Marketing 101 with Sara Hood

Hey – if it’s what you celebrate – ‘Happy Easter’! I do, and as always we had a lovely time easter bunnywith family. Happy times and happy memories.

Today I will also be announcing the winner of my giveaway! But first, something way more exciting! Read on! 

So, we keep saying but in case you missed it: over here at Aussie Owned & Read, we’re talking about MARKETING this month. Now, I’ve been around publishing for a l-o-n-g time and when I was first pubbed, marketing wasn’t such a big deal.  Your publisher took care of most of it.  But now? Oh wow – where would I begin to elaborate…

Actually I didn’t. Begin, that is.   It took me three seconds to realise I needed help. So, I went to the woman I believe is the bomb for marketing. When prepping for an extensive workshop at RWA a couple of years ago, she  worked with Harlequin author Sarah Mayberry in an experiment to demonstrate how her methods would work.   In one month they grew Sarah’s email list by 900. Not just 900 names – but 900 invested followers/readers.  900 invested readers/followers = 900 extra sales. Plus back sales.

Sara Hood

Sara Hood

Here’s what she had to say:

Hi Sara, I know you’re amazing and inspirational 😉 , but maybe not all our readers would know that. Can you tell us what you do?  

Thanks for that wonderful rap!  My background is in marketing communications. I’m originally a Brit who was offered the chance to work in Australia for three years by my then-employer but within two weeks I knew I was born to live here and wasn’t going back!  That was almost 30 years ago and now I’ve married a local, become a citizen and consider myself a true Melburnian.  I’ve worked with and for companies like DuPont, Yamaha Music, Sony and Ericsson, but like many these days I now wear several hats. I run a business that manages associations in the creative industries, mainly the music industry. We look after membership, admin, social media, member communications, conference management and website development on behalf of the association. Then I trained as a life coach, as you do, but don’t practice because it’s far too scary!  And I have this business called Marketing4Writers, which is to support and coach writers of popular fiction so they can sell more books. Oh!  And I’m attempting to write a romance novel. ‘Attempting’ being the key word.

The thought of having to market ourselves and our products is like kryptonite to the author. We’re terrified of it; the very thought sends us into a sobbing heap. So, how important is marketing to today’s author?

So can I put my life coach hat on for a moment? This is what brought me to set up marketing4writers. It was seeing writers spend hours tearing themselves to bits over ‘this marketing monster’. Getting themselves so upset about needing ‘to do it’ or spending time on it and seeing no results.  Or just deriding it or deriding the publisher for not doing it for them. Marketing doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be scary. And it most certainly shouldn’t terrify anyone or make them sob in heaps. It’s like anything, when you know how it just becomes second nature. A bit like driving a car. My first lessons were horrible! You have no idea how many times my instructor took over the controls. But now I jump into the car and don’t think twice about how to make it go where I need it to because I know how and it’s second nature. The problem with marketing is that bad marketing is very visible and annoying, so people think that’s what they need to do. It’s not.  Good marketing is almost invisible, not because it’s sneaky or manipulative but because you’re talking to the people who want to hear from you, so they don’t think of it as ‘marketing’. And it’s certainly not posting interminably on social media to say ‘buy my book’.

So back to the question: how important is marketing to today’s author? Totally critical.  But you knew that already, right? I’m not sure there ever was a time when you could just write a book and it would magically be discovered and you’d become a millionaire overnight, but that time certainly isn’t now. As we all know, the issue now is discoverability in a way it never has been to the same extent before. There are now almost no barriers to loading a book to Kindle and the problem is that a lot of people who ought not (yet) do. The issue, though, is two fold:

  • Discoverabilty: the right people hearing about and finding you book
  • Quality: convincing people that once they’ve found your book it’s worth buying

Everyone focuses on the first point but the second is also important. You may think what’s the fuss when the book cost less than a cup of coffee but that’s not the point.  What was the buyer doing when they bought your book?  They were buying the anticipation of entertainment.  They sat down to read, investing their precious time, to be entertained.  And then the book let them down.  Now they feel robbed and that’s why then they complain it can be out of all proportion to the actual cost.  Even when the book is free. Readers, though, are now getting smarter.  Having been burned a few times, they are now looking for clues about whether this book is going to be worth investing their time and their hope in. That’s another reason why your brand (author) platform and marketing are so important.

marketing-strategy

Is it possible to do too much marketing? (Asks she who will never be accused of too much. Too little? Sigh. All day every day.)  

Oh yes, it is possible to do too much marketing. It’s also possible to spend too much money or time on marketing. And it’s also all too possible to be doing quite the wrong marketing.

I loved your RWA workshop with Sarah Mayberry. I would so it all again in a flash – only next time take a day to do it so I can retain it! In that workshop you spoke a lot about Taking Control. Can you elaborate?  

Glad you enjoyed it. It was a blast working with Sarah.  One of life’s good people.

Taking control means nothing more complicated than making a thoughtful, purposeful plan. Too many writers don’t make a plan.  That means they have no idea where they’re going, they have no idea if they’re achieving anything useful, and they have no idea if they’re getting anywhere.  Imagine if your job was to build a bridge across a lake.  Would you do that by throwing in pebbles, one at a time?  The ripples each pebble makes are going to be really pretty, but throwing pebbles into a lake ain’t never gonna make a bridge. Yet that’s what many are doing.

So what sort of plan do you make?  The model I use is called a sales funnel and Kaz asked that question next so I won’t outline it here.  

You also make mention of the Sales funnel. Can you explain?

The sales funnel is a simple model that helps writers think about, plan, implement and review their marketing.  (Review!  So many people don’t review!) It’s about what I outlined above: taking control!

A sales funnel is about recruiting likely strangers (not just any old person) and building a relationship with them of ‘know, like and trust’.  As they get to know you, hopefully they move along the funnel to become acquaintances, friends, fans and then super fans.  People, of course, though aren’t predictable, so some will come in as fans and some will exit as friends.  Some may stick at friends, but progress no further. That’s life. What is also normal is that the numbers you recruit will dwindle as they progress towards super fans, which is why it’s important to be always recruiting. You need to be always bringing in new likely strangers to your funnel.

With a sales funnel you look at every activity you do and assign it a purpose. You add more activities or remove activities accordingly so you have the plan you need. That means it also fits your available time and budget. You optimise those activities, which simply means making them the best they can be.  You then connect everything up so it’s funnelling readers along a path and not just one of those pebbles going into the lake.  The heart of the plan is your website and your email list, but as writers you also have the great benefit of e-retailers, and your marketing plan needs to include optimising your product (the books) and presence in those e-tailers.  That’s part of your sales funnel.

With a sales funnel you work with an end in mind and don’t confusing activity with outcomes.

You set time frames, milestones, budgets and a date for a review. So many people don’t review. Or panic after a few weeks because ‘nothing is happening’ so they dump their plan and switch to another one.  Erk.  
marketing 4 writers You can find a copy of the presentation (on Sara’s site) used at RWA here:

http://www.marketing4writers.net/rwa-conference-workshop-with-sarah-mayberry.html

Which social media platforms should the author be focussing on?

Number one is Facebook.  It’s tougher to get results now from Facebook, but that’s because it’s become so popular because it works. So I’d say for social media your number one choice should always be Facebook.  A business page and not a profile.  Yes Facebook has the infamous algorithm, but don’t listen to anyone who say that Facebook is using that algorithm to limit who sees your posts to make your advertise.  That’s not true.  Or that they’re limiting you to 6% of your fans. Nope. Those myths have appeared largely because, as I said, it’s harder to make Facebook work for you now plus there are a lot people out there who want to sell you courses about how to use Facebook. It suits them to blame Facebook.  Yes, you do need to know something about how the algorithm works (and Facebook isn’t going to share all the details with the world because that’s their proprietary property) but a lot of it comes down to you. That’s not comfortable to know, sometimes. But if your posts aren’t getting any reach it means there were better ones out there and those got ‘served’ to your fans instead.  The deck is not stacked against you.  The hard truth is that you just have to get better at this Facebook thing.

