Category Archives: Author Success Tips

4 TOOLS FOR THAT SCARY AUTHOR MARKETING STUFF

confused 4As authors, our biggest conundrum isn’t coming up with ideas, plots, or characters. It’s marketing. It’s so easy to label marketing as difficult, not in our wheelhouse, and an activity we creative people simply do not recognize. However, marketing is everything we already know. Marketing is extremely creative and done right, totally connected with the wonderful book (fiction or nonfiction) that we’ve written. It’s all a matter of dropping our distaste for marketing and giving it a real chance. After all, marketing is the nerdy one in the corner wearing thick glasses, the kind we super creative types seldom spend serious time with. Go on. Take a shot. It could be sales success at first sight.

Like any first date, there needs to be a few ground rules. First, forget everything you thought you knew about marketing. Second, open your mind to concepts you haven’t heard before from any your author friends. And third, be focused and consistent in your marketing efforts. Really, really consistent.

Here are four tools to help you find real author marketing success in 2016.

Other AuthorsSTOP MARKETING TO OTHER AUTHORS – Yes, I do understand. Other authors are our friends. We love the support and camaraderie, the emotional and creative help, and especially the feeling that we’re not in this alone. That’s all wonderful and very nice, but have you ever really thought about this from a marketing point of view? First of all, other authors are your competition. And when it comes to marketing, they seldom, if ever, know any more about marketing than you do. Keep in touch with other authors for writing craft and support, but strategically step away for marketing.

I know that authors do buy books, but spending a majority of your time and effort marketing to other authors will never get you to the top ten sellers list. Trust me, Hershey’s Chocolate marketing executives aren’t hanging out with Mars Candy marketing executives on Facebook sharing promotional strategies. Step away from other authors. Eliminate them from your twitter and Facebook accounts. Stop promoting your books on FB groups loaded with, and targeted to, other authors.

Real marketing is about identifying audience and connecting with them. The first step is to stop surrounding yourself with the competition. Recognize marketing as the success tool to create awareness for your book and gain sales.

Broader AudienceSEEK BROADER AUDIENCES – Okay, so now that you’ve purged all your author friends out of your twitter and Facebook accounts, who are you going to talk to? Well, eliminating the social part of social media will drastically open a lot of time for you to do some real marketing. The most important thing to do now is seek out broader audiences. We all know to join the book sales groups on Facebook, and follow all the book clubs and book reviewers on twitter. But there’s far more than that. You just need to think creatively – in relation to the book you wrote – to find them. Here are a few brief tips.

  • If your write Romance, remember, the biggest audience for romance is women. Not just women who love to buy romance books, but women in general. They love romance films, romance television shows, romance in travel, clothing, etc. In other words, while you’re joining Facebook groups for marketing, take a look at groups that talk about romantic things like dating, finding the perfect man, and fitting a dating life into the single parent life. Think of the reader of your romance as a woman with a whole life, not just a book buyer/reader life. Reach out to romance lovers on twitter through romance film accounts (just go to the romance film’s twitter account, and all films have a twitter account these days) then click on the followers. VOILA! You’ll see hundreds and hundreds of women who love romance. Follow, follow, follow and most will follow you back because your twitter account description will be about you and your romance book(s).
  • If you write Historical, seek out new friends and followers and groups that focus on the elements of that historical book. The clothing, the weapons, the parts of the world, the historic landmarks. Relate to a new audience that already loves what you’ve written in your book.
  • If you write nonfiction, how to, or memoir books, focus on the unique hooks within those books and target groups and audiences that are interested in those things. Think WIDE. If your book is about organizing your life, look for all the people who can benefit from this book—mothers, crafters, day care facilities, teachers, hobbyists—the list can be endless. You may not always find a Facebook group that directly targets your topic, so consider creating one. Think about speaking and doing book events at places that relate to your topic, like craft stores, pet shops, day care facilities, teachers group meetings. Step away from the norm. Be creative.
  • If your book is loaded with powerful imagery, no matter what the genre might be, consider using Pinterest. Create a board that is pinned with imagery that matches the feeling of your book—along with your own descriptions under those pinned pictures that relate to your story and a buy link for the book. Now you have something else to post instead of the tired old “buy my book” links on Facebook and twitter. Be sure to talk about your Pinterest board in all your unique hook connections. It’s visual, and that’s an added punch,
  • Whatever you write, fiction or nonfiction, can be extremely effective in the YouTube universe, but ONLY if you creatively stand out and apart. Boring book trailers are no longer effective, however, if you have one of your book’s characters write a diary and make it a series of YouTube 30 second videos, you can really catch attention. If you have written historic, focus on things in your book, like suits of armor or medieval weapons, explaining how they work, how they were used, and how masterful your characters are with them. BE CREATIVE. Use a talking sock puppet for a humorous book, have the entire 30 seconds focused on a Victorian pair of button down women’s boots or corset while you voice your 25 word pitch. Make people raise their brows and want to tell others about it. And of course, never forget to get your book cover and buy links on the closing frame.

