Showing posts with label Marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marketing. Show all posts

Friday, January 8, 2016

Announcing an A-Z and DIY Book Publicity Course -- with Me!


(Note: as of 15 January, the early interest form is closed. I expect to launch the course this week. If you are still interested in being part of the early interest group, however, email me and I'll handle it.)

Hello again, friendly readers! I am pleased to announce that this winter I am launching a course on Udemy. It will be on DIY book publicity, which I often talk about, but it's going to be a total package, an A-Z course on what I do for my clients, how I do it--and how you can do it, too. If you are interested in knowing when it launches, enter your info here. The people who tell me they are interested using this form will get first dibs and a discount code for the course if they join in the first month! Feel free to spread the word if you think you know someone else who might be interested. If you refer three or more people who enroll in the course, you'll get something extra special just for you.

If you take the course you can look forward to knowing how to identify the best places to get publicity for your creative work, what to say when you contact them, and how to keep the whole thing organized. You'll also get office hours where I'll be available for Q&A, a message board just for fellow students in the course--and lots more. Sign up now to be among the first to know when it's live, and get yourself that discount on tuition the process.

Goals and 2015 Wrap-Up

2015 was the year of nearly no blog posts for  me. While I don't foresee ever being a particularly prolific blogger, I'd like to offer you more value this year.

See, the thing with my Book Marketing without BS brand is that if I have nothing to say, it seems silly to me to create a blog post to say nothing or to repeat myself. That said, I think I can do better than I have. I have retained some topic suggestions from the last time I asked people what was on their minds, but please let me know (in the comments or by email) what topics you'd like to see with regard to book publicity and marketing.

Those are my goals. What are yours? What do you look forward to this year? And don't forget to tell me you're interested in my course so you can reserve an earlybird discount code.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fall Workshops: First Lead-Up Exercise for Twitter

Hello again, everyone! I have two social media for authors workshops coming in September, one in Pickering and one in Brampton. In preparation I have exercises participants can work on over the summer. They will then bring the results with them to the workshop on the day they attend.

Since I am doing this in conjunction with BeNovel Marketing Services, the exercise is hosted on its site. Go take a look, and if you are in or have friends in the GTA, please share this with writers you think may be interested. Early-bird pricing has a few weeks to go and you won't want to miss out on the hefty discount for getting in on it early!

Register here (scroll down, the registration is right on the page), and view the Twitter Challenge exercise here.

Coming soon: tips for editing comic book scripts.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Service Highlight: Affordable, No-BS Book Marketing and Social Media Consultations

My most under-the-radar services are the consulting services, so I wanted to say a bit more about those, and to share some words from happy consulting clients, too!

How do consulting services help you?

  • Offload some of the work you don't want to do
  • Get query letters written for you (or a critique for the ones you have)
  • Ease your stress with step-by-step plans for publicity campaigns
  • Ditch even more of that stress with social media plans and coaching tailored for your needs

You can probably afford it, too, because it starts for as little as $75. Email me for a no-charge discussion to see if working with me is right for you.

Not sure whether this is for you? Here are some clients who've been pleased with my consulting services so far:

Jinx Strange, Freelance Writer, Author

"Beverly has become as intrinsic to my writing career as my laptop or my fingers. I wouldn't take on a project without involving her, and as my work often leads me into uncharted waters, Beverly's ability to think on her feet and innovate has made her indispensable."

"This is, in a word, AMAZING. You've just made my stress and anxiety about all this publicity stuff come down a few notches -- so my sanity thanks you too!"

Meghan Miller Brawley, Author, Indexer, Researcher

"Beverly was really helpful getting my social media plan in place. Her broad base of experience gives her great insight and was invaluable, and she was understanding and receptive of my needs."

I am also currently working on social media work with author Mia Marshall, author/editor Vanessa Ricci-Thode, and for AutoCrit, so if I do my job well, maybe there's more praise to come.

