~by Megan Litwin
Hello! Thank you to 24 Carrot Writing for hosting me here as I share the cover of my debut picture book, Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Night! I am absolutely over the moon about the cover art by Nneka Myers. I love the dreamy color palette, and the way Nneka captures the peaceful beauty of the winter world…yet with a hint of festive sparkle in the distance. I can’t wait for the rest of her brilliant work to be seen!
And now that the cover is out, I’ve been thinking…
It is ironic that a finished book cover is the result of months or years of work, because at the same time, it also represents a new beginning…the beginning of this last stretch until the book is out in the world. And the “Six-Month Stretch” (as I’ve begun calling it) brings new work to light.
There is a lot of talk about all the things an author can do to promote a book pre-launch, and to be honest, it can be pretty overwhelming. So I’m taking the advice of veteran writer friends who have shared some wisdom about how to use this time. The underlying theme is “do what feels right to you.” I’m going to couple that with one of my own favorite mantras: “keep it simple.” And in the spirit of 24 Carrot Writing’s goal-setting mission, I have formed a plan.
Here are the five main things I’m going to focus on in my “Six Month Stretch”:
Thank you, 24 Carrot readers and writers, for sharing this exciting moment with me!
Shimmer, glimmer, glowing light.
Twinkle, twinkle, winter night.
Celebrate winter with this magical twist on a beloved nursery rhyme that brings
the shimmering season of lights to life.
To learn more about Megan or to subscribe to her newsletter, visit her online at www.meganlitwinbooks.com.
To learn more about Nneka Myers and her art, visit her online at www.nnekamyers.com.
By Kelly Carey
If you are reading this blog, then you already know the benefits of perusing great blogs as a reader, but blogs can also be a tremendous help when you are trying to market your book. Two of my writing friends are launching amazing books soon and they asked me for advice on setting up a blog tour. I’m going to share that advice with you too!
Don’t have a book contract yet? That’s okay. Read the tips and advice and learn how you can position yourself now to be ready to send your book out on an amazing blog tour when you do have a publishing date!
#1 Your KidLit Community Is Flush with Wonderful Bloggers
The authentic time and energy you have put into building your KidLit community likely means you know a few KidLit bloggers. Have you met authors at conferences who have blogs? Have you met bloggers at book signings? At retreats? Those relationships are the best place to start when deciding to reach out to bloggers for spots. Your KidLit friends are going to be excited about your upcoming success and if they have a blog, they will be happy to boost your news on their site.
Don’t have any blogging contacts? Don’t worry, it’s okay. Ask your critique partners if they have any connections. Reach out to the relationships you have in the KidLit community and ask if anyone could introduce you to bloggers they know.
For those of you who are pre-published, work on building relationships now so that you will have a long and comfortable list of bloggers ready to trumpet out news of your debut!
#2 Offer Relevant Content to the Blog
If you are asking for space on a blog, you need to honor the theme, format, and audience of the blog. The blogs that will host you are those that see you offering good content. Make sure you have read the blog and that you have a clear idea of how you and your book fit the blog’s structure and how you and your book could be featured.
For example, does the blog routinely run interviews with debut authors, like Lindsay Ward’s CritterLit blog? Offer an interview. Does the blog feature authors with a unique hook, like Nancy Tupper Ling’s Author Acrostic blogs? Offer to write a poem. If, like 24 Carrot Writing, the blog offers tips and advice to writers, offer to write a helpful post on a relevant topic as Cathy Ballou Mealy did for 24 Carrot Writing here.
Know how the blog handles guest authors, debut books, and cover reveals and be specific in your request. A straight ask to “please review my book,” is not the best method. Leave that type of request to the publicist at your publishing house. At 24 Carrot we never review books on request. That’s not our format.
The best way to know how you can fit into a particular blog is to be a regular subscriber of the blogs you love and might want to see yourself on someday. If you are pre-published, be a patron of your favorite blogs. Comment, retweet and repost your dream blogs and you’ll be ready to fit into their format when the time comes.
#3 Be an Easy Guest
Many bloggers are busy wearing multiple hats and love finding guest bloggers who provide everything needed to assemble a great guest spot.
