I have some amazing friends and when we get together, we can talk Ad Nauseam about everything from men to annoying family members to sports to current events (not that often, admittedly) to pop culture and more. But since most of my friends are not writers, I try to keep my “author talk” to a minimum to avoid observing their eyes roll to the back of their heads. That’s one of the many reasons I adore having writing buddies. Recently, I had a virtual sit-down with two of my author besties, Francine LaSala (The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything) and Samantha Stroh Bailey (Finding Lucas) to talk about marketing books, indie style. So, today I’ll share a snippet of that conversation. As always, it was peppered with spunk since we’re such spunky chicks!
Francine: So you guys know about this big book birthday blog tour bash going on this week, right?
Meredith (smirks): Birthday bash? Whatever do you mean?
Sam (cocks head, playfully): Uh, no. Please tell us more.
Francine (winks): Well, The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything is turning 1 this week, so it’s going on sale for 99 cents for one week only. While it’s on sale, I’ll be visiting different blogs for interviews, guest posts, that kind of thing. But I’m not the only one with something going on this week. Am I, Meri?
Meredith: Well, now that you mention it, I am doing a blog tour the next couple of weeks to promote Blogger Girl which is about, you guessed it, a book blogger. During the three week tour, reviews of Blogger Girl will be posted on some awesome blogs, along with guest posts and interviews. Insert shameless self-promotion here: Blogger Girl will be on tour with CLP Blog Tours from 11/4-25.
Francine: Oh, did I forget the dates (and the shameless self-promotion) for mine? Sorry! My sale started 11/1 and goes through Thursday 11/7… Which reminds me… Sam? Don’t you have something to share?
Sam (laughs): Well, as you both know, I love promoting with other authors, and I’ve done quite a few group promotions. Along with the two of you, co-founding BookBuzz has probably been the most exciting. Creating an interactive author/reader event where everyone can meet and mingle, have a drink and chat about writing and books is such a fantastic way to both market and reach out to readers. And timing is everything, right? Because there will be a BookBuzz in Toronto on Thursday night, November 7, at The Crest at 794 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, from 7pm to 9pm. Here’s the website for all of the info! http://bookbuzz2013.wordpress.com/. I had the great pleasure of organizing this one with author Lydia Laceby and blogger Kaley Stewart.
Francine: Ooooh, sounds like fun! I’d love to be there!
Meredith (rolls eyes and smiles): You are going to be there. And me, too.
Francine (grins stupidly): Right.
Sam (beams): It’s going to be great! I hope we get to do more of these. Such a fun way to get “out there” with our books and touch readers.
Meredith: I know, Sam. It’s so fun! So what are some of the other ways you guys have been able to get “out there” with your books – and what are the challenges you’re facing? For me, with so many quality and affordable books available, I find getting people to click on my books to be extremely challenging. I make a lot of effort to get my books in the spotlight, but I do find that a large population of chick lit readers are still more likely to pay for a big name than to give indie authors, meaning both authors who self-publish as well as those who are published by small, independent presses, a chance, even at a lower price.
Sam: You’re right, Meri. I think marketing is challenging for any author, be they traditionally or indie published. For me, the hardest part was navigating social media. I didn’t even have a Facebook page until I published Finding Lucas! Learning how to use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, well, Pinterest is still a mystery to me, has been both incredible and scary. But, now that I’m using them, I find that I’m quite addicted. I also think it’s hard to gain exposure, but the reader/blogger/author community is so supportive, and I’m grateful to them.
Meredith: You can say that again. During the pre-release of Blogger Girl, I celebrated all things “blogging” by inviting guest bloggers to post on my website for a month long celebration. As a result, there was already a lot of buzz about the book by the time it was officially launched. Additionally, while I always offer free copies of my books to bloggers in exchange for reviews, as well as participate in an organized blog tour, the blogging angle also helped get my foot in the door with popular beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers, who also agreed to promote Blogger Girl on their websites. Regardless of what avenue of publishing an author takes, marketing is pivotal.
All at once: Thank God for bloggers!
Francine: I’m not sure being “indie” is the big challenge for me. Even if I had a huge marketing budget and push behind me, I do find getting the word out about my books to be an awkward, embarrassing situation. Silly, I know, but I have a tendency to be shy. To be a “behind-the-scenes” kind of person. Which is why I enjoy writing. Marketing puts you right in the spotlight. And I’m old. Bright light is not as flattering as it may have once been. 🙂
Sam: Old? You’re only two years older than me! There are definitely so many more options for marketing now than ever before.
