Thursday, June 16, 2011

THE MASTER OF MARKETING / BRANDING, PART I

I am thrilled and excited to bring you the best Marketing Mentor I have ever encountered. Her name is Kayelle Allen and I have learned so much from this amazing person who is much more than a writer. I can't believe she's allowing me to share what I've learned from her but it only goes to show her generosity of spirit and giving in efforts to help other writers achieve to be their best. I love that she's given me her permission to post a recent class I took from her at Coffee Time Romance.

At her invitation, I'm posting the information below as well as encourage anyone who wants a unique and powerful marketing experience to join Kayelle Allen at http://tinyurl.com/mfrwgroup

THE BELOW INFORMATION BELONGS TO KAYELLE ALLEN

What is the scariest part of marketing? Each of us will have a different answer, but for most of us, it's goal setting.

No! Don't click that back button! Keep reading. Like I said, this is how to overcome that scary feeling. Here goes.

When I wrote this lesson, I thought of a line by one of the most memorable characters in movie history: "It's all part of the plan." The late Heath Ledger said it in the Dark Knight, a film about Batman vs. the Joker. Everything the Joker did was calculated to destroy Batman, and all his actions revolved around that one goal.

In the same, yet far less eerie way, everything we do should revolve around the ultimate goal of our marketing plan. If we know what we want to accomplish, and who we want to reach, then we won't waste time or money telling the wrong audience about our books.

If you wrote a children's book, would you hand out flyers at a biker bar? If you write science fiction romance, would you advertise it in a gardening magazine?

Consider the exceptions to this. You hear about a biker club that is hosting a family day to show the community they care about kids. Your children's book is about a family who takes fun trips on motorcycles. You might be one of their "sponsors" in exchange for a link about your book in their ads. Suppose the gardening magazine is doing an edition on gardens of the future, and your book contains aspects of herbal lore or a character works in a ship's garden. Not only would the ad appeal to the magazine's readers, it might earn you an interview.

These are highly targeted ads. How do you know when these things are happening so you can take advantage of the opportunity? By knowing who your target market is and where they are. That comes from research we'll be doing. Finding the right market takes work.

It's easy to keep doing what we're doing. The problem with that is that we'll keep getting what we've been getting. If we're satisfied with the way things are, why change? If we want more, then it's time to make a change.

Like the Joker, we must have a plan, and everything we do must further that plan. Another word for plan is goal.
There are two simple rules to getting your ducks in a row.

1. Have a plan.
2. Work the plan.

Every dime we spend should be geared toward furthering our goal(s). We don't take out an ad in a national magazine that does not reach the people who read what we write. We don't spend hours chatting on groups that our readers don't attend. Again, how do we know which groups they like?
Research. Word of mouth. Figuring out what other authors in your genre are doing. Studying their tactics to see what works. Trying new angles. And -- yes, sadly -- making mistakes and learning from them.

Your assignment is to sketch out your goal as an author. You'll refine it as you learn, so don't feel it has to be perfect. If you don't have a specific goal yet, this is a good time to make one. If you've already honed yours and know exactly what you want, you are miles ahead.

2.How do you make a good goal? Let's use the acronym SMART. You can read more details about these at this site:

http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.html

S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

Example of one that isn't S.M.A.R.T.

"I want to be a best selling author and have lots of money."

Sure, that sounds great, and I'm all for it. But how will you know when you've become a best seller? Will you make a specific list, such as the NY Times? How much is a lot of money? If you're broke, a hundred bucks is a lot of money. "A lot" is not measurable. It's like losing some weight. Is a quarter pound enough? Fifteen? A hundred? Be specific. When do you want to accomplish this? Before you die (hopefully) , within five years, by the end of the decade, before your ___ birthday, at the end of the third quarter next year? Is this a realistic goal that you can achieve, or does part of it hinge on other people's activities? Can you require readers to buy your book? Maybe, if you write a textbook and it's adopted by a school district or a college.

Here is one of my one-year goals: Research material for, and outline a non-fiction book on marketing for writers by December 2012.

Will I know when I've completed it? Is it time-specific? Does it depend on anyone else's input? Is it something I can do? If the answers to these questions are not yes, then I need to revise. Is it easy? No!

The truth is - nothing about the writing business is easy. If it was, anyone could do it. I've been published since 2004, and I can tell you there are many people I've known over the last seven years who are no longer writing. If you plan to write as a career, you must treat it as a business. Planning is an essential part of every aspect. In marketing, this is especially true.

While it's great to have a plan, working the plan is what makes success happen. Break out your calendar and take a look at what you have scheduled through the rest of 2011. This is May, and the tendency is to think there's plenty of time. But remember in December when you looked back at the year and thought "where did the time go?"

Some of you will be able to smile at this homework, dust off your hands, and relax. Others may look at their blank calendars and wonder how in the world they will ever fill one up.