Cross MarketingTHINK ABOUT CROSS MARKETING Cross marketing is sort of like using someone else’s money to make money, only in this case we’ll be using someone else’s audience to sell books. Not another author’s audience, but an audience related to one of your book’s unique hooks. This is something really cool with the potential for great ales success.

For example, if there is a dog in your book, a dog that plays a big part in the plot (not a stray that sows up once on page 23), dog lovers can be a major audience for you. Think about everything people do with and for their dogs. They go to dog parks, use doggie training schools, doggie day care, pet supply stores, and so much more. For this strategy you need to step away from the book world and think completely about your unique hook. A great technique is to locate an online healthy dog food website and contact the company about contributing content for that website. You would write a 1,000 word monthly article about dogs for their website, and in return they would permit you to post your book cover and buy link. It’s a win/win. They get monthly creative content that keeps their customers coming back for the next article, and you get access to all their dog loving audience.

This works with any unique hook—coffee, cigars, antiques, vintage clothing, pets, candy, horses, music, anything!

CharitiesCONSIDER CHARITY CONNECTIONSHere’s a simple tip to seriously help your bottom line, but it only works when the chosen charity is deeply connected with the elements and unique hooks in your book. You can do this three ways.

  • First, simply donate a portion of your annual sales to a unique hook related charity. Make sure this is stated on your book cover and your website, and make note of it in your blogs and social media.
  • Second, find out what fund raising activities the unique hook charity holds in your area during the year and simply participate in the event. Donate a reading basket loaded with copies of your books, coffee mugs and a pound of coffee. Or offer to speak and do a book sale/signing at the event with a portion of your sales going to the charity. Make sure to promote the event.
  • Third, create an entire event to support the charity. Notify the local media and communities and have a lot of fun with it. The charities are always supportive of these events and you will get a lot of visibility, as well as do something good for a charity you care about.

There you are; four powerful  tools for author marketing success in 2016. Questions? I’m here to help.

Deborah Riley-Magnus, The Author Success Coach

Write Brain/Left Brain: Bridging the Gap Between Creative Writer Author

Write Brain.Left Brain

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TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR AUTHOR MARKETING SANITY

nerdOkay, I’m one of those strange people who loves marketing but hey, it wasn’t always so. When I started I was an intern at an advertising agency, then I was a writer at a radio station, then television, then something happened … I discovered that marketing is everywhere and applies to everything! I used smart marketing to job shop, to bring in customers, to be noticed, hell, even to get a date! Like most people, I didn’t actually love eating the spinach until I realized how much it could do for me.

Marketing authors with books to sell are in the same boat. They know they have to market their books, they just don’t exactly know how. Excuses abound for avoiding this task, but the truth is that until they actually SEE great results, they will continue to hate marketing. It’s time to back up and punt, regroup, and make a plan that will help you keep your sanity on the way to making some money at this author life.

beehiveTAKE A BREAK – You’re doing so much, buzzing like a beehive, trying to get as many sales as possible and unfortunately finding the results unsatisfying. It’s time to take a break and rethink your strategies. I’m not talking about a year long break, or even a month long break, I’m talking about taking a week away from EVERYTHING related to writing, marketing, and books in general. Lift your eyes and look around. There’s a whole word spinning wildly and marketing its way into everyone’s lives. How are they doing that?

Taking a break from the marketing activities you’ve become bitterly mindless about is a great start for rejuvenating your mind. Observe all the marketing around you, coming into your email box, texted on your cell phone, blazing across the television screen, over the radio, and along the roads you drive. This marketing thing is alive and well and not going away. There’s no reason you, a person who has written a great book (or 10), can’t be successful at marketing. Exploring marketing strategies and promotions for products that are NOT books can open a huge avenue of creative thinking. Ideas are everywhere, so maybe that 99 cent book promo or that silly genre lovers promotion aren’t the only way to go? Yep, they’re not, and taking a break is a sure way to help you recognize that it isn’t your efforts that are failing … it’s the promotional vehicles and concepts you’ve used that are failing you.

Take a break, take a deep breath, observe the marketing world around you, and let your mind become as creative as the day you imagined writing a book.

looking over shoulderSTOP LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER – Authors have a bad habit of keeping an eye on other authors’ marketing activities and forgetting the person who will actually purchase their book. Surrounding yourself with other authors creates a kind of language of its own, I call it AuthorSpeak. Every time we see a promotion for a book it seems to sound the same. We think the same, we pitch the same, WE ALL TALK THE SAME! I recently surveyed book buyers and discovered that most, even avid genre lovers, find it frustrating how almost every blurb, pitch, and promotion is similar. This makes it hard for readers to make a choice.

Often it’s a really good idea to be different. Have a different kind of book cover, make your blurb different from anyone else’s, approach your prospective book buyer in a different way, different place, with a different attitude.

