May Workshop Report: Marketing

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Our second full-day workshop for 2016 was on Marketing, something we independently published authors really need to focus on. In this modern day, it is very easy to publish a book, but with millions of titles readily available, it is very hard to make your book stand out, very hard to make it shine.

The workshop drew an attendance of around 20 people, all in various levels of creative authorial development. The workshop was divided into four sections, shared between two speakers, the first being Deb Donnell of Writing Diamonds:

Deb Donnell

Deb Donnell has been in the writing business for most of her life – she first indie-published as a teenager – and she developed the Writing Diamonds program in 2008, helping writers to release the books they have trapped inside. She is also very savvy in the digital world. Her small publishing house, Keswin Publishing, has a particular significance to us in Christchurch, as it produced the fine books you can see above: Responders and the two Christchurch Comparison books.

Deb Donnell began her presentation by first talking us through the branding process. To become successful as an author, you do not so much have to sell your book, as sell yourself. Having a connection with your potential audience is more likely to draw people to click that “buy” button. She talked us through the various social media sites, sharing insights on ways in which we could connect with the audience and find the sort of people that are likely to buy our books. We also learned a little about how the traditional publishing industry, too, has changed with the times. And why, and how, to treat self publishing as a legitimate business.

Nicola Mauchline’s beautifully set-up display.

We then paused for our first interval, giving the opportunity for our market vendors to promote their wares. Our mini-market had five vendors: Angela Oliver, with her array of postcards, books and other assorted memorabilia; Nicola Mauchline, with her romance novels; Justin, and his 11-year old son, Jasper, and their delightful adventure story; Shelley Chappell with her collection of retold fairy-tales, and Jenner Lichtwark with her vampire and mystery novels.

After the break, it was time for us to start some practical exercises, as we looked into author bios, learning the importance of consistency and keeping it relevant, as well as having a specific call to action. After bios, we turned our attentions to blurbs, learning how to make them grab the attention of the reader, given how little time potential readers will spend reading the back of a book. She also touched briefly on getting your books into bookstores (chances = slim), but we will focus more on that in a future blog post.

Our heads over-flowing with information and our hearts filled with inspiration, we then broke for lunch, after hearing from our final two market vendors (and drawing the second prize in our merchandise raffle).

Judy prepares us for some Twitter fun.

For our afternoon session, our presenter was Judy Mohr. Judy is an editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services, and has been fully immersing herself in the Twitter-verse, as she works on her guide to “Twitter for Writers”. She is also well-versed in other forms of social media and how these can be used to increase your internet presence.

After discussing, in greater depth than Deb, the various available social media platforms and which ones work and don’t work as promotional platforms, we then were encouraged to indulge in some Twitter fun.

You can find Judy’s handouts on this page.

Those of us not already signed up for Twitter were logged in to the ChchWriters account. We were then given a range of hashtags to use, and the tweets were fired thick and fast. With the assistance of a mysterious “secret squirrel”, using Judy’s account, we were given questions: “Which author (dead or alive) would you most like to meet?” “If you could go on a mystery date with any character, who would it be, and where?”, along with an array of images to caption with twitter-length stories. Spot prizes came thick and fast:

I think one of the important lessons I learned from this exercise was that tweets are ephemeral– I’ve always been a little nervous about what I tweet, especially through the official Guild account – but Twitter is not something to be afraid of, no more than Facebook or any other social media. And it’s very easy to have some fun.

So, to conclude, here are some of the pictures with captions: