PROMOTION IN QUARANTINE

Cost-Effective Promotion to Advance Your Brand!

The year 2020 came, threatened to conquer the world, and departed. No one I know was left unaffected personally, or professionally. Fortunately, there are signs that conditions in American politics and economics are improving. Sadly, global health is not. For the time being, quarantine from the pandemic remains a necessity, at least for those of us who are older. And even if we venture forth, safety precautions must be observed that preclude much personal interaction. The following blog addresses promotion for authors, but the principles are applicable for marketing many products and services.

REFINING OUR BRANDS
As we move forward in this year, re-examining our status and brand as creative professionals is vital. One of my challenges as an author centers on labelling the genre in which I work. My informative books embrace elements of classic literary fiction. And although the genre of “mysteries” obviously defines the core of my Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries, the issue of selecting an appropriate sub-genre is difficult. Some, such as “police procedural” can be eliminated immediately, as my protagonist is a semi-retired journalist. Since my books do not feature profanity, sex, or overt violence, the term “cozy” is generally applied to my books.

Unfortunately, that sub-genre often connotes a simplistic tale with little substance. So, what sub-genre incorporates the protagonist’s breadth of visions, the emphasis on history, detailed multi-culturalism, depth in character relationships, and passages of stylistic prose? Suspense? Paranormal? Historical fiction? Romance? At this point, the general category of “mysteries” remains most appropriate. It’s nice to observe that in Hawai`i, my work is placed in the Hawaiiana section of libraries and bookstores.

MOVING YOUR BRAND FORWARD
Once you have examined and possibly refined the elements of your brand, it is time to determine how you can best promote it in the current and as well as prospective marketplace. You might begin by asking how you normally present yourself in marketing and promotional projects. Do you strongly feature yourself? Perhaps, if you are an author, your protagonist the key element. Like me, the environment in which your stories take place may be dominant.


EXAMINING OUR OPPORTUNITIES
When cost is not an issue, there are myriad advertising options. I’m lucky that much of the promotion of my books is taken care of by my publisher. However, in this tight literary market, I am expected to undertake many aspects of promotion. With three titles in the NS series, I sometimes team with Geoff Habiger of Artemesia Publishing in marketing projects.

As sales and promotion via brick-and-mortar stores and events have been reduced by the pandemic, opportunities afforded by the Internet are increasingly impactful! As I observed in my last blog in the summer of 2020, the success of this type of marketing can be amplified by entrepreneurs of every type. The primary challenge is selecting among the prospects that are appropriate for maximizing outreach to our target audience. The following are some of the cost-effective avenues from which I choose.

~ Book Reviews. Whenever a new book is published, I [or my publisher] submit it for reviews. Traditionally, some of the venues for doing so have more stature than others…either because of the longevity of their existence, their current popularity. For nearly 90 years, Kirkus Reviews have been the hallmark of respected review of published material. While the cost of their services may be considerable, they have remained the most respected in their field. In addition to providing reviews, they offer opportunities to promote publications highlighting text from their reviews of the material. The above ad will soon appear in the Kirkus eMail Newsletter which is directed at a substantial list of subscription recipients.

~ Professional Associations. There are many local, regional, national, and international groups that authors and other creative professionals may choose to join. Some are more appropriate due to the genre in which one works. Which are best for you? Those that are prestigious or least expensive? What opportunities do they provide to their members: educational programming to expand their members’ knowledge and proficiency; invitations for the public to examine member websites and social media pages; the ability for members to directly post links to their websites, social media, podcasts, or other On-line presence? Another important consideration is whether an organization participates in events to meet current and potential clientele?

~ Contests and Awards. National, regional, and state organizations abound with the chance to enter author and artist creations for evaluation and award. Unfortunately, I do not write short stories, which are often the basis for writers’ contests. I have learned that there are opportunities for submitting initial pages of my books. Not long ago, my publisher and I entered two of my books in a book-to-film contest. This meant that we were able to split the cost which benefitted both of us. While we did not win, we did receive useful evaluations. What I learned from the experience is that my work is unlikely to appear on the big screen, it may be appropriate for small screen stand-alone or serial presentation.

~ Websites for Authors and Readers. There are many websites in which both readers and authors can participate…free but often requiring becoming a member. In addition to providing space for book covers, descriptions, reviews, and links to facilitate sales, some websites [both public and via membership] invite authors to submit articles and blogs for the benefit of both authors and readers. I periodically offer commentary to Hometown Reads [Coloration for Authors and Public Speaking to Enhance Branding] and Authors Den [where you’ll find articles and poetry in addition to information on my books]. Such sites sometimes offer opportunities to sell books at a discounted rate during special promotions. They may also provide low-cost advertising events.

~ Book and Art Shows and Fairs. This may be the most expensive form of promotion in today’s suggestions…but far less than long-term advertising. A quick check on the Internet will yield lists of book fairs across the country…and the globe. Local and regional websites of media outlets offer event calendars for book and art shows. Depending on where you live, such events may have been suspended for the time being, but virtual events may still be open for your participation.

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, consultant, and motivational speaker

For further discussion of branding and marketing see:
Rainbows of Color, May 2015
Winning Logos & Slogans, October 2015
Harmonizing Branding Elements, August 2016
Book Promotion and Evolving Art, January 2017

To learn more about the award-winning Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries, including Murders of Conveyance [Winner, Fiction Adventure-Drama, 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards] and other projects, please drop in at my author’s website JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com. You’ll even find Island Recipes that might inspire your culinary creativity.

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit: Imaginings Wordpower and Design Consultation.

Follow Me:
Amazon, Arizona Authors Association, Apple Books
Audible, Authors Den, Barnes and Noble, Blogarama, Book Bub
Cozy Mysteries-Unlimited, Facebook, Good Reads, Hometown Reads

Book sellers may contact book distributors such as:
Baker & Taylor, Follett, IPG, Ingram, Mackin, Midpoint, TitleWave

 

AUTHOR TIME MANAGEMENT

Jeanne Burrows-Johnson

Successful Time Management with a Simple Matrix!

As I wrote the blog that will first appear on Hometown Reads beginning on November 5, 2019, I realized the irregularity with which I’ve been writing for this site. Setting aside the publication of Murders of Conveyance, the third Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery and two bouts of flu, scheduling my time has been a major challenge to my productivity this year…Thus,  time management has been on my mind.

SUCCESSFUL SCHEDULING
Every professional finds challenges in maximizing productivity. Often the problem exists in both personal and professional living. That has certainly been true for me. The Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery series is growing, and I maintain two websites, this blog, and two Facebook pages. These ongoing projects are my excuse for untimely scheduling this year. It has seemed that there are several deadlines I have faced each day and while I’m putting out those fires, I’ve failed to follow a simple time management matrix.

STEPHEN R. COVEY & DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

One of the most important philosophers in my life has been author and business consultant Stephen Covey [1932-2012].  He was a dynamic man who based his secular advice on his personal faith in the precepts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His doctoral dissertation was based on analysis of self-help books which he would add to later for the benefit of people of many professions and philosophies. For many of his readers, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was his most impactful book, which helps to move one from dependence to independence to interdependence. I found the most memorable advice he presented was the Eisenhower Matrix, a decision-making tool for prioritizing one’s activity, which he attributed to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. [Note, the President credited the concept to an unnamed college president.]

EXAMINING YOUR INBOX
Consider the following classifications for the items in your existing calendar and inbox:

 A. URGENT, IMPORTANT                   B. NOT URGENT, IMPORTANT
 C. URGENT, NOT IMPORTANT         D. NOT URGENT OR IMPORTANT

Obviously that which is Urgent and Important must be addressed first. This could be the biographical paragraph your publisher has requested for your latest book or a cover letter that you will package with gift copies. Conversely, items that are not Urgent or Important [Quadrant D] should be examined for worthiness; do they even merit being on your schedule? If they are indeed things worth keeping, can you handle them in a more effective way?

For instance, maintaining good relations with colleagues and service suppliers can be vital to your success. But rather than having frequent personal meetings, consider scheduling occasional festive events that include several of these people…or if they are not in close proximity to you, consider meaningful gifting at unexpected times. For instance, rather than sending cards and gifts for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, consider Thanksgiving, New Year, or even an unexpected surprise at Asian Lunar New Year. As to gifts, consider whether there is something distinctive about your work that would be appropriate. In both fiction and non-fiction, the focus of most of my writing is Hawai`i, so an obvious gift for me to share is Hawaiian macadamia nut candy.

