Archive for the ‘Marketing and Platforms’ Category

Thursdays with Amanda: Is Your Nonfiction Book Idea Viable?

February 26th, 2015 | Career, Marketing and Platforms, Questions from Beginners, The Business of Writing | 8 Comments

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

When I first met Chip, we were working at a college (me in admissions and he as a visiting professor). I had a BA in writing and a love for books, so naturally, I pitched him some ideas. I mean, why not?!

I’ll never forget his reaction to the only nonfiction book I ever ran by him…

Now mind you, I had this GREAT book idea. I was in the midst of planning my wedding, and I was super inspired by this strong desire I had to make my wedding feel like me. What did that mean? It meant embracing the traditions that fit, while ignoring the ones that didn’t–and replacing them with things that were more Amanda & Tad and less standard wedding.

This whole concept exploded in my mind. I mean, what if you have two sports-lovers getting married?! They could plan their wedding around a particular sports event and have a reception in which they serve wings and beer while watching the game! Or what if the couple is really into theatre? They could do a murder mystery reception that is super interactive and even includes clues from the invitations and programs!

I went crazy. I started jotting things down and obsessing and then one day I casually pitched my wedding planning book idea to Chip. (And when I say casually I mean totally on the fly…you may as well envision us walking through campus and me dropping this bomb on him. Poor guy.)

And you know what he said?

He said no.

He said it in a very nice way…in a way that probably had me thanking him for turning me down as conversation shifted. And he also said this: “You don’t have a wedding-planning platform, Amanda. So who would buy this? It should be an article instead.”

BUT! BUT! BUT! MY IDEA WAS GREAT! AND PEOPLE NEEDED MY WEDDING HELP! AND THERE WAS A HUGE VOID IN THE MARKET FOR A BOOK LIKE THIS!!!! AND ARTICLES ARE LAME!!!!!!!

All those buts meant squat. Because the biggest but was the “but you don’t have a platform” one.

I tell you this painful and funny story because there are so many people out there who are just like I was. You have a great idea. Or you have a great personal story. Or you have this or that. BUT that doesn’t mean you can also have a book.

Nonfiction needs a platform. Think about it! If you need some advice on finances, are you going to buy a book from Joe Schmoe CPA or from Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman?!

Because nonfiction promises to solve a problem or provide answers or information we care about, it MUST come from an author that the readers view as an expert on the topic.

This is why books about cancer only succeed when they are celebrity stories or tied to well-known bloggers. And this is why my wedding book would have failed failed failed. I was and am a nobody on the topic of wedding-planning. And I had and have ZERO plans to become a somebody.

In nonfiction it’s very rare that a book comes before platform. So rare, that it’s not even worth considering as a “what-if” scenario.

So what do you do with this information? If you have a nonfiction book idea and no platform, consider whether you’re willing to spend the time, energy, and resources needed to develop a platform for that book topic. Because that is what it’ll take to give your book idea a shot at publication. It’ll take time and dedication. It’ll take effort on your part to become an expert. You don’t need to be as big of an expert as Dave or Suze! But you DO need to be an expert to some people. And the more people who view you as an expert, the more likely you’ll get that deal…and the bigger that deal will be.

Thursday with Amanda: Which Comes First? A Book Deal or Platform? (FICTION)

February 19th, 2015 | Career, Marketing and Platforms, Publishing, Questions from Beginners | 3 Comments

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In the journey of publishing, what is the typical order of events? Does an author come out with a book first? Or do they develop a platform first?

I think many of us in the industry see this as an easy question to answer.

For fiction, the book comes first.

For nonfiction, the platform.

But it never fails that I’ll inevitably run into authors who either don’t understand this, don’t agree, or flat out don’t fit the mold. So here is some insight into the fiction side of this topic:

WHAT COMES FIRST FOR FICTION? A BOOK DEAL OR PLATFORM?

