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?

Give ‘Em What They Want, Not What You THINK They Want

shop-vac-10-gallon-industrial-wet-dry-vacuum-925-40-100After fumbling around with social networking and reading every marketing article about it that I could get my hands on for the last year or so, I’ve distilled my promotional strategy down to a simple directive: give readers what they want.

I know that sounds obvious, but the tricky part is understanding the ‘what,’ especially once you realize that ‘what’ your readers want may not be the same ‘what’ that you THINK they want.  The key is taking ‘you’ out of the picture, so you can clearly see your reader without your own perspective distorting your vision.

It’s like reflective listening – you want to reflect back what the other person is saying without putting your own spin on his words, so you hear clearly what he said, and not what you think he said. Quick example of doing it wrong: my husband said he wished he’d taken music lessons when he was a kid, so I got him music lessons for Christmas. Two weeks into the lessons, he told me he didn’t want to continue.

“But you said you wished you’d taken lessons as a kid,” I reminded him.

“As a kid, yes,” he said. “But now I have other interests that I’d rather spend my time on. You interpreted my comment as a current wish, which it isn’t.”

Ouch. I should have gotten him the shop-vac he said he needed, which I thought was boring.

Same idea applies to your readers.

Pay careful attention to what they say, or in the case of social media, what they really like to see and with what they engage.

For instance, I thought that as an author, I should be posting on Facebook about my WIP or upcoming events. Those posts, I’ve found, get little notice.

But if I post a photo of me getting kissed by a French bulldog, or a goofy homemade video of me singing (badly) about the cold weather, I get comments galore. Clearly, on Facebook, at least, my writing news is not very interesting to my readers.

Writing news is appreciated very much, however, by my newsletter subscribers, so that’s where it now goes, along with on my website. As for LinkedIn, I post both events and business-related material, such as when my books get a rave review or included in an industry-recognized blogger’s post.

For Twitter, I post quick links to interesting material in my subject areas (birds, nature, dogs, humor) or retweet entertaining posts, because I’ve found that those kinds of communications are most appreciated by my followers. Because it’s a fast and short exposure, I tend to use Twitter more than any other social media platform as more of a shotgun approach – post and hope it spreads wide and far to get my name in front of a greater number of people, because that’s the first step to finding new readers.

My experience has convinced me that connecting with readers, followers, and networks is a necessary piece of expanding my readership, but once I’ve reached new folks, it’s time to shift gears and use social media to build relationships, not solicit sales.

That’s why it’s called social media, and not the shopping channel. Remembering to give the reader what they want is easy when it’s the same thing you want to give your friends.

How do you use the various social network platforms?

How a Blue Bird Can Save You Time

bluebirdI love Twitter.

Yes, it’s true – a year ago, I said I would never get on Twitter.

Just like I said “no Facebook,” the year before that.

The truth is that as an author, if you’re not on the social networks, you’re missing the boat, and while I’m still learning the best ways to use social media, I’ve found a surprising, but HUGE, benefit to spending time every day on Twitter: it’s my go-to source for content.

Content – the endless supply of information you need to share – is one of the things you have to manage on social media, and for me, it was one of the most intimidating. I barely eke out enough time to work on manuscripts between book marketing, my part-time teaching job, mothering, housekeeping, and walking the dog, let alone to come up with bright new pieces of information to post on my social networks every day. Effective social media marketing requires new content to keep your followers interested in what you do as an author; if your audience doesn’t hear from you in a while, they’ll move on to someone or something new, which defeats your whole social media strategy.

On top of fresh material, I also have to find/create the right spin on the content I collect to make it appropriate for my social networks. My readers expect humor, which isn’t nearly as simple or easy as it may sound; all authors – no matter what they write about – have to somehow personalize the content they curate to reflect their own signature brand.

Enter Twitter – tiny snippets of titles on anything and everything. It’s like an overflowing cornucopia of trivia, which is exactly what I like about it – I can skim through my Twitter feed and if some title catches my eye and strikes me as funny, or inspires a witty response in me, I can open the link and immediately bookmark it into a folder on my laptop. (Keeping a bookmarking folder dedicated to raw social media content has been one of my better ideas.) Then, when I’m making the rounds on my social networks and need new content, I can open that folder and retrieve the snippet for instant material. I’ve discovered that in just a few minutes a day, I can find enough tweets on Twitter to provide me with ideas and quick posts for a week, which frees up more time to write.

