Taylor Swift Can Teach Authors how to promote

 

 

You might not like her, but Taylor Swift knows a thing or two about promotion. The girl has reincarnated herself so often, it’s a wonder she hasn’t lost her entire fan base each time. But instead of drifting off into the sunset and popping up in another corner of the universe to be rediscovered, she’s learned how to drag her fans along like they’re stuck to her with superglue. And we’ve just carried on like it’s normal to drop out of sight completely for over a year, delete every photo on social media accounts, and then suddenly reappear with teasers so good and so…uh…weird….that it had us all wondering what was going on. But even though the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now because she’s dead, it turns out, she’s just a Phoenix.

 

 

Whether you like her or not, Taylor Swift has five surefire marketing quirks that she repeats over and over again, something authors could learn from. Aren’t we all tired of the Bookstagram photo/blog tour/giveaway schtick? Let’s take a page out of Taylor’s songbook and go for these FIVE fresh ideas to help us market our work!

 

 

SURPRISE YOUR FOLLOWERS

 

Okay, so I don’t have a book to promote, and I’m not great at styling photos. I don’t have a cute cat/dog/horse/kiddo to draw on the “awww” factor, either. What would Taylor do? (WWTD?)

 

 

She’d shock the heck out of us.

 

 

She’d send presents to people she’s been stalking on social media (because, seriously, don’t we all do that?), or set up a super secret reveal before anyone else gets their hands on it, just because it’s weird and interesting! Think about it…what would you rather see…another book cover, or a fun video or Instagram post featuring your followers? Honestly, I’d watch/read the whole thing, just because it was so out there!

 

 

FOLLOW UP A BOOK RELEASE WITH SOMETHING OTHER THAN A BOOK TOUR

 

Taylor Swift isn’t shy about promoting her newest music. But she doesn’t just drop the album and expect you to wait patiently for the videos that go with each single. No, she floods us with content. For “Reputation”, we are still seeing weekly videos of behind-the-scenes sessions writing and recording many of the albums best songs. Not only do we get a better sense of what the songs are about, or how difficult they were to write, we get to see more of Taylor herself. It’s a little lifeline into her otherwise celebrity world. So, how do we do the same with books? We aim for surprises.

 

 

They say that the more exposure your book has before and directly after its release plays a big part in sales. But flooding your feed with book reviews left on Goodreads, or pictures of your book in the wild really does nothing for anyone but you & the person who made the post. The rest of us? We scroll right on by. Seriously.

 

 

Plan a social media blitz BEFORE your book even comes out! Tease your fans–and use them as part of your marketing plan. Ask people to do something creative to mark their excitement around the book (a video review, act out a favourite scene, cook a food featured in the book…whatever. Only the best ones will be featured!) Then start collecting! A week or so after your book comes out, put together a montage of your favourites, and don’t forget to let fans know it’s coming. Set your social media account apart, and reward your fans with something unique. You could even do two or three so that no one gets left out.

 

 

Or make your own videos, a behind the scenes look at how you write, your favourite writing spaces, what inspired your book, or whatever you think your readers might want to know about. Don’t forget to include funny/flawed moments. Have you watched Taylor’s latest vids on YouTube? They’re mini-movies devoted entirely to the creation of each of her songs. She’s not dressed up, she makes plenty of mistakes, and she plays some things over and over until we’re ready to drop. It’s fun to see someone create, and it makes us feel like the person is just like us.

 

 

WRITE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU KNOW

 

 

Taylor is infamous for writing about her failed relationships. But it’s not just about what went wrong–she writes little glimpses of her life into her music that feel more like secrets she’s sharing with a friend than fodder. She’s good at it because she does it–a lot. And it keeps people guessing. And talking. That’s exactly what you want.

 

 

Now, I don’t mean that you need to start divulging all of your relationship woes on your daily blog, but the old saying “write what you know” is always more truthful than anything you could make up. The same can be done for people you see randomly (and I mean randomly….don’t write about your pharmacist or your paperboy). Write little imagined backstories about them, just like you would write a new character. It makes for extra post ideas when you’re too busy or stressed to find something interesting to write about, and a series of these could make a good collection in the future. Plus, it gets people coming back to your page.

 

 

PROMO OTHER PEOPLE

 

 

This isn’t the same as sharing a post from a favourite blog, or regramming a photo with credit. No. You follow people on social media that YOU find interesting, and there must be a reason for that. Share your enjoyment with others by doing a feature interview, a collection of interviews with people who have great stories or lives, or talk about authors that you love. A little promo never hurt anyone…and it doesn’t all have to be about books!

 

 

Taylor does this quite a bit by featuring artists on her albums that she admires. And if you’ve ever watched an interview with her, she often drops names of people or bands she’s listening to and can’t get enough of. And we’ve all seen her dancing in the front row of an awards show. Isn’t that the best advertising you could imagine from someone you respect?

