Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Z end

I tried to come up with something better, something marketing related. There are a couple of marketing terms I thought of (zapping, zoning, zipping) but none of them were really appropriate to author marketing.

And so you are stuck with this A to Z marketing challenge ending with a fiZZle.

Thanks for visiting, following, and for the wonderful posts you've shared this month.

It's been quite amazing.

Did you enjoy the A to Z Challenge? Did you survive? 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Youtube

I've had lots of people ask me about videos, and a lot of marketing advisors will say, "Get on Youtube". And I know we've all spent hours watching videos - videos that have gone viral - and we think, "Look at all those views! I want to be that popular!"

But here's the thing: Youtube only works for authors if you do it right. And many people don't do it right.

Here are the most common mistakes I see from youtube marketing *I'm talking about all author youtube videos whether it's an interview, a book trailer, a writer's workshop, video blog etc. :

  1. There is no goal of the video. If you are posting a book trailer for a book that is not yet represented and not yet published, why are you doing so? Are you trying to get an agent from this? Are you just sharing your book so that you can get other people to say nice, supportive things? Have a goal. 
  2. The video doesn't capture anything unique. The next step after having a goal is deciding on a video that will help realize that goal in a new, fresh way. Maybe I have followers but they aren't really engaged with me. And maybe I'm a funny person. Then creating a video that shows off my personality could be a good step. Like this video from author Mindy McGinnis (warning: you will laugh and may have to rewatch). 
  3. There is no drive to get people to view the video. Think about your blog. You may have thought it was an "If I build it they will come" situation, but it wasn't, was it? Same with videos. You have to build your videos views by inviting people to watch it. Invite them from Twitter, Facebook, your email contacts, your blog. Invite, invite, invite.
  4. The video does not have universal entertainment value.  Get feedback. Have people watch your video. Is it interesting? Is it funny? Is it only appealing to people who know you? Just like your book, you need to get some beta viewers.
  5. The video is too long. However long your video is, you probably should cut it in half. Most of the time, the joke or cool factor is exposed within the first 30 seconds and the next 3 minutes are BORING. Edit, edit, edit. Watch people view it, if possible. See when they stop laughing or look away or fidget. That's when your video should end.
  6. Writers spend too much time making videos. Make sure there is value in the time you spend on your video. Good videos take longer than a good blog post. Jackson Pearce has great videos (like this one) but you can see it took time to edit and put together. Always make sure you are not losing time that should be spent writing.
Even if a writer manages to avoid all those mistakes, the biggest problem with authors on youtube is that the time and energy spent far outweighs the expected results. Yes, videos can drive readers to your blog or book, but not as much as other things that you can do at far less cost of resources. Just keep that in mind when embarking on a video campaign.

Personally, I write so that I can hide my face. I'm camera shy.

What do you think about youtube? What do you use it for or what would you use it for?

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X-factor

Not the TV show (even though I have the logo over there) but the term. defines the x-factor as:
a hard-to-describe influence or quality; an important element with unknown consequences
Every so often, a book or a person or a marketing campaign shows up that has the x-factor. You can't put your finger on why or how, but suddenly that book or person or campaign is embraced in a way that could never have been predicted by anyone. Regardless of how you feel about the Twilight phenomenon, for example, you have to admit it has an x-factor quality.

While you can't create an x-factor if you don't just have it, I believe it's important to recognize that there will always be x-factors in our lives. You may have an amazing marketing plan and stellar book and still not achieve the success of another person. It can make you jealous and angry and just all around not happy. Believe me, I know.

But maybe you have the x-factor: maybe no matter what you do or don't do you will achieve incredible whatever.

In other words, there are some things we can't control. 

Let it go. Do what you can for your book. Do what you can for your campaign. Then let it go.

How have you encountered the x-factor in your life?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Winner

See how I did that? I had a contest last week and today I announce the winner. Because I'm smart like that.

Congratulations to... a Rafflecopter giveaway
Charlene Wilson you are the winner of a preorder of Crewel. Email your address to and I'll get it ordered for you.

Heather Marie you are the winner of a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Email me your email and I'll get you set up.

Congrats again and thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vacation

Everyone needs to take a break sometimes. Even when you're marketing. Or when you're God - he took the seventh day off. Or when you're in the middle of an A to Z Challenge.

Yep, today I'm on VACATION.

See you tomorrow.

Meanwhile, don't forget to enter for a chance to win a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card or a pre-order of the AWESOME Crewel by Gennifer Albin. The winner will be announced Thursday. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for User Profile

Let's talk about your user profile. Or for your links under your user profile, anyway. This is a recycled post but so completely important for bloggers. I think it's as pertinent now as it was when I began blogging.

