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MARKETING ME! TEN TIPS FOR MARKETING THE AUTHOR … THE PRODUCT BEHIND THE PRODUCT

Golden Olden Days 1Back in the golden olden days, big publishers handled authors like movie stars, and dealt with their publicity and marketing with savvy and boatloads of cash. Authors never had to worry about where to go or what to say to get news about their book out to the public. It was all done for them. Publicists and promotional teams provided itineraries and scripts for their authors.

We no longer have this kind of guidance, and few have the funds to hire publicists and promotional experts. These days, authors are responsible for taking ownership of their own marketing, whether they’ve self-published, contracted with a small or mid-sized publisher, or signed with one of the big boys. It’s just the way of the world.

Confused 1When I talk with authors all over the country, I hear the same question. Am I marketing myself, or am I marketing my book?  The implications of this question vary depending on the author. Some feel a need to be secretive and unapproachable, while others believe that their book is the only thing worth talking about. Still others feel they have the responsibility to share their opinions (well thought out or not) at every turn. Opinions are good and often valid, but does this action serve you and your career?

Let’s make this simple.

Yes, you MUST market yourself … and you must market yourself in the best way possible in order to build a successful career as an author. There are ten basic rules to always remember, and they stem from those simple lessons we learned in nursery school.

Be seen 1BE SEEN – Be sure your website and blog is polished and updated regularly. Be visible for a few minutes every day on your social networks like twitter and Facebook. Notice I said a few minutes, not hours. Make it fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the afternoon and that will be enough. Talk about your book’s unique story hooks and connect with your prospective book buyers and fans. Don’t hide, be seen.

Be availableBE AVAILABLE – Participate when your writing group needs you. Get involved with groups and organizations – live and online – that connect with the interesting things inside your book. Be available to speak or sign books when asked by the local gardeners club, or the neighborhood women’s club as well as the book clubs and traditional genre fan clubs. When the local gardeners club, or any group that connects with the unique hooks inside your book, is running a charity event, volunteer to help. Be available.

 

Be Caareful BE CAREFUL – Remember, enthusiasm is great and your opinion is valid, but don’t overstep your boundaries. Protect your work by keeping your little secrets, but be careful to keep another author’s little secrets too. Think before your speak, tweet, Facebook, or email.

 

Be PoliteBE POLITE – Always and everywhere, be polite and appropriate. Just because people on twitter have never met you, doesn’t mean they won’t remember if you’re impolite or unkind … or that they won’t pass the word. Being polite always pays off in the long run.

 

Be Better than Good 2BE BETTER THAN GOOD – As an author, as a marketing person, and as a human being, it’s best to know your weaknesses and seek improvement. Setting your ego aside and striving for improvement with your craft and your image, is often the catalyst for gaining great respect in any industry.

 

Be ObservantBE OBSERVANT – Know what’s going on in your writing group or your unique story hook community. Know what’s happening in the publishing industry, which changes almost daily. Keep your ears tuned in to shifts in the market. If your fan base is shrinking or expanding, you’ll know how to market to that audience for your next book. Even if your last book was a great success, without being aware of market shifts, you could be caught with your hands deep in your own empty pockets with the next book. Always look ahead and read the market predictions for book pricing, genre interest, and industry standard shifts.  Be well informed. It’s a big part of marketing yourself as an intelligent author, as well as a great storyteller.

Be CuriousBE CURIOUS – Ask questions when you can. If you get an opportunity to speak with a successful author, a literary agent, or a publisher, use the time wisely. Ask intelligent questions, and then think the answers through carefully. This is how to guide your career to the places you want. Listen, learn, and always consider the sources. Are they bias? Are they really answering your question, or guiding your mind elsewhere? Is that online resource always reliable? You’re smarter that you think. You’ll learn what you need, and discard the unimportant information. Your common sense is a stellar tool.

Be Professional, 1BE PROFESSIONAL – Always be professional. Be careful what you say and do, people are watching. Take pride in being an author and all of your accomplishments. Hold your head high and do what the real professionals do … turn negatives into positives, and focus on your goals.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABE SUCCESSFUL – Be successful every step of the way along your career. Even failures teach you something important about getting where you want to go. Complaining and pointing fingers, even if the accusations are valid, doesn’t appear professional to those watching. Slice the negatives from your life and move ahead, knowing you’re doing the writing and marketing work required to meet your goals. It’s a no-brainer.