Make sure your request to be featured on the blog is easy.
In your initial email offer up the following:
Once you have a spot make sure you:
Even if the blogger hasn’t asked for these things, make it easy for them to pop this information into a post. If you have provided it and it is readily available, chances are you’ll see it in the post.
#4 Timing Can be Flexible
If you are setting up a blog tour for your launch, you’ll want blogs to post ideally the month prior to your launch and the month of your launch. This will create that wonderful buzz you want to generate and hopefully drive preorders as well as post launch purchases. Many blogs schedule their posts three to six months out, so it’s a good idea to start asking for spots four to seven months before your launch month.
Worried you’re too late? You’re not. Bloggers are always looking for great content and sometimes have spots in their schedule to fill. They might love a last-minute booking. And remember, if the only spots left are months after your launch, a post at any time can still help readers find your book. Suggest a date tied to the theme of your book, even if it is a year after your launch, it will still help readers find your book.
#5 Don’t Rely Just on the Publicists at Your Publishing House
The publicists at your publishing house will reach out to bloggers and reviewers on your behalf. But publicists are busy folks and if you have personal contacts, they will be happy that you reached out. If your publicist sees you working hard to promote your book, they will be happy to work hard alongside you.
Your publicity team is never going to be upset if you have already secured spots on blogs - go for it!
#6 Don’t Worry About Over Saturation
Marketing stats say a person will need to encounter your book 7-10 times before they decide to purchase it. That means they need to hear a friend talk about it, see it on social media, read about it in a blog, and/or spot it in a bookstore a handful of times before a purchase might be made.
Every blog about your book is a chance for a reader to find and hopefully purchase your book. Every blog gives you a reason to repost and retweet things on social media that will keep your book news buzzing.
Remember, not every reader will see every blog you appear on. You want to maximize your visibility. When it comes to a blog tour, you want lots of venues.
#7 Asking for Group Spots
If you are in a Marketing Group that’s wonderful! If you are not check out this post about the benefits of group marketing and how to find a group here.
I reached out to bloggers that I knew for my Soaring 20s Picture Book marketing group, and I have to say, asking on behalf of others was a bit easier than asking just for myself. Other members of our group did the same. Many bloggers, offered to let members of our group contact them individually while others opted to host us as a group. Either way, we were grateful for the opportunity. Make sure you take advantage of these offers when they come your way.
All of these tips are made easier if you are already a follower of the blog. While you are awaiting your first or next contract, spend time connecting with the KidLit community and be a regular reader of your favorite blogs.
When you ask them to support your marketing efforts, you will be glad you did!
~By Amanda Smith and Kelly Carey
Over the last year, you might have noticed some smart, funny, poignant author acrostics popping up on your social media feeds. These inventive introductions are brought to you by author Nancy Tupper Ling. 24 Carrot Writing talked to her about the intersection of author promotion and poetry and the importance of supporting fellow writers.
Tell us about your author acrostic project and how it got started?
Several months into the pandemic, I decided it would be fun to include some author interviews on my blog. But how to make them a little bit different? I wanted something playful, visual, and easy-to-read when people were flipping through social media. Why not an acrostic of their name? Soon I added a brief bio and the covers of my guest’s books. In the last few months, I’ve made all of the acrostics into a flipbook, thanks to my web designer, Eric Dubois. Feel free to flip through: https://www.nancytupperling.com/author-acrostics/
What is your connection to poetry that spurred your decision to solicit acrostic poems?
Funny you should ask. There was a time when I swore I would never be a poet like my mom, Jean Tupper. That was “her thing” and I wanted to write short stories instead. Well, that didn’t last. In college I began to submit my fledgling poems to various journals. Gradually, after many revisions, a poem or two was accepted, and then more. Winning the Writer’s Digest Grand Prize definitely helped my confidence as a writer. What I love about poetry is how something as small as a haiku or as long as a sonnet can be so power-packed. This is true with “Author Acrostics” as well. I hope readers learn so much about each writer—their soul, their essence, in a tiny space.
Why do you think it is important to promote your fellow authors?
