November’s Write Brain event featured Trai Cartwright, a veteran in the entertainment industry, who shared her expertise on how utilize new media to create a personalized marketing campaign. Trai encouraged us to begin thinking of ourselves in terms of being a corporation as we approach this task, and offered key insights into how to effectively find our audience and reach them through a multitude of platforms. I was impressed with how Trai not only offered advice, but also kept a spotlight on the importance of how personal and authentic marketing needs be in order to be successful.
What is Write Brain?
Write Brain sessions are free mini-workshops on the craft of writing, business of writing, and the writer’s life. They are a dynamic part of PPW’s interaction with the writing community, both in Colorado and beyond. We hope you’ll join us! Write Brain is held in Colorado Springs on the third Tuesday of most months. For more information on future Write Brains please visit PPW’s website.
Debbie Lane is your host at Write Brain and provided this recap of Trai’s presentation. Having always been an avid reader, she feels honored to follow in the footsteps of her literary heroes as she now works to become the best writer she can be.
Are you getting FOMO? The Fear of Missing Out by not
being on Instagram? Well if you aren’t using it, you should. It’s the hottest
social media platform out there and the fastest growing. According to Statista,
Instagram now boasts more than 500 million daily active users. That’s daily.
Twitter has only 126 million. It’s
nowhere near Facebook’s 1.5 billion daily users, but it’s gaining, and gaining
fast. And Americans report more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook on a
daily basis these days.
So how do you take advantage of Instagram as part of
your author brand?
Galore & Engage!
Stories are showing the most engagement these days.
Since you are a storyteller, this one is a no-brainer. Tell a story with a beginning,
middle and end. Even if you’re doing a story about pizza (the most common food
pic on Instagram), create the story: the search for pizza, the finding of the
pizza, the eating of the pizza. Anything can be a story.
There are several ways to create the story.
Type is a simple post
with text with creative fonts on fun backgrounds.
Music – add music to
your story by choosing the song on this tab before capturing your video
You can go Live and tell the world what you’re
up to, just like Facebook Live, only this will fade off Instagram after 24
You can do a Normal story and create it with
photos and/or video. Video is only 15-seconds.
a burst of photos that repeats over and over. Like a wave or jump in the air or
opening a book.
– really focus on something and zoom in on it Add music to make it sound creepy
feature just allows you to create video without having to keep your finger on
the record button.
Hashtags Galore & Engage!
are super important on Instagram so people can find you. Choosing the right
hashtags will put you in front of potential readers.
regular Instagram post, I recommend only two hashtags in the main caption. Then
add up to 30 in the first comment. Make a list and rotate your hashtags so you
aren’t stalking the hashtag.
stories, you can simply add hashtags to the Story so people can see them, or
you can add them and then put a sticker or shape over them to hide them.
and engagement are why people are on social media. The more compelling,
interesting, funny and creative your posts, the more people will enjoy them.
It’s important to be a presence on Instagram to make it work. That doesn’t mean
simply posting photos, slapping on a few hashtags, and then ignoring it. This
isn’t a “build it and they will come” scenario. You must engage.
hashtags that represent your author brand, your community, your interests and
likes. Then start liking and commenting on those. Be a presence.
debate in the Instagram world about the effectiveness of your feed these days
with Stories taking off. Tyler J McCall, Instagram Guru and Coach, recommends
feed posts only every other day or so and to concentrate on your Story.
said, your feed should look like your author brand. What is your brand? What
are your themes? The Instagram feed represents the window in the
window-shopping metaphor of people looking to find others to follow. If your
feed is a jumbled mess, then it’s unclear what you’re offering.
other authors in your genre and see what they are posting. Do they have a
celebrities you like. What is their theme?
that’s a certain dominant color. Other times it’s a regular pose, like with a
book reading or playing with the dog. Other times it’s a certain camera angle.
