<![CDATA[Raven's Quill Publishing - Marketing]]>Sun, 21 May 2023 15:50:08 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[6 Ways to Stop Making Excuses and Start Writing]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2023 17:56:28 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/6-ways-to-stop-making-excuses-and-start-writingWe've all been there. Those days when you just can't find the time or the will to write. One day isn't so bad. When a day turns into a week or a month, it's hard to break the cycle.
When I don’t write I feel bad about myself. Like I’m a failure and somehow not worth the food it takes to keep me alive. Harsh I know but that’s how I feel. And the longer I go without writing the worse I feel. The guilt making it even harder to write. What if I sit down and I can only write crap today?
Somewhere along the line, I forgot that writing it fun. It’s my escape. Getting through this was and still is not easy. But I found some solid steps to get myself and hopefully you headed in the right direction. The direction that keeps you writing and working hard to make your dreams a reality.
1. Stop Making ExcusesThis can be hard. A mindset shift is the easiest way I’ve found to stop feeling bad about missing writing days and stop feeling the need to make excuses. You need to understand that writing is a choice. As is not writing. Whether you miss a day because your kids are sick or you decided to binge watch that show that dropped on Netflix, it’s a choice. Take ownership of that choice. Take responsibility of that choice. And tomorrow? Make a better choice (if you chose to binge watch Netflix. Obviously taking care of your sick kids is the right call). Look at your choices and see if there’s a realistic solution to get some words down. Stay up late or get up early are two ways to work around family and temptation.  
2. Daily AffirmationsThis is one of those hokey silly things people talk about. One of those people being my mentor, Tim Grahl. Tim is not what you’d call hokey or woo woo and he even thought it was stupid and made sure no one was around when he first started but it made him change his behavior. When he looked himself in the eye and said he was a writer and a hard worker every morning and every evening, he didn’t want to be lying to himself. So, he made the changes he needed to, to make sure those words were true. Once he got on a good path with writing and work, he took the affirmations and changed them. Anything he wanted to be (More patient, more attentive, etc.) he made an affirmation. It changed his life (read more about in his book Running Down a Dream, which I highly recommend-link below). I’ve just started my affirmations and have found the same motivation. I don’t want to stand there and say I’m a writer knowing I chose to waste hours watching reruns of a favorite show. (Taking time and self-care are not bad. But make a conscious decision about when and why you watch your favorite reruns. And own it.)
3. Working with an Accountability Partner/GroupHaving someone hold you accountable can be a great way to overcome resistance. I once heard of a man writing out a large check to a political campaign he didn’t agree with and giving it to a friend who was to mail it if he didn’t reach his goal by a specific date. He finished the project he’d been avoiding for months, early. While this is an extreme example, you can see how this can be beneficial. I use this to keep on my exercise routine. By meeting up with a friend to go for walks I can’t talk myself out of it at the last minute because I’d have to call and cancel on her. Which I would never do unless there was an emergency. So, I started a Facebook group. I’m in charge of helping others keep writing but the best thing happened. On days when I wasn’t feeling it, other people in the group stepped up and were writing. And because I was getting notifications, I ended up getting a couple of hundred words even on my bad days. (Link to the group will be listed below)
4. Set SMART GoalsSMART stands for Specific, measurable, attainable, result based, and in a set amount of time. One of the biggest ways authors hurt themselves is by setting outlandish daily word count goals because they saw in their writing group that Suzy WritesALot can write a book every three days and they try to do the same. But here’s the thing, Suzy isn’t you. She isn’t in YOUR situation. So rather than set a goal based on someone else’s productivity and schedule, figure out what is realistic for you. I do sprints a lot. And because I can write about 1000 words in 30 minutes, I decided I should always write 1000 words in 30 minutes. You know what happened? I was writing shitty words or not at all. So, my goal for the day, is 500 words in my fiction project. That’s it. I can usually do that before the kids wake up so everything else throughout the day is a bonus. SMART. Keep an experimental mindset as you figure out what works for you. On top of the word count goals, I like to have specific tasks. Like writing a scene or restructuring my chapter. If you work better with tasks, use those instead of word counts or in addition to. Just do you.
5. Daily motivationThere is a slew of motivational videos on YouTube that are free and anywhere from a few minutes to an hour long. I like to use Jocko Willink’s videos. His videos on discipline have changed my life. There’s nothing like hearing a Navy Seal tell you to stop feeling sorry for yourself and go make the change you want in your life to get you through a tough time and moving toward something better. If that’s not your style, there are also videos from celebrities and other professionals to meet pretty much everyone’s needs. Just find someone who gets you motivated and who you can hear in the back of your head as you’re considering quitting.
6. Give Yourself Permission to Take a Break This goes hand in hand with Stop Making Excuses and Daily Motivation and Discipline. When you take a break when you spend the day watching Netflix or with your kids or husband or whatever, choose it. Make a conscious choice that you need a break on Friday (or whatever day in the future) and then take it and enjoy it. Don’t give in in the second that you feel like you need to. Once you give in once it will be easier to do it every day. Plan your break for after your daily task or for the next day to keep the discipline muscles you built up strong. 

