Monday, November 8, 2010
Promo School Part II
Last Monday we discussed promotions in so far as branding is concerned. http://threewickedwriters.blogspot.com/2010/11/promo-school.html
Today we’re going to be more specific with regard to what venues are available to you the author for promotional purposes and touch on pen names and what a website should have on it.
Let’s get started!
Yahoo Groups: For any author who isn’t aware, Authorland—particularly Romancelandia—is home to hundreds of Yahoo groups that cater to the promotion of books/authors. Some authors own their own Yahoo group and their fans flock there to hear the latest on that author’s work. Other groups are owned by a group of authors or by review sites. These groups are good for chatting and getting to know other authors and readers alike. You can also post excerpts of your book to garner attention and or feedback. Be careful when joining a group. Make sure you read the posting rules so you’ll know which day to post on and exactly what you’re allowed to post. If you’re an erotic romance author, this can be particularly important if the group doesn’t allow for erotic books. So always carefully read the membership rules. Go to Yahoo Groups dot com to search for romance writing groups and you can always get started by joining Three Wicked Writers Plus Two. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/threewickedwriters
Now, for the bad. Yep there is always a downside, isn’t there? Yahoo groups seem to have become bogged down with authors promoting to authors. And that’s not entirely a bad thing. Networking with other authors is very important, and you’ll get to know a lot of them through the groups. Publishers also use these groups to get the word out about their company in general or special submission calls. Yahoo groups can be a wealth of information. Are there readers on groups? Some groups are better than others for having readers come out of lurkdom to comment on the excerpts you post and join in a chat with you. And I can’t really say which ones. I think sometimes it all depends on the author, day of week, or even the time of day. If you’ve ever looked at a map on a stat counter, you’ll see that the Eastern Seaboard lights up like a Christmas tree from five p.m. till about ten p.m. What about the West Coast or Midwest or South even? It’s obvious that the U.S. population is concentrated on the East Coast from Maine to Florida, and that’s where you’ll get the most hits. The South is the next biggest for hits, and then the Southern California area followed by metropolitan areas all through the middle of the country. Pay attention to time zones. I do recommend joining a few groups. Select maybe a dozen that you will chat on occasionally—no drop and run promo for sure. EVERYONE hates that. But don’t overreach. Belonging to more groups than you can honestly handle is not a good thing. Been there, done that.
And keep checking comments here on the blog because author and marketing guru, Kayelle Allen, is planning to drop by and take part in the discussion. http://KayelleAllen.com/Books.html Kayelle doesn’t believe Yahoo groups are dead—just being used in a different way. I’m looking forward to hearing what she has to say on the subject for sure.
Next up, social networking sites!
Oh God, there are so many of these now. I’m only going to mention the ones I belong to and hopefully someone else will weigh in with any others that are available. We have Facebook, MySpace, Good Reads, Twitter, and Live Journal. Personally, I never could get into Live Journal, so I’m not active there at all. Each of these sites have their own little gimmick and ways of doing things, but all are pretty much alike and involve “friending” other individuals.
To me, Facebook is becoming more and more a matter of authors promoting to other authors. Now authors buy books too—don’t get me wrong—but occasionally, I’d like to simply find a real, live, honest-to-god reader who DOES not have writing aspirations. Lol Good Reads does appear to have more of those kinds of readers. Twitter? Twitter, for me at least, is just a way to drop a link for a blog post or new release and hope someone clicks. MySpace? Now MySpace is the only social networking site that I have ever had any luck with real sales that I can trace back directly to a social networking site. And I know a couple of authors who swear by it. I’m not as active on MySpace as I used to be, and I’ve just started working with FB and trying to get into MySpace again. What it takes to deal with social networking sites in general is your time. You have to make the time and put in the effort. A writer needs to schedule when they can post to these places. Make it part of their routine. It’s work to be sure, but if you do it right…
Review Sites: A lot of review sites allow authors to join with a standard membership. Costs you nothing. That freebie gives you an author page, generally, and sometimes even the ability to post cover art. I belong to Manic Readers http://manicreaders.com and The Romance Studio http://theromancestudio.com Both of those sites also give you the option of upgrading to another membership package for a very small amount of money, thereby giving you a bit more exposure and a few more promotional opportunities—I think, not sure—that the paid membership also will get you discounts sometimes on paid advertising as well. Actually, I just made the decision a couple of days ago to upgrade to the paid memberships. Haven’t done it yet, but I will be doing just that. In the meantime, I advise everyone to poke around all the review sites possible—Fallen Angel Reviews http://fallenangelreviews.com; Two Lips Reviews http://twolipsreviews.com; Joyfully Reviewed http://joyfullyreviewed.com; Dark Diva Reviews http://ddrreviews.blogspot.com; Got Romance Reviews http://gotromancereviews.blogspot.com; Bitten By Books http://bittenbybooks.com; Love Romances and More http://loveromancesandmore.blogspot.com ; Night Owl Reviews http://nightowlreviews.com AND THERE ARE COUNTLESS MORE. I’m just naming a few.
