Monday, June 11, 2012

The Book Marketing Challenge – 7 Things to Consider


The reality is that, like it or not, all authors must learn a thing or two about book marketing. There are tons of romance and YA blogs, but since my latest book is women’s fiction, I’ve been nosing around for blogs and websites in this area. I haven’t found that many, but I know they’re out there.  

For a while now, I’ve been reading posts to do with book marketing and such and have come across posts by Thea Atkinson and Debra Riley-Magnus that speak to the road I’m travelling now. Common sense alone dictates that I find my targeted readers and this is going to be the most important marketing step I will take and it’s something all of us with books to market must think about. For me, the list of stuff to do looks something like this. 




1.       Since many readers here in Jamaica do not have e-readers, I have to look a little further for my e-book target market. I figure this is the Jamaican diaspora. I’m a member of a site that caters to this group. Having contacted the owner about advertising, he suggested that instead of taking out an ad I could write him an article each month. My tight schedule has prevented me from writing even one such article, so I guess I’m back to paying, but I believe the return will be worth whatever I pay, based on the number of hits this site gets each month. Also, I have a story posted there, so that may contribute to reader awareness. 
  
2.    Another set of readers are Caribbean nationals, many of whom live everywhere else, but the Caribbean—we do get around. I was very encouraged when someone posted a review for Don’t Get Mad…Get Even (still free in the Kindle Store and @ #2 this morning) and noting that he/she was always on the lookout for good stories from Caribbean writers. I have to admit, I haven’t done anything about this particular area, but again, there are sites out there that cater to this group.
  
3.  So far, my other books have been sold mainly through Amazon and I suspect that since Contraband is listed as urban fiction (a tag I don’t agree with), people who fancy that kind of book—namely African-Americans) have bought copies of it. Those who like family drama and romance have probably bought the other two, one of which is under a pen name, which has turned out to be a handicap, but that’s for another post.  
  
4.    Getting reviews may be the challenging part for me. I write a book review blog and have watched my inbox count climbing steadily with correspondence from people who are asking for reviews. I can only imagine what the numbers look like for those who run dedicated sites.

This is the part where writing a good book comes in. With my first published book, I was proactive and made contact with OOSA and Raw Sistaz Reviews, two of the biggest and most respected black book clubs.  I got good reviews from both, and should be looking in this direction for this new book. Haven’t touched that yet though, because I feel safer having the product in hand before making an initial approach.  Admittedly, I have some work to do in this direction.
  
5.    Something Deborah Riley-Magnus speaks to is a step many of us miss. She notes that the activities that take place within our novels may appeal to special interest groups or what she calls secondary markets. Our characters do a variety of things during business hours and in their spare time, but I don’t believe I’ve really gone as in depth as I could have, for fear of boring the reader.

Outside of the women’s fiction tag, the things I can think of immediately are Jamaican culture, family dynamics and the physical landscape/setting. There is also Jamaican music, as well as the fact that I have a Jamaican proverb at the start of each chapter which hints at what it will be about. If you haven’t looked at your book/s in this way, you should. You’ll never know if you won’t interest  knitting group/s, scrap-booking hobbyists, pet enthusiasts or the poker playing crowd in the story you’ve crafted if you don’t think about where to find these people.
  
6.    Social media is a powerful tool that can be a sort of hit or miss activity, depending on your approach. For me, it’s mostly miss, since I feel kinda whorish tweeting ‘buy my book’, ‘read my book’ or ‘check out my book’. Not to say, I haven’t done it. I have, just not in those exact words.  Thing is, I don’t know if it works or not. I made Don’t Get Mad…Get Even free and tweeted it for a bit, then left it like an orphan. I paid attention when it climbed to the top ten in the free kindle short story store. By that time, I had no idea why it had climbed that far, but anyway, I put in on my A-Z Challenge posts every day and that got tweeted out on Triberr. The book has stayed in the top three for more than two months.

Admittedly, I don’t use hash tags enough on twitter, but I say use whatever makes your tweet specific to the group you’re targetting. That said, I read an article today that said we should use our website for the hard sell, rather than using social media as the main marketing tool.  I don’t disagree with that, but I can’t deny that social media also helps to create product awareness. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a post on my Facebook author page from someone who read the short story collection and wanted me to know she enjoyed it. I got another thrill when I saw a tweet from free black books notifying their readers that Don’t Get Mad was free. Since then, I’ve been keeping an eye on the @ connection on the twitter dashboard. It’s not something I do often enough. 

7.    One important thing I’ve learned from being part of the blogging community is that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, but old habits die hard. When I launched Don’t Get Mad, I sent out an SOS and some of my blogging buddies responded, letting me know they’d help me in any way I needed. I was amazed and thankful and didn’t take up many of the offers. I figured I’d leave the favours for when I really needed them.