The danger of wasting time on Twitter was originally one of the reasons I didn’t want to use it, because like all social media, it pulls you into engagement that is hard to escape. (How many times have you told yourself, “I’m only reading one more post,” and then, an hour later, you’re still on Facebook?) By mindfully turning my Twitter time into content development time, I’ve made it a more productive and focused task that actually reduces the amount of time I need to spend on creating posts for my other networks. And that makes me tweet with happiness! (And you can join me @BirderMurder!)

What are some of the creative ways you use one social media to assist you with another one? 

Scenes From a Street Fair

Writers, have you ever participated in a street fair?

I recently had the opportunity to represent local authors through Read Local San Diego at the Encinitas Street Fair. The total cost of the booth for a couple of days was $300.00, broken out into time slots for authors to utilize at the price of $25.00 for a two hour period. Considering that literally thousands of people attend the annual Encinitas Street Fair (situated two blocks away from the Pacific Ocean), it was clearly a cost effective way to gain exposure in the community. 

Parking nearby was out of the question. My husband was good enough to drop me off near the booth, using back roads to weave in and out. Realizing this would be the case, I took a roller bag with wheels to carry my books, a desk easel to display my books at the booth, several pens, a pad of paper, and a set of business cards. As far as the number of books, they suggested at least five, so I brought twenty. Next time, I’ll go with around forty or fifty. I pre-signed the books with a “hope you enjoy the read” type message, so I could quickly fill in people’s names and the dates and facilitate the process.

There were three other authors at the booth with me. We had two six-foot tables, with two authors per a table. “Oh, you’re here,” my table mate said when I arrived about five minutes before our shift began. “I was about to take over your table space.”

I became acquainted with him and the other three authors in my shift. At first, none of us were sure of how to engage the throes of people walking by our booth. One author called to people like a carnival barker, offering a chance to win one of his books if people would fill out a slip with their email and mailing addresses. Most folks, there with the intention of being out for a stroll and buying no greater purchase than a funnel cake, weren’t too receptive to this approach. The four of us did some brainstorming and giveaways seemed to be the way to go in this environment. I gave away free signed copies, asking for an honest review on Amazon in lieu of payment. That seemed to go over pretty well. In each book, I placed a business card with my contact information on one side and my book cover on the other side.

Next to our booth was a fifth local author, a gentlemen of a certain age who writes for the Young Adult market. He has quite a following and teenagers kept coming by throughout the day to say hello to him. He has nineteen books to his credit and required his own booth. He is an adjunct professor at a local university and asked if I would like an opportunity to speak and / or teach. The street fair was proving to be a good opportunity to interact not just with the public, but with like-minded authors.

Street fair

During the slow moments of the shift, our group compared notes and talked shop. An elderly man in the group who was intimidated by social media went home with an education about how to use Twitter. One lady needed a reasonably priced editor and received a referral. Another writer needed a graphic artist referral for book covers, and was given several suggestions. I became familiar with the San Diego Writers Guild and started looking into their upcoming meetings.

We also worked as a team, which was fun. If someone approached an author whose book wasn’t their cup of tea, then there were four other writers of very different genres available to meet. Several authors had huge display posters with the covers of their books. They said these can be ordered online, and all one has to do is send in the content and a digital file. We learned that coffee and books and wind are not a very smart combination. We learned that a roll of duct tape is imperative in order to fix issues such as crooked signs or tent tables that needed more infrastructure. Bringing a box of pens and having a way to make change is also advised.

All in all, a street fair is probably not going to yield thousands of sales, unless the fair specifically focuses on books. Most people going to a street fair may not have books on the mind, but it is a wonderful networking opportunity, and you just can’t beat the exposure for the price. You may want to check out street fairs and rental booths in your own area, because people really do like to support local businesses, including their local writers and authors.

Have you had any experience with street fairs or book expos?

Any suggestions on how to best leverage this kind of marketing approach?

Tweetables

Lately, I’ve been noticing this new trick amongst bloggers for fashioning “tweetables” in their blog posts. These are short, catchy phrases that let readers instantaneously click and tweet a hook about your post. Several tweetables are offered in hopes of getting that mouse clicker finger engaged.

Social media conceptSo I thought I’d go through the process of learning how to format one and take you on the ride with me. A shout out to Elaine Stocks for pointing me in the right direction. Check out this blog post at Blogging Bistro for instructions as well. I am hoping to simplify. We’ll see how that works.

Step 1: Go to http://clicktotweet.com/. Once you go there, format a phrase you want others to tweet about. It will generate a link for you, which you can add to your post. Here the first one I did.

Learn How to Format a Tweetable. Click to Tweet.

Step 2: Hit the preview button.
You can then click preview to see how it looks. And mine looks, well,  boring. It’s just the phrase and doesn’t point much to me or the Water Cooler. Let’s try again.

Know how to format a Tweetable? Not as hard as you might think. Click to Tweet.

This is how it will look when tweeted out:

Know how to format a Tweetable? Not as hard as you might think. @JordynRedwood @WordServeLit http://wp.me/p1H9QL-2zH

Step 3: Helpful tips.
Remember, with Twitter you only have 140 characters to work with. In WordPress you can automatically have it give you a shortlink for your post by hitting the button “Get Shortlink” at the top of your editing screen. When you do this, copy and paste that link into your Tweetable. It will save you precious character space to come up with a great Tweet.

However, Blogger doesn’t format shortlinks, though you can customize one for yourself. Blogger will give you a permalink (finally!) and what you can do to shorten it is copy and paste it into the publisher in Hootsuite. It really is not as hard as you might think. From the shortened Hootsuite link you can copy and paste it into the Click to Tweet format system.

Step 4: Format it into your post.

I agree with Blogging Bistro that Rachelle Gardner has a great way to format Tweetables and I’ve copied that style here. You can view her blog for that look or come up with your own crafty, creative way to entice people to tweet.

Why format tweetables? A couple of reasons. When you hit the tweet button at the bottom of a post using the social media sharing buttons, it basically tweets the title of your post which may or may not catch the eye of readers. Tweetables offer several different phrasings to try to get people to tweet that may be a way for them to capture their tribe.

What about you? Have you tried tweetables?

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

twitter-bird-light-bgs

Twitter is a top social network and one of the sites a prospective agent or publisher is likely to check when evaluating a writer’s online presence. This factor alone makes it worth investigating, but there’s more. Once you understand how to use it properly, Twitter can drive traffic to your site and customers to your books.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an information network with real-time immediacy. Trending stories often break first on Twitter. It’s also a social networking platform where people from all over the world post short updates. Tweets, as these updates are known, take little time to compose. Your wall, made up of brief Tweets, is quick to scan. On Twitter you can create lists of people and make them public or private. It’s possible to join ongoing group conversations (like #AmWriting or #WriteTip). If you have a Facebook account, this should all sound familiar. Think of Twitter as “Facebook Light.”

Because of the character limitations (just 140 characters per Tweet), you don’t need to spend a lot of time maintaining Twitter. Tweets cover, among other things, personal updates, conversations, commentaries on something in the news, interesting posts, original limericks, and even entire books painstakingly Tweeted in numbered, sequential order. When it comes to composing Twitter updates, you’re only limited by your imagination.

Tweets can be prescheduled via social media dashboards like Tweetdeck, Social Oomph, Buffer, and Hootsuite. I have used all of these at one time or another and now use them all for different features. There’s also Twuffer, which I have not tried, but many people swear by it. Which you choose is really a matter of preference. I suggest you start out with Hootsuite, since its interface is easiest for the beginner. As a bonus, you can schedule updates for Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn through Hootsuite as well. I use the URL shortener at Bitly.com and also via Buffer because these sites give me the ability to track analytics for the links I post.

Twitter’s about page is informative and even suggests various ways to use it. The brief video at http://fly.twitter.com is well worth watching. There’s also a set of instructions helping businesses learn to build a community at https://business.twitter.com. If you’re a mobile user, go to https://twitter.com/download for the apps you’ll need. Clearly, how much you get out of Twitter depends on you.

Getting Started on Twitter?

I won’t go into a lot of detail here because Twitter’s help topics are so awesome you should have no trouble finding your way. Learn how to set up your account here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/100990-how-to-sign-up-on-twitter.

For branding purposes and to present yourself as professional, I suggest you use your author name as your handle. Capitalize your first and last name for better readability. My twitter handle, for example, is @JanalynVoigt rather than @janalynvoigt.

Be sure to upload a profile image. Many people, myself included, won’t follow accounts without a profile picture because this is a telltale sign of a spammer.

Don’t be afraid to poke around Twitter and familiarize yourself with its many aspects. Third-party Twitter applications abound, but don’t get carried away discovering them or you may burn out on Twitter before you start. It’s best to start simple. Also, be careful when it comes to third-party applications. They shouldn’t need your email address or Twitter password to function. After you’ve granted permission to an application to access your account, if you don’t intend to use it again, it’s always a good idea to go into your Twitter settings through the gear icon on your profile page, select apps from the menu on the left, and revoke its access to your account.

