(Perfect) Promotion and Marketing

Do you have $10,000,000 to promote your book? No? How about $1,000,000?

A big budget is certainly one way to hit all your target markets and get the recognition for your work that you feel you so richly deserve. The problem is, will you EVER recoup that investment? I know working from a limited budget (and even more limited time) means I have to really think about what I’m going to try next.

So what avenues are available to we authors?

FREE PROMOTION

I actually hesitate to use the word ‘Free’ because there always seems to be a cost of some kind. That cost might be time, it might be doing someone else a favor or it might even be the investment of your resources (or books).

So what are some of your options?

  • Social Media:
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Google+
    • Tumbler
    • flavor of the month – in every one of these cases, the free part being successful is entirely dependent on your reach. In other words, when you post something, how many people even read the post?
  • Purpose-built Web Applications/Sites for book reviews (free ones):
    • Goodreads
    • LibraryThing
    • name site here – Google is your friend here. Do a search for review sites and check them out. There are many. I’ve only named two that I use fairly often. Mileage will vary on whatever site/application you end up using. I am not talking about for pay here. Be mindful, it is often a good idea to offer free books (or eBooks) for review. Perhaps do a contest on these sites. Again, the quality of reviews will vary.
  • Blog Tours
    • talk to your friends about posting to their sites. Write something interesting and mention your book at the end. You can also have a number of sites send you questions and appear on a site a day…or a week or whatever so your book is being promoted in a number of places. Do online interviews. All of this is great for spreading the word. Just remember, some people have a dozen followers and some have a thousand. Don’t expect every site you appear on to result in untold numbers of books being sold. Also expect to spend some time writing posts/answering questions/doing interviews.
  • Story Sharing Sites
    • Wattpad
    • there are others. I just don’t use them - this one firmly falls under the category of lots of effort. You are trying to grow audience by writing stories for the site and interacting with people who decide to check you out. Be very aware of what the website offers for security of your story and asks for in terms of rights. Wattpad just happens to be the one I really like. :)
  • Podcasts
    • There are many podcasts out there. Two that immediately come to mind that cater to the writer are my own Get Published and Dead Robot Society (DRS). I know there are many others because the rotters keep edging me out for a Parsec every year. ;)
    • These can be a good way to get the word out. It is time well invested.
  • Signings
    • Face time with your readers is always good. Unfortunately, like everything else, it takes time to setup, coordinate and actually carry out not to mention the costs of books, gas and possibly food and accommodations (depending on where you are doing the signing).
  •  Networking
    • Never underestimate the power of talking with people. It might sell a book (or books) or it might get you into a bookstore. It might even get you speaking gigs and time on local newsmedia (radio, television, newspaper, etc.). Take the time to talk to people.

There are certainly others out there. My recommendation is to do as many of the free ones as you can. Take a targeted approach and it will all add up…eventually. ;)

COST OF BUSINESS EFFORTS

I consider this to be those sunk costs that you should have. I won’t go into too much detail because I think they are inherently obvious:

  • Website – every author needs an online presence. Take the time to build that presence in a way that is interesting and updated regularly. Unfortunately, if you don’t have technical skills this means hiring someone to initially build the site. Once you have it, the updating is a time commitment you must make.
  • Business Cards – you should have cards you can hand out to potential readers, editors and publishers (and book store owners and…). Costs for these cards is pretty minimal but should include an email address you can be reached at, who you are (and why people should care), your website URL and possibly any books you already have out for sale.

PAID

The sky is really the limit here. If you have the money, there are plenty of people and businesses who are willing to ‘help’ you. Some options include:

  • Facebook Paid Promotion
  • Paid Reviews
  • Newspaper/radio/television advertising
  • Consignment of books (find out what the bookstore actually charges before agreeing to anything – you may be losing money on every book sold).
  • Reviewer copies of books
  • Mail outs

As you can see, there are plenty of options available to you to get the word out. The cost, however is usually high, either in terms of money or effort.

Is there an ideal combination? If there is, I haven’t found it, however patience is key here. Keep the efforts going. Be willing to try new things and the word will spread. It just takes time.

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If you would like to interview me, do a blog tour or any other kind of cross promotion, please email me: author at michellplested dot com.

You can also find more details about my work at: http://www.michellplested.com/my-work/. My books, Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero, Mik Murdoch: The Power Within and very soon Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty can all be found there. There are also several anthologies with my stories up there too.

Then there is Wattpad.com. You can find me and my stories under mplested there.

 

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Regrouping the Troops

I am constantly guilty of taking on too many projects. My wife hears about my latest project addition and shakes her head (in sorrow and disbelief, I think).

Occassionally, my rational mind kicks in and points out the volume of work I have placed onto my plate. When that happens, there is often a reckoning within my own head. What have I done? Am I crazy or merely stupid? What was I thinking?

These thoughts are often accompanied by worries that I will let someone else down. I won’t meet my deadlines. My work won’t be up to snuff.

In my head, those are all legitimate concerns. Perhaps I focus too much on them, but they are important. For me, without goals, deadlines and others relying on my work completion, I spin around and accomplish nothing.

So I stress for a few days until I have a chance to really think through what I have to do.

For example, I have the following list of projects (writing/podcasting only – real life has its own list):

  • Complete Jack Kane and the Statue of Liberty edits (due September 30);
  • Write next Champ McKay episode for Wattpad;
  • Write next Mik Murdoch novel;
  • Revise/polish Boyscouts of the Apocalypse;
  • Edit Portal Under the Sink anthology;
  • Plot and begin writing GalaxyBillies 2;
  • Get Boyscouts of the Apocalypse ready for self-publishing;
  • Relaunch Get Published and put out bi-weekly episodes.
I think there might be more, but I’m avoiding anything else for a little while. Regardless, the list is long and all of the items on it need to be finished in the next several months.
That is the source of the stress.
Then, I gave the list some serious thought. Each of those items takes a finite amount of time. Considerable in some cases, but the work has a definite end.
So I broke it all up and put it into the order when it must be complete. Oddly enough (and perhaps lucky for me), I’m able to put them into an order of completion. And, while the target is huge, it is not impossible. In fact, all I need to do is my normal daily writing and editing routine to accomplish ALL of the above. That means no dawdling, but it is doable.
It doesn’t always work out this way. Sometimes I simply have to shelve something for another time. Sometimes I have to shift the delivery date of an item. In either case, the re-prioritization exercise helps me understand what I’ve got to do and when I have to do it.
Adjusting the perspective is an amazing thing sometimes. And necessary because, as I said earlier, it doesn’t even address the day-to-day life things I have to do.
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Plotting and Writing a (Perfect) Novel

I’ve thought a lot about how to approach this post. I mean, what IS a perfect novel anyway. And perhaps that is the point. There really is no such thing. One person’s masterpiece may be unreadable by another person.

That also raises the question, “Should a writer simply be trying to write the novel everyone wants?”

To that question, I guess I can only say, why not, but then, who is Everyone? We all want success so why not write something that will be popular?

The thing is, while I am able to write in multiple genres, the trick for me is to actually CARE about the story I’m writing. If I don’t have some sort of connection to it, I know the story will be bland and uninteresting. I could go and spend days in the book store and library researching what books are selling best, what genre they are in and how they were written and then try to create a carbon copy of the recipe, but would I enjoy the process and like the outcome? And would others like it either?

I have heard several writers say they write their books for a specific audience. Usually themselves, so if they are happy with the book, they don’t care what the rest of the world thinks. That can be creatively satisfying, but ultimately, how many copies of your own book can you buy and will that actually be earning any money for yourself?

Questions you need to ask to determine if you are actually writing for pleasure or with some sort of business/career goal in mind. If your ambitions lean more to the latter, you will need to pay some attention to your expected (paying) audience.

That means knowing what they are looking for and write something you can invest yourself in that can still be considered commercially viable.

This is where the research should come in.

You can do it a number of ways, I suppose. Talk to people and find out what they are reading. Look at what publishers are selling in the genre, either via Internet searches or by visiting book stores and libraries. See what agents are interested in buying.

Then it is time to figure out what you are going to write.

Some people are discovery writers – they start with a main idea and/or character and just write. Others are plotters and must have the entire story planned before writing it.

Whatever method(s) you use, understand that even if you do write a fantastic book, you still need to make people aware of it. Notice, I said ‘fantastic’ and not perfect.

Make the effort to have beta readers go through your book with a fine-toothed comb. Ensure your beta readers are NOT your mother and best friends. Find people you can trust to tell you what works and what doesn’t.

Make those changes and get an editor involved to help you polish your work to a fine shine.

Then, and only then, should you start sending it out to publishers and agents. You want them to see you as a professional. Your book or story doesn’t need to be perfect for that. Just honed and empty of obvious mistakes. Ensure your query when sending out your work is clear, concise and what the recipient is looking for. (we will talk about that in a later post).

That might be enough to get you published. If you are really fortunate, you might even set the standard for a given genre. But your work will never be perfect.

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