Marketing Accountability

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Marketing tip # 5 Be accountable

I hate the idea of marketing. I’ve already mention how little I know.  One thing that is keeping me on task is having someone to be accountable to. She checks in with me every week to see how my marketing is going.

She is also doing research, searching for the best marketing options for me.  I don’t have the time or the inclination to figure it all out on my own. Erin is a godsend and I am grateful. She is a writer and aspiring novelist. But your marketing accountability person need not be a writer.

Your spouse, a family member or friend can be that person. It is so easy to let life interrupt your marketing goals. Knowing someone is going to ask about your progress and meet with you to achieve them can be the perfect catalysis.

Don’t settle for just anyone. Avoid the too helpful and bossy. They love to fix things. They’ll take over and make you crazy.

Instead find someone you feel comfortable with. And who understands your project and listens to what your endgame is.

Questions to ask yourself

Do you trust their counsel?

If they see you are going over budget and their suggestion is to trim it. Could you receive that sort of advice from them?

Do they respect what you do?

If your spouse, friend or family member doesn’t think being a writer is a real job why would you ask for their help? Look for people who admire your tenacity for taking on the hard task of writing a book. They will be excited to help you market it.

Are you open to criticism from this individual?

How the two of you relate can make or break your success. Criticism is not the same as counseling. Criticism may not come with an alternative solution.  Can you receive their criticism and evaluate the bones to find the truth behind the sharpness? If not, your stress levels are going to wreak havoc on your decision making.

 Do they keep their commitments?

I’ve known people who say yes to every project. But rarely finish any of them. The committee member who shows up once full of ideas. He never appears again until the celebratory banquet.

 Can they agree to disagree and work with you, anyway?

After carefully considering the counsel or criticism, you still decide to do it your way. will they walk away or stand by you? This is your show, not theirs. Your reputation and success are on the line. Can they stay supportive in the background and let your choice play itself out?

Once you’ve found that person treat them with the same respect and consideration you want for yourself. Together with the aid of your launch team you should create the right amount of buzz to push your sales consistently forward.

 

Do you have a marketing accountability partner?

 

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Learn What You Don’t Know

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Marketing tip #4 Learn Stuff

To quote Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS) when he tells his agents to investigate. “Go! Learn stuff!” They need to do interviews, research facts, and revisit the crime scene and evidence. This same directive applies to marketing. When it comes to marketing “we don’t know what we don’t know.” And for me, there is a gob of stuff I don’t know.

I just spent time building my author page on Amazon. Once you get in there it is a step by step process. Clear instructions and examples helped me put all the components in place. Then I came to the part where I could add my blog address. I know my URL. It’s http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com. But the site asked for my RSS. Without it, my blog post would not be part of my author page. What is an RSS and how do I find it? I didn’t have time to email a friend and ask for instructions. As I pondered this, the words of a young member of my critique group came to mind. You can find anything on YouTube. Thank you, Erin. So, I googled “how do I find my blog’s RSS.” Voila! I clicked the first reference. A blog about it with a—wait for it—YouTube link at the bottom to find your RSS for WordPress blogs. The RSS for WordPress blogs is simply—feed. You add a forwardslash and the word feed. Other blog servers have different RSS that must be added after your URL. I didn’t bother to learn those. Sorry! I’m sure there’s a YouTube video for those as well.  So, my URL with RSS looks like this. http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com/feed. I learned what I needed to know.

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Learn what you don’t know

Educate yourself about any social media you don’t know. I’ve used Facebook for years. Twitter is fairly new for me. I’ve been reading blog posts about hashtags to figure out how best to mark my posts. Twitter is an awesome place to market because your tweets go out live to every one of your followers and on feeds that match your hashtags i.e. #amwriter. You can retweet the same thing often because unlike Facebook people usually don’t go back once a week to scroll through what they missed.

I accidently got a Pinterest account. How can you accidently sign up for one? I needed a picture for my blog. Signing up gave me access to all those Pinterest pictures from various boards. Now I have Pinterest and their admin constantly emails me boards I might like to pin to my site. I need to learn more about Pinterest and create some boards myself. It is easy to use. My sister loves it. Other authors swear it is an awesome tool.  That brings me to the next point.