Please send me an email now. We can talk about your needs for free, so you have nothing to lose. I look forward to learning about what you're working on!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Teacher, Teach Thyself? Lessons Learned in Marketing Myself

It's been interesting prepping for my upcoming self-promo webinar sessions. Over the last several years I've learned a lot about the different types of writing. Stuff I know both practically and from my education: sales writing, business writing, formal argumentation, Facebook posts, etc. So perhaps ironic would be a better way of describing my efforts instead of interesting; because I didn't do a very good job getting this out the door.

What happened was that I wasn't getting nearly the number of conversions into ticket sales that I would have expected based on the even'ts page views. A couple of days ago it hit me hard: I'd left the Eventbrite page the same text as my rambling blog post. I've fixed it up now, but for this first session it may be too little too late.

So that's my big lesson--more information isn't necessarily better when it comes to sales communication. I do like a nice, dense, informative blog post, (OK. I probably could use editing there, too,) but when you're trying to interest someone, you have to be short, punchy, and get the benefits out there first thing. I didn't do a good job at that.

In any case, learning from mistakes is a valuable part of getting better at anything, whether it's running a business, the craft of writing, relationships, cooking... anything. So embrace the suck, as they say, and figure out what to do better next time.

So what has been your big lesson lately? What are you doing differently these days? If you care to share, how did you realize your mistake?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Self Publishing Comics Panel Report: A Guest Post by Ricky Lima

This past January there was a comics self-publishing event at PAMA (a local art gallery and historical archive). On the panel were Sanya Anwar (Site | Twitter), Ricky Lima (Facebook | Twitter), Jason Loo (Site | Twitter), and David Bishop (Facebook | Twitter).  I was unfortunately unable to make the event, so I asked Ricky to tell me about it in the form of the guest blog post you are about to read. I hope you enjoy it, and let me know if there are similar events in your city you might like to report on. 

Bishop, Loo, Anwar, Lima (L-R)
Photo credit: Stadium Comics

Peel Art Gallery, Museum, and Archive is hosting an exhibit dedicated to graphic story telling. The gallery has an awesome collection of original pages from True Patriot which is a comic anthology focused around Canadian stories and superheroes. To go along with the exhibit PAMA  organized a couple of panels and workshops about the comic industry. I was asked to run a panel on independent comic self publishing. I gathered a jolly crew of fellow self-publishers and we spoke to a crowd intent on independently creating comics. David Bishop, Jason Loo, Sanya Anwar, and I split the panel into four categories: inception, creation, production, and marketing.


In this first segment we discussed how a creator gets their ideas. It was interesting to note that creators can't create in a bubble: everything we talked about was inspired by something else. Sanya's book 1001 is inspired by the old story of Prince Ali Baba, and Jason's webcomic is an expansion on the Star Wars universe. All the panelists made it clear that it is important for a creator to consume everything they possibly can so they can learn as much as possible. As strictly a writer I've always been told that I should be reading 24/7. While I think that is true, I feel that it's a little misguided in that the scope is too narrow. As a creator you should be consuming 24/7. Not just reading, not just looking at art, but consume everything you enjoy, and sometimes things you don't in various. This way you'll be a well-rounded creator with a fresh perspective for any medium.


The next portion focused on techniques people use to get the work done. It all boiled down to, “Just do it!” The panel agreed that creators often get caught up in their own head and don't actually get anything done. World building is great and thinking up every single detail can be beneficial, but there reaches a point where thinking about it simply won't do. David explained to us how he had a very specific time for creating. He wakes up super early before work and makes comics for an hour or two. Everyone's process is different but the most important thing to remember is that if you're not doing it, it's not getting done.


The most technical portion of the panel was when we talked about production. When getting things printed it's very important to understand what technical terms like “bleed” and “CMYK” are before you begin (FYI: Bleed is the area around a page that will be cut off, and CMYK is a method of blending colours. Computer screens use RGB and printers use CMYK, this creates a slight difference in colour from screen to paper). Different printing houses were discussed as well, major recommendations were given to Toronto's Guerrilla Printing and Houston's LithoNinja. Printing comics can get pretty expensive so it's important to find a printer that has prices that fit your budget.


