Knowing your comp authors is increasingly important these days, but writers tend to tie themselves into knots with the concept. Today, I’ll explain a very simple way to cut through all the noise and determine your true comp authors, but also detail why that line-up should change considerably depending on the context.
Comp Authors Explained
Let’s start with the basics before scaling up the complexity and getting deep into ads: “comp author” is publishing shorthand for “comparable author.” You might also hear people these days in indieworld using it in phrases like “know your comps,” or “target your comp authors.” Or you might come across the phrase “comp title” more frequently in traditional publishing.
Originally, the phrase was used by publishing professionals as shorthand to describe a given author’s voice in marketing communications and sales pitches. An agent might shop your book to a publisher describing your sizzling romantic suspense as “EL James meets Lisa Jackson,” and the acquiring editor will know right away that she’s in for a dark, twisty story where the sex isn’t just open door – the windows are probably open too. Read More…
Mailchimp made some major changes recently which were received very negatively – causing many users to flee into the arms of alternatives like MailerLite.
I moved to MailerLite myself last month and have been very happy with the change but there are a few things you need to watch out for, whether you have multiple, big lists with lots of automations, or are still growing on the free plans. This post should guide you through all the issues.
First we run over the differences between Mailchimp and MailerLite – things like free plans, pricing, features, and integrations, and which of those differences really matter. Next we look at the steps involved in physically moving your list across to MailerLite. This is actually the easiest part of the whole process, but there are important things to look out for. With that taken care of, we move on to more advanced topics like switching over your automations, what to do about those pesky website forms and sign-up links, and also how to sweep up any stray Mailchimp forms out there in the wild so you don’t have precious reader sign-ups going to the wrong place. That last part can be tricky. Read More…
Mailchimp attracted extreme criticism this week when it became clear how its new marketing services would impact its core email offering — particularly in terms of pricing — leading many long-time users to start explore alternatives (including this one).
I have been a loyal and happy Mailchimp customer for over eight years. I have also recommended Mailchimp to thousands of other authors. There have always been cheaper services, or those with more bells-and-whistles when it comes to advanced automation options and the like, but — for me at least — Mailchimp was always the perfect combination of price, user friendliness, and reliability.
Until yesterday. Read More…
Reader Targeting is yet another concept we have to juggle. It’s no wonder many writers take to the drink, or otherwise lose the run of themselves. Or can be a little… kooky. We have to wrestle with a number of contradictory notions all the time — it’s enough to make anyone batty.
The most obvious is with the writing itself: we need at least some level of ego to push something out into the world and ask money for it. But we also must have the requisite critical faculties to see what’s wrong with it and to motivate ourselves to fix it, and to otherwise work on our craft until the things we make are as good as we need them to be.
(As a famous editor once put it — Nan Talese maybe? — those first few years, when our taste is much more developed than our skills, are tough.)
The experienced author isn’t done with these trying dichotomies though; one in particular that we all continue to struggle with is between our artistic natures, and our commercial sensibilities. It’s not so much about what to write or how to write it — most pros can navigate that part. The battlegrounds are elsewhere, things like cover design, series titles, descriptions, branding.
And one more surprising, perhaps: reader targeting. Read More…
What is an author platform? Which elements should it contain? And is any of this stuff more important than just writing another book? Perhaps not. But certain aspects of an author platform are important tools for reaching readers and, especially, for holding on to them.
The topic can be confusing as everyone seems to be mean something different by the term. And then this problem is compounded by a lot of terrible advice proliferating, quite frankly. Number-chasing nonsense which doesn’t serve anyone.
Even the term “platform” seems to be quite nebulous and elastic — fertile ground for snake-oil salesmen. Let’s nail that down first: Read More…
Marketing these days can feel like tackling a high-wire on a unicycle… while juggling chainsaws. And that’s for experienced authors. For those with lower budgets or fewer books, the challenge can seem like entering the World Ice-Sculpting Championships armed with a box of matches and an ice cube.
Because what you are aiming to do is this:
* Sell enough to rise in the Best Seller Lists and get seen by lots of new readers.
* Shift sufficient units over an extended period to jump up the Popularity List and get pushed en masse to Amazon customers via emails and on-site recommendations.
* Keep that higher level of sales consistent enough over at least four or five days – i.e. minimizing spikes and, especially, dips throughout – hoping to convince the Kindle Store algorithms that you are the real deal, whereupon they may take over and do the selling for you.
Errr, and this also:
* Exclusively target the right readers so that your conversion rates are decent and the bloodthirsty Amazon algorithms don’t take your book to the woodshed.
*Avoid having the wrong readers purchase, so your Also Boughts are in fine fettle and Amazon has a clear idea of who might like your book. If this get muddled, Amazon will start recommending you to all the wrong people, often a one-way ticket to the primordial ranking ooze.
At this point, you might be planning some quality time with a bottle of vodka. Read More…
Many people try BookBub Ads and fail. There is a learning curve – no doubt about that. If you tried the platform without adequately preparing, and without knowing how the system works, you probably got cleaned out. I still have scars from my first time. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
BookBub Ads Expert will show you a whole range of uses for Bookbub Ads, from supporting a launch or reviving backlist, to boosting a permafree, creating an international audience, or pushing an entire series at once. And there’s also lots of ninja tricks and killer moves to take your ad game to the next level. Read More…
Author websites are an increasingly important tool, but one that can cause a lot of aggravation. While most people have a handle on the basic set-up needed, they can quickly run into issues when trying to level up; these days your Author HQ needs to be slicker than the cobbled together afterthought we got away with a few years ago.
There are a bunch of solutions out there, but most aren’t fit for purpose in one way or another — either too expensive, overly complex, or just not attuned to the specific needs of the modern writer.
GoCreate.Me addresses all these problems with a selection of free and premium themes designed specifically for authors. I’m using one of their themes here at DavidGaughran.com myself and it is wonderful — with so much cool stuff going on at the back-end which will make your life easier. And it’s just plain nice to use, which is big for me after previous struggles. These days, I only use WordPress themes which spark joy. Read More…
I’ve been self-publishing for seven years. That’s quite a long period to be screwing up almost the entire time, but I managed it! My whole approach to email was backwards. I did all the don’ts, ignored all the warnings, missed out on so many opportunities to build myself a happy and engaged audience of readers that it causes me literal pain when I think about it. I don’t say this to elicit sympathy. Rather, I hope that my long experience of doing exactly the wrong things can act as a deterrent—a giant sign made of bones spelling out “Here Be Wolves.”
What did I do exactly? I only emailed people when I had a new release. I thought I was being considerate and not clogging up everyone’s inboxes when, in reality, I was only turning up at their door when I wanted something: their money. This was compounded by my slow production speed, particularly with those painstakingly researched historical novels I seem to enjoy writing for some reason. That problem was further exacerbated by working in more than one genre, so the books came out even slower and the emails were even less frequent. Clearly, I felt I wasn’t antagonizing my most loyal readers enough with this set-up, so I decided to have one Frankenlist—my fiction and non-fiction peeps all lumped together—neatly ensuring that everyone really wouldn’t care about at least 50% of the (increasingly infrequent) messages I was sending out. Read More…
BookBub Ads is the platform where I’ve seen most growth in the last year, to the point where it is rivaling Facebook on some campaigns, especially when you factor in the higher conversion rates you usually see. This means that the amount of ad money I can spend effectively on BookBub — and by that I mean get an immediate return on investment — has quadrupled in the last twelve months.
This might sound incredible, in the literal sense, to anyone who hasn’t cracked BookBub Ads yet. It can be an unusual platform for those more used to Facebook or Amazon Ads, leading to an unexpected learning curve, perhaps. But I find that if you take the time to understand what works on BookBub, it’s the most responsive and consistent ad platform out there. Getting over that first hump is where many authors seem to struggle though. I know that from running an eight-part series on BookBub Ads to my mailing list earlier this year.
Well, there’s help on the way. I’ll have a book called BookBub Ads Expert coming very soon — make sure to sign up to my list to hear about that first and get an exclusive launch discount that will be offered nowhere else — and I have a wonderful guest post today to give you a headstart while you’re waiting for that. Read More…
Most web traffic is now mobile, but we can forget that when thinking how to make a pretty Facebook Page, leading to ugly header images that are cropped in weird ways — a terrible first impression to prospective new readers.
The tipping point with mobile was probably reached some time in late 2016 or early 2017, yet here we are in 2018, often still optimizing for desktop, when most of our customers are accessing our web pages and viewing our ads on mobile devices of some description — not just phones but tablets of all kinds too.
When I was redesigning this website, I was very conscious of that and made sure it was responsive and looked good for all screen sizes. And that requires more than just the screen resizing and things still being legible and images rendering correctly and buttons still working and navigation still easy. You also have to think about things like sign-up pages and sidebars and all that other stuff too. Read More…
A real horror story has been slowly building for the last year or so and I’m getting a lot of emails on the topic so it’s time to deal with this head-on: what the hell is going on with Also Boughts?
For those unaware, the strip of books right which are usually placed underneath your product description on Amazon, headlined with “Customers who bought this item also bought” are popularly known as “Also Boughts” and have become the subject of much attention lately, as our knowledge of their importance grows in tandem with Amazon’s seeming desire to muck about with them.
First their importance: if you have read Amazon Decoded you will already know just how critical Also Boughts are and can skip ahead. For the rest of you, Amazon’s system is always trying to determine what kind of products you personally are most likely to purchase, so that it can display more of those to you. One thing it looks at very closely is the connection between products. People who buy printers tend to buy ink, for example, and recommending a printer-buyer some ink to purchase will elicit a lot of clicks. Read More…
When I discovered self-publishing back in 2010 it was, as for many, a dream come true after the familiar cycle of sending out manuscripts only to get a rejection six or seven weeks later. At last I would be able to get my children’s stories out and take the world by storm!
Except, of course, it doesn’t work like that…
As we all know, books don’t sell themselves and Amazon and the other platforms (not to mention bricks and mortar bookshops) won’t sell our books without our help. Of course, a great story, great cover, compelling blurb, appropriate metadata and category selection are all critical to get us off to the right start. However, to introduce and sell your title to your target market – and, crucially, keep it in their line of sight – you also need a robust marketing plan that includes a mix of social media, advertising, email marketing, traditional PR, and (for some more than others) live events.
For authors who just want to be writers, this is a tall order at the best of times. And, for children’s authors, it’s even taller… Read More…
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Using our patented SkullMasque technology, we can directly map your flexible ethics and ruthless approach directly onto the neural patterns of your own newly raised undead army, who will then spam customers on your behalf so you can relax on the beach and write disingenuous articles about how you made your money! Read More…
I have a wonderful guest post today from author Nicholas Erik – a skilled marketer with a keen analytical mind, who will show you how to analyze the profitability of your paid ads, so you can sell more books. It’s easily the longest post we’ve had here – over 4,000 words – but it’s worth settling in for this excellent, comprehensive guide which will have something useful for all self-publishers, from beginners to experts. Here’s Nick with more:
As the title might suggest, this guide is all about how to analyze the profitability of your paid ads to help you sell more books. The step-by-step system outlined within is effective for both promo sites and pay-per-click (PPC) platforms such as Facebook Ads, Amazon Advertising, and BookBub.
If you follow the steps in this guide, you’ll have solid numbers on which to base your advertising decisions—instead of making guesses regarding their profitability. Read More…