Planning for 2017: Plans for the Pantser

This week we’re going to talk ‘plans for the “pantser.”’ No, not plans for someone who likes pulling people’s pants down, but rather, plans for someone who is writing or marketing by the seat of their pants. Now it may seem counterintuitive to think that if you’re doing something by the seat of your pants that you’d have any sort of plan at all, but it doesn’t have to be! Sometimes we’re forced to write by the seat of our pants because life is so busy, thus we need to plan around our busy lives to make time for our writing.

clock with wings procrastination

So, how is it that we can plan as we go when writing or marketing our newly published book? First off, set aside time for writing or marketing every day. If you only have five minutes, so be it. Make a social media post, pat yourself on the back and call it a day. If you have multiple hours, make some serious progress on that chapter or blog you’re working on.

If you haven’t begun writing yet, start by researching to get an idea for your story. Once you have a story idea, write a 100-word synopsis–one you’ll find on the back cover of your book when you successfully publish it in the future!

When you finally get the ball rolling and start having regular writing sessions, always finish them by making a plan for where you’re going next. This can be bullet-pointing the next scene, deciding which character you’re going to develop in the coming chapters, or maybe you have a hole in your plot that needs to be filled.

Ask yourself questions at the end of each writing session about where your time could be used most productively next time you sit down to get to it. Write this down. Give yourself enough detail so that when you come back to it, you won’t be stuck wondering where to start. That way if it’s a week from now, you won’t forget what seemed like a pressing issue today.

The thing is, having a plan makes you accountable to yourself and yourself only. If you’ve written out your goals, it is you who sees whether or not you’ve followed through with them. A mental note is a lot easier to shove into the dark recesses of your mind when you’re feeling unmotivated after a long day’s work. So whether you write it on a word document that you’re working on and will open up next time, or you do it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, keep yourself accountable, and keep yourself writing!


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

Taking It On the Road

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

on the road asphalt

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

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

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

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


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


Kelly

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

In Your Corner: Making Your Presence Felt

It would be hard to get to 2016 and not feel convicted of the importance of social media in selling books–and, just as importantly, in selling readers on you, the author. The power and influence of social media is uncontested–after all, it has helped feed and foment revolutions in the Middle East, toppling dictators and spinning the mythological webs that create internet celebrities. They have also, demonstrably, created the framework by which self-published authors become self-sufficient and successful. Authors like Lisa Genova (Still Alice) and Hugh Howey (Wool) often credit their devoted social media fanbase for moving their books out of obscurity and into the blockbuster realm.

With that kind of a recommendation on the table, it almost seems a waste to not partake in the wave of social media platforms developing today, right? But wanting to start developing your social media strategy and actually building it from the ground up are two separate propositions. And ultimately, it’s hard to know where to start.

Luckily, there’s not so much one way to get it wrong, but rather so many ways to get it right. This is because there are so many platforms out there, including:

And so many more! Because social media is a moving target–for example, the short-video-hosting platform Vine, owned by Twitter, was shut down recently for its inability to turn a profit for company shareholders–there’s no predicting which platforms will be on the ascent in a given year and which will be on its way out, like the age-old example of Myspace, a platform which more or less lost all of its users once Facebook became peoples’ primary conduit of digital social contact.

This changing landscape isn’t a bad thing, in the end. It’s a strength! It means that yes, you need to be willing to continually adapt to new platforms and to pick up new skills, but it also means that if you’re not all that good at one, you can always capture your readers by making a comprehensive social media presence, rounded out with a variety of different smaller presences that weave together into something greater than the sum of their parts.

I guess what I’m saying is: Try everything. Try everything, and don’t hold on too tightly to any one of those things. Experimentation is the mother of invention, as is necessity, and these two forces will keep your social media presence in a constant state of evolution, well-suited to the M.O. of the Internet itself. Maybe soon we’ll have options to network not just with our friends and our refrigerators, but with our books as active participants themselves. Can you imagine what that might look like? I’d bet you five dollars that someone out there is already figuring out how to make it happen. And that’s the wonderful thing about change: it’s wild and wonderful and asks very little of us except the will to keep up!

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: Thanksgiving Edition!

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

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

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

thanksgiving table

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

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

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


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


Kelly

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

In Your Corner: Marketing for Anything-But-Dummies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Master Strokes:

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

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Ringing in the Holidays: Veteran’s Day Edition!

Veteran’s Day is day where we pay tribute to those who have served our in our country’s Armed Forces; this can be done by attending parades, by bringing flowers to veteran’s graves, hanging an American flag, etc. This day originally marked the end of World War I–the war to end all wars–and was deemed Armistice Day, a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.

Those of us with hindsight on our side know that unfortunately, WWI did not lead to world peace, but rather to the even more devastating WWII. Following WWII it was decided that November 11th would instead be a day to commemorate all veterans, not just those who served in WWI.

It is important to express gratitude for those amongst our country’s citizens who have been willing to put their life on the line to protect not only our country, but also the people of the countries where they are stationed. The amount of sacrifice demanded of such a task is one that should be given the utmost respect.

veteran's day

I want to point out to authors reading this that the word veteran points beyond that of military service and extends to anyone who has a lot of experience in a particular occupation or field. While there of course can be no real comparison made to veterans of war and veterans of say, self-publishing, I would like to suggest that veterans of the self-publishing field should begin to think of themselves as people who provide a different sort of service for our country.

To publish your ideas, your stories, your beliefs or your experiences means that you are in a way paying tribute to those who have fought for your right to do so. To not utilize that creative spark inside you is to shun the gift of living in a country and in a time where you have the means to do so.

Think of the amazing diaries of someone such as Anne Frank. Frank had to hide away from the unjust persecution that would eventually take her life before she could, by her own volition, share her story. We have the liberty in this country to write freely, and it is not one that should be taken for granted. Our stories can change people’s lives, they can change the way people think, and we don’t have to hide away to create them.

The veterans who fight abroad to keep our country safe make it possible for some of us to become veteran authors, readers, editors, publishers, etc. Honor those authors, readers, editors, publishers, etc. who have decided that they will not turn away from such a priceless opportunity. You have the freedom to sacrifice your time to do something you love.

Those in the Armed Forces have sacrificed time doing what they love, they have spent a great deal of time away from their families and loved ones–don’t let it be for nothing.


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


Kelly

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

Ringing in the Holidays: Black Friday Edition!

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

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

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

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

black friday holiday

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

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

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

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


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


Kelly

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