Taking It On the Road

Whether you’re facing the stresses of commuting home for the holidays–like sitting in a car or airport for hours–or the stresses of hosting and feeding your extended family for days on end, you’re probably not getting much time in as far as writing or book marketing goes. The past few weeks we’ve done blogs focused on how to bolster your marketing efforts during the holidays, but you may find yourself unable to make time for those efforts.

on the road asphalt

While some holiday stress may be unavoidable, your support team at a company like mine (Outskirts Press) may have some suggestions for at least mitigating it and remaining as productive as you can in the midst of the flurry of holiday travel, shopping, socializing, hosting and dining.

Let’s say that your flight has been delayed due to inclimant weather and you’re stuck at the airport. This could be seen as a wild inconvenience, or as an opportunity to sit down and write a chapter of your book, or maybe even spend some time on book marketing. Write a blog and broadcast it on all of your other social media networks to get more traffic on your pages–then your time has inadvertently gone from being wasted to being productive!

Squeezing out these windows of productivity doesn’t have to come from unfortunate travel mishaps, though. If you find yourself stuck in the kitchen waiting on Christmas cookies, ham or pie, why not bring along the laptop and get some work done? And when you present your goodies to your company, maybe suggest that everyone bring along a favorite holiday themed poem or writing clip to read before you feast. This will provide you the opportunity to share something you love–writing–with those you love most. I’m always surprised by how excited people become when sharing a few words of their favorite authors. This seems to give me newfound motivation to produce more thoughtful material, especially after experiencing a shared enthusiasm for the written and spoken word!

While those are two small examples of how to stay sane and at least slightly engaged in your writing and marketing during the holiday season, that’s not to say that you’ll make an abundance of progress in any small window of time. Mitigating stress should be your number one priority, and if thinking about marketing your book during the holidays is too overwhelming, never forget the power of asking for a helping hand. We at SPA are always here to help you get through the holidays, and if I can put in one little plug for my employer, Outskirts Press’s Holiday Marketing Bundle is a great way to make sure your book marketing doesn’t falter just because you’re a busy bee!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Ringing in the Holidays: Christmas Edition!

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

I remember a favorite tradition of mine growing up was making a long list of books that I wanted  for Christmas; it was long enough that I’d only get some from the list, so I was always excited to see what ones they had chosen! I remember the year when I saw that tradition, which I loved so dearly, come to an end. When I ripped open the box I presumed would be full of books, I discovered that my parents had chosen to give me a Kindle that year instead. Though my attachment to tradition made my reaction seem slightly disappointed I’m sure, I realized that this was a thoughtful break from tradition on my parent’s part, because in their eyes, this provided me “all the books I could ever want.”

I tell this story, because there are ways in which we can revamp holiday traditions so that they remain in tact, but also serve our book marketing strategies. A lot of people will be putting Kindles, ChromeBooks or iPads under their Christmas trees this year, so it’s best to: first, get an ebook version of your book if you haven’t done so yet, and second, promote your ebook both before and after the holidays to boost your sales!

If one of your traditions is sending holiday cards, think about tweaking that tradition by getting custom made stamps with your very own book cover on them. Also consider adding custom book marks promoting your book, or coupons for your friends and family to download your ebook, to your holiday cards.

Heck, if you want to make book-themed ornaments, those would be great stocking stuffers too! That’d be a yearly reminder for those close to you that you are a writer, and that you might have something new out by the time they’re hanging your ornament from an evergreen branch next holiday season.

Another age old tradition that I’ve always loved is advent calendars. While that’s probably mainly because I love candy, there is something exciting about counting down the days to Christmas. Give you readers the same kind of excitement by releasing an “advent series” of your own on your blog and social media accounts. Give pieces of your story each day leading up to Christmas. Hopefully each piece of your story only further encourages people to add your book to their shopping lists!

The main message I want to send for this Christmas is: think outside the pleasantly gift-wrapped box and get creative with traditions. Don’t be afraid to try adding new twists to timeless customs.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Ringing in the Holidays: Thanksgiving Edition!