If you’ve ever tried to build a platform for your fiction career without actually having a novel, you’ll find it’s near-impossible. I mean, what do you blog about? What do you Tweet? You don’t have characters anyone knows, you don’t have product to push, and you certainly don’t have much reason to share when your next draft is done or when you’ve had a 10k writing marathon.

Marketing your fiction career without a product is HARD. So that’s why the general rule is that the book comes first, then the platform.

BUT! there are always exceptions to the rule. For fiction, a huge exception would be an author who has found an audience not for their fiction writing, but for some other hobby or focus. Let’s say Trina writes fiction. But she also bakes. She has a recipe blog with a decent following. So in a sense, Trina has a platform and this platform will actually help her get a book deal, provided her book is well-written and publishable. BUT her platform will only help when her book’s readership is similar to the readership of her blog.

For example, if she were to write military thrillers, I highly doubt a single one of her recipe blog followers would give her book a second thought. But if she wrote romantic comedies with a foodie theme, then she’d definitely tap into her platform.

So what does this mean for you? If you have a following or a platform already going, then consider how your fiction could appeal to them specifically. It may mean you have to switch genres. It may mean you have to think a bit more intentionally about characters and setting and themes, but it will be worth it if you can pull it off.

And if you don’t have a following and would like to start one, I highly recommend trying to get noticed for something other than your writing or the genre in which you write (In other words, if you write fantasy, don’t start a fantasy book review blog). Instead, create a blog or a Tumblr or Instagram or whatnot that hits your genre’s target audience for reasons other than your writing hobby. This could look like a “Nerd News” Twitter feed where you share Geek-related URLs or, if you’re into cosplay and creating costumes, a blog where you share tips and tricks and even a few sewing patterns. If you do these things well and market them well and start to see traction, it will pay off when it’s time to get that book deal.

If you write fiction, do you plan on having a book first or developing a platform first?

Thursday with Amanda: 5 Pitfalls of Using Kickstarter…and How to Avoid Them

February 12th, 2015 | Marketing and Platforms, Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing, Trends | 2 Comments

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Kickstarter is a popular way for artists and entrepreneurs to get the funding they need to bring a project or idea to fruition. It’s been used by everyone from Reading Rainbow to TLC to Zach Braff. So clearly, some big names (along with plenty of little guys) have adopted the unique platform.

For awhile board games and the like dominated the Kickstarter platform, but more and more I’m seeing authors and even publishers launch their book projects through the site. It’s definitely a tempting idea. The thought of having $5,000 or $10,000 as opposed to the few hundred I used to put together my own indie book The Extroverted Writer, is…mind-blowing. Oh, what I could have done with that kind of money!! My book could have been edited by Stephen King and had a large print edition and a Spanish language edition and a braille edition and an ad in Times Square to boot.

Okay, maybe not, but this is the lure of Kickstarter. It creates this “the sky is the limit” mentality. And it works.

So what are the pitfalls? Oh, there are plenty. Kickstarter is an everyman’s version of Shark Tank, except the people with the ideas tend to be artists and creatives as opposed to MBA grads and business owners, while the backers (or partners) are regular consumers, looking to get in on a new product that fits their needs.

Clearly this is a setup that could have disastrous results. And sometimes it does. But it doesn’t have to! Being aware of the pitfalls is what will help you not only be able to determine whether Kickstarter is right for you, but have a successful Kickstarter campaign.

1. Pitfall #1: Idealism. Sure, it’s nice to think that your great, bulletproof idea will rake in the support and have people buzzing across the Internet. But this can be the greatest pitfall of Kickstarter.

Assuming that your idea has a large audience, waiting to throw money at it can be a huge gamble if you don’t already have existing support. Here’s an example: Kevin sings for his church. He’s been told he should audition for American Idol or that he should cut a record. Feeling as though he has his entire church behind him, he launches a Kickstarter campaign and throws money into having a pitch video made and in getting quotes on the various costs of his project…which isn’t going to be a praise and worship album, but rather a folk album. He uploads his project…and only gets a few supporters. What Kevin failed to realize is that while he definitely has some fans, he doesn’t have as many fans as he thought he did. Sure, the congregation like hearing him play on Sunday. But they don’t like him enough to support him financially…especially when the product he’s wanting to create isn’t what they’re used to. So, his campaign fails.

