Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heather Gray: Marketing on a Skinny, Tiny, Little, Shoestring Budget

Marketing on a Skinny, Tiny, Little, Shoestring Budget
by Heather Gray

Selling a kazillion books.
Happy sigh.  Isn't that what most authors dream about as they slave over that first novel?  By the time novel number two comes along, it's a determined sigh.  With novel number three, it's a gritty sigh.  With novel number four, there's not even a sigh anymore.  Reality has set in.
If writing is fun and editing is work, then what is marketing?  Hard work – painfully hard.  At least, that's what I used to think.
I've known authors who have spent over a thousand marketing dollars to launch their debut novel only to wait six months before earning a paycheck with more than two digits to the left of the decimal.  I've also known authors who have spent little on marketing and who have seen their books take off like wildfire.
Personally, I'm not very good at spending big.  It's part of that whole being-an-adult and putting-my-family-first thing.  I know, I know.  It might sound crazy to some people, but I'm not willing to starve my family's budget in order to feed my writing career.
I'm also not a big gambler, so you won't find me buying tickets and sitting around anxiously waiting for my number to be called in the book-success-lottery.
Work hard with integrity and consistency.  You could say that's my motto when it comes to my writing.  When it comes to marketing?  Work smart, not hard.
I keep a marketing calendar, and I plan my marketing in advance.  Because I'm organized, I end up spending less than an hour each month scheduling all my marketing for the following month.  I also plan my marketing all together in a single 5-7 day time period.  While I pay attention to marketing during that time, I'm not anxious about it because I've already done the work.  The biggest perk to this system as far as I'm concerned is that I get to concentrate on writing for most of each month.  Didn't I say it above?  Writing is fun.   It's important to writers – and to their careers – to make time for writing.
I also incorporate several free promotional sites into my monthly marketing plan.  Some free sites offer fantastic results.  Others – eh.  But even those sites that provide so-so-mediocre sales results still offer links to your book and often to your website on their site and in their social media promotions.  Those links back to you (called backlinks) and your book help increase your chance of discoverability.  In the world of search engine algorithms, having other sites linking to your webpage is an awesome thing.  Those backlinks might not result in immediate sales, but they do feed into your long-term success.
Here are some of the free sites that I use for book promotion (always double-check as prices are subject to change at any time, etc.):

There are a lot of other book promotion sites out there that don't charge.  Sometimes it's because they're new and are still trying to build their following, and sometimes it's because they make all their money from affiliate links with the booksellers.  Just remember, some will pay off with immediate sales, and some won't.  A balanced approach between your short and long-term goals is always a good idea.
By the way – if your budget allows it, and you want to use paid sites, too, go for it!

Whether using paid or free sites, though, keep track.  Know where you've advertised and what the results have been.  Having that knowledge will make planning next month's marketing that much easier.  Seriously.  Plan ahead so you can spend your time writing, not stressing out about marketing.  After all, if you don't make time to write, you won't have anything to market.
Thanks, Heather! 
You will love her historical romances. Here's the blurb from her book Queen:

You can't hide from the past.

Queen's world was shattered, and she was banished to a foreign land. Years pass before she dares to return, but what she finds is of little comfort. Greed and dishonesty have festered and grown in her absence. Embittered and cynical, Queen trusts few people.

Owen pursues a clandestine investigation and finds himself working side-by-side with a veritable ghost, an agent few have seen, a master of disguise known simply as Queen. He craves her trust…but then uncovers a secret from his family's past that could destroy her.

Queen once sought refuge in America and now seeks it in disguise. Owen has always found his refuge in God, but will his faith be strong enough for the challenges ahead? Can he convince her to stop hiding, or is he doomed to become her most hated enemy?

Heather Gray can be found at her website, blog, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Queen can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook outlets.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blog Tour and Review: A Time for Everything by Mysti Parker

Mysti Parker is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series and The Roche Hotel romantic comedy series. Her short writings have appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her award-winning historical romance, A Time for Everything, was published this summer by EsKape Press.

Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University's seven week online course, F2K. She has published two children's books (Quentin's Problem & Fuzzy Buzzy's Treasure) as Misty Baker.

When she's not writing fiction,Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

After losing her husband and only child to the ravages of the Civil War, twenty-five-year-old Portia McAllister is drowning in grief. When she sees an ad for a live-in tutor in another town, she leaves everything behind in hopes of making a fresh start. But as a Confederate widow in a Union household, she is met with resentment from her new charge and her employer, war veteran Beau Stanford.

