Friday, March 28, 2014

Pin Power: Using Pinterest for World Building & Promotions by Mary Rosenblum

Morgan says: Mary Rosenblum attended our presentation at the NIWA Symposium. I had a long chat with her and was absolutely struck by her passion for helping new authors. As a multi-published author in science fiction and mystery, Mary has personally dealt with the challenges of being a professional and successful 'mid-list' author. Now she is sharing her knowledge via her website and blog: The New Writers Interface.The blog post below was the inspiration for me including Pinterest in my 'World Building on the Run' workshop and Mary was kind enough to give us permission to repost it here. Enjoy!

Mary Rosenblum says:
Okay, many of you have heard me push Pinterest over and over again as a potentially powerful promotional tool in your author's tool-kit. The problem is finding the right way to use it and many authors hang back, not sure just what they can do to connect readers to their stories through this so-very-visual medium.

What can Pinterest do for you? It can put the title of your book and you, the author, in front of a lot of people who want to repin your images or simply gaze at them, and you connect them directly to your website. No, they won't all be readers and only some of the readers may be interested in the type of books you write, but Pinterest gets a LOT of traffic, so that 'some' can translate into a lot of new fans…who may, in turn, rave about your cool book and pictures in their blogs, on their FB pages, and so on. Viral marketing, remember?

It's simply another effective way to spread the word about your story, your characters, and bring people to your website.
Humeira Kazmione of my clients, is working on her second book, a marvelous romantic romp set in today's Pakistan and rich with local color. Humi is Pakistani, after all, and she grew up there! So the realism is lush. And the book was a natural for Pinterest! Bless her for giving in to my nagging and putting up some boards there. This is a marvelous example of how to use Pinterest effectively she has many boards that feature pictures of people, outfits, customs, and locations that are found in the book. Readers of the book can enjoy seeing the people, places, and lush costumes that are described in the book, and people who view the 'pins' will find their way to her website to find out more about Zaed, Sophie, and this very rich and fun romantic read.

What about your book will work on Pinterest? Use your imagination! If it's a family memoir of Great Grandma's journey to the US as an indentured Irish servant, why not pin pictures of the Irish village she came from, or that region at least, Irish pubs, city scenes, maybe historical photos of old Ellis Island. You can find all kinds of images online to pin on Pinterest and it gives you a place to let people know about that book. Your fantasy with the wolf-companion offers the opportunity to post wolf pictures, rich forest scenes that could be the setting for the book, pictures of people who might be the main characters, and so on.

Not every book has an easy visual connection that makes Pinerest a natural, but many do. That seaside village your stories take place in? Why not post pictures of one that's the 'spitting image' of what you imagine, rustic pubs that remind you of the restaurant the main character visits often. Some authors post 'character boards' including an image that works as the main character and other images of people who are important to this person in the story.

Remember that you don't want to spread yourself too thin in the promotional world. If you start posting on Pinterest, work the platform, follow other boards, repin other's pins. Be sociable and make connections. Remember the cocktail party rule on social media: You don't walk into a cocktail party and shout 'buy my book'! You chat first and then mention that book! But it is easier, on Pinterest, to send a polite and acceptable 'buy my book' message from the get-go, since your pictures tell that story for you. No shouting required, a simple link to your website will do.

Remember…a picture is worth a thousand words!

Or even sixty or eighty thousand!
Morgan says: Be sure to 'close the loop.' Include links to your Pinterest boards on your website as extra content for your readers! Your fans that have already found you will enjoy your boards, too.

Mary Rosenblum
After a two-decade career as a self-supporting Science Fiction and Mystery author with New York publishers and a writing teacher, she started working one on one with new authors to help them publish and promote their books successfully. Bringing her years of New York experience to the table as the Literary Midwife at the New Writers Interface, she helps authors succeed in today's brave new publishing world, from first draft through publication and promotion.

Both her Mary Rosenblum and Mary Freeman books can be purchased here. 

Help with promotion. You’re an author. You probably have a website and/or a blog. You’re probably on Facebook and Twitter. You probably send out an e-newsletter. (If you’re not doing any of these things, why not?) Once you’ve finalized a book signing, tell everyone about it! Help the bookstore spread the word. It’s your book, and nobody can talk about it better than you can!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The World Beyond Amazon: An Indy Bookseller's Perspective for Authors

Therese & Morgan say: In April 2013 we interviewed our favorite independent bookseller, Debbie Burke owner of Jan's Paperbacks. That interview turned into two posts on POP marketing and how authors can better work with indy booksellers. (You can find those posts here and here.) Since we last chatted with Debbie, she has been BUSY! So, of course, we asked her to fill us in on the things she has learned over the past year. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing your insights and wisdom.

