I’m excited to have finished the book trailer for Hanging By A Hair, book #11 in my Bad Hair Day Mysteries. Marla and Dalton Vail move into their new neighborhood and discover a murder next door. Check out the video and see what you think. Shares and Comments are welcome!
I’m going to revise and repost my How-To Make A Book Trailer when I get the chance. It’s been so busy around here with the holidays, visits from the kids, and an upcoming cruise that it might not be any time soon. But I would like to share with you again the steps I took using Windows Movie Maker to create this video.
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.
Have you sold a book and now you’re panicking about what to do? Does the thought of book promotion strike terror into your writer’s heart? Here are some guidelines to get you started on the road to self-promotion. Always remember to be courteous, to avoid clogging the loops/tweets with your constant pronouncements, and to comment on other people’s posts in return. Don’t feel obligated to do everything mentioned here. Pick and choose what works best for you.
IMMEDIATELY UPON SIGNING CONTRACT:
Send press release to local newspapers and trade magazines. Copy any feature articles that result to editor and agent.
Send notices to alumni newsletters and professional organizations.
Solicit advance reviews/quotes from other authors.
Get professional photo taken or update photo.
Reserve your domain name or the domain name of your new series.
Announce the news on your website, blog, listserves, and social networks.
Send an email newsletter announcing the sale to all your mailing lists.
Post excerpts to raise interest.
4-6 MONTHS PRIOR TO PUB DATE:
Send galleys/ARCs/pdf copies to reviewers after making personal contact.
Reserve ad space in online or print sites.
Offer to write articles in trade magazines for issues matching pub date.
As soon as you get your book cover art, order business cards, printed promo materials, and swag.
Design video trailer.
Solicit booksignings and speaking engagements at writers groups, community clubs, conferences, and libraries.
Add cover and blurb to your online sites.
Design contests for the next few months leading up to Release Day.
Solicit blog tour hosts and determine topics.
Look for niche marketing opportunities.
2 MONTHS AHEAD:
Send press release with signing dates to local newspapers.
Load video trailer and add links to all your sites.
Update mailing lists. Send email newsletter to booksellers and librarians.
Write all the blogs for your virtual tour and match topics with hosts. Post your schedule online.
Determine upcoming contest prizes and giveaways.
Decide what to do for a book launch party.
Send promo materials to conferences for goody bags or promo tables.
1 MONTH AHEAD:
As soon as the book appears for pre-order online, add the buy link to all your sites.
Add the book to Goodreads and post giveaway.
Create a “Meet the Author” poster for book events.
Set Google alert for title.
Verify dates with booksellers/conference organizers for events and check that books will be in on time.
Send email newsletter to readers, including signing dates.
Send copies of book reviews, feature articles, and promo schedule to editor/publicist. Remember to promote yourself to your publisher.
Have a party, run contests and giveaways, offer a Q&A session, and celebrate!
Time, budget, and energy are considerations when planning your promotional campaign. Choose what’s reasonable for you to accomplish, and remember that family takes priority, writing comes next, and all else is a bonus. The above suggestions aren’t written in stone. Some items you may be able to do sooner and some may come later. You’ll eventually work out your own rhythm. Do as much or as little as is comfortable at your level, and good luck!
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.
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.
As authors, we’re advised to promote our brand to readers. What does this mean? Think about your favorite writers. You know what kind of story you’re going to get when you pick up one of their books. It could be heartwarming characters, small town settings, or fast-paced thrills and chills. Or maybe it’s a recurring theme that strikes a chord within you. But if we’re the writer, how do we define our own brand?
Sometimes we have to wait until we’ve written a few books to see what reviewers say. We can glean an idea of how our stories affect readers by their responses. Or we might recognize the core story in each of our books, those defining elements that call to us. Or we can ask other people what they see in our work.
You’ll want to showcase your brand in several places:
This would be a tagline that goes under your name every time you send out an email or make a post on a listserve.
