Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Seekerville Welcomes Guest Blogger Sarah Ladd

Your First Marketing Plan: Why Every New Author Needs One and How to Get Started

You have a website. You post to Facebook. You tweet. You even have a one sheet and a tag line.
But…do you have a plan?

If you answered yes to that question, GREAT!

If you answered no, then pull up a chair and grab a cup of java. I have some information that might help you in your writing career.

So, you may be asking yourself the following question: If I am not published, why do I need to worry about marketing? The answer is very simple: You need to establish your brand.

Now, if you ask ten different marketing professionals what a brand is, you will likely get ten different answers. From my ten-plus years in the marketing field, I define an author’s brand as their “reputation” in the marketplace. Many new authors make the mistake of believing that their brand is their tagline or the way their website looks. But dig deeper. What are other writers saying about your work? What do agents think when they hear your name?

Believe it or not, you can influence the answers to these questions, even before you are published. And how do you do that? You need to execute a well-developed marketing plan!

So, let’s get started.
Think of your marketing plan as your roadmap to establishing your brand. I believe there are eight basic components that must be included in every basic marketing plan. You can add elements as needed, but the points outlined below will get you headed in the right direction.

#1: Current Situation Analysis
In order to decide where you want to go with your marketing, you must first have a clear understanding of where you are now. Write two or three sentences about your current marketing initiatives. Do you have a blog? Do you post to Facebook? Do you tweet? Outlining all of your current marketing and communications initiatives will help you identify what areas are already working and in which areas you need to grow.

#2: Marketing Plan Objectives
Spend a few minutes thinking about what you want your marketing to do for you. Do you want to attract an agent? Do you want to increase your exposure through guest blogging? Do you want to broaden your networking base by increasing the number of Facebook friends you have? Write down at least three.

#3: Measurable Outcomes
How will you know if you are making progress towards your marketing objectives? In order to help define marketing success, you need to assign a numerical measure to each objective … even if you are just getting started. Here’s why: Let’s say one of your marketing objectives is to broaden your networking base by increasing the number of your Facebook followers. That’s great, but in order to gauge success, you need a numerical goal. So a measurable outcome could be “increase my Facebook followers by 50 people in six months.” When you tie a number to an objective, you now have a goal and a timeline. At the end of six months you will know whether or not you have been successful and then, if necessary, you can reevaluate your strategies.

#4: Who’s Your Audience?
Your marketing messaging must be personal and relevant in order to have maximum impact, and having a clearly defined audience is the first step. Jot down your primary and secondary audiences. Your audiences can be broad or narrow: other Christian writers, potential readers, agents, etc. This may seem like a trivial step, but it will help you as you define marketing strategies and tactics in #8.

#5: Find Your Focus
What are three things you want the audiences you identified in #4 to know about you? Write those down. They can be as simple as adjectives that describe your writing or as complex as mission statements. This is also the appropriate time to think about your tagline. The key messages/concepts you identify in this step will lay the framework for the messaging you use in your marketing initiatives.

#6: Budget
Ah, money. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your marketing plan up and running, but you will probably need to spend a little. At minimum, you will probably need to pay a website hosting fee and have business cards printed to distribute at writing events. Keep track of these expenditures. Doing so will help you evaluate what you have done in the past and decide which expenditures have been effective.

#7: Timeline & Marketing Editorial Calendar
Dedicate a calendar specifically to your professional marketing. When and how often are you going to post to Facebook? When are you guest blogging? When are you going to update your website? Not only will a marketing calendar keep your communication initiatives from falling through the cracks, but it will also help you establish your marketing editorial calendar.

#8: Overarching Strategies and Marketing Tactics
This is the fun part, folks. This is where the rubber meets the marketing road. Think of “overarching strategies” as marketing buckets or channels. These strategies should be broad. Examples of overarching strategies could be “utilize social media to increase author awareness” or “use writing organization memberships to strengthen writing network” or “develop print collateral to reinforce author brand”.

A marketing tactic is the specific action you take to support each strategy. For example, if your strategy is to “utilize social media to increase your author awareness,” then the tactics could be (1) post to Facebook at least three times a week, (2) comment on at least five other author’s posts, and (3) friend at least two new people a week, (4) tweet twice a week, etc. Try to have at least three tactics to support each strategy. (BONUS TIP: Now that you know how often you will need to perform a tactic to support your overarching strategy, you can plan ahead and mark those dates in your editorial calendar. See how they are all related?)

This all may sound like a lot, but don’t worry. You may need to think about these concepts/questions for a few days or weeks, and that is okay. Keep in mind that your marketing plan will change and grow as you move through the different stages of your writing career. I have a download that may help you on your marketing journey. Visit my website at and go to the resources page to help you get your marketing plan started on the right foot.

In parting, I have a few “rules” I want to leave you with:

Keep it consistent.
One of the worst things you can do to your marketing reputation is to be inconsistent. Don’t tweet five times in one week and then not tweet for three weeks. This is when your editorial marketing calendar/timeline will help you.

Keep it current.
Your marketing plan is not a “one and done” document. Visit your marketing plan every few months. What is working? What isn’t? What needs to be tweaked? It’s okay to change your goals. Remember – your marketing plan is a working document and will continue to develop as your writing career grows.

Keep it separate.
This rule applies mostly to social media, especially Facebook. Consider having an author page instead of using your personal page for both personal and professional updates. Remember … if social media is one of your overarching marketing strategies, then you are using it to help establish your brand, your “reputation” in the professional marketplace. Be intentional with your posts.

