Ever heard of RomanceBooks.Blog or Nicole Locker? Well, she’s organizing monthly book promos and they’re FREE for author to participate. And she’s super organized, able to do graphic design and will even re design your book cover for free just to help you out. She really wants to help you to sell more books.
Learn more about Nicole, her romance book promotions and how they’re different from other promotions out thee. Plus, she has some great tips on how to decide whether or not a paid book promotion is worth participating in as you weigh your options among all the book promos out there.
- 0:23 1 | Tell us more about you & What you’re doing with the Romance Books Blog
- 1:40 You’ve taken collaborations to a whole new level
- 2:08 2 | How long have you been an author & how did you get into book promotions?
- 6:22 Who would turn down a FREE Book Cover ReDesign
- 8:39 3 | Did you teach yourself Photoshop
- 11:02 4 | How are you differentiating your promos from similar services
- 13:50 How do we get targeted subscribers who actually want to read & buy our books
- 15:03 5 | What has been your most successful promo & what contributed to that
- 17:06 6 | What should authors look for when considering a paid promo opportunity
- 19:34 7 | Where do you see the future of book marketing going
- 22:40 8 Where can readers & authors connect to find you & future promos
- 23:23 9 | Speed Round
To connect with Nicole & join her authors only Facebook group
Lisa London: Hi everyone. Welcome to today. We have a special guest, we have Nicole from the RomanceBooks.Blog and she’s going to tell you all about what she’s been up to and how she can help you to sell more books.
So welcome to the show, Nicole.
Nicole Locker: Hi.
Lisa London: Hi. So tell us a little bit more about you and what you do and what you’re doing with the RomanceBooks.Blog.
Nicole Locker: Sure. So really I’m just a romance author that … just got the idea one day that I can’t do this by myself, no one in this business can. Everybody needs to have somebody, you know a network, to collaborate with and so I kind of starting doing some collaborative multi-author things, promotions, marketing type stuff for my own website. But, it kind of felt … kind of icky, for the lack of a better word. Like, you know who wants to get on my website and you know [inaudible 00:01:13] all the traffic to me when we could just all be doing something together. And so I built a new website that wasn’t just targeted towards one specific author in particular so that everyone felt comfortable being there in kind of a neutral setting. And so that’s kind of how RomanceBooks.Blog got started.
Lisa London: Great. So you’ve taken collaborations to a new level.
Nicole Locker: Well, I mean we’re definitely trying to. We’re fairly new, we’ve only been around for about a year so … we’re getting there. I mean I think our Facebook group of authors has something between 200 and 300 romance authors in there so far.
Lisa London: Awesome. And so how long have you been around as an author and how did you get into book promotions versus say helping with covers or anything else?
Nicole Locker: Well, I’ve been writing all my life really but I started publishing I guess back in 2013. But I didn’t start with romance, I actually started with some non-fiction. I had just finished my masters in psychology and was doing a little bit of dabbling into life coaching and so I have a couple of workbooks. But I started publishing romance sometime in 2015. And that’s when I really kind of caught the bug. I love writing romance. And I’m very … I guess I’m a voracious learner of craft building, marketing, really everything that goes into the writing business and the author business.
Lisa London: Great. Awesome. So what type of promos can authors sign up for in 2018 with RomanceBooks.Blog and how much are they?
Nicole Locker: So, most of them are free to be honest with you. I don’t make any money off of doing this website. In fact I usually lose money but you know I gain it in what I get out of being a part of the promotions. If there is any charge it goes towards the giveaways that we do. We do … What I like to do is … I feel like you know the insta-freebie group promos and all that, I feel like everyone is doing that now and it’s so saturated and readers are getting smart to us. They’re all like I sign up for all these books, I’m going to start getting all these emails from all these people.
So, we really try to think outside of the box and we don’t … tie ourselves to any one particular way of doing things because the market is constantly evolving and we have to do the same if we want to stay competitive and stay relevant. And so that’s really my main goal is to be able to help other authors and help them with their goals of marketing and publishing and getting their books out there in front of more people in whatever way that may look like. And we only do one promo a month about. And so, one month it might be we’re doing a giveaway, one month it might be we’re doing a book sale with a particular theme or whatever that may look like.
