The Juggling Act of Marketing While You Write

I learned a lot from the publication and release of my first bookInstead of dwelling on what I did wrong or inefficiently, I’m focusing on improving those areas when Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over releases in April, 2015 via Barbour Publishing.

Authors on Facebook

Mention Tiny Excerpts from Your Work in Progress

For instance, while writing my first release, if I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have held my enthusiasm back. I would have let my natural flow of excitement transfer into some of my Tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn shares, and Pinterest pins. I wouldn’t have sold to people, but would have offered a few teasers, a new sentence, a punchy line taken from my project, while I was writing it, getting people interested early. Word of mouth is still the best marketing vehicle around.

I would have blogged about the process more. (Something I just started doing on my Writing Wednesday posts.)

Authors on YouTube

Open Yourself Up to Your Audience with YouTube Videos

I would have posted a few videos on YouTube about struggles, victories, disappointments, encouragements, life interruptions, cave-dwellings, along with other writing downs and ups. Adding more visual author media to marketing efforts enhances the experience for readers. This allows audiences to read tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, as well as words.

I would have listened to Michael Hyatt’s fantastic audio series, Get Published!, while I was writing, not shortly after my book released. Then I would have acted on many of his insider suggestions.

While I juggle writing, marketing my current book, pre-release marketing for my new one, family, friends, speaking, coaching, and the occasional unexpected crisis, I’m also celebrating a few things I did right on the first go around.

Michael Hyatt's Get Published

I Highly Suggest This Audio Series for Publishing and Marketing

I made new connections, and built some solid and life-long relationships with people who can benefit my writing career, but more importantly, are now my friends. We help each other, encourage, pray, and genuinely care about what happens to each other, more than we care about what happens with our careers.

I proved myself capable as a professional writer and marketer. Building credibility and practicing integrity at the foundation of your career provides a solid footing to propel you forward as you move ahead with new books, articles, and posts. I see myself as a slow and steady author, who will win the race through consistency and solid growth. I’d rather experience longevity, versus a fast start that sputters in a flash.

I made some marketing mistakes, but didn’t let them become catalysts for giving up. Instead, I evaluated where things fell apart, and used those insights to make informed decisions and new plans. Some things I need to cut out completely, but most only require a few tweaks, and my updated marketing plans will prove more profitable.

Believe GodBut the most powerful thing I did right the first time, and am continuing to do now, is this: I am not leaning on my own understanding. Instead, I am asking God where to invest my talents. Who are the readers? Where should I market? What is the best use of my energy? When should I time marketing efforts? How should I balance the juggling act of marketing while I write?

In the end, none of us knows the perfect marketing plan. But, those who succeed exhibit similar qualities. Guts, consistency, resolve, humility, a teachable spirit, listening ears, watching eyes, and a quitting-is-not-an-option determination. No matter how much juggling is required.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before about marketing?

How to Maximize Your Social Media Time

Early in my wanting-to-pursue-publication journey, I heard a woman give a talk about maximizing your time. She said, “Nothing you do should go to waste. If I see a movie, I’ll figure out a way to use it in my writing. I’ll write something about it.”

Social media conceptHonestly, at first, I did kind of give a big eye roll. Really? Nothing could be sacred, private, and free? Couldn’t my mind ever just have a void where I didn’t have to think about marketing?

Now, I might have changed my opinion on that somewhat.

Marketing is hard work. Author Richard Mabry once said to me, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” And this is the truth. When your book releases, there is usually a flurry of activity to launch your baby. But, there comes a time when you need to begin to focus on the next book while still keeping your other marketing activities going. This may be less about your book and more about growing your platform and social media presence.

Consider all your activities: can they aid in growing your social media? Can they give you a blog topic? Can something you do for fun give you a possible return on your time investment?

I recently read the book Fear Nothing, by Lisa Gardner. I wanted to read this book. Lisa is a favorite author of mine so I put most other books aside to enjoy her new releases.

On the marketing side, this is how I used my leisure time to help my social media.

