Why Do I Need Twitter? By Lorie Ham

promophotoI have been writing forever, and have five published mystery novels. I have always tried to stay on top of what sort of free publicity there is out there because like all of us my budget for promotion has been small to nothing.

 

Five years ago, I ventured out into a new area of publishing–I now publish an online magazine called Kings River Life. Again faced with pretty much a zero promotion budget, and the fact that if no one knows we are there no one will read us–I began researching even more what was out there. This has also given me the opportunity to see the results of what others do as well. We publish a lot of book reviews and I can tell you right now that the authors who understand the importance of not only Facebook, but also Twitter, are the ones who bring readers over to read those reviews. I would imagine this also translates into more sales for the author in other areas too. I have seen our reviews of the books of older, big name authors, who have refused to jump on board with social media get very few hits. While at the same time, I have seen an indie, or even a self-published, author who has embraced social media, get a lot of hits on our review of their book.

 

Yes, we still need to write a quality book or else even if you can get everyone to read the first book, they won’t be coming back for more. But these days we have to let the world know we are out there and there’s no better, or more inexpensive way, than social media.

 

Now I’ve also seen those who only embrace Facebook, and at least they are doing that. But they say they just don’t get Twitter or don’t like Twitter. Well learning about Twitter is now part of the job and it really doesn’t matter if we like it. Facebook loves to put up road blocks to promotion because they want us all to pay them money for ads now, so while it still has value for promotion, it doesn’t have nearly the value it used to have. That is why I love Twitter and am moving to focus more of my efforts there. There’s also the fact that people who follow you on Twitter are expecting to hear about your books–that’s why they follow you. So they aren’t going to complain that they are getting spammed like they might with email, or complain that the only reason you are on there is for promotion like some do on Facebook. That IS why you are there and that is why they are following you. They want to know about your latest book.

 

However, there are some things to keep in mind about Twitter. A lot of the people following you want more than just promo. They want fun tidbits thrown their way–info about your books, or your characters, or maybe even you, that they won’t get anywhere else. Or maybe special giveaways just for them! So don’t just tweet that your latest book is out, or that a review is up–give them something more. Really, that’s what most people want who like your page on Facebook too–you need to give them a reason to keep checking your page, or following you.

 

And there’s also the fact that we are all busier now, and the young people of today have much shorter attention spans, so people of today are more krl_logo(2)originallikely to keep up with you on Twitter, which only allows for something short. I have to admit–I pay way more attention to what’s on Twitter than Facebook from just a personal standpoint.

 

A great example of an author who knows how to do Twitter right is Cleo Coyle. Check out her Twitter at @CleoCoyle. I also hope you check out and follow Kings River Life on Twitter as we share every week about our articles and mystery book giveaways-you can find us at @kingsriverlife. My hope with KRL’s Twitter is to be including even more fun extra things later this year. I hope you also check out the magazine as we have a big mystery section with mystery reviews, book giveaways, articles, and short stories up every week http://www.kingsriverlife.com.

 

So if you have been dragging your feet when it comes to Twitter I’m here to say stop it! Get yourself over to Twitter and start learning how to do it and start engaging your readers. It’s part of the job now! Best of luck.

 

Lorie Lewis Ham has been publishing her writing since the age of 13 & singing since the age of 5. She worked for her local newspaper off and on for years, and in 2010 became the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine http://www.KingsRiverLife.com. She has also published 5 mystery novels–you can learn more about her mystery writing on her blog http://mysteryratscloset.blogspot.com/.

 

My Favorite Promotion Strategy is to Write Every Day by Kathleen Heady

KinScotlandFor a new writer starting out in the business, the biggest hurdle is undoubtedly promoting the books. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have our first novel picked up by a major publisher who sets up a book tour and makes sure that novel is prominently displayed to customers walking into major bookstores. Do any publishers do that anymore?

