Monday, January 17, 2011

Be My Guest - Linda Faulkner

Thanks for allowing me to visit today, Maryann.  I really enjoy your blog and am thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute.

One of the things I’ve learned in the past couple of years is that most of us writers have talents we’ve never tapped into.  Sure, we can write.  But we tend to stick to the same genres and formats.  Novelists don’t often write short stories; poets usually avoid crime fiction; and children’s authors seldom write erotica.

Stretching ourselves, however, helps hone our writing skills and, quite often, adds more money to our bank accounts.

I made this discovery by accident but it does emphasize the fact that writers write.  For a number of reasons I won’t bore you with, I found myself not having the time to write fiction from about 1994 to 2004.  That doesn’t mean, however, I didn’t write.  Without realizing it, I had incorporated my passion for writing into my day job:  workflows, forms, training and procedures manuals, magazine articles, a newspaper column, and educational texts.

It was in trade that I first became published and the skills I learned writing magazine articles and technical texts helped my fiction writing tremendously.  By necessity, I cut back on needless words and wrote tighter.  Deadlines became a fact of life, not something I flirted with or avoided.  Being asked to edit and/or revise became commonplace and no longer assaulted my ego.

Because of the money I’m earning at my technical and freelance writing, I’ve been able to sell one insurance business and devote the rest of my professional time to the insurance education business—and the writing and teaching I do for it.

Oh, and did I mention all that freelance writing netted me a contract to write a business book?  It’s the first in a series and I had a ball writing it.  I’m outlining the next book and it’s even more fun.

The more we writers open ourselves to new experiences and ways to hone our craft, the more successful we become.  And, by the way, my personal measure of success is being happy doing what I do.  As a writer, being able to spend the majority of my time writing—regardless of the topic or genre—makes me about as happy as I’m ever gonna be!

I highly recommend that writers do serious research into all avenues of pursuing a writing career.  It’s amazing how much opportunity is out there.

~~~~~~

Linda is a prolific writer who has published fiction, non-fiction, and technical writing in a number of genres and formats.  In addition to spending over 30 years in the insurance industry as an education provider, insurance agency owner, insurance consultant, and founder/owner of three insurance businesses, Linda has been writing since childhood.

Her mystery, Second Time Around, was released in January 2009 and was nominated for a 2010 EPIC Award.  Her non-fiction book titled, Taking the Mystery Out of Business: 9 Fundamentals for Professional Success was released earlier this month.

As an entrepreneur and the founder of four businesses, Linda Faulkner knows all about what it takes to make it in the world of business. She's discovered that professional suicide is caused more by a lack of awareness than any other factor, hence her motto:  "Clueless is a dangerous place to be."

24 comments:

Maryann Miller said...

Since I was hoping we could get some marketing advice while you are visiting, Linda, I'll kick it off with a question. What is the biggest mistake writers make when it comes to marketing?

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Maryann, Thanks for hosting me on your blog these past few days. I'm enjoying myself immensely and appreciate having the opportunity to promote my new book.

Off the top of my head, I'd have to say that as a group, writers tend to believe marketing is not part of their job description. Then again, a lot of writers don't understand what marketing really is.

In Chapter 4 of my book, I write about Essential Business Knowledge, which contains a section titled Selling, Marketing, Networking, and Advertising. Hre's a quote from the book, "Each of these four functions takes place on its own and, simultaneous, is an element of a larger, more collaborative function. For businesspeople to achieve the pinnacle of success, they must understand and master all functions."

Most of us have a clear picture of the definitions of selling, advertising, and networking. The definiton of marketing is not quite so clear.

In a nutshell, marketing is "the act of selling or purchasing in a market." It's also "the technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or a service."

If a writer does not promote, sell, or distribute her own work; if a writer doesn't REGULARLY have a plan to do each of those tasks--then she's not marketing. If she's not paying someone else to market for her, it's not getting done.

Which means that her books will sell accidentally: as in, sure, the occasional person will stumble across them and make a purchase but the majority of people won't even know they're available.

Sorry to lecture, but I am passionate about this subject. Of course, having spent over thirty years in my "day job" selling and marketing, it comes naturally to me.

Any other questions?

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks, Linda. I hope some other folks stop by with questions.

LINDA FAULKNER said...

I'll keep checking in, Maryann.

Terry Odell said...

Although I figured marketing was part of the deal, I had no clue how MUCH marketing an author with a small press has to do without the publisher's clout behind her.

And now, we've got piracy to deal with, which is what we've been discussing at my blog today.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Terry, You make good points. Thanks for visiting.

Even with the backing of a big, NY publisher, an author still needs to do marketing. It's amazing how easy it is to spread the word about what you're doing, and how other people help spread the word.

Ginger Simpson said...

I believe in Marketing and I try to do as much as I can to keep my name and books in the public eye, but my question...with so many other authors posting excerpts and links to blogs, etc, what can I do that makes me stand out among the rest. Marketing and Promotion remind me of the proverbial needle in a haystack