This Thanksgiving when you’re preparing to gather with family and friends, tummies longing for turkey and pie, you are most likely looking into recipes to satisfy those appetites. You may be collecting ingredients such as pecans, canned pumpkin, potatoes, gravy, or big birds. You don’t want anyone leaving your home hungry and you sure don’t want to show up to any one else’s home empty handed.

These same preparations and considerations should also be taken if you’re planning on staging any events this holiday season. Book readings also have a list of crucial ingredients that will ensure success in the form of a satisfied audience. A gathering for your audience should receive the same care and attention that a gathering for your family would, especially if your audience includes your family.

Just like any recipe, there are a few ingredients that can’t be substituted for anything else. Without them, you won’t be making much of anything. One of these ingredients is a location. A space that can both accommodate your audience and also set the mood for your event is fundamental. Don’t be afraid to utilize this holiday–which gathers those closest to us in a warm and welcoming space–to read some short snippet or your work aloud. Insert it before the meal when people say grace or express gratitude for food and family.

thanksgiving table

This brings me to another essential ingredient: an audience. Self-promotion of your event is essential, without it, don’t expect a crowd. While reading to yourself in front of the mirror is always good practice, it’s no substitute for the ears of others. Our books aren’t written for ourselves, but to share with others. Consider showing your gratitude for your family this Thanksgiving by sharing copies of your work with them.

Sharing your work implies another essential ingredient: books. This is another no-brainer. Make sure you have copies of your book to provide to those who have been inspired enough by your reading that they want to see more. If this means simply giving them away on the holiday or ordering copies for an upcoming event you have planned, always make sure at least enough on hand to supply your demand. If Thanksgiving has anything to teach us, it is that leftovers are never a bad thing.

In short, we all know we put in more time during the holidays making sure our homes look nicer for our mother-in-law’s approval and we make sure we have bountiful supplies of food to feed our nephew’s with bottomless guts. You perform the task of host during the holidays. This performance can teach us a lot about what makes a successful authorial performance. You want people who feel satisfied after they’ve received your offerings–be them of food or words–and it’d be ideal if they took home some leftovers–be them from your refrigerators or libraries.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

In Your Corner: Marketing for Anything-But-Dummies

Have you ever wondered what “proper” marketing support might look like, and how imperative it is to self-publishing successfully? What about implementation–have you ever wondered what effective implementation of your carefully-planned-out marketing plan might look like, too? I’m going to spend a bit of time this Thursday thinking through some of the answers to these questions.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years of working with self-publishing authors, both as an author myself and as an author advocate and representative for other authors with Outskirts Press, it’s that there’s quite a lot of truth to the statement that “preparation is the key to success”–but as Marie Forleo puts it, sometimes “the key to success is to start before you’re ready.” How do we make these two things compatible? Aren’t they mutually exclusive?

the key to success is to start before you're ready marie forleo

Here’s a thought: what if they’re not?

I don’t think they are, and that’s because I think “preparedness” and “readiness” are two separate modes of being. Preparedness, in my mind, is the process of taking concrete steps to plan ahead for whatever you can, and putting in place measures–good habits, good coping mechanisms, and good thoughts–that will see you through any times when being prepared will do no good. Readiness, on the other hand, has more to do with confidence–and sometimes, your sense of how ready you are for a thing may or may not line up with what you’re prepared for. Sometimes, we won’t feel ready to get started on a thing even if we’ve planned thoroughly and set our good habits in stone. Those are the moments, I think, that Marie Forleo speaks to–the moments when we just need to get started, whether or not our feelings line up with reality.