The road is long and we’re all still learning, even after we’ve been published. Certainly, the pandemic reminded us that even if we might think that we prefer a solitary writer’s life, we still need one another for encouragement and growth. The journey is most valuable when we can be generous with our talent and our art.
What do you hope to accomplish with your acrostic project?
Honestly, I don’t know if I thought about this in the beginning, but what I have come to love most about spotlighting an author is the responses I get about their books. Either people learn about books they had no idea about, or they are reminded how much they loved a particular one, and they go back and reread it. It’s the librarian in me who wants to find the perfect read for the readers out there.
What is next for you?
My next book is a children’s anthology with my co-author, June Cotner, called For Every Little Thing: Poems and Prayers to Celebrate the Day (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). Arranged from waking up to falling asleep, this collection is all about finding gratitude in each day and its delights.
Kelly and Annie are both author acrostic participants, and this week 24 Carrot Writing is thrilled to be featured. Thank you for inviting us, Nancy!
Nancy Tupper Ling surrounds herself with books. She is an award-winning children’s author, poet, book seller, and librarian, who has great fun teaching poetry to all ages. Her picture books have received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and her next anthology entitled For Every Little Thing (Eerdmans Publishing) is due out in September 2021.
Titles of Picture Books:
My Sister, Alicia May (Pleasant St Press)
Double Happiness (Chronicle Books)
The Story I’ll Tell (Lee and Low Books)
The Yin-Yang Sisters and the Dragon Frightful (Putnam Young Readers)
For Every Little Thing (Eerdmans Publishing in September)
Kelly Carey presents a guest interview with Jordan Standridge, Marketing Associate, Charlesbridge Publishing
Prior to the release of my debut picture book, many colleagues had warned me that the marketing work for my book would fall squarely and heavily on my shoulders. That was a bit terrifying! I was new to this rodeo and the marketing bulls were rippling with scary muscles and fuming with bad smoky breath. I dove into research, determined to be a marketing bronco buster, and then along came Jordan Standridge, Marketing Associate at Charlesbridge Publishing. And suddenly, I was no longer alone.
I have been incredibly relieved to find that Jordan has proved to be both a partner and champion in marketing my book – which is really our book! I’ve invited Jordan to join us for 24 Carrot Writing’s July Marketing Month to explain how authors can help market their book, what they can expect from their publishing house, and how to have a good marketing partnership with your publisher.
Thanks for joining us Jordan!
First, can you explain your role at Charlesbridge and how you interact with authors, booksellers, and influencers and …. well, who else do you work with?
Thanks for having me, Kelly! It’s been such a pleasure working with you on How Long is Forever?.
As the Marketing Associate for Charlesbridge, I work closely with authors. So really, anything that falls under that umbrella: I’m in touch with indie bookstores across the country, and help get events set up; I submit authors and their books for festivals, if timing and fit are there, and organize the planning leading up to it; I reach out to various outlets/influencers for publicity opportunities, and mailing out advance/complimentary copies; I pitch upcoming books at bookseller regionals/conferences, too! Basically, if you’re an author with book releasing with us, we’re going to be working together.
Many debut authors don’t know where to begin in marketing their book. What are some essential first steps debut authors should take in preparing for a book release?
As much as I am going to help get your book out there in the world, it’s so helpful to have an author to work with that is willing to put in the work, right there with me. So how can a debut author be a partner to market their book?
The more we have worked together, the braver I’ve become in asking for marketing help. For example, I came up with some classroom activity ideas to go along with the book, but I couldn’t make them look professional. I reached out to you, and the Charlesbridge team designed a spiffy looking activity guide to accompany the book. I’ve also reached out to ask if Charlesbridge would supply books for giveaway campaigns – you did! What sort of support should authors feel comfortable asking for? What support do publishers want to give? And what makes the marketing partnership between an author and publisher work?
I think the most successful marketing partnership between author and publisher is when it can be a more collaborative experience. If you, the author, have relevant kid lit/book subject contacts that would help promote the book, tell us — we’d send out copies. Are you already tight with certain bookstores, and have the event coordinators’ contact info? Pass that along. And yeah, you had an idea for a tie-in activity guide that you would then be able to use at all your events. The publisher sees the value in that material, so of course we helped bring it to life! If you have a reasonable ask, that would help sell copies of the book, the publisher will try to help make it happen.
