Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marketing - A Learning Curve Part 4

In yesterday's post, I missed out on the excellent suggestion by Stephanie Zia in the comments from Tuesday, which has given me a brilliant idea, but you will have to wait to see/hear my version. She suggested creating twitter accounts for the characters in your book, which I think is an excellent idea especially if the character has a really strong voice or possibly not enough page space in the book to tell 'their' story... Also check out Stephanie excellent post on Self Promotion here.

Now for the final (as in we're at the end of what I have learned so far...I think there will be more as I progress through this half year until publication)....

Family and Friends

Yup, your near and dear. I know that many writers don't get the support they need or have earned from family and friends...that saddens me no end. However they, if on side, are your best marketing tool.

As a parent of teenagers I aim, even sometimes live, to embarrass my children - hell, it's one of perks of having given birth to them. Having a mother who is a writer is a blessing and a curse for them - so they tell me. They are proud and deeply embarrassed...but pride normally wins. Because it normally, well, they tell people 'my mum's a writer' and most people usually ask 'oh, what does she write...' You catch my drift. It's the old word of mouth thing. One of my son's friend is over the moon my book is coming out in May in time to solve the problem of what to give his mother for her birthday...

DD said to me not long ago...'You will mention me by name in the book...' I nodded then asked why. She said, 'Because I want to be able to show my friends that it really is you...' The more friends she shows, quite frankly the better....because I know from my experience with her- she recognizes the books of all my writer friends she has met and she points them out to me in supermarkets and book stores....if her friends do the same when out with their mothers...

DH is also a walking, he hasn't read the book yet, but only last night he said, "When can I read it?" He has been proudly telling people all over the place that his wife is a writer and her book is coming I don't think generally and I may be wrong that people at petroleum related conferences are my target market but one never knows....

Every book sold counts and DS2 has grasped this concept...he's eyeing the future - his that is...Mum's success means royalties now and he thinks royalties later when he's in charge of my estate (hey, he can dream).

Friends carry the same weight and with THE CORNISH HOUSE coming out not just in the UK, but in places like Canada, Australia, South Africa.....and then there are the translated versions in Holland and Germany....they play a huge roll in what little marketing I can do in those countries. Friends may know a journalist for the local paper...they may be in a book club...and so on.

So the heart of my marketing and friends. Quite frankly it couldn't be in better hands....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Marketing - A Learning Curve Part 3

As happened with my first post on marketing, the suggestions raised in the comments were superb. So I've put them up here before I reveal my next marketing suggestion.

Kate Lord Brown provided a key tip...remember you are promoting your BOOK not YOU, which in theory should make it easier...maybe even easier if I pretend it's a friend book....

The brilliant Sarah Duncan (all aspiring writers must read her blog) provided the following tips from her experience...
'Coverage in the national media has, for me, been the most important re sales. The publicists know all the relevant people but I think you make their job easier by:

- writing a list of pitches for possible articles you could write

- providing a list of anyone or any place where you have a connection.

- Offering to contact local papers & radio yourself - no publicist will have time do do this. All the circulations are down, but you'll still get some coverage.

- coming up with 'angles' about yourself - but don't offer any personal info that you don't want them to use.'

And Jane Rusbridge suggested joining forces with other writers to organize writers' events because it's easier when you are not on your own (so true and I could promote some else's book while they did mine...)

So now onto a marketing tip that should be done well in advance of even finishing your first book.... Volunteer. Yes, this is something you can do even before you write THE END on book one. I can hear the cries that it will take away from writing time - true but what it gives back is amazing.

I joined the RNA in 2005. I attended the conferences, parties and made friends. I listened and watched. But things really took off for me when I volunteered to 'own' the RNA blog and shortly thereafter I pushed the RNA into twitter with RNAtweets. Because of my involvement with the RNA and twitter I became friends with my agent long before she was'mine'...and as they say the rest is history.

I love books so offering to help the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature was a natural thing...and the connections I have made through this will hopefully stay with me a long it was brilliant fun.

