Yes, You Have to Price Your Books Low if You Want People to Buy Them

Buy my book meme

You dedicated two years to working on your first novel (here’s mine!). Spent several hundred dollars (or even a couple thousand) on editors and designers.

And now that you’re ready to publish, you’re being told to price your book LOW?

Screw that, right?

I’m Here to Tell You that Low Prices = Higher Readership

I do not advocate giving your book away for free, unless for reviews or giveaway contests. However, if you’re an indie author and you’re publishing your debut novel, you might have to sell your book for less than what it’s worth.

AT FIRST.

If you’re launching your indie career, I doubt this will be the last book you write. So the goal of publishing your first book should be about building readership. An engaged and dedicated readership, who will then buy book #2, and #3, and so forth …

What’s the best way to get readers to take a chance on an indie author they’ve never heard of before? Remove the risk; price your book low.

Increase Prices as Readership Grows

As you begin to build a readership, and people recognize your value as an author, they’ll be more willing to pay a couple of extra dollars for your next book.

Also, as your reviews and sales accumulate on Amazon, at bookstores, and at libraries, you’ll build enough “social validation” to increase prices of your published works.

In essence, think of your indie career as a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t Forget to Reward Your Most Dedicated Fans!

When the time comes to begin increasing your prices, don’t forget about the readers who launched you to this place of success! Make sure to offer them discounts and benefits for remaining loyal fans.

  • Coupon codes
  • Pre-order deals with special pricing
  • Giveaways just for them

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you agree that indie authors should price their books lower to begin building a readership? Comment below!

This Whole ‘Personal Branding’ Thing is Driving Me Crazy

oh-no

This whole personal branding movement is driving me bonkers, which is weird, because I help other businesses brand themselves.

When it comes to me, though? I just want to scream a bad word that starts with “f” and ends in “uck.”

So here’s the deal. I left my full-time job in August of 2014 to launch my business, Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services. As you may have guessed, I do freelance writing for everything from websites, blogs, social media, to press releases and newsletters (not to mention, I also manage social media accounts or act as a communications consultant). Which is cool, because now I work my own hours and take on a variety of projects.

BUT, I’ve been reading all this crap about the importance of attracting the type of work you really want, and to do that, you need to make sure your personal brand aligns with your target audience.

Well … shit.

What happens, then, for writers like me, who are just … WRITERS? When our ideal client includes big-name magazines like Time or Vanity Fair, or online pubs like Slate or Vice, that pay $1 per word? When our ideal clients might be major publishing houses that can offer us a $750,000, three-year contract to write another three books?

Can anyone tell me how to brand that?

What happens when you are not well-connected, don’t have the cash flow, but you’re crazy good at what you do? When you don’t have $25,000 (or $5,000) to toss at building a serious following and are spending your days landing enough clients to make your mortgage next month, because–you know–you’ve only been in business for less than six months?

Of course I’d love to dedicate all day, every day, to targeting my ideal client. But in reality, work is work, and I pride myself on always producing the highest quality product for any client who pays, whether they’re a health insurance company, a dance studio, or a fashion designer.

I understand that personal branding is important.

And I advocate that everyone try to label themselves somehow. But really, enough with this insane “personal branding” movement. I feel like I’m suffocating. Whatever happened to just working, doing it well, and building your reputation off that?

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Shari Lopatin is a professional writer, editor, and social media manager living in Phoenix, Ariz. Did you like this post? Then get more like it! Sign up for the Shari’s Ink eNewsletter and get FREE resources on social media news, publishing trends, and effective writing tips, every month.  

Why Quality Still Matters on Social Media

Happy kitten

Ever since Facebook’s latest algorithmic checkmate, the Internet has been buzzin’ about ways for brands to continue reaching their followers.

(In case you haven’t been tracking the trends, Facebook dropped its organic reach to low, single-digit percentages. In other words, if you don’t pay to promote your posts to your current followers, most won’t see you.)

Here are some of the conclusions I’ve read these past few months, from other social media experts:

  • It won’t stop at Facebook. Paying to reach your followers will become the new norm across all social media. Soon, other platforms—like Twitter and LinkedIn—may follow suit.
  • Creating quality content will no longer be enough. You’ll have to reinforce your message through as many places as possible (Facebook, LinkedIn, email, Twitter, etc.).
  • For the first time since social media swept the world off its feet, frequency of posts may supersede quality.

So whether you’re a writer, a business owner, or a content marketing nut, here’s what I want to talk about: this sudden notion that quantity will begin trumping quality. Ahem. Yeah, I don’t think so.

First, let me state this:

I do agree that you should reinforce your message through as many channels as possible, as long as it makes sense. Social media should never be your only marketing tool. When possible, include email, SEO/SEM, print, banner ads, T.V., radio, and even billboards.

