Category Archives: Book Marketing

“Get Scrappy” with Book Marketing

Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small by Nick Westergaard is directly applicable to book marketing. What’s a smaller business than an author trying to sell his or her books? Often authors have a pretty good handle on talking to bookstores and libraries, getting appearances, holding signings, etc.. They may have varying degrees of success, but they at least know the concept well. However, they are often at a loss of how best to market their books online. Get Scrappy will not give you specific tactics on how to market your books online, but it will give you actionable steps about how-to clarify your overall strategy and goals in that effort.

Though all three of the book’s sections can be applied to book marketing, I happened to have my most “aha” moments while reading the first section: “Smart Steps You Can’t Skip.” It helps you get into a healthy mindset and think about the foundation of marketing and your goals; particularly, your brand’s goals. It then offers a way, using the classic, who, what, when, where, etc. to create your “marketing map,” helping you decide on which objective you should focus. If your objective is market research for writing your books, you can ask questions of your readers, having them vote on the next book cover or a subplot they’d like to see incorporated. Knowing why you’re using digital to market your book (objective) and knowing who you’re trying to reach (readers), will help you decide what to do to market your book.

The end of part one gives the basics of the current and most-used online marketing platforms. Nick purposely doesn’t explain how all of the available platforms work to reinforce his advice of avoiding being distracted by “shiny new things” As in other industries, there are always these shiny new things popping up to help you market your books. Chapter three helps you decide which shiny new thing to try and which to let go, giving you a framework for evaluating shiny new things that may pop up after Get Scrappy’s publication.

Part two provides advice to help you do more with less. As an author with a likely tiny marketing budgeting, doing more with less is essential. This naturally leads into part three which helps you decide how to do more with less by simplifying your efforts, including by connecting your online marketing to your offline.

Get Scrappy is more than just a book to read, it’s more of a marketing movement, a new way to approach marketing. It’s essentially a new way to think about marketing, including book marketing.

Source: Westergaard, Nick. Get Scrappy. (2016).American Management Association. New York.

(I received a free copy of Get Scrappy for review purposes.)

ERIK THERME: MYSTERY AUTHOR

Author photo (Erik Therme)Erik Therme has authored two mysteries: Mortom was originally self-published and then was acquired by Thomas & Mercer Publishing in 2015, and Resthaven was a 2016 Kindle Scout winner published through Kindle Press.

While Erik doesn’t use a formal marketing plan, he does keep organized: “I use a spreadsheet (of information) to make sure I don’t overlook anything when I release a new book. The spreadsheet contains everything from bloggers, promotional websites, to paid advertising opportunities.” His focus with marketing his first mystery, Mortom, was to build his fan base, which has helped him in marketing Resthaven. He said, “Now that I have a core group in place, they do a fantastic job of sharing my books with other readers, who then do the same. The great thing is that once you’ve hooked a reader with one book, they’re usually loyal to you for everything you write.”

eBook Cover (Mortom)Erik describes marketing as a necessary evil, but clarifies, “I’m OK with that.” He learned early on that even with a publisher, only big author names like Stephen King or John Grisham don’t need to extensively market their own work to be successful, but, Erik said, “Fortunately for me, I don’t mind the marketing process, as I view it as yet another way to be creative.” In fact, Erik has been surprised by how addictive book marketing has become for him. “After the release of Mortom, I spent the next six months doing nothing but promotion, and I neglected to do any new writing. The irony (as I’ve come to learn) is that the best marketing an author can do is to write more books, because each new book reaches new readers, which brings more fans into the fold. It’s definitely a challenge to find a balance between promoting and writing.”