To avoid this pitfall, ask around and gauge interest in your idea. Talk to people who will give it to you straight (aka. not your mom). This will save you time and money and a lot of headaches (and maybe heartbreaks) down the road.

2. Pitfall #2: Money. It’s easy to think of yourself as this super frugal person who has a bunch of help lined up that won’t cost much and so therefore you can get away with doing your project at a fraction of the cost…but then you find yourself blowing through your Kickstarter funding with no end in sight. Why? Big projects always cost more than you anticipate. For example, Jane is Kickstarting her picture book. But at the last minute, the person she had lined up to do the illustrations backs out. She scrambles to find someone who can do the illustrations in the time she has left. But the rush job costs three times as much.  Suddenly she’s out of money and she hasn’t even gone to print.

To avoid this pitfall, add plenty of cushion to your financial goal. This can be labeled as an “emergency” fund or something of the sort.

3. Pitfall #3: Time. I can’t tell you how many Kickstarters promise one delivery deadline only to push it off by one, two, three…even six months. Why does this happen? Can’t people just get their act together? Much like the money issue, it’s easy to think of your project as easier than it really is. It’s easy to assume the people you have helping you will do so in a timely manner. And it’s easy to think you won’t run into roadblocks. But again, these things always take longer than planned. And there’s nothing worse than having hundreds of investors frustrated by how long it’s taking you to get your project out the door (where’s the incentive for them to invest again?!).

To avoid this pitfall, add three months to your estimated delivery date. This will give you a much more realistic timeframe…and if you get done early, you’ll have very happy investors.

4. Pitfall #4: Changes in the plan. With many creative projects, I’ve seen it happen where you thought you were going to deliver one thing…but you ended up putting together a slightly different thing. Or, you promised one thing only to switch gears a bit and altogether cancel part of your original promise. For example, Bill has a cool idea for a new fishing lure. He has numerous styles from which his investors can choose. But when it’s time to produce the lures, he realizes he can’t offer two of the ten styles due to production and material issues. Now he has the fun job of letting his investors down and trying to convince them to be just as happy with a slightly different product.

To avoid this pitfall, do your research…extensively. You want to know every aspect of your project from design to materials to production to delivery…and you’ll even want some backups lined up. This way, you won’t offer anything that you can’t fulfill. 

5. Pitfall #5: No marketing strategy. Kickstarter features thousands of fundable projects at any given time…and it isn’t the only funding site! There’s lots of competition, so the last thing you want to do is create and upload your project only to sit back and wait for the funding to roll in. Because it won’t! You’ll need an aggressive marketing strategy to spread the word and communicate that your project is out there, needing support. The more money you need to raise, the more aggressive your campaign should be.

Avoid this pitfall by creating a marketing plan for your project. Aim to have as many people as possible lined up to Tweet, Facebook, and talk about it, and maintain your own marketing calendar to ensure you stay on course with talking about your project. 

What do you think about Kickstarter? Have you used it before as either a project backer or creator?

 

How My Lack of Platform Helped Me Get Published (a guest blog)

January 23rd, 2015 | Marketing and Platforms | 8 Comments

It was every hopeful author’s dream. I had just finished pitching my book idea in front of seven other hopeful authors and (more to the point) an acquisitions editor. As we all stood up to leave, he discreetly handed me his card and said “Let’s talk.” Long story short, I am now a published author.

I have, in fact, shortened the story so much as to be deceptive. When he and I talked at lunch the next day, he didn’t even look at the proposal I had spent three months perfecting. First, he wanted me to address several issues. Six grueling months later, I sent him the revised proposal. To my delight, he loved it. But he wanted me to completely rework my sample chapters, which took another five months. Finally he believed it was ready to be presented to the publication committee.

