On Your Mark: Marketing Your Novel (Part 2)

We're back talking MARKETING with Janice Hardy, author of the MG Healing Wars trilogy and dispenser of writing wisdom through her blog, The Other Side of the Story. Yesterday Janice gave examples of her Marketing Copy and showed how to take advantage of marketing opportunities, the importance of having a website & business cards and the necessity of creating blurbs to assist in marketing and sell books. 

Over the course of selling three novels, Janice has tackled many aspects of marketing and has more to share, so I'll turn it over to her now. You can find PART 1 of this marketing post HERE. 

OTHER MARKETING OPTIONS

Swag

I get asked for swag all the time from bloggers doing giveaways for their readers. Having things on hand helps. Let’s go through the more common ones:

Bookmarks: Very handy for swag, though I didn’t find them that beneficial for bookstores or conferences. Everyone is handing them out there and they usually wind up stuffed in a bag or pocket.
Postcards: Swag friendly and handy to have to put on the “freebie” tables at conferences. I’ve also found them great for school visits because the kids love to get autographs.
Pencils: I found color shifting pencils that fit the theme of my book. Great fun.
Buttons: I’ve yet to do these, but I’ve seen other authors do it. My husband still has one from a book festival pinned to his backpack.
Magnets: Just like buttons, a handy giveaway for both bloggers and events.
Books: Yes, books can be swag. I get asked for books for giveaways. Sometimes they’re in combination to a guest post or interview, other times it’s a charity or special event. But it gets your book out there and all you have to do is send it.

Blogs, Blog Tours and Guest Posts

Blogging is a lot of work and takes dedication, so unless this is something you enjoy doing, I’d skip it. What? Sound crazy? Don’t authors have to blog? Nope, not at all. There are so many blogs out there that it’s impossible to keep up with them all. And the more I talk to readers, the more I hear how they don’t read author blogs very often. Writers are the most frequent readers of other writers’ blogs. If you enjoy it, do it, but don’t feel you have to. What matters more is having a way to connect to your readers. (More on that in a minute.)

Blog Tours are also a ton of work, but they can be very beneficial. A lot of it depends on your target market and where you do your tour. If you’re touring on sites that reach your readers you can tell a lot of folks about your book. If not, you won’t. I did a large tour for my second book (Blue Fire), but I toured on fellow writer and book blogs. Since my readership is middle grade, I didn’t see a spike in book sales. So while the tour was beneficial in other ways, it didn’t appear to work to sell more books. But others have had great success with it because their readers were the ones who found those tour posts.

Guest posts (like this) are great ways to expand your readership if you blog, but they may or may not improve book sales. Again, it depends on who you’re reaching with those guest posts. And what your goal of the guest post is. I promote my writing blog as much as I promote my novels, so guest posts are very effective for the blog marketing side of it.

Making a Connection to Readers

The most important thing is to find a way to connect to your readers. They want to be able to interact with you in some way. Be that a blog, a website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or whatever, pick something you can keep up with and enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it and it’ll be a waste anyway. Social media works when you get engaged. If you’re not engaged, it’s just more spam.

Personal Appearances

Book signings are probably one of the first things you think of when you think “author appearances,” but they aren’t what they once were. Before the web and social media, an event was the only way you could interact with your favorite authors. Now, not so much. The downside to book signings is that people usually only go to them if they’re already a fan (or they happen to be in the store while you’re there). You get a chance to make a connection (which is great), but how many new fans will you attract? Odds are not many. Doing them can be fun, but don’t feel you have to do them to be successful.

I feel reader related events are a much better way to reach readers, and this is where I’ve been focusing my efforts lately. Book festivals, conferences & school visits if you write for those age groups. Whenever I’ve been in a situation to tell people about my books, with my books for sale right there, I sell books.

This is also why it’s good to have that marketing copy handy. I keep a spreadsheet of events for the year that might be beneficial for me to attend, and when they’re open for author submissions, I can quickly and easily put together a proposal and send it in.

If you want to do events (not everyone does and that’s okay), you might consider putting together a variety of proposal packages. I have five different workshops ready to go so I can jump when opportunities arise. For example, this past week the call for proposals for the 2012 RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference went out. I was ready and zipped off a few session ideas to them. Even better, writing the proposals helped me develop that skill, so I’m able to more quickly write a specific proposal when needed. As I said, opportunities are everywhere, and sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to take advantage of them. You hear about a great event nearby and find out it’s the last day for submissions, you don’t have a lot of time to write a proposal.