Social media has been a big help to Erik in marketing his books, though he’s also done everything from hanging flyers on telephone poles, his least effective strategy, to handing out and leaving bookmarks at random places, “forgetting” copies in places like hotel lobbies when he travels, and donating copies to libraries through their return book slots. He describes Facebook as being “instrumental” in helping him market his books. He clarified, “That said, smart authors use Facebook to connect with people and develop relationships—not just as a platform to repeatedly shout BUY MY BOOK! That doesn’t work.” The least effective social media outlet for Erik has been Twitter, though he admits, “I struggle to share ‘quality’ content with my Tweets, and that could be part of the problem.”

eBook Cover (Resthaven)Erik has used paid promotional websites to advertise his books when they launched, with widely varying results. “It can often be a crap shoot, but it’s another good way to reach new readers. The most important thing is to set a budget, as fees can range anywhere from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars.”

When asked what advice he’d give to other authors starting or planning to soon start marketing their books, Erik said, “Connect with as many authors as you can. Most are friendly and generous with their time and advice, and many are happy to share your work with their own fans. Following authors on social media is also a great way to see how they promote their work, and many times I’ve discovered author events that I never knew existed. Lastly, reviews (in my opinion) are incredibly important to a book’s success. Mortom has been released for over a year, and I still work hard to find readers to review the book.” On writing in general, he shared, “A writer writes first and foremost because they love to write. Most of us aren’t in this for the money. But if you are serious about making a go of it, you have to treat your writing like a business to be successful.”

Learn more about Erik on his website, Facebook page, and via Twitter. Learn more about Mortom here and Resthaven here.

 

Erik’s books:

Mortom (Thomas & Mercer, 2015) is a “follow-the-clues” type mystery about a guy who receives a hidden inheritance.

Resthaven (Kindle Press, 2016), Kindle Scout winner, is a young adult mystery about a group of kids who have a scavenger hunt inside an abandoned retirement home.

Win “Get Scrappy” for Book Marketing

I’m trying something new and running a Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of Get Scrappy by Nick Westergaard. If you win, you also get a bookmark and sticker.

ScrappyWin

Get Scrappy is about “smarter digital marketing for businesses big and small.” As an author, you are a small business that needs to focus when it comes to marketing. Get Scrappy will help you. Among other things, it will teach you how to do more with less and think long term.

I know Nick from when I took his Social Media Marketing class while getting my MBA from the University of Iowa. I’ve also attended the last two Social Brand Forums held in the fall, which brings in top names from the digital marketing industry. He works with the biggest business from the Fortune 500 list down to the smallest, local entrepreneurs. I also enjoy his weekly podcast, On Brand.

Nick is a great, fun guy from the great state of Iowa. I have no reservations in recommending anything he produces, so…

ScrappyWin

Get Any Mentor You Want

C. Hope Clark
C. Hope Clark

Though I don’t recommend blindly copying what other authors are doing to market their books, because there is no one-size-fits-all, magic-bullet book marketing solution, and what works for one author or book, might not work for you or yours, I do recommend keeping updated on what other authors are doing and borrowing those ideas that make sense.

Mentors are important in almost everything we do, but most of us can’t afford to hire one, and those that we really admire are likely beyond our reach. (Could you imagine the answer if you contacted Stephen King and asked him to be your mentor?) Luckily, though, with today’s technology, you can be mentored (at least to a degree) by anyone you want. And you don’t need their permission, and they don’t even have to know they’re mentoring you.

Gabriela Pereira discusses this notion of a “virtual mentor” in her book, diyMFA. To apply it to finding a marketing mentor, simply find an author you admire, study their websites, subscribe to their newsletters, and follow them on all of their social media outlets. Try to choose mentors who have books similar to or at least in the same genre as yours. Choose someone who you view as being “successful” in marketing their books.

Don’t copy everything your chosen mentors do; simply watch what they do and harvest ideas that make sense for you and your book. Try some out and evaluate what you try so you can stop doing anything that doesn’t work for you.

Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn

Inspired by Gabriela, I have chosen two mentors who I view as more than marketing mentors for me, but more as lifestyle mentors. They are Joanna Penn and C. Hope Clark. Both of these authors have several successful fiction books and they are running successful businesses which also help authors. Joanna’s thrillers are published under J.F. Penn and her website, thecreativepenn.com, helps authors with all aspects of writing, including marketing. She has several courses, books, and other content for free download and sale. Hope has written several successful mysteries and she runs fundsforwriters.com, which helps authors earn an income from, in addition to marketing books, freelancing, crowdfunding, grants, and other income-generating activities involving writing.

Of course, I don’t want to be exactly like either of these women; I have to offer something unique. My model is writing historical fiction books and helping authors with book marketing, including the writing craft and editing insofar as this relates to the product part of book marketing. Watching what they do is helping to inspire me and is giving me ideas to tweak and use to promote myself and my own books.

Who would be your ideal mentor? Please share as a comment below.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: MISTY URBAN

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Misty Urban’s latest book is a short-story collection published by Snake Nation Press, A Lesson in Manners. These ten stories “offer a how-to manual for dealing with love, lies, loss, and loneliness.” Her other published book-length work is Monstrous Women in Middle English Romance, which won the D. Simon Evans Dissertation Prize for Medieval Studies and was published by Edwin Mellen Press in 2010.

The first time Misty thought about book marketing was with A Lesson in Manners’ publication; she created a marketing plan for the collection after completing Midwest Writing Center’s Book Marketing Workshop Series (led by yours truly). She said, “The class gave me a template for a marketing plan that encouraged me to develop a sense of how I wanted to present the book and brand myself as an author. Portions of the template prompted me to think about competing books and how mine compares, identify my ideal reader, and decide how and where I wanted to promote the book. The marketing plan gave me practical tools for tracking the financials, keeping a schedule, and collecting press clips. I would have figured all this out on my own eventually, through trial and error, but the guidance offered by the class was enormously helpful. Having a marketing plan helped me enjoy the publishing process and feel I was prepared for the next step.”

Because the medieval study was a “high-priced, highly specialized book” and she knew her target audience was small, she didn’t spend much time thinking about or marketing it. When A Lesson in Manners was picked up by Snake Nation for publication, she knew she would need to do more marketing to find the wider audience to which the collection appeals. “Signing up for the book marketing class was my first step, and it really made me plan in advance. I decided how I wanted to brand myself as an author, selected my platforms, decided which tools I would use, and learned about other marketing networks and resources I could participate in. I actually want people to read this book, so that’s motivating.”

Misty said she ended up enjoying marketing more than she thought she would. “I thought at first ‘marketing’ meant ‘trying to get someone to buy something,’ and I felt really uncomfortable about having to get in people’s faces and beg them to buy my book. But then I decided to think about marketing as a process of visibility. I get my book out there, on the website, on the shelf, and then let the reader decide if it’s something they want to buy. It’s a short-story collection from a tiny press, so let’s face it, I do not expect great sales. But if my book means something to the people who read it—if it gets talked about, passed around, maybe taught in a class or two—that, to my mind, is the pinnacle of success. What I’m really interested in is seeing a community of readers grow around the book, seeing how people respond to it. That’s the real payoff for the marketing time spent.”

When asked what has surprised her most about the book marketing process, Misty said, “I think the biggest hurdle I overcame was getting the right mindset. I feel much more at ease when marketing is an outgrowth of my larger participation in a literary community: talking to readers, talking to authors, networking, teaching, holding and attending events. I’m a writing teacher (composition and creative writing), and I run the writing center at the local community college, and I also participate in a local community writer’s group. As a teacher I get invited to run workshops and do classroom talks, so I feel like my larger contribution is as a teacher and literary crusader and then, by the way, here’s my book. I don’t like to sit behind a table and try to answer the question of ‘why your book, and not the book of the person sitting next to you, or a nice steak dinner?’ Um—because it’s my book? Only I can tell those stories? But if it’s medium-rare, and there will be wine, then honestly? Maybe the steak. Having the marketing part be one piece of my larger participation in a literary community takes away much of the humiliation and aversion I feel about self-promotion.”

