Friday, August 31, 2012

Good Marketing Begins at Any Time

One of the challenges we faced when we began our AM101 program is that we know authors are forever at different points in their career, and new authors are appearing all the time. Social media is also constantly changing and publishing venues are evolving. The choices an author makes to connect with their readership will also evolve and change during the life span of the author's career.

This is why we specifically created our static pages to present the bare-bones-basics of marketing for authors. From creating your PERSONA, to whatever process you PUSH-PULL-POP through your MARKETING PLAN, these are your foundations that will serve you well no matter where you go socially, or which venue/format you choose to publish your book, or whenever you do a big promotion push.


In the few months since we've been interactive and promoting this blog we've had some awesome contributions and inspired examples. We don't want them to get lost in the continuing feed and now have a NEW "Notable Posts" as a static page, found on the title bar above. Now these unique and stellar posts are always available through easy to find links right here too.

Check it out!

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Field Trip #9 : Signs - One Glance Should Say It All

It occurred to me (Morgan) this morning, that our last few posts have had a consistent theme of messaging with a heavy focus on the point-of-purchase (POP) arm of marketing.  When most people think of POP, they generally tend to focus on displays and signs...this line of thought made me think: What are the components of a well designed sign?  The reverse question also occurred to me: What constitutes a 'bad' sign design?  

A well designed POP sign should communicate its core message in one glance.

People new to marketing and sign design often try to cram in too much information.  Just think what the state of traffic would be, if the street signs contained too many details?  Drivers would be too distracted deciphering street signs to avoid car crashes!  When on the highway, how do you know where the fast food chains are for each exit?  Their logos, distance, and two words: "Next Exit" make it clear, in one glance, where you can get burgers versus tacos.

Examine the poster below.  Is it clear what type of story you would get if you bought Ms. Marvelle's book? <Steamy!>

In store sign at Jan's Paperbacks.  See last Wednesday's Field Report for details.
For this week's field trip, we would like for you to take extra note of the signs you encounter in your everyday life.
  • Which ones are easy to comprehend / digest in one glance?
  • For the signs that contain more detailed information, which ones actually make you stop to read them?  Which ones do you just pass by without reading?  Why?
  • How can you apply what you learned to your POP signs?

Put your POP signs to work.  Communicate in one glance.

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Storefront Positions

Therese says: I missed the event Morgan attended at Jan's Paperbacks last Saturday but on Wednesday morning I wandered through Barnes & Noble. It wasn't on purpose, my intention was the sporting goods store around the corner, but I had plenty of time before a noon meeting and writers like being surrounded by books. I know the store well enough to notice recent changes and thought maybe I'd see something interesting to share about product placement...
The main section for school supplies is on the top floor, east corner, the romance and mystery racks are in the west corner. These are considered high traffic destinations and positioned so buyers who walk through the store for a specific purchase pass by lots of end caps, tables, and strategic displays. The children's section can only be reached by navigating through the music and videos section, then an aisle of racks and tables featuring the latest buzzed books.

But instead of noticing the marketing, I found myself remembering the 1998 movie, "You've Got Mail." This romance story featured the anonymity of dating, via email, behind snappy screen names. The conflict stemmed from the local bookstores closing their doors because the mega bookstores were opening across the street. How quickly that's changing! The mega bookstores are scrambling for customers and the local shops are reopening and having more fun making direct connections between readers and authors.
Indie shops are becoming more popular and the owners have much more flexibility than the mega stores. Bookstore owners can choose favorite authors to promote, they can have a used books section and swap process, they also have the opportunity to hand sell their products directly to readers. Sales are still primarily a physical book purchase process but these Indie shops could be the fertile ground where epubbed authors will partner with booksellers in some cool and innovative way. ** Anything we hear about - we'll be sharing! Maybe something using distinct QR Codes? **
With the initial opening of the mega stores, shoppers suddenly discovered the joy of reading books! There were lots of customers! But these were not avid readers who had frequented the local bookshops and libraries. Many of mega store customers were infrequent readers enticed with the new fad. Avid readers stayed loyal to the local bookstores until the end. In many ways this story has been mirrored with the sudden frenzy of digital readers and free ebooks, a new fad. However, the avid readers, especially those devoted to specific genres, were the big chunk of change that shifted quickly from book stores to ebooks.