Finally we discussed how to market our books. In comics we're lucky because we have such a great support group of comic conventions that allow us to meet people interested in comics and picking up our books. Cons are the lifeblood of an indie creator and should be used to their full potential. At a con you can create a lifelong fan and repeat customers. From there, thanks in part to social media, you can connect with them and build the relationship. In the comic industry we're also lucky that a sizable portion of our audience are digital natives (i.e. people born during the internet age, so they are completely comfortable with digital reading). The internet is an extremely useful tool in connecting with fans all across the world and should be used effectively and consistently. Personally marketing is my personal favourite part of the comic game because it allows me to meet the people who are reading my book and ask them what they think. I love hearing what people think and seeing how they react to the book and if they have an feedback that's even better. Our book grows through feedback. 

The self publishing panel held at the lovely PAMA building was informative for all. The panelists and myself stayed after for a couple of hours to answer people's questions. I met a ton of cool people in Brampton who are longing to do amazing things. To me that's the most important part of any city: people with ideas. I like to think that the self publishing panel inspired some of those people to go out and get things done. I know seeing people so excited inspired me to continue doing cool things and getting my work done.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Winners Announced!

Thanks once again to everyone who entered and who shared and tweeted. Your support is fantastic and I couldn't do this without you. This has also been a great chance to promote my non-publicity campaign services, of which there are many you can see here. Some of my favourites are social media planning and coaching, and copy editing, and even though it's not officially on the list, I enjoy critique as well. It's likely to end up on the list at some point. So please contact me and ask about these other services. I can work with any budget, so don't be shy.

Anyhow! here are the three winners:

Karina Sumner-Smith Site | Twitter
Jessica Meddows Site | Twitter
Teri Kline Twitter (and yes, I know the name on the Twitter account doesn't match this. ;))

I have been in touch with all of them, and it is my hope that I can help them and also have some fun in the process.

I know many of you joined the email list to enter the contest. I hope you'll stay, but if not, you should be able to unsubscribe easily from the next email you get, or if you're in a hurry contact me and I'll take care of it for you.

Coming tomorrow, a guest post about a local self-publishing in comics panel, and next week it's back to regularly scheduled programming!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Enter Here to Win Free Consulting or Critiques!

Subscribe (and confirm--check that spam email box!) to my email list and you will be entered to win two consulting or editorial hours. You can use the time toward:
  • Help creating your book or comic's marketing plan
  • A complete flash fiction critique and copy edit
  • A full social media consultation and plan
  • A brief critique of a novella or a partial of a novel 
  • Website critique/planning assistance
  • Any other publishing- or marketing-related consultation time
Three winners will be selected at random from mailing list subscribers who have joined and confirmed by clicking the response link (remember it may go to a spam filter) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, February 19th.

Not sure how to join the list? Subscribe right here.

Note that the prize will be delivered no earlier than March 15th, 2014. I will work out final details with the winners, whom I will announce on Thursday, February 20th.

I'll take this opportunity to also remind you that I provide all of the above services at reasonable rates, so if you aren't the winner, contact me and let me know what you need and we'll put together a plan that fits your budget.

Good luck, and spread the word to anyone you think may be interested!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Inspiration vs Newsjacking: Book Marketing without B.S. #6

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach. My goal is to help you cut through the bullshit with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow. Send your questions to

My client, writer Chris Irvin, did a blog post about the assassinated Mexican physician and politician Maria Santos Gorrostieta, which inspired his novella, Federales. He was concerned that the post might be interpreted as using a tragedy for his own marketing benefit. I advised that the post was just fine, and that the real problem were things such as the infamous Cairo tweet from Kenneth Cole. Sure, Kenneth Cole got a lot of attention; but, the majority of it was bad, and despite what you may have heard, bad publicity is not as good for your company as good publicity. 

It's not hard to learn more about this concept of marketing tie-ins to tragedy or events. In general, this is often called “newsjacking”, a term coined by David Meerman Scott. Scott does not advocate the use of tragedy in this way; however, and even spoke out against marketers making light of Hurricane Sandy, which you can see in the comments of this controversial HubSpot blog post.

I admit I don’t see how newsjacking could ever be a positive term. I think appending “-jacking” onto something creates a negative connotation. So, what is good newsjacking, then? Why is it a thing? This blog post was a helpful run-down of positives and negatives to watch out for. Finally, if you're interested, it may be useful to also read Danny Brown's reply to the HubSpot post and its replies. .

Consensus is definitely on the side of staying empathetic, kind, ethical, and.... well... classy. Of course there still seem to be people who have no problem making light of tragedy with an eye to profit. I personally find things like that distasteful and certainly the person doing the newsjacking may create a negative association for the brand or individual in the eyes of many potential customers. It's risky at best, and dangerous and cruel at worst.

So did Chris newsjack in a bad way with his post about Maria Santos Gorrostieta? No, not at all. For him--and for all artists--this served as inspiration to create a bigger story, to create art. This wasn’t a casual, off-the-cuff tweet intended to drive traffic to his web site. Indeed, I think painful or tragic incidents are often the inspiration for people to create, which is a healthy, humanist response. A callous marketing effort this was not, and so I feel comfortable saying that inspiration is not newsjacking. They're totally different things, and respectful blog posts about one's inspiration, such as what Chris wrote, is something you should feel completely free to do. If you're ever worried about the tone, ask a trusted (and 100% honest) associate for his or her thoughts.

What do you think about newsjacking and using tragedy to inspire art? Is there a difference? What examples have you seen (of either) that have been particularly bad, or particularly good?

Keep those questions coming, and sign up to get my posts sent directly to your email by clicking here. Thank you once again for your continued support.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My SFContario 4 Schedule, Including Free, Open to the Public Workshop

Book Marketing without B.S. is taking a week off for U.S. Thanksgiving. Check back next week for #5. In the meantime, I will be at SFContario 4 this weekend (as will my husband. As you can see below, I am not the only Bambury out there!). Saturday is a busy day of panels for me, and Sunday I am running a free, open to the public workshop that will help you create a marketing and publicity plan for your creative work.

Take a look, and if you see me, please say hello! I promise I don't bite. Talk a lot, maybe, but no biting.

Finally, don't forget to check out my recent guest post by Effie Seiberg, all about doing conventions on the cheap.

A Hard Hobbit to Break, Ballroom BC, Sat. 9:00 AM
James Bambury (M), Colleen Hillerup, Beverly Bambury
Three movies? Does Peter Jackson's approach work? Many fans were disappointed in the first film. Will they continue to watch? What was successful, and what failed, in Peter Jackson’s treatment? What are you looking forward to (and what do you fear) in part two, coming out next month? Come out for a lively discussion of all things Hobbit.

SFContario Idol, Courtyard, Sat. 5:00 PM
Debra Yeung, Sandra Kasturi, Hayden Trenholm, Beverly Bambury
Attendees bring in the first page of their manuscript. A presenter from SFContario will read out the manuscript (anonymously) until a majority of our panel of judges ‘buzz’ the story to a stop. Discussion ensues on why they stopped it, what didn’t work, and what did work. A great exercise in story openings that will provide immediate valuable feedback to the writers.

New Philosophies for Science Fiction, Solarium, Sat. 8:00 PM
Karl Schroeder (M), Tamara Vardomskaya, Beverly Bambury
Looking at the values of the past, it is unrealistic to think that people in the future would think the same way we do and hold our values, yet looking at old SF it's exactly what you do see. How do we get beyond that and come up with new ways for people to think about their new worlds?

Don't Blink, Solarium, Sat. 9:00 PM
James Bambury (M), Debra Yeung, Colleen Hillerup, Beverly Bambury
Do Daleks keep you up at night, checking under the bed? Do the Weeping Angels haunt your dreams? Or are you more likely to cower from The Silence or Cybermen? Are you my mummy? Our panelists discuss which of the Doctor’s monsters or arch-enemies scare them the most.

