Marketing Beyond Your Book Launch

Now that I’ve submitted my latest book to my publisher, marketing is on my mind. I know from past experience with my other titles, the book launch will arrive sooner than I’ll ever feel ready for.

Some authors seem to think marketing fits in a neat little window of time, however, this limited view can inhibit opportunities to move more books for a longer period. Like a “new to you” car, if your title is new to book reviewers, book clubs, libraries, organizations and associations, churches, or book sellers, you have an untapped market potential.

For almost four years now, I’ve researched, accumulated, and culled lists of those who can influence more book sales. Many nights, I’ve stayed up an extra hour or two, so I could add to my lists. To date, I have over 1,200 relevant reviewers, book clubs, libraries, associations, churches, and book sellers organized by genres and specific interests. (I ultimately invested money into training and paying people who could help me organize my lists faster.) I’m now developing relationships with many of these reviewers.

You can do this for yourself, but it does require a lot of dedication and persistence. And there are some important things I’ve learned a long the way. Maybe by sharing, I can save you a few expectation headaches.

Important things to remember about influencers:

  1. It takes time — getting your book noticed by influencers is not a microwave process; it requires crock pot patience. But the good news is, you can put your ingredients in place and let them simmer while you attend to other things. Come back and stir on occasion, and eventually, your efforts can reach a rolling boil if you have quality content. (No matter what you try, if the content is not of interest to readers, marketing will not get you very far.)
  2. There are a lot of reviewers and other influencers out there, but not all are still actively writing reviews, many are not a good fit for your title, and some with smaller followings are actually more effective in their reader reach. Literary matchmaking is one part art and one part due diligence.
  3. Many influencers have a back log of commitments, so it can take months before they are able to get to yours. But just because you don’t hear anything right away, does not mean they are not interested. I recently got this great review from a query I sent over a year and a half ago.

My years of hard work have widened the sphere of influence for my latest book, and my sales definitely reflect it. The foundation and process for generating interest are now in place, and something I can easily duplicate.

Connecting Authors and ReadersRecently, I also realized this was something I could duplicate for others. From my desire to help fellow authors and the publishing industry at large, bookinfluencers.com was born. It bugs me that the closure of book stores has left many readers challenged to discover “new to them” great books. So I’ve created an online community to bring authors, publishers, influencers, and readers together. We put our clients’ books in front of those who can reach more people on their behalf.

I’m not trying to sell you a service, frankly you can do this on your own. But if you are an author who wants to save time and energy while widening your reach, help is available. Check out bookinfluencers.com to find out more.

The important point here is not so much how you connect with influencers, but that you do. Long after that 30-90 day book launch window closes, there are many readers who won’t have heard of you or your title. So don’t give up. Keep at it. Get your book in front of influencers who can help market your book beyond the launch. You never know what one person with a spotlight can do a year and a half later.

Have you had success in getting book reviewers and other influencers to help spread the word about your book?

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What Actors and Authors Have in Common

Writing is a Personal JourneyI was watching Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show when it struck me. Jimmy greeted the actor with a cheek-to-cheek kiss, before ushering her to the comfy studio couch so they could share a cup and a chat.

After some banter about a recent encounter they’d had at the party of a mutual friend, they discussed some morsels about their personal lives, focusing on commonalities they shared. Then they got to the real reason for the staged visit.

Fallon gushed, as he introduced the new movie title. “Gosh, it’s so, so good. I just love it. I mean when you… Oops. I almost spoiled it, but it’s just that good.”

Listen So Others SpeakThe actor giggled. “Thanks, Jimmy. I was honored to play this role, I know I’m supposed to say I love it too, but I really mean it. This is probably my favorite project so far. I only hope the people who watch it are touched as much as I was making the film.” She raised her hands in the global prayer pose symbolizing humility.

As I watched their interchange, I reflected on other shows I’d seen her on, and her other movies. It seemed every year she was cast in a new release, some blockbusters, some with a cooler audience embrace. That’s when it hit me — how similar a successful author’s experience is to that of an actor.

My third published book just released, and as I promote it, pursue the next big project, while juggling my personal life in the process, I realize the importance of strategic planning. I wish I had the resources, connections, and energy of a Hollywood public relations machine behind me, but even without, I can learn from their methods.

