Monday, March 28, 2016

Marketing for Those Who Hate Social Media

She's funny, she's talented, and she knows what she's doing. If y'all missed Karen Witemeyer's talk at the last meeting, you missed some truly great instruction and ideas.

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 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 ( 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!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sharon Connell--from Everywhere, America

She's one of our most enthusiastic members--Sharon Connell. I met her on LinkedIn, in a group we both belong to, Pen and Paper World. The moment I discovered she lived in our area and that she is a Christian writer, I knew WOTS was perfect for her and vice-versa.

Here's a little bit about our newest newbie:

Where are you originally from, and what brought you to Texas?

Even though I was born in Superior, Wisconsin, I have a hard time saying that I’m from there. You see, my parents moved to Chicago, Illinois, when I was only five days old. Besides Superior and Chicago, I have lived in Mt. Prospect, Illinois; Long Beach, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Des Plaines, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Beulah and Pensacola, Florida; and now Houston, Texas. (Always wanted to be a Texan. LOL) The reason I wound up in Texas is a very handsome gentleman who swept me off my feet.

What did you do before you retired?

Before retiring, I worked in the clerical field, everything from File Clerk to Office Manager. Most of my clerical career was in the clinical setting, working in doctors’ offices and hospitals.

How did you get interested in writing?

A dear friend of mine, whom I usually refer to as my adopted brother, is the one responsible for starting me on the path to authorship. He would say, “Sharon, you need to put that in a book,” every time I would tell him about what was happening in my life and around me. After Hurricane Ivan struck Pensacola, Florida, while I was living there, he kept after me to write about it. I decided he was right. However, when I started the story, it took a different direction. Once I finished my first novel and sent it to him, he told me that it was as good as anything he had read by other authors, and yes, he does read romance novels. That was all I needed to hear. I began my second book and haven’t stopped yet. That was almost ten years ago.

What kinds of books do you write?

My novels are in the Christian/Romance/Drama (or Suspense as ACFW refers to it) genre. I have also written a collection of short stories, some drama, fantasy and spooky (for a contest, in which I earned second place). I love writing about the places I’ve visited and the things I love and have seen. I also love to write about people finding love. But most of all, I like to write about how God works in the lives of His children and even the lost, regardless of how bleak circumstances look or how bad someone’s life has become.

What have you learned as an indie author? What sources did you rely on to publish your books?

There are so many things I’ve learned since starting to write, from authors, from readers and from the classes I’ve taken. One of the things I’ve learned is that each author has to find their own style of writing. Each of us has to avoid trying to sound or write like someone else. But what’s most important for an author is to write something that the reader wants to read. It also has to be written in a way that the reader is excited to start each new chapter.

CreateSpace publishes my books, which are then available on Amazon, Kindle, and may be ordered through Barnes and Noble as a print-on-demand purchase.

Has joining ACFW and WOTS helped in your career?

Being a part of American Christian Fiction Writers and Writers on the Storm is a big help to me. Not only do I receive critiques on my work, continued instruction in writing and encouragements from a great group of authors, but also it never hurts an author to be a part of a nation-wide organization of writers.

What are your writing goals?

My immediate writing goals are first finish my fourth novel (in the revision stage currently) and to start my next story, on which I have been taking down notes and research for the past year. My ultimate goal is to have as many books for my readers to read as I can possible provide in this lifetime.

Stay in touch with Sharon here: 

LinkedIn:  (PenandPaperWorld)
Author’s book page on Facebook:

Book videos:

A Very Present Help by SharonKConnell
Paths of Righteousness by SharonKConnell
There Abideth Hope by SharonKConnell

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Maximizing Click-Throughs from Your Target Audience with Social Media

Honored to introduce Darlene Oakley, social media manager for author, editor, and Christian PEN owner, Kathy Ide. Since Karen Witemeyer will be speaking about marketing for those who hate social media, I thought Darlene's post about maximizing social media would be a great compliment.


In this 21st century, instant information world, you can’t market a book without social media. The entire concept of managing three or four (or even more) accounts and their various advantages to marketing specifically can be very intimidating. But it’s important to get involved and get a handle on them because they will make or break the success of your book.

Internet Networking is Key

Social media is an author’s way of connecting with his or her target audience. The ultimate goal of a social media marketing strategy for authors is to get likes, shares, followers, and click-throughs. Likes, shares and followers help get our face and our books in front of a wide audience of people. When people engage to like or share content from your Facebook page or Tweet, it triggers Google and other search engines that you’re active. It may not seem like those interactions are having much impact, but it’s in the places where you can’t see. The more active you are in posting, sharing, liking and engaging with your audience, the more search engines notice and this means higher search engine rankings when people search certain keywords. This is the value of Internet networking.

The challenge is to turn those likes, shares, etc., into click-throughs; that is getting people to commit to buying your book. This means getting them to your website or to the shopping cart option on whichever website your book happens to be available.

