Archive for the ‘Marketing and Platforms’ Category

Thursdays with Amanda: Helpful Tools for Building, Hosting, and Designing Author Websites

September 18th, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms, Web/Tech | 5 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.

 

 

A funny thing happened the moment I joined MacGregor Literary. Okay, maybe it wasn’t the moment I joined. Could have been a moment or two later.

Anyway, I became the “tech person.”

Due to what was probably a massive dose of ageism and the fact that I knew how to blog on WordPress (whoopty-do), I was soon the de facto knower of all things tech. So, whenever our website broke, the solution was to call Amanda. Or the posts weren’t showing up like they should–call Amanda. Or we needed to set up some kind of new account or change something on our site or figure out why in the world Twitter was being crazy–call Amanda.

Eventually, this responsibility was shared with another within our company, and rightfully so. Because here’s the truth…

I know little-to-nothing about tech stuff. I can’t write or read HTML. I have no idea what “Nameservers” actually means. Or if I’ve even spelled it correctly. I can barely navigate GoDaddy (in my defense, it’s the least intuitive, clunkiest website ever), and I’ve just now gotten the hang of a few website building tools through WordPress…and only because I painstakingly replicated what I saw a REAL webmaster do.

And yet…I’m one of the go-to tech people.

Yay me.

My husband always gets a kick out of this, because when setting up electronics or the like, I’m the type to refer to wires as “the blue one” and “the spirally short one,” whereas he says “input” and “output” or something of the sort. Or for the longest time I thought the universal hyperlink icon was a paperclip. A PAPERCLIP, PEOPLE! It didn’t dawn on me that the icon for “linking things” was a chain link (duuurr). So there I was, telling people to “click on the paperclip.”

THE SECRETS TO MAKING PEOPLE THINK YOU KNOW MORE ABOUT TECH AND WEBSITE STUFF THAN YOU ACTUALLY DO

I feel that on this blog I tend to come across as someone who knows a lot about the tech side of things. But clearly from the stories I’ve shared above, I don’t. What I do know has been the result of me forcing myself to learn. I didn’t grow up with the Internet or even a computer. But I’ve adapted. And I can now pose as a tech person even though what I really do is poke around and try things until I either figure out (*cough* Google *cough*) a solution or realize I’m in over my head.

Here are a few of my not-so-secret secrets:

1. I’m really really really good at Google searches

2. I’m great at following directions

3. I don’t have this mindset that I’ll “break” the Internet or whichever program I’m using

4. I’m not afraid to ask for help

5. I realize that this can be learned…but I won’t be an expert right away. I allow myself time and I go at my own pace.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BUILDING AN AUTHOR WEBSITE (WEB HOSTING, WEB DESIGN, SITE CREATION)

Okay, all this to say that I’ve been working on setting up a website for awhile, but again…since I know almost NOTHING, and since I want my site to be AWESOME, I figured I’d start at the beginning.

I need to figure out what program I’m going to use for my site (WordPress? or something else?). And where I’m going to host it (apparently, hosting outside of WordPress is cheaper and better for IT problems, and other reasons that I don’t really know right now). AND I need to figure out where to get a template (pretty design) so that I don’t have to conform to pre-made templates and can ensure my site has what I want it to have.

To get started, I rallied the troops.

I posed the question on Facebook, and here are some of the recommended sites, hosting services, etc. Just in case you too are in the market for a website and don’t know anything about anything.

Suggestions for Website Hosting

GoDaddy.com – Despite the many recommendations, I’ve used them before and don’t like them. They’re tricky to navigate. Not intuitive at all, so I won’t be using them.

Hostgator.com – This got a few mentions

BlueHost.com – This one also was mentioned more than once

TigerTech.com

iPage.com

DreamHost.com

HostMonster.com

GreenGeeks.com

 

Suggestions for Web Hosting and Building (or just site building/maintenance)

Squarespace.com – Seems to be a site for those who like to be cutting edge, but we’ll see

WordPress.com – This was the most-mentioned for website management and creation, though many self-hosted elsewhere (list above)

Weebly.com – apparently good for ecommerce, this seemed to be the second most popular format

Wix.com

Medium.com

 

Suggestions for Web Themes

ElegantThemes.com(a WordPress Theme site) – Lots of recommendations for this one

WordPress.com – Many used the free themes and tweaked them. In fact, quite a few people said that at some point they have used WordPress all the way for hosting, templates, and maintaining their site.

