The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part IV)

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 holiday fire book

The trees have shed their colorful fall foliage, the air has grown crisp, the kids are back in school, and you know what that means? The year’s final holidays are just right around the corner. This is a time of year to celebrate, not only because it means the return of pumpkin spice lattes and apple crisp, but because it is a time of year devoted to giving thanks, sharing delicious food and thoughtful gifts, and it is a time to gather with and spend time with those we love and cherish.

You can further celebrate this time of year as an author by innovating your marketing strategies, as there are certain advantages to marketing this time of year that aren’t available to you on just any summer day.

With an increased amount of shoppers trying to fill stockings and fill out the base of their Christmas trees, it is imperative that you’ve nailed down who exactly your audience is. Is your book a children’s book? Make sure your book is made available in local toy stores and maybe put some flyers up in local day care centers, libraries, and schools. Also, think of how great your book could be as a stocking stuffer for family members; being generous with your book this time of year could lead to more readers not only within your family, but whoever your family ends up sharing it with as well.

This is also a great time of year for holiday giveaways online. Vamp up your blog with relevant tags, and host your giveaways there! Post on pages relevant to your story–this could be anything from a Facebook page of the state your book takes place in, a Facebook group of readers that your book might appeal to, or maybe even to a Facebook event in your area that fits the theme of your book.

Remember that Christmas stockings are often full of Amazon gift cards; do you have an ebook to offer all these new potential buyers? Going digital means that there were literally be MILLIONS of people who will have access to your book, who never would’ve come across it otherwise. If you already have an ebook version, ask your readers for a priceless holiday gift: a good review online.

christmas stack of books coffee holidays

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:

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.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part III)

fall autumn book

Several weeks back, we began this series by introducing the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, we discovered, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we continue to run semi-officially with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the next post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special. Last time, we looked into the guiding question of “what’s next?” Which, as it turns out, is taking your existing habits and tweaking them to better serve your marketing goals–in a sustainable fashion that won’t undercut your existing routines and interests.

What comes after “what’s next?”

Next comes the holiday-specific part! Now that you’ve eked out some additional sustainable habits (that will continue working in your favor year-round, of course!) it’s time to think about what little bits of “extra” you can fit in around the holidays that support your ongoing marketing strategy and also take advantage of all those little things you can only do around the holidays.

Thanksgiving

To hit upon some high points we keep returning to year after year on this blog:

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. Tap into that spirit and, in the spirit too of the diagramming and recording we’ve done since our previous post, start brainstorming the ways you can merge celebration with marketing. Will throwing an event at the local library do that for you? Will putting up posters around town? Hosting a discount or giveaway on your blog and book sale page? Think of those strategies which you can put together quickly, easily, and without adding undue stress at a busy time. We’ll be back next week with more thoughts on specific events, tips, and tricks you can use that fit the bill for simple and stress-free!

These holidays, 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 season, to help you get it done–and to help you celebrate your wonderful book!

fall autumn book blanket coffee

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part I)

alchemy ingredients

In my last post, I introduced the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, of course, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we’ll be running with this definition from Merriam-Webster: “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” Which then means that an alchemist is someone who is the agent of that transformation. Merriam-Webster, for the record, has some lovely historical notes on the history of the term’s evolution, including:

alchemy alchemist

You, dear author, are an alchemist. And your marketing plan can really benefit from approaching the process with that in mind. Alchemy is all about transformation, and transformation requires something to be transformed. Which begs the question (as we foreshadowed last week):

What do you have or bring to the table as an author that’s special?

The answer (which is, of course, “a lot”) shapes what comes next. All authors share the same fundamental ingredients: a manuscript (published or yet to be published), a method, and a vision. But each of those three components will be shaded by your personal approach, interests, and unique voice. And they are the base material upon which your marketing must perform its alchemy in order to introduce your book to its ideal readers.

