Category Archives: Marketing

The Secret of Social Media Marketing

Kiev, Ukraine – October 17, 2012 – A logotype collection of well-known social media brand’s printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret today. It doesn’t just apply to marketing–it’s kind of a secret to living your best life. No doubt you’ve heard it before, but maybe not applied to marketing and social media marketing.

Be Yourself.

There’s a wide range of advice out there when it comes to managing your social media as an author. Don’t post about your work so often. Engage with those who engage with your posts. Post often. Don’t post about anything political. Avoid posting anything too racy or could potentially be divisive.

While I think that advice is sound, and have definitely agreed with it in the past, I’d argue now that all of that advice does not set you apart. You will not be a memorable presence on social media if you follow all the rules.

So does that mean you should break all the rules?

No. Absolutely not. In fact, you can still follow all the rules I listed above and still be a very memorable presence on social media. How? By being yourself.

That’s very easy to say, but how exactly do you express who you really are on social media? Do you have to start letting your followers in on your deepest secrets? Do you need to share pictures of your children when you don’t feel comfortable doing so? Absolutely not.

The golden rule of Being Yourself on social media is: only post what you are comfortable posting.

But can that make you stand out? Sure it can.

Think about the things that make you unique. Even more: make a list of things that you’re nerdy about. Make a list of your hobbies. Chances are, you have a lot of knowledge in those areas. And, of course, they are important to you! So why not share your knowledge? If you like to garden vegetables, share pictures of your harvests. Recommend products that work well for you. Post videos sharing tips about how to save beets from a late spring frost.

Do you love 90s R&B? Geek out over it. Post your favorite playlist. Share pictures of your favorite groups and little bits of trivia about them. Go to their concerts and share you experience online!

Do you watch a lot of cop TV shows? Compare them. Which shows get it right? Which are inaccurate? What are some common themes and writing techniques that the writers use in those shows, and how can you apply them to your own writing? These would be fascinating topics to share.

The point is, your fans and potential fans will love to see what you’re into, especially when it’s beyond the obvious (of course you’re interested in writing, Game of Thrones, and books! We all are). Some might not know how to engage because they’re not into what you’re into, but I guarantee they will find it interesting and fun to follow you on social media anyway. They’ll love to see that you’re nerdy about other things. Not to mention all the people who ARE into what you’re into and will bond with you over TLC and Blackstreet, will thank you for your tips on how to grow juicy tomatoes, or will love putting in their two cents about the best cop show on TV right now.

You can have an interesting and fulfilling social media presence if you choose to. Just be yourself, have fun, and only post what you’re comfortable posting.

Intro to Guerrilla Marketing

The tune here in June is all about unique or unusual ways to get your writing noticed by others. The term you hear frequently in seminars, online self-marketing videos, writing groups, and in interviews with successful authors is “guerrilla marketing.”

No, that doesn’t mean hiring Jane Goodall.

Does everyone still know who Jane Goodall is?

On second thought, hiring Jane Goodall as a guerrilla marketer might be a brilliant example of exactly what we’re talking about. Hmmm…..

And, yes, I know Jane Goodall is a chimpanzee researcher, and chimpanzees aren’t gorillas. Also gorillas aren’t guerrillas.

One thing worth doing on this opening month post is talking about some things that you definitely shouldn’t do in your attempts to get the word out. Things like:

  • Using social media to spam “buy my book!” messages to everyone on the planet.
  • Buying mailing lists and sending out “buy my book!” emails to random strangers.
  • Offering to swap reviews with other authors to get review counts up.
  • Paying for reviews (with a few exceptions, specifically Kirkus Reviews).

I’ll relate one example that I very strongly considered doing when I self-published my first book, and probably should have. At the time I was also moving to a new state halfway across the continent, and looking for a house or a lot to build on. That meant a lot of travelling back and forth between Colorado and Arkansas on interstate highways filled with lots of other drivers.

To make the move as cheaply as possible, I purchased a 6′ x 10′ trailer and walled it in to make it weather-proof so I could move stuff in rain, snow or sunshine. Well, that meant I was practically driving a billboard, or two billboards, across the country. I wish now that I had printed huge posters and plastered them on my trailer with my book cover and some clever marketing slogans.

C’est la vie. Maybe I’ll get another chance. But that’s the sort of thing we’ll be talking about this month.

You’ve got Mailing Lists

This month’s topic comes at a really fortunate time for me, as I am just in the process of building my brand right now. I have my first release coming up in about four weeks, with three other releases coming in 2018.

I’ve done most of the things the majority of books and blogs will tell you to do:

  • I have a website
  • I have social media pages devoted to my books
  • I have started a mailing list
  • I have a marketing plan ready
  • I have beta readers going through the first book

Most importantly, I have exciting books with engaging covers, professional editing and well-crafted sales copy.

So I’ve done it all, right?

Well, no. Certainly what I have above is only some of the most common suggestions. There’s plenty more you can do, the primary gates being time, money, and comfort level.

The other issue though is that I’ve built a house no one lives in. Without an actual launched title, there’s little reason for anyone to visit my website, subscribe to my mailing lists, care about my Twitter posts, and so on.

