Thursday, June 30, 2011

Selling to Markets Outside the Bookstore

I recently listened to a special podcast with Brian Jud and he talked about selling books to special markets. Thought I would share with you some of the things he covered. Most of this works better for non-fiction, but there are plenty of markets for fiction, too.

He talked about selling what your book does, not what it is. When you’re contacting these special markets, how will the person/company you’re speaking to benefit? How will readers benefit? What problems will your book solve? Can you reformat your book into booklets, pamphlets, or pdf downloads? Can you match your book with an association’s cause?

Some of the markets he mentioned:

Book clubs
Airport stores (besides the bookstore)
Corporate libraries
Alumni groups
Corporate gifts
Reading groups
Gift and specialty stores
Display marketing
Cruise ships
Museums, parks, and zoos
Home Shopping Network

Does this give you some new ideas? Here’s another great thing about these markets - they don’t return books!

Visit Brian Jud’s site Book Marketing Works and sign up for his newsletter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Promotion Begins With the First Word

I was supposed to have a guest post today, but since that fell through, here's some promotional considerations during the writing phase of your book.

Promotion Begins With the First Word

Marketing is often a writer’s greatest challenge. The sooner you can begin planning your promotions, the greater your chance of success. And marketing should begin with the very first word.

Before pouring your heart and soul into your efforts, consider the marketability of your work. Explore bookstores off and online to determine if your niche is too small or genre too large. Examine the competition in depth. Most book purchases are determined by either subject matter or the author’s reputation. Do you have enough status to be considered an expert in your field? Does your book fill a need? If writing fiction, will the hook of your story be powerful enough to make you stand out from all the other authors in your genre? Remember, no one book appeals to all people, so know your target audience. Take all of this into account before passionately writing a book you cannot sell.

Tie-ins play a key role in the success of a book as well. Start asking yourself now – who would endorse my book? Favorably Mentioning specific products, companies, individuals and locations may garner endorsements. A celebrity endorsement, whether from an actor, an athlete, or another author, can increase the credibility of your work. Don’t forget organizations, non-profit groups or even political parties that might recommend your book or even use it for a fundraiser. The setting of your story might be of great interest to the people who reside there and in fact could be your target audience. Consider all of these aspects as you create your work.

Be aware of the length of your book. When exploring the bookshelves, look at the average length of books in your genre. Will yours be too long or too short? Page sizes and fonts will vary, so think in terms of word count. Research your genre thoroughly and be aware of the maximum and minimum word counts. Publishers and agents don’t want to see a book from an unknown writer that’s over 100,000 words - some want it closer to 80,000. Watch your word count even if you intend to self-publish.

The promotion process begins with the writing phase. If you do not prepare during this time, you may find it difficult to market your book or entice the interest of a publisher. Write success into your book right now!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Business Cards and Black Fur

I'm visiting Donna Hole’s BLOG and discussing business cards for writers, authors, and speakers. What goes on a business card? What information? What about book covers? Drop by for the full scoop.

Before you leave, meet the reasons why my keyboard stays covered in black fur…

Monday, June 20, 2011

People Skills & Communication

The Carnegie Institute of Technology revealed that 85% of our success is based on our ability to deal with other people. How we interact with others is so important. And while we slip now and then, we need to stay positive and remember that all actions carry with them a reaction, especially online. (Think Karma.)

Sometimes we see people do things that are so negative and hurtful. Things that could've been avoided with a little communication. Several incidents this year have caused me to cringe at the lack of people skills.

An unpublished writer posted a very negative book review. That person stated the book was awful, but since it was sent for a review, HAD to finish it. The reviewer went beyond the book, though, and half of the review was an attack on the author as a person. I felt so bad reading it, I wanted to send the author an email saying how sorry I was for the personal slurs - and I didn’t even write it!

Life is too short to read a really bad book and most book bloggers will contact an author before posting a negative review. I doubt this person did that. But the personal attack was uncalled for and unprofessional. It told others this person might do the same to them. It really made the reviewer look bad, not the author. And what happens if this writer one day has a book?

Another person became upset when a review copy wasn’t sent. This blogger had volunteered to feature the author, along with a hundred others. I don’t believe a review copy was even requested. Eventually this person told the author the friendship was over, and all because of one review copy. I read about this when the author posted a general, very humble, and sincere apology to all online friends. (And judging from the comments, no one blamed the author.)

Life is more meaningful when we can do things for others. Online we help one another, like the hundreds of people who supported Talli Roland last December. This person volunteered to help. If a review copy was needed, a request should’ve been sent. (And sometimes the author doesn’t have review copies, so a request goes to the publisher.) But to blame the author and denounce friendship over a book seems trivial and uncaring.

Both of these situations could’ve been avoided with a little communication. The first person could’ve contacted the author before posting the review (and left out the personal attack of course) and the second person could’ve contacted the author or publisher and requested a review copy. So simple.

