A Book and Its Movie: Gone With the Wind

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I’m trying something new to bridge the gap between my Historical Romance books and upcoming Civil War Historical Fiction. I am teaming up with Laura Michaela Drone Banse and her Banse’s Book Club for a long-term read of Gone With the Wind, and an eventual movie night. Please come join the Facebook Group for discussion every Sunday.

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A Book and Its Movie: Gone With the Wind
August 21 – January 22

We will read and discuss Gone With the Wind, a chapter or two a week, with new discussions opening every Sunday, culminating in a Sunday afternoon viewing and discussion of the movie on January 22.

To order the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

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Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace: Contests and Giveaways

Cross-posted at www.JudeKnightAuthor.com as part of our ongoing marketing series.


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In recent posts in the series Mari Christie and I are writing on marketing in the bazillion book marketplace, we’ve been talking about marketing plans. Posts have focused on audience and purpose. What do we want to achieve? Who do we need to reach? We’ve begun to talk channels. Where will we go to find our readers? But we don’t yet have a plan.

A marketing plan is our map for the journey to the destination ‘book sales’. But deciding you’re flying to the Caribbean for a holiday is only the first step in a travel plan. You need to do a lot more planning and take a heap of actions before you can drink cocktails under a beach umbrella. And a marketing plan is no different.

So we’re going to talk tools and tactics: the mechanisms you’ll use to get to your destination (the savings account, the airplane), and the actions you’ll take (put aside 2% of your pay packet, buy a ticket).

So watch for posts on various tools and tactics. This week: giveaways.

Promote your book by running a giveaway

Hosting creative giveaways can help draw attention to your book. But making sure they give you the results you want takes a bit of planning.

Keep it simple — but be clear about what you want to achieve

Do you want more subscribers to your newsletter? More followers on Twitter? More party-goers at your Facebook launch party? Design your giveaway questions to get the results you’re after. Be creative. You could ask those who enter to:

  • share a particular post
  • comment on a particular post
  • post a phot
  • post a caption to a photo
  • come up with a name for something in your next book: a character, pet, house, ship, town… or even book title
  • answer questions about what they enjoy in books.

Choose a prize people want — and that works for you

The better the reward, the more entries you’ll get. At the same time, you want entries from people who are interested in the type of book you write. A $50 Amazon card may be attractive, but it might also attract people who are only interested in the prize, not your book. Here’s a post Mari wrote on prizes.

Consider combining with other authors to make a bigger prize.

Use multiple forms of social media to promote

Different people focus on different types of social media, so make sure you promote your giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and wherever else you have a presence. Use the word ‘giveaway’ in the title and tell people about the prize.

Pay attention

During the giveaway, visit the posts and comment. Talk to those entering. Show an interest.

Finish gracefully

Announce your winner or winners as soon as practical after the giveaway is over. Send out the prizes straightaway. Thank all those who have participated.

Watch the legal stuff

A sweepstake is a promotion where the winner is chosen by a random drawing. A contest is a promotion where the winner is chosen on merit (by vote or a judging panel). You can safely call them both giveaways, but be careful not to call a sweepstake a contest.

You need to state the prize, the deadline, and the conditions of entry up front, and you can’t change those after you’ve started. You can’t charge a fee to enter and you must accept all valid entries.


10726384_438048036344768_1967130616_nJudy holds a Masters in Communication, and is accredited in public relations through the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand. As a writer and editor for a broad range of government and private-sector organizations, she has applied her clear writing skills to topics as diverse as insurance, climate change, income tax, genetics, finance, local government, and health.

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Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace: Road to a Better Mousetrap, Part 3

Cross-posted at www.JudeKnightAuthor.com as part of our new, mutual, ongoing marketing series.


billboard-951520-mby Jude Knight

A few weeks ago, I posted the first part of an article about writing marketing plans. This was about knowing your reader. You need to know who you want to sell to, what they want to buy, and how much they will spend.

The second post talked about knowing your product and finding your readers.

In this post, we talk about how to keep your readers and how to get them to sell your books.

How not to become rich and famous

Writing books is no sure way to wealth and fame, as every writer knows. Wealth and fame, or even a modest income and privacy to write more, means selling books. Selling books eats into your emotional and creative energy: energy you could be pouring into your books.

But not selling books, for those of us without a private fortune or a rich spouse, means doing some other job to put food on the table, and the job eats into your time and very likely your emotional and creative energy.

You already know that finding buyers (other than your closest friends and relatives) means writing a good book, having it well edited, and giving it a gorgeous cover. Do these things and you’ll find a few buyers. A few.

Sales figures for ‘the average book’ are no more than a guesstimate, but a few brave people have made an attempt, basing their figures on reported sales from a variety of sources. And those figures come out somewhere in the region of 200 to 500 books in the first year, depending on genre, with an upper average of 1000 in the lifetime of the book.

Of course, a very tiny fraction of one percent of all books do spectacularly well, selling 10s, even 100s of thousands, which means the average of all of the rest is probably lower, closer to the 200.

