Friday, June 24, 2016

Three Ideas to Promote Your Newly Published Book -- by Rachel

I’ll be honest. I’ve only launched a book once, so I’m not a fount of wisdom on the subject. But since my book launch I’ve been taking notes from every marketing class I’ve attended and article I’ve read on how to do it with a little more pizazz next time. So I have picked up a few ideas which I’d like to share.

Throw a Book Launch Party

Gather some local attention by throwing a party for your new book. Publish an invitation in your local paper. Now if you live in a major city like I do, that might be a stretch. But there are always smaller suburban papers and neighborhood newsletters. Ask nearby libraries and bookstores if they’ll let you put a notice as well.

Pull in additional publicity by getting the backing of a local organization. Does your story feature an abandoned dog? See if an animal rescue center will advertise for you. If you give the night’s profits to their charity, not only will they probably do it for free, it will draw pet lovers who want to give to the cause as well. Is your main character a chef? If your town has a business that offers cooking classes, they may be willing to host your party for a small charge, and they’ll take care of the advertising.

Make it fun. Have appetizers, wine and activities. Throw in a reading and a door prize. Circulate and get to know the visitors. There you go. You’ve created some local buzz and added a few readers.

Throw a Launch Party on Social Media

 Have a party on your Facebook page, Twitter or other social media platform of your choice. Advertise well in advance. This might be one of those times it might be worth it to pay for FB promotion. Ask your friends and fellow authors to forward the invite, and do what you can to get people talking about it.

On the day of the party, you’ll need to be available during the hours you’ve set. It’s good to set a fairly long window so people with work and family schedules across national time zones can make it. Invite guests to ask questions they’re curious about or to contribute to the discussion. But have some set topics in reserve to talk about that will be of interest to your readers – sneak previews, interesting stories about your writing and research, quirky trivia. One Titanic novelist I know of assigned guests an identity when they showed up. They’d learn a little about the person, but would need to show up at the end to learn their fate.

To keep guests interested in showing up, you can give door prizes randomly throughout to people who are logged in. Some prizes might be small – bookmarks or trinkets. Other could be larger. What qualifies as a large prize depends on your budget. I’ve heard of authors giving away everything from a $50 dining gift card to a Kindle, even a vacation package to the book’s locale.

As people log in, their social media friends will see the buzz going on, and might be exposed to your book. Additionally, those who are already interested in the book will show up and will get a little more pumped, thus being sure to buy as well as to talk it up to their friends.

Find a tribe promote your book, especially just after it releases.

Your tribe is a small group of people who love your books. You might choose from people who have written to tell you they love your writing or simply send out a call on your blog or page asking for enthusiastic readers who would be willing to talk up your book. If this is your first book, getting help from fellow readers or your blog followers might be the ticket.

Your tribe is tasked with selling your book wherever they have influence. Do they have a blog about books? Have them write a review. Talk it up on social media. Request that their local library and Barnes & Noble carry it. Suggest it to their reading club. And on. So obviously, the more influence they have the better – that is, having a tribe member with a blog readership of 10,000 or a hopping Facebook page is helpful. But you have to start where you are. Getting anyone to talk up your book – even if it’s just friends and family or the local librarian – is good publicity.


  

Friday, June 17, 2016

FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Newsletters by Christine

I’ll be honest, I can write books, but I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to marketing “said” books. 

Forgive the casual way I slap up my book lineup every chance I get. 

But through talking to my writing friends, those with the greatest marketing success purchased ads in the following places:


There are other great places to advertise, but when I chat with my peers the above organizations create the most buzz. Ads with these groups are expensive, and as in the case of Bookbub, hard to get your book chosen. The reward of getting your name and your books out to thousands is well worth the money though---if you have an advertising budget.

And there’s the rub—not all of us have that kind of money.  

Like many other authors I’ve had to rely on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and newsletters to market my work. And like I’ve said before, my rise to fame---muttered with a humble smirk---has been a slow one with many starts and stops and with practically zero dollars spent on advertising. Here’s what I’ve done to increase my readership slowly but steadily over the years.

