Radio for Writers

Speakers at the recent Mystery Writers of America Florida Chapter meeting were radio hosts Christine DiMattei and Erik Remmel, who spoke on “Radio for Writers.”

Disclaimer: This article is based on my notes. Any errors are my interpretation alone.

Christine is a broadcast news reporter/anchor at WLRN, a National Public Radio station. Erik is the Founder and President of Life Improvement Media Group, a marketing and media company. He broke ground in Podcasting and Internet Radio. In the four years since launching, LIMG has built a loyal audience with millions of unique listeners per year. http://lifeimprovementmedia.com/. Moderator was Miriam Auerbach.

Radio Writers

Christine claims her type of broadcast radio “is not going anywhere.” Eric does Internet-based radio. He says his shows are uplifting and positive with a focus on health-related topics. He can obtain demographics and notes seniors these days are more technically proficient while children are ten years ahead in terms of tech knowledge than earlier eras. Unlike broadcast radio, you don’t have to watch your language on the Internet as FCC rules don’t apply. There’s less structure but also less cost for Internet radio. Podcasts are popular. You can put them up for free on iTunes and this will attract customer reviews. A good podcast runs for a half hour to one hour average. A livecast is streaming radio. Use keywords during Podcasts. Blog Talk is free by Google.

Christine looks for sense of place stories. “What is your story?” It’s not about your book, but about who you are as a person and as an author. What are you passionate about? How do you stand out from the crowd?

“Be brazen” to contact a show via email. Give them a bold phrase out of your book. Catch their interest up front. Email and then call to follow up. Tweet, call, email. “Persistence pays.” In the subject line of your email, put Interview Request or Mystery Writer Requesting Interview. Use formal last names in your introductory letter.

Once you have an engagement, send the interviewer your print promotional materials. You must have a Web presence. Both speakers emphasized the need for a website and for authors to be active on social media.

Tips on Appearances

Do not ask for a list of questions from your interviewer ahead of time. However, do send a bio to your host.

Figure out a way to break the ice with the interviewer when you arrive.

Do not pitch your book when answering questions.

Prepare an excerpt to read. You can ask your readers to select one. They might choose something totally different that you would as the author. An excerpt should be one or two paragraphs as you have very limited time on air. Make it a dramatic scene and be expressive.

Prepare four to eight talking points about your book.

Know your Internet URLs by heart.

Do not wear jangly jewelry to the interview.

If calling in the interview, use a landline if possible or try Skype.

In a commercial break, you can suggest topics that come to mind during your interview.

Finally, Christine reminds us that “Your interviewer is your partner” and is there to help you shine.

<><><>

So have you done live radio or blog interviews? What tips do you have to offer?

NOTE: Today is the Last Day for early registration at SleuthFest 2015. See post below.

Blogging Made Perfect

So you want to write a blog. Or you already have a blog but want to increase your subscribers. What now? Here are tips on getting started and attracting followers.

Define Your Purpose.

Do you wish to share news about your work? Be recognized as an expert in your field? Build a community? Engage with readers? Have other writers look to you for advice? Share information relevant to a special interest?

Determine Your Goals.

Do you mean to increase book sales? Have a substantial number of followers? Get a number of comments on each blog? Have folks reblog your posts? Receive requests for guest posts?

Set Parameters.

How often do you intend to post? What days of the week are best? What time during the day will more people likely read your post? How long should each post be?

Brainstorm Topics.

When you’re writing a book, jot down blog topics related to your theme, research, and writing process. These will be useful either to show your story in progress or to provide fodder for blog tours when your new release comes out. Meanwhile, determine what readers want to know and address these topics. What information can you share with others that might be useful? How can your content add value to people’s lives? In what way can your personal anecdotes inspire others? Some authors set certain days for specific blog topics. For example, one day they might post recipes. Another day they might bring in a guest blogger. Excerpts, book reviews, or trivia related to a particular hobby or personal interest might fill in other slots. Or you might wing it, writing posts as they come to you. Just keep in mind the image or brand you wish to project.

