Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marketing: Festivals and Fairs!

LK Hunsaker- Victorian Days 2010
Last weekend, I took part in our local Victorian Festival weekend. Even as an inhibited marketer, fairs and festivals are a great way to get out there and meet readers. If there’s a group of you, that’s better yet.

I lucked out. Our Chamber of Commerce representative is very author supportive, and there are quite a few of us in the area, of different genres. She sent info out and a couple of us sent it along to other authors we knew, and there were soon between 8 and 10 signed up. We didn’t leave it as a booth only. We did a float.

Things were a bit scattered in the planning of our first ever local authors float, but the few of us who found our feet in this venture pulled it together well enough one of the other parade entries said we should win best float. We didn’t, but that wasn’t why we were there. We were making ourselves known.

I’m a bit of an obsessive type. Okay, maybe more than a bit. Either way, I didn’t just find a Victorian-like outfit to wear on the float, but I spent days ahead of time printing out copies of short stories and excerpts for the booth, along with creating the big posters that were to go on each side of the float to say who we were. And, while deciding what I could throw as advertisement for the brand new author booth during the parade, trying to stay with the “olden days” feel, an idea snapped into my brain.

Paper airplanes.

You know, like those used in old makeshift entertainment days before Game Boys and iPods. We (and yes I’m old enough to have done it, also) used to grab old pieces of paper and shape them into airplanes. It’s funny how long this simple game could amuse us. The perfect thing for an old-time float, I figured. And what better to make them from than some old flyers I have sitting around here that haven’t been used.

Figure in the wind factor before considering throwing paper airplanes from a moving float, by all means, as at least one came back directly at us. Overall, though, they went over great! I threw one and kids down the line asked for their own.

Of course, this idea might be best for children’s books, but maybe some of their parents actually looked at what was written inside the planes. Either way, it mixed books with fun. That’s an attention getter. My idea of stapling cheap printer made business cards with my info and a plea to come see us at the author’s booth to pieces of wrapped candy worked less well. They were hard to throw out far enough. Never fear, I also had plenty of candy without the cards attached.

Another author on the float threw pencils, which I had considered and opted instead for the planes. Pencils are a good idea, especially if they have your name and website engraved on them.

So, the float was a lot of fun and attracted attention for the booth.

At the booth, things were much slower. A lot of people come to fairs just to browse and enjoy walking around being sociable. There didn’t appear to be very many buyers at any of the booths. (Although the guy creating metal birdhouse stake-holders and such did well, judging by how many walked away!)

Some of my fellow authors were disappointed at the lack of sales. I wasn’t. That’s not because mine were better, but because I didn’t expect a lot in the first place. We’re unknowns. Books are rather expensive these days. It’s a risk for buyers, most of whom now are economy-concerned.

What I mainly went there to do was to get my name out farther. That, I did. Armed with free stories and excerpts, plus pencils and bookmarks, I said hello to anyone who approached, gave them some time to look, then offered a writing sample to take with them. Of course, I do always maintain hope of good sales, and I always take many more books with me than I need, but hope is good as long as reality is mixed with it.

I did sell books. Even if the quantity was low, those are books I would not have sold if I hadn’t bothered to try. And how many of those who took the free reads will look me up at the local places I mentioned where they were available, or online, and buy there? I can’t know. I can know that I was out there spreading my name. I also met a lot of readers and had some nice conversations. I even managed to do it without the rapid pulse and red face that has normally come about with public appearances: a wonderful step up for the truly social phobic.

I have to mention how much of the fun of the weekend was simply hanging out with other authors and talking craft and ideas, along with anything else that came to mind. I hope it will be a continuing tradition.

So much of marketing is name recognition. I strongly believe that reviews, awards, and “best seller” status is much less important than someone seeing your name and recognizing it.

By the way, at this point, I’ve moved up to #19 on the Smashwords most viewed authors list and sales have grown. Something is still working.

Oh, and the sweater in the photo above to give myself a more Victorian look? It was on long enough for the photo. Sweaters, even light ones, are not meant for 90-some degree days and high humidity. I can’t imagine how the Victorian ladies and gentleman managed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Basket of Romance

RomanceBasket-CRR Authors

A Basket is up for grabs at the Mercer PA newly renovated library!

Actually, 6 baskets with 6 different themes are up for raffle, donated by library patrons. The one I took in is shown above: a bit of romance by CRR authors.

As a Friend of the Library, I received the call for themed basket donations in the newsletter and decided to go for romance and reading!

I put out the call a few weeks before the basket was due and am so very grateful to the Classic Romance Revival authors who donated books, ebooks, pens, and postcards to represent CRR!

The basket contains:

Print Books by CRR authors:

One Small Victory by Maryann Miller
Samael by Marion DeSisto
Turning To Nature by Marion DeSisto
Protect The Heart by LK Hunsaker
Finishing Touches by LK Hunsaker
Destination Berlin by S. G. Cardin
The Giving Meadow by Stephanie Burkhart
The Duke’s Dilemma by Rachel McNeely 
The Best Selling Toy by Elaine Cantrell
A Knight’s Vow by Lindsay Townsend (donated by LK Hunsaker)
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Deborah McGillivray (donated by LK Hunsaker)

Print Books by non-CRR authors (donated by S. G. Cardin):
Dragon Lair by Sharon K. Penman
Loving A Lost Lord by Mary Jo Putney

Ebooks on CD:

Turtle Soup by Danielle Thorne
Frontier Wife by Margaret Tanner
Holly and the Millionaire by Margaret Tanner
Thin Ice by Liana Laverentz (Liana also donated 2 print books for the library to keep!)
Tarbaby Trouble by Phoebe Matthews
The Cupid Diaries “Moments in Time” – short stories by CRR Authors

Promo Items:

Pens and postcards from Stephanie Burkhart (aka S.G. Cardin)
Postcards from Phoebe Matthews
Pencils and postcards from LK Hunsaker
Flyers from Maryann Miller

Also included:

A CD sampler with the first two chapters of Finishing Touches by LK Hunsaker along with the song included in the novel: Love Is Yours And Mine by Duncan Faure, autographed by Duncan

A large red “Rose Garden” candle custom made for the basket by

A few Hershey Kisses for flavor ;-)

So if you’re in the Mercer County area and would love a little romance and reading break, grab raffle tickets at the library! And be sure to check out the authors above who so generously donated to help build the library’s fund! (All romances in the basket are on the classic side. Check CRR for details.)


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Marketing: Something’s Working

fireworks 4 July 2010

A friend on a writing list the other day let me know I was the #22 most viewed author on (Thanks, Celia!)  It took me by complete surprise.

Many authors, and I congratulate them for doing this, will regularly track sales and list numbers in many different places. I don’t. Honestly, I can’t imagine being organized enough to keep up with it. I’m not sure I’d even ever looked at the most viewed author list. *blush*

I wasn’t on the computer that day and so didn’t see it. By the next day, I was kicked off the top 25. Today I decided to go look again, just for kicks. What do you know?? I’m #25 today!

Here it is if you’re interested:

If you get there today, you’ll see me! Granted, I’m at the bottom of the list, but hey, I’m ON the list out of hundreds of SW authors. [And if you click on my name at the bottom of the list, maybe I can stay there a while!  ;-) If I’m not still there, find me here: LK Hunsaker]

So anyway, of course I started to wonder HOW I got there. That’s the big question. My best guess is that I just sent out my newsletter to a list that grows a bit every time I announce it’s about to come out. I also encourage readers to forward it to friends.

I always suggest to authors that they should have a newsletter. They don’t need to be monthly, since they are a lot of work and we may not have that much to say every month (yes, authors can run out of things to say!). I’ve switched to sending mine quarterly, with an occasional special edition for breaking news or more likely for a free read story. If you don’t want to do one on your own, join up with a friend or two or three who write in your same genre. I figure not only is quarterly enough of my own time, but it’s also enough to ask of readers’ time. People are busy. Don’t deluge them!

What do you put in a newsletter?

News, of course. But also, think about what you would like to hear from your favorite authors and give that to your readers. My favorite author newsletter came from Sue Monk Kidd. She always begins with something somewhat personal: thoughts about things, description of where she is as she writes, inspirations. It allows the reader inside who she is just enough to make a connection. That’s what I try to do. Your books should reflect who you are. If your newsletter does, also, it will be a nice sell for your work. If it is nothing but promotion, it will be easily bypassed.

If you can find a mailing service that provides web hosted links for newsletters you send, it can be helpful, as well. I grab that link after I send one out and post it to my Facebook page. Since I have FB linked to Twitter and Twitter linked to my blog and my website, it also goes out to all of those places with one quick entry. You’ll also find the links to my archived newsletters (the most recent) here in the right-hand column under my newsletter sign up box.

The newest that has a link to a free read story on Smashwords: Jun 2010

We hear often that it’s impossible to tell which marketing attempts work and how well each work, but in the end, something works if you have good stories to tell and know how to tell them to hold your readers. From my recent results, I would say newsletters with links and free things for readers do work.

Do any of you authors have Newsletter tips? Please share!