Since I have no recipe for a Treat and no books for Titles or a Temptation or a Tease, I’m going to talk, at least briefly, about some marketing things I heard over the weekend. Sadly, the presenter didn’t really get into much depth, more a scattershot of “This is what I’ve done, am doing, some have worked better than others, your mileage may vary.” Still, there are some ideas I hadn’t considered and so I thought I’d pass them along.
1) Know where you’re going.
This first item is something of a no-brainer, but still something I need to remind myself about periodically. I start out a year with a publishing plan. But it’s a writing plan in that I know I want to write A, B, C books. But I tend to write the next book that’s calling to me and maybe not the next book that will make more money. Hey, yes, I’m a creative type but this is a job. My job. I’m in it to make money while I tell stories people want to read. Well, hopefully, they want to read!
2) Be aware of changes and be prepared to change.
The presenter, while she’d been making expenses with the books she was called to write, like many of us started seeing a slump in her sales. She writes inspirational women’s fiction. Her husband is in marketing so he started looking at what was selling. They found a genre that seems to be growing, she sat down and wrote a short novel in the genre and bingo. It’s taken off. This is one advantage to self-publishing. We can still write the books we’re called to write but as professionals, we need to be aware of the market and what’s selling. I did this with my MC series. I was really hoping to draw on the popularity of my Moonstruck books and branch out. It’s not selling as well as my Hard Target book, which rather surprises me. Maybe the market is glutted with MC romances. Who knows? Will I continue the Nightriders? Yes, because I’m called to write them. Will I write one of them next? Maybe not. I need to be poised for change.
What’s working? Her suggestion was to follow Mark Dawson and sign up for his Facebook class. I admit I sort of tuned this out as it sounded like a commercial but I may check him out. He’s supposed to be some great self-publishing success story bringing in an average of $40K a month. *shrug*
3) Who has money?
She veered off to an anecdote about a friend who writes inspirationals for kids. If you write true YA/MG books, the kids don’t buy them, the parents do. As a writer you need to connect with the parents–the ones who have the money. Solution? Hook up with home school groups. You have to think outside the box to reach those who will buy your book. You have to figure out what people want. (See comment above about different genres.)
a. Use techonology/social media. Facebook ads have worked for her though I hear mixed messages. Build your email list/newsletter list. Have a Facebook campaign where people sign-up for your newsletter. Find lead generation companies that can work with you on “premiums” if you don’t want to do it yourself. What are premiums? Just like the toy in the Crackerjacks box, she suggested giving something exclusive to those who sign up for your newsletter. Her first book is on permafree so she gives it away. She’s hired a company to send an email with the ebook attachment to those who sign-up. Once that file has been opened, the company sends a follow-up email offering a bundle of her books for sale. Other ideas are exclusive short stories that only those who sign up get. This is an idea I want to explore more.
b. Connections. Yeah, we all need them. Connecting with other writers in your genre and cross-pollinating on social media, for example. Plus interacting with your fans and readers on social media.
c. Street teams (I keep trying but like marketing, this is something I suck at) and Facebook partues. I’ve participated in several. It’s very intense for awhile and I’m sure I could do them better but that’s an idea, especially if several authors get together.
d. Verified purchases and reviews. She gives her street team/newsletter readers a chance to buy her new release at a reduced price so they show up as a verified purchaser when leaving a review. As a reward, when someone on her email list leaves a review, she sends them a hard copy of the book. She always makes her books available in print, no matter how short they are.
4) Cover styles.
This is always an on-going discussion on the published author loops I’m on. As a self-pubber, we can change the title easy enough. She suggests authors keep a pulse on the covers of the best-selling books in our genre and change things up if sales are slumping–or never really take off to begin with.
5) Keep writing. Yeah. Pretty much a no-brainer again. Conventional and practical wisdom all point to the fact that you need to build up your back list. There’s a lot to be said for this. When my 3rd Red Dirt book releases this summer, I’ll see a resurgence in the sales of the first two because new readers will find me. I’ve found this to be true of my series. Nothing wrong with stand-alones but for someone trying to find a niche? Yeah, I’d go with series.
And last but not least,
Know where you’re going. Know what you’re going to do, but keep in mind that plans are subject to change. See Rule #1 and Rule #2.
So, that’s the info I have. Anyone want to add to it?