Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marketing Among Friends: Tips for Helping Readers Fall in Love with Your Brand

Sandra here with a special surprise for us today. Amber Stokes, my former editor and publicist is going to join us. Sadly (for me), Amber is no longer my editor, because happily for her and Harvest House Publishers, she has an exciting new job. And truly, I am delighted for Amber because she is talented and hard working and will be an asset to Harvest House. 

Amber and Sandra in front of Hola's Restaurant, Sunriver


This summer I had the opportunity to meet Amber face-to-face and hear all about her wonderful job. I twisted her arm (no not really) but she generously offered to share some behind the scenes information about a traditional publisher and provide tips on marketing. 

So I am delighted to bring back to Seekerville, and introduce you to my dear friend, Amber Stokes.

Amber Stokes works as a content writer in the marketing services department of Harvest House Publishers. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she has always considered home.

***
 


I walk into the office and sit down at my desk in the corner cubicle. What will our readers say today, I wonder? I log onto my computer. I wait impatiently for it to load. I go online. And my breath catches in my chest until I see the new emails pop up in my inbox. I hear nothing—not even the sounds of geese honking on the marsh—just the beating of my own heart.

Perhaps that description of a typical workday in the marketing department is a bit melodramatic. After all, when Meg Ryan wrote nearly identical words in You’ve Got Mail, she was falling in love.

But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little more love involved in marketing?

That’s the basic idea behind the philosophies of experts like Bernadette Jiwa, Simon Sinek, and Seth Godin.



On the road to falling in love—and staying in love—many attest to the need for friendship. You start as friends. You continue as friends.

Authors and publishers both want readers to fall in love with their brand. But first they have to show that they truly care about the people they’re marketing to. So, what might it look like to “market among friends”?

Here are a few ideas:

~ Friends share generously.

When a friend says they need to borrow our vacuum cleaner, we don’t hesitate. When Christmas rolls around, our friends are included on our shopping list. When we’re on a baking spree, our friends are often the recipients of the treats we’ve made. In other words, friends give.

What can authors and publishers give their readers?

A recent example from Harvest House Publishers can be found on the landing page we put together for Tony Evans’s new release, Praying Through the Names of God. We created 52 visual devotions based on the book—each one including one of the names of God, its meaning, and a prayer snippet—to be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes one at a time, once a week for a year. These lovingly crafted devotions are designed to encourage and inspire readers.

Good friends give both ways, though. In return for offering gifts (such as free devotional pieces) to your readers, they might give you their attention, contact information for future marketing endeavors, and a chance to show them why they’d enjoy the stories you’re sharing with the world.

Don’t forget:  The most important thing you can give readers is a reason to care. Make sure your presence, your personality, and your products are quality and genuine.

~ Friends remember special days.

Friends are the ones who remember our birthdays, the anniversaries of our losses and successes, and the little events that make up our day-to-day lives. Timing plays a part in friendships—whether it’s a card sent on the right day or a hug that’s given at just the right moment.

And timing should play a part in our marketing strategies.

Harvest House released a book titled As It Was in the Days of Noah by Jeff Kinley earlier this year. Any other season or year, and the book would likely not have captured readers’ attention quite as much as it did. Why? Because the book’s release was timed to coincide with the buzz surrounding the arrival of the new Noah movie in theaters.

If you plan on being traditionally published, you might not have a say in your book’s release date. But you do have the option to pay attention to what’s going on in the world—during both the writing and marketing processes. See what concerns are popping up in the news. Note which holidays are coming up on the calendar. Find ways to make your book relevant, to show readers you care about the special days that matter to them.

~ Friends listen to one another.

The most frustrating of “friends” are the ones who talk at us all the time instead of recognizing that we have something to say, as well. True friends give one another a voice. They feel free to talk, but they also make the effort to listen.

At Harvest House, we recently launched a new corporate blog. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter, and I currently manage one of our niche sites, AmishReader.com(created especially for our Amish fiction fans). Yes, social media sites such as these do involve a lot of talking to readers. But they also offer platforms for discussion—a chance for readers to talk to us and tell us what they enjoy through comments and “likes” and shares.

Your brand involves more than the theme running through your books or the design on your website. It also involves your personality and the distinctive way you approach marketing. Help readers fall in love with your brand by treating them—and truly seeing them—as your friends.

Question: As an author, what little or big ways do you show readers you care about them? Or if you’re primarily a reader, what gestures from authors or publishers mean the most to you?

Giveaway!



In honor of Harvest House Publishers’ 40th anniversary, our marketing team is giving away four of our new releases—one book each to four different winners! The titles are: The Cure for the “Perfect” Life by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, Choose Love by Stormie Omartian, and Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable by Valorie Burton. And I personally am giving away a Kindle copy of Bernadette Jiwa’s The Fortune Cookie Principle, which is filled with lots of fabulous marketing advice and food for thought. Be sure to let us know if you have a preference out of these books in the comments section!



Thank you Amber.  What a generous offer.  

Amber loves Mexican food, so I brought a Mexican buffet. Help yourself to tacos, enchiladas, taco salad, fajitas and if its early morning, we have chorizo and eggs wrapped in warm tortillas.   We also have chocolate velvet coffee and hot chocolate on hand  (chocolate was originally from Mexico).  

Thanks again, Amber.  

Amber is at work today and will join us when she can.  If you have specific questions, be sure and check back.   





93 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Checking in on my way to bed! Another day of harvest DONE. Great post, Amber. I'd love the fiction novel you are offering! Hi Sandra. See you soon

Jennifer Smith said...

Aw, I loved this post! I think one of the things that means a lot to me as a reader is when an author replies to comments and stays engaged with readers on their social media posts...And I'd love to read any of the books being given away. :)

Christy Olesen said...

As a reader, like Jennifer, I appreciate when an author takes the time to comment and engages commenters. As an author I know this is a time commitment. We have to find a balance that works for all of us. This is a timely post for me because I'm actively studying how to do all the social media stuff.

Amber Stokes said...

Hello, Seekerville!

Always a pleasure to be here. :) Many thanks to the super sweet Sandra for hosting me, and for the warm welcome! It was such a blast meeting her in person for the first time. :D

As Sandra noted, I'll be at work during the day, but I should be able to pop in now and then, so please feel free to send any questions or comments my way!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Marianne,

Thanks so much for swinging by - especially since I imagine you must be quite tired after gathering the harvest! Glad you enjoyed the post. And I'm a fiction girl, myself, so I had to make sure we included a novel on the giveaway list. ;)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jennifer,

I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post! I'm quite intrigued by the marketing philosophies I've been checking out, and how they emphasize the importance of connecting emotionally with your audience. I'm all for a marketing strategy that actually takes into account what the consumer wants and how a product will make them feel. :)

And as you address, it's about more than products...it's about how you as an author or company makes the reader feel. As Bernadette Jiwa would likely say, the author's presence tells a story just as surely as her books do. :) And I, too, appreciate the authors who take the time to continue the stories they begin with their books by investing in the lives of their readers!

Thank you for your comment!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Christy,

You're so right - it does take balance, as you've got to invest your heart into the work you're producing as well as the people you're reaching out to. If you have no book or a poor-quality book, then marketing is a moot point. And you can have a great book but miss out on both wonderful relationships and a chance to share that book with others if you don't take the time to market well.

I'm glad you found the post timely, and I hope it was helpful to you! Which social media outlets are you planning on pursuing? I've heard and found that it's good to pick a few you enjoy using and that work well for your style, and then be present on them often. Personally, I'm a big fan of Twitter (which is great for engaging in discussion with fellow readers and writers) and Pinterest (which is great for organizing ideas and sharing visuals for your books). :)

~Amber

The Artist Librarian said...

Since I live in an area that hardly ever gets Christian/Inspiration author book tours, I really appreciate being able to interact with authors online, whether on blogs or through Facebook. On the publisher side, I like when they host events or opportunities such as an author Q&A. Bethany House does this semi-regularly with some of their authors.

Cindy W. said...

Enjoyed the post Amber. I too love it when an author takes time out of their busy schedule to mingle with their readers. I have found myself buying books by authors that show genuine care for their readers on a blog posting and if the truth be told, I probably would never have bought their book. Then once I read the book I fell in love with the author and now get everything they write.

I would love to win any of the books but I do love Susan Meissner and would love the fiction book.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I totally believe this and I hope I practice it daily.

Being present with readers through stories that touch hearts and souls... and personal contact through social media and/or blogs (like SEEKERVILLE!!!!!! and YANKEE BELLE CAFE!!!!!!) and giveaways to show people what my work is all about... I love it!

I always loved authors who weren't afraid to be of the people.

