Category Archives: book marketing

Author Branding MYTHS

People often equate “branding” with “visual brand identity”, but it’s not the same thing. Branding is a much wider term.

Nowadays most authors are researching like crazy to discover the best methods to promote their books. But not every author can relate to why they need a brand, they have a blog and book cover, some social media accounts… done and branded right? Nope!

“My book is the product, and a good book sells itself through word of mouth marketing.”

Before I even get into the myths of author branding let me tell you what author branding is…

Author branding is the image you portray through your writing, your communication with your network and readers, the products you sell, and the visual identity that represents all of that.

Your brand should be seamless and spread across your entire online platform and throughout your business with letterhead, business cards, logo, etc.

There are many things to consider before developing your brand, but we can get into that on another post.

I know how confusing branding can be so my point for this post is to clarify what author branding “is not.”

Check It Out:

MYTH 1

I already have a great brand so I don’t need to do any work.

FACT

Your brand needs constant polishing to keep it shiny. The image you want to send to your readers is what you want to keep up all the time. If you’re the down-to-earth millionaire’s coach, then keep on doing things that will remind people that that is who you are. People are fickle-minded. All of a sudden, they might change their minds just because they can. If a new book enters your niche and catches their attention, you can lose your readers just because they want to try out something new. So keep updating your brand. Making little changes to your platforms look and advertising campaign to make sure that people can still see that you are around and you’re keeping true to their brand.

MYTH 2

I already know my brand. I don’t have to boast about it.

FACT

Brands exist in the mind of consumers. The definition of branding says that it is about your relationship with your readers. It’s not about what you think of yourself. Your brand is about what others think of you. You might think you’re a helpful, friendly author of parenting books, but if you don’t do anything to broadcast that image, people might think otherwise. If you want to establish a strong brand, you need to develop your confidence and go out there and act the way you want to be seen. Get the word out everywhere so you can consistently attract new people.

MYTH 3

I’ll focus on writing a great book instead, then the money will come flowing in.

FACT

There are one too many wonderful books out there that are not getting any downloads on Amazon because of one thing. The authors have failed to create and maintain a strong brand for themselves. At the same time, there are a number of bestselling books on the market that aren’t very good. The truth is that when you create an image of yourself in your readers’ heads, even if your book isn’t that remarkable to begin with, you have far better chances of making good sales.

MYTH 4

Branding is second place to everything else.

FACT

There are three steps in writing a bestseller. One, write first. Two, edit later. And three, market your book all the time, even when your book is not yet written and after your book has already been put out there and making sales. Branding goes right up there with marketing. Branding is the fuel that oils your sales machine. Without the constant interaction with potential customers that is branding, you won’t get any sales. It’s as simple as that.

MYTH 5

Branding is not important these days as it was years ago.

FACT

Branding may be even more important now that the role of the salesman has greatly diminished as people take it upon themselves to research the products they want to buy. So when people are looking for information, having a great brand gets you noticed. The better your branding, the easier it will be for people to follow you.

MYTH 6

Branding is deceptive.

FACT

Branding is about the experience people have with your book. When they feel happy, sad, scared, furious or deceived, that is what your brand is. You cannot deceive your customers because branding is not about what you say. You can say over and over again that you make your readers feel like they’re on top of the world, but if that is not what they feel, then that is not your brand. Your responsibility to your readers is simply to make sure that the message you want to put across resonates with their experience of your book.

MYTH 7

You don’t need branding if you have a unique selling point.

FACT

Your unique selling point wont be unique for long. when others see something that works, they copy it. The only way to stay at the top of the food chain is great branding.

MYTH 8

Branding is similar to sales and marketing.

FACT

Sales is different from marketing and marketing is different from branding.

Sales is a one-sided conversation. Marketing is about what you do to promote your brand.

Branding is about creating an experience for your readers. Without branding, you can’t put your marketing and sales into high gear because you have a half-baked story to tell.

It’s not as big, strong and impactful as the story you have when you have a great brand.

