Showing posts with label book marketing and PR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book marketing and PR. Show all posts

Self-Promoters Take a Page from Taylor Swift's Book

Riddle: So Why Is Taylor Swift a Terrific Marketer?

ANSWER: Because she knows the real meaning of the word “assertive.”

I fear the word “assertive” has gotten a bad rap in the last couple decades.
People often associate it with being brash or downright overbearing, but it’s a skill we all need in business (in our case the world of publishing) when we must negotiate a contact or make ourselves heard in the din of a hundreds of thousands of books being published each year.

But Taylor got it right. She thinks creative people should get paid for their work. She stood up for that idea. She wasn’t afraid to use her financial clout to do it. And—here’s the biggie. She doesn’t hesitate to do it!

Recently, Taylor pitted her case against Apple--financially the world’s most influential company—who planned to launch a free promotion for their new music streaming business, Apple Music. She did it with an open letter on her blog (ahh, the power of the written word!) and a tweet or two. And she did it without mussing her hair or raising her voice or resorting to a lewd gesture. 

She assured Apple that she loved them, threw in a few more compliments like “I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple does,”  but she still socked it to them. In something like sixteen hours they were smart enough to buckle--which, by the way, can also be a smart marketing and/or public relations move. Swift and all their other musicians will get paid.

And now we can all add the word “assertive” to the lexicon of skills we need to survive, to influence. She used a gentle voice that convinced others that her protest was not about making more money for herself but a matter of principle and passion. Now the rest of us can be assertive and know that can mean engaging and focused as well as strident.


Nonfiction Bio
Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter published in 2003. Her The Frugal Editor, now in its second edition, won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

All Kinds of Ways to the Means.... What is Yours?

Writing advice comes in all styles and for all types of genres. A beginner writer can be so wrapped up in reading and researching the best advice about writing that the real writing takes a back seat. The fact is there are all kinds of ways to the means of being an author.... and there are all kinds of acceptable ways to get published but the successful writer will find the way that keeps them moving forward with their story.

And it also may not matter to others if you are writing an essay, a blog post, a magazine article, a picture book, or a 80,000 word novel the premise is the same. You need a story. You need an audience. And you need to market your work so your target audience can find your words.

If your story is fiction, you need believable characters that your reader will relate to. It won't matter if you write better with an outline, a story arc, morning pages, or free write ideas into little clouds on the back  of a napkin. What matters is that you see, feel, and know your character so well that you have no other way than to describe it for your readers on the page.

If you write nonfiction, you may not have a particular character but you will have a specific subject or topic that your reader will relate to. Your job will be to make the reader care about that subject. They won't know if you write with an outline, a story arc, or standing upside down. The reader wants a beginning, middle, and an ending that makes them want to care about or learn more about your subject.

Marketing on the other hand does matter. If the author doesn't market their work, no one will see it. That may not be a big deal if you are keeping a personal journal but if you want to attract more readers, an agent, or a traditional publisher you want to be noticed and noticed in the right places.  And it really matters if the writer wants to make an income from those words because your need that audience to find buyers for your work.

Advice books, writing circles, and social media are all sources of information on marketing your work but each writer must still find the way that leads to the means so to speak. What works for picture book writers may not work for nonfiction medical writers and so on. The market or target audience will be different as will be the publishers for different types of writing.

Self publishing is slightly different when it comes to marketing because most of the marketing becomes the responsibility of the author and may then take time away from the actual task of writing.

Authors, no matter what is written or how it is published must keep in mind the ways to their own means.... another words.... find what works. Finding the balance between writing, marketing, publishing, and managing the business of writing is individual yet we can all take tips and advice from others and continue learning from those that are successful. In that way we will all find our way to our means and be able to call ourselves writers.

As the year draws to an end and celebrations occupy some of regular writing time, make sure to take note of what works and what doesn't in your own writing career. Look at your audience, your marketing techniques, and where you want your career to head in the New Year so the start of 2014 will be  focused.

