<![CDATA[Raven's Quill Publishing - Marketing]]>Fri, 12 Apr 2024 04:57:32 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[How do you start marketing when your without money or an email list?]]>Tue, 02 Apr 2024 07:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/how-do-you-start-marketing-when-your-without-money-or-an-email"I can't sell my book without a list and I can't get a list without selling my book!"
I hear this lament often. Followed by "How do I advertise my book if I don't have money to spend on ads?"
If you've felt this way, you're in luck. There are ways around both, and I'm going to help you get started. These are the very basics of book marketing.
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Image by talha khalil from Pixabay
The following are the easiest things you can do to market your book with little to no money. Links may be affiliate links.
  1. Start and Grow Your Email List
    Choose a provider: I recommend ConvertKit. It's the best option I've found so far with a free option up to 1000 subscribers and $29 per month after.
    Set up a landing page: you can put in the front and back of your books as well as on your website and social media to catch readers as they trickle in from your other marketing efforts.
    The step everyone hates: Ask 100 people to join your email list. Everyone hates this but its serves two very important purposes. First, it gets you used to asking for the sale (this is marketing, it's not tacky, it's not sleazy. You made an awesome book, and you can ask for money or in this case, an email address, as compensation for that work) and, you'll begin to be unaffected by the word no. If someone says no, thank them for their time and move on. Every "no" is one step closer to yes. All while giving you a much more forgiving start to email marketing. Eventually these folks may unsubscribe. And that's okay. Hone your craft. 
  2. Social Media
    Social media is the magic sauce and the bane of your existence as an author. Many authors make a good living because of social media and it's because of this, along with the fact that it's free, that it made the list. Even before TikTok arrived on the scene and ended the "social media doesn't actually sell books" era, it was good for connection with readers and getting them onto your email list where most will buy from you.
    In today's social media landscape there are infinite possibilities. I'll let you know what I do and why, so you can form your own plan from there. 
    I create a video in TikTok, download it, and post it to Instagram, which is where I get most of my traction, and have my account set up to cross post to Facebook so I don't have to think about. Facebook can be a huge time suck for me if I'm not careful, I get lost and the sourdough videos or those organization ones. I could watch them all day. So cross posting from Insta helps me stay on track. 
    Why don't I just make videos in Instagram? There's no easy way to get royalty free music in Instagram. No matter what I've tried my reels always end up with the sound removed. TikTok makes it easy to find music from artists who have set it to royalty free, meaning I'm allowed to use it for sales which is the purpose of all my videos. 
    Social media is still a great place to gain newsletter subscribers and interact with fans as well, but I use it for sales almost exclusively. I do interact with readers who comment on my videos but it's usually to explain how they can pause the video to read the text. 
  3.  Author Clan
    Your author clan is a group of authors in a similar place on the publishing journey. They don't have to be in your genre, but it makes it easier to share each other's work and get more out of them sharing yours. These people should become friends if they aren't already and as you hit road bumps along the way, they can help you navigate them. Just make sure you aren't review swapping. It's against Amazon and other TOS. Instead, add their genuine review as an editorial review within Author Central or on your site and list their pen name as Author of NEWEST RELEASE.
  4. Excerpts and Freebies
    You'll hear a million reasons not to give away your books, but the truth of the matter is, if you're new, there are tons, millions of books out there and they all want your readers attention. And many readers have been burned by poorly written or edited self-publishing books in the past. Even some trade books that are just, not done well. As a result, offering a short piece or novella that a reader can use to give you a chance without a lot of risk, can help them give you a shot. If you only have one book, I recommend a sample they can't get from the look inside feature or samples most retailers provide. 
  5. Keep Writing
    It's hard to make a profit on one book. So, keep writing. The more you have to offer the easier this marketing thing becomes. Get started on that next book, plan that next release, and keep the wheels of progress in your writing career moving. 

All of these things are good practice and should be used as a regular part of your book marketing strategy. Need help developing your strategy? Take the Quiz today.
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<![CDATA[Book Marketing 101: How to Create a Reader Magnet]]>Mon, 11 Mar 2024 07:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/book-marketing-101-how-to-create-a-reader-magnet​Book marketing can be a complicated beast, but it doesn’t have to be. Your author platform is what you use to sell your books. An important part of that platform is your email list. So, once you’ve designed (Or paid someone to design) a fantastic cover, and chosen the perfect software for your email list, it's time to get readers to give you a chance.
A subscriber magnet or reader magnet is something you giveaway to potential fans.
 What is a reader magnet?