Writers – Harness Your Media Presence

STOP Before You START

Jumping into the social networking scene before you have a real sense of direction could foul you up in your future marketing efforts. The time to pause is NOW.

Get out your notebook and start brainstorming before you start-up any new networking identities.

  • List the social networks you will be doing business on.
  • List other sites that will help you to market your product.
  • What is your objective.
  • Who is your target market.
  • Who do you admire that shares your craft, who will be your role models.
  • What are the possible benefits of your undertaking, what are the drawbacks.
  • Why are you inspired to work your craft.
  • What are some resources that can benefit you.
  • How would you like people to perceive you.
  • How much of a commitment are you willing and able to realistically make to your new endeavor.

This Hobby Is Now Your Business

You’re in this to win. This is your business and if you’re sincere in pursuing your passion then now is the time to harness your inner muse and gather your resources.

You’ll Benefit From Gathering The Following Information:

What’s Your Business Identity: How do you want the world to know you?

Your business identity is important because it’s at the forefront of everything you’ll present to the public. It’s the image that portrays you and the supporting banner image. It’s your name. It’s your tagline. It’s your voice, your personality. It’s anything you post or like. All of these things tell the story of you.

What should your audience experience upon first glance? Key words and images will create a response (good, bad or indifferent) from your public. This is your initial chance to shine, to throw your best face forward and hook their attention. Ultimately what you are selling is the product of your talent, there’s no longer room for being an introvert. ANYONE can be your customer and you need to be the kind of professional you want to portray at ALL times when dealing with your networks. How you behave and the voice you project will determine whose interest you peek and who becomes a patron of your art.

What’s Your Talent

Your talent is your passion, your art, and you are about to engage in self-promotion. It’s best to know a lot of information regarding your subject matter.  How do you go about perfecting your craft, where are your weaknesses. What are your strengths. What more could you do with your writing to capture the attention of others. Know what you’re selling and what pertains to it, it will help you optimize your content and gain a wider audience.

MOST IMPORTANTLY – BE SURE TO MARKET YOUR BOOK

Whether or not you are shy, timid, or just feel uncomfortable about advertising your own book on your social networks, you’d better just get over it. You’re not going to sell dribble without networking, promoting, advertising, and socializing.

What Are Your Key Methods Of Self-Promotion

It can be a little unnerving to anyone to begin to sell what you’ve crafted simply because most of us don’t like rejection. You’ll be advertising your wares and there will be several methods of delivery depending on the network or site you join or blog/website you host. Research people on those sites that inspire you, people that have achieved what it is that you’re hoping to achieve. Learn from them, what’s working for them.

Be prepared to flavor your networking with your personality. People enjoy real people and the majority wish the best for you, they want to know you are approachable.

Who should you connect with, what types of social circles should you follow. It’s good to know that you have people out there waiting to encourage and promote you by connecting, liking, sharing, or following what you do.

How Much Time Can You Set Aside Each Day For Your Craft

You need to set aside time everyday to work your craft. What’s the point in networking something you are not consistently working at. You should make time for several things that relate to your writing and schedule time for them throughout the week. You should write every day, even if its complete garbage, your skills as a writer will improve remarkably by doing just that one thing.

You need to keep up with your social media sites, you should plan your activity on them. know what your keeping an eye out for, new ways to market, what is trending, who are your best allies. Take the time to devote yourself uninterrupted because networking is an energy burner but very rewarding.

Don’t put off what you should do today or you will fall behind and your fans may lose interest in you, not what you want when they begin to be your bread and butter. This is where your passion may get fed the most, this and when you are creating.

What Will Be Your Content

What will you share in order to draw a growing audience to your profile?

  • Share what you’re up to with your book, how the writing is going, any challenges you are dealing with.
  • Share book reviews in your genre. you should be reading in your genre anyway and you will attract the right audience for your own writing.
  • Interview other authors or writers – find out what does and doesn’t work for them.
  • Share what you’re learning as you write.
  • Share details about your book, maybe even excerpts.
  • Create a bad synopsis of a popular book and have your followers guess the book.
  • Invite people to guest post on your blog.

