Today we wrap up Promo School. But before we get into all of that, I’m sure those of you who entered Natalie Dae’s blog makeover contest http://nataliedae.blogspot.com are anxious to see just who won. Well, Nat, being the sweet as pie gal she is, had a really tough time just picking one winner. You may recall she even came out in the middle of the contest and announced she was giving away two makeovers. But this morning in my email box she’d given me the name of two winners, plus an extra. In addition to that, she's giving away cover art to someone as well. So there are FOUR winners this morning.
First up, who won the blog makeovers? Congratulations Amber Skyze! You’re the winner of a blog makeover. Next! Congratulations D.L. Jackson! Another winner of Nat’s blog makeover.
And the cover art winner is…drum roll please…Tonya Callihan!
But I said there are FOUR winners, didn’t I? Sooooo…a very special HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MELISSA AIRES! In honor of your special day, you receive a blog makeover as well!
A big congratulations to all of you. I KNOW you’re going to love working with Nat. She’s an absolute doll. And she has the amazing gift of reading people. So she’ll find that special look just for you. As soon as the blog goes live, all of you will receive an email from Nat and you can each begin the process of brainstorming with her on your new blog!!!
Now onto Promo School Part III: To Pay or Not to Pay. (If you haven't read Promo School Parts I and II--here are the links: http://threewickedwriters.blogspot.com/2010/11/promo-school.html and http://threewickedwriters.blogspot.com/2010/11/promo-school-part-ii.html )
Most authors depend on free promotions to get the word out about their books. And there is certainly nothing at all wrong with that. Not at all. It’s kind of hard to invest money when your work hasn’t started making any, isn’t it? And then there is this: You can’t make money without spending money. Hmmm…reminds me of the chicken or egg thing. And when it comes to money, we almost always have to go with what’s in our wallet, don’t we?
Personally, I’d advise that you get your bearings in all of this promo before you venture out into the world of paid advertising. Dip your toes into the blogging waters and certainly join and participate on some Yahoo groups. You have to learn as much as you can before you can spend money. Makes no sense to invest dollars if you don’t know what you’re doing. As an editor, I’ve often been asked about house style. Usually writers want to know why there’s a need to learn all those punctuation rules and all those other little things that go along with writing if house style is different at each publisher and you never know what it is until you’re there. My answer has always been that in order to know where the rules CAN be broken, you must know the rules. If you have a firm understanding of writing, then you know what is truly important and what isn’t. It’s the same thing with promo in general. You’ve got to understand the nature of the beast.
Look at what other authors are doing promo-wise. Is it something that appeals to you? Take a step back and look at it as a reader. Will it turn a reader on or off? Is it something that you can put your own spin on and make it yours? Think about how much time you have to invest. You always need to leave NO stone unturned, but at the same time if you’re busting your buns at something and getting zero in return—let it go—or cut back on your efforts in that direction. What works for one author doesn’t always work for another. So I’m not suggesting you mimic other authors—just learn from them. Another thing—what works for one genre may not work for another. You have to pay attention.
Today I have a guest. Promo guru, Destiny Blaine. You can find her here: http://destinyblaine.com And here: http://www.destinyblaine.com/DestinyBlaineProductions.htm
Destiny is a full-time writer and she’s been at it for years. She is my go to person for promotion advice and myriad other things as well. When I’m looking for answers, I talk to Destiny. Lol She’s amazing. A straight shooter and a major talent. Let’s listen to what she has to say…
In today’s market, advertising is crucial. Promoting your book is, in my opinion, mandatory. If an author wants to stick around for the long haul, they should get out there and interact with readers and fellow authors. However, self-promotion alone won’t sell books to every potential reader because of the obvious reasons—not every reader will frequent blogs and Yahoo loops. That said, I’m sold on the power of self-promotion. However, the following old adage rings true in book sales—in order to make money, you have to spend money. If you want to sell your book, you should advertise in various places, online and off. It’s equally important to look for the most cost effective places to advertise. Tess asked if I had any thoughts on how much an author should spend on advertising. At one point, we were spending all over the board, no thanks to my method of keeping books—which more or less meant if I saw money in the business account I spent it until I hit the 20% cap—but now my husband manages our business office and he’s more structured and practical. Based on proof he’s provided, spending the 20% isn’t necessary. It’s better to spend 10% and find savvy ways to market ourselves in untapped markets.
Our goal is to spend 10% of our gross income in advertising. However, we aren’t obligated or committed to spending every dollar in online advertising and won’t necessarily allocate a certain amount to review sites or online magazines. With several pen names, it makes sense for us to try various forms of media, online and off, and try a little bit of everything so we can see for ourselves what works. We shop rates and ask for deals, particularly if we’re a regular advertising customer. If I could send out one piece of advice, it’s this—don’t follow the crowd. Find your own unique place to advertise and whatever you do, don’t pay outrageous prices for print advertisement. Ask for package rates and discounts. The market is tight right now. Those selling print ads know this and if they’re smart, they’ll cut some slack. If they don’t, find a way to co-op. Don’t just ask your publishers, approach other authors.
New authors won’t always have 10% to spend on advertising. I’d love to tell them to spend it anyway. In my experience, the more you advertise, the more return you’ll see if you’re targeting correctly. By that I mean, it wouldn’t make sense for someone to advertise a ménage romance in an inspirational magazine. As authors, I think it’s important to know what market we’re targeting and to spend what we can afford. However, that said, if an author wants to make an impact, he or she needs to set their sights on at least 10%. It’s working for us.
Authors often ask me about advertising suggestions. Some recommendations are listed below. I’ve also heard a lot of questions flying around about publisher obligation. Very often if an author writes and asks for publisher recommendations, they’ll ask which publisher advertises and promotes their authors fairly and most effectively.
I’ve given this a lot of thought and finally came up with one answer—none of them. Why? It’s simple really. A publisher can’t advertise an author as effectively as that author can advertise and market his or her own books. That said, there are some publishers who do advertise and they advertise a lot, but even if an author is the best selling darling of the company, that publisher will never be able to advertise that particular author as well as he or she can promote and advertise his or her own work.
Some of you may disagree but here’s why I’ve formed my opinions. As far as I know, no one advertised my erotic romance books for me in 2010. If I’m wrong, please forgive me, but I haven’t seen an ad that I didn’t pay for this past year. That said, that’s probably a good thing. I’m in control of my own ads and that allows me to choose who my name is affiliated with and where my books are advertised. Honestly, there are some books out there that I wouldn’t want placed with my titles in an ad campaign. I could help them and they could ruin me, or vice versa. I stress the vice-versa because let’s face it—my books won’t appeal to everyone and not every book matched with my novels or novellas will appeal to my readers.
There’s a strategy to marketing and advertising and on this end, we like to be in control of what we do and then work a plan that benefits the books we hope to sell. If you’re an author, you need a marketing plan and it’s probably a good idea to develop a strategy for working your plan.
There are various ‘secrets’ to advertising and marketing. It would take me all week to cover the high points. However, if you start with some of the suggestions below, the effort you make will pay off.
Top Five Advertising Tips:
1. Rotate your ads. Don’t run the same campaigns at the same place over and over again.
2. Look for cheap offline advertisement in penny saver magazines, print magazines, and newspapers. Co-op with your fellow authors.
3. Support/sponsor an adult team. A lot of towns have recreational sports teams and they need sponsors to offset the cost of T-shirts and equipment. T-shirts are costly, at times, but depending on the team you sponsor, you may get a lot of bang for your buck. If you're a YA author, this can be very effective. Support/sponsor a T-ball team. Get your name on the back of their shirts.
4. Lead, don’t follow. Go first. Don’t tell everyone you know where you’re advertising, just get out there and advertise. Then, after you see some success, you can share your knowledge with all your friends. Then, go somewhere else and be first again. Shake things up. Dare to be different. Use your imagination.
5. Want to know what really works? Car signs. Magnetic signs are a GREAT form of advertising. I’m talking about those large magnetic banner ads placed on a car door. These work for real estate agents, product sales, and services. This form of advertising can work for you too.
