Tag Archives: Twitter

Pre-Activate to Activate

Hey guys,

So, when I’m not writing I like to workout. One of the best DVD’s I’ve ever worked out to is TapoutXT2 in the first 60 days of this workout I lost 18 pounds. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to work out and lose weight and just get in shape. Anyways, I want to say that because building your audience, building your platform as an author is kind of like working out.

In any workout you don’t go into a bench press and put on 200 lbs, you put on 150, 175, 190, and then maybe 200. The thing here is you need to Pre-activate, to fully get your body ready for activation. You can’t just go in and expect. That is a line I like from TapoutXT2.

Anyways, how does this relate to writing and building your author platform? Well, you need to build a sense of community with your followers. Comment on their posts, on their blog, and then when it becomes time to lift that 200 pound bench press (the need for book publicity) they are going to be more inclined to help you out. Sending out queries to bloggers without building a solid relationship with them first isn’t the best way of doing that (although it certainly is less time intensive, but who said publishing a book and marketing it wasn’t going to be?). Communicate with others in your industry: authors, agents, publishing houses, editors, etc. Immerse yourself in that environment, and do it fast! Preactivate yourself and your platform, so that when it comes time to activate (when the book is coming out) you can and you can do so efficiently.

I recommend an hour a day if you have the time. This would be spread out between a multitude of mediums like your blog, facebook, and twitter. Respond to people, engage people, all of this will cause people to notice you more and as a good advertising adage says “there is no such thing as bad publicity…except an obituary notice”. I am going to start doing this more because I know this is something I definitely lack in right now, and I realize this now.

Where does one find the time to do all that?

There is 24 hours in a day. Most are at work from 8 – 5. That is nine hours in a day taken up. You sleep for another eight hopefully that leaves 7 hours left. Let’s say commute and dinner take up another 2 hours. So, there should be 5 more hours in your day to work with. To help you save time, I would recommend installing HootSuite on your smart phone and programming it to post stuff on your Facebook and Twitter for the whole week starting Sunday when you have a day off. This will save you time and will cause you to be more efficient.

Anyways, hope this helps, and I hope the analogy makes sense. Pre-active your social media presence to activate the potential that social media holds for anything you do in building a reputable author brand.

Marketing Media Press Kit

The Press Kit. Probably one of the most important things that need to be created for your book to achieve success (besides the book itself). I will be going through the ins and outs of creating one in this post. But first, what is a Press Kit and why do you need one?

What is a Press Kit?
-> A press kit is a succinct and compact kit that provides media sources with all the details they would ever need to know about your up and coming bestseller. It will provide more information about you, your book, and the specifics of everything book wise.

Why do you need one?
-> In the age of increased competition for books, its essential to have one. Not having one will result in dismal sales and overall the flop of your book and most likely your ambition to write more. To show the validity of your novel and also it will serve as a great piece of marketing literature for anything you want to do later on in promoting your novel.

So, what is in a Media Press Kit?
-> A few things. (A) A Cover Letter, (B) Press Release, (C) Author Biography, (D) Photograph of yourself, (E) Spec Sheet, (F) Order Form, (G) Writing Reviews, (H) Business Cards, (I) Question and Answer Sheet), (J), Mock Book Review, (K) A COPY OF YOUR BOOK!!!

(A) The Cover Letter
-> Should be brief and enticing. In this, tell what the book is about, when the publication date is, and why it is of interest to each specific person’s audience you are sending it to. Explain any promotional and advertising plans. Do you have any special qualifications as an author? List them! Make sure you start off with a riveting opening line so that it hooks the attention. Like resume cover letters, there is a general template for creating this. Here is what I did. 1st paragraph = selling your story. 2nd paragraph = What are your goals in writing your piece? Who are you planning on attracting with your book? Hit those audience demographics. 3rd paragraph = When is publication? Where is book launch party? What are you doing for marketing with it? Do you have a book tour established? All these questions should be answered here. 4th paragraph = Prompt them to return the form you should have included with your kit. This will weed out the people who want the book and who don’t. Also, it should save money on shipping out books for them not to be read.

