Friday, August 30, 2013

Seamless Self Promotion: What the Heck Does that Mean?

If you follow our blog (and soon buy our book - yay!) you've probably noticed the phrase "Seamless Self Promotion" is used often.  We wanted to take a moment to take a step back and clearly define the phrase for you.

In professional marketing speak, Seamless Self Promotion is a multi-tiered marketing campaign that encompasses a variety of touch points to drive sales.

In layman terms, Seamless Self Promotion is a series of promotional activities (reader events, blog tours, giveaways, website announcements, etc.) that utilizes a variety of mediums (print, radio, video, live speaking engagements, book signings) to help increase sales.  All of these activities should have a common theme, look, and feel.  All of these activities are coordinated to occur over a period of time that usually coincides with a pending book launch, or a For Sale Now option to buy.

Your campaign should start before your book is released to build buzz.  It should also include an announcement push on the day your book is ready for sale to (guess what) encourage folks to BUY your book.  But, it should not end on buy day...your campaign should include gentle nudges to remind people that: your book is released, you have a back list (if applicable), more books are coming, and you have an engaging PERSONA.

Speaking of PERSONA, your PERSONA is the core of your Seamless Self Promotion.  It is the glue that bonds all of your efforts together.  Your website is your home base for your PERSONA and BUY links are your store front.
Therese Says: Here's a good place to be clear that when someone arrives at your website (through any point of contact with you) you have been FOUND. You have been DISCOVERED. The latest buzz about Discoverability is all about getting noticed by your potential audience and leading them to learn more - which in today's online world means - at your website. Our marketing advice here is about creating What is Discovered and Your Ability to make it happen, but also how to make it work for you once you are Found, or Discovered. Through your Author Persona, and at your website, your audience is Engaged to Explore and Enticed to a Point-of-Purchase that happens with a BUY link! 
There is no 'shame' in promoting yourself and your books (products).  The real shame would be if you poured your heart and soul into a story and managed to get it polished and published, only to have no one know that it exists.

Questions to Ponder:
  • Am I presenting my author persona with a common look and feel throughout my promotional activities?
  • What are some things I can do to tell my readers (audience) that my book is coming, it's available for sale, 'hello, it's still here', and (by-the-way) I have other books and short stories available for sale, too? <Hint: check out our other blog posts for ideas.>
  • Am I actively engaging in Seamless Self Promotion and finding new ways to reach my audience?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Marketing Outside the Box

This REPOST originally appeared on Writer Unboxed July 7, 2013. The reader comments on that original post are great too! Thanks, Marci!

Today’s guest post is from Marci Nault, whose debut novel, THE LAKE HOUSE (Gallery/ Simon & Schuster), was a Chicago Tribune, Cape May Herald, CBS, and Amazon Premier summer read pick. She is the founder of 101 Dreams Come True, a motivational website that encourages visitors to follow their improbable dreams. Her story about attempting to complete 101 of her biggest dreams has been featured in newspapers and magazines nationwide, and she regularly speaks on the subject on radio stations and television in the United States and Canada.

Marci says:  I believe many writers have a hard time figuring out new ways to promote fiction. I decided to share the way I’ve marketed outside the box with the hope that it would spark a discussion on better ways writers can promote their material. I believe by working together we can get more people reading not only the bestsellers that get so much promotion, but the little-known writers making a name for themselves.
Marketing Outside the Box

At my first writer’s conference I asked a panel of agents, “How do you market fiction?” The room of aspiring writers and even some of the panel looked at me like I was crazy. One agent responded, “Well, that’s putting the cart before the horse. First you need to get a contract and then worry about it.”

But I was worried. I’d worked at a small press for nonfiction and had seen great books die because the writers didn’t believe they needed to promote. I’d also watched as mediocre books became great sellers because the author was willing to build their platform. I knew that the platform was everything in nonfiction, but how did the fiction writer build that same kind of following?

