

Don’t go too far out

First of all, it might go against the grain for you as a writer and as a creative person, but the world of publishing is quite conservative. If you’ve written a coffee table book, or a book about art or craft or design, then there’s definitely a case for making the physical product look or feel unusual in a way that reflects the content, but this is going to be expensive and require professional input on the design. If that’s your book, this is probably not the article for you. But if you’ve written a novel or a non-fiction book that’s “wordy” rather than visual or tactile, read on.

The golden rule is, don’t try to be too “different.” You don’t want the look and feel of your book to get in the way of your readers’ absorption into the world you’ve created. If they’re going to admire something, you want it to be your writing skills, not the font you’ve chosen.

A good way to get started is to pick a book from your shelf, one that you enjoyed reading, and copy the design and layout. When you were reading it, you probably didn’t notice the fonts, line spacing, margins, page numbers and paragraph spacing. That’s good: it means the designer did her job well. That’s the kind of experience you want your readers to have.

Communicate with the printer

Ask your printer for their formatting guidelines—most will have something, even if it’s a just a basic list of dos and don’ts. Some may have templates you can use, which are really helpful. But bear in mind that, provided your file complies with their technical specifications, they’ll print whatever you put on the page. They won’t alert you if your text is hard to read or your colored graph makes no sense in grayscale.

Don’t cut corners

Don’t be tempted to make the type too small or the margins and line spacing tight in order to fit it onto fewer pages and cut costs. If your book is physically hard to read, people just won’t bother, and it will turn readers off as soon as they open it.

Choosing the right font

It might depend on the subject of your book. For example, a contemporary book about business may suit a sans serif font, but “old style” serif typefaces like Garamond and Minion are good choices, too. If you’ve written a non-fiction book, have a look at which typefaces are commonly used by published authors in your subject area. Which ones are easy to read and project a professional image?

Do your research

You might think that you know what a book looks and feels like. After all, you’ve read enough of them! But take some time to research into publishing industry standards and make sure your book conforms to them. Otherwise it will be obvious to professionals that your book is by an amateur. Pay special attention to the front and back matter (everything before and after the body of the book itself).

Give your book the professional touch

Make sure you’ve got a publisher name and logo, even if it’s just you acting as a “micro-publisher” for your own work. You don’t have to spend a fortune hiring a professional logo designer. Sometimes just the creative use of one or two letters from a more unusual font can be enough.

Don’t neglect the spine: the publisher logo should appear there, toward the bottom, as well as on the back cover.

Use the appropriate program

If you’ve got Adobe InDesign and can use it, it’s a good program to use for typesetting. Word is great for word-processing but notoriously difficult to use for design. You might find yourself struggling with page numbering, alignment, justification, widows and orphans, random lines that won’t disappear, and all manner of oddities. InDesign is far better suited for creating a book. You can export your file as a print-ready PDF. If you can afford it, get a professional designer to typeset your book for you; she will be able to get your book “looking like a book” for you.

To get all the ebook and digital publishing news you need every day in your inbox at 8:00 AM, sign up for the DBW Daily today!

What Self-Published Authors Should Know About Hard Copies

Source: What Self-Published Authors Should Know About Hard Copies

books, ebooks, authors, self-publishing, ebook conversionThis is part five of a six-part series.

Ebooks might be cheap to produce and distribute, but many authors still choose to do a short print run or make their books available in stores on a print-on-demand basis. Readers still like printed books—they’re not going away any time soon! And even if you don’t plan to make a fortune selling them, hard copies can be a useful promotional tool. They come in handy for book signings, giveaways, special events and for sending to reviewers.

You want to see your book in print, so how can you make sure it looks professional? A self-published book doesn’t have to look self-published. The reader is going to be drawn to your book because of its striking cover design and outstanding blurb; she isn’t going to turn her nose up at it because it isn’t published by HarperCollins!

Much more.


How to Prepare for Self-Publishing: Marketing

Source: How to Prepare for Self-Publishing: Marketing

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

self-publishing, authors, indie publishing, writingThis is part six of a six-part series.

You’ve written your book, had it edited, sorted out the formatting and typesetting and done everything you can to make sure it’s as good as it possibly can be. Your cover design makes your book stand out to potential readers and you’ve polished the blurb until it gleams. So what can you do to get it in front of as many people as possible and get those sales rolling in?

Getting your book reviewed

It takes a long time to review a book. Reviewers often have a backlog that they’re working through, and naturally you want them to read the whole thing and give their considered opinion. You need to plan your campaign well in advance and start much earlier than you might imagine. If you want national publications or well-known/tastemaker bloggers to review your work, you’ll probably need to allow four to six months’ lead-in time, and remember that it’s likely they’ll want hard copies.

Plan ahead and get creative!

If you’ve written other books before, you should already have been using these as a platform to generate excitement among your readers and get them anticipating your next one. Even if this is your first book, you should always try to create a buzz on social media. The more resources you are able to create, the better your campaign will work. This could even include writing short stories based on some of the characters in your book. Try some point-of-view changes, experiment with pre-releasing a prologue, write a poem, start a story and invite your readers to finish it as part of a competition—this is your chance to really get creative!

