Posted in marketing

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 4

To start at the beginning with your marketing plan, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Keep reading for info on contacting media.

Contacting the Media

old microphoneRadio

  • Local stations are great to announce local events (call, email, FB). Most are very friendly to local authors and have regular community activities announcements they can include your event in.
  • College radio stations are often geared toward academic interests and many are happy to share about your literary events and may have a show about books or writing that might fit your skills.

Internet Radio

Blog Talk Radio is the biggest internet radio service currently and there are many writing/book related shows. Many are interested in author interviews/book news/writing advice.

Podcast LogoPodcasts

Look for ones geared toward author interviews, writing advice, marketing ideas, book news, etc. There are hundreds of writing.book related podcasts and many are looking for authors to participate on a regular basis.

YouTube

Post your own interview or release post about your book. Share an excerpt of your book by reading it yourself or recording your voice to play with images related to the book. Use actors or volunteers to act out a scene from your book. Share advice or tips, or even discuss an event you attended like a video blog.

Blogs

There are thousands of book blogs online. Research what genres each blog is interested in reviewing, what type of posts they are interested in sharing, and what their guidelines are for submitting requests. Cold submissions can work, but you will be more likely to have your book accepted if you’ve done your research and interacted with the blog to build a relationship. This isn’t always possible with every blog, but do make an effort to follow their guidelines and only submit to blog interested in your genre.

Local TV

Not every town has a local TV station (mine doesn’t) but many local stations look for local interest pieces to fill out their broadcasts. Check out your local TV stations website and look for a “Contact” page. Most have an email address or form for “News Tips” or “Story Ideas.” Send them a professional media kit containing formation about your book and/or event and why it might be of interest to their viewers.

Contacting the media sounds scary, but there are many media outlets that are eager for guests/stories. Be professional and polite and take a chance.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in marketing, social media

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 3

To get started on creating your marketing plan, check out Part 1 and Part 2 first. For specific release day ideas…keep reading!

Facebook Release Party

TGH FB PartyCreate an “Event” on FB, then add details of where/when, who’s participating, prizes, games, etc.

Invite Friends and Readers and encourage them to invite more people.

  • “Who invited you?” giveaway can be a great way to encourage more invites.

Invite other authors

  • Share the burden and fans: Invite authors to participate or “takeover” during the party with their own games/giveaways/etc.
  • More games and prizes means more fun.
  • Other authors bring in their fans to learn about your books and your fans learn about other authors as well.

Games

  • “Caption this!” – Find a funny or strange picture and ask for captions. All captions earn an entry and you can either pick the best as the winner or pick at random.
  • Book themed i.e. Bad Date Stories for my Date Shark series, or favorite myth for my Twin Souls series
  • “Like My Page,” “Signup for my newsletter,” “Follow me on…” are great ways to build followers and are an easy giveaway entry form
  • Costume Party (post pic of costume to enter giveway)
  • Task oriented games, i.e. go to my website and find all the pink letters and unscramble the word.

Prizes

  • Ebooks, signed books, bookmarks, postcards, swag, name a character, etc. Be creative and personalize as much as you can.

Teasers

  • Guests may have been invited by someone else and don’t know about your book. Interest them with teasers/excerpts in the form of images and/or quotes.

Time Limit

  • 2-3 hours is common. If you want to include more authors and cover more time zones, a longer All Day event can work well.
  • May want to leave games open 24 hours for international guests

Twitter Chat/Party

Tweet BirdCreate your own Hashtag #DelShereesReleaseParty

  • This is how people follow the discussion

Play Question and Picture based games

  • Replies enter them in giveaway

Retweet chain

  • RT enters giveaway. Use this to have a lot of people retweet information about your book.

Time Limit

  • 1-2 hours, close giveaways at the end so it easier to track entries.

For more information on contacting media, come back next week.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in books, marketing

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 2

To get started on your marketing plan, check out Part 1 HERE. Once you have your goals set, it’s time to start preparing.


Preparatory Marketing

Networking with Bloggers

Bloggers are authors’ friends. Not just the ones with thousands of followers. Sometimes the smaller bloggers will do more to promote your post and become an ally for future books. Don’t just spam every blogger you find. Build a relationship by checking out their blog, commenting, and interacting.