I’ve been thrilled that you have reached out to bookstores to find me virtual gigs. What helps you get an invitation for an author? What can an author do to help?
Those essential first steps I mentioned earlier are the building blocks for this question, too.
Kelly, you’ve been not only willing, but excited, to help promote your book! Do you remember our early conversations around author events (pre-Covid-19), and you essentially said "I’ll drive to any bookstore events you set up in MA and the states that touch it." Haha. That’s dedication. I knew then that you would be awesome to work with. While I don’t expect that level of determination, I admire the spirit, and it was nice to know you gave me the green light to really go for it. When events were starting to go virtual, you adapted, and even learned all of the various platforms that bookstores threw our way. You also worked on your presentation (you had a couple, depending on what the situation called for), even offering a meaningful and easy craft kids at home could make, so it definitely made my job easier.
When you’re a debut, bookstores don’t have a backlist/sales to consider when making event decisions. However, if you’re putting in the extra work, I can better attempt to paint a picture in an event coordinator’s mind on what an event with this author will look like, what we can offer, and how that would be a draw for their community’s families. So, in short, be willing to open up your schedule and prepare!
Guest post by Author Carrie Finison
Please join me in my DeLorean as we travel back in time…
On June 7, 2019, I woke up with BIG plans for the day. My 8th grader would be graduating from middle school on June 11. My 4th grader would be in school for only another week after that. Mama had a mile-long to-do list to accomplish before the busy, distracting days of summer arrived!
But a brief Twitter check stopped me in my tracks. #NationalDoughnutDay was trending. How could I, author of a soon-to-be-released picture book entitled DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, have forgotten about this important national holiday? As I scanned through the tweets in my feed, one thing became clear. People like to talk about doughnuts. A LOT! It was a festive atmosphere and I wanted to jump in with both feet.
At that point, I had officially been on Twitter for six years, since 2013, but I rarely used it. I had joined only to participate in pitch contests when I was seeking an agent. I didn’t spend much time tweeting and didn’t have a large following. But one of my goals in advance of my July 2020 book release was to grow my connections on Twitter. And I wanted to do so in a genuine way, not by participating in many of the “follow fests” that I saw happening. Without knowing the words for it at the time, I was seeking “audience engagement” rather than numbers.
Normally, I’m a planner. I second-, third-, and fourth-guess most of the things I do. But right then, I needed to get two kids to school and get on with my day. With no time to play guessing games, I posted the following:
Then I packed up the kids and left the house.
I’m not sure what I expected. Maybe some fun pictures of doughnuts to fill my news feed? Maybe a few more followers? I was pretty surprised when I came home, checked Twitter, and found over a dozen responses to my tweet. As I started responding to them, more responses came. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to share their favorite doughnut.
I tossed my plans – whatever they were – aside and spent most of the morning on Twitter. At some point, I realized my plan to offer a critique needed some parameters, and posted a quick update:
Responses slowly tapered into the next day, as Twitter moved on from #NationalDoughnutDay. When the dust settled, I took a peek at Twitter Analytics (something I’d only just discovered) and found that, in the short timeframe of the giveaway, I had gained over 120 new followers and my tweets had earned a total of about 29,000 impressions. Maybe that’s not a lot for some people, but at the time for me, that meant a 10% jump in my followers. And, most importantly (to me) these were followers who genuinely wanted to engage with me, and who might later be interested in reading my book.
So what were my takeaways? There were some practical things I learned. Keeping track of a lot of responses all at once is tough. The logistics of doing a fair drawing from retweets can be a little complicated. Tweeting on a hashtag that’s already trending (#NationalDoughnutDay) can greatly boost your visibility. But, just as with making a delicious batch of doughnuts, some of the intangible lessons were more important:
1.Don’t rush the doughnuts! Engagement takes time.