So you tell yourself, and maybe your mother or husband and a couple of your friends that your book is being published. “Great!” they say, and kindly go out and buy a few copies for their friends. Now what? You have a few sales on that first book, but how do you keep the momentum going?

My best strategy after a book is released, and so far I have been lucky enough to have three novels that have been published, is to get back to the laptop and write some more. I know it sounds trite to say to write every day, but an hour of writing a day does much more than produce the rough draft of another novel. Writing every day means that you can say to yourself before you go to sleep at night, “I am a writer. I wrote today.” It changes your attitude and builds your confidence. When someone asks you what you are working on, you can give them an honest answer, although you don’t have to give away all your secrets and tell them the details. I carry my journal with me always, and have filled many spare minutes and hours in airports and coffee shops around the world by writing my thoughts and observations. I love writing descriptions of people I see and snippets of conversation that I might use in the future.

My second strategy for promotion is to join a writers’ group. My first three novels are in the mystery/suspense genre, so I am a member of Sisters in Crime, which is a national organization with local chapters all over the country. The company of other writers is stimulating and motivating, and as a group, I have found promotion opportunities that I would never have been able to pull off on my own. I have appeared with other members at book stores and libraries, and on panel discussions about mystery novels.

Little by little I am building a reputation as a writer, and my personal contacts along with the huge world of social media both help create a base of readers that I continually work to expand.

 

 

Kathleen Heady is a native of rural Illinois, but has lived and traveled many places, including numerous trips to Great Britain and seven years HotelSaintClarecoverliving in Costa Rica. Her third novel, Hotel Saint Clare, was released in June, 2014. She is also the author of Lydia’s Story and The Gate House, which was a finalist for an EPIC award in 2011.

Buy links:

 

My Potpourri of Promotional Strategies – Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

Helen Dunn Frame

A famous writer is reputed to have quipped that writing a book is five percent inspiration and 95% perspiration. I would add that afterward the author in most cases must handle 100% of the promotion.

In years long gone publishers would assign an editor to fine tune the manuscript with the author, and at least help promote a book, even for a relatively unknown writer. Today the author needs to present a totally edited manuscript even to a traditional publisher and is expected to execute most of the promotion efforts, unless the writer has an outstanding track record.

The real challenge, no matter how a book is published, involves finding ways to promote it by traditional means such as at book signings; by new avenues, for example, social media, and especially by innovative means that require being especially creative.

After having two successful book signings for my first mystery at a branch of Barnes and Noble in Dallas, I asked the manager for a third one in June 2004. He said that the month was devoted to books dealing with weddings. Luckily I had written about a Greek Orthodox wedding in the book and was able to read about the traditional ceremony to attendees, thus fitting into the theme.

Since that experience, I put scenes in my books that might facilitate promotions. Remember the reason for including a possible promotional bit in a tome has to be plausible to the reader, not just stuck in illogically. In the first book, the couple met in Greece and married in a Greek Orthodox Church in the country. The protagonist Ralph and his fiancé in the most recent one vacationed in Costa Rica where he had gone as a child when his mother won a trip. He runs into a friend he played with, now a grown man, who wants to open a business in Dallas but needs a partner who is a U.S. citizen. Ralph wants to open a business, hoping by doing so he will avoid being investigated for his part in the scandal.

It’s important to think out of the box and to realize that authors cannot afford to be shy. For example, when I call a company for some reason, I manage to enthusiastically tell the rep that I write books and suggest they look me up on Amazon. During a trip to visit friends in Alabama I was invited to speak to a breakfast group where members were old enough for retirement. In North Carolina I spoke to members of a women’s group in a church about writing a book.

Every month an online forum I’m a member of has an “anything goes day.” I use the opportunity to write something of interest, perhaps about or from one of my books. I list the names of my three books that are available on Kindle and in paperback, and sign the posts with links to my Facebook pages for my books; website, and author’s page on Amazon. The rest of the month such promotion is prohibited. Last summer I participated in a book fair highlighting the United States in San Jose, Costa Rica and sold books while making friends with other authors, one of whom helped to edit my recent book and has offered to read my current manuscript.