As you may know, publishers are looking for three things in a proposal: 1) a great concept, 2) great writing, and 3) a great platform. But, as my editor said, they’re willing to over look one of those three if the other two make up for it. I had no platform, so my editor kept pushing me to refine and improve my concept and writing.

There were many points in the process that I wanted to give up. Two years is a long time to spend on three chapters. But because I didn’t have a platform to fall back on, I didn’t have a choice. And now, having seen too many mediocre books from well-known personalities, I’m glad I didn’t have a platform to lean on. I know myself – if I could have gotten away with less effort, I would have.

By the way, I’ve also seen a lot of authors fall back on “I can always self-publish.” I’m NOT saying that self-publishing is necessarily an easy way out. It’s probably the harder path because you’re the only one holding yourself to a higher standard. I’m simply saying that if you view self-publishing as a back-up plan, your quality will likely suffer.

In the end, the publication committee caught my editor’s vision and decided to take a chance on an unknown author. But my point isn’t that anyone can be published if they work hard enough. There are no guarantees (even a great platform isn’t a guarantee). My point is that a lack of platform can be a blessing. It can drive us to write at the highest level we’re capable of. And that should be our goal, shouldn’t it?

What do you think? Is your lack of a platform a blessing or a curse? Is self-publishing an easy way out?

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Josh Kelley is a speaker and author of Radically Normal (Harvest House). His website is www.joshkelley.ink.

Thursday with Amanda: How to Write a Novel that is Easy to Market

January 22nd, 2015 | Marketing and Platforms | 10 Comments

literary agentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. You can also check out her marketing skills on Fiverr. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Does this sound familiar?

You have a novel that seems to be going nowhere. It’s a romance, after all. And there are a bazillion other romance novels out there, competing for the same readers. So you try to think outside the box. You can’t really promote yourself, because it’s the beginning of your career and you don’t have a massive fanbase yet, so you turn to your book to help you. It’s really all you have to offer.

You blog excerpts of your book and set up character Twitter accounts and pin a ton of pictures that remind you of your novel and you do gift card giveaways and chapter one booklets and you order bookmarks and go to bookstores and … nothing seems to be working.

You’re still a voice among thousands of other voices. And you’re doing your song and dance along with everyone else, while this mass of potential readers watches.

Novels can be next to impossible to promote or market. Unlike nonfiction, they don’t solve problems (in the conventional sense) or help readers out of holes. They don’t impart knowledge and wisdom in the same way that nonfiction books do, and they certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers. Nope. Instead, fiction is viewed as a form of entertainment. A luxury item for those who have the time.

This means that each time a novel is read it’s because that person has chosen to spend their free time not with movies or Facebook or friends or church or shopping or playing sports or hanging out with their kids or ANY other hobby that they may have. No, they are choosing to read a story.

And because they have chosen to read this story instead of doing any of the other countless awesome things they could be doing, they want that story to be a perfect fit. They want it to be the right choice.

So it’s really not a big surprise that readers don’t simply pluck any old book off the shelf. They weigh recommendations from friends. They weigh their mood. And they weigh the likelihood that they will connect with a story based on their interests. 

This is where many novels fall short.

A majority of romance novels that are pitched to me involve the same idea. There is a young woman. There is a young man. There is a small town. There is a family business (maybe a B&B or something of the sort). There is conflict. There is resolution.

Nothing about this idea, aside for maybe the B&B, stands out. Nothing.

Here’s a typical women’s fiction idea:

There is a woman. She is struggling because of ___ (divorce, infidelity, abuse, etc.). There is a man. He is nice but she doesn’t trust him. There is a town and a few friends. She walks around. She hangs out with friends. She slowly heals. Something happens to set her back (ex-husband comes back into town, she finds out she’s pregnant, she becomes afraid to go out alone, etc.). Friends and man help her through. She heals.

Again…nothing stands out. There is nothing to connect this story with the reader. There is nothing that screams HEY! I THINK WE’RE A MATCH!! because there is nothing that connects the reader to the story. There is nothing specific about these stories and these characters that readers can latch on to.

