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So, what's a writer to do? This is where it all becomes even more nebulous. I've read a lot that you need to develop relationships with everyone and their dog. (It's a good thing cats are rather stand-offish, or you'd be required to form a relationship with them, too.) Giveaways are showing up in posts on marketing as being a great way to obtain book sales. Common knowledge is that you need about forty reviews on Amazon for them to really notice you, so begging everyone you know for reviews is done frequently. Street teams are gaining popularity in writing circles (although it might just be that I've finally heard about them.) Colleen Hoover credits book bloggers for her phenomenal success. It's enough to make a writer's head swim.
As I am wading into this sea of confusion, I thought I'd share what I've learned so far. I looked into street teams, have decided to focus some marketing time on book bloggers, and will discuss giveaways because I believe it is an excellent way to encourage visibility. Because with bazillions of books being released each month, visibility is the name of the marketing game.
Street teams were pioneered by indie musicians. Basically, a band would get their fans to spread word of mouth about them by putting up posters, bringing friends to the concerts, calling the radio stations requesting their music-that type of thing. In exchange, the band usually would give away free merchandise - CD's, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc... Often the street teams would be teenage fans. For writers, street teams appear to be formed by people saying "Want to be on my street team?" The street team members then spread the word of the author's books (often electronically) and are then given merchandise or the chance to win the author's merchandise.
Here is my take on street teams for authors. If you have a large number of people who are following you already and feel kindly toward you, you are going to have a successful street team. Having people talk up your book is wonderful marketing, and the more people see your book the more likely they are to buy it. However, if you can't seem to drum up that initial platform, it's going to be a tough sell to get people to support you, period. Some people are really great with drawing people to them, others - not so much. It's not that the "not so much" people are nasty or unfriendly, but the big draw just doesn't happen, or happens slowly. Like pouring cold molasses.
So, I have decided street teams are not for me. Or maybe I should say, organizing a formal street team is not for me. I have some very kind friends who have been incredibly supportive (Suzi Retzlaff, Melanie Martila, Claudine Jaboro, Kelley Lynn, Genee Bolton and Denise Wilson-Falvo - I am forever in your debt.) And if I missed someone, it's because it's late and I'm tired, not because I don't appreciate you!
The last week or so, I've been doing a lot of investigating into book bloggers. The process to get your book reviewed by a book blogger is very similar to getting an agent. You have to do research, to find out who is taking submissions, who isn't, and to make sure they review/like your genre. Then, you need to find out their submission guidelines, and adhere to them. And then you wait to see if they want to review your book or not.
Until I found out about Author EMS, it was all pretty overwhelming. So, let me share Author EMS's magic. They are a website full of "business resources for authors" and they have a searchable database of hundreds (at least) of book bloggers. It costs $10 for a 30 day subscription to the searchable database, but I will tell you it was so worth the money. I have a list of at least 20 book bloggers I'll be sending Finding Meara to, and it only took me an afternoon to get it organized.
Finally, I do believe giveaways are an excellent method of gaining word of mouth. I don't really understand why people get all freaked out at the thought of giving their books away. Even if you give the book to 100 people, if they like the story, they'll tell people and if each person tells just ten other people, your book would be recommended to 1,000 people you would have no other way of reaching. If you sell your book for $3.00, you would lose $300 dollars, but have the potential to make $2,700 dollars.
One caveat to giveaways - you have to get into a bigger than your personal reach circle to have it be very effective. I joined in Reading for Fun's 1200 Likes Giveaway extravaganza and netted 35 Facebook followers overnight. I couldn't do that on my own, for sure. By the way, there are many different types of books on the giveaway list, including YA and NA, so you might want to check the giveaway out. The rafflecopter is open until May 15th, I believe.
That's enough marketing talk for today. I'll turn the microphone over, and let you give your two cents, if you're so inclined.
If you've published a book, what marketing have you found effective. If you haven't published yet, but plan to, which marketing strategy appeals to you? If you're a reader, what strategy would you like an author to use to get their book into your hands?