Tag Archives: Marketing

I Just Wanna Write

Okay, I am having one of those weeks. If you know me, you know that I am a bit of and overachiever. Have been my whole life. I tend to take on way more than I can handle and then stress out about not getting it done when it needs to be done. I know this, I admit this, and I apologize for this.

I am currently working on several projects that need to be done last week. I am editing three books, four short stories, and an anthology. Am I complaining? No, no, no. I love what I do and can only imagine doing one other thing.

I miss writing horribly. My husband says I need to spend half of my day working for others and half of the day writing and promoting my own books. I simply can’t do this. I have responsibilities and my personal pleasure cannot go before them.

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I was recently accused of focusing too much on my personal writing career and not enough on my authors. Really? REALLY??? A couple Facebook posts a day is too much? Seriously! I woke up this morning with an idea swimming around in my head that is begging to be written, but I plunked myself down in my chair and began working on edits for a client. I have added the idea to my idea file, though that file now takes up about 2 GB on my hard drive…sigh

Not sure why I needed to put this out here. I guess I just needed the people I am working for to know that I am working for them and once I am done with their projects, I might take some time to write. After all, I do think I am pretty good at it. 🙂

 

 

 

What was Satan Thinking?

 

First, let’s be clear on what I mean when I say POD books. This term has become so misused and misunderstood that it has actually resulted in lost sales for many. This doesn’t need to be the case.

POD stands for PRINT ON DEMAND. You’ll notice the word PRINT. Not publish or promote, PRINT!

POD is the process used by PRINTERS to eliminate the need for excessive runs of print copies. The printer simply waits until there is an order and then prints the specific number of copies ordered, removing the immediate potential for wasted paper.

I’m not sure why POD books have received such a negative reputation, but most booksellers and librarians, and now due to the overwhelming number of authors arguing about it in public forums, readers equate POD with lower quality books. This simply isn’t the case.

For over a decade, a multitude of publishers, both big and small, have been using the POD method for fulfilling orders.

The quality of the written word is determined well before the actual book ever goes to print, thereby eliminating the misconception that POD books are “bad.” It needs to be understood by all that POD, the method of printing does not account for the number of poorly written and edited books being sold in the market.

The biggest problem with the misunderstanding of POD is the ability for companies and authors to market and promote the books. However, with the proper education within the retail (and library) industries, bookseller and acquisition librarians could not only increase their potential sales and titles available, but could increase the variety of stories available to their readers.

Readers crave originality. They are tired of reading the same recycled stories by the same authors. Yet, they are deprived of any freshness in their choices, because the larger and more traditional publishers are reluctant to take any financial risk on the newer and more exciting stories written by unknown or new authors.

I would encourage everyone in the book industry to educate themselves and to recognize the value of POD books and to acknowledge the potential for increased sales. Give new authors a chance to prove that they have writing skill and the ability to tell a good story, no matter how many copies of their book is printed at one time.

Furthermore, consider the environmental impact of POD books. A traditional publisher may print 5000 copies of a paperback novel by a new author, and only sell 1500 of them. This means that the remaining 3500 unsold copies will be put into waste. Had the publisher used the POD process to print those books, they would have simply printed the 1500 copies as the orders came in and eliminated the waste. If you did this for 10,000 books in one year, imagine how much paper would be saved and thus less trees.

Bottom line, POD is not the work of Satan. It is simply a process used to print books in smaller quantities. Sorry, Dude, you don’t get credit for this one.

My final point refers to the availability and returnability of books produced using the POD process. The status of returns is not determined across the industry, it is determined by the specific publisher or author. This means that it is an unfair assumption for a bookstore not to carry a POD book, without first determining its returnability status.

We all have choices, but when we make a choice, that doesn’t give us the right to complain when that choice cause a problem.

I hope that after reading this post, more people who speak ill of the POD process will reconsider their “choices” and give authors a fair chance to sell books and entertain readers.

Will you?

Originally published at ©Life as a Publisher by Karen L. Syed
This can be reproduced in it’s entirety with no additions or corrections.