A few short months ago when I began blogging I posted a comment on another person's blog and clicked to follow her.  The next day I returned to her blog and found her post was directed at me (without saying my name).  She informed her readers that she was super irritated with people who left comments but didn't have their own blog on their profile so she could follow back. I hung my head in embarrassment and quickly rectified the situation.

Through the last few weeks I have read comments that reveal I was not alone in this mistake. Others of you have made it.  This recent blogging campaign has shown me that others of you are doing it now. So this post will teach you how to make things right.

Please know that if you don't have your blog linked to your Google profile, I am not irritated or full of judgment. I simply want to help those who want to learn.

And from a marketing perspective, you should always have your link in your profile to make it easy for people to find you.

1. Open your blog.
2. Click on the "View My Complete Profile" under "About Me"
3. Select "Edit Profile"
4. By "Show My Blogs" hit "Select blogs to display"
5. Choose your options and save

Now when you follow someone or comment on another blog, anyone can click on your profile and see hyperlinks to your blog(s) under the heading My Blogs. (See below). Tip: Don't keep private blogs on this list. It's irritating to your followers to not know which blog they should follow.

I hope this was helpful and less pointed than the way I learned.

Are you linked up? How long did it take you to learn? How did you finally figure it out or were you always completely on top of it?

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Thesaurus

You thought I was going to say Twitter, didn't you? Yes, Twitter is a very good marketing tool for authors and you should certainly look into using it. But there are a lot of posts about Twitter and not so many about a marketer's best friend: a Thesaurus.

A lot of marketing is about having a clever, catchy phrase or keyword. If people can remember you/your book/your event/your whatever, then you have accomplished half your marketing goal.  I'm sure most of you writer types are used to using a thesaurus for your writing, but have you considered it for your marketing?

Do you use a Thesaurus? I have it on a quick link.

And don't forget to enter to win a $15 gift card from 
Barnes and Noble or a pre-order of Gennifer Albin's Crewel. Contest ends Wednesday.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Survey

Surveys are fun, interactive and a great tool to engage your readers. 
Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a $15 gift certificate from Barnes and Noble or a copy of Crewel when it is released on 10/16/12. Contest runs through next Wednesday. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rafflecopter

Remember earlier this month when I said to stay tuned for a contest? Well, here it is.

Win a pre-order of this book!
Rafflecopter is my personal favorite way to run a blog contest. It makes it easy to collect entries, require actions to be performed by each entrant, and then randomly picks a winner. You can even assign point values to each action. And it's all FREE.

Since I just finished an Advanced Reader Copy of Gennifer Albin's debut novel Crewel, and it was EXCELLENT, I decided that I would give her book as the prize. She had a ton of agents fighting over her and enough houses wanted her book that it went to auction. Yeah, this book is HOT. What's it about, you ask. Here's the blurb from Good Reads:

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

The book isn't released until October 16, 2012 so I have to pre-order it for the winner. I know, it's a long wait, but IT'S WORTH IT. That's how excited I am about this book. So enter lots. Now. (If you really want a taste of this novel now, go to Gen's author facebook page and read hit the "Welcome" icon where you can get a sneak peak at the prologue of Crewel.)

UPDATE: To sweeten the deal I have changed one of the prizes to a $15 GC to Barnes and Noble. I wouldn't want the people who've already read Crewel to be left out.

I will announce the winners next Thursday, April 26, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Q is for QR

QR codes stands for Quick Response codes. They are those funky little boxes on EVERYTHING these days that, if you take a pic of it with your smart phone, you are led directly to a website. They are the all the rage in the marketing world. You see them on mailers and billboards and bus shelter signs. Do you know what I'm talking about? There's a picture of one to the right.

Yeah, now you know what I'm talking about. Let me tell you what's cool about QR codes - they are an easy way to get people to your website without them having to type in the address.

And they aren't just for the big marketing people. You can easily get your own QR codes for FREE to put on your own marketing materials. You can put them on your business cards, bookmarks, postcards, t-shirts - anything - and whenever someone scans the box with their smart phone, they will be taken to your website, or wherever it is you want them to go. Let me clarify, your smart phone has to have a QR app, but lots of people have that app.

Here's a website I have used for QR codes. If you want to better manage your codes and track them you can purchase a plan for as little as $25 a month, but I doubt that any of us will really need that. When we get to that level, our publishers should be handling it for us, right?

Do you use QR codes? Do you have the app? Have you even seen QR codes?

P is for Promotion

Promoting yourself is hard. That's why I started this blog - so that I, or, we, rather, could practice promoting ourselves together. I haven't really encountered a need to actively work on my promotion seeing as how I don't have a book to send out to the world, but my amazingly talented critique partner, Kimberly Ann Miller, does.

