• May 29, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Everything You Wanted to Know About PPC Advertising


    2014AmandaAmanda 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.

    Some weeks ago, I talked about keywords and PPC advertising. My husband, who used to be Google-certified (before he switched gears to work in the hobby game industry!), agreed to answer whatever questions you could throw at him to the best of his ability. Remember, his knowledge base is a few years old, and I’m sure things have changed. But I’m also sure that his insight is valuable for any author thinking about doing a PPC ad campaign!

    1. Can you talk about what you did for clients?
    To sum it up, I managed PPC advertising campaigns for several different clients to achieve specific goals. But what does that mean? Here are some definitions:
    What is PPC?
    PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising are those ads that are at the top and/or to the side of the search results page on Google (Bing has it too, but I didn’t work with theirs very much). I created and managed these ads for my clients using the Google AdWords program.
    How does it work?
    Every time anyone uses Google to search for something, PPC ads are triggered based on the words they used to search, also known as keywords. A keyword then tells your Google AdWords account to show the ads that you have created that are linked to that keyword. Each time someone clicks on an ad, you are charged for that click based on the bid you have put on that keyword.
    2.  How much does a solid PPC campaign usually cost?
    It really depends on how competitive
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  • May 28, 2014

    What comes first, the platform or the contract?


    I had several people send in marketing questions recently…

    “In publishing, which comes first — the chicken or the egg? Do we need to have a book published before we start building a platform? Or do we start building a platform before we have a book to push?”

    If the platform is the chicken, it’s definitely the chicken that comes first. If I walk into a publisher’s office with your nonfiction book, the FIRST question he or she will ask is, “What’s her platform?” I can sell good writing and a good idea from an author with a great platform. But it’s tough to sell even great nonfiction writing that comes from an author with no platform. So that’s easy — start building your platform NOW.

    “In laymen’s terms, can you tell me what a marketing platform is?”

    Your platform is a number. In simplest terms, your platform is the number of people you can influence to buy your book — and these days your publisher is going to expect the author to be responsible for about half the overall number of copies sold of your nonfiction book. So add up the people you can influence — the number of people you speak to at conferences, the number who read your blog, the number who get your newspaper column, the number of people in your organization, the number who listen to you on the radio or watch you on TV. All those media contacts you have can be turned into a number — and that’s the number the publisher will look to when they think about selling your book. If it’s a smaller house, they might be hoping to sell four-to-eight-thousand books. (That means you’d have to sell between two-and-four-thousand copies — which is a lot of books.) If it’s a medium sized publisher, they’re looking to sell twelve-to-twenty. If it’s a large publisher, they may only be interested in

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  • May 27, 2014

    What advice would you give to an author thinking about marketing?


    A longtime friend in the industry said she had been reading my blog for years, and decided to put a bunch of thoughts of mine together into an article for her authors who were asking about marketing. This was all built from things I’ve said on my blog numerous times, and I liked what she created, so I decided to reprint it here. Here’s the advice I give to authors wondering about marketing…

    First of all, your publisher isn’t going to do that much marketing. They love you and have invested heavily in your book, and they certainly want to see you succeed, but most of their marketing budget is earmarked for their current bestsellers. So that means YOU, the author, 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 investing in fewer books to market, and they’re not hiring more marketing people… and that means the poor publicist who is working on your title is also working on 20 other titles. Show her (or him) some love, and say something about how much you appreciate her work, but plan to invest in 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.

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  • May 23, 2014

    Seven Things I'm Thinking About on a Friday


    First, big news about an author we represent: thriller Maegan Beaumont’s Carved in Darkness won the IPPY Award Gold Medal in the Suspense/Thriller category. If you haven’t read it, you owe it to yourself to read her gripping, moody novel about a homicide investigator who begins looking into a crime and finding echoes of her own past. Congratulations, Maegan!

    Second, novelist Holly Lorincz took the IPPY bronze medal in the General Fiction category for Smart Mouth — quite an achievement when you consider there were more than 5000 entrants. I have said numerous times that Smart Mouth was one of the best debut novels I’ve ever represented, and I love her story of a shy first-year teacher having to deal with the contemporary problems of small town high schoolers, all while balancing her own relationships and being coerced into coaching the speech and debate team. You can find her book on Amazon, and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. Congrats to Holly (who works here part-time, by the way).

    Third, several people have asked me what I think are the best conferences and workshops available. In my view, there are too many to count these days. I just got back from a wonderful Blue Ridge writer’s conference, and I think it has morphed into the best CBA conference for writers. There are a number of smaller writing conferences going on this summer, and many will be good — Breadloaf, Willamette, MidWest Writers Workshop, Thrillerfest. I’ll be at the Willamette conference, as well as at Western Writers of America. Of course, I tend to think RWA and ACFW are simply the two best “big” conferences on the planet. A great place to meet other writers, get introduced to the industry, and learn from experienced writers, editors, and agents.

    Fourth, bestselling author Janice Thompson (Weddings by Design, Weddings by Bella, Texas Weddings, etc) is now teaching some online writing courses. If you

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  • May 21, 2014




    Someone wrote to say, “I heard an agent speak at our writing group. He sounded interesting, so I went to his website, which is interesting but I wasn’t sure I could trust it. You have to contract with them for a year and pay an up-front fee of $195, though it’s not clear if that is per project for for all your works. Is that the usual course?

    Yikes. Several thoughts come to mind . . .

    First, don’t go to any agent that asks for an up-front fee. That screams rip-off. I don’t know of any credible literary agent who asks you to send him or her a check right off the bat. You can’t be a member of AAR by charging fees, and you’ll get listed in “Predators and Editors” if you do. Stay away from fee-based agents. (And if you’re interested in this topic, I highly recommend the book Ten Percent of Nothing, which offers a fine expose’ of scam agents.)

    Second, you don’t want to sign up with an agent you know nothing about. Websites are marketing tools, and some of them over-promise when in reality the agent will under-deliver. I can claim anything I want on my website (that I’m the best agent in history, that I’ll make you a million dollars, that I look exactly like Brad Pitt), but if we don’t know each other, and if we’ve never met, HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE? Be cautious over sites that over-promise. (For the record, I look exactly like Brad Pitt. Especially if you stand far away. And squint. And are blind.)

    Third, be wary of agents trolling for business by sending you advertisements. It’s one thing to meet someone at a conference, or to begin a dialogue over a submission you’ve sent in — most of the authors we represent we met somewhere and

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  • May 20, 2014



    By Guest Writer CYNTHIA HICKEY, bestselling author of mystery and romance

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    Or: Why I Love Being a Hybrid Author

    When I started writing seriously, I had the notion that reaching 100,000 copies of total works sold meant I’d reached success. Imagine my glee when I surpassed that number in only two years of serious writing and tracking sales. I’d met a personal milestone of success.

    The writing journey has been an exciting battle. In 2007, I received a contract for my first cozy mystery, followed by two more. Then, for more than two years, my writing career went stagnant. Figuring I could give my career a needed jumpstart, I put two old stories onto Amazon and Barnes and Noble . Sales climbed slowly, but each sale validated my decision. After I acquired my current agent, Chip MacGregor, he guided and encouraged me into re-releasing my cozies onto the new mystery line he was creating. The books began selling in dizzifying numbers .

    I continued to write for Chip’s mystery line while putting other stories independently on Kindle and Nook. Those sales, along with my traditional book contracts, enabled me to quit my day job in May of 2013. By the end of 2013, I’d sold more than 150,000 copies of my total works. I’ve been asked many times how I’ve accomplished this in a two-year time span. What’s my secret? I’m not sure there is any sure-fire approach to achieving success, but I focus mainly on two things:

    Discipline and flexibility.

    1) Discipline: I set up regular writing hours and daily word count goals, often writing seven days a week to meet those goals. My writing is my job. It’s a business; it’s like breathing. Not only am I writing on publishing deadlines, but I’m striving to meet my self-appointed deadlines. My “boss” is a tough cookie,

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  • May 19, 2014

    Why Publishing Articles and Short Stories is Still a Good Marketing Idea


    Guest blog  by BETH JUSINO, a marketing consultant, editor, writer, and former literary agent.