Storefront Positions, and many of the separate racks, endcaps, and table displays, are spaces rented by the publishers as promotion spots. It's a good strategy since anyone walking into a bookstore is probably going to buy a book. It's that first glance, and be seen, objective that is a primary part of making a sale.

And for an added insight: Our local Barnes & Noble stays open an hour later than the other stores at the mall. It is where singles like to spend their evenings and maybe meet other singles. This puts a new spin on "who" is in the storefront for that first glance and be seen position.

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Is Your PERSONA "Sticky"?

Take a moment to think about the following authors:
  • Stephen King
  • Anne Rice
  • Dr. Seuss
We're sure that distinct images, feelings, and even books came to mind.  Why?  The knee jerk response would be, "Because they are best selling authors."  This statement is true, but there are MANY authors who hit best seller lists and most of them fade from our memories rather quickly <sad, but true>. So, why are these authors so memorable?  They all have "sticky" PERSONAs.

Last Friday, we discussed the attributes of "sticky" messaging.  Now, let's take those same principles and apply them to your author PERSONA.

Recall that, according to Mr. Heath(s), there are six key qualities that make an idea (campaign) sticky:
  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories
Let's examine Stephen King's author PERSONA and see how the six qualities apply:

  1. Simplicity - He is the king of horror. 
  2. Unexpectedness - Though he is well known for his horror writing, Mr. King has broad back list in a variety of genres including science fiction, suspense, and even comic book adaptations.  He even writes a column titled "The Pop of King" about popular culture for Entertainment Weekly.  In an industry where authors are encouraged to be 'one trick ponies', Mr. King continues to produce a variety of creative works.  (Plus, he came out swinging after a terrible car crash.)
  3. Concreteness - Readers can relate to both Mr. King's personal struggles and the struggles of his characters.
  4. Credibility - Mr. King has won many awards for his writing, but at the end of the day his sales are strong.  And his sales are strong, because he writes great stories.
  5. Emotional - What high school girl hasn't wished that she could throttle somebody with the power of her mind, a la Carrie!  
  6. Stories - From his car crash to his pseudonym Richard Bachman, there are many stories that swirl around Stephen King.  Many fans also have stories about their encounters with him at book signings and in everyday life.
Just so we are clear, there are many well known authors within specific genres that don't have movies and branded products like Stephen King and J. K. Rowling.  However, they have sticky personas.  (J. R. Ward, Nora Roberts / J. D. Robb, Brenda Jackson, and Greg Rucka among others.)  Finding your niche and engaging your audience are the golden tickets to a successful writing career.  But it all starts with a well written book.

How can you make your PERSONA "sticky"?  
How can you engage your audience and create memorable experiences online, in person, through your characters, and your stories?

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Field Report: Book Signing POP at Jan's Paperbacks

We're sure that pre-published authors can relate to our vivid dreams of a book signing.  Crowds of people would create a line out the door to wait with anticipation for our freshly inked signature on the title page of our 'hot off the presses' opus.  <sigh>  On the flip side, many published authors have personally experienced the angst of sitting at a table filled with books begging for someone, anyone, to stop and buy one.

Don't fret, dear reader, your AM101 cheerleaders are here to give you book signing tips from a recent field trip of our own.

On Sunday, August 19th, Jan's Paperbacks hosted a book signing for:

Jan's Paperbacks is an independent bookseller located in Aloha, Oregon.  Debbie, the owner, was crowned  The Bookseller of the Year at the Romance Times Booklovers Convention in Chicago, this year.  Jan's Paperbacks has been an ardent supporter of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and it's local chapter, Rose City Romance Writers (RCRW).

Debbie, owner of Jan's Paperbacks, wearing her tiara from RT.  She was voted Bookseller of the Year at the Romance Times Conference in Chicago.

