“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” – Robert Rose
Let’s say you just finished writing, editing, and getting beta readers to read your latest, greatest book. You’ve made it the best you can be and are ready to release it to the world.
Wait? Where are the readers you hope to find? How are they going to see your book in a vast world of social media, book promotion and saturated Amazon pages?
If you’re asking these questions, you probably hadn’t taken the time to locate what authors and publishers call the “Target Audience.”
Defined, a target audience is the readership you hope to market your book to. For example, for authors of paranormal romance with a focus on wolf shifters, you’re probably hoping to catch the attention of people who are fans of the shifter sub-genre. Taking it further, what age range are you going for? Are you hoping to catch male or female readers or both?
Remember, you are never alone in this journey! Writing and blogging can be lonely but there are people who are willing to offer their expertise. If you have an experience that you found helped you find your audience, please leave us a comment! We would love to hear from you!
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When approaching the world of an indie or self-published author, what is the biggest line of questions you often hear or ask yourself?
These are just a few questions that can be terrifying when one is just starting out.
So often we are tempted to pour what funds we have into online ads on Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. How about book promo sites? Surely those will help, right?
The answer is YES, those DO help BUT they should NOT be the primary way of marketing. These are all online marketing techniques and can help in building exposure but how many times have you honestly gotten on your social media and clicked on a buy button or link? Probably not often. I know I don’t.
To further explain, how long does it take the average publishing company to get back to their queries? Sometimes rather quickly for smaller press but not for the big dogs like Penguin, right?
This is the same as online. So often we see such high volumes of tweets, photos, Facebook posts, etc covered in book promotion. Sometimes those can get overlooked.
Fear Not! Hybrid marketing is your friend!
Here’s a not-so-secret, secret. Publishers, agents, interviewers, and scouts all attend LIVE book events and conventions!
This where hybrid marketing can come in handy. As previously mentioned in another article, social media is a wonderful tool for staying in touch with your readers and mentors. However, be willing to leave the computer and go out and meet people. Our readers are out there!
In order to utilize this truly powerful tool, one has to understand what it is.
Simply put, hybrid marketing is the utilization of both online and offline marketing techniques in order to draw in an audience and build not only your author platform but reach your potential readers!
These can include bookstores, libraries, book festivals, conventions, bloggers, and reviewers. The list goes on! Who is it that is in your target audience? Knowing this can help you better understand how to incorporate this technique into your own marketing plan. I cannot stress the importance of a solid marketing plan! If you do not have one, it is likely you will fail!
You signed a deal with your local bookstore to appear for a signing. They’re happy to have you! You get there and shake the hands of a manager or event coordinator and BAM! A networking bond is formed and it’s all because you left the screen and shook a hand! The beauty of it is, they’ll often ask you to come back! So now you’ve made a bond with an individual who can be a long lasting relationship in your career as an author and who knows, a loyal fan!
This is when social media and online ads should work for you. When you find you’re wearing down and need those couple of months off or you know you’re going to be at a convention all weekend, make your ads work! You can meet your readers and get your book promoted at the same time. For example, say you’re getting a small press table at a major convention. You know you’re going to be gone all weekend. Start up an ad on Amazon! The cost can be as low as 3$ a day at .03 per keyword. You don’t spend a dime unless someone clicks! Run a promo through sites like Whizzbuzz books for a whole year at a low price. Make sense? You’re not beating down Twitter with “Buy My Book” tweets and folks are still seeing your book.
So often, people want to take a free bookmark or a business card with an author’s contact information including their website. Always stress your website as your central hub! Think of your social media, Amazon and Goodreads as webbing. They all should be connected to a central hub or your author website! Appearing in person at book signings, author appearances, readings, etc can give you a chance to bring attention to these pages! It is an offline marketing technique that can really help!
Marketing can be an expensive endeavor if the audience isn’t where you are. It may be trial and error at first which can either be beneficial or not. It happens! BUT! Here is where knowing ahead of time can help. For live shows, start small. I recommend to start with what are called Small Press tables. They rarely go over 75$ and often come with two badges for conventions or a table space at festivals. This can help you build yourself a platform while networking with others who may want to talk to you about your book. These have been crucial in my own journey so I promise, I have seen the results!
