Tag: bookmarketing


The Business Part

While I can’t vouch for its veracity, the story that Charles Dickens invented the book tour when he started reading–performing–A Christmas Carol in 1853 is a nice one. According to lore, no other major author had read his or her own work to an audience before. I don’t know about you, but that seems like entrepreneurial spirit to me. Over a century later, most of the English-speaking world can’t imagine December without his ghost story. It  is undoubtedly a great tale filled with iconic characters and important questions about life choices. Maybe we’d all be reading A Christmas Carol even if Dickens hadn’t stepped onto the stage of City Hall in Birmingham . . . and maybe not. Once you’ve got your galleys and/or ARCS, you’ve got your pub date, and you’re waiting for the actual books to be printed, what are you supposed to be doing? I’m sure with a little googling and some emails,you could secure a stage in Birmingham, but if that’s not your scene, what do you do?  Work on your next book! (Yes, Paula, I hear your voice in my head.) Take my–and your–agent’s advice and keep writing the next book, but you aren’t done when the last book is out of your hands. As much as many writers wish that a writing career were just writing, there is that pesky “career” part, too. Like with the writing bit, everyone approaches the career bit in his or her own way, but approach it one must.  Glenn J. Miller posted some great advice on the Career Authors website yesterday. (Yes, yesterday. There must be something in the air.) His advice is actually so good, I’m going to suggest that you check it for yourself. Miller advises writers to do three things to get their career going: (1) Create an author platform where people can find you, (2) Write three compelling, related books, and (3) Find fans who love the work you do and delight them.  These three simple steps are an ideal way to organize your thinking, but flexible enough to accommodate whatever works best for you. Step two is all about the writing, but steps one and three aren’t. Since my own first book is scheduled to be released this August, I’m hardly one to be doling out advice on the topic, so I won’t. I do know that there isn’t just one way to create an author platform any more than there is one way to write a compelling book or find readers who will love your work. So, I’m spending real time now devoted to finding my way to meet these goals. I’m not quite sure how, yet, but I can tell you I have ruled out reading on a stage in Birmingham.    

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You've Written the Book. Now What?

