Category : Marketing and Platforms

  • August 3, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference Part 2

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    I’m doing the conference thing again this week, so I’m going to continue the discussion on promoting yourself at a conference with a little story…

    Long, long ago, at an ACFW far, far away, there was a young woman with purple shoes. Now these weren’t just any purple shoes; they were magic purple shoes. Shoes that caused every agent and editor in the land to take notice of this young, unpublished writer.

    Now ACFW was full of blossoming writers–writers with hopes and dreams. Writers who threatened to steal the attention of the agents and editors. But as dusk turned to dawn on the final day of ACFW and the agents and editors went back to their homes and families, there was one aspiring author who the agents and editors remembered. One who stood out among all of the new writers in the land.

    It was the girl with purple shoes. Because not only had she worn purple shoes…her business card and website also carried her purple shoe brand.

    Let this be a lesson to you … branding can help you stand apart from the crowd. Even if you’re a new writer. And if you’re consistent with it…if you let it infiltrate your online presence, agents and editors will take note. Just like we at MacGregor Literary and some editors at big CBA houses took note of Halee Matthews, the girl with the purple shoes.

    What are your ideas for making yourself stand out at conference? It doesn’t have to be a physical trait…it can be a great book title, a tagline…really anything that’s different and unique but still professional.

     

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  • July 26, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Promoting Yourself at a Conference

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    We’re all at RWA this week, and if you’ve never been to a BIG conference, then do yourself a favor and sign up for one. Lots of great information, lots of big-name authors, lots of agents, editors and aspiring writers.

    In short, there’s lots and lots of chaos.

    And I’ve noticed that within that chaos, you have numerous authors who seem to get lost in the mix…authors who are so intent on soaking up every last bit of the conference and attending every workshop, party, and award show that they lose sight of one of the most valuable uses of their time: SELF PROMOTION.

    In an attempt to avoid frantically writing a post and slapping it up in time for my next appointment, I’m going to cut this week’s Thursday with Amanda short. BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you! So, take some time to think about these questions, and then share your thoughts:

    • What have YOU done to promote yourself at conferences?
    • How have you dropped the ball?
    • How have you succeeded?
    • What has prevented you from going all-out with your promotions during conference time?

    Over the next few weeks, we’ll dive in to looking at what published and unpublished authors can do to promote themselves at conferences.

     

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  • July 19, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Promote Old Titles

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    Today, we’re going to gear things a bit more toward published authors and, for the time being, away from strictly talking platform-marketing. Today, we’re going to talk a bit of book marketing, thanks to Tina’s question:

    I once heard MJ Rose say we shouldn’t stop promoting past novels. She even told a story about a guy who promoted his book for two years after a publisher dropped theirs and he sold an amazing 100,000 copies.

    It seems even more important to promote when we are in between novels, but I don’t want to beat people over the head.  At the same time, I feel like I need to keep promoting my writing to keep from disappearing from the industry. Thoughts?

    The simple answer (in my opinion), is yes. You should continue to promote all of your books. Lets talk numbers, here…

    You write a book. The publisher gives you $10,000 as an advance. The book comes out. It almost earns out that advance before the publisher wants to do another book. They give you another $10,000. In the course of one year, or so. You’ve made $20,000. Not too shabby, but it’s still not a solid income.

    At this point, most authors stop focusing on their old book and focus on their new one. New is exciting! Fresh! It’s a way to start over! And maybe earn out that advance!

    But let’s think about this…your first book is almost going to earn out. That means, once the publisher recoups the $10k, you’re going to start seeing royalty money come in. If you drop the book altogether, chances are it will go out of print, and you haven’t made

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  • July 12, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Creating a Website as an Unpublished Author – Linking to Social Media

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    As we’ve been discussing growing your platform, one of my rules has been Don’t start too big. Start small. Give Facebook a try and when you feel you have that under control, then move on to Twitter. You’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you launch author versions of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube all at once. Trust me, you’ll want to die. So focus on one thing. But along with that one thing, you should also have a website.

    Last week, we discussed what type of content unpublished authors should include in their websites, and the week before we discussed why an unpublished author needs a website in the first place. If you haven’t read those, take the time to catch up. I really believe it’s valuable content not only for unpublished authors, but new authors.

