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

37 comments:

Regina Carlysle said...

Great post, Tess. I couldn't agree with you more about every bit of this. Getting started with this stuff, myself, I took baby steps because honestly, I was so unsure of myself. I began with the website and then gradually began to join various loops. On joining loops, a good place to learn is by joining your publishers loop. They all have one and it's a good way to learn how to post things and gets you started painlessly on meeting and networking with other authors. From there you can branch out by joining others that seem interesting.

IMO it's all about networking. Some ideas will work for you and some won't. Simply disgard those that take up too much time for little results.

One more thing that I think is very important. When you are brand new with no name recognition, lots of promo is a must but you'll find as you go along developing a reader base and a hefty backlist, you can be more selective about your promo. It's hard not to be a tad overwhelmed in the beginning but, I promise, things have a way of evening out. These days when I have a new release, I post around to my top loops, blog (and other others will post my release too) and then do FB and twitter. That's about it.

Tess MacKall said...

Good tip on publisher groups, Regina. I forgot to put that one in. But that's where I started with yahoo groups too. And it CAN be overwhelming at first. Your tendency is to do everything because you're afraid you won't be doing it right otherwise. But it's a matter of finding what works for you--AND what seems to give you the most bang for all that time and effort you put into it.

Natalie Dae said...

I agree that it can be time consuming. Last week I didn't write a thing. I devoted the whole time to blogging and promotion. By the weekend, I wanted to write so badly I could have cried. But I enjoyed the "break" while blog hopping, so decided I'd take time out to do that more often. The problem for me is, blogging is one of those shiny things that draws me... So yes, finding what suits you is best, and learning to manage your time and say, "Right! That's my blog hops done for today!" is a must, otherwise you'll be promoting all the time, with no books to promote!

:o)

Tess MacKall said...

Yesssss...SHINY OBJECT SYNDROME. lol

I can sometimes get so caught up in blog discussions that I forget I need to be writing. lol

And Nat? You're a great blogger.

For those of you who'd like to stop in at another blogger that Nat and I are a part of, visit:

http://fourstrongwomen.blogspot.com

Nat blogs as her alter-ego Sarah Masters--author of M/M erotic romance. This blog is an older one that we decided to revamp and ramp up the posting. Nat--errr--Sarah, is too funny for words.

Today it's my turn to post over there and I'm still working on it. lol Blogging is time consuming and I try to do it right but at the same time, try to concentrate on just a couple of days a week.

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

great tips

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks Abigail. Stop back by this afternoon. I'm sure some commenters will have great things to say on what works and what doesn't work.

Desmond Haas said...

Definitely information to bookmark and digest a few times. Wonderful compilation of material for all writers.

I enjoyed the trailer, but have a question as to the use of Carlos Santana's Smooth... It's my understanding that to use commercial music, you would have to pay for its use, otherwise it's a copyright violation. For all of us noobies, can you tell us how to address this?

Dee Dawning said...

Good Job Tess, Of course most of it I already know and some we've even discussed, but it doesn't hurt to see it written down. I am wondering how to go about promoting my soon to be released, quasi-erotic, quasi-mainstream novel, The Bastard Preacher. It's not really romance. It's more like the bastardization of romance. If you or anyone else has any ideas, I'd like to hear them.

Thanks Dee

BTW, did you remember MS today?

Tess MacKall said...

Okay, knew that question would come up. lol And I'm not the authority on it. But as it was explained to me by the designer--when you upload a video to You Tube, the site will let you know if there is a copyright violation.

Now, the deal seems to be that some record companies will allow you to use snippets of their music while others will not. Like a minute or less-not sure, can't remember what she said now--but there IS a limit. So you get that warning if it's not allowed. You Tube will apparently take down the entire video. And I can't remember which company it is that allows for more of that type thing than others. But that's what I was told. And the designer, Lex Valentine, has made lots of book videos for lots of authors. Hope this helps clear this up some, Desmond.

Tess MacKall said...