This is where I recommend taking a leaf out of the bullet journaling page, or out of accounting’s reliance on spreadsheets. It doesn’t particularly matter what medium you use to take stock, but take stock you must, and create a baseline record of what you’re already doing. Sit down and diagram your day. What all bits and pieces of your day are related to the writing and marketing process? Do you already use social media for personal communication? How about email and newsletters and listservs? What part of your day or week do you carve out for creation, and the writing of new material? Once you’ve taken stock of several weeks in a row, you’ll start to see patterns emerge, and you’ll get a good sense of what the outliers are. (i.e. Maybe you spend one whole day browsing Netflix because you’re bored or frustrated and need escape. That’s fine … but that’s probably not a typical day. It’s an outlier and while you must make allowance for the ongoing existence of outlier days in your life, you don’t want to let them define or move your average.)

habit tracker

Many authors make the mistake of thinking that marketing is a one-size-fits all system, and that every recommendation made out there on the Internet will apply to their specific situation … and that’s just not the way of things, sometimes. Rather than starting with a list of marketing ideas and trying to apply them all at once or without alteration, start with your existing habits and see where you’re at, and what sorts of rhythms might work with your habits. You may already doing things that are the perfect platform for marketing, and you may already lead a life that makes certain marketing strategies redundant, inapplicable, or unlikely to succeed without significant cost (in time and energy as well as money). Diagram your days, make note of your habits, and then—only then—can you move on to the next question.

What is that question? Next week, we’ll get into it.

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

6 Reasons to Add Postcards to Your Author Arsenal

There’s no doubt that book marketing can be challenging.  And giving advice or instruction on how to market a book is also not without its challenges. What works incredibly well for one author with one book may not deliver nearly the same results for a different author with a different book.  That is why the best recommendation of all is to start deliberately, slowly, and small – with measurable steps that produce measurable results. Then, once you find something that works, ramp it up.

postcards

For instance, some authors have a wide variety of branded and customized promotional materials at their disposal: business cards, publication announcements, postcards, posters, etc.  These are typically best suited for the extrovert author – the type of writer who loves the public eye and attends book fairs, book signings, and author events. At these events, every person you meet is a potential recipient of a branded piece of collateral, especially a business card.  Posters, too, are obvious in their purpose (book event signage to make your space stand out). But what about postcards? Well, stay tuned! If you are an extrovert author (or even if you aren’t), here are six great reasons to add branded, customized postcards to your book marketing arsenal:

  1. Invitations. If you’re attending an author event or book fair, postcards are the perfect way to notify everyone in advance. Sure, you should post the notice on Facebook and your other social media platforms, and email everyone you know, but in this day and digital age of electronic media, there’s still something about receiving a postcard in the mail that makes it stand out.  And standing out is what good book marketing is all about.

  2. Solicitations.  What if there is an event or conference that you want to present at? Same rule applies from number one.  An inquiry into a speaking engagement will literally speak volumes if said out-reach arrives in the way of a branded, customized postcard with your (eye-catching) cover on the front.

  3. Influencers. Speaking of out-reach, a successful book marketer never stops promoting themselves, their book, and their business (with diplomacy, of course). If you’re looking to catch the attention of influence-makers (other authors, experts, bloggers, and book reviewers), a handwritten custom postcard will certainly increase your chances.

  4. Media Chow.  Members of the media get bombarded with interview requests from self-publishing authors all the time, but most of those inquiries come in the form of email, Facebook, Linked-In, or Twitter.  Imagine the impact you would have on a local journalist or DJ if he/she actually received a handwritten postcard from you in the mail, with your eye-catching, full-color book cover on the front and a short pleasant note on the back introducing yourself and asking for a short meeting to pitch your story (remember, you pitch stories to the media, not books, and not yourself).

  5. Follow-Ups.  Many of the people you meet as a published author will present opportunities. In fact, you may not even realize what the opportunity is until later that day or even the following-week.  Sure, you exchanged business cards with them, but so did everyone else. Which author is going to follow-up with an email and which author is going to follow-up with a custom postcard in the mail?  And of those two, which author do you think those influence-makers are going to take the time to contact?

