In Your Corner: Put Your Vacation to Work!

laptop flowers

Oh, I know–turning a vacation into a working vacation isn’t necessarily what you had in mind for your summer, but the fact remains: books aren’t going to sell themselves, and when it comes to being an indie author, there’s not a moment to be wasted.

Even … vacation hours.

Maybe even especially vacation hours!

Luckily for everyone, there are some easy ways to boost your sales and make your vacations work for you rather than against your book sales!

Vacations and the reunions that go with them can be the absolutely most ideal time to market your book and gather some new readers. Or maybe old readers. Age doesn’t matter. Everybody reads, especially when they have a personal connection to the author–you! Reunions are a fantastic place to tell family members, friends, and other personal connections about your book and where they can buy it.

Then there’s the most magical of all summer vacation destinations: the gift shop, the ultimate place to display and present your book for shoppers and readers on their various road trips. And while you travel, too–any stranger you meet on a trip is only a stranger until you break the ice by sharing your book!

Of course, if you’re going to make the most of your vacation, there are some things to keep in mind. You’ll need to:

Keep up with your social media.

Before you take off for the beach of the mountains, schedule. Schedule, schedule, schedule. Facebook has a lovely, easy tool built-in to make this possible–simply put your posts together, and click the drop-down arrow next to the ‘post’ button and input the date and time of your intended schedule.

But what about the others? There are quite a few tools out there to manage all of your media at once. Hootsuite is one, Later.com another, Buffer yet a third. Do your due diligence and pick a service that fits your needs, and be aware that there are free options, so you should theoretically be able to take care of your scheduling needs affordably. Once you have an account, all you have to do is preload your tweets, your posts to Google+ and Instagram and so on.

And of course, be safe! Play up your travels as much as you like as a kind of promotion, but don’t make a point of mentioning how long you’ll be away from home, or other personal details that the disingenuous might exploit. Take pictures and make plenty of memories to share later!

Network!

Take full advantage of your trip to plan for the future. Is there a writing conference taking place in one of your destination cities? Get on the list. Are there book readings? Could you plan a book reading at one of the libraries near your beach or mountain idyll? Local writing groups are another great option. Plenty of people might be interested in having you speak about the process of self-publishing.

And of course, come prepared. Keep a pack of business cards, bookmarks, postcards, posters, and a couple of promotional copies of your book on hand, and practice your elevator pitch thoroughly before hand. If you haven’t yet invested in some merch, go ahead and start down that glorious road. Think outside the box, too: is there a way to promote a giveaway while traveling, guerrilla style?

Make it a GRAND tour!

Some of the items on your agenda are a given, no matter what kind of vacation we’re talking about. But it’s well worth your effort to look into the libraries, museums, gift shops, bookstores, civic spaces, and other places that might serve as a spot for a reading, signing, or other promotional event. If your book somehow relates to local history or events—even better! Marketing your self-published book shouldn’t take up all of your precious vacation time, but spending even just a handful of minutes each day checking Twitter or arranging a couple of book readings will help support the marketing and sales momentum you’ve worked so hard to build–not to mention pay for an even better vacation next 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.

Conversations: 12/2/2016

THE WRITER-AUTHOR-MARKETING SPECIALIST

We have all survived November’s politics with much THANKSGIVING around the holiday table! Now it’s time to focus on the book(s) we’ve written with a fresh perspective toward the 2016 winter holiday marketing season. Are you ready? OR…are your knees knocking? I must confess I a bit stuck somewhere in-between. However, every year I learn little more—become familiar with new marketing techniques—and develop connections with folks who can help me. SO, let me put your mind at ease. No matter where you fit on the sliding scale of preparedness, we can all do something to promote our published books—AND—be inspired to continue writing current projects. My blogs this month will share a sundry of ideas to help you.

character writing fireproof proverbs

You’ll be reading this blog in the 1st week of December, therefore my first encouragement to you is: DON’T PANIC!

If you’ve peeked into the marketing blogs, magazines and how-to books you’ve probably read that authors must start marketing for the Christmas Holiday Season IN OCTOBER! I don’t know about you, but I’m writing my next book (and coaching two other authors in the development of their books), so I totally missed the month of October—and November. Now, it’s December 2nd and I’m recalling a wonderful piece of advice from a very well-known author I met at a Writers Conference. He said: “Continuous one-line conversations will sell your books any time of the year, but most especially during the winter holidays.”

What did he mean by “one-line conversations?” You probably already know—Facebook and Twitter first of all, then creating one-line quotes from your book that can be placed on your blog, Instagram and Pinterest, and everywhere else online that you can reach. For example, here is a quote from my self-published book: FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words.

Most authors I know are also using one of the EMAIL marketing sites to send out weekly hello’s to a collected list of Readers and writers. The emails I find most appealing are the “short and sweet” ones that encourage my own writing efforts. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction this is an excellent marketing tool. However, I’ve discovered that I need help with offering potential buyers something that is of value to them and nudges them in the direction of my book.