Once you’ve dealt with Quadrant A’s Urgent and Important items and the elimination or redirection of the Non-urgent and Unimportant things lingering in Quadrant D, look at the Non-urgent but Important listings in Quadrant C. You have declared them to be urgent; but, they are not important in the abstract. This area of concern includes spur-of-the-moment issues that arise, as well as administrative paperwork and organization.

For me, activity in this area usually focuses on filing—especially the growing number of my biographies. These are written in both first and third person, ranging from two sentences to a couple of pages. Generic ones have a conversational tone and discuss my life in general. Others focus on my fiction [especially the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries]. Academic ones present non-fiction projects like Conversations with Auntie Carol, A Series of Hawaiian Oral History Interviews. Organized by word count, I can quickly determine bios that meet the requirements of an unexpected request. Usually, I then copy/paste contenders into a new document and create a new bio or two that can be folded into the master file.

We have now arrived at the all-important consideration of items within our Quadrant B. Why take it out of order? As Stephen Covey would say, this area of concern should be the essential focus of our attention in setting our daily, weekly, monthly, and overall life schedule. If we constantly work on the non-Urgent but Important areas of our professional and personal life, we will find there are less deadlines to be faced…and eventually experience balanced living. Of course, that does not mean that unexpected emergencies will not occur to encroach on our time periodically.

In preparing for expansion of my career as an author, I’ve faced many issues this year. They have included: redesigning my two websites, learning to insert art and audio files into this blog, creating a professional Facebook page, and completing both Yen for Murder (the fourth NS mystery) and writing an annotated introduction to the Auntie C project [including 74 endnotes]. The overlapping of these projects has been daunting at times, BUT the time spent on future editing should be manageable!

ALIGNING YOUR CALENDAR
Let’s complete our time management exercise by re-examining the contents of our daily, weekly, and monthly calendars from this new perspective. You may have pre-set appointments like children’s schooling and other activities, your own working hours, wellness appointments, etc. Even the scheduling of these could be altered or made flexible.

Are there other parents with whom you might share transportation? Would your employer consider changes in your schedule like a reduction or shift to earlier/later hours, or even remote work from your home? Can you shift medical, dental and therapy/exercise appointments to days of the week or month to harmoniously fill out set blocks of time? Within those preset appointments, you could double your productivity as I do in performing a bit of library research prior to meetings of my authors salon.

How might you delegate some of the work you now undertake personally? Should you hire an accountant for bookkeeping and tax filing? If this is not an option, consider software that can optimize the hours you do invest in this activity. I am fortunate that many obligations I once undertook have passed to my husband who is retired. He now handles shopping, bill paying, and even the preparation of most dinners, allowing me to pursue completion of inspiration in my work.

Like my protagonist, Natalie Seachrist, I am an avid devotee of list making. When I look at items falling within Quadrant B, I have found that several lend themselves to specific times of the year, when other required and/or predictable activity lessens. That usually means there are gaps in my schedule during the winter holiday season and summer, when many people I work with professionally are on vacation. These are the times that I clean out hardcopy folders, sort through old research, rearrange and re-label files. Well, this summer has passed without any of those tasks being addressed…so, I guess you know how my holidays will be spent!

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, consultant, and motivational speaker

To learn more about the award-winning Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries, including Murders of Conveyance [Winner, Fiction Adventure-Drama, 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards] and other projects, please drop in at my author’s website JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com. You’ll even find Island Recipes that might inspire your culinary creativity.

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit: Imaginings Wordpower and Design Consultation.

Follow Me:
Amazon, Arizona Authors Association, Apple Books
Audible, Authors Den, Barnes and Noble, Blogarama, Book Bub
Cozy Mysteries-Unlimited, Facebook, Good Reads, Hometown Reads

Book sellers may contact book distributors such as:
Baker & Taylor, Follett, IPG, Ingram, Mackin, Midpoint, TitleWave