That’s the average. And you wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t want to beat the odds.

Don’t find buyers; attract (and keep) fans

It’s a vicious cycle, but there is an answer. Find other people to sell your books for you. Convert your readers into followers, and your followers into raving fans.

We’ve discussed in other posts the need to interact with readers. This post gives three steps for making those interactions count. When you write your marketing plan, document how you intend to do these things.

  1. Make it easy for them to find you.
  2. Make it worthwhile for them to follow you
  3. Provide interesting stuff

Make it easy for them to find you

Sell your books where the bulk of your readers are. Whatever you might think of Amazon’s business model, learn how to make the most of the platform they offer. Tailor your keywords, the bio on your author page, and all the other tools they provide to get your book noticed. Do the same with other eretailers, too.

Your print audience is going to be smaller. I cannot give much advice on print. My books are available in print, but I haven’t been pushing the print copies because I only have a certain amount of energy.

Give away a free book—short stories, excerpts, or a novella. Before you can convert that reader, you first have to put a book in front of them. My novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was downloaded 53,000 times in its first six months. That’s 53,000 readers I have a chance at converting.

In your free book, as well as your books for sale, give your readers a reason to go looking for you and a way to connect with you as soon as they finish the story. On your next pages, put links to your social media and subscription services, teasers and excerpts for your other books, buy links for the books already on sale.

Make it worthwhile for them to follow you

Okay, you’ve given them a reason to click. Now give them a reason to subscribe, to buy, to join, and to follow.

Here are few that work well if you do them well.

Have a newsletter. Make it easy for people to sign up and give them interesting content. Reward them with coupons or insider information, and special contests. Keep your newsletters brief and informative, and don’t send them too often.

Have a blog. Blog about things that interest your target readers, and blog regularly. Use your blog to inform and entertain. Watch your blog stats to find out what posts do well and what topics people consistently ignore. Do more of the one and fewer of the other.

Post often. Themed days can help if you have trouble thinking of what to say. Visitors can help, and people love to be hosted on other people’s blogs. It’s a win-win; they reach your audience and you’re introduced to theirs. One idea is to invite other novelists to post a themed extract in comments. (A brilliant example of this is Exquisite Quills).

Encourage people to subscribe to your blog, so they get notified when you put up a new post. And post often. Visitors can help. Themed days can help.

Have a twitter account. Tweet about things that interest your readers. Reply to people’s comments. Tweet about interesting blog posts. Link to free books and excerpts.

Have a Facebook fan page and post stuff about your books, research you’ve done, places you’ve been, and your cat. Facebook loves cats. Ask questions. Join in conversations. Post interesting memes and idea.

Provide interesting stuff

Don’t be a digital billboard, constantly trying to sell something. Engage, inform, entertain, intrigue, delight. Put the effort into writing quality content, whatever you’re posting: hot men, useful recipes, research into royal mistresses, castles, cute cats, questions about romance tropes.

I’ve been trying to do all of these, though not as consistently as I’d like. Torn between the day job, the fiction writing, family commitments, and marketing, I lurch from too much focus to too little. Still, in the first three months after the release of Farewell to Kindness, I’ve sold over 900 copies. Not enough to retire on, but considerably over the odds.

In the next road to a better mousetrap post, tools and tactics?


10726384_438048036344768_1967130616_nJudy holds a Masters in Communication, and is accredited in public relations through the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand. As a writer and editor for a broad range of government and private-sector organizations, she has applied her clear writing skills to topics as diverse as insurance, climate change, income tax, genetics, finance, local government, and health.

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Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace: Road to a Better Mousetrap, Part 2

Cross-posted at www.JudeKnightAuthor.com as part of our new, mutual, ongoing marketing series.


billboard-951520-mby Jude Knight

A few weeks ago, I posted the first part of an article about writing marketing plans.

Most of the first post was about knowing your reader. You need to know who you want to sell to, what they want to buy, and how much they will spend.

But they’re not going to come to you; you have to find a way to go to them. And before you do that, you need to know what you have to offer them.

Know your product

Ridiculous, right? You know your product. Who better? You’ve spent six months, or a year, or three years of your life on this book. So can you encapsulate its essence in a sentence? And does that sentence hook into the interests and passions of the readers you want to reach? If the first nine words of your sales statement does not capture people’s attention, then expect to be lost in the crowd.

Tagline
This sales statement is called a tagline, and it’s worth spending some time crafting it, because you can then use it everywhere – at the start of your description on eretailers websites, in newsletters, in requests for review, on twitter, at the start of Facebook posts, even on the cover of the book itself.

Here are some great taglines:

  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis: What does it take to survive aboard a spaceship fueled by lies?
  • The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney: Hush little students, don’t say a word…
  • After by Amy Efaw: You’ve done the unthinkable. What happens…after?
  • Wake by Lisa McMann: Your dreams are not your own.
  • Hold Still by Nina LaCour: How does your life move forward when all you want to do is hold still?
  • Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher: Bad boys and secrets are both hard to keep.
  • Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story.
  • Le Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess by Mari Christie: Kali Matai was destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful men. She hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn.

