Monthly Archives: June 2011

Author Success Series: Cross Marketing – EXPANDING your Platforms

I know what you’re thinking. You’re mind is spinning with all the activity you’ve already created for your various platforms. You have a large following on twitter and make sure you interact every day. You’ve built your friend base on Facebook to the max. You blog, you email, you interact with other authors … what else could you possibly do? And … how much time will it take? You’re a writer, at some point you would like to be writing, right?

Take a deep breath and relax, this isn’t what you think. Yes, you have done as much as you can with your websites, social marketing and group affiliations … but have you? Are your efforts gaining the responses and results you want? Are you talking to the right people … the BOOK BUYING people? Relax. You are doing well, but this week, we’re going to talk about how to help you do better with Cross Marketing.

Have you ever heard the phrase “make money with somebody else’s money”? Well, it sounds a little tacky and distasteful, but sometimes you need to look into another platformer’s back yard to find a few more book buyers. No, I’m not talking about stealing friends or followers from other authors. In fact, far from it. I’m talking about strolling through an entirely different neighborhood to find more book buyers. Here’s how this works.

Here are the facts. Most authors feel safer making friends and followers with other authors. It’s a great resource for information and great support as you plot or develop characters. It’s a fantastic group of people for input on your book cover ideas and gaining insight into your agent, publisher, format or distribution choices. But the truth is … authors don’t buy other authors books, at least not enough to make a major dent in your sales. In reality, all of your author friends have already paid the price in time, advice and kindness while you showed them version after version of your book video or healed from your rejection wounds. If I bought a book from every author I’ve freinded on facebook, I’d have over 3,000 books! It simply doesn’t make sense to put too much hope into selling books to other authors.

So, now that over three-quarters of your twitter and facebook followers are authors and writers, where do you look for book buyers? This is where the Cross Marketing magic really happens.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times over the years, everything you need to be successful with your book sales in INSIDE your manuscript. I recently had a commenter here on the blog who doubted that Cross Marketing could work with her genre – erotica. THIS is how it can work with EVERY genre.

To start this thinking process, I’m going to choose a genre and story plot point that is fairly simple. Let’s say your book is a murder mystery about a woman who owns an auto repair business and loves to be under the hood, dirty and greasy. How the murder is discovered or solved isn’t relevant for this exercise, so let’s just go with what we have.

Let’s say you’ve already promoted it to all your facebook friends and followers (most of which are other writers). Now what do you do?

Expanding platforms through Cross Marketing is about taking advantage of someone else’s platforms. In the best case scenario, someone whose platform audience will find no conflict of interest and  – most important – the platform owner has no competition should you sell a book to their customers.

Back to our lovely auto mechanic. Here are a few platforms the author could take advantage of.

Book Clubs

  • Not just the obvious mystery readers book clubs, but how about “How to” book clubs? How about car or machinery lovers book clubs?

Group Affiliations

  • Car lovers groups
  • Car maintenance groups
  • How to change your oil/sparkplugs/tires groups for women

Live Local Business Connections (never discount readers just outside your own door)

  • Pop by every oil change or auto services business and post a flyer or business card about your book on the bulletin board
  • Do the same with every auto parts supply store
  • Join the Chamber of Commerce and make “friendly” contacts for more ideas
  • Give away a free book at an antique car club gathering, or sell books there along with some free lemonade

Website Connections

  • Local and national auto service businesses (independent and chains) all have websites. Take a good look  at those websites, find the contact and find out if you can post at their website, perhaps a photo of your book cover, better yet, a daily “Mechanical Murder” tip that talks about auto service and solving murders. If you can create a following on two or three of those major websites, your sales will jump!
  • How about asking to do this on Auto Clubs (like AAA) websites?

Blogs and Yahoo Groups

  • How many blogs exist that discuss women and auto repairs? Women who are automotively or mechanically helpless? Women who are mechanically savvy? Find them and ask to be a guest blogger to promote your book and do the guest blogs in a series so you can spread out the exposure.
  • Seek out Yahoo Groups that cover all the angles in your book, women, women mechanics, murder mystery lovers. Join, make friends and make sure your email promo tag for the book is prominent with every response you make to the group.

