Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘indie authors’

Are your branding and marketing message cohesive?

A client recently forwarded me information about a relatively new book distribution company he was thinking about checking out. I did a cursory scan of the website and noticed an odd thing right off the bat: its use of this decorative font that, while pretty, is very difficult to read.

Coupled with the busy picture backdrop and the text that gets lost in that picture, it makes for a pretty unsuccessful sales page. That seems to be a preferred headline font throughout the site. Red Flag No. 1.

With that, I send this response to my client:

This may sound really peculiar, but I would doubt this company’s ability to deliver, just based on that crazy font they used for their headlines. It may be pretty, but it’s really difficult to read, which means it’s impractical. If that’s the choice for their own marketing, it causes me to question the rest of their planning and strategies.

That was when I decided to write this post. But first, I went back and delved a little deeper into IndieReader.

Among other things, it offers a service that promises to get books “in front of [as many as] 37,000 industry professionals.” Yes – that’s what that tiny line in the super curly fancy font says. No word on who the professionals are. Truly, the gal who answers the phone or the intern who reads the slush pile could be classified as an industry professional. Red Flag No. 2.

The third line on their service description page smartly plays to the author’s ego: Sure your friend may have downloaded the Kindle version of your book, but you know what you really want is to see your book in bookstores!

If you know anything about what it takes to get into a bookstore, one of your first questions should be about the return policy. When you sell books to a bookstore, they are essentially bought on consignment. That is, most bookstores require authors to accept the return of unsold books – meaning the authors have to buy them back from the store. Imagine how careful you’d be when sending your books off to the store – or how nicely they’d be packaged if they were being drop-shipped straight from the printer. The idea being that they’d arrive in pristine shape, ready to go on the shelf.

Now imagine a $10/hour college student pulling your unsold books off the same shelf – assuming they ever actually made it onto the shelf in the first place – and throwing them, willy-nilly, into a box that gets shipped back to you. Covers bent, pages torn – do they care? Not a whit. This is what is often involved in agreeing to a store’s return policy.

But when I clicked the link to See IR In-Store FAQs to learn more about how IndieReader deals with stores’ return policies, I was greeted with the following 404 error screen. Red Flag No. 3.

Now I don’t know anything more about this company than what I’ve written here. But based on what I’ve seen, I would not advise my client – or anyone, for that matter – to use them. At least not without a huge amount of due diligence, including insisting on talking to a half-dozen of their previous clients.

Most people think of branding as a logo – but it goes much further than that. Branding does involve your logo, but it also involves your tagline, your color scheme, the look and feel of your website, blog, social media, and marketing collateral. And most importantly, it is comprised of your promised deliverables – and then how you execute on that promise.

Are your branding decisions cohesive? Are they communicating the message you want them to convey to your readers, fans, visitors, and prospective buyers? If you’re known for writing paranormal thrillers today, but you direct people to an old website designed to sell your erotic poetry, they won’t stick around long enough to dig through and find the new books. If you’re promising to deliver excellent info about helping folks overcome addictions, you need to make sure nothing in your branding gives prospective readers/clients a reason to doubt you.

Whatever you’re writing, make sure that all of your marketing materials – both on- and offline – are coherent and represent you as well as possible.

Happy marketing!

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!

__________________

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Recap and marketing lessons from TFOB 2017

Although you’d be hard-pressed to prove it just yet, I am striving to post much more regularly this year. Yep – get ready for … well, if not an onslaught, at least a lot more posts than you’ve been seeing over the past 18 months. It’s time – and I’m ready. I’m learning lots every day, and want to share what I’m learning so you can be a be smarter author/marketer.

Toward the learning, I’ve spent the last three weekends in education mode – the first at the Arizona Authors’ Association “Crafting the Written Word” Conference. The following weekend found me in Tucson at the inaugural Tucson Self-Publishing Expo. And this past weekend, I made another jaunt down to Wildcat territory for the Tucson Festival of Books.

I’m starting chronologically backwards in my sharing because I promised some people I’d email them when I got this post up, so I want to get to that first.

I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your phone, but mine is something of a casual friendship. I don’t have it on me 24/7 like a lot of people. I often have the ringer volume low or off. I’m just not as attached to Neari (you know, kind of like Siri) as some people are to their smartphones. Which is, no doubt, how I could get to the rest stop just outside Casa Grande, Ariz. before realizing I had left my phone at home in Phoenix. Ah, it took me back to the good old days when I prayed I would get there without any trouble and that my husband would see my phone on my dresser and not worry when I didn’t call or answer his texts throughout the day. (He didn’t.)

The worst part about not having my phone with me was not knowing the time – so I stopped at a truck stop and bought a very cute watch that I’ll probably never wear again. The second worst thing was being without my camera. Especially at an event like the TFOB, where there were plenty of things I wanted to remember with pictures. Thanks to the kindness of my friend Rita Goldner, award-winning author of ORANGUTAN: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, who lent me her Canon Power Shot camera (remember the days when phones and cameras were two different devices?), I was able to capture images of the many booths and authors featured below.

Although they didn’t have a booth to themselves, Amylynn Bright and her sister Ava Bright (together, The Quill Sisters) had a gorgeous table in the Romance tent.


In the same tent, Anne Marie Becker also had a beautiful table. Someone taught those romance authors a thing about display design!


Best-selling author Cathy McDavid had a creative marketing idea – a blind date with a book. Anyone who bought one of her many cowboy romances would win a secret book – wrapped in plain tissue paper. Cathy says she can’t take credit for the idea – she borrowed it from someone else. It’s clever nonetheless.


Dr. Deborah Westbury had one of the  most beautiful booth displays I saw at the entire event. She credited her friend (the blonde gal whose left arm is visible in the bottom left quadrant of the picture, behind the woman with her hand on the poster) with the design.


The first thing you saw upon approaching Elaine A. Powers’ booth were the lizard feet.

Known as the “lizard lady,” Powers writes children’s books about lizards and reptiles. Her display was eye-catching, though she did have the benefit of lots of open space next to her.


College pals (Go, Wildcats!) and authors Jay J. Falconer and M.L. Banner caught my attention with their cleverly worded banner title: AUTHORS OF DOOM, GLOOM AND BOOM! They had an excellent display, using the booth well to accommodate both authors’ books.

They also employed an interesting marketing idea, Lexy the sleuthy-looking mannequin, to entice buyers into a free book giveaway.

Lastly, M.L. Banner knows how to work a website. Whether or not you want to download his free books, visit his site to take a look at an excellent free membership enticement every author could learn from.


Fantasy author Jessica C. Feinberg knows her audience: dragon lovers. She designed her booth to capture their attention and imagination with cleverly worded signs and dragons in every corner. Even the dad accompanying these boys was entranced.


Jody Mackey also knows whose attention she’s looking to catch with her pink tulle, flowers, and all things little girls. Her Sally Loves… books are gorgeously designed – as is her fantastic website. I think that must have been the father of a daughter, don’t you?


Another stunning booth was Natalie Wright’s – complete with aliens and celestial-themed decos. She covered every corner of her booth – even making great use of the ceiling space!


Some booths used their exterior and interior wall space creatively to attract attention. The UA College of Behavioral Sciences put up a chalkboard (remember those?) that asked the question, “What would you title your story?” Bet they had a field day with those answers!

The Literacy Connects organization took advantage of the festival’s proximity to March Madness to create their own bracket, this one for iconic authors. Players chose their favorites, who were moved along through the brackets as the Festival continued.

And the Tucson Chapter of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation put a clever twist on things by posting the signatures of famous authors on the exterior wall of their booth. Again, it helps to have an open exterior wall or extra booth space. Those authors/groups with smaller spaces had to become even more imaginative.


A big hit at last year’s LA Times Festival of Books was a “wheel of fortune” giveaway at one of the booths. And I mean BIG hit – every time I walked past that booth, people were waiting 20 deep to spin the wheel and win something – anything, it seemed. Well, the good news is that Tucson Electric Power copied the idea to great success this year at the TFOB. The bad news is that they weren’t the only one employing it, by far. I lost count after seeing a half-dozen different booths offering their own smaller, lesser versions of the WOF. Hint for next year: get a new idea.


Strangely for me, I only bought two books at the TFOB this year.

The first was from author Katherine Rambo, a book titled The World Came to Tucson, about the history of the world-famous Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I got that for my rock-collecting mother-in-law.

The other book I bought was from author and baseball rock star, Ila Jane Borders. Making My Pitch is her memoir about becoming the first woman to play Major League Baseball, a fact that somehow didn’t make as many waves as it should have. Ila now has a baseball school for girls. I bought that one for my friend, Steve, who is both the most voracious reader and biggest baseball fan I know. But I can’t wait to read it first!


There were some bad booths, too. I took pictures, but I won’t share them here. Shaming people publicly never made anyone friends. It was hot this year in Tucson – and those with booths facing directly into the sun were at an unfair disadvantage. Nevertheless, if you commit to an event like a big book festival, make the most of it. Get a hat. Douse yourself in sun screen. Get a spray bottle and offer to wet down people as they walk past – that’ll get ’em to come on over to your booth. What you don’t do is hover in the shady corner like a vampire trying to avoid sunlight.

Get out from behind your table – or at least stand up and put your damned phone away! I wonder how many potential sales are lost at events because the vendor is sitting down or too busy on their phone to notice their booth visitor. You definitely need to find the happy medium between being overly solicitous and ignoring people – but it’s there.

At any rate, that’s my rundown. I’ll have another report at the end of April from the other side of the fence, as I and nine other authors from Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion attempt to woo book-loving Los Angeleans at the 2017 LA Times Festival of Books. On the off chance you’ll be there, we’re in booth #025 in the Cardinal section. Want to join us – or know an author who wants to? We’ve got space for 2 more authors! Email LABookFestival@WriteMarketDesign.com for details.

In the meantime, keep doing great stuff! And watch for my avalanche, er plethora … OK, maybe increase, yes, an increase in posts in the coming weeks!

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!

__________________

Read Full Post »

Ready to Sell More Books in 2017? Here Are 9 Tips

Here are 9 tips for moving your book marketing forward in 2017 .

Unless you’re writing as a hobby, your book is a business and you have a goal to sell as many copies as you can. The start of the year is your chance to review and revise your current book marketing plan – or create and implement one if you’re just starting out.

You’ll need a few things to put your plan into action:

1. Sales goals, broken down by week, month, and/or year
2. Concrete understanding of who your ideal reader is (demographics)
3. Knowledge about your ideal reader’s habits and preferences (psychcographics)
4. An understanding of relationship and content marketing
5. A plan to grow your email list
6. Strategies you plan to implement to reach your ideal reader
7. An actual calendar (paper or digital) on which to record the steps of your marketing plan
8. Assigned dates for quarterly reviews of your plan
9. Rewards for accomplishing your goals

1. Sales goals, broken down by week, month, and/or year
It’s impossible to reach your goals if you don’t know what they are. So how many books do you want to sell? What’s realistic, given the time, skills, and money you can invest in your marketing efforts? How many books do you need to sell to recoup your costs? How many books do you need to sell to reach/maintain bestseller status?

2. Concrete understanding of who your ideal reader is (demographics)
No matter how good your marketing plan is, it’s likely to fail unless and until you know who your ideal reader is. Who this reader is may surprise you. One author I know writes hard-boiled detective novels, so he envisioned men, particularly law enforcement types, as his ideal readers. As he was halfway into his second novel, he did a review of who had bought his first book and was surprised to find it was mostly soccer moms.

3. Knowledge about your ideal reader’s habits and preferences (psychcographics)
Once you know who your reader is, it becomes easier to discern what they like, what they read, where and how they buy books. This will help you determine whether your best bet is to connect with them via LinkedIn or Instagram – or whether you’re more likely to find them at a tradeshow or through your membership in a civic organization.

4. An understanding of relationship and content marketing
Think of your own preferences, when it comes to buying things. Long gone are the days when people will tolerate being sold to. More often, they buy because the product (yes, your book is a product) meets a need or sates a desire – and they choose books because the author comes pre-recommended from a trusted source. Don’t discount reviews – but an anonymous review on Amazon carries a lot less weight than their best friend telling them, “You have to read this book – it’s amazing!” That kind of sharing results (a) from a really good book, and (b) because an author takes the time to cultivate relationships and provide engaging content via their blog, website, YouTube, and other social media platforms.

5. A plan to grow your email list
Although your blog readers and social media connections are important, nothing is more valuable to you, when it comes to marketing your books, than your email list. If your blog goes down for any reason or your social media account is hacked, bye-bye to all those connections. But you own your list – no one else does. If you don’t have one yet, it’s time to start building it! This means finding ways and reasons to get people to give you their email addresses. Contests and giveaways are a big one, as is an ethical bribe you offer on your website or social media pages (a free report, quiz, ebook, or other interesting/useful item). Make sure your giveaway item is digital – so that it’s easy for you to collect the visitor’s email address upon delivering it.

6. Strategies you plan to implement to reach your ideal reader
Now that you know who your reader is, what steps will you take to connect with them? A focused Pinterest campaign? A contest? Biweekly news releases? A blog? A Tip-of-the-Week newsletter? Choose no more than six you will focus on for all of 2017.

7. An actual calendar (paper or digital) on which to record the steps of your marketing plan
Now, it’s time to actually break down the six (or fewer) strategies you’ve settled on into realistic, manageable, measureable steps – and add them to your calendar. Whether you dedicate a certain amount of time every day (the best plan) or a couple hours one day a week, nothing’s going to move unless and until you TAKE ACTION on your plan. This means calendaring the steps, and then keeping your appointments with yourself to implement the plan.

8. Assigned dates for quarterly reviews of your plan
As you move through the steps on your plan, you’ll likely find that some things work better than you’d anticipated, while others are less effective. An important aspect of achieving your goals is setting a date once a quarter to review your plan. What worked? What didn’t work? What might you do more of? What can you abandon and replace with something else?

9. Rewards for accomplishing your goals
Whether you sell one book or a hundred books, it’s more than you sold before – so have a plan to celebrate your success. First, you’ve got to know what it means to have succeeded (see #1). And then, you really want to have a pre-determined reward for accomplishing that goal. Think of it as something to work toward. Try to make the reward commensurate with the goal. For instance, come up with small rewards like a bubble bath or dinner at your favorite restaurant for meeting your weekly goals. Then, think of bigger rewards for accomplishing your quarterly or annual goals.