Morgan says:  I had a great conversation with Deb about her store and how authors can help indie bookstores market their books.  Deb is passionate about this very topic.  I asked her to write a Finer Points post for us and she agreed!  Deb commented that authors help her and their career when they work with indie booksellers by providing in-store signs, posters, collateral,  and other displays. Sponsoring events, like book signings, clubs, and other social gatherings are a few ways to interact with readers and have some FUN along the way, too.  These are just some examples of cross-marketing at work!  Both parties would be marketing the store AND your books.

Marc & Delilah Marvelle with Deb during the book signing.
Morgan says: Delilah Marvelle and Deb share a long friendship.  Delilah frequented Jan's Paperbacks BEFORE she was published.  Now as a published author, she has co-hosted several events at Jan's.
The authors book signing table.
Morgan says: What's not pictured here are the homemade confections presented on a lovely glass tray and fresh brewed coffee available for visitors.  For this signing, the table was kept simple: a clean, black table cloth with neatly displayed books and other pieces of marketing collateral.  Delilah's bookmarks were inserted in her books.  Plus, with each purchase of Forever a Lady, you recieved a FREE copy of Rules of Engagement (a recently published HQN anthology).  Note: this table was set up for two authors, who publish in different genres, which can make merchandising a touch more difficult - but not impossible.  I would personally recommend the addition of a little flair to help jazz things up a bit, but this is more critical in a larger setting and space was limited on the table.

Delilah and Marc Marvelle in period costumes promoting her latest book: Forever a Lady.
Morgan says:  Notice how Marvelles are wearing period costumes.  They stood out and really tried to make this book signing an EVENT for her readers.
Jean Sheldon, author of Monet's Palette, and Delilah Marvelle.
Morgan says: Engaging with both readers and fellow authors is the name of the game here.  Remember, writers are readers, too.

Book cover sign hanging from the ceiling of the bookstore.
Morgan says: The book cover poster, shown above, was mounted on foam-core for added rigidity and durability.  Other book cover posters were framed and hanging on the walls in the bookstore.  Many of the framed posters were signed by the authors....GREAT IDEA!  We gotta get some signs done for Jean to help promote her book Monet's Palette!

End cap featuring some of Delilah's first Harlequin Novel (HQN) three book series.

Morgan says: Note that the first book in the series is almost sold out!  Notice how one of each book is "faced out" way to help your published friends it to "face out" their books on the shelves.  I typically make sure they have more than one copy, so that when I 'help' the store with merchandising I am not covering up another authors books....I don't want any bad karma.  Having a featured end cap helped readers to easily find Ms. Marvelle's other books during the signing.

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Readers Cross Genres

Our primary message here at AM101 is about distilling down your books and persona into a specific presentation of you - so a reader is engaged in the experience at a First Glance.  J.K. Rowling did not design her persona for a Harry Potter readership that would span a global audience of all ages before book five hit the stands.

Our secondary message is that you have FUN with your marketing. Cross marketing is good, as revealed in the post Cross-Marketing: Help a sistah (or brotha) out! This promotional example is targeted to Romance Readers and to encourage readers to taste different genres within the romance market. But as seductive as romance novels may be, readers don't spend all their time in one neighborhood. To expand your audience potential, novelists need to cross market across a targeted spectrum of interests, locations, and lifestyles.

Authors are encouraged to write in a specific genre - but readers cross those lines in the blink of an eye.

Let's begin with a non-fiction example: Patricia K. Lichen has a set of nature field guides about the insects, plants, and animals found within different environments in Oregon. A cross marketing pamphlet, like the romance focused one referenced above, would include these field guides with books detailing various hiking paths, local delicacies, and even historical attractions. All of these books were represented at local author fair and the authors were encouraged to combine their marketing efforts. Even the history of trains in Oregon can cross market with field guides and hikers because the readers are explorers of their home state.