SAMPLE CALENDAR: http://calendar.yahoo.com/sempervians

Take a peek at my calendar. I make it public so readers can find me. Anything personal is noted as such so it doesn't show up, or it's listed as busy. My readers get birthday emails from me each year, and their info is private as well. This may give you an idea of how to set up your own calendar. Pick any month of the year and you'll find I'm scheduled somewhere. Planning ahead is the key.

HOMEWORK:
1) If you have a book coming out, choose the month in which that occurs. If you hope to have a book coming out during a certain time of the year (summer, fall, winter), pick a month during that time period.

2) Join this yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Promotion_Loop_Schedule/ Every author should be a member here. It's a schedule that shows on what days which groups allow promotions. Ever wondered if you should post a message on a certain day? This is how to find out. There are no chats or messages here except a daily reminder of what events are occurring and where you can post. I forewarned the owner to expect a stampede.

3) Take time to look at the promo group's DATABASE section, noted on the left of the homepage. Pick one of the groups listed there, or in the list for a day when you'd like to hold your promo, contact the owner or moderator (as designated on their site) and ask for a chat, interview, author day, or to hold a contest on their group on a date within your time period. FYI: It's always a good idea to check the group's calendar first. Their info may have changed but may not have been updated on the promo loop. (I sent an update for mine today.)

NOTE: if you have a yahoo group of your own, email the owner of the promo loop and let her know what days you accept guests or outside promos, and she'll add you to her database of authors who allow promo. That is a good way to get promo for yourself. Other authors who see your group listed will ask for time on your group, and then tell their own readers to meet them there. Suddenly, readers who had never heard of you will be aware of your presence. If that person writes in the same genre as you, their readers are far more likely to be interested in what you write. Two birds: one stone.


02 Avoiding Brand X: Creating a Bio
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If you haven't been asked for one of these yet, you will be. When I have a guest blogger I ask for a short bio, links to sites, jpgs of covers, and an excerpt as well as the interview I send. If you're featured anywhere, you'll need one. It's also handy on your website or blog.

Try to create several, with different lengths and different POVs. Aim for at least one under 30 words, one from 120 to 150 words, and one between 50-100. This way, when you get a request for a 25 word-or-less bio, it's easy to do a bit of paring and tightening. If you need half a page, you can add a bit of detail to a longer one.

What do you say in a bio?
I'm a list maker, so here are my 1-2-3 bullets.

1.Your author name. Some write under their given names. Use the name you want readers to know.

2.What you write genre wise.

3.Your interests and unusual things about you. Do you have 17 cats? Volunteer at an animal shelter? Never miss an episode of the Event? Make quilts for charity? Go with your biking club on trail rides on weekends? Eating sushi, and role-playing in World of Warcraft. "I just made level forty, and I'm on to Blackrock Depths."

4.Family info only if you're okay with that. Make it a bit humorous if you like: Candy is married and has two children, and lives in San Francisco with more cats than she can count. [OR] Danielle is refurbishing a loft and spends her weekends comparing carpet and drape samples, perusing antique shops, and letting her Doberman take her for walks.

5.One main place where you can be found on the web.
You can have different bios for different events. I'll share a few of mine so you can see the changes.


60 words
Kayelle Allen's motto is "romance lives forever." She enjoys hiking, movies, reading, and SciFi conventions. A multipublished, award winning author with character-driven, plot-heavy SciFi Romances, her worldbuilding skills include alien languages and 10k years of future history. Kayelle is known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, unforgettable passion. You can find her on the web at her 130 page website http://kayelleallen.com

---

110 words
Kayelle Allen is a multipublished, award winning romance author whose worldbuilding skills include ten-thousand years of future history, a feline language, and tradestandard laws for the empire where her books take place. Her writing lures you inside each hero's head and seduces you with what he feels and thinks. She thrusts you into the hero's heart and mind, teases and satisfies you with his sexuality and sensual joys, and drags you onto the roller coaster with him when it plunges into the darkness of things-gone-wrong. When you and the hero get off the ride at the end, it's Kayelle's hope you'll be back in line when the next ride starts.

---
FIRST PERSON VERSIONS

103 words
I'm a multipublished, award-winning Science Fiction Romance author, with titles in both eBook and print. My worldbuilding skills include ten-thousand years of future history, an alien language, and laws for the universe where my character-driven, plot-heavy books take place. I write about unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion, including both gay and straight heroes/heroines. I teach marketing and promotion concepts to other authors, and believe that helping others helps me. I'm married, enjoy hiking, movies, reading, and attending Science Fiction conventions. I've been a panelist at DragonCon, guest speaker at Outlantacon, and will be a guest at both Outlantacon and Gaylaxicon in 2011.