Say an author appears at a panel and gives you their knowledge. They are building their rapport with their readers because it gives them a chance to meet and greet them to ask questions in person. Showing up to speak at conferences with confidence shows a level of professionalism. Potential agents and publishers often see these traits and will seek out the author to speak with them. The fact that the author has taken the time to research market trends and how to go about marketing their book scores high because they tend to want to know the longevity, especially in indie and self-published authors, to continue their craft and market wisely. Think of it this way, when you go to a job interview, a question you might get is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s a question we often don’t know the answer to and can cost a position. This is no different in the world of literature.
When you meet the eye and shake the hand of someone watching as you sign your book and include a free bookmark, that person will go to their friends and let them know they just a good book from a really kind person! This is word of mouth and it is the most powerful tool in an author of any publishing field’s toolbox! Get your readers talking! They’re giving their time to read your book in a sea of books! Hybrid marketing can help your book reach multiple audiences and they will love your signature!!!!
Most Importantly: NEVER GIVE UP!! Marketing is a process!!! Very rarely are you successful right off the bat. That’s okay! Remember you wrote your book baby because you wanted to tell a story!
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“It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” (ie an author’s laptop/PC/Desktop)
Okay, we all know the famous quote above. But I digress. Why I used it is because for some strange reason, we author types (especially us indie published types), have a tendency to avoid our fellow man. Why do I say that? Because until recently, I had the same tendency. We hide behind our laptops and delve into the world of social media, book promo sites, book blitzes and blog tours and still we hope to hit the best-selling list overnight.
Now, before you jump on the “But Blaise, what about so-and-so?” or “What about e-commerce?” band-wagon; let me elaborate because this is something I have heard coached to me by many business coaches in many different seminars. Social media is critical in growing an online presence but it should NOT be your only point of contact.
If you don’t believe what I say is true, I can go further. As an indie game concept artist, I had the privilege of speaking to a character designer for Marvel, yes that Marvel. In the skype call he told me two things:
1) Always keep your social media updated frequently
2) Start attending conventions
To go on, an author I love and is possibly the greatest influence on my own journey, you’ve heard me mention her before, Kristen Martin says that attending book related events is a great way to build your author platform because you are putting yourself face to face with potential readers, other authors and publishers to learn from them.
Those are not your exact words, I know, Kristen.
* What I mean by professional is always have a .com, .net, etc. It has an air of professionalism and ongoing pursuit. Invest the money. Many domains like Bluehost, GoDaddy, HostGator, WordPress, etc have their own hosts.
So, I hope this has helped you. This knowledge was gleaned from trial and error, seeking mentorships and just asking managers and professional marketers. The cruel and harsh truth is, our market is saturated but it doesn’t mean we have to fight each other. There are readers who want to read our work, heck, maybe both of our books if we work with a partner to promote our books. Social Media is a black hole that is necessary for an online presence but at the same time, offline marketing gets you out there! Try for yourself!
This is my stop during the book blitz for Blessing of Luna by Blaise Ramsay. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 11 till 17 June. See the tour schedule here.
Damien Pierce wasn’t like normal people. Since he was young, he learned that he had the uncanny ability to heal himself almost immediately. At fifteen he astounded the small town of Big Timber, Montana when an SUV hit him only to find he survived the encounter without suffering any major injuries.
After moving away for ten years, losing his mother and slipping into a deep sense of depression, Damien’s father moves them back home in an attempt to give Damien a sense of normalcy.
Enter Jillian Styles, the immortal, beautiful lycan that has been looking for the soul of her long, lost lover who after many years of being reborn into new bodies, his soul simply vanishes into the tides of time. When Jill first sees Damien, she knows immediately he is the one she had been looking for.
When an old enemy begins re-igniting the flames of a centuries old war, Damien must come to grips with a cruel fact that he is not human while nurturing feelings for the beautiful woman who captured his affection.
Now Damien must delve deeper into the world of the supernatural with the help of the mysterious Alexander Kain and Jillian. He’s about to learn, the secret sleeping within him is much more than he ever could have imagined.
You can find Blessing of Luna on Goodreads
The first five chapters are available to read for free are on Wattpad.