The term Reader Magnet was coined by Nick Stephenson of Your First 10k Readers. A reader magnet is something that's used to hook new potential readers or reward fans. It's a digital product you give to new subscribers so they will sign up for your email list. Make sure you have that little check box that states the person is consenting to receiving mailings in their inbox to ensure GDPR compliance.

One of the most important pieces of the author platform puzzle is your email list. But how do you get people to sign up? Two things: you write awesome books and you create a compelling magnet to hook new readers. The hook is something of value you create to get people to sign up for your list. It can be anything (I’ll throw out some ideas farther down) but many authors use a free book. A first in series or prequel novella does the trick nicely.  

Why you need a good Reader Magnet (the value of a subscriber vs a buyer with the math)
 Why would you give away something you worked hard to create instead of selling it? This is the number one complaint when I talk to authors about creating a hook. But it's backwards thinking. When you’re getting an email address and permission to stay in contact and build a relationship with a reader you’re getting so much more than the $2 selling it on Amazon. 
Let’s do the math. Say you have a seven-book series planned. If someone buys the first book on Amazon for $2.99 you’ll get $2. Now you have no idea who that person is or how to contact them when the second book comes out. 
If you give them the first book in exchange for their email address you now have permission to share the subsequent books with them as you launch them. So, if you have seven books coming out you could get $2 from the random buyer or you could get $14 from the person who signed up for your list. $14 might not sound like much but multiply it by 500, or 5000 and you can see how this could change your life. Launching a new series? You can bring your fans along with one email. You can also ask for reviews, ask them to share it with friends, and get feedback if you have the email connection. 
($2.99 is a common price point with easy math which is why I used it as an example. You should always experiment with the price to see where you make the most money and keep your readers happy.)

The Importance of an Experimental Mindset
When you’re creating something to attract an audience, you need to be ready to experiment. Your mindset as you move forward can make or break your efforts. This is true in all aspects of book marketing, not just in crafting a reader magnet. Some authors use different books as freebies to get readers to take a chance on them. Changing the free book every couple of months. Trying things out and seeing how they convert is the best way to find the best hook for your audience. Don’t worry about wasting energy on what you’re creating. These digital products can have many uses and you’ll find they’re good for more than just hooking new readers.

Thinking outside the box: 5 hooks that are not books
While using prequel stories or the first in series is perfectly acceptable, you can also come up with something completely unique and fun to get readers more involved. Write non-fiction? No worries I have you covered too.
The thing to remember when designing your reader magnet is it should be digital. You don't want to mess around with shipping and trying to get to the post office and things. Keep it simile and on the internet. Think PDF, Video, special access to parts of your site etc.

Series companion (Backstories of characters, events leading up to the series etc.)
A series companion is not only great for you to look back on as you write forward (I can’t tell you how many times I forgot what clues I dropped or what events/characters I alluded to in the last book!) It’s also a lot of fun for readers. Having a timeline of events and characters that are easy to check back through is something all fans will want.

Character sketches (bio, background, actual artwork of the characters)
Hiring an artist to draw your characters and then writing out their histories for fans is a great hook and an excellent way to get to know your characters.

Video/audio interviews (excellent for non-ficiton and memoir but don’t forget fiction)
Video and audio interviews are perfect for non-fiction books. Get an expert on the topic of your book to chat with you for an hour or so and give the audio away to your fans. Don’t forget to provide links to the expert’s website and/or contact information. They’ll appreciate you spreading the word and so will your fans!
Audio/video can also be a great way to get fans interested in fiction books. I’d host a live Q&A with fans and then offer the recording up as a way for new fans to get to know the books and characters.

Access to your WIP (first few chapters/send book as you write it)
Many authors do this and find success. Sharing their book as they write it or giving away the first three (or so) chapters. This is fun way to get people to sign up for your list while getting feedback on your work! My only recommendation is to make sure you’re willing to stick to a strict schedule if you intend to send out an entire book chapter by chapter. Writing the book and sending it as you edit is a great way to stay motivated during edits and ensure you can keep your promise to your readers.  

Courses
Courses are a value-packed way to share a piece of what your book has to offer. For example if your book is on how to start a business you might give away an email course on marketing or finding new clients. 
If you’re a fiction author, you might say this isn’t for you. But get creative before you throw in the towel. If you’re writing a steamy romance that takes place in a bakery, put together your favorite five to ten cupcake recipes (or cookies whatever you prefer) and do a few how-to videos for fans. If you wrote a specific time period you can put together lessons on that. Make sure whatever you choose it fits your target market.

