Authors Break Laws Without Knowing It

3 marketing mondayThat’s right, there are authors out there breaking laws without knowing it, and you might just be one of them. I’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements by indie authors lately, which is great–but I came to the abrupt realization that some of these authors may be breaking the laws of trademark without knowing it. The reason? I’m seeing more and more authors utilizing the trademark logos of those vendors that currently sell their novels. This struck me because many of these vendors hold strict trademark laws over their logos, and they are even more strict on letting people use these logos. While I am sure some of these authors may have received permission from the companies, I highly doubt many of them have (the advertisements lack the disclosure materially required by the vendors). The process of approval of using a trademark involves a tedious process that just wouldn’t be worth the effort for a two day sale when you can simply use the name of the company. Now, you may be wondering, why do they care so much that I use their logo? They sell my books after all! Yes, they do sell your books, but their logo represents dollar symbols for them, and not only that, it represents an implied endorsement of that trademark. Trademark can be tricky, while you can mention a name of a company in your novel (see THIS article for the specifics) as long as it’s not in a disparaging way, using it in an advertisement is a completely different animal. This is especially true if you have your name next to it. Here are the specific requirements of book vendors you may be using:

AMAZON-

Amazon used to completely forbid the usage of their trademarked logos for Kindle and the Amazon.com website, but they have became a tad bit more lenient. When I say a “tad bit”, I mean it. They allow it, but they sure as hell won’t make it easy. They are “excited” to offer you the ability to do it if you jump through hoops. Now, let me preface this with the fact that I have not personally attempted to do this, as I don’t run sales for long enough that the time involved would be beneficial.  If you’re an author who has contacted Amazon and received permission, please be sure to leave a comment below about the process and the ease or difficulty of it. Amazon’s very specific guidelines are listed below and you can view the entire article by clicking any where within it:

These Guidelines apply to your use of trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. and/or its affiliates (“Amazon“), including AMAZON, KINDLE, KINDLE FIRE, the AMAZON KINDLE logo and the KINDLE FIRE logo (each a “Trademark” and collectively the “Trademarks“). Strict compliance with these Guidelines is required at all times, and any use of a Trademark in violation of these Guidelines will automatically terminate any license related to your use of the Trademarks.

1. You may use the Trademark solely for the purpose expressly authorized by Amazon and your use must: (i) comply with the most up-to-date version of all agreement(s) with Amazon regarding your use of the Trademarks (collectively “Agreements“); (ii) comply with the most up-to-date version of these Guidelines; and (iii) comply with any other terms, conditions, or policies that Amazon may issue from time to time that apply to the use of the Trademark.
2. We will supply an approved Trademark image for you to use. You may not alter the Trademark in any manner, including but not limited to, changing the proportion, color, or font of the Trademark, or adding or removing any element(s) from the Trademark.
3. You may only use the Trademark as specifically authorized under the Agreements.
4. You may not use the Trademark in any manner that implies sponsorship or endorsement by Amazon.
5. You may not use the Trademark to disparage Amazon, its products or services, or in a manner which, in Amazon’s sole discretion, may diminish or otherwise damage or tarnish Amazon’s goodwill in the Trademark.
6. The Trademark must appear by itself, with reasonable spacing between each side of the Trademark and other visual, graphic or textual elements. Under no circumstance should the Trademark be placed on any background which interferes with the readability or display of the Trademark.
7. You must include the following statement in any materials that display the Trademark: “Amazon, Kindle, Kindle Fire, the Amazon Kindle logo and the Kindle Fire logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.”
8. You acknowledge that all rights to the Trademark are the exclusive property of Amazon, and all goodwill generated through your use of the Trademark will inure to the sole benefit of Amazon. You will not take any action that is in conflict with Amazon’s rights in, or ownership of, the Trademark.

 

Amazon reserves the right, exercisable at its sole discretion, to modify these Guidelines and/or the approved Trademarks at any time and to take appropriate action against any use without permission or any use that does not conform to these Guidelines.

If you have questions about these Guidelines, please contact trademarks@amazon.com for assistance, or write to us at: Amazon.com, Inc., Attention: Trademarks, PO Box 81226 Seattle, WA 98108-1226.

