106-1C: Liars, Tycoons, and Bars, Oh My! (Dorothy Hits the City)

June 22, 2015

You’re at the point of marketing where things get tricky. You may be Dread Pirate Roberts, and you got the girl, but now we enter the Fire Swamp. We have fire spouts, lightning sand, ROUSes, and an evil prince waiting for you.

Let’s get down to honest brass tacks now. In a perfect world you will have blog tours, contests, and giveaways planned before you publish. And almost every writing website on earth will tout these. Though when used effectively they are the BEST promotional marketing strategies, with your first novel IT MAY NOT BE WORTH IT.

Let’s define these quickly, then we’ll cover what you need to make it successful, recap why this could be a problem for a first-time author, cover if/when it CAN work, and then get into the nitty-gritty of how to do it.

Blog tours are where guests write blog posts on another blog. When you are hosting, you may line up a period of time where every day, once a week, or somewhere in between, other bloggers are posting on your blog. You’ll both promote it in the hopes of both of you gaining more followers. When you’re touring you will arrange to write a blog post for several other blogs, and again both of you market it and you hope to get their followers to follow you, and they hope to get your followers to follow them.

Contests are pretty self explanatory. You choose a prize, such as an autographed copy of a book, and there is a challenge potential winners must meet. They may have to come up with a funny caption for a picture, or write a three line story, for example. The actual strategy of a contest is to gain more social media followers and buzz and promote the author’s brand, not necessarily selling more copies of your book. Contests tend to be for prizes better than a free copy of a book (an autographed copy, advance copy of a graphic novel format, a tie-in vacation).

Giveaways are where a prize is chosen, but people must simply enter by adding their name to a list and a winner is chosen at random. It’s less time-consuming than a contest, prizes tend to be small (free copies of the book), and is designed to promote social media buzz and sell more copies.

Before deciding if any of these are right for you, you need to know what you must have to in place to make each work. 

Blog tours are the easiest. When you first began your journey, you built a website, fanbase, and networking contacts within writing groups ( http://noraquick.yolasite.com/the-quick-blog/writing-102-1a-hey-kid-want-some-candy- ). And to do these steps you need those things in place. Do you have at least fifty regular readers of your blog? Do you have at least five friends with at least fifty regular readers of their blogs? Do you find it easy to write blogs that are interesting, informative, or funny? Are you the kind of person who can commit to something and follow through? If you are, a blog tour may be right for you.

For contests…it’s as simple as this: do you have a large fanbase, enough that if your book was available for pre-order it sold well? Do you have enough followers on social media that you can reach one thousand people or more? The big questions is, and this applies more to legacy authors with publishing houses behind them than indie authors, does your agent or publisher feel you need a publicist? If you have pass those litmus tests, and you have something unique to offer, a contest may be right for you. The very short of it is that if you’re at the point where you want to begin discussing a book tour with your publisher or agent, that is the time to have a contest. For everyone else, this is not a good idea.

A giveaway works for indie and legacy authors. There is just one requirement: on social media, can you reach five hundred interested people? If so, a one-off giveaway of one prize may work. But in reality a giveaway should have three prizes, and for every prize you have, you need five hundred followers on social media, so realistically you’ll want to offer three prizes and to do so you must have fifteen hundred followers.

By now you can see where this may be a problem for first-time authors. Unless your first book is a runaway best-seller, ignore contests. Giveaways can work for first-time authors, but you might want to time it to actually promote your second book, the giveaway being your first novel, and above all you must be popular on social media.

Blog tours are probably the best strategy for first-time authors. However, there is a caveat: blogging has become serious business, and to have a popular blog it’s a part-time job at the very least. Writing is a part-time job (ha! It’s clearly a full-time job), and if you like having a roof over your head and food on the table you need to have a full time job, couch surf with your parents, be independently wealthy, or be married to a hard worker who is fine with a sloppy house. So this can be tricky and may have to wait again until you’re nearing your second book. However if you have an interesting subject and gained followers easy, and that charm extends into making friends with other successful bloggers, this can work for you.

Starting there, how do you do a blog tour? Remember this above all else: QUID PRO QUO, tit for tat, I do for you; you do for me. When you have that attitude, most other bloggers will be happy to host you, or tour on your blog. 

Behind the scenes get it set up. Contact and secure other bloggers. Pick a month, maybe one month away or more in the future. Aim for touring on four blogs each Friday (or whatever day you like, one piece a week) and having those bloggers write one piece for you over that that month, appearing on your blog on the same day you appear on theirs. Hammer out the subjects in advance, this is important.

The reason why you want your first blog tour to be spaced out over a month is because you have to market lead-ups to each blog. Whenever you do anything for the first time, do to slowly and carefully. Once it becomes easier, you can do it faster.

