EP25: The M Word | Shannon Mayer

We welcome back Shannon Mayer for the third and final part of our epic interview with her and we finally tackle something that can put the fear of death into many authors… Marketing.

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Episode Highlights:

In this episode you will discover…

  • The one piece of marketing that makes the biggest difference to your sales
  • Why writing on your vacation is okay
  • How you can grapple with the scary technical stuff
  • And why interacting with your readers is so important

Books Mentioned

Links featured in today’s show:

  • Bestseller Experiment’s Vault of Gold. Sign up to get your free Writer’s ebook
  • Question Mark: Have a question you want answered on the show? Click here.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (HIGHLIGHTS)

We welcome back Shannon Mayer for the third and final part of  our epic interview with her and we finally tackle something that can put the fear of death into many authors… Marketing.

Writing is only half the job for you, isn’t it?

The biggest thing is that this is a business and needs to be treated as such, which means you have to understand the marketing side of things in order to make it work. One of the things I learned very early on when I was studying the industry was you should be building your platform two years before your book ever hits the shelves. I took that to heart, because I didn’t have any books out, and I made a little Facebook fan page and I started to blog, and I did what I could at the time. I started on Twitter, all these little accounts. It taught me something right there. I saw that advice repeated over and over again, and it stuck with me that this marketing side of it is important.

Because I had my own business in the past — shoeing horses, which is very different, but it’s still client-based — I understood that I had to find ways to reach new clients.

 

I started to pay attention to the industry, I started to read articles, I started to pay attention to other authors who were doing very well. And, where I could network with them, I started to ask them questions and that was where I started to understand the marketing side of things.

How do you split your time between writing writing and marketing?

Probably close to fifty-fifty. Some days I might spend all day writing, but then the next day I may spend the whole day marketing. What has to be done with the marketing usually has to be done within a very short period of time, whereas the writing I can move around. I might write at 11 o’clock at night till 2 or 3 in the morning, depending on scheduling.

You’re a night writer?

It depends. I have a little guy who’s two years old, so it depends on how he’s sleeping. Sometimes I get up early, 4.30-5 o’clock, and I’ll write during that time period. I’m all over the map. Whenever I have time, that’s when I write.

You must have incredible time management.

One of the things I’ve learned as a business owner running my own small publishing house is that I can’t do it all by myself, so the trick is to hire people and work with people who can do things better than you. I have a phenomenal assistant. She runs most of my marketing and PR, she runs my newsletter. She’s my right hand gal, and probably without her I might die. I also have childcare lined up for my little guy. My husband has his own small business that he runs, so I can call on him, but the trick really is to hire people who can do it. I can all the marketing and PR, I know how to do all of it, but I’m not quick at it, and I know there are other people who can do it better. The reality is that what I’m good at is writing.

You must have had to do the marketing when you were starting out?

Absolutely. And that’s what I mean, I can do it all. If my assistant left me I could pull up my boots and I could do all of the stuff that I used to, it would just eat up a huge amount of my time. In terms of starting off with marketing, a Facebook fan page, I find that, for me, a lot of my readers hang out on Facebook. It used to be Twitter was a really big thing. I’ve found that there’s been a marked drop off in terms of connections made there. Now you’ll see Tweets about, ‘Buy my book, my book’s on sale, free book,’ and that’s not marketing, that’s just advertising. It’s two different things.

Pinterest is another thing that’s growing. Having your own newsletter list. There’s multiple ways to grow that newsletter list. Understanding and learning how to run Facebook ads. If you’re really clever and know how to do Google ads, for some authors that’s a great venue to be bringing in the marketing. And then recognising that part of your marketing is being engaged in social media with your readers. Readers talk, readers become part of your marketing machine, if you will, because they will say, ‘I had this five minute conversation in private messages with Shannon and she gave me some insight into some part of the book that I didn’t understand.’ Then they tell their friends, who think that’s odd for an author to actually interact personally. They really like it. That’s one of the big changes in the industry.

How do you deal with that when your fanbase gets really big?

For me, a huge number of my readers are on Facebook, and so they go to my fan page and they leave comments and I do try to answer all of them, if not, almost all of them. Every genre has a different type of reader, I’ve found that if you’re a heavy romance reader you’re much more interested in that everyday interaction with that romance author that you like. They have a much larger number of potential readers in that fanbase. Because I’m in a niche market, I have great, loyal fans, but they’re not necessarily looking to interact with me on a daily basis. I do have some that I’ve developed friendships with and I really enjoy speaking with them and they message once in a while, but not to the degree that other authors will see.

You have to decide for yourself, as an author, at what point you can no longer answer messages and emails, because there does come that point where there’s not the time in the day anymore.

