Monday, January 20, 2014

What Works and What Doesn't Marketing Symposium: It's All About Taking Risks

Here's my contribution for What Works and What Doesn't Online Marketing Symposium.

* * * 

Most successful people dispense helpful tactics such as: Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to let go of something if it's not working. Don't be blinded by fear because that will only stop you from learning something valuable.

In a nutshell, these tips simply give you a gentle push and encourage you to 'take risks'.  

A Risk-Free Life?

As far as I can remember, ever since I was a toddler, I love to take risks. Physical risks like climbing on high stools or jumping from the highest step of a flight of stairs. I love the rush of being carried to the ground by gravity. I rarely get hurt. I am only prone to having scrapes on the knee and a bump on the forehead when I'm on level ground, and I run and slip on things.

I guess I haven't entirely outgrown that desire for taking risks, although they don't involve chairs or stairs anymore. :-)

Nowadays, it's more of a different kind of risk. Allow me to explain.

Photo Credit: Cas on Flickr
While I had most of my writing experience in publishing firms, I have yet to comprehend that seemingly elusive process of writing books, having them published and learning how to market them. Those companies I worked for didn't publish books. Most of them often tell me that book publication is a whole different process -- one that may be arduous and heart-crushing if you make mistakes.

Mistakes? No Problem

I wasn't afraid of making mistakes. As I said, I love to take risks. Besides, I know that I would hate myself more if I didn't even give it a try when that was one of my goals. So, I sent queries and manuscripts. Received rejections. Cried a river on a super-soaked pillow. But when my red and swollen eyes would go back to its normal state and no more tears came, I submitted again. I also entered indie publishing to learn more.

That's when I published my first eBook. I published another one after a few days. And another.

To help spread the word, I've created eBook trailers on YouTube and recently did an audio-video reading for the first part of "Sleepyhead? Not!"

I also reached out to others. Thankfully, most of the authors I've met have welcomed me. They were really warm and supportive.

Ending Something?

Last December, I had my very first virtual book party for my book bundle for kids (which carried my picture eBooks, "Sleepyhead? Not!" and "Are You There, God? It's Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You"). The book bundle was named "Sittie CASE."

It was my first time to have a book bundle, and it was sold on Flipreads, the Philippine Virtual Bookstore for Asian books.

(NOTE: These eBooks for kids and my other eBook, "13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry and Prose" are also available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers, but these are sold individually on these sites.)

Since the inexpensive promo was going to be offered up to the 31st of January, I thought of holding an event that will support it until the promo ended. So, I sent invitations. Most responded, but only a few participated. Those few had made it a really enjoyable event. It felt like a real party that's not hosted online! I prepared games, offered virtual food and drinks, had a guest book, created a reading room and also went out of my way to greet and talk to those who've attended.

But then, I had to end the party sooner. There were different reactions when I announced that I have to cancel it even if the promo is still available on Flipreads until January 31.

One of the reasons why I chose to end it was because I was going to face a really hectic schedule for this year. I wanted to reach all my goals and have all of the other previous drafts (that I've written in high school and college) published.

When you're pressed for time or you know that you are to face a very busy schedule for three months, there's a little sacrifice that you have to take. My choice was to end the book bundle party even if I like it so much. Some of the things I've learned there is that timing is key and, in hosting the party online, the number of days should also be considered. Plus, you also have to decide whether to host it on Google Plus or Facebook. If you've got more followers and friends on Google +, then host it there. If not, invite them to go to a Facebook page instead. It's best to juggle your options and try 'em so you'll find out what works for you. Another thing that you must remember is that you should think of your party not as the endpoint of where all your sales would be coming from. Rather, think of it as a means of spreading the word about your work because not everyone who attends would really buy your books. But most people who are there would help you in tweeting or sharing your event to others. 

I'm happy to say that some people bought the bundle even if I didn't continue the party up to this month. It's in Philippine pesos there (since Flipreads is a Philippine Bookstore), but the Paypal option allows interested readers of children's picture eBooks to purchase it in dollars. However, I'm still far from what I want to achieve in terms of reaching out to more readers and gaining the number of sales I hope to get from all the retailers that carry my eBooks. But that's not stopping me from enjoying the journey.

What Really Works

In marketing your work, there are times when moving away from it and seeing it from all angles would help you more than sticking to it but not being able to reach all your goals.

Having a book bundle party is one way of promoting your work. Another way is through eBook trailers or a video where you'll read a part of your work. You can also provide slides and share them on SlideShare.

It's like practicing the 80/20 rule. Focus on what can be most productive. Take risks. I did. I chose to embrace the life of an author even if most people told me to stick to being an article writer and editor for traditional publishing firms. I hosted a virtual party even if I didn't have any notion of how a virtual book bundle party should run.

(That was why I was surprised when I ended it because I thought it would just stay there, but it disappeared. A lot of people would say that they cancelled a certain event but I could still see it online. So, I thought that by clicking on the option of canceling the event on Facebook, it will remain online. But the whole event disappeared! LOL! I should've just mentioned something on its page so I wouldn't get a hate PM telling me that I was reported and shame on me. LOL! That was from another author who didn't know me that well. I was quite amused and initially confused when I received that hate PM. It took a while for me to realize that she was referring to my book bundle party. I wish she simply asked me why the link wasn't working. I'd be glad to explain why.)

Remember: Marketing is all about taking risks. Regardless of what your current age is, once a goal is born in your mind and heart, risks simply attach themselves to it. What works is taking those risks. Even if you're the shyest person alive, you'll do well if you get involved in a group of like-minded individuals. If you want to be an author, spread your wings and search for sites that will bring you to your readers (like Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, StoryCartel, First Page Last Page, Scribd, Wattpad and others).

There are a lot of risks out there. If you don't take it, you won't learn much and you won't grow. It's your choice.

I know this is a long post. I'm thankful that you've reached this part.

Didn't you notice that I just took another risk? I joined the very first Online Marketing Symposium, "What Works and What Doesn't". This is my first time to join a blogfest like this.

Much thanks to the hosts of this event. Click on their links to see what they've shared.
Arlee Bird -
Yolanda Renee -
Jeremy Hawkins -
Alex J. Cavanaugh - 

Don't forget to click HERE to bring you to the list of participants. Do visit their sites, too, so you'll learn more things on what works and what doesn't.

Thanks for visiting! I'll see you next post. :-)


Jeremy [Retro] said...

I have always tried to think outside the box, that hurts sometimes. I recently went to doing just simple and simple is better...

Jeremy H.

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. My best choir teacher always told us if you were going to make a mistake, to make a bold one. He was right. And goodness, now I have a couple more listing places to go scope. Thanks!

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Liking your bundle party idea! Sounds like fun!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You've given a lot of encouragement there. I'm still trying to figure out what to concentrate on.

SittieCates said...

Jeremy == Simple is definitely better, Jeremy. Thanks for visiting! :-)

Crystal == That is true, Crystal. :-) I hope that the sites I've listed would be of help to you.

Cathy == Oh, it was! You should try it. :-)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The Bundle idea was innovative. And that is what you have to be in order to step out from the pack. Best of luck! :-)

I hate proving I am not a robot. :-(

Jay Noel said...

You make a very interesting point - you won't necessarily get your sales from these FB parties and whatnot...but it's a means to get word to spread about your work.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm not much of a risk-taker, but I've had to learn. Glad the bundle-party was a success - and fun!
Thanks for participating in the symposium.

Chrys Fey said...

Taking risks is a must!

I've never done a book party, but it sounds like a lot of fun. :)And while a party or blog tour, etc may not generate as many sales as we'd hoped, it does get our books out there and that is very important.

Sarah Allen said...

You seem much braver than me! But a book bundle party sounds like a great idea, I'll have to keep that in mind.

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, with Joy)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That hate message from that author - those things just make you wonder, don't they?

Life is about risks. If you want to feel truly alive, you must take risks. You must be willing to do what others won't do.

Christine Rains said...

Thanks for sharing with us. You do have to take some risks, especially to learn along the way.

Yolanda Renée said...

I'm so glad you chose this blog fest. The journey you shared will help others. Great advice! Thanks for participating!

SittieCates said...

Susan Gourley/Kelley === Thanks! No problem on figuring out what to concentrate on. It's OK. My post is a bit long. I really appreciate the time you've spent in reading it. Thank you!

Roland D. Yeomans === Thank you for your kind words!

Jay Noel == Thanks! Yes, its a good means.

Alex J. Cavanaugh === Thanks for dropping by! You're welcome. I really enjoyed participating.

Chrys Fey === It's really a lot of fun. Some even brought their own share of virtual food and drinks. :-)

Sarah Allen === Hi there! Actually, I still get nervous when dealing with new things. But I've noticed that when I decide to act on something, the jitters seem to go away.

L. Diane Wolfe === Yes, they do. But maybe she was having a bad day then and thought that I was sending her a bad link. :-)

Christine Rains === You're welcome. Taking risks really help. Thanks for taking the time to visit!

SittieCates said...

Yolanda Renee === Thank you so much! This blogfest is really a great idea. I'm truly happy that I joined it. I hope there would be another one next time.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

You are so right-- marketing is all about taking risks! Maybe that's why it can be so scary, and yet exciting. I really enjoyed your post today, am following and will return!



Anonymous said...

I love how you took the risk to create a fresh, new promo option that worked for your books. Thanks for sharing, and nice connecting with you today!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the visit. I have become a follower.

Kim Van Sickler said...

Didn't even know about book bundle parties. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you are enjoying the journey and that's what really counts! Continued good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

You've made some valid points and shared some valuable experiences. Very cool.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great idea, SittieCates. I'm saving it for future reference. Your books look delightful too.
Thanks for the tips.

cleemckenzie said...

Taking risks is part of this game and I'm glad you mentioned it here. New follower as of today!

One thing I'd suggest is to take off your moderation. I just have approval on my blog and it works great. I seldom get unwanted comments and if I do, I just delete them. Ask others for their opinion on this, but I'm not a fan of having to prove I'm not a robot each time comment. :-)

Kimberly said...

Thanks for a great post and reminder about taking some risks. I haven't heard of book bundle parties, I will have to check that out. :)

Tara Tyler said...

taking risks is what life is all about, right? but some are harder than others. great examples and tips!

Tammy Theriault said...

it's always good to make mistakes, own them, and learn! great tips! newest follower and so glad I found you!

SittieCates said...

Karen Jones Gowen === Precisely! :-) Thank you so much for following, Karen! Followed back. :-)

Liz Fichera === So glad you liked it, Liz. Thank you! Lovely to connect with you, too.

Carolyn Brown === Thank you, Carolyn! I'm also your new follower. Thanks!

Kim Van Sickler === You're welcome, Kim. And thank you so much! Lots of luck to you, too.

M.J. Joachim === Thanks! I also loved what you've shared, M.J.. Very valuable.

Beverly Stowe McClure === You're welcome, Beverly. Will be visiting you online again soon. :-)

cleemckenzie === Thank you! I also followed you back.

Oh, OK. Noted on that. Sure! I'll take it off. Thank you! :-)

Kimberly === You're welcome. If you do a bundle party, don't forget to inform me. I'd be glad to go there. :-) I may not be there everyday (if you decide to run it for a few days), but will hop in from time to time.

Tara Tyler R === Yes, it is. And thank you so much for the compliment! Appreciate it.

Tammy Theriault === Yay! Thank you for following! I'm a new follower of your blog, too.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I am such a horrible risk taker! I hate to feel the effects of gravity. But I have to stop that. Learn to be bold!

Easier written than done, wish me luck :)

Love the bundle idea...making a note of it!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Youtube is one that I haven't tried yet - thanks for the dare, I mean, tip! :)
Great post on risk-taking!

SittieCates said...

Elizabeth Seckman === My apologies for the late reply. With regards to the gravity thing, I was more daring when I was younger. ;-) Perhaps it was also because I had more time to do those things. It's actually fun. Try it. You can do it. Wishing you lots of luck! :-)

Tyrean Martinson === Hi, Tyrean! lol! Dare? You could, you know, take that dare... I mean, "tip". :-) Thanks! Appreciate your comment. Sorry for the late reply.

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The Musings of a Hopeful Pecunious Wordsmith by SittieCates is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.