 

Scattergun Promotions (Guest Blog with Bev. Cooke)

…Not the best choice

Everybody tells you to promote – you have to get your name out there, make sure the entire world knows who you are, that you’ve got zillions of followers on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook and a Klout number in the high 80s.

If you’re not careful, you can spend all your time promoting and have nothing to show for it, including new and better writing. What most experts propose is a “scattergun” approach: throw a lot of stuff around all over the place and you’re bound to hit something. But is that the best way to get your name out there? Probably not, especially when you’re writing for kids.

You have to be careful about how and where and what you promote. Targeting carefully, planning ahead and looking to the long term are probably better strategies than simply putting yourself all over the place.

Ask yourself why you write, and why you write for kids. Lots of money and fame? Your books in print for generations? Awards and recognition for your quality? Movie and TV deals? All of those are legitimate goals, but each of them needs a specific marketing strategy. Take some time and define what success means to you. Once you know that, you’re in a much better position to adjust your promotion to fit your writing goals.

For whom do you write? There’s a big difference between writing board books for toddlers, picture books for kindergarteners and novels for young adults. Your readers are the people you promote to. If you write young adults, why aren’t you on teen sites, teen forums and teen places on the net? Do you do volunteer work with teens? Why not? If you’re writing picture books and books for younger kids, then why aren’t you on parenting sites, writing for parenting and grandparenting magazines, hooking up with parenting groups and grandparenting groups? And why aren’t you, whichever group you write for, hooking up with librarians, schools and bookstore owners? Promoting to other writers can help you broaden your audience reach, as they promote you to their readers, but promoting only to other writers is a bad mistake.

A lot of marketing strategies are designed for and by extroverts – people who love people and can talk easily and well with strangers about just about anything. Their twitter posts are always funny, pointed and brilliant. Status updates are layered, elegant and erudite. They stand in front of a room full of kids wearing silly costumes, make a fool out of themselves and love every minute of it. Introverts can’t do that.

One thing that comes through clearly whether you’re in person or on the web is how relaxed and genuine you are when you’re talking to strangers, acting a role you may not be used to or taking risks with your personality type. If you’re not the kind of person who can wear a lamp shade and do the fandango on the dining room table while sober, chances are you’re not going to be able to don a costume, act silly and make a fool out of yourself to promote your book. So don’t try. Find ways that let you be you when you promote your book and yourself. It’s the same on the web. If you have a knack for coming up with pithy phrases, great puns or plays on words and fantastic one liners, then twitter is probably a good venue. If not, don’t go there.

If all you’re doing is following the advice of experts without thinking about who you are, what you want to accomplish with promotion and how long it’s going to take you to reach your writing goals, then you’re not doing yourself any favours, and you may even be doing yourself harm. In all the frenzy of getting your name and your books out there, you’re forgetting why you’re promoting. As a writer friend of mine pointed out: we are writers. If we don’t deliver the content after all the hype, no amount of promotion or marketing is going to sustain us for the long term.

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Meet our guest:

Bev. Cooke is a young adult writer and writing coach whose books appeal to both teens and adults. Her marketing strategies are tailored for her audiences – writers, teens and adults. She’s published “Feral” from Orca Book Publishers, about street life seen through a cat’s eyes, “Royal Monastic” the first book length biography of Princess Ileana of Romania, and Keeper of the Light, an historical fiction for midgrade and young adults about an early Christian saint, both published by Conciliar Press. Bev and her family converted to the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith in 2003, and she’s been active in that writing and religious world ever since. She blogs at Bevnal Abbey Scriptorium http://bevnalabbeyscriptorium.wordpress.com/ and is on Facebook at Bev. Cooke, writer.

It’s All Good!

I said I would work my way through, what I consider to be, the most popular of social networking sites. Today I am going to focus on Good Reads.

Because I know there are so many authors out there who abuse social networking sites for book promotion, I am going to remind you all that these are first, and foremost SOCIAL NETWORKING sites. They were designed to get like-minded people together and socializing–see the connection? In this instance, the topic of conversation is books. Woohoo!

So, with that in mind, Good Reads is the perfect place for us to talk about our books. Notice I did not say promote our books. So what the hell is the point? I know that’s most of you are thinking. The point is to promote our books. Whoa baby, confused? Your head spinning? Promote your books; don’t promote your books. ACK!

