Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Lovett Herbranson’

Author Branding – The Nitty Gritty

Part II

By: Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

In part one of Author Branding, we talked about what made you different. In this post, we’ll talk about putting that into practice.

An author brand is the experience you offer the reader. But how do you develop that?

First, determine who your ideal reader is.

What do they like, dislike, expect from your genre? Why do they read your genre?

This is important because if you don’t know who you’re trying to find to read your book, then you’re just spitting in the wind.

Write all this down on a list.

Second, decide what it is you, the author, offers the reader – besides books.

In this day and age, the author is as much the brand as the books. That doesn’t mean readers get to invade your private life, but it does mean they want to get to know you. Decide what they get to know.

Brainstorm your hobbies, interest and values you want to project. Add those to your list.

Third, add more. Your brand is you, the author, and your books.

What from your books can you use to create your brand? Locations and your characters’ hobbies, interests and careers provide a wealth of additional assets for your brand.

Brainstorm your books and add those to your list.

Fourth, put it altogether.

Look at your list and pick five or so items that you are comfortable consistently sharing across your platforms. These are what your author brand will be known for. Keep in mind, your reader is what matters. What will they consistently get out of your platform? These five items are it: the world or experience you are creating for them. THIS IS YOUR BRAND.

Fifth, time to pick colors and fonts.

What feeling do you and your books bring to the reader? Colors reflect feeling, so use appropriate ones. Red: aggression or romance. Yellow: cheer. Blue: calm. Black: haunting or ambition. Brown: soothing. White: purity or efficiency. Orange: enthusiasm, energy. Green: growth or fertility.

Fonts also reflect emotion. Frilly fonts are probably not best suited for horror books. Strong, bold fonts are good for mystery and thriller. Choose wisely.

Sixth, create your logo.

You can use a platform like Tailor Brands ( or Canva ( to help you.

The logo should reflect the brand you developed in the fourth bullet of this post. It’s a bit subjective and intuitive but you’ll know it’s the right one when you see it.

Seventh, be consistent.

Your colors, logo, font, values and persona should be consistent with every single thing you post online or develop for written products. A reader should be able to look at something and know it’s you.

Make sure your URL and all your social media handles are the same. Make sure your printed products all use the same font.

Your brand is what you offer. If you are clear on that, then your readers will be too. For a checklist to help you, click here.

Jennifer Lovett

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Author Branding – How Are You Different?

Part 1

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

It seems like everybody is talking about “author brand” these days. Do you remember when all we talked about was “author platform”? It’s the same thing but I think it’s much easier to understand and develop a brand than a platform, especially for a fiction author.

What makes you distinct from other writers?

Do you Stand Out?

While branding does include logos and slogans, the bulk of it is what you offer the reader. It’s how you are different and stand out. What makes you distinct from other writers in your genre? Why should anyone want to read your work as opposed to anyone else’s?

Agents and editors ask writers this question all the time. They are looking for something different and unique. But it’s difficult sometimes to figure that out for ourselves.

I recently attended a branding seminar by a consultant firm that had nothing to do with writing, and it finally all clicked.

This firm used Marty Neumeier’s book Zag to help explain one aspect of brand, and I think it gets to the heart of everything writers need to develop the answer to their “uniqueness.” I’ve tweaked it to be specifically for writers and it starts with five questions.

5 Questions to Branding

1 – What do you offer?

This is your genre. Be clear and specific about which genre you write in. Romance isn’t enough. If it’s romantic suspense or romantic sci-fi, then say so. If you write thrillers, determine exactly what kind – spy thrillers, international thrillers, domestic thrillers, etc..

2- How is it different?

This is the twist on your take of the genre. Again, be specific. How is your romantic suspense unique? How is your international spy thriller different? This is the element of your brand that is unique to itself.

3- Where is it set?

Location can really help you set yourself apart. If everyone is writing about LA, and you write about Chicago, that’s great news. Location also gives you lots of color and character for your brand.

4- Who is it for?