So let's consider the above example of books on different topics with a common theme of local activities, nature, and history in Oregon. Local authors and novels could be included with these nonfiction books when there is a connection. In other words, Paty Jager's novels and even Lisa Novak's YA books featuring stock car racing, could be two more flaps on the same brochure.
Therese Says: We took our grandson on many local trips this summer from Haystack Rock to the Dufur Threshing Bee. Everywhere we went, there were racks of brochures for local attractions but none for local authors. This is a new promotional venue to consider since the person perusing the racks could be a reader with a book app in their pocket. (Having a great YA book on my Kindle was a bonus when our 10-yr-old grandson was bored and tired!)

Networking has exploded between authors through social media but that is NOT what generates sales. As Kristina McMorris shared, it is the "I've seen your book everywhere" that is the objective of an effective marketing plan. You want to make a sale, and to make a sale the reader needs to find you.

Imagine a trifold brochure (double sided it can feature six different books) that promotes a book on the history of trains in the pacific northwest. Open the brochure and there's an ad for field guides for local flora and fauna. The next flap is a promo for a book about local hiking trails, the next is a historical novel based in that location and written by a local author, another flap promos another author and book set in a current local event or location. This is how authors can help each other, share the expenses, and multiply the promotions.

As you network through your Twitter feeds, at conferences, and attending local writer events and workshops, pay attention to the topics of other authors and read their books to see if you like them. This is important because you must remain genuine in your marketing. When YOU are promoting others books along with your own - you need to feel confident this professional connection will benefit all. This will be an important business deal so be careful how you choose to cross market with other authors.

The days of books only being found in a bookstore or library are over. Those are still the primary locations where readers will go when they are searching for a book. But the authors of today are no longer limited to being found upon those hallowed bookshelves. Readers have a variety of interests and while it is a stretch to cross market nature field guides with stock car racing - have fun with it, you never know when a reader will be interested in both.

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are Your Messages "Sticky"?

The term "stickiness", with regards to messaging, was first coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his brilliant book titled The Tipping Point.  In fact, Mr. Gladwell devotes an entire section to this very topic.  The concept of "stickiness" stuck so well, pun intended, that Chip and Dan Heath wrote an entire book on the topic titled Made to Stick.

So what's all the hoopla about?  Both books seek to explain why certain stories, urban legends, catch phrases, marketing campaigns, and other messaging are more memorable than others.  Gladwell and the brother's Heath take it one step further and explain the architecture of a viral marketing campaign and provide input on how to produce sticky ideas.

According to Mr. Heath(s), there are six key qualities that make an idea (campaign) sticky:
  1. Simplicity
  2. Unexpectedness
  3. Concreteness
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories
Nike's "Just Do It" campaign continues to be a HUGE success.  Many articles and books have been written about "Just Do It" and how it has morphed beyond a marketing slogan to become a way of life for members of the Nike community.  Let's take a moment to see how "Just Do It" fits the six qualities of stickiness:
  1. Simplicity - An idea can't get more simple than three words composed of eight letters and two spaces!
  2. Unexpectedness - Those three words are loaded with meaning....from doing the most mundane activity to 'get it over with' to aggressively going after your dreams, the whole spectrum of activity is surprisingly covered in three simple words.
  3. Concreteness - It's real easy to wrap your head around the concept of getting up and doing 'something.'
  4. Credibility - Nike as a company takes athleticism to a whole new level.  Who else would be more credible, when it comes to encouraging a more active lifestyle?
  5. Emotional - Each of us can personally relate to getting off the couch and hitting the gym, court, course, track, etc.
  6. Stories - Over the years, Nike has used a whole cadre of professional and non-professional athletes in their ads and marketing collateral to write stories that illustrate how each of these folks did, indeed, "Just Do It."
Morgan here:  Below are a few slogans used by some of my author friends that have stuck with me over the years:
Notice that I not only remember the slogan, I remember the author, too.  Part of the reason they still cling to me today is because they each fit the six criteria listed above.  In addition, I have an 'emotional' connection to each author - I interact with all of them via Twitter.  Starting to see how these concepts can apply to your writing career?

How can you make your messaging more sticky?

Next Friday: Is Your PERSONA "Sticky"?

