Tag Archives: marketing

Writing Reviews Equals Selling Power

Going into a purchase blind isn’t something people usually do nowadays. More and more, buyers look for the stars before shelling out their hard earned cash. And rightfully so, as nothing stinks worse than spending your dough on subpar products.

However, I look beyond the stars to the review itself. I want to know why people love–or hate–a product. I want to know how it fits and how it holds up. I want to know the nitty-gritty as well as the undying lust. In short, reviews are the cyber-sphere’s version of word of mouth.

So, do your fellow buyers a favor and review the products you’ve purchased. Be honest, but not callous. Or, conversely, not all gushy-mushy. Give solid reasons for your likes and dislikes. Share whether you would purchase the product again or whether you’d buy it for your Aunt Harriet. Lastly, don’t forget to mention the reason why.

The why is the key to a good review.

  • Super cute, but the craftsmanship seems shoddy. The sole separated from the shoe within a week.
  • The skirt was the perfect length for my 5’2″ frame. Too often mini skirts on me are maxi sized.
  • The phone case actually fit my LG G2. I had to search long and hard to find one that works for Verizon’s special size. (True story, which begs the question: Verizon, why is your version a different size than every other carrier’s? Seriously.)
  • Despite keeping me glued to every page, the end of this novel was a disappointment. I didn’t like that the story had no real resolution–not unless I buy the next novel in the trilogy.
  • The mugs were broken when I received them. The supplier immediately resent new ones, which my mother-in-law loves because they are smaller than most giving her time to drink her coffee before it cools.
  • Likeable characters, but no real depth. The perfect beach read that you can walk away from when you’re done.

Solid reasons that neither gush nor shame. Rather, they have a mixture of both. Now, as a buyer, I can pick and choose which products will likely satisfy me. And so can you. But only if people leave reviews for us to sort through.

Only if you and I take the time to review the products we buy.

Do negative reviews scare you away from buying a product? What types of information do you find most helpful in a review? Least helpful? Are you a reviewer, or more of a reader of reviews?

From the author standpoint, it’s been said that it takes 20 reviews (good, bad or indifferent) to impact sales and draw readers toward your writing. How do you garner reviews for your writing?

Curious minds want to know.

A to Z: Baseball

This morning Middle Son pulled a crumpled note from his backpack and nonchalantly handed it over. “Here, mom, I got this a couple of days ago.”

This, of course, being the all-important sign up sheet for the summer baseball meeting. Which is, of course, tonight–when both Dear Hubby and I are out of town.

My little boys LOVE baseball. They live it. We live it every weekend between mid-May and mid-August and every week day for practice or games. It literally consumes our family.

Writing, of course, is exactly like baseball.

It’s all-consuming and takes a whole team.

I’ve been working with a few publishing houses over the course of the last few months and it is very clear to me that without every single player having their head and heart in the game, my novels will not make it to the playoffs. They will not become League Champions. Instead, they will sit in the dug out, spitting seeds into the dirt and wondering what they heck happened to their potential.

So, who makes up Team Novel?

  • Coaches- Our critique partners and sounding boards play an integral part in keeping us motivated and on the right track. They can give us the right cues on when to round a base and when to slide.
  • Umps- The editorial department makes the calls. They watch for strikes and balls and make the call on home plate. Without umps, our novels would be riddled with errors–some simple like typos and others glaring like MC’s eating three dinners in a row and never going to sleep.
  • Outfielders- These guys and gals see the big picture. Other than the batter, they are the only ones who have their eyes on the whole field. Graphic designers work hand in hand with marketing to create eye-catching covers that will pull together the most important aspects of a novel for our readers to drool over.
  • The Basemen- These dudes are the brains behind the game. They are like mini chess players calculating the opponents’ next moves and planning out their strategies three plays into the future. Our marketing departments are some of the most important players on the field. As are our street teams. Don’t ignore their power.
  • The Pitcher and the Catcher- This team of two needs to be rock-solid and is the core for which all other activity hinges on. The writer and the agent/editor. Without great writing (pitcher), the editor has nothing to catch and nothing to throw. And yet, the editor reads the batter and gives directives to the pitcher. It’s all give and take between them. Sometimes the pitcher and catcher are one in the same, such as when an author self-pubs. But never fear, the dichotomy is still there, as each of these positions require very different skills from the other. The self-pubber just has to work harder to accomplish what others do with two or more.
  • The Manager- The all-important spouse, significant other, parent, child, co-worker, friend or nanna who has your back. We all have that one person who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. Without them, we couldn’t manage to write.