And that's the way I want to run my business. With the people... having fun and praying and reading and chatting together!

Like Cindy says above, that genuine care for your readers and the sweet truth of faith is the best marketing ever! Because we're all on the same team!

Kav said...

Amber!!!! Congratulations on your new job. So excited for you. It sounds like a perfect fit. Especially excited about AmishReader.com

Oh -- and I think Seekerville is the epitomy of great marketing with a heart. These ladies give and give and give some more.

As to questions...Can you describe what a day in the life of a content writer is like? I'm fascinated by publishers and how everything works.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Congratulations on your new position and career move. Wonderful news.

What an excellent post this is as well!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Very excited to read that marketing book you recommended as well. I am a Huge Seth Godin fan. THANK YOU!

Tina Radcliffe said...

So Harvest House is located near where you already live? WHOA! A God thing!

Mary Hicks said...

Amber, girl, thank you for sharing this wonderful post with us today.:-)

Congratulations on the new job and I hope you have many happy years there! A job you like, close to home, does it get any better?:-) NO!

kaybee said...

Thank you, Amber and Sandy. Marketing is going to be a huge learning curve for me. When I have something to market, sigh. Right now I'm looking forward to relationships with readers. I WANT them to get to know the people I've been putting on paper. I want to engage and be real to them.
Social media is hard for me for number of reasons, but I'm in there trying. I don't really chat on any sites besides Seekerville, need to work on that this year, but you guys make it so easy to just come in and plop down...
Working on rewrite of "Town," the sequel to "Trail," and need to have this draft done by Nov. so I can do NANO. Setting goals helps, also prioritizing.
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

Hey Sandra,
Going to do your month of writers' devotionals again in October, which is a time of reflection for me.
KB

kaybee said...

It's all about relationships, but really, what isn't?
KB

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Kaybee, I was thinking about those devotionals the other day. I might need to post them somewhere permanent. smile Maybe on my website.

Good point about relationships. That is one of the important keys to life isn't it?

Thanks for stopping by.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Mary, I agree. She really does have a wonderful job and it is a blessing to be close to home. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Dear Artist Librarian, I know what you mean. Because I travel so much and am out camping most of the time, I miss being around other authors. So the online friendships mean so much to me also.

Happy writing.

Janet Dean said...

Amber, welcome back to Seekerville. Congratulations on your new job! Thanks for your excellent post on marketing.

The friendships formed through this blog and personal contacts on social media are a blessing for me as an author. It's never been easier to interact with readers. Still, I have a lot to learn so that I don't miss opportunities to connect. Thanks for sharing what works.

Janet

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Kav, You are right about Seekerville. It not only is a great place for our readers to know us, but it has been equally a blessing for us to get to know others as well. We learn as much from all of you in your comments and guest posts as we have given.

The age-old principle of give and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Waving to Tina, Ruthy and Janet. Good morning Seekerville. Its still dark here in the west. The sun should be coming up soon.

Miranda A. Uyeh said...

Hey Amber!

Glad you got to post today! Love your advice. Very helpful and sound indeed. Thank you, Amber and Sandra, for reminding an author what's most important: to connect! :)

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Amber and Sandra! Amber, congratulations on your new job. It sounds as if you really enjoy what you're doing.

Jackie Smith said...

Congrats, Amber on your new job!
Enjoyed your post.
Thanks for the giveaway...I try to read all of Susan Meissner's so would love to win that one!

As Kav, Janet, Sandra and others shared...what would we do without Seekerville to "connect" and make friends...YAY!!!

Vince said...

Hi Amber:

Friends can come in many gradations from friendamies, to fair weather, to bosom buddies, to even best friends forever.

I think, as Christian writers, it might also prove productive to treat our readers (and others) as children of God worthy of our love and respect. Moreover, treat them with approval. Find something true and good to say about them at each encounter. Energize readers with a positive charge as they go on to face their day. Keep confidences. Play fair with your readers in all your writing. Avoid clichés and tired writing. Give your best out of a moral sense of caring for the reader. And when you write those 1,000 words a day, imagine the reader reading your work and looking for comfort and finding it in the effort you have invested in your writing.

If you do these things, all else will follow as an HEA follows the black moment. : )!

And Amber: you have done this for years with your website. In a way, it is not something you do, it’s something you are. I’m so happy for your success. And you’ve only just begun.

Vince

Myra Johnson said...

