Saturday, August 29, 2009

WORKSHOP: Marketing On A Budget Part 1

Welcome to our workshop. My panel member will discuss marketing off line and of course I’m going to talk about marketing online.

It is important as a writer new or seasoned; you must have a marketing plan. Remember this is a business and you need to learn how to work your business. My first advice is to remember you have to spend money to make money. Set aside a reasonable amount of your advance for marketing. $50.00 dollars won’t cut it.
Before you decide on your budget, do a little research, what is the going rate for online promotion? Check this each time you have a book coming out, because rates change. You don’t want to budget for last year’s rates and everyone’s rates have gone up.

Ok, I understand money is tight, so you want to start with the no cost marketing first. I have a few ideas to get you started. I know you already have a website because you’re an in the know author and you know you can’t be an author these days without a website or blog.

Things To Do On Your Site


Articles are a good way to show readers you can write. It also can be used as a tool to teach others from your experiences.


Another way to keep your fans updated on what's happening with your writing career is through a newsletter. In the newsletter you want to feature all the current events happening in your career.


Many authors featuring their press kits online, it’s a quick way for the media and fans to get information about the author and their books.


Blogs are used as diaries, or an everyday tool to communicate with your fans. You can even invite others to make comments on your blog.


Another great way to communicate with your readers, they can post message and to their surprise you can answer them. This is an excellent tool to get feedback on your books.


Chat rooms are another way to communicate with your readers. You can host monthly chats and see your readership build.


You can use your site or the chat room to host workshops. On the site, they are articles you post weekly or monthly (remember you're trying to bring the readers back).


Always have a page that features your books and a way for readers to purchase them, either from you (autographed of course) or through an online store. Visitors always want to buy the book after reading an excerpt. You want them to buy your book, so don't forget to offer them a chance to.


Contests are a great way to bring people to your site. Everybody loves to win something. Feature a contest each month.


What you give as a prize will depend on your budget.

• An autograph book
• A theme goody filled basket
• A trip
• Gift certificates
• Book excerpts
• Bookmarks
• Bookcovers


Have a link on your site for those visitors who want to keep up with what's happening with their favorite author. Send out messages about your book, reviews, chapter excerpts etc.

This is an important feature in your marketing plan. You are trying to build your email list. You can do a lot of marketing with this list, so the bigger it is the better.

• Eblasts – send out announcements to your list. Introduce your new book, post a excerpt, tell them where you’re having your next book signing, or guest blog


Every writer has online friends and some of these friends have their own sites. Here a few things you can do on their sites.

• Interviews
• Guest Blogger
• Monthly Columnist
• Write an Article
• Host a workshop
• Book Discussion
• Chats
• Blog tours
• Make comments on other blogs. Always include a signature line.


There are tons of review sites too many to list, so I’d suggest doing a google search and researching them. You want to find the sites that feature your genre. Don’t waste your time and theirs by sending your book if it’s not the type of genre they review.

Researching takes time, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Postage is not cheap so you want to make sure you’re sending your books to the right sites. Check their guidelines and see if they accept ARC, galleys, books or ebooks. Choose the most cost effective for you.


Most online magazine offer free promotions such as interviews (including SORMAG), start with that as a way to approach them. Check their guidelines and see the best way to contact them. Some might want to do an interview the month your book comes out, some might not have a set time. If you’re trying to get an interview the month your book releases, you need to know this information. (Again this is when the research comes in hand.)


This is the new way to promote online. I suggest you find at least two social networks you enjoy and use them as a way to market your book.
You can send out links to your blogs, articles, excerpts etc.


This is where your marketing budget comes into play. If you’ve done your research as I suggested, you know where you want to spend your money. Now I’m going to offer a few advice to help your promotion last.

Don’t buy all your ads in one month. Yes your book releases in June, but you want to market it until it is off the shelf. Now this advice doesn’t work if you’re a category writer. You only have one month to plug your book; however I still say don’t use that one month as your only time to market.

Spread your promotion over a three month plan. I’ve learned repeat promotion works for keeping your book in front of the reader.