This is Kimmy! Kimberly Ann Miller, I mean.
Remember how I said yesterday that you should always look for opportunity? When Kim got the deal to publish her book and began to ask me a few marketing questions, I thought, what a great opportunity to share the process with the blogosphere. I told her I'd love to give her some ideas and asked if she'd let me share here. She said yes! Welcome to another occasional series following Kim's book promotion from contract to launch.

Today is for introductions only, but I am very excited to give you my crit partner, Kim.

So Kimmy, tell us about your book and publishing deal: 
Triangles is a young adult contemporary fantasy. Here is the blurb from Spencer Hill’s website:

A cruise ship. A beautiful island. Two sexy guys. What could possibly go wrong?

In the Bermuda Triangle—a lot.

Hoping to leave behind the reminders of her crappy life--her father's death years ago, her mother's medical problems, and the loser who’s practically stalking her--seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor hops on a ship with her sister for a little distraction. When she wakes up in the Bermuda Triangle, she fears she's gone nuts for more than one reason: that loser’s suddenly claiming they're a happy couple... a hot guy is wrapping his arms around her and saying "Happy Anniversary"... and suddenly, she’s full of bruises, losing her hair, and getting IV medication. Autumn visits the ship's doctor, hoping for a pill or a shot to make the craziness go away. Instead, she's warned that these "alternate realities" could become permanent.

She just has to ask herself one question—how the hell is she going to get out of this mess?

I had an interesting journey leading me to Spencer Hill Press. I entered a query contest on Kate Kaynak’s blog, Disgruntled Bear, last October. She is an editor and author at Spencer Hill. She liked my query and invited me to send it in when they opened to submissions on December 1, 2011. I had it ready and sent it per their submission guidelines on that exact date. A few days later, Kate requested the full manuscript. On February 21, 2012, I received an email from Kate offering me publication! They have been fantastic to work with since day one. I have already spoken to three editors and a cover artist! I am thrilled to have such a great publisher behind Triangles.

Before you landed your deal with Spencer Hill, what social media were you using?
I had a Facebook page and was fooling around with Twitter. I also had read along the way that it was a good idea to have a website, so I set up a basic site using my internet service provider.

What advice has Spencer Hill given you? What have you done since signing?
Since it’s early in the process, we haven’t gotten too deep into marketing, but my editor told me we will be working on a comprehensive marketing plan soon. So far she has made some suggestions such as becoming more active on social media, joining Tumblr, and improving my website’s look and color. We also talked about the importance of a great cover and captivating jacket copy. She’s interested in hearing what your suggestions are and coordinating our marketing efforts!

Isn't that cool? Her editor is interested in hearing what I have to say!! This is very exciting to me, especially since I have known Triangles for awhile now and feel very close to its success (it's a GREAT story!). So I typed up a bunch of suggestions and the team is looking them over now. As Kim and Spencer Hill move forward, I will share with you our ideas (as I'm able) so make sure to check back often. 

Find Kimmy at:
Twitter: @KimberlyAnnNJ:!/KimberlyAnnNJ
Facebook: Kimberly Ann Miller:
Email: KAMillerWrites (at) aol (dot) com

Your turn, readers: what aspects of promotion do you find the most difficult? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

O is for Opportunity

So much of good marketing is just recognizing opportunities when they arise. Good recognition of opportunity requires you to be a bit self-centered about your viewpoint. How can this (or that or whatever) benefit me? 

Yeah, it doesn't sound so good, but it doesn't have to be mean or selfish. For example, if the coffee shop in your neighborhood starts doing open poetry nights, will they also let you read a book excerpt? You don't know unless you ask.

The difficult thing about opportunity is that it isn't like I can give you a list of them for you to seek out. They come and go in many forms and the ability to recognize them takes thought and creative thinking. And always being on the lookout.

I'll leave you with some of my favorite opportunity quotes:

"Opportunities? They are all around us?there is power lying latent everywhere waiting for the observant eye to discover it."
- Orison Swett Marden

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
- Thomas Edison

"It is not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such shape that when or if the opportunities come he is ready.” 
- Theodore Roosevelt

"Even when opportunity knocks, a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door."
- Anonymous

"Once an opportunity has passed, it cannot be caught."
- Anonymous

What opportunities are around you? Do you take them when you see them?

N is for Need

The best way to market anything is to create a product that fulfills a need. Generally, people don't know what it is that they need so you have to tell them.

Successful author marketing will tell consumers why they need your book or blog. That doesn't mean you specifically come out and say, "You need to read my book because blah blah blah." Think about the best advertisements. You have to drink a Coke to be All American. You have to buy an iPad to change the world. You have to eat at McDonald's because you love it. All of those address needs of consumers - they need to feel All American. They need to change the world. And so on.

The needs that are usually fulfilled through books are: Consumers need information or they need to be entertained. But we, as authors, can still pinpoint even more specific needs.

