Monthly Archives: May 2012

What happened at the Conference: “Finding Author Success” SCORES!

Last weekend I was at the Pennwriters Conference. The last time I went to this particular writer’s conference, things were quite different. I was one of a few hundred writers desperately hoping to have a good face-to-face meeting with a literary agent so I could pitch my book. The stress level was high and I was, naturally, a nervous wreck. I got through it but what I learned there reshaped my entire idea of being an author forever. That was eight years ago, it was a good experience and I did get a request for a full manuscript, but my oh my, how the industry has changed since then.

This time I was at the conference to speak, teach workshops and sign books.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you wonder what you’re doing with your life and if it matters to anyone? With the shifts in the publishing industry, of course I continued to write and after several years, finally found publication. But something else happened. The deeper I got into the true dynamics of creating success for myself, I discovered that many other authors were struggling with the same problem. With nearly all of the marketing, promotion and publicity required to make our books successful sellers on our own shoulders these days, I realized that I had something unique and powerful to offer. I have more than two decades of experience in all those elusive conundrums that baffle authors – marketing, promotions and publicity – it was suddenly obvious that I had a lot of the answers. It all began by answering authors questions on twitter about how to market and grew into Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power within your Manuscript. It’s gone even further since the book was released last November.

Yes, I’ve had two novels published, but this time the conference for me was all about author sales success and what it takes to attain it. Armed with copies of Finding Author Success I taught a pre-conference workshop on Building a Book Business Plan. I then did a three hour workshop covering the 10 Tools for Author Success. I was asked to do a read and critique session with literary agent Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and I sat and signed books in the hospitality suite. Sounds like lots of fun and great exposure and one would think I’d be thrilled with how far I’d come since the last Pennwriters Conference I attended … but it goes much deeper than that.

This was a wonderful experience for reasons that have nothing to do with being asked to speak in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York and all around my own state of Pennsylvania. It had to do with something even more exciting! Success … for several of the authors I chatted with, taught in the workshops or simply met in the halls.

Part of both the Book Business Plan workshop and the 10 Tools for Author Success lecture has to do with helping the authors attending to polish, tighten and add power to their 25 word core pitch. What I feared would be boring to them, turned out to be magic and five of them, using the pitch they’d perfected during the classes (and one simply through a brief conversation at breakfast) all managed to have wonderful results with the agents … and they all tracked me down to let me know that the agent they’d pitch had requested full manuscripts! I felt like a proud momma! I felt like dancing in the streets for them! And … I finally knew that what I’m doing really does make a difference.

I’m not one for shouting from the rooftops but my publisher encouraged me to do a little horn tooting about this. Finding Author Success is truly a book that helps authors in many ways, from getting an agent or publisher’s attention to letting the whole world know they have a book for sale.

Another thing that came from the conference was the fact that as much as I love writing fiction and will continue to do so, there’s much more on the horizon for me as an Author Success Coach. I can help authors find the sales success they need by taking them deeper into the simple but unique areas of marketing most authors never explore. I’m starting another book for Author Success that will focus on the power and push of serious cross marketing that can take an author’s book sales from mediocre to the stars.

Now all I have to do is write it.

Next week we’ll return to the True Marketing Power for Authors series and we will be talking about seriously dissecting your own manuscript to find even more new prospective readers. See you then!

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!

 

 

 

 


True Marketing Power for Authors: Looking in a NEW Direction

I just returned from five days at the Pennwriters Conference where I taught a whole section of my workshop on this subject, so this will be fun and creative!

Where do you reach your readers? Most authors (as I’ve mentioned before) appear in the same places other authors do and make the same approaches they make – heavily targeting their genre. Naturally, you should make yourself and your book visible at genre reading groups live and online, as well as with as many blogs as you can find that focus on your genre … but your readers are many, many other places too.

In order to explain why this is necessary and why it works, here’s a little bit of information about marketing in general. It’s the RULE OF THREE. A prospective book buyer should see and/or hear your name or the name of your book at least three times and in at least three different places. Yes, you’ve contacted three genre book clubs and you’ve probably done a guest blog or promotional blog on at least three different genre-based blogs but those only count as one because not only are the same people seeing those blogs and are part of those book clubs and groups … but also remember, all the other authors writing in your genre are also present there so it’s sort of like walking into a crowd of shouting competitors. Be there, shout a little louder, but remember, it still only counts as one of your important three exposures.

So where do you find those other two (and preferably more) important exposures?

There are ways!

  • Dig deeper into your specific book for the unique hooks and elements inside your story
  • Dig deeper into the demographic of your genre reader
  • Dig deeper into your own neighborhood

Let’s take these cool directions and carefully scrutinize them.

