THE HASHTAG


THE HASHTAG

Since opening an Instagram account, I’ve become fascinated by the power of the hashtags.

Hashtags are words preceded by the pound symbol (without spaces). These key words or phrases categorize posts. For example I use #TexasPanhandle on every one of my Instragram pictures. Through the use these key words and phrases, you can follow anything of interest including places, people, hobbies, food, fashion, special interest groups, companies, TV shows, movies, etc.

The birthplace of the hashtag symbol first happened on Twitter. Discussions became trackable and content can be organized using hashtags. Twitter hashtags allows for “trends”, or specific topics in conversation that you’d like to follow or become engaged by posting comments.

So how can writers benefit from using hashtags?

Create hashtags for your book titles, character names, author events, or use key topics that relate to your books when you post something.

Social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine utilize hashtags to maximize shareability. Popular hashtags will help you pick up followers who are interested in the same things, and will help you discover new accounts. So what’s popular or trending now, you might ask. Go to hashtags.org to find out.

Follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram! Links are located on the home page of my website at www.nataliebright.com

#havefun #write

Marketing, Promotion, Social Media


Marketing, Promotion, Social Media

By Natalie Bright

The concept of marketing has changed greatly over the years since I minored in this vocation in college. We learned about target markets and ad copy, much the same terms used today, but a marketing plan involved the precise art of ‘targeting’ a clearly identified group of consumers through printed magazine and newspaper ads, snail mail flyers, radio, television, and other buzz generating tools.  It was a labor intensive process utilizing lots of brain power in which timing was the key. Everything relating to that product or service had to hit consumers from all avenues at the same time. Sales numbers provided measurable results. If you were serious about selling, a marketing plan was best left to the professionals.

In my opinion, promotion on the other hand was ongoing, and included everything related to that product such as the author or owner, the store front, etc. In the case of authors, they kept writing and waited for their publisher to identify a plan for marketing their latest release. Not that long ago, options left up to authors were snail mail postcards, speaking events and bookstore autographing.

It’s a New Day!

Times have changed. In my mind, the distinctions between marketing and promotion have blurred.  Authors have an abundance of promotional options available, and the concept of identifying a specific ‘target audience’ has basically been thrown out the window. Let’s tell everybody we know, and they’ll share with everybody they know, and someone, somewhere will discover our book.  This realization hit me in a big way this past month.

One of my short stories, which I had written in 2006, was selected for an anthology published by a university press released during this past holiday. You might have seen the blog post about it right here on Wordsmith Six, WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS STORIES is a collection of stories by West Texas authors by ACU Press, compiled and edited by Glenn Dromgoole.

The publisher asked that authors help promote the book. As most university presses have extremely limited budgets, I wasn’t surprised at this request. I tweeted, Facebooked, and sent private emails to friends and family sharing the news. I also gave away numerous review copies, asking people to please post on Goodreads and Amazon. A specific marketing plan was never considered.

Promotion Results

Recently I began receiving notes of appreciation about how much people had enjoyed the collection of stories. My Uncle gave copies to all of his friends in Colorado. One of my high school English teachers sent me a message through Facebook saying how much she enjoyed the book, and shared that they had sent copies to all of their friends which included a star by my name. She also asked that I let her know when my next book comes out. So, wow! How does a little collection of holiday stories grow legs like that and go places?

The great thing about social media is that it’s everywhere, can be done anytime, and is nonstop.  The bad thing about social media is that it’s everywhere, day or night exhausting, immeasurable, and can rule your life.  There’s no way to know where your tweets will land. There’s no immediate result that you can attribute to your efforts, so don’t even stress over it. The good thing about being an author in today’s social media climate is that we can do something everyday to promote ourselves and our work. It only takes a few seconds, and then we can go back to writing.

Oh, The Place You Might Go!

How many social media outlets are you utilizing? Even if you’re new to writing and unpublished, start today and begin building your social network. You can never imagine the places it may take you and your work. And as I’ve learned, don’t give up on your work. You never know where it might land, even years later.

Thanks for following Wordsmith Six, and please SHARE our posts with your friends!

nataliebright.com

MAKING RETAIL CONNECTIONS


Making Retail Connections

By Natalie Bright

If you’ve self-published a book, it’s up to you to establish retail connections.

An author once told me that he’d only intended to write the book, and never wanted to be a book salesman. Now he’s traveling around with a car full of books. Welcome to the reality of today’s publishing world.  How are people going to read your book, if they don’t know it exists?

As the CEO of YOU, guess who is in charge of book promotion?