Debbie Burke says:  I know that Amazon is good for selling books, but is it good for books [the publishing industry] and authors? 

I have learned a lot of things since I was asked to do this blog the first time so we thought it was time for another post to pass on the things I have learned.  I had the opportunity to go to ABA Winter Institute in January.  Booksellers' School, what could be better?  Here is a summary of some of the things I’ve learned.

There are many ways to get your book reviewed, besides Amazon. Kirkus Reviews will review your book for a nominal fee.  A professional unbiased review can be a HUGE help in selling your book to readers and in getting bookstores to stock your book.  Kirkus also offers editing and other services and the price is based on what you need done. 

Kobo does a great job of getting the book onto ereaders.  Did you know Kobo is the biggest purveyor of e-books in the world?  That’s right, Kobo, not Amazon.  Kobo ereaders are in more countries than all e-reading companies put together.  Books in English have long been big business in countries where English is not the first language.  I sell a lot of my Kobo E-readers to customers who are taking them home to whatever country they live in. They can download ebooks without waiting for foreign rights and all the other business transactions that have to happen for the latest and greatest print books to come to them.  You can also pay to have your books translated but I know a lot of people use books to improve their English.  Books in the English language have been big business for far longer than there have been e-readers. Through Kobo, self and indy pubbed authors now have access to international readers.

The best thing about Kobo, beyond their reach to readers around the world, is their dedication to Independent Bookstores.  They stepped up and said hey, this is a partnership made in heaven.  Well, maybe they weren’t that sappy, but the result is a true partnership.  Their commitment to helping indie and self-published authors, and their willingness to work with Independent Bookstores, this is how publishing should be, everyone working together to get the printed word into the hands of the readers.

Amazon loves exclusives and secrecy; did you know there are alternatives to publishing your book? I learned of a new option for print books.  Createspace is no longer the only option.

Ingram Spark was launched last year, a version of Lightning Source created for Indie Authors, where Lightning Source was created for publishers now it takes care of everyone in one easy to use package.  Spark provides physical and digital content management with print-on-demand and e-book technology in the same interface.  For $49, plus an annual access fee of $12, authors are able to set up their title and have access to Ingram’s print and e-book distribution services.  Self-publishers have a number of options, including creating their own branding and setting a returnable status as well as wholesale discounts. 

There is a lot more I could say about Kirkus, Spark and Kobo, but go check it out.

What self-published authors need the most is a marketing plan.  
I know you thought you could just write a book, I thought I could just buy a bookstore and read as much as I wanted.  We were both wrong.   There is marketing and distribution and advertising and networking and on and on and on.  Even if you are traditionally published you still have to do all of the above, the publisher might give you some materials but you still have to do the legwork.

So look around, find the alternatives, Amazon has made the US believe that there is one ereader, one ebook, one source for self-published authors.  They have done an amazing job of making everyone believe these things.  What, and who is best for you and your book.  Independent Bookstores will be more willing to work with you if are not on the Amazon Train.  We will help you distribute, we will hand sell your books, we will hold book signings for you and we can give you shelf space in our stores, with shelf talkers.  In my store we also have a featured author table and we rotate all the local books, two weeks of your book(s) spotlighted.  We will put free ads in our newsletter.  We have an author of the month in our newsletter and best of all, if your books are on Kobo, Kobo will offer your book for free with the code from our store.
Morgan says: Because Kobo processes their free read coupons as part of the checkout / purchasing process on their site, Kobo free reads register as a sale which helps your book's sales numbers. For more information on Kobo Writing Life, check out this article and video: Maximizing Your Sales at Kobo by Mark Lefebvre (Director of Kobo Writing Life & Author Relations.)

So try the pros and cons list.

What does Amazon do for you and compare that list to what your local Indie bookseller and Kobo do for you?

About the Author:

Debbie Burke is the owner of Jan's Paperbacks in Aloha, OR. She was the RT Book Reviews Magazine Bookseller of the Year in 2012. Debbie continues to be an ardent supporter and advocate for authors and independent booksellers. 

You can purchase print books, Kobo eBooks, and Kobo devices on her Jan's Paperbacks website. You can also buy a signed copy of our book from Debbie. Just state that you want a signed copy in the order notes on her site.

 NEVER complain or blame the store if you don’t have good sales. Smile about it. Make a joke. Tell them you’ve done worse. Offer to try again sometime. But nobody likes a complainer. If you gripe about it, you’re not likely to get invited back.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Recent Adventures at Jessica Morrell's "Making It In Changing Times" Writer's Conference & NIWA Symposium

We've been BUSY!! Since our book launch in September and October, we've had at least one book signing and / or workshop per month. Needless to say, we are looking forward to taking a break and refocusing on our novels....we are writers, after all, first and foremost.

