How to Add a Mailchimp Newsletter to WordPress.Com Blog – with Style!

I had a blog like this on my list of blogs to write, but she has done such a good job I don’t see any point in rehashing it. In this blog she tells you not only how to get the mail chimp (newsletter sign up) form on your blog, but also how to MAKE the form in the first place using Mail Chimp’s site. As a Mail Chimp user, I do recommend them (no, they don’t pay me!) as being simple to use.

Aniko Carmean

The true gift of having a clearly defined definition of success is that you begin to find exactly what you need to achieve that success. I discovered  YOUR FIRST 1000 Copiesby Tim Grahl exactly when I needed a guide for book marketing. I want to get the word out about my books, and I want to do it without being subservient to a cumbersome system I neither understand nor enjoy. Grahl gives me a blueprint to achieve that, and having a newsletter is an integral element in his system. In this post, I share what I’ve learned about setting up a Mailchimp newsletter and integrating it into your (free) WordPress.com blog.

Here are the main points I will cover:

  • Getting started with Mailchimp
  • Customizing Your Mailchimp sign-up form to coordinate with your WordPress.com blog
    • Use Google’s built-in developer tools to find the hexidecimal code for colors on your site
    • Set the font or…

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Your Gifts

“You have a great gift,” said the angel Clarence in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Yes, you have. If you are a person of faith, you believe your talents come from God and you should not squander them.

In the picture below, you can see what I recently created for a romance group’s Christmas party where organizers challenged each member to bring something they made.

MyCraftWork3pic

Eye glass case, center; small notebook with felt heart, cross, and rickrack, left, and large notebook decorated with my Courtships and Carriages bookmark and rickrack, right.

I am proud of what I made and how I created the items. I made the eyeglass case from my deceased mother’s felt. It was her felt flower I sewed on the case. I decorated the notebooks with her felt and rickrack and adorned the small notebook with a cross I had on hand and the large notebook with my Courtships and Carriages bookmark. I never have been much of a “crafty” person, but I have to admit I smiled at my achievement.

You need to smile at your achievements, too, even though it is difficult at times. Readers do not know how much work a piece of writing takes, that is, if we want it to be our best.

Recently, I wrote a nonfiction account about my husband’s mother – a mother he never knew – since she was committed to a mental institution when he was a toddler. I had developed this article after attending a conference this fall. However, when I submitted it, officials said it was not quite right for their publication. It sits in my computer awaiting a “right” avenue. So not all we create is something valued by another.

This gets me thinking about my craft items. Was this gift something the receiver could use? I hope so but in reality it does not matter. The results are what mattered and if you were pleased with your efforts. If so, wear that smile broadly.

We often receive rejections and it is difficult to accept these sometimes. However, what we need to do is to persevere. Remember our work is in the eye of the beholder.

I market my book at a lot of craft fairs, and I can tell your responses vary from “I liked that book” to “I liked your other book better” to no comment at all. When they do not comment, you know you are in real trouble. However, maybe not since there are people who buy your books but never read them. I can testify to that since my bookcase still contains Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Kennedy, and he has had two books released since then.

However, remember no matter how discouraged you get (and we all do) salvage the fun and satisfaction of a finished product you created and loved. God bless and it is good to again write a blog. Now, GO AND CREATE!

Categories: Uncategorized

My Thoughts on the Smashwords 2015 Survey

In case anyone doesn’t know, once a year, Mark Coker does a survey to track sales across their distribution channels to see what common things the bestselling self-published books have in common.

Here’s the link if you want to view the slideshow

I wanted to import the slideshow into this post, but my tech know-how isn’t all that wonderful.  So I opted to link to it for reference.

I thought some of the findings were worth discussing on this blog.  If anyone wants to add their thoughts in the comments below, please do.  There might be something I missed.

Observation #1: Authors who sell more books tend to be active online.

social media pic for writing post

ID 45771480 © Ayse Ezgi Icmeli | Dreamstime.com

This isn’t 100% true for all commercially successful authors, but overall, being involved online helps to sell your books.  When I say being active, I don’t mean these authors are going around posting tweets and Facebook updates with “Here’s my book and where you can buy it” all the time.  Those authors usually don’t sell well.