Keywords
Keywords are the next thing to think about. What words are your readers likely to search on. “Spies Napoleonic wars”? “Courtesan to wife”? “Tudor court politics”?

Amazon and Smashwords let you enter a number of keyword phrases, and carefully chosen keywords will help people using their sites to find your book if that’s what they’re looking for. But you can use them much more widely than this.

First, you can litter the keyword phrases in your online conversations about your books, thus increasing the number of times you’re picked up by search engines.

Second, you can use the keyword phrases to search for the people who are using them and the places they hang out. Which brings us to:

Go where your readers are

Writing books is a solitary task. We talk to one another about our craft and our day, but when it comes to putting words one after the other into a text that will one day be a book, we do it alone.

But to put those books into the hands of readers, we need to step out, often outside of our comfort zone, and hang out with people. Mari and I have posted elsewhere about marketing by not-marketing, and I’m not going to repeat that here, except to say I’m not talking about going out to make sales. I’m talking about going out to meet people and have conversations.

You cared enough about your “pirate-lord-succumbs-to-captive” story to spend endless hours writing, editing, and honing it. Perhaps you can ask people what they think of the concept behind it: the idea, perhaps, of arrogance faltering in the face of genuine love. Or you might have some insights to offer from your research into piracy at the time your novel is set. Or you might be able to combine with other writers who’ve explored the same trope to do some kind of a joint presentation.

We’re getting down to tactics, here, and that’s a whole other blog post. Suffice it to say that talking about your passion, the topic in which you’re an expert, shouldn’t be a chore. (And it should go without saying that, as in any conversation, it’s a great idea to listen twice as much as you speak.)

So get out there and hold conversations, whether you meet your readers online or in real life; on Facebook, Pinterest or Google Plus; at a book fair, a country show, or a signing tour.

In the next road to a better mousetrap post, who will sell your books for you?


10726384_438048036344768_1967130616_nJudy holds a Masters in Communication, and is accredited in public relations through the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand. As a writer and editor for a broad range of government and private-sector organizations, she has applied her clear writing skills to topics as diverse as insurance, climate change, income tax, genetics, finance, local government, and health.

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Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace: Make Yourself an Expert

Currently cross-posted at www.JudeKnightAuthor.com as part of our new, mutual, ongoing marketing series.


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I know old-school marketing. I have been working to promote products, people, and services since I was about 15 years old. (And since I am old…)

  • Trade and Consumer campaigns (B2B, B2C)
  • Strategic and tactical planning
  • Design, copywriting, advertising, on- or off-line
  • Collateral material
  • Printing, publishing, distribution
  • Media relations
  • Event planning and management

Talking about any of the above makes no difference at all to sales of my books.

Where it does make a difference is in selling my services as a marketing consultant, business and technical writer/editor, designer, cover artist, and author PA. And, if I were to write a book about marketing—not outside the realm of possibility—my credentials would help sell it.

Because, after 25 years, there are very few promotion situations I haven’t faced. Because I can explain how to sell in plain English. Because when I talk about marketing a product, past results show it is not a bad idea to listen.

Because I am an expert.

As a writer trying to sell books, making yourself an expert is a great way to create brand recognition and a following. (This should go without saying, but I am not suggesting you can tout yourself as an expert with no expertise to back it up.)

Aside from pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing (or Master’s or PhD in another academic discipline), and looking for a university teaching position, there are any number of other options that will make you a person to take seriously about the business or craft of writing, or both.

Given enough experience, you can (like me) become a professional writer/editor. You could teach classes in less formal settings, like trade groups or online. Some people set up workshops or formal critique groups. Still others work in publishing or printing or distribution, lending value in traditional or indie publishing settings.

But beyond expertise in publishing, you can also sell books by becoming an expert in your subject area or genre. Historical fiction authors are great at this, using blogs to write up their research, or writing nonfiction about their time period. But history doesn’t have to be your subject matter.

Chefs sell cookbooks by feeding people great food. Self-help authors sell books by creating workshops that help people. Motivational speakers sell books by pumping people up at appearances.

Everyone seems to sell books by writing blog posts and articles in their subject area.

You can sell books by winning contests, being written up in your local paper, giving lectures at trade shows, or being interviewed on local television.

It takes, they say, 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. By the time you are finished writing a book, are you not an expert in—if nothing else—that book?


Mari ChristieMari Christie is a professional writer, editor, and designer with almost twenty-five years’ experience in marketing and business communications. She holds a BA in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver, summa cum laude, and is a member of the Bluestocking Belles and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Under the pseudonym Mariana Gabrielle, her first Regency romance, Royal Regard, was released in November 2014 and her second, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess will be available in June 2015.

Websites: www.MariChristie.info and  www.MarianaGabrielle.com
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Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace: Road to a Better Mousetrap, Part 1

Cross-posted at www.JudeKnightAuthor.com as part of our new, mutual, ongoing marketing series.


billboard-951520-mSo you’ve written a book. You’ve done all the right things. You’ve learned your craft. The book has been edited, copyedited, proofread. It has a marvelous cover.

Now all you have to do is stick it up on Amazon, and wait to grow rich?

Right?

If only it were that easy.

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail

You need a good book. You need persistence. You need a healthy dose of luck. Above all, you need a plan.

In this post (and the next) in the Bazillion Book Marketplace series, Mari and I are going to talk about what needs to be in a marketing plan for a book. (You might also want a marketing plan for Brand You, but that’s another post.)

To write a plan, you need to know who you want to sell to, what they want to buy, how much they’re prepared to pay, and where they expect to find it. (In marketing parlance, the 4 Ps–Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.)

This week’s post looks at your reader, your book, and your price. Next week, we’ll talk about where books are sold, where they are promoted, and what marketing materials you might need.

Know your reader

Your marketing plan should start with your reader. Can you describe your typical reader? Do you know how old they are? What sort of education they have? What they do when they’re not reading? What other genres they read?

Do you know what they like about the kind of book you write? What they don’t like? What will make them keep reading and what will cause them to shut the book and hurl it across the room?

What are their hobbies, interests, passions?

Where can you meet them (online or in person or both)?

The better you can describe your typical readers, the better you can put yourself (and your book) in front of them.

Know your book

No one knows your book better than you do, right? But can you capture the essence of your book in a couple of compelling sentences that grab that typical reader by the imagination and drag them to the bookstore?

In your marketing plan, describe what about your book will appeal to your reader, then write your compelling description–your story’s tagline (some call it a logline).

Know your price

What do your readers think they should pay for a book like yours? What are they prepared to pay? Do some research. Also think about the best price points to give you a good return. Pricing e-books is a contentious topic, and a post I wrote on this several weeks ago has been the most viewed and commented on more than any I’ve written since I started this blog.

Should you give one or more of your books away free (permanently or for a short period)? Should you put the book on a special price for a limited time? Will pricing low help you sell more books, or will it make them less valued? How does your genre affect your price? (For instance, novels are most often seen in the $2.99 – 3.99 price range, but self-help averages about $7.99.)

Next steps

Knowing who you want to sell to, what they want to buy, and how much they will spend is a good start. In our next post, we’ll talk about putting that knowledge to good use when deciding where and how to promote your book.


10726384_438048036344768_1967130616_nJudy holds a Masters in Communication, and is accredited in public relations through the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand. As a writer and editor for a broad range of government and private-sector organizations, she has applied her clear writing skills to topics as diverse as insurance, climate change, income tax, genetics, finance, local government, and health.

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Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace: How to Non-Market

Originally posted at 10 Minute Novelists. Currently cross-posted at www.JudeKnightAuthor.com as part of our new, mutual, ongoing marketing series.


billboard-951520-mI’ve spent a large part of my career as a commercial writer in my own small business. Small business owners are responsible for everything. I was writer, peer reviewer, company book-keeper, chief executive, project manager, strategic planner, stores manager, cleaner of toilets, sales person and, of course, the big ‘M’ word. The one I feared. Marketing. So I learnt how to promote my business by non-marketing; marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing. Marketing that an introvert like me could do just by being myself.

It was good preparation for being a self-published writer. Again, I am running my own business. And again, I’m out in the world vigorously non-marketing.

Non-marketing is about being present

The first rule of non-marketing is to spend time with people who might want to read your book. Get to know them. Talk to them about the things that interest you. Find out what interests them. Be present.

In traditional non-marketing, writers joined Toastmasters, and Rotary, and the local bowling club. They went to book fairs and gardening clubs; talked at schools and writers’ workshops; went to dinner with agents and editors and book clubs. And we can still do all of those things.

Today, we can also spend time with people all over the world, using the Internet. You don’t have to be everywhere; choose two or more from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, blogging and all the others. Then go and meet people. Be present.

Non-marketing is about being genuine

If you want a friend, the old saying goes, you have to be a friend. The second rule of non-marketing is to offer others a helping hand. One of the things I really love about the romance writing community is the open-hearted, open-handed and genuine approach to helping others.

This isn’t about reciprocal arrangements: like my page and I’ll like yours, review my book and I’ll review yours. It isn’t about sucking up, either. Being genuine means giving because I can, because I know the answer to your question, or have the contact you need, or have a blog and would love you to be my guest.

The flashy insincere marketers might also be helpful, but always there’s an agenda. Sponsorships are often this kind of marketing. The support comes with strings attached, in the form of opportunities to sell their service or product. Sponsored by [insert name of famous soda drink here].

As non-marketers you’ll be helpful because you are genuinely interested. You want to know about the birth of a friend’s grandchild. You celebrate your friend’s acceptance letter from a publisher because you’re genuinely happy for them. You hunt your research database for an obscure fact someone has asked for. You send you a condolence message because someone’s troubles touch your heart.

