Tag Archives: Market or Die

Give a Hoot!

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here! I hope you’ve had a great week.

One quick announcement – The Undead Space Initiative is on sale now! Thanks to everyone who purchased copies. I appreciate it!

I’m always looking for new ways to use my time more efficiently. I recently signed up for the free version of Hootsuite (thank you Jennifer Fusco for the tip). Now, I received this information a while ago from Madame Fusco, but I was reluctant to sign up for YET another social media tool. I’d tried Tweetdeck and was completely underwhelmed and gave up using it.

With another book release looming in my future (and a huge bout of indecision about promotion), and feeling disorganized and out of control, I did what I always do  -  step back, assess, and organize.

My solution: give Hootsuite a try. So I signed up for the free version and gave it a whirl. (And yes, I do love that little owl logo – see here for my admitted owl obsession).

After the initial set up (which took about two minutes because I had to create and document another new password), I was asked to choose the social networks I wanted to connect to. With the free version, I was limited to five. I had a tough decision to make because I also manage the Scribes’ Twitter and Facebook pages. And I belong to several Facebook groups too.

In the end I chose to use my own pages for the trial run. So I hooked up my Facebook profile, fan page, my Twitter account, and my WordPress blog. Once I did that Hootsuite presented all my information on a series of dedicated tabs and then asked me to choose the “streams” I wanted to view.

Basically that means – how much information do I want displayed? For example on Facebook, you can view wall posts, news feeds and events (to name a few). With Twitter, I can view lists, mentions, the twitter feed, and sent tweets.

The best thing about Hootsuite is scheduling messages. Hootsuite allows you to add photos, documents, and links. Then you can decide the date/time where you want them to appear (FB page, Twitter, your blog).

I have to say – it’s pretty sweet. With minimal effort, I can now schedule my tweets etc. for my weekly blog posts or announce my latest buy link therefore saving me time. If I were to upgrade to the full package ($9.99) a month, I could use their bulk scheduler, connect to an unlimtied number of social networks, and more.

Hootsuite has other free features like analytics that I have yet to explore, but I’m taking baby steps for now!

So far I’ve had a good experience with Hootsuite and I would recommend it for those of you who are time-strapped. Especially if you are on a blog tour or gearing up for your next promotion. The scheduling aspect is my favorite part.

Anyone else using Hootsuite? Any time-saving tips you want to share with the rest of us? And if not Hootsuite what other time-saving applications would you recommend?

Who Are You, Who Who, Who Who

Hello all, Katy Lee here, and this seems to be the song stuck in my head this week. Perhaps, The Who faced a time where they had to answer this very same question, and voila! A song was born. At any rate, it is the question of my week.

You see, my debut novel, REAL VIRTUE is set to release on April 4th, and as exciting as this is, and as grateful as I am for this amazing opportunity, it also means I have to now sell my work. Yikes! I have to step out of my tiny, writer’s cave and step into the big, wide world of marketing.

But before I can start to set up those blog tours or take out those Facebook ads, or read Jennifer Fusco’s latest, Market or Die: Integrated Marketing Plans for Writers, I have to answer the question: Who are you? I need to be ready with an answer, or people are going to pass me by…and my work.

Now this is not an easy question. Go ahead, try to finish the sentence: “I am a ________.”

What popped into your mind?

Did you immediately think of your job title? Did you identify yourself with a relationship term, like wife, daughter, or Team Edward fan? Maybe you described your body (If so, join me next week when I share my .02 on a great book I’m reading, EVERY BODY MATTERS), or did you mention your personality or favorite hobby?

Identity labels like these are useful, even necessary. They shape the way we act and feel (and the way people act and feel toward us) in every situation. However, many labels can be misleading, some even hurt us, but none can fully describe the multifaceted reality of a human being. They are only layers covering who you are and also, can change easily without warning. It’s the person underneath who stays the same…and the person, people/readers want to know and relate to.

So this past week has been a time of stillness for me as I peeled back those layers and zeroed in on my answer to the question: Who are you? It actually turned out to be pretty simple.

I am a child of God, created by him to be loved by him. He has put a path before me filled with abundance and responsibility. The experiences behind me help to prepare the way towards that life. I write stories that express this same theme for my characters. And through their journey, I peel back their layers, like skins of an onion, to reveal who they really are underneath.

But, like us, those layers do not define my characters. They are only the experiences that prepare them for their abundant lives God has planned for them.

The Unlocked Secret: The process of releasing your labels begins in stillness. If we hold still long enough, we begin to feel what we really feel and to know what we really know about ourselves. We can peel through the labels, we might even cry through the ones that hurt and left scars on our layers, but eventually, we realize all those labels do not define us. They are only our layers of experiences, and if we really don’t like one, we can peel it off and cast it aside.

Question: And don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you who you are. Unless you want to share, of course. So instead, how about sharing one of your experiences with us, instead. I’ll start. I used to be a Special Education teacher, teaching Autistic children sign language.

Brands Aren’t Just For Cattle

Hi!  J here.  Happy Saturday to you!   I’ve been thinking about branding lately.  No, no, no…not that kind of branding.  I already have a tattoo, thank you very much.  Incidentally, the artist said I was wimpiest person he had ever put a tattoo on.  I nearly ended up with just a straight black line rather than the delightful image I had planned. But that’s a story for another day.  Today, I want to talk about Marketing. 

I’ve been thinking about my brand as an author.  Jennifer Fusco is an expert on marketing and I’ve been following her blog, Market or Die.  And one of the things she says I need is a brand statement.  Something short and sweet that sums up my writing. 

I’ve also been giving thought to a piece of advice I got recently from author Toni Andrews. Even the most successful authors have times when they can’t attract people to the table at a book signing.  Back in October, I spent a week at my local mall attempting to sell books, but people went out of their way (literally!) to avoid passing by the table or making eye contact.  Toni suggested using a gimmick to bring people to the table.  Once they get there, I’ve had success converting browsers to buyers.

At this point, I’ve Indie Published four books.  Two of them are novels written for ‘tweens.  And two of them are beginning readers.  I have other stories in the hopper, too, and expect to increase my product list significantly in 2012. 

But who am I marketing to?  Unlike many of my writer friends, I’m marketing to two different groups: Buyers and Readers.  The people who will read and enjoy my books are primarily children, 15 years old and under.  But the people who will part with their hard-earned cash to buy the books are adults.  Parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles and so on. 

I need to get my book in front of Buyers and I need to get my book in front of Readers who will influence the Buyers to purchase it.  That’s two different things.  I think my Readers are still reading print books.  It may be changing right now, but my limited market research (asking my friends with teenagers who like to read) tells me that the 10-14 year old set are not Kindle/Nook owners yet.  They might have an iPad, they likely have an iPod and/or an iPhone (iPhone and iPod Touch have a Kindle app).  But much of their pleasure reading is done traditionally.  That tells me that I might do better selling my print book than my e-book, at least right now. 

I’ve been thinking about these seemingly different things, for months.  Now that I’ve created these fabulous products, how do I sell them?  What should my brand be?   What kind of events should I be doing, and where?  What kind of gimmick could I use to gain notice at events?

A possible solution popped into my head last night.  At their core, I write Adventure Stories.  Whether it’s my Livingston-Wexford Adventure Series for ‘tweens, my Dixie & Taco Series for beginning readers or the Time Travel Romance I’m working on right now, each of those stories is an adventure.  That’s the kind of story I like to read, that’s the kind of vacation I like to take, that’s the kind of book I write.  My brand needs to focus on the Adventurous aspect in some way.  And my gimmick could have something to do with Adventure Planning.  Vacation ideas, that kind of thing. 

Today’s Secret: We aren’t in Kansas any more people.  The days when all an author had to do was to write a good book are long gone. 

Today’s Question: What new areas are you dipping your toes into as a result of your writing career?  Are you learning new skills, forging trails you never imagined walking down?  How’s that going?

Twitter-pated

Happy Friday! Casey Wyatt here.

I admit I was reluctant to take the plunge and join Twitter. My thought was –  Ugh, another thing I have to do on top of Facebook and the blogs.

And it is another thing to keep track of … except I like Twitter it.

Maybe too much. It appeals to my inpatient nature and is a great opportunity to spend time avoiding writing. I get instant feedback and someone, somewhere is always tweeting about something interesting. So what is Twitter? It’s a social media tool that allows you to speak to your “followers” or “tweeps” in 140 characters or less. People have to choose to follow you. And you choose to follow them. You can only read comments from those people or organizations you follow. And they in turn will only read your comments if they follow you. (Twitter allows you to directly message people if you know their user name). Our friend and marketing guru Jennifer Fusco likens Twitter to a cocktail party. I think that is a great analogy.  Except my problem is I like the party a little too much. So what’s a writer to do? Limit yourself - I re-tweet (a function that allows you to share tweets you like with your followers). And I publicize for the Scribes (@Secretsof7Scrib) and for Casey (@CaseyWyatt1). I try to read the “feeds” only a few times a day, rather than all day long. Connect - Many applications “talk” to each other. I allow Twitter, Facebook and WordPress access to each other. When I tweet or re-tweet, it appears on my Facebook wall and on my blog page. When this blog posts, it will appear in Twitter and on my Facebook wall. Kinda of neat, huh? Be Meaningful – Ask yourself before you tweet- does anyone care what you ate for lunch? My yardstick for a RT (re-tweet) is – would I like to share this with my followers? Is this an interesting tweet (example, it leads to cool blog post or a contest)? Be mindful of other’s time. Tweet with a purpose. And remember to be professional. Follow – Follow others and they will follow you back (for the most part). And don’t stick to just other writers. I’ve branched out and started following review sites, artists, even the Dalai Lama (he has very sage advice). And speaking of advice – embrace some form of social media. It’s not going away anytime soon. Pick something you like and can manage. Remember, writing should always come first. We can’t sell a blank page! p.s. follow me, I follow back! What is your favorite social media? Least favorite? And have you had to go on a social media diet?

