books, Books sales, Indie writing, marketing, Self-publishing, successful writer, Writer's Market, Writing, writing conferences, writing for success, young writers

Marketing for Success 101: Bronze

Yesterday we put the Copper Package together.  Or at least, I’m assuming you did that because the Bronze package is built on top of it.  If you haven’t put the Copper Package together, then stop reading and go back to that task.  You must have the essentials or foundation before you can build up and out.
The following 5 marketing strategies are free, but could be a bit daunting at first.  Don’t aim for perfection.  It will come.  Just practice incorporating these new strategies into the platform you have built.

  • Blog
  • Virtual blog tour
  • Podcasts
  • Book trailers/picture story
  • Press release

iu-2.jpegOnce you get your website together, you should have the option of adding a Blog. I use WordPress and have it integrated into my website. WordPress also links to FB, Twitter, SnapChat, Tumblr, etc.

The most commonly asked questions about blogs address content. What do I want to say? The easiest way to get started with a blog is to simply tell the story of your writing experience.  Maybe you have a cover design. You can post that. A blurb of the story.

NEVER, EVER throw anything away.  Yes, your editor may have just cut 100 pages of your favorite action scene, but it’s not over yet. When you become rich and famous, you can pull out those cuts and publish an uncut version. Save your doodles. Save. Save. Save. Even if you want to trash it: SAVE.
Write one blog per day.  Respond to people who make comments or ask questions and follow as many as you are comfortable following.

Price: FREE

iu-3.jpegOh dear. First a blog, and now this?  What is a blog tour, anyway?  Generally, a tour lasts about two weeks. An author “visits” a new blog every day, while promoting each stop on social media. Whether an author chooses to hire a publicity professional to book a tour, or decides to go it alone, a virtual book tour is increasingly an important part of the publication process.
You may need help getting this together.  Plan it about 6 months before your release, or use it to promote an online release
Many different companies will design a plan for you.  Just Google virtual blog tours, blog tours, or book tours.
Price:  $300+


A podcast can be an audio or an audio with video.  You will need a means to capure audio and video, like FB Live.  And what do you talk about?  Put together a list of interview questions.  Maybe a friend could ask the question for you.  Then you just talk about what you know best:  your experience of writing a book.

Price:  Free

A book trailer is like a movie trailer.  You will see them on FB and YouTube.  They are short videos.  Microsoft’s Photo Story is good for this.  You will need some pictures, music, and a script.  I tried doing this without a script.  Total waste of time unless you’re really good at talking on the fly.  Watch for copyright notices on pictures and music.  Go to the Public Domain if you are worried.
Price: Free
Press Releases should be written by your publisher for immediate release.  If you want your publisher, PR agent, editor, etc. to send out press releases on your behalf, be sure to provide email addresses.  Don’t just say I want a press release in the Baltimore Sun. It is hard to find email addresses for a lot of firms.  Do your research.  I’ve spent an entire day looking for one newspaper’s email address.  I have given up on several others.  Remember:  there is a division of labor here. Whoever writes the release should not have to spend more time researching addresses (or reading your mind), unless that is part of your contract.

Price:  Free

Do some playing around and see what works for you.  Tomorrow we move on to the Silver Package, which means you must have the Copper Package under control.  It’s always going to go back to that one.


baby, Indie writing, marketing, Publishing, publishing manuscript standards, publishing process, Self-publishing, successful writer, Writer's Market, Writing, writing conferences, writing for success, young writers

Marketing for Success

This week’s blog material extends beyond the publishing process.  If you think about the comparison of a baby and a book, you’ll see they have many things in common.  Let’s say the making of a baby takes at least 9 months.  Perhaps there were other attempts that took quite a while.  So now the making of a baby takes 9+ months.  Much like a novel.  Carrying that baby was at the very least, challenging.  Some pregnancies are easier than others.  Labor?  Was that one push and it was over, or did it last for hours upon hours?
Now you have that baby you have wanted to hold in your arms.  All your life you have dreamed of this baby. What do you do?  Here are some possible options.  1.) Do nothing.  Let the little thing just lie there and try to care of itself. 2.) Shake your head and offer not the least bit of attention.  3.) Sell the baby. Maybe someone else will like it.  4.) Let the baby die and move on to another one.  You can see where I’m going with this one.
Harsh?  Absolutely.  But that is exactly what you are doing if you write that novel, publish it, and then fall into one of the above options.
Your best strategy?  Love your baby.  Give it all you can give.  Introduce your baby to the world and be proud.  Nourish that baby until it can provide for itself, and then don’t ever forget your journey and what this baby means to you.
So…how did my book turn into a metaphor for a baby?
Simple answer:  I went to a conference.  I had the pleasure (distaste?) of listening to an author complain about her publisher.  According to her, her small publisher had done NOTHING to promote her book.  (Drama, drama, tears.)  So, the presenter asked her what SHE was doing to market her book.  What was HER marketing strategy?
Response:  blank look
If your response is a blank look, then read on.  Each day this week, I’m providing some simple marketing suggestions.  Some are DIY; others you may need to outsource.  BUT before you opt for outsourcing, check your contract, your bank account, and your resources.
Market ’til you make it.
Agents, books, editing, editing process, editors, Indie writing, Letters of inquiry, manuscripts, marketing, Publishing, publishing process, query letters, Self-publishing, successful writer, Writing, writing for success, Young Adult, young adult fiction

