Are Facebook Business Pages Needed?

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Someone posted an interesting question in one of my Facebook author groups. She wanted to know if a Facebook business page was a good marketing tool. I gave her an honest answer. I said that while it wouldn’t hurt to have one, Facebook business pages themselves are NOT good marketing tools. The reason why has to do with Facebook algorithms.

The Pros

Facebook business pages are free.  They’re also easy to set up. I had my Marina Martindale Facebook page up and running pretty quickly. It’s also easy to start building followers. I invited all my Facebook friends, and many, if not most, accepted the invitation.

The Cons

While most of your Facebook friends may accept your invitation, few, if any, will actually buy your books. I also have business page for my photography, and I have a follower there who hits the like button on each and every photo I post. I could post a photo of a roll of toilet paper, and she’d probably give it a like. Maybe she thinks hitting the like button will help me. It doesn’t. If you want to support an artist on Facebook, whether it’s me or another artist, then stop hitting the “like” button and hit the “BUY” button instead. Unfortunately, no one ever does. People don’t go on Facebook to shop. They go on Facebook to be entertained.

Here’s the Dirty Little Secret about Facebook Business Pages

Your business page may have hundreds, if not thousands, of followers. However, only a very small percentage of your followers will actually see your posts. Even if you spend the money to boost a post or advertise your page, only a limited amount of people will see it. For whatever reason, Facebook algorithms were set up this way. In my opinion, this is borderline fraud. If I have three hundred people following my page, I expect my post to show up in all three hundred Facebook newsfeeds. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Facebook just doesn’t see it that way.

So What Works?

Based on my own experience, the best tools for getting your books noticed are websites and blogs. I know money is an issue for many authors. If it is for you, then I recommend Blogger. It’s a free Google blogging platform. It may look a little dated because Google no longer supports it, but it still has many nice templates to pick and choose from. Then, once you select a template, you can change the backgrounds and colors to customize it. You can also point it to your own dot com name

For those with more technical skills I recommend WordPress. Unlike Blogger, which has its own host, you need to find a WordPress host. Prices can vary, so be sure to shop around. WordPress also has dozens upon dozens of templates and themes to choose from, as well as all kinds of bells and whistles. I started this blog on Blogger and moved it to WordPress a few years later. It uses the twenty sixteen theme, which is clean and simple. I later found a WordPress guru, and when my Marina Martindale webpage expired, I had her build me a whole new WordPress website and combine it with my Marina Martindale blog.  I also had her build a website for my Luke and Jenny series of children’s books, and I created a WordPress blog for Rosie’s Riveting Recipes, my WWII historic cookbook. It too uses the twenty sixteen theme.

The Bottom Line

Facebook business pages are free, but their range is extremely limited. Too few people will ever see your posts. If you’re serious about marketing your books, whether it’s one book or a dozen books, you will need a website or a blog. Your website is also your own personal platform. You don’t ever have to worry about somehow unknowingly violating Facebook’s constantly changing “community standards.”

Gayle Martin

From the Writer’s Desk does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind. It is written and edited by a real human being. No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter by AI, without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244.

 

AI Will NOT be Writing My Novels

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I’m hearing a lot of hoopla about AI being here. I’m also reading some interesting social media posts about it from fellow authors. Let’s just say we’re not impressed. None of us plan on using it.

I’m also perfectly capable of writing my own blog posts, thank you very much. I’ve been writing them for years, and I certainly don’t need a robot to write them for me. And, like all writers I have own unique writing voice.  So why would I allow a piece of software to take my voice away from me?

For novel writers, writing is very much a form of art. We tap into our wonderful human imaginations and create stories. We create imaginary people and bring them to life. Over the years readers have told me how believable my characters are. I take it as a complement. Interestingly enough, I don’t consciously create them. I’ll start out with a few basic ideas, such as their age and physical characteristics. The magic happens when I put them on paper. They come to life, and they tell me who they are. I also put a lot of love into my stories. No machine can do that. Machines aren’t living beings. Therefore, they cannot experience emotions.

Lord willing, I plan on writing romance novels for many years to come. Writing novels is my life’s calling. It’s what gives my life its meaning and purpose. I will also continue using human editors and proofreaders. Of course this means my books might contain a few errors. No human being is perfect. Making mistakes is one of the things that makes us human.