Non-marketing is about offering a unique experience

If you’re present in a community who love the kind of books you write, one way you can be genuinely helpful is to offer them your book. Not in a ‘buy, buy, buy; me, me, me’ used car salesman way, but gently, as part of the conversation.

Let’s say people are talking about the kinds of protagonist they prefer. You may, if it fits in the conversation, use a description of your own protagonist to illustrate your point. Keep it short. Make it interesting.

It helps to be very clear about what you do that is different, and to have a few lines you can use. If someone asks what I write, I say ‘historical fiction with strong heroines, heroes who can appreciate them, and complex plots full of mystery and suspense’. It’s a tagline I’m working on, and constantly changing, but it’s getting there. My hero Rede is “a man driven by revenge who needs to move beyond his past before he can have a future”.

And there you have it. I’ve used my work to give two illustrations of my point. And I don’t need to belabour it until you’re bored, or sell you something today. Today, we have more important things to talk about, such as how you can turn a friend into a long-term reader.

Non-marketing is about being good at what you do

Insincere marketers rely on lots of noise to keep driving new customers to their product. Non-marketers know that the best customers of all are the ones who love your product so much that they will sell it for you, by telling all their friends.

So write a good book. No. Cancel that. Write the best book you can. And when you’ve finished, write a better one. Never stop learning; never stop improving. Your best marketing tool is your library of successful publications.

Non-marketing is about building long-term relationships

I don’t want readers. Or, at least, I don’t want just readers. I want to make friends who will stay with me for the journey.

Readers, yes. People who find I offer them a reading experience they can’t get from anyone else, so they wait for my next book and pounce on it as soon as it goes on pre-order. People who will contact me and tell me what they like, discuss my characters, adopt my heroes as book boyfriends and my heroines as BFFs, argue about the motivations of my villains, pick up some of my subtle jokes and codes.

And fellow writers. People who will laugh at the things I laugh at, tell stories about their craft that inspire, amuse, or dismay, help me out and accept my help, understand the journey — its costs and its rewards.

Above all, I want friends who care about books and about story telling, and who are happy to talk about them. And the heart of non-marketing is making friends.


10726384_438048036344768_1967130616_nJudy holds a Masters in Communication, and is accredited in public relations through the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand. As a writer and editor for a broad range of government and private-sector organisations, she has applied her clear writing skills to topics as diverse as insurance, climate change, income tax, genetics, finance, local government, and health.

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Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace: Word-of-Mouth

Originally posted at 10 Minute Novelists. Currently cross-posted at www.JudeKnightAuthor.com as part of our new, mutual, ongoing marketing series.


billboard-951520-m“Pick a Little, Talk a Little, Pick a Little, Talk a Little, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep, Talk a Lot, Pick a Little More…”

I date myself with this reference to The Music Man (and finally publicly admit my long-time love of musical theatre), but I find it inexplicably accurate when discussing word-of-mouth marketing.

Most readers will not tell their friends how great you are. Sadly, your book is not their primary topic of conversation. However, word-of-mouth marketing is the best, and least expensive, tool you have.

Always has been. Always will be.

Further, this is the way people make buying decisions now—recommendations from friends and respected experts—which is why social media campaigns sell. Static advertising is no longer effective. (Let me say that again: Advertising no longer works.)

Now, the most effective forms of promotion involve conversation. This means review sites, blogs, co- and cross-promotion with other authors, book clubs, signings, and most important, two concepts with more meaning than you think: “Buzz” and “viral” marketing.

Buzz Marketing, as the name implies, is about people talking about your product. However, its specific meaning in the marketing world moves beyond organic discussion. In marketing parlance, buzz is generated by designing the conversations you want people to have. A great example is drug commercials: “talk to your doctor about [insert medication].” If you think lovers of Gone with the Wind will buy your book, tell them why your hero is like Rhett Butler. If they agree, they will tell friends who also love Southern historical fiction. (If they don’t agree, the strategy will backfire, so design your conversations carefully.)

Viral Marketing, like a cat video shared ten million times on YouTube, is created by giving someone an item to pass along. This might be a video trailer or coupon or a sample book or a rack card, but should always be designed to bring people back to your product. A bookmark is lovely, but without an easy link to a buy site (not just your website), its usefulness is limited. Likewise, a pass-along no one passes along is irrelevant.

To achieve these all-but-magical forms of promotion, back to my third-favorite musical of all time (before you ask, Camelot and My Fair Lady).

Pick a Little

Loglines, elevator speeches, and blurbs aren’t just for the back cover (or pitching an agent) anymore. Today, you are pitching everyone who might be interested, including people you will never meet.

Identify thought leaders: Since customers take their advice from friends and experts, pick your targets carefully. Street teams work because their friends probably have similar tastes and are more likely to listen to a friend’s recommendation than yours. Similarly, if a noted authority (like a bestselling author or well-known reviewer) supports your product, buyers will listen.

Keep it short: Loglines work better than blurbs for verbal and social media exchange. “[Book Title] is about [if you have to take a breath, your conversation is too long].”