Social media

It’s better to use just one social media platform well than to try to do everything and not get the results or engagement that you’re looking for. We recommend Twitter and Facebook as starting points, but if Pinterest, Instagram or something else is your thing, then go for it.

Every platform has its benefits and reaches a different audience, so it helps to know who your target audience is beforehand and to determine which platform they are likely to be using before diving in there yourself. It’s important to be enthusiastic about the platform you’re using rather than seeing it as a chore; this will shine through in the way you use it. You can use a scheduling tool like Buffer and then plan some time in your schedule to create your updates all at once rather than letting it eat away at your writing time. Try not to use formal language (unless it suits your target audience), and don’t forget to check back on your notifications and to respond to your followers!


Lots of self-published authors recommend free giveaway periods to generate interest, get further up the lists that matter (recommended reads, etc.), gain reader reviews on sites such as Goodreads and then start gaining some traction elsewhere on the web.

Save your money

Be cautious about going for paid reviews. They aren’t necessarily bad, but the general consensus by both authors and tastemakers is that they aren’t worth the money or the effort. Reader reviews have a more engaged reader base behind them and are more honest, therefore perceived as more trustworthy and of greater value.

Keep the momentum going

Think about how you are going to sustain interest for more than just the initial release period. You might want to plan some longer-term projects to keep the enthusiasm going, or look at how you can use this book to start marketing the next! Keeping your fanbase engaged over a long-term period is the key to a successful writing career. Is there an aspect of your life or a theme in your book that you can use to connect more personally with fans and use as leverage in your marketing?

If your main character is a baker, for example, and this is important to the story, why not target baking or related trade magazines and see if they’ll give you an interview or feature? If a character has a health problem, would a related charity like to collaborate with you to raise awareness of what they do? Whatever the theme, create content based around this and start conversations on a regular basis; this can be anything from blog posts or Q&As to a mini video series.

In the real world

There is a wealth of information about how you can promote your book online—use it to your advantage. But don’t neglect real-world promotion as well. Bookstores are often keen to promote local authors and may be able to help you stage events like book signings. Libraries might welcome the chance to get more people through their doors, too.

Don’t use social media as your sole method to drive sales online. Try some old-fashioned promotional tools like bookmarks and flyers as well, and try to get people back to your own website and to join your mailing list. Remember that you don’t own your fanbase on Facebook/Twitter etc. The network does, so by converting likes and followers into mailing list sign-ups, you have more ownership over their contact details. You can then use this to create higher engagement and better relationships with the people who are genuinely interested in your writing.

To get all the ebook and digital publishing news you need every day in your inbox at 8:00 AM, sign up for the DBW Daily today!


How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors

Although the main focus of this blog is on the London Book Fair – as is pointed out – many of the larger conferences are guilty of this. As someone who hands out virtual kleenex to  victims of some of these companies, I agree that the conferences have got to stop giving these companies legitimacy.  Share this post if you agree!

Reblogged from David Gaughran’s blog

The most prestigious event in the UK publishing calendar, the London Book Fair, welcomes predatory operators with open arms, deliberately positions them opposite author events for extra cash, and then helps to whitewash their reputation – even running misleading interviews and puff pieces on its own website to help them get more leads.

I’ve been campaigning against vanity presses and author exploitation for five years now, and one thing that became apparent is the key role of book fairs and industry events in this mess.

Vanity presses are always keen to appear at these events because it:

  • lends their seamy enterprise an air of legitimacy to inexperienced authors who don’t know better;
  • gives them direct access to a pool of newbie authors attending the events; and,
  • creates an opportunity to sell various products to their users such as book signing services and book display packages costing thousands of dollars.

I’ve written previously for the Alliance of Independent Authors about how worthless book display services are a lucrative part of these events, and how they are mis-sold to inexperienced authors.

I’ve also written here about how book signing scams are a major source of income for vanity presses like Author Solutions (and a major source of heartache for the authors paying thousands of dollars and seeing little in return). While these articles have created awareness, not one of these events has taken action.

We aren’t talking about fly-by-night operators here – these are established, prestigious events like the Miami Book Fair or the LA Times Festival of Books. Most shockingly of all, the London Book Fair goes further than any of them.

On Tuesday, I wrote about a despicable trend: UK vanity presses who are shamelessly passing themselves off as legitimate trade publishers and only hitting authors with the news that they have to pay-to-play, and the (considerable) bill, when it comes to signing contracts.

One of the comments to that piece was particularly worrying:

Austin Macauley had a booth at LBF last year right in front of the Author HQ (I know, why would the good folks at LBF turn down a vanity publisher’s money, eh?), with one “publisher”, and 3, well… we decided to call them “booth babes”, holding a bunch of flyers and handing them to every passer by.

They basically combine all the cliches of a dodgy business — but the problem is that a lot of people will fall for these, and places like LBF keep putting them front and centre in their “self-publishing HQ.”

I was at the London Book Fair in 2013. The Author HQ is, like the name suggests, the focal point for writers at an event which is more geared towards publishers (and those providing services to publishers). Most of the author-focused events take place in that HQ area, and the passageways around it are where writers generally congregate. It’s probably the most heavily trafficked part of the fair (aside from the agents’ champagne bar).

And that’s where the organizers of the London Book Fair put vanity press Austin Macauley – the same one I wrote about on Tuesday which is masquerading as a trade publisher.