Over your shoulder all the other authors are still doing the same things. Publishers insist that books sell better with characters on the covers, other authors insist that you can only write a blurb one way. New authors gobble this up because they’re all looking for short cuts and nothing is easier than following a formula. However, never forget that those formulas get old, and the people these formulas are suppose to attract, get bored. A glance over your shoulder shows that most authors balance their desire for success and their desire to get it easily. It’s a compromise. There are no short cuts, and sometimes going rogue is the most creative way to gain visibility. Leave those other authors behind and make your own creative marketing path. It is a road of trial and error, but it’s oh so much more fun, especially when it shows itself in your bottom line.

crowdSTEP AWAY FROM THE NOISE – Have you ever tried to have a conversation in a noisy restaurant? No one can hear what the other person is saying; conversation dissolves into grins and nods. Not an effective result if the intended conversation was meant to help you gain more book sales.

This is exactly how it is when you stick so closely with other authors to promote your book. Groups of authors, lumping together to sell books and promote future books make a whole lot of noise. The book buyer begins to feel like they’ve stumbled into a carnie, complete with a bearded lady, dancing horses, and a clown car loaded with even more noisy authors. Don’t get me wrong, these events are a lot of fun. We get to hang out with all our author friends, we get to share cool marketing ideas, and we get to stand with solidarity against this marketing thing. Yep, that’ll do it. The book buyers will go crazy for us! We’ll all sell a million books!

Not.

What you and your author friends have actually created is a small pond with a whole lot of noisy fishermen hoping for a great catch. Fifty authors might talk to hundreds of book buyers at that event, but all fifty authors are not going to make a sale. No one author will make all the sales. These fishing trips always result in purchasing fish at the local market because no one ever catches enough to cook for dinner.

Stepping away from the noise means using marketing in a more creative way. Instead of surrounding yourself with your competition (other authors), think of other ways and places to actually connect with your prospective book buyer. Is your book a historical fiction? Think about holding a book signing at an antique collectors’ event. Hundreds of people might walk through but without so much book competition, you can very possibly sell fifty books! You surprised the book buyer in a unique place, and you’ve been careful to choose a place loaded with people who like the events, era, and unique elements inside your story. If you thought a book event with other authors was fun, wait until you do something like this and sell so many books in a single afternoon. Now that’s fun!

talking 1TALK ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS – Earlier I talked about something I call AuthorSpeak. It’s a kind of code, a system of short cuts, formulas, and tools that when used so much, become ineffective. If everyone is giving away a free book, free books loose their value and the promotion looses its effectiveness. After all, if it was free, how good can it be, right? Besides, if everyone is doing the same thing, it no longer has power. And if everyone is doing that same thing to the same genre lovers groups, it falls on numb ears.

It’s time to say something different and say it in different places and ways. More important than that, it’s time to get more specific. Cater to your prospective book buyer’s interests. In essence, it’s time to say what THEY want to hear, not what you want to tell them.

A perfect example of this relates to the example above at the antique collectors’ event. Often authors fall into the trap of thinking that only book buyers buy books, but who are book buyers? Book buyers are people who do a million other things aside from just buying books. They shop at many places besides book stores, and spend a lot of time online at places that are not book seller websites. Why do authors limit themselves so much when marketing? Why not toss out a much wider net to gain book sales?

Don’t look over your shoulder. Those other authors will have a mess of reasons why you should stick with the program and ignore your need to expand your creative marketing agenda. Going rogue takes guts and you can do this. Center all your marketing and promotional strategies on the things your prospective buyer loves that are already in your book.

If your murder mystery begins with a body found in a veggie garden, focus on gardeners, guest blog on gardening and veggie foodie blogs, hold book signings at farmer’s markets, focus your blogs on veggie recipes with a murderous twist. USE THAT AMAZING CREATIVE IMAGINATION OF YOURS. The possibilities are endless. You won’t see any of your author friends there because they’re all doing their noisy lumped together thing. Do be sure to keep in touch with them though, after you make your bank deposit, that is.

What kind of really creative ideas can you come up with for the unique elements inside your book? There are a lot of book buyers out there who are waiting to hear from you.

Deborah Riley-Magnus, The Author Success Coach

Write Brain/Left Brain: Bridging the Gap between Creative Writer and Marketing Author