1. I wrote a Goodreads review on the novel. This is good for authors. It gives people an example of your writing style and can help readers find you. After all, you likely write what you like to read.

2. I pinned it to Pinterest. Some readers/followers are more visual and I do find people repinning books from my boards.

3. I blogged about it– in two different places. My main blog is Redwood’s Medical Edge and it deals with medical accuracy in fiction. Fear Nothing had a character with congenital insensitivity to pain so not only did I blog about this particular medical disorder but I also did a post that was a review of the novel and some of its medical aspects. And now, I’m here blogging about how to use one activity to foster multiple marketing efforts. So, I guess that’s three blog posts.

Your activities should become the ultimate wardrobe, where all pieces can be mixed with one another. Ultimately, a book I read for fun ended up being used to build my platform (a medical nerd who writes suspense novels) and, hopefully, keep up interest in my social media.

What about you? In what ways have you used fun activities to maximize marketing efforts?

Should You Be On Pinterest? (Building a Social Media Platform)

Pinterest

The trouble with being a writer is that you have to write. That would seem desirable, but the writing I’m talking about goes beyond pounding out the next scene in my novel. Since becoming a published novelist, I’ve submitted–at the request of agents, editors, bloggers, and marketing personnel–guest posts, interview responses, pitch sentences, two-sentence blurbs, query letters, proposals, sample chapters, material to use for promotion, back-cover copy, tag lines, book club questions, and of course myriad versions of my biography. Add to this the need to devise creative updates for social networks, and you begin to see why a writer might groan.

Enter Pinterest, a social media platform that allows members to network with pictures more than words. Tweet This! I love writing and (go figure) even have a fondness for words, but I find Pinterest a breath of fresh air. As a virtual bulletin board where users pin images, Pinterest frees me to express my creativity without having to hurt my brain with so much thinking. Since women primarily frequent Pinterest, spending more time on it than on other networks, it provides another benefit. Book buyers are predominantly female. (This varies by genre.)

With 4 million active daily visitors and as the fastest-growing social media site (now second only to Facebook), Pinterest is a site many writers should include in their social media platforms. Tweet This! Since I began to take Pinterest seriously, it’s moved to the number one referrer of traffic to my websites.

I won’t go into detail on how to sign up, since Pinterest makes it easy. If you want advice, visit the Pinterest Help Center and enter “how to sign up” in the search box. I suggest you set up or convert to a Pinterest business account. This will allow you access to account analytics once you verify your website for Pinterest.

Be sure and include your author picture in your profile. Also set up a branded bio. This is a little challenging since you should make it brief so it will be read. Every word needs to pull its weight. To see an example, visit the Pinterest page for Janalyn Voigt. While you’re there, take a look at my boards to help inspire your own.

Pinterest Goodies

After you’ve created your account, filled in your profile information, and verified your website, you should visit Pinterest’s Goodies page. There you’ll find instructions on how to:

  • install the Pin It button (for Google Chrome) to your bookmark bar.
  • drag the Pinterest Bookmarklet to your toolbar (click the red link under the Pin It button copy in the sentence that says: “Looking for the Pinterest Bookmarklet?”).
  • add a Pin It button to your site.
  • make a widget for your site.

Creating Your Boards:

On your profile page, you’ll be able to create boards. Here are some suggestions:

  • Name a board for your blog or website.
  • Create a board with the title of your book(s).
  • Name a board for the genre(s) you write.
  • Think up boards that will reinforce your brand.
  • Design boards to attract your target audience.

Pin Three Ways

  1. Click the Pinterest bookmarklet while at a website that grants permission to pin its images and select the image you want to pin.
  2. Under your image in the Pinterest toolbar you’ll find a dropdown menu. Click “Add Pin” to upload an image from your computer or enter the URL of a picture you have permission to pin.
  3. Use the Pin It button on a website.

What to Pin

  • Pin your own original images with a link back to your site.
  • Pin images from sites that state they allow pinning to Pinterest.
  • Pin public-domain images.
  • Create and pin your own collages using sites like PicMonkey.com and your own images.

