Friday, November 30, 2012

World Building Work: Reuse It!

As authors and small business owners, we have the opportunity create lush worlds for our readers and customers to experience.

How do business owners engage in world building?  Just think of Ralph Lauren.  He has built his career on creating the clothing for the world he longed for in his youth.  Mr. Lauren's lines allowed everyone to own a piece of preppy clothing that at one time was only available to members of aristocratic and wealthy social circles.  In marketing terms, POLO by Ralph Lauren is considered to be an 'aspirational' brand.  People buy his products because they want a piece his world.  If you visit Ralph Lauren's website, you will see that the images and layout are in line with the aesthic of his world.

As authors, world building is critical to our story tellling.  Through vision board collages, personal photos, stock images, and journaling we flesh out the details of scene settings.  Why not share your world building work with your readers through your marketing?

As we've said in the past, we are big on recycling and reusing content in multiple areas of your marketing.  Here are some ideas of how you can put your world building to work:
  • If your book features a saucy New York DA.  Include a map of Manhatten with dots to designate key locations on your website.  You could also include pictures of the clothing she might wear or a list of songs on her iPod.
  • Maybe your heroine is trying to save the storefronts on the mainstreet in a fictional town.  Why not include a diagam of the store locations?  Use blocks to represent the stores - it really doesn't have to be fancy or cost a lot of money.
  • Jessa Slade's works include a variety of monsters.  She could create a Monster Handbook that features a sketch of each monster, their strengths, weaknesses, and how to kill them  - like the information on the back of a Pokemon card.  She could also use this content to produce a free read handout or ebook.
  • If you write Victorian era works, myabe include pictures of homes you've visited from the era.  Show the chair that your heroine sat on when the hero proposed.  Add a video of your bestfriend being properly cinched into a corset.
  • If you write Steampunk - maybe showcase some drawings of the machines and gadgets that populate your world.
  • If you write Sci-Fi - show your readers the layout of the ship, clothing worn on different planets, alien plant life, or the sketches of the hero's sidekick robot.
Find ways to put your world building to work beyond your writing.  Your readers will love the opportunity to further escape into your books and you'll keep them coming back for more.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Field Trip #13: Trilogy & Series - What’s the Order?

Morgan says: Have you noticed a growing trend in requests for stories with trilogy (or longer) story arches?  From Twilight to The Hunger Games, readers are gobbling up stories that feature the same characters across multiple books.
From a reader’s perspective, this trend makes perfect sense.  Remember, your readers want an experience.  They want to escape into the world that you created.  Writing multiple books that take place in the same small town, family, space ship, dimension, or planet fulfills that escapist need. 
Last week, we experimented with an online workshop to help Jessa Slade revamp her website design.  Ms. Slade’s Marked Souls Series currently has four books.  One of the folks who posted a comment, stated that they had difficulty finding the order of the books in the series.  (Ms. Slade has since made the book order more clear.)  This comment made me wonder:  How do other authors designate the order in which their series books should be read?  Of course there is the publication list at the front of each book, but how do they capture this list on their website?
I did some research on the internet and here is what I found:
George R.R. Martin has written several standalone books, but the HBO series Game of Thrones has sparked a renewed interest in his A Song of Fire and Ice series.  Notice how he lists his books in order as bullets and sub-bullets on his bibliography page.
An excerpt from George R. R. Martin's bibliography page.

J. R. Ward highlights the latest release in her series at the top of her “The Books” page working backwards to the first book in the series.  In the book description she provides, she tells you the:
  • Publisher
  • ISBN numbers
  • Publication date
  • Number of the book in the series
  • Main character focus (i.e., Qhuinn and Blaylock's Story) - BRILLIANT!!
  • Book blurb
One of J. R. Ward's books listed on her "The Books" webpage.
Beyond your website, there are several ways that you can make the order clear.  For example, Melissa Marr showcased her Wicked Lovely covers on a bookmark.  Now her new readers can easily identify which books precede her latest release.
Melissa Marr Wicked Lovely bookmark.

