Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writer Biz #10 - Taking the Pain Out of Promotion

Let’s see. You’ve set your goals, created a timeline, and figured out at least one or two target markets. Now it’s time to contact them, and let them know about your fabulous new story. Preferably starting about three months before its release date. And how will you do that?

Promotion, promotion, promotion.

There are several ways to reach out to your target market. You can do it online, by several methods. Social networking, press kits, chat groups, author interviews, review sites, podcasts, blogs, websites, blog talk radio interviews, and the list goes on and on. You may also reach your markets face-to-face by doing book signings, teaching workshops, social networking(the face-to-face kind), advertising, radio and television interviews and so on. You need to decide what will work best for you.

One way to take the pain out of promotion is to initially focus on doing the types of promotion which don’t make you feel terribly uncomfortable. For example, if you like talking to groups of people, workshops may work well for you. If you are not comfortable with groups, you may prefer to do more online promotion.

This is where knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses will help you. Be honest with yourself, and be prepared to grow. No one is comfortable with every type of promotion. People just get more practiced at doing it, and some are more natural than others. If you start with something that doesn’t make you too uncomfortable, then you can work your way up to the next thing which may make you a feel a little awkward, but with practice, you should be able to do just fine. Simply know at some point, you will be outside your comfort zone. That is probably the most natural thing about promotion.

Another way to take the pain out of promotion is to realize that selling books, or selling anything for that matter, isn’t about standing up, or emailing people and saying, “Buy my book.”

It’s about building relationships. Perhaps that will make it more tolerable for you. Beside that, it’s true. You’ll build relationships with your publisher, your readers, booksellers, and other authors. All of which will at some point, in some way, help you to sell your book.

Don’t worry, no one will drag you kicking and screaming in front of people to promote your book. Either you will do it. Or you won’t. It’s really that simple.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Travelin' Blog

I'm the guest blogger today over at The Lyrical Press Blog. I've talked about five reasons why you need a marketing plan. Stop by and add your own. I'd love to know what you think.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Writer Biz #9 – What’s A Target Market?

Now that you’ve set your goal and come up with a time line, you’ll need a target market. Preferably more than one. Let’s keep it simple for now, and you can expand it on your own later.

When marketing types work their magic, they use what’s commonly referred to as market segmentation. It’s a complicated way of saying they divide us up into groups by different variables.

The groups can be (notice, I said ‘can be’ NOT ‘must be’.) divided by demographic areas, geographic areas, psychographic areas, and behavioral areas. Still clear as mud? Let’s go a little deeper.

Demographic areas – these are based on variables such as age, gender, education, occupation, and income.

Geographic areas - are based on regional variables such as region, climate, population density.

Psychographic areas - are based on variables such as values, attitudes, and lifestyle.

Behavioral areas - are based on variables such as usage rate, price sensitivity, and brand loyalty. And yes, as an author you are a brand.

Once the segments are decided upon, they are usually profiled. (Not in a bad way.) In other words, a description is written for the segment and it’s given a name which represents the area which will be one of the targets for the marketing plan.

Sounds awful business-ey doesn’t it? Don’t worry. It’s really just a way to help you narrow your focus, so you can achieve your goals. The above list is to make you aware of things you may not have thought of when trying to figure out who your target market is.

I hear you, I hear you, already. “Readers, readers by books!!” “My profile is readers, you dummy.”

Yes, that’s true. But not all readers have the same taste in stories, so to make your plan more effective, let’s narrow it a little more. How about your existing readers for one segment. Perhaps prospective readers for another. Here’s an example of how the profile would look:

1. Existing readers – people who currently read my books.
2. Prospective readers – people who haven’t read my books but might read them based on the fact that they read another authors work which is similar to mine.

If you think about it, you can probably come up with a couple more. Give some thought to others in the book world who may be able to influence the sales of your book. They can be a considered a segment as well.

Remember, the better you define your target markets, the more effective your marketing plan will be.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rocks, Jeans, and Busy Machines

Growing up, I was taught that doctors and nurses heal people. Teachers form young minds, police and firemen help or save people. And as I grew I learned that journalists wanted to change the world. What did I hear about engineers? Zip, nada, zero.

Engineers were in that sort of nebulous geeky career field. Nobody knew exactly what they did, and certainly couldn’t talk about it. Unless of course you wanted to watch someone’s eyes glaze over. That’s always a cool effect.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was much older, through my own work, that I came to the realization that it’s engineers who shape the world we live in. And it’s a shame that kids, especially girls, are not made aware of, or encouraged to enter this career field. They should be.

Girls as well as boys need to be encouraged to develop their brilliance. Math and science shouldn’t intimidate children, it should excite them. To quote the Engineering Kids website, “Engineering invokes creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills.” Isn’t that totally cool? Who wouldn’t want their kid to have those capabilities? Not that a liberal arts degree is a bad thing, but maybe going forward we could also include another option.

I came across this book while reading a copy of ENR (Engineering News-Record) and had to share it. Did you know there is a worldwide shortage of engineers? Long term, this will affect each of us. In ways you can’t imagine.