  • Note any lack of knowledge or skill you need to improve and be ready to find the sources for information that will give you more confidence.
  • Network within social media where your genre or niche fits best and reach out to others to offer what you can to help them too.

It takes a village to raise a child as they say and it takes a village of marketers, authors, mentors, publishers, and agents to help writers succeed.

Targeting Specific Audiences Part 3 (results for one specific audience)

Targeting specific audiences, Part Three:  Results for the one specific audience… 

Guest Post by Steve Moore

The following is the third part of the report on my ad campaign associated with the Montclair Film Festival.  That campaign was described in Part Two.  How will I measure the success of my campaign?  To use the marketing word du jour, what are the metrics?  I can think of two in general: website traffic increase and book sales increase.

I used the built-in CysStats from my WordPress software to measure website visits and hits.  For the week previous to the release of the Film Festival catalog, I was averaging about 700 visits and 800 hits per day.  After the release to volunteer personnel, the number of hits went up to 1600 but the number of visits stayed about the same.  I returned to the “steady state” until a week later, the first weekend the general public had the catalog, when I obtained about 1800 visits and 1900 hits (April 12), but the next day it settled back to 800/900, almost the initial steady state—this 800/900 level became a new steady state with peaks on weekends, until the release of the Montclair Times Magazine.

The Montclair Times Magazine ad was released to the public on May 2.  This had a wider distribution than the Festival catalog.  There was only a slight bump on that day.  There have been other slight bumps, which I attribute to the sporadic reading of the Montclair Times Magazine (it goes to subscribers in the Montclair area, but these include doctors, dentists, and lawyers’ offices).  As of May 15, I’ve achieved a new steady state around 900 visits and 1000 hits.  For me, this increase is hardly significant, but I’m hoping the magazine ad has a long tail.

Did this increase in website traffic translate into book sales?  From the catalog ad, no.  Both Amazon and Smashwords showed pathetic performance up to the Montclair Times Magazine ad—just the same old dribs and drabs.  There was only a slight uptick after the magazine ad.  Perhaps the difference was that the magazine ad had the cover of The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan; the catalog ad did not.  Both referred readers to my website that lists all eleven of my books available at that time (I have since released Teeter-Totter between Lust and Murder).

I’m writing this report now (May 15) rather than waiting to measure any long-tail effect because these statistics are metrics for an open system.  The release of a new book and some new reviews will start making it difficult to separate cause and effect.  For now, I think it’s being wise to say that this campaign didn’t work.  I’m more convinced than ever that rising above that sea of ebooks, even those in the same genre, is quite difficult because of the competition.  The chances of success, say sales of 10,000 for one book, is perhaps more likely than winning the Power Ball Lottery, but not by much.

Am I discouraged?  Yes.  Will I throw in the towel and stop writing?  No!  It’s too much fun.  I hope my writing also provides entertainment value for those who read my blog or my ebooks.  That’s always been my goal—to entertain.  In libris libertas….

Steven M. Moore  
Author of The Secret Lab, Pop Two Antacids and Have Some Java, The Midas Bomb, Angels Need Not Apply, Teeter-Totter between Lust and Murder, The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan, Full Medical, Evil Agenda, Soldiers of God, Survivors of the Chaos, Sing a Samba Galactica, Come Dance a Cumbia...with Stars in Your Hand!

Read Parts One and Two of this three part series:

Part One - The Marketing Conundrum
Part Two - One Specific Audience

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Targeting Specific Audiences Part Two (One specific audience)

We're back with Part Two of Targeting Specific Audiences. If you haven't read Part One, please visit:

Targeting specific audiences, Part Two of Three:  One specific audience…

Guest post by Steve Moore

The Montclair Film Festival is in its second year.  For 2013 (from April 29 to May 5, to be precise), it’s expanded, with more venues, films, speakers, and discussion sections.  We attended last year.  Because I’m an incurable people watcher (even though I’m introverted and don’t enjoy being in large crowds), I observed that there is a large overlap between films and book lovers.  Thought-provoking films make people think while they enjoy the film—these are the films shown at the Montclair Film Festival.  A thought-provoking book does the same thing.