Write Brain.Left Brain


AUTHOR MARKETING MISCONCEPTION NUMBER 2: MARKETING DOESN’T WORK

meanIf you hold the screw driver upside down, it doesn’t work. If you don’t plug in the copier, it doesn’t work. Nothing works if you use it incorrectly. Most authors see marketing as an intrusion into their writing lives. It seems like a foreign language meant to be spoken in a far off land they never heard of. Without an embassy or tour guide, marketing feels like something that simply can’t work because there’s nothing about it an author understands. Authors with this mindset are still the amazing, creative people who wrote their book-but somehow taking shortcuts they never would have considered when developing plot or character seem just fine for marketing that book. Authors seek the briefest, easiest, and most unobtrusive ways to use marketing that they can find or devise. Shortcuts are the name of the game and unfortunately, just as shortcuts don’t work to write a great book, they don’t work for implementing effective marketing. Twitter’s fun, so they make friends and talk, they repeatedly ask people to buy their book and chit-chat about writing the next book with all their other Twitter author followers. They try silly puzzle promotions, quick online launch parties, and join every author book promotion event they can locate. That should do it, right? Here’s the unfortunate catch. All of these efforts are noble; they show motivation and willingness to be a good marketing author. The simple problem is that these authors are not using marketing correctly. Authors who fail at marketing do not fail in their intention to do it well; they fail at not plugging the marketing machine into the outlet, that’s all. creative veggie gardernLike everything creative in the world, marketing has a process. Cooking has recipes, games have rules, building a house requires plans. Writing a book well has the same kind of laws. So why would marketing be any different? Authors aren’t afraid to plant a garden or bake bread, even though it’s not what they do all the time and requires different sets of rules. To these gardening and cooking authors, it’s just a cool new adventure. So is marketing. Marketing might not grow a perfect crop of zucchini or present the best spicy loaf of bread ever baked, but marketing can do something you want even more. Truly creative marketing, when used correctly, can help you get massive book sales…and that tastes way better than any zucchini bread on the planet.

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ARE YOU IN YOUR WRITE BRAIN … OR YOUR MARKETING BRAIN?

frazzled BrainI bet you think these are two completely different brains, or at least that these tasks take place in two completely different parts of the brain. Guess what? They don’t. Lots of feelings come in to play when an author hears the word MARKETING, and most of them are unfortunate misunderstandings. This is the beginning of a series covering the twelve most limiting author marketing misconceptions. These are the misinterpretations and mistaken beliefs that have run rampant in the author world, giving marketing a bad name and a fearful image. Strap in for a crazy ride. You may just discover a few things about marketing that make it far less foreign and far more familiar to your author creative skill set than you ever imagined. I give to you the 12 Author Marketing Misconceptions, and how to save yourself from the fearful marketing monsters that don’t actually exist. Open your mind and take in the facts about this misjudged ally. You may discover that marketing is actually your partner and an invaluable collaborator in your quest for book sales success.   Devil 112 AUTHOR MARKETING MISCONCEPTIONS MISCONCEPTION #1 Marketing is Evil Believe it or not, I have heard this more times than I’d like to admit. Truthfully, marketing is not immoral or wicked, it isn’t harmful, doesn’t cause misfortune or suffering. Marketing doesn’t have a dreadful character, it isn’t angry or cruel, it has no bad intentions. Marketing doesn’t cause mischief. Marketing will not steal your car. Marketing can, however, help you buy a new car, a really great car with all the bells and whistles. To say that marketing is evil is to unfortunately admit that you have no clue what marketing actually is or how it works. It’s all right; most authors are in that same misguided boat. See, the reality is that marketing isn’t the nasty demon in an author’s life. It is, however, the simplest tool to master and can guide you the heavens…if you let it. Understanding what marketing actually is will help. Marketing is creating awareness of your book. You’re already doing that a bit. You’ve told everyone you know about your book, again, and again, and again. See there’s a difference between marketing and marketing well. You may be marketing with few results because you’re repeatedly creating awareness to the same small audience. It’s time to go wide instead of just Los Angeles rain-puddle deep. Marketing is all about creating awareness to huge audiences— broad audiences loaded with people. If you build a following of these huge audiences and connect with them, you will have marketed well and created wide awareness of your book. SUCCESSLocating these audiences is the creative element of marketing most authors never recognize. The key is not to only look for book buyers or readers, but also to seek out lovers of the unique elements inside your story. Using your story unique hooks leads you to massive audiences other authors aren’t approaching, and that glowing successful sales feeling we all want. Once you’ve marketed well and wide, really nice things happen. Awareness is the groundwork for promotions and publicity. If people aren’t aware of a book, they’re less likely to respond to your promotions and purchased the book. If they’re not aware of your book, they are also less likely to support your publicity. Marketing is extremely important because without that solid groundwork, you’re doing nothing but spinning your wheels, begging the same people over and over to buy your book. That’s just not fun.

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Write Brain/Left Brain: Bridging the Gap between Creative Writer and Marketing Author

 

Finding Author Success 2nd edition

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Cross Marketing Magic for Authors

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PUBLICITY, CHARITIES, AND BOOK SALES … OH MY!

Head Spinning, 1There are so many ways to market a book it would make your head spin. The problem is that most authors only know one way, and that involves heavy competition with other authors for the book buyer’s ear and dollar. It doesn’t always feel that way. We authors gather together for support and safety then without realizing it, we all do the same thing. We reach out to book buyers where we think they are and nowhere else. In that process of shouting at book clubs and people we feel fit into the book buyer description, we’re not only making it harder to be heard above the crowd…we’re drastically limiting our book exposure strategies.

There are more ways to skin a cat, and far more (and better) ways to sell your book! If you’ve read my blogs or books, you already know that the main focus of powerful book marketing strategies leans heavily on your book’s unique hooks. If your book has a dog in it, a dog that plays a big role in the story, dogs are a great unique hook! Reaching out to dog lovers, in addition to your standard, noisy, and crowded book buyer audience, can vastly broaden your buyer base!

