Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Workshop #1: Bookmark Design Best Practices

So far, we've provided you with a series of field trips to help you discover and explore marketing in your everyday world.  It occurred to us that we haven't given you any workshops!

Today's workshop will focus on bookmark design.  Why are bookmarks still relevant in the ever growing world of e-readers?  Well, when used properly, they are a handy promotional tool.  They also provide a means for an author to give a signature to a fan who may only read books on an e-reader.

Here is an example of a professionally designed bookmark from HARPER (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers) for Melissa Marr (http://www.melissa-marr.com/) .... [overall dimensions: 2.5" x 8" (6.35 cm x 20.32 cm)]



Morgan says:  Here is what I LOVE about this bookmark:
  • One side showcases all of the books in Ms. Marr's Wicked Lovely series.  Most importantly, it shows the books in the order they should be read.  (Ms. Marr pointed this fact out to me when I met her at the RT Book Lovers Convention in Chicago in April.)  So now the reader not only has a name to look for at the bookstore, they also have a cover image.
  • The other side showcases her latest work...which also happens to be the last book in the series.
  • Her name pops up a total of eight times in various places.
  • The QR code, when scanned by a smart phone, takes you to a phone friendly web page that includes loads of content like: where Ms. Marr will be signing books in the near future, snapshots / pictures she used for her world building <tres cool!>, info on her books, how to get a signed galley of her next book Carnival of Souls, links to her Twitter, Facebook, and Blog....  Why is this so ingenious?  These books are Young Adult fiction - BRILLIANT! - we all know most YA-ers are pretty darn tech savvy and enjoy viewing content on their smart phones.  If they don't have a smart phone, the web address is also provided.
  • This piece is both a PUSH (showing you all her books) and a PULL (drawing you to her online PERSONA via her website and social media).
Here are  two examples of author designed bookmarks.  The first is by Delilah Marvelle (http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/) for her Scandal Series.  The second is by Maureen O. Betita (http://www.maureenobetita.com/) for The Kraken's Caribbean Series <Steampunk Pirates - woo whoo!>.



Morgan says: Here is what I LOVE about these pieces:
  • Ms. Marvelles bookmark has the overall dimensions of  3" x 8" (7.62 cm x 20.32 cm) and Ms. Betita's bookmark is 2" x 7" (5.08 cm x 17.78 cm). Both sizes work well, however the larger size gives you more real estate for your marketing.
  • Ms. Marvelle's books do not have to be read in a specific order, however, Ms. Betita's do have an order and the covers are shown in the correct order.
  • The QR code on Ms. Betita's bookmark takes you directly to her website via your smart phone.
  • "Are you ready to be Scandalized?" is catchy and the WARNING is memorable.
  • Both author's names are prominently displayed.
  • Both bookmarks have blank, white backs...not only does this save on printing costs, but it also gives the author a space for a signature to create a reader souvenir.
One thing I would also like to note is that there really isn't a ton of text on any of these bookmarks. They are more visual in their messaging.  The goal of each piece is to SELL MORE BOOKS by showcasing a series and giving you a peek at the author's PERSONA.

If you don't have a series of books to promote: Don't fret!  Model your bookmark after the front of Melissa Marr's bookmark that showcases Darkest Mercy.  Use a QR code to link to your website.

Put bookmarks to work by handing them out like calling cards!

Ok - I mentioned "QR codes" a few times in this post.  If you are wondering: "What the heck is a 'QR code'?  Don't worry, we've got you covered.  Next week, all three of our posts will be by guest blogger M. K. Hobson, a fellow author and marketing professional.  Her posts will cover how to generate a QR code and how to use them to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

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 feel are needed for us to share but we would love to target our answers to specific questions. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Many Links Myth