Being a Social Magnet

Thanks so much Scribes for having me guest blog today.  It’s so much fun to get a chance to speak to your audience and talk about the newest in my Market or Die series, “How to use the Power of your Brand.”

However, there’s one thing I DIDN’T write about in my book because I saved this little nugget just for the Scribes and their fans.  What is it?  Social Magnetism.

There’s a lot of talk in the marketing world about brands who are dubbed, “social magnets.” What this means, by definition, is that followers or readers gravitate to your brand, the way metal is attracted to a magnet.

You’re smart. You know what I’m talking about; the way people will go out of their way to be associated with your brand.  So, how do you know if you’re a social magnet?  Let’s see if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:

1.)    Does the general public wear your brand’s logo on their clothing?

2.)    Does the general public put a bumper sticker on their car with your brand on it?

3.)    Does the general public wear hats or carry bags with your brand name on it?

No?  Well, welcome to the club.  Becoming a social magnet in the mind of the general public usually costs millions of advertising dollars, think Nike, Coca-Cola or GE.  However, there’s ways, as authors, you and I can become social magnets in our own little place in writing world and it’s actually easier than you think.

Acquire new readers – work vigilantly and band together with other writers to increases awareness about your brand and your work.  Sometimes having others promote you is more credible that you promoting yourself, and a ton easier, too.

Make existing readers aware that it’s time to buy again – I’m not talking about a Facebook posting that says, “buy my book.” I’m talking about treating your readers like they’re part of your inner circle and letting them know about a new release ahead of time.  Anyone who reads the MOD blog at www.marketordie.net is treated like they’re part of an inside club, whom I’ve dubbed the MOD trubies, and because they visit my blog on a regular basis they receive information from me first.

Be kind. Pay it forward and spread the wealth.  People are attracted to those who help them and they will help you in return!

Jennifer Fusco is the Creative and Brand Manager for the General Electric Company, North America and the author of the Amazon.com bestselling series, MARKET OR DIE, marketing books for writers.

Writing is a Business. Get used to it.

I recently read on one of my favorite blogs, Writer’s Guide to E-publishing, about D.D. Scott’s production schedule. Production schedule? Was I supposed to devise some master schedule? Well, I kind of have a plan, but nothing as well plotted and organized as D.D.s. That woman is a writing machine. Go D.D.!

For me, this whole indie publishing journey has been a whirlwind of learning new tasks. From creating a social media platform to budgeting, finding a good editor, designing cover art–the lists go on and on. I thought I’d done plenty of research to get me going, but nothing has prepared me for how much there really is to do–besides writing great books—a challenging feat in and of itself.

From the time I decided to indie-publish in May, to my September 24th release date for Heaven is for Heroes (Yikes! That’s this Saturday already), I had almost five months to prepare. I knew I would need at least that much time to take care of all the details I had on my list—now known as my production schedule. I feel somewhat prepared and hopefully have learned plenty along the way that will make future endeavors easier, but what I’ve learned is that a production schedule goes beyond a daily page count if you want to be published, traditionally or otherwise.

There is a reason traditionally published books take 18 months to get out onto the shelves. I haven’t even discussed getting ARCs to reviewers and the marketing and promotion that is required way ahead of time to actually sell the book when it does come out. Reviewers require three to six months advanced copies. This is not going to happen in my current plan. Reviews from big name reviewers cost money and most won’t even consider reviewing Indi-pubbed books. I’ll keep searching out reviewers, but in the case of my current book, I’ve asked readers right under my bio on the last page, “If you enjoyed this book, please go to Amazon.com and give it a review.” If they hated it, hopefully they won’t bother:)

 Contrary to popular belief, self-publishing doesn’t mean slapping a book up onto Amazon and setting it free. Although I’m pretty sure that many writers do just that. There is a dredge of terrible e-books out there that should never see the light of day and are keeping the e-book industry on the “fringes of acceptable writing society.” I don’t want mine to be among them, so quality for me is first and foremost. At the same time, production and creating a back list of books is the quickest way to find e-publishing success. So once again, I’m trying to find balance. On my current plan, my cyber bookshelf will have two titles for 2011 and two, possibly three, for 2012. I have committed to releasing On Thin Ice in December and Savage Cinderella in the spring of 2012. These are two stories I already had written and felt were more or less ready to go.  I’m not so convinced after my experience with HIFH and all the work that went into creating the cover, the book trailer, revising, editing, revising, editing, revising…oh, did I say revising? I dare you to find the one typo that I missed on the two hundred copies I’ve already had printed! My current WIP, 21 Days should be out in June and the first book in a dystopian trilogy I’m planning for next winter should be ready by November.