Meredith: Creativity is key.
Francine: Absolutely. As you guys know, I am a book publishing veteran, and I can tell you it’s amazing how formulaic print book marketing can be. This is because in traditional print publishing, if a book doesn’t take off right out of the gate, the remainder table is the fate! With ebooks, a book takes off when it does. There isn’t the same pressure to move those units quickly to make room in the warehouse for next season’s titles. The great thing is that an ebook can take time to grow. To that effect, I can “re-launch” The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything with this big birthday bash. I’m hoping this push will bring me more readers, more reviews, and also start building momentum for the books I plan to publish next year. I still feel like such a babe in the woods over all of this, though.
Meredith: We learn as we go. If I can give any new author starting out advice on how to launch an indie book, I’d say start getting reviews of your book as early as possible. With my first two novels, I didn’t start reaching out to bloggers for reviews until right before the book was being released. With Blogger Girl, I sent out ARCs over a month before the official launch and so by the time the book was published, I already had several reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It really made a difference as far as sales right out of the gate. I also urge you not to be stingy with offering free books. In addition to book bloggers, offer free copies of your book to readers in your target audience in exchange for a review. From my experience, readers are honored to be asked and if they like your book, they are extremely vocal about recommending it to their friends.
Francine: I agree. I also think that quality is key. It’s so important not to cheap out on your cover design or blurb. People can spot “homemade” a mile away. While that kind of thing can be charming for Pinterest, you want your book to be full-on-pro if you want readers to take you seriously. Also: Have your book edited. It’s heart-breaking to read bad reviews of books that are criticized not for plot points or characters, but for being sloppy. If you want to market your product as a quality product, produce a quality product!
Sam: Absolutely! Publishing a book is expensive, no doubt. But if being a professional author is what you really want to do, it is crucial to have the best book you can on the market. Hiring a professional editor, cover designer and formatter, if you need one, are some ways to create the most professional product. Here’s where I can do a bit of a shameless promo plug…
Francine: Thanks for taking one for the team, Sam!
Sam: By doing team edits on clients’ manuscripts, Francine and I have found it’s been fantastic to have more than one set of eyes on a story. I love working with you…
Francine: And I, you!
Sam: And it gives me great pleasure when we hand over the final product and our authors are so happy with our work.
Francine: Don’t forget that Meredith also does manuscript evaluations that are incredibly spot on.
Sam: So true. Her thorough and eagle-eyed beta read on my new novel really helped so much.
Meredith: Aw, thanks.
Francine: Seriously. Not blowing sunshine up your butt, Meri. When I read your reviews, I’m amazed at how much insight you have into the books you read–how much you care.
[Virtual group hug.]
Sam: Speaking of caring, I have to say the writer support groups I’ve found in the virtual world have changed my life. My friends and family are very proud of me, but it can be boring to listen to me prattle on about plot lines, sales, and promotions. Talking to and working with other authors who know exactly what my day is like has meant the world to me.
Meredith: Like right now!
Francine: True, dat. While we are all doing this to promote our various efforts, I have learned so much just speaking with you guys today.
Sam: I’ve learned I want to use “True, dat” in a sentence. But seriously, I hope we’ve been able to share more with readers than just the details of our various promotions.
Francine: Do you think the readers remember? Let’s remind them again!
For information on the Birthday Bash for The Girl the Gold Tooth & Everything, please click here.
For more information about the blog tour for Blogger Girl, click here.
For more information about BookBuzz Toronto, click here.
Meredith: See you guys next week at BookBuzz!
Francine: Looking forward to it!
Sam: I can’t wait to welcome you both to my city!
Connect with Francine, Samantha, and me by clicking on the links below. Have a great day, everyone!
Find Francine LaSala online:
Creative Services website: https://francinelasalaproductions.wordpress.com/
Author website: www.francinelasala.com
The “Joy Jar” Project: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318621974904272/
Buy The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything JUST 99 CENTS THIS WEEK!: viewBook.at/B009NF9VQ2
Buy Rita Hayworth’s Shoes: viewBook.at/B007ZHVB1I
Find Meredith Schorr online:
Buy Blogger Girl:
Find Samantha Stroh Bailey online:
Business website: http://perfectpencommunications.com/
Buy Finding Lucas