As the buds are popping brightly and birds are seeking new nesting places, this week’s blog post hopes to inspire our author friends to seek out new followers and uncover potential markets to spring your book into spring!
While most authors are hesitant to market themselves and their books, if this is your career, keep in perspective that your book is the product and all products require a marketing and sales strategy . . . no different than any other business. Marketing is an investment in your career.
The most important aspect of marketing and promoting your book (outside of knowing your audience) is to engage your audience, fans and readers. You can do this via a variety of platforms, many of which we’ve covered in this year’s blog posts and which we will touch on again here.
Who are your readers?
In today's digital world, if you want your book to stand out, you're going to have to step up and get involved in the promotion, which often means communicating directly with your target audience through a variety of channels (online and social media, in-person, through print media, etc.). Get to know your audience! Are they working moms, soccer dads, book clubbers, or glamorous literati? What are your readers reading? And what forums do they use to find new books? Use the intelligence you gather to target your marketing efforts and reach out to those segments.
You can use your established social media presence (even if that’s a Goodreads or Amazon Author Profile) to promote your title. Promotions such as giveaways (available for a fee on Goodreads) are available for FREE on your social media sites. You can setup a giveaway on Instagram or Facebook, for example, by asking your followers to tag your book page (or author page) in a post, follow you, and comment on an Instagram posting. Once they’ve done these things, put their name in a hat and at the end of your giveaway timeframe, send them a direct message and send them their book in exchange for a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.
Blogs & Reviews
You can work with a blog tour company (TLC Book Tours is one we love) to setup a blog tour for reviewers of your work. If you don’t want to pay a service for this help (which is well worth it, in our view, as you get guaranteed reviews and mentions), you can still compile a list of bloggers and book reviewers and email them asking them if they will review your book in exchange for a free copy. They will then usually post the review of your book on their blog, which has lots of followers – which in turn – can become your followers. As we mentioned in a recent blog post about writing for free, you can also contribute articles to relevant magazines or online blog sites, which is another way you can keep raising your author profile.
Find bloggers that will review your book. This can be as simple as googling reviewers based on your genre. Make a list of bloggers that you want to engage for a review and giveaway. For example, here’s a Google search for Historical Fiction Reviewers.
Publicity, author events, and media appearances can also generate awareness for you as an author and connect you with local readers. At each event, you may want to create a gift basket giveaway, with a signed copy of your book, bookmarks, and other merch, in exchange for collecting email addresses. Building a strong email list is a key component in building your followers and reaching your buyers over time. You may also want to consider hiring a publicist. There are lots of book marketing and publicity firms out there – you just need to take some time and look for local agencies in your area that specialize in book publicity. Here’s a great article by book marketing guru Jane Friedman that helps authors understand what to expect when working with a publicist.
Personal selling can be one of the most persuasive selling tools because it allows two-way communication. Consider the following markets:
If you are not familiar with networking, start with people you know: friends, family, co- workers, alumni, and neighbors. Then move on to less-familiar people. Again, avoid overtly selling to people in your network; instead, ask them for referrals and to spread the word about your book. When personally networking, begin by introducing yourself and mentioning who referred you.
Keep in mind that readers want to talk with the author. We talked about creating your own individual social media platforms (Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, etc.) and through these you can connect with everyone you know. In these posts, you can write about your book, give readers insider information, and even share other titles that you are reading and that inspired you or are of interest to you.
One great asset you have in your personal network is the ability to ask your contacts to provide reviews for online retailers for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Kobo, iBooks, and Goodreads (or wherever they buy books). If you have professionals and industry experts in your network, offer to give them a book to review in exchange for a free copy. You can also consider paid reviewers such as ForeWord Clarion and Kirkus Indie to get a professional review of your book.
Relax and take stock.
Most importantly, take a break and take a breath. Building your audience is an experience to enjoy and share. It takes time and patience to build an audience as a new author. Word of mouth is the least cost and most effective way we’ve come across to do this, so keep at it. One reader at a time.
Author Event at The Arboretum
Saturday August 4
2:00 pm Eastern Time
Barnes and Noble Arboretum
3327 Pineville-Matthews Road
Charlotte, NC 28226
Megan Wong will be signing copies of her debut YA novel, Island Whispers. You can also sign up to win a gift basket of Island Whispers merchandise!
Megan Wong was always a writer. Beginning in elementary school, she wrote stories and loved reading. As a freshman in high school, she began writing what would become her debut novel, Island Whispers. She loves creating worlds filled with magic and sharing stories that need to be told. She is currently an undergraduate student majoring in psychology with a minor in creative writing at North Carolina State University.