If you self-published the team that supported you to get your book in print and online can also help you with marketing through multi-level promotions. Their experts can develop a series of emails that build excitement for your books and/or video clips that will play on YouTube plus many other suggestions that are specific to your needs.

So…this week I hope you will take a deep breath, relax, and begin thinking about the exciting month you will have promoting YOUR book(s). Those of us who are introvert writers CAN do this because of all the things available to us on our computers IN THE COMFORT ZONE of our writing rooms. The professional “assistants,” who have the expertise to help us, also love to communicate via emails. And once you’ve entered into this marketing realm—well—you just might find it a lot of FUN! ⚓︎


Royalene

ABOUT 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: Be the Life of the Party…Literally!

book club book party coffee tea nature

It can be hard, reinventing the wheel. Every holiday season, the same challenges and opportunities roll around–and every author is forced to decide: this one, or that one? Host a reading at the library, or coordinate a potluck and book sale at home? Or, worst of all, there’s the option of letting the holidays slide–of letting them drift away in a haze of busy schedules and truly important family and social demands–without making use of them as an author.

My suggestion? Host a holiday writing party! This isn’t your plain-Jane reading or book sale, although you could definitely incorporate elements of those tried-and-trues into your new plan. No–a writing party is much more inclusive and much more fun for kids of all ages (“from one to ninety-two” as Nat King Cole would put it). And while you are still the facilitator and secret power-broker behind the scenes of a writing party, you’re not the sole event–and at this time of year, that’s a blessing! No really, one can only pull off the holidays if one is expected to carry every burden. And typically, once the idea of a writing party is broached, everyone is eager to pitch in!

If you’re thinking “Hey! That’s not such a bad idea!” then I have a couple of suggestions, based on prior experience (I love these parties!):

  • Have everyone bring a dish, and in a twist have them steer clear of the typical holiday goodies, which everyone will very soon be sick of from sheer quantity–candies and cookies and so forth. Instead, have them bring something inspired by one of their favorite books! Kids might find something in Redwall to inspire, and there is an entire genre dedicated to “geek cookbooks” online, where you can find cookbooks (official and unofficial) with recipes from The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Little House on the Prairie, among others … so this is not such a difficult challenge to meet. (And adults: there are endless lists of cocktails inspired by literature out there, so don’t be afraid to crack open that bar after the kids go to bed!)
  • Dedicate a part of your session just to snacking. It’s worth it, and it gets the chatting and the fiddling and the greasy fingers out of the way before the serious work begins. There’s usually a quiet lull in the conversation about twenty minutes in which serves as a nice segway–but again, everyone’s party should be tailored to suit your specific vision! Just make sure that food is stored away from the writing table, since messes do tend to happen–and everybody has a favorite “loud chewing sound” story! (Hot beverages are usually handy at the table, though.)
  • Then, get down to business. You’ll know what this ought to look like when it happens, and when it feels right. Every book club, writing club, and party has its own rhythm, but don’t worry–you’ll know. Sometimes it’s helpful to keep a timer nearby, or to set one up on your phone–breaking writing up into a couple of shorter sessions with quick snack and bathroom breaks in between is one way to keep everyone’s blood moving and energy up. And if that doesn’t cut it, consider leading a couple of breathing activities or even–yes!–yoga moves! Studies indicate significant improvements to focus in intellectual activities when the body is kept active and balanced. (It helps with carpal tunnel syndrome, too. Shake out those cramped wrists and fingers!) Oh–and don’t forget to offer up a couple of writing “prompts” for anyone in need of inspiration, and gear them towards your audience. Adults may want to write fiction–or letters to loved ones at Christmas. Kids might want to doodle or draw, or slay a dragon in five paragraphs or fewer!
  • Wrap up with a quick reflection. Try to steer clear of putting any one person on the spot, but offer up a couple of open questions about books, characters, challenges, and more. At this point, or as the last writing session is wrapping up, you can begin bringing the snacks to the writing table. The goal is for everyone to reach a point of total relaxation and contentment, and holiday joy.

Be inspired. There are so many shapes and forms your writing party might take–it may look nothing like the one I’ve described here–it might be outside, with just a couple of friends, or inside, with a pack of small children looking on. It could be held at the library! Or at your kitchen table. There’s no one way to hold a writing party–but a writing party is the best kind of party. After all, like the adult coloring movement–like Knit Night–like quilting and gardening and origami and yoga and meditating on one’s reading, writing is an activity which triggers serotonin release, calm, peace, and rejuvenation in those who take part in it. We can’t think of a better way to kick the holiday stress than by hosting a writing party!

What do you think? Will you have a chance to host an event this Christmas season? We’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line in the comments section below.

book party grandpa grandfather grandchildren children

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: New Year’s Eve Edition!

Blogrunner’s Note: This is the post which was scheduled to post on Wednesday, November 23rd. For some reason unbeknownst to us, it failed to post successfully—so we’re bringing it to your feeds today! And still in plenty of time for NYE, thankfully. Thank you for your forebearance.


