Category : Marketing and Platforms

  • August 23, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Use Tumblr to Grow an Author Platform


    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.

    We’ve talked before about blogging, but this week I wanted to cover something called microblogging.

    Microblogging is exactly what it sounds like…it’s a smaller, more condensed form of blogging. Images are usually the focus of such microblogs, but they can also be text-based.

    Here are some of my favorite microblogs:

    • KateMiddletonForTheWin – I have a major girlcrush on Kate. But these make me laugh every time.
    • SlushPile Hell – I wish I would have thought of this first.
    • Clients From Hell – Maybe it’s my marketing background that makes this microblog so appealing? I don’t think any of the microposts surprised me. They just fueled my rage.

    By now you should have a small understanding of microblogging…short posts, centered around a theme (whether visual or theoretical). And if you noticed, each of the examples I gave use Tumblr as their site’s service provider. It’s really the leading host for this approach to blogging.

    Okay, so why should authors care about microblogging?

    1. It’s quick. Constructing a traditional blog post can take hours, depending on how finicky you are. Microblogging takes a fraction of that time, using a fraction of those words.
    2. It’s focused. I know I keep hounding you about having a goal…well, microblogging is a great example of a medium that simply won’t work without a goal. It practically forces you to choose a topic, preventing you from microblogging about flowers one day, Mozart the next, then your dog, then your deep thoughts on black holes followed by a reposted tribute to AC/DC.
    3. It’s clean. No fancy backgrounds. No design expertise needed. Just clean and simple…ideal for the digital n00b.

    But how can Tumblr and microblogging

    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: How to Use Tumblr to Grow an Author Platform"
  • August 22, 2012

    Where do I start marketing my book? (Part Three)


    We’ve been talking about the beginning steps for someone who has a book releasing. The past two days we looked at some very basic things to help you start marketing your book. A few more thoughts (then I’ll turn it over to Amanda, who has MUCH more to say on marketing.)

    A seventh thought: If you’re going to rely on social media, get some video together to help promote it. When you look at the growth of YouTube and other video-sharing sites on the web, you can see the direction advertising on the web is going. We’re a visual society, so you want people interacting with your words and seeing the big story. You may also want to at least consider buying web ads on the sites those potential readers visit. Don’t assume it’s too expensive until you’ve checked it out — those are basically cheap space ads, and some of them are seen by more people than the space ads in trade journals. (Again, you probably realize this, but many sites have “pay-per-click” ads, which cost nothing unless an interested reader actually clicks on the ad to read more about your book.)

    Eighth, if you’re writing non-fiction, or your novel contains material that is related to news in some way, think about creating some articles and posting them. What you’re trying to do is to create buzz, of course. You want people to notice your book, to start talking about it, and to think of you as an expert in the field. There’s a bunch of information available on how to do this — Randy Ingermanson has talked about it on his site, and you’ve probably heard the idea before. If you were doing a novel that focused on a child abduction, you’d do a couple articles on child abductions and how to prevent them. You then post those on sites that draw readers interested in that topic.

    Continue Reading "Where do I start marketing my book? (Part Three)"
  • August 21, 2012

    Where do I start marketing my book? (Part Two)


    Continuing our look at how an author starts the basic process of marketing…

    Fourth, you already know this, and it may seem to simple, but you really need a good website. For some reason there’s been a movement in writing circles about websites being passe. I disagree — a site will give readers a way to find out about you and get introduced to your books. But don’t scrimp here. If you can, work with a pro to get a great web site — something interactive, that puts you in touch with your readers and keeps conversation going. Be sure to include an online store, so that interested readers can buy your books (either directly from you or linked to a web retailer like Amazon or Barnes& I frequently see author sites with no way to purchase books. 

    Fifth, you might need a blog too. It’s not absolutely essential, in that many successful writers don’t keep a blog because they have all their conversations via the website. But if you can create the time to keep it going, consider it. Our culture is in love with interaction, and a blog allows the reader to feel that they get into your life. And that means you’re going to visit other people’s blogs — in fact, you’ll probably want to visit a lot of them. When you’re promoting your book, you’re going to want to participate in as many social media interviews as you can. You’ll go on as your book is releasing, answer questions from people, and chat up your work. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of reading group and book review blogs. It may seem tedious, but you’re going to want to hit as many of them that fit your audience. And, of course, it doesn’t stop there. Once you’re hearing from people on your blog, you need to go back and connect with them, so that you begin

    Continue Reading "Where do I start marketing my book? (Part Two)"
  • August 20, 2012

    Where do I start with marketing my book? (Part One)


    I’ve had several authors ask me about marketing their books recently. May I offer some thoughts?

    First, your publisher isn’t going to do that much marketing. They’ll do some things, since they want to help your book succeed, but you can’t rely on your publisher to take charge of your book marketing. You know the message best. You understand how to talk about it. You have the most at stake. So that means YOU have to take charge of the marketing of your book. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but if you’re waiting for your publisher to create a great plan that will take you to the next level, you may be waiting a long time. Publishers are relying on authors more than ever, they’re not hiring lots more marketing people… and that means the poor publicist who is working on your title is also working on 20 other titles. Show her some love, and say something about how much you appreciate her work, but plan to do your own marketing. Decide right now that you’re going to take charge of marketing for your book.

    Second, you’re probably wondering, How do I do that? Well, you need to become familiar with the process of marketing, so that you can begin to create an actual plan. To start, that means you may have to do some research. Let me suggest a couple books to consider. To understand the basics of marketing, consider reading Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries and Trout, or a marketing textbook like Philip Kotler’s Principles of Marketing. You can also look at a Dummies guide – they have them on marketing, publicity, web marketing, internet marketing, and email marketing. If you want to focus on internet marketing, take a look at David Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR or Mitch Meyerson’s Mastering Online Marketing. For

    Continue Reading "Where do I start with marketing my book? (Part One)"
  • August 16, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 4


    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.

    You have your career focus. You have your brand. So how do you maximize time at a conference and make sure to come away from the event with more readers than when you went in?

    As usual, I’ve got a smattering of ideas…

    How to Promote Yourself at a Writer’s Conference

    1) Go all-out with brand. So let’s say your brand involves wearing purple shoes…that’s how people are going to remember you, and it’s fitting, since you write romantic comedy. All your materials (your business cards, one-sheets, web addresses, web sites) should support this brand. This is because people aren’t going to come away from the conference, thinking I really liked Halee Matthews. They’re going to think, I really liked that writer with the purple shoes. And they’ll dig through their stack of cards/one-sheets/odds and ends LOOKING for those purple shoes. If they don’t see them, you’ll disappear.

    2) Meet people. As writers, it’s easy to latch on to one or two people at a conference and call it a day. That’s because most of us are introverts. But if you’re serious about getting people on board with your writing (whether you’re published or unpublished), you need to branch out. Sit at a different table every meal. Form relationships with the people sitting next to you in workshops. Attend the parties and the late-night gatherings. It will be exhausting, but it’s exactly what you need to do to spread awareness.

    3) Talk about yourself. I don’t mean force people to listen to your book premise or your publishing history. I’m just talking about having some rehearsed and appropriate ways of bringing your book up in

    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 4"
  • August 10, 2012

    A guest blog: BookJolt


    Last week I mentioned Athena Dean, who founded WinePress Publishing. She got in touch with me to tell me what she’s doing these days, and I thought you’d find it interesting. So today’s guest blog comes from Athena, who has helped coach authors through the daunting task of book production, publicity, advertising, and promotions as they try to find success with their self-published books… 

    The Power of Free: Promotion Your Way

    Recently I canvassed some successful authors and learned that one-third of those surveyed absolutely hate promotion. Some called it their biggest frustration as a published author. I don’t blame them. For many, promotion can be a frustrating and a hard-to-measure endeavor — but it’s necessary if a book project is to achieve success. I think Bob Mayer and Jen Talty sum up the importance of promotion in The Shelfless Book: The Complete Digital Author: “Content is King and Promotion is Queen: together they rule the publishing world. Today, you really can’t afford one without the other.”

    Contrary to the experience of many, promotion doesn’t have to be agonizing. Not long ago I got together to brainstorm with a couple of friends of mine—the Miller brothers, whose minds run on wired-to-promote tracks. For years the Miller brothers have dreamed of giving their books away for free in a format that could go viral and create visibility and a platform for their other books. As award-winning Warner Press authors of young adult fiction and technology, as well as design and marketing experts, they are passionate about getting their books—and the books of other authors—in front of the right audiences. My experience as head of a publishing company has been in coaching hundreds of authors through production, publicity, advertising and promoting of their book products. So when Christopher and Allan Miller and I started talking about implementing our ideas about how to make promotion easier for other authors, the light bulb went

    Continue Reading "A guest blog: BookJolt"
  • August 9, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 3


    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.

    Last week, we started to touch on brand and how a great brand can help you stand out at a conference. If you didn’t catch his posts, Chip’s been talking about brand as well over the past few days. His first post on author branding is here and his second is here.

    Take a minute to read through those. There’s quite a bit of good content there, and “brand” really is so important these days.

    So clearly, one of the first things you want when promoting yourself at a conference, is a brand. A promise. Clarity on who you are as a writer and what kind of content you produce. Whether you’re published or not, the same is true…you want to communicate what you’re about so that the right readers and the right supporters are attracted to you.

    Which leads us to not only a vital piece of the conference puzzle, but a major piece of the author career puzzle: who is your target audience? and what is your genre?

    The last thing you want is to walk around a conference, declaring yourself the author of historicals, YA, thrillers and picture books. Not only will your conference experience lack focus, but every professional who comes in contact with you won’t take you seriously. And every potential reader you meet is going to wonder whether they’ll have to wade through a bunch of historical or YA muck to get to your Thriller stuff (and so on).

    I argue this at least once every conference when meeting with authors…careers aren’t made by dabbling in multiple genres. Careers are made by focusing on ONE genre, to ONE audience type.

    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 3"
  • August 8, 2012

    What else does an author need to know about branding?


    More thoughts on branding for authors…

    6. Clarifying your brand is crucial. Figure out what need your writing addresses, what connection you make with readers, what defines you as a writer. Branding consultants are always asking, “What’s your core message?” I believe a brand comes from the inside out — it’s not something imposed onto your work (“I’m going to try and sound deep”), but instead is rooted in your unique voice and message. Your brand is a natural extension of who you are, so think about how you’re different and what you want to be known for. Once you figure it out, you work that brand consistently.

    7. Branding means being both unique and consistent. You can’t really be “the Queen of the Cozy Mystery” — Agatha Christie sewed that up 40 years ago. You need to figure out what’s unique, what is different, and then you need to hammer away at that same message again and again. Talk it through with marketing and sales in advance of your next release. Be sure the packaging reflects your brand. Get the word out with every editor and author. Focus on your brand with every media contact (rather than only talking about your immediate release). Target specific audiences who will be receptive to your brand, rather than aiming for a wide audience. Look for groups who should be reading your books, prioritize them, and find avenues for reaching them. You want to be clear and concise (most authors spend far too many words trying to describe their brand) and consistent in pushing your brand. And remember to show evidence for your brand; don’t just make a claim (“The best romance writer on the planet” probably won’t fly with readers unless you can buttress that claim with awards, acclaim, and sales numbers).

    8. Branding may not be for you. You may not be ready to brand yourself. Maybe you’re currently working in

    Continue Reading "What else does an author need to know about branding?"
  • August 7, 2012

    Do I need to have a writing “brand”?


    I’ve had several people ask me for my thoughts on branding (currently a hot topic among authors and publishers). Some folks wanted it defined, others were looking for how-to’s, and still others are trying to weigh various interpretations of what branding means for authors. It seems like most of the information writers share about branding is a bit vague, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to clarify the topic a bit.

    1. Make sure you understand what a “brand” is. In simple terms, a brand for an author is “what you are known for” or “what a reader has in mind when he or she walks into a bookstore and sees your book.” I once met with a branding consultant to talk about his doing a book, and when I asked him to define a brand, he said to me, “In many ways, a brand is nothing more than a series of perceptions people have about you.” So think about that for a moment… What perceptions do readers have about your from your books? If they were to read three or four of your books, what images/themes/messages/genres would they come away with?

    2. A brand is like a promise. That branding specialist told me that one of the common phrases used by marketing consultants is that “a brand is a promise consumers believe in.” If you make them a promise to readers that you’re always going to deliver a taut action thriller with cheeky heroes and conspiracy overtones, you have to deliver that every time. So ask yourself… Are you ready to do that? Do you want to focus your writing so that book buyers know what to expect when they see your name on store shelves? Can you clarify what your brand is right now?

    3. A great brand makes selling easier. A brand establishes a comfort level with readers. It fosters a relationship with loyal customers

    Continue Reading "Do I need to have a writing “brand”?"
  • August 3, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 2



    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.

    I’m doing the conference thing again this week, so I’m going to continue the discussion on promoting yourself at a conference with a little story…

    Long, long ago, at an ACFW far, far away, there was a young woman with purple shoes. Now these weren’t just any purple shoes; they were magic purple shoes. Shoes that caused every agent and editor in the land to take notice of this young, unpublished writer.

    Now ACFW was full of blossoming writers–writers with hopes and dreams. Writers who threatened to steal the attention of the agents and editors. But as dusk turned to dawn on the final day of ACFW and the agents and editors went back to their homes and families, there was one aspiring author who the agents and editors remembered. One who stood out among all of the new writers in the land.

    It was the girl with purple shoes. Because not only had she worn purple shoes…her business card and website also carried her purple shoe brand.

    Let this be a lesson to you … branding can help you stand apart from the crowd. Even if you’re a new writer. And if you’re consistent with it…if you let it infiltrate your online presence, agents and editors will take note. Just like we at MacGregor Literary and some editors at big CBA houses took note of Halee Matthews, the girl with the purple shoes.

    What are your ideas for making yourself stand out at conference? It doesn’t have to be a physical trait…it can be a great book title, a tagline…really anything that’s different and unique but still professional.


    Continue Reading "Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 2"