Be very specific about your audience. Who is your reader? Have you done a reader sketch yet? Time to get on that.

5- What is the current trend?

Understanding and articulating the current trend is the foundation for how you explain the way you stand out.
What is everyone else writing right now? Vampires? Great then you write werewolves.
Thrillers in the Soviet Union? Awesome, because you’re writing about them in China.

“Only” Statements

Now that you’ve answered all these questions. Put it together in your “only” statement. Here are a couple of examples to help you:

Example #1:

Dan Brown is the only thriller author writing Catholic-themed adventure stories set in Rome for action readers in an era when the market is saturated with Middle Easter terrorists’ thrillers.

Example #2:

Stephenie Meyer is the only young adult shifter romance author writing vampires and werewolves set in Washington State for teenagers in an era when the market is saturated with vampire-only romances.

Example #3: (ok, this is my group, but had to make a quick plug!)

Writer Nation is the only book marketing group for authors that espouses a marketing strategy where authors get to be writers first and marketers second in an era when the publishing industry is expecting them to do the bulk of their own marketing.

Once you’ve figured out your “only” statement. You have the foundation to build every other aspect of your author brand. More on those other aspects in Part 2, next week.

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram: @writernationjen

Writer Productivity Gurus are Full of Crap

By: Jennifer Lovett

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find a million reasons to procrastinate, and your productivity is crap. Actually, writing this article is a way I’m procrastinating from writing the next chapter in my book. I’ve read all about “writer productivity” and I call b-s on it.

  • I need to go out and buy books at Costco.
  • I want a new black bag for my trip to Japan.
  • Company is coming this weekend, and I need food.
  • College applications are due and I need to nudge Miss Thing’s guidance counselor.

The list goes on and on. So I figured if I write about writer productivity, then maybe I’ll get my butt in gear. Whoops, just had to check Facebook and my email. Simone Biles just won her umpteenth world championship – way to go girl!

Just Do It!

Back to productivity.

I actually have a list. One I write every single night before I go to bed. On it now are eight items, half of which have three sub-items. I’ve been working for three hours and only one is checked off. I posted to social media!

But I like to wake up early, drink coffee and read the news. Then check email. That takes nearly an hour. Does it help me get motivated to write? Who knows, but once I take the time for news and email, I’m no longer thinking about it.

Now I’m researching writer / book statistics. It has been reported that nearly 80% of Americans want to write a book. Know how many finish that book? Two percent? Two!

Have you finished a book? Then welcome to the two percent.

Doesn’t matter if you haven’t shopped it around yet or indie-pubbed it. You finished it and you should be proud!

But what about the rest? Why haven’t you finished?

What got me to finish my book? I have five completed books. Only one is out, but that’s neither here nor there. I finished five.

  • The first one got done because I was motivated by all the awesome other writers around me who were finishing their books.
  • And the second one because it fed into the first one and the story just kept on coming.
  • The third one was a NaNoWriMo challenge and a super fun one on a topic I love.
  • Fourth? Completely fed up with the American political vitriol and I had to figure out a way to work through it. Book done.
  • I had the time and a deep desire to help others. This is the one that’s actually out. It’s also nonfiction and I’m much more comfortable with the topic.

So how did it happen?

We could look at the fact that I’m a night owl and can cram four hours’ worth of quality work in after dinner as opposed to the mediocre crap I can push out before 9 am.

I also have a need to be around people, and I write a hundred times better at my favorite, Panera Bread, or my favorite, favorites coffee shops. Poor Richards in downtown Colorado Springs and Poet’s in Cookeville, Tennessee, are my super favs. Sooo productive there!

I also drink a crap-ton of coffee, water and tea, so there are a lot of breaks in my day. If I didn’t walk outside everyday after lunch, I’d be a jumbled mess on whatever issues I’m having with my work.

I can’t find my 2019 vision board. I don’t have a white board. But I hear those things work too. What I do have is a deep fascination with writing and words. I love them.

Think about your day.