Despite their differences, she and Beau find common ground and the stirrings of a second chance at love—until his late wife’s cousin, Lydia, arrives with her sights set on him. Burdened with a farm on the brink of bankruptcy, Beau is tempted by Lydia’s hefty dowry, though Portia has captured his heart.

In another time and another place, his choice would be easy. But love seems impossible amid the simmering chaos of Reconstruction that could boil over at any moment into an all-out battle for survival. Will Beau and Portia find their way into each other’s arms, or will they be swept away by raging forces beyond their control?

My thoughts:
Set in the turbulent years of the American Reconstruction, Portia McAllister wants only to escape painful memories and takes on a position as a live-in tutor. She finds her new job has challenges she hadn't expected, including a student who doesn't speak and an unexpected attraction to her employer. I received an ARC of this book and couldn't stop reading! The storyline is engaging and well paced. Portia and Beau seem to face one obstacle after another, and I started to wonder how they could find the strength to continue. Special strengths in the book are strong, believable characters and clear but not overbearing descriptions. Definitely an enjoyable read!

You can find A Time for Everything at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and other ebook outlets.

You can find Mysti on Facebook as well as her website, and on Twitter and Pinterest.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Thank you!

I was scrambling for this week’s Marketing on a Shoestring post when it occurred to me that I need to promote two things! So I’m giving away some things to celebrate

1.     Having almost 800 Likes on my Facebook page, and
2.     The Samurai’s Garden is on sale this week! That’s right, instead of paying $2.99 for a digital copy, it’s only 99 cents right now. 

To celebrate both, I’m having a giveaway. This is a Japanese washcloth. It’s about 13 inches wide and almost 36 inches long. Japanese washcloths (tenugui) are long because then you can grab one end with each hand and rub it across your back! They also roll them up lengthwise and tie them around their heads like a sweat band. These tenugui are popular gifts (kinda like t-shirts) given out by restaurants, hotels and other businesses. I’m not sure where I got this one, but I got it during my last trip to Japan and I’m giving it away now (thus the marketing on a shoestring – I’m “re-gifting”)!

To win, enter through the rafflecopter below. There are lots of ways to enter! 

1.     Tweet about the giveaway. Here's a suggested tweet:
Best-selling historical romance only ‪#‎99cents‬! Get The Samurai's Garden by @PatriciaKiyono ‪#‎Japan‬
2.     Go to my Facebook page and leave a post letting me know you’re entering the giveaway.
3.     Find a piece of fabric the size of this tenugui and take a picture - or have someone take it -  of you wearing it! (Check out this awesome website to find different ways to put it on). Post the picture on your own Facebook page. Be sure to tag me so I’ll see it!
4.     Leave a comment here about something you’ve re-gifted!

Thanks for visiting my blog. Good luck!

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Have a Tissue, Please

Somewhere, I heard that people need to see a name at least three times before they’ll remember it, so the key to name recognition is to make sure people see your name. With that in mind, I’m always looking for little things to give away. I know authors who spend big bucks on giveaway items like pens, magnets and other cool items to keep their names out there. My advertising budget isn’t so big – but I have a huge fabric stash, so when my scrapbooking friend Katie showed me a little tissue pack that she made out of scrap fabric I was thrilled! It just takes five little pieces of material and a few minutes of cutting, pinning and sewing. My only “cost” was for the labels I had printed up from and a little time.

These are so simple and quick to make! Here’s what you need:

Three pieces cut 4” by 5-3/4”
Two pieces cut 4” by 4”

Normally I wouldn't select five different colors or prints, but I thought it might be easier to see the process with different colors.

Place one of the rectangle pieces FACE UP. This is your base.

Fold one of your other rectangle pieces in half the long way, RIGHT SIDE OUT. Pin it to a long edge of the base with all three cut sides together.

Fold one of the square pieces in half RIGHT SIDE OUT and pin it to a short edge of the base. Again, put all cut edges together.

Repeat with the last rectangle piece,

And again with the last square piece. Tuck one end of the last square piece under the first rectangle. I didn't like how the black square looked against the dark green, so I cut another square out of the flower print.

Sew around all edges. The sewing machine would work just fine, but my serger was all set up - plus it's faster and leaves neater seams on the inside.

Turn the entire case right side out.

Fill with a travel size tissue pack. It works better if you take the tissues out of the plastic pack, but for giveaways I keep them in so folks know that I haven’t handled the tissues.

For marketing purposes I iron on a name label with my website on it. That way, readers can see my name every time they open their purses!

I love the fact that I can use leftover scraps for this project. I’m always sewing, so I always have scraps. Sometimes I feel like matching, sometimes I want to coordinate – and sometimes I just feel crazy! I’ve given away a lot of these, so I really need to get to work making more.