Monday, January 26, 2015

Marketing Monday: WordSwag – a Fun Way to Promote Your Book!

I totally missed getting up a post last week because of illness (darn you, flu-whatever-virus-sickened-me!) Because I'm still somewhat under the weather, I reached out to some friends and said, "Hey peeps, can you help a girl out and share some of your awesome book marketing tips?" 

More than one answered my call, and today's post comes from the very talented Jeffe Kennedy, an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year

I shared all of that to let you know Jeffe knows her stuff, and we're very fortunate to have her here today! Take it away, Jeffe...

WordSwag – a Fun Way to Promote Your Book!
by Jeffe Kennedy

For my recent book release, Under His Touch, a contemporary erotic romance, I started using the WordSwag app to market the book. My lovely friend, the fabulous Megan Mulry, turned me onto using it.

You can see in this image, WordSwag is combining a quote from the book with an image. I use the app on my iPad mini (I think it cost $2.99). This is very handy because I can open the Word document of my book in DropBox, search for and copy a quote, then paste it directly into WordSwag. I’ve found it’s better to remove any special characters, because they tend to muck things up. Also, there’s a toggle for “Auto Line Breaks.” Counterintuitively (to me, at least), it works much better if that’s on.

For the image, you can take one yourself, right with the device camera, which is nice because you know you’re good on rights for it. They also have standard templates that are fair use built right in. If you use the search bar, it accesses FAR more images than show in the auto library. You can also access your camera roll from there.

While you can modify the text style on the screen where you “Double Tap to Add Text,” I prefer to do it on the page that shows both the text and image together. There are tons of styles and it’s pretty fun to try a bunch and see what works best for that particular quote and image. Setting up something for book promo – fun??? EXACTLY!

Then you can go right from there and share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest or via text and email.

It’s a fun, eye-catching alternative to the “Buy My Book” thing we all face. It’s interesting to experiment with what quotes work best, too, for capturing attention. They have to be ones that work well out of context and create interest in knowing more. I’m still working on that part.

If anyone has suggestions or thoughts on that, let us know!

Previous Marketing Monday posts:

Marketing Monday: Creating short links and other Twitter stuff

Monday, January 12, 2015

Marketing Monday: Creating short links and other Twitter stuff

There's so much to discuss when it comes to book marketing that it's actually hard to pick a subject to cover each week. I mean, holy molasses, does it ever stop? Nope. Anyway. I was running out of time to get this post up, so I decided to pick a fairly basic task, something every author really needs to know how to do, and a reasonably simple thing you need to promote your books on social media. I'm talking about creating short links telling people where to purchase your books. For example, here's a sample tweet I recently put up on my Twitter account.

You'll notice (hopefully) the blue-highlighted link at the end that starts with That is a short link to the real URL link Long, right? On social media with character limitations, that can be a problem. Actually, twitter will automatically shorten your link for you, but I prefer to do it on my own. Why? Because I'm a control freak? Well, yeah, I am, kind of, but that's not why. There are pros to using a service such as smart url. I'll explain more below.

Now, there are a variety of services that allow you to create your own links. Which one you use is entirely up to you, and you might want to try each one to find the one you like most. I tend to use either and Here are what seem to be the three most common services used by authors:
To create a short URL, highlight and copy the URL of your book link — be it from your website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or whatever — and then go to any of these websites. You'll see a field where you can paste your original link. Click on create a short link, and boom. There's your short URL. Pretty intuitive and simple.

Now, I prefer Smarturl because it allows you to input various links into the same short URL, creating a universal link. Universal link? Huh? What the what? For example, when Gerard Depardieu in France clicks on the link, he will go to Amazon France while if Benedict Cumberbatch, in the UK, clicks on the same url, he will be taken to your book's page at Amazon UK. This is a feature neither bitly nor tinyurl offer, to my knowledge. Yes, it means some extra work, but in the end, it's worth it because it allows you to reach readers in different countries. You're making it easier for them to buy your book, because if Benedict Cumberbatch in the UK clicks on your link to Amazon US, he can't buy the book and would have to go to the Amazon UK site and search for it, and we both know Benedict Cumberbatch has better things to do with his time, right? Also, if Benedict Cumberbatch clicks on your link, massive high five, because that's just cool. Anyway.

I recommend registering for a free account with before you start, so that all of your links will be saved and accessible for later use or adjustment. SmartUrl also keeps track of how many times your short link is clicked on, which can be helpful. Actually, bitty will also show you the number of clicks, and tiny url might, too — I'm not sure on that one. Point is, create an account to see analytics.

Once you have your account created, click on CREATE smartURL. You'll see a field for "default URL" link, which is where you should put your primary link. For me, since I'm in the United States, my primary link would default to Amazon US's link for my book. The primary link is entirely your decision. 

Next, you'll see a field for "Country Destinations." This is where extra work is required. If your book is listed on Amazon UK, but you're in the US, you'll have to go to the Amazon UK website, copy and paste the link for your book, and then paste it into this field, along with the name of the country. Amazon has websites specific to many countries — is Amazon Canada, is Amazon France, is Amazon Germany, is Amazon Spain, is Amazon UK, and is Amazon US. I recommend visiting each, and if your book is available for purchase on any of them, adding it to your Smarturl for that book. A complete list of all of the Amazon websites can be found here:

Remember how I mentioned analytics earlier?

