Can you advertise and promote using Hootsuite Free? Managing many posts

Stephen Link

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Can you advertise and promote using hootsuite free? Have you tried to do any categorization or searching on Hootsuite Free to make managing a large number of posts much easier? Although that feature is missing from the free version, it can be accomplished using the Firefox browser, and maybe others. I will focus on achieving this with FF since that is my main browser. We will also take a look at utilizing this functionality in Chrome and Internet Explorer.

Above you see that I have a rather large number of Hootsuite posts to choose from. Searching wasn’t too bad when there were 50 or maybe even 75. Now that there are over 200 posts, it makes a specific post rather hard to find. The solution to this is quite evident, though – pay $120 per year (or more) to use the paid version. Although I write software and Ebooks, I do not make enough money on either to justify advertising expenses targeted specifically for them. Because of my “cheapness,” my inquisitive programmer mentality kicked into high gear. Read the rest of this article so that you can benefit from this programmer approach.

I know that I can search using CTRL-F in Firefox, so I started with this browser. Then I had to find a way to search the post listing which disappears when clicking on something else. A little playing around revealed that answer – after opening the search box, type in the search phrase, click the post listing and manipulate the buttons using the keyboard. Press the key twice and then to search for the next, for next, and so on.

Without using the PRO version, I still can’t categorize. At least I can perform an adequate search of my rather large number of posts. As an individual small business owner, this is a truly important capability.

We mentioned Chrome – will this approach work in that browser? Actually, it seems to work even better. You still use CTRL-F to trigger the “find” feature. It shows up in the top right side below the address bar, in my case. Type the desired word, open the post listing and select one, now use the keyboard to move to the next entry.

Does this work in Internet Explorer? Yes, the same process will work, but it does not seem to be as consistent.

In order to make scheduling easier, be sure to use the auto scheduling function. Using this feature will pick the best time to post to the selected networks. In addition to this, it will place a lengthy period of time between the same posts while trying to group similar posts together. Of course, you may have an entire week already scheduled and want to add a new post between them. In this case, you will have no choice but manual scheduling. With manual scheduling, don’t forget the three US time zones plus many others worldwide.

Now for some “what ifs.” What if you want to use more than the few social networks available in the free version (I use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn)? Go pro. What if you want advanced analytics on your social media campaigns? Go pro. What if you want easier scheduling of hundreds of events? Go pro. How much will it cost to “Go pro?” That would depend on how many additional features are needed, but the basic pro package starts at $9.99 per month.

How to Write a Prologue that Hooks Readers

by Kristen Pham

Among those of us who proudly call ourselves writing geeks, the topic of prologues can be like discussing the morality of the death penalty in other circles. I know authors who hate them, as well as readers who skip prologues and go straight to the first chapter. Personally, I love a great prologue. I think of a well-written prologue as a teaser pulls me in to the story right away.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times to avoid the prologue. But when used appropriately, prologues can be a powerful tool to hook readers and add an extra layer of tension or depth to the first reading of a story. Below are some of my favorite prologues in YA fiction and the lessons I took away from them. Each of these authors used their prologues to achieve different ends, but they all created an opening that hooks the reader and enhances the story that follows.

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Add dimension to your story by giving away a key piece of information.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The prologue for Eleanor and Park sets up from the get-go that the two title characters in this teen romance are no longer together. By giving this away from the beginning, it makes the romance that follows all the more bittersweet. It also adds an element of danger – are they broken up because the heroine died? Constructing the prologue this way adds to the tension of the story in key scenes, and the payoff in the end is very satisfying.

Inform readers of key backstory.
Paper Towns by Josh Green
Paper Towns was the book that got me thinking about the effectiveness of backstory. The author uses a prologue to introduce readers to a key scene that is telling about the two main characters in the story, a suicide that they witnessed as children. The scene is prologue-worthy not only because it reveals the personalities of the two main characters, but also because the incident has an impact on how they process the world for the rest of their lives.

