Guest Post ~ Running a Newsletter: Why and How by Sarah Kent

You might associate newsletters more with the local school or church group than with modern marketing, but you would be wrong to do so. Newsletters are not just those irritating bits of folded paper you find buried under your mail: they can also be a highly effective marketing technique.

What is a Newsletter For?

A newsletter is a way of keeping in touch with your audience. That might include readers wanting to keep up with what you are doing and find out about new projects, fellow writers interested in what you are doing, and people working in the publishing business. A newsletter should be there to get you more readers and sales, help you make useful and supportive contacts and perhaps to help you get an agent or publishing deal.

How to Get Started

Your newsletter should be sent by email – hard copies are not likely to be useful and will be expensive (even if you have addresses to send them to). There are some specialist newsletter publication and distribution services around, some of which are at least partly free. Mail Chimp is one, but there are others. You can use them to put together an eye-catching newsletter and to send it. You could also put together a newsletter using desktop publishing software and send it from your email account, but generally, using a newsletter program will look more professional.

In order to be able to send your newsletter from anywhere, you will need email addresses to send it to. You can put a notice on your blog asking people to sign up, and send a message to your blog subscribers. Look through your contacts and find relevant ones, though it is good form to ask them before adding them to the list. This should give you an initial base, but keep working on building it up – whenever you make a new contact, ask if you can put them on the list.

Content

This should – for a writer – be the easy part. However, if you already have a blog, you might be wondering what you can put on your newsletter that makes it different and relevant. Unlike a blog, a newsletter does not lend itself to opinion pieces, but to short items of news and links to your website and blog to drive traffic to them.

A newsletter should contain news about anything you are working on or have just finished. That can include writing projects, but it can also include related events like research trips, press meetings, launches, meetings with other writers, literary events…there is likely to be much more that is relevant than you think. Even seemingly mundane things like an office move or your struggle finding business insurance could be interesting if you can find the right angle (something like the way practical problems can get in the way of writing might work well, for example). If you really are struggling for content, then perhaps you should be doing things that are noteworthy enough to create content from them? If you aren’t getting out to local literary events or attending writing groups, why not? Doing these things will not only help you find more material, they should be a good source of contacts and may help you improve your writing too.

Structure and Schedule

How often you send your newsletter out will depend partly on how much you have to put in it. Quarterly is a good start, but aim for monthly if you think you can without sending out lots of filler. Remember that the aim should always be to get people to read your books – and that is going to mean that they need to visit your website and blog. Make it easy for them by linking to relevant pages wherever you can.

Some newsletters can be mostly headlines with a short paragraph, linked to a longer website article. That can work well in terms of getting you traffic, but as a writer, your audience will probably expect a bit more actual content in the newsletter itself. Make sure you do not go too far in the other direction and end up with long blocks of text. Break it up with pictures, lists, text boxes with samples of your writing, links to literary events and news, and even interactive features such as polls.

Your newsletter should be fun, interesting and eye-catching. Readers love to know more about their authors, so let your personality shine through while still sounding professional.

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Sarah Kent is a freelance writer offering advice for individuals and small businesses on marketing tactics and tools. She is keen to offer practical and useable hints and tips that are effective and yet don’t cost the earth. 

To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter

I have this internal debate that rises its head every few months. It tells me that I need something more than a blog. That I need more than a website. It tells me that I need a newsletter. It tells me a few more things too, but those items are posts for another day.

Usually I can silence the voice with rational arguments such as no one is interested in reading the Newsletter, or that I don’t have the time to maintain a blog and newsletter, or that I’m not sure what I want to put into the Newsletter that would be of interest to those reading it. Most of it is utter shit, because now that the winter months are coming and the season is too cold to be outside much, I have the time to write and maintain a blog and do a short monthly newsletter. But is it worth the effort.

My vision is an informative, reader friendly newsletter, that will have the latest news, an excerpt for new releases, coupons to buy eBooks, a short serial story, a behind the scenes look, and a character interview from a character in the serial story. It will be information that won’t be found in my blog, though some of it might find its way onto my website. I’m just not sure if anyone will be interested or if I should just forget the idea.

