17 October 2015

Top 5 Author Takeover Mistakes (Facebook Author Marketing)

I just wrapped up my two-day release event for Song of the Siren (go buy it, I'll still be here when you get back). Normally, I like to be positive. Instead of complaining, I'd much rather offer a solution or at least say what I would prefer. But after running a couple of my own author events on Facebook, now, I'm starting to see some of the same mistakes over and over.

Let me ask you a question: do you WANT to sell books?

Dumb question, right? And yet I see horrible mistakes that result not only in no book sales for you, but make you look dumb. Nobody wants that. So here are the top mistakes I noticed that result in no book sales for you.

Mistake 1. Not showing up at all

Yes. SERIOUSLY. I had authors not even show up, with no warning. If you have to cancel your takeover, it's only polite--not to mention professional--to let the event organizers know so they can fill the empty spot. Just because you write smut doesn't mean you can't act like a fucking pro (maybe you don't write smut, but I do and so do most of the authors I know).

If you're a no-show with no good reason and no warning, you'll never be invited back to an event of mine, that's for sure.

Mistake 2. Showing up late

If you're an author who is serious about your career then you should have at least one PA (personal assistant) or if not then at least a friend who can cover for you. Your PA can post on your behalf until you can get online. Don't schedule yourself to appear at events unless you're sure you can make it (duh).

You may be a great writer but you look like a dolt if you can't show up on time to something that benefits you.

Mistake 3. Not linking to your book so people can actually buy it

The purpose of running a takeover during an event on Facebook is to get new readers. Nobody can read your book if they don't buy it, and they can't buy it unless you link to it. Even if you were the most technically-challenged person in the world, you can still have the web address of your book's page on Amazon to paste into a Facebook post. You should have these bookmarked in your web browser or listed in a document so you can easily copy and paste.

People are more inclined to hit that One-Click if you make it EASY for them. Have links for your books on all major English-speaking Amazon outlets: US, UK, CA, and AU.

Mistake 4. Random activities that don't help you or even relate to the book you're selling

The purpose of takeovers is to get new readers, and you only get 30 or 60 minutes, so why would you do something that doesn't advance anything for you? If you are not getting new email addresses on your mailing list (you DO have a mailing list, right?), getting new likes for your Facebook pages, getting new followers on social media, getting your pages shared, or getting book sales... then I gotta ask: just what the hell are you doing?

Playing some random game that doesn't result in anything for your author career or book sales is a waste of everyone's time.

Think about why people buy books. Think about why you buy books. You want good characters, good story, good setting, and if you write smut, like me, you want blistering hot fucked-up sex. If you want to discuss your books and share info about them during a takeover, try to appeal to what actually triggers people to make a purchase: they're looking for something that fits with what they like but which holds more promise than anything else they might read.

Mistake 5. Not bringing your own people in to support you

Out of all of the above, this is actually the worst for everyone. If you don't show up, the organizing author can usually cover and should have fans and friends that can show up for support. You can flub the actual selling of your book and still get new readers (you just made it harder, that's all).

But if you show up and you're just talking to yourself?

That's just sad.

It makes you feel like you want to crawl in a hole and fucking die. But this is easily avoidable! HAVE YOUR FRIENDS SHOW UP. Facebook has tools to help you share events on your timeline and invite people individually. Use them, for goodness' sake. Not only when you first join the event yourself, but also the day before and at least an hour before, too. Think that's too much? I guarantee you, it's not, because not everyone will see them in their own timelines. Also, remember why you are here: to SELL BOOKS.

If you have a street team, they should support you. That's what they're for! They want to help you because they love your writing. Let them know you need them. I encourage my "Bad Girls" to attend my takeovers and events specifically to make me look good. When I post my book links they comment about how they love it. They participate in the activities to help create a feeling of buzz and excitement and because the more activity a post gets, the higher it rises on the event page.

Even if the only people participating are your own "tribe," that's FINE. It's certainly better than nothing. Activity is attractive. What I mean by that is people flock to where the action is, so you want to create some action around what you're doing.

No, it's not the easiest thing ever.

But don't make it harder than it needs to be! These mistakes all stem from two thing: a lack of professional courtesy and forgetting or not knowing your purpose. What are your pet peeves during takeovers?

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11 October 2015

How I do Author Takeovers on Facebook to Get New Readers (Without Spending Any Money)

Facebook is a fantastic place to get new readers and strengthen the relationship you have with your fans. One marketing tactic I see a lot of is the author takeover. When another author creates a Facebook event to celebrate the release of a new book, they try to make it a big ol' party by inviting other authors to come share their books. When you take the floor in another author's Facebook event to talk about your own books and have some fun, that's a takeover.

This post is not about creating and running your own event, it's about attending another author's event as a participant, conducting a takeover.

Most Facebook events are one or two days, but some are longer. Each day of the event there are 30 or 60 minute time slots to be filled with other authors to pimp their books. In the short time I've been publishing erotica and erotic romance, I've learned a lot about running successful takeovers. I should give credit where it's due: most of what I do I picked up from Alice K. Wayne, C.C. Genovese, Yolanda Olson, and of course every other author whose events I have attended.

Bring friends

First of all, doing a takeover at which there are few participants is an exercise in sad desperation. But even if you've never done one, before, you can still have enough people at it to not completely murder your pride. What I do is make sure all my friends and fellow authors know about it. I share the event on my own Facebook timeline and I use the invite feature to invite all my friends. Yes, all of them (or nearly so). Nobody is going to complain about you wanting to sell your books and if they do, you don't need that kind of stupid negativity in your life, unfriend that fool.

If you have a street team to help you publicize your books, have them come and make you look good. If you've created fan groups for your books, tell them, too. You can simply keep sharing the same Facebook event and in the dropdown for its destination, choose group and then start typing in the name of the group. (P.S. - having street teams or fan groups is something I'll post about at some point.)

Get a good time slot

Getting a good time slot in a takeover also helps. I find evening ones better but honestly it depends on your time zone. If you live in England and you're at least 5 hours ahead of the U.S., it's hard for you to have them at a time that's good both for your and for your U.S. readers. Personally, I prefer to do them at 8pm Eastern or later. I also like to do them back-to-back with other authors I'm friends with, because we often have the same readers.

Say hello and tell people about yourself, let them stalk you

The first thing I post is a greeting where I tell people about myself. I don't talk about myself personally, although I could and there's nothing wrong with that. I talk about what kind of stories I like to write. In other words, I'm telling potential book buyers what kind of stories they'd get from me. I have a graphic I post with is that gives people some kind of idea of the stories I write and it has a picture of my face on it, too (whatever you usually have as your Facebook profile pic).

The text that goes along with this picture would take too long to write every time I have a takeover. It would become tedious. I have this text in a document which I then copy and paste into the comment field. This text also includes links to all my social media profiles and author pages.

Decide in advance your game plan and have a routine

Usually, you have an hour. What I tend to do is talk about two books, one during the first 30 minutes and the other during the second 30 minutes. For each book I post a blurb about it and link to its Amazon page. After all, the whole point of these things is to sell books and get readers.

In between posting about my 2 books I try to remember to post a shout-out and thank you to the event's host. After all, it's their event. The entire reason why they want all these other authors tor bring their readers over in the first place is so they can sell them their book. So be a good sport and help them sell it. I link to whatever they're selling and pimp it out to my people who came to the event to support me.

Depending on how I feel things are going, I might also do an "ask me anything" post at this point, so that questions have time to come in and be answered before my time is up.

Should you always do the same routine, every time? No! But you should at least have one routine. Just don't let yourself get into a rut using only the one routine. There are other fun and effective things you can do, like reverse takeovers and live writing, which I'll cover at some point later.

What I do for each book and why

I have a very specific way of doing this, and I do it this way because it seems to work for me. Your mileage may vary. There's no way to relate book sales back to a Facebook event unless you have the money to offer a decent swag giveaway in exchange for event participants posting screenshots of their receipt emails for legit book purchases. But this is all about doing this without spending any money.

The first thing I post is the cover to the book I want to share, but I don't type or paste anything into the text field, just yet. Facebook likes to read any links you paste in and then create a clickable preview before you're done typing.

If it does this, then the picture icon for uploading pictures disappears. The clickable preview is a nice big clickable target, but the picture of your book cover is kind of small. I like to have a nice big image of the book cover. Then I copy and paste some text I have already written and saved in order to save time and not make any mistakes.

I don't just post the book blurb. Instead, I say why I was attracted to write the book in the first place. I try to get people interested in reading it for the same reasons I was interested in writing it. Included is a link to the amazon page for the book. Post individual links for US, UK, CA, and AU pages (another reason to have all this ready to go in a document from which you can simply copy and paste).

This next part has to do with how Facebook works. Facebook automatically refreshes new comments to posts, but it won't necessarily reload the entire event web page to show new posts. So unless someone clicks on a popup notification or otherwise reloads the page themselves, they can easily miss new posts to the event. Also, posts which have a high number of likes and comments, and comments with a lot of likes tend to float to the top of the event page, and that's good for you. So what you want, it seems to me, is more action on fewer posts.

After I post my "biographical teaser" text as described above, in the comments for that post, I then post my teaser graphics. You can only post one picture in a post comment, so it gets seen more readily than if you post it in a jumble of other pics. I also post book reviews. What I do for these is go to my book page on Amazon and use Windows' Screen Clipping tool to cut and capture the review out of the rest of the screen. Using the Screen Clipping tool is easy but it's beyond the scope of this post, so please look that up on your own. They look like this:

Because likes matter, I like every post I make and I like every comment anyone makes on them, including myself. If you want to encourage more comments with your teasers and reviews, you can always toss in "Do you like this?" or "What do you think of this teaser?" in the text portion of the comment.

