Category Archives: Giveaways

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.)

Using Conventions & Appearances to Build Your Base

One of the toughest things an author has to do besides cranking out a sizable body of incredible work is to get those works in front of reader’s noses. Jim Butcher, Stephen King, and all of the other household names don’t have to do that since the world is ready to drive like a maniac to the bookstore to get their next novel. When our latest work comes out, few of those same rabid readers notice. It’s possible the only being that is waiting to read your book is your dog, who has been loyal and supportive for all those years of toiling behind a keyboard.

The problem is to get your name and novel to the readers, which means they have to connect your name to your book. One way to do that is to go to genre conventions as a panelist and find other appearance opportunities to garner some name recognition.

If people remember that you were funny, smart, or even just nice and friendly, they’re going to connect your name to positive thoughts. “Oh, yeah, that person who was on the panel at BigCon who kept making me laugh.” If they remember enjoying your humor, they might pick up a book to re-experience the fun. If they can recall how nice you were to them as you signed a free bookmark and not trying to guilt them into buying a book, they’re more apt to plunk down a few bucks to make up for running out of money because they bought a ten dollar hot dog and a five dollar soda.

There are several Fictorian posts about getting into conventions, so I’ll just give you this link if you want to find out more.

The other thing you can do to get your name out there is to look for other interesting opportunities. A good example happens to be tomorrow’s Free Comic Book Day, a worldwide event that happens the first Saturday in May. There are readers who will be converging on one location in your neighborhood, so why not be there to smile and to offer them something. Tonya and I will be at Freedom Comics in Lebanon, Missouri tomorrow. Tonya is a professional cosplayer and an author, so she thought it would be a good idea to go to the event dressed up as a comic book character. The shop is advertising us and will allow us to sell books and prints. We’re going to be bringing some copies of my graphic novel to give away in exchange for an email address for our list. Afterwards, there will be a slew of new potential readers who happen to be local. Now that they know who we are, we can send them some information when the next book comes out.

You can create your own event if you want. Do a “Meet the Author” at your local library. Visit some colleges or even high schools to talk to some classes about writing professionally. Bring books and set up an impromptu display at your local Starbucks while you eat your bagel and sip some expensive coffee, poking at your keyboard on your next blockbuster. The idea is to be accessible and to build some recognition. If you don’t try, it will be hard to accomplish your goals.

If you’re gifted with a very high midichlorian count, you can always use today’s reference to assist:

May the Fourth be with you.


 


About the Author:
DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
His latest novel, Solar Singularity, co-written with Josh Vogt and Peter Wacks, is a finalist for the 2018 Scribe Awards from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. The winners will be announced at San Diego ComicCon.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

Learning To Market My Book – Guest Post: Tony Dobranski

 

Learning To Market My Book

Guest Post: Tony Dobranski

I signed my book contract in March 2016. Since then, my professional life has been a crash course in marketing, a mix of constant research and the ongoing leap of faith that I knew how to reach my audience.

*A Marketing Primer

Marketing is how you tell your audience about your book. Because it’s a message, it can have creativity and artistry to it. Marketing is always a business act, however. It connects you with your audience so your audience wants to buy and share your book.

The huge changes brought by ebooks, independent publishing, social media, fan conventions, and giant corporate media mergers have completely upended the publishing business. Whatever business structure helps you get your work out to the world, you are your best marketer, and you will be for years to come.

*A Marketing Plan

When WordFire Press asked for the manuscript of The Demon in Business Class, they also asked for a marketing plan. I took it very seriously, examining my market, publisher, and novel, with an honest if enthusiastic eye. Never hide from the truth of your book. All lemons are potential lemonade.

Demon is a hybrid novel with corporate thriller and romance elements and a literary style. It has a forward-looking, niche audience, not in the mainstream of the fantasy genre, and aimed at mature readers. It’s also an outlier in the WordFire Press stable, which tends to more adventure and to an all-ages audience.

This gives a granular answer for where I find my audience: eager for novelty, happy with a relaxed approach to genre, wants good writing but also a plot. Comfortable with mature content, even pleased to have it. Interested in travel. It suggests their likes, their touchstones, how to reach them and with what kind of attitude. It’s clearly a market my publisher has yet to tap.

Plus, this audience spans genres. Romance readers, thriller readers, and people who care what the New Yorker reviews all have a subset with these same tastes. With a scenario that depends on magic, fantasy is my natural starting point, but modern shopping makes genre labels less prominent. You don’t browse Amazon aisles the way you browse bookstore aisles.

For all these reasons, it was clear Demon would depend even more than most books on word-of-mouth – a long process, but one where an author can help.

*Learning to Con

It took eight months from when I signed my contract to when my book could be bought by the greater public – on the most aggressive timetable possible, to get to fall conventions before shopping season. The WordFire Press staff pushed tremendously hard to make a stylish, bold product in double-time. I needed to be ready to be its author!

