Survive the Summer Sales Slump

Industry folks from all sides will argue as to whether or not a summer sales slump occurs, particularly in the eBook space. We at AOAD don’t have specific numbers to prove this, but anecdotal evidence, personal experience, and the fact that many publishers take chunks of time off during the summer when sales are lower seem to be good indicators that it happens to some extent.

The question is, if or when the summer sales slump hits, what can you do about it? Let’s talk about some ways to deal with these slower months. We don’t guarantee sales, but we do think you’ll have a productive summer if you try these out!

Hold a Sale
Hold a price drop on one (or more) of your books. As simple as that. Price drops tend to boost sales units. You may see less $, but at the same time, you may see more $ than if you hadn’t done the sale.

Release a Boxed Set
If you have a series completed, consider releasing a box set of the series during the summer. Don’t have a completed series without a box? Try an anthology with several other authors.

Promote, Promote, Promote
Rather than back off on your promotions, step up. Many authors take the summer off. Many publishers take a portion of the summer off. Take advantage of potentially having less voices to compete with and do more promoting in the summer.

Release a New Book
Releasing a new book during traditional slump months can help you get through the slump and bolster your numbers. Two things to consider… If you release in June, try releasing a summer-themed book to take advantage of those beach readers. Also, think about releasing in August which has the potential to kick start your fall sales.

Try A Social Media Refresh
Take advantages of these months when readers are paying less attention and refresh your social media. Give your brand a face lift, launch a new website, get started on a new platform (never tried Instagram? Try now), and so forth.

Summerize Your Incentives
Any giveaways, sales, releases, promotions, etc. that you do, try to make them summer themed. Combine them with other summer incentives. Think beaches, BBQ, pools, snow cones & ice cream…you get it.  Just remember, if you do this, to time your events earlier in the summer. You know…when it’s still summer for a while.

Hook Up with Other Authors
Use the power of cross-promotion. In the summer try to do events like Facebook parties, Twitter parties, Newsletter visits, blog visits or blasts, and so on, with other authors.

Get Ready for Fall
Take these slower months to get ready for the uptick in the fall. Hold off on those promotions and sales and hit them hard at the end of August, September/October. After taking a break and hearing less over the summer, readers may be more ready to take advantage. (Yes, we know this contradicts our earlier suggestion about promoting in the summer. Lol. Pick one and try it out. See what works for you.)

Learn
Take advantage of a slow down and use all that extra time in your life to beef up your skills. Take workshops, go to a conference, take an online or local college course, try writing exercises, join a writing group, and anything else you can think of.

Read
Take a break and read over the summer. Reading is a huge part of being an author. Keep up with how the market it changing in your genre. Enjoy other authors’ work. Rekindle your passion.

Write, Write, Write
Take the summer to write your heart out. Get words on the page so that when the industry returns to full steam in the fall, you can jump right in. Or get a head start on a project so that you can take it easier in the fall.

No matter which of our suggestions you try, definitely try the last one! We wish you luck heading into the summer and would love to hear what works for you. Do you see the slump? What have you tried?

Common Editing Misses

One of our editors is a retired English teacher, and quite possibly the most thorough editor I’ve ever come across in terms of grammar. This editor has a list of common grammar mistakes missed consistently during editing (whether by writers OR by previous editors).

Some of these grammar rules may be a preference of a given publisher to not apply in favor of a less formal voice. However, whether writing fiction or non-fiction, it helps to be aware of the rules. I thought I’d share her list today and get them on your radar. (Do consult with your editor about these.)

Lie / Lay
With this one it helps to remember that “to lay” is referring to objects, and “to lie” is referring to a person’s body doing the action.


*table from chompchomp.com

Like / As
Using like vs. as when preceding a comparison, here’s the trick…

If the comparison phrase has no verb, you use “like.”

She trembled like a leaf.
The heat in his gaze disappeared like a cool mist.

If the comparison phrase has a subject and verb, you MUST use “as” or “as though”.

She trembled as a leaf fluttering to the ground might tremble.
The heat in his gaze disappeared, as though he’d mentally taken a step back.

They (for one person)
When writing about a nameless person for whom you have not yet identified the gender, it can get tricky from a grammatical standpoint. Most writers will then refer to that person as “they.”

Ex. The thief was stealthy. They’d managed to get by all our security. They must move like a ninja.

The problem with this is “they” is plural, referring to more than one person. To be technically correct, you should write the above example in the following way:

Ex. The thief was stealthy. He or she had managed to get by all our security. He or she must move like a ninja.

This, obviously, can become quite clunky especially in fiction writing. We recommend reworking the sentence to try to avoid it when possible. Ask your publisher for his or her preference as well.

Ex. The thief was stealthy with skills like a ninja, because not a single one of our security measures had been tripped. 

Hopefully these were helpful. What common grammar mistakes do you find either you miss or often get missed in editing?

Social Media Images Help Find Readers

Social media, for most authors, is the primary means of advertising, marketing, and connecting with readers. A majority of authors start wit the basic needs–a banner image on Facebook and/or a website and use of their book covers.

But there are so many more options for what you can do with images in social media. For example, do you create custom, related images for your blog posts or most important social media posts? All current research shows that posts on social media which include graphics get a higher engagement than those which don’t.