About the Author:
FyreSyde Publishing owner and founder Blaise Ramsay worked over fifteen years in the graphic design industry, with some experience in indie gaming. Recently she shifted her attention to the world of literature with her debut paranormal romance series, Wolf gods. The debut title, Blessing of Luna is set to release in 2018. She currently lives in North Texas with her two children, her husband and pets. A UTD graduate with a Bachelor’s in History with an intention on teaching, Blaise decided that the world of teaching just wasn’t for her. A stay at home mother of two, business owner and self-publisher, Blaise loves to meet new people and encourage others to follow their dreams through weekly posts to her Instagram, twitter, Facebook and blog.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Blessing of Luna. One winner will win both an e-copy and paperback copy of Blessing of Luna by Blaise Ramsay.
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you would like to sign up to host the blitz, please head to the links above!
Giveaways are included in both events!
I am also still seeking folks who are willing to review the book! I can offer ePub, Mobi, Pdf, and physical copy (if necessary)! Reviews for Goodreads, Amazon, email or a mix are more than welcome! All reviews are posted on our website! Anonymity is more than okay. We can blur out your full name!
A portion of every single book sold in any format will go to The Wounded Warrior Project and Carry The Load! As you may know or learn after reading, the main character suffers from PTSD. So many of our soldiers including my own husband has to cope with this debilitating problem. It is something serious that needs to be taken as such. If you believe the same, help us bring awareness!
By: Mark J. Engels
Genre: Paranormal Sci-Fi Thriller
Age category: Adult
Release Date: 8/10/17 (trade paperback); 10/1/17 (ebook)
A distant daughter. A peculiar device. A family lineage full of secrets. When werecat Pawlina Katczynski finally resurfaces, her location previously unknown to anyone close to her, the reunion is short of welcomed. Instead, she finds herself thrust tooth and nail—tooth and claw—into a feud between opposing werecat clans as her family and their enemies reignite a battle that has raged for years. Always Gray in Winter invites the reader to join the feud and see if blood is truly thicker than water…
I’ve been a fan of anime, manga and anthropomorphics for over thirty years. My muse came to me one night at work, imploring I write her story. When I ignored her, she “charmed” me with fangs and claws. And told me her name was Pawly.
I’d been on the publication trail for some while before I got a couple small press offers, so I had some idea of what to expect. Every small press is different, and each is at a particular stage in their development. My publisher had been around a couple years before I signed on, though at the time they were in the middle of an expansion and eager to sign new authors. We negotiated a number of terms in the contract, which I had come to understand by talking to other authors, agents and editors I’d met during the query contests and Twitter “pitch parties.” And what I’d learned helped establish just exactly what my publisher and I came to understand we could expect from one another.
After having been an anime, manga and anthropomorphics fan for so long, I wanted to give back to the fandoms I’d come to love, through which I had found such joy and made so many dear friends. Wanted to create content after consuming it for decades. Because I thought my characters and concept were kewl and labored under the delusion others would too. I was determined to take their story to a wide audience, which was the main reason I queried agents and, later, submitted to small presses.
I’m an electrical engineer in my day job, specializing in the design, construction and commissioning railroad and rail transit signal and communications systems all over the United States. An iterative design process is second nature to me, starting with the abstract and working toward the specific. So I can’t not be a plotter, really. I laid out a series outline in prose form detailing three generations of my werecat protagonist Pawly’s family, from the height of the Cold War to the present day. Then I figured out a starting and an end point for the first book, which takes place in media res. Drafting came next. A year or so later I was ready to begin my edits. I’d both joined a real-life writer’s group by then and picked up a copy of Browne & King’s Self Editing for Fiction Writers. Boy howdy, did both of those underscore just how much editing I needed! About another year’s worth, in fact.
“Balance” is not found, as if one is out in the woods looking for berries or mushrooms. Balance is struck, it is made, it is hard fought. And it is always a compromise. Along the lines of “this isn’t he arrangement everyone likes most, this is the arrangement everyone dislikes least” more of then not.
