Friday, November 20, 2015

We're On Holiday Hiatus!



We'll be back in January with new and fabulous content. In the mean time, check out our Notable Posts Page and feel free to explore our recent two-part series with Gerry Walker.












Friday, November 6, 2015

Adventures with Shameless Self-Promotion by Gerry Walker

Morgan says: When Gerry Walker launched his second self-pub book, due to the timing (specifically, he was running ahead of schedule) he decided to do a two-stage launch. In this second installment of G's adventures, we'll see how placing himself in a high traffic area at a conference and executing a 'soft launch / pre-launch' helped to broaden the reach (exposure) of his book. Thanks, again, G for sharing your experiences!

Gerry Walker says: 
The following is merely an account of my marketing experience thus far pertaining to my new novel. The experience has just begun, but here’s what’s happened so far.

At the time of this post’s creation, my novel, OOGA BOOGA, had been on the market for nearly two months. This time out the gate, significant (non-)strategies were adopted that had not been utilized during the release of my first novel. Significant Marketing (Non-)strategies.

Yes, marketing. For some reason, to me it’s always been a four-letter word, and not one of the fun ones. “I’m an artist, and marketing just seems so slimy,” I would tell myself. But for an unknown, self-pub’d author, not marketing my book and my brand proved to be a big mistake the first time around. It’s actually a wonder my first book even got read.

With OOGA BOOGA, I decided to do things a bit differently. First, about three months before publication, I updated my email address with a signature that informs recipients of the novel’s release. I dusted off my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and started posting stuff. Just stuff – it really didn’t matter what. “Stuff” is after all what social media outlets mainly consist of, and somebody’s reading it – and sharing it. So I figured, why not join the party?

OOGA BOOGA (notice how many times I’ve already mentioned the title? Call me slimy if ya want…) has a kick-butt cover, so when I received it, I posted it on my blog and all of my outlets. Friends, and people I didn’t even know re-posted it over and over again. And the book hadn’t even reached its final edit phase. This was encouraging.

NOTE: let me tell you what I did wrong here. My Facebook account was initially set up to share my posts with “Friends Only”, which meant – unbeknownst to me – that whenever a friend shared something I posted, it would only go to people who were also my friends. The problem was corrected quickly, but dang. Don’t do that.

Next, I researched book conferences and found a popular one in Atlanta. Only problem was, it was literally occurring the next weekend. I had missed the registration period and therefore hadn’t signed up for it. But did that stop me? Nope. If I could grapple with social media, I could do anything. So I printed up a few hundred postcards with that lovely book cover graphic on them, logged onto Priceline, got myself a cheap plane ticket from NYC to ATL, and flew down to the conference.

Look who I bumped into...Ceelo Green!
Check out what he's holding in his hand!
I was careful to be seen, but not to step onto the official conference grounds. Didn’t want to get kicked out. But I guess my faux-hawk and bright slacks stood out, because conference attendees – including many bestselling authors – approached me. All I did was sit in the hotel lobby, smile, and give a postcard to anyone who looked literate. While doing so, I also struck up cool conversations with great people who even posed with me and my postcard (“Instagram, yo!”); people like Walter Mosley, Eric Jerome Dickey, Luther Campbell and Ceelo Green.
Here’s another thing - though my book wouldn’t be available to purchase for another three weeks, I released it FOR FREE on my website. I mean, why not? All I asked is that anyone who downloaded it, tell others about it. Some will and some won’t, but something’s happening, because OOGA BOOGA is selling better than Pretty People Are Highly Flammable did in its first two months.

I made a lot of contacts and gained many readers at the conference whom I hope will turn into fans.

One thing that struck me there, was the power of the book club. Those (mostly) women commanded the whole event, enjoying the attendance of bestselling authors at their own private gatherings, like teas, brunches and dinners. The authors obliged, simply… because they kinda had to. Book Clubbers are like their own mafia-like network. They’re intimately connected to each other across cities, states and countries, and as an author, if you piss off one, you could end up regretting it later. I loved that the actual stars of the event were the consumers. It gave me faith in the system again.

When I returned to New York, I reached out to bloggers, asking them to review the novel. Summer is admittedly not the best time to do this, as many of them are not accepting requests, but I will launch another campaign around December and see what happens. 

