Should you respond to Facebook ad comments/questions? If so, how? #WriterWednesday #AuthorMarketing #AmWriting

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times – don’t respond to comments from readers. But wait! What about nice stuff? Or genuine questions? Shouldn’t writers respond to those? I say yes, yes they should. In particular, I’m talking about responses to Facebook ads. It’s important to respond to readers and create a dialogue with them. Who knows? Maybe one question will lead to a super fan? And what writer doesn’t want or need more super fans?

Here are some ways to respond to Facebook ads.

Invite to like page. Inviting someone who likes your ad to like your Facebook page is a super easy way to grow your following. Sure, Facebook makes you now pay to reach that following, but you can also use your following for targeting ads. It’s super simple. Just click on the thumbs-up under the ad and you’ll get a dropdown of all those who have liked your ad. On the right-hand side of each name is an invite button. Click it and let the magic begin.

FB Ad responses 2

Requests for information. Respond to all requests for information. Some requests will be completely silly. What’s the name of the book is one. Doesn’t matter. Respond as quickly and professionally as possible. You are building a connection with a reader. In my experience, readers are quicker to read your book if there’s some type of personal connection involved.

Deleting or hiding comments negative comments. Before I get into how to respond to these comments, let me explain the difference between deleting and hiding comments. Hiding the comment will ‘hide’ it from everyone except the commentator and their friends. They won’t know it’s hidden. Deleting a comment will completely erase it. No one will be able to see it.

I’ve chosen to hide comments instead of delete them. Initially, I deleted a few comments and sure enough, the person came back and made the same comment again. Ugh! People can be nasty. Now, I hide comments and the commentator is none the wiser.

But when do you hide comments? This is the hard stuff. What to do with negative comments. Some negative comments are easy to deal with. For example, one of my books is a historical fiction and features a German boy and Jewish girl. Unfortunately, I sometimes get negative comments about this relationship. This is an easy one to deal with. I hide the comment.

But what about negative comments that are ‘justified’? For example, I use a picture of a man and a woman saying a heartfelt goodbye at a train station for one of my ads. The goodbye is supposed to be in Germany, but the train is – or at least according to several readers – British. Initially, I didn’t want to delete the comment. The person had the right to point this out and they weren’t wrong. But I noticed the ad, which had been performing very well, stopped performing. Lesson learned. And, technically, what type of train was in the picture had absolutely nothing to do with my book (the goodbye happens on the street with a moving van).

How to hide a comment – Just click on the three dots after the comment and a pop-up will ask if you want to delete, hide or report the comment. Easy peasy.

FB Ad responses

How do you deal with comments on your Facebook ad? Do you agree with hiding negative remarks?

I was once slapped by a monkey ~ Adventures while traveling in India #TrueStory #Travel #India #Expat #MEMOIR #NONFICTION #CREATIVENONFICTION #THISISMYLIFE

It was actually an ape, but for some reason being slapped by a monkey sounds way cooler. Anyway, here’s the story:

On our trip to India a few years ago, we stayed in Udaipur for three days. Totally cool town, by the way. I recommend visiting. During this visit, we decided to go check out Chittor Fort. I was a little leery. If you’ve been to India, then you know getting around is anything but easy. Always an adventure, but never a simple one.

Chittorgarh_FortChittor Fort is a two-hour drive from Udaipur. Like so often in India, public transportation wasn’t an option. We’d need to rent a car. There was no way I’d drive in India myself. I can’t even imagine how you would go about renting a car. The paperwork such an action would create must be crazy. Did you know India and bureaucracy are synonyms? Then, of course, there’s the chaos of driving on Indian roads. Um. No thanks.

With limited time, we decided to hire a driver. This decision did not fill me with joy. I have a bit of a problem with riding in a car when I’m not driving. It makes me kind of anxious. I need control of the vehicle! Don’t even get me started about buses. *Shivers*

Anyway, we hired a driver and off we went to Chittor Fort. What none of the fancy travel websites mentions is that among the old palaces, temples, and towers, there are apes everywhere. Literally, every-freaking-where.