Drum roll. Here they are, as promised, ideas from critically-acclaimed and award-winningauthors about what they actually do to bring their books to the world. (No, I wasn’t able to get Lee Child’s thoughts on the subject, but I have a feeling his advice would be something like, “drink coffee and write.” It works for him!) There are DIY ideas and thoughts on hiring a publicist. I love Robin’s word “authorpreneur.” Reading what my fellow Miss Demeanors have done is motivating. I came away with three principles to follow as I embark on my own path to pub date:   (1) There’s no harm in trying anything and everything, (2) Do what makes you happy, and (3) There’s a difference between pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and doing something that is a bad fit for you. Learn to distinguish between the two. Please, take your time and read their advice for inspiration. Maybe there will be an idea that works for you. Susan: One of the benefits of working for Gotham Writers, is that after a book comes out, they set me up for all sorts of Gotham events. So when Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency came out, I spoke to a very large crowd at Bryant Park. Of course, I was giving a lecture on character, but I made sure to include lots of references to Maggie Dove. That’s my favorite type of promotion, when I can combine talking about myself with talking about something else. I’ve also loved appearances at Scones and Bones at the Madison, NJ library because everyone there loves cozies. I did hire a publicist for my first book and I paid a ton of money and was named one of More Magazine’s book of the month, which was fabulous, but I also spent my whole advance on that, and I’m still not sure I got my money’s worth. Of course, I absolutely love twitter and Facebook and have connected to so many people that way.  Paula: My favorite advice for PR and marketing comes from Glenn Miller, book marketing guru and founding member of Career Authors. He says you should find the strategies that work for you, the ones you’ll actually do consistently, and do them. This is basic brand building for you as an author. Then you can supplement your efforts for every book launch: work with a publicist, hire a social media manager, do ablog tour, etc. For me, this means Twitter, Facebook, and events. Like Susan, I prefer events where I’m talking about something else and to get to slip in references to my books occasionally. The debut of the first novel in my mystery series comes this fall, where I’ll be doing supplemental things as well for the launch. Mostly this means I’ll do whatever my publisher wants me to do. Starting with Instagram, which totally goes against the grain for me in that I am not a selfie person. Live and learn. Tracee: I agree with Paula. We listen to what our publisher wants; however, at some point we each have to develop what works best for us. Some social media doesn’t feel like the right fit at first, then you find your own way of using it, or simply get comfortable and keep going. I do like being in front of real people – partly because I think you get feedback or at least a reaction. A Well-Timed Murder just launched Tuesday and I’ve been in bookstores in Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky so far. In Little Rock I had the great pleasure of meeting the B & H Book Club in person – a follow up to our Skype chat last year. That was a lot of fun, to talk to readers you’ve developed a relationship with. It’s the same with the amazing people who work in the bookstores. Every time I visit a store I hear about other authors and new books, and when you see that “Staff pick” sign by your own book it’s a nice adrenaline rush. We couldn’t do this without them! Michele: First, do treat yourself to a splash of a launch for your first book. It truly is a once in your lifeexperience. Find what social media you can work best and stick to it. I started with Facebook, added Twitter, and am now easing myself onto Instagram. I used a book trailer for my first book because I knew readers who love the beauty of St. John would be drawn to it. I’ve done blogs, interviews, appearances at libraries and bookstores. But what I am convinced works best is the age old advice. Write a damn good book. Here’s a photo from my book launch for No Virgin Island, where mentors Hallie Ephron and Hank Phillippi Ryan celebrate with me. Robin: My nonfiction books were published by small presses who did zero on the publicity front so it was all up to me. The first book also preceded the ubiquity of the Internet thus there were no social networks. Still, I am the daughter of parents who were both involved in advertising and PR when I was little and I guess I learned creative self-promotion without realizing it. I turned promoting that first book into something of a career – I had t-shirts made of the book cover then took those to the largest industry conference of the year. I sought out the big “names” and gave them t-shirts. I’m actually kind of shy but I forced myself to talk to EVERYONE which is how I met magazine editors who remembered the shirts, thus the book, and threw freelance work my way. One of those people contacted me to co-author the second book. Living in a major media market, I also called radio and TV stations until I got on air on a local morning television show. Eventually a sports-themed startup contacted me and I ended up teaching for a couple of years which gave me a platform to sell more books. At its peak, that first book cracked Amazon’s top 100 ranking in its niche-within-a-niche category. Even though it’s now out of print it’s still in the top 500 and being sold as a collectible. The second book, still in print despite being almost old enough to vote, is currently ranked #371 in its category. Apparently, I do okay at the authorpreneur thing. I can’t wait to tackle promotion in crime fiction so I’ve already started by jumping in and volunteering to speak at conferences as a cyber expert, and connecting with other authors on Twitter and through organizations like MWA and Sisters in Crime. Cara Black just let me know last week that she thanks me in the acknowledgements for her next book, coming out this summer. Cate: I am still figuring out the publicity thing. I agree with Michelle’s advice of write a darn good book. Word of mouth does a ton and if the book isn’t great, people won’t talk about it. I think identifying influencers on Instagram and Amazon, and then offering them ARCs or free copies helps. If they like it, they give it a good review that then their 1,000 to 50,000 followers read. I think being paired with the right books on Amazon makes a difference (though I don’t know how to do this). I observed that The Widower’s Wife was lumped with two best sellers from Harper and Penguin on the site. I guess people who bought the latter two books were also buying mine. It gave me a tail wind to ride (those other two books had a ton of marketing behind them coming from a larger house). The Huffington Post also helped with the Widower’s Wife because they picked it as a book to read if you liked Big Little Lies. I don’t know how it got their attention but that was a Hallelujah moment. I am still hoping for something similar for Lies She Told but it’s been more difficult because I think there aren’t as many books that it easily compares to. That Hollywood pitch thing: It’s like Game of Thrones, in outer space! Or it’s like Big Little Lies on a cruise ship works, as trite as it may seem.    