Misty has learned the value of having professionally printed promotional materials, like bookmarks, to give away. She’s enjoyed more interactive personal appearances like readings, question/answer sessions, craft talks, or discussions about writing and publishing. When she has a table, she fills it with things that would appeal to those who don’t buy her book at that event. “I printed up acquaintance cards and flirtation cards, old-fashioned calling cards that people can take with them, along with my business card. I have handouts on how to do a formal place setting, a riff on the etiquette theme. Lately, because I like to feed people, I’ve been bringing snacks ‘developed’ by different characters. At my book launch party, I had a table of displays and a table of prizes inspired by the book. It’s a way to give people a feel for the book when there’s not a narrative to summarize.”

By far, the most successful marketing tool Misty has used is her website. She said, “Years ago I bought my own domain and paid for a website hosting service so I could have e-mail as well as full control over design and functionality. I wanted a professional online presence to help collect and describe my work as a scholar, teacher, and short-story author, to distinguish me from the other Misty Urbans floating around the world. (There are more of us!) I’ve switched to WordPress as my CMS, because it’s free and flexible, easy to update, and it comes with built-in tools to handle things like comments and subscriptions. I don’t have a huge following, but when you Google ‘Misty Urban,’ my site is the first link that comes up. So that’s useful for people who are gathering information or following along from home.”

Misty has used a mixture of learning from other authors’ experiences as well as getting creative on her own to expand her marketing toolbox. “When Manners came out, I sent out the book for review to a few places, and I’m lucky that the response so far has been welcoming. I was warned in advance that sending out cold copies is a waste of time, so instead I just chose to send free copies as gifts to the writers who have most helped or influenced me. If they want to give me a blurb or review, great, but I mostly wanted to share my pride in my book. I’ve also been told not to read Amazon or Goodreads reviews, ever, but I ignored that advice immediately. My reviews are coming from people who read with care and honesty and interest, and their thoughts mean a lot to me.

“I’m also trying two new tactics that were my own brainstorm. I recorded audio of certain stories and put those up on my website as samplers. And I’m currently hosting a contest for readers to write their own story inspired by the book. A couple of professional publicists who heard about this didn’t think it was great as a marketing strategy—too much time for too little return, they said—but for me, and my hopes to network with other writers and participate in a writing community, it’s perfect. I love hearing other people’s work and I already have a few entries. I might come up with more such reader-interactive activities and contests in the future—quizzes, games, whatever.”

Other than bookmarks, postcards, business cards, and other promotional items, Misty hasn’t used any paid advertising but said she might consider Facebook post boosts, Goodreads ads, or other paid advertising in the future. At this point though, she doesn’t think paid advertising would net a great enough return given where A Lesson in Manners is currently distributed. For social media, Misty uses Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest. She also has a LinkedIn profile.

I asked Misty what advice she had about selling and marketing books for authors who just completed a first book or are about to be published. She said, “Have a marketing plan! It’s so essential to get things organized from the beginning. Spend the time thinking about what how you want to brand yourself—what kind of presence you want to have as an author? What kind of publicity do you want to do? The very best thing the book marketing workshop taught me was to play to your strengths, make sure you’re having fun, and don’t do anything you don’t want to do. My own advice is to be strategic about the methods you employ. You really do have to budget your time. Maintaining websites, being active on social media, subscribing to the blogs and reading the book marketing books will take up the mental space and energy you need for writing your next book. Have a plan, have a budget, set your limits, and retool as you go.”

On the writing life in general, Misty said, “Heaven knows the writing is agony—Getting the words on the page! Revising the words! Getting the words fit for publication!—exhilarating, but also agony. The book marketing shouldn’t be. Do try to have fun. Do what rewards your time and energy, sparks you with inspiration, makes you want to get busy writing. Connecting with readers is hugely satisfying—hugely!—and having somebody read and love my book validates my career, my life, my worth as a human being. But at the end of the day, being read or not being read won’t stop me from writing. It’s the writing I really love.”

