Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Promoting, Marketing and Advertising, Oh My!

I earned a degree in journalism because I wanted to be a writer. Instead, I ended up spending my first 10 years out of college working in corporate marketing, P.R. and advertising for telecom and Internet companies. Little did I know then how useful this would be as a writer--the universe certainly works in mysterious ways!

Whether you are traditionally or self-published, you have to do your own promoting, marketing and advertising. It can all seem overwhelming, but if you divide it into steps, then it's more manageable. View yourself, the author, as your company and view your book(s) as your product. You first need to promote your company and then market and advertise your product.

1. Promoting Your "Company"
Before you ever come out with a product, you need to let the public know your company exists. Promoting yourself can be difficult for many writers. While the traditional face-to-face methods are still valuable, such as attending coferences, workshops, etc., online networking is critical.

The four most popular ways of networking online are through Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and a web site or blog. You don't have to do all of them, but I would  keep a website/blog and at least one social networking account. Keep in mind the goal is to build a brand for yourself, network with others in the industry and grow your presence. Facebook is good for connecting with friends/family; Linkedin is useful for making industry connections; Twitter is great for finding and sharing pertinent information; and your website or blog becomes the central hub for all your information and where you can connect all your other online sites. Cross-promotion is key in the online networking world.

There is a good  resource that has great tips and advice for setting up and utilizing the online networking sites to their fullest. It is "Publishing and Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author" by Christine Rose, and you can download a copy here.

Keep in mind that networking takes time. It won't happen overnight. But if you do it, eventually you'll build a presence. Just spend a few minutes each day on your site(s), and start off with posting once a week on your website or blog. It's no different than making time to write your book (and we all know how long that process takes!)

2. Marketing Your "Product"

Once your book is published, then it's time to market it, which means getting it in front of your intended audience. Since you've been building an online presence through your networking sites, you will already be ahead of the game. However, now you need to get your book in front of the right readers. You can blog about topics that would interest your readers, join online discussion groups where your readers are or share information your readers would enjoy via Twitter. It's utilizing the same online networking tools, just in a different way. Christine Rose has some good tips on how to do this as well (click here).

Smashwords also has a great marketing guide with 30 useful tips you can quickly and easily incorporate into your marketing plan. And don't forget traditional methods as well, such as issuing a press release to local media, approaching local bookstores and any other in-person marketing you can do.

3.  Advertising Your "Product"

Advertising is necessary to generate and increase sales. There are a number of ways you can advertise your book. This is where your website/blog really comes in handy. You can get involved in a blog tour where you are interviewed about your book (and host interviews with other authors). Giveaways are another great advertising tool. You can give free copies to blog readers, hand out bookmarks that advertise your book, or anything else that relates to it. (I read about an author who posted a contest on her website and then gave away a certain type of pen that the main character in the book used). Many authors also create video trailers for their books on YouTube. Think about what your favorite consumer products do to attract your attention and try to do something along those same lines with your product.

Smashwords recently posted the results of an interesting survey they did on how readers find ebooks. Overall, it’s word of mouth that drives book sales. Of course, these days, word of mouth is in the form of online communication, but the idea is still the same. And don’t forget that word of mouth works both ways. If you want others to refer your book, then you need to refer theirs as well, which goes right back to the very beginning in which you promote your company by networking. I love it when the universe brings you full circle!
I welcome your comments on ways you promote, market and advertise yourself and your books!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interview with Patricia E. Gitt, Author of "CEO" and "asap--as soon as possible"

Today I'm excited to host my first interview with fiction writer Patricia E. Gitt, author of CEO and her newest book, asap--as soon as possible.  Both of these books have great female main characters in high corporate positions and examine the effects this has on the women.

1.  Can you tell me a little about your background and how that influences the types of books you write?

I have enjoyed a challenging career in public relations during which I met and worked with many outstanding, smart and capable women.  These women reinforced my belief that we can achieve our goals if we work hard enough.  Unfortunately, popular novels have been focusing on women shopping, lunching with friends and discoursing on their various love interests.  I felt that these plots, also known as ‘chick lit’, demeaned those of us who spent the majority of our time building careers.  This led me to write novels about strong women in business settings as they try to balance dynamic careers with their personal lives.
2.  How would you describe your writing process?

I begin each book with an observation.  In my first novel, CEO, I wondered if a woman would lead a company differently than a man, or would being chief executive officer of a major corporation change the woman.
I start with a pen and spiral bound notebook and hand write the first chapter.  The next day I reread Chapter 1 and ask myself what I wanted to know next.  This becomes Chapter 2 and the process continues until I have about 10 chapters written.  At this point I key these early pages into my computer.  Usually, the first several chapters of the draft begin as a hand written exercise.

For my newly released book, asap –as soon as possible-, I asked myself how a woman balances her already overscheduled life being a wife and mother with a dynamic career as co-founder of a company.  My premise is that in the process she loses touch with her own needs.