Holy crap, my calendar is whacked at the moment and I DIDN'T remember MSA. lol So that makes four blogs today. I'm dancing as fast as I can. So I'll definitely shoot over and post.

About your non-romance book? Why don't you do a search for that particular genre within Yahoo groups. Or just google it in general. You might turn up something, Dee.

Molly Daniels said...

I belong to thirty groups, but only post on about a dozen. I actively chat on five or six, though.

And another bit of advice: Don't go 'no mail' while you're doing edits or working on next book. I came back afterward and discovered all my 'friends' were gone! I had to rebuild the friendships in order to promote my newest book.

Tess MacKall said...

Oh, Molly, that was horrible. Going NO MAIL is not a good thing. It's always best to set to digest. Actually, unless you get special permission for some reason--most group owners will ask you to keep your settings to individual, special notice, or digest.

Great tip, Molly. Thanks for mentioning that for sure.

Molly Daniels said...

One of the 'growing pains' of a new author:) I wanted no distractions during my first editing...but it cost me. Now I just pop in occassionally with edit moans:)

Tess MacKall said...

Editing moans and groans are a great way to network with other authors. It's that connection I was talking about. Good way to make friends, really. And friends help friends. You made your bones as they say, Molly and got yourself on track for sure.

C. Zampa said...

Great advice, Tess!
I've nothing to promote yet but myself, but I'm taking notes on all the necessary avenues when the time comes.

Thanks.

Tess MacKall said...

Good deal, CZ. Just knowing some of the avenues open to you is a good start. You'll get the hang of it. No doubt about it.

Brindle Chase said...

Wow! Seriously wow! That's a lot of great information. Thank you!!!

I totally connected with the bit about Yahoo groups. All the ones my publishers have steered me too, are authors advertising to other authors. They don't seem to generate much in the way of sales or gaining readers. They are great for networking though.

One of the thing I've noticed that kills reader interest in the yahoo groups is the amount of spam in these publisher groups. There are some authors who post 50 times a day and bury the meat and potatoes that MIGHT interest a reader. They aren't willing to sift through the myriad and plethora of chatter though. They want a book, something to read. Not 5000 comments from one author, with 2 books, who is in love with themselves. (not picking on anyone in particular)

Anywho.. so I noticed this as well and use them for networking with other authors, but generally ignore them as a promotional tool. Either or, I don't have time to compete with authors who have all day to post and post and post. Wish I did, but I wouldn't spend that time on yahoo groups. I've far better results from chatting directly with readers. Only spouting my books if they ask, rather than bombarding them with posts. Anywho...

Brindle Chase
www.forlorn-hope.net

anny cook said...

Hmmm. Loops...I have ONE where I have ONE monthly chat that I invite all my friends to. Authors (regardless of pub) are invited to post an excerpt. We chat. Some people have contests at the chat. I usually pick two or three specific books to promo at that month's chat. That's it for promo that way.

I blog 28 out of 30 days. My blog is generally about stuff going on around me. Interesting...get a lot of hits, but not necessarily lots of comments.

Facebook. Rarely discuss anything to do with writing. DID mention when my book was released and then went on to other things. I think readers want to know the author. That's one way to get to know them.

And comment, comment, comment on other blogs.

R. Paul said...

Tess, thank you for this and last week's primer of excellent advice about promo. I have already taken your branding advice to heart, chosen a single iconic image to use on my website, on social networks, etc...and I plan to stick to it.

One thing that has been important to me in networking and promo is, perhaps paradoxically, not becoming too self-focused. I make time every week to promote other people in my writing, artistic and publishing circles. I know you do this too...and so do many others. By helping all in our community to succeed, we help ourselves too. Our networks expand, and we can help one another at key times in our careers. It is very satisfying to be part of a "family" of creators, and there are practical benefits as well -- our own readership can grow when we support someone whose work we admire, and their own readers notice. So I go on Amazon and other sites and leave reviews of books I have recently read and enjoyed, and I share links on FB and other social networks. When I blog, I mention other creators whose work I enjoy, or that I have learned from. My mentors and proteges, as well as my peers, all appear in my comments on blogs and in other venues. There can never be too much shared good will and mutual support.