Why do you choose the books that you do to read? Because other people reviewed them and told you all the reasons you needed to read it. Because you saw a book trailer that told you why you needed to read it. Because you saw a display at Barnes and Noble that said "On the NY Times Bestseller List" and you felt like you needed to be up on the latest.

When you are deciding how to market your book or your blog, focus on the needs that your product could fulfill. The more specific you are the better. It's just like when you write your query and you tell agents why they should request your material. Tell readers why they should read your book. Why is it different than every other dystopian? Why is this romance the best of the century?

Even if you aren't yet published, it is never too early to start thinking about this.

Are you thinking about the needs your book fulfills? What about your blog or website? Do you address a need that readers are looking to fulfill?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A to Z Break/Blog Critique: Laura Diamond

In this series I give constructive feedback about the look and function of an author blog from a marketing perspective. As always, I rely on help from graphic designers Tom Barnes (my hubby) and Joe LaRue. To review the blog elements we look at or to submit your own blog for critique, go here.

It's only been a couple of weeks since we did our last critique, but it feels longer. I had to really stop and think about what I usually talk about. Then I clicked over to look at the Laura Diamond's fabulous blog,  Diamond - Lucid Dreamer, and I completely forgot all my critique points again. Why? Because she had a blog that drew me in. But I'm jumping ahead. Go check out her blog and meet below. 

I loved the colors of your blog, Laura. Immediately I was drawn in by the gorgeous gold that so wonderfully matches your header. The picture very much captures the fantasy feeling too. The lay out was easy to look at so after oohing and awing about the prettiness, I just started reading posts. That's what you want readers to do so you done good, Laura. Great job!

But there's always something that can be tweaked. And here's my two cents:
  • I wouldn't mind if your post area was just a little bit wider. The gold is beautiful, don't get me wrong, but  most people have bigger screens these days and you are missing out on prime real estate. I'd widen it just ever so slightly. Of course, if your header can't get any bigger without getting blocky, then never mind this suggestion.
  • Your blog title needs to be bigger. It's a great color, but not quite commanding enough. Also, I'm glad you have Diamond as part of your title, but it's not enough, in my opinion. If I didn't know your name was Laura Diamond, the title would mean nothing to me. Your title should scream your name - you are what people come to find, after all. I suggest considering putting Laura Diamond as part of your subtitle. At the very least, put your name big in the About Me section. You could change "About Me" to "About Laura Diamond".  This is actually what I have done since Barnes isn't part of my title.
  • I really like that green color with the gold, but you need one more punch color added to the scheme. This scheme shows some blue and orange punch colors you could add with the colors you already have.
  • I know it just happened, but you're a published author now! Get a link to purchase your book on your sidebar under your About Me as soon as possible. Always make it easy for people to buy your books. (I know you have a tab dedicated to your book, but some people will never leave the home page.)
  • I very much enjoyed your excerpt of Encounter. I don't know what it is, though. Is it a work in progress? Is it part of your upcoming book? Give us some info.
  • The only other tip I have is to watch your exclamation points. I admit, I had a hard time typing this sentence, because your ! seem to really be sincere. I'm sure I would/will have !!! when I am published, but you have them elsewhere. If you are really attached to them, don't get rid of them, just think very carefully every time you use them and decide if you really need the emphasis or not.
Sincerely, the rest is wonderful. You've been blogging for awhile and really know what you're doing. Great job, blogging pro. I'm happy to have you in my Google Reader. 

Any advice or comments for Laura? Don't you love her name? 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Market

Know your market.

When I - or anyone, for that matter - says "know your market", we mean that you need to know exactly who your book or product is FOR. Not just YA or MG but YA readers who like paranormal romance or MG boys who want potty humor and drawings.

The reason you need to know your market is because step #2 is to BE where your market is. My book is an MG for girls (mostly) ages 8-12 who like magic, friendship, and happy endings. This blog is not where I'm going to find those readers. Facebook is not where I'm going to find those readers. Researching where those kids hang out and get their reading recommendations from is crucial. I'm imagining that librarians, school events, and interactive websites are going to be top on the list of places that they are that I can also be (or my book can be, when I finally have a published book).

Being where your market is takes research and thinking outside the box. You may need to get your creative little head going to figure out how you can afford to be where you need to be, but you can totally do it - you wrote a book, after all. Well, you will have if you are at this stage of the game.

Know your market. Be where your market is. Any questions?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

L is for Launch launch and the launch of a new occasional series, that is.

I am very intrigued with the idea of how to put on a successful book launch, and in an attempt to gather info for one day when I have my own book launch (positive thinking!) I am starting a new occasional series of interviews with authors who have launched their own books. 