Give readers a peek into the future.
Timebound by Rysa Walker
A prologue can be the perfect tool to drop readers in the middle of action without frustrating them. It’s a great hook, and you can then back up and tell your story more slowly when you begin with Chapter 1. In Timebound, we quickly discover that the protagonist is time traveling, and is in incredible danger. The mystery of what’s happening in this scene become unraveled throughout the book, and we only discover how it is resolved in the climax.

Use your prologue to set the stakes.
Sanctum by Sarah Fine
In Sanctum, the heroine goes to a kind of hellish afterlife to save her best friend from an eternity of limbo, while risking her own chance at finding heaven. To understand why she would go to these lengths, the reader has to understand the relationship. Fine skillfully uses her prologue to establish the roots of the friendship, as well as the roots of the problems that lead to the premise of the story. The prologue captures the reader’s attention and leads seamlessly into the story that follows.

Subvert expectations.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
The Twilight series has its detractors, but I thought Meyer did an excellent job with her prologues, particularly in the first book of the series. As the heroine explains that she is happy to die for love, it not only tells us something about her character, but also sets us up for the climax of the book. Throughout, we are sure that Bella will be sacrificing her life for her new soul mate, but in fact the prologue is talking about her love for her mother. The surprise was sweet and increased my sympathy with the protagonist.

Did you include a prologue in your story? If so, what purpose does it serve?

Author Marketing Live Testimonial

unnamedDear Jim,

I wanted to get some detailed feedback to you about Author Marketing Live, but as I briefly mentioned to you I re-schedule a surgical procedure to this week in order to be able to fly in and attend Author Marketing Live. Believe me, the extra week of discomfort I had to go through by delaying the procedure in order to come to your event was absolutely worth it.

I have attended countless conferences for my job (I work in corporate communications and marketing) and I was not sure what to expect for an event targeted to authors/solo-preneurs. Author Marketing Live exceeded my expectations, from start to finish. Let me share some of the highlights:

A top-notch sales process. I heard you mention the event on your Sell More Books podcast and the Author Marketing Live website clearly projected this was a “big league” conference. The website was packed with benefit-rich information why you should attend. The author interviews were great. And the registration process was excellent- lots of communication from the moment you signed up until the morning of (and I am glad you have continued to communicate after the event with attendees…too many conferences and workshops squander this opportunity).

Pricing. The price was perfect. Impossible to not consider attending because it was a great value. As I told you at the first break of the conference, simply based on the opening presentations by you, Joe Pulizzi and J. Thorn, I already got my money’s worth by 10AM. Anything I would learn from 10AM to 5:30PM was a bonus. It’s like I was at the Horseshoe Casino and I was playing with the house’s money. The price was very affordable and there was no real barrier to entry.

The venue. The Renaissance was a great choice. Conveniently located and within walking distance of attractions (if the rail line was not out of operation on Sunday, I would have been able to take in that Indians game). The discount room block by co-locating with Content Marketing World was very helpful. Next year I am going to get my company to send me to Content Marketing World for the whole week, so all I will have to do is pay for my Author Marketing Registration.

The conference room was perfect for the size of the conference. Registration was very quick and easy. The light continental breakfast, boxed lunch and afternoon snack were great; I have paid more to attend other conferences and they offered less. These details were noticed and appreciated.

The speakers and topics. You picked a great “faculty” for this inaugural event. While I may have included similar comments on my Evaluation Form I handed in last week, I wanted to add some additional feedback:

  • Joe Pulizzi: great presentation and great message. It was packed with a lot of actionable advice, and I liked how he positioned his talk so that the audience would think “beyond the book.” It is all about building a business. Your book(s) should be the centerpiece of your plan, but there are other components if you want to make this a recurring source of income (like a sideline business) or your fulltime work. I used to work for a not-for-profit global trade organization (they invented the U.P.C. bar code- they were originally headquartered in Dayton, OH) and one of the messages we used to emphasize to the employees was “no money…no mission”). You constantly articulate that message, Jim, and all authors- non-fiction or fiction- need to apply that to their creative goals.
  • J. Thorn: he rocked the house! He was humble, but humorous. Lots of great information and his story was full of inspiration. He really engaged the audience. He could have spoken for three hours and it still would not have been enough.
  • David Lawrence: he was exceptional. I had not really considered audio as a part of my marketing strategy, but David was a revelation. He was informative and funny, too. The only thing missing was an overview of what authors can make by offering audio versions of their books through ACX. I know people are saying the audio market is growing, but are there any real world examples or case studies to help authors make an informed decision?
  • Andrea Vahl: I purchased her book this past spring and still have not gone through everything in the book yet. She did a good job in providing insights into Facebook marketing, but the challenge was the diverse attendee audience- some were more Facebook-savvy in terms of using it as an audience acquisition tool. Some topics, like this one, are a challenge because you do not know at what stage the audience is at.
  • Hunter Boyle: he was excellent as well. As an Aweber customer, I think they have the best service out there, bar none. So I knew that Hunter would have an excellent presentation before he opened his mouth. You and just about every subject matter expert out there have preached the importance of building your audience e-mail list; it is the one thing you “own” and control. It would have been ideal if Hunter did not have to use time upfront to make that case and instead used that time to provide even more info and examples like the ones he shared. A tremendous presentation.
  • Derek Murphy: another home run! It is such an important element of a book’s success in the marketplace. Derek did a fantastic job educating the audience about book cover design, tips and tricks. Even though he has a somewhat quiet/laid back personality, Derek had a very engaging and dynamic presence at the podium.
  • Sean & Johnny: Perfect way to cap off the event. They were energizing and inspiring. While I said that Deb and Vinny’s joint presentation was not optimal, Sean and Johnny’s podcast experience guaranteed they would have instant chemistry as co-presenters. I would insist you give them the closing keynote for next year! I have no doubt their journey would allow them to provide fresh and helpful insights to the Author Marketing Live 2015 attendees.


Jeff Oddo

Do free giveaways work?

by Morgan St. James

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The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I’ve been a hybrid author for a few years now, meaning that I am both traditionally and self-published. The world of self publishing has evolved to the point where much of the original onus it fostered in the beginning is now gone. There are some truly wonderful self-published books and even many A-List authors have opted to self publish their work.

With the surge in self publishing comes the increased competition for the buyer’s dollar. In the beginning if you did a free Kindle giveaway the results could be incredible. A few years ago I did one for my mother’s fun-filled memoir, Can We Come in and Laugh, Too? Here was a book written by an ordinary 80 year old woman who had the extraordinary ability to make people believe in themselves and view the world with humor. No one knew who she was, nor should they have. But with minor promotion over 6,000 copies were downloaded worldwide. People posted their thanks on Facebook and other social media and it generated some very good reviews. In the aftermath of the promotion, over 200 copies were sold within a few weeks plus several paperback copies. That was how it was a few years ago.

I tried a free Kindle promotion for a different book at the beginning of 2014 with the same amount of promotion I’d put into my mother’s book. The results were disappointing to say the least. About 600 copies were downloaded with no residual purchases and one review. Readers had become somewhat immune to the lure of a free book because so many were available. I realized stronger pre-promotion and ongoing presence during the free days was imperative, and I decided to try a Goodreads giveaway contest of five paperback copies of Ripoff, a funny crime caper, as the first venture into giving away paperbacks instead of ebooks although there was cost attached to it. There were several hundred requests and, as agreed, I mailed the paperback copies to the five winners. I got one review and never heard a word from the other winners. Essentially it cost about $50 for very little return. I won’t do that again. If I do a Goodreads giveaway for another book there will only be one win ner.

This month (August 2014) I decided to try a Kindle free promotion for Ripoff, but with a much more aggressive program. I used the links in the Authors’ Marketing Club site to submit the promotion to twenty different free and bargain book newsletters and blogs well in advance of the date. Free Booksy selected the book as one of their featured free books and just about every other newsletter I’d submitted to did run it. The day before the promotion I began my social media blast. I was all over Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for three days, posting every hour or hour and a half, listed it on my personal website, on the blog for my funny mystery novels,, ran an excerpt in the Writers’ Tricks of the Trade eZine and on the related blog and the only thing I didn’t do and could have was to do a blog tour. It was a lot of work, but it did pay off.

Over 5,600 free copies of the book were downloaded, there were residual paid sales and another 700 copies were downloaded under the new Kindle Unlimited program after the promotion was over. It ranked in overall Top 100 Free Kindle books and went as far as #1 in its category. Since the 3 day promotion ended, it has remained in top rankings in its category in paid sales and the overall Kindle ranking is much higher than it was before the promotion. Of course, this might not last as time goes one and I’ll have to do lots more to promote the book, but it certainly proved that the FREE PROMOTION does nothing much without doing everything to gain visibility. You can be the best, but if no one knows it doesn’t mean anything.

I also learned that next time I do a Kindle free book I’ll only run it for two days, not three. The majority of the downloads were on the first and second day. Also, if you keep giving away the same book people get used to seeing it and I think the downloads get fewer and fewer unless you allow for a big time gap between the promotions. Therefore, I’ve just published a little book called Getting Even. It is only 46 pages and offered for 99 cents, but is basically a promotional vehicle for Ripoff, and I can offer it free any time I decide to. You see, there are two elements in Ripoff—the protagonist’s betrayal by her less-than-honest hunky boy-toy and her stint as an amateur undercover sleuth when she goes to work for the Federal prison system.

Getting Even goes into much more depth relative to how she and a bunch of other cougars this young man had conned devise a diabolical plan to get even with him. It does give the setup in the first few chapters to let the reader know why she went from a cushy job at a technology corporation to working for the Federal prison system, and that might stimulate the reader’s curiosity about the story contained in the book Ripoff. However, by going into much more detail than that contained in Ripoff about how she and her fellow Sisterhood of Conned Cougars get back at this sleazy guy, it gives the reader a real feeling for who Kimberly Martin is and how successful she can be once she sets her mind to something.

When the exclusive time period for Kindle Select expires for Ripoff, it will be taken out of the program and offered in all other formats via Smashwords. That will open up a whole new market and a new free promotion will be staged.

In a nutshell, if you are going to do a free promotion in this day and age, my feeling is you have to have a carefully plotted plan in place first to bring attention to the book. You can’t just list it. You have to be prepared to put the time and energy into what an awareness campaign requires.


Visit for links to the current and archived issues of the bi-monthly Writers’ Tricks of the Trade eZine. Morgan St. James is the award-winning author of 11 books, multiple short stories, over 600 articles about the business and craft of writing.

Check out Ripoff: A Funny Crime Caper on Amazon.

Why Authors Shouldn’t Read Reviews of Their Books

by Liz Long

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In preparation for the upcoming release of the second Donovan Circus book, I had to make sure I remembered all the bits and pieces from the first book. Naturally, I have my spreadsheets and documents to refer back to, but sometimes, it’s easier just to pick up the paperback and flip to a particular page to double check something.

Okay, great. Let me just check out page 22 here…aaaaand I’ve read 14 chapters of my own work and now I want to go back in time, punch myself in the face, and tell younger me to never publish a book. What the hell was I thinking when so-and-so said this? When THAT happened? Was I drunk when I wrote that?! And who talks like that? Long, you’re an idiot. Don’t ever write anything else, ever again, for readers’ sakes.

Uhhhh, yeah. See how we are our own worst critics? I don’t need bad reviews to tell me that. All I have to do is read my own work and cringe with disbelief that I ever put out such a book.