Thanks for letting me visit with you all today. Best of luck in your writing … and in your marketing endeavors!

Sarah Ladd lives in Indiana and shares her life with her amazing husband and sweet daughter. She had more than ten years of strategic marketing and brand management experience, including five years of marketing non-fiction books and three years of marketing the musical arts. Sarah writes historical romance. Recently, her book Heiress of Winterwood won the Historical Romance category of the 2011 Genesis Contest and was the overall winner for the 2011 Touched by Love contest.

In honor of Sarah's visit with us, Seekerville is giving away a Seekerville surprise book package to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Donna said...

Thank you Sarah. When you break it down to doing these things a certain amount times a week, it doesn't seem so hard. Great advice.

Tina Radcliffe said...

W-E-L-C-O-M-E To Seekerville, Sarah.

I am delighted to be hosting this talented writer who I have yet to meet in the REAL world.

I cringed as I formatted this post and got it ready, because I read some of the boo-boo's I made in your post.

But live and learn and I have learned a ton today. Thank you.

Carol Moncado said...

/waves to Sarah/

I will need to read through this again when I'm coherent. ;)

I'm already doing some of this but consistency is my biggest problem. Today, I updated my Facebook page 3xs. But other than my blog autoposting, I hadn't posted in a couple weeks. Overall, it's not that bad, but every once in a while...

Right now, though, I think it's time for bed ;).

I'd love a prize pack though!

Ausjenny said...

welcome Sarah, this makes alot of sense not just for an author, alot of the tips can be applied to other areas also. (like looking for work).
I think working in marketing would be alot of fun but also challenging (First big achievement of 2012 learnt how to spell challenge! (its an e not an a!)

Sarah said...

Thanks for the welcome, Tina! I am very excited to be here!

Melanie N. Brasher said...

Sarah, this is a fabulous post! I've copied down your tips, my talented friend.

Sarah Ladd said...

Donna, you can do it! Just break it down into tiny chunks. Before you know it, all the pieces will fall into place!

Sarah Ladd said...

Ausjenny - You are right! Marketing, as a profession, can be challenging, but it is also fascinating. I think one of the most challenging aspects of marketing is that the communication mediums are always changing. For example, just a few short years ago, nobody had heard of Facebook, and now everyone is using it. Marketers scramble to stay ahead of communication trends. Hmmm....wonder what will come next?

Melissa Jagears said...

Hey Sarah! Popped over to visit you. Had a feeling you'd be all so smart on this marketing thing. :) Thanks for the worksheet!

Janet Kerr said...

Thankyou for all the great information Sarah. Writing is one area and the of course there IS Marketing...
This is a keeper!

Jan K.

Virginia said...

I would like to say I can just hover above the marketing fray... but I don't think it's possible anymore. Proposal packages often have amrketing questions and IF/WHEN I get published, marketing comes into play.

So, this was a really excellent post for beginners like me.

Also, not to be all shallow and everything... but you have gorgeous HAIR! I want! Just had to put that in there...

Mary Cline said...

Thanks for your help Sarah!
Except for some inane comments on Facebook most of my other comments and my blog are depressing and negative but that is not really me and I don't quite know how to fix it. I don't want that to be my brand. It's not the real me just a temporary me, but blogging can be cathartic. Hmmm, I will read this advice again, some stuff I needed as usual. Hurray for Seekerville.

Abbi Hart (gatorade635) said...

Great post! And a Seekerville prize package! No one can resist that!

LyndeeH said...

Thanks for the reminder to write marketing time into the calendar. Everything you say is golden.

I dread the idea of unraveling my FB family/friends from others to create a professional FB presence. That's why I haven't done it, lol. Guess I will make the effort sometime this year. Guess I will write the date when it will happen in my calendar. Baby steps... :)

Helen W said...

Thanks Sarah for this great outline :) I'm wondering, is it ever too early to setup things like a facebook page? I am only just starting to write my first book, and I'm still learning the basics of writing. I kind of feel like I need to have at least completed a draft of my first novel before doing that sort of thing. What do you think?

Debra E. Marvin said...

This is incredible! Thank you Sarah. Ill be printing this off.

Oh. Cute hair too ;)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sarah, welcome to Seekerville!

Ummm.... Great hair. Brat.

I love this breakdown. I had a couple of "oops" moments reading it. Perhaps a cringe or two.

But I like seeing where I can do better and this outlines it wonderfully!



Special K... Oatmeal... Toppings: brown sugar, honey, banana, apple, raisins, chopped walnuts and pecans....

Freshly chopped broccoli slaw salad. Oh, yum! ;)

Scrambled eggs.

Flavored vitamin water, no wasting calories on juice.

And stop making those faces, for heaven's sake. Think: spring.


Uh, huh.

Told ya so.

Annie Rains said...

Thank you so much for your post, Sarah. I've been considering starting a website. Maybe I should add this and the other marketing suggestions you mentioned to my 2012 goals.

Kav said...

Love the way you presented this. I am sooooo not business oriented, but I could easily follow and retain. :-) I'm one of the few left in the world not on facebook. It seems like a potential time-waster to me. And tweeting? Only if I'm a bird! LOL. Seriously, leaping into blogging was a huge thing for me. I still wonder how authors can balance it all AND write the next book!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Sarah, What a great post and definitely a keeper for me. I so need this outline.

Like Carol, consistency is a big one for me. I'd soooo rather be playing pickleball or hiking or even doing housework than market.

But it is necessary and if you break it down to a plan, I can see where that would that help. Thanks for sharing with us in Seekerville.