Just be yourself and more and new ideas for content will come to you as you work at it.


Color Theory 101 for DIY Authors

Color expresses emotion, variations in temperature, it can also invoke reactions from its expression. Red can be angry, wild, danger, love, death. Colors can cause us to think and feel an assortment of things so you want to choose the colors of your designs with care.

Understanding how colors relate to one another and how they are created is the necessary place to begin. Color theory is something every designer and artist must know in order to create aesthetically pleasing designs in the software available to them.

Color theory is fun. Once you know how the colors relate to one another you can start building and designing with your own color palettes. Making those color palettes is fascinating because you can pull colors off of pictures and scenery in life, or you can build your own based on how colors work in relation to each other. Seeing your design grow from these beginnings to completion is remarkably satisfying.

Inside your design software, you will have a color picker and color wheel that you can choose colors from either by sight or by number. Colors by number are called HTML color codes and every color has one, see this table. You do not have to choose a color by its number, but knowing its number is a great way for you to build color palettes for your design projects.

I have a paper color wheel at home that I always refer to and it’s handy to have because I’m hands-on and a visual learner. You might want to get one too to play around with, it’s a great interactive way to learn the concepts of color theory and to start coming up with some artistic ideas of your own.

To purchase a color wheel for use at home you can find them at this link from Amazon.

61X177nyKlL

CW-01

 A painter mixes all of their colors beginning with only the three primary colors. Mixing the primary colors will get you secondary colors, and mixing primary and secondary colors will get them tertiary colors. The artist can then add tints tones or shades using black and white to create all of the additional hues they might need.

Your job is to set a scene and appeal to the viewer’s senses by using combinations of the colors found in the first three phases, primary, secondary, and tertiary.

CW-02

CW-03

These are your major colors that, when used correctly, can entice the viewer to investigate further. Rather than choosing a random scene for the cover of your book, which often only serves to confuse your audience, you can begin the layout of your graphic with a strategic color plan that can speak volumes about your book. When done correctly, color has more effect than most subject matter.

CW-04

Even with a good starting point, you’ll still typically need variations of hues to create your overall design. And no worries, hues are relatively simple. The following is a simple breakdown of color samples and how to create them.

CW-05

Hue: Hue is pretty much synonymous with what we actually mean when we say the word “color.” All of the primary and secondary colors, for instance, are “hues.”

Shade: You may recognize the term “shade” because it’s used quite often to refer to light and dark versions of the same hue. But actually, a shade is technically the color that you get when you add black to any given hue. The various “shades” just refer to how much black you’re adding.

Tint: Tint is the opposite of shade, but people don’t often distinguish between a color’s shade and a color’s tint. You get a different tint when you add white to a specific color. So, a color can have a range of both shades and tints.

Tone (or Saturation): You can also add both white and black to a color to create a tone. Tone and saturation essentially mean the same thing, but most people will use saturation if they’re talking about colors being created for digital images. Tones will be used more often for painting.

CW-06

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black).

CMYK works on a scale of 0 to 100. If C=100, M=100, Y=100, and K=100, you end up with black. But, if all four colors equal 0, you end up with true white.

CW-07

RGB color models are designed for electronic displays, including computers.

For computers, RGB is created using scales from 0 to 255. So, black would be R=0, G=0, and B=0. White would be R=255, G=255, and B=255.

When you’re creating color on a computer, your color module will usually list both RGB and CMYK numbers. If you’re designing digital images, RGB is best to use. But remember to design in CYMK for your book covers or they will come out much darker than the original design when they are printed.

Creating Color Schemes

Now that we’ve got all of the basics out of the way, let’s talk about how to actually use this newfound knowledge.

You’ve probably noticed before that some colors look great together and others … just don’t. The colors we choose can help enhance a design, or it can take away from a design.

When you’re figuring out how to design a graphic, it’s important to remember that how we perceive colors depends on the context in which we see them.

Never use black or white as they aren’t true colors and can often blend with the background color of many websites and platforms. You’ll find that a tint of most hues will work just fine as white, and shades of many hues work perfectly to achieve a black appearance.