Facebook

I personally find Facebook to be a natural, easy way for me to communicate with friends, family, and readers. It suits me, but I recognize that it’s not for everyone. My dear writer friend Elaine Stock prefers Twitter.

Whatever social media you prefer, it’s important to post frequently and to respond to others. Because FB fits me better I tend to respond to others quite naturally. I’m not so good at responding on Twitter, and I feel badly about that. But oh well…I’m not going to beat myself up about that.

I have two FB pages, my personal one that is open to family and readers, and my Facebook Author Page. This past year I’ve purchased a few ads with FB, mostly through boosting significant posts, such as when my latest book Sofi’s Bridge was released. I have found the cost of this to be moderate. By setting my limit to what I can afford—often around the $30 mark—I find the ad reach to be moderately successful. I do believe that my FB add success will increase as my number of followers increases on my author page. Again, this is one of those areas, that in my case grows slowly, but naturally. I don’t believe in “friending” everyone with the hopes they’ll friend me back.

I’d say the biggest reward I have using Facebook as an author is that this enables me to be a real person with my readers. This is where I can interact with them, and get to know them.

Twitter

The only success I’ve had with Twitter is when I ask other authors with bigger
accounts to Retweet my posts. Whenever this happens, for sure I get a bunch of Tweeters checking out my blog posts or my books, but I find it hard to interact on Twitter. Whenever I work with a network of other Tweeters, it’s great, such as my belonging to
Christian Authors’ Network and we retweet for each other. So far I have not used the Twitter advertising, but will probably test that out soon.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to flagrantly advertise. No one seems to mind on this site if you don’t go back and comment—no one does that anyway, but your pics will get shared. I find as many places on Pinterest that allow authors to post their own books. Again, not sure how successful it is, but it costs me nothing and it’s easy. Here are my boards to give you some ideas https://www.pinterest.com/clindsaywriter/

Newsletters

My newsletter officially began about a year ago, and in that year the number of my subscribers has increased by 30%. I’m encouraged by that number. What I’ve noticed though is that my newsletters seem to become an extension to my Facebook interaction, a deeper way for my readers to follow me “officially”. 

Here is my latest newsletter.

This first year getting my newsletter up and running, I’ve played around a lot with the look of the letter to find what is going to attract people to read the entire letter. I’ve been offering draws with each newsletter to win a copy of one of my books. As of my last newsletter I have also been offering a free ebook of my novella Londonderry Dreaming. This is a wee bit expensive for me, but at this stage of my career this gift enables me to connect one on one with readers in a positive way.

If you have read any of my previous posts on my writing career, you’ll recognize that I’m like most other authors. I find it difficult to be constantly trumpeting my name and my books. It goes against the grain. I’ve learned though that this aspect of the writing life cannot be shrugged off. We must do it, and with God’s help we will be good stewards of the business He has given us.

Yet…even so, I tend not to act aggressively in my marketing attempts. It just doesn’t feel right to be aggressive as a Christian author. That may mean less book sales and a slower growth in my career. However, I have seen the Lord gently come in and do something to increase my readership that I had no control over, especially when I have been unable to take advantage of the larger advertising groups.


I trust the Lord with my career, and He has been gracious in opening it up at exactly the right time.FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Newsletters by Christine

Christine

Friday, June 10, 2016

Marketing Like Your Favorite Novelists -- by Rachel

I’d studied the writing blogs, so I knew when my novel released it was time to get busy. I lined up guest blogs, interviews and book reviews. I advertised on every social media site I could think of. My new website was up and running and I’d had a personal blog going for a few years. I spoke of the book to everyone I came across. I even hawked my book at a nearby fair. You want platform, I’d give you platform.
After a few months, I was exhausted. My introverted self felt raw after all of the exposure. And despite some great reviews of the book and a ton of five star comments on Amazon, the book hadn’t soared to the bestseller list. Actually, while it definitely had some fans, it hadn’t picked up a lot of notice at all.
I wondered why I’d signed up for a writing career in the first place. I had a busy life with a full time job and a family. Who had time for all of this marketing, which by the way, was definitely not my forte? Marketing had taken so much of my time, I’d forgotten about the joy of writing fiction. Because of course, I wasn’t writing fiction. I didn’t have any mental energy after all of the marketing was done.
I began to study some of my favorite novelists and surveyed what they’d done as far as platform, and the answer was surprising. Almost nothing.
They all had websites of course. Lisa Samson started a blog, but stopped, saying the blog was stealing the creativity and time she needed to write. Dale Cramer and Athol Dickson blogged, but were invariably inconsistent, sometimes going a couple of months without a post. Davis Bunn’s blog posts were regular, but were strictly announcements about his book events and reader praise.