This week, we want you to go your own Cyber Safari Field Trip and answer the following questions:
  • How does your favorite series author list their books on their website?
  • Is it easy to know the order in which the books should be read?
  • If you write a series, how can you make the book order clear on your website?
  • How can you better showcase your series in other forms of marketing? (i.e., bookmarks, brochures, posters, etc.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jessa Slade Workshop Week: Recap

Many Thanks to all who participated in our Jessa Slade Workshop Week. And thanks to all who dropped in just to observe. We learned a ton and we hope you did too.

Bonus: Jessa Slade is still talking to us!

Now for some basic recap points to apply to your web presence and website:

  • First Glance applies to every page on your website. Treat every page as being a first glance experience for a total stranger.  Don't assume they know you're an author or that you have published books. 
  • Do not limit your online content to only what is available on a book page or cover flap. When you spend a lot of time on your world building, add those descriptions to your website, so readers know what they will see in the pages of the book.

Therese says: I've always wanted to see sketches of Jessa's monsters with a detail of their skills and how they can be killed. World building is hard work - recycle and reuse that work/content so readers can enjoy your vision. Even if you use descriptions directly from the text in the book.

  • If you write in multiple genres - look for overarching themes for your colors, graphics, and tone. For example: Jessa's stories are all Urban and Gothic but not all have paranormal elements. There are weapons and romance in every book.

Morgan says: I would like to see more of an urban flavor in her banner like a spooky nightime city scape.

  • The purple color was a big hit.
  • Several people commented that they wanted one banner on all pages.
  • Unfortunately it was difficult to find where to buy her books. Jessa Slade has now been reminded that one of the goals of her website and marketing is to SELL BOOKS. But this is a really easy fix.  Update all links to directly connect to your book point of purchase - at every outlet.
  • Everyone liked the log line: "Love Conquers All - Which Explains the Scars."  We'd like to see more of that irreverent tone on her website.
  • Quick Fix: Since she uses the free services on Wordpress, maybe she could pick a new template that includes a side bar for static point-of-purchase and social media links.  At the top of that side bar, she could also include her Publisher's Weekly and RT Book Reviews blurbs. A side bar would be a quick fix for almost every issue identified that blocks a sale.

Therese says: Quotes, blurbs, and reviews are HUGE, with regards to first glance endorsements.  YOU WRITE GOOD BOOKS!  You should be your biggest fan!

Morgan says: BUT - don't over do it....list one or two of the most recent quotes, blurbs, and reviews.   No body cares that you wrote a great book in 1972.  (Include that book on your re-issue list, though.)

Final thoughts for today:

Jessa has GREAT books and a VERY competent website.  Our goal was to enhance her webpages and help her feel more confident that it's working for her.  We'll keep you posted on  Jessa's future marketing endeavors.  Remember: Marketing is a marathon NOT a sprint (or an insurmountable hurdle.)

So....what did YOU think about our online workshop experiment?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jessa Slade Workshop Week - Pull and POP

A blog, or any social media is an opportunity to interact with your audience.

Take a moment to examine Jessa Slade's blog.

Blog posts with direct links are often shared around social media venues so consider this blog post is your first contact with Jessa Slade.

What impression do you have from the colors?

How easy is it to find out more about Jessa?

Please comment if there's a point where you would have opted out of this website experience.

Please offer suggestions for better navigation.

Q:  What are your thoughts?

In addition, we would like for you to consider the following:

Q:  How easy is it to find the Point-Of-Purchase for her books?

Q:  Any other overall comments about Jessa's author persona and web presence?

Thanks for participating in Jessa Slade Workshop Week.

We'll post a recap and summary on Saturday (No Post on Friday!) and will appreciate your feedback regarding this workshop experience.

Now we invite you to answer these questions in the comments! 
Have Fun and Be Nice!

Jessa Slade Workshop Week - Persona

 We know Jessa Slade and she's very colorful, animated and knowledgeable of all things writing and publishing related for her genre.

She's also got a very dry sense of humor and knows when to add the right touch of levity to a conversation or meeting.

Q:  How would you recommend she bring more of that flavor to her Persona?