Amber, it's a pleasure to have you as our guest in Seekerville today! Congratulations on your new position, and thank you for sharing these wonderful insights about connecting with readers.

This discussion really fits well with what I've learned from several other sources--that it really is all about relationships.

Especially the whole "social media" thing. If we're only using Facebook and Twitter to sell books, we're missing the point. It's all about having conversations and showing interest in what others are saying and doing.

Julie Lessman said...

AMBER!!! SUPER CONGRATS, girl, on the new job at Harvest House -- that is AWESOME!!

WOW ... you've come a LONG WAY, Borders Girl ... from reading in trees to editing with ease! ;)

For me, connecting with reader friends is absolutely THE BEST part of my job, which is probably why I don't get more books written ... :)

GREAT BLOG, my friend!!

Hugs,
Julie

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI Miranda, Thanks for the compliment. Yes, we do need reminders all the time. Have a great day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Vince, I agree. Amber has been doing this on her website. That is why she was such a great publicist for me because she already had formed so many friendships online.

When we started Seekerville, we had no idea what we were really doing. We just wanted to share what we had been learning about the business of writing. We did not do it to make friends or to market, but because of the sharing the HEA came as you just said it would. What a wonderful surprise and blessing for all of us. smile

And it was on Seekerville where I met Amber. She was a guest just when I needed an editor and publicist. YAY.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Waving at Cara, Julie and Myra.

Jeanne T said...

Amber, what a great post. I love your suggestions, and what Harvest House is doing to be friendly with their readers. Thanks for sharing these!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Jeanne, Isn't it wonderful how Harvest House is setting up blogs to share with readers. I've been on some with other publishers and I think this will be important for finding books we want since book stores are declining and more and more we shop online.

I love reading about the authors and their books.

I am glad Amber shared these with us also.

Connie Queen said...

Good morning Amber.

At first I was going to say I'm not into social media, but I get on Seekerville almost everyday so I won't lie.

I'm not published, but when I do (did you notice I didn't say "if" :) ) I figure it will be a struggle to connect with readers because I don't like putting myself out there. I rarely post on my own facebook.

On the flipside, I love it when publishers blog and connect with me. I like to be able to read about an editor and their publishing likes/dislikes. A little hypocritical... Yes. And I'd rather read about what an author is day to day with just an occasional reminder about an upcoming book/new cover.

Thanks for the post and I'd love to win the Amish Blacksmith.

Amber Stokes said...

The Artist Librarian,

Thank you for the great feedback! While there are some downfalls to the Internet (as with most anything), it is a wonderful thing that people from different parts of the world can connect and become friends, isn't it? :)

That's neat to hear you enjoy the Q&As set up by publishers! Do you mostly participate on Facebook, then, or are there other sites you go to for those sorts of events?

~Amber

Nancy Kimball said...

I may have put a serious dent in the Mexican buffet. =)
I enjoyed this post, Amber, and one of the best bit of marketing advice I ever heard echoes your own views.
Technology is instant. Relationships take time.

I'm trying not to be jeleous of those who live in the pacific northwest. It is a gorgeous area I have been able to visit. Breathtaking!

Could you offer some thoughts or suggestions for an author (me) who has such a humorous, light-hearted, easy going personality that comes across loud and clear in social media, but is the opposite of her work? My novels are gritty, emotionally turbulent, and angst-filled in tone. I am not most of the time so my personalty almost seems opposed to what I actually write. Thoughts on how to bridge the gap or should I be concerned much?

Amber Stokes said...

Cindy,

I'm glad to hear it! :) Thank you!

And that's a great point, how we're more likely to give authors a try if we've had the chance to interact with them in a positive way. Buying their books then becomes an act of supporting a friend. :)

Do you think that could translate to publishers? Are you more likely to check out books by a certain publisher because of their online presence, or do you generally pay more attention to a specific author than the publishing company?

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Ruth,

If the popularity of this blog and your books is any indication, I think you are indeed succeeding at being a friend to readers. :) Keep up the awesome work!

Love all your great thoughts on the topic! I totally agree - genuine relationships really are the backbone of marketing. And more than that, they're at the heart of writing stories in the first place and publishing them to share with the world, right? :)

~Amber

kaybee said...

I really don't do well on social media. I have a very dry sense of humor and you really have to see my face to know I'm kidding. I try to dial it down here and I'm really going to have to dial it down when I get readers. But it will be worth it.
KB

Amber Stokes said...