StudioPress.com (a WordPress Theme site) – This also had many recommendations

MichaelHyatt.com (a WordPress Theme site) – he has a theme service called Get Noticed that someone recommended

 

So…that’s a lot to wade through. But we’re going to do it together! Over the next few weeks, I’m going to research these suggestions and present my findings on this blog (Thursdays). Then, I’ll let you know what I end up going with! And if you want to help and do some research of your own, all the better. Share your results here. I’m going to start by researching the hosting sites, since that’s usually step 1 (along with figuring out where you’re going to buy your domain…my plan is to buy from the hosting site).

Are you in the market for an author website or maybe a new design? Or a new hosting service? Tell me about it!

author website book

Thursdays with Amanda: How to Effectively Communicate Your Author Platform–No Matter How Big or Small

September 4th, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 8 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.

I’m sure you’ve been in this position: You’re sitting across from an agent or editor. And despite their attempts at making it a comfortable meeting, you’re experiencing a range of emotion. Panic. Confidence. Fear. Hope. Anxiety. Not to mention the shaking. Or the muddled thoughts. Or the ohmygosh she didn’t even look at my one-sheet.

And then the bomb drops…the agent/editor asks about platform.

If you have a massive platform, then chances are you totally nailed this. But if your platform is anything less than massive, then things don’t go as well as planned. You’ve been preparing for this moment, but you quickly realize that your rehearsed platform monologue isn’t working. And then the questions come, and you find that you don’t have the answers. Or maybe you do, but they’re not coming out as confidently as you’d hoped. And regardless of whether you come away with a rejection or a request to send the proposal, if you’re like me, you’re thinking about what went wrong. How things could be better. And what the heck do these people want from me?!

5 Things Agents or Editors DON’T Want to Hear When Asking About Author Platform

1. Yearly stats. When your blog numbers aren’t that impressive, it’s understandable that you’d want to try and put them in the best light. The primary way authors do this is by communicating yearly blog or website numbers as opposed to monthly. So, instead of 500 unique visitors every month, they would say something like 6000 unique visitors…and leave it at that. The problem is that we WILL ask for clarification. Yearly blog or web stats mean nothing to agents and editors. It’s all about the monthly stats, because books aren’t necessarily promoted year-round by publishers. They have a 4-month (or so) window. So it’s all about MONTHLY stats. And it’s so very helpful when authors understand this and then give us the information we need up front. Even if it makes their blog look smaller.

2. Page Views. Another way to make a blog seem more trafficked is to talk about page views as opposed to unique visitors. The unique visitor stats track individuals that frequent the website on a monthly basis. Each person (or IP address) gets counted once. Each time a person clicks a new page on the site, that gets tracked with the page views.  Therefore page view stats are always higher than unique visitors, and it’s tempting to focus on the bigger number when trying to impress. Please don’t! In the industry, we talk in terms of unique visitors. We’re only interested in page views if you can prove that a majority of people who come to your site are spending lots of time on each page (5 or more minutes) and clicking around a lot. Then you’d mention those stats as a sidenote.

3. International stats. I’ve noticed that those with smaller blogs and website presences will almost always say something like “there are people in Russia reading my blog! And China!” I realize it’s exciting to think that you have an international readership. But having a handful of non-US readers doesn’t mean anything to an agent or editor. In fact, those readers are probably robots or scammers who are out to flood your site with spam. So, only bring up international readers if you have sizable following in a particular country. “Sizable” is relative, but we can say 15-20% is a good rule of thumb.

4. What your fans are saying. I get this a lot from published authors…when talking about platform, they want to include their fanbase (which is great!). But they tend to focus on the handful of emails they’ve received in which fans have requested sequels or spin-offs. And the authors present this to me as though it’s evidence that said sequels and spin-offs will do well! Unless you have thousands of people requesting the same type of book, this data isn’t worth mentioning. You are welcome to talk about how much fan mail you get, provided it’s a decent number (a few hundred emails/letters/notes per month), but please avoid using a few fan emails as evidence of a large following.

