Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Eight Desperations of a Struggling Author

And all this time you thought becoming an author would be fun? Just for kicks and giggles, I thought I’d take a stab at the eight worst habits of the published and about to be published author.  (Good thing we’re not all like this!)

Desperate are the poor of spirit, for theirs is the hell of the hopeful without guts or a plan.

Desperate are they who gripe, for they learn nothing from the rejection form letter.

Desperate are the meek, for soft-spoken is less effective than a powerful voice.

Desperate are those who hunger for the pat on the back. Ain’t coming.

Desperate are the merciless, for they “borrow” ideas and audience but will forever suffer being unoriginal.

Desperate are the clean of chart, for without sharp strategy nothing is accomplished.

Desperate are the friend-makers, for they will forget to seek out genre fans and book buyers.

Desperate are those who persecute their fellow authors, for they will be friendless and ignored at important tradeshows.

 Your thoughts?

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Author Success Series: Cross Marketing – Time Management Tips for the Marketing Author

I can hear it already, the classic Author Whine. “I have no time for this marketing thing! When am I supposed to write my next book? It takes too long to create correct, targeted platforms, much less use them effectively. Why can’t I just write, let my book be wonderful and people will buy it? Wah, wah, wah!”

It’s like listening to a broken record. We all know the truth of the matter, don’t we?

  • We’re afraid to try
  • We forgot the real reason for marketing (because no one else is doing it for us)
  • We didn’t remember the golden rules of time management – schedule, implement and get the hell out

Resisting the fact that you must market will only hurt you and your book in the end, so toss that concept right out the window and just dig in and start.

Good time management is vital for success in any industry, so why is it so hard for authors to grasp the reasoning and practicality of it? We are creative minds and it’s difficult to put that into a box while being business minds, but it has to happen in order to have … well … it all. Fans. Great book sales. Demand for more books.

Managing your time so that you can write AND promote isn’t as tricky as one might think. It just requires planning and strict attention to your daily goals. Before we get into the meat of managing your marketing time, let’s talk about two elements that will set the stage for everything you do.

Research – Yes, research. Too many authors have a ton of other author friends, fans and followers, but once their book is released, they discover that they have a very small genre reader following. Yes, you do need other authors to keep your creativity and energy up during the writing phase of the project, but facts are facts – other authors aren’t exactly your best sales target. Research is a big, important task you must take on NOW, no matter where you are in your writing/publishing process. In fact, the earlier the better. Know where the readers of your genre

  1. Learn about their favorite kinds of books
  2. Buy their books, and
  3. Talk about their favorite books.

With these contacts clearly defined, you can add them to your regular social marketing strategies. How much time should you commit to research? Take a solid 30 minutes every day to seek out and spear those prospective readers. Do it every day, even after your book is out and getting sales. Continue to build your audience.

Resources – Budgeting your time is as important as budgeting your marketing resources. Keep it tight and succinct. Make a daily chart and refer to it often. Be strict with yourself. I understand that this concept might be all new to you, but is it? Really? You put a deadline on writing word counts, finishing a manuscript, editing and pitching, right? So why can’t you take those fantastic management skills and move them to your marketing?

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR THE MARKETING AUTHOR

  • Twitter – Love it or hate it you gotta twitter. The real key to Twitter time management is so simple you may not even believe it. For example, I get on twitter for 15-20 minutes twice each day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon (this accommodates time zones pretty much all over the world). My TweetDeck has a column following me and whenever I get on, I respond to people who’ve talked to me (@rileymagnus) while I wasn’t there. I keep my focus for that day extremely clear – am I promoting a blog post? Asking questions for research? Socializing (and yes, occasionally you must smile and socialize)? My total is 30-40 minutes a day, Monday through Friday. No more and no less and guess what? My Twitter followers think I’m there ALL THE TIME. I’m so committed to this plan, I actually use a timer, log on to twitter and off 20 minutes later, that way I’m not tempted to play too long or get too involved.
  • Facebook –The same rules apply here. If you use Facebook for personal activity, you’ll need a separate Facebook page or account for your author business. As with twitter, make a plan. I post my “Author Survey Question of the Day” in the morning and just pop my head in every now and then. I love the responses and especially love when the responders begin to chat with each other. My platform is about author success and there’s nothing more intriguing than 20-50 authors shaking things up and sharing techniques, ideas and humor about being a writer. I visit my facebook wall four or five times each day. I don’t stay, I don’t post more than one question each day, I don’t even go to Facebook on the weekends, and I always find a good time to post my own answer to the question or respond to comments made there.
  • Email Lists – Did you really think we wouldn’t talk about email lists? Of course you need them, strong, targeted lists you build slowly. Building your email list is one of those projects that go on in the background. It really doesn’t require time scheduling. Just keep your ears and eyes perked for a good person to contact or a good place to invite people to join your mailing list.
  • Group Memberships – What’s your book about? Is there a major gardening theme in it? A medical theme? Legal theme? Coffee or tea lovers theme? Knowing your major “hook” is how you find the right groups to join. Notice I said “hook”, not genre. That “hook” represents a possible Cross Market! Finding entire groups of people interested in your “hook” makes group memberships a powerful social marketing tool. Join several groups, sit back and watch as the emails came in (I always go for daily digest, just to keep things neat in my inbox), then determine which groups have real value for you based on how their subjects and dialogue presents. Settled on three groups and simply exited from all the others I never spend more than a few moments a day looking through the group emails, and I usually contribute at least once a day on a subject that interests me. My email “tag” is clearly a subtle book pitch with buy link.
  • Face-to-Face Networking – Remember people? Living, breathing people? The kind you look right at and can touch when you shake hands or give a casual hug? Social networking isn’t just internet networking. Granted the internet makes our world wider, we still can’t let it limit us in the process. Authors need face-to-face networking too. Schedule everything you want to do in this “real life venue” because every moment you’re doing your face-to-face reach, you’re not at your keyboard. Work smart and strategically. Keep a few nicely designed flyers about your book in your car so that you can take one with you every time you run an errand. Trust me, the perfect bulletin board is waiting for it and a wonderful conversation can be had that leads to book sales.