“Thought-provoking” is a sloppy term.  I can easily enter a vicious circle—a thought-provoking book is one that makes you think beyond its plot and characters to more substantive issues.  Even a vampire romance can make you think of issues you might not consider outside of your reading. My sci-fi thrillers will make you think too—they’re entertaining extrapolations into the future. What I observed at last year’s crowd at the Festival was that thought-provoking films and books have a common audience—people were talking about films and books.

This year I’m waging a two-stage PR and marketing campaign at the Montclair Film Festival. It sounds like I’m playing Eisenhower planning D-Day, but it wasn’t time- or money-intensive.  The Montclair Film Festival has a catalogue so people can figure out what events and movies to attend. I have a small ad in the advertising section. The local newspaper, The Montclair Times, also publishes monthly the Montclair Magazine. April’s issue will feature the Film Festival and has an advertising section where I’ve placed a bigger ad.

I believe I’m targeting a specific audience with my few marketing funds and time (because I’d rather spend it writing) in a more efficient manner. I’m reaching local people that don’t know about my books and might enjoy them if they did. How do I know this is true? Four of my PODs that I donated to the Montclair Public Library became so worn I had to replace them. Many of my “near future” thrillers take place in the tri-state area (The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan, just released, is set almost exclusively in New Jersey). Locals will definitely identify with the venues in the books.

Unfortunately, I’m at a stage in my writing career that deciding which books to promote is a problem—I have ten sci-fi thrillers and an anthology. In Montclair Magazine’s ad I focused on Virginia Morgan, my new release, but in both ads I highlighted my website URL—visiting the site allows them to peruse the entire list with their blurbs and buttons to peek inside the books at Amazon. The locals are very computer literate and shop online. Moreover, many editors and free-lancers live in Montclair because of its proximity to NYC news media outlets and publishing companies.

Who knows whether this will be a successful campaign? It’s an experiment and reflects my perhaps modest opinion that there are readers out there who will enjoy what I write if they could only discover it and know a wee bit more about my background. I discover new websites all the time. Internet sites don’t arrive and slap you in the face (and we tend to avoid those that do). Maintaining a website is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one, for writing success. Somehow, you have to drive people to it so you can see what you offer. This is true for all internet marketing, of course, but especially true for writers.

Stay tuned for Part Three in this book marketing series: the results of the Montclair Film Festival.  It'll be here May 30th.

Steven Moore


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Targeting Specific Readers Part One: The marketing conundrum…

Targeting Specific Readers Part One of Three: The marketing conundrum…

Guest post by Steve Moore

In these DIY times, some writers choose to self-publish.  Others still prefer the traditional paradigm. One other (so far), Hugh Howey, author of the Wool SF series, has managed to do both, and keep digital rights separate from paper rights. No matter the choice, PR and marketing for your book these days is in the writer’s hands unless he happens to be an established bestselling author.

I have become a self-publishing or indie author by default, following the yellow brick road from agents to POD to eBooks. I’m content now about where I am except for my number of readers.  In this Land of Oz called digital publishing, you’d think the internet would allow me so many opportunities to acquire readership that I’d have thousands of readers.

Note that I focus on readers. Publishing companies focus on sales; I focus on readers. If reader A reads one of my books and then passes it on to reader B, I’m happy with my two new readers, even though it’s just one sale. (I’m not particularly concerned about piracy for that reason—but that’s another topic.) I’ve priced my ebooks so the temptation to do that is minimal (ebook pricing is yet another topic).  Nonetheless, even if I count readers in that way (in practice, by some multiplicative factor of sales), it’s hard to realize name recognition.  The internet is so big and digital publishing so liberating that bobbing up above the average sea level of competition to become known to a good number of readers is more difficult with each passing day.

About six months ago, I started thinking about targeting specific readers, using my small budget for PR and marketing. If you’re a non-fiction writer of niche books (self-help, construction projects, hobbies, etc.), you have a well defined audience and are probably already doing this. That’s what “niche books” means, after all. For authors of fiction (me), you have a genre (mine is sci-fi thriller), but the demographic distribution (sexes, ages, and locations) associated with your genre is not well defined. For example, I targeted my young adult (YA) sci-fi thriller to young adults, obviously. I’ve been surprised at how many adults liked it too, so much so that I now describe that eBook as “for young adults and adults young-at-heart.”

If a reader happens on my website (this process is not completely random, because of Google and other search engines), she will see at the beginning: “Welcome! Bienvenidos! Readers wanted…. Do you like science fiction? Androids, aliens, clones, mutants, and artificial intelligence? Thrillers and suspense? Mysteries? Detectives fighting crime, counter terrorism, and conspiracies? Fast-paced action and strange plot twists?  Steve’s fiction offers a special treat for readers since it often cuts across all these genres. Take a tour of this website and make yourself comfortable with his storytelling. Take stock of the other information that is available. Readers are most welcome.  It’s all yours to enjoy.”

Besides all those wonderful “key words” the Google bots love, let me point out a few things that just didn’t come to me in an epiphany—I had to put some sweat of my brow into developing them.  First, “Bienvenidos!”  I’m bilingual and my website has a Spanish influence—I’ve even written a few reviews in Spanish because I read fiction written in Spanish.  More importantly, I’m trying to convey the international nature of the settings used in my fiction, from my old haunts in the Boston area, to my new haunts in the tri-state area (Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey), to countries around the world, and to the solar system and beyond.

“Readers wanted…” and “…make yourself comfortable with his storytelling” emphasize what I’m about: I want to entertain you with my storytelling.  There’s a “Buy Now” button on that first page and some prices listed, but, as readers know, those Amazon book pages allow you to peek inside the book without buying.  I’m not twisting arms, and, because I don’t know exactly what might interest you in the book, the peeks serve as personalized excerpts for the potential reader.

The rest of that first paragraph defines my genres.  Having a website like this is part of building an author’s platform.  It targets a specific audience, but it depends on that audience finding the website.  I’ve been worried since the release of my first book about how to (1) drive potential readers to that website, and (2) not annoy people who won’t be interested.  One reader’s spam is another reader’s interesting book release, after all.  While discussing this with other authors, it’s become clear that I’m not unique in having this double-barreled shotgun of a problem.

My first experience with book promotion and advertising as an author was to purchase a marketing package to promote my first book.  While this was POD, any author working with a traditional publisher has the same desires and could suffer the same learning experience: that first marketing package blanketed the whole information and media universe.  In other words, it was indiscriminate spam.  I probably made many more enemies than friends (or readers) with that marketing effort, something I regret, because I’m not really in this to make tons of money.  My goal is just to entertain, remember.

So, for many years, I’ve been thinking about how to go about PR and marketing in a better way.  After my first experience, I’m reluctant to hire someone.  My budget is limited.  I can’t and won’t pay for PR and marketing that is nothing more than spamming the world.  I’ve been trying many different DIY projects.  They vary from the simple (putting a business card in every bill I return by snail mail—they’re paying for the postage) to the elaborate (creating a website and Facebook fan page).  In the next installment, I will focus on a new tactic: Targeting specific audiences on my own, using my knowledge of the readers.

Steve Moore

For Part 2 of this 3 Part series go to:


Being Social can Bring Extra Promotion
Kindle Select – What Works and What Doesn’t

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Honoring Your Voice

As a writer, your voice is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, novels, screenplays, marketing copy, y...