[Western Fictioneers has asked me to do a blog on the first Monday of every month. Here is the entry published today on their website.]
In my January 5 blog, I promised this first Monday of the month 2015 blog will follow (1) a year of marketing efforts: Marketing Plan, Implementation, and Results; and, (2) your (to the extent you share them via e-mail or comment) and my marketing efforts over the year.
Results: Right off the bat, I realize that while results are the product (we hope) of plan and implementation, they need to come first, now that we are up and running. The reason is something I did not mention last month, but that came up immediately because my January blog resulted in 4 comments, 1 e-mail exchange, and 1 request for a blog-interview.
In that blog-interview, Tom Rizzo’s Story Teller 7, I answered, “In work, there is a ‘Production Function.’ All it means is if you do something you get a result. For example, if you write 500 words a day, you get a novel. So, just that one blog led to four comments, one exchange of e-mails, and this opportunity.”
Another result was the very substantial contribution by Charlie Steel to the implementation paragraph below.
In short, what we are all trying to do is increase our production function!
Marketing Plan: The question that continues to plague me, and I think other writers, is simply: How do you create a marketing plan that really works? There are too many things to do and you cannot really know how any of them work for you until you do them — a state of affairs that leads inevitably to wasted time and frustration. The alternative is to do nothing, a marketing plan that inevitably leads to … doing nothing. So, one of the things we do is look for help.
I am going to indulge in a one-time-only bout of complaining. This month I am going to complain about the rather large industry out there that is designed to make money off writers in the guise of pretending to help writers make money. We are all mature, consenting adults, so we are responsible for our own protection. In the end, I am suggesting nothing more than caution and prudence more for the use of your time than even for the waste of your money. I have long since been suspicious that my subscription to Writer’s Digest was nothing more than an annual payment for the privilege of receiving solicitations.
So, For One Month Only, like one of their screaming solicitations that arrive daily in my e-mail inbox, I thought I would test my perception for purposes of talking about where to turn to help for marketing plans. I have accumulated and segregated all the e-mails I have received from Writer’s Digest or one of its affiliates or partners since 1:00 am Central Standard Time, January 5, 2015. I complete this analysis at 6 pm Sunday night, 2/1/15, and attest to you —what was that I said about arrive daily? Twenty-eight days, counting the day of publication, and 73 e-mails have arrived. 58 of them held as their subject a solicitation. 10 held useful content in the subject line and on the first page right up to a Read More that when clicked, you guessed it, offered to sell you something. 5 held out a proposed service that, once you clicked past the subject heading, became a solicitation.
In the spirit of soliciting real interaction with this blog, I invite all of you to send me some tangible help you have received from Writer’s Digest in your career – and at what cost. For example the analysis mentioned above cost me 28 days of surveillance and two hours of analysis. Good value for this blog, but only once! You do not need to mention whether or not you paid cash for it, just note the kind of help they provided you.
I will start it off. I bought one of their best sellers, Create Your Writer Platform, $16.99 plus shipping. Rather than focus on my negative reaction to being talked down to, I will focus on my positive reaction to Duke Pennell’s enormously instructive and useful admonition: “A writer needs fans.” Aha! That’s what they mean by a platform.
Implementation: I admit it I am looking for an agent. While I am trying to figure out how to maximize the productivity of my search, I have joined Query Tracker. I will report on how useful that turns out to be.
The most interesting how- to-get-things-done discussion this month comes from an exchange with Charlie Steel resulting from last month’s blog. Charlie commented: “Edward, …My best books sales have always been a free presentation about the WEST, a slide show, a reading of a story, and finally a sing-along of Western songs with me playing guitar. (At a senior resort, housing, library, clubs, etc.)”
My response: “Charlie, One of the problems I am trying to identify is how to get the event set up. Would you send me an e-mail about how you cause ‘free presentations’ to occur.”
Charlie did just that in step-by-step detail that he also asked me to keep confidential as he considers it proprietary. In my promise to do so, I asked him, however, if I could quote what I thought was the most significant – and not proprietary – insight. He agreed:
“My experience. Before speaking, very few in the audience would buy a book. After being entertained and making a connection with the audience, well over 70% buy a book.
Booking an engagement is the MOST difficult part of doing a FREE speaking engagement. (…)
Prepare a promotion letter, offering to make a free speech at the church, senior citizen housing, veteran group, library, etc., where you wish to speak. And, mail them out. Include email and telephone number. Or, solicit speaking engagements with a cold phone call to the facility but make sure to have prepared statement.”
What I read in Charlie’s formula is simple: Do the damn work! I must admit I get depressed and exhausted, so these words are somewhat inspiring to me.
An actual plan that got implemented during the month: Pen-L Publishing’s Kindle Promotion. Pen-L dropped the Kindle price to 99 cents on all books in their catalogue and asked Pen-L authors to promote them down their channels. They are willing to share with us that “seventeen days into our promotion, of the 40 titles included in the sale, 30 have attracted buyers who purchased 358 Kindles since January 14. The range per title is 1 to 30, with one outlier who did a paid promotion and simultaneously promoted at two sites (eReaderNewsToday and Kindle Books Today) and sold 153 copies.” My personal result was 3. I am still working down my channels. I think sending your love for Valentine’s Day in a tangible way with a Kindle book is an idea that can’t be beaten. Take a look at Pen-L’s page. You’ll see a lot of old friends as well as maybe some new ones. Kissing 10 girls for less than ten bucks is a great deal in my mind. If you like it, you might want to try it with your own books.
It became my personal challenge finally to get something going on Facebook. I still have Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and others to do. I continue to resist them as a time sump, but it looks to me like it is working for someone.