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Promo…ugh…

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Book promo…author promo…just jab a needle in my eye and make it stop :)

OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but promo is a necessary evil, right? We all have to do it! And who of use really likes it? I would venture to guess, very few of us. So…since it’s likely very few people’s favorite part of the job (possibly NO ONE’S favorite part of the job), I would like to know What Really Works?

I’m sure you would, too! :)

So first, I’m not here with the answers. *snort* NO ANSWERS!!!! I’m way too new at all this to really know what does and does not work, but I have formed some opinions, seen some results first hand, come up with many more things to think about, and I’ve asked Rubies for their own thoughts on the subject, too. I’ve also listened and observed a lot over the years.

With that being said, I’ve tried several things over the last few months (and thought even more about many of the things I have yet to try), and thought I would simply start a list of promo suggestions, along with random thoughts and opinions (from me, what I’ve heard, or from another Ruby if she shared her thoughts with me.)

This is by no means a complete list, but hopefully it’s a good start. I’d love to hear your feedback on these ideas, or others I’ve missed. Maybe together we can come up with something cohesive to help all of us out just a little bit.

Two more things before I get started…

1)      The biggest thing I’ve learned so far (my opinion, of course), is that you are selling YOURSELF more than anything. If you can make a personal connection with readers, then they’re going to come back to you. Even if they aren’t your readers to begin with. No one likes having promo thrown at them over and over again, but people DO like making connections. And getting to know us “elusive” authors. So when out there promoting your latest book, I urge you to always keep that in mind. Go out there to make a connection, not to sell a book. Do the one, and I firmly believe the other will follow.

2)      The more people see your name, the more they will remember your name. And though doing any one thing may not make you a sale, I also believe that doing enough things, getting your name out there enough, will eventually result in sales.

Of course, you also have to write a darned good book!

OK…to the list…

Facebook

-          Author page or personal page? Too risky data wise to use at all, or willing to give it a try?

  • There are many, MANY opinions on these two topics, and you’ll have to decide these things on your own. But for me, I use it, and I have both an author page and a personal page.
  • I would like to keep them separate, but I’ve seen that’s pretty impossible. However, I do try to encourage the author page, and I am working at putting more and more of “me” on my author page so that people get to know me there. I do post about my book news, but I try hard to also just put stuff about me out there. It’s a work in progress, for sure.

-          If using an author page:

  • You can promote posts – this can be to your followers, or your followers and their friends. Cost is minimal ($5/$10), and it runs for three days. When I did this, it seemed to get a lot of exposure for me, and I got quite a few new likes. It was during the first week of a release, and sales were fairly good that week. I have no idea if this helped. However, I will use it again, for the exposure, if nothing else.
  • Place ads (that run in the sidebar) – you can filter who sees it, run for as long as you’d like, pay as much as you’d like. Amanda Brice shared the following thoughts:
    • She feels it works best if you really target it narrowly. Don’t show it to all women ages 18+. And don’t just show it to people who have “liked” romance novels. That’s basically just a raindrop falling in the ocean.
    • Show it to people who have “liked” certain big name authors who are similar to you. Writer Navy Seals? Show it to Suzanne Brockman’s fans. Regency romance? Julia Quinn or Eloisa James’ fans. Teen mysteries? Ally Carter’s fans.
    • Is there a particular theme or feeling in your book that’s similar to a recent or popular TV show or movie? Show the ad to their fans. Amanda shows her ads to fans of Bunheads, Dance Academy, and So You Think You Can Dance.
    • I have also run ads, both to promote a website contest and to promote myself with the goal of getting likes.
      • For getting likes, it worked well for me
      • For contest entries…I did get some, but I felt more people “liked” my page, thinking that was entering them in the contest. I suspect they didn’t full read the ad, just clicked over and liked my page. I did get a lot of likes this way.
  • Post links, pictures, status only. Depending on what you are putting in your posts, you will have more or less visibility to your followers. Kristen Lamb did a blog post on this recently. I would highly encourage reading that.
  • Contest giveaways – beware the FB rules on doing contests. I’m not savvy on all of them, but am aware that anything has to be clear that it is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by FB. I’ve done quick contests to giveaway books, etc. I do this via a single  post. Leave a comment for a chance to win… I feel these are great! People love free stuff, especially without having to work hard to get it! And occasionally tossing a freebie out there keeps people looking at my page.

