Posts tagged ‘marketing’

October 18, 2016

Grow your online platform with Bloomtask

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design

 

Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Last year, Michael T. Sheen of Dandelion Platform Design dreamed up a fantastic grassroots way to help his clients build an online platform: Bloomtask.

It started with his clients. Even after he provided some training, many of them weren’t growing their platforms.

“Some of them reached out and did things, but the majority of them would not,” Sheen said. “They said it was overwhelming and they didn’t know where to start.”

Sheen got to work. The result was Bloomtask, a task management center specifically built for growing platforms.unnamed-1

“It’s designed to be done in about twenty minutes a day,” he said. “All of the tasks I’ve created after months and months of research. If you do these things, your platform will grow.”

The task center includes tasks built specifically for Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Sheen recommends starting with two or three channels. Channels can be added or deleted as needed, and the lists can be customized.

The pre-built task lists include five simple tasks per day for each social media channel. Some tasks are done daily, some weekly, some monthly or longer than that. Updating social media profiles shows up every six months. Tasks like unfollowing people on Twitter show up much more frequently.

If clients finish the daily list and want to keep working, there’s a button to add more tasks. There’s also a place to build personal task lists. This section can branch out beyond the social media task lists to include writing endeavors, editing projects, and other marketing tasks—even taking out the trash, if clients want to go that far.

Sheen designed the program to be friendly for newbies as well as for professionals who are already building their following. There are over a hundred video tutorials on the site. Many of them can be found in Bloomtasks’ Learning Center.

The Learning Center includes videos for newbies, like how to get started on twitter and Facebook, as well as more advanced marketing methods for these channels. Sheen says this will eventually be the Bloomtask blog, where he will share marketing methods he continues to learn and success stories from his clients.

“As we grow, we’ll add more advanced ideas,” he said. “We’ll do webinars and answer questions like how to make your own graphics. As we learn more things, we’ll add them, and we’ll review new channels as they come up.”

Bloomtasks’ Inspiration Center is a place for clients to take notes. Writers can keep their editorial calendar there. Bloggers can list their post ideas and even develop full posts right on the site, leaving them and coming back to them as needed. Sheen said he anticipates the site will eventually allow users to post directly to their blogs and social media sites.

“It’s something that we’ll continually add to,” he said.

In the achievements section, clients can track the number of followers they have in each channel. Sheen envisions adding fun activities like friendly competitions to help clients continue to grow.

Because work should always be rewarding and fun, that’s why, and Sheen believes that. It shows in his enthusiasm for his work on Bloomtask.

“It’s been a total blast,” he said.

Sheen talked to several people before he found and presented his idea to Sam Ouimette, Bloomtask’s programmer and Sheen’s 50/50 partner in the business.

“He loved it. He’s been working on it for about a year now,” Sheen said. “He’s put in hundreds and hundreds of hours.”

Hours which, apparently, have paid off, even during beta testing. One client grew her twitter platform with 40,000 followers in ten months. Sheen said every client he’s worked with on Bloomtask has had similar results.

The company had a soft launch earlier this year. Sheen planned to announce the full launch with an e-mail blast, but watch for it other places, as well. Bloomtask is designed for any professional who wants to grow an online platform.

It’s affordable, too, even for starving artists and writers. The monthly fee is $14.99, but anyone can try out a month for free.

Link here to get started.

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, founders of Bloomtask

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, partners with Bloomtask

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June 17, 2016

Big World Network: Quan and Thompson work to save it, offer hope to ‘People and Dreams’

Meeting Jared Quan and James Thompson for the first time was a quietly impressive experience. Both are soft-spoken, and it wasn’t until five minutes into my conversations with them that I realized they are some of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met.

Besides being a successful marketer, Quan serves on several community boards, building partnerships between local cities and the League of Utah Writers. As president-elect of the League, he planned and facilitated this year’s spring conference. The partnerships he brought to the table resulted in one of the best spring conferences the League has seen.

That’s where I met Thompson. I was looking for a stylus, and he had one.

Several, in fact. As we sat behind the registration table, he told me the styluses he brought were part of his marketing plan, advertising his book. I learned he helped other authors with a company called Big World Network learn how to market their books. I learned that Big World Network published serialized books, and that both he and Quan had published with this company.

“Big World Network is unique,” Quan said later. “It’s serialized, so your content is available immediately to the public. I’ve always loved that. Since it’s a serial, it runs like a television series. You’ve got ‘seasons’ dividing up the book, and your chapters are called episodes.”