What to Do on Pinterest

  • Follow other people. You can choose to follow all boards or an individual board. As with all effective social networking, be sincere. Tweet This! When you make the effort to follow people, some will follow you back.
  • Repin from boards of people you trust. Always verify that the link goes where the image indicates it will and that the original site gave permission to pin.
  • Like pins others post. This brings you to their attention.
  • Comment on pins. To comment, click on a pin and the comment box will be in the enlarged image that displays.

Pinterest and Copyright

First, I am not a lawyer and don’t mean the following in any way as legal advice, but here is how I handle myself on Pinterest. I’m careful when pinning images that I don’t own to make sure the website gives explicit permission to pin to Pinterest in its copyright policy. I don’t take the existence of a Pin It button as permission. I’m aware that even if I own a photo, some things like private works of art or images of people who have not signed a release for me to post their photos, for example, are off limits. I prefer to take my own photographs and create my own infographics. When in doubt, I don’t pin.

Pinterest is a relatively painless way to network that is actually a lot of fun. Tweet This! It can help you keep track of research while simultaneously drawing readers to your books.

EXCLUSIVE LIMITED OFFER FOR READERS OF WORDSERVE WATER COOLER

Solving the Pinterest Puzzle for Sidebar

Learn more about using Pinterest to build your social media platform and readership. Sign up for Solving the Pinterest Puzzle course that fellow Wordserve author Melissa K. Norris and I offer as TriLink Social Media Mentors, a bargain at just $27.77.

Related Posts

Build a Social Media Platform: The First Step May Surprise You

4 Pillars to Build an Effective Social Media Platform

Build a Social Media Platform: Your Facebook Page

To Tweet or Not to Tweet (The Social Media Platform Question)

Are You Pinterest Savvy? 1 Million Followers in a Year

Pinterest is one of the fastest and biggest growing social media sites. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, it uses pictures to connect with other people. It’s a virtual pin board that allows you to share things with your followers and “repin” photos from others onto your own boards. If people like what you’re pinning, they can choose to follow your boards.

What does this mean for authors?

Pinterest has over 4 million daily users and is now the 3rd biggest social media site. You might be wondering how to harness the power of Pinterest. I just finished reading  Pinterest Savvy: How I Got 1 Million+ Followers (Strategies, Plans, and Tips to Grow Your Business with Pinterest) * by Melissa Taylor.

As an author, I know the power of Pinterest. I’ve been using Pinterest for about six months and other than Google, it drives more traffic to my website than any other social media site, including Facebook. But I wanted to up my game and Melissa’s book gave me some great tips and new ideas.

1. Be as specific as possible with your board names and descriptions. One of my boards was titled Best Recipes. I feature my own traditional from scratch recipes on my blog and these are some of my biggest traffic pins. However, after reading Melissa’s book I changed it to Best from Scratch Recipes and altered the description to include key words of traditional, from scratch, home-baked, etc. You can check out my boards at http://www.pinterest.com/melissaknorris

2. All pins are not created equal. When creating “pins” to be pinned from your website, there are some things you need to know. One, longer photos, rather than wide, show better on Pinterest. You need clear and easy to read type. Melissa gives great examples of what makes a good pin vs. an okay one. This makes a difference! I re-did some of my photos, repinned them, and they were reppined far more than the original version. Here’s an example of a good pin.

3. Protect yourself. Know copyright laws. Read the terms of use on Pinterest. Don’t repin any pin without following it back to its original source. Does the website give permission to “pin”? Is there a pin-it button next to the photo? If not, don’t repin. I recommend emailing the blogger to ask permission. Most will say yes, it only takes a few minutes, and protects you from a lawsuit. It also promotes good will. I emailed a blogger to ask if I could use her photo in a post on my blog and “pin” it. She happily agreed, visited my blog, and shared it with her own readers.

4. Create pin worthy content of your own. Take your own pictures and create your own pins. (I use the free version of picmonkey.com) You don’t have to worry about copyright issues and you’ll become known for bringing new fresh content. You want to be known for creating content on your blog and on Pinterest, not just rehashing what everyone else is already doing.

For a free chapter download visit Melissa Taylor’s website. She also has free worksheets to help you maximize each chapter. Pinterest Savvy takes you through the first step of signing up for Pinterest to helping those who want to increase their following and are already familiar with the site. Having just finished Melissa’s book and implementing a few of her tips, I’ve increased my following by 50 followers in a little over a week. I plan using more of her tips shortly.

Another cool tidbit: Melissa’s book doesn’t officially launch until tomorrow, but she gave me permission to give Watercooler peeps a sneak peek. How cool is that?

*I used my affiliate link for Melissa’s book on Amazon. It doesn’t cost you anything more and I only recommend things I truly stand behind. To read my full affiliate disclosure go to the footer of my website.

Are you on Pinterest? What do you find the most daunting? How do you use your boards to promote your books and website?

How to Stage An Online Blitz

After spending five days eating, drinking, and sleeping (well, maybe not so much sleeping as lying awake with the brain on overload) the promotion of my free Kindle download last week, I’ve come up with what I call ‘Jan’s TIP’ for any writer planning a similar online marketing blitz.

T is for Timing.

Choose your campaign dates carefully. My book, A Murder of Crows, takes place in October and opens with a scarecrow display; picking an October date for the promotion was an easy choice. It also afforded me lots of tie-in opportunities: I could mention the book in response to any blog, Facebook or Pinterest item that was about Halloween or scarecrows. Think seasonally!

Timing is also about when you post on social networks. I read blogs on Social Media Examiner and subscribe to Rob Eager’s marketing posts, and I’ve learned the best days and times to post to get the most fan engagement: Wednesday through Sunday. I kicked off my promotion with announcements on Sunday and pushed hard with posts Thursday and Friday.

Finally, timing is about you, and how much time you can devote to managing your promotional campaign. I spent at least four to five hours a day online posting, emailing, commenting on blogs, updating lists of contacts and prospecting for new ones. I spent two more hours each day strategizing what to do the next day, exploring new markets and tracking sales/download data. If you want to run a successful campaign, it’s a full-time job!

I is for Images.

Research has shown that images are the keys to social network sharing. To keep posts fresh and continually attention-grabbing, you need to switch up the images you post. I developed six images to use during my five days of promotion, and changed the images I posted every day, with different short text messages. By the end of the week, I’d seen all six images reposted on different networks. It kept my message alive in the universe of Facebook and Pinterest, where the typical ‘life’ of a post is only three hours.

P is for Preparation.

I spent weeks – years, actually – preparing. I made solid contacts in my target audiences over the last few years and asked for book reviews and assistance in promoting my free Kindle deal. I put together a team of fans, reviewers, bloggers, and key influencers to help me focus on getting the word out the week of the promotion, and supplied them with my prepared images and text to use on their own networks. My list of websites and FB pages to contact during my promotion week numbered over 100 (and in the course of the week, it continued to grow as I stumbled on new connections – which are now part of my data base for future book promotion).

So that’s ‘Jan’s TIP.’ Take it for what it’s worth. For me, it was worth around 4000 Kindle downloads in five days…and a bump in the sales of other books in my series.

Do you have a tip for free ebook promotions?

Hello, Fellow Publishers!

I’m a publisher.

I thought I was just an author doing some social marketing, but thanks to what I’m learning from Beth Hayden’s book Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest, my whole perspective on my writing career is changing. Yes, I write mystery and suspense novels, but in support of that endeavor, I need to be creating and presenting content online that is meaningful and valuable for my customers. I need to give my social media friends and visitors what they are looking for, or as Hayden explains on page 61 of her book, “You need to make sure that every piece of content you publish either solves a problem for your audiences, or entertains them – preferably both.”