What if you just don’t “get” Twitter?

I truly understand the confusion of not knowing how to relate to others on Twitter. It took me several years to truly grasp how to use this particular social platform. I might not have kept trying except that much of my website traffic came from updates about my blog posts that I made to Twitter. I only wish I’d discovered sooner that the character of my interactions, rather than the nature of Twitter, was the problem. Accusing Twitter for my failure to connect through it was akin to blaming a forest fire on a careless camper’s match. For those who persevere, Twitter can prove quite a powerhouse.

I didn’t consciously decide to use Twitter as an outlet to promote my writing without investing anything of myself in my followers. In fact, I tried periodically to get people to “talk to me,” but I wasn’t successful. I first had to figure out some basics, and I’m happy to share them with you.

To get people to talk to me on Twitter, I:

  • joined hashtag conversations. These sound complicated but aren’t. Twitter communications can seem disjointed, so hashtag conversations arose out of the need to organize tweets into cohesive group conversations. To see how this works, type #AmWriting (a popular hashtag conversation for writers) into the search box at http://Search.Twitter.com. (If you are logged into your account, you can just use the search box at the top of the screen.) To add to the conversation, simply include #AmWriting in your own Tweet. Taking part in hashtag conversations helps you find people who are active on Twitter.
  • paid attention to who followed me and followed them them back if possible. Several good applications for managing your Twitter followers exist, including Friend or Follow and Manage Flitter. These sites let you easily do things like follow people back and unfollow those who aren’t following you (if you wish). I don’t always follow those who follow me. Some are on Twitter to promote businesses that don’t interest me or are engaged in activities I don’t want to endorse. If we’ll have nothing in common to talk about, I don’t follow back. Engagement is far more important than large numbers of followers. 
  • tweeted blog posts written by others and included their Twitter handle (user name preceded by the @ sign–mine is @JanalynVoigt). This prevents your Tweet with a link from being considered spam and notifies persons with the handles you include that you mentioned them. Often those we do favors for will look for ways to return those favors, but I don’t do it for that reason or look for a return. I Tweet relevant links of interest to my followers to keep them engaged with me.
  • retweeted (Tweeted again) posts of interest to my niche. This helps me interact with others, feed interesting updates to my followers, and gain new followers.
  • consciously following other people I knew. I proactively searched out my friends who are on Twitter. We’re already invested in and support one another, and I know these people will talk to me.
  • mentioned people and thanked them when they mentioned me. Twitter has #FollowFriday, also known as #FF, that’s gotten a bit out of hand, but if used right is a viable way to recommend people you want to help and gain followers as others help you. Basically, every Friday people on Twitter recommend some of their favorite followers by listing their Twitter handles with the #FF or #FollowFriday hashtags included in the Tweet. Using the @ symbol before a person’s handle causes the name to become a link that takes your followers who click it to that person’s profile. You don’t have to use the #FollowFriday hashtag to follow people, though. You can mention them whenever you want.
  • when time allowed, I spent a few minutes looking over websites and commenting about them to people who interested me. This communicates that I’m interested in the person, and sometimes I find material to Tweet to my followers.
  • began scheduling regular updates. Don’t get carried away posting updates, but most people post too seldom rather than too often. I try to update my Twitter profile using prescheduled Tweets once an hour. We’ve discussed scheduling updates, but you can also automatically feed blog posts to Twitter through Twitter Feed and Mail Chimp.

There’s truth to the idea that those who aren’t using Twitter can’t understand it and those on Twitter can’t explain it. To decide whether Twitter is or isn’t for you, why not give it a try? 

The 15-Minute Writer (Part 3): Building Your Platform

Platform building has become all-important in the publishing world. And how do you build a platform? One plank at a time.

That’s why I tell writers with day jobs and moms with kids NOT to wait until they have more time to pursue their dreams. You can write, build your platform and get published–one small step at a time.

When I started taking my writing seriously, I had a baby and a husband in full-time ministry–and no family nearby to provide free babysitting. So I wrote during my son’s nap times. After Jordan outgrew his naps, I enrolled him in our church’s “Mother’s Day Out” program two days a week, and used those times to write.

When my second son was born, I repeated the process–though things did get a bit trickier! I’ve also written during lunch hours, backstage in a dressing room while waiting to perform at a theater, during birthday parties (not my own kids’, though!), on Saturdays/Sundays, and late at night.