Once you have your schedule, in the week leading up to your blog exchange, you want to link to the other blogger, mention them, talk about similar interests, cross promote one another, and introduce your topic.

Try for a schedule like this: 

Monday: Post a blog about a subject both you and your blogger friend are interested in. Mention them and link their name to their website, and mention a blog post they did related to this one.

Tuesday: Know what the top interest of your upcoming host blogger’s blog is (e.g. highly critical reviews of Oprah Book Club selections, literary analysis of graphic novels, or using popular memes to make a 21st century choose your own adventure book) and write your own blog on the subject. Try to make it as interactive as possible to gain comments.

Wednesday:  Follow up your prior post with a related subject that the other blogger covered. Quote the blogger and link to them.

Thursday: Know what your Friday guest blog will be on the other blogger’s site. Have it written already, put it aside. Today, write an introduction to it, perhaps even a Part One where the guest blog will be Part Two.

Friday: Have your blogger friend post your guest blog and link back. All this week they should have been doing the same.

Now, just repeat that for a solid month and you’ll have some new blog followers. Make sure you have links to your book visible in your blog or on your landing page, and be sure there is preview available.

This can be done at any time as long as you have the blogging friends and followers you need. Treat it as fun, it’s meant to be, and even if you don’t sell any extra copies of your works you’re cementing a solid working aspect to a friendship, and as trite as it sounds, remember the childhood song Daisy Scouts are so fond of: “Make new friends, but the keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.”

True Role Models 

To do a contest, remember that you must have something extra of value: you MUST have a paperback or hardback edition to autograph, or a sundry (a related item like t-shirts, mugs, etc). You must have many social media followers (we’re talking in the over two thousand category). And you must have either a lot of time, or a support system/assistant.

First, figure out an easy-enough-to-be-popular challenge such as captioning a funny picture, or answering a quiz about your book. You’ll need thirty days to plan and thirty days to run. In planning, that is when you collect all this, figure out the rules, and prepare press releases, social media posts, and website updates, as well as learn all the laws.

One week before the run time make the announcement, start promotion with graphics and hints. Link to your website every time! Figure out who will help monitor the contest and judge as your assistant or your second personality who comes out at night while you sleep (this is where a publicist can really help).

Beginning the run time, make sure you or your helper moderates and keeps trolls out, this will be very important. Every week try to pick a small group of the best responses, list them, set them aside. 

Now, over a one month run, you can structure it like this: 

Weeks One-Two – open responses
Week Three – semi-finals
Week Four – finals

For two weeks take all responses, set those you like aside. Next, for one week, allow general voting on the best, and narrow it down to five - ten. For the final week allow voting on those but ask the finalists do one additional task and let the general population judge that, or turn to your blog tour friends and let them judge the final round.

Alternately, over four weeks you can give away four items, and have four one week contests. Generally, the less well-known you are, the better this option is. The first option is fairly ironic: it works best when you’re a popular author, but when you’re a popular author it doesn’t help you sell any additional books. It does heavily promote your brand.

Doing the four small one week contests works better to sell your book AND promote your brand. You also have an opportunity here to sell copies of your book: wait until your second book has a publication date and is ready for a promo. Challenge your Twitter followers to leave a one word review and create a hashtag with your first novel’s title, and give away to randomly selected winners advance copies of your second book. Once your hashtag gets popular enough to be listed, it will gain interest in your first novel, particularly if the one-word reviews are positive.

Giveaways are much easier for newer authors with just one book out and are very simple. Again you need followers, but this time you can simply give away free eBook copies. It need not be anything special. Give yourself sixty days to prepare and run for just two weeks here. 

You can create a social media post or a blog post (and promote it on social media). Invite comments and pick a winner at random. It’s as easy as that. You need followers, however, because frankly if only three people respond it is going to look sad, and only make you feel sad.

All of these marketing tools are designed to help you once you’ve already got the ball rolling. Blog tours are going to be the most effective.

You might be asking how this translate into book sales. The answer is, not directly (in general). But if you have a solid product (a good book, a good blog) readers will come. Keep putting out good material and they will buy. 

In our next lesson we’ll talk about personal appearances: interviews in print, radio, and television, book tours, and appearing at conferences and conventions as a presenter or panel member. You only get to that level with solid sales and a strong brand, so let’s get the brand in place now to help drive sales and get you set up for the next evolution.

This is secondary or indirect marketing. It is not direct marketing (promoting the book) but promotes your brand: you, your website, and your book(s). Once you have a book out, you need to solidify and push your brand. This is the twenty-first century and this is how it’s going to be done from now on. You don’t just sell your book, you sell yourself, and you sell a dogma- George RR Martin has attracted as many readers due to praise for his writing of female characters (feminism would be the dogma) as his convoluted and engrossing plots. 