Fortunately, communication can begin to resolve these issues with the words “I’m sorry.” Again, so simple.

Have you seen a demonstration of poor judgment lately? A lack of people skills? A failure to communicate? A situation you wish you could change? Remember those simple words.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Promo - Traditional and 21st Century - with Elizabeth Spann-Craig

Today I am delighted to welcome Elizabeth Spann-Craig and her tips for book promotion! Be sure to follow the link below for her latest book, Finger Lickin' Dead.

Book Promo—Both Traditional and 21st Century Methods-- by Elizabeth S. Craig

Marketing a book can feel really overwhelming.  After all, authors have already slogged through writing the book, editing it, querying it, and working through editorial revisions.  Now they’re faced with promotion.

But there’s really a marketing approach for everyone.  And there’s both a traditional way to promote a book, and a more modern approach via social media.

Traditional Book Marketing: 

Postcards:  I know several authors who really use postcards to their advantage.  They do an amazing job sending postcards to book clubs in the area (this is a list built up over years), a reader mailing list (readers who, obviously, asked to receive promo material for new releases), and independent bookstores.  I’ve sent them, myself, to libraries’acquisitions departments to ask if they could order my books.

If you’re sending your postcards to bookstores and libraries, be sure to mail out early.  Most places do their ordering months ahead of a release.  Postcards should have your name, the book’s name, the publisher’s name, the ISBN number, the price of the book, the release date, book cover, and—if possible—a short review snippet if you’ve gotten one.

For a listing of libraries, go to, which searches libraries for content worldwide. You just plug in your book’s name, hit the search button, and find the results. For a listing of public libraries, go to Public You’ll get physical addresses, phone numbers, and websites (from which you can get the library’s email address).

Bookmarks:  Bookmarks are very useful promotional tools for handing out at signings or leaving at bookstores or libraries (ask first). You can either design your own on Microsoft Publisher (which comes with Microsoft Office) and have a copy shop print and laminate them, or you can use an online printer like Iconix or Print Place.

Signings:  Signings are my least-favorite way to promote my book, I’ll admit.  But you can definitely increase your sales during signings by a few different approaches.  First, you shouldn’t sit at the little table that the store provides you—stand next to it, instead.  Next, don’t wait for folks to approach you (that could take a while.)  Ask the store’s patrons if they’d like a bookmark and hand them out as they come in the store. Most of them will ask, “Is this your book?”  You should also consider having a bowl of candy on your table to entice people closer to your table.

Panels/Lectures:  Talking on a panel or being a guest lecturer at a library is an easy way to promote your book.  Usually I try not to travel too far for these events, or else the costs outweigh the benefits.  After your talk, the event hosts will usually have a table set up where you can sell books.  Shy about speaking or not sure how to prepare?  Diane had some fabulous tips about preparing for a speaking engagement recently on the Marketing Tips for Authors blog.

21st Century Book Marketing:

Twitter: I’m definitely a fan of Twitter.  Not only are there a lot of writers there, there are booksellers, librarians, and book bloggers who tweet.  It’s a great place to make connections…and no, it’s really not about what you ate for breakfast that morning.  You could start out by just tweeting three times a day—once to tweet an industry-related news story (like a GalleyCat post), once to re-tweet a friend’s blog post or tweet, and once to call attention to your last blog post.

Facebook/Goodreads:  Facebook is a great way to make connections.  Not only is it a good place to engage casually with other writers, readers have lately seemed to really flock to the application.  It’s the best tool for interacting and developing a relationship with your readers.  If you’re interested in posting a giveaway for your new release (which is a great way to get the word out), you should think about using Goodreads as a host, since Facebook’s new rules ban mentioning contests on the site.

Blogging/Blog Tours: Book tours are expensive, but other than the cost of your internet connection, blog tours are free! I love blog tours. You get a chance to interact with a different group of readers, the blog host gets a chance to take a short break, and your book’s hits on Google go up. It’s important to be organized with blog tours—know where you’re supposed to be and confirm it with the host a couple of times. Be sure to check in with comments during the day. You’ll want the tour to be long enough to be noticed, but not so long that blog tour fatigue sets in (for you and your readers.)

Book Trailers: This is an area that I haven’t explored personally, but I know several people who have gotten a lot of extra exposure through their book trailers.  Jane Friedman hosted Darcy Pattison on her blog and Darcy had some fantastic tips about using trailers effectively.

Have you launched a book?  What worked for you?  Or, what have you seen other writers do with promo that you thought worked well?

Bio:  Elizabeth’s latest book Finger Lickin’ Dead released June 7th.  Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.
Writer's Knowledge Base--the Search Engine for Writers
Twitter: @elizabethscraig

Monday, June 13, 2011

Professionalism is Important!

Today I am visiting Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs talking about areas where writers need to be professional in order to compete and where to find assistance.