I worried even more as my novel, The Lake House, came to publication. There were online advertising campaigns, placement in stores, and book blogging tours. Reviewers raved about the story, but it seemed that everything was focused on the first six weeks and then the book would need to survive on its own through word of mouth and book clubs. I heard more than once, “No one knows what makes a book go, so move on to your next and build a career.”

I’m not the kind of person who can sit back. Call me a control freak, but I wanted a little more influence to get onto reader’s radar.

I came up with a plan outside the normal box. My book is aimed at women, so I’m sorry if my examples are focused towards the female population, but I want this article to open the conversation on how we can promote fiction better.

1) Book Launch Party – These days it’s used mostly to celebrate with friends. I decided to cross-promote with local artists, wineries, theater companies, comedy clubs, and caterers. The outcome? I had a party that would’ve cost me over $5000, but instead was only $200. I signed more than 100 books, and people still haven’t stopped talking about the book or the party. [READ ABOUT IT HERE!]

2) Networking Meetings – Insurance companies, realtors, life-coaches, and businesses throw parties for networking. When I see an event advertised on Facebook, I’ll offer to do a reading at the end of the party when everyone is done with their pitches. It adds entertainment value to the function, and if there are more than fifty people attending, I have a local bookstore handle the sales. One party led to having a large online book club pick my story.

3) Local Businesses — Look for wineries, small restaurants, and clothing stores where you can create events that cross-promote. I found a struggling restaurant and a beautiful boutique that both needed help getting noticed. We’ve combined efforts to create a Women’s Night Out. My book is featured in their places of business and local media will be covering the event.

4) Specialized Sales People — Everyone has friends who sell product lines such as Avon, Cabi, Stella-Dot. They gather their friends for home parties and display their wares at craft and street fairs. I offer to read at home parties with more than twenty guests. There’s always someone in the group with a book club. I also have relationships with many reps to have my book as part of their raffles. The sales people love opening the conversation with potential buyers by talking about my novel instead of trying to do the hard sell.

5) Direct Marketing — Find a local company that ships products daily and ask if you can place postcards in the shipments. I do this through my bridal business.

6) Your Activities — We all might sit at our desks working on our novels and marketing, but one of the best ways to promote is to have a life outside of writing. I’m an adult competitive figure skater and at each competition I ask to put postcards in the Goody Bags. Where in your life can you promote?

7) Platform – With so many books on the market it’s hard to get media if you’re not already a bestseller. Look to your life and see what kind of story you can use to promote yourself.

I decided five years ago to make a life-list of 101 Dreams that I wanted to come true and to date have completed 90 of my dreams. By talking about making my dreams come true I’m able to promote my book through more media channels.

8) Meet-Up Groups — Use meetup and find groups who might be interested in having you come to guest speak. is one of the fastest growing social websites where people get out and do things. There are groups of divorcee, sci-fi, yoga, mommy, pug-lovers, ghost-hunters, and everything in between. Be creative with your approach. Can they set up a special event? Can you do a tour with groups around the country?

9) Specialized Tours – My book has many characters over the age of seventy. Instead of doing a traditional book tour I focused on retirement areas and found book groups in over-55 communities. How can you reach out to your character’s demographic?

Many of these ideas focus locally, but it’s all in hitting the tipping point where more and more people are talking about your book and sharing it on social media.

How do you promote outside the box? I’d love to hear about it. Follow Marci on Facebook and Twitter.

This REPOST originally appeared on Writer Unboxed July 7, 2013. The reader comments on that original post are great too! Thanks, Marci!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Creating Your Persona

Recently we conducted a "Push, Pull, POP: Seamless Self-Promotion" training class for our local RWA chapter, the Rose City Romance Writers.  (This class is taught via a combination of small group case study work and PowerPoint. So, we had loads of fun designing Push, Pull, & POP marketing for our fictitious case study authors!)

During this training class, two of the participants asked questions about building their author persona - which led us to think: "How did we create our author personas?"