As the volume of social media outlets grew, the advice given is that all authors need to be everywhere, and promote everywhere they are all the time. Author signatures suddenly blossomed into a ladder of links such as:
emailname@hostingservice.com
pennamewebsite@hostingservice.com
booklink@hostingservice.com
publisher@hostingservice.com
blog@hostingservice.com
twitter@hostingservice.com
facebook@hostingservice.com
pintrestwishlist@hostingservice.com
etcetcetc@hostingservice.com
Anyone see the problem with this signature? Do you feel the author is interesting or a touch scattered? Which link would you choose? The standard answer (and there have been studies done to prove this point) is - none.
As an author, you want to encourage your readers to contact you and you want to control the experience of that first glance of your persona. So give them one choice, your website:
www.author@awesomeauthor.com.
A quick and curious click on that link whisks the reader to the engaging experience of your persona, where they can easily check through your books and fall in love. On your ABOUT ME page (or in a sidebar) is where you list all the other places you live on the web. Make those links obvious and engaging, like a graphic with the link embedded. The objective is a welcoming experience for a reader to choose how they want to connect to you - as your fan.


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 feel are needed for us to share but we would love to target our answers to specific questions. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Return on Investment

Return on Investment (ROI) is a fancy way of saying, “Was my money well spent?”

Morgan says: Let’s say you are the owner of a company that makes denim fabric.  Business is booming and your orders exceed your current ability to produce denim.  You want to purchase a new weaving machine to turn your inventory of cotton threads into denim.  You have to decide what machine to buy.  One of the many things you will consider is: how quickly will this machine produce enough denim to justify the expense of its purchase?  In other words, how quickly will I see a return on my investment in a new machine?
Without over complicating this scenario with business accounting and finance considerations, it is relatively easy to see the connection between a piece of machinery and how much product it produces.  

Calculating ROI for your marketing expenses, isn’t always so straight forward.  The Holy Grail for a marketing professional would be the ability to directly correlate sales to an advertisement, promotional piece, contest, or giveaway. At present, it is difficult to validate in hard data what marketing process works best to justify the expense and this is what our whole platform is about, turning myths into simple tips authors can do for FREE.
The primary example is our web address. Yes, we own the domain and our web address could be athormarketing101.com but we’ve kept the .blogspot. for now because that is free. The template is a standard one with a different color for the banner. Everything else about our site is standard, free, and really easy to maintain and promote.  
Therese says: I was highly amused to see a ploy in process to generate a tangible ROI by Michael Hyatt. He’s announced more than once that his marketing book PLATFORM is available for purchase but he doesn’t want anyone to buy it – yet. He is using his own platform to withhold sales until this week (5/21/12) in hope the surge will be enough to land him on the NY Times Bestseller list. I applaud his efforts and hope he succeeds.
I’ve followed Mr. Hyatt’s blog since he was CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, a few years ago. He posted daily, refined his platform into LEADERSHIP, and has incorporated a variety of electronic gadgets and processes into his web presence. He’s now an international motivational speaker and has thousands of followers that may multiply daily. If he succeeds and hits The List – he will have hard ROI data regarding his marketing platform to generate sales of his book. All his years of dedication to his career, platform, promotions, and building his distribution lists, could land him on the bestseller list this week, by his own design.
[Update 6/2/2012 - Mr. Hyatt announced his book hit FIVE bestseller lists ]
This in no way assures his example of building a platform is a book of value to novelists. The Return on Investment would not be measurable until you gained enough exposure through best-selling novels. Then you could try to turn that success into an agenda in hopes your fans will hop on your platform.  
In upcoming posts, we will explore some ways to try to measure the success of your marketing efforts.

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 feel are needed for us to share but we would love to target our answers to specific questions. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Field Trip #5: Working the System

We are bombarded with well planned and orchestrated marketing campaigns daily.  Everything from the ads that we see to a store's floor plan is designed to entice us to buy more products.  If large corporations had their way, we would receive marketing messages twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  To be honest, they are coming pretty darn close to that goal.

What is an author to do?  
Work the system....

This week, we want you to go back to your favorite bookstore.

