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.

In Your Corner: Growing Your Market With Eyes For the Future Harvest

fall computer autumn

In many parts of America, it’s already Fall. Oh, maybe pumpkin spice mochas haven’t quite hit the menu yet, but school is back in session or just about to return to session, and many of us are starting to plan ahead for the coming seasons: Fall means back-to-school and back-to-daily-routine planning and the comedown from summer vacations; Winter means the holidays have well and truly arrive, and all the reunions and trips and expenses that come with them; Spring means the winter doldrums are over and it’s time to lay the groundwork for the new year. This transition time, between Summer and Fall, is our last best chance to plan ahead before things get well and truly busy.

It’s time to prepare the soil and plant the seeds for your next marketing plan.

Technically, when it comes to marketing, including marketing for your own self-published book or books, it’s always time to plant these seeds. After all, the best marketing plan is a robust one with a whole stable of ideas running simultaneously, from attending book fairs to scheduling book readings to participating in a book blog tour to reaching out to your local radio stations to creating meaningful content for your social media posts. But since we’re human beings, we need things broken down into manageable bits and bytes for us to move forward without falling over our own feet.  Or at least, this is a common enough necessity that I too have experienced it: We all need to hit the “reset” button every now and then, whether our plans grew so messy in the previous season as to drive us to exhaustion, or because they fizzled out and we need to relaunch them with fresh vim and vigor.

reset button

So … if resetting one’s marketing plan is equivalent to laying the groundwork for your next harvest, what does resetting actually look like?

  1. First off, resetting doesn’t mean “stop everything you’re doing and burn it all down.” That would be a crying shame, given that even the slimmest of strategies, even the ones which tapered off sooner than you would have liked or that never really got off the ground, did some important work–work like getting you registered on your social media platforms of choice, or acquiring some followers on your blog.
  2. Resetting does mean taking stock. It’s time to make an inventory of all the marketing strategies you’ve tried, and running some numbers. What kind of engagement did you see on this or that social media platform? Did you see more success with Twitter or Instagram? Your blog or your Facebook page? And this is just as important: How much time did you spend, on average, marketing through each of these avenues? Get that down on paper (or pixels), too. Don’t cast any judgments or make any emotional calls until you’ve had a chance to actually run these numbers and put them all on one page.
  3. Then you get to make some judgment calls. And yes, your emotions about these things totally matter! If you had a negative personal experience with a social media platform, Twitter for example, you may not feel comfortable returning to it for marketing reasons. And that’s okay. That would make for a great reason to try out an alternate platform, if it leaves you with a gap. If you’re quitting Facebook, try Goodreads. If you’re quitting Twitter, try Instagram. If you’re quitting Snapchat, try YouTube. There are so many choices to choose from! But keeping it manageable is the real trick here.
  4. Keeping it manageable applies to all aspects of your marketing. If your original marketing plan fizzled out without much success, it’s usually because either the original plan was A) too ambitious, or B) not ambitious enough. You’ll know instinctively which of these was your struggle simply by looking at your inventory of time spent marketing. And if your original marketing plan stalled out because you were exhausted from trying to keep all the balls in the air, very likely you’d be in the former category, not the latter. If you were in camp B), it’s time to experiment a little. I can’t force you to, and it’s very likely I can’t even entice you to, but I will certainly encourage you to pick up one or two new marketing strategies this year–and to go back to the beginning, as if you’ve never marketed your book before. (Just be sure to hang on to those followers and strategies which you’ve already established.) If you’re camp A), your reset must include scaling back. This doesn’t mean burning bridges or quitting social media platforms altogether, however; I suggest announcing your new plans on all of your platforms, even to the point where you announce you’re scaling back on your engagement in some areas so that you can focus on others. This gives you a chance to direct your followers to those platforms where you saw the most return on your time and energy. while still giving those followers on less-high-return platforms something to remind them that your book exists and you care about them as readers. But you do need to scale back the time and energy you’re spending on marketing if you find yourself burnt out. You need to feel free to experiment and play and enjoy yourself, too!
  5. Resetting means returning to the things which bring you joy. Resetting is about recovery, and rejuvenation, and starting afresh. You can’t start afresh if the very thought of marketing, or of doing more, depresses you! Worse still, your potential readers can totally pick up on a lack of enthusiasm, given their skill at … oh, reading between the lines. So focus on those things which bring you joy. What platforms, marketing strategies, and daily marketing habits were the least intrusive? Which ones made you smile? Focus your energy there for a while. It’s okay to pull back, take stock, and re-center on those things. I give you permission. The world gives you permission. Your book gives you permission! And once you’re in a good place, you’re in the perfect place to craft the architecture of your next marketing plan–and to start growing those strategies which will bring in your next harvest.

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 With Elbow Grease

Over the last several weeks of this summer, I’ve written about the difficulties of both making a fresh start when getting started and having to re-start your marketing plan when something goes south. Both of those involve a lot of work, it’s true, but this week it’s worth reminding everyone (including myself) that the work is worth it.

I wrote recently about my gardens being stripped accidentally. Well, after having a mini-meltdown and lapsing into total self-loathing and disappointment for a few days, I decided to take a couple of baby steps. I did a soil pH test one day, laid down some fresh soil the next. Ordered a couple of packets of wildflowers and bush beans the day after that. Took handfuls and spread them out the following weekend.

Now, things are starting to come up. It may not be the garden I first envisioned, and it may never again look like the original, but it’s still something. And it still makes me happy. It brings me joy.

Just like writing, and marketing, when I see the first signs of success.

gardening

The elbow grease needs to be there. It’s never going to be the easiest thing, marketing. But it also doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you do each day. Line it up after your fifteen minutes of foreign language learning each day (Duolingo is brilliant, isn’t it?), your half-hour walk, and your afternoon smoothie. Making marketing just another part of your routine, something that has a little bit of structure but not so much it interferes with the rest of your day, is critical to it remaining a long-term part of your life.

I should know. I’ve been to the marketing (and the gardening!) doldrums this summer with you. I know what it looks like. And I’m here to remind you: it’s not the end. It’s never the end. It’s just another part of your life, and you get to make it fit with the rest of who you are and what you do. And in the end, you’re going to sell some books simply because you were willing to show up for a few minutes each day and remind the world that you have a brilliant new book out there in the world, and it’s ready to be read.

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.