Marketing and Branding

Crowdfunding? Can This Work For Authors? By Kayleigh Webb

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Guest Post, Marketing and Branding, Publishing | 0 comments

Crowdfunding? Can This Work For Authors? By Kayleigh Webb

For those of you who don’t know crowdfunding is a relatively new business model that creative people of all types have been using to get their work out into the world. There are different ways to do this, including Kickstarter and the various other sites that use a similar format; Patreon; using a website; or mixing and matching the available options to create something that works for them. I’m a crowdfunded writer. Although it was an easy choice for me to make, because I readily admit that I am a control freak, it’s not something I would recommend for anyone who writes. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been simpler to take one of the paths that have been walked by other people, but there are reasons for the choice that I made that I feel make it the right one for me. My first reason, and possibly the most important, is my love of people getting involved. What I want is for the worlds I’ve created to be fascinating enough for my readers to join me in whatever way they want to. Fanfiction is something I’d love more of, and fanart, and people creating worlds they want me to write in or characters they want to place in one of the already available settings. I do have a worlds that have been created by my readers, just not as many as I would like, unfortunately, as the hardest thing with this, for me, has been to get people interested enough to do that. That, for me, has been one of the hardest things. Most of the time I don’t write for other people, because I mostly write what’s been nagging at me the most, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want someone to comment on a story and say they like it, or they didn’t like it, or they like the character and want to see more of them, or just tell me they read it. When you have your own website one of the hardest things can be looking at your site stats and realising you have no visitors. Of course they could be reading elsewhere – but sometimes it’s incredibly disheartening. If you’re going to crowdfund that is something you have to be prepared for. Not writing for other people is probably what’s kept me going some days. I love writing, so I keep going, no matter what. The second reason I chose crowdfunding does mix in with the first, and that is the fun I have with experimenting with different ways of getting people interested. I offer character adoptions and setting rentals, where the purchaser will get a number of stories sent to them over a period of time with a word count of their choice. Buying 1000 words means you’re likely to get a fragment of a story, but it’s simple enough to have them extended. Some will end up being much longer than I expected. Some will be short and sweet, and often with the chance of seeing what comes after that one, as the one thing I have worked out about what I write – there is never really an end. One story almost always leads to another. Another thing I offer is story bundles. Buy stories for all of your favourite characters and have them sent to you together. This gives the reader much more freedom to get what they want from me, including putting a character from one of my worlds into another one. I love doing that myself, or seeing what would happen if they made another decision,...

Read More

How to Build a Kick-Ass Street Team by Mina Vaughn

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Artistry of Marketing, Guest Post, How To, Marketing and Branding, Writing | 1 comment

How to Build a Kick-Ass Street Team by Mina Vaughn

So you’re going to be an author. Congrats! You’re at the start of a really exciting journey, so why not bring along your friends and gain some major cheerleaders! I love my street team, but it wasn’t easy putting it together, so that’s why I’m here at the Pen and Muse school to help you figure out how to put one together. There’s no right or wrong way, and many other authors may do it differently, but here are five steps to putting together an awesome street team.   1)      Figure out what you want. Do you want your street team to blast every new blog post someone does about your book, or do you mainly want them to tweet promo links? Think about what your goal is—discoverability? Sales? Having a goal-centered plan is key to being able to build your street team and also measure its success once it’s up and running. 2)      Start with your friends. I don’t necessarily mean your BFF from third grade, I mostly mean your writer friends. The ones who were in the query trenches with you, the ones who are already published and the ones who are almost there. If they’re active in the writing community and love you and your book, ask them. Note: I didn’t say add them. Some people may not want to be on your street team but that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Don’t take anything personally—this advice will go a long way during this publishing process! If you don’t have a thick skin yet, work on it! 3)      Meet some bloggers. This part makes some new authors nervous. Bloggers for your genre may often be really influential and it’s scary to just say “UM HI READ MY BOOK”, so don’t do it that way. Follow them on Twitter. Like them on facebook. See what they love to read and what they’re not as jazzed about. Interact. If you end up forming a relationship, you can eventually see if they want to be on your street team. This is after they’ve read an ARC, of course, since they need something to base their opinions on. Some bloggers may not fall head-over-heels for your book, and that’s ok. Stick to the ones who are going to be your cheerleaders. Stop being nervous—bloggers do what they do because they LOVE BOOKS, plain and simple. Plus, they’re always on the lookout for new talent. 4)      Decide on a platform. There are many ways for you to organize your street team, but the best that have worked for me are google groups and facebook groups. Google groups is basically an email format where you would add people to a list and then shoot out emails to that pre-made list. Basically, if you have something to say (Hey, ____ starts pre-order today!) then type up the email to the group and it’s on its way. Easy. But not that interesting, and doesn’t build camaraderie as well. It’s good for just business and getting the important stuff out there. This is why I have two formats. Facebook groups allow members and myself to post pictures (This guy looks so much like _____) and ask polls and just interact more in a small, more intimate way. However, sometimes the main message gets lost in the feed so that’s why I like the two group method. Some people don’t have facebook, too, so that’s part of it. Anyway, pick your platform, add your friends and bloggers and then… 5)      Reward them. Tweeting your book, RT’ing reviews, sharing on Facebook. Those all take time and...

