3 WAYS TO GO DOWN THE AUTHOR MARKETING RABBIT HOLE

rabbit hole

I’ve always found that the easiest way to talk about marketing with authors is to take the whimsical approach. It helps to show the creative side of this so-called monster, and makes the author comfortable with this challenging and sometimes overwhelming task. Like learning to cook or sew, it all starts with exploration. We learn how to use a knife, how to choose fabrics, and how to create something delicious or beautiful. It’s how we learned to write. A story seed drops into the mind and the creative juices take over. Marketing is no different. Every new and exciting thing we try requires taking a leap of faith. Learning how to  ride a bike, how to run a marathon, how to knit or raise children are all pretty much the same. Learning new things, the rules that govern those activities or results, and exploring ways to be the best at it is just part of human nature.

Unfortunately, most authors look at marketing as a foreign concept designed to interrupt or corrupt the creative writing mind. Not so at all. Great marketing is a creative process, just like great writing. It generates excitement in the creator as well as those viewing the marketing efforts. It connects prospective readers to your book and all the wonderfulness you put into it. The only difference between writing a great book and marketing a great book is that to write it, the author had no fear of leaping willingly down the rabbit hole.

Now, it’s time to consider taking that leap again … this time to create great, powerful, and super creative marketing to help get more sales for your book.

Here are 3 ways you can take that leap down the Author Marketing Rabbit Hole to find solutions you might have thought were too difficult to locate or implement. In that rabbit hole are all the answers! Be brave and jump right on in with me!

Alice 1ALICE IN WONDERLAND – Willingly take the Courageous Plunge

Alice might have been bored, she might have been curious, or she might have even been rebellious; all three qualities work great for an author afraid of marketing. Like Alice, you need to follow an idea all the way down the rabbit hole before you can actually see how it can work for you and your book.

Being brave is not new to authors. You had the courage to write your idea on paper and watch it go out into the world. The rules of marketing involved locating the right audiences for your book, creating a bond with those prospective book buyers, and allowing those buyers to make the purchase. None of this is familiar to authors, but those things are techniques easily learned.

For now, take that brave soul that helped you write your book and jump! Take the leap and let ideas flow and clatter, crash and burn, meld and explode. Do this for fifteen or twenty minutes every few days. Sit quietly and slip down the rabbit hole. Imagine yourself as the customer and think about what touches you, connects with you, compels you to make a purchase of anything…not just a book. Explore the creative and not so creative marketing approaches you’ve seen for everything from cleaning products and car advertisements, to commercials for burial plots and coffee creamer. Let these thoughts come and go. Don’t be analytical, just feel. What emotion made you want to buy a product or hire a service? Which promotions entertained you? Which movie trailers made you want to run and buy a ticket, and which commercials or billboards made you smile, but gave you no desire to react to the offer. Marketing is going on all around you. Let it all play in your quiet space for a few quiet moments, then simply let it go.

This is the true essence of dropping down the rabbit hole. Because you let the concepts and ideas simply flow across your brain, subconsciously your brain snagged a few that will stick with you. Because you didn’t think hard and worry or put the concepts under a microscope, the process has a chance to become second nature. You’ve just introduced your mind to the creative marketing process by allowing it to observe what made you feel and what entertained. This is the truth of marketing.

By willingly slipping down this rabbit hole, you will discover that marketing is a) less scary than you thought, b) far more creative that you imagined, and c) needs an emotional connection to work. Bravo. After just a few rabbit hole sessions, you will have learned far more about marketing that you would have by reading a hundred books or listening to a thousand other authors. You’ll also discover that you no longer need to sit quietly to do this, it will become a constant little wheel turning in your mind all the time.

queen 2QUEEN OF HEARTS – Use Strategy

This approach to the rabbit hole is very different. The queen sits at the bottom of the hole and waits to see what will drop into her queendom. Before it even arrives, she’s got a plan.

Are you a planner? Does blindly following Alice down the rabbit hole terrify you? Are you the kind of person who packs for a vacation weeks ahead of time, repacks various items, and watches the weather at your vacation destination like a hawk? The Queen of Hearts doesn’t like surprises, so she has a plan for everything, even a wayward author falling into her grasp.