Make the Connection

While the internet offers a multitude of book promotion opportunities, for this particular post, I want to talk specifically about working with retail outlets and how to approach owners or managers.

On cold calls, approach them in a friendly, cooperative manner, introduce yourself and ask if they’d like to see your book. Most bookstore owners are always interested in talking to authors. Ask them if it’s a subject their customers might like. Information flyers and postcards work as well. When I receive inquiries in regards to my middle grade book, OIL PEOPLE, I offer to leave the store manager a preview copy. If it’s an inquiry by phone or email, I always offer to mail a preview copy. Be sure to include promo copies in your budget.

Store Owners Rule

Retail stores have to realize at least a 50% to 60% markup in the items they sell. They have a store front to operate which includes payroll, building utilities, and inventory expense.

DO NOT tell the storeowner the retail price. It’s their store, they set the price. Business owners are independent and territorial. If you tell them how to run their business, you’ll be out the door in a flash. Quote them the price you need, and you can suggest a retail price but ultimately the cost to customers is the store owners decision.

Setting the Price

If you self-publish, you have to leave a little wiggle room when setting your price. I hear this complaint all of the time and it is confusing to self-published writers. Authors quote the price printed on their book or the over-inflated price they paid for printing, expecting that’s the price they are due. Shop around and find the best possible printing deal in order to keep your price per book as low as possible. Hopefully, you’ll have room to make a few bucks, and the store comes out ahead as well.

Retail owners are in business to make a profit. If business owners’ efforts aren’t going to generate dollars to pay for the cost of staying open, it’s not worth having your book take up valuable shelf space.

The key, I think, is being able to offer a low price to retail outlets and being able to negotiate a price without being too pushy.

Consider ALL Possibilities

Major chain bookstores may not be an option to self-published authors for many reasons which are beyond your control. Are there specialty shops in your area? What about possible connections through family and friends?

Think about cross-selling. If you have a book of poetry, why not approach a lingerie shop? If you have a children’s book about horses, drop by a saddle and tack store or the local feed store. Stop stressing over things you can’t control and consider all of the possibilities, and keep writing!

Natalie Bright

MAKING RETAIL CONNECTIONS


Making Retail Connections

By Natalie Bright

If you’ve self-published a book, it’s up to you to establish retail connections.

An author once told me that he’d only intended to write the book, and never wanted to be a book salesman. Now he’s traveling around with a car full of books. Welcome to the reality of today’s publishing world.  How are people going to read your book, if they don’t know it exists?

As the CEO of YOU, guess who is in charge of book promotion?

Make the Connection

While the internet offers a multitude of book promotion opportunities, for this particular post, I want to talk specifically about working with retail outlets and how to approach owners or managers.

On cold calls, approach them in a friendly, cooperative manner, introduce yourself and ask if they’d like to see your book. Most bookstore owners are always interested in talking to authors. Ask them if it’s a subject their customers might like. Information flyers and postcards work as well. When I receive inquiries in regards to my middle grade book, OIL PEOPLE, I offer to leave the store manager a preview copy. If it’s an inquiry by phone or email, I always offer to mail a preview copy. Be sure to include promo copies in your budget.

Store Owners Rule

Retail stores have to realize at least a 50% to 60% markup in the items they sell. They have a store front to operate which includes payroll, building utilities, and inventory expense.

DO NOT tell the storeowner the retail price. It’s their store, they set the price. Business owners are independent and territorial. If you tell them how to run their business, you’ll be out the door in a flash. Quote them the price you need, and you can suggest a retail price but ultimately the cost to customers is the store owners decision.

Setting the Price

If you self-publish, you have to leave a little wiggle room when setting your price. I hear this complaint all of the time and it is confusing to self-published writers. Authors quote the price printed on their book or the over-inflated price they paid for printing, expecting that’s the price they are due. Shop around and find the best possible printing deal in order to keep your price per book as low as possible. Hopefully, you’ll have room to make a few bucks, and the store comes out ahead as well.

Retail owners are in business to make a profit. If business owners’ efforts aren’t going to generate dollars to pay for the cost of staying open, it’s not worth having your book take up valuable shelf space.

The key, I think, is being able to offer a low price to retail outlets and being able to negotiate a price without being too pushy.

Consider ALL Possibilities

Major chain bookstores may not be an option to self-published authors for many reasons which are beyond your control. Are there specialty shops in your area? What about possible connections through family and friends?

Think about cross-selling. If you have a book of poetry, why not approach a lingerie shop? If you have a children’s book about horses, drop by a saddle and tack store or the local feed store. Stop stressing over things you can’t control and consider all of the possibilities, and keep writing!

Natalie Bright