The conference itself was wonderful, but of everything I learned that day, I was most impressed with Big World Network and the friends who published there. In my mind, they found a solution that most indie authors seek: an interesting way to release their books, a close-knit community of other authors who helped promote each other, and the potential to sell their work through a publishing house.

It seemed like a buffet of hope.

A few days after the conference, I e-mailed Amanda Meuwissen, a media contact at Big World Network. She answered some of my questions, but said the company was undergoing some changes. I worried that the company was shutting down, and I mourned the loss of such a remarkable idea.

Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks later, I learned that Quan and Thompson were trying to help the company transition to a non-profit group. The end goal is the same: to help authors reach their publishing goals.

“What makes me truly passionate about Big World Network is the people who I get to work with,” Thompson said. “Truly a talented bunch! My editors are amazing. Amanda Meuwissen and Willow Wood have been the best at keeping me grounded, pointing out where I’ve gotten off track, and letting me know what does and doesn’t work. My narrators have been excellent. Matt Bowerman, Heather Johns and Charles Eades are amazing vocalists who have kept up with the French, Japanese, Gaelic and smatterings of other languages I’ve thrown at them. Our layout and graphic artist, Mario Hernandez, designed my magnificent cover and did a great job laying out my book and ebook.”

As part of the the transition process, Quan and Thompson set up a GoFundMe account to help finance legal, licensing, accounting and server fees. It’s expensive. The two friends say it’s worth the time and effort they’re putting into it.

“The problem for-profit companies have is they have to be particular,” Quan said. “ You can present traditional publishers with the best written story, but if it isn’t in their genre or isn’t trendy, they have to figure out what will make them money, and there is a chance they will turn it away. A non-profit company can look past the dollar signs, see the potential and make judgment calls on the merit of the work in front of them. I have met so many authors who have amazing stories that are so well written who are frustrated because no one is picking them up. Self-publishing is a respectable option, but we want to offer something else.”

“We do have an immediate business plan and a five year plan that we are working on finalizing,” Thompson said. “I can’t say too much about either yet. I can tell you that Big World Network relied upon quality writing from writer all over the world, and we plan on continuing in that vein.”

Thompson said over 60 authors have published with Big World Network, some from as far away as Romania. Most authors wrote science fiction or fantasy, but other genres were well represented.

“Our best sellers are definitely clean romance, and our sci-fi/fantasy, as well as young adult, though we don’t specifically request any genre,” Meuwissen wrote when answering my questions. “We have published even non-fiction.”

So far, feedback has been positive.

“My favorite feedback comes in the form of questions,” Quan said, “Like, how does that work?”

Another of his favorite questions: What will keep the lights on?

“We will look to be as author-friendly as we can when it comes to contracts, and make a little on those, but the bulk of our income will be grants, sponsorships and donations,” he said.

And one more: What will your focus be?

“People and dreams,” Quan said. “We want to help you achieve your dreams.”

That’s the reason the company started in the first place. Thompson said Big World Network was founded by Jim McGovern in 2011.

“Jim loved the idea of a ‘Netflix for books’ where the author could have more say, where readers could communicate with the writers about the story, and where readers could have a preference for their format, including paperback, e-book and audio,” Thompson said.

Meuwissen said even as a for-profit company, there were no paid positions. Volunteers for marketing and publicity, editors, narrators for audio books and cover design were always welcome.

“Everything is done pro-bono currently, as volunteers, but again, we are always looking for additional help,” she said.

The company had options for revamping previously published work and had even published a few novels from minors.

As Big World Network shifts from a for-profit company to a non-profit entity, it still seems to be about hope. It’s a shared vision for authors who like the idea of serializing their work, of having another publishing option, and of a built-in marketing support from everyone involved.

“I am very passionate about Big World Network because it gave me my first real shot and entrance into the industry,” Quan said. “I am really blessed, and I want the opportunity to help people succeed and reach their dreams.”

May 14, 2015

The Heart of All Magic is 99 cents today

'The Heart of All Magic' went live for Kindle tonight! :)

The Heart of All Magic‘ is 99 cents for Kindle today

I’m trying a Kindle count-down deal for The Heart of All Magic. This marketing tool is new to me, and I’m curious to see what an unadvertised campaign can do.

Well, it won’t be completely unadvertised. I’ll post about it on Facebook, Twitter and here on my blog.

What do other authors think of Amazon free promotions and Kindle count-down deals? Authors near me say they get mixed results, but overall, the results aren’t as incredible as they used to be.

I decided to keep this series with Amazon outlets alone.