But just because Mark Zuckerberg shook the rug under our feet, we should not start questioning the validity and importance of producing quality content. Why? It’s simple, really:

Even if you post five times per day, NO ONE will pay attention to your posts if they aren’t moved to action.

And my friends, only quality posts that are engaging, strategic, and visually compelling will prompt action—whether through likes, shares, link clicks, or comments. As a writer, you need to understand your audience, you need to know your voice, and you have to recognize what this medium was developed to do.

Social media was designed to be social, and I think many companies or brands have forgotten that. If your content isn’t quality, relevant, and engaging, it will be ignored.

Did you like this post? Then get more like it! Sign up for the Shari’s Ink eNewsletter and get FREE resources on social media news, publishing trends, and effective writing tips, every month. Shari Lopatin is a professional writer, editor, and social media manager living in Phoenix, Ariz. 

If you’re gonna hack a writer’s email, at least be grammatically correct

So, my email got hacked this week. Yes, my technology shenanigans continue.

But in a way, I must publicly thank the hackers, because they gave me some seriously positive publicity.

Like making everyone in my network aware of just how QUALITY my work is … which is good, because I recently launched my new business, “Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services” (I’ll formally announce that soon enough).

You think I’m joking?

Then check this out (LinkedIn):

LinkedIn hacker convo

And this (Facebook)!

Facebook hacker convo

OK, and here’s one more. The actual MESSAGE from the hackers. Note to them: next time, do a little market research on your target audience, first:

Hackers message

Maybe the hackers could hire me for their next “email marketing campaign.” At least then, their messaging will be grammatically correct and on-target.

Is Your Blog the Equivalent to Long Division?

OK, writers … this one’s for you. Sometimes, you just can’t write about “passive versus active voice” anymore.

And—let’s be real here—there are only so many ways to reveal “the secret to getting more comments on your blog.”

BORING!

My blog stats proved it. They were pathetic. They were navel lint. Which is why, one day, I finally broke:

“F- it!” I screamed. “I’m doing a blog makeover! And I’m scratching all that professional crap. I’m going rogue.”

Today, I’m over at Lynette Benton’s blog, Polish and Publish | Tools and Tactics for Creative Writers. And I’m writing about the transformation of MY blog: “Why a Blog Makeover Might be Just the Thing You Need.”

So if you are anything like me three months ago—ridiculous blog stats and an online platform equivalent to long division—you just might want to head on over and read this.

I’m Thinking of a Blog Makeover: Help Me!

So … up until today (and probably a few weeks from now), the focus of this blog has been writing. And media strategies. And publishing trends.

And it’s worked.

I have nearly 800 followers, between email, Facebook and Twitter.


BUT …

I read a mind-altering post today from Kristen Lamb’s Blog, “3 Social Media Myths That Can Cripple Our Author Platform.” And then the mind-change happened. Here are the exact words from Kristen’s blog, the ones that reached out and bitch-slapped me:

“Regular people (code for ‘readers’) love being entertained daily in small, manageable, bite-sized pieces. They often read them on their smart phones while in line or on the train or when stuck at an appointment. In fact, this is precisely why blogs are one of the most powerful tools for creating a dedicated readership … The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) gets THREE MILLION UNIQUE VISITS A MONTH on her blog. She tried to hold a live book event, and her followers crashed Goodreads. Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) is another favorite. MILLIONS of people follow these blogs. Any guess why? These bloggers (writers)…are you ready for this? These writers…don’t blog about writing.”

***BITCH SLAP***

But … but … my blog is about writing!

To see if Kristen was really, truly serious about the seriousness of her claims, I headed over to The Bloggess. EVERY post has more than 100 comments. She has more than 200,000 Twitter followers, and the same for Facebook. Oh yes, and her first book was a New York Times Bestseller!

Then I visited Pioneer Woman. Same friggin’ thing. Except she always had AT LEAST 200 comments per post.

Yea, I’d say Kristen Lamb is onto something.

I Need YOUR Help, Now

I’m writing my first novel. It’s fiction, and I want to begin building an audience that will read my book when it eventually publishes. I’m sure you understand.

You’ve all mostly been with me since the beginning of my blog, or at least for most of the past year.

I want to remain as a “Rogue Writer.” But I’m thinking of writing less about writing and media, and more about something everyday readers will enjoy.

I just can’t figure out what.

Here are some past posts I’ve written that were random, and successful:

  1. Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home
  2. Colon Hydrotherapy in Your Backyard
  3. Be the Chicken Nugget in a Bag of Vegetables
  4. My Jewish Cat and the Art of Guilt
  5. Bananagrams: The New Age of American Consumerism

With that in mind, as a non-writer (just PRETEND) who likes reading blogs, what would you want to hear about … from me? And on the contrary, what do you want me to keep? In other words, what keeps you coming back?