UNIQUE HOOKS AND ELEMENTS INSIDE YOUR STORY

Let’s say you’ve written a romance with an historical twist. You may have lighthouses as a focus of your story, or it may take place during the Revolutionary War or perhaps the story unfolds in the 1960’s. In addition to approaching romance readers where everyone else approaches them, you may want to look into lighthouse bloggers or blogs and groups that raise funds to preserve and restore lighthouses. There are hundreds of online groups who target Revolutionary War enthusiasts, antique collectors from the era or travelers who love visiting the battle locations. They too have blogs and are involved in groups specific to their interests. If your book is historic in the more recent years, like the 50’s 60’s or 70’s, again there are groups, bloggers and websites that focus solely on that nostalgic interest.

How do you approach these bloggers and groups? Easy. You simply contact the bloggers, tell them about your book and the research you put into it within their specific interest and ask if they’d be willing to let you guest blog. It’s that simple. When you locate groups on Yahoo groups that focus on this specific hook in your book, you simply join the group. There you would participate in the conversations, share what you know of the historic era and make friends … but one thing you shouldn’t do is simply post again and again that you have a book to sell. This is MARKETING, which is all about creating awareness about your book. Marketing is not promotion and it’s not hard sell, it’s AWARENESS. So go on and join, be part of the community and contribute, make friends and … make sure that your email tag ALWAYS has the title of your book, a brief 25 word blurb about it and the buy link. Oh, and remember, if this is a specific subject you love to write about, you’ve just tapped into a wealth of research information!

Unique hooks exist in every book, no matter the genre. All you have to do is find them and be aware of them so that you can effectively use them to extend your audience. Maybe your book is a murder mystery where the detective has a coffee addiction, or loves expensive cigars, or is crazy about ballroom dancing. As long as these unique elements are a strong part of your manuscript, you can seek out coffee lovers, cigar aficionados and ballroom dancing enthusiasts because basically, your book will interest them.

DEEPER INTO THE DEMOGRAPHIC OF YOUR READERS

The demographic is the specific identifying factors about a targeted group. What is the primary demographic of your book? Women? Men? Children? Highly professional people? Middle class people? Are they 25? Over 50? Between 10 and 15?

All these specifics for your demographic are important and remember, what you assume to be your demographic isn’t necessarily true. For example, more woman over 50 read Young Adult books than young adults. Do a little research before assuming anything about your target reader demographic.

Is your book a romance? Military Mystery? Cozy Mystery? Christian? Erotica? Make a list of everything you know your book to be then think hard about who the demographic really is.

Now … where are those demographics? If you’re promoting your YA specifically to young adults and through YA blogs, bloggers and reviewers, you may want to spread your visibility further. You may want to query reviewers and bloggers who focus on older women no matter the subject. Remember, we’re not talking about the places other authors are marketing. If you’re pushing your military mystery toward men, you may want to think deeper and grab some exposure with groups of military wives or military enthusiasts who have blogs that focus on weapons or strategies with commentary. If your Christian romance is targeted to only Christian women you are limiting yourself, promote the book to women in general within woman groups that have some connection with your unique hooks.

If your target is women, never forget … we’re everywhere. We shop in grocery stores, go to the cleaner’s, buy shoes, love cosmetics and jewelry. Men too are all over the place based on their interests. There is no reason why an author writing fiction or non-fiction shouldn’t take this expanded demographic approach and use their unique hooks to connect with much broader target groups. Write to the targeted blogger or website and simply tell them about your book, then ask them if you can write a guest blog or monthly column (if it’s a website) that will subtly promote your book with a picture of the cover and the link. You will be amazed how many of these bloggers and website owners will respond positively. This helps them too! It regularly updates their blog or website, and it brings more activity to their business or blog content. It’s a win/win.

IN YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD

Whatever your book is about, whatever the genre and whatever the specific hooks, you can easily find local groups starving for an interesting topic for their next meeting.

There are local gardening clubs, local women’s clubs, knitting, quilting, and bird lovers clubs. There are local Rotary Clubs, nursing and dental assistant groups, church, community and city women’s and men’s auxiliary clubs. There are horse racing clubs, antique lovers clubs and music lovers clubs. These groups are everywhere, meeting someplace every single night of the week and all within five miles of your house. If you haven’t started speaking yet about your book, it’s time to take the leap. You approach these groups the same way you do everything as a writer … you query. Introduce yourself, tell them you are a local author, tell them about your book and make sure to touch on the unique part of your story that will connect with the group’s membership. Then you simply ask if you can speak at one of their meetings. Offer them a book signing after the speech. Most of these groups are bored to tears with the same kinds of meetings and you might just be the speaker they’re looking for. Be creative with your search, use your unique hooks and story elements to spice up your query, and remember to take into consideration your broad demographic target.

Oh, and one other thing about these approaches … I will warn you … it’s very unlikely you’ll find even one other author trying to get your prospective book buyer’s attention or money. You’ll have these audiences all to yourself!Next week we’ll be talking about seriously dissecting your own manuscript to find even more new prospective readers. See you then!

 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!


True Marketing Power for Authors: Come Out From Under the “Narrow Marketing Vision” Rock!