7 Common Factors Between Actors and Authors:

  • Getting Through What You Can't Get OverThe actors are the face of the movie, so no matter what anyone else does behind the scenes, it is the actor who must make public appearances and visit shows on the interview circuit. An actor’s passionate voice, joined with an intriguing movie trailer, is what drives audiences to theaters and streaming sites. For authors, it’s no different. We are the face of our books. Our passionate voice about our message, mingled with intrigue about our book’s content, is what drives readers to want to know more.
  • Each actor brings their own distinct personality to promotion. Some outgoing and bubbly, some serious and reflective. Both work, they will simply attract those of similar taste. Be who you are as an author, and allow natural attraction to draw people.
  • A fresh movie release shifts the actor’s focus to a new message. As authors, I think hearing the branding mantra sometimes makes us sound stale and boring — think broken record. Personally, I believe it’s not only acceptable, but interesting, if we moderately mix up our messages, while staying true to who we are.
  • Getting Through What You Can't Get Over EndorsementA good actor hunts for new scripts and contracts — sometimes preparing for years before they can make a movie they are excited about. Successful authors should do no less. Keep your ears open for hot topics, and drop ideas, research information, quotes, and more for future books into a program like Scrivener — Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over started this way.
  • Most actors would prefer to spend more time on their craft than on marketing, and many authors feel the same. However, actors and authors both know that without solid marketing, we won’t get the opportunity to do another new project.
  • No matter how many shows an actor guests on, if the movie is lousy, sales will spiral. The same is true of our books. We can’t get around it. Good content is, and always will be, the marketing king.
  • Actors cannot produce inspiring art alone. They require support people like agents, fellow actors, experts in PR, producers, directors, etc. Authors also need a group like this to expand their message reach.

The more I reflect on what it takes to release a successful movie, the more I see the connection to releasing successful books. The Hollywood model has worked for decades, which tells me that as much as things are changing, some things stay the same.

What commonalities between actors and authors do you see that I failed to mention?

 

 

 

Why You Should Stop Marketing Your Book

Years ago, I heard a professional speaker tell about a dream she had: She had always wanted to go to Australia. She mentioned the dream in one of her speaking engagements and a couple approached her afterwards.

We’re from Australia. You can go stay in our home, free, for three months while we are traveling.

Immediately the speaker backpedaled. She had thoughts like, “I can’t do that. I can’t afford to miss work. My career would dry up. People would forget about me.”

Night Sydney Opera House with Harbour BridgeBut it was too great an opportunity to pass up. She flew to Australia, enjoyed herself tremendously, and when she returned her business boomed.

Why?

Everyone wanted to know what her trip had been like. Even better, she came back refreshed and motivated to pour herself into her business.

All authors should take time off from marketing their books. Here’s why:

Sometimes Less Is More  – Some of my favorite bloggers are those I rarely hear from. I don’t get tired of their voices because I don’t hear them every day. All of a sudden I’ll see a link to one of their blogs and I’ll think, “Oh, there you are. I’ve missed you.” Once in a while I get sick of my own selfcare mantra and I’m sure others do as well.

We Need New perspectives And Experiences – The brain loves novelty. It lights up at new experiences. That’s why you can visit an ordinary town and everything about it is fun and interesting. As I write this I’m finishing up a long week of clients, social media, and wedding details (my daughter gets married in September). I’m taking next week off to go to Breckenridge with my husband who has a work conference, and after that I’m flying to Nashville for a relaxing weekend with other creative people. Yes, I’ll miss time with clients, and yes, there is a financial cost, but I know the benefit will be greater.

Even God Took Time Off – Author Wayne Muller says, “In the book of Exodus we read, ‘In six days God made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God rested, and was refreshed.’ Here, the word ‘refreshed,’ vaiynafesh, literally means, and God exhaled. The creation of the world was like the life-quickening inhale; the Sabbath is the exhale…without the Sabbath exhale, the life-giving inhale is impossible.” Inhale plus exhale equals life. If God needed refreshment, don’t you think we do, too?

When was the last time you blocked off your calendar for pure enjoyment and no book marketing? 

The Surprising Thing About Book Influencers

My first book is almost a reality. In fact, a box could show up on my doorstep any day.