Lisa London: Yeah, it’s a lot of work. I know I did two promos last month, just an insta-freebie, and that pretty much took up the bulk of my month doing just communicating with the authors and creating all the graphics.
Nicole Locker: Yes and it can be very, it’s very time-consuming and I don’t think people understand like just all the work that goes into it because you’re having to find authors to participate. And for us, one of the things that I kind of pride myself on is I want readers to know that they can come to our website and know that they’re getting quality books. So, we are kind of picky about the books we do and if I turn a book away … I hate turning books away. [inaudible 00:05:47] I’m a social worker in my day job and so I’m really kind of that person that wants to help everybody and so I might offer to do a free book cover. And I actually do design book covers for myself and for other authors, but I don’t charge them when I do that. If I say hey, if I use your book in a promo is it okay if I do a new book cover for you. And then if they say no, then I might have to turn them down.
Lisa London: Who says no to a free book cover design?
Nicole Locker: You would be surprised. Some people are very, they have like this picture in their mind of what, maybe they have like a scene in the book that they feel like that cover really speaks to or whatever it is. But you know … readers aren’t going to know that so the cover has to do one job and one job only and that’s to draw attention to the book so that people give it a second look.
Lisa London: Exactly.
Nicole Locker: Yeah, I don’t think people understand, I think a lot of people understand how important the book cover is and they maybe don’t know that … readers want a certain thing. And a lot of people, and I hear this a lot, that they want their book to stand out and I was the same way when I first got started in this and standing is not a good thing in this business because readers want to know, they have a certain thing that they like to read. Most of them have their, you know very specific genres or sub-genres, or even like topics within books that they want to read. And if they look at a book cover and see right off the bat, “Hey this is exactly what I like, I know I’m going to like this book just by the cover of it,” and they will one-click it.
I mean a lot of the urban fantasy books right now, you can automatically look at that cover and tell it’s urban fantasy. I mean you can automatically look at a contemporary romance book cover with you know a man chest on the front that’s like the big word right now, man chest. They know that they’re going to like what’s inside that book because they know it’s going to be like steamy and contemporary, or whatever it is. But covers are really really important.
Lisa London: For sure. And did you, and I’m going off on a tangent [inaudible 00:08:28], you know I am opening up a design library next month for authors. Did you teach yourself Photoshop? Or what tools are you using?
Nicole Locker: I actually, I did. I taught myself Photoshop. And as a matter of fact, just today I found out that there’s like a package where you can get Photoshop and the Adobe stock, like 10 photos a month, for like a cheaper price than if you pay for them separately, which I’ve been doing for the past year.
Lisa London: Oh no.
Nicole Locker: But I do, I taught myself Photoshop and basically what I did was I just got on YouTube one day and committed myself to learning it because I had first started off using canva.com, which I still use almost every day. I make a lot of my teasers and a lot of the graphics that I use on Canva. And it just didn’t get … the quality that I really was looking for in my book covers.
Lisa London: Yeah, and I always warn people like you can use Canva and they know it’s easy and that’s better than nothing but sometimes you can’t really brand yourself. It ends up looking like everybody else or even worse, you pick out something that’s pretty one day and then Thursday you find something else that’s pretty and then Tuesday, and so now you have like 50 different designs.
Nicole Locker: Well and here’s the thing and especially with romance, because we are the biggest genre. Like romance, I think I’ve heard somewhere, is bigger than all the genres put together.
Lisa London: For sure.
Nicole Locker: There’s so many of us writing in this genre and it’s very hard to stand out and so yours has to be better than 95% of the books up there and if you can write a book that readers want to write or want to read, but your cover looks better than the other ones, fitting in but you know looking better and you know is professionally edited or … I’m sorry. [inaudible 00:10:41] You probably just heard my ca-ching … But if you have a book that stands out in a way that makes a reader want to click on it, that’s what’s going to make the difference.