Make an Offer

Marketing is about getting out there. Spamming folks about your book doesn’t work, because we get spammed by so much already. But if you have something to offer, you stand a much better chance of making that all-important connection. Entertain, teach, inform, support, whatever works for you. Network and build a community, both of fans, readers, and fellow writers. Give more than you take, and you’ll see much better results.

The sad truth is no one knows for sure what works and what doesn’t. Worse, it’s different with every writer. Do what you enjoy and what allows you to connect with your audience, and you’ll be doing the right thing. 
~~~

Okay Janice, my brain is spinning! Again, thank you for sharing your Marketing observations--you've given us a lot to chew on, and challenged some of the 'set beliefs' we may have had about Marketing. I love that. :)

I think the issue of spamming is something that hurts us all, which is why offering information on Marketing is SO IMPORTANT. Many people spam because they don't know what else to do...and they think that in a busy Social Networking environment, they need to make lots of noise to be heard. Unfortunately this only turns people off. Post like this can help us from making mistakes as we launch our own marketing efforts, so again THANK YOU!

MUSERS! Have you thought about marketing yet? If you're an AUTHOR, what's been the most successful way for you to reach your reading audience? Please share in the comments so we cal all learn together!

If you love Magic, Fantasy, Teamwork and a Hero torn between right and wrong who is up against impossible odds, you'll love Janice's MG Healing Wars Trilogy. Do check it out!

Missed PART 1 In this Marketing Series? Click HERE!

Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE, and her newest release, DARKFALL. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. You can visit her website, chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.

27 comments:

Clarissa Draper said...

This is really good. I'm getting into the marketing phase now for my book coming out and I'm always looking for ways to market without it being a waste of time for both my blog readers and me. Thanks for this. I'm going to save this.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This has got to be the best series I've read on Marketing a book. Thanks, Janice. I'll be at the 2012RWA nationals, and look forward to attending your session (my fingers are crossed for you).

(ps. my 9 year old, who's a reluctant reader, started The Shifter last night, and asked me to tell you that he already loves the book.)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the additional tips. They are so helpful. I wouldn't have thought that postcards could be so useful. Love the pencil idea.

How many ARCS and/or books were you able to get from your publisher? Did you feel the book giveaways garnered more excitement on the blogs you were interviewed on or did a guest post?

Thanks for the tips on school visits, festivals and conferences. It makes me nervous to think of speaking in public (how can that be true since I'm an attorney?) but I think your suggestions to do more of them are right.

Bish Denham said...

With all of the blog tours I see around I was a bit surprised by your observation. But it makes sense. An author would be in essence preaching to the choir.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks so much for these ideas Janice, and Angela for hosting.

I like the idea of business cards and will go about getting some made. My mother, believe it or not, said she was having dinner with her "club" the other night and one of the ladies asked about my writing. My mother said I was published, and of course the woman asked, "oh, where, when, how". I WISH I had had the business cards so Mom could have whipped them out. That would have been a sale, or at least a look-see for sure.

Traci Kenworth said...

Once again, terrific article. Love
the tips!! Very marketable ideas.
Something every author needs to be
aware of. Thanks!!

Rachel Harris said...

ANother great post! I love the 'what works, what not so much' approach, and I totally agree. It's important to know that what works for some authors, specifically other genres, doesn't necessarily work for YA authors. We are all trying to reach different markets. Thanks so much for sharing ladies :-)

Kelly Polark said...

Excellent ideas! Wow- jam packed with info. Thank you, ladies!

If by chance you are overloaded with bookmarks (yours or others you picked up), take them to the library to put by the check out desk. Teens and preteens will pick them up and that's free advertising right there for you or your author friends!

C.R. Evers said...

Great info! I'll have to bookmark this for the day that I have a book to market!

Thanks guys!

Stacy Green said...

This is great. I need to read yesterday's post as well. I'm just getting into the query phase, but a lot of agents and editors want some sort of marketing plan, so it's been on my mind.

Thanks so much for sharing this info, Janice.

Talli Roland said...

Wow, what a great round-up! Fantastic. Thanks, ladies.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

My first book doesn't come out until January, but already I've had four speaking engagements locally -- two schools, one teacher's conference, and one library. My background in education has helped, but so has just getting out there:

I left an ARC at my local library which led to the talk there.
Through my involvement with my local SCWBI, a professor asked me to speak at the teacher's conference.
I dropped postcards in the mail to local schools.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Love the sound of Janice's book. Thanks for the excellent marketing tips.

Loree Huebner said...

