Talking to a friend this week, she mentioned that lace was coming back in the quilting world. She was off to get certified in a special type of product lace this week and it came up how trends come around. Thinking about this, I wondered if there were any old trends coming back in book marketing. Then I found this...
Simply amazing! LOL! But I also looked up other things too...
Here's my findings:
ACTION ITEM: Time to look at the past to see what works and what doesn't.
My greatest latest marketing ploy was something of a team effort!
You see, I'd been wrestling with one of my authors about a particular method she uses in writing that heightens curiosity but drives me nuts.
Of course if I were such a person that takes everything personally, I'd believe she did it on purpose to drive me out of my mind. In reality it's just her writing style...and it's 'fricking perfect for an idea I had because of this thing she does.
I can't begin to explain so I'm going to show you. I've included an exclusive passage from the book Hers to Claim as it is the passage that inspired my marketing ploy.
“Lord Ramsey, I would like you to go with Adonia.” Fleur glanced across the room to Ramsey DeKieran, and Adonia disguised a laugh with a cough when he abruptly straightened after a hard poke from his wife. While the rest of the party sat in the comfortable sofas and chairs around Ari’s office, DeKieran and his new wife had remained lounging, side-by-side, against the wall by the door. Adonia had caught the intense stares and occasional murmurs Ram and Steffania had exchanged throughout the past hour. From the blush that crept up Steffania’s cheeks when Ramsey fingered her exquisite choker of beaten gold, Adonia doubted that either had heard much of what had transpired in the last few minutes.
ADONIA ISN'T THE ONLY PERSON THAT'S WANTS TO KNOW WHAT DORAL SAID!
Am I the only one with the burning curiosity? No--apparently not! See for yourself:
Speaking of cameos and awesomeness - Patricia A. Knight included a feature I'd not seen before (but appreciated the wisdom of) a live-linked Easter egg embedded in the dialogue. Doral whispers something in Ari's ear... The reader clicks the link (and is asked to sign up for Patricia A. Knight's newsletter) and the page reveals the secret whispered.
Well, thank you! But it was something that came naturally. While I am the publisher, I'm a huge fan of Patricia A. Knight! I'm into these characters and think about them. I think about what they might be doing now *dirt thought* and want the best for them. I even wonder how their children might carry into the series.
You see sometimes the best marketing tactics come organically. When you think of marketing as a fun way to let people know about your product it's not icky. I wanted to know what Doral said and PAK gave her readers a way to find out!
ACTION ITEM: What imaginative thing can you do to make marketing fun?
More and more I see authors frustrated with their marketing efforts. I've had many claim they are "just bad marketers". It breaks my heart.
I too struggle with marketing--I struggle with what to do, how much to spend, how much time I can afford, how to measure the results and how to balance my time.
It is a balancing act, but I don't give up on it because I come back to my self proclaimed definition of marketing.
Marketing is never a noun to me because you are always practicing your marketing.
From here I'm going to give you some options. If you need:
1. A pick-me up: go HERE.
2. Inspiration: go HERE.
3. How to balance your time: see below.
4. What the hell to do: go HERE.
One of the complaints I see is: "I spend so much time on marketing that I don't get writing done."
I'm going to be harsh here so weak-minded please turn around and pick a link above.
Yes, you have no time for writing because YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
Yes, that needed a meme.
If you're complaining that you're not writing, spending all your time on Facebook, then why are you not making writing the first priority? Why are you not timing yourself, making word count goals and setting reasonable time limits? Why are you not doing something fun when marketing? By all means--go write.
Now I wrote about balancing your time and here's my secret. It's called--self control.
I have a stop watch on my phone set to 90 minutes and every time that sucker counts down to zero, I get up, walk around, get water, walk the dog, do yoga and go back for another 90 minutes.
It's so easy nobody does it. Except me. Because I'm all for easy. Easy is my middle name. Just ask my boyfriend. Wait...that sounded better in my...never you mind.
I think one of the real problems is writers don't think about writing as a priority. Yes, marketing is a priority. Talking to fans is a priority. You also have to think about how much time you can afford and also, you need to think about where your marketing efforts should be spent. Five hours on Facebook isn't necessarily marketing time. Retweeting on twitter isn't marketing--it's promotion. Which is a whole other post you can find HERE. (The difference between marketing and promotions)
ACTION ITEM: Really you should have it all. Promotions, writing, spending time with family. Cruise through my marketing and promotions lessons by using the Marketing and Monday Marketing and Promotion categories to get some ideas.
Having lunch with one of my authors, we discussed the importance of community. An author without a community might as well be a book never read.
Author's are connectors, idea makers, thought provokers, and sometimes the town weirdo. Author's are commonly successful through innovation and determination. But, we need an audience. We need feedback. We're writing this stuff down AND publishing it for heavens sake. If we didn't want your feedback, we would keep the stories locked in the basement.