  • Are you following what someone else told you to do and suddenly you find yourself pouring over cat photos on Instagram instead of writing?
  • When are you most productive? It’s usually only about four hours of the day. Find those four hours and hold them hostage. No one is to steal those from you.
  • Or you could just do what Nora Roberts does. Writing is her work, and she works 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. That might just kill me. Probably why I don’t make a gazillion dollars a year with my books too.

I don’t have any answers for you other than to think about your time. Where are your holes? What are you doing instead? Why are you doing that instead? Forget all that writer productivity guru crap and think about you and your writing.

You sat down to write for a reason. What is it? Hold on to that for dear life and get that book done! Be a two percenter.

Ok, I’m off. Not to write. I need to buy that black bag and a couple of books.

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram: @writernationjen

How’s Your #Hashtag Game?

By: Jennifer Lovett

Social media is about interaction, networking and engagement. If you authentically engage with other users of a hashtag, you’ll create a genuine experience online. That experience is why people are on the platform in the first place.

The great marketer Seth Godin repeatedly says, “People don’t buy products. They buy experiences.”

Think about Jeep owners. Rugged, athletic, outdoorsy. They’re part of a club.

The Hashtag Game

Patagonia. Subaru. There is almost a cult following for brands like these.

While I’m not advocating you build a cult and head to South America, I am definitely telling you that creating an experience with you, a real person, is important to potential readers. Readers buy from people they know or think they know. The most common place for people to do that is on social media. That’s where hashtags come in.

Hashtags are basically categories for posts.

If you click on a hashtag you see in Tweet or Instagram Post, the system will take you to every tweet or post that includes that hashtag. It’s a nice way to categorize topics, and it makes it easier to find information. That’s the basics.

But another reason to use hashtags is to help build your following.

  • Reach like-minded folks.
    • You’ll want to use hashtags in your posts is to reach like-minded users and hopefully bring them into your author brand online space.
    • If you’re looking for readers of paranormal romance, then you’ll want to scroll through all the posts or tweets with the #paranormalromance hashtag.
  • Engage with them.
    • Once you see what those readers or writers are posting, you can like, comment or share their posts, or even follow them. These actions encourage that person to do the same for you.
  • Help folks find you.
    • You’ll want to use hashtags as well, so people can find you. If you write #westerns, then use that hashtag to put yourself in front of readers of westerns.
    • Make sure whatever you post is interesting and reflects your brand.
  • Another very cool reason to use hashtags is to connect with publishing industry professionals. #MSWL is Manuscript Wish List. This is when literary agents post exactly what stories they are looking for.

But don’t be a stalker.

One thing you’d probably not want to do is overuse a hashtag.

On Twitter, don’t use more than 3 hashtags. I really encourage only 2 and put them at the end of your tweet, so it doesn’t clutter the tweet and make it harder to read.

On Instagram, one or two in the original caption is best. Then, put up to 30 in first comment. Yes, 30.

So you don’t come across as a relentless stalker of a particular hashtag, I recommend you create five to seven different lists of hashtags that you can rotate.

To help you do that, I’ve compiled a list of hashtags most common for readers and writers at the end of this post.

Make it easier on everybody.

Hashtags just make life a little easier on social media. Platforms are just so crowded with posts or pics, vids, tweets and other stuff, using hashtags is a way to help break through the noise. For you and for your reader.

#Spy Thriller

#MSWL – manuscript wish list

Books and Reading

#KPD (Kindle Publishing Direct)
#D2D (Draft 2 Digital)

#Novelines (to quote your own work)

Writing Process or Community

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Just How Beneficial IS Instagram?

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Are you getting FOMO? The Fear of Missing Out by not being on Instagram? Well if you aren’t using it, you should. It’s the hottest social media platform out there and the fastest growing. According to Statista, Instagram now boasts more than 500 million daily active users. That’s daily. Twitter has only 126 million.  It’s nowhere near Facebook’s 1.5 billion daily users, but it’s gaining, and gaining fast. And Americans report more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook on a daily basis these days.