Acquire a Site.

When you’re ready to start, register at WordPress.com or Blogger.com for a free site. Or add a blog to your website. Become familiar with the features and start posting.

Link Blog to Your Social Media Sites.

Not only should visitors be able to tweet and share your particular article around the Web, but your posts should be automatically tweeted and sent to your Facebook pages. Check your Settings for how to enable these features or ask your Web designer to add the proper Plug-In. Get Share Buttons at http://www.sharethis.com or http://www.addtoany.com Add your blog to Networked Blogs, http://www.networkedblogs.com. Some authors use Triberr to raise their visitors: http://triberr.com/landing/bloggers.

What Pages Should Your Blog Site Contain?

Keep in mind that visitors to your blog, if separate from your website, might not visit you elsewhere. So consider what tabs you’ll want to have. Here are some suggestions: Home; About (Bio); Appearances; Book Trailers; Books List; Contact (your email); Contests. In one sidebar, you can show your book covers. In lieu of this, you can use a rotating carousel or slide show from Amazon. Sidebars can also contain a Blog Roll, Search box, Subscribe button, Social Networking Icons, Live Twitter feed, and RSS feed button.

Include Photos in your posts.

Photos will draw more hits, but be careful of copyright issues. Upload your own photos. Buy photos at royalty-free sites or at least make sure you provide attribution. Many writers skirt this issue, but you do so at your own risk.

Tag your Posts.

Use tags and categories with keywords to drive traffic to your site. Tags are for individual posts while categories classify your topics.

Avoid Messy Code Issues.

Write your blog in Word or another word processing program to keep your files on your hard drive. Then copy and paste each blog to Notepad or Windows Live Writer. These eliminate messy code issues. Download Windows Essentials for free from Microsoft. This includes Windows Movie Maker (for DIY book trailers), Photo Gallery and Live Writer. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/essentials

Offer a Blog Roll.

Ask other authors for a cross-exchange of links. More links leads to more traffic.

How to Gain Followers

*Post often. Some people set themes, like “Recipe Monday” or “Guest Blogger Wednesday” or “Photo Friday.” Be consistent in your approach. If you prefer to blog randomly, still do so two or three times a week. Keep your material current.
*Have a clear and catchy headline.
*End your post with a question to stimulate discussion.
*Don’t use your blog solely to promote your books. You’re building a community of readers who want to get to know you, or else you are establishing yourself as an expert by offering useful material. Share new release info, reviews, contests and such sparingly.
*Comment on other people’s blogs.
*Invite guests who have a following.
*Always respond to comments and respect others’ opinions.
*Offer giveaways to commenters.
*Evaluate results. If you get a lot of comments on certain types of posts, steer your blog in that direction. Be responsive to readers. Note what engenders interest and what does not.
*Be careful what you put out there. This is a public post. Avoid politics, religion, and any mention of personal business or issues you don’t want to share.
*Always be respectful of other industry professionals.
*Link to other authors and favorite pages as appropriate to help spread the word about their sites.

Index Your Blog

When your blog is a few years old, you might want to reblog an article. Keeping records of the topics, categories, and dates will help you retrieve these files. I suggest you write your blog in Word and save the posts by month and year. It’s imperative to keep your own blogs on your computer so you don’t lose them if there’s an online snafu. Then keep a separate file that’s an index so you can quickly search topics.

Blog Hops

Blog Hops pool you with other authors. Study your listserves for these opportunities or get one going with your author friends yourself. What is it? Each author posts a blog about an agreed upon topic with links to all the other bloggers on a particular day. Offering a prize for commenters will bring people to your sites, and hopefully you’ll gain new readers from among these other authors’ fans. Participating in a blog hop will broaden your exposure.

Blog Tours

If you wish to do a blog tour, determine if you want to do guest posts, author interviews, or have the site offer a review or book blast. Then solicit hosts by asking other authors if you can guest on their site. Make sure you study their slant and offer an appropriate topic. Write your guest posts and assign each one to a host. To attract readers, offer a grand prize drawing from all commenters, a prize on each site or a Rafflecopter contest. Publish your tour schedule on your website and broadcast it on your social networks. Be sure to show up the day of the posting to answer comments. OR hire a virtual tour company if you don’t wish to DIY: Goddish Fish Promotions http://www.goddessfish.com, Great Escapes http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/ (Free Cozy Mystery Tours), Bewitching Book Tours (Paranormal Romance), http://bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.com/, Buy the Book Tours http://www.buythebooktours.com/#axzz2OqJtoGjs , Partners in Crime http://www.partnersincrimetours.net/

What other tips would you add?

 

New Release Day!

Today is the official launch day for Warrior Lord, book #3 in the Drift Lords series. Join my LAUNCH PARTY today only 10am – 4 pm at https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty   Giveaways all Day!

Warrior Lord

Pottery sculptor Erika Sherwood has no idea her televised wedding in Las Vegas is for real until an official confirms she and the stranger she’s just met are legitimately wed.

A Drift Lord and warrior of the Tsuran, Magnor tricks the redhead into marriage because she’s one of six women prophesied to save Earth. But as he’s forced into her company in their race against the apocalypse, he wonders if he risks his heart more than his life.

Can a free-spirited ceramic artist and a fierce swordsman trust each other enough to prevent disaster?

 

 

Add on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22710040-warrior-lord

Order at Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=831

Amazon Print: http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Lord-Nancy-J-Cohen/dp/1628304456/

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Drift-Lords-Nancy-Cohen-ebook/dp/B00MAUCB3W

Enter my Contests Here

Follow my Blog Tour and win More Prizes

 

Marketing and Selling Your Books

Marketing and Selling Your Books with Sophia Knightly

At a recent meeting of the Florida Romance Writers, Inc., USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Sophia Knightly shared her promotional strategies. A two-time Maggie award finalist and a P&E Readers’ Poll finalist, she is traditionally published by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington, and Samhain Publishing. Her popular indie published Tropical Heat Series books have consistently been on Amazon bestseller lists and sold over 100,000 copies.

Sophia Knightly

Sophia started off by mentioning 7 book promotion strategies:

1. Image and Promotional Strategies
2. Website and Social Media
3. Conferences and Book Signings
4. Promotion and Advertising
5. Collaborative Initiatives
6. Publishing Sales Infrastructure
7. Measuring and Tracking Performance

Start by defining and creating your brand. Consider your style and marketing image. Personalize your message as much as possible. Toot your horn in your signature line and create a tagline for your brand.

Packaging the image includes your book covers, series branding, bundled box sets, stock photos. Label your work a “short novella” if it is one so readers know what to expect. Sophia recommends Gilded Heart Designs and Kim Killion as designers. For herself, she uses Pikasa for graphic design.

You’ll want to put out a newsletter featuring your author news, events, contests, and appearances.

A street team can be helpful in creating buzz, cheerleading, and reviews. Send ARCs to your team with a deadline for reviews. In return, you can provide swag and online parties. Sophia currently has 33 people in her team. She takes members off after six months if they don’t participate. She’ll show team members her new covers, ask them questions on a message board, and provide swag and a welcome package that may include T-shirts, postcards, bookmarks, trading cards, magnets, and Emery boards. She holds reader contests and gives appreciation gifts of chocolates or a gift basket at special events where she appears in person.

Build your story and themes. For example, if there’s a dog in your story, put a picture of the dog online and feature him in your Facebook posts. Create a holiday message from the dog. Sophia did a Facebook page for her dog character “Romeo”, but you could use any other secondary character as long as you do steady posts.

Attend industry conferences, hold contests, and do signings. Sign up for Autography with iPad and Authorgraph on Kindle.

