UPDATE: Here is a recording of the video originally streamed in the Shortcuts for Writers Facebook group.
ORIGINAL POST – Are you an author who could use some book marketing strategies? Join award-winning author, podcaster, and Story Coach Liesel K. Hill as she visits the Shortcuts For Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group in February to present the workshop: Marketing At Every Stage of the Author Journey: What to Put Into Your Story to Set Yourself Up for Easy Marketing Later.
Liesel will discuss:
Pre-Marketing: What you should be doing while writing your book. Marketing techniques for when you have only 1 or 2 novels completed. Techniques for when you have a few more books completed. Marketing techniques to explore when your backlist is 10+ books.
The event will be held in the Shortcuts for Writers: Editing Made Simple Facebook group on Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. EST. New members are welcome.
Liesel K Hill is a novelist who writes across three genres including scifi and fantasy. She loved to read and write at a young age, and her earliest memories consist of her father sitting in the doorway of her room at night, relating stories of Frodo, Gandalf, and the One Ring. Her mother also read to her every afternoon as a child, sometimes for several hours a day. Today she is an award-winning author and a Story Clarity Coach. Writers can choose from her Story Clarity Coaching, Word Coaching, or Marketing Mentorship programs, ranging from her popular Power Hour Session to advanced Author Career Coaching.
Today I wanted to highlight an innovative book marketing site called StoryOrigin, a marketing tool and community of authors that work together to build their mailing lists, increase sales, find reviewers, and stay on top of deadlines. Recently I included StoryOrigin in my blog post: 5 Recommended Resources for Authors During the Pandemic.
Those of you who follow me closely know that my goal is to make editing simple and more affordable for authors, and I do that though my online course Book Editing Blueprint: A Step-By-Step Plan to Making Your Novels Publishable, my Facebook group, YouTube channel, and blog. StoryOrigin is doing something similar for book marketing, trying to break down a big, annoying task (book promotion) into more manageable components while also making it affordable.
You can read my review of the site in the above article, but here I wanted to delve into how this useful community came about and find out more about Evan Gow, the indie developer of StoryOrigin. Below is my interview with Evan. If you’re an active user on StoryOrigin, I’ll bet you find this behind the scenes look quite interesting. And if you haven’t checked out this book marketing site yet, keep reading!
When did you start StoryOrigin?
StoryOrigin launched publicly in April 2018.
How did you get the idea to create it? Are you a writer yourself?
I used to write short stories back in high school, then participated in a tech entrepreneurship program in college, which sparked my desire to build a company. After working for a few years, I decided it was the right time to make the leap and combine my interests in writing and programming. I talked with a few authors about what tools they were using and realized just how much of a pain it was.
Before StoryOrigin, you’d have to use one site for finding reviewers, another one for building your mailing list, spend a few hours on Facebook looking for newsletter swaps, and the list goes on. So, I decided to simplify things and build a one-stop-shop, so authors could save time and manage everything from a single platform.
Why did you decide to make it free? How long do you anticipate it being free?
For the beta period, I wanted to be able to focus solely on building best-in-class features. I also knew that the feature set was going to expand immensely from when it was initially launched, and it wouldn’t have made sense to decide on a specific pricing model at the point.
StoryOrigin likely won’t be free for much longer, but the guarantee I make (and I state this publicly on the front page of StoryOrigin) is that if you join during the beta period, you will continue to get everything completely free for a period of months even after it becomes paid. The continuing free period is also there, so if you don’t like the pricing model, you can migrate to a different set of tools before you start paying. My goal with pricing is to make it affordable for authors at all stages though.
What are your goals with StoryOrigin for the future?
My goals are to continue helping authors grow their audiences and their businesses. My to-do list always seems to be getting longer with lots more to incorporate into StoryOrigin, but I also like to play it close to the vest. 😉
About how many authors have registered for the site?
8,000+ authors have signed up to StoryOrigin and it’s continuing to grow rapidly.
How has the site evolved over the past several months?
When StoryOrigin launched, it had minimal functionality. All you could do was create a reader magnet landing page and integrate it with your email service provider, so emails would automatically be added to your mailing list. Since then, I added quite a few features including:
Universal book links
Audiobook promo code distribution
A content planning calendar
My general method is to work out the main components of a major feature, release it, then iterate and improve upon it with feedback from authors, so it becomes a best-in-class feature.
The latest feature I released was a goal tracker, which you can use to track your word count and calculate daily targets to hit deadlines and stay motivated. There actually wasn’t anyone asking me for this feature, but I got a huge amount of love when I released it, because it meant one less spreadsheet to keep track of for a lot of authors. They could spend less time on managing their business and more time on writing.
Has anything been surprising to you during this journey? Is it growing the way you imagined, or has it gone in unexpected directions?
If you write a bad book, all of the advertising in the world can’t save you. Unfortunately, a great book with no advertising won’t get you anywhere either.
Oftentimes, what sets apart bestsellers isn’t necessarily the strength of their writing. It’s the strength of their marketing. A good book is a checkbox you have to mark in order to be successful, but it’s the marketing that will drive your success. Many authors simply aren’t willing to engage in that part of the business though. That’s why I’m trying to make it easier.
What are some creative and/or successful ways that authors have used the site?
StoryOrigin provides the underlying infrastructure to help you manage your review team, build your mailing list, and send readers to your purchasing page. However, it’s the group promos and newsletter swaps you can find on StoryOrigin that can multiply your reach to thousands of readers.
What are the benefits of group promotions and newsletter swaps?
The main benefit of group promotions and newsletter swaps is that they can massively expand your audience and can be used to find reviewers, build your mailing list, or increase sales. There are lots of ways you can expand your reach though, so why are newsletter swaps and group promotions are rising in popularity? Because they’re:
Free to set up
Easy to arrange
Targeted with other authors in your genre
Do you have any suggestions for authors interested in using the site to build reviews?
StoryOrigin can be used to build reviews for both your audiobooks and ebooks. When you set up a review copy landing page on StoryOrigin, any reader can apply for a review copy and mark where they will leave a review (e.g., Amazon) along with the link to their reviewer profile on that site, so you can see what other books they’ve reviewed.
StoryOrigin also gives you their reviewer stats—the percentage of review copies they’ve received through StoryOrigin and have actually left reviews for. When you receive an application for a review copy of your ebook or audiobook on StoryOrigin, you should check the reader’s stats and reviewer profile to make sure they are someone you trust will leave a review and that they actually read books in your genre.