Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Advice for Newbie Authors - from todays guest blog post.

I come from the world of fashion and business. I am not a trained writer. I did not major in English or language in college. The majority of my working life was spent selecting which designer clothes and shoes I would buy for the next season, deciding what colors would be the next hot thing, hiring and training staff and balancing the checkbook – not writing books. I am better at bullet points than finding the best ninety-seven words to describe a sunset.

Once I finished my manuscript, I attacked it as though it were another business project. I made my lists (I can never be too far from a yellow legal pad) and decided what my next steps would be. Relying on my business acumen, I knew that starting small with a larger end-game was important. Keep promotion at a manageable size, start local and build to a national level.

Writing a press release was my first hurdle. I could write copy for a fashion show or a magazine ad, but writing a press release was scary stuff! Thank goodness for the Internet. Thank goodness for Google. If you type in “press release” into the Google search bar you will find hundreds of sites all telling you THEY have the secret to writing the perfect release. It can be overwhelming. I poured over these sites for a good week, before I figured out the “proper” format, how to keep the bullet points short and impactful and how to generate buzz that would grab the attention of a magazine or newspaper editor. Keep it short, keep it entertaining, make it informative and for goodness sake, remember to put your contact information on it!

After several attempts, I showed my final press release to a fellow author who showed it to her friend the newspaper reporter. My simple question was “would this get your attention and make you stop and read it?” Her answer? A resounding “no”. “It has too much information. You lost me at the subtitle.” Wow. Deflation. I didn’t think it was perfect but I didn’t think it was that bad, either. Instead of sulking away in embarrassment I asked her how she would change it. What would she write if it were her press release? After a few quick passes at it, a bit of editing and a few word substitutions, I had a press release I was proud of.

The lesson I learned here? Ask for help. You can find it in the most unexpected places. You do not need to hire a fancy PR firm to start marketing your book. I founded my retail business with hard work and creativity, figuring out how to stretch my marketing dollars to fit my small business until it was big enough that I could hire the fancy marketing company. You can do the same thing with your book. Write your own press release. Send it out to your local paper. Get feedback. Ask friends and fellow authors for help. Writers are an amazingly generous community, willing to share contacts and advice. No, you do not have to use every bit of advice but layer it onto what you already know and you will build your marketing platform into a formidable strategy.

Ask friends to share your blog link, your author page, and your book signing dates. Friends help friends and through the process you will make more friends. It’s crazy. Use social media to its fullest. Start a Facebook Author Page. Search for other similar pages and LIKE them, leave a nice comment and let them know about your own page. I have had so many people subscribe to my Facebook Author page because a friend of a friend told them about it. That link, in case you want to FRIEND me too, is www.facebook.com/authorbarbarabrunner. I would be pleased to have you as a subscriber. Through this process I met a Canadian author who had already read my book and she wrote the nicest book review for me on Amazon. I have sold so many books because of her review. It is truly amazing. Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008SIQ1BS

My one rule for book marketing is this. Do one thing a day to promote your book. It can be a blog post. It can be sending a press release to the NY Times (some of us are more daring than others...). Do something every day and it will come back to you ten fold. Marketing a book takes time. My friend, the author, says it takes a full year from the first time you send a press release until the time your books gets traction. Don’t get discouraged. If what you are doing does not work, shift gears and try something else. No one wants to have unopened cases of books sitting on their dining table, right? Be bold, take risks and if anyone can give me ninety-seven words to describe a sunset you are a better writer than me.

Guest Blogged today on Cafe Creations.

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