If you are pre-published:

  • Examine how the books are shelved.  Maybe you'll decide to pick the pen name "A. Aardvark" to ensure that your books are alphabetically first on the shelf.
  • Talk with the store manager to find out when the new books arrive.
    • How do they decide which books are 'faced out' and which ones are placed on end caps?  (If it's a small bookstore, there's a good chance that the store displays (merchandising) are determined by the local staff.  If it is a national chain, they may receive specific display set up instructions or kits.)

If you are published:
  • Chat with the store manager and try to find out the following:
    • How do they set up / schedule in store book signings?
    • How far ahead of time do they design their seasonal displays? (Maybe you have a book that takes place during Christmas or would work well for Halloween or Easter.)
    • For a regionally based or local store, find out who the buyer is for the types of books you write.
  • If your books are already for sale in the store, ask the manager if you can sign their stock copies.  (Autographed books can't be returned to the publisher....)
    • If you do sign the books, be sure to have stickers for the front cover that say "Autographed Copy" - you'd be surprised by how many people prefer to buy signed copies!
    • While you've got the book open, shove in a book mark, trading card, or other promotional piece to drive traffic to your website.

Learn the rules of the game, then WORK THEM to your advantage!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Mythical Platform

“You gotta have a Platform” is one piece of marketing advice misapplied to novelists that makes Therese get really angsty and dark. So we’re going to unleash her on this. Hold on for the ride…

Therese says: My marketing career began thirteen years prior to Morgan’s when “Think outside the box” was the newest catch phrase for the engineers and sales team. Every plan and project was paused to apply this “outside the box” concept except nobody knew what the BOX was. So how can we think beyond something that has not been defined?

That catch phrase was to encourage creativity and innovation and worked well for companies like Microsoft and Apple in the early 1990’s, but when applied to a manufacturing company with a specific customer base business as usual was a better approach.

Platform is what you stand on while at a station when you are waiting for the train or bus so you can go somewhere. Platform is the wooden crate built for the delivery of appliances you will use in your home for decades. Platform is solid, supportive, and best made out of wood or concrete. It’s a foundation and for novelists your foundation is what rests on the seat of your desk chair. When fueled with chocolate, your foundation can expand.

A platform, when applied to reaching an audience, is to define - the primary message or agenda. The example is "he/she has a _________ platform" and words used to fill in the blank are: environmental, spiritual, political, social, and more specific concepts like leadership, or marketing-myth-busters. People who have a platform like this are also standing on a box, like a milk crate holding a megaphone, that raises a leader above the crowd to be heard regardless of the value of the message.

For a novelist, your platform is – writer, your audience is - reader. Do you know the dimensions of that box? Are you within the box or standing on it? Do you know the length of the boards, or the number of nails? Are you stirring concrete or chocolate? Do you care?

You should care. Your novelist platform is your PERSONA. This is your mythical and public presence to rise above the crowd and connect with your audience through stories. The foundation of your persona is your themes, your public personality, your story to tell. Tell it with style instead of perched on a box.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tips on Intentional Marketing


Now, let’s break this all down so you really get the beauty of this advanced marketing advice!
Repost with permission: from Rachelle Gardner's blog on May 3, 2012


Guest blogger: Dineen A. Miller


Nothing like a book contract to make you suddenly aware of the need to think about marketing. Before the release of my first novel, The Soul Saver, I started to question if current marketing trends in the Christian publishing industry were working. The big picture out there can be quite overwhelming, like a megastore with more choices in products than I have years to live (don’t ask how old I am).

Morgan says: Dineen's article is full of great information.  If you plan ahead, develop your author PERSONA, and identify your target audience, your marketing efforts can be more pointed and less overwhelming.

Therese says: What really got us excited about this article, and made it worthy of two posts, is that it not only validates our work but takes it to the next level. There are lots of good marketing advice articles but this is the first that we’ve seen to target the difference between fiction and nonfiction.

