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Fauzia_BurkeWatch for Part II next Monday.

At the May meeting of San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, our own Larry Edwards provided tips on using social media to market books. Watch for “What You Missed” for a summary of Larry’s presentation on Wednesday, June 8.

At the May meeting of Publishers and Writers of San Diego, Fauzia Burke spoke on the subject of online marketing for authors, echoing most of what Larry presented. Fauzia recently moved to Carlsbad from New Jersey where she established her marketing and publicity firm, FSB Associates, 20 years ago.

Fauzia’s presentation followed an unusual pattern–the question and answer session was first (due to a technical problem that prevented her use of her video presentation until later). Below are the highlights of the answers Fauzia provided to questions from the audience.

Question: What are the essentials an author must have to market books these days?

  • Fauzia’s Formula: Design + Engagement + Visibility = Success
    • Design: An author must have a website that looks professional, with branding that is consistent with the author’s photo and book cover design.
    • Engagement: Having a mailing list is more important than social media. As for choice of social media platform, Fauzia recommends picking whichever platforms you want or are comfortable with. Those who do not use social media will have a much more difficult time engaging with potential readers or with becoming visible, the third requirement.
    • Visibility: Blogging on own or other website.

Question: What about videos, podcasts, and book trailers?

  • Videos: Not a necessity; in no case should a video be longer than two minutes.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts were really big 10 years ago and now their popularity is surging again. The optimal length for podcasts is 15 to 30 minutes.
  • A book trailer won’t “make” a book. If a trailer is good quality and not too long, it may help with marketing. But it must be good.

The goal should be to build a wall of content in order to build your brand, and then use mailing lists and social media to promote your brand.

Question: I’ve heard that the cost of employing a social marketing campaign is likely to exceed any royalties earned for two years.

  • Fauzia admits this is true, especially if an author hires a firm to conduct the campaign. Her company, FSB Associates, does this type of work, but she also consults with authors to provide direction for them to do the marketing work themselves.

Question: How important is blogging for an author?

  • Blogging is a primary way to build engagement and increase visibility. Every author must have a website which can also include a blogging option. Another blog option Fauzia recommends is www.Medium.com. This platform is free for anyone to join. It was started by the same people who started Twitter.com, so it has some of the same features, including being able to follow articles and contributors. Medium.com sends one e-mail message per day to each follower with links to items recommended by Medium staff or other members.

Question: What social media platforms do you recommend?

  • Twitter and Facebook are the most effective for authors.

Question: Why is developing a mailing list so important?

  • The “open” rate for most mailing lists for authors is 40%. That is significantly higher than for e-mail marketing of other products and services.
  • People are more likely to buy from an e-mail marketing message than from a website.
  • Some tips for building a mailing list:
    • Don’t ask for too much information.
    • Start with people you know.
    • Consider using mailmunch.com: a new app that allows popups to suggest signing up.
    • Yes, everyone hates popups, but popups increase sign-ups tenfold.
    • Timing for a popup is important. If the popup appears right away, it gets closed; a 20-30 second delay is better.
  • MailChimp.com is an e-mail management system with a free option. Fauzia uses it, though she pays for the premium version to avoid the MailChimp ads at the bottom of each message. ConstantContact is another e-mail management system that offers the same features though it is not free except for a 60-day trial.
    • Use stats to figure out what works and what doesn’t and then do more of what works and dump what doesn’t.

Question: Do you recommend setting up a course to promote books?

  • Clients’ agents say that clients are earning more from courses than from the sale of books. But you have to have something of value to include in a course.

Question: What do you recommend to increase visibility?

  • First, begin before your book comes out.
  • Start by engaging with bloggers. Comment on other blogger’s sites to let them know you like what they have posted. Use the time before the book comes out to build a community among bloggers. Don’t wait until the book comes out and then think it’s appropriate to say, “Here’s my book. Please buy it.”
  • Contact fewer bloggers who share your interests than a larger number of general bloggers. Be as focused as possible.
  • Look at bloggers themselves. Traffic or number of followers is less important than finding someone whose interests match yours.
  • Make things really easy. For example, use the buttons blog platforms offer so others can share your posts without having to copy urls and paste them into another platform.
  • Follow-up is key. Two to three weeks after someone has requested something, contact the recipient, but make sure the message is more than just “Did you get my book?” You are building a community of people with shared interests.

Part II of Fauzia Burke Tips will be posted next week.