Finding Time for Book Marketing

Thursdays with Amanda has become one of my go-to places on the web every… well, every Thursday. Amanda Luedeke is an agent with Chip MacGregor Literary and she blogs on Thursdays about book marketing. I think my favorite takeaway I’ve gotten from her so far is the Five-Thing Marketing Rule that she talks about in this guest blog. Be sure to read to the end because she is giving away a copy of her marketing book, The Extroverted Writer. *You’re going to want it.*

 

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM AN AUTHOR WILL FACE

ExtrovertedWriterCoverSmallIt happens to nearly every writer. You have a book idea. You painstakingly try to work writing into your hectic schedule by skipping yoga or unvolunteering from the PTA or waking at the crack of dawn. It’s tough, but eventually you figure it out even if it takes way longer than you’d care to admit.

And then you have a book! And yay!!! Life couldn’t get any better, because now is the part where you get to see what can come of said book. So you attend conferences and send out emails and scour publishing and agent blogs. You do all that you can to figure this author thing out and them WHAM. The word “platform” hits you in the face.

It may not always happen at that point in time…you may get your first book deal or you may receive your first royalty statement before platform becomes your nemesis. Or, it may not be until you look at your Amazon sales rankings or talk with your author friends or realize that things just aren’t going the way you planned.

But it happens…it happens to every writer at some point in his or her career. They realize that it’s not enough to write a book. They realize authors also need to be marketers.

And so you’re faced with the ultimate dilemma, because you’ve already cut out yoga and the PTA and those two precious hours of sleep. You’ve already done what you can to make writing work. And now you have to take even more time away from your family, from your hobbies, from your life, just to market this book…to spend time doing something that you may not even fully understand.

WHY I LIKE TO TALK ABOUT MARKETING

Before working in publishing, I spent some years at a marketing firm. I did social media marketing and copywriting for some major brands. So when I started working in the book industry five years ago, I quickly saw a need to address this very difficult topic. I began blogging every Thursday on the company blog, ChipMacGregor.com. I began teaching about marketing at writers’ conferences. And I wrote an author marketing book…kind of like a foundational tool for using social media to create an author platform and market your product. It’s called The Extroverted Writer.

But despite all of the tips and tricks and ideas, finding the time is still so crucial. Because if you never actually sit down and take the time to do marketing, then marketing won’t ever happen.

So what’s the secret? How can writing be doable without cutting into the other things that are so important?

WRITING-TO-MARKETING RATIO

People often want specifics…they want to know how much time to spend writing versus marketing. So to get us started, here’s what I tell authors:

If you write FICTION and are unpublished: four parts writing to one part marketing/building your brand or platform.

If you write FICTION and are published or have a book coming out: two parts writing to one part marketing/building your brand or platform.

If you write NONFICTION: one part writing to three parts marketing. (Remember, a nonfiction author’s career is entirely built on platform, not words.)

MAKING THE TIME

In practice, the ratios look like this: on the days published fiction authors can only write for 30 minutes, they need to find a mere 15 extra minutes to work on marketing. On the days they can write for three hours, then it’s 1.5 hours of marketing.

Now let’s say that they simply CANNOT find an extra 1.5 hours in their day! When this happens, they merely need to adjust their existing writing time and break it into parts. So, instead of writing for three hours, they’d write for two and market for one.

Simple as that.

BUT WHAT DO I DO?

After hearing the ratios, some writers will tell me that even if they make time for marketing, they end up staring at their computer screens at a loss for where to begin.

There are tons of books that are full of marketing ideas. Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz is one. I like to use mine, The Extroverted Writer, as another example. But for those of you who get overwhelmed by all of the options…or who just can’t figure out how to take an idea and run with it, here’s another tip:

THE FIVE-THING MARKETING RULE

Write down five things…five marketing ideas. They don’t have to be big or expensive or detailed. There just has to be five of them. Your list could look like:

1. Find three blogs that talk about a theme that shows up in my book (ex. Vikings, weight loss, love stories). Save the URLs for future marketing ideas (blog tours, guest posts, comments, etc.)
2. Tweet every day this week.
3. Set up a Goodreads account and/or author page.
4. Research to see what local reader groups are in my area.
5. Find recent Tweets that use #weightloss (or whatever hashtag would apply to your brand/book), and reply to or retweet three of them.

Give yourself a week to complete these steps. Then, write down five more.

This may seem small and inconsequential. You may be thinking:

So what if I’m commenting on two measly blogs! Who cares that I’m Tweeting! No one follows me anyway!

TRUST ME. Great things happen once you start to engage. Once you are consistent about marketing. Give it a try and you’ll realize that your five things take almost no time at all to complete. And soon, instead of doing five things a week, you’ll be doing five lists of five! And you will get more confident. You’ll see results. And more importantly, platform will start to become your friend.

***ENTER MY GIVEAWAY***

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke

The Extroverted Writer

by Amanda Luedeke

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is an agent with MacGregor Literary. Follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or on Facebook. Her marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.