Learn more about Misty at her website or Facebook page or about A Lesson in Manners on her Goodreads page.

Misty’s books:

A Lesson in Manners (Snake Nation Press, 2016), short story collection: Ten very different stories that offer a how-to manual for dealing with love, lies, loss, and loneliness.

Monstrous Women in Middle English Romance (Edwin Mellen Press, 2010), winner of the D. Simon Evans Dissertation Prize for Medieval Studies. A study of Melusine, Constance, Medea, and murderous women.

How to Write Your Book’s Elevator Pitch

So you have written a book. Congratulations! And now your publisher or book format person is asking for a blurb to go on the back of your book to hopefully entice people to read it. How in the world are you going to condense a 250-page (or more) manuscript down into just a couple of hundred words?

Or maybe you got that part figured out, but when someone asks you what your book is about, you watch their eyes glaze over as you begin to deliver your whole back-of-the-book synopsis. You realize if you could spit out the summary a sentence or two, you might be able to hold their attention better. But how do you do that?

Like creating a thick stew, I’ve discovered a method of boiling down the manuscript that has worked for me and others. I created a video laying it all out. Enjoy!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: DENNIS MAULSBY

Dennis MaulsbyDennis Maulsby is the author of numerous short-story and poetry pieces and books, including many that have won awards. His first book was a poetry collection he published in 2003 that won silver medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Branson Stars & Stripes organization; his latest is a poetry collection released in 2015 titled Near Death/Near Life.

Near Death/Near LifeDennis takes a highly organized approach to his marketing, using what he describes as a graphic approach. He provided instructions, “Draw a long line on a sheet of paper. The left end is the beginning date and the right end, the finish or perhaps infinity. Along this timeline, I mark my progress and goals to be achieved. Example: prior to the finish date for manuscripts, I note marketing things that need to be done in advance of publication, i.e. building up my social platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) so I can generate excitement among contacts/buyers as I reach significant goals and finally offer the book for sale. Other items along the timeline might be writing workshops, authors’ fairs, cultivating contacts (librarians, writers’ groups, news media folks, etc.). I mark when news releases should go out. Items on the timeline form a progression of events in the order they should occur. Items can be added or subtracted or slid forward or back as events change and Murphy’s Law demands.” He also submits to poetry and prose contest to help build his author’s resume to impress potential buyers.

Night of the PookaDennis’ attitude toward marketing hasn’t changed since publishing his first book in 2003; he still finds the most fun in research and writing. He said, “Promotion and marketing is also some fun but not as controllable as the writing, and therefore can be more unsettling.” When asked how he feels about book marketing, Dennis said, “I like to meet and work with people, whether individual buyers at an authors’ fair, performing at a reading, or working with media folks. Some of the personalities I have met have ended up as characters in my books. Everything is grist for the mill.”

Frozen ChosinThe great support he received from his publisher, Prolific Press, has surprised Dennis. “They sent out hundreds of news releases, got the book (print and e-book versions) posted on Amazon and all its international versions and with Barnes & Noble. They offered a drawing for a free book on Goodreads and did other promotional items.” The marketing Dennis found to work the best has been working with news media contacts, appearing at authors’ fairs and readings, using a website, enjoying word-of-mouth, and networking through writers’ groups and social media. He’s had the least luck with convincing libraries to carry his book; he said, “A few bought the poetry book, but not many.”

For those who’ve just completed their first book or have a book about to be published, Dennis advises not waiting for the book’s publication to start marketing. “Don’t wait for the book to be published. Build your media contacts, writers’ groups, social media, reading dates, etc. well in advance of publication.” On being a writer, Dennis said, “Know why you write. What drives you? If you write for friends and relatives or personal therapy, no need to dig deep into marketing. If you have a strong desire to be published, improve your craft, attend writers’ workshops (Iowa Summer Writing Festival is excellent), acquire marketing skills, and prepare a plan/timeline prior to publication.”