I’m very fortunate that I enjoy my day job for its intrinsic value (I play with trains and electronics all day, yay!) and make a decent living for my family doing it. I do work full time, though, and during business hours the job needs must be my priority. I’m also a father and husband. Every night after my son goes to bed, I devote two or three hours to “writing”, but I don’t use such a narrow view as “words on a page.” Research is writing, mentally picking away at the Gordian knot my plotlines have bunched themselves together into is writing, dispositioning critique partner feedback is writing, reading other’s books is writing, platform building is writing, etc. Many activities don’t get words down on a page but are part and parcel of my writing process nonetheless. To help make sure the words I do get down are the right ones, and that those words have a fighting chance of reaching their audience.
I really didn’t set out to be an author, or a writer for that matter. It just sort of happened. Being an anime and manga fan at the dawning of the Internet age, I came upon newsgroups, bulletin boards and mailing lists where I could meet and get to know fans of one particular franchise or another. On a couple of occasions after a dramatic shift in a story or after its conclusion, I felt that the creators had left “money on the table”, leaving characters undeveloped, plot threads twisting in the wind or entire stories gone untold. So I set about to fill in the spaces between with fanfiction. Including several novella- and novel-length stories.
My books aren’t all that different. I came to know an artist featuring anthro characters whose work I adored, who wanted to release a web comic featuring them but wasn’t sure how to begin. He was struggling with his antagonist’s motivations especially. We began a dialogue about same with an outline I’d prepared and expanded into a complete story arc. After sitting down at a convention together over coffee, he told me “this sounds like a great story, but it’s not my story” and that was that.
Or so I thought. I was fully prepared to put the experience behind me and go on with life, but my muse had other ideas. She came to me and started shredding away at my consciousness, insisting I tell her story. And that of her family. Turns out my muse she be a werecat. One who looks strikingly like my story’s protagonist, in fact. Pawly makes a convincing argument with fangs and claws.
A year to draft, a year to edit, a year to query/submit. Nearly another year before release during which time I built out my web site and social media presence.
After I finished my series outline, I sent it around to some friends and fellow writers in the anime fanfiction communities to get their feedback. All of them thought the premise outstanding and unique, and all exhorted me to not to try to cram the story into one book. So after spending a fair bit of time re-organizing my outline, I’ve determined I have enough plot points to cover at least three books. Or four should I decide to dive deep into Pawly’s family history.
“Best ways?” Uhm, I’m not all that sure I know, truthfully. Because marketing is every bit as much subjective as editing and critique. What worked for them/there/then (that is to say, for me or for any other author) may not be useful nor effective for you/here/now. If one desires to write a book in a specific genre, while reading deep in the genre, pay attention to what successful authors in that genre have done and are doing to build their platforms. All of it is worth considering, even if some of it might not work well for you. Or for your book. You’ll be prepared to make an informed decision yea or nay.
That said, I believe successful marketing strongly correlates to an author’s willingness to build relationships. Especially online ones, where so many of us find and reach our audiences. There is a lot of awful out there on social media, but there are also pockets of like-minded creatives eager to make new friends. “Getting yourself out there” is salient advice, though I would qualify “early and often.” Writing is frequently a solitary exercise, and I’d suggest one run silent and run deep while one is developing their first draft to avoid distractions. Though it’s high time to seek out other creatives once the story has something of a beginning, a middle, and an end. Start working on a query letter right then; there are all kinds of query contests online to help with that. The friends I made there (and on the Twitter “pitch parties” once the manuscript was complete) today number among my most valued critique partners. And my most ardent supporters.
The same folks ought to come in real handy as you’re going through editing your own book prior to submission or publication. They can also help make suggestions as to agents or editors that may really enjoy your book, or help refer you to their trusted resources if you decide to self-pub. Because having done so, getting on the podcasts and guest posts was fairly simple. I just had to ask my friends who asked their friends. Voila! They were glad to have me.
I make it a point to reach out to reviewers who take time to share what they liked about my book, what maybe didn’t work for them, how my book made them feel–good or ill. Though never as a comment to the review itself; those are written by readers for readers. Author responses to such are seen by many as rude, seen as an intrusion into a private conversation between readers. To the extent possible, I use the reviewer’s handle to track down an email address or social media link where I can reach out and thank them. Because I find even disparaging remarks often provide unique opportunities to consider what most to improve in my future work.