Kav,

Thank you so much! It's wonderful to see you here - it's been too long since we've chatted. :)

I'm particularly excited about AmishReader.com, as well. It has a fabulous audience already, and you well know that I'm a fiction girl. ;) We're also on Facebook and Twitter (with Facebook being the most interactive), in case you want to follow with us there! I'm having a lot of fun connecting with the Amish fiction fans, starting up the newsletter again, and getting new blog posts up.

I quite agree with your comment about Seekerville! Lots of giving, and lots of meaningful relationships. :)

As for your question, sure! I confess I've always been curious about the "behind the scenes," as well, and I still find it all fascinating. My little You've Got Mail intro wasn't too far off...in the sense that I start the day by sitting down at the computer, checking my email, and all that jazz. The specific day-to-day tasks vary depending on which books we're actively promoting and how we're promoting them, but as the content writer those tasks could include everything from brainstorming headlines and content for ads and landing pages, to proofreading blog posts and catalog copy, to writing social media messages and emails.

That might sound kind of boring when I put it that way, LOL. But there are a lot of different sorts of writing pieces involved with marketing, and I enjoy the challenge and creativity of it. Plus, my coworkers are all wonderful, with great senses of humor, so a day in the office is never dull! And there are the occasional meetings and conference calls with authors to get me off of the computer. ;)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Tina,

Thank you, and thank you! :)

Yes, I highly recommend The Fortune Cookie Principle - and Difference (by the same author), as well. They include some of the same content and are based on the same sort of philosophy, but they have such great insights and advice. And I also recommend watching Simon Sinek's presentation on "The Golden Circle," if you haven't seen that yet! You can find it on YouTube.

As for coming to work at Harvest House, it was definitely a God thing. :) I'm from Northern California, but it's only a short day's drive away, so I'm relatively close to home. Considering how most publishers are in the Midwest or on the East Coast, I consider myself very blessed to have found this job on the West Coast - working for a great company in a beautiful part of the world, with truly wonderful coworkers. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Mary H.,

My pleasure! :) Thank you for reading, and for the kind words!

And nope, it doesn't get much better than this. :) I love the work, I love the people, and I love that I'm not too far from home. Plus, I went to school in Oregon and have been on many family vacations in this state, so I'm already quite fond of the place.

~Amber

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Amber, It is so good to have you here. It is like old times. smile I really miss working with you, but am so excited about your new job. It will be fun to see what all you do to bring Harvest House out there to the readers. There are so many exciting opportunities for all of us with all this electronic technology.

Thanks again for coming by and sharing with us.

Lyndee H said...

HI Amber. Great post. I smiled when I read that a friend remembers birthdays. I'm so bad at that, even within my family!

I support my published friends by liking their posts, sharing their posts about their newly published books or other big news, and try to follow and comment when they are featured on blogs. I also take 'sighting' photos of their newly released titles at stores and post them on my/their feed to drum up interest in their books among my friends. It's my pleasure to get the word out for them, and maybe someday. God willing,I will be on the reciprocating side!

Amber Stokes said...

Kaybee,

You're right - relationships are so vital, and such a blessing. :) Sounds like you're off to a good start by spending time in Seekerville and setting aside time for writing! Prioritizing is crucial, for sure, and having a worthy and meaningful product to market is the first and most important step.

However, you can certainly continue to build those relationships as "preliminary" marketing! Do you have a Goodreads account or a blog? A great way to set the stage for those reader relationships you want is to connect with other readers now and talk about other characters you all love. :) I started book blogging several years before I released my first book, and I think it made a big difference to have already formed those friendships with people who understood my love for books and who were familiar with my "voice."

Thank you for your comments!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Sandra,

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to everyone! Speaking of friends... :D

I'm so glad we met through Seekerville, as well, and I'm truly grateful for your continued friendship and support. :) *Hugs*

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Janet,

Thank you for the kind words!

Marketing - especially with the ever-changing technology and the relatively new need for an online presence - is a constant learning experience. Thankfully, things like authenticity and the necessity of having products worth talking about stay the same. And I believe the rest is a lot of fun, as we try to creatively employ good values in order to connect with those who could use our products (i.e.: be inspired and impacted by our books). :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Miranda,

Aw, wonderful to see you here, friend! Thank you for checking out my post and for offering those encouraging words. :) Real connections are the key, aren't they?