 To meet those deadlines, I need to create a very specific production schedule, get organized, stay focused, and write my little fingers off. The plan is to have five or six titles in my backlist so that the long-tail sales start to gain momentum and I’ll start to see my profit margin grow in the next year. My STG for 2012 is to make back my investment and cover the cost of my conferences. LTG is to make enough profit to hire help, i.e.: a publicist and personal assistant to handle marketing and promotions. For more details on my marketing plan, stop on over to Market Or Die  (MOD) where I’m guest blogging for Jennifer Fusco  (I’ve always wanted to be in two places at once—thank you cyberspace).

I had the good fortune of hearing Kristan Higgins speak at the CT RWA meeting this month about the “countdown to launch” and all the necessary and suggested steps to take in the final three months before a book release. The list is a bit daunting, but even more so are the details involved in each task. You have to have your team in place and create a schedule that includes deadlines that you can adhere to. Cover art should be done at least three months before book release. A trailer, if you do one, should be done 2-3 months in advance, and you need to give editing a lot of time and consideration. Hire a professional and expect that there will be a lot of back and forth revisions. This takes time. I have three months to get ready for the release of On Thin Ice. I believe I’m a bit behind on my production schedule.  I’m not whining—at least I hope I’m not—but I don’t want to sugar coat the work involved in self-publishing, and the necessity of getting organized. I happen to work really well with deadlines, so I create them and work my butt off to meet them, but there is a huge learning curve, way too much for one person to do, and a huge investment in both time and up-front costs, so–

 Today’s Scribe Secret: No matter where you are in your writing career, create a production schedule, set goals (short and long term), and treat your writing like a business. If you are working toward publication, this is the job. Are you ready?

Anyone who comments on both the Scribes blog and MOD will be entered to win a free e-book copy of Heaven is for Heroes. Contest runs until midnight Thursday, September 22nd. The winner will be selected randomly and announced on both blogs next Tuesday, September 27th.

Available September 24th
Heaven Is For Heroes out September 24th

Win a FREE e-book copy!

Available this Saturday on my website www.pjsharon.com or wherever e-books are sold.

 

Nook-ie Here! Have i(Pad) Kindled Your Interest?

Happy Thursday, all.  Suze here.

At the beginning of this year, I finally jumped on the e-reader bandwagon and bought a Barnes and Noble Nook.

Read Me!
Since I’m kinda cheap (yeah, yeah, I hear you snickering out there — okay, frugal) and not a person who needs the latest, most trendy models of anything, I purchased a refurbished wireless/3G version through Barnes and Noble’s eBay store for a bargain price (here’s a link if you’re interested.).  I didn’t buy the color version since I didn’t plan to read magazines or children’s books.  (The money I saved allowed me to buy a lot more e-books.)

While an e-reader will never completely replace physical books for me, I lurve, lurve, lurve my Nook!  It’s simple to use – just search for the book you want, press a couple of virtual buttons, and your next read is there momentarily — and it takes up almost no space.

Why did I choose the Nook over the Kindle? Easy.  I wanted to be able to use my public library’s downloadable books system, which does not support Amazon/Kindle’s proprietary format.

Are there disadvantages?  Sure.  The Amazon store is unavailable to me.  So, for example, I was unable to purchase a Nook version of brand and marketing maven Jennifer Fusco’s debut book, Market Or Die: Sensible Brand Building Advice for Writers, since that is only available through Amazon.  (Sneak preview: Jennifer will be guest blogging here at the Scribes on September 28!  The second volume of her Market Or Die series will be available on September 27.)  No worries though.  I got around this problem by downloading the Kindle for PC app, buying the e-book, and reading it on my computer.   I also could have read it on my Android phone.

Another disadvantage:  Who knows where Barnes and Noble will be as a company in a few years?  Look what’s happened to Borders — Gone, Baby, Gone!  Anybody who’s been inside a B&N lately can see that something’s afoot.  My local shop has a hugely reduced number of physical books on the shelves, and seems to have morphed into a toy store.   But I figure that since technological gadgets such as e-readers become obsolete so quickly, I’m just not going to worry about it.  Something new will come along to replace it, and somebody will figure out a way to make the books in my virtual library accessible to me.

Eventually, I’ll probably go to a tablet computer such as the iPad, which can serve as an e-reader but can also, with the addition of an adorable little wireless keyboard, take the place of a laptop.  For now, though, I’m happy.

What about you?  Do you have an e-reader?  What kind?  What percentage of your reading time is spent on physical books versus the e-reader?