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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Creating Memes to Promote Book Sales

I’ve been experimenting with memes. You know the words displayed in an artist frame. When I think of memes I think of comments added to the grumpy cat photo, funny kid’s pics and favorite actors. Recently, we’ve seen a lot of minion memes.

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This an example of a meme you  find all over facebook.

Statistically, people stop to read words placed on a meme more than words alone. If I want my Facebook friends and twitter followers to take interest in my book I need to engage them now. Memes are a fun and actually easy way to do it.

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I created this meme on Pic monkey. I found the picture on pixabay.com and the quote is my own.  You can change font size and color so it is easy to read.

I was surprised how easy. If you take lots of pictures or in my case, my husband takes lots of pictures, then you can search through those to start your creation. You can use free photo sites like pixabay.com and morguefile.com to find pictures. Or you can create colorful backgrounds for your quotes. Word is too painful to use to create anything artistic. Word Publishing or PowerPoint programs work pretty well. There’s a bit of a learning curve at least for me. My hubby uses them with ease.

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This is a quote from a blog post. Putting key phrases from blogs either as a meme on the blog or social media draws attention to your work. There is something missing can you tell what it is? Created with Picmonkey.

I like Picmonkey. It’s a great website. I use it for preparing photos I want to post, but you can also create memes for FB, twitter or blogs. The site has FB and Twitter templates. You can customize the size. Create collages and more. Choose between the free and paid versions. It’s easy to use. The free one is great. I am a subscriber now because the fee gives me more options. There’s a free trial available and step by step instructions.

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This meme has my website at the bottom. The missing component to the previous meme. Also be sure to give correct to the person or book the quote is taken from.  Created with Picmonkey.

My plan involves posting quotes from my novel nearer it’s launch date. For now, I can post memes with favorite quotes, verses and the occasional words of wisdom I create myself. There’s lots of background art to choose from to help set your meme apart. Great for me who has only a small amount of artist flare in my left pinky finger. The backgrounds help your Pinterest boards look fantastic. You can resize, sharpen or crop a photo. With the paid version you can create invitations, business cards and more.  So Cool!

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This is a picture I found that reminds me of my heroine Evangeline in Secret and Charades. This quote does not appear in the novel. I wanted to show how easy it is to add text to pictures with Picmonkey.com

Tell me how you create memes? Feel free to post your meme in the comment section and share what program you use. Together we can make this meme experiment easy for everyone.

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Three Free Marketing Platforms For Novels

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graphic from iconion.com

Again today I want to share a few tidbits from the writer’s conference I attended last week. No matter how often I attend a conference I always something to learn. Last week was my tenth consecutive conference. The industry is constantly changing. Besides writing skills, workshops including marketing skills. The internet has ushered in new ways and creativity in marketing.

More and more marketing is done by the writer, not their agent or publisher. So, we need to learn it, use it and find ways to do it cheaply. The biggest marketing tool you can use—and it’s free—is social media. I took a continued class on the subject taught by best-selling suspense author DiAnn Mills.

Wow! So much to learn.

The number one social media tool is Facebook. Twitter following a close second. And if you write YA, Instagram is the go-to media. YA readers apparently think Facebook is for their parents.

All of these are free to use. You can grow your following and get readers excited about your books.

The key is not to talk a lot about your book.

I saw that. Your eyes popped for a moment while you scratch your head. Why use social media to market your book if you’re not going to talk about it.

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Facebook

The formula is 1 to 5. For every five posts only one should be about the sale of your book. The other four should be about your reader. Memes of fun things. (A meme is a cartoon or photo with a quote on it.) Comments about your life.

Author of The Final Ride, Linda Yezak posts silly things about her coffee addiction. And Shelley Arnold, author of The Spindle Chair, shares her cooking fiascos. Others post word-for-word humorous dialog that took place with family members or co-workers. Sharing sales of other authors’ books or favorite books is another option. You don’t need an author’s page to do this. Although if your goal is over 5000 followers, you will need one. (Or if you want to separate your author life from posts only for family and friends on a closed group page.)

