I am so excited to have two rock stars in the social media scene joining me today!
Cassandra Carr and Lisa Pietsch.
Cassandra has a great ebook exclusively on Amazon, called Marketing Matters For under $2.50, this is a steal! I definitely recommend it! She also teaches writer workshops, like Time Management and Author Marketing.
So let’s get started. Marketing 101:
Katherine Deane: Thanks so much for joining me today, ladies. I have to be honest, marketing still overwhelms me. I wrote a book, I have a blog, which I am (somewhat) consistently posting on, I am now plugged into social media like Facebook and Twitter. What’s next? How do I get my book seen?
Cassandra Carr: Discoverability. Ah, the bane of every author’s existence. You probably thought getting the book published was tough, huh? But fear not! If you have a blog, post consistently, even if it’s only once a week, and it helps to pick a “meme”, aka do the same theme every week. Tuesday Teasers, Thursday Thirteen, Sexy Saturday – all actual romance blog memes. If you’re “plugged into” social media, are you engaging with your followers? Constant “buy my book” irritates people. I talk about my five-year-old daughter all the time. It makes authors likable, it makes us human. It makes us relatable.
Katherine Deane: I do remember hearing a lot about engaging and relatability this past few weeks. Lisa, you are the “Social media rockstar”. I’m planning on signing up for your next online class (when is it?) But why do I need all of this engaging? It seems like a lot.
Lisa Pietsch: I offer classes twice a year now through WriterUniv.com. The 6-week class (offered in the spring) takes you from no online presence to having a website and a solid presence on all of the major social networks. The2-week Refresher & Advanced course will be offered in July this year. You’ll need to have gone through one of my Superstar classes to register, or at least have worked through my book or the free Social Media for Authors Home Study Course which will be available onmy website no later than the beginning of June.
It may seem like a lot, but the cold truth is that publishers don’t have the marketing budgets they used to have and independent authors (indies like me) need to do their own marketing. Writing isn’t like Field of Dreams. Just because you write it and publish it doesn’t mean anyone will find it. The fact is every author needs to take responsibility for their author brand and that means getting out there, mixing and mingling on social networks, and sharing their work (in a non-spammy way, of course).
Katherine Deane: To understand author branding, I think I need to understand who my audience is first, correct? Can you explain, “finding your audience”. My audience is just ‘readers of spanking romance’, right? Or do I need to dig deeper, be more specific. (Should I know exactly who I am targeting: age play? Old fashioned DD? Contemporary DD with lots of male internalizing? Etc…) Why would this help?
Lisa Pietsch: Your audience is the people who are going to connect with your work. The most important thing to remember is that not everyone will connect with your work, and that’s OK. Be true to yourself and your art by being who you are online and your audience will find you.
My audience enjoys lots of action, kickass heroines, suspense and sexual tension. They don’t mind that I don’t write explicit sex and don’t tell sweet, small town love stories. They also don’t mind that I have some explicit violence and language. There are plenty of people out there who do mind those things though. They aren’t my people and that’s OK. You don’t really need to nail down the demographics of your audience, just be true to yourself and your art when you’re online and your author brand will sort out who your following is or isn’t.
Cassandra Carr: Finding your audience, is, I think, a difficult thing to define. Yes, your audience IS “readers of spanking fiction”. But if you were, say, General Motors, would your audience be (and this is a total generalization for the purposes of this example) white men between the ages of 45 and 75? Well, no. And the same is true for you. Besides readers of spanking fiction, your audience is potentially anyone interested in BDSM, readers who enjoy perhaps a little darker side of erotica. I think targeting can work, but only if you know what you want to write and concentrate on that. Otherwise, I’d go the other way. Be inclusive, rather than exclusive.
Katherine Deane: Thanks! Ok, what should I do before my book is published?
Cassandra Carr: Ha! Loaded question. If you do nothing else, get yourself a Goodreads page and populate it as much as you can. What do I mean? Well, Goodreads lets you “plug in” things like your blog so the most recent post will show up on your profile. Make sure there are links to your social media accounts. Also, get a website done. If you have the skills to do it yourself, go for it. I do, but after a while I had so many releases the design wasn’t scalable anymore. Also, I was getting busier, so I contracted the design and now the maintenance out to someone. There are several designers who specialize in romance author websites. Go find some authors whose websites you love. Oftentimes the designer has a little link on the bottom of the page.
Lisa Pietsch: Before your book is published, you should already have a website/blog (I recommend they both be on the same site and suggest WordPress.com to my students and clients). You’ll also want to be sure you have a Facebook Profile, Facebook Author Page (Fan Page), Twitter account, and Pinterest account. These are the absolute minimum. You really need to have a solid following, even if it is just a small one, in all of them so you don’t have to play catch-up when your book is released.
Katherine Deane: What should I do after my book gets published? Is there a happy medium between screaming “Look at me! Have YOU bought my book yet?!!?” and just rolling over and hoping word of mouth does the trick?
Lisa Pietsch: There is a happy medium and I try to teach my students how to get to it as soon as possible. If you have your basic social platforms squared away before your book is released and you’ve been engaging your following on each, simply announcing the good news that your book has been released or sharing news of promotional pricing will go a long way.
I know authors who have a solid core of fans on several social platforms and though they may share a thing or two on Facebook every day, they spend most of their time in their writing cave. They share the news when they hit a writing milestone, receive contracts for new books, have a new cover to reveal, have a book available for preorder or a new release and that keeps their fans going. The important thing is that they’ve made that initial connection with friends and fans and those friends and fans enjoy hearing about the milestones.
Cassandra Carr: I agree, there’s a happy medium. For the first week or two after release, mentioning your book 3-4 times a day on social media is acceptable, but here’s the thing- that’s assuming you’re engaging on social media in other ways. If ALL you have for two weeks after release is “buy my book” posts, people will get annoyed. After the first few weeks, go down to one a day or one every other day. But that doesn’t mean you can’t mention things like “I’m on this blog talking about…” or “I got a great review from…” Both are sneaky ways to keep your book in front of your audience without making it too obvious.
Katherine Deane: Can you expound a bit on the Amazon Author Page?
Lisa Pietsch: If you have a book available on Amazon.com then you need an Amazon Author Page. You can post your bio and website information, book trailers or related videos, and photos, as well as connect your Twitter account and blog to feed into your Author Page. Amazon.com is where most people are buying their books so if you can connect with new readers right there at the bookstore, why shouldn’t you? Once a reader reads your book(s) and becomes a fan, they can find you very easily through your Amazon Author Page.
Katherine Deane: What is a blog tour? How is it different from blog hopping or promo posts on other authors’ blogs?
Cassandra Carr: A blog tour is a set of dates wherein you agree to appear in some way on other peoples’ blogs, maybe as a guest poster, an interviewee, or just a spotlight on your work without any other interaction from you (besides going to the blog in the morning to thank them for having you on, and to subscribe to blog comments so you can reply if someone else makes a comment).
Blog hops are an event that runs for a specific amount of time and is related to a specific thing- The Alpha Male Hop that lasts for three days, where your post might be about why your hero is an Alpha Male; Hop Against Homophobia that lasts a week and where your post might deal with an aspect of homophobia you have a particular dislike of. Readers “hop” from blog to blog.
I mentioned promo posts above. Those are posts with your blurb, an excerpt, your bio, and buy links. As I said, you don’t have to write anything specific for the blog, you just send out that info to anyone doing a promo post and you’re all set–except for the whole going there that morning etc.
Lisa Pietsch: Blog hopping is generally a group of authors who blog once each in rapid succession and add a link at the top of their blog for the previous author’s blog and one at the bottom of their blog for the next author. These can help authors connect with a few new readers over a longer period of time.
Promo posts on other authors’ blogs are usually just a book cover, book description, buy links and author contact information. They aren’t really engaging but can help to reach a few new readers for a books release.
A blog tour is (or should be) a series of new and different blogs written by the same author, appearing on other websites during a certain period of time. Some authors run blog tours where they are hosted on a new website and post a new blog each day for a month, some run Monday/Wednesday/Friday for several weeks, some just guest blog at a new site once a week for several weeks.
Katherine Deane: Are there ways to do blog tours inexpensively, or do I have to hire a marketing company to do this?
Cassandra Carr: You can do all the marketing yourself, and in the beginning when you’re not making much money you may want/need to. Send out a call through social media for people who are willing to feature you on their blog. Tell them the type of posts you’re willing to do. For instance, I very rarely guest blog because after three years and forty releases, it’s nearly impossible to come up with topics.
But I’ll do interviews (like this one!), character interviews–an interview with you usually as the interviewer and your character(s) as the interviewee. Readers love them because they get an “inside scoop”. And promo posts/spotlights are fine with me too. Less work and hopefully at this point I don’t have to say “Hi, I’m Cassandra Carr, and I write this”, because if I’m doing my marketing correctly, they already know who I am and just want to hear about my newest release.
Lisa Pietsch: I never recommend hiring a marketing company. Heck, I AM a marketing company and I still prefer to show authors how to put together a blog tour quickly and easily on their own instead. This isn’t because I can’t arrange them, I just don’t think we should enable all those new industries that have popped up with the specific intention of separating artists from their money. I’m a firm believer in the old adage: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day – teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. That’s why I createdThe Blog Exchange, so authors could work cooperatively and host each other when needed. Putting out a call on your social networks, if they’re large enough, can yield a great number of fellow authors willing to host you. Between that and the Blog Exchange, you should have more than enough websites willing to host a major tour.
Katherine Deane: How much do I actually have to get published , and how often, before I get “seen”. The FSOG author did it with one; LOL, I’m guessing that is not the norm. 🙂
Lisa Pietsch: No, sadly that isn’t the norm. I’ve been negligent in my own publishing over the past few years. I’ve averaged one book a year but I’ve been lucky in my ability to connect with a great audience and have fans that have stuck with me because they’ve enjoyed my past work so much. This is one of the things a great social platform can do for you as an author. It allows your readers to understand you aren’t a robot or a writing machine and that you deal with the ups and downs of life just like they do. It also provides you with great ways to keep them engaged in your work in progress. I’ll share memes with excerpts on my Facebook pages, write blogs about the writing process, share the photos of celebrities and places that have inspired characters and scenes on Pinterest, and other things on other platforms.
Cassandra Carr: No, not the norm. She had the “perfect storm” of things go right for her. It happens, but don’t count on it. Like I said above, I have forty releases, from shorts/anthos to full-length books, series books, and lots of people don’t know who I am. Is that because my marketing sucks? Nope, or Katherine probably wouldn’t have asked me to do this interview, lol. It’s because there are tons of readers who aren’t active on social media, there are readers who only buy paperbacks from a physical bookstore (where I have no books). You get to as much of the audience as you can and keep pounding away at it.
Being prolific WILL help you get noticed since readers will notice your new release and say, “I’ve seen this chick Cassandra Carr. She writes hockey romance, I think. I liked the hockey romance I read from (insert another author here), so I’ll go over to Cassandra’s author page on Amazon. Whoa! She’s got forty books! Hockey! BDSM! Male/male! Menage!” *one click* *one click* *one click* (Hopefully)
Katherine Deane: Why is social media so important for the marketing of my book? What ever happened to word of mouth?
Cassandra Carr and Lisa Pietsch: Social media IS word of mouth.
Katherine Deane: (LOL, these were the exact same replies from both women 🙂 )
Lisa Pietsch: We live in a world where people are too busy to meet for coffee and chit-chat for a couple hours every morning or enjoy long lunches chatting about life and books. Social media has become that for about 95% of the people with computers. Social media is where word of mouth happens now.
Cassandra Carr: That’s what the share button on FB and the retweet button on Twitter are for. Social media is all about the power of amplification. What do I mean? Well, I have around 2500 friends on FB. We all know not all 2500 friends see all my posts. But let’s say 500 do. And of those 500, 10 thought it was cool enough to share. Between those ten people, there are 4000 friends who are not friends of mine, so they wouldn’t have seen my original post. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be interested, maybe they just don’t know me, don’t follow authors on social media, whatever. Now they’re seeing the post, though, so your one post was amplified to many more people when your friends shared it.
Katherine Deane: We are talking about Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and a few groups that match the interests of my genre, correct?
Cassandra Carr: Pretty much. I just got rid of my personal author blog. It was taking time away from writing and I didn’t think it was helping. I still blog on a group blog called Romancing the Jock, which centers on…sports romance. I’m very active on Facebook, less so on Twitter since there are a lot more industry people on Twitter and less readers. Singing to your own choir won’t get the word out about your book.
I’m not saying to close your Twitter account, but maybe decide how you want to use it. Maybe it’s a tool that’s better for talking to editors, since through traditional channels you have to slay dragons, swim through moats, and sacrifice a chicken to get actual face-time with an editor. But ask a question specific to them on Twitter and they’ll probably answer. This could be anything from “Do you like sports romance or is there another ed at your house I should send to?” to “Congrats on having three RITA award nominees! Are you taking submissions from (people like me)?”
Lisa Pietsch: Facebook, Twitter and blogging are musts. If any of your audience is female or gay, you need to be on Pinterest too. Groups are great if you can find some that are specific to your genre and allow you to connect with people rather than simply broadcast. I think people mistake social networks for broadcasting methods rather than places to connect with and truly engage with others. The sort of social media use I encourage is the engaging, where you’re part of a conversation and not just broadcasting. We all know the author that broadcasts all over the place and doesn’t sell any books – that’s because she annoys so many people. Don’t be that author.
Katherine Deane: How long should all this “socializing” take? I don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to write, socialize and market.
Cassandra Carr: There aren’t enough hours. Not nearly enough. I just turned in a novella to my editor last night, which is why I had time to do this interview now. But I’m way behind on email, which bugs my OCD tendencies; I need to pack for RT, which I’m leaving for in five days; I need to find some more avenues to market an upcoming multi-author series (Red Hot and BOOM! coming June 1st); and I should probably make sure my house isn’t a wreck and there’s food in the fridge before I leave for a week. Did I mention the garage sale my parents are having this weekend which always gets tons of traffic and how I’ll be spending hours carting stuff over there, setting it up, and pricing it? Oh, and Sunday is Mother’s Day and I’m traveling an hour in the morning, coming back and going to another event.
So, what do you do? Some writers set aside specific time every day and only do social media/blogging etc during those times. Me? I have the attention span of a gnat so I tend to check in every hour or two. When I do that, I don’t stay for a long time, but since I oftentimes post a little something — last night it was “The only reason I’d leave my house right now is to get donuts”, that makes me human and relatable. Not every post has to have deep meaning.
Lisa Pietsch: My method requires 30 minutes a day. I teach my students and clients how to set up their social networks quickly, build them with a targeted audience, and then only spend 30 minutes a day TOTAL on a combination of building and engaging.
Katherine Deane: If I had to pick the most important things to do to market my book, what would they be?
Cassandra Carr: Website, filled out Goodreads profile, filled out Amazon author page.
Lisa Pietsch: Be accessible: Have a presence on the major networks like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Engage: Get in on the conversation every once in a while. You don’t need to watch your streams constantly, just set up your notifications so you can respond to the conversations important to you once a day.
Write your next book: Believe it or not, this is a must.
Katherine Deane: What is one tip you would give newer authors to maximize their marketing potential for their book?
Cassandra Carr: Concentrate on social media, Facebook in particular. That, FOR NOW, is the most effective, cheapest, easiest marketing you can do.
Lisa Pietsch: Write a good book. (Oh, wait…that’s assumed.)
Don’t be Spammy Spammerson. (That should be assumed too.)
OK, my final answer:
Be accessible through multiple social media networks and authentic in your communications. The rest will happen. Whether it happens quickly or not is completely up to you.
While I agree with Cassandra that Facebook is important, I feel I should mention that Facebook is cutting down on sending people notifications about pages they’ve liked so most author pages are seeing much lower numbers and slower growth on Facebook now. Eventually, Facebook plans to make all page traffic pay-to-play. As I’ve explained in this article, you do need a Facebook Fan Page, but I explain further in this article, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the Facebook basket.
Katherine Deane: You ladies are so awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us!
What I have taken from this, is that social media once again, turns out to be very important to the marketing – of not only my books, but more importantly, me. If I am seen as a real person, AND have good books, then my followers will continue to buy, and will spread the word. I have many different options to spread the word, as seen by our guest hostesses. The key will be to figure out what works for me. And I know I am definitely going to re-read Cassandra’s marketing book, and attend Lisa’s class.
So who am I? I’ve been writing my whole life, but only decided to pursue writing as a career in the past couple of years. I’m lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband named Inspiration who brings home the bacon so I can stay home and fry it (and eat it all before he’s able to fight through the rush hour traffic – I’m mean that way, but like I always say, don’t get between a woman and her bacon).
I live in Western New York with Inspiration and our young daughter, Too Cute for Words. I’m a major hockey fan, which explains why many of my heroes are hockey players. If you haven’t looked at the guys playing the sport today, search for some images. You won’t be disappointed.
I’m a member of the leading professional association for romance novelists, Romance Writers of America, and also serve as president of my local chapter. I’ve met so many interesting people through these organizations and highly recommend them to any aspiring writer!
As you can see, my life is pretty busy, but I try to take as much time as I can to write. And re-write. And re-write. It’s a never-ending, vicious circle, and I love it!
website – http://www.booksbycassandracarr.com/
twitter – http://www.twitter.com/Cassandra_Carr.
Lisa Pietsch is a U.S.A.F. veteran and member of RomVets, a multi-published novelist and freelance writer, social & digital media marketing consultant, has served as managing editor for five content rich online communities and several online and print newsletters, and a homeschooling mother of two boys. She has an A.S. in Business Management from the University of Maine and has been immersed in social media marketing and management since 2004. She has a passion for foreign languages, travel and hot guys with guns. Lisa currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her darling companion, two sons, two cats and dog.
When her first novel, The Path to Freedom, was published in electronic formats in 2008, Lisa realized her marketing efforts would need to take a left turn at traditional and become largely electronic as well. Since then, she has developed tools and handbooks that teach writers of all genres and small press publishers how to market their books and their brands without breaking the bank. She is available for both workshops and private training.
website – http://lisapietsch.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LisaPietsch
Facebook – http://facebook.com/lisa.pietsch