*But NEVER in the early mornings. Some things are just insane.*

One plank a time, I’ve pursued this crazy/wonderful calling God placed on my life, building a career and a platform. It’s a roller-coaster, of course–lots of rejection for every acceptance–but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

[I'm also aware that my husband is entirely supportive, and for those authors who don't have an encouraging spouse, my heart goes out to you. You'll have to be even more creative and deliberate about finding time to write. But please, don't give up!]

My own story makes me passionate about helping other writers (especially moms) hone their craft.

Say you have a precious fifteen or thirty minutes a day to write. Divide those segments into writing, market research, and promotion/marketing. Then use your allotted time three days out of the week to write; two days to do market research; and one day to market (giving yourself one day off).

Here are a few sample ways to build your platform, fifteen or thirty minutes at a time:

  • Post a new picture or status update on your Facebook author page and “like” a few other people’s posts while you’re signed in as the author.
  • Tweet from your Twitter account and RT/respond to a few tweets from friends.
  • Update LinkedIn (I do this automatically by linking my Twitter feed to my LinkedIn profile, so when I tweet, my LI account gets updated, too).
  • Write a rough draft of a blog post.
  • Pin a link and photo from a former blog post on Pinterest. (Careful! Pinterest is addicting–might I suggest a timer?!)
  • Read a blog post (or two) and comment on it.
  • Read a portion of a book on marketing and promotion. Highlight your favorite ideas, and bookmark the page to come back to.
  • Read about a conference you’re interested in, and mark the dates on your calendar.
  • Sign up for a conference, online course, or in-person class.
  • Write a rough draft of a query to an agent or editor.
  • Edit a query you’ve previously drafted.
  • Compose a cover letter for a query or manuscript.
  • Email friends about your newest published piece and ask them to share it with friends, if they’re so inclined.
  • Email an author friend to ask advice or feedback.
  • Offer feedback and advice to someone “greener” than you.

Now it’s YOUR turn. What are your strategies and ideas for platform building, one board at at time?

(Read part one and part two of the series.)

Ever-Increasing Returns

Publishing a book is an adventure. Part of that adventure is engaging with the people you meet along the journey. Some of those people will serve in a capacity of enlightenment and support. They provide assistance for you at different turns. It could be marketing assistance, subject matter expertise, best practices, or networking to find the sensei you seek. Lest we forget, the best adventures usually require planning behind the scenes. The book writing adventure entails hours of constant editing and agonizing over the right words.  There is nothing glamorous about this part of the journey – it’s the grunt work that makes everything else possible.

Adventures are often taken solely for adventure’s sake.  Sometimes you return with treasure, but not always. Upon attending my first literary workshop, I found it a bit daunting to learn that only 5% of writers actually make a living from their writing. Anyone who has ever penned a book knows how challenging it can be. If there is no monetary value in the experiment of publishing a book, why should the author continue up the mountain? The author goes on because it’s a labor of love. There are other ways to get compensated from writing a book. The total compensation package is comprised of much more than money. Opportunities to help others appear continuously and if you find such experiences rewarding, your pockets will be continuously lined with gold.

One of my favorite movies is Rex Pickett’s Sideways. Through Twitter marketing I stumbled upon Rex’s profile and discovered Sideways has been adapted for the stage. I saw Sideways the Play in Santa Monica and was able to meet Rex, who has been an inspiration ever since. Tweeting has been valuable in other ways, too. By building relationships with authors, readers and bloggers, writers gain a greater scope of influence and increased credibility. Nothing is more valuable than that.

There are countless ways to spread the wealth of knowledge acquired on the writing journey. By researching the process of formatting a novel into an audiobook, I became acquainted with www.acx.com. This fluid website is a hub for authors to connect with actors that do voice-over work. Authors can connect with actors in a number of ways. One is to upload some material so that any interested actor can audition for the ‘role’ of narrating the content. One actress auditioned to be my book narrator within twenty-four hours of uploading sample pages. Hearing her try out for the voice of my protagonist was an incredible experience. Authors can also take the more active approach of searching for a specific kind of voice. If there is a need for a young woman with a French accent, you can search your ideal parameters to find actors and make them offers. You have options of payment, one being a 50/50 royalty share. Going through this exercise made me think of a friend who is always looking for voice-over work. I was able to inform him of ACX, and he is probably getting his account set up with them as we speak. Some of the actors are listed to make $200.00-$400.00 per completed hour of work. For those with golden pipes, it appears to be a very good opportunity. My friend’s enthusiasm and delight over engaging with ACX was better than selling fifty books. My ability to help him was a direct result of being on the journey.