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Cara,

Thank you! Yes, I'm definitely enjoying the new job. :) Funny enough, when I started my freelance business it was supposed to be strictly editing - but then Sandra wanted the whole package deal, so I got into the publicity/marketing side and haven't looked back! So happy that those experiences paved the way for working at Harvest House.

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jackie,

Thank you! And you're welcome. :) I've come to find that Harvest House folk are truly generous!

And yes, grateful for the blessing that is Seekerville!

~Amber

Debby Giusti said...

Getting ready for ACFW so don't have much time, but I did want to give Amber a hug and a huge thank you to Sandra for asking her to blog today.

The Fortune Cookie book looks intriguing. Must place an order! Thanks for the info.

Congrats on your new job, Amber! Harvest House is lucky to have you.

Safe travel to all headed for St. Louis. See you there. To the rest, try to keep Ruthy under control! :)

Sherri Shackelford said...

Wonderful advice! Thank you :)

Amber Stokes said...

Vince,

I was hoping you'd stop by! :)

You make such great points (as always!). As Christians, our faith should be a part of everything we do, whether at home, at church, at school, in the community, or in the workplace. Our values shouldn't be checked at the door; they should be a part of our marketing whether or not they actually made any difference to sales. Fortunately, they often do. :)

I love what you said about "playing fair" with readers in our writing, as well. It's not just the marketing, but also the very creation of our products that should be saturated with thoughtfulness, love, and appreciation. Something to remember, for sure!

And thank you so very much for your encouraging words. You've always challenged me to think deeply and supported me whenever we've run across each other online. I'm very grateful!

~Amber

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

WAHOOO, Amber and Sandra.
Totally jealous that y'all got to hang out together... :)

Good info included here. I love seeing how the past few years have prepared you for this season. Just exciting!!!!

The books all sound good but if there's a preference, I'll take what you are offering. I could use more marketing ideas.

Have a happy day in Seekerville! (How could you not?!)

Amber Stokes said...

Myra,

Thank you for the warm welcome! It's always a pleasure to visit Seekerville.

That is very true about using social media in the right way! The people who merely tweet or share links to their books and spam their followers are considered annoying and are not likely to garner many sales from that "in your face" approach, as far as I can tell. People want to use social media to be social and have sociable interactions - to build those real friendships, which requires vulnerability as you let others into your life. But as many have said, the relationships and shared knowledge are more than worth it. :)

~Amber

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI KC, How clever of you to recognize this as a "season" for Amber given her website features the different seasons.

Wish you could have been with us too. What a kick that would be. Some day. smile

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

Aww, thank you! Love your rhyme. ;) It has been quite the journey, and I'm so enjoying it all! Grateful for the chance to keep reading and promoting great books.

And yes, I confess that I, too, could probably focus a little more on the writing (as an author), but I also love blogging and whatnot to maintain those awesome friendships with readers! Such a blessing. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jeanne,

Thank you for the sweet words! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and examples. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Connie,

Love your attitude with "when" instead of "if" - keep the faith! And nowadays, legitimate publishing can come through all sorts of avenues. If you have a passion for writing, keep on keeping on. :)

Regarding social media, I understand your concerns. There is a certain level of vulnerability required, as with forming any friendships. However, you don't always have to chat about really personal topics in order to have meaningful, fun discussions. You can talk about the books you love (not just your own), the things that make you laugh, and the general, everyday pleasures that you're grateful for. Readers LOVE to talk about books, movies, music, etc.

Perhaps that might also feel a bit daunting to post about, as it still requires a display of your personality and interests. But just by commenting here, you're heading in the right direction! (Commenting on other blogs and sites is a great way to show others you care about what they have to say.)

And thank you for the feedback about what you like from publishers!

~Amber

Sherida Stewart said...

Hello to Amber and Sandra!

Amber, Harvest House sounds like a perfect place for your talents. Congratulations to both you and to Harvest House for hiring you!

And what a great post! I especially like your thoughts: "On the road to falling in love—and staying in love—many attest to the need for friendship. You start as friends. You continue as friends." YES!

I've been blessed by many "friends of the heart" that I've met through my two years of social media-ing. :) Seekerville is such a part of that blessing!

Through my fledgling blog, I hope to give my readers a bit of quiet time in their busy day. We sip a virtual cup of tea and share a recipe for a tea treat while we chat about Christian books. I appreciate those who comment and to the authors who express their thanks for being on my blog. (Yes, waving to you, dear friends! *smile*)

Amen to everything Vince said!