To Prologue or Not to Prologue?​

We’ve all seen it.  Start pulling some books off a shelf, and chances are you will see a prologue.  However, a prologue can be a red flag.  If you haven’t heard back from your editor/agent/publisher, rethink your prologue.  It can be the worst offender of all. #RMFW2017 @RMFWriters @crystalpubs2014

Continue reading “To Prologue or Not to Prologue?​”

Indie writing, Self-publishing

Self-Publishing Mistakes

5 Rarely Discussed Self-Publishing Mistakes: What NOT To Do

self publishing mistakes

  1. Don’t self-publish your first draft: If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of a self-published author banging his head on his desk. It happens every few seconds. Listen very, very carefully. There’s another bang. He thought the book was genius when he clicked publish and he had even “spell-checked” the manuscript beforehand, but now the Amazon reviewers are saying some really nasty things about his book. Things like, “I couldn’t get past the first chapter because of all the errors” and “This was obviously self-published…” Don’t be that guy. Fine-tune your manuscript by going through at least one round of revisions and self-editing and then hire a professional editor to bring a different perspective to the project. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway: The first draft of anything is crap. Don’t publish crap.

Money pit:  A professional editor is not cheap.  There are prices per word, per 250 words, per 1,000 words, per page, and per hour.  DO NOT use friends and family.  Ask to see a résumé.  You should see something other than literature classes.  Words like “rhetoric,” “linguistics,” “grammar,” or a foreign language with complex structures such as Latin or Greek should tell you the person behind that résumé is professional.  A variety of literature classes tells you the person has experience with good literature — which I am assuming you are hoping to attain.

2.  Don’t overprice your book: I’m really surprised that more authors aren’t discussing this. I’ve seen multitudes of authors trying to sell their books at exorbitant prices. You need to think as the consumer. Why would a customer pay $30 for your paperback book instead of $12.99 for a NY Times bestseller? Or $9.99 for your e-book instead of $6.99 for Stephen King? They probably won’t! Try enticing the customer with a competitive (or discounted) price and watch what happens.

Money pit:  The problem with self-publishing is pricing.  If the price is discounted, you lose money on every copy sold.  Plan for the discount and you won’t be surprised.  If you expect to get rich over night, buy a lottery ticket.  You’ll have a better chance.  Stay true to your commitment no matter how long it takes.  Festivals are good venues where you can sell you book and expect to make money.  But is this what you want to do every weekend?

3.  Don’t count on sales at brick-and-mortar bookstores: It’s true that many indie bookstores will happily stock your self-published print book. Some of them will work out consignment deals with you. From my experience, they’ll want around 40%. Major chains will want at least 50% and you’ll generally need to go through layers of bureaucracy in order to get your book stocked. You’ll also need to take the risk of making your book “returnable.” As you can imagine, this could get ugly very quickly. For those reasons and many others, I advise self-publishing authors to focus primarily on online sales. Your profit margins will increase and you’ll be able to cover a ton of ground much more quickly.

Money Pit:  I have also encountered an additional charge of $60 as a “shelf” charge even though the books are not put on a shelf!  Bookstores generally operate via warehouses.  In this case, you will provide the warehouse with approximately 1,000 books at your cost; the warehouse will manage the books for approximately 3 years; and the unsold copies are shredded or the front covers are torn off so you have nothing to sell.  If you have several thousand dollars to waste, then this is the way to go.  

4.  Don’t think that just having an online presence is enough: “I’m on Facebook,” says almost every self-published author. “I’m on Twitter. I’m on Pinterest. I have a blog. I have a website…” This is all very nice, but it’s not enough to simply have an online presence. You need to be active on all of your platforms. In other words, you can’t just “set it and forget it.” Treat your online presence as you would your own home. Care for it, live in it, and love it.

Money Pit:  Maintaining all the social media can be quite consuming.  This leaves you little time for writing.  You can buy sites to manage your social media for you:  $10 for this, $270 for that.  Add up what you are willing to pay for marketing.  Don’t get caught in a trap.  If you pay a guy to pitch your book in Hong Kong, how do you know that is really happening?  If you want to check on it you’d have to fly to Hong Kong yourself, so why not do the pitch yourself?

5.  Don’t expect that strangers will automatically care about your book: I have to admit that when I first started self-publishing, I thought everyone needed my book. Everyone. My inspirational book could motivate and change lives. I knew it. But no one cared at first (aside from friends and family, of course). I had to make them care. I accomplished this by – wait for it – networking! I created Facebook groups (and even Myspace groups; remember Myspace?). I befriended book lovers on Facebook. I reached out to fellow writers by email and met them in person at signings and other events. Most importantly, I made good impressions on those people and most of them supported me by helping spread the word. I know this isn’t fun or sexy advice. Many self-publishing authors looking for advice don’t want to hear that this ride could be a long one. Throw away the idea of “quick and easy” and focus on building relationships!

Money Pit:  And don’t expect your family and friends to buy copies.  Family and friends expect you to GIVE them a copy.  Reach out to strangers and build relationships.  Set up author pages and blogs —  all time-consuming.  AND remember that aside from social media and book signings, conferences cost about $300+ plus room and board and transportation.  Book signings are even starting to charge admission.  Festivals charge fees.  Calculate your fees.