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.

 

From the Archives: “5 Reasons to Self-Publish in December”

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.

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[ Originally posted: December 4th, 2013 ]

With so much going on in December, you may be wondering if now is the right time to self-publish your book. Here are five reasons why December is a great month to start the self-publishingprocess.

Savings

Many self-publishing companies are getting in the holiday spirit by offering great deals on publishing packages and marketing options. This can save you money and provide you with services that will enhance the success of your book.

A Gift to Yourself

Publishing a book is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. The sense of accomplishment and pride is better than any box of chocolates or new sweater. Celebrate the holiday season by giving yourself the memorable gift of self-publishing.

Plenty of Time to Market

By starting the self-publishing process in December, you will have your printed book early in 2014. This gives you the rest of the year to market your book and plenty of time to accomplish your yearly marketing and sales goals.

A Jump Start on Your To-Do List

If you are reading this, “publishing a book” is probably on your 2014 to-do list. Start the year off right by checking it off the list before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

Be a Part of a Great Trend

According to Bowker, the self-publishing market is up 59% compared to last year.You can be a part of that amazing statistic and be a part of the changing publishing industry.

Happy Holidays!

– by Kelly Schuknecht

2016 is not 2013, it’s true, but some things hold true–including these five reasons to self-publish in December which I originally posted waaaaay back when. But look, it’s all well and good to pat myself on the back for being accurate three years ago. What about now? What’s new in terms of arguments in favor of self-publishing in December?

I have one big contribution, a stellar sixth reason:

Holiday Marketing Bundles

The market and industry have both come a long way in three years, and one of the things an increasing number of self-publishing companies offer is a holiday marketing bundle geared towards providing both discounts (and attendant big savings) as well as specific services geared towards boosting sales during this generosity-inducing time.

Now, Christmas might seem like the absolute worst time to lay out a big chunk of change on your book when it could be going to so many other good things. And it’s true that there are other good things well worth investing in during the winter holiday season–friends, family, needy strangers, coffee kiosks–but I would argue, gently, that this is the perfect time. After all, you’ve been working hard all year to get your book out–and typically, a well-marketed book will move the greatest bulk of its copies during the months between October and January.

I of course have a slight vested interest in holiday marketing bundles–my employer, Outskirts Press, offers a stellar example. I don’t shy away from mentioning this because I truly believe in the quality of services that Outskirts offers, and have had the pleasure of working alongside the staff who put this deal (and others) together. But no matter where you choose to pick up your bundle–while the details may differ a little–the core principle remains the same: bundling services allows for great discounts, and for very refined targeting of your consumer base.

Now, if you miss out on the holiday marketing bundle this time around, don’t panic! There’s always next year. And you won’t even have to wait a full twelve months for such an opportunity; there is always a small bump in sales around late spring and early summer as well, due to the “beach reads” trend, and this gives you plenty of time to recoup those unavoidable (and, let’s face it, sometimes inexplicable) holiday expenses!

winter christmas holiday decorations

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.

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

In Your Corner : Christmas Traditions!

In this busy world, our equally busy lives can sometimes get in the way of passing along traditions to our family.  Publishing a novel, a memoir, a cookbook, or some other piece of writing is an oft-neglected but rewarding way to pass on our traditions–as well as our special holiday stories–to family members and to our friends!

pierogies pierogi varenyky

For example, take the cookbook.  There are infinite varieties and forms that the cookbook can take–no two cookbooks look or feel or read the same, even if they overlap in terms of recipes.  Why is that?  Well, for one, a cookbook is first and foremost an artifact of its author’s personality, history, culture, and interests.  The most interesting cookbooks, in my opinion, are not the ones produced by Williams Sonoma (as swoon-worthy as we all find their copper pots to be) or even Cooks Illustrated (although, let’s face it, we like the science).  Books produced by committee may have their strengths, but they don’t lock in the same quality of story.