The possibilities are endless, so get creative. Think about your author brand
and the themes and messages in your books. What can you out of those to make
part of your theme?
is the fastest growing social media platform out there. If you are considering
social media for your author brand and you like photos, I recommend jumping in
the Instagram deep end. It’s not as overtly political as Facebook. And it’s not
as time-consuming as a YouTube channel. It’s a fun platform and who knows, you
might even find some new friends.
Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett
Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and I’m going to talk to you
about marketing while you’re writing. I know what you’re thinking: Are you
1667 words a day every day for 30 days is daunting enough, and now I’m asking you
to think about marketing while you’re doing it. Why yes, I am.
Hang in there!
awesome about NaNoWriMo is the flood of ideas that rush in your head while
you’re furiously writing your book. A lot of those ideas won’t make it in the
book, so I want you to write them down.
writing down any ideas you have while you’re in the midst of this windstorm of
fiction will give you exactly what you need to focus your marketing later.
is simply finding a way to reach readers. That’s it. In order to do that, you
need content. Anything you have in a story can be used for your author brand. Drink
the Koolaid because no matter if you traditionally publish or go indie, you’ll
be doing the bulk of your marketing.
Digest hosted a panel at their annual conference in August with publicists from
Hachette and Penguin Random House, and right up front, the moderator said, “All
authors should have a fundamental understanding of marketing.”
not going to get into an explanation of the fundamentals of marketing right
now. I’ll have a post on that after the maelstrom of NaNo is over. In the
meantime, I just want you to be prepared and ready to go.
after you’re done writing for the day, take three minutes and make a quick
note. What burst in your brain today about these characters and the story?
Think about it like a book bible. Simply write down the pieces.
the list below to help you.
Character jobs or careers
Character hobbies or interests
Histories of the town or the people
Minor characters your MC came in contact
with..their jobs and hobbies
Restaurants that appeared in the story
Businesses that appeared in the story
only will this list help you organize your thoughts about the story, it gives
you tons of fodder to develop a marketing plan in December. I’ll walk you
through it. Until then, simply take notes.
Jennifer Lovettis the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett
Marketing—one of the least favorite things a writer needs to do. We have to come out of our writing cave and actually talk to people about our books. They say (and just who are “they”?) you should start marketing when you start writing your book. But how does one do so effectively? I haven’t a clue! Okay, I have a little bit of a clue. All kidding aside, there are several ways to market your book and yourself.
The easiest and least expensive way to market your book is through Facebook groups. There are sooo many groups on Facebook dedicated to readers, authors, and promotions, and a lot of these groups will host events for authors to sell their books. Join them and then start posting your information on your books. Make sure you follow their rules for posting (once a week? Once a month?) and then change it up a bit each time you post within that group.
Make up an ad in Paint, Photoshop, or Canva one week, then post a description of your book next time. Include a link to where readers can purchase the book, and always include a picture no matter how you advertise. Photos draw potential readers in, as social media is very visual. This is one of the things you can do before your book is even released to build excitement and generate interest for your book.
Amazon Marketing Services
Another good way to advertise is Amazon Marketing Services. Starting from your KDP page, select which book you want to promote and follow the prompts. It will ask you the amount you want to spend per click, how long you want to run the campaign, and if you want to customize your ad. I was finished with my ad in under fifteen minutes.
I like to think outside the box, too. Does your book have a theme? Tie in a book signing to the theme of your book! It’s a great way to advertise. For my book Dear Moviegoer, I asked a movie theater if I could set up a table to display my books on an afternoon during a major movie release. You could do the same for a science fiction book, fantasy, horror, etc.
Comic Cons are also a good way to get yourself and your book out to readers, but they could be hit-or-miss depending on the Con. I’ve had some success with big and small ones, but it depends on the type of Con. They’re not cheap, though, and you probably won’t make your money back, but it’s a fun way to sell your book and talk to readers, especially if you like going to Cons anyway.
