Monday, May 05, 2008
In my last newsletter, I promised my subscribers something a little more inspirational because I was so tired from the last book fair I participated in that I just gave them some resources -- always an easy thing for me to do.
Ot occurs to me today that I think being frugal with one's promotion budget is very inspirational. That's because I didn't know that I could promote inexpensively when I started promoting This Is the Place. I knew I had to but I thought my publisher would do it for me (big mistake!) and that if they didn't, I'd need someone with PR experience in the publishing industry. When I learned both of these assumptions were not on target, I was inspired to write my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. That inspiration worked very well for me and for -- I like to think -- hundreds, if not thousands of authors.
So, I'm going to talk a little about being Frugal even if you think it's about as inpsiration a big mud puddle. Being Frugal means -- for me -- not spending money when you get the same results (or better) by doing it yourself. Example: Publicity is free. Advertising costs. For most readers, publicity is more credible than paid advertising so why not try to get publicity and eschew advertising?
Frugal means not to pay for something you shouldn't pay for. Reviews as an example. You can not only get your book reviewed without paying for it but, traditionally, you shouldn't pay for it. Agents for instance. You pay a percentage of what you earn for a book. If you find an agent who wants an upfront reading fee, you may be dealing with a shyster.
There are some things you need to pay for. Perhaps because your time is limited. Perhaps because in this life or the next you will never be good at a certain skill yourself (though I urge you not to sell yourself short -- you may be surprised at what you can do! I, for instance, am building my own website with a lot of help from my friends (Joyce Faulkner , a lot of courage and two near-nervous breakdowns!).
And here are a couple of other ways that I think you get your money's worth by spending a little, or even a lot. The reason you do is you get more than just the basic service when you pay for them. In other words, these people do a professional job for you but include value-added benefits.
Videos: You've heard me talk about Rey Ybarra. He does all my videos. But he does so much more techy stuff with them that I can't do or don't know to do. Find him at http://www.veoh.com/channels/BSATV or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Radio Interviews: Normally I'd say paying for these is a no-no. You can get radio interviews without paying a cent. But what if your interview is from Lisa Osborne at www.lisa.fm? Not only does she have a huge audience but she adds value with print articles that she places in the media like the Ventura Star and DivineCaroline.com that will increase your footprint on Google and be seen in areas you might not otherwise have access to. To hear Lisa's interview of me in 10 minutes or less, go http://www.lisa.fm/podcasts/index.html
Or Cynthia Brian? She ties her work to literacy charities for starters and besides that, her radio program is syndicated so you're getting much more than what her program first appears to be. Contact her at Cynthia@bethestaryouare.org.
Now, mind you, I'm not guaranteeing you'll sell lots of books with any one marketing effort, however well it gunshots itself around the web. You've read this letter long enough (or my how-to books for writers), you'll know that's not the way it works. It works cumulatively. Over time. With frequency. And persistence. And when it's carefully targeted.
But, if a service is within your budget, frugal doesn’t mean to never spend any money. Here's where I think money -- even big money is well-spent.
1.On a great book cover if you're self-publishing.
2.On a great editor, regardless of how you publish. See The Frugal Editor.
3. On a service that you've thoroughly researched that does a lot for you and that you can't do for yourself well, either because of time or money.
4. On things that put good Zen into the universe. Buying the books of other authors occasionally, as an example. How can we in good faith ask others to buy our book if we don't ever buy anyone else's.
So, recession or not, "frugal" is not "skimp." Frugal is doing your homework. Knowing your own strengths and goals. And working around them. Frugal is sometimes pinching a penny, sometimes bartering and sometimes, it's spending what you need to achieve the results you're after. "Frugal" is never, never the same as "gullible" though. (-:
Here's the final salvo. Join a Yahoogroup or Googlegroup that attracts professionals -- meaning authors and publishers who have been around the block a few times. Ask questions before, rather than after. Then take the answers you get and evaluate them against your own goals and needs and pocketbook.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.