Tag Archives: Marketing

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.


Above and Beyond (Bookstore Spotlight by J.A. Campbell)

Calico Books is a new and used bookstore in Broomfield, Colorado. It is owned by the same people who own Booklovers in Fort Collins, Colorado and their daughter, Becky, runs the store. I first met Becky through a mutual friend. As soon as Becky found out I was a soon to be published Author, she started talking about trying to help promote my writing. We hit it off right away and chat regularly. 

Calico Books’ services include accepting used books in trade for store credit, new and used books, and promoting local authors. They also order hard to find, out of print and new books for customers, have a watch and reserve list and provide free coffee. They are dog friendly, and even have treats on hand. Becky also tries to have events regularly for customers and authors, so watch the store calendar. 

One of the things that we put together and are still experimenting with is our Remote Author events.  “The Remote Author Event was conceived when I was discussing with a couple friends, via twitter, how I’d love to be able to support them and their writing. The catch was, that their books were either in eBook format… or they didn’t live in Colorado,” says Becky. 

So we chatted via twitter and gtalk and came up with a way to have local authors and remote authors visit the store. 

“In this way, Calico Books can host eBook authors as “Host Authors” and sponsor their novels (although we cannot sell them, ourselves) while also being able to sell a not-so-local author’s books and have them visit the shop without airfare, hotels, or food bills to worry about. Granted, I’ve focused on Local Authors for my new-book section in the shop, but with the digital age… I’m more than happy to help support others who are further away along with getting to support our locals whose books are in digital format.” 

It’s a great opportunity to find ways to keep independent bookstores in the loop during the push towards eBooks. 

“Why bother with this Remote Author Event over a traditional signing? Because the traditional methods are very quickly going to become out-dated. Digital books are being published far more readily than print-books. This isn’t to say that print-books are going by the wayside, but there has been a huge surge in the sheer amount of published books through the availability of eBooks. A publisher can far more easily “take a chance” on an eBook than a print-book and the initial release of the eBook may very well lead to a print-contract.” 

So stop on by for some free coffee and good reads. Becky’s vast knowledge of books will be sure to assist you in finding just the right book, even if it happens to be digital.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CalicoBooks

Twitter: @CalicoBooks

Web site/Blog: http://blog.calicobooks.com/

J.A. Campbell (Julie) writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. Her first young adult novel, Senior Year Bites, is now available at a number of retailers, including Kindle.

What I Didn’t Know Before Selling a Book (Kaye George)

1) How much time–and energy–the initial promotion would take. And how much brain drain. Honestly, some days I feel like I did when I was pregnant: searching for words, dropping things, driving badly. It’s becoming clear that I’ll have to devote more than one day a week to promotion.

2) That you have to give away books in order to sell them. And this is without any promotional give-aways (except for a couple so far). This is for reviewers who don’t want to read the digital copy I have that’s meant for reviewers. I can’t say I blame them. I can’t read a book on a computer either. If I didn’t have an e-reader I would have to request a hard copy, too. I’m thinking there might be a better way to get a hard copy out, though, than to give away my precious books. This requires more thought, and with that drained brain, too.

3) That perfect strangers will somehow find my book and want it autographed. This has actually happened at the two conferences I’ve been to recently! And it’s VERY fun!

4) How much I’d be itching to work on my current work-in-progress, almost to the point of resenting the marketing efforts and the conventions I’ve attended for promotion of the published book. Writers are strange people.

5) How much fun it is to attend a convention as a published author, even while longing to be working. CHOKE: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery was released May 1st by Mainly Murder Press and is available at the publisher, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as through Ingram Book Company.

By Choke at: Amazon.com or BN.com

Kaye George, an Agatha nominated short story writer, is the author of CHOKE, published by Mainly Murder Press, as well as A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, a collection of her previously published stories. FISH TALES: THE GUPPY ANTHOLOGY (eBook) contains her story, “The Truck Contest.” She reviews for “Suspense Magazine,” and writes for several newsletters and blogs. She, her husband, and a cat named Agamemnon live together in Texas, near Austin.

Blog: Travels with Kaye
Blog: All Things Writing