One major outlet where an author can make a personal impact is at fan conventions. If you don’t think your niche has them, you haven’t looked hard enough! It’s a good idea to attend them before you have a book to sell, to see what works for you as a con-goer and what you need to do to make being a con-guest worth your while.

In the science-fiction and fantasy genres, cons differ widely. Festival cons, or comic cons, have tens of thousands of fans celebrating all fantastic genres, but emphasizing the visual. Though these cons have discussion panels and interviews with artists, they are foremost a huge marketplace, with the added draw of the costumed shoppers themselves. You can find readers there – if you’re eye-catching and fast. They are budget-conscious and overwhelmed by sights, but they are eager for some new thing. If you have that thing, it’s a positive connection.

This inspired a banner and marketing materials narrowly tailored for my audience’s sensibility, with edge, wit, and maturity all quickly established. It helped to have an amazing cover!

dobranski-banner

 

So far it’s working. I see my title or cover or banner catch eyes and draw smiles, long enough at least for me to engage people. Readers with different tastes walk on by, which is just as good – better no sale than an angry bad review!

Literary cons are smaller, scholarly events, with a pronounced emphasis on readers and writers. Though the membership is only in the hundreds, these fans are deeply connected in the word-of-mouth fan communities, and eager to discuss their genre with creators and with other enthusiastic fans. The high writer-to-reader ratio makes for engaging discussions in hallways and at bars and suite parties. New writers will find both fellowship and validation.

You may get a reading slot or autograph table, but new writers get noticed on panels. Be courteous, especially when you disagree, and knowledgeable. Engage questions creatively, and as positively as you can. You and the other panelists are together an event for the audience. Look for creative ways to turn questions around.

Involve the crowd. Remember – in each audience are likely readers of your book.

*Social Media

Curated corners of social media still feature long-form writing, but blogs are passing. If you look at social media as a marketing channel, you’re competing with many other voices – sometimes, your own friends! Make your posts image-driven, eye-catching and quick to read.

For a book release, YA paranormal writer Shannon A Thompson makes single image “book teasers” with a character’s backstory and a clipart image. https://shannonathompson.com/2016/06/15/ww-how-to-create-book-teasers-on-a-small-budget/ I saw them as a great way to create interest in the story. Not only were they vastly less expensive than a video trailer, each one could be shared on its own.

Keeping in mind my core audience, I wanted to share my style and my hybrid setting. One night, while drifting off to sleep, I remembered my old Star Wars trading cards. Perhaps it was my dreamy state, but I imagined them as a kind of shattered and reassembled movie trailer, with important moments in random order, something familiar yet offbeat. Perhaps I could make the offbeat a path to the familiar.

I developed my own trading cards, online images with sly quotes from the book, and clip-art lookalikes of my characters that I made more expressive using the online Prisma app:

dobranski-cards

I made fifty-six, to release daily on social media in the two months spanning my release, my first readings and my four fall cons.

They were popular, and easier to share across multiple platforms. People told me the quotes and visuals gave a much better sense of my book than the title alone. You can still see them on my Instagram! www.instagram.com/adobranski

People crave original content, even if it’s commercial. If you can express your sensibility in small, steady streams of content, social media can send it far and wide.

* Check Your Tech

Tablets and smartphones are tough for long-form writing, but they are essential for social media. Remember the Prisma app for modifying stock photos to use on Instagram? Prisma is ONLY made for iOS and Android, not for computer desktops. While you can view an Instagram feed on a computer, you can’t post to it – handhelds only.

I hope my approaches inspire you to take a fresh look at how you can find your audience, creatively and entertainingly. Each book has a different main and secondary audience, and a different publication path – giving a unique set of marketing opportunities. Maybe next year will be your year of marketing!

A Stone’s Throw – Launching a Sequel

A Stone's Throw coverToday I’m celebrating the launch of A Stone’s Throw, the sequel to my popular YA fantasy novel, Set in Stone!

In this highly anticipated sequel, Connor travels to the Carraig, the school of the Petralists, hoping to learn more about his curse and gain patronage on his own terms before his curse rages out of control.

Things don’t go according to plan.

At the Carraig, it’s all about the game, and the stakes have never been higher. Connor plunges into a maze of deadly intrigue as old enemies appear from under every rock, and new challenges threaten to destroy everything he’s trying to accomplish.

With the help of loyal friends, he launches his own game, breaking all the rules, and gambling everything on a daring attempt to control his own fate and save the lives of the ones he loves.

It’s a fun read, full of big adventure, big magic, and lots more humor. It builds upon the thrilling foundation created with Set in Stone. The book’s available in ebook, hardcover, and paperback formats. Help me celebrate the launch by picking up your own copy.

I’m also offering a special deal to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. They’ll receive a free Kindle copy of Saving Face, the prequel to my fast-paced alternate history fantasy series, the Facetakers. They’ll also receive a $5 off coupon for the Kindle version of Set in Stone. So if you haven’t started the series yet, that’s the cheapest way to check it out.

Merry Christmas! And happy reading.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers alternate history fantasy series, check his website: www.frankmorin.org