Sure, most writers did online interviews and some guest pieces when a book came out. They did a few bookstore signings around the release and a few scattered speaking engagements in between books. But they focused the bulk of their time on what they were best at: writing amazing novels.
Because they were single-minded and purposeful about their fiction, they had output. They improved their craft. They built a readership.
No press in the world will help you if you’re not writing new material, right? Can you just resign from marketing? Of course not. But like the experts, you can confine yourself to a few intermittent things that have the best odds of garnering attention, and leave the bulk of your time for writing novels.
In the end, most novelists are not natural social media experts, bloggers or speakers. We create story worlds and characters. We play with words. We edit what we’ve written until it’s the book we’d want to read. It’s what we’re good at and it’s why we do what we do.
For most novelists, the first book in print doesn’t make a huge splash. Over time, with each new book, they gain new readers. They build reputations. Many household names started off small and their name grew. Donald Maass says, in fact, that getting five books out there with regular timing and consistent quality is the magic bullet.
So this is the best marketing advice I’ve got, as backwards as it might seem: write more, write better.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Beware of Burning Yourself Out---by Christine

It is hilarious that I am writing this post late---it should have been published this morning---due to the fact that I am once again dangerously close to burn out. 

Life happens. 


The bane of the writer's career though, is that when life happens we often feel it is an interruption to our writing time.  Oh boy is that backwards, and it took me a long time to learn that. 


Nothing is as frazzled as a writer who is itching to get back to his/her manuscript or much needed marketing tasks and a friend is unexpectedly hanging on the doorbell. Think Bilbo Baggins and those infernal cousins of his when he wanted only to finish his tale, There and Back Again


But here are a few home truths:



  • If you say no to your family and social invitations too often, you lose the freshness of real life, and the lack of that will show in your writing.
  • Worse still, you will increase the depth of your burn out for a longer period of time.

Rachel has already given some great suggestions for your mental and physical health while writing. Today I want to encourage you that when "LIFE" happens, and you have no other option but to put your writing aside for a season, to not be disheartened.


My writing career has developed in a uneven pattern of starts and stops. The times I've had to stop have been when one of my three adult children have got married, or I started a new day job, or selling my house, or a loved one became ill. 


When these things happen to you, do not try and write during these seasons. Set your writing aside and trust the Lord to bring it all together at the right time. 


These past 6 months have been a whirlwind for me. Starting in January I had edits to do for my non-fiction book Finding Sarah Finding Me, while at the same time arranging marketing and writing reams of blogs to promote the May release of Sofi's Bridge. Just as Sofi's Bridge was published my husband and I decided to renovate our home and put it up for sale. At the same time there were preparations to make for my youngest son's wedding in June, and I also held down my part-time job and started the process to take on a second temporary part time job. There was nothing I could do, but get my marketing tasks to a certain point and then leave it. And there was certainly no time to write another book or even attempt to. 


When life happens:



  • Admit you can only do so much.
  • Do what you can, and leave the rest to the Lord.
  • Trust God that your writing career is in His hands.
I found over the years that He is so faithful. While I didn't have time this past month to answer every blog comment, or be on social media as much as my writing peers do when they have a new release, I've been blessed to see the Lord multiply my small efforts in promotion of my latest release. Sofi's Bridge for example won the April Clash of the Titles.

My point is, don't just let life happen and growl that it is hampering your writing career.

  • Embrace your life, the good and the bad.
  • REST physically
  • REST mentally
Here are some portions from Ecclesiastes 2 to ponder.

My heart took delight in all my labor,    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done  and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun....


What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.



A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Christine




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