Spend Until it Hurts

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I promised to address the subject of a marketing budget this week.

Delving into it, I discovered a frightening truth: how much money to allocate for marketing simply depends on how much you have and how famous you are.

The more your name is recognized, the less you’ll have to spend on marketing.

Do you think Stephen King has to spend much, now that his name is a literally a “household word?”

Nope.

He has people searching the internet and bookstores for his newest releases. They fly off the shelves the minute they are available for sale.

So, what I can tell you about a marketing budget is this:

Spend until it hurts.

Spend it when you can least afford it because that’s when you most need it.

When you’re rich and famous, you can sit back and rake it in…without spending a nickel.

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“Don’t Beat Your Head Against a Wall”

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It’s an old expression.  Choosing time and time again to learn, or perfect, a skill, but seeing little or no improvement no matter how much you try.

You just don’t have the knack for it—like me and making blintzes…

Tip #1 for 2018: Hire someone to do the “dirty work” for you.

I’m not giving up on marketing. But, I know my limitations and am now conceding the battle—waving the white flag.

I’m hiring an expert to assist me in accomplishing those things I just cannot do for myself…am not gifted at…would prefer not to struggle to learn anymore.

I’m throwing in the towel.

I am deciding to work smarter…not harder.

You may need to make a similar decision for yourself this year.

The internet is filled with people willing to help—for a price.

That calls for a marketing budget.

And, that calls for another blog post—

next week.

Move Over, Procrastinators–Here I Come

 

24042412056_d5c3c25f59I get my Christmas shopping done early. I’m ready. I avoid the long lines. I get first pick of what’s in the stores—what’s new for the season.

In contrast, there are the procrastinators. They wait until the last minute, braving the crowds and getting amazing deals.

Often, the very items I bought two months before those shoppers ever showed their faces in the malls, are sometimes 50-70% off a few days before Christmas!

The procrastinators are getting rewarded!

Now, if you are one of them, don’t think I am having negative thoughts about you.

Quite the contrary.

I am in awe of you. And, next year, I am joining you.

Why not?  I’ve watched the trend for the last five years and I don’t see that it is going to be any different next season.

So…watch out. Next Christmas Eve (or perhaps just a day or two prior) I will be out there with the best of you, raking in those last-minute bargains…laughing all the way home!

But, as an author, I cannot recommend procrastinating. In fact, just the opposite.

Writers need to be organized and just one-step-ahead in order to get our product out there—and thus, into shoppers’ hands in time for gift-giving.

This year, I started seeing some books marketed for Christmas as early as August. That means, by the latest, an author needs to be wrapping up the editing process, cover selection, and started on pre-marketing by mid-summer.

So, you see, the winter/spring months should really be ones filled with hard work, if you are thinking about targeting the Christmas market. To be sure, though, December isn’t the only month that is profitable. Valentine’s, Easter, and Mother’s Day are times when lots of sales can be made. So, they are great markets to focus on, also. In fact, the summer season is also hot (ha!-I didn’t see that one coming, really…) Think about all of those beachy reads…

In the past, I have just written and published when a book was ready, giving no heed to seasons, holidays, and trends. But in 2018, I’m going to give this aspect of book marketing some serious consideration–perhaps even write something with a Christmas theme…

If that idea doesn’t appeal to you, an easier route would be to simply make a boxed set of your books, or tie a virtual ribbon around your existing series and market it at a special price.

Marketing is the hardest, most time-consuming aspect of writing for me. If it is for you, too, stay tuned. I will be sending tips your way in 2018. As I learn, I will be passing ideas along, in hopes that you will share those that you have found helpful, too.

Let’s make 2018 an amazing year of getting things done.

No procrastinating!

Merry Christmas

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Here it is. Sunday afternoon.

And, just like every other Sunday, I am at the computer for the sole purpose of writing my two blogs—this one to you, my writing friends.

However, today isn’t like any other day, is it?

It’s Christmas Eve and my thoughts are fragmented. There’s a meal to prepare, last minute gifts to wrap. There are tables to set, pets to keep calm, and church to attend.