Take these three cookbooks, for example, all of them put out by Outskirts Press:

We have Sleeping with the Seven Fishes: An Italian Christmas Cook Book (2013) by Mike KC; Firewood, Family & Friends Cookbook (2010) by Cheryl Paninder; and the Easy as Hell Dinner Party Cookbook (2013) by Bill Bjorkman with Michael Cilella of the Cox Roosevelt Inn.  And as you can tell from first glance, they’re all radically different books!  One is geared specifically towards the holidays, one towards the cozy kind of relationships we prize during the holidays, and one towards the home cook with ambitions at throwing a gourmet extravaganza.  (I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is which!)

What’s most important to note about these books, however, isn’t the covers themselves but what the covers and titles and typography–and all of the other graphical elements–combine to imply about the stories behind the individual books.  These are the things that are worth taking note of as a self-publishing author–and whether you’re thinking of publishing a cookbook or some other type of book, the same principle holds true–because these are the things that grab a reader’s attention in the bookstore and compel that person to carry your book all the way to the check-out clerk.  Authorship isn’t exactly a cult of personality, but it can sometimes be useful to think of a published book the same way you might think of a person going in for a high-stakes job interview: presentation matters, because it conveys a lot about that book’s/person’s backstory.

 And for better or worse, people connect with story.

 
spiral cut ham

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:

It is my hope and wish that you enjoy a wonderful, relaxing Christmas–a Christmas thickly textured with the best kinds of traditions!

 

Merry Christmas!  

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT 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.

In Your Corner : The Gift of Self-Publishing

Today, if you’ll let me, I’d like to speak a little bit about the gift of self-publishing–about how it’s a gift not to have to wait for an agent to accept your book, how you no longer need to give away your rights, and how with self-publishing, you’re in control of your book, your creation.  I want to speak about how self-publishing is a gift that keeps on giving to–quite literally–everyone who is touched by the process, from authors to readers to–yes, I mean it when I add–those who publish through or work within the boundaries of traditional publishing.

christmas gift self publishing

A Gift to Authors

I’ve already mentioned the fact that, with self-publishing, you maintain full creative control over your masterpiece from start to finish.  You also retain your rights, your royalties, and total control over your book.  The profit goes where it should go (into your pocket), the look and feel is exactly what you dictate, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you have brought your original vision into the world exactly how you wanted to, full-fledged and ready to meet its ideal readers.

A Gift to Readers

And let’s not neglect to give those readers their moment in the sun!  With self-publishing exploding onto the market in recent years, there’s an ever-more-broad and ever-more-diverse range of books for readers to choose from, new discovery tools to use to find new books, and ever-evolving ways to read those books.  I’m talking about e-readers and ebooks, smartphones and tablets, social media platforms and websites like Wattpad and Fanfiction.net.  Many of these websites lack the “respectability” of a professional product only in the eyes of purists; by and large, people are coming around to the idea that what makes for good reading and good writing boils down to personal taste–and there’s absolutely no reason to denigrate another person’s preferred reading material.  I’m even talking about websites like LinkedIn and Etsy, which smart authors and smart readers are repurposing to serve as new conduits for self-published works.  More options doesn’t always equate to more reading, but many of the tech-savvy silicon generation are connecting the dots and teaching each other how to leap that gap.

A Gift to Traditional Publishing

By broadening the field to make room for more authors and more works, self-publishing has raised the bar for the entire publishing industry.  Traditional publishing houses have been forced to adapt, evolve, and rise to the challenge presented by a diversified, richly textured market.  They can no longer sit back and take it easy when it comes to dominating sales; instead, the traditional industry is turning away from relying on mass-marketed and mass-printed books and towards so-called “niche” offerings.  This is good news for everyone, because niches are petri dishes for innovation and further change.  Authors can experiment more, readers can expect to find more cutting-edge work on bookstore shelves, and so on.  Which leads beautifully to my next point:

A Gift to the Marginalized

When reinvention is the name of the game, even the stodgiest of stodgy institutions tends to open its doors–or at the very least, crack a window––to let in texts or conversations that might previously have been deemed unacceptable or controversial.  As Zetta Elliot writes for the School Library Journal, “Like racism in police forces across this nation, racism in publishing is cultural and systemic.”  And why is racism a problem, specifically, in the publishing industry?  Miral Sattar of Mediashift puts it another way:

Ever since the birth of my daughter last fall I’ve become more acute to the fact that we live in a whitewashed world, and I don’t want her to go through the same experiences that I did as a child. I became more conscious about buying books that tell stories with characters from varying backgrounds. It’s hard to come by these books from traditional publishers since less than 6 percent of books published in 2012 had diverse characters. You have to look really really really hard or resort to buying books that have talking animals.