  6. Thank-Yous.  With all these book fairs and author events you attend, and all these media contacts, influencers, and writers you meet, eventually it will be time to thank someone. And that’s a great time for a personalized, branded, customized postcard. You can’t give a free book to everyone you want to thank, and a business card isn’t a “thank you” (it’s a gimmee), so postcards are the perfect compromise!  People typically only receive postcards from loved ones on vacation (if that anymore!), so postcards still possess a degree of intimacy while being entirely professional and appropriate.  And for that, not coincidentally, your recipient will thank you, also.

brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Is It Time to Relaunch Your Book?

book launch

Publishing a book for the first time can be an exciting proposition. Dreams of hitting it big can fill your eyes with stars and the world with hope.  Sometimes those dreams come true immediately, but more often than not, reality has a way of stifling even the most optimistic writer.  Success rarely comes immediately, even for those “overnight successes” you hear about in the news. What the news often fails to tell you is how many months and years that “overnight success” toiled tirelessly to reach that brass ring.  Often, the only difference between success and failure is not giving up.

If the bloom has fallen from your publication in the absence of overnight success, now is the time to dust off the dust and get excited again.  Your book is still published!  You are still a published author! And things in the marketplace may have changed in your favor since you’ve put the book on the back burner.  Bring it back to the front and let’s relaunch your book with all new zest and zeal!

1. Re-announce your book
Repeat all the steps you took when you published the first time. Does it matter that your book isn’t brand “new”?  No.  It’s new to anyone who is hearing about it for the first time, so that’s more than enough reason to widen your net.

  • Notify close family and friends in person and by phone or text
  • Notify an even wider circle of friends and associates via email and social media
  • Mail promotional announcements or postcards to everyone you know

2. Use social media
Depending upon how long ago you initially published your book, things may look quite a bit different in social media, and those differences can represent an opportunity for your book that may not have existed before.  Was Facebook the behemoth it is today?  Were videos on YouTube as popular as they are today?  If you were marketing a book even as recently as two or three years ago, the landscape is completely different now.  You may find more success with a book video trailer, more success with a Facebook page, and more success with author readings or events.   The world of independent writers is still growing, which means the community is becoming more vibrant and active in all circles of life.  That activity can translate to awareness, which can translate to word-of-mouth advertising, which can translate to increased book sales.

3. Update your author platform
If your attention on your book has waned over the past several months or years, chances are your author platform is in need of some loving care, also.  Check in on all the social media profiles you set-up when you were initially published.  Is your profile picture still a good representation of you? Do any of your other graphics or images need an update?  Has it been a while since you’ve posted anything on your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Linked-In accounts?  Refocusing on book marketing means refocusing on all the elements involving your writing career.  You may discover that as you get more excited about your book, so, too, will readers.

4. It’s never too late to START marketing
Perhaps your attention waned shortly after publication because reverence and riches didn’t follow publication as soon as you had hoped.  Perhaps you didn’t put as much effort into marketing as you could have when your book was first published.  That is very good news!  Why?  Because that means all the opportunities you had when your book was first released are still available to you.   People rarely pay attention to when a book was written or published.  All they care about is whether it will solve their problem, or entertain them, or help them prepare something delicious to eat, or help their children fall asleep peacefully.  No matter how “old” your book may seem to you, it’s brand new to everyone out there in the world who hasn’t heard of it yet.   Start marketing your book TODAY and help those people find your book.  


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.

In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list. 

In Your Corner: What Happens … After?

what's next

There’s a lot that goes into bringing a book to the point of publication … but there’s a lot that comes after, too–as you likely already know, since you’re here and reading this post.

So … where to start? Planning out what you’re going to do now that your book has been published–or if you’re one of the more prescient among us and are looking ahead, when your book has been published–is almost as important as writing your book. Not quite, maybe. You wouldn’t have a book to market if you didn’t actually write the thing, so there’s that. But it’s undeniable that a careful, thoughtful, and strategic plan for what comes after–after the writing, after the publication–is vital to making sure your book actually sells.