---
73 words

My motto is Romance Lives Forever. I am a multipublished, award winning author with character-driven, plot-heavy SciFi Romances. My worldbuilding includes alien languages and 10k years of future history. My books are known for unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, unforgettable passion. I enjoy hiking, movies, reading, and SciFi conventions. I am married to my own personal hero, and we live in north Georgia with two banshee-shrieking parakeets, a territorial dove, and a neurotic cockatiel.

---
As you can see, a bio contains the same general information no matter where it's used. Generally, they're changed for tone depending on the event.

Think of a bio as a quick, down and dirty resume for your writing. The facts, with enough of your personality to show your writing style.


03 Who's Out There: Identifying Your Audience
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Who will read your book(s)?

If you're working on a series, you might have a core group. Single title books may appeal to divergent groups. For example, if your first book is a Regency historical, your second is a contemporary vampire romance, and your third is romantic suspense, those are three different audiences. I happen to enjoy and buy all three, but not all readers do.

It's time to take an introspective look at your writing.

Brainstorm Warning!

Who are your readers? Let's say your next book is a vampire romance. The first thing that pops to mind is that readers are people who like vampire stories. While that seems like a "duh!" answer, it's only the surface answer. The deeper answer is "What kind of people like vampire romance?" You've seen this word: demographic. Wordweb says demographic is "a statistic characterizing human populations (or segments of human populations broken down by age or sex or income etc.).

Demographics are a key aspect of marketing. If you don't know who your readers are, how can you market toward them?

I Googled: demographics vampire

Check out these wonderful sites that came up.
1.http://kwhs.wharton.upenn.edu/lesson...e-demographic/(OR) http://tinyurl.com/3eoq5wz

2.http://www.ksitetv.com/1790/supernat...-demographics/(OR) http://tinyurl.com/3rl488j

3.http://www.fvza.org/index.html

Do this with the genre(s) in which you write. Use various search terms such as "who reads ___", "___ readers", and/or the term in quotes "I like to read ___" substituting the genre in the blanks.

Also, beyond genre, what specific items about your heroes and heroines are searchable concepts? Are they firefighters? Navy SEALs? Secret agents? Immortals? Google these terms by themselves. What support groups do you find? Fan groups? Other writers of these topics? Don't be afraid to search another author's website to learn how he or she is marketing similar books. Research is looking, studying, understanding, and noting. We're not advocating theft of ideas here, simply figuring out what the other person does well and learning how to adapt the concept to ourselves.

Look for things in common between people on these sites. You can gain a bit from reader comments. Consider the following items:

•age
•race
•gender
•occupation
•general interests beyond the specific genre (vampire fans who also like books about werewolves, fairies...)
•note other relationships in common

You will be using these items to put together an idea of who your market actually is.

Here's another way to target your market.

Writing is a business. Do everything you can to make it a success.

Connect with groups, forums, or associations within your genre. Do you write paranormal? Western? Mystery? Chick lit? Scifi Romance? Find one that fits you and join it. If you are an epublished author, consider joining EPIC www.epicauthors.com -- Romance authors could join Romance Writers of America www.rwa.org -- SF authors have Science Fiction Writers of America www.sfwa.org and Mystery authors have Mystery Writers of America www.mysterywriters.org Use those links in a profitable manner. What's that mean? Get involved. Write a blog, an article, host a chat, invite author members to your blog, make a mark on the genre by being active within a group that supports it.

Does that work? Wanting to help other authors and become known in the industry was part of what prompted me to create this group. Part of *my* marketing plan states: I want to establish my name in the eBook community as a leader and innovator, and create long-term relationships to enhance my career and life by inspiring others.

Take a moment to brainstorm at least one or two ideas about how you can connect your name online with the genre. Share them with the group.

04 Leaving a Silver Bullet: Your Signature Matters
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Always, always, always **sign** your email and give a **URL** for your site or book(s)!

There are two parts to this lesson. The importance of:

1.Your signature
2.Your URL (domain name)

How important are they? Imagine this scenario... Six months from now, a reader is searching archives of a forum or group online, looking for a book in your genre. They come across an excerpt that you posted. While reading, the reader falls in love with the hero, can't wait to read more, and looks to see who wrote the book.

Is there a URL to your publisher? Is your publisher named? Is your book's title listed? What about the ISBN?

No?

Well then surely, you at least signed the message with your name, right, and your website or blog?

No?

You'd be amazed how often authors commit this kind of sales suicide. Never post a message about your book without signing it, and giving at least your website. Never.

Some Yahoo groups and other places limit your signature to two or three lines. If so, then include:

Your Name
Author of Your Current Book Title
http://mydomainname.com

OR

Your Name
Your Brand Slogan
http://mydomainname.com

Treat your writing as a business. When posting about your book on a chat, an author day, interview, leaving an excerpt, and so on, always always always sign your message with the name you want people to remember. Add your website URL.