-          Getting others to share you posts – this is something I feel we all should be doing to help others out (to get our names in front of new people), but I’m also not comfortable asking people to do it. I, however, do try to share contests, exciting book releases, and just interesting things about other authors that I love, as much as I can. Again, it gives me something fun to share with my followers, but is also doing a good deed for my fellow authors at the same time. Give back! Believe in good karma ;)

Twitter

-          First…do not tweet promo only! I think pretty much everyone has this opinion.

  • There are several “rules” out there about how many promo tweets to non-promo tweets to shoot for. It’s heavily slanted for non-promo. Trust me. Heavily slanted! Ask your publisher or people who seem to do well on twitter what the “rules” are. You’ll be surprised at how little true promo needs to be done to get people to enjoy having you in their feed.
  • People will quit following others when all they see are promo tweets! I know I skip right past them all the time.

-          Links in tweets

  • I do not want to always click on a link to see what you have to say!!! Completely my opinion, but I hate constant links in my twitter feed. Twitter was created with minimal character allowed for a purpose!
  • Tamara Hogan says…A great sense of humor will get people to click through to links. I do agree, but if all your tweets are links, I’m still going to ignore you J

-          You can get lots of new followers for something totally non-writer related. Tamara Hogan recently experienced this with the Super Bowl blackout.  Just get out there and have fun! Do not join twitter simply to beg people to buy your book!

-          I’ve also noticed that almost all of my followers are other writers.

  • With that said, I know there are readers out there on twitter, and they can be rabid fans. If they love something, they’ll shout it from the twitter rooftops!
  • Though writers are readers, I often don’t feel I’m reaching my target audience, so I’ve not really done a lot on twitter. I’m very sporadic. But I’m eventually going to come up with a workable plan and try harder!
  • I’d love to know from others who have a lot of readers following and interacting with them on twitter, what have you done to make that happen? Do you feel you’re effectively getting your name out there? Making more sales from your twitter use?

Goodreads

-          Books giveaways – people love giveaways, so you are likely to get a lot of exposure simply from running a giveaway on goodreads.

  • Be warned, though, that just because you give away a book, does not guarantee you a review. Be okay with that, or don’t give the book away.
  • Additionally, you might get a review, but since people like to sign up for giveaways, it might be from a reader who really isn’t your target audience. Thus, the review might be poor simply just because it wasn’t their thing. Again, be okay with this, or don’t give the book away.
  • I do feel goodreads giveaway is good exposure, I have given several books away, and I will continue to do so.

-          Goodreads blog posts

  • You have your own blog on goodreads, and can link your personal blog to show up there, too. I have very limited experience with this, and haven’t done a lot of research to determine if there are authors doing this successfully, but my impression is that there may be better ways to spend your time.

-          Author chats – I sat in a goodreads workshop at RWA last year, and discovered that you could do author chats on goodreads, but I have 0 knowledge or experience.

-          Groups – there are groups out there for everything imaginable. And you can set up your own group. I’ve poked around a little, but have essentially no experience. Only poked around after the goodreads workshop that I mentioned in the last point.

Other social media – Are there any other sites anyone would recommend? I know there is pinterest, but I’ve not used it. Seems like there’s another that’s becoming larger, but I’m drawing a blank. I personally don’t have time to devote to another social media outlet, but I’m sure there are authors having good experience with other sites. Please share, if that’s you. I’d love to learn about it!

OK…you know what? This is the kind of post that can’t be finished in one post. So let’s stop here and have a social media discussion. I’ll pull more of my promo thoughts out for another post in the very near future. Maybe eventually we’ll have that list I was striving for. ;)

So what do you use in social media? What works? Do you see a surge in sales? More likes? More follows? Are you able to connect with readers this way? Do you disagree with any of my above opnions? Tell me your thoughts! I love to hear them. :)

20 Responses to “Promo…ugh…”

  1. Kim – I totally hear you on this. I always like reading about the experiences of other authors with marketing and promotion.