This is where you get to show how creative you are. Like any social networking site you should be developing those ever-popular relationships with readers on Good Reads. Don’t just sign up and blast all your new friends with snippets and excerpts on your books.

Here are a few suggestions on how to let readers know about your books.

  • Talk to them.
  • See what they are reading and discuss those books
  • Find readers who read in your genre.
  • Find readers who share your interest in topics.
  • Set up a discussion group for yourself and your books.
  • Set up an author page.

All of these things are quite simple, but totally useless if you don’t follow through on them. Do NOT ask a public question and then never respond to those who answer it. You need to converse with them. Interact. I promise it won’t kill you, despite what the media says to the contrary.

Before I go into the direct options for authors, please note how IMPORTANT the interaction with readers is. Don’t just blast people with your books. Let the programs do the work for you while you talk about books with the other readers.

  • Post the books you are reading.
  • Post your reviews when you finish a book.
  • Add books you’d like to read.
  • Randomly look at other peoples pages and comment on their reviews.

The key to interacting is to communicate with others. I know, we are often solitary creatures, but we alone will not make our books best sellers. We need readers to buy our books.

Good Reads Author Program http://www.goodreads.com/author/program

The first thing you should do if you plan to promote your book is to set up your Good Reads Author page. After you have done that, then you can look into all these other things.

Good Reads eBooks http://www.goodreads.com/ebooks

For those of you who only have eBooks, there is a section where you can upload books for giveaway (use your freebies). You can also use this section to put up excerpts for people to read and get a taste of your style.

Good Reads Giveaways http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway

You can also do giveaways on Good Reads. You decide for how many copies and for how long people can sign up. I don’t suggest giving away large quantities, but it is a GREAT way to get attention.

Good Reads Events http://www.goodreads.com/event

This is a good one. I am a HUGE fan of events and I think more authors should find ways and places to do them. We don’t need no steenking bookstores to do events. The more unique, the better. But my point here is that Good Reads has a section specifically for posting your events. How cool is that?

Good Reads Self-Serve Advertising http://www.goodreads.com/advertisers/ad_home

Advertising a book has never been so easy, or inexpensive. I am on my second ad and while it was a not a huge success, I know of four books I sold because of the ad and I spent less than $10.00.

MOST IMPORTANT TIP!

Don’t be an asshat on the social networking sites. Don’t go blasting in with your book promotion and expect everyone to give a hoot. They won’t. Subtly goes a long way and since Good Reads gives us so many opportunities to promote our work, the only thing we really need to do is to get to know the readers so they know to go look for our stuff.

You can set up your account to post an update when you post a article on your Blog. You can also make sure that when you post a review it goes up on Facebook and/or Twitter. This gives you a little extra exposure without having to actually go to Facebook and get sucked into the cute kitty pictures.

Promoting through social networking doesn’t have to be hard and certainly doesn’t need to be a time suck. But like anything in life, you will only get back what you put in. Of this you can be sure.

What is a time suck?

Lately, I have been hearing this phrase a lot. Oh, first, let me explain that this is geared toward writers/authors. It will have only a small amount of relevance to the general reader who is not trying to market and sell books. Let me tell you a few of my least favorite phrases with regard to authors.

“Oh good another time suck. Pinterest can’t possibly serve any purpose when promoting a book.”

“Twitter is useless. It is just a time suck that serves no purpose.”

“People on Facebook are just lonely people who have no lives.”

Why would I want to be on Good Reads, it’s just a bunch of writers promoting to each other.”

“I don’t need a LibraryThing page. No one ever goes there.”

“What the hell is JacketFlap?”

“Blogs are overdone and outdated. Nobody reads blogs or comments so I am not going to waste my time.”

Come on people. Let’s think this through a little bit. Every single one of these has the potential to be a time suck. You know what makes it a time suck? When you sign up, follow a bunch of people and then never do anything else with it ever again. It doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s break this down one by one.

I’ll start with the new kid on the block.