 

Be Helpful, 1BE HELPFUL – Pay it forward in a good way. So many teachers, writers, authors, editors, beta readers, organizations, fans, and friends have helped you get where you are. Reach back and give another writer a hand up. Give them a chance to shine.

 

That’s how to market yourself well! You’re the product behind the product. Keeping yourself as polished as your writing is the key to making sure that your marketing strategies never hit a snag in the road.

Write Brain.Left BrainAVAILABLE NOW

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Cross Marketing Magic for Authors available in print and ebook

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Writers

For over six years now, I’ve been coaching authors and working with writers in live and online workshops. I teach them how to be more successful, how to gain more book sales and how to negotiate the world of marketing, promotions and public relations. I know, I know, the thought of marketing is like having to eat vegetable you don’t like or do 20 minutes on the treadmill – all necessary, but oh how we hate it. Unfortunately, I sometimes get the brunt of an author’s frustrations over having to do what they don’t like.

Over these years I’ve noted patterns that appear in every place I speak, in every workshop I teach and with every author I coach. I thought it might be helpful to share them with all the writers I know. Here are the 5 things I’ve learned about writers.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW WHY – No matter where I am or what kind of writer I’m talking to, this question always comes up. Why do I need to blog? Why do I have to tweet? Why do I need a website? This list can go on forever, but only a clear understanding of how marketing works helps them understand. What I’ve come to realize, is that the question WHY is usually an umbrella covering a plethora of other things, some related to writing and being successful, some completely unrelated. We writers are a stubborn bunch. We have to be. This is a tough industry to break into, survive within and ultimately find success. When a writer desperately wants to have great book sales, it’s often time to set our stubbornness aside so we look for the solutions. As a coach and workshop instructor, it’s my job to discover what that WHY is all about. Usually the question isn’t so much WHY but more like “Why do I have to do it?” The author in question may be working two jobs, meeting publishing deadlines, dealing with kids or well, simply stubborn. The answer to the big WHY question is painfully simple – because EVERYONE has to do it. The basic techniques of marketing are tried and true and have been for centuries. They are as true for you as they were for Andrew Carnegie.

  • You have a product
  • Your are in a competitive industry
  • You must make your product stand apart from that competition
  • You must make the public aware of your product
  • You must promote your product
  • And you must grow and maintain sales for that product

No one writes a book in hopes that no one will know about it or buy it. The basics of marketing are important and everyone with a product to sell must use them.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW IF THERE’S A SHORTCUT – Oh what a great question and I totally understand why a writer would ask. A shortcut to work gets us there faster or helps us avoid traffic jams. A shortcut at dinnertime, like prepared foods, take-out and a dishwasher, saves us valuable time in the evenings. We are programmed to look for shortcuts. Time is finite and everyone on the planet gets the same 24 hours in any given day. Looking for shortcuts is expected … but shortcuts –  like auto twitter and auto Facbook post programs, and blogs that announce themselves on every other social media you use – not so much save time as limit your capacity for creating impact. Short cuts don’t work when marketing, in fact I’d go so far as to say they never work best when marketing. So many times an author will write to me after taking a workshop and say that they’ve done all the things recommended but received little to no response. After some exploration I always unscover that they’ve taken these handy-dandy shortcuts. Yes, they’ve saved time but what they’ve unfortunately done is become so automated, their tweets, Facebook posts, and blog announcements LOOK like a machine did them. All those sparks in their social media circles are flat, without personality and unfortunately, without true marketing impact. Because marketing is a living, breathing thing, it lends itself to being brilliant … but only when backed by a human being. By all means test all the shortcuts. I suggest you test them one at a time then take a breath and do it all again without the shortcuts, using your personality and style. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes! Using shortcuts and saving time but gaining little to no sales is just … foolish.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW HOW TO FIND THE TIME – This one too is painfully simple. There are so many things a writer does in life, everything from taking care of family to valiantly protecting their valuable writing time. Finding the time to do everything means biting the bullet and making a plan, a schedule, a check list, a reminder buzzer on your cell phone, a kitchen timer … ANYTHING IT TAKES to be efficient. This requires good time management skills and discipline, but have you ever known a successful person in any field who doesn’t have good time management skills and discipline? Everyone’s time management style is different, but only those who master it actually get everything done.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW HOW TO STAND APART – It’s a dog-eat-dog publishing world out there, crowded with books and shouting authors and dwindling distribution points. Whether you are published by a big, small or medium publisher or self published, and even if you’re a writer just finishing your first book, the question has always been, “How do I stand apart from everyone else?” You did it with your writing and wrote a book that no one else could write because it came from your unique mind. Now it’s time to take that powerful creative gift and use it for marketing. So what happens? So many authors find themselves moving with the crowd they had hoped to stand apart from. This happens ALL THE TIME. Take a look at any author’s twitter following or Facebook friends and you’ll discover that the majority (and sometimes ALL) of them are other authors. I think this is based in fear – fear of tooting our own horn, fear that without other authors around us we’ll falter, fear of … well … success. It makes sense to have lots of authors around us, but it doesn’t make sense to completely surround ourselves with our competition. Shuck off the fear and reach out to readers. Who are the people who would buy your book? Time to make twitter followers, Facebook friends, and Goodreads friends with them. I always tell writers that the best ratio is 2 fellow authors for every 8 prospective book buyers. This is how to stand apart, take steps away from the competition and market to your fans and prospective book buyers.

