What's the point of this blog!

I'm documenting the marketing for my YA book series "The chick friends rules". I want to see which marketing strategies will work best in creating buzz and hopefully income. So, sign up below and take the journey with me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is your writing a hobby or a business?

After receiving some very interesting emails on my post asking readers how they would spend $5000 for book marketing, it made me want to delve into the subject further. Most of the responses were "Are you crazy, why would you spend $5000 on marketing an indie book?" I counted 24 emails literally giving me a virtual thumping on the head for being so foolish. But, it made me more confused. Is this a business or is it a hobby? One reader said that $5000 doesn't come close to competing with the big publishing companies therefore it would be throwing money out of the window because it still wouldn't drum up enough business. And another reader suggested not to be concerned with paid advertising but on building 1000 readers and letting it grow slowly. So, are they right? How do we know? I have a theory that we as indie writers have been so conditioned that our books are not going to sell that it stops us from trying from the moment we write The End on the last page of our books. If we don't try to sell our books commercially doesn't that just make what we're doing a hobby? It would be the same as opening a business in the middle of the desert hoping customers will show up or hoping one customer is going to go back an tell enough people to keep your desert store open. How are we to reach readers if we aren't supposed to spend money promoting it? Okay, there's word of mouth, but word of mouth isn't free, I have proof of that from the number of freebies I've sent out to bloggers, reviewers and winners. Don't get me wrong, I'm not itching to spend $5000, I can think of a lot of other things I'd rather spend $5k on, like European vacation or a pair of beautiful diamond earrings. But I don't want my writing to be nothing more than a hobby, if that was the case then most of us would be satisfied with writing for the simple pleasure of it with no real intentions of success. I don't know if that's enough for me. Am I alone? So,is your writing a hobby or a business? I'm just asking.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What are you willing to sacrifice for your writing career?

I looked around my house today and its a sty. I've been working almost day and night on marketing my book that I've let some things go; housework, my day job, family meals, etc. And I asked myself; how far am I willing to go? I honestly don't know right now. I'm only 5 weeks into the marketing process and I have to admit sometimes I'm fatigued and wonder if I can push forward for another 47 weeks. I was reading a book on meditation the other day and I read that we should take at least 30 minutes a day to be quiet and listen to our inner voice, God, Oprah (just kidding) or what ever. Well, it took me about an hour to sit still but once I did, I could have sworn I heard something say, "keep going". It was a little spooky. And then I asked the universe to allow my series to be successful. They say be careful what you ask for, you just might get it, but my rebuttal to that is, "the universe know what I mean when I'm asking for something? Why do I have to spell it out? It's the universe for goodness sake. Aren't my deepest desires obvious? Why does there have to be a caveat to my request? Anyway, I don't know yet how much I'm willing to sacrifice for my writing career, I haven't gotten to the end of the road yet. So, please share with us how far you will go for your writing career. By the way, the Goodreads giveaway was a huge success. I had 652 request for my book. That lets me know I have interested readers. That was a nice shot in the arm

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is paying for a good book review cheating?

I ask this question because I received an email today soliciting the service; first I wondered how they got my email address but then for a minute I actually gave it some thoughtful consideration. I once received a book review from a blogger complaining about my comma splices and my ego was bruised for a couple of hours so what's wrong with paying for a positive nudge in the right direction? But, don't worry, I'd rather spend the $125 on something else. However, I can understand how a writer would be tempted so I'm not going to demonize the service. It has it's place. Generating reviews takes time, lots of time. Restaurants sometimes pay for good reviews,so what's the difference? Selling books is a business after all. So, I ask you; have you or would you ever pay for a good book review? Please respond and sign up if you haven't done so already; the more the merrier.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10 things I've learned in one month of marketing my book.

It's my one month anniversary. I began this blog a little over one month ago; September 17 to be exact. I feel like a whiny girlfriend wanting to celebrate every little milestone. But I think it's important to note any noticeable achievements I've made in regards to my marketing plan so all of us small indie authors/publishers have at best a road map on what to expect when marketing our books. So, here we go and I'll do it like David Letterman, just probably not as funny. Note: this information is assuming you already have your book published and available to the public.

10. Keep a journal. Its important to have some documentation for reference of your daily activities so you can better keep track of what you're doing. Mine is this blog.

9.Connect with other writers for moral support. It's important to surround yourself with positive people, like-minded artsy people; not folks that are going to tell you to get over it and try to convince you that what you're doing is just a pipe dream. I don't tell "regular" people my business because "regular" people are buzzkills. I don't even share too much of what I'm doing with my own husband because he's not an artist and doesn't get it. "Regular" people don't share my passion for writing, it's all dollars and cents to them and the last thing I wanna hear is, "so, how many books did you sell?" or "Is there any money in that?" Ughhh, get the hell away from me dude. So, I only talk about this to fellow writers.

8. "Big" magazines are willing to negotiate. Don't be afraid to contact an ad rep. I Googled, the top ten teen magazines and contacted the kind folks over at Girl's Life magazine. My hands shook the whole time wondering if they would even talk to a small fry like me. But, not only did they talk to me, they were willing to throw in a lot of extra sweeteners for my business; more than they advertised online. They want your business so they may not be as out of reach as one might think. I'm considering advertising with them the first of the year or early spring.

7. Be prepared for the giveaway. I purchased 10 books this month for giveaways. To date I have given away 8 books with two left to go. For me 10 books a month is manageable. Maybe for someone else, it's 5 books a month or 20 book. And don't forget to budget for postage. Ask for the book rate at the Post Office, it'll take 7-10 days to get to the winner instead of 3-5 days but its way cheaper than First Class.

6.Connect with book bloggers in your genre. This is crucial. Find a blog directory in your particular genre and start working your way down the list. I made it my job to send out 10 emails a day asking YA bloggers if I could participate in a giveaway, interview or guest post in exchange for a review of my book. Out of 10 emails I'd might get one response. Some of them didn't have time for reviews but agreed to a giveaway. Book bloggers need giveaways to maintain their site. It's a two way street, they need the giveaway and we need the exposure. I would have at least one giveaway going per week.

5.Get a website and book trailer. It's a no brainier. I have a website for the book series but not a personal author's website. There are plenty of do-it-yourself sites where you pick a template and just add photos and information. The one I have cost only $9.99 per month and is super easy to use. If it's possible try to create a book trailer and place it on Youtube. I created my own trailer using stock footage. And don't forget to connect it to all of your social media as well.

4.Social media is a must. I'm not a fan but its a must. I got a Twitter account for myself and a separate one for the book. Don't forget a Facebook "Like" page for the book and make sure to connect everything to your website, your e-mail, your book trailer, your FB account and the Twitter account.

3. Just go ahead and pay for a Facebook ad. A Facebook ad is inexpensive, simple and easy to create, just make sure you have an attractive ad and able to sell it in about 50 words or less. If you've ever had to create a classified ad it's similar to that. I went through a couple of ads before settling on the one I'm using now. You can connect your FB ad to either your website or your "Like" page. Pay attention to the demographics as well. Mine were United State, ages 14-18, male and females interested in literature and reading. They have demographic choices down to the zip code and personal hobbies and activities. The bids for cost per click is negotiable and can be changed at your discretion as long as it falls within the "bid range". On the weekends where user activity was high, I paid $0.40 per click but on for example a Tuesday where user activity was low, I only paid $0.19 per click. You're allowed to set your own budget, dates and even time of day the users will see your ad. Super useful for exposure, not sales. To date with a two week ad; over 70,000 people have seen my ad at least 3 times. The first week I sent the ad directly to my website and the second week I sent my ad directly to the "Like" page. I prefer the "Like" page because I know exactly who's interested in my book and I can vet them later as potential customers. I've had 4 sales as a direct result from my FB ad. So, again, its good for exposure, not sales.

2. Goodreads.com is another must. I didn't know about Goodreads.com until I received my first review from one of the bloggers. It's like FB but for bookworms. You can create an Authors Page where you can upload your books, write reviews, find friends, join groups, upload your blog, excerpts from your book, participate in giveaways for your book, and of course connect to your FB and twitter account. I spend a good part of my day managing my Authors Page. the resources are endless.

1.Be productive everyday to keep yourself inspired and focused. Hey, guys if you like this; sign up and take the one year journey with me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's more important to an author; sales or readership?

I made a very bold move today in the quest for marketing my series. I decided to giveaway an ebook copy of freshman year for one week only on Goodreads.com starting on Oct 31. And sell it and sophomore year for only $0.99 on Kindle and Nook, thereafter. The reason; I worked for two years to produce this series and I'll be damned if it sits on an Amazon or B&N virtual shelf collecting dust because of my ego. I'd rather give it away. So, for me readership is more important. I'm a first time author, I have to build a fan base where however possible. I can always charge full price on the next go around when everyone knows my name and bow at my presence. It was a hard decision and I'm about to take a shot of 6 year old whiskey and go back to bed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How would you spend $5000 if that's all you had to promote your book?

