Category Archives: marketing and Publishing

Kayelle Allen author marketing plan blog photo

Making an Author Marketing Plan

When you are an author - particularly a self published author - unless you are content to let your book languish at the bottom of the Amazon heap, there is really no alternative but to market your book.

Yet most of us have no idea where to start, once we've shared the book with our friends on facebook and twitter. We are most fortunate to have as today's guest poster, Kayelle Allen, founder of Marketing for Romance Writers and award winning Science Fiction and Romance, to give us some tips.

Enjoy!
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Making a Simple Author Marketing Plan

by Kayelle Allen

Kayelle Allen author marketing plan blog photoEducate yourself in how to be a successful writer and you will accomplish more than you ever thought possible. Today, let's look at a simple, four-part marketing plan. A plan like this is not the be-all, end-all of plans. It's the start of a bigger picture for your career, but it's as vital as the floor of a building.

In fact, marketing plans are like modular houses. You have a solid foundation and beams for support, but you can pull out one room and pop in another. Plans can change and grow, the way a family can outgrow a house.

Like anything you learn, you can't absorb the entire thing in one big gulp. Even if you could, I wouldn't be able to transfer it all to you in one big lump. I don't know of any teaching method that could - with the exception of telepathy. You must learn by steps, and those are bigger for some, smaller for others.

When you're doing a worthwhile job, don't allow the work to make you weary enough to quit. If you keep going, you will prosper and succeed. You haven't failed until you've quit. With that piece of advice out of the way, let's get started. There are four basic steps to making your first marketing plan.

Objectives

What do objectives have to do with marketing? Everything. If you don't know why you're marketing your books, why do it?

“it is more likely you'll complete a goal you believe in”

An objective is a goal intended to be attained (and which is believed to be attainable). To say that in a more blunt way -- it's something you want to do, and that you believe you can do. It does you no good to set a goal you don't think you can accomplish. Do you want "USA Today Best Selling Author" beside your name? That's a great goal. Many authors have attained it -- it's doable. If you don't believe you can do it, you are not likely to achieve it. A goal must be believable by you. Could you be surprised by attaining a goal you hadn't thought you could accomplish? Certainly. But it is more likely you'll complete a goal you believe in. Positive self-talk, the act of affirming your own goals, will help you. Ban thoughts such as "I'm such a loser" or "I know this is a dumb question" or "This will never work." Replace them with belief that you can and will do the things you say you will do.

Record the goals you set for yourself, and read them daily. This is part of your affirmation process and will help you focus your energy in the right areas.

Audience

Who is your audience? Do you write Young Adult (YA) books? Romance? Science Fiction? True Crime? Or maybe you're putting together a non-fiction book. It doesn't matter what you're writing -- you still have to know who is going to buy and read it. If you write for the YA crowd, your style will be different from that of the self-help psychology book author. You will market differently as well. Let's say you write YA and you decide to join Twitter. What hashtags will you use? Do you even know what a hashtag is? Before you decide to use a particular social media, you need to know whether your readers are going to be there.

List your target audience. Learn as much about them as possible. For example, if they are young people, what is their age range? What grades does that equate to in school? Which gender is more likely to read your work? Which social media is favored by this audience? Did you know that the majority (about 70%) of Pinterest users are women? If you write for a female audience, that means your target audience is there. How do you go about reaching them? It pays to know who your audience is so that you can find out where they are. If you can find readers, you can sell books.

Identity (Brand)

Who are you as an author? Do you have a recurring theme in your books? Do all your heroes tend to be cowboys, or pirates? Are your heroines usually take-charge women who don't take no for an answer? Do you write about alpha males, or do your heroes lean more toward the sensitive type? If you write non-fiction, what topics do your books cover?

“unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion”

This is likely your brand. I write about "unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion." Therefore, I've branded all my material with that phrase. My blog is called Unstoppable Heroes.

Record your identity and brand, and tweak it until you come up with something you can use as a tag for your writing. Focus your attention on marketing that allows you to make the most of that phrase. If you write about passionate heroes, don't spend time marketing yourself on a site that doesn't cater to readers who want that type of book. Focus your attention on a site that does.

Plan of Action

What steps will you take to achieve your objectives? Will you hold book signings, chats, blog frequently, create a fan page on Facebook, etc.? Make these plans short, to the point, and high level without detail. This is more of an outline for what you'll do than a detailed step-by-step instruction guide.

Following Up

In a five-year plan, each year will have different goals and objectives. Each builds upon the other. What you can accomplish by year three will be more than the result of years one plus two. This is why you will want to tweak your plan each year. Take advantage of strengths you develop, and you will grow more.

“Keep your audience in mind, and work to reach them”

As you begin to work on your plan, remember to read over your objectives. This will help you focus your time, attention, and money in the places most important to you. Keep your audience in mind, and work to reach them. Be true to yourself as a writer by clearly stating your identity and brand. All your marketing should underscore this important aspect. Stay with your plan. Have a plan and work the plan -- that is the byword for success.

Kayelle's latest book is Tales of the Chosen trilogy: Wulf, Alitus, Jawk, available on Amazon now.

Share your own author marketing successes in the comments below!