WRITERS WANT TO KNOW HOW TO TAKE THIS FURTHER – Once an author strategically reaches out to prospective book buyers and creates fans and sales, something wonderful happens. It clicks. Fireworks go off. The light has come on for them. One small taste of success makes them hungry for more! They discover that this marketing thing DOES WORK and it doesn’t take all that much time, especially if it’s carefully targeted and efficiently implemented. There’s basic marketing and there’s advanced marketing. Taking an author’s marketing to the next level with cross marketing techniques and platform expansion skills becomes easy. Having reached this part of the success adventure, authors are starting to think like marketing people by revisiting their back list to build sales, creating promotions that other authors never think about, in venues other authors don’t use, and speaking to book buyer in places other authors never dreamed of. Taking it further really only take one thing … eliminating the very first WHY hurdle.

Write Brain.Left Brain

AVAILABLE NOW

 

Finding Author Success Second Edition available in print and ebook

Amazon print, Amazon Kindle and B&N

Cross Marketing Magic for Authors available in print and ebook

Amazon print, Amazon Kindle and B&N

 

 


True Marketing Power for Authors: NEW Book Buyers are Hiding Inside Your Manuscript!

It’s fabulous to have a book published, no matter how it’s published. There’s the thrill of seeing it available on Amazon or on a bookshelf, there’s that excitement when you sign the book for someone, and it’s so much fun to watch the books sell and sell.

But guess what? Right on the tail of your book launch at least a thousand other books are being launched, a huge percentage of them in your same genre and going after the same reader who buys your books. What’s an author to do? After the first blush of success, it quickly fades and most authors resort to harder pushes on twitter or facebook or silly gimmicks like giving away free books or dropping the price of their book to less than a buck. It’s time to face facts, every book faces a crunch time where it feels like the author can make it or fail miserably.

So … how do we solve this dilemma? It’s so simple it might make your head swim.

  1. Locate your secondary markets
  2. Plan early
  3. Implement without fail
  4. Enjoy your success

Yes, that’s it. Four little steps and I’m going to help you organize your plan so that it will run smoothly and efficiently. And guess what? If this is done right, you’ll never have to watch your book flood into the market for Free or .99!

LOCATE YOUR SECONDARY MARKETS

Where are your book buyers? I’ve asked this already several times during this blog series, and I’ll be asking it several more times before we’re finished.

I want you to imagine yourself as a General. You’re in charge of winning the war and in order to be ready for the battles ahead, you need a strong strategy. Whether you win the first battle or not, you still have a whole war to win, so planning is critical.

Your first offensive line as an author is to follow the standard procedures. Announce that your book has been released. Reach out to your genre readers through twitter, facebook, blogging, guest blogging, blog tours and book clubs. This is the first blush of success I mentioned earlier and it is a thrill, but it dies out soon.

The difference between you and all the other authors out there is that, as a good General, you have an entire set of strategies for your second, third and forth attacks.

No matter what you’ve written, fiction, non-fiction, YA or a children’s book, you must have these secondary strategies ready and waiting for the next battles ahead.

As an example, let’s imagine you’ve written a romance or romance subgenre, an urban fantasy, high fantasy, mystery, cozy mystery, science fiction or women’s fiction. There is one strong and very broad target for your books that takes your marketing strategies beyond the standard first-blush targets. That is simply … women. Where are women? They are everywhere. A vast majority of them read books, are not a member of any of the book clubs you’ve already approached, and they gather in places other authors aren’t thinking to approach.

To strategize a plan of attack for reaching this very broad general target, you need to slip away from the normal book selling and promoting marks, lift your head and look around. Nurses are women. Mothers are women. Home cooks are women. Bike riders and palates classes are filled with women. Dental assistants are women. Women are EVERYWHERE. Don’t be like some narrow minded authors out there who can’t see the forest for the trees. Do any of your friends or neighbors belong to a sewing or scrap booking group? Is there a ladies auxiliary group in your neighborhood? How about a walking club or weight loss club or cookie club? How many of these groups have online activities? Food or cooking bloggers? Skiing clubs? Swim clubs? Anywhere and for any reason women get together can be a vast target for this secondary approach.

Another direction to go for finding broader book buyer targets is to look inside your manuscript. Dissect it, examine it. Stay close to your manuscript not only as you write the book, but after the book is out in the world. You’d be surprised how many authors I work with have basically forgotten many of the subtle elements inside their own manuscript that can possibly prove to be great directions for marketing. Pick up tour book and READ IT AGAIN. Take notes. Is there something in there that can fit perfectly as a new target marketing goal for sales? Is the main character a baker or gardener? Do they have a food preference that comes up often? Does the book touch on an illness or have an underlying story arc that explores travel or sailing or mechanics? Every one of those elements you originally put into your story to add color or roundness to your characters can easily become a powerful direction for marketing.

Next week we’ll be covering how to approach these new secondary markets, but in order to do any of that, you must identify them! That’s why it’s the first step for developing growth potential for your book sales. Take a few hours, review your own book and list every possible secondary market inside the manuscript, as well as every place you can locate these target book buyers.

PLAN EARLY

Before your book even comes out is the perfect time to seriously plan your strategies. Never launch all your strategies at once. Start with the standard book launch approach, then after a few weeks, launch your next attack, then your next then the one after that. Watch how your book is selling. When things start to quiet down, be the General and get your strategies into play. Never try to do too many different approaches at the same time. Two is about the limit if you want give it your full attention and gain the best results.

The most important part of your plan is testing the results. By watching your sales and comparing it to your activities, you can see quickly if a target is responding or not. If it’s too quiet for too long – two-three weeks – step away and go another direction. Without understanding what works and what doesn’t, you will be spinning your wheels and the goal here is to be enjoying success.

IMPLEMENT WITHOUT FAIL

Now that you have our plan and know your secondary targets, there’s a big thing you must remember. You can’t tell if a strategy is working or not if you don’t implement it fully. This is vital. If you choose to approach women through live groups, email groups, online groups and blogging, you can’t simply start, get bored and drop the ball. It happens easily, trust me, I’ve been there. There are a thousand distractions in an author’s life. There are new books to write, family and friends to socialize with, houses to clean and bills to pay. When you find yourself at a point where you’re losing interest in a new target approach, ask yourself this question. What did it feel like the day your book was released? Regain that enthusiasm and excitement and remember … the new target you’re going for knows nothing about you or your book. It’s all new to them, so it must feel all new to you too and your enthusiasm must shine through!

Remember to learn from every target you approach. Tweak your strategies like a real General and use those variations for the next attack.

Your plan should include no less than twenty new targets that reach beyond the standard author marketing approaches. If a target proves successful, find ways to expand it. For example, if your main character knits and you’ve discovered that knitting groups, live and online, are responding, take it further. Reach out to stores that sell yarn and inquire about any knitting groups they might know. Contact specialty yarn and knitting needle online stores and ask them if you can write a weekly column, or at least advertise your book on their website. Be sure to tell them how many knitters love your book, perhaps even send them a list of the reviews. What you’re looking for is a way to get MORE of the same sales success with a target that is proving lucrative.

Have fun with this. Don’t stress or go nuts over it. Never forget that the average author is sitting at their computer panicking over why their book sales have fallen off and offering free copies or .99 books just to try to build their numbers up. Of course, you can do that too, but why not play in the areas nobody else has even thought about looking at? Enjoy the ride. Be the General! Don’t sit back and wait for failure to crush you, be proactive and go out and win as many battles as you can.

ENJOY YOUR SUCCESS!

If you’ve found your secondary targets within your genre and manuscript, if you’ve done your planning well, if you’ve implemented your strategies joyously and without fail AND kept records so that you can determine which targets are worth going deeper with and which are worth discarding, you can’t help but find sales success. Manage your time carefully, approach no more than two new targets at a time and remember to keep up your momentum and enthusiasm. Just as energy breeds energy, success breeds success!Questions? Please post them and I’ll be happy to answer.

Next week we’ll be talking about HOW an author approaches and maintains a new market effectively. 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!