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Archive for December, 2010

Marketing your book(s) can be a very expensive endeavor, especially hard copy printing of advertisements and promotion.One way you can save bigtime is to buy some quality cardstock and design your own “paper trail” using a desktop graphics and print shop program. I’ve designed and used all of the following:
1. Flyers/posters to hand to book store managers. If you’re fortunate enough that the store carries your books, the manager is usually willing to display your attractive posters somewhere in the store.
2. Brochures to have on your table when you do book signings or speaking engagements or to mail to prospective fans. Make sure the brochure has your name, address, phone number, and email address on it.
3. Order forms: I include an order form in my brochure, which features all the books’ covers with a short blurb about each one.
4. Business cards to “scatter abroad.” (I’ve already discussed in Marketing Post Number Two how to use business cards effectively both directly and indirectly.)
5. Your own letterhead for stationery that features you as an author and, maybe, a graphic of your book cover.

All these “paper” marketing ideas require little time and a lot of creativity to produce attractive “ads” to promote you and your book.

So, jump on the self-publishing band wagon and get your name in print in all these different venues. You’ll be surprised how effective this type of campaign can be.

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writers Tips)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
(Writers Conference Information)
www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com
(Horse Facts Blog)
www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

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A Word About Mass Mailings

I’ve tried two different kinds of mass mailings, both with little or no results. They both cost some bucks, which, of course, was a chance I took and proved to be ineffective for me:

1. I purchased a Christian school directory that has hundreds of addresses of most of the Christian schools in the U.S.A. I bought 100 copies of book one, A HORSE TO LOVE, in my Keystone Stables Series, selected the schools with the largest enrollment, and sent them a free book with information on an insert to order more.
I received one thank-you letter from a school in California but not one order from any schools. Whether the schools went online to Zondervan to order more of my books, I’ll never know.

2. I designed my own attractive flyer with all my books listed with their covers in color and a description of the book, a price listing, and an easy-to-use order form. I sent about 50 of them to libraries, book stores, and “horsie” places like summer camps for kids. The result! One order.

My advice to you about mass mailings? Don’t bother. You’ll make better use of your money going to Starbucks for a cappuccino!
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A word about a new feature on my blogsite: From time to time, I would like to feature different authors and their projects, whether they be published books, newspaper columns, articles, poems, or whatever. If you would like to be one of my featured authors, please let me know, and we’ll “talk.” :)

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writers Tips)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
(Writers Conference Information)
www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com
(Horse Facts Blog)
www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

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We’ve been addressing the issue of local marketing of one’s book. Another idea for local marketing, or not so local marketing, which does involve legwork, is getting your book into book stores or stores that would be interested in your book. (Remember I said that horse gear and saddle shops would be interested in mine?) What’s the best way to do that?

Hit the beaten path.

When my first two Keystone Stables books came out, I spent quite a bit of time visiting every bookstore within a fifty-mile radius, both Christian and secular, along with any tack shops that sold horse equipment and “horsie” stuff.

Since Zondervan is one of the leading Christian publishing companies in the world, I knew its products would be listed in the bookstore’s data base, so I had a big advantage there. I didn’t have to convince the manager to take a chance on the Keystone Stables books as I have had to do so with some of my self published books. (By the way, make sure if you self publish, you get an ISBN number on the back of the book or no store will be able to sell it.)

When entering the store, I always went to the children’s department to see if my books were on the shelf. About 70% of the time they were not. Then I asked to see the manager. I introduced myself, gave him a business card, showed him my books, and asked if he would consider carrying them on his shelves. Right now I can’t think of any manager who ever said no. Most managers said something like this: “Horse stories? Kids love horse stories. Why haven’t I heard about these books before?”

The sad truth is that even with Zondervan publishing my books, their sales reps do NOT place copies of all their newly published books on the shelves. The salesmen promote the company’s best-selling authors, not a greenhorn like me. Sometimes the store had large sections of Zonderkidz products, but my books were not among them.

Once in a rare while, I WOULD find some copies of my books on the store’s shelf. As a published author, I felt a sense of joy and pride seeing my name on a book cover in a book store. I immediately took all the copies to the cashier, told him/her who I was (with a business card validating it, of course), and offered to autograph the books. Most clerks were thrilled to meet a “real, live author.”

I always left by offering the manager or the clerk some flyers (that I had made) to post in the store about my books, and I always offered to do a book signing and asked for one of the store’s business cards with the contact information.

Earlier I had mentioned “not so local” marketing that might involve some more legwork.

What do I mean about “not so local?” How about vacations?

The same year my books came out, my husband and I drove to South Carolina to visit our one foster daughter. All the way on the trip, we pulled off the Interstate when we saw a mall off to the side, assuming that every mall usually has some kind of bookstore. I also did a search online to see if any bookstores were near the route we would be traveling.

When we got to Charleston, SC, my daughter took me to every library and bookstore within a 30-mile radius. The libraries were given a free copy, and the bookstores found out about this brand-new kids’ books, the Keystone Stables series.

This plan didn’t take that much extra money, but it did take some time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think my husband read about three books in the car while I ran in and out of bookstores on our trek.

I know it only seems like a drop in the bucket when you consider the entire country, but, at least, I got my foot in the door as far as spreading the word.

Next time, we’ll discuss mass mailings. Are they worth it?

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writers Tips)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
(Writers Conference Information)
www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com
(Horse Facts Blog)
www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

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I’ve had several writers ask me about “local” marketing and what are some effective methods to use to promote yourself and your book(s) locally.

Of course, marketing this way involves a lot of bucks, legwork, phone calls, and time that you’d rather spend on writing. Nevertheless, to get your name out there, here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:

1. As soon as your book is released, contact all the local newspapers. Newspapers are usually VERY eager to write an article about local authors and their books. When the first two books in my Keystone Stables series came out, the local newspaper sent a reporter AND a photographer to my home and did a nice lengthy article about me. After that interview, the reporter joined our local critique group!
After my other books came out, I’ve written my own articles and have provided my own photograph every time I had a new book released. I found out who did that genre of reporting for the newspaper and submitted the press release via email to that person with these words typed at the top of the page:
READY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The paper has always printed within days the article I sent them almost word for word.

2. Unfortunately, it takes money to make money. Although I don’t have “money” in that sense of the word, I’ve spent quite a lot buying my own books (which you have to do whether you self publish or royalty publish) and giving them away to promote myself. I’ve given books to:
a. All local libraries – WITHOUT autographing the books. A librarian told me once not to sign the books because they’d be stolen because of the autograph.
b. Leaders of churches, clubs, or organizations that would like your book. I give my prayer Bible study guide to every missionary wife who visits our church. Talk about worldwide exposure!
c. Give books to your target clientele. When a new family visits our church, the children get a free book from me. I also usually carry a book with me when I go to a restaurant or grocery store. If I see a kid who’s in my target age group, I introduce myself, give the adult my business card, and give the child the book. (Yes, it hurts the pocketbook, but often the family buys more of my books because the kids love the ones I give them.)

So, there are a few ideas to get you going locally with your book marketing. In the next post, I’ll continue with a few more ideas. Keep on writing, and keep on trucking!

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writers Tips)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
(Writers Conference Information)
www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com
(Horse Facts Blog)
www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

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Social networking and selling online seem to be the way to go these days with marketing books.

Of course, there is physical legwork to do as far as book signings, speaking engagements, and vendors’ affairs to get your name out there, but the world’s markets have opened up online exponentially in the last few years, and it would be very wise to pursue that venue of promotion. The Internet and its effects on our society has grown so monumentously, they can no longer be ignored.

Any author who is serious enough to write a book should be serious enough to learn how to use the Internet most effectively. Here are some quick suggestions, some easy, some not so easy, to accomplish. But, guaranteed, you’ll increase your presence online and with your fan base if you work on these marketing strategies:

1. Look for online book reviewers. Many book reviewers will do a review gratis if you provide a free copy of your book. I’ve had some of my Keystone Stables books reviewed by:
a. the NEA (National Education Association)
b. the Young Hoosier Book Award Program (www.ilfonline.org)
c. Barbara Fielding (www.reviewers-choice.com)
d. www.wordsmithshoppe.com among others. All gave favorable reviews.

2. When your book is on Amazon’s sales’ racks, have some friends post favorable reviews for you on that site.

3. Take a social networking class (as I am presently doing) to learn how to integrate and interact sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, StumbleUpon, and so on with your website and blogsite(s).

The more your name pops up on the Internet, the more books you’ll sell. It only makes sense that exposure is the key to good sales. Learn how to have a presence there, and you’re on your way to being a best seller.

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writing Blog)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
(Horse Facts Blog)
www.mhubler.wordpress.com

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On Writing: Marketing Post Number Three

“To market, to market

To sell a book or two…”

That’s the little ditty that should be constantly reverberating in your brain as you write your book or wait for it to arrive from the publisher.

The majority of us writers are not big-name best sellers. We have no TV exposure and very little radio and newspaper coverage. So how do little Mr. Nobody and Mrs. WhoIsShe get their names out there in public view?

So far, we’ve discussed (with not much detail):

  1. Blogsites and websites
  2. Business card distribution

Let’s tackle the book signing venue today.

I had previously told you that I hate book signings. For the most part I do because lots of times no one shows up and I sit there reading a good book (my own) and directing passersby to the restroom.

When I have had successful book signings at stores (by successful, I mean I sold at least 20 or 30 books), here’s what I did:

  1. When planning the book signing with the store manager, I asked to be at the store on a big sales day of the year. The best time is any Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  2. I made sure the manager planned to get the word out, including putting up flyers or signs in the store (which I provided), submitting an article to the local newspapers, (which I wrote), and sending out e-mails to the store’s clientele OFTEN about the book signing.
  3. I called or e-mailed several days before the book signing to make sure the manager had ordered enough books. If not, I offered to bring my own just as a back up.
  4. On the day of the book signing, I’ve had a friend with me to walk throughout the store handing out my business cards or a small token gift like a bookmark and inviting them to my table. Often, I’ve been parked in the BACK of the store, and if I didn’t let folks know I was back there, they never saw me.
  5. I offered some kind of deal, i.e. if anyone bought my whole Keystone Stables series, they got a free gift like a plastic model horse or a small jewelry box with a horse picture on the front, etc. (Recently I sold three complete sets of eight books each because of my “special” deal.)
  6. If traffic was slow, I got out from behind the table and introduced myself to folks in other parts of the store.
  7. I looked for businesses besides book stores that might want me to have a book signing. I have done fairly well at a large local hardware store and at a horse equipment and saddle shop. Of course, horse books would be a natural sell at stores like this.

Now, after you’ve done everything in your power to pull this off, if store traffic is still real slow, as such was the case with a book signing I had a few weeks ago, you have to just sit and smile, maybe work on your next novel on your laptop, and write the day off as a loss.

You just never know how book signings are going to go. Swallow your pride and try again at another store as soon as you can make the contact. Making money? Are you kidding? You’ll probably break even with the cost of gasoline, but book signings are all about promotion anyway, not making you rich.

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writers’ Blog)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
(Horse Facts Blog)
www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

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I’d like to share with you some simple, inexpensive ways to market books that have proved somewhat successful for me. I must have done something right because the first book in my juvenile fiction Keystone Stables Series, A HORSE TO LOVE, is a best seller. In juvenile fiction, 20,000 copies is the goal to attain if you want to be a best seller. In adult fiction, the magic number is 100,000.

Counting all eight Keystone Stables books, there are probably over 100,000 sold. To all my fans, I say a heartfelt thank you.

How did this happen? Well, besides Zondervan doing some marketing in catalogs and online, let’s discuss one marketing technique that I use that really doesn’t require much legwork nor the Internet:

Buy some desktop publishing supplies like business card stock and a graphics program like The Print Shop. (Your computer might already have a program installed).

Design your own business card. Make sure you put your website AND your blogsite on that card as well as your phone number. Add an attractive graphic, like the cover of your book or your own portrait shot, and print your own business cards.

Now, what do you do with all these dozens and dozens of business cards (besides handing them out to everyone you know in church or at the club?

  1. This is a great time of the year to start this marketing plan. Christmas means Christmas cards! Put a business card in every Christmas card you send.
  2. Put a business card in all the bills you pay through the mail. (All the time, not just at Christmas)
  3. Put a business card with every tip you leave at a restaurant.
  4. If your books are sold in any stores, ask the store manager if you can place some business cards at the check-out counter, or sometimes the store will have a community bulletin board where you can post some cards.
  5. Of course, when you are selling your books at book signings or at vending affairs, a nice pile of cards should be on your table for folks to take at will.

Short of dropping thousands of these little advertisements out of a plane flying over a football stadium, you can explore other ways to get your name out there using business cards. It’s an inexpensive but effective way to let folks know that you’ve arrived as an author!

Marsha Hubler
Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books
(Web) www.marshahubler.com
(Writing Blog)
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
(Horse Facts Blog)
www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

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