Twitter

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Twitter

Same formula applies. However, Twitter gives you an opportunity to reach all your followers with the same sorts of things in 140 characters or less. Twitter unlike Facebook, has no algorithm that selects which of your followers get your posts at any given time. So, Twitter is a better promotional tool for announcing book signings and speaking engagements. Don’t understand Twitter? Google has lots of how-to info. And You-Tube has step by step instructions.

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Instagram

All I know about it comes from watching the young people in my life share photos. I don’t write YA so I’m not adding that to my marketing arsenal. I want to focus on the best tools for my genre. Women’s Fiction and Romance readers are found on Facebook and Twitter.

This is only a small portion of what I learned about using social media for marketing. I’m still digesting all the information. Later I’ll post some other insights as I perfect them myself. (Maybe not perfect. Rather, figure out. J )

How is marketing through social media working for you? Which of the social medium platfrorm do you enjoy using? Share in the comments.

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Molly Jo Realy Explains Why Authors Need A Swarm

BUZZ.Bio.PicToday I have asked Molly Jo Realy, my fantastic editor to come and talk to us about creating a Swarm. Among her awesome skills is helping authors create a following on social media. Some called it a tribe. Molly Jo calls it a swarm. Let’s find out why.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your very busy life to pay my readers a visit. I’ve set out some brownies on my kitchen table, which is my favorite place to conduct interviews. Take a seat and help yourself. I heard you prefer coffee so I had my hubby make you some.

Thanks, Cindy. It’s true, I’m a coffee addict. Thanks for noticing.

First, explain what a swarm is and why writers need them.

Well, for starters, the word “Swarm” sort of just came to me. I was writing a blog post on the Do’s and Don’t’s of social media and I titled it “To Be or Not to Be”. It was at this time I also reconstructed my monthly newsletter and named it “Here’s the Buzz.” So the bee theme fell into place and once I realized that, it was a no-brainer to recognize my people as my Swarm.swarm of bees

A swarm of bees works together for the good of all and to support the Queen Bee in her goals. Other than the Queen, bees don’t really have a multi-tier hierarchy. They help each other and spread sweet nectar and pollen to keep their world going and growing. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

Bees communicate because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to build hives, discover new fields, or survive.

I’m not a Queen Bee by any means, and it’s my Swarm who keep me flying. They share my passion for writing and help create a social media buzz by telling others about my books, editing, mad ninja skills, and whatever else I share that they want to pass on. They communicate with me, telling me what works, what doesn’t, what I can do better. They are my foundation, my support. No Queen Bee is worth anything without a strong Swarm around her.bee-square

Why should writers bother with social media? Isn’t promoting our books the job of our publisher?

Not at all. First, most authors of our caliber are contracted through smaller publishing houses which rarely have their own marketing division. When a publisher signs you, they expect you to come “pre-packaged”, that is, with your own networkers and supporters. Your first source of honey is going to be your own hive. We are the first generation of writers to have instant access to the world via the internet. It’s integral to our flight that we know how to use it efficiently, and that includes interacting with and being responsible to our Swarm.

I’ve heard you have to post a lot and often on Facebook, Twitter and all those other social media sites in order to get noticed. Is that true?

Yes and no. 100% of any Swarm is found via a mix of Facebook and Twitter. All other sites are a good boost, but I recommend picking and choosing an amount you can regularly interact with. Some busy bees can manage many, others might want to fly closer to home. Remember the key word here is social. If you have a Swarm, you need to care for them. This means letting them know they’re good for you and your environment.

bees in hiveOn average, post three to four times daily, each day. And follow up. If a worker bee replies to your post, how long do you think he or she will stay in your Swarm if you constantly ignore them?

My sites of choice are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, for daily Swarming, and I visit Pinterest and Google+ a few times each week.

Also by sharing with your bees daily, it’s not such a heavy load.

Toss out a freebie or contest now and then. Post questions, quizzes, polls. Share their stories and reviews. Appreciate what they do on your behalf. If a bee tags you in a different hive, say thanks for the honey.