I have a couple of questions to help you get started, questions which might just shape how you go forward after publication:

  1. Do you plan on selling your book on your own at a local event or book signing? If yes, make sure to watch what your publisher charges you for book copies. There’s quite a lot of legalese and fine print to parse, especially when we’re talking about vanity presses and self-publishing companies which privilege profit over people. If you don’t understand immediately how much your author copies will cost, both now and in the future, it’s probably a sign that the company in question is trying to make it hard to understand. And that’s never a good sign. Go with a company which goes out of its way to make the author copy situation and pricing transparent and easy to understand! And one which offers you a consistent discount. No matter who you go with as your publisher, you’ll want some physical copies on hand. They’re amongst the best marketing tools you have!
  2. Are you planning on selling your book online? Watch out for the prices of other books in the same genre or content area; pricing your book correctly will go a long way toward making sure it sells. Don’t trust Google to answer the pricing question for you, either … thousands upon thousands of blog posts and pieces have been written in the past to explain the intricacies of the Amazon marketplace, but the situation with online retailers like Amazon and B&N is always fluid and changing, so even if we’re talking about an article written this year, the information may already be out of date. There’s a fine line between overvaluing and undervaluing your book; the former will cut into your sales figures, and the latter will make it hard to turn a profit, no matter how many copies you sell! The best policy is to do your own market research–and this is doubly useful, since you will learn a lot about how books similar to yours make use of the digital sales space–with giveaways, sales copy, and linkages across social media.

And look, it’s okay if you’re not yet through the publishing process. It’s always a good time to plan ahead. In fact, knowing what you’re going to do after your book is published will help you select the right publisher to fit you and your book in the first place! Before you open your pocketbook and give someone your money, you absolutely should consider all of the fine print and the advantages available to you … both during the publishing process itself, and during the marketing and support periods which come after.

Luckily, you and I both live in a day and age when there are plenty of options available, so you rather have your pick of the buffet. Some publishing companies are long on publishing assistance and short on marketing, and others are the opposite. Some offer stellar services across the board … but at a price which is too high for the average self-publishing author. And others … others walk the tight rope between quality services and affordability, and walk it well. The key to making the most of your money is to have a good sense of what has to come after publication, what you want to come after, and how your existing resources and skill sets fit into the picture. Your priorities are paramount, and have everything to do with crafting a solid plan for your book’s future.

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.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 6)

goodbye summer

Summer’s Over … What Next?

Here’s a hard thing for me to contemplate, much less say ….

Sometimes, we have to move on.

And at the end of Summer, as we transition into a new school year and all of the challenges and possibilities which it has to offer, I think we have to consider the reality and visceral truth of this statement.

Sometimes, we have to move on.

There’s no better time to do it, really. Ending something, after all, is often a doorway into starting something new–and we all need a reminder of this every now and again, especially when or if we find ourselves stuck in ruts and looking for a way out.

Oh, don’t get me wrong–everything I’ve said throughout this series ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 ) is still true. If you have the willpower and the resources–and everyone has just a little of each, for sure–then you should definitely keep plugging away at marketing your existing, already-published indie books. You should definitely work on innovating your strategies. You should definitely think forward to the holidays now while you have the chance.

But also … you should probably end a few things. If you’ve been hammering away at the same marketing strategy for a while now with no change in sales prospects, it’s time. If you’ve been chipping away piecemeal at a new manuscript and have lost the joy of working on the project, it’s time. If you have been sending queries out to editors, agents, and traditional publishers and receiving only rejections in reply ….

It’s time.

Ending things–bad habits, dependencies, wish-dreams with no likelihood of fulfillment–is agonizing. I have no illusions about that. And it can be absolutely terrifying to cut off something now without a clear plan in place for the future. But if I’ve discovered anything–and I have some personal news to share in the days to come on this–it’s that sometimes you have to end a thing before you can really, truly, and clearly think about what comes next.

So here are my last thoughts in this series, where we have considered oh-so-many ways to sharpen your marketing strategies and hone your self-promotional skills:

  • Recognizing a thing as incomplete, unproductive, or simply “not working out” and deciding to end it is not the same thing as giving up. It’s giving yourself a new way forward!
  • We all face some tough decisions in the days to come, if the news reports are correct, and we simply can’t afford to entrap ourselves in habitual behaviors if they’re not producing the kind of results we need to see.
  • Y’all, our dear readers, give me constant hope that with a bit of diligence, a lot of pluck, and a community of writers and writing professionals to surround ourselves with, we can find a way forward, together ….
  • Even if it means ending a couple of things now.

What have you been trying for a while that isn’t working out? Is it time to tweak or a time to change tracks entirely?


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 outgoing 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