    As for me, I have both a personal and professional page on Facebook, but to be honest, I don’t do much there. I feed the Firebirds blog topics, and every great once in a while I’ll post a status update, but by and large I do most of my social media stuff on Twitter.

    I adore Twitter. I’ve “met” more interesting people there than any other medium. That being said, I’m not convinced it’s a good marketing spot. Like you, most of my followers are writers, and most of us have TBR piles that are miles high.

    I think my biggest problem is that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be “just” a reader. So I have a hard time thinking about where I’d most likely hear about a new author if I wasn’t in the habit of crawling author blogs like the Rubies.

    My agent says it’s probably a good idea to do a blog tour…that I can’t risk turning down an opportunity for more name recognition. But I always wonder how many readers (not authors) do you really reach with those things? Are the numbers worth the hours of work put in?

    I have no idea. But as my debut release date approaches, I plan on doing at least some. You never know until you try!

    • Kim Law says:

      Lorenda, something I do to try to remember what it’s like to be just a reader, is follow some of my favorite authors on FB. People I have not met personally yet. Or not enough to think they’d know me if they saw me again. Then I just watch what they do. If I’m enjoying following them, and not feeling like I’m be promoted to, then I try to take notes. Because I am just a reader to them. So I’m participating with them as a reader.

      Also…blog tours. Ugh. Double ugh. I’ll probably talk more about these in another post, but honestly, I’ve seen (and heard) they can be such a time suck, for very little return. You will be getting your name out there, which is great. And you may pick up a few readers along the way, super great! And they could be the very vocal ones who’ll tell the world how much they love you!! So yeah, blog tours could work. But I wouldn’t go into it expecting a whole lot. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, and (unless you get on some really big reader blogs) probably not a whole lot of return. Good luck!! :)

  2. Tamara Hogan says:

    I think the toughest thing about promo for me is…as an author, I feel I have to do things that, as a reader/civilian, I find loathesome and off-putting. I feel like a hypocrite. How do you promote in a ‘like me’ ‘click for me’ ‘retweet this’ age when you have grave concerns about data privacy? How do you retain your enthusiasm for reading and writing when loops that used to be full of vibrant craft discussion seem to have evolved into another venue for promotion? How do you come to terms with the realities of selling a book when you hate being marketed to?

    GAH. Yeah, clearly I have some issues. ;-)

    • Kim Law says:

      LOL. Yep! It’s rough! And I agree with you…”as an author, I feel I have to do things that, as a reader/civilian, I find loathesome and off-putting”

      I do something do things I hate, but I also try really hard to think as a reader and put stuff out there about my book that I would love hearing about my favorite books/authors. I know I have A LOT to learn, and I’m sure I irritate many people (thought I do try now to), but that’s what I’m trying to get to. Always think like a reader and see if it’s something I’d like to know.

      But there’s still the occasional, buy my book stuff, that you just have to do! ugh.

  3. Ahh, promotion–a subject I’d rather not discuss. But while we’re on the topic, may I say how much I HATE promo. :)

    All except for answering fan mail. That I love. I think it’s probably the MOST IMPORTANT promotion an author can do, because, as you said, Kim, CONNECTIONS are what help the most.

    • Kim Law says:

      Answering fan mail is HUGE! I read a book years ago that I loved. It was a new author to me, and she had several more books out there, and this one literally kept me up all night. I think I got one hour of sleep before having to get up and go to work. I sent off an email the next morning, telling her how much I loved it and such…and never heard a word back from her.It ticked me off!!! You couldn’t even say thanks? She wasn’t that big of an author! Or maybe she thought she was and I was too beneath her? Yeah, that thought ran through me mind.

      And no, I did not go get any of those other books of hers and read them. Have refused to ever read another one. There are tons of books out there to read, and I don’t want to read the ones of people who are rude.

      I know…maybe she didn’t get the email, etc, etc. But still. It made a big impact. Always answer the fan mail!

  4. Elisa Beatty says:

    AHHHHHH!!!! Preparing to run for the hills here!!!!

    I’m glad I’m not at this stage of my career yet…not sure I can handle it!! (And I haven’t waded into the waters of Twitter in any form yet.)