So that’s my Facebook rant.  What other platform should you consider? Depends on how much time you have.  It’s much better to do Facebook well than to skimp it because you’re also managing another two or three of even four platforms as well. I’d usually suggest Twitter as your second string, if you have time for it.  I am just discovering the joys of Instagram and that’s fantastic but you need to be sure it’s for you because it is very specific in how it works.  You need to have great images, you can’t add live links and you can’t schedule your posts (easily).  Pinterest is great for creating private boards where you can keep the pics you used for your research or inspiration, and then you can make them public as part of your book launch.

I hope that doesn’t sound too boring or arduous. I’ve tried to summarise what is a day’s worth of workshop and that’s never that easy to do! Those who are organic writers and like to just jump in are usually going cross-eyed at this point. The reality is that you can do that when marketing, but it makes it so much harder and more frustrating. Sometimes a bit of planning is a good idea. Can you trust me on this?

marketing 2

I read that the most valuable tool in the authors marketing tool box is an email list. And that a survey showed that an email subscriber is 24 time more likely to buy a book than through FB.  Do you share this opinion?

Rule number one in marketing (there are a lot of number one rules, by the way) is to remember that figures like this are averages often being used by someone to sell a course or a way of thinking or their ‘insider expertise’. And, anyway, we all know where averages come from, don’t we?  There are so many other variables here that my brain spins trying to work out if this figure has any meaning at all!  Do I think email is important? Yes.  But I also don’t think Facebook is a great medium for selling books, so that anything is 24 times better than Facebook is more a reflection on Facebook than on what it’s being compared with.  For a writer, Facebook is much better used as a place to recruit those likely strangers and build relationships with them.  Facebook, itself, is about entertainment and connection.  Who sits down of an evening and thinks “I’ll just have a look at Facebook to see what people want to sell me?”  By all means advertise to your fans when there’s a new book out, or post about it, but email is usually a much better option for converting to sales.  Those people have trusted you with their email address.  That means they’re much more engaged than your average Facebook fan.  There seems to be a riff at the moment that ‘email is over’ and ‘readers don’t want to get emails any more’.  Hmmmm…. no.  Like Facebook, email is really good at what it does so every writer and her dog has jumped in and now you have to be better, sharper and deliver more value to get people to stay on your list and open the emails you send them.

What are the top three things an author should be doing right now?  

    1. Creating a thoughtful, purposeful plan (a sales funnel)
    2. Implementing that plan
    3. Reviewing that plan

What’s the worst thing we as authors can do?

Have no plan.  That’s it.  No plan is the worst thing you can do. No plan is worse than a mediocre plan. It’s probably worse than the wrong plan.  Probably.

marketing-management 4

Finally, if it’s not a repetition of Q#7, what is one thing we could do today to make a difference?   

So that’s the converse of the previous question.  The one thing you could do is to have a plan. Is this getting repetitive?  It’s easy to say that you should have a plan, but researching and creating that plan is the important part.  You can dream up a plan in 10 seconds, but unless you’re some marketing Einstein then it’s probably useless because it hasn’t been created thoughtfully and purposefully. It takes a while to build a sales funnel, but it’s not arduous and I use coloured textas which helps make it a bit more fun.  A bit.

Do you think blog tours are worthwhile?

Hmmm.  Depends why you’re doing them.  If it’s about sales, then maybe not.  If it’s about brand awareness then why not?  In marketing jargon you need to be looking at ‘multiple touch points’ with your readers.  And a bit more techno-speak, you need to think about which of your activities are about brand awareness and which are about sales. That’s where inexperienced marketers can go wrong.  They try to make everything about sales.  As I mentioned before, these days most people buy from people they know, like and trust.  From time to time we will buy from strangers, but not often.  If you do a blog tour to build that know, like and trust that’s fine.  If you want to sell, sell, sell, then there are probably better ways to spend your time and money.  One final point with blog tours is to make sure that you are matching your readers with that blog’s readers.  There’s no point getting promotion on a blog that doesn’t reach people who will likely read your books.  
How can our readers contact you?