Many authors don't realize they are the motor that drives community by their thoughts written down on paper (or a monitor). They draw community in by their ideas. So many authors are asking, I know community is how you gain readership, but how to you gain a community?
It's heart breaking.
And...I'm working on the very idea of how to build that community with an author cohort. But for now, I do it through a tweet team that promotes my freebies that you can only get by giving an email. If you like the community you find yourself in you stay--if you don't you leave. Simple. Yet it takes a little know-how to set up.
Here's a tweet I use:
Become an author's accountable police and get "But For You, Yes" #free #romance for joining SNMcKibben! http://ow.ly/wGSPo
I use hashtags and a URL shortener and I get at least 1 new person every time something like this goes out.
That URL link goes to my author website where you will see this:
Subscribers get sexy, informative emails that includes them in my writing process...join and get a free story!!
That will in turn take them to the Mailchimp double opt-in confirmation email. When you click the confirmation you go to a welcome email with the link for the book to download. Three days afterward, I send another email asking if you liked the book and if you could put in a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I provide links to both so it's easy one touch stuff.
I have a built a community by this means--but slowly. Slowly isn't a bad thing. You can be personable, you can grow in a way that doesn't have you scrambling. But it's also easy to forget to be involved in your community so set a schedule to talk to your readers. They may like once a week, once a month or maybe if you're lucky, they want to see every selfie you post on facebook. Go where your readers go, but have a source you can connect with them first.
This is the best advice I can give you on how to build your community. Perhaps later, I can give you something more. But without a doubt, know that you are the ring master. Others may be spinning their circles for you, but it's you that must get the ball rolling.
ACTION ITEM: Set up your email list procedure. Even if you have no book! If you have the time, do it.
One of my authors pointed this out to me and I have to agree with her:
Interview with a Master author, Jason Luke, did the MOST brilliant thing I’ve seen in a long time. For several weeks, he appeared on Facebook pages (groups) and wrote live scenes based on the suggestions of readers -- scenes that used characters from his book. At the end of the Facebook tour, he had 30 brand new scenes that he then posted, one at a time, thanking each group. THEN, he put them together into an e-book for readers waiting for him to write his sequel. How brilliant was THAT?
And before you think he had a following..."Interview with a Master" was his debut novel. Very interesting stuff!
ACTION ITEM: What creative ideas does this give you?
Okay I realize this is another post about the SPP (Self Publishing Podcast), but Johnny, Sean and Dave are innovative guys that you should really be paying attention to.
Take their kickstarter project - it's not about getting money to write another book, it's about getting as many people involved in the process of writing their book, thus involving the readers.
They know that involving the reader in the process creates true fans. Sometimes it's the way you present your book that gets attention.
They've inspired me to do something I wanted to do but was never able to have the time to do (but I'll make time now). Which is integrate my readers into my writing. Yes, I'm literally going to take readers off the street and make them into paper...eww...or maybe I'll just re-enact scenes of books with them (yay!)...bow-chick-a-bow-bow. No! I'm going to email them. (Hey! I heard that disappointed awwww....) reminds me of that Morrisey song ♫This will be the last time I sing...(YAY!) ♪No wait, I've changed my mind again...(awwww)♫
Yes on to emailing them, but I've got ideas. My readers are my accountable police. I report to them. And soon, they will be getting weekly progress reports or monthly--I have to decide.
But back to innovation. The main point is to surround yourself with people who like your stories and love what you do. You create a community and through that community you have an obligation to them. To make their lives better. I think that is one of the goals of writers--to make lives better. What better way than to use innovative concepts such the likes of what these guys are doing!
ACTION ITEM: Watch the video below to see what kind of inspiration the SPP guys give you! If you'd like to help fund their project (starting at $1) and would like your name in a book, here's the link:
Sean Platt of SPP (Self-Publishing Podcast) expressed his disappointment about how the market under-serves writers. But it wasn't marketers that he was disappointed in--it was writers...here's why:
When you try to look for things for writers for marketing, there is nothing there. But it's not because developers are behind the times, it's because writers themselves don't spend money on marketing. Marketers know this so they don't bother creating the tools that would help writers market themselves. In my own attempts to sell books, I've often turned to marketing tools from different types of businesses and apply them to my own business as a writer and publisher. Some work, some don't.
Writers spend so much time writing, honing their craft, that marketing is thought of that necessary evil. What writers forget is that marketing is fun. They forget marketing can extend their creative muscles and bring their book more to life in the real world. They forget that without marketing they don't sell books. Without marketing, they can't live the dream of being a full time writer. A large majority of writers think marketing is bad, it's disgraceful, it's desperate, it's evil.
These writer's forget what marketing really is. Marketing is the ASK. You do not receive without asking. It feels like begging. It's not easy to ask, asking makes you vulnerable. But, if you feel like your words, work and effort are worth nothing, you will get nothing. But if you ask for an exchange, you receive.