(B) Press Release
-> It should be no longer than 2 pages double-spaced. But, the shorter the better. You want to create a buzz about your fiction by creating an interest gathering headline, a little bit about you, and a little bit about your book. You may also want to tell a little story about how you came up with the idea for your story.
-> At top or bottom of page list the specs of the book (title of book, name of author, cost, amount of pages, ISBN, contact information including phone and email, website address) I did this in using a table in microsoft office word.
-> It may also be a good idea to include the back-cover blurb in this. Tell them why your book is essential for them to review and buy. You need to have a point of difference! What is your book’s PoD? There should be something here, how else can you separate yourself from the competition. Expand on this in here as well. End with a paragraph on how they can reach you and a link to your website so you can start driving traffic there.

(C) – (G) Fiction Author Brochure
-> Okay, so you can decide to do all of these things separately. However, I highly recommend you create a fiction author brochure and you include all of C-G (mentioned above) in it. Here’s how you do it. I did a tri-fold. So a tri-fold has 6 total pages. Let’s go through each one of them.
-> 1st page = cover of the book. Name of publishing company (if you created one). List your website address.
-> 2nd Page = Back cover blurb of the book. Also, depending on how much space you have left after this, I included my spec sheet again. So here is where I would talk about pricing, trim size, page count for softcover and hardcover if you know that all. Publication date. Publisher. Distributor.
-> 3rd Page = Author biography and below it your Author Profile Pic. That should take up the whole page. Now, what should you include in the biography? Well, whatever you plan on putting at the end of your book but somethings you could touch on is what kind of things you are involved in (are you involved in any writing circles?), have you done anything remarkable, also the last sentence should look something like this “To stay in touch with Michael and receive updates and exclusion content not featured elsewhere, signup at (website stuff in here). And don’t forget to follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/michaelethies” This will help build up your twitter following, Facebook following, whatever social media you plan on putting at the end of the sentence. But, it’s a call of action. And it’s very powerful if done right.
-> 4th page (rightmost side of inside of brochure) = Order form. Put a check box here with a few options for the person to check off and return to you. Have check boxes next to each of these below.
* We expect to review this book in: ___________ on Approximately: ________________, 20___.
* We are considering the following subsidiary rights on this title: (leave space for them)
* We are considering stocking/adopting this title.
* Please send a photo of the book.
* Please send a photo of the author.
* Sorry, we didn’t find this book suitable for our needs.

After that include a place for them to write in their name, their occupation title, where they work, their email, and their complete address. Also, have at the bottom the address where you will be receiving all of your publication information so that you can keep in contact with them.

-> 5th page (leftmost backside page) = Leave blank. There is no point to have anything on this page because they will be ripping it off and sending it back to you. If you did want something to put in here when you get more book reviews that will fill up your last page (the back cover) then put in a variety of ways that someone can help you promote your book. Here is what I put!

“It would be a fantastic help if you could utilize some of these suggestions to help promote the book.
• Buy the book on amazon.com
• Post a five-star review on amazon.com
• Call your local bookstore and ask for my book
• Ask for the book when you’re at local bookstore
• Follow me on Twitter (search: michaelethies)
• Like on Facebook (search: Guardian of the Core)
• Connect with me on LinkedIn (search: Mike Thies)
• Blog about my book; be sure to include a link to www.guardianofthecore.com
• Interview me on your blog”

-> 6th page (last panel) = Writing reviews. Get some reviews from your friends, get reviews from teachers, anyone! This will start out small, but as soon as you get more you can keep updating this. So the very first things people will see when they get this brochure will be the Cover Photo and Reviews about your book. PERFECT!!!

(H) Business Cards
-> If you don’t have some made, make some up for yourself and your book. If you have a publishing company like me, then make some with your logo and publishing company info on it. Otherwise, if it’s just you and the book, provide the cover image of your book (if applicable) but definitely your contact info and try to make it look as professional as possible.

(I) Question and Answer Sheet
-> What do you need this for? So that they already have the answers to some of the questions they would need to ask you to publish anything about you. The people you are trying to reach are very busy. So, be courteous and have all of these questions already answered for them. They don’t have time to actually interview you. With that being said, here are the questions you should answer.
1) Why did you write this book?
2) How did you become interested in the topic?
3) What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your book?
4) Who is your intended readership?
5) When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
6) How did you research your book?
7) What surprised you about the process of writing your book?
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
9) Are you working on another book?