Come and join me on my Facebook page or website.  Hey, why not sign up for my email? Or I’m at sara@marketing4writers.net

https://www.facebook.com/MarketingforWriters/

http://www.marketing4writers.net/

Thank you sooo much Sara! I’m going to be (again) pouring over your past posts. You’re a busy lady and we here at Aussie Owned & Read are most grateful for your time, especially given the extensive answers you’ve provided. Mwah times plenty!  You’re a true star.

And now – the winner of my giveaway (in a blind draw) is:  Drumroll…..

Billiondollarprincess!  Please contact me at kazdelaney01@gmail.com with your deets! Thanks for commenting! 

kaz-profiles-022Multi award winning author Kaz Delaney has published 72 novels for kids, teens & adults over a 20 year period, many of them  published in several languages. Thirteen are YA novels and every one features a romance. Her latest is The Reluctant Jillaroo, Allen & Unwin, 2016 .  She is repped by JDM Management.

MKR SERVES UP ROMANCE

Dishing Up Romance.

I’m so excited to be delivering my first ever Aussie Owned & Read post. Thank you for having me. I’ll be working to fit the brief and keep all you lovely followers and visitors happy and well fed.

Speaking of well fed  – or not – I’m an MKR fan. (My Kitchen Rules) Don’t judge. It’s an inherent weakness. Apart from authoring and reading, my fave thing is to bake and cook, so despite the show’s many shortcomings I’m still drawn to those television kitchens and those sweating, suffering contestants. And yes, I know it’s all director-created storylines and false drama but obviously I’m a cheap date because I love it.

mkr

This year though – and here’s where this post becomes relevant – there was an added ingredient, a  staged  romance between young rival contestants Bec and Kyle. It was flirt city. Bec was batting those eyelashes and serving up saucy over-the-shoulder entrees entreaties and Kyle was responding with prolonged glances that held more heat than a raw Bird’s Eye Chilli. It was good stuff. It was believable and whether real or clever editing, I was suckered in. bec-kyle

So, talking Romance – ‘cos that’s what we’re doin’ here at AO&R this month…

Interestingly, my fascination with Bec and Kyle’s relationship actually grew to equal my interest in what they were being served. Apart from seeming genuine, and the sense of fun and warmth both contestants oozed, what interested me was the answer both gave independently when asked about those first sparks. Both declared they were drawn to each other, initially, over a shared sense of humour.

‘We could just talk to each other as if we’d known each other forever.’

As an author this scenario spoke volumes to me: Likeable characters (who like each other) + a connection  Boom! There it was: a simplified time-honoured equation  – a key, if you like –  to the gateway to romance.  

Let’s look at that.

Many times in YA fiction we see heroines who fall for a ‘face’ (and whoa, we’re all guilty of that).  Disney is the biggest offender. But, hey we can be more than Disney. (Inserts discreet cough)

disney-baby-prince-clipart-disney-princess-32301330-500-248

We want to create a romance that draws the reader in – a romance that is believable and makes the reader wail at the thought of these two characters not being together. To do that? Find something that connects them. Something that intrigues enough for each to want to dig deeper. Something more than a cute face or hot bod. 

Completing the Jigsaw.

Imbue them with likeable/interesting traits and then imagine them as two random jigsaw pieces that have one side that fits them together neatly. That’s the start of a story. As authors we need to now find the bigger picture. The whole picture.  Connections. And it is from those connections that a relationship can begin to develop. Ergo, each new side of the jigsaw that fits is a new connection. Or not…

Delicious Firsts

YA love is raw and heart-pounding and exciting. It’s a series of delicious firsts that will never be experienced in the same way. It can feel dangerous and bold and yet, tender and syrupy warm. Hands shake. Stomachs perform backflips. But love, YA or not, is more than heaving tummies and shaking body parts. If it’s not, it’s not love. It’s not even lust. It’s a condition that needs medication. See a doctor. Fast.

I’m as guilty as the next of those heaving body parts, but there has to be more. That’s just the beginning; a knee jerk reaction. There has to be depth. A relationship has to grow. Develop.  It shouldn’t arrive fully formed. No one will believe that. So, get them talking. Get them connecting.

Blatantly falsified Stats

Note they don’t have to agree on everything. That would be boring. Very few relationships, ever, (maybe I’m generalising) are completely compatible in every aspect of life. But most are at least 60%. (Yep, I’m completely generalising and worse I’m making up stats – but it seems sound(?)).   And that compatibility goes further than a like or dislike of Thai food and the colour purple. But it’s a start.

Love Must pass the Belief Test

My last thoughts are to remember that even though we’re writing about young people, our romances have to be real and they must pass the reader belief test. Yes, first or new love is a dizzying time. And to those who are in the throes, there is nothing deeper or more special and no one else has ever felt this depth of emotion. No one. Ever. It’s powerful.

The secret? Again?

Connections. Think of them as sticky fingers that glue them to each other.   Convince the reader that these two were created for each other.

My last, last thought? Vale the relationship of Bec (who was eliminated) and Kyle.  MKR has lost its allure for me now. However, in my imagination I’m retelling the tale and in my version they find a way to be together – loved up, blissfully experimenting with strange and exotic foods.

And they’ll email me the recipes. Or invite me to dinner.

Sounds like a perfect ending to me.

And to celebrate that perfect ending, and my imperfect beginning here at AO&R, any person who takes the time to comment or just wave to say ‘hi’ on the comment board (I don’t judge) will go into a random draw to receive a copy of The Reluctant Jillaroo, or an earlier title if you already have that book – plus a pack of author goodies. Thank you! See you in the comments!

Multi award winning author Kaz Delaney has published 72 novels for kids, teens & adults over a 20 year period, many of them  published in several languages.  Her latest YA is The Reluctant Jillaroo, kaz-profiles-022Allen & Unwin, 2016 .  She is repped by JDM Management.

Pitching at RWAus 2016

A couple of weeks ago RWAus 2016 was held in Adelaide. Since it was the first time held here I volunteered and was lucky (?) to get the pitching assignment. This involved the wrangling of around 180 people to see 12 editors and agents for 5 min face-to-face pitches (some with 4 pitches). Kind of like speed dating for books.

pitching pic

If you ever get a chance, do pitch face-to-face. The editors and agents are lovely and keen to find your book.

As an organiser, I learned a few things –

  1. Everyone is doing their best (be kind to the organisers)
  2. Editors and Agents are human and professional and aren’t trying to trip anyone up. They come to find work to take on.
  3. Everyone is nervous, even published authors who might seem like they would know everything worry about the pitch (which returns to the eds and agents being lovely)
  4. Be prepared. They all have what they’re looking for available with a search – take the time to make sure they are looking for what you’re writing.
  5. Make sure you leave time for questions.

 

Have you pitched at a conference? Volunteered to help at an event?

🙂

Beck

beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.

Pitch Madness: Pitch-Honing Session Too!

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Happy half-price-chocolate day! ❤

Last Thursday we posted a pitch-honing session here. Anyone who’s tried to follow that thread will know the comments thread has become more tangled than a marionette’s strings after my son has been playing with it for five minutes! So we’re starting afresh today.

Don’t know what Pitch Madness is? You can find out more about it here. Basically, it’s your chance to have your manuscript skip the slush pile and be seen by a heap of fabulous agents.

Two of the Aussie Owned and Read team are involved in choosing some of the pitches that will make it in front of the industry professionals, and we want to help you make your pitch shine! Put your pitch in the comments as per the formatting below and we’ll let you know our thoughts on how it can be improved. You are also welcomed to help out your fellow writers aspiring to be part of Pitch Madness by providing feedback on other posts too.

Sharon and Lauren are on Team Dark Side and they (and the rest of us!) are really looking forward to seeing what you have to offer.

Title:
Category and genre:
35-word pitch:

As the submission deadline for the competition is 20 February, we’re closing this window of opportunity on 19 February to give you time to tinker before the final deadline. Good luck and happy pitching!

Team Darkside 1
Cassandra Page is acting as a minion of Team Dark Side. She’s expecting her light sabre in the mail any day now.
Cassandra Page

Pitch Madness: Pitch Honing Session

*** THIS HONING SESSION IS NOW CLOSED TO NEW PITCHES. PLEASE SEE THE NEW POST. ***
Pitch Madness is just around the corner and it’s time to sharpen those pitches! The Aussie Owned & Read team is here to help!
B4BzSm7CAAE280g.jpg-large-300x300
Don’t know what Pitch Madness is? You can find out more about it here. Basically, it’s your chance to have your manuscript skipping the slush pile and being seen by a heap of fabulous agents.
Two of the Aussie Owned & Read team are involved in choosing some of the pitches that will make it in front of the industry professionals, and we want to help you make your pitch shine! Put your pitch in the comments as per the formatting below and we’ll let you know our thoughts on how it an be improved. You are also welcomed to help out your fellow writers aspiring to be part of Pitch Madness by providing feedback on other posts too. Sharon and I are on Team Dark Side and we are really looking forward to seeing what you have to offer.
Title:
Category and genre:
35-word pitch:
Happy pitching!
Team Darkside 1
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALauren K. McKellar is an author and editor. Her third release,

Eleven Weeks, just came out last week, and you can currently find her on Facebook here or rocking quietly in a corner. 

Blogaversary: Competition!

Woohoo! As one last hurrah celebrating the end of our second year in the blogging business, we thought we’d launch year three with a bang — with a competition to thank YOU for being here with us two years on.

We love you all!

So click the link, join the fun, win some stuff!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enter now for your chance to win:

-eBook copies of The Tate Chronicles (Fall For Me, Sacrifice and Fight For Me) by K.A. Last

-eBook copy of Immagica, by K.A. Last

-eBook copy of Kiya, by Katie Hamstead

-eBook copy of Papina, by Katie Hamstead

-eBook copy of Branded, by Katie Hamstead

-eBook copy of Isla’s Inheritance, by Cassandra Page

-$20 Amazon voucher, from the lovely Heather Bryant

-A PRINT COPY of Fake, by Beck Nicholas

-A first-five page critique from the talented Emily Mead

-eBook copy of Eleven Weeks, by Lauren K. McKellar

-eBook copy of Finding Home, by Lauren K. McKellar

eBook copy of The Collective Series (Forget Me Not and Remember Me) by Stacey Nash

Facebook + Giveaways + Fun!

There’s no trying to hide it; here at Aussie Owned and Read, we really are a social bunch of creatures. After all, that’s how this blog first started almost two years ago now — with a group of women who not only liked books a whole heap, but who also liked each other.

Over time, we’ve come to love interacting with our bloggership, too (which sounds alien-like, and may not be a real word, but we’re willing to roll with it anyway). We do know, however, that we’ve let our Facebook presence slide. And that’s why … Drum roll, please …

Snare Drum Floating

Photo: Big Stock Photo

 

We are having a HUGE FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY! When we reach 400 Facebook page likes, we will be giving away a stack of books at random to some of our likers. How fun is that?

But wait, that’s not all … We’re also going to start some regular features on our Facebook page so that WE can learn more about YOU. We’d love to share a word that our team has just learnt about every Monday with New Week, New Word.

On Wednesdays, we want to know what YOU’RE reading. Tell us all about the book that is rocking your socks (or not, as the case may be).

And, because we can all use a laugh, join us for Friday Funnies, where you can post a meme, a scene, or something that has cracked you up this week.

Of course, you’re welcome to post anything on our page at any time; we just see this as extra opportunities for us to hang out with you (and who knows? We may be giving out random prizes as time goes on, too).

So, if you haven’t already, jump on the Facebook and please, pretty please with Vegemite on top, give Aussie Owned a like. We’ll love you for it 🙂