Monday, January 27, 2014

Fast Draw Promotion

So, you’re busy minding your own business, writing your next novel, planning to go out to the diner for some of Miss Mable’s chicken and dumplings and a slice of apple pie, or just strolling along the dusty street admiring cute bonnets in nearby false-fronted shops when all of a sudden a gunslinger steps out of the shadows and challenges you to a gunfight.

Not with pistols, but with promotion and marketing.

Maybe your best friend sends out a frantic call to help her spread the word that one of her ebooks is free for a limited time on Amazon. Or, like last week, Tyndale unveiled an amazing Crazy4fiction FIVE DAY giveaway that included my book, Claiming Mariah.

Click here to enter. Ends TODAY!  
Get a load of the authors being promoted! Francine Rivers, Susan May Warren, and Joel C. Rosenberg. Now, doesn’t that make you want to break out in Yankee Doodle Dandy?

With an intense urge to spread the word about this amazing giveaway (and to let as many people as possible see that poster! Whoot!) I had no time to work on my fast draw promo, so what did I do? I slapped leather and whipped out my PR posse faster than any gunslinger in the old west ever thought about and set to work.

First, practice your fast draw promo before the gunslinger calls you out. 99% of the shots fired in fast draw promo are online. This is not the time to call up your local newspaper to schedule an interview, or to order print postcards that won’t arrive until next week. Hello???

Online social media is the go-to posse for those fast and furious announcements you need to make. So, long before you need a fast draw promo, form a posse with all your social media / online promo spots organized by category. My posse is in the form of a spreadsheet. (You saw that coming, didn’t you?)

I have my little doggies corralled in separate worksheets within the same Excel document. One tab is called “Online Media” and “Traditional Media”. Traditional is the boots-on-the-ground-face-to-face PR (magazines, festivals, newspapers, bookstores) that takes time to set up. Ignore it for fast draw promo and go straight to your Online Media tab.

Your column headings should look something like this, but you decide what works best for you and what kind of online promotion you’re comfortable doing. If you prefer texting half-a-dozen friends to spread the word, then that’s fine. Go for it!

*Media – the platform: twitter, facebook, yahoogroup, blogs, etc.
*Reach – the primary group this media reaches: readers, writers, mothers, farmers, truck drivers, homeschoolers, etc.
*Name or URL
*# of Followers – this is a good thing to jot down on your list for fb. When time is limited, it’ll help you decide where to promote.
*Contact Person – if applicable
*Email Address – ditto

I’m going to practice my fast draw in this post pretty much in the order I actually did it this past week when Tyndale’s Crazy4Fiction Giveaway burst on the scene.

The first thing I do for a fast draw promo campaign is copy my list to a new spreadsheet and save it because I’ll be checking things off on this list during the gunfight. I take stock of my list, and cut out the dead weight. My Online Media list is extensive, and a few sites won’t work for fast draws. For instance, with Tyndale’s Crazy4Fiction giveaway of print books, I moved blogs that list free ebooks, and facebook pages that require approval to the bottom of the pile.

Next, I added a column and put an X by the places I wanted to hit first. I deleted the obvious no-no’s and sorted the maybes to the bottom. Then I went to work loading my guns.

I started with Twitter. I already have a list of relative hashtags, reviews, and quotes ready, so I copied some of that over to the fast draw campaign. I sorted, organized, added some special promo hashtags for the Crazy4Fiction giveaway, then scheduled several days of tweets. You can check out the twitter madness at @PamHillman.

Now that I had Twitter in place and ready to fire, I turned my attention to Facebook. There’s been a lot of complaining about Facebook lately, but here’s the deal. There are hundreds… thousands…of people on Facebook who will never go visit my website or participate in a blog tour. It’s exciting to connect with former co-workers, school friends, church friends, and acquaintances you haven’t seen in years.

Facebook has a lot to offer, so I’ll try to hit the highlights. In a 3-5 day period, you don’t want to promote on your profile or pages you manage over and over and over, so just a couple of times on those places is fine. Facebook groups filled with readers? You betcha.

