We’re back talking MARKETING with Janice Hardy, author of the MG Healing Wars trilogy and dispenser of writing wisdom through her blog, The Other Side of the Story. Yesterday Janice gave examples of her Marketing Copy and showed how to take advantage of marketing opportunities, the importance of having a website & business cards and the necessity of creating blurbs to assist in marketing and sell books.
Over the course of selling three novels, Janice has tackled many aspects of marketing and has more to share, so I’ll turn it over to her now. You can find PART 1 of this marketing post HERE.
I get asked for swag all the time from bloggers doing giveaways for their readers. Having things on hand helps. Let’s go through the more common ones:
Bookmarks: Very handy for swag, though I didn’t find them that beneficial for bookstores or conferences. Everyone is handing them out there and they usually wind up stuffed in a bag or pocket.
Postcards: Swag friendly and handy to have to put on the “freebie” tables at conferences. I’ve also found them great for school visits because the kids love to get autographs.
Pencils: I found color shifting pencils that fit the theme of my book. Great fun.
Buttons: I’ve yet to do these, but I’ve seen other authors do it. My husband still has one from a book festival pinned to his backpack.
Magnets: Just like buttons, a handy giveaway for both bloggers and events.
Books: Yes, books can be swag. I get asked for books for giveaways. Sometimes they’re in combination to a guest post or interview, other times it’s a charity or special event. But it gets your book out there and all you have to do is send it.
Blogs, Blog Tours and Guest Posts
Blogging is a lot of work and takes dedication, so unless this is something you enjoy doing, I’d skip it. What? Sound crazy? Don’t authors have to blog? Nope, not at all. There are so many blogs out there that it’s impossible to keep up with them all. And the more I talk to readers, the more I hear how they don’t read author blogs very often. Writers are the most frequent readers of other writers’ blogs. If you enjoy it, do it, but don’t feel you have to. What matters more is having a way to connect to your readers. (More on that in a minute.)
Blog Tours are also a ton of work, but they can be very beneficial. A lot of it depends on your target market and where you do your tour. If you’re touring on sites that reach your readers you can tell a lot of folks about your book. If not, you won’t. I did a large tour for my second book (Blue Fire), but I toured on fellow writer and book blogs. Since my readership is middle grade, I didn’t see a spike in book sales. So while the tour was beneficial in other ways, it didn’t appear to work to sell more books. But others have had great success with it because their readers were the ones who found those tour posts.
Guest posts (like this) are great ways to expand your readership if you blog, but they may or may not improve book sales. Again, it depends on who you’re reaching with those guest posts. And what your goal of the guest post is. I promote my writing blog as much as I promote my novels, so guest posts are very effective for the blog marketing side of it.
Making a Connection to Readers
The most important thing is to find a way to connect to your readers. They want to be able to interact with you in some way. Be that a blog, a website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or whatever, pick something you can keep up with and enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it and it’ll be a waste anyway. Social media works when you get engaged. If you’re not engaged, it’s just more spam.
Book signings are probably one of the first things you think of when you think “author appearances,” but they aren’t what they once were. Before the web and social media, an event was the only way you could interact with your favorite authors. Now, not so much. The downside to book signings is that people usually only go to them if they’re already a fan (or they happen to be in the store while you’re there). You get a chance to make a connection (which is great), but how many new fans will you attract? Odds are not many. Doing them can be fun, but don’t feel you have to do them to be successful.
I feel reader related events are a much better way to reach readers, and this is where I’ve been focusing my efforts lately. Book festivals, conferences & school visits if you write for those age groups. Whenever I’ve been in a situation to tell people about my books, with my books for sale right there, I sell books.
This is also why it’s good to have that marketing copy handy. I keep a spreadsheet of events for the year that might be beneficial for me to attend, and when they’re open for author submissions, I can quickly and easily put together a proposal and send it in.
If you want to do events (not everyone does and that’s okay), you might consider putting together a variety of proposal packages. I have five different workshops ready to go so I can jump when opportunities arise. For example, this past week the call for proposals for the 2012 RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference went out. I was ready and zipped off a few session ideas to them. Even better, writing the proposals helped me develop that skill, so I’m able to more quickly write a specific proposal when needed. As I said, opportunities are everywhere, and sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to take advantage of them. You hear about a great event nearby and find out it’s the last day for submissions, you don’t have a lot of time to write a proposal.
Make an Offer
Marketing is about getting out there. Spamming folks about your book doesn’t work, because we get spammed by so much already. But if you have something to offer, you stand a much better chance of making that all-important connection. Entertain, teach, inform, support, whatever works for you. Network and build a community, both of fans, readers, and fellow writers. Give more than you take, and you’ll see much better results.
The sad truth is no one knows for sure what works and what doesn’t. Worse, it’s different with every writer. Do what you enjoy and what allows you to connect with your audience, and you’ll be doing the right thing.
Okay Janice, my brain is spinning! Again, thank you for sharing your Marketing observations–you’ve given us a lot to chew on, and challenged some of the ‘set beliefs’ we may have had about Marketing. I love that. 🙂
I think the issue of spamming is something that hurts us all, which is why offering information on Marketing is SO IMPORTANT. Many people spam because they don’t know what else to do…and they think that in a busy Social Networking environment, they need to make lots of noise to be heard. Unfortunately this only turns people off. Post like this can help us from making mistakes as we launch our own marketing efforts, so again THANK YOU!
MUSERS! Have you thought about marketing yet? If you’re an AUTHOR, what’s been the most successful way for you to reach your reading audience? Please share in the comments so we cal all learn together!
If you love Magic, Fantasy, Teamwork and a Hero torn between right and wrong who is up against impossible odds, you’ll love Janice’s MG Healing Wars Trilogy. Do check it out!
Missed PART 1 In this Marketing Series? Click HERE!
Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE, and her newest release, DARKFALL. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. You can visit her website, chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.