Read More

The Importance of A Great Website & What Every Author Should Have On It by Tyler Snell

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Artistry of Marketing, Marketing and Branding, Writing | 1 comment

The Importance of A Great Website & What Every Author Should Have On It by Tyler Snell

The Importance of Writer Websites: What You Should Include By Tyler Anne Snell I won’t sit here and pretend I have the most amazing author website in the land of the internet. Sure, I’m fond of what I have and spent a good few days getting the details finalized, but there are still some things I’d like to improve. Then again, like writing a book, there’s always something I feel needs to be changed. Maybe it’s just our creative pursuit for perfection popping its head up again? But, I digress. For those of you who don’t know me, let me give you a quick background of why I’m passionate about writer and author websites. Basically, I absolutely love reading. It is my vice, my addiction, and the biggest reason my paychecks deplete after each month. So, in summation, I read a lot and often. Which also means I visit a lot of authors’ sites. I look for their bios, blogs, social media, and what else they’ve written. All in an excited search for my next White Whale. Let me tell you, it’s a smorgasbord of madness out there in writer website land. So for those of you who have books out, or maybe just a WIP, let me tell you what (most) every reader looks for and wants in your site.   Blog To me, this is one of the most important aspects of a writer’s site. Whether it’s you posting about the most recent news for your book or you talking about how frustrating it is to push through writer’s block, having a dedicated space for your thoughts is a must. It helps your fans see a very personal part of you, which can make them more invested in your future success. If you don’t think you have the time to keep up a blog, make time. Once a month is better than never.   Books This should be a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people DON’T dedicate a page to their works. It shouldn’t be a struggle for readers to find a list (with pictures of their covers, please) of what you’ve published with purchase links or are currently working on. Make a page and put that link in your top and bottom navigation. Also, go that extra step to make it easier on readers and put your most current book on the homepage with its purchase link.   Bio Be funny, be serious, be interesting. Dedicate a page to tell your fans (current and future) about the person behind the books. Whether you want a long run-down of who you are and how you got started or a short paragraph about yourself, make sure you craft something you can be proud to direct people towards. Include a picture too!   Social Media One of the first things I do when I’m looking at a new author is pull up their Facebook and Twitter accounts. There’s nothing like that feeling of connection when you get personal updates from an author. So make sure you clearly showcase links to your social media on your site.   Contact This page doesn’t have to be insanely glamorous. I’ve seen a lot of sites that just have two sentences that list off email addresses and social media links or just a form that’s built into the site. Either way, make sure you have a place that people can contact you. Plus, you never know when the fan mail will start rolling in!   Graphics / Pictures Whether it’s your book covers, book art, or graphics made for blog...

Read More

Social Media Marketing Etiquette by Sara Raasch

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Artistry of Marketing, Marketing and Branding, Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 2 comments

Social Media Marketing Etiquette by Sara Raasch

When Jamie asked me to participate in this, I knew instantly that I wanted to do a marketing post. My mind filled with grandiose plans to impart the plethora of knowledge I’ve acquired over the past few years of bookish insanity—until I realized that this would be only one blog post, and babbling on and on would go against Sara’s Marketing Rule #298:   Keep it short and sweet, you marketing genius, you.   Which ties in nicely with Sara’s Marketing Rule #176:   Talk to yourself like the badass MoFo you are, you glorious creature, you.   But neither of those rules are what I want to discuss with you. No, I have something much grander in mind, the one rule that, I feel, will most positively influence your marketing journey (yes, even more so than Rule #176. It’s that good).   Sara’s Marketing Rule #1: Let yourself be wonderful.   Sara’s Marketing Rule #1: Let yourself be wonderful. Click To Tweet   While of course I mean the “fantastic” definition of the word “wonderful,” I mean mostly the “full of wonder” definition. See, the social media/marketing world is LOUD. It’s crowded, busy, and kind of smelly, and it’s full of people whose marketing plans include only promoting their book. “But Sara,” you say. “Isn’t that the POINT of marketing? To promote my book?” No, actually. The point of marketing is to promote YOURSELF. Books will come and go, unless the only book you ever plan on writing is the one you have now. YOU are the brand you are promoting, and promoting a person is a whole other beast. An example: you’re presented with the option to read a book by one of the two following authors.   Author #1: You know how much their book costs and when it comes out. You know the title and the summary, because they post it frequently.   Author #2: You know this author ADORES your favorite TV show. They also recently read a book you loved, and post frequently about how obsessed they are with a certain type of food and how that obsession may or may not be destroying their life in the best way. You know the title/summary of their book, because you read a post they did about a movie they just watched, found it hysterical, and zipped over to see what other things they’d written.   Author #1 gets their information across, but Author #2 creates a lasting impact. If all your marketing interactions consist of “My book is on sale for X amount!” or “My book comes out on this day!” advertisement-type posts, readers will gloss over. There’s no interaction, and all of your marketing ploys will feel like heartless implosions of words. You become more a spambot than an author, which is the complete opposite of what you want to be to your fans. You want to be a PERSON to them, relatable and accessible.   Thus: WONDER. Join a fandom for your favorite show/movie/book; let yourself be deliriously excited for things; interact with other fans AS a fan. In doing so, you create relationships based on who you are as a person, and people are far more likely to support your writerly endeavors if they know YOU, not just your book’s info. (PS: This doesn’t mean you can NEVER post advertisement-type things about your book. You absolutely can—but do so in less an “ad” way and more of a friend-to-friend “My book! Look! SO EXCITING!” kind of way.) (PPS: Marketing shouldn’t stress you out. I promise, it shouldn’t. If ever an idea...

Read More

Getting Advance Review Copies in the Hands of Readers by Mark Matthews

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Marketing and Branding, Publishing, Writing | 0 comments