Spread your promotion efforts out over the entire campaign and gently pepper them with your new release, your friends’ free book, or that great giveaway your publisher put together. Pages and groups that have to be approved: if there’s time and the page has enough members, consider posting it. I shared the Crazy4fiction giveaway on my high school Facebook page (Go Generals!) and the moderator approved it as a “Support NCA Alum” post.

I chose not to create Facebook Profile or Page Events for the Crazy4Fiction giveaway. Time was limited and since I don’t want to wear out my welcome with my profile friends and page fans, I use Events sparingly. Instead, I’ll have one rocking virtual blowout Event for the official release of Claiming Mariah on February 1st.

Okay, I think that covers Facebook fairly well, doesn’t it?

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. Since this campaign is a fast draw running from Wednesday through Monday, add a column and make a quick note where you’ve posted. I choose the day of the week in this case, so I could see when and where I’d been during the week.

Newsletter list. Some PR opps don’t lend themselves to sending out a newsletter. I send out a quarterly newsletter. I’ve finally gotten the hang of short and sweet by sharing no more than two items I’ll be doing each month in the quarter, maybe one writerly thing and one thing about family, ranching, or puppies. This helps alleviate the urge to give a full 13 week update!

My next newsletter isn’t due until March, but I sent out an eblast about Tyndale’s Crazy4Fiction giveaway to my subscribers because I thought it was something they would be interested in, and it wasn’t ALL about me. I didn’t hit them over the head with the butt of my six-shooter with more “buy my book” demands. Just a yippy-skippy FYI letting them know about the giveaway. And I threw in a picture of a cute baby calf for good measure. View Crazy4Fiction eBlast.

Baby Faces Down on the Farm 
I’m not very active on Goodreads. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a viable place to interact with readers, it’s just that I don’t have time. But I do belong to several groups on there, so I posted about the giveaway in one group. Post to YahooGroups that you belong to if the members are readers. Don’t forget Pinterest.

Google+? LinkeIn? SnapChat? All these are Greek to me, but some of you know how to hit the bull’s eye with these sites.

I’m sure I’ve missed some really hot social media spot, but again you don’t have to do them all. You shouldn't try to. But if you’ll go ahead and have the list of places you’re comfortable promoting on, and where you can pull a fast draw, you won’t be caught unaware by a PR gunslinger when the chips are down.

Did my fast draw work? I don’t know. But I circled the wagons, hunkered down, and gave it my best shot. I’d like to think I had a hand in the FOUR thousand plus total entries in the Tyndale Crazy4Fiction Giveaway.

Your turn.

What fast draw promotion efforts did I miss?

I'm giving away one signed copy of Claiming Mariah, so let me know in the comments if you want to be in the drawing to win.


  1. I'm sure you did awesome! I didn't enter because I have trouble doing it on my finding the URL or whatever of the twitter and so on, so just left it. I would love to have my name in the draw for your book. Though. Thanks for the interesting and informative blog post!

    1. Marianne, I'm always usure about entering with new widgets. It took me forever to figure out how to comment from my phone.

  2. Great post! You've really got a handle on your media marketing!

  3. I followed your link tweeted etc about the books.
    I have already read your book dont enter me.
    I admit it took til this post to read your email. im still trying to catch up but doing it slowly. Feeling a little better today just wish I could stop coughing as it hurts!

    1. Thank you, Jenny! No coughing allowed! So glad things went ok!

  4. Thank you for the link to the giveaway. I entered it this morning.

    I would love to be entered to win a copy of your book! Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  5. Wow. It is so great to see how to do things without being intimidated!

    A certain person, whose name starts with a P and ends with an R and has ipe in the middle has gotten me on Twitter. I can't believe the response time. So great compared to FB.

    As far as Google+, in my experience it is dead in the water. So I am focusing on learning more about Twitter.

    Thanks, Pam!