I am so thrilled to introduce my very first interview for this series - Fiauna Lund is an old friend from high school. Well, not old because that makes me feel elderly, but you get what I mean. She has always been such a sweet, funny, unbelievably supportive, creative soul and I was so happy to reconnect with her on Facebook - especially when I realized she was writing books! She is an inspiration to me, both as a writer and a mother. 

But enough of the intro, onto the fabulous interview:
Welcome, welcome, Fiauna! I'm so glad to have you!

Now tell us what have you written? 

Tell us about the book you launched. 
In the Twilight is a ‘tween fantasy-lite about a town with a centuries-old secret and one girl’s discovery that it is her duty to keep that secret safe. Fourteen-year-old Avril Holly lives in a world full of secrets. Not only is she half faery, sprouting wings at twilight, but suddenly she also has the power to read minds. When she is attacked walking home in her otherwise safe community, she finds she must learn to use her new power to keep her community safe and their faery heritage a secret. 

Who published your book? 
My book was published by Shady Hill Press, a small publisher located in Salt Lake City.

Did you have a marketing budget? 
The only marketing budget I had to stick with was what I could pull out of my own pocketbook.

When did you launch? 
The book launched in December of 2011, right before Christmas.

What did you do pre-launch? 
Pre-launch I used social media (blogs, blog tours, and Facebook) to make the public aware of the forth-coming book. I did a “radio” interview at a local studio that was released on the publisher’s website and blog. A friend of mine also put together a blog tour for a group of 20 debut authors. Right off the bat, In the Twilight was featured on those twenty blogs. That really helped me develop my community of authors for support. And, believe me, that support means a lot when your baby—oops, I mean book—launches.
Tell us a bit about the launch events. The launch was very low-key. In December, the week that the book was released, I held a book signing at a local mall book store. I handed out promotional items like wristbands and flyers to passers-by as well as pitched my book to anyone who dared to stop and listen. I also typed up a press release that the publisher used in a mail marketing campaign directed at book buyers and distributors. 

What surprised you about the whole process? 
I was surprised at how much I was required to do as far as marketing was concerned. I am a writer, not a salesperson. To say that once the book is published the real work begins may be cliché, but it’s true. And the marketing side of publishing really saps creative energy.

What worked? 
Books sell two ways: word of mouth and point of purchase. Get your books in the hands of people who will talk it up and you may sell books. But people won’t buy books they can’t find. Do whatever is within your power to get your book on store shelves. A good press release will help with that.

What would you do differently? 
Going forward I would like to find representation from a good agent. Bigger publishers have PR people to guide authors through the launch process and marketing. Unfortunately, no big publisher will look your way without proper representation.

What words of advice can you give us? 
Set your goals and have realistic expectations. You know your book better than anyone else—it’s your baby. I’ve been told that writers don’t make bestsellers, publishers do. Given that fact that annually about 170,000 books are published every year and only 2,000 of those will sell 50,000 copies, your chances of becoming a bestselling author are pretty slim. That doesn’t mean you are not a success. If your goal is to write a bestseller, get a reputable agent and get your book in the hands of the big publishers.
Beyond that, trust your gut. In order to sell your books, you must also be able to sell yourself. You can’t sell yourself (or much else) if you don’t feel right about what you’re doing or how you are going about doing it. I’ve wasted energy and time trying to market in ways that didn’t feel authentic, in ways that stopped me from being comfortable with myself. In the end, instead of selling more books, I only lost creative energy. So, I say, be confident. Stand tall. Avoid negativity. In writing your book, you’ve done something most other people only dream of. And that is success!

Thanks, Laura. You are awesome!

Aw, I'm blushing. Especially because I am not nearly as awesome as you. Thank you for edumacating us all, Fiauna! I hope you'll come back again soon!

You can purchase Fiauna's wonderful book, as I did, here. I haven't read it yet, I must confess, because my too be read pile is VERY TALL. It's about 2 down from the top though.

So what did you think about this new series? Would you like to see more book launch tales?

K is for Keywords

There is much info about keywords floating around on the internet. I often read about how important they are for bloggers, but sometimes the reasoning and the execution makes me chuckle a little. I figure it's worth a little chat.

Keywords, for the purpose of this discussion, are the words that internet searchers put in to find information. For example, if I wanted to look up information on eye doctors in Denver I would put the words "Denver" and "Eye Doctor" in the search bar.

This is important for bloggers or website owners because if you want someone to visit your site then marking your posts so that they will show up when people search is essential.

