I took so many notes at Open Access at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre for their day-long symposium I’ve had to publish a few posts! You can read Part 1 here.
Authors know they need to participate in marketing and promotion to help their book be found but can be lost knowing where to focus. Open Access bought together a range of authors, publishers, publicist and experts to share their knowledge and experience.
How Did You Sell That Book? Publicity Campaign Case Studies was another great session on the day as it gave participants an insight into how books are promoted. The panel featured author Chris Allen and his ‘Secret Social Marketing Weapon’, wife Sarah Allen along with Debbie Mcinnes, Director of DMCPRMedia and Management Consultant and author Andrew O’Keeffe.
Chris Allen described his author brand: Old School Action Thriller Comes of Age. He wanted to have a classic and contemporary look and based the brand around Intrepid – a black-ops Interpol sub-directorate in his novels – along with his surname. It works. Intrepid Allen.
Although Chris used to think of a blog as a bit daunting, he has seen it’s a conversation starter. Website, marketing and branding are important and Chris was probably signed with an agent partly because his presence was really well set up.
Chris has discovered that he’s really comfortable working in the visual side of social media and enjoys using Pinterest. When he’s working on a book, in creating a Pinterest board it becomes a scrapbook, an inspiration. Chris Allen describes more in his blog post Pinning the Creative Writing Process.
Chris Allen is now published by Momentum, but previously had really good success self publishing. When it came time to design the covers they had ten different covers created and crowdsourced the final cover choice by Plan Big. I am interested in exploring more about how the crowd can help an author and may feature Plan Big in a future blog post.
When writing Hunter, Chris wrote on Facebook about seeking a name for the heroine. Put to the vote, the name Charlotte Rose Fleming fitted the bit perfectly, tying into his love of James Bond and 007! Engagement on social media is more important than numbers. That is really important to remember as so often as an author has to be focussed on numbers. How many books have sold? What sales channel is working best? Where are you building your network numbers? Remember though that numbers mean nothing without engagement on social media.
Sarah Allen made a really important point that I often forget – take a screenshot of everything! All the nice reviews you receive, or Facebook comments. And hustle to get reviews on every channel that your book is available. Sarah researched the bloggers that she wanted to review Defender and built relationships with them. Chris headed over the US and UK and as a result got a great range of interviews, reviews and guest posts.
Sarah shared her 7 Principles for Success when creating your author brand.
Sarah Allen sure has helped Chris. Not only did Momentum books sign him but they have also sold film and TV rights to US producers! Wow!
Don’t we ALL wish we had a secret weapon like Sarah Allen! Psst, you can too! Check out how to here.
Debbie Mcinnes, the Director of DMCPRMedia spoke next along with Andrew O’Keefe. Andrew first organised a book distributor for his novel The Boss and came to Debbie that way. Andrew had a long career in top-level human resources and Debbie could see that it would get to the general and business market and media. They started through traditional media. Andrew felt that it was really important to work with a quality publicist to see the project through.
As release of the book was before social media Debbie and Andrew worked out what would feed into traditional media. For instance there was a story in The Daily Telegraph that most people would sack their boss if they could. Debbie immediately sent out a press release referencing the story as a lead-in to the book. A perfect example of seizing the moment.
When Andrew O’Keefe came to her with another book – Hardwired Humans – he already had the website and the audience. Dr Jane Goodall, the chimpanzee expert, was speaking with Andrew to business leaders when she was in Australia. Dr Goodall agreed to launch the book so the whole thing was a great package and assured of media attention.
If you are as curious about Hardwired Humans as I was, then Andrew has a brief clip to explain the concept! View it below or see it on YouTube.
Andrew imparted his advice when dealing with radio hosts or interviewers – respect them but be prepared that they may have have had time to have only the smallest understanding of your book. Publicists in-house at a publisher can be overworked (and probably underpaid) and – although we find it hard to accept – not every book is treated the same! Often it seems that the larger authors get all the focus and marketing dollars so as a first-time author be prepared to work with your publisher – if you have one.
For a great summary of the whole day you can read this post by Mary Carter who also attended. My last post in the series will cover off the conclusion to the Open Access symposium and detail some of the things learnt from the sessions Bringing Books & Readers Closer Together and Can Self Promotion be a Creative Act?