What do you guys think? Are Newsletters worth it? Do any of you provided Newsletters to your readers?

The Author Platform: 6 Steps you Should Take

One of the most mysterious subjects I’ve every tried to find information on was the Author platform. There is a plethora of information on what it is and some articles on creating one, but they’re really vague. I’m sure my list isn’t much better, but I thought I would introduce you to the mystery that is the author’s platform.

While the below points are great ideas for getting you started, there are the few authors who take it too far. They stalk their readers, sending meaningless newsletters and emails inviting them to buy their book, or join their group, or come to their signings, when the reader doesn’t do what they want, they become belligerent. This is not the norm. My favorite authors follow the points below.

1. Author/Product Branding

There are two ways to do branding, you can brand your books or you can brand your author name. I suggest branding your author name over your books. It means less work later.

Figure out which you want to do. Now write down your goals for your books and your author name. What do you want your author’s name to mean to others. What genre do you plan to write and what books do you plan to write under that name. Do you plan to put everything under one name or have pen names for your other books and do you plan to share that name.

2. Create a Writer’s Website

Once you figure out your brand, create a website to encompass that brand. Website design in as important as your book covers. Keep it up-to-date. Be sure to make it inviting, presentable, and easily navigated. This will be some people’s first contact with you and you’ll want to make a great impression. A website allows people to find you 24/7 and it doesn’t need sleep.

3. Email promotion

This is my least favorite unless it’s used for newsletters and blog subscriptions. Email promotion gives you a way to promote you writing business, connect with your network, and provide great content for your readers. However, if you flood people’s inbox with static information that doesn’t benefit them in some way, they will move on.

4. Blogging

Everyone has their ideas of what authors do all day. A blog can be used to reach out to, promote your latest book, enhance your online presence, and get you name out there. The best way to do this is comment on blogs that interest you, but that is an article for another day.

The best advice I’ve heard on blogging is to create entertaining, helpful content. Many writer’s create writing blogs, which while interesting to writer’s will probably turn the non-writer reader away. Think of your readers and create content for them too.

5. Social Networking

If you are out to get numbers, you’ll miss the opportunity to make friends, and possibly ostracize your fans; however, if you are out to make friends, you’re not going to have time to write. You need a healthy balance.

6. Newsletters and E-zines

Offer a free author’s newsletter that offers important information about your books as well as your writing. I’m not sure about you, but when I subscribe to a newsletter or blog, I don’t subscribe to be bombarded by emails geared toward selling their book. As a rule of thumb, if it annoys you, it will annoy your reader and they will drop you for a less intrusive author. Don’t be pushy.

In the next few days, we’re going to go into greater detail on each of these points. Now you don’t need all six of these to create a successful platform as an author. But a few would help. Anyone want to add any more tips to creating an Author Platform?

The Negative Side of Branding

"Not what I expected!"

 

Recently, an author made an appearance at a pay venue to discuss his new novel about the New York art world.  The interview went so “badly” that the venue offered all ticket holders a $50 gift certificate, essentially giving them a full refund. But what was so terrible about it?

The author was discussing…. art.

And he wasn’t funny.

Now, I haven’t actually read his book, but from the reviews I’ve seen on it, the book isn’t exactly a laugh a minute, nor is it meant to be. So, why would the audience being so angry that they’d want a refund?

Because the author was Steve Martin. And, what is Steve Martin known for? The funny, of course. Never mind that his novel, An Object of Beauty, isn’t particularly a humorous book, ticket buyers still expected to laugh because it is Steve Martin, after all.

We’ve been discussing author branding lately and, in my opinion, this is an example of extreme branding. Steve Martin is known as being funny and when he went outside that sphere,despite the fact that he was on topic, his fans didn’t like it. People get to know you as one thing, and that’s what they expect from you and when you go outside of that you run the risk of negative reactions. Sure, the 92nd Y probably won’t be offering a refund to your fans, but Amazon just might.