Which means they’re impossible to promote.

The more unique a novel is–the more it targets a specific type of person with specific hobbies and specific tastes–the easier it is to promote.

What do I mean by this? Let me point you to two examples.

From the Start by Melissa Tagg and Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge are romance novels. They pretty much fit the above romance description, but they’re also MORE than that.

In From the Start you have themes of sports and writing and movie-making ON TOP of the typical romance themes. By taking any one of the unique themes, the author has an entire world of marketing opportunity. She can tailor her marketing to readers who are also fans of football or readers who have a soft spot for those made-for-TV movies.

In Reservations for Two, you again have all the typical themes, except this is a foodie book! So anyone who is part of that foodie movement will see this as a perfect match. A perfect way to spend their free time.

When writing your novel, think about reader groups. Think about hobbies or things of interest or pastimes that you can put into your book. Then, when it comes time to promote, you simply target those groups and make them aware that your book exists. The best part? They won’t be facing this huge question of “Will I like this?” because you’ve answered that for them by putting things that they like INSIDE THE BOOK.

It’s a beautiful thing that not only strengthens marketing, but it will help your book stand out.

Is this making sense? I feel it’s a big topic to cover in one post, so let me know if you have questions! I’m happy to try and help you figure out how you can make YOUR novel a better fit for niche groups.

Thursdays with Amanda: The Importance of Networking on Twitter

January 15th, 2015 | Marketing and Platforms, Web/Tech | 4 Comments

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. You can also check out her marketing skills on Fiverr. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I barely have any Twitter followers!

No one tweets me! Heck, no one even retweets me!

My Tweets fall on deaf ears!

Have you ever wondered why Twitter isn’t working? Have you ever stared blankly at your Twitter home page in a painful attempt to write something that is reTweetable? Favorite-able? Enjoyable? And then have you whittled your overly long message down to 140 characters (link included!) and sent it out to the masses only to go…unnoticed?

If this fits you, know that you’re not alone! Many struggle with Twitter, and it’s understandable. We treat it like we treat Facebook. We throw something out there and wait for the interactions to roll in.

But Twitter isn’t like Facebook. With Twitter, you have to be far more relational.

It’s a scary thing to promise marketing results, because let’s face it…marketing is a gamble each and every time. So I was a bit hesitant when I set up my Fiverr account. I felt fairly confident that I could (and can) provide social media copy that gets results, but I had doubts. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to go back to my clients and tell them that I don’t know how to help them. That I’ve done my best and my best isn’t working.

But eventually, I put my fears aside, created my page, and told a few people about my account.

The general idea behind the services that I offer on Fiverr is to help people understand how they can better communicate via social media. Yes, I write copy for them, and yes, I do research and handle a lot of the legwork. But my goal is to also show them how they can improve.

My first Fiverr job was to write five Tweets for an author that I knew. The goal? To help the author gain followers. After a bit of panic and sudden onslaught of self-doubt, I put my head down and worked.

I reminded myself that to gain followers, the author had to IDENTIFY A TARGET AUDIENCE. For this author, a clear target audience was “geeky pastors.” Once I had that nailed down, I knew that the next step would be to FIND THE TARGET AUDIENCE ON TWITTER. With the help of Google and Twitter’s search engine, I found 4-5 individuals that fit the bill. Which only meant that I needed to WRITE COPY THAT WOULD ENGAGE THOSE USERS.

I whipped together a few Tweets, sent them to the client with a note as to how to use them, and the next thing I knew, the author was showing me screen shots of this crazy long Twitter conversation he was having with these five Geeky Pastors.

If he keeps it up, he’s going to get some new followers. He’s going to have direct contact with potential readers. And it’s going to make his job of marketing his books a whole lot easer. Plus, imagine what will happen if he keeps finding NEW geeky pastors?! The sky is the limit here, but it all starts with being proactive.

