Think Outside the Book

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention is my guest blogger today. She says:

I am a “Shameless Promoter”. In fact, I enjoy promoting my novels and helping others learn to do so, and I speak at writers’ conferences on this topic. I am even known as “Shameless Promoter” amongst my peers and many in the book industry, and it’s a name I wear proudly. As an author, promoting my books is my #1 responsibility after writing them. I partner with my publishers and distributors, and that’s the way authors need to see this-as a partnership. Now, enough of me. 

Most authors, when faced with the daunting task of promoting their books, think of the most obvious ways–book signings and via their website. I’ve discovered that it’s crucial to the basic survival of an author to “think outside the book!” We’ve all heard the phrase “think outside the box.” This simply means: “Be creative!” Don’t get stuck in a small rut of small activities that lead to small results. 

Dreaming big has led me to much success. And it can for you too! 

My motto for years has been “Dare to Dream…and Dream Big!” And I tell people, “If that doesn’t work, Dream BIGGER!” I’ve been a published novelist since 2003, and all of my novels have gone on to be bestsellers on Amazon in the US and Canada . They’ve also attracted a lot of film success. Why? Because I thought “outside of the book”. 

In 2006, I partnered with a screenwriter and we wrote the screenplay for my critically acclaimed novel Whale Song. This led to writing a movie treatment. I had never thought I’d be writing either, but as soon as I pursued this, opportunity knocked. A film producer in Canada wanted to see the screenplay. While he eventually turned it down, this experience taught me that I must see further than a book on a store shelf. Frankly, that used to be my dream-seeing my books in bookstores. I’ve now come to realize that the real dream is to see those books MOVE off those shelves and into the hands of avid readers. 

So how do you reach the multitudes and market your books to them? 

Think outside…okay, you should have it by now. Instead of thinking “bookstores” as your main market, think “consumers”. You want to reach your readers, those wonderful people who will become fans of your work and email you every time they read one of your books. So go where the readers are! 

You’ll find booklovers on MySpace, Facebook, Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, AuthorsDen, AuthorNation, NothingBinding,TextNovel, Chapters Online Community and hundreds of other websites. 

What do you do once you’re a member of these sites? Network, make friends and shamelessly promote your work without being pushy. Being genuine is far better, and if you’re like me you’ll enjoy making new friends. For more information on how authors can use online social networks, please check out my 5-part article on exactly that: 

How Can Authors Use Online Social Networks? 

How else can you “think outside the box”? 

Have you contacted your local book clubs? What about nonprofit organizations? Maybe you could partner with them and help them raise funds by donating a portion of your proceeds. Could you benefit from a corporate sponsor? What about trade shows, special events and library talks? And have you held a virtual book tour (VBT). I have a step-by-step plan on how to organize one at: Authors Tour the World with Virtual Book Tours

Have you checked out your local hospital gift shops, specialty gift shops?

You can learn more about me an my novels (Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention) by visiting my website and official blog:

http://www.cherylktardif.com
http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com

Book Marketing: Branding Yourself As an Author

John Marion Francis, Romance Writer and Market Research Analyst, discusses his marketing plan:

For politicians and celebrities, Facebook is a gold mine for public consumption; it’s not so true for authors or up coming authors. Facebook is one of those tools you need to have on your internet radar. It helps more for when people google you aka search the net.

In comparison, I have more readers and fans from Myspace and AuthorsDen per month. Part of my marketing plan that for now all of my romance short stories are free and open to the public. All of them.

I’m a market research analyst specializing in consumer marketing and the first rule of marketing a unknown product is to “give it away first”. When I stepped out onto the public viewing stage of writing I knew going in that:

1 – Nobody knows who I am
2 – Nobody has read my work
3 – I don’t have anything published anywhere
4 – I don’t a following
5 – I don’t have an agent or publisher
6 – I don’t have a brand name

MARKETING

My plan and strategy requires two things:

1 – Branding

I researched how the Big Guns do it. I noticed that their name became their brand and that it is the Main Header on the book cover. Everything that they produced, newsletters, blogs, press releases, websites, web meta tags, etc. is branded. Branding aka Logo; is key to successful marketing of any product. Without it, no one will connect to your product. Seeing this, I created a Brand Name — John Marion Francis (my pen name).

Everything I produce (author website, weblinks, Blog Spots, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) bares my brand John Marion Francis. I always close with my branded signature ~Jonathan~. I also branded Romance Short Story Reading, Romance Short Story Store, Romance Online Reading, all of these domains I own.

My book covers (I create my own) follow the same design concept as the Big Guns (name branded at the top or bottom boldly). The key is to be consistant once you have settled on a brand name. Changing it constantly will put you at the back of the line every time and you’ll have to start all over again. Once people recognize and connect with your brand, then the product content is next.

2 – Product — My main product is Free Romance Short Stories

If you do not specialize then people will not find you among the masses. As in previous discussions in the Suspense/Thriller Writers group on Facebook, “Finding your voice”, “Character building”, “Backstory” to name a few, the message is clear: having a “unique” niche gives you the competitive edge. Mine is 1) – I’m a male romance author. 2) – All of my Romance Short Stories are free. My style is modern contemporary romance. My main characters are 95% woman-based. They deal with everyday romance issues in settings of “today’s modern woman”. I shape my characters and story based on everyday observations of people and the emails from my readers with their reviews and opinions of current stories. I always release Preview Chapters of all WIPs. Based on responses from my readers, I know which one to go with first and how to shape the story.

Another unique marketing approach is to let my readers “ghost write” part of a story aka Reader-to-Writer relationship building. I take story request from my readers and write their story for them. This thrills them to no end, so the marketing rule of one-to-many and many-to-one becomes viral marketing. They email and tell their friends “I’m in a story, come read my story!” and the page hit counter begins to zoom.

SUMMARY

The main thrust of my marketing strategy is based on Free Romance Short Stories. Without giving away the farm, I can continue a direct connection to my readers while developing a customer base. When I complete my first novella and or book for public sale, I’ll already have a fan base to support the release.

Well, I’ve taken up a lot of time on this subject so I’ll stop here. I hope this insight works for you.

Book Marketing on the Internet: Sites for Writers

A. F. Stewart is a writer of fantasy stories and poetry. Stewart has been writing for several years, periodically interrupted by those pesky events called life. Stewart has three published books: one volume of poetry, a short story collection and a non-fiction booklet about action movies. All are currently available at Lulu.com. Stewart graciously shares what she has learned about book marketing sites: 

A comparison of the three social sites I have joined (Squidoo is not included, because we all know it is just wonderful), and list the most useful aspects I’ve found:

1- MySpace:

THE GOOD:
-Lets you categorize both your page and your blog posts under a writing category.
-Comes with a blog that can be used for promotion or posting online writing, or both.
-Fairly easy to post links, banners, widgets and other promotional tools to your page.
-Excellent place to connect with other writers, editors, writing services, etc. Just beware of scams(that is a hazard on any social networking site).
-Easy to find new friends and contacts, and groups; their search is excellent.
-Easy to maintain, without annoyance.
THE BAD:
-Spam mail. My advice just delete it.
-Occasional glitches in the profile editor.
-They have had problems with profile hacking (although I have never had a problem)

2- Gather.com:

THE GOOD:
-Easy set up and has a nice profile page.
-Promotes publishing articles, pictures, videos, and your articles get on Google.
-Excellent network of authors, unpublished writers, and writers who are dabbling. You can give and get useful feedback and advice.
-Great place to establish a list of articles, and get a voice on the internet, or do a little shameless promotion.
-Great writing groups you can join.
THE BAD:
-sporadic glitches in the article editor, and in other features.
-occasional lack of interest in articles. My advice: Use the spotlight feature for your post.
-A limited help section.

3- Facebook:

THE GOOD:
-If you are an author you can (if fact should) create a fan page as well as your profile page. On the fan page you should post links to your books and sites, add widgets, and interact with your fans. You can also send out updates when you add to your fan page.
– Many writing groups to join, or create your own.
THE BAD:
-Annoying applications
-Not easy to find new friends, or preview profiles.
-Glitches galore
-Cannot realistically post articles or stories.

I also recommend joining Twitter, Stumble, and the bookmark site Del.icio.us.

SITES SPECIFICALLY FOR WRITERS: 

A list of websites designed to showcase authors and writers

Here is a list of good sites where writers and authors can publish profiles, samples of their work, and their books.

1- AuthorsDen :
An excellent place to put your author profile and post books; it gets you a link on Google.
Features both a free subscription and a paid upgraded subscription. The free subscription is limited, but not overly and the paid upgrade has three levels; the Bronze being quite reasonable at $40/yr.

2- WritersCafe.org: A wonderful site for writers to post their books, writing samples and their profile. They encourage feedback between their members, and it’s free to join.

3- WritersNet: It’s free to join, and you can post a profile and your books. The site also lists editors, agents, publishers and writing resources.

4- Nothing Binding: It’s free to join, and you get a personal profile page. There are also writer’s groups you can join, and media add-ons you can purchase.

5- Ebooks Cafe: It’s free to join. It allows you to post a short profile and your books to the site.

6- Self Publishers Place: A relatively new site where self published authors can post their book information. Free to use, and there is a writers discussion forum.

Review Sites 

A list of book review sites. Many list independently or small press published books, and some offer promotional or editing services.

Rebecca’s Reads
A book review and publicity service serving the reading audience, authors, publishers, publicists and buyers/sellers.
The Compulsive Reader
Reviews of books by some of the hottest writers working today, exclusive author interviews, literary news and criticism.
The Midwest Book Review
The Midwest Book Review is an organization of volunteers committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. The Midwest Book Review gives priority consideration to small press publishers, self-published authors, and academic presses.
The Muse Book Reviews
The Muse Book Reviews reviews a variety of books and accepts books from self-published authors, traditional or POD published authors.
Armchair Interviews
Features book reviews and author interviews, with helpful articles and links.
Bitten by Books
A site featuring paranormal fiction. Has reviews, interviews, contests, etc.
Welcome to Scribe & Quill ~ The site for all writers!
Writer’s resource that includes articles for writers, writing courses, book reviews and news and information for writers of all genres.
Reader Views
Book reviews of all genres. Also provide editing and publicity services, literary awards, contests and book giveaway.
New Mystery Reader Magazine
Introducing a new mystery magazine featuring information on new mystery releases. Includes mystery book reviews of new mystery releases, mystery short stories, and recommendations.
Road to Romance
Romantic and Women’s Fiction: For Readers and Writers of Romantic and Women’s Fiction Books
BookLoons
Your corner bookstore in the global village with book reviews across genres, columns and contests, and sections for teen books and children’s books.