India_cow

Couldn’t find a picture of an ape from our trip but here’s a cow – because cow’s are cool.

What I also didn’t know is that apes are adorable, especially the babies. I couldn’t help myself from taking tons of pictures and leaning down to get closer to the babies. I may have reached out to pet one. Big mistake. Mama ape took one look at me and knew I was trouble. She slapped me against my calf and yelled at me. I’m sure she said something like ‘get away from my baby, you brute!’

Properly chastised, I ran off while my husband laughed his ass off. And that’s how I learned to never pet baby apes again.

How to handle a book club discussion of YOUR book – Hint: Not like I did #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

book club 2

Trust me. There was tons of booze you can’t see in the picture. 

Last week, my book club featured one of my books, Buried Appearances. Sure, I was nervous, but I’d done this before. A previous book club I was in had read and discussed Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker. I could totally handle this, although I did buy lots of booze just in case.

The result? In short, it was not a roaring success – vast understatement. Don’t get me wrong. No one was mean. And therein lies the problem. Because I knew the ladies in my book club – had known them for some time and gotten rip-roaring drunk with them on more than a few occasions – I didn’t properly prepare. Which was a problem since I’m the fearless (Ha! Ha!) leader of the group and usually bring discussion questions to each meeting. Added to my nervousness about the discussion, this was a HUGE mistake on my part.

I’ve been in several book clubs in my life and they all have one thing in common – it’s easy to get off the topic of the book. As I’m a book addict and am a member of a book club to discuss books, this irks me. I don’t think gossip is completely bad. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some gossip. But I think the book should take central stage. I usually handle the off topic chatter by using discussion questions to bring the book back to center stage.

Because I didn’t have discussion questions prepared, we didn’t actually discuss my book that much. We kept veering off of topic. Eventually, the meeting ended up being more about books for future discussion than the actual book we were supposed to be talking about. Color me disappointed.

So, how do you handle a book club discussion of your book?

  1. Be prepared. Make several discussion questions about your book in advance. Make more than you need! Sometimes questions you think will take hours to discuss are quickly tossed aside. If you need help, check out this article from book riot to get you started.
  2. Leave time for questions. Your fellow book club members will have questions about the book and writing. Some of which you would have never expected. (Someone asked me why the main character in my novel didn’t ask a man she meets up to her hotel room. It’s a historical fiction novel with a teensy weensy bit of romance. Not a question I was expecting.)
  3. Create an open atmosphere. A tennis partner asked me yesterday if it was even possible to have a book discussion of my own book as surely everyone would just be nice. Ha! Bloody ha! Most likely people won’t be mean – on purpose. But they will ask questions, some of which will make you feel uncomfortable. Aside from the sex question above, my fellow book club members were upset my heroine didn’t go looking for her mom at the end of the book. Spoiler alert – I never even considered it. Of course, I started doubting myself. Why didn’t I make that the end of the novel? Should I have? And on and on. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night.
book club 1

Snacks are VITAL to a good book club discussion. I did typical Dutch snacks as the book takes place in the Netherlands.

Considering the above, you’re probably wondering if I would still recommend discussing your book at a book club. The answer is yes. Despite being uncomfortable, I did learn a lot from the experience. So, yeah, I’d do it again.

What is your experience with discussing your book at a book club?

What I learned from writing a novella #WriterWednesday #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #AmWriting

you are not your reader

Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque

If you’d heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times, you must have a series to make money as an indie author. I thought I had this down. I have three series, each of which consists of three books. And therein lies the problem. Three books in a series is not enough. What? Why not? Personally, I usually only read a series for three or four books before I get bored and moved on. But – to paraphrase Tammi Labrecque – I’m not my reader, but I am a rock star.