Therese says:
On June 7th, 2010, after the release of her second book in her Marked Souls series, I interviewed her on my blog as part of her promotional blog tour.  You can read it here.

Q:  Would you like to see more about Chicago on her website?

Q:  Are you interested in "penance triggers" or Monster Girl?

Q:  What else do you feel would be engaging for Jessa Slade to add to her website?

Now we invite you to answer these questions in the comments! 
Have Fun and Be Nice!

Jessa Slade Workshop Week - First Glance

Welcome to Jessa Slade Workshop Week: 

 Here's the First Glance page of Jessa Slade's website.

This is her home page and all her social media accounts should be directed to this First Glance. This is the most critical page for her to keep up-to-date.

When we talk to Jessa, these are some of the log lines she uses:

What Possesses You?  

Hot Guys and Chicks with Knives.

Love Conquers All - Which Explains the Scars.

These books are her products and they are well presented.

Q:  What is your first impression regarding the genre and flavor of these books?

Q:  How are you engaged in the experience of the world she created?

Q:  How does her LOG LINE in her banner reflect the review quotes?

Now we invite you to answer these questions in the comments! 
Have Fun and Be Nice!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jessa Slade Workshop Week: Back to Basics

Welcome to Jessa Slade workshop week! Here at AM101 we encourage having fun with marketing and trying new things. So this week we're going to try a virtual workshop.

In October, we conducted a hands-on workshop in which the attendees designed a basic Persona and Push-Pull-POP strategy via case study team work. Attendees will recall that the case studies we provided were fictional authors and books. The goal of this workshop was to free participants from their own stories, career goals, and inner critics while designing a basic marketing plan. They used crayons and notepads to have fun designing someone else's persona and web presence. This workshop was so well received we decided to try a virtual version on this blog.

For this week we're going to use a real-live-author who has published several books through traditional and indie venues. We adore Jessa Slade  and are impressed with how she's always helping other authors. She has agreed to be our guinea pig... We hope she's still speaking to us next week.

On Wednesday the 21st, we will post three times and ask questions regarding the online experience Jessa Slade  provides through her website. Posts are scheduled for 6:00 am PST, Noon PST, and 6:00 pm PST. Each post on Wednesday will include questions for you to answer in the comments. We are hoping to receive a variety of opinions and suggestions. Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend in the USA, our recap post will be on Saturday. (No Friday Post!) It will include a concise summary of the opinions and suggestions. On Saturday we would also like your feedback on the overall virtual workshop experience.

If you would like to participate in this virtual workshop, we recommend you take some time to research Jessa and her books. She has several books published and over the years has done a number of blog tours. She's also active on FaceBook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

See you Wednesday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Using Visual Marketing for Your Books

As authors, we are all painfully aware of the phrase "show, don't tell."  Now the rising trend in marketing is to 'show' more than 'tell' via social media.  Fast Company's article, "The Rise of Visual Social Media" by Ekaterina Walker (28 August, 2012) details how Moleskin <the notebooks> used customer images to propagate their brand and build buzz.

Morgan says: Lately, I've been conducting my own experiments with Visual Marketing.  In honor of my dear friend, Gina Fluharty, finishing her first manuscript, I created a Treasury list on Etsy based on the theme of her book.  Once Ms. Fluharty finished her website, I added her web address to the Treasury list description.

Red Riding Hood's Dream Etsy Treasury inspired by Gina Fluharty's first manuscript.

Ms. Fluharty's website address in the Treasury description.
 Morgan says: I'm also having fun building image boards on Pinterest.  The board below creates a virtual inspiration board for my Steampunk WIP. <Of course, I have my website address in my user profile!>  Since my day job requires a significant amount of travel, Pinterest is a handy way for me to access my image board while on the road.

"Give Me Steam" board on Pinterest

(PULL marketing at work: the pictures attract potential readers and pull them to your website.)

Other ideas for using Visual Marketing:
  • Post pictures of buildings, rooms, cities, etc. that are the settings of various scenes in your stories on Facebook or your website.
  • Tweet a photo of a pair of shoes your heroine would wear or your hero's favorite jacket.
  • Use Instagram to chronicle your book signing, reader event, or 'a day in the life of a writer.'