For nonfiction you can follow a map to build your platform, for fiction you are floating with the currents in a rowboat. We are offering you the oars (and instruction on how to paddle) to maneuver through the currents, this Rooted* and Intentional marketing advice is giving you an outboard motor.

My questions put me on a journey that’s now led to multiple areas of intentional marketing—intentional as opposed to just doing what everyone else is doing. With every marketing avenue we consider, we need to ask why and will it be effective for our particular book/brand/ministry.

Morgan says: Just like our logo illustrates, if you put your PERSONA at the center of your marketing campaign all of your messaging (PUSH, PULL, and POP) can be focused with laser scope precision.

Therese says: The Christian industry is the platform. Christian fiction is the Brand. The type of fiction (thriller, comic, romance, adventure, YA, etc.) is the Genre. You are an individual persona with a specific book, our whole platform here at AM101 is to be intentional instead of buying into myths and following the herd.

One avenue of intentional marketing is something a group of my cohorts and I are calling “Rooted Marketing.”* Rooted marketing refers to planting seeds in your stories to be harvested right before, during and after your book launch as marketing tools. As you’re writing your story, you are literally building in settings, hobbies, causes, interests and anything unique that you can later use to promote your book.

Morgan says: As stated in a question in one of the field trip posts: if your story includes horses, are you targeting the equestrian or rodeo crowd?  Use elements of your story to find your readers in their "natural habitat" to PULL them to your website and PUSH information to them.  Once you have identified your reader's (target audience's) interests, you can design your POP to attract them like ants to sugar.

Therese says: This is not product placement! Don’t have your character drive a certain vehicle or wear brand name clothing to garner advertisements from the manufacturer. Rooted marketing stems from characterization, themes, and setting. An example is – a character who is a remote control model airplane enthusiast, or designs greeting cards, organizes parades, belongs to a letter writing group. These are specifics that need to matter in your story, not as gimmicks.

From these “roots” you can write nonfiction articles for submission to magazines, blogs and other sources looking for special interest pieces. You can even start getting speaking engagements based on these topics.


Morgan says: You can also use these "roots" to garner media coverage.  Cathryn Cade, author of "red hot romance", was interviewed by a local television station about the rise in popularity of erotic fiction.  The local media wanted to put a local twist on all of the national buzz about E. L. James' Fifty Shades of Gray, so they gave Cathryn a call.  Because she had a well thought out PERSONA, Cathryn was able to shine and stay "on message" throughout the interview. Her marketing efforts helped her to get FREE media coverage for her books!

Therese says: Kristina McMorris sold her first novel “Letters From Home” to the publisher because she found organizations that are letter writing enthusiasts. Then she created a raffle, and specific prizes for those potential readers, prior to her release date to create buzz. This WWII novel was shot down repeatedly by agents and editors as a – will never sell… Kristina was passionate about the truths of her core story and repeatedly revised and enhanced those themes, characters, events, and setting, until it became the wonderful novel it is today. It is better to be clear about your core story before you research how to market it.

For example, one author shared recently how her research for her book turned into a series of articles for her local newspaper. Another author built in a common theme of a quilt pattern through her book series and included the pattern (one she designed herself) at the back of each book. And still another author recently shared with me that she loved writing home and hearth stories because this had been a big area of enjoyment in her own life. Suddenly we realized she had unlimited opportunities to write into her stories traditions and celebrations that had meant so much to her, and she could give her readers step by step planning instructions to do the same kinds of events and traditions in their own homes. She had not only pulled a theme from the stories she felt so passionate about, she’d created her brand and an ongoing platform from which to promote her fiction.

Morgan says:  What I love about the examples given above is that they all illustrate how being genuine is key to the development of your PERSONA.  People can tell when you are being phony.  Stick to the things that peak your curiosity, get your blood pumping, or otherwise holds you interest and you PERSONA will sparkle.