Lisa London: Mm-hmm (affirmative). For sure. So, okay, so I’ll go back to our original subject. How do the promos differentiate themselves? What are you doing to try to stand out from like BookBub or the other book promo sites?
Nicole Locker: Well, so we’re very different from BookBub and … eReader News Today and [inaudible 00:11:19] romance and all those things because you know they send out like a daily email with just a list of books. We do our promos about once a month and we don’t send the books out in, I mean we do have a newsletter. I’ve got completely organic list going and right now it’s still in the building process. I’m really trying to build this up to make it as successful as possible for our romance authors. And so right now we have about a 1000 organic, completely 100% organic subscribers to our promotions and so my biggest thing is like … I don’t want to send them just junk. I want it to be relevant and I want it to be not too often so that they’re not like oh another daily email from you know whatever.
Because like, I mean I don’t know about you but I do subscribe to all of those, I subscribe to BookBub and you know all of the ones especially the ones that have the romance … just romance or you can only subscribe to the romance or whatever and I get those daily emails and I get like 20 of them a day or more. And I get to where like I open them and I don’t even scroll through them to see what’s in there anymore. So, instead of putting what books we’re showing, I put a link to our website so that they have to go in and take a look around.
But, another thing, I mean we do list building, we don’t necessarily do all of them as a book sale. In fact, most of our promotions [inaudible 00:13:10] builders for authors so readers are getting a free book but what we’ve been doing, and this is kind of what sets us apart I think, or what has been setting, or an example of what’s been setting us apart. Because one of the issues that a lot of our authors are saying is like you know, “We’re getting all these subscribers but it’s like they’re just getting my free book and then the minute I email them, they’re unsubscribing like they’re not even sticking around for what I have to say. And so how do we get targeted subscribers who actually want to read and buy our books?” And so, what I’ve started doing is doing a giveaway where we only have … previews or samples or whatever you want to call it.
So in the freebie link to download a free sample of the book and then you can sign up for the giveaway to win all of the books you see here, the full book, all of the full books. And so they can enter the giveaway and we’ll have like five winners that will win all of the books. And then they’re also signing up for the newsletters of each author that they’re downloading the previews for. They don’t feel obligated to download every single one. Maybe they’re just downloading the ones that they really feel interested in. And so it’s really, it’s not just geared towards list building for the author, it’s really geared a lot towards the reader as well.
Lisa London: Good. Yeah, I think that’s a great point because I get, it’s weird because I don’t want to miss out on an email, but I clearly don’t even have time to read through them much less download all the books they’re giving away.
Nicole Locker: Yeah.
Lisa London: That’s crazy. So what’s been your most successful promo to date and what do you think contributed to that?
Nicole Locker: It’s hard to say. We’ve only been doing this for about a year so that’s only like 12 promos so far and each one we’re constantly evolving. We’re constantly doing something different. But I would say what contributes … to the success of what we do is number one, the participating authors doing their part because usually in every single promo we do we have that one or two authors that sign up and we’re sending their book out and they’re reaping the benefits of the promotion but they’re not doing their part in sending it out to their subscriber list or sharing it on their platform or whatever the case may be. And so, that really, if not everyone is doing their part that really does hurt the group. So, unfortunately I do have to keep the list of people who are not doing their part because I won’t let them participate in the next round or again, honestly, which I hate having to be that bad guy but at the same time, they knew what they were signing up for. But, I think that … doing things differently from what everyone else is doing really kind of sets us apart and goes into a lot of our success.
Lisa London: I think that’s a great point because you know especially when you’re offering this for free and it’s so much work on your part like they can’t send out a couple of emails, it’s really tough and for everybody else who is killing it with like 10 or 12 blog posts, and social media posts right?
Nicole Locker: Right.
Lisa London: So what criteria do you think authors should look for when deciding whether or not to participate in a paid promo?
