Justine Bylo [00:00:17] I'm Justine Bylo, the Author Acquisitions Manager of IngramSpark. Hi Robin!
Robin Cutler [00:00:22] Hey Justine, are you over your cold yet?
Justine Bylo [00:00:25] Yes I am, I became one with my couch and now I have come out a new person. Thank you.
Robin Cutler [00:00:30] Well I'm glad you're back at work full time, that's for sure.
Justine Bylo [00:00:34] Thank you.
Robin Cutler [00:00:34] I'm glad you're feeling better. Today I'm really happy, we're going to be talking about indie book marketing timeline and we're joined here today by Rick Lite, of Stress Free Book Marketing, a seasoned book marketing professional with over 13 years of experience in the industry. Rick's expertise comes from tirelessly working on new and innovative ways to market his own books and through his own company that's called Stress Free Kids. Rick works closely with authors to create custom robust book marketing programs and he's quick to share his knowledge and insider tips for a successful marketing campaign that will lead to increased exposure, awareness, and most importantly, sales. Welcome, Rick!
Rick Lite [00:01:21] Well, thanks for having me. Hello Justine, hello Robin.
Justine Bylo [00:01:24] Hi Rick!
Robin Cutler [00:01:26] Is there such a thing, I can't believe your company is called Stress Free Books, is there really such a thing as a stress-free book?
Robin Cutler [00:01:44] Well that's what we all want so we're glad you're here to tell us how to do that. I know that you have a timeline that starts before authors even start writing their book and you're going to walk us through this timeline so do you want to kick us off here?
Rick Lite [00:02:02] Absolutely. First, I'd like to say that when an author creates a piece of work, it's their baby, it's important to them. Looking at the marketing side needs to be looked at as a long-term process. Authors need to be involved in the marketing just as they are with the writing. There's a cost involved in marketing. If you want to market your book in this day and age effectively, you need to set the proper expectations, you need to have a plan, you need to have an idea of what's involved, and then you need to realize that it takes a while to really achieve those goals. I wanted to start off by setting the expectations correctly.
Justine Bylo [00:02:53] I like this whole idea of realistic expectations. Can you talk a little bit more about that, and how authors should go into this whole process with a certain mindset?
Rick Lite [00:03:04] Absolutely. When you're looking at creating a book, you should figure and really be honest with yourself what your goals are. If your goals are to create a masterpiece that sells thousands of units, that's one thing. If you're looking to add credibility to your professional practice, in some instance, that's another. But realistic expectations will allow for people to be able to move along that timeline, move along the process of marketing a book, having a good time. It's supposed to be a celebration of something you've created. It's not supposed to be stressful, it's not supposed to be frustrating. It's proper to set expectations and goals that are realistic. It's very challenging and not impossible, but challenging, to create a best-seller as a first book indie author. It takes a lot of time, practice, and building up a tremendous following to do that. Realistic goals will be met with achievable goals and that's important throughout the whole process.
Justine Bylo [00:04:27] As a writer myself, I know that the writing process can sometimes be really stressful. Writer's block is a real thing. I can attest to it. But as you are writing as an author, how do you start thinking about marketing even when the book's not done, and how do you not make it such a daunting thing in your mind when you're already worried about finishing your book?
Rick Lite [00:04:58] That's a great question and I think my solution to that for an author would be take the break from writing and focus in on the marketing. Don't look at it as writer's block, look at it as an opportunity to market your book. To do something different. To start to build a following of people that you can bring along on the journey. People are interested in what you're doing and if you continue to develop a following they can peek into the work that you're doing, your writing process, your cover design. It's a nice break. It's a nice break to get away from writing all the time and start to look at a bigger picture and in most cases, that break, when you're looking at something completely different, will probably eliminate the writer's block. Because you're not focusing in on the frustration associated with not being able to get the words out correctly. You're focusing on something else but you're being productive at the same time.
Rick Lite [00:06:24] Branding is a way to put a visual or other message in front of your followers. When you brand something, it's easy for people to identify who you are, what you're doing, no matter where they are—whether it's social media, whether it's on a website or a blog. They have an icon or a logo or an image that portrays your presence. Branding is something that big companies do, and indie authors don't need to spend tons of money doing research on logos and brands, but pick something that represents who you are. Pick something that is easily identifiable. In fact, one of the best logos that I've seen, and it's on this particular author's social media accounts, on their website, et cetera. Somebody that you met in a conference, Robin. Who, his name is Odin Gray. His logo is simply his dog on his shoulder. It's a picture of the dog. People love dogs, people love that image. No matter where you are, you can quickly identify this author. That's his brand and that's something that's very simple to create.
Robin Cutler [00:07:57] Well I remember him, that's really cool that you reminded me. Really, really great advice. We talk a lot about the different social media and how you need to maintain a presence there. A lot of our listeners will say I just want to focus in on my book, I don't really want to really have to think about a social media presence. What do you have to say to them about that?