Review sites also provide, of course, reviews, as well as author spotlights/interviews and blogging opportunities. In addition, you can pay for advertising at some of these sites, too, and we’ll get into that later—or maybe with Part III—yep this promo school is growing, lol. Another option is live chatting that some of the sites offer. Some live chats are well attended, others not. And sometimes that depends on the popularity of the author or just how well the chat has been promoted. Beware: Live chats can be fast and furious. You’ve got to be ready with your blurb and answers or you’ll miss an opportunity to talk about your book. Check with review sites to see which ones offer live chat rooms.
Now we arrive at blogging.
I’m pro-blogging for sure. I think it’s the best way to showcase your writing along with your personality and general style. To me it can produce a much more intimate relationship with readers than Yahoo groups. I hear authors say all the time that they can’t think of a thing to blog about. My head CAN’T stop producing blog topics. Lol It’s a matter of thinking of something that you’re interested in and want to share or something you want to learn about. The subject matter can range from complaints about your pets to complaints about your hubby to praise for your pets or hubby—notice I lump hubby in there with the pets? LOL Hey, men are sort of like pets, aren’t they? Okay, no rotten tomatoes today please. lol
Blog about your books, yes. Post your excerpts, yes. Your blurbs, yes. But give the reader some meat. Make your blog interesting. Capture the reader’s attention. Do this by helping them identify with you in some way. We all have a lot of the same life experiences and sharing them with others gives you a connection. Connecting with readers and other authors is exactly what promotion is all about. I think it’s important to have your own personal blog in which you hurriedly jot down things that are on your mind and at the same time not be obligated to post daily unless you can. Presently, I’m trying for three or four times a week. http://tessmackall.blogspot.com Just something short unless I’m in a mood for more. Your personal blog needs to either be a part of your website or easily linked to your website. It's good to promote other authors too. They'll return the favor when you have a book you need to promote.
Another way to blog—which I think is probably the most successful way—is to join with other authors. A set up like Three Wicked Writers Plus Two http://threewickedwriters.blogspot.com is a great way to blog. Each of us is obligated to one day a week and we set aside Saturdays for guest bloggers. It takes very little time for each of us to promote one another’s posts too. Every time a member of my blog team puts up a post, I click on the SHARE link on the right hand sidebar—a very handy tool and takes so little time to do—and post the permalink for their post to Face Book and then Twitter. Some days, if I have more time, I’ll also share the link with a dozen or more Yahoo Groups. But promoting your posts is very very important. You can’t write a post and expect people to just flock to your blog. Won’t happen.
So am I telling you that you MUST HAVE two blogs? No. That’s just the way I do it, and the way I’ve seen a lot of authors do it as well. A great many of us belong to blogging teams in addition to having a place for our own personal ramblings. It's a matter of what works for you and what your expectations are. What you're shooting for in so far as name recognition and ultimately--hopefully--sales.
Catchy blog titles that grab attention help quite a bit. If the title of your post is boring then chances are no one is going to bother with it. Be inventive. Also, unless you’re blogging about something that is very serious in nature—a hot button of yours or something related to industry news—humor goes a long way to attracting and keeping blog followers. What’s life without laughter? Keep it entertaining.
Being very organized in how your blog works is a great thing too. Each of us at 3WW Plus Two have our own particular day to post. We also have our own avatar with the same styling as the blog header—more branding. We use that avatar with all our posts and that tells readers just who is blogging that particular day. Posting book covers or pics to go along with the subject matter of the post is a good thing as well. Whether it’s your own personal blog or a blog team, you want your site to be attractive to readers.
Very IMPORTANT: It’s not enough that YOU blog and promote that blog, but you also need to read other blogs and make comments as well. Networking is what it’s all about. And don’t forget to make sure your blogging profile is complete—giving a bit of info about yourself, your website link, an avatar pic if at all possible—and make that profile public. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve really liked someone’s comment on a blog and wanted to know more about them, but their profile was either unavailable publicly or simply didn’t exist. Now if you’re a reader, it’s not important to have a public profile, of course, but an author really should. You never know when someone wants to know more about you. And when someone comments to your blog? Make sure you reply to them. I see way too many blogs with comments that simply go forgotten.
Okay, we’ve covered Yahoo groups, social networking sites, review sites, and blogging. There is much more that could be said about all of these venues and hopefully that will come up for discussion within comments.