You want followers who are interested in you and want to engage, and that means you need to take the time to reciprocate. Offer something of value and people will respond - and that doesn’t necessarily mean monetary value like a critique or a book. I think people had fun that day and valued the interaction as much as (if not more than) the chance at a critique.
2.Just add sprinkles! It’s more fun when you have fun.
This particular giveaway didn’t feel like “work” or a drain on my time because I was engaging with people over a topic we all loved – doughnuts!
3.Don’t overmix your batter! Don’t overthink it.
Probably a life lesson for me, but I’m not sure this would have gone as well as it did, if I had spent time planning it in advance. For good or bad, Twitter is a very spontaneous medium and that can work to your advantage.
Just to quickly illustrate an example of #3, let’s jump back in the DeLorean and zoom forward to 2020. This year, I planned a big preorder giveaway for DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS, scheduled to launch on National Doughnut Day – June 5. However, when the day came we were in the midst of major social upheaval and protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and…well, it didn’t feel like a good moment for self promotion or talk of something frivolous like doughnuts. So, just as spontaneously as I had jumped into the National Doughnut Day celebrations in 2019, I pulled out of them in 2020, and waited for a different moment to announce my giveaway.
Twitter can keep you on your toes, for sure, but keeping things spontaneous and real will help you grow your audience in a genuine way – and have fun while you’re doing it!
July is Marketing Month at 24 Carrot Writing! We are looking forward to a month filled with marketing topics from critique giveaway tips to virtual launches to marketing insights from a publisher's viewpoint. So get ready for an explosion of fabulous marketing posts starting later this week!
by Kelly Carey
Is your writing journey ready for our new virtual environment? Is your social media presence ready to be an asset to your writing?
If you’ve been timid about social media in the past, our new environment is the perfect moment to rethink.
We can’t meet in person and those wonderful connections you could make at workshops, conferences and book events are either no longer an option or they’ve all gone online. It’s time to pivot and create those connections virtually. That means you need to build a strong social media game.
Even when we are back to face-to-face days, your writing career will benefit if your social media community is full and rich.
But are you stuck in a cycle of social media excuses that are holding you back? Let’s see.
Excuse #1: Social Media Is A Time Suck
Everything can be a time suck and a distraction from your writing goals IF you allow things to obliterate your focus. Setting an egg timer allowance of 15 to 30 minutes a day or a week can help remedy this excuse and I would argue you may actually find time saving and valuable information on social media.
In that short 30 minutes spent on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram you may find the #MSWL tweet from an agent looking for your exact book! Score! You may happen across a Facebook post about a revision workshop that is just what your middle grade novel needs. Win! You may see a Publisher’s Weekly article that a fellow author posted and it will make you more knowledgeable and aware of current industry buzz. Excellent!
You can use your goals and focus your social media efforts so they are productive.
Excuse #2: Connections On Social Media Are Fake
Connections on social media are fake if you are being fake. Be your authentic self on social media and you will find real connections. I would argue that social media gives you the opportunity to make connections you might never have made if geographic proximity and chance were required.
If I read a book that I love, I tweet out praise and tag the author and/or illustrator and publisher. Almost 100% of the time one or all tweet back. There was NOTHING fake about my original tweet. It was genuinely motivated by my appreciation for a book. That is real. Social media gave me the mechanism to share my kind words directly with an author who I might never meet in person.
If I come across a great article, interview or blog post and I repost it on Facebook, my fellow writing colleagues may appreciate the opportunity to see it. If I tag the author of the piece and thank them for their efforts there is NOTHING fake about my respect for the article, interview or blog post. If you go through the effort of putting something out to the internet universe, it’s nice when someone notices. I think the authors and blog owners that see me repost their work alongside kind words appreciate that I do that. Almost 100% of the time I get a response. And now we are connected.
Be authentic and your social media connections will be real.
Excuse #3: Connections on Social Media Are Shallow
This is a situation of you get out what you are willing to put in. Granted, nothing can really replace the kismet meeting at a book launch that sparks a spontaneous conversation where you discover that you both had a childhood cat named Rex. BUT you can make connections that are deeper than ankle height. They will require effort and energy, just like any relationship.
