Not only that! Shelli has offered to give away a one-hour phone marketing consultation to one lucky reader. Read on to hear from Shelli and learn how to enter.
PM: Welcome Shelli! Thanks again for joining us. Let's get to it. What is the #1 self-marketing tool authors should consider.
Shelli: I hate to call it marketing...
PM: Thank you for that! So do we! :)
Shelli: ...But I think building a platform and social network is critical. Build relationships online and help others. What comes around goes around. That, to me, is the best tool an author can have. Other than that,
it depends on your target audience.
PM: What, in your opinion, is a time waster?
Shelli: Being online all day. You need to schedule your online time. Choose one hour in the morning to tweet, facebook, answer e-mails, blog questions, etc. Then, turn off your wireless and work. Maybe schedule three intervals a day and do it all at once. You can use tools like twaitter to schedule tweets if you want them out there. So look for tools that help you streamline online.
PM: This is so true. All the online possibilities and demands can really cut into writing time. And there's so many options! Twitter, Google-plus, Facebook, blogs - how's an author to choose?
Shelli: An author needs to do what they feel comfortable doing. Don't get on Facebook or Twitter if you are not going to use it to your advantage. Don't start a blog if you blog four times a year. It's not worth the energy. Pick one or two things, and do them really well. There are so many places - Wttpad, Tumblr, Pinterest - you could get lost. Pick one and go for it. Make sure you pick one where your target audience is. Don't hang out on Facebook all the time if you are trying to reach eight to twelve year olds.
PM: That's a great point. It seems like there's a lot of good advice out there about marketing, but it can be so overwhelming! And when it comes to a book launch, things just increase exponentially! You've launched two books recently, UNTRACEABLE for YA readers, and your tween novel ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. What do you recommend as far as swag and giveaways?
Shelli: If you do signings or massive giveaways - have swag. Everyone loves to get free stuff. But you can be creative. Does it have to be a bookmark? No. I have a friend who has a book in winter and an accident happens on ice. She gave out ice scraper key chains. Try to give out something different to get attention.
Also, when I say massive giveaway, I mean if you do a giveaway online, then don't just give out free bookmarks, because the stamp to ship costs more than the bookmark. Do one or two big packages - t-shirt, bookmark, and a book. Make the shipping worthwhile.
If you don't have tons of money, do one big giveaway at a singing to those who show up and use that as a marketing tool to get people in. Everyone loves pens and bookmarks and they are not expensive. If you do them, make sure it has book title, author, and a website or isbn - something so they know what it is later.
PM: I would love a bookish ice-scraper! What a brilliant idea! This has given us lots to think about for online marketing. What about bricks and mortar promotion?
Shelli: I recommend contacting indie store owners or librarians. Call them and say hi. Maybe send them a reminder by post or e-mail about your book. Think about what you can offer them. Do they have a book club? Do they like bookmarks for their readers?
Again, don't just send out a mass e-mail or a mass postcard mailing. It isn't personal. This is where relationships come back into play.
PM: That seems to be a theme running throughout all your responses. Taking the time to build personal relationships - whether online or in person - not only helps get your writing into the hands of readers, it's fun! The online community of writers and readers is wonderful, welcoming, and full of interesting people. Thanks so much for sharing your tips with us today, Shelli! We'll put them to good use!
Now, I'd love to hear from our readers in the comments. What thoughts do you have on book promotion? What drives you crazy? What do you think are especially helpful means to connect with middle-grade readers?
To enter the giveaway for a one-hour phone consultation with Shelli, follow Project Mayhem and leave a comment below! The contest will be open until midnight EST on 2/29 (happy leap year!), we'll choose a winner through random.org, and the winner will be posted on 3/1.
S.R. Johannes is the author of UNTRACEABLE (a teen wilderness thriller) and ON THE BRIGHT SIDE (a tween paranormal). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes - someday - will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-fops, and her love of writing.