Friday, September 14, 2012

Why are you sitting on a great idea?

Writers are, by nature, creative people. We sit around daydreaming of plots, characters, heroes and villains. But, what happens if you think up a terrific marketing idea yet don't follow through?

Too much work? Okay, it might take some effort. Afraid it won't work? Can't know unless you try. Think people will reject it? Maybe. Or, maybe you'll break new ground.

Scenario: The blog over at my publishing house was lacking. Nobody seemed to be following. I posted a URL to my post on Novel Spaces and was told the idea was not to navigate readers away from our blog. The hope is that they would stay and buy books. (We do have good ones. I know because I acquisitioned them!)

I came up with the idea to do a round-up every Friday of all the places our authors showed up in a week. I supplied the URLs. Suddenly, a negative became a positive. Not only did our authors get to see what their peers were doing, but the publisher and I could tell who was slacking in the promotion department.

Taking the extra step is the one most people miss. Instead of letting the Round-Up sit there, waiting for attention, I promoted it to all my contacts. I pointed out that information on review sites, interviewers and blogs looking for bloggers was all there for the taking. For readers, free book offers, contests, fun articles.

Even the most enterprising marketer would stop there. I made it a point to contact every site owner and personally thank them for hosting one of our authors. Guess what? They want to support Oak Tree even more.

I can hear some of you saying, “Too much work!” But, the column writes itself. Oak Tree authors send me where and when their posts will come up, where their signings will be. I put it in the column. I've already got columns started into 2013. I keep a list of authors and their book titles as well as a list of e-mail addresses of sites that supported us. I guarantee they will host more of our folks in the future. Organizing information makes every round-up easier.

This is how a publishing house grows. This is how authors work together to market. This is the way we make the most of time and effort. This is how ideas become reality.

And, you better believe, this column is going to be mentioned in next Friday's Round-Up. Be sure and check at otpblog.blogspot.com

20 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

For me it is a matter of time and priorities. This is a great opportunity that you made for yourself, and I've done some similar things. Overall it comes down to a decision on what time and effort you have availble to spend.

Sunny Frazier said...

I think a great idea is a terrible thing to waste. And, for me, I'd always wonder what might have happened if I'd explored the idea. Of course, if the idea costs a ton of money, then it was just a lottery daydream to begin with.

Patricia Gligor said...

Love your Friday Roundup! Great idea!

Morgan St. James said...

As authors we are creative people and need to take advantage of viable idea and opportunity that presents itself. Of course, we have time and financial limitations, but if it is a great idea make the time for it. I do that, and I know Sunny does, even if it means "burning the midnight oil." No one will come knocking at your door saying, "I heard you wrote a great book. Can I buy a copy?" You need to be proactive in this crazy profession.

Douglas Danielson said...

What you say is so true, Sunny. I’m one of those guys that like to throw ideas at the wall just to see what sticks. When something does stick, and hang there for awhile, I immediately support the idea with more effort to make sure it doesn’t slide down into the gutter. ‘Get a lot of stuff going that way. The bad ideas always seem to disappear. The good ideas take on a life of their own.

C.K.Crigger said...

You inspire us all to try new things. Love the Friday Round-up, and I'm lucky enough to have gotten a couple mentions. I also noticed my blog and website had more hits than usual. People, this works!

marja said...

Over the years I've tried lots of ideas. Some worked and some didn't, and some ended up costing too much. And I'll keep on trying and experimenting. Good post, Sunny.

Terry Ambrose said...

Dead on post, Sunny. As authors, we have to focus on the high-return items in our promotion efforts. Your centralized post approach is great because it creates a method to share successes and new ideas with a minimum of effort expended by the authors. For my Hawaiian mystery, Photo Finish, I've been searching for new places to guest post, get a review, etc. That takes time and you're helping to reduce that time required. I hope the OTP authors appreciate the help!
I certainly do! Best, Terry

John Brantingham said...

I've loved being on the round up. It's great to contact people who I might not have normally touched. As one of the OTP authors, I can say, I am truly grateful!

Holli said...

Most of the time my problem is that my promotion is kind of schizophrenic. I'll run with an idea, and then on to another one. Sometimes this means I don't end up following up on the earlier idea completely, or keeping track of sites I can contact later when my next book comes out. I end up reinventing the wheel until I finally write down somewhere exactly what I've done already and what is still left to do.