    Peace, Julie

    1. Twitter goes so fast. But sometimes I see and click on something I really want to read.

  6. Hi Pam,

    I pinned the contest to Pinterest the other day. I'm going to file today's post in hopes that one day I'll need to use all of these tips.

    I have Claiming Mariah, so don't add my name to the drawing.

    Thanks for this great information. Have a good day!

  7. Pam, love your spread sheets and your marketing tips!

    You're amazing.
    Productive too.

    I'm in awe!

    Also love your new signature block. So, so pretty, and so, so your brand.

    Cute calf too!

    So great to see your book along with Francine's and Joel's. Woot! I'm sure they're thrilled to be featured with Claiming Mariah!

    It's all good!

    1. That signature? The background is supposed to be transparent, but has a border.

      DebH, any ideas?

  8. Jenny, glad you're feeling better. Take care of that cough.

    More chicken soup?

  9. Waving to Julie! Good to see you this morning. How's ManO? We've been praying.

  10. Thanks for the thoughts, Pam. I must admit that me and social media are at war with one another more often than not, but it's still nice to have some ideas. :-)

    1. You know the old saying, Naomi ... Love your social media enemies. :)

  11. wow. nice post Pam. makes social media just a bit less scary for me. still scared spitless, just less so now *heh*.

    i still love your book cover. so gorgeous. would like to be in the draw to win a copy too.

    thanks for showing us ideas for fast draw publicity. it certainly makes the process seem less daunting. i must go make friends with spreadsheets, as a graphic artist, i tend to ignore them more often than not. :)

    Jenny: praying for speedy healing for you *hugs*

    1. Deb, just a simple spreadsheet or notepad helps. Course a notepad is harder to copy but it'll do.

  12. Wow, Pam, you're a busy girl! And sounds like a very organized one too. :-) Thanks for the post.

    Would love to win a copy of your book.

    1. Ha! I'm not nearly as organized as I need to be. Must have everything written down or it's bad news!

  13. Okay, can I just say publicly that I don't 'get' twitter? To me it seems to be a huge waste of time. I've tried to follow a few individuals on twitter and find it really confusing. They tweet something in response to something someone else said so it makes no sense because you're reading all of five words out of context and even if you click on 'expand' and read the other comments it still doesn't make any sense. Or they forward someone else's tweet and I'm like, what am I supposed to do with this? LOL Anyway, it seems like a HUGE waste of time to me.

    And Goodreads got to be too overwhelming for me...just hard to keep on top of all the groups etc so when I forgot my password I just stopped going there.

    I'm pathetic, aren't I?

    Don't enter me in the draw because I have Claiming Mariah...and loved it!

    1. Lab, I understand completely. I'm not a fan of posting what I had for breakfast or that I just took a nap (I wish!) and so much of twitter is just that. Useless chatter.

      That's why I try to only out up something relative, fun memes or retweet stuff I know people will enjoy.

  14. OMG, Pam! All your work wore me out! How do you keep up with it all?

    Oh yeah...spreadsheets!

    Great tidbits of info on promoting, Fast Draw!

    I've Twittered and Facebooked the Crazy4Fiction's a gorgeous poster. Very proud to move such worthy info along!!

  15. Julie HS, Twitter is such a mystery to me. I use it, but don't have a clue of it its outreaching impact.

    But then, sometimes not understanding the mechanics of a good thing isn't bad either, LOL!! Gotta leave a little mystery in life, right?

    Still praying, sweets!

  16. Pam, this is great. I'm far from needing this, but what an excellent resource. And you give me a good reminder to begin thinking about how to best take advantage of a fast draw opportunity when it comes along.

    I entered the giveaway this morning too.
    Please add my name to the drawing for your book.

    Loved this!

  17. JULIE, I've been praying for you and ManO too. Prayers continuing!

  18. Hi PAMMERS, I try, but I'm so clueless to most of this. Great going. Best wishes on those books out there. I loved Claiming Mariah so know all those readers will also.

  19. PS I LOVE the photo of the baby cow. Ahhhhh they are so cute.

    ANd I liked how you equated your promotion campaign to a roundup. Great going.

