Social Media

Social Media

So now you know what your brand is, what do you do with it? Well you need to avail yourself of all the social media platforms as a way of getting your brand out there. I cannot stress this enough; this needs to be done long before you publish a novel. It makes no difference what path to publication you’ve chosen either. Whether traditional, indie, or self-published you need to start making your brand know

V. L. I don’t have any books published, how is my brand any good without a product? I’m glad you asked. You need to start somewhere for a complete social media newbie I recommend the very basics to start your brand presence online.

1.) Create an author page on Facebook. You won’t have a lot of followers and you won’t want to pay to publicize it, but get it created and make it shine as your little place in the Facebook universe that is all about you 24/7. Whenever any of the Facebook writing groups have a self-promotion day make sure to post your author page. This helps build an audience, just make sure to return the favor if a fellow author likes your page. If you don’t it’s rude and not likely to go over well with the other authors in the group. Did I mention join Facebook groups? Join as many as you can find. Once you determine if the groups a good or bad fit then adjust your membership. It’s easy to leave a group and better that you do it before you start shamelessly self-promoting your books.

2.) Create a Twitter handle for yourself. Mine’s pretty basic @VLCookeAuthor. It’s not difficult but like the Facebook page it will become critical. When creating your Twitter handle don’t be vague. If you have chosen a pseudonym then make sure you include it in your handle. Make sure that whenever the opportunity to post self-promo posts in groups are available that you include your Twitter handle and always follow those who follow you. Also join some of the writer’s chats on Twitter. If you’re unsure which are a good fit, ask your author friends. We all have opinions about what we like and we love to share writerly information with each other.

3.) To Pinterest or not to Pinterest? I do. This one is purely subjective and is a personal decision. I can tout pros and cons till the cows come home, but it all boils down to what works for you. I think it’s a good thing. Especially for authors like me who use Pinterest boards as a collage of sorts for your work. It’s also a great way to allow other people to experience your worlds before they are available via your books.

4.) Tumblr? I’m not big on Tumblr right now, but that may change. I prefer to use my blog as my primary forum.

the-new-youYou may use Wattpad, Tumblr, etc. Whatever social media options you choose to use remember to remain consistent. Don’t suddenly go off brand and start spewing your personal political agenda on every social media format available to you. Consistency is what your readers will expect and it’s what you should give them. Don’t be afraid to expand your brand, just be cautious that what you expand with ties in with your already established brand.

Homework: In the next seven to ten days I would like you all to create your social media persona. I would like you to leave links in the comments so that I can follow you across every social media forum you choose. Next post will be all about social media etiquette for authors. I look forward to seeing your comments and following you.

What’s Your Brand?

What’s Your Brand?

As authors we all know that our brand is important, but how many of us know what “brand” we are, or why a brand is important? This is the first in a multi part series on author branding. As with all things I will be looking at this from the self-published author perspective. I will talk about my own experiences, including my massive mistakes, in order to let you learn with me.

The first step in any brand is simple, it’s all about you. Step one is all about questions you answer to determine your brand. For example, what genre do you write? What subject will you write about? Who is your target audience? How accessible are you going to be to your readers? There are hundreds of questions you can work with, but I chose these. Let’s look at those questions from the perspective of the author I know best…me.

wishing-you-all-thehope-wonder-and-joy-that-the-season-can-bringWhat genre do you write? I’m all about paranormal and urban fantasy. If I can have fun with it and be a little snarky that’s even better.

What subject will you write about? While most think my writing is about vampires, werewolves, etc. I have one goal in mind. To make people rethink what a heroine is. In my case, my female protagonists are older women (typically in their 40s), they may or may not have children, but they are (so far) all divorced and having some issues with starting over. My women are strong, they have survived when others would bury their face in ice cream and chocolate (okay one survived by eating chocolate), but they don’t give up. Also, my women are all larger than average. The politically correct among you might call them plus size, curvy, chubby, pudgy, etc., however as a curvy, over middle-aged woman myself, I prefer to call them fat and fabulous.

Who is your target audience? Adults obviously. Adults, who want to see a kick ass woman in her forties who’s not afraid to eat and admit their weaknesses while delivering the occasional bitchy one-liner and bouts of melodrama, would be more accurate.

How accessible are you going to be to your readers? This is where it gets ugly. By nature, I am very introverted, but I’m also realistic about how authors survive in the real world. I am choosing to be accessible, but that accessibility will be tempered by my need for privacy and separation of author me and private me. I have an author page on Facebook, this blog, twitter, Google +, and Pinterest, all of which I use to further my brand. However, my personal Facebook page is just that…personal. I keep my political, religious, sexual, and anything else that might offend someone ranting to real life. I learned recently that as an author I’m not allowed to have a public opinion on certain things because it offends people. Maybe if I were J. K. Rowling, James Patterson, etc. I would have the luxury of an opinion, but I’m not and I can’t afford to offend potential readers at this point.

