Because I think we all need a little more whimsy in our lives, I’m giving away some goodies over on my Facebook Author Page. Click here to enter: Comfort Kit Giveaway
*Giveaway open to residents of USA/UK/Canada/Australia only
Because I think we all need a little more whimsy in our lives, I’m giving away some goodies over on my Facebook Author Page. Click here to enter: Comfort Kit Giveaway
*Giveaway open to residents of USA/UK/Canada/Australia only
Authors, like every other person or company plugging their products, are constantly refining their marketing message and dry-running new social media strategies, trying to figure out how to engage our potential readers – whoever they are. It’s all a very frustrating exercise in futility, most of the time, because who knows? No one, really.
There are paid services and books and blogs with tips-o-plenty, but the truth is no one knows what makes a video or photo or post or tweet go viral, just like no one knows which books will hit the best-seller lists or get made into blockbuster films. The only thing we know for sure is that there IS a cultural stream of consciousness out there that everyone is tuned into on some level, and if you’re lucky enough to accidentally tap that vein, anything is possible.
Accidental advertising is just what the term implies – unintentional. You can’t plan for it or pay for it or pick the place or time to show up. It happens organically, but oddly enough, not necessarily randomly.
One of the universal truths in marketing is that people respond to messaging with their emotional right brains more than their practical left brains – even when making a perfunctory purchase. They respond to things based on how those things make them feel more than anything.
Take as study the most amazing example of accidental marketing I’ve seen in years – the case of Dillon Josephsen, who inadvertently blew up the internet last week by tweeting something kinda silly-sweet he noticed about his dad’s business Facebook page. Dillon discovered that his dad, a flooring guy in New Jersey, had been taking pics of dogs he met on the job (in his clients’ homes) and posting them on the page as his “employee of the week”. Super cute, right? Dillon innocently tweeted a collage of the photos to his friends, and inadvertently staged a mega marketing coup.
EVERYONE LOVES DOGS! Who knew right? I know *I* do. When I saw that tweet retweeted in my feed by someone I follow, I clicked on it SO FAST. And then I clicked through to Dillon’s dad’s Facebook page because I just had to see it for myself.
And now, like over 14,000 (!) other people across the globe, I am a fan of Stairfaces & Josephsen Hardwood Floors for no good reason, except DOGS, and of course one day I might move to New Jersey and need some reclaimed barn door planks refinished and installed as flooring in my home office. It could happen, right?
But, even if it doesn’t, my heart has been warmed by some guy I’ll never meet and the pets he posts on his business page. I’m ALSO now following his college-age son on Twitter, because this kid? He’s trying to make something of himself, maybe in the media/entertainment industry, and I’ve got a daughter his age who is trying to make her mark as a vocalist. ABN (always be networking), people!
See how this works? Sometimes it’s just about being yourself and sharing information that matters or moves YOU. If it makes YOU happy or sad or mad, odds are pretty good it will affect others the same way. Being a member of the audience you are trying to reach and engaging in honest dialogue without contrivance or artifice or hidden agenda is the easiest form of social media marketing and networking there is. And it works surprisingly well!
To learn more about Dillon and his dad, here’s a great article (one of many) that popped up after that tweet went viral:
Advertising, Audience Capture, Book Marketing, Book Promotion, Increased Visibility, Marketing Monday, Marketing Tips, Referral Business, Roberta Trahan, Social Media, Social Networking, writing life, Writing tips
A measurable result is one of the touchstones of any successful marketing campaign. But how do you define it? Most folks look at number trends before, during and after a promotion and look for an uptick in sales. Metrics are an obvious measurement of whether or not our marketing efforts (and investment) have paid off. But, they are not the only yardstick of success.
Increasing your sales, and ultimately your bottom line, is the prime objective. However, specific marketing efforts rarely correspond directly to an increase in units sold. A lack of a sales spike, however, does not necessarily mean your ad plan has failed. There is more than one way to measure success. For example:
Increased Visibility in the marketplace – every campaign or promo you run will at the very least garner you attention. Most of the people who see a sponsored post, tweet or Instagram ad respond impulsively to the concept if it interests or appeals to them. They will “like” your promo, but don’t click through to purchase. They aren’t actually shopping. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impact. The hope here is that when they are looking to buy, they’ll remember you. There are sales conversion formulas that calculate how many impressions (number of times someone sees your ad) it takes to convert a sale. It varies, but every person who notices you gets you one click closer to that purchase. In the long run, how many “likes” you get matters.