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Field Trip #8 : Attention Grabbers

Paty Jager's guest post (03 August, 2012) on Blending Genres and Attracting Readers was a HUGE hit!  Many thanks to Paty for being so engaging with her comments!  And many thanks to you, dear reader, for your comments, too!

The first part of Paty's post, detailing how she set up her table for book signings, made us think about point-of-purchase (POP) displays.

In this week's field trip, we want you to observe and examine POP displays in a retail setting. 

Visit your favorite clothing store and:
  • start with the outside of the store and / or the store window displays - what caught your eye first? What items (signs, mannequins, props) are being used to draw you into the store?
  • Notice the 'flow' of the outside / window display - how did your eyes take in the information being presented?
  • once you are inside the store, note the "in store" displays (merchandising) - how are they positioned in the store?  What messages are being conveyed? (back to school, fall is coming, etc.)
  • note the colors, images, and textures used to draw you 'in' to entice you to buy products
When you are doing a book signing:
  • think about how you can integrate what you've observed into your displays
  • how will you use your PERSONA to convey the content of your books?
  • how can you integrate some of these techniques into your website (online store)?

Find ways to GRAB your reader's attention, ENGAGE them, and watch your sales bloom!

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Manners Matter

This is NOT A MYTH and is filed under our FIRST GLANCE topic.

Social media offers instant exposure to a lot of opinions hidden behind snappy screen names.

The primary importance of creating an author persona is establishing your control over your public presence. Using your internal editor, that you have assigned to your author persona, can help you remain professional when your emotions are triggered by an opinion you oppose.

Debates are great and broaden our understanding on the topic because they present opposing arguments. Debates are a verbal volley of ideas, but are monitored like a tennis match with points assigned according to specific rules. The audience/spectators are not allowed on the court.

The difference between a good debate and the viral discussions in social media platforms is -
  1. the opinions and ideas are presented with the emotion of the moment
  2. there are no rules for scoring points
  3. the spectators are running free on the court
  4. there is no editorial control on the comments generated by the topic
  5. the first volley was served to an absent opponent
Professional writers know that their best work is not always the first words on the page.
Therese says: I recently came across a blog/discussion, posted months ago, that referenced someone I know professionally. My impression of the actual post was, "ouch!" In my opinion, the author and those who commented had their internal editors and professional manners turned off. The person being bullied was absent though there was effort made for the victim to come forth and be bullied.
The original intent of the discussion (in my opinion) was genre bashing. This is an example of what I read and learned by researching the authors and those who took part in the discussion -- Imagine there was a snide blog post that unleashed rabid fans of James Bond movies (as played only by Roger Moore) to be engaged for a whole day with ridiculing Nora Roberts by directly attacking her publicist, who publicly admitted she likes Nora's books. 
The lesson of this story is - be very clear what it is you are responding to online and whether it is worth your time to engage in the discussion. Even though this was old news, and never went farther than the one-day-one-blog, it's all still out there and I was able to research the original author who started the thread and every bully who posted a comment. That is not a first glance impression you want to make because the real lesson of this story is - what is posted online remains available at a point-and-click.

And if, for some reason, you are the victim of this type of ridicule - do as the victim did that day. Remain absent. You can only control what words you present to the public. Your Author Persona knows your audience. Your audience wants every glance they have of you to be genuine.

Your Author Persona knows it's not worth your energy to engage in a debate about Nora Roberts books with old-skool James Bond fans. Your audience will not be impressed if you do because all your audience wants is more books written by you.

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creative, Cost-Effective Promotion

Morgan and Therese have a workbook in process.
This Finer Points Friday post is one of the contributed articles.