If the thought of having to talk to so many people makes you a little queasy, see about placing business cards, postcards, or flyers on tables of cafes, bookstores, and restaurants. Ask first, however. You don’t want your items tossed into the trash by the manager.
There are several places to get advertising materials made
inexpensively. I like Vista Print. They always have a deal running for
something. You can get 500 business cards for $10. Look around and see if there
are other deals by other companies. You can always mix and match—get your
business cards from one place and bookmarks from another (though if you want
them to match, it may be better to pick one company).
Marketing is a necessary evil that we writers must do to advertise our books and ourselves, whether we like it or not. Get creative and have fun with it!
Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does Facebook’s algorithm change affect my author page?
Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement on his Facebook page in January about changes in the Facebook algorithm.
“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” he wrote. “I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down.”
What it really amounts to is that Today’s Facebook wants to be the Original Facebook.
I’ve been looking at this for the past couple of months, and it appears that this will affect every author who runs a Facebook Page. The organic reach from those Pages will not go as far as it used to, and it has already been trending down for the past two years. If you depend on Facebook to advertise your books and your brand, you absolutely, 100% must have an ad budget. While you may have gotten away with one prior to now, the new algorithm all but guarantees your content will not be seen without some kind of boosting.
The new algorithm will change your feed to include way more friends and family. You can now actually go in and pick your top 30 friends. It will also limit content from Pages you’ve liked unless they have a high organic rate of engagement – comments and shares.
If you don’t want to pay for ads, you must be deliberate in how you create posts. They must garner comments and shares, and to a lesser degree likes. Live Facebook Video is still money for organic reach – six times more reach than simply posting a video. “Engagement Bait,” which used to be all the rage, Zuck says is now a big fat no-go. So posts with “tag a friend” or “comment below” will automatically go lower on the feed. You can also post a notice on your Page asking folks to click the ‘See First’ button on the page, so they are still getting your content.
Is it worth it to continue to advertise with Facebook? The answer is yes – IF you enjoy being on Facebook. It is still a social media site with well over a billion users, most in the United States and Canada. But I would encourage you to look at new ways to use it. Try establishing a Group – Facebook assumes you want to be part of the group discussion and isn’t limiting those posts as of now. And definitely tinker with live video.
If you don’t enjoy Facebook, it will show in your posts and your engagement. If you are doing it because you think you have to as an author, I would tell you to remember this: you do not sell books on Facebook. You sell your brand. You build a following. How much time do you want to spend building a community of Facebook? If it’s at the expense of writing your next book, I would tell you not to bother.
Online advertising in always in flux. Five years ago I would have told you to have a presence on every site. Two years ago I would have told you to pick two and become very good at it. Now? I advise you to pick one you like and run with it, Facebook or not.
If you ever have any questions about marketing books, please feel free to visit my website and join me on my Facebook Group, Writer Nation.
Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work.
With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
Your novel is written, edited, and published. Congratulations! Now, about that marketing plan of yours… Today Christine Goff shares some valuable insight about marketing your book outside of your hometown while keeping an eye on expense. -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor
Marketing at 33,000 Feet
Promoting a book outside your local area almost always involves planes, trains and automobiles, and usually entails spending vast sums of money that you’ll technically never earn back in a signing.
So why do it? you ask.
There are reasons to go on the road, but it needs to be done with some forethought.
Figure out your goals.
Everyone’s goals are different. In my case, I wanted to expand my audience. I considered doing a bookstore-to-bookstore tour, but I’m not good at sitting at a table and hawking my book. Only certain stores have authors speak. Because of that, I chose to focus on fan conventions and strategic outreach (bookstores in the area where the cons were being held, mailings to specialty book stores, etc.).
My advice, define your goals. Everyone comes at this from different stages in our careers. We’re all after different things. Ask yourself, what do you want to get out of attending? Are you looking for an agent? Do you want to connect with other authors or with fans? Do you intend to promote your latest release? Do you want to make connections in the community? How do you best interact with readers?