If you are a passive social media user who just lurks around the platforms and hits like or clicks a heart if you see something that you agree with or love, then yes, your connections will be shallow. Those options are like waving across the room to a colleague but refusing to walk over and shake someone’s hand. You need to shake hands and offer a bit of conversation. You cannot just wave. Instead of hitting like or punching hearts, make a comment. That comment shows effort and moves you into the realm of active participant. Be that person.
If you engage in a meaningful way, your connections will be meaningful.
Excuse #4: I Stink at Technology
Me too! Just ask my kids. But you are a brave creative individual who puts manuscripts in front of critique groups. You can wade into Twitter and/or Facebook. Start small. As we suggest with all goals, make your technology goals manageable. We would never set a goal of writing three novels in one week, so why set a scary social media objective? Decide that you are going to set up a Twitter account and commit to 15 minutes of Twitter time a day and one tweet a week. You can do that. Want to get better at using Twitter? Add in a goal of watching a Twitter tutorial online.
Here’s the good news. While you are learning and figuring things out and making mistakes, like sending out a tweet with misspellings or forgetting to tag the author whose book you are gushing about, you will barely have any followers! So who is really going to see it anyway? In the beginning the only folks who see your tweet will probably be your crit group and your best friend! You’ll have time to hone your skills before a crowd is watching.
You will only master technology if you take steps to improve your skills.
Excuse #5: I Can Wait Until I Have a Book to Promote
No you cannot! Well before you have a book to promote and NEED your social media community you must put in the time to build the community and contribute to it.
I launched my debut book last month – in the middle of a pandemic that shut down everything! If I didn’t have social media, how would anyone have seen my book? The only reason I have followers on social media is because I posted and tweeted and tagged for years leading up to my book launch. The result was an online community ready to help boost news of my book because I had boosted their book news, retweeted their blog articles, and been a full participant in the social media community.
Even without the confines of the pandemic, my social media community puts my book news in front of WAY more folks than I could reach with face-to-face contact and to a much broader geographic reach.
If you wait until you need social media, it will be too late.
Are you ready to up your social media game, create real connections and build a social media community that will benefit your writing career? Great!
(Now prove it by tweeting and/or reposting this blog!)
~Guest blog by Jamie Tan
As a senior publicist at Candlewick Press, my job involves a lot of travel, conversation, logistics, and a ton of e-mail. When I started out in publicity, I walked in thinking that the job would be about reaching out to event and media contacts, acting as an author liaison, and being a public-facing representative of Candlewick Press. The job is that, but with a whole lot of fun and unexpected tasks, mostly involving troubleshooting when the random things go awry.
My typical day at the office involves a myriad of tasks. I set up events, pitch journalists, talk to my authors about plans for their upcoming titles, and contribute to the department hive-mind when we have queries or are looking for fresh leads. I spend most of my day responding to e-mail, checking relevant social media, and planning for future campaigns. In my head, I’m thinking at least two seasons (one year) ahead. It’s nothing compared to my editorial and design colleagues, who are often times thinking two years (or more) out.
A few of the Candlewick books Jamie has publicized.
My typical day at an event or conference involves being an author liaison and amateur photographer. When I am with authors, I make sure I know their schedules inside and out so that I know where we need to be, how to get there, and who to contact if an issue arises. I also want to make sure that the authors are as comfortable and event-ready as possible, which involves taking them out to coffee or simply walking around to ease their nerves. I’ve learned how to situate myself in an audience so that I can take the best photograph possible to be used in social media or a photo round-up post-event. I admit that I’m glued to my phone during events, whether it be I’m waiting for a call or text response to a question, checking to see if anyone has posted about my author on social media, or am trying to decipher the best way to get from point A to point B. For publicists, a strong internet connection and access to their inboxes are musts.
When I think about my job description, I think about it like casting a wide net. I’m trying to hit up every angle I can, even the unusual ones. I get my fair share of rejection, but I also have successes. It can be depressing to send out more than twenty e-mails and not receive a response, but it is gratifying when the twenty-first e-mail you send out gets an enthusiastic response. The one thing I’ve learned? Keep trying. You never know what’s going to happen!