This stage of the process is humbling because I have to rely on busy people to read and help promote my book. At this point, I reminded myself that I’m not only working to promote myself, but I’m also working for the publisher who put so much faith into my project. That makes it a little easier to do the asking.

Two weeks ago, my publisher’s marketing gal, Cat, asked me make a list of all the media people and influencers who would read and promote my book. Media people? I only know the PR guy at Focus on the Family and a baseball sports announcer.

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Cat said media and influencers can be anyone who has a large audience. That means bloggers, authors, and speakers.  With that being the case, it turns out I know a lot of influencer and media peeps.  So, I collected names and addresses and passed them on to my publisher. Now hard copies are on the way to their doorsteps, too.

So what have I learned that I can share with you? Authors shouldn’t just ask for help from friends. They should ask for help from strangers, and big-time famous people.

Why?

You will be amazed at who says yes (and who says no). When I put out the word, I had some interesting responses: Some of my friends said they were too busy but if I passed along a copy, they’d try to get to it. Another friend hasn’t responded at all. Conversely, famous people I never thought I’d hear back from said, “Sure, I’d be honored.” Others went above and beyond: “You bet, and why don’t you let me put your book in a giveaway at my retreat and I’ll write a special feature about you” or “Hey, I’ll mention you at this event.”

Even strangers can have a powerful impact on your sales. I read a few articles that said if you can find top reviewers from Amazon to read and review your book, it can boost your sales. Finding someone within the top 500 is considered a coup. So yesterday I sent out four inquiries to reviewers who are interested in my genre. Two top-50 reviewers responded, “Sure, send the book.”

Feel free to read the articles about Amazon Top Reviewers here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/RNCWTLEMV71VM

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/09/16/get-amazon-book-reviews/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/16/amazon-top-customer-reviewers_n_878262.html

http://www.amarketingexpert.com/easy-tips-for-getting-more-amazon-reviews-now/

I guess the moral of the story is reach out to everyone, pray for the best, and don’t get hurt or upset when people say no. Lots of people will come out to support you.

If you’re a published author, how did you find people to promote your book? 

Market to the Front of Your Own Parade

It’s my first post here at the WordServe Water Cooler, and I’ve been racking my brain trying to find something unique and helpful to share with a group of experienced and prolific writers like yourselves. For the last several years, I’ve hidden behind authors, quietly helping them with publicity, blog tours, and social media. After taking a year “off” to birth and raise a baby and to start my writing career, I find myself having to actually implement all of the marketing advice I’ve offered to others. I now have to build my own writing platform. Even with my experience, it’s scary and overwhelming.

So many other people are more competent than I am when it comes to writing, marketing, social media, cooking, healthy living, parenting…and the list goes on. When I start to think of all the ways I’m under-qualified to write and market a book about food, family, and faith, I’m tempted to become crippled with fear.

This morning, I was reading a book to my 10-month old son and these words jumped out of the page at me.

Climb any mountain…climb up to the sky!

Make a big splash! Go out on a limb!

Hold your head high and don’t be afraid to march to the front of your own parade.

I love the picture of the little boy proudly making a splash and leading his parade in Nancy Tillman’s sweet book, “Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You.”

March to the front of your own parade.

I don’t have to march to the front of your parade or The Pioneer Woman’s parade, or Seth Godin’s parade. My book, my career, my parade.

And better yet, I can hold my head high and be proud of what I do have to offer, the areas I do excel in, and the gifts God wants me to share. I don’t have to measure up to anyone else. I’m uniquely me!

Instead of thinking of it as building our platform, we could just pretend we’re marketing to the front of our own parade. Doesn’t that sound more fun and less intimidating?

Imagine a parade about you and your books, where the collection of floats tells a story. Each float celebrating a part of who you are, what you believe in, what your expertise is, what your passions are, what your books are about, what you are like.

If each of your blog posts, tweets, Facebook statuses, and online bios is a float, does your current collection of floats look like the parade you imagined for yourself? Do you think people are inviting their friends to come watch your parade? Are they jumping in and marching along with you? Is fear of failing, judgement, or not measuring up keeping you from proudly stomping around and letting yourself be seen and heard?

Hold yourself high, and don’t be afraid to march to the front of your own parade. – Nancy Tillman, Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You