What about book videos or trailers? Some authors have more success with those than others. I like book trailers and want more. Unfortunately, I’m techno-stupid and can’t make my own. Lol But I know people who can and I’ll be purchasing more for my books. Presently, I have one that I absolutely love. It was created by Lex Valentine at Winterheart Design http://winterheart.com and it’s for my book, Latin Rhythm, from Pink Petal Books. http://pinkpetalbooks.com
Here it is (yep, shameless promo going on here, lol):
Contests! Yep, contests are a good way to garner attention. Running a contest from a blog focuses attention on your blog too. You don’t have to give away anything expensive either. Five-dollar gift certificates are great. Heck, you can buy a g/c at any online bookstore, and then email it directly to the winner—no postage necessary. Authors also give away copies of their e books. I stopped doing that due to my concerns with piracy—but to each his own. Giving away print copies is another way to introduce readers to your work as well. Small trinkets valued at ten bucks or less—homemade items—candles, lotions, cute holiday items—nothing too expensive—OR you CAN do something very expensive too. I’ve seen authors give away everything from five-dollar gift cards to expensive perfumes and even e readers. So it’s all up to you and YOUR budget.
It’s also worth mentioning that review sites usually have scavenger hunts or other types of giveaways in which you can donate a prize and be a part of a bigger contest pool. Some authors get together and do this same type of thing. So be on the lookout for opportunities that fit your promotional style and budget. You can also get in on a basket that’s shipping out to different writer/reader conferences. And what about those conferences? I’m not the best one to explore that particular promotional opportunity. But if no one weighs in on the advantages and disadvantages of attending conventions, I’ll certainly track down a couple of authors and get the scoop from them and report back.
Okay, I’ve touched base on quite a bit here now, and this blog is getting longer and longer, lol. So I think I’m going to leave some advice for the comment section and see what other opportunities authors can share.
Last Thursday, Anne Rainey posted a blog here that hosted several industry insiders with a bit of advice on writing and publishing in general. Writing Advice From A Publisher, An Agent, Two Editors & Several Terrifc Authors http://threewickedwriters.blogspot.com/2010/11/writing-advice-from-publisher-agent-two.html It’s a great post and you can pick up a few tips for sure. Also, Editor-In-Chief, Kelli Collins, of Ellora’s Cave , had a great post the other day all about websites. Nothing but Net http://redlinesanddeadlines.blogspot.com/2010/11/nothing-but-net.html
What SHOULD you include in your website design? An easy-click navigational bar with everything clearly marked to start with. You’ll want a “bookshelf” where all your books are listed, a “coming soon” page to begin promoting future work, an “about” section which is your author bio, definitely a blog on that site or one that links from that site easily, and a contact page so that anyone who’d like to can get in touch can. I’ve always heard that music on a website is a big no no. And I concur with that. Taste in music definitely varies and what one person likes may just turn another off. Not to mention what happens if you click on a site and your volume happens to be turned all the way up and BAM!—the music makes you jump right out of your chair. Also, make sure your website is tastefully done. We erotic writers tend to go for sexier looks—but make sure the look is sexy rather than vulgar. Anymore website advice? C’mon, speak up.
Last but not least—pen names. Now I’m not going to put down any one pen name here, but I’ve seen some doozies for sure. Stripper names bug the hell out of me—Licky Lou, Debbie Dallas. Or names that sound like nature is calling—Laurel Pinewood, Starry Skye. And I just made up those names—never saw them before tagged to an actual author. But I think you know what I’m getting at. Sure, you want your name to stand out in the pack, but HOW do you want your name to stand out? Do you want people to click on your name simply because it made them laugh or go “HUH?” or do you want them to see your name and think: “damn fine author—serious author”? Personally, I think simple names work best. Names that are hard to pronounce or that are really long can be a turn off. Now that’s not to say that some don’t work. They do. This is my opinion only. I've actually seen some unusual pen names that stand out to me and don't turn me off. Please, everyone weigh in with your own thoughts for pen names. I CAN tell you this, though—if you’re deciding on a pen name—go with A,B,or C names. LOL Why? You’ll be closer to the top of any alphabetized list on publisher and review sites. Lol My own name consists of just three syllables. Easy to pronounce, easier to remember too. And I think that’s a good thing even though I’m usually listed near the end of the pack on any lists that alphabetize by first names—and a lot do—or middle of the pack where lists are by last names.
Okay, that’s it for me today. WOW…this is a lot to absorb, isn’t it? And what I have said is NOT the end all of promotions. This is just a start. And I certainly don’t know everything there is to know either. So feel free to jump on and post what you know or post questions. And yes, I’ve decided to do a third post. So what’s coming up? Paid advertising. And anything else I may have missed that might need a mention too—basically a wrap up. Thanks for stopping by. http://tessmackall.com