Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Marketing and Promotion

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Although the majority of writers would prefer to spend all their time writing, part of being a successful author is actively participating in Marketing and Promotion. By using social media and the internet, authors can reach a large number of potential readers without a lot of expense. However, marketing and promotion require time and effort.

By posting regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., readers are already engaged when the next book gets its cover or is ready for release. They’re more willing to share release day announcements and participate in contests, blog hops, and other events. By having a presence on a social media outlet, the author becomes more visible. Visibility helps sell books. As I mentioned in last week’s post on Social Media, etiquette is an important part of participation. Authors should post only on their own walls and in groups allowing promotion when having a cover reveal, celebrating a book release, or announcing a sale price.

Author websites and blogs are also primary places for posting release and pre-order announcements, new covers, contests, guest blog appearances, signings, etc. An up-to-date website or blog lets readers know the author is making an effort to keep them informed and they’re more likely to return that source for future information.

Booksignings are a great way to attract new readers. Bookstores are usually the first venue that comes to mind, but they’re far from the only possibility. Authorgraph offers readers online “autographs” for e-book purchases. Authors can sign up and add their books to Authorgraph's “library” of sign-able books.

Conferences are also a signing possibility. RWA hosts its annual Literacy for Life booksigning event at the national conference, with authors and publishers donating books to raise funds for local and national literacy programs. The American Library Association and the Public Library Association conferences are another possible opportunity for exposure through signings. Some writing organizations have booths at these conferences and allow members to donate and sign books during the event. Writing group and chapter conferences may also have booksignings, with some permitting authors to sell books to attendees rather than donating them. While selling books earns money for the author, donated books are tax deductible, if provided at cost to the author (not free ARCs or publisher supplied), and can help with that difficult to achieve commodity “visibility.”

Reader-author conventions typically have booksignings, with readers purchasing the books on-site from either a bookseller or the author. The Romantic Times (RT) Convention and Lori Foster’s Reader-Author Get Together are a couple examples of this type of convention. The event usually focuses on interaction between readers and authors more so than writer education and workshops like conferences.

Librarians and libraries are a great largely untapped resource. Developing relationships with them can provide opportunities for signings, meet-and-greets, and book discussion groups.

Blog hops and blog parties can be free or paid. The author typically offers a prize to one or more participants—a signed print book, e-book, gift card, etc. Again, these donated prizes may be tax deductible and can increase visibility. Depending on her budget, an author might choose to purchase blog-hop services from a book promoter. Ask other authors for recommendations and research all promoters and marketers prior to signing a contract or making an oral/written agreement (phone or email).

Writer friends and colleagues who host guest authors on their blogs are another valuable resource. Reciprocate, if possible, and be sure to thank the host for providing an opportunity to showcase you and your latest release.

Authors can purchase advertising through book promotion/review blogs and websites, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, BookBub, The Fussy Librarian, and many others. This avenue also depends on the author’s budget. Some are inexpensive. Some can be pricey. Research the options, costs, and typical returns on investments before forking over large sums of money to an unknown factor.

Newsletters can be an effective marketing tool, but they require preparation, regular releases, and time spent compiling a subscriber list. Services like MailChimp can assist with templates. Some online newsletter services are free and some charge a fee. Again, take time to research and ask for feedback from others who have used these services.

Marketing and promotion can became time consuming if an author tries to do everything. Try a few tools and weigh the effectiveness of each one. If one doesn’t seem to work well, try a different one. Not every outlet will produce the same results for every author, and the best marketing tool of all is the next book.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

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