Category Archives: Author Tools with Balls

Authors! Three Tips for Keeping Your Marketing Momentum

How do you keep the MARKETING love alive? We authors have a massive load on our shoulders! We have to work to pay the bills, take care of family, socialize occasionally with friends, write books and … Dum dum daaaaaa … promote and market them too. It’s a lot to ask of anyone, but asking an author who is basically creative to suddenly become an analytical and business-like person is sort of like asking a dog to be a cat two days a week.

Guess what? We have to do it anyway.

I’m sure you’ve all faced the dilemma of starting some kind of marketing strategy for your book and discovered that after some time (a few days or weeks or months) that fantastic strategy has sort of fizzled out. What’s an author to do? We don’t want to start from scratch but we can’t just stop marketing and promoting or demand for our next book will be next to nothing!  Catch 22? Nope, it’s just time to put on our thinking caps again.

Creativity is creativity and if you look at marketing and promoting your books as part of the whole creative process – rather than look to what other authors have done and try to imitate that for success (i.e. giveaways, FB ads, book marks and imprinted mugs) – you are sure to find the perfect formula for success that works for you and your book.

The reason most “tried and true” marketing strategies fizzle out so quickly is that they are basically overused. The prospective book buyer has seen them a thousand times. The key to keeping your marketing push alive, well and hopping is to keep it moving like a good boxer with great footwork.

Here are three tips to reboot your marketing efforts that won’t take a ton of time or energy, just a little creativity.

TIP NUMBER ONE – FIND A NEW ROUTE

It’s the ugly truth – your book is in the same genre and tapping into the same market as a thousand other books. You do what the most successful authors are doing, at least you try, but it always falls flat quickly.

This is a simple study in looking the other way, or in this case, ANOTHER way. I’ve always found that if everyone is taking a particular freeway at a particular time, it’s easiest on my gas tank and my nerves to simply take a different freeway.  Apply that to your marketing and everything gets a whole new light.

For example, if all the authors are slamming away on the newest trick of the day … giveaways or contests or scavenger hunts … you need to look at doing something they are not doing. In fact, this works best if it’s something they never even thought about doing.

Consider creating a high visibility promotion that includes publicity: a walk for cancer by zombie book lovers (in costume of course), or blood drive where vampire authors donate blood and attempt to reach a goal of a certain number of donors in a limited time. This kind of publicity gets noticed and if you are the author who created it, it also has long term positive ramifications as you move ahead in your writing career.

Have you thought about doing an event at a nurses group or meeting of the local garden club? Trust me, nursing and gardening aren’t all these groups talk about or all they do. These people like to read too. If you offer to do a reading and Q&A at a meeting of the local women’s club, they might jump for joy. These organizations are always looking for interesting subjects and speakers for their meetings. And while every other author in your genre is pounding away, trying to give a way a free book on twitter, you’re signing a selling fifteen or twenty books at the Ladies Auxiliary meeting right in your home town.

Looking elsewhere is always a great way to keep your sales hopping. When you go back to the regular grind of twitter and facebook, you suddenly have some really fun and interesting experiences to talk about.

TIP NUMBER TWO – CHANGE THE ODDS

Ever been to Vegas? Even if you haven’t, you know the odds and what they mean. If Dan Brown writes a book, everyone buys it. He has all the odds in his favor, a big publisher, extraordinary talent, high visibility thanks to his wonderful marketing and publicity experts, and fans by the boat loads. How are we supposed to stand against all that?

Simple. Change the odds. For example, even if your book touches on similar subjects, has a similar story and similar characters, SOMETHING about your book is different and extremely unique. The only way to battle something as formidable as the Top Ten Best Sellers of the World is to find your hooks and make sure they’re sharp.

Is your hook the unique character traits? Use them. If your main character is a cigar expert, you need to tap into the cigar industry. If s/he is into vintage clothing or fine whiskey, there are two more audiences. The magic of changing the odds falls under the category of cross marketing. If you can cross market your book to music teachers or coffee lovers or the home building industry because your story and primary characters are connected with that subject, you are tapping into a new market.