Therese says: When you really work through the Persona exercises on this site, keep this “Big Area of ENJOYMENT in her own life” front and center. This is the ROOT of the genuine and engaging Author Persona to present to your audience.

Rooted Marketing isn’t necessarily “new.” Authors are pulling aspects from their novels all the time to reach more readers and sell more books through online promotions, non-fiction articles, and speaking. But why not start thinking it through before you even start writing your next story?

What can you build into that budding novel that can be a handy marketing tool? Can you even produce articles or downloads while you’re researching and writing it? Imagine finishing your next contracted novel and already having several marketing tools harvested from your marketing garden, ready to use to promote that book when it releases. All that research that goes into making your novel realistic can be put to good use later.

There are so many different ways to market today that we have to be intentional about what we choose. Rooted marketing is like preparing the soil for those seeds so when your book comes out, you’re ready to reap a harvest.

Morgan says:  One last thing, notice the box below.  Dineen tells you where she will be speaking by promoting an upcoming training class.  Look at that beautiful cover! (Now you have an image to look for online or at your local book store.)  Notice that she didn't miss an opportunity to link to her blog.  She is also promoting her backlist of books and an upcoming novella.  Finishing with her credentials provides an added touch of validity.  This touch of seamless self promotion is very well executed.



What can you weave into your story right now and build upon later to market that book of yours?
(Find out more at our ACFW Conference Continuing Education class, “How to Market Your Fiction Like a Non-fiction Pro” by Rachelle Gardner, Kathi Lipp, Dineen Miller and Jim Rubart.)
* * * * *
Dineen’s fiction includes The Soul Saverreleasing this month from Barbour, and the upcoming novella, A Love Meant To Be, part of the Rendezvous in Central Park collection.


Dineen has won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine. She's also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Field Trip #4: Product Fit and Placement

Ok, so your latest work-in-progress (WIP) features a new spin on an old fairy tale, danger, adventure, and all manner of mayhem.  It is completely different from anything you have ever written before and you really aren't sure of where it is going, let alone how to market it.

Today's field trip takes you to your favorite bookstore.

With an eye for marketing, I want you to take note of the following things:

  • How is the bookstore organized?
  • Where are the YA books placed in the store relative to the adult fiction? Inspirational? Home decor?
  • How are the latest books positioned in the store?
  • Which books are placed at eye level versus being placed lower on the shelf?
  • How are the end caps structured?  (End caps are the displays at the end of each row.)
  • What other non-book products are placed on the book displays? (These are the 'pull through' products.)
Where will you books be placed on the shelf?  Now that you are aware of your product placement, how can you use this information to design a better marketing campaign?

Morgan says: My latest WIP is a steampunk novel.  I plotted the story and started writing.  After consulting with some of my dear writing friends, I came to the conclusion that my story would fit well in YA.  This decision on product placement will help me formulate my marketing strategy.  Since writing steampunk YA is such a HUGE departure from anything I've written before, I've decided to take a new pen name for this project.  My product placement decision will have a ripple effect on other aspects of my writing career.  Note:  I started by plotting and planning a story that really got my blood pumping,  THEN I investigated where it would fit with regards to audience and genre.  Always start with a story you LOVE and everything else will eventually fall into place. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Marketing vs Networking Myth


We are going to post our comments regarding Dineen’s article on Friday the 18th because it really belongs on our Finer Points day, instead of Myth-busting Monday.


For today: Networking is not Marketing.

Marketing is what you do when you have a product or service to sell. Marketing is the preliminary stage to advertising and promotions. Marketing is preparing and presenting your product (book) in the best possible way so your target market (customers) will see it.

Networking is what you do with your Persona. Networking is what you do on Twitter, Linked In, Google Plus, Facebook, or whatever you do online. Networking is what you do with colleagues and others within your professional industry or area of interest. Networking is what you do in person as you live your life, connecting with people beyond your core friends and family. (Do you always go to the same cashier at the grocery store? Consider that cashier part of your food network - and a potential reader!)