Now, number four is where this all becomes very tricky for the author. You want to put their logo on your advertisement and in any way you shake that, it pretty much amounts to an endorsement. Then there’s number five–another key to the fact many of these authors are breaking trademark law–you have to give ample space between other symbols. The fact is, Amazon doesn’t play nice with Barnes & Noble, and for that matter, Kobo, or anyone else. The final nail in the trademark infringement coffin? Number Seven! Each book vendor requires the same disclosure for each of their trademarks with their names disclosed–in a small advertisement where you want to give your novel presence, you would be giving more presence to disclosure for trademark usage. Furthermore, upon more research there are logo guidelines that also must be adhered to and give size, colors, etc that can be used (see HERE). The good news is, as an author selling through their digital media, you become exempt to the written authorization requirement as long as you use their approved logos (see HERE) and use the words Available For or Available From while still adhering to the above quoted usage regulations.

BARNES & NOBLE-

I wasn’t able to find any information relating specifically to advertisements that was outside of their normal terms and conditions. These Terms and Conditions are agreed upon when you sign up for Nook Press. Below is the portion on Trademark (for the full Terms and Condtions see HERE)

II. TRADEMARKS
Barnes & Noble.com, Barnes & Noble, Inc., or their respective parents, subsidiaries, or affiliates, or third parties from whom Barnes & Noble.com has permission, own the trademarks or service marks that are used on the Barnes & Noble.com Site. All rights are reserved. These and other graphics, logos, service marks, trademarks and trade dress of Barnes & Noble.com and its licensors may not be used without prior written consent of Barnes & Noble.com or its licensor, as the case may be. Without limiting the foregoing, no Barnes & Noble.com trademark or trade dress may be used in connection with any product or service that is not Barnes & Noble.com’s, in any manner that is likely to cause confusion among Users, or in any manner that disparages or discredits Barnes & Noble.com.

It’s safe to assume that Barnes and Noble operates it’s logo and trademark usage much like that of Amazon, with the exception that it may be even harder to receive permission to use the logo. It appears that there is no exemptions as is allowed on Amazon on the written agreement requirement.

KOBO-

Unfortunately, the most guidance I found was to look at the Kobo Brand Guidelines, which I found on the ABA, but wasn’t able to open without joining and paying a fee. Again, it’s safe to assume that their business operates under the same guidelines of other major booksellers.

Head spinning yet? Now, if you’ve violated this– you may just get a cease and desist order, or you may never hear anything at all (a lawsuit could occur, but it’s cost-prohibitive, so the most you will probably get is the order). What you do risk is readers, agents or publishers that do know these laws seeing you as being less professional, when you were only attempting to appear more professional. In the end sticking with the simple usage of the company that your books are sold at is easier, and leaves less room for reputation risk for your brand as an author. You can still create a killer advertisement without those logos, and in all honesty, if you sell at more than two retailers, the logos just clutter the advertisement and take away from your goal– intriguing the reader and getting them to “One-Click” your novel.

 

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My Author Ethics

DisclosuresAs a published author it is important to acknowledge that certain ethics come with the job. I pride myself in being professional with a high level of honestly, integrity and passion. I write many of my blog posts from my experience in the publishing and sales world. My publishing background has evolved from my original journey as a self-published author in 2012 to an Indie Amazon Bestseller as of today. My sales background includes ten years in sales, seven of which have been spent in the financial industry, including six years experience as a supervisor and top selling agent for the institution I worked for. I am currently a Retail Banking Operations Manager and Project Manager who develops Sales Campaigns, Initiatives and Training programs for the bank, along with numerous duties involving maintenance of 220+ procedures (writing, editing, creating and monitoring) and marketing projects. I am also studying to receive my degree in Marketing and plan on pursuing a second degree in Graphic Design.

BLOG reviewsAs a published author, my reading has taken a significant hit because of time restrictions, but also ethical issues. It’s much easier to write a review when you aren’t an author. When you are, any criticism is not taken kindly. That being said I would like to disclose the following as my strict policies for reviewing:

  1. I never accept review copies from other authors. If asked I will politely decline and advise that I will look at the book description, and if interested, I will purchase the book and review it in my own time.
  2. I will no longer post reviews of Self-Published or Independent Authors that are three stars and under. I will rate the novel as is such on Goodreads, and post that the author may contact me for a full review if they are interested. I will not rate novels under three stars of authors I personally know or have an acquaintance with. This creates a blackmail situation in which I do not wish to be involved.
  3. I will follow the following format when reviewing novels:
  • Star Ratings can and may have 1/2 Stars
  • Each Review will include an Overall Star Rating
  • Each Review will be broken down into the following individual Star Ratings with explanations for the ratings:

-Book Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Cover: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Plot: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Creativity: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Grammar: 1-5 Stars; 5 being error free (this will NEVER happen, not even with major pubbed books)

-Simile Use: 1-5 Stars; 5 stars being the best, meaning no similes were used. 1 meaning similes were used in excess and pulled me out of the novel.

-Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Show Not Tell: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best- dialogue driven without excessive and obtrusive description

Additionally, please keep the following in mind for reviews of my novels:

  1. I do not respond to negative reviews of my own novels, but I may, at my discretion, respond to positive reviews.
  2. I never pay for reviews.
  3. I do directly contact bloggers to request reviews.
  4. I will never ask a reviewer to not post a review because it doesn’t show my novel in the best light. That is their right. If they are a part of the blog tour for the release of the novel that is hosted by myself and or my publisher, I will state that I prefer the review not be posted as a part of the tour–but I do not require/condemn it.
  5. You can contact me if you would like to review any of my novels via Goodreads messaging.
  6. I may share good reviews on Social Media, but will not concentrate on them.
  7. I hold the right to not read each and every review that is written for my novels.
  8. I disclose that I do not read reviews of my novel that are personal attacks (yes, these do happen).
  9. I disclose that I do not tend to read reviews that are 2 stars or under.
  10. I respect a reviewers opinion. I acknowledge that my writing style is not for everyone.
  11. Don’t be surprised if I like a JPEG you created for your review and ask if I can use it in marketing materials, but I will always ask permission and give credit on the materials to your blog or you.
  12. I save all fan art to my Pintrest board.

ARCAny reviews posted before the release date of my novels will be of UNEDITED Advance Reader Copies (hence referred to as ARCs). An ARC is an unedited Galley that is distributed by myself and my publisher before the publication date to solicit early reviewers; this includes both electronic and paperback additions. The novel is disclosed as an ARC with with words “Unedited Advance Reader Copy” on the electronic or paperback cover. The following disclosure is issued to each receiver of the ARC from myself and my publisher:

This is an UNEDITED Advance Reader Copy that will contain grammar and syntax errors. The final version of this novel may appear slightly different in content, but plot and characters will remain the same.

E-ARCS will additionally have the following disclosure:

This novel is a review copy for your use and your use only. This file is not to be shared, forwarded, or otherwise misused under copyright law.

The paperback versions will be used for promotional purposes and will also include the word “PROOF” on the back page. This will never be sold for a profit. Additional information and format changes may occur before the final version is released.

In addition to being used to solicit early reviewers, the electronic version will be utilized as a gift to those that participate in Promotional Events before the release date of the novel, including, but not limited to, cover reveals. If you participate in a Promotional Event and are given an E-ARC, reviews are welcome, but not required.

Reviewers are asked to take into account that any copies (ARCs) given before the publishing date contain such errors.

Feature FridayI do cross promote other authors on my blog. This doesn’t necessarily mean I have read their work, but I do believe in assisting other authors in their goals. I reserve Fridays as promotional days for other authors, but may participate in tours on other days if they cannot or do not fall on a Friday. My release dates (including cover reveals) do fall on Fridays, and I will promote my own novel on Feature Fridays. Feature Friday is open to authors to approach myself for interviews, cover reveals, or other promotional items with the exception of reviews (see the above review policy).

BLOG ratingPG-18

While I have published Young Adult novels, and write/illustrate Children’s Novels, this blog will be utilized to promote my New Adult novel and other novels in the genre. Thus, the rating is PG-18 due to slight to moderate sexual content and language that may be contained in Excerpts or Teasers.

Sales Saturday: Press Releases

It would appear that just like paperbacks are waning, so is the traditional newspaper. The newspaper isn’t dead, though–it’s found a different format–the internet.  The newspaper and other media distributors are a great source for authors to advertise. The reason is simple–it’s FREE. If you write a great press release then you will get free marketing from the distributor that you have inquired with. There are some basics that are a bit obvious: make sure your grammar is correct and the press release is free of typos, you include pertinent information, and you include websites for the readers to get additional information, but how do you find out where to send your press release?

