A Goodbye Post ~ Kathy Carlton Willis


I’m finding myself saying “goodbye” a lot lately, and frankly it’s not a word that excites me! In fact, it outright drains me to say it, much like Fonzie couldn’t say the phrase, “I was wrong.” Goodbye just doesn’t roll off my lips well. Probably because of that biblical principle: out of the mouth come the things of the heart. My heart doesn’t adjust well to letting something or someone go, so that discomfort is reflected in my goodbyes.
My series of farewells this year includes: seeing several close friends move away, putting our Libby cat to sleep, having my beloved assistant resign to be a stay-at-home mom, and just this week, saying goodbye to the congregation where my husband pastored, so that we can move into the new chapter God has for us.
And now I add to the list my time as a guest-blogger with Novel Journey coming to an end. The moderators of the site graciously invited me to write tips about literary promotion as a six-month guest blogger. I can’t believe this is my last column.
What wise words would I leave for you? Just like Randy Pausch left The Last Lecture, I want my last words to count. I think the most important of all lessons when it comes to publicity is knowing how to promote the message God has given you without promoting yourself.
It goes against the grain of Christ-followers who have freshly learned to live sacrificial lives through the face of humility to promote ourselves. It’s almost as if we just figured out how to deny self and now we are asked to promote self. It just doesn’t add up.
May I introduce a new perspective—one that will help you as you tiptoe through the promotional landmines? Anything that God leads you to do, you are called to do with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. You are to do heartily (with GUSTO), as if working for the Lord and not to please others (Colossians 3:23).

God works alongside of us as we write. Our words aren’t inspired the way the Bible was inspired; but as we allow God to guide our pens (or our keyboards), we produce God-led text. Do you think He wants us to sit on that text and not get the word out about it? No way. Not any more than He wants us to put the kibosh on the gospel message. Words have the power to change people. Words have the potential of empowering and equipping and educating and entertaining. Others won’t know about our articles and books if we don’t promote those projects, and they won’t know about our ability to deliver the spoken word at events if we don’t get the word out about them.
When thinking of what our approach should be to promoting the work we are called to do, I’m reminded of the children’s song lyrics that say: “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine.”
To Practically Promote Your Message, Make Sure You:

  1. Provide “value-added” material for the audience. What’s in it for them? Every piece of promotional literature should give readers something extra.
  2. Elevate good words you read by others—even if they are your competitors. Not flattery, but true praise.
  3. Only say in print what you would dare say in person. If you wouldn’t stand around at a party bragging about your latest project ad nauseum, then avoid doing so in an e-blast.
  4. Relay how jazzed you are with the blessings of this project—giving God the glory for the open doors.
  5. Have pure motives. When the heart is right, the words can’t go wrong.
  6. Ask for God to lead the way and for Him to put His hand of blessing on it according to His good purposes—not according to YOUR agenda.
  7. Look for opportunities to spread the word about the project rather than waiting for them to happen to you.

Let someone else promote YOU. You simply promote the message and the GOD of the message. That’s the balance.
Kathy has moved to a new town where she doesn’t know a single soul. Her husband Russ is joining her firm fulltime, and they are setting up new services to offer clients. They’ll no longer be drawing a church paycheck or live in a church parsonage. In other words, there are no sure things—they’ve moved deeper into faith territory. As they pioneer this new adventure, Kathy would love to hear from you—especially if something she’s written here at Novel Journey over the past six months spoke to you personally. You may contact her at: WillisWay@aol.com.

BIO: Kathy Carlton Willis, of the same named communications firm. Kathy shines the light as writer, publicist, coach, editor, speaker, and more. She’s built a network of industry connections and is affiliated with Advanced Writers and Speakers Association as well CLASSeminars. Her columns and book reviews have appeared online and in print. She served as grammar guru for three publications—red ink is her friend! Kathy is a contributing author for The Reason We Speak, It Happened By Design: A Series of God-Incidence Stories, and Groovy Chicks’ Road Trip to Peace. She has a background in newspaper journalism as copyeditor and feature writer. She is editor and writer for The Christian Pulse devotions. Check out her professional blog at http://kcwcomm.blogspot.com and her Website at http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/. KCWC offers a wide range of services at every price-point, with several new services added just this month.

Inhouse or Independent PR~Kathy Carlton Willis

What Is a Publicist?
A publicist is a professional who has both the know-how and the network in place to help bring your name to the public. In the literary world, a publicist is key to the marketing plan, to help create a consumer craving for a book title, or any book written by a specific author.

A literary publicist will promote the book title directly to consumers by identifying and making book information available to the niche-markets with an interest in the storyline or subject matter of the book. The publicist will also network with media by pitching specific interview angles the author can provide—setting up the writer as an expert on certain subjects.