Sattar, who grew up in a Pakistani-American household, writes of attending publishing conferences and often finding herself the only woman much less the only woman of color in a room.  Like Elliot, she has felt the sting of underrepresentation, and understands what it means to grow up almost entirely locked out of the day-dreams and fantasies that others so take for granted.  (Astronauts, anyone?  President of the United States?  Mage in a fantasy universe?)   And skin pigmentation is just one reason that traditional publishers have historically used as an excuse to not publish certain books (and it’s a terrible reason, let’s face it).  With a new film adaptation of Annie and the advent of the new Hamilton musical, it might seem like we are making progress on this front–but authors like Elliot and Sattar warn of the dangers of complacency, especially since there are so many other factors that publishers still use and abuse in the same fashion.

Here’s the good news, though: self-publishing has become a safe-haven for authors of color, neurodivergent authors, and authors keen to address civil rights issues.  And readers are hungry for these books, hungry enough to prompt traditional publishers to get in on the movement.  Change to any institution so dead-set in its habits will be hard-won and slow, but it is happening.  If you have felt that there was no room for your work in the market, cast your eyes upon self-publishing!

You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT 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.

12 New Year’s Resolutions for the 12 Days of Christmas (part II)

Well, today marks my last blog of 2014, so it’s only fitting that I finish my list of New Year’s resolutions with both a bang and a whimper—or rather, with a mixed list of strategies that require me to take initiative and steer clear of some of my past faux pas!

I resolve to …

#6: Read more.

Yes, yes, I know it’s a bit trite to say that “good writers are good readers,” but there is some truth to the matter (as there often is, with trite statements).  I have let my reading lapse a smidgen this year, for a variety of reasons, and as a direct consequence I find my ability to verbalize my own ideas is suffering.  In general, I find that a deficit in input results in a deficit of output, and for me that translates to: “No reading, no imagination.”  I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but I for one resolve that this year I will reestablish my reading routines, and reintroduce my mind to the minds of others through the written word.  (Or, more written words.)  As with many things, I’ll try to remember to practice the “quality over quantity” adage.  It’s more important to have an enriching rather than a time-intensive experience!

#7: Try a new format.

There are so many formats in which we can publish these days that the list can grow overwhelming—hard cover editions, paperback editions, Kindle editions, Nook editions, e-book editions, .pdf files, audio book editions, and et cetera—and like many authors, I tend to channel most of my energy into work within my comfort zone.  This year, I resolve to try a new format for a book that I haven’t tried before.  I haven’t quite decided which of these formats I will choose and for which piece, but I promise you (and you can hold me to this!) that I won’t allow myself to get stuck in the “research” stage for so long that I neglect to actually produce a new product.  Perhaps you’d like to join me?  Let’s jump into 2015 by making it easier than ever for readers to access our work!

#8: Make more inspiration boards.

Ever heard of an inspiration board?  Essentially, it’s the practice of putting together a visual display of objects, quotes, and other things that create a focused touchstone for your writing.  For example, an author who’s writing a book set in the corn fields of Nebraska might put together an inspiration board that has some pictures of corn fields in various lighting, a couple of quotations about the hardships and rewards of farming, and maybe a song or two that really captures the desired mood or atmosphere of the piece.  In this day and age, it’s really easy to make inspiration boards.  You can actually put one together physically (see this excellent blog post by the Procrastinating Writer), or you can take advantage of tools like Pinterest (see this equally excellent blog post by Melissa Donovan over at Writing Forward).  Personally, I enjoy using my hands to put something together in the real world, but the interactivity of digital forms can be really great, too. This year, I resolve to play around more with this idea of the inspiration board.

#9: Build a community. 

