Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't Spend Too Much Energy on Book Marketing

My past few blogs have focused on marketing tactics. I thought it would be informative to have a somewhat different viewpoint on marketing this week. I much appreciate the wisdom offered by successful author and school visits expert Kim Norman (, who shares her thoughts on book marketing with you this week.
            “I now caution against spending too much time on promotion. I’m a little sadder but wiser from my own experiences with book marketing.
“I think it's just that without many MANY thosands of eyes on our book covers, over and over again, it's hard to affect a book's overall sales.

           “It's not just a matter of those eyes seeing the item only once. Most folks have to be exposed to that item several times over (I think there's a rule of seven) before they act and buy, the exception being events such as a Scholastic Book Fair where people are there with money in hand, prepared to buy.

          “That's why TV commercials run over and over again. Sales really do drop off when even the most annoying commercial stops running. Out of sight, out of mind.

          “Then there's the recognition factor, which is where the "stars" have it over us. Even if buyers haven't memorized an author's name, they'll respond to a blurb that says, "By the author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." I've seen this effect on my own school visit bookings this year. Invitations are up, and I think it's because of the wide distribution of my Ten on the Sled last year thanks to Sterling and Scholastic. If educators are shopping for an author to visit their school and land on my website, via a general Google search, these days I have that recognition factor working for me. They've never heard of me, but they'll say, "Hey, this lady wrote Ten on the Sled. My kids loves that book. Let's invite her!"

“When I published my first book, I worked much harder than I do now to promote it. Nothing seemed to work. None of the usual outlets reviewed it. That was one big blow to the book’s sales: librarians didn’t know it existed. I put up a website. That’s generally considered a must-do for everyone, though I not sure even a website is an absolute necessity if you’re not interested in doing school visits.”

Kim’s list of promotional tactics is long: She was Alice Pope’s first featured debut author when Pope launched the CWIM (Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market) newsletter. She spent countless hours creating videos, networking, attending and submitting proposals to conferences, preparing for and doing school visits, creating a mailing list of area schools, teachers’ guides and a press kit, helping with writing and editing the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI newsletter, giving (poorly attended) book signings at libraries, filling her website with content, developing an author-school-visits website, writing a column for a children’s newspaper, and more. She did all that and her first book was remaindered after fourteen months.

Kim has now reduced her promotional efforts. She does not update her press kit because she has never used it. She does not bother much with Amazon other than keeping her author page updated, which shows her current books. (So, no Amazon lists, no asking friends for reviews. The published reviews from Kirkus and the like seem sufficient.) She is happy if a local newspaper wants to run an article, but she does not send press releases about her books and events because she feels that the number of books sold in response to a press release (likely NONE) will not equal the work spent keeping up with press releases.

Her advice is: “Don’t spend too much energy on marketing. There are so many factors out of your control that will affect the sales of your book. Spend MOST of your time writing good books. I’d estimate that you want to spend no more than 20% of your time on promotion. Maybe 25 or even 30% when you have a new book coming out. But as soon as that new book cools, get back to your new manuscript!”

More about Kim Norman, her books, advice for writers, and other resources can be found at: The home page also lists her blog site and her school visits site.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Marketing—Part 3

Continuing my series of blog on book marketing, here are a few more tactics and resources you may find useful. My listings of book marketing tactics and resources are all too few. I welcome your recommendations, especially information on things that have worked well for you. Help me to grow this information by commenting on this blog or sending me an e-mail to maggielyons66 at gmail dot com. I am especially short of good technological tips and tools.

SEO: Learn the basics of search engine optimization. You’ll find tips at Brick Marketing’s blog, Karen Cioffi also lists websites offering free keyword tools on her Resources page at and an article titled “SEO Marketing Tips to Help Get Links to Your Site” at

Books on SEO include Ranking #1: 50 Essential SEO Tips by James Beswick and SEO Made Simple: Strategies for Dominating the World's Largest Search Engine by Michael H. Fleischner. 
Speaking engagements and workshops

Contact libraries, schools (private and state), book clubs, alumni associations, community service clubs, local bookstores, associations—any organization that could have a direct interest in your book and offer a program that introduces you and/or your book to kids, teachers, parents, librarians, and other book buyers. 