Could this have been an accident?

I called the London Book Fair this morning posing as a potential exhibitor called Arthur Kerr (sorry, couldn’t help it). Actually, the person I dealt with so nice and helpful that I felt terrible for the subterfuge, but I needed to establish some key points:

  1. It costs more to exhibit near the Author HQ, especially directly opposite same.
  2. Part of the deal (costing several thousand pounds) is a marketing package which includes “lead generation” – marketing speak for “we will deliver even more authors into your clutches.”
  3. No vetting whatsoever is done of exhibitors – even those who explicitly state they are engaged in author services and wish to take a stand directly opposite Author HQ. There were more questions about how many chairs I would like than what my “company” actually did (a big fat zero on the latter).

You might have guessed all of this already, but it was good to get it confirmed: the London Book Fair has absolutely no problem with exploitative author services being positioned where most writers will congregate.

Not only that, but the London Book Fair will also directly assist in whitewashing your reputation. Here is an interview with Austin Macauley conducted by the London Book Fair and hosted on their site, where they breathlessly describe them as “an energetic and imaginative independent trade publisher.”

Imaginative is one word for it.

I’m sure many of you are angry about this – and you have every right to be. This is the leading event of the UK publishing industry, and one of the most prestigious in the world. And the London Book Fair is not just allowing these guys to appear, but it’s actively generating leads for exploitative services, and directly engaging in PR efforts on their behalf to make them seem like legitimate publishers.

And it has to stop.

Here’s my proposal: the London Book Fair must immediately ban exploitative vanity presses and author services from appearing at its events. It has to end the practice of profiting from these predatory operators which are causing untold misery to authors across the UK.

Organizations like the Society of Authors should immediately back this call. If they can’t protect the most vulnerable writers from the worst of the worst, what’s the bloody point?

This is down to us authors. We can’t expect the publishing establishment to help us. Over 25,000 publishing professionals attend the London Book Fair every goddamn year and say nothing about this seedy crap.

Before I sign off, I’d like to deal with some reasonable objections that came up on Twitter when I floated this idea yesterday – primarily all variations on a theme. Namely, how do you define a vanity press or exploitative service? Where do you draw the line?

Well, if there is general agreement in principle that shady operators should be banned then working out the rest is just details. I’m skeptical the appetite is genuinely there, but I’ll play along.

I see two possible approaches:

  1. Start with the very worst operators and work from there. I’m sure that we (i.e. people like myself, Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware, Mick Rooney, the SFWA, and Orna Ross & the Watchdog team at the Alliance of Independent Authors) could easily come up with a solid list to start with – which I imagine would comprise of people like Archway, Tate, Austin Macauley, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Balboa Press, Partridge, America Star Books (formerly PublishAmerica), Strategic, Trafford, Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie, iUniverse etc.
  2. Alternatively, hammer out a working definition of a vanity press/exploitative service. Potential starting point: is this service making money with authors or from authors? If that all feels a bit loose, the Alliance of Independent Authors have put an incredible amount of work into a comprehensive scoring system for vanity presses/self-publishing platforms/author services which I’m sure they would be happy to share.

This problem can be solved – you just have to want to solve it.

I’ll leave you with this thought: vanity publishing and associated predatory services are generally assumed to be at the fringes of the industry. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The deeper I dig – five years of this, let me remind you – proves that these guys are centralto the industry, and that whole swathes of the publishing establishment is geared towards separating inexperienced writers from their money in incredibly dishonest ways. And we never even talk about it, let alone take action.

Because this is the modern publishing business.

Overdrive Helping Librarians Reach New Readers

Source: Overdrive Helping Librarians Reach New Readers

OverDriveOverdrive announced today that at the American Library Association’s annual conference, the ebook and audiobook provider will be updating the industry on its latest news, including a new app, new merchandising tools and new suppliers.

Full press release below:

OverDrive’s Innovative Digital Resources Help Librarians Reach New Readers
Powerful curation options give the librarian more control to merchandise digital books

ORLANDO, FL — June 23, 2016 — With so many options to find and read digital books, librarians often compete to bring in new readers. Now, librarians can compete with new resources similar to those used by top retailers and e-commerce sites. By featuring a selected eBook or audiobook and recommending titles so readers can easily find new books in their favorite genre, librarians are merchandising more books from their digital collection. Having librarians suggest additional titles will help readers discover alternative books and keep them coming back.

As librarians meet this week at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, industry-leading eBook and audiobook provider OverDrive (booth #651) will demonstrate innovations, curation and reporting tools designed to help libraries stay competitive and reach more people in their community.

1. The completely new OverDrive app will provide the easiest and fastest experience for readers to read eBooks and listen to audiobooks on a mobile device. Based on OverDrive Read® technology, the new app has been engineered from the ground up to quickly onboard first-time users. Readers will always be one click away from online or offline reading, discovering more titles at the library and managing their checkouts. At ALA, library partners will have the opportunity to join a closed beta test of the new OverDrive app.

2. New Merchandising Tools will get more digital books in the hands of readers. Upgrades to the new OverDrive website and user interface provide new ways for libraries to connect with their users. Specifically, consortia libraries that are Advantage members, will continue to benefit from the consortium’s curated collections, but will also have the option to create and publish custom collections that are of interest to their local community. In addition, each library has options for their own unique, static URL to better promote their digital collection. These websites will be rolled out to the OverDrive network beginning in the fall.

