Growing Pains: Part V

When a business is young and small, it is easy enough to care for on one’s own. However, when it starts to grow, you may find yourself unable to keep up with all the different aspects of the business that make it flourish; this can be anything from answering emails to sending out mail, writing blog posts, keeping up on your social media presence and well, writing your book. Sometimes the key to keeping a business growing, and keeping it from falling under its own weight, is to hire someone to help you out.

Hiring someone may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be anything too serious; you can hire your husband, wife or kids to make social media posts or to help you get organized. If you want something more involved, getting an employee freelancer, intern or independent contractor to act as secretary, editor, assistant, etc. is something you should absolutely consider. Just think if you had someone to answer emails and calls for you, edit your work or manage your social media and marketing for you. Of course, Outskirts Press can help you in a lot of those avenues with our marketing packages and author consulting, but maybe you want someone who you can get some serious face-to-face time with that you see on a regular basis.

growth chart

As with most businesses, hiring extra help makes the business run smoother. In a busy coffee shop, if the owner has to manage all the ordering of beans, cups, syrups, foodstuffs, etc. and act as barista, baker, manager, etc., the business is going to be hectic and seem ill-prepared when things get busy. With enough staff to cover the front of the house, a business owner can return to the managerial tasks that keep the business running smoothly. That means first and foremost, hiring people you trust to uphold the values of your business, and with whom you would want your business associated with. Hire people who are professional, who will show up on time, do the tasks you’ve assigned to them and not leave you hanging when you need their help most.

Again, if you only need this person’s assistance for a few simple tasks and only need help for a few hours a week, be clear with your future employee that this is just a side job that will help you out tremendously. Always offer a stellar reference (especially if you’re hiring an intern), treat them well, and pay them accordingly. A few hours of work a week might not seem worth it for a lot of people, so it’s best to be able to offer an awesome work environment (and boss) so as to justify the time they spend assisting you. Writers often find joy in helping other writers achieve their dreams and keep from getting too stressed out along the way, but remember to express your gratitude for anyone who ends up helping you along the way. You, and your business, are better off with their help.


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: 10 ways to promote your book for under $100!

Publishing is expensive, right? Well, yes, especially if you go about it the way that many blogs and books recommend, which assume you have unlimited funds, time, and energy in order to do what you like. But most of us—I’m assuming, at least—are not exactly rolling in it, not with the economy the way it is, and not with this whole thing called “having a life” is. Life can be exhausting, and expensive, and self-publishing your book should be part of the recovery process—not contributing to the problem!

grow your money

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of ten ways you can market your book without breaking the bank. And if you have any ideas of your own, I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments section, below, or you can contact us over Facebook or Twitter. (Our twitter handle is @selfpubadvisor.) Best of all, all ten marketing strategies I’ve listed below are cheap.

  1. Reach readers where they live. This is a process which starts with researching them. Thoroughly. What are their demographic details? How old are they? Where do they live, geographically speaking? Are they diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender? What social media platforms do they use and which have they discarded or never picked up to begin with? In the case of younger readers, are they old enough to be in command of their own savings–or will purchases be made by parents and caregivers? What subjects occupy their waking thoughts? You also have to actively go out and reach them. Carefully and effectively. With precision. Draft a well-thought-out, targeted marketing strategy that pares back on the manifold possibilities open to you … to just the ones that will reach your core readership. Once you have established a sustainable system in place, you can begin experimenting your way through additional marketing strategies and see what is sustainable.
  2. Give them a taste. Whether we’re talking about an e-book or an audiobook, digital formats offer some truly exciting possibilities for incentivization.  Amazon automatically offers the first ten or so pages for free (the so-called “first chapter freebie”) and you can replicate this on your blog and with other online retailers.  Curating your own freebie chapter isn’t an option with Amazon, but it is when you choose the method of delivery via blog or email, and I highly recommend taking the time to edit what makes it in to your freebie–this gives you an edge over the Amazon preview, which often cuts off in the middle of a paragraph.  Make sure the freebie ends with some sort of natural cliffhanger or emotional hook, to keep your readers coming back!
  3. Discount it. Perhaps the greatest weapon in your digital arsenal is the option to offer timed discounts and sales. Because you control the base price as a self-publishing author, you get to shape your own sales! You can time them to coincide with events of national interest (say, Father’s Day or the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s final fateful voyage–you know, only relevant to you and your work) or you can use the calendar as a guiding star. Sales tend to find success when they close on the last or first day of a month, holidays, and so on.
  4. Host giveaways and hand out merch! You don’t want to leverage these as bribes for reviews, but you can certainly use them to incentivize coming to other events where your books are sold, or to encourage the sort of general enthusiasm for your work that will naturally lead to reviews!
  5. Offer a limited edition or bundle! Comic book authors have created some really good models for bundles that you can use for inspiration, and creating short runs of specialty covers is also a specialty of theirs; don’t hesitate to mix it up to build demand.
  6. Create loyalty by doling out insider access. Readers want to feel special for being your fans, and you should reward this impulse; maybe the purchase of a book becomes a ticket to an author interview via Google Hangouts–or maybe it gives them access to a limited-access “behind the scenes”  page on your website? The options are endless!
  7. Set up a book signing. You probably already guessed that this would rate a top ten list, and you’d be right! Book signings and readings are amongst the most powerful and effective marketing tools available. They take some work, logistically speaking, in that you have to be willing to carry a lot of the weight in organizing the programming and making the calls to set it up, as well as printing flyers and submitting a notice to your local newspapers—whatever it takes to alert people to an upcoming event. But the payoff is rich, and ongoing.
  8. Get thee to a book fair! Much like book signings, these events will give you and your book invaluable face-out exposure, bring you into contact with experts, reviewers, distributors, and many others who will be interested in partnering with you in the future. You can attend solo, or you can partner up with other authors who have published through your indie publishing company in order to lower costs. I highly recommend this kind of partnership, because it bodes well for my next point, which is ….
  9. Play well with others. Most self-publishing authors, no matter where they’re at in their publishing journey, could benefit from strong, dynamic, and useful collaboration. Collaboration can look like a lot of different things:
    • pairing up with another author or multiple authors to host a book discussion or workshop together;
    • gathering several other authors together and applying to run a booth at a local book fair, or a panel at a “con” (convention);
    • conducting interviews with other authors and sharing them on each other’s websites, providing insight into the authorial process; and
    • co-writing short stories or novellas together, to be distributed as giveaways or free to the public online.
  10. Optimize. What does it actually mean to “optimize”?  It means to try new things.  To try every new thing.  To try a new thing regularly. To try it daily.  To try it … always. To think about life and being an author and marketing as some kind of laboratory, where experimentation is the rule and not the exception–and where, like good scientists, we document our progress thoroughly so that we can track, exactly, which outcomes can be attributed to which changes in method.

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.

Growing Pains: Part IV

Sometimes growing your business can happen from within your own, already existing customer base. Imagine your business as a tree trunk, the branches your customers and the leaves that come off of each branch a good or service bought from one of your customers. The more leaves on the tree, the better and healthier the tree. So how do we get a nice, full tree?

Young plant

Think about it, you already have someone who is interested in your goods or services, they have already decided you have a product worth purchasing, so the key is to keep providing them those quality products or services. Not only to you have to have a supply to both create and feed the demand, but you have to market that supply properly.

Let’s say we’re talking selling books. You have a loyal fan base already. That’s great. Make that work to your advantage. If you’re writing a series, make sure you keep an email list of those who have already purchased your first or second book in the series and alert them when the newest one is coming out. Maybe offer them a loyalty discount to show your appreciation for their support. Better yet, maybe you have older books that they don’t know about! Be sure to clue them in on past work you’ve done and how/where they can find or purchase that as well. That way, while you’re working on creating new material, you’re still able to move products you already have on hand.

Also, make sure you’re following your fans on social media and vice versa so that they can be in tune with developments in your writing and publishing stages. That way, they know you have a book coming out, you can build anticipation for it, and they’re excited to buy your next book. Be active on their pages, let them know that you are just another person who’s not too busy to keep up with their fans.

Keep in mind that the key to keeping a good customer relationship comes from after-sale support and contact. Ask your readers for feedback. Let them know that their opinions matter to you. After-sale support and contact may determine whether or not that customer will be a returning customer. When a customer feels that their business or opinions are valued by a business, they are more likely to support that business.

If you do offer other services, such as editing, formatting, marketing, etc. make that known to your customers. People who are already fans of your work, who find your books appealing or well-written, will most likely value your advice on how it is you produce a professional, quality book. Start by hosting free (or small-fee) webinars where you offer your advice with the option at the end to hire you personally for your services.

Thinking of your business as a living growing entity will remind you that you need to give it the proper care and attention it deserves so that it can continue to expand and grow stronger over time. Keep watering that tree, letting those leaves bask in the sunlight, and you will have shade and fresh air to breathe in for ages to come. Ignore it, or give it too little attention and you will watch it wither away and be left with a lifeless stump.


