The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part V)

My gratitude list - file cabinet label

It’s a fashionable thing to limit our conversations about gratitude to the time around Thanksgiving, when all the stationary and gift displays and card racks at Hallmark all feature gratitude as their main theme. But I’m here today to advocate for extending that period of gratitude to include the Christmas and New Year’s holidays—because while Thanksgiving is lovely and wonderful and should definitely have its own marketing space, there are things we are grateful for closer to the end of the year that have their own nature, their own set of qualities, that makes them both poignant … and a potential platform for further holiday marketing, as I’ll get into here today.

I would also note that one can be an entrepreneur—a self-starter, a self-published book author—and carry the burden of marketing lightly, and carry it without being obnoxious, or dissembling, or insincere, even in the midst of a world crowded with half-baked promotions and kitschy products designed to capitalize on people’s sentimental holiday nostalgia.

Yes, you can be both a person who needs to market your book around the holidays, and utterly sincere about the messaging you send out into the universe around the holidays.

This holiday season, a friend of mine who happens to be an author (among other things) set about thanking those authors who were foundational to his development and evolution as a wordsmith on social media. Once a day, he has been tweeting about and to the authors who helped make him who he is. He hadn’t intended this to be anything other than a fun little project unconnected to anything else going on in his life, but it ended up putting him on the radar of a number of fantastic, high-profile authors who subsequently re-tweeted his tweets. In doing so, they broadcast his gratitude far and wide, raising his profile in the literary community and exposing numerous new readers to his name and brand.

I propose that we all do something similar. Having seen what has happened in my friend’s case, I can without reservation state that doing so will not only put your name in front of new potential readers, but it’s also a fun and worthwhile exercise to do on a personal level. It’s the gift that gives back, as expressing gratitude so often builds both giver and receiver up.

It’s the simplest thing to put together a quick social media campaign. If you decide to move forward with something similar, keep in mind a couple of our top tips here on the blog for successful posts:

  1. Rinse & Repeat: Repetition, and routine, are the keys to growing your social media presence. Make sure to time your tweets and Facebook posts (and you can use a third-party scheduling app, like Hootsuite or Twitter & Facebook’s extant scheduling options to do so) for high-traffic times of day, and to tweet or post to Facebook regularly.
  2. Attach Images. Analytics clearly and definitively prove that attaching images (that you have the rights to, of course) to your tweets, Facebook posts, and blog posts boost the visual impact and increase the “clicks” those posts receive. Snap a quick picture with your camera or grab a picture from online to accompany every post, and watch those clicks roll in.
  3. Tag People. Both Twitter and Facebook (as well as Instagram and other social media platforms) allow creators to “tag” or “@” or “mention” or otherwise direct their posts to specific individuals. Doing so creates notifications which will make people aware that you are talking about them, which boosts the likelihood that they will respond or re-post your material, thus raising awareness about it.
  4. Authenticity Matters. Social media is the best lie detector in existence. Twitter and Facebook users are highly attuned at present to inauthentic material (and will only continue to grow moreso as the conversation around “Fake News” becomes more advanced and nuanced) and are unafraid to call people out on it. The way to ensure that you put social media to work for you rather than against you is to treat your followers like you would your coworkers and your friends all at once. You have to be honest, and authentic, and you have to be able to stand behind every post you make in the years to come. (The Internet forgets nothing.)

Think of all the authors and creators who have influenced your journey. Who would you like to thank this holiday season? What are their footprints in your life? Whether you choose to mount a quick social media campaign around your gratitude list this holiday season or not, thinking of how far you’ve come and the people who have helped you along the way is just one more way to enjoy a bright and beautiful Christmas.

christmas gifts

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part IV)

We all know how wonderful it is to have holiday traditions, those things we do year after year and never tire of because they bring us nostalgia for our youth or for holidays in general. However, in book marketing, tradition in the holiday season might mean stagnation. So this year, when you’ve finished your traditions of decorating your Christmas trees, drinking egg nog, wearing tacky sweaters, caroling and hanging your stockings by the chimney with care, let us help you brainstorm some new ways to market your book.

christmas holiday fire book

The trees have shed their colorful fall foliage, the air has grown crisp, the kids are back in school, and you know what that means? The year’s final holidays are just right around the corner. This is a time of year to celebrate, not only because it means the return of pumpkin spice lattes and apple crisp, but because it is a time of year devoted to giving thanks, sharing delicious food and thoughtful gifts, and it is a time to gather with and spend time with those we love and cherish.