3. Digital Book Clubs. Libraries are using Digital Book Clubs to connect with readers. Libraries around the world are increasingly using their OverDrive platform to host and promote “eBook Reading Clubs” enabling dozens of “city read” or “one book, one community” programs.
Publishers are capitalizing on this growing trend by offering libraries eBooks and audiobooks under simultaneous use or bulk discount plans. For example, independent publisher Sourcebooks has created a catalog specifically for library Digital Book Clubs.

4. Circulation and Demand Analysis. At no cost, OverDrive partners can receive a comprehensive Digital Library Performance Analysis. This advanced report not only displays circulation growth, but it also compares a library’s digital circulation to libraries of similar size and population around the country. It shows how a digital collection is performing and can be narrowed down for a closer look at genre, audience and format. This comparison helps librarians identify gaps in their collection or system features to deliver the most valuable digital library experience for readers.

5. Dozens of New Suppliers and Collection Development Tools. OverDrive’s global eBook catalog now offers thousands of comics and graphic novels, including new additions from DC Comics and Viz Media. Public libraries and schools can now offer their readers titles such as Batman: The Killing Joke and popular manga titles such as Naruto, which has sold millions worldwide. In addition, thousands of new titles are now available in dozens of languages, including large collections in Spanish, Polish, French and German. Finally, based on valuable partner feedback, OverDrive has added BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) subject headings to OverDrive titles for enhanced searching. The change is live first in OverDrive Marketplace and will be added to customer-facing websites later.

6. The NEW Digital Bookmobile. Building on the appreciation for the traditional bookmobile, as well as its inaugural tour from 2008-2015, OverDrive is updating the Digital Bookmobile. In 2017, a brand new Digital Bookmobile experience will hit the road on a North American tour to promote the local library’s and school’s digital service in new and exciting ways.

As lifestyles continue to get busier and technologies advance, people are taking advantage of eBooks and digital audiobooks more than ever. A recent Pew Research Report noted that awareness of eBook availability at libraries increased more than 20 percent among the general population in just the last year alone. As of April 2016, three out of every five adults now say they know their local libraries offer eBook lending programs. The innovations OverDrive is presenting at ALA correlates with the strong upswing in digital circulation libraries are experiencing at their OverDrive-powered websites.

For more information, visit OverDrive in booth #651 at ALA.

About OverDrive
OverDrive is the leading digital distribution platform, supplying the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 34,000 libraries and schools worldwide. We support all major computers and devices, including iOS®, Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle® (U.S. only). OverDrive delivers all digital media on a single platform, and offers innovations such as OverDrive Read, the breakthrough EPUB and HTML5 browser-based reading experience, and Read-Along eBooks. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and is owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and our blog.

9 Eye-Popping Visuals To Attract More Social Shares

Welcome back – today’s blog post is certainly a keeper from Jeff Bullas’ blog. I’ve been reading his blog for a long time and always learn something new. Drop by the original and sign up to subscribe to Jeff’s blog!

Source: 9 Eye-Popping Visuals To Attract More Social Shares

9 Eye-Popping Visuals To Attract More Social Shares

It’s no secret that including visuals in your blog posts can lead to increased traffic and content sharing.

Using eye catching visuals in your posts is a key element for successful content marketing.

Studies completed over the last decade have shown:

Blog posts with images get 94% more views
Readers connect with images in just 13 milliseconds (or less)
Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text

These findings all seem to point to one and only one thing:

It’s important to use visuals!

Below are 9 types of images you can use to break-up large chunks of text, make your post visually appealing and get tons of shares.

1. Quote images

Quotes are a great way to illustrate a point. In fact, in “The 4 Hour Workweek” writer Tim Ferriss introduced a new lesson with a quote.

Dodging bullets quote - example of visuals to get more social shares

That helped him illustrate the point more easily.

Quote graphics are a marvelous way to make your post visually appealing as well as get to the point quickly. Here’s an example…

Quinn Whissen’s post on Business2Community used the quote graphic below in the post.

Robert rose quote - example of visuals to get more social shares

How to add Quote Graphics?

Find a quote relevant to your blog post. Google “Your Keyword” + “Quote” to find quotes for your blog post.
Next thing is to make it visually appealing which you do by using these tools:


2. Stock photography

Stock photography has a lot more to say, if you use the right images. While, cheesy business photos may lead a visitor to close the tab!

But on the other hand, using the right type of stock photographs can show your emotional side and will greatly boost engagement on your blog post.

Quick Sprout is a great example to include here. Many posts of Neil Patel start with a powerful stock image to grab the attention of the reader. Here’s an example:

Neil Patel - example of visuals to get more social shares

Here’re some of the sites to find stock photos for your posts:
Death to Stock Photo
New Old Stock
Morgue File
Flickr’s Creative Commons Search

3. Screenshots

Screenshots are a great way to visually explain your points.

That’s why most people prefer to use screenshots, not only to make blog posts more visually appealing, but also to add authenticity and support the key points of the post.

In this post about email marketing best practices, Jimmy Daly, content crafter at Vero Blog, used a screenshot to add authenticity.