Color context refers to how we perceive colors as they contrast with another color.

CW-08

Analogous structures do not create themes with high contrasting colors, so they’re typically used to create a softer, less contrasting design. For example, you could use an analogous structure to create a color scheme with autumn or spring colors.

CW-09

Using a monochromatic scheme allows you to create a color scheme based on various shades and tints of one hue. Although it lacks color contrast, it often ends up looking very clean and polished. It also allows you to easily change the darkness and lightness of your colors.

CW-10

Triadic color schemes are great if you want contrast, but they can also seem overpowering if all of your colors are chosen on the same point in a line around the color wheel. To subdue some of your colors in a triadic scheme, you can choose one dominant color and use the others sparingly, or simply subdue the other two colors by choosing a softer tint.

CW-11

The complementary color scheme provides the greatest amount of color contrast. Because of this, you should be careful about how you use complementary colors in a scheme.

It’s best to use one color predominantly and use the second color as accents in your design.

CW-12

The split-complementary color scheme can be difficult to balance well because unlike analogous or monochromatic color schemes, the colors used all provide contrast (similar to the complementary scheme).

Adobe Color

This free online tool allows you to build color schemes based on the color structures described above. Once you’ve chosen the colors in any scheme, you can copy and paste the HEX or RGB codes into whatever program you’re using.

It also features hundreds of premade color schemes for you to explore and use in your own designs. If you’re an Adobe user, you can easily save your themes to your account.

Once you find the color “themes” of your document, you can open up the preferences and locate the RGB and HEX codes for the colors used.

You can then copy and paste those codes to be used in whatever program you’re using to do your design.

Things to Remember

CW-13

I hope this helps you on your DIY journey to amazing author graphics!

It’s Easy to Design Your Own Graphics

03

You really can design your own book covers and author graphics:

With a bit of training, you can start designing almost right away.

You can get the right software if you know what to look for.

From all my talks with indie authors I’ve had over the years, the biggest turnoff to designing for themselves is the software. Either they can’t find good software or it is too hard to learn.

I normally would tell people to leave the designing to the professionals, but not everyone has that in their budget.

Here are some basic design principles you should know:

Before you go purchase software, let me introduce you to some basic design principles. This way you can see that you will be capable enough to give it a go.

Balance

Most of us can tell what looks well balanced and what doesn’t. What you may not know is that there are different forms of balance.

05
  • The visual weight of your design elements can be evenly distributed on either side of the design in order to be symmetrical.
  • Asymmetrical balance is the balance achieved through color, scale, and contrast to achieve flow. Most of your designs will be asymmetrical.

Start looking at book covers and graphic designs and point out the flow. Notice how design elements are chosen for their color, scale, and contrast. How each element works with the others to draw the eye to focal points. The design flow will draw your eyes through the elements of the design and to those focal points.

In a matter of seconds, you can decern the mood, the genre, and the theme of the design, hear its message visually. In those few seconds, a reader will decide whether or not you’ve piqued their interest.

Proximity

Proximity creates a relationship between similar or related elements. These elements are visually connected by way of font, color, size, etc. Basically, the things that are related should be nearer to each other.

07

Proximity can create relationships between the visual elements in a composition. It can create relevance, hierarchy, organization, and structure. Or, there can also be no relationship between elements, by breaking organization and structure.

Alignment

You will want to be sure that the elements of your design are in alignment. You might center all the text to the centerfold of the design. You might zigzag the flow by centering the top and bottom text, but then staggering a blurb that you want to stand out. You can align elements across a design or diagonally. Watch for different types of alignment and what appeals to you.

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is important because it can help lead the viewer through the message of the design. The viewer’s eye will follow this visual hierarchy.

Each element of your design will carry more or less visual weight. More important elements are given extra visual weight to move them up the hierarchy. You can use larger or bolder fonts to highlight the title, etc. What color you use can determine hierarchy. Large to small, bold to soft, bright to dark, top to bottom, left to right, etc., these all are part of a visual hierarchy.