Proper marketing support, then, should help you both prepare and, hopefully, acquire the confidence to feel that you’re ready as well. And as my fellow writer Kelly Schuknecht pointed out in her “Marketing Master Strokes” series of blogs earlier this year, effective marketing strategies require a willingness to reach your readers where they live, to incentivize, and to play well with others–among others. “Proper” marketing support will assist you in doing all these things–and if that seems a bit beyond the pale for the ordinary self-publishing company, luckily, there are several extraordinary self-publishing companies–and I know I’m a little biased, but I happen to think my coworkers among the Personal Marketing Assistants working for Outskirts Press count as extraordinary. So if you feel like some of these points might be beyond your reach, consider reaching out and making contact with the experts, either through a paid service or through a more casual network, as on social media.

The best part of looking to the experts is that doing so will assist you in execution as well as in planning–so you’ll get the best of both preparation and readiness. Or at least, that’s the goal.

It’s hard to boil down all of the salient points regarding marketing into one coherent blog post, but luckily, and perhaps it’s a little trite to say “oh, I’m not ready to do that” given the context of today’s subject (you can tell how some of my jokes bomb around the dinner table, can’t you?). But the fact of the matter is, Self Publishing Advisor has been a resource for self-publishing authors looking to market their books for most of a decade now, and our archives are rife with posts on the subject–including those by Kelly that I mentioned earlier. If you’re looking for those concrete steps to transform the broad strokes we’ve brushed here into tangible steps, her series is spectacular. I highly recommend taking a look!

Marketing Master Strokes:

  1. What do ears, geysers, and self-publishing have in common?
  2. Be willing to reach your readers where they live
  3. Incentivize!
  4. Play Well With Others
  5. Try Every New Thing

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, 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.

Ringing in the Holidays: Black Friday Edition!

Black Friday brings a lot of not so flattering imagery to mind, from shoppers pushing each other out of the way in Wal-Mart aisles to lines of people camped out outside stores and lines of traffic stymied on the highway. Black Friday has become a quasi-holiday of sorts, mainly because it is an American tradition that dates all the way back to the 1930s. Yes, that far back.

Regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season (again, ‘quasi-season’), retailers began opening their stores a bit earlier the day after Thanksgiving back in the 1930s. Today, some major retailers will open right after Thanksgiving dinner, or midnight–or other hours no one should be out shopping–offering promotional sales to those who are obviously not suffering from a tryptophan induced turkey coma, and who are thus able to storm out into the night for the deal of a lifetime.

Supposedly the cognomen “Black Friday” originated in the 1960s in Philadelphia, where people used the term to describe the abundant foot traffic and cluttered streets. I rather like to imagine that it’s perhaps more fitting today; people whisking out into the dark night, stalking up and down aisles and preparing to battle other predacious consumers over that new X-Box or flat screen TV. If you think that’s a dramatic depiction of Black Friday, keep in mind that seven people have died on this day since 2006, and there have been about 98 injuries associated with the Black Friday shopping madness.

Entertaining history digression aside, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, which means that as an author with a book to sell, it is not a day to sit back and relax. So, what can you do to rake in some of the Black Friday business?

black friday holiday

First of all, BIG discounts are all the rage on Black Friday. Offering your book for an extremely cheap rate will assuredly promote ‘impulse’ buys from people who might otherwise have considered giving your book a chance. While you don’t always want to offer your book out for an extremely low price, doing so on this particular day could be beneficial for gaining new readers!

Another thing to consider: 99 cent or free ebook editions of your book can gain you free advertising on free or bargain ebook sites. These sites will want to feature your book when it is discounted, and that feature will be free advertising for you, before people even buy your book! Notify these sites when you discount your book, and try to line it up with Black Friday; snag online shoppers who are looking for a deal or to try something new!

Collaborating with other others who have books similar to yours is also a great way expand your marketing efforts. When you combine promotional efforts, this means that their audience becomes your potential audience! It’s a, ‘You scratch my authorial back, and I’ll scratch yours,’ kind of thing. The best thing about this collaboration is that you will enhance your network for book marketing in general, which obviously expands well beyond Black Friday!