Pinterest

Now, some might think this is a stupid concept, but it would appear that many more love the idea. I personally, LOVE IT. I have so many hobbies and interests that I never get to share or talk about with anyone. Pinterest has given me an outlet for this. No matter how weird the interest–one of my more popular boards is “How Does Your Garden Grow?

So, we know how this would work for the average Joe, and yes, folks, there are a ton of men on this network, as well as women. I get about 40 new followers a day. Problem is, I can’t follow most of them back. Actually, I can, but I won’t. This is where the time suck part comes in. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but when you add up all the little times they become one big time suck. What the hell am I talking about?

Requests from people who have signed up and either set up NO BOARDS or have set up one board with only the books they have published. This is not socializing, people, it is spamming, or as a new term I heard the other day reveals…pimping.

I don’t have time to sift through a bunch of people’s accounts when there is nothing to see. I simply don’t care. When I go to Pinterest, I want to know what you are into. I’m not saying don’t market or promote on Pinterest, I’m saying pimp responsibly. Show me what you collect, who your favorite artist is, and what your dream kitchen would look like. I care about those things. May seem silly, but I truly love getting to know other people like this.

So how does Pinterest help you promote your book? Set up a board with all the books and stories you have written. Then before you start following anyone else, pick your favorite hobby, your favorite places, and dog pictures you love and set up boards for them. After you’ve done that, then you are ready to begin following people, with the knowledge that they will get an auto-request to follow you back. Each week you can add a new board with a new interest and that will keep people coming back. Each time they come back, there is the potential that at that moment in time they will decide, “Hey, maybe I’ll read this book.” And you better have set up your book covers with direct buy links. You are not beating them over the head with your books, but you are putting up there for them to decide when the time is right to buy. ::hands raised to the heavens:: Ahhhhhh ::the glorious sound of understanding::

Lastly. Don’t just put up an account and never do anything with it. I spend no more than 10 minutes per day, sometimes every other day, updating my Pinterest boards and deciding who I want to follow. I often do it on the couch on my Kindle Fire as we watch TV after dinner. No time suck involved.

Authors, don’t be one of those people who shoves your books into everyone’s face and never gives them a reason to give a damn. Let them get to know you so they will feel as if they have a stake in your success. Readers do care about their favorite authors, and they like their favorite authors. Readers do NOT like authors who waste their time and never give them a reason to care.

Rain Rain Go Away

Today started off on such a down note, that I was not sure I had the strength to make a go of it. Our trip to Disney’s Magic Kingdom yesterday was lovely and relaxing, but the cool wind seems to have left me with a bit of a head cold. But I was determined to make the best of the day.

I spent some time this morning out in the garden it was fertilizing day. So I fed my maters, peppers, onions, carnations, peppers, and even the ginormous cilantro. I also dug out and turned the spot in the front yard where I’m going to put the birdbath and wildflower patch. That was quite hard work as our front yard has those damn weeds that go deep and spread far. So I dug and I turned and I sifted and I turned and I made the most lovely dirt circle.

Yesterday I planted hollyhocks in the front landscaped area in front of the dining room window.

So now…it is pouring down rain. The yard is a big puddle of standing water and I’m certain all my hollyhock seeds have been washed away. Lord help me if they grow in some freaky place in the yard. LOL

I spent several hours editing, I hope you all like Arabian Dreams by J.A. Campbell as much as I do when it comes out.

I also set up a new boutique company designed to help authors. I love publishing and I see myself doing it forever, but there are those authors who want to self-publish. That is where they can make more money. No problem with that. My problem is when authors try to do it themselves when they have no idea what they are doing. My new brainchild will offer writers and other small business people a helping hand. So if you need help self-publishing or increasing your visibility with readers and other consumers. I hope you will tell them about Sassy Gal Enterprises.

Things are changing faster than I care for in my life and it is more than a little bit scary. Trying to build a business and maintain a family is hard work, but the payoff is splendid.

So today’s question is for the gardeners out there. How do you know when to transplant the onions you started from seed? I’ve got a bunch and I don’t want to wait too long or go too soon.

Good Money Gone Where?

Okay, I had a couple authors come to me today and ask about advertising and what to pay and where. Let’s clarify a few things. I am not one for flushing money down the toilet.

