How to Plan a Multi-Author Cross Promotion Event

Every writer I know feels pressure to build their platform. From the pre-pubbed stage, sending out proposals to an agent, then editor, to published authors working on keeping their numbers up, it can be a constant maze of hunting through websites telling you how to do it the best way.

Despite how you package promoting, be it in a contest, giveaway, or ad, there is only one thing that truly matters to determine its success. Are you giving your target audience something they find of value?

Join five mountain fiction authors with our virtual cookie recipe exchange, and downloadable Bible verse garland and gift tags.

Notice I didn’t say something valuable to a reader. There are many readers out there, but not all readers are your target audience. You need to have a deep understanding of your reader before you plan any promotional event, especially a multi-author one.

1. Start by identifying other authors who have similar target audiences or readers as yours. For cross promoting to work, the audiences must be linked by a similar interest.

2. Decide what will be the common theme for the event. You’ll need to decide before inviting the other authors to your event what the theme or purpose will be. And it is not to sell books. This is what you hope will be the end result, but the purpose of the event will be to somehow reach readers and enrich their time spent with you.

3. Send out the invites with a time frame for response at least two months before the date of the event. Expect to have some authors not be able to join you. Be gracious and thank them for considering. Move on to the next authors on your list.

4. Ask for ideas or comments on how to make the event better. Allow the other authors to have a say in the event, but be sure you have one person who is the leader. When planning the Mountain Hearth Christmas, it was my original idea to just have it be a virtual cookie recipe exchange. Amanda had the idea of incorporating the printable Bible verses for garlands and or gift tags.

5. Be very clear on what is expected of everyone. While all of the fabulous authors in the Mountain Hearth Christmas worked together, it’s best to let everyone know what you’d like them to do. For example: everyone is expected to share links on their social media pages each day of the hop, not just the day it’s being hosted on their own website. Cross-promoting only works if everyone helps.

6. Send out reminders leading up to the event. The leader should send out reminders as things draw nearer. Keep them short and to the point. Always be respectful of others’ time. Three weeks before, two weeks before, and the day before are a good time frame. You may want to have the leader send out daily emails the morning of the event with the link to that day’s highlighted article and composed social media updates for people to copy and paste if pressed for time.

Want to see a multi-author cross promotional event in action? I’m thrilled to be part of A Mountain Hearth Christmas. 

What multi-author events have you been part of? Have you attended any multi-author events you thought went well? What did you like about them?

Write to be Relevant

Twelve years ago, tragedy struck our nation. For the second time in United States history, we experienced a day that “lives in infamy,” a day we were attacked on our own soil. From across our country, people came together from every religious, ethnic, and cultural background. The walls fell for a few short weeks between liberals and conservatives, and we stood united in the face of great threat.

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So many years later, many have forgotten the pain they experienced that day, but they are reminded through the documentaries, television shows, and news broadcasts. Flags will fly and people will remember where they were on 9/11.

The news will make much of the event that marked this day twelve years ago. Why? Because people want to know. They will take to the internet and read articles and more new stories. They will remember the valiant plane crew and cheer their heroism. They’ll remember the firefighters and first responders who bravely ran into the towers as they crashed.

As writers, our bread and butter is anticipating what our audience wants. Where are the holes in the market? What’s doing well? What isn’t? Judge the attitudes and mindsets of people. Teen fantasy sells well because those that buy it want to escape reality. The same could be said for many Amish fiction readers.

Know who you are writing for. Let’s be honest. Most of us would like to say that our audience is everyone from 16 to 95, but that’s not realistic. While you hope that those in that age range will read your books, attempt to tailor it to a certain group within that and then market hard. I am a young adult who understands the heart, habits, and hang ups of my generation. I can tailor my novels to my age group. However, I also want to make it relatable to every age group, so I create characters that every group can somehow identify with.

At a mentoring clinic I attended, one of my mentors, a very successful author, looked at me and said, “Kariss, your books perfectly describe your generation’s desire to not simply DO church but to BE the church. You have a lot to learn from those who have gone before, but my generation could learn a lot from your generation by reading this book.” Why? Because at one point, this man was my age. His children are my age. His grandchildren will be my age. It’s still relevant and relatable to him.