Identifying your book’s unique hooks and broader audiences is a topic for another time. Today I want to share a wonderful way to use a unique hook in a BIG way.

PublicityPUBLICITY

Publicity is all about using the media to create exposure for your product. Publicity is about making news and writing press releases that not only have the power to gain a news story or an interview, but also have the oomph to grab some great SEO visibility along the way. Creating relationships with local and national news media contacts can be very powerful for your sales success.

Publicity can be a fantastic boon for authors seeking serious visibility, but it can be much more. There is an avenue of publicity that’s extremely easy to use AND can not only expand your standard marketing audience, but create a strong and loyal following. Every author wants that!

Charity 2CHARITIES

Let’s imagine a few unique story hooks for your fiction. (Remember, if you write nonfiction, your unique hooks are already built into the concepts!) Your fiction might have a dog, or a primary character who has survived cancer or drug abuse. There may be a cool unique story hook that involves cookies or gardening. There are ways to connect with a charity in every case.

dogs, 1Dogs—You can offer a percentage of your sales to the ASPCA. You can support a local Animal Rescue League event by being present at the event and donating a basket (book, coffee travel mug, doggie leash, and doggie treats) for the event organizers to raffle off. You can create an event of your own to support a specific charity. For example, organize a speaking/book signing at a local dog training school creating awareness for the Animal Rescue League, and give a portion of all your sales to that charity. Make sure you let the world know you’re doing these things! Plaster a banner on your website, talk about your ASPCA support on your twitter and Facebook, blog about the events you participate in or create, and be sure to add pictures. Get press releases out to your local and national media about your efforts. Follow dog lovers on your social networks. Post dog photos on your Pinterest and Instigram. Connect with dog lovers; show them you not only love dogs too, but have a great dog in your book…and this all results in SALES. The same can be done with cancer research and drug abuse recovery support.

Cookies, 1Cookies and Veggies—If your book has a cookie lover or avid gardener in it, those are fantastic unique hooks! Look around. Hundreds of people blog about sweets and gardening and belong to Yahoo Groups that focus on those topics. They belong to cooking, baking, and gardening clubs, live and virtual. Seeking out these people for your social network following is a great boon for broadening your book’s exposure, and locating the perfect charity to connect with to expand that exposure is just as easy. For bakeries and gardeners you could support things like the Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, or any organization that reaches out and assists people in need of food or shelter. Let the world know you’re supporting the charity and get those press releases out to local and national media venues.

nonfiction 1Nonfiction unique hooks—These are a piece of cake, too! If you wrote a book about organizing ones life, you might want to support a charity that focuses on mental health. If your book is about Holocaust or 911 survivors, there are many charitable organizations focused on helping survivors. Is your nonfiction about WWII? There are tons of war veteran support organizations that would love your support, AND thousands of people who support those charities that would love your book.

Books_moneyBOOK SALES

People DO purchase a book, product, or service that supports the charity they also support. This is an easy no brainer! I’m going to make a suggestion that most of my marketing author coaching clients always gasp at, mostly because they never though of it themselves. I strongly suggest that you sit down and re-read your own book. You will be amazed at how many unique hook connections you’ve already written there. These hooks can easily lead to charitable connections and a broader book buyer audiences than all of your author friends combined ever reached out to in their marketing efforts.

There is one caveat…be careful not to choose a random charity that does not relate to your book. Many authors feel a strong personal connection with a charity, but it has nothing to do with their book. To use this charity to help broaden your book buying audience will be far less effective than if you choose a charity that directly relates to your story or nonfiction topic. By all means, support your personally chosen charity but do so apart from your book. The key is to create connections with an audience that relates to your book. THAT’S how to create book sales.

Oh My, 1OH MY!

This is a fun, very simple, and creative brain-stretching way to look at reaching out to book buyers. Take a few hours out of your frantic “buy my book” shouting with other authors and try this approach. It certainly can’t hurt you, and it definitely can help a charity that needs support.

Do you have questions about creating connections or locating your unique hooks? Post them here, I’m happy to answer!

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TIPS FOR MAKING BETTER AUTHOR MARKETING CHOICES

Bull 1How many authors are out there, right this minute, trying to sell their books? Hundreds? Thousands? More? How scary is that? Whether you’re about to release your first book or your tenth, it’s more than scary, it can be paralyzingly terrifying. Here’s the bigger question: Are you getting the sales results from your marketing that you’re hoping for? I’m guessing the answer is, no. Never fear, there is a simple solution. All you need to do is make better marketing choices. In my experience, authors have a tendency to latch onto a marketing idea then run with it—and a crowd of other authors doing that same strategy—even if the idea doesn’t really work. It’s like Pamplona in July, only these are writers, racing feverishly with their keyboards under their arms, and unknowingly running from success. But hey, they have each other, right? Unfortunately it always ends up the same, and there’s always blood. It’s time for authors to step away from the competition, be more analytical, and make better marketing choices if they want better results. Here are five tips for how to do just that.   Popular, 1

