Monday, February 16, 2009

Uncover Me

Ms. Spitfire is in a secret bunker and will return next Monday.

This week, I'd like to share some book marketing tips I've learned since the launch of the Book Roast blog.

Marketing books is hard work because there are no sexy models posing with books on television or in magazines.

(Note: There are many more lovelies out there, including our own Antonio. We'll talk more about that in a bit. But honestly, I do have your attention, no?)

Tips for marketing books:

1) Take Risks

A couple of authors took a chance early on with this whole roasting idea. (nod to Sara Palin for that sentence construction) Patricia Wood and John Elder Robison supported this concept from the beginning. I think their willingness to try new things is one ingredient for their well-deserved success. Thank you to both!

2) Spread Good Will

Author Erica Orloff has published multiple books in multiple genres, but maintains a daily blog in which she shares writing advice and invites readers to share their thoughts. Down-to-earth and easily approachable, a big Thank you!

Author Stephanie Bodeen is an award-winning author who has taken time out of her busy schedule to post about Book Roast on writing boards and blogs. Friendly and charismatic, she is always upbeat and positive. Thank you!

3) Reach and Exposure

Writer Travis Erwin has a large and popular blog following. His weekly series, "My Town Monday," has literally put him on the map all over the world. This kind of electronic connectivity is valuable in today's world. Thank you!

Author Laurel Snyder is everywhere. She's a marketing dynamo, with a vibrant presence in the blogosphere, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and even Wikipedia! This is smart. Period. Thank you!

4) Sense of Humor

Author Dennis Cass has a sense of humor and knows how to use it. Remember that YouTube video? It was more than fifteen minutes of fame. Thousands of people watched it. He is also a cross-over author because he spreads good will with his site "Dennis Cass Wants You to be More Awesome." Thank you!

5) Antonio
Having Antonio on the cover of your book, or giving your book to his lunch dates is a great way to increase your visibility. For a small fee, we can rent him out. If you can't afford our rates, try the squirrel. His rates are much lower.
((A very special thank you to each and every author on our side bar! Your support is the reason we do this. It's been a pleasure learning from so many different kinds of books, styles, and genres!))

Sometimes it's helpful to look at examples of what not to do.

Examples of Bad Marketing:

**McDonald's Arch Deluxe Burger**

The Arch Deluxe was a hamburger created and marketed by McDonald's with the intent of capturing the adult fast food consumer market, presented as a more sophisticated burger for an adult palate. It failed to catch on and is seen as one of the most expensive flops of all time.

Why it didn't catch on: Adults weren't going to pay more for a slightly better burger.

Plus a scary chef dude in an elevator (this commercial) didn't help.

**New Coca Cola**

On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola, amid much publicity, attempted to change the formula of the drink with "New Coke." Follow-up taste tests revealed that most consumers preferred the taste of New Coke to both Coke and Pepsi. Coca-Cola management was unprepared, however, for the nostalgic sentiments the drink aroused in the American public. The new Coca-Cola formula caused a public backlash. Protests caused the company to return to the old formula under the name Coca-Cola Classic on July 10, 1985.

Lesson Learned: People can base buying decisions on emotion. Plus, make sure you get good focus groups.


Can you think of other examples of good marketing and bad marketing? Does any of this pertain to marketing books?


Chris Eldin said...

Good Morning everyone,

I'm posting a bit early...I already miss Ms. Spitfire, but she'll return next week.

Hope you will share your thoughts about marketing books. And anything else you'd like to talk about.

(You know, now that I think about it, Antonio sent me an email saying he's traveling for the week...)

Erica Orloff said...

Thanks for the shout-out!

I'd likely say that most of those whose blogs have steady followings offer something--advice, a laugh, information--and it's not all promo. Promo's just a by-product if the person even considers it at all. (I don't . . . my blog just kind of evolved).

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the mention:) And although I try to be upbeat in person, it's not always easy. I think that's the cool thing about blogging. You can always put across whatever mood you need to. ( They can't see you with your cup of coffee, all messy hair and cranky, still in pj's...)

Anonymous said...

I think it helps for the author to have a professional looking, regularly posted blog. A little self marketing on the part of the author.

Free book contests, and excerpts help also.

Flash movie trailers about a book don't really do anything for me, though.


Chris Eldin said...

Hi Erica,

Yes, it's true--your blog (which I love) is a haven for writers wanting to learn more about the craft. People come because you're genuine. And the result is good will....

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for stopping by! Yes, but you know we all have a public face. Nevertheless, personality does shine through!

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for sharing! I'm very interested in book trailers. I think they can be done much better, although a few do strike *the* chord (in my humble opinion!)

Word said...

Hi Chris and fellow book roasters. Great post!

For me, this is probably the most confounding part of the game. More so than even trying to get a literary agent's attention - and we all know what a struggle that can be.

I mean - what makes a book get noticed. Did Stephanie Meyer do anything beyond what others do to send her series over the top in sales? I mean beyond hitting her target audience perfectly?

If I ever get lucky enough to land an agent, get a contract, I hope beyond hope that my work will attract the attention of the best marketers in the children's genre. Who are they? Teachers. Plain and simple. They have immediate access to our target and believe me, a recommendation from a teacher will do amazing things. They know their students. They know the books. They know how to place the right books in students hands based on their reading skills and interests. They're very good at this, and by and large they love books as much as all of us out here who write them.

I'll take a recent example. My daughter's lit teacher recently gave her a copy of The Hunger Games. Now, I've been seeing the buzz about this book, had it on my "list" of future reads, even recommended it to my daughter - but she was "ho hum" about it because the recommendation came from me. Just a fact of life. Kids don't listen to parents.

But the recommendation came from one of her favorite teachers so she listened. She devoured that book - (as did I) - and talked it up with a friend that is into books. Now we've got the word of mouth thing going between classmates and that is even more powerful than a teacher recommendation.

So I think, ya gotta get the attention of the teachers, write a heck of a story, and let the kids take care of the rest.

But "how" do you do that? I dunno.

Ideas anyone?

Chris Eldin said...

Thanks for stopping by!!

Interesting post! I agree--teachers have *tremendous* influence, and I hope that if I'm ever published, classroom visits will be a top priority.
Heard great things about that book as well. From someone else's blog...

laughingwolf said...

anyone recall this?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Word of mouth is huge, but not under the writer's control. I mean, I could start it going here and there, but whether or not it continues is just not something I can predict or affect.

I have gotten my website name and thrown a placeholder up there. I still have to add content. I got my name in a blog now since it was available. Threw a placeholder post there as well. My blog that I write on regularly is not appropriate for my reading audience.

The new blog will have details about my books and appearances as well as more appropriate content for my target audience.

So I am getting the online publicity pieces in place for when my first book hits the presses.

I also volunteer with my local writer's organization to keep my networking tuned to a very high frequency.

Teachers are good, but don't forget about librarians!

Chris Eldin said...

LW! That was a stream of consciousness!
:-) Thanks for sharing!

Sarah, as a library volunteer, not only are they just really nice and cool people, but they know the audience sometimes better than the teachers! Ditto with the website and blog--for same reasons too!
A professional web presence is a must though, at some point...

Robin B. said...

This is really interesting. And Sarah, your add-ons were cool, too!
Thanks for those.

Chris Eldin said...

*waves to Robin*

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks for the shout out Chris. I'm honored to be mentioned with such fine and talented people.

I'm with Erica, any promo I get from my blog is simply a bonus. I have a lot of fun with my blog and it provides a necessary outlet. Writing fiction will always be my true creative passion but the love gives me an audience for my words and a interactive audience at that. Having the input and camaraderie with friends makes those long hours at the computer much more doable.

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Travis!
I really enjoy these accidental success stories! It just goes to show that when you follow your true passion, good things happen...

ORION said...

Hey did someone mention my name? lol!
I don't know if blogging did anything for LOTTERY --that really wasn't the purpose of it- blogging connects me to other writers and readers and has made me friends all over the world-
To get a book noticed is a combination of reader serendipity, viral news, Oprah support (lol) and if I knew the the other I'd do it instantly...
fact is you have to spend most of your time writing rather than promoting IMHO...What I think is the best use of author's time? Book clubs...lots and lots of Book clubs both online and by skype and phone...

Sandra Cormier said...

Having my name as the first hit on Google might be nice right now, but it's not selling any books.

The Internet certainly helps, but I will also need the backing of a good agent, a traditional publisher and physical books on the shelves. I don't have that extra help at the moment, but I will eventually!

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Pat, thanks for stopping by! Ahh...those elusive book clubs.... A veritable gold mine...

Hi Sandra, How all of this will pan out in a few years is very interesting to me. I don't think one formula is the only one....

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

Chris Eldin said...

Please keep the comments coming in!
I may step out for a bit, but will be back!

John Robison said...

There are so many books published . . . how do you make yours stand out?

I really think my blogs and online writing have been a big help. I don't know if the blog causes people to discover me and buy the book, but I do think people read the book, then find the blog, and then recommend the combination to others. I think the Interent presence multiplies sales in that way.

peggy said...

Not sure if book trailers really sell books, but they do sell a few. I have all my books on you tube as trailers...more than anything (besides sales that is) It's the comments and emails I get about the trailers. When I'm a bit down getting a great email makes my day. Book trailers do make sales but for me, just a few here and there. I love them though LOL.
Good morning you guys! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention, Chris.

I love to see my name in link.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good advice. Too many folks spread ill will and that just causes trouble for everyone.

Chris Eldin said...

Hi John, Thanks for dropping in--I've definitely seen that on your blog. It's interesting and very nice, especially given what you've written about.

Hi Peggy--Yes! That must be a great feeling!!! :-)

*waves to Dennis*
:-) Nice play on words! And nice to see you 'round these parts again!

Hi Charles--Yes, we all know the anon who post negative things and stir things up. Some will say it's still publicity, but that kind isn't for me!
Thanks for dropping by!

McKoala said...

'All publicity is good publicity' is one of the most misused phrases, I believe. It's often followed a day or so later by 'publicity attempt backfired...'

Chris Eldin said...

The koala should be in every publicity campaign...

Thanks for dropping by everyone!!
'nighty all!

Marta said...

Good marketing and bad marketing? You know that commercial where the couple meets the architect and asks him to design a house around a chrome faucet? Does that campaign actually work? It makes a girl want to beat someone with a lead pipe.

I am considering writing a fauxoir in order to garner more publicity. My general thinking is: brutal parents who are members of a traveling circus that deals in black-market body parts; a secret relationship with Alan Greenspan, in which I assured him that securitized loans were a genius idea; and spooky visions of my dead Siamese triplet sisters, Wanda Jean, Juana Joan, and Woopde-Lou.

The media, they love a story of personal triumph over familial squalor.

Laura Benedict said...

I totally mis-read the Arch Deluxe description to read "adult fat food" Maybe that was part of their problem!

I get very overwhelmed by marketing opportunities and am so impressed with writers who really seem to get it right. (Wasn't Patterson "made" when he was one of the first writers to do television commercials?)

Myspace, Blogs, Twitter, contests, newsletters, conferences, blog tours, bookmarks and other swag, newsgroups,'s all so relevant. One has a hard time picking and choosing. I'm not very scientific. I do what I most enjoy and then try to write the best books I can. My favorite outlet is my blog because I can kind of let my hair down there--and I love reading other writers' blogs because you can really get a sense of their personalities. It's fun to know the person behind the words!

Chris Eldin said...

LOL Marta! I've always hated that commercial. I mean, if anything, they should design the house around the refrigerator..

Hi Laura,I love blogging...for the same reason. It's a sanctuary for me...

Marta said...

Chris, have you considered a degree in architecture?

On a more serious note, I use online marketing because it's free, but it's overwhelming. As soon as you're established at one social networking site, another pops up and is declared the hot site.

How effective is all the blogging, posting, etc.? I have no idea.

Chris Eldin said...

Marta, all you have to know is that *we* are the hot site. Forget the others.