5. Look at my website. It’s common for authors who aren’t sure what to say, or how to communicate their platform, to want to pull up their website and social media to show it to me. They may even want to show me their analytics or the prototype for their new site. While your online platform may be pretty to look at and well-done, it doesn’t sell your platform. And I also don’t want to work with someone who will simply give me their Analytics login and tell me to “have at it.” Now rest assured, we ABSOLUTELY look at websites and online presence. But we do so on our own when we’re evaluating whether or not we’d be a fit. Or, we do so if the conversation naturally progresses in that direction. So don’t feel as though you need to show us those spaces in order to get us to look at them. We’ll do so on our own. And remember to have a general idea of your stats going into the meeting. Last week’s exercise on focusing your book marketing efforts would be a handy tool in this case.

5 Things Agents or Editors DO Want to Hear When Asking About Author Platform

1. The truth. If you have a small platform, own it. If you need to grow your platform, say so. This prevents us from wasting valuable time with you trying to “fool” me, for lack of a better word, and then me telling you that your platform isn’t big enough. It will help us cut to the chase and focus on your BOOK as well as your ideas for growing your presence.

2. Your goals. Where do you want to be? What social media outlet do you plan to grow? Having a clear set of goals will tell us that you know where you’re headed. It helps us feel as though you have a handle on this platform thing even if your numbers aren’t impressive.

3. Your strategies. In addition to sharing your goals, talk about strategy! So few fiction authors ever talk about this and I think it’s to the detriment of their career. Show me a fiction author who has a tiny platform but LOTS of ideas and strategies for HOW to grow it, and I’m immediately interested. This is really a way for fiction authors to stand out!

4. What’s working. Sure, your stats may be slim, but if you’ve been working on platform for any length of time, you have to be seeing SOME success. Tell me about that. Tell me about the instances in which you obtained 100 new Facebook likes in a few days. Or when you had a Tweet or video see tons more traction than usual. Talk about what has gone WELL and how you plan to replicate that or build on it. It shows you have a mind for marketing and thats always an impressive characteristic.

5. A clear sense of understanding what platform is all about. By simply talking knowledgeably about platform, you will put yourself in a favorable light. Having your stats ready, knowing your goals and strategies, knowing what doesn’t work for you and what does, knowing what the experts are saying and also what others in your genre are doing. Being EDUCATED on platform shows us that you really have a chance at making this work and it makes you that much more appealing.

author platform

You Can Do It!

Talking about your platform doesn’t have to be hard or embarrassing or awkward. Even authors with the smallest of platforms can make a big splash if they pay attention to these do’s and don’ts. And DON’T FORGET to include those do’s in your proposals!

Have you struggled with communicating your platform? Or maybe you found a way to present it in a really favorable light? Share your stories!

Thursdays with Amanda: How to Focus Your Book Marketing Efforts

August 28th, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 16 Comments

Amanda Luedeke 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.

Last Saturday and Sunday, we offered our Marketing Seminar first to MacLit clients and then to the general writing public. There was a ton of great content, all focused on book- and brand-marketing. But one theme…one rule seemed to really rise to the top regardless of the topic or who was speaking.

When it comes to book marketing, you don’t need to do everything.

Whenever anyone talks about marketing (myself included), it turns into a kind of free-for-all. We cover Pinterest and YouTube and blogging and Facebook and LinkedIn and Google+ and soon it all seems very overwhelming, and authors come away thinking they need to sign up for this or that or they need to relaunch things that they’d previously abandoned.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We cover all of these topics because there’s no one-size-fits-all marketing approach. What works for one romance novelist won’t work for another. So, we cover the bases in hopes that you will know what to filter out. That you’ll stay abreast of your options, but that you’ll only spend time on the areas that are a fit for YOU and YOUR audience.

But of course, this assumes that you know what those areas are.

Identify the areas in which you’re strongest.

Here’s how we helped the folks at our seminar uncover which areas were working the best for them…

The following is a list of potential author platform areas:

  • Facebook:
  • Twitter:
  • Goodreads:
  • LinkedIn:
  • YouTube:
  • Instagram:
  • Google+:
  • Pinterest:
  • Newsletter:
  • Blog:
  • Website:
  • Articles:
  • Events:
  • Radio:
  • TV:
  • Other:

Go ahead and fill it in with your author platform information. I’ve gone ahead and plugged in mine.