Moving forward
This can be hard, and it took a lot to remind myself that writing is fun. Some people do like to suffer for their art but I’m not one of them. Yet I let myself get caught up in the negativity of the writing communities I’m part of and the daily grind. I started looking at writing as a curse to be avoided. But I love writing. And I’m blessed to have a husband who’s supportive and helps me make this dream come true. So, the next time you see a post asking what you accomplished today, if you didn’t get anything done and you feel bad about it, don’t make excuses. Make a resolution to do something specific tomorrow.  Maybe write a scene you’ve been playing with in your head or outline that new idea. You can’t go back and fix today, but you can make tomorrow better. Start small and take it one day at a time. See you out there! 
Helpful resources: 
  1. Story Grid podcast: Is it time for Tim to quit?
  2. Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn
  3. Running Down a Dream by Tim Grahl
  4. Our accountability group on Facebook- You Should be Writing.
<![CDATA[4 Steps to Setup and Grow Your Email List]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2023 14:34:02 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/4-steps-to-setup-and-grow-your-email-listFocusing on my email list, I tripled my income from fiction in 2022 from the year before.
You've heard about the necessity of email from the moment you started looking into publishing. So, I won't go crazy on the why's of it all, but I have to say, this is the only way to be in control of your career. If you don't have a list you're putting your long-term business success in the hands of Facebook, or Amazon or wherever it is you keep telling yourself readers are finding you. An email list is the only thing you own. No one can change the algorithms and take away your ability to reach your fans.

1. Choose an Email Service
There are a lot of choices for email services. MailChimp is a popular one because you can start a list for free. However, they recently lowered the number of subscribers you can have on the free plan and increased the cost of the first paid tier. MailChimp also integrates with most other services you may use to deliver books and grow your list like Bookfunnel. Make sure you look not only at the limit of subscribers but what you will have to pay once you get to those subscribers.
Another popular choice is Mailerlite. Free up to 1k subscribers I've heard a lot of authors say the interface was easier for them to use than MailChimp but that was not my experience. While the interface is straightforward, I struggled with it deleting my emails rather than bringing me to the scheduling page. If you use this one I recommend writing the emails out in another program (word or google docs) and then copying and pasting them in.
Aweber is also popular, they don't have a free tier but do have a free trial (14 days I believe).
Sendfox, grew in popularity recently, I do not recommend them, and I'm trapped with them for another 10k subscribers. They have a niffty automatic setting that optimizes your account and only allows you access to a fraction of your readers then when those readers don't get your emails, they forget about you or their service, Google, stops delivering your emails. It's great fun to delete readers who have opened every single email you sent since they signed on because you have no way to reach them now. That was sarcastic, in case you missed it. I never should have left Convertkit.
Which brings me to ConvertKit. This is the one I settled on after some issues with MailChimp and Mailerlite and returned to after issues with Sendfox. To be clear, my fiction list is still on Sendfox and will remain there until I get my money's worth. But I use ConvertKit for all my non-ficiton and direct sales. There is no free tier but I find the ease of use and lack of delivery and saving issues well worth the price. If I had to start over tomorrow, I'd still pay for ConvertKit. Or I'd be working towards being able to pay for ConvertKit.

