At least, this week it is…
List of marketing tasks (I mean tools. TOOLS):
Storytellers Unplugged blog
Book trailer/COS Productions
Personal mailing list
Reader mailing list
Library mailing list
Bookstore mailing list
Invitations to book launch
Posting on websites –
Posting on weblists –
-Murder Must Advertise
-Sisters in Crime
Participation in local chapters of genre associations – each with online lists
And that’s just off the top of my head – no doubt I’m leaving out several obvious things.
No wonder authors are always tired and frazzled, right? The above is pretty much the list, give or take, that we all juggle all the time IN ADDITION to writing. Things fall off the list, until the moment that we hear another author talking about one of the things on the list, and then we jump back into it.
Or we wake up in the middle of the night as if the smoke alarm has just gone off: “OMG, I’m completely out of bookmarks and Left Coast Crime is NEXT WEEK.”
We’ve been talking on and off over the last few weeks about cutting down on all that and spending most of our time on writing. Excellent. Only when I had one of those reality check talks with my editor this week about whether I should cancel some of my upcoming promotional events for THE PRICE so I could get Book 3 in on time, he said, “No! Do the promotion!”
Well, that’s not too vague.
Still, there must be a better way. There must.
The thing is, it ALL works. It’s almost impossible to say what works the best, because I think that shifts, actually. You can’t predict which is going to be the best conference of the year, and you can’t predict which bookstore you randomly drop into is going to have the handseller of your dreams, and you can’t predict which random blog post is going to get you that coveted gig on Murderati. 😉
But there are some things that you start to suspect are worth moving toward the top of the list.
Of course, that may change from week to week, or it might be an idea you cling to because you can’t possibly do it all.
But this week, the two things that I’ve moved toward the top of the list are the mailing list and the book trailer.
I mentioned Vertical Response last week (I think that was last week.) It’s a direct mail marketing software that’s free to get started on and costs very little to send out a bulk e mail campaign (which they can do for you without your e mail account being shut down for spamming). There are many great things about VR:
– It has all kinds of templates with layouts and easy ways to upload book cover images, even for the technologically challenged.
– It saves all your e mails and lists in one station for easy, permanent access.
– It has features that let you separate your lists into specific segments for specific mailings so that you can customize an announcement and send it out with different information to different segments of your list (like sending out your California signing schedule to all your California readers) – without risking deluging the same people with your announcements.
Now, the thing about a program like this is that there’s a learning curve – you have to figure out how to do it and how to use it and, oh yeah – you have to take the time to build your list to begin with. But after working with it pretty intensively over the last week I can see how this is a really targeted, CHEAP way to reach people who have, after all, actually ASKED you to keep them informed about your books.
So maintaining a detailed mailing list has moved to the top of MY marketing list, and taking an hour to update the list every two weeks or so is one of my belated New Year’s resolutions.
My second big marketing ploy at the moment is the book trailer. We all hear a lot of chatter about these on various lists these days. I decided to do them for the paperback release of THE HARROWING and the hardcover release of THE PRICE mainly because of two people: our own Toni, who talked to me about how excited our mutual publisher got about her excellent trailer (and I thought – That’s reason enough to do it right there), and the wildly successful Christine Feehan, who very kindly spent a long time with me at Heather Graham’s New Orleans conference talking about how doing a book trailer was in her experience the most important marketing tool available to authors. Christine emphasized that the company that does her trailers, Circle of Seven Productions, doesn’t just make the trailer for you, but also distributes it to several dozen websites that feature book trailers. COS has also just made a deal with Barnes and Noble and Powell’s Books to put all their authors’ trailers on those websites, and COS also functions as a PR firm for their authors – they’ve already passed along several great interview opportunities free of charge.
Making a trailer is more of an investment – of either your own time, or money – than other marketing tools, but once you have a trailer there are multitudes of uses for it. You can link to the trailer in your newsletter, embed it on all your websites and blogs, send it to bookstores and libraries where you’re appearing to advertise your appearance… some conferences like Romantic Times charge a relatively low fee to broadcast your trailer during their mass signings (I found myself mesmerized by the trailers at RT).
I can’t say I have any evidence for this yet, but I’m starting to suspect that the additional exposure of a trailer is gold.
And it costs less to make one than the cost of going to a conference, for example. Something to think about.
So that’s my marketing report for the month. As always, would love to hear other authors AND readers thoughts on what works for them.
And anyone who can explain to us all how to do RSS feeds gets a signed hardcover of THE PRICE, hot off the press.