BarbaraKay1 is Connie’s winner! Check your email, Barbara.
Edith here, happy to welcome author Connie Hambley to the blog today. She’s my vice president at Sisters in Crime New England, and a talented and hard-working author. She has a trilogy of books out that all involve horses, and she’s going to talk to us about affinity marketing.
In the trilogy, world-class equestrian Jessica Wyeth becomes a target of an international crime syndicate after uncovering how family secrets link her to the power behind a Boston-based terrorist cell. In this gripping, multi-generational tale, the bonds of blood and love are tested through times of war and peace.
She’s giving away an ebook of The Wake, book three in the set, to one commenter here today, too! (For our regular readers, fair warning that these books aren’t cozy – but they have lots and lots of fans!) Take it away, Connie.
Engagement is the Key to Promotion
Selling head-to-head against better-known titles and authors is challenging for an emerging voice. Buy ads? Hire a publicist? Those are valid ideas and worth pursuing, but here’s the rub: It’s easy to spend money, but it’s very hard to make it.
Regardless of where you are in the publishing hierarchy – from independently published to small house to large publisher – the heft of promotion will fall on the author’s shoulders. So, what’s a writer to do?
First, let’s shatter the idea that we are out there to sell books. When the bulk of sales happen in the first weeks of publication, what does that say about our efforts for the following weeks or months?
The precursor to selling books is to engage your reader.
Two practices for successful engagements are something the Wickeds do very well. With an investment of time, the returns compound themselves. What are these magic practices? Affinity Marketing and Community Connection.
Affinity Marketing is a familiar and intuitive strategy used when authors want readers to feel an immediate connection to their work. We want our readers to identify some part of themselves with our stories, characters, or settings. Doing so elevates our book out of the din. We see this practice at work with books and blogs on adorable furry critters by Liz Mugavero’s Pawsitively Organic series, yard sales in Sherry Harris’ work and a love for Ireland in Sheila Connolly’s County Cork Mysteries.
Authors also forge relationships with readers based on aspects of their own lives that influence what they put down on paper. Sparking an interest in the person behind the stories makes readers interested in the whole journey of the author, not just in one title. Julie Hennrikus mines her experience in the theater for her new Theater Cop mysteries. I’ve woven a family experience with arson and a love of horses into the main character of my Jessica Trilogy books. Curious to know more? Exactly!
For affinity marketing to work, keep these things in mind:
Find your niche. Marketing head-to-head against best-sellers will exhaust and drown you. Find another love of your target audience and market through the “back door.” Genres can be used, too. History buffs will love immersing themselves in Edith Maxwell’s Quaker Midwife series and learning about life in a Massachusetts mill town in the 1880’s.
Books can be sold anywhere. I’m the first one to say that supporting your local bookstore should be one of your missions in life, but after you’ve secured a spot on their shelves, then what? Think of where people might be ripe for an impulse buy. Find a pet store that will place your book in the isle beside dog treats or get the email list for the local dog park to let the members know about your book (with proceeds donated!) or to hold an event there. During the summer, you’ll find me ringside at Grand Prix events.
All of this snoodling in shared interests brings us to the heart of engagement, and that is forging a sense of connection and community with our readers.
Social media platforms of Facebook, blog, website, Twitter, and more are essential tools. Barbara Ross’ post on promotion provides some best practices for our digital widgets. Use what feels right for you. The key is not to be passive. Responding to comments? Great, but outreach is the better connector.
The social behind the media are people. Remember them? Our flesh and blood counterparts are more than the bodies we slay on the page. Supporting professional organizations leverages visibility by adding a spoke to our promotional wheel.
Active participation through volunteering broadens your community. I’m a big believer in forging connections through paying it forward. I learned about hippotherapy (horse-centric physical and behavioral therapy) when volunteering at a therapeutic riding stable and knew I had to weave it into my most recent book, The Wake. I reached out to the CEO of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International to tell her of my inspiration and my book. She wrote a wonderful endorsement and featured my book in their global magazine.
The Wickeds and I belong to Sisters in Crime, a national organization of mystery and thriller writers. Members enjoy networking and access to reader-centric events like library conventions and writer conferences. Being a dues-paying member is great, but passive membership has limits. By becoming a trusted member of a community, authors promote a sense of connection, familiarity, and comfort.
And with that connection comes engaged fans, and engaged fans buy books.
Readers: What leads you to buy a book? Writers: how do you engage potential readers? Have you used affinity marketing? Remember, Connie is giving away an ebook of The Wake, book three in the set, to one commenter.
Connie Johnson Hambley grew up on a New York dairy farm and all would have been idyllic if an arsonist hadn’t torched her family’s barn. Bucolic bubble burst, she began to steadfastly plot her revenge against all bad guys, real and imagined. After receiving her law degree, she moved to Boston and wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Nature and other wonky outlets as she honed her skills of reaching readers at a deep emotional level with great research, laser-sharp focus on detail, and persuasive writing. Her high-concept thrillers feature remarkable women entangled in modern-day crimes and walk the reader on the razor’s edge between good and evil. Connie delights in creating worlds where the good guys win–eventually. Connie is a two-time winner of Best English Fiction literary award at the EQUUS International Film Festival in New York City. She is Vice President and Featured Speaker of the New England chapter of Sisters in Crime.
Find her at: www.conniejohnsonhambley.com, FACEBOOK: http://bit.ly/facebookcjhamble, BLOG: http://bit.ly/outofthefog, TWITTER: https://twitter.com/ConnieHamble, PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/cjhambley/, and LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/conniejhambley