HOW POPULAR IS THE IDEA? When writers get together, many of them fall in love the same marketing idea. Take free book giveaways, for example. There are several rationalizations for this extremely ineffective marketing sales strategy. There are the authors interested in getting on the top FREE books list. Most authors want to sell books, so that concept completely escapes me. A free book is not a sold book, and you can’t sell a book to someone who already received it for free. Some authors cling to the idea that if they give away a book, it will hook readers into loving their work and they’ll tell everyone they know to buy the book. The sad part about this concept is that the author has forgotten the biggest, most basic marketing rule of all…the rule of perceived value. How much is a free item worth? There’s a reason people say, “You get what you pay for.” It’s not that your book has little value, it’s that the recipient perceives that it has little value. If you have a great series and perpetually give away the first book in that series, it makes sense because the following books are available to purchase, and the free book is an invitation into the series. In that case, the free book LEADS to sales. Other than a giveaway that LEADS to sales, the only books you should ever give away should go to legitimate reviewers. Beyond the free book giveaway idea are a hundred other silly author strategies which include games, puzzles, blasting twitter messages, guest blogging on other author’s blogs, and author book review swaps. Among the worst ideas is the “Lets authors all get together and do something to bring readers to us!” The problem is that these events seldom actually attract book buyers. They do however attract other authors who want to participate and sadly, authors are not your broadest book buyer base. If you want better book sales, it’s time to STEP AWAY FROM OTHER AUTHORS! If an idea is vastly popular and all your author friends are doing it, that’s a clear sign that you should be doing something else—something that isn’t in the dead center of your shouting competition.   worth effort 1

IS THE IDEA WORTH THE EFFORT? COST? TIME? Some authors have deep pockets and they lean toward hiring a service to handle their book marketing. It’s a nice idea, but be careful with your money. Be sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. If a company guarantees that your promotion or advertisement will be seen by thousands of people, find out who those people are. Often companies geared toward book marketing merely pull together a lot of authors, and those other authors are the people most likely to see your ad. Authors are too busy trying to sell their own books to be perusing and considering the purchase of other authors’ books. Ask exactly who will be seeing your promotion or ad and step away, wallet intact, if it looks like other authors are the primary audience. If not and you can afford the service, by all means go for it. Stepping out on your own often means thinking more creatively. Frequently something wonderful comes to town and it can be a huge boon for your particular book, but only if you’re thinking independently and creatively will you recognize these opportunities. For example, if your book is about a circus or has a circus as a major component of the story, look around. Is the circus coming to town? Is the local museum doing an exhibit on circus history? Is there a clown school in your town or city? Local connections are great ways to start testing your marketing ideas. But is this idea worth the time and energy? If the visiting circus has no problem with you selling and signing books at the entry of their venue, you may want to go for it. If you want to set up a speaking engagement at the clown school before or after a public performance, connect with the directors and see how you can make it happen. If the museum will only permit you to set up a speaking/book signing event if you guarantee to bring in 1,000 people for the exhibit…think twice, it may take too much of your time, energy, and advertising dollars. OR…it may help you sell that many more books. The point of all this speculation is that it’s far more effective to strike out on your own, be creative and original, and reach out to people interested in your book’s unique hook—in this case the circus. The question is, is the effort, cost, and time worth it? Only you can determine that. Most times it is. Other times, it may fall short. With good creative efforts and smart time management, it can work really well, expose your book to a new audience, and create more sales than anything you’ve ever done before. Always step back after the event and make sure it brought the results you wanted. If not, decide what you could have done differently or better. If it was successful, schedule the next event with joy and enthusiasm.   Oposite, 1

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED TRYING THE OPPOSITE? If all the runners are running to the right and all the bulls are following them…run left. If every author is shouting at genre lover book clubs, look for the opposite way to reach lovers of that genre. Book marketing is such an abstract concept to authors that they tend to think BOOKS and only BOOKS. But what you should be thinking about is not books, not readers of books, not genre lovers…but lovers of the unique concepts, ideas, and events inside your book. ALWAYS REMEMBER—you are not marketing books, you are marketing A PRODUCT TO PEOPLE. Those people like things. Things like the circus, motorcycles, dogs, wine, gardening, or whatever interesting unique hook is already written inside your book. Marketing is all about creating awareness of your product and making a connection with people who will love your product. Limiting your marketing strategies to just book buyers, genre lovers, and book clubs is like choosing to talk to only the guests staying in one room of a thousand-room hotel. The opposite of what most authors do is to think about the broader target buyer for your product. If your book is a love story between a small town girl and a Harley riding loner and you just market to romance lovers and romance book clubs, you’ve just missed a huge marketing opportunity! Search motorcycles, Harley Davidson motorcycles, bikers, and motorcycle culture on twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo Groups and marvel at the massive audience who love that unique hook. The women who love motorcycles also read and buy books. Connect with them and you’ve just multiplied your marketing audience by thousands. The best part of all this is that there are no other authors trying to get your audience’s attention. Do the opposite. It will always pay off.   New Audiences, 1