(J), Mock Book Review
-> This is simply a book review that you write. Many reviews are too busy to read your book carefully. So a mock review helps them out. So they can simply just take some passages from it and use that.

(K) Copy of Your Book
-> Pretty self explanatory but yeah, just make sure you have a copy of your book along with it. What that order form is doing up above is making sure you get advanced notice of any reviews coming your way so that you can look for them. It is not an order form saying, “Oh I want to review this book” You can screen out and qualify people through the sending of PDF formatted Galley Copies and save the hard galley copies for the “important” reviewers, the ones with more reach than the others. This will cut down on expenses.

Alright, and there you have it. Your own media press kit. Good luck in creating it. Have fun with it to. It’s a blast and a nice project. If you have questions leave a comment and I will try to answer them as promptly as I can.

Building Readership

Although this post will not be anything novel and original, I do want to reiterate this because it is something that I am doing currently through my pre-marketing strategies (which if you’ve read my other posts should be around 3 – 4 months prior to your books release). The strategy? Well, its releasing your novel piece by piece and week by week hopefully. Now, like I said before, many authors already currently do this, and that is good because it really does build a large readership and sorry to say folks, it’s usually not the first book that makes you money, it’s the second and the third and so on. The first book is just to establish yourself as a recognized author and to slice out a pie in that saturated author market. It’s about building up your fan base. With that being said, though, here are a four options that you can do while trying to build readership (although I’m sure there are probably lots more available).

Option #1: GoodReads

  • Here on GoodReads you can make an author profile for yourself once you have a few basic things taken care of with your book (like an isbn being the most important) because they offer their author program to those who are published, yes, but also who are in the process of publishing, so start building that readership today. I have just started this, and am posting chapters weekly for people to read.

Option #2: Wattpad

  • I don’t believe this one is as well known, at least I never heard of it until very recently, but it has worked wonders for authors.
  • Wattpad is an online writing community site and app where people can visit and either read free stories or post them. It’s sort of like a YouTube for writers. Anyone can join (it’s free!) and writers can post poetry, short stories, full-length novels, screenplays—pretty much anything writing-related—and other users can read them, comment, share, vote, etc. It’s the number one app of its kind in the world and has about 10 million+ unique visitors a month.
  • The same tactic I mentioned above about utilizing a weekly post will go good with this, too. I highly recommend it. The more visibility the better.

Option #3: Blog

  • Have you considered that blog of yours as a potential option for sharing tidbits of your story? If not, you should. I have been going back and forth about this decision myself just because I have been so busy but I think I’ll probably end up going with it in the near future. And even if you don’t post chapters of your novel, perhaps just doing a weekly blogpost like “motivational mondays” where you say your favorite quote or something. That’s always a good way to build readership and eventually you’ll get people looking forward to what is the next thing you’ll post.

Option #4: Twitter

  • Twitter, some have said, is online poetry. It restricts the user to only using a certain amount of characters and that’s it. Well, although you can’t post a whole chapter on Twitter, why don’t we utilize a new approach? Have you ever written something in your story and you’re like “Damn, that is good writing.” I have. Or, at least I like to think I have. And I wish every single sentence could be like it. It are these gems, though, that you could put as part of a weekly Tweet that either is separate from the novel chapters you are posting, or coincides along with them. For example, I am doing mine on Sunday as part of my “Quotetastic Sundays” (I know, not the most catchy or original thing), but one of my characters in my fantasy story gave really solid, intriguing, and thoughtful advice. He said, “Warriors still standing do not stand still.” I personally really like that line so I decide to Tweet it out as #newauthor #GoC (guardian of core, series of my book) #fantasy. Any hashtags that will get me found pretty much. Anyways, I plan on utilizing a lot more of these awesome lines and advice in the near future.

–> The problem I think many of us will have with this is where do I stop it? Should I give the ending away? Really, I think it is your own call there. I would say go for it, because here’s the thing, if it’s good writing, and people like your story, they will buy it regardless of it is online for them to read. Why? 2 reasons (although there are probably more): (1) You didn’t make it easily accessible, you spread it out over weeks and months. (2) Reading online blows!!! It tires the eyes much faster than e-books on kindles or nooks, or the printed versions.