We’ve been at war since I was 13. But as a result, I’ve come to value the brave men and women who serve our country and protect our freedom. It’s affected the way I write. It’s even bled into my characters as I researched and created courageous Navy SEALs. I live in an age of everyday heroes who are seldom recognized. 9/11 is relevant to me today, but it also shaped my teen years. It sent my friends into the service and combat. While the media markets this day for other reasons, I choose to remember. And in my writing, I make these heroes front and center, because no matter the day, they are relevant. Now that’s something to market.

Direct Mail – Cool As Ever

Have you ever sent a letter to prospective customers asking them to buy one of your books? If so, you have participated in direct mail marketing — one of the most efficient and effective selling techniques. If you think it’s too old school for you, then consider this: 55% of Americans read the news, 95% have telephones, 98% have television sets. However, 100% of Americans have a mailbox. Therefore, it is your only 100% opportunity to hone in on your targeted audience.

There are four components to a successful direct mail campaign: the Creative, the List, the Offer and the Results.

1) Creative: Of course you want your direct mail piece to be eye-catching and informative. How you present your offer to your list has to be done professionally so that all of the emotional hot buttons are triggered while also maintaining interest and going for the sale. Some of the best copywriters are paid thousands of dollars to write a single sales pitch letter, simply because the creative aspect of your campaign is that important. If your budget allows it, consider using variable data printing, which personalizes each letter to its recipient using demographics such as male/female, geographic region, etc. Even just a first name is effective in grabbing attention.

2) List:  Although your current customer base is incredibly valuable, it will be necessary to continuously seek out new customers as well. Your current customers will only buy so much. Aside from that, you will lose customers every year for various reasons. A good way to replace your eroding customers is by acquiring targeted mailing lists. It’s great to have a fantastic book but unless you can get it in front of the correct audience, it’s all for naught. The best list for you may be expensive, and you can expect to pay per name. The more targeted the list of prospects, the better. If you are selling a book on, say, surfing, you want to find a list of people who surf AND who buy books on surfing. If you get a list that is cheap or free, that doesn’t mean it’s a good one. In fact, you want to be absolutely sure you have a solid list before you start sending out direct mail offers and accruing postage fees. Acxiom® and Dun & Bradstreet® are examples of companies that sell lists. You can also work with a direct mail advertising company who can walk you through the entire campaign, such as Modern Postcard.

3) Offer: What you offer in the direct mail campaign needs to be exclusive to the group, while also being priced to make a profit for you. Make an offer that will get the recipient to act quickly, such as directing them to your website to see a sample chapter, free gift or autographed copy if they respond by a certain date. The options are unlimited, so you can test lots of different ideas to see which offers produce the best outcomes.

  • Keep the offer simple: One or two QUICK benefits: “Save time and money with our services!” or “Stay warm this winter!”
  • Give a reason to continue reading: “See the other side for big savings!”
  • Make a big promise and be sure you can fulfill it: “Order now and enjoy a full head of hair in three weeks!”
  • Include an expiration date… create a sense of urgency or exclusivity. The most compelling direct mail pieces have a call to action.

4) Results: A direct mail campaign which produces more than a 2% response is considered successful. Lower than a 1% response is typical. You then need to take into account the conversion rate (the conversion of responses into sales), assuming the campaign is designed to produce responses or inquiries and not just actual sales.

Do not engage in a 100,000-piece nationwide mailing your first time out of the gate. Try 500 or so at first and see how it goes. This way you can tweak the results, eliminate certain demographics and introduce others. Think of this kind of marketing as a long play that takes some honing. Aside from sales, some additional metrics to consider are the number of orders, how many offers were redeemed, how many responses by phone / email you received and the estimated future value of your new customers. Track your responses carefully. Enter them into a CRM system like ACT!®, Goldmine®, Salesforce®, etc., put them into an Excel® spreadsheet, put them in a box or record them in a notebook. Track them and make sure they are updated regularly, if possible.  A mail house can assist you by checking your list against their national change of address software, and provide you with any move updates so you can follow your customer base.

Not all books can be sold successfully through direct mail. The topic must be of interest to the targeted audience and the price must be sufficiently low to encourage people to respond with an order. Tell them why the information in your book will be of interest to them. In closing, you might find it interesting to know that direct mail came back in a big way in 2011, increasing by $10 Billion and gaining another 5% in terms of total ad spend share. Each dollar spent on direct marketing yields, on average, a return on investment of $12.05. By comparison, each dollar spent on non-direct mail advertising yields an ROI of $5.29. (Source: DMA ‘s Power of Direct Marketing; 2011 Edition).