Category : Marketing and Platforms

  • January 9, 2015

    Creative Marketing Strategies (a guest blog)

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    Authors are great at pulling from life’s experiences, good and bad, to make their stories the best they can be. When it comes to marketing those stories, however, they often hide under the covers and pray the book takes off with any strategies or effort on their part. Oh, if only they had a magic wand, something creative and fun, to help get the word out about their books. Then the process of marketing could be as enjoyable as the task of writing.

     

    Those of us who are represented by MacGregor Literary are blessed because Chip and Amanda give so freely of their time. They want us to excel as marketers and give us the tools to do so. Their yearly marketing seminar is above and beyond. I’ve attended for three years running and always come away with a thousand ideas running through my head.

     

    Then again, I’ve always been a creative soul. I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb doing a song and dance number. Mom says my first sentence went something like this: “Hey, do you want to put on a show?” Okay, okay, totally lying about that part, but it’s true that I thrive on creativity. So, when it came to the task of marketing my books I decided I needed a unique, fun approach. I began to explore new options: using Facebook groups, for instance. Back in 2012 I came up with a fun virtual cruise idea to market my novel Queen of the Waves. Chip was kind enough to let me blog about it at the time. Since then I’ve used every creative angle I can think of to plug my books.

     

    I complied some of my ideas into an ACFW Continuing Education course titled Creative Marketing Strategies: Innovative Marketing Tip FOR Authors FROM Authors, which I co-taught with Kathleen Y’Barbo and Anita Higman. The response was

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  • December 18, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Should You Take a Holiday Break from Marketing?

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    Amanda LuedekeAmanda 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. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Disclaimer!!! I apologize for any typos! I have a blinding migraine today (yes, those are real things!), but I wanted to get the post out. 🙂

    Every year, around this time, I struggle to figure out what to blog about. I’m so very tempted to slap a Christmas meme up for my Thursday post, or do something easy and less informative like last week’s list of author marketing books. This desire to cop out is INTENSE. And I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    After Thanksgiving, that weekly column you do seems like busywork. Those individuals who have Tweeted you, expecting a response, come across as more things to add to your to-do list. That sale that your publisher is doing on your book doesn’t have the full marketing push behind it that your previous sales have had.

    Basically, you’ve run out of steam because your life is just so full of so many other things.

    This can happen at any time of year; not just the holiday season. The difference, however, is that December is a month of spending. And gift-giving. And things. It’s a retail rush, not only in the weeks leading up to major holidays, but in the weeks following (you gotta spend those gift cards!). So where am I going with this?

    I do believe wholeheartedly in taking time off during the holiday season. I believe in focusing on family and friends and others. But I also think it’s important to have some kind of a marketing strategy in place during

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  • December 11, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Author Marketing Books That Won’t Disappoint

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    Amanda LuedekeAmanda 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. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Need author-y gift ideas for yourself or your friends? How about gifting some marketing help?!

    No, I’m not talking about buying your writer friends a phone chat with a publicist or sending them an AdSense gift card. I’m talking about books! Marketing books, to be exact. The kinds of books that every author wants, because they know them to be helpful, but may not want to shell out money for (because come on…if they’re going to choose between the latest novel from their favorite author or a book that tells them how to work harder, the choice is obvious).

    Here are five books that I’d recommend gifting to your author friends or yourself:

    1. The Extroverted Writer: An Authors Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform by Amanda Luedeke (Currently $8.09 for a print copy from Amazon and $2.99 for digital)

    I figured I’d get my book out of the way, since OBVIOUSLY I’m going to include it in this list. But before you brush this off as shameless self-promotion (which it is), take a look at the reviews. I don’t know many of those people. I didn’t solicit their two cents. But feedback has been very positive! I like books that are practical and fun, and that’s what I tried to write.

     

    2. The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing by various NYT bestselling authors (Currently $11.11 for a print copy from Amazon and $4.99 for digital)

    I haven’t read the whole thing, but from what I have read, I love how chock-full it is of links, ideas,

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  • December 4, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Steps to Create an Author Brand

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    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. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    The past few Thursdays we’ve been talking about creating an author brand. The main points of the posts have been:

    1. Your books are not your brand. YOU are your brand. Your brand infuses your books and not the other way around.

    2. You can be the one to determine what your brand is.

    3. If you don’t determine your brand, others will do it for you…and you probably won’t like the result (after all, most of us want to be known for more than physical traits such as “blond” or “tall” or “old” or … you get the picture).

    We touched on a few of the questions that you need to ask in order to discover what kind of an author brand will work for you, such as:

    – What are my hobbies?

    – What is my personality? Am I sassy? Contemplative? Old-fashioned? Radical?

    – In what areas am I an expert? What are things that I know more of or do better than others?

    – What life experiences have I had that stand out?

    Once you’ve identified what kind of a brand you want to give yourself, how do you implement it? How do you go from being an author, to a brand?

    1. Look your brand. Let’s say that you have skills in refurbishing and decorating vintage pieces. Your fiction always tends to be set in vintage eras (or it focuses on characters who appreciate that style) and so you feel having a vintage brand will carry throughout your career. Now, you could go around

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  • November 24, 2014

    ASK THE AGENT: How can I make radio interviews effective?

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    I recently had an author ask me about radio interviews. He’s working with a publishing house that has a great relationship with a couple of radio networks, and tends to push its authors to do a lot of talk radio. He wrote to ask me, “What advice would you offer a speaker who is suddenly being asked to do a bunch of radio interviews?”

    I’ve got six principles to suggest…

    First, learn to tell your stories briefly. Radio is fast-moving, and they aren’t going to let you tell a five-minute story. Listeners want stories, but they want them quick and to-the-point. So practice beforehand, and have several stories that illustrate your points to share with listeners.

    Second, no matter what the host asks, tell your stories. Look, if you’ve done a book on “saving money to pay for your child’s college education,” you pretty much know what the host is going to ask. With every interview, the hosts are going to ask questions about two things: YOU and YOUR BOOK. So a lot of media trainers will give you this advice: Ignore the question and tell your story.

    Third, don’t expect the host to have read your book. Either you or your publisher will have sent the host a series of seven to ten questions to ask in the interview. Some will just go down the list of questions. Others will take it and make it their own. But always remember this bit of advice: There are two kinds of hosts – those who haven’t read your book, and those who don’t know how to read. None of them will have actually read your book.

    Fourth, be friendly, even if the host is a jerk. Some hosts like to spend all the time talking about themselves. Some want to be shock-jocks and challenge you. I once had a terrible experience with a very popular radio talk show host who wanted

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  • November 20, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: How to Change Your Author Brand

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    Amanda LuedekeAmanda 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. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Last week, we had some great discussion on author brand and how to get started with creating one. The driving idea behind the post was to think about who you are, your likes, interests, hobbies, experiences, etc. and to turn that into a brand. We will eventually talk about HOW to turn that into a brand, but in the meantime I want to address an issue that was raised by fellow literary agent…I don’t know if she wants to remain anonymous, so we’ll call her Agent Example.

    Agent Example said that she has suddenly realized she is being thought of as the “Picture Book Agent”…which really really really isn’t what you want if you’re hoping to make money at this any time soon. It’s like a career death sentence. Especially if you work in CBA.

    How does this happen?! How do you end up with an author brand that you don’t want?

    Remember, you give yourself a brand. You don’t sit back and wait for brand to happen. In Agent Example’s case, she probably wasn’t as aggressive as she could have been about her brand, and before she knew it, she was the picture book agent. Here’s how this works:

    1. When you are a person of interest, the very group that is interested in you will look for ways to differentiate you from others like you. So when there’s a panel of agents on stage, authors in the audience are looking for ways to label each one so that they can process things, tell others about the

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  • November 19, 2014

    ASK THE AGENT: How can I make a book signing successful?

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    I just had an author friend write to say, “I’ve been asked to do a book signing party at our local bookstore. It seems like most booksignings I’ve been part of were a disaster. Do you have any tips for making a book signing successful?”

    Anyone who has spent time in this industry has been to a dud of a book signing party. The author shows up, sits at a table by herself, and fidgets while a couple people wander by, ignoring her. Eventually an older woman hesitantly approaches, looking furtively around, and asks, “Hey… can you tell me where the ladies’ room is?”