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Remember that even an angry bee can be beneficial, if handled properly. Let’s face it, sometimes bees sting. But that’s few and far between. The trick there is to acknowledge the hurt and move forward. Sharing someone else’s bad review of your book can start your Swarm buzzing on your behalf.

How do you keep the interest of your swarm and grow the numbers?

There are different analytic insights you can track on Facebook, your blog, etc., to notice which of your posts get the most interaction. Find your focus, and make a bee-line for it. Don’t fly all over the place, but direct your Swarm. My blog offers a plethora of topics, but the underlying theme is Faith, Family, Food, and Fun. There are subtopics like editing tips, social media buzz, Pinterest-worthy crafts. On Facebook and Twitter, I post short links, curate from other sources (foodie articles, Pinterest shares, writing and editing sites). Find the theme(s) that tie what you write with the people you want in your Swarm. Nature will take its course from there.

After you’ve told everyone on social media to buy your book what more is there to say?

First, I must say, never, ever, ever “tell” someone to buy your book. Your swarm should be with you from the beginning stages. Bees don’t move into a pre-built hive. They build it according to their Swarm specifics and the Queen Bee’s plans.

So start your Swarm early. Build your social media sites while you’re still writing your book. Share the flight. Some days you’ll have blue skies and tail winds, other days are stormy and all you’ll want is shelter. Let your Swarm be a part of the process. When your book is ready, your Swarm will be your first readers and buyers because they’ve taken the journey with you.

This doesn’t mean to spill all the beans. You don’t want to post chapters online or reveal the whodunit prematurely. You can definitely create a buzz with before-and-after actions. Share their reviews. Ask them to help set up book signings and author events.

Unless you’re a one-and-done writer, you’ll always have a need for your Swarm.

What if I don’t have time to deal with social media because my life is squeezed between my job and writing deadlines. Any suggestions?

I again recommend picking your location. Some hives are big, some are small. There are scheduling applications like Hootsuite that you can use to preschedule posts.

Besides social media are there other ways to create a swarm?

Most definitely, although it may be less noticeable as social media enables us to reach many people on a larger plateau quickly. Having said that, some Swarms are physically located. Ask your family and friends to join you for a potluck to update them on your writing progress. Find small groups where you can present your works: book clubs, church groups, writers meetings, craft fairs.

Is there anything more you would like to add about swarms that I forgot to ask and you feel is a need-to-know?

Remember to take care of yourself and your Swarm. And remember that bees move on. If you start with sharing recipes on Facebook, it’s not that sticky to change your post themes. Keep the sales pitch to a minimum (one in six posts). The rest of the sharing is meant to build relationships. Have fun with your hive!

If all you want is to sell books, just take out an ad in Sunday’s paper.

Molly Jo, you’ve been so helpful. Why not tell us a little about your writing projects and your editorial service and how my readers can contact you.

In addition to writing and editing, I’m the producer of the Firsts in Fiction Podcast where we talk weekly about writing fiction. I enjoy helping others develop a social media presence, cooking, and sharing life online.

My work in progress is NOLA, a location mystery set in New Orleans. It’s about a woman who’s so fed up with life she takes a trip and winds up in New Orleans where she gets caught up in a possible murder. She has to choose between returning to what she thought was a life worth escaping, or staying and embracing the chaos of new love and old wounds.

Thank you again. This has been fun, and the brownies were excellent.

You can contact me through the links in my bio.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this Beeutiful interview. I Beelieve we have all benefited from your wisdom.

About Molly

Molly Jo is a writer, editor, social media ninja, and producer of the weekly Firsts in Fiction podcast. She is the founder of New Inklings Press and author of The Unemployment Cookbook: Ideas for Feeding Families One Meal at a Time, and other books available through her website and on Amazon.

Her current work in progress, NOLA, is a location mystery set in New Orleans and is scheduled for publication in late 2016.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and her blog, Frankly, My Dear . . .

 

If you have any specific questions about social media or would like to share your experience please leave a comment below. I always love to hear from you all.

 

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