Monday, August 4, 2014

Marketing Mondays: Street Teams, Newsletters, and Goodreads, OH MY!

General marketing tip: Don't plan a weekly segment on your blog when you are going to be out of town for three weeks.

I missed last week, but this week we are back with Marketing Mondays! That glorious day when we take the overwhelming ideas of marketing and try to make them a little less stressful. In case you missed it, we've already talked about author brands, Facebook, social media, blogging, and online parties and giveaways. Today we are going to talk about using Street Teams, Newsletters, and Goodreads to spread the word about your books.

Street Teams
  1. street team is a term used in marketing to describe a group of people who 'hit the streets' promoting an event or a product. -Wikipedia
That's a pretty clear definition, right?

Image from Tinalicious
Not for me, anyway. But I've learned that every Street Team is different. I've heard people gripe about Street Teams that demand way too much of the members--and where the author might even chew them out for not doing what they ask. This is an obvious No. Don't be rude to your fans. Especially not to ones loyal enough to join a Street Team.

So what should you ask a Street Team to do? I treat it as a sort of VIP group for my books. I have a Facebook group for them and give them exclusive access to news when I have it (before it hits my website or newsletter) and give them stuff. For example: If my Street Team members have read AND reviewed Heirs of War, they get an ARC of Heirs of War, Crown of Flames. I'll probably also do contests for them to give them a chance to win other cool prizes like exclusive swag or signed copies of the books.

Mine is still new and small, so it is easy to do stuff like that. But what happens if it grows to like 50 people? I can't exactly give out copies of my books to every member. If it gets that big, I would probably do random drawings for things like ARCs instead of my review it and get the next book policy. That would be a downfall to having it grow. But an upside? It would be much easier to keep 50 people engaged rather than 10. And I think that is a big thing with Street Teams--don't let them collect dust. These are your most avid fans, so keep connecting with them. You don't have to interact daily, but I think weekly is good goal to have. If you don't have news or contests, ask them about the kinds of books they've read lately. And encourage them to spread the word about your books, but certainly don't require it. Requiring readers to post about your book really sucks the fun right out of it for them. And trust me--they will do it anyway. Most of all, trust them and show them how much you appreciate their enthusiasm by giving them a little bit of your time.

Newsletters are pretty self explanatory, I suppose. Have news, create nifty newsletter, and then send to subscribers. I use MailChimp to collect my subscribers and to create the newsletter itself. Their design template is easy to use and makes for pretties, and you send 12,000 emails to 2000 subscribers for free. If you get more members than that, you'll need to crack open your wallet. But since I only have about 10 subscribers right now, I'm not very worried about it for the near future. ;)

My biggest dilemma with newsletters was the question of how often I should send them out. As a self-published author first, I don't have tons of news to share. Do I have to come up with something to say every month? What if I never have any real news?!

Image from Erin the Librarian
Luckily, I listened to the wisdom of author Susan Kaye Quinn when she discussed this topic during #NALitChat on Twitter one night. She stressed that newsletters are a must for authors, but that you shouldn't worry about getting tons of subscribers at first or having something to say all the time. Use it to spread news when you have it and to connect with your readers during dry spells. And when I thought about it that way, I realized that newsletters aren't the big deal I was making them out to be. I don't have to send them out every week or even every month. In fact, I still haven't sent one out yet, but I've been waiting for one piece of really BIG news that I hope to be getting soon.

I let people know that they can sign up for my newsletter through my website, Facebook, and other social media. MailChimp is great about giving you those options, even with the free package. I don't stress it too much, though. Spamming about the same topics over and over again is still not a good plan. Gentle reminders. =)

Ah, that devil Goodreads. Not really. I know Goodreads gets a bad rep for the trolls that lurk there, but if you have a laid back attitude about it, then it really isn't that bad. Yes, there will be people to give your book a low rating even if it hasn't come out yet. But just ignore it. As with all things social media: Don't feed the trolls. You're Goodreads experience is bound to be much better if you don't.

With Goodreads, you can be as active or quiet as you want and still have a bit of a presence there, which is nice. I've dabbled in the book clubs there and used some of them to try to get reviews for Heirs of War. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I've found that it is pretty hit or miss. I would definitely recommend trying them out. Find one that fits your book and start participating in the forums or the joint reading for that month. As with anything, the more active you are, the better your reception is going to be when the time comes to get reviewers for your books. I attribute my Goodreads apathy to the reason I haven't had much success in getting reviews. I pick and choose which social sites to be involved in, and Goodreads never really pulled me in. But...I also don't have time to read the same books that the book clubs feature since I sign up to review or critique way too many books as it is. If you have time, this is a great way to get engaged with readers and to engage yourself AS a reader, which is always a good thing for an author.

Goodreads also has other features, like Ask the Author, widgets for your website and social media sites, linking your blog to your Goodreads page, and giveaways. Connecting your website and social media sites to Goodreads is always a good idea. Make it convenient for readers to find you on the sites they prefer. Same with your blog--it can only help you get more visibility, so totally worth it. Ask the Author is a great new feature that you can turn on or off and allows readers to ask you questions. Goodreads even prompts you with questions of its own first.

Giveaways are great, but you can only giveaway signed physical copies of your book through your giveaway. It is an awesome way to get you more visibility on Goodreads and get more people to add your book to their lists, which also helps to get you more visibility. That being said, don't break the bank doing this. I only do giveaways for US residents since I don't want to pay more to ship internationally right now. Not until I start making enough money to really cover it. So choose the details of your giveaways wisely, and then make sure you promote them yourself as well.

Like other social media sites, you can like author pages ("fan" them) and add friends, which keeps you connected. If you want to learn more about Goodreads as an author, check out their tutorial, which covers all the bases and will definitely help to get you started. Oh, and if you are self-published, this all applies to you as well. If your book isn't in their database, you can still add it. But! You can't delete it. So make sure you are ready before you dive in.

We only have two more weeks of Marketing Mondays left. Next week we will cover websites and Amazon, and we'll wrap things up with blog tours and advertisements. Think there is something I've missed? Let me know! Mondays always come back to haunt us, which means Marketing Mondays can always return with more to discuss and different ways to drive your book sales!

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