Creative, Cost-Effective Promotion     
Inspired by my grandparents' wartime courtship, I penned my first novel, LETTERS FROM HOME, blissfully ignorant of the marketplace. You see, the story features an infantryman during WWII who falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware the girl he's writing to isn't the one replying. Little did I know that WWII settings, not to mention books about letters, were considered a no-no at the time in both women's fiction and romance. Fortunately, it was too late to turn back. The manuscript was done, and I wasn't about to give up without a fight.
And so, when I was (more than once) told my precious labor-of-love story would "never" sell, I used that discouragement to fuel my persistence and creative, dollar-stretching strategy. First, I built a unique website, entered national literary contests to gain some accolades, and gathered endorsement quotes from unbelievably merciful best-selling authors (indeed, even before I sold the book), and when it did sell, I incorporated all of this into a full marketing plan that I presented to my in-house publicity and marketing team. I then created a media kit to accompany my ARCs, tri-fold color brochures with an excerpt (instead of bookmarks), and an interview-style video (vs. a standard trailer) that could help in pitching regional television shows.

Fiction is notoriously known as a hard sell in the media world. Knowing this, I included 1940s recipes in the back of my novel to aid my TV show efforts, as well as discussion questions for reading group appeal. I actively scheduled book club visits (in person and via Skype), spoke at conferences and festivals and schools, established a social networking presence (including WWII sites), cross-promoted with authors of similar books, ran contests with the help of related Facebook groups and penpal/letter-writing blogs, donated nostalgic memory boxes to fundraising events, secured at least fifty reviews on well-suited blogs, and coordinated a large book launch party with B&N, where I read from my grandfather's WWII letters.

Other tactics included a twenty-stop blog tour, on which I gave away free copies, same as on GoodReads. I ran inexpensive ads on GoodReads and Facebook, plus a few other popular reader sites that do direct e-blasts or e-newsletters. When I ran print ads, I made sure the circulation was high and the ad was visible (I submitted articles to offset the cost). And when it came to national media, although I knew it was a long shot, I sent press kits to fifty targeted editors or producers. I figured if even one of them took the bait, the effort would pay off. I lucked out; Woman's Day graciously gave my novel a third-page endorsement (and my grandmother much-deserved bragging rights!).

Now, for the usual question: Did any of this translate directly to sales? Some of it, sure. For the most part, I'll never know. What I do know is that my publishing house took notice. They slated my book as a featured title, allowed me a generous supply of ARCs and finished copies, volunteered some nice marketing efforts, and (perhaps a related result) gifted me with beautiful packaging and amazing co-op placement.

And…the more important question: Do you feel the campaign was a success? Given the number of times I consistently heard the fantabulous phrase "I've seen your book everywhere," my answer is a resounding yes. As authors, we can't control how much people will enjoy our stories (goodness knows, I wish we could!), nor the amount of support we'll receive from our publishers or the media. But where we can contribute is in brand awareness, doing our darndest to make sure readers know our books exist. Then, we simply cross our fingers and move on to write the next labor of love.

Kristina McMorris is a graduate of Pepperdine University and the recipient of nearly twenty national literary awards. A host of weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, she penned her debut novel, Letters from Home (Kensington Books, Avon/HarperCollins UK), based on inspiration from her grandparents' wartime courtship. This critically praised book was declared a must-read by Woman's Day magazine and achieved additional acclaim as aReader's Digest Select Editions feature, a Doubleday/Literary Guild selection, and a 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Historical Fiction.

Her second novel, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (March 2012), has already received glowing reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, among many others. Named one of Portland's "40 Under 40" by The Business Journal, Kristina lives with her husband and two sons in the Pacific Northwest, where she refuses to own an umbrella.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Field Trip #7: Making Emotional Connections

Take a moment to think of the last time you watched a CSI, true crime, or some other crime investigation television show.  Did you note how many commercials for insurance policies and home security systems are aired during these shows?  Aaaahhhh - those sneaky marketing monkeys are at it again - playing on our emotions!

This week's field trip can be conducted in the comfort of your own home.  In this  assignment, we would like for you to watch television.  No mindless TV watching here, though... specifically, we want you to pay close attention to the commercials.

You will need a pen and paper to do the following:

  • While watching your favorite TV show, note the brands and types of products promoted in each commercial (cereals, cosmetics, restaurants, services, etc.)
  • At the conclusion of each commercial, quickly record any emotions or thoughts you may have felt while watching the advertisement (were you happy, sad, amused, scared?)
  • When your program resumes, note the most memorable commercial and specifically what made that ad pop into your head first

It is important that you conduct this exercise during your "favorite" TV show, because commercials aired during this show are targeting YOU demographically.  At the conclusion of the show, think about ALL the commercials aired during your show.  Do you see any over arching trends or similarities with regards to the types of commercials aired? Take a stab at producing a demographic profile for your favorite show based solely on the commercials shown?  (Age, hobbies, lifestyle, income, etc.)