Alex Turnbull - example of visuals to get more social shares

It can also be beneficial to draw arrows in screenshots. This way the reader can understand your point easily and quickly. Like, this one by AppSumo:

AppSumo - example of visuals to get more social shares

These are some tools you can use to capture a screenshot:

Awesome Screenshot

4. Charts and graphs

Many times it will happen – When you need to support your statement with some cold hard facts.

While there’s nothing wrong with simply explaining it, the same point can be made with much more credibility by using a chart or graph.

When it comes to content marketing, they are a rare gem to find. Charts can convey your data strongly and will also help you grab more shares from your blog posts.

In Huffington Post’s article about Why content goes viral, BuzzSumo used charts and graphs to validate every bit of data.

OkDork graph - example of visuals to get more social shares

Tools to create charts and graphs:

Google Spreadsheet

5. Personal Photos

Personal photos are a great way to show your human side. Readers directly connect with these photos helping you deepen the relationship.

Here’s an example;

Neil Patel wrote a great post on Quick Sprout, “How Spending $162,301 on Clothes Made Me $692,500

In it, he shared his personal experience and also added lots of personal photos like this.

Neil Patel 2 - example of visuals to get more social shares

Not only did he use this image but also many other personal photos to connect with his audience.

6. Infographics

Infographics are one of the most shared posts on social media.

Not only do they attract tons of shares but they also help you grab links to build your SEO power.

In fact, KISSmetrics got 41,142 links by using 47 infographics in just one year.

Infographics are very useful for breaking down your blog post into an easily understandable step-by-step lesson.

Notice how Copyblogger used infographics to feature the 9 biggest goofs businesses make with their landing pages.


DIY Tools for creating Infographics:


Here are some websites to hire designers:


7. Cartoons and Comics

Images are often a much more powerful medium than text.

Cartoons and comics are even better as they are humorous which makes you smile and laugh.

In a blog post on Writtent about content marketing mistakes, Jared Woods used cartoons to explain his points and add some humor, like this one:

Influencer cartoon - example of visuals to get more social shares

Where to find cartoons for your blog posts:

Universal UClick

8. Custom art

Custom images are a great way to boost your brand’s authority.

They make your blog post visually appealing by breaking down the big paragraphs and making your blog post easy to digest.

CoSchedule is a great example to include here. Usually, their blog posts use custom art to highlight any important point. Like this one;

CoSchedule - example of visuals to get more social shares

Designing custom art used to be expensive, but not anymore. Today with the great tools out there, you can easily create custom photos for little to no cost in just seconds.


9. Animated images

Last in the list is animated gifs.

In the age of Images and Videos, animated gifs too are enjoying rise in popularity. It’s always fun to spice up your content marketing with animated gifs.

You can always include humble animated gifs to draw the attention of the visitor.

How to create animated images?

While the majority of projects require hiring a graphic designer to create animated images, you can also use tools like Jing or you can make any YouTube video a GIF!

Lastly, 101 strategies to convert shares into subscribers


Because who knows if those people who shared your blog post will return to your site or not?

If they’re on your email list, you can email them every time you publish a blog post and get the same engagement from every post.

That’s why I’ve included a sweet bonus for you. This bonus will share 101 strategies to get more email subscribers from your post.

Download this elite bonus for free

Guest Author: Aman Thakur shows aspiring bloggers and marketers simple and effective ways to grow their email list and get more return from them. Download his free eBook – 101 list building ways to grow massive email list quickly.


The post 9 Eye-Popping Visuals To Attract More Social Shares appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.


The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Following

Source: The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Following

The post that I’m sharing today comes to us from Jeff Barrett from the Hootsuite blog. Hootsuite for those who are unfamiliar is social media management software. I find their blog to be very informative. Check it out.

There is strength in numbers on social media. Even if you’re not trying to be an influencer, social capital has its value. Whether it’s purely perception or designed for lead generation, the size of your audience matters now.

When I speak, my audience is usually entrepreneurs or aspiring media professionals. The most common question I get from both groups is, “How do I grow a following?”

That’s a tough question. Like with a lot of pursuits, there is no single answer. It can be achieved in a variety of ways. But from someone who has built an audience, I can share what I have learned. And this may surprise you, I would have done some things differently.

Reach beyond your audience

Most of the advice I see for growing a following centers around content. Expecting that better content alone will grow your following is like believing in unicorns. It sounds amazing, but there is no proof. Content is important but it’s only part of the mix. You also have to think beyond your existing audience. Determine how to appeal to other audiences.

For example, I’m in PR. If I only talked about PR and appealed to PR professionals then there would be a cap to my growth. So I slowly, strategically and methodically began to identify and connect with groups one degree separate from my own. I started talking about advertising and entertainment. I created humorous content around pop culture—carefully tying it all back to my PR experience. Because of this, I could talk about pop culture. I began interjecting myself into all trending conversation. This year I have started talking about politics because it is, to an extent, related to PR. Being funny about the political circus got me in the door—now I’m starting to speak intelligently about the Syrian refugee crisis and brokered conventions.