Another way to get exposure for your creations is to review other writers’ books. Usually you can include a short bio and list your credentials with it. Get your books reviewed and look where you might be interviewed on others’ blogs. Rarely do I buy advertising, but when I do, I carefully determine that the venue is worth the money.

Years ago an associate claimed that business cards were the cheapest form of advertising. Every time he entered an elevator, he would turn his back to the door and hand out one to everyone on it. For authors, using a bookmark instead might encourage book sales. Authors still enclose these with their hard copies.

Try to sell your book in different shops, not just the obvious outlets. For example, an author of a book about his experiences traveling to nearly 100 countries sold it on consignment in a store that stocked travel related products. Travel agencies might use such an item as a favor. Real Estate companies and restaurants listed in a featured country might recommend it.  You won’t know unless you ask.

Most importantly, if you get an acceptance, before proceeding, make sure to establish procedures and put all agreements in writing, making everything legal. Giving away something for free with purchase also helps. Buyers of my Costa Rica book simply email me at a special e-mail address for a password to download a free Moving Guide from my website. Having moved at least 30 times from within one city to other continents and having handled the PR for American Mayflower Moving and Storage for over four years when I also became a Certified Packer, qualifies me as an expert. The requests provide the start of a mailing list for future books.

Bottom line, it is important to do something to promote your book every day of the business week or every day if possible. It can be as little as posting on your business Facebook page. Mine is set up so that whatever I post is sent to Twitter and to my Website.  My goal is to promote so well that all the books sell enough that I could give up my day job, if I had one.

 

 

Bio:

Helen Dunn Frame is an accomplished businesswoman (a commercial real estate broker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, specializing in retail and restaurants, for example) whose professional writing skills, living in England, Germany, and Costa Rica; and her love of travel (in 50 GreekGhostsCovercountries at least once where she gained an appreciation of the value of diverse cultures), have culminated in several books.

Many threads of Helen’s experiences have been woven into the intriguing fabric of GREEK GHOSTS soon to be followed by the second in the mystery series with a working title, WETUMPKA (Alabama) WIDOW. Living in Dallas during a major scandal resulted in SECRETS BEHIND THE BIG PENCIL. Expecting to update to a third edition this year, Helen advises Baby Boomers in her third book about RETIRING IN COSTA RICA or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida.

A graduate of Syracuse University (Journalism School), and New York University (Master’s Degree in Sociology/Anthropology), Helen has been published in major newspapers and magazines as well as trade publications in the United States, England, and Germany. She has edited newsletters and a newspaper and other author’s books, created business proposals for clients, and spoken to groups.

Links:

Website: www.helendunnframe.com

Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helendunnframe.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/RetiringInCostaRicaOrDoctorsDogsAndPuraVida

Managing Your Time to Promote by Jan Christensen

Jan-in-Beach-Hat-800-pix-300x159I’ve been struggling with promotion for a couple of years now. I want to do it all. But I really don’t like doing it all. I enjoy Facebook. I like writing blog posts, and I don’t mind signings and personal appearances. I also like Pinterest, but frankly, I don’t see how it can be made to sell very many books and be worth the time invested.

 

So, that leaves a lot of things I don’t particularly enjoy doing. They’re like housework for me. Necessary, but I’d rather do something else. These include:

 

  • Tweet two or three times a day.
  • Ask for reviews.
  • Ask for guest blogging gigs. (I like writing the posts—I just don’t particularly like asking to do them.)
  • Ask libraries to stock my books.
  • Run a contest, then distribute the books to the winner(s).
  • Run a free offer.
  • Run a countdown.
  • Produce my newsletter.
  • Make changes to my website.
  • Keep track of everything on spreadsheets.

 

The only way I’ve found to handle all this is to set aside a specific amount of time every day and use it to do what’s most important at that time. And schedule the things I’ll do every week. Those things are write and edit blog posts (Tuesdays) for myself and for others. Wednesday, I request a review and contact a library. I take Thursdays off and work on Saturday instead. So, Friday I update the spreadsheets, and make any changes needed to my website. Saturday I finish anything from the other days left hanging, and pick something else to do to fill up the time. You’re wondering what I do on Mondays? I work on short stories. First thing I do is send one out. If I have time left over or they’re all out (never happens), I work on another one. I hope getting short stories published increases my platform as a writer.

 

You’ll notice, too, that Facebook and Twitter are not included in the specific time I’ve set aside for other marketing. I work them in during the day. I try to Tweet something every morning, again around four, and sometimes in the evening. I try to look at Facebook late afternoon, but often don’t get to it.

 

I’ve been using the schedule for a while now, and I allot one hour, five days a week. This is all just marketing—not getting the book ready with cover, editing and so on. The things I really, really dislike doing, often, I admit, do not get done. But I haven’t given up. I keep at it, I keep trying.

 

Here is what I’d accomplish in one year by sticking to this schedule religiously:

 

  • 780 tweets (52 weeks times 5 days a week, times 3 times a day)
  • 52 short stories submitted
  • 52 requests for reviews
  • 52 library requests
  • 12 or more guest blog post requests (I aim for one post a month)
  • 12 promotions (countdown, free offer, contest in conjunction with a guest post)
  • 4 newsletters sent out
  • Website always up-to-date
  • Spreadsheets always up-to-date

 

I believe that writing this down, seeing it in black and white, can help us better realize how doing something five times a week or even once a month can help us achieve our goals. Try this yourself and see how it goes.

 

But I do the most important thing almost every week for six days (yes I do this on Thursday, too). I write for about an hour, or until I have one thousand new words written. I also usually get in another hour five evenings a week editing another project. Now, if I could just get on with this marketing plan every single day, I might be doing better with sales. Which is why I still keep trying. Anyone have any shortcuts to all of this? I’d love to hear them!

 

Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey. She bounced around the world as an Army wife, and in Texas when her husband retired. After traveling for ABrokenLife_200x300eleven years in a motorhome, she settled down in the Texas Coastal Bend.

Published novels are: Sara’s Search, Revelations, Organized to Death, Perfect Victim, Blackout, and most recently, A Broken Life. She’s had over sixty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years. She also writes a series of short stories about Artie, a NY burglar who gets into some very strange situations while on the job. Learn more at her website: www.janchristensen.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jan.christensen.9275?fref=ts

Twitter @JanSChristensen

What would you like to ask a publicist?

Imagine walking into an enormous shoe store with all kinds of shoes, then telling the salesman you’re not sure what kind you’re looking for, or what size you wear, or how much you want to spend. Just show me something….

 

At the very least, a good publicist should understand that you’re fairly new at the process and be able to ask questions that help determine what you’re looking for. Of course, that’s hard to do on a website or an email so usually a phone call is best. He or she should also be honest about whether or not what you’re looking for is going to help you achieve the desired results.

 

Many approach me seeming to think that hiring me will be a shortcut to success. I wish it was, but it might not be.  I can often help an author get things done faster, but if you’re totally new at the process, your first interview isn’t going to be on Good Morning America. On occasion I might help you skip a small market and move to a larger one, but you won’t do well without the experience the smaller markets give you. If you have experience, we can move forward more quickly, but generally overnight success is fiction.

 

My job isn’t to promote your books for you, it’s to help you promote your books more effectively. I set the stage but you still show up to perform. What I aim to help you do is to make sure you’re making a great first impression, on the web, in person, on the radio, in print – whatever you choose to do.

 

It would be nice if there was a one-size-fits-all promotion plan that could be duplicated again and again, but there isn’t. At least I haven’t found it. A great campaign can be small or large and focused on one area of promotion or several. What’s important is that it works for you and that you feel comfortable doing what it entails.