First and foremost, you will want to post your press release on your own website. This can often be forgotten when you are sending them off to a dozen or so media sources. The next thing you should do is find vendors that are in the location of your event, or if your event is online–or is simply just announcing the release of your book, vendors that will find sympathy and wish to post your information. Either way location can be quite important as far as where you are. It makes no sense for me, as a author from Connecticut, to send a press release to a vendor in California. The reason I say this is that many papers are locally run, and thus, they strongly support businesses and writers in their area. Yes, I want people in California to buy my book, but it would be a waste of time for me to send a press release to a paper that has no gain in promoting me. If you want to reach people outside of your local you can hire an agency such as PRNewsChannel or connect with bloggers who may be interested in posting your press release. As far as working with bloggers to issue press releases, I have found that asking for participation in cover reveals, book blitzes, and blog tours is much more effective because they aren’t as dry and bland. Press releases are meant to cut to the point and while a well written one is a pleasure to read, they aren’t much more than 200 words. I can’t recall the last time I saw a blogger post a press release; however, I’m quite sure that if I asked many would help. It just becomes redundant if these bloggers are also helping out with any of the other marketing events that I described.

I’ve personally had a lot of luck with press releases–I’ve had two of them printed in the local newspaper and the third one was posted on their website. I know who my local papers are, and they do try to support local authors. My first press release caught the attention of the Bulletin, and instead of just a bland press release, I was interviewed and reported on in the paper– it was an amazing experience!

As you can see press releases are very important for letting your local community know that you exist and how to find you. The press release may be intimidating, because as an author you have already written so much. You have a zillion posts for blog tours, and you already had to sum up your 50k+ book into -300 words! After all that, a press release is a little thing. The first one I wrote took me a good two hours, but with time it gets easier. You get a format that works for you and you run with it; the press release for Love Exactly took me about 15 minutes! So here are the basics:

  1. Know your vendors and follow their guidelines (the Bulletin requires less than 200 words in length, proper grammar, free of typos, and sent within 2 weeks of the asked for post date).
  2. Include the day you want the release to go out. You will see most sample press releases say “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”–don’t just go with this because the sample says it. This tells the paper to release it as soon as they can, but if you want it to run on a specific date, you will want to note this.
  3. Make it snappy! You want it to draw in the reader, so throw in something to make them interested.
  4. It’s okay to add in something like “the highly anticipated release”–it is for you, isn’t it? This catch line will keep the person reading, and then they may look you up to see what’s so awesome and forthcoming.
  5. Include your website and contact information.
  6. If it’s an event be sure to include dates, times and rain dates, if applicable.
  7. Don’t forget to talk about your book–throw in something from your book blurb, but don’t try to fit the whole thing in! You won’t be able to fit your whole book blurb into a press release for most local papers due to length restrictions (they post these for FREE for you, so they don’t want to take up too much space).
  8. Don’t forget to send it out once you write it!
  9. Make sure you list your credentials or previous works (if you have a lot you may just want to sum up a few key points).
  10. Follow-up to make sure you know when they will be posting it so you can grab up a few copies for yourself!

newspaper

Here is the press release for Love Exactly sent to the Bulletin and others yesterday:

FOR RELEASE ON OR WITHIN THE WEEK OF JUNE 20, 2013

Cassandra Giovanni’s highly anticipated debut into the New Adult genre, Love Exactly, will be released on June 20, 2013. Giovanni debuted onto shelves in May of 2012 with her unique take on Young Adult post-apocalyptic fiction, In Between Seasons (The Fall, #1). Later that year her Young Adult Romantic Suspense novel, Walking in the Shadows was released, and in January 2013 her first Children’s Illustrated novel, The Adventures of Skippy Von Flippy was released. Giovanni continues to blaze her path in the publishing world with her Contemporary Romance Love Exactly. The novel concentrates on the protagonist’s struggle to keep her dark past in the confines of her memory while handling a budding relationship with a famous musician who is just as reluctant to let someone in as she is. Emma Walker was a writer who’d lost herself to someone else’s anger–who had given up on ever feeling like herself again. Evan Levesque was a rock-god–the one all the woman wanted, but he’d never gotten used to the loneliness between the stage and real life. Together they will find out what it means to be in Love Exactly. A release signing will be held on June 22, 2013 at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT from 2:30-4:30 PM. For more information please contact Bank Square Books at (860) 536-3795 or visit http://www.cgiovanni.com.