(link to original article)

Building your Author Brand

There is a difference between book branding and author branding. Book branding means that everything you do online will encompass your books. They will remember the name of the books over who wrote them. If you step outside your book branding with a new series or genre of books, you better have a pen name for those books because people will be upset if they are too different from your book brand.

Now, if you build your brand around you, this means making a name for yourself in the reading world. Yes, you heard me right, reading world. Why not the publishing world? Because not all of us have to answer to publishers and their impossible dictates. Some of us only have to answer to our muses, ourselves, and sometimes our readers. Although the opinions of readers are rather subjective to tastes, so that doesn’t always work.

An author brand is more than logos, color schemes, taglines, or message points. Though those things do help create an ambiance, but what you need is:

Write a Great Book and grab your readers attention

This isn’t the NaNoWriMo novel that you slapped together in four weeks and never touched again. This is the book that you revised, edited, and proofread. This is the book that you sent out to beta readers for feedback. This is the best version of the book that you created, and finally let go into the world, only to think of more things you could have done better. Like the Underworld in my novel could have been darker and more gloomy at first, oh and there was that part…See what I mean.

As an author, the ability to provide readers with something unique that no one else can offer will grab the readers attention and make them fans.This usually takes the shape of author’s voice, because no two authors write the same way. Although some may try.

This emotional attachment happens when people believe that they have formed a bond with the author, think they understand them, and/or they are moved by the stories they love. Note: the stories don’t necessarily have to be any good for readers to become attached to them. Readers will buy a book on the sole fact of this emotional attachment, because the perception of higher quality is there. Now not ever reader will agree that the same author is worth reading and buying. The reading experience is subjective.

Define what makes your brand unique and stick to it

Find a distinctive word or phrase that defines an aspect of what you do and then make it yours. I’ll take my writing as an example. At this moment I’m a fantasy and paranormal romance author. So what would be my brand? What should I focus on? Romance? Fantasy? Paranormal?

If you chose any of these you’d be wrong. I focused on none of the genres. I noticed that my story ideas all have a common thread. Every single story idea is based on a creature from myths or legends. Every single one of my ideas has a romance running through it. So that’s what I focused on, Myths and Legends and Love. My tagline is, “Where legends live. Where myths walk. And where love is eternal.” I says everything about what I write.

Build every aspect of your brand equally

These are your actions as well as your visual and verbal elements. Your message points that should be used in every spoken and written communications. This would be your email signature, you sign off at forums, reviews, and interviews. Your visual elements would be your website, your letterhead, and your professional photo. Think about that one for a moment.

People are judgmental; it’s just part of our nature. We judge a book by its cover, a website by its look, and an author by their photo. So take a good look at your website and author’s photo. Do they reflect the image you want to send out to others? Do they look like other authors in your genre?

Just like book covers have a certain look for different genres, so should your websites and author photos. Take a look at a few of your favorite authors. Then look at some that aren’t in your chosen genre. See if you can tell the difference. And if not, look for my post on author websites, author bios, and author photos another day.

Be consistent on marketing your brand

Just as publicity works better than advertising in the beginning to get your foot in the door. People who visit your sites need to know what you are marketing, which means that you need to communicate with a solid core message. Your brand should be in all that you do. However, if all you do is sell your, what makes you different then a car salesman with a flashing sign screaming: SALE! SALE! SALE! EVERYTHING MUST GO!

Part of effective marketing is the ability to connect with people on a personal level, not just because I want them to buy My Lord Hades (transmit subliminal message: Buy my Book! Mawhaha…)

The connections you do make with readers in chats, workshops, interviews, random emails, and reviews are what sale your book. Think word of mouth. One person tells five friends. Those five friends might tell five more friends. And the cycle goes on.

Deliver what you promise

Whatever your brand image, make sure that you stick to it. I made this mistake two years ago when I co-authored a book with a relative. I didn’t want to do separate websites so I ended up confusing my merging brand. I put a fictional book on my romance website. People bought the fiction book thinking it would be a romance. Others, who would have read the fiction thought it was a romance and didn’t buy it.

