Marketing Ideas Galore

IMG_4747You may recall that several months ago I made a vow to really pull out all the marketing stops for my new release. I was thinking BIG. I told my husband I might have to break into my 401K and I didn’t care. Frankly, I wanted to give the book it’s best shot and spend money. Well, I didn’t want to spend money, but I was prepared to do so in the hope of my book being read by actual people. It only took ten books for me to realize I had to step up and “treat my writing as a business” as one marketing article says. I don’t know who, it was on Twitter and you know how easy it is to get lost on Twitter with all the RTs and links and so forth.

IMG_4746So I read that article. Plus three books. Plus the entire marketing plan my trusted publicist, hired just for this campaign, had written. I participated in a book marketing class online. With the marketing plan, I didn’t just read it, I took all the actions. Mostly online so far. The online part is easy but I shall be going out in the world and doing things. I already have. I went to the print shop and made nice copies of the sell sheet Dora designed. I plan to visit the bookstores she recommended and go to a conference, the biggest conference ever.

Bouchercon is the biggest mystery writing conference in the world. I’ll be flying from Michigan to Florida for that in less than a week. Murder on the Beach Books is selling my book there. I’m also doing up a nice basket of books and bling from my Michigan Sisters in Crime group. Lots of people have donated books and the board gave me a coffee mug. So I will really be doing the people marketing thing there. I feel bad because all this is on my Dad’s birthday and he lives in St Pete where the conference is being held. Also Dad is recovering from surgery. He almost didn’t make it. Somehow I’m going to see him on his birthday despite all the Sisters in Crime stuff (a breakfast and later a workshop) happening on Dad’s birthday.

I hear that at some of the Sisters in Crime events, members will get a chance to talk about their books. Which reminds me, I went on television and talked about mine. Television! Me! This is a major feat as I have stage fright something awful but my friend has a cable show and she said it would be just like us talking as they pre-record, so I did it. In the real world, not online. Online I thought I was doing pretty well according to the marketing plan. I have an ad on Amazon my publisher set up and one on Facebook, too.

IMG_4748I’ve been tweeting (not about my book!) and meeting new people. I came across one guy who was just so fun, inviting people to friend him, his response thread went on forever and all the people tweeting him back were hilarious. I have not had that much fun on Twitter since, well, ever. One lady had a gif of a corgi typing. I followed her. I followed a bunch of new people. I didn’t mention my book as I know that Twitter is a social channel and you’re just there for the fun of it. But every once in awhile you can post on your own page about your book. But mostly not, mostly interact and make new friends.

I fixed up my Facebook fan page too, that’s in Rachel’s book, and it’s still not great but I’m trying. Some people’s fan pages look so good. Mine is better than it was. I pinned a post to the top of the page! Did not know I could do that until I read it in one of the books. I have my regular Facebook page with my friends but I am trying very hard not to post anything author-related there or Facebook just might kick me off. They let the Russians post, but me and my new book, no. Anyway, that was a joke. I can tell Mark Zuckerberg feels bad about the Russians.

Really, I did all that and my book was looking like all my other books. That is, no where near #1. So it was a fortunate coincidence that Book Bub wrote me an email congratulating me on my new release and telling me about their new ad program. Book Bub! Writing to me! Inviting me to do an ad. I had to hear them out. It was confusing, the ad thing. Apparently you bid on keywords and there are some other things that seem like what my publisher is already doing. But they still have their famous deals. I couldn’t do the new release deal, as you can’t apply after release date. But there was still the other deal for books on sale. I consulted friends and my publisher because I know Book Bub is pricey and everyone said go for it. So I submitted a deal. Not sure if they will accept me.

I did one Book Bub many moons ago when free books were a thing. I got a ton of reviews and my book went to #1 on the free list. But it was free, so I couldn’t say “Amazon bestseller” because you know if it’s free it’s not sold. Still it was pretty cool and I got more reviews than all my other books put together. 80+ on Amazon and 100+ on Goodreads. I realize for some people that is peanuts. But I currently have four (or is it five?) reviews, not all in one place, for my new book.

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Another unexpected thing happened online. I am such a reader. I read 200 books a year. I read book reviews online. There was one gorgeous page and it was women’s fiction central, which the New York Times Book Review is not. The page drew me in and so I wrote to them with my pitch for an essay. I figured if they said no, it would make good blog post. But they said YES! So you see it is good just to go on Twitter and have fun because you never know what will happen there.

I hope you got some marketing ideas from this post. I’m afraid you’ll have to leave your desk and the safety of the internet because you should also speak at bookstores (real ones) and libraries (also real). I plan to do this after Bouchercon. I was going to visit a certain indie bookstore in Detroit this week but now I have an essay to write!

The single most obvious thing (not to me, obvioulsy) I have learned after writing ten books is that it’s okay to take some time and money (but make those $$ choices wisely) and go out there into the world and sell your book. It doesn’t have to happen all on the day, week, or even month your book comes out. Just keep going places where people expect to hear about your book. No matter what.

 

Audible Update

I’ve signed the contracts for my five TWRP titles to become audio books. My publisher has also signed the contracts, making us partners with Amazon in this audio book adventure. There’s a little more for me to do. I need to fill out a Spec Sheet–details like do I prefer a male or female to voice my book and choosing a short passage from each book for the narrator to read as a demo. The demo(s) will then be sent to me so I can get a feel of whether the recording artist is a good fit. After I agree to the narrator, that’s it on my end until the book is recorded. Amazon handles all of those details.

The excerpts I send are important; they should convey not only the tone of the book, but also give an idea of genre and plot. Audible has a staff of recording artists and the artists  choose which books they’ll narrate based on these snippets. TWRP has many authors, and lots of us want to do this deal. So the narrators will have plenty of choices. The Spec Sheets are a little like an audition for me and my work. It’s important I get them right and not rush. I do tend to rush paperwork that relates to my books; I always feel if I’m not writing fiction (or the blog) it’s more business than pleasure. And I’ve never been a fan of the business end of writing.

My TWRP books, except Blue Heaven, which is under exclusive contract to Kindle books, are available widely on the internet. They’re all on Smashwords and Nook and every other e-reader retail outlet. But the audios will only be available on Amazon. This is because TWRP and Amazon have done a deal together that makes it very lovely for TWRP authors. TWRP is a small boutique publisher and they are almost entirely about e-books. Yes, they have print editions,  but they do these mainly as a courtesy to their authors, and have no print distribution. TWRP authors hand-sell their print editions at conferences, book festivals, and brick and mortar bookstores.

About the money, I pay nothing for this new perk. I receive royalties that are in line with what I’m paid for e-books. Another question some authors ask is “Can I narrate my own books?” and the answer is maybe, if you have a home recording studio. In my view, this work is best left to the professionals. The last thing I will do before my books become available in audio is to listen to each of the entire books, I’m thinking of it as an ear edit, and it’s my job to note any mistakes so that the book will be perfect for paying customers.

Eventually my publisher would like to pursue audio books for other venues but that’s down the line a bit. I understand from all the recent discussion on our author chat board  that recording audio books is a very pricey deal. If an indie author wants to do this, it would cost them anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Which is why the Amazon contract is a sweet deal.