Friday, 24 July 2015

Recommendations for EASY Self-Promotion

The ability to market one's work is the difference between
a hobby and a career

Writers, like it or not, cannot escape the fact they are small business owners. And to succeed in any small business, we need a business plan and a steady stream of activities to generate buyer awareness and desire for the product.

Here are some easy tips to help you with self-promotion.

1) PROMOTION AND MARKETING - Learn the difference here. Promotion is the 'what' in sales. Marketing is the 'why'. Don't just show potential readers your book. Tell them why they need to read it.

2) BRANDING - Do you write a series, or excel in a particular time period or genre? Recognize your brand and focus your efforts in that direction. This will also help you target your reading audience.

3) ENGAGE - Be more social on social networking sites. Go to the readers, don't expect they'll find you. Being social means talking to people, sharing their links, posting on your pages, etc.

Also, join reader and review groups on Facebook, Twitter, and/or YahooGroups to engage with potential readers and reviewers. Use those sites that allow advertising spots to post new releases, reviews, or contests to reach all of their readers. Use them often! 1-2 times a week is often their limit.

And if you're hosting a contest with each event you organize, be sure to mention that in your post. When you post:

  • Make the blurb short and catchy,
  • Always include buy links, 
  • And respond to anyone who comments on those blurbs.

4) SHARE - Blog or blog often (2-4 times a month, or more often):

  • Blog about aspects of your books (location, research, in-depth character bios, etc)
  • Blog about your own writing techniques,
  • Post interviews,
  • Post book reviews,
  • Talk about your writing life,
  • Share photographs from research trips,etc.
  • Stay on topic . . . books and you as the author!

5) CONNECT - Use NetworkedBlogs to link your blogs to your social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook so those posts automatically copy to your social pages. You can even link your Facebook and Twitter accounts together so that when you post to one, it copies to the other. This saves you time from having to double post.

6) VBTs/Virtual Book Tours - Organize blog stops or even week-long tours . . . you meet every blog's established readers just by being on those sites. There are many tours out there offering VBTs. Chose the ones whose author hosts offer reviews! Books sell on the backs of reviews and reader opinion. Preparing for VBTs can be time consuming so be sure to get something for your effort, other than exposure.

7) CONTESTS - Host a contest on your website or personal blog, and VBTs . . . have a few trinkets to give away or Amazon gift cards. People like to get something for visiting. It doesn't have to be anything big. People just like the chance at a little something for showing their support.

Gift cards are a great thing because you can email them, and you can personalize them with your cover art. They don't have to be a lot . . . even just $5 and give a couple away as spot prizes rather than one grand prize. Keep in mind that while we always hope winners will buy our book with the gift card we give them, but don't expect it. The key here is they came to your page, interacted with you, and hopefully you earned some fans along the way.

Awards also works on social media. For example: On Facebook or Twitter, let's say you currently have 128 followers on your page. Post a notice, and repeat it every day, that when you reach 200 followers, you'll give away a copy of your book by random draw (pull a name out of a hat), or even an Amazon GC of a token amount . . . $5-10. Anything emailable is best for you and your pocketbook! And when you reach 200 followers, host the same event and award a random prize when you reach the next milestone . . . 250 followers.

8) SEEK - Find readers! Do you have positive engagements with friends of friends? Why not 'friend' or follow them?

  • While it's not always appreciated, you can go onto your friends' pages and connect with their followers. Some call this Friend Poaching, and Facebook will block you for a short period of time if they think you're poaching, but be discrete. Add a few here and there who share similar interests with you. Social media is all about connecting socially. You can't connect if you don't look for followers. As per #2 . . . people won't always come looking for you; you have to make the first time and find them.
  • If you friend someone through FB or Twitter, or they friend you, ALWAYS go onto their page and post a thank you note . . . 'Thank you for your friend link. Please also find me at . . .' (give alternate addresses to find you online . . . if you're on FB, give your Twitter account address so they join there too and THEN when they do, post the thank you note there as well!) ** Always recognize a friend link whether you initiate it or they do.

9) DETACH - Keep separate accounts for you as an author vs you in your personal life. For example, if you're on Facebook, set up a separate page for you as an author and invite your current 'friends' to follow that page by 'likes'. These pages hang off your main account so you don't need to set up extra FB account. Use that page for anything pertaining to you as an author or your books.

  • Avoid 'friending' potential readers and people you don't know on your personal page. Direct readers to your author page. Readers who want to follow their favorite authors want to hear about their work and life as writers. Readers do not want to hear your political or religious rants, and probably don't want their newsfeeds full of cat memes. Be professional by setting up separate pages.
  • And avoiding setting up a page for the book itself, as readers follow authors, not books.

10) BE CREATIVE! We're all authors which means we're naturally creative and think out of the box. Use that to your promo and marketing advantage.

  • Look at how other authors promote -- Do their efforts draw you in? Use their techniques as a spring board for your efforts.
  • Contact your local bookstore or library for an event. Give a reading or two from your latest book and talk about your path to publication. Talk about your research, especially if your work his historical.
  • Also, consider contacting local schools to talk to budding writers about life as a writer . . . offer simple research techniques, the process of writing, the importance of treating writing like a job by setting time during the day to write . . . anything writer or writing life related.
  • For older writers, talk about publishing options . . . highlighting your own publisher of course! If you are a hybrid author (have a publisher for some work and self-publish other work), give writers the pros and cons of each option of publishing.

11) IT'S A BUSINESS - Look at how you view your writing. Are you a hobby writer or do you want to make a serious business out of this? If you're a hobby writer, write for yourself, in your own time, and if you consider publishing, think about self publishing.

But, if you want more, you need to treat your writing like a business:

  • Set up a 5 year business plan . . . and be serious about it.
  • Surround yourself with supporters.
  • Get a good critique partner.
  • Plan promotions and marketing and be consistent about them.
  • Don't be afraid to spend money on paid ad spots in daily newsletters. Most are very affordable.
  • Get business cards! Put your book cover on one side and your contact info on the other (website, email, name), along with a short blurb about your book, or a great quote.
  • Hand those out everywhere! See someone with an ereader in a cafe, slide your card onto their table, cover side up. See someone reading on a device on the bus, hand them your card. At the dentist, buying shoes, in the bookstore (I didn't just say that) . . . give out your business card. Leave your card with a tip in restaurants and cafes. Always with the cover side up!

12) HAVE FUN! - Hey, if it's not fun, why do it. Right?

Remember, you don't have to do all of these things all the time. Spread it out. Start with a Facebok or Twitter competition to boost your follower numbers. Get your friends to tell their friends about your books. Grab a couple paid ad spots. Get reviews!

And keep writing!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

When to Hit Submit

No, I’m not talking about 50 Shades of Gray. In fact, if you are thinking of writing something similar, or titling your book, novella, or story Fifty Shades of [insert any color or item here], please don’t.

I’m talking about submitting to a small press.

While I would love for you to submit to Tirgearr Publishing, where I act as Senior Editor, some things I have seen on the acquisitions side are now fueling a short rant, hopefully filled with some useful advice, no matter where you decide to submit.

Some of you are great at self-publishing. You hire great cover designers, editors, proof readers, and formatters. You understand the need and the value of investing in your work, treating your writing like a business, and making your book the best product it can be. This post is not for you, unless, like me, you want to be a hybrid author, and self-publish some things while you submit others.

For the rest of you let me simply say this: If you don’t have the money to invest in publishing your work properly, please do not self–publish. Even if you have money, but would rather invest it in marketing after your book is published, then please submit. Submit to a reputable small press, and let them take some of the burden for you: sourcing a cover designer, editor, proofreader, and formatter, and getting your work distributed as widely as possible. Whatever your reason for submission, please follow these few steps before you hit send:

Revise your work.
Sound obvious? Not so fast. You would be shocked how many manuscripts we get that look and feel like rough drafts, still containing some basic punctuation and grammar errors easily fixed by using the tools in Microsoft Word or any other word processor. Most would be obvious if the author just read over their own work at least one time.

Truthfully, the cleaner your work is when we see it, the more likely we are to accept it. So it is only in your best interest to make it the best it can be before submission. Editors at this stage are not here to help you re-write your first draft, but to polish your work and make it shine. You need to clean it up at least a little bit first.

Follow the Submission Guidelines.
We now have an online form. You have to fill in certain blanks before you can even press send. The system is designed to make the process as easy and mindless as possible. Still there are a few simple rules I have seen violated over and over.

·       Do send us what we ask for.
·       Don’t send us what we don’t ask for.
·       Send things in the formats we say we accept.
·       Don’t offer excuses why you can’t do the three things above.

Part of the process is us learning about you as an author. If you cannot follow directions at this stage, how do we know you will follow the directions your editor gives you? How do we know you will properly use the marketing tools we give you? Cooperation at this stage shows us you care about what we care about, and you are willing to do as we ask. This is really important in our future dealings with you. First impressions, and all of that.

Be Professional.
We are professionals who are looking for professional authors. Be thinking about an author platform, if you do not already have one. Answer questions we ask you in a professional way. Don’t use emoticons or nude selfies in your signature. In fact, if you do not have a signature, at least type your name at the bottom. Respond promptly. Don’t call me names. Take care to spell the names of those you correspond with correctly.

Does the above seem obvious? Things we should not even have to mention? If they do, please submit. I like you already. If you struggle with the list above, remember this: you are an artist, and you can treat your book as your art as much as you wish while you are writing it. But once it is finished, it is a product you (and hopefully we) are trying to sell. So treat this process like the business it is, just like you would at any other job.

Really, we appreciate it. And we want to hear from you. Please submit. Just make sure you’re ready first. Make the first step in your author career, or the next step, the best it can be.

Troy Lambert
Senior Editor
Tirgearr Publishing

Leading the Pack
Tirgearr Publishing is currently seeking novella and novel length adult genre fiction -- mystery, thrillers, romance and erotic romance, suspense, science fiction, general and women's fiction, horror, fantasy, etc, and all cross genres.

We're also seeking cross culture and same sex stories...M/M, F/ well as multiple partner romances and erotic romance.

We're actively looking for career-minded authors with a view to a future in publishing multiple stories. Sorry, no hobby writers.

Please see our standard submission guidelines and our guidelines for the City Nights series.