And for those who read my post at Book Marketing Strategies and Tips For Authors about being prepared for speaking engagements, this might give you a chuckle.

Last Thursday I had a speaking engagement in the NC mountains, which involved an overnight stay. I got to the hotel, changed clothes, reached in my suitcase for my shoes...
Yes, not only had I grabbed two different styles of Mudd shoes, they were both the left foot!

Thank goodness I'd worn my new Toms I bought in Wilmington. They sufficed in a pinch.

Guess some things we just can't prepare for!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Finding Support with Bob Sanchez

Please welcome Bob Sanchez as he offers tips about writing support.

Hi Diane, and thanks for hosting me on my blog book tour. What fun it is to see old and new Internet friends stopping by and commenting.

The other day I was thinking about what to write for this post and remembered your Circle of Friends. We often think of writing as being a solitary pursuit, and rightly so, up to a point. When I started writing fiction in the late ’80s, it was just me and my Writer’s Digest instructor, who gave me a lot more attaboys than I remotely deserved. Had he been my only lifeline, I would have quickly quit. But then someone introduced me to a writers’ group that met at members’ homes twice monthly. That group still exists, and I stayed with it for 15 years until I moved away. They are a mix of published and unpublished fiction writers, all of whom are skilled and attentive listeners. Our chemistry certainly wouldn’t work with every group, and over the years we showed the door to several people who creeped out the women, never wrote anything, or otherwise didn’t fit in. Occasionally people left us because we were too social. We did socialize a lot at our meetings, but we always got down to business eventually. We’d sit in a circle of friends with our munchies and our notepads while people read usually 10-12 pages of a work in progress. In all that time we had no organization, and everyone was always treated equally. A couple of them—may I write this on your blog?—had well-honed b.s. detectors that tended to set off loud alarms when someone (usually yours truly) would read something outrageously dumb. Or a member might pipe up, “cliché alert!” and point out an overused phrase. Yet the critiques were kind, constructive, and honest, with an occasional dollop of teasing.

All three of my published novels (and my several unpublished ones) went through many Friday night sessions with this group. Sometimes we’d pick nits on each other’s work, but more commonly the comments had real substance that helped immensely with plot, character, setting, and tone. Often a member would privately agree to read and critique an entire draft, knowing that reciprocation would follow down the road. One of the best lessons I learned from my friends is the value of rewriting. Many a reading would start out with the person saying, “This is my third draft of this chapter.”

Finding such a group may not be practical, possible, or even desirable for you. But I’m convinced that most writers need someone. If you’d like to find an online group, consider the Internet Writing Workshop where I’ve been a member for years. It’s free to join, is well-run, and has a number of specialized critique groups.

What resources do you use for support? Face-to-face writers’ groups? Conferences? Online groups? Please share what works for you.

I hope you’ll visit all the great blogs on my tour. Please post a comment for a chance to win an ebook or signed paperback copy of one of my novels. And thanks for visiting!

Thanks, Bob! For more information:

Bob’s tour schedule
Bob’s Blog
Background on Little Mountain
Purchase Little Mountain

Monday, June 06, 2011

It's All Fun & Games Blogfest

Today I’m participating in Alex J Cavanaugh’s It’s All Fun & Games Blogfest.

My husband and I love to play games. We probably own more games than most families with children. I’m supposed to pick three, so here they are in reverse order:

#3 - Scrabble

I’ve always enjoyed this game, and its sister, Upwords. As an author, I’ve always joked that I don’t know any big words, and it shows when I play! I am the master of making up words that end up being real, though. I recently downloaded Scrabble to my new IPhone and I’m addicted. At least I can beat ‘Norm’ every time!

#2 - Trivia Games

Bring it on! Any kind of trivia game. I’m not very good at history, geography, or sports, but I do well in other categories. We have an OLD game called Rock Trivia, and if it’s about a 60’s band, my standard answer is Herman’s Hermits. (I’ve been right several times!) My skill lies in dates. I can usually remember when anything happened. Guess my brain excels at storing useless numbers.

#1 - Roller Coaster Tycoon

This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me - I am a roller coaster junkie. When the first version came out, I was glued to my computer for months. Design my own coasters? Pure Heaven! I played the second and third versions for hours, too. It’s not currently loaded on my computer, but I can still hear the music. When they changed the platform for the fourth version, I wasn’t crazy about it. But the first three will forever hold a special place in my heart! I even own the RCT board game.

And your favorite games?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Preparing For Speaking Engagements

Speaking is the next step in the evolution of an author. From casual gatherings of writers and readers to professional meetings of organizations and businesses, opportunities will arise. While the atmosphere and settings may all be different, one thing remains the same - an author needs to prepare!

Today I am a guest at Tony Eldridge's site, Book Marketing Strategies and Tips For Authors, with a speaking engagement checklist.

Tony runs a top-notch site, filled with information on book promotion. Please stop by today!