Need some help getting started?
Analyze the other authors in your genre. Look at what they’re doing to get an idea for what your audience expects and see if you can make it better. Wondering how to go about this? Check out Belinda Griffin's blog post for Kindleprenuer.com.
Where to position your hookOnce you’ve created your hook you need to place it where people can find it easily. Below are all the key places you need to make sure to put your hook.
  • Website
    • Top of homepage
    • Bottom of all pages
    • Popup- Authors tend to be resistant to this one but it’s easy to set boundaries and they convert very well. I have mine set not to pop up for a user after they’ve closed it for a week.
    • Sidebar of blog or shareable content
  • Front and back of your books
    • Clickable links in ebooks with an image
    • Do not put limited time offers in your books. It’s a pain to reformat later. 
  • Social media
    • Pinned posts
  • In the bio of all your guest posts/reviews
    • ​​This is so important! You should be directing people to your website but if you’re allowed to add it to your bio in the post itself, do it. People like the path of least resistance and this is the best way to gain new subscribers quickly. 

Updating your magnet
You may create new hooks throughout your career. The only time you need to update your backlist is when a specific hook is no longer available. This could be because you made it a limited time offer (in which case you shouldn’t put it in your ebooks unless you format them yourself) or you created something new that you believe is better or brings in more sign-ups. 
Social media and your site are easy enough to update as you create new hooks. Keep the most relevant and newest hooks present in those places. 

Different hooks for different series
I create a new hook for every series and subseries. That’s just how I like to do it. You can create one hook and never look back if that’s what you prefer. (as long as it’s converting to new subscribers.)

Should you get rid of a series hook if you’re focusing on a new series? 
There are a few things you can do to keep your old series selling as you bring in readers with the new series. You can leave the sign up on your website so visitors who are new to you can give that series a go. You can also include it in your automated emails that welcome new subscribers. As a bonus gift for signing up. One author I sign up with had a special page that you could only see if you have the link where you could choose from a number of free books as a thank you. Old hooks could be used in this way as well. 

Scarcity- What is it and when and how you should use it
Scarcity is a great way to sell books. If you want to create something that is only available for a short period of time, I’d recommend giving it to people who pre-order your book. You can ask those people if they want to join your list but that’s on the backburner in this case. For your hook, try and create something long-lasting that you don’t mind leaving in the front and back of your previously published books.

Conclusion
Getting email list subscribers is the foundation of an author’s business. And make no mistake, this is a business. Having a simple “Sign up for updates” will not convert. I had no subscribers from my site (despite having plenty of traffic) until I create a hook. On my fiction site I offer a free book (but I have plans for a book of character sketches) and on my non-fiction site, I have a free guide to building your author platform.   
Checklist for where it should be
  • On your website
    • Top of homepage
    • Bottom of every page
    • In a popup
    • Sidebar 
  • In your books
  • On any and all guest posts/bios for interviews
  • On social media

Remember to have fun with it!
Marketing doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. The sky is literally the limit here. Get creative and have some fun!

Author

Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.

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<![CDATA[Book Marketing 101: Website]]>Mon, 04 Mar 2024 08:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/book-marketing-101-websiteWhy do you need an author website? I’ve heard from more than one person that websites will be obsolete because of things like Facebook pages and Tumblr. While those platforms have their place in this process, I wouldn’t count on that (at least not anytime soon). Your website is the place your fans can find you. It’s where you can sell your products, get email list sign-ups, and post interesting content to attract new people and keep your existing fans engaged. And, it can't be taken away from you, because you own it. 
**Note** some links provided are affiliate links.

Basically, your website is an employee. It's working 24/7 for you convincing readers to give you a chance and grow your email list.

Hosting
I started out with a GoDaddy hosted site while they weren’t technically bad, I found they snuck in extra charges and were constantly asking me for more money just to keep my site functional. When I researched other hosting options I wanted to see what other authors and leaders in indie publishing were using and recommending. Most of them recommend BlueHost. I can’t lend personal experience to my recommendation but Joanna Penn and Tim Grahl highly recommend BlueHost so I’d say they’re a safe bet. The price tag was just too much for me right now (I’d rather spend it on professional editing) so at the recommendation of a fellow indie author I looked into SiteGround for hosting. I really like them. I’ve only been using them so far it’s been an amazing experience.

Site Builder
Siteground helped me build my site while keeping my existing site active and then helped me move it to my domain once I was done so I never had any time without a site. 
I wish I had taken a screenshot of my old site so you could see the difference. 
When I revamped my site I wanted something that was easy to build and change when I wanted and I needed to able to do everything myself. After a lot of time spent on other author’s sites, I decided to go with a WordPress site. It’s easy to build and make changes. Here’s a link to my new author site if you want to check it out www.cameronquinnbooks.com.