I’m also trying to come up with a promotion that will bring in more Amazon reviews. Maybe an autographed copy to the next five that come in?

That’s where I stand as of today’s writing. Not yet a marketing guru, but definitely a user of common sense and part-time risk taker. If you have hang-ups about marketing your book(s), don’t worry: you’re normal. But I invite you to check out and try out some of the easier techniques described in this post, and see if within 60 days you see increased sales.


You owe it to yourself – and you deserve it.


Gerry Walker is a Harlem writer. Catch him on Twitter @gerrywalkerInstagram: gerrywalker, Facebook: facebook.com/GerryWalkerAuthor, and GerryWalker.net.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Adventures with Self-Publishing by Gerry Walker

Morgan says: I am proud to say that Gerry Walker is my best friend. In fact, we've been best buds since the fourth grade! I witnessed his self-pub journey first hand from the sidelines. So when I asked him to share his story and his most recent adventures with launching his second book, he was kind enough to oblige. This post is the first part of a two part series on Gerry's self-publishing journey from creation to launch. Love you G!
Gerry Walker says:

On February 1st, 2011, I self-published my first novel - Pretty People Are Highly Flammable. It was one of the happiest days of my life, filled with gratitude and wild memories of the year leading up to it, transforming it from a screenplay to a novel, writing, editing, more editing –all while working a very demanding full-time job. It was time to celebrate, and I did.

Recently, my second self-published novel, OOGA BOOGA, was released. In the years since Pretty People Are Highly Flammable came out, I’ve learned a few things: how to write more efficiently, how to amplify my voice to take advantage of my storytelling uniqueness, and most importantly, how to be fearless. Aside from the creative, however, I also learned some things about self-publishing.

My first time out the gate, CreateSpace had recently changed its name from BookSurge and after extensive research, I decided that they were the route for me to take. I was a new writer and therefore knew next to nothing when it came to getting my stuff out to the public on my own. The salespeople and customer service staff at CreateSpace were always ready and willing to take my call, hold my hand and walk me through the entire process, from creating cover art, to obtaining an ISBN, to editing, and beyond. They knew stuff I didn’t. I felt safer.

Back then, they also offered what I now consider to be a good self-publishing package. The package that I chose no longer exists. It included two full-color cover art concepts (to which I could contribute), full interior design (with 3 or 4 basic font choices) and 3 rounds of edits. I chose to purchase my own ISBN elsewhere because I preferred to have my own company as the official “publisher” of the book, rather than CreateSpace. I also forwent paying for one of their editor-proofreaders (their option would have cost about $500) in favor of two of my own free-of-charge, grad school English majors. At the time, the ISBN cost me $100 and the package cost around $750. When all was done, after numerous send-backs and updates which were mostly my own fault, the total cost of self-publishing the present edition of PPAHF was $1,100.

Of course there have been – and will continue to be – CreateSpace debates regarding whether it is worth letting Amazon gulp up so much of your books’ profits. And in 2011, those debates were just becoming really hot. I was, however, a completely unknown author with very little book publishing business sense, no following, a huge publisher (that shall remain nameless – but that was nonetheless very cool to me) advising me to re-write half of my book in order to make it formulaic enough to sell, an even huger ego screaming back “Hell, no, it’s good enough!” and absolutely no desire to utilize social media (the devil, amen? LOL) to promote my stuff. So in my opinion, Amazon could have the money. I just needed to self-publish, and learn from that experience. Well, I did learn.

When the time came to publish OOGA BOOGA this summer, I called CreateSpace back up. But this time, I did a few things differently and ended up with a far superior product and a much higher level of satisfaction with the final result. Much of this admittedly had to do with the aforementioned growth that I had experienced as a novelist. For another example, when working on this title, I joined a writer’s circle. They showed/taught me so much invaluable information. I was very fortunate to find a group of fellow artists who weren’t showing up to hate or cast dark clouds, but rather to help make each other’s writing the best that it could possibly be. Much of their advice I took. Some, I didn’t. But henceforth, I will always join a circle as part of my process.

So back to what I did differently on the actual publishing end: this time around, I paid Createspace nothing. Don’t get me wrong: now that the book is selling, they’re getting their money. But I gave them nothing up front. And I am so happy that I didn’t.

