Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Building Petal the Owl's Marketing Platform.

A brief post on self-marketing.

I've learned the hard way how difficult it is to market your publications. Ebooks are a relatively new market and kids' ebooks even more so. But in the 18 months that I've been selling them online, the number of kids ebooks being sold on Amazon has more than doubled. Being featured in the top 100 was a normal occurance to me late last year, but now it's harder and harder to get books in those lists and even harder to keep them there without a million people giving great reviews. So I've resorted to cross-advertising with another company that makes and sells plush toys.
Ok – lets back up back a bit.
It is essential for every author – self-published/traditionally published/not-published-yet – to build their platform. What is a platform and what does that mean for self-publishers? According to 'The “author platform” is a fancy buzzword folks in the book business use to talk about an author's fan engagement, their social media and web presence, the size and dedication of their readership, and their connectedness to other authors, bloggers, critics, agents, publicists, publishers, etc.' ~ http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/01/building-your-author-platform-in-10-hours-a-week/
Without it, how are you going to find readers? How are you going to find support? How are you going to sell your ebooks? How are you going to learn what works and what doesn't? How are you going to learn and better your trade skills? How are you going to keep yourself from going nuts, spending hours/days/weeks/months talking to your imaginary friends like they exist in real life?
At the beginning it was scary to think about how I was going to market my products. I set up a website, which is my biggest source of sales even though it just sits there doing nothing! I set up a Twitter account – even though I'd vowed I'd never go there! I set up a Facebook page, and a Goodreads and Google+ account. I then liked a million other Facebook pages, followed a million other Twitter accounts, and checked out a million other authors' pages. I started a blog – well, a news link really – for my website and guest-spoke on a million other blogs, and I think that it has worked for me, just not in the way that I first expected. 
I don't sell many more books with this marketing platform. It really doesn't help much at all, but what it has helped with is networking and connecting with other writers and self-publishers. It's given me a better understanding of the self-publishing world out there, and it's helped me learn my trade in a greater way than I ever thought possible. I have to admit though – it is a bit of a time-waster. I think I spend more time on Facebook than actually writing each week - just, please, don't tell the hubby that! [Ed: then she gets me to edit this post...!]
So now I am trying something new – merchandise. I've connected with Joanne from Night Owl Creations. She hand-makes plush toy owls and other gorgeous items for kids and mamas. We're doing a facebook giveaway for the month, giving away Petal the Owl and Petal's Mama toys along with all eight Petal the Owl ebooks that I have written and illustrated.
At first I thought this would be a great way to trial run an in-ebook advertising scheme, until I learned that its against Kindle publishing rules to advertise other products or services in ebooks. So we have had to get creative on how to work within the terms and conditions. I think it will work really well.
What I'm hoping is that Joanne will have an increase in traffic to her sites and her sales will go up. I don't know if it will work, but we're trying it out. I don't expect to get many more sales out of it for myself, but I am enjoying working with another local business to see if ebooks will help her profits.
And to be honest – it might just be an excuse to turn a well-loved character into a plushy toy so I can cuddle her. Whaaat??? Some people get a kick out of seeing their books printed and sitting on their own book shelves – I so happen to like plush toys!!! Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.
So, if this is a new concept to you – get started. Learn how to market on social networking sites, get a website, or at the very least get a blog – they are free. Check out groups of writers in your local areas – NZ Society of Authors is a good place to start. Find other authors, interview each other on your blogs and take a 'blog tour' round each blog. Its fun, creative and gets your name out there.
For more information on building your platform, check out the links page to this blog for more sites to visit on the subject. There are heaps out there, but ultimately you have to work out what works for you. I know of one indie author who pays for 100 copies of her books to be printed, so she can give them to dedicated pre-release readers for the express purpose of gaining reviews on each of her books before she launches them. It's a great way to start the life of your book online, especially if you have 80 reviews already in place! So, how long do you think it will take you to build your platform to the point of having 100 dedicated fans who would jump at the chance of a free pre-release copy of your next book for reviewing???


  1. Excellent article. Very helpful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. You're welcome Vashti. Thanks for visiting! :)