All great information! Thanks!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow, I'm overwhelmed. Between yesterday and today, there is so much info--GOOD INFO--to take in. Truly EXCELLENT series of posts. Thank you!!

SP Sipal said...

Engagement is the key in so many ways, not just in promoting our work, but in writing it and involving the reader as well.

Thanks so much Janice for a fabulous list and analysis!

Southpaw said...

Buttons are a great idea. People tend to wear them rather then stuff them in a drawer or toss them. Then you get more advertising that way!

Thanks for answering my question yesterday.

Lynn Dean said...

Excellent info! It may take me a while to process the new ideas, but here are a few that have worked for me:

As some others have mentioned, it helps to build on a platform you have already established. If you're a teacher, offer to make a special presentation. If you're a library regular, do a reading. I've built on past experience as a speaker in a niche market. My historical novel is set near a popular vacation site, which opens opportunities to speak to groups who are already interested in the area. Speaking engagements always create a spike of interest for me.

Love the idea of autographing postcards. I discovered that a 6x9 book cover is the same ratio as a 4x6 photo. Many photo processors offer "Prints for a Penny" promotionals. Adapt a jpg of your cover to include info about where to order (or, better yet, a QR code), and this is a good way to get economical, professional-looking handouts of your cover image. Must say, though, that while the exposure was beneficial, I saw no direct increase in sales.

If you want a web presence without the effort of a blog, a Facebook fan page can be adapted to create a landing page for each book. A tiny url can take browsers there, and you can update the status occasionally as desired. One author I know even lets her characters "post" from time to time. This is something I'm working on. I'll let you know how it comes out! :)

Christina Lee said...

WOWEE--this is EXCELLENT! Thank you for doing this series!

KarenG said...

Great tips and a very wise and helpful approach to marketing!

Becca Puglisi said...

Oh my gosh. More. Great. Stuff. Thank you so much, Janice! I have no idea what to do with this right now, but when the time comes, I know it will come in handy.

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks so much all! And apologies for not commenting yesterday, I was at a school visit all day. :)

Stina, oh cool! I hear from a lot of reluctant readers who like the series, and I'm actually planning a series just for that market. Crossing my fingers for RWA as well :)

Natalie, the postcards surprised me. The first set I did seemed a wasted, but then the first school visit I did, kids were asking me to sign sheets of paper and folders. Next visit I brought the postcards (I got a metallic sharpie to sign them with) and they worked out perfectly.

I got about 6-8 ARCs for each book, though I also sent a list of people to send ARCs to. A few times I asked for more and they sent me what they had left. As for books, I get a free case of each. I use most of those for marketing-related things.

I think the book giveaways help drive traffic. But it also depends on how much the hosting blog markets themselves. If no one knows about the giveaway or the guest post, you'll get fewer readers. But giveaways do seem to get RT'd so they get out there.

I'm actually terrified to speak in front of folks, but I know I need to. I LOVE talking to people though (I think my fear is the "giving a report" thing) so I do very short intros and open it up to questions. Interacting with the kids is much more fun for both of us and I don't get nervous. And I'm better when I'm teaching and interacting than just standing there. Like marketing, speaking seems to be about finding the thing you're comfortable with and making it work for you.

Bish, I think my tour just didn't hit the right readers. I know JA Konrath had tremendous success with his from a few years ago.

Anne, that's a perfect example of why cards are so handy. My family carries them for me, too :)

Kelly, great idea about the library, thanks! I have an event at our local library in a few weeks, so I'll have to drop some off.

Caroline, that's awesome, grats! SCBWI is a great resource. My local chapter is just fantastic.

Lynn, great ideas, thanks!

kathrynjankowski said...

You are so generous to share this, Janice. Thank you and thanks to Angela for hosting!

Arlee Bird said...

Great marketing tips. So right about the spam issue. You make a better impression when you make your prospective audience feel like you're providing them something they want or like they've invited you and not that you've forced yourself on them.


Lee
A Faraway View

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Great advice. I especially like what Janice said about an author doing what she enjoys and what allows her to best connect with her audience.

In terms of reaching audiences, I've found that teaming up with other authors to promote as a group rather than solo has been the most beneficial.

Jan Markley said...

Great posts - both part one and two - on marketing. it's a good round up of what's tried and tested. I love the idea of having a few different presentation proposals ready for when the opportunity arises.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Great posts! I think reaching the MG/YA market is particularly hard (MG most of all) - more often you are reaching gatekeepers. I've found networking with the local library pays great dividends (and they order books!). I've also started teaching workshops to teens (my target audience). I love your insights about swag! I usually have bookmarks (rather than business cards), but I hadn't thought about autographs.

Thanks for sharing!

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