  20. Great information, Pam, even though it all makes my head spin! You're really good at this media marketing. I'm in awe! Your post is a keeper.

  21. Pam,
    You make is sound fast and furious, but very doable. Still scares me to death.

    I never go on twitter, but one of these days, I'll take that first step.

    Please toss my name in the hat for Claiming Miriah.

  22. Pam!!! You are so bloomin' organized!

    Watch out, or we'll all want to hire you as our personal publicist!

  23. Gosh, Pammy, I'm worn out reading all you've done, and I just got up!!

    Of course, promo ALWAYS makes me tired, but it's a necessary evil in this biz, and you've narrowed it down pretty neatly and nicely, so THANK YOU!!

    Off to promo your promo ... :)


  24. At Murder Goes South on SAT, there was a lot of talk about Pinterest, which made me think I should do something there.

    My concern is using photos that aren't my own. Anyone concerned about that?

  25. Pam, this has definitely been the most enjoyable post I have ever read about marketing! Yippy-skippy! :-) Great ideas, too, and I'm going to get started on this in the hopes that someday I'll need it.

    Please enter me in the drawing. I would LOVE to read your book. Thanks!

  26. This sounds very intense! And it gives me something to shoot for (pun intended) Thanks for sharing.

  27. Great suggestions!

    CM is still my favorite cover ever! Please enter me.

  28. Sounds like you did a good job, Pam! What an exciting giveaway to be part of!!

  29. Pam, I'm so excited about this terrific giveaway from Tyndall! You are in great company, girl! And fit right in!!

    Love your signature! Thanks for sharing your marketing know how. You're savvy with promotion and I'm sure Tyndall notices.


  30. Pam, I'm impressed that you figured out how to comment from your phone. Wanna teach me how?


  31. I'm a little dizzy just from reading that.

    Also, I might have ducked some flying lead!!!

    WAY TO GO PAM!!!!

  32. Debby, I've worried about using photos that aren't mine on Pinterest, too. However, i think it's probably okay to use book covers since it's for promotion. I noticed publishers use them.

  33. Wasn't the calf cute?! :) Pam, that's not the baby you rescued is it?

  34. Hi Pam,

    Wow! You always sound SO organized.

    KAV! You said exactly what I've been thinking about TWITTER! I went on last night for a few minutes and honestly couldn't make sense of 90% of what I was reading! Of course, I realized a lot of it was Grammy talk and I didn't know half the group names. Thought it was some secret code! LOL.

    Yeah, me and twitter don't get along!

    Love Facebook though.

    And those contest things - no offense to Pam and others who use those Heliraptor (or whatever they're called). Half the time I can't figure out how to even enter and I don't feel like spending an hour to figure it out, so I don't bother.

    Geesh! Any support groups for this? LOL.

    I've read your book on Kindle,Pam and loved it!


  35. Missy's blurb is trying to TAKE OVER Pam's blog!!!!!!




    And Pam, this is a great bunch of information. I don't understand a lick of it, but it looks MARVELOUS!!!!! :)

    I think the big trick with social media is first to not put all your eggs in one basket.... Write lots of books, give yourself multiple chances to succeed.

    And if you build your readership through the books, the need for social media decreases as word-of-mouth increases.

    I love playing with friends/readers/peeps on facebook. And I'm learning to tweet with more focus, but my joy is in writing.

    So all that other stuff comes in way back down the list.

    Have you noticed that you don't see a lot of successful authors putting time into media?

    And yet, we do need to provide a platform for selling books. Tough fence to walk, right?

  37. Oh my goodness, what a timely post for me. I just went from having revisions due by February 21 to a February 21 release date to a February 7 release date. I got my cover last night and put it on Facebook and Twitter. If you'd like to see it you can go to my website and click on the BOOKS tab. I think it's just beyond lovely.

    Anyway, I'll be using your tips. Thank you for sharing them.