Start smart: Choose a limited number of outlets and messages until you know what works, and track your results. Indiscriminate efforts are wasted. Begin small and only escalate what sells.

Create Meaningful Messages: Make much of milestones, like bestseller lists, publication anniversaries, or selling a certain number of copies, because these tidbits are easily shared by loyal fans. Promote great reviews, especially ones by thought leaders.

Talk a Little

Begin with human interaction, not calculated conversation starters. Get to know your audience—and let them get to know you—by joining and participating in:

  • Writers’ groups. While the “author water cooler” is, in some ways, counter-intuitive, authors help each other and classes in craft will never hurt your chances of success. To make this most effective, remember that turnabout is fair play; giving back to the community is imperative, not optional.
  • Social groups related to your interest, online and otherwise, for instance, online research-sharing groups, a gardening society, or a historical reenactment troupe.
  • Relevant associations, like historical preservation societies, religious study groups, or scientific research consortiums.

When you have found a niche or two where you feel comfortable, attend meetings, volunteer, speak up in online forums, and generally make yourself known, not just as an author, but as a contributor. The chance to talk about your book will occur naturally, and your audience will be more receptive.

Cheep (or Rather, Cheap)

Word-of-mouth is the least expensive marketing option. When it begins to move on its own, it costs you nothing, and before it does, most of your outlay is in time, not cash. A couple of ideas to stimulate buzz and viral messaging:

Cheap

Giveaways: Sending an e-copy of your book to a potential reader is a great investment. That said, give away the book or directly related items, not “anything someone might want,” and don’t spend more than your sale is worth. Also, target your giveaway. It makes no sense to give a novel to someone who only reads nonfiction. Copies to reviewers are great, but don’t send a historical romance novel to Suspense Magazine.

Cheap

Sales: Judiciously lowering the price on your book is great way to get word-of mouth moving. If you watch social media, you will see that “This book I loved is only 99ȼ!” is shared far more often than, “I loved this book.” If you combine sales with similar authors, so much the better, because then you are sharing a larger pool of readers interested in your genre.

Talk a Lot

Once you know which conversations to have and with whom, spread them around! Every sentence can’t start with, “My book,” or the pass-along will be “boring and self-centered.” But as you find the balance between normal interaction and sales, you will naturally find opportunities for both.

Pick a Little More

As time goes on, expand your conversation starters, extend your reach to new thought leaders, and find new outlets for your message. But always—always—make sure the words you are putting in other people’s mouths are ones you want repeated.


Mari ChristieMari Christie is a professional writer, editor, and designer with almost twenty-five years’ experience in marketing and business communications. She holds a BA in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver, summa cum laude, and is a member of the Bluestocking Belles and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Under the pseudonym Mariana Gabrielle, her first Regency romance, Royal Regard, was released in November 2014 and her second, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess will be available in June 2015.

Websites: www.MariChristie.info and  www.MarianaGabrielle.com
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Stepping Back: Lady Chatham’s mysterious complaint

“Tell me I may be suddenly different”: Lady Chatham’s mysterious complaint

by Jacqueline Reiter

 

22 March 1807, morning. The tall, elegant Dover Street house of John, 2nd Earl of Chatham has been in turmoil since the previous evening. Maids are scouring the front steps; windows are thrown open on all floors for airing. Inside, servants pull dust-sheets off the elegant furniture, make the beds, and warm the rooms. His Lordship, who is Military Commander of the Eastern District, is not expected back from Colchester until April at the earliest. Something has brought him back to London early.

At noon he arrives, with Mary, Countess of Chatham. Lord Chatham leaves his wife in countess_chathamDover Street and proceeds to Burlington House, the town residence of His Grace the Duke of Portland, nominal head of the followers of Chatham’s brother, the late prime minister William Pitt. Within hours frenzied rumours race across the capital. Soon the rumours are confirmed: Portland heads a new Pittite government, in which the Earl of Chatham is Master-General of the Ordnance.

His and Her Ladyship appear in public as representatives of the new ministry. On 9 April 1807 they are both at a very crowded Drawing-Room at St James’s Palace. On Sunday 19 April Lady Chatham attends Mr Johnstone’s concert, where she listens to a variety of well-sung Italian arias. While Lord Chatham attends Privy Council meetings and takes the oaths in the House of Lords, his wife rubs shoulders with the Prince of Wales at Lady Camden’s rout.

johnhayterlessblurreddetailBut all is far from well in Dover Street. His Lordship stays out late on business; Her Ladyship, “exhausted with London hours & racket”, barely gets to bed before two in the morning.[1] They have always been a close couple, but now they barely see each other, and for the first time in their marriage live in separate apartments.[2]

Chatham’s servants are renowned for their discretion; they will say nothing of what happens behind His Lordship’s polished front door. The gossips have to draw their own conclusions. Are the new lines on Lord Chatham’s face a reflection of his new responsibility, or something deeper-rooted? Are the ill-concealed shadows beneath Lady Chatham’s eyes entirely due to the late hours she keeps? What is going on?


