This blog will be made up of posts that are of benefit to aspiring or published horse book authors. There will be a collection of how to’s as well as advice from already established authors.
This blog will be made up of posts that are of benefit to aspiring or published horse book authors. There will be a collection of how to’s as well as advice from already established authors.
This is not as easy for writers of equine books as we would wish. It’s not impossible, but it’s not the cakewalk that it is for thriller writers. Once you get the basics down pat, you’ll be able to find your way.
The first thing you should know is how Facebook works.
For good or ill, disabuse yourself of the idea that privacy exists on Facebook. It doesn’t. Every keystroke, every word, every photo is scanned and stored forever. They know where you live, who your friends and family are, what you like, what you don’t like.
They are datamining you as you travel around the internet. 24/7. This is how you can look at something at Amazon, and it shows up on your FB feed.
Once you get over the horror of this reality, you’ll be joining them in using this data.
Before you attempt to tackle creating an ad, go to the Facebook Help page.
There are many tutorials on YouTube, and Mark Dawson has a secondary career teaching people how to optimize Facebook advertising for writers.
Follow the directions. Seriously. Read the instructions and follow carefully so you don’t experience frustration. It’s not that difficult but it can be confusing and it’s definitely not intuitive.
You will need an image. Whether you create it yourself or you have someone do it for you, keep it simple and with the least amount of text possible. None is good.
This is one of mine. It’s simple. Obviously about a book. The Bittersweet Farm logo is there. Anything else important can be said in the ad.
Here is the real problem. Facebook will ask you who your audience is and you’ll be expected to pinpoint it in order for Facebook to send your advertisement to those people.
If you had written a thriller, you could say Lee Child and James Patterson and be done.
Equestrian writers don’t have any famous horse books to target except maybe Black Beauty. Snowman wasn’t on the list. Only books, people, and events Facebook deems important are on the list. You can’t go there and type in me to reach my Bittersweet Farm audience.
You will need to put your thinking cap on and determine what products or people related to horses your audience is interested in.
Who is your audience? Middle school children? Teens? Adults? They all have different interests. Sparkly ponies appeal to young girls but Charlotte Dujardin may resonate with an adult reader more. Create different ads for different demographics and countries. Facebook prefers that.
This will probably take a while and do remember to save it!
Create your ad carefully. Once it’s running, it’s best not to change anything. The algorithm will think it’s a new ad and start from the beginning again.
It will take the algorithm about two weeks to find the audience you specified. The idea you will have any success with a weekend ad on Facebook is very optimistic. Save up your money and watch the bill ad up by the day.
Five dollars a day is a conservative but realistic amount to spend. You may be more comfortable with $2 but you won’t have the same reach.
Be prepared to experiment, test, learn, and rewrite your ad until you start to see results. You can always play around with the amount you spend. Some people spend thousands a month, some hundreds, and I was often satisfied with what $60 got me as a response.
Don’t expect quick results but if you get them—Wow!
Social Media Links:
So I recently got myself a new .com and email address and decided October, 2017 was going to be my month for promoting my books heavily. With an active email address comes the possibility to sign up to Instafreebie and make use of their free thirty day trial.
Now as someone who first tried this out and promoted my book by myself without taking part in any group giveaways, I was still excited by the results.
I tripled my (small) email author list from about 20 people to over 60 people. Not bad results! But this time round, I created an account with my new email address and decided I would try the group giveaways to see if they made any difference. After all, I knew of one author who gained thousands of subscribers in her free month of trying out Instafreebie – wow!
So, I created my account, added some of my books (one non fiction, one for children and one for adults) and I started promoting these through my site, Facebook and on Twitter (you can schedule daily posts to occur in the background without having to do it yourself each day).
Then I decided to check out what giveaways were currently on. I was disappointed to find that my children’s book which is a part of the Free Rein series and my Choosing a Horse Career non fiction book weren’t relevant to any of the group giveaway topics for the month of October. But all was not lost! I still gained readers from my self promotion and my Thoroughbred Breeders book seemed perfect for four different giveaways relating to:
So I signed up to these and once my book was approved, I worked to make sure I was doing my part in spreading the word! How do you do this? Each giveaway runs over particular days which are predetermined by the creator. So you can schedule blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, etc to go live across these days, yes days. Post a reminder for each day that the freebie is on!
160 Claims in 24 Hours!
Wow. And all because I signed up to four group giveaways that were being held in the month of October!
