Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brenda Whiteside: Ugh! Promotion....

30 Days of Promo Goodness continues today with Brenda Whiteside! Although a western gal at heart, Brenda now lives in Minnesota with her husband and dog, Rusty. She’s multi-published and her first novel, Sleeping with the Lights On, was released by The Wild Rose Press in 2010. When she’s not writing or reading, she likes to hike, ride behind her husband on the motorcycle, sit on the deck with friends sipping red wine or gather with fellow Parrotheads listening and dancing to tropical tunes.

Take it away, Brenda....

There are a few authors that actually like promotion but most of us would rather get our hair styled by Donald Trump’s barber. Well, maybe not, but the point is we’re writers not promoters and it’s so hard to figure out the what, when and where of promoting our books. Try to find stats on what works and what doesn’t work. Nada.

So take heart in that because you can do whatever feels comfortable and what works for you. No wrong or right. Here’s my list of the top ten do’s and don’t’s of promotion. Not necessarily in order of importance.

1. Don’t try to do it all. Pick and choose because if you try to join every loop, every social site, print every form of promo – guess what – not only will you never write your next book, you’ll go broke both financially and mentally.

2. Do join Facebook. This is my personal social media favorite. Some authors prefer Twitter. Some do both. I know how much time Facebook can eat up so I can’t imagine doing both. And an editor who I admire prefers Facebook, so that’s good enough for me.

3. Do blog. You don’t have to have your own blog. Find some blogs to guest on a couple of times a month. The best ones are not all in-your-face promo, but they invite readers to enjoy the banter or subjects of interest.

4. Do/Don’t be active on loops. Okay, I’m on the fence here. I belong to several loops and all I do is monitor. I’ll occasionally comment. But if I spent my time commenting on all of them, my next book would not get written. So I monitor, have them on digest, and I have learned so much.

5. Do network. Join RWA, your local RWA or any of the other groups for writers. I know there are mystery groups and children’s lit groups. These groups keep you in the know and will offer more info on promotion and learning your craft.

6. Do be part of a critique group. I don’t believe I’d ever have gotten published without my critique partners input. This isn’t really marketing but then again, it’s a form of networking.

7. Don’t quiet your mother when she wants to tell everyone including the grocery store checkout lady that you’re an author. My mom has sold a good number of books for me. I did have to stop her when she found out Barnes & Noble by her house didn’t carry my book – she was going to buy some and put them on the shelf herself. My point is, encourage friends and family to talk you up.

8. Do have some bookmarks/business cards. If you haven’t published yet, have business cards anyway. Don’t get carried away – just a few. And get them from others in the business. Networking can never start too soon and these contacts may come in handy when you’re ready to publish. If you’ve published, get those bookmarks out there. I’m not a fan of spending money on any other kind of promo. But this one is useful and sought after by readers.

9. Do have a professional looking web site, even before you’re published. If you have the time and no money, do it yourself. I’ve seen many good ones that authors have designed themselves. First study what’s out there so you know what works.

10. Do write your next book and the next and the next. The more you have published, the more you sell. One book is the best promo for the next one.

Thank you, Brenda, for the great promotional advice! Readers, tune in tomorrow for a glimpse into Sleeping with the Lights On….


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Brenda,
Loads of excellent advice.
Many thanks.

Beth Trissel said...

Thanks Brenda. Such excellent advice.

ChristiMcMillen said...

Thanks so much for this blog. I JUST self-published my first book (A FIRE WITHIN) and even though I researched everything I could think of , there is still so much to learn. I have been running myself ragged trying to do everything at once. This means I have only written 2 chapters of the sequel(which is sad). I will take everything you have said and apply it. Thanks again!

Mona Risk said...

Brenda, these are excellent points. I found out I followed them all. In addition, I send newsletters. Not frequently, in order not to annoy my readers. I send my letters twice a year when I have special news to announce. I also carry my bookmarks in my purse. Anytime I see someone holding an ereader I start a conversation about ebooks and hand over my bookmarks. They are very receptive.

wlynnchantale said...

I like what you said about monitoring the loops you're on. I belong to several loops and don't feel so bad now when I pick and choose what to comment on. I've learned much in just lurking, but to answer every post. I would never get anything done!

Jennifer Wilck said...

Great advice, Brenda! My mom and mother-in-law have declared themselves my unofficial marketing vps. After I got over the embarrassment, I realized it's great!

Carlene Rae Dater said...

Great advice! I've heard so many writers lament the fact that they can't find a critique group or there isn't one locally. I always say - start your own! I've done it - several times. Go to the local library and ask if you can put up a notice. They will usually say yes and...most libraries have rooms you can reserve for group meetings!

Carlene Rae Dater

Linda Banche said...

Hi Brenda, I'd agree with most of your points except for a few:

3) Blogging - I have found blogging not useful as a promo tool. My posts, especially the historical ones that require research, can take hours to write, and I don't see any increase in sales. If you like blogging, and it works for you as promo, go to it. Otherwise, drop it.

4) Loops - I think the loops are a waste of time. I don't read the promo on them. Does anyone else? They may be fun, but I doubt they sell many books.

5) Networking is good, but I have my doubts about the RWA. They do not treat ebook authors as real authors. Many of the trad-published authors act the same way. Unless they change their attitude, and soon, they are worthless for the new world of publishing. If you like your local chapter, go to it. But I think the dues are too high to pay for a social club.

6) I don't believe in critique groups. No one can write by committee. While you may make some good contacts, I prefer to keep my stories to myself until I send them to an editor. And I've had more than my quota of meetings at work. Another one will push me over the edge.

10) 10 is the best advice. Write, write, and write some more! You have to have a lot of books out there. The more you have, the sooner you'll reach critical mass and your sales will take off. I haven't gotten that far yet, but I sure hope it works that way.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks, Margaret and Beth.

Christi - exactly the problem. If we spend too much time on promo then that next book doesn't get written and that's the most important promo tool we have.

Mona - good point. Always have those bookmarks with you.

Lynn - lurking is good!

Jennifer - Yes, I had to get over the embarrassment factor too. :-)

Carlene - good info.

Linda - I would never put that much time into a blog. If you can't whip out a 200 word blog quickly then no, it isn't worth the time. The point of blogging is to engage readers, let them see a little about you and keep your name out there. And like I said, I prefer to monitor loops but glad there are those who do like them. RWA is pricy and they are in flux. They may become obsolete. In the beginning they helped me a great deal. We'll see how they handle this rapidly changing market. But I do have to disagree on critique groups. I've never written by committee. My story or my style has not been changed. But the input I get is priceless. It is so easy for me to know what point I'm making or how my hero comes off. Then to hear how others see it or if they don't get it, and each partner may see it differently. They've opened my eyes more than once. Perhaps you write cleaner than I do. I prefer to do a test run before I open myself to an editor that can reject me for reasons I missed. Wish I wrote so clean.

Erin Aslin said...

Thanks Brenda, great points. I would also add that PROMO tips are not universal - some might work for everyone to a different extent, but others might not at all. I think, however, each advice you listed does deserve a try, followed by thorough evaluation – if it works, then great, and should be continued and expanded, but if not - remove it from to-do list :)

Brenda Whiteside said...

Well said, Erin. Promo is certainly not a one size fits all. Thanks!

Heidiwriter said...

Great tips, Brenda! I agree about having a good critique group. I do both Twitter and Facebook and I've linked them so when I post something on Twitter, it automatically posts to FB. I do spend more time on FB.

Love your mom promoting you!! Go, moms, dads, husbands and whoever is in your corner!!