Although I’ve been posting lots of stuff about good marketing strategies and how to get your book known, there is one that I haven’t yet and that’s because it should be a fundamental idea that all authors live with. Good, quality writing will attract fans. There is hardly any time where bad writing will garner a lot of sales because so many of us live on reviews of books nowadays. If you want to be a successful author, first and foremost, put out a good book.

Let’s Talk Marketing

Alright everyone, with this post I’m just going over a few things you want to consider when marketing your books. Or businesses for that matter.

I talk with a bunch of small businesses trying to gain accounts and marketing is one of those “necessary evils” that no one wants to admit. It’s just a tad bit more exciting than insurance selling, but everyone thinks that they do not need marketing or advertising, when, in truth, they do. Why do they think this? Because most people are focused about now. Will I gain money from it now? There is a possibility for that with advertising, but most times its function is to tell people you are there so that you have the POTENTIAL for business. That is a very important concept to understand here. Just because you do some of these marketing ideas, does not mean you will have the best-seller–but it sure doesn’t hurt. Plus, I’m not sure if anyone told you this, but most authors don’t make money on their first book, they make money on the second book and third book (if it’s a series). The importance of marketing, then, is really to tell people you exist! Once you have a fan base your sales will only increase exponentially.

So, your book is coming out. How many months should you plan on marketing? Beforehand four months is preferred, but two months is the very minimum. With that being said, let’s break down marketing into the (free) section and the (paid for) section.

Free Marketing Opportunities

The reason is that alot of this pre-marketing is going to involve sending your first free option (1) galley copies to various editors of magazines. For example, I am a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity (joined it in college) and when my books hit the shelves sometime later this year, they are agreeing to put a blurb about it and me in their magazine that goes out to over 80,000 people, nationally. THAT IS SOME CRAZY PUBLICITY. But, don’t stop there, try to get reviews out in Publisher’s Weekly. Or perhaps some genre-based magazines. Anyways, no one wants to review books AFTER the fact that is has been released, they want to review it before hand so that they can have some sort of influence of whether or not it is a flop. Research the Writer’s Market for some of these magazine options,  but also, just Google stuff.

Free option (2) comes in the form of social media. Do not outright tell people to buy your book, that is selfish, and desperate, but you can tell them that the book is scheduled to be released at such-and-such a date. Or even if you are writing a book many people already have an interest in reading it because they personally know you. When you do have a book release ask people to post something on their statuses about “checking” out this book or whatever. You’ll be suprised the power of social media.

Free option (3) = virtual author book tours. So, I guess I should clarify something really quick, these aren’t necessarily “free” options. Most people who review your book and agree to publicize it (for free in a magazine) usually request a free copy of the book. That is something that you will have to pay for, however, the cost is more than worth the publicity in most instances. With that being said, let’s talk about virtual author book tours. Blogging is huge nowadays, and if you already are an established blogger, then you have a following. But, look for people like you, and those who enjoy your particular genre and ask them to review a copy of your book on their blog. You will want to keep the query letter short when reaching out to these people. Now, this is a pre-marketing tool (it can also be after release date), but when doing this you will want to make sure that you actually have books on hand in case it generates traffic to your website and that you will need to fulfill orders. Make sure to thank them for their time afterwards, and if you are engaging in discussion with others, make sure you have timely responses! This is your credibility on the line here.

Free Option (4) = Signatures. Now, this is really subliminal marketing but when you have emails, you have a “signature” option which is usually composed of your (1) name, (2) title just so that you don’t constantly have to type it. Well, now you can put that you are an “author of such and such a book” under that too. It will give you more credibility, and also, people might be intrigued by you being an author and now that they know the book, they will hopefully search you out, so have a website ready! Don’t limit yourself to just emails, though, use these signatures in chat rooms pertinent to your book’s topic as you are out there building rapport with other authors and establishing yourself as a vital online presence.

free option (5) = book signings. Again, do when you have physical copies to sell, but out of all the options this can be the biggest flop and most heartbreaking. It all depends on how well you advertise the book signing, and most people that come will be your friends who already know you wrote a book. This can be good for increasing publicity, though, if you do it enough. And that is what we are really going for here. Bookstores should not ask you for money when doing these sort of things, if they do, don’t go with that bookstore.

