Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, July 15, 2013

Maria McKenzie shares Marketing Tips for Writers



Karen, thanks so much for hosting me here at Coming Down the Mountain! I’m blog touring to promote my new book, Masquerade: Part Two of the Unchained Trilogy:
Celebrated actress Lavinia Hargraves lives life as a masquerade. She hides her Negro ancestry to pursue her dream of becoming the world’s greatest actress.  She elopes with Vernon Hargraves, the owner of New York’s premier theater troupe, to acquire all that she could ever want: a new life as white, stardom on the stage, and an abundant supply of money. The secret of her mother's slave-girl past could easily destroy the life she has constructed.

Masquerade is now available at Amazon.  In my opinion, writing the novel was the easy part.  Now comes the hard part—marketing and promotion!  Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, the majority of the marketing will fall on your shoulders.  I am by no means a marketing guru, but I’m happy to share a few tips I’ve learned to help you!

There is no magic formula for promoting your work—at least not one that I’ve stumbled upon—but I have found that writing more books and connecting with readers are two ways to increase your sales.  Let’s take a look at each of these areas:

Writing More Books
First of all, spend more time writing than promoting.  What I’ve read countless times and seen for myself, is that the best way to sell more books is to write more books! And if you have an idea for a series, go for it! When readers like the first of a series, the immediate gratification of an e-reader allows them to effortlessly purchase the second and third, etc.  The books feed off each other and produce more sales. No amount of blog appearances, press releases, radio interviews or book signings can beat that.  Not that those aren’t great things to do (and we’ll discuss them next), but the more books you write, the better your chance of actually selling them.

Connecting With Readers  
A great book to help you connect with readers is The Tricked Out Toolbox, by Tanya Kappes, and two great websites are Dan Blank’s We Grow Media and Anthony Puttee’s Book Cover Cafe.  From Dan, Anthony and Tanya, I’ve learned that, as an author, it’s very important to be accessible to your readers, and there are several ways to do this:

Create a Website and Amazon Author Page
If you don’t have a website already, create one soon!  With Wordpress and Blogger, this is very easy to do yourself—For Free!  Techie people love Wordpress, non-techie people (like me) love Blogger. Both sites allow you to set up more than one page, but the most important page to have is a “Contact Page”. 

You can either place a contact form there, or say something like: I’d love to hear from you! Email me at...

Readers want to connect, so make sure they can, easily!  And when they email, be sure to email back! 

On your site, it’s nice to have a page for photos of you at book signings, readings, conferences, and with family and friends.  Readers want to know about you! 

A blog page is included with Blogger and Wordpress sites.  But decide how often to blog and do it consistently (I blog once a week).  Other good pages to create are ones for your bio, novel descriptions, and novel excerpts.  Visit some of your favorite author pages and see what they’re doing.  If you’d like to take a look at mine, click here.

In addition to your website, create an Amazon Author Page with Amazon’s Author Central.  If readers purchase your book on Amazon, they can immediately go to your author page to find out more about you!
 
Social Media
I have not mastered the art of using social media to my best advantage, but I do have Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads accounts.  Some authors have a Facebook page for each book. I only have a single author page where I provide info about my books, blog posts and appearances.  Sometimes readers will look for you on Facebook so they can leave a message or a comment.  Be sure to reply back! 

I do not tweet daily, but when I do, I usually share the progress of books I’m working on, upcoming publication dates, what I’ve blogged about, or useful articles I’ve read. 

With Goodreads, you can create a page for each book, and during the first six months of a book’s release, you can do a Giveaway.  This generates excitement for your new release! 

Blog Tours, Radio Interviews, Press Releases
With the release of a new book, contact bloggers, like Karen, who are willing to let you share your work with their audience.  In addition, contact radio stations in your area who are supportive of local authors to see if they’ll interview you. Write a press release for Biblioscribe, a free promotional site for authors. 

Live Appearances
Contact bookstores, libraries, and art centers close by to see if they’ll allow you do a reading.  Reach out to book clubs, near and far (lists are usually available at libraries).  Let them know you’ll be glad to make an appearance (live or through Skype) for free.  Also, keep an eye out for local book conferences.  Whatever live appearances you do, be sure to Tweet them, mention them on Facebook, and put them on your Goodreads event schedule. Another good page to create for your website is a “Where I’ll Be” page.

Promotional Materials
At this point, the only promo materials I have are business cards and post cards.  Business cards are a must, and very affordable at Vistaprint.  I have my name, email, cell phone and most popular book title on my business cards.  Always have them handy; you never know when you’ll run into a potential reader! 

I have post cards for each book, again made by Vistaprint.  The book cover is pictured on the front, while the back contains a brief synopsis, the price, where the book is sold and my website. These are great to have on hand at conferences and readings.  If readers don’t want to purchase a paperback, they can take the card and later purchase an e-book.  Also, if your books are only available electronically, you can sign the card in lieu of a physical book.  Postcards can be distributed through neighborhoods, as well.  Remember, no telling where you’ll find a potential reader!  

Hope these basic tips help you!  Do you have any info you’d like to share to help writers better connect with readers?

Karen, thanks again for letting me visit at Coming Down the Mountain!



32 comments:

  1. Thank you for this helpful post, Maria! I've done all of these at one point or another, some being more effective than others. It's important to try a lot of different marketing techniques and then find the best fit for each individual and each book. But if we don't try how can we know?

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    1. Karen, many thanks again for hosting me! Marketing can be hit or miss at times. But as you say, you'll never know what works unless you try it!

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  2. Good tips, Maria! I'm not on Facebook, but I am on several other sites. Physical appearances aren't my favorite so most of my effort is here online. (Fortunately my publisher sends promotional materials to all of the science fiction conventions rather than sending me!)

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    1. Hi, Alex, there are so many ways to promote onlne, live appearances aren't really necessary! And you're fortunate to have a publisher send out promotional materials for you:).

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  3. I have seen the biggest increases in sales when I have a new release. I was surprised to see this held true even when the new release wasn't related to my other books! I have a free short story out, too, and that also helps maintain interest. Good luck with Masquerade! I have my copy, and am looking forward to reading!

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    1. Hi, Jennette! Thanks for visiting me here. Isn't it amazing how new releases REALLY gen up more sales! I've heard free material does, too. It's on my list to write something to offer for free.

      Thanks so much for purchasing Masquerade! I hope you enjoy it:).

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  4. These are great tips, thank you!

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    1. Hello, Mshatch! You're welcome--so glad you like the tips:).

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  5. All great tips. I do agree the best thing one can do to market their novel is to write more great novels. People want to know there's more available.

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    1. Hi, L.G., and thanks! Yes, readers are always looking for more;). And if they like your work, they'll spread the word--getting a buzz going also sells more books!

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  6. These are great pieces of advice. All the best with Masquerade!

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  7. These are all very good tips; I'll keep them in mind! I especially agree with the part about live appearances. When I worked in a bookstore, there were certain celebrity authors who only did book signings without saying anything; that is, they showed up to sign books and that was it. I understand that they're very busy, but it's nicer when they can say at least a few things about the book and/or themselves.

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    1. Hi, Neurotic Workaholic and thank you! You are so right about live appearances--even if an author doesn't do a reading, I'd like to hear something about what inspired the book.

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  8. I list all of my events on my website and blog, but didn't think of listing them on Goodreads. I'll have to do that.

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    1. Hi, L. Diane, yes, definitely do that:). Goodreads has lots of great feautures for authors!

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  9. These are great tips! Thanks for posting these.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi, Gina, thank you, and you are very welcome!

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  10. Thanks for the great tips and links!

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  11. Thanks for this. I enjoyed reading what you said about writing more books. I agree with you and I find that it's difficult to avoid being sucked into the media frenzy. I love those hours when I'm offline and enjoying the story I'm creating.

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    1. Hi,Cleemckenziebooks-great name, btw;). Yes! Those offline hours writing and creating are the best times!

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  12. Hi Maria!

    Great post. And you make some valid points too,

    All the best!

    Thanks Karen!

    Nas

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  13. Excellent tips, Maria!

    Karen, thank you for posting!

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  14. Thank you so much, Karen for hosting Maria, and thank you Maria for excellent tips on marketing and promotion of self and writing.
    And thank you, Karen, for following my Adventures in Writing blog. http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi, Victoria, and you're very welcome!

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  15. Awesome tips, Maria. I'm bookmarking them. Good luck with your latest book - the plot sounded quite intriguing.

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  16. Hi, Nicole, and thank you! So glad you liked the tips:).

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  17. Best of sales, Maria! I'm in the midst of marketing my audiobooks right now. Self-promoting is hard to make a win-win situation. But I am trying. May success as you wish it soon be yours. :-)

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    1. Hi, Roland! Thanks for your good wishes, and best of luck to you in marketing your audiobooks:). Self-promo is hard, but you have to keep trying!

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