Just Five Things: Best book marketing blogs

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number-5Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

1.  BookMarketingBuzzBlog / Brian Feinblum

2.  The Creative Penn / Joanna Penn

3.  Savvy Book Marketer / Dana Lynn Smith

4.  Author Marketing Experts / Penny Sansevieri

5.  SMART Marketing for Authors / Chris Syme

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

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Just Five Things: Characteristics of credible, effective publishing industry influencers

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five-706893_960_720Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

Influencers – Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship. (Definition per Business Dictionary)

1. They are actively engaged on social media (consistently post content and have a high level of interaction with their audience).

2. They are widely recognized within the publishing community as an expert or authority.

3. They have a genuine passion for books, publishing, reading and authors.

4. Their audience has an authentic interest in you and your product (books).

5. They support positive experiences and authentic relationships, meaning they are respectful, professional, reliable and honest.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Just Five Things: Cross-promotion strategies for authors

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5 1Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

1.   Look for cross-promotional partners who bring different resources, talents or strengths to the group.

2.  Consider cross-promoting with groups, organizations or individuals who offer services or products that compliment your books.

3.  Create a group campaign or project and coordinate promotion across each partners’ social media, mailing lists, etc.

4.  Promote your partners in your books’ back matter, on your blog, on your social media or in your newsletter.

5.  Invest time and energy in building positive, reliable cross-promotional partnerships. Identify author who write in a similar genre or have a similar readership; engage and support their marketing efforts, reciprocate when they support you; be professional but require accountability and participation.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Just Five Things: Marketing inspired by National Readathon Day

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Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip five-706893_960_720for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

Saturday, May 21, 2016, is the second annual National Readathon Day, sponsored by Penguin Random House and the American Library Association. This is an awesome marketing opportunity for authors. Read on for tips.

Readathon2016

1.   Host a reading party for your review crew or street team. Send “invitations,” create graphics for your blog or social media channels, develop content to foster engagement such as questions related to reading, inviting recommendations, etc.

2.  Donate 5, 10 or 50 copies of your book (digital is easiest and least expensive) to new readers so they can participate in your sponsored Readathon event.

3.  Share information about National Readathon Day in your newsletter or on your blog. FAQs are available on the Readathon Day website.

4.  Invite readers, fans, friends and fellow authors to donate to #Readathon2016. The American Library Association uses funds for its Every Child Ready to Read program. Match donations (up to a set amount) to encourage generous giving.

5. Get pictures of National Readathon Day activities to post on social media. Photo themes: great places to curl up with a book, people reading your book, favorite snacks when reading, pair wine and books, favorite opening line or pets and books.

Reminder: Tag your marketing messages with the official event hashtag: #Readathon2016

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Just Five Things: Avoid common promotional mistakes

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5Just Five Things, a list of simple actions that can enhance your publishing career. One tip for each day of the week related to every aspect of publishing from time management to marketing to writing.

  1. Be intentional about your marketing. Don’t invest resources in a promotional activity just because everyone else is doing it.

2. Be proactive instead of reactive. (Reactive = responding after something happens; Proactive = preparing a course of action before something occurs.)

3. Be willing to invest time, money and energy in promotion and marketing.

4. Educate yourself about marketing and promotion. Ignorance leads to poor decision making and reflects lack of ownership of your success.

5. Recognize that effective marketing is cumulative. Don’t expect instantaneous results.

See you next week for another list of Just Five Things.

If you have a tip to share or need help with a challenge, email me at myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

Book promotion through storytelling with photographs

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As writers, we use words to tell our stories, but we should not overlook the power of imagery, especially as a marketing tool.

This blog is inspired by Mridu Khullar Relph‘s August 4 blog on Buffer Social: The Science of Storytelling Through Facebook Images: 10 Actionable Strategies from Successful Brands.

Read Relph’s excellent blog to fully appreciate her insights and see her examples. I’ve pulled out her actionable strategies and listed some specific ideas how authors can apply the concepts for their own marketing campaigns.

1.  Share “behind the scenes” photos

To readers, authors are celebrities. They love details about the writer’s life, so pull out your iPhone or smart phone and capture the moments leading up to special events – getting ready for an awards ceremony, setting up for a book signing, signing and mailing out swag, a cover art photo shoot.

Historical romance author Callie Hutton worked with friends and family to shoot images for her book covers.

Historical romance author Callie Hutton worked with friends and family to shoot images for her book covers.

2.  Highlight your customers’ successes

What is success to a reader? Meeting their favorite author, winning a giveaway, receiving a signed copy of a book. If you broaden the concept beyond “customers,” think about others whose successes you can highlight: your critique partners, local writing chapter mates, librarians, booksellers and fellow authors.

3.  Ask your customers to share their photos

People love sharing their own photos and images, so invite readers to post a picture of themselves with one of your books. Create a list of interesting photo-posting prompts like Favorite Place to Curl Up with a Good Book, Your TBR Pile, Favorite Book Cover, Pets and Books, etc.