And Ruthy, you can keep your Special K arrggh

I have some yummy cinnamon rolls that smell divine if anyone wants to sweeten up with their coffee. Chocolate Velvet of course. Ill share.

Mia Ross said...

Sarah, thanks so much for all this great info! This is going to be a big year for me, and it's nice to have a roadmap to help me pull it all together.

sherrindaketch said...

This is excellent information, and I am definitely bookmarking this post!

I tend to shy away from all the marketing information, as I still feel like a newbie writer who is nowhere near the publication phase. I hear that now is the time to start building a platform, but it seems so strange to intentionally try to get "friends". I'm sure it is something I need to get past!

Sarah Ladd said...

Good morning Seekerville! Virginia, you are absolutely right. A proposal is an excellent place to incorporate your marketing plan and show editors and agents that you have started thinking BEYOND when your book sells! Thanks for visiting! And thanks for the compliment. :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Mary Cline and Lyndee H: It is very hard to start separating your professional posts from your personal posts. Confession: I do not have an author page either, but I hope to soon!

My advice is to really pay attention to what other writers are doing. Learn by following their example. How often are they posting? What type of things are they posting? This will help you when you start your own editorial calendar and might give you more confidence to step out. Also, before you make a shift to an author page, give your friends plenty of notice of your switch. You can do it!

Sarah Ladd said...

Helen W: Definitely NOT to early! As you move through your career, your marketing needs and goals will change, and that is completely normal. Right now, I think that an example of an objective for you could be to "establish a strong writing network." Some of the tactics could be (1) find at least 3 blog to follow and comment on (and you are doing that now!), (2) Connect with other authors by becoming friends with at least 15 authors on Facebook and commenting on their status, and (3) attending a local ACFW meeting. You could set a goal to have these done by the time your book is ready to send out. These do not have to be overly technical! Start early ... it will make this process easier in the long run and it will help you track the progress you have made. :) Good luck!

Sarah Ladd said...

Kav - you hit a great point. Balance is key. If you spend all of your time working on a stellar marketing plan but don't finish your book, you've got quite a problem! That is one thing to definitely keep in mind ... make a marketing plan that works for you and your schedule, but don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Remember...this is YOUR plan. What works for you may not work for others, and vice versa.

Audra Harders said...

Sarah, thanks for joining us in Seekerville today.

What a timely post. There's no better time to re-evaluate your direction and marketability than the beginning of a new year.

I'm printing your words of wisdom and plan to apply pronto.

pol said...

Hello Sarah, I bet you are one organized type person, I could use some of this in my life-as I am into my senior years now seems like I am scattered more then I want to be.
I love to read and your giveaway pkg sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing.
Love to see so many of the authors I read here and listen to them banter back and forth.
Paula O(

kimdtaylor said...

I printed the worksheet out and will begin working on this right away. This is by far the most useful tool I've seen as far as marketing. I agree with Carol, consistency is key. I am finding what works for me and trying to stick with it.

Jeanne T said...

Sarah, I learned so much from this practical post! I am not doing much of what you've suggested. I've got some big changes to make! :) I so appreciated your practical steps to market myself, if you will.

My biggest question is when you only have 1-2 hours a day to devote to writing, how do you manage/balance writing with marketing?

Thanks again, Sarah. I'm hoping to stop by later and read other comments. With kids back to school today, I'm rushing right now. :)

Cheryl St.John said...

Pretty, pretty, Sarah - great advice for all writers!

Pass the oatmeal?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yes, Cheryl, we were discussing Sarah on New Year's Eve. She has great hair..if she wasn't so nice we'd be very afraid.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Thanks to Sarah's post I can see I have some work to do.


Jennifer said...

This stuff is gold! I'm preparing for my debut book launch (do you remember celebrating its 2010 Genesis win with me?) and this plan is exactly what I need! Many thanks!

Bridgett Henson said...

Consistent blog posts? I Definitely need to work on those. Thanks for the reminder, Sarah.

Beyond facebook, I haven't given marketing much thought.

I have to admit, I'm a slacker in this department. Thanks again for the great advice.

Sarah Ladd said...

Jennifer - congrats on your book launch! How very exciting!

Sarah Ladd said...

Jean T asked: When you only have 1-2 hours a day to devote to writing, how do you manage/balance writing with marketing?

This is an excellent question, and here is my answer: You need a plan.

If you spend the time to develop your key messages, you will know exactly what messages you want to convey through your marketing. And if you develop an editorial calendar, then you will know when and how those messages will be disseminated to your public. This takes the burden off of you. No longer will you need to come up with something clever to post every week, because you already have messaging and a timeline laid out. In this scenario, you already know what is coming down the pike, so you don't need to spend a lot of time on it...the work is already done, thus giving you more time to write.

So start small. Develop key messages and an editorial calendar for your Facebook posts. Try it and see what works. When you feel like you have it under control, develop messaging and an editorial calendar for a blog. Remember...a marketing plan is not static, and it works for you. Your marketing plan should ebb and flow with your career. Don't be afraid to try new things or discontinue initiatives that are no longer working.

Great question!!!

Sarah Ladd said... make me blush. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Will you be at ACFW this year? In fact we should do a hand raise. Who is going to ACFW this year and of those who will have their marketing plan in place by then?

Tina Radcliffe said...

OM GOSH I just realized the caterers are still in the kitchen.

Let me go find them. I am so embarrassed-- we have chocolate and almond croissants and pots of chocolate for our guests.

Be right back with the food.

kristen said...

This is fantastic! I needed to be asked these questions. Ah, so much to do.
Have a great day!

Mary Connealy said...

Twice I've tried to leave a comment and twice I've failed.
This is just a test.

Mary Connealy said...

YAY! Success!
Sarah, sweetheart, you can't have ten years experience in marketing. You look about twenty years old.

Unless you count selling Girl Scout Cookies.

Jessica Nelson said...

This post is really helpful for me right now, although I get the feeling I'm posting of Facebook way too much. *grin*
Thank you for the tips Sarah and congrats on your Genesis win!

Mary Connealy said...

So, Facebook question.
I have 3000 Facebook friends. Is that just wrong?
I rarely post myself except autoloading stuff from my blog and Seekerville, which is constant of course, but still, I rarely use Facebook correctly.
And my page is filled constantly with comments from my friends. I sometimes respond to whoever's at the top fo the page when I stop in there but I don't really look around.
So is that just dumb? is that a waste of Facebook?
I have a fan page but nothing auto-loads to there, thus I rarely update the page. And I can't figure out how to make anything auto-load. I forget that fan page is there and (I suspect) so do any fans.
scratching head.

Mary Connealy said...

No pastries today, Ruthy? Now we're on a fake food diet? That's harsh.

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL, Mary. Just because WE have ten years worth of wrinkles is no reason to disparage the youthful. We were youthful once.

I think.

I sorta remember.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Sarah, this post is just perfect for where I am at in my writing right now. I am working through my second draft, and I have been puzzling over what I should do to start marketing myself. This guide is excellent!

I'm curious, though: how do you get new followers/fans when you're not published yet? I have lots of friends who would help support my publishing dreams by becoming Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but how do you reach out to people who have never heard of you if you don't have a product yet?

Thanks! And I agree with everyone else, your hair is fantastic. :)

Cathy Shouse said...


I am simply thrilled to see you at Seekerville! I remember you when... you were in jammies at the Indiana RWA retreat. And yes, ladies, I had to forgive her for looking stunning in P.J's. :)

Let's see, was that in 2008? I am so proud of you! :) Not that I had anything to do with your accomplishments, other than recognizing that you are special. Beautiful inside and out!

I absolutely love this marketing post and need to come back to really go through and absorb it.

In the meantime, is it too far Off Topic to ask for your top three tips on how to final in contests? Have you had any failures in contests?

Like the old real estate line, I suppose the tips are:
Write a good book, write a good book, write a good book LOL!

Your biggest fan.

And I'd love to win today's prize.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jessica, good morning. When does your book come out from Love Inspired. These tips from Sarah and perfect timing!!!

karenk said...

i always learn so much...

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks for the great advice, Sarah.

And congratulations on all your contest wins this year! Whew!

Tell us a little about your book "Heiress of Winterwood". The title alone would probably make me buy it!!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Mary Connealy said...

So, keep it separate........I need to start updating my author page on Facebook consistantly right?


Sarah! I feel like you're just YELLING at me!

Jan Drexler said...

Wow! There's a lot to this marketing stuff!

Thanks so much for your insights, Sarah! I can tell my marketing time over the next couple weeks will be spent developing my plan. I can check a few things off the list already - except consistency. I need to work on that.

What really sticks out is that we need to budget time for marketing - not a lot of time, but it needs to be there.

A well aimed bullet is more effective than a shot-gun, right?

Tina, I'm planning on Dallas in September - but it's in God's hands (as always). Even so, I'm sticking my hand up! And I should have a marketing plan in place long before then :)

Ruthy, my real self is eating oatmeal and fruit, but my virtual self can eat all the stinkin' sweets she wants and never gain a pound. I'm going for the cinnamon rolls.

The Joy of Grace said...

Great post Sarah. :-) what else can I say? You've got what this biz takes. Thanks for the tips. TG4 hugs.

Mary Connealy said...

I was very busy when I was youthful. Who had time to look in a mirror!!???

and when I did? I didn't want to see.

Jan Drexler said...

Mary, you just need to do what all the other rich and famous authors do - hire someone to update your facebook for you!

Of course, it would have to be someone you trust. No telling what some of us would post in your name...

Not me, though, of course!

Tanya said...

Sarah, I just left your website where I grabbed your Author Marketing Plan Worksheet, Awesome! Thanks so much!

Tricia Goyer said...

Great advice, Sarah! I have people approach me all the time with "one book" they want to write and I encourage them to start building their audience. It's hard to explain...but now you've done the work for me!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Sarah! Nice to see a fellow Hoosier here. Thanks for your helpful post. Definitely print worthy. Marketing is not my forte, but increasing my efforts is a goal for 2012. I'm easily overwhelmed with social media. You've pointed out one of my worst failings--inconsistency. When I'm in a time crunch, marketing gets short shrift. Not good.

Tina, thanks for bringing Sarah and for the chocolate!


Mary L. Hamilton said...

Love the plan, Sarah. I expect to refer to it often!

Valri said...

Sarah, lots of good info! I'm not a writer - just a reader! - but you can apply your post to other aspects of life or to other occupations. Thanks! That's what I love about Seekerville, you can apply so many topics and thoughts to other aspects of your life :)

Hello Ausjenny! Haven't talked to you in ages!!!! How's the job hunt coming along???

Heather said...

I like how you break down the tasks. Thank you for this very practical advice!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Thanks for the reminder, Tanya. I need to head over to Sarah's web page and print off that information as well.

Sarah Ladd said...

Stephanie Queen Ludwig asked: how do you get new followers/fans when you're not published yet? I have lots of friends who would help support my publishing dreams by becoming Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but how do you reach out to people who have never heard of you if you don't have a product yet?

Good question Stephanie! The first step is to have a clear understanding of WHO your audience is. If you can narrow down exactly who it is you are trying to reach with your messaging, that is half the battle. Is your objective to network with other authors? Is it to attract an agent?

The next step is to focus on establishing and nourishing relationships. You are is hard to reach out to people who haven't heard of you. But start with a few people...the like 2 or 3 of the folks on Seekerville, for example. Put yourself out there and friend some of them on Facebook (friend me!! I am Sarah Wall Ladd). Then, don't just watch their post. Interact with them. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. Then, when you are ready...add a few more writer friends. And by the time your book is published, you will have an entire social media team to help you spread the word! But remember...if you want people to help and support you, you must support others!!! :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Janet Dean said: "I'm easily overwhelmed with social media. You've pointed out one of my worst failings--inconsistency."

I have seen a lot of comments where people are saying that one of their biggest marketing hurdles in inconsistency.

It is easy to get overwhelmed with marketing and social media. My advice is to make sure that you don't bite off more than you can chew. It is okay to start small. It is okay to start with one or two initiatives. You can always add more. With every new endeavor there is a learning curve, and allow yourself time to figure out what works into your schedule.

And if inconsistency is your hurdle, then I PROMISE you, your editorial calendar will be your best friend. :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Mary Connealy....oh no!!! I am not yelling at you!! Let's take a closer look. You can do this!!!! we go.
First of all, congrats on 3000 followers. That is awesome.

Situation Analysis: You have a personal FB page and a fan page. You don't do a lot of personal posts, mostly autoposts. People leave comments on your personal page, and you try to answer. You rarely leave personal posts.

Question: How many people are on your fan page?

We can talk in more detail offline, if you would like, but here are the questions I think you should consider:

1. What is it that you want your FB personal page to do for you? Do you want it to serve as a place for you to promote blogs? Then it sounds like you are succeeding. Do you want it to be a place where you can interact with your fans? Then you are succeeding. Think of it this way ... if you don't INTEND to post a ton of personal posts, then there is no reason why you should have to. Just because other authors do it doesn't mean it is right for every author.

They key here is managing audience expectations. If your audience has probably come to expect that you post autoposts and will respond to messages, but you don't post a lot of personal posts. This relationship works. Think how surprised they would be if you suddenly posted a ton about your pets or vacation or whatever! It sounds like you are keeping it consistent, but be sure to think about HOW you want Facebook to work for you and then develop strategies to make that happen.

Jan Drexler said...

I'm writing Amish fiction, a genre that has a huge and very loyal fan base. Part of my marketing strategy is to connect with those fans on blogs and other places where they (we) gather.

By connecting there, I can interact with my potential readers as another fan - not just an author trying to sell a book. And another perk? I get to justify spending time on some of my favorite sites :)

EC Spurlock said...

Thank you for this, Sarah! For introverts like me who cringe at the very idea of marketing, your worksheet helps a lot! If I can break it down like this into a to-do list of measurable goals, it makes it a lot less overwhelming. Thanks for being with us today and sharing your expertise!

Connie Queen said...

Ditto on the hair thing Sarah.

And Mary Cline, you bring up such a good question. I noticed right away people did use Seekerville to gripe about everything and everyone.
I've read a few blogs that were seemed to be nothing but complaining and I quit following them.

Let the sunshine in.

Mary Connealy said...

My fan page has 208 members. And why would anyone go there? I don't!

I should work on that and try to flip those two numbers. Get 3000 people on my fan page and 208 on my personal page

this sounds hard

Mary Connealy said...

I almost never invite anyone to be my friend on Facebook. Becuase I think I'm an annoying facebook-er and I hate to inflict that on anyone else. If they choose me, then okay.

Christy said...

Thank you so much for this free advice! I'm just getting started writing, and I know NOTHING. I can hardly wait for the weekend when I'll have time to give your list some intense thought.

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Great ideas in here Sarah. Thanks so much to you (and Tina too) for sharing!

There's lots of room for improvement in MY life, best get on with it huh?!

While a gift pack would be wonderful, the fellowship and information found here in Seekerville is PRICELESS! Thank you all.

May sends her best Wednesday greetings everypawdy!!!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Thanks for answering my question, Sarah! It sounds very doable!

I'd like to point out that Liz Curtis Higgs does an excellent job of marketing herself on Facebook (not that she needs to, since she's already pretty established!). She always answers posts personally (at least I think it's her!), and she's run several contests through it, too. To promote "Here Burns my Candle," she ran a contest asking readers to guess the last word in the book prior to its release. She's also given away items she's picked up in Scotland and her recent Holy Land trip to readers who comment on her posts. I think they've been great ways to connect with her readers and keep them visiting her pages for what's new.

On a more personal side, she sent out signed bookplates to her readers who commented on her page that they'd purchased her latest release, along with a second one for the sequel that wasn't yet out. Great way to encourage readers to get the next one!

And no, I'm not associated with LCH in any way, shape or form, although I did get her autograph and my picture taken with her several years ago. I just wanted to point out an author who used social media well!

Sarah Ladd said...

Stephanie Queen are right...Liz Curti Higgs is an excellent example!

Sarah Ladd said...

Mary Conneally....your situation is very unique! Have you ever considered moving your friends on your personal page to your fan page?

Here is what I would suggest:
Write a plan for what you would like for your fan page to be. What do the posts look like? How much interation will there be? etc. Then, come up with a strategy to move your personal Facebook friends over to your fan page. I have seen several authors do this successfully...and I think you can do it to! I am happy to help you with this if you would like. :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Christy- you can do it! :)

Sarah Ladd said...

