Friday, February 17, 2012

The Basic Marketing Plan for Authors Who Have Bills to Pay Too

Okay, so you have some marketing to do. But you also have bills to pay, or you'd like to take the family to Disneyland, or whatever. The point is, you don't want to spend your entire advance (or your hard-earned savings) or every waking moment on marketing.

So let's break it down into what you should spend a little bit of money and time on. (This is all Marketing According to Elana. Feel free to disagree.) This is the Basic Plan, and can be accomplished for under $200 and with about 20 hours of your time.

1. Bookmarks. These are a must in my marketing plan, and they're not that expensive. I get mine designed and printed through SignCity, a company my brother-in-law owns.

Cost: Low $, low time.
Uses: Online giveaways, book blogger swag, fan swag, use as business cards, put in every book at signings.

I've given away 2000 bookmarks in the past year at conferences, signings, etc.

I think you can order bookmarks and still pay the water bill. Plus, they're sort of something readers expect these days.

2. Postcards. These are another must-have in my marketing plan. Again, the cost is low. Postcard stamps are 29 cents, which means you can send 100 postcards for $29. Again, I use my cover art and get mine printed at SignCity.

Cost: Low $, low time.
Uses: Mail to booksellers, librarians, and schools. You can also use your postcards to contact specialty stores in your area where you might have a connection. Include a hand-written note and invite them to investigate your book further.

Last year, I also made postcards with the details of my launch events. I mailed them to everyone I knew, here, Texas, wherever. See, I had an online party, and while not everyone could come to Salt Lake City, they could join me online. I spent a total of $78 on postcards last year. I did have to spend some time looking up addresses and writing and addressing the postcards. The three hours was worth it.

I just ordered another set of postcards to send to the schools and libraries near me that don't have my book yet. And I'm going to use them to contact the warehouse clubs in my area, where my books are not sold. I just invested another $20 and it'll probably take me an hour or two to locate addresses and write the notes.

3. Blog Tour. Generating buzz about your book is crucial. How to do it? Use your review copies for exactly that. Reviews. Sure, it's fun to pass them to family and friends (and to hold and stroke), but ultimately, you want to get the review copies in the hands of reviewers.

Set up a tour, either a few weeks before your release or a few weeks after. (In fact, it's always a good time for a blog tour.) I think the key here is to ensure that you have UNIQUE CONTENT on each site. There's nothing I hate more than going to multiple blogs and finding the exact same content.

So make videos, do character interviews, allow them to ask you questions, get reviews, etc. But make each stop unique and fun, because the blog tour isn't about YOU. It's about the READER and engaging them.

Cost: $0, many hours. Be ready to coordinate emails, physical addresses, produce content, fix mistakes, etc.
Uses: Expanding outside your readership, generating buzz. Remember that it takes on average 5 times to influence someone to purchase your book. Or at least remember it next time they're at the store.

I think if you do just these three things, you'll be well on your way to launching your book into the world with what it needs to be successful. It is my opinion that jewelry, pin buttons, wrist bands, T-shirts, stuffed animals, etc. are fun, but not necessary. If you'd like to pay your cable bill, scratch all that other stuff and go with well-crafted bookmarks and postcards, and put together a unique, engaging blog tour.

The end.

What do you think? Can you do these three things? What else would you have on your Basic Marketing list?

Stick around for next week's marketing installment -- the Basic+Plus Marketing Plan For Those Who Are Nearing Wealth. (Ha!)

47 comments:

Yvonne Osborne said...

Thanks Elana! Who doesn't love a bookmark? Something one can actually use? And I've always loved postcards. Thanks for the tips. Hopefully I'll some day be in need of them.

Talli Roland said...

I am a massive fan of VistaPrint and their postcards and business cards. So easy to make and relatively low cost!

Teasha Seitz said...

Replacing my plan for business cards with a plan for bookmarks because that is simply brilliant. Thank You.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Bookmarking this bad boy, that's what I'm gonna do. ;) Taking notes (at least that's better than taking names).

