Tag: marketing

marketing

Promoting… The All Important P In Publishing

Promotion! I hate it. Some folks may love it. Certainly, most folks are way better at it than I am. So, my question to the MissDemeanors this week was: What is the best thing you’ve done to help promote your book so far? I’ve highlighted some of my favorite bits that I will definitely be exploring with my latest book.   Here’s mine. I had a murder mystery party in my house for The Widower’s Wife. About 50 couples showed up and everyone had a character (most of which I made up). Pretty much everyone bought a book. More importantly, folks had so much fun being part of a mystery that they actually read the book and then shared it with friends. I am pretty sure that each person who came spread the word. At the end of the day, I can’t quantify the sales, but it was fun and it definitely got folks talking.  Michele: The unfortunate answer to this question is I don’t know. That’s because it’s very difficult to tell what works and doesn’t unless you can make a direct connection to your sales. My sense is that marketing my books to people who live in or visit and love the Virgin Islands has worked best. I think that might get filed under “Finding Your Audience.” Susan: I’ve taken part in several Bones and Scones events at the Madison Library, and those are fun because the only people who go are cozy mystery readers. And people who like scones. (This would go to Michele’s point about Finding Your Audience.) In terms of sales, the number one thing I’ve done is take part in BookBub. That causes your sales to jump by thousands in one day. It’s at a reduced price, but if you’re looking to get your name out there, it’s very helpful. Also, Gotham Writers has a newsletter they send out to 40,000 or so people and they’ve been very nice about excerpting my work and promoting it. Paula: It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t, so the best thing is to do is as much as possible. Social media’s critical, and I do a lot of that. I also do a lot of appearances at writer’s conferences, where I sell a lot of my writing books (as that’s where my audience is). Robin Stuart: I second Paula’s advice. Conferences and social media are good for reaching beyond your immediate circles. So is looking for and jumping on every single opportunity to be interviewed, interviewing someone else, and writing articles/blogs on topics close to your platform or premise. If you’re not already a member of organizations like Sisters In Crime and Mystery Writers of America – do it now. They both offer opportunities for volunteering, panel appearances and organized events to raise your own profile as well as that of your books. I’m also a fan of creative promotions, like our Miss Demeanors webcam covers. Since I write what I know (cyber crime) I have “names” in the cyber crime fighting community ready and willing to help out with promotional ideas and opportunities, too. Basically, book promotion is self-promotion. The key is to throw shyness out the window. Believe in your product (you) and leverage your communities, be they personal, professional, local or international. It’s all fair game and the only limits are your imagination. Tracee: I think I agree with everyone! Particularly on the it’s hard to tell what works issue. I’m with Paula that you have to delve into social media, but I keep looking for the sweet spot – meaning how much and how targeted. I wish I could do it as well as Steve Berry. His social media posts are consistent and reflect the focus of his books – thrillers set around a historical topic. When he is gearing up for a launch the posts focus on historic facts/places/items of interest surrounding that particular theme (for example, tie in to the Templars for the Templar Legacy.) When he’s not gearing up for a launch the historic topics range a bit further but keep the interest of readers who like the history angle. It’s targeted and informative. I think it is a success. I’ve not been as creative as Cate with her mystery party but I do think that in-person helps. I liken it to politics. When you are a new candidate (or a known name going to the next level) you have to meet people. Hopefully these people become your strongest supporters (fans) and spread the word. For me, that means getting out and about: bookstores, libraries, local groups, in person or Skype book clubs and, of course, conferences. I also think these outings are energizing. Meeting readers and talking about books is why we write! I always think what would Paula do/say? She would likely remind us all that the MOST important thing we do is put time into writing the best book we can. So I suppose that’s the scale upon which I weigh the other marketing activities. Have to do them, but don’t let them become all I do. Alexia: My publisher’s sales are mostly online so I’m working on “building my social media presence”. I’ve got an account on nearly everything except Reddit, although I have varying success in keeping up with all of them. I blog, which is not something I did before I had a book deal. (And, honestly, wouldn’t if I wasn’t an author.) I seldom say no to interviews on others’ blogs or podcasts (even though I think my recorded voice sounds weird). I also go to as many conferences as I can afford to/arrange time off from work for. A lot of my book sales are made at conferences, both on-site and to people who meet/hear me and buy later. Conferences help me improve my networking skills as well as sell books. I’ve made contact with people who’ve offered me guest blogs, interviews, and book blurbs. The next time I see a movie or TV show that depicts an author leading the life of a hermit, never connecting with anyone but their inner muse, yet still selling books, I’m going to track down the script writer and bop them over the head with my calendar. (Not really, because I don’t advocate violence but you know what I mean.) On the plus side, I made enough trips this year to get my United frequent flyer status upgraded to Silver. If I ever win Powerball or Mega Millions, I’m hiring a publicist. Alison: As a yet-to-be-published writer, I know where to turn in 2018 when I need advice! I have to admit, it’s not something I’m thinking about yet. (Alison, book mark this blog. I learned a lot from our fellow MissDemeanors.)  

