The next time I see the person who challenged me to do more marketing, I’m going to kick her in the shins. Twice. I’ve been diligently developing a system and as soon as I clean up my notes on what I did yesterday and today (I’m too tired to do it now…) I’ll post it here in the hopes that it helps another indie author.

And today I made a calendar…

Calendar ImageI have all of these great ideas for marketing my new release as well as my “back list” but I have resolved to not be “hit or miss” with this marketing thing anymore. That means I need a logical and consistent approach to get all of my ideas accomplished. I have actually set it all up on my outlook calendar – because I’m a visual person, I need to see every step laid out in black and white (and blue and gold).  This is the rough draft of my calendar – laying out when things need to get done. 

What I haven’t put in yet is when I’m going to do the things that are on this list – that’s a whole separate set of tasks.  It’s one thing to post but I find it helpful to write my posts ahead of time or even just jot down a rough idea of what I’m posting about.  Sitting down and facing a task that says “post” is pretty daunting because then I not only have the pressure to get it done, I have to compose each post.  What generally ends up happening is I get frustrated or run out of time and things don’t get posted – then the next time, I feel like I’ll never get it done because my last experience was so negative.  My new resolution is to compose my posts on the days where nothing is written in the calendar.  We’ll see how that goes. 

The very fact that I’ve already posted about this new marketing strategy is a good sign – it means I’m taking the challenge seriously!  See…that’s PROGRESS!

Writing really is a business

success dreams1

I write because I love it – I have tales to tell and I want my readers to have a few enjoyable hours where they can escape the doldrums and stresses of every-day life. I want my books to be fun, light, and smart. I want my readers to know the characters, relate to them, and maybe get a few chuckles out of the scenes I construct.

I also want to sell books.

Yesterday, someone challenged me to spend some time evaluating what I do as a writer to market my books. Truthfully, I’m hit-or-miss when it comes to that aspect of writing. I write. I edit. I publish. I might throw a few random comments out about my books, I do a bit of promotion when the mood strikes, I have a facebook page (find it here: http://on.fb.me/1tvlOlb), I have pinterest http://bit.ly/1t1XcTr, twitter http://bit.ly/VINA1n and I post on some facebook sites on a pretty consistent basis – and it’s never seemed like work.

It’s also never produced huge royalty checks.

So I’ve accepted the challenge to start evaluating what I do to market and (here’s the big buzz word) BRAND myself as a writer. I’m starting with this post. I’ve also re-written my book descriptions on Amazon (check them out from the tabs above). Tomorrow I’m going to write an honest-to-goodness marketing plan and probably re-write my other book descriptions. I’ll post any interesting links for authors that I come across because it really is a business – and I will do the marketing experiment for three months – I promise, really….

Available for pre-order!

I am just beside myself with excitement about Amazon KDP’s new option to make books available for pre-order! This is awesome news! I can make Legendary Magic available and then take as long as I want to make those final tweeks (as long as I don’t take longer than 90 days). This either takes the pressure off to finish that last little edit (or adds more to get it done by the deadline) but this weekend I’m going to make it available for pre-order and see what happens.

What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books?

Tara Sparling writes

In this post, I discussed the findings of a scientifically incontrovertible study (of myself) on the factors which influenced me when buying a self-published book.

The findings surprised me (which surprised me, because I was surveying myself). I found that I knew what made me buy a self-published book when it was in front of me, but not what put that book in front of me, unless I was browsing by genre (e.g. today I feel like reading a romance set in Ulaanbaatar: therefore I will now search specifically for such a story).

It was still hard to know what put those books in front of my eyes in order to buy them; to quote one of the commenters on that post – this is the thorny issue of “discoverability”. How will we find these books in the first place?

So I did the unthinkable, and asked some other people…

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The last struggles before publishing

I’m finishing the THIRD edit on Legendary Magic. That might seem excessive to some people, but it’s my usual process. I’m planning on an early September release, so the clock is ticking. For me, this is the most stressful part of self-publishing and there are many early mornings when I get out of bed in a rush because there are things that need to be done on the book before I forget. I usually think of these things right before I fall asleep the night before so by the time dawn comes, I’ve had at least seven hours to obsess.

And I do mean obsess. The last few weeks before the release mean crazy dreams. Last night I dreamed my husband and I ordered Japanese food from a food court on the North Shore for ourselves, a Japanese businessman, and a woman with purple hair from Germany. When the food didn’t arrive in two hours, I ventured into the kitchen to ask about it and nobody spoke English. Eventually, a hostile old woman began waving a ticket in my face while yelling that someone wrote one of the items down wrong, so they didn’t bother to make any of the food. By the time I found that out, all of the other restaurants were closed and I had to explain to my husband and two strangers who didn’t speak English that someone didn’t get something written down right, so we would all have to go hungry.

In the light of day, it’s clear to me that I’m afraid if I don’t get this book edited perfectly and immediately, I’ll starve and let down not only my family, but complete strangers. This is simply not reality; it’s just the stress of pre-release jitters. It happens every time I get itchy to publish my latest book.

There is no quick fix to this part of the process, but I do have a few strategies to keep me focused. I’d like to share those with you in case you find yourself in the same boat.

1.) Set a vague date. Don’t nail yourself down to a specific day until you’re sure you can get everything done by that date. If you’re self-publishing, you don’t need a deadline to strangle you. A vague date is good enough to get you on track and working toward a more specific day.

2.) Work out your pre-release marketing strategy. There are tons of places to post about your new releases, so make yourself a list of all of the ones you plan on using and set it up as a document so you can work on it in small chunks. I’ll post mine as soon as I’m up to the portion of my process (I’m not there yet – that’s the beauty of being an “indie”).

3.) Disconnect the internet. There are myriad places where indies go to chat about their books and connect with other indies (I have several, and most of the links are on the side of this page). If I can hop on-line I can see who else released what book and then spend a few minutes commenting on posts and pages. This leaves me feeling even more pressured to just FINISH! I generally complete my books in my living room (on the couch with my dog) and as far from the business end of writing as I can get.

4.) Since I publish exclusively on Amazon (that’s another discussion entirely) I can go in to my dashboard and upload my cover, blurb, details, and tags and save the draft until the book is done. That gives me peace of mind that all that’s left is the final conversion.

5.) Give your beta-readers a loose timeline. Mine know that when I give it to them, I’m itchy. They usually take no longer than two weeks to read. They’ve been with me a while now, so once the book is in their hot little hands, they flood me with emails and phone calls to point out the little things I need to go back and fix. Once I give the draft to them, we’re on short time. I edit, fix, and rephrase daily depending on their feedback. If there’s something glaring – I stop them all and fix the error – then I send a new copy out and we start up again. I’m in constant contact with them during this process and they are my salvation!

I should mention here that I have two groups of readers. The first group gets a rough copy, then I edit the draft a second time, take a few weeks off from the story, then the book goes through another round of editing. The copy that’s been edited three times goes to my second set of readers. The next time I finish a book, the two groups switch tasks (so everyone doesn’t have to read the not-perfect copy every time). While I do have a friend who edits for me (one with a Ph.D. in English), I also read the edited copy and sometimes sneak a change or two into the final draft because I am that obsessive.

As I get closer to publication, I’ll tell you where I am in the process in case something I do would make another author’s life easier. It’s hard to remember that you’re not alone when you’re an indie. You just need to work a little harder to find the tricks that make your process work for you.

Happy writing!
Leigh