Thursday, June 18, 2015

Banding Together for Promotion

Booklover's Bench
With this month's theme being promotion, instead of promoting my own newest release (because I've already hyped Deadly Production in my last post), I thought I'd give a plug to my author group, Booklover's Bench.

BSP—Blatant Self Promotion—gets old in a hurry. If all anyone ever sees from you is Buy My Book, you'll lose them in a hurry. And, quite frankly, especially if you're an indie author, a great deal of your time—time that could be spent writing—has to be devoted to marketing. If not your time, then you'd have to hire someone, which costs money.

A couple years ago, at the Novelists, Inc. (NINC) conference, a group of established authors presented a panel on their "Lifeboat Team." Ten of them banded together to share marketing efforts, including social media time. During my usual conference recaps, I reported on this panel, and had several authors asking if I wanted to form a similar team. We were not the NYT best-selling authors the panelists at NINC were, but the concept was valid for us. (We're more of a dingy than a lifeboat, but although we operate on a shoestring budget, we've been pleased with our results.)

Serendipitously, one of our members was a web designer, so that was his contribution to the group. We split the cost of domain hosting, but he did the site itself. Because time is at a premium for all of us (one of the reasons we banded together in the first place), we've kept things simple. Each of us has a small task we're responsible for. For most of us, it's under an hour a month of our time. We don't sell anything, so there's no money to track.

From the start, given we were all struggling to be noticed in the vast sea of authors, our primary goal was to increase visibility. For this, instead of shouting Buy My Book, we shout Buy Jane's Book; I read it and it's great. That has a LOT more credibility. We are all active in various social media sites, and we all have lists devoted to our group which we check for posts to share or retweet. Sharing on Facebook is the way to go—it's liking on steroids, and expands reach tremendously.

Another goal was to increase our direct reach via our mailing lists. Tweets have a shelf life of minutes. Facebook shows your posts to a mere fraction of your friends or likers. Facebook can decide to remove your friends, and since you can't track them, they're gone. (This happened to a well known author and marketing guru, who woke up to find she'd lost 4000 of her "friends.") But your newsletter list is yours, and you control the content.

Our strategy was simple. Give stuff away. We have contests every month. But in order to enter one of our contests, the terms and conditions say you agree to be added to all the group members' newsletter lists. Opting out, of course is always part of the terms.

When we began, and each year on our anniversary, we've given away major prizes: a Nook, a Kindle, and an iPad mini. But the other 11 months of the year, it's a $25 gift card to Amazon or B&N, and we rotate the donors monthly, so we're only spending our money on these prizes every 6-8 months.

We've also begun a new "Let's Talk" feature, because our goal is to attract readers. Again, we rotate these posts through our group, so we're only writing one every 6-8 weeks, and the authors can donate a prize or prizes of their choice.

One other cross promotion technique we've used is giving away prizes in each others' newsletters. Readers like to see something other than "all about me" when they get these, and with the opportunity to give away more prizes without having to spend the money on more than one has worked out well. All of us have seen huge leaps in our newsletter subscribers.

If you're reading this today (June 18th), you still have time to enter our June contest on the site. And while you're there, be sure to check out the "Let's Talk" features as well. Those change weekly, and you never know who might be offering a prize. Pop over and let us know what you think.

Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She's the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.


  1. What a wonderful idea, Terry. It's a win-win for all of you. I do think promo is tricky. I just unfriended someone on Facebook because all I saw from him was promos aimed at different groups. Part of promotion is interacting with others in addition to tooting your own horn. It's a slippery slope. You and your group found a way to avoid that. Kudos.

    1. I will delete a promo post someone posts on MY FB page - it's just plain rude, like coming into my yard and posting a billboard on my lawn. However, I rarely unfriend anyone unless they're constantly posting things (and to date, nobody has), since they're not really 'friends on a personal level.

  2. Group promotion (social media, tours, signings, sales, etc) is not only more effective, it is by far more fun!

  3. In unity there is strength, or so the saying goes. The synergy of a group like this can bring positive results to all its members; I think it's a great idea. More than that, it's obviously working. I'll be stopping by for a visit. :-)

    1. Thanks, Linda - hope you like what you see


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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