So far my brand targets adult urban fantasy/paranormal readers who want to see curvy older women kick ass against paranormal creatures. But that’s not all it is, if you look through my blog you’ll see posts about self-publishing, beta readers, reviews, and more. I want to help others who self-publish by sharing my mistakes, my successes, etc.

the-new-youSo now my brand is self-published urban fantasy/paranormal author of strong 40-something, curvy women who kick ass, make snarky rude comments, all while dealing with crippling self-esteem issues in melodramatic outbursts. One who shares the ups and downs of self-publishing with the public in a brutally honest appraisal of her lackluster skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Or as I like to call myself…V. L. Cooke.

Homework time: So here’s where you all come in. Tell me about your brand. What are you offering to your readers? What can readers expect from the brand that is you? I can’t wait to hear from you.

Reviews

Reviews

I’ve decided that I’m going to start reviewing urban fantasy/paranormal novels. It will help alleviate my constant need to purchase books. I will review trad, indie, and self-published works. Fair warning I won’t lie, so you might not like my review. If you’re curious about my process see here. I prefer electronic books (so I can read in bed and not wake up with a black nose from ink). If you’re interested in having me review your work please fill out the form below. All reviews will be published on this blog, Amazon, and Goodreads. If you would like to me post elsewhere please let me know when I email you.

Thank you,

V. L. Cooke

The Cost of Self-Publication Part Two

the-cost-of-self-publication-part-2I know this may come as a surprise to some, but I’m not a pushy person. I prefer to sit back quietly, while others may prefer to be an in your face salesperson. So when my novel went live, I had a very minor plan in place. I would post on my personal Facebook page and write a blog post. The blog post goes to both my author Facebook page, and my author Twitter account. I don’t have a huge following, so I didn’t know how much good it would do or what type of sales I would see. Remembering my post on the cost of self-publishing, and listening to several fellow authors about the necessity for a solid marketing plan, I knew this decision is a huge risk for me, but let’s be honest I’m broke LOL. I don’t have the funds available to pay for a huge marketing campaign. I’m certain I’m not the only author in this boat. My money has to go for fun things like utility bills, groceries, animal care, rent, etc.

After careful consideration I chose Amazon as my primary distributor for my book. I have a Kindle version, and a paperback via CreateSpace. I set my prices at what I feel is reasonable, if a little high for a freshman author, my only true goal being to make back what I’ve already spent out of pocket (want to know how much see here).

I know this post is kind of boring and pointless, but here’s where it gets interesting. I had one sales goal in mind for opening day. I felt it was a reasonable and attainable goal, because I come from a huge family. Are you ready to know what my goal was? Ten books sold is all I wanted to see. Want to know how many I sold? Four. Three Kindle copies and one paperback sold on opening day.

So let’s do some math. I made a single post on my personal Facebook page which reaches 334 people. A blog post on this blog where I have 35 followers, and the cross post reaches 34 followers on my author page and 361 followers on my twitter account. totals to 764 people. However, I know there are crossover followers so let’s assume 25% are duplicates and remove them from the equation 764 x .75 = 573. So 4 copies of my book sold, divided by 573 individuals reached equals 0.0069 or .69%. Believe it or not I didn’t know the numbers until I was writing this, but a .7 % return seems decent to me, especially since my original goal was 1.75%.

the-breakdownDo you want to know how much money those four books made me? Don’t worry I’m about to let you know. First, you need some important information. I set my prices at $4.99 for a Kindle book, and $9.99 for the paperback. A little high for a first novel, but I believe you have to  believe in your worth. My prices are based on what I put into it, not the finances which I will discuss in a moment, but the time and effort I spent writing, researching, revising, crying, laughing, and everything else. I receive a royalty of $2.48 for the paperback, and one of the Kindle copies sold in Australia (Thank you to whoever it is!) so I receive a royalty of $4.58 AUD ($3.43 USD) and the other two were sold here in the U.S.A (thank you Aunt Teresa and whoever bought the other one!) I receive a royalty of 3.44 per book from the channel they were purchased through so I made $6.88 for a total of $12.79. I’ve spent $1,769 dollars for editing and the professional covers which means I’ve made back .7% of what I’ve spent.

Believe it or not I’m okay with the way it turned out. Yes, I know the numbers to the average person look pathetic, but to me it’s important to know somewhere out there four people think enough of me to buy my book. I hope they read it and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Except for my Aunt Teresa, under no circumstances should you read the book. If I’d known you were going to buy it I probably wouldn’t have made as many eye candy comments, talked about Donal’s body, or used as many swear words. Under no circumstances should you buy book two, it’s even worse.

So what have I learned? Next time, I will have a better marketing plan in place including the necessary funds in place to make it a reality. I will not post it on my personal Facebook page, in order to make sure that my aunts don’t buy it. Finally, I will try to have a lot more fun on opening day. Maybe I’ll go to the beach and watch the ocean. It will be more productive in the long run.

V. L. Cooke

Dreams

Dreams

For as long as I can remember I’ve had one dream…to be an author. When I published my first novelette in July, I didn’t feel like a “real” author. This could be because I did it on a dare from my sister, or because I went from idea to publishing in four days.Today, things have changed. Today, I approved my proof through CreateSpace and it is now available through their online store here. It should be an additional three to five days for it to be available through Amazon’s store, and is available on Kindle here.

It amazes me how that simple of act of letting the book go live, has made me feel like I achieved my dream. What makes you feel like you’ve successfully achieved your dreams?

V. L. Cooke