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On baby blankets and book marketing plans

When you publish your book, you welcome it like the treasure it is. You cradle the new baby, maybe send out announcements about its arrival. You may plan a party to officially launch your marketing campaign.

But what comes next? Do you know? Do you have a plan?

Starting a marketing campaign without a plan is like trying to monogram a baby blanket before you know the child’s baby blanketname. It doesn’t make sense because it defies logical order.

Never fear if you don’t yet have a plan – many new authors find themselves in this position. But, if you intend to sell books to anyone besides your mom and your best friend, you’re going to need to make a plan – PRONTO!

The challenge is that there’s no one-size-fits-all book marketing plan – and anyone who tells you there is, is more than likely trying to con you … into buying their program, hiring them to help you out, listing with their service, etc. The reason is that pretty much every book is different – so in order to sell yours, you need to know who your readers are and how to get in touch with them.

BUT … there’s one other thing you need to know: YOUR END GOAL. What do you want to achieve with your book? The answer to this question will determine where you start and how you pursue those readers, now that you know who they are. You really can’t develop a book marketing plan until you know why you’re marketing your book.

QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ANSWER

  • What’s your genre – beyond just fiction/nonfiction?
  • Who is your primary audience? Be as specific as you can.
  • What do you want your book to do for your readers? Entertain them, inform them, challenge them?
  • What do you want your readers to do after they’ve finished reading your book? The answer to this could run the gamut…
    • Write you a review on Goodreads.
    • Visit your website to sign up for your coaching program.
    • Buy your next book.
    • Book you to speak at their company’s annual meeting.
    • Recommend your book to their Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
    • Call you to schedule a personal consultation.
    • Choose your book for their book club and invite you to attend via Skype.
  • Where/how will you connect with your audience?

book marketing plan

Once you know what you want your book to do for you – as much as you know what you want it to do for your readers – you can begin crafting your marketing plan. But not a second before that. Why? Well, if your ultimate goal is to create a membership site that brings your readers together in a supportive community, it probably isn’t in your best interest to spend a whole lot of time, energy, and money booking in-person signings. But wait – couldn’t live events help me meet that goal? Sure – but on a much smaller scale than focusing on an effective website that converts visitors into subscribers.

What do you want your book to do for your readers – and what action do you want your readers to take once they are finished reading it?

The answers to these questions will lead you to the natural next step in building your book marketing plan.

Here’s to the research that will lead you to the perfect plan!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

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Late, early, or right on time?

Pointing-at-Watch

Pretty much everyone can agree that being on time is a good habit to develop and nurture. One trait you never want to be known for is running chronically late. You know the type – maybe you are the type! Traffic. Kids. Dogs. The phone. There’s always an excuse – some of them sincere, or actually true. But when you’re labeled an HTP (habitually tardy person), it can reflect badly on you, both in your personal and professional lives.

But what about the person who is chronically early? Have you ever heard those people who spout the refrain, “If you’re on time, you’re late”? No, you’re not. If you’re on time, you’re on time. You have a good sense of time. You know it takes less than an hour to get across town, and you budget accordingly. You know you’re low on gas, so you leave a few minutes early and stop at the gas station on your way. You’ve checked your wallet and know you need to hit an ATM before going to your networking luncheon. And still, you get there on time. Not 30 minutes early. Not 15 minutes late. On time.

There was a funny scene in last Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife. Alicia is preparing for her mother-in-law’s wedding party, which is to take place in her apartment. The doorbell rings, and Alicia says to her daughter, “It’s 10 of. They’re not supposed to be here for 10 more minutes.” Trust me, I know the difference 10 minutes can make, but when you’re having people over, you can always expect them to start showing up at least 10 minutes before the event’s posted start time. Sometimes they show up as much as a half-hour early.

I’ve experienced the frustration of arriving at a venue 45 minutes early to set up for my small event, glad I’m not rushed and comfortable that I will have plenty of time to prepare in a relaxed manner – only to find someone already there, waiting. And the nature of that early person seems never to be to wait quietly … or to offer to help. The nature of that early person is to want to engage you in conversation, completely oblivious to the fact that you arrived early because you have things to do.

My point is that arriving extra early is just as rude as arriving late – sometimes more so. When people post an event start time, they choose that time for a reason. They have errands to do and accommodations to make and they are relying on the time prior to the posted start time to get those things done.

