Writers and authors are often seeking advice regarding marketing their work. As an author, I’m no exception to that rule. After all, in today’s world, who doesn’t need a little extra help? Most authors realize that marketing their work is no longer a choice; it is a mandatory part of the sales process. Also, most authors have read or heard it all before, but sometimes hearing the same tips from a different voice clicks in a different way, and those tips become useful tools. I’m not sure there are any secrets out there; most techniques seem to be a combination of common sense and consistency. Yes, there are fads, but like most fads, the same goes for author tricks, they come and go. I’m sure every author is familiar with or already does the things I’m about to share. For you, we’re on the same page, but if you’re a writer starting out, don’t be afraid of marketing, we’re all dealing with it.
Many authors that I work with aren’t comfortable with marketing as a whole. They cringe at the word or immediately fear marketing means additional dollars have to be thrown down on the table. Sometimes useful marketing tools are expensive, such as hiring PR firms or purchasing advertisements in popular trade magazines. Add space is always costly. However, authors typically find ways to spread the word about their work without spending horrendous amounts of cash. The most important thing any writer or author can do is something – something each day that keeps their name or title out there in the universe and keeps them moving forward or provides some kind of social media exposure.
Everyone knows that building a social media platform or fanbase is crucial, but we also know that followers that engage do not always purchase the authors work. You can have a large fanbase, lots of followers, likes, and engagement with your fans, but have limited sales. Connecting with your fans is crucial whether they purchase your work right away or not. You are building relationships that readers enjoy, and this costs zero dollars if you’re doing it on social media. There are several platforms out there, and at least one should fit your lifestyle. I’m old-school and stick to the three basics FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Of course, writers these days already have websites, write a blog, have a YouTube channel (I don’t, I lack in that area), book trailers, swag, speak as much as possible, attend as many events as they can, and they do put out press releases from time to time, often paid. I like to use a company called 24/7 Press Release. They have many price tiers available. I’ve found, and I’ve used all of them, that the mid-tier press release is received well by the media outlets during distribution. However, there are multiple services out there that you can choose to use.
Less is more, and keeping things simple works best for me. Each author has to devise a strategic plan that works for them and their lifestyle. Lifestyle is an important factor. I’m a wife, mom, nana, author, CEO, and my teens are active. It’s ridiculous for me to pick a marketing platform that requires hours of attention. It will not work. Less and simple is best for my lifestyle.
If you’re uncomfortable with marketing as a whole, being comfortable with your work automatically gives you something to talk about on any platform that is available to you. Sharing what you know, the content of your book provides awareness about the subject matter or title of the book that you wrote. Confidence in your work offers ways to introduce your book to multiple niches. You don’t have to start fishing for content to promote your book or try to create catchy sales pitches; you already know everything about the topic that you need. Again, keeping it simple with something you already know.
I often write YA’s that provide gentle life-lessons throughout the pages. I’m grateful that teens do like the work, but the books could also appeal to the tweens and teens parents, educators, youth group leaders, book clubs, and even homeschool providers. It’s not unusual for me to bypass the tweens and teens, my target niche, and gear my marketing efforts toward the other niche groups. For example, my YA The Greenlee Project, which focuses on bullying, I actually target adults. “Bullying can affect any kid anywhere at any time; would your child tell you if they were a bully victim? Greenlee Lynn Granger is about to find out how easily social media can be used as a malicious tool: a normal teen one day and ruined the next! Parents, teachers, educators, and youth group leaders, The Greenlee Project, a multiple award-winning book, is a must-read for your tweens and teens. Pick up here: link.” I could have easily changed the verbiage to address tweens and teens, but the impact of the message hits the adults harder than the kids.
Regarding sales and making sales, it’s always tricky, but the first step is believing that your book is worth the dollars that you’re charging. Don’t be afraid to announce that your books are for sale, and to include a buy link. I use a simple bitly link, and it works well. When you run adds, add a where to purchase the book, and if you put promo videos together (I do love these), always include buy links.
