Monday, June 15, 2009

Arming Yourself with the Marketing Basics

My Space, blogs, Yahoo loops, live chats, websites…

An author has an arsenal of options available to them—so choose your weapon.

The best advice I can give you is to do something you enjoy. If you’ve never been a blogger, don’t enjoy visiting and posting on other blogs, then don’t start a blog. If you don’t like a lot of email in your inbox, then posting to yahoo loops isn’t for you. The Internet is limitless in its reach, but it can also be overwhelming. Don’t try to do everything, but plan the best use of those marketing minutes. And if something isn’t working for you, move on. You can easily take the pleasure out of writing by trudging through promotion hell.

So starting with the basics

· A signature line – Every email you send is an opportunity to tell someone about your book. However, don’t overwhelm your contact. A simple signature line will include your name, website, and perhaps the title of your current release. If you don’t have a website, use your publisher’s website, but make the website link to your book buy page.

· Blogs – Blogs are free and easy to use, but the important aspect is to be consistent and be persistent. It takes time to build a readership.

· Websites – They should do more than look good. Most authors have a website, but are you using yours as a promotional tool? It’s nice to have photos, signing dates, release information and buy buttons. But your website can do more. Showcase your talents. This is a reader’s first taste of your work. Give them excerpts and give them a reason to return. One option would be to offer a free short story to anyone who signs a guestbook. Hold monthly contests. This is a great way to start building a mailing list. Also, update your page. New reviews, new releases, any news should be posted.

· My Space – A promotional juggernaut, but it doesn’t have to be a huge time drain. Check your page once a week, spend thirty minutes a week requesting friends and utilize the features. One of the things My Space can do is increase your presence in a Google or Yahoo search. But in order for it to work you need to post on other My Space pages and have “friends” post on yours. Some important things to think about when setting up your page. Use as many key words about your writing in your heading and in your content as you can. For example, if you write suspense, when someone does a My Space search for an author who writes suspense, you want your name to pop up. Suspense, author, romance, and any other word that helps distinguish your work—these are key words that need to be in your profile. If MySpace is your marketing tool, make sure it is working for you.

· Live chats – Many review sites have chat rooms and many publishers have chats. The Wild Rose Press holds a weekly chat in their website chat room on Tuesday nights at 9 pm ET. These are great places to meet readers. When hosting a live chat, be sure to let your author personality show through. If you write romantic comedy, you’ll want that light jovial tone to come across. This is a way to let readers get to know you the author.

· Yahoo loops – Do you start your own or work with what’s out there? Once again this boils down to time. Most review sites and publishers have Yahoo loops for promoting your books. However, I think one of the best solutions is combining forces. If you’re going to start a loop, ask a few fellow authors, writing in similar genres, to join you. Then you aren’t alone in keeping the loop active. (I also think this is a good idea for starting new blogs.)

· Twitter, Bebo, Facebook, the list is endless. These sites are very user friendly. These sites are also free. Like all public venues, it is important to make a strong professional page.

However you choose to market your work, be sure it reflects you as a writer. Think about whether you want hot, nearly naked men on your website if you write inspirational romance. When someone visits your website or other promotional spot, they should instantly recognize your brand. Branding helps a reader understand who you are as a writer and what they can expect from your books regardless of the genre.

Lisa Dawn

Marketing Director

The Wild Rose Press

White Rose Publishing


Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Lisa! I've been studying ways to market my books long before I ever sold the first one, but I still find myself experimenting with different types of promo. It can get overwhelming, but I have to agree, only use what works and feels comfortable for you.

Emma Lai said...

Great summary of promo tools available to us! Thanks!

M.Flagg said...

Thanks for the informative post, Lisa. I do find promo overwhelming. Facebook is an easy tool. Now if I could just get my blog looking the way I want it. The release of a first book is exciting enough without all these tools too master!

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great info, thanks Lisa!