Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Marketing vs Promotion: Why You Need Both

Probably one of the most confusing parts of selling books, or any product, is marketing and promotion, but not many understand the difference in the terms.

Before we begin, we must go back to the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Marketing includes all of those things. Promotion is just part of it.

In the simplest terms, Promotion tells a customer WHAT you have for sale. Marketing tells the customer WHY they need it. You can't have one without the other. And if your book is on sale, you can include your WHERE and WHEN to that. WHO? That's your audience.

Let's break it down with a few examples --

Promotion -- what = the product: Just Desserts Cookbook

Marketing -- why = you need this book because . . .

  • It's full of dozens of seasonal recipes that can be used year-round.
  • All recipes were written and donated by many Tirgearr authors.
  • There are recipes for most occasions.
  • The recipes are easy to make, so even beginners can make them.
  • There are twists on old favorites for the more experienced baker and cook.
  • And it's always free!

What -- City Nights, erotic romance series

Why --

  • The collection includes a unique erotic romance story featured in a well-known city around the world.
  • They're highly charged emotional and sexy stories that take place over just 24 hours.
  • The series appeals to erotic romance readers as well as contemporary romance readers and erotica readers.
  • New strories are published every last Friday of each month.
  • Regular price low-low price of just $2.99. (unless on promotional price)
  • A great time to invest in a new series.

What -- Tirgearr Publishing, publisher of commercial genre fiction

Why --

  • Tirgearr has a solid and attractive backlist of published books.
  • Tirgearr offers a positive environment with good, open communication, for both debut and seasoned authors.
  • Tirgearr is run as a team.
  • Authors work with professional editors to polish their books.
  • Authors work with professional cover artists to create a cover which best shows off the book.
  • Tirgearr has one of the fairest contracts for authors.

See what I mean? The product can be anything -- books, cars, pet supplies, pottery, dish soap... You just have to find your target audience and have an effective plan in place that's used consistently and positively.

Why should an author market and promote their own work. Simple. No one knows the book as well as the author.

  • The author is the creator.
  • The author knows all the ins and outs of each character, even the stuff that didn't make it into the story.
  • The author has labored over the creation of the story for months, or even years.
There is an intimate connection between the story and the author that only they share, so it makes sense that the author is the one to talk to people about it . . . and tell readers why they should invest in their work. It does the author, or the book, no good to put the book on the shelf and stand back. If no one knows it's there, it will be overlooked, as readers are attracted to authors who are actively telling people about their books.

Did you know you can market and promote in the same message? Here are some examples of how to market and promote --

TWITTER

First - Keep it short. Twitter only allows 140 characters...not words but characters. What does 140 characters look like? This -- This is what 140 characters looks like. This is what 140 characters looks like. This is what 140 characters looks like.  This is what 140 ch

  • Your book's cover
  • A buy link with price
  • A recent review quote

Regarding the cover image -- Images do count toward your character total but only a small fraction

Regarding buy links -- Use a link shortener where possibly, like bitly.com

Regarding price -- Always tell readers the price, especially if it's on sale

Regarding quotes -- Be as brief as possible, so pull a short line to fit in with the space you have left

Your tweet will look something like this --


You'll see in the above example --

  • Who (Tirgearr)
  • What (Just Desserts)
  • When (Valentine's Day)
  • Where (URL...note the bitly shortcut)
  • and Why (It's Free)
  • And the cover is prominent on the page

FACEBOOK

Firstly, you have more room in a Facebook post, but you still want to keep it short and sweet
  • Your book's cover
  • Book blurb (or short chapter sample)
  • A buy link with price
  • A recent review quote
Regarding the book blurb -- Try keeping it as short as possible. If you're selling through Smashwords, they only allow 400 characters, which really gets to the bones of the story. Use that blurb, unless your original is a similar size.

Alternative to the blurb -- Choose a chapter sample. Keep it around 500 words. Pick something pivotal or exciting to get interest.

Regarding buy links -- Always make it easy for the reader to find your book by providing the buy link. Don't make readers search. Today, we live in a one-click society, especially the more and more people go onto tablets and handheld devices. If you make them search for your books, they'll go to another author who makes it easy to find the book.