Finally, this past year, I advertised Destiny Blaine and Natalie Acres, another one of my pen names, at the following locations. Check them out when you’re ready to advertise:
The Romance Studio—http://theromancestudio.com/blue
Two Lips Reviews— http://www.twolipsreviews.com
Love Romances and More –http://loveromancesandmore.blogspot.com
Affaire de Coeur Magazine—http://www.affairedecoeur.com
Romance Times Magazine—http://www.rtbookreviews.com/rt-daily-blog
Night Owl Romance—http://nightowlromance.com/nor
Millennium Promotion— http://millenniumpromotion.com
Romance Reviews Today—http://www.romrevtoday.com
Coffee Time Romance—http://coffeetimeromance.com
Romance Junkies— http://www.romancejunkies.com
Destiny Blaine is a bestselling author in various genres. Her non-fiction books have won several nominations and awards, securing the #1 spot on Amazon in various career-oriented categories for several years. Writing as Natalie Acres, her books earned #1 spots in the western and erotica categories for several titles. Destiny Blaine’s latest ménage western romance title, Breakfast by the Sea, releases from Siren Publishing on November 17th. To find out more, visit the publisher website here: http://www.bookstrand.com/breakfast-by-the-sea or stop by Destiny's blog at www.destinyblaine.blogspot.com
WOW! Destiny knows her stuff, doesn't she? So there you have it from someone who has put her money where her mouth is. If there is one piece of advice that I’d give you all right now, it’s this—go slowly. Don’t jump until you know what you’re doing. If you decide to go with paid advertising, don’t spend tons of money. If you’re an author with his/her first published book—don’t take several hundred dollars out of your savings account and buy ad space everywhere. I’ve known quite a few authors who’ve made that mistake. Quite a few authors who’ve had all kinds of promotional items made for giveaway, spending several hundred dollars to do it—and they spent that money on one book—stamping those promo items with just that one title. So a little tip, spend twenty to fifty bucks out your first time with advertising. And if you buy promo items—key chains, magnets, book marks, etc—make sure those items sell YOU, not one particular book title. Let YOUR brand, YOUR name be the focus of that promo item. Make sure YOUR website info is on that promo item and NOT just a title for a single book.
Like Destiny said, there is so much more that could go into all of this. Little things that you’ll learn as you go. Too much to continue with here on the blog. But don’t despair, lol, I’ve got a personal blog—http:tessmackall.blogspot.com—and I’ve decided that it would be nice to post promo and writing tips once or twice a week. I need to blog about something, don’t I? LOL And I love sharing what I’ve learned. So, if you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook, Good Reads, or MySpace, friend me and you’ll be notified of when I post these tips. OR, simply go to my blog and FOLLOW ME. I’ll continue to gather expert advice and dole out some of my own too.
Next week I have one more item that might be of interest to all of you. I’m interviewing several honest-to-god readers. I’ll be asking them a lot of questions in general, but some specifically geared to their reactions as to how authors promote their work as well. It could make for some interesting insights. So, stop back by Three Wicked Writers Plus Two on Monday—and every day. There’s always something going on here for sure! http://tessmackall.com
I'm going to leave you with the blurb for Destiny Blaine's upcoming release--Breakfast By The Sea--available November 17th from Siren Publishing. http://www.bookstrand.com/breakfast-by-the-sea
This new release is offered at a 15% discount for four weeks.
[Menage Amour: Erotic Cowboy Menage Romanctic Suspense, M/F/M/M/M/M, M/F/M]
A beautiful woman with a checkered past runs a legitimate bed and breakfast on Jekyll Island. Several young men posing as cowboys move in Breakfast by the Sea and things become chaotic right from the start when the oceanfront B&B turns into a command center for a very determined group of special Super-Op Forces.
Pursuing a man known as the King of Hearts, five tough operatives fall fast for a woman they’re supposed to eliminate. When the team discovers Paige Lambert is in fact the Queen of Hearts, they can’t ignore their handler’s orders. Is the bed and breakfast owner destined to die for her past crimes or will she end up under the protective custody of the men hired to kill her?
A Siren Erotic Romance
ENJOY! I know I will!!!!