Today, I’m going to ask those persons who are interested in women’s fiction and think they’d want to read this novel based on the blurb to let me know in the comments or by emailing me at jmwordsmith AT gmail dot com. What I’m after is reviews for Amazon, Goodreads and wherever else you may post. A word of caution, this book isn’t for the narrow minded. Which brings me to the final point and yes, I know the header said seven tips. Call it something extra.

 8.    I’m not sure what value giveaways have other than to create awareness, which, in itself, is what all writers are after, but before my last release (November 2011) the publisher cautioned me against giving away too many ARC copies of the book. I did a giveaway five copies here with the understanding that the winners would put up reviews after they read the book. To date, Nada. I do understand, that the writer’s life is busy and with so much to read and write, some things get pushed to the side. 

I gave away some additional copies to a couple of blogging buddies and I’m thankful to those women (they know who they are) who read the book and wrote their thoughts about Hardware on their blogs. 

If you’ve stuck with me this long, I guess you might be thinking about who your target market is and how to reach them. If you can think of anything else I should be doing, let me know. I’m up for any tips that you think might help. Don’t forget to check out the blurb below. 


Three Jamaican women walk a tightrope of decisions when their lives are derailed by blackmail, deceit and infidelity.  

JUSTINE CHARLES, sensible and self-contained, battles an addiction which could destroy her marriage, reputation, and relationship with her daughter.

DIONNE JONES, an aggressive go-getter, takes risks that cut a trail of devastation through her family and business.

KYRA MILLS, struggling single mother, is crippled by debt, bad judgment and destructive choices.

Can two of the long-time friends survive startling revelations involving their partners?  And will the other push her obsession to the point of danger?

41 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I will read Distraction and will certainly provide a review for you. Marketing is hard. I don't have any tips because I'm not there yet, but I hope you'll get more tips and get rewarded for your good work.

    All the best.

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    1. Thanks, Peaches, you know I appreciate this coming from the Jamaican cultural perspective.

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  3. I'll read Distraction and write a review if posting it on my blog will be enough. I do have a Goodreads account (I think) but I've never used it!

    As for marketing tips, you're way a head of me.

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    1. Bish,
      Thanks so much. I can always link to your review online. Sending the file along.

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  4. You can just ask me for whatever you need. I'll be happy to do it for you. I know your pain. There are not too many mystery writers out there who have to do their own blogging/promoting. I've found it difficult to find readers.

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    1. Thanks, Clarissa. In your case, it would be good if you could find reviewers who understand how the genre works. The Crime Writers Meme is a good thing for you to do as it is putting you in touch with writers/readers in your genre.

      It's gonna be easier for me to find readers than you, I think, because Distraction does have some romance in there, which romance readers will enjoy.

      Still on the Sholes Key, so I'll feel bad if I send you mine before I'm done. Soon as I get it done and write my review, look out for me. Thanks for always being so encouraging and helpful. It's appreciated more than I can say.

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  5. I'll help with whatever J.L. Just let me know. I have no idea how to get in touch with readers though. I think maybe sixteen people read my book.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. You're a good buddy. If you can stomach this woman's stuff, we'll talk.

      The marketing side of things in an uphill undertaking for writers and of course, we only find out after we've gotten a contract. :) You run a popular blog, so that's a starting point. Maybe some research on where all the Sci-Fi fanatics hang out? Something to think about. Another thing I've realized as well is that it's good to keep writing and putting your books out. It's good insurance for the day when the word-of-mouth advertising starts getting around and there's nothing better than that.

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    2. I'm not sure where all the sci-fi fanatics hang out (truthfully). Maybe I should be more proactive about posting and reading reddit.

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  6. You have your work cut out for you. At least you have a plan. Good luck.

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    1. Yep, a plan is a good starting place and I've made a start on some of the stuff I discussed in this post.

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  7. You sound like you have a great plan. Thank you for the info on marketing. It is such a hard job!

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    1. It's not my favourite part of this writing business, but it's necessary to know as much as I can.

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  8. I'll help you, too. Although, I am struggling, too, to connect with readers. My latest release is women's contemporary fiction novel and, quite frankly, I'm having some of the same troubles you've listed. I think it will be much easier with my next release, which is YA. Let me know if you want me to read and write a review. I'd be happy to help. I can feature you on my blog once I've read, too.

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    1. Susan, thanks. I'll definitely take you up on that offer. I think I'll have to do some detailed research to find bloggers into women's fiction or what other avenues work. Like you, my next thing on the plate is YA novel, which I also think will be easier. I'll email you. I was shying away from a blog tour, but if I do it, it'll be later down the road. I have too much going on right now.

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  9. I've been working on reviews and blogs for a while now. And I'm not any farther along the road than you. It's a struggle, for sure.

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    1. Carol,
      If not for the loving of writing and sharing our stories, I think many of us would have given up ages ago, but we're like worker bees, doing what we have to just because. I've learned a lot along the way, so I'm going to pace myself so I don't get burned out.

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  10. Great advice! And yup, I don’t use hash tags enough on twitter either. I keep forgetting to, lol.