Which buy links to choose -- You can use a link to your own website, providing you have links there to where your books are sold. It's usually best to use your publisher's dedicated page for your book, as it will include buy links to all the formats for all reading devices. In a pinch, just use the Kindle link, as a majority of book buyers are on Kindle.

Regarding reviews -- Don't post the full review, as they often rehash the book before telling you what they thought of the story. The blurb is already included your buy link. Readers just want to know what the reader thought of your book. Keeping review clips short means you can add two or three.

Regarding price -- Always tell people the price, especially if the book is on sale

Your post will look something like this --


You'll see in this example also includes --
  • Who (Tirgearr)
  • What #1 (Just Desserts)
  • What #2 (review snips)
  • When (Valentine's Day)
  • Where (URL...note the longer link here because the site supports it)
  • and Why (It's Free)
  • And the cover is prominent on the page
Yes, marketing and promotion can be tedious, but it's essential if you want to up your game and start making money on your book(s). You can bet those people who are in the top 5000 ranks on Amazon are promoting like hell to get there. It's not enough to just have a great story that your publisher loves. Readers will not know your book is out there unless, and until, you tell them.

TIP FOR POSTING

Be sure you don't get into bad habits with your marketing and promotion --

  • Don't over simplify. Look at some of the messages crossing your newsfeeds to see which you are most attracted to and see how you can use a similar theme. Don't be afraid to try different themes. This is not a one-size-fits-all market.
  • Don't use the same chapter samples each time you promote or readers will get bored and find another author to follow. This is especially true when doing blog tours, which you should also be using as part of your marketing and promotion plan. When asked for chapter samples, always choose different ones to make it interesting for readers and give them an incentive to follow your tour. Keep them PG-15 (no sex acts if you write a genre where those are common, and no actual murders if you write those genres).
  • When using Twitter and Facebook, it's important to keep your posts unique and interesting too, as much as space allows. Don't include long passages. You just want teasers. As above, stick to around 400 words of something interesting or exciting.

These suggestions can also be used in other venues where you can promote, such as Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

Knowing how to use marketing and promotion is really pretty easy as you remember the what (promo) and why (marketing) factors. If all you do is promote your work (just showing the book cover, or just telling readers "I got another review" without supplying links), you're as good as just yelling at people and not saying anything. Just posting your book cover on your links doesn't do anything except "Look at my cover." Nice. Now what? You need to also add some of the above things to make it interesting for the reader to want to click through and buy the book.

Remember, as social media goes, everything you post will scroll off newsfeeds pretty quickly. You don't want to beat people over the head with marketing or promotion...you don't need to keep posting links every hour. But posting messages once or twice a day during pique traffic times can be highly beneficial. Don't forget timezones too, which differ from yours. If you're on the US east coast, much of Europe will be 5-6 hours ahead of you, and the US west coast will be 3 hours behind. And Australia is 12-14 hours ahead of you!

And equally important . . . engage with readers. It's not enough to just post information and links about your books and where to buy them. You must talk with people. It doesn't have to be just about the book you're trying to sell --

  • Talk about being a writer
  • Talk about the process you go through when researching
  • Post new reviews with links to the review (which are linked to the book if they want to buy it)
  • Do cover reveals for upcoming books, and include the link for preorders if available
  • Post teasers from within the story to gather interest
  • And talk to readers! If they post comments on your posts, thank them, or engage with them in otherways that sparks conversation. Conversation shows readers you're personable, friendly, and outgoing, which are all good ways to get people investing in your book too

Remember that readers who follow your author pages expect you to use those pages to market and promote your books, so be sure to give them that information. Don't be afraid you're spamming them. You're not. That's why they follow you. They do not want to hear political or religious rants. Use other pages for personal posts. Your author pages should primarily be dedicated to you the writer and your works.