A great alternative is Weebly, though I found they also had some hidden charges during sign-up, unlike GoDaddy, they aren’t constantly hounding me for money. I used Weebly when I was Amphibian Authors and I loved it for nonfiction. 

In the Long Run
However, I ultimately switched to Wordpress for this too. Using the Business Pro Theme from StudioPress. I decided to make the switch because Wordpress had more features I needed. And it's difficult to switch, so make sure you know what you need and make an educated choice. If you need help, sign up for a free thirty minute consultation with me here. (I mean free, no obligation. I like helping people."
For my Wordpress site (linked above) I chose to buy a theme from StudioPress. I used the Author Pro theme, as of the time I purchased, you can use it on as many sites as you need to so this is a great option for multiple pen names (I will have three by this time next year and no I don’t recommend it. If you can stick with one, do that. It’s way easier). Here’s a link to J.F. Penn’s site (Joanna’s fiction site) so you can see how different the theme can be. I bought this one on her recommendation and I wouldn’t go back if you paid me a million dollars. 

The Purpose of Your Site
When you’re setting up your site, you need to remember the goal of this piece of your platform is not sales. I know that seems counterintuitive but having permission to contact your fans is far more important (read: Valuable) than an individual sale. Think about it, would you rather have one sale today or a lifetime of sales from a fan? 
To utilize this, you need to make sure your email sign up is at the top of the homepage, in a sidebar on all other pages and you can use a pop up for good measure. A LOT of authors hate the popup. They feel like its spammy and pushy and sleazy, so here are some tips to make sure you are none of those. First, most pop-ups have a setting for when they appear. I set mine for when someone has browsed 70% of the page and if they close it they won’t see it again for two weeks. That way it’s not pushy. I've joined lists after a few visits to the site before.
Depending on what you're offering for sign up to your list you might want to have a page dedicated to it. I have a free book page on my fiction site but will likely stick with a popup and side bar for this site. (If you'd like email updates, the free author platform worksheet and email course, when they're finished you can sign-up here).

Your About Page
About pages are the most read pages on author websites. 
You’ll also want a contact page for when we get into the outreach portion of this series.
And of course, you need your book pages. Using the Author Pro theme you can get a library plugin that allows you to set up your books as I have them on my site and Joanna has them on the J.F. Penn site. 

Legal Jargon
Because of changes in GDPR, effective May 25th, 2018, you will also want to have a privacy policy. Here’s a link to a webinar Nick Stephenson did with Lawyer Suzanne Dibble to help you out. 
You can add a blog page or not at this point. I will go over your options in more detail when we get to the content section. I know fiction authors get frustrated with blogs but have no fear, I have a few solutions for you. 
Thanks for reading! How do you feel about your website? Do you need help with your marketing? Click here to see our marketing packages so we can start helping you today!
Marissa Frosch is a book marketer with nearly a decade worth of experience under her belt as well as a developmental editor. If you think she can help you with your book or publishing process, click here.
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<![CDATA[Book Marketing 101: Outreach]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2023 07:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/book-marketing-101-outreachYou've got your platform, but now what?
How do we connect with readers? Through outreach.
Outreach is how you drive traffic to your newly optimized site and get new subscribers to your list and new readers to your books.
The best way to grow your audience and find your tribe is to ask other people for an introduction to theirs. Take advantage of the other authors in your genre as well as podcasts and book blogs. Be sure to share your interviews and guest post with your audience so the influencer you’re connecting with also sees a bump in their growth. Sharing is caring after all.

Outreach is really important for your platform.
It’s how you’re going to sell books and grow your email list. But it’s also the hardest part. Before you start, you need to think back to Tim’s definition of Marketing: Making long-lasting connections with people and being ridiculously helpful. Podcasts need guests to keep running, you’re helping by asking to be a guest. Make sure you tell the host why you’re a good fit for their audience. The same with blogs. Bloggers need to come up with content often to keep their site moving.  

Here’s what you need to do:
  • Make a list of everything you feel comfortable talking about (it doesn’t just have to be about your book. Regardless of the topic, there will be some people listening who will want to read your writing too and some are better than none)
  • Do your research, and find a win/win for you and the influencer: When you’re trying to figure out who to talk to or even where to start, ask yourself how you find new books. Start there. What genre do you write? Search podcasts in iTunes on that subject and then check the related section. 
  • Keep track of who you’re emailing and when
  • Ask for referrals. Whether you get a yes or a no, always as for a referral. 
  • Always thank the influencer for their time. Be polite ok? These are real humans on the other end of the interwebs. Just be nice.

If you don’t have a book out yet
you still need to begin your outreach. In a perfect world, authors would start building relationships with influencers (podcasts, bloggers, bookstagramers, and other authors) long before they have something to sell. The easiest way to be relentlessly helpful is to not need anything in return. 

Outreach Don'ts
  • Don’t keep a list of people you did favors for to collect on. That’s not being helpful, that’s being selfish
  • Don’t send someone thirty emails in a week and expect a good response. (one email, wait a week then send one more. After that let it go.
  • Don’t get offended if someone says no or ignores you. Assume everyone else is really busy and move on.
  • Don't get discouraged! It's slow and sometimes painful, but if you stick with it, it will also help launch your career. When I first started, I'd go and go and go and then get discouraged and stop and about three months later, I'd see sales! And reviews and whatever else from all my hard work. But I stopped, so the sales and things would stop, and I'd have to start over again. So, stick with it. Don't make my mistakes. 
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<![CDATA[Working (and Publishing) From Home with Multiple Children]]>Wed, 07 Jun 2023 07:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/working-and-publishing-from-home-with-multiple-children
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Image by Tri Le from Pixabay
​As a mother of three, listening to this Being Boss podcast episode on how to manage your business with children was… frustrating. It’s not their fault. The transition from no kids to one is a huge change and can be challenging. That wasn't the case for me. My oldest napped at the same time every single day and I could work during that time because I had no other kids.
Now that I have three, it's a real juggling act between work, kids, and my writing.
If you have a child (or several) and are building a creative business, writing or otherwise, there are some steps you’ll want to take to ensure your success while preventing burnout.
I listened to that podcast and realized a lot of what they were saying would not work for me, but rather than accepting my fate and deciding to give up on trying to find work/life boundaries I started working through the problem. Here’s what I learned through that process and by talking to other successful entrepreneurs with multiple children.

You can’t schedule a child to fit into your workday but you can find time to work.
One of the big things I always hear as an entrepreneur is “Schedule everything!” and “Then Stick to your schedule!” As a mother and business woman, I have never become more frustrated or burned out faster than when I was trying to schedule my work around three kids. When you have one baby, this is totally doable. You know they nap around the same time every day and when they outgrow naps you can teach them to have quiet time and then they go to school. Totally workable. Even with two kids, I was pretty much able to do this. My boys are two years and two months apart in age and life was pure bliss.
Then I had my daughter. A four and a half year age gap between her and my youngest son meant life hit the fan big time and there was no such thing as a “schedule”. There were three schedules and the baby’s schedule tends to change because sometimes she likes to sleep in until 9 or 10 and other days she’s up with the sun. This was the most difficult thing for me to work around but I did it. 

Here’s what I do
I get up at 5 am to write. I need uninterrupted time to be creative and this is the only way I can get it. (staying up late is not an option for me as my brain checks out around 6 pm) My middle child gets up by 6 so this was literally the only way I could find the time. I should get up at 4 but I can’t make myself do it.
But I didn’t just start getting up at 5 either. I tried and each time I just turned the alarm off and went back to bed (I really love my sleep). So instead I paid attention to when I usually woke up naturally and started setting the alarm for thirty minutes earlier. Then when I started waking up naturally at that time I moved the alarm time again. It took me several weeks but I got there. And the earlier I got up, the easier it was to go to bed a little earlier.
Next, I start time blocking my day, thanks Being Boss for the awesome webinar, I put in everything. When I wake up, making breakfast, my walk with the baby, everything.
I blocked out time for whatever needed to get done. If I was able. Between my morning walk and lunch, if I have time because the kids are playing nicely or whatever, I work on business things. If not, we have the freedom to pivot. 
My writing was done in the morning so it’s more administrative tasks like working on SEO for Raven's Quill Publishing or researching keywords and phrases for our next release. Then after lunch, if I have time, I use it to do work around the house. I use this system from the Organized Mum Blog to keep the house clean and it's literally changed my life. 

Make it fit your life
If you just had a baby, sleep is probably the only thing on your mind and the idea of giving it up might bring a tear to your eye. That’s OK. You might just decide during baby’s first nap you’ll focus on writing and on his second you’ll take a nap on Mondays. Then focus on marketing a different day during nap time. The beauty of this is that you can take the idea and mold it into whatever works for YOU and YOUR family. 