    As a quick recap, an unpublished author’s website should have two goals: The first goal would be to provide editors, agents and the publishing world with a better picture of who you are and what you’re about. The second goal would be to utilize your website as a central hub for all of your social media ventures.

    Since last week we discussed Goal #1, this week, we’re looking at Goal #2.

    When you’re just starting out, it can be so great when a stranger or acquaintance takes a serious interest in your writing. Maybe they overheard you say that you’re writing a book, or maybe they saw you typing away at Starbucks and had to say something. Maybe they met you on a message board that focuses on your genre or maybe you buddied up at a writer’s conference. When

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  • July 9, 2012

    Marketing Made Simple — A Guest Blog

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    For many authors, the term “marketing” seems as complex and confusing as learning to speak a foreign language. Fortunately, the process of promoting a book doesn’t have to be complicated. You can use this proven approach to sell more books based on answering one simple question.

    The problem for many authors is that they view marketing as explaining what their book is about, who they are, or why they write. However, this perspective contains a counterproductive thread – the marketing is all about you. The reality is that nobody cares about you or your book. Instead, readers care about what you can do for them. And, they won’t give you their money until you answer their internal question, “What’s in it for me?”

    For example, a non-fiction author is asked to explain why he wrote his book. So, he describes what his book is about or the content inside. A novelist is asked to explain why she wrote her story. So, she explains her writing style, plot line, or characters. These are legitimate pieces of information, but none of it tells readers what they really want to know.

    To make matters worse, authors put these self-focused explanations all over their important marketing materials, such as websites, book cover copy, social media pages, newsletters, etc. Thousands of dollars are spent on marketing. Yet, the most important question in the public’s mind never gets answered: “What’s in it for me?”

    Book readers don’t care about your topic, genre, or background. Their primary concern is how you can make their life better. Therefore, they want to know the results that you can create for them. To avoid confusion, I define a “result” as any positive outcome, life change, or tangible improvement that you create for someone who reads your book. In addition, the description of a result must be specific enough to generate emotional interest. Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them

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  • July 5, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Creating a Website as an Unpublished Author – What Content Do I Include?

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    Last week we talked about why unpublished writers need author websites. The post built a case for the usefulness of maintaining an author site–not only to gather fans, but to entertain agents like myself who may wander over there after reading your query. (Yes, this happens.)

    But we didn’t talk much about what sort of content to include. I mean, what is there to say when you don’t have a book? Well, there’s a lot to say…but we’ll get to that later.

    When building a website as an unpublished author, you’ll probably have two goals. The first goal would be to provide editors, agents and the publishing world with a better picture of who you are and what you’re about. The second goal would be to utilize your website as a central hub for all of your social media ventures. That way, when you meet someone who is excited about your writing, you don’t have to give them your Twitter handle, Facebook link, blog URL and so on. You just give them your website url, and they’ll be able to navigate your social media channels however they prefer.

    This week, let’s focus on Goal #1…

    What you should include on your author website…

    1. An awesome masthead. The masthead, or banner, is the chunk of pretty design that sits at the top of most websites. If you note Susan Sleeman’s masthead, she not only has her author name front and center, but she has a tagline and really awesome buttons that link to her social media. This is the type of masthead you want! One that pulls people in.

    I realize most authors get hung

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  • June 28, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Why Unpublished Authors Need Websites

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    This week (and next week, too), we’re going to talk about websites. We received this great question that got the ball rolling: “I would love to hear why you think an author should have a web site. What can the web tell you that the back of the book hasn’t already said?” 

    It’s pretty obvious why published authors need websites…in an age when celebrities are more accessible than ever through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, authors need to follow suit. I mean if I can Tweet my favorite actor or band and get a response, I should be able to interact with my favorite mid-list author, right?

    But what about the unpublished author? What value does having a website provide if it can’t showcase a published work? Let’s look at the business-related effects of having a website as well as the platform-related ones.

