Monday, March 7, 2011

Leanna's Marketing Smackdown #2 - Tips for Writers

About the Marketing Smackdown: Last year I wrote a quarterly column for my local RWA Chapter, RWA NYC, in their Keynotes Newsletter. Since I'm continuing the column into 2011, I thought I'd offer the 2010 posts here. While I'm not remotely a marketing expert, I do spend a lot of time on various marketing strategies and happen to have a lot to say about it. I hope writers might find this useful, and that readers and fans might find it interesting (or perhaps daunting) to know some of the many things we authors are doing while trying to juggle everything else in our life.

Marketing Smackdown #2 - Top Ten Marketing Musts

Copyright 2010 Leanna Renee Hieber

10. Have a website. Even if you’re not published. This is non-negotiable. Blogs like Wordpress and Blogger are free and have some flexible templates, are user friendly and they’re great places to start and you can buy a domain name and have it routed to the blog. It’s a great place to begin saying who you are, what you write, what organizations you belong to, and begin to create the network that will support you when you are published.

9. Have something other than your website where you can interact with readers, and at least have a jumping-off point. This can be a blog, Facebook Fanpage (free, I recommend it), etc. Have several ways people can find you and follow what you’re doing, but pick the ones you like. Just like there are 1,000 social networking sites out there, different people like/use different things. You don’t have to be ON all of them, but at least have a page up with basic information on several. (Example: I don’t like MySpace but I keep it up because some readers are only there. I update it randomly, but it has all the critical info people need to know to find me and my books elsewhere where I’m more active).

8. Leanna’s opinion: You hear me say this a lot. Twitter. It’s easy, low maintenance, low word count, great way to find out about industry stuff and link to content like blog posts, articles, etc and interact with other readers and authors in a vibrant way – it’s a big world-wide bulletin board and I’ve already mentioned it drives more traffic to my website.

7. Do some sort of advertising. Print advertising options are expensive and few and far between but a Romantic Times ad in their ‘debut author’ spotlight might not be a bad idea. Online advertising can be affordable (If you have a book trailer YouTube is an affordable way to advertise, Facebook has advertising options, The Romance Studio is great, a lot of romance blogs / forums have ad space, find some sites you like and see if they’ve advertising packages). Don’t go overboard on promo items but do have one useful item that you like that showcases your work; i.e. bookmarks, excerpt booklets, etc.

6. Think outside the box. What skills do you offer and what are your networks to rely on? What expertise do you have and how can you make that work for you? Example: My “Direct Your Book” workshop that I’ve now taught for several RWA chapters because of my theatre background which is a unique approach to thinking about writing. What we do outside of writing can be a great interest / tool / audience. Get the word out: Let your Alma Mater know what you’re up to, your hometown radio station, a local Meetup group, a bowling league, whatever.

5. Contests. People love free stuff. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but people will show up to your blog, website, twitter, etc, for free stuff. This is a way to build a mailing list. But you have to find a way of getting the word out about said contest. This is where things like twitter / facebook, etc come in handy. If your publisher has a forum, post contest info there.

4. Lose some sleep. It’s true that the more time you put into marketing in an online presence or at live events and conferences, the more you will get out of it. You don’t have to lose as much sleep as I have in the past year. *blink* *blink* but a month before your release day and your release week, give yourself a nice big push, as much as you can.

3. Find time for personal touches. I got a great response from readers who entered my contest who didn’t win but yet I sent them a signed bookmark as a token of appreciation for their interest and many wrote back, saying how much they appreciated it and were looking forward to my books. Balance live events (conferences, signings, etc.) with online presence. Face-time in both places is a good idea.

2. If a book blogger wants you to do an interview / Q and A with them, say yes. It’s free advertising for you, make time for it, it doesn’t have to be a lengthy piece, but book bloggers have an incredible network online and it’s a great place for people to discover you. My relationship with book bloggers has served me very well thus far, and they cross promote each other’s sites like nobody’s business.

1. Be nice. There’s nothing more important than this. People will offer you opportunities, share your work, get excited with you, etc. if you’re nice. We all love to write (otherwise we’re in the wrong business and should get out now) so let that love shine through. Love this mad business rather than fight it, you’ll have a better and healthier momentum with which to market your work with grace and flair.

Happy Writing, happy selling!

Tweet? Follow me @leannarenee




Lisa Kessler said...

Great blog Leanna!!! :)

Great tips and I agree you can get so far in life just by being nice...

Lisa :)

houndstooth said...

I think a lot of these things are true not just for writers, but for people in a lot of fields! I especially agree with the part about being nice. :)

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Thanks Lisa! Yep, I think the nice thing really is #1 always!

Houndstooth - Absolutely, some of these 'golden rule' issues apply to nearly every worker and workplace I've encountered, and I don't think we can ever be reminded enough to 'be nice' - It can be hard to do sometimes, but it trumps everything. :) *hugs* Pet all the pups for me!

♥ Dawn said...

Great tips!

One of these days I have to take your workshop! :)