    “Writers are like farmers: The harvest comes, but only after you toil for a few seasons.”              – Cheryl Strayed

    Back in the day—that is, before Amazon—we used to tell writers that the best way to get a publisher’s attention and build their credentials was by publishing articles in magazines, short stories in literary journals, and (best of all) land regular magazine or newspaper columns. Publishing short pieces, after all, offered direct exposure to new audiences, and the two or three-line bio at the end of a piece introduced readers to an author’s website (if they had one) and any already-published books.

    And that’s all still true. Writing articles and short stories to market yourself as an author is an idea that’s gotten a little lost in the online onslaught of blogs and pins and tweets. But whether you’re in the process of building your platform or marketing your already-released book, a single essay in Salon.com or Trout & Stream will expose you to more readers than most books reach in their lifetime. And that list of “has also published in” references in your author’s bio adds credibility to your future work. Readers trust authors with a track record.

    Like all useful things, it’s not easy. In the grand scheme of platform building exercises, publishing short pieces is a time consuming and often frustrating process. If you’ve never tackled article or short story writing, be prepared for a cycle of querying that’s similar to the agent or publisher hunt (though usually, at least, faster). Every outlet has its own guidelines for how they consider essays or ideas. And every outlet has its own voice and style. You’ll need to do some homework to understand the specific voice of a publication (do they like humor? Do their articles use a lot of statistics? Are their short stories all

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  • May 16, 2014

    Should I hire an outside marketing specialist?


    I’ve had a number of write to me and ask when I’ll get back to writing about marketing books, and several have wanted to know, “When should I consider spending my own money on having an outside marketing person work with me?”

    The answer is probably, “When you feel the marketing people at your publishing house aren’t doing enough,” except that NO author ever really believes the marketing types are doing enough for their book. (It’s true. I’ve seen bestselling authors who are getting full page ads whine about the lack of effort from the marketing staff.) I suppose all of us would like to see the marketing department try harder, do more, be more creative, and get away from doing the same things that don’t work, all for no cost. But the publishers are all trying to do their best. One young publicist might simply have 20 or 30 books she’s working on, so you might not get a ton of attention. And though no one seems to admit it, you might just get a copycat version of everybody else’s marketing plan. (It’s still a mystery to me why publishers bother doing the same thing time after time when the plan has failed with previous books. Seems like it would be obvious that “this isn’t working” — but it’s not, apparently. I’m probably missing something.) So let’s just work on the assumption that YOU are in charge of the marketing. Anything your publisher does is great, and by all means you should express your appreciation for them sending out review copies or setting you up on some blogs to talk about your book. Hey, at least they’re doing SOMETHING. But yes, it’s possible your book may need an outside person doing the publicity if it’s really going to grab some attention.

    The bad news is that, in most cases, that “outside” person is you. It bears repeating: YOU

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  • May 15, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: What Do You Want to Know About PPC Advertising?


    2014AmandaAmanda 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 often get questions about ads. When to do them. Where to do them. How to do them. And the biggie, do they even work? 

    For a short while my husband worked in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. He was Google-certified and everything. Since I just talked about keywords, which I believe to be a vital part of any ad campaign, I figured it may be worthwhile to shoot some questions at my husband and see what he has to say.


    If you’re a bit fuzzy on PPC ads, simply go to Google or Yahoo or even Facebook. Those text-based ads that you see on every page are generated by individuals who pay the host (Google, Yahoo, etc) every time someone clicks on the ad. Sometimes they pay $0.50 per click. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. And you’ll notice that the ads that show up for you aren’t the same ads that show up for others. This is because the ad owners have chosen who to target with their ads. They’ve tagged the ads with keywords. Once you do a search that matches, the appropriate ads start popping up.

    It’s a science, really, and like I said, my husband had to pass a test in order to be Google AdWords certified, and thus write and manage PPC ads for his clients. So he has plenty to say on the topic, even if his advice is three years old.

    What do you want to know about PPC

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