My advice for authors would be to keep an eye out for opportunities. They are my partners in the publicity process, and I really appreciate it when an author has built relationships within the industry that result in being asked to participate in interviews and also appearances. Several of the authors I work with have really robust social media presences which are really helpful in keeping their names in the public eye. While the publicity department and I have access to a wider range of events, authors are able to tap into their local literary scenes and be aware of opportunities that I might not be.
Jamie Tan is a Senior Publicist at Candlewick Press and has her MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College. Before working at Candlewick Press, Jamie worked in events and marketing at several independent bookstores.
You can find her on Twitter @thejamietan.
A Guest Post by Book Marketing Coach Colleen Riordan
Imagine for a moment that your books sell like cronuts in Brooklyn every time you publish a new title. Readers are flocking to the bookstores. They’re hyping your book everywhere—even before they’ve had the pleasure of cracking it open.
It’s the dream, right?
Avid readers want good stories. They want your stories. And, if they’re anything like you, then you know how excited these bookworms get. They’re scouring Goodreads and book blogs right and left, on the prowl for their next favorite story. But, they can’t love your book if they don’t know it exists.
This is precisely why authors need email.
The best book marketing, in its simplest form, is just passionately sharing your story with the readers who already want it.
Email makes that easy.
The 3 Myths of Author Email
Authors often argue that they don’t need to use email to communicate with readers. They feel it’s unnecessary, outdated, and time-consuming.
Can you blame them? Social media is exciting and ubiquitous. It’s easy to throw email to the wayside and chase the shiny new toys. Email has been around since the 1970’s, but that doesn’t mean it’s out-of-date. In fact, email is one of the most effective marketing tools today.
Let’s tackle some of the myths that authors believe about why they don’t need to email readers.
Myth 1: Email is unnecessary. Readers will find the books if they really want them.
Imagine if you had an email list of people eager to read your books the moment they get published. These readers are already passionate about what you do, which means they’re more likely to preorder or run out to the bookstore during that first week. If you had enough fans like that, you could hit the bestseller lists book after book.
The book industry has a vast reach. Books are promoted on television, social media, newspapers, and park benches. It’s fantastic because at any moment you might stumble across your next favorite story.
However, books have a lot of competition. Over your average day, you have access to entertainment non-stop. Your phone, computer, television, and radio are filled with high quality content. A great book has to break through all of that noise.
Take a moment to think about how you found the last book you read.
Did you stumble across it on the library shelves? Did your best friend gush about it for weeks? Did you use specific keywords to search for it (or something like it) online?
Most of us don’t have a system for discovering new books. We hear about them on television. We spot our favorite authors reading them on Instagram. We ask our librarians for recommendations.
But between the incredible entertainment already at our fingertips and the sheer volume of advertising we see everyday, even the most die-hard fans are missing out on new book announcements.
Typically, books in a series are published a year apart. That’s a long time for a reader to wait. You can’t expect them to religiously check your website or the bookstore on the first of each month, eagerly awaiting the next book’s release.
Can you see the flaws in this system?
You can’t rely on fate to notify readers about your books. It’s not reliable. It’s not repeatable. You need a method of notifying readers about your books every time something comes out.
If you want to a career as an author, you can’t put the responsibility of hearing about your books on your readers. You need to reach out to them and tell them about these amazing stories. This is why email is perfect.
Myth 2: Email is outdated because social media has taken over the internet.
Social media is an entertaining way to interact with readers. You can quickly share photos, broadcast new messages, and engage with fans in real-time.
So, why not only use social media?
Social media networks like Facebook let readers follow their favorite author’s online presence. Here’s the catch: Facebook is not a direct communication channel. When an author posts their latest book announcement to their Facebook page or profile, Facebook’s algorithm decides which of your followers see it and when.
On average, less than 8% of your audience will see one of your organic posts on Facebook. These are your everyday, unpaid posts. For the average business page, the rate goes down to 2%. That means that a very small portion of your audience is seeing the post you worked so hard to create.
This percentage is variable of course. If you have an incredibly active and engaged audience who love you and regularly comment on your posts or share them, the algorithm will broadcast your posts to more of your followers. However, it still won’t be all of your followers.