Imagery isn’t limited to just photographs. Invite readers to caption a photo, share a book-related cartoon, recommend their favorite bibliophile product or design a teaser for your book. Boost the marketing impact by turning one of these challenges into a contest!

Contemporary military romance author Heather Ashby's readers had fun with this photo.

Contemporary military romance author Heather Ashby‘s readers had fun with this photo.

4.  Have your photos reflect current trends

Play off current trends, events, seasons and/or activities for engaging photos. Look for connections between your books and/or your author brand and connect them to current events or trending topics.

Science fiction romance author C.B. Williams showcased a fan enjoying one of her stories as a summertime beach read.

Science fiction romance author C.B. Williams showcased a fan enjoying one of her stories as a summertime beach read.

5.  Showcase your successes

One of the keys to successful promotion is to find creative, innovative perspectives. While many authors post photos of awards ceremonies and book signings, what about the everyday successes? Toasting “The End” of your current manuscript with a glass of wine, waving goodbye to your old job in order to write full-time, your first royalty check.

Author Heather Ashby displays a feature story that ran in a local newspaper.

Author Heather Ashby displays a feature story that ran in a local newspaper.

6.  Showcase your work/product in creative ways

Storytelling with images requires a different approach to creativity than writing. Use your imagination and artist’s eye to frame everyday moments versus posing every picture.

Paranormal romance author Celia Kyle shows off swag, after it's been autographed.

Paranormal romance author Celia Kyle shows off swag, after it’s been autographed.

You can also have a lot of fun experimenting with graphic design. Sometimes working with a new and different creative application can inspire your wordsmithing, as well.

C.B. Williams creates vivid promotional images with comic book flair.

C.B. Williams creates vivid promotional images with comic book flair.

7.  Use hashtags

Add hashtags to photos, as well as your social media posts, to help readers find content.

Author Hope Ramsay tags her weekly photo share with hashtag #HangingOutWithHope to help readers identify with her marketing campaign.

Author Hope Ramsay tags her weekly photo share with hashtag #HangingOutWithHope to help readers identify with her marketing campaign.

8.  Add inspirational quotes to your images

Get creative with inspirational quotes. Don’t limit yourself to well-known sayings; use quotes from your characters, reviewers, endorsers or readers to create engaging graphics.

This quote is part of an endorsement author and entrepreneur Rochelle Carter received for her book, The 7-Step Guide to Authorpreneurship.

This quote is part of an endorsement author and entrepreneur Rochelle Carter received for her book, The 7-Step Guide to Authorpreneurship.

9.  Share your history and milestones

It’s fun to look at where you’ve been and where you are going. Use images to celebrate book anniversaries and promote upcoming projects. Celebrate personal and professional milestones: 10th book published, birthday, 5,000 followers on Twitter, 20 pounds lost. Each of these events is a way to connect with readers.

NYT bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire had fun celebrating her birthday with her street team.

NYT bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire had fun celebrating her birthday with her street team.

10.  Make it personal

Even if you write under a pseudonym or prefer to keep your non-writer life private, it’s still important to bring spontaneity and authenticity to your book promotion. Capture those details you are willing to share, such as pets or local landscapes. And while personalizing your content is important, connecting it back to your product and brand shows you to be a super savvy book promoter. One of my favorite examples of this is contemporary military romance author Heather Ashby, who frequently features her husband on her social media and other promotional outreach. “Captain Integrity” helped promote a contest based on a recipe in her book, UNFORGETTABLE.

90fed6bc-c1f6-473d-b34d-7458564531d6Julia Kent has put a comic spin on her visual storytelling by wearing a chicken mask when posing for fan photos, an inside joke amongst readers of her Random series.

NYT/USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent has fun with her photo ops.

NYT/USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent has fun with her photo ops.

Here’s a tip exclusively from My Author Concierge–you’ll need some kind of image editor to create storytelling graphics. My favorite is PicMonkey.com, a free online program. (Additional features are available for a paid membership, but I’ve found their basic features to be sufficient for my needs.) It’s also a smart idea to subscribe to one of the many stock image providers so you don’t have to worry about copyright issues if using photos other than your own.

Share your examples of book promotion through storytelling. Ideas welcome!

Special thanks to Mridu Khullar Relph for granting permission to quote her article in this blog post.

Book Marketing Reality Check: 6 Facts Authors Need to Face

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Today’s authors have become, in essence, mini-publishers. They hold greater accountability—in varying degrees, depending on what publishing model they choose (traditional, digital, self)—for functions such as editorial, graphic design, production, distribution and marketing. For most writers, anything outside the craft of writing is a new concept. There is much to be learned, practiced and mastered before claiming some degree of proficiency.

More and more resources are becoming available to authors as they seek assistance in performing these various functions. And while most authors have at least a working knowledge of publishing that enables them to discern reputable editors, distributors and cover designers, marketing tends to be a bit more…complicated.