08 copy

Repetition

A large part of graphic design is branding. As an author, you will be developing your own visual brand too. Repetition in design is fundamental, but essential when it comes to branding.

Repetition creates a rhythm, it ties together the consistent elements and strengthens the overall design. There are certain elements that will make viewers instantly recognize your brand. These design elements include your color palette, fonts, and your logo.

pwc 05 copy

cropped-mmi-header-20-copy2.jpg

Contrast

The contrast will guide the viewer to key design elements. Two opposing design elements create contrast:

  • dark vs. light
  • contemporary vs. old-fashioned
  • large vs. small, etc.

Organization and a hierarchy can be established with contrast. Using contrast is useful in creating visual interest too.

09

Color

Color is basic in design and is also used within other principles of design. Color expresses mood so what palette you choose is very important. As a graphic designer, it’s always helpful to have a basic knowledge of color theory, take the time to do a little research. This will pay off hugely in the long run. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a color wheel for easy reference.

Amazon.com: Cox 133343 Color Wheel 9-1/4"-

Negative Space

The space that is left blank in your design is called negative space. And just like dark matter in space, it’s an area that contains nothing flashy, or no design elements. No design elements except for maybe some background color. If used creatively, negative space can help create a shape and highlight the important components of your design.

10

by Brian Caldwell

Typography

Typography is a key element in graphic design. It can speak volumes. Typography can set the mood, establish it’s own hierarchy, and even express genre. It’s important not to use overly used fonts in graphic design. Overly used fonts are most of the font’s that come with your common word software. You are better off purchasing your fonts.

11

Rules

The only real rule in graphic design is to not use true black or white in your designs, they won’t transfer correctly in printing or on the web. Other than that you are free to design in your own style, whatever that may be.

These principles are your guide to creating great graphics and building a solid brand.

Now to get your software:

LINE ORANGE copy

04

Before you continue to the next section, you should know that I am NOT affiliated with the software listed below. I won’t earn anything if you purchase one of them from any of the links posted.

LINE ORANGE copy

Here are the top graphic design platforms:

Affinity Designer: You can get this platform for a one-time payment of $24.99. (2020)

This is awesome software for the price. It will give you all the tools you need to create great graphics and is easy to learn. This platform is smaller in size than others and won’t bog down your computer. You will have access to free updates and Affinity Designer also runs very smoothly and quickly, even on older machines. Here is the link to the tutorials.

Adobe Photoshop: You can get this platform for $20.99 per month. (2020)

I use Photoshop, I like that you can use it for photo editing and compositing, digital painting, and graphic design. It works for all of my design needs when it comes to creating book covers. Photoshop is an excellent program used for creating images, photo editing, and graphics design or to add special effects to images. Vector graphics are not used in photoshop because it is pixel-based software. Here’s the link to their tutorials.

Gravit Designer: This platform is a free full-featured vector graphic design app.

With this platform, you can design from anywhere on any machine. You won’t have the versatility of Affinity or Adobe, but you can make graphics on the fly for blogposts. Gravit is mostly vector-based software, but has image manipulation and editing, and is a good cheap alternative to Affinity. Here is the link to their tutorials. This would be the software I would use if I couldn’t afford Photoshop and Adobe Suites.

Inkscape: This software is free and is a great substitute for Photoshop.

Inkscape is a free open source vector-based software because it does not take the resources of RAM nevertheless you are under MS Windows or Linux Distribution like Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE, RedHat, etc. Inkscape is better because it has own plugins for bevel and emboss, image manipulations, some times it behaves like photoshop. Here is the link to Inkscapes tutorials.

LINE ORANGE copy

These basics will get you started and headed in the right direction. Just remember that learning how to create great designs is a process. You will improve over time. But there’s no reason you can’t create some pretty great graphics right out of the gate.

Good Luck!