    Nothing is as deflating to an author as throwing a party and having nobody show up. The fact is, if you want to do a book signing, the first rule is simple: Don’t rely on the bookseller to get people there. They might send out a flyer, or put it on the company website… or they might now. (I remember one A-level author who showed up with me for a book signing only to find the staff hadn’t been told, there was no signage, and her boxes of books were actually locked in the manager’s office, and he was away on vacation. True story.) So, like in everything else in marketing, don’t rely on someone else to do the work – YOU do it, and have a plan for succeeding. Some tips…

    1. Invite people. Again, don’t sit and wait for people to show up. Go out and invite them. Make it a party. Tell your family they need to show up. Personally invite all your friends – call them, send them notes, check back with them and get some commitments to be there. Focus on inviting some groups, since groups of people will make it feel like more of an event. (So invite your co-workers, your neighbors, the people at church, the people at the

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  • November 13, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: Creating an Author Brand

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    Amanda LuedekeAmanda 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. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    In response to last week’s post on author brand, some of you admitted that you didn’t really know how to answer the question of “who am I?”

    This is one of the many questions that a company or individual will ask when on the hunt for a clear brand identity. They may also ask:

    “What comes to mind when hearing my name (or company name or product, etc)?”

    “What feelings do people have when thinking about my name/my company/my product?”

    “What do they associate with my name/company/product/etc.?”

    “What do I want them to feel or think or associate with my brand/company/name/etc?”

    Many companies will pay tens of thousands for answers to questions like these. They end up with lengthy research reports on their brand, the image it conveys, the climate of their client base, etc.

    But authors don’t usually have tens of thousands of dollars, do they?

    So let’s try a back door approach.

    EXAMPLES OF AGENT BRANDS

    You may think that agents are just agents. That we have no use for a brand, and that there isn’t really anything that defines us as individuals aside from the deals we do and the authors/genres we represent.

    But let me show you something…

    CHIP MACGREGOR

    If you’ve met or are familiar with our agency president, chances are you didn’t just think “agent” when reading his name.

    Instead, you probably thought of his Scottish heritage and penchant for wearing a kilt. You probably thought about how he is blunt and intimidating (things I’ve heard him described as), or how

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  • November 6, 2014

    Thursdays with Amanda: What is Your Author Brand?

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    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. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Random Note: We’ve been having some issues with our comments, so if you left a comment in the past few months, I’ll be going through and responding today/tomorrow!

    If you haven’t noticed, Taylor Swift is creating major buzz with her gigantically successful album release. (You can read about it at the Washington Post, Billboard, or really anywhere else.) Swift quickly used her ridiculous success to take aim at Spotify, a streaming service that many musicians feel is hurting the industry. But let’s get back to Taylor and her reign…

    I found this article about how ridiculously successful her career has been. She is seeing sales numbers that haven’t been seen in over a decade. Her name is right up there with the far-more-gimmicky Lady Gaga…and Taylor is only 24 years old. She doesn’t have gimmicks. She’s not even that great of an actual singer. But she has a brand, and it’s working.

    So where am I going with this?

    It’s clear that the music industry, an industry wrought with the same issues and hurdles as the book industry, is now in the business of making stars. Sure, they still make music, but it’s the image, the brand, the celebrity of a particular artist that seems to drive that industry.

    The industry’s top sellers happen to be appearing in movies (Taylor was in Valentine’s Day and will also be in The Giver). They’re doing ads (Taylor was the face for CoverGirl). They’re doing tv shows (Taylor appeared on NBC’s The Voice and Fox’s New Girl).

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  • October 31, 2014

    The Work of It (a guest blog)

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    Unless you’ve written the best and most original piece of work since To Kill a Mockingbird—and of course you have, darling—you’re going to have to hustle to sell your book. Online, in-person, over the phone to booksellers who’ve never heard of you and question your desire to sit-and-sign at their store. However you decide to do it, it’s part of the job, and you might as well enjoy it.

    From my first conversation with Chip MacGregor, he made it clear he was all about the business of writing. It’s not enough to write well, to craft compelling stories, to engage readers on the page. Like any other profession, roughly a third of your time and energy has to be committed to finding work and selling your product. It was true when I ran a software company and it’s true now.

    Long before I had my deal with Down & Out Books to publish Stinking Rich, I’d decided the best thing I could do for my debut novel would be to tour it. I have the luxury of time and the dollars I’d spend on gas and accommodation would never generate anything beyond a blip in advertising. What I didn’t know was how much work would be involved beyond the hours on the road.

    Pulling together a database of independent bookstores is an interesting task in an era of store closures. With mystery bookstores in particular, it felt like one in three had disappeared since the start of the 2008 recession, coincident with the surge in ebooks and online retailing. Still, most of the people still in the game are deeply passionate about what they do, and many are bound to succeed regardless of market changes. I even met one bookseller brave enough to respond to the local Barnes and Noble closure by opening up last year. She couldn’t imagine her town without a bookstore.

    Booking events, even

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