Promotion and marketing are ongoing tasks for writers. What’s the difference between them? I’m not a marketing major, but I’ve been doing my own marketing and promotion for years. I have my own way of defining them.
I promote my books. I market my author name/brand to build my platform.
For me, marketing is the overall strategy of building my platform. Promotion, on the other hand, is the overall strategy of selling a particular book.
There isn’t anything technically accurate about this definition. It’s just the way I separate the two in my mind.
There are things I do on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis that I call maintenance marketing for writers.
The goal of these tasks is to provide content to my platform on a regular basis as well as attract new readers to find and follow me. Then, when I’m promoting a new book, the additional book-centric content is a natural continuation of what I’m already doing.
I used to spend a few hours every day on social media sites, but a while back, I found myself wondering if it was all worth it. I wasn’t engaging with people as much, and I drastically cut back on sharing content. The majority of my time was spent merely scrolling through my feeds.
I wasted a lot of time. The problem wasn’t social media. It was me.
In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to make more of an effort. It felt daunting. Plus, I no longer had a few hours each day to spend on social media. As I’ve mentioned here before, last year I decided to push myself to reach higher annual writing goals, which meant doing the bare minimum on social media.
My default has become putting in a consistent effort on my fave sites–Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter–for a month or two, but inevitably, a deadline or a persnickety manuscript will keep me offline for days at a time.
Twitter, especially, used to be my favorite site to hang out on. Then it got overwhelming trying to keep up with my lists. And when I stopped keeping up with them, I no longer “got” Twitter.
But I want to get it.
I’m working on ways to be more consistent there, which led me back to a few blogs I’d bookmarked. If you’re interested in reviving (or starting) your Twitter engagement, here are the articles I thought you might enjoy. The first two are over a year old, but they’re worth reading.
I used to schedule tweets using Buffer, and it worked well for me. On the days I was too busy to post, Buffer did it for me. Bottom line: I’m going to start doing that again.
One of the reason I enjoy using Buffer is that it kicks me in the pants to read industry blogs and retweet them. I follow a lot of blogs, but rarely read them. Enter Feedly. By going to Feedly, I can scroll through the titles and quickly read/share the ones I find useful.
As far as apps to use Twitter, I’ve gone back and forth using Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, and I always fall back on Tweetdeck. It’s a personal preference. I recommend finding the app that will make Twitter most engaging for you and sticking with it. Hootsuite does allow you to share one post across multiple platforms. I know Tweetdeck used to allow you to automatically share tweets to your Facebook timeline, but I don’t know if that feature is still available. A quick internet search didn’t provide answers, either.
In my opinion, the key to Twitter is responding to mentions, sharing engaging content, and following back when someone follows you. I realize Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming pay to play sites, but they’re still worth it for me to spend time there now.
Schedule tweets in advance using Buffer.
Aim to interact on Twitter for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the afternoons on most weekdays.
Once or twice a month, read through Feedly to find blog posts to share.
That’s it. Pretty simple. :)
Do you use Twitter? What do you like about it? What are your best tips?
If you don’t use it, why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
One of the essentials of an author platform is establishing a mailing list. The easiest way to do this is to sign up with one of the numerous newsletter providers.
I confess I resisted starting a newsletter list for a long time.
When I was an aspiring writer:
I felt I had little to offer. Why would anyone want my newsletter?
There were so many newsletter providers to choose from. How would I know which one to pick?
I feared the entire process would be time consuming and nerve wracking.
I was wrong.
With so many great providers to choose from, there’s no reason not to start building an email list today–no matter how far along you are on your publishing path. Most newsletter services offer free, limited accounts. They also have easy-to-use templates, scheduling options, sign-up widgets for your website, ways to import or export subscriber lists, and segmenting capabilities.
I recommend looking ahead before signing up with a provider. Hopefully, at some point, you’ll have enough subscribers to move out of the free account. That’s why it’s important to research the costs involved when you’re just starting out.
Be aware that most providers fall into one of two camps.
They charge you based on your subscriber list and allow unlimited emails.
They charge you based on how many emails you send per month.
If you only send newsletters once or twice a year, you’re probably better off paying per email.
I’m writing a first draft. I’m not a fast drafter, and I’m not a revise-as-you-go writer either. I’m somewhere in between.
There are days when I have to glue myself to the chair in order to achieve my word count goal. I should have invested in superglue this week. Yikes. The first fifty pages are slow and torturous for me.
Each writing session starts with a review of the previous scene. Weaknesses glare at me. I tidy up the details before writing a new scene.
Here are the weaknesses I’m fighting in this book:
I could write this post today with no changes. These are still my essentials for author websites.
Here is a snippet:
Often I’ll see writers commenting on blogs, and I’ll click through their profile to check out their blog/website, leave a comment, or e-mail them. I add them to my social networks too.
That’s why I’m surprised when I see very basic “musts” (in my humble opinion, at least) overlooked. You’d be shocked at how many writers don’t include an e-mail address anywhere on their site. Agents and editors DO occasionally contact authors from websites. I contact writers from their websites. No e-mail? Missed opportunity. With the countless free e-mail services out there, I don’t understand why a writer would omit this.
What about failing to engage readers? I’ve wanted to respond to blogs where comments were either turned off or only allowed by team members. Again, this doesn’t make sense to me. If you want readers to connect with you, you have to provide them ways to do this.
Another problem? No spelled out reason for me to be on the site. If you’re a writer and you’re trying to build a platform, you need to be bold and tell everyone you’re a writer and what you write. Don’t make them guess!
I’m so pleased to have author Barbara M. Britton as my guest today! Barbara writes Christian fiction, and her new book Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journeyreleases December 1! More information is below. :)
How a Tech-Challenged Author Navigates a 21st Century Marketing World
I’ll be honest. Technology scares me. I grew up with carbon paper and copy machines. My typing skills are hunting and pecking on steroids. Woe to the registrar who put me in freshman biology instead of typing class. Who knew I would someday be an author in the world of social media. How do I get the word out about my books? I work within my comfort zone and rely on friends to help me with the rest.
Remember the world I grew up in? We had phones, but we didn’t have texting or instant messaging. I love to talk on the phone. I use that to my advantage. I call reference librarians in my area and tell them about my books. If the library is nearby, I show up—in person. A local author in the flesh. As a youngster, I went door-to-door selling Campfire Girl mints. If I could talk to strangers when I was ten, I can do it now.
With my limited graphic design skills, I create a simple information sheet about my book. This sheet includes my cover art, blurb, ISBN, distribution channels, publisher information, and a short bio about me. This sheet is something I can e-mail to a librarian or book store. I also carry them into places of interest. My sheet isn’t the fanciest, but it relays the necessary information about my book.
When I need swag (bookmarks, postcards) or advertisements, I hire my friends to create the designs. Some even do the printing. Does this take money? Yes, it does. I tell aspiring authors who have limited tech skills like me, to save those tax refund checks, or scrimp away funds for the day you will need some help. I wish I had the ability to change advertisement dimensions or place graphics and text on small bookmarks, but I don’t. The money I spend for awesome-looking graphics, saves me a technology meltdown.
Remember those Campfire mints I sold? My mom would wrap boxes for Valentine’s Day and take me to the BART station. We would sell chocolate to forgetful husbands. Did this increase sales? You bet. Today, I show up where booksellers and readers are waiting to hear about books. I find out about local book festivals or library conferences and reach out to see if I can show up and teach a workshop or talk about the publishing industry. We can call this skin-on marketing. Building relationships with people who love books is setting a foundation for future interactions—and possibly future sales.
I still engage in social media marketing, but I do the ones that I enjoy, and the ones that I have time to manage. After all, writing my next book is a priority. Staring at a computer screen, no matter how full of pretty pictures it is, eats away at my writing time.
Use the strengths God has given you to promote your stories. May you enjoy your writing journey and make new friends as you launch your books into this high-tech world.
Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.
Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey
When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David.
Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever?
Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise.
Purchase Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey now! Click HERE
Check out the trailer for The Tribes of Israel series–wow!
Do you consider yourself tech-challenged? What is your best marketing tip?
Have a terrific weekend!!
Reminder: I’ll Be Home for Christmas, the bestselling, four-novella collection of inspirational romance I contributed to, is only 99 cents! Click HERE to buy it!
I have been blogging for eight years! Can you believe it? I can’t!
Last night I was browsing Feedly, my preferred reader, to catch up on blogs. I came across Elizabeth Spann Craig’s, Long-Term Blogging, Part 1, and I realized she and I began blogging around the same time. I decided to check the date of my very first post, back when I used Blogger, and yep, there it was. August 7, 2008!
I added up all the posts from my Blogger site and from this blog, and I’ve written 1020 posts.That doesn’t include all the ones I’ve written as a guest or for my group blogs. Wow!
Way back when I wrote my first post, I had no idea if I would blog more than a year. Finding an audience took time, and it seemed as though every other blogger had a much bigger following than I did. But I decided I didn’t care, and I forged ahead.
