Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

LL Barkat is one of those friends whom I met exclusively through blogging. We’ve never met in person, although I do look forward to the day that I can sit down with her and a cup of her homemade tea. I was originally attracted to LL’s blog because she can take everyday experiences and draw out a spiritual truth. I also appreciate her commitment to building community and “spurring each other on toward love and good deeds.” I love her perspective on blogging.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?

18 fascinating months. As to why I started, can I quote my own blog post?

Here’s what I said in part:

“Over a year ago, I heard Andy Crouch’s public declaration: ‘Blogging is a waste of time.’

His declaration coincided neatly with a bit of advice I received from a Simon & Schuster Director of Marketing and Promotion. ‘You should start a blog,’ she said. ‘We ask all our authors to start blogs.’

The S&S person’s enthusiasm tempted me to begin blogging post-haste. But I admit it was the nonconformist in me that provided hidden energy. I wanted to confront Andy’s bald-faced statement. I wanted to become a blog scientist of sorts, to test out the veracity of his assertion.”

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
Can I be honest? Many blog tours bother me. When I’m blogging and I come across them, I tune out. Worse, I often have this odd sensation that it’s not for real. I feel like it’s a “rigged” effort and I’d rather come across posts from people who just blogged about a book because they really loved it. Bottom line: blog tours tend to lower my respect for the book being highlighted.

One exception is the Sci-Fi tours I often come across when I visit my colleague Mark Goodyear‘s blog. Maybe these tours don’t bother me because I feel like they are a club kind of thing. Sci-Fi people talking to sci-fi people. I never read the full posts, but I always comment on something in them, because I respect Mark and support his efforts regardless of whether these fit with my own interests.

As for how blogging fits with my marketing plan, I feel that an author must respect the medium. It’s a social affair. I show up week after week and if people like me and my work, then they do. If not, well, I can’t force it.

If people are attracted to my writing, this may ultimately turn into book sales, but my experience has been that blogging is more likely to create unexpected and important connections. Would I, for instance, have met Scot McKnight if not for blogging? And would he have given my book such a strong endorsement? I doubt it. Yet even with that, it is not something I could have “planned”. We happened to meet, to genuinely like each other’s work, and so it went.

Beyond this, I think blogging is part of marketing at a much different level. It’s not about me selling to people. But I do learn what sells, what interests others. And this is the early part of marketing . . . finding ideas that the marketplace has a positive response to. In fact, my latest book idea, which you can see here: God in the Yard came from this kind of “market research”. But of course that’s almost a ridiculous thing to say. I never set out to test the idea. Rather, it was an organic occurrence. I did a series of posts on Wendell Berry and living small and focused, and people showed a deep interest. Bing. I realized there was something deeper that just might be worth exploring in a longer work.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books through blogging?
It remains to be seen whether my book will be a success due to blogging. In fact, I expect blogging will only be an enhancement to what my publisher is doing. I’m happy to be with InterVarsity Press because they have reach into established groups, and I think this will be the main cause of my book’s success.

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
Self, self, self. Bloggers generally want authentic connection, so the promotion of self is inappropriate to the medium. That doesn’t mean that a writer can’t talk about his life work and books. I do. But it’s just a small part of what I discuss. My larger focus is on other people, their cares, sorrows, dreams and struggles. As I’ve said elsewhere, I write to love. It’s really hard to do that and always be talking about one’s self.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
For this, you must go to my Mount Hermon co-presenter Mark Goodyear. He’s the stat man. And as I recall the stats weren’t so great. On the other hand, he and I have discussed the success of a book that tipped to best-seller status as a result of about 300 blogger’s efforts. This is mentioned in the book The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

That said, I don’t think the bloggers that New Rules mentions participated in a tour. They received books and maybe they blogged about them and maybe they didn’t. The effort had, I believe, a more natural feel to it from the user side.

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
Hmmm…. As you can probably tell, I don’t have plans to do a blog tour. It would be a compromise for me to do so. That doesn’t mean I won’t engage my blogging community in ways they find affirming. For instance, you can take a look at my two book club efforts to see how I plan to serve my readers in what may be understood as a reciprocal relationship.

This site is mostly for readers who just want to say something about their experience with the book: Stone Crossings Book Club Blog.