Don’t do what I did! You will receive an email letting you know once you’ve been accepted into a group giveaway. Once you have this, go into your user dashboard and click on your book in question. Then have a look at said giveaway. It should be listed under active giveaways. Go into view and edit giveaway.
Make sure your email opt-in box is listed as required. And then go and determine a mailing list for people to opt into (you can have different mailing lists within the same MailChimp account – I have one for Equine Authors as well as Christine Meunier Author and other projects).
If you don’t require opt-in, people can gain access to your book for free and you don’t have their contact details! If you choose opt-in required, then they must provide their name and email address first, then the book is received.
Things to Have Complete Before you Sign Up to Instafreebie
Now I think this is something that is really important to do before you go and create your account with Instafreebie. They’re being so generous in providing you with 30 days free and you want to make sure you get the most out of these free days! So what should you organise beforehand?
Make sure you have handy in a folder together the following things:
If you’re ready to go with all of this, then you won’t waste time preparing them over the first few days of your free account. You may as well use all of the days to gain new subscribers and interested readers for your books!
You can best benefit from a tool like Instafreebie by already having a compatible mailing list. Then when you’ve got your account set up, take part in group giveaways! Make sure your book fits into the group category and submit to as many as you see fit. In this way, various different authors are all working to cross promote each other. It’s a great way to benefit from potential new readers you may not have otherwise reached.
What about Unsubscribes?
This will happen, certainly. I had some people sign up, get my book for free and promptly unsubscribe. But this was about 3 people out of 400+. And I figure, if they read and enjoy my book, then they’ll be back for more! It’s about getting exposure so don’t worry if people do unsubscribe. If they don’t want to hear from you, you don’t want to be emailing them about your latest book news! Simple :)
I believe it’s better to have a smaller list of adoring readers than a larger list that ignores your emails as they see them as junk. Keep it in perspective.
Perhaps you have a goal for 2018 to complete your first horse book – or that next horse book! Some goals fail for lack of planning. I recently found out about a free online planning tool known as Asana. I think you could use Asana to help plan your horse book.
It allows you to identify individual tasks that need to be done to complete an overall goal. So how could this relate to your writing? Well, you could set tasks such as:
So you’ve got a list of tasks that you need to complete to make your book a reality – and a success! On top of this, you can set dates that you plan to have them completed by. Setting a date makes the task real and makes you accountable. Perfect!
If you’re doing a joint project or are using other people (like for book cover design) then you can assign names to who is doing what task. You can also share the project that you’re working on with those who are taking part in it with you.
Asana seems a simple tool that helps to keep you accountable and proactive. Because there’s a free version, why not give it a go for your current writing project? It can’t hurt, right?
November of each year is National Novel Writing Month. This is a great initiative that encourages authors to be accountable with regards to their writing. Over a 30 day period they set a goal to write a novel of up to 50,000 words. Each day they document their word count, working towards a fully completed story by November 30.
April of each year is Camp NanoWriMo. Whether you’re taking the month off to go on a writing retreat or you’re ‘camping’ online, you get another chance to dedicate a month to your writing goals. You can sign up online and set your writing goal/word count for the month and off you go!
I was rapt to pen a 35,000 word novella in 17 days last November for NaNoWriMo and will endeavour to dedicate April to another writing project. Setting goals and a due date helps to keep you accountable as an author. Why not try to get the guts done of your next horse book in the month of April? It can’t hurt, right?
Whenever you discover an opportunity to improve yourself as a writer or to just get stuck into a book, take it! At the end of the day, the more completed works you have, the more income you can earn and the more your fans will have to read!
Perhaps you’re writing your first horse book and it’s proving to be a long one. (I don’t know about you, but most of my series books are around 20,000 words. My first novel was 150,000 words!). Looking back now, I would consider the wisdom in having turned my debut novel into more than one book.
If you have a horse story that is proving to be a long one and it is made up of a few different major events, then consider turning it into a group of shorter books. Maybe it could make a trilogy! My first novel was split into 5 years and focused on four main characters. I am sure it could have been split into more than one book.
Why would this be of appeal to an author? You’ve gone to all the hard work to create some awesome and entertaining content. If you split this book into more than one, then it just means that you’re able to publish new content on a regular basis. You could release a new (section) of your manuscript/the next book every 30 days or even every season. In this way you’re establishing yourself as a writer of more than one book and you’re keeping readers engaged in the one manuscript that you created. Food for thought! And of course, you could release an omnibus at the end that contains the whole of your manuscript in one edition.