So how do you get keywords to show up in searches?
  1. Great blog post titles. Your titles are the number one place that search engines will look for keywords. Make sure they aren't obscure but say exactly what your post is about.
  2. Bolded or larger words used in your posts. Don't overuse them or the search engine bots get mad at you. But an occasional bold on important key phrases are a good way to attract the bots.
  3. Labels. Now here's where the execution doesn't work so well. Those labels that you can put on your posts in order to grab an audience are often given too much importance and are used too haphazardly. Make your labels short, concise and clear. 
Here's the thing about keywords: Just because you can draw someone to your site doesn't mean you should.  

Think about who your keywords will attract. I could label this post as "Things that make me chuckle" and maybe it will draw some people who search those terms, but do you think the people who search those terms want to find this post? No, they'll move on. And they won't benefit me at all. They won't become a follower and they won't buy my books (when I have them:).

Try to picture in your mind who your readers are - who you want them to be - and use keywords and labels that will attract them. I want author bloggers who are looking for marketing advice. So, for the most part, I should focus on using labels that will attract those people. Using other terms will only confuse readers, make my label cloud too cluttered, and attract people who will only stay on my page for a few seconds.

Do you think about keywords? Do you have any thoughts to add about your experiences with them?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Joint Ventures

Joint ventures in author marketing are hip and happening. They're also very effective.

I'm talking about the blogs, contests, and other marketing efforts that are taken on by more than one author. Here are some examples of these joint ventures:
The hosts who put on these websites, contests, and challenges have joined up with other bloggers and authors to make the event bigger than they could manage on their own. 

Joint ventures make sense. The work load is manageable and the exposure is farther reaching than a person can do on their own. You also have a team of marketers and a team of ideas. 

These joint ventures don't go without work, though. And other people are relying on you so the pressure can be on. But, especially if you have a book to sell, I recommend the efforts. Find a group of others that have a similar work and similar goals. 

Have you been a part of a joint venture? If not, will you do them at a later time?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Involved

I read an excellent post recently where social media strategist, Cindy Ratzlaff said about marketing and book promotion:
(I)f anyone tells you they’ll do it all for you, RUN. If the author is not involved personally, lending his voice and personality to social media, the desired effect will not be achieved. The whole point of social media is to shorten the distance between the passionate reader and the passionate writer. Social media marketing is the new book tour or bookstore reading. The author is the magic.
Those are some dang good words to remember.

Be involved. Be yourself. Be the magic.

Are you magic?

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Host

Customer service is an essential part of marketing. When you are a blogger, customer service comes into play when you respond to comments on your blog, thank followers for following, and the way you treat your guest bloggers.

It may seem obvious what steps a blogger should take to be a good host, but I have personally found this isn't always true.

Before I share my good host tips, I apologize to anyone who I haven't given these courtesies to when they have been on my blog.  I am only human, after all. And these are merely suggestions for everyone to think about when hosting guests - they may or may not always be practical or appropriate to implement.
  • Give your guest plenty of time to complete their post/interview.
  • Invite them to be as long or as short as they like.
  • Invite them to respond to comments if they choose.
  • Tell them exactly when the post will be up and send them a link.
  • Send them a reminder the day before the post goes up - especially if it's been awhile since you communicated.
  • Build your guest up and validate them in your introduction. Let your readers know why you respect this guest and why they should read on.
  • Thank them in public and privately.
  • Tweet and Facebook their visit to your blog.
  • After all comments are in, usually a week later, thank the guest again by email.
Think of a guest on your blog like a guest in your house. Treat them as such and you'll be a perfect host.

Are there any other courtesies you like from your host that I've forgotten to mention?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Guest

Several months ago I talked about the Marketing Benefits of Guests and how to Gather Guests for your blog.  Since then I've wanted to focus on the Marketing Benefit of Being a Guest and just haven't gotten around to it.

So let's talk a little bit about it today.

Being a guest on other people's blogs is a great marketing move. This is why so many people do blog tours. It makes obvious sense - you expose yourself to potentially new customers/followers. That's exactly what marketing/advertising is supposed to do. And guest posts are free!

Much like the way you gather guests to be on your blog, you can gather blogs to guest on by:
  • Putting out a call on your own blog for guest spots
  • Asking other bloggers if you can do a guest post
  • Ask reviewers to review your book (if you have one)
  • Ask people who have done guest spots on your blog if you can return the favor
When you are a guest, make sure you are a polite and gracious guest. This may seem unnecessary to spell out, but in my experience it needs to be said.
  1. Tell your followers where you're going to be. This is not only courteous to your own followers, but the blog you are visiting should get the benefit of new followers coming to his or her site.
  2. Tweet and/or Facebook about your guest spot. Again, it is courteous to spread the word.
  3. Stop by early on and leave a comment when your post is up. If you can't, try to tell your host that you'll be there late.
  4. Ask your host if you can reply to comments. He or she will say yes, but it's nice to ask.
  5. Reply to comments. Well, duh.
  6. Stop by later in the week in case people responded late to your guest post.
  7. Thank your host on his or her site, your site, and personally by email for having you as a guest.
Now, in general, I would say both being a guest and having guests are worth the same in marketing terms. But, that's not exactly true. 