Many opportunities in the form of people will appear on the path during your publishing adventure. The lifetime value of these helpers, guardians, luminaries, and assistants will not always be evident at first. Some may help you indirectly with constructive feedback you don’t want to hear but know you need. In turn, you will be able to help others as well. You will encourage them to believe that they can do what you have done. Some will even thank you for your contribution to the written word. For those who are able to take a creative mindset in terms of total compensation, there will always be a deep blue ocean of  ever- increasing rewards.

In what non-monetary ways have you found the writing journey rewarding?

Hashtags can help….

So…. What’s a #Hashtag?

How can a simple #hashtag help me to promote my book?  Well in many, many ways.

#Confused?

First lets define what exactly you are looking at…. #pleasehelpme.

You probably first saw them on Twitter, that is where a #hashtag originated.

It’s a simple marker of sorts.  #Hashtags over the last year have migrated from Twitter to Instagram, and Pintrest. #clever.

A #hashtag is a marker of sorts that drives you to people’s posts, and drives people to your posts. You can click on any #hashtag and it brings up all other posts with that same tag in… simply put, if you want to promote your book to strangers, a #hashtag will be one of the best tools you can use for social media platforms that utilize #hashtags.

What topics are important to you? Make a list of words that are important to you selling your book.  What words describe your book? How can you find like-minded readers, by strategically #hashtagging words that are specific to you! #buildingabrand #books. If you know what SEO is, Search Engine Optimization, #Hashtags work.

Some simple rules for #hastagging. Never put spaces between words or the #symbol. Use words that are relevant to your tweet/pin/pictures.  A great way to find more followers is to use hash tags on both sides. You do it and other people do it in searches as well….  Find people that are #hashtagging things that you care about and get involved in their conversation. #smartthinking.

Here is a simple straightforward article in the Twitter Help Center, which could help you.

Remember, that #hashtags are fun.  Don’t over use them, but do use them to find like-minded readers.  It could open many doors for you… people will find you and you will find people.  #hashtags  #winning.

Radio Days

When I completed my first book, my boss was incredibly supportive and offered to get a marketing package for me of my own choosing. Having very little understanding of book marketing, I was soon swimming in a flood of possible opportunities of all different shapes, sizes, and price tags. I finally settled on the Readers Favorite’s Book Promotion Packagewhich I found to be reasonably priced and reputable. One of their strategic partners, The Authors Show, welcomed me as a preferred guest as part of said package.

I had never been on the radio before and was rather anxious about sounding like a moron.  I didn’t worry for long, though, because it was clear that The Authors Show staff had the interview process down to a science. They sent me an author interview form to complete. It asked for pertinent information about the book. They allowed me to create 8-10 suggested questions that would relate to its content and would connect with an audience. There was a place to create a synopsis, a call to action to encourage buying behavior, and a list of preparatory questions so I would have an idea of what to expect.  Some of the questions were very thought provoking and have helped me during other marketing initiatives as well. For example: What benefits will the buyer get from reading the book?

After I completed the interview form and submitted it, I didn’t wait long until the interview was scheduled. It was conducted over the phone by Don McCauley, who was very kind. Before we got started, he encouraged me to relax and be as natural as possible. He assured me that they would edit the interview and remove any pauses or filler words.

When the time for the interview came, I was sure to secure a remote location without any distractions or background noises. I used a headset which seemed to help the audio quality. My gracious host made me feel very much at ease throughout the call which only lasted about thirty minutes.

Once the interview was edited, it came out to be fifteen minutes long. The interview was featured on The Authors Show for an entire month. During this time, I leveraged all the social media tools in my arsenal to get the word out: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, my website, et cetera. After my time on The Authors Show website was up, they sent me an MP3 file of the interview. It’s still available on YouTube and accessible through my website. People have marveled, “You sound so knowledgeable!”  That’s nice to hear, but it’s because the marketing company set me up for success.

Aside from Amazon, the radio interview has been the best marketing vehicle I have found so far, and it’s by far the most impressive facet of my campaign.  It lives on the front page of my website and enjoys prime real estate. I will always be grateful to my boss, to Don, and to the good people at The Authors Show for providing me with this great facet of my marketing toolbox.

Have you ever used radio as a book marketing tool? How do you get the word out about your writing?