Holiday Gift Roundup

Holiday shopping is in full swing, and so is holiday buying. As authors, we want to make sure we can continue to provide our books to our current readers, as well as welcome some new ones. Here’s an idea I’m sure you can use this holiday season.

You see this gift-buying tactic everywhere during the holidays – in magazines, in newspapers, in evening news and on talks shows. It’s a brief list that offers a quick and easy shopping solution, especially for late decision makers. Sometimes it’s presented as Crunch Time Gift Solutions or 10 Under $10 or try Last Minute Gift Ideas.

Generally, these segments are planned well in advance of the holidays. However, you may find a list to join, or you can easily draft and promote your own. It should include your books, of course, and others in your genre. Give these steps a try.

·     Build a list around health and fitness if this is your topic

·     Another list could promote gift ideas based on people’s life stage such as children, pre-teens, teen, young adult, college and career, or seniors

·     Other categories could be hobbies (cooking, knitting, painting) or health and fitness (weight loss, exercise, diets)

·     Anything labeled self-improvement scores big for the New Year

·     Consider a list of authors in your geographic area, regardless of titles

·     Fit your book into the correct category and promote using social media

·     Hashtag your topic to give it extra life on Twitter

·     If time permits, create several lists to run for a week and only include your book on one or two of them – you can always add your link to your author resource box at the end of the list

When you provide a list of useful information to your readers, they may see other opportunities to make purchases of your books. And don’t forget that a partnership could be the most strategic alliance you can make for this buying season.

Happy holidays and happy selling!

Jingle Sales: 5 Ways to Boost Your Holiday Book Sales

Holiday book marketing is in full swing. With only six weeks remaining before the big day, authors are as busy as beavers. Between blogs, special promotions, and ad campaigns, you’re bound to get a bit burned out. Yet market you must.

You don’t want to be left out of the buying loop when people are making their buying decisions. If you haven’t started, stop reading and run over to my site to get your holiday marketing resource (http://bit.ly/HMMagic — you can finish reading this article while it downloads).

jingle bells

Think about your book offer and how you can make it special for the holidays. It’s possible that your book may not fit into the general holiday theme (think sci fi or history titles). Even if you dress it up (gift wrapping), the title could still be a turn off. Don’t despair. You can still present your books in such a way that they leverage the holiday season and capture the sales you desire.

Here are five out-of-the-box marketing ideas to make sure you get your share of the holiday “jingle.”

  1. Instead of just offering a book to purchase, offer to donate the book to the receiver’s local library in their name – have a customized name plate ready to add to the inside cover (or ask the library if they have one for such an occasion). Note: Be sure you have pre-arranged this tactic with the local library in your area.
  2. Highlight a particular chapter of your book and print it out on a decorative page for your readers to enjoy. Leave off a bit of information to create a cliffhanger. Place this chapter on display or set it as a download on a special web page. You can expect sales to increase just because you have spotlighted a chapter of the book, even though it may not be discounted.
  3. If your book is food related, partner with local restaurants to offer your book as a special gift from them, or as a last-minute gift for someone on their list. Your book can be paired with a gift card from the restaurant or a movie card plus your book. Lots of combinations are available – just explore!
  4. Share short blurbs of your book via YouTube – use your chapter titles but DO NOT offer a sales pitch in the video, only the link in your signature line.
  5. Create a Crunch Time Sale beginning 5-8 days before Christmas. Start with reduced prices and raise them each day until the last shipping day available. Stress the next-day price change to provoke buying now rather than later.

Whew! I’m done! This should be more than enough to get started. If you need more ideas, be sure to use the link below to get the full benefit of holiday marketing. And keep those smiles (and sales) coming. HOLIDAY MARKETING MAGIC http://bit.ly/HMMagic

Anatomy of a Book Event: 8 Things to Do or Not Do

It was with great delight that I participated in Indie Author Day at one of our local libraries. It was to be a wonderful day of readers, authors and librarians merging together. The day was well planned and the participants showed up with lots of resources for visitors.

The array of authors ranged from recently published by a few weeks, to long-standing authors of more than 20 years. There were children’s authors, historians, novelists, poets and everything in between. There were workshops, panels and lots of conversations. And it was an opportunity to see what other authors in the area had created.

It was surprised to see how many authors did not know how to prepare for this event. Most of them had tables filled with books and were ramped for sales. One person stacked up five boxes of books on a handcart to bring into the venue. Most authors left disappointed about the sales. Many of then left ahead of schedule once they realized that selling books among so  many authors wasn’t going to happen.

With a little planning on the authors’ part, this could have been a very rewarding day. Author events are most often about visibility and connectivity, with sales being the icing on the cake. If you have an event planned in the near future, try to avoid these disasters:

  1. DO NOT expect your host to have set -up resources for you. You should create an event kit to include tablecloths, display racks, etc. Be sure to get clarity on these details prior to committing to the event.
  2. DO have some literature for visitors to take away. This could be a business card, a bookmark, a button or a chapter reprint. If you don’t have any of these, at least have a sign up sheet so you can capture their information. It doesn’t take long to send a “Thank You For Stopping By” e-mail and jumpstart a writer-reader relationship.
  3. DO NOT invest in swag that does not support your book topic or genre. When a western book author offers lip gloss, I miss the point. If they can tie the book’s title or main characters to the use of the gloss, well done. Otherwise, it could be money down the drain.
  4. DO have a giveaway to capture email addresses of visitors. You could offer a signed book, a small gift bag with book and other goodies, a consultation (especially if you are in the health genre) or other great prizes. One author in attendance at my last event offered a bundle of all three of her books as a prize.
  5. DO NOT overstuff your table. Your display should be inviting without people knocking over books every time they pick up a bookmark. Don’t use large printed displays that block other people’s displays. Stand back from your table and observe it objectively. If you still aren’t sure of your display, ask a fellow author to assist you.
  6. DO have an “elevator speech” ready to describe your book. Visitors don’t expect a dissertation when they stop by your table. They want a quick story with lots of excitement. Also, try to include a compelling call-to-action to get your book into their hands during that visit, but don’t be pushy.
  7. DO NOT glue yourself to your table and fail to mingle with the other participants. As authors we share in the same highs and lows somewhere in our careers. Get to know your fellow author. Besides, you never know where a connection might lead you.
  8. DO pack a snack for quick energy. Most venues that offer food are carb-loaded. Pack some fruit or fruit juice and some nuts to give you a quick lift, especially if it’s a long day.

Reframing your mind for these events can go a long way towards the success of your day. Every person who approaches you is a potential reader (book buyer) who is worthy of your time. You need just the right combination of visual and verbal to get them on board.

Remember, even if a visitor walks away without a book in hand, it doesn’t mean you didn’t make a sale. It might just mean you didn’t make one at that time. Send them away with something in their hands and a warm smile and hope they follow up to make a purchase later.

Indie Author Day: Support Your Local Author

October 14 will be celebrated as INDIE AUTHOR DAY. This international event is hosted by a number of US and Canadian libraries. INDIE AUTHOR DAY is dedicated to merging local authors and readers with their local library systems. This year’s event has 39 states plus 5 Canadian provinces participating. Guidelines for hosting an event are available to all interested parties. However, each event can be customized to reflect the host library.

To participate, you can register a library as either a digital host or a traditional host. The digital host can access the workshop videos via the Vimeo channel. The video link to the playlist can be posted on the library’s website or newsletter or forwarded to a mailing list. This is all there is to do for digital hosting. Easy peasy!

People in library

For traditional hosting, the details are outlined on the website (http://indieauthorday.com). Most libraries offer a combination of these activities:

  • Sponsored workshop videos
  • Writing workshops
  • Panel discussions
  • Industry leader presentations
  • Author readings; some libraries also offer “Open Mic” sections
  • Resources galore

To find out what (if anything) your local library may be doing, use this link and search for them by state or province:  http://indieauthorday.com. Or visit the “events” page of your library to see if they have any events scheduled. If not, you can at least direct them to the site for next year’s event.

Here’s an overview of what you’ll find on the website (http://indieauthorday.com) for INDIE AUTHOR DAY:

A. How to host an INDIE AUTHOR DAY even

B. Who’s Participating (locations)

C. Making the most of INDIE AUTHOR DAY (On-Demand Webinar + Guide)

D. Workshop Videos (partial list)

  • How to Market Your Book
  • How to Write a Fantasy Novel
  • The Costs of Self-Publishing
  • How to Produce a Professional Book

E. Recap of previous INDIE AUTHOR DAY events

F. Contact link

Note: There is a “Become A Library Host” registration link but it is now closed.

library event

When you support INDIE AUTHOR DAY, you will be supporting your local author as well as your local library. The end result is that your writing community will become stronger and more connected. Everyone benefits from this event. If your local library isn’t participating this year, drop them a note to be sure they can add this event to their annual calendar.

It’s the Quiet Before the Book Release

The book release for my next book is in the making. and boy am I tired. I think I have a right to be tired. It’s a time of reflection, correction and checking things off the proverbial list.

There are only a few more days remaining before the BIG DAY (08/08). It’s been a whirlwind of activity getting things set up for this book release. Only a few loose ends remain.

We’re not just about sales – we’re also about building the reading and writing community.

This isn’t a complaint, mind you, it’s a statement of fact. Even with a team, there’s lots to do. Some of the activities include:

  • Setting up live events (release party, workshops, speaking)
  • Creating social media graphics (quotes and infographics)
  • Polishing up my press kit (revamping my outdated press kit)
  • Setting up remote sales sites
  • Connecting with bloggers
  • Designing online and offline contests (and checking the rules)
  • Soliciting prizes and awards
  • Recording podcasts
  • Meet the Author events (libraries, bookstores)
  • Uploading the book (print-only for the first month)
  • Developing the grand prize package
  • And more (this is just a snippet)

Whew! I’m tired just thinking of it. But I’m looking forward to adding my new “baby” to my other books.

What am I learning through this book release activity? Much of what I’ve said (uh, preached) all along. You SHOULD NOT wait until your book is published to begin your promotions. You should build in several forms of book promotions THROUGHOUT the writing process. This takes the guessing (and disappointment) out of book sales. (This topic will be covered more thoroughly in an upcoming e-course).

But we’re not just about sales – we’re also about building the reading and writing community. This will materialize during our extended release event (08/08 – 08/31) through the following:

  • Offering productivity software demonstrations at our live events (including the release party)
  • Hosting an author social
  • Donating a portion of sales to a nationwide children’s literacy program
  • Offering a call-in Help Desk (manned by me and some team members)

Did you notice I haven’t mentioned the title of the book? That would be a spoiler. If you haven’t seen any posts yet, that’s okay. There will be plenty coming out through the next three weeks and beyond. There will also be posts of the results of activities and more insight into various promotions.

If you’re planning to release your book in the next 90 days, add something to the comments about how you plan to promote it to the world. When we share ideas it makes each of us stronger.

Use this link if you’d like to see a layout of the activity. Feel free to join us at any of our events. Some of the activities are limited to Facebook so be sure to check there at the Write Brain page.