Yet baseball is more than one team. It’s the audience we sit next to. It’s the concession stand workers providing us with ball park hot dogs and water to slake our thirst. It’s the opposing team and the grueling game played with them in the heat of summer.

Baseball is an experience, not a single event.

Writing is no different.

So today, reach out to your Team Novel–no matter what stage you are in your writing journey–and thank them for their support. Let them know you appreciate their efforts. And don’t be afraid to show your good sportsmanship. Congratulate someone on another team for their hard-earned win.

B is for baseball!

 

Who’s Reading You? Juvie LitTrends

According to an article in Writer’s Digest, the biggest sales increase of 2012 was for juvenile lit.

That’s right, juvie lit writers, our audience is buying books. In fact, The Association of American Publishers tracked a huge jump in digital book sales for children and teens. To the tune of 475.1%.

This is something I’ve seen first hand while presenting in the classroom. A large portion of kids have e-readers available at home. Many are exposed to them in school. Still others are provided with personal e-readers by the school for the duration of their education. Granted, they are part of the bigger picture for learning in this technological world, yet it does translate into greater access of e-books for kids.

Note to self: e-MG and e-YA is A-OK.

And while the debate continues on the effectiveness of blogs and tweets as a viable marketing tool, one thing is certain: kids use facebook and twitter to connect and share. If we write great books and build a rapport with our young readers, they will joyfully spread the word, making juvenile lit the perfect age group to target with technology.

But let’s take this marketing idea one step further. Who is buying the 80.5% more juvenile lit books sold in 2012 compared to those bought in 2011? I can’t be 100% sure, but I suspect a large number of buyers come from the school itself. To learn more about the Market Within, hop on over to From the Write Angle for a look at what that potential buying power looks like.

But before you go, consider one more thing. Gift cards are handed out at birthday parties, in Christmas stockings and as graduation gifts more readily than politicians pass out handshakes. This instant access creates greater buying power in youth. All they need to download their favorite song, game or book is a gift card and a computer/e-reader/handheld gaming device. For the young bibliophile, it’s akin to books-on-demand. No longer do they need to make that special trip to the brick and mortar on Mom and Pop’s time. No longer does Grandma have to buy “safe” books that kids don’t want to read. No way. Because thanks to the gift card trend, kids can–and do–buy the books they hear about during lunch as soon as they get home. They are firmly in the driver’s seat of their reading tastes.

Does this mean we should all start writing for kids? Heck no. I would be sad if we did. However, it does mean that the market for this age group is flexible and strong. Good products can equal good sales for the savvy writer.

How does the convergence of technology and youth impact your writing/marketing plan? Have you ever considered e-MG before, or are you still reluctant to try digital only for youth? How does a traditionally lower e-price affect the sales potential of books for kids?

Curious minds want to know.

Turn Your Novel into a Literary Destination

Yesterday, I took a few mug shots of my kids.  We’re in the process of getting their passports, and it got me thinking how books are passports to exotic destinations.  They take us on adventures unimaginable, with friends we never knew existed.  They show us horrors we never want to experience and provide us with experiences we are lacking in our every day lives.

As writers, we create these worlds.  We toil away beside characters we love and resolve conflicts in foreign kingdoms with new age technology.  We sweat blood and cry caffeine tears in the hopes that someday, somewhere, somebody will stamp our books into their literary passports.

So, where are these passports that honor our long hours and days and characters and scenes?  Where is the proof that such incredible worlds exist beyond our keyboards and how do we invite others inside our words?

In short, how do our manuscripts become destination spots for eager literary travelers?

Cat’s Passport Guide for Writers

Create a unique destination.  Few people want to visit an uninhabited island devoid of food and water.  As writers, we must build all-inclusive resorts for our readers.  Plot, character, yada, yada, yada.  We have to have it all, or nobody will book a flight.  We also have to provide something unique along with all our other amenities.  If our novels sound, feel, smell and taste exactly like the book it will be shelved next to…?  Seriously, what’s the point of trying out a knock-off resort author?

Customer service, baby.  Few people shell out cold, hard cash to stay at a resort where they wash their own dishes and dodge trash on the walkways.  Get rid of typos, cut down on wordy sentences and dispose of purple prose.  All those things detract from the experience and rarely garner repeat business.  Bad customer service = bad business.

Know thy audience.  A five-star resort with adult only beaches does not attract middle class families with small children.  Likewise, a water park resort with ice cream stands every fifty feet will surely turn the noses of prospective honeymooners.

Books must fit on bookshelves and in book clubs.  Librarians need to know where to place your masterpiece so it receives the best circulation possible.  “But, but, but, I have a crossover, multi-genre, space-opera, noir adventure for middle graders that everyone from age 8-80 will love,” you say.  “With hot cowboys telling fart jokes.”

To which I say,  “It’s doubtful this conglomeration–placed willy nilly within the historical romances–will be picked up by stay at home moms looking for an exotic escape while the kids are at school.”  Sexy cowboys or not.

Very few books have genuine cross-over appeal.  They are the exception, not the rule.  And breaking into the vacation market with an unknown is risky business.

Make connections.  Travel agents are great at directing customers to hot vacation spots.  Advertisements in the right magazines catch readers’ attention.  Discounts and deals make potential travelers feel good about their purchases.  A personal touch, a bit of history, a quiet sense of comfort.  These things effectively draw people to certain resorts.

Whether we self-pub or use travel agents and traditional publishers along the way, the key to booking sales is tasteful visibility–to the right audience (as proven by number 3 above).

Lastly, don’t brag.  Vacationers love to spill when they return from a fabulous island hop.  Their word of mouth often sells others on the same resort, while their pictures frequently entice on-the-fence travelers to pack up their bags.  Not so with the resort owner–who lives in this exotic locale–who can’t shut up about sipping frozen drinks while you literally freeze in sub par temps.  Not so much when her weekly vial of cornmeal beach sand arrives in the mail just as you vacuum your kid’s daily deposit of pea rock from your front rug.

It is unbecoming of writers to oversell themselves.  Let your novel speak for itself.  Then sit back and let your satisfied customers rank your book with five stars, making your story the hottest literary destination around.

Are you a frequent flyer, buying books to support the industry while getting a better handle on what is available?  Do you know your competition and strive to provide unique characters, settings and stories?  Have you ever been surprised to see similarities between your manuscript/idea and pubbed books?  How do you reconcile that within your own writing?   Which similarities can make a novel?  Which ones can break any chance of every getting published?

Curious minds want to know.

Where do you hear about the books you buy? Unofficial Study

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of marketing, researched some and still haven’t come to a conclusion about it all.  A post by Sophie Perinot today stirred up some more questions about marketing dollars and social networking time as effective means of selling books.

Words and phrases have tumbled around in my mind as potential posts, but I guess what I really want to know–what every writer really wants to know–is how do you hear about the books you pick for your reading list?

I’ll tell you all about my buying habits and ask that you–whether a reader or a writer–share a bit about how/where you find your newest reads. 