Discoverability is a huge challenge for someone just starting out, so I wanted to focus on just one thing I’ve done that has shown me some benefits. I wrote a mailing list magnet story, and I’m giving it away for free.

YOUR MAILING LIST

Let me cover why I’m focused on my mailing list. There are certainly a lot of other ways to get visibility including any number of advertisement options. I like the mailing list because of how much control I have over it and how personal a connection it would be with my fans.

Also, ‘focus on your mailing list’ might be the most consistent piece of marketing advice I see, right up there with ‘nothing will market your current book better than your next book’.

Of course, that doesn’t help me when I don’t have a book out yet. So a good writer friend of mine turned me on to the idea of a mailing list magnet. The idea being that you write a story set in the world of your novel and give that away in return for a sign-up to your mailing list.

So I wrote ‘Cracks and Crevasses’, a little 6k word short story that tells of the first meeting between the two main characters of my fantasy series. If you go to my website, you’ll see the option to sign up for my mailing list in return for a free story.

I worked with my cover artist to get a nice low-cost cover done that was still consistent with my branding. I had the story edited as well, since the whole point of the story was to introduce me to people new to my work. I wanted to make a good first impression!

I then plugged the story on my social media feeds and was happy to see many of my family, friends and writing associates go snap it up. My mailing list grew into the mid-teens, and there it stayed. Because no one goes to my website to begin with. I don’t have a book out, I’m not yet paying for any adds.

So what was the point, right?

ENTER INSTAFREEBIE

Instafreebie is a site that lets you give your story away in return for a mailing list sign up. You can run your own giveaway, or you can join dozens of other authors in targeted giveaways that can be focused on any number of themes. Each author then takes the links to that giveaway and tells their audiences about it – which is a much farther reach than a new author like myself could have!

I chose an optional opt-in method, which allows people who are downloading my story to decide if they want to sign up for my list rather than requiring it. I joined a few group giveaways along with my own, and in the process made a few new author friends who got excited about my story and plan to promote it to their lists.

My giveaways have only been running about 48 hours. As I write this, ‘Cracks and Crevasses’ has been downloaded about 100 times, and my mailing list size has doubled. Even the folks who downloaded but didn’t opt in to sign up for the list may sign up later – I made sure to include links to my mailing list and my novel pre-order on the back page of the story.

So as I said in the open, there are a lot of ways you can work on increasing your audience and building your fanbase. This is just one, and I’ve just started – but so far I’m happy with how its working out.

(A final note: The whole concept of the author mailing list and how addresses are collected and used is a currently evolving situation in light of the recent European GPDR rules. I highly recommend searching those rules out and finding a good advisory source to ensure you are compliant.)

How Often Should You Send a Newsletter?

I have a friend who writes sweet romance books. She releases often and makes quite a bit of money. I asked her where she felt she gets her biggest boost from. She didn’t even hesitate when she told me that her newsletter sells more books than anything else she does. Especially new releases.

A lot of people roll their eyes when they see the “Sign up for my Newsletter” box pop up on a website, but I have to tell you, that as of right now, a newsletter is a great way to connect with people.

There are a few distinct camps when it comes to newsletters.

The first are those that feel that newsletters should be few and far between. Only put them out when you have something important going on, like a new release or a sale.

The second are those that want a little more. Perhaps updates on current projects (tantalize those readers) and other exciting announcements. This camp doesn’t mind regular emails. Maybe once a month.

The third are those that want to know everything about the author. They want to know about their kids, their cats, their frustrations, their triumphs…everything and anything. These people are good with emails once every other or even every week.

None of these is wrong.

In truth, you should pick the one that’s best for you. Do you hate putting out newsletters? Does it stress you out? Don’t feel like you have much to say? Then do the first. If you like to engage your readers a little more, go for the second. If you love people and want to connect more personally, go for the third.

One thing that I appreciate is when I sign up for a newsletter, that the author or company tells me how often I’m likely to hear from them. That sets up the expectation in my mind, and I’m totally fine when my email gets hit once a week, or once a month, or once every three months.

Personally, I’m between two and three. I don’t have any children or pets, so I can’t regale people with tales of my mothering woes, pet antics or honey-covered kitchen floors. But what I do have is a nerdy husband who thinks he’s hilarious. So he has his own little spot at the bottom of my newsletter where I usually post some stupid meme he’s sent me that he thinks is funny. Sometimes he’s right, sometimes he’s wrong. But it’s always there.

I also include an update about what I’m working on or perhaps an announcement. If we’ve been on vacation I usually share some pictures. There’s a section where I generally share a giveaway I’m involved in or someone else’s book (a book that I think my readers will like). And then I have a permanent call for people to join my review team. And that’s it.

I send my newsletter out every two weeks. Once in a while that changes, but not often.

The biggest connections I’ve made are when I ask a question of my readers. What fandom do they love and why? What are they grateful for that day? Where would they love to travel? Things like that. Sometimes I get one answer, other times I get a lot more.

I attended a class on newsletters last year, and the presenter asked, “If your favorite actor/singer/famous person sent a newsletter of what they did that week, would you read it?”

Uh, yeah. I might. I mean, what is Harrison Ford doing today?

So think of yourself not as a bother, but as an addition to people’s lives. Don’t waste their time, but give them a reason to make some time for you. Even if it’s just a few minutes.