Work in Progress:Marketing the Tour

Right now the manuscript just came back from my Beta readers hands. She found some great typos, and pointed out some minor changes that need to be made. It’s still in the hands of my amazing editor, Whyte Rose Violet & Scribes, but should be back by the week’s end. While I wait to hear back I’ve been working on marketing the blog tour, as well as the full paperback cover. There will be a release day blitz hosted by Girls Heart Books on June 20th, and then two weeks of tours for the books. The first week, June 24-30 will also be hosted by Girls Heart Books. The second week, July 1-7 has been managed by me. It’s a huge task to take on, but I’m really happy with the way things are shaping up. Here is the schedule (just waiting to hear back from one of my author fabulous bloggers, Babblings of a Bookaholic), along with tour button.

blog tour button

 

Blog Tour Dates and Stops:

July 1:

·         Sara–http://enthralledbybooks.blogspot.com/

Excerpt and Playlist

·         Danielle–http://denaliskies.wordpress.com/

Guest Post—Steamy Vs. Beautiful Sex Scenes

·         Amy–http://www.the-book-diaries.blogspot.com/

Review and Favorites Excerpt

 

July 2:

·         Maggie—http://maggiethom.com/

(Possible) Review and Interview

·         Tiffany–http://tiffanylovesbooks.wordpress.com/

Dream Cast

·         My Guilty Obsession—http://myguiltyobsession.blogspot.com/

Review and My Favorite Excerpt (guest post/excerpt combo—my fav and why)

 

July 3:

·         Julie–http://chapterbreak.wordpress.com/

Guest Post—Pros and Cons of being Self-Published

·         Dee–http://www.thebookwranglers.com/

Review and Interview

·         Faith–http://sweetreez.wordpress.com/

Faith’s choice playlist and dreamcast

 

July 4:

·         Nitzan-Katia Schwarz–http://drugscalledbooks.blogspot.co.il/

Guest Post—10 things I never thought I’d tell you

·         Rebekkah—http://themusingwriter.blogspot.com/?

Character Interview—Evan

·         Kimberely—http://kimberleyjones17.blogspot.com/

Guest Post—Making Sparks Fly

·         Krystal–http://enchantingreads7.blogspot.com/

Review and Evan’s Tattoo’s Guest Post 

 

July 5:

·         Tanya–http://abookparadise.blogspot.co.uk/

Guest Post-How I fell in love with writing again

·         Martha–http://theshortone08.blogspot.com/

Review

·         Mary Sue–http://marysuehobika.wordpress.com/

Interview

 

July 6:

·         Nicole–http://bookaddictedaa.blogspot.com/

Character Top 10—Evan’s for writing music

·         Vanessa– http://www.boekiesbookreviews.com/

·         Mandy–http://twimom101bookblog.blogspot.com/

Guest Post—YA Vs. NA

·         Jessica Tornese–http://jessicatornese.com/

Guest Post—Writing Rituals (where I write)

 

July 7:

·         Krista–http://breatheinbooks.blogspot.com/

Review and favorites excerpt

·         Kirsty–http://kvlovesbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

Character Interview–Emma

·         Christine–http://www.shebookblogs.com/

Review, Excerpt and playlist

Other exciting things happening will be the huge giveaway scavenger hunt. Each of the tour stops will have a bold term, which will earn an extra entry into the giveaway. What’s in the giveaway? Lots of great stuff, of course! There will be more to come on that later. New authors out there, blog tours are a huge part of a successful marketing plan. One thing to be clear is that they aren’t about increasing, but about increasing sales as well as exposure. This is about branding your style as an author and connecting with your readers. This is why giveaways are a great thing to have, the scavenger hunt is an even better way to get the readers involved on each stop. This is great marketing because each stop has something unique to offer, you solidify the want for the novel, and it also creates great marketing for the actual blogger who has assisted you by participating. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that blog tours are a lot of work, first there is the finding of bloggers, the organizing of the dates and the events. The events–that’s the biggest amount of work. There are a lot of posts to write, lists, character biographies and interviews. It’s ALL worth it, because honestly, just like writing a book, it’s amazing fun! I can’t wait for you to see the different posts on the tours!

As for the paperback cover–I’m having some trouble choosing the back cover photograph. Here are the choices. What do you think? It will be set to the lower right corner and will fade into the black background of the cover, and in case you are wondering, yes that is me.

back1 back2

The Book Marketing Essentials

Book marketing is a trial and error sort of business, but in my experience, most marketing is. You have to find what works for not only you, but for your target market–for your novel and your goals. The whole idea can be daunting, especially for those authors who claim hermacy is a huge benefit of being a writer. I’m not a hermit–I’m pretty sure all of you know that by now. Marketing is all about being bold, taking necessary risks, falling on your butt and getting back up again. It’s about determination and drive, and it’s anything but simple. There are some ‘essentials’ that I think can work for most every author, and that should/will be essential to every author if they wish to be successful. Yes, you need a marketing plan (PART 2 coming this Saturday), but we can be even more simple than that. A marketing plan can be overwhelming for a new author just entering the business, and while I implore that it’s very important–there are more basic things you should do. Just four simple steps:

  1. Readers come first- Yes, I know you write for yourself, but you’re staring at this page for a reason. You want to be successful! In the business world the client should always come first–word of mouth marketing is priceless in so many ways. Word of mouth is literally priceless, you don’t have to pay anything for it and not only that, it’s also the best, most profitable way that you can get your book out there. Why? I can sit here and tell you my book is amazing , it really is–I promise. Do you believe me? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The thing is the person who is the author will, of course, believe their novel is good–that’s why authors shouldn’t review their own novels. I’m going to be blunt, I see an author has reviewed their own novel and I roll my eyes. The reason word of mouth is the best is because consumers trust their friends, family, and even reviews more than they trust you. That they should, those opinions are more likely to be honest and unbiased. Your review of your novel cannot and will never be unbiased. Thus, your reader must come first. Happy readers tell their friends and family about you and promote you whenever they can. They paid to buy your book and they become your own promotion party (or lynch mob). Yes, you wrote the novel for yourself, but when you publish it you’re publishing it for your readers. You need to keep them in mind–especially on things like Goodreads, Facebook, your website and your blog. By interacting with your readers in a genuine way you show you care. This will make them far more apt to tell all their friends about you. It will become “I got to read this great book, and not only that–she/he is a great person!”. You can accomplish this by actively interacting on Goodreads, and when you are large enough starting Q&A groups where you interact with directly with the readers. No matter how big or small you are, your readers have the opportunity to take your career to new heights, so respect them and genuinely care about them. Go the extra mile.
  2. Sponsor Events– I can imagine that reading that probably made your head go into a tail spin. I don’t mean anything huge–I’m talking something like customer appreciation. It doesn’t need to be anything complex–it’s just going the extra mile to show you care. A great “event” is throwing a week long free promotion, or when you reach so many “likes” a signed paperback to a winner. You should find something that your readers enjoy and run with that. I’ve discovered that signed paperbacks are very popular, but to you they may be costly. Things that can be very cost effective are hand made swag items–I’ve used a variety of things, but I am very excited for the swag I’ve developed for my new novel, Just One Cup and the great part is, my readers are too. I’ve learned readers love swag.
  3. Don’t always talk about you– It is hard to read other books when you are trying to pound out a handful or more a year, but I cannot stress the importance of this. Read other authors, review them, support other authors and host them on your blog or website. This not only shows that you aren’t completely self-absorbed, it’s word of mouth for another author, and you show a bit of your personality with what you read. I would advise to not slander another author. It’s a tricky line when you are reading another person’s book, whether or not you know them. I often post updates of my thoughts on Goodreads–and I’ll be honest, they aren’t always shining. The thing I do make sure I do when I write a not so favorable review is to make sure it’s clear that it’s my opinion, and I’m not right. The worst thing you can do is write a review like you are God’s gift to reviewing, because then it looks like you as an author are a complete @$$.
  4. Collaboration and networking are goldYou can very effectively tie in  2 and 4 together. If you are networking with other bloggers, specifically book bloggers who are helping you, give them incentive to help you. No, I don’t mean a bribe–I mean something to thank them. What you will do is create strong relationships with bloggers who will tell more bloggers about you. It’s word of mouth again. Another thing is to make sure that when they ask you to do something, you do your best to do it for them. If someone wants to interview you, jump at it, someone wants a guest post, do it. I must advise that these things do take up a massive amount of time, but they are fully worth it. A great way to network is to check out Goodreads and meet bloggers there. I don’t mean you go on there and start spamming people. I mean you go there and interact to form genuine relationships with the bloggers. Then when you need their help, they will be more than happy to oblige. Collaborating with other authors is another key to the situation–host other authors on your blog. I’ve done this a few times–I find an author that I love, read their book, review it and then contact them for a guest post or interview. The great part is that they might return the favor–if they don’t it is still rewarding to know you helped another author. A word of caution I put here is trading reviews. I don’t do it. Why? It’s kind of like blackmail. You can’t give an honest opinion without fear of retribution on their review of your novel. Thus, when I am contacted by authors asking me to review their novels I kindly decline and instead tell them that if I read their synopsis and find it interesting I might pick up the novel on my own time, with my own money. I tell them that they can do the same for mine if they would like. I then offer to host them on my blog either way.