I’m curious about branching out into other e-book platforms with other books. This would eliminate my ability to use the Kindle free promotions and countdown deals. I’m wondering whether the time spent distributing the books to other sites would balance out something like free promotions.

I would love to hear your perspectives.

 

October 19, 2014

A change in my tagline

My well-loved 'Level Up' binder

My well-loved ‘Level Up’ binder

Remember way back when I wrote this post about my semi-secret level-up project?

And then remember when I wrote about journaling my life rather than setting goals?

That’s kind of happening. I am still writing for all I’m worth. I’m also still trying to balance it with volunteer opportunities, running a household, and other great level-up projects that I love.

While I’m still very interested in marketing and plan to continue studying it (and posting about it), it’s begun to take a back seat to other interests. With that in mind, I thought a change in the purpose of this blog was called for.

I recently changed the tag line for my blog from ‘Writing, Marketing and Life’ to ‘Writing, balance and my level-up life.’ I may change it again, depending on how well it fits as I ramble on and on about whatever I want to. It may not always make sense, but it’s always aimed at making me a better person and on bringing as much joy as I can into the lives of everyone I meet. Even electronically.

Meanwhile, week three for the #burgersandbooks giveaway is beginning, and I am celebrating by reading book three in Charles Yallowitz’s Legends of Windemere series. Want to read with me?

 

October 18, 2014

Squirrels, apricot leather and sharing the joy of writing

 

The squirrel who ate dried apricot mush

The squirrel who ate dried apricot mush

A few years ago, my sister gave me a pair of shoes that I have absolutely loved.

She passed them on, not because they were worn out, but because she is much more fashion conscious than I am, and she knew it was time for her to try something different.

Now those shoes are about beat into the ground. The insides are falling apart and the sole is peeling off at the toes and the heels, and still I love them.

Here’s one reason why:

Two summers ago, I wore those shoes when I went to pick apricots. So many apricots had already fallen off the tree that they created slippery mushy spots on the ground. When I went home, my shoes were too yucky to take inside the house, so I set them outside in the sun to dry.

And dry they did. I had a veritable layer of apricot fruit leather baked all around the edges of my shoes.

I wore those shoes to garden in, after that, and then one day I wore them on a trip into the mountains with my mother and my children. After our picnic, I started taking photos of the scenery. My girls started laughing and pointing at my feet just as I felt something tickle the side of my right foot.

I looked down and saw a squirrel, peeling the apricot leather off my shoes.

I was reminded of this tonight in a strange way. I spent the day at a local pumpkin patch selling books with other local authors, and I thoroughly enjoyed the autumn-harvest-festival feelings that pervaded the little fair. For a moment, I felt a little bit like the squirrel–afraid of people I think are bigger than I am when it comes to writing, but so hopeful for a delicious successful-writer experience that I was willing to sneak up upon it and nibble at it.

It turned out well. I learned SOOO much from one day behind a table, and I had the opportunity to strengthen friendships with other writers and meet groups and groups of other locals. I actually sold books. Friends from my own neighborhood drove all the way to the pumpkin walk to support me. The sun was bright and cheerful, but it never got too hot, even in the late afternoon.

Marketing is a lot easier for me when I have a support group around me like that. By the end of the day, all of us were promoting each other’s books. There was a real sense of community lining our two tables. Until I returned home, I didn’t even remember that no one new entered the #burgersandbooks giveaway this week.

Now it doesn’t even matter. I plan to keep promoting books and holding give-aways, but that’s because I like them. It’s not really dependent on anyone else.

So I guess I really do feel like that squirrel. I glean happiness wherever I can find it.

Even if it’s not something I planned for.

Even if it’s not easy to access.

Even if I have to get out of my comfort zone to do it.

Overall, it was a smiley, feel-good day. Better than old shoes and apricot leather, and I plan to keep sharing the joy.

 

September 24, 2014

Impostor syndrome, writers and self-publishing our fiction

visit http://jewelallen.blogspot.com to learn more about this talented writer and her new book

visit http://jewelallen.blogspot.com to learn more about this talented writer and her new book

Last night my husband and I discussed Impostor Syndrome. I’m afraid I’ve got a case of it. I can never read my published work and not feel like somehow, some way, I could have done better.