If you want to use strategy for marketing, you have to first of all acknowledge that the marketing rabbit hole exists. It’s the hallway to success and you will need to take that path. Instead of jumping in and letting ideas flow, you may want to plan for what may come up. For example, if you are specifically seeking a way to approach a particular audience—lovers of motor cycles because that is a primary unique hook within your story—introduce that into your mind before you start your quiet slide down the rabbit hole. You’ll be amazed how many concepts will slip and slither past your thoughts and how many directions to that audience become clearly visible during a quiet marketing rabbit hole session. It’s all about guiding your subconscious toward your goal. Like Alice, you’ll get better and better at seeing the solutions as you familiarize yourself with this process. A strong strategy will point your mind in the right direction.

hatter 1MAD HATTER – Learn the Lay of the Land

Here’s one crazy dude, but the Mad Hatter is a perfect tour guide for the marketing world at the bottom of the rabbit hole. He’ll show the right and wrong paths to take—he just might not always guide you correctly. Mad Hatter is all about making mistakes and laughing about it as you turn around and try another direction. He’s all about making it okay to fail, and making success all the sweeter because of the journey.

I clearly understand that many authors want to know the lay of the land before they proceed. These are the serious researchers, the detail people, and the authors who make a strong book business plan before moving ahead with a project. Learning the lay of the marketing world isn’t hard, but it is a convoluted path that can, like Mad Hatter, easily lead you down a hundred wrong roads before you locate the right one. Here’s the trick—every path is right, but only for the right author. What works for one authors and sells thousands of books, may crash and burn for another author.

Marketing for a book is as personalized as the author’s taste in Indian food. It all varies. Learning the lay of the land could mean reading hundreds of books on marketing, taking workshops and classes, and asking every marketing professional who’ll listen and answer your questions. One technique could be a gold mine for one book, but not work at all for the next book. Twitter alone might be a boon for one genre and author but for another, three different networks working in harmony may be required. Understanding what works best for you and your book requires taking everything learned from the resource you use…then taking the leap down the rabbit hole for creative ideas. Everything you learned from your resources will help strategize the creative solutions you discover on your journey. You already have an idea of the terrain, so when a wonderful, creative marketing concept emerges for your book, you can apply everything you know to create the sales you want.

Just remember, the Mad Hatter loves to laugh, so laugh with him when something doesn’t work. Be ready to create your own hybrid of marketing techniques that will work for your book. Oh, and have fun!

white rabbit 2So there you have it. 3 Ways to go down the author marketing rabbit hole. Which way will you take the plunge?

 

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MARKETING ME! TEN TIPS FOR MARKETING THE AUTHOR … THE PRODUCT BEHIND THE PRODUCT

Golden Olden Days 1Back in the golden olden days, big publishers handled authors like movie stars, and dealt with their publicity and marketing with savvy and boatloads of cash. Authors never had to worry about where to go or what to say to get news about their book out to the public. It was all done for them. Publicists and promotional teams provided itineraries and scripts for their authors.

We no longer have this kind of guidance, and few have the funds to hire publicists and promotional experts. These days, authors are responsible for taking ownership of their own marketing, whether they’ve self-published, contracted with a small or mid-sized publisher, or signed with one of the big boys. It’s just the way of the world.

Confused 1When I talk with authors all over the country, I hear the same question. Am I marketing myself, or am I marketing my book?  The implications of this question vary depending on the author. Some feel a need to be secretive and unapproachable, while others believe that their book is the only thing worth talking about. Still others feel they have the responsibility to share their opinions (well thought out or not) at every turn. Opinions are good and often valid, but does this action serve you and your career?

Let’s make this simple.

Yes, you MUST market yourself … and you must market yourself in the best way possible in order to build a successful career as an author. There are ten basic rules to always remember, and they stem from those simple lessons we learned in nursery school.

Be seen 1BE SEEN – Be sure your website and blog is polished and updated regularly. Be visible for a few minutes every day on your social networks like twitter and Facebook. Notice I said a few minutes, not hours. Make it fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the afternoon and that will be enough. Talk about your book’s unique story hooks and connect with your prospective book buyers and fans. Don’t hide, be seen.

Be availableBE AVAILABLE – Participate when your writing group needs you. Get involved with groups and organizations – live and online – that connect with the interesting things inside your book. Be available to speak or sign books when asked by the local gardeners club, or the neighborhood women’s club as well as the book clubs and traditional genre fan clubs. When the local gardeners club, or any group that connects with the unique hooks inside your book, is running a charity event, volunteer to help. Be available.