So how do you take advantage of Instagram as part of your author brand?

  • Use Stories!
  • Hashtags Galore & Engage!
  • Your Feed!

Use Stories.

Stories are showing the most engagement these days. Since you are a storyteller, this one is a no-brainer. Tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. Even if you’re doing a story about pizza (the most common food pic on Instagram), create the story: the search for pizza, the finding of the pizza, the eating of the pizza. Anything can be a story.

There are several ways to create the story.

  • Type
  • Music
  • Live
  • Normal
  • Boomerang
  • Superzoom
  • Hands-free

Type is a simple post with text with creative fonts on fun backgrounds.

Music – add music to your story by choosing the song on this tab before capturing your video

You can go Live and tell the world what you’re up to, just like Facebook Live, only this will fade off Instagram after 24 hours.

You can do a Normal story and create it with photos and/or video. Video is only 15-seconds.

Boomerang is a burst of photos that repeats over and over. Like a wave or jump in the air or opening a book.

Superzoom – really focus on something and zoom in on it Add music to make it sound creepy or funny.

The Hands-free feature just allows you to create video without having to keep your finger on the record button.

Hashtags Galore & Engage!

Hashtags are super important on Instagram so people can find you. Choosing the right hashtags will put you in front of potential readers.

For a regular Instagram post, I recommend only two hashtags in the main caption. Then add up to 30 in the first comment. Make a list and rotate your hashtags so you aren’t stalking the hashtag.

For stories, you can simply add hashtags to the Story so people can see them, or you can add them and then put a sticker or shape over them to hide them.

Distraction and engagement are why people are on social media. The more compelling, interesting, funny and creative your posts, the more people will enjoy them. It’s important to be a presence on Instagram to make it work. That doesn’t mean simply posting photos, slapping on a few hashtags, and then ignoring it. This isn’t a “build it and they will come” scenario. You must engage.

Find the hashtags that represent your author brand, your community, your interests and likes. Then start liking and commenting on those. Be a presence.

Your feed!

There is debate in the Instagram world about the effectiveness of your feed these days with Stories taking off. Tyler J McCall, Instagram Guru and Coach, recommends feed posts only every other day or so and to concentrate on your Story.

That being said, your feed should look like your author brand. What is your brand? What are your themes? The Instagram feed represents the window in the window-shopping metaphor of people looking to find others to follow. If your feed is a jumbled mess, then it’s unclear what you’re offering.

Look at other authors in your genre and see what they are posting. Do they have a theme?

Try celebrities you like. What is their theme?

Sometimes that’s a certain dominant color. Other times it’s a regular pose, like with a book reading or playing with the dog. Other times it’s a certain camera angle. The possibilities are endless, so get creative. Think about your author brand and the themes and messages in your books. What can you out of those to make part of your theme?

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform out there. If you are considering social media for your author brand and you like photos, I recommend jumping in the Instagram deep end. It’s not as overtly political as Facebook. And it’s not as time-consuming as a YouTube channel. It’s a fun platform and who knows, you might even find some new friends.


The 43 Instagram Statistics You Need to Know in 2019

Number of Instagram users in the United States from 2017 to 2023

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Marketing During NaNoWriMo – Are you Crazy?

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and I’m going to talk to you about marketing while you’re writing. I know what you’re thinking: Are you nuts?

Writing 1667 words a day every day for 30 days is daunting enough, and now I’m asking you to think about marketing while you’re doing it. Why yes, I am.

Wait! Hang in there!

What’s awesome about NaNoWriMo is the flood of ideas that rush in your head while you’re furiously writing your book. A lot of those ideas won’t make it in the book, so I want you to write them down.


Because writing down any ideas you have while you’re in the midst of this windstorm of fiction will give you exactly what you need to focus your marketing later.


Marketing is simply finding a way to reach readers. That’s it. In order to do that, you need content. Anything you have in a story can be used for your author brand. Drink the Koolaid because no matter if you traditionally publish or go indie, you’ll be doing the bulk of your marketing.