 

Three things a publicist can and should do no matter what your campaign involves:

 

  1. Handle rejection – it happens, but it’s not personal and nobody likes to hear it. If it might be personal, I would talk to you about making some changes to take care of it, but usually it’s just business.

 

  1. Free up your time for writing – Many of the tasks involved in promotion are hugely time consuming. Unending follow up calls are inevitable. Since this is what we do, we’ve streamlined the process and can free up large amounts of your time.

 

  1. Lastly, we should be able to offer you direction when things get overwhelming and you’re not sure what to do next. Any promotional campaign should be very flexible. The market is highly unpredictable and whatever is in the news that day makes a difference whether you’ll get print space or broadcast time. If you’ve tried something and results are lackluster, your publicist can help you decide if it’s worth trying again, or time to move on to something different.

 

Above all, your publicist should be a team player, ready and willing to help you and your publisher get the right kind of attention for your book and help increase your sales base.

 What would you like to ask a publicist?

Promotion is a process

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

In today’s world, we’re used to instant gratification. Microwaves, TV programming on demand, real time email (ha!) and Skyping around the world. BTP logoIt’s no wonder we expect what we want when we want it. But book promotion, like many other things, isn’t instant.  If someone promises you instant results, beware. There’s no such thing as an overnight success, and houses still take months to build.

This can be frustrating to authors, especially when they wait to hire a publicist after the book is already out, and they want to see sales increase that next week. It’s great when a single event or interview can cause a small spike in sales, but that’s not usually the norm.

Those of you who are gardeners can relate. If you plant beans, you might see a tiny sprout a week later. If you plant parsnips it will be two weeks or more. Then the time from the first sprout to harvest varies even more. Many vegetables will only yield one crop in a season, depending on the climate where you are located. So it would be a little ridiculous for you to plant a tomato seed, then check it a day later and give up because you don’t see a tomato. Or to celebrate a sprout of a pumpkin seed, then be annoyed because there’s only a flower a week or two later.

Expectations are everything in gauging success and so many are on the right track but give up way too soon. Remember if you’re building a house, Expectation realityespecially a good, strong, beautiful house, it can be months where the only activity you see involves moving dirt, pouring concrete, installing wiring and plumbing, etc. It would be easy to walk away because it still doesn’t look like a house.

If at any time you’re wondering what’s going on underground in your campaign, feel free to ask. A whole lot of things are happening in my office that you don’t see because I’m installing plumbing and wires, figuratively speaking. We want you to have a strong foundation so it won’t let you down later as your career progresses. Decide on the campaign that best meets your needs, then stick with it and give it time to work. Happy promoting!

Why You Promote With a Long Tail by C. Hope Clark

2014-06-1316.56.56            A common reason authors use for not going with New York is how these publishers throw a book out in hopes fans will break down doors and stand in lines to buy the title. If such activity hasn’t happened in, say, two months, the title is forgotten as New York moves on to the next. They operate via a long-tail marketing approach that emphasizes big sales up front then a residual decline over time. It looks like this:

 

1000px-Long_tail_svg

Picture by Hay Kranen / PD

 

As a new novelist of a new release for a new series, I entered the publishing world afraid if I did not perform, my publisher would drop me like a hot coal. So I toured the country, hitting 26 events in nine states in nine months. Luckily I sold enough books to receive another contract. Rinse and repeat.

As I contacted the office yet again to insure books would arrive where I’d be, my publisher asked what the heck I was doing. Heart in my throat, I point blank confessed I fought to remain keep-able. As I almost cried in relief, I learned that most publishers these days, especially since smaller presses have gained such power and reach, prefer a long-tail approach to marketing their authors. I was familiar with the above method, but my publisher soon explained to me that this is the long-tail they prefer.