I’ve already resolved to be more ambitious with my social media presence (see #6 on last week’s list!).  Much of a self-published author’s success lies in his or her relationship with readers, and in establishing a community of people who are just as invested in consuming good writing as the author is in generating it.  Over and beyond just creating more social media platforms to reach more social media users, this year, I resolve to build and broaden my community of readers by reaching them where they are at and giving them what they need.  By keeping my various blog posts about creating a social media platform in mind [here, here, and here], I will tweak my digital presence and refine my physical outreach to meet my readers’ needs, rather than just satisfy my own vision of this idea of ‘presence.’  To do so, I will first need to understand that community, perhaps through polls and surveys, and perhaps through a more effective use of Google Analytics.  It is my hope that understanding will lead to outreach will lead to genuine and authentic connection to my readership.

#10: Write more. 

I know we say this every year, but I really mean it!  This has been a year of major changes for me, as I’m sure it has been for many of you, my readers.  Changes in my family, my work, my health, and so on.  When you consider the fact that we’re social creatures, any change in my network comes rippling back to me, so that a new addition to an in-law’s family or a friend’s vacation plans can become a distraction—for me!  A large part of buckling down to do the thing I love is, I’ve discovered, narrowing my focus and eliminating distractions.  And the self-published author can’t afford to let writing lapse.  I can’t exactly stop change from happening, and I definitely don’t want my family to stop expanding or my friends to stop going on vacation, but I can take initiative in establishing healthy emotional boundaries that keep these changes from becoming calamities.  This year, I resolve to make writing as much of a habit as eating a healthy breakfast (another practice I need to improve upon, I’m afraid).  Whether it’s fifteen minutes or eight hours a day, I will get some words out of my head and onto the page!

#11: Celebrate success.

Because writing and self-publishing is my job, not just a hobby, I sometimes fail to celebrate the successes I’ve already achieved.  Perhaps you’re this way, too, in that it’s hard to justify taking a moment away from the stacks and stacks of to-dos in order to take pride in what has already been done.  But that’s not a rewarding way to live, as we all know well!  So, this year, I resolve to celebrate each and every success, as I check items off of my list of resolutions, or bring other goals through to execution.  You and I both love to celebrate other peoples’ successes, so taking a few minutes to practice joy over our own shouldn’t seem like such an outlandish notion.

#12: Take action. 

I find this perhaps the most important resolution of all, given my own predilection for procrastination in making good on resolutions in years past.  I hereby pledge not to let this list sit here just as a list, but rather to turn it into a tangible action plan for the coming year—not a list of obligations, mind you, that weigh on my conscience if I fail, but as a coda of potential ideas to launch me into 2015 in the best possible shape.  Carpe diem?  After all, as a self-published author, I understand that while I have to work hard to make what I love to do a success, I want to remain in love with what I do.  And that’s always the hardest part, isn’t it?  If I fall out of love with writing and self-publishing, well … I don’t want to allow even the seed of that thought to germinate in my mind.  And so, I will think of this list as inspiration, rather than obligation—inspiration that I can make good on, by decisive action.

 

And so we begin a new year, with hope, and an eye for progress.  I am so lucky to have had you all as readers, and I look forward to another year in partnership with you!  If you have any resolutions or ideas that didn’t make my list, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments box, and watch this space on Wednesdays in 2015 as I blog my way through some of these resolutions!

KellyABOUT 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.

12 New Year’s Resolutions for the 12 Days of Christmas (part I)

I know it’s a bit early to be setting my New Year’s resolutions in stone, so I’ll consider this post something softer than stone, more easily reshaped, but still very much real and solid and tangible––perhaps something like the digital version of putty or artists’ plaster, which will slowly resolve itself into fact. 

My real reason for getting started early is twofold: I want to give myself the time to really think through the list, and I want to give you the time to put some of my resolutions to your own good use as 2015 rolls in.  And so, with no further ado:

I resolve to …

#1:  Host a new kind of marketing event. 

I must admit, I’m fairly predictable when it comes to planning marketing events––I know what I’m good at, and what I’m comfortable doing, and that pretty much boils down to short readings and Q&As at local libraries.  In 2015, I resolve to try something new, or rather, to plan and attempt to execute at least one event that isn’t a reading or a Q&A session at a local library.  You’ll note I used the hazy word attempt just now.  I think it’s important to put together a plan and to make a few phone calls, but not to shackle myself to an impossible agenda.  If, for example, my (very-beginning-stages) notion to put together a bi-weekly podcast proves an enormous drain on my time and energy, then I may need to reevaluate in a few months.

#2:  Attend a new kind of marketing event. 

If I’m predictable about the kinds of events I host, then I’m even more predictable when it comes to the events I attend.  This last year, I’ve been a regular on the book-signing and book-reading circuits, but these are not the only events out there.  I need to diversify what I do so that I can become both a more well-informed reader and a more effective marketer myself!  In 2015, I resolve to attend at least one webinar, book festival, or other marketing event that is a little outside of my comfort zone.  Even if I have to travel a couple of hours to make it, or rearrange my work schedule for a few days, I intend to make this resolution a priority.

#3:  Learn some new code. 

I know a little HTML, but I’ve been out of the coding game for a spell.  It’s time to dive back in, particularly with an eye for coding––whether HTML, CSS, Java, or some other programming language––that can boost my digital footprint.  In 2015, I resolve to read at least one book on the subject, or attend a class, or otherwise broaden my understanding of at least one of these codes.

#4:  Try out a new digital device or software application. 

There are any number of apps out there which I can download to my iPad or e-reader which can help me keep track of my ongoing efforts at self-promotion––and many which can actually help me improve.  In 2015, I resolve to research, discover, and incorporate at least one new digital device, program, or app into my life, with a specific intention to boost my marketing efforts.  This resolution may actually pose a good challenge, since I have little to no idea of where to start.  There are so many possibilities!  The real trouble is narrowing the options down to just … one.

#5:  Launch a new round of SEO campaigns. 

I’ve written extensively about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before.  Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach!  In 2015, I resolve to put into effect a rigorous and updated SEO program to boost web traffic to my websites.  I’ve dabbled in a great many of the strategies out there at one time or another, but with little accountability and thoroughness.  This time around, I want to be more organized about my SEO efforts––and more regular.  It’s not enough to apply some of the techniques some of the time––I need to apply most of the techniques on a regular basis, or else it’s all just wasted effort.  Readers respect reliability!

#6:  Establish ambitious goals and healthy boundaries for my social media presence. 

Just as I’ve casually speed-dated most of the SEO stratagems out there without committing to any one plan, I’ve felt my way around all or almost all of the major social media platforms––Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and many others––without putting into effect any rigorous plan of action.  I’ll post a picture to Instagram one day and forget about it for a few weeks, then write ten tweets in quick succession, only to let my twitter handle lapse for months on end.  In 2015, I’ll put together a calendar, and a schedule, to better handle my social media accounts.  I pledge to dismantle the accounts I don’t actively use or am failing to use effectively, and pour my time and energy into the outlets that do effective work for my self-promotion.  I pledge, too, to make a habit of timing my posts, so that readers know when they can expect to see something new show up on one of my websites. 

… and you’ll have to stick around until next Wednesday for the other six.  In part because I’ve reached my word limit for the week, and in part because I want my final six resolutions to be even better than my first six!

Can it really be––almost––2015?  It’s hard to believe, sometimes, that this entire industry has been born and made, and remade, and evolved into endless permutations––all within my lifetime.  All within living memory.  The printing press has been around since the 1300s, but since then the process of making and selling books has never seen such a rapid and total transformation as it has within the last twenty years, and perhaps even the last decade.  Digital publication and distribution, e-readers, self-publishing, collaborative writing forums, viral marketing—we live in an exciting time that shows no signs of slowing down.  I, for one, hope to match the broad spectrum of these changes with a few, specific, targeted evolutions of my own.  I’m going to start small, here, in the new year.  In 2015.  I hope you’ll join me!

If you have a question about any of these tools for self promotion, would like to hear from me about something specific, or have other big news to share, please comment below!

KellyABOUT 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.