Connect with the author on Facebook @islandwhispersmw and follow her blog.
Read more about Island Whispers and shop merchandise!
Short stories, novellas, and other forms of short fiction are getting a makeover with the prolific access to publishing channels and innovative marketing campaigns. Short stories, the backbone of short fiction, prevails with short story contests and award-winning anthologies. Traditionally defined as stories in length from 1000-4000 words (some go longer, though, up to 20,000), short stories have been the entrée for many an author to get noticed. Many short stories have been adapted into plays, films, and other media. Check out the Goodread's list of all time bests.
The novella, once out of fashion in the publishing world (even though many classic novels, like Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, and The Metamorphosis, could be considered novellas based on lengths from 20,000 - 50,000) are breathing new life marketed under new names. James Patterson and Harper Collins' recent foray into the short novel - they call them "Book Shots" - focus on short, genre fiction, no more than 150 pages (about 30-40,000 words or so). Released this month, the author's first two releases came out strong with sales of 30,000 copies in the first week or so! These new short novels can be read quickly and feel like watching a film. Expect other publishers to pursue this rebirth of short fiction. They'll be looking for content, content, content...a great opportunity for writers to get in the game.
If you want to go even shorter and really flex your word-efficiency, you can write flash fiction - defined as a few hundred words (or shorter). These are fun tidbits from any genre that tell a story or evoke a mood...and can be read in minutes. Read some of the genre's top flash fiction at Flash Fiction Online. You can learn about the format and submit to their literary magazine.
At the micro end of the short fiction scale, #twitterfiction, allows writers to create the most creative narrative, tweeting as adopted personas, or tweeting a story from multiple characters' points of view. Check it out if you have a few seconds.
Whatever form your short fiction takes, there's a home for it these days. So get in the game...and keep it short!
We often get questions from prospective authors about what we will do to market their titles. And while even the best publishing company for new authors has a vested interest in selling books, marketing is truly a team sport. We view marketing as a partnership with our authors, and it really doesn’t work any other way. Many times, authors believe that being published is all you need…but there’s way more to it than that. Yes, publishing companies offer wide and broad distribution, making your title available across the internet, to local retailers, and across the world. But bringing the title to life for your specific readers…garnering your specific following and followers (social media, anyone?)…and spending time developing your own personal brand as an author are key to successfully selling your titles. There are lots of ways to skin this cat and simple keyword searches will lead you to easy-to-use website builders with awesome templates that will allow you quickly put up a simple but effective site. As an author, all you need is a voice – and you already have that. Just remember, simple is best. You may already use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for your personal life. If so, it’s not a big leap to create a second presence for your author persona. Register a new email address, keep the content informative, educational, and personal to you and your unique brand, and you will gain followers. All of this is to say that while a publishing company can and should be helping to sell your titles, it doesn’t work without your committed involvement as an author. So get out there and sing your own praises!
As writers, we've all felt the sting of a form letter, or worse, a personalized rejection from publishing companies or agents. You've put so much work into the best query letter that ever existed on this planet or in the entire universe. And yet, you are met with the cold, hard stare of a rejection like:
I'm not connecting enough with this project.
I’m afraid I’ve decided to pass.
This is not for me.
We do not feel strongly enough about your project to pursue it further.
I can only take on projects that spark my passion.
If you have been the recipient of anything like this, you are not alone! And in fact, there's a contest designed just for you - the Twitter feed and website www.litrejections.com is holding their first short story contest for fiction with themes about rejection. Oh, irony, how we love thee...find more info here: http://www.litrejections.com/short-story-prize/
And if you don't already follow them on Twitter @LitRejections, you will be glad you did. There is always an inspirational quote or thought for those who persevere!
Speed writing tips for today, from some of our favorite writers of both fiction, journalism, and business writing. They work for all. Now keep you foot on the pedal and stay above 55 miles per hour:
Now back on the bus...speed tips are over!
There are lots of writing books, classes, blogs, groups, tips and tricks for turning your writing into a career. Many of them include ideas like setting aside a certain time of day for writing, celebrating milestones along the way, and removing pesky distractions while you work. Find the strategies that resonate with you, but remember - YOU are one making and breaking the rules. We've found that if you find what works for you - DO IT. If one day you fall down on the job and watch an entire season of that reality show you've been dying to watch, it's okay. But pick yourself up and begin again the next day on making...and breaking...your own rules.
Visit here to learn more. What we love about the Independent Publishers Book Awards is their commitment to unique categories. Here's a few interesting ones...multicultural fiction, urban fiction, and visionary fiction. All the traditional categories are included, of course, as well as specialized regional and e-book categories. It's a great opportunity to submit something personal to you and be recognized.