While randomly surfing the interwebs for writing sites one afternoon, I came across Damonza.com, a company known for their amazing book cover art. I liked what I saw, and decided to pay them to create mine. While researching them, I learned that they also have a package (well, a few of them) that includes interior book design and cover art for both the electronic and paperback version of your book. It did not include any subsequent edits, which are $1 each. The package was about $800, paid half in the beginning and half upon the author’s approval of the final product.

I filled out an online questionnaire requesting a book synopsis, and asking how I wanted my cover to look. They suggested that I also mention the artwork of titles whose style I liked. I did. A week later, they emailed me three ideas. I was impressed by how well they had listened. After one more email to them, asking them to “mash up” a couple of their presented options, OOGA BOOGA’s cover was born. I love that cover, I won’t lie.

The interior was kinda a different story. It took longer because it really didn’t seem like my rep was listening to me at times. She did not read my full instructions, and I ended up paying a little extra for mistakes that she did not pick up on when I’d requested them fixed during our previous correspondence. Add to this the fact that sometimes I did not receive their emails to me – which delayed progress by as much as a week – and you’ll understand my frustration.

Bottom line though: Damonza does good work. It can’t be denied that their craftsmanship totally trumps that of the CreateSpace people of yore.

For this novel, I went all-out (“!”) and paid for a professional editor. Since I already had a writer’s circle that I trusted, I chose her proofreading (by-the-word) package, which cost $410. So all in all, OOGA BOOGA cost about $100 more to produce than Pretty People Are Highly Flammable. Keep in mind as well that the former is about 50 pages shorter than the latter, so perhaps it might’ve cost even more had they been equally-sized. I would gladly have paid it.

In another four years, there will be even more self-publishing options out there for us all to debate, and that’s exciting. There’s no doubt that, like the music world before it, the literary community is quickly becoming savvy to the power of the self-ing, if only because of the sheer desire of the public for more. More, more, more content. They’re a voracious bunch, those readers. With the quality of writing now on par with that of the big houses, the sky is the limit for all authors who do the research – and the work.

Gerry Walker is a Harlem writer. Catch him on Twitter @gerrywalker, Instagram: gerrywalker, Facebook: facebook.com/GerryWalkerAuthor, and GerryWalker.net.


Friday, October 9, 2015

PUSH & PULL

FieldReport: Bookstore Display at Houston (IAH) Airport


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Hey y'all!  It's Morgan reporting from super rainy and humid Nashville, TN.  If you follow my personal blog (Morgan's Mix Tape), then you know that my marketing day job requires a significant amount of business travel.  Yesterday, while traveling from Portland, OR (PDX) to Nashville, TN (BNA), I connected through Houston, TX (IAH).

Of course the bookstore on my landing terminal caught my eye.  Yup - I'm a sucker for a bookstore!  Show me a writer who doesn't love bookstores and I'll show you a freak of nature.  Ha!

Airport bookstores are strange beasts.  Their core audience is the male, business traveler.  Their secondary audience is the female, business traveler.  A third audience is the traveling family.  For this reason, they tend to have a large nonfiction section focused on business best practices and self help.  Their fiction selections lean towards best sellers with a focus on thrillers, literary fiction, romance, and some adventure / science fiction.  There are also loads of books with military themes and a small kids section.

So, imagine my surprise to see so much of the in-store marketing real estate dedicated to the 50 Shades series.  Note: This display was one of only two large table layouts in the store.  More 50 Shades books were on the shelves. [SEE MORE HERE]

FieldReport: Ride the Wave - PULL Marketing

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


In May, we published two Finer Points Friday 're-posts' on Intentional Marketing (see our Notable Posts tab for direct links):
Morgan says: In my many travels across the country and around the world, I am always on the look out for examples of marketing at work....yes, I'm a marketing geek, I know.  Last Wednesday I featured pictures from a bookstore at IAH airport in Houston, TX.  In that same bookstore, I found an excellent example of intentional marketing at work.  

Notice in the picture below how 
Sylvia Day's Bared to You is shelved next to E. L. James 50 Shades Series.  Ms. Day's book was originally self-published with a different cover,  however when the Penguin Group acquired and reissued Bared to You, they changed the cover art.  Since Bared to You's story line is similar to the 50 Shades Series, why not 'ride the wave' and produce a similar cover?   This tactic is one form of 'suggestive selling.'  Pictured below is the in-store version of the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any number of other websites.

