Monday, August 1, 2011

Marie Tuhart: Promotion, but I Just Want to Write + Giveaway

Our first guest author for Cozy's August Promotion Month special is Scarlet Rose author Marie Tuhart who is offering a special giveaway for commenters today and tomorrow! See details at the bottom of her post...

Marie Tuhart can't remember a time when she didn't have a book in her hands. A voracious reader since childhood, she has a TBR pile so big that she finally gave up and rented storage space! Though her family doesn’t really understand the stacks of books in her study, or the way Marie will stare off into space when she's thinking of yet another sexy scene between her hero and heroine, they support her completely in her writing endeavors. Marie is published with The Wild Rose Press in the Scarlet line and enjoying every second of writing on the wild side.

Welcome, Marie! Take it away....



I was talking to another writer friend of mine about all the things I've been doing to promote my books and she looked at me and said “Why don’t you just write the book and forget the rest.”

I sat there stunned and after a few minutes realized that “just writing the book,” isn’t good enough anymore. Let me explain.

Throughout the late 70’s, 80’s and even in the beginning of the 90’s, writing a good book was enough to get you a publishing contract and make some money. Admittedly the business wasn’t as competitive as it is now, and there wasn’t other media that competed against books. Yet, there was a change in the mid 90’s that by 2006 I realize has made an impact even if people don’t realize it. And that is self-promotion.

In years gone by, the publisher took care of almost all promotion for you books (now remember there wasn’t much promotion needed, books were flying off the shelves), even some publishers sent you promo materials for any talk you were to give, or to give to your local bookstore, or to give out at signings. Some author did their own promotional material, but on a much smaller scale than today. Now, publishers are looking for the authors to do that. Authors are now more responsible for selling their books and themselves.

More and more publishers are looking for authors who are willing to do promotion on their books, be it by a website, a blog, participate in a publisher sponsored website or blog, or other media. I’ve noticed a trend in the past few years where if an author doesn’t “promote” herself, some publishers are more reluctant to renew a contract.

While a part of me understand why a writer doesn’t want to do this, as it takes away from the actually writing of the book, I can also see why it's necessary.

There are a few basics things an author can do that won’t cost you a lot of money, just some time and effort. And I can already hear people saying, “but time is money.” I agree with you, just think about devoting a few hours a week. Even ½ hour a day on the some of the basics listed below.


Website

You don’t have to have an elaborate website or a fancy one. A simple website can go a long way in promoting an author’s books. You could get away with a website that has your bio, back list of books and upcoming books, plus a guestbook so you know who your readers are. Make sure to do updates at a minimum every 3 months (4 times a year) to let people know what you’re up to. There are plenty of sites that have free web hosting, and even software to help you create your own website.


Publisher Blog/Website

Almost every publisher has a website now, make sure you are a link on their website. And they also have blogs that they invite their authors to participate in. Some publishers like eHarlequin have reader boards, on-line reads and such that they ask their authors to participate in.

Now here are some items beyond the basic’s and can cost you more time and money.


Professionally designed web site

Not all professionally designed websites will cost you fortune. Many professionals offer their services for reasonable costs. Plus if you’ve already designed the basic site, it makes the update or redesign easier.


Blog

Not everyone wants to and that’s fine. It is another way to get your name out there. But only blog if you want to or if you’re not going to update your blog regularly make sure you say that in your blog, because there’s nothing more annoying to a reader than to go out to a blog that haven’t been updated in months.

Or create a group blog with other writers in your sub-genre, create a schedule for each person to blog. Depending on how many people you have, you may only have to post a few times a month.


Newsletter

I didn’t put this under basic, because you have to cultivate readers before you can really use this tool to its fullest potential. This doesn’t have to be something big. A simple newsletter announcement when your new book is being released, to announce a book signing, that you’re giving a workshop, things like that. And you can do this either by using a Yahoo Group or other list server.


Promo Items

While some people do very elaborate promo items, you don’t necessarily need to do that. It’s simple and relatively inexpensive to do things like:

Return address label with the name of your book, your name, the ISBN and release date. You put that on every piece of mail you send out and think about how many people see it. You never know who reads the books you write.

Business Cards and calling cards. It’s the same concept, the name of your book, your name, ISBN, release date and possibly even upcoming books. I’ve know people who use these to give out at book signings, workshops, and conferences. I’ve also seen people who will leave it with the tip at a restaurant. It’s an easy and quick way to promote yourself.


Bookmarks/Postcards

This is something I've done since my first book. They're easy to hand out and carry with me. And in talking to readers, they like bookmarks. I also find them easy to mail out to conferences for goody bags and to mail to those on my newsletter list.

There are a variety of sources you can use, but remember you have to judge the quality of the product. You want something that looks not only nice, but professional. If you can get a company to send you a sample product that's great, you'll get a feel for their product. Also look at how much you have to provide to the company. Some you have to do all the design work yourself, others you send them the files and they do design for you. The more work you have the company do the more it will cost you. I've noticed for myself, now that I've established a relationship with one company, they are giving me discounts on every order.


Pens

Now these can be a little more expensive depending on what you want. Again, you can give these out wherever you want. Grocery store clerks, at a book store, conferences, workshops, to your neighbors, at the day job, anywhere someone needs a pen.

There are more expensive promotions items such as: mouse pads, key chains, magnets, notepads, etc. But remember the more expensive you get the less money you have.


Contests

Many writers run contests on their web sites and offer prizes. It's all up to you.


Chat Sessions

Now this could come under basic, but I know that some people are not comfortable doing chat sessions. Again, this is a way to get your name out there, talk with readers and other writers. Plus many of the chat session have giveaways to those who attend, usually the participating author’s book. It’s a great way to pick up a new reader.


Workshops

Now depending on your personality you may want to do talks or workshops at your local RWA chapter, conferences, at your local library, hold reading groups at a bookstore, on-line workshops, it all depends on you.


Facebook

Most writers probably already have a Facebook page, I didn't have one until I sold my first book. I did this because I felt it was important to connect with readers and writers. How much you post and what you post is up to you. And remember if you play games on Facebook to set a timer so you don't lose the day playing games and not writing.


Twitter

Twitter can be a real time suck, but you can get good information. Again, this is a place to connect with readers and writers. Again, setting a timer can help you keep on track.


Time

Time is a precious commodity to a writer. This is where your own determination and drive come into play. You are in control of your schedule (most of the time anyway). Decide how much time you can take to spend on the basic items. The initial set up of a website, getting on your publishers blog, sending a link to your website out to everyone, and cultivating readers for a newsletter may take more time, but once it's done, the updates won’t take you any time at all.

You may choose in the beginning to spend 5 hours on Saturday a night between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. designing your website, because the house is quiet, and you don’t have to get up on Sunday morning. Or you may spend a half-hour for two weeks straight. Then you go on to the next non-writing project.

Then key is, writing and doing what you need to promote your books and your brand. Being a writer is not easy and as the old cliché goes: “if it was easy everyone would be doing it.”

And I'm going to add one more thing, writing quality books and getting them out to readers is the best promotion. Never forget you are a writer.

Thank you, Marie, for the excellent post! If you would like a bookmark and post card, post your email address in the comments and Marie will contact you directly. Also anyone who comments today or tomorrow will be entered a win a box of romance books from various authors!

The winner will be drawn on Wednesday, August 3rd via the True Random Number Generator at Random.org. (You must be 18 years or older to enter; chances of winning depend on the number of entries.) Stay tuned tomorrow for a glimpse into Marie's latest erotic romance, Quicksilver Ranch: Saddle Up!

20 comments:

Jennifer Lowery (Kamptner) said...

Thanks for the great post! I am an aspiring writer with a full at TWRP and with an agent. A few weeks ago I started a blog due to a seminar I attended at my local writer's chapter. It was about social media and self-promoting. I have nothing to promote yet, but I did jump on the blog bandwagon and am so glad I did! Good advice on promotions, I'm going to remember this in case I need it someday :)

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Thank you, Marie! Your promo advice is very well-founded! Thank you for offering a giveaway for readers :)

Karyn Good said...

As an new TWRP author I'm busy gathering advice on promotion and marketing. Thanks for breaking it down and giving me lots to think about. I like the business card idea!

gigis said...

That was a very informative post. I picked up two of your books yesterday and can't wait to read them!

Gigi s

Gabby said...

This post was pretty helpful! I'm also an aspiring writer, I'm still working on trying to get my stories started and finished. But I know these tips will come in handy for me someday so thanks!

susan said...

Okay, I am just a reader but I was quite taken with your article here. I have had authors send me pens to help promote their books and I know for a fact the pens did bring in new readers to the author. Bookmarks are great as who can't use a book mark if they read books. I have reader groups and also involved with places where books are the main topics and have helped authors in the past to get their books promoted. I am retired so do not get paid for my time but I love knowing I have helped others find a good author. Being retired I can not always afford to buy books but I try and suggest to those who are working, what is out there. Love the prize idea and that is a great gift. I sure could find space for some new books to read too. ha ha Thanks for sharing the promotional side of being an author to readers like myself. susan Leech garysue@dejazzd.com

Julie said...

Thanks for the informative post! I see a lot of authors go on blog tours whenever they have a new release, and I think that's a great idea to promote yourself and put your name out there. Unfortunately, it is extremely time-consuming (and tiring) to think of a bazillion new blog topics.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Jennifer,

Hope all goes well with TWRP and the agent. Thanks for stopping by.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Amber,

Thanks for having me.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Karyn,

Glad I could be of help, promotion has never been easy for me.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Gigis,

Thank you so much for picking up two of my books. I really appreciate it.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Gabby,

Glad you found the tips useful. I wish I'd known more of them before I became published.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for sharing as a reader what you like. It's so hard for us authors to really know.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Julie,

I too, see a lot of authors do blog tours. I prefer to check with fellow authors and see who has open spaces, and go with what they like to have on their blog. And yes, it is time consuming, I have to budget my time very carefully when I have a new book out.

marybelle said...

I am a reader & I have found some great authors by following links off Publisher sites.

Blogs are another way whereby I have added books & authors to my reading list.

With promo items, I use bookmarks & pens & they do keep the writer in my mind.

Word of Mouth is probably the most powerful tool. I recommend books to friends & family all the time.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

nicci_carrera said...

Wow, thanks for all the info Marie! And congratulations on your new release (Saddle Up). I've read it and love it, just like the first two (In Plain Sight and Roped and Ready.)

Nicci

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Marybelle,

Thanks for commenting, and I do agree with you word of mouth is the best promotion there is.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Nicci,

Thanks for the comment and I'm happy you like my books. It's always nice to hear that from a reader.

Cherie said...

Great ideas on promoting! Luckily, I'm doing some of them already, (good to know I'm on the right track) but the new ideas get me to thinking I should be trying other things. Thank you!

Isabel said...

Excellent post, Marie, I'm saving this one in my files. Thank you!