You’ll want to deploy metatags that mention your branding elements. So tag yourself in the header and in perhaps a sub-header as well, and then in the body of your text.
Here’s an opportunity for a pictorial representation of what you write. You can even put your logo, along with your website URL, on T-shirts and such as contest prizes for your fans.
In my opinion, deciding on a tagline—like a blurb for a book—is harder than writing the story. It’s especially difficult when you write in more than one genre.
So here we come to the point of this post. I need your help.
I’m having an identity crisis. When I post to a romance loop, my signature line says Warrior Prince: A Drift Lords Novel. When I post to a mystery loop, I say Shear Murder: A Bad Hair Day Mystery. But I need something that encompasses both the genres I write. For example, my website says Author of Mystery and Romance. (Should I have a sub-header? And if so, what should it say?)
In other words, I need a new tagline.
Here’s my current signature, when I’m not using an actual book title:
Nancy J. Cohen Romance and Mystery Where passion & danger collide
I could change it to:
Author of Paranormal Romance and Humorous Mysteries This one is good, but what if I write a new mystery that isn’t funny? My agent cautioned me against being too specific. Too narrow of a brand can box you in.
Here are some other suggestions. Quotes come from reviews. Please let me know which ones you like the best!!! I need a zippy tagline that reflects both the genres I write. Or make up your own combination and let’s hear it!
Sassy Sleuths, Sizzling Passion, and Suspense
Tales of Mystery, Romance, & Otherworldly Adventure
Tales of Murder, Love, & Laughter
Fun, fast-paced Florida mysteries and paranormal romance
Fast-paced humorous mysteries and paranormal romance
Hot heroes and sassy heroines mixed with intrigue and murder
Author of Paranormal Romance and Fun, Fast-Paced Mysteries
“Murder, Mayhem, Humor and Romance”
“Humor, Romance and Mystery”
“Humor, Action and Passion”
“Fun, entertaining, out of this world reads”
“Amazing heroines, sexy heroes, lovable sub-characters”
“Great characters, strong storylines…”
“Strong, sexy heroes, ….”
SciFi/Fantasy Romance and Fabulous Florida Mysteries
As for a logo, do you have any suggestions for an image that would combine the types of books I write? Murder mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy romance with paranormal elements (note that my new series takes place on Earth).
What would catch your attention? And feel free to share your tagline here.
A recent news article said that more than one million people in Florida need a job, but many positions are not being filled because applicants don’t have the proper skills. Employers want enthusiastic people who have a broad knowledge base along with cutting edge skills. Technology keeps changing. Applicants need to keep up with the times to be competitive.
How does this apply to the writer? Most communications today take place via email between editors, agents, and authors. We’re expected to format our manuscripts according to publisher guidelines and know how to follow track changes in Microsoft Word. We’re asked by publishers if we have a webpage, blog, Facebook fan page, and Twitter. It’s great that we can save money by not having to copy and mail manuscripts anymore, but do we save time? Not when we have to keep up with the rapidly changing technology.
A writer can’t get by without these skills nowadays. Never mind that all an author wants to do is write the next book. Too much involvement in these business activities can lead to burnout. One doesn’t get tired of writing the story. One gets tired of the racing train that keeps going in circles, round and round the promotional track. The pressure to stay on top can build to a momentum that forces our creativity to derail. This wasn’t the train we wanted when we got on board, but we’re stuck with it now.
I’m about to get my first eReader device. After much consideration, I’ve decided to get a Kindle. Now I read that the next generation may have E-Ink Color, as opposed to LCD color. As for touch screens, there’s two different types and one is supposed to be better than the other. Dedicated eReader, Tablet, or Smart Phone? Eventually all of these devices may be rolled into one of ideal size and technology to perform multiple functions with clarity and readability under all lighting conditions. But until then, we have to choose which device will serve the purposes we need. We have too many choices, when we should be focusing on word choice instead.
THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING at Brainstorming on the Beach, Novelists, Inc. conference
Thursday, October 7, 2010
This day was entirely devoted to The Future of Publishing and was open to all writers. Impressive speakers spoke to us about what’s new and what’s coming in the publishing industry. The first panel’s topic was Promotional Teamwork. Here are my notes, keeping in mind this is what I heard and my interpretation.
PANEL ON PROMOTIONAL TEAMWORK
Eileen Fallon, Literary Agent
Brian O’Leary, Magellan Media Partners
Joan Schulhafer, Publishing and Media Consulting
Shannon Aviles, More Than Publicity
Kay Hooper, NYT Bestselling Author
Carolyn Pittis, Senior VP, Global Author Services, HarperCollins
Linda Parks, Co-Owner, Fireside Books
Loriana Sacilotto, Executive VP, Editorial & Global Strategy, Harlequin Enterprises
Joan: “The train has left the station,” meaning we’re all published authors and we have the choice of many destinations. We cannot let uncertainty about the future paralyze us in terms of what to do for promo. Determine who is your target audience and what you will send them in terms of printed materials. Communicate your plans to your publisher but be careful not to create more work for them. “Every time you have a request or idea, it creates work.” So be realistic in your expectations.
Loriana: Harlequin believes in building authors into their own brand. They hold weekly sessions regarding digital media and social networking. “Write consistently what you write best” to build your brand. Print and ebook sales should be looked at together. Publishers should ask, how is this book selling in each format? Bestseller lists still influence readers, distribution and discounts. Is there an alternate way to measure success other than the bestseller lists? How about total sales and the value of the backlist?
Carolyn: Review copies still sell books today but we need more book recommendation tools. Word of mouth hasn’t met technology yet. Think about who your promo activities are geared toward. Also consider the cost of your various promo efforts, i.e. “For this dollar, I get less or more.” Everything online is measurable. Co-op used to be the major marketing expense for publishers, but things are shifting. Independent booksellers still have tremendous influence. A big shift is coming in retailing. Google will allow indies to sell eBooks competitively with Amazon, etc. As consumers use more eReader devices, indies can leverage their connections with readers.
The market is booming overseas for English language genre fiction, i.e. vampire romance, thrillers. There’s a huge demand in India and Muslim countries in particular. Growing and developing technology in eBook formats, metadata, etc. will increase among pubs. “You can connect with your readers around the world. That’s where the growth is.” This growth surge will help combat book piracy.
Shannon: “Eastern Europe is in an upswing as are China, Scandinavia, Central/South America” re demand for English language books. Driving it is the eBook biz, apps, handheld tech, integrated marketing, widgets, and enriched content. Publishers have to recognize measurable numbers for eBook sales.
Linda: Send your book to the indie bookseller, not just a bookmark. Make a connection with your local independent bookstore. This will benefit both of you.
Brian: Ads in PW and newspapers don’t sell books. You want your brand to extend beyond what your publisher does for you. Social media provide an on-going effort to build your reputation. “Be visible and be searchable from the moment your book is published.”
Kay: Consider the cost of social networking to your creativity. “You have to find your comfort level because the future is now.”
Ninc has just begun a new newsletter, NINC BLAST, which includes information about our authors’ new and upcoming releases, as well as a “Did you know?” feature with tantalizing, little-known factoids about some of your favorite authors. To subscribe to NINC BLAST, please go to our Website: <http://ninc.com/> Then scroll down to the middle of the screen, where it says, “Let NINC BLAST you. ” Simply click on the pale blue envelope, then follow the protocols.
Since I recently finished my own blog tour, I learned a few things along the road. Here are some tips I’d like to share:
Aim for popular blogs that get a lot of hits and slant your blog to their audience.
Schedule up to three guest spots a week so you don’t clog the loops with your announcements.
Plan to be available to answer comments all day when your post goes live.
Publicize the blog tour on your social networks, website, and other sites.
Include a short excerpt from your book with your post when possible.
Add a buy link to your book along with links to your website, blog, FB page, and Twitter at the end of your post.
Interviews as well as blogs draw attention.
Consider offering a giveaway for commenters.