Morgan Says: I have two author personas, C. Morgan Kennedy (CMK) and Morgan Mechan (MM).  I needed two personas, because C. Morgan Kennedy writes VERY adult, futuristic Urban Fantasy, while Morgan Mechan writes young adult Steampunk.  These are two audiences that I don't want to mix!  It's okay for the adults to read both, but promoting my adult fiction to YA-ers is out of the question! CMK is more sassy.  I draw heavily from my upbringing in Cleveland, Ohio and my corporate background for CMK.  In fact, CMK is all about business!  MM is a grown up version of the little girl in me that is fascinated with machines.  MM draws heavily from my mechanical engineering training.  MM wears corsets and other fun Steampunk costumes.  MM travels into the past and re-imagines history.  CMK travels into the future.  Both are into gadgets and technology.  Both are enhanced versions of the real world C. Kennedy with particular emphasis on specific aspects of my interests, background, and personality.  Each persona has their own business cards and web presence.  
Creating a persona is more about editing aspects of yourself than it is about building a new person from the ground up. Another way to think about this is that the real you worries about paying bills, taking care of your family, treatment for your latest ailment or injury, etc. Your author persona's is concerned about creating positive customer interactions, generating buzz / interest, and selling more books!
Therese Says: My two personas are not as distinct nor were they deliberately chosen. As Therese, I am a "Get Over It and Get On With It" disgustingly efficient business woman who has raised four daughters, and all are now stellar women and respected professionals. In 2008, I "had written" a memoir about my parents and I created a website, with pictures and other stuff, for all the friends and family who were interested in my progress. I also began exploring the new forums and online communities as they could be of value for promoting my memoir. Terri Patrick actually developed her persona online, via blogging. In reality, I didn't want to be "known" as my parents daughter who wrote their story. I wanted to be ME but had no clue who that was as a Writer Persona, or why my posts would be interesting to read, so I kept it simple with short quips about my life and interests. As this was early in 2009, blogsphere was still small and it was fun to connect with other bloggers. I was engaged because - as a mother of 4 girls - I was used to being ignored in my home. But as a blogger I now had friends around the globe who were interested in my quips and I unleashed my wacky and whimsical side more, and more. This has now spilled over into my romance novels, as you will have a chance to sample This Fall!  

Always be genuine!  People know when you are being phony.  Readers ignore, negate, and turn their backs on phonies - which is the exact opposite of the raving fan response you want!

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Who do you want to be?  Using your current interests, skills, and personality traits, which ones are you going to bring forward when in your persona?
  2. How do you want to be perceived?  As Stephen Covey would say, "Begin with the end in mind."  Sometimes it's helpful to start with how you want your audience to think of you.
  3. Who is your audience?  If you write YA, you don't want to pretend to be a teenager (which would be not be genuine), but you don't want to discuss your menopausal hot flashes either.  Find a common ground with your audience and add that to your persona. (Examples of common ground topics might be: music, art, fashion, dance, cooking, slam poetry, Etsy, Pinterest, or any other activitiy, hobby, sport, etc. that you passionately enjoy.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Jonathan Evison's Marketing: Do What's Fun

Another author we met at Jessica Morrell's Summer in Words Conference was New York Times Bestselling author, Jonathan Evison.

Mr. Evison will be the first to tell you that with regards to his marketing and promotional activities: If it ain't fun, I'm not doing it. <We are paraphrasing him, of course.>  Wearing his signature fedora, Mr. Evison engages his audience with humor and a casual, matter-of-fact tone.  This attitude and aesthetic is consistent throughout his marketing activities.

Morgan says: At one point during his presentation, Jonathan was drinking water, coffee, AND beer.  So, it makes perfect sense that his author website homepage would feature the cover of his books as beer bottle labels!!!

Jonathan Evison's home page.

To promote his book West of Here, he put his world building to work and created a website for the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington.

Port Bonita homepage.  Note the BUY link for West of Here in the lower right of the page.