Trust content

No person is just one thing. Share more of yourself, branch out and you’ll be able to grow your audience. There are a million ways to find and connect with new audiences, but you have to make that connection stick. Responding to questions from your audience quickly and honestly, and providing feedback are great ways to engage. Live streaming and podcasts are both great ways to allow people to get to know you. The more people know about you, the deeper they can connect.

People connect with real people over robots. Engaging with your audience in an authentic way is one of the strongest ways to build connections and engage others.

Maximize points of visibility

Look to sources outside of social media to help elevate your following. This is something I didn’t do enough in the beginning. You can spend all day on social media trying to grow your following but one media appearance can achieve months’ worth of work. Create as many points of visibility as you can. Go on local news, guest blog, do whatever you can at first but continue to keep networking up so you can increase opportunities for visibility.

Q&A with Twiends CEO Dave Sumter

I’m only one opinion. So I asked a friend—Dave Sumter, CEO of social directory Twiends—because he works every day with a mass of people looking to build a following.

What are the do’s and don’ts in building a following?

There are a lot of ways to achieve follower growth. Generally the best approach is to be honest in your intentions when connecting with new people, interact well, and add value to everyone’s feed. This may sound like a lot of fluff, so let me give you some real world examples:

Don’ts: Buying followers on any service that quotes you X followers for $ is a big no-no. These are all generally fake accounts created with the sole purpose of following you. Another bad option is resorting to interaction tricks—such as following large groups of people and then unfollowing them after they’ve followed you (known as churning). Both of these approaches will make your follower count go up, but will not add value to you or your followers. And both could land you in hot-water with Twitter.

Do’s: This side of the camp is actually full of great options, such as featured promotion, Twitter ads, contests, targeted content, Twitter chats, and many more. It’s best to try and grow your audience and engagement at the same time. A common approach is using something like Twiends to do broad-based featured promotion, or Twitter ads to do targeted promotion, and then use contests, polls, Twitter chats, visual tweeting, and daily interacting to grow engagement with those new followers. Twiends and Twitter ads provide the reach, and the later options provide the ‘conversion.’ Most people skip the later part and move straight to ‘broadcasting.’ This unfortunately doesn’t work—as in real life you need to take the time to bond with people before they’ll listen to you.

Why is having a large online presence valuable?

There are so many benefits to having a large online presence, most notably being able to get your message out and influence others in line with your goals. Whether it’s getting the word out about a new initiative or asking for feedback about something important, it’s an incredibly useful tool in this new digital world we live in. It’s like being able to walk into a room and ask 100 people what they think about an idea. In the past, companies had to spend thousands of dollars doing customer research, now anyone can do it multiple times a day.

The real power though is that this can be done in a casual and conversational way, continually and forever. You can build real connections with your customers, peers, colleagues, or with anybody who shares your interests. You can provide real-time support to those who need help, build your brand, or even subtly plug your product. But it does take time to build, and it’s not just about adding followers. That’s just the first step, and it should be combined with building a great timeline, building engagement, and of course connecting with people at a slightly deeper level.


The post The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Following appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

This is How You Find Your Readers

Source: This is How You Find Your Readers

  • Where can I find readers? someone asks me at least once daily.
  • Who is your demographic? Most authors have no idea.
  • How do I connect with them? What’s the best channel?
  • Is Social Media just for teens?

It’s not a mystery, but it does take some research, effort, and digging to answer these questions. And no, social is not just for teens. That’s so 2005.

Let’s deconstruct. Finding your perfect reader, RachelintheOC,

Who Is Your Demographic?

What is your reader most likely to carry in their handbag or briefcase (great exercise from my publisher’s cofounder, Katherine Fye Sears)? This should give you quite the insight.

Make a list. Is your reader a teen girl, a middle-aged stay-at-home parent, or a blue-collar worker? Write it all down. Then, head over to these resources:

  • Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that provides tons of great info about our world. Enter whatever search terms you’re looking for about demographics and it’s likely in there. All free info.
  • Hubspot: one of my favorite marketing blogs, hands down. If you know nothing about demographics or marketing, this is a great place to start! Their services are spendy, but the blog is free.
  • Buffer: next to Hubspot, my next favorite marketing and social media blog. Their blog is free, also, and separated by topics of interest.

Once you’ve determined who your demo is, you’ll have a better idea where to find them.

Where Can I Find my Readers?

I just finished up my Free 30-day Book Marketing Challenge (and am now writing the book, out soon from Booktrope!) and received quite a bit of feedback from authors, bloggers, and small business people. One of the biggest concerns from authors, especially, is their discomfort about being on any social media channel beyond Facebook.

This is too bad, because readers are everywhere! Facebook is indeed the largest social media channel in the world, so being there is definitely important. Remember, however, that you must use your author page (not personal ‘friends’ account), for marketing and selling your work.

Example: connecting with readers, particularly if an author writes YA (Young Adult), is about being where readers are, and that’s on social media channels like Twitter, SnapChat, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and newer channels I probably haven’t even heard of yet.If you write nonfiction, channels like Medium, StumbleUpon, and Twitter are key. If you’re an expert in some kind of business, LinkedIn can be critical to your success.

And don’t forget Goodreads!