2. Create a Hook
A Reader Magnet designed to entice readers to invite you into their inbox. This is the permission part of Tim Grahl's Connection System (Your First 1000 Copies). Not offering something to readers, just doesn't convert in most places. If someone reads your book, enjoys and then sees your email sign up at the end, they'll sign up without much hesitance. But for a new reader who's not sure where to spend their reading money, a reader magnet can make all the difference.
NOTE: If you live in the EU, please consult an attorney. From everything I've seen and heard, the GDPR law is focused on big corporations, not authors but you need to make sure you have all the facts before you make a decision.

3. Place Your Reader Magnet...Everywhere
Your reader magnet should be:
  • In the front and back of all your books (clickable link in digital copies QR codes work well for paperbacks and hardcovers.)
  • Your website:
    • Top of the home page
    • Footer
    • The sidebar of your blog
  • In your bio when you do outreach. If you're unsure if the person you're guest posting on will allow the link, ask. If you can't put the sign up link directly in your bio, you already have it on the top of your webpage so your website link will do.
  • Pinned to the top of all your social media

4. Email Your List Regularly
This is so important. Simply having a list doesn't do you any good. If you never email your subscribers they will forget who you are and unsubscribe when you send them a new release notice. And my debacle with Sendfox proves this. Every time I unoptomize my account, I reach new, previously inactive subscribers which their support will tell you to delete. But we worked so hard to get them on the list and one unopen, or even a few shouldn't affect that. As a reader, I skip emails from authors often, unless the subject is really catchy, but seeing their name regularly keeps them at the forefront of my mind and therefore, my kindle. 
If you're not sure what to email them about, start writing two emails a month. One author update letting them know what you're up to, what your writing, any family trips or special occasions you're celebrating? What are you reading? The second should include the link to your content. Whether it's a guest blog post, a podcast interview or your own blog, get them used to clicking through your emails.
NOTE: While giving away free books can be nice, don't do it all the time. Get your readers used to buying from you by sharing new releases and featured authors in your genre. Check out this article on 5 Common Mistakes Authors Make with Their Email List
<![CDATA[3 Tips to a More Affective Query]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2023 14:18:10 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/3-tips-to-a-more-affective-queryWriting a query letter is a great skill to master regardless of how you plan to publish and here's why. They get you used to reducing your story to just a few sentences. Remove any spoilers and you've got yourself a back cover/product description.
But if you're trying to get an agent or publisher to seriously look at your query, there are few things you need to think about.
  1. Personalize it: When I get queries addressed to Raven's Quill Publishing, I ignore them. What that tells me is, this isn't a person who read my submission guidelines and didn't bother to look at the about page to figure out my name. It tells me all I need to know about what our working relationship would look like. Which leads me to the next thing on this list.
  2. Follow submission guidelines: Publishers do not take the time to write out guidelines for shits and giggles. Or to torture you. They make life easier for the person trying to decide which books to take a deeper look at. And showing that you're able and willing to follow directions can make a so-so book, look like a much better fit.
  3. Make sure the Publisher/Agent is a good fit for you: Getting through the entire process and then finding out this is not the place for you, sucks. And it can lead to bad decisions. Remember your book is worth something. This is a business decision, and you have more power than you think. Do your research and find the people you are not only willing to work with but want to work with.

Now, The Query Itself
Your query letter should be clear, concise, and to the point.
Showcasing 80,000 words in a paragraph or two (no more than 300 words) is no easy feat. But you can do it. As a Story Grid Editor, I regularly reduce books to three sentences. One for the Beginning Hook, one for the middle build, and one for the ending pay off.
Having a clear understanding of each part of your story makes reducing your novel into a paragraph easy but more importantly, it's effective. I've read many a query where the author didn't understand their own story. How can you effectively tell anyone about the book if you don't understand it yourself? It's hard and time consuming. But it will make your writing, your understanding of story, and your chances of getting an agent or publisher much better.

It's a Numbers Game
Sending out queries can feel like shouting into the abyss. But the fact of the matter is, every "no" gets you that much closer to "yes". So don't give up. 