You can further celebrate this time of year as an author by innovating your marketing strategies, as there are certain advantages to marketing this time of year that aren’t available to you on just any summer day.

With an increased amount of shoppers trying to fill stockings and fill out the base of their Christmas trees, it is imperative that you’ve nailed down who exactly your audience is. Is your book a children’s book? Make sure your book is made available in local toy stores and maybe put some flyers up in local day care centers, libraries, and schools. Also, think of how great your book could be as a stocking stuffer for family members; being generous with your book this time of year could lead to more readers not only within your family, but whoever your family ends up sharing it with as well.

This is also a great time of year for holiday giveaways online. Vamp up your blog with relevant tags, and host your giveaways there! Post on pages relevant to your story–this could be anything from a Facebook page of the state your book takes place in, a Facebook group of readers that your book might appeal to, or maybe even to a Facebook event in your area that fits the theme of your book.

Remember that Christmas stockings are often full of Amazon gift cards; do you have an ebook to offer all these new potential buyers? Going digital means that there were literally be MILLIONS of people who will have access to your book, who never would’ve come across it otherwise. If you already have an ebook version, ask your readers for a priceless holiday gift: a good review online.

christmas stack of books coffee holidays

The Christmas holidays is an especially important time to be thinking about helping to preserve your family’s history and legacy by self-publishing a book.  That’s because Christmas, perhaps more than any other holiday, is rich with oral storytelling traditions, baking traditions, and narrative traditions of all kinds.  You can both collect new material for your book and enjoy the rich conversations that will inevitably collect around the news that you’ve got a book in the works.  And sometimes, at Christmas as at other times of year when our relationships with the past are the hinge upon which our lives turn, we can all do with a little reminder:

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part II)

halloween

Several weeks ago, I introduced the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, of course, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we are now semi-officially running with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the previous post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special.

This week, briefly (because it’s Halloween!),  we’re going to take a look at that guiding question, “what’s next?” After all, if you’ve been following along with our previous posts, you’ve already diagrammed your daily habits and figured out what marketing strategies you’re already doing, or which your existing schedule makes easily possible.

Next, it’s time to work on the hard part: making room for more marketing.

I call this the “hard part” because this is where several different things can happen: you can either go too far, or you can go not far enough. Both are common problems, and the key is to use the descriptive work you did in the previous post as a guide here in the proscriptive part of the process. Instead of just shoving one-size-fits-all solutions into a life that’s already crowded with precious activities, habits, and routines, you have to introduce new habits carefully, like when you bring home a new cat to meet the cats you already have. (It’s Halloween; you can let me have this one weird cat metaphor, right?) You do so gradually, with an eye for sustainability, and with respect for the cat, schedule, and skills that are already in place.

There’s no point introducing something if it just won’t work with who you are and what you like to do; this is why going too far and changing your existing routine or stretching your existing skills beyond your ability to cope will only end in disaster. (Keeping with today’s theme, those failures may just haunt you forever–in a legitimate, “I don’t ever want to try this again, even slightly, in any context, now that I’m so frustrated and/or burned out on this one all-or-nothing attempt” way.) Do you enjoy spending time on social media? Are you an Instagram guru? Take ten minutes of your day and set those aside for Instagramming on behalf of your book on top of what you already do for yourself in a private capacity. Do you enjoy having your kids “help” you out in the kitchen? Snap some “behind the scenes” pictures of the fun and use them in your marketing. (They may just be your “publishing team” from here on out.) Do you like to sit down and write 1,500 words before breakfast each morning? (NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! Get ready!) Use one of those mornings to draft a 1,500-word press release instead of your usual genre.

If you tweak an existing, routinized habit or skill of yours to serve the greater marketing agenda, your alchemical magic is far more likely to take hold, and a tweaked habit is far more likely to become a sustainable part of your daily, or weekly, or monthly recipe than if you try to cram something in that doesn’t fit.

So? Step one was to see what you’re already doing. Step two was to adapt it, just a little, to fit your new needs. What is step three? Well, we’ll be back in two weeks with more on marketing alchemy!