Audience Capture is just a sexy term for saying followers or fans, and is another important measurable result. These are folks who aren’t yet ready to buy, but have more than just a passing interest in what you have to offer. They take the extra step of connecting with you – becoming a fan of your FB page, following your blog or Twitter or Instagram account – in order to keep you and your offerings in their que for later reference.
Referrals (or “shares”) are also a powerful measure of a successful ad or promotion. It’s harder to track these results directly because there’s no way to follow the sale back to the source, but every time someone retweets your Tweet or shares you FB ad or blog post, you are reaching a new potential market you had no way of reaching otherwise. It’s essentially free advertising, and should be counted as a win.
The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to evaluating your marketing plan is to expect a dollar for dollar return on your investment. Factor the long term payoffs from increased visibility, audience capture, and referrals into the equation. In other words, don’t sell yourself short. Building a customer base or audience takes consistent effort over time. And remember, sales metrics are not the only measurable result that matters.
One of the things I struggle with most as a writer is consistency. Creative people have ideas, lots of them, all the time. If you are of the goal oriented ilk, mustering the discipline to stay on task and see each one through to a timely conclusion comes easy to you. If you’re like me, and you’re of the passionate-about-process persuasion, not so much. I tend to follow inspiration from idea to idea, herding my many projects like sheep along a meandering road at their own pace. Some of them get lost along the way. Others die from neglect, and sadly, precious few reach the end of the process path.
After many MANY failed attempts at regimenting my work day with accountability tools and word count goals and self-imposed deadlines, I have come to accept my creative wanderlust as less an affliction to be cured and more an attribute to be better utilized. We all need structure and context, just like our stories, but we also need to let the muse lead now and then.
I don’t mind boundaries, but I don’t like fences. So, to keep myself from jumping the rails, I have decided to pencil some loose parameters around my writing week. Today, I’m going to kick things off by resurrecting Marketing Mondays – a blog column I abandoned quite some time ago for no good reason. To bookend that feature, I’ll be returning with the Week in Review post on Fridays.
Marketing Monday is all about shameless self-promotion. Each Monday, I am going to do my level best to accomplish a short-list of marketing tasks. To be effective, and manageable in the long run, these tasks should be specific, actionable and have measurable results.
Here’s the list for today:
What about you? Do you do Marketing Monday, or do you have a different strategy for promotion? I’d love to hear your ideas – goddess knows I need the help!
So far I’ve completed two of those three tasks for this Marketing Monday, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I should have that third bullet checked off by the end of the day. My “to do” list for the rest of the week is pretty long, and I’ll let you know how it goes on Friday, with my next Week in Review post. See you then!
One of the toughest parts of the process for a writer seeking publication is querying agents. Don’t we all wish there was a tried and true template for success? I’ve seen a lot of examples floating around out there, but today’s bit o’ wisdom from SFF agent Amy Boggs over on on Pub Hub is the best I’ve read. To feast on her expertise, click the banner:
47North, Amazon Publishing, author marketing, Author Rachel Abbott, Christine Kling, Marketing Monday, Marketing Plans, publishing, Rachel Abbott, Roberta Trahan, The Dream Stewards, The Well of Tears, Thomas & Mercer, Writing
Fortune favors the bold. An old idiom, ancient even, but nonetheless true. The past couple of weeks I found myself growing more and more annoyed with comments by wishful writers on the blogs of authors who have earned some measure of success about how lucky said authors are. As if publication and sales were random acts of kindness bestowed by the universe. Gah. Really?
What successful writers have that those who watch from the wings don’t is grit – sheer gumption, as my grandmother would have said. They have work ethic, a willingness to bear criticism and learn from it, to face rejection and come back for more, and most of all, the guts to take chances and ask for what they want.
Luck? Sure. There’s some of that – convergence of circumstances, random opportunity, being in the right place at the right time. But if you don’t have the grit to stay in the game, luck will never find you.
Though I wouldn’t yet list myself among the ranks of successful authors, I am published. How this happened for me is a perfect example of how grit matters. A year after my agent and I had abandoned hope of a publishing deal, the opportunity arrived as if it had been waiting to reveal itself all along. If you’re interested in the story of how I got here, read this post , or this one.
