We've been concentrating on the business end of this business all this year, and marketing is as big as it gets.
Karen's emphasis when marketing is on the reader and giving the reader the first-class treatment. She says to stop thinking like an author for this and be a blessing for your readers--give generously and lovingly, be authentic, offer sale prices, and encourage borrowing from friends, libraries, and KU. When you're creating a buzz, you're not losing out; you're gaining a faithful reader base.
She suggests that we be unexpected in the things we do, like adding bonus material to our mail-outs and on our blogs and newsletters. Promo items that are useful for mail-outs, and extra material in blogs and newsletter that can't be found in our books: out takes, character bios or interviews. Things that would capture their interest and endear them to our characters/books.
Our books are our most important and powerful marketing tool, so we shouldn't be so involved in promotions that we don't have time to write. Our second biggest tool is our website. Karen illustrated the difference between her old site and her new one and reminded us to look at this tool as a reader. Are the links to your books and newsletter visible and easily accessed? Is your page to busy? Do you provide bio clips and author jpegs? Do you use your name so authors who use a search engine can find you? Karen emphasized the idea of hiring a web designer to help with this (she mentioned webcraftersdesign.com in Houston. Sounded like a good tip).
Make your site about blessing the reader. Make it easy to navigate, visually appealing, and informative in what your reader would find interesting. Offer giveaways. And make sure those giveaways are given away through your newsletter.
Your website should be the hub of everything related to your business and books, and it should be the best place readers can go to sign up for your newsletter. A link to your newsletter should be on every page of your website and at the end of each book you write. Building your contact list for your newsletter tops the list of things to apply your energies to. Thankfully (for men, anyway), she said it's okay not to send out a newsletter frequently. When you have something to say, something to share--that's often enough. Offer giveaways, provide bonus content--fan fiction contests, backstory trivia, things that may have been cut from your book, interesting tidbits you found while researching, fun things that happened while writing.
A word about contests and giveaways:
- Be careful what you select--think about how easily they can be mailed or toted.
- Choose useful items for giveaways (she brought a really nice letter opener and a mouse pad, both of which displayed her covers) that you can tie in to your book (she showed a small sewing kit she got from a wedding site. The kit was reminiscent of one of her characters. She had a sticker made of her cover and put it on the kit. So cute!).
- Consider the required legal jargon. You can find an example on her blog page and alter it to fit your purposes.
- Consider whether you want to pay international rates for your giveaways.
- Run your contest through your newsletter to help up the subscriptions, but also make sure your subscribers know they're already enrolled and eligible. She recommends using Promo Simple (promosimple.com) instead of Rafflecopter, because Promo Simple provides a way to disqualify those who say they're newsletter subscribers but aren't. You can use the email addresses to make sure they're already on your mailing list.
- Illustrate the number of people who have entered a contest instead of the number of entries when you're offering several ways to enter. This could keep potential entrants from being discouraged.
I scribbled notes like crazy, but I don't think I scratched the surface of what she presented. She had some wonderful ideas and great information. If you ever do get to hear her speak, jump at the opportunity!