“The more books you put out there, the more you’ll sell.” Check out the Author Network and Indie Romance Ink which have lots of resources.

Embed your book blurb for the sequel in the back of a book. Use vendor specific links and a newsletter sign-up link in your back material.

Promotion and Advertising Sites

Check out paid ad sites such as Book Bub , E-reader News Today, Kindle Books and Tips, Kindle Book Blast, and Book Gorilla.

Do Facebook sponsored posts for five dollars a day when you want to announce a new release, have an online party, or get people to sign up for your newsletter.

Collaborative Initiatives

Sophia reached the USA Today bestseller list when she combined her two Tropical Heat Series books, Wild for You and Sold on You in a boxed set and reduced the price to $0.99 for a limited time sale.

She made the New York Times bestseller list through a collaborative effort with 6 other authors in the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set. Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set has been on the USA Today bestseller list for three consecutive weeks since publication in early March.

Pricing

Price according to the word count. Run sales often and bundle books in a series. Offer occasional freebies or make things Permafree. Have a loss leader pricing, like the first book in a series for $2.99, while subsequent titles are $3.99. You can drop the price on sale to $.99 for a limited time like 1 to 2 weeks. Sophia will offer a box set for $3.99 and then she’ll put it on sale for $.99.

Be current on models and trends. Go back further on royalty-free sites to find images, or the same image might be used too often by other authors.

Website and Social Media

Facebook will tell you which posts are doing better. Use visual images with Facebook and Pinterest. Put up photos of fun stuff to connect with readers. If a post doesn’t have an image, less people will read it. Like your own post. The more Likes, the more people who will see it.

Use Twitter, HootSuite, Goodreads, Instagram, and do giveaways. Offer short videos. Put a video in your newsletter inviting people to your Facebook party. Interview members of your lifeboat team on video and invite people to enter your group contest.

Have a contest on Facebook giving away e-books, fun stuff that women love, and gift cards. Network by joining book groups on Facebook. Twitter is better in the morning, late afternoon, or after dinner. Have your buy links everywhere. Have a tab on your Facebook author page for your mailing list sign-up.

A lot of readers are on Wattpad. It’s a free site where you can put up the first few chapters of your book including buy links.

“Write more books. Release them often.” She believes you should have a product out every three months. It’s the number one way to sell more books and build a large readership.

<><><>

Follow Sophia Online:

Website: http://www.sophiaknightly.net/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Knightly/e/B00663POSI/

 

 

Cracking Discoverability

Contest
Enter to win 1 of 4 signed ARCs of Hanging By A Hair in my Goodreads Giveaway: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/81598-hanging-by-a-hair

<><><>

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

“Cracking Discoverability” with Terry Odell, Neil Plakcy, Eileen Robertson, Peggy Hanson, and Sandra Balzo as moderator.

P1030466

Find your public and reach out to them. Look for mystery listserves like Dorothy L and 4 Mystery Addicts, and join their discussions to establish a presence. Check out groups on Goodreads and LinkedIn for mystery readers. Look for book blogs. Check out Novel Spot for readers.

Terry said, “The key to social networks is being social.” Don’t push your book. You want people to like your post and then they will look up your books.

Peggy gets a lot of hits posting about her cats so she agrees with Terry. “PR stuff is very hard, but if you present yourself as a person, people may become interested in you as a writer.”

Eileen belongs to a group of women mystery writers, and they tour together for events. “The reader is far more important than the writer.” And even if they get your book at the library, then they’ll want to read the rest of your works.

According to Terry, “The best thing you can do on Facebook is to share.” She mentions Rafflecopter for contests and then discussed how to get your Facebook friends to migrate to your Facebook page. Ask them periodically to Like your page.

Neil discussed what makes a good newsletter. You can pepper in short chunks of research, fun and interesting facts, sneak peeks at your next work, giveaways, contests with prizes including other authors’ books. Get readers onto your blog with recipes, pets, or other interesting tidbits.