Learn more about Dennis at his website here and purchase his latest book on Amazon here.

Dennis’ books:

Free Fire Zone — (Traditionally published fiction) to be released by Prolific Press in the latter half of 2016. A book of linked short stories bound together by the main character, Rod Teigler. Teigler’s Vietnam War experiences, helped along by government experimentation, leave him with a severe personality disorder. Fear or anger turn the hero into something you don’t want to meet up with in broad daylight let alone in a dark alley.

Near Death/Near Life — (Traditionally published poetry released in 2015) The ninety-seven-page book strikes a meaningful and tender balance between the appreciation for life’s poignant moments, and the human experience of war, both as a construct and a memory.

Night of the Pooka — (First place short story award 2015 Montezuma All-Iowa Fiction Contest, also published in Mused Literary Magazine) Father Patrick Donahey has retired to the small town of Winterset, Iowa. He is thrust into a supernatural happening more consistent with the rocky hills of his native Ireland than the cornfields of the Midwest. A Celtic shape-shifter, a wraith has appeared among them. He must decide what action to take to protect his new flock. This is the first story in a book of linked short stories.

Frissons — (self-published poetry released in 2011) A chap-book of award-winning haiku and senryu. Original cover art by the author.

Remembering Willie, and all the others — (self-published poetry released in 2003) Winner of silver medal awards from the Military Writers Society of America (2005) and the Branson Stars & Stripes organization (2009).

Other:  Sixty-one poems published with forty percent winning awards. Seven short stories published with five winning awards.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: JEREMY STROZER, FLASH FICTION

threadsofwar1lowJeremy Strozer is the author of two unique short-story collections that take real events from 20th century wars and turns them into flash fiction pieces. For Volume 2 of Threads of The War launching this month, he’s also posting on Smashwords and Amazon and handing out coupon codes to fuel launch day.

When asked how he feels about book marketing, Jeremy said, “So far I’m still very much in the learning process, so I have not developed an opinion of it. I would prefer to focus on writing, but understand marketing is part of the self-publishing (and even traditional publishing) process, so I can’t deny it needs to be done.” Jeremy’s attitude toward marketing has changed since Threads of The War, Volume 1, was published in September, 2015, and he’s been surprised at the amount of time it takes to market his books. He said, “I’ve not found any new skills as a marketer yet, but I do tap into a lot of my writing and organizational skills to get better at it as I learn what’s needed.”

threadsofwaramazon2lowThe bulk of Jeremy’s book marketing has been trying to get as many people to read his book as possible in the hopes that they will spread the word. “At first I sent the book out to 100 people, asking them to share it if they liked it.  That worked, but there was no way to track what happened. A lot of people received free copies of my first book. I think that was a great way to launch initially, getting anyone to read it from the start. Now I am focusing on building a platform for my books, building a broad audience I can track. I am also posting pieces of my work on LinkedIn and Facebook, both as posts, and in forums on those sites, to increase my presence.”

He’s avoided paid advertising, but uses social media, joining groups on LinkedIn and Facebook related to fiction, military history, and war. He also posts some of the individual stories to social media, observing, “It’s worked well as my site readership went up over 900%. It’s still relatively low, but it’s growing from this. I write three stories a week, posting one on social media, leaving two for my books. In this way, I can produce at least three books a year with new, unread material.” This is a great strategy; hooking readers in, but not giving away everything.

When asked what advice he’d give to new authors about book marketing, Jeremy said, “Use social media more than you expect to. It’s amazing how you can grow your market by getting your stuff out there. Without it, it’s almost impossible.” He also had this to say about his experience so far being a published author, “I love my topic, the wealth of stories available to write, and that people are interested in my work. Being able to do this part-time is compelling me to move toward it full-time. The money is not there yet, and may never be, but the ability to do this is driving me, creating a powerful emotional push to live and work. I love how this makes me feel and recommend it to anyone seeking a purpose filled life!”