I’m currently working on my next Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, and I will be adding the following to my disclaimer.

This book was written and edited by real human beings. We do not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

I’ve worked hard to create a following. I want my readers to feel confident in knowing that the novels they are reading were written by me, and not by a machine.

Gayle Martin aka Marina Martindale

 

Blogs or Newsletters?

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I saw a Twitter post the other day from another author asking which was best. A blog or a newsletter? I responded by saying I use both. I also have  websites. The Internet is an interesting place. You never know how or where someone will find you. Therefore, I’m of the opinion that you can never have too much online presence.

The Difference Between a Blog and a Traditional Website

Years ago I attended a meeting with the now defunct Arizona Book Publishers Association. The speaker, whose name I unfortunately can no longer recall, was an expert on online book marketing. He talked about how you need both a website an a blog. He described a website as the place where “you wore your business suit.” It should be straightforward and formal. As an author, I use my website to showcase my books.

The speaker then described a blog as less formal and more personal than a website. It was where you wore your sweats. In other words, a blog was where you could talk one to one with your readers. I use my Marina Martindale blog to share excerpts from my books, talk about my inspiration, and discuss my characters in depth.

Using a Blog as a Website

Nowadays many websites include a blog feed. At one time I included them on my website as well. Then one day it mysteriously vanished. I called tech support. They had no idea what was going on, but they couldn’t restore the feed either. I’ll just say I’m glad my blogs and websites use different hosts.

Some people use their blog as their website. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact, I recommend Blogger to those authors with limited budgets who can’t afford website hosting. Blogger is free and easy to use. You can customize your template to give it a unique look. The only out of pocket expense would be buying your own domain name. It’s optional, but I highly recommend it.

I use a WordPress blog for my historic cookbook website. Cookbooks are unique as they’re not actually read. They’re used for finding recipes. Therefore, my blog/website is for posting recipes and cooking tips, with a link to buy the cookbook at the end of each post.

One final word about author websites. Some authors like to include a bookstore. I once had one on my website as well. However, I soon discovered that readers don’t feel comfortable buying directly from the author or publisher. They prefer to buy from reputable online booksellers, such as Amazon. I’ve since taken my bookstore down and replaced it with links to where they can buy the books.

Newsletters

My newsletter is where I pitch my books. Each newsletter includes at least one “free sample” article with a link to a book except on my blog. I also have a monthly contest where my subscribers can win a free, author signed paperback edition of one of my novels. All they have do to enter is answer a multiple choice question correctly. The question is always something from the book I’m giving away, and I include a “hint.” The hint is a link to another blog post with with an except revealing the correct answer. It’s a great way to get people to read a sample. It’s an even better way to get a book into a reader’s hands. Back when I used to distribute through Ingram I always opted to have them ship returns to me. I’d much rather use them as contest prizes than have them end up in a landfill. It’s a win win for everyone.

A few words of caution regarding newsletters. People have to opt in. Never sign anyone up without their permission. You also need to limit how often you send them. I limit mine to one newsletter a month. The only exception is when I’m launching a new book. I will send them a short, to the point announcement with a link to where they can buy the book. I save the rest for the next newsletter. The number one reason why people unsubscribe to a newsletter is because they’re receiving too many of them. So when it comes to newsletters, less is more.

 

 

 

 

Blogger vs WordPress

© Can Stock Photo / gunnar3000

I’ve been blogging for so long that I can’t remember exactly when I started. It was sometime around 2005, when I published my first Luke and Jenny novelette. I used a blog host called Blogspot, which has since become Blogger. I liked Blogger for many reasons.