I haven't gotten the organization down completely yet, but I do recognize the shortcoming and am working to solve it.

Holli Castillo

Sunny Frazier said...

Three things, Holli. First, you're right, organizing is key. I keep it simple and always anticipate I will need the info again later, so I put it in folders in my computer, clearly marked. I also clean out and re-evaluate those folders periodically.

Second, marketing doesn't work without the follow-thru. I don't want to be that contact you only check in with when you're ready to sell another book. I let people know I keep tabs on their life and chime in unexpectedly (but with heart!). It makes them feel special--because they are.

Third, re-inventing the wheel is fine, as long as you put new rims on it. Chrome. The kind that spin. Because, staying with the old wheel makes the tread worn and you get no traction. Don't get in a rut with your marketing. You'll get bored and so will your fans.

Liane Spicer said...

Great round-up idea, Sunny. Your authors must love you lots. :)

I have to agree with Charles here (I often find he has already said what I was planning to say). Money aside, we could easily spend every waking moment on the Internet doing promotional things which may or may not help sales. As authors, we also need to write - as well as hold down the day job, go to school, raise the children, nurture the SO, walk the dog, read, exercise, etc etc etc. So it's very important for us to draw a line somewhere - especially for those of us who have serious problems with the balancing act. (I plead guilty.)

That said, I agree that follow-through is vital to whatever marketing we decide to do. I'm impressed at the way you have expanded your network by paying attention to this.

Liane Spicer said...

Forgot to mention...

We also need to remember to use the 'share' buttons on the blogs and websites in our networks to follow and post links to content via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. etc. Can't count how many great sites and ideas I have discovered by clicking on an interesting link that comes up in my various social media feeds.

Sunny Frazier said...

I don't do Twitter or Linked in, but the Novel Spaces URL go on my FB page, plus 7 other FB pages (Puerto Vallarta Writers, Oak Tree Press Writers, Central Coast Sisters in Crime, Tulare/Kings County Writers, Author Meeting Place, Writers and Readers, Writers Like Me, Book Town, Book Blogs and Crime Space.) Members of all totalling 26,451. It also goes out to 75 Posse members, 43 industry people, and last time on the Round-Up, 90.

Sunny Frazier said...

I understand, Liane (and Charles). I'm lucky in that I choose not to have children or a husband, live in a town where there are no distractions, can't drive out of a 40 mile radius (unreasonable fear of freeways), gave up my job three years short of retirement to take care of a dying parent, am now struggling with kidney failure and hoping for a transplant. I live on $1200 a month. Period. I also do acquisitions for free, teach marketing (free), promote others (free), am finishing my third novel and putting together teaching booklets for Oak Tree Press.

I understand busy.

Liane Spicer said...

Wow, Sunny. You continue to amaze and inspire me.

As for the fear of freeways... I always considered myself the most fearless of drivers - here on my little island. Then I met your I-95. *shudder*

Sunny Frazier said...

I wish California had fewer freeways and better public transit. Here in the Central Valley, we're fighting the farmers for a bullet train. Local airfare is so pricey and limited, we have to travel to San Francisco or LA to get out. Plus, we're trapped by mountains--gorgeous mountain ranges, but sometimes it makes me feel like a prisoner, sometimes protected.

D.R. Ransdell said...

To me the best aspect of the Round-Up has just been to know: we're all in this together. I had a book come out a decade ago and worked, I thought, endlessly to get the word out. Now in the electronic age, it's easier in some ways, but different. And having a pool of knowledge helps A LOT. It makes the whole overwhelming prospect do-able.

Kudos to Sunny for helping so many of us at once.

Sally Carpenter said...

I agree with Sunny's dilema about California's dismal public transit system. LA is expanding its subway/train system (about time!) but there's nothing linking LA and Ventura counties except a commuter train that only runs early morning and later afternoon on weekdays. More people could get out of their cars if they had a fast and inexpensive way to get there. That's my rant of the day. PS the Friday Roundup is a terrific idea.

Eileen Obser said...

Such a great idea, Sunny. I'll be looking through these posts each week and am sure it will be a good learning experience.