Once you have the answers, you’ll find there are hundreds of bookstores and a myriad of writer conventions.
Establish a Budget.
Based on my book advance and my goals, I determined I was willing to spend $5,000 on promoting RED SKY. That included expenditures for swag, giveaways, book signings and conferences. It seems like a lot of money. In truth, $5,000 doesn’t stretch all that far.
Nail down your schedule.
I started locally with a signings in Denver and Evergreen (my hometown). Friends, family and local fans get first consideration. Then I committed to the following: the American Library Association’s Annual Convention (ALA) in June in Chicago, ThrillerFest in July in New York City, and Bouchercon in October in Toronto.
Why these three events? you ask.
In addition to spreading out on the calendar, these three events offered the best opportunity to get my books and myself in front of a lot of people.
ALA – libraries constitute a large market. Who wouldn’t want to see their books in libraries all over the United States? Sisters in Crime (SinC) sponsors a booth, and all I needed to do was sign up for a one hour time slot, giveaway books, and pass out swag.
ThrillerFest – this convention is devoted specifically to thrillers, and its location (New York City) allowed me to meet with my agent and editor.
Bouchercon – this is the world mystery convention and draws the largest number of fans. Plus, because of its location this year, it could introduce my books to a Canadian fan base.
Now is the time to be honest. We’ve all heard of author tours where publishers fly their authors from city-to-city to sign books and meet fans. It rarely, if ever, happens these days. In most cases you will be expected to buy your own plane ticket, pick up your own hotel room, and pay for your own meals. You will also need to contact booksellers to make sure they have your books in the bookstore and order swag to promote your work. The more you can setup and/or do ahead of time, the better.
But, I digress. Extrapolating my costs, I allotted myself $1,000 each for ALA and Bouchercon and $3,000 for ThrillerFest. There was my $5,000 right there and I hadn’t even bought promo materials or factored in mailings, local travel and giveaways. My budget was blown!
The bottom line.
I debated cut out one of the conventions, but in the end chose to forge ahead. All of these were important to me, so I decided to tighten the belt instead. I flew at inconvenient hours, and shared a room.
So how did I do? you ask.
ALA cost me a total of $1,042.19 with no tangible return on my dollars. But that is where the intangible kicks in. I may have only signed and given away 50 copies of RED SKY (which I talked my publisher into donating), but I put hundreds of cards into the hands of interested librarians from all over. Some I’ve even heard from.
ThrillerFest cost me a total of $2,407.55, and I signed a grand total of two books. But, I was able to spend one-on-one time with my editor, my publicist and my agent; managed to get my books ordered into The Mysterious Bookshop; and was on a great panel moderated by David Morrell.
Bouchercon ran $947.87, and I signed a grand total of five or six copies. I also met the proprietor of The Sleuth of Baker Street, reconnected with three other booksellers, attended the Crooked Lane annual bash, and was introduced to a packed room of Canadian readers while sitting next to Peter Robinson, one of Canada’s bestselling authors.
The grand total.
All in all, I spent $4,397.61 promoting RED SKY, leaving me extra for swag, local travel and giveaways. Not bad!
But was it worth it?
Yes. For me it’s the intangible benefits that come from having personal interactions with someone who’s read my book and loved it. It’s the connections made at conventions that landed me an agent, several book contracts, and innumerable high-profile bookstore signings, guest blog spots, library talks and keynote speaker gigs. Through a concerted effort, I’ve upped my profile, generated buzz about my books, and achieved my goals.
Then, just when I thought I could put the suitcase away….
Chris Goff is an award-winning author of eight novels. Her most recent, RED SKY, is an international thriller set in Ukraine and Asia where DSS Agent Raisa Jordan tests the boundaries of diplomacy as she races to prevent the start of a new Cold War. Goff’s series debut, DARK WATERS, wasnominated for the 2016 Colorado Book Award and Anthony Award for Best Crime Fiction Audiobook.