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

Growing Pains: Part II

Continuing in the vein of growing your business or brand as an author, I want to talk about how you can hone in on what product or service it is you provide. As an author, your product is probably books, right? You might also offer other services though, such as freelance writing, editing, illustrating etc. Make a list of the products or services you supply and pick the most important item from each. It’s important to focus on the most important “thing” you want your business to be known for. Having too many options or services to market and sell will be overwhelming not only for you, but also for your customers.

growing pains marketing

The first step to ensuring you can expose your product or service to the marketplace is to, of course, market them. Marketing is definitely the dead horse we beat on this blog, but it is a crucial piece of being a self-published author. Here are some easy ways to market your book or writing services:

  • Social media! Use relevant hashtags (if you’re stumped, google relevant hashtags for ideas). Add and follow people and actively comment on their posts to get your name out there and encourage them to look on your page. Be active on forums, blogs, your website, etc.
  • Local events. Host local readings, poetry slams, etc. to network with other local authors.
  • Engage with those who already consume your products to ensure a good business/customer relation that will continue on in the future.

The next step is selling your product. Do you have a website where people can easily purchase your books or contact you for your services? Do your social media pages have links to your website? Do you have business cards to hand out at events?

You want there to be a certain ease of purchasing products for your customers. There’s nothing more annoying than a broken “purchase” link, or a giant “out of stock” next to your item. Make sure you have product to sell and make sure you have a means for people to buy it. If you go on tour, think about investing in a “square reader” for your iPhone so that if someone wants to buy your book and they don’t have cash you don’t lose that sale. Often someone will want to buy something on the spot, but if the opportunity passes, they will talk themselves out of it later or forget about it entirely, losing you a sale. Always be prepared to sell. This could be as simple as keeping books in your car or bag so that if you strike up a conversation with someone on the subway you have the opportunity to show them your work, or maybe even sell it.

Ultimately, once you’ve identified what you’re in the “business” of selling, it should be relatively easy to figure out how it is you can grow your business. Once you’ve nailed down who your customer base is and figured out how best to market to them, it’s time to streamline a way to sell your products and services to them.


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

Growing Pains.

Growing pains, we’ve all felt them. Growth is part of life, and for the next few weeks I want to explore the idea of how growth should also be part of your aim to create a better book marketing plan for yourself.

growing pains growth chart

It’s important to recognize that truly successful business grow over time. Sure, some people can “successfully” string together a bunch of separate marketing stunts and receive some boom and busts as far as sales go, but those businesses that build their brand and their audience or customer base over time will have a better chance at longevity and a consistent consumer base.

For example, a really trendy coffee shop with highly overpriced drinks may attract a few people who love that niche of pricey coffee and want a hip shot of a beautifully crafted milk-foam heart for their Instagram feed. However, the small, “homey” coffee shop with a staff that knows customers by name and creates a space where people feel welcome in the community is ultimately going to be the more successful of the two.

How do you become the more identifiable, welcoming coffee shop where everyone wants to go for the free WiFi, the delicious chai tea lattes, for every business meeting, slam poetry session and acoustic night?

  • Reach out to your fan base and let them know you appreciate their support.
  • Offer perks to loyal customers. Much like a “Buy 10 coffees, get one Free” punch card, send a loyal fan a copy of your book signed, on the house. Their more often to talk you up that way and recommend you to their friends based on your merit not only as an author, but as a person.
  • Coffee shops are the modern day salons, where people gather to talk about ideas, business plans, gossip, etc. You can recreate this as an author by involving yourself in the community you’re in. Do this by spending time at community film festivals, poetry slams or book readings, or do this online by participating in forums and being active on your blog and responding to comments on any and all social media forums. This makes you a relatable person that people want to support.

People ultimately want to identify with a business they support. That’s probably why businesses like Whole Foods plaster poster-sized images of regular Joe employees and local farmers on their walls–it makes people feel all warm and mushy inside and like their money is going to regular, hard-working people. This is more likely than not  just a master manipulation of the consumers by corporate conglomerates, but it’s brilliant marketing. That being said, I’ve worked for many local businesses, and the number of clients who come in and say, “I could have ordered this online, but I just love supporting local businesses,” is amazing.

Takeaways? Make yourself known locally. Be personable, interact with other authors, share ideas, go to writing groups. Also make yourself known online. Be active on social media, interact with readers, build your fan base. All these actions are seeds you plant that ultimately grow a more reliable marketing base. Attending one conference or even a year, or making one social media post a month won’t provide growth. Growth is a constant process that you must actively participate in.


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

 

From the Archives: “Self-publishing Ripple Effect Marketing”

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.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: May 27th, 2010 ]

Think of self-publishing book marketing as a marathon, not a sprint. Plan the journey, prepare to work, pace yourself, and not become discouraged when you the bear jumps on your back. Your second wind is right around the corner.

Unlike blockbuster books like Harry Potter, which sell 90% of their copies in the first 90 days of release, an independently published book is often the opposite – not surprising since titles like Harry Potter make up a percent of a percent of all books published. It takes time to build awareness. Sales may start slowly, but can climb over time if you persistently market your book.

If you’ve yet to nail down a specific marketing plan, I suggest starting in your own hometown. Build a Tribe. Attract the interest and readers of people in your inner circle before you focus on your neighborhood. Then, focus on your neighborhood before concentrating on your city. Next your state and region, etc. This is known as the ripple effect.

It applies to both online and traditional marketing tactics.

ripple effect marketing

Thinking of marketing as something other than a sprint, or a laundry list of items to get through (“Poetry reading, check! Social media account created, check!”) is the wisest advice I’ve heard all year. Thinking of your marketing as you think of your other relationships–as more than just the sum of its parts, or the sequence of events–is important. Every action affects every other action, and the changes are cumulative or even, sometimes, exponential! Think, instead, of your marketing strategy as a whole, and a whole which is best contemplated as a web of interrelated components which all touch each other and all affect how the other components play out. Some pieces need to come before others in order for them both to work, and sometimes a misstep with one component will lead to a cascade of problems in the others.

Another great image to keep in mind is the ocean. Yes, the ocean operates under the same physical principles and constraints as a ripple in a swimming pool–but would we really compare their behaviors and say they’re the same thing? There’s more at work than simple scale; the ocean works on its environment in a multitude of ways, and one of its most impressive qualities is its ability to wear anything down–given time. The ocean is interminable, it is unstoppable, and it is unwearying in its work upon the seashore. Wave after wave after wave can lead to an entirely new shoreline, right?

So as we head into a new series of Wednesday blog posts on updating your marketing strategies for the summer, think about ripples and oceans. They are the same thing … except they aren’t. Steal from both. Steal the cumulative effects of the ripple (and the interrelationships of the web) and steal the repetitive unstoppability of the ocean. This is your arsenal against the soporific atmosphere of midsummer.

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.

Time For a Spring Reset!

Spring often signifies new beginnings in literature and poetry, a rebirth, if you will. All that which lay dormant in winter now slowwwly stretches its limbs, lets out a big yawn and sigh of relief and comes back out to bask in the sun. The trees are budding, the deer are grazing, we now awake to the calming sounds of birds chirping, the sun stays with us well into the evening, it’s finally warm enough for sandals and everyone seems to be in generally better spirits because of those things aforementioned.

spring stretch

The charm and warmth of spring should not only put a pep in your step in your day to day life, but it should also be a time to pep up your writing and marketing efforts!

 

  1. Let spring be a new beginning for you. Make a list of things you’d like to begin with a fresh start. Do you need to begin editing, creating a marketing plan, blogging, etc? Now’s the time to do it!
  2. Use some springtime writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing and to help you “reset” after winter. Write about how the sunshine affects your mood and creativity, write about spring as a symbol of birth/life, write about the your sensuous experience wandering around in the natural world in springtime, etc. etc.
  3. Host an outdoor reading event in your community. Pick a nice sunny afternoon to encourage members of your community to get outside and share their love of the spoken and written word. This is a great way to network, to connect with other writers in your area and to have some fun in the sun!
  4. Start being more active on social media! Take pictures of the beauty around you, toss in a quote from a work of yours or of your favorite author’s and share with your audience! Blog, post about new developments in your publishing process, connect with readers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! Now that the butterflies are back, why not be a little social butterfly?
  5. Spruce up your website. Who knows more about you than…well, you? Write up a fresh author bio that includes recent accomplishments, publications, life developments and so forth.
  6. Join some forums, join Goodreads! These are both terrific venues for marketing your book and they help you connect more intimately with your audience.
  7. Host a drawing contest for the cover of your next book! The winner gets a free copy of your book and gets featured on your website and social media pages!
  8. Add a “Store” page to your website. This is a great way to increase sales and to have your readers buy directly from you rather than some third party website.
  9. Do some spring cleaning of your writing space and bookshelves. See our last few blogs for tips on how to “declutter” as a writer!
  10. Take advantage of this nice weather! Try writing outside, even if it’s just brainstorming. A little vitamin D and time in nature can go a longgg way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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