    And on another note, is everyone else freezing their little tootsies off? We're expecting another arctic blast tomorrow. My few pairs of wool socks will be worn out by March if this keeps up. And since the stores now have bathing suits on display, finding more wool socks will be just a tad difficult if not impossible.

    Stay warm. Happy promoting. And have a great day and week!

  38. And LOL at the heliraptor comment! I can't figure it out either. So don't feel bad Susan.

  39. Yay, Marilyn, on getting your cover!!!

    I'm with you about wool socks. Finally found some in the men's section. LOL!

  40. I'm trying to comment more on FB. Keeping the site open and running on my laptop has been a help. I should use my phone more too!

    Just don't think people want to hear about my day in, day out life. :)

    "I'm sitting at my computer."
    "I'm deleting scene 6."
    "I'm adding scene 6 back into the story again."


  41. DEBBY, I know exactly what you mean! When I can't think of anything interesting for an original Tweet or Facebook update, I troll the posts of people I'm following and see if they have anything interesting or fun I can share.

  42. MARILYN, your cover is charming! Congratulations!

  43. hmmm, Pam. Might be something on the html page that automatically gave your nice transparent image a border. that can happen sometimes. actually that's usually the case, especially if you've a nice .png file for your sig with transparency.

  44. if you can hit the html page code and find the line that references your image, give it a border value of zero.
    beginning tagimg src="/pamsAwesomeSig.png" border="0"end tag

    (added the bracket notes 'cuz blogger won't let me insert tag stuff other than the uber easy stuff)

    that might take care of it.

  45. Wow, DebH, you may have broken into a foreign language there.

    Ancient Greek is my guess!

  46. Thank you, Meghan! So glad it resonated with you. You're in the drawing for a copy of Mariah! :)

  47. Great post and suggestions, Pam--WOW! I echo the others who mentioned how organized you are!

    Please add my name to your drawing, and congratulations on your books (and more to come, I'm sure).
    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo (who loved the "baby face" photo you shared)

    p.s. Jenny, continued prayers for you, and I hope you're getting plenty of rest and hope that coughing stops SOON!

  48. Donna, I have to say that I do love that cover too.

  49. Great post and suggestions, Pam--WOW! I echo the others who mentioned how organized you are!

    Please add my name to your drawing, and congratulations on your books (and more to come, I'm sure).
    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo (who loved the "baby face" photo you shared)

    p.s. Jenny, continued prayers for you, and I hope you're getting plenty of rest and hope that coughing stops SOON!

  50. Janet, I'm trying to remember what I did. I think I had to log in to blogger and after that I could comment.

    Missy, the rescued baby calf was solid black, so not that one. :)

  51. Patti Jo I am resting plenty we are in another heatwave. I am doing my walking round the house. but still coughing and its getting a little more each day. I do see my dr tomorrow so she will check it out again. I am hoping someone rings early who is shopping I need pineapple and tomato.
    didn't think of them yesterday. not needing to nap as much in the day which is a good sign. I am wondering just how much the gall bladder was affecting me before.

  52. Wait.

    We're supposed to be interesting on Facebook?????

    (head down, walks away, dejected.)

  53. Listen to Ruthy. She'll steer you in the right direction. :)

    Once you decide what avenues of promotion you'd like to pursue, then today's post is to give you an idea of how to be ready for that.

    For some, that might be a lot of facebook groups, for others, that might be an extensive list of magazines that you write for with a byline that includes a bit about your books, too.

    The one thing I wouldn't want to do is to have a book come out and have NO idea what to do to generate some buzz, whether that buzz was on facebook, twitter, blogs, or on the corner market and the local bookstores. Granted, I'm a greenhorn with the face-to-face traditional promo since this is my first print book on the scene.

    So, that's another unexpected blessing of going Digital First with Tyndale. I was able to learn the ropes of online social media promo. Now, I'm learning a bit about traditional promo, too. :)

  54. Congrats Marilyn! Love your cover! :)

  55. DebH, that sig is a png. And, you're probably right about the html. I think Wordpress lets you choose whether images have a border around them, but I haven't found where you can have some with and some WITHOUT on the same site. I figure blogger is the same way.