These two examples became part of my writing became part of being professional. It demonstrated that I took writing and the industry seriously. Because of the work for the RNA, I allowed myself more time to study the benefits of blogging etc. I treated it as a job. At the literary festival I learned I could stand up in front of a crowd and introduced authors (and get a close-up of how the pros do it)...and at one point last year I began a writing workshop because of a timing mix up....

So volunteering, I think is key to, shall we say, pre-marketing....

Tomorrow I have one more tip, if that's what it is....

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Marketing - A Learning Curve Part 2

Yesterday's post provided a wealth of helpful suggestions in the comments so I thought it would be a good idea to share them here, but first check out BubbleCow's post on how many copies do novels sell (sobering) and this article in The Bookseller (which makes for even more sobering reading) ...

S C Ransom advised to grab any PR your publisher provides (loved the book trailer on her web site - it gave me a few more ideas)
Martha Williams raised blog tours
Saffina Desforges mentioned the Kindleboards
Sue Guiney recommended book clubs, women's groups, readings & signing (and making sure that you work on the next book!)

So yesterday, (thanks you Saffi) I took the plunge into Amazon a bit and began work on my author page (huge gulp), but I haven't yet had the courage to dive into the Kindleboards or places like Goodreads. I will though because all of these things are necessary.

Blog tours...I do believe in them but I also think the jury is out on how affective they are...I also worry about bombarding my twitter and Facebook with ME ME ME posts because that definitely isn't I'm planing on a more drip feed approach, which may be entirely wrong as far as the all important initial sales go, but I don't want to abuse the friends I have made along this journey.

Sue hit on something about expat club and women's groups. I think this has potential mileage for me as a writer. They are both part of my life so they ring true. However when the other night at a meeting of university of alums I was confronted with the suggestion that THE CORNISH HOUSE should be there book choice for their club and I should attend - I went pale... The thought of all these wonderful woman reading my book and discussing it with me there... is the scenario of nightmares and plays to all my insecurities. Don't get me wrong. I love my book or I should say I love my characters and their story. It was important enough for me to write it not once, but however many times it took to tell the story well...but to physically be there when wonderful women are discussing it and possibly not feeling the same...gulp.

However I will do it...I need to set the story free. It will never be just mine once it's out the wide world. It will belong to each person who reads it and that of course is what I've wanted. I now need to dust off the methryl vest or whatever it was that Frodo wore in THE LORD OF THE RINGS....

Enough of that... I have detoured from the marketing stuff... I have begun spread sheets (not easy for me - totally incompetent with excel) to keep track of what I've done and what needs doing still. Right now May seems a long way off but there's Christmas in the middle which eats an awful lot of time and of course as Sue said...there is the next book....

Can you add any more marketing/PR suggestions? I have one more but I'll save it for tomorrow.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Marketing - A Learning Curve

THE CORNISH HOUSE comes out in May 2012 (gulp and squee at the same time). And you can pre-order it here on Amazon (a fact which still blows my mind)....but it does make it seem more 'real' somehow.

I am unbelievably excited. In fact so excited that I almost dance when I tell people about it. This embarrasses the children no end because according to them I tell everyone - no one is spared... from the check out person to the stranger next to me on a plane. And how can I not tell them??? This is the dream that I have wanted all my life and through hard work and persistence I have made it happen.

But now comes the hard part, or a more difficult part...I need to help these books sell. People meeting me now have a hard time believing that I am a shy person. I am. However I have learned to shove that to the back for certain situations in my life. I am also now of an age where I care a whole lot less about what people actually think of me. This helps...a lot.

I digress....I have a book to sell and I know in the current market a lot of that work will fall on my shoulders. This is début from an unknown. I am not connected to anyone famous.  I have not been on a reality tv show. I am a wife, a mother, an expat, a friend....all wonderful things - the best, unless, of course, you need to market yourself.

So while I have been writing book after book I have been watching others to learn what they have done. What seems to work and what doesn't. I am so grateful to all the writers who have shared their wisdom. So I thought I would share what I have learned so far...