In this instance, it is the store's merchandising team grouping similar products together in the hopes of boosting overall sales.   Having a similar cover subliminally validates (correctly or incorrectly) at first glance that the reader is purchasing more of what they already like, but from a different author.  The 'different author' part is expressed through the use of a warm color palette choice (dove gray + gold & black accents), instead of the cool colors (steel gray + midnight blue & white accents) used by the 50 Shades Series covers. [SEE MORE HERE!]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

So, you've been told by any number of folks: "You gotta have a website."  But no one has bothered to tell you what your website should contain.  In today's workshop we will provide some pointers on basic web content for both pre-published and published authors.  (Note: We are providing recommendations.  It's your website.  You can add or delete content at your discretion.)

With regards to web content, we looked at several author websites and paid special attention to their navigation tabs (actual content pages).

Basic Web Content for PRE-Published Authors:
1.                  Home Page - This page is your landing page and home base for your website.  While the other pages can be more static, your home page should always contain the most up-to-date information.
2.                  Author Bio / About Me Page: Here is where you provide some background information about your author PERSONA.  Content can include: why you write a specific genre, what inspires you, quirky facts, etc.  Whatever you put on this page should provide some peek at your voice / writing style.
3.                  Contact: Either as a separate web page / tab on your navigation bar or prominently displayed on your home page, give interested parties a means to contact you.  Here is where you put your links to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. in addition to your email address.
4.                  Something About Your Books: Give your future readers a peek at what you are writing, BUT don't give away your plot - don't give unscrupulous writers a jump on your potential best seller idea!  We also recommend that you do NOT post mock covers of your books....readers always seem to miss the fact that the book isn't published.  They will head to the store only to be frustrated when they can't buy your books.
Here are some examples of how pre-published authors have structured their websites:
[SEE MORE HERE!]

 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Learning From Others & Building Buzz


Wednesday, September 19, 2012
For this week's field trip, we would like for you to take another trip to your favorite bookstore and do the following:
1.           Browse your favorite section and randomly select a book from the shelf
2.           Note the author's name, book title, and publisher.  Read the back cover copy.
3.           Browse the same section, but this time look for the latest book from one of the top authors in that genre
4.           Note the author's name, book title, and publisher.  Read the back cover copy.
 When you return home (or as soon as you have access to a computer) research the following:

  • How is each author promoting their books online?
  • Go to each author’s website... is their website showcasing their latest book?
  • Were you able to find them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)?
  • Is their publisher doing any promotions for the book? If so, what?
  • Do they have any upcoming blog tours or book signings?
  • What are some things you like about their online marketing? 
  • What are some things that you didn't like about their online marketing?


Often, learning what NOT to do is just as important as following a GREAT example.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Morgan says: One of my favorite things about my local bookstore is the "staff picks" shelf.  In this area of the store, each employee has written a little shelf-hanger card that describes why they selected their choice book for this shelf.

Your assignment for this week is to talk with the staff of your favorite bookstore.  Specifically, I want you to find one of the people who added a book to the "employee recommended" shelf.  If the store you frequent doesn't have a specific area for staff selections, then ask one of the workers if they have a book recommendation.  (Most bookstores have staff members who are avid readers.  I am sure they will have a favorite book (or
 books) that you just HAVE to read.)

As you engage the bookstore employee, I want you to
 ask them one simple question Why do you like this book?
·                     Is it the setting?
·                     The characters?
·                     The suspense?
·                     The romance?
·                     The author's voice?
If you want to take your questioning one step further, ask them What made you pick up this book the first time you read it?
·                     Did a friend recommend the book to them?
·                     Did they read a review?
·                     Maybe they overhead a conversation about it?
·                     Did the cover art work or copy peak their interest?
·                     Maybe they heard good things about the author?

I'm sure you'll be surprised by a few (or all) of their answers.  Take a moment to think about how many people this one person has told about their favorite book(s).

How can you use this information to help your career?
Are there any marketing efforts for your books that would attract this reader?

If they are a member of your target audience, you may even consider giving them a copy of your book as a thank you for their time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Wednesday, it's Morgan with a few marketing campaign reflections and thoughts.  

