Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fun With Marketing

This month we are exploring unusual marketing venues and strategies. With the Internet and social media, the opportunities for promoting are increasing, and it is possible to do a lot of that side of the business without leaving the comfort of your home office and your PJs. But if you do venture out, please change your clothes, unless you look as good as this lady when you drag out of bed to your computer.


Whether you are going to do your marketing strictly online, or go out to real places where you will see real people, you might want to consider this list of things in the DO NOT TRY THESES category. As you read, keep in mind that it is my job here at The Blood-Red Pencil to keep us amused, which I try valiantly to do.
  • Do not put a banner about your book on the side of the garbage truck. Moving advertisements can be effective, but...
  • Do not schedule a book signing at a nursing home. I did this once and the results were less than successful. Unless you count a sing-along. Details HERE
  • Do not show up at another author's signing event and sit on the corner of the table to sell your books.
  • Do not post a "buy my book or else" message on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Do not stand on street corners. Even with a box of books in hand you could get arrested for solicitation. 
Now here are a few things to do.
  •  Find out what "branding" really means. It doesn't involve a piece of metal and a fire.
  • Prepare a press kit for that one opportunity to be in the newspapers. It really is tacky to send a reporter a link to your Facebook page where he or she will have to sift through pictures of your cat, your dog, your pesky next-door neighbor, and your grandson's successful first job in the potty, to find the cover of your book.
  • When you start using SKYPE for face-to-face chats at book clubs, for heaven's sake, change out of those PJs first. And make-up might be a good idea. Oh, and comb your hair. 
  • Proofread your online queries for a book review and make sure you have the correct name of the blogger. I'm still trying to decide if I want to respond to the request that was sent to "Linda." 
Okay, now to be serious for just a few minutes, I do want to offer a suggestion for a marketing possibility you might want to consider. Podcasts are gaining in popularity, and some time ago I joined J. David Core in his new venture, the Thrills and Mystery Podcasts. This is a weekly fiction show featuring crime stories, noir, thrillers, mysteries, adventure and other tales written by a number of indie-writers and publishers. This LINK is to the first season on iTunes, and all of the stories are free. (Just in case you are dying to read mine, it is number four, Escaping Raul.)

Podcasts are fun to listen to, and there are quite a few mystery writers who have submitted stories for the Thrills and Mystery series. Some of the authors read their own stories, while others, like me, let J. David read them. He does a great job, adding information about the author and the books to the front end, and then giving a dramatic reading.

Teaming up for marketing and promoting is something that many authors are doing quite successfully, as Merry Farmer wrote about in her September 4th post here at The Blood Red Pencil, Author Cross-Promotions. There are multi-author blogs, authors contributing to boxed sets of books, and authors contributing to anthologies. We even did an anthology of stories from the staff of The Blood Red Pencil - The Corner Cafe, and I have contributed stories to other anthologies, including Stacy Juba's 25 Years in The Rearview Mirror, which she offered free to herald her mystery Twenty-Five Years Ago Today.


Some of the anthologies and prequels are offered free in the hopes that readers will like the gift and purchase other books by the authors. That works well for the most part, and is certainly worth trying. Sales of Open Season and Stalking Season, which are promoted in the Thrills and Mystery podcasts, have been steady. It is hard to measure if sales are coming from that exposure, but I believe it has had some impact. If I was really into numbers and analyzing said numbers, I'm sure I could trace hits and links and all that stuff, but I'd rather spend my time writing.

And now for one last chuckle:

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?"
She answered, "If I tell you, it will defeat the purpose."
Posted by Maryann Miller - novelist, editor and sometimes actress. Her most recent mystery, Doubletake, was named the 2015 Best Mystery by the Texas Association of Authors. She has a number of other books published, including the critically-acclaimed Season Series that debuted with Open Season. Information about her books and her editing rates is available on her website. When not working, Maryann likes to take her dog for a walk and work outside on her little ranch in East Texas.

18 comments :

  1. Good ... and amusing ... stuff, Maryann. One of these days I'm going to do some of those things ... one of these days.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Christopher. We all have things we are going to do one of these days. :-)

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  2. Promotion is such a headache, it was a relief to laugh about it today.

    Susan Says

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    1. We all need a chuckle now and then. It's a great stress reliever.

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  3. The last line of your post is my favorite. :) Also when it comes to public appearances, I am surprised by how "casual" dress codes have become.Luckily, as writers, we are not paid for our looks. But I do believe you should always put your best foot forward. I still maintain that leggings and tights are not pants. :)

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    1. Definitely agree about the leggings and tights. Unfit for professional appearances unless they are under a very long top (just above the knee) or a dress suitable for such an occasion.

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  4. The last line of your post is my favorite. :) Also when it comes to public appearances, I am surprised by how "casual" dress codes have become.Luckily, as writers, we are not paid for our looks. But I do believe you should always put your best foot forward. I still maintain that leggings and tights are not pants. :)

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    1. Leggings and tights can work well if you have a model's body and a really lovely top that hits about knee-high. LOL

      Glad you liked the joke. It made me smile when I found it.

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  5. I did like this post. A nursing home? Really? I admire your ingenuity. I honestly don't know what works. I've been on a podcast: Authors on the Air, after the hostess read one of my books. I've done a book trailer, which I thought came out pretty well. I think you just have to keep trying different venues, different promo ideas. I always say the best promo is to write another book. :-)

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    1. I wouldn't have planned an event in a nursing home, and never will again, but my MIL was in this one and my SIL thought it might be nice. I was going to Michigan to see relatives and had planned an event at the Senior Center where my mother lived at the time. That one went much better than the nursing home experience. :-)

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    2. I just thought of where my mother was. Not good.

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    3. My MIL was in a very nice place that had people needng different levels of care. The activity director assured me there were,plenty of folks who might enjoy a book event. Not sure where those folks were that day.,LOL

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  6. I'm sorry, I am SO going to start selling my books on street corners now. At my age it would be exciting to be arrested for solicitation!

    Thanks for a cute article!

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    1. LOL, Amy. At one point when our finances were very strained I suggested that I could go stand on the street corner and sell books. My husband wasn't thrilled with that idea.

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  7. I admire your resourcefulness, Maryann. Looking for readers challenges most of us, and it's an ongoing search.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Linda. You are so right about the endless task of promoting and marketing. Sigh....

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  8. Those are some great don'ts! And, yes, I believe cross promotion is essential for authors to get the word out and reach varied readers.

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    1. Thanks, Morgan. I love the fact that we have groups of authors who help us with that cross promotion. I see your name out there on lists, and you are great about giving a shout out for your fellow author. I do believe that mutual support is so important.

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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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