IDENTIFY NEW AUDIENCES FOR A BOOST IN SALES We touched on this a bit already. Your unique story hooks will lead you to broader audiences in a marketing strategy that will only work for your book and no one else’s. But think about this for a moment. I guarantee that there is more than one unique hook within your book. There were two in the story between a small town girl and a Harley riding loner. The first one was motorcycles, plus leather, motor cycle culture, biker boots, etc. The second one is small town living, plus gardening, diners, cooking, and coffee. If you think about it, you’ve already written several unique hooks right in your book. Locating the audiences for these hooks is just as creative a process as writing your book, mind you. Search small town living on twitter, Facebook and Yahoo Groups. You’ll discover large groups of people talking about small town life. Connecting with these groups gives you the opportunity to talk about the small town lifestyle in your book. If there’s a gardener or a short order diner cook in your book, search online and located groups of people talking about those subjects. If a hook is biker boots or leather jackets, search out Facebook pages owned by businesses that sell those products and communicate with the followers. Connection is the key to effective marketing. That means talking with lovers of your unique hooks about the topic, NOT begging them to buy your book. Make friends, and never forget to have your book noted clearly in your bio and/or on your email tag for yahoo groups.   Analyze 4

TEST YOUR RESULTS The best thing about identifying and using your unique hooks to locate and connect with prospective book buyers is bigger than just stepping away from your competition for best results. It’s a great way to grow sales steadily between your current release and the next release. So many authors reach for the stars, have a great release and big sales, then suddenly their sales fall off drastically. This is the time to reach out to a new unique hook audience. Gain more sales, watch to make sure the audience was responsive enough then move on to the next unique hook. Writing a book is a solitary creative effort. Marketing a book is a performance art. Testing to see which audiences and efforts bring the best results will help you to continue to make better marketing choices. Better choices lead to better sales.   My final thought for you: if you want to run with the bulls, plan a trip, buy a plane ticket and run with the bulls, not with your fellow authors. Pamplona is far less dangerous. Go and be successful! Questions? I’m happy to answer!  

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5 DUMB THINGS SMART AUTHORS DO

Dumb Things 2Authors are the most courageous, talented, creative, passionate people I know, and trust me, I know A LOT of authors! Somehow these remarkable qualities seem to mutate into a new DNA, like cancer cells, and turn brilliant author minds into backward thinkers when it comes to marketing. I do understand. Marketing is one of those scary places, but the bottom line is the bottom line … sales, or the lack thereof. Authors must market, and this daunting task has split authors into factions and made a lot of them toss up their hands in defeat.

There’s no need for all the drama. Marketing is simple. You locate the unique hooks in your book. You find people who love those unique hooks. And you make them aware of your book. See, simple! But sometimes it’s too simple and authors, being the amazing thinkers they are, tend to complicate it and make everything about the process book-centric or genre-centric. Not necessary and terribly limiting. As I said—marketing is simple. Product + Correct Target Buyer = SALES. If an author wants big sales, it’s all about thinking BIGGER than books or genre. It’s about simple marketing.

Here are the 5 limiting behaviors I’ve consistently seen in smart authors that drastically minimize their ability to make great sales.

 

Procrastination 1PROCRASTINATE – It can wait, can’t it?

Who thinks they should wait until the book is available before they market? Far too many, that’s for sure! Marketing is all about locating the correct audience you want to sell your product to, making them aware of the product BEFORE it is available, and connecting so that the audience is waiting with baited breath.

A good rule of thumb is to begin creating awareness of your coming book at least six months before the book’s release. Six months ahead you should be building BIG following among people who love the unique hooks in your book. Six months before release, you should start blogging about your unique hook subjects, building a website, and keeping your eyes open for unique hook events that might put your book in front of huge audiences who love the things in your book. Don’t procrastinate.

The person who tells you that you can’t sell a product before it’s available is not a person who understands the dynamics of effective marketing. Why are television shows promoted months in advance? Movie trailers blasted long before the film’s release? Simple … they are being marketed to create awareness and build excitement for the coming product.

 

Sorround themselves 2SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH OTHER AUTHORS – Authors buy books too!

Yes, authors do buy books too, but hey, why are authors always limiting themselves to an author based sales audience? I’ve seen authors with thousands of FB followers, all authors, wondering why they’re not selling enough books. The reason is simple. Authors are too busy trying to sell their books to you. You don’t buy every book pitched to you by your author friends, so why do you think they will? Authors represent such a small percentage of possible sales it’s almost insane to waste marketing time them.

Besides … other authors are the COMPETITION. Don’t guest blog on another author’s blog. The blog followers there like the blog owner and will seldom make a purchase of a different author’s book. Also, never let another author guest blog on your blog. Keep your hard earned unique hook followers and fans to yourself.

So, the question is, where do you guest blog? Do a Google search for blogs that focus on your unique hooks. If there are motorcycles in your book, check out all the cool bloggers who talk about biker culture. Ask them to guest blog and you’ll be amazed at the difference. You will have blogged to a huge collection of motorcycle lovers, and there’s not another author in sight! Step away from other authors and seek ways to build following and locate pockets of prospective book buyers based on your book’s unique hooks.

