InsecureWritersSupportGroup.jpgThis month’s posting for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group will go into an eBook, edited by host Alex J. Cavanaugh and the staff that supports this group. They have my permission to use this post for the eBook which will include contributions from many authors on writing, publicity and marketing, and publishing. I’ll be sharing publicity and marketing tips from Krista Rolfzen Soukup, owner of Blue Cottage Agency, and sharing examples from authors who are using social media very well to promote themselves and their books. The book will be free and available for all eReaders.

 Writing is (n0) Small Business!

DSC_0276Krista Rolfzen Soukup, publicist and owner of Blue Cottage Agency, began her career in the retail business with a degree in marketing. She worked for one of those large chain stores that has a corporate office and satellite stores in malls across the Midwest. She now works with authors who could take a few tips from the retail world. Think of you and your products like a store in a large mall, like Minnesota’s humongous Mall of America. Inside, you have a really fine product. Now, you need some window dressings to draw in the customers. If you have a really great product, but nothing in the window, no one will enter. You can also have a snazzy storefront, but without the quality product, you’ll never get repeat customers. To create a great product, you need to work on your skills, go to workshops, hire editors and graphic designers, and do what you need to be the best writer you can be. Then, set up your corporate office, i.e. your website, which needs to look like a stunning Christmas display. Claim your real estate on the World Wide Web with a website that is accessible and easy to find and navigate. Consider hiring a professional to create your website, someone you can actually talk to. This is a small business investment in yourself and your product. Corey Kretsinger at Midstate Design created Krista’s websites and mine, as well as many author websites. He is accessible, listens to you, and answers your questions as quickly as possible. Have a strong bio that clearly describes who you are and what you do at the beginning and gets into more personal information by the end. Use this bio consistently throughout your media sites, online and off. Have a shorter one for those places that limit your words, and a longer one on your website, corporate headquarters, that lets people know more about you and your product.

Think of your social media pages as satellite stores. The best thing about them is that you don’t have to pay any rent. An author page on Facebook is free, and it is a great way to interact with your customers. Sandra Brannan and Kate DiCamillo both do an excellent job of using their Facebook author pages to promote themselves as authors, their books, and draw people into their community of book lovers. Kate uses hers like a micro blog, and I’ve enjoyed posts where she writes about interacting with kids who love her books and places where she does book signings. Sandra posts information about her books, release dates, signings, and events celebrating her work. She also posts an occasional

Mr. Happy and Mary reading a couple books in the Liv Bergen mystery series by Sandra Brannan. (This photo has gotten a lot of mileage!)

Mr. Happy and Mary reading a couple books in the Liv Bergen mystery series by Sandra Brannan. (This photo has gotten a lot of mileage!)

picture from the gorgeous landscape where she lives in the hills of South Dakota. Last summer, she had a photo contest where she asked her fans to take a picture of themselves with one of her books and post it on twitter or Facebook with the hash tag of her main character and the book title. I participated and won an Amazon gift card. It was fun to set up the shot and a great way for Sandra to get promotion for her books.

If you are new to the enormous offerings of the world wide web, and even if you’ve been active on it, you can easily get overwhelmed. You don’t have to do everything at once, but, as Krista says, “Do something.” Start with a website. Claim your name or your brand on other social media sites, and have a presence. Interact with other writers and readers, and remember, even though what you’re doing is called self-promotion, it isn’t all about you. The most successful bloggers are ones who let you know what’s happening in their writing world AND promote other writers as well. Alex J. Cavanaugh is probably the best example out there. Krista says, “The most valuable tool for a writer is their community of other writers!” Hello, Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

Thank you, Alex, and the team for the IWSG for building such a great supportive network and putting together this book. It will help so many people.

DSC_0444Go. Create. Inspire!

Mary Aalgaard is a playwright, freelance writer and blogger in Central Minnesota where she teaches piano, writing, and drama classes. Her website is  Play off the Page. Go. Create. Inspire!