Friday, June 18, 2010

Marketing: A bit o’ luck be with you

fourleafclovers-LKH04I’ve come to think much of marketing is nothing but luck … a gamble that may or may not work, but then, you know you won’t win if you don’t play. Odds are something will work if you keep playing and adapting to the game. Right?

As I mentioned yesterday, my early attempts seemed pointless so adaptation became necessary. I wanted to know what worked for others, what prompted readers to spend their hard-earned money on certain books, where my time and hard-earned dollars would be best spent. I’d been on a few Yahoo lists for some of my interests, so I thought it was time to start looking up lists of readers, specifically romance and literary readers. The first I found was Coffee Time Romance and I started slowly, with the one list, to check it out and see what was going on. What do you know? Not only were lots of readers there talking about books and reading, but so were lots of authors sharing their work!

I timidly began sharing bits of promo about my own work and received a nice enough reception that my lists grew. Many authors are on as many as 20 lists and keep up with them regularly. I’m not organized enough for all of that, so I’m still limited to the few I’m on. Still, along with readers, it’s been a great way to meet other writers. I recommend to authors not on lists they may want to find a few.

I did learn some things about marketing from the chats and networking.

~~ Most readers love to get bookmarks from authors! So, I switched from business cards and postcards to bookmarks. I have them for all of my books (except one and there’s a story with that not worth telling) and since I spent money on the things, I started forcing myself to take them into bookstores and asking if I can leave them. Most of the time, I got a very gracious acceptance. A couple of times I didn’t, and I didn’t return to those places.

~~ Hot romance sells better than mild romance. *shrug* There’s not much I can do about this one, since I don’t write hot and don’t have any interest in doing so. It did tell me I shouldn’t be overly worried about my sales being lower than some, since my fellow “not hot” writers all mentioned the same.

~~ The description “mainstream” is being used differently in romance circles than in other literary circles. It’s important to keep up with the terms and ins and outs of your particular genre. Going against that grain is of course your call, but be aware it’s a harder sell.

~~ The term “literary” will chase most romance readers away. Again, not much I can do about that except to call my work something it’s not, and I don’t believe an author should ever be deceitful. If it helps short term, it can be harmful long term, and long term should be the big focus if you plan to stay in the business.

~~ What you say online anywhere, particularly on lists and blogs and social networks, can follow you forever. I found myself turning away from even giving an author’s work a chance when she was rude online, or when she said she “doesn’t read” or so on. Be very careful about your online presence in general. It can be stored forever.

~~ Readers want excerpts. Make them available! I was already doing this at book signings, since after my first one was so slow, I wanted something to give away so they would at least know what I was writing. I also learned from other authors that bookstore signings are usually slow and most often the biggest attention you receive is to be asked where the bathroom is. Don’t let it get to you, and decide if it’s worth your time before you jump in.

~~ If you’re asked to join an author blog, make sure to accept if it fits your books and if it’s at all possible to keep up. Group blogs are a great way to meet a different audience. I’m a member of two group blogs:
Lindsay’s Romantics &
Classic Romance Revival
(In order to be asked, take part in conversations on blogs and lists so the owner will see your marketing potential, your interest in chatting with readers, and the quality of your casual writing.)

As this is again long enough, I’ll leave more for another day. Tomorrow, I’m part of Classic Romance Revival’s Blog Carnival for the Cupid Diaries anthology (cover and link is at the right) and will leave that highlighted for a few days.

If any of you authors dropping by here have other hints that you’ve learned from networking, feel free to add them in the comments!

Oh, and about that Irish luck? I’ve been to Ireland and it’s gorgeous. However, it’s also cold and rainy on a near-constant basis and the land is nearly all rock that took much effort to clear in order to be able to farm. Still, they thrive. How? Because of that effort against the odds. Because they stand out in the cold windy rain and keep fishing as though they don’t notice the weather. Because when they were getting their farms started, they used those big rocks they pulled from the ground, stacked them atop each other at the edges of their property, and let them become what are now: beautiful, strong, stalwart fences defining their land and their country.

It’s like my grandpa once said when someone was wishing for the luck some other guy had: “Tell you what, you go out there and work as hard as he does for as many hours as he does, and you’ll have his good luck, too.” That’s the luck of the Irish.



Lindsay Townsend said...

I agree, LK, about luck and work! Sometimes all you can do is keep going, keep trying.

I like your idea about bookmarks. Have you left them at your library, too?

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi LK, I think there's a large measure of luck when it comes to marketing and selling, in these times.

The kind of luck that's created because of sheer darn perseverance, and/or hard work.

And, the kind of luck from Grace, the kind that arrives simply because you are and your book exists, and others are naturally attracted to it. Or, the divine connection between us all.

LK Hunsaker said...

Lindsay, yes I have left them at libraries, also. I always hope that library patrons will request them if they aren't there already.

Savanna, I agree. There are things that happen just because, with no "reason" to find why they did. I appreciate that kind of luck, as well.