Additional Resources
<![CDATA[6 Steps to Honest Book Reviews]]>Fri, 28 Apr 2023 00:36:52 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/5-steps-to-honest-book-reviewsGetting book reviews can be one of the harder parts of book marketing. You have to actually ask people to read your book and then judge it. Publicly. That can be scary, and resistance can set in pretty hard.

So, before you get to work on this particular task check your mindset. Remember, not everyone will like your book. But all reviews (aside from those from trolls) are valuable. The more people you find who don't like your book the more targeted your efforts can become, and readers will self-filter when they see a review mentioning something they would or wouldn't like. Remember, if you don't have any critical reviews, you're not marketing your book hard enough. 
If you can't read negative reviews about your work without going into a tailspin, that's fine. Just don't read them. If you can't resist the curiosity, ask a trusted friend to read them instead and tell you about them. That filter will save you a lot of heartache and discouragement.

**Pro Tip** If you discover after reading a negative review that you can't handle it, grab a pint of ice cream and find your all-time favorite book on Amazon and start reading the one-star reviews. You'll feel better in no time.

Now, saddle up and get ready for this crazy ride we call book marketing.
  1. Ask People: This might seem simple, but I mean it. Ask 100 people to leave a review. Now if they have your last name or live in your house, Amazon won't let them leave a review and technically friends and family are not allowed to review according to Amazon's TOS. That being said, as long as you don't live in the same house as them it will probably be fine. For those of you who read that and cringe (I'm right there with you) Amazon is not the only place to leave reviews. Goodreads, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, all great places to get book reviews.
  2. Thank readers in the front and back of the book: When I first heard this at the Bookbaby Indie Authors Conference in November (2018) my mind was blown. Why hadn't I thought of this? The Speaker talked about it in a class about how self-publishing was not a backup plan. She said specifically to say something like "A huge thank you to all my readers who leave reviews. They mean so much and help more than you know". Rather than flat out asking or hinting, reward the people who are doing it and others will follow. I changed the front and back matter and reviews are flowing in much faster than they were before so definitely worth a thought.
  3. Book reviewers/bookstagram/Booktok: Book reviewers and Bookstagramers love books. They are constantly looking for books to feature on their blogs and pages. Why shouldn't it be yours? And offer to host a giveaway for their fans while you're at it. You might get a lot more than a review.
  4. Make your book free/discounted and run a promo stack: Most of my initial reviews came in from doing a FreeBooksy promotion through Written Word Media. During the promo, I gave away 1200 books on Amazon and received about 20 reviews. That's not a lot in the grand scheme of things (about .01%) but you have to remember that the first reviews are key to the long-term success of your book and you're trying to get 10,000 people to read your book (haven't heard the 10,000-book rule? check it out on Tim Grahl's blog here.) so there are worse ways to get those initial reviews. **DISCLAIMER** While my personal and professional experience with a free promo has been positive, I've spoken to a few who had negative experiences including harsher reviews and their book's overall rating going down. Bear in mind as you move forward, if your book isn't properly edited or revised, you will find out very quickly when you start moving large numbers of copies. 
  5. Do not ask other authors: This might sound strange since I talk about reviewing other authors work and tagging them in it to introduce yourself. But if you ask another author to review your book and they want a review in return, you'll find yourself in a sticky situation. Not only is this against Amazon's TOS, but if you feel like their book deserves only two stars, but you don't want to piss them off before they review your book, you might bump that to a four-star review and before you know it, you're in a moral conundrum. I don't know about you, but reviews mean a lot to me. If I leave a review on a book that's how I feel about it. But a lot of people are vindictive and might give you a worse review than you gave them out of spite. So, avoid the whole mess and just don't ask authors for reviews. 
  6. Booksprout: I've had a lot of luck with Booksprout reviewers. These kinds of sites can be really helpful to new authors who don't have a dedicated team of reviewers yet. Just make sure you have your sign-up offer (Reader magnet) ready and in the book you use. These readers on your email list are much more valuable in the beginning of your career so you don't have to hunt down reviews every launch. You have a team who will just review it for you. 

As you build your platform
Don't forget to look for the people who consistently review your books and contact you. Those are the people you'll want on your launch team for the next book.
What is your number one tip to get book reviews? Share it here or email me about writing a guest post. 


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