Indie Marketing Tip #1 – Branding with Your Profile Pic or Head Shot

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Indie marketing tip #1 – “Keep your profile pics/head shot out there. If they don’t know who you are, they won’t read your work.” – tip from Mike Pettit Your face should be recognizable. Imagine being at a signing event of 350 authors. I bet if you read romance you could pick out the big names, like Nora Roberts. Friends and fans love this pic which was taken of me with my first book by Monica Parks. I love it too, it’s fun and is a good memory for me. But, guess what it doesn’t do? Boost my brand. You need a full head shot to do that. Branding – it’s important. I’ve listened to a lot of people give talks on branding and have read about it. I’m going to sum up branding as simply as I can, to cut through some of that for new Indie authors. Your brand. How do you brand yourself? New authors often ask me that question. Here is the answer I always give. Branding: “To brand yourself first you must know who you are and then act like it.” – Debra Parmley So there are two steps. Do you know who you are? Ego comes up in this topic. And what is ego? It’s our personality, the things that make us who we are. We came down here to earth to be somebody. Remember that. Living small does not serve you well. There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Not enough and you’d never put yourself out there. You’d hide in your author cave. Too much and you’d be insufferable to be around. But you are in control of that. So know who you are. The more you figure that out, the better your branding will be. And guess what the experts who will charge you money to brand you are going to ask? The same questions you have to ask yourself to figure this one out. So you figure that out and then, step #2, you act like it. Be true to yourself. There is only one you. And readers want to get to know you. Every social media site out there is going to want a profile picture. Because that is step one of people getting to know you. So… profile pic = head shot. And as Mike Pettit says, you need to post new ones to keep your brand, your face out there. I’m going to take my own advice here and will be changing my profile pic once a week. Will call it Brand Boost. Cause I have to boost my brand. There are thousands of authors out there and we have to keep boosting our brand if we want to be remembered.

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Re-Releasing Kindle Worlds Books

It has been exactly one month, thirty days to the day I last blogged about Kindle Worlds closing and how authors must adapt and adjust. Today I’m happy to share that Montana Marine, which is in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Twisted Pages Press, Elle’s new publishing house! I’m also excited to share that Protecting Pippa, which is in Susan Stokers Special Forces Operation Alpha Series World, will be back out on July 17th through Aces Press, Susan’s new publishing house!

The covers will be slightly redone to remove the Kindle Worlds logo and to be fitted in the new templates for each series, but the titles and the cover models poses will remain. I’ve posted them below. The books will come out in ebook first and will be available on Kindle, but print is now an option which would not have been possible with Kindle Worlds. So, I’m excited about the future and can’t wait to have the books back out along with some new books.

Then in August I’ll have a new Brotherhood Protectors book, Defensive Instructor, out! And I’ll have a new Special Forces Operation Alpha book, Split Screen Scream out! Now to get this done I have adapted and adjusted again, putting the other books on hold. Those will follow these new releases.

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On Drive, Writing and Achieving Goals

I have drive. When it come to my books, my writing career, I have drive.

My husband calls it tunnel vision and perhaps it could be called that too, because when I am that focused on the goal, it is an extreme focus which fades things in the periphery of my vision. But whatever one chooses to call it,  it have it and when I am that focused I will not be redirected elsewhere, by anyone, even in the most extreme circumstances. I call it drive.

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I have drive. This has allowed me to achieve what I have achieved in my writing career so far to this date. No matter what has happened to me and to my books I keep pushing forward. Set backs happen. I have to get up, dust myself off and start again. I have to adapt and adjust. This is not to say I have not had those nights when it seemed impossible to get up and do it again and to start over. This is not to say I have not had nights when I cried bitter tears of frustration and sadness and loss and felt like giving up. I have had such dark nights and gotten through them, sometimes alone, sometimes with the help of a friend. But I have gotten through them. I get up, dust myself off and I begin again. Because I have drive.

When students who are serious about their writing ask me what it takes to get published (usually they mean with a publisher not self publishing which nearly anyone can do these days if they apply themselves) I tell them the things they must know to get published and I teach them the skills and pass along the information they will need to achieve that. But that drive, that is the one thing I cannot give them or teach them. Drive comes from within. I can motivate. I can ask them how bad do they want it. I can ask them any number of questions which will motivate them, but it still has to come from within. They need that inner fire. That drive.

Drive accepts no excuses. It does not care what is going in in your life. It does not care if you are tired. It does not care about anything other than achieving that goal. Drive is unstoppable, unrelenting, ruthless. If you have ever once tasted drive within yourself you will know this will be true. You will understand what I am speaking of.

I have drive. Sometimes this means I drive myself too hard, too fast and for too long. I am often too hard on myself. Often this means I will crash and crash hard. Just last night I had such a crash. I had been driving myself too hard, living on fours hours of sleep, pushing hard to get books out with rights reversions back from three publishers and many books to get out under my new publishing company/private label and an all day book event yesterday where I needed to have books ready to sign. I had been pushing myself hard for about a month, and pushing the month before, not as hard but pushing. So when I came home from the book event last night I crashed and crashed hard. I slept for twelve hours straight. Then I got up and four hours later napped for an hour. I had reached a point of exhaustion and my body said, enough.

This is what drive can do. So when you have it to the degree that I have, it is important to learn to manage it, to control it. To find some sort of balance between allowing that drive to fill you to the point where you push on through to your goals and between reigning it in so you can rest and recharge and be ready to push on through the next day. Often when I have a set back in my writing career, after the dark night of drying those tears, I get back up with a fierce sort of drive which pushes me hard. It is my way of fighting back against the twists of fate the publishing life throws at me. It is that fierce determination which doesn’t listen. It is the dark side of drive or tunnel vision because it does not listen.

What follows a crash and burn with me is a quiet, a silence. A time of evaluation. Of assessment and of looking all around and listening. The drive is sated then, quiet. Not gone, just quiet and still enough that it waits until I need it again.

Drive is something that allows us to achieve our goals and sometimes achieve things we had never dreamed of. I believe it is a necessary part of achieving a successful writing career and of achieving any sort of dream. I am thankful to have it and would not want to be any other way than I am. Writing is not a hobby for me. Never has been and never will be. I have the drive which will take me there. The part I must learn is to balance that drive and to live a more healthy lifestyle. That is the challenge that I see. Typing these words my next thought is, challenge, now you have set the challenge. And this… this is the beginning of setting any sort of goal for which you will need drive.

Oh yes. I have this drive. It just needs some direction, a goal to point it to.

I have drive.

The Five-minute Book Review and Why You Should Write One

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The five-minute book review and why you should write one.

Why should you write a five-minute review? Why am I asking you to write one?

Because you liked the story. Because it helps the author. Because it might lead to the author having another story out which you might like as well or better. Because if you don’t you may not find another book by this author. Or a book similar to this one, in the same genre or writing style. Authors sometimes switch to other types of stories and low reviews and low sales are one reason why.

Reviews are getting harder and harder to get. I am hearing this from traditionally published authors as well as Indies and hybrid authors like myself.

Have you ever had a favorite food, brand, or store? Maybe it was one of your favorite things but suddenly the store no longer carries the food or brand or the store is no longer in business. I’ve had this happen to me. It left me wondering what happened when I liked it so much.

This can happen to books and their authors as well. Books need reviews. Fewer reviews mean fewer sales. That hurts authors. It hurts their books. And it hurts you, the reader, because that author you like, that book you like, and they may not stay around long if you don’t support them.

Can you speak up for the things you like? And I do not mean clicking like on your face book feed. I mean taking five minutes out of your day to write a short review, which basically says hey I liked this book. A few sentences. One paragraph.

So you’re not a “book reviewer”. Well neither am I. But each of us can say in simple language hey, I liked this book. Or hey I liked it but I wish it had more of this thing. Or I am not sure what to think of this book. Or even this was not my cup of tea but it was well written. Or even I didn’t care for this book and this is why. Just the honest truth of what you think of the book. That’s all. One simple review. A few sentences. Five minutes.

One sentence. I liked this book.

Two sentences. I enjoyed this book. I hope to read more by this author.

See how easy that is? Simple. Might take you less than five minutes.

Five minutes. You can do it. I bet you can even write a better review than one of my examples.

And if you do write a short review, I thank you for it. On behalf of every author and every book you review I thank you for it. We need you. We love you. We appreciate you.

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If you would honor me with a review here are two sites for where it’s easy to do that.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2279340.Debra_Parmley

The Author Reader Connection – Thoughts From The Daughter Of A Newspaper Man

The author reader connection, how do we create it? How do we create any sort of good connection between people? Allow me to teach you what my father taught me.

I am the daughter of a newspaperman. Ink is in my blood.

My father worked all his life for the Springfield News and Sun in Springfield, Ohio selling advertising. I grew up watching him create ads on his drafting board, watching him deliver proofs. Every Saturday he took me with him on his rounds. Sometimes late at night he would take me down to the paper to watch the presses run. Ink is in my blood. From the letters of the typesetter, to the large round rolls of paper, to the production line of folding and inserting the Sunday inserts, all this went into the raising of this author. Even now I can close my eyes to see and hear and catch the scent of the newspaper being produced, being born. The stories of our lives went into that paper and the advertisements were what made that possible. Ads could also tell a story. That of businesses opening, businesses being passed down in a family, or businesses closing.

If you are an author, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find blogs, articles and books written about marketing your book, PR for authors, what to do to gain readers. It would be easy to spend enormous amounts of time and money chasing this subject. The goal of all this is to get those sales numbers up and sell more books. Authors need their books to sell if they are to make a living as authors, not dishwashers. Readers need authors to write those books so they will have new fiction to enjoy. Like the newspaper mentioned above, the selling of books is intricately tied to the writing of them and the production of them before the reader can sit back and enjoy that story in their hands.

Like it or not, whether you are a writer or a reader, there must be a way to sell books. Which means selling. There are those who are born salespeople and those who are not. Those who are may love the art of the sale. Many of us have to work harder at it.

Not long after I moved to the Memphis area I took a job selling advertising for the Collierville Herald, a weekly newspaper. Yes, I was following in my father’s footsteps though he worked for a daily newspaper and this was a weekly. I was hired to bring in all new accounts, not given a territory and I was on straight commission. Let me tell you now that was damn hard. Challenging and in many ways exciting and stimulating, but also damn hard because I am a writer, an introvert. I worked hard to bring in new clients and by the end of the year I had built my sales up to match the sales of their top salesperson. I’m still proud of that, but it took a lot out of me and I got very little writing done that year. I did learn a lot about selling and about why my dad was such a good salesperson, continually winning bonuses and top sales person awards at the paper.

Have you ever been around a salesperson who got on your nerves? I’ve been around a lot of them. There are things I didn’t like about selling, such as those business mixers where everyone is handing around business cards and you know the only reason someone is handing you their card is to sell you something while they barely glance at yours. Most of those cards are going to get tossed in the trash, sometimes before the person ever leaves the building. The room is full of salespeople hungry for a sale. I had a unique position at those events because by running an ad with me I could help them make those sales. But still there would be the sizing you up, the glance at that card and sometimes the discard. I call this discarding people and it is one of the things I dislike the most about salespeople. That I cannot sell to you therefore I discard you mentality.

That is not how my father sold advertising. He was a man who truly cared about people, as people. Not as an ends to a means, as way to make those sales. He was there to help them sell whatever they were advertising and he would have been the first to tell them if he thought something wouldn’t work and what might be better. When he retired, his advertisers liked him so much they didn’t want to lose him, nor did the paper, so he came back to work for them part time, delivering proofs. My father knew every person who worked at that newspaper, in even the smallest of jobs, and he always remembered their names. The complete opposite of the type of salesperson who would discard you mentally, to my father everyone mattered, sale or not. He was a man who was well loved by many.

It’s interesting that with all the marketing and sales “buzz words” I’ve heard in my lifetime, I am finally hearing sales is about relationships. Something my father either knew many years ago, or it was such a part of his personality he never thought about it, just did it. Finally the sales gurus out there have figured out selling is about relationships and they are starting to apply this approach to the art of selling.

I had a great example in my dad and it carries over into all areas of life, selling being just one of them. People matter. Relationships matter.

I’ve spent a few years trying this thing and that to sell my books and have come to realize the things I enjoy most are those which allow me to engage with my readers on a more personal level. Because of that, I prefer to attend smaller events, which allow me to meet and talk to readers on a more personal level. One of my greatest joys is hearing from readers and I treasure every email. I read every review on Goodreads and they make me smile. Without such things as reader emails and reviews it’s hard for an author to know what readers do and don’t like about their stories. So I am always thankful for the opportunity for feedback.

The balancing act is taking part in events, which allow me to connect with readers in person and balancing that with my writing time. I no longer try to wear more hats than that, because I am the only one who can write my books. I have a PR firm and they handle my social media, PR and marketing, which allows me more time to write.

What can you as an author do to connect with readers and to sell more books?

1.) Write the best book you can and then write another and another…..

2.) Anything which is not writing your book…. is not writing your next book.

3.) Beware the time suck, which is the Internet, and limit the time you spend there. (Set an egg timer or your phone alarm to gain control of this.) Selling should be a fraction your time because if you spend too much time selling your book you’ll get behind on writing the next one.

4.) Find someone to partner with you on selling your book. Selling is a skill set not everyone has and what works for one will not work for another. What is your publisher doing to help you sell books? If they are getting a percent of the profit, they should be doing something other than just producing it. If you are running an ad somewhere, is there a co-op program? Can you partner with other others in an ad? Build relationships within the publishing industry to help you sell your books. Try something new and if that does not work, try something else.

4.) Continually ask yourself what your readers want. What do they enjoy? How can you best serve your reader? Your bottom line should never become more important than your readers.

5.) Building a reader base takes time. Building a relationship takes time. Writing books takes time. With each book you are building your base. Make that as solid as you can.

6.) Never let making a sale become more important than the people you are trying to sell to.

Always remember that people matter. Relationships matter. Perhaps in the end, this is all that matters.

Please do leave comments. I love to hear from you.

Love and light,

Debra

This post is dedicated to my father.

Thank you John (Jack) Bishop for everything you taught me. Infinite love and gratitude. I will miss you.