:0 It's Friday, can you tell?
~ Wendy

SA Larsenッ said...

Great advice. Bookmarking!! Oh, and tweeting. :)

Christina Lee said...

Sounds advice, E!

Natalie Aguirre said...

These are great tips. I'd love to see what you say on your postcards for the different groups you target.

I do think the ARC/book giveaways are a great way to garner excitement for your book but like you said, you do have to stick to a budget. So I'd recommend targeting the giveaways you offer to the sites that get a lot of comments/entries for their giveaways to spread the word and excitement about your book.

Carrie Monroe said...

Great advice for marketing.

A. McBay said...

Thanks Elena! This is wonderful advise. I'm lucky to have friends that own a printshop and hope to do my printing business through them. And my stepdad owns a signshop so I've grown up in the graphic business. Something I've seen is writers getting magnetic done to promote books. Either fridge magnets or the bigger ones you can slap on your car. I have a truck back glass decal of the cover I designed for my book that was given to me as a gift. There are a lot of ways we can use signage to our advantage :)

Kamille Elahi said...

I love the idea of bookmarks in books. Yeah they are cheap but they feel special, especially if they are for that book specifically. I used to have a Harry Potter bookmark I had made and loved using it while reading the HP books!

I've never really liked blog tours. I love it when authors do vlogs though. I spend a lot of time on Youtube so am always searching for author videos on there.

K.T. Hanna said...

I love your advice posts. This one is bookmarked (hell, I haven't even started querying yet.. lol)

Anyhow - I love the postcard idea and the blog hop feels like a no brainer, but I'd thought bookmarks to be obsolete. Until you said to put one in each book you sign or use them as business cards. That's a fantastic idea.

Thank you so much :D

Angeline said...

I'm pretty clued up on online marketing (or at least I think I am; there's always more to learn though, isn't there?), but I'd never have thought of bookmarks. Seems obvious, doesn't it? The simplest ideas are always the best ones.

Everett said...

Great ideas. I haven't done any marketing after getting my children's play published, as I've been busy getting ready to go back to college. However, these ideas are great for anyone in any situation that wants to promote their work

Nicole Zoltack said...

This post is brought to us all by awesomesauce.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I completely agree that these three are uber-beneficial and probably the most affordable. :-)

Kelly Hashway said...

My pub is actually doing some great SWAG for me, which I'm thrilled about. But in the past, I've done postcards. Vistaprint runs specials where you get 100 postcards for free. You pay shipping which is virtually nothing. Love them.

Shallee said...

These are great tips, Elana! Thanks for sharing what worked for you. I'd never thought of postcards to libraries and schools!

Heather said...

This is fantastic! And just when I needed it. How do you know these things?!

Alice said...

great ideas. I hope someday I can use them for my own book.

Matthew MacNish said...

We have some Possession bookmarks push-pinned to my daughter's wall. I think they were the first pubbed author swag we ever got. Awesome.

Patti said...

I so agree with making each blog stop different. Too often I see the same questions and information. Plus I would say spread it out a bit and not have one everyday.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm lucky my husband's a graphic designer so bookmarks and postcards will be really easy. If the time ever comes.

Leigh Covington said...

Awesome tips Elana! I wonder about this stuff. I think marketing is so fun... but you're write. You don't want all your money to go to it. I always love getting people's bookmarks too. One of my favorites. I'm bookmarking this :)

Angela Brown said...

I knew I would love this post when I saw the title. Although I'm far from the marketing stage, educating myself on ideas is best all the time.

Martha Ramirez said...

Love marketing tips! Thank you, Elana!! Very doable.

Any tips on what to write on your notes to libraries and booksellers?

How did you present yourself?

Thanks!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Thanks! I had no idea that bookmarks and postcards were so inexpensive to produce.

It bring me to the question of how an author gets permission to use the cover art for their book (which is owned by the artist or publishing house) in promotion - is this covered under "fair use"?

Thanks for the helpful post!

Christine Rains said...

Awesome ideas! Bookmarks, postcards, and business cards are a must have. If you can find a place that prints them, book templates (stickers to put in the book where you sign them) are nice too. I've gotten soap, matches, pogs, and rub-on tattoos from various authors. A newsletter is a good tool as well.

Marsha Sigman said...

Not this is a great informative post! We could all manage those things...and pay the water bill.ha

Thank you, Elana! You are awesome.

i'm erin. said...

I seriously hope that one day I will need these marketing ideas because I think they are awesome. I'm also happy to say that I'm one of the gals that took your book mark and I still have it. I think stickers would be cool too. Just saying.
I want a hummingbird pic to plaster over my MAC apple.
A sticker like that is better than drinking a bottle of Snapple.
One day when I published too,
I'll make a sticker just for you!

TirzahLaughs said...

I have a box of bookmarks...I was never sure what to do with them. The book they came with--part of a package--was a poetry book and book signings were not part of it's future.

I still have them in a box in my closet.

Perhaps if it were fiction.

And the post cards...who do you send them too? I mean I could send them to everyone I know and be less than 50 people. Do you keep a mailing list?

And how do you pick stores to send the postcards to. As someone who lives in an area where most bookstores are chains and not open to self-pubbed books...what are the options?

Should I mail them out of state yuo think?

I'm just thinking for the future as I wind up my two fiction titles.

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey Elana!!!!!!

This post is packed with info we all are going to need to know.

I love the low cost/no cost/little time. So important. The bookmarks and postcards are awesome. *dreaming of mine right now*

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give back. I hope to do the same one of these days soon.

Angie said...

Thanks, Elana! Great ideas. I need those!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Like Talli, I am quite a fan of VistaPrint, who has made my bookmarks and business cards. Thanks for the idea of post cards. Great thought. I wish you well on your new book. Wish me luck on my new stand-alone Victor Standish urban fantasy. I won't give the title -- this is your blog after all! :-) Roland

Jenny S. Morris said...

You're so smart and thrifty. Love it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm fortunate that my publisher does the bookmarks and postcards, because it's taking all of my effort to do the blog tour right! And all the social media that goes with it...

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great tips, Elana! As a reader, I love bookmarks. I keep the signed ones or ones that go to signed books on a special shelf. I keep track of all my bloggy friends' physical addresses if I've ever sent them anything. Hopefully, one day I will have a postcard to send them announcing my first book.

Can't wait to read your next book this summer!

Julie Hedlund said...

Thanks for setting the record straight on what is really necessary vs. add-ons. Shared on my FB page and tweeted!

Leslie Rose said...

Great advice. I have a thing for bookmarks. After conventions I love going through the bookmarks and postcards I've collected. I keep them on my bulletin board as graphic TBR list. If I ever have the thrill of being published, I'll hit up as many high schools as possible for English class hit and runs.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm another reader/writer who loves bookmarks. Great ideas! :)

Amber Argyle, author said...

I have an awesome banner that I hang when I go to events. My publisher provided it, but I don't think it was tons of money. Awesome for conferences, signings, etc.

Heather Spiva said...

Holy Moly... so I walk away from your blog for a little bit and come back to read a month's worth of amazing things. You are always teaching, always helping and alway using the right words through it all.

Thanks!Your blog is seriously one of the best.

Susanne Drazic said...

Great marketing tools. Do you use both sides of the bookmark? Picture/book info on front and contact info on the back?

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love those bookmarks and postcards also but I think the blog tour is really effective for spreading the word.

Julie Daines said...

Thanks, this is super helpful, along with your panel at LTUE. I'm definitely going to put this info to good use next year when my book comes out.

LTM said...

great tips, thanks, girl! I'm wondering, though, with ebooks gaining in popularity, bookmarks still? Hmm... Although the postcards fer sure. And blog tours, yes.

Good stuff! :o) <3

Magan said...

This is definitely what I needed :)

Melanie Fowler said...

I think these three things are important to do. Thanks for the tips Elana!

Marcova said...

Thanks for sharing this post....
Marketing Plan

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