Here’s the kicker, it’s not only a new market to connect with, it’s the same market Dan Brown is tapping into. He’s just doing it as the author of a few best selling books. You are stepping into that arena as the author of a book that fits the reader’s personal interest. You’re doing this without an expensive publicist or big publisher, you’re doing this as you. AND it really does change the odds because now you can sit at the same poker table with any author in the world. Stepping into this cross marketing arena also feels and looks different than how all the other authors are trying to market, so it’s a great freshener for your strategies.

TIP NUMBER THREE – LOOK OUTSIDE

When you want to do some marketing, where do you look? At other authors, of course. It’s a great place to look, right?

Wrong.

Yes, other authors are doing what authors do and I’m not telling you to stop doing the tried and true marketing techniques. I’m simply suggesting that you look outside the publishing world for interesting and powerful ideas.

Did you notice a slogan on the passing exterminator’s van that caught your fancy? A billboard that used just the right push for the product? A radio or television campaign that you can’t forget. Marketing and promotion is going on all around us and there are some fantastic approaches to the market just outside the publishing world. Don’t have narrow vision, lift your head and look around.

If you take a week and keep a small note pad at your side, you will find yourself observing and jotting down cool ideas from all kinds of products and services. These concepts impressed and intrigued you. They sparked your imagination and made you smile. All you have to do is think them through and see if one of those kinds of approaches will work for your book. Maybe you can’t do a teaser promotion on the radio like you heard for the new Tide with bleach … but you can do something similar with teasers in your blogs, on twitter or facebook. If the fun event to raise money  for your local zoo can’t exactly work for your book, perhaps there’s an element of that event that you can implement for your own marketing.

All I’m suggesting is that you can seriously impact your marketing approach if you just step away from the computer screen and look outside. Marketing is happening all around you! Get influenced by some of the best of our time.

So, there you go. Three tips for keeping your book marketing momentum alive and vibrant. Give them a try and let me know what you come up with!

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Tools with Balls: Software for Serious Writers

Note from Deborah Riley-Magnus – I’m not usually one to endorse products on my blog, but there are a few amazing tools coming onto the market designed to help writers write and organize, manage SEO and understand the shifting literary market. I think this is the place to share them. Welcome to a new blog category – Tools with Balls – where we can explore a few neat weapons for success! In the case of My Story Writer, I had taken the challenge, downloaded the free sneak peek and promptly asked Lara Wells if she’d like to share her thoughts with my blog buddies. Here’s what Lara had to say.  

I never thought I’d use writing software. I know as well as any writer that when it comes to writing, there’s no “magic bullet.” No book you can read or class you can take or software you can use that will make writing stories effortless, but it would be wrong to ignore the fact that there are tools out there that can help to make the process of writing more manageable. 

My Story Writer was created by a software developer for his daughter, a writer who wanted a tool that would help her writing – not to write better but to get (and stay) organized throughout the writing process. 

I was asked to take a look at My Story Writer this past summer by a friend of my husband’s in the hopes that I might have some marketing ideas for the software. I’ve been in marketing for more than a decade but was very skeptical as I downloaded the trial. Two hours later I wondered how I’d ever planned a story without this tool. 

The argument I often hear about writing software is that it’s just another way for writers to procrastinate. I agree. As writers, we are true masters at procrastination. We have a gift for finding something else we need to do when we should be writing. The options are endless. 

The other snappy comeback I see when someone asks for a recommendation on a good writing software product is: “Shakespeare (or insert-any-other-famous-writer’s-name-here) didn’t need writing software and you don’t either. You just need to write.” If you carry that logic ahead we should all be writing by candlelight with a quill pen and a pot of ink. Shakespeare (or insert-any-other-famous-writer-name-here) also didn’t have a computer, spell-check, or the Post-It note – all of which I could not live without. 

Writing shouldn’t have to be any harder than it already is. 