Hard work and stick-to-it-ed-ness has its pay-offs. This past weekend I had the opportunity to sneak into an event being hosted by my publisher for one of their other imprints (living in the same town as the headquarters has its perks). Amazon Publishing hosted a retreat / conference for the authors of Thomas & Mercer, the mystery/thriller group. Part of the event included a series of panel discussions for an open audience, which I was invited to attend. Wow. I came away with a big ol’ bag of swag, new author friends, and a ton of great advice. But most of all, I came away with a renewed sense of gratitude. For my publisher, and for the people who encouraged me to hang in there when things got tough. Persist Until You Prevail.
I started to write a lengthy post about the event, but mystery author Christine Kling said it better than I ever could. I invite you to read the article on her blog “Write on the Water”, aptly entitled Gratitude.
Another important kernel of wisdom I heard on that day came from author Rachel Abbott, who repeatedly attested to the value of a marketing plan. I’ve been saying this for-ev-ah, and was so pleased to hear Rachel talk about how it helped her build sales for her books. So that’s my tip this Marketing Monday – make a plan. For some suggestions on how to do that, read my post Three Marketing Strategies Every Career Writer Can (& Should) Use.
Marketing Monday ideas, that is ;). It occurred to me that while I try to share suggestions and good practices for all of you to use in your own marketing efforts, I haven’t ever given you an example of what an actual regimen looks like. You may be wondering – what are the nuts and bolts of an author’s marketing plan?
Marketing is so much more than the obvious time-sensitive advertising and promotional activities authors do to support a book launch – like contests, giveaways, blog tours, and interviews. Marketing is a never-ending process that requires your ongoing attention.
Choose Your Battles
First of all, I really do spend every Monday on marketing. One of the most critical commandments of author promotion is consistency, and the best way for me to maintain consistency is to set aside a day of the week that I can devote entirely to the endeavor. Early on I learned something really important about myself. Marketing tasks drain the left brain while fiction writing is a right brain thought stream, and I am NOT one of those gifted folks who can switch hemispheres at will. I get really grumpy when forced to multi-task across that great divide – and the work that gets done is all crap. So, for me, the best approach is to spend a whole day in one mind set. Hence, Marketing Monday.
Make Every (Marketing) Minute Count
Managing Marketing Monday is harder than it sounds. There is a to-do list which never gets finished because something ALWAYS comes up. For example, today I was pressed to finish drafting course materials for a class I am co-teaching later this month (ironically a class on author marketing). As a result, this blog post almost didn’t happen.
But, it is a fact that effective marketing begins with a purposeful plan – even if you never get it all done. It’s all about catering to the crisis of the moment, and being okay with that. Take care of the critical issues first, and then proceed with the plan.
For me, a typical Monday Marketing looks like this:
Check on the Neighbors – every Monday I visit blogs, sites, communities and publications that are making significant contributions to my genre or are particularly popular. Over the last couple of years the list has grown so long I can’t do it in a single day, but I do as much as I can on Monday and then take a little time each day during the rest of the week to catch up.
Feed the Feed – sometimes it doesn’t happen, but at least once a week I post on the blog, and update the status on my FB fan page. I make an effort to tweet something clever or interesting every day, and during weeks when I have something new or exciting to share, I add a second update to the blog.
Keep up with the Joneses – in addition to staying in touch with my readers, it’s also important to stay in touch with the book world. I spend time every week talking to other authors and reading industry news.
Shop for New Shoes – a big chunk of a successful marketing plan is outreach, which means actively looking for ways to expand visibility for my books. This includes researching conferences, events, and publications to which I can contribute, and then pitching a presentation, class, appearance or article. It’s important not to get to comfortable with what it tried and true, because you never know what new and exciting opportunities you might be missing.
Take Care of Business – for a working writer, this encompasses everything from tracking sales and royalty payments to developing proposals for new ideas. It also includes tasks like reviewing edits, approving cover concepts, and producing marketing material like book blurbs. This particular to-do list item is most often the cause of Marketing Monday crises because it is usually deadline driven and always, always urgent.
So, that’s my Marketing Monday – more or less. Now you show me yours! Do you have a promotional plan that you try to follow? What’s on your to-do list?
This week the blog love goes to another of my Spencerhill Sisters, the talented Kristin Miller! If you’re a fan of steamy, seductive stories starring creatures of the night, you’ll love her paranormal romances. Today, I’m featuring her latest release:
Gone with the Wolf
By Kristin Miller
Entangled Publishing – April 2013
CEO and alpha werewolf Drake Wilder has given up the search for his one true love. When he discovers that she’s a secretary in his company, Drake’s primal instincts kick into overdrive.