 

Be Caareful BE CAREFUL – Remember, enthusiasm is great and your opinion is valid, but don’t overstep your boundaries. Protect your work by keeping your little secrets, but be careful to keep another author’s little secrets too. Think before your speak, tweet, Facebook, or email.

 

Be PoliteBE POLITE – Always and everywhere, be polite and appropriate. Just because people on twitter have never met you, doesn’t mean they won’t remember if you’re impolite or unkind … or that they won’t pass the word. Being polite always pays off in the long run.

 

Be Better than Good 2BE BETTER THAN GOOD – As an author, as a marketing person, and as a human being, it’s best to know your weaknesses and seek improvement. Setting your ego aside and striving for improvement with your craft and your image, is often the catalyst for gaining great respect in any industry.

 

Be ObservantBE OBSERVANT – Know what’s going on in your writing group or your unique story hook community. Know what’s happening in the publishing industry, which changes almost daily. Keep your ears tuned in to shifts in the market. If your fan base is shrinking or expanding, you’ll know how to market to that audience for your next book. Even if your last book was a great success, without being aware of market shifts, you could be caught with your hands deep in your own empty pockets with the next book. Always look ahead and read the market predictions for book pricing, genre interest, and industry standard shifts.  Be well informed. It’s a big part of marketing yourself as an intelligent author, as well as a great storyteller.

Be CuriousBE CURIOUS – Ask questions when you can. If you get an opportunity to speak with a successful author, a literary agent, or a publisher, use the time wisely. Ask intelligent questions, and then think the answers through carefully. This is how to guide your career to the places you want. Listen, learn, and always consider the sources. Are they bias? Are they really answering your question, or guiding your mind elsewhere? Is that online resource always reliable? You’re smarter that you think. You’ll learn what you need, and discard the unimportant information. Your common sense is a stellar tool.

Be Professional, 1BE PROFESSIONAL – Always be professional. Be careful what you say and do, people are watching. Take pride in being an author and all of your accomplishments. Hold your head high and do what the real professionals do … turn negatives into positives, and focus on your goals.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABE SUCCESSFUL – Be successful every step of the way along your career. Even failures teach you something important about getting where you want to go. Complaining and pointing fingers, even if the accusations are valid, doesn’t appear professional to those watching. Slice the negatives from your life and move ahead, knowing you’re doing the writing and marketing work required to meet your goals. It’s a no-brainer.

 

Be Helpful, 1BE HELPFUL – Pay it forward in a good way. So many teachers, writers, authors, editors, beta readers, organizations, fans, and friends have helped you get where you are. Reach back and give another writer a hand up. Give them a chance to shine.

 

That’s how to market yourself well! You’re the product behind the product. Keeping yourself as polished as your writing is the key to making sure that your marketing strategies never hit a snag in the road.

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Finding Author Success Second Edition available in print and ebook

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FREE Ten Tools for Author Success Handbook available for download at The Author Success Coach website.

 


AUTHORS ABOVE THE CROWD … STRATEGY

chess 2What’s your strategy for success? All authors have one, but often can’t actually explain it. Some writers join several author groups to learn what they can about marketing from their peers. You might be the kind of author who follows the pack. You probably don’t even realize you’re doing it, but every time you do a promotion or market your book, you’re doing it because another author did it, or your author friends are doing it. Other authors dig deep into their pockets to purchase solutions for selling books. It’s a strong direction for those who can afford it, but are they sure of the results? Could they be doing better?

To be heard above the crowd you have to step away from the crowd, and in this case, it’s the crowd of wonderful other authors. There is perceived safety in numbers and it’s lovely to have the support of other authors struggling through the same marketing trials and tribulations. You can all talk about failures and successes, but the problem is that you want to sell more books than they sell. So when it comes to seriously marketing, you have to look elsewhere.

There are good and effective ways to do this. First you must create your unique strategy. These are a few simple starting points to help you begin to make your mark, create bigger sales, and establish broader marketing exposure. Best of all, the exposure will be in places where other authors are not marketing. It will be totally unique to you and your book.