Readers, today we have installment number eleven of Jason Henry Evans’ series on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction. Today he shares book launch marketing, what works and what doesn’t.
OK today we talk about the digital book launch and the things you have to do to make your book financially successful. Now I am going to say some controversial things to say about common ideas about book launch marketing and it might upset you. So this is your trigger warning.
Things that don’t work
Kirkus Reviews. Among the professional writer community, receiving an excellent Kirkus review is a mark of status. It means you have literary chops. It means you have arrived among your peers as a well thought of writer.
However . . .
The vast majority of book readers don’t even know what Kirkus is. They go to Amazon, they look at the section called “Customers who bought this Item also bought . . .” and the peruse titles like the titles they’ve already bought.
Look, if you really want a Kirkus review, go get one! But please do not think this is going to help book sales.
Spamming Private author FB sites or any other sites. Dude. You’re just going to piss people off with this. Stop it. If you’ve been invited into a private fb author group, please know that blasting the same old add about your book is only going to upset people. Besides, why are you trying to sell to other authors? Sell to readers, not authors.
Book launch parties. Unless your Diana Galbadon or JK Rawlings, planning a book launch party should be a fun event to celebrate you. I have gone to these things to be supportive of other authors. Some will buy $400 in hor d’ourves. I went to one where we got free, premium beer! These parties are great and you should have one. But if you spend $600 bucks on a book launch party, how many books will you have to sell to break even?
These activities are about you, the writer, celebrating your hard work. You should do them, if you want to. But disabuse yourself of the idea that these things will help you sell books.
What does work?
Getting reviews. Many authors use a lovely little tome called The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages by Christine Pinheiro. This book is updated every year. (Currently on edition 8) What I love about this book is it has an extensive list of websites that actually give reviews on new books. If you get twenty to thirty of these websites to read and review your book a couple of wonderful things happen.
First, your book is now in front of their audience. These are readers from all over the world who now know about your book. They trust these websites and will probably go buy based off of their recommendations. You now have an audience.
Second, the vast majority of website reviewers will also write a review on Amazon. This is HUGE. Everything I’ve heard from authors is that fifty reviews on Amazon seems to be the magic number. If you can get those from these book review websites, that makes selling your book a lot easier.
Send out a press release to the sixty or seventy sites you want to review your book about 2-3 months before you launch. Actually read the details in The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages of each website so you know when and how to submit your book copy. (Most take digital copies, a small few only take physical books. Do your research.)
Sign up for Instafreebie. This site is for whale readers. (Readers who will read your entire back catalogue.) If you put up a novella, a long short story, or a chapter or two of your novel on this site, readers will download it and read it. Are you getting sales? No. But you are getting publicity. You can even ask that readers surrender their email address before downloading your piece of historical fiction. This helps with your mailing list, which helps with your sales.
Write your next book. I was recently at the RMFW conference and I met author independent David Gaughran. He said something author Susan Spann and others have said before. The biggest marketing tool you have is your next book. Constantly write. Constantly publish. The world is changing and there are readers out there who won’t even consider your book unless you have two sequels out. They want to get to know characters over the long haul.
Writing multiple books, regardless of the genre, will capture your reader and get them to buy more!
Jason Henry Evans: Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.
Readers, today we have installment number ten on Jason Henry Evans’ series on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction. Today he shares marketing tips.
Wow. Ten months ago I said I wanted to do a series of basic how-to’s for historical fiction. While this was originally conceived as an eight part series, it has grown to ten – yes ten blogs – on how to write and publish your historical fiction.
Over this year we have covered:
And a bunch of other stuff.
So now what are we going to talk about? Cover art? How to handle your millions in royalties? Managing the paparazzi in three easy steps? Make-up techniques for television?
Nope. None of that. There is one area we have not covered. It’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room.