I’m no perfectionist when it comes to running on time. Occasionally I’m five minutes late; once in a while, I’m five minutes early. But more often than not, I’m right on time. As a frequent host of author events, I recommend getting there early if you are a vendor or volunteer who can help set up. You can’t skate in 5 minutes before the doors are supposed to open and expect to create an attractive, inviting, professional display. But if you’re an event patron – or a regular meeting attendee – on time is a good goal.

Some organizations build networking time into their meetings. For example, the posted start time for a luncheon is 11:30 a.m., but people are not asked to be seated so the formal program can begin until 11:45. Other groups prefer that you do your networking in the 10 or 15 minutes before the posted start time. Do your research ahead of time and learn the particulars for the group you’ll be visiting so you know what to expect when you get there.

Heading to a new venue you’ve never been to before? Allow yourself some extra time to find the place without rushing. And in the event that you still find yourself with 20 or 30 extra minutes? Carry a book with you. Listen to an audiobook in your car. Go for a walk (as long as it’s not summertime in Phoenix). Meditate. Write out your goal list. Study the goal list you keep in your car for just such occasions. Use the restroom so you won’t have to interrupt the meeting later to get up. Consider those 20 or 30 minutes a gift.

And if you still have time to spare, check out this great Buzzfeed post, with 22 things people who are chronically early will totally understand.

Then give the host and/or event planner the gift of arriving on time.

Here’s to conquering Chronic Early Arrival Syndrome!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

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Lessons every author can take from Prince’s accomplishments

Damn, does it seem like Planet Earth is losing a lot of vastly talented artists lately! The most recent, of  princecourse, came with the shocking news that music legend Prince died today at his home in Minneapolis. One of the best comments I heard in the immediate aftermath of the announcement came from CNN’s Don Lemon, who said – and I’m paraphrasing here, “As sad as his loss is for everyone, I want to take this time to celebrate his immense accomplishments and all he gave to the world through his art.”

To that end, I’d like to celebrate Prince by reminding us all of the lessons we, as authors, can take from his accomplishments.

1. Prince was a champion of indie, through and through. “He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote ‘slave’ on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.”(1) I learned today that Prince accomplished what few musical artists do by finally taking ownership of his entire music catalogue.

2. He did it himself. “Prince recorded the great majority of his music entirely on his own, playing every instrument and singing every vocal line.”(2) This only works, of course, if you have the skills to do it all yourself. If you need help, definitely hire the right people!

3. Prince was “a wildly prolific songwriter”(2) – releasing four albums just in the last 18 months, alone.Prince symbol

4. He branded himself well. He often incorporated the color purple; for a while changed his name to a symbol; and used the letter U in place of “you” and an eye icon in place of “I” long before texting came into vogue.(2)

5. Prince was deliberately controversial. “He embraced controversy, presenting himself as an androgynous sex fiend in his album art and lyrics, and challenged conservative music ideals in his first decade on albums like 1999, Purple Rain and Sign O’ the Times.”(3)

6. He gave people value for their money. “He distributed albums to concertgoers along with their tickets when that was a novel concept, and he planned other tours at the spur of the moment, dubbing them ‘hit and run’ shows.”(3)

7. He supported other artists. “During the particularly productive time surrounding 1999, Prince also began writing and producing songs under the pseudonym Jamie Starr for two other groups, the local group the Time and a trio of women he assembled, Vanity 6.”(3)

8. He knew how important it was to be himself. “‘The most important thing is to be true to yourself, but I also like danger,’ Prince told [Los Angeles Times critic, Robert] Hilburn… . ‘That’s what is missing from pop music today. There’s no excitement and mystery – people sneaking out and going to these forbidden concerts by Elvis Presley or Jimi Hendrix.’”(4)

9. He used his own life as source material for his music and acting. “Prince’s music was steeped in the contradictions of his background – a black artist who toyed with his racial background in the casting of Purple Rain, sexually flamboyant and gender playful, with a Midwestern self-reliance that created space for his idiosyncrasies.”(4)

Life can be short. Don’t miss the opportunity to write your books, connect with your readers, support other authors, and share your personal story or message with the world!

Here’s to you, Prince Rogers Nelson!

Laura

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SOURCES:
  1. http://abc13.com/news/publicist-pop-superstar-prince-dies-at-his-minnesota-home/1302598/
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/arts/music/prince-dead.html?_r=0
  3. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/prince-dead-at-57-20160421#ixzz46VJhB7Sn
  4. http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-prince-20160421-story.html

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

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A fitting end to National Library Week

Having cut my professional teeth at Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star library while I was in college, for many years, I never missed National Library Week. This year being a bit different for me, it sort of snuck up me. To that end, please take a look at my past post, “11 Ways Authors Can Celebrate National Library Week.” Keep in mind that many of these can be applied at any time during the  year – they are not limited to Library Week.

And now for the celebratory part of the post. Here is a brief collection of library quotes to conclude National Library Week 2016.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” — Cicero

“If I was a book, I would like to be a library book, so I would be taken home by all different sorts of kids.” — Cornelia Funk

“Your library is your portrait.” — Holbrook Jackson

“Libraries raised me.” — Ray Bradbury

“I always tell people that I became a writer not because I went to school but because my mother took me to the library. I wanted to become a writer so I could see my name in the card catalog.” — Sandra Cisneros

Please share your own favorite quotes about libraries (or books) in the comments section below.

library week 1

 

library week 5

library week 2

 

library week 3

 

library week 4

Celebrate well!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

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Who would take a book to a Bruce Springsteen concert? I would!

What would you think if you saw someone carrying a book into a Bruce Springsteen concert? In the case I’m about to describe – you’d probably be wrong, because the person was me and the book was this one by Billy O’Conor. My husband is one of the biggest Springsteen fans I’ve ever met. Me? Not quite as big a fan. Still, when Bruce comes to the Valley, of course we see him.

We were on our way to dinner before the March 10th show in Downtown Phoenix when I noticed, in this order:

  1. A small folding stool with a short stack of books on it – books on the street!
  2. A familiar guy handling one of the books (he was signing a stack of them)
  3. A book cover I recognized

I was so happy to see an author on the street selling his books – and then when I realized it was someone I knew, that added an extra layer of excitement. Billy O’Connor brought his award-winning book, Confessions of a Bronx Bookie, to the December 2014 Holiday Author Event. Almost anytime I see an author selling books in an unusual place, I will buy one, whether or not I even have an interest in the book. It’s my way of walking my talk to support indie authors. (In this case, it was my  husband who bought the book.)

Billy O'Connor

I posted a few months back about meeting Dustin Hall at Coolidge Days and buying his book. And when my husband and I – who don’t have any small children in our lives – met Tao Blaine Baker at the Renaissance Festival last month, we bought a copy of his adorable children’s book, The Ballad of Stinky Pete.

The Ballad of Stinky Pete

So what’s to take away here? Go where the crowds are and sell books. Did Billy O’Connor have a permit? I didn’t ask, but I’m guessing not. And if the cops asked him to move along, he would have done. But in the meantime, he took advantage of the Springsteen/Peter Frampton crowd and peddled some books. Good on him!

One of my favorite people is local children’s author Rita Goldner. I love Rita because she is fearless when it comes to promoting her book, ORANGUTAN: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy. I’m paraphrasing here, but her advice is, “Try it. You won’t know what you can do unless you push the envelope a little bit. And when they tell you to stop, push a little bit more.” OK – so I don’t think Rita’s advocating for getting arrested or winding up with a citation. But try stuff! Look for opportunities. Ask for opportunities. Create your own opportunities.

Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy by Rita Goldner

Second takeaway: support your fellow authors!

did you know authors

As I wrote when I posed this to FB, buy other indie authors’ books! And pay the full cover price – don’t wait for the freebie or ask for a discount. Then read the book – and if it’s good, review it honestly. Dishonest reviews do all authors a disservice, so don’t praise a book that doesn’t deserve it. But DO write honest reviews for good books! And support each other. Don’t be the guy in our Meetup who recently said, in response to an invitation to our first Author Reading/Sales/Signing Event, “I don’t have any interest in hearing other authors read their books. I just want to know how to promote my own book.”

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

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Book marketing is about SHOWING UP!