 

 

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME

 

 

Does it really matter that some of the most interesting things T-Swift posts on social media are videos of her cats? Do you get tired of seeing impromptu dinner parties with her famous besties? Nope. It doesn’t matter that none of it has to do with her music. We’re seeing a bit of her life. (Okay, am I the only one who zooms in to see what kind of blanket  is on her bed, or what dishes she’s using every day?)

 

 

YOUR followers should be the same, whether you’ve written one book or twenty. They want to know more about YOU.  Sometimes, those little candid hair-up-in-a-messy-bun Insta-story photos are the best ones. They’re the real ones. And that’s who we’ve come to see. So give us that. Please…just once in a while.

 

 

This isn’t the typical promotion post for writers, but why be like everyone else? Stand out, my friend! I’ll remember you better that way.

 

 

heidi sinnett

 

 

 

Posted in creativity, Promotion | Tagged Comment

Endurance by Scott Kelly

 

 

 

Endurance. The word should be emblazoned on my forehead. I feel like it says everything about 2017.  I endured.

 

 

ENDURANCE by Scott Kelly won’t go on my list of best books for 2017, but it held my interest. I love space books (and mountain climbing books, and shark books, and just about anything that takes me someplace I’ll probably never go and could never do….really, I’m wimpy). But I love reading about all that stuff, and this one didn’t disappoint. It tells the story of US astronaut Scott Kelly and his journey to spending a year on the International Space Station.

 

 

If you’d like to know what it takes (if you have the Right Stuff, so to speak) to become an astronaut, and to excel, at that, then this book will give you all the feels. It wasn’t easy for Scott, and the title ENDURANCE adequately reflects the struggle. The book reads as an astronaut’s life should—full of confidence, swagger, and accomplishment. Would any other career read quite the same?  Hmmm…

Exactly.

 

 

But, seriously, isn’t endurance what we should ALL strive to achieve in our lives? Endurance isn’t just about enduring something, or getting through it…it’s about standing our ground and coping/working hard to come out on the other side, building up stamina to make it to the end. Working hard is good. It brings a sense of satisfaction, even if it doesn’t bring the “end goal” you’d like. Endure. Endure. Endurance is the art of enduring. She endures. I can work with that.

 

 

(If you came here looking for a book review of ENDURANCE, you can find it here on Goodreads.)

 

Maybe endurance should be my word of 2o18.

 

 

heidi sinnett

Posted in Book Review, creativity, My Life | Tagged Comment

planner notebooks

 

 

 

2017 was rough.

 

 

Like, barreling-down-the-highway-at-the-speed-of-light, jamming-on-the-brakes,hurtling-through-the-windshield rough.

 

 

But I survived, and 2018 is a chance for something different.

 

 

After a lot of reflection, I realized I haven’t been doing things for ME.

 

 

  • My library job fills a huge creative element that I need in my life. I love prepping for programs, doing crazy art displays, taking fun photos and doing social media…for work. It feels light, fun, a good reflection of me and how I want to do things.
  • But my personal creativity is at the other spectrum. It often feels forced, required, dark, made for the wrong reasons, and all about recognition. (Gotta get those likes/follows!)

 

My husband–the sweetheart who listens endlessly to me moan about this failure or that–gathered me up so many times this year and set me back on the right track. But after the umpteenth time, I think I really listened to what he was saying.

 

 

Do the thing that makes you float.

 

 

I wasn’t floating, not with my writing, or my crafts, or anything that was supposed to give me joy and relaxation and inspiration outside of work. I was just dragging on the ground. And then I came across this great quote from creative guru Austin Kleon:

 

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR DAYS TO LOOK LIKE?

 

Read his blog post–it goes into a lot of detail there as to how he started with this statement, but the idea is…if you need to make a decision, ask yourself the question, “What do you want your days to look like?” and figure out how to get there.

 

 

I thought this might be a simple idea. I started with wanting my days to be bright and sparkling. So, I bought some beach water blue sparkly paper, and thought I’d do something around that. I could:

 

 

  • take photos on it
  • use it as a background for a giant paper fishtank that I hang on my wall in my creative space
  • make things out of it, like crowns, or paper dresses, or…fish
  • cut letters out of it and post a big, sparkly quote on my wall

 

I can do all of those things, but it’s not the bigger picture I’m looking for. What do I want my days to look like?  I want to go to work inspired. I want to come home feeling like I’ve accomplished something. I want to have energy in the evenings to do things that fill me up and enjoy the few hours that I do them. I want to stop feeling tired and uninspired and stuck—and dragging on the ground. I want to make things that I like, and not care about what others think of them. I want to do more than one thing—that’s a big one.

 

 

Can I do this? No idea. But I have these little notebooks to help me start. Lists, ideas, exciting things to think about, what I read, what I watch, places I go.

 

 

Day one….I’m thinking about things, trying something new with what I’ve propped up behind me, and actively moving forward.  Goals. I need goals…..and a new glue gun.

 

 

heidi sinnett

Posted in creativity, My Life | Tagged Comment

Mom

 

 

 

Betsy and I couldn’t let this day go by without saying a few important things about our Mom.

 

While many didn’t know that her struggle was ongoing for the last twelve years–more predominantly the last two–we were the lucky ones to be able to spend this time caring for her, preparing for the inevitable, but enjoying every single minute we had with her. She was our whole world, and we were hers, and she never let her illness override that fact.

 

She loved her life—her home, her family, her church, her music, her work, and her friends. I’m sure every person who was touched by her generosity and love was better for it. I know we were. And even during this last week together, when it was darkest for all of us, she always greeted us with a smile and a warm hug and kiss (and usually dressed in a sparkly sweater, lipstick, and earrings–that hospital room will never be as glamorous again!)

 

We’re all doing okay—Dad, me, Todd, Betsy, Melody, Andre, and Carole. Today is going to be a rough one, but we’ll get through it together like we always do. We’ll probably have a snack (or 5) sitting at the kitchen counter together later, and yes, Mom, we’ll sweep the crumbs up off the floor.

 

Love you so much.

 

 

 

Posted in My Life Comment

I’d like to have the luxury of writing all day, but as Elizabeth Gilbert says in BIG MAGIC, you can be childish, or childlike when it comes to your creativity. I choose to be childlike.

 

 

What’s the difference? When you’re childish about a creative endeavor you absolutely must follow, you sacrifice everything in your life to do it, and that often means giving up the safety of a job to keep your dream alive. Of course, anyone who has a joyful relationship with creativity would love nothing more than to simply do that thing all the time—write, draw, dance, whatever. Can you imagine getting up each day with nothing ahead of you but the opportunity to do that thing? But to do that full time, you give up the security of knowing you can pay your bills, or you must rely on someone else to do that for you, which can put a real strain on a relationship. It’s like being a kid all over again—enjoying whatever you want to do without any responsibility, no matter what. Personally, I think that’s a terribly stressful way to live.  I choose to be childlike.

 

 

Being childlike in your creative pursuits is about enjoying what you love to do creatively, but having the means to support that effort, too. Yeppers, that means having a job. You don’t have to love that job–you just have to have it. It will be there to pay for food, buy you some new supplies, keep a roof over your head. It’s a security blanket, in a way. And it will allow you to enjoy the time you have for creating in a way you never could otherwise.

 

 

I’m lucky enough to love my day job as well as my writing life. I work five days a week, 8 hours a day as a children’s librarian and assistant librarian, and carve out time in between for everything else, including writing. My job is hectic, active, stressful sometimes because I deal with the public most of the time, but also creative, satisfying, and really interesting. I’m excited to go to work each day, but I’m also actively thinking about my other work, too. Having a job makes the time I write really special, because it’s all for me, and it feels like the dessert at the end of a meal.

 

 

So, what’s a typical day like for me?

  • 6:30am: Wake up, eat breakfast, get ready for work, clean kitchen etc.
  • 8:30am: Do any possible short errands before work. And if it’s Friday, I stop at Starbucks for a morning latte.
  • 9-11:30am: Run children’s programs, catch up on library emails, answer phones, update computers, print posters, send out advertisements for programs, visit daycares to do special storytimes, work on new library displays
  • noon-1pm: Run errands, grab a bite to eat, work on latest writing project for 30 minutes
  • 1-5:30pm: Run programs, prep for other programs, work on the main desk at the library, catalog books, weed the collection, answer/send library emails, supervise students, write reports, do program statistics and assessments, do outreach to schools or daycares
  • 5:30-7:00pm: Dinner, time with family, prep food, lunches for following day, special meals, clean
  • 7-9pm: Write/revise/plan
  • 9-10pm: TV
  • 10-11pm: reading, prepping clothes for next day, bedtime…..

 

I stick to a pretty similar schedule most days. While there are other days of the week that are very different (weekends, evening commitments etc.,), this is an ideal run down of a day. That’s not a lot of writing time–2.5 hours if all goes well, but I need the consistent schedule to allow me to function in a busy environment the next day, and still have enough energy to do the things I want to do. (Oh, to be 25 again!)

 

But I feel good about getting it all in. And I miss the writing time SO much if I can’t make it happen. It feels like a good balance to everything when I’m sitting at my computer pounding away on the keys, dropping into a world I’ve created. Hopefully, one day, you’ll get to see what I’ve spent all these years working on.

 

 

What is YOUR schedule like during the day?

 

 

heidi sinnett

 

Posted in My Life | Tagged Comment