 3.  You self-published both of your books, "CEO" with Xlibris and "asap" through Amazon--what were those experiences like and what were the differences between the two?
I published CEO with Xlibris when print on demand was a relatively new concept.  The experience was an education and the representatives I worked with were extremely helpful.  I do wish, however, I had taken advantage of a professional editor, since the final book contains some errors.  Xlibris released the book in hard cover, paperback and e-book editions.  As for the subsequent experiences with POD, I found that the prices they charged for the hardcover and paperback versions were much higher than those charged by traditional publishers.  In today’s book buying marketplace this is a hindrance to sales.  I have also taken advantage of a couple of Xlibris’ marketing campaign offerings.  While they were also well done, they did not contribute to CEOs sales.  With Xlibris I retained ownership of my work, which was not the case with some of the other POD organizations of that time.

asap –as soon as possible- was published as an e-book with Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Division for downloading on personal computers,-i-pads, i-pods, android and kindle platforms.  In this experience I was fully responsible for cover art, editing, and delivering copy for uploading to their site.  The program enabled me to set prices and parameters for sale.  And, while I retain ownership of my book, Amazon is sole seller of the e-book.   This time I did avail myself of a professional editor and designer for my cover art.  Still, I was new to text formatting and had to upload the document three times to correct things like spacing and color of the text.  These changes were facilitated via emails with the Kindle technical group.  Another of the responsibilities I have is that I am solely in charge of all marketing efforts to gain visibility for the book.  This requires research into the appropriate outlets in the online community.
4.  How have you marketed your books?

asap –as soon as possible- went on sale at the beginning of August.  My first efforts were to send emails to my personal contacts announcing the book and suggesting that they share the attached announcement with their friends.  My next step was to begin to identify and contact women’s websites and introduce the book as one that they might like to share with their readers. I next contacted reviewers of CEO and requested that they review asap
I am in the process of reaching out to new online sources and developing ways to announce the book with a link to Amazon.  Having learned those techniques that didn’t work with Xlibris, I have decided to explore contacts on a one-by-one basis. This process proved highly successful during my career in public relations.

When CEO garnered several reviews, I established a blog as a showcase for the book.  The blog enables readers to click on the book and link to Amazon.  Entitled ‘Savvy Lady’ I recently announced the publication of asap –as soon as possible-. A link to Amazon is located under the photo of the book’s cover.
I have also announced both books to my Facebook and Linkedin contacts.

5.  What advice would you give to other authors about self-publishing?
I am finding that new and established authors are availing themselves of self publishing in order to obtain control over their work. E-books seem to be the easiest entry into the marketplace with downloading to computers, i-pads, i-pods in addition to e-readers. But be prepared to either work with a company to ready your book for publishing, or learn to edit, format and design your final manuscript.  And don’t forget to copyright it and obtain an ISBN.  Unfortunately, all marketing will also be the author’s responsibility.  So if you only want to write, then engage a publisher.  If you want to continue the journey, then be prepared to learn about production and marketing.

 6. Please provide a favorite excerpt from one of your books.

From asap –soon as possible as -

            Crowds of people most dressed in the New York Fall uniform - a trench coat - rushed by, missing her by a hair's breath.  Somehow the true New Yorker could dash around the city with blinders on, unaware of anyone else in their path.  Stopping in a building doorway just down the block, she pulled out her cell phone.  If Brad’s number hadn’t been on autodial she doubted if she would have remembered it.  Closing her eyes, she thought back to the early days.  What was it Brad had told her about his phone number?  Oh yes, now she remembered.  He said it was funny that his new phone number spelled Brad MIT.  Suzanne hit the button for his pre-coded number and silently prayed that Brad was at home.

            "Brad," she shouted into the phone, hoping she could be heard over the honking horns of a taxi trying to drive through a gridlocked intersection.

            "Suzanne?  Where are you, the reception is terrible?"

            "I'm on 58th street.  I have to talk to you.  I wasn't sure if it was safe to call you from the office.  I’m on my cell."  Suzanne's heartbeat was returning to normal.  Brad would tell her how to secure their offices.  He was the systems security genius.  While she was a graduate engineer her responsibilities were to run their business.  She was the marketing and operations half of the team.  Brad took care of acquiring new technology and working with Secure Homes’ special customers.

 Thank you Patricia! I enjoyed hosting you today! You can find  both of Patricia's books on Amazon.

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Self-Publishing is Not the "Enemy"

One of my writing colleagues sent me a blog posting today and I thought it would make a great topic for my weekly blog (good timing!) Here's the link to the post: 

It's about an author who had self-published and later received a contract from a traditional publisher (one of the Big 6) on a new book (one that had not been self-published). When the publisher found out she had previously self-published other works, they demanded she remove them. When she refused, the publisher cancelled her contract and her advance. She claims the publisher considers self-publishing to be the "enemy."

This is a truly unfortunate story and hopefully one that is the exception rather than the rule. There are many cases where authors have actually been signed on by traditional publishers as a result of the success of their self-publishing efforts. I certainly understand that traditional publishers have felt an impact to their bottom line as a result of ebooks. The publishing industry is changing, and everyone--authors and publishers--need to navigate this unkown road.

I would never advise an author to stay away from self-publishing based on the blog author's experience. I do not believe that self-publishing is the enemy, nor does it hurt an author's credibility. I think self-publishing is a saving grace, and there are numerous success stories. I think there is room in the industry for both traditionally published books, ebooks and self-published books. I think that ebooks will continue to grow at an exponential rate. I don't believe print books will ever become obsolete (at least I hope not!) But publishers do need to figure out how to exist in this changing industry, and calling self-publishing the "enemy" is not the way to go.

When an author self-publishes, they must take on 100% of the marketing for that book. This takes time, knowledge and a lot of persistence. I would think a traditional publisher would be ecstatic if they signed on an author who had experience in self-publishing and was ahead of the game in marketing their own material. This would only increase sales of the book, which is a win for everyone! 

If you want to see how positive self-publishing is, here is another blog:

The ebook self-publishing site, (which I love) asked its authors to share their experiences. This blog post lists 32 different links where authors tell their stories, share tips and advice on self-publishing with Smashwords. It certainly reaffirms my belief that self-publishing is a positive step to take--it's definitely NOT the "enemy!"

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why You Should Self-Publish (and Where to do It)

I just released my latest children's book, "Tall Tales with Mr. K" both in print ( and as an ebook (Amazon Kindle store, Barnes and Noble Nook store, Apple iTunes store).  It was a great process and I learned a lot doing it. Here are the reasons why you should self-publish too!

1. It's Free!

Self-publishing has come a long way in recent years. Gone are the days when you'd have to pay up to several thousand dollars (depending upon the services purchased) for a vanity press to provide you with copies of your own book. Now, print-on-demand services are available and ebooks are growing at an exponential rate. Whether you want a print copy or a digital copy of your book, either way you can now do it for free.

With print versions, I have used both and Amazon's  Blurb is known for producing high-quality coffee-table type photo books, but they do have formats for text-driven books too (both with hardcovers and paperback versions). You download their Booksmart software to format your book. It is very user-friendly, (especially when it comes to putting text on the covers and spine) and you can purchase as few or as many copies of the finished book as you want. I was very happy with Blurb.

Amazon's provides you with templates you can paste your text into, and it has a cover design feature to help you design a cover (but I found it easier to make my own cover and upload it. More on creating your own covers in the next blog).  Creatspace did make me purchase a "proof" copy of my book before I could upload it for sale, but they are looking at giving authors the choice to order a proof or not, and may even provide a digital proof option, which would be great. What I really like about Creatspace is that once your book is approved, it sells on, which is pretty cool! The drawback is your royalties will be much lower through Amazon (unless you purchase the expanded distribution package for $39, which I did not) than they will be with Blurb. Either way, both services provide a high-quality print version of your book for free (other than the cost of ordering yourself a copy to keep!)
If you self-publish as an ebook, which I highly recommend and would do in addition to making a print copy, you can do it for free as well. There are services such as, which will convert your book to all digital formats for a fee (about $99 and then you keep 100% of the royalties), and if you're not comfortable with technology you can certainly go this route. However, if you're pretty good with Microsoft Word or a similar program, then you shouldn't have any problems converting to an ebook yourself at no cost.

2.  It's Easy!
Going the ebook route really is easy. If you just want your ebook sold at specific retailers, you can publish directly with them.  The Kindle store, Nook store and even Apple ibookstore all  allow you to do this directly on their sites (and I did that with my latest book by publishing directly on the Kindle store). However, there is an even easier way to go: I am officially a huge fan of Smashwords. They will take your Microsoft Word document (or equivalent) and convert it, for free, into every digital format available. Not only do they make all these formats available for sale directly on their website, but then they distribute your book to a number of retailers where it sells on those sites as well. These include Barnes and Noble Nook store, Apple ibookstore, Diesel, Sony, Kobo and, hopefully by the end of the year according to Smashwords, the Kindle store.

So what's the catch? While you don't have to pay Smashwords anything upfront (they take a small royalty for any books sold, but the author still retains at least 60% and all rights to the book) you do have to invest some time. But it's worth it! Smashwords has a great step-by-step guide on its website that walks you through exactly how to format your document before uploading it. It took me about 3 hours to do it, and it worked perfectly! Within a week of uploading my document my ebook was for sale at all the retailers listed above. Very cool! I did go ahead and upload it directly to Kindle so it'd be available there a well. Formatting for Kindle was definitely more challenging and I had to resort to some personal technical expertise to get it to work correctly (thank goodness my husband is in IT). So as soon as Smashwords completes its deal with Amazon, then you won't have to do this extra step, they'll do it for you, which will be a major bonus!
 3. It's Rewarding!

The feeling of seeing your book for sale on all these well-known sites is incredibly satisfying! If you've spent months or in some cases years writing a great book you shouldn't file it away in a drawer just because you haven't been able to get it traditionally published yet. Instead, publish it yourself and get it out there! Let your family and friends know about it so they can support your efforts! They'll be impressed that you actually have a book for sale on these sites. It's a great way to see what formats you like and what you're comfortable doing. It's also a good way to start building your online platform and developing your online social networking  skills to promote your book (which we'll discuss in a later blog).  Finally, it will keep you motivated to continue writing. Seeing your name "in lights" so to speak is such a great feeling, you'll want to do it over and over again!
--KSR Writer