You can Market your book to your networks, and hope your Persona has generated enough interest for people in your network to read, review, and chat about your book. When people in your network do that, they are marketing your book for you. It’s the most awesome way to get the word out – word of mouth endorsements are huge!   

Networking as a writer with other writers is also huge! Writers are readers but also mentors, colleagues, friends, and your support system on your journey to create books – then as you create your career writing more books. Yes, they are part of your target market but READERS are your ultimate market and they are really only interested in The Book.

When readers connect with your Author Persona because they want to know the creator of that fabulous story, they may become part of your reader network but ultimately, they are FANS and CUSTOMERS. They are also exceptionally fickle and can easily be fans and loyal customers to lots of authors. Your writer network may be tolerant of writer angst, readers could cut you off if they hear the same. This is why your Author Persona must be clearly defined prior to marketing your books.

All a reader wants to know is what other books you have that they will love and purchase. You appreciate their contact and interest and:

  1. Add them to your notification list for when you have a release date for your next book.
  2. Promote your backlist, and your blog (or whatever social media you are happy to do.)
  3. Promote your RECOMMEND page on your website.
This is where your website matters the most, and where you’ve culled a list of favorite books and authors to endorse from writer friends in your networks. You are now marketing books from your network to your readers and retaining an avid fan.

Any questions?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brenda Novak's Auction for Diabetes Research

We have donated Six Hours of our dedicated time and attention to an author at Brenda Novak's 8th annual auction to raise funds for Diabetes Research. If you're interested in personal attention from us, please place a bid. It's going to a good cause.

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=2559222

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rooted Marketing: Building Marketing Tools into Your Story

Morgan and I got excited when we read this article.
On Monday, 5/14/2012 we will go through this article and add in WHY we feel this is IMPORTANT for career authors!




Repost with permission: from Rachelle Gardner's blog on May 3, 2012


Guest blogger: Dineen A. Miller
Nothing like a book contract to make you suddenly aware of the need to think about marketing. Before the release of my first novel, The Soul Saver, I started questioning if current marketing trends in the Christian publishing industry were working. The big picture out there can be quite overwhelming, like a megastore with more choices in products than I have years to live (don’t ask how old I am).

My questions put me on a journey that’s now led to multiple areas of intentional marketing—intentional as opposed to just doing what everyone else is doing. With every marketing avenue we consider, we need to ask why and will it be effective for our particular book/brand/ministry.

One avenue of intentional marketing is something a group of my cohorts and I are calling “Rooted Marketing.”* Rooted marketing refers to planting seeds in your stories to be harvested right before, during and after your book launch as marketing tools. As you’re writing your story, you are literally building in settings, hobbies, causes, interests and anything unique that you can later use to promote your book.

From these “roots” you can write nonfiction articles for submission to magazines, blogs and other sources looking for special interest pieces. You can even start getting speaking engagements based on these topics.

For example, one author shared recently how her research for her book turned into a series of articles for her local newspaper. Another author built in a common theme of a quilt pattern through her book series and included the pattern (one she designed herself) at the back of each book. And still another author recently shared with me that she loved writing home and hearth stories because this had been a big area of enjoyment in her own life. Suddenly we realized she had unlimited opportunities to write into her stories traditions and celebrations that had meant so much to her, and she could give her readers step by step planning instructions to do the same kinds of events and traditions in their own homes. She had not only pulled a theme from the stories she felt so passionate about, she’d created her brand and an ongoing platform from which to promote her fiction.

Rooted Marketing isn’t necessarily “new.” Authors are pulling aspects from their novels all the time to reach more readers and sell more books through online promotions, non-fiction articles, and speaking. But why not start thinking it through before you even start writing your next story?