Thank you for your help! A new (exciting) chapter awaits …

Is Twitter Still Popular (and Useful)?

Pondering BirdMaybe you’ve noticed it too, and you’re asking yourself the question:

Is Twitter still popular enough, that it’s worth your continued time investment?

The Pew Research

The Pew Research Center released its “Twitter Use 2012” findings at the end of May. Among them were:

  • 15 percent of online adults use Twitter, and 8 percent use it on a typical day;
  • The number of online adults who use Twitter on a typical day has doubled since May 2011, and quadrupled since late 2010;
  • The increase in smartphones might account for some of the increase in Twitter usage.

And yet … and yet … I find that the average tweeter’s posts are overlooked, more and more. Is it just me, or do only the news outlets, celebrities and thought leaders benefit from this once-awesome platform?

Twitter’s Evolution: Good or Bad for Writers?

I mention writers here, because I’M a writer, as are many of you. However, this can apply to anyone who is building an online presence.

According to an April, 2012 Mashable article, Twitter is still the number two most-used social platform (falling behind Facebook, which is number one). NBC reporters used Twitter to gather collective insight on public opinion during this year’s Summer Olympics. And I learned about the infamous Osama Bin Laden news on Twitter.

However, I’ve noticed it becoming harder and harder to build a presence on Twitter if you’re not already established. For those of us who are unknown writers (i.e. NOT Stephen King, Judy Blume, or Tina Fey), perhaps building a Twitter presence isn’t as important as … say … two years ago.

Maybe, what’s become more important, is for others to tweet your content, rather than you.

The NEW Twitter: Getting Shared is King

In my own experience, not many people will read a blog post when I tweet the link. However, if others tweet it, Twitter becomes a top traffic driver for my article that day.

Crazy, huh?

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: Twitter is important. You should retain a presence on it. However, if you’re not a thought leader, journalist, news outlet or celebrity, you’re better off concentrating on creating content others will share for you. And continue using Twitter as a feed to stay on top of industry trends.

What do you think? Have you noticed any of the trends I mentioned above? Is Twitter still useful for YOU?

Publish Your Blog to Kindle! (I Just Did)

So … did you know Amazon offers a way to publish your blog to the Kindle? If you didn’t, I’m telling you right now. I just published mine!

[Check out Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer on Kindle!]

I mean, GUYS, this is seriously cool. This means that anyone with one of these nifty little e-readers can absorb the life-altering words of your blog directly from their Kindles. They can read it like an e-book!

If your interest is piqued, here is a list of pros and cons I discovered regarding taking the plunge:

The Pros

  • It expands your reach and offers another way for people to find and read you.
  • You get paid if people subscribe! The more people who subscribe through Kindle, the bigger your paycheck.
  • You can reach your target audience more accurately. Writers want to target readers, and Kindle owners LOVE to read.
  • It’s easy. Once you publish your blog to Kindle, Amazon does the rest. Just continue operating your blog, as if nothing changed.
  • It’s freakin’ cool to say your blog is available through Kindle. Maybe you’re not a published author (yet), but you can officially claim to be a “published blogger” … if it works like that.

The Cons

  • People have to pay a monthly subscription to access your blog through their Kindle, even though they can get it online FOR FREE.
  • Amazon sets the monthly subscription price; you have no control. The prices range from $0.99-2.99/month.
  • You make only 30 percent in royalties for your monthly subscriptions.
  • Not even the most popular blogs have many subscribers. I discovered this upon skimming through the Kindle blogs. So this may or may not be catching on yet.

Is It Worth It?

I’ll tell you in a few months, as my blog just published to the Kindle this Monday. However, my personal take is, “YES.”

I chose to take the plunge because it cost me nothing. Zip. Zero. And while this venture may not exactly pay my mortgage, I’m not doing it for the money. I’m doing it for the exposure.

Interested? Here’s How to Make It Happen

  1. Visit the Kindle Publishing for Blogs website.
  2. Create an account.
  3. Upload your blog. Make sure you have a screenshot of your blog, as well as its masthead.
  4. Save and preview your blog.
  5. Submit!

Be aware that Amazon will ask for your bank account information. This will be used to electronically pay you each month for your blog’s subscriptions.

And when you’re done, head over and see mine. It costs $0.99/month. I must admit, I’m very proud!

WILL YOU GIVE THIS A TRY? I want to hear your thoughts! Would you pay $0.99/month to read a blog on your Kindle? Will you consider publishing your blog to the Kindle? Do you think this additional platform is a good idea? Why or why not?