I removed it from my website and created a website that I hope better fits the brand I want to convey. Consumers are loyal. But they’re also fickle. Disappoint them and you lose them.

Always evaluate, build, and refine your brand

This will be a constant thing as society, readers, and your career change. When your image is no longer consistent with your brand, you need to refine and adjust the brand to make it fit you as an author. This is going to be a continuous process.

I hoped this helped. I invite you to comment, question, or discuss what I’ve said below. And if you found this of help to you, please share this with your friends.

(Disclaimer: This is a re-post of articles written in Dec 2010 and updated.)

What is Author Branding?

When I think of Branding, I see a small herd of calves in a pen and a hot iron. In the ranching business, branding is placing your mark upon the animals you raise. This lets others know that the animal that might find its way through the fence into other rancher’s pasture, or those that find their way onto the road, where exactly that animal belongs. It makes it harder for people to steal the animal.

Author and book branding is the same concept as animal branding. Albeit, with one major difference. We’re not using a branding iron to burn the brand into flesh. We are placing our mark upon our books or upon ourselves by creating a type of book, with the use of a set of words, or a concept. In short, author branding is you. It’s who you are as an author and your presentation of what you write. It’s the type of books you write.

Now I’ve always had a hard time with labeling things. I hate labels. I’m not talking about the labels on cans of food or clothes. I hate the labels that people place on others to create organization in their chaotic lives. Labels are harmful and can scar kids for life. And I’m going to stop that tangent right there! Because that isn’t the topic of this post.

Branding came from the need of businesses to identify products. In our case, the product is you and your books. Think of any big name author. Laurell K. Hamilton (erotica, detective, paranormal, horror). Stephen King (horror, techno thriller). Nora Roberts (romance). And the list goes on. These are their brands.

How do you know that they are successful brands? Pick up their books and look at the back covers. Notice something missing? It would be the back blurb. There’s a big picture of them and nothing to tell you what the book is about. Why? Because the author’s brand sales and people are attached to the author. They will buy the book regardless of the story.

My next post will be on how to build your author brand. If you have any questions that you would like me to hit upon, please comment below.

(Disclaimer: First, this is an updated post of one written in November 2010. Second, I don’t want to hear about the morality or cruelty branding has on animals. If anyone tries to stick it into their comment, I will delete it or edit your comment. This post is not the place for that. Please keep your comments directed on Author and Book Branding.)

A Tale of Two Titles

I’ve suddenly started to sell on Amazon after a several month stall. I’m not usually into sharing sales numbers, but I’ll say I was selling maybe 20 a month on Amazon since Dec 2011 and the numbers suddenly hopped up to 158 (not counting the 21 returns) in two weeks. “Why?”, you ask. What amazing sales tactic did I come up with?

None.

I simply have the good fortune (or misfortune) of having a book whose  title is similar to another. 50 Shades of Grey, the new “indy-to-traditional” sensation that was originally written as a twilight fan-fic, is being haled as “mommy-porn” and is selling like mad. Much of it’s media coverage stresses the Twilight angle, so a would-be-reader could assume it has vampires in it – only it doesn’t. So the poor, misguided souls who go to Amazon and search for “Shades of Gray vampires” find me (in slot 1 or 2 depending on how they spelled grey/gray), instead. (Side note: If you do a search for simply “Shades of Gray”, you won’t find me until page two. This illustrates the importance of tags).

On one hand, this is good. It’s 158 sales, 30 of which went on to buy book two, and 21 of which went on to buy book three. However it’s also BAD because, of those 158 people, most – if not all – were NOT looking for that book, which means it did not meet their expected criteria (hence 21 returns). And though it hasn’t netted a bad review yet (or a good one, for that matter), it can.