 The Links tab takes you to both real and fictional websites for more content.  Mr. Evison stated that he had a reader claim that Port Bonita really exists because they were able to find a Chamber of Commerce website.  He had to inform his reader that he created that page, as well as the page for the restaurant featured in his book.

Links page that includes a fictitious Chamber of Commerce seal and links to real websites.

Port Bonita Chamber of Commerce page was specifically designed to be static, look dated, and was produced with a 'generic' website template.  The same is true for The Bushwacker restaurant page, below. 

Again, reusing his world building information, the History tab links to a timeline for Port Bonita that contains even more content.
Click on each bubble to reveal extra content.

Mr. Evison obviously put a significant amount of time and energy into this portion of his campaign for West of Here.  We cannot speak to the amount of money spent, as it is clear that Mr. Evison has a wide variety of creative contacts and friends, in addition to his own talents.  All that we can confirm is that his works are well thought out, researched, and documented.  As a result, he had a wealth of content to reuse in his marketing and promotions.

Therese says: Remember that your books will be available for readers to find and buy for yearsMr. Evison had FUN creating these website pages. They are promoting his books and will continue to generate connections with readers for many years.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What extra content (interesting tidbits from your research, drawings, pictures, notes, etc.) do you have sitting in a file that could be reused to enrich your website?
  2. As we all know, our readers enjoy our stories and the experience of being submerged into the worlds we create on the page.  What are some ways that you can extend that experience beyond the pages of your books?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kari Luna's Marketing: Do What's Fun

Recently we attended the Summer in Words Writing Conference held in Cannon Beach, OR.  Under the leadership of our dear friend Jessica Morrell, we gained new insights and skills.  We also met several accomplished authors.  One of those authors was Kari Luna.

Ms. Luna, one of our keynote speakers, discussed her adventures in writing and promoting her debut novel, The Theory of Everything. Her book will be released this month (July 2013).  Though she touched on several topics during her presentation, her key message on marketing was: HAVE FUN!

The Theory of Everything is a contemporary, young adult (YA) novel that features a fourteen year old heroine who loves eighties music.  Led by a panda shaman, she finds a connection to her missing father via the mixtapes he made for her before he disappeared.

Pulling from her experiences in advertising and playing organ in a variety of bands, Ms. Luna used a 1980's aesthetic as the theme for her marketing campaign and promotional materials.

So, what are some of the things she did?

  • A friend drew a promotional poster, similar to what you might see for a local band.
  • Using elements from the poster, Ms. Luna created pins. (Perfect for her YA audience and nostalgic eighties fans!)
  • Again, pooling her resources and working with friends, she was able to produce a book trailer.
  • Working with her publisher, she wrote a proposal for her trailer to be featured on a variety of media outlets.  Though several proposals were sent out, MTV was the first  to respond, so they got the gig!  (Note: It was Ms. Luna's 'what the heck, it can't hurt' attitude that gave her the gumption to approach MTV.  MTV was chosen, because they are a great fit for her 1980's aesthetic.  Even Ms. Luna was surprised when they put her book trailer into rotation.)
  • Her website is fun and includes extra content like drawings of her main character's wardrobe and mixtape download.
    Promotional pins
  • Her blog has a vintage feel that features more pictures than words.  (Very cool - especially when you take into account that members of her target audience are Twitter & Instagram users.)
In keeping with her fun, up beat, do-it-yourself, spunky with a vintage twist persona, Ms. Luna only does promotional activities that she thinks are FUN and appealing to her target audience.

Questions to ponder:
  1. What themes and aesthetics can be pulled from your latest work and used in your promotions?
  2. Can portions of your world building be used as extra content on your website?
  3. Band pins, t-shirts, and mixtapes are mentioned throughout The Theory of Everything.  Are there any items or artifacts in your story that can be turned into promotional tools?
  4. What are some of the things you like to do that are fun for you?  Is there a way to leverage these activities to PUSH your books or PERSONA?