On TikTok

I created a TikTok account a while back, specifically to explore the possibilities and workings of BookTok. My initial assessment was: this looks like a lot of additional work. Me with a camera? Already intimidating. Trying to create new and interesting videos on a frequent schedule? That might be beyond me. 

So, I trolled through videos for a few months, gained insight into what kinds of videos are on BookTok, and read Tiktok success posts. All of this limited and passive research has finally culminated in one massive video event!

What began as two rudimentary—but highly adorable—cat videos is now a vast collection of three TikTok videos. This third one is a masterful fifteen seconds of page-flipping, text-overlay action. Feel the thrill! Listen to the sound! 

In all seriousness, though, BookTok is big and can aid an author’s success. From what I can tell, this is especially true for spicy books (of which mine is not). I will probably continue to dabble and scroll and throw my algorithm way off, but I might have to consider this one my learning account. Tune in to see my and periodic attempts at Tiktok videography. 

MySpace and then Facebook were the social media tools when I was at the influencer age. I never even picked up those very well, so I am not holding my breath for this one either, but we’ll see. In the meantime, maybe a famous BookToker will read and love my writing and help me out.

Authors have dreams too! Have fun all!

ARCs and Promotion

Social Media

I’m about to show how much of a social media novice I am with this next revelation, but here it goes. Do you want to know an important piece of social media exposure? The answer is hashtags. You need to include hashtags in your Twitter and Instagram posts so that more people see them when they look at or search on said hashtags. Most of you presumably already knew this, but I have never been a great social media user. My Space was “the thing” to have when I was in high school, and I never had an account. Self-promotion and sharing are not natural for me, and I am finding out new things every day. 

One (helpful) social media tip I will share from the Facebook author groups I am part of is: be cautious of the people who contact you to promote your work. When I started using hashtags related to my book, I immediately received a handful of messages asking me to follow this and DM to “promote” through them. Someone even reached out with an offer to review my book on their account. 

All of this sounded great. I’m trying to get the word out about my work and get it noticed on social media. All they wanted was $20 here or $40 there. Simple. Right?

The more I look into this, the sketchier it appears. Many of the promotion Instagrammers have followers and likes inflated by bots, and when you ask about their returns and guaranteed clicks, they get dodgy. In some cases, I have heard, they threaten to bomb your book with 1-star reviews if you don’t end up promoting with them. I am now hiding all promote or DM comments on Instagram to try to limit or prevent these.

On the reviewer side, you have to be very careful about not doing paid reviews. There are some editorial reviews where this is allowed, but this can get you banned from Amazon. They frown heavily on paid reviews, so before you pay anyone, make sure that you know exactly what they are offering, and you read all the fine print for Amazon and other distributors and sites you are on. Fortunately, I did not agree to pay anyone. 

ARC Readers

This is a good segway into the concept of ARC readers and how they are different than paid reviews. First, you should never pay ARC readers. That is how it becomes a paid review rather than an honest review. ARC stands for Advanced Review Copy, and is a copy of your book that you provide, for free, in advance of the release date so that reviewers can read and post their reviews in advance of or on the date a book releases. You often “provide the book for free in exchange for an honest review.” 

What this means could be a myriad of different interpretations. I have heard some authors become upset if someone who receives an ARC does not finish the book or post a review. I have done some ARC reads and reviews myself for some of the groups I am on, and I prefer the Readers Favorite approach: 

“We only post 4- and 5-star reviews. If an author receives a poor review, we provide private constructive criticism to the author instead. We were the first book review company to not post negative reviews because we are in the business of helping authors, not hurting them.”

Readers’ Favorite Website

The groups I am part of are for indie authors like me, and my goal is to be supportive, not hurtful. I will reach out on 3-star reviews to see if the author wants me to post, but for 1- or 2-stars, I generally will not post those when something is below 50 total reviews. It is my philosophy and not something I push on my ARC readers. I give them a free copy for an honest review, so I need to be okay with their choices in this. It’s the “honest review” part; it means I’m not influencing them by payment or intimidation. What a reviewer posts, is what that individual thought of the book. 