Jeremy’s books:

Threads of The War, Volume 1 – September 2015.

Threads of The War collects and shares personal narratives during real events across the span of The 20th Century’s War. Each story in this collection opens the door to a unique personal facet of war; exposing the reader to the facts, fictions, and fallacies of armed violence. Following each story, the reader is provided specific and revealing facts about the events narrated, offering both entertainment and education within the time it takes to read a blog-post.

Threads of The War, Volume 2 – March 2016.

Threads of The War, Volume II collects and shares personal narratives during real events across the span of The 20th Century’s War. Building off of the success of Volume I, Threads II takes us from the celebratory streets of Paris in the summer of 1914, under the coast of North Carolina in 1918, across the ocean to the evacuated beaches of northern France in 1940, and finally within the minds of both the liberated and the confined at camps in 1945.  Within short easily-readable, yet emotionally compelling, bursts Threads II continues opening the door to the personal facet of war; exposing the reader to the facts, fictions, and fallacies of armed violence.

The Content Rules for Book Marketing

Content Rules CoverI recently read the revised and updated version of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. As I’ve been known to do, I thought I’d share my thoughts about how some of the book’s advice could be applied to book marketing.

First, you may think of your book as content and wonder why you’d even want to use more content to market your book. There are several reasons (see page 23), including to attract new readers, raise awareness of your book, generate buzz about your book, share information, and make it easier for readers looking for your type of book to find it.

Using content to market your book can also build a sense of community, which might motivate your readers to tell others about you and/or your book. Which in the preceding list of what content can do for your book marketing will depend on what book marketing stage you are in. If you are launching a new title, generating buzz may be better, but if it’s been out for a while, sharing information and fostering word of mouth may benefit you more.

As I’ve encouraged you to do before, and other authors have encouraged you, Content Rules also advocates focusing on the customer; in your case, the reader. Think about how you might attract readers to you rather than pushing your book on them.

One practical idea you might use for book marketing is to use content to authentically polarize readers and get them arguing about a way to interpret your story, a character, or a metaphor contained. They will have to read the book to form an opinion.

As Content Rules‘ subtitle suggests, there are many options when it comes to creating content related to your book. If it’s a heavily researched book, use that research to create blog posts, or maybe even a non-fiction e-book (if the original book is fiction). Create a list of questions book clubs might use to discuss your book. Use parts of your book you didn’t end up using as bonus short stories. For Taming the Twisted, I created a mini-story about how my fictional family got to Camanche as a bonus and created a map overlay with street names in 1860 and now to orient people in the setting. Think outside of the normal, content box and get creative. Have you created unique content related to your book? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

Source: Chapman, C.C. & Handley, Ann. 2012. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NJ.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: TERESA LA BELLA, TRILOGY AUTHOR

headshotTeresa LaBella is preparing to release Belonging, the third book in herher romance trilogy that begins in New York City with characters Alison Clarke and Darien McKenna and continues in small town Iowa. Teresa tapped experience building strategic, fund development and marketing plans as a consultant to write a business plan that includes an executive summary, target market description, and a budget and marketing action plan.

Since her first book, Reservations, Teresa’s approach to marketing has changed. She said, “My chosen life change from full-time paid employee to self-employed writer and consultant has required a change in attitude, goals, and strategy toward marketing my books. I have to make money to pay the bills and to do that I must be as creative in selling myself as I am in telling the story.” When asked if her feelings about marketing have changed since Reservations, Teresa said, “Marketing takes time away from writing. But no marketing means no sales and no one reading the work that consumed all that creative energy and time. No matter the level of previous experience, there is no ‘easy button’ in marketing. The way forward requires professional commitment and a personal belief that persistence and a plan will pay off.”

Reservations
Reservations

Even with her marketing background, marketing books has been more difficult than Teresa had imagined. She’s found that the marketing climate for books is always changing; “The first time or two out are total experiments of trial and error. What works for one person may or may not work for someone else. A successful strategy today may not work tomorrow.” Teresa learns from her readers and loves getting the negative and positive feedback, which she incorporates into the product part of her book marketing. She also learns by talking to readers and other writers at book fairs, workshops, and conferences.