Rick Lite [00:08:32] Well there's a lot of indie authors that did not grow up with social media, that are not comfortable with what social media represents, and then there's some people that feel it's very time-consuming. It's something that they don't see an immediate return on. Looking at marketing is a holistic approach. You should be involved, you should try everything. Any type of avenue that could bring you in front of your followers, your target audience, is a good thing. So social media itself, if you're opposed to it, well then you're opposed to it. There's plenty of other ways that you can market your book. But it's pretty simple to get going and you don't need to be spending hours and hours on that. In fact, I suggest with all indie authors, or all authors in general, that you pick one or two social media platforms and you post consistently on these platforms. And that can be one a day, that could be several times a week. So setting it up and posting is not that difficult. You have to have a strategy, you have to have some goals associated with that, but I think that it's a great way to market your book, but it's not the only way to market your book.
Justine Bylo [00:09:55] When you are actually getting to the end of writing your book and you see the light at the end of that tunnel, what should authors be thinking about in terms of a marketing strategy? What steps should they be taking, getting their baby out into the world?
Rick Lite [00:10:18] Well hopefully by the time they're done they are well on their way to communicating with, to increasing their followers, but always looking at their target audience as something to expand. But the end of the writing process brings along a time to focus in on launching your book, to take those first 30 days and setting yourself up, previous to that, to have a great book launch. I know that sometimes the pre-release time is important but I believe that that time right before and certainly 30, 45 days after the book is published and released are super important. At that time, if you're doing it correctly, you're refining the strategies that you've already begun to implement. Tightening up your social media. If you're blogging consistently then you're looking at guest hosts or guest-hosting type opportunities. You're looking at other places that you can get your books into, other resellers. You're looking at approaching shops or bookstores, whether they're indie or whether they're chain, there's opportunities for you to take the skills, take the strategies that you have implemented, and start to walk them through. And literally there are dozens upon dozens of strategies that should and could be released and continually nurtured and advanced. For instance, getting local media coverage. You don't need a publicist to do that. You can, while you are writing and needed a break from writer's block, you can contact your local newspaper or radio station. They are always looking for human interest stories or local authors that are creating content
Rick Lite [00:12:31] and that could give you a huge bump in sales when you release your book if you're taking the time to think out of the box. Don't get caught in the traditional thinking of just social media and "I have to give my book away." There's so many other areas to go after that you'd be surprised how much traction you can get with the traditional strategies that have been around for a very long time.
Robin Cutler [00:13:04] I love the idea of the stress-free at the launch, and the build-up. People, especially new authors that are just now publishing, what they don't realize is that a book has a long life. It has the entire life of the author plus after the author has even passed. You need to think about your book like that. So many times, people think it has to come out of the gate, right off the bat. It is a building thing. We have people that will check the Amazon ranking every hour, and that's just madness to me.
Justine Bylo [00:13:49] So many people do. I hear that all the time.
Rick Lite [00:13:52] Look, if you publish one book then it's difficult to really get that traction right away. But if you're an author that plans on coming up with other books or is writing a series, the first one is always the hardest. But if you build a foundation and you're able to, if that foundation is solid in terms of strategies and opportunities to get your book out there, the second book you release should be much easier to get out there because you have that traction. The third one should be even easier. The more books you release, the more fans you have, the more followers you have, the more knowledge you have, and the more comfortable you are with the marketing part. It's a natural progression and it's something that, again, starts with setting realistic expectations but also knowing that it does get easier.
Robin Cutler [00:14:56] I've heard actually James Patterson say that it was his 12th book before he actually got traction. That's very typical, three, your third book, just as you said Rick, is what we see. You learn so much as you said, going through the process of book one. Book one, it's like going to kindergarten almost, kind of learning a whole new industry, and settling yourself in as a published author. It does get easier as you go.
Justine Bylo [00:15:34] When I interviewed Sherrilyn Kenyon for the Author Spotlights, she got her worst rejection after her sixth book. You might have those training wheels on for a little bit by the time you really figure it out. These are huge authors who are incredibly successful at what they do. People shouldn't lose hope, they shouldn't get stressed out about it.
Rick Lite [00:15:59] Definitely not.
Robin Cutler [00:16:00] So we're kind of coming to the close. Rick, do you have some sort of parting knowledge and stress-free vibes that you want to send out to all of us?
Justine Bylo [00:16:13] A moment of Zen?
Rick Lite [00:16:13] Absolutely. The most important thing for indie authors to keep in mind when creating a book, when marketing a book, when distributing a book, is to take time to not only recognize the work that you've done and to realize that that's something that not everybody can do, but also to have fun during the process. It's not supposed to be stressful, you're not supposed to have anxiousness or anxiety for marketing your book. If you have a plan, if you're organized, if you have a goal on what you wanted to do, if you are aligning yourself with the right people and you're speaking to other authors, it's a great experience to go through. One that can really lead to some pretty neat places. Have fun with it, do a good job, and things will fall into place.
Robin Cutler [00:17:22] Well, hallelujah. I really echo all of that and I know Justine does too.
Justine Bylo [00:17:27] Yes, I do. It should be fun. Writing and creating should be a good time.
Robin Cutler [00:17:35] We're going to sign off. Thanks so much for listening to Go Publish Yourself. If you like what you hear, please do review us on iTunes. The more positive ratings and reviews we receive, the more authors and publishers like you will be able to discover our podcast too. If you're ready to publish today, please visit the IngramSpark website. For more tips on publishing like a pro, check out our weekly blog and free online self-publishing courses available in the IngramSpark Academy. Talk to you soon.
Justine Bylo [00:18:08] Bye.