Artists are connectors, thinkers and create bonds in the community. How can you think that is worthless? Why is this less important than financial bankers? Why do you have no trust in your readers? Are you thinking no one will come? Have you tried being the communicator, the connector the bond-builder of your community? And if no one comes, while disappointing, might be a clue as to what you need to work on.
Does asking=weakness? I also like to put it this way. If you have a friend that wants to pay for your latte, do you refuse? Look at why you reject your friends generosity. Does it make you feel like a beggar? Do you feel guilty? Do you feel now you have to owe that person?
What about taking a look on the other side. You've just refused your friend the warm fuzzy feeling they get when they help or gift a present to someone. You've just rejected them and their desire to feel good about having the capability to lift you up with a simple gesture. In fact, turning down a gift like that damages their trust because you've just told them I don't trust you enough to be vulnerable.
But, Stephanie, giving a gift from a friend is not the same as asking.
You'd be wrong. It's the same vulnerability. Actually you're more vulnerable because you asked. What if they say no! Some might. Others will give and feel the double fold of being able to help you while receiving a book or CD or a gift from you. People say the things we make are the best gifts. Well, fuck, you wrote the goddam book with your own fucking hands, what more of a hand-made gift do you need??
I'm going to redirect this conversation to Amanda Palmer's TED talk about the ART of ASKING. Because asking is an art form. Asking is not demanding. It's not begging. It's accepting "no" as an answer but also, it's accepting "yes" as an answer as well.
ACTION ITEM: Watch the 13 minute TED talk and you tell me what the ask is all about.
People talk about pricing for their books as if authors are set and ready with the largest following ever right out of the starting gate.
I cringe when people fling out numbers and data, listening to huge authors blogs and they forget--pricing is a strategy. Take the data and apply what you know. The new free is 99¢ - people don't think about a $2.99 book if they love the author, some readers will never know your books because they won't invest $9.99 in a book. Let's break down pricing in terms of this readers perception so we can go on to strategy. If prices could talk, this is what they would say:
99¢ = I'm a new author (or new to you) and I'd like for you to try my book!
$1.99 = Ignore me, I'm behind the times.
$2.99 = I'm an author you like (or an author everyone in your goodreads group raves about) and you trust me to bring you a good story!
$3.99 = Your a fan and bought the first and second of my series and want more!
$4.99 = Your a HUGE fan and I'm worth it!!
$5.99 = Is this a compilation? Oh wait, no...your my awesomemost favorite author and I just got paid!
$6.99 - $8.99 = The price you wish to pay for any Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Patricia Briggs book.
$9.99 = I am Stephen King.
Yes, I'm exaggerating. It's suppose to be funny. Also, everyone has their own standard of pricing as well. A $2.99 book for some could be the same as the 99¢ "new to me author" price.
However, if prices could talk, it might be obvious which price point to take...the answer is...ALL OF THEM. Have your 99¢ stories to get people to read you, have a $2.99 book to follow that up.
Walk up the price and see how that works for you because you have to know who your audience is. You can also try your new releases at $3.99 or $4.99 if you have a strong following. Make a new release either 99¢ to reward your followers, or maybe gain new ones - or make the new release $4.99 and back it down after a month.
What I would do for a NEW author:
☼ 99¢ two week promotion for true fans/fans who have followed since the first time you blogged about it! Blast that promo!
☼ Raise the price to $2.99 after three weeks because the bitchers will complain about not getting the promo even though you say 2 weeks--so after 3 weeks everybody is happy.
☼ Write another book and churn that puppy out in a month - or as soon as you can.
Here is the thinking behind the madness:
Debut author's really need to gain an audience. They need to collect emails and get those people knowing the authors name. If you're floating on their kindle, they'll probably remember you for 2 - 3 months. Make sure you put out another book in the next month to keep your name in the eyes of kindle holders everywhere. Once you have six books out there you are what I would call an established author.
What I would do for an ESTABLISHED author:
☼ Pre-order special of 99¢ - $2.99 for one week.
☼ Once the book goes live up the price to $3.99 - $4.99
☼ After 1 - 6 months or after another release, lower that price to $2.99
Here is the thinking behind the madness:
Established authors will blog, tweet and send their fans an email telling about the pre-order special, giving them a boost on release day. Also, say in the description of the book this is a low price for fans available for one week! After a week, raise the price for people cruising around the "also bought", top 100 lists and deals to $3.99 or above. After you release your next book, lower the price of this one to $2.99. There is something psychological about the "new thing" being higher priced but after a while you want your back list to be available to readers who never heard of you before. They will see you have a long catalog and that switch of "oh, this authors is prolific--they must be good..." will go off and the $2.99 (or up) price is justified because you've been around. If you've been around, you must know your stuff :)
ACTION ITEM: Review your pricing strategy and act accordingly.