I’m only sort of kidding, of course. I’m proud of the work I’ve achieved and I’d never take it off anyone’s bookshelf (because as I’ve said before, get a grip Long because someone likes your damn work). All the same, I am definitely my worst enemy when it comes to my own work (and that doesn’t just include my writing, either).

If you ask me (and you didn’t, but you’re here, so keep reading), I think I’ve got to stop reading my work once it’s been published. I read a great article this week about how authors should never read their reviews (I’m sorry, because for the life of me, I cannot find it again. Rats.). The reasons were surprisingly simple.

Reviews are for readers. They exist for readers to connect and engage, to discuss what worked and what didn’t, and why other readers might enjoy a title or want to make a different choice. Reviews are not for writers. The book bloggers I know are honest and blunt – and their reviews are meant for their readers, not for me. They don’t want to be called out by writers – half the time, it looks like the author is throwing a temper tantrum or defending their work. Guess what? That’s called being a poor sport and it makes you look bad. (Side advice: Keep quiet and work on writing the next book. You’ll get more respect in the long run for sucking it up and taking the high road, no matter how much you want to shake them and ask why they don’t understand your plot.)

Good ones make you feel good, sure. They make you feel all warm and fuzzy and like you can conquer the world. They also motivate me to get my butt in a chair and work on my next book. But at the same time, those good reviews only feed the ego and that might not necessarily be a good thing, either. Not all readers are writers. It’s great that they loved your book. But they might love every book they read for different reasons. You don’t want to get pumped up with so much expectation that when you see lower stars, it makes you want to leap off a cliff, right?

Bad ones, however, make you want to go back into the story and edit the hell out of it. Once you wipe the tears from your eyes, they make you want to re-read and tear it apart, and maybe do it with a bottle of Grey Goose on your desk. And the ones who say you’re just eh, okay? Sweet Jesus, talk about a kick in the ladyballs. “Mediocre” is NOT a word I like. (Neither is “diet.”)

When we set out to write our books, especially a series (or trilogy or whatever), we have a goal in mind, an overall arc of how things will happen and who the characters will be. What happens when you start hearing the reviews (good or bad) in your head about how they LOVED this character, but couldn’t stand your protagonist’s love interest? Or that this storyline was boring and wouldn’t it have been great if THIS had happened instead? If you ask me, that’s going to affect your book. Let me repeat: YOUR book. (If they want to see a story done a certain way, then they can write, it dammit.) Readers can love or hate your story, but they shouldn’t affect the outcome.

Good reviews, bad reviews, or somewhere in the middle: all the same, I’m starting to realize reading reviews is a waste of time. My product is out there. I worked hard at it, paid for professional editing and cover design, had 17 drafts rewritten, got feedback from beta readers, and god knows what else. Now it’s up to the rest of the world to do with it as they see fit. I can’t sway their minds – and if I could, that’s not exactly an honest review now, is it?

This one is especially for the nice kids who want to be liked: You can’t make someone like you anymore than you can make me eat chicken livers (never gonna happen). As Dita von Teese says, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” You’re never going to have 100% positive reviews. You don’t love every book you read, do you? Even Harry Potter has some one-stars (I know, I’m as insulted and flabbergasted as you, but it’s true. 124 one-stars on Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s blasphemy, I tell you.)

Are poor reviews disappointing? Sure. But your goal, as a writer, is to produce the best work you can and keep chugging along. The only person who can stop you, is YOU. Not your momma, not your day job, and certainly not a handful of 2-star reviews. Five stars might lift us up, but we all know it’s the 1 stars that slam us to the ground and leave us there, dazed and hurt for weeks. Why should we do that to ourselves?

It’s going to be difficult, I know. But I’m going to try very, very hard with future releases to cool it on the constant review refreshing. After all, I’ve got to get cracking on those other stories in my head. And so do you.