 

Alright, back to the question of an erotica writer doing some Cross Marketing.

Granted, mainstream situations may be out of the question for a M/MS&M or hard erotica book, but there are many other Cross Marketing opportunities most erotica writers haven’t actually explored.

Check into website connections, for example, can you get your book promoted on a sex toy or lingerie website? Perhaps you can become part of one of their forums and chat away about your book to a new audience you haven’t reached so far. If your book is paranormal in nature, it’s not outside the box to connect with Paranormal Romance yahoo groups, Facebook Groups or Twitter fans. Take your time, explore every avenue. Can you make yourself an expert in something the erotica community is interested in? If so, go for it. Cross Marketing isn’t something you can’t use because it approaches a broad audience, it’s something you NEED to use because in any tight genre, expanding the interest base and attracting more and new buyers for your books is all that matters. Cross Marketing for erotica needs to work within it’s own universe, just like cozy romance or children’s books. It’s all about looking for your prospective book buyers where you haven’t looked before, and connecting with them.

Once an author has EXPANDED their platforms with Cross Marketing, the whole world opens up for building a bigger fan base, stronger sales and greater demand for more books! It’s a win/win/win!

Next week we’ll discuss … Cross Marketing by playing the Genre Game like an expert. See you then!

 

Author Success Series: Cross Marketing

What is Cross Marketing?

Cross Marketing from the Obvious to the Sublime

Crossing the line into TURBO Creative Thinking


 

 

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Author Success Series: Cross Marketing – Crossing the Line into TURBO Creative Thinking

How creative do you really think?

As writers, we are free thinkers and do our best not to focus on the rules while we create, but those rules are there, looming even bigger if you’re just getting started as an author. If you’re attempting to gain a literary agent, there are all the query rules and format rules and acceptable approaches rules to consider. There are the rules about clean genre, clean manuscripts, clean elevator pitches.  If you’re going the independent or small publisher route, they have their own set of requirements and each one is different. If you self-publish, there are perfect editing necessities, a formatting learning curve and of course, all the distribution and promotional systems to master.

With all these rules floating around, crowding and confusing the process from point a) the finished, beautifully imaginative novel you wrote, to point z) the actual book sales, how creative can one really be? It’s as though the course of action we must take simply chokes the creativity out of us. There are so many tiny commandments to follow it’s too easy to get sidetracked into pleasing the process and forgetting the book buyer.

I’m here to talk about breaking those patterns we learned in nursery school. Don’t follow the rules. Don’t worry about being correct. Don’t question the process I’m about to suggest because if you do, you may just find yourself spending more time satisfying the “system” and never reaching your own goals.

Yes, sorry. I am from the sixties. It’s time for a little REVOLUTION in the marketing process. It’s time to tap into all the beautiful colors and emotions and excitement you felt while writing your book. Because frankly, if you don’t recapture and convey that intensity … why should anyone want to read your book, much less pay for it?

See, it’s not always just the perfect crafting of a 10 word sound bite or 25 word elevator pitch that gets someone’s interest … it’s the author’s energy. That flash of excitement can and should be in those few words, but it also must be present in the process the author uses to communicate with the prospective buyer.

It’s time for a little mind-blowing magical mystery tour. Yes, this will seem weird for anyone born after 1955 but this will be fun. AND, it’s vital! I’m going to ask you to take ten minutes out of their crazy day to just sit and clear your thoughts. Come on, you can spare a few minutes away from twitter, facebook, your iPhone and texting. This is important and it’s most important you do it AWAY from your technology. Go outside and sit in the grass if you can. (I said SIT in the grass, nothing else with the grass, just sit.) I know it sounds stupid but really, when your book idea came to you, what did you do? Get onto twitter and facebook? Text the world that you have an idea? My bet is that you didn’t even sit at your keyboard right away. You sat someplace quiet … and you thought. I need you to get back to that emotional space. Be peaceful. Clear everything else from your mind. Breathe nice and even, meditate for a few moments if you can. Now that you’re there, you can start …

Recall that process of your story, how it came to you, all the curves and u-turns it took before it became the final novel. Feel the characters, what you like and don’t like about each one, explore the emotions in the events and then plant yourself firmly into the locations. Even if your book is fantasy, science fiction or deep historic, get yourself there, feel it, smell it, taste it. No grumbling. If you went this route to develop your story, it’s not new to you. If you love your story, it’s no hardship. AND, most importantly, if you reconnect this way, everything about marketing and cross marketing the astounding book you wrote will be that much closer to you. So get into this. I promise, it will be rewarding.