WORKSHOP- Self-Planning for Self-Promotion, Solarium, Sun. 1:00 PM (90 minutes)
Beverly Bambury
Are you a published author being left adrift by your publisher? Are you a self-published author with only yourself to rely on? A plan will help you decide timelines and create an automatic list of things to do and when to do them. In this interactive lecture you will learn how to create a plan for promoting your book, and learn some research tips and tricks to help you along the way. By the end of the program participants will have initial concepts for their marketing plans as well as an outline of what to do next.This workshop is open to the public!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Guest Blog: Small Press Tips & Lessons from the Booksburgh Book Store Hop

Today's guest blog is by Jennifer Barnes, of small publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press (RDSP). She organizes social media and events, and today she's come by to share her experience organizing a madcap day in which RDSP took over Pittsburgh, doing a reading/signing each hour for five hours, at five different locations. Even if you aren't a publisher, you may find some of these hints useful in organizing events with your writing group or other writer friends. Enjoy!

Heidi Ruby MillerOver the years RDSP has done all kinds of events from gigantic book fairs like BEA to readings in a decommissioned lunatic asylum. It takes a lot of planning to get the most out of events and you can learn from each one. We recently did something we hadn't done before which was a 5 author bookstore tour of Pittsburgh. It was a bit hectic but lots of fun and a great experience. I think a one-city tour is something that could be duplicated by others to good effect so I thought I'd share some tips. 

First I'll give a brief description of how it worked. Five reading/signings were set up at different bookstores, each was scheduled for an hour and they were back-to-back beginning at 1pm and going through 6pm. Each store hosted one of the participating authors so every author got a chance to do a short reading and answer audience questions. You can see the photos we took from the event here.

Stephanie WytovichOne thing that worked well was that most of the authors hopped to each location and were on hand to sign their books. This meant a lot of cross-exposure between authors. I noticed that at each location there were people who clearly came for the featured author; but at the same time they often became interested in one of the other authors.

It was also helpful for someone to briefly introduce all the authors at each stop. Often the featured author who would introduce the others. Having multiple authors is the key to drawing in a larger audience.

We had several attendees who hopped with us to each location. This gave the whole event a party-like atmosphere. We were lucky because our event was planned by a local (thanks Diane Turnshek!) and was sponsored by an organization that supports Science Fiction (PARSEC) in Pittsburgh. These connections were important for getting locals to attend. The authors were from nearby but none lived in the city itself.

K. Ceres Wright, Al WendlandAnother thing that worked well was that all of the stores were very different from each other. One was a University bookstore, one a co-op, another primarily dealt in magazines. We also hopped to a mall store and a traditional used bookshop. This gave us exposure to all sorts of shopping venues.

It's important to be flexible with your sales arrangements to accommodate each venue. We had two stores that ordered in advance; one paid upfront, one was invoiced. The co-op let us sell our
own books while the mall store required signed paperwork. 

Matt BettsThough the stores were very different they were all in fairly close proximity. Even so, it was a little hectic trying to get to each store in time. The author who is being hosted should be prepared to leave the previous event well in advance to be sure to be on time.

This kind of event is best suited for a mid-sized city with a lot of bookstores, like Pittsburgh. However, I could see it working well with spots like coffee shops and bars if your city doesn't have enough stores in close proximity. If the distance and travel time between the locations is too great that could cause problems. We did have a few people getting lost between stops. It's not necessary to have 5 stops though, a 3- or 4-stop author tour might actually work better.

Perhaps the most important tip I can give about bookstore events is to think of them as advertising not sales events. When/if you sell copies that is just the icing on the cake. What you are really doing is advertising your book. You get to do that in three ways:

Jason Jack MillerFirst, when you promote the event you obviously mention that you'll be signing and reading. It gives you a chance to mention your books without begging people to buy them. Next, if possible arrange with the stores in advance to have some kind of book display and signage advertising the event. The even itself is an advertisement because as you travel to each location you get to describe your book to whoever attends. And finally, you should do a post-event wrap up for every event you attend. Share pictures (you must take LOTS of pictures) on social media, blog about your experience, publicly thank the stores who supported you. 