 

 

THE ROAD TO LAUNCH – PART THREE: PRODUCTION

IAAW3 copy

These steps are a guide to aid you in a successful book launch. If you missed the first steps, you can find them here:

THE ROAD TO LAUNCH – PART ONE: CONCEPTION

THE ROAD TO LAUNCH – PART TWO: WRITING

untitled-1-copy

You read all the time about book promotion or book marketing and I know it sounds like a helluva lot of work. It is. There’s no way around it. But if you want a successful book launch or your best chance at becoming a bestseller, then you need to take a look at your options and get organized.

During this stage of your book launch, you want to build interest in your book. You will want to share the process to get your followers more deeply involved and to create demand for your book.

  • You can start by getting your followers engaged in the production of your book.
  • Seek and publish interviews with the leaders in your field.
  • Start getting review commitments.
  • You should also begin laying the groundwork for a book marketing and publicity campaign.

untitled-1-copy

ENGAGE YOUR FANS AND SET THE GROUNDWORK FOR LAUNCH

It’s time to make creative decisions like what to edit, which cover to use, and what the title of your book should be. Document that process and get your fans involved in key decisions, it will pay off on launch day.

Facebook Live Video

Facebook Live video generates massive engagement within the platform. In fact, according to Facebook’s own data, Live videos on the platform are watched on average three times longer than regular videos. Take advantage of this during the production process by live streaming as you make key decisions about the book such as choosing the artwork, title, and launch date.

Poll Your Fans

Polls are an incredible way to better understand who your audience is and what they actually want. Try coming up with three or four different title options and see which performs the best in your communities. Doing so will lead to more informed decisions while simultaneously giving your potential readers some sense of ownership.

Split Test Your Creative

In a similar vein to polling, it’s a good idea to use advertising tools like Facebook as a way of testing titles and cover artwork in a much more public setting. Run an ad split-testing multiple title choices, the one with the most engagement wins. Doing this will give you a better idea of what the entire market is looking for.

Create Q&A Videos

Q&A is a fantastic format that people tend to gravitate towards because it provides specific context. Using Facebook Live, or regular video, try taking the time to collect a few questions about your topic or your book from your community and give thoughtful answers to them.

Create a Q&A Podcast

The beauty of video is that once you are finished with it you will have perfectly good audio to use. If you’ve done the Q&A video I would suggest that you pull the audio from those files and turn it into a podcast for some additional reach.

Create a Book Trailer

If you have the time and the dollars to spend, creating a book trailer can be a fantastic way to promote additional excitement for your book launch. The best book trailers focus on the main problem that the book intends to solve while not giving away too much information.

Create an Explainer Video

If you don’t have the dollars to get a professional book trailer done or if you want to create more videos, consider getting in front of the camera and explain what the book is about, what problem it solves, and who it’s for. It may not be fancy, but clearly explaining your book is never a bad thing.

Work With Your Book Launch Team

As you move into the pre-launch stage of your journey you will need to start recruiting people to be on your book launch team. These are the people who will be your biggest advocates. They’ll write your early reviews, they’ll introduce your book to their friends and audiences, and they’ll help you get the initial rankings that you’ll need to build a sustained machine. Reach out to the community you’ve built thus far in order to recruit.

Send Out Review Copies

Don’t wait until two weeks before the launch to send review copies to people who have the power to drive massive awareness. Your goal should be to send them review copies with more than enough time for them to go through it and formulate an actual opinion. Once your final draft is done look into sending them out immediately to get that process started.

Get Early Amazon Reviews

This is the same concept as above, send members of your book launch team early copies so that they can have honest reviews prepared for launch day. The trend with Amazon is proof of purchase to give a review. There is a way around that but I forgot what.

Create a Media Kit

As you move into the pre-launch stage you are going to be doing quite a bit of “pitching”. Take the time in this stage to create a media kit that will save you time and energy in the long run while helping you look more polished when compared to other self-published authors.

CREATE A PROFESSIONAL MEDIA KIT

Use HARO to Get Media Mentions

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) can be a fantastic tool for getting media mentions and getting featured on various websites. By signing up you’ll receive an email whenever a reporter is looking for something you may be able to weigh in on so it’s a fairly “passive” source of gaining additional exposure before the real push starts.

line orange

More to come on “Your Road to Launch” – stay tuned 🙂