1. Be excited - it's contagious...and it makes approaching people like booksellers easier (it's still like having your teeth pulled). Because I am still pinching myself, I shove aside the 'I can't say anything and draw attention to myself'...I have to or this book won't sell or won't sell as well. In the face of my enthusiasm...people smile. They are probably thinking she is mad let's humour her, but they just may remember the mad woman who danced in front of them when they see the title on a list...

2. Ask...this a hard part. Asking for help...but if you don't then there is no possibly of that review or article or window display

3. Be professional....I hear this again and again from uber successful authors and it's true. I may be dancing with excitement, but at the same time I remember that this is my job. So if the proverbial door gets slammed in my face that's just part of the job. Walk away and move onto the next... (remember all the practice of getting rejection after rejection...)

4. Think out of the box....the likelihood of getting a review in the women's magazine or papers is slim (I am hoping that it's not impossible, but I'm not holding my breath). So I have put on my thinking hat...who is my reader? Since I don't know that yet I went back to - who did I write the book for??? Well, me. I wrote the book for women like me who are living there lives struggling with all that entails. Hang with me I looked at my life. What do I do, what do i read....what do i listen to and so on. Yes, I do read the book reviews in magazine and newspapers, but I also read other things like property magazines, blogs, school newsletters.... So when trying to plan where to find places to promote - look at your life, your friends, your children, your work place and so on....could you do an article for the school newsletter? The church one? For me I might try and go back to the corporate magazine I wrote articles for in the past (expat life and travelling with children could become finding a career after being a trailing spouse...). I think you get the idea....even if the distribution of the church newsletter is 50 it's a start and its good practice for the next book...

At the moment I'm collecting blogs...blogs on Cornwall and blogs on old houses and living in them. I am also girding my loins to ask people if I can do an article or be interviewed...I keep reminding myself that if you don't ask you don't get....

On that note...have you liked my Facebook Page yet? I'm not convinced about their usefulness, but until I hear otherwise I'll keep going with it....

P.S. I'll let you know if any of this works...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

As Promised...My Notes from JoJo Moyes Talk at the September RNA Meeting

The fabulous JoJo Moyes spoke at the RNA meeting last week. Jan Jones did a wonderful post about it here. So I won’t go over the points that Jan reported so beautifully about, but tell you some of the inspiration, encouragement and tips I walked away with….(as always please forgive any mistakes as these are just how I took them down)

-       - As mentioned in Jan’s post after submission and acceptance of book 10 JoJo took it back because she ‘knew’ it wasn’t good enough and deleted 60,000 words. She knew after rereading her previous book that book ten was good but it wasn’t good enough….
-       -   It was the 4th book she wrote that got published.
-       -   Be ruthless with yourself…understand the difference between the inner critic and the gut feeling (see first point). Trust the gut feeling. Don’t ignore the little voice…it should tell that at least 70% of the book is good
-      -    Write the best book possible – a good story will out

Her tips for staying published are...
-        -  Be professional
-         - Be Nice
-         - Promote self tactfully (she mentioned social networking sites changed the fortunes of THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER)
-          -Produce good books
-         - Deliver on Time

In general when she’s writing she deletes as much as she writes. She first gets the emotion of the scene then she will craft it.

Finally she gave us her top tips for writing romance that she’s learned along the way (and she should know as she has won the Romantic Novel of the Year twice! First in 2004 for FOREIGN FRUIT and in 2011 for THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER)

1.  What is keeping them apart? There has to be tension
2.  There are fewer things to keep people apart these days…the past is easier for this
3.  She has to be madly in love with the hero
4.   Do not take the easy route…be surprising, question self all the time….

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Turning Points

Sorry for the silence recently...busy times family-wise....over at the The Heroine Addicts I have written about turning points which touches on a little bit about the things that have kept me from blogging recently.

This week I was able to attend an RNA meeting and the wonderful award winning JoJo Moyes spoke...later this week I'll type up my notes and share her words of wisdom with you - promise.