Your biggest strategy must be to be sure you know what you want, and who really wants to hear your message.

goals 2SET GOALS

What are your goals? Each person’s goals are different for a variety of reasons. Some authors are thrilled with giving away more books that anyone else. Some authors like exciting promotional blasts that bring big numbers to their blog stats or website visitor count. Others like the numbers with dollar signs in front of them so they watch their royalty reports. Some become obsessed with Amazon ranking numbers and the roller coaster of rising and falling emotions. Some like to write for a few loyal fans, while others want to create a million loyal fans. It really doesn’t matter what you feel is most important where your goals are concerned. If you meet those goals, you are successful. BUT, you must seriously take some time to set author career goals. With your goals in hand, it will be far easier to determine if your efforts are successful or not.

bookbuyer 1TALK TO BOOK BUYERS

I’m sure you have a wonderful number of friends on Facebook and followers on twitter, but who are they? Are they mostly other authors? Take a serious look at your social media followers. The best rule of thumb is 1 author to every 10 prospective book buyers or fans. That means that your first step is to start talking to book buyers. So, how do you find them?

The simplest way is to LOOK INSIDE YOUR BOOK. Right in your manuscript are probably a hundred clues for where your prospective book buyers can be located. This isn’t about focusing on genre lovers at all. Naturally you will make yourself visible to romance or mystery or fantasy or whatever genre lover relates to your book. This is about digging deeper and locating target prospective book buyers based on the unique hooks inside your story or nonfiction subject.

For example, does your romance take place in a seaside town? Is your mystery about a murder during a scuba diving adventure? Does your main character bake cookies, or drink coffee, or lift weights, or weed the garden to work through their issues? Does your vampire or werewolf or faery princess play an instrument or love black licorice or dance for a living? Is your historic fiction connected with the Victorian or medieval or 1050’s era? These are the magic unique elements that CONNECT with prospective book buyers. You need to make followers and friends with these people.

Simply search twitter and Facebook for groups or people connected with whatever your unique hook happens to be. Make friends and follow people who like your unique hooks. Find blogs about those subjects and follow them. Always use your twitter and Facebook links when communicating with these people and invite them to follow or friend you.

These efforts will quickly help you reach the correct 10:1 ratio of prospective book buyers to other authors. Then, when you market or promote or talk about your book, you’ll be talking to the right people.

Next time, we’ll talk the best ways to prepare for reaching out to these fantastic broad audiences. Connecting is the key, and the process is fun and far easier than you might think.

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ABOVE THE CROWD … 8 WAYS TO GET YOUR AUTHOR MARKETING VOICE HEARD

crowd 1How many writers are there in the world? How many recently signed literary agent or publishing contracts? How many are self-publishing? How quickly do books come onto the market now that e-readers have grown so unbelievably popular? And … how many new books actually launch every day?

The numbers are staggering! Some of these books are destined for greatness, written by best selling authors and backed by big publishing monsters. Others have fantastic sales potential, providing the author is ready, willing and able to shout loud enough to be heard over the din. Some books will soar to the top ten Free books on Amazon because the author understands the dynamics of the game. Others will simply float in the middle, getting admirable visibility and fairly good sales. Then there are the duds. Not because they aren’t good books or well written, but simply because the author has no clue as to how to navigate the marketing and promotions world.

stand apart 2If 1,000 books in the exact same genre and subgenre as yours are released on the exact same day, how will you become visible? Now, imagine 10,000 books flooding the market just as yours comes along. What are you going to do?

Most authors have two choices. They either try everything and anything, or they freeze like deer in the headlights. Neither is actually effective for good sales results.

This is a new author marketing series just for you! In this series we’ll cover 8 wonderful ways to get your Author Marketing Voice heard, and heard by the right people … the ones who want to buy your books.

stand apart 4Over the next few months we will cover:

  • STRATEGY – How to develop the perfect marketing strategy for your book and your audience
  • PREPARE – How to be ready for your launch with an already waiting book buyer base
  • BROADCAST – How to set up your platforms so that they are constantly blasting the right message to the right target
  • 3 – 2 – 1 – How to create the book launch as creative and powerful as the book you wrote
  • EXPLORE AND CONQUER – How to find and approach audiences other authors aren’t even thinking about
  • ROAD SHOW – How to take your marketing live and expose your book to broader audiences
  • FUEL – How to keep your sales momentum alive and well
  • RELOAD – How to do it all again for your next book

Next time, STRATEGY, the electrical current that makes any marketing machine run!  Are you ready?

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ME, BLOG HOPPING DOWN THE PROMO TRAIL!

blog hop frog 2I’ve done promotional blog tours. I’ve done scheduled guest blogs and guest blogs I requested. I’ve done blog favors (you know the kind I mean, where another author begs you to write a guest blog so that they can get a break from their own blogging activities). I’ve blogged here, there and everywhere … but this is the first time I’ve ever done a Blog Hop!

My dear friend, mystery author Annette Dashofy asked me to participate in this cool hop so that we can all get an inter-tangled-super-promo-op to talk about our next project … My NEXT BIG THING. Anyone who knows me knows I always have something happening, so I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to talk about. I just finished my newest novel, the beginning of an entire new brand called the Celestial Watch Chronicles. The romance is titled Lucifer’s Guide. Rafe Bennett is an old-west, hard-riding outlaw. Vivi is the Angel assigned to watch over him. When she falls from heaven and into his arms, Lucifer makes sure that all hell breaks loose. BUT … I’m also working on book #3 for the Twice-Baked Vampire Series, Amsterdamned. I so love urban fantasy! BUT then again, I just finished revising the second edition of Finding Author Success, which is scheduled for release in March … BUT, the real NEXT BIG THING for me is my next non-fiction, The Author’s Cross Marketing Magic Handbook, and that’s what I’d really like to talk about. Here goes!

Blog hop frog, 1What is the working title of your book(s)?

The Author’s Cross Marketing Magic Handbook: Developing New Avenues for Advanced Book Marketing

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My first non-fiction, Finding Author Success, taught basic marketing, publicity and promotional skills to authors struggling with the responsibility of creating their own sales success – no matter how they’re published. As an Author Success Coach, I’ve seen so many authors grasp the basics and excitedly stand ready for more. This  new Cross Marketing book focuses on an advanced marketing technique that can revive flat sales for a current book, kick-start and author’s dead back list, and catapult a new book into big sales through unique and creative Niche and Cross Marketing directions other authors never even think of.

What genre does your book come under?

It’s the Non-fiction-kick-butt-marketing-solutions-for-authors Genre.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I love this question. Since my book is non-fiction, and it’s me teaching and coaching authors how to be more successful, I think I’d like to be played by Meryl Streep … or Whoopie Goldberg. Either one works, LOL.

What is the 25-30 word synopsis of your book?

Is Cross Marketing really magic? It is for authors wishing to approach new audiences, find bigger book sales, and be the mystic of marketing for their own success.

Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

The Author’s Cross Marketing Handbook will be published by Assent Publishing under the Path Maker Imprint and is scheduled for release in late April, 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The cool thing about writing my non-fiction is that it gets written in various stages over the course of time. I constantly speak at writers groups and conferences on all the various topics regarding author marketing. I teach online workshops covering everything from basic platforms building and social networking, to advanced strategies using the unique hooks written into a story, and how to locate audiences outside the normal author marketing approaches. Author questions and concerns grow into files of notes and research which finally forms the book. Finding Author Success came about that way, and so did The Author’s Cross Marketing Magic Handbook. Over time, hundreds of authors ask the questions, the books are the answers.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Obviously there are hundreds of books out there teaching authors how to deal with one element of marketing or another. My primary goal with both Finding Author Success and The Author’s Cross Marketing Magic Handbook is to cover not only the specific skills and techniques, but to show the author how they work together. My muscle is 20+ years of expertise in marketing and promotions, my heart is in the fact that I too am an author writing, promoting and selling fiction, and my real strength is in the ability to kindly approach the author’s mind. One doesn’t approach a creative thinker about such mundane things as marketing and promotion the same way they’d approach a used car dealer. Authors are skittish where this stuff is concerned. They’re afraid and often resentful about having to deal with it. I don’t think any other books covering the similar subjects compare with the gentle, light-hearted coaching style in Finding Author Success or The Author’s Cross Marketing Magic Handbook.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

You. Him. That author over there and the other author sitting in the back row. The only reason to write these non-fiction, how-to, you-can-do-it books is because of the inspiration all writers and authors are. There’s no one more courageous than a writer, it’s my goal to add success to that courage and help them enjoy the benefits of their bravery.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Sales. Every author wants to make some money, right? There’s always the joy of having tons of fans and enjoying a fantastic book signing where you run out of books before the line ends … but the bottom line is sales. If that doesn’t pique an author’s interest (and authors are my readers for these books), they’re probably never going to be interested in finding success or understanding the magic of cross marketing.

blog hop frog 3And the HOP continues! Watch for horror writer Les Denton’s NEXT BIG THING at her blog, http://lesdenton.wordpress.com/ on March 6. On March 13, sensational erotica author Sascha Illyvich will join the Blog Hop at http://whitewolfwriting.blogspot.com/. And on March 20, author David Bowman will share a fantastic challenge when he talks about his NEXT BIG THING at http://mymillionwordyear.blogspot.co.uk/

 

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BUT … I DIDN’T MEAN TO DISAPPEAR! THREE WAYS BACK INTO THE AUTHOR MARKETING GAME

ConfusedI’ve written about it in my book, Finding Author Success. I blog about it. I speak on the subject all over the country. I even teach a workshop dedicated to it. I’m here today to tell you all that even the teacher falls on her butt sometimes. Read on with courage, this is the cautionary tale no author likes to hear.

We all do it. We start with great intentions and make charts and graphs; we watch our time management and plow ahead for author success. Whether we’re focused on meeting a writing deadline or reaching a certain number of sales, we’re as diligent as tiny ants building our anthill for the future.

directionsThen something happens. Sometimes it’s something big, sometimes it’s something personal and often it’s something that entices us so much we lose sight of the career plan we had in mind when we started. Then … one day we wake up and realize we can’t even remember the last time we blogged or popped in at twitter or even thought about finding a new target audience to sell our book to. This, my friends is an ugly, ugly day. The best and most humble way I can help you all is to admit my own failure in this category. (Yes, I’m looking at my toes and blushing.)

too busy 2Here’s my story, not that it matters much because all our stories are just excuses. My career took off in directions I totally didn’t expect. Over the past 18 months, I’ve moved from Los Angeles back to my east coast home town of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I’ve lost nine (count ‘em, 9) family members and attended nine funerals. That averages one every two months! It’s a very large, very old Italian family and should be expected, but Italian families, socializing and food go hand in hand so lots of time beyond the heartbreaking mourning was focused on these events. Also during those eighteen months, Cold in California and Monkey Jump, books #1 and #2 of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series were released. In November of 2011, Finding Author Success was released and therein came the complication. All my wonderful platforms for my fiction were in place and singing when suddenly, I was in demand as an Author Success Coach. I became booked to speak with several writing groups and at several conferences, I rejoined the Pennsylvania writing organization (Pennwriters) and found myself running one of the local monthly meetings. Authors continued to reach out to me and sign on for one-on-one coaching, I became heavily scheduled to teach online and live workshops … and on top of all that, I found myself flirting with and being wooed by a new, very inventive and interesting publisher. The love affair grew and I’m now with Assent Publishing as their Romance Imprint Editor, AND as the Dean of The Accent Academy, a unique, specially created marketing training program exclusively for contracted Assent authors. There’s more. Now I blog and actively do social media marketing for the Imprint, field queries and edit contracted manuscripts  … oh … and we’re currently running the GREAT ROMANCE contest. Yes, I’m still writing too!

So … pretty damn productive, right? Yes, right, and a little bit wrong too. What happened to my own fiction and nonfiction marketing activities over these recent months? Um … right. Neglected. Not intentionally neglected, I guarantee you, I’ve felt regret and remorse with every month that passed but what’s an author to do? It’s not my first time at this rodeo, I trip and fall like everyone else. What I’ve learned is that the only way back up onto the horse is to … get back up onto the horse.

back on the horse

BACK UP AND PUNT! REGROUP! AND FIND THE CENTER!

Those are the three tricks for regaining that power grip on your marketing trajectory. Whether you’ve simply gotten too busy with family things or that wonderful new manuscript you’re working on, or your career suddenly sprouted a plethora of new branches like mine, we all lose traction and when we look up, discover that we’re nowhere near where we thought we’d be. Here’s how to get back on track.

back up and puntBACK UP AND PUNT!

Take inventory. Are you miles from where you were, or just a few yards from that first down? Have you lost a huge number of your blog following or fan base, or just had a little hiccup that can easily be corrected. How far off the mark are you? Be honest. When was the last time you blogged or tweeted or visited your own Facebook page? How are your numbers – book sales, blog visits, and website stats? Have you fallen from receiving 1,500 hits at your blog every day (whether you do a blog entry or not) down to ten or fifteen a day? Doing an honest evaluation of your current status based on your standard performance before the fall is the only way to fix this mess.

regroup, 1REGROUP

What’s salvageable and what’s not? Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting back in the saddle and spurring ahead. Picking up where you left off is good, but remember, everything works hand in hand. If you’ve been away from everything and you write a new blog entry,  tweeting and facebooking about it won’t get the same results it did before you went AWOL. All your friends and followers have moved on to other things and people. Besides, they’ll need a little proof that they can trust you again. That you’ll be there as consistently as you were before, and your blogs will hold their interest or give them that added value they used to love. One blog won’t do it. Not even two blogs. It could be just like it was at the very beginning and you may need to consistently blog, on time and with great content, for months before you can regain what you might have lost. It’s okay. It’s sort of like giving birth. The labor is terrible, but the results are fantastic. Getting your 1,500 blog hits back will be the reward you need to keep going and remember how good it felt to do this blogging things well. Make a conscious effort to rebuild your Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Yahoo Groups and Blog following. You remember from before, it only gets easier from there.

FInd the CenterFIND THE CENTER

How did this happen in the first place? Were you desperate to have a normal life and enjoy the weather or your family or maybe even reading other authors’ books? Or did you overload yourself to the point of exhaustion and resentment? Did you find yourself in the magical vortex of a new story you needed to write, or did you look for a reason not to market? Did you find yourself taking on more and more all in a scattered effort to grow your career (guilty), or did you face a crisis of faith about your career? Whatever it was, you should take a few moments to identify and analyze it so that you’ll be better prepared next time it looms its ugly head.  Too busy? Streamline your activities. Take a good look at what you’re doing and how it fits into your plan. Too many projects at once? Consider doing one at a time. Too many commitments away from the keyboard? A little tough love might be required to grab hold of your time again. Have you lost focus on your original goal? Or has that original goal changed? Figure it out, stand next to it and own it. Finding the center is all about balance and the ability to understand ourselves. I’m not talking about the labels we all hold on to – I’m a workaholic, I’m a perfectionist, I’m lazy, I’m special, I’m not important – I’m talking about the deep reality of ourselves. Sometimes it hard to face the fact that we can’t do ten things at once, even though we tell ourselves we’re the master multi-tasker of the universe. Finding the center is a reality based fact-finding mission we should all embark upon at least once every year. It requires taking every aspect of our life into consideration and never squashing one for the other. It means taking special efforts to never become overworked because every Wednesday afternoon we go out for a walk or take the afternoon to play with the cat. It means honoring the whole person who contributes to the whole author we are. Find the center and it will be a piece of cake to get back on tract for the career you want.

I’ve started. I’ve taken inventory, streamlined my commitments and have seriously respected the center and balance I need.

And … I’m back. I’ve missed you all! I’ll be blogging here every month. I’ll tweet like a songbird again. I’ll be at Facebook asking my question of the day. And because I’ve told you all … I am accountable.

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FREE Ten Tools for Author Success Handbook available for download at The Author Success Coach website.

“Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony!


5 Things I’ve Learned About Writers

For over six years now, I’ve been coaching authors and working with writers in live and online workshops. I teach them how to be more successful, how to gain more book sales and how to negotiate the world of marketing, promotions and public relations. I know, I know, the thought of marketing is like having to eat vegetable you don’t like or do 20 minutes on the treadmill – all necessary, but oh how we hate it. Unfortunately, I sometimes get the brunt of an author’s frustrations over having to do what they don’t like.

Over these years I’ve noted patterns that appear in every place I speak, in every workshop I teach and with every author I coach. I thought it might be helpful to share them with all the writers I know. Here are the 5 things I’ve learned about writers.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW WHY – No matter where I am or what kind of writer I’m talking to, this question always comes up. Why do I need to blog? Why do I have to tweet? Why do I need a website? This list can go on forever, but only a clear understanding of how marketing works helps them understand. What I’ve come to realize, is that the question WHY is usually an umbrella covering a plethora of other things, some related to writing and being successful, some completely unrelated. We writers are a stubborn bunch. We have to be. This is a tough industry to break into, survive within and ultimately find success. When a writer desperately wants to have great book sales, it’s often time to set our stubbornness aside so we look for the solutions. As a coach and workshop instructor, it’s my job to discover what that WHY is all about. Usually the question isn’t so much WHY but more like “Why do I have to do it?” The author in question may be working two jobs, meeting publishing deadlines, dealing with kids or well, simply stubborn. The answer to the big WHY question is painfully simple – because EVERYONE has to do it. The basic techniques of marketing are tried and true and have been for centuries. They are as true for you as they were for Andrew Carnegie.

