I’ll save you some time — and put you to work!

Standard

This New Yorker article about publishing phenom John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) was tweeted as a way for authors to build audience, but let me save you some time: unless you’re an incurable hipster with your finger on the zeitgeist of emo teens (shorts and argyle socks? Puh-leeze…) it’s not worth the EIGHT pages throughout which the writer drools about Green. The guy has really just been himself, yet gone viral for his quirky, nerd-centric personality that includes many video blogs (vlogs, for those in the know).

Do you have time for all of that, or do you just want to sell books?

Rather than trying to create years of witty, silly vlog postings with your siblings, these steps may help:

1) this post is a GREAT resource, really a checklist, for authors marketing their own work.. because if you don’t it won’t sell. And it doesn’t have to be strictly self-published, trust me, even those with contracts from major publishers have to push their own books

2) Make sure your info is out there, including your Amazon Author page with bio, links to your website (don’t have one? contact me!) and more, then follow instructions on this blog post to get your work publicized by Amazon in other countries

3) consider some of the steps taken by this author to exploit his online presence and boost sales via Amazon, which included a give-away (requires some conversion to a compatible ebook format)

4) here’s a pretty comprehensive list of “to do” for marketing, but I’d focus on #7 (build your email list) and #22 (blog strategically) because both are directed at building audience and, well, we all have to get some sleep sometime!

5) here’s an out-of-the-box idea: consider what Brian Koppelman does on Vine, which he calls 6-second screenwriting lessons. Can you adapt your message to a series of simple, self-created messages that will build audience? I mean, Koppelman’s directives are so straightforward that you find yourself watching one after another, as if you’re getting your secret agent mission for the day (even for those who aren’t aspiring screenwriters). Vine is simple and easy to upload to (for everyone with an iPhone). Add a link to your website or book on your Vine profile and get going. Promote through social media. Because everyone has 6 seconds.

4) personal experience and this source will tell you that building email lists is of vital importance. For example, I’m promoting a book very similar to The Fault in Our Stars, but it’s nonfiction, called Derek’s Gift. Yes, it’s a true story of a teen boy diagnosed with cancer and his girlfriend, who battles cancer after he dies. It’s heart wrenching, particularly reading Derek’s actual diary entry of his last year of life, his senior year of high school. I’ve posted that on Wattpad we’ve reached out to Derek’s friends, teachers and school administrators to get the book into the hands of students — because the coauthor is a teacher who uses Derek’s diary and supplemental information to reach teens navigating the choppy waters of young adulthood: the highs and lows of love and loss. We use the author’s email list to send out updates, sell the book at personal appearances and are networking with grief and bereavement specialists.

So unless you can get a high profile New Yorker writer to gush about you in her own repressed emo-girl way, we all have some work to do!

Goodreads: so many opportunities, so little time

Standard

This spring has been full of challenges as my primary client published 3 new books (and republished one), and another client anticipates publication of his first novel just days from now. Where will I get the most bang for my publicity buck?

A true story very similar to The Fault in Our Stars.

A true story very similar to The Fault in Our Stars.

an imaginative telling of society adrift as a result of climate change

an imaginative telling of society adrift as a result of climate change

I will admit looking into Goodreads as a publicity resource on several occasions, but usually my ADD kicks in and I go after easier hits like newspaper articles instead. But consider this — with 20 million users (last year’s number) the potential is staggering. For the same reason, it’s intimidating. You hear that being too promotional could get you in trouble… and the process for proper usage can’t really be achieved in one hit. We all need a map to find this goldmine of readers, and here are a few directions:

This article helps you get established as a Goodreads contributor if you aren’t already, and tells how to get involved in groups. It suggests introducing yourself as an author and joining this group at a minimum.

This is Goodread’s own road map to getting an author page.

This author suggests doing give-aways on Goodreads to get people interested (every eyeball is important in this business!).

This slideshow provides a ton of data about the possibilities in marketing to Goodreads users: imagine 5,500 people interested in your book before it’s published? Wow! But note some of the data relies on investing in ads, which few part-time authors can afford (I haven’t looked at the cost of ads or sponsoring the newsletter, which is noted on one slide).

the power of including Goodreads in your book marketing plan

the power of including Goodreads in your book marketing plan

Well, I guess I have convinced myself that it’s time to buckle down and really give Goodreads some time and TLC. After all, I enjoy contributing and I love a challenge.

Why not Wattpad?

Standard

I’ve been intrigued by Wattpad for a few months.Yes, it’s been around long enough to gain millions of users and plan to go global … I’ve never claimed to be an early adapter!