  56. Hi Pam

    I admire how organized you are, and you can save a lot of time that way. This post is a keeper.

    I don't know why some writers don't like twitter. So much information is packed into so little space. Facebook eats up so much time. Maybe the problem is the people you follow. I follow agents and publishers, reviewers and marketing experts and writers who have interesting blogs, and some who leave inspirational quips. If you follow your comparable authors, you can connect with their readers. Of course reading blogs can eat up time too.

    Jenny, I forgot to mention this, but it took me two weeks to get over the pain of my gall bladder operation, then two months for my body to get used to not having a gall bladder, but you can eat a lot better after that...maybe too much better. Sounds like you're healing normally, just hang in there.

  57. Well, tutty-fruity, the html for border already says "0". :( Will have to study on this more.

  58. Mary, didn't you know that DebH and I are code talkers.

  59. Patti Jo, thank you! Who can resist a cute baby-faced calf. Now, when they get to be big-mamas, they can be pretty intimidating.

  60. Ruthy, I prefer authentic to interesting. But if we can be both, that's a good thing, yes?

  61. Pam, I'm in awe. You are so savvy and I'm so behind. Thanks for the tips.

  62. I would have guessed SPREADSHEET!!

    Lots of good info. Will have to check out SnapChat. That one is NEW to me.

    Thanks, Pam.

  63. Code talkers.

    Is that "code" for "code"????

    I love that you said listen to Ruthy.

    Now my ego inflationary system is fully intact for the remainder of the day.

    I need food..... and I happen to have some pulled beef, with Famous Dave's barbecue sauce. And look at these mini rolls!!!! I grilled them for you and sprinkled them with garlic butter and salt.

    I didn't say it was healthy, my loves.....

    but it sure is good!!!!


  64. So Pammers, if we can be authentic and interesting, what do you call that????


    Connealy. :)

  65. Thanks for the ideas! I'm still trying to figure out Twitter, but I try to keep up with Goodreads, Pinterest, and Facebook. :P I admit I need to figure out the most time-efficient ways to juggle all this socia media, though.

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing for your book!

  66. Ruthy
    You are making me laugh. You're ALWAYS interesting.

    Perhaps you can make the border transparent. I attempted looking up your snafu earlier and that was a suggestion. I'm not up on blogger quirks.

    All: excuse the code talk.

  67. Wow, Pam, my head is spinning. I need to read this through again ... very slowly. Sounds like you have plenty of promo ammunition for any event :-)

    Nancy C

  68. Thanks DebH. I'll look at it some more. Funny thing...if I just open it in Word or a graphics design program, there is no border. Weird.

    Nancy, let the shoot-outs commence! lol

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. Great job, Pam. Lately, I've been disgusted by Fb because they keep applying algorithms that move my people around. They decide that since I haven't 'talked' to someone or liked a post from that person in the past two weeks, that I must not like them anymore. How frustrating to be censored like that! Oh well...

  71. It sounds like you have it well covered.

    I'd love a signed copy of "Claiming Mariah" thank you.

  72. Thanks for the fast draw tips, Pam! Please put my name in the drawing:)

  73. Woo, that was a lot of information. Too bad the fast-draw contest only lasted a few days. Please enter me in the drawing here.

  74. Lyndee, I agree. The fb algorithm switcheroo is frustrating. I just look at fb as walking in to Wal Mart or Sam's Club and getting a free sample of whatever they're selling in the aisles that day.

    All these social media sites are SO much more than authors had available five, ten, twenty years ago.

    Love the diversity! :)

  75. Mary & Sara, so glad you stopped by!

    Michelle, I agree. It went by way too fast, but it sure was fun! :)

  76. This is a GREAT idea, Pam. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm working on creating my spreadsheet now. :D

  77. It will save your sanity, Amber!

    And, the cool thing is...authors can start this long before they're published.

    Ears and eyes open at all times! :)