People don't often remember how you start, but they do remember how you finish. Finish with your signature.

05 Finding Waldo: Targeting Your Audience
________________________________________
Time to put some of the previous research you did to work. Check this lesson on Identifying Your Audience to refresh your memory if needed.

This is the real money-maker, reader-finder, and tweakable list of your target market.

•How do you find out who reads your genre?
•Where are they?
•How do you find them?

When I say Google, please substitute your favorite search engine. Google is mine. Whatever you use that works for you is good.

1.Make a list of the professions held by characters in your books. What jobs do your hero/ines hold? Hobbies they like? What about secondary characters? You'll eventually make one list for each book, but for now, pick one book and use that.

2.Write down the same type of list for jobs you've held and hobbies you enjoy.

3.Note any items in common between the lists. Do you and your heroine both crochet? Is your hero a firefighter and so are you? Is your dad a cop like your heroine? Jot down the commonalities between your life and your characters.

4.Now... consider who in real life holds these positions or supports them.

Is your werewolf a veterinarian by day and a wolf at night?

Is your sheriff a small town cop who's burned out by working homicide in NYC?

Does your hero fix cars for a living but lives and breathes NASCAR and has a dream of driving his own car?

Consider which groups of people might be interested in this type of hero or topic. Below is the same list. I've highlighted the obvious groups in red.

Is your werewolf a veterinarian by day and a wolf at night?
Is your sheriff a small town cop who's burned out by working homicide in NYC?
Does your hero fix cars for a living but lives and breathes NASCAR and has a dream of driving his own car?

Once you've listed the professions and hobbies of yourself and your characters, and seen what you have in common, start looking for groups in the community that might have a natural interest.

Does the library have a list of readers groups that meet there? Is there a bookstore with a similar type of list? What about the ladies auxiliary for the local sheriff's office? Animal control specialists who work with wolves, veterinarians who lecture at schools, a local wildlife rescue spot, and just how big is NASCAR?

Are you getting the idea? Thinking outside the box should become so much a part of your life that you should begin to wonder if there really is a box! ^_^

KAYELLE ALLEN
http://kayelleallen.com

STAY TUNED FOR PART II

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17 comments:

Jae Lynne Davies said...

Amazing post! Thanks so much for sharing such priceless and useful information.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

This is such a fantastic post, especially for a new author - thank you! I'll need to read it and study it a few times.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing all these ideas. And they think writiting is easy. Ha!

Mike Hays said...

I like the sound of the S.M.A.R.T system, it will definitely cover the whole range of issues with setting and achieving goals.
Thanks!

mistydietz said...

Wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing. Googling demographics...now that should be interesting!

Lisa Forget said...

Thank you for this gold-mine of information!

Lisa

Brian said...

This is good stuff. It goes to show that the hard work starts AFTER the book is published. Thank you for sharing.

Jenna Storm said...

Wow! Great post. Thanks for all the web addresses.

Karen Cote said...

Thank you all for stopping by my workshop. I am humbled by the names I see here and you (ALL OF YOU) represent why I want to better my own career as a writer. Kayelle Allen has certainly given me a leg up and I will never forget that or your comments and support today. Thank YOU. And of course, thank you Kayelle.

Joylene Butler said...

This post leaves me breathless with anticipation and excitement. Thank you, Kayelle and Karen.

Karen Cote said...

Me TOO Joylene! To top it off, when I took Kayelle's class it was even more amazing because of the assignments she gave with her feedback.

J Q Rose said...

I took this outstanding class too. What a generous woman you are, Kayelle and Karen, you are very clever to ask her.

Karen Cote said...

Hey JQ! Thank you for stopping by and yes...you were the teacher's pet LOL. Just kidding. You know how much I love you!

JerryR said...

Wow Kayelle, Thanks for taking your time to share all that fab info, kiddo. I learned quite a lot.

Kayelle Allen said...

I'm honored to help, and appreciate Karen's kind words. I recognize many names here and it's humbling to see how many of you whose books I read find this info helpful. Karen Cote' is an up and coming author, and she has the savvy it takes to be great. She has a heart for helping others. In that, we are much alike. It's my pleasure to help. Those who want to see the original class can find it here.
http://tinyurl.com/marketing-kayelle-ctr
No cost. Just register for CoffeeTime Romance's forum. It's a treasure trove of info and opportunities. This month's class is on creating living, breathing characters!

Again, my thanks to Karen for helping me share this information, and kudos for posting it on such an active and author-centric blog.

Wendy said...

I enjoyed this class too at Coffee Time Romance although I didn't add any comments at the time. The information is wonderful and so generous. Thank you both for posting the workshop here.
Have to say, I'm still hesitant to add a signature to my emails. I'm not that important :)