You may have to volunteer your program to start with because budgets, especially at libraries and schools, are tight.

School visits: For tips on successful school visits see Kim Norman’s site at http://www.kimnormanbooks.comAlexis O’Neill’s site at
and Rachelle Burk’s site at http://rachelleburk-authorvisits.blogspot.comRachelle’s site also lists other school visits resources. At Margot Finke’s site you can find out about her experience of a virtual school visit via Skype, Information on Skype library or classroom visits can be found at

Sponsor: Find an influential person to champion your book. Look for some theme in your book that relates in some way to someone who has the power to promote your book to a large audience. For example, if your book has the overt or underlying theme of diabetes, you could look for a diabetes- or health-related organization whose leadership may be willing to help you promote it if you can persuade them that your book will, in turn, help to promote the work of their organization.

Virtual book tour: A reasonably priced virtual book tour service may be helpful, but do a tour for at least a month, if not two, and be prepared to put some careful thought into writing several articles for guest blogs and answering author interview questions. Exercise caution when selecting the service. Go to your social forums and ask for your fellow children's authors’ recommendations. Tour services vary widely in quality. You need to be sure the tour visits locations that are influential and appropriate for your genre. The Society of Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) provides a short list of book tour services focusing on children's authors that SCBWI members can benefit from. Dana Lynn Smith, author of Virtual Book Tour Magic, has a useful site at

Web page monitoring
To be a successful book promoter and writer you should read widely, but keeping up with ever-changing blog sites and other sources of information can be a challenge. Change Detection at will notify you when a web page changes, for example, when a new blog appears on a site you’re following. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Marketing Resources - Part 2

Continuing the blog on book marketing resources that I began last week, I list, together with  websites that offer help with the process, a few of the extremely basic promotional tactics writers use with varying degrees of success to increase awareness of their books. No single one of them guarantees sales, but used regularly and correctly, they will build an audience over time. 

I welcome additions to this list. If you have trouble using the comment box, you can e-mail me with suggestions at maggielyons66 at gmail dot com. 

Book sales sites: Amazon—a great little book on using Amazon author pages is: Marketing Your Book on Amazon by Shelly Hitz. 

Blog book announcements and mentions: Some bloggers who don't review books, or cannot review your book, accept information about books, which they are willing to post on their site. See my MG Book Bloggers list for some of these bloggers and also the list of  bloggers at KidlitoSphere Central:

Author InterviewsSolicit interviews from book bloggers who offer this service. See my list of MG book bloggers on this site to find those who do interviews with middle-grade authors. For more children's literature bloggers, you can browse the list of blogger members of KidLitoSphere Central, 
the society of bloggers in children's and young adult literature, at

Book Reviews: write book reviews for Goodreads, and book blogging sites that accept guest reviews. Send copies of your book to book bloggers with sizable readerships. Be sure the blogger reviews your genre. If your book is self-published or published by a small press, make sure the blogger accepts that type of publication. Many don't accept self-published books for review. My list of MG book bloggers (a page on this site) may help you find the right bloggers as well as the list at KidLitoSphere Central

Blog: Create a is easy to use—and write something regularly, even if it's only once a week, but don't overwhelm your followers with blogs. Join writers' (and, for children's writers, parents' and teachers' groupssee Social Media below) to start building a readership. For help, see "How to Set Up a Blog and How to Generate Traffic to Your Blog" at Wise Geek: Beth Hayden's blog site also has free weekly blogging tips at An easy-to-use resource for finding free photos is Photo Pin at

Giveaways: Offer book giveaways at sites such as and book bloggers’ sites. See my list of MG book bloggers on this blog site.

Guest blogs: Offer to write articles for other book bloggers’ sites and in turn, offer them on your blog site. See my MG Book Bloggers list on this blog site tofind bloggers who accept guest blogs.

Media releases: Create media releases for any and every event including school and library visits, and more, and send to local media. For help with media releases see The Publicity Hound for tips and a free e-mail course: “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases” at Joan Stewart's website: Tips on creating and distributing media releases can also be found in Carolyn Howard Johnson’s advice-packed bookThe Frugal Book Promoter.

Social MediaFacebook, Goodreads, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter—create author/profile pages.and update them regularly. Yahoo Groups—join a children's writers discussion group such as Children's Writers and Children & Youth Writers Author's.

How to use social media: For general advice see “75 Tips to Manage Your Social Media Efforts in 2012,” a guest blog on QuickSprout, September 10, 2012, Sign up for Mari Smith’s “15 Social Media Power Tips” tips at, or go to her website at, and click on the Resources tab for the drop-down menu. The Social Media Examiner website also has a plethora of advice at You can sign up on their home page for a free subscription to their e-mailed newsletter.

Facebook: See Mari Smith’s free webinar on optimizing your Facebook experience at her website:  and download two free social media marketing reports on marketing with Facebook. Mari’s blog also offer tips on using Facebook and Google:

Join a Facebook group for children’s writers such as Children’s Authors and Illustrators on Facebook.
Click the Like button on others' Facebook author/business pagesoften.

Goodreads: For children’s writers, appropriate groups include Great Middle Grade Reads, Children’s Books, and Children’s Book Authors/Illustrators.

Google ( Learn how to set up a Google profile at and 
Join a Google writer’s group such as Great Books for Kids

LinkedIn ( Children's writers' groups include SCBWI and Children's Books among others.

Pinterest: Gabriela Taylor posted an article on Joel Comm’s website on May 7, 2012 on “7 Ways to Use Pinterest as a Writer.” at Ms. Taylor is the author of The Ultimate Guide to marketing Your Business with Pinterest. See also Beth Hayden’s website for her free Pinterest marketing guide at, and for other free goodies including a free subscription to her weekly blogging tips.

Twitter (—create an account and follow writing/book related twitters. Jo Linsdell offers tips on using Twitter in her free Twitterebook available at her site: See also Charlene Kingston's article "How to Maximise Your Twitter Profile" at

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Marketing Resources - Part 1

As an author, I spend a lot of time, perhaps too much time, promoting my books. I want to share with you a few online and print resources I have found particularly helpful. The help here comes from dynamic women who are authors themselves and who take the trouble to make their advice as user-friendly as possible. I welcome your additions to this list, preferably resources you have personally used, and I'll add more resources in future blogs.

Mari Smith
The dynamic author and speaker Mari Smith is, in her words, a “leading social media strategist.” She offers webinars, media training courses, and social media services and you can sign up for her free Social Media Updates delivered via e-mail.

Sharing with Writers
Author/editor and marketing expert Carolyn Howard-Johnson offers up-to-date advice for writers at her blog site. You can subscribe to receive blog updates via e-mail and you can also subscribe to her free newsletter Sharing with Writers. (Also see her book, below.) In addition to editing services, Ms. Howard-Johnson also offers book publicity services.

The Publicity Hound
Joan Stewart offers a plethora of publicity advice in her ezine, Tips of the Week. You can subscribe free of charge. She covers a wide range of topics related to the use of publicity in book promotion including how to use social media sites such as Pinterest and LinkedIn to your advantage, how to write and distribute effective press releases, how to use broadcast publicity, and a great deal more. Ms. Stewart (The Publicity Hound) also offers paid consulting services and mentoring services and referrals to professional publicity services. 

Writing and Marketing, Writers on the Move  
Author and marketing expert Karen Cioffi at and offers tips on everything from using Paypal to search engine optimization (SEO). At her Writers on the Move website you can subscribe to her free newsletter TheWriting World (delivered via e-mail) for regular updates, and sign up for an online workshop/webinar/course, coaching, or website-design service.

Help with Amazon
This useful little book offers a ton of tips on how to take advantage of Amazon’s author central tools to promote your books. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I’ve already discovered that my own books did not have the correct search keywords linked to them, nor were they listed in the correct  book categories. A lot of the book’s advice is for self-published authors, but others can also benefit.

Help with Amazon and Facebook
Top Tips for How to Market Your Book on Amazon and Facebook by Internet marketing specialist Phyllis Zimbler-Miller.
At her company website she offers services related to e-book publishing, website design, and social media marketing:

Help with All Aspects of Marketing
The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Another very useful guide for both self-published and traditionally (or small press) published authors. Ms. Howard-Johnson’s book covers a particularly wide range of topics from creating media kits to using social media and postcards.