Make time to learn stuff early on

The learning curve for new things for some of us is long. I do better if someone talks me through steps while I do them. But I can follow step by step instruction, it just takes me longer. Learning how to create a blog site and figuring out how to reach more people has been a big learning curve for me. Blogging is part of my marketing toolbox. I have been using it for a few years. Years before my novel got a contract. Years before my novel is due to come out. This is key. Don’t wait until your book is out to learn stuff. That is like reading about CPR while your spouse is having a heart attack. Your novel may die before it has a chance to be part of many reader’s libraries.

 

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Be proactive

Ask marketing questions and do what can be done long before your book is published. I couldn’t create an Author page on Amazon or Goodreads before I had an ISBN number for my novel. But I could create a reader page on Goodreads and post lots of book reviews. Goodreads is a great place to engage with other readers. My Facebook friends who are avid readers follow me on Goodreads. Now I’ll build an author page on Goodreads and those same readers may follow me as a writer.

Pay for what you don’t know or don’t want to learn

There are wonderful people out there who can design bookmarks, flyers, and postcards for advertising in no time. Then there is me. I would rather pay for someone to do it for me than do it myself. As I journey through marketing my novel, Secrets and Charades, I will pay for others to do some of the work for me. Research which marketing people are right for you. Ask around for referrals. Learn stuff.

Share what you know

Gibbs always gathered his team for a briefing. Each agent shared what they found out and all the pieces were put together. Share the stuff you learn. Even if it’s little. There is always someone who doesn’t know what you know. Don’t be a negative Nellie. Be sure the things you bring to the cooperative marketing idea table are truly helpful. And if you must warn someone of a bad experience, package it in carefully chosen words. The right attitude may set the stage for you to be offered an opportunity to share stuff in a speaking or teaching venue in the future.

Tell me what you’ve learned about marketing along the way that made a difference for you? What services would you rather pay for? How do you learn stuff? I’m anxious to hear your answers.

 

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Writers Need a Marketing Budget

calculator-1464008_1280Marketing tip #3 Budget

This is not a fun subject to talk about. Have a budget. I am focusing on doing as much free marketing as I can for my new novel.  Free is always good. But to reach more readers, I am going to have to spend money. Gone are the days where the publisher paid for all the marketing. My budget is small so I am going to be very careful where I place those funds. Every publisher has their own list of what that is so I won’t elaborate here.  If you are self-publishing then all the expenses of the book fall on you. A budget is even more crucial for self-pubs to stay on track with what needs to be done.

Free marketing

Facebook, twitter, and other social media are free forms of marketing. Just don’t make every post about your book. There’s an 80-20 rule. 80% of your posts is about other things; your characters, your setting, funny things, memes and photos, other author’s books, promoting other people’s endeavors and 20% talking about your new release and buy my book posts.

Word of mouth is free advertising. Encourage your friends, family and launch team to spread the word.

Costs

Marketing cost may consist of launch party giveaways, both virtual and live parties, bookmarks, postcards, flyers, ads. Other possible investments might be craft fair table fees and book trailers. Video trailers are becoming very popular but may not fit your budget.

Marketing never stops

I will need to continue to market after the initial sales. Funds from a portion of the sales must go toward ongoing marketing budget. Authors are in business. So, I better not use every dime of my royalties for household needs or a vacation.  A percentage must stay in the bank.

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Once that first book is out I will need to continue producing more books because the possibility of that one book becoming a best seller giving me millions of dollars is highly unlikely. So, I’ll need to budget funds for editing and advertising for those upcoming projects as well.

Test the waters

If one form of marketing doesn’t get me the results I desire, I’ll try another. I’ve been advised not to invest more than I am comfortable losing on any new method. Test the waters with the smallest possible investment. If I’m happy with the results I’ll invest more.

If your income exceeds your output, you are a success.

Don’t know what is a reasonable budget? Refer to my marketing tip #3. Ask author’s with good sales figures what they have done.

Final thought

No amount of budgeting will work if your manuscript is not well-written. Always make craft your number one goal. That said. Even a well-written manuscript won’t sell if it is not marketed well. Writing and marketing go hand in hand.

What kind of budget is working for you?

Where are your budgeted marketing dollars being the most effective?

Because I am new at this too I’d appreciate comments from readers about their experience.

