Sunday, April 22, 2012

Having a Marketing/Promo Plan on a Budget by: Stephanie Burkhart


THE MUSTS:
These are a "must" for authors:

I must have a marketing plan.
I must have a marketing budget.
I must have patience.

It takes 3-5 years for a new author to really establish themselves as a presence. Some like Amanda Hocking get lucky, and while I do think a little "luck" plays into selling books, most everyone's luck has a solid marketing plan behind them.

What's a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is what you, the author, is willing to do to get your name out there. I've lumped marketing into two separate categories: Social Media and Personal Contact.

Here are some things you can ad as an author to your marketing plan:
SOCIAL MEDIA:
1 Join Twitter
2 Join Facebook, make a fan page, and join book groups on FB
3. Join Goodreads
4. Talk on the Amazon Message boards
5. Join Yahoo Groups that are targeted toward your writing audience
6. Send out press releases
7. Organize a blog tour
8. Solicit book reviews
9. Pay for an ad on a web related site.
10. Join writing organizations. For example, EPIC, RWA and SCBWI.
11. Enter book contests
12. Join Pinterest

PERSONAL CONTACT
13. Get involved with your local library
14. Go to a conference
15. Organize a book signing – this doesn't necessarily have to be at the local bookstore. You can organize one at your local coffee house or a local festival

There are probably a couple of other items you can include in your marketing plan that I might have missed, but this is a pretty comprehensive list. A good marketing plan incorporates the above items. Think long term – 6-12 months after your book is released and be patient.

Also realize that a marketing plan requires a marketing budget. That might be challenging in today's encomy. Me? I try to budget between $50-$100 a month. That's not a lot so I have to stretch my budget as best I can.

Things that cost:

Conferences
Blog Tour giveaways
Bookmarks/Postcards
Ads on web related sites
Joining a writing organization
Entering contests

You have to take a look at what you can realistically do timewise and budgetwise.

Remember to designate time for certain things and stick to it. For example:

1 hour for writing, 30 mins for editing, and 1 hour for marketing/social media. That's 2 ½ hours. Modify it to fit your schedule.

Have patience with your plan. Remember your sphere of influence: you, your family, your friends, your acquaintances, the rest of the world. The goal of your marketing plan is to reach out to the rest of the world.

Over the next couple of months I'll take a detailed look at the pros and cons of the 15 aspects of marketing that I mentioned. It's going to be a fun ride.

Comments, suggestions, and feedback welcome.



Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. She's also a romance and children author. Her books, The Giving Meadow and First Flag of New Hampshire are published with 4RV Publishing.

FIND ME ON THE WEB AT:
WEBSITE:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

TWITTER:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

FACEBOOK:
https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor

GOOD READS:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4031660.Stephanie_Burkhart

YOU TUBE CHANNEL:
http://www.youtube.com/user/botrina?feature=mhee

31 comments:

  1. That's a great list, Steph. Another marketing ploy that is effective is joining with other authors who have something in common with your book - either a release date, or a genre, or a theme. Collectively marketing, where each person also brings in a share of the reader base, is another way to get maximum bang for the buck.

    Maggie
    http://mudpiesandmagnolias.blogspot.com/

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    1. Maggie, I agree about joining with others who have something in common. I think the Pink Fuzzy Slippers blog that Mona Risk belongs to is a great example of that. It's nice to have others support. I also like the idea of theme. Morgan Mandel's Books Gone Viral on Facebook is another example of collective support.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  2. Hi, Steph, and fellow romance veteran! :)

    Shelfari is a great way to add more details about your books...ie, first sentence, fun quotes, what other books you might have that are in the series, characters, setting, etc. It's included then on Amazon.

    Facebook ads are economical. You can set the $ amount, stop the ad if the book isn't selling, change it to another book, set it for only certain times, dates, audiences.

    Use # marks on Twitter to tag your tweet so that others interested in that topic might check it out or retweet it.

    For children's book and YA, Verla Kay's blue boards are a great source of information and worth joining.

    Pinterest is something new I've been playing around with. It's fun to upload pictures that declare your interest in certain subjects. Marketing isn't all about the book, but a love of a certain theme or topic often. :) I've got categories of Jaguar shifters, Vampires, Wolves, of the Shifter Variety, Teddy Bears that I make....All Things Celtic, the Old West, The World of Fae, Fantasy. It's fun to connect with folks that have similar interests!

    Tons more ways, but these are a few off the top of my head that I don't think you mentioned. :)

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    1. Terry, great ideas. I just joined Pinterest and I'm working on figuring that out still. I think Shelfari is another great idea. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  3. Thank you, Stephanie, for this needed advise. Ugh. I've got 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 years to go. Appreciate your help.

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    1. June, I'm in the same boat. Be patient. It's not easy, but I have seen slow, yet steady growth in my reader base.

      smiles
      Steph

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  4. Some very good points, Stephanie.
    In personal contact, I might add that authors would do well to participate in chats that have nothing to do with promoting their own books. Your signature line can speak about your books or promotional sites but reader groups just want to get to know you and, if they like you, they'll buy your books. Also, any complimentary comments made about you or your work should always be met with a thank you. I can't tell you the times I've seen readers compliment a writer without a response from the writer.
    Conferences can be costly and some of us are timid about book signings--and how does one do book signings with a book that is only sold in digital format? I've never figured it out.
    Great blog and very helpful.