    As a reader, I still find new reads mostly by word of mouth…though I suppose social media is a form of that.

    Again I say, AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

    • Kim Law says:

      I’m screaming it every day, Elisa! I have no idea what I’m doing, what gives me the biggest bang for my buck, or what really endears me to readers. I do enjoy talking to the ones I meet on FB, or via my website when they contact me. I would like to have more time to build that up and do more of that. But then…I have to write sometime. *sigh* I need two extra days every week. That’s all!

  5. Promo! Ugh! Most days I feel like a total promo fail. :) I completely agree that success is about selling yourself and not your books, and that the most important thing is to make a connection with people. But that’s really hard for an introvert! It’s something I’m constantly trying to improve.

    Like Lorenda, I enjoy Twitter, but most of my followers are other writers, so I don’t feel like I’m making a connection with readers, even though I recognize that writers are readers. Same with Facebook, although I count it as a win when my author page gets liked by someone I don’t know! LOL.

    • Amanda Brice says:

      That’s why I haven’t gotten involved with Twitter yet. rom everything I’ve read and heard, teens don’t really tweet. (I would have thought they did.) So I’d be unlikely to get many reader followers who are actually likely to become MY readers. I’d probably have a lot of writer followers, and that’s great, but I already have a ton of writer friends on Facebook, so I’d feel like I was duplicaitng efforts for no real advantage.

      And since my time is limited and I have a tendency to get involved in time sucks, I decided not to go there. Which very well might be a big mistake, but we’ll see.

      I’ll be delving into Tumblr soon, though. Yeah, yeah, I know. Time suck. But it’s where teens hang. (Just need to get through this deadline first before I can figure it out.)

      • Kim Law says:

        Tumblr. Yes, that’s the other one I was trying to think of! There are just so many choices out there. I think you’ve made a great decision, Amanda. If the teens aren’t on twitter, it’s not really helping you to get out there. I’m sure we’d all love to do a lot more, but we’ve got to write sometime!

        Good luck with Tumblr. Would love to know how it goes.

    • Kim Law says:

      I do that with my author page too, Cynthia. I often let out a little squeal when someone likes it that I don’t know :)

  6. I love that you have “making connections” first on the list. I think having that approachable author identity is important. (At least, I hope it is, cuz I’m working on that. LOL) I’m making an effort this year to attend more reader-oriented conferences, like Romantic Times. I’m hoping to make more of those connections. ;)

    I have the Twitter, Facebook personal and author pages, and Pinterest accounts, plus keep my Amazon author page current, and Goodreads, too. Out of them, I think I most enjoy Facebook, and have my author status linked to Twitter so it tweets for me and saves me a step.

    But overall, I think writing the next great book is truly the most important thing. It seems to me (without any data to back it up, just observations) that having several books out there, and having them “feed” off each other, really helps build a career. I’m looking for that gradual build as I produce more books, and intend to hit promo harder as I write more books.

    My 2 cents. ;)

  7. Making the personal connection with a reader is so very important. I think once we sat our minds to write a novel, we forgot what it was like to be a reader.

    I remember I was so thrill and nervous to walk up and talk to Kasey Michaels at a book signing. She the first author I met. You’d swear I was going on a first date. She was so nice and became a mentor and inspiration to me.

    When I think of that time, I know I’ve got to pay it forward. Hell, I want to pay it forward. I try my best to chat with anyone who approaches me whether it’s on FB,Tweeter, chats, mail, blogs or at booksignings and conferences.

    Should you post info concerning your book? Heck yeah! It’s expected. It’s your job, but just being your self seems the best way to get attention. When I opened up on FB about a noisy neighbor commenting on my hole ridden tee-towel, I received so many comments and added new friends, you’d have thought I had written 50 Shades of something. LOL Just be you.

    And yes, writing a good book and another and another seems the best way to keep on selling.

    • Kim Law says:

      That’s too funny about the tee-towel, Autumn. But so true! It was a real incident. People can relate. And they like to make those connections too, so that totally makes sense. But still funny ;)

  8. Rita Henuber says:

    Great info. Thanks Kim

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