In Your Corner: A Soulful Christmas

happy holidays

This is the time of the year when there’s snow on the roads in my part of the world, the days are short and dark by five in the evening, and everyone’s going a bit stir crazy.  Tensions are at a fever pitch, but so too is that special brand of optimistic cheerfulness which washes over and around the people I care about.  Some people may not celebrate the religious aspect of the Christmas holidays, but you can’t help but love some of the perks they bring with them: hot cocoa and cider to drink, quilts and kittens and friendships to keep us warm, generosity to celebrate in giving and receiving.

It seems almost callow, perhaps, to talk about marketing in the midst of all this good-feeling.  What does the commercial machine have to do with empathy and generosity?

Here’s the thing: What’s good for you as an author and what’s good for your relationships is also good for business.  

I’m not just talking about the “family-friendly” or “family-owned” propaganda issued by big businesses like Starbucks or Chipotle or REI; I’m talking about your relationships on a personal level, and starting from the ground up.  The real revolution in how we do business has to start with actual human connection rather than the cold and soulless opportunism that we’ve been taught is the marker of successful companies and their high-level officials.

So this Christmas, I’m not going to encourage you to break out a couple of new strategies for self-promotion success for several reasons–including the fact that we’ve already done so in past Christmases: here, here, and here––but rather to refocus on what you consider the most valuable and worthwhile aspects of your relationships.  I guarantee you this: if you put your friendships and your loved ones first, the rest will fall into place.  Friends want to hear about what each other do and love and are working on, and when your relationships are in tune you’ll know instinctively when it’s a good and natural and 100% organic moment to do so.

Who you are as a writer fits within a broader framework of who you are in connection to the other people in your life.  Authenticity isn’t just nice; it’s imperative.  It just makes sense that what’s good for your relationships would be good for spreading the word about your book, and the ingredients for a joyful and happy holiday season would also be the perfect recipe for a productive time for you as a self-publishing author!

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: No Gimmicks, No Exaggeration…We Are Thankful For You!

It’s almost Christmas! Which is to say, quite a few feast days and religious holidays are fast approaching. What will you be doing this holiday season? How will you spend the day?

Among other things, we here at Self Publishing Advisor will be spending Christmas celebrating you. Because you’re awesome, and you have been so incredibly kind to us as readers and supporters of all things self-published and self-publishing. We couldn’t have asked for more generous-hearted, more wise, more curious and inquiring minds than than you. You keep us young, you keep us honest, and you keep us on-point in collating, generating, and celebrating the advances made in self-publishing over the last decade.

I’m new to SPA, but the blog itself has been around for quite a while. We had our eight-year blogiversary just a couple of months ago. In the age of the Internet, eight years is a massive accomplishment! So thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for being the massively accomplished and wonderful people that you are.

thank you

We hope you get a moment today and every day through the holidays to pause, catch your breath, and find yourself some headspace. It’s a frenetic time as we close out the year, but we’re here for you, and we’ll be here every weekday and Saturday with more quality content to keep feeding that hungry heart and mind of yours. If you have any suggestions as to content and themes as we move into a new year, we’d love to hear those too! We want to deliver material that you actually want to read, so burn up our comments section a little, okay? Or drop us a line in private–that’s fine too.

Thank you, dear readers, for another wonderful year.

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.

In Your Corner: Making sense––of the holiday drop-in.

How do we prepare for the holidays?

Oh, look, I get it–after weeks and weeks of holiday-themed newsletters, emails, blog posts, and tinned Christmas music piped over the mall speakers, it’s easy for the season to lose its luster. And it’s true, after so many days and weeks harping on the same note (angelically, we hope) the holidays can begin to feel a bit … stale.

But that’s why we keep trying to come at it from different angles! Appropriately, too, since that’s what today’s post is all about: brainstorming new and fresh ways to prepare yourself as an author and your book too for this festive season. How do we best make use of the holidays and market our books to visiting friends and family, co-workers, neighbors, as well as the general community…without coming off as opportunistic…or worse, stale?

Here’s my suggestion:

Do what you love to do during the holidays, only find a way to be an author as well as an ordinary shopper, gift-giver, and so on. You don’t have to sacrifice anything, least of all that all-too-precious authenticity, in order to be both and do both.

Maybe you like baking cookies. I’m a traditionalist–gingerbread, snickerdoodles, sugar cookies, and sandies for me! But my family? Their roots go way back, to date-filled oatmeal cookies, cappuccino flats, Scandinavian almond bars, pfeffernüsse, orange and ginger shortbread, and all sorts of delicacies I’m not much good at putting together. (Dipping stuff in melted chocolate?? Only if it’s a spoon or my hand, thanks. Otherwise, the entire house gets decorated in splatter.)  Here’s the thing, though: no matter what you like to bake, it’s a great excuse to make the rounds at your neighbors’ as well as pretty much any social gathering you can think of–potluck, luncheon, shower, office party, etc–and to spread the word about your book at the same time. Tuck a bookmark with a picture of your book on it into the basket of goodies, and voila! Word is spread, and without great expense while keeping you doing the thing you love best at the holidays.

Or maybe you’re a nice version of the Grinch, in that you want to do anything other than another holiday-themed thing. In that case, you can lift a page from REI’s #OptOutside campaign (only perhaps we should call this #GoodGrinch-ing? I’m sure you can come up with a better hashtag). Throw a party, any other kind of party that is, or maybe launch a little crowdsourcing campaign of your own where you ask others to partner with you in doing something bigger and greater than just buying your book. Like REI, can you transform a single consumer behavior–abstaining from shopping for a day, in their case–into a statement? Maybe you decide to start a matching strategy, where for a limited time, for every copy of your book that is purchased, you’ll gift a copy to local libraries? Or perhaps, for every three copies of your book that are purchased, you donate a shoebox to Operation Christmas Child? The possibilities are endless. The key is to remember that you yourself have to believe in the mission you’re setting out to accomplish, and that mission is more than just making bank. The great thing about this idea is, too, that it can be adapted to other times of year! (But you have to admit, it’s really well-suited to the holidays.)

There are so many ways to branch out during the holidays, bringing fresh air to the age-old necessity of marketing your book effectively while also maintaining your sanity (and integrity!) at a busy time of year.

 

christmas visit holiday

Have you found a way to market your book around the holidays that doesn’t feel stale or opportunistic? I’d love to hear about your experience. Please drop me a line in the comments section, and I’ll include the best ideas in next week’s “In Your Corner” post!

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.

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

Conversations: 12/25/2015

LET ALL THE WORLD KNOW (Part IV)

Last week’s blog felt a bit sappy to me. Sometimes being sappy can be a good thing. So I thought I’d continue in that vein this week and talk about the MIRACLES that happen when writing. After all, we are in the December Season of Miracles!

christmas tree

For most of us who call ourselves Writers and/or Authors the simple act of sitting down TO write is a miracle. There are days when the storyline or the main character(s) may blur in our imaginations—then another miracle happens and suddenly we are joyously experiencing the perfect words spilling onto the page with clarity and ease. Below is my Santa list of favorite books I’ve found under my Christmas tree over the years—and—if I were a billionaire I’d send these to every writer/author in the world.

 

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This timeless story continues to give me hope for the future of our world—that minds and hearts can be healed and nurtured toward good.
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. A dream miracle adventure that allows my imagination to soar.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Totally captivating with each character clearly developed and alive as they discover the depths of Faith and family connections.
  • The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson. Such a poignant story demonstrating that what appears to be tragic circumstances may become miraculous.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz. With the new Peanuts movie out in theatres, the superb characters in all the Schulz stories will continue to lift our spirits and teach us many good life-lessons.
  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. A reclusive woodcarver is asked to make a Christmas crèche. What happens next blesses every Reader.
  • The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell. What does an angel give the new born Son of God as a birthday gift? The answer has been enriching imaginations for a long, long time.
  • The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado. This story brings unexpected gifts to Readers as they discover that even the prayers of “little lambs” are answered.
  • The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg. Strangers are rarely met with open arms these days. However, in this story, a young girl befriends the special stranger and learns of an amazing mystery that reveals the beauty of Christmas.
  • Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub. For more adult readers, this true tale is about warring soldiers (Germans and Allied Forces) who placed candlelit Christmas trees on trench parapets, sang carols, and shared food parcels from home.

 

Of course, I could add a few hundred more to this list of favorite books, but the Eve of Christmas is drawing nigh and I must rest my hands to begin a new chapter of my new novel in the NEW YEAR.

christmas tree2

May all the books you’ve published (and are ready to publish) find their way under many a Christmas Tree. And, as tiny Tim says, “A Merry Christmas to us all; God Bless us, every one!” ⚓︎

 

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

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.