Writer’s Digest hosted a panel at their annual conference in August with publicists from Hachette and Penguin Random House, and right up front, the moderator said, “All authors should have a fundamental understanding of marketing.” 

I’m not going to get into an explanation of the fundamentals of marketing right now. I’ll have a post on that after the maelstrom of NaNo is over. In the meantime, I just want you to be prepared and ready to go.

So, after you’re done writing for the day, take three minutes and make a quick note. What burst in your brain today about these characters and the story? Think about it like a book bible. Simply write down the pieces.

Use the list below to help you.

  • Character names
  • Character jobs or careers
  • Character hobbies or interests
  • Settings
  • Locations
  • Histories of the town or the people
  • Minor characters your MC came in contact with..their jobs and hobbies
  • Restaurants that appeared in the story
  • Businesses that appeared in the story

Not only will this list help you organize your thoughts about the story, it gives you tons of fodder to develop a marketing plan in December. I’ll walk you through it. Until then, simply take notes.

Jennifer Lovett

Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her
 WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Screw this Writing Thing: My Most Epic Writing Failures

by: Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

*WARNING: Foul Words Ahead*

Ok, so I’m one of those who started writing the minute she could scribble with crayons. My father kept the first story I ever wrote. In the seventh grade, I wrote a travel story with a friend of mine in Spanish class. By college, I knew I wanted to be a writer, so I took two courses: Creative Writing Fiction and Creative Writing Poetry. Both were epic disasters.

My poetry teacher told me I’d spent too much time reading the British Romantics. He was probably right. My fiction teacher told me my story didn’t make any sense. Rejection is part of the business, right? Well, it still sucks. But there is something to be learned from every disaster.

  • Crappy teachers can motivate you. When my poetry professor called my poems angsty crap pieces and told me I’d never have a future in writing, I hung my head in shame. Yes, he said this in a class full of edgy poets on their way to Pulitzer Prizes and probably some meth addictions. Eventually, I raised my eyebrows, got pissed and decided to pay attention to what he did like. I will forever hate the tatted up, pierced girl with long black hair and willowy skirts whose poetry oozed from the page in mid-90s Alanis Morrisette stanzas that he loved oh so much. (probably because I’m jealous)
  • Learn what you can. Discard the rest.  My prof hated my poetry. Did I say that already? It was full of trite clichés better suited for John Keats’ garden and British tea time. Under his glaring eye of disapproval, I learned how to write about love and pain in a modern way. That modern way included creative ways to describe action with as few words as possible. I did eventually write something that made its way into the annual university poetry anthology. It was called, “Fuck This.” Guess I showed him.
  • Advice should be taken with a grain of salt. For whatever reason, my fiction teacher never taught us how to plot. It was a semester-long course on writing fiction and the man, a New York Times bestseller, never taught the elements of the novel. This guy told me my novel wasn’t complete. Well, genius, you only asked for one chapter. This was an early lesson for me because writers are bombarded with advice, counsel and wisdom on a subject that is, at its core, creative. Take what you can use and move on.
  • Be badass. I’m on a Cobra Kai kick lately (What?! You haven’t seen the series on YouTube?! 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!!!), and being badass is the central theme of the new Cobra Kai. I could have easily melted into a puddle of nasty poo after my poetry and fiction teachers so blasély dismissed me. But no. I stood up. I schwacked their hoity toity idea of what a writer was supposed to be. and I kept going. Being badass means you stand up for what you want.

You KNOW you want to be a writer. So be one. Don’t let anyone get you down. Ever. Take what you can from the disasters because the best lessons are learned from failure. Then drop it. Move on. Be badass. No Mercy Bitches!

Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

6 Lies You’ve Been Told About Your “Author Platform”

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Number, 1, One, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

An Author Platform is Only for Nonfiction Authors

Get outta here! Platform is for everyone!

Ok, so it’s definitely easier for a nonfiction author because they already know what question they are trying to answer for their audience. All the information they’ve spent years learning through doing or academic rigor can be shared in droves. Nonfiction authors really need to organize and dose out their information strategically to keep the platform alive.