These are all ways to advertise your book without actually mentioning it. Compare this kind of advertising to a print ad and you'll see you get way more bang for your buck. What you've invested is mostly time and gas money with the potential to make very strong personal connections with a few people as well as impress a larger number online. Print ads cost hundreds of dollars but never result in a personal connection, only appear once and are easily forgotten.

all authors' books available
A note about turnout: hope for the best but expect the worst. It's hard to get people to come out of their houses. Things like scheduling conflicts and weather are unpredictable and can prevent people from showing up. This is not a fail and happens to famous authors too! Try to make sure you have at least one close friend or family member that's guaranteed to show, enjoy spending time with the other authors and have fun. If the turnout is low you don't need to mention it in your post-event press. People will see how much fun you had and vow to make it to your next event.

Jennifer Barnes, Chris StoutJennifer Barnes is managing editor of Raw Dog Screaming Press which is currently celebrating its 10th year publishing "fiction that foams at the mouth."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Buy Followers: Book Marketing without B.S. #1

Book Marketing without B.S. is a weekly publicity and marketing advice column for writers and other creators who prefer a realistic, clear, and no-nonsense approach.

The marketing and publicity worlds are important for understanding audience and customers, and getting the right word out to the right people; but, let's be honest. There's also a lot of bullshit. My goal is to help you cut through the B.S. with direct, understandable advice you won't be embarrassed to follow.

Welcome to my inaugural Book Marketing withouth BS column. Today's question was asked anonymously, and it's about purchasing followers on Twitter (and by extension, purchasing likes/on other blogs and social media such as Facebook, Pinterest, etc.).

The short answer to this is "Don't do it". Below is the breakdown on why, but first, I should say that other people have written about this. Just Google "Should I buy Twitter followers" (without quotes) and you'll find other discussion.

Here are more thoughts on the topic, and be sure to leave yours in the comments. I'll share the best in my next post.

1 - It's dishonest, and if you're found out, people will think less of you. Remember what happened to President Obama and Mitt Romney in the recent election cycle?

1.1 - It's also pretty corny. Honestly. See #2.

2 - It's much more obvious than you think. If you're not famous, but you have tens of thousands of followers (and you're only following a small number yourself), no one is going to believe you've got that many followers. Really, really.

There are people I know and otherwise respect that I am certain have purchased followers. I feel bad for them in the way you feel bad for someone who buys a bad hair piece or who has a comb-over. They don't seem to feel good enough as they actually are, and so they try covering it up. They don't need to do it though--they're already cool on their own. They're just looking for an easy way to get a boost, not realizing that there's no easy way with social media. More on this later.

One other note: Facebook's analytics tell anyone where a page's audience is, not just the page owner. One of the people I know had around 85% of his followers from a former Russian republic. It's there for all to see, and it looks plain bad.

3 - Most importantly: it won't deliver results. There may be a few little metrics here and there that will boost, but mostly it won't work. Why? Well, if you're paying for followers, and the vast majority of them are fake/inactive, you are not expanding your audience at all. You're only buying a bigger number and nothing more.

The 30,000 followers you bought? None of them are going to buy your graphic novel. They aren't going to share your book with anyone. If they do--by some crazy chance--they're sharing it with other fakes. It's a waste of your time and money, and you don't have enough of either, right?

It's possible a few people who stumble across you will be impressed with your numbers, but you know what? If you're posting useful, relevant stuff already, they'd have followed you when they stumbled across you with or without high numbers. Also, the more savvy people get about fake followers, the more likely it is to be a turnoff. Once again, I refer you to #2.

In all my research I saw no one, even anonymously, saying that they were thrilled with their results (aside from a few stray blog comments that were so awkward and ham-handed that they were obviously from people who sell the fake followers). Surely someone out there would boost them if they were effective, but I don't see that. Have you seen a trustworthy source ever say it was a good idea? I personally have not.

I also interviewed three people who have bought followers or likes, some on Twitter, some on Facebook. (And yes, I know this is not a scientific sample. I just wanted some directly shared anecdotes!) All three of them say they saw no tangible results. Two of them are specifically unhappy and regretful and one has neutral emotions about it. One said that some of the Facebook "likes" occasionally interact with his page, but that there's been no boost in sales. That person also wonders whether it might have made more sense for his business if he'd waited. I concede that it is possible that this purchaser might appear a bit more often as a suggested page on Facebook because of the likes; however, I still think it won't likely boost sales since the purchased followers have zero emotional connection/interest with you or your product/service.

The main thing to remember is that it's really tempting to buy followers for many reasons. Some of that is what I mentioned above: feeling unsure, desperate, insecure, worried. Some people are more mercenary and genuinely think that they're going to improve their standing on social media and they see it as legitimate. I can understand all of those reasons and more. You want to look good. I get it, but this isn't the way.

"So how do I build audience?", you ask. It's actually not too difficult. The problem is it takes time and effort, and that's why it's hard. Time is short. We're all tired and hoping for a shortcut. The only good way is to interact with people. Share other people's content and ideas. Share about your dog, your wife, your kids--and also your books and creations. Try not to let all of (or even the vast majority of) your tweets be "BUY MY BOOK" stuff or "READ THIS EXCERPT NOW!" stuff. Some rules of thumb say 10% of your stuff should be about your stuff. I think that may be about right. Some weeks it will be more, some weeks it will be less. Mainly remember that (and yes, I am repeating myself) social media is social. Be a real, integrated human being who sometimes shares his or her work, and you will build a following.

Will you ever have a million followers? Almost certainly not. The followers you have, though? They're actually interested in YOU. Respect them. Cultivate them.

Check out Zenni Optical on Twitter. Whomever does their social media is skilled at building loyalty and feelings of community. They tweet back to people who mention them. They ask about what the potential customer is interested in. Not only are they building followers with genuine interest and interactivity, but they're offering a good, high-touch customer experience and that's going to garner a healthy percentage of followers who are likely to spend money. Not only that, but Zenni is getting real data from consumers about what they like and don't like, and what products are popular. This is incredibly valuable information.

"But, I'm dark and serious and not that social. Plus I don't sell glasses. This advice sucks!" you say. OK, I'll grant you that. It's not the same thing, selling glasses and selling dark fiction or surreal graphic novels. And, well, yeah, that overly happy voice isn't a good fit for everyone, but that isn't the point. The point is that they are social. They interact. They participate with potential customers instead of broadcast, so despite that perkiness that may not appeal to you, those principles are the same, and I'll cover them more specifically (along with examples that you may find more relevant) in next week's column.

Thanks for joining me for the inaugural Book Marketing without BS. Let me know what you think, and you have my deep appreciation for reading this far. I hope you come back again, and if you're forgetful like me, you can sign up by email.

Have a questions you'd like to see answered? Email them to

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Hard Line Against Twitter DMs for Promotion and Marketing

Stop using Twitter DMs for marketing or publicizing your stuff. Just. Stop. (You're going to like this one. It's short to read and I am telling you to do less.)

Here's why:

A minimum of 90% of the DMs I receive parrot the exact same stuff/links that is already on the sender's Twitter profile or in a bunch of their tweets. If someone's already looked at your profile and decided to add you, you don't need to repeat yourself in a DM.

"But I've got free stuff to share with followers! I need to make sure they don't miss it!" Tweet it instead. Twitter is for tweeting. You can add it to your profile, too. It won't be that hard to find. Honest.

And really, if you're tweeting it AND DMing it AND it's also on your profile, how do you think you look to people? Not like a real person interested in connecting or being social on social media. You come off as spammy to most people. (Really. See my survey results from last year about this topic.)

Remember that a DM is a personal contact, and when you use it for advertising, it's completely impersonal and it's broadcasting instead of being social/communicating.