The Pros 
  • Blogger is user friendly! You don’t need to know HTML code or have other technical skills to use it.
  • It’s easy to build a template with Blogger. Even the advanced template design tools are user friendly.
  • The Blogger platform is secure. Your blog is less likely to be hacked.
  • Blogger includes an easy to use stats feature. It includes the number of hits, traffic sources, operating systems and so forth.
  • Blogger is free!  It comes with it’s own hosting.
The Cons
  • Blogger has no technical support. Google no longer supports Blogger. If you’re having an issue you have to rely on online forums, which may or may not resolve your issue.
  • There are few plugins for Blogger. Blogger includes “gadgets,” which you can add to your blog. However, the selection somewhat limited, so you may or may not find what you want.
I loved Blogger. I’m a right-brained creative, and Blogger is certainly intuitive. I used it for years. I found it easy to modify the templates, so I could give my blog more of a custom look. However, because there were limits, I could only do so much.
Along came WordPress
While I was using Blogger, some of my author friends were using WordPress. Blogger has a distinctive look. It doesn’t matter how much you modify your template, it still looks like a Blogger blog. WordPress blogs, on the other hand, look more professional.
The Pros
  • WordPress has dozens upon dozens of third party themes and plugins. This gives you infinite possibilities for designing and customizing your blog.
  • You can pick and choose your own host. Unlike Blogger, you can pick your WordPress own platform. Some may offer tech support, while others may not. Prices may also vary. I recommend shopping around.
The Cons
  • WordPress is not user friendly. It’s definitely NOT for people who are unfamiliar with HTML coding or lack other technical skills. Those who are not technically skilled will most likely end up extremely frustrated.
  • WordPress is open code. While open coding allows third parties to create all those wonderful themes and plugins, it also makes WordPress more vulnerable to hacking.
  • Spamming. Spammers love to post their spam in your post’s comments. WordPress has plugins to block spammers. However, they can also make it extremely difficult for legitimate readers to post a comment on your blog.
In Conclusion

If you have the technical skills, or if your budget allows you to hire a webmaster, then I highly recommend WordPress. A customized blog makes you look more professional. I like to keep my websites clean and simple, and I was able to create this blog with the Twenty Sixteen WordPress theme. Please note that some WordPress themes are easy to use while others are not. My WordPress guru helped me find the right plugins for my specific needs, and if I need help she’s only a phone call away.

For those on a budget, I once again recommend shopping around. Nowadays many web host companies include blogs with their packages. This option wasn’t available when I started writing, so it’s worth looking into. WordPress has also changed with the times. It too now offers website hosting, with or without a blog.

Gayle Martin

The Trouble with Twitter

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Someone I follow on YouTube recently posted a video about why he finally left Twitter. He made some interesting points. Twitter has an unusual dynamic. While most Twitter users are well educated people, he noticed they all seem to behave like middle school kids.

I use Twitter to promote my books and photography. However, I don’t engage as much on Twitter as I do on other social media platforms. I’ve always found their platform odd. Twitter used to call their tweets, “mini blogs.”  When I first signed up posts were  limited to 140 characters, which I found too limiting. I’m a writer. I want to express myself. They’ve since doubled it to 280 characters, but it’s still pretty limiting. Therefore, I mostly use Twitter to post links to my blogs and websites.

I use third party websites to post my Tweets. One is Hootsuite, the other is Buffer. Both offer free accounts with some nice features, such as shorted URLs for your links. Hootsuite has a nice dashboard where you can see how well your tweet performed. Buffer gives you preselected time slots to schedule your tweets. It too is a nice feature which can save you valuable time. However, both limit how often you can tweet per day. If you want to tweet more then the limit, you’ll have to upgrade to a paying account.

The YouTube vlogger also talked about Twitter “tribes.” Like other social media platforms, Twitter algorithms suggest people for you to follow. It also recommends you to people with a similar interests. Interestingly enough, my tribe is other writers and photographers, so I’m adding new hashtags, such as, “#romancereaders” and “#photographylovers,” to my tweets. Hopefully, this will attract more prospective readers and art buyers.

From time to time I’ll log on to Twitter itself, but certainly not every day. If a major news event is happening, particularly in my local area, Twitter is the best platform for real time updates. My tribe mostly tweets about their writing. So if someone asking a question about their writing, and I think I can help, I’ll send them a reply. I honestly enjoy helping other writers whenever I can.

Even though my tribe is a friendly one, I’m still very cautious about what I say on Twitter. If there is anything which could possibly be perceived as, “controversial,” then rest assured, someone will get pissed off and start screaming and name calling. Hate to say it, but the vlogger was right. A grown man or woman will indeed behave like a middle school kid. This is why Twitter is, unfortunately, a hostile platform. I find it very sad. It has the potential to be a whole lot more.

