Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't Sell Yourself Short

Marketing: Part 1

You have an agent. You have a publisher. You don’t need to market your book, right? Wrong. Even if you are with a large publishing house, you need to market your book. Or if freelance is your gig, you need to market yourself.

I was chatting with another writer online the other day. She wrote: “I can’t market my book. I don’t know where to start.” She was talking about the fact she had a contract for her very first novel and was learning that she had to do some of the marketing if she wanted the book to be successful. It’s a tough lesson to learn.

I assured her she was already doing a great job at marketing. She was. She had pitched her story to an acquisitions editor, provided the publisher with written materials, told me about her book, and shared on Facebook that her book was accepted for publication. That’s marketing.

Of course there’s more. For Breathing on Her Own I am trying everything I can think of doing. Chip MacGregor, a highly respected literary agent and advocate for writers, uses a baseball analogy in talking about marketing. In baseball, batting .300 is a good percentage. It means a good baseball player may strike out or get out approximately two of three times at bat. You’ll want to read Chip’s blog if you are serious about writing. ( A return on thirty percent of my effort is good? I can live with that. It simply means not everything I try will work. I can’t put all my heart into one strategy hoping my ad/quote/news release or whatever will go viral and make everyone in the country buy my book.

Taking Chip’s advice, I’m trusting that I need to do everything I can to promote my book. I may try ten different things. If three of them work, I’m batting .300…as good as a big league hitter!

The argument I’ve heard from some authors is to pick only those areas where you can do a good job. True. You only have so much energy. But you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Consider enlisting the aid of others to do those things you feel ill equipped addressing. And remember this: What may work for one book may not work for another.

For today’s post, I’m going to briefly describe five strategies I’ve employed to promote Breathing on Her Own. I’m also sharing a few of the pitfalls so you can hopefully learn from my mistakes. Next week I’ll share five more.

Social media Word of mouth is still the best way to get people reading your book. Social media is a piece of that. Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a host of other social media sites, people are connecting with one another. And reconnecting. You can share your writing activity with your friends via social media. That’s good. One word of advice: Don’t dominate the conversation. Don’t make it all about your book.

A writer friend recommended I use a media management system to plan, schedule, and send out messages to my social media accounts. I provided a series of entries about the book. Unfortunately, every post I wrote went out to every group to which I belonged…every day….multiple times a day! I was inadvertently “spamming” my friends. I apologized. I learned how to remove some of the entries. I took charge of the media management system to better manage my posts!

But remember what I said about word-of-mouth? You know you are meeting with success when you aren’t the only one spreading the word. I’ve had people share my Facebook status with a note about how they know me. It’s great to see a “tweet” retweeted. But my favorite? When a person I didn’t know, contacted me to speak for a group because she heard about my book through a friend who heard about me through Facebook and had read my blog.

Book Launch- I know there are a number of people making use of a virtual book launch on Facebook. I have never had that explained to me fully and couldn’t wrap my head around it, so I had an old fashioned launch a couple of weeks after the book was released. Since I don’t know what I’m doing, I am having a second launch in Ohio in June. My story takes place in both Ohio and Florida so to me this makes sense. Maybe the second is merely “an event,” but I’m calling it a launch.

How does having thirty to forty people celebrate the beginning of a book help market it? For one thing, those people talked about it. A lot. Following the event, I had several people asking me about the book and some tell me they were getting it.

I had a few books available for purchase at the launch. In each I put a piece of paper telling the recipient how they could help promote the book. One of those strategies was “buy a book and donate it to your church library.” Two weeks later, a woman who had attended the event did just that. She purchased one of my books for her church library. She attends a mega church. There is a potential for hundreds of people to read my novel. Does that promote Breathing on Her Own? I think it does. People who had never heard of me will read the book. Some may want a copy of their own or a copy to give as a gift. Some will recognize my name when my next book comes out.

One woman let me know after the event that she put the book up to her book club. (another of the recommendations made on that half sheet of paper) They were all going to read it and leave reviews. I met a neighbor the other day who recognized my name and said, “You’re the one who wrote that book, aren’t you?” People talk. I am a people person. For me, a launch made sense.

Another reason I wanted a launch is that I wanted pictures. I wanted evidence the book was real and people really knew about it. That may sound silly, but to me it was a credibility piece.

Bookmarks- I wanted to have something to give away at the book launch. This is one of those areas where I needed help. My daughter, Danielle, is good at designing anything on the computer. She made my business cards. I called on her skills and talent once more. And she came through. The cool thing about the bookmark is it is a visual reminder of the book. She put a QR code on it and my contact information. And it’s useful. I may consider carrying bookmarks instead of business cards.

Book trailer- I’m putting this next, because I used it at the book launch as well. My husband found a way to make it loop so it played over and over. I don’t have the talent to make a trailer, so again, I called on the help of two of my daughters, Allison and Kendall. I love it. Does it help sell books? I don’t know yet. It isn’t likely to go viral, but we learned a lot in doing it for the next time. Everyone who has watched it tells me it makes them curious about the book. I'm sussing it at book signings an book talks. View it HERE. 

Getting reviews- My publisher tells me Amazon reviews are like gold. So one marketing tool I’ve used is to enlist the help of 100 people who are sympathetic to my efforts to be a part of my Amazon Launch Team. All I asked them to do was to download the book, read it, and give an honest review. I told them they didn’t even have to like it! Just review it! So far I have 41 reviews. Not all of them are from the launch team, which is even better.  My goal is to have 100 reviews by May 15. From everything I’ve read, Amazon takes you seriously as an author if you have 100 reviews. Having Amazon take you seriously has to be helpful in the marketing efforts, right? You can read some of the reviews here.

Those are my first five strategies to market your book. Next week? Five more. Hey, we’re all in this together. I want to share what I’m learning along the way.

ONE FINAL NOTE: My publisher tells me the Kindle version of Breathing on Her Own is available on Amazon from April 28-May 4  for $.99.  Your chance to read and review! 

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