What can you build into that budding novel that can be a handy marketing tool? Can you even produce articles or downloads while you’re researching and writing it? Imagine finishing your next contracted novel and already having several marketing tools harvested from your marketing garden, ready to use to promote that book when it releases. All that research that goes into making your novel realistic can be put to good use later.
There are so many different ways to market today that we have to be intentional about what we choose. Rooted marketing is like preparing the soil for those seeds so when your book comes out, you’re ready to reap a harvest.

What can you weave into your story right now and build upon later to market that book of yours?
(Find out more at our ACFW Conference Continuing Education class, “How to Market Your Fiction Like a Non-fiction Pro” by Rachelle Gardner, Kathi Lipp, Dineen Miller and Jim Rubart.)
* * * * *
Dineen’s fiction includes The Soul Saverreleasing this month from Barbour, and the upcoming novella, A Love Meant To Be, part of the Rendezvous in Central Park collection.


Dineen has won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine. She's also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Field Trip Topic #3: Product Families


What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Hot or cold, there are a plethora of products to choose from on the grocery store shelf.  Brightly colored boxes from various brands and manufacturer’s tout the nutritional value and healthy benefits of these products.

If you haven’t guessed, this week’s field trip takes you to the cereal aisle of your local grocery store or corner food market.

Here are the questions I would like for you to consider:

Note the different kinds of Chex, Cheerios, and Quaker Oatmeal that are on the shelf…
  • How are the different kinds of Chex (or Cheerios, or Quaker Oatmeal) tied together as a family?
    • What do the boxes have in common?
    • What’s different?
  • How are the different families of products grouped together on the shelves?
    • Are all the Chex (or Cheerios or Quaker Oatmeal) group together or spread out?
    • Where are the children’s cereals placed relative to the adult cereals?
If you are self-publishing a series of books, are you using common visual cues and layouts for the series covers?

If you are traditionally published, how did your publisher connect your series of books together for readers?

For Everyone:  How are you marketing your series of books?  Do your pieces show them as a “family” of products?  

If your audience has to read your books in a specific order, is the correct order clearly stated or illustrated in your marketing campaign?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Social Media is NOT all you need

Therese didn't go to Chicago, she went to Oregon City....

Regardless how many times we hear that the world of books is dead and the ereader is all there is - your readers don't live in that world. They like to browse bookstores, libraries, and garage sales, for their reading material.
Many avid readers attend book/author events but now they don't want to buy the book, they want to download to their reader - which is at home...

This is where authors with digital books need to be - but how? We don't have an answer but here's our first suggestion. Freebie handouts of professional quality with engaging content!

We bought the space and attended a local Author Fair as an experiment for market research to see what tips we would be able to share, and we had a blast doing it. Yes, you are all welcome and we do advise you to team up and cross-market.
However, we had one big surprise.

There were over 40 attending authors, a bake sale, and sample platters to purchase from local specialty food shops. Burgerville sponsored a free raffle of prizes, every hour, during the four hours. (I won a jar of their famous sauce as the author next to me won the final drawing but doesn't do mayonnaise based products. She kept everything else in the prize pack.)

This combination of books, cakes, and local business at an event is recommended. Plus, it was within a historic landmark building in a busy part of town, and right next to the library. The Atkinson Memorial Church is painted a much brighter pink than the sidebar on their website, and it was open for tours. It is gorgeous!
Morgan and I chatted with most of the authors and a new, local, indie publisher called, appropriately, Puddle Town Publishing Group.
Our conversations centered around marketing, and books, and we learned a lot about what authors outside of our network are doing so we have some cool tips for future posts. 

We also observed shoppers at our table to note the differences when we were promoting our freebies as to when no one sat in the chair. Shoppers chose a lot more when no one was there to hand-sell the promo items. One woman I encouraged to take as much as she wanted admitted that she didn't want to appear greedy - to me. But with my permission, she and her two friends had a blast gathering up almost one of everything. (We stayed away from the chair most of the time.)

Morgan and Therese at the Author Fair with our table of goodies to share.

