Do the words 'book marketing' make you cry?
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Hello to all our lovely listeners. Welcome to Marketing Monday. This is a new segment we created because, honestly, if you're not Stephen King, you're probably panicking on some level about how to market your work. We aren't here to give you an overall, complete strategy, but rather to serve up some digestible nuggets of things you can do that won't result in a lot of brain damage and won't make you run screaming out of the room because we don't want to do that. Let's just not go there. So for today's episode, we're going to give you an overview of some of the topics we're going to cover more in depth in future Marketing Monday episodes. We plan to put this all together, when we're done, as an online course that you can take. So we're probably going to do about six months worth of Marketing Monday episodes. That equals about six complete episodes. So we hope that this will be helpful and that you will stick with us through these episodes. And one quick tip before we jump in is that it is really easy to get caught up in creating Marketing Buzz and doing all that hard work and lose sight of the fact that your first job is to write the book. So please, please, keep that in mind as we go through this.Lisa Schmid:
It's true, the first rule of thumb is to write the book. But I will say it's really easy to get caught up in the frenzy of marketing your book. It's so simple to just start throwing everything at the wall and hoping that something sticks. And I know, when my first book came out I was in a debut group and I was doing everything. I was like spinning around and shooting things left and right.Beth McMullen:
You were in, like in that horror movie, the Exorcist, where her head spins around and she peeps, she peeps, soup all over it. That was you. You were the writer version of the Exorcist.Lisa Schmid:
I was and I literally did everything. I did every chat group, I did every blog, you know. Request I did. I mean, I was everywhere doing everything I possibly could and I was so stressed out and feeling like I could never do enough and then, on top of that, like worrying about making sure I was supporting the other authors in my debut group and in what they had going on. So it's like you have this layered effect of marketing madness. That kind of takes over and I stopped writing during debut because I was just freaking out and I think I even felt more pressure because I was from a smaller press and I knew that or I felt that everything was on me, and so I just that's like a cautionary tale Manage your time and don't get caught up and pick and choose what you think is really going to work for you is, I think, always good advice.Beth McMullen:
And something that is connected to that is this idea that it's all or nothing Right, because you, like you just explained, you went all in on the marketing, didn't have time for the actual writing. Then, when you realize what you're doing, you stop all the marketing, just do the writing. I think what everybody should be striving for is some happy medium where you've discovered the marketing things that you can digest, that don't make you sick to your stomach, that you can do on a regular and timely basis while also doing the writing.Lisa Schmid:
I think it's a tough lesson. It's a hard lesson, I think, no matter how much we say it. I think when you get your first book out there, you're so excited that your head's about to pop off because you're just like, yes, I'm going to do everything you do, and you're just like just this crazy person constantly doing everything. But now this is only my second book, but I learned so much from my debut experience. I had somebody on Twitter that posted do you want to be featured on my blog for next year? For just 20, 24 books. I was like, yeah, here's my title, I'd love to be featured. Then she came back and sent me a DM that said okay, here's your application to apply. I love it. It's so bold. I'm like I just looked at it and I laughed and I'm like I'm not applying to be on your blog, like that's. You know I don't have time for that and I just deleted it. But you know it is a bridge too far. But three, when my debut came out, I would have done that, and so that's what I guess. The point of my story is pick and choose. If something seems like a time suck, that's just like taking away and there's no real benefit or the benefit isn't worth your time. Don't do it and don't feel like you have to do everything Right.Beth McMullen:
Get over the guilt, let the guilt go. This is guilt free. And then I think you also need to keep in your back, your head how much bang for your buck are you getting out of the effort? Because there are going to be things that you do. When you put a lot of time and effort into it and it sells nothing not a single book it doesn't move the needle at all. So keep in your head how is this marketing effort going to move the needle? And if the answer to that is not at all, well, if you enjoy it, go for it. But if it's something that feels like hard labor and it's not going to move the needle, then maybe pass on that and pick something else that's more beneficial to your outcome.Lisa Schmid:
All right. So let's start with number one build an author brand. It's important to develop a consistent author brand across platforms that reflects your writing style, your values and your personality. So, if you are on several different social media sites, which I think everybody is right now because of everything that's going on, make sure that you're consistent with your messaging. I think that's really important because different people are going to find you on different spaces and it all needs to match up so that if you're, for example, like me I'm a middle grade writer. I project everything that is on any of my platforms. I'm middle grade, I'm, you know, books, this is who I am Like. You're not going to go on to another platform and see me talking about the bad service I had at McDonald's or whatever. You know what I mean. I just keep it consistent. If it doesn't reflect your brand, then don't do it.Beth McMullen:
That's true. That's true, and some of that requires that you figure out what that brand is and brand we use super loosely right. Just what are the things that reflect your writing style? What are your values? How do you highlight the things of your personality you think that relate to your work. So, you know, think about that before you start going out and building the brand because you don't want to have done a lot of work and then realize that it's not an accurate reflection of what you're writing. The second one build a strong online presence. So you need a website or a blog or something where people can show up and learn about you and your work, and it doesn't have to be complicated. My website is literally a page with all of my book covers on it and then a little a place where you can find out a little bit about me, a place where you can sign up for my newsletter or email me. That's really everything that's on my website, because all I want to talk to people about is my books and my writing and the writing process. So it does not have to be complicated, it doesn't have to be fancy. It's just kind of like a billboard in most cases, because a lot of our back and forth communication is happening on social media platforms. So you want to choose the social media platforms that feel good to you and don't make you sick to your stomach. So recently I have dumped a very specific social media platform because it made me sick to my stomach and I couldn't go there anymore. So figure out what you like. Is it Instagram? Do you feel like? Visual Is your thing? Is it TikTok, because you love to make videos? Facebook, because that's where all your friends are. So figure out the social media platform that aligns most with what you're trying to do and who you're trying to talk to and be active, as active as you can be. Is that showing up every day to share something? Is that showing up once a week? Just figure out what works for you. There are no hard and fast worlds. It's really a personal choice. But you want to be sharing updates on your book and what you're doing, and if you had some fun, creative inspiration, maybe share that. You don't want it to only be book advertising. If you show up every six months and say, hey, I have a new book coming out, nobody's going to listen. So you do want to show up enough so that you feel and appear as if you're engaged and not just showing up to do advertising. You can also create a podcast like this. This is one of the marketing things that Lisa and I chose to do because we love it and it's really fun and we get to talk to lots of cool people, so it's a little bit self-serving, but also marketing. You can do a YouTube channel. Just figure out what you like and what you're going to stick to and personally, myself, I recommend fewer rather than more. If you try to do all the social media platforms and YouTube and TikTok and make a podcast again, you're never going to write a single word. You're going to be overwhelmed. So find the one that works for you and focus on that.Lisa Schmid:
Next up, develop followers and fans. A way to do this is to build an email list of readers and potential fans and send regular newsletters with updates, book launch announcements and exclusive content. The key to a newsletter is you need to do this consistently and commit to it, whether it's once a month, once every three months, whatever it is.Beth McMullen:
You wanted to be a regular part of people's lives, so they expect it to show up and they're waiting for it and they read it, and you want to keep it short enough that they can digest it.Lisa Schmid:
A couple of things to consider when you're doing your newsletters, so that you don't get too bogged down, is to do author interviews, book reviews, new releases, events in your area that are book-related, and fun guest articles. Keep it short and sweet. It just needs to be one page. You're just trying to reach out and touch your fans and your readers, to keep them apprised of what's going on and make them feel special, like they're getting something nobody else is getting.Beth McMullen:
So actually I can tell a quick story about newsletters. I took this online single day class with Dan Blank, who does a lot of work with authors and marketing and whatnot, and it was a one day class on sub stack and just kind of walking through how to set it up and how to use it. And so many people have migrated their creative content to sub stack and I wanted to try it because I love the idea of a newsletter. I have a nice big chunk of email addresses in my address book for newsletters and I wasn't really using it. So I thought about what it was that I would like to do, that I would show up to do consistently, and I decided to frame it as kind of a companion to this podcast. Now I've been writing for 20 years, I've published 10 books I think I'm slowly getting over my imposter syndrome and I wanted to share directly with readers some of the experiences that I've had to help them navigate writing a book and publishing a book, and so I called it. You can write a book, and the first issue literally went out today. So I decided to do it by weekly, because I am very bad at consistency, but I figure I can manage once every other week, so we'll see how it goes. If you want to check it out, it's on sub stack and yeah, so I'm feeling like very optimistic today. I will check back with you in a month and we'll see how optimistic I'm feeling about my newsletter then. But newsletters are a great way to connect with readers. Another good thing about them is you are not held hostage to somebody's platform. For example, we've all seen the changes at Twitter slash X, slash, whatever it's called today. Some of those you know. I had 4,000 followers on there, but I was no longer comfortable with what was happening in the platform, so I had to walk away from that A newsletter. You own that list. You don't have to walk away from it. So that's also another benefit to doing a newsletter.Lisa Schmid:
That's a huge benefit and considering how fluid everything is in social media right now, like one second one, one platform's hot and then it's not, and then it's like now everyone's moving over here. You have no control and it sounds like with sub stack and with doing the newsletter you do, you retain control. It's your property. Nobody can come in and take that away from you.Beth McMullen:
I mean sub stack can go away, but you're still going to have the email list that belongs to you. Right and honestly, we could do an entire show on the the flux and flow of social media right now, because it's it's like. It's like being in one of those wave pools where you're constantly getting swamped and you can't quite stay above water, even though you're trying like hell because you don't want to drown.Lisa Schmid:
Well, and you know, when you say that when we talk about like 4,000 followers or I've got so many followers over here, do you, do you really like people don't see your stuff? You know, it's one of those things where I post on Twitter and it's the same people are responding, because it's the same people that are seeing it. Like the algorithms really dictate who sees what you're posting. So, in reality, yeah, I've got, you know, 3,500 followers, but who's really seeing it? And so with a newsletter, you do have control and you can see who's seen it. When you get your little reports and you can look at it and see what's been opened, how many times there's been click-throughs, you have control, and control is a nice thing, especially when we're out there just spinning and trying to see what works, and to me this sounds like I might be starting a newsletter.Beth McMullen:
See, our episode is so good. We have already we've already convinced Lisa to start a newsletter. I feel like my work is done here. I'm just gonna like end this episode right now. But no, we're not gonna end the episode because we have more. Our next one. This is a good one. I actually like this one because it can be kind of fun and again with marketing, if it's fun for you as the author, chances are you're going to be more consistent in doing it. This one is partner with other authors in your genre for joint promotions, giveaways, cross promotions, to tap into their reader base, to share your reader base. You can do panels, you can do virtual events together. There's so much that you can do in this space nowadays, especially because we're all so familiar with virtual presentations and things of that nature. For middle grade, I love pairing with another author or two authors and offering up school visits. They're always more fun if you have more than one author coming. That one's fun and it's personal and you get to know people and you don't feel so alone in this process, which is definitely something that you will experience. If you're just starting out, you'll have moments where you think am I the only one doing this. Why do I feel so isolated? This sort of thing with other writers in your space helps you transcend that feeling of being the only one doing this.Lisa Schmid:
When my first book came out, I joined a couple different groups the Spooky Middle Grade and the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade authors. Both are fantastic groups. With the Spooky Middle Grade, they were really geared towards school visits. There would always be four of us doing school visits. It was a shared effort and it was also us all out there marketing. That's the benefit of when you're with a group. You have maybe 15, 20 authors that are out there marketing to their base. Your audience grows.Beth McMullen:
Great amplification, for sure. But again back to our point that we made a few minutes ago pick one or two that really resonate with you, that you feel like these people are speaking your language and that you are going to have a good crossover of audience and that you're going to feel very comfortable promoting them. Do your homework, find the group and then figure out ways that you can work yourself into it. How can you help them? What can you volunteer to do within the organization? There's always opportunity. We could go on forever about that one, and we will in a future episode, but that's a really good one to think about as you're getting into your marketing cycle.Lisa Schmid:
Right Next up network. Network is huge and that's not just like what we were just talking about, but it's participating in online book clubs and forums and groups where your target audience hangs out, build relationships and share your expertise. One thing that just recently came to mind for me is I saw a friend post on Twitter that she is starting to do school visits, and I was able to point her into the direction of a teacher Facebook group that is looking for authors to do school visits. So it's like that networking aspect is really a key component to your marketing plan.Beth McMullen:
Yeah, I like that. I like the idea that by being helpful to others, it's going to come back to you at some point. So good to keep that in mind. Network with your author friends and set stuff up or just get together to talk. You don't even have to be doing a marketing thing, you can just get together on zoom in person if it's local, whatever, and just it's a great opportunity. Just talk about the things that you're doing, the stresses that you're enduring. Maybe they have an idea that you think is great, that you want to try. Maybe you have something to share Again, it's just a really great opportunity for face to face interaction. You know conferences are great for that if you have the resources to attend. So, yeah, I mean, that's a. I think that's a really important one.Lisa Schmid:
Well, and it doesn't even have to be book related. It could be something like I'm really into pugs, I love pugs and I have a book going on sub that is about a crime solving pug and so one of the things I like, I like my favorite, I love this. I need, I was like I need to join all the pub groups out there because if this book ever gets published, I want to say look, I have a crime solving pug book that's coming out and you know that those people are going to buy it if they have kids.Beth McMullen:
Totally. I did that exact same thing with my secret of the storm storm series, which features a black cat, and I joined the black cat appreciation Facebook club, which has Thousands and thousands of members, I might point out, and I joined all these things for people who are black cat enthusiasts and I am telling you, it Talk about consuming your day. I would just get sucked into those places and all the cute pictures and the people are hilarious and they're so into their crazy cats and I'm a crazy cat person so I fit right in and it was really fun. And then when the book came out, I had been there long enough that it didn't feel like I was advertising to them. Right, just said listen, I have this book. It's based on this cat that I've been showing you pictures of for the last six months. Here you go. So again, those sorts of things are great and they're really fun if it's something you're into, but make sure you show up well in advance of the moment when you want to try to get them to help you.Lisa Schmid:
And it's the same thing. Like I joined, I'm a member of a bunch of different paranormal groups because I love ghost stories and so, again, keep in mind, it's not just your book writing, it's what your interests are. That may tie into that that you can use as a resource to get your book out there.Beth McMullen:
Exactly and those things are genuine. They come across as genuine because you are legitimately interested in them.Lisa Schmid:
One of the things I love about this idea of doing marketing Mondays is I feel like we're both going to learn as we go along, because it's just everything has changed so much Just in the last six months that I don't feel like I have a solid footing on anything when it comes to social media or anything. It just it all feels just so fluid and weird and I just need to find a new path forward.Beth McMullen:
I completely agree with you. One of the reasons I love this podcast is, every time we bring somebody on, I end up learning something new, definitely, and maybe it's something that I can put into practice immediately, or maybe it's just something that makes my brain feel bigger, and I like that. We are on this journey with you. It's an exploration for all of us and I think we're going to discover some really interesting stuff that you can use right away. Right, okay, so this is going to be fun. I'm super excited. I hope you like this episode, our little rundown, and, as we said, we're going to dig deep into all of these and add more future episodes. These will come up once a month. Marketing Mondays will be every fourth episode. We will be back next week with young adult and middle grade author, elizabeth Ylberg to talk about her up and moving to London and how that's influenced her writing and her career and all sorts of other fun stuff. So be sure to join us for that one and until then, happy reading, writing and listening. Bye Lisa, bye Beth, bye guys.