Introduce your book to the readers, it’s about to be release, you want them to see what it looks like, what it is about and when it comes out.


Release month – Again show what it looks like, what it is about, let them know it is available NOW.


After the release – If the book is still available, again show what it looks like, what it is about and where they can find it.

If your book isn’t a category you can promote for the rest of the year. People are always looking for something to read. Maybe they didn’t see your promotion when it released. Remember you want to keep your book in front of the readers.

There are many sites that offer online promotion (SORMAG included) they have something that fits every budget. Look at your budget and see where you can promote your book.

Before I end, I have to offer two things that have helped me tremendously with helping promote writers.

A signature line – I have met many authors because of their signature line. Always include a signature line that includes your website.

Contact Info – I’m always surprised about how many authors don’t include contact info on their web site. I’ve missed opportunities to interview them because there was no way to contact them. Always include some way for people to contact you. Email or guestbook.

Also remember you want to build relationships, working with promotional sites with each of your books helps build a relationship. They want to help you promote your books and they will work with you and your budget.

Here are a few things to get you started on your online marketing. Remember we can’t buy your book if we don’t know about it.

LaShaunda C. Hoffman is the host of SORMAG’s online conference and the editor of SORMAG. Her motto, the first promotion is on me(interview) the second one is on you. Need help in your online promotion, let SORMAG help you.


Jeanette Hill said...

I plan to incorporate some of these ideas into my marketing plan for both of my businesses! A lot of it is so doable and with just a little effort they could really pay off in a big way! Thanks again...for everything!

LaShaunda said...

Hi Jeanette,

Thanks for the post. These tips are for all business. Use what works for you.

Unknown said...

Thanks LaShaunda, I'm about to cross over from being just a writer to handling the business side of writing. Your information is very helpful.

Thank you Darlene

Zaria Garrison said...

Excellent information LaShaunda.

Anonymous said...

LaShaunda, Thank you for all the excellent tips. I'm expecially taken by the Paid Marketing advice, copied it to my email "draft" box for easy access when I need it.

The reason being I have to save months and target well because I'm on Social Security. I can do most anything over a period of time but time doesn't always give me time. Deals come and go, which means before I start my journey to marketing, I must have at least half the cash on hand to catch a deal.

About the press kits, it seems that folks didn't take the time to read my press kits on my website. Maybe they just didn't have the time.

I try to keep up with the trends and think I manage. I have a website, a personal blog, am a member on 4 writing groups and on facebook. I had a myspace account but deactivated it. I'll open another a couple of months before my new novel is ready. I'm also politically involved with issues of the nation, and in some cases the world, as you probably know from the little FYIs I send you. *smile*

I love to write (as evident in this long response) and try to keep my name before the public, my readers and writers. I have 2 published books and 3 MSS pending.

The two most important links for advertising my work are my website and my blog. I welcome and love visitors!

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this conference. I wish for SORMAG continued success.

Minnie Estelle Miller

LaShaunda said...

Ms. Minnie,

I understand limited budgets. That's why is best to have some money set aside, so you can take advantage of sales if you can't afford the regular price.

I know I offer sales through out the year, so I'm sure other sites do too. However if you don't have a budget you miss out.

Include a link to your blog if you want to see more visitors to that.

One thing about promotion, it is a one day thing. Sometimes it feels like no one is paying attention and then you look and you have a few sales.

Thanks for being a part of the conference.

Rudelle Aldridge said...

Thank you for a great workshop. I am learning so many great tips. This was really helpful.

Unknown said...

One of the things I want to have next is my press kit. I have a nice author bio and photo, but need to work on the rest.

I appreciated everything you had in this workshop.
Thank you,

Unknown said...

The info given here has been great.

In the press kit, how long should the bio be and besides, the bio and photo, what belongs in a press kit? Is it generic all around?

LaShaunda said...


Here's an example of a good online press kit:

Shelia Goss said...

LaShaunda thank you for putting together this conference. I've learned a lot this past week.

Shawneda said...

I know I missed Saturday running around with hubby and then Tia McCollors booksigning...this info was great!

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