Now … come back from your journey slowly so that you can retain the magic you originally found in the story. Examine what you brought back with you. While still sitting quietly, jot down the biggest impressions you got. Now set it aside and do the whole thing again for ten minutes the next day, and the next. Do this for four or five days then collect your jotted notes and begin.

If your goal is to seriously attack and gain visibility and sales for your book, this process may seem a little bohemian, but just go with me here.

Start with the biggest impression. Perhaps it was “Green”. Maybe your book is about ecology, or raising milk cows, or a romance about a playground planner falling for a beautiful politician who hates kids, but “Green” was the impression you wrote down.  The key here is “Green”. If “Green” stuck with you, it will stick with readers, but the key here is to get MORE readers than the average marketing strategy will reach. Let’s play a mind stretching game and find a few cross markets. How many people can you capture with “Green”?

  1. Green – plants, the color, ecological organizations, paint stores, interior decorators
  2. Park – city parks, town parks, park developers, art parks, car parks, antique car clubs
  3. Farm – dairy farm, farm markets, vineyards, wine gift stores, wine tasting gatherings
  4. Garden – gardening clubs, online gardening groups, florists, flower arranging schools
  5. Herbs – cooking, chefs, culinary schools, cooking gadget stores, cookbook clubs
  6. Forest – Forestry groups, camping groups, Robin Hood, survival groups
  7. Mountain – camping, hiking, rafting, skiing, climbing, wildlife preservation
  8. Money – teaching, becoming the expert, cross marketing, making BIG sales

That last one is me, getting you back to practicality but first let’s talk about the other ideas. As you can see, some of these directions went way off track, but did they? Can they possibly work for the book at hand? The idea here is not to think logically, but to let a concept like “Green” flow into as many different directions as you can find. Play with this. Laugh at it. Enjoy this process because that’s a big part of regaining your joy for the book you wrote.

Getting back to feeling and seeing the creative process of writing your book is the ONLY, I repeat, ONLY road to being creative with marketing and cross marketing your book. Using strategies and tried-and-true systems are good, but combine them with TURBO creative direction is the key to cross marketing success.

Now, of the ideas above, if the book is the romance about a playground planner falling for a beautiful politician who hates kids, let’s see how many of the “impressions and ideas” above could work.

Aside from the standard romance avenues for marketing, you can now cross market to:

  • Playground designers associations
  • Safe and ecological playground and park organizations
  • City, county and local community center book stores
  • Vineyards and wine gift stores (for the romance aspect)
  • Gardening clubs
  • Romantic cookbook stores or cooking classes
  • You can teach about safe playgrounds or ecology, or cooking for children or making romance part of everyday life or including kids in helping in the garden or cooking in the kitchen – in other words, you can become the expert on these subjects and speak to parents, single parents or community clubs.

Not one of these ideas fall into the standard “romance” marketing category because NOW you’re thinking about Cross-Marketing … and thinking about it in a TURBO creative and productive way!

You can put away your bellbottoms, tie-died tee shirt and headband now, LOL.

Next week we’ll discuss … Taking your platforms to even more effective places for awareness and sales results. See you then!

 


Author Success Series: Cross Marketing from the Obvious to the Sublime!

I call Cross Marketing the Author’s Magic because it’s so simple and so easy! As I mentioned before, Cross Marketing has been used by just about every other industry in the world since the beginning of time. P.T. Barnum used it to get as many different kinds of people as possible into the big top to see his shows, and you can use it to get as many differed readers into your book too.

Let’s start with a simple, non-book subject.