I’ve touched on series versus standalone novels before. If you have a story that is proving to be more than novella length (35,000 words) consider the ease of breaking it into more than one story. People love to get caught up in a good read and your 500 page novel may be just what they desire. But couldn’t it also be appealing to them as a few novels at around 130 pages each?
There is nothing quite like holding a paperback copy of your first book. However, when you’re starting out as an author you may find that producing electronic copies is more appealing. So why would you choose to produce electronic books? Or why might you consider this medium as well as the hard copy version?
Aside from your time to create your book and format it, there is no other cost involved in producing an electronic book. You don’t have to pay the platform who is selling your book until you make a sale. And from here, they take a percentage of your purchase price. This can make releasing an eBook a very cost effective option to the aspiring horse book author.
For either option, you will need to make sure your book is formatted appropriately. You will also need a cover designed/appropriate imaging for your book. When you consider the cost of producing a paperback, you will also need to pay for printing costs and postage to get the book out to you/your readers.
If you head along to Lulu.com you’ll find that you can enter the number of pages your manuscript is and detail what size you plan to print it. From here, you’ll get an idea of base cost for printing the book. This can help you to plan your sale price – after all, you want to make a profit!
Let’s consider an example:
One of my Free Rein series books is around 100 pages printed. This costs around $6.50 to print and produce. I sell them for $11.95. They are produced through Lulu which is print on demand. They are only printed out when someone orders and pays for a book. It means that they also have to pay for postage to receive the book, thereby increasing the amount they are paying for one of my books. At the end of the day, I get a few dollars profit from selling a hard copy.
My Free Rein books sell for $2.99 on Amazon. This is the sole seller of eBooks for this series, so I am able to claim 70% royalties. I come home with $2.06 for every sale of a book and people have it delivered to their device immediately after purchase.
It’s completely up to you what versions of your book you plan to sell, but consider how much you’ll earn per sale and what it’ll cost your buyers :) One particular version may be more appealing over another.
Perhaps as a would-be author – or one who is already established – you have heard of the term beta reader before. Beta readers can be of great value to you as a horse book author. They are often the first people to read your book, provide feedback and insight as well as reviews and ratings.
So how do they do this? Often beta readers are given a free copy of your book (typically electronic but that’s up to you as the author). In return for this free copy, they are expected to read your book and provide a rating and review. This can be a great way to gain early ratings and reviews for your book – especially if you provide copies to readers pre publishing.
The added benefit of doing this is that these readers can point out any inconsistencies or other errors they may spot. I beta read for one particular author and gain a copy after it’s been to the editor. That said, I may still find something the editor didn’t! A new set of eyes is beneficial to you as an author. They are seeing it how it’s written – not how you intended it to be written.
Beta readers can make a note of the page they found any inconsistencies on and what the issue was that they found. This may include incorrect spelling, not closing off quotation marks, a change in tense halfway through a sentence or perhaps even an incorrect horse fact!
Seeking Beta Readers
When it comes to finding people to read pre-release copies for you, you can look in a few different areas. If you’re an established author, you may want to reach out to your fans first. If they already love your books, chances are they’ll jump at the opportunity to read your latest release before it’s even been made available to the public!
You may also like to seek out forums or groups where horse book fans congregate. Goodreads is one such place where you can find these types of groups. Horse fans will be able to specifically point out any horse related inconsistencies that may exist in your story.
Another group of people to consider approaching are those who devour books and love the English language (or your chosen language). If you find someone who often comments in reviews about issues with poor spelling, grammar problems or changes in tense, then this shows that they pay attention to detail. Getting someone like this to read your book before it is released to the public may save you such a review!
Finding people to read your book pre-release can be a win/win. They get free access to a copy of your book before it’s available to others for sale. You get a fresh pair of eyes that can point out any issues, provide an honest review and rating for your book to boost interest once it’s released. Have you made use of beta readers for any of your books?
Sometimes when it comes to writing – or finishing! – our equine novel, we need a little push. Accountability can be the greatest form of motivation to get a job done. So why not make yourself accountable to others and sign up for this year’s NaNoWriMo event?
National Novel Writing Month kicks off on November 1 and encourages – and challenges – writers from all walks of life and in various locations to create a 50,000 word novel over a 30 day period. This comes to an average of 1,667 words per day to be written to complete the novel.