The worst thing you can do on Twitter is sit back and wait for followers. The best thing you can do is find those who fit your audience and engage them in conversation.

I don’t mean for this to be an advertisement for my Fiverr page, but if you’re curious to see what $5 can get you, check it out. I also plan to add a few more gigs, one being where I will research Twitter users for you and find some that fit within your target audience.

Until next week!

Creative Marketing Strategies (a guest blog)

January 9th, 2015 | Marketing and Platforms | 2 Comments

Authors are great at pulling from life’s experiences, good and bad, to make their stories the best they can be. When it comes to marketing those stories, however, they often hide under the covers and pray the book takes off with any strategies or effort on their part. Oh, if only they had a magic wand, something creative and fun, to help get the word out about their books. Then the process of marketing could be as enjoyable as the task of writing.

 

Those of us who are represented by MacGregor Literary are blessed because Chip and Amanda give so freely of their time. They want us to excel as marketers and give us the tools to do so. Their yearly marketing seminar is above and beyond. I’ve attended for three years running and always come away with a thousand ideas running through my head.

 

Then again, I’ve always been a creative soul. I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb doing a song and dance number. Mom says my first sentence went something like this: “Hey, do you want to put on a show?” Okay, okay, totally lying about that part, but it’s true that I thrive on creativity. So, when it came to the task of marketing my books I decided I needed a unique, fun approach. I began to explore new options: using Facebook groups, for instance. Back in 2012 I came up with a fun virtual cruise idea to market my novel Queen of the Waves. Chip was kind enough to let me blog about it at the time. Since then I’ve used every creative angle I can think of to plug my books.

 

I complied some of my ideas into an ACFW Continuing Education course titled Creative Marketing Strategies: Innovative Marketing Tip FOR Authors FROM Authors, which I co-taught with Kathleen Y’Barbo and Anita Higman. The response was overwhelming. Novelists at every end of the spectrum got so jazzed at the idea of marketing their books in a fun, innovative way. Many wonderful authors couldn’t attend the conference, though, and I knew they needed the inspiration. With that in mind, I started a Facebook group titled Creative Marketing Strategies. Authors are flooding in. Fiction. Non-Fiction. Traditionally published. Hybrid. Indie. Doesn’t matter. All are welcome!

 

How does the group work?

 

On Mondays I post a teaching, usually something really creative. I pull from my online course materials and from our ACFW course. All innovative ideas. Then, on Tuesday through Friday, we work together to come up with a marketing plan for one author per day. It’s a lot of fun! The author fills out a basic “Getting to Know You” form and uploads it to the files section of the group. The others open it, get to know the author and his/her book, then come up with a flood of ideas. And trust me when I say they’re creative! We’re trying to think outside the box, after all. Our “project of the day” is always pinned to the top of the page, so there’s never any searching. Of course, other conversations whirl around us in other threads, and that sort of chatter is encouraged, as well.

 

Whether you’re writing, pitching, publishing, editing or launching a book, you could benefit from this group. Because it’s a closed group I will have to accept you. (Doesn’t it feel good to know you’re accepted?) Once I sneak you in through the secret door, a world of possibilities will await you. Go to the top of the page to the “files” section and open the calendar. Choose a date to market your book, then download the “Getting to Know You” form and re-upload with your name in the title. (Example: Getting to Know You Janice Thompson). It’s really that simple! Then join in the conversation to help the author of the day. Make sure your ideas are creative. That’s really the only catch.

 

Marketing doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, with the right tools, it can be every bit as much fun as the writing, itself. I could carry on all day about this, but, alas, I’m off to market a book. Be blessed, y’all!

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Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna. She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over ninety books, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books, and more. In addition, she enjoys editing, ghost-writing, public speaking, and mentoring young writers. 

Thursdays with Amanda: Should You Take a Holiday Break from Marketing?