I like your website advice too. Since I manage my own site, I can be creative with its visual structure, but the key is to make it easy and attractive to navigate, and as you say, make it classy. People like to browse more if they don't feel that they have to change the screen if anyone else walks in the room.

Many thanks, Tess! You have given me much to consider, and a wealth of great tools to use for promotion, present and future.

Tess MacKall said...

I agree, Brindle. There are a lot of promo queens and kings out there. And they are focused on nothing but themselves. Drop and run promo is a biggie too. If you drop promo, you need to check and see if anyone is interested in it. I do believe that when you chat on a group you should try to be engaging where readers are concerned. I think a lot of times readers may be turned off by the camaraderie type of banter that goes on between authors too. I know I'm guilty of that. But it's easy to talk to someone you know. So it's difficult to know exactly what to do sometimes.

Keep connecting with those readers, Brindle.

Tess MacKall said...

I so agree, Anny. Very important that you comment to other blogs. You can't stay in your own little world and wait for readers to find you. You have to go out and show yourself.

Tess MacKall said...

Thank YOU, Paul, for the wonderful discussion this weekend on enlightenment through erotica. Definitely one of our better blog posts here at Three Wicked Writers.

I'm glad you liked all of the info provided. I know I've forgotten right much, but the little things seem to fall into place once you get the biggies out of the way. At least I hope so. lol

And you're right on target with sharing in promo. When you promote a fellow author you promote yourself.

Madison Scott said...

Great post, Tess. Thanks for the awesome tips.

Regina Carlysle said...

I really thinking if an author goes ANYWHERE publicly with a 'look at me' attitude, she/he sells her/himself short. It's so important for readers to get to know YOU as a person. Be warm, be friendly. Yes, you can mention your books but a hard sell? Nope. I wouldn't do it. Casually posting a blurb and excerpt on occasion is just fine but don't overdo it. Make it a matter-of-fact thing. If good comments come from it, fine. I've never had a minute's use for a bragger and believe me their is a fine line between promotion and bragging. Just be careful to be modest and humble about things.

Regina Carlysle said...

Ooops. Please overlook my grammar and spelling errors in the above comment. It has been Monday all damn day for me! LOL. Glad I'm among friends! Whew.

Kayelle Allen said...

Tess,
I spent the day writing instead of being online, so I'm here late in the day.

You called me a guru! My head is too big for my hat now, but it was fun to see the words. ^_^ There is not a lot to say that you haven't already covered thoroughly, so I'll just mention Yahoo Groups. I'll be referring to them as loops or groups interchangeably.

The make up of these groups has changed dramatically over the last two years. Since Facebook and Twitter became so popular, the loops have lost a lot of appeal. I noticed recently that FB is coming up with groups, and I wanted to shout "Oh no!" Like we all needed one more thing to manage. How that affects groups in the future is unsure.

Recently, Yahoo thought it would change the entire structure of their loops and set it up to work in an entirely different manner. Apparently the uproar over this toppled the house, because in less than a month Yahoo had given everyone the opportunity to revert to the old format and go with the new, and announced it would offer that from now on. Not everyone uses their groups to do the same things, and it wasn't useful to have everything set up the same way. So the good news was that Yahoo was listening, at some point, anyway.

Originally, groups were the way readers got to know authors. It's changed in the sense that we are reaching a different audience. There are some people who like Yahoo and aren't interested in going on Facebook. Those readers will still be there. Another group are people who have been on loops for years and have built relationships with other members as well as group owners and authors. The group is their network and they aren't likely to leave it completely behind even if they add a new one. There are also new people trying groups. I have new members every week.

I was looking at the amount of message traffic on my personal group, which is open to other authors. Romance Lives Forever began in 2004. The first year there were 80 plus messages. So far this year there have been more than 8400. It began with about ten friends and critique partners, and now has over 1100 members. One reason for its success has been hands-on involvement, two excellent moderators, and many author friends who come over and chat. It's always busy on our group.

