Before I start with today’s topic, I want to remind everyone to exercise their right as a citizen tomorrow and go out and vote. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit—even if you straddle it—it’s important your voice is heard. So please, VOTE.
Now, on with the show…errrr blog!
A day doesn’t pass that I don’t see someone ask a question on a group about promo. New authors who have no clue as to where to start, other authors looking for an opportunity that actually works. Lots of authors usually jump on and give the best advice they can—usually what works for them or what hasn’t worked for them.
But I was thinking that the information is always so scattered that it might be nice to try and nail down the bulk of what an author can do. So today we’re going back to school—PROMO SCHOOL. I’ll post part one today and next Monday part two. There’s so much to talk about with promotions that it really does deserve more than one post.
I hope that everyone who reads will comment about their own personal favorite ways to promote—what they have found to be most effective for them, and please remember that my brain has the tendency to short circuit from time to time, lol, so I’m sure there are things I’m going to forget to mention. So anyone with any ideas for promo should just jump on and shout them out. I’ll do my very best to integrate what everyone says in my post next week.
Let’s get started. But before we get into the specifics, let me ask you this: What exactly are you promoting? “That’s just an odd question, Tess. Are you short circuiting already? We’re promoting our books!”
No, I’m not short circuiting quite yet—give me time—I’ll get to that, lol. And yes, you’re promoting your books but actually NOT. You’re promoting YOU the author. That’s your main product. Book titles come and go, but the author name remains the same. Promoting your books is a way to promote YOU. And you don’t always have to show off a book cover, a blurb, or excerpt to promote yourself either. It’s a matter of getting YOUR name out there.
There have been studies done that say name recognition happens at a certain mark. Some studies say that an individual must see your name ten times before they will develop a certain amount of recognition. Other studies have it at fifteen and upwards of twenty-five times. Personally, I think it’s much higher—a big whopping fifty times. I used to work for a few politicians, and I know what name recognition is all about. Politicians thrive on it.
Basically, what we’re talking about here is branding. It’s the same thing that was done with the Gecko lizard, Colonel Sanders, and little Miss Wendy with her red pigtails. You see the logos for these companies or hear the names I just mentioned and you automatically think Quaker Oats, KFC, and Wendy’s. And you’ve got to do the same thing for yourself.
So where do you start? Well, in all likelihood, you’re going to end up on Yahoo groups chatting and posting excerpts of your books. And you’ll end up on social networking sites too. You’ll need a visible presence as many places as possible. You can’t be shy about promoting. The first thing I recommend is that you have a website or blog acct—a home for you. Lots of places offer free hosting services—Wordpress and Blogger are both free. And it really doesn’t cost all that much to buy a domain name, just a few bucks and you’re a dot com. Blogger and Wordpress are both easy to operate. If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.
But how does all of this relate to branding? The design of your website or blog should reflect who you are and what you write. Natalie Dae just redid my website. http://tessmackall.com which is a Wordpress site, and then she added a Blogger type blog for me because I love the functionality of Blogger. It was truly made for blogging. (Even with Blogger, though, you can buy a domain name and become a dot com.) http://tessmackall.blogspot.com So I basically have two sites that are linked together.
The design of my site is sort of retro, fun, and sassy. The colors are light and welcoming—at least I think so. The lady on the site is what I now use as my avatar on social networking sites. I also have a banner to match the site that I use in emails and any other place I can find.
I’d had the same avatar for three long years, but I decided I needed a new look. So you’ll be seeing my Tess Lady all over the place now. She is what readers will identify me with. Every time they see that avatar or banner, they should associate them with Tess MacKall—or I hope so—that is if I do the rest of my job correctly. One thing worth mentioning is that changing your avatars or banners often is not a good thing. I hadn’t really promoted in a while and decided I could afford the change. And now that I’m cranking up for promo again with new releases coming soon, I felt like this was the right time for me to give Tess MacKall a makeover. And Natalie Dae did a fantastic job of it too. Love her design. But you won't see me changing my avatar or design again--maybe not for years--or not even then if it's working. We'll see.
Why isn’t it good to change your avatars and banners often? You’re starting from scratch with recognition that’s why. I see authors using book covers as their avatars and banners are made for each and every new book. And that may work to a degree, but seeing the same thing over and over again works a heck of a lot better. Readers will learn to just see a flash of that avatar or banner—maybe only the colors—and immediately identify it with YOUR author name.
So what have we discussed so far today? That an author needs a website of some sort. Develop a site that reflects who you are and what you write. Make it YOUR home. That an author needs to think “brand”. Use a specific banner and or avatar for posting on groups and social networking sites—anywhere you can use those tools to give yourself name recognition. It’s the author name that’s important when all is said and done. You want readers to enjoy your books, but to remember your name so they buy YOUR books, whatever the title.
Next week, we’ll get into specific places and ways to promote as well as touch base on the appeal of pen names and what a website SHOULD have on it. So, please, everyone post your ideas. I’ll gather it all together and work those ideas into next week’s post. Looking forward to seeing what pops up in comments!