It’s a (free) huge platform based in Toronto and has mainly younger readers (18-30). It’s also a very hot property, having just received $45 million in some sort of venture capital funding.

wattpad

I love the idea of readers taking control of the market by finding stories they want — from authors who’d never get published by traditional means — and basically just consuming vast quantities of literature without a middleman deciding what’s “good” or “worthy.” So I’m considering it as an option for my clients, both established and first-time authors, to get their stories out there.

This article is a good “explainer”
http://contently.com/strategist/2014/02/25/wattpad-romances-brands-with-fanfiction-marketing-opportunities/

This includes a few bulleted strategies for gaining an audience via wattpad: http://www.authorems.com/2012/wattpad-for-marketing/

Here’s a blog post that talks about ways established/traditional authors can cross-over to its digital platform and link to a site to buy finished books. It’s free, so worth trying in my opinion.
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/01/31/wattpad/

Wattpad is also a favorite of other well known authors in similar sci fi/fantasy genres like Margaret Attwood, although many people say it’s teen girls who make up the majority of readers.

The author quoted in this article talks strategies, like only posting complete books, posting the whole thing then taking some chapters out when it gains momentum (driving people to buy the book) and saying up front that it’s a first in a series.

http://www.lindsayburoker.com/book-marketing/can-posting-stories-on-wattpad-help-you-sell-books/

If you’re not JK Rowling, there’s work to be done

Standard

If your book received “withering reviews” that included an assessment like, “so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd” you’d never sell any copies, right?

Unfortunately, writers with gold-plated names like JK Rowling can overcome such a New York Times review (it was of one of her post-Harry Potter novels, “The Casual Vacancy”). According to this article it still sold more than 1.3 million copies and was the No. 1 best-selling hardcover fiction book of 2012.

Later, Rowling published “The Cuckoo’s Calling” under a male pen name (Robert Galbraith) and the book sold only modestly until she was unveiled as the true author. It had done about $50,000 in sales, prompting the NYTimes writer to comment:

What’s clear is that without the aura of celebrity, “The Cuckoos’ Calling” would have been just another work of debut crime fiction. Its author might have gotten a modest TV deal, and maybe another book contract, while working another job to make ends meet.

So, unless your name is JR Rowling and your readers aren’t looking too closely at the cover, there’s a lot of work to be done to get book sales rolling.

bookshelf will your book stand out from the others?

The behind-the-scenes work to create a platform prior to publishing your book is almost as much work as the writing itself.

This is a great, step-by-step guide to  publicity and marketing, including working with related blogs two months before publication and planning a “cover reveal.” Interestingly, it says little about sending out advance copies for reviews.

And if you’re querying agents, your online presence is important, according to this survey. So think about showcasing your expertise in your subject matter or providing evidence of an audience (yes, prior to publishing). It’s all about your platform, which is well-described in this blog post.

Market your work visually with Pintrest and Tumblr

Standard

Medium is a new website for sharing thoughts, akin to a TED talk without the video. This week they’re trumpeting the fact that author Walter Isaacson solicited feedback for an unfinished book on the site. It goes without saying that he has garnered a wider audience for that book already. Brilliant.

Oy vey, what’s a part-time writer to do? Keeping up with all of the newest portals to publicity is so time-consuming!

Yet if you carve out a little time each week to read up on Galleycat and your Twitter feed, you may be able to pick out one or two to pursue (yes, this is on top of blogging, feeding the cats, paying the bills, etc., etc.).

In fact, I was checking out Medium and found a great post about a two-month-old Tumblr blog, GoBookYourself.co that has exploded into the stratosphere. Like many new online vehicles, it’s image-based, yet is about books. Check it out: the concept is so simple. I’m still working on getting my client’s books in there.

the tumblr blog GoBookYourself.co is a visual way to make book recommendations

the tumblr blog GoBookYourself.co is a visual way to make book recommendations

Speaking of visual marketing methods, we know Pintrest is very popular — but were you aware that it’s second only to Facebook for driving click-throughs? And more than that, just hours ago data was released that shows 1/3 of women are on Pintrest. Of course you  know that women lead in book purchases. That’s simple math.

Of course big companies like Lowe’s have Pintrest boards. When they want to sell grills they post recipes and photos of shish-kabobs. Take a peek at ways they use the site and try to think of how you can expand your repertoire:

If you create a character who enjoys a good wine, why not pin images of wine, beautiful artistic labels and grapes on the vine with references to your character (“Sukey Jones would never drink before dinner, unless it was a light Reisling.”) and a link back to the site where your book is sold.This article has already expanded my knowledge of Pintrest exponentially. I’ve pinned images of my client’s Coast Guard rescue books and labeled them as Gifts for Men/Gifts for Sailors and Boaters and Inspirational People but I really haven’t spent a lot of time on the site. That’s going to change with this new knowledge.