It's a good idea to review your tweet analytics whenever you get a chance. It can help determine if your tweets are worded in a way that is driving people to learn more about your books. With that in mind, I recommend anyone using Twitter take advantage of Twitter analytics, too. Simply go to It's free! You can see how many people have clicked on your links, etc.

I hope you find this information helpful. Still have questions? Recommendations on other shortening services? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading.


Marketing Monday: Some tips on gifting books to readers

What new authors need to know, but no one usually tells them

Monday, January 5, 2015

Marketing Monday: Some tips on gifting books to readers

Happy Monday! I know. No such thing.

Still, as I said in my last post, I've decided to dedicate this day on my blog to sharing some marketing tips for authors selling books. Some I've learned, usually the hard way, or I'll invite my friends to share tricks they've learned. In case you missed it, my blog post titled "What new authors need to know but no one ever tells them" is one of the most popular posts I've ever written. I figure this either means lots of aspiring and new authors found the information really helpful or those pesky Internet bots really like that title. Either way, eh, why not? Please do keep in mind that the following tips are based on my own experiences and always subject to change over time.

For my inaugural post, I thought I'd share some tips on getting your books to readers. You've written a book. High-five yourself! But how do you get it into the hand of readers? Word-of-mouth is a powerful way to sell books, so you might want to gift copies of your books to readers in advance of or soon after its release to spur hype. Lots of authors will gift copies to readers via contests. Awesome, right? But, uh, how do they do it, you might be wondering. Obviously, if you have a paperback, you can simply pop it into the post and off it goes, but ebooks are a whole other ballgame.

If you're being published by someone other than yourself, it's a good idea to check your contract to see if your publisher has placed any limitations on the number of ebooks you can legally gift to others. Not all publishers include a limit, but many do.

And, here's some technical mumbo jumbo to consider. There are a number of ways to gift copies of your ebooks to readers, but you should really think twice before simply emailing a copy to anyone. Unfortunately book piracy is a thing, and it's a bad, bad thing for your sales. Don't be surprised if you email a copy of your ebook to someone and then find it on Pirate Bay a month later. DRM (Digital Rights Management) is encoded on most ebooks by publishers and book retailers to make it difficult to share ebooks with others. But unfortunately, even ebooks purchased from sites such as Amazon can be redistributed by people who figure out how to break the DRM coding on it. And if you receive an advance ebook copy from your editor or publisher prior to its release, it's probably not encoded with a DRM yet.

First, you'll need final, approved copies of your ebooks to send. Generally, your editor or publisher will send these to you months before your publication date so that you can contact potential reviewers and, yes, give away to readers through contests. There are generally three formats you can or will receive: PDF, epub, and Mobi. It's important to note that not all ereaders can read the same format. If you're gifting a copy of your ebook to a reader, be sure to ask which type of device they have. That will determine your next step. Kindles accept only Mobi and PDF files. Nooks and Kobos accept only epub and PDF files.

You have options when it comes to gifting ebooks to readers:

  1. Purchase the ebook from a retailer such as Amazon and have it delivered directly to your recipient. 
  2. Email the ebook to your recipient.
  3. Send the ebook directly to the recipient's device yourself.

There are pros and cons to each.

Purchasing the ebook from a retailer is an easy option, as it guarantees the ebook will be delivered with DRM coding and decreases the risk of piracy. However, it obviously costs you money, and Amazon, in particular, might prevent the recipient from posting a rating or review of the book because it will associate your account with the gifted ebook and assume the recipient is a biased friend. One possible workaround is to gift the ebook from an Amazon account NOT associated with your Amazon Author profile (which you really should have). But you'll still be out of pocket for the cost of the book.

Emailing the book to your recipient is easy, but you run a serious risk of piracy. Enough said.

Sending the ebook directly to the recipient's device is also easy, costs you nothing out of pocket, and decreases the risk of piracy (although a really tech-savvy person would still be able to pirate it, you're making it harder for them).

So I recommend the third choice, and here's how to do it.

For a Kindle, you'll have to ask the recipient for their Kindle email address. They can find this by logging into their Amazon account and selecting “Manage Your Content and Devices.” Click on “Settings” and scroll down to find their Kindle’s email address.

You'll need a copy of your book in Mobi format. Your publisher should be able to send it to you in that format, but if they don't, I recommend you download a free program called Caibre. It will convert epubs into Mobi or PDF files. You can also send directly from Calibre, or you can open your email, insert the recipient's Kindle address into the send to field, attach your Mobi file, and hit send. And you're done.

So what if your recipient has a Nook or Kobo?

Unfortunately, neither of those seem to yet have a "send to" feature like the Kindle, but there are workarounds if your recipient is willing. For example, Nook owners can install the Kindle app on their device. Simply follow the directions above once they've installed the app.

Kobo owners can acquire the epub files using the app Grab My Books.

I know. You're probably thinking this sounds really complicated and way too hard and why can't you just write books and leave this stuff to the Promo Fairies. I hate to break it to you, but YOU are the Promo Fairies.

Trust me. It's easier than it sounds, and once you do it a couple of times, it'll be a piece of cake.

So there's a lot of information. Questions? Need clarification? Hit me up in the comments below.


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