Thank your host at the end of the day.
For next time, write down blog topics as you write your WIP. This way, you’ll have a ready list of topics available when you need them (i.e. notes on research, the writing process, what inspired you to write this story, world building, themes, etc.).
ALLISON CHASE is the author of the Novels of Blackheath Moor, paranormal historical tales set in the wilds of nineteenth century Cornwall. At the April 2009 Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention, she received a Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Historical Romantic Gothic of 2008, for DARK TEMPTATION. Her latest release, MOST EAGERLY YOURS, debuts her new Victorian series, Her Majesty’s Secret Servants, featuring four sisters who risk their lives, hearts, and occasionally their virtue in the service of their new young queen. While Allison has somehow found herself living in ultra modern South Florida, she and her family love to travel, especially to Great Britain and Ireland, and she’s never happier than when exploring castle ruins, ancient abbeys, and the rambling environs of old country manors. But no matter where her travels take her, you can always find her at www.allisonchase.com or www.allisonchase.wordpress.com.
10 Tips for Successful Blog Touring
Here we are at the end of March, and my “blog tour” to promote the new release has wound down for now. Blog touring has become a major way to promote a book, so much so that a few months back my editor sent me an article about it and urged me to do it during the month my book came out.
So what are the benefits?
1. It’s FREE! A blog tour costs you nothing…but time, that is. Depending on how many “stops” you schedule, it can be very time-consuming, so if you also happen to be on a deadline or have other pressing time constraints, you’ll want to have your blog posts written up well ahead of time. This doesn’t get you entirely off the hook, though, because for a successful blog tour you need to be available to comment on your comments. More on that in a minute.
2. Exposure. Blog touring spreads your name across the internet. One thing I learned is that a lot of blogs seem to be part of networks, so blogging at one will get you at least a mention on others. Bloggers also post their schedules on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Did I mention that all this publicity is free?
3. Readers have a chance to get to know you. You’re plugging your latest release, yes, but a good blog strategy is to reveal something personal about yourself so readers feel they are connecting with you as an individual.
4. Invitations. Once you’ve blogged in a few places, you’ll probably start receiving invitations to blog on other sites as well.
So what are some strategies for a successful blog tour?
1. Look for popular blogs that attract readers. How do you do that? I found several blogs through Facebook, and some through readers sites like Romance Junkies and Coffee Time Romance. I also found bloggers by doing a search of my book and seeing who had reviewed it so far. Contacting them or leaving a thank you in their comment section often opens a dialogue that will result in an invitation to blog.
2. Check the comments sections to see which blogs are lively and interactive, and if the majority of visitors seem genuinely interested in books and authors, and aren’t simply hoping to win something. You can tell this by the kinds of comments they leave.
3. Don’t over-schedule. Be realistic about how much time you can invest. I’ve heard of people who blog every day for an entire month. Yikes! If you can do that, great. I found 2-3 per week quite sufficient, thank you. Especially because of #4 below…
4. Vary your posts. I’ve seen authors repeating posts on different sites, but while I used some variations on similar themes, each post was unique, highlighting a different aspect of my book and the history that inspired the story. Don’t forget, readers tend to follow multiple blogs, and identical posts won’t hold their interest.
5. Don’t just talk about your book. As I mentioned, your posts should contain some personal insight that reveals something about yourself to your reader. Explore your setting, time period and themes by including some interesting real life tidbits. Think about your research. What unexpected discoveries surprised you most? Design your posts around those things.
6. Make your posts relevant to your readers’ own lives. That means discussing themes in your book that others can immediately relate to. Some of mine were the power of friendship, standing up for oneself in difficult situations, female empowerment, alpha men vs. beta men in real life relationships… At the end of your post, ask a question that invites your readers to share their personal experiences – you’d be surprised how lively the discussion can become!
7. Don’t blog and run! Be available to comment on comments throughout the day. This helps keep the discussion going and assures your readers that you’re interested in them – that they are very much worth your time.