Types of posts to prepare for bloggers: Guest posts, interviews, excerpts, Q&A, Top Tens lists, writing advice, etc.

KEEP TRACK of which bloggers you work with for future releases.

Social Media

Facebook

Regular posting on 2-3 platforms.

Share teasers such as quotes, images, character bios, etc.

Share sneak peeks of content.

This helps you build a fan base and interest in the projects you’re working on.

Branding

Blond Business Woman

Establishing expertise through content, i.e. columns/articles/blogs, sharing useful information/articles, etc.

You want readers to know what they can learn/expect from you. Do you share writing advice, post about your own reading, talk about your hobbies, blog your thoughts on a variety of subjects, etc.


Pre-Release/Launch Marketing

Blog tours

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Need to be set up 2-6 months in advance. Bigger tour companies will require more time. It also gives more time to bloggers to read the book and review. Blog tours are for EXPOSURE, not sales, so reviews are really important during blog tours.

Book Trailers

Click for a book trailer sample
Click for a book trailer sample


Post release date in video or description to help promote the release date and/or pre-order status.

Don’t just use your blurb for the script. Create a script that fits your video/photos and gives a unique look at the book through this format. Some book trailers use text only, voiceover narration, or live action.

Resources for making book trailers include: Free Music Archive for music, Windows Movie Maker, Animoto, Stupeflix, etc. for video compilation.

Reviews

Open Blue Book

Reach out to bloggers, beta readers, friends, and other authors who are interested in your genre. If they are new to reviewing, explain the process and how easy it is to leave a review as well as how important reviews are to the success of a book.

DO NOT PAY FOR REVIEWS! It’s against most sites review policies and is considered unethical.

When dealing with Amazon, family and close friends are not allowed to review your book because they may have a financial interest in your success. Same goes for authors affiliated with the same publisher you are with, street team members, or anyone else Amazon deems may have too close of an interest.

Goodreads does not limit reviews from friends and family.

Reviews can’t be posted on amazon until the book is LIVE, but encourage posting on Goodreads pre-release. It’s easy to copy and paste later.

Pre-Orders

Dollar Sign

A discounted price is usually offered during the pre-release period. Make sure to add the links to your website/pre-order page.

2-4 weeks is a common time period for pre-orders but trends have recently been leaning toward longer periods.

The Benefit of pre-orders is that ALL pre-sales are tallied on release day = big boost in rankings.


Launch/Release Marketing

Email Blast

Newsletter

Mailing list! Start building your mailing list early. This is a captive audience of readers who are interested in your books. Targeted Marketing=Better Click-Throughs

Release Party

TGH FB Party

In-person &/or FB event, Twitter chat (specifics to come…) Gather your fans and readers in one place to celebrate the release. It’s great to get other authors involved for games/prizes.

Media Appearance/Interviews

Podcasts, blogs, radio, YouTube, etc. Explore local media outlets like radio and TV, but don’t be afraid to branch out and talk to online sources like internet radio shows, podcasts, bloggers, Google+ shows, etc. There are many book and writing related media outlets interested in talking to authors.

Incentives to Buy

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Freebie w/ purchase, email receipt for gift, etc. Be creative with your incentives. If you have another talent like music or drawing, pair them up for a bonus gift after purchase. These types of incentives are usually offered during the first week after release.

Add cover art to Social Media images to help announce the release and get people interested in the book.

Update your bio with release info/links so readers who are already following you will have the most current information about your books.

Putting your plan into action requires planning, but the time and effort can pay off with a great release.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in marketing

Creating a Marketing Plan: Part 1

Creating a marketing plan that’s doable is tough.

Where do you start?

Time

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How much time per day/week are you willing to put into marketing? Be realistic. If you only have an hour per week, build your plan around that. A lot can be accomplished in a small amount of time.

If you have more time, keeping a list or schedule can help you use it more efficiently. Using whatever amount of time you have in the most effective way is important.

Money

Dollar Sign

Set a firm budget for your marketing efforts and be realistic about what you can afford.

There are a lot of free marketing options, so don’t feel like you have to have a big budget. If you have a small budget, there are many author friendly marketing options that are as little as $5 and can have a good impact.

Effort

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (9 of 10)

What can you do on your own and what do you need help with? No one can do everything on their own, so admit what your strengths and weaknesses are and go from there. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help when you need. Authors are great about helping each other.