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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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Reviews: To Read or Not To Read

My third thriller, Lies She Told, launched Sept. 12 and the reviews have been coming in fast and furious. Last I checked, there are about forty-five on Amazon and 470 reviews/ratings on GoodReads. There are also reviews on Instagram, which I am learning about and just started obsessing over.  And I am reading all of them.  Why? The true artist might ask. The book can’t be changed now. As long as I feel good about my work, what does it matter what other people think?  There are a couple reasons that I read nearly all my reviews. The first is that, like any insecure creative, I must know what people are saying about my brainchild and, by extension, me. I’m as bad as any high school girl with a new haircut. I’ll pretend that it doesn’t matter if the popular kids think my bangs are cute because I like them, but I desperately want the validation.  The far more important, non-ego-centric reason that I read reviews is because they are the second part of the conversation that I initiated with my imagined readers when I started writing my latest novel. I told a tale intending for particular themes to emerge and for my characters to resonate in certain ways. I put in twists and turns that I crafted to be believable red herrings. I aspired, above all, to entertain. Now the readers get to react. I have to listen to their interpretation of the story. I need to know what I succeeded in communicating and where I might have fallen short.  Crossing my fingers that I’m in for a good conversation. Do you read reviews?   

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Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!

In a now famous meme-worthy speech, Steve Ballmer argued that tech-focused Microsoft needed to switch its attention to monetization. Advertisers! Advertisers! Advertisers… Baby! I think of Microsoft’s former CEO now that I have a book coming out in September and must shift focus from writing to promoting. Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book! Baby!The truth is that the skill set required to sell anything is very different from the talents needed to create realistic characters caught in an intriguing set of circumstances. And, to be honest, I lack many of the attributes necessary for the former. You know those folks who could sell ice to an eskimo? I’m not sure I could sell water to a sandhog.  But, promotion is increasingly a requirement for writers. Gone are the days when you wrote it and the publisher sold it (except perhaps for the big names we all know). Now there are blogs to write, email lists to engage, reviewers to court, blurbs to request. This is the writer’s new normal. Write the next book while promoting the current one. Repeat.  I’m not complaining. I’m just mentally adjusting to my reality. Most importantly, I AM LEARNING. Over the weekend, I was on a panel with Eva Lesko Natiello, NYT bestselling author of The Memory Box and former marketing expert at Estee Lauder. She told me how she applied some of the marketing strategies from her prior life to promoting her novel. One of the genius things she did was to go to the beach with her book and engage sunbathers buried in other novels–with a TV crew behind her. Ballsy and Brilliant! So, if you see me wandering the beach this summer, you’ll know why.  Writer friends, what are some of your marketing strategies… or are they too good to share? (PHOTO: Arthur Mongelli, Harvest of Ruin; Cate Holahan (Lies She Told, Widower’s Wife), Nancy Star (Carpool Diem; Sisters One, Two, Three), Eva Lesko Natiello (The Memory Box).)    

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