  • Facebook: 1,400 likes
  • Twitter: 1,430 likes
  • Goodreads: my author page has 3 fans; my profile 181 friends
  • LinkedIn: 196 connections
  • YouTube: Nil
  • Instagram: 118 followers
  • Google+: I’m in 302 circles…have 28 people in mine.
  • Pinterest: 276 followers
  • Newsletter: 45-ish names/email
  • Blog: no data (sadly, I don’t have clear access to this blog’s data…defintely something that needs to to be remedied). But I do blog every Thursday, and the content is geared to my audience.
  • Website: ^ditto
  • Articles: I write roughly one article or guest post per month. I imagine those words get in front of 3000 people per year. And those posts and articles are all to industry people (i.e. my target audience). If I were a writer, however, they would NOT count as my target audience because industry people are not the same as readers/fans.
  • Speaking events: 8-12 conferences per year. I estimate I’m in front of (speaking, teaching, etc) an average of 350 people per conference. So, 2,800-4,200 industry people (my target audience).
  • Radio: 2-3 guest podcasts per year.
  • TV: Nil
  • Other: I think that about covers it for me.

Now, analyze what you have.

Here are my thoughts on my data: It’s clear that conferences are one of my top platform components. But they take so much time! Twitter and Facebook are solid spaces for me. Most every other social media outlet was painful to list because the numbers were so small. Shows how little I care about those sites. BUT it was interesting to see how many Google+ followers I have, considering the last time I posted anything to that outlet was when it was in the beta phase some years ago. And clearly I need to get a way to view web stats on ChipMacGregor.com.

Spend your book marketing time wisely.

What’s WORKING for me:

  1. Facebook and Twitter are neck-and-neck. Both need my attention, while nearly every other social media site could be forgotten and ignored as far as I’m concerned.
  2. I know my “Thursdays with Amanda” posts are a chunk of my platform, so even though I don’t have the data right now, I’m going to keep making them a priority.
  3. I need to do more with Google+… the fact that I have the number of followers I do WITHOUT posting anything there for some years is quite shocking. For the record, I HATE Google+. But I can’t argue these numbers.
  4. I need to keep saying yes to article or guest blog openings. The time spent on each article is 1-2 hours, and if it means getting my name/words in front of a few hundred potential fans, then it’s so worth it. Much more so than spending 5 days at a conference and coming away with the same audience numbers.

What’s NOT working for me:

  1. I could drop Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, my newsletter, and Goodreads and not feel any kind of repercussions. (Though it’s worth saying I don’t do much with these sites in general).
  2. It’s clear that radio and TV mean almost nothing to me. And I don’t see a need to try harder in those spaces, because I’m not sure my audience is there anyway.
  3. Conferences and speaking get me in front of the most people, BUT I need to do a lot of them to get the numbers I’m currently getting. And with the time and expense that goes into the book marketingconference circuit, I’m not sure it’s an even payoff. So I need to reevaluate how much time I spend doing conferences, and also what kinds of conferences I’m doing. I need to be pickier. I need to demand more stage-time. And I probably need to create another product or two to sell while there (selling The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform has been great!). Would doing this make conferences more worth it? I don’t know. I guess I’ll take it slow…I have to do SOME conferences. But until I have a strategy, I’m not going to be jumping up and volunteering from here on out.

So I have some clear takeaways here, and also the freedom to say NO to quite a few things. In fact,  I NEED to say no to that which isn’t worthwhile. Otherwise, I run the risk of ignoring the things that are working for me.

And the same goes for you. Marketing does NOT mean doing everything. It means being smart about knowing what works for you and how to leverage those spaces.

What about you?

After doing this exercise, what are your numbers telling you? Any revelations??

ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT TO ENTER THE EXTROVERTED WRITER GIVEAWAY:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke

The Extroverted Writer

by Amanda Luedeke

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursdays with Amanda: THE EXTROVERTED WRITER GIVEAWAY!

August 21st, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 0 Comments

2013amanda2Amanda 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.

I had a few guest posts hit the web this week.

I talked about FINDING TIME FOR BOOK MARKETING over at Routines for Writers.

And if you’ve ever wondered WHAT IS AN AUTHOR PLATFORM, then check out my post on SalomaFurlong.com.

AND while you’re at it, enter to win a FREE copy of The Extroverted Writer!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke

The Extroverted Writer

by Amanda Luedeke

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursdays with Amanda: Book Marketing Challenge, week 3

August 14th, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 3 Comments

2013amanda2Amanda 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.

Last week, I invited all of you to participate in ANOTHER Book Marketing challenge! We did one the week before, and it was so much easier than I think any of us anticipated that I figured we should give it another go.

Truth be told, I’m just trying to get all of you into the habit of doing this :)

Okay, so the rules are that you challenge yourself to complete 5 marketing tasks for your book or author brand (or what-have-you). You then have one week to complete those tasks.