And this site is for readers who really want to go deeper, approximating a true book club experience where people can hear and see each other and participate creatively: Stone Crossings Book Club Wiki.

For someone who chooses to do a blog tour, I would simply suggest considering different forms than what’s been classically done. So. If blog tour participants are enabled to engage creatively and they actually achieve this, then I believe that’s a measure of true success, because it will buffer some of the “rigged” feeling that’s problematic.

7. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Just to encourage people to respect the medium. As I said before, this is a social medium. It’s important not to be anti-social at this great blog party we’re privileged to attend. To paraphrase a famous bible guy, “Let everything you do be guided by love.” Even blogging for promotion.

Be sure to stop over at LL’s blog and witness community in action.

To read the other interviews in this series, click here.

You can read the summary posts and discussion of what I’ve learned through these interviews over on my personal blog, click here.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

To be honest, I don’t know Dillon Burroughs personally. He heard about the series I’m posting from his publicist and kindly offered to participate. Immediately, I appreciated his willingness to share his experience and insight. A quick perusal of his website reveals an impressive resume. Also, in this interview Dillon offers an additional perspective on using Facebook which I think you will find helpful.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
Four years. I’ve been horrible about starting a blog on a topic or book and then ending it to start a new one. However, blogs are not a diary for me. They serve a specific purpose and I kill them off as soon as that purpose is completed.

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
Blogs currently play a secondary role. Speaking and direct, face to face contact is still the most effective form of communication, but online communications are right in there at number two for getting the word out.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books through blogging?
1. Personal: I switched to Facebook almost exclusively at one point because I knew every note would be seen and likely read by the 350 people on my list. It’s only 350 people, but they are people who know me and will spread the word to others.

2. Accurate: Accuracy still counts. If I misquote a person, link, or key fact, there could be big problems…like people not being able to find my book.

4. Why do you focus on Facebook and how effective it is in meeting your goals?
Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. I work on building friends, not sales. Then I post the latest info just for my friends (359 as of today) who pass along via facebook and word of mouth what they think is worth sharing. This results in reaching thousands of people every time I send a note about a radio interview I’ve done or a newspaper that has featured my book. Word gets around without me even leaving the office.

The other factors are that I am trying to focus on a younger audience, most of whom are on facebook, and the fact that facebook is simple to use. Myspace and blogs are great, but at one point I have five different blogs to keep up. Now I have facebook and I copy and past blogs occasionally to my account at myspace. This has been the best combination to date on keeping it simple and spreading the news to the most people in my target audience.

5. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
They write for people who will never read their blogs. Blogs are most effective for people already connected with you, not strangers. They’ll just look at your bio or watch a video clip for ten seconds and decide based on that.

Dead blogs are also bad. I had to put a note on my Amazon blog telling people I had quit using it, so my friends wouldn’t ask when I was going to update it. If your blog hasn’t been updated at least within the past two weeks, shut it down or update it. Blogs work because they are personal and instant.

6. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
I’ve never done a blog tour. Again, I blog to get the word out to my existing contacts so my friends will tell others.

7. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
Exposure and book sales. If these cannot be measured based on a blog tour, why do it?

8. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Blogging is great, but you have to be aware that what you write is there for good. Don’t make comments about your boss or mother-in-law unless you can handle seeing it ten years from now.

Thanks for sharing with us, Dillon.

Please be sure to check out Dillon’s website, as well as his work at the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute.

To read the other interviews in this series, click here.

You can read the summary posts and discussion of what I’ve learned through these interviews over on my personal blog, click here.

Read Full Post »

I met Camy last year at Mount Hermon through some mutual friends, but we unfortunately did not have much time to get to know each other. I do remember always seeing a smile on her face or catching her laughing, though! Camy’s energy and passion are evident even through her blog, and I admire and appreciate her desire to help other writers.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I originally started blogging because I like to talk! LOL Seriously, I love journaling and writing and the idea of my stuff out there on the world wide web. But a year or so into blogging, I realized how great a marketing tool a blog can be if done correctly. I took a few workshops and talked with professional blogger friends and started targeting my blog toward my marketing “brand” and my reader demographic. Now, I blog about fun, funny stuff and Asiana, which fit with my tagline of “Romance with a kick of wasabi.”