Thanks for the generous giveaway.....any one of those books would be lovely!

Amber Stokes said...

Nancy,

Haha, please feel free to help yourself to the buffet! ;) Mexican food does sound rather good right now... I could definitely go for a taco (or two or three) for lunch. Or that delicious steak meal I had at the Mexican restaurant with Sandra. Yum!

That's a great line about marketing, and so true! Yes, you can instantly share about your book or life with the click of a button - but it does take time and effort to actually form friendships. Reminds me of starting a blog. Responding to comments, offering giveaways, reaching out through other blogs...it takes time to build a following, a good reputations, and true friendships. It doesn't all come together the first day you launch a blog!

And yes, I'm quite fond of the Pacific Northwest. :) Hope you get a chance to visit again soon!

That's a great question about the difference between your voice on social media and your voice in your books. As with any book, I think it's good to make the tone of the story clear with the blurb, title, and cover (etc.). From what I've seen of your book around social media, I think you've done a great job of that! It's obvious just from the cover that it isn't going to be a humorous chick flick. :) I believe you can trust any potential readers to catch the gist of the tone and story if you've done your part well in the packaging and marketing materials, as much as you're able.

And the truth is, I think that if you're genuine in your social media accounts as well as in your writing, your voice will resonate in both outlets. No, you might not have as much cause for humor in your book, but yes, your heart will still be the same, and there are likely nuances that are constant throughout all your writing. I believe readers will see that.

My first indie-published release, Bleeding Heart, was probably darker than some were expecting (and I actually warned my early readers of that), given the more lighthearted tone on my blog. And yet, I do touch on deeper heart matters on my blog, and I think you do, as well, on your "Fiction Heroes" site.

All that to say, my suggestions are simply to be yourself on social media and in your writing, even if different parts of yourself shine in each. Plus, as much as a story is a part of us, readers do interact with it differently than they do with us on a personal level - so I believe you can trust them to recognize the separation and appreciate the work of your imagination. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Kaybee,

Just wanted to respond to your last comment. It's great that you're aware of the potential problem with clarity - that will make it all the easier to deal with! My suggestion when it comes to social media is to learn how and when to use emoticons - like the smiley face :) or the winking face ;). When you're being sarcastic, emoticons can help make it clear that you're teasing or joking. Of course, they're not always appropriate for professional uses, but for personal social media accounts, I love them! It keeps things light and makes the interactions more fun.

Hope that helps!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Lyndee,

I'm glad you enjoyed the post! And that's a great point - friends and family don't always remember birthdays. ;) But when we love others, I think we do tend to recognize the importance of timing in other areas, like when someone is going through a rough patch or when someone is celebrating a life victory. Recognizing what another person is going through is a great sign of friendship, I believe. :)

And those are some awesome things you're doing to support your author friends! I imagine they're truly appreciative of your efforts. And yes, I think that genuinely giving in that way will set the stage for your own marketing ventures down the road!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Debby,

You're so sweet to pop in with all that's going on! *Hugs* to you! :)

I think you'd find The Fortune Cookie Principle a really encouraging and thought-provoking read. I now I sure did! And you can't beat the Kindle price (assuming it's still at $2.99). :)

Thank you for the kind words, and safe travels to you and others on their way to ACFW!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Sherri,

You're very welcome! So glad the post resonated with you. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

KC,

Aww, we shall have to meet in person someday! :)

I agree with Sandra - gotta love the seasons reference! In fact, I was so excited to come work at a place with a name like Harvest House and a tagline of "Grow True." How fitting is that??

I think you'd really enjoy The Fortune Cookie Principle - it has a lot of great ideas to keep in mind!

Thanks for stopping by, my friend. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Sherida,

So wonderful to see you here! Thank you for the super kind words, and for your continued friendship. :) I'm so glad you agree with the post!

Yes to "friends of the heart" - I've made so many, as well, through blogging, and it's such a rich blessing! You can't even imagine how much it will impact your life when you first start blogging - or at least that's how it's been for me. :)

You have such a lovely blog, Sherida, and I really enjoy your "Tuesday Tea" theme! Those posts are really sweet and clever, and I hope you continue to share them. :) Thank you for all you do to support fellow writers, including me!

~Amber

Sandra Leesmith said...

Lots of terrific responses today Amber. We are learning so much. Thanks again for sharing with us.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Sherida, I enjoy your Tuesday Tea posts also. They were sure fun to do. smile And you are a lovely hostess.