Here’s how I did this week:

5 MORE Marketing tasks for The Extroverted Writer

1. Comment on five blogs (oh yeah…you heard me! I’m upping my game). This was harder than I anticipated, so I ended up commenting on a few blogs and then taking to Twitter. Twitter is much easier to search and find conversations that you can infiltrate. I did this and had great results. My Twitter feed seemed to really be buzzing there for a bit.

2. Look into a Goodreads giveaway (and set one up if possible). Haha I did exactly this…I looked into it. I’m probably going to schedule one in the next week or so.

3. BUY MY WEB DOMAIN!! Time to stop relying on the agency site as my main hub…gonna get my own space. Ugh, I am at times a major deliberator. And I’ve been deliberating about my website for AGES. Who should host? Where should I buy my domain? What template should I use? I’m drowning in my own self-doubt and over-analyzation. Not good, people.

4. Find 2 writer blogs and see about guest posts. Yep, have this lined up. I have two confirmed and two that I sent out feelers for.

5. Post something on my Agent FB page EVERY DAY. I did this, and YOU GUYS, IT WAS AMAZING. Take a look:Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 1.23.10 PM

I also adjusted the price of the ebook version of The Extroverted Writer…I figured it was time to permanently drop it to $2.99!!

Which I think is a deal :)

Slide1

What about you? Did you get your five things done? Do you think you can make this a habit? 

Your last chance to join us!

August 13th, 2014 | Conferences, Marketing and Platforms | 0 Comments

On SUNDAY, August 24, we’re going to host the MacGregor Marketing Seminar, a LIVE version of Amanda’s wonderful Thursday marketing blog, set into a seminar format. Amanda and I will be in Nashville, in a conference room at the Airport Embassy Suites, from 9 to 4, talking with authors about how to create a marketing plan for their books. We’re about ready to create the list of participants, so this is your last chance to join us. Here’s what the outline for our day looks like:

— The New World of Author Marketing — What’s Working (and not working) in Today’s Market
— Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Novel or Nonfiction Book
— Maximizing Your Marketing Reach
— Finding Your Audience and Reaching Your Readers
— Building Your Author Platform (we are bringing in a specialist to offer some advice and direction)
— Choosing the Tools You’ll Use to Promote Your Book
— Getting Recognized in Today’s Market
— The Traditional Marketer, the Freelance Marketer, and the Indie Marketer

We’ll also get into a bunch of discussions on related topics — one of the most fun aspects of doing this type of seminar is the chance to talk with other authors who are going through the marketing process. But that’s our basic outline for the day, and again, we’d love to have you join us.

The cost is just $149 for the entire day. The focus of this day will be on doing something PRACTICAL — not on theory or on promoting a product. We won’t be trying to sell you products or introduce you to some more expensive seminar. Instead, we just wanted to get authors together and have time to explore how a writer can create his or her own marketing plan by focusing on ideas that actually work. I hope you’ll join us. Please let me know if you plan to come by RSVPing me. Thanks, and I hope to see you in Nashville on August 24.

-Chip MacGregor
chip@macgregorliterary.com

Thursdays with Amanda: Book Marketing Challenge, Week 2

August 7th, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 21 Comments

2013amanda2Amanda 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.

So last week I bemoaned my book sales and chalked it up to my overall lack of marketing enthusiasm this summer. To get myself out of the rut, I decided to make a list of five thing that I was going to accomplish to market my book over the next week. I then invited YOU to join in.

5 marketing ideas. 1 week to get them done.

Ten or so of you took me up on the challenge. HOW DID YOU DO? I’m asking you, Diana, Edward, Melissa, Raj, Robin, Chelsea, Rachel, and Saloma? And anyone else out there who played along maybe a bit more unofficially??? Let me know how your week went!

Here are my results…

5 MARKETING TASKS FOR THE EXTROVERTED WRITER

1. Find a blog that I’ve never appeared on before and approach them about doing a post.  Done…we’ll see if they take me up on the offer.

2. Follow up on that article that I wrote for that one online magazine and push them to run it. Done…they’re choosing not to run it :( WAAHHHH!!!

3. Think up an event/party/contest that I can do on social media in the next few weeks. Ugh, will need more time with this. Just can’t think of anything that will be super worthwhile for writers but also doable on my end.