Find a nanny or send your kid to daycare
This might be a stretch if you’re just starting out or if you’re a stay-at-home parent because you want to stay home with your kids like me. Still, it’s so important for a business owner to have time to dedicate to their business. Even if it’s just a couple, half days a week. I’m a stay-at-home mom because I want to be here with my kids. But starting a business with multiple kids in your hair 24/7 is like hopping on the fast track to Burnoutville. My husband just had surgery, so I’ve been struggling with my responsibilities and his. Normally, I’m lucky in that my husband works second shift and helped me with the kids two days a week.
We homeschool our boys, so they were all here all the time. As a result, I was always stressed out and grumpy, which is no way to spend your life. As my husband heals and I launch my new book marketing businessIf you can manage it, a nanny is a great way to go. I ended up waiting it out until my husband was well enough to keep the kids three days a week. But look at the cost of a nanny as an investment in your business. Not everyone has the scheduling we do and if we had a different situation, we'd have made different choices. 

 To do list
Once you find the time to work or write the next thing to do is make sure you don't waste it. I use Mark Foster’s Auto Focus System. What you do is take an ordinary notebook and start your to-do list. Put everything on it. Every task you can think of. Break larger projects into pieces. Then you put an X in the top corner of the page (more about why in a minute). Now once you’ve filled out one piece of paper you turn the page and keep going. (put another X in the corner).
Once you’ve crossed out everything on a page you circle the X so you know that page is done. Now, when you find time to get to work, take out this notebook and read over the things on the list. Pick one to complete and go! As you think of more tasks add them to the end of the list. You can look at any page of the list before choosing a task. Time-sensitive tasks should be done first but the whole point of this is to give yourself permission to choose and not feel guilty. For recurring tasks like dishes, just add them to the end of the list every time you cross it out. Here’s a link where Marks shows you how to use it.
This helped me tremendously! I no longer waste time trying to figure out what I need to be working on. I’ve taken this method a step further by assigning specific tasks to specific days of my week. Also, by giving myself one thing to get done in each area of my life, I avoid overwhelm. Once that task is complete if I have more time, go to the list or tackle the assignment for the next day. Avoiding burnout is really important and this is probably the number one way I’ve pushed through fatigue but also avoided it.

Ask for help from your partner around the house
 Your spouse or partner works hard all day and should have to help out in the home. That's right, they should be helping. You work hard all day building your business and keeping your littles alive, they can help with housework. My husband watches the kids two days a week in the mornings and does the laundry. For us, splitting the main chores, laundry and dishes. While he isn't working overtime at work, he cleans the house on Monday's and Thursdays. Now his version of clean isn't quite mine but I can get in there and deep clean in half the time because of what he does. We’re a team. You need time to work just like a team does. It’s not ridiculous to ask for help. Also, they live there too, they can help. If your husband is working a lot of overtime or schedules don't allow, hiring a housekeeper to maintain your home is also an option. So that’s an option too. But for those of you just starting out, definitely ask for help from the people you live with. Kids can help with chores. My twelve-year-old takes care of the lizards, my ten-year-old takes care of the quails and dogs, and my six-year-old helps my husband on cleaning days as well as helps me cook dinner. Everyone helps.

Write down your why
This might sound hockey and stupid but dammit, just do it! Write it out! What do you want to do? How will your life change when you do it? How will you feel about yourself when you accomplish it? And then put it up on your wall where you work or in your bedroom. Somewhere where you’ll see it every day.
When you’re struggling and wondering why you’re even doing this, look at it. Read it and know it’s all going to be worth it. When the kids are sick and you haven’t slept in 72 hours and you smell like puke and you’re supposed to write the next chapter or work through edits (don’t work through edits on no sleep it’s a bad idea, says the lady who's worked through edits on no sleep several times and always regrets it) look at your why. It should motivate you to stay up late and get up early.
I’ve told you how I twisted other people's advice to fit my life and situation, now it’s your turn!
Do you have tips for working with children? Share them in the comments!
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<![CDATA[5 Bad Parts of Publishing That Aren't Bad at All]]>Fri, 02 Jun 2023 07:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/5-bad-parts-of-publishing-that-arent-bad-at-all
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No one likes criticism and sharing something you've poured blood sweat and tears into for weeks, months, or even years, is never easy. But there's a Brightside to the thing that's got you down. And I'm here to show it to you. 