Friday Lunch Keynote Speaker Ace Atkins

P1030464
Ace discussed his road to publication and how he kept persisting. You get knocked down, you get back up and listen how to improve your work. Get out to meet people, real people related to your work. If you’re not passionate about the material and love it, think about why you’re in this business. Leave out the stuff people skip over and get to the story. Listen to people talk to learn to write dialogue. Don’t watch television to learn.

Examine who you’re targeting when you submit to an editor. What are their tastes and interests?

Don’t ever stop writing. If it’s not working, start something else. Keep going. If an agent or editor aren’t working out, move on. Always keep the book going. You’ll only get better.

Coming Next: Editors Roundtable

 

 

 

Business Card Protocol

“Never leave home without it.” American Express uses this advertising slogan but it can well apply to your life as a writer, too. Always carry bookmarks, postcards, or business cards with you. You never know when the opportunity will arise to pass them out.

Today, we met up outside the post office with a former colleague of my husband’s whom he hasn’t seen in years. The men got to chatting. When the friend mentioned how he listened to audio books on his trips north, I whipped out my card. Ah ha, a booklover, I thought! Even though my mysteries are not available in audio formats (and I have asked for my rights back, in case you are wondering, but the publisher is hanging onto them), I figured he might look up my works or pass the card along to his wife.

Then I went shopping for some black leather gloves to take to New York City, when I go there next month for my orientation as President for Florida Chapter of MWA. I gave the saleslady a business card in exchange for my receipt. She was delighted to meet an author. So maybe I scored two readers out of today’s excursions, who knows?

It’s easier to carry a business card than other formats in your purse or pocket, so what should you include? I buy my cards at Vistaprint and use their templates. That makes things simpler. Since I brand myself as a Florida author, the palm tree motif suits my needs just fine.

Side One

You could put your book cover on side one and the information on the other. But I use my first side to introduce who I am as an author.

clip_image002

Here you’ll find my tag line, social links to Twitter and Facebook, my Website and Blog URLs, plus my email address. In the early days, I listed my PO Box address and phone number. I wouldn’t do this anymore. Few people contact me this way now. However, I do keep a couple of those cards around for conferences or events where I might make contact for a possible speaking engagement. I’ll hand those people the cards with my phone number. Everyone else gets this card, and I carry them everywhere.

Side Two

This is where the book info goes: title, author name, series, ISBNs, formats and buy links. I provide QR codes that take readers either to my Website or my Amazon author page.

clip_image004

What is a QR code? It’s a box with encoded information that sends customers to a page online where they obtain information or perform an action. The site may be a URL or may show text such as an excerpt from your latest book. Smartphone users must download a free QR reader app to scan the codes. How do you get your own code? Type “QR Code Generator” into your search window. Go to the site and follow directions. Save your code as a picture file to your computer. Make sure you label what it is so you can remember. Then use it on your printed promotional materials.

Since I write in two genres, I’ve put one mystery book cover and one romance book cover on my business cards. My latest title is the one that’s usually featured (Warrior Prince isn’t my latest, but you get the idea). Once you have the template on Vistaprint, it’s easy to substitute new book covers and data.

Besides handing out your business cards at conferences or putting them on your book signing table, what else can you do with these items? Stick them in the bills that you still snail mail to the vendor. Hand one with your restaurant receipt to the waitress. Give one to the post office clerk, people you meet at parties, anyone who mentions they like to read. One thing I do not stoop to doing is approaching strangers who are reading. I don’t care to intrude. Otherwise, blatant self-promotion is the rule. Don’t be afraid to toot your horn.

What do you put on your business cards?

 

Time Management for Writers

How do you balance writing with online promotion? Marketing efforts take hours on the Internet. How can you keep up with tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest, and more?

I am always asked this question whenever I give talks. It’s not easy to strike a balance. Often the online business takes over. But here are my Four Rules to guide you.