Now, think about your books.  Try to find ways to use the emotions expressed in your stories in your marketing pieces.  For example, if your stories focus on 'hearth and home' are you using these images in your marketing collateral?  If you book includes a thrilling chase or fight scene, think about invoking the same emotional energy in a book trailer.  If you write edgy, contemporary works, is your website 'edgy'?

Are you making emotional connections to your readers in your marketing?  

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Myth: Release Week Sales are a Big Deal

Yes, they are! It's awesome when your new book is finally available for readers! Shout it from the rooftops!

The frenzy of promotions during release week was a HUGE deal because those initial sales could make or break a career. There was only so much space on the shelves in a bookstore. New novels got a limited time in the spotlight. When the next shipment of books arrived for the spotlight, the books in that space often were returned. Even worse, only the stripped off cover was returned for full credit to the publisher and the rest of the book - gasp - was destroyed.

Electronic publishing has changed that horrible practice. Ebook versions take up no space, can live forever in megabyte clouds, and be available for anytime the Author wants to do a promotional tour. Even if that really big promotional push doesn't happen until a few months after the release of book 3.

Multipublished authors are taking advantage of republishing all their out-of-print backlist to a new life and new readers. It's a win-win situation for them but is also an example of this new power available for even 1st time authors. Week One, Month One, no longer has the power to make or break an authors career. Promotions can take place at any time, and be as frenzied or as cool as the author chooses.

Electronic publishers still operate on the Release Week Promotions schedule so the author must enter that frenzy with a whole pile of positive energy. BUT, regardless of how good sales are that first week, the publisher does not push a delete button. (Or, if they do it better include all rights reverting to the author!)

Author royalties in the Print-Only version of novels are delayed by months and include a riot of variables and formulas to account for potential returns. This is one more practice melting away in the world of ebooks. A sale is a sale and the cost of producing the book decreases exponentially with each sale too.
Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to specific questions.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Blending Genres and Attracting Readers

Morgan and Therese have a workbook in process.
This Finer Points Friday post is one of the contributed articles.

Blending Genres and Attracting Readers   

 By Paty Jager

Since I began writing, my projects have always been dictated by what I’m excited about. That excitement has made me a genre hopping author. The first books I wrote and published were historical western romance. This genre was easy to show on my website and blog, and to promote. Hot cowboys, guns, and western scenes.

Several historical books in, I went with the muse and wrote a contemporary western romance and had it published. I followed that with another one as well as continued writing historical westerns– Now to figure out how to promote and blend that with the historical western. To do this I began dressing myself more western, added a more contemporary look to my website and blog along with a hot cowboy. I used a leather-looking table cloth at book signings as well as a child’s cowboy hat to hold chocolates or freebies. At this stage of my promoting, I made sure every book signing I had special made book marks with a ribbon inscribed with my website and a charm that went with the book title. Every person who bought a book received the bookmark.

My love of the old west wouldn’t be complete without my fascination with Native American Indians. My historical paranormal spirit trilogy set among the Nez Perce tribe was born. While I’d ventured into the subgenre of paranormal, I stayed true to using western and Native American images for promotion. At this point, I again changed my blog and website headers. This time I had the picturesque Wallowa Lake, the area where my paranormals took place, a hot cowboy on one side and a Native American couple on the other side. I continue with my specialized bookmarks to give away at book signings.

I’ve had book marks for the series’ made. With the first paranormal book I also made a booklet of the first three chapters that I sent to bookstores in the Pacific Northwest. I had a few of the stores call and ask me to do signings from that mailing.