Why? When customers are confused or don’t get what they expect, they strike back by leaving angry reviews. For instance, I have a freebie called 101 Tips For Traveling with a Vampire. The description clearly says “this is a list of 101 tips, nothing more.” However, because there used to be a three page intro, people STILL expected it to be a “real” book with a story, plot, etc. When it wasn’t, they left one star reviews and the complaint, “this is not a book! It’s a list!”.  True, if someone takes the time to read the description AND the review they might think “Duh, it SAYS it’s a list” and discount the review, but few people do all of that work. They glance at the star ratings and if they’re are low, they skip off the page without giving your work a chance. In an effort to correct that problem, I reissued a “revamped” version that has a very short intro which basically says “This is who i am. this is why i have this list. yes, this is a list. it is not a book and the series it is attached to is not for teenagers.” Sure, it’s not as fun as the old intro was, and not as long, but hopefully it will fix the confusion.

As for Shades of Gray, I’m not going to do anything. I had the title first, so I’m not going to change it, and I’m not going to add a note in the description that says “This is not the BDSM book you are looking for. You will probably be disappointed”. Yes, I will probably end up with some bad reviews out of it, but that’s life.

So what is the lesson here? No matter how much you double check your titles BEFORE you publish, someone may come along and use them anyway. When I published Shades of Gray only three hits came up on Amazon at the time and none of them involved vampires OR romance (two are Civil War dramas). Now, I’m on page two and most of those above me are not only romance, but also vampires. I guess it proves vampires and grayness go together 😉

Have you had a similar experience? Did you find books with the same title as your after you published? If so, did having a similar title as someone else effect your sales/reviews?

What’s in a Genre?

complete collection of John Grisham fiction an...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s in a genre, or even better, what IS a genre? Simply put, a genre is a “category” such as sci-fi, mystery, romance, paranormal, and fantasy to name a few. (You can find  a much longer list here – http://www.bubblecow.net/a-list-of-book-genres). However, just because every book written will be crammed into a genre, it doesn’t mean the author is a genre writer. Literary fiction is generally considered non-genre writing, while the usual suspects (some of which I listed earlier) are considered “genre books”.

Confused yet?

So what is the point of genre? Logically, it’s to help a reader find a book they’d like. If you like mysteries, you want to check the Mystery shelf in your book store. If you like chick-lit, you want to hit up the chick-lit section, etc. etc. But, genre is more than just a helpful category, it is also a calling card.

Take a look at these authors below and see if you can match them with their genre:

  • Stephen King                    Sci-fi
  • John Grisham                   Comedy
  • James Patterson              Non-Fiction
  • Anne Rice                         Christian Fiction
  • Neil Gaiman                      Children’s
  • JK Rowling                       Black Comedy

How did you do? Were you able to line them up? Hint – I already did it for you. Stephen King’s time traveling sci-fi book 11-22-63 is a departure from his usual horror novels, while Skipping Christmas is far from John Grisham’s normal thrillers, and of course JK Rowling is breaking away from her young adult wizarding series with her forthcoming black comedy.

So what happens when an author writes outside their genre? That depends on many things, such as how established the author is, how far removed the new genre is from their old one and even whether the resulting book is any good. Some fans will follow an author into the adventure of a different genre, while other fans are left feeling betrayed and angry because they didn’t get exactly what they expected.

But wait, isn’t that the point of genre classification in the first place?

Yes, it is, but some readers have a habit of snatching up the newest book by their favorite author (or any author) without actually reading the description.  Why? Because they expect certain things about the book to tell them what they’re going to find inside, and one of those things is the author.

For instance, I long ago made the mistake of uploading an old children’s book I’d written to Smashwords as an example of formatting ebooks with images in them. It’s not an amazing work by any means, but it did the job. I was able to show people what an ebook with colored pictures looked like and it even got some pretty decent reviews. Fast forward two years. Despite changing the author name on the book, and attempting to move it from one author to another on Smashwords (I am going to try again soon), I’ve gotten several reviews on my short vampire stories on Barnes and Noble complaining because, unlike the other, it is “not a children’s story”.  Yes, the description clearly states that it is not a children’s story, but readers have downloaded it anyway and been disappointed, and those disappointed readers left a one star review, and enough one star reviews will drop the overall ranking. And when the overall ranking drops, your target audience, who has clicked over to check out your work, will just as quickly click away because the book/story only has one or tow stars over all and…  It turns into a quagmire.