If you head along to the NaNoWriMo site, you can sign up and provide a blurb of your novel and even an excerpt. Then you can indicate how many words you’re aiming to write and keep track of your daily progress. There’s nothing like seeing your goal and your progress toward it to motivate you to write, write, write! So why not sign up? If anything, it can be a great short term project to push your writing into gear.
I have signed up to work on a collaborative project with some other authors. Funnily enough, I have two books sitting at around 19,000 and 22,000 words, with a total of 35,000 aimed for each. And yet, a new novel idea came to me for NaNoWriMo. So I will indeed endeavour to write one whole novel(la) over the month of November. Why not sign up and join me? At the end of thirty days, you may just have an equine novel to publish, promote and sell!
Once people have subscribed to your equine author mailing list, it’s nice for them to get a personal welcome email. This can be something that you put together once and know that every time someone subscribes, they will receive it.
First we’ll discuss how to do this in Mailchimp and then we’ll discuss what you may want to put there.
Our first step is to head along to http://www.mailchimp.com/ to create an account and sign in.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll want to visit the left hand corner and click on the icon that looks like 3 lines in a row. This will allow you to choose to go to the areas of:
We want lists; so click on that. Note that this word is plural. I have four lists which is effectively four different mailing lists, under the one account. So you can create more down the track if you want! But we’ll just focus on your equine author mailing list for now.
So for me this is Christine Meunier Author. Click on the arrow beside stats and choose signup forms to be able to go create your welcome email.
You’ll see the name of the mailing list you’ve chosen up the top of the screen, as you can see Christine Meunier Author for this one. We want to work on a response email which is in the general forms area. So select this option.
Next you’ll be brought to a page where you can create forms. We want to look for the welcome email option, so click on the drop down arrow beside Signup form. This will provide you with a list of options. Scroll down until you find Final welcome email. Click on this.
Now you can create your welcome email. You can first write up your content into the box area provided. Just click on this and a box will open to allow you to edit your content. Be sure to save what you do!
So what do you put in there? You want to make a connection with your readers. Be sure to thank them for investing their time in signing up to hear about your latest news and releases. Then it’s up to you what you share – how you came to be an author, your love of horses, details about your family. Find a way to connect with them and to become more than a name of a horse book author. Include a photo or two if you fancy! You can even finish your welcome email with asking them a question. This encourages them to engage with you.
I provide a couple of links to my author website within the reply email, encouraging people to check it out if they are interested. You could otherwise provide a Facebook page or Twitter account for them to like/follow if they haven’t already! Once you’re happy with the content, save and close.
You can also design it, by changing font, colours, etc. Once it’s saved, you’re done! Want to test it out? Head back to your signup form at the top of the drop down menu:
Copy and paste the URL in the Signup form URL box. Mine looks like this once loaded:
Add in an email address of yours – or create a new one just to test this out. Then subscribe and wait for your welcome email! :)
All published books have a number that identifies them individually. This is particularly important for horse book authors when they want to be able to advertise their book. The book’s individual number is something you will need if you are to enter your book onto book sites like Goodreads or Fictfact and even for publishing.
So what on earth is an ASIN or ISBN?
ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. Amazon assigns this to a book when it is put into their catalogue for sale/published.
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. It tends to be a 13 or 10 digit number that can be used to identify your individual book. These numbers are important for identifying your book and even for generating sales from other websites.
And how do you get one? When it comes to publishing on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, your book will be assigned an ASIN after it has been approved by Amazon for publishing. You don’t have to do anything for this to occur – apart from submit your book!
Once your book is live on the Kindle store, you can scroll down on the book’s page to find the ASIN amongst the book details. Check out https://www.amazon.com/Horse-Country-Horses-Christine-Meunier-ebook/dp/B00DH526KM/ and you’ll see the below details:
What about an ISBN? This can depend on your publisher. You can purchase your own ISBN for your book – this is particularly important if you plan to publish a paperback copy of your book. If it’s electronic, you can opt for only an ASIN through Amazon. Smashwords and Lulu will happily assign ISBNs to your books. Otherwise you can purchase them via Bowker. (You can buy in bulk, which is cheaper!). Then you can assign your book and it’s details to a particular ISBN once it’s ready to go live.
Whatever route you choose, make sure your book has a unique identification code and you know where to gain access to it! It’ll help in book promotion :)