Today’s guest blog is from Pamela Tracy. Pamela has been a client of Steve Laube for over 11 years! She was one of the first who joined when he put out the agent shingle. She was first published in 1999 and has written over 30 books with over one million copies in print. In 2016 she has four new books coming out (two traditionally published, one Indie, and one repackaged reprint). She has been a RITA award finalist and a winner of the ACFW Carol award. To find out more, visit her web site at www.PamelaTracy.com.
I’ve learned a lot during the last sixteen years as a published author. I have! But, I cringe at the mistakes I’ve made along the way, the opportunities I’ve missed. To dwell on those, however, does a disservice to the risks that paid off and the opportunities I grabbed.
Risk is an important word, by the way.
Yes. Every. Day.
As you read, keep in mind, these work for me – a writer with a full-time career (outside of writing), a ten-year-old still at home, and more items on my to-do list than a sane person would allow.
“Top Ten Marketing Tools” that clutter my toolbox.
Some are well-worn from use; some are practically new just waiting for their turn; others are there when I need them but seem to get buried due to the demands of everyday life.
Tools Well-worn from Use
1. Website – always updated, with a easy-to-print booklist as well as both a short and long bio. On the homepage – not cluttered – are links to other social media endeavors like Facebook and Twitter.
2. Facebook – Try to always include a picture, try to do twenty conversational posts for every book promo post. Make sure to note who likes your posts. Like some of their posts in return.
3. Amazon – Pay attention to your Author page, update it, make sure all your books are showing. Also, check that when you click on the inside of your book, it really is your book. Right now, the LOOK INSIDE feature of my 2016 reprint Where the Heart Is, has an excerpt from Stephanie Grace Whitson. I read the excerpt, liked it, and will probably buy the book. Still, I’d rather have Where the Heart Is with my excerpt. When someone posts a good review on Amazon (or anywhere, really), see if they’ve listed their personal blog. Often you can leave a comment on their blog. By the way, I’m usually willing to send a book to a reader I know will review it. I try to never leave a comment on a review of my own books. My only exception to this is when someone asks a question.
4. Blogs – I know, they are so yesterday, but I belong to three, two of which I help run. Using the right labels can make all the difference. For example, on the Harlequin Heartwarming Blog, well over two years ago, author Kate James wrote a post about dogs. It’s still getting hits. Problem is, many bloggers only look at the day a blog goes up to judge success or failure. Truth is, readers can find a blog post based by keywords years after it went live. Also, if you’re getting 147 page loads a day (I know, I know, some of them are from the people involved in the blog) that might be 120 free exposures. A reader might stumble across your blog post by accident! Do unique endeavors on your blog. Write serials, do “Guess the author from the baby photo,” and most important of all, respond to those who comment. Also, put your photo and next book at the end of the post.
5. I still carry my books in the trunk of my car. If I see someone reading in a restaurant, I’ll introduce myself and ask them if they want a book. I leave my book in motels, at hospitals if I’m visiting, and at any retirement community where friends live. I actually gave a copy of my latest book to the guy installing the new cabinets in my kitchen. He said his wife likes to read. Sometimes I have a pre-made note that says “If you liked this book, please leave a review on either Amazon or Goodreads.”
There When I need Them
6. Publisher Website – I write for Harlequin. They have a community page. I can go on it and meet other authors as well as readers. I can have my face or the cover of my book next to my signature.
7. Respond to every fan letter you receive. Some are easy to respond to because of the kindred spirit gene. Others are not so easy. Make a response note that identifies you and your genre – make the response notes in difference sizes. Online is easy. The word “Thanks” and “I appreciate…” go a long way. Keep track of addresses for the newsletter you promise yourself you’ll start writing.
8. Figure out how to get a write-up in the newspaper. Being an author is not enough. The last time I had a feature, it was because in my family there are three romance writers (my sister-in-law and me) married to or dating (Gramma) three plumbers from the same family. It was the hook that sold the reporter.
Practically New & Waiting Their Turn
9. Goodreads – I’m beginning to think this should be number one on my list. It’s where the readers are. I’m settled with my website, Facebook, and Amazon. I’m not settled with Goodreads, but I want to be. Right now, I’m reviewing books, I’m making sure my book covers are up, and I’ve joined a group discussion that matches the genre I write in. I never push my books, but I am trying to push my name. I also intend to do an individual blog there and do giveaways via Rafflecopter.
10. Pinterest – really. I’ve opened an account, haven’t penned a single thing, and every week I’m getting new friends.
One of the best things about marketing is that publishers have their own toolbox. They’re bigger! Today, for example, I have a free online read at eHarlequin. For the last two months, I’ve worked with other authors with free online reads – from blog tours, to giveaways, to Harlequin offering a free year’s subscription to the Heartwarming line.
By the way, writing this post, falls under participating in a group blog. I’m putting away my well-worn tool – I’m very comfortable writing blog posts – and I’ll spend the rest of the day waiting to see what marketing ideas you give me in the comment section.
Thanks for sharing. I’ve got one huge question…blogs are so yesterday? What do you mean? Give up our blogs?
We need to be friends. I agree! But, I would need more fingers and toes to count my writer friends who have stopped blogging.
I do quite a few workshops. A few years ago, I went on my RWA’s website and visited everyone’s listed blog. There were probably 80. I had the audience guess how many were up-to-date. Then, I had the audience guess how many weren’t no longer there and instead I got an error message.
I am on three group blogs. That works best for me 🙂
Thanks, Pamela. A group blog would definitely free up some of my time.
I found it interesting that you didn’t mention any in-person author events. I’ve been attending small arts fairs in our community. They are fun and offer lots of people interaction. They are also exhausting. I’m not sure the benefits outweigh the time and energy they require. What do you think about small, personal appearance venues?
I think if I had more space, I would have. Author events are not something “I” can control. Saturday I did an all-day booksigning and a one hour workshop at Scottsdale’s main library. It was awesome and I sold the number of book that is always my goal at a signing. Workshop went great. Win/Win
Three weeks ago I was part of an author event at a museum – outside festival. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being awful, it was a negative four. I sold one book and that was while I packing to leave an hour before I was supposed. BTW, 90% of the authors left at lunch. I stayed out of politeness.
I don’t think the museum advertised at all. I think it expected the venders to market.
Both of those events I was invited to, and yes, I love small, personal appearance venues. Now that I look at my post, the only one that isn’t something I can do every day is the newspaper promotion. Hmmm
I noticed you only mentioned “free” items. What about promotions such as banner ads on sites like Goodreads or Bookbub?
You’re right, I only focused on free.
So far I only have two indy books out, and they’re novellas. Once I get past the learning curve on how to best promote indy, I’ll need a second and/or different toolbox. With my novella Two by Two in the anthology Mistletoe Kisses, there were eight authors all working together to promote – we spent time and money. I’ve lists of what we did – vastly different. With traditionally published books, there’s the cost (Bookbub is very expensive) and return to think of.
Interesting post, Pamela. I still feel like I’m a little bit of everywhere when it comes to getting my “platform built.” I’ve been learning (over years) a number of social media, and I’m proficient on, and focus on, Facebook and Twitter. a lot of what I’ve read says Twitter is very important for an author (I’m still pre-pubbed).
I’ve heard mixed things on blogging. Some agents say it’s still helpful, others say don’t worry about it. I have begun networking through my blog, and building relationships with other bloggers, and maybe potential one-day readers. Since I haven’t found other bloggers to create a group blog with, I’ve kept at it on my own and begun joining link-ups, which introduces me to other readers/bloggers. It’s been a good relationship-building experience.
I keep hearing Pinterest is a good place to focus on. I’m working on it slowly. So far, it’s been more for personal use, but I’m planning to look into it more for professional use and begin setting myself up there for if/when I get published. 🙂
Not sure this helps much, but it is my two-cents. 🙂
Many people assume a group blog should be writers. I have some writer friends who have build a blog around cookies. it works for them.
Thank you for letting us peek into your toolbox. I love hearing where others are focusing their efforts in promoting their books, and more importantly, their return on each venue.
On a side note, I noticed you stated that both of your indies are novellas. Have you found that traditional publishers turn down novella proposals? The two rejections I received all seemed to be focused on the length of my manuscript. It seems like publishers would prefer a 100,000 word count. Have you found this to be true?
I’ve published many novellas in the traditional market, mostly with Barbour. And I’m submitting one to Harlequin Heartwarming soon (picture Steve with a “Good to know” look on his face).
The indy novellas were the result of either asked to participate or a consequence of networking with other authors.
As I write for Harlequin, my manuscripts tend to be 50,000 to 75,000.
I’ve 30 books, none have been 100,000.
Hi, Pam! (Waving.) I just stopped by to say hello and to tell all the other people reading this blog to listen to you because you know your stuff!
Thank you for stopping by!
Liz, do you have a “top quality editor” tool in your toolbox? I am shopping for the very best editor I can find. I have left email info at two different editors that Steve (Laube) lists under resources. One was a year ago and I got no reply, the latest was end of October with no reply so far.
Steve, Dan or others, feel free to jump in here if you can fill in the blank. “I would most like to see an authors new novel (manuscript) especially if I knew it was professionally edited by ___________.” (Fill in a name that you KNOW would consistently render a reliable, traditionally published quality, professional edit.) I can be emailed privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would not want to offer a manuscript that wasn’t as close as possible to “professional quality”. Cost isn’t the top consideration here, proven quality, experience and professional service is.
I meant to say Pam, do you have……….
I think I was was temporarily mesmerized by Liz hummingbird!
I’ve only had to hire an editor once, for a novella, and I asked a friend who ‘used’ to be an editor. Not someone who still does editing. If I hear of anyone, I’ll try to contact you. An editor is probably one of the best investments.
Hey, Liz, how did you get a hummingbird?
I love reading all your posts on which ever blog you are on that day. I have a hard time just reading different blog posts and forums, much less being active in them. I don’t know how you do it all! You amaze me. 🙂
I appreciate your comment and I’m chuckling. Here’s my secret. I don’t cook Husband thinks it was his idea to order pizza. Again.