What he wouldn’t give to have her fingers rake over his body instead of the keyboard…
Free-spirited bartender Emelia Hudson wants nothing more than to make her Seattle-based bar succeed. But when profits decline, she slips into a dress suit and secures a nine-to-five. After learning that her bar has become property of Wilder Financial, Emelia is determined to get some answers.
Two can play the ruthless business game. If only her attraction to the boss wasn’t so intense…
When Drake’s twin brother senses that Drake has found his match—and now inherits their father’s billion dollar estate—he hatches a plan to take Emelia out. Drake vows to protect her at all costs, but he might have to pay with his own life.
Can’t wait to read it? Get it here:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kristin Miller has had a passion for language and literature her whole life. Born and raised in northern California, she often made up stories about faraway places and edge-of-your-seat adventures. After graduating from Humboldt State University, Kristin taught high school and middle school English, married her college sweetheart, and had two beautiful munchkins. In 2008, she took time off from teaching to raise her children, and started writing while they napped.
Her first novel was published in 2011, and since then she has had seven other novels published (mostly paranormal romances). She is the author of Gone with the Wolf with Entangled Publishing, the dark and gritty Vampires of Crimson Bay series with Avon, and the short-but-steamy Isle of Feralon novellas with Harlequin Nocturne Cravings.
To learn more about Kristin, visit her here:
47North, Author Branding, author marketing, Best-selling Author, Erotic Romance, Flappers, historical fiction, Marketing Monday, Novel Writing, Prohibiton, Roberta Trahan, Romance, Stephanie Draven, The Roaring Twenties
Chances are that when you think of the 1920’s you think of wild liquor-soaked parties in speakeasies, incendiary Jazz music, and flappers wearing feather headbands dancing the Charleston. Consumers embraced new gadgets and inventions, the stock market was soaring and a Renaissance broke out in Harlem. All of these things are a true reflection of the time, but they’re only part of the picture. Underneath the glitz and glam, a turbulent culture war took place in the country–one we’re still fighting, in many ways, today.
The Roaring Twenties were a time of sexual liberation, experimentation and exploration. Having just won the vote, women were at the forefront of social causes and societal change. In spite of—or perhaps because of—Prohibition, the Twenties were boom times. Young women attended college, flocked to major cities to find work and lived on their own in numbers never before seen in the history of the nation. Homosexuality was more public and more tolerated. Rules for dating changed. Non-marital sex became common and women began to demand and use birth control.
Flappers changed the world of business, fashion, politics and popular entertainment. The Hays Code wouldn’t be adopted and enforced until 1930, which meant major Hollywood films pushed the boundaries of propriety and gave the country some of its sexiest stars, including Clara Bow.
In short, the Twenties were a period of social transition—one of those pivotal times in history when women took one step forward, before being shoved two steps back. People from all walks of life came together to agitate for progressive change in the Twenties and, in many instances, African Americans led the way.
At the same time, the era was marked by the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, inspired by D. W. Griffith’s race-baiting incendiary film of 1915, The Birth of a Nation. Immigration was suppressed and racial tensions rose. Even the nascent birth control movement was caught up in it, with Margaret Sanger arguing on behalf of eugenics. The suspicion of foreigners helped lead to the execution of two Italian immigrants, Sacco and Vanzetti, under suspicious circumstances. And the general fervor led to a red scare against suspected communists.
Much of the liberation of women in the twenties came about as a rebellion and reaction against the mores of previous generations. Whereas the women of the 1910s fought for the right to vote, the women in the 1920s had it–and didn’t do terribly much with it. The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in 1923, but was never passed. And while women entered the workforce in great numbers, most of them left it upon marriage.
Another thing that harshed the buzz of the 1920s was the mob. Mob violence rose dramatically with Prohibition and organized crime used the ban on liquor sales to create criminal empires.
Of course, all this social turmoil makes the era not entirely unlike our own–and a perfect backdrop for fiction!
ON SALE NOW!
They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon. The Twenties were roaring and the women–young, open, rebellious, and willing–set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met…
In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.
Society girl, Nora Richardson’s passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants to punish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband’s increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.
Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.
Working class girl Sophie O’Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn’t fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.
One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…
About the Author: Stephanie Draven
is a national bestselling and award-winning author of historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her newest project, IT STINGS SO SWEET is a collection of 1920s historical erotic romances that celebrate sex, women, and the Jazz Age. Stephanie is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.