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427 Posts tagged with the marketing tag
1

Do You Need Swag?

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 19, 2015

When I first got into indie publishing, I had to deal with a huge learning curve. I knew writing. I had been doing it for a couple of decades before I released my first title. The part I didn't know was what to do with a book once it's written, so I went on a self-taught publishing journey to find out how authors sell books. I got into blogging to support book sales. I tried personal videos to support book sales. I dove into social media to support book sales. I was building a platform. Then I went to Book Expo America, and I saw something I didn't expect to see in the literary world. I saw swag.

 

I wandered the floors of the convention hall, and I saw tote bags sporting images of book covers. I saw T-shirts. I saw magnets. I saw pens. I saw ties. I saw things at Erotica booths that I can't even mention. It blew my mind. Publishers and authors were giving stuff away by the truckload to help get the word out about their books.

 

I had a signing at some point during the show, and I sat next to an author who had boxes of this swag that she gave away with each book she signed. I had nothing, and I actually started to feel like I was shortchanging the people who got signed copies of my book. For the rest of the convention, I continually saw that author's name on a tote bag somewhere in the enormous facility. I even saw one of her ties on the streets of New York a few days later.

 

Swag works. Do you need it? Not necessarily, but if you've got a signing coming up, do yourself a favor, and bring some items with your name and book's title on it to give away. People eat that stuff up, and you may get some free advertising out of it.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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The Grassroots Marketing Ripple Effect

The Marketing Maze

931 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, book_signing, promotions, swag
0

In my last post, I said that for the overwhelming majority of authors, it's important to make an effort to connect with your fans. The same goes for having a good headshot. If you're selling millions of copies of your books each year, no need to read further.

 

Almost daily I receive an email from an author asking me a variation of the same question: "How do I market my book?" For those who have websites or author pages on Amazon (two things I've recommended in previous posts), I almost always look them up to see if I might want to interview them for a blog post, to check out their books, etc. And you know what? Nine out of ten times I cringe at the headshot because it looks so unprofessional. If your headshot looks like it was taken at Sears in the 1970s or cropped out of a group photo at a barbeque, it's time to get a new one.

 

If you're going to present yourself to the world as a professional writer, you need to look professional. Speaking engagements are a perfect example--put yourself in the shoes of a person deciding between two author candidates with roughly the same qualifications. Would you choose the guy in the flower shirt holding a spatula, or the woman in the tasteful suit sitting next to an elegant vase filled with flowers? They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but we all know everyone does.

 

Contrary to popular belief, a headshot doesn't have to cost a lot of money--or any money. I bartered for a recent one with a woman I met at a business networking group who needed some help editing her website. I got what I needed, and she got what she needed, a win-win!

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Lights, Camera, Smile!

Book Marketing Tip: Be Resourceful

1,246 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, headshots
0

How to Be Retweetable

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 12, 2015

Before social media the goal of an author was to write something memorable. It's still the goal today, but there's the added goal of writing something retweetable. Twitter is a mecca of viral content just waiting to be shared via retweet over and over again. The trick is writing something in 140 characters that moves your followers and their followers to retweet your content.

 

Here are some good rules of thumb to craft retweetable content and build your brand across the Twitterverse.

 

  1. You don't really have 140 characters: If you're using up all the characters allotted in a tweet, you're not allowing for followers to add their own two cents. You'd be surprised how many want to add their points of view to a message. If you can come in at 70-100 characters, your message is all the more retweetable.

  2. Pick your spots: According to Track Maven, Tuesday and Wednesday are the days with the highest volume of tweets, but weekends are where the largest number of retweets occur. The point? Your followers will be more likely to see your tweets during the week, but on weekends there's a greater likelihood that a smaller number or your followers will retweet your content and share it outside of your network, exposing your brand to a larger number of people.

  3. #usehashtags: Hashtags do get you retweeted, and the more you use, the more likely it is you'll be retweeted. A lot of people limit them or avoid them altogether, but there are a number of studies that say three to five hashtags in a tweet increases your chances of being retweeted.

  4. Three words that will greatly increase your retweet volume: By simply putting, "Please Retweet Now" in your tweet, you will see a marked increase in the number of retweets you receive.

 

Of course, the best way to receive a lot of retweets is to take advantage of the social aspect of Twitter and engage with followers, so they are more likely to support your career as an author, and make sure it's a two-way street. Support their dreams, too.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Twitter: A Global Tool That's Great for Connecting with Your Local Media

Can Twitter Make You a Better Writer?