  • Twitter: I’ve never purchased a tweeted about book.  Ever.  Especially when I feel like the purpose of Twitter is to sell books, not engage in meaningful communications with fellow readers and writers.  Call me a snob…
  • Book Trailer: nope.  I don’t You tube, so see very few of them to begin with.  Those I do see are because I’m already on an author’s blog or website.
  • Blog Mention: YES, yes and Yes!  I love hearing what my cyber friends are reading and why.  I also love supporting my fellow writers by purchasing their books–made easier by e-pubbing as I’m far away from even a big chain book store, let alone an indie brick and mortar. 
  • The Author’s Blog: A word of caution.  I don’t like when authors sell their books in their blog posts by mentioning it every single day.  I do like when they have a quiet link on the side and mention only the most intriguing aspects of their writing journeys in their posts.  If blogs become thinly veiled advertisements, I am out of there.
  • Publisher’s Web Page: Nope.  I don’t visit publisher sites unless I’m already specifically looking for an author or a book.  I never browse them to see upcoming books for my reading list–title comps, yes, but not my personal reading list.
  • Brick and Mortars: I do, however, browse physical bookshelves.  I love nothing more than finding a new author and a new title among the spines.
  • Amazon: Absolutely.  I purchase e-books from my Kindle on a regular basis.  But…I already know exactly what I’m looking for before I do.  I’m not an Amazon browser.  Not even when I get the “based on your purchases you might like” suggestions.  I’m a very focused e-book buyer and never browse for my e-books.
  • Word of Mouth: Definitely.  I will almost always (Please don’t spam me with book titles over this admission!) buy books that are recommended by trusted family and friends. 
  • Conferences: Certainly.  Put an author on the podium who wants to help me succeed as a writer and I’m right there with my checkbook.  Conferences are dangerous places for my bank account.
  • Book Clubs: I’ve been a member of several and love them.  I also adore my kids’ book club flyers from school and almost always purchase a book or ten from them.
  • Author Events: School visits or library talks are intriguing to me and I like to support those authors brave enough to show up in public and put themselves out there.  I like when they bring the books so I don’t have to pay then and have them shipped.  Ugh.  Can you say instant gratification?
  • Libraries: Indirectly.  I’m not a big library user (blame my instant gratification issues and addiction to books) even though I’m on the library board and support them financially.  However, I do browse titles, listen to trends from the librarians and then buy books I think I’ll like based on the process.
  • Author Web Sites: Occasionally.  I do check up on my favorite authors now and again and feel like this IS the place to sell your wares.  It isn’t offensive for me to have authors plug their books on their sites.  That’s why I’m there.
  • School Reading Lists: Yes.  I like to read what my kids are reading.  Even academically.  If I like a book or an author, I’ll buy a copy for home.
  • Movies made from books: Sometimes.  If the movie sounds intriguing, I’ll pick up the book and read it first.  I rarely read a book AFTER seeing the movie, however, as I like to be surprised and delighted in my own head, not by a director’s interpretation of a novel.
  • Writing Groups: Without a doubt.  If I’m in your circle of writing buds, I will 100% support your endeavor: morally and financially.  (No, you can’t have a loan.)  I know, I expect a rush of new subscribers over that one and welcome it.  But I’m serious.  If I make a solid connection with you, I’m your friend for life.
  • Grocery Stores: Laugh about it, but yes.  When I’m on vacation and have to run to the store for a few last-minute ingredients, I will usually pick up a beach/fireplace read for those down times.
  • Radio Mention: Yep.  Especially if the author is interviewed and sounds passionate about his writing and particular project.
  • Newspaper/Magazine Ad: Sometimes, though rarely.
  • Television: Nope.  I picked up one Oprah book club book once and hated it so much I figure we have nothing in common as far as literary taste is concerned.  Snobbish and narrow-minded, but I’m me and I get to have some quirks.
  • Random Out and About: Yep.  I’m a snooper.  If I see you sitting on an airplane or a park bench and you are ENGROSSED in a book, you can bet your last penny that I will remember the title and buy it next.  Kind of like word of mouth, but from strangers and with no talking.
  • Goodreads and other booky places: Yes.  I consider this word of mouth, though I’m a bit leery of who I follow because I only want genuine recommendations.
  • Facebook: No.  I don’t really know writers ONLY through Facebook.  Nor do my friends drop titles as readily as they discuss their evenings out on the town. 

