Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blogging from A to Z: OAH (On Air Hangouts)

Blogging from A to Z is a month long challenge to post every day of the month (excluding Sunday) using a different letter of alphabet. This month I'm sharing unusual book marketing tips as part of my Marketing From The Edge Series.
Before I jump into "O", I want to backtrack a second to "B: Buzzfeed". Alex Hurst commented that he had used Buzzfeed with some success to stir up interest in an anthology. She recently shared the post with me and it was such a great example, I had to share it with you guys. Alex has a catchy title, funny subtitle, great pictures and a brief but effective tie in to the book at the end. If you want to see a Buzzfeed promotional post done right, you should definitely go check out plants that will make you wish you didn't live on this planet anymore. 

And now, on to O

On Air Hangouts

Google+ is a the new kid on the social media block right now. But like the new kid who brings a new ball to the playground so the other kids will play with him, G+ is overcompensating in some spectacular ways. In fact, despite its relative newness, G+ is one of the fastest growing social media platform out there.

One of the best features of Google+ is On Air Hangouts. These video chat windows can allow for up to ten on-screen participants and a nearly unlimited amount of hidden viewers. The process is similar to Skype with fewer crashes, more features and a better interface.

The great thing about Hangouts is that they event doesn't need to be live. You can pre-record a hangout and post a link to your fans or upload to YouTube. You can also record a live show. And if that weren't enough, Hangouts now has a feature that will let you convert your hangout into a podcast so you can share it on iTunes. Did I mention all of this is completely free? Yeah, it's pretty cool.

Consider teaming up with other authors to create a regular hangout, ask a friend to interview you on air, or plan a special one-time event for your readers. No matter how you use it, a Google+ Hangout is a great way to engage your readers in a hands on way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blogging from A to Z: Newsletters

Blogging from A to Z is a month long challenge to post every day of the month (excluding Sunday) using a different letter of alphabet. This month I'm sharing unusual book marketing tips as part of my Marketing From The Edge Series.

This goes hand in hand with a mailing list. You do have a mailing list, right? If not, please stop reading this, go to MailChimp and create a mailing list widget you can add right to your website. Even if you don't know how you'll use this list yet, it's never too early to start building it.

Okay, so one of the best ways to stay in regular contact with your mailing list is through Newsletters. Unfortunately, too many writers shy away from them because they don't know what content to include. There's a whole other set of authors who send them, but are under utilizing their effectiveness.

They key to newsletter content is to keep in focused on what your readers want to see. A rundown of your writing life is one way to fill up a page, but is that really what your readers are interested in?

Here are a few ideas for regular features to include that can help improve the number of subscribers who actually read your newsletter.

Book Review
This doesn't need to be a full review if that makes you squeamish. Just add a cover photo and blurb for all the books you read last month. Or just your favorite three. Most readers will find it fascinating to learn what their favorite authors are reading. It makes you look more like a real person and allows the reader to get to know you better. Plus, it's just good karma to help promote other authors.

New genre releases
New books are released by the thousand every week. Include a list of the three releases you're most excited about that fit into the same genre you write in. You could also highlight any book to movie adaptations that you're excited to see. It benefits you to keep readers engaged in your genre, especially when you're in between book releases. Plus, more of that karma is always good.

Progress Report
Briefly let readers know where you are on different projects. Many readers are fascinated by the behind the scenes details of book publishing, but they don't need to know everything. Give a status update on your current drafts, such as 50% done with first draft of a new secret project, working through line edits on new book, etc. Keep this brief and be sure to name books by their title (with release date in parenthesis) if you know it.

Blog Highlight
Go back through all your blog articles from last month and pick the one with the most page views. Include a link to the post with a line or two introduction. You can also single out your favorite blog comment for the month. This is a great way to give a little love to a fan.

Share a look at your calendar for the upcoming month. Be sure to include links to any events you'll be attending. You can also note any guest posts or interviews you have coming up.

If you encourage fans to send you question through your blog or website, this is a great way to increase interaction. Post the question and your answer for everyone to see. This will encourage other readers to send their questions because they'll see that you do answer. You can invite readers to send their questions at the end of each answer.

It's okay to talk about yourself, but don't force this. Keep news limited to information that's actually newsworthy. This can be new book deals, special deals, foreign editions, sales records, or anything else that can highlight your books without sounding trivial.

By including regular sections that aren't always Me, Me, Me readers will be okay when you hijack the newsletter during your release month to talk all about your new book. They will be excited to learn about your new book because you've built a strong relationship.

Just because you aren't going to focus  on your books 100% of the time doesn't mean you have to hide them in your newsletter. It's perfectly okay to show your books with a buy link in the side bar or at the bottom. That way your books are still present without turning your newsletter into one big advertisement. 

If none of these ideas strike your fancy, don't be afraid to ask your readers what they want. The purpose of the newsletter is to engage your readers and increase exposure to your books. If they don't open your email, you won't accomplish either of these goals. Give your readers what they want and they'll give you fans in return.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blogging from A to Z: Magazines

Blogging from A to Z is a month long challenge to post every day of the month (excluding Sunday) using a different letter of alphabet. This month I'm sharing unusual book marketing tips as part of my Marketing From The Edge Series.

If you've ever browsed the selection of a well-stocked book store, you know that there is a magazine out there on every subject in the world. And if the magazine exists, so do its readers. You can tap into this existing market to sell your books.

First, you'll want to take a look at your book and narrow down two or three direct genres your book falls into. This covers the shelf your book would sit on in the store along with any sub-genres or ones that are closely related. Write this down.

Second, go through your book scene by scene and identify any subjects that can be realistically tied to your book. This one is a bit harder so here's an example. Your character is out camping in the desert and loses his gear. He's forced to forage for food, build a fire unassisted by modern technology and create a lean to without tools. Now, your book might be a Romance. This is just one random scene out of many. In this case survival skills can be a relational connection. Again, write these down.

Now, go into a store, library or man your computer to search for magazines that focus on your genres or your scene subjects. Gather contact info for the various editors and make a quick note if this magazine publishes book reviews.

For any that will publish a book review, send a request. Make sure you explain in your review request why you think their readers will want to know about your book. Keep in mind, these magazines don't exist to sell books for you. They are only going to publish an article if they feel it is a good match for their readers. 

If the magazine doesn't offer reviews, this is where your relational connections come into play. You can pitch these editors ideas for articles that you can easily tie into your novel. Using the example above, you can talk about how to build a structure in under an hour, what survival tools you'll want to always have in your pocket, or edible plants in the dessert. You'll open by referring briefly to your character and then write a solid article. 

And just because a magazine doesn't usually do reviews doesn't mean they won't. After the magazine has approved your pitch for an article, thank them and offer to send a copy of your book if they're interested. They may not publish a review in the magazine, but they might be more inclined to include a short promo for the book and/or to put up a review on Amazon.

With magazines, you have the ability to expose a whole new market of readers to your work
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