1,252 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, promotion, writing, twitter, retweet, retweetable
0

Have you ever finished a great book and thought to yourself, I would love to send a note to the author, only to find yourself at a loss for how to do so? In my opinion, by not including contact information at the end of their books, those authors are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to connect with their readers.

 

Here are some other things you can include in your books to connect with your readers:

 

1)   The first chapter of your next book:

Including the first chapter of another book, whether it's a sequel or an entirely different story, is a great way to both alert your readers to its existence and to encourage them to buy it right then and there. If you don't have another book ready, why not include a brief note about something you have planned or have already begun?

 

2)   A sense of your personality in the acknowledgements:

I'm always a little disappointed when the acknowledgments page of a book is nothing more than a list of names. In addition to thanking people in this section, you can share a little bit about yourself with your readers. It doesn't have to be anything overly personal, but there's no harm in offering your fans a glimpse of who you are, how hard you worked to write the book, and how much you appreciate anyone out there who is actually reading it.

 

3)   Your website and/or newsletter information:

I absolutely love receiving emails from fans, so I put my website (www.mariamurnane.com) and/or email address everywhere I can. On my website there's a "Contact" button that provides my email address (maria@mariamurnane.com). I also have a "Sign up for Maria's newsletter!" button on every page of my site.

 

Granted, there are some authors out there who are so successful they don't need to interact with their readers to sell more books, but the rest of us should be doing everything we can to establish a connection with our fans. Word-of-mouth is the most powerful sales tool in the world, so anything you can to do to engage with your readers is well worth your time.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Tips for Engaging Your Readers Online

Book Marketing Tip: Make It Easy for Your Fans to Help You

3,766 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions
0

It's been said before, but it bears repeating: you are an expert. In what? Writing. Story structure. Character development. Every element that goes into writing and selling a novel is a subject matter in which you are an expert. You may not feel that way, but your experience says otherwise.

 

That expertise is a marketing opportunity. I'm assuming that you have at your disposal a computer with online access. You, my indie author friend, are a webinar away from taking your expertise global and growing your brand beyond your wildest dreams. Take that knowledge you have about writing, publishing, and marketing, and create a series of educational webinars that will position you as both an author and expert.

 

Webinars are relatively simple to create and host. There are a number of online webinar tools to help you deliver your material in a professional and highly interactive manner. You just have to provide the knowledge. You'll build your webinar audience via your social network. Attendance will be small at first, but if you keep at it and commit to a regular webinar schedule, you'll pick up more and more attendees, and those attendees will add to your reader base as well. It's a mutual-propagating relationship. One group will feed into the other and vice-versa.

 

I know it sounds like a huge time commitment, and in the beginning, it will be. Over time, though, you will develop a system with a built-in audience that will require minimal effort. Maintaining a regular webinar schedule can be both personally and financially rewarding.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Host Your Own Webinar

Sell Yourself as an Enthusiast

782 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writers, webinar
0

You aren't just an indie author. You are the head of a community. You have a responsibility to cultivate and grow your group. Here are five points to ponder as you examine your role as head of your online community.

 

  1. I get by with a little help from my friends: Your online community isn't a fan base. At least they shouldn't be treated like fans. They are your friends. They are supportive, responsive, and happy for you. You should treat them in kind.
  2. Community and culture: Every community on the planet has its own culture. Your online community of readers is no different. Since you are the founder and manager of your community, you have a sacred duty to identify that culture and develop parameters for engagement that won't diminish it. As an author, your culture is likely to be tied in large part to your preferred genre, but your sense of humor and personal belief system will also come into play.
  3. If you're not engaged, your community isn't engaged: If you let comments go without a response, you won't get many comments. People want to have a discussion. Give them what they want, and let them know they are being heard. Engage, engage, engage.
  4. Community outreach: Participate in other communities and allow other authors with their own communities to piggyback off your success. You need a community of readers, first and foremost. Those can be found by connecting with other authors. Remember, authors don't compete with other authors for readers. Readers devour books like potato chips. There are more than enough of both to go around.
  5. Manage squabbles: I have found that sometimes even the most innocent of comments can be misconstrued and escalated into hurt feelings. You have a responsibility that disagreements in your community are kept below fever pitch. Lively conversation and debate is not just okay, it can be a good thing, but watch closely so lines don't get crossed. When things get personal, draw the line and insert civility. Sometimes all it takes is a voice of reason to end a dispute.

 

Essentially, your goal is to grow your community to the point that it's so large it can't be handled by one person. That's when you'll have one of those problems that's nice to have.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

 

 

 

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Community Engagement Prompts

Selling Others Sells Yourself

2,972 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, selling, promotion, writing, community, online, social_media, outreach, marketing_strategy, author_advice
16

No matter who publishes your book, there's no guarantee that libraries will carry it. However, if you walk into your local library with a smile and a copy of your book and say, "Hi there! I wrote this book. Will you please carry it?" there's a good chance the answer will be "Sure." It can't hurt to ask, right? The worst the librarian can do is say no, and as I explained in a previous post, if you let a few NOs drag you down, you're not going to get very far in your book marketing efforts.

 

I live in New York, but I recently received an invitation to an event at the library in my hometown in California. And get this--it's a reception for local authors to meet local readers! How cool is that? For all I know, my novels have never even been checked out there, but their mere presence on the shelves resulted in an invitation. Maybe your local library is planning a similar event. You never know! Again, it can't hurt to ask. (And if your library isn't planning a similar event, why not suggest one?)

 

Another idea is to ask your friends or family members who live in different towns to walk into their local libraries and make a request for your book. If a card-carrying member of a library requests a specific book, the librarian will most likely order it. It's true! When I was writing my first novel, I remember telling my mom that if just one person I wasn't related to read it, I would be thrilled. I got confirmation that this had happened when my uncle, who lives in Indiana, requested that his local library carry the book. When he went back a few weeks later to check it out, someone had beat him to it! I have no idea who that first reader was, but I will never forget the wonderful moment when I found out he/she existed.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Three Easy Marketing Ideas

Avoid this Marketing No-No

1,893 Views 16 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, libraries
24

I'm always looking for ideas for this blog (as well as a good book to read), so I spend a chunk of my day keeping tabs on the publishing industry. Often when I stumble across an article about a new author, especially a new indie author, I head to Amazon to check out the book and the author's page. Who knows? I may buy the book or even contact the author about a possible interview.

 

If I see grammatical errors in an author page, however, I quickly move on.

 

For example, I recently visited the Amazon page of an author whose bio included the following mistakes (specifics changed to protect the author's identity):

 

What she wrote: Lisa Sue is the Author of five mysteries.

 

What she should have written: Lisa Sue is the author of five mysteries.

 

What she wrote: Her favorite topic's are X, Y and Z.

 

What she should have written: Her favorite topics are X, Y and Z.

 

What she wrote: Lisa Sue is a woman that has always worked hard for what she wants.

 

What she should have written: Lisa Sue is a woman who has always worked hard for what she wants.

 

I've said it countless times in this blog, but you only have quick moment to grab a (potential) reader's attention. If the impression you give is that you don't understand the basic rules of grammar, the potential reader is probably not going to buy your book, no matter how good it is. Perhaps the above author was in a hurry when she wrote her bio and didn't notice the mistakes, but to an educated reader the errors are distracting and unprofessional.

 

Think of your author bio the way you would your book's cover. People shouldn't judge your book based on it, but many will.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Common Mistakes a Professional Editor Sees

Grammar Tip: She vs. Her/He vs. Him

4,239 Views 24 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, grammar, author_bio, grammatical_errors
1

It has occurred to me lately that building a brand is a lot like dating. When you are in the midst of a courtship, you put your best foot forward. You enhance your strengths, downplay your weaknesses, and you work at being engaging. You are constantly looking for ways to keep the conversation lively and maybe even enlightening. You want the person you're courting to find you interesting--so interesting that they keep agreeing to see you in order to engage in more lively and enlightening conversation.

 

So, in addition to being a writer, your job as an author is to be interesting. Frankly, that's bad news for me because I'm boring. Terribly so. Mind-numbingly so. I have a risk-averse personality that prevents me from attempting dangerous stunts or hobbies. I abhor the nightlife. I can't even stand large crowds. Red carpets, galas, grandiose events: I'm not a fan. So, what's an author like me to do to be interesting enough to be a brand?