Oh, and never ever respond to someone’s review of your book, or tell your friend to respond to a review of your book that wasn’t fully to your liking. You might want to, but what you might do is alienate a potential reader of your other novels–a potential word of mouth promoter. Some negative publicity is always good anyways–not every reader will love your style, or all of your books, but they might love some of them. They might even  enjoy watching you grow as a writer, BUT if you respond to their thoughts you will never get that chance. You will line yourself up for some very bad promotion via word of mouth.

 

 

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 1): Defining Objectives

Marketing Plan Part 1:
Defining Objectives for Your Novel

Most of you know by now that my educational background is in marketing. Currently, I’ve just completed my marketing class that was specifically garnered to relationship marketing, which is very important in terms of developing a relationship in publishing with your reader. There are other more basic (not to say they aren’t complex, they are just more well known) marketing fundamentals that are also important in the publishing world. These fundamentals are especially crucial if you choose the route of indie or self-publishing. In the world of indie and self-publishing you will run much of your own publishing world–this is to say that you will need to be the one to develop your own marketing plan or strategy. The traditional marketing process of creating a marketing plan can easily be adapted to your novel, and I am going to do a five part series where we talk about the steps in your process. The first step in any solid marketing plan is to define the objectives.

Defining objectives means that you decide what you are going to promote, what your goals are, how profits will be measured, and finally how failures will be measured–yes, I just said failures. We won’t be sugar coating anything here. A good marketing plan is unbiased and truthful. You need these two things to ensure your own integrity and success.

1. What are we going to promote?

This may seem obvious–your book of course, but is it really that obvious? You have two roads to go down–promoting yourself and your book. Your book is a part of you, is it not? So, when you are promoting the book you should also be promoting yourself. You can do this through author interviews that focus on you just as much as they do the book. You can take an even more basic route–make these plans separate, as I do. Promoting myself is done via the same channels, but in slightly different ways. Promoting yourself doesn’t mean spamming (AKA painting yourself across the internet heedlessly, which looks much like bragging. It’s annoying. Don’t. Do. It.). What this means is adding value with your presence–let your readership get to know you on a professional writer level, with some personal stuff put in there. Be real, just not so real that people cock their heads and go, huh, and why are you telling me this? I’ll reference this in a different post where we discuss the difference between professionalism, coldness and sharing too much information at a later date. Keep tuned! For the sake of this post series I am going to use my newest novel, Just One Cup.

I am going to promote Just One Cup.

We need to know the product that we are promoting to do it properly. What is Just One Cup? It’s a New Adult Contemporary Romance Novella. Great, now that we know what we are promoting we can move onto the next step:

2. What are the goals of the promotion and the product?

We’ve talked about goals before in Sales Saturday: Setting Goals. Goals need to be specific, challenging and measurable.

  • What do we mean by specific? The goal needs to be see-through. It can’t be vague. The best goals are set with numbers, this makes them both specific and measurable.
  • What is a challenging goal? It’s one that’s still realistic, but stretches the limits. Goals need to be made to be achieved, if they are unrealistic they end up working adversely; instead of being enthused to continue, you end up burnt out, upset and off track.
  • What do we mean by measurable? Either you get there or you don’t, period. You reach 100 or you don’t. You break Kindle ranking at 50,000 or you don’t. Simple.

Goals for Just One Cup:

  • Release book in Spring 2013.
  • Organize cover reveal for April 30th, 2013.
  • Begin marketing the novel heavily 15 days before release. This will require advertisements to be running on at least 30 blogs.
  • Run a month long blog tour.
  • Reach 75 reviewing readers via sales channels, giveaways and R2R or ARR.
  • Sell 150 copies by the end of the year. To keep on goal we must sell approximately 22 novels per month, unlike before this goal will be separate from giveaways. This means this goal is very high because I don’t usually sell more than 10 novels a month–on a good month.
  • Break the 25,000 rank on Kindle e-book sales for three consecutive days.