Critical Reviews
As part of the author community you’ve heard people gripe about “bad reviews”. You’ve even taken a day to yourself because of one or two. But here’s the silver lining. That one bad review can help prevent more bad reviews. As a reader, I always look at the bad reviews. Even with Amazon’s ridiculous review policy, I still feel like most 5 star reviews are just people blowing smoke up my ass. (Where the hell did that saying come from?) Moving on. I often get more from the “bad” reviews. Sometimes, they touch on things that would upset me in a story while other times they list things that I actually like. They found it obscure or annoying but it might be my favorite trope. So don’t worry about it! Every review serves a purpose.

Note: If you get a lot of the same feedback in critical reviews one of two things is happening. 1. You’re targeting the wrong readers or 2. You have a reader expectation issue that needs attention.

Note 2: If you only have positive reviews, you aren’t marketing your book enough. Yeah it’s a fine line. Join the 1 star crew and be proud! You’re doing this publishing thing right. 

Unsubscribes
This one is a tough nut for authors to crack. You struggle for so long to build your list up so you can do the things—Newsletter swaps, selling your book, you know, the things—-that you get stuck in this mindset that unsubs are bad. They aren’t. You’re building your list for one reason. To sell books. If they aren’t opening emails and engaging with your content, they are an unnecessary expense. You want to resend an email that had low open and click rates? Resend it. You want to email new subs every month until they buy your book or unsubscribe? Do it. If you think of your list this way, you will never have to “purge” your email list again. They’ll do it for you. This is how you keep your list healthy.
Note: The very first time I resent an email, I got an angry response from one person. That person is dumb. If they don't want to get email from me, they can unsubscribe. I unsubscribed him for him because he clearly couldn’t figure it out BUT don't let those people get you down. You do you, the true fans will hang around and enjoy it and the rest do not matter. 

Saturated Markets
How many Vampire booms do you think there have been since Anne Rice wrote Interview with a Vampire? I know of at least three in my lifetime. And every single time, Anne Rice makes bank on those books. Writing to market can make a difference in your career today, but don’t not write your alpha male shifter romance just because “they” say paranormal romance is over saturated (Or whatever your love project/genre may be). Because it will be popular again. The next Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer is out there, right now, writing a love story that will melt hearts and cause an uprising in those of us you can never get enough Vampire or Werewolf lovin’. And you can either ride that wave with an awesome back list or you can be kicking yourself as you struggle to write the book you wanted to in the first place as other sell sell sell and build a fan base. 
I’m not saying there’s no point in writing to market. I’ve seen enough authors make career/life changing things happen by writing to market to know that it’s worth it. I’m just saying don’t ignore the book that’s in your heart either. 

Slow Publishing Schedule
We all know the 20booksto50k theory but that only works if the books are quality. Being consistent overtime wins over rushed unpolished work every time. So if you write slower and can only put out two books a year, that’s okay. You’ll get there too. Focus on building your audience and converting them into super fans. Your next launch will be even better than the last. 
On the other side, if you’re putting out book after book and sales are decreasing, something isn’t right. You need to take a hard look at your books, your stories, and your platform. Are you writing the same book over and over? Do you need line editing or a better proofreader? Is your platform set up properly? If you can write fast, by all means do it. BUT don’t let quality fall to the wayside as you fight to hit that 20 books mark or you’ll have 20 books and still not be making 50k. 
Competition 
This goes hand in hand with saturated markets. People seem to see others in their genre as the enemy. Back in the day maybe you were competing for shelf space, and maybe now you are competing for ranking BUT, authors who work together will rise faster in the ranks than those who fight everyone else. Between boxed sets and newsletter swaps, other authors in your genre even writing the same tropes as you, are your best friends. The fact is simple. No matter how fast you can write, readers will always consume your books faster. So, while they’re waiting for your next release, send over your shelf buddy and whet their appetite for more. 

Marissa Frosch

Marissa is the founder of Raven’s Quill Publishing and its imprint, Pretty Gritty Love Stories™️. Marissa was trained in Tim Grahl’s connection system for book marketing and launching a bestselling book in 2018, trained as a Story Grid Editor in 2019, and has worked with many authors as both an editor/story coach and book marketing coach since. 

Her focus for 2023 and beyond is to build her publishing company. She writes fiction under Angela Breen and Cameron J Quinn with a new series coming out under her legal name.

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<![CDATA[Not All Email Subscribers Are Created Equal]]>Wed, 31 May 2023 07:00:00 GMThttps://ravensquillpublishing.com/marketing/not-all-email-subscribers-are-created-equalPictureImage by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay
If you’ve been in the indie game--or publishing in general--you’ve heard about email lists. We have several articles about them on this site because it’s the most effective way to build an author career.
But not all email subscribers are created equal. Just like each card has a different value when you play a game, each subscriber is different. You may have noticed this already. If you have an email list of 7k that are all Freeloaders, you won't sell many books and might be frustrated with publishing and book marketing in general. That's why I wrote this article. I’m going to go through the different levels of subscribers and how to get the ones you want and how to avoid the ones you don’t. 