 

Well, the only thing I can do: go with the flow. I have hobbies and interests. I like photography. I enjoy football. I love attending local live theater. I even have causes such as supporting animal shelters. So, while I'm not a fascinating person, I find certain things in life fascinating and worth my attention. Those are the things I build my brand around. I share my thoughts on those things with my community. And, hopefully, my passion for them is what makes me interesting.

 

Your lifestyle might not be flashy, but that doesn't mean you're not interesting. How you express your zeal for those things that are important to you makes you interesting enough to be a brand.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Branding vs. Marketing for Authors

Branding 101: What is Author Branding?

3,760 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, writing, branding
3

Okay, it's time for a paradigm shift when it comes to an author's thinking about branding. The artists in most of us don't really cozy up to the idea of branding and marketing and all that commercialism. Still, we want to make a living as authors, indie or otherwise, so we suck it up, and we build our platforms. We write our blog posts, we record our personal videos, we join social networks, etc. And then, invariably, after a particularly hard day or bad week, we look at ourselves in the mirror and we ask, "When do I get to stop doing this? When will the books start selling themselves?"

 

The answers to the above questions: never and most likely never. Branding is a never-ending journey. The marketing that supports your brand is the fuel needed to continue that journey. With the growing numbers of titles vying for readers' attention every day, week, and year, there is no break in the action if you want to be and stay noticed.

 

Branding is not a task. It's a way of life. It is you in a public forum being you. It's not something you have to invent. It's something you already are. You're just using you to support your book sales. Stop thinking of this as something you have to do. It's something you're already doing. You're just doing it on a grander scale, and the grander the scale, the more books you sell.

 

When it comes to building a brand, don't get bogged down with the idea of having to do something. You've already done it. In essence, you're just introducing people to your brand.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Branding 101: Tools for Branding

To Brand Or Not To Use Creative Branding - Learn The Real Marketing Secret

4,525 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, self-publishing, writing, promotions, branding
0

It's reminder time. We discuss author brands on this blog quite a bit and strategies on how to build that brand. There's a lot of focus on social media and creating a community. We talk about personal videos, book signings, fan interaction, etc. There are numerous ways to build brand awareness.

 

But perhaps what we don't talk about enough is what the foundation for your brand should be. True, there are numerous considerations to take into account when you look at building your brand: genre expectations, reader demographics, the core of your platform, etc. Those are all things that will help you shape the message on which your brand is built, but they aren't the foundation of your brand. There is one simple factor you must use as the foundation for your brand. This one element is indestructible. If you put your artistic heart and soul into this one component, everything else you do is window dressing that simply complements it.

 

What is the one thing? Good writing. If you commit to perfecting your craft each and every time you sit down to write, your brand will be as solid as Mount Everest. Good writing--or better yet, great writing--is the key to giving you the will to put all the other pieces of a brand into place over the course of your career. If you find your voice as an artist, you will find your voice as a brand, and you can only find that voice through committing to becoming a better writer each time you set out to write.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Branding 101: The Keys to Successful Branding

Branding vs. Marketing for Authors

1,412 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, book, author, self-publishing, publishing, brand, branding, platform, author_brand, marketing_strategy, brand_awareness
8

Write for No One

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Aug 31, 2015

No one will read your book. That's what you should tell yourself every time you sit down to write. I don't think that's true. In fact, I have every reason to believe that your book will be a bestseller that will break every sales record in the publishing industry. I just don't want you to write with the reader and how many copies you will sell in mind.

 

If you start thinking about the reader when you write, you stop thinking about the story you're writing. What the reader will and won't like is irrelevant to you as a writer. Your job isn't to conform to expectations. Your job is to set expectations. Be bold if that's what your story requires. Be fierce if that's what your story requires. Even be predictable if that's what your story requires.

 

It's an old refrain of mine. You have no obligation except to those characters playing out the madness you're dreaming up. Think of them and only them when you write. And remember, you're not doing what's best for them. You're using them to fulfill the promise of your story. They are used for the good of the whole. The struggles and conflicts they face are the heartbeat that gives your story life. If you construct those struggles and conflicts in order to please the reader, you're writing an uninspired story with an artificial heartbeat.

 

Don't find your motivation to write in the reader. Find your inspiration to write in the story you're creating. If you see it from that perspective, it will be a liberating moment for you as you rush to finish your first draft.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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The "You" In Your Writing

When Writing, Don't Outsmart Yourself

4,397 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing
1

When your book comes out, it's natural to want to shout it from the rooftops--and you should! So many people want to write a book, yet few actually do, so you should celebrate your hard work. It's fun to say "Hey, I wrote a book!"

 

If you want your book to sell, however, you need to do more than just announce that it's out there. And that takes a different kind of work, one that isn't as fun. Promoting a book involves continuous outreach to multiple audiences via multiple channels, each of which might require a significant amount of follow-up. If you don't keep a record of whom you contact and when, it's easy to lose track of your efforts--and your momentum might die on the vine.

 

For example, imagine the following scenario:

 

Gloria goes online to look up regional alumni groups of her alma mater, UCLA. She finds that dozens of them have websites, so she contacts a bunch to see if they have book clubs, and if so, how to reach the organizers.

 

If Gloria has a system for tracking this part of her marketing campaign in place (I recommend a spreadsheet), she will:

 

A)   Know which alumni groups she has contacted--and when

B)   Have the contact information for the alumni groups stored in one place, so she won't have to research them again in the future

C)   Know which groups have book clubs, and which of those she has contacted

D)   Know which groups said yes, no, or maybe so and be able to follow up accordingly

 

If Gloria doesn't have a system in place, the only record of her campaign will be the outbox of her email program. She may have some success with that approach, but given how much follow-up is necessary to make things happen in a world where the people you're contacting are busy with their own lives, chances are a lot of her efforts will be for naught.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Marketing Tip: Create a Master Spreadsheet

Book Marketing via Email: Blind Copy and Newsletters

4,895 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, promotions, book_clubs
3

I get a lot of emails from authors who are discouraged because they aren't having much luck with their marketing efforts. They want to know what my "secret" is because they think I have it all figured out.

 

Hahaha.

 

Can I tell you something?

 

My "secret" is that I get discouraged too!

 

Let me share a true story: A few months ago I began chatting with the organizer of a book club that wanted to read my latest novel, Wait for the Rain. I live in New York, and they are in California, so we scheduled a Skype call. The group is part of a large social organization that has a Facebook page and Twitter account, so for weeks before the event they were promoting it all over social media. I wasn't sure how many women would be in attendance, but I was expecting a pretty good turnout given how much promotion they'd been doing.

 

The day of the meeting, the organizer sent out a final tweet of excitement. That evening I got my laptop all set up, logged in to Skype, and was all ready to go. The call was set for 9:30 p.m. my time.

 

Then 9:30 came and went. Radio silence.

 

At 9:40, the organizer emailed me to tell me that she was mortified. Only one other person had shown up to the meeting, and neither of them had read the book.

 

What did I do? I laughed. What else could I do? Sure, I was disappointed, even a little embarrassed, but I wasn't going to let it get to me because I'd learned not to let it get to me. If I'd given up on my marketing efforts the first time something like that had happened to me, I wouldn't be where I am now.

 

As I wrote in a recent post, book marketing is a numbers game. You have to keep playing--and laughing. I guess that's my secret!

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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Book Marketing Takes Persistence

Three Easy Marketing Ideas

5,991 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author, writing, promotions
1

In a recent post I suggested carrying a book wherever you go in case you have the opportunity to sell it and/or give it away. I realize, however, that it's not always practical to lug a book around. But it is practical to lug a wallet around, which is why I also recommend getting business cards made with information about you and your book(s).

 

If you have just one book out, here's what I recommend including on the card:

 

  • Cover image of your book
  • Brief tagline/description (this is good because it forces you to be creative and concise)
  • Your name, followed by "author"
  • Your website (if you have one--if you don't have one, get one made soon!)
  • Your email address
  • Your twitter handle if you have one

 

If you have more than one book out, here's what I recommend including:

 

  • Your name, followed by "author" (could also include something like "author of books about XX" or "author of books that YY," etc.)
  • Your website (if you have one--if you don't have one, get one made soon!)
  • Logo of your website (see above if you don't have a website)
  • If you don't have a website, include images of your book covers as long as they're not too small
  • Your email address
  • Your Twitter handle if you have one

 

Business cards are easy to get made and cheap to buy. Some resources include Vistaprint, Got Print, and Zazzle. These sites also include options for other marketing materials, such as postcards, bookmarks, etc.

 

As with any marketing effort, you'll have no idea which of the cards you give out are going to end up in the recycling bin and which might lead to a sale. But at least you'll be doing what you can to get the word out about your writing--and that's what matters!

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

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