Call it a Marketing Plan and I think of outlining. I hate outlining. I only have fun with titles, bullet points and summaries when I'm planning a book. No, when I see the word Marketing plan I think in the lines of promoting a book. But that's not what a Marketing Plan really is.
I've explained the difference between a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Strategy before and today is a continuation of that.
If I tell myself I have a Marketing Strategy, and a Promotions Plan, then things fall into place for me. Years went by before I realized strategy and plans were not the same. A marketing plan are things you do. A marketing strategy is how you think--your motto or tag line for why you are writing. You need a marketing strategy even more so than a plan because a strategy is the long tail. Plans to promote your books are suppose to change.
But that one goal, one one ring, is your strategy. Strategy is not the means to an end it is your life's work. Or said simply strategy is not HOW you sell books, but WHY. Strategy's are a tag line like:
1. Write. Publish. Repeat.
2. Give readers what they want to read.
3. Every story from the soul.
Without a strategy your promotions turn into hydra--for every promotion you do another two confuse you. Kinna like choosing promotions and changing your price to 99¢ (FOR NO REASON). Bringing the price down is good--WHEN YOU KNOW WHY--and not the "I guess I have to bring down my price for this promotion".
So how do you find your Marketing Strategy? I'm not going to tell anyone how to go about their life and telling you how to find a Marketing Strategy is exactly that. But I can tell you mine and how I got there. See the tag lines above? Mine is #1.
I came to the conclusion that my Marketing Strategy should be Write. Publish. Repeat. after reading everything I could in the 5 years of studying book marketing. My stories were not good enough to publish, back then. I needed to put in my 10,000 hours. After those 10,000 hours I'd have to put in another 10,000 hours TO BE GOOD AT IT. I was not so confident that my first 10,000 would make me "an expert". I believed it would give me a comfortable knowledge of what I needed to study. After my first 10,000 hours I realized--I'll never stop studying. Therefore, write, publish, repeat.
Once I had my Marketing Strategy in place I went for the Promotions Plan. I like short sentences when it come to the promotions plan so mine is simple.
1. Publish book
2. Get reviews for book
3. Find free promotions for exposure to book.
4. Purchase promotions for exposure to book.
That's what I do. This promotions plan gives me the creative license details of what I want to do for my book. From here I could spider out all the things I wanted to do in the way of creative promotions. However, this four step plan helps keep me focused and thorough.
Another key factor is time line and due dates. How long do you want to promote this book before the next one comes out? I could say I could do the same kind of promotion for each book, but I've learned each book has different outcomes. Succes relys on your fans and how well received your book becomes.
For promotions I blog about the ones I've used or found every Tuesday. I call it Tuesday Tools--because promotions are simply tools, not a strategy. There are no wrong stratgies. That is the constant--the thing that should remain consistent. Change your strategy and you start from scratch. Which could be a reason why sales are down if you heavily promote. Find your strategy, find your reason for writing, and you gain your promotions plan.
ACTION ITEM: Find your strategy. Find your promotions plan.
I've been attending The traffic Superhero webinars hosted by Marisa and Murray and I've listened to Jo Barnes, Adam Urbanski, Don Crowther and Alicia Lyttle.
For 2 weeks the Traffic Superhero conference brought in high-powered, impressive entrepreneurs to a free forum in which they can give you some tips and hock their wares. The only one I felt intriqued by was Alicia Lyttle's Daily Deal site 'Traffic Siphon Secrets' where...you can probably guess...we use daily deal sites to gain interest in your product.
My first question was, "Do you work with ebooks and digital products?"
Yes, Alicia Lyttle has.
However, I'm going to spare you the 2 hour presentation (for each webinar and presenter) and give you the main focus on what each stressed as the most important thing about marketing. After 8 hours of taking notes and being pitched $197 deals, the results are in!
The most important thing to connect with your customer/reader is to:
1. Get their email.
2. Get their email.
3. Get their email.
Yep. Every presenter funneled everything into a "get their email" strategy and, they themselves, had a way of getting everyone's email in exchange for a prize or offer.
The one thing that I realized is that it's time to stop learning about marketing and set in to find my way of what works for me. I do have ways to funnel people into a list. I believe I can work on directing people to it now.
The traffic superhero summit also helped me find a new promotional idea to try. Which is--Alicia Lyttle's 'Daily Deal Sites'.
ACTION ITEM: If you don't have a way to get emails, like a link inside your book to something like MailChimp, Aweber or other...plan to set one up and make scheduled emails to your readers.
My efforts are to make this a learning blog where writers can see the flip side of publishing. If you have comments that will improve your experience or have a certain topic you'd like discussed, please contact me through email - HERE.
~ Sincerley, Your Editor
Troll River Publications
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