Some helpful tips and resources for ACR readers: 

ARCs are important because almost everyone looks at the star rating before they look at the description. You want as many (hopefully good) reviews posted on or around the day of release as possible. The number of reviews also matters. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I think it is below 20 reviews readers dismiss even a good rating, and Amazon does not start promoting books outside of paid advertising until a book has around 50 reviews. So, the next time you enjoy that book you just read, take a minute to rate it for the author to give them some applause for that artistic performance.

Invitation to Action

This week I sent out my first invitation to ARC readers with their copy of Hidden Memory, and I am now going to make an offer to my early blog followers. I know some are friends and family who have already or are planning to buy the book if only to support me. I love and appreciate that support. 

If you would like an ARC copy of Hidden Memory free in exchange for an honest review, I invite you to comment below, sign up via this form, or reach out to me. You will be signed up for the newsletter to receive emails from me, but I can then send that digital copy out to you. You don’t need to follow my philosophy above, but I would ask you to reread the book description to make sure it sounds like something you would enjoy before signing up. 

Whether you sign up or not, I thank you all for your support and engagement throughout this year. Less than four weeks to go!

Publication and Social Media

Before I jump into sharing the social media aspect of my publication journey, a little announcement on the book’s status: The beta reads came back with only some minor adjustments. I took care of those, and the manuscript is now off with the copy editor! I’m on schedule, and maybe even a little ahead, to have it in the hands of ARC readers with plenty of time for them to read and review for the launch. If you are interested in hearing more about ARC readers, stay with me until the end of the year. I will have a post about them as well when I get to that stage.

Today I talk about communication and brand building. When I first began this blog, I mentioned how it is because of the strong recommendation for authors to have one. Blogs are a way for an audience to know an author through more than their book writing. They also connect to the author’s website and can provide a solid base of communication. That was my goal with this blog. I started it well in advance of my launch, intending to publish weekly, so I had an online presence should a reader come looking for me. 

Now I’m a little more than three months out from my intended launch date, and I expect the preorder link to be available sometime in October. The last couple of weeks have been all about communication planning. How do I cast a wide net? How do I capture my audience? How do I offer versatility to my audience’s preferences? What do I respond to? How do I respond when it is going to be just me doing this for quite some time?

First, I looked at building what I am calling “passive contacts.” These are the follows on various social media platforms where people may or may not see my posts in their feeds. I took a look at websites for some of the authors I read to see what platforms they used. Based on that information for guidance, I decided on adding Instagram and Twitter to my existing Facebook presence. This is how I am describing my presence on these platforms: 

  • Website: This is my website, including my blog. You can sign up to receive blog notifications either with a WordPress account or simply with email. Blog posts are short, weekly musings about what is going on in my life, ranging from family, to writing, to D&D games. Few of these posts, if any, will be included in the newsletters.
  • Twitter: My posts will primarily be sharing blog posts, so you can follow the blog through this source instead of the website if you prefer. There will also be some soccer or family tweets in there as well.
  • Facebook: My Facebook page will primarily include brief progress posts and some blog sharing. There will also be some Facebook exclusive events with giveaway raffles. 
  • Instagram: This will primarily be pictures of me, my cats, Seattle Sounders games, and book cover images as they come out. 

“What is this ‘newsletter’ to which you refer in the descriptions?” you ask? Well, that is the part I am calling “active contacts” and starting to build out now. I now have a MailChimp account and will be sending out newsletters! This is one of the best ways to keep an audience because you are directly telling them about a new release or work-in-progress rather than relying on a news feed in an app. I am still working another job, and I need time to actually write the books, so I’m only planning quarterly newsletters with a few extras if there are special events. 

I don’t know how this is going to work exactly just yet, as I only made the newsletter sign-up live on my site last night. At the moment of writing this, I am my only audience member. New audience members SHOULD get an automatic welcome email. I’m crossing my fingers that I set up the automation correctly. There is going to be some learning along the way, so I hope my early subscribers find errors humorous and enjoy the process with me. 

If you are curious about any of this and want to follow me on any of these platforms, I have included links to them all above in this post, and they are the icons at the bottom of my website pages as well. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you are back next week as well for an exciting reveal of the new page I am adding to my website!