So what's the theme here? Once again it comes down to using social media to be social. Share your business stuff/creative stuff, sure. I do it, too. But you should also talk to people, meet people, share other people's stuff you think is cool, occasionally talk about your spouse or kids, etc. Be real. Be genuine. Be an integrated human being. Be social.

TL;DR: Stop DMing your promo stuff. There's almost never a good reason for it. Send your promos in your tweets or in your profile info. Not in DMs. Or any other private message for that matter. You are not special and different. Trust me.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Power of Default Choices: Psychology, Influence, and Bank of America

This is another originally posted on This is a favourite of mine, combining some of my consumer interests and media literacy interests.

Update: It looks like reports like the one I discuss below have led to another solution. Some cursory info here:

I was browsing my beloved Consumerist the other day when I came across this piece: Bank Of America Provided Cheat Sheet To ‘Independent’Foreclosure Reviewers. (It references the original investigative work of ProPublica into the matter, which can be read here: ProPublica discovered that Bank of America (BoA) was providing default, filled-in answers for the review process of the Independent Foreclosure Review agents working on behalf of the U.S. government. Bank of America and its hired, independent investigators at Promontory denied any wrongdoing and will not review prior decisions, saying that the investigators always had the power to override default answers. I believe that this decision on their part is not only incorrect, but unethical, and I also believe that BoA knew precisely what they were doing and intended to use this default choice method to influence the investigators.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Product Placement

Until recently I thought of product placement as the corporate sponsorship only of movies and television. In the past I, like many, railed against it as the destroyer of all things creative and I never would have seen product placement in books. It made me want to watch only the indiest of indie films. It made me want to make fun of people who wore corporate logos. During this time I didn't have a television (of course I didn't) so avoiding this kind of advertising wasn't all that difficult.

Eventually my views grew more nuanced, especially as I ended up marrying someone with a TV and I grew to like a few shows. I started using a DVR and downloaded a bit more, too. This meant I saw fewer ads. Advertisers needed to find a way to get their messages in front of people; because (let's face it) they aren't going to go away. Placements are something that will continue to increase in frequency because of the way our viewing habits have changed. While I still don't like it, I understand that there's more to it than a simple sellout. There is the advertising issue I already mentioned, and - as distasteful as it is - it has become a standard part of raising funds in Hollywood for both television and movies.

Anyway, my uneasy truce with product placement carried on for a few years until I spotted some product placement in a book. "No," I thought, "It can't be. Not in a book." As luck would have it, I was dead wrong.

Comic Books: Marketing Leads to Creative Storytelling

Today I offer this delightfully informative blog post by Kendall Whitehouse (Wharton School's tech and media blogger) about transmedia and how it relates to marketing and publicity for comic books.

Transmedia: this is a term I've only seen around for a few years, and I haven't been to any panels or done in-depth research yet; however, it's a concept that appeals to me on multiple levels. Anything that crosses platforms has the potential to feel more real and more interesting. Whitehouse's blog post is what's finally inspired me to gain better understanding of the concepts of transmedia.

It's interesting to note that CZP's campaigns for Ninja Versus Pirate Featuring Zombies (NVPFZ) and Rasputin's Bastards both enter this realm. (As a reminder, I was at one time affiliated with ChiZine Publications and so almost certainly hold bias on this topic!) James Marshall, author of NVPFZ, has a blog that's mentioned in the novel by Guy Boy Man - the protagonist - and is also an actual website which is in part "authored" by Guy Boy Man. There are also NVPFZ twitter events, blog interviews and more - crossing media in fun and interesting ways. (And don't forget the Zombie Acceptance Test! The ZAT tells you whether you're cut out to be a zombie or zombie food.)

I particularly enjoy the Rasputin's Bastards website, Take a look through the video elements, the CSIS files and the articles. There's a Facebook page that you can follow, too. There are more interesting things coming for Rasputin's Bastards in the future, though you'll just have to wait and see. By the way, one of my personal favourite things that was done for this campaign was the teaser trailer, which can be found here.

I'm starting on a project soon that has me revisiting these transmedia ideas. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

(Originally posted at and slightly edited to bring it up to date.)