Getting Advance Review Copies in the Hands of Readers by Mark Matthews

Getting Advance Review Copies in the Hands of Readers Have a handful of book blurbs ready to go before your book is published. Reviews are the marshmallow pieces in your lucky charms. The toy in your crackerjacks. Reviews don’t just sell books and entice readers, a five-star constellation can also feed the ego, or a lone star in the sky can motivate you out of spite. Seeing a new review appear on your amazon page is proof of life, letting you know your book is alive and not just gathering digital dust. Getting reviews starts way before your book is published. Publishers know this so pay hundreds of dollars to give their books away to reviewers on sites like Netgalley. It’s like the first shot of heroin you get from the drug dealer. “Here you go, first one’s free. Go tell your friends how good my stuff is.” The good news is, like most things publishers do, you can do all of this yourself with some time and perseverance. There is no reason you should have a book published without a handful of book blurbs and reviews ready to go. Advance reviews create hype, allow you to populate your amazon page as soon as it goes on sale, and gives it some credibility. I’ve been slinging advance copies of my upcoming release MILK-BLOOD the last few days, and came up with some tips. Of course, everything you hear could be wrong and based on my own insanity. But listen anyways. Some Do’s and Don’ts on handing out ARCs Do tons of research. Your target audience should be readers and authors in your genre, as well as bloggers who may cover the same subject of your book. Your main character is a tattoo artist? Look for tattoo bloggers. Do take a liberal stance in giving out ARCs. You’re better off giving away too many than too few. Stop worrying about losing sales. Someone’s reading your book, with a vague promise to tell their friends how good your stuff is. Do cartwheels. Once it’s written, your book is both product and marketing tool. Do approach authors who are in your genre, and as with all approaches, get to know them. Don’t just send a form letter where you plop their name on top. Explain why you are reaching out to them and why they’re a good fit, and prove that you know what they write. In this day and age, you can reach most any author. (Unless you tried and now have a restraining order. My apologies to Ms. Gillian Flynn). Everyone’s got either a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or a Goodreads profile. Don’t expect them all to say yes. Not even close. Most will not. Be gracious even for a response back. The beautiful thing about social media is it connects reader to writer like no time before, but that doesn’t mean they owe you a darn thing. Do offer your ARCs on Goodreads groups that match your genre. Of course, mingle in the group first. If you are just popping in to try and ‘use’ the readers, then you may be fought off like a foreign invading agent. Do appreciate those who agree to accept your ARC and give it a look. They are doing you a favor. Be kind, be grateful. Of course, this should come natural, if not, you may be an ass-hat. Remember, they are giving you their time. To be read by someone is one of the greatest gifts they can give you. They are serving you by accepting an ARC, you...

Read More

How to Coldcall Blogs as an Author

Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Marketing and Branding, Publishing, Writing | 2 comments

How to Coldcall Blogs as an Author

Imagine opening an email like this: “My book [BOOK TITLE HERE] is coming out on THIS DATE  and I was wondering if you want to join my week long blog tour.” We receive emails like this almost daily. Know what my (Muse KJ) usual response is? Who the hell are you?   Know what my usual course of action is? Does the email mention Jo or I by name, or even call us The Muses? No.  -> Quick reread of email. If it seems generic, is rude, or is otherwise uninteresting, I delete. Yes -> Quick search of email + Twitter + Goodreads to see if I know the person and am forgetting something. If email is polite, I respond, and/or forward to our book Muses. If it throws me directly into a Google Docs form, I do not. This isn’t being mean. This is the same thing as turning down someone at a bar who walks up to you and asks if you want to go home with you. Because if I don’t know, I expect you to respect my boundaries. I expect you to be polite. So, how should you contact a writer or book blog?   Salutations “Salutations!” said the voice. Wilbur jumped to his feet. “Salu-what?” he cried. “Salutations!” repeated the voice. “What are they, and where are you?” screamed Wilbur. “Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations?” “Salutations are greetings,” said the voice. “When I say ‘salutations,’ it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web Do you usually approach people and launch into what you want from them? I can’t say that approach would go well. Say hello. Look up the names of who you’re speaking to, and personalize your message. Show that you really care about connecting, and that isn’t 100% a generic copy and past message. Put some effort into it.   Introduce yourself.  As a girl from the South, this is common sense to me. I mean, I come from a place where most of the time if you meet someone at the bar, THEY SHAKE YOUR HAND. That’s right – the men will shake your hand. So, don’t just launch into your spiel. Say who you are. Say how we might know you – if you’ve been an avid reader of the blog, say that – just make sure it doesn’t sound like BS.   Make your request. Here’s the thing – bloggers are helping you, not the other way around. Do not invite them to join your tour. Do not wonder if they’d like to join your tour. Ask them. This goes for whatever you want – to do a guest post, to offer your book for review, etc.  ASK. Is there a reason why you think they may enjoy doing this? Maybe your book has a similar theme to one they raved over? Is their favorite author one who promoed your book? Give them the scoop – why should they want to work with you? Bloggers are helping you – not the other way around. Click To Tweet   Avoid being presumptuous. Yes, it’s easier to just include your book if you’re asking for a review – but it’s rude. In chez KJ, rudeness gets you nowhere. Don’t auto include files, or just toss in a Google docs form. Linking to a form is okay. Asking what format of book they prefer so you can email is okay. Just be polite.   Appreciate. A thank you goes a long way. Bloggers have busy schedules. Appreciate that. Thank them...

Read More