 

1000px-Long_tail_svgFLIPPED

Picture by Hay Kranen / PD

 

I could deal with this. As a matter of fact, I was more than familiar with this concept via my freelance brand FundsforWriters. As a freelancer, I’d entered the writing world with the goal to increase my image and notoriety over a period of time, one step at a time on a daily basis until people remembered who I was and told somebody else about me. In FundsforWriters’ 15 years of existence, my readership grew from a dozen to over forty thousand with that mindset, garnering ten thousand in five years. Writer’s Digest chose the site for its 101 Best Websites for Writers 14 times. Why couldn’t this day-to-day ritual work for my fiction?

I’d made a novice’s mistake thinking that mid- and small-sized presses functioned much the same as New York. Turns out they understand there’s more money to be made in continually putting an author out there one book at a time, one right after the other, until the name recognition catches on.

Word-of-mouth is a simple long-tail example. Blogging is another. Frankly, anything you can do promo-wise in this profession aids your long-tail advancement. So why do so many authors fail at becoming known and selling books?

 

They do not promote daily.

 

Why don’t writers keep their noses to the grindstone when it comes to promotion? Through conversations with my peers, I’ve learned the thoughts are:

  1. A big event (i.e., conference, signing, blog tour) goes a long way and warrants a reprieve.
  2. A couple of hard promo months allows time to coast.
  3. A peak in success means those fans are solid.
  4. If a reader buys one book, he’ll always buy the others.
  5. Hard promo should create immediate success or it’s not worth the trouble.
  6. Having been famous means you remain famous.

 

Promotion takes consistent drive to work and take you up that graph. Those who stop promoting, or do so only after a new book, or perform hit and miss efforts every few weeks, never gain serious ground. The gaps kill the momentum.

HopeOKsigning3Authors never reach a point they don’t have to market. Too many others never stop. The authors making daily splashes, over time, becomes the authors that pop up in a search or find themselves on a recommended reading list.

In my first mystery series, I struggled sliding my foot in the door of bookstores and libraries because I was a novice fiction writer. However, I continued on as if I had a strong HopeEdistoBookstoreSignanchor in this profession. I spoke in front of groups as small as two and blogged on many a site with no resulting comments. I spoke on radio shows where nobody called in. I ate lunch with potential readers, media people, librarians, and other authors every chance I could.  I handed out postcards and hung six foot banners where I appeared. I did not see immediate results from any of these efforts, but I kept telling myself that one day I might.

Today I can’t count the numerous situations where something I did, someplace I appeared, or someone I spoke to led me to a bigger opportunity from a meeting that occurred, weeks, months, even years earlier. A radio show led to a book club invitation which resulted in two banquet keynote addresses. A panel appearance led to a reporter taking my picture which triggered a women’s club asking me to be their keynote for a major event. An obscure book reviewer in an online magazine asked for a review copy, showed the review to a film agent who fell in love with the books and signed to represent them. A reporter saw me at a local country festival and asked for a feature interview in the newspaper. The same event landed Palmetto Poison as a book club selection of the month. A twitter announcement landed me another television interview. Never underestimate a connection, and never forget to put yourself out there somewhere on a daily basis.

To keep readers, feed them. Sure you wrote a great book five years ago, but what have you written lately? The long-tail approach works only if you keep pushing it forward, which means not only the daily promo but also producing new material to maintain your fans. You have to feed these hungry people. Otherwise they’ll starve and hate you for it, or find other source of food.

The point is, no matter how small the venue or effort, put yourself out there each and every day. No matter how big you once were or how hard you worked on one book, continue to produce works. This is a path that never ends, but the rewards of putting one foot in front of the other are joyous, rewarding, and satisfying beyond belief. Because you can’t see success on the horizon doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

 

BIO – Hope Clark is author of two mystery series published by Bell Bridge Books, The Carolina Slade Mysteries and the newest Edisto Island Mysteries. The first release in the new series is Murder on Edisto due out in September 2014. Hope is also editor of FundsforWriters.com, renowned throughout the industry for its resource information for writers, from crowdfunding to grants, contests to freelance markets, agents to publishers. She is frequently asked to appear at conferences and events, but lives on the banks of Lake Murray or visits Edisto Beach, both in beautiful South Carolina. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com

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