Imagine you’ve just inherited a pizza oven and rented the perfect little location on a high foot-traffic street. You’ve decided to make pizzas. Woo hoo! You’re going to be rich! Everyone loves pizza, right? Nope. Believe it or not, not everyone out there loves red sauce, pepperoni and melted mozzarella cheese. You’re barely making ends meet and need to gain more customers or you’ll be out of business. You have a competitor a few blocks down the street so you go take a look at what they’re doing. They’re serving the same kind of pizza and they’re hopping everyday. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that your competition has been established and has loyal followers. What’s a pizza marketer to do? Cross Market.

The first thing you do is examine who loves pizza.

  • Young adults
  • Young working parents who love it for the convenience
  • Pizza aficionados who tour the city for the best pizza
  • Foodies who seek the unusual
  • Health buffs and vegetarians
  • Kids

Now you look at why they go to a specific pizza shop

  • Is it for the price point?
  • Is it for the quality?
  • Is it for the uniqueness of the service or atmosphere?

It’s time to look for ways to bring in more than the few customers you have while making sure to return the loyalty to those who have started to come to your shop regularly.

Let’s take this one target at a time.

  • Young adults. Protect the price points and look for things those young adults love in other parts of their life. Perhaps you can have a Teen Hour where the music is loud and fun and there are contests for those young people to enter to win a free pizza party or tickets to rock shows.
  • Young working parents. Maybe it’s a good idea to have a special line for taking phone, text or fax orders so that the pizzas are ready for pick up or delivered at the perfect time.
  • Pizza aficionados. Perhaps you can create a competition between all the local pizza places to raise money for a charity, kind of like American Idol only with pizza.
  • Foodies. If you’ve decided this is a lucrative customer, you’ll need to add special foodie items to your menu. Toss some fresh basil or rosemary into your pizza dough, top the pizza with unique sauces and ingredients. Maybe add a dessert pizza, something with a whipped cream cheese sauce topped with fresh seasonal fruits and sprinkled with chunky crystallized sugar.
  • Health buffs and Vegetarians. This requires healthy menu choices that cater to these customers.
  • Kids. Like McDonalds, you can do a few super kid-friendly things. Offer catered kid parties, have kid-sized personal pizzas on the menu, design the little pizzas with a pepperoni smiling face.

Next you must make sure all those new targets know about your activities to serve them.

  • Walk around and give away discount coupons targeted to each of your new menu features.
  • Give away free sample bites to everyone who walks in.
  • Take kiddy pizzas to one of the local little league games for the players to enjoy.
  • Place an add in the foodie, health buff and vegetarian publications
  • Make sure your signage lists your weekly events and who those events are targeted for so that passers-by can see it and make note.

NOW you’ve taken your pizza shop and reached 6 new highly targeted customers than you originally had.

As you know, anyone can make a pizza, good bad or boring – and in this day and age, anyone can write and publish a book, good bad or boring. The competition for the book buyer’s dollar is big so making sure you reach as many audiences as possible is one of the great keys to success. You have strong, long-established competition right in your genre. You have difficulties with reaching new book buyers and you have the same challenges the pizza shop has. But, as you can see … it’s all about what’s on the pizza … or in the book … that makes the difference.

Okay, now back to Cross Marketing for authors. (Just give me a minute to lick the sauce from my fingers.)

Genre Games (THE OBVIOUS)

Let’s say you’ve written a romance. Everyone loves romance, right? Maybe. But just setting up shop, just announcing that your romance is being released, won’t be enough. Of course you will reach the avid romance readers looking for new authors but will that be enough?

Start with your subgenre. Is it paranormal romance? Is it YA romance? Is it erotic romance? Does it have a mystery in it making it a cozy or hot mystery romance of sorts? Playing the genre game is very important when planning your cross marketing strategies.

For example, there are ways to stretch the limits of a genre. Granted, for sales purposes on websites and in book stores as well as seeking an agent, you better be very clear on the genre, but think about what happens beyond that and who out there might love your book.

If your book is an urban fantasy with romance in it, why can’t you market to romance readers? If your book is about romance with a werewolf, there’s no reason you can’t cross market that paranormal romance with general romance. We’re talking about subtle approaches here, not slam-bam crashing into the door of a traditional romance readers book club and insisting they’ll love your book. There’s a careful strategy to approaching cross market targets and that’s not it. Research carefully. If a book club or reading group or even a book reviewer specifically says they want romance, dig deeper. You’ll discover that romance is romance and falls under several genres. The key here is to reach readers your primary genre isn’t reaching.