Now let’s take the next step…

Who is your audience?

Who do you want to target in your marketing efforts? You need to be as specific as possible so you can narrow down your marketing pool. Targeted marketing is more effective than blanket tactics.

What avenues do you most want to pursue?

Kozzi-American-Street-1183 X 1774

In-person, online, blogs/reviewers, social media, etc. What are you comfortable with and what types social interactions do you enjoy participating in?

If in-person events aren’t your style, focus on online marketing like Facebook parties, Twitter chats, etc. If you enjoy meeting readers face to face, school talks or bookstore book signings might be where you want to focus.

What is your goal?

HiRes

Aside from hitting the NYT bestseller list 😉 

Study your competition. What’s working for them? What’s not working? Look especially at creative ways other authors are marketing their books. Finding unique tactics will make your book stand out.

Marketing is tough, but making a plan that fits into your life, budget, and schedule will make it more manageable.

WPR Header ImageTo listen to the full podcast on Creating A Marketing Plan That’s Actually Doable, check out the Write. Publish. Repeat. Podcast Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in marketing

Marketing…part duex #bookmarketing

While scoping out pics for a blog post on marketing, this one totally fit the bill. Why? Because creating a marketing plan often feels like driving around on crazy looking roads like this. 

Learning how to market your books is a never ending battle. You find something that works once, then never works again. You have a random day of awesome sales you can’t credit to anything other than dumb luck. You research and put everything to use only to see no change. Like I said…it’s a battle. 

So, what have a learned since the last time I griped about marketing? 

Hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Caitlin Bauer of Royal Social Media is one of these people. She came highly recommended to me by other authors, and she’s totally held up her end of the bargain in training, graphics, ads, everything we’ve done together so far. She also breaks everything down at the end of the month of ads to explain what the heck happened. I can’t recommend her enough. 
Facebook groups posting does work. Now, that’s not to say it works as well as it once did before the almighty Facebook decided to screw around with how people see pages and groups. That’s a whole other rant, trust me. However, I have the ability to watch the direct sales on 13 of my 15 books, and I can attest to the fact that it affects my sales. For me, posting in 30-50 groups per day works best. For you, it might be different. 
Participating in other authors events is awesome…and fun! I’ve done quite a few Facebook page takeover and events over the last few months, and not only is is gratifying to help another author out, you get to meet new readers you might not have before. Games that work well are having them like and comment on your FB page to be entered into a raffle for a cool prize, “Caption This” games, name the characters who said…, guess the symbol (I use a lot of symbols in my books), and this probably won’t apply to every author but having people tell bad date stories in honor of my Date Shark books was a HUGE hit! Get creative, help another author, and have fun!
Consistent interaction with readers. Honestly, this has been the biggest eye opener for me. I’ve heard this said a zillion times, but only after Caitlin showed me how to put that advice to use did I begin to see what a difference it makes. Schedule posts/tweets/pins to post regularly so your readers always have new content. Follow a pattern or make it random, whatever works best for you. Use your analytics to see what times are best for posting. And don’t forget to ENGAGE with your readers when they do comment or like something. Talk back, start a conversation, make a lifelong friend. It makes a huge difference. 
Specifics:
I recently tried a few new promotional avenues and thought I’d share how they went. Book Tweeters was very effective and reasonably priced. I plan on using them for future release day events. HeadTalker and Thunderclap campaigns have worked well for other authors, but for me I didn’t see any increase in sales or traffic on the posting day, so I don’t think I’ll be using them again since they’re very time consuming to reach the goals. 

Marketing each book and genre is so individual, there is no one-size-fits-all plan, but doing your research and keeping track will help you build a plan that works for you.

Posted in cover design, editing, marketing, publishing, self publishing

Choosing a #Publishing Track

Choosing what to do with your book baby is a tough choice. You have so many more options that you once did, and choosing the right one for you can be an agonizing decision. 

This is a topic that has been coming up a lot lately in groups I belong to and with other author friends who are nearing the point in their career where they have to make that decision. So, I thought I’d share some of the pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing I’ve experienced and why I’ve gone the way I have.

Let’s break this down by the most common pre-publishing aspects like editing, cover design, formatting, and marketing, and what you’ll get with both traditional and self-publishing.