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
I blog 5 days a week, and I draw readers to my blog with both fun content and Christian fiction giveaways. People are usually drawn to my blog because of the book giveaways, but most keep coming back because they like my posts, which I try to make entertaining and targeted at my reader demographic. I’m hoping my blog readers will go out and buy my book and tell other people about it.

I did a very successful blog tour last September for my debut novel, Sushi for One, and I’m about to launch another one in March for my second novel, Only Uni. I like to have original content on each blog so there’s something interesting for people to read at each “stop” on the tour. Lots of new readers found out about my book and my blog through the blog tour. I like blog tours because they don’t really take that much time and it’s fun to interact with readers.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books (or other products) through blogging?
1) Blog in your marketing brand. I blog about fun stuff–nothing serious–because my books are humorous women’s fiction and romance novels, not deep literary fiction books. I also blog about Asiana, since my novels all have at least one Asian American character. I think this is key for people who use blogging for promotion.

2) Blog consistently. It’s best to blog at least 5 days a week, but some people blog 3 days a week and their blogs do well, also. Some people are frightened away by that kind of time commitment, but I have two tricks I use: (a) Each post is only 250-400 words max–any longer, and readers’ eyes start to glaze over, and (b) I take one day a week and do all my blogging for the entire week. It’s the most efficient use of my time, because I can crank out 5 short blog posts in a couple hours, max.

Have fun doing it. I always tell people that if they try blogging and don’t like it, then don’t do it. People can tell if you’re not enjoying blogging, and a bad blog is worse than no blog at all.

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
By thinking that a blog is ALL ABOUT THE BLOGGER. It’s not. Really, it’s all about your blog reader. I focus my posts on my readers and encourage interaction. Of course, I talk about things that happen to me, but I always try to have something for the reader–something funny, entertaining, informative, or a chance to respond. Randy Ingermanson has a good phrase he uses–“value added.” Your blog should have “value added” for your blog readers–something for them, a reason for them to visit your blog.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
My blog readers liked my last blog tour because the different stops enabled them to see different aspects of my books or my personality that interested them. I also gained a lot of publicity about my book, which I enhanced with a newsletter contest running concurrently with the blog tour. The blog tour got more people aware of me, my books, and my contest, which gave away an iPod Nano and lots of Christian fiction books. I had lots of people sign up for my newsletter as a result of the publicity about it from my blog tour.

I’m doing something similar in March–right now, I have a newsletter YahooGroup contest for huge boxes of Christian fiction books, and only newsletter subscribers can enter.

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
For me personally, my blog tours are primarily to entertain. While I know the tour is publicizing my book and my contest, I mostly want to just entertain whoever’s reading. I think that when I go into the blog tour with that attitude, it makes for a funner tour. I also like giving away copies of my book during the blog tour, because who doesn’t like a free book? LOL.

Blog tour success is relative. I think a tour is successful if I have lots of people signing up for my newsletter or if I see a jump in my blog readership, but those are just numbers. I love it when people say, “I won a copy of your book from your blog tour and couldn’t put it down!”

7. What are the components of a successful blog tour?
I firmly believe that original content on each blog is really important. Otherwise, the blog tour just becomes a bunch of blogs posting the same piece of advertisement, and that’s not fun for a blog reader if they’re coming from your blog on the stops on your tour. You don’t need to write a book–short guest blog posts or a limit of 5 interview questions is usually good, in my opinion. Also, original content allows the blogger hosting you to insert their own blog’s marketing brand in the questions they ask you or the topic of your guest blog post. A tour with original content generates excitement about each stop on the tour from blog readers, and that’s always key.

8. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Even though I like blog tours, I don’t think authors or anyone else promoting something on a tour should feel that they HAVE to do it. Same thing with blogging–people don’t HAVE to blog in order to market. Lots of people will disagree with me. However, I firmly believe that a bad blog is worse than no blog. People can choose what to read on the web, and why would they choose to read your blog or your books if they don’t like your blog content?

Thanks for having me here!

Thank YOU for being here, Camy! I appreciate all of your insight.

Be sure to check out Camy’s blog. In addition to great content, helpful reviews, and insightful interviews, she also runs a ton of give-aways!

To read the other interviews in this series, click here.

You can read the summary posts and discussion of what I’ve learned through these interviews over on my personal blog, click here.

Read Full Post »

I met Mary a few years ago at Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference, and I am so thankful that she has become a dear friend since then. Mary is the reason I ventured into blog tours since she asked me to coordinate her tour for her book, Authentic Parenting. Mary is diligent and tenacious in her marketing efforts, and I admire how much she gives back to the writing community. I know you’ll enjoy her thoughts today.

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
Three and a half years. I started to keep our prayer/financial supporters updated on our missionary journey as church planters to France.

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
I will always do a blog tour for every book release.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books (or other products) through blogging?
Give away free books. Developing ancillary products that I advertise on my blog. (For instance, 150 Conversation Starters. They also tie into Authentic Parenting).

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
Thinking it will make for big exposure and sales. It’s more micro than that. It’s said that a customer needs five touches to make a purchase. Blogging or blog tours is simply one touch.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
See this article.

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
You have to tie it into actual sales. The only way to do that is to sell actual books on your blog or website. Then you can track them. Amazon numbers are fickle and do not necessarily give you the hard data you need.

7. What are the components of a successful blog tour?
Check out this article.
8. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Do not send out the same content to fifty blogs. Totally boring. Do exclusive interviews or write fresh articles.

Thanks for sharing your insight, Mary!

Mary has two great blogs you will want to check out: Her personal blog, Relevant Blog and her blog for writers, So You Wanna Be Published.

To read the other interviews in this series, click here.

You can read the summary posts and discussion of what I’ve learned through these interviews over on my personal blog, click here.

Read Full Post »

Our very first interview in this series on Blogging, Blog Tours, and Publicity features Randy Ingermanson. Randy talents come from both the left and the right side of his brain. He’s a physicist and an award-winning author who mentors and teaches others in the art of writing. His ezine reaches over 11,000 subscribers, making it the largest ezine of its kind in the world.

Randy shares some great insight and thinking into this thing called blogging, so grab a pen and paper to make some notes!

1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I started in April 2007 because I felt it was time. Up till then, I’d had other things that were more important, but I thought the time was ripe.

I teach people how to write fiction on my web site (www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com) and I write a monthly electronic magazine that now goes out to over 11,000 people. It’s the largest of its kind in the world.

But I thought it would be good to have a more interactive forum for discussion. A blog gives you immediate feedback. If people love what you said, they’ll comment on it. If they hate it, they’ll comment. If they fall asleep, they won’t say anything.

Those comments can be incredibly useful. People will ask questions that expose a whole new topic I’d never thought to teach about. Or they’ll say something that makes me see things in a whole new light.

2. How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into your overall marketing plan?
Blog tours don’t play a major role for me. But blogging has proven to be a powerful marketing tool. I host my blog on my web site, so traffic to my site increased as soon as I started blogging. Google pays more attention to web sites with a blog on them, so it raised my rankings for some of my key pages. So now my site is in the top 5 results if you search on quite a number of keyphrases related to fiction writing. Because of that, the search engines are bringing me more traffic.

I would estimate that my traffic has roughly quadrupled on my web site in the nine months since I started blogging. Part of that is due to my blog, and part is due to some other things I’ve done, such as moving my “super-article” on the Snowflake method from my personal web site to my Advanced Fiction Writing web site.

For those who only care about numbers when they have a dollar sign attached, I will say this: the passive revenue from my web site has more than doubled since I started blogging. I didn’t know that would happen. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. Part of the reason for this is the increased traffic, and part of it is presumably that frequent blogging increases the level of trust people feel for me. Trust is something you have to earn and keep on earning.

The four key aspects of my marketing strategy are these:
1) My products (you can’t market without a product)
2) My web site (with articles and product-info pages)
3) My e-zine (maintains my visibility monthly)
4) My blog (daily visibility plus feedback plus relationships)

Every one of these is critical.

3. What are three (or less) keys to your success in promoting your books (or other products) through blogging?
I will launch a different blog in the future to market my books. At the moment, I only have one blog (The Advanced Fiction Writing Blog) that is key to marketing my “how to write fiction” products. Here are the keys to my success:

1) A fast start. I had a huge platform already with my e-zine and its many thousands of readers. So my blog launch was amazing. I had about 6000 readers the first day.

2) Consistency. I blog five days a week, and people know I’ll be there. They know how much I’ll write in a blog post. They know what quality it’ll be.