CC&aCv2.1

 

Deciding that I am indeed a rock star (go ahead laugh, I get it), I decided to write a novella to add to one of my series. At first I was concerned about solving a mystery in a shorter length story, but a writer friend gave me an idea and I ran with it. So, I sat down and wrote Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper as book 4 in my Death by Cupcake series of cozy mysteries.

 

What did I learn?

I can bang out a novella in a month – even though I spent a week in Spain with the hubby. Okay, it was just over a month but you get my point. A novella takes less time to write and is therefore less of a commitment. I’m always a bit freaked when I start a new writing project and face that dreaded empty page. Can I actually write another entire novel again? A novella was a less daunting project to start.

libraryI can write anywhere at any time. This is probably not news to most writers. I know lots of fellow writers go to cafés or libraries to write. Not me. I am super strict with my schedule. I ‘like’ to get up early and have a chapter written before I walk the dog. Since the library doesn’t open until 10, it’s really not an option for me. But then I went to the US to visit my family and discovered I can write later too. I just have to sit my butt down and get it done. I do still need quiet and enough room to spread out, but locations and time constraints are less of an issue than I thought. I invested in a pair of wireless headphones, which makes working in crowded locations possible. Totally worth it!

What now?

Another piece of advice shoved down the throats of indie authors is that we must have a lead generator. A lead generator? What the heck is that? Basically, it’s a free book or novella or short story to give readers to get them hooked on our writing (and snag sign-ups for a newsletter). Typically, this piece is part of a series or a prequel to entice readers to start reading the series. I don’t have a lead generator. Who has time to write something (even if it’s just a short story) to give away for free? After I discovered I could write a novella in a month, my thoughts changed. I will be writing a novella (or perhaps just a short story) to give away to readers. I haven’t figured out what yet, but it’s happening.

I also decided to continue to add to my cozy mystery series. I’m hoping to continue with the Death by Cupcake series and add holiday related novellas to the series. I’m working on an idea for a Valentine’s Day book now.

My goal for 2019 was to publish four books. I’m considering raising that to five in 2020 and adding two novellas to the schedule. We’ll see…

~~

This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox! Just click on the graphic to take you to the list.

authortoolbox 5

 

Does John Grisham hate indie writers? My review of Camino Island #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #amreading

camino islandA friend loaned me her copy of Camino Island from John Grisham. I just had to read it, she said. Approximately .25 seconds after the book was in my hands, it was blowing up on social media. ‘Grisham hates indie authors!’ ‘What a jerk!’ You can imagine how the comments deteriorated from there. I wasn’t in a hurry to read the book after that. I’ve had enough of being bashed for deciding to become an indie author, thank you very much. But then I was stuck on an airplane and the other book I’d brought with me wasn’t doing it for me. I picked up Camino Island and – to my surprise – enjoyed it.

 

~ What’s it all about (aka the blurb) ~

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

~ My Review ~

Camino Island was a quick read that kept me engaged enough to keep flipping through the pages. It’s a credit to Grisham and his writing that I kept reading despite not liking a single character in the novel – and I’m not just talking about the thieves! Mercer Mann was a whiner who drove me to yell ‘just sit your butt down and write!’ Luckily I was off the plane by this point. Bruce Cable was an antihero and I love me some antiheroes, but Bruce was a bit too sleezy for my liking. Or maybe I’m just like Mercer – too narrow minded to understand an open ‘marriage’.

The story itself is engaging, although it wasn’t difficult to figure out where the loot was. It was the various characters and different storylines that kept the story interesting for me. In addition to Mercer and Bruce’s story, the narrative followed the various thieves from the initial heist until the bitter end. Whenever I got tired of Mercer and her whining, the narrative would switch to another character.

While Camino Island is a quick, fun read, the real question is whether Grisham is openly antagonistic towards indie writers. In my (humble?) opinion, Grisham is not antagonistic towards self-published authors. In fact – according to this book which, may I remind you, is fiction – Grisham has nothing good to say about authors.

  • Self-published authors aren’t good enough to get agents and be traditionally published.
  • Successful authors have sold out to make a buck.
  • Romance authors write trash.
  • Literary authors are full of themselves and struggle to write.

While I didn’t appreciate Grisham’s admittedly nasty comments towards the self-published authors, I didn’t take it personally. After all, this is fiction. Also, it’s completely realistic. Literary authors and successful traditionally published authors for the most part don’t have anything nice to say about self-published authors.

Have you read Camino Island? What are your thoughts? Love it? Hate it?

How my Facebook ad to gain newsletter subscribers went #WriterWednesday #AmWriting #BookMarketing #Newsletter #AuthorNewsletter

A few weeks ago I wrote about how to attract newsletter subscribers without giving a free book away. (You can read the blog here) As About Face is releasing tomorrow, I thought today would be a good day to discuss the results of my attempt to gain newsletter subscribers by giving readers a free sample of the first few chapters of the novel.

What did I do?

I ran a Facebook ad, which sent readers to a BookFunnel landing page where they could get a free sample of About Face in return for joining my newsletter.

AF lead gen ad

bookfunnel landing page AF

How did it go?

The ad. I’m pretty happy with the stats from the ad. The cost per click averaged 15 cents. The click through rate was 17% for the US and Australia, whereas the UK was much lower at 9%. (I’ve found that with all my Facebook ads the UK has a lower click through rate.) I consider a Facebook ad successful if the click through rate is about 10%, so 17% had me jumping for joy. The 15 cents per click was a bit higher than I had hoped. With romantic comedies, I can usually keep the cost per click to under or around 10 cents per click. (Mysteries usually cost more per click.)

But did all those clicks lead to newsletter sign-ups?

BookFunnel stats. Of the 825 people who clicked on the landing page, 128 (15%) subscribed to my newsletter. I’m not sure how those statistics measure up against other authors, but I’m fairly happy with the result. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. This was complete new territory for me.

I also had twenty-five pre-orders, which I’m fairly certain are the result of the ad. Although the overall pre-orders for About Face are much lower than previous books, I’m assuming this is because I didn’t lower the pre-order price to 99 cents as I usually do.

Would I do it again?

I’m giving a tentative yes to that answer. At this moment, I don’t feel my newsletter is doing very well. The overall open rate and click through rate are not great. However, I’m working hard on that. I’ve working my way through Newsletter Ninja and I’m reading some blogs and taking some courses to ensure my newsletter does better in the future. Fingers crossed.

Should I price my pre-release/new release at 99 cents? #authortoolboxhop #writerwednesday #writertips #writerslife

question-2736480_1920Deciding how to price an ebook (or book for that matter) is one of the most difficult decisions an author has to make. I won’t get into that today. Instead, I’m going to concentrate on your pre-release/new release price. Specifically, is pricing a pre-release/new release at a bargain price of 99 cents worth it? In my opinion, no. Here’s why.

In the first place, giving a pre-release a bargain price will lead to more pre-order sales. In my case, I usually have around 100 pre-orders with little to no marketing (newsletter only). But with my upcoming release, About Face, which is priced at 2.99, I only have about 40 pre-orders – and that’s with quite a bit of marketing.

Another advantage of pricing your pre-order at 99 cents is the ability to place the book in newsletter advertisements. Many of the bigger name newsletters, such as Ereader news, Book Gorilla, Bargain Booksy, etc., will only accept books if they are on sale. And that on sale price often has to be below $2.99.

Using the above tactics, I’ve been able to get my new releases into the top 100 of my category.

release day stats 2

Considering these advantages, why in the world am I advocating to NOT price your ebook at 99 cents? It’s all about the money, money, money. That’s right. Money. On Amazon, which is where I get almost all of my sales, a 99 cent sale will only net me around 35 cents. Despite my sales spiking on release day and for a few days after, I have never been able to recover the money I spent on newsletter advertisements with sales.

So, this time around, I’m pricing my new release at $2.99. I’ll let you know how it works out.

~~

This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox! Just click on the graphic to take you to the list.

authortoolbox 5