Libraries and bookstores are dangerous places for writers, especially aspiring authors. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself looking around at the shelves and piles and stacks of books, thinking, “What could I possibly have to say that hasn’t been said before?” The other day, I was walking through the mystery section of Phoenix’s main library and found myself on this train of thought:

I wonder how many books the library buys just sit on the shelf and never get checked out. They sit there quietly watching people wander the aisles, hoping, “Pick me! Pick me!” They quiver with excitement as the hand reaches out … to grab the book next to them … again. Each time they’re overlooked, they’re saddened that they’re not living their purpose.

I also wonder about the path of the books that wind up at the dollar store.

standout

The point of this post isn’t to discourage you. It’s to say, I GET IT! It’s a big job to write a book. Bigger still to publish a book you can be proud of. But the really hard work is in creating an interest in your book in the middle of a very crowded field. Bowker (the company that issues ISBNs) estimates there were 391,000 self-published books last year. If you read many book publishing blogs, it’s easy to get down, because so many of them focus on how so few authors are able to make a living at writing and how few authors actually sell books, mostly because they’re just not very good marketers.

When I first started this blog, three years ago tomorrow, I began with one post and zero readers. Then I added another post. And another post. And slowly the readers came. Now we’ve got lots of regular readers, and new people are subscribing daily. I still get distracted and step away from the blog occasionally, and I never post as often as I want to, but I keep at it, and in doing so, I’ve accomplished more than 95 PERCENT of all bloggers. That’s right. It’s estimated that as many as 95 percent of the 152 million (or so) blogs in existence have been abandoned by their owners/creators. Which just serves to emphasize that one of the most important parts of marketing is to actually do it regularly – to decide to show up and keep showing up!

At the start of this blog, I talked a lot about how important it is for authors to think – and act – like marketers. The problem is that very few authors do. That’s why they’re don’t sell very many books and get discouraged. Most authors – most business owners, I think, regardless of their industry – would much rather work on their area of expertise than take on marketing tasks. But if you’re a solopreneur, or an author with aspirations of making a dent in the Amazon chart or guaranteeing that your book gets checked out of the library, marketing has to be a significant focus. 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like marketing. It doesn’t matter if you (think you) are not good at it. You must embrace it, or let your fantastic book wither away in a tiny, unexplored corner of the Internet where a handful of people will be lucky to stumble across it. Remember, 95 percent of bloggers quit. How many authors do you think quit marketing, or never get started in the first place? So how hard is it, really, to gain at least some  recognition for your book?

Books are such interesting items to market because they’re so personal. A book is not a commodity like tires or groceries or things we use and replace. Nor are most books a significant investment, like a car. They’re in the middle there – things we buy to help us solve problems or entertain us or give us ideas or teach us something. Sure, a voracious reader can plow through a couple books a week, but that’s rare, and he or she is more than likely not your market. You are looking to connect with a reader who will value your story or your information or both. And the only way to do that is to find him … which means marketing to him.

This means creating a website. It means blogging. It means learning to use social media for things other than posting pictures of adorable animals. It means learning how to create short videos. It means learning how to write news releases and what to do with them. It means finding a Toastmasters group and getting over your public speaking fears. It means partnering with nonprofits that share your goals and vision. It means asking for opportunities, instead of waiting for them to come to you.

Yep, at the very least it’s going to take the investment of some time. I run the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, which meets twice a month for a couple hours per session. Though there are 120 official members in the group, we’ve got about 25 aspiring authors who regularly show up to get educated and share ideas about various aspects of book publishing and marketing. At the end of every meeting, we each announce the action steps we plan to take before the next Meetup. Then we publish those action steps on our closed Facebook group. And at the beginning of every session, we start by asking whether or not people met the goals they set for themselves. This provides accountability and support. Maybe there’s a similar group in your area. If not, who do you know who could help you start one?

If you want to spend less time on the marketing, you’re going to need to spend some money. I’m getting ready to launch a marketing mastermind for authors (and aspiring authors) who want to move off the sidelines and really master the art of marketing. If you’ve been reading this blog quietly for some time, but have not acted on any of the dozens of marketing ideas we’ve discussed – particularly out of fear that you still don’t know all you need to know – perhaps this mastermind is right for you. Please email me at mastermind@writemarketdesign.com to request an application.

Marketing is not an innate skill for most people. I was blessed to have masterful teachers – but I also had a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to work hard to master the things I learned. You’ve written (or are writing) a great book. Now it’s time to invest in yourself so that you can get that book into the hands of the people who need it!

Happy marketing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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