    Why having a website as a published author makes sense from a business perspective:

    1. It tells potential agents and editors that you’re serious about your career. Believe it or not, some authors aren’t looking to make a career out of writing. Sure, they may be very serious about getting the one book they’ve written published, but after that, they’re done. They don’t have any more stories in them. Having a website tells industry professionals that you’re in this for the long haul, and you’re willing to invest some money to make it happen.
    2. It tells potential agents and editors that you aren’t afraid of using the web to promote yourself. Most authors don’t know how to navigate social media. Having a website dispels those fears for agents and editors when considering your project. Even though
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  • June 21, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: Author Book Trailers (a continuation)

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    After the last blog post on using video as an author, I received some questions from a reader. Figured it would be more helpful to answer them on the blog than through email. (If you have a question on any of the platform topics we’ve discussed, feel free to email me.)

    In your opinion, are book trailers effective? Like any online marketing tool, book trailers are as effective as you want them to be. Left to their own devices, they won’t receive many views (unless they become viral hits). But paired with an aggressive promotional plan, they can reach new readers in ways that blog posts, Tweets, and message board threads cannot.

    I’ve encouraged a few of my authors to not think of their book trailer as a sales tool…but instead as a method of generating buzz and discussion around their book.

    Book trailers can be expensive, with rates starting at around $500. Should we plan on that as a necessary expense? No, they aren’t necessary. No one is going to make you have a trailer (unless you promised in your proposal that you’d have one). If a publishing house really wants one, they may even put it together for you. A good rule of thumb is to think of your readership. If you write fiction for young adults, then yes, a book trailer may be a worthwhile investment. If you write historical romance, then not so much. Think about your audience before taking the book trailer plunge.

    I’ve never looked at one to see if I want to buy a book.  Are they put in your website, on Amazon page for your book?  Or are they

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  • June 14, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: The Rules for Book Trailers, Pitch Videos, and More

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    This topic was sparked by a question from Evangeline. She noticed on her own site that video clips and vlogs resulted in the most comments and interactions from fans/potential fans.

    But what are the rules for putting together a great video post?

    First of all, there are different kinds of ways that you can use video to promote yourself as an author.

    1. There’s the book trailer,
    2. There’s the pitch video,
    3. And there’s the vlog (video blog).

    I’m sure there are other avenues, but these ones stand out to me as having the most potential. So let’s look at each in depth.

    Book Trailers

    We’ve all been to the movies. We’ve all seen movie trailers. Book trailers are no different. They’re 30-second advertisements for your book. They focus on the book’s hook and should connect the audience with no more than three characters (hero, heroine, villain). To get an idea of what a GREAT book trailer looks like, take a look at this one for Ally Condie’s Matched.

    This one is quite a bit more high-tech than others, but even then, it’s simplistic in that it doesn’t use live-action scenes. It uses catchy design techniques to create a sophisticated look.

    Here’s another one, this time by my author, Conlan Brown:

    Conlan made that one on his own. Granted, he’s educated in film-making, but still…

    If you don’t trust your trailer-making abilities, you may want to consider hitting up the local college. For a few hundred dollars, I’m sure you could employ a student to do your bidding.

    Pitch Videos

    Pitch videos are 1-2 minute videos that can be used when pitching your book to an agent or editor. A few

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  • May 31, 2012

    Thursdays with Amanda: How do I use Pinterest as an author?

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    Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

    Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ … these are a few of the social media sites that I don’t feel a great need to push on authors. Their usage is minimal, their markets are niche and their options are limited. But while we’re at this whole platform thing, I figured I should spend some time at least touching on these sites.

    Social media sites come and go, and Pinterest is the most recent site to see a major usage spike. Consequently, businesses and brands and marketing teams are just now beginning to infiltrate the site and use it for their evil purposes of getting you to buy, want, need things or experiences that you normally could care less about. So naturally, there’s buzz in the industry about how to use Pinterest to promote books.

    But let’s be clear about what Pinterest is…Pinterest is a site that allows users to “pin” images found on the web onto their virtual pinboards. There’s minimal text involved because it’s a visual site. It’s all about virtual scrapbooking. To give an even better idea of what/how Pinterest is used, I’d say right now it’s probably the biggest fad among brides-to-be. They can have their wedding pinboards where they gather all of the pretty photos they see online…photos they’ll then use as wedding inspiration.

    So why are authors feeling the pressure? I honestly can’t say, and if you’re reading this, baffled by corporate America’s desire to turn Pinterest into a marketing trap, then you and I can have a drink sometime and shake our heads at marketing teams who feel they have to have all of these online presences just because “everyone’s doing it.” Personally, I wouldn’t waste

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