If you are trying to earn new followers, bringing in new guests will do the trick, provided that they advertise that they will be on your site. See, the reason is that their followers will follow them over to your blog and then sign up to follow you while they are there.

If you are trying to sell your book, then guesting on other blogs is the better choice. Just make sure you bring pics of your latest book and links to where to buy as well as a little blurb.  

I know that many of us - I include myself because I am one of these people - don't want to see guests on our favorite blogs. We want to see our favorite blogger, that's why we read the blog, right? This is true. But it's also true that we have all probably been introduced to a new amazing blogger from a guest post by or on another blogger's site. The key, as always, is moderation. Make sure you are on your own blog more than you are on other people's blogs. Make sure you are on your own blog more than other people are on your blog. And if your page views are consistently going down and not bouncing back up, cut down even further.

What are your thoughts on guest blogging? Have you been a guest? Had a guest? Why or why not? 

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Facebook

I have many posts about Facebook. Try hitting that label over there that says Facebook to see what information I have to share with you. One of those posts I am recycling for you here, because I think it best answers: Why Facebook?

For those of you who are not so fond of Facebook, I just wanted to share some statistics with you gathered from  Take a look at this graph:

That graph is telling you that 83% of people ages 18-29 who use the internet are on a social network. 70% of users ages 30-49. And most of those social network accounts are on Facebook:

Of adult Social Network users:

  • 73% have a Facebook account
  • 48% have a MySpace profile
  • 14% have an account on LinkedIn
  • 1% each on Yahoo, YouTube, Tagged, Flickr and
  • 10-12% are on “other” sites like Bebo, Last.FM, Digg, Blackplanet, Orkut, Hi5 and
Teens are on Facebook too:
  • 54% of teens ages 12-14 are on Facebook
  • Teens between the ages of 15-17 are on Facebook nearly 19.9 hours a week
Comparatively, only 19% of internet users are on Twitter. Take a look at this graph:

Your readers are on Facebook. If you are trying to reach them through Twitter, through blogs, they're somewhere else. Just sayin'.

Do these stats surprise you? Do they change your mind about social networking? I'm interested in your thoughts.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Email Marketing

I don't have to tell you that email marketing is huge right now.  If you are promoting anything that you want people to buy, I highly recommend it. It's very effective and cheap, if you know where to go. Let's talk about the basics.   
  • Gather emails by asking people to sign up for newsletters from you on your blog/website. Purchasing email lists is very rarely effective. Get emails with permission.  If you haven't got a contract to pub yet, it is still a great time to start gathering emails.  Gathering emails is a lengthy process. Why not have a head start?
  • You can't just email from your own personal gmail/aol/yahoo/etc. account. It's not professional, and, if you are sending a good deal of emails, your email carrier will eventually put a stop to it. You should sign up with an email service. Most cost a monthly fee, and for my clients I generally use Icontact, a very reputable and reliable service. But you can do what you need to as an author for free at Mail Chimp. Mail Chimp is very easy to use and you can do very simple emails to more complex without needing any design skills. Here's a sample email I created on Mail Chimp to show you ( If I were using a paid service, I wouldn't have to have the words "MailChimp" at the bottom.)

  • Do not spam your email list! Be sure to only send out emails on a very limited basis. I find you shouldn't do more than one per month. More than that and people start to ignore you or unsubscribe. 
  • Include a Call to Action in each email. That means you should ask the recipient to do something such as buy your book, enter a contest, or like your Facebook page. You don't have to say "Buy my book" outright, but you need to know what it is you want the recipient to do when you send the email and then make it easy for them to do it. For example, in the email sample above, the call to action is for people to follow me on my blog. Since this is just a picture you can't tell that if you clicked on the email it would take you to my blog. You can do the same thing with a coupon that's $1.00 off your book or whatever. Effective email marketing is never just news. 
  • Always look at your statistics after you've sent your email to see if people opened it and/or clicked on links. This will help you to figure out what works and what doesn't for next time.
Well, that's email marketing basics. Are you scared of email marketing? Will you/do you use it?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Depth

(This is a recycled post. An oldie, but a goodie!)

Let's talk about depth. When I say depth I am talking about pages on your website or blog in addition to your home page.

Why should we have depth?

Because there are critical pieces of information that should be easily accessible to readers. 