And in the meantime ….

happy halloween

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part I)

alchemy ingredients

In my last post, I introduced the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, of course, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we’ll be running with this definition from Merriam-Webster: “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” Which then means that an alchemist is someone who is the agent of that transformation. Merriam-Webster, for the record, has some lovely historical notes on the history of the term’s evolution, including:

alchemy alchemist

You, dear author, are an alchemist. And your marketing plan can really benefit from approaching the process with that in mind. Alchemy is all about transformation, and transformation requires something to be transformed. Which begs the question (as we foreshadowed last week):

What do you have or bring to the table as an author that’s special?

The answer (which is, of course, “a lot”) shapes what comes next. All authors share the same fundamental ingredients: a manuscript (published or yet to be published), a method, and a vision. But each of those three components will be shaded by your personal approach, interests, and unique voice. And they are the base material upon which your marketing must perform its alchemy in order to introduce your book to its ideal readers.

This is where I recommend taking a leaf out of the bullet journaling page, or out of accounting’s reliance on spreadsheets. It doesn’t particularly matter what medium you use to take stock, but take stock you must, and create a baseline record of what you’re already doing. Sit down and diagram your day. What all bits and pieces of your day are related to the writing and marketing process? Do you already use social media for personal communication? How about email and newsletters and listservs? What part of your day or week do you carve out for creation, and the writing of new material? Once you’ve taken stock of several weeks in a row, you’ll start to see patterns emerge, and you’ll get a good sense of what the outliers are. (i.e. Maybe you spend one whole day browsing Netflix because you’re bored or frustrated and need escape. That’s fine … but that’s probably not a typical day. It’s an outlier and while you must make allowance for the ongoing existence of outlier days in your life, you don’t want to let them define or move your average.)

habit tracker

Many authors make the mistake of thinking that marketing is a one-size-fits all system, and that every recommendation made out there on the Internet will apply to their specific situation … and that’s just not the way of things, sometimes. Rather than starting with a list of marketing ideas and trying to apply them all at once or without alteration, start with your existing habits and see where you’re at, and what sorts of rhythms might work with your habits. You may already doing things that are the perfect platform for marketing, and you may already lead a life that makes certain marketing strategies redundant, inapplicable, or unlikely to succeed without significant cost (in time and energy as well as money). Diagram your days, make note of your habits, and then—only then—can you move on to the next question.

What is that question? Next week, we’ll get into it.

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Introduction)

GettyImages-998993074.jpg

Now that it’s the beginning of October, we are well and truly into the holiday season. Sure, Halloween may still be almost a full month away, but the real pleasure of the last three months of the year only a very little to do with the big days themselves–Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day–and a great deal to do with anticipation, and what we choose to do with ourselves in the intervening days as we build excitement–or design costumes, or plan reunions, or negotiate for a few extra vacation days–throughout the home stretch of the year.

What are you, as a self-publishing author, going to do with that time?

For many self-publishing authors, the holidays are the most profitable time of year. These are the authors who have figured out the best way to ring in the holidays using their skills and their published works. We’ve written extensively about holiday marketing in the past, and we may hit some of the high points again this year, but we also wanted to do something new. Not quite “6 weird tricks to spook your friends this Halloween” but something which honors the magic of the holidays, and seeks to marry together your best skills and the season’s best opportunities to create … a kind of marketing alchemy.

Over the months to come, I’ll be asking the questions: What do you have or bring to the table as an author that’s special? And what do the final months of each year have or bring to the table so far as marketing goes? How we answer these questions, together, may just provide a new way forward as you seek to plan your upcoming marketing strategy for your latest or your next self-published book!

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

In Your Corner: Growing Your Market (Series Conclusion)

Two months ago, we started taking a look at ways to grow your market and expand your reach in various contexts as self-publishing authors. We discussed the ins and outs of cultivating a growth mindset, and tackled some of the most common challenges facing self-publishing (and therefore self-marketing) authors today, all in the form of a series focusing on positive growth (what can we do next?). You can find all of those previous posts at:

  1. Growing Your Market by Seizing on “Gift Opportunities”
  2. Growing Your Market in Barren Soil
  3. Growing Your Market With Elbow Grease
  4. Growing Your Market With Eyes for the Future Harvest
  5. Celebrating Your Growth

lightbulb plant growth energy

We talked briefly about next steps last week, but celebrating your growth (even if you put that celebration to work and multitask, as we so often are forced to do) isn’t really the end of the road, is it?