The Freeloader 
These subscribers want free stuff. Not just books. Using an Amazon gift card as a prize for people who sign up is a sure way to not only get these individuals but several of their email addresses. Not only will they sign up for the free gift card, they’ll unsubscribe en masse after the first email you send which can not only make the process of gathering the emails pointless it can also hurt your deliverability or make it so you can’t use your email service anymore **cough** mailchimp**cough**. Once you reach the point where you’re paying for a service there is some recourse for mass unsubscribes (as in you can talk to someone about it, but no promises if they can help you) but at that point, the one where you’re paying to store email addresses, wouldn’t you want to make sure each one counts?
To avoid this implement best practices around giveaways. 

The Passing Amusement
This subscriber will download your book because it’s free but never get around to reading it. This is incredibly common. I’ve even done it. You see a book, you like it enough to add it to your TBR then life happens and by the time you sit down again, you've forgotten the book existed. These people will either see your emails and remember the book or unsubscribe. These are the majority of your occasional unsubs.
One way to avoid these people is to not give your book away all willy nilly. Instead, put your freebie as a link in a book readers already paid for. This is the best way to get quality subscribers I’ve found so far.
And to turn them into casual fans? Set up your automations.

The Hunter 
This subscriber actively looked for you. For whatever reason, they are searching you out. This is someone who discovered you existed, found you on the internet and signed up for your list. These are the people you’re looking for. And these are the people you’ll find through outreach. I‘ve written a lot about outreach on here so I won't get into it much but the basic principle is introducing yourself to other people audience’s to grow your own.

Casual Fans 
These are people who enjoy your books and newsletters and will buy your book and share it with friends. Most people don’t join your list as casual fans, they turn into the casual fan over time. As they get to know you and your work. If you’re writing isn’t up to snuff, it will be much harder to get your subscribers to this point.

Die-Hard Fans
Not to be confused with Bruce Willis fans, these are your ride or die, crowd. They’ll buy every book you put out (sometimes in multiple formats). These subscribers are the ones that will become your launch team and help you each time you release a book. These fans are also cultivated with your writing, newsletters, and blog posts. Some subscribers will be this way after reading a book and join as a diehard fan but most will gradually become that over time as they get to know you.

Subscriber Mindset
I need to touch base on this really quick. If you have an email list of 10k subscribers you never contact, they are not going to become casual or die hard fans. They will unsubscribes as soon as you send them anything because they aren't going to remember who you are. There are a few ways to email your subscribers regularly. I usually council authors to start by emailing twice a month (this does not include your automations which should introduce new subscribers to you and your work) and after six months reassess. You may find you want to send out weekly or even daily emails. Whatever you decide, you need to be in regular contact with your list so when you do have a release they respond. 
Thats said, it's important to note, subscribers who are constantly given free things are being trained to expect free things--thus reducing the chances that they will buy your book when you send out a new release announcement. Sharing books you'd recommend that are not free and new releases of other authors in your genre will help keep them willing to buy for when you have a new book ready. I refer to this as the health of an email list. A list of 5k that you haven't emailed at all, is not healthy. But you can put these practices into place and give your career the foundation it needs. 

Tips Moving Forward
​Before I wrap this up, I’d like to chat about sites like Bookfunnel and ProlificWorks (formerly Instafreebie). These are great tools and their list builder promos are fairly effective. Though I found more freeloaders with the latter.
I use Bookfunnel for more than just promos. I use it to send out ARC’s and review copies and deliver by Reader Magnet to new subscribers. Those things more than make the service worth the price. But I’ve also found that Bookfunnel subscribers become casual fans rather than unsubscribes more often than other sites making it that much nicer.
Do you have any questions about subscribers? Ask in the comments!

Marissa Frosch

Marissa is the founder of Raven’s Quill Publishing and its imprint, Pretty Gritty Love Stories™️. Marissa was trained in Tim Grahl’s connection system for book marketing and launching a bestselling book in 2018, trained as a Story Grid Editor in 2019, and has worked with many authors as both an editor/story coach and book marketing coach since. 

Her focus for 2023 and beyond is to build her publishing company. She writes fiction under Angela Breen and Cameron J Quinn with a new series coming out under her legal name.

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<![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.
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<![CDATA[Book Marketing 101: 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
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<![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
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