I totally understand that authors are a little skittish and afraid of everything “marketing”, but we all understand that it’s the way of the publishing world these days. It only makes sense that like the original cavemen, writers and authors would ban together for safety and survival … but is that really the way to thrive and grow? Yes, it has been a fight or flight world for hopeful authors over the last decade, but it’s gone beyond the really dangerous times. Now we can all breathe a little easier and forge ahead in this brave new publishing world.

So, how do we go about it? With the apocalypse over and all the industry shifts finally settling into patterns, it’s time to pick up our heads and look around. We’ve all been hiding under a rock … the Narrow Marketing Vision rock … so who else is under there with us?

I’m going to start with a question. In your facebook list of friends, how many of them are other authors? How many of your twitter followers are other authors? To effectively use these two powerful social networking venues, the ratio of authors to prospective book buyers and fans should be – 1 author/10 book buyers. I’m going to guess you’re nowhere near that.

Most authors I know have hundreds of other authors as friends and followers and I completely understand the attraction. After all, we’re all in the trenches together, struggling together. We need each other for pats on the back and encouragement, a shoulder to cry on or an understanding sounding board. That’s all good … except that far too often we get so caught up in our author camaraderie, we forget the real reason for social networking – to GAIN PROSPECTIVE BOOK BUYERS AND FANS.

There are major benefits to having daily connection with other authors. It’s like a college study group, everyone has a different area of study expertise – the industry news, which agents or publishers are closing or opening, who got signed and who decided to self-publish. It’s great feedback on how the industry influences your own work. You always know what genres are building and which are fading, which audiences are becoming lucrative and which ones are dissolving. Other authors are a wonderful resource for a plethora of industry information that directly affects you and your career.

As wonderful as all this information is and as supportive as all these friendships can be, there is a dangerous patch of quicksand there too and it involves marketing. In any given hour, in any given author twitter stream there are at least three new fangled promotional ideas someone tried and someone else tried and someone else found success with. Does this mean it’s a good idea to help sell YOUR book? Maybe, maybe not. Does this mean it’s worth your time and effort? Maybe, maybe not. I can honestly say that if it’s free, try it but if it takes your hard earned money, think twice.

The kind of quick and easy promotional ideas that float around cyber space for authors have two problems. First, everyone has seen them so everyone will be trying them. And second, they usually have nothing to do with seriously targeting YOUR prospective book buyer. In other words, all the cool marketing ideas under that Narrow Marketing Vision rock are generic and overused. Many writers and authors are so deeply embedded into their author connections, they completely forget that there are other ways to gain book sales.

Back to that social networking ratio – 1 author /10 book buyers. A serious author seeking sales success must treat this ratio like a precious gem. No, I’m not suggesting that you cut off all your author friends, I’m simply suggesting that you focus your social networking growth on prospective book buyers and fans until you reach that all-important ratio.

Now for the BIG QUESTION. Where do you find your prospective book buyers and fans? Time get down to the work.

What genre do you write? What is the clear demographic of your reader? Where are those readers? For now, I’m going to just grab a genre and target market out of the hat. If you don’t write in this genre, the system of targeting is the same, just focused in a different direction.

The hat says … drum roll … Urban Fantasy. What we’re going to do first is determine how to find urban fantasy readers, then how to approach them on twitter and facebook.

Start with a list of places those prospective book buyers might be by determining key words.

  • Vampire
  • Fae/Fairy
  • Werewolf
  • Fantasy
  • Paranormal
  • Supernatural
  • Paranormal Romance (if it fits and there is some romance in your book)
  • Trolls
  • Shape-Shifters

This is just a brief list of subjects your prospective urban fantasy book buyer may be interested in. Now it’s time to reach out. Create a list under each category (if you ask twitter or facebook to search “vampire”, it will list everything under that catagory) and simply make friends or start following. If you do this for ten to fifteen minutes every day within your twitter and facebook accounts, you’ll be amazed at how your base will grow and that author/prospective book buyer ratio will improve.

There is a vital next step to all this. If you are currently heavily into author connections, you most likely tweet and facebook post “author and writer” related comments. This has to change along with your ratio of followers and friends. You’ll need to tweet and facebook post things about urban fantasy, your stories and exploration of the genre. Only by doing this can you hook your new prospective buyer followers and friends into wanting to chat with you and actively follow. Post a question of the day on your facebook. Create a fun exploration of an urban fantasy creature in your twitter stream … and ALWAYS REMEMBER to at least twice every day, post or tweet links to your website and where your books can be purchased.

Getting out from under the Narrow Marketing Vision rock is the first step to truly gaining bigger book sales.Next week we’ll be covering new avenues for marketing that your author friends haven’t even thought about yet … and in a few weeks we’ll explore how to delve deeper into your manuscript for prospective buyers that you can’t see on the surface of your genre.

Questions? Please post a comment and I’d love to answer.

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!