Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Twenty-Five: Starla Huchton
Once again, I have a guest! I would like you all to welcome Starla Huchton to the Captain’s Chair!
Want to know a little about Starla? YES, YOU DO!
A geek of all trades, Starla Huchton has been crafting stories in various genres since 2007. Her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread was released as a full cast audiobook podcast, becoming a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. After releasing short fiction of steampunk, noir fantasy, and other varieties, she released the first three books of the Sci-Fi Romance Endure series in 2013. All three books of the Evolution series will be released in 2014, as well as a Steampunk Fantasy novel, Master of Myth (the Antigone’s Wrath series, book 1), which was the first place winner of the Crested Butte Writers’ contest, The Sandy, in 2012.
When not writing, Starla trains three Minions, a black lab, and a military husband whilst designing book covers for independent authors and publishers at Designed By Starla.
Now, how’s about we get into the post itself? It’s a good one and one every author should read and pay attention to. Enjoy!
The Digital Marketing Mystery
At Balticon on Memorial Day weekend, I spent the entirety of Saturday on panels talking about marketing stuff. I knew from the previous year that so much of that audience had never heard of some of the marketing techniques that were old news when I started writing in the romance genre. After last year’s obvious knowledge gap, it became my goal to share some of these digital marketing tools so that other authors might be able to take advantage of some of them. As others have helped me on my authorial journey, I’m compelled to pass this on to others, sharing knowledge as it was shared with me. Because I’m blessed with knowing so many fantastic authors, they’re generous enough to let me tiptoe onto their platforms sometimes to do this. Thanks, Jake!
That said, here are a few things I’ve done in the last year that could easily be transferred or modified to fit any genre of book:
1) Teaser Tuesday. Every week, authors share little snippets of works-in-progress, upcoming releases, or existing releases, usually under the #TeaserTuesday hashtag. Sometimes it’s an entire first chapter, sometimes it’s a single scene, sometimes only a paragraph. This can be done on a blog post or Facebook or Google+ for longer excerpts, but for something shorter for Twitter, there’s the handy dandy…
2) Teaser picture. This is a fun visual that romance writers use to whip their readers into a slight frenzy. This is exceptionally true for follow-on books in a series. For romance, you see a lot of hot guy/girl photos, but not always. Essentially all you need is an interesting image that’s applicable to your story and a short snippet of text from it, along with pertinent book information (title, author, release date if it’s not out, or a sale price if it’s on special somewhere). Even if you’re not a Photoshop expert, there are free and easy tools to accomplish this. Canva.com has free backgrounds and tons of other tools to do this on the cheap, but if you’re uploading your own image to the background, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHTS TO THE PHOTO. Just because you can find an image for free on Google, doesn’t give you the right to use it in an advertisement.
Here are examples of my teaser pictures, including one I did for a scavenger hunt for a Facebook event using canva.com for something quick (last one).
3) Facebook events. Authors and bloggers will create events on Facebook for new releases, cover reveals, book release anniversaries, or even reaching however many likes on their Pages. This is an excellent opportunity to get your name out in front of someone else’s audience who might be interested in your work. Now, I don’t mean you show up to these things and start spamming the event with buy links. The way it works best is if you’re offered a “guest host” slot. These typically range from 10-20 minutes and they fly by fast! When I participate in these events, I work up a few posts to share in advance. One, an intro post about me and my connection to the event’s creator. Two, a “contest” where I post a game of some sort (since I’m pushing superheroes right now, I make it a fun question like asking about favorite superhero pickup lines or what superpower they would want), from which a random winner is chosen from the comments to win a prize from me (typically an ebook or something like bookmarks or magnets or all of the above). Third is a post with a link to the book I’m currently promoting, with something engaging to say to the audience. There are two things that will engage an audience with almost certainty: humor and things on the steamy side. Unless you’re writing romance, I’d probably go with humor. Fourth (if there’s time for it), I post a teaser picture (see above), tailored to the audience. The last thing I post is a thanks to the host and a link to somewhere the attendees can find me, usually my Facebook Author Page. Keep in mind that you should plan to be there both before and after your time slot to get the audience interested before you promote, and hang around to respond to comments when you’re done. I do these things because I enjoy them, but readers love getting to know the creators of the books they’re reading. It can be time-consuming, but if they’re emotionally invested in you, they’re more likely to give your book a chance.
4) Connect with other authors. These people can help you grow your audience by sharing your releases, covers, and other interesting things related to you. I’m not telling you to find these people for the singular purpose of leeching off of their audience (this is way gross, so don’t), but if you’re genuinely interested in who they are, what they do, and how they do it, spend time getting to know them. Make friends. If they like you, and they think your work would appeal to their audience, they’re far more likely to lend you a hand. The key here is building a relationship. It’s important. And always, always be on the lookout for any ways you can help them, too (both in advance and in return). Lift as you climb. Share knowledge. I can’t tell you how huge a difference one new connection can make, and you never know who will see your name. Make sure your first impression is a good one. Basically, just be nice. People are stronger together than on their own.
5) Find something of wide interest and tie it to your books. I post a lot of superhero stuff (it helps I’m interested in it anyway), to the point where a lot of my author/reader/blogger friends have started tagging me for anything and everything superhero related on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not complaining about being branded as “the superhero girl”, especially as that pertains to the series I’m releasing the last of in July, but it makes me chuckle every time. It doesn’t really feel “gimmicky” to me as I honestly like the shared things, so if you go that route, don’t force it. If you’re writing an entire book on the premise of futuristic tech, or horse breeding, or a certain historical period, chances are you’re interested in that anyway. Share the odd things you research. Whatever that interest is, make it yours, and let everyone know about it.
Those are the biggest things I’ve done in the last year that have had real, measurable results. It’s basically all about engaging and interacting with people. Approaching them humbly and presenting something interesting or funny will get you far.
And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’d be amazed at what the people around you know. I’m always up for sharing what I know with others. You can find me any time, in any of these places:
My blog: http://www.starlahuchton.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Starla-Huchton-Author-Page/255657227797465
And there we have it, folks! That’s some solid advice and examples of what can work. Every author is different, and every author’s circle of fans and readers is different, but in this day and age it’s best to be knowing a little more about the digital domain of author/book marketing. Try some of this out and see how it works for you.
Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.
Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.
Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.
He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).
Posted on June 25, 2014, in Views From The Captain's Chair! and tagged fiction, future, genre, horror, indie publishing, Jake Bible, science fiction, scifi, self-publishing, traditional publishing, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.