December 18th, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 3 Comments

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Disclaimer!!! I apologize for any typos! I have a blinding migraine today (yes, those are real things!), but I wanted to get the post out. :)

Every year, around this time, I struggle to figure out what to blog about. I’m so very tempted to slap a Christmas meme up for my Thursday post, or do something easy and less informative like last week’s list of author marketing books. This desire to cop out is INTENSE. And I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

After Thanksgiving, that weekly column you do seems like busywork. Those individuals who have Tweeted you, expecting a response, come across as more things to add to your to-do list. That sale that your publisher is doing on your book doesn’t have the full marketing push behind it that your previous sales have had.

Basically, you’ve run out of steam because your life is just so full of so many other things.

This can happen at any time of year; not just the holiday season. The difference, however, is that December is a month of spending. And gift-giving. And things. It’s a retail rush, not only in the weeks leading up to major holidays, but in the weeks following (you gotta spend those gift cards!). So where am I going with this?

I do believe wholeheartedly in taking time off during the holiday season. I believe in focusing on family and friends and others. But I also think it’s important to have some kind of a marketing strategy in place during the holiday season. It can be as intensive as you want. It can be something that you even plan out months in advance so that you’re relatively off the hook for day-to-day maintenance. But I think it’s important that you keep your marketing mindset. Your career is a business, after all. (So often we treat it as a hobby that can be set aside). And most business close for a week at the most during this season. So I encourage you to adopt that mindset and to keep marketing. Keep doing what you do to spread the word.

Because all that gift card money that people end up with has to be spent! And it may as well be spent on your book.

What’s your plan of attack this time of year? Take the month off? or try to keep going as usual?

Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Author Marketing Books That Won’t Disappoint

December 11th, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 3 Comments

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Need author-y gift ideas for yourself or your friends? How about gifting some marketing help?!

No, I’m not talking about buying your writer friends a phone chat with a publicist or sending them an AdSense gift card. I’m talking about books! Marketing books, to be exact. The kinds of books that every author wants, because they know them to be helpful, but may not want to shell out money for (because come on…if they’re going to choose between the latest novel from their favorite author or a book that tells them how to work harder, the choice is obvious).

Here are five books that I’d recommend gifting to your author friends or yourself:

1. The Extroverted Writer: An Authors Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform by Amanda Luedeke (Currently $8.09 for a print copy from Amazon and $2.99 for digital)

I figured I’d get my book out of the way, since OBVIOUSLY I’m going to include it in this list. But before you brush this off as shameless self-promotion (which it is), take a look at the reviews. I don’t know many of those people. I didn’t solicit their two cents. But feedback has been very positive! I like books that are practical and fun, and that’s what I tried to write.

 

2. The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing by various NYT bestselling authors (Currently $11.11 for a print copy from Amazon and $4.99 for digital)

I haven’t read the whole thing, but from what I have read, I love how chock-full it is of links, ideas, tips, and more. Indie authors are known for sharing everything they know about the business, and this book proves that. While they write with indie authors in mind, most of the content is applicable for any writer.

 

3. The Tricked-Out Toolbox: Promotion and Marketing Tools Every Writer Needs by Tonya Kappes & Melissa Bourbon Ramirez (Currently $13.08 for a print copy from Amazon and $4.99 for digital)

Another book packed with information you can take and use immediately. A bit brief in places that could use more detail and examples, but overall a great resource.

 

4. The Author’s Guide to Marketing: Make a Plan that Attracts More Readers and Sells More Books by Beth Jusino (Currently $11.24 for a print copy from Amazon and $4.99 for digital)

This book has a bit more theory than others on this list, but it has a great section on marketing plans near the back. When I say “great” I mean “Complete with a worksheet and everything!” Beth has been in the industry awhile, as an agent, among other things. So she has a great perspective.

 

5. Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers by Edie Melson (Currently $14.99 for a print copy from Amazon and $6.99 for digital)

Another great book with tools you can USE…and its focus is social media!! Many know Edie from her blog, and if you’re familiar with her knack for online marketing, then it follows that this book is worth it. Numerous topics with do’s and don’ts included, Edie really did her best to cover the gamut of social media marketing.