The Catch: I refuse, on principle, to buy a book from an author whose only form of communication is to pitch her writing.  I hate being the target of someone’s campaign.  Rather, I get warm fuzzies when I care about the people who wrote the book and don’t need you to sell me your product.  In fact, the minute you morph from cool writer into crazy marketer, I’m gone.

How about you?  What awakens the desire for you to drop your hard-earned cash on someone else’s words?  How do you initially hear about the books you someday read?  Do you pass along great authors and titles to the peeps in your life?  If so, how?

Readers and writers alike, share this post, comment on your buying trends and help us unofficially get a handle on how we can become better marketers of our work.

Curious minds want to know!

Digital Resumes and the Writer

My big sis called this morning.  She’s going through grad school and calls every once in a while to use me as a sounding board.  This arrangement is fine with me as long as she cuts her diploma in half and I can hang part of it on my wall.  Not to mention talking business trumps our childhood relationship when she used me as a punching bag, like all good big sisters do.

“So,” says Big Sis.  “I have to create a visual resume.”

“A what?”  Yeah, even though I’m online nearly every day and actually write a random resume or two for clients, I’d never heard of the digital resume until today.

Some online sleuthing taught me quickly that the digital resume can vary from a slide show type advertisement to a high-end, website looking page.

My brain instantly translated this to the world of writing–and sure enough, some astute writers have their digital resumes complete–and how exactly an aspiring/professional writer can utilize this technology.

So, my dear writerly friends, have you heard of visual/digital resume before?  If so, in what context?  How does this technology impact you and your potential marketing of a) you as a writer/speaker and b) your books/projects/products?

And to any peeps regardless of background: what’s the buzz in your world regarding digital resumes?  Do you think they are superior to paper?  Do explain.

Inquiring minds really, really, really want to know!

Prepped and Ready to Go

Today is a great day.  I get to fly off into the sunset…scratch that, I’ll actually be heading east and will have a better chance of watching the moon materialize in the night sky.  Regardless, it is still a great day.

DH and I are going on a much needed trip.  I have my Kindle, a few swimsuits and my DH.  What else does a good vacation need?

Right.  Peace of mind. 

Thankfully I have that as well.  My in-laws (two of the most amazing grandparents ever) are coming down to stay with the kids while we frolick on the beach.  The emergency phone numbers are written down.  Schedules are printed.  Dates and times of events are laid out in an orderly fashion.  Closets have been organized, the house cleaned and the cupboards full.  My check list is done.

Ever wonder why we put so much effort into vacation plans and barely any into our writing careers?  I used to write simply to appease my muse.  However, the writing community has encouraged me to take a much more proacrive approach.  My career path is no longer as distant as the Carribean is from Minnesota.

With our crunched economy and the down-sizing of the publishing industry, I have started considering my writing as a whole and the impact of everything I do on my futre career.  Due to technology, writers have to weigh their words today to keep them from nipping us in the butt like a swarm of sand fleas five years from now.

Gone are the days of simply prepping our manuscripts.  Now e have to prep ourselves.  We have to set out on a journey with clear destinations in mind (picture book, non-fiction, horror, romance, big house, little house), all the while hammering planks into our platforms to support our choices.  In short, we have to come to agents and editors prepped and ready to go.

One can no longer book a flight out of country on a whim.  Without the forethought of securing a passport, we will never board the plane.  Likewise, without some sort of plan in place, we will never succeed in seeing our work on book store shelves.

Prepare, oh writer friends, prepare.  Research your destination and lay the ground work for a smooth and worry free vacation.  Let your writing journey be a pleasure cruise…

Do you have clear cut goals beyond “getting published”?  Have you written a marketing plan or anything else concrete?  What have you done to build your platform and give yourself agent appeal? 

I will miss you all while I’m gone, but will return to catch up on my blog and yours on February 8th.  Until then, keep writing!