Writer Wednesday: Writer’s Toolbox Week 2
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Happy hump day authors, and welcome to the middle of the week. Last week we touched on the importance of Author Branding. Today we are going to continue in that vein in part 2 of our Writer’s Toolbox series. Today we are focusing on how Branding as it applies to marketing. When you separate ‘author’ from the experience of branding to market, a great deal of the tips and advice still applies on a macro level of how branding and marketing work off each other to sell the product: You and your books.
Before we dive in, I want to briefly touch on the content of this series. The Writer’s Toolbox aims to give a board overview of subjects and provide authors with a starting point as they wade into the profession. As always, there is no singular set in stone method to follow. Just as there are various paths to success publishing and writing, it is important to experiment and try different tactics until you find what works with your brand and your books. What this post can offer are basic tools and blocks to build upon.
What to Put in Your Brand Toolbox
Building off our previous post, once you’ve settled on a Brand message and general imagery, such as typography, color scheme, and aesthetic, you can begin to fill your Toolbox. There are two very broad and basic pieces every author should strive to have.
An Author Press Kit: The kit is what it sounds like. You can set it aside in a ready to go folder on your computer, or put it up on your website for easy access to bloggers, publishers, etc. Your Press Kit should include a decent high resolution head shot, contact information, and an author bio. The bio should have about 4 different lengths, a two line bio, a short bio (think 50 words) a medium length (around 100 words) and a long bio (400-600 words). Depending on the platform or publication, you may have only so much space. You could also include a media kit for your latest release: A synopsis, a sample chapter, excerpts from ARC reviews or any editorial reviews you may have acquired.
A Brand Kit: Author logos, social media headers/ templates, high resolution book covers, flat & 3D mock ups. Keep everything together so when it comes to things like guest blog posts, blog tours, and more, you have everything on hand to send off.
Pride & Prejudice
When discussing opportunities for indie authors, something indie authors will often come up against are generalized stigmas. As an author, you strive to produce high quality work, but there are still certain hurdles Indie Authors come up against.
It is difficult to gain wide distribution. There are certain awards open to trad published books that are a great deal more difficult to enter or simply not available for Indies. It can be expensive to apply for industry standard reviews, particularly for self published authors. Side opportunities, such as book boxes, often do not accept Indie authors, citing issues with quality control.
There are doors that are harder to open than others as an indie author. While it is important to recognize the divides between trad and indie, it can be discouraging when you are trying to find new avenues to market, but there are solid opportunities out there if you keep looking.
Options to Expand Your Horizons
Utilize libraries: Libraries are often open to working with authors to host local events, feature their book as a local selection, and can help you navigate the process of getting your book onto the ebook Overdrive program for wider distribution. Libraries are one way to use Word of Mouth, which is an absurdly under estimated tool for marketing. Speaking of... Word of Mouth: Approach bloggers, bookstagrammers, and booktubers. Most have review policies posted on their website or platform. If you find one that reads your genre, reach out, send a polite introduction to see if they would be interested in reading a review copy of your book. Use your press kit to seek out promotional opps in e-zines, physical newspapers, etc.
Giveaways: Giveaways are a great incentive during release promotions but they can also be a good way to maintain interest. Giveaways don’t have to be grand, expensive overtures. They can be smaller things; a free copy of your ebook, a signed bookplate or bookmark, limited run art prints left over from a book fair or convention. The idea is to engage your readership with something personal and special that applies to your work. The Trifecta: Newsletters, Street Teams, & Free Content. These three often feed into each other. Organically building your Newsletter and Street Team is a process. One way to do this is offering free content. Free content can be short stories, extra scenes between characters, and other little goodies that expand your written universe without exhausting your time and resources.
Free content is a great incentive to help build your newsletter. ‘Sign up to receive a free short story’ provides readers not only with a snippet of your writing, but now they have access to your newsletter to receive updates, giveaways, special access to sample chapters, or whatever you choose to include.
Special access in the form of ARCs is a good way to build a Street Team, a solid group of readers who help spread word of mouth and post reviews for release day. Having a group of 5 or 10 readers putting their reviews up on the day of release can make a significant difference to boosting awareness and sales of your book.
Unexpected Opps: Remember bookboxes? Some are indie friendly. Some allow you to submit your novel to be reviewed for consideration. What about guest spots on genre podcasts? It never hurts to poke around the internet for new ideas. Bookboxes, podcasts, e-book fairs and e-conventions, indie author awards, author panels, readathons: there are numerous ways to expand awareness of your brand and your books via the internet. Keep your mind open to different ideas and avenues and you may be surprised what opportunities you stumble into.