Nancy Kimball said...

Amber,
Thank you so much. That's great perspective and kind of what I hoped it would be. To just be myself and make certain my product offering is geared toward the target reader and packaged accordingly. And that that is okay if they're different. *Breathing a contented sigh.*

Thank you so much and congrats on your Indie release. I'm going to have to go check that out now!

Sherida Stewart said...

Thanks, Amber and Sandra! Lifting my tea cup to you both! :)

Casey said...

Hi Amber!!!!

So excited to see you here my friend, living your dream! Crazy excited to see where else God takes you. It's been an awesome ride so far. Love seeing where you will go and do next. Harvest House is blessed to have you!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Casey, Great to see you too.

Walt Mussell said...

Amber, Congratulations on your new job. I spent 11 years in Portland, so I'm jealous of anyone who gets to live in that part of the country.

Amber Stokes said...

Sandra,

Loved all the comments! Seekerville is such a happenin' and happy place to be. :) Thank you again for hosting me!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Nancy,

I'm glad my comment was comforting/encouraging to you! Different people will tell you different things, and mine is just one opinion - but it sounds like you were already thinking along the same lines, and I believe genuineness is what readers crave, even if that comes out in different ways through different outlets. :) Keep up the great work!

And aw, thank you for wanting to check out my books! Here's my official indie-author site: Seasons of a Story Publishing. I've got a couple of inspy Western romances out, and I'm currently working on an NA contemporary romance. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Sherida,

And I shall salute you back with some hot chocolate! ;) (Actually, I had that earlier, but we'll pretend I have some left!)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Casey,

Aww, thank you so much for the sweet words! Happy to see you living your dream, as well - pursuing your passion and taking the Midwest by storm. :D Congratulations on all your achievements!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Walt,

Thank you! :)

Portland has some neat aspects to it, no question - even if I'm too nervous to take on the traffic! ;) I'm more of a small(ish)-town girl, myself. But either way, the Pacific Northwest is a lovely place to be!

~Amber

Sandra Leesmith said...

Wow, I left for a bit and come back to so many more comments. I love it. smile What a fun day Amber.

Waving at you Walt. It is beautiful in Georgia also smile

Its beautiful here but that is because it is well watered. LOL

Fall leaves are starting to turn. We'll soon be like the birds and heading south.



Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks again Amber for the delightful day with you and Harvest House Publishers.

It has been an honor.

Winners of her gifts will be announced in the Weekend Edition. Be sure and check back with us.

Thank you Amber and thanks to Harvest House for their generosity with the books.

Mary Preston said...

Would you believe I have never eaten Mexican food?

THE AMISH BLACKSMITH would be wonderful thank you.

Edwina said...

Thanks for the great post, Amber! Love the thought of thinking of our readers as our friends. I'd love to read any of the books offered - thanks!

Jackie said...

Lots of good things to consider in this post. This week I asked my blog readers what they'd like to see more of on my blog. I'll take their suggestions and your comments and try to make my blog more appealing.

Amber, thanks so much for stopping by.

Carolyn Chambers Clark said...

Creative post! I'm going to give this some thought and see how I can implement Amber's ideas. Thanks so much.

I'd love to receive one of Amber's giveaways!

Patsy said...

I would love read the The Amish Blacksmith!

Amber Stokes said...

Mary P.,

How have you managed that?? Haha. Are you planning on trying Mexican food at some point? Or are you pretty happy with your current food preferences? :)

Thanks for stopping by!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Edwina,

You're very welcome! I'm so glad you like the premise of the post. :) I definitely recommend checking out Bernadette Jiwa's book and blog for more great marketing thoughts along these lines.

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jackie,

So glad you feel that way! I'm thrilled to offer some food for thought. :) And that's great that you're taking your readers' wants into consideration! With a balance of being true to yourself while also recognizing how you can better connect with your readers, you're building an awesome foundation for marketing!

Thank you for the comment. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Carolyn,

Aww, thank you! I've been ruminating on marketing philosophy quite a bit lately, so it was fun to gather some thoughts for this post. :) Hope that you can use this to launch some awesome ideas into practice!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Patsy,

An Amish fan - wonderful! I hope you'll consider joining us at AmishReader.com. :) I've barely started The Amish Groom (first in the series), but it's a great beginning, and Mindy and Susan are talented authors.

~Amber