Promotion: the act of furthering the growth or development of something; especially: the furtherance of the acceptance and sale of merchandise through advertising, publicity, or discounting

Advertising: the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements

Publicity: a: an act or device designed to attract public interest; specifically: information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support

b: the dissemination of information or promotional material

c: paid advertising

As an author it is imperative that you do something. If you do a combination of either of the latter two, you are automatically doing the first. It simply isn’t feasible or sane to think you can sell books without doing something, whether you pay for it or not.

The question is, when do you do what? I have some strong opinions on this and you can take them or leave them.

I am not a huge fan of advertising on the whole, but there are situations when I think you can get some value from paying to be seen. Newspapers/Magazines, not so much. Readers/consumers have become desensitized to advertising, so a general ad to sell books in a newspaper/magazine is useless because you are competing with beer, bras, boats, cars, houses, politicians, etc. Those are the things people expect to see and notice in the newspapers/magazines. Books probably don’t even garner a glance.

If you want to make an ad pay off for you, then make certain you focus on your specific market. The point in question today is, what is the benefit of advertising in a conference/convention program/newsletter? The answer is targeted marketing.

The people (consumers) who see the ad in a con program are at the con because they read/write/love books. It is simple. They will go through that program page by page to see what is in it and what they can do or get from that con. They want to get the biggest bang for their buck, just like us. Do you have to be at the con to benefit? No way. Sometime better if you are not. It takes the pressure off the consumer if they can’t buy right now. They don’t have to deal with the guilt.

As a rule, when I go to a con I use that program the entire time I am there. That means I open and close and peruse that thing a gazillion times over the course of 3 or 4 days. Each time I open it, I see the things printed in it, including the ads. Have I ever bought anything from a program ad? You bet. I have found books in a few by authors I never would have heard of had I not seen them and their books in the program.

How much is too much? This ad that brought up this question is costing each author $80.00. The ad will be seen by a minimum of 200 people, people who are actually looking. You figure that each of them may see the ad 3 times. This makes your price per view (600 views) .13333333 (and so on). To me, that is not bad. If you did a Facebook ad, you might be looking as high as .50 per view with no guaranteed views. Ads can be very expensive. Want to see if your heart is still beating? Check out the ad rates for Publishers Weekly. I’ve seen ad rates for con programs go as high as $1200 for a business card sized ad. I’ve seen higher, but my eye twitches to think about it.

I don’t do a lot of program ads, but I very carefully select the ones I do. The key is trial and error. Nothing happens overnight. If you are expecting to put an ad anywhere and see immediate results, then you are insane. I mean seriously insane.

Now, a quick note about publicity. This is generally free. How do you get publicity? You make news. What kind of news? Whatever kind you can. I have been criticized for saying this in the past, but go out and do something to make you look good. Self-serving? Hell yes, but it also serves a purpose. Here are some potential Press Release headers that might give you ideas.

*Local Author Serves Christmas Dinner to the Homeless*

*Teen Author Runs Half Marathon to Benefit Blood Cancer Research*

*Local Author Gives Writer Workshop at Local Middle School*

*Local Author Gives Free Writing Workshop at Local Library*

*Local Author Walks to Benefit American Heart Association*

Get the point? Sure, you may be doing those things just to get publicity, but this is a two-sided coin. Anything you do in your community (or any community) to get publicity probably also has a benefit to the community. I honestly believe it is okay to get something back if you are actually giving.

Organize a Chili Cook-Off at your church or YMCA. Get 20 friends to walk 10 miles and donate the pledges to a local charity. Spend a day at your local animal shelter on their adoption days. You are doing a public service and there is NOTHING wrong with writing a press release to let people know you are doing it, then have done it. It takes some effort, but we all know that what you give, you get back tenfold. Karma ain’t just a bitch, she can be kind.

Authors should be sending out at least one press release a month. The first few might not hit, but after they see your name and releases a few times, they will take notice. Just be patient and be active. Sitting back on your laurels will do nothing but make your butt spread wider.

Promotion is the key. How you do it is up to you, but if you want to sell books, you better be willing to do something, or you might as well grow rocks.