But what if you want to write in a different genre?

You can do that. Lots of authors have done it successfully, but many use a key tool – a pen name. Sure,it’s okay, and might even be a good idea, to tell your fans “Hey, this is really me!”, but a pen name helps to keep your readers from being confused about what to expect. If you use a pen name be sure to make a SEPARATE account on Smashwords/Amazon/B&N/etcf or EACH pen name, otherwise the meta data will still list your primary author name as the publisher as you’ll be right back where you started.

How do you feel about genre? Do you think it’s a handy “tool” for quickly finding books or authors you might like, or do you think the literary world has let the tail “wag the dog” so that genre writing has become a trap?

14 Tips to Marketing and Promoting on a Shoestring

Last night I thought about posting a question on the Amazon forums asking readers for help on writing this article. I wanted to know what they liked and didn’t like about Authors’ marketing and promoting their books. I decided against it about three seconds after I did a search on author’s marketing themselves. What I learned shocked me, but didn’t really surprise me that most efforts Author’s utilize to sell their books really annoy readers.

Over the years, I’ve studied different methods of marketing that fit what I’m comfortable with and below I’ve compiled a list of non-aggressive marketing tips that are budget friendly. I hope these helped and good luck all of you.

~Know your target audience and create a brand that appeals to you and projects the image you want for your writing career. With your brand in mind, repeat yourself in all your ads, webpages, etc to establish that brand in the minds of readers. For example: My author brand is “Where myths live, where legends walk, and where love is eternal.” I write Speculative fiction.

~When you finish a book, write the next one, and the next one, and the next one. Keep writing books. Create a backlist. The authors that sell well are the ones that write. It doesn’t cost much more than time, effort, and maybe paper.

~Upload to every book site available and fill out their author profile pages. Some readers like to know the author. My favorites are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Not only do you get better royalties by doing this, but you can also track your sales.

~Create a print book to go with your eBook. Some readers still like to hold a book in their hands, or like the eBook enough to buy the print book to have for their collection. You can carry it around with you in your purse and answer people’s questions when they ask about it. You can donate a paperback copy of your book to your local library. (I think most of the SPAL author’s use CreateSpace. This Amazon based service allows you to create a book with no out-of-pocket expense. The paperback will be linked to your eBook on Amazon. Another good printer is Lightning Source.)

~Offer Readers something for free. When readers receive something of value for free, trust and good feeling naturally arise. It is a very effective marketing strategy. This doesn’t have to be a full length book. Write a short story geared toward the readers you want to attract and offer it as a free read or bonus material at the end of a related book. Give the people on your mailing list or newsletter sneak peeks at a story. You can give them a coupon or some type of special they can share with friends.

~Run a contest giving out free e-books. Or have a treasure hunt where they buy the books to find clues and win something big. Or do a giveaway and ask everyone who downloads the book to please leave an honest review.

~Blogs and websites are free ad space on the web that creates a constant link between yourself and readers. It is there 24/7. This doesn’t mean you should treat it like a billboard. Share things that are meaningful to you and your readers. Blog about your book as you write it. Share character interviews, short stories, or news about the book. (There are many platforms to choose from. Weebly offers a blog for your website. Bloggster, Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr are all blogging sites, some of which can be transformed into websites.)

~Social Networking with Twitter, Facebook, and GooglePlus and the hundred of other sites out there are great ways to stay connected and keep your name active. Also sign up for reading sites like GoodReads and Shelfari, or creating a Youtube channel with a list of songs that go well with your story or author interviews is a great way to get people to notice you. You can then get widgets for all of these sites and place them on your website so people can easily find you on the web.

~Book trailers are a great way to show readers what your book is all about. You can upload it to Youtube and Tweet the link with relevant hashtags to get it out to people with similar interests.