3. How will profits be measured?

You will need to reach a number that is based off of your targeted reach, your price point and, for myself, that includes paperback and e-book sales. For me paperback sales that are done directly through myself and my website are the most profitable. You need to know your sales channels to correctly measure profits. You need to know your royalty numbers and what your own mark-ups will be for paperbacks. As an emerging indie or self-published author your goal may just be to break even. You must, though, as some point measure the profitability of your time and efforts that go not only into writing and editing, but also into marketing, promotion and material costs. If you break even forever you will not feel accomplished, you will get burnt out, and you won’t end up feeling successful. Please don’t misunderstand me–making a dollar is better than making nothing. A part of running a business is reaping rewards both material, monetary and emotional. Writing, publishing, marketing and promotion are draining activities. It’s not all fun and games, so if you never see a dime from all that effort you will end up stopping at some point. If you don’t–kudos to you, you’re amazing.

Just One Cup is a novella length book, so the price point must take this into account. Thus, the price point will be $1.99 for the e-book. This will mean that no matter the sales channels I choose, the royalties will be set at 45%. That means I will make $.90 for each e-book sale. I would say 90% of my sales will end up being e-books. Our goal is 150, so if we do the math we stand to make at goal $121.50. The built in failure rate that I have is accomplishing only 75% of my goal. Thus, this puts us at 112 books, profit being $100.80. Unfortunately, at this point the length of Just One Cup is still in progress. This being said I don’t have any hard numbers for paperback sales, but when I go through Amazon I make 45%. If I sell them myself I make much more than that because I price at the same point as Amazon, except I collect all profits and Amazon gets nothing. It’s nice to say that, but then again paperback sales are almost non-existent and are better used as incentives to drive interest in the product during blog tours as giveaways. They do come in handy for book expos, though, and knowing your profit margin will help you greatly. If you will be selling in book stores, you really need to take the time to get your numbers for your paperbacks correctly. I didn’t do this for In Between Seasons, and because of this I lose money when I sell this novel through the bookstore. Bookstores work on consignment, typically 40-60. This means you make 40% of the price point. That doesn’t seem bad because at Amazon it’s 45%, right? NO, you have costs that are associated with selling at the bookstore that you don’t have when selling on Amazon. When Amazon takes their 45% cut it’s after printing costs. When you sell in a bookstore you front the cost of the book. Let’s use In Between Seasons as an example. The book is priced at $9.99, and it costs me about $5.00 to get it printed and at my door. The potential profit is then reduced by approximately 50%. Now figure what you will make from the sale at the bookstore, $3.99. It’s easy to see that I’ve lost money on this one. This is why when you look at the back of Walking in the Shadows the price tag is $14.99. In order to break even at the bookstore this is the price point I must get. If you look on Amazon it’s less on there, because I don’t have over head and consignment to pay, BUT getting it from me is even better because I sign it for you 😉

*Note: If you are going to take on the expenses of marketing materials such as swag, advertising, etc., you will need to reduce your profit by the amount spent. The way I take this into account is by keeping these costs at a minimum. I make all my own swag, so I don’t pay someone else for it, and I buy most materials at wholesaler prices. Being price savvy with marketing materials will help you a lot in the long run. Vistaprint is an amazing site for promotional items because they run a boat load of sales–purchase during sales and you will be golden and always search for a coupon!

3. How are we going to measure failures or losses?

This is were that built in failure rate comes in; most likely, not all goals will be accomplished. These goals are often monetary goals. What are you going to do when you fail? How will you rank failures, and how will you build them into your plan? In book sales, this is really a much easier process than say with loans (with loans this would be a maximum acceptable default rate–you keep money in your reserves to cover this). The reason that this is easier because it’s simple–do you feel your time was well spent for whatever profit you did make? Unless you never sell one book, you don’t lose a ton of money–time yes, but not money. This is the point where you need to step back and reassess what you are doing in the other areas of your marketing plan–specifically PART 3, Implementing the Plan. If you aren’t making your expected profits than you will need to reassess your implementation of your plan, you may also need to take another look at PART 2, Selecting a Target Market.

Failure rate would be on the goals of not reaching enough readers, and only meeting 50% sales target. At this point I need to look at my target market and what is not working in the implementation of the plan.

That’s it, you know your product, your goals for the product, how you will measure profits and failures. Part 1 is complete. Sit back and relax. You’ve done a great job, and you’re that much closer to success!