Here are just a few ideas of different images you might want to try using on social media:

Banners
Banners are the long/skinny images that go across the top of your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, website, or other platforms. Sometimes a website has multiple banners, one across the top and one or more on the home page or at the top of each main page. Typically, you want these images to include your logo and/or website. They can also be used to announce/advertise the most important upcoming dates for you as an author (usually new releases).

Advertisements
These image can include more detailed graphics for paid online or print magazine ads. They can also be ads on other websites or in newsletters. This means they come in a wide range of sizes and needs.

Announcements
Use images–usually on Facebook or Twitter–to announce anything from new releases to sales to book signings and so forth. Images will always engage more than just text for these announcements.

Memes
Memes are usually just for fun–funny comments on being an author, what you feel like without coffee in the morning, etc. They can also help catch the attention of new readers for your books. Make a meme which has an image of your heroine and a quote from the book, or the cover with the tagline.

Blog Posts
Always try to have an image that helps grab attention when you post on your blog. Usually, an image which includes the catchy title of the blog post is a great place to started. Other images which illustrate whatever the topic is are also good.

There are a ton of other ways to use imagery when posting on social media. Hopefully these gave you a few new things to think about.

By the way, there is a fantastic page at Make a Website Hub which shows the recommended image dimensions (as of 2016) for various social media needs.

Task Management: Top 10 Efficiency Tips

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Task management. This is a necessary evil that every person with anything to do must deal with in some form or other.

At work, at home, with your kids, at school, in your writing life…No matter where you are in life, you are dealing with tasks. How would you like some tips and tricks to help you be as efficient as possible while you’re working through all those tasks, to-do lists, chores, and obligations? Here are my top 10 tips for task execution:

First 15

Set aside the first 15 minutes of your day. Review anything that’s come up overnight. Adjust the list if needed. Review your list and decide what your priorities are for the day.

Write It Down

This is a bit of a soap box for me. I don’t care how great your memory is. If you don’t write it down – even the little stuff – you will most likely forget something. I don’t care if you have an app on your phone, use OneNote, or use an old-fashioned checklist. Just write it down somewhere.

Prioritized Subset

Don’t work from  your entire task list on a given day. Keep one list for long-term tasks or tasks you know you won’t get to that day. Then, for today, work from a list of tasks that are just for today. Your To Do List won’t be so intimidating that way, and you’ll feel you accomplished more. Psychology is a big part of good task management.

Heads Down vs. Interruptible

Understand when your time is heads down (you can’t/shouldn’t be interrupted) vs. when you can be interrupted without it causing a problem. When needed schedule that heads down time, go to a different room (or get out of the house), or put up signs that say please wait until x:00pm. Being clear with yourself and with others about heads down time is the key.

Dare to Ask for Time

Dare to tell someone your estimate of how long something will take. Example…. your boss says I need XYZ by noon. You can dare to say “To do it right, I need until 2pm.” Let them make the call if they still need it by the original deadline or they can wait. If they can’t wait, now they are clear that they’re getting the rushed version.

checklistLearn to Ask Questions

Never be afraid to clarify. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “I need ABC.” I gave them what they asked for and it wasn’t what they really needed. Frequently, clarifying questions result in my saying, “You don’t need ABC, you need EFG.” This saves everyone time and frustration.

Stop thinking, act! / Stop acting, think!

There are times when you think a project to death and never actually do. As an author, I’ve had a LOT of friends tell me that they’ll write that book someday, but don’t get to it because they over think it. That’s when you need to stop thinking and act. Frequently getting started will get your creative/cognitive juices flowing.

There are also times when you are moving too fast. This results in mistakes and having to go back and redo. If you catch yourself doing this, take a deep breath and deliberately slow down. Or even take a break and then come back.

Manage Expectations

If your task is something you owe to another person or people, manage expectations. It’s better to over communicate in general. Tell them when you’re running late, but give an ETA. If you’re running up against that ETA, then let them know you need more time BEFORE that time passes.

2-Minute Rule

Tasks often pile up throughout the day. Any tasks that take you 2 minutes or less to complete, do them the second they come in. It gets those off your plate immediately. Also, most time management experts say that you are more efficient working on the shorter tasks first.

Caveat: If you are someone who has trouble getting back into the groove of what you were doing, then save those 2-minute tasks. Work on them after you complete what you’re working on at the moment.

Last 15

Take the last 15 minutes of your day to:

  • Knock out the rest of your 2-minute tasks (if any are left).
  • Check you didn’t miss anything major.
  • Send ETA emails / set expectations as needed for the following day.
  • Write out your task list for the next day.

 

 

Service Spotlight: Virtual Personal Assistants!

VA-ImageNeed help on a regular basis? Hire one of our Virtual Personal Assistants (VPA) on an hourly basis. Whether it’s weekly needs or for a single project, we can help!

Our VPAs can help you:

  • Manage your personal calendar
  • Manage your author email
  • Mail out giveaway prizes and various other items
  • Set up and facilitate Facebook parties
  • PLUS: All of the à la carte duties listed on this website are available via our VPAs at their hourly rate!

PRICING

Project Based – Sign up for a project, and the VPA will provide a quote for the number of hours to complete. ($15/hour)

Regular Hours – Book a VPA for a designated number of hours per week at a discounted “regular customer” rate. ($10/hour)

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