As a publishing professional with decades of experience in the field, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the best tool in your marketing toolkit is another book. When you sit down to write another book, you put yourself back into that place where you first fell in love with words and what they can do. You remember what it is about this process that motivates you. And writing a new book gives you something to talk about just as much as it gives you something to center yourself on emotionally. Books–and good marketing plans–build upon each other, book by book, brick by brick, and the cyclical nature of:

write –> publish –> market –> write –> publish –> market

… is cumulative! It’s really more like:

write (book 1)  –> publish (book 1) –> market (books 1 & 2) –> write (book 2) –> publish (book 2 + new edition of book 1) –> market (books 1 & 2) –> write (book 3) –> publish (book 3 + new edition of book 2) –> market (books 1, 2, & 3) –> ad infinitum

Displaying the process as something linear is a neat trick, and the messier second version is closer to reality, but it doesn’t really capture everything, does it? After all, you’re very often writing bits and pieces of several books, short stories, and other projects all at once–and you’re just as often writing while you publish and market. That’s fine. That’s great! You do you, and do this publishing thing the way that best keeps you on track and in love with the process. Just remember … publishing is cyclical, just like life or gardening. And each cycle, like each ring in a tree’s trunk, is bigger than the one before. The workload will grow as your success grows, and if I have any advice for you as a writer moving forward, it’s this: keep doing it! Keep writing! Keep publishing books! Embrace the expansion of your marketing empire, and find ways to keep it rooted in your passion.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

In Your Corner: Celebrating Your Growth

halloween holiday celebration cookies book

Over the last several weeks–months, really–we’ve been taking a look at ways to grow your market and expand your reach in various contexts as self-publishing authors:

  1. Growing Your Market by Seizing on “Gift Opportunities”
  2. Growing Your Market in Barren Soil
  3. Growing Your Market With Elbow Grease
  4. Growing Your Market With Eyes for the Future Harvest

This week, I want to talk briefly about what you can do to celebrate your harvest, given that we are now past Labor Day and looking forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving, when celebrations become the norm and not the exception. Are there ways to celebrate your work and also continue to contribute to this growth process we’ve been discussing?

There absolutely are!

Much  of what we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks–or months!–relates to the ongoing discussion about the prevalence of “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets. If you haven’t already tuned into that discussion, Brain Pickings has a great summary posted on their website which lays out the fundamental differences, and on Twitter, Sylvia Duckworth posted this great image which more or less sums up what get out of the conversation: a series of positive, declarative statements about ways to move forward in all aspects of my life.

growth mindset sylvia duckworth

I’m just going to leave that there for a moment, as background and a way to access and interpret the previous posts in this series. The talking point which concerns me today might be expressed in a fixed mindset as : “I’m all done now.” This statement is a summary one, a mere description of fact, and it leaves no room for further development (either of the self or of the project). A growth mindset would interpret this same fact differently, and possibly as a question: “What can I do next?” (Which I talked about somewhat in my last post.) Or, perhaps: “What else does finishing this project enable me to do?”

A good place to start, of course, is to celebrate your achievement. Take a moment to do so–you’ve earned it! But don’t let the momentum fade. Closing out one project always opens up doors to new possibilities, and I firmly believe we’re at our best and our most creative when we’re full of self-confidence and the glow of success (success as defined on our own terms and nobody else’s, of course)!

There is, of course, a way to turn our personal celebration into a marketing project in and of itself: Once you feel as though you’ve gotten your project where you want it and are ready to close it out and move onto something new, throw a party! You can use many of the same “tools” from your marketing toolkit we’ve talked about in previous posts, such as a launch party (only in this case, it’s a “closeout party” or a “next step party”), a reading or book signing (only, a “last chance tour”), or maybe just a simple digital crawl through your favorite blogs and social media sites to announce your gratitude for those who supported you along the way and casting a few hints as to what’s to come.

After all, one of the best ways to sell your book is to write another one. And the only thing people love more helping a project in the pipeline is partying hard over a success story! The key is to keep an open mind, and to foster a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, nothing is ever impossible and no door is ever truly shut.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.