Work hard, and keep to it. It’s worth trying any of these, but you may need to work hard to build a bigger fanbase. Keep on that free writing, enter contests, join writer’s groups and network. Above all, never let your karma run over your dogma.

106-1B: How To Recreate DMV Hell In Your Own Home!

June 13, 2015
Ah, the land of reviews. Now that your book is either freshly out or about to come out, it’s time to get reviews. We will cover the ethical and unethical ways of doing this, but the unethical focus will be ethical-unethical. It will make sense once we get going. First we must learn what the rules are, the right way to follow them, what constitutes breaking them, and then the ethical-unethical bending of the rules. 

Starts like this...

First off, if you have a publisher producing your book, th...

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Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay....

May 26, 2015

For the first time in my life since I began writing fiction at age four or five I am taking an intentional break from writing. I’ve taken long breaks before (when school/work got too heavy, or due to suffering depression I couldn’t focus) but those were times I had to. Now is by choice.

I freely admit I have suffered three bouts of depression in my life. The first time was when my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness and quickly faded, dying just one year later. That was the worst ...

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Writing 106: 1-A Do the Hustle!

May 22, 2015

Welcome back both those who have pursued self-publishing and those who have an agent and possibly a publisher. This lesson will be divided between pre-marketing and marketing at release, focusing on social media. The next lesson will be on getting reviews/reviewers.

So, for those of you waiting that nearly two years on a publisher to put your book out and those of you in the process of self-publishing, let’s talk about a basic pre-marketing timeline. There is one golden, unbreakable rule:

DO ...

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105-3-2A: (Legacy): How To Deal With the Devil

May 17, 2015

Congratulations! If you made it to this lesson, an agent has requested your full manuscript and sent you an proposed contract. If you haven’t reached the proposed contract (but have had full manuscript requests) give the agent up to three months to send a proposed contract or keep shopping it around.

Now, you have a legal document in your hands. Like all legal document, it’s written in a special kind of bullshit coined “legalese.” It is designed to confuse, obfuscate, and since it was ...

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105-3-2B: (Indie): Did You Know Walnuts Cover Scratches On Woodwork?

May 16, 2015

So you have uploaded your eBook (or are about to), you’re raring to go, but there may be a few snags: Pricing and errors. Let’s talk about pricing first.

How do you price your book? Well, this is why your prior research was so necessary. In all honesty, generally (in US$) you’ll want to charge about $0.000049 per word. So if your manuscript is 90,000 words it’s about $4.41.

However, humans respond better to numbers that end in 0 or 9, and yes, the human mind sees $9.99 and thinks it’s...

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105-3-1B: (Indie): The Carnival Games Are Rigged, But You Can Still Win

May 10, 2015

By now you’re ready to upload your eBook, and you know where you’re going to sell it. Generally they can be fairly easy to figure out, but each and every one is so bloody different it gets confusing. Let’s make it as easy as possible. As a note, the next lesson will cover manuscript format issues that result in needing to revise & resubmit (which if you followed the previous steps you should not have) and pricing, so please review that lesson before beginning.

Always start with Smashword...

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Of Math, Psychology, and Secret Desires: Delayed Monday Rant

May 7, 2015
Hello there,

Thank you for patiently waiting for a delayed Monday rant. It’s been a busy weekend and week for me, lots of babysitting, a dental visit that left me talking like Sly Stallone for hours, a 16 hour workday, and more trolls on the literotica forum. *whew*

As a note, Literotica was updating their site and I was not been able to even load it in some time, so the next chapter of Thief In the Night has been delayed, but has been submitted now that Literotica is back up. Ah, life. At le...

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Do NOT Feed the Trolls

April 27, 2015

I am going to open up an old wound to illustrate a point to y’all (it’s a 2 part): Internet comments can do real damage, and we need to find a constructive way to end it.


This has come about because of some asshats on Literoica’s forums (namely Queersetti and Sinny) but since this most recent instance is merely irritating, I want to go back in time and share with you an instance where forum comments derailed my entire fucking life.


It’s best to begin in 2004. My mother had died in 199...

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Good News and Bad News

April 24, 2015
Good news all!: The account issues were resolved.

Bad news: my laptop died and I was without a replacement for a week.

Good news: I got my replacement!

Bad news: No new writing lesson today

Good news: I begin the regular Monday rants and weekly writing lessons next week. Thank you for your patience.

Better news: I may have the next installment of Thief In The Night  uploaded to literotica in the next week. 

This is just an insane time for my dayjob. I started my own company, I've been hiring and tr...

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Notes on the Neurotic, Psychotic, and Erotic Art of Writing

Nora Quick A blog on writing and my thoughts on the subject, many humorous, and often birdwalking


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