Okay. I’ll admit it. Writing is the last thing on my mind.

But, I am guessing that perhaps your mind is on other things, too. In fact, taking time to read this blog post might just be the last thing you want to be doing right now.

I get it. I really do.

So, today I’m not going to send you more writing tips, “rules”, definitions, or suggestions.

I’m just going to say, Merry Christmas. I wish you happiness, peace, and joy–deep and abiding joy–God’s gift to you through Jesus, His son.

Terrific Tuesdays

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Some years back, my sister and I used to meet up once a week for a day of shopping, with breakfast and lunch sandwiched in-between. Those “Terrific Tuesdays” were great.

We maintained the habit over the course of several years. However, our lives got busy with jobs, families, and masters’ programs, so we changed our ritual to once a month. It wasn’t long until it became two or three times a year and then, finally, we abandoned any hope of maintaining a regular schedule.

I know you can relate.

I should have hung onto those days like gold. We should have found a way…

So, just how does that relate to writing?

Well, let’s say that I have my writing calendar all filled out, appropriating 4-6 hours of writing  to each day of the week.

But, then the holidays come along and I’m torn between writing and meeting a friend for coffee and catching up on old times. Or, on a trip to visit Grandma for Christmas, I feel compelled to sneak up to the guest room and hammer out the plot for my next book while my kids remain downstairs helping to decorate the tree.

The truth is, there’s just no other way to create memories unless you’ve been there in the first place.

In the long run, whether our book comes out in March or May will not really matter. But, our interactions with others—our relationships—will grow, or they will die on the vine, depending on how much we cultivate them.

Take time to nurture yourself and others without guilt over meeting your writing goals.

I know there are very talented authors who will tell you to write everyday no matter what. I used to believe that. And, it led to a lot of heartache.

This year, I’m giving myself permission to take part in the celebration of the season, to laugh, to foster relationships, to turn off my computer and shut my office door.

No, this year I won’t be writing during the week of Christmas.

Instead, I will be making memories that will last a lifetime.

Sharing Good Advice

Uruguay, Montevideo:   Inside a bookstore.

I recently went to another writing conference. One of the speakers, best-selling author Jennifer Ashley, offered her perspective on what sells books (and she should know because she has written more than 100 of them). I’ll share her TOP THREE ideas:

First, connect with your readers. She says the best way ISN’T Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is, in her opinion, good writing. So, she says to focus on your writing 90% of the time. The other 10% can be devoted to marketing.

Secondly, you must have an Intriguing Premise, so followers will want to read/learn more.

Finally, write about iconic characters, such as firemen, policemen, and cowboys.

I hope these little nuggets are useful to you, especially to those of you who may be choosing characters for a new book, considering the message you want to get across, or facing a marketing vs. writing crisis.

Christmas Letter

 

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On my “To-Do” list this week, is writing my yearly Christmas letter to friends and family. I am making a list of trips, health updates, and accomplishments I’d like to include.

That got me to thinking about YOU and what I’d like to share as the Christmas season fast approaches.

First of all, I’d like you to know how much I appreciate your encouragement and support by reading/commenting on my blogs each week. I hope they have been both helpful and encouraging to you as we walk this “writing road” together.

To catch you up on what I am doing, currently, I can say that my Beta Readers are doing their work right now, critiquing Simon Says. I look forward to hearing from them over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, I am busy writing back cover copy, revising my “About the Author” page, looking at a myriad possibilities for the front cover, and jotting down ideas for the second book in the series.

Finally, I am finishing up the manuscript for my second interactive Alzheimer’s book, I Remember Bible Stories,” as well as interviewing illustrators.

On a more personal level, I continue to be more involved in my parents’ lives at their care center and am taking on some of my mother’s previous roles, such as the big family gathering on Christmas Day. I am fortunate to live near a Honey Baked Ham store, as I am planning the meal around a nice spiral-cut ham.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years as you move ahead toward both your personal and writing goals.

Brenda