(1) Writing Comes First.

writing

Set yourself a daily writing or revision quota. When I am writing, I must complete 5 pages a day or 25 pages per week. When I’m doing self-edits, I try for a chapter a day but that doesn’t always work out. Either way, I must move forward with my current project.

Finish at least half of your quota before allowing yourself to check email. Or if you must, do a quick email check first to get it off your mind.

Limit your time online or you’ll get sucked into cyberspace. Go offline after the allotted time and return to your writing. Finish your daily quota. Then you can have the rest of the day free for social networking, meeting friends, or whatever suits your fancy.

(2) If things get too hectic, take Time Out.

Planning a blog tour, tweeting about a new release, guest blogging on another website, and running a contest? Does this make you nuts? Does it make your breathing come short and your pulse race? Time to calm down. Do something fun for thirty minutes. Take a walk, polish your nails, read a cooking magazine, play with your pet, listen to music. When you feel calmer, go back to work.

Pet

(3) Set aside time just for marketing.

If things are building to an intolerable level, you may need to take a few days off to focus solely on promotion. Prioritize your projects. What needs to get done first? Tackle one thing at a time. Do you have to get your next email newsletter ready to go? Do it. Need to plan a Rafflecopter contest? Fill out the form. Have two weeks of blogs to write for an upcoming virtual tour? Decide upon your topics and write drafts for each one. Accomplishing a few of the items on your promotional campaign list will help you feel more in control.

person

(4) Realize that life interferes. It’s going to happen, so take the time you need to deal with strife, and don’t feel guilty about being away from the computer. It happens to everyone. You’ll get your mojo back when the time comes. If not, you’ll find something else to bring your life meaning. We follow different paths throughout life. Yours may take you in another direction.

beach walker

Today is an example of how I work these rules. I did a few pages of revision this morning for about an hour. Then I allowed myself to scan my email. I answered the few items that needed a personal reply, and then shut off my Outlook program. I took a walk. Did more pages. Went on the exercise bike. Line edited some more. Peeked at email again. Back to the chapter. Finally, I finished my page quota for the day. It’s only 12:30 pm, but I started at 4:30 am. And now I’m writing this blog. Oops, the lawn guy is here and I need to talk to him. Big distraction. Go out, have discussion, back to work on blog. And so on through the afternoon. I could work, or I could go out with friends or my husband and take time off without any guilt. Because the writing comes first. When that’s done, all the rest is gravy.

Remember to visit our site over at Booklover’s Bench where I’ve joined with several other writers to offer contests, excerpts, and more.

Booklovers Bench

Also, please sign up for my quarterly email newsletter. I’ve an issue coming out April 26 and there’s a bonus subscriber drawing for some free books by my fellow BB authors. Look in the left sidebar on my Website for the sign-up form.

How do you balance your writing time with promotion?

Outside the Box Marketing

How can you raise your readership and increase your book sales? Today at the MWA-FL Chapter meeting, Joanna Campbell Slan spoke on Promoting Outside of the Box. Joanna is the author of three mystery series, including the Kiki Lowenstein books and her newest Jane Eyre mystery, Death of a Schoolgirl. Joanna offered tips on increasing visibility online as she explained what works for her. Here are some ideas I gleaned from her excellent presentation:

End each book with a hook. You’ll want your story to have a satisfactory ending, but include an element that will make the reader anxious for the sequel.

In between your regular releases, offer short stories or novellas in digital formats and for a low price. Relate the titles clearly to your series.

Include a list of titles in series order in your works whenever possible. Also add links to all your social networking sites, plus consider links to other sites relating to your story.

If you are self-publishing, ask for Beta readers on your Facebook page. Request that these people do not share the file and that they consider putting a review on Amazon when the book is available online.

Give readers suggestions on how to help when you answer their fan mail, i.e. “Please share with your friends” or “This book would make a great gift.”

Five star reviews on Amazon help readers who search for these ratings to find your books. Encourage your fans to spread the word and contribute to positive customer reviews.