The real answer is known to a tiny, and very select, circle. Apart from the unhappy couple themselves, three people know all that passes in Dover Street: Lady Chatham’s sister, Miss Georgiana Townshend; her physician, Dr Henry Vaughan; and her maid.

In fact Mary Chatham has been in a “low and nervous state” for over a year.[3] Her disorder, whatever it is, translates into a deep dejection of spirits that alternates with episodes of violence and self-harm. While in Colchester with her husband, she could hide it: but now her husband is a cabinet minister again, she must appear in public as though nothing were amiss. Her maid is skilled in applying enough cosmetics to conceal the marks of distress on her face, but no cosmetics in the world can heal the pain in her heart.

Georgiana nurses her sister devotedly, and writes regularly to Dr Vaughan about her sister’s condition. Her helplessness is plain:

“I only wish to state a few particulars … about my poor afflicted Sister. The agitation she labours under, appears to me to be only transferred, tho’ there is not the same violence used as towards me, but she has no controul before my Mother … She certainly by her Letters to me, has no better opinion of herself … The last Letter was the least well written, & saying she still lived too shut up a life feeling unfit for every thing & making herself more unfit by doing so … All the Family think her odd; & her being odd makes others so, & then she says she never shall be well again.”[4]

Mary herself is well aware of the trap she is in. She writes to Georgiana: “I am shocking horrible in mind & Spirits … Keep it to yourself … or rather burn it, tell me I may be suddenly different.”

Mary’s maid keeps Georgiana updated when Georgiana cannot be in Dover Street. Her stories do not make for comfortable reading. “I leave you to judge in what state [my lady] must have been in [sic], before she would attempt to strike me, which her Ladyship actually did on Tuesday at dressing time … she immediately became conscious of what she had done, & … said she could not live in this way … she must put an end to it.”

But Mary has to “live this way”, and, after striking her maid, submits to being dosed up with opiates before being sent out to a public dinner with Lord Chatham.[5]


How long can this go on without Mary’s illness becoming common knowledge? Georgiana “dread[s] her making her case more known”. As for Lord Chatham, he has so much to worry about as it is: Georgiana believes he is in complete denial. “Poor Lord Chatham thought her getting better when she was as ill as ever … alas! There is I fear too much truth in that.”[6]

frognal housePoor Lord Chatham, indeed. John and Mary have been married for nearly twenty-four years: they have stood by each other through everything, and (since they have no children) have no-one but each other. But this is too much for him. John cannot fully devote his attention to his cabinet duties: Mary knows, and this makes her worse. “Doctor Vaughan pressed me much to go away for a time,” John writes to his brother-in-law Lord Sydney, “as he thought it better on many accounts, and particularly that the having kept me so long, from where I ought to have been, is a source of great anxiety to [Mary]”.

So John goes to Colchester to resume his military command, “where I shall be near, in case of any change”. Mary, meanwhile, goes off with Georgiana to Lord Sydney’s house at Frognal, Kent.

“I am myself pretty well,” John concludes his letter to Sydney, bleakly, “but the misery I have suffered in the last fortnight or three weeks, has required all the fortitude I have left, to bear up against.”[7] In the taciturn Chatham’s hands, words like “misery” inflate a hundred times in meaning.

The couple spend the winter apart.


Months pass. Mary remains unwell.

“Lady Chatham is I hope essentially better, but far from well yet,” John writes in May 1808. “This has been a year of sad distress”.[8] The strain of trying to appear normal is taking its toll, and John starts to wonder if he will ever get his wife back again.

The Chathams continue to spend much of their time apart. “I have not seen Lady Chatham for some time,” John tells his banker, Thomas Coutts, in November, “but form her letters I hope she is rather better than she was, tho’ her amendment, I am sorry to say, has been very slow”.[9]

Thankfully the new year of 1809 brings a significant change. Mary’s spirits rise, and her violent episodes decrease. Her symptoms have always been patchy, but now she goes through weeks at a time without episodes of black despair. She no longer talks of suicide, and begins to emerge in public once more – thin and pale, but recognisably her old self.

What was wrong with Mary? We’ll never know. Perhaps it does not matter. Two things, however, are obvious. The first is the remarkable fact that, despite two years of mental illness and lengthy periods apart, John and Mary manage to keep their marriage going. The second is that, as loving as they remain, the basis of their relationship has changed. Once they shared all burdens; now John finds himself keeping bad news from her, making decisions alone, and, in his own words, “mak[ing] every thing appear to the best”.[10]

Still, John – a congenital pessimist – dares to hope his luck may be on the turn. His wife’s illness has forced him to pass up several civilian and military appointments over the past two years; but he remains in the Cabinet, and there are military opportunities opening on the continent. Perhaps 1809 will be the year for him to re-establish himself on the public scene. Perhaps 1809 will bring him and Mary good fortune.

Thank goodness Lord Chatham cannot see into the future, for he could not be more wrong.