For fiction writers, however, a platform is simply what you offer your readers. What experience are you providing they can’t get elsewhere. Don’t say nothing because otherwise, why are you writing? Figure out what you offer your reader. Create a world around that online. That’s your platform. It isn’t a place. It’s your public persona and what you offer. You do this because people buy books from people they know or think they know. Let them get to know you.

Number, 2, Two, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Have to Tell Readers Everything About You or They Won’t Like You

Why yes, you are amazing. But you have to tell them everything because information goes on the interwebs??? Uh, okay “eye roll.”

Your platform is about your reader and what you offer that reader. That’s it. It’s what YOU decide you want your readers to know, and they don’t need to know everything about your private life. Unless of course you become an overnight New York Times bestseller and all the media come banging on your door, digging through your trash and talking to your middle school Spanish teacher. Well, hey, every job has its downsides!

Seriously, figure out what you want your Public Persona to be. What do you want to offer the reader? I encourage authors to think of three things about themselves they are comfortable sharing with the world. I talk about Alabama football, world traveling and anything that has to do with the Karate Kid. Does this appeal to everyone? Nope. Does it have anything to do with my books? Again, nope. But it does allow potential readers to get to know part of me. Even better is these things are innocuous and don’t intrude on my private life.

Number, 3, Three, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Can Build a Platform Without a Website

No you can’t.

You can build a platform without a blog but you can’t build a platform without a website. Sorry, but it’s just expected. Like having a colonoscopy when you’re 50. You just have to do it. The industry, the readers, the universe expects to find you at so just unplug your ears, and go ahead and build the site.

You only need to include a short bio section with a hi-res professional headshot, and your social media or buy links and a place to sign up for your author email. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive. It just has to be. And it has to be professional looking. While it may not have much information, it does need to look like you’re taking your own writer career seriously. Use Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace or WordPress. (WordPress is the best for SEO and lead generation on Google searches.)

Number, 4, Four, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Must Have a Million Followers

ONE. MILLION. FOLLOWERS! Sure, okay. You have a million followers who love you and found you organically online even though you opened your Instagram account….yesterday.

Ever since the industry got a clue that people could buy followers, this whole “how many followers” do you have thing isn’t as relevant anymore. What you need are engaged followers. People who actually comment, like and share your stuff. These people become fans who can become superfans. That’s what you need, so stop worrying about how many followers you don’t have, and create a genuine relationship with the ones you do have.

Number, 5, Five, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Setting up a platform can be done in 5 minutes a day

Yep, still eye rolling over here!

Anyone who tells you creating a platform can be done in only five minutes a day is a liar. To create a solid platform, a community for people online, you have to spend time doing it. There is no other way around it, and yes, it is worth it. When you are ready to launch a book, you’ll have people to launch it to.

Use a dashboard like Hootsuite (no longer free) or Buffer or TweetDeck to help you save time on social media or blogging. Schedule out posts as far out as you can.

Pick one social media platform to update. That’s it. Just one. These days Instagram is the best place to be but don’t discount other platforms that may work better for your genre. Spend time every day or every other day responding, liking, sharing.

Number, 6, Six, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Set Up a Platform AFTER The Book is Finished

No, no, nope, no, nope! 

You love your book, right? I know you do! Starting your platform after the book is finished is like coming home with a new baby and having no diapers. It’s like starting your race 15 minutes behind the pack. It’s like…like…I don’t know…like trying to start your car with no gas in it.

Look, the industry will tell you that you only need to write your second book and that’s good enough. Yeah, the industry will also tell you if you already have a following, you’re higher up on the list of maybes. Why wouldn’t you want every edge you can get?

If you’re going to publish indie, this is not even up for debate. You need to have a following. Give your readers progress reports, free scenes and snippets from the book or from your research, have your kid interview you on your writing process. If you’re a lawyer, provides case notes (without privacy info of course). If you’re a spy thriller writer, redacted case studies are fun. Do whatever you can to keep them hungry for your book. That way when you launch that book, they’ll be your biggest fans and can help sell it for you.

Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Why You Need an Email List & How to Create It

“But nobody reads emails!” “My inbox is already too full!” “I hate getting more email!”

Email remains the most effective way to reach an audience.

You’ve heard all this before. Five years ago, I would have agreed and told you building an email list and creating an email newsletter was a waste of time. It was going out of style. It was fading to Instant Messaging and social media platforms. It was antiquated. Well, I fully admit that I was wrong. While social media sites come and go, even the influence and reach of Facebook and Twitter ebb and flow, for the foreseeable future, email remains the most effective way to reach an audience – an audience that wants to hear from you. Here are three reasons why you need to start building an email list:

1. People Read Email

According to Forrester Analytics, 91% of U.S. customers (people who are online to buy things) use email daily and more than 70% of them read email first thing in the morning. The number of email users worldwide is projected to reach 3 billion by the end of 2020.

2. Email Converts to Sales

According to Campaign Monitor, the delivery rate for an unboosted Facebook post is less than 5%, while the delivery rate for an email is 75%, and an email is six times more likely to generate a click-through than a tweet. Anik Singal, founder and CEO of Lurn, Inc, reports that email marketing for Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals converted ads to sales at double the rate of social media. For more statistics on this, see WriterNation/EmailStats

3. You Own It

This one is key. Everything you post on social media is no longer owned by you. Instagram owns your pics. Twitter owns your tweets. Snapchat owns your snaps.  They also own your followers. Whereas you own the copyright on everything you write, film, design in your email. You also own the list. If you move from Facebook to Instagram or Snapchat, you can’t take the followers with you. You can with your email contact list.

Ways to Build Your List & Create a Killer Email

Whether you’ve published twenty books, ten books or no books, now is the time to start building your list. Don’t think because you don’t have anything to sell it’s too early to start building your list. It’s never too early or too late. Start now. To get you going, I’ve included some tips below. 

  • Use Mailchimp. It’s the easiest to get you started and its free for the first 2000 contacts. The analytics are good. It has A/B testing and segmented lists. And it has automation. Other email providers to check out are ConvertKit, AWeber and Constant Contact.
  • Create a killer landing page. This is where you tell the reader what they’ll get out of signing up with you. How often you’ll send them news and what type of things they can expect in your email. Here’s mine for reference.
  • Post it everywhere. Make sure your website has a subscriber link. Mailchimp has a pretty seamless plugin with WordPress. Even if you don’t use WordPress, the URL for the landing page works on any website or blog. Pin a tweet or Facebook post to the top of your profile. Put the link in your signature block and on every piece of paper swag you take to conferences, meetings or retreats.
  • Offer a freebie. For signing up with you, what special something can you offer? The possibilities are endless: deleted scenes, extra chapters, checklists, planners, calendars, access to a closed Facebook Group or Instagram feed.
  • Automate the first three to five emails. Once someone signs up and confirms their subscription (*always require confirmation to be in compliance with Anti-Spam laws), send them a thank-you and a link to the freebie.  Within 24 hours, send another note welcoming them to the email news and give a longer introduction to yourself and any news they should know as they embark on this journey with you. A week later, send the first email.
  • Create a Killer Email. Whether you use a newsletter format or simply an email is up to you. The difference in Return on Investment is negligible until you start segmenting lists and selling different items, and I’ll post on that next month. What really matters is what the reader gets out of it. They’ve already told you they want to hear from you and they dig what you’re doing. So, now offer them information they can’t get elsewhere. Some ideas:
    • Progress reports on the current work in progress
    • Event announcements
    • Photos of your research or interviews
    • List of your favorites (books, authors, movies, plays, music, etc…)
    • Promotions and/or Giveaways
    • Backstory (you know all that stuff you wanted to put in your book but your agent made you take it all out)
    • Quotes and Questions
    • ALWAYS put in a Call to Action (buy the book, attend the event, respond to a question)

If you still have questions, find me on any of my social media sites. I’m standing by to help!

Peace & Prose!


Jennifer Lovette HerbransonJennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Reach Your Audience with a Podcast

How many ways do you have to reach your target audience? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging. What about podcasting?

Several years ago, I sat in a podcasting class with Patrick Hester at Pikes Peak Writers Conference. He made it sound so fun and easy. It wasn’t long-form blogging or creating videos of myself; it was talking to other people – something right up my alley.
Took me some time but last year I decided to give it a go.

(Let me say this first: I do NOT advocate using every single outlet open to you to reach an audience. I’m a big advocate of utilizing one or two social media outlets, a website and whatever content you enjoy creating (blogs, videos, memes, etc).

Here’s what I did:

I created Writer Nation, a community of writers helping each other through their writing journey. With 17+ years of communications experience, I want to provide writers with a place to get some answers. You can ask me questions about marketing, or ask the group questions about anything, and it’s all free. To go along with it, I started the podcast by interviewing my writer friends. The idea was to build a platform where writers can talk about their journeys, hardships, triumphs and show other writers, they aren’t alone.

• Some of these writers haven’t published a thing
• Others are multi-published
• Some of the interviews are with industry professionals to give advice to writers
• If you are interested, you can absolutely be a guest on Writer Nation.

The following Pikes Peak Writers have been guests:

o Kameron Claire
o MK Meredith
o Deb Courtney
o Mandy Houk
o Shannon Lawrence
o Chris Mandeville (episode posting soon)

I love it, and here’s why I think you should at least be a guest or start your own podcast:

  • First of all, I get to talk to my friends. I also get to meet new friends. And who doesn’t love meeting new people and talking about themselves?
  • Second, it’s less intrusive than video, so folks seem more comfortable.
  • Third, it’s an up-and-coming format with room for anyone right now.
    ~~There are only 520,000 podcasts available as of early 2018 compared to 18M blogs or 50M YouTube Channels uploading more than 300 hours of video every minute. Last year, 73M Americans admitted to listening to podcasts at least monthly, and that number keeps rising. The odds are in our favor.*
  • Finally, check out this stat… the average commute in the United States is 24 minutes long, and most of those commuters admit to listening to audiobooks, the radio or podcasts during that time. That’s a long time for a listener to get to know you. The average YouTube video is 4 minutes. With podcast, you can be in someone’s space for eight times that long. And guess why people buy books? Because they like the author! Let them get to know you.

Are you convinced yet? Even if you aren’t convinced to start a podcast, I highly recommend you reach out and be a guest on a podcast. (Writer Nation is always looking!). Hosts need guests, and if you are launching a book, series, publishing company, whatever, take advantage of the reach of podcasts.

If you want to start a podcast, here are the steps I recommend:

  1. Narrow your niche. What do you want to podcast about? If it’s your books, awesome. Make it about your characters, your settings, your process. Not about writing in general. There are enough of those. Make this about your world.
  2. Define your format. Mine is interview. There are several types, but consistency is best.
  3. Buy a mic…a good one. I use a Snowball and it cost less than $100
  4. Use Audacity software. It’s free, and it’s easy to learn. They have a YouTube channel to help even the most editing illiterate.
  5. Find a host. I use Blubrry. It’s super easy and pairs up with a WordPress site seamlessly. *Here’s the deal with hosting. There is no podcast social media site like YouTube is for videos. You can’t upload a podcast file directly to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It’s one of the reasons why podcasts aren’t as prevalent as videos, and why, with just a little effort, you can get a foot in.
  6. Start podcasting. Don’t worry about not having an audience or 100 episodes. Just enjoy it and post it.

For a list of podcasts I recommend for writers, click here.

*Stats from Nielsen 2018 Q1 report came out March 20, 2018.

Jennifer Lovette HerbransonJennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. She has been a member of PPW for many years and has volunteered countless hours from here and abroad.