Create an account on Pinterest and put up your book covers there.

When you do posts on Facebook, start the update with a headliner type line or an intriguing sentence that will catch attention.

<><><>

These are all great suggestions. Now if only I had a clone to implement them! Thanks, Joanna, for a great session.

Free Writers Marketing Camp

Marketing Summer Camp July 14-15, 2012

Marketing Summer Camp is a free, two-day online conference designed to help authors learn the basics of marketing and promotion, and to fine tune skills already obtained. It will include guest speakers, pitch opportunities, prizes, top giveaways, and plenty of learning and fun. It will be held on the Yahoo group, Marketing for Romance Writers. Membership is open to published as well as non-published authors, editors, publishers, literary agents, author promotion services, cover artists, and virtual assistants. MFRW members are automatically signed up for Camp. If you want to take a particular course, read the messages posted with that title of the class. If you want to skip that class, don’t read them. It’s going to be that easy. Handouts and goody bags will be up for grabs once the conference begins. Giveaways include advertising packages, blog tours, and more. Discounts on services will also be available for all attendees.

PITCH APPOINTMENTS
There will be pitch appointments with multiple publishers for camp attendees. These will take place after camp so you don’t have to miss classes.

Sign up NOW by joining the group: http://is.gd/mfrwgroup

To learn more:
Website: http://is.gd/mfrworg
Paperli: http://is.gd/mfrwpaperli
Newsletter: http://is.gd/mfrwnews
Facebook group: http://is.gd/mfrwfb
Marketing Camp Schedule: http://is.gd/mfrw_camp_hours

The MFRW Friends of Romance Award is presented to companies seeking to aid authors with promotion at little or no cost, and to offer affordable programs. In 2012 they are: The Romance Studio, Romance Junkies, and CoffeeTime Romance. The award is one way we can help authors and publishers save money and obtain ethical and excellent service. http://marketingforromancewriters.org/friends.htm

PRINTED PROMO MATERIALS

A writer can spend days preparing for a new release in terms of printed promo materials. Should you do bookmarks, postcards, or flyers? Tri-fold brochures, business cards, or posters? As more publicity is gained on the Internet, you’d think we could decrease this expense. However, readers still like bookmarks. Postcards are handy to put on promo tables or in goody bags at conferences. Brochures are useful when you give talks so the audience can learn more about you. Flyers or posters work for libraries and bookstores where you’ve scheduled an event. So where to start?

Here are eight points to consider when making your plans:

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE ITEM?

 

Deciding what you want the item for will help you choose what to buy. Do you want something to keep in your purse that you can whip out when you meet someone and they ask what you do? Think business card with book cover on one side and book info on the other. Or a bookmark. Do you want something that will stand out on conference promo tables (other than imprinted cutsie items like letter openers, notepads, pens, etc.)? Think glossy postcards. What about talks where you have the chance to reach a larger audience? You can put your items on each chairs if you are the sole speaker or offer them at the table with your books for sale. Bookmarks and brochures work well for this venue. Or will you snail mail your reading list? Then postcards or tri-fold brochures are a must. Consider ordering return address labels with a preformatted design and your name, book title, and website, or your one liner tag line. These are good for sealing envelopes. Bookmarks and business cards are useful for sticking in envelopes if you still pay bills this way. So decide the function of your item and that will help you make a choice.

WHEN SHOULD I ORDER MY MATERIALS?

 

My book isn’t due out for another six months and yet I already have bookmarks and brochures. Why? Because I have several speaking engagements and a conference coming up, and I want to promote my upcoming title. So it’s never too soon to order your materials as long as you have the prerequisite data.

WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED?

 

Besides the title and author, you’ll want a book cover image usually in jpg format with good resolution, ISBN number, price, format (i.e. mass market, trade paperback, digital edition, etc.), publisher, release date, and how to order. You can restrict ordering to your publisher or say “Available at all retail and online bookstores.” Including your website is essential. Adding other contact info like email address, blog site, Twitter, Facebook, and so on is optional. Usually I offer my website, email, blog, and business address. What else? Depends on the item. Blurb about your book. Back cover copy. Review quotes. Excerpt. Backlist titles. What’s coming next. Short author bio. Recipes or fun tips that apply to your theme. These are optional. Just remember to include the basics.

WILL YOU NEED A DESIGNER?

 

Whether or not you have to hire a designer depends on how talented you are with graphic design and what programs you have on your computer. I use WordPerfect to design my bookmarks in terms of what I want to include on each side, but then I need a designer to add a background that compliments my book cover and to place the text appropriately. I also use WordPerfect to do a tri-fold brochure, and then I have double-sided copies made and folded at one of the office stores. It’s cheaper than hiring a company to do a glossy brochure and works for me just as well. Re postcards, I can put what I want on each side using Word but then I’d need a designer to fit the cover and text into the appropriate template, so I’d have to hire someone for postcards.

WHAT PRINTING SERVICE SHOULD YOU USE?

If you’re handy with templates and following directions, you can use a service like Vistaprint or Printplace.com. You’ll definitely save money. But if you need help, consider companies who are reasonably priced and offer designer services like Earthly Charms and Twig One Stop.

WHAT TYPE OF FINISH DO YOU WANT?

Do you intend to sign the materials or just hand them out? Do you want your items to stand out with a high gloss finish? If you want to sign them, a matte finish is best. Or you can do glossy on one side and matte on the other. Collect a sampling of other authors’ items from your friends or at your next conference and check out what appeals to you. Cardstock is another factor to consider. The heavier the weight, the more solid the item will feel to your readers. If my research is correct, Twig One Stop uses 12 pt cardstock which has worked fine for me in the past with a matte finish. This time my bookmarks from Earthly Charms is 14 pt cardstock with gloss on one side. This means I can only sign the back, and honestly, a nice matte would have worked fine on both sides. Bookmark size is another factor. How much info do you want to include? Again, look at bookmarks you’ve collected and see what size appeals to you.

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BUDGET?

If you plan to print your own materials using Avery templates from the local office store, count in the cost of the labels and ink and compare the number of items (i.e. 1000) to the cost if you ordered from a print service. Obviously, if you have a generous advance, you can go hog wild and order whatever you want. If your budget is limited, order only what you think you’ll need. You can always order a reprint if you need more, and the template then will be done so you won’t need to pay the designer fee again. Don’t forget to add in tax and shipping when comparing prices. Also, if you plan to make copies at the local office store, stop by and ask how much for 100 copies? 1000? Black and White? Color? Double sided? Look in the newspaper for discount coupons on Copy & Print services and then decide which is the best place to get your work done for the best price. I had my brochures copied at Office Depot because I got 25% off and their price was lower anyway than FedEx Office.

HOW MANY SHOULD YOU ORDER?

If you want to send promo items to conferences, you’ll need to think in terms of bundles of 50 to 100 items per conference and thus you’ll need to order a larger amount. Twig One Stop has a Publishers Package for $435. This includes 5000 each bookmarks, postcards, and business cards (with either standard contact info or your book promo info). That cost does not include the services of their designer, which you’ll need, or tax and shipping. Yes, you may have lots of items left over, but it could end up being cheaper than 1000 each bookmarks and 1000 postcards together. For example, ordering those separately at Earthly Charms would total approx. $432 including designer, tax, and shipping. For $435, plus designer fee, tax and shipping, you can get so much more. So think about how many items you need to get started and do your homework.

IT’S EXCITING when your printed materials arrive in the mail or you take them home from the print shop. Now you have something to hand out whenever you meet people on the street, in the store, or at your next conference. Wait until you have the essential data about your book and a cover jpg, research the options, and then don’t be shy about offering your new bookmark or brochure or postcard to whomever you meet.