Use Visual Marketing to help with your world building then share these images with your readers to enhance their experience with your book.  The more concrete your world is to your readers, the easier it will be for them to escape into it....Remember, a great story and author PERSONA generate an awesome reader experience that keeps your audience coming back for more.

Think beyond traditional venues and find new ways to attract readers <customers> both online and in the real world.

Oh - and have some FUN, too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cross-Marketing by Teaming Up: Free Read Anthology

Here, at Author Marketing 101, we often encourage authors and small business owners to help each other out by pooling their resources.  When it comes to promotions, a team approach can multilply your individual efforts and allow you to do some cross-marketing.

Below is an excellent example of author's working together to promote their books.  Belle: Regency Sampler is a free read booklet that features the works of seven authors:

  1. Sabrina Jeffries - 'Twas the Night After Christmas
  2. Valerie Bowman - Secrets of a Wedding Night
  3. Darcy Burke - To Seduce a Scoundrel
  4. Erin Knightley - More Than a Stranger
  5. Leigh LaValle - The Runaway Countess
  6. Sara Ramsey - Heiress Without a Cause
  7. Heather Snow - Sweet Deception

Cover of Belle: Regency Sampler free read.
Obviously modeled after Elle magazine, the contents are clearly conveyed via the cover design - you know you are getting Regency period pieces, even before you read the subtitle.  The sample article titles are very clever: "Scandals, Secrets, & Spies, OH, MY!", "Waistlines are UP! Necklines are Down!", and "7 Must Reads of the Season!".  Plus what Elle magazine is complete without a quiz: "Rogues, Rakes, & Gentleman: Which is Right for YOU?". (PUSH marketing at work - the graphics push messaging that entices you to open the booklet.)

Author spread complete with website addresses.
 The first two page spread contains the author photos, a one line blurb about their featured book, and their website address.  (PULL marketing at work - each author wants to pull you to their website.)

Notice the QR Code.
Sabrina Jeffries used a QR Code to link readers to her mobile phone app, while Erin Knightley used a QR Code to link to her website.  Note:  QR Codes can also be used to link directly to a point-of-purchase to accommodate an impulse buy.

Book covers on the back of the booklet.
The back of the free read contained the covers of all the featured books providing a GREAT visual reference for readers to find each book on the (virtual or physical) shelf.

If you decide to cross-market with your fellow authors, please keep the following in mind:

  • For the reader, each author is endorsing the other authors' work....SO, only team up with people that produce the quality of work you feel comfortable endorsing.
  • This type of booklet doesn't necessarily have to contain books in the same genre, but there does need to be a unifying theme.  (Remember, readers cross genres all the time.)  Maybe all the authors are from the same city or members of the same writing club.  Maybe all the books feature characters obsessed with coffee....get creative!

Multiply your marketing efforts with cross-marketing!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mirror Your Business Cards and Website

Today's website screenshots and coordinating business card is a great example on soooo many levels! 

  1. Gina Fluharty is marketing her first novel to agents and editors so you can really explore her website and not be enticed to buy anything. (YET!)
  2. This website displays the LESS IS MORE objective of creating an experience for the reader with color, theme, easy navigation. 
  3. Click on her link and see how fast it appears!
  4. Check out the bottom right corner!
Now here's the business card she hands out.  

Same color, same bridge.  Name, Log line, Website, Email, Photo. Plus, she has a short book blurb on the back!  (Now agents and editors will remember who she is and what she writes.)  Anything else on the card is clutter.

Now here's the novel she's marketing - Spectral Bonds

Any Questions about the Genre? Flavor? 
Please notice that this is a complete screen shot - I hate websites that are out-of-bounds!
ALSO - this image shows up well on smaller devices.

We'd love to take credit for helping Gina with her marketing. Nope. She presented it to us for review and all we can say is - Brilliant! You're done.