Coffee with Authors: Chris Cannon Going Down in Flames

Meet Chris Cannon, author of the YA novel Going Down in Flames (A Going Down in Flames Novel). She is one of my publishing housemates (is that what we call one another?) at Entangled Publishing. Her book came out his month and she was game to try a Google Hangout on Air with me (and our dogs!)

This is my third try at a Google Hangout on Air. I’m getting less stressed about the technical aspects, and now I need to work on my hosting skills. Where do I look? At the camera–so it looks like I’m looking at the viewer? Or, at my guest on the screen so I know what she is doing? And how do I subtly glance at my notes to see what I’m going to ask next?

If you’ve got a good hosting tip, please leave it for me in the comments!

Want to learn more about Chris Cannon?
Website: http://chriscannonauthor.com/
Twitter: @ccannonauthor

Coffee with Authors: A Google Hangout on Air

So, I took Katie Davis’s Video Idiot Bootcamp course to try to learn how to market to a YA audience who loves videos. Big learning curve on so many levels. But, we have to start somewhere, and here at Routines for Writers, we are all about finding routines that make our writing and marketing lives easier.

After taking the class, I planned to make one new video a month. At the end of the year, I would have twelve videos that would continue to work for me 24/7. That sounded doable. And I am mostly on track to achieve that goal. Sometimes I go 6 weeks between videos. Some of my videos are time-specific, like my newsletter contest that is now over.

I meant to try a variety of videos–webcam; stock photo/video; cartoon, but because of time crunches, ended up with mostly videos of me talking, and one dynamic slide-show type video. Now that my debut month is over, I hope to have more time to try these other kinds of videos.

And always, at the back of my mind, I was trying to think about a routine for content. What could I do to routinely make videos?? So, I came up with this idea: Coffee with Authors, a Google Hangout on Air event.

A Google Hangout on Air is a video conference that is broadcast live, so anyone can watch, and is then recorded to your YouTube channel. You don’t have to have extra screen-capture software as Google takes care of it for you. You can have up to ten people on air with you, although when there are more than two, I think you need to use external microphones to keep out the echoes.

Here is my first Coffee with Authors. I’m hoping the more I do, the more relaxed and natural it will become. Debut YA author Ashlee Willis was a good sport about being my first guinea pig!  I get her talking about painting fairy/gnome doors on trees and she gets me talking about a not-official announcement.

Have you tried a Google On Air? Any do’s and don’ts I should know about?

 

Author/Editor Tell All with Executive Editor Stacy Abrams

Okay, this is it. It’s happening!! I tricked talked one of my editors into doing a Google Plus Hangout on Air with me this Friday, June 13, at 11:00 PST. I want to know why she pulled my book out of the slush. And about a million other things. Stacy is the executive editor of Entangled Teen. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask her, leave them in the comments and we’ll get her talking!

Here is the playback:

A to Z Blogging Challenge

A to Z Letter AWe here at Routines for Writers are big fans of writing challenges, specifically, NaNoWriMo. The November writing frenzy is firmly implanted in my writing routine arsenal. Even if I don’t write a novel that month, I at least increase my output for whatever I’ve got going at the time.

So imagine my excitement when I stumbled across a month-long blogging challenge in April! The A to Z Blogging Challenge has you blogging every day (except Sunday) using the letters of the alphabet as your prompt. Every. Day.

As I type this, I’m getting ready to blog the letter M on my personal website. It will be a wonderful Mushroom Soup recipe that my mom gave me last winter. Yummy. Check my blog on Tuesday: http://shonnaslayton.com/

Here is what I have experienced so far, and why I think writers should participate in a challenge such as this:

1. You learn to blog faster. You can’t spend forever thinking about what to blog, writing the blog, editing the blog, etc. If you are going to survive, you’ve got to pick up the pace. Don’t worry about being less than perfect.

2. You learn to write shorter blogs. People are busy and they are zipping through the blogs. Be short and sweet. Write the occasional masterpiece to stand as an evergreen article, but not every time you blog.

3. You learn to write about topics other than writing. You become very aware that the people visiting your site for the month will not all be writers. They aren’t going to want to read about plot structure. They are readers .You have to entertain/inform them a different way. Isn’t this the problem so many of us writers have? What else are we going to talk about if we aren’t writing about writing?!? Take the blogging challenge and find out.

4. You learn to visit other blogs–not just writing blogs. This has been one of my favorite lessons. As part of the challenge, you start at your name in the sign-up list and you visit the five blogs below yours. I’ve learned such interesting things this month, going outside my normal blog-type.

Also, this sequential method gives you a reason to visit a random stranger’s blog. You are all in this challenge together and it brings an instant sense of camaraderie. You’re not just trying to sell your book or build your platform.

5. You learn to comment. When you visit the five blogs a day, you are supposed to comment. And then if you have time, you can go back and visit the blogs of the people who left comments on your blog. I’ve “met” some really great people and found some new blogs and Pinterest boards to follow.