As for me, I’m currently working on revisions for a memoir I never thought I’d write (I’d so hoped it would be a novel) and I’m playing around with two other novel ideas that are swimming around in my head. I’ve got three of what I’d call “practice novels” to my credit – one first draft and the others at various stages of revision. I learned a lot from writing them but don’t believe any of them are salvageable – and I certainly don’t have enough passion for any of them at this point to see them through to the finish line. 

In my writing, I’ve always struggled with structure and that’s the problem I’ve had with the memoir. Even after writing the first draft and undertaking a major revision (let’s just call it a complete rewrite), it still felt to me like a series of events and not a story. I wrote the first draft and the rewrite before I knew about My Story Writer but have been using it on the current revision and can’t believe how much it’s helped me to visualize what I have for each scene – and more importantly, see what I was missing. 

My favorite tool in My Story Writer is the wizard. In addition to the New Story Wizard, there are wizards to help you create characters, locations, events and even items. I wasn’t sure how helpful the wizards would be for me since when I started inputting my two story ideas I had such limited information, but the wizards helped by taking these story “nuggets” then and asking the questions I needed to have the answers to write the story. What’s the story crisis? Where does the story take place? When does the story take place? What happens at the end of the story? Of course I didn’t have the answers to every question in the wizards but it planted the seeds of these unknowns in my head so that I could be thinking about them. Not sure the color of your protagonist’s eyes? Maybe it’s irrelevant and will mean nothing for your character at all, but what if it does? Or it could? 

But what I think is the greatest thing about My Story Writer is that I have everything in one place

Like most of us, I need to maximize the time I have to actually sit in front of the computer and write. By having everything in one place I don’t waste time searching for a character’s name or random trait that I wrote down here somewhere. (Good luck finding that on my desk.) And not only is everything I need captured in one place it’s organized around each story which is great when you’re working on more than one project at the same time. I’m currently playing with two different novel ideas and not sure which one will be my next project so I’m researching and exploring both of them. 

My brain isn’t into linear processes so even as I’m trying to work out ideas for one story, I’m constantly coming up with something for the other – whether it’s a character detail or a plot point or line of dialogue. With My Story Writer I can easily jump between stories and capture all of my ideas –  even links to the websites I may need to reference again. Everything is right there so there’s no searching through the multiple folders in the Writing folder in My Documents to find a document I think I saved. 

I don’t write science fiction or fantasy but am in awe of the writers who create not only a story, but an entire world in which that story takes place. When your locations aren’t as simple as Colorado or Los Angeles I don’t know how you’d keep it all straight and consistent without a writing program. 

The future of My Story Writer is exciting, too. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve to software and here are two new features we’re working on:

  • Collaboration – With the new collaboration functionality you’ll have a way to easily work with another writer or writers on the same project. This will also make My Story Writer a great tool for writing classes or groups to be able to share not only a manuscript in progress, but also the planning that’s going on behind the scenes – like character development and plotting.
  • Marketing – We’re undergoing some major enhancements to the Marketing tab which currently focuses on the query letter process to include planning for the post-publishing marketing efforts that often starts long before that first query letter is even sent out.  (Thank you to Deb Riley-Magnus for her feedback and insights into how we could improve upon this to offer a true publicity tool.) 

As what it means to be a writer evolves, so will My Story Writer. It’s meant to be a companion to you throughout your writing journey – whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned writer. So share with us how you work and what you need to make your writing days easier. There’s never going to be a “magic bullet” when it comes to writing, but I’ll take any tool that makes the process more manageable.

My Story Writer writing software brings technology to the creative writing process so you have a structure for organizing all of your writing projects. You bring the ideas – or use the brainstorming functionality to create some – and My Story Writer delivers a way to control the writing process the way you want to – from conceptualization of your story idea to the day when you submit your manuscript for publication. You can try out the software with a free 15-day trial. (http://mywritingsoftware.com/FreeTrial/tabid/139/Default.aspx

Lara can be found on Twitter (@mystorywriter) and on the My Story Writer blog or via email laraw@mywritingsoftare.com

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