The other thing I do is post generous excerpts from the book, usually something super-steamy and/or violent (they tend to go together in my stories, heh). I also post a picture to grab attention on the page. This can be a teaser or whatever. This would be a good candidate for custom graphics but I haven't made any, yet (I'm still learning and experimenting, too).

How to find new readers

When I post about my books, I look to see who's commenting on them. If I brought along a bunch of my friends and fans, there will be a lot of comments by them saying how they liked the book. But what I'm looking for are comments from people I don't know saying they're intrigued by the book and expressing an interest in it.

Usually for each book I'll do a giveaway, a random drawing. I'll post some kind of contest or participation sort of thing that's related to the book. What I'm interested in is a new person I've not yet seen before, posting time after time, hoping for a better chance to win because they really want the book. At the very least, I make sure to add these people as friends and then message them to say hello and just strike up a conversation.

I don't have any illusions about writing a bestseller out of nowhere. I win my fans over one person at a time, usually, and usually during Facebook events.

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09 October 2015

Some Random Thoughts on Writing as Other Genders and Orientations in Erotica and Erom

I just saw a meme posted on Facebook that went like this:
A feminist asked me how I viewed lesbian porn. Apparently "in HD" was not the correct answer.
My books have approached the top 100 in Lesbian Erotica on Amazon. Yes I'm sitting on a big ol' pile of white male mostly straight privilege, but at the end of the day it's about empathy, research, and (hopefully) good writing. Bisexual women and lesbians are some of my biggest fans.

Women of various sexual and gender orientations/identifications love male gay porn and reading M/M erotica. Women love to write it, too. Nobody shits on them for it, at least that I know of. Are there gay men who reject the notion of women writing M/M gay erotica as inauthentic? Maybe somewhere, but I haven't seen it.

Because of our history and the way men have had control over what constitutes history, norms, laws, and policy, there's a lot more baggage involved if men are aroused by lesbian porn or reading lesbian erotica.

It's almost as bad as the misunderstandings that arise about sexual orientation and gender in relation to BDSM. All genders and orientations can be and are Dominant, submissive, enjoy bondage and/or discipline, and are sadists and/or masochists. None of these are sole domain of men or women, hetero- or homosexual.

Lebians particularly, and even women in general, want to express their own sexuality THEIR way, and not have it dictated to them by men. Like anything, being lesbian or existing at any point along the orientation spectrum is not just one thing as defined by a strident portion of the group. Men like to watch lesbians that look attractive to them. Like, fucking DUH. Does that mean lesbians won't like it? Not automatically, but there's a good chance that porn vid made by men wasn't made to appeal at all to actual lesbians. If lesbians made a porn film with femme lesbians, it probably would still appeal to men.

Because I'm privileged and have a built-in advantage, I feel I need to constantly remain aware of it and try to always remain respectful. Understanding and empathy without ego or feeling the need to defend anything goes a long way. I'm certainly not going to stop writing. I don't apologize for what I like. I write what I like.

Maybe because most of my characters are fantasy transsexual/transgendered people that do not exist in reality, it's a little different for me. I'm not going to write a lesbian romance in the way most people think of one. I like bisexual or pansexual and fantasy creatures much better. My girls have both sets of sexual organs. Easterners consider them lesbians. In Japan, where the term futanari came from, all futanari hentai is considered lesbian.

In the West, if you put a cock on something, it's automatically derided as "gay." It's as though if you have sex with a girl who has a cock, somehow you find all other masculine attributes attractive and now you're just gay but you can't admit it to yourself. That kind of "thinking" is so atrociously stupid it's horrifying.

I don't particularly like conflating futanari with transexuals or crossdressers or sissies. If she doesn't have a pussy AND a dick, then to me she's not futanari. But that's just my preference and other people see it differently.

My point is, though, that I bring everything I know and have experienced as a male and everything I know due to empathy and research about being female to bear on writing women who have both sex organs in a way that feels real, that makes you care about them, and that turns you on.

Writing straight men is the singularly most uninteresting thing to me. Gay male erotica doesn't turn me on and I have no desire to write it. I love writing women characters. They're just so much more interesting to me. Whether they're straight, lesbian, bi, transexual, or futanari. In fact I have yet to write a male POV story at all in my career as an erotica/erom author, since May of 2015 up to now, October of 2015 and having published 4 novels. Although that will change in a new series I'm planning.

Look, it's all a big fucking complicated mess. Let's all just try and be respectful, tactful, and cool with each other.

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