I do offer discounts, but I do not give my books away on retail sites for free, this is a personal choice. It costs thousands of dollars, plus my time, to produce these novels and I always ask myself, “Would you walk into a store and expect to walk out of it with that item for free?” Of course, the answer is always no. Or, “Would you order a meal and expect not to pay for it?” Same thing. Services and products aren’t free. Why should your book be? The exception to this rule, for me, is during the Texas Librarian Association Conference. TLA is a large trade conference, five to seven thousand librarians, teachers, and buyers are present. Putting titles into their hands is imperative. By and large, they do not purchase books while at TLA but look for fresh new titles. At this event, I sign and put books into their hands by the hundreds per title. It is one marketing expense that I save for and value the experience every year.
A significant part of ensuring a title is successful occurs behind the scenes. Setting up the title correctly in the first place — metadata, including author name, bio, keywords, book description, and selecting Bisac codes for your categories, keeping them specific. Most platforms today will walk you through it, but the more information you can list about your book behind the scenes is for the best. Even if you set up the title correctly, ask for a purchase, contain a sales link, and promote daily, there still aren’t any guarantees.
I’ve witnessed authors do everything right: produce professionally edited and designed books, hire PR firms, spend money on advertisements, hire social media experts, enter and win prestigious award competitions, write articles for popular large magazine circulations, and still sell minimal units. I’ve also seen authors with poorly written work sell thousands upon thousands of books. Fair has nothing to do with it, and neither does the experience of the author. Luck no doubt, if you believe in that, seems to have a hand in it.
One can never tell which story or book an audience will connect with, but it doesn’t matter. Writers are going to write; it’s what we do. It takes one person to tell the right person about your work. The spark that starts a fire, and you have no idea who that one person is, and again, it doesn’t matter because you’re going to continue to produce work that you love to write regardless. Marketing budgets are helpful, but in truth, most people do not have a very extensive one. You can still market relatively well on a limited budget. It’s not the size of your budget that counts; it’s how you use your time, the platforms at your disposal, and most importantly, how often you market yourself – consistency. So forge ahead. Write and produce professionally edited and designed books, and love every second doing it. Otherwise, well, what’s the point?
Feel free to visit my site and take a peek around. Please let me know if you have any questions, thanks so much! – Amanda M. Thrasher
In the mid-1960s, my mother, Ruth, saved a toddler’s life when our family was at Lake Rick-A-BearLake, in Kinnelon New Jersey. She was heading for the snack bar on the beach and coming along the path of trees that ran beside the lake just past the picnic tables she saw it in the water apparently having fallen off the bank. No one else was around or watching the baby. She waded into the water and grabbed the child.I came along shortly after and one of the beachgoers rushed up to me and said, “your mother saved that baby over there from drowning.” I didn’t say a thing while looking to the side. I couldn’t see the baby with the crowd of people huddled around, many of them talking loudly. I kept walking back to your picnic table more off the path and in a secluded area of the woods. My dad was grilling burgers and chicken wings the rest of the family sitting either at the table or in Adirondackchairs smiling. For once no one was saying a word. I said to my mother, “someone said you saved a baby?”
Mom just continued to smile, she blue eyes shining and gave me a shrugged. That was her. I discovered something else about my mother when I was in high school. I took French my first year from Mrs. Chackmanoff. She was a French Jew teaching in a Catholic school. The first day she called my name and asked me to stand. She told the class that she was honored to be teaching me because it was my mother who taught her English.
When I told my mother this after school she just said, Yeah,” with her smile, “she didn’t speak English. They lived upstairs from us when you were a baby. We babysat for each other. Her husband was a Russian Prince.”
We lived on Madison Avenue in Paterson and we had lived on this block once before eight doors up from where we were living in a block of terraced rowhomes. Mrs. Chackmanoff’s family had the apartment above ours.
At the end of freshman year, Mrs. Chackmanoff called me up to her desk and told me she was passing me even though I failed French because she used to change my drapers and for all my mother did for her when her family first came to this country. She told me she had been in a concentration camp in World War II when the Germans held France. When the Russian arrived her future husband was among them and they liberated the camp saving thousands. She later married him and came to America. At first, our two families could only wave and smile at each other. One day my mother went to the small grocery store on Market Street and found Mrs. Chackmanoff standing in the last aisle crying and looking at the change in her hand. My mother saw she was trying to buy bread and jelly. She pointed out the coins for the two items and from then the English lessons began.