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    1. If people are paying attention to things like that, then I'm missing out on quite a few eyes.

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  11. I have a keen interest in women's fiction, and I would love to read your book. I can do it in September because I need to move on with my current projects.

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    1. Thanks, Julia and no problem. I'll take your help when I get it.

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  12. Marketing can be so tough. It's hard to know what works, or what works best. I often here people say that the best thing an author can do is write that next novel. I agree, but your tips are wonderful, too.

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    1. Cynthia,

      The sales on this current book are itty bitty, so I can check as I go along what's working and what isn't. I'm doing a couple of things that I haven't discussed here, so we'll see.

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  13. Marketing is a challenge. I have a New Zealand friend who put her e-book up for free for one month and had so many request for the sequel that she paniced. She wasn't even close to that. When I have the sequel to Treasures done, I will try to do the same thing. Not sure when that will happen.
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, it's good when the unexpected happens, but it's not so wonderful when you aren't prepared for it. I guess what happened to your friend is the reason why the self-publishing gurus talk about writing as hard and as fast as you can to keep readers satisfied once there is a demand. This new book is enrolled in the KDP programme, but I think it's wise to hold off on a giveaway until there's more awareness.

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  14. You're so right. Book marketing is such an important part of being a successful author--I'm trying to learn more about social media.

    As far as local advertising, I've been amazed with how much book signings have helped me. ;)

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    1. Ah, a book signing is something I should do here to create awareness, but I fear I'm a hermit. :( Have to do that at some point though, so I may was well get used to the idea.

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  15. This is such great wisdom. But ugh. There's always so much that we could be doing, eh? Good luck with your journey!

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    1. Oh, yes, and I've thought of a couple other things. The list is never ending.

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  16. You're way ahead of me on marketing. I've been holding off on twitter/FB just because of time issues, but I know I'll need to jump in sooner or later...especially if I ever get contracted. I'm actually planning to attend more workshops on career/marketing at RWA Nationals this year so that I'm prepared. I don't do reviews, but even with the romance interviews I've done, I like to have read the book...the problem is my TBR pile is huge LOL. Still playing catch up on reading. I will say you must be doing something right because the reviews I've read on amazon for your books are amazing and the sample chapters I read are too :). I think what you're saying about special niches in the market is so important and plays a big roll in it all. If I get any good pointers at Nationals, I'll pass them on!

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    1. Rula,
      I think whenever you get to Twitter & Fb, there will be time issues. Were it not for autotweets,I'd be sadly lacking most of the time.

      I know about that TBR pile - a lot more books than time to read. Thanks for your kind words and yes, it's very important to find our niche market and get the word out about our work. Looking forward to any tips you can share.

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  17. I'm stopping by for the A-Z roadtrip. You have a very interesting and informative blog

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  18. Such valuable advice, Joy. I think it's important that every book has at least one or two specific markets to appeal to - it sounds counter-intuitive, but it leads to more readers. Tailoring your work in that way shows that your story is different from others, and has a particular focus. And I agree, social media is way powerful - the free flow of information nowadays on the Internet is crazy! Great for marketing though!

    By the way, I'm hosting an awesome blogfest and critique giveaway at my blog from June 22-24 that you should totally come participate in if you're interested! :) Hope you have a great day.

    ~Wendy Lu

    The Roarin' Twenties Poetry Blogfest + Chapter Critique Giveaway (hosted by The Red Angel)

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    1. Hi, Wendy,
      We should think about what market we're going to appeal to even when writing out stories. That way, we know what needs to be done and who we need to reach on the marketing leg of the journey.

      Thanks for the invite, but I suck at Poetry.

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  19. You're bang on about reviews. I managed to solicit about eight reviews for the week of my book's launch, and I'm positive it helped.

    I think you left out one HUGE thing, though. Cover art.

    I don't think enough writers (especially us self-pubbed writers) understand how powerful the book title and cover art can be - especially on Amazon. I see way too many writers fall into the trap of doing their own covers -- stock photos, photoshop filters, poor font selection. Not only do these covers scream 'amateur', worse, they all end up looking virtually the same.

    I think it's even worse when so called publishers take the same approach.

    A good cover might not sell your book, but it will certainly turn heads toward it.

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  20. Cary, I'm glad you weighed in because you're raised a very interesting point. Some of us(like me) go with our personal preferences, forgetting that our target market is not us. A nice cover does create enough interest for someone to check out the blurb and maybe decide to buy. Thanks again.

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    1. I thought the cover for 'Distraction' was great - caught my eye, anyway!

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    2. Thanks for popping back in, Cary. I'm a fan of clean covers with real people on them. Somehow all of them have worked out that way.

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  21. Wow, Joy, thanks for going into so much detail. I'm still sending out queries, hoping to go traditional, but I get sad when I think about how little of these marketing aspects are covered by traditional publishers - if I'm going to have to do all this work anyway, then indie is appearing more and more attractive.

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Don't be shy. I'd love to hear what you think.