Bonuses: I’ve picked up a couple Twitter followers and newsletter subscribers. I feel more connected to the blogging community. My blog is not as lame as it used to be 😉

How about you? Are you in on the A to Z challenge? Are there other challenges like this out there?

One Day Sale – 20 Books for 99 Cents Each

Little Miss Lovesick_NEWSIZE_FINALI was thrilled to be invited to join a group of friends who wanted to do a fun cross-promotion for our books. For one day, today, all of our books – all in various sub-genres of romance – will be available on Amazon for only 99 cents! Yay!

If you like my books, you’ll find several in this list you would enjoy. 🙂 And if you’re reading this after Friday, my book Little Miss Lovesick (and perhaps some of the others) will still be on sale through the weekend. Plus, I’ve made Lovesick 99 cents across all retailers, so you can get it for a buck on Barnes & Noble or iTunes or anywhere you like to buy ebooks!

If you’re on Twitter or Facebook or other places, would you mind passing this information along? I’d love to feel like I helped my friends find new fans. 😀 Thanks a million!

Happy reading!

Kathy Bennett, A Deadly Justice

Kitty Bucholtz, Little Miss Lovesick

Linda Carroll-Bradd, Capturing the Marshal’s Heart

Kathleen Creighton, The Prince and the Patriot

Jacqueline Diamond, The Cowboy and the Heiress

Gillian Doyle, Mystic Memories

Susan R. Hughes, A Baby for Christmas

Michelle Knowlden, Indelible Beats

Heather MacAllister, Counterfeit Cowgirl

Mindy Neff, The Bad Boy Next Door

Louella Nelson, Cora Lee

Lyn O’Farrell, Worth the Risk

Dee Ann Palmer, Where Eagles Cry

Sandra Paul, Last Chance For Marriage

Michael H. Payne, A Curial Quartet

Edie Ramer, Christmas at Angel Lake

Angie Ray, Ghostly Enchantment

Susan Squires, Waiting For Magic

Kristy Tate, Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent

Patricia Thayer, Colton Creek Cowboy

Marketing in the New Year

business planMy writing focus has changed a lot in the past year. Whereas before I was all about production and learning how to write a novel…and countless pep talks to stick with it, this year I’ve got to add marketing maven to my author resume.  (Because, YAY! I’ve got a book coming out in JUNE!)

Fortunately, I’ve been preparing! We here at Routines for Writers are all about setting routines to help make our writing—or marketing—easier.

For years I’ve been collecting book-marketing advice so that I would be ready once my time came. And my time came at the end of 2013.

As I work on my goals for this year, I’ve realized the first half of the year is pretty much laid out for me, give or take. I start with my release date and work backwards, filling in all the items I plan to do.

Toastmasters

Knowing that I will have a launch party June 3, I signed up for Toastmasters to help me take the edge off my nerves. By the time I get to my launch, I’ll have several speeches under my belt.

What I didn’t account for was being invited to participate in my local indie’s big YA event this month on the 25th! Fortunately, I’ll be one of 12 authors and I won’t have much “screen time.” It will be a nice easing-in to the local YA community. Note: This opportunity came about because I went in early to introduce myself to the children’s book buyer. I was nervous, but she was amazingly supportive–and set me to work right away ;). Marketing tip: don’t put off talking to your local bookstore people.

But, Hello! I’m going to need something to hand out!

Postcards

Since I don’t have any ARCs or even a sample chapter (my book is currently in editorial; I’m biting my fingernails down), I ordered postcards. 1000 of them. And 200 stickers inviting people to my release party. I was expecting to order these later, but it will be nice to have something in my purse to hand out when people find out I’m an author.

Newsletter

My first personal author newsletter goes out tonight. My subscriber base is small and loyal, aka—made up of a few of my friends. My goal is to get to 100 people by my launch date. I have no idea if this goal is too small or too large, but it’s the goal I set. (Help me get to 100! Go sign up at ShonnaSlayton.com.)

Videos

I write for YA, and not necessarily the adults who read YA, but the actual teens. If I want to catch their attention I need video. So far, my author blog has been aimed at fellow homeschool parents/ teachers because they are my current tribe. When I announced to my friends about my book deal—they were all adults! Granted, most are parents, and their kids are or will be my target market. Eventually, I’ll need to transition to my actual teen audience. I think video is the way to go. Here’s my first:

 
http://youtu.be/6es3hRXjCjo

Social Media

In the past few months I’ve joined Pinterest (Love it! I avoided it because I was afraid I’d get hooked, and I have.) For better or worse, I’ve made the decision to stick with a Facebook profile instead of creating a page. And, I’ve got an author photo in place of my statue-girl avatar!

The Other Marketing Plans

Other marketing plans will take shape as the months go by. I’ll be staying flexible and keeping my calender open. I believe my publisher has plans for a blog tour and some giveaways and there are some other things I’d like to try to engage with my audience.

How about you? What is your best tip for marketing? Planning for marketing? Or even setting up a routine for marketing?