Imagine my delight when I came across this paragraph in the blog post of one of my local writing friends, the talented Jewel Allen:

Having taken a leave of absence from the Tooele Transcript Bulletin, I’d missed writing articles. I also felt a little rusty. My confidence was shaky as I started with a blank page. Could I do this again?  But, like other deadline-driven times, I typed in my byline, and threw down the words like clay on a pottery wheel, shaped and molded them, shaped and molded them some more, threw out a chunk, put it back in, threw out more chunks, until I was satisfied. Even after I hit send and the editor complimented me on a “terrific and well-written story,” the perfectionist in me came up with a couple more ways to switch the paragraphs around.

Me! That’s me! I do that all the time!

It’s why I have a hard time promoting my own work. I can hardly stand to look at it once it’s actually published. I think I might be my own worst critic, and I’m working hard to develop a thicker skin where I’m concerned.

Here’s an example: During the free promo of The Night Ones last week, 237 copies were downloaded. My book shot up to the top ten in one Amazon category for free books and to the top 100 in another. Even now (two days after the promo ended), my book is still in the top 100 for its category for paid books, which isn’t something I expected. I’m delighted to see that, but I still wonder–why? Do people really like my book that much?

I’m pleased, but it makes me feel shy. What if, now that they have my book, they decide they don’t like it? Was it really ready to be re-released?

Deep down, I know the only answer is yes.  Whether I really agree with myself or not, I have to cut my teeth sometime, and the sooner I do, the sooner I can start working on all the other projects that spin around so happily in my mind.

Jewel Allen currently has three upcoming booksBlemish, The Spanish Exile, and Ghost Moon Night. Guess what she has to say about this subject as she prepares for the October launch of Ghost Moon Night?

Maybe I have the mentality of a journalist and memoir publisher, but sometimes, your work isn’t the best it can be no matter how much you’ve edited it. I’ve submitted pieces before where I flubbed majorly on details, or left out information, and, guess what? Life still goes on. You will always find something wrong with your story, or have a better way of phrasing.

I’m not saying I shouldn’t get GHOST MOON NIGHT to the best shape it can possibly be. And novels do have a bit more shelf life than a news article. But, there has to be a balance.

It’s a comfort to read words like this–especially now, when I’m writing the sequel to The Night Ones. I’ve discovered I struggle more with myself than I do with the details of writing. Sometime I’ve just got to get over myself and let my books fly or fall on their own.

That means not worrying about whether my writing is good or not while I’m working on the first draft. It also means not concerning myself so much about what other people think of my fiction when I self-publish it or send a query off to a traditional publisher.

Meanwhile, there’s still journalism to fret over–and I’m so glad I’m  not the only one who rethinks her entire articles every time she submits one. Thanks, Jewel Allen, for making me smile today! I’m looking forward to Ghost Moon Night!

Oh! One more thing before I publish this post–this is the last week to e-mail me to let me know you’ve reviewed The Night Ones on Amazon if you want to be entered in the $25 Amazon gift card drawing/contest thing.

 

 

 

September 19, 2014

Look what friends can do–thanks, everyone! #thenightones #free

Look what I woke up to this morning! :D

Look what I woke up to this morning! 😀

Yesterday 95 copies of The Night Ones were downloaded.  I woke up this morning to find The Night Ones had reached #4 in its category for free downloads on Amazon.

That felt like a lot of downloads for not actively promoting it. I only posted about it here on my blog and on Facebook. While I intend to use free e-book listing sources in the future, I’m grateful to see what just a handful of friends can do.

A big thanks to everyone here who shared the post about The Night Ones‘ free promotion or who liked it. You made my day.

 

 

September 15, 2014

The evolution of a book cover: why I will always hire a visual artist now

I think of my self-publishing experience with The Night Ones as a learning exercise and, right now, as a demonstration of why self-publishing writers most often should hire someone else to do the artwork for their book covers.

Here’s the first book cover I tried to make, on my own.

book cover possibility three point seven five

Here’s the second book cover, also made on my own.

Second book cover

Second book cover

Here’s the third, also on my own, that I made for the re-release while I waited for a final book cover. (More on that another time–the artist I hired works fast. I was waiting on other things.)

green ebook cover red print cropped resized

And, finally, here’s what artist LaRae Monroe can do.

The Night Ones has a new look!

The Night Ones has a new look!

LaRae and I had a great chat about what separates writers and visual artists. Both she and I keep notebooks. The biggest difference is what we keep in our notebooks. Mine is full of words, describing my ideas in detail. Her ideas are mapped out with pictures, more like story boards.

I’ve gained a new respect for all visual artists because of LaRae. In some ways, she can see what I write about better than I can.

