Sonia Killik, metaphysician, life coach, author, mommy.
In this post we interview first time author (and mom) Sonia Killik on her recently released book that focuses on the beauty (and science) of pregnancy. Now whilst my vocabulary on the topic of pregnancy is limited to “congratulations”, the reason for my chat with Sonia focuses on the marketing of her title. As you are about the see, Sonia is years ahead in the marketing game, and it shows.
A quick look through Sonia’s website, www.soniakillik.com provides a few lessons for those authors who intend building their own online platform. Here are a quick few points highlighting an online platform that will work well for the author.
What Sonia did right online.
Firstly and most obviously she has her own website. No, having a Facebook page does not count. You would be surprised how many authors don’t focus on building their own online platform, fully in their control. The cost of having your own website is minimal. This is an essential tool for any serious author.
She has made her website easily shareable. Using prominent links to all social platforms, Sonia makes it easy for the website visitor to share her content. The social buttons are easily visible and appear on the home page, under each blog post as well as the website footer menu. It will be extremely difficult for even the lazy visitor NOT to share page from Sonia’s website.
Her website is relflowable. This means it works across different devices like the iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC. Too many authors rely on a static website that cannot be read easily from smaller screens. Test your website on your smartphone. Look great? If not, you have a problem.
She collects reader's email addresses. This in my opinion is the second golden rule for becoming a best-selling author, (the first being to write more). As soon as you enter Sonia’s website, the first two buttons that jump out lead the visitor to supply their email details.
The website visitors are not threatened or worse, prompted in a boring or matter-of-fact request. Instead Sonia leaves a very personal message to the visitor. Compare the standard message of “Enter your email address here” to her heart-felt appeal: “I am hard at work finishing the manuscripts and am so excited to get them finished and in your hands. My goal is to have 2 out before the end of next year (2016), I’ll keep you updated on the progress and book cover polls.”
She blogs. This is my favourite marketing activity, and yes I admit I am slightly biased toward bloggers. Sonia’s blog titled “The Rant” will help her market her book in a few different ways. If she continues to blog on topics similar to her books, she will be attracting her ideal readers to her website without paying a cent for over-priced marketing mumbo-jumbo. A regularly updated blog gives a compelling reason for visitors to return for a second and third visit.
Blogging will also help establish Sonia as an unofficial authority on her chosen topic. This helps her enormously in getting those important interviews on the telly or the radio. Assuming blog-readers find her online articles helpful and entertaining, readers will be drawn to her work which means an increase in the number of blog visitors that purchase her book on platforms like Amazon. This is a low-cost activity with the main input just being your time. It connects you to your ideal readers in a way that would make most highly paid marketing executives irrelevant.
She embraces her unique voice. Every corner of Sonia’s website is wrapped in her colourful personality. From the name of her blog (The Rant) through to the title of her book Birth 'f*ck yeah! Sonia has mastered her fear and her writing has a feeling of authenticity that says, here is my opinion, take it or leave it. This is priceless and for those who are wondering how to find their online voice, don’t worry, it just takes time. My first blog posts were written in a voice that was as timid and flavourless than those of a self-confessed nerd asking out their crush and a first date. My voice and confidence sharing it with others was built over the next 50 or so blog posts.
She adds value. This is a big one. Rule #1 of running any successful venture online is to add genuine value for the visitors. Yes, blogging does count as adding value, but there is so much more you can do to help someone have a better day. Authors who only have paid-for content available or a boring, static website that is never updated, beware. Add value to someone’s visit. This could be helpful downloadable content as Sonia has on her website, checklists, free resources etc.
So that was Sonia’s website at a glance.
How does your website compare?
Are you adding real value for your website visitors?
Or is your website a vanity website meant to purely boost your ego. Only one of these will earn the author the hearts of their readers and yes, more sales.
Now for our Five minutes with an author segment featuring Sonia Killik…
Q: This is your first book, give the readers some insight into your journey.
I have always dreamed of writing a book(s), the written word has been a passion of mine most of my life. During the course of my various professions I wrote fairly extensively (writing scripts when I was an animator, self-help columns as a Life Coach, and various guest pieces for publications). I think that it was only when something so profound happened to me, being the birth of my daughter, that I was able to access the drive, message and commitment needed to actually write and finish a book.
I wrote almost 70% of Birth on my iPhone while I nursed my daughter (yes only using my thumb to type), well over a years worth of effort. I then got over confident in my tech skills and tried to automatically sync my phone app with my mac program – needless to say I deleted the whole thing on both devices. It shows how committed I am to the message that I sat down and started from scratch (after crying in the corner for 3hrs of course).
As any artist or entrepreneur will know – the waves of euphoria and self-doubt can be quite brutal, which is why it is so important to believe 110% in what you are doing. It’s not just writing a book though, it’s researching not only your subject matter but also the publishing industry, new technical skills for the eBook market and so much more. The only way I stayed on track was to be very disciplined with my time and focus. I literally had time allocated for research, emails, writing and eating.