I held a chat this week at another group and offered a free read to everyone who wrote and requested it. One person asked at the end of the chat, and my first reaction was that no readers were out there. By the next morning, however, I had a dozen requests in my inbox. Two were from other writers, and the rest were readers. Yes, they are out there. Some are on digest and others take time to get through all their emails.

So are groups dead? No. They are changing, growing, open to those who use them in creative ways and who use them as a network. I tell people about my group often, and do things like offer new author days (like this Wed, 11/10). I try to help other authors get started. If it hadn't been for more experienced authors who mentored me, I would have died on the vine years ago. *_* I try to pass along the same kind of help. Using a Yahoo Group to do that is one of the best ways I've found.

Kayelle Allen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Bradley said...

These are some really great ideas. I have my own blog, Melissa's Imaginarium, where I try to spotlight authors and talk about the things that interest me as well as my work. I also have a Facebook page and a My Space page. I need to find ways to drive more traffic to these sites, though.

I'm definitely going to have to utilize the yahoo groups differently. I post when my group has a chat or when one of my fellow authors invites me to their chat, but I have yet to really chat on there. I get a little intimidated by the small talk between some of the readers and have trouble following threads so I don't really go on there.

I hear you, Tess, on choosing a name. I kept my own name because it's simple.

Tess MacKall said...

Thanks for stopping by, Madison.

Tess MacKall said...

I agree with you, Regina. Promoting should not be so "in your face". Some of it you just can't help. And a little shameless promotion should be expected. But when an author can't even talk to anyone without plugging a book? Well, that's just plain annoying and definitely overkill.

Tess MacKall said...

Don't worry about grammar and typos, Reg. We knew what you meant. Heck, some days I can't read what I type. lol My commenting comes with a lot of typos these days.

Tess MacKall said...

Kayelle,

So glad you're here!

FB and groups? I so agree. I don't need another thing to do. Not sure I can handle anything else.

I've had the same experience with contests that you have. I post like crazy to a group chat--get absolutely no feedback--run a contest and BAM--the next morning I have several entries--and not from authors. Lots of readers ARE on digest and receive messages late.

So readers are there, it's just hard to get them to come out and chat. We all have busy lives. I do have more success with social networking sites in getting readers to talk to me, though. They use those venues just like us and I imagine their "real time" goes into those venues.

I'll be posting about paid advertising next Monday. I do hope you'll stop in and give up some advice on what you think works and what doesn't.

Thanks for weighing in on promo with us.

Tess MacKall said...

Hi Melissa, I've visited your blog--pretty cool.

That small talk on groups are nothing more than ice-breakers--do your best to join in. Believe me, it gets easier as you go along.

You have a good pen name--real or made up. I like it. It's a serious name for a serious writer. I didn't really want my real name out there. Not because I'm worried about losing friends and gaining enemies over what I write. Wasn't really worrying about my kids getting ribbed about it either. But I like my privacy. So I chose to go with a pen name.

Janice said...

Hi Tess,

Great post. A lot of infromation here. I just redid my website and have a link to my blog with matching headers, so my brand is front and center on both.

I love blogging too and have had my main blog for over six years. I to to post at least three times a week and have a few regulars who stop by too. Which is really nice having blogging buddies.

I also have both my blog and my website linked to my facebook, twitrer and myspace so what I post get reposted on the other sites.

Janice~

Tess MacKall said...

Good for you, Janice. Looks like you are well grounded in branding yourself as an author and have the right idea about blogging.

I'll have to stop by your blog and check out your design. I love to see what authors come up with. I always get so jealous when I see all the beautiful sites. But, sighhh, lol, I can only have one website.

Avril said...

Thank you so much for this post. It comes at the right time as I'm just beginning to promote my work. I've already bookmarked this and will be coming back for more.
Thanks, Tess

Anne Rainey said...

Thanks for the great info. Tess!