Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Coloring Contests & Captain America

Maneuvering through today's marketing world requires finesse, creativity, and maybe a collection of dorky tee shirts. Luckily, I have kind friends who've helped me to set up a website, arrange author events, and connect with readers both on- and off-line. (Thanks, friends!)
I've learned something from those much more wise friends of mine. The key to marketing is keeping everything fresh. Blog posts, status updates, traditional book signings and other author events, etc. 

After arranging a couple of book signings, my marketing guru Raylynn Sleight suggested holding a coloring contest at the same time. My kindergarten teacher brain flipped into high gear, visualizing unsupervised children graphitti-ing every possible surface. 

“They have a kids area," she reminded me calmly. “But we don't have to do it if you don't want to.”

My teacher brain shut up for a second. My inner problem-solver filled the void. “Maybe we could do an online contest too?”

That did it. We located free Beauty & the Beast coloring pages online, nabbed crayons from my classroom, and gathered all my regular book signing paraphernalia. Raylynn designed custom posters and graphics to promote the signings online and at the various locations. (Have I mentioned how awesome she is?)

The technique worked beautifully at the signing, which was held during Friday Night Art Stroll in Ogden. Engaging kids in an activity while chatting up their parents--which was exactly what Raylynn had envisioned--was more fun than I could have anticipated. (And no, there were no crayon mishaps.) In addition to a successful sales event, involving social media in choosing the winner was a fabulous plan. I haven't had so much interaction and discussion in a long time! So much fun!

The next author event was a signing at Salt Lake Comic Con with several other Cedar Fort authors. We needed something to encourage super fans to stop long enough to chat with them about our books. After much deliberation, we settled on a prize wheel. It gave us a reason to call people over and offer freebies, but what really kept them chatting with us was the fact that all of us were friendly published authors. Some sales were made based on that alone. (Seriously thought, if you can't find any talking points at Comic Con, you need to watch more movies and read more books/comics. Because Captain America!)

These two events went quite well, but sometimes things won't work as well. Stay positive and learn from the experience. Spend more time thinking about the people who will be attending and cater to them for the next event. Just because you don't sell many books doesn't mean you are a crap author with nothing to offer. (That last bit was for me. *hangs head in shame*) At the last author event Raylynn and I set up, I sold very few books, but I made some fabulous connections. 

Here's my nugget of wisdom: the only time an author endeavor is a failure is when we give up. So, carry on and keep writing and schmoozing! It's good for you.

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