~Join forums if you dare. Forums and group discussions can be great places to meet people. But be sure not to self-promote. Not only will it turn readers off, it can turn nasty fast. Amazon has created a special ‘Meet the Authors’ forum where authors can promote their books and talk about their work.

~Most people won’t give a book a second glance if it has not received any reviews, good or bad. I found that offering your book for free and asking for honest non-biased reviews can get you those reviews. But don’t expect them to be all nice. You can also send your book to bloggers and reviewers.

~Make flyers, brochures, postcards or pens with information about your books. I’ve never tried this but it could be worth it to make a flyer or brochures and place them in public places, giveaway flyers, brochures, or postcards to people who ask about your book, etc. Please make sure it’s okay with the owners first or it’s at a place where it is okay to put them. Bathroom stalls, libraries, and bulletin boards are good places. Network with another author and do an exchange of flyers. Pens can be given away, or left for people to use. I don’t know about you, but I do read the writing on the sides of pens.

~Find creative ways to use your business cards and leave them in unexpected places. Some authors like to print a brief book excerpt on the back, titles of your book or book cover, the table of contents, the characters, a rave review, or your elevator pitch. I prefer the list of books or leaving it blank. If blank you can write a specific book for the person or even write a coupon code for a free or discounted book on it. You can leave your card with the tip for the waitress, in the envelope if you pay your bills via snail mail, in library books, in the change room at your

~Create relationships with readers, writers, reporters, book sellers, book clubs, bloggers, teachers, etc. Word of mouth is still the most cost-effective way to advertise your books.

Google+ finally has brand pages!

Very first impressions.

One of the issues that has kept writers away from G+ is their anti-pseudonym rule. They say they will change it, but it has not happened yet.

Tonight they opened up G+ for brands. And there is a way around that rule now.

It took me 2 minutes to set up my page. You can title it anything you want, so if you go by a pen name, you can use that pen name. This might be the answer authors might have been looking for. You can have your personal page, for venting and whatever. But over on your brand page, you can work on selling your stuff. The best part is you can post to your personal page as a link to your brand page.

Confused?

This is how it works. You post something on your brand page, say an update on the book you are working on. Then you click on share this. The link to your brand page will post to your personal page.

From a author view point. I like it. When people see a link to my brand page, they can decide if they want to click on it or not. They don’t see the content only the link to the page.

As a consumer, I like it because if I in the page’s circles, I get the posts directly. If I am in an author’s personal circles too, I won’t see double posts.

One drawback, you have to be a member of G+ to join a brand page.

The general public can still see your posts. But only people that join the brand page, can interact with you.

The pages have only been live for a few minutes as I write this. As the bugs are worked out, I will keep you informed on how well they work.

UPDATE:

Multiple pages! This is great. I have one Author page and two character pages. Like Facebook you have to chose the category (Strange no author one, everyone has been picking “book”.) Fictional characters are a choice.

No verification: Right now Google is taking you at your word that you are setting up the page as member of the business or brand. So this means someone else could set up a brand page with your stuff.  I don’t know if any of us here are big enough to worry about it. But it might be a good idea to “stake a claim” just in case.

Integration with Blogger: Great idea, does not work like I would like it too.  It sends the blogger feed to your personal profile. So if you don’t want to flood your family and friends with your writing blog, you can’t do it automatically. You would have to enter the link manually. Not that big of deal, but it would be nice to pick which page you want which post to go to.

Team Members: One of the circle suggestions is Team members. In my case, once my husband gets his profile up. I can merge him with mine. Since he does the art work, it would be a nice touch.  You could also have a page for a blog with multiple authors. The Team Member circle would allow you to have private conversations with your team from the brand page.

Links: Looks like they are unlimited, so you could put many links up where people could buy your books. I hope later they integrate Google Checkout, that would be a big help for authors. You could sell your books right off the page.

Keep watching it, if you are not sure about using G+ for your author platform. I am gladly being the test subject for the rest of you.