Jeb Harrison marketing and publishing photo

Marketing and Publishing Your Book the Modern Way – Free of Literary Agents and Publishers

Today's guest post in the series How to be an Author is a highly amusing and engaging take on the experience of marketing and publishing a book, tracking down a literary agent - only to find that the book was picked up by a publisher who specifically didn't want to deal with one!

Enjoy this post - and share it with your friends, using the many buttons scattered around at the side and end of the article.
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What a Difference a Decade Makes in Marketing and Publishing!

by Jeb Harrison

Jeb Harrison marketing and publishing photoI first started shopping around for a literary agent in about 2001 which, given the lightspeed changes in publishing since then, could have been a century ago. I did what Writer's Market and Publisher's Marketplace told me to do, and though I have killed an entire forest by printing and mailing a thousand query letters, (almost every agent at the time claimed to represent literary fiction), the first ten pages of the manuscript, the first three chapters, the synopsis, five chapters, the first 50 pages, the first and last chapter, the bio and manuscripts for two novels over the past thirteen years, and now have an entire office wallpapered in rejection letters, I did finally get published. (As the wise and wizened in our profession tell us, it only takes one "yes".) The irony of my story is that, in the end, my publisher picked up Hack (novel #1) partially because I did not have an agent perched on my shoulder like a turkey buzzard sharpening it's beak for the industry-standard 15% of the advance. And that's just one of the differences between 2001 and 2010.

Literary Agents

My first agent, the certified paranoid schizophrenic of many wigs with a different name for each, one of which is Melanie Mills, is a novel in and of herself. I should have known that a literary agency in the city with most mini putt-putt courses on the planet, Myrtle Beach, would lead to trouble. And it did, but that's another story - bizarre enough to be published by the Huffington Post which you can read here. My second agent ran me through two years of revisions, submitted the manuscript in 2004 to six mid-sized imprints, got rejected and promptly left the publishing business to go run the family funeral home in Maine.

My dream of finding my literary equivalent of my guardian angel having fizzled, I hung up the search for a couple of years and wrote a couple more novels. When I took up the fight again, I found that what was already a pretty risk-averse bunch had already started ignoring anything that didn't look and smell like something that was already on the top-ten bestseller list. Just when I was getting ready to sign with another agent, a small, independent publisher came along and said "we'll publish it if you want". They actually felt that I could get a much better deal - an advance against royalties, marketing support etc. given the accessibility and appeal of the story, but facing the choice between rolling the dice with another agent and actually getting the novel into print both real and virtual, I jumped on the latter without so much as a second thought.

The little indie, Harper Davis, didn't pay advances, and one of the company executives handles all of the other agent-type jobs like negotiating movie deals and international rights etc. No agent needed or wanted. The product- paperback, hardback, Kindle, Nook etc. - looks as professional as anything from Simon and Schuster or any of the biggies. I only wish they would spring for an audiobook, as I believe that many boomers and pre-boomers do a lot of their reading in the car these days, and Hack would lend itself very well to an audio rendition.

Marketing and Publishing

Since I started shopping my work twelve or thirteen years ago, it appears the role of the traditional literary agent has become an anachronism. (Note that I speak for the literary fiction market only. I honestly can't say what's happening in the genre fiction space, or memoir and non-fiction.) That's not to say traditional agents don't exist. But instead of shopping a manuscript, they're shopping the author's published work; their second novel, or perhaps their third.

The Role of Social Media

Because the obstacle to publishing have virtually disappeared, the days of agents shopping manuscripts in hopes of 15% of an advance are all but gone. If an agent feels they have a hot prospect to sell to a publisher that is still paying advances, (which are fewer and fewer) the onus of proving the author's saleability is on them: How many copies did the self-published work sell? How were the reviews? How many "likes" do thay have on their Facebook page? How many followers on Twitter? In other words the agent may not be as concerned with the quality of the product as much as they are with the author having greased the skids to some degree already by the sweat of their own brow. In fact I have come across indie publishers, never mind the agents, who rate the author's willingness and ability to market their own work as important if not more important than the work itself.

Where does that leave the vast middle-earth of literary agents who are not lunching in Manhattan with publishing bluebloods? Since they are functionally salespeople who formerly made their bread from taking the piece of a publishing, movie, or international rights deal, they have had to become savvy in a much broader range of disciplines. Much of their success is dependent on their own ability to roll their sleeves up and market their authors, and in so doing come up with creative approaches to compensation. I imagine that these agents are looking for the breakthrough author who has the cross-media product, the looks, the platform, the connections, the "likes" and the legs to make a go of it.

The last thing any author wants is to get hit over the head with the continued pontifications of industry pundits pointing out, once again, that we aren't in Kansas anymore. And neither are the literary agents. In this exciting, new, and somewhat scary business environment, the idea of "writing a book" almost automatically includes marketing and publishing it too, just to get an agent interested. For the business-minded author and entrepreneur: Hey! What fun, right? For the bespectaled author who delights in nothing more than a good story well told, at least we can share our work via e-books, and, if we want to pony up a few bucks, a nice paperback as well. If that's satisfaction enough, we can consider ourselves lucky that the publishing industry ain't what it used to be!

How did you find Jeb's take on marketing and publishing your books? I admit to having seen an increasing number of blogs created for the express purpose of generating a readership for a not-yet-published book.

As always - share this blog with your friends and let us have your thoughts in the comments below.