Done? Yes. Done. Her AUTHOR PERSONA is strong and now the DYNAMIC CORE of everything she will do on the internet. Her name links to her home page website address. She's in control of the first impression she presents in cyber space. Review that bottom-right-corner. There is room for more graphic logo links to where you can find her in the social media cloud in the future. 

We also like the navigation bar on the bottom because in this example it does not interfere with the picture. 
Placement of the navigation bar can be anywhere on the website as long as it appears in the same place on every page. 

When Gina has a book cover and publication date all she has to do is add the image, the blurb, excerpts link,  and everywhere this book is available to purchase (POP) to This Page Already On Her Website. As reviews are posted, she can add them directly on this page too - and not have to worry about those reviews being deleted. OR - she can add another page to the navigation bar called: REVIEWS.

The label "Spectral Bonds" can be modified to be "Books" when she has more than one. But nothing else about her website needs to be changed!

Her Media Kit can be added right on her BIO page. That CONTACT is currently an email link but can be modified to be another page that promotes her schedule of blog tours-book signings-public appearances. 
Therese says: I personally don't like automated email links because on my computer it opens MS Outlook and that's my private email address. I then have to copy the address, open my business email account and paste the address there. It's easier for me to copy or type your email address direct from your website.
Gina's Marketing Foundation is DONE. There's no reason to mess with it. She can play around social media having fun. Now all she has to do is WRITE MORE BOOKS.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Turning Marketing Messages Into Actual Purchases: My Nikki Navarre Adventure

Morgan here with a Field Report from the Emerald City Writers' Conference in Seattle, WA.

Lately, Therese and I have heard many a tale of woe and frustration from published authors who feel their marketing efforts are wasted energy.  Speaking from personal experience, I can't stress how much marketing is a marathon NOT a sprint.  You have to give your marketing efforts time to marinade.  Give it time to soak in and "Don't go changing to try to please <them>....<They> love you just the way you are...." to quote Billy Joel.

A good retail marketing campaign won't reap real results for four to six months.  (Yes, months!)  In my day job, we just booked a five figure order from a customer that I've been working with for almost two years.  (Yes, years!)  So, take the time to design your campaign, target your efforts, focus your execution, and go write your next book!

To give you some perspective on marketing turn around time to an actual sale, I would like to recount my adventure with the ever lovely and wise Laura Navarre during the Emerald City Writers' Conference.

My first encounter with Laura Navarre (aka Nikki Navarre) was via our conference goodie bag.  She included two free read booklets in our bags.  Both free reads were professionally printed with full color covers.  Each booklet contained the first chapter of her latest works. Normally, I am overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in my conference goodie bags.  And I felt overwhelmed this time, too....there were at least five or six free read booklets in the bag.  BUT, since I've been a Russian history buff since an elementary school lesson on Peter the Great and his 'Window to the West', Ms. Navarre's "The Russian Seduction" cover caught my eye. {PUSH marketing in action: the booklets were handouts in the goodie bag.}

Free read booklets in our goodie bags.

My second encounter with Ms. Navarre was during the bookfair.  Therese and I were running around chatting with our friends and taking pictures of author book signing setups for this blog.  Though I didn't know her, Ms. Navarre caught my attention.  She was wearing a Russian military costume, complete with embroidered medals and epaulets.  (I'm not quite a slave to fashion, but I do recognize a cute outfit when I see one.)  Plus she was incredibly engaging.  I complimented her on her costume and chatted with her about her experience as a diplomat, stationed in Russia, charged with looking for weapons of mass destruction.  So, now I'm thinking, "Hey, my WIP features a Russian billionaire.  This book will be a great research buy."  BUT, I already had three signed books in my hand and I was trying to stick to a budget.  I thanked her for her time and asked if I could take the picture below, then ran out to the cashier before I ran out of money. {POP marketing in action: Though I didn't know her or her books, I was drawn to Ms.Navarre at a point-of-purchase.}

Laura Navarre in her Nikki Navarre persona at the book fair.