The Meat (THE SUBLIME)

For this strategy, it really doesn’t matter what your genre or subgenre is. This strategy is completely determined by WHAT’S INSIDE YOUR BOOK. You wrote this book and even though you may not have known it at the time, you’ve already written your Cross Markets into it. Just take a look at your manuscript. Where are the new markets?

Does your main character love to cook? If so, no matter what kind of book you’ve written, cooking supply stores, cooking clubs, cooking schools, cooking tools websites etc, etc, etc are great new Cross Markets!

Does your main character live in a specific, historic or destination part of the world? Now you can Cross Market to the museums, welcome centers, gift shops and travel websites for that location.

Does your main character travel, eat donuts, love chocolate,  live on the beach or in the mountains?

Have I made my point? The sublime magic of Cross Marketing is to go places other authors don’t bother to go to reach readers. If your character loves coffee, there’s no reason you can’t ask coffee shop’s to permit you to post a daily comment on their website to promote your book. Each day you can mention the daily brew and if your werewolf private eye likes it, or which pie he prefers, or even what newspaper he’s reading while enjoying his coffee.

Good Cross Marketing is about seeing beyond the average. Dig deep into your manuscript and find those possible markets. They’re yours for the plucking simply because there is no competition with other books or the product you’re connecting with. As long as the coffee store continues to gain customers, they’re happy. And if you gain book buyers, it’s a win/win!

Next Tuesday, we’ll cover Crossing into TURBO Creative Thinking. See you then!


Author Success Series: What is Cross Marketing?

Wow, it’s been a while! Sorry. Moving 3,000 miles and getting settled took far more time than expected, but I’m back. And as promised, I’m finally beginning the Author Success series on Cross Marketing. Best place to start? Let me explain what cross marketing is and how valuable this tool is for authors.

 

WHAT IS CROSS MARKETING?

I’ve touched on this subject in several of my workshops and in many of the Author Success series here on my blog – in the Book Business Plan series and in the Platform Building series. Now it’s time to dedicate a series exclusively to Cross Marketing for authors.

Cross Marketing isn’t magic, it isn’t some surreptitious pass-worded process where you need to know the secret handshake or swallow live gold fish to learn the tricks. It isn’t something only highly educated and experienced professionals use when you pay them boatloads of money to make you famous. Cross Marketing is simple and you can do it all by yourself! It’s a way of finding multiple markets for your book, no matter the genre or basic target reader. It’s a way of diving into your manuscript to mine new readers you never thought about. It’s a way to develop an instinct about writing your next book that allows you to build in a few viable markets other authors may not have thought about. After all, isn’t that the ultimate goal? To gain more readers, more followers, more fans?

Your book is your product and as grand as it is to reach the standard reader – mystery lovers for your mystery, or paranormal lovers for your werewolf adventure – it’s even more exciting to see your readership expand and grow into areas you hadn’t originally imagined.

We’re talking creative, financial and emotional gratification here and all you need to do to expand your fan base is follow a few strategies.

THE CROSS MARKETING STRATEGIES

Mastering the simple strategies for cross marketing isn’t difficult. Every industry in the world, no matter what they produce, does the same thing. There’s no reason why authors shouldn’t take advantage of these simple processes.

In this series we’ll be covering

  • Cross Marketing, from the obvious to the sublime
  • Crossing the line into TURBO creative thinking
  • Taking your platforms to even more effective places for awareness and sales results
  • Playing the genre game
  • Locating your alternative markets
  • How to approach cross markets
  • How to maintain new markets
  • A cross marketing worksheet
  • Time management that gives you TIME TO WRITE

Nothing here is scary to too difficult for an author, after all, you developed a fantastic idea, wrote a whole book and managed to find publication. You can do anything! You’re already a successful writer, now it’s time to become a wealthy one. It’s possible!

Next Tuesday we’ll begin. Until then, write on!