References

[1] Mrs Mary Townshend to Lord Sydney, [10 October 1807], Sydney papers Box 16, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan; [Georgiana Townshend] to Dr Vaughan [later Sir Henry Halford], 14 April [1807], Halford MSS Leicestershire RO DG24/819/2

[2] [Georgiana Townshend] to Dr Vaughan, 14 April 1807, Halford MSS Leicestershire RO DG24/819/1

[3] Chatham’s words from a later recurrence of Lady Chatham’s illness, to the Bishop of Lincoln, 17 March 1818, Ipswich RO Pretyman MSS HA 119/T108/24/7

[4] [Georgiana Townshend] to Dr Vaughan, 14 April 1807, Halford MSS Leicestershire RO DG24/819/1

[5] Reported in [Georgiana Townshend] to Dr Vaughan [later Sir Henry Halford], 14 April [1807], Halford MSS Leicestershire RO DG24/819/2

[6] [Georgiana Townshend] to Dr Vaughan, 14 April 1807, Halford MSS Leicestershire RO DG24/819/1

[7] Chatham to Lord Sydney, 27 October 1807, Sydney papers Box 16, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

[8] Chatham to Mrs Catherine Stapleton, 11 May 1808, National Army Museum Combermere MSS 9506-61-3

[9] Chatham to Thomas Coutts, 23 November 1808, Kent RO Stanhope MSS U1590/S5/C42

[10] Chatham to Mrs Catherine Stapleton, 2 December 1810, National Army Museum Combermere MSS 8408-114


11139464_10101236064424150_849280726_n Jacqueline Reiter has a Phd in 18th century political history. She is currently working on the first ever biography of John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, due to be released by Pen & Sword Books in September 2016. When she finds time she blogs about her historical discoveries at http://alwayswantedtobeareiter.wordpress.com/, and can be found on Twitter as https://twitter.com/latelordchatham.

Marketing in the Bazillion-Book Marketplace (Re: Good Writing)

In response to E.Ayers on a thread on the Exquisite Thrills Yahoo Group, discussing poor quality writing and editing in published books:


billboard-951520-mI have been writing, editing, and designing for a living for 20+ years, not in big publishing or fiction, but rather small-ish periodicals, corporate work, and academia. I have a summa BA degree in Writing, with a minor in Creative Writing (non-fiction), have taught and trained grammar and structure, and have probably authored and/or edited at least one of every kind of composition that exists English, from an epic poem to a three-inch thick technical proposal.

The editing problem, as I see it, is this:

When I started in small pubs in the early 90s, traditional publishing was still a fat industry. There was a place for new authors to come up, strong, smart editorial departments that had enough internal support and financial liquidity to take creative risks, enough staff to ensure high quality, and enough clout—as an industry—to attract high-quality English majors coming out of college and train them to become superlative publishing professionals (editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, cover designers, marketers, agents, buyers, etc.).

Over the past twenty years or so, Big Pub has gone the same way as every industry that becomes more profit-driven (an — perhaps the — intrinsic feature of capitalism).

The amazingly good people who were trained to be part of the “honorable book trade” were downsized; younger, less experienced people were hired for less money, but without the mentoring structure that had always existed to teach important skills. Budgets were pared in all areas, from staffing to paper quality to font sizes to “risky” projects (which had fewer advocates on staff anyway). Authors were weaned off the marketing budget, publishers requiring them to take responsibility for more and more every year, until now, the marketing budget is only used for low-risk authors, meaning ones who earn the company money before they even start writing. Everyone else? Buy your own bookmarks. Do you have a Facebook page yet?

To your original point, as the traditional industry falls in on itself and the e-marketplace advances, many, many small presses and indies have popped up to pick up where Big Pub left off. However, there are only so many of those downsized professionals who can/will work for what a small press pays and only so much capital available for indie ventures. Further, the training structure and professional standards that once were integral to the industry have not been replicated in the indie world yet (and may never be).

Getting a 4.0 in English is not the same as being a book editor, copyeditor, or proofreader — or an author. There is a dearth of professional depth in the book trade; a low barrier to entry into publishing; a massive, industry-wide misuse of author time (and money), now spent on tasks other professionals and publishers used to do; and a surplus of people who “always wanted to write a novel” and “got good grades in English.”

The untrained beta reader has become a substitute for an editor with two degrees, ten years of on-the-job training, and a meaningful understanding of all levels of the book trade. The neighbor’s sister’s friend is proofreading books to subsidize beer money, rather than someone who has been correcting galleys for twenty years and can quote ten different stylebooks on request. Marketing is piecemeal on a proliferation of social media sites, rather than being handled by in-house teams who have been maximizing book sales for decades. And to be clear, these professionals may not be available with a contract at the Big 5 anymore, either.

No one wants to be the person pining for “the good old days” (because how old does that make me?), and in some ways, the industry and authors have benefited from these changes in the marketplace. Not least, it is brilliant so many more writers can now be heard and are so much better compensated by royalty. But the past twenty years have not been kind to publishers or authors, and on the whole, the “improvements” are not improving the quality of what we read.

Next up, what to do about it.

(Don’t hold your breath for that installment.)