Which of these books do YOU want for Christmas? Or maybe there’s a book you want that I didn’t list? 

Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Steps to Create an Author Brand

December 4th, 2014 | Career, Marketing and Platforms | 2 Comments

literary agentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The past few Thursdays we’ve been talking about creating an author brand. The main points of the posts have been:

1. Your books are not your brand. YOU are your brand. Your brand infuses your books and not the other way around.

2. You can be the one to determine what your brand is.

3. If you don’t determine your brand, others will do it for you…and you probably won’t like the result (after all, most of us want to be known for more than physical traits such as “blond” or “tall” or “old” or … you get the picture).

We touched on a few of the questions that you need to ask in order to discover what kind of an author brand will work for you, such as:

– What are my hobbies?

– What is my personality? Am I sassy? Contemplative? Old-fashioned? Radical?

– In what areas am I an expert? What are things that I know more of or do better than others?

– What life experiences have I had that stand out?

Once you’ve identified what kind of a brand you want to give yourself, how do you implement it? How do you go from being an author, to a brand?

1. Look your brand. Let’s say that you have skills in refurbishing and decorating vintage pieces. Your fiction always tends to be set in vintage eras (or it focuses on characters who appreciate that style) and so you feel having a vintage brand will carry throughout your career. Now, you could go around living life as normal. OR you could replace your professional wardrobe with vintage clothing, update your online spaces to have clear vintage themes, adopt some vintage phrases, and so on. By doing this you are connecting the dots for your readers, and you’re also making it easy for fans of all things vintage to gravitate toward you.

2. Talk your brand. In the above example I mentioned that someone with a vintage brand could adopt some vintage sayings. But “talking your brand” goes beyond that. In interviews, on panels, and in discussions with readers, you want to drive your brand home. So let’s say your brand is “the MMA pastor.” In interviews and conversations, you don’t want to just talk about your book or your career, you want to talk about MMA! Talk about your favorite matches and share experiences you’ve had in the ring (do MMA matches happen inside a ring??).

3. Expand your brand. Let’s say you’ve started talking and looking the part, but thanks to social media, readers are looking for an experience. There is a huge opportunity to make your brand bigger than you and your career. Instead of always focusing on you and your life and how it ties into your brand, you want to be aware of the lifestyle that is associated with your brand.

There is a very specific lifestyle (a set of likes, dislikes, events, groups, blogs, etc) associated with “vintage.” There’s another lifestyle associated with “MMA.” Let’s say that the brand you’ve given yourself is the “Fashionista author”. There is an entire world of fashion that goes way beyond your books and career and small corner of the Web. You want to be aware of this bigger world and take part in it. You want to share pertinent news about this world with your followers. You want to know what’s going on. And you want to connect with those who are also influencers within that corner of the web. By doing this, you’re expanding your brand into something much greater, and that’s a powerful thing!

4. Develop brand standards. Every company worth its weight has a set of brand standards, which is literally a book or document that details out what’s okay and what’s not when it comes to marketing, logo, communications, etc. These things are usually super detailed, going so far as to identify which fonts can be used on various publications. While you don’t need to go that far, you should have a set of rules for yourself. A system of checks and balances so that you don’t find yourself straying from your brand. Because believe me, when life takes a turn, it’s so easy to start blogging and Tweeting about those personal things when it’s all you can think of. But your audience doesn’t care about those things! So you want to limit the amount of time spent talking about the “randoms” of life or things non associated with your brand and balance that with plenty of content that provides the takeaway your readers are looking for.

5. Have fun with your brand. Your brand should be something that feels comfortable. Natural. And yes, while we talked about changing your look and online approach to better embody your brand, it shouldn’t be a fish-out-of-water experience. Your brand is built from YOU. So it should be fun! And spending time in your brand’s world should in a sense be a natural extension of who you are. So, don’t sweat the small stuff. Be yourself. Be your brand. And it’ll come together!

Any questions?! Let me know!