Editing

 Traditional

Most reputable publishers will provide editing at no cost to the author. If a publisher wants to charge you for editing, that’s a big red flag that you should take your book elsewhere. HOWEVER, finding a good editor is like finding the Holy Grail, and that applies to publishers and indie authors. I’ve worked with many editors and I can honestly say that only two have done a good enough job that I would work with them again. Don’t think that going with a publisher means you’ll get a perfectly edited book unless you sign with one of the Big 6. Smaller publishers can’t afford multiple edits of a book, so you should plan to do a very thorough read through and possibly even hire an outside editor if the quality of the publisher’s editor isn’t what you were hoping.

Self-pub

Editing is all up to you when you self-publish. Editing your own work is tough. It’s hard to catch all your mistakes. So, what are your options for a well-edited book? Hire an editor, of course, although, really good editors are extremely hard to find. Vet your editor well. Ask for samples of their work, references, and request a short sample edit of your work to test their skills. Many editors are willing to do this.

You can also work out a trade. However, don’t just assume that another author can edit as well. Trades can be great, but do your research first. There’s also the option to ask a friend. Know a good technical writer, English teacher, etc? See what they would charge you or work out a trade.

Formatting

Traditional

Formatting varies by publisher. Some will put a lot of time into making the formatting look nice and others will just do the basics. For ebooks, there’s not a lot you can do as far as fancy formatting goes. Print books are different, but formatting is one of the easier areas of publishing (in my opinion), so it’s usually not a huge concern with choosing a publisher. If you’d like to see the quality of their formatting, download samples of some of their books to check them out.

Self-Pub

Formatting can be learned by anyone willing to put a little time into it. There are great tutorials online, and most ebook publishers have guides for authors that spell out what you need to do. It may be a little time consuming at first, but it gets easier the more you do it. All of your formatting can be done in Microsoft Word, but if you’re interested in trying some fancier paperback formatting, InDesign can do some really neat things.

Cover Design

Traditional

Cover design is hugely important no matter how you publish your book. Most publishers are willing to pony up for a good cover designer because they understand this very well. Even still, having a publisher does not a gaurantee that you’ll end up with an awesome cover, but most do a pretty good job. When shopping around, check out their previous covers, and ask about whether or not they’re willing to let authors have any say in the cover design. If you’re with a big publisher, chances are you will get zero input, but some of the smaller publishers are willing to listen to author input.

Self-Pub

Cover design is one of my favorite things to do, but I do have a background in art and graphic design. For those who are not artistic or aren’t familiar with GIMP or Photoshop, cover design will be a challenge in self-publishing. Createspace and now even Kindle KDP have cover creating software to help you put together a nicely formatted cover.

You’ll still need good pictures or stock photography, though. Fortunately, there are plenty of sites out their to find great stock art fvor reasonable prices. My personal favorites are Dollar Photo Club, Shutterstock, and iStock. If you know a photographer, you can get original photos as well. Just make sure to give credit to the photographer.

And if you’re not comfortable putting together a cover, there are some amazing designers out there who work for very reasonable prices, like Tirzah Goodwin. Having a great cover is extremely important, but self-publishing doesn’t mean you can’t have that.

Marketing

Traditional

Marketing. This is probably the area that most new authors will struggle with, and what will push them toward a traditional publisher, but authors need to have realistic expectations about marketing. Most publishers, small or Big 6, have a limited budget for marketing, especially if you’re not a top seller. Big 6 publishers will only put their money behind books they KNOW are going to sell tons of books. Newbies won’t get much help and will be expected to pull most of the marketing weight. A lot of small publishers (though certainly not all) will put more effort into helping authors market because they need the sales too, but they have very small budgets and most of the work will fall to the author.

Sel-Pub

Obviously, all the work of marketing is on the author in self-publishing, but you also get the full benefit of your efforts by not giving up royalties. Marketing is hard, no matter what publishing path you take. When you self-publish, you have control over how your book is marketed, how much free or paid advertising is done, and what audience you’re targeting. With self-publishing, you also have direct access to your sales numbers, so it’s a little easier to monitor how effective your marketing efforts are by watching changes in sales numbers. There’s a big learning curve to marketing if it’s new for you, but there are many articles and books available to help you figure it out, and other authors are a great resource and source of marketing help as well.