In-House Publicist

Every publishing house has a publicist or publicity team under the umbrella of their marketing department. Their biggest goal is to make sure the book sells well, so they will invest their biggest promotional dollars and time on the book titles they predict will be big sellers. This means either the subject matter is unique and marketable or the author has some sort of celebrity status. But even first-time unknown writers will garner some sort of attention from their publishing house’s publicity staff. It’s up to the author to find out what the plan and timeline is for their title.

Some publishing houses will print ARCS (Advance Review Copies or Advance Reader Copies) as part of their publicity strategy. Marketing and PR staff will send the ARCS to reviewers who require advance review time (normally 4-5 months prior to release date). These reviewers are heavy-hitters. Garnering the attention of Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal or Romantic Times is a big bolster in the launch of any book.

Independent Publicist:

Sometimes publishing houses hire outside PR firms to manage specific book campaigns, or entire lines of books. Other times, they pay half toward an outside campaign, and the author matches that. The third option is for the author to pay all of the expense from their advance, believing that publicity and marketing is what will make or break the overall sales for the book. Independent publicists also assist with author branding for the career of the author, not just this one book campaign.

Most PR and communications firms offer a wide array of services for authors (and other public figures). They will come alongside of you at any stage in the writing game. They can help expand your platform, branding and name recognition. Need some help making sure your website is selling you in the best possible light? Ask your publicist. Some will even edit your manuscripts and write your book proposals, query letters and marketing plans.
After the book contract, your publicist will customize a plan for promoting you and your titles to create buzz in a way that makes the campaign go viral. This can be through traditional publicity campaigns through media, internet and social networking campaigns, and more.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a dozen times, “I’m so glad I didn’t have to navigate this book promotion jungle on my own. Thanks for holding my hand through the process.”

Why Hire a Publicist?

–A publicist has the media contacts and relationships needed to secure interviews/ reviews.

–A publicist knows how to pitch your book to the media and how each journalist prefers to be contacted.
–Most writers do not have the time to devote to a publicity campaign. It is a full-time job.
–When an author is pitching his own book, it is sometimes viewed as being too self-promotional. A publicist is seen as a third party and most journalists are more receptive to discussing a book with a publicist rather than the author.
-When media, retailers and consumers hear an author has a publicist, they seem to see the author as having more “clout.” It legitimizes the expert-status of the author and elevates them to a higher professional standing. An author with a publicity team has “peeps.” It’s that whole “I’ll have my people contact your people” approach.
So, whether you are blessed with a Johnny-on-the-spot in-house publicity team or an independent publicist or publicity firm, rest assured—they’ve got you covered!

What’s a Blog Tour? ~ Kathy Carlton Willis

Blog tours are like virtual book tours. We provide blog hosts with information we want them to post on their blogs for us, and then they drive traffic through social networking to those sites. Each blogger has a different realm of influence—a different readership. The combined effect of being on multiple blogs in the same week helps increase your search engine rankings and exposure. Some of the blog hosts will also write reviews of the book. Some just post what we provide them. They are accustomed to working with us, so it’s a happy partnership. For their effort, we send them a copy of the book they are promoting.

Lots of companies are using bloggers to help with marketing and free advertising, as well as consumer reviews. Ask Target who their biggest fans are, and they will say “mommy bloggers.”

So, it’s sort of like running the same commercial on a bunch of different stations at once so that you get multiple audiences. And it stimulates an appetite for the book by the very consumers we hope will purchase the title.

Marketing experts say that consumers often need 7 “touches” before they make a purchase, so we like to try to get the word out in a variety of ways to achieve this purpose: newspaper, social networking, radio, TV, internet, reviews, bloggers, book signings, speaking events, advertising, etc. We also try to do direct-to-consumer awareness and pitch-to-media promotion as well. So, blog tours provide one touch in a plan that includes several other elements as well.

How do blogging and/or blog tours fit into an author’s overall marketing plan?
Blogging by the author helps set them up as an expert on certain subjects-each blog should fit a niche. It develops a readership and a platform. It also allows the author to network with other bloggers and trade services such as blog tours.

Blog tours fit into the marketing plan because they develop a grassroots level exposure to the book, creating buzz thanks to the oldest PR method on the planet, “word of mouth.” Other bloggers will reach readers the author couldn’t reach any other way.

What method do you use to plan the blog tour? Normally we use an e-blast that has the press release of the book, including the author bio, the photo of the book cover, photo of the author, and a Q & A style interview with the author. We also like to add one other element to personalize the tour—sort of like lagniappe (a little something extra). And some of our authors also choose to provide a grand prize giveaway, so we coordinate the drawing of that winner.

Any other additional thoughts on blogging and blog tours?
I would highly recommend authors be willing to post blog tours for other authors on their sites, to develop a network so that when their own books are ready to go on tour, they already have a long list of blog tour hosts ready and willing to return the favor.

We have over 500 in our database for blog tours, and often run between 25-50 hosts who volunteer for any given tour. Some authors select the number they wish to limit their tour (if books are limited) or they tell us to run as many as possible.

What the blog tour service covers:

  • designing custom e-blast
  • sending e-blast to our database of blog tour hosts
  • making a mailing list of all volunteers
  • mailing complimentary books to all blog tour hosts signed up for this tour
  • following up with volunteers and answering any questions
  • posting blog tour on our professional blog and listing all blog links to drive traffic to all the blog tour hosts
  • following up with any stragglers who haven’t posted the blog tour before the tour wraps up
  • gathering names of finalists for giveaway from blog tour hosts
  • writing e-blast announcing prize winner and thanking all hosts for their participation

Here are some examples of blog tours:

Today’s article is by Kathy Carlton Willis, wife to Russ, mom to Jazzy the Boston Terrier, author, editor, publicist and a certified CLASSeminars speaker. Kathy Carlton Willis Communications encompasses her many passions. Learn more about how she reflects Christ as she shines the spotlight on others at: http://kcwcomm.blogspot.com/ or http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.


Social Networking for Authors ~ Kathy Carlton Willis

Today we’re going to talk about social networking. Some are afraid to start because they fear it will be addicting, stealing time from other more important tasks. I’d like to suggest that if I can social network for me AND my clients in just 3 hours a week, you can fit in half an hour every so often, if you plan well and discipline your time.

Acquisition editors are now asking writers what sort of social networking they have set up. This is part of our platform, and also shows we will team up with the publishing houses in marketing any books they contract with us.

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Writers can network with their readers, fans, audiences, and niche-markets, while building platform, creating test markets, and more, through social networking. You can even pick up assignments by being at the right place at the right time. Editors and clients will feel like they know you through your posts—like they know your work ethic, your style, your ability to meet deadline. I’ve received several new projects through social networking. At this time, the two most popular are facebook and twitter.

FACEBOOK

Wendy Gardner, of Gardner Publicity notes that facebook serves writers well because “Facebook allows you to create a fan/group or book page, where you can post a photo of your book cover, a synopsis of your book, and news, as well as send email messages to your fans or members without necessarily having to be ‘friends’ with them.”

You can set your blog entries to also post on facebook, a great way to multi-task!

Get creative and use facebook in unique ways to interact with your readers while at the same time promoting your work. The main caveat is to remember NOT to sound like an infomercial—post updates in the same way ladies would visit across the fence while hanging laundry. If you wouldn’t say it in person to someone, don’t say it on facebook or twitter.

Ideas:

  • Use the “info” tab to post reviews of your books.
  • Use the “video” tab to post book trailers and vlog-casts.
  • Create book clubs for readers, and lead them through discussion questions as the group reads the book together.
  • Offer special deals.
  • Announce book signings and speaker events.
  • Post links to all the blog URLS for an upcoming blog tour.

Find the balance between personal and professional. It’s not the place for you to act like a frat-boy or housewife of “X” county, ESPECIALLY with photos. Stay consistent to your branding.

TWITTER

Twitter is like micro-blogging. In just 140 characters (not words) you update your followers on your current status. Add shortened links to URLS for any book reviews, blog posts, blog tours, etc as a great way to help drive traffic to other websites mentioning you and your projects. It’s fine to follow other writers, but also be sure to follow those who are in your niche-market. They might follow you back and learn of your work. Also consider following media—they are always looking for new guests.

Whenever you are going to be speaking, signing books, or doing an event of some kind, be sure to post about it in advance to encourage your followers to be there, and also post as it happens, to build excitement for those who cannot attend, and then later after the event, to praise those who made it possible.

Take an hour or two once a month to write as many twitter updates as you can brainstorm. Make sure they are quippy, have a great hook, provide a value-added service, or have some other reason to be of interest to the reader.

Schedule these tweets (twitter updates) on a scheduler program. I use: Tweet-U-Later

Another highly recommended one—that I might try next month, is http://hootsuite.com. I’ve heard that:

  • It shows how many characters remaining.
  • It shrinks the links (URLs).
  • It pre-schedule tweets if you post them on hootsuite in advance with an assigned date and time.
  • It allows you to set it to limit updates at 122 characters (including the link), so others can retweet it without losing the link due to too many characters.

LINKED-IN

Originally a job networking site, LinkedIn has a more professional slant than facebook, though the process for setting up an account is very similar. It has sort of a resume feel to it.

Take some time to join groups related to writing, publishing, and promotion/publicity. This will allow you to network with others having the same interests, and also to learn new tricks of the trade from them. It’s a great place to ask questions and gather advice. Some even pick up writing assignments through this.

SUMMARY

You can join the world of social networking with a little planning, creativity, and discipline. And doesn’t that sound a lot like writing?

Today’s article is by Kathy Carlton Willis, wife to Russ, mom to Jazzy the Boston Terrier, author, editor, publicist and a certified CLASSeminars speaker. Kathy Carlton Willis Communications encompasses her many passions. Learn more about how she reflects Christ as she shines the spotlight on others at: http://kcwcomm.blogspot.com/ or http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.