EC Spurlock said: For introverts like me who cringe at the very idea of marketing.......

The great thing about marketing is that you can make it as personal as you want. If you are introvert and have trouble sharing your personal life, then stick to business. Post writing tips. Link to helpful blogs and resources. If you are more extroverted and like to share your life through social media, then you can -- BUT keep in mind that your posts are representing you PROFESSIONALLY. Don't post anything that you wouldn't want an editor or agent to read!

Sarah Ladd said...

Great plan, Jan Drexler! You have clearly identified your audience segment and are planning to meet them where they are. Excellent.

Sarah Ladd said...

Connie Queen and others both mentioned how they were turned off by negative messaging in blogs, facebook, etc. Keep this in mind when you create your own messaging!

Jamie Adams said...

This is great advice Sarah! Thanks for sharing. I know I need to be more consistent on FB, Twitter and my blog. I never know what to say especially on twitter. Concentrating on my potential audience will help me have a better idea of what to put out there.

Tina Radcliffe said...

So true, Sarah. We have a lot of lurking editors and agents in Seekerville alone.

The Joy of Grace said...

I've got a question: What kinds of things would a relatively new writer post on their facebook and/or blog? Especially one who hasn't an agent or publisher?

What does a writer without a book being published tweet? Is it damaging to tweet or facebook about things like rejections? or Contest losses?

Kelli C. Hughett said...

A good post that really got me thinking about my online image. I especially liked the idea of commenting and participating on Facebook posts of other authors and agents. I'm still wondering what I should be posting and/or tweeting when I'm just launching my career. What kinds of things, specifically, would a new author post or tweet?

TG4 Hugs!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, Sandra...


Ay. Ay. Ay!!!

Mmm... broccoli slaw GOOOOOD! ;)

Okay, what a great crowd today, I'm dropping off healthy lunch (just to tweak Sandra some more...) Chicken noodle soup (to help my cold) with Barilla pasta... If you're low-carb, just avoid the pasta.

And sliced Yancey's Fancy cheeses, an assortment!

Love these cheeses!

Laura Frantz said...

Sarah! SO thrilled to see you here - and what a stellar post:) You covered everything and I learned and brushed up on some things!! Praying your writing is going well. I look forward to holding your beautiful book in hand:) God bless you.

Naomi Rawlings said...

Sarah!!!! How fun to see you here. It's been forever since we've touched base.

You have quite the advice on marketing. Sigh. . . I should implement some of it. Maybe one day I'll have the time to write AND market. I'm pretty sure that day won't come until after my kids are out of the house. :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Cathy Shouse -- so great to see you here! Always great to see another Hoosier. :)

Hmmmm.....contest tips. That's a little tricky.. Let me think on it and I will get back with you. :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Naomi Rawlings! Soooo good to see you here. Time is an issue when it comes to balancing marketing and writing. But if you start small, with one or two initiatives, you will be moving in the right direction! Can't wait for your book to release! Congrats again!

Sarah Ladd said...

Laura, great to see you here as well! Hugs!!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Oh goodness! Mary Connealy, you make me laugh. If it's any consolation, I set up an facebook author page last week. Then I was going to go visit your fb author page, and maybe a few other author pages and figure out what I was supposed to do for that bio stuff.

Am I the only person out there who has trouble with the bio stuff? You know how blogger and fb and twitter have all these profiles, and if you say something cool in your profile, then people decide to like you and be your friend. But can I think of anything cool to say about me. Nope. Nada. Not for my life. Sigh . . .

Kara said...

Thanks for all the great tips, Sarah! I know nothing about marketing, but you gave a lot to think about and consider. I definitely want to get my own business cards :) That prize package also sounds great, thanks Tina and Seekerville for this great post!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Yeah, so I just looked at my blogger profile. Doesn't even have that I'm an author or the title of my book coming out in April. Sigh. Maybe I should fix that one day. Have to run. Laundry to put away before I leave for the gym.

Sarah Ladd said...

The Joy of Grace asked: What kinds of things would a relatively new writer post on their facebook and/or blog? Especially one who hasn't an agent or publisher?

One question marketers always ask is "what's in this for the consumer?" So whenever you sit down to write a blog or post something to Facebook, ask yourself what you want the reader to take away from your message. Your audience needs to find a benefit in one form or another to keep them coming back for more. So offer them something that they perceive as valuable. Some ideas:
1. Do book reviews (of both fiction and craft books)
2. Interview a published author or contest winner.
3. Link to helpful resources.
4. Include motivating snippets.
5. Include links that help promote other authors (this will also help strengthen your networking relationships.)
Hope that helps!

Sarah Ladd said...

Kara, thanks for stopping by! :)

Sarah Ladd said...

The Joy of Grace also asked: What does a writer without a book being published tweet? Is it damaging to tweet or facebook about things like rejections? or Contest losses?

This is I go back to your brand. Your brand is your "reputation" in the marketplace. Your marketing tactics (facebook, twitter, blogging,etc.) should all help you establish and support your brand.

So if you are tweeting about rejections, for example, you need to ask yourself the following question: How is this blog/tweet/post supporting my brand/reputation? Is it meeting one of my marketing objectives? If the answer is no, you might want to consider not posting it. BUT, if your intent is to encourage other struggling authors by posting about how you overcame the disappointment of rejection, then that is another matter entirely. Post away!

Everything you do to support you marketing should be intentional and with purpose.

Sarah Ladd said...