What does it all boil down to? 

For me, I’ve been doing this long enough and put out enough books, that I’m comfortable finding editors, doing my own formatting and cover design, and coming up with my own marketing plan. I have worked with four different publishers since I began publishing. Some have worked out, some haven’t. I currently still have my contemporary romances with a publisher, because that’s a new market for me and I felt the exchange of roaylties for their knowledge of the romance genre was worth it. For my YA books, that trade wasn’t worth it for me and now I have all my YA books published independently.

I also like having control over my covers, formatting, editing, and how my books are marketed. I put a lot of time into learning more about the publishing industry and increasing my skills in design and marketing. Self-publishing takes a lot of work, but I enjoy doing it, and it’s a good fit for me and my books.

Choosing a publishing path is a completely individual choice. What each author is comfortable with doing on their own will play a huge part. Break it down and see what you’re willing to do on your own and what you need help with, then decide whether or not that help is worth giving up the percent of royalties the publisher is asking for. Don’t jump into either option without knowing what you’re getting yourself into.

What aspects of publishing intimidate you most? 

Posted in marketing

We are visual creatures…and so is Social Media!

People who know me know how much I struggle with marketing, but it’s a necessary part of being an author, so I’ve been learning more about it. One aspect I’ve come to realize is how import is the visual aspect of marketing is. Take the picture to the side. It grabs your attention more than the title alone, right? 

Now, I’m not talking about book covers. We all know how important having a professional, eye-catching book cover is. Let’s take that concept and apply it to our marketing efforts. 

Pintrest/Blogs

Many of us are addicted to Pintrest. 70 Million of us, in fact. Pintrest is a digital scrapbook/pin board where you can store your favorite websites. It’s come to replace my bookmarks in my browser because it’s easier to organize and navigate. 
What to consider when marketing
Put pictures in your blog posts! If your blog post doesn’t have pictures, readers can’t pin it to their boards
Don’t use your book cover as your only graphic. Spice it up. You should be pinning your posts and book promotions onto your Pintrest boards as well. If it’s just your book cover over and over again, it’s tough to differentiate the links, and it’s boring. 
Vertical Images are best on Pintrest. The boards are arranged in vertical rows, so your pins will display better if there made to fit the layout. 

Twitter

Twitter now allows you to post pictures along with your tweets. You can’t schedule a picture post, however, so make sure you’re popping in every once in a while to post your pictures, and not just relying on scheduled posts through TweetDeck or Hootesuite. 
What to consider when marketing
Twitter recently changed the homepage layout, making it more important that pictures posted post on Twitter are rectangular. They should be about a 2:4 ratio with the long side being the the horizontal side. 
Tweets with pictures get significantly more retweets and clickthroughs. I’ve seen a range of percentages reported from 3x to 10x. Either way, it pays to use pictures on Twitter. 

Facebook

Posting pictures on Facebook is nothing new, but it is a newer feature that you can post pictures in comments. Use that to your advantage if someone asks for book suggestions, etc. 
What to consider when marketing
Remember, posts that include a picture get more “Likes,” “Shares,” and clickthroughs. Formatting pictures for Facebook is similar to Twitter. They should be rectangular in shape so the preview doesn’t get distorted. Readers may miss something important!
Now, if you’re like me and devote some time to posting promotional links for your books on Facebook groups meant for that purpose, don’t just post the link and let it show a preview of your book cover. If you let Facebook choose your preview, the models on your cover might get their heads chopped off, like what happens when I post a link for Date Shark. Control what readers see by creating an image to share that contains all the pertinent info for your promo in the right format. 

Instagram

I don’t use Instagram…yet. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually. What I do know is that it only posts square images
What to consider when marketing
This one’s pretty simple. Make some square images that contain info about your book/promo. 

What if I’m not artistic?

For those authors who aren’t particularly artistic, and don’t have artistic friends or funds to have them created, have no fear! There are some great, easy to use sites like Canva.com and Picmonkey
Canva even has templates ready-made for all the different social media sites, which is pretty awesome! 
Picmonkey also has lots of stock photos you can incorporate into your designs. 
If you are artistic, but don’t want to shell out money for Photoshop, download a copy of GIMP. It’s free and can do pretty much whatever a graphic artist needs.