I have made many mistakes, some of them comical, some of them I can only think of when I’m eating chocolate with a blanket over my head. But I look at them as school fees, and for my next book the journey will hopefully be a lot smoother.
Q: How has the book been received?
I missed my September publishing deadline (see the reference to mistakes above) and so Birth was released in December. I did a nominal notice of the release and then decided to give myself a much needed holiday. It is now January and the world is back to work and ready for another exciting year.
I have focused a lot on online marketing, where Birth has been received well. Birth has been showcased in a number of online and hardcopy publications all over the world, and I am now entering the unknown world of podcasts (queue: more research). My next push will be the advertising of the paperback. I believe because of the genre the paperbacks will do better than the eBooks as preggy mom’s prefer having a book in their hand that they can bookmark, highlight and refer back to easily.
Watch this space :)
Q: Your book sales had some impressive sales spikes early on, how did you do this (or did you?)
This was due to my networking efforts. I joined parenting Facebook groups. Re-opened my Twitter account, contacted Midwives Associations all over the world (literally in every country), and basically told everyone I could.
I will start marketing my next book a lot earlier than it’s publication date though – I am super keen to start writing the next 3 that are swirling in my head but Birth is still in it’s infancy (excuse the pun) in terms of marketing potential.
Q: What online platforms did you choose to sell through, why?
I used all the major resellers being Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Nobel, Kobo etc. Without an electronic book presence authors will find it very hard to succeed. Although I swore I would never stop reading paperbacks myself, one day out of desperation I downloaded my first eBook and I am now hooked. Instant gratification at its best.
I think most of the world feels the same way.
(Dave here, Sonia found her way into these smaller online eBook stores using D2D's free eBook distribution service)
Q: What would your top 5 marketing tips be for new author looking to take their writing to the next level?
- Connect on a personal level with your target audience. I never once copied and pasted an email to someone, every person or company I chatted with required a unique ‘pitch’ and introduction. So don’t cut corners on creating these relationships.
- Market your book before publishing it. Think of ways you can make it exciting by offering early bird discounts when your book is released, ask your friends and network for their input in the book’s progress (they can vote on titles, covers etc).
- When you have writers block or don’t feel like writing, spend the time surfing the internet for possible sales channels. Look for groups on social media, magazines, blogs – whatever you can find where you can connect in and offer value (your book, insights etc)
- Start building your website and blog and be consistent. Define your message, your voice (as Dave mentioned) and your own unique offering.
- DO.NOT.GIVE.UP (I recommend music and long drives when it gets hard)
- Throwing in an extra one here… when you are actually writing, disconnect from the internet and put your phone on silent. It’s the only way to get a good word count in for the day.
Q: State of self-publishing in South Africa? (Your opinion, be ruthless)
I actually think that in terms of author support and resources we are in a good position. We can still access the global market through the various platforms, but we can easily source fantastic companies to help us get from start to finish. Initially I was looking at a UK provider but apart from the exorbitant exchange rate I found their service impersonal.
South African’s are very focused on service delivery and entrepreneurship, and it shows in this industry. I have nothing but good experiences working locally. I think we are young in comparison to the world stage, but that is a good thing – it means we are not diluted with companies trying to make a quick buck (as is the case overseas).
I will however criticize the paperback part of it… we have only 1 major book seller and then sporadic boutique shops that would be impossible to contact all individually (or even find them). I would like to see more local representation of self-published or just South African authors. This can be in the form of conferences, exhibits, awards etc.
Q: When did you start, and how did you time your marketing efforts for you and the book?
The research of where and how I would market was a constant companion during my writing. There are incredible free resources available out there. I highly recommend John Tighe’s Crush it with Kindle series, he offers free Youtube tutorials, webinars and books. The information is out there, you just need to look for it and set aside the time to learn.
I did a little bit of pre-marketing but to be honest I was so focused on completing the project that I didn’t do as much as I could have. Having said that the groundwork has been done and the marketing for my next books will be a lot less time consuming, and for those I will start 3 months prior to publishing.
Marketing is however a constant effort. Every day I am exposed to new methods or people that I can plug into. You just need to stay alert (and keep an organised Excel spreadsheet and filing system).
Q: Advice for authors needing marketing help on a budget?
Look to who you know – I’m pretty sure you have friends or acquaintances who knows someone who knows someone. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive – offer a barter or value for their services and most people are keen to assist.
Sites are looking for content so offer to guest blog, magazines are looking for editorials so do the same there. It is 100% about networking. And don’t be shy – if you believe in your work then go out there and tell people.
Oh… and don’t take it personally. I had a prominent high ranking site reject my work because of my sub-title. That of course made me doubt my decision, for about 5 minutes. You can’t convince everyone or make everyone love you which is totally fine, you’re not trying to be president.
Keep going and persevere – the chances of being an overnight success are slim, but you can succeed if you stay dedicated and do a little every day.
Want to find out more about Sonia?