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    1. Sarah, you've touched upon something I think is important as well - tell some "thank you" after receiving complimentary comments. It just shows how classy you are. That's important.

      Conferences can be costly and I'm not up there yet. I would think it it would be challening with just an ebook. I would offer an autographed postcard with a coupon code from the book from the publisher, if I could.
      Smiles
      Steph

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  5. Excellent advice, Steph. I'm afraid I can't do the budget things as I have no money, but there are sites where you get free advertising if you do things for them. For example, I'm running BTS's Guest Blog. It's probably means you just have to devote a higher percentage of your time to marketing. Sigh.......

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    1. Jenny, it's hard marketing when the money is tight but the big thing is to get out there in the cyber universe and let them know about your product. Word of mouth means a lot.

      Steph

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  6. One thing to remember about conferences, not all of them are as expensive as others. A few online conferences are free (MuseItUp Conference, for example, held in October each year - http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com/).

    I know the OWFI conference in Oklahoma City (http://owfi.org) has a lot of bang for people's bucks, and some major authors, agents, and editors or representatives of small and major publishers are speakers and hold workshops. Registration is something like $150, yet other places registration alone is hundreds of dollars, even over a thousand. Hotel rooms for the conference range about $120 a night (for a suite) for two people with free breakfast. Two banquets are included with full registration.

    If a person doesn't want to stay at Embassy Suites, where the conference is held, other hotels and motels are within two or three blocks, some less expensive.

    I'm sure other conferences cost less than the BIG ones. People just have to investigate.

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    1. Vivian, thank you so much for sharing. I know there are conferences out there too that are more affordable. I might also suggest considering festivals or gatherings in your area as well. They may cost, but the opportunity to network and meet potential readers is big.

      Smiles
      Steph

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    2. Festivals may not help writers learn more about their craft, but they are opportunities to sell books (sometimes few)and, as you said, to network and meet potential readers. After four years of making the rounds, some of my books are selling better because people remember me.

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  7. Great advice Steph. I love conferences but like you use my business head - if I can't pitch something new to an agent/editor than what will I get out of it. I like to budget a conference once every 5 years. I tend these days to be involved with on-line Indie loops, and sharing time with other bloggers has been great. My budget for every bk so far has been $500/per bk - so I break that down to cover 6mos of promos. Things I stopped -making bk trailers, unless I can find a cheap but professional one, limited bookmarks (Vistaprint usually I can get them free), but blog hops work and paid ads work as an Indie pub for me.

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    1. Renee, thanks so much for your ideas. I do make my own bk trailers, as I enjoy them and they can be cheap. I've even gotten feedback on one saying they bought the book because the bk trailer sold them on it. I appreciated it. I don't have bookmarks, but instead use postcards.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  8. Great advice Steph - thanks for sharing! Sometimes it's a challenge to remember it's the writing which is really important.

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    1. Angela. I agree. Without a solid story behind the marketing, you won't get far. I'm heading off to work but I'll check in on my breaks. I appreciate all your thoughts and suggestions.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  9. Great post! I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Sometimes it's hard to see if you are getting any results from the work you put in.

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    1. Juli, I agree. Sometimes it is hard. Novelrank helps to keep track of what your selling. I think the big thing is to be consistent in your efforts.

      Steph

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  10. Hi Steph! Great post. Lots of wonderful advice.

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    1. Susanne, I hope I helped.
      Smiles
      Steph

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  11. Great information, thanks, I'm going to need all of this with my first book coming out soon.
    Lynda

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    1. Lynda, I have stickie notes by my computer to help keep things straight along with a calendar. Some use an excel worksheet. The big thing is to keep records of your efforts and how much you spend. You can't do everything at once but you don't want to dupliciate yourself.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  12. Great advice, Steph! I always get caught on the one about how much time to spend on certain things. I'm too long on the Internet!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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    1. Morgan you are a dynamno. I love your books gone viral on FB. That's a great group for authors and readers to interact - and it's free!

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  13. Thank you for sharing the wonderful advice, Steph! It's very helpful for those with new publications and a great reminder for all with books to market and promote but a small budget with which to do it.

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    1. Thanks Connie. I hope you've gotten some good ideas from it.
      smiles
      Steph

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  14. Great ideas Steph. I'm curious how pinterest works for authors. I've seen that mentioned before. I still need to join goodreads, too.

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    1. Penny, I love goodreads and I'm slowly growing my "fans/friends" over there. Pinterest is hot right now, but I'm still trying to figure it out.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  15. I haven't found Pinterest to be be helpful because most people post just pile after pile of junk, nothing interesting, nothing that I find helpful. A few have "boards" of interesting items.

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    1. I think Pinterest is a unique idea because it focuses on the visual, but time will tell how effective it is.
      Steph

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