Will 2017 be the year YOU design and implement an actionable book marketing plan?
____________
Want to take your book marketing to the next level next year? Get your complimentary physical copy of my 2017 Book Marketing Calendar (all you pay is 1 penny, plus $3.95 S&H). Order here: http://bit.ly/BookMktCalendar­.

It has one idea a week for all 52 weeks of the year to move your book marketing forward, along with a theme for each month and specific writing-related day celebrations. You can take action on the weekly marketing tips, while also expanding your engagement by promoting the celebratory days on your blog and/or favorite social media platforms.

EXAMPLES:
JANUARY IS BOOK BLITZ MONTH.

JANUARY BOOK MARKETING IDEAS
– Make a list of non-bookstore venues you can approach
– Put your ebook on CDs/DVDs
– Make a list of ancillary products you can create

JANUARY DAY CELEBRATIONS
January 10 – National Poetry at Work Day
January 15 – Wikipedia Day
January 16 – Book Publishers Day

Get your complimentary physical copy (all you pay is 1 penny, plus $3.95 S&H). Order here: http://bit.ly/BookMktCalendar­.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

Read Full Post »

Come celebrate Phoenix-area indie authors this Saturday, October 8th!

Authors are a strange lot. Many write for love of the craft. Some write to share important messages or to establish themselves as experts in their fields. Most are seeking readers. Some embrace the idea of abracadabra-instant-best-sellermarketing. Many are stunned when they hear the 80/20 principle as it applies to publishing: the recommended ratio of marketing time/effort to writing time/effort. A huge number seem to wish they could wave a magic marketing wand and be done with it. Hocus pocus. Abracadabra. And voila … a bestseller appears.

Unfortunately – or fortunately – it doesn’t work like that. The successful authors are the ones who are willing to be creative and determined to get the word out about their books.

That is the goal of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup. We are on the cusp of reaching 1,000 members in our little club. That means that one in every 3.552 residents of the Valley of the Sun is a member of our group who either (a) has written at least one book, (b) is in the process of writing a book, or (c) is thinking about writing a book and has an interest in learning more about marketing their titles.

To them, I say KUDOS! Hats off! Well done! And happy Indie Author Day! Now not every member of our group is a self-published author, but the vast majority are indie authors. Google the definition of indie author and you’ll likely find dozens of variations. In my opinion, an indie author is an author who is the creative director of their books, from concept to publication to marketing and beyond. While they may or may not partner with a variety of service providers along the way, they drive their own publishing process and agenda. Many small publishers are indie presses, as are those authors who only ever self-publish a single book.

Saturday, October 8, 2016, marks the inaugural Indie Author Day. On that day, libraries across North America will host their own local author events with the support of the Indie Author Day team. We won’t know for a while whether IAD will become an annual event, but that would be a happy outcome! Surprisingly few Phoenix-area libraries are participating – but it’s the first year, so let’s hope it grows with time.

Maricopa County Library District — El Mirage Branch  /  El Mirage, AZ

Maricopa County Library District — Northwest Regional Branch  /  Surprise, AZ

Maricopa County Library District — Queen Creek Branch  /  Queen Creek, AZ

Maricopa County Library District — Sun City Branch  /  Sun City, AZ

There IS something else you can do to celebrate indie authors in the Phoenix area – and that is join us forBooks Take You Higher Gala the inaugural Books Take You Higher Gala! This party features local authors – many of whom are members of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup – and gives Valley book lovers the chance to mix and mingle with some of the best. Authors in attendance range from award-winning children’s authors to adult fiction authors, memoir writers, business writers, and everyone in between.

Some of the things you can look forward to:

  • A spelling bee for the smarty pants in the house (PRIZE: $25 gift card)
  • A literary trivia contest for the true bibliophiles (PRIZE: $25 gift card)
  • An optional costume contest (come as your favorite literary character – it is October, after all – and you could win a $50 gift card!)
  • Live music from comedy quartet, Lilac Crazy, and solo guitarist Mickey Clement
  • Food from Pita Jungle
  • Much more…

Advance tickets are just $5 for members of the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup; $10 for the general public; and $15 for 2 general public tickets. Join us and help us support Read Better Be Better, a local nonprofit whose goal is to interrupt the cycle of childhood illiteracy that so often gives way to adult illiteracy in our country.

Questions? Email phxazlaura@gmail.com. Please come and bring a friend! And if you can’t make it, please press one of the share buttons to tell your bibliophile friends about the event!

Many thanks to our printing sponsor, Author2Market.com – and Write | Market | Design for hosting the event!

Books Take You Higher Gala partners banner

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!

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: