Give yourself a split-second marketing boost

successOkay, okay, “split-second” might be a bit of an exaggeration. But I do want to talk today about a few ideas for upping your marketing game…without spending gobs of time.

That’s the thing with marketing–sometimes figuring out what to do takes more time than actually doing it! So here are a four QUICK things you can do to give your marketing strategy some oomph:

1. Social Media Idea Blitz

We all know a good little marketer posts regularly on social media. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, insert your platform of choice…also, who do I talk to about STOPPING the creation of any more platforms to keep up with?!) But the majority of people are sick of updates in the form of sales pitches, endless links, overused memes and food pics. So what are we supposed to post? Keeping our social media accounts active with engaging (i.e. non-boring) content can feel overwhelming.

To help myself out, I recently sat down with a piece of paper, a pen and the timer on my phone. I gave myself ten minutes to list as many ideas as possible for future Facebook posts. Now I’ve got a pool of random but hopefully fun ideas to pull from. If you’re a blogger, consider doing the same thing for post ideas.

2. What three things do you want readers to feel?

Brand. Taglines. Two words you’ll hear thrown around often when it comes to author marketing. I’m not convinced anyone needs a tagline (seriously, try to think of one New York Times Bestseller that actually has a well-known tagline!) but we all need a brand. Problem is, brand can feel very “out there,” hard to define and difficult to put into action in an actual, strategic marketing plan.

Consider starting here: what three things do you want readers to feel when they finish your book, visit your website, read your blog, interact with you online? That’s where smart marketing begin…with feelings. If you can evoke a consistent, recognizable feeling across all your marketing efforts, you’re well on your way to establishing your brand and you’ve got a jumping-off point for the rest of your strategy.

So take five minutes and ask yourself, what do I want people to feel?

3. Take a tour.

Of Europe! Just kidding. Sorry, my mind’s on travel lately. 🙂

By “take a tour” I mean, give yourself ten or fifteen minutes sometime to check out what other authors are doing. Not to compare yourself and feel badly…but to see what’s working for others, what you might be able to try out yourself.

To really make this worth your while, pick out three authors who are very similar to you. Maybe they write in the same genre or to the same audience. Maybe they’re a similar age or you share a publisher. But pick the three closest in likeness to you and check out what they’re doing on their website, their social media platforms, what events they’re hosting and attending. I promise you’ll come away with ideas.

4. ASK.

This is one of the simplest and best things you can do for your marketing. If you’re a published author, take three minutes to write a note to the publicist at your publisher and simply ask what they think of your marketing efforts, what suggestions they might have, whether they’d be willing to chat about ideas. I actually did this recently and ended up on the phone with my agent, and both the fiction publicist and the marketing VP at my publisher. We had such a great call and came up with ideas I’m super excited about. Ask your peers too!

If you’re not published, then ask some writer friends who might be a little further down the road. Ask questions like: “What kind of marketing activities did you do before you were published? What was the most helpful thing you did? What was the most unhelpful? Do you have any advice for me?”

Most authors will be quick to answer and happy to help. If they’re not, then they’re probably simply under deadline. 🙂

So there you go, four quick things you can do to breathe new life into your marketing efforts. Any questions or ideas of your own?

My best marketing tip: be fun

Well, the title kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

When it comes to marketing, there is SO much advice out there. It’s hard to know who to listen to and what to do and what really works. I mean, sure, I’ve got thoughts. My marketing day job has taught me a lot and I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two during my few years in publishing, too.

Really, though, so much of marketing comes down to trial and error…figuring out what works for you.

But I do have on big marketing tip that I think is applicable whether we’re talking marketing via social media or events or speaking engagements or any kind of publicity…and it’s the thing that sets fiction marketing apart from non-fiction marketing. And it’s this:

Be. Fun.

Seriously…be fun. Your primary goal isn’t to be a resource or provide information or play expert.

It’s to draw readers in to your world…both your fictional world and your real life world. Whether you’re interacting on Facebook or trying to come up with publicity materials like postcards or bookmarks or writing an e-newsletter, ask yourself, “How am I making this a fun experience for the person on the other end?”

After all, nobody says no to fun. Except maybe Eeyore. And he’s a fictional donkey, so I don’t think we have to worry about him.

Do you have questions about adding a slice of fun to your marketing efforts? How have you seen other authors “be fun?”

Create an Awesome Marketing Plan—Part 6: Printed and Bonus Materials

OTM logo--marketing planWoohoo, we’ve reached the final post in a series of posts about building an awesome marketing plan to go in your novel’s proposal. Just to clarify, this plan is something you’re going to put together before your book is even contracted! Once a publisher has contracted your book, you’ll likely take this plan and expand it even further. But the goal for now is simply to wow the agents and editors you’re pitching to with your stellar marketing expertise.

In case you need to catch up on earlier posts first, you can check them out here:

Part 1: Intro

Part 2: Media and Speaking Engagements

Part 3: Internet Presence

Part 4: Libraries and Launch Teams

Part 5: Cross-Promotional Opportunities and Events

Today, we’re going to tack on Printed Materials and Bonus Material, plus I’ve got a quick note about endorsements.

Printed Materials

Yep, when it’s time for your book to release, chances are your publisher will help you out with printed materials like bookmarks, postcards, promotional fliers or posters. Every publisher is different and what they’ll provide likely varies. BUT in this section your goal is to say, hey, whatever you provide, I’m going to a) supplement if possible and b) make sure I’ve got a good plan for distributing it.

So in my marketing plan, I made it clear that I would make in-person stops at local libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, basically any place I could think of that might be willing to display bookmarks or the like. It was as simple as adding two or three sentences to my marketing plan but it let my prospective publisher know I not only had ideas for printed materials, but I knew what I was going to do with them.

Bonus Material

Bonus material is anything extra you can think of related to your book that you can use to promote it. Things like: deleted scenes, fun character profiles, discussion questions, artwork, maybe even a short story or novella related to a side character…anything you can provide on your website or in an author newsletter that you plan to use to help promote the book. Extra points if you’ve already written or come up with this material! But if you haven’t, that’s no problem. As noted above, the goal at this point is to acknowledge things you want to and are willing to do to help market your book.

And a word about endorsements…

I’ve seen a variety of different novel proposal templates and styles. Some include potential endorsements in the marketing section of the proposal. Others keep them separate. Regardless, if you have authors who have already agreed to endorse or consider endorsing your book, you’ll want to include that somewhere in your proposal, whether in the marketing section or as its own section. As an aside, one thing I don’t suggest doing? Listing authors’ names without actually talking to them first. 🙂

So there we have it, all the different pieces of a stellar proposal marketing plan.

To emphasize the note I made above, this is the plan you’ll include in your novel’s proposal. When it comes time to prepare for your book’s release, you’ll likely take each section from this plan and expand on it in detail…coming up tasks and to-dos and even more ideas. But the goal right now is to let your prospective publisher know you’re willing to play a role in getting your book into the hands of readers.

Do you have any questions about your proposal’s marketing plan?


Create an Awesome Marketing Plan—Part 5: Cross-promoting and Events

One Thing Marketing LogoIn late 2014, we began a series on creating an awesome marketing plan for your novel’s proposal. The goal is not only to wow agents and editors with your stellar marketing expertise, but also once published to be able to take this plan and put it into action.

I took a wee break from these posts over the Christmas holiday but I’m back with Part 5 today. In case you need to catch up on earlier posts first, you can check them out here:

Part 1: Intro

Part 2: Media and Speaking Engagements

Part 3: Internet Presence

Part 4: Libraries and Launch Teams

Today, our growing proposal marketing plan is going to get bigger as we add both Cross-Promotional Opportunities and Book-signings/Events.

Cross-Promotional Opportunities

Okay, folks, if you want to prove you’re ahead of the marketing game, including a section in your marketing plan about cross-promoting is a great idea. And why wouldn’t you include this? Many of us already cross-promote without even thinking about it. We post links and share updates about our favorite books and authors. We talk with friends about recent book faves. As writers, we naturally gravitate toward others who write in our genre.

So your goal here is to let publishers know of any existing relationships you have with other authors and ideas for cross-promoting with those authors. For instance, two other Bethany House authors and I write the same genre and our books tend to release at the same time. So we worked together to create some fun romance videos which we released around the time of our book launches. Some other author friends and I have put together a series of giveaways in which we’ve featured all our books–we had more than 10,000 entries in our last one!

So if you have any ideas for how you might band together with other writers to cross-promote each others’ books, go ahead and include those ideas briefly here. OR if you aren’t to the stage yet of having connected with many other authors, it’s okay to let the publisher know it’s something you’re working on. Let’s say you write “foodie fiction”–women’s fiction or romance with “foodie” elements. You might say something like this:

I am currently building relationships with several other authors of contemporary romance, especially authors of “foodie” books. I would like to explore cross-promotional opportunities, including group giveaways or recipe exchanges to attract readers.


It’s hard to get specific in a marketing plan about what book-signings and events you’d like to incorporate into your promotional efforts simply because, well, it’s hard to plan an event when you’re not sure when your books will be contracted and published.

BUT what you can do is let the publisher know you’re forward thinking and have though through the details of planning an event.

Warning: Events can be costly and the ROI isn’t always, well, awesome. I work in marketing for my day job and this is something we talk about often. Events are fun. They’re feel-good moments. They can be successful when done well. But they can also be costly and draining.

At some point, I will do a full blog post on events themselves, but when it comes to the marketing plan you include in your novel proposal, it’s great to simply let your publisher know if you plan to work on setting up book-signings. (Sidenote: They’ll often help with this!) If there are several high traffic bookstores in your area that regularly host signings, let the publisher know. If you’ve already built some relationships with local bookstores or libraries, include this information. And if you have a particularly good idea for a launch party at which you can guarantee a LARGE turnout, go ahead and include that. If I were to write this section for a new proposal, I might say:

In the months leading up to my book’s release, I plan to contact both local Barnes & Noble stores, two local BAM stores and two local Family Christian stores to schedule book-signings, if possible. There are also six independent bookstores–two of which are Christian–in my community, which I plan to contact as well. I regularly travel to Chicago, Kansas City and the Twin Cities, so I’m hopeful contacts in those places might be able to connect me with local stores there.

In addition, I will hold a launch party around the time of my book’s release. I can expect to draw 150-200 people, but in order to expand the scope of the event, I will pair it with an “online party” which will include a giveaway and newsletter signup.

That’s it for now! We’re winding down the marketing plan talk next week with a final post on Printed Materials, Bonus Materials and Endorsements.

Do you have any questions about cross-promoting or events?