If you’re intrigued by the beautiful new book cover, check out the e-book! It’ll be free on Amazon from Sepember 18-22. Also–check out the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Wishing you all the best!

July 30, 2014

Marketing From a Village

Hinterstein Germany Village Buildings Mountains (from pixabay.com)

This past month the local writer’s group I’m a member of held its own book-fair at one of the local parks.

For the first hour, I went, mingled with my fellow writers and watched the band and food vendors set up for the weekly Fridays on Vine concert. Everyone seemed excited, hopeful that the concert and the sign welcoming the public to come meet local authors would bring a stream of locals through the pavilion.

No one said it aloud, but we all watched people gathering on the grass and at the picnic tables as if we might know some of them. As if they might see us, come running in (with their friends, of course) and buy books.

Only a handful of visitors trickled through while I was there, and I don’t think more than a few books got sold, but I still consider the night a success.

Here’s why:

As a united entity, we authors vivaciously reached out to the public.

To my knowledge, this is the first time our little group has ever done this.

It takes guts to welcome new people to come see what we’re up to. It takes courage to put on a professional image, especially when, for most of us, our fledgling works have been self-published and all the marketing efforts are up to us.

For some of us, it takes everything we have to overcome Imposter Syndrome enough that our neighbors, relatives and other people we meet in settings like this will take us seriously. We hope they will at least notice that we take ourselves seriously. (That in itself is a great leap forward.)

I overheard one author say to another, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think we’re all just buying books from each other.”

That may be true. I came home with stacks of bookmarks and two books from my fellow authors, but here’s the deal:

To succeed, self-published authors and traditionally-published authors with little or no marketing budget must be united.

We need to sell the works of other authors as well as our own writings. We need to pass out those bookmarks to every potential reader we meet.

In a world where Talkers and Sneezers make ideas like great books go viral, we need to form tweet teams and street teams that will actually pound the pavement occasionally.

We need a village, and we need to sell to the villages we live in.

That means creating our own wave of enthusiasm, relying on each other to help spread the word, and forming our own movement that can eventually pick up momentum in our own towns and cities and spread to the larger world.

We create online villages by blogging, commenting on each other’s blogs, participating in blog hopping and blog tours, attending virtual book launches and creating author pages on Amazon and Facebook. These are helpful (and so fun they’re sometimes addicting). Wherever we go, we try to seek out our target audiences, hoping they’ll become part of our online villages.

I wonder, though, if they’ll ever really replace people we can get to know.

It takes a lot more courage to reach out to people you can see and touch than it does to reach out to people you might never meet in person. This is one reason why I admire writers who sell their books at trade fairs and arrange for book signings in libraries and bookstores.

Perhaps this is also why I value my writer’s group so much. This last month, at least, these other authors were my village. Even though I didn’t bring any bookmarks to pass out or books to sell, I felt their combined energy swelling up and spilling over into the concert at the park. Since then, two books from one local author have made the bestsellers list on Amazon.

I can’t help but see a connection here.

Her village is thriving.

 

 

March 6, 2014

Why all authors should join a book club

"Epic," by Conor Kostick, in a nice shiny library protective page. :) Take a closer look at the book  on Amazon.com.

“Epic,” by Conor Kostick, in a nice shiny library protective page. 🙂 Take a closer look at the book on Amazon.com.

In November, a neighborhood friend invited me to a book club. I went, although I felt a bit nervous…I had never been to a book club before.

The winter holidays and planning for 2014 meant no real book club meetings again until the second week of February. I attended again, and solidified my opinion on book clubs: All authors should join one.

Here’s why:

  1. Book clubs are a great way to get a feel for what readers love to read. This doesn’t apply just to the books that the club chooses, but also to the way a book is written–the prose, the structure, the characters. It’s just a good way to learn about the elements of a well-written book (and, in some cases, it’s a good way to learn what not to do).
  2. Book clubs are a great way to get your name out in the local community. I’m an open book online (pardon the pun), but in real-life situations I’m generally shy when it comes to talking about writing. I usually won’t even mention it unless someone else brings it up, but in January I took a risk and let the book club members know I love writing. They’ve become a great new support group for me.
  3. Even better, five die-hard fantasy fans from this book club have agreed to beta-read for me. Finding solid beta readers who will follow through in a timely manner can be difficult, so I’m excited to give them a try! (If all goes well, they’ll be reading for me sometime early this spring.)

This month, we’re reading and discussing Epic, by Conor Kostick. I’m about three quarters of the way through and I love it so far. It’s one that’s going to make it onto my Great Worlds list.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think about it.

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