 

 

 

 

Are You Participating

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Marketing tip # 2 Participate.

There is a learning curve in marketing. The less you know the longer the curve. Educating yourself before you even have a book to market shortens the curve by miles. The easy way to learn to maneuver the writer’s marketing journey is to participate in others’ journeys.

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Facebook Virtual Launch Parties reach across state lines.

I’ve participated in a few virtual launch parties, and its easier than I would have first thought. Now with Facebook live, it can be even more fun.  Lots of posting, trivia questions, and giveaways.  Even if you don’t win it’s a great time.  I haven’t had a chance to be on someone’s launch team and be part of the behind the scenes crew. But I’ve taken my own advice and asked a lot of questions from those who have.

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Beth Ann  Ziarnik participates in her live Book Launch with wonderful results.

 

 

Participate in live events

I’ve been to book signings and have supported authors when I can. I’ve stopped by author booths and craft shows and learned how effective this sort of event is.

Participate in Conferences

Going to and meeting fellow authors at conferences can help build a plank on your platform. People who provide information and help when you are published. Attend classes. Have lunch with a new friend. Thank speakers and teachers for their time and knowledge. They will remember you and may be more willing to lend a hand in promoting your work.

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I meet one of my favorite authors, Cynthia Ruchti at a conference.

Participate in the world around you

Writers are often solitary individuals. Keeping company with their characters and lots of books. Get out of your writing cave. Find friends who are not writers and do things together. Volunteer at church or organizations so people know who you are. If you are employed be sociable. These people are future book buyers. Friends are more willing to take a chance on your story even if it’s not something they would normally read. Those friendships are golden for free promotion.

How do you participate in preparation for marketing?

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You Gotta Ask

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Marketing tip #1  Ask

I absolutely hate to ask. Because I hate rejection more.

If you’ve been building a network with other writers, the asking is easier.

When my publisher asked me for a list of possible endorsers, my knees knocked. Then I recalled all those whose books I have reviewed and promoted.  They said anytime they could help me out they would and to just ask. So, I asked thinking I might get one or two. I got seven. Seven endorsers. Seven people who got a pdf copy to read and can easily do a review when Secrets and Charades is out. I secured Beta Readers the same way. Those awesome readers who look for typos and other weirdisms before it went to press. They too can post Book Reviews.

Phew! That wasn’t so hard.

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Another asking hill to climb

Ask people to be part of your launch team. That was a scary thought for me.  What if they say no. What if they say yes and really mean no. Helping other people promote their books is easy for me, but, promoting myself, not so much.  But I’ve been talking about my writing life with others on social media and in the real world. Gulp! Could I do this?

The easy way is to follow the good advice, the hard way is doing it my way.

I had to try my way.

An experienced author told me to send personal PM to Facebook friends. A personal ask.  But I was sure sending it out as an FB post would get better results. I got two. I got another at church because I asked her. That was three. I knew that was not enough. Fear of rejection nettled in my mind. I had to do this because well, I need help and my novel comes out March 15th.  So recently I sent out a lot of PMs and got 30. Wow! 1000% increase. Why? Because asking gets results.

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The scripture says “you have not because you ask not.” And as a mother, I often tell my children “Well, I can’t read your mind.” Often people think if you want my help you’ll ask for it. While those who need help, think people should just volunteer. We don’t want to volunteer and get rejected. (Do I see a theme.)

I’ve done the do-it-my-way before, and it hasn’t had great results in other ventures in my life.  Yet, I still struggled getting out of my comfort zone and doing things differently. It does take a village of helpers to raise your new novel up through the rankings on Amazon and other retail sites. It takes stepping out of our comfort zone and asking for help.

 

How many do I need on my team

Another wise author said you can never have too many team members. I think it is because as in any volunteer endeavor there are the doers and the joiners. The doers are reliable. The ones who will go above and beyond to help you reach your goal. The joiners do less, but without them, everything would fall on the few.

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Keep asking

Ok, I asked for endorsements, beta readers and Stage Crew (What I am calling my launch team.) Now I’ll keep asking my publisher, acquisition editor and other authors what is my next step and how do I do it. I’ve never done a launch party of any kind. I’ve never done a book signing.  Podcast and building a speaking platform are foreign to me. I read articles and blogs on these subjects. I listen to others talk about their success. Mostly, I ask lots of questions. I’m not done asking questions. My plan: stay teachable and step out of my comfort zone and ask. After all I want to sell my novel. And asking for help with marketing is one way to reach that goal.

How are you about asking for help when it comes to marketing? What wisdom can you pass on? I really want to know, that’s why I’m asking.

 

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Snow Country Winners

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This announcement is late because choosing just one winner was hard. So, Kristin decided to have two winners for an autograph copy of Snow Country. Congratulations Karen Campbell Prough and Linda (There was no last name). I’ll be contacting you privately for instructions to receive your book. Happy reading.

Ten Tips for a Fresh Writing Start the New Year

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I’m posting a checklist for the new year. We all know we never get right back on the writing horse on January 2nd. It takes a bit of recovery time before we are ready to saddle up again.  I have ten points to consider. Things I may or may not get done but claim as my ideal goals for getting ready to write in 2017.  They are in no particular order so arrange them how you like.

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Prepare to climb back in the writing saddle.   photo from morguefile.com

1) Clean out old files and emails. I shared about email in a previous post. So, I’ll say no more. But we all have several copies of WIP at various stages. Delete all the old ones so all that remains is your present Work in Progress. If you must, create a new file for all those scenes you must delete but can’t bear to part with and trash the rest. (Side note: Rename your most current manuscript. Add Vol 4 or whatever so you don’t accidently delete the wrong one or for that matter email the wrong manuscript to a publisher.) If you still can’t bring yourself to delete old versions store them on a hard drive or stick and delete from your PC. After a while, you won’t miss them.  Now you can find your most current project in moments. (Be sure to back up often on an external drive or stick in case your computer crashes in 2017.)

2) Clean out all paper files in your office. Throw away any saved papers you know you will never use. If you haven’t read them this year you probably won’t. Reorganize books. Give away those you’ve read to others to enjoy. Share craft books with newbies and donate some to the library. Any magazines you received for query research purposes and never queried get rid of. Request a more recent copy if you still intend to query so you have the latest trending articles. Once you get started you will probably discover stuff you didn’t know you saved. Clean to your comfort level so your desk is cleared.

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Declutter

3) This is the time to create spreadsheets, databases or notebooks to record the sales, queries, proposals, submissions and upcoming blog post activities. Record keeping can be a bane or a blessing to a writer’s existence depending on how good we are at maintaining it.

4) Purchase or create calendars for daily, weekly and monthly goals. I once used a calendar that recorded hourly activity when I had a home business. For some writers, committing themselves to accomplishing a certain task in a specific time frame helps keep them on track. For me, I need a list and some monthly and weekly direction. I found a 5X7 planner that will work well for me.

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Buy a calendar that works for you.

5) Post inspiration around your workspace. Whether that’s sticky notes or posters. Words and pictures that remind us we can do this writing gig help so much. Upbeat music can help with focus as well.

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6) List realistic daily goals. I tend to write long lists that I will never finish in a day. I write down a marketing goal, an editing goal, a reading goal, and a writing goal that’s manageable. If I happen to get more done, that’s awesome. If I get less done, there are fewer items to add to the next day’s list.

7) Seek inspiration every day. Time in The Word and prayer. Moments to sit in silence and listen.

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8) Pencil in Me time. Time to do anything but write. Be sure to take care of your health. Keep doctor appointments. Go out to lunch with friends. Binge watch your favorite shows. Give your mind some downtown so when you return to your words, the creative juices are flowing.

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Take time for yourself.

9) Evaluate subscriptions. Which craft magazines and blogs do you read consistently and gain value from. Unsubscribe and don’t renew those not meeting that criterion. You won’t miss them.

10) Work smart with social media. Find ways to do more in less time to promote and interact with your readers. There are apps like Hootsuite that post in all your social media simultaneously. I want to learn more about using twitter and Pinterest this year.

Make a difference in 2017

These are my top objectives to restart my writing career in the new year. I hope these actions will make me more motivated and organized. The cleaning ones are always the hardest for me. Accomplishing even half of these goals will make a difference in how well I start off 2017.

What do you need to do before you climb back into the writing saddle? I love to ehar from  my readers.

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