 

What piece of marketing makes the biggest difference for you?

Growing my newsletter list is really important. That’s the one thing that, no matter what changes in the industry, that’s yours. Those are your readers, those are your fans. Let’s say Amazon changes their algorithms, or the way they sell books, and you can no longer reach readers the way you were able to reach them yesterday on Amazon, but you still have your newsletter list. It’s a great safety net, and I think it’s a really great way to keep in contact with your readers, and for them to be able to see what’s going on. I feel that a lot of readers don’t recognise when a new book is coming out. I have some authors that I absolutely love, and quite often I only check in with them every six months, ‘Oh my goodness, they’ve got six new books out,’ and I go grab them. But, if I was on a newsletter list, I’d be more up to date on those sorts of things.

How do you keep people engaged with the newsletter?

My newsletter list has been built a few different ways. One is just kind of organic. There’s always links in the back of my eBooks people can click on and sign up right away. In some cases there’s exclusive content offered, if they sign up at the end of certain books. In other cases I’ve given away free eBooks to help just give them an option to meet me as an author and see if they like what I’m putting out there. I always have on my website an option for them to sign-up organically.

A lot of this sounds technical and could be baffling for some authors. What advice can you give for anyone having doubts about their ability to do this?

It’s the foundation of my business. You take the time to figure out how to do it. I would die without my assistant. She’s fantastic, and I keep saying that because I want her to hear this and stay with me forever. I learned all of those steps in the beginning. I learned how to build a blog, which you can do through various sites quite easily nowadays. I learned how to use Twitter, I learned how to run a Facebook fan page, and while she does those things for me now, it’s important to learn that from a business standpoint. You want to be able to correct them, if you have help, but also because nothing is forever. Pick one thing. Learn how to do a Facebook fan page, and start building that and that’s what you learn for the next few weeks. Pull up a blog and learn how to run a blog, writing articles, and building a fanbase there. You don’t have to it all at once. I didn’t. It looks like I’ve done it all at once because I’ve only been writing full time for three years, but prior to that I was learning the industry, I was learning how to run Twitter, I was learning how to write blogs that were more interactive, I was learning how to network with other authors in order to help each other build fanbases.

It’s a process. It’s not something you’re going to learn overnight. It’s a long race, not a short jump.

 

Can you remember the first day someone signed-up to your newsletter?

It was probably my sister! I really enjoy  the marketing now. I enjoy the brainstorming of coming up with new ideas to reach new readers. I enjoy looking at where I was to where I am now, and that growth period, and how can we continue to grow? Such a huge part of this business is business. I’ve always enjoyed stretching that side of me to see what else I can accomplish. I always set goals that, to other people, may sound ridiculous, but if you set those high goals you have a chance of hitting them, and if you miss them, you won’t miss them by much, and you certainly aren’t going to hurt yourself by making those steady, growing goals. Just do a little bit whenever you can. You learn it, and it’ll get easier and you’ll start to enjoy it.

Would you be bold enough to say that without the marketing, you’ll never have a bestseller?

In the indie world, I agree. I know several authors who are far above me in talent. I’ve read their books, they’re phenomenal, very well-written, well-edited, great cover art, but marketed terribly. They cannot find a bestseller list for the life of them, and you can only help people so much. In one case, they refused to work on weekends. I think that’s great, but the reality is I work seven days a week. I don’t take days off. It’s actually very difficult for me. If I take days off, I get a little squirly.

This is not a normal job. You’re not going to get Monday to Friday, nine-to-five. You’re going to get twenty-four-seven, fifty-two weeks out of the year, you’re going to work on Christmas.

 

Holidays come up and everybody says, ‘Why is it so busy? It’s Monday,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, why is it so busy? Oh! It’s a holiday.’ I don’t recognise those things anymore. There’s a lot of authors out there, with a lot of talent, and a lot of great stories, and they’re just sitting in mediocrity in terms of sales because they can’t find their footing in the marketing side of things.

I have a couple of really great Facebook groups, with a number of other very successful indie and hybrid authors, and what I enjoy most about those groups is seeing that I’m not the only weirdo working that hard. These authors are on vacation, they’re on the beach in Mexico or Hawaii, and they’ve got their laptop on their lap while their kids are playing in the surf. They’re sitting in a Starbucks in a city where they’ve gone to visit family, and they’ve gotten away from their family to work. There’s just no stop in it.

For those who want the success and who want to break out, they find a way.

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Mark D

Mark Desvaux (coach, bestselling recording artist, entrepreneur and author) is living the life of his dreams and works with people looking to live to their true potential and make a difference in the world.

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