Just read Heidi Cohen’s “72 Marketing Definitions” blog and you begin to understand why there is so much confusion about marketing. The definition that most resonates with me comes from Marjorie Clayman, director of client development at Clayman Advertising, Inc.: “Marketing is building your brand, convincing people that your brand (meaning your product/service/company) is the best and protecting the relationships you build with your customers.”

The key takeaways from this statement for authors are “building your brand” and “the relationships you build with your customers.” This defines the WHO of marketing (author and reader). The WHAT is your product (stories and books). WHEN and WHERE are also easily defined. It is HOW and WHY that give authors the most trouble. HOW, because there are so many ways to market and promote a book, and WHY, because in many situations what worked for one author turns into a dismal failure for another.

I believe authors can do themselves a huge favor by acknowledging these six facts about book marketing.

Fact 1: There is no magic formula for successful book promotion.

I have actually been asked this question by authors. Sadly, there is no magic formula or top-secret strategy that everyone except you knows. No single marketing strategy is going to turn your book into a million-dollar bestseller. What worked for another author may (or may not) pay off for you. Anyone who promises you incredible results by doing A, B or C should be carefully questioned because they’re probably just after your money.

Fact 2: Successful book promotion is a long-term process.

Unfortunately, many authors start thinking about marketing and promotion a week or so before their book is scheduled for release. By then it’s too late. There are three phases to book marketing: pre-release, release and post-release. Each phase is equally important, but each requires a unique focus and specific actions. More importantly, book promotion is cumulative. Marketing requires consistent action and maintenance to preserve the foundation you’ve built thus far.

Fact 3: There is no such thing as a book marketing “expert.”

Okay, I know I’m going to take some heat for making this assertion, but let me explain. Book marketing is not an exact science like accounting or biology. Not only are there differing opinions among so-called “experts,” but today’s marketing environment (and related practices, applications and methodology) is in almost constant flux, thanks to technology. Things change so fast that marketers are always one step away from being outdated or behind the curve.

That being said, I do believe there are knowledgeable, experienced, innovative, educated, credible individuals whose thoughts and advice on book marketing are worth consideration. And, like any industry, publishing and book marketing have their own “best practices” and common standards. My suggestion is to educate yourself and be wary of anyone who uses words like should, must, never and always, especially when that advice comes with a price tag.

Many authors apply a marketing strategy because an “expert” recommended it. Remember, strategies work differently for all authors. If you are going to invest in a marketing initiative, make sure you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. The important thing is to keep an open mind and attitude. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches. Most of all, don’t be afraid to do what works for you just because no one else is doing it.

Fact 4: Outsourcing 100 percent of your book marketing is a big mistake.

Many authors cite book marketing as their least favorite task, so, for those who can afford it, there is the temptation to hire someone and let them deal with it. As Vivian in Pretty Woman says to the shop assistant who refused to wait on her, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

First, YOU are the best-qualified person to market your books. No one knows or loves them better than you do. Put that passion into your marketing, and soon you’ll discover you aren’t trying to strong-arm sales but sharing your story, your brand, your author-uniqueness with readers. Second, marketing and promotion aren’t that complicated. Attend a few workshops, begin following some blogs, talk to other writers, look at what other writers are doing, and within a few months, you’ll be surprised at how much you know about book marketing. Third, marketing is about relationships. Readers and fans want to connect with you—not your publicist, not your personal assistant, not your street team. To some degree, you must be involved in your own book promotion.

A smarter solution is to hire a marketing coach or personal assistant who can help with marketing. If one of your marketing goals is media coverage, you might consider working with someone experienced in corporate publicity or journalism since media professionals have pretty tight style guidelines and they are quick to dismiss amateurish efforts. By staying involved in your marketing initiatives, you insure quality and consistency in the branding message going out over your name.

Fact 5: Successful book marketing isn’t measured in sales figures.

While the ultimate goal of every author is to sell books, there are certain marketing outcomes that contribute to ongoing success. For example, it is more efficient to sell multiple books to one customer than recruit multiple customers for one book. That’s why it is important to develop and maintain “relationships” with your readers. You want to keep them engaged so when the next book comes out, they’re already lined up to buy it. Another measure of effective marketing is word-of-mouth publicity. Are your readers so excited about you and your books that they encourage their friends and family to read you? Lastly, focus on building and nurturing relationships with fellow authors in order to implement cross-promotion and combine marketing resources.

Fact 6: Successful book marketing requires quality product.

I don’t care how glossy your marketing campaign is—if you have poorly written and designed books, readers may buy one but they won’t be back for more. Your book represents your skill and credibility as a professional writer. Asking readers to buy a book comes with the implied promise that your product is worth their hard-earned money. In addition to high-quality product, you must have product inventory. Remember that earlier tip about it being smarter to sell multiple books to one reader…yeah. So while it’s thrilling that you published “a” book, get back to your desk and write more books.