Create Buzz by Connecting with Readers
- One of the main services you offer to authors is Kids Buzz. Can you explain what it is?
KidsBuzz is a program that lets children’s and teen authors’ voices shine in an affordable, and effective, way. KidsBuzz puts you directly in touch with readers, reading groups, booksellers, librarians and teachers allowing you to offer trailers and videos, excerpts, phone chats or visits, curriculum tie-ins, material for newsletters, info about contests and freebies, mentions of new reviews and awards — anything and everything you want to buzz directly to the people who buy, read and sell your books. This is YOU saying what you want to share with your readers.
Readers want to hear from authors and illustrators — after all, you know your books better than anyone else, you have interesting behind-the-scenes stories that makes readers what to read — and buy. And once they’re interested, people talk — and others listen. Look at the power of Facebook: often we’re more influenced by what our friends have to say that the most seasoned critic (though we’ll take those positive reviews when we get them for sure!). We’ve run notes from bestselling authors as well as up-and-coming authors and illustrators. Many authors and publishers have had such good success, they’ve booked spots for their other titles (more than 60% of our KidsBuzzers have come back for more!).
- Kids Buzz is a newsletter for librarians and readers (parents, grandparents, teachers, etc.), booksellers, reviewers, bloggers, publishing industry folk and more. Do you suggest that author maintain their own mailing list and send out newsletters?
ABSOLUTELY! There are many readers who become author groupies and what to know anything and everything about their favorite authors and illustrators, what’s coming up, when new books will be published — and these fans are your ambassadors and e-newsletters are terrific ways to reach them. They will spread the buzz to their friends, family, colleagues and help that groundswell of interest every authors wants. Many authors have e-newsletters (that are run via sites like Constant Content and Mail Chimp, for example) which makes it easy to handle subscriptions) and sharing info with your readers when YOU feel it’s worthwhile, in YOUR voice, is a win-win.
But how can you help your Friend? Make it personal:
- In your enewsletter, share a Top 10 list of Recent Favorite Reads (use book covers, use author photos, share author videos); make this a regular feature (can be favorite picture books, favorite books on summer, favorite books from around-the-world, etc.). Put the spotlight on someone else and it’ll come to shine on you.
- Offer giveaways of your friends’ books (I’m sure each would be happy to give you a copy for the promotion) via your enewsletter, social networking (perhaps each of the giveaways comes with a note from you as to WHY you love this book; put your personal stamp on it)
- Create a 30 second video wrap-up for these favorite books? Impassioned video statements? Reach out to those authors/publishers by sharing the link — they’re likely to share it with their fans via their blogs, social media networks, etc.
- Be a cheerleader (yes, you can summon up your inner rah-rah!): do a regular feature on one of your favorite authors, something full of WHY this author should be read.
Whatever you do, make it sound like YOU. As the kids say, be real. It works.
- On Kids Buzz, you offer:
- Contests for readers
- Free early reading copies
- Free signed books
- News about tours
- New reviews
- Essays & Excerpts
- Book Group Speaking availability (in person or on the phone)
I”m sure that all of these are important and useful for various books. But what is most popular and do you have a sense of why it’s popular?
KidsBuzz authors report that the contest for free signed copies or early reading copies are hugely successful — I get emails from authors within minutes of KidsBuzz running saying that their in-boxes are full. But what’s key to remember about this is not just getting the emails, but responding to them. Not everyone who writes in is going to win a free book, but it provides you as chance to interact with your reader, tell them something else, ask them to join your enewsletter/Facebook page, etc. And readers love getting mail from authors! Imagine how excited you’d be if your favorite — or even just a new author — wrote directly to you?! These readers tell their friends (“I’m so excited, you’ll never believe that I got a personal email from author XX who wrote a book that’s just right for my 10 year old son — and I bet yours will like it too…” type stuff) and this is how sales are made. In the publishing industry, when booksellers recommend a book to customers, with a personal endorsement or just a great story-behind-the-story, we call it “handselling;” that’s what freebie offers or any type of special to the reader does… It helps to handsell the book to that customers — and subsequently, their friends.
One more thing though: all the special promos and offers are nothing compared to a strong note from the author. Readers still want the real story, they want to feel like they’ve shared a minute with their favorite author, and they want to tell that story to their friends. Provide your Friend with a way to connect with readers and you’ve done a Random Act of Publicity.
Win a One-Hour Consultation with Deborah Sloan
Deborah Sloan and Company has offered a free one-hour marketing consultation to one lucky person. This one-day opportunity ends at midnight on September 8.
Here are the rules:
- Winners will be selected on a random basis.
- You must put your friend’s name, book title and website (if they have one) in the comments below. Deadline: Midnight September 8, 2011.
- By entering your friend in this giveaway, you agree that you have the friend’s permission to do so.
- Phone consultations will be done at a mutually agreed upon time.
Random Acts of Publicity Week was created by Darcy Pattison (www.darcypattison.com), writing teacher and author of Prairie Storms (www.facebook.com/PrairieStorms) , as a way to help create an atmosphere of fun and collaboration in marketing books. It occurs each September, the four days following Labor Day.