Mom didn’t tell me any of that. She was like that. She didn’t talk about others as I remember it. I told my mother what Mrs. Chackmanoff said about finding her in the grocery stores and she did her usual shrug with a smile. I felt such admiration for her.
My mother never spoke badly about anyone. And she didn’t talk badly about her own mother. There were signs I suppose along the way. Though what did we, her children, have to compare it with? We know only our own bubble, our small safe and comfortable albeit lower-middle-class sphere created by our two parents. My friends home life seen just like mine with else kids as far as I could tell. We had fun times at our house. Great holiday with wonderful meals. Getting ready for Christmas’ would be weeks of examining Sears and Spiegel’s catalogs to write our lists for Santa and then drives to toy stores to view what we wanted. Our father would come back later and buy the gifts though at times saving money cheaper versions. There were board or card games on Saturday night after my mom’s weekly great fried chicken dinner. Some Sundays, long car rides, four kids stuffed in the back seat elbow to elbow after the kids went to church and then for dinner, sandwiches and a bakery layer cake, the special treat of the week. This was followed by watching Bonanza and the Ed Sullivan Show. Thursdays were chili dogs, known in Paterson as Hot-Dogs-All-The-Way, and fries from any number of hotdog restaurants around the city. In the summer, day trips to the lake to swim and a week at the Jersey shore.
After school some days I would come home to find my sister, Doris having tea with our mother, the prized tea set all laid out on the dining room table. They would be talking and laughing. I spent some afternoons watching the Million Dollar Movie of the day with our mother. She would go back and forth to the kitchen cooking supper.
When my mother worked around the house more times than not she would be happily humming her favorite tunes.
I suppose some signs something was wrong was that sometimes lunch would be on the table when we ran in from school and sometimes mom would still be in bed. Then we would make our own lunch from lunch meat and cheese in the refrigerator or peanut butter and jelly. Sometimes we would find her crying in the bedroom.
She did not like conflict. If any of her five children were fighting and telling them to stop didn’t work she would fling one of her penny loafers at them usually missing. One time the shoe hit her china cabinet breaking the glass door and her prized china inside. I remember it. That was me and my brother, Ike. She sat and cried as we ran from the house only to return when we knew the heat would be out. All the glass was cleaned up and nothing was said about it, ever!
I first learned about my mother’s early life from my sister, Doris, who spent time with her godmother, one of my mother’s close sisters, Alice, and years after the same accounts from a couple of her sisters in the few conversations I had with them.
The story goes that my mother was her mother’s ‘whipping boy.’ Her mother beat only her even though she had six other children. No one seems to know why. And those we talked to said they knew not to intervene.
Years later my parents would help two other members of my mother’s family elope with ‘unacceptable’ men drawing the ire of the ‘old battle-ax’ that my father called his mother-in-law. I think this was an act of rebellion, long overdue, by my mom inspired my dad’s self-assertive nature.
Other things my aunts told me about my mother was that she was always kind, quiet, pleasant, smart, religious and always nervous. She like roller skating. She went to Saint John’s grammar school in Paterson and then business school and became acomptometer operator, the comptometer being the first commercially successful key-drivenmechanical calculators made in the United States back in 1887. She was so good at it she was in demand at banks.
During World War II my mother set up offices for Curtis-Wrights Industries who made planes and other equipment for the military and where my father worked for all his life, though the two did not date until meeting at a Holy Name parade one year. My father was a member of The Holy Name Society and my mother a parade goer.
What I know about my parent’s wedding was that it was a judge of the piece ceremony. My mother wore a business suit. One of her closest sisters, Aunt (Frances) Babe and Uncle Marty, my father’s best friend, stood in for them. It was during the war and no other family members were present and there were no pictures taken.
“What if you gave us the codes, let us handle it?” Jasper asked.
It was more than just a question. It could be interpreted as a veiled threat. Fiddlestix chose to take it at face value.
“It’s voice coded as well as imprinted. The codes will work for me or Kaz. No one else has been coded to them. So if we both go down, you’re stuck with those guys until hell freezes.”
“F**k me,” Jasper whispered. His dark eyes sparkled and he smiled disarmingly. “You could, you know.” He left it at that.