Then from out of nowhere an ideas for a contemporary action adventure series came to me and a mystery series. But how could I tie it to the brand (western/Native American) I’d worked so hard to establish?  I made the main character in the action adventure an anthropologist studying Native American people and the mystery has a heroine of Native American descent.
Even if a reader hasn’t read my books they will know what my books are about by the header on my blog and website. They both show a western couple embracing, horses capering, and a Native American dancer. The title is “Paty Jager Western Romance and Mystery.”  I dress for all public events in western footwear, jewelry, and clothing. I dress the “theme” I use in every aspect of my writing. My promo photo is of me and my horse.

To draw more readers to my blog and website I use monthly website contests and writing projects, like my Christmas novella, where I gave posted bits of the story over a period of time on my blog. I currently have the beginning of a short story up at Romance from the Genre-istas with the rest of the story on my blog and website.

I also like to set up blog tours and make them a game for followers to participate in. One time, participants had to collect puzzle pieces at the blogs and send them to me to be entered into the blog tour contest.  I’m working up another one for my upcoming tour in May. Follow my blog or website to learn about it.

For book signings I not only dress my table in a western theme, I make a poster sporting my name, western romance author, and the book cover of the book(s) I’m selling. On my table I have bookmarks for my series, a tri-fold handout with all my ebooks sporting a smart phone block to take the reader directly to the buy link of the book, and a newsletter signup sheet.

The best way to keep readers following you is to stay true to who you are as a writer and bring that to whatever genre you write. Genre hopping doesn’t have to leave your fans behind.

Growing up in the Northeast corner of Oregon, riding horses and reading were my favorite pastimes. While honing my writing skills my husband and I raised four children. Instead of grumbling kids, we now cater to two dogs, two horses, a mini horse, a donkey, and thirty mother cows and currently ranch 350 acres.  
You can learn more about my ranching in the April/May edition of Farm and Ranch magazine in 2011.   I also spend a good part of my summer traveling around the state judging 4-H and open class county fair textile and foods exhibits. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Word of Mouth Campaigns: Part 2

Morgan, here, with another Wednesday field trip coming at ya!

In last Wednesday's post, I introduced some terms that may have been new to you:
  • Maven - a subject matter expert
  • Connector - a person with a broad and diverse network of friends, associates, and other contacts
  • Salesman - a persuasive person

Each person, listed above, plays a role in propagating a word of mouth campaign.  Just think of the last time you needed a new product or service.  Did you consult with your friends, experts, or store clerk before you made your final buy decision?  Have you recently made a purchase based solely on a friend's recommendation?  Have you ever avoided a service provider or product based on a negative review?  If your answer is 'yes' to any of these question, then you have been affected by 'word of mouth'....sometimes, they are formal campaigns orchestrated by corporations who pay trend setters to use their products.  Most often, they are genuine recommendations from people we trust.

I would argue that, in today's WiFi connected world, bloggers are a mix of Maven, Connector, and Salesman.  Formal review sites, like Goodreads and Consumer Reports, act as a mix of Maven and Connector.

How does all of this information pertain to your writing career?  Use your new found knowledge to your advantage.  Connect with bloggers online.  Write reviews on Amazon. Talk with bloggers and reviewers at writing conferences.  Do some research to find out which bloggers will enjoy your style of writing and start to engage them.  We all prefer to do business with people we know and trust....bloggers typically enjoy promoting authors they know personally.

How can you engage bloggers and reviewers?
  • Follow them on Twitter or Facebook
  • Subscribe to their blogs and leave comments
  • Have a drink with them at a conference
  • Make an effort to understand their passion for reading and blogging

Here are some bloggers I've met and / or follow on Twitter:

Questions for this week:
  • Which bloggers do you follow?
  • Do you interact with them via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media?
  • How do you select the bloggers you follow?

I challenge you to find at least one blogger who covers the types of books you write.  Connect with them through their blog, Twitter, or Facebook.  Find out how they select the books they review.  You just might learn something new and start to generate some buzz for your books and your PERSONA.

Any marketing questions can be posed in the comments on any post. If you have a question, others will too, so we can address our answers to all. Our posts are myths and tips we want to share but we love to target our answers to questions.