Kelli C. Hughett asked: what I should be posting and/or tweeting when I'm just launching my career. What kinds of things, specifically, would a new author post or tweet?

Joy of Grace asked a similar question, but the answer bears repeating!

Put yourself in your audience shoes. What would make YOU follow a particular author that is not published yet? Your audience needs to find a benefit in one form or another to keep them coming back for more. Some ideas:
1. Do book reviews (of both fiction and craft books)
2. Interview a published author or contest winner.
3. Link to helpful resources.
4. Include motivating snippets.
5. Include links that help promote other authors (this will also help strengthen your networking relationships.)

What other ideas do you guys have?

Sarah Ladd said...

Susan Anne Mason: thanks for the congrats! My book, Heiress of Winterwood, is a historical romance set in regency England. :)

Janet Dean said...

Sarah, I will start an editorial calendar. Probably a real calendar with those little squares. I'm not a techy. Another issue. LOL

Cathy, I'm wondering how I missed an Indiana RWA retreat. Sounds like great fun!


Jeanne T said...

Ruthy, I'll take some of your chicken soup to help fight my own cold (How EVER did you pass it to me via Seekerville? :)).

So many great ideas and questions here today. I'm learning tons!

Jeanne T said...

Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my question. And everyone's questions here! I'm pondering it, and may be back with more. :) I can't tell you how much I appreciate you sharing your wisdom so willingly!

Jeanne T said...

P.S. I'm plannin to go to ACFW. It'll be my first one. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

We're going to have to rethink the food issue for the New Year. You all are very hearty diners.

I bet we can contract the Yankee-Belle Cafe for treats.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I have to admit, nothing more irritating than going to an author's blog and not finding a way to contact them.

jude said...

Sarah, go Indiana! I really liked this blog, as did lots of us. I'm off to do an author page on FB. Thanks to you.
Jude Urbanski

jubileewriter said...

I have seen this marketing strategy before. I never thought of applying it to writing. Makes sense. This a a blog i will reread a few more times.
Cindy Huff

Bridgett Henson said...

Tina, Oh my!You said: "I have to admit, nothing more irritating than going to an author's blog and not finding a way to contact them."

I just checked my blog and I don't have a way people can contact me. Except my facebook link. Does that count?

Bridgett Henson said...

Oh wait! My facebook link is gone. How did that happen?

(Sigh!) Guess I need to fix that ASAP.

Jeanne T said...

Hello again, Sarah,

I may sound obtuse, so I apologize now. When you commented to me earlier, you encouraged me to develop key messages so that I would know what messages to convey through marketing. Do you have any hints on how to do this? I love your ideas, but I feel like such a newbie that I'm not sure where to begin in figuring out key messages.

Thank you!

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, SARAH, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, and what a great blog to help kick off the new year!!

I agree with Deb Marvin that this is a keeper that needs to be printed off.

And I also agree with Tina, Virginia, Deb, Ruth and Steph -- GREAT HAIR!! Of course, it helps to have a GREAT FACE, too, so it's a wonder I like you at all ... :)


Sandra Ardoin said...

This is awesome marketing information, Sarah. Thanks so much for sharing!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Most of us feel weird slathering ourselves and our contact info all over the internet, and our books, and our bookmarks/cards, whatever.

But it's necessary.

And links from your books directly to a point of sale like Harlequin or Amazon or Christian Book Distributors???


Make it easy for people to love you and buy your work. It's not arm-twisting, it's just common sense. Don't make them search you out.

(Now I must go and make sure all of my live links work. It's a pain when they disappear or just stop working... And some Google and Yahoo upgrades don't mesh with every browser. So stuff just... vanishes.

Poof! It's gone.)

Renee said...

Hi, Sarah! I don't know if you remember me or if you're still monitoring comments, but we met at ACFW. I enjoyed our chats. Congrats on all your success! Thanks for the great advice here on the marketing aspect of writing. I hope all of us unpublished folks get the chance to put them in practice! Blessings!

Dianna Shuford said...

Great information, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.

Tracy Krauss said...

From the sheer number of comments, I wasn't the only one who found this post helpful! I even made notes! thanks Sarah

Sherri Shackelford said...

Wonderful advice and direction, thank you, Sarah!

Sherri Shackelford

Sarah Ladd said...

Sherri, Tracy and Dianna...thanks SO MUCH for stopping by!

Preslaysa said...

Great post, Sarah. I downloaded your Martkeing Worksheet to my flash drive. This will definitely come in handy!

Sarah Ladd said...

Renee....of course I remember! I enjoyed our conversations as well! Hope you are doing great!

Sarah Ladd said...

Ruth Logan Herne ... you are so right! Social Media has completely changed the face of marketing, and has given much more responsibility to the individual. BUT... with practice, it gets easier. And not so scary. :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Hi Preslaysa! I hope you find the worksheet useful. Hope you are doing well!

Sarah Ladd said...

Hi Julie ... thanks for stopping by! And.... you guys are making me blush. Seriously. :) But thanks. :)

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Great information, and beautifully broken down! Thanks, Sarah!

Sarah Ladd said...

Jeanne T said: When you commented to me earlier, you encouraged me to develop key messages so that I would know what messages to convey through marketing. Do you have any hints on how to do this?

OK....Key Messaging. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. So let me give you a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Think of your "key messaging" as the thread that connects all of your writing (blogs, books, Facebook posts, etc) together. It might help if you remember that these are not necessarily things you share with others; these are things that you use to help you create consistency in your messages. It may sound a little cliche, but if you understand what you stand for, it will shine through in your writing.