  • You have a product
  • Your are in a competitive industry
  • You must make your product stand apart from that competition
  • You must make the public aware of your product
  • You must promote your product
  • And you must grow and maintain sales for that product

No one writes a book in hopes that no one will know about it or buy it. The basics of marketing are important and everyone with a product to sell must use them.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW IF THERE’S A SHORTCUT – Oh what a great question and I totally understand why a writer would ask. A shortcut to work gets us there faster or helps us avoid traffic jams. A shortcut at dinnertime, like prepared foods, take-out and a dishwasher, saves us valuable time in the evenings. We are programmed to look for shortcuts. Time is finite and everyone on the planet gets the same 24 hours in any given day. Looking for shortcuts is expected … but shortcuts –  like auto twitter and auto Facbook post programs, and blogs that announce themselves on every other social media you use – not so much save time as limit your capacity for creating impact. Short cuts don’t work when marketing, in fact I’d go so far as to say they never work best when marketing. So many times an author will write to me after taking a workshop and say that they’ve done all the things recommended but received little to no response. After some exploration I always unscover that they’ve taken these handy-dandy shortcuts. Yes, they’ve saved time but what they’ve unfortunately done is become so automated, their tweets, Facebook posts, and blog announcements LOOK like a machine did them. All those sparks in their social media circles are flat, without personality and unfortunately, without true marketing impact. Because marketing is a living, breathing thing, it lends itself to being brilliant … but only when backed by a human being. By all means test all the shortcuts. I suggest you test them one at a time then take a breath and do it all again without the shortcuts, using your personality and style. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes! Using shortcuts and saving time but gaining little to no sales is just … foolish.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW HOW TO FIND THE TIME – This one too is painfully simple. There are so many things a writer does in life, everything from taking care of family to valiantly protecting their valuable writing time. Finding the time to do everything means biting the bullet and making a plan, a schedule, a check list, a reminder buzzer on your cell phone, a kitchen timer … ANYTHING IT TAKES to be efficient. This requires good time management skills and discipline, but have you ever known a successful person in any field who doesn’t have good time management skills and discipline? Everyone’s time management style is different, but only those who master it actually get everything done.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW HOW TO STAND APART – It’s a dog-eat-dog publishing world out there, crowded with books and shouting authors and dwindling distribution points. Whether you are published by a big, small or medium publisher or self published, and even if you’re a writer just finishing your first book, the question has always been, “How do I stand apart from everyone else?” You did it with your writing and wrote a book that no one else could write because it came from your unique mind. Now it’s time to take that powerful creative gift and use it for marketing. So what happens? So many authors find themselves moving with the crowd they had hoped to stand apart from. This happens ALL THE TIME. Take a look at any author’s twitter following or Facebook friends and you’ll discover that the majority (and sometimes ALL) of them are other authors. I think this is based in fear – fear of tooting our own horn, fear that without other authors around us we’ll falter, fear of … well … success. It makes sense to have lots of authors around us, but it doesn’t make sense to completely surround ourselves with our competition. Shuck off the fear and reach out to readers. Who are the people who would buy your book? Time to make twitter followers, Facebook friends, and Goodreads friends with them. I always tell writers that the best ratio is 2 fellow authors for every 8 prospective book buyers. This is how to stand apart, take steps away from the competition and market to your fans and prospective book buyers.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW HOW TO TAKE THIS FURTHER – Once an author strategically reaches out to prospective book buyers and creates fans and sales, something wonderful happens. It clicks. Fireworks go off. The light has come on for them. One small taste of success makes them hungry for more! They discover that this marketing thing DOES WORK and it doesn’t take all that much time, especially if it’s carefully targeted and efficiently implemented. There’s basic marketing and there’s advanced marketing. Taking an author’s marketing to the next level with cross marketing techniques and platform expansion skills becomes easy. Having reached this part of the success adventure, authors are starting to think like marketing people by revisiting their back list to build sales, creating promotions that other authors never think about, in venues other authors don’t use, and speaking to book buyer in places other authors never dreamed of. Taking it further really only take one thing … eliminating the very first WHY hurdle.

 FREE Ten Tools for Author Success Handbook available for download at The Author Success Coach website.

Finding Author Success 2nd edition available in print & ebook Amazon, B&N, Sony, & Kobo

Cross Marketing Magic for Authors available in print & ebook Amazon, B&N, Sony, & Kobo
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