Let’s actually look at the data (Source: Pew Research):

According to the last full survey of social media done by the Pew Research Center in September, 2014 (wow, think how much has already changed since then), here’s the breakdown by channel:


71% of adult internet users/58% of entire adult population

Fully 71% of online American adults use Facebook, a proportion unchanged from August 2013. Usage among seniors continues to increase. Some 56% of internet users ages 65 and older now use Facebook, up from 45% who did so in late 2013 and 35% who did so in late 2012. Women are also particularly likely to use Facebook compared with men, a trend that continues from prior years.


23% of adult internet users/19% of entire adult population

Some 23% of online adults currently use Twitter, a statistically significant increase compared with the 18% who did so in August 2013. Twitter is particularly popular among those under 50 and the college-educated. Compared with late 2013, the service has seen significant increases among a number of demographic groups: men, whites, those ages 65 and older, those who live in households with an annual household income of $50,000 or more, college graduates, and urbanites.


26% of adult internet users/21% of entire adult population

Some 26% of online adults use Instagram, up from 17% in late 2013. Almost every demographic group saw a significant increase in the proportion of users. Most notably, 53% of young adults ages 18-29 now use the service, compared with 37% who did so in 2013. Besides young adults, women are particularly likely to be on Instagram, along with Hispanics and African-Americans, and those who live in urban or suburban environments.


28% of adult internet users/22% of entire adult population

Some 28% of online adults use Pinterest, up from the 21% who did so in August 2013. Women continue to dominate the site, as they did in 2013: fully 42% of online women are Pinterest users, compared with just 13% of men (although men did see a significant increase in usership from 8% in 2013). While Pinterest remains popular among younger users, there was an 11-point increase between 2013 and 2014 in the proportion of those 50 and older who use the site. Other demographic groups that saw a notable increase in usership include whites, those living in the lowest- and highest-income households, those with at least some college experience, and suburban and rural residents.


28% of adult internet users/23% of entire adult population

Some 28% of online adults are LinkedIn users, up from 22% in August 2013. The site continues to be particularly popular among college graduates, those in higher-income households and the employed (although the increase in usage by those who are not employed to 21% from 12% in 2013 is notable). College graduates continue to dominate use of the site. Fully 50% use LinkedIn, a 12-point increase since last year. It is the only platform where those ages 30-64 are more likely to be users than those ages 18-29.

Hopefully, the next update will include sites like Snapchat, Vine, Periscope, and other channels which have captured some of the pie. Not sure where YouTube and Google+ are either, as both are owned by Google and clearly critical to our SEO/SMO ranking.

How Do I Connect With Readers? What’s The Best Channel?

The best way to connect with readers is to pay attention to this research, understand what your author branding is (what are your key topics of interest?), and share interesting and compelling articles, quotes, and visuals about those topics consistently on the channels where your the readers of your demographic are.

What’s your genre? What’s the age range? If you’re sticking to Facebook because you refuse to try out something new, and your readers are Middle Grade, well, good luck to you.

The best social media channel is the one that connects you to readers.

It’s not rocket science — none of these social media channels are that difficult to figure out, so here’s my suggestion:

  • Pick at least three social channels and follow/connect with readers, not other authors (or not ONLY other authors)
  • learn how to use these channels via YouTube tutorials or their Help Sections (most are very user friendly),
  • download the mobile apps so you can use them on the go as well,
  • and just START.

Networkinggirl hair moving unsplash

Social media isn’t just for teenagers, so throw out that old, silly notion. Sure, teens use it and have phones growing out of their hands, but so do most adults at this point. Social media is an integral part of any author’s platform, and it needs to part of yours, too. Social is social, and it’s how adults and professionals network. Every one of my clients comes to me via online connections, mostly through social media, referrals, and networking.

Tip: I find it’s really helpful to join groups on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn — not the ‘buy my book!’ promo groups most authors join, but groups with other interests (i.e., women’s groups, professionals, wellness, etc.), to sincerely build relationships and network. Eventually, someone will find out about your books and the news will spread like wildfire. Trust me.

Do the work.

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Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo)

All content © 2016 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified.
All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.




How To Build An Instagram Following From Scratch

Source: How To Build An Instagram Following From Scratch

How To Build An Instagram Following From Scratch

Right before our eyes, Instagram is becoming a social media powerhouse.

It is penetrating more and more of the population every day, with over 400 million monthly active users.

It plays on the visual obsession of our minds, and taps into the short attention spans of a generation. A bit like a combination of Twitter and Pinterest.

Along with its rapid growth, comes a unique marketing opportunity for brands. And if you’re not ready to ride the wave, you are missing a big opportunity.

Now is the best time to get started with Instagram – it’s popular, fun, growing, and has huge engagement levels. Not to mention a LOT of brands aren’t making the most of it yet.

Whether you’re creating your personal profile or managing your company’s account, the following tactics will help you build an Instagram following from scratch.

1. Map out your strategy

Before anything else, you need to create a strategy for your Instagram activity.

Here are some questions to help you flesh out a plan:

What are you trying to do on Instagram?

You want to build a community that engages each other to create positive change; you want to drive followers to your website and convert them into paying customers.

How will Instagram grow your business?

Having a group of brand enthusiasts will spread your message large and wide and sell your products for you. Drive targeted traffic back to your website. Strengthen brand awareness and foster new partnerships.

What do your audience want on Instagram?