A few bloggers helped me by sharing advice. “Add a Followers button so people can get your new posts.” “Put share buttons in your sidebar.” “Decide on a posting schedule.” And I learned from other bloggers, Jody Hedlundin particular. Within a short amount of time, I’d made online writer friends, some of whom would become my critique partners, and many would remain good friends.
Announcements were made in those years. I cheered as my friends got agents and contracts. But I also fought sadness as my day never came. But I pressed on. And on. And my knowledge grew. I understood about building a platform and was happy to share what I learned. My writing grew as I studied the craft and continued to write book after book.
And then one day it happened. I finally had good news to share. I’d landed an agent! And more years would go by before that wonderful first contract offer. Still, I kept blogging.
But then something happened. A lot of blogs disappeared.
Oh, the blogs were still there out in cyberspace, but new posts? Nope. Many bloggers who I connected with in those early years quit posting for various reasons. I wondered if it was worth it to continue. My comments dwindled, but each post still had plenty of hits. Obviously, people were reading it, so why wouldn’t I keep writing posts?
I love blogging. I haven’t been as consistent this year–sometimes I skip Fridays!–but I still love it.
Here’s to eight years of blogging! Thank you for being a part of it!!
What draws you to a blog? What keeps you coming back?
Here’s the thing. I’m not one of those people who secretly wishes to try out for American Idol. Yeah, I can be a goofball, but when my friend called, saying she wanted to schedule me on two morning television shows, my inner show-off went in hiding.
I’d be nervous. I’d talk too fast. I’d say odd things! In other words, I’d turn into a complete spaz!And for real, what was I going to wear??
I spend most of my days in jeans, yoga pants or shorts. Dress up clothes don’t really exist in my wardrobe. Guess who finds shopping super stressful? Yeah, that’s me!
Then I mentally slapped myself. I’m a big believer in making the most of opportunities. My friend had gone out of her way to arrange this, and there was no way I was going to say no out of fear.
So I went shopping. Found three dresses I liked, but they made me look bulky. I realized a cute blue dress I’d purchased for a wedding would work just fine.
When I arrived at the studio, everyone was so friendly. The interviewers made me feel comfortable, and I didn’t sound like a complete weirdo! Bonus!
It was a really fun day, and I will always remember it. If you ever get a chance to do something out of your comfort zone, I hope you’ll shush your inner critic. Get out there and try! You might have fun!
Have you ever debated turning down an opportunity out of fear? How did you get through it?
There are a few days left to enter my month-long giveaway of the Unexpected Family gift package! Click on my HOMEpage and scroll down for the entry options!
I’m always looking for a better, faster and cheaper way to do things. The last four years have seen huge improvements in tools authors use to promote their books.
4 Promotion Tool Improvements for Writers
1. Templates for business cards
Three years ago I ordered my first business cards. First, I browsed Vistaprint’s site. None of their templates could be customized the way I wanted, so I designed my own using free software, and then uploaded it to the print site. Let’s just say it took a while!
The other night I decided to order new business cards, and I was pleasantly surprised to see all of the customizable templates Vistaprint now offers.
What took me hours in the past took minutes this time around.
2. Graphic design software
When I designed my first website seven years ago, I wanted a pretty header that reflected my brand. I quickly learned it would be time consuming and difficult to do it myself. I didn’t own Photoshop, and the free software I found had a steep learning curve.
Now just about anyone can create free or inexpensive graphics for their blogs and websites with graphic design software such as PicMonkeyor Canva. With the popularity of Instagram and Pinterest, it’s vital to have visually appealing graphics.
3. Giveaway Tools/Generators
Sites such as Rafflecopter, Giveaway Tools and PromoSimple make hosting a giveaway easy, AND they do the hard work for the author. In less than ten minutes, you can create a giveaway and set the guidelines for entries. If you’re trying to get more Facebook likes on your page, make it an entry option. Same for Twitter, Pinterest, subscribing to your blog, and more. These sites will collect your entries and randomly pick a winner when the contest ends. Perfect!
**Go to my Home page to see an example of Giveaway Tools, scroll down and enter my giveaway for a gift package!**
4. Visual Social Media Widgets
Social media sharing has been around for a long time, but many of the top sites offer improved visual widgets to include on your site. I love that!
Goodreadsallows authors to share a variety of widgets, from giveaways (see mine in the sidebar–I’m giving away four copies of Small-Town Bachelorthis month!) to your available books.