Gayle Martin

 

 

 

So Who Markets Your Book?

© Can Stock Photo/ araraadt

From time to time I get into interesting discussions with other authors lamenting about how their book isn’t selling they way they expected. The first thing I ask is what have they done to market their book. Most of the time they haven’t done anything. Many authors, especially newbies, honestly think all they have to do is list their book on Amazon, and people will buy it. Or they think someone else, such as a third party publisher, or distributor, will market their book. 


“Build it and they will come,” may have worked in Field of Dreams. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to selling books. Nor is your publisher responsible for marketing your book. They distribute your book to booksellers, but they’re not in the marketing business. You, the author, are the one responsible for marketing your book, and not taking the initiative means your book won’t sell. Fortunately, there are many things that you can, and should, be doing to help promote your book. 

How authors can promote their books
  • Have a website or blog, or both, about your book.
  • Promote your book on social media.
  • List your book on other websites.
  • Have book signings.
  • Send out a newsletter.
  • Have contests and giveaways.
  • Create a book trailer.
  • Advertise your book

If you can only do one item on this list, make it a having website. If you’re on a tight budget, you can create blog on Blogger for free. Blogger has an array of nice-looking templates and it’s very easy to use. Godaddy, Wix and WordPress, offer templates so you can build your own website. If you have the means, you can hire a webmaster and have them create a state of the art website will all the bells and whistles. Whichever way you go, it’s up to you to promote your blog or website. This is where social media comes in.

Of you’re an author, social media is an absolute must. It costs nothing to open account on most social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Keep in mind, however, that it takes time to build a following on social media, so don’t expect instant results. I’ve also found contests and giveaways to be a nice marketing tool. You can do giveaways through social media, or with newsletters.

If your budget allows it you can hire a publicist, but be sure he or she has experience in book promotion. Book promotion is quite different from other kinds of public relations. Also be sure to talk to him or her about the cost. Some firms may charge as much as $3000 a month for their services. Others may charge much less, and may do just as good of a job as the higher-priced publicists.

No one ever said marketing a book would be easy. This is especially true in a time when anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can upload a Word file to Amazon and call themselves an author. However, unless your name is Stephen King, James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, don’t expect people bust down the doors to buy your book just because it’s listed on Amazon. You really have to get there and do some work.

Gayle Martin

Blogs vs Social Media

© Can Stock Photo / gunnar3000

As authors we’ve all been told, many times, to promote our books on social media. Good advice. Social media is an essential marketing tool. However, just like anything else, it can be overrated, if not overused.

Some authors post nothing but, “Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!” To which I say, “Enough already!” We all want people to buy our books. However, social media was never intended to be a vehicle for free advertising. You’re also missing out on another valuable marketing tool. The blog.

Why I think the blog is still king
  • You Can Engage One on One with Your Readers. Like social media, a blog allows you to connect with your readers on a more personal level. You can share ideas, have contests and promotions, and build your following. In fact, a blog is a form of social media, as you can allow comments. Blogger, WordPress and other blog platforms also allow multiple pages. This means you can also use a blogging platform to build your website. That’s a whole lot more than I can do with my Facebook business page.
  • No Trolls Allowed. Unlike other social media, you can eliminate trolls completely with a blog. Simply set up your comments so they cannot be posted without your prior approval, and bye-bye trolls. You’ve created a place where people can feel safe engaging with you, and with each other.
  • Not Everyone Uses Social Media. Thanks to censorship and privacy concerns, many people have closed their social media accounts. Others never signed up in the first place. However, anyone with an Internet connection can read your blog. This makes you more accessible to your readers, especially if you include your blog address in your books. 
A word of caution regarding social media

Unfortunately, social media platforms can also be extremely distracting, and they can easily take up too much of your valuable time. Try not to spend more than ten to fifteen minutes per day on any one platform, and don’t feel that you have to post something on social media everyday. Better yet, use Hootsuite, Buffer, or other social sharing services.

Social sharing services allow you to post on multiple social media accounts at once. This saves time and prevents distractions. They also change your blog post URLs, which can be helpful for resharing posts later on.

So there you have it. Social media, when used properly, can certainly help you promote your books. However, in my humble opinion, there simply is no substitute for a blog.

Gayle Martin