“Bad press?” I leave it lie and recommend every author do likewise. Nothing I say will change their minds about my book, and it’s not my place to try. I’ll only wear myself out in doing so. Besides, a reader’s opinion is just that. One person’s opinion, to which they’re entitled. And I’m entitled to respond with but a shrug and move on.
When bad press does come, I endeavor to remind myself of a couple key principles: first, that the book I had in my heart to write may decidedly not be the book any one person had in their hearts to read and, second, that that is okay.
Just happened to be the book I had in my heart to write, of course! The sort of book I had in my heart to read but couldn’t find. It was only after I’d written the book that I began to bill it as a “paranormal sci-fi thriller”, because I had to assign it a genre for query contest and Twitter pitch parties. Up until that point, I was complete clueless to genre conventions and subtleties (and, frankly, I’m still figuring them out.) All I knew was that my story was my story, though I set about to understand them by necessity when I began to pitch my book. Contemplate just what sort of audience I would endeavor to reach out to. And how best to engage them.
12) What are your views on writer’s block? Do you believe in it? If you do, do you have ways to cope with it that you would be willing to share?
Yes, writer’s block is a thing. A thing I fear, actually, which is in part why I do so much work up front plotting. If I know the story has a defined beginning, a middle and an end, then I can just plow through the places where the story drags and sags. Because I can always edit later! Pantsers suggest that doing such layouts stifles creativity, to which I can only say “to each their own.” This is what I do and why I do it, and it seems to work for me. Your mileage may vary.
What does seize me up from time to time happens after I’ve gotten feedback from my critique partners. They’ll point out what works for them and what doesn’t, and I’m always grateful when they do. When several of them point out one particular thing that didn’t work, that suggests strongly there’s something there I need to fix. But it’s always a struggle–I gave it my best! A bitter pill to swallow that one’s best isn’t good enough.
Or, as I’ve come to understand, it’s not good enough yet. I’ve found that if I put away the feedback for a period of time, like a couple weeks or sometimes even a month or two, then when I come back to it I can more better see what the issue is. Often with such clarity arrives the answer unbidden to the problem that had me stymied.
13) What time of day do you find is your “creative time for writing”?
Evenings. After my grade-school age son goes to bed and before I crash. To those who write early in the morning, God bless yer pea-pickin’ hearts. That just doesn’t work for me. I find I need a full day of doing unrelated stuff to get my brain “spun up” fast enough so I can write.
14) Do you have some advice for the new authors that may be reading this post right now?
The book that you have in your heart to write may not be the book any one person has in their hearts to read. And that’s okay. You’re okay. Your story is okay, though always be willing to take into consideration points-of-view that might be hard to hear. Because often those help you figure out how to tell your story even better.
What’s worked for them/there/then may or may not be practical, feasible nor helpful for you/here/now. Don’t let anyone tell you your way is wrong. Your way is your way, every bit as valid as you are. Consider other people’s successes and failures as you soldier on, keeping Bruce Lee’s timeless advice close to your heart:
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
Reach out. Put yourself out there. I know it’s a daunting prospect to introverted types, but I believe doing so will pay dividends for people like it has for me. Query contests, pitch parties and forums like Absolute Write’s “water cooler” forums are great ways to learn things and make friends. I did just that and now have a cadre of resources I can depend upon to help me write, edit and promote my stories.
15) Last but not least, what are your future plans now that you have published your first novel?
“I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!”
*eyes royalty statement*
Well then, maybe not. Back to working on my next werecat book…
You can purchase Always Gray in Winter on Amazon
Read an excerpt!
About the Author
Boyhood interests in trains and electronics fostered my career as an electrical engineer, designing and commissioning signal and communications systems for railroads and rail transit agencies across the United States. Authoring rail industry trade magazines articles led me to write novel-length fiction, inspired by my beloved anime, manga and anthropomorphic fandoms. Growing up in Michigan never far from the Great Lakes, my wife, son and I live in Wisconsin with a dog who naps beside me as I write.
I am a member of Allied Authors of Wisconsin, one of the state’s oldest writing collectives, and the Furry Writer’s Guild, dedicated to supporting, informing, elevating, and promoting quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators.
Find and contact Mark Engels here: