Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why Numbers + Words = Publication

Imagine two men dressed in nice suits standing in the middle of a crowded room, we'll call them Bill and Jerry from Event Planners Inc. Working as a team, Bill and Jerry planned this well attended event and wisely understood each person in attendance could be a potential future client.  

Bill was the shy, silent type. He forced a few smiles and managed to gain eye contact with a few people. He'd known his weakness as a shy person for a long time and really preferred Jerry to handle the hobnobbing. Eventually he constructed the perfect excuse to escape the room and hid in a quiet place, content the big turnout demonstrated good work.

Jerry wouldn't classify himself as a social extrovert. Small talk tripped his speech many times and he forced himself to smile for photos despite an overbite. The numbers for Event Planners proved the importance of making a strong appearance. He prayed before each event, boxed up his introvert and set it on the shelf for later, and walked through the crowd as if he had the best news ever to share. He shook hands, stumbled through conversations, and laughed with those around him.

Bill and Jerry are like many writers. Their favorite moments come when they hide in their office and plow through the work. Jerry has learned, though, it is the meeting with the people who are potential clients that stirs business.

Good business product + meeting with potential clients = increased sales.

Lets apply this to writing.

Bill The Writer loved to hide in his study and write. He was willing to socialize with the family or church friends, but mostly preferred the comforting seclusion of his office. His editor reminded him to promote his book after the last low sales figures came in. Bill had more important tasks to be done. If he spent his time on promotion, who would write his books? Bill ignored his editor's request, assuming the publisher would pick up the slack, and set new records completing his next book. He polished the best proposal he'd ever written and sent the package off to his agent. One year later his agent emailed. 'I'm sorry. There isn't a house willing to take this book. Truly it's your best. Your last editor refused to even look at it. Did you work on the marketing as they asked?"

Jerry The Writer, was as allergic to being an extrovert as the next writer. When his editor raved about his recent release and recommended new ways to market, Jerry took a deep breath--scared to try the new ways. He spent each morning in prayer asking God to give him the strength to follow through with marketing. 

At first, he forced himself to spend one hour a day setting up marketing strategies. Jerry set up a Twitter account and learned how to use hash tags to find his audience. He scheduled one week's worth of tweets, one per day, using Hootsuite. He then used the remaining hour to build his audience with retweets, mentioning others, and sending direct messages. He set a timer to insure he didn't go over the hour. The rest of his work day he spent writing.

Two weeks later his confidence helped him to add a face book personal page and an author page. It took a little longer to set these up since he wanted to maintain the twitter project  and not exceed the one hour. Jerry tweeted his new page to followers on twitter and watched the number of likes grow.

Knowing there were many other avenues of marketing, Jerry devoted some of his marketing time to reading new marketing strategies posted by Amanda Luedeke from Chip McGregor Literary Agency every Thursday and Edie Melson's blog on marketing trends, how to and not to. His market ideas grew. 

Not wanting to tip the balance scale, Jerry made a schedule for the week. Sometimes his work (crit groups) happened at night, sometimes in the day. He set realistic goals for writing each week and forced himself to meet the goal. He budgeted time to spend with his daughter and date nights with his wife. The Superbowl, fishing, and vacations were naturally written in ink as well. Of course, the first block of each day remained reserved for God.

One day Jerry's editor emailed him. His book sales had increased proportionately for a new author. He asked when Jerry would have his next book finished.

The inspiration for this post came from attending Amanda Luedeke's marketing class at ACFW this last year and from subscribing to Edie Melson's blog and Chip McGregor Literary Agency blog

Amanda Luedeke wrote "You can do it" many times in her new book: The Extrovert Writer. Although marketing is a Goliath project, we can turn it into doable steps and succeed like Jerry the Writer. 

Edie Melson's guidance is tailored for every level of experience. I have successfully followed steps given on her site many, many times. It sure feels good. :)

A caring word for you: 
1. You can market your book.
2. Marketing increases sales.
3. BUT your book needs to be well written.
4. Do not rob your family of essential time with them. Do not let them rob you of God's call to write. Balance.
5. Do not let social networking vaporize minutes from your day. Set a timer. Be rigid.
6. Stay healthy. We need professional photos that show we take care of ourselves.

Let's share ideas to help each other-
Do you have a marketing question or idea? Amanda Luedeke and Edie Melson will be stopping by today to answer your questions.
What social media to you prefer for promoting your work?
What source do you learn marketing skills from?

photo by

This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Debra E. Marvin said...

How can a pre-published writer use HootSuite?
I've seen posts that are obviously robotic and they seem to just be pushing a book title.
Can you use something like HootSuite and keep it casual and chatty rather than publicity blasts?

I don't know anything about Hootsuite (can you tell?) or other options. Do you suggest one over another?

then, would you suggest those tweets automatically go to FB?

Jeanne Takenaka said...

I loved these examples. I'm still trying to figure out the whole marketing aspect of the publishing industry. I recently began a FB author page. I hadn't even thought to mention it on Twitter. Is it appropriate to do that?

What are some good ideas for keeping my author page active? How do I make tweets meaningful, rather than sales-y? I skip over the tweets on my feed that are "Marcia does such and such. Can she do such and such? Find out in BOOK TITLE." You know?

Okay, so I guess I have lots of questions.

I really enjoy Edie's blog. I think I need to get over there more often than I do. And I need to read Amanda's book. I'm glad you shared this, Mary!

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

I love using HootSuite. You can make any comment you would normally make and schedule it. I think of those who do reminder of events, regular Bible verses, coupon discoveries, or warm thought comments. Those can be scheduled with HootSuite. Any comment that you can do in advance can be done with HootSuite. It also displays everything on one page. I can see my Twitter, FB friends, FB author page all at one time and monitor it without having to flip from one to the other.

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Amanda's book is a great read. She wrote it in the same manner as she presents her class. Everything is explained with easy to understand terms and she give tons of ideas and examples.

I'll let Amanda and Eddie field your other questions.

Edie Melson said...

Debra, ANYONE can use Hootsuite. It's just a scheduling program. It's used to space out your social media updates so you connect with people all day long. You compose Twitter and Facebook updates the same way you would any other time.

You can send the same update to Twitter and to Facebook or you can change up the wording slightly. But Facebook has now enabled hashtags so the information will need to be formatted similarly.

As a pre-pubbed author, your goal is the same. You want to connect and build relationships with potential readers.

With any social media, the goal is relationship building—NOT direct sales. The sales come because of the relationships. If you get the order backwards it backfires.

I'll be sharing more about this in upcoming guest posts here on The Writer's Alley

I hope this helps

Edie Melson said...

Jeanne, you absolutely want to use Twitter to drive traffic to your FB page. The best way to do this directly is with a promotion or poll of some kind. But you can also do it subtly, by having your FB author page on your Twitter about me section.

As far as making updates (Twitter or otherwise) meaningful the key is engagement. Ask questions that get people talking. Share a quote and ask others to chime in with their favorites, get people talking about what they like to read.

The way I do it is to visualize myself trying to get to know someone new. I don't make statements, I ask questions and try to get them talking about themselves. That's all social media is…making new friends and building relationships.

I hope this helps!

Reba J. Hoffman said...

What a great post. Thank you Mary. I was so resistant to social media. The ONE thing that helped me over the hump was reading Edie's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Thank you Reba.
We had mentioned Edie's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers recently here on the Alley, but it definitely needs to be mentioned again today in link with this post.
This is another great resource.

Julia M. Reffner said...

How much time should a prepubbed writer spend per week and how would you distribute that?

And how about using reading tools such as Goodreads? How can we use these to build relationships with (hopefully) future readers?

Edie Melson said...

Julia, I recommend thirty minutes a day on social media and a one to two hour block of time to write blog post(s) for the week. The same is true for a published writer…unless she's in the middle of a book launch. During that time, social media may take a little longer.

Goodreads is a GREAT tool. The key here is the same as any other social media, building relationships. One pre-pubbed author who is a MASTER at Goodreads is Amanda Stevens. She comments on reviews, takes part in conversations, etc.

But keep in mind the big picture. I wrote about finding your social media easy button on my blog earlier this week. Find a network you love and concentrate the bulk of your time there. Still have a presence on other networks, but work to your strengths.

I hope this helps! I'm sure Amanda will weigh in on all these questions and have more insight and suggestions to share.

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Amanda writes about the importance of focusing your social media in her book as well. Spreading ourselves too thin is not wise. Fight the urge to jump on every bandwagon.

Amanda said...

In addition to what everyone has said, I'd like to mention that I don't think it's a good idea to link your Facebook profile to your professional Twitter account. If you do so, you run the risk of aggravating your Facebook friends who don't want to always hear about your career stuff. Instead, it's better to link your Facebook PAGE to your professional Twitter account. This way, you keep personal stuff personal and professional stuff professional :)


Amanda said...

A strategy I have used is to Tweet that "such-and-such a conversation is going on on my Facebook page." That has seemed to drive traffic.

But what Edie said is media is all about creating a conversation. I've known of authors who have gotten agents and publishers simply by engaging them on Twitter. You can use the same "engagement" techniques to gain readers.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Edie, Amanda, thanks for your insights. Your thoughts are helpful and give me some direction. I'm so glad you're both here today! :)

Mary, thanks for this post!

Ashley Clark said...

What a great post! It's helpful to see how marketing can work when used strategically. Thanks for being guests today, Amanda and Edie! :)

Janet Reeves said...

Brilliant! Thank you for this. I'll be watching for more--every Thursday!

Debra E. Marvin said...

Thanks, all! wow, great advice and many things to think about and prepare! I only have one FB pg and one Twitter account. Both are my full name - same as what I expect to use when I publish.

Not sure what I should do...
Seems like most people have just stuck Author First Name up as their FB professional page. I could have tweets go to that I suppose??

Edie Melson said...

Debra, I strongly recommend all authors use the name they'll be publishing under, if it's available. Chances are you'll write a lot of things over the span of your career and your name is the one constant. It is the very foundation of your brand. Stick with that.

Also, I don't recommend linking Twitter and FB at all. You can get unintentional bounces and end up spamming your followers. I suggest using a scheduling program, like Hootsuite to control what goes where, when.

Others don't always agree with this advice, but I've had a lot of experience trying to help writers and business owners clean up this sort of thing.

Hope this helps!

Pepper said...

Wow, what great stuff, Mare. Marketing feels like such a colossal endeavor. Juggling it along with everything else can feel a bit overwhelming.
There are some fabulous, simple tips here that give a great start.

Thanks Edie and Amanda for stopping in too.

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Thank you again Edie and Amanda for joining us today and answering our questions. We really appreciate all you teach us to help us in our writing career.
Blessings on you both
all our Alley Cat friends

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

I love your analogy, Mary!

I'm probably a little strange because I'm an introvert but I love anything marketing-related. I see it as a fun challenge.

Another resource I've found to be brilliant is Michael Hyatt's book, "Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world." Great tips today, and thanks so much to Edie and Amanda for sharing your wisdom!

Casey said...

This. Post. Is. Awesome.
A great intro for social media and those who might be "afraid" of it and self promotion.
It's one of the things I love about just being a "writer". I'm not in a push or hurry to figure out social media all at once and can devote time to building an audience in each place. Good, good, stuff here Mare! :)

Krista Phillips said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, Mary!!!

I think I need to ask for a timer for Christmas....

Debra E. Marvin said...

thanks again. super post!