Finally, whenever you post, be consistent, and be consistent with offering interesting and varied information in each post. Promotion is critical for discovery, and effective marketing is critical for building a fan base and readership. The bigger your fan base gets, the easier your efforts will become, because your fans will start talking about you and getting their friends and followers to invest in your books. It's hard work but gets easier over time with consistent and effective marketing and promotion.

We welcome any questions or comments!


Monday, 12 January 2015

Dos and Don'ts of Submitting

As we begin a new year, I know many of you are contemplating starting the submission process again after what has probably been a two month break -- November to participate in NaNoWriMo and then with most publishers being closed in December for submissions. And now that submissions are reopening at most houses, you want to get submitting.

WAIT!

Before you do, check out this handy list of dos and don'ts for submissions.

Don't -- Ignore submission guidelines

Do -- Follow submission guidelines because every publisher's guidelines are different.

Tip: By following guidelines, it tells publishers many things about a writer, including how well he/she pays attention, how well he/she follows instructions, how much care he/she puts into their work, how easily he/she will be to work with, etc. All of this also tells us how much he/she is dedicated to their work and their career.

If something in the guidelines is confusing, don't guess. Send a short query outlining your confusion, then submit accordingly. Never take a publishers response as permission to skirt the guidelines.


Don't . . . Uz txt spk n ur corsp.

Do . . . Use the English language as it was intended.

Tip: The above example is okay for your friends, but not for professional correspondence. Also, it doesn't matter if you use American or British spelling, just be sure you're consistent. Don't abbreviate and don't substitute numbers for words. Use proper grammar and punctuation. Be sure your submission is professional before you hit the send key.


Don't . . . Be disrespectful or insulting.

Do . . . Thoroughly read your email before sending to be sure you're conveying the right message, about you and your work.

Tip: Sometimes we say things that sound right in our head as we write them but aren't received how we intended. Look at your words from someone else's perspective to see if they may take those words the wrong way.


Don't . . . Harass the publisher.

Do . . . Follow submissions guidelines regarding follow-up queries.

Tip: If the submission guideline says the house will respond within a given time, allow that time to pass before you send a follow-up. Send a short query asking for the status of the book. Be sure to give the book title, author name (pen name if you also mentioned that), and date you sent the work. Asking, "Are you publishing my book or what?" will almost always result in rejection of the work.


Don't . . . Send multiple books.

Do . . . Send the first book in a series, or your best work.

Tip: Never send submissions for every book you've written. The publisher will only look at the first submission they receive and delete the rest. If they ask to see something else, only send what they ask for . . . second book in the series, or your next best book if you write single title.


Don't . . . Get on a publisher's black list.

Do . . . Behave professionally.

Tip: By being friendly, positive, gregarious, helpful, etc., this ensures the publisher will become more endeared to you and see you as a professional and forward thinking writer.

And if you're offered a contract, never tell the publisher you're going to wait to see if other offers come in. Simply ask the publisher if you may have a week to consider their generous offer. You will almost always receive a positive reply and agreement. You do not have to tell them why you need the time. Do with it as you will. But never insult the publisher by saying you're waiting for a better offer. If you have a contract offer in your hands now, either take it or don't, but never insult the publisher. Should you ever submit other work to that house, you will find that bridge will have already been burned.


Don't . . . Get insulted over rejections.

Do . . . Take rejections as an opportunity to learn.

Tip: If your work is rejected, the publisher my tell you why. Use those notes to improve on those areas pointed out to you. You'll find in most cases that it's not that your book isn't any good, but that it's just not ready for the submissions process. You may have missed something in your excitement to submit. Be patient and take some time re-reading through your work. Work with a critique partner who will give you honest and direct help with your work. Then take your newly polished book and start submitting again.


Once you've emailed in your submission, take a break. Play it cool for a while. Be patient. And if you've done everything right, you just may see that contract in your email box!


Take a look through some of our other articles about preparing the best submission --

Top Three Things to Get A Publisher’s or Agent's Attention

Punctuation Matters

Writing to Tell vs Writing to Sell

Good Editing is Your Ticket to Success

Getting it Right, Now Write

* Submissions open at Tirgearr Publishing from 13 January 2015! *

Good luck!