Interactivity. I encourage comments and I often respond to the comments. If somebody asks for help on a particular problem, I’ll either give advice right there in public on the blog, or I’ll ask my blog readers to make suggestions–and I’ll offer a prize for the best suggestion. This has fostered an enormous sense of community on my blog. I could die and my blog readers would still care about each other and give each other support, advice, encouragement. That’s pretty cool.

4. What do you think are the Big Mistakes writers make when blogging for promotion?
Here are the main mistakes.

1) Blogging for promotion. The fact is that nobody wants to read a blog that’s about promoting you and your products. How many times have you ever turned on the TV saying, “Gosh, I wonder what great commercials I’m going to see today?” I’ll bet you only do that during the Super Bowl. If your blog exists solely to promote you and your stuff, then shoot that blog in the brain, because it’s just a commercial. You should be blogging to give people something–information or entertainment or whatever. If you are blogging so people will give you money, then switch to something more lucrative, such as selling tofu to tigers.

2) Inconsistency. Ever come across a blog where the last entry is six months ago? I have. Do you ever go back? Nope, of course not. Why should you? There most likely won’t be anything there. If you leave a comment, you can bet nobody will read it. So you don’t bother. Have a set schedule for your blog, let people know what it is, and stick to it.

Hosting the blog anywhere other than on your own web site. I host my blog on http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com, not on Blogger.com or Blogspot.com or WordPress.com or any of the other public hosting sites. Why should they get my traffic? I want my blog readers ON my site, where they can see what else I’ve got. I want Alexa to count my blog readers as traffic on my site. I want Google raising the ranking of all the pages on my site because it’s got a blog on it. This is a key mistake that I see even big-name authors making sometimes–hosting their blog somewhere else. It’s a little more work to host it on your own site, but you reap the rewards forever if you do.

5. What does a blog tour accomplish, if anything? What data or analysis has led you to believe that?
That depends entirely on the blog tour. I’m not overly amazed at the effectiveness of blog tours.

I did participate in one last year when Allison Bottke launched her novel ONE LITTLE SECRET.
I was kind of nervous, because I was the lead blog in the tour. So I didn’t want to mess up. It turned out pretty well. Here’s why:

I gave people some serious incentives to buy Allison’s book that very day. For people who bought the book, Allison and I gave people a 50% discount on a CD that she and I had created. The discount was actually larger than the cost of the book, so it was like getting the book for free. Allison’s Amazon ranking reached about #2000 during that day, and she and I also earned quite a bit of money during that 24 hours. (Isn’t that a cool concept–earning a little money by running a marketing campaign?)

So I think blog tours can in principle be useful, if they’re run right. It all depends on whether the bloggers on the tour have a decent platform and on whether you’re able to create what the marketing-droids calls a “Unique Selling Proposition.”

6. What should be the goals of a blog tour and how do you track whether or not a blog tour is successful?
I can only answer that for myself, since I’m sure other people will have different goals. If I ran a blog tour, I’d want to see strong trackable sales of the book. “Strong” means hundreds or thousands of copies sold per day. “Trackable” means that you have an exact count of how many.

How do you do that? You create an irresistible offer that includes the customer buying the book on Amazon via a specific link that you can track and also includes giving the customer some freebies during a specific launch window. If the offer is truly irresistible, then people will buy the book in droves.

7. Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
Blogging is not some magic cure-all. It should be part of a well-defined integrated strategy. I believe that marketing for a book starts months or (preferably) years before your book hits the bookstores. A blog is part of that, as long as it fits in with your brand, your web site, your e-zine, etc.. It is possible to make your blog a very large part of your strategy, since a blog can fill the role of a web site (if you have links to your products) and it can replace an e-zine (if you use an e-mail notification scheme like FeedBlitz.)

The most important thing to remember with blogging (or any web-based marketing) is this: “Content Is King.” If you have good content on your blog (or web site or e-zine) then it will practically market itself. So focus on creating good content and then use all the marketing techniques to get the word out.

Thanks so much, Randy for participating kicking off our interviews. Be sure to check out Randy’s latest discussion on websites and blogs, as well as the other great products and information on his website.

To read the other interviews in this series, click here.

You can read the summary posts and discussion of what I’ve learned through these interviews over on my personal blog, spaghettipie.

Read Full Post »