Nicole Locker: The biggest thing that you think about when you do anything is like word of mouth. So what does the social prove just like you know picking out a book that you’re going to buy, you look at the reviews. What I like to do is, and I do this a lot, I pull the group or I even pull my subscriber list to find out various things on what they like or what they don’t like. But if you ask other authors you know what promos have worked for you and which ones have kind of been a flop or you know which ones have given you the best ROI, return on investment, word of mouth is definitely my number one answer.
But you can also look at how much web traffic a particular site gets. I think there’s actually a website that you can go to to see how much traffic any particular website gets.
And I think that you have to consider what your goal is for using that site because if your goal is sales, you really need to consider what books have sold best on that site before. I know a lot of like BookBub or eReader News Today, they’re selective and they may turn your book down and that’s because they know that your book probably won’t do very well on the site right now or maybe now isn’t the best time or maybe something else that they’re just not telling you or whatever. But, sometimes you have to think of those things for yourself and your book and whether it’s going to do good on a platform.
I know when I first started out and I only had like one book and I wanted to market that book, and you know it didn’t really sink in until I finally had more books, or more backlists or now I have a complete series, that it is a lot easier to market a book when you have more books. Especially if you have a series and you’re promoting a first in a series or you’re promoting a box set or whatever that is.
Lisa London: Good. Great, thanks. So where do you see the future of book marketing going?
Nicole Locker: I wish I knew to be honest with you. I just feel like it’s constantly changing and we’re just constantly trying to play catch up. But for me if I had to guess I’m going to say it’s going to be go big or go home kind of a thing. We’re getting to a point where like everybody is, somebody has the answers and everyone is listening to those answers right now and everybody’s implementing those things and so they’re not working as effectively as they used to because everyone’s doing them now. And so you know we’re going to have to start really thinking outside the box, and I know I think I’ve said that phrase like 10 times over the course of this, but you know we’ve got to stand apart but still play by the rules.
And it’s a huge balancing act but I think that my biggest thing is like coming together. I mean the whole premise of RomanceBooks.Blog is romance authors unite, readers win and so when we all come together there’s power in numbers. And one phrase that kind of sticks out for me is like you know, “A rising ride lifts all boats.”
One of the people that I follow that I get a lot of my marketing advice from, his name is Derek Murphy, and if you haven’t heard of him definitely check him out. But he has a lot of like little sayings that really resonate with me and one those things is surprise and delight. So, we really have to start … figuring out what’s going to surprise and delight our target audience, what they want.
We need to consider who they are. And you know when I first started out I was writing a bunch of new adult romance books and then I found out that the people reading romance are like mostly middle aged women. I mean they don’t … There was a time in their life where they related to the kids coming out of college or going into college or whatever, but now they’re looking at older … Things that are more relevant to their, the point that they’re at in their life and so that really changed the way that I started writing, the characters that I started writing and the storylines that I started writing. And I think that that’s something that we have to apply when we’re marketing our books as well.
Lisa London: That’s a great point. Thanks. So you know where can authors, because I’m sure as soon as, they’ve been waiting because they heard it was free, they might not even be watching anymore, how can they connect with you and Romance Blogs to find future promos?
Nicole Locker: So we’re at RomanceBooks.Blog [inaudible 00:22:56] our website and then we have a Facebook group that is strictly authors, romance authors and that’s Facebook.com/groups/rbdot – spelled out – blog.
Lisa London: Okay. Great. Awesome so I will leave the link in the description below and are you ready for the speed round?
Nicole Locker: Oh. I think so.
Lisa London: Okay. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?
Nicole Locker: I should say frozen yogurt but I’m going to say ice cream.
Lisa London: Chocolate or vanilla?
Nicole Locker: Honestly vanilla because you can pile whatever you want on top of that.
Lisa London: Okay so vanilla but not alone. Android or iPhone?
Nicole Locker: Definitely Android.
Lisa London: Mac or PC?
Nicole Locker: PC.
Lisa London: PC. All right, awesome. Well thank you so much for being on today and I will leave all of her comments below and we’ll talk to everyone later. Bye.