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10 Bookstagrammers To Know

Bookstagrammers are the life blood of the social media book community. Found on Instagram under the hashtag #bookstagrammers, these literature-loving individuals read, review, photograph and spread the word about books that they love (and, sometimes, hate). Some wonderful bookstagrammers even supply casting recommendations for films.  At last count, there were 1.36 million posts by #bookstagrammers on Instagram. Here are some #bookstagrammers any thriller or mystery author should know.   BookSugar. Maria has more than fifty thousand followers on Instagram, which means a ton of exposure if you make her must read list. This Canadian book blogger’s tastes range skew literary (Jane Austen, anyone?) but she does include the occasionally mystery, thriller, or suspense novel on her list. Wendy Walker’s Emma In The Night made the list recently. Crime By The Book. Bookstagrammer Abby started out with a cup of coffee and passion for thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels. Now she has 47,000 followers (and growing) and a major book marketing career! Though she works for Dutton, the opinions on her blog and Instagram account are her own. Her reviews are insightful, well-explained, and sought-after. She also clearly knows where to get the prettiest cups of joe in the city.     SuspenseThrill. Avid bookstagrammer, blogger and reviewer Chelsea Humphrey had 4,588 Instagram followers as of Nov. 7. She’ll probably have more before this post runs tomorrow. She is a top reviewer on Goodreads and her blog is followed by English-speaking mystery and thriller fans the world over. On top of all of this, she takes some beautiful book cover shots.  Texas Girl Reads. Texas Girl, Sarah, sure does read. A book or so a week, by my count. She also takes visually arresting images of the suspense novels and mysteries that she loves and shares her heartfelt reviews on Instagram. Sometimes, she’ll share her kids’ favorite picks too. She shares detailed reviews on Instagram, where she has 1,044 followers, and on her blog.   GareIndeedReads. Gare is a dedicated bookstagrammer that not only reads a new book seemingly every few days, but also provides in depth reviews on Instagram and on his slick, professional blog. On top of this, he also casts many of the books he reads, sharing his vote for the Hollywood stars he could picture playing parts of different characters. The photographs of the books that he takes along with his reviews, and the images of the celebrities that he sees starring in the one-day-film version make for some visually arresting book evangelizing. He has over 750 followers. (I also had the pleasure of meeting him at a recent book event and he’s a very thoughtful reader and all-around friendly person).    Kourtney’s Bookshelf. Kourtney is a dedicated mystery, thriller and suspense reader. Her Instagram and blog often feature new releases in the genre.  When she likes a book, this Texas girl will not only photograph it and share with her 1,676 followers, but she’ll often include favorite quotes from the novel.    Oh The Book Feels. You can truly feel the book love from this #bookstagrammer. More than 66,500 people follow this Kansas City reader’s Instagram account–and it’s not difficult to see why. Carmen’s photos are composed like works of art, which isn’t surprising given her book library.  She also has a cat that occasionally graces her posts, and knows how to pose perfectly on a book shelf ladder.   Angie’s Bookshelf is another thriller and suspense #bookstagrammer to follow. According to her brief bio, this avid reader of thrills and chills loves wine, coffee, music and books, which you know means she’s part of the thriller tribe. (Thriller writing and garage bands go together. Check out any conference for verification). Angie has 579 followers and a taste for travel, as evidenced by this beautiful book shot.  Who wouldn’t want to read whatever novel she put against that beach?  Prose and Palate. The alliteration in the name alone should tell you this #bookstagrammer appreciates thoughtful writing, and it shows in her Instagram posts. Stacy has more than 4,680 followers and a penchant for thrillers, historical fiction and Southern fiction. She takes beautiful photos and has a vintage typewriter that often peaks from behind the pages. She also is a regular Book of The Month Club judge and has the collection of coolest coffee mugs around. Check out her Instagram to see what I mean.  Books The Thing. Erika has nearly 1,000 followers (979 and growing as of this writing) and loves a good mystery. She reads all types: cozies, psychological thrillers, Agatha Christie-inspired, Sherlock Holmes’ updates. She also loves a good female sleuth, as evidenced by this post on her blog.    

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Marketing Mania

One of the worst parts of publishing a book, in my opinion, is marketing said book. When writing, I feel in control. I know the target length for my novel. I know roughly how to tell the story that I want given the desired word count and deadline. I know whom my characters are and the kind of things they would realistically do. I can figure out how to handle edits and I feel relatively confident in my ability to change the story given my editors’ and early readers’ suggestions.  As a journalist for over a decade, writing and editing are familiar to me. Marketing is anything but. What should I do in addition to the online blog tours that my publisher sets up? How should I spend my personal marketing budget?  Ads on Facebook or GoodReads. Effective or no? And, if I do buy them, how much should I spend and what target audience should I select? Should I fill up my gas tank and travel to area bookstores? If so, which ones? Should I pitch articles tangentially related to my book or discussing the research that went into it? And, if so, what publications should I target and why?   And, given that all this takes an incredible amount of time, how many hours a week should I spend on these types of activities at the expense of writing/editing the next book (due Oct. 1).  I don’t know what the right answer is. But I can share what I’ve done so far… I’ve written over 12,000 words of blog posts, articles, and interviews for online publications related to thriller, suspense and mystery novels. I’ve also written thousands of words in pitches to local publications to cover various events related to the book.  I’ve spoken at a handful of libraries and had a book launch at the esteemed Mysterious Bookstore. I am also combining with a local realtor to do a reading at an incredible house with a ton of reading nooks.  I’ve tried to respond to every message on GoodReads and on Instagram related to the book, as well as thank evert reader who enjoyed the novel and recommended it to their followers. Note: I don’t know who any of these folks are before hand. On Instagram, folks tend to tag the name of the book or the author, so I find out who read it and what they’ve said simply from the shoutout/tag. I’ve sent my book to people and production houses that I think might be influential–if they even bother to open the unsolicited mail.  I’ve done some radio interviews.  I have worked out pitches for articles for three national publications and am executing on said stories.  I have done giveaways on GoodReads and through blogs.  I have (and am) blogging I am annoying all my friends by posting way too much on Facebook about Lies She Told.I’ve continually asked anyone that mentions the book in another venue to review on GoodReads and Amazon (and Barnes & Noble too, if they should be so inclined).  Reviewing is caring.  I’ve visited indie bookstores that may be unaware of my book with media kits and offered them books to sell on consignment.  And I still don’t feel like it’s enough.  Any marketing suggestions would be very much welcome and appreciated. What has worked for you?     

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