So what was our surprise? While I can't verify actual numbers and can say what I took home was a lot less than what I had when I arrived, BUT - drumroll - the biggest draw for shoppers was - a newspaper! 
They were all gone before the event ended.
http://www.thebookbreeze.com/

Thanks to Patricia K. Lichen for coordinating this event! Great job!

Oh yeah, the bonus for the authors? A brilliant piece of coordination by Patricia!

Each author was able to donate one copy of their books to the library. Now they are all in "the library system" and were also on display at the library - ALL WEEK - in honor of the-author-event-next-door.
Cross-market!! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cross-Marketing: Help a sistah (or brotha) out!


Howdy, it’s Morgan, bringing a few tales from the recent Romance Times (RT) Booklovers Convention in Chicago, IL.  Don’t worry….What happened at RT will stay at RT — except for some examples of SUPERB marketing!

The ever lovely Ms. Tes Hilaire was the master mind, marketing diva who orchestrated The Big Basket-of-Books Contest.

Basically, she created an author scavenger hunt. This tri-fold piece featured seventeen published authors. 
Shannon Delany           Ann Aguirre 
Zoe Archer                    Angie Fox
Kady Cross                   Sophie Jordan
VickyDreiling               Shana Galen
Tessa Dare                    LaurieLondon
Caridad Pineiro             Jessa Slade 
and Tes Hilaire (of course)


 

Each author was given a stack of fliers to distribute to their readers.  The readers gathered signatures from the featured authors. Upon completion, they showed their signed pamphlet to one of the featured authors and their name (with contact info) was recorded for the drawing.  Simple right?

Here are the things I LOVE about this piece:
  • It is a full color, matte finish piece on a light cardstock paper that folds down to a 5.75” x 11” pamphlet.  The overall look and tactile feel resonates quality and professionalism.
  • Each author was allotted two paragraphs: 1) to share a little bit about themselves and 2) to promote their latest (or pending) publication and their website.
  • The beautiful book covers on the front of the pamphlet were stunning, but most importantly, it gave the readers a cover to look for on the shelves!
  • It encouraged reader cross-pollination.  The featured authors write in a variety of genres: paranormal, steampunk, historical, urban fantasy, and contemporary in both adult and young adult.  Talk about sharing the love!
  • It’s a great souvenir (and book guide) for the reader.  Readers kept their signed pamphlets.

Mad kudos to Ms. Tes Hilaire and to all of the authors who participated in this fine marketing program.

I challenge all of you to look for ways to team up with your fellow authors to cross-market your books, events, PERSONAS, and other promotions.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Field Trip Topic #2: Target Audience


Would you put a guy all decked out in hunting camouflage gear on the cover of a fashion magazine?  Your answer would probably be a resounding “No”, unless camo is the hottest trend from Versace!

This week, your assignment is to venture to your local mall…we know, we are REALLY twisting your arm on this one….  Specifically, we want you to visit Macy’s, Dillards, or some other large retailer with a huge perfume department. 

First, I want you to step back and take in the layout of the perfume department. 
  • Are the perfumes targeted at teens positioned near the teen clothing? Or are they near the costume jewelry or purses?
  • Examine which non-perfume departments are positioned around the perfume.  Do you see any correlations?
  • How large is the section for men’s perfume, in the main perfume department?

Second, take a look at the colors and images used to promote the perfumes.
  • Compare colors, images, and messaging used by Chanel and Lancome to Coach and Juicy Couture.  Can you identify which lines are targeting youth versus (ahem...) elegance?
  • What about the giveaways?  When you buy some dollar amount of perfume you receive some free item.  How do the ‘free gifts’ differ from brand to brand, audience to audience?

And Third, avoid getting sprayed by ten different perfume samples!

How are you focusing on your target audience?

If your book features horses, are you targeting the equestrian or the rodeo crowd?  If you are writing YA, how are you making your PERSONA and books more attractive and accessible to that age group?

If you know and understand your ideal reader (target audience), it is easier to hone your marketing efforts.