The next day, I attended Ms. Navarre's writing craft workshop titled: Sympathy for the Devil: Dark Heroes in Popular Fiction.  During this session, she used movie clips to illustrate her points.  The posters from her book signing table were a silent beacon for her works during her preso.  She also had a stack of free reads ready for us to take.  Once again, I was impressed with her knowledge and professionalism.  I actually went up to her after her talk and apologized for not buying her book the previous day. {PULL marketing in action: The topic of her workshop 'pulled' me to her session where her signs silently PUSHed her books.}

I quickly rectified the whole 'not buying' situation via the Barnes & Noble app on my iPhone.  I purchased the Nook version of both her featured books, as I sat in the writers' lounge.  I then followed her on Twitter and shot her a Tweet about buying her books.  She took the time to respond to my she has a raving fan!

Overall Comments:
  • It is clear that Ms. Navarre put thought, time, and energy into her marketing strategy for this conference.  How much time?  I'm not sure, but I'm sure if you visited her website, and asked her nicely, she might tell you!
  • She also made a monetary investment.  (Did I mention she had an ad placed in the conference booklet?) But all her investments of time and money can be easily recycled and reused for other conferences and workshops.
  • Note that her session was on Dark Heroes.  She could've easily done a session on a Russian related topic, but for this conference she chose a more general topic to attract a broader base of people.  Brilliant!
  • Note: her messages touched me THREE times, before I made a purchase: 1) free read in the goodie bag, 2) during the bookfair / signing, and 3) via her workshop presentation.  (I didn't see her ad until after my purchase.)
In the end, her marketing led to my purchases and set the stage for others to make purchases during the conference and in the near future.

    Put a coordinated, multi-touch, marketing campaign to work for you!

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    POP Marketing: Bookfair and Author Signing at ECWC

    Oh how we love a good bookfair!  And the bookfair at the Emerald City Writers' Conference 2012 was a wonderful mix of meeting new people and touching base with old friends.  The POP marketing varied from elaborate to nonexistent.  Our friend, Sabrina York, even did a raffle for a beautiful tiara to build her email distribution list.

    Yup - that's Karina Cooper dressed in Steampunk apparel.  See her complete costume below.

    Delilah Marvelle - Note that she has the cover flats from her first two books that are now only available in ebook for signing.  Plus, check out her awesome new book trailer for Forever a Lord!

    Darynda Jones promoting book four in her Charley Davidson- Grim Reaper Series and Delle Jacobs showcasing the new covers she designed.  Note that Ms. Jacobs has a Kindle at her table to display her new book: Faerie.

    The bookfair was open to the public and there was a great turn out!

    Jenna Bayle-Burke our favorite, bubbly marketing blooper (see Monday's post) shares a table with Asa Maria Bradley.

    Cathryn Cade displaying both her Orion and Hawaiian Heroes Series.

    Calinda B signing her Wicked Series.

    Check out those boots on Karina Cooper!

    Laura Navarre in her Nikki Navarre PERSONA - Read more about my book buying adventure with Ms. Navarre in our Finer Points Friday post this week.

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Take-Away Blooper

    Jenna Bayley-Burke is a dear friend and always offers a great Point-Of-Purchase experience at book signings. Her online Bookshelf is simplistic but it is easy for readers to review and purchase her books from a variety of venues.

    Her personality is very friendly, and her giggle is contagious, so anyone walking by will enjoy the experience of meeting Jenna and ruffling the pages of her books. Sitting next to her is Asa Maria Bradley who also has a good website presence, and we love her underwater photography though the cowgirls are awesome too. Two delightful and savvy authors. The table set up has their name, book covers are displayed well, and they are both smiling. All good.

    Here's a picture of Jenna's take-away for three soon to be released novels. It's a great promo card and keeping with the theme of a Caribbean holiday, Jenna attached a sample of sunscreen to each card.

    As a promotion to hand out in Seattle, WA, in October, sunscreen is not a big draw. It will be many months before the sun shines again. There's also a potential for leakage...  We liked the card but didn't take any since we have no interest in the sunscreen, and didn't want it in our luggage.

    This is a time and expense blooper for Jenna. But she worked it and pointed out her marketing-promotions blooper as one more way to share a laugh and engage a customer. Everyone loves a good blooper.