Hmmmmm....I'm really curious and I invite authors and publishers to chime in and share. I honestly don't know. Personally, I think I would spend most of it on giveaways and hope that word of mouth would follow. Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How much does it cost to market your book?

I have been researching the internet trying to find an answer to this question. And the answers are across the board. I've read $20,000 up to $50,000. I ask the question because I need to have a foundation and an end point. I'm trying to be realistic. I believe a lot of indie-authors/publishers have problems because they think writing a good book is enough. But I believe there has to eventually be some form of paid advertisement. They say the best advertisement is word of mouth but that's not free either. Here's the financial breakdown for my "word of mouth" campaign. I did the math and so far my budget has come to a total of; let me see here------gettin' my calculator-------hold on, almost done--------$191.00. Let's break it down, shall we: $40 for 10 books for blog giveaways $25 for postage $98 for a two week Facebook Ad campaign $28 for a two week Goodread Ad campaign My budget is $5000 which is a loooonnnnggggg way from the minimum of $20,000. How did I come up with the $5,000 number? According to sources, that's usually the average a first time author will receive for an advance. My focus is going to be how to spend that $5000 wisely and make it stretch to the four corners of the globe or just Illinois.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Social media is not my frined

I have spent the past 5 hours; you heard me correctly, 5 hours trying to put that stupid FB "Like" button on my website. I failed miserably. The best I could do is the badge that takes visitors to my fan page; that will have to do. On the positive side, I'm getting a lot of positive results from my goodreads page where I'm promoting a giveaway; 248 request.I was offered a do a guest post on a blog as well; still waiting for the details.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Those sneaky Facebook ad people

Okay, more drama with my FB ad. When I was paying .40 per click I received 16 clicks Saturday to my landing page or website. and 23 clicks to my landing page on Sunday. When I reduced my pay per click to .25 on Monday, I received a total of; get this guys, 3 freakin clicks to my landing page. See the pattern. I just increased my pay per click to .30, so we'll see what happens today. Before I get my panties in a bunch; you know what I'm thinking? It was over the weekend too, maybe that has something to do with it. Well, if that's the case; in the future I can spend more on the clicks over the weekend and less on the weekday. I'll see how many clicks I get today with .30 and get back to you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Facebook update

So, I went ahead and paid for a FB ad on Friday; so here's an update. I received 48 clicks directly to my website and spent $15.01 of my $98 budget. The ad reached 45,508 viewers out of 4.5 million. My son read my ad and said it was misleading and convinced me to change it. He said it sounded like I was selling a how-to guide to teenage girls. He also convinced me to increase my demographic from only high school girls ages 14-17 to include male and female, college and high school ages 13-18 and my demographic went from over 300 thousand to 4.5 million. Here's a new learned crumb of information; I did't know I could change the bid per click depending on the volume of clicks I was getting. The original bid was for .41 per click by Sunday morning when the volume of viewers increased and my suggested bid went down to .23 per click so I reduced it to .25 per click. But the funny thing, the number of clicks have slowed down so now I'm thinking to play around with the bid and increase it to say .35 per click and see what happens. My goal is conservative, I was hoping for at least one sale but reading online articles on marketing says that a person has to see an ad an average of 7 times before making a purchase, so my 1 sale goal may be too ambitious. Keep ya posted.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Taking the plunge with a Facebook ad

Set up my first FB ad campaign, it took 15 minutes. The budget; $0 .40 pay per click, $7.00 per day, 2 weeks, which comes to a grand total of $98 by the time the ad campaign is done. All I had to do was upload my book cover, add a catchy phrase in 50 words or less, set up my demographics (U.S. only, English, girls, 13-17, literature/reading). There were 352,000 girls that met that demographic. Breaking it down further, it gives me roughly 18 clicks per day. I sacrificed a sexy pair of black leather boots at T.J. Maxx for this add; we'll see how it goes,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Don't worry, they'll come around...eventually.

I received three emails from bloggers agreeing to a giveaway. It may not sound like a biggie but I blogged them over six weeks ago and put them in my "did not reply" pile which seems to be growing by the minute. I've learned its important to put the fillers out there and eventually they'll come around. It was an important lesson; give it time. I have to keep stirring the pot until I get the desired result, but sometimes the desired result comes at a snail's pace. But it comes, so stick with it. I was watching the other day; (oh, my god I'm about to admit it) FOX new and Donald Trump and his hair (gag) was on and he was soliciting a new book about being a successful business person. He said one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is giving up to soon before they have an opportunity to get their product or service out to the masses. I agree. My husband and I opened a restaurant 15 years ago and closed the doors in the first 3 months of business. I hate to this day that we gave up. We had an out and we took it. My husband had a steady 9-5 job so when the going got tough, we bailed the moment we hit a rough patch. I'm not doing that this time around. I'm too old to learn the same lessons. Oh yeah, I have an ad guy, yayyy!!!! He is going to create some online ads that I can use on Facebook and Goodreads. The creative process is always lots of fun. I can't wait to see what he comes up with so I can share it with the world or at least girls 13-17.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Afraid of failure

Yes, I am. Very much so. The odds are against me, I know. But something keeps propelling me to go through this process. I'm scared to death, I can't even lie. I'm at an age in my life where I can't afford to make too many mistakes. Mistakes are costly to the wallet and the self-esteem. One of my sister's once said (I have two), "dreams are over when you get old." How sad, but for so many over the age of 40, its true. We, resign ourselves to a life of quiet mediocrity and forget the dreams of our youth. When we're young it never occurs to us that our dreams might not come true, we just believe As we get older we go through our first disappointment, and another, and another and another until we "grow up" and we no longer dream. I told my daughter who is a 20 years old aspiring stylist taking a one year sabbatical in Hawaii that dreams are a lot of work. Having a dream isn't enough, sometimes having a dream is an extra 60 hours a week of work outside of the regular 9-5, it's money, energy and focus. No one hands you your dreams on a silver platter. All that being said, there are so many times when I question if I should continue down this journey or just do something easier but then I start writing. Last night I began my pre-edit on "senior year" the last edition of my series and the words flow like water. I'm so in my element and it feels so good and so right and I remember why I'm doing the hard part; because the easy part is a beautiful thing. I am a writer, that's what I do. I love words and I have the talent for finding just the right combination of words to make people laugh, cry, think and feel. That's the gift the universe gave me and so even though it sometimes terrifies me that my words will not reach the masses, the feelings that flow through me when I write give me just enough fuel to keep going.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ahhh, c'mon do I have to do social media?.....

I have signed a user name and password for more s...t! This whole social media thing makes me want to rip my hair out. I'm not going to even pretend that I'm enjoying this part of marketing. And don't get me started on trying to figure out how to connect everything, connect Twitter to FB...email to the blog...ughhh I give up. I have 9 FB friends, and 3 Twitter followers and I don't really care. I tried to sign up an Author's page on Goodreads.com last night and got disconnected 4 times. They say that because of social media, we're all connected but I don't see how that's true, there's 50 bi gillion people on the internet how are they going to find my little blog, FB, Twitterr, Goodreads account. I set it up anyway.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don't take it personally

I received an email from a blogger that first agreed to review my book but then took back the invitation by saying "I''m so sorry but I just can't get into your book," Everyone isn't going to enjoy reading my book, everyone isn't going to get it and that's okay. I can't take these things personally. For every person that doesn't like my book or its content there are going to be folks that think it's the best thing since sliced bread. So, I've learned not to get upset, outraged or fretful.There's something for everyone. I just have to stay true to myself and my craft and continue what I'm doing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Paying for an ad...should I? shouldn't I?

I've made tremendous strides with Girls Life magazine and I'm close to a deal that would put the books in both their online magazine and their hard copy for a couple of months, plus they agree to add a Facebook and twitter campaign to sweeten the deal. Sent junior year off for editing, mailed off a giveaway to a delightful girl in Ky and sent off a Kindle version. What a difference a day makes. Last night I was feeling overwhelmed and wondering if its worth it. Now I realize they're are going to be good days and bad in the world of marketing. I'm working on the book jacket description for junior year and have a case of writers block. Still shooting for that end of the year deadline.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Working through the doubt

Okay, I have to admit, marketing my books sounded easier two and a half weeks ago when I started this blog. And despite some real strides last week, (my first review, making contact with Girls Life magazine ad exec) I'm still wondering if I can do this for an entire year. This is going to be a lot of work and I just have to realize its better than the alternative; being a substitute teacher, ughhh. They say there's no such thing as an overnight success, that its actually years of blood, sweat and tears that goes behind that book, that movie, that artist that has suddenly come out of no where and landed a magnanimous opportunity. I have to keep that in mind. Stay focused, stay motivated. Some days I feel like Tom Hank on that deserted island movie talking to the soccer ball. But, then I begin to read my book and realize I have a real knack for this writing thing. God or the Universe wouldn't give me such a gift for me to keep it hidden in my night stand drawer underneath the cable bill right? Okay, I need to just STOP, This is crazy, I'll get back to you guys when I'm outta my pj's and have done something productive. I'll be right back...