Having an online presence means you’re making it easy for people to find you and your books.  A website and/or blog is a great way to showcase your work.  I like to think of them as “home”.  It’s where you can put your books up and talk about them.  Now, what you choose to blog about can vary, but I do suggest having your books featured on pages within your blog, if you have one.

As for places like Twitter, Facebook, and Google +, the big thing is to be social.  Hang out.  Engage with others.  Be conversational.  You can have a link to your website/blog on your profile.  If someone takes an interest in something you say, they’re probably going to check your profile.  So make sure you build up those profile pages.  My advice is to let the profile pages do your marketing for you.  But when you’re engaging with people on these sites, don’t be there to sell your books.  (Now, I do recommend letting people know when the book is first put up on pre-order, if you have a cover reveal, or when it’s released, but keep the marketing to a minimum.  At least 80% should be social engagement that has nothing to do with your books.)

Observation #2: For fiction, price points $2.99, and $3.99 seem to be the best, with $3.99 having a slight more advantage.

pricing strategy

ID 45771480 © Ayse Ezgi Icmeli | Dreamstime.com

The $0.99 price point moves books, and I think it can be used for promotions and even as a loss leader to introduce people to your work.  But I do think if you are looking for profit, your best price points are in the $2.99-$3.99 range.

I suspect the sweet spot for pricing also varies with the genre you’re writing in fiction.  I mainly write romance.  I’ve heard romance readers watch their spending because they can go through a book or two a day.  I’ve also heard other genres (such as thrillers and science fiction) have readers who are more likely to pay a higher price for books than romance readers are.  These were not discussed in this Smashwords survey.  These are things I gathered from talking with other authors over the years.  So for me, I keep my books priced low ($0.99 or $2.99), though some romance authors do better at higher prices.

What seems to be clear from this survey and the one from 2014 is $1.99 is a horrible price for a book.  I would stay clear from that price point based on the findings.

Nonfiction can sell higher than fiction.  What the ideal price point for that is, I don’t know.

Observation #3: Pre-orders can help you sell more books.

preorder plan for writing post

ID 45771480 © Ayse Ezgi Icmeli | Dreamstime.com

In the survey, it seems a book that starts out as a pre-order will do 3.5 times better than a book that wasn’t.  Do authors who have a larger platform with a larger readership have a bigger advantage over those that don’t?  Of course.  But that is going to be normal even if there was no pre-order.

I love pre-orders, but I don’t see massive pre-orders on my books flooding in.  I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that.  You can increase your chances of hitting a bestselling list in your category at iBooks or Kobo the longer you have your book available as a pre-order.  iBooks and Kobo will accumulate the pre-orders, so when your book is released, you get credited for all those pre-orders as if you sold that many copies on that day.  I love that feature.  Amazon doesn’t do that, and I don’t think Barnes & Noble does either.

My thinking is, if you can give yourself an advantage, even if it’s a small one, why not take it?  Pre-orders are easy to do, and they help save time on release date since the book is already uploaded.  I wrote a post on ideas on promoting a pre-order.  (As always, if you can think of anything else to add, please do.  One person in the comments suggested a special promotional price during the pre-order period, which I thought was a good idea.  I might have to use that one in the future.)

Observation #4: Series where the first book is free sell 66% better than series where the first book has a price tag on it.

comic for writing blog post

ID 45771480 © Ayse Ezgi Icmeli | Dreamstime.com

This one surprised me the most.  The 66% trend was higher than I expected.  I have heard authors say putting the first book at free has helped sell the rest of the books in their series.  But I also know authors who have had their first book at free and didn’t see an increase in sales for the other books in the series.  I have priced the first book of every series I have at free.  Some series do better than others.  Overall, I have noticed the series does do better if the first book is free, even if it’s not a huge jump in sales.

I just listened to a podcast at The Creative Penn, and Dan Wood from Draft2Digital recommends using this strategy, too.  He found authors who do this sell 3 times as much as authors who don’t.  (As a side note, he recommends assetless pre-orders, too, which I just talked about above.)

***

Those are the takeaways I got from the Smashwords 2015 survey.  Does anyone have any other ones or have anything to add?  There might have been something I missed.

Categories: Marketing & Promoting, Pre-Order, Social Networking | Tags: ,

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