free option (6) = telephone calls. Alright, so this is really really stealthy, but it’s pretty sweet. So, if you are really interested in getting your self-published book into big brick-and-mortar stores, call and request it. When they say that they don’t have it, say that you will get it from the independent book store. Now, one of these phone calls will not do anything. Why, 100 of these phone calls may not do anything. But if you get your friends to call (and if you have contacts in other states that would be interested in doing it, contact them about it and the script they should follow) enough times you will start to pique their interest. Now, what constitutes calling enough? Well, that is really up to you but I would not call yourself more than three times a week. if you have your friends call this same amount at random hours, then it will start to gain publicity with the clerks and perhaps they will go that extra step and request the manager get it so that they don’t miss out on sales.

free option (7) = public television and radio. if you can get on public tv shows as an interviewee I would recommend doing so. One writer’s group I am in has a person who runs their own tv show where they interview authors, so I plan on setting up something with them once the book is actually published. Now, when you do this, make sure you are ready. Nothing worse than stumbling over your answers and not knowing what your own book is about. You might actually LOSE sales that way. So, come prepared and swing for the fences.

free option (8) = book trailers. Design one of these with some cover art of your book. Having videos with not only increase your SEO (search engine optimization) of the website if you have it embedded, but it is also great for another vehicle to channel your book information out into. What should you include? Well, what your book is about, the title, publisher, author, and of course when it comes out. Other things may include website info for everything you (this includes Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, etc.) Need music for it? Look here, http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?keywords=revenge&Search=Search

You’ll have to credit the guy who is doing it, but they are pretty nice instrumentals.

Now that we’ve talked plenty about free ideas that you can consider, let’s talk about paid forms of marketing.

Paid (1) = TV. If you have a genre type book, you may want to consider this. Guardian of the Core is a science-ficiton/fantasy book and I am aiming it towards college aged males. What types of programs do they watch? Well, probably comedy central, FX, spike, syfy. Romance? SOAP Network, Lifetime, Hallmark channel. Research here is the big thing and be prepared to spend a little. What I would recommend using here for TV spots, by the way, is the book trailer that I mentioned up above under free advertising. Great way to let people know about it and it’s, for the most part unless you paid for someone to make it, free. For the video at least.

paid option (2) = conventions. Here is a great way to meet fans of your genre and build your rapport with the reading and writing community. Look online to see if your genre has any of these conventions, and if they do, start researching how you can become one of those booth people. What you’ll have to consider here is cost/benefit. You will most likely need to pay for hotel room, travel, food, etc. So, will you earn enough publicity/make enough money through book sales, to warrant such an expense? If you do go, I suggest you bring a friend along with you who will (a) make your trip a little less boring, but (b) can handle the cash register while you interact with your fans!

paid option (3) = direct mailers. From genre-based magazines, get a list of people who subscribe (you’ll have to pay for this) and if it is within your budget send them a direct mailer that is snappy and grabs their attention mentioning the release of your book. If you have them, include some reviews from pre-publicity attempts.

paid option (4) = Swagger. Okay, so what I mean by this is gear that you can hook up your fans in! Sky is the limit here. Bookmarks may be essential for readers. For my book there are different houses that have different sigils (pretty much the olden day version of logos for today’s companies). Anyways, what I plan on doing is creating buttons for each of these main sigils and giving them away (or at the very least selling them for cheap) with each book. People start wearing these around and ask, “Oh what does that represent.” The person tells and, Boom! You have a referral. Another options for you servers and waitresses out there is buy a bunch of custom-made pens with the title of your book on it, and the website. When those people steal your pens (and trust me I know they do because I have been a server before), they will go home with information about your book and a link to your website. Another subliminal tactic. And, while people sign the checks, you will be exposing them to it, although they may not think so.

There are probably more that I didn’t cover. But alas, this blog post is getting quite long as it is. Use your creativity for marketing ideas and you will come up with a bunch more. Again, the first book is all about getting your name out there. You want to build your fan base and cut a slice in the market for yourself. It will cost money, but if you play it right, and write it right, the book should start building its own publicity in time. Many books don’t get discovered for years. The Hunger Games was out two years before people noticed it. Game of Thrones, even longer.

With all, make sure you research before utilizing these ideas or any ideas that you may have. You want to see where you best marketing dollars are placed because this venture that you’re taking is already going to be expensive, no sense in doing things that will not give you the most possible ROI.

Until next time. Happy writing.