So, whether or not you see yourself armed with pepper spray for self-defense as you go out to buy the new iPhone 10–or whatever number they’re on now–just remember that before Black Friday, there’s a lot you can be doing to market your book. More importantly, none of those things require the bravery and fortitude it must take for someone to actually go shopping on that day.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

Ringing in the Holidays!

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 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.

We know here at Outskirts Press how busy this time of year is. We know that you’re also out shopping for you families, preparing turkey feasts for your families, carving pumpkins for your porches, etc. etc. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to the gift of our services that can help you with these marketing tasks that are so important this time of year!

holiday sales marketing

At Outskirts, we have a marketing package that includes a custom press release, an author platform setup through social media, a book trailer with social network distribution, AND you get 5 hours with your own personal marketing elf…I mean, assistant. This is a great way to ensure you don’t miss out on the perks of holiday marketing, but also ensuring that you don’t miss out on the holiday cheer because you’re too busy worrying about marketing your book!

Click here to find out more:
http://outskirtspress.com/book-marketing.html


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

From the Archives: “Determining What Book Readers Want”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: July 20th, 2010 ]

Your book content – fiction, non-fiction, children’s, religious – naturally presumes a value to readers intending to be entertained or learn something from your work. How do they decide they want to read your book?

They don’t. You do. Sound like an incredible power? It is. Its name: Marketing

When Thomas Edison turned 16 do you suppose he wanted a Tesla Roadster? Probably not. In order to want something you need to know it exists. One definition of marketing is convincing a a mass of people to want what you have. That puts you, the author of your book, in the cat bird’s seat. Who knows your book better than you, after-all.

How readers know about books has changed a great deal over the past decade, and my guess is that trend will continue. With Amazon, Twitter, Podcasts, Bookfinder, etc. we no longer rely on a single-minded source for telling us about books. A good CEO (the self-published author) knows how to leverage the expertise of others and delegate work. Consider the long-term. Research self-publishers with ongoing marketing support and services. Being published is rarely even enough.

– by Kelly Schuknecht

“Readers are not sheep, and not every pen tempts them.”
Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our heats? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?”
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

***

When we talk about knowing what we want and making our readers want it to, it’s not quite the same thing as the sales pitch for selling a car. (Although sometimes I envy car salesmen their confidence.)  When we talk about selling our readers on our book, we’re talking about something more grand and with farther-reaching effects–we’re talking about selling that reader on a dream.  We’re not simply marketing, as nice and simple of a descriptive term that might be. We’re in the business of changing the trajectories of peoples’ interests … with nothing more or less than the power of words.

know what you want

Which is not to discount the profound importance of marketing in the world of self-publishing! Marketing isn’t optional for the self-publishing author–it’s absolutely vital. How else will new readers know that your book exists? How else will they know where to track it down and buy it?

You can’t sell readers on a dream if they don’t know it exists.

So how do you keep your marketing strategy from dipping into the hazardous waters of the car salesman’s sales pitch? Several thoughts:

  • Be authentic. We dislike car salesmen as a stereotype at least because we’ve been taught to perceive them as fake.
  • Actually care. Care about your reader. Remember, writing and selling a book isn’t just about your bottom line. It’s making sure your book is received by its ideal audience at the ideal moment. Money is great, but it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of what authors do–and your readers can sense when it is. Prioritize your readers’ needs by putting yourself in their shoes. What is their native habitat? Where do they feel safe? How can you reach them where they already live?
  • Be engaged. You might not be able to respond to every tweet and Facebook comment you receive as an author, but making an effort to respond to readers regularly on the platforms they love is a great signal that you’re not some aloof writer who’s out of touch with the world you live in.
  • Give back. There are a lot of fun ways to do this that drum up your marketing base, too–giving is, in fact, necessary to receive. Consider giveaways, donations, free webinars or live chats, and all of those other ways in which you as an author can interact with your readers in a way that’s fresh and honest and mindful of their needs.

Remember, too, that marketing doesn’t have to be boring. You’re not selling a car. You’re selling your book. And your book is amazing!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.