Teresa has sold the most books at personal appearances and book signings. She said, “I scoped out locations and venues that have hosted book signings and asked to schedule a date and time for my event, offered to supply in-house signage and promote their hospitality via my website and social media platforms, and asked if their business would reciprocate. I have bookmarks printed with a QR code that links back to my website and distribute those bookmarks at book fairs, workshops, conferences, and locations where romance readers might be – libraries, salons, and specialty stores. Giveaways are great for a limited time to create urgency – 24 hours, tops. A Memorial Day giveaway of my first book on Amazon resulted in 1,000 downloads and a brief spike in sales. But Amazon doesn’t let the author capture the email addresses of the readers so the long term benefit isn’t there.” The only paid advertising Teresa has used was a Fiver campaign on Twitter which produced little, if any, results, and a Facebook post boost that reached a targeted audience of over 1,200 women age 35-65.

Heartland_Cover_for_KindlejpgWhen asked about her social media strategy regarding her book marketing, Teresa said, “I have an author website that I update with blogs and news of publication release dates, book fairs and signings, and an author Facebook page. I cross-post most Facebook posts on Twitter. I’ve had the most success with Twitter as far as attracting followers. My business/marketing plan sets weekly post and blog post goals for my website, Facebook, and Twitter, and I belong to a couple of author based groups on Linked In. I plan to post promo videos on You Tube, Facebook, and my website.”

Teresa said that the best advice she can give and will take herself this year is to seek out more opportunities to guest blog on other author and reader websites and be more active with participating in groups and posting on Goodreads. “I also plan to create an author newsletter and schedule giveaways to encourage email list sign up on my website.”

For authors just completing their first book about to be published, Teresa offers this advice: “Whether you traditional or self-publish, you must market yourself and your books. I’ve read and heard from many disappointed authors who thought they didn’t have to worry about promotion and that publishers took care of marketing and sales. Wrong! Authors who self-publish and successfully market and sell books are attractive to traditional publishers because they have built and bring a fan base who will buy more books written by that author.” On the writing life in general, Teresa said, “We write because we must. Don’t let the daunting and baffling task of marketing your work prevent or discourage you from doing what you love.” Great advice; your definition of success as a writer isn’t required to be to sell millions of books. Though marketing is usually necessary to sell books, selling books isn’t a prerequisite to being a writer. Get the writing done now, and worry about marketing later.

Teresa’s books:

Reservations, published December 2013 self-published by LaBella Designs
Description: Sparks fly and desire ignites between reluctant lovers who got burned when they looked for everlasting love with the wrong partners.  Both Alison Clarke and Darien McKenna escaped into successful, high-profile careers – she as a self-employed business owner of a successful media consulting firm in Brooklyn and he as executive chef at an upscale restaurant in mid-town Manhattan.  Can chemistry and shared delight in food, wine, and film bridge the age gap and resolve mutual reservations about their longed for happily-ever-after?

Heartland, published January 2015 self-published by LaBella Designs
Description: Successful New York City power couple Darien McKenna and Ali Clarke McKenna had everything – except enough time for each other. Tragedy on the eve of letting go shatters their happily-ever-after. Truth and consequences confronted along an uncharted path to a place in Iowa called Harmony leads to new life and love in the second novel of the “New Life in Love” trilogy.

Belonging, scheduled for publication June 2016 by LaBella Designs
Description: Heartbroken, confused and unsure of the future she once had been so sure of, Chef Darien McKenna’s teenaged daughter Marisa abandons a planned culinary arts career and struggles to discover her true life path. Her journey leads to New Life in Love in a place of “Belonging.”

To learn more about Teresa and sign up for her mailing list, visit her website at www.storyteller30.com or like her Facebook page.