Category Archives: Book Launch

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.)

Indie Bookstores: The Untapped Resourse

A lot of the indie authors I know distribute online and only online. And why shouldn’t they? It’s easy, it’s cheap, and that’s where a large percentage of the market is. However, that still leaves the rest of the book-buying market. Where are they purchasing? Well, most of that remaining section of the market shops at brick and mortar stores and while this seems like it’s an insignificant portion of the market, when done right, it can become your largest market. However, it can be difficult to get into the brick-and-morter market. Chains like Barnes and Noble or Powell’s can be tricky to get into. B&N requires indies to jump through a lot of hoops and at Powell’s you pretty much have to know someone on the inside to get them to stock an indie title. But indie bookstores are usually a lot more approachable and using them to reach more readers can get you access to almost all of the book buying market.

Before I go into the how, I want to apologize because this is a topic I could write pages and pages about so it’s going to be more of an overview because I don’t have the space on this forum to really go in depth. Hopefully in the future I can talk more about the specifics. It’s also going to focus on the small, single location indie bookstores since the big chains can be problematic. I also want to acknowledge that not every indie author will see this route as a good option for them. It is more work — and it is work that takes you away from creating the next masterpiece — and there are a few hoops to jump through. If you’re making a considerable amount from online sales the extra work may not be worth it to you. For me, it has been worth it. For every book (both digital and print) I sell online, I sell three print copies in indie bookstores. Seriously. My sales ratio really is 3:1. Now granted, I’ve been working at an indie bookstore for twenty years so I do have an advantage in getting my books on local store shelves but it’s not hard for everyone else to do it too.

The first, and probably most important, is to have a relationship with the store’s staff. If you shop there, and the staff know your face, they will be more willing to take on your book — even if it’s a genre that they normally don’t sell. It’s easier to justify taking a risk on a book from someone you know, than a complete stranger. If there isn’t an indie store near you, I do realize that this may not be possible. But if there is, it’s worth the time investment to go every once and a while to browse and develop that relationship.

The second is to know your book’s primary genre and gear your pitch and promotional materials (sell sheet, bookmarks, etc.) toward that. Say that your book is historical fiction with a touch of fantasy and mystery and your back copy emphasizes all genre elements of all three. That makes it impossible for staff to know where to shelve it or what kind of readers to suggest it to, which makes it nearly impossible to sell. If you focus on the single most prevalent genre for your back copy, branding, and promotional materials it’s going to make it a lot more appealing to the store and a lot easier to sell. Another thing to be aware of and use to your advantage is popular authors who have similar title and your alsobots. One of the indie titles my store carries is a historical novel in the same vein of Jane Kirkpatrick — one of our top selling authors. I put a note on the cover encouraging Jane Kirkpatrick fans to check out this indie title and it’s been flying off the shelf ever since.

When you’re ready to ask them about carrying your book there’s a lot of information you need them to give you. Do they buy the book directly from you or consign? A lot of stores won’t order from Createspace and Ingram isn’t very good about accurately displaying information for Sparks titles so don’t be surprised if they want you to be the distributor. You also need to know for what length of time they’ll carry it. If they consign, what is the payment percentage? Do they pay 40% of the list price? 50%? More? When do they pay you for sold copies? Will they contact you if they restock and when will that happen? When the last copy sells or at the end of the consignment period? Will they let you reclaim unsold stock? Do they require you to pay a consignment/stocking fee? Who is the main contact person? Do they do in-store book signings and/or readings? All of these things are going to vary from store to store so if they have a print out of their policy be sure to get one for your records so you can keep track.

Be sure to promote on your website and social media that the store is carrying your book. If you’re doing a signing/reading, promote that too. Don’t do it just once either. Post reminders during the holidays that your book makes a great gift and they can buy it online AND at the local bookstore. Let it gradually sink into the public’s mind that they don’t have to wait a day or five for the Amazon Fairy to deliver a print copy. They can buy it at the local store and read it now!

Once all of that is done you can usually kick back, relax, and resume writing the next tome. Some stores might require a little more follow through and some periodical check ins but the hard, laborious, slightly scary part is over. Even if indie stores turn out to be only a small portion of your overall sales, it never hurts to have your books in another part of the market. The more people you reach, the more you can sell.

When Torcs Fly – Celebrating a Launch

When Torcs FlyIt seems we don’t get nearly enough days to celebrate a completed project. We work for weeks, months, and sometimes even years to release a book worthy of our fans. The celebration is never big enough or long enough, but there’s nothing like holding a new book in your hands (even if it’s a kindle copy).

Today is a celebration day!

When Torcs Fly – a Petralist novella – released in ebook form Marcy 30th!

It will release in paperback in May.

Tomas and Cameron enjoy good insults as much as they enjoy great bash fights. These elite fighters and determined goofballs have an unbreakable streak of disrespect and contempt for authority. Even the mighty Captain Rory depends on them.

Their places were not always so secure.

Rewind a few years to the day they first try to win acceptance into the Fast Rollers special-forces company. Their brawn-over-brains approach is exactly the wrong way to make the attempt, and chances of making the team are less than winning a kiss from an angry pedra.

With their most cherished dreams on the line, these two bash fighters must risk thinking deeper thoughts, learn to work together against a band of crafty Grandurians, and prove they’re smarter than the average torc.

Fans of fast-paced, humorous fantasy will love this hilarious adventure.

Check out When Torcs Fly, along with the main Petralist series on Amazon,

or on my website.

Petralist Series 1-3