Writers In The Storm welcomes Tara Lain, a public relations and advertising executive who makes use of her promo savvy to promote her second career, writing erotic romance.
A lifelong writer of serious non-fiction, Tara didn’t fall in love with EROM until 2009 and, through perseverance and hard work she had the first novel she ever wrote published in January of 2011. She capped off that same year by being voted Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and had her Genetic Attraction Series named runner-up for Best Series of 2011!
When we heard her talking about media and self promotion at our Orange County RWA meeting, we knew our readers would love hearing how she shot her writing career straight to the top in just a year’s time.
Special thanks to Writers in the Storm for inviting me today. I brought my soapbox and will climb up on it because I want to talk about an aspect of promo.
Many authors have a love/hate relationship with self promotion. Others have a hate/hate relationship. Every hour you spend in promo is an hour you aren’t writing. But the fact remains that there’s not much point in writing if there is no one to read your books.
Some authors say the best way to get an audience is to write a great book. I would argue back that writing a great book is a good way to attract a bigger audience, but first you have to make people aware of you as an author.
That’s where promo comes in.
I am an e-published writer of erotic romance. My success lives and dies online. In addition, I’m a public relations and advertising professional in my day job so when I started writing romance all my instincts said “help people get to know you.”
The first thing I did was blog.
Recently I’ve heard some writers say that blogs are dead. All the good blogs have been done. Boy is that a bad excuse for not doing promo. People might as well say all the good books have been written so why write one. There is always an audience for an interesting blog.
There is, however, one excuse for an author not to have a blog. If you honestly hate the idea so much that you know you won’t keep your blog up, you’ll neglect it and let it go for months with no posts, then don’t start a blog. But be a wildly active Facebook participant and newsletter hound to make up for it. Or consider joining a group blog where all the responsibility doesn’t fall on you. (I belong to a group blog too.)
A blog is an author’s home base.
You might say, “Isn’t my website home base?” Only if your blog is on your website! A website, no matter how good and how frequently changed, will never be as dynamic as a blog.
A blog allows an author to talk to readers directly. Even when hosting other authors, your personality and interests shine through.
A blog is a place to invite your readers to participate in your writing life. You can host blog hops, blog tours, contests. Invite other authors you admire, write about subjects in your genre. Cheer when you get a great review. Cheer somebody else’s great review. And of course, post nibbles from your books.
- Authors scream “what do I write about? I have nothing to say.” Nonsense. Imagine you have to make your living as a non-fiction writer and need to come up with short articles to keep food on the table (because in a sense you do). My new release is about a witch. I am blogging about the history of the witch trials, what male witches are called, black cats and why they are associated with witches. I’m also blogging about writing sex scenes, why my heroes are so beautiful, why read a male/male romance, how covers influence book selection, and a lot more.
- How often should you blog? I blog two to three days a week on two blogs. Many authors blog every day. A blog is a living document and you want people to routinely check back for new content. As a general rule, if you can’t post once a week minimum, don’t start a blog. But writing blogs every day isn’t necessary. You can Instead, try scheduling blogs for a week or more in advance.
- Promote your blog on Facebook and Twitter. If you are a real blogaholic, join Triberr and increase the number of people who visit your blog exponentially (but you have to be willing to post often to get the benefit of Triberr). [Triberr help]
- Develop a mail list (how to do that is a subject for another blog) and promo your blog posts.
- Join Blog Hops and drive lots of people to your blog.
- Start blogging BEFORE you’re published. I started one of my two blogs about six months before I was published. I knew a publisher was interested in me, but I didn’t have a firm commitment yet. I started my blog mostly focused on other authors I liked plus fun posts on kissing and such. I used my newly selected pen-name and slowly built a following. Then I hopped onto other social media after I sold my book. By the time my first book was released, I had the number one bestselling book on my publisher’s website that week, which was a big deal for a brand new author.
- Have fun with it! While not quite as interactive as Facebook or Twitter, a blog is a conversation. It’s personal and people can comment back. Enjoy it.
Stepping off the box now. As you can tell I am an unrepentant promo fanatic. I have seen so many things accomplished in my own writing life (like being named Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards) and in the careers of other writers that I directly attribute to promotion.
It would be so wonderful if publishers and agents would handle all of that for us, but the fact is that we live in a social media world and social media is personal. Even if publishers promoted new writers, we would STILL have to do self promotion because readers know the difference. So take a deep breath and embrace the blog.
Visit Tara’s website
Beautiful Boys Books
Tara’s latest Book, Spell Cat
I’m very interested in your tip about a mailing list. I had decided not to do one, but I admire your skills and knowledge and you could definitely change my mind. I don’t like receiving newsletters and really don’t read them. You mentioned promo for blog posts. That might work for me, but I figured that people would subscribe by email if they wanted those. I hope to see your posts someday on the uses for the mailing list! 🙂
Hi Brinda– I’d say you are the expert. But i have a mail list that i compiled over time. I get about a third or more of the list opening my newsletter emails and a nice little bunch of clickthorughs. I used to do it by regular email but eventually my emails got banned as spam even though they were opted in. That’s why i switched to Constant Contact. You always have a group that want to hear from you and the others can just delete it or opt out. I don’t get a lot of opt outs interestingly. I think my mail list is a little secret weapon. LOL : )
I took a great marketing class by Melissa Foster through WLC, and she mentioned mailing lists/newsletters. She says it’s vital in this day and age. I’m working on getting mine started. I do blog, twice a week, and I enjoy it, but I always worry about getting views to my feature post, Thriller Thursday, as it ties in with my genre. However, I’m tweeting and Facebooking, and supporting other authors. I’m not sure what else I can do.
Like Brinda, I’d love to see your thoughts on the mailing list. My book comes out in November, and I’m stressed about WHERE to focus my marketing efforts.
Hi Stacey– Maybe WITS will invite me back to talk mail lists. Have you thought of Triberr to up your blog hits? : )
Jenny jumping in here…
Stacy is on Triberr (I made her join), and OF COURSE we want you back to talk about mail lists. Geesh. 🙂
Yes, please. I’m getting ready to start mine with Constant Contact, I think, and I’d love to hear more detailed advice about it.
LOL! Good for coercion! I’d love to come back. : )
I find if I get myself out there on a blog tour, I draw more people to my own blog, which results in a few more sales. And I don’t just blog about books, or about writing–I save those blogs for the visits to “writer’s” blogs. Instead I blogged about my life, my husband, our dogs. It was a pressure valve relief when I desperately needed one, and it did draw more people to the idea of me as a writer. So many people had only known me through the dogs, in some ways I was reinventing myself. This has to go hand in hand with writing a good book but as Tara said, what good is a great book if no one knows it’s out there???
Yay Mona! That’s so true. : )
Tara I wasn’t a believer in any kind of social media until we started the WITS blog. Three of us gathered in front of my big-screen computer one night and Writers In The Storm was born. Since then, I’ve gotten into Facebook and Twitter but I really need to learn about interfacing them so that I have more writing time. Maybe that will be a new blog. 🙂
Thank you, Sharla. I have learned my social media skills a little at a time like you. While i translate them to my PR clients, using them for my writing is different and i have had to train myself. You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks. But i love it! Learning new things is one of my biggest joys. I would love to come back any time. : )
Loved your post. I am trying to get my crit group to start a blog as well as our individual blogs.
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Hi Tara! I think your comment about starting well in advance of your book release is a very important aspect of promotion. I am going to be honest here though and say that I personally have not seen blogging and social networking translate into book sales for me. (yet!?) I wonder sometimes if I am doing something wrong, but I am trying to be both patient and persistent while I write the next book too. I really enjoyed your Golden Dancer by the way, well done! 🙂
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