That’s a big responsibility. Every piece of content. We’re talking about images, information, links, comments – anything you publish anywhere on the internet that has to do with your writing. It’s all part of your ‘company.’ The really exciting part of using Pinterest as part of your company is that it allows you to get creative with visual content, which, psychologists tell us, can evoke emotional responses in a viewer. The bottom line is that by publishing the right images, you can build enthusiasm and loyalty in your viewers, which will help sell your product (books).

Culling through whatever is already on Pinterest boards, however, is not the way to find the ‘right’ images for your viewers, Hayden points out, just as consistently using someone else’s words doesn’t make your work original. Instead, put together your own content. That doesn’t mean you have to take a hundred photos or hire a graphic artist. It means you have to collect compelling images that represent your unique brand. (Be very careful of image copyrights.)

Do you write historical romance? Pin beautiful images of the places where you set your stories, or sketches of period clothing, or the flowers of the region – anything that helps your reader connect to your book. Think of it as publishing a behind-the-scenes guide to your story.

Do you write motivational memoirs? You could pin pictures of famous people who have overcome hardship, or framed inspirational quotes, or maps that trace incredible journeys. Think of it as pulling together an illustrated companion piece to your book.

The possibilities are limited only by your time and imagination, but if you keep focused on your ‘company,’ it will help eliminate some of the time-draining wandering we all do when we get online; if you’re collecting images of old barnyards for an Amish board, it will be a lot easier to not get distracted by all those cute animal pictures that pop up in the blogosphere. (If all else fails, put a sticky note on your computer screen that reminds you “No puppies!”) Make your publishing goals as specific as possible, pin appealing and evocative images on your boards, and Pinterest can become a great billboard for your books on the global internet highway.

Enjoy your publishing!

What are some examples of images that you have been pinning lately? Do you have any creative ideas for pins besides those I mentioned above?

Ten Steps to Writing While Raising Young Children

I put this in a ten-step program format because I’m a momma on the edge and I need some intervention. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m at the tail end of summer vacation, the kids having been home now–asking for stuff and what-not–for way too long. Or, maybe it’s because I’m getting closer to a deadline and I’m not as far as I’d like to be in the process. Who knows? I surely don’t. So, rather than losing my cool with my kids because they keep interrupting me, or putting myself in a self-imposed time out (let me tell you, ONE of us is going to take a nap today and I’m rooting for myself), I decided to sit down and be realistic about how to accomplish writing goals.

Step One: Get use to disappointment. I don’t really need to belabor this point, do I? No? Okay. Moving on.

Step Two: Learn to survive on twenty-percent less sleep. Look, even if you can skip this part, I’d like you to try it now and then because it’ll make me feel better when I accidentally fall asleep on the couch right after Dora utters her first, “Hola!”

Step Three: If you have to give your children chicken nuggets or hot dogs repeatedly for dinner, make sure you let them know you’re doing it because you’re cool and you want to make them happy, not because you forgot to go to the grocery store. Again.

Step Four: Learn to cut out superfluous and/or extra obligations. We’re kissing Steps Five, Six, and Seven good-bye. Boom. Done. That was easy.

Step Eight: Cry. This works especially well in my household, where I’m the only female on the premises. Rather than ask again, for the gazillionth time, to let me write for an hour, sometimes it simply suffices to squirt some tears. People run. Heck, they flee. Oh, and then there’s that whole crying is cleansing business. Whatever works, right?

Step Nine: Let me be very, very clear on this step. Pinterest is NOT your friend. It doesn’t love you. It won’t make the beds, do the laundry, or even write one word toward your goal. Pinterest is the devil, if the devil is over-achieving, craft-obsessed, baking frenzied, tool-belt wearing Supermoms. (OK, fine, I’m just jealous because I suck at all things crafty. Last week, the glue gun ended up in my hair. Details aren’t important. Let’s just say, the crying was real on that occasion.)

Step Ten: Make a habit of visiting homes of other moms, especially other moms who write. Boo-yah! You haven’t cleaned your windows since 2007, either! Is that jelly on your ceiling? I feel better already.