As New Year’s Eve approaches, we authors can often be found meticulously scribing resolutions for becoming more active writers or more active in our book marketing in the coming year. Some of these resolutions are probably rehashed from last year’s list, resolutions that we just couldn’t seem to uphold. They are resolutions that have become Ghosts of New Year’s past, ever returning to haunt us and remind us of our floundering in hopes to try to inspire “real change” this time around.

2017 happy new year

Hopefully when you look back at 2016–presuming you aren’t actually the Scrooge–you will have done some great and productive things that can be built on in the year(s) to come. That’s one of the great things about New Year’s: it forces us to look ahead. It is a unique day–much like a birthday–that reminds one of the passing of time, and that another year of our lives has “just begun,” so to speak.

So with 2017 about to begin, as an author it is important to evaluate what are important aspects of your writing and publishing that you need to improve upon. If you’re like most authors, when you’re trying to formulate goals, resolutions or whatever label you want to give them, you are probably at least in part motivated by a desire to sell more books.

While marketing is not every author’s forte, it is essential to be as skilled at marketing as you are at writing, that is, if you ever want anyone to read your stuff. If you set aside time each day for writing, why should you not also set aside time for marketing?

This year, I implore self-published authors to set aside 30 minutes a day for marketing efforts. 30 minutes is a  small enough amount of time that the tediousness of such a task won’t weigh on you, but over days and weeks, it is enough time to help you make huge strides in building your audience.

In those 30 minutes you can do a myriad of things. Reach out to people on Twitter, Facebook, Google+. Reach out to blogs that have a similar subject matter as your book. Gues what? Getting featured on a blog means that you get to do what you actually love–writing–while also promoting your book. It’s a two for one!

Creating a Goodreads profile, updating your Amazon author page and updating your headshot are all also quick and easy ways to revamp your book marketing.

Another relatively easy task that can fill your 30 minute time slot is to send emails to potential reviewers. Reviews are a monumentally important marketing tool, especially when they’re reviews from respected authors or professionals. Speaking of respected professionals…it’s never a bad idea to send a signed copy of your book to your college alumni magazine as well!

In summation, this New Year, commit to a small, daily marketing effort that will pay off for years to come.


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: Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

It’s hard, sometimes, to gage the tangible benefits to holidays—the quantifiable results, the data—that everyone seems to feel is required to justify holiday-centric marketing strategies. The qualifiable results are, however, incredibly easy to chart: good feeling, open pockets, generosity of spirit, and a hopeful attitude go a long way not just towards selling books, but towards building a resilient and flexible social media presence (see last week’s Thursday post) and a support network that will tide you over through the non-holiday seasons, when we don’t have pumpkin pie spice and green bean casserole to console us.

If we want to talk about “making use” of Thanksgiving—and any other holiday—-it’s well worth taking the time to consider what, exactly, it is that Thanksgiving means to you. I mean, we all know the legend of Thanksgiving, replete with kindness and hospitality amongst bygone peoples of the Eastern United States during a tenuous time, but we don’t all have a reason to celebrate in November, period—Fall is a time when stretched budgets sometimes stretch a little too far, and snap, and threadbare bank accounts become well and truly rough. So what, if anything, does Thanksgiving mean in a time of short tempers and emptied reserves? Looking at other peoples’ beautiful table settings on Pinterest will only get you so far.

thanksgiving table

Here’s my theory:

Thanksgiving is a time for doing, every bit as much as it is about giving and receiving. After all, the whole “giving and receiving” thing gets a real workout around Christmas. And in a smaller sense, at Halloween and even Veteran’s Day, when we give thanks to our servicemen and women—very important in its own way, but not the only mode of being to inhabit as a self-publishing author.

Thanksgiving is a time for activity, for wrapping up all the things that have been left unfinished at other times of year—a time for completion, for stepping back and looking at the whole and then by golly sitting down and filling in the holes. The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t just to give and receive thanks; the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to get ‘er done. To see yourself and your book and your marketing campaign and your social media strategy through the rough patches that inevitably accumulate on the leading edge of the end of the year. It’s not, contrary to legend, a time to sit around and kick up your feet and wait for good things to happen (or, more appropriately, to pop out of the oven and onto your dinner plate). Delicious as a fresh-baked cobbler is, it’s not quite the point.

If we wanted to look all the way back to the Quakers and the First Thanksgiving—and let’s face it, like it or not Thanksgiving is a time rife with nostalgia and historic musings—we should be honest about what it was like for them. They only celebrated because the gifted foods and skills given them by the local tribes kept them from starvation—and then, only just. The Quakers almost starved. Many of them did starve. It was not a time of plenty; it was a time for surviving, and for acknowledging those who helped them to survive. The time for celebration isn’t after everything is done and the harvest is in; the time for celebration is now, when the struggle and the busy-ness and the insanity is at its height.

If that seems like a hard concept to make good on, that’s because true gratitude is actually a hard thing to express—and so too is true need. I hope you know that we here at Self Publishing Advisor are a part of your network, a resource to enable your resilience. We’re here for you this Thanksgiving, to help you get it done.

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: 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