|All ready for the Giant Book Fair to start!|
My experience at the RT Convention was interesting. I loved the Kensington signing and getting so many of my books into readers' hands. The Giant Book Fair was quite a scene, although not very productive for selling books unless you're a big name author. I wasn't impressed with the evening parties, to be honest. I used that time to talk to authors I knew. What I did find helpful were some of the workshops. My favorite was the "Cuff Me, Choke Me" workshop that featured a daytime cop who is a nighttime author and her special forces husband. They were adorable together while she demonstrated how cops really take down the bad guys in a series of holds that won't translate into a blog post. The one tip I can pass along is that cops use humor in grim situations to defuse the tension. Something for you suspense authors to keep in mind. Mostly I went to marketing workshops since that's where I need the most help. I'll share the highlights and my insights.
From "You Just Think You're Marketing" with Tara Lain: The focus was on the difference between marketing and sales. Marketing is a series of steps to create an environment for sales. Marketing does not equal sales. One of the interesting points was about creating a brand. Your brand isn't who or what you think you are. It's how readers see you. Everything you do on social media creates your brand. And you have to do it over and over to make it stick. I think our own Alison is very good at this with her Pine Cone tidbits and Useless Info facts. She is creating a persona that reflects the style of her books. I wonder at the authors who constantly whine about things or are blatantly political (tempting I know). Is that how they really want to be seen? Something to think about, and I need to do more to brand myself on social media. You may be seeing more pictures of Ginger in the woods coming your way... Tara Lain (and other presenters) did stress the importance of sticking to one or two compatible sub-genres and not being a bouncing ball. That's part of your public persona. Meet reader expectations for your sub-genre, and it doesn't hurt to let them know that your books are a whole lot like "Big Name Author's" books.
"Dive into Data" from a Sourcebooks editor didn't give me much I could use. But here are the main points I found interesting. 15% of new authors are discovered in bookstores and 15% by word of mouth. Other channels were lower. I guess it's hard to get noticed on Amazon... The message/content of the book (back cover blurb) is the main reason people buy a book. Price came in at #4. However, a cover should speak to the reader and be relateable in order to get someone to actually look at the book. Here, it is the feeling a person gets, not a direct message, that triggers interest.
"Make Marketing Your Bitch" had a panel of mostly hybrid authors. They stressed branding and coming up with 10 terms you want associated with you. Then work on showing those traits in your social media presence. They stressed being personable--not just talking about your book ad nauseam. Talk about your life. Be authentic and interactive. They mentioned having a Facebook group readers can join since visibility is poor on your actual author fan page. But even there, asking questions to get interaction will help you be seen. They did say #1linewed on Twitter has a lot of followers so it can be a good avenue. Use hashtags! Time to get an Instagram account, people. Visuals with words are strong there (think memes). They said you need a whole series before 99 cent sales or free books are really effective. Newsletters are the best way to cultivate readers. But they have to be interesting! Exclusive content and excerpts (link to book funnel for anything long) are good. They touched on joint newsletters and co-operative marketing, but I'll get into that with the next one.
"Marketing that Pays" was the group from 1001 Dark Nights. One woman (Liz Berry--she's in marketing not an author) started a co-op and asked indie/hybrid authors with strong sales to form a group. They all wrote a novella that had a central world and character interaction between books. They published 6 at a time, I believe. Each author brought her fans into the world, and those readers bought all the other authors' books, too. She organized several of these series. They're HUGE! The suggestion was for us to do this with other similar authors to each draw in more readers. I've seen The Wild Rose Press use this strategy with their series, and it doesn't sell all that great if the authors are little known. This is kind of like KindleWorlds, which is shutting down. I think the goal here would be to try to convince bigger named authors of your value to their group, or to try to draw them into your world--we can dream! But it is an interesting concept. They do a lot of crossover promo. Other topics were again newsletters and the importance of the subject line being intriguing to get a better open rate. They stressed that you own your newsletter contact list, while contacts on FB etc. could disappear at any time at FB's discretion. Think MySpace. Check out authors who are like you but sell really well to see where they promote and emulate them. They talked about thinking outside the box and using other products. Cookbooks, calendars, etc. that are tied to your books/brand, which you can sell (donating proceeds to charity was also mentioned since the charity is another avenue to use for publicity). All good ways to get noticed in new markets.
Two hybrid authors put on "Having a 20 Year Career." The focus was on finding a tribe--other authors to work with. The importance of critique partners/groups as a microcosm of readers to get feedback on your work. Being flexible with a changing publishing world, and not giving up on writing when the going gets depressing. Having a recognizable voice and not writing to trends. More talk about newsletters. (Are you seeing a trend?) I think that about covers it.
For you authors out there, I hope this proves to be useful. I'm happy to try to answer questions if something isn't clear. I feel like our group here is a great tribe. We're lucky to have each other! Oh, and since I am trying to sell books...find buy links on my WEBSITE or sign up for my NEWSLETTER where I'll share recipes and exclusive content if I ever get enough signups to make it worth sending... Happy reading!