Now, 8% might seem tiny, but it doesn’t mean you should skip Facebook entirely. It just means you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. All of your social networks have this problem. You simply cannot reach everyone who is following you.
Why? Because Facebook—or whichever social network you’re using—is the middleman. You don’t get to decide who sees your posts. They do.
Social media networks limit the reach of a post for several reasons.
First, they tailor the newsfeed experience for individuals to show them more of what they already like and less of what they don’t. This is based off the how often someone engages with posts like yours and how much engagement your posts get.
Second, social media is technically considered ‘free.’ (It’s not. You’re exchanging your data for use of their platform.) However, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the social media networks are all businesses that need to make money to survive. One of the ways they monetize their platforms is by asking you to pay to reach more people through ads or sponsored posts.
With email, there is no middleman deciding who sees your message.
It’s direct communication. You write, and your subscribers get to make the active choice about whether they’ll read your email.
Myth 3: Email is difficult and takes time away from writing.
As you can see from what we covered in the previous two myths, you can’t afford to NOT use email.
Without email, you’re taking the risk that even your biggest fans will never find the sequel to books they already loved. They won’t get the chance to share your new release on social media or borrow it from a friend. You’ll waste weeks on carefully constructed social media posts promoting something that few followers will ever see.
To choose to avoid email is to choose to spend more time on your marketing just to reach the same number (or less) of people.
Imagine having an eager audience just waiting to hear from you—with a smile and open arms.
With email, you can have that.
At the core of your book marketing, you need a reliable, one-on-one method for communicating with your fanbase. Email excels at creating real relationships with your readers.
In the author-reader relationship, it’s your responsibility to reach out with news about your upcoming releases, entertaining activities, and book signings or events. Readers have a plethora of entertainment to choose from. You can’t even become a choice if they don’t know you have something coming out.
Through email, you can personalize your messages and treat each subscriber as a unique, book-loving, fan—not just an email address. When your emails are entertaining, educational, and/or aspirational, you are rewarding each and every one of your fans, who will in turn, share their love of your books with the world.
Colleen Riordan is a book marketing coach and the founder of Wild Ink Marketing. She has over eight years of experience in marketing and communications and a deep passion for teaching authors and illustrators how to sell more books and build their careers through the power of book marketing.
To learn more about Colleen and Wild Ink Marketing, please visit Colleen at https://www.wildinkmarketing.com/.
~by Amanda Smith
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about branding. Not only because we have been thinking, planning, and talking logo at 24 Carrot Writing (see the introduction post here) , but also because I have been working on my personal website. I am constantly considering how I want to present myself, and here at 24 Carrot Writing, while we come up with a lot of cool ideas, we always circle back to the question: “How does this fit in with our main directive?” So, what is branding and how does it fit onto a writer’s life?
Branding is the ways in which a person or company establishes their image. It is the promise they make to their customer and the thing that makes them recognizable. Branding includes core values, interactions, slogan and logo. Anything a business puts out into the world, including websites or promotional materials, communicates its brand.
A logo is the foundation for brand recognition. Logos usually consists of text and image, although some logos, like Nike or McDonald’s, have become so recognizable that the text is often omitted. When logos are used correctly, they represent a business’ identity and build trust.
But why is all this business jargon important for writers?
Branding is unavoidable. Exposure from your work, blogs, social media, interviews, and podcasts all communicate your brand as a writer. As your public image is being formed anyway, you can be proactive in shaping it. Branding is ongoing and evolving, and you should play an active role in the message you communicate to your readers.
So, as you shape your brand, consider the following:
In the world of platform building and author websites, a logo or badge can be useful to show your affiliation with a particular online group or challenge. Those of us who have participated in 12x12, or Storystorm (previously PiBoIdMo), or NaNoWriMo proudly display those badges on our websites. Displaying logos or badges can be an indication of how active one is within the writing community, and that in itself also helps build one's individual brand.
You are your brand. Moving forward, what strategies will you use to mold your brand?
Peruse blogs for advice and tips from KidLit creatives.
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