In January, we participated in Jessica Morrell's 'Making It In Changing Times' conference. In February, we co-presented a special edition of our 'Push, Pull, POP: Seamless Self Promotion' workshop with Delilah Marvelle at the NIWA (Northwest Independent Writer's Association) Symposium.

Both events were extremely successful. It is always fun to engage our audience and help them with their marketing. Our courses are designed to be interactive. By utilizing case studies for fictional authors and books, participants take on the role of marketing consultants and work in teams to design Push, Pull, and POP marketing for their case study clients.

Here's why workshops are a great marketing tool for our nonfiction book:

  • It fits our platform of Marketing Myth Busting and creates an opportunity for free and open information sharing.
  • We can engage our audience directly and provide a positive customer experience. We often start our session with a handful of skeptics. By the end of the workshop, we have a roomful of fans.
  • We get to help our audience by providing personal advice and suggestions.
  • People can buy our books before, during, and after our presentation. <Jessica Morrell made sure that print copies of our books were available for sale.>
The day we were at NIWA, there wasn't a formal book sale. BUT members of our audience pulled out their e-readers, smart phones, and laptops to purchase and download our books on the spot. How do we know that they bought our ebook? They told us! And we were able to personally thank them for their purchase. One attendee even told us that she bought both the print and ebook versions.

Check our Endorsements page for what others are saying about our book and message.

Questions to Ponder for Fiction & Nonfiction Authors & Small Business Owners:
  • Are there any topics you feel comfortable presenting as a workshop at a professional conference?
  • If nothing immediately jumps to mind, think outside of the box. 
    • Do you have a process for world building or character development? 
      • Morgan creates beautiful world building journals
      • Therese has a "Characters Arcs By The Stars" workshop that references basic astrology for the cast of characters and emotional journeys.
    • Maybe you have a useful technique for story plotting, cooking, knitting, grooming your pets.
    • Perhaps you are an accountant and have a great system for authors to track their expenses.
    • Maybe you are skilled at building networks through Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, etc.
      • Consider your professional networks to team up with complimentary topics or products.
  • Are there topics you feel comfortable presenting at a conference or symposium for your other interests? You could *conveniently* mention the fact that you have a published book <product>. :) 
Delilah Marvelle & Therese Patrick at NIWA. (Morgan took the picture.)

Take a camera. If you have a friend or family member along, have them take pictures. If not, ask someone at the store to do it for you. Then use the pictures on your blog, Facebook page, website, and newsletter. If someone else takes a good picture of you, give them a card and ask them to email it to you or post it on one of your social networking sites. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Balance Your Craft and Career

Therese and Morgan Say: Successful authors explain that they are constantly working to improve their craft. We've met famous authors who will attend writer conferences but will send friends or family members into workshops to take notes. This is a courtesy on the part of the author to neither disrupt the workshop nor fluster the presenter while the author continues to improve his/her craft as a storyteller.
Morgan is presenting a workshop on "World Building On The Run" and it's an awesome workshop and Morgan is a stellar presenter. However, she's also a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse Series so if Charlaine Harris was in the room it would affect Morgan's concentration.

Therese is co-coordinating this Craft Your Story And Career mini-conference with the prolific Inspirational Romance Novelist Terri Reed. The one-day conference is being held at a local college where the Rose City Romance Writers meet monthly. All rooms are already set up with tables, chairs, and offer full A/V equipment at no additional cost. This is a tight budget conference where the bulk of the cost is being paid directly to the presenters who are all local to Portland, Oregon.

Here's the primary message about sharing information about this mini-conference. It's a message we haven't stressed on this blog - but it's a primary one for any professional author to remember. All Of These Presenters: from Best-Selling Author Kristina McMorris to Exceptional Writer & Editor Jessica Morrell, and all the other professionals from NSA to Google+, ARE part of Our Local Professional Networks. 

Revisit the Guest Post by Marci Nault on August 23, 2013 and the event she was able to create with Her Local Professional Network. 

Network, Network, Network, as your Professional Author Persona. When you do it well on the local level, you can also build personal relationships and long lasting friendships.

Make sure your business cards have the book title on them. Have you ever looked at a business card and asked yourself, “who the heck is this person?” You want people to associate the card with you and your books. I actually have different cards depending on whether the event focuses on my technical books or my children’s books. The cards have the book cover right on them. Since I have a recognizable persona, I have my photo on the cards, too.