The authors, Raymundo and Alane Rivera, are young engineers and the book is self-published. It is very well done. The plan is a series of books showcasing different engineering specialties to kids ages 4-8. The first title Rocks, Jeans, and Busy Machines: An Engineering Kids Storybook, is available now, and there are more titles to come.

I’ve purchased a copy for my niece, who will be four in a few weeks. Who knows what she’ll be when she grows up. But maybe, just maybe, if she’s not an author, we’ll have another engineer in the family.

If you think this is a great idea, please pass it on.

Buy Link

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Renegade Renovation #10 – Shining Light

Do you take lighting for granted? I did.

Have you ever walked through the lighting department at a home improvement store? Of course you have. It’s because whatever you need to purchase will be on the other side of the store. No matter what side you park on, or what door you go in. I swear, it’s like the contents automatically shift when you touch the door handle. Well, okay, not really, but I couldn’t resist the visual of thousands of products virtually changing location. Lol.

Any way, the big announcement this week is…

I have lights!

Not just any lights mind you, these are my lights. This is lighting I will most likely live with the rest of my life. Rooms full of lights, purchased after carefully scouring lighting departments and showrooms from Florida to Indiana and several states in between. There are lighted ceiling fans, sconces, under cabinet lights, vanity lights and even a chandelier or two for good measure. Illumination abounds in the Fox project.

I’m certain there will come a time when, once again, I burst through the doorway, mind occupied with other things, and swipe the light switch without a second thought. But for now, it’s a thrill to enter a room, and have the power to dispel the darkness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Writer Biz #8 – The Plan, Part B

Okay. You’ve put your goals in place. The next thing you need to do is add a timeline. When do you want to accomplish said goals? Three months, six months, a year? Setting a date will help in a couple ways. One, it will help you clarify your objective. Two, it will help you assess your results. And three, it will help with the motivational aspect.

It’s easy for me to say I want to sell one hundred books, or one thousand, or ten thousand. If there’s no deadline to accomplish this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being passive about your goal, and simply waiting for it to accomplish itself. It’s not long after setting a passive goal, the excuses start. Well, it’s only just released, or it’s only been out for six months, etc. You get the picture. Don’t give yourself permission to fail. Goals should not be passive, they should be active.

Once you’ve set your goal and timeline, give yourself a reality check. Given your lifestyle and commitments, what will it take for you to accomplish your goal? Again, this is different for everyone. Be sure to take into account your family obligations, the responsibilities of your evil day job, and any personal commitments you have. After giving your goal the serious consideration it deserves, you may have to adjust your timeline in one direction or another.

The last thing you need to take into consideration is yourself. Do you have personality traits which will hinder meeting your goals? If so, maybe you need to make an adjustment. On the reverse, do you do things which will help you accomplish your goals more quickly? The more realistic and honest you are about these things, the more you are likely to put yourself in a position to meet the goals you set.

A final note. While this will be the basis of your plan moving forward, remember, it’s not carved in stone. Things change, and as you follow this process, you will change and grow. You may find down the road, you’ll need to adjust your goals, your timeline or other aspects of your plan. Do it. It’s your plan, after all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Got Irish?

A big shout out to Thatcher McGhee’s in Pompton Lakes, NJ. One of the best Irish pubs and eateries I’ve had the pleasure to visit. This charming establishment is in northern New Jersey, just a mile or so from the New York state line.

On Monday, I was blessed with the luck of the Irish. My business in New York concluded just in time for us to swing by for dinner.

Having visited on multiple occasions, I can tell you, the traditional fare is outstanding and the service exemplary. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and have a pint.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Writing Time

Just in case you missed the post here a couple weeks ago about writing time, I've posted a review over at the Lyrical Press Blog.

Now you won't have to search through the archives to read it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Writer Biz #7 - The Plan

There are about as many marketing plans as there are people. This is the big reason there’s not ‘one plan’ that works for everyone. Every one is different; everyone has different thought processes, and more importantly goals.

What we can talk about, are what each plan has in common. Things you’ll need to create your own plan. Those are - goals, an action plan for reaching those goals, a timeline to do it in, and a way to evaluate your results. Everything else is pretty much open to interpretation.

Sounds simple right? It is really. At least until we get to the implementation phase. But we’re not there yet, so let’s not worry about that right now.

The first thing you want to decide on is your goal. To sell books, make money, become Nora, or whatever. The more directed your goal is, the better. Don’t say, ‘I want to make money. Or make a living writing.’ Well, how much money? What is a living? It’s different for everyone. Maybe making a living is earning enough to put away for retirement, or actually paying the mortgage, or maybe just having enough extra to buy a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. Or next weeks lunch. You get the idea. Do the math.

What does it really mean to you And what do you want to get out of it? Those are questions you need to answer for yourself. Don’t feel pressured here. Some people just want to say they are published and go no further. That’s great for them, and its fine for the industry. However, if you want to get a return for all of your effort, you need to decide what you want that return to be.