Keep it Short

Writing for social media marketing is different than writing a book. Social media is not the place for long drawn out sentences. Keep them short and direct, but avoid saying things like “Hey you! Get out there and buy my book.” Get right to the point of your post (ex: WIN a copy of my book). Your social media audience has a very limited attention span. So make sure that you catch them right from the get-go. Your message needs to provide them the information they need and an active link to where they need to go. People don’t have time to scroll through paragraphs of information only to discover that they have to click to or three more times to get to the ordering page.

People’s lives are busy. As much as possible, keep your message short enough that people will be able to engage with it without having to scroll. Think of it like the first line of your book. That’s the hook. It is also one of the toughest things to write.

Facebook, G+ and Linkedin let you use more characters, but you still need to think like Twitter. Many people will move on to something else if they see “Read more” at the bottom of your post. But if you have used your words wisely, you can hook readers so that they will read more and are just looking for the link.

Use Graphics

Again, this comes back to keeping it short. People don’t have a lot of time when they’re checking their newsfeeds on their 15-minute break or 30-minute lunch. You need to get their attention and engage with them fast. In social media, this works best with graphics and photos. Check out sites like PicMonkey or to learn how to make your own graphics. The human brain processes pictures 60,000 times faster than text. Graphics make an impression and evoke an emotional response that words on their own sometimes can’t. Graphics are much easier to like or click on than paragraphs of text.

Call to action

One of the latest social media marketing trends is search engine bots including photo captions in their searches. If you’re posting pictures, make sure you have a call to action in the caption, or hyperlink the photo directly to where you want your readers to go. You’ve grabbed their attention through a great graphic, don’t lose them by making it difficult for them to buy your book or otherwise engage with you. Tell your audience what you want them to do. It may seem like a no-brainer, but this kind of statement needs to be direct “Follow me,” “Buy now,” “Click here,” “Enter now!” “Email me now,” etc.

Don’t Advertise

This may seem contradictory to general marketing practice, but sometimes the best way to advertise is not to advertise. Think about how you feel when you see the same message repeated over and over … buy my book, buy my book, buy my book … and nothing else. While marketing is all about selling and you do need “buy my book” posts, people don’t want to feel like the only reason you’re trying to get in touch with them is to sell them something. That all you care about is getting their money.

Engagement comes when people feel you value them as people, not just as potential readers and a source of income. Engagement and click-throughs happen when followers feel like they have a somewhat personal relationship with you, through comments you post, things you share, articles you write.

Think about the kinds of things that your circle of friends likes to read and share, what people in your professional circle read and share, what topics are important to your target audience. Even if these things really have absolutely nothing to do with your book that is the kind of information that stands a higher chance of drawing them in. It really is advertising, but more on a subliminal level. Instead of whomping them over the head with your product, you’re reaching them on a heart level. The way to a reader’s and buyer’s pocket book sometimes comes from providing completely irrelevant information to your book, information that they need. For example, an encouraging note, a Bible verse, a funny graphic that makes them laugh on a gloomy day. When people get a sense that they can trust your heart, they will be more willing to trust you with their money, and buy your book.

About Darlene: 

Darlene Oakley has been a freelance writer, editor, and transcriptionist for 15 years. She has written over 200 articles that have been published online, and edited over 25 books. Her first title, Inner Sanctum (Christian Dystopia) was released in 2014. Her second fiction title, Voices of Angels (Romantic Suspense), is due out shortly.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Coming in March!

Writers on the Storm is excited to present Karen Witemeyer as our guest speaker for our March 19 meeting.

A California transplant to Texas, Karen is a graduate of Abilene Christian University, earning Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Psychology. She writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House and is a two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award.

Her topic? "Marketing for those who hate social media."

Marketing--techniques to get our works to fly off the "shelves"--is our theme for the month.

In January, we discussed the changes in the industry, touching upon the  increase of indie or hybrid authors. February, we talked about making dollars and "sense" in this crazy business.

For March, we're going to get down to the brass tacks of money-making: marketing. Doesn't matter how wonderful our books are if no one reads them, and no one will know to read them if they don't know we've written them. So, how do we bring our products to everyone's attention?

Stay tuned to our blog and be sure to come to the meeting. I'm certain we'll all learn something that will work best for us.

Can't wait to hear what Karen has to say!

In other news:

We've made some changes in our events calendar, moving our "Personal Publishing Journeys" meeting with Annette O'Hare, Kathrese McKee, and myself from October to April so we can have a special day for the big event we've been planning:

Mark your calendar for October 8--not our usual date of 3rd Saturday (October 15), but the 8th--because Hallee Bridgeman is coming to WOTS! We're hoping to give her a full, four-hour seminar for her discussion on all things Indie. We're working on the plans now, so stay tuned!!!