 

Game of numbers 1FORGET THAT MARKETING IS A GAME OF NUMBERS – But I have 1000 followers!

All authors forget the numbers until royalty payout time. “I have a thousand followers! They all said they’d buy my book! I don’t understand. Why did I only sell twelve books?”

Marketing is a simple game of numbers. Period. It’s math, and nothing compromises math. We can manipulate numbers in hopes of justifying a marketing strategy, but in the end, the numbers never lie. This is the truth about numbers:

You can expect a 1% return on your numbers. So, if you have 1,000 followers, that should result in 10 books sold. (The extra two mentioned above came from the author’s mom and sister.) Sobering thought, isn’t it? So, where do you get the numbers you need to make the sales you want?

If you want to sell 1,000 books, you would need 100,000 followers. Don’t faint…take a deep breath…it’s easier than you think. This doesn’t mean 100,000 twitter or FB followers at all. It simply means that you will need to connect with 100,000 people and that’s extremely possible.

Look at it this way. If you build a strong unique hook following on twitter of 5,000 followers…If you have a good 2,000 unique hook FB followers…If every time you blog on your own blog, over 1,000 of your unique hook blog followers view it…If you have joined 3 FB unique hook groups, each with over 10,000 members (30,000)…If you regularly guest blog with 3 unique hook bloggers, each with thousands of followers (9,000)…If you join 3 unique hook yahoo groups, each with thousands of followers (10,000)…If you speak regularly at local unique venues about your unique hook subject (500)…If your unique hook connects with professional people and you join 7 groups on LinkedIn, each with thousands of followers (35,000)…well, I’m sure you’re getting my point.

The trick to getting the numbers you need is not only to stay away from loading your following and focus with other authors, but to connect with your unique hook lover prospective buyers as often and in as many different places as possible.

Want more sales? You have several unique hooks written right into your book. Locate those audiences too.

 

shortcut 2CHOOSE THE SHORT CUT ROUTE – Wow, it’s so much easier!

Short cuts don’t work. Let me say that one more time, only louder … SHORT CUTS DO NOT WORK. Tying to be more efficient is one thing. I have no issues with authors pre-scheduling blog posts, or tweets … my problem comes in the fact that authors who consistently do the pre-scheduling, completely forget to follow up or check to see if the tweets or blog actually happened.

If you pre-schedule your tweets, you’re not there to respond. Granted, you’ll be able to see if someone retweeted or responded to your tweets later, when you get back to your tweetdeck or twitter page but hey … the person who retweeted or commented is LONG GONE. Twitter is all about IMMEDIACY. It’s a constant stream of people, jumping onto the train and jumping off of the train. In order to make connections, you have to be there when you tweet! Connection requires immediate response, not delayed responses to comments that the person has already forgotten about. My suggestion is to tweet for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the afternoon. Tweet only about your unique hook subjects, your blog entry links, and your coming book. Tweet at least ten tweets, one per minute and in between, retweet and comment on those flowing along your twitter stream. THEN LOG OFF. This is good time management. Never get too caught up on twitter, or FB, or any social network.

Another issue on twitter is the “I can get you 10,000 followers” short cut. Guess what … SHORT CUTS DON’T WORK! Who are those 10,000 followers? Are they unique hook lovers? Are they book buyers? Are they even human beings? Are a majority of them one person with a hundred different accounts? Random, unfocused numbers are as bad as low numbers. Make sure every moment you spent on twitter is focused on your goal … to connect with your unique hook followers and have that result in sales!

If you pre-schedule a blog post, PLEASE MAKE A NOTE TO CHECK ON IT! I’ve seen pre-scheduled blog posts not go up, go up at times the author didn’t intend, go up without the photos, and go up with the links mysteriously missing. Make note of the date the blog entry is supposed to go up and CHECK the post! If that’s too complicated, do a Google search for your name and Google will remind you that the blog has gone up. Save yourself some embarrassment, especially if you plan to go out to all your 100,000 connections and tell them to come over to read your blog.

 

Taking Risk 1AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS – But … but … what if it doesn’t work?

Remember, we all learned to use a fork, to walk, to dress ourselves, to choose a subject for our education, to say yes, or no, or look further for the right partner, job, or life choice. Authors are human beings and we try new things every single day. Trust your instincts! Just because no other author has tried a marketing technique, doesn’t men that you shouldn’t. Protect your wallet and steer away from those great advertising packages that feature your book with thousands of other authors’ books. Who needs the competition when you can be visible to thousands of people who already love the unique hooks in your book? Walk your own trail and seek out prospective book buyers who will run, not walk, to buy your book. Be different! IT IS SO WORTH THE RISK!

Are you a smart author doing any of these five dumb things? Which of these bad habits will you tackle first! Got a question, I’ll be happy to answer!

 Write Brain.Left BrainAVAILABLE NOW

 

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