Well … that’s it for Cross Marketing, ladies and gentlemen. I know these strategies will help expand your fan base, readership and sales. Let me know how it’s working for you and feel free to ask any questions. Author Success is in your hands and you have the tools to make it all work for you and your book!

Author Success Series: Cross Marketing

What is Cross Marketing?

Cross Marketing from the Obvious to the Sublime

Crossing the line into TURBO Creative Thinking

Cross Marketing – Expanding your Platforms

Cross Marketing – Playing the Genre Game WELL

Cross Marketing – Locating Your Alternative Markets

Cross Marketing – How to Approach Cross Markets

Cross Marketing – How to Maintain Your Cross Markets

Cross Marketing – Putting it all Together


Author Success Series: Cross Marketing – Putting it all Together

Every element of your Cross Marketing Strategy should be documented and tested. It’s not good enough to try something and discover a few weeks later “Oh man! That really worked! Now, what was it I did, exactly?” To build momentum for your book’s visibility, interest and sales you need to know what you’re attempting, what your goals are, and you must clearly document how successful or unsuccessful each effort is.

If you think a specific Cross Market is perfect for your book – that your murder mystery has enough “gardening” elements in it to approach the garden magazines, clubs and online stores – and you try it, how do you really know if it was successful or not? In your head, it might seem like a perfect fit, but did it really work? Of course, you will be running at least two or three different Cross Market approaches at the same time, plus your standard marketing to the obvious target markets, but how can you break it down to see which effort was successful and which was not so successful? AND, how much success makes a Cross Market direction worthy of additional exploration?There are a few critical red flags involved here, and among them are the biggest three that torment most authors.

  • HOPE – oh, we sooooo hope that people like our book that we sometimes display our baby and just wish for great results. We’re looking for emotional, professional, personal and maybe even spiritual validation, a reason to go on. Okay, maybe that’s a little too dramatic but you get my point. I call Hope a non-strategy. It falls under the category of inaction and must always be checked at the door when testing your marketing and especially your Cross Marketing, because there’s easily twice as much of a chance for criticism in an unsuspecting cross market as there will be in the normal genre market strategy.
  • IMAGINED CREDIBILITY – okay, this one doesn’t only apply to Cross Marketing, it applies to writing your book in the first place. Words you might say to yourself under the influence of IMAGINED CREDABILITY are: Oh, people will love this idea! People need to read more books like this. (And my favorite) If I just explain my reasoning they’ll buy my book by the millions! Trust me, if you have to explain anything to anyone, it’s not working, whether we’re talking about your plot or your Cross Marketing strategy. Simplicity is what attracts people, and reality is what attracts Cross Markets. If you think that gardening clubs will love your book because your main character has a back yard garden, you may be way off base. Be credible with your Cross Marketing. It will take a LOT of focus on that character’s garden to attract the attention of gardening clubs and groups. That garden must almost be a main character. If it isn’t, this would be like approaching dentist groups because one of your main character brushes his teeth once in the book. Imagined Credibility is another non-strategy.
  • FEAR – yes, fear. Ouch, this one can put a real kibosh on your plans, no matter how well thought out and possibly successful your Cross Marketing ideas are. Try to look on the bright side. What are you really afraid of? Is a Cross Market does not respond to your efforts, there’s nothing lost. It’s not like your primary genre has stepped up and insisted you stink. It’s a Cross Market … an extra step for seeking new and more readers … and the point of all this is to test uncharted waters. Face your fears, take a leap and see what happens. Fear = non-strategy #3

In all three of these cases – Hope, Imagined Credibility and Fear – you need to recognize them for what they are: non-strategies and ineffective wastes of time. I usually simply mark them “DUH” because, of course, I knew better when I implemented them in the first place.

So, how do you keep track of all this Cross Market activity? You must create a worksheet that A) Develops creative exploration for Cross Markets, B) Establishes a testing system to determine if the Cross Market is viable and C) Expands on good ideas while eliminating the bad ideas.

You must set standards. Creating a worksheet to help you navigate through the process can be a simple plan or a complex plan. It can be created on Excel forms or on a yellow lined pad. There are three primary tasks listed above and three non-strategy situations to avoid.

Because marketing and Cross Marketing your book is such a personal thing, I strongly encourage you to create your own worksheet, but to help you visualize, I’ve attached a sample Cross Marketing Worksheet PDF here.

Worksheet to Help Navigate Your Plan

Remember, every book and every author is different, so make sure your worksheet is specific to your book, your genre, your subgenres and your sensibilities. Make the plan aggressive enough but also not too big for you to manage effectively. Activity is the key to success and remember, you must put in the work.

Next week we’ll add the finishing touches to this Cross Marketing Series with some Time Management Strategies!

Author Success Series: Cross Marketing

What is Cross Marketing?

Cross Marketing from the Obvious to the Sublime

Crossing the line into TURBO Creative Thinking

Cross Marketing – Expanding your Platforms

Cross Marketing – Playing the Genre Game WELL

Cross Marketing – Locating Your Alternative Markets

Cross Marketing – How to Approach Cross Markets

Cross Marketing – How to Maintain Your Cross Markets