Monday, October 27, 2014

Susan Meier's Sometimes Crazy, Sometimes Spot On Thoughts about the Ninc Conference

Long title...interesting post. LOL

The Ninc (Novelists Inc.) Conference is long and intense. People from the industry attend and for the most part they are the speakers during the day. At night, we have what we call night owl sessions. These are led by authors and frequently are roundtable discussions, not workshops.

There is so much great information at this conference that I take notebooks full of notes. But, invariably, I come away with two or three takeaway points that I can actually implement. So I don't have to type pages of notes to you. This might not even be a long blog. LOL

So what did I learn from the CEO of Sourcebooks, Porter Anderson, Hugh Howey, a little contingent from Amazon, etc?

1. The industry is changing...No, duh, right? Well, this change runs deeper than the fact that authors can now self-publish. Because there are more ways to publish, an author (and if she has one, her publisher) needs to interpret the sales numbers differently. If you sell well in Walmart, for instance, you should be targeting Walmart readers and you or your publisher should make sure tons of your books go to Walmart. BUT...This also means certain types of advertising won't be effective. If you're an impulse buy at Walmart is an ad on an obscure blog site effective? Maybe not. (Okay...Probably not.) However, if the majority of your sales are esales to readers whose impulse takes place when they pick up their ereader or when they read your latest blog (or interview), then the same ads that won't work for that Walmart author will work for you.

But it goes beyond the simplistic. Seriously. Do Indies complain that they only have esales? No. They rejoice. If there's no print copy of their book, or if they have a Createspace book (Print on Demand) for their loyal print readers, they don't stress over what might actually only be a courtesy to their print readers. They focus on the numbers that count.

Which the end...traditional publishers can no longer look at a "sales" number which lumps everything together, they need to break that number down and analyze it.

Do they? Will they?

Who knows. LOL

2. We need to take a second look at our social media efforts. Readers hate buy my book, buy my book, buy my book...Oh, hell, I'm just going to say it...I HATE buy my book, buy my book, buy my book on Twitter and Facebook. Now, that's not to say, you can't have a post that says, Halleluiah, my book is out TODAY or next week or here's my new cover. What it is saying is that you shouldn't schedule a post every 15 minutes that says buy my book. I know. I know. The first post is going to get lost...but ... You do not want to turn readers off.

So...If we can't hawk our books...How should we be looking at social media?

After going to a number of workshops given by publicists, publishers and the guys from Dit Dat, I analyzed my notes (You're shocked I know...) and saw a thread that basically says, your social media posts should tell people who YOU are. (For better or for worse, my beer Friday posts may have led many people to buy stock in the company that owns Michelob Ultra.)

Readers (ultimately...eventually) are interested in your next book. (Thank God.) But when they see you on social media they are curious about YOU. Day-to-Day YOU. Hey, here I am in my PJs, eating peanut butter toast, about to start my novel.

You hate that, right? You don't want to see "I'm eating peanut butter toast" from your author friends. You think that's stupid. Yeah, but you know your author friends. You LIVE the same experience. So it's not fascinating to you. But it is to readers.

And like it or not, readers hunt you down on social media for just this kind of tidbit. Not to hear buy my book, buy my book, buy my book.

So how do you sell books to them? With your sparkling personality? Some of you may be lucky enough to do that...LOL...but most of us just don't sparkle that brightly. LOL What we need to do is befriend them enough, or post enough, or post interestingly enough that eventually they go to our website, FIND EVEN MORE PERSONAL STUFF...and eventually go to our books page.

Whew. That sounds like a lot of work. Especially, for one reader.

Yes. But here's the deal. If your book is in Walmart. A small crowd doesn't gather around it, chat about you, say kind things about your last book, and then ultimately clear the shelf of your novel. No. One customer at a time walks up to the shelf. She looks at all the AUTHOR NAMES (Sorry, but contrary to what lots of traditional publishers think, I believe readers first look for author name.) Then she looks at covers and titles...almost simultaneously. ie The cover will attract, then the title will create curiosity...then she picks up the book and reads the back cover blurb...and, well, you know the rest.

My point, though, is that you are selling to one person at a time. You always have been.

So social media is the place where readers befriend you, get interested in or curious about you. From there they may jump to a book site and look at your books...but (according to the people I heard at Ninc) more than likely they will go to your website. Where they still want to know MORE about you, which means...

3. The website isn't dead.

And, in fact, it can be your most effective tool. But, readers still don't want to read buy my book, buy my book. They want to see a bit more about YOU, your interests, your life. They want your grandmother's pie recipe. Or a free read. Or a public service announcement like...Support the American Cancer Society...because the very fact that you are kind enough to have a message like that says something about lots of different ways. Maybe even that you knew someone who died from cancer and that's why you support the cause.

So what does all this mean?

Well, first off...interpret your numbers correctly and, secondly, YOU are the commodity readers want until they buy your book. And even after a reader buys your book and reads it, she wants to know a little sumpin' sumpin' about the person who wrote the book she loved. Why did you write it? How did you get interested in cowboys, space aliens, tycoons, serial killers?

It's now a relationship. If you're lucky, it becomes a love match. <3 font="">

Now, do you have to tell them everything? The color of your undies? Your addiction to THE BLACKLIST? I say skip the undies and stick with things that can potentially connect you to your readers. A shared love of a TV show. A shared love of crocheting. Or even introducing them to something like the history of firehouses that potentially builds a hobby for them.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GET SO PERSONAL. You don't have to post pix of the grandkids if you don't want to. But that means you need to find other ways to connect with them. Because the key here is CONNECTION...

Oh, crap. It's almost 8:30 and I have to write. So I'm off for now.

But chew on all of that. :)

And Happy Monday

susan meier


Susan B James said...

Really good thought provoking post.
I feel so lost sometimes on what to do. I did start a blog with tabs for recipes, about me etc. I do interview other authors. I don't know if it helps, but it is nice to hear it might.
Thank you.

1penns07 said... reader at a time! LOL

Seriously, get good at writing content now and later when you're a star, you'll be a pro at keeping your readers happy.

susan meier

Nancy Herkness said...

Great, thought-provoking post! I'm surprised to hear that websites are still something readers visit for updated content. I thought websites had become fairly static in these days of social media. Thanks for sharing all that excellent info!