How book reviews are like one-night stands

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So, how many of you have had that walk of shame? Come on… everyone has had a bit too much to drink at the bar and ended up leaving with someone who… well… just doesn’t do it for them once the sun comes up. It’s almost like we are vampires at times with our choices. Solve the need for now and worry about the morning in the morning.

But since we all have been there… yes, I mean you too… there are some lessons that we can learn as writer-marketers from that one-night stand and the walk of shame. So, last night, you were out with your friends, drinking, dancing and putting the moves on the hottest, most interesting members of the opposite sex. Not finding the greatest luck with them, you decided to change your tactics and shoot for a different level, while increasing the amount of drinking and dancing. The drinking helped to lower your standards and by the end of the night, after kissing a bunch of frogs, you found an eligible – that’s a better word for willing, right? – partner and left for the night. You noticed as you were walking out the door, your friends were all trying to get your attention so you didn’t leave with your chosen suitor, but what did they know. You had spent some time talking to them, some time dancing with them and now it was time to go. Continue reading

The Art of Seducing a Reader

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I was challenged one day by some of my soon to be fraternity brothers to pick up a woman in a bar one night. I was a headstrong, full of confidence nineteen year old that couldn’t lose. I had the charm to be able to smooth my way into any relationship I wanted, but my brothers knew that, so they added one condition.

“Put a bag over your head and find her,” they said to me laughing. Well, that made things a bit harder…

That night, after being liquefied at the fraternity house, we all left for the bar and found our way inside. I was allowed to take one long look around the bar before the bag was placed over my head and pushed into the crowds of drunken students. Over the course of the next few hours, I stumbled into many people, making apologies, trying to explain why I was wearing a bag in a bar, but nothing seemed to guide me towards a woman that I could even talk to much less get a phone number from.

Sadly, this is also how many authors go about marketing their books to potential readers. They are not looking for the audience that would be interested, rather they are looking for anyone who reads a book. Continue reading

Wal-Mart or Macy’s – Which One Are You?

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There is a reason that marketers get paid the big bucks – we know how to position and market your product for the highest return. There is also a reason that 99% of us hate to compete based on price – because the next guy that comes along at 10 cents cheaper is going to steal our customer. That is capitalism at its finest. It doesn’t matter if the product is better or not, if the price fits, the consumer will buy.

Why do they buy? Because you haven’t given them a reason to stay with your product, in this case your book. And therein lies the rub… Continue reading

So I Think I Need a Website, But What Do I Put on It?

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A few weeks back, we started our journey into the world of author branding and marketing. Our first couple of posts took a casual look at the how we have all become brands now, whether we like it or not, and we took our first steps into the world of author marketing with a post on why every author needs a website. If you haven’t read the previous two posts, please do take a moment to skim through them.

Before I continue our journey, I have to do a bit of shameless promotion for my newly released debut novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office. If you enjoy spy, espionage, or political thrillers, you have to read this book. If you enjoy action, adventure and military stories, you have to read this book. If you just want to have a fast-paced, interesting read… you guessed it… you have to read this book. What’s it about? Three words – Terrorism, Taliban and Pakistan. Yes, it’s shameless, but hey, it’s the marketing part of the business, and I am shameless about promoting.

There are things that you have to remember when it comes to promoting your work to potential readers – don’t annoy them to the point where they shut off to your work. What? Remember, we are all operating in the digital world now. The bookstore signings aren’t as regular as they are for the traditional publishers, nor are the chapter readings at the libraries and bookstores. 90% of our marketing is either on websites, Facebook or twitter so we have to be extremely careful about how we promote our work. This is why that pesky author website is so important. So let’s get to that question that I asked in the beginning… Continue reading

A Place to Call Home

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In my last post, But I Don’t Feel Like a Brand, I suggested.. maybe nudged the possibility, that in today’s digital world, we are all brands, whether we like it or not. This is great for us all because what used to cost thousands in advertising, we can do for little to no cost with digital mediums, but that also means that we have to have all of our ducks in a row.

Those ducks have to have a place to call home for any marketing/branding effort to succeed. Many of us have been lead to believe that as long as you have a presence on social media channels, you have a home. But that’s not really a home, is it? You are a squatter there, not paying rent, electricity or anything else. And as a result, you don’t have any control over what the landlord (Facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc.) demand. I’ll give you the simple example of Facebook’s recent policy change that requires those of us with brand page to pay so that we can get the same exposure we used to get free. The landlord has spoken and we are all suffering. Continue reading

Twitter This and Twitter That: Tips, Tricks, and Basics to Get You Off the Ground and Running

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Twitter. It’s reminds me of the Tardis. Only because it’s so little on the outside and so HUGE on the inside. And, depending on who’s managing the thing, there might be a mad doctor at the helm. Ah, Twitter. It’s like a little home away from home. 

People don’t like Twitter. “It’s too hard to say what I want under 140 characters!” They say. I say, “Oh, come on now! Are we not writers? Have we never mastered the art of using just a few words to express many?” I also say, “HAIKU, People! HAIKU!” but that’s beside the point. 

140 character limit messages or not, Twitter is a platform that, undeniably, can be more than massive effective if you use it right. Sure, it’s just another social media trap to get stuck in and not be able to pull yourself away from to finish your writing, but…wait. No. No, it isn’t, because no matter how much you want to say, you can only tweet 100 times an hour. And we all know how fast most of us can type and how much most of us, potentially, have to say. So, you can’t find yourself trapped on Twitter, even for an hour, before they shut you down and lock you up in their proverbial dungeons. So, you see, you can’t waste a whole day there. It’s part of the beauty of the site. You can tweet and still have time to write. Or even eat (possibly while you are writing). It’s a gorgeous thing. Continue reading

Social Media Marketing Terms Defined

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So, most of us have at least a vague idea of marketing. I asked my 15 year old daughter just now to tell me what marketing is. She looked at me like I’d crash landed into the Earth, riding a teacup that was manufactured on Mars, and told me she didn’t know. I asked her to tell me anyway and she said, “It’s selling stuff.” And she’s right! Marketing is the art and science of making a sale. There are literally thousands of different ways to market, but for the self-published author, the main, least expensive route, and the one you get the most punch out of, is Social Media Marketing. Which is, simply put, using the internet to get the word out on your book.

Some writers come into the world of self-publishing with certain advantages. Some of us have a background in public relations or advertising. Some of us know editors. Heck, some of us ARE editors! But many are just people who wrote a book that they’d like for others to read with no real experience in the industry. It’s confusing and overwhelming and often feels like you’re swimming with sharks. And, speaking of sharks, there are many, so you need to get your swimmer’s legs kicking as quickly as you can. I’ve heard it said that a book sells itself. What a total lie! It’s really an unreasonable idea that anybody could toss a book up on Amazon and have it immediately sell like hotcakes. Does it happen? Sure, but not usually to people who haven’t painstakingly prepared and sunk a whole lot of money into advertising. The truth is, to be read, you must be SEEN. Social Media Marketing is your ticket to visibility and you need to know where your hot spots are. And then, you almost need to burn blisters into your fingers to ensure that you’ll be noticed there.  Continue reading