4. Send a newsletter out to all those people who first signed up to be notified when the book released. Let them know it’s now in print. Done!!

5. Find two writer-related blogs and leave comments. Done and done…so easy.

Want to know the crazy thing?? I accomplished three of these tasks yesterday afternoon…and it only took me about 30-45 minutes. I had put them off ALL WEEK because I was convinced they would take lots of time. 

But here’s the truth about marketing: IT NEVER TAKES AS MUCH TIME AS YOU’RE EXPECTING IT TO TAKE.

And when you break your goals down into five simple action steps, things get even easier to accomplish!

So, I’m going to do it again. Another round!

5 MORE Marketing tasks for The Extroverted Writer

1. Comment on five blogs (oh yeah…you heard me! I’m upping my game).

2. Look into a Goodreads giveaway (and set one up if possible).

3. BUY MY WEB DOMAIN!! Time to stop relying on the agency site as my main hub…gonna get my own space.

4. Find 2 writer blogs and see about guest posts.

5. Post something on my Agent FB page EVERY DAY.

 

YOUR TURN! How did this week go? Are you willing to go for a round 2??

You’re invited to our marketing seminar August 24th!

August 4th, 2014 | Conferences, Marketing and Platforms | 0 Comments

On SUNDAY, August 24, we’re going to try something new… The MacGregor Marketing Seminar, a LIVE version of Amanda’s wonderful Thursday marketing blog, set into a seminar format. Amanda and I will be in Nashville, in a conference room at the Airport Embassy Suites, from 9 to 4, talking with authors about how to create a marketing plan for their books. Here’s what our outline looks like:

— The New World of Author Marketing — What’s Working (and not working) in Today’s Market
— Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Novel or Nonfiction Book
— Maximizing Your Marketing Reach
— Finding Your Audience and Reaching Your Readers
— Building Your Author Platform (we are bringing in a specialist to offer some advice and direction)
— Choosing the Tools You’ll Use to Promote Your Book
— Getting Recognized in Today’s Market
— The Traditional Marketer, the Freelance Marketer, and the Indie Marketer

We’ll also get into a bunch of discussions on related topics — one of the most fun aspects of doing this type of seminar is the chance to talk with other authors who are going through the marketing process. But that’s our basic outline for the day, and we’d love to have you join us!

The cost is just $149 for the entire day. Again, the focus of this day will be on doing something PRACTICAL — not on theory or on promoting a product. We just wanted to get authors together and have time to explore how an author can create his or her own marketing plan by focusing on ideas that actually work, so the emphasis will on on what an author can take and do, rather than on theory or philosophy. We hope you’ll join us. Please let me know if you plan to come by RSVPing me. Thanks, and we hope to see you in Nashville on August 24.

-Chip MacGregor
chip@macgregorliterary.com

How I tried to market my memoir and ended up starting a small business (A Guest Post)

August 1st, 2014 | Career, Marketing and Platforms | 2 Comments

UNL_0031Lisa McKay is an author with MacGregor Literary.

One of the things I’ve heard Chip McGregor say more than once when talking about marketing is this: “Find your audience, and then figure out how to go and stand in front of them.”

In 2012, when I published my memoir, Love At The Speed Of Email, that is exactly what I tried to do.

Love At The Speed Of Emailtells the story of two humanitarian workers who mckay_fin_online_72dpidefy the uncertainties of distance and the isolation of working in some of the world’s most remote and challenging corners to build a long distance relationship entirely via email. As they risk love, the narrator struggles to better understand the legacies of her nomadic childhood and find a satisfying answer to that simplest of questions, “where’s home?”

In my thinking, there were two obvious “specialty” audiences for this book – third culture kids (people who grew up like I did, moving a lot) and those in long distance relationships. So one thing I did to try to “stand in front” of people in long distance relationships was self-publish another little book called 201 Great Discussion Questions for Couples in Long Distance Relationships.

201_comps_72dpiThis book is exactly what it sounds like – 201 discussion questions for couples, a bit about my own story, and an excerpt from my memoir. I wrote it and put it up on Amazon with no fanfare, about four months after Love launched.

Much to my surprise, it then started to sell at a modest but steady rate. In 2013, that one little book earned me more than $2000.

In all honestly, I’m not sure it’s done much to boost sales of my memoir (which still sells 20 or so copies a month, but certainly isn’t breaking any records despite recently being honored with a Writers Digest award). However, what 201 Questions has done, is convince me that there is both a need and a market out there for long distance relationship resources. It has helped me realize that my personal relationship experiences and my professional qualifications as a psychologist equip me well to address those needs. It has made me wonder whether I can earn some income off of products related to long distance relationships – income that could free me up in the future to invest in writing more novels or another memoir. It has, in essence, prompted me to start my own small business.

I’d love to be able to tell you that it’s going great and that I’m making money hand over fist.

I can’t.

What I can tell you is that I’m giving this a serious shot.

I’ve started a website for couples in long distance relationships called Modern Love Long Distance.

 I’ve also self-published two additional books in the long distance relationship and online dating space – From Stranger To Lover: 16 Strategies For Building A Great Relationship Long Distance, and Online Dating Smarts: 99 Important Questions To Ask Someone You Meet Online.From_Stranger_To_Lover_cover_small

I have plans for several more books or courses relevant to this market. Some I expect to self-publish, one or two I hope to publish traditionally.

All up, I would liketo be making at least $1500 a month off of my long distance relationship products. I estimate it will take another 6-18 months of hard work on my end before I have a chance of reaching or exceeding that goal. Right now, I’m nowhere even close to that, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll get there even if I put in the hard yards.

I’m OK with that.

I figure I win either way. Even if I don’t start making the money that I’d like to be making off this venture I’ll have learnt a huge amount about business, websites, marketing, and relationships. I’ll have spent time trying to help others in an area where my passions intersect with my skills. That’s all a different sort of valuable than money in the bank and, who knows, I may even sell a couple of memoirs along the way.

Your turn now. Do share, I’d love to hear your stories.

What have you tried to market your books?

Have any of your marketing efforts led you in unexpected directions?

 

Thursdays with Amanda: My Book Sales are Terrible…but I Don’t Care (A CHALLENGE!)

July 31st, 2014 | Marketing and Platforms | 28 Comments

2013amanda2Amanda 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.

There is a major downside to self-publishing. Okay, there’s more than one downside to self-pubbing (just like there’s more than one downside to traditional publishing), but for the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on the one that is staring me directly in the face…

My book sales are bad. But I have the luxury to not care.

And that’s a dangerous, dangerous thing.

As I write this, my print Amazon ranking (if you care about such a thing) is #869,526. Ouch.

My digital Amazon ranking is #244,632. Considering this version is $5, that’s a big YIKES.rsz_images-3

It’s been like this since I took a break from conferences a months ago. Basically, I stopped being visible. I stopped talking about my book (aside from an occasional mention here on this blog), and sales slowed to a pace that would have any publisher going UGH. Except I’m my own publisher. Meaning there’s no one to hold me accountable. No reason for me to change my ways.

But the worst part…the part that is soooo embarrassing is that I really don’t even care.  I don’t have anyone to impress but myself, and right now my self is saying “Meh…we’re not in the mood.”

This is a dangerous spot, and I venture to say that if you’ve published or self-published, YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

This is when careers fizzle out. This is when authors begin to tell themselves “Next time…I’ll do better next time.” And this is when the Book Burden first begins to take shape. You won’t notice it at first, but six months…a year of this kind of mentality and eventually your book will feel like a failed relationship. A blown opportunity. A mark of regret. Something you hate thinking about and yet it always seems to rear its ugly head.

Books shouldn’t feel that way.  We should display them proudly and feel good about how hard we worked to make them what they are.

But how can you get to that place? How can you reinvigorate something that has gone south?

Here’s what I’m going to do…

I’m going to do five small marketing tasks in the next week. That’s it. Just five. And then I’m going to report back here next Thursday with my results.

5 MARKETING TASKS FOR THE EXTROVERTED WRITER

1. Find a blog that I’ve never appeared on before and approach them about doing a post.

2. Follow up on that article that I wrote for that one online magazine and push them to run it.

3. Think up an event/party/contest that I can do on social media in the next few weeks.

4. Send a newsletter out to all those people who first signed up to be notified when the book released. Let them know it’s now in print.

5. Find two writer-related blogs and leave comments.

That’s it. That’s what I’m going to do this week to improve sales. These tasks aren’t hard or overly time-consuming. They’re doable. And right now, doable is exactly what I need.

Next week, we’ll see how well I did.

I CHALLENGE YOU TO PARTICIPATE!! What are five small things that you’re going to do this week to promote YOUR book or YOUR brand? List them here and then let’s see how we do!!