8. Giveaways attract attention! You can offer a signed copy of your latest release, a backlist title, or other small prize like a gift card. Don’t go overboard for two reasons: 1) it will get too expensive and 2) this is a token offer to attract real readers to you and your work. Too large a prize may attract those who are only interested in “free stuff.” So keep it real! At the end of each blogging day, I add up the comments and plug the number into random.org. The number generated determines who wins the prize – in my case it’s been copies of Most Eagerly Yours.
9. Good manners! Don’t forget to thank your hosts and visitors!You posts should always include something like, “Thank you…(plug in names) for having me here today…” And your last comment should be a thank you to everyone who came by to read and/or comment. Remember, not everyone who reads your post will be inclined to comment. It’s often a privacy issue, but do know that you are reaching more people than might be apparent.
How soon should you begin publicizing your new release? As soon as you sign the contract. But what if you only have a short lead time? In four months, my new book will launch. Am I prepared to announce it to the world? Not totally. There’s a lot of work to do first.
In this digital age, most of my promotion will be online. But with the choices of what to do being so overwhelming, how can you choose which are the best? Don’t be like me: I take a look at what other authors are doing and hit the panic button. Where will I find the time to do all that? Then I remember the advice from workshops I’ve attended: focus on a few targets and spend your energy there.
Where should you start? Consider breaking down your campaign into manageable parts and tackle one at a time. Decide on a countdown. What’s the most important item to start working on now? Get a calendar and mark out your dates. Here are some items for your list:
BLOG TOUR: Besides keeping up with your own blog, look for popular bloggers with a focus on your genre, inquire about a guest blog opening the month of your release date, and fix a schedule for a visit. Your host may want you to offer a giveaway, so decide upon the book or item you’re donating. An ebook download or bookstore gift card are alternates to a signed print book and will save you postage. Once your tour schedule is arranged, publicize it on all your sites.
BONUS FEATURES: Add bonus features on your website related to your story so readers who like the world you’ve created can read more about the characters, immerse themselves in the world building details, consult a glossary, or get a taste of sequels to come.
BOOK TRAILER: Have you uploaded your trailer to all the possible sites?
CHAT ROOMS: Find the chat rooms for your genre, decide which ones to target, and garner an invite.
CONTESTS: Plan contests leading up to your release date and celebrating the book’s debut. What prize will you offer? Consider a bonus item for people who leave blog comments or for your newsletter subscribers. Publicize on sites beyond your own.
INTERVIEW: Interview yourself about the new book and offer it as a guest blog, post it on your website as a bonus feature, or consider recording it as a podcast.
SOCIAL NETWORKS: If you already have friends on Facebook, should you start a fan page? Are you taking advantage of all these sites have to offer? On Goodreads, for example, you can now offer giveaways. Spend a day at a time on each site to make the most of them. Some examples: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari, LinkedIn, Filedby, Authors Den, and more. Or pick one day a week and that’s your day to put aside writing and spend it on promotion.
READER FORUMS: Visit discussion groups in your genre and begin participating several months ahead of your release date. Avoid blatant self-promotion unless it’s a group just for that purpose. Look on the social networks for these discussion groups as a way to get started. Your publisher may also have a listserve for this purpose.
VIRTUAL BOOKSIGNINGS: Okay, I’m not quite sure what this is but I’ve read about it. I believe you sign up with a bookstore online, like an indie, and show up for a virtual event. This concept requires more research on my part.
It’s a lot easier to write this list than to do it. As with any overwhelming project, it will be more attainable if you break it down into manageable tasks. This means focusing on one item at a time.
My first goal is to design my contests for the next four months, decide on the prizes, and load up the info onto my sites. Then I’ll send out an email newsletter announcing the contest to my fans along with other news I want to share. But wait…this may bring people to my website. I already hope to gain more readers from eBook followers when Silver Serenade comes out from The Wild Rose Press. Have I updated the books list on my website with the ISBNs and such for my titles which are available in eBook format? Not yet. Better get cracking. Onward and upward!