Fiddlestix’ laugh popped out loudly. She’d heard some come-ons in her time, but that one was certainly unique. Were the circumstances different, she’d have gladly taken Jasper up on his invitation, but they had a job to do.
“Arista.” Lionel leaned over, trying to find her eyes. “What’s wrong?”
“Today. Today is all wrong.” She inhaled rapidly, feeling a little light headed.
He said nothing, a worried frown creasing his brow.
“You’re the most confusing person I ever met. I don’t know if this is going to work out or not.” Her breathing grew even more rapid.
“Because! You’re so—and so… !” She gestured erratically, feeling like a mime with Tourettes.
“You aren’t making any sense, you know.”
“Before, when I first met you, you were way out in BFE. I don’t even know where you were. You stared at that paper for ten minutes, forgot I was there, and then came back all normal. You have things handed to you on a silver platter at the university. You walk into the most exclusive restaurant in town like you own the place….” Feeling flushed and dizzy, she waved a hand at herself. It didn’t help.
“I do. Own the place. I do.”
Arista groaned, her head flopping onto the table as her body finally gave up.
The four of them walked quietly to the front door, which flew open as Karl’s hand touched it. A smiling child, who looked to be around six years old, greeted him by jumping into his arms, yelling loudly.
“Papa’s home! Everyone, he’s brought guests! Hello, Papa. I lost a tooth!”
Karl chuckled, putting the little boy down gently. “I see, it’s a magnificent gap. I’ll show you how to whistle through it later. Where’s Mama?”
The boy grabbed his father’s hand, dragging him toward the kitchen. A pretty, slight figured blonde woman moved toward them from the stove, pushing a stray lock of hair from her brow. Smiling, she greeted the men, but Fiddlestix was awarded a wary glance of a territorial female. Her mouth formed a prim line of disapproval.
“Hannah, how good to see you after all these years.”
She took Karl’s arm in a possessive grasp, dragging him to sit at the head of the table. The men sat near him, while Fiddlestix was squeezed between two of the older children, a boy and a girl who looked around fifteen and thirteen, respectively.
“Delighted to see you as well, Uta,” she snapped, obviously nothing of the kind. She looked daggers at Karl, who would not meet her gaze. Judging by the ages of the children, he certainly had not mourned her going for very long.
“Meet my little ones, Hannah. The smallest one is Alder. The strapping lad to your left is Karl the Sixth. Papa insisted. We call him Fritz. The lovely young lady to your right is Nixie and the baby is Lottie.”
“Lovely to make your acquaintance,” she remembered to use her best manners in front of Uta.
Even as children, they disliked one another. It had been Uta’s interference which had gotten Karl and Hannah in trouble, for she had told her parents that she had seen them together in the woods. Uta was a jealous, spiteful person, and here Karl was married to her! Had it not been Uta’s home, and table at which she sat, Fiddlestix would have risen, dashing from the room in tears. She wouldn’t give Uta the satisfaction. A glazed smile plastered itself on her face as she ate.
Breakfast was soon over, and a servant showed Buzzard, Blacksmith and Fiddlestix to their rooms. Baths were hot, steaming with fragrant herbs. Fiddlestix lowered herself into hers, hoping she would drown and save her from killing Karl.
“He couldn’t have waited more than a couple of months!” She muttered loudly. “I’ll bet he was in her pants before mine even got cold! The nerve of that man, the absolute, unmitigated gall of that man! Just goes to prove, all men think with their genitals!”
A soft tap sounded at her door.
“Who is it?” She snapped.
“It’s Nixie, Miss Braun. I’ve brought up some towels for you. Shall I leave them by the bathroom door?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Fiddlestix heard the door click shut and wondered how much of her tirade Nixie had overheard.
Drying off, she wrapped a towel around herself as she moved about the bathroom. A sound in the bedroom startled her. Had she not been in Karl’s house, she would have activated the pistol in her arm, but it could easily be one of his children.
Holding the towel tightly around her breasts, she peeked out the door, glancing around the room. The door was shut just as Nixie had left it, but there were cloths in a pile on the end of the bed and Karl was sitting beside them, staring at her. There was an odd expression in his eyes.