Instagrammers are in constant “scanning” mode – they either like something or they don’t. Instagram is about capturing real moments, so you need to talk to your audience in their language: be positive, be inspiring, be authentic. Nail down your client avatar and see where a bunch of them hang out.

What words, hashtags and filters do they use? Who do they follow? Check out the top 100 hashtags from Websta and search relevant keywords and discover popular accounts. 

Once you get the basics down, you can start building your Instagram following.

2. Create your profile

Setting up your Instagram profile is quite easy and you only have to add your information in a few sections:

Choose your profile image

It should be relevant to your business –your logo, or a photo of your product:

Starbucks profile - how to build an instagram following

Add your bio

When you’re not an uber popular brand, your bio has got to be more compelling. You can use up to 200 characters to create your bio and tell people why they should follow you and what’s in it for them.

You can spice it up with various symbols:

Symbols - how to build an instagram following

You can directly access your bio through this link and search for characters and symbols here.

Also, you can encourage followers to share images relevant to your business using your own hashtag.

Add your website URL

Adding a link to your Bio is easy and helps to put your followers down the path to purchase. Just make sure the link takes them to a mobile-friendly landing page.

Foundr Magazine - how to build an instagram following

3. Setup a content plan

First, set goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) so you know where you’re going. These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference:

Goal: A desired outcome.
KPIs: Key metrics showing whether your performance is good enough to reach your outcome.

Here’s an example:

Goal: Have 1k followers .
KPIs: Number of likes, comments, shares, mentions, shoutouts.

Once you set your goals, create an editorial calendar to automate your input and make sure your goals become inevitable. Tools you can use: Iconosquare, ScheduGram or Simply Measured (or a good old spreadsheet).

Only share images that best illustrate the story your brand is trying to tell, and trigger emotions that make people feel part of your story. The anatomy of a successful Instagram post is beautiful imagery, compelling overlaying text, post descriptions, mentions, hashtags and emojis.

Here are the most effective types of posts:

Brand-related images

As humans, we’re wired to make judgments and attach emotionally to everything we see. Sharing beautiful images is a great way to communicate complex messages to your audience and make them feel certain ways: curios, excited, happy, proud, nostalgic, hopeful, etc.

The biggest names on Instagram are harnessing the real power of visual storytelling. So, whether you have images of your products or of results created by your products (e.g. happy clients), use Instagram to creatively communicate why your business matters.

Starbucks post example - how to build an instagram following

See how Starbucks uses creative images to communicate their message in a unique way. They focus on a powerful storytelling approach that includes their logo and feelings associated with their product.

Reactive storytelling

Reactive storytelling is a combination of a hot trend and a compelling marketing message. This method lets you leverage an everlasting truth, a timely event or idea to build an instant connection with your audience.

Big brands like Oreo are using reactive storytelling successfully to create viral content that generates buzz and immediate response from their followers.

Oreo - how to build an instagram following

Inspirational quotes

The ultimate recipe for viral, buzzy content is to trigger strong emotions. Inspirational quotes are a great way to get more shares, likes, comments with your brand. The stronger the emotion, the more likely people will react to your content.

Inspirational quotes - how to build an instagram following

If you’re starting from scratch, prepare 10 images and spread them throughout the next three days. In terms of engagement, a Track Maven report shows that big brands get an average of 37 likes and comments for every 1k followers. This means that if you’ve got 100 followers, you should expect to get 3.7 interactions (likes and comments) per post.

4. Build influencer relationships

Aside from growing your audience, you can reach out to influencers in your niche and build all sorts of partnerships, like Free offers for Shares or Paid Shoutouts. The easiest route is to network with Instagram Direct.

Just like Snapchat, Instagram Direct allows you to send photos and videos to others (privately) like a private message on Facebook. Only you and the recipient can see it. Use popular hashtags in your niche to spot the influencers and DM with an offer.

5. Manage your profile

Now that all the elements are put into place, you need to keep an eye on your feed, followers and niche. Iconosquare is a very easy to use tool that lets you view and browse Instagram from within their interface and offers a lot of data (e.g. growth charts, engagement rates, best times to post and more).

A web viewer for Instagram is Squarelovin.

Square lovin - how to build an instagram following

This tool lets you see how many photos you’ve shared, the total number of likes and comments you’ve got, how many accounts you’re following. You can also see followers based on their location, your follower growth rate, new and dropped followers and more.

Final words

Instagram is a pretty straightforward platform, no need to over-complicate it. Remain clear and creative in your communication and interact with your audience every day. Instagram is a mobile-based platform, so any URLs you share should lead people to mobile-friendly pages.

The amazing interest in visual content is only going to go up in the future, so there’s no better time to get started with Instagram than today. It’s the best platform to share your authentic brand message and develop a unique voice in your community.

But Instagram’s real value consists of seeing how people interact with your brand and how they’re spreading your message. Last but not least, make sure you integrate Instagram with other social outlets to increase your influence and reach to as many people as possible.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Instagram and see how it’s working for your business, so share your experience in the comments below.

Guest Author: Sarah Williams is a Berlin based entrepreneur and lifestyle blogger. On her blog Wingman Magazine she helps people to discover their true potential, have better relationships, boost careers and feel great in their own skin.

The post How To Build An Instagram Following From Scratch appeared first on Jeffbullas’s Blog.