I will admit that I am extremely fortunate to have book loving co-workers.  We often sip coffee and discuss the latest books we are reading in the hall and at each others desks.  Our president is even an avid reader and sometimes joins the discussion.  I share the books I collect from various writing conferences.  Our agreement is that if they liked one of the books they've borrowed, they have to post a review and / or tell others about the great book they just read.  But there are instances where they didn't like or finish a book they borrowed.  (Again, not every book is going to be every person's cup of tea.)

Word of mouth campaigns are funny things.  If the person talking about your book really liked it, positive promotion ensues.  If they hated your work, the opposite is true.  Malcolm Gladwell in his influential work
 The Tipping Point explores the elements and factors that can cause a message or product to go viral.  Mavens (the experts) chat with Connectors (the folks with a wide network of contacts in a variety of fields) and Salesmen (those among us who can sell ice in Antarctica).  The right message relayed to the right mix of people at the right time can cause the ripple effect needed for a best seller.

So how do you influence this process?  

KNOW and UNDERSTAND your audience.

Over the years, I've gotten a good feel for the different genres and writing styles my co-workers enjoy.  For one lady, the 'smut factor' (her words, not mine) must be high (two or more love scenes) for her to enjoy a romance novel.  Another lady enjoys YA Steampunk.  While yet another swoons over books that incorporate historical adventures.  Equipped with this knowledge, I can put my Maven skills to work by pointing each of them towards new and seasoned authors that write what they enjoy reading.  And guess what....once they've discovered an author they like, they want to read all the books that author has written! 
 

Of course they won't like 100% of my recommendations, but my hit rate dramatically improved the more we discussed their likes and dislikes.  Needless to say, we are in the early stages of planning a book club.  I will be sure to keep you posted on our progress.

For this week's field trip, I challenge you to chat with at least three new people you see regularly to find out if they read books often.  If their answer is 'yes,' then ask them to tell you about the types of books they like to read.  Keep it casual, don't turn the conversation into an inquisition.  I'm sure you'll be surprised by the information that book lovers are willing to share.  And who knows, you may even find some new readers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

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

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

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

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


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

Here are some bloggers I've met and / or follow on Twitter:
·                     Sara M. (urbanfantasyreader.blogspot.com)
·                     Sarah Wendell (smartbitchestrashybooks.com)
·                     Book Lovers Inc. (bookloversinc.com)

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

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Keen Eye & Fresh Perspective


Wednesday, August 29, 2012
It occurred to me (Morgan) this morning, that our last few posts have had a consistent theme of messaging with a heavy focus on the point-of-purchase (POP) arm of marketing.  When most people think of POP, they generally tend to focus on displays and signs...this line of thought made me think: What are the components of a well designed sign?  The reverse question also occurred to me: What constitutes a 'bad' sign design?  

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

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

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


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

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


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This week, I would like for you to take a moment to think about three popular brands:

·                     Office Max
·                     Staples
·                     Office Depot
What thoughts and images immediately come to mind?  Maybe your mind jumped to the toner or ink you need for your printer, plain tiled floors and fully stocked shelves, or helpful staff.

Take a look at their websites via the links provided.  Pretty standard stuff, here.  Exactly what you would expect from an office supply website: extensive navigation bars, a large promo ad of some sort, and sales or discounts highlighted.

Now, I would like for you to venture over to a new site I discovered: Poppin.

Poppin. also sells office supplies, but what's different? 
They took a fresh perspective on how to design and market their office supplies!

I just love to be surprised and refreshed.  And how refreshing it is to find a company that has taken something so mundane as 'office supply shopping' and raised it to a new level.  

Did you notice that you can shop for goods based on color?
<for some reason this fact makes me giggle like a school girl.>

Note: Businesses have brands and cultures.  Nonfiction authors, nonprofit organizations, and politicians have platforms.  Fiction authors have genres and PERSONAS.  Keeping this in mind, note how Poppin.'s "work happy" culture is present in all corners of their web presence.  (Check out their 'Meet Poppin', 'We Give Back', and 'Fun Stuff' links at the bottom of their web page.)

Your assignment for this week:
·                     Take a look at your website with a fresh perspective
·                     How can you incorporate your PERSONA into all corners of your marketing?
·                     Through your writing, are you taking a fresh perspective on an established genre?  Is this new spin adequately represented on your website and in your promotional materials?
            Don't be afraid to try something new and let your PERSONA shine through.       


Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Morgan here with another Wednesday workshop.  It is a scientifically proven fact that color has an affect on mood, hunger, and purchasing habits.....yup, purchasing habits.  I found this great post via a link Therese recently shot my way.  I tried to embed the post graphic, but the resolution is a little fuzzy.  If you are unable to read it here, check out this direct link to the infographic from Daily Infographic.  

I challenge you to try to think of ways to integrate the information below into your PERSONA & POP designs.

Hopefully, you can now understand why I love, love, love marketing!  

            It's so fascinating!     




Friday, August 28, 2015

Attracting Readers Part 2


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Field Trip#8 : Attention Grabbers

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


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

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

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

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


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


Friday, February 8, 2013

So, you finished your book and sold it - hooray!  With your release date in hand, you decide to do a blog tour as part of your marketing activities.  Still smiling with the afterglow of a sale, you pause and think, "How in the heck do I do a blog tour?"

In keeping with this month's theme of PULL marketing, today's workshop will focus on tips for designing a blog tour.


Tip #1: Know your readers.  Who are your readers?  Are they kite surfers, swimmers, and other water sports fanatics?  Do they quilt and / or knit?  Are they businessmen with an interest in international travel and thrilling adventures?  How old are they?  Where do they live?  Why would they buy your book?  Remember, you are trying to SELL your books by PULLing readers to your content.  Understand your target audience (readers) and then seek them out in their natural habit - which brings us to....

Tip #2: Seek out blogs that cater to your readers.  The common misconception about blog tours is that you have to hit as many blogs as you can in a relatively short period of time.  This notion is only partially true.  Yes, you want to connect with a variety of bloggers, BUT the blogs you choose should be blogs that attract YOUR readers.  It really is a quality over quantity decision.  One of our dear friends found herself posting on an erotica focused blog and she doesn't write erotica - in fact, she writes 'closed door', sweet romances - almost the exact opposite of erotica!  Yes, erotica readers read MORE than just erotica...but when you have precious little time, focusing your efforts by getting the most 'bang for your buck' <pun intended> is the best use of your time. :D

Tip #3: Spread the love. You don't have to hit 20 blogs in one week, marketing is a marathon - not a sprint, sprinkle your blog posts out over time - some before, some on the release day, and plenty after release.  In short: 1) Tell them (your readers) your book is coming, 2) Tell them your book is HERE (with buy links), 3) Remind them your book is released. 

Tip #4: Manage your time well - don't overextend yourself. Question: How many blogs constitute a blog tour?  Answer: What does your schedule permit?  Consider designing a blog tour that spans six months or an entire year.  It can be done, if you hit one or two blogs a month.  Have prepared posts written ahead of time to balance your blog tour demands with the time you spend writing your NEXT book.

Tip #5: Use your network. Talk with your writing friends to see which blogs they've toured.  What were their results?  Which bloggers are easy to work with?  Were they clear as to the content they wanted?  Were they able to tell you when your content would post?  Take heed of your network's advice, especially if they write similar books.

Tip #6: Visit the blogs, prior to dedicating your time and energy. Review how they present authors with introductions, pictures of them and their books, links to their website. Pull Marketing is the package and presentation of your book, while your persona engages your readers.  Is your persona and voice compatible with the blogger's voice and content?  Bloggers have an audience to attract and maintain, too.  Do you really want to be the author who submitted bawdy humor to a conservative, Christian blogger?

Tip #7: Pay it forward - Thank each blogger, touch base with them at conferences, send them chocolates, reTweet their posts, etc.  If you are nice and professional they will continue to promote you even after your blog tour is done - and you may be able to come back when your next book comes out.  Remember you are working with people who are passionate enough to blog.  People promote the people they like.  Nurture this relationship, as you would nurture any customer relationship.  In the end they are readers who buy books, too, and they have a ton of sway withtheir readers (who are also your potential readers).

If you are a pre-published author, start scoping out blogs for your future blog tour, now!  Follow them.  Load up your Google Reader with a variety of blogs - not just book blogs.  Chat with the bloggers at conferences, buy them a drink. 
Start building your blogger network, today.