Critical information for an author includes:
  1. Contact Information. Please give people an easy way to find you. If for any reason an agent or someone who could help your career is looking for you, don't you want them to find you easily? And what about later when you are published? Shouldn't your readers have access to you? They want to be able to connect - online media makes this possible. Do your part - make it easy for them. Yes, usually they can click on your profile and get your email (if you have it listed) but that takes more work. A contact page including an email is better. Even better than that is a contact form so people can leave you messages directly from your site. (This is different than being able to comment because they can talk to you privately.)
  2. About Me Page. I don't have this info on my blog yet. I don't know why - maybe I haven't figured out who I am. Again, a blogger profile button can give this info, but a page dedicated to telling all about you is preferred. It's easy to find and is searchable. Include what you write and your FULL NAME or PEN NAME in a clear location. You'd be surprised how many people's blogs I visit that have their name hidden away. It's frustrating. Don't let your readers be frustrated!
  3. A Link to Your Books. This is mostly important if you're books are on sale or on the way to being on sale. Make it easy for people to buy your books. That's critical. Also important is letting people know what you write for easy identification. If someone sees your name and book title and synopsis a lot, they start to say, "Maybe I should read that..." If you are published, make sure you have your cover posted.  If you aren't published, you should have writing samples. This gives people pre-agent buzz (yes, it can happen) and gives agents and publishers easy access to your work. Many agents research your blog on a query. Make sure they can find your material. (Again, I haven't done it yet. Ooh, I'm a slacker!)
  4. Anything else you want people to get to easily. I want people to get to my blog critique info. Maybe you have appearances or events you want to notify people about. Or you offer editing services. Or you have good reviews of your books. Or you have won writing awards. Or you have a really popular blog post. Maybe its contests. Or photos. You get my drift.
One more thing - please make your navigation to these pages easy to see. Top of the page is best.

Any other things you want to see in on a separate page of a blog or website? Do you have depth?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Contest

Who doesn't like to win? Exactly. That's why running contests on your blog is a great way to attract followers, reward readers, and draw attention to important announcements. Read back through my Savvy Sensation Series and you will read that many of them built their platform with contests.
To make sure you get the most out of running a contest, ask your entrants to do something such as tweet about the contest, like your Facebook page, blog about you, etc. The contest I held last month was to celebrate 300 followers. I had spent a couple of months in the 290s. The week I held the contest, I bumped up to 320 just from people tweeting and blogging and drawing new followers.

The most successful contests, of course, have prizes that people want to win. Gift cards, books (especially advanced copies, aka ARCs), and agent submissions always pull a nice draw. You can also offer critiques, editorial services, or other book swag. Be creative! Be unique! If you haven't tried a contest yet, I challenge you to try it.

This seems like a great place to run a contest of my own, doesn't it? Let me just say, there's one in the works. But you'll have to come back later in the month to find out about it. How's that for building up some interest?

Do you run contests? Have you found them helpful in building your blogging platform?

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Blog Hops

Blog hops are fun and challenging and you meet many people, so participating in them may not feel much like marketing. But exactly because you meet many people - people who are actively seeking new relationships - blog hops are an excellent way to build up your followers.

Now I must state that the number of followers you have does not actually mean as much as the quality of engagement you have with your followers. You can have a thousand followers who stop by one time and never again. That's not really useful for you as an author.On the other hand, you can have one hundred followers that will tweet, facebook, and blog on your behalf at the drop of a hat. Followers become great marketing tools when you know them well enough that they stop by often, comment often, share your news/posts with others, and are happy to guest on your blog or vice versa.

Just to be real clear, followers are people not statistics. They are opportunities for engagement. If you don't engage, the number of followers you have means nothing.

But because it is an easy number to monitor, we are going to look at my follower numbers to show how much a blog hop can change the opportunities I have for engagement. As I schedule this post to run, I have 331followers. Let's see where we are at the end of the month, shall we?

How have your followers jumped since you started this blogfest?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Alert

Google Alerts, that is. Do you use them? I am very fond of them and think they are an absolute must for monitoring your internet presence - a big part of marketing. (This is essentially a recycled post, but I bet there's a bunch of you who haven't read it.)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Google Alerts, here's a blurb from the Google website about what this nifty function does:

Google Alerts are emails sent to you when Google finds new results -- such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs -- that match your search term. You can use Google Alerts to monitor anything on the Web. For example, people use Google Alerts to:
  • find out what is being said about their company or product.
  • monitor a developing news story.
  • keep up to date on a competitor or industry.
  • get the latest news on a celebrity or sports team.
  • find out what's being said about themselves.

If you aren't using Google Alerts, please do!  It's the best way to track your image through the web and find out what people are saying about you. You can track as many terms as you like with this tool, even your competition or things you just like to follow. I recommend you at least follow your name or author pseudonym and your book title(s). Maybe you also want to follow your agent or editor, up to you. You can specify how often you get the alert so you aren't inundated and you can end at any time. Sign up for your alerts here. 

How do you use Google Alerts? Has it been helpful for you? 
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