So a couple of ideas:

1. If you have a tagline, the message of your tagline is one of your key messages. In a nutshell, that message helps strangers understand what you are all about. For example, my tagline is "FInding inspiration for today in voices from the past." What does that tell you about me?

2. Fill in this blank: My book is __________. (Answers can be "fun", "suspenseful", "romantic", "inspirational", etc.) Again, you will never come out and say this sentence in your marketing, but you will always have this phrase in the back of your mind when you write something for public consumption.

3. As inspirational authors, we will, of course, have a spiritual message that we want our writing to convey. For example, say that one of the themes in your book is "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." So basically, if this is one of your key messages, your facebook posts, tweets, and blogs should support this particular message.

This can seem a little intimidating at first, and sometimes it is hard to come up with these in one sitting. Give it some time. Mull it over. The more you write, and the more you work on how you want your marketing plan to work for you, the more clear your messaging will become. And remember...your messaging may change as your career takes off, and that is okay too. Remember ... your marketing plan is your roadmap ... NOTHING is set in stone.

Rebecca said...

This was just an amazing post. Thank you so much for all of the information/advice.


Jackie S. said...

Very interesting....thanks! I don't do FB ..yet. Seekerville package would be nice (and a pink pen?!).

Carrie Pagels said...

Well my dear CPer, I DK what happened to my earlier post but I do not see it up here! Wish you could come out for my birthday tomorrow and wish I could be there for yours on Saturday! And I look forward to getting feedback from you on my marketing plan.

For those who comment upon your beauty, which is quite true, you are even more lovely on the inside - God's holiness shines through you and your obedience to Him, Sarah. May He richly bless you in the year ahead!

Jeanne T said...

Sarah, once again, thank you. Maybe my brain is foggy with the cold I'm fighting, but I appreciate your patience and explanations. They've been hugely helpful.

Sarah Ladd said...

Carrie Pagels ... thank you so much for the sweet post and encouragement! Hugs to you, dear friend!

Sarah Ladd said...

Jeanne T ... no problem! I am happy to help. Best of luck with your marketing projects! :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Gwendolyn Gage, Jackie S., and Rebecca ... thanks so much for stopping by!

Sarah Ladd said...

THANK YOU SEEKERVILLE! Everyone here has been so warm and welcoming. Thanks for letting me visit with you today. :)

Sarah Ladd said... of luck with your author facebook page! Be sure to keep us posted on the progress! GO HOOSIERS! :)

MaryC said...

Sarah, thanks so much for this post. It's been a crazy day so I haven't had a chance to read through all the comments for your extra advice. I'm planning to come back and catch up.

Congrats on the Genesis win!

Jean E. Jones said...

Thank you! I put this article into my to do list for the week. It answered so many questions I've had.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Sarah, thanks for spending the day with us, you've been so generous with your time and expertise!!

We'll expect you back now that you've spoiled us!!

Walt Mussell said...

It was a wonderful post. Unfortunately, it shows me how much I need to be doing. At least I have quatifiable measures to begin.

Walt Mussell said...

And given how late it is, I've come to the realization that I can't spell at this hour.

Helen W said...

Thanks Sarah for your feedback! I am kind of established with a few author friends already through a book review blog I run with my sister (both of us aspiring authors!). But I guess I was just thinking a personal facebook author page might be premature. We do have our blog's facebook page, as well of course my personal facebook account which I also use for connecting with authors. So perhaps I'm on the right track after all :)

Cindy W. said...

Really sound advice and this is a print and keep posting for me. Thank you so much!

I just wanted to say I love your hair Sarah. :)

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Cindy W. said...

Don't know if I needed to say that I would love to be entered to win the Seeker prize pack...but I would love to win....especially if a Seeker pink pen is part of the pack! :)

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


marybelle said...

A wonderful post. Most informative thank you.

Debra E. Marvin said...

Mary Connealy, I am a fb friend and I'm happy with your facebook style. Because ive got enough to read and I am glad to see your posts about your booksignings, blog posts and visits, and that's enough. Once a reader finds an author they like they are going to read those books regardless of whether the author posts a lot or not.

Ill switch to an author page on fb if you create one, but I'm glad you write more books than posts!!

This doesn't take away from Sarah's lessons for all of us by any means. And yes oatmeal is healthier but may have more calories than the bun. Check it out.

Missy Tippens said...

Sarah, I'm so sorry I didn't get by here yesterday! Thanks so much for the great info!! So very helpful!

Sarah Ladd said...

Debra Marvin's post make me think of something! I just wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that the marketing guidelines and suggestion I have made are generalizations. Each of you are different, with difference strengths, goals, writing styles, etc. What works for one of you may not work for the other, nor should it! Play up your strengths. You might be a dynomite blogger, but hate facebook. That's fine. You may try tweeting fro 6 months and decide that doesn't work for you. Again, that is fine. Do what WORKS for you....not what you THINK should work for you. :)

Sarah Ladd said...

Good luck in your marketing endeavors! Thanks for having me! :)

Janet Grunst said...

Excellent post, Sarah! Now, if I could only put half of your suggestions into practice.
What an asset your marketing experience is for your writing aspirations.
Much continued success.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Great post Sarah! Thanks for visiting Seekerville!!! A definite post to print out and refer to often :)

Jo Huddleston said...

Sarah, thanks for the info you gave us. I've known I needed a marketing plan but your points will help me get there. Not published yet but a publisher requested the full manuscript and now I'm waiting. Thanks again.

Karin said...

Wow! I'm printing this out so I can review it later - thanks!!