Diary of a Book Marketing Plan – Setup

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My second book is releasing soon. As I researched and promoted my first book, I wrote a blog post giving 32 marketing ideas. Now, with more experience as to what worked and didn’t work for me, I’ll share my marketing experience for my second book as it unfolds. I hope you’ll join me for the next several weeks.

For Book 1, Calculated Risk, I performed all 32 of my suggestions. For some, I could’ve done more and for others I should’ve done less. I still recommend reading the 32 marketing ideas, because many were valuable.

Benefits Gained from Promoting Book 1

• Through purchasing Facebook ads, I better defined my audience from the ages and sexes of the people who clicked on my ads. Knowing my audience will help for Book 2 ads.

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• I accomplished much promotion setup work. For example, I have a website; I’ve joined social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; and I’ve set up my Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads author pages. For Book 2, I will only need to update information at these places.

• I learned that romances don’t sell well at fairs and festivals, unless they are book fairs attended by readers. See my post on fairs and festivals.

• At bookstore signings and fairs, I learned it’s important not to sit behind a table, but to stand, pass out bookmarks, and engage people about what they like and need, and less about my books. For example, a woman interested in writing gave me her email address, and I sent her information on a local writers’ group. She’s on my list to email about Book 2.

• I discovered which promotion tasks were worthwhile, even if some were uncomfortable for this introvert.

Book 2 Tasks I’ve Done So Far

•I sent out PDF’s of the book to 6 possible endorsers and obtained 2 authors able to read the book and write endorsements. Many authors want to help, but they’re up against deadlines.

• I grabbed a fifteen-minute appointment with the CEO of a publishing company at a writer’s conference. Believing online promoting is more successful than traditional marketing efforts, he recommended I spend my time and money on online ads and getting Amazon reviews quickly.

• According to the CEO’s recommendations, I researched several online promotion options. My husband and I met and decided which I would invest money and time in. I’ll mention them in upcoming posts.

• I setup my marketing Excel spreadsheet to enter promotion tasks, deadlines, requirements, and progress.

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• For my local book launch party (it’s not all about online presence): I’ve enlisted helpers, set up a meeting with them, and reserved the party place.

• I signed up to write a guest post, do an interview, or be spotlighted on 6 blogs. I’ve drafted two.

• Drafted email content to recruit potential book influencers. I’ve listed 28 people.

• I received my book cover recently. This opens up my ability to start working on several promotion projects.

As I record my efforts and progress for Book 2, Gift of the Magpie, in upcoming posts, I’ll include tips and hope you’ll follow along and share your tips and thoughts too.

Diary of a book marketing experience: promotion activities and progress. Click to tweet.

What are the promotion activities you enjoy and which do you dread? Why?

Writing Queries That Get Read

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My guest today is managing and acquiring editor Jennifer Slattery. Jennifer gives us insights into the query letters writers must construct to sell their works. At the end of her post, check out her new book Healing Love.

Jennifer: Most of us spend months if not years writing then perfecting a novel then pop off a query, our stories first introduction to professionals, in ten or so minutes. For some reason many of us have come to believe this is a skill we inherently lack and will never quite master, but I disagree. We’re communicators—that’s what we do. And like with any other element of the craft, we can learn to write strong, effective queries that get read—and perhaps even warrant an invitation to submit a manuscript.

Make it personal.

In other words, let the agent or editor know why you chose to query them and they’d be interested in your project.

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No one likes to be a part of mass emails or to feel like they’re simply one of several dozen professionals you’ve contacted. This has nothing to do with pride. Rather, it’s an issue of effective time management. More often than not, mass email queries are sent by writers who didn’t take time to research recipients. Therefore, they usually miss the mark. These authors pitch memoirs to editors of romance. They send high fantasy projects to those looking for marriage and family pieces.

Often, such queries provide a strong and lasting impression—a negative one. The better option: take time to find out who wants what you’re writing. If you’re not sure, ask. I would much rather spend my time responding to someone looking for writer’s guidelines than trudging through an inbox full of irrelevant material.

Keep it concise.

Let the agent or editor know, right up from, your genre, word count, if it’s complete, and if you have or are submitting it elsewhere. You can do all that in one sentence, two tops. Here’s an example from a query I sent out years ago for what became my fourth release:

I’m writing to introduce you to my 91,600 word, multiple submission, women’s inspirational fiction, Breaking Free. 

Up your queries “bam-grab-me” component.

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Yes, a query is an email, in essence, a letter. And yes, it’s important to tell the editor or agent all the pertinent details regarding our projects, but we don’t want to bore them in the process. As with almost anything we write, our story premise must grab our reader and shake the cobwebs from their brain. (This is exponentially true for agents and editors who may have already spent hours-upon-hours sifting through gunk before getting to your gem.)

This is where you’ll want to practice writing 75-to-150 word back cover blurbs. Strong blurbs (or pitch paragraphs) set up the tension for your novel, tell us what’s at stake, and reveal genre, tone and the author’s voice.

In other words, it’s not something one can pop off in an afternoon. It’s always a good idea to sift one’s blurbs through a handful of critique partners before sending them out to industry professionals.

Sound daunting? I hear you. I haven’t met a writer yet who enjoys writing back cover copy. But if we’re going to spend months perfecting that novel, it only makes sense that we’ll also invest the necessary time to make sure it gets read.

Querying can be intimidating and stressful. Not only must one embrace risk by sending their work out, but they also must present the hook of their story in less than a page, and present themselves well. But like with anything else, this is a skill we can learn, if we’ll but invest the time. Plus, with each query, the writing becomes that much stronger and the process that much easier.

What would you add to my list?

Strong book queries tell what’s at stake and reveal genre, tone & author’s voice. Click to tweet.

Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com

A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

 

Buy Link 

Goodreads link 

Spin a Plot from One Story Element

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Are your story ideas starting to sound alike? Have your stories become the same plot with fill-in-the-blanks for such elements as:

  • character’s career,
  • the opening line,
  • the props, and
  • the title?

What if you could start with one story element that’s clever, quirky, funny, and/or mysterious—something that is so fresh that it’ll lead you into a reader-grabbing plot?

To show you what I mean, I’ll give examples from my experience.

Character’s Career

 

I majored in math, but never planned to become an actuary. But once in the profession, people drawn to the career fascinated me. People outside the department didn’t understand actuaries, so the jokes and jibes about actuaries’ peculiarities spread. Over the years, I collected jokes and amusing true-life stories about actuaries from my own observations.

I wanted to write a novel that centered on an actuary. So, I pulled together the truths, quirks, social phenomena, and funny situations I’d learned concerning actuaries. I wrote the love story between a male actuary and a woman his extreme opposite—a marketing rep. What I knew about actuaries wrote the story for me—the plot and the conflicts. I didn’t include all the jokes and idiosyncrasies I’d collected, but they helped me know how my private, introverted, analytical actuary would act and react in the kinds of circumstances the guy would fall into.

This novel was my first published novel, Calculated Risk.

Opening Line

 

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While daydreaming, an opening line flashed. With the many interruptions to her already loaded schedule, when would she find the time to kill Rita? I entered it in an opening-line contest, and it won. I subsequently wrote, “Plotting Murder,” and Christian Fiction Online Magazine published the short story. Because I focused the plot and characters on that line, it forced me to construct something unique and mysterious to keep my audience guessing until the end about why a housewife would have this unique problem.

Props

 

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Researching an idea for a romantic suspense story, I discovered a company that makes lifelike silicon masks that are exact replicas of people. I wrote a story about criminals manufacturing these masks. They sold the service of performing damaging actions while wearing the masks that would ruin or setup lucrative blackmail situations against politicians, CEOs, celebrities, and the like.

Another suspense idea came from authentic actuarial data I’d mined concerning multiple births. I used the phenomenon I’d uncovered in a story about a criminal ring headed by an obstetrician.

Although the rejection letters I received complimented my story ideas, I had not yet learned to write well.

Title

In another daydreaming instance, O. Henry’s title “Gift of the Magi” entered my thoughts. Immediately, magpie inserted itself. I wondered what a story titled, “Gift of the Magpie,” would be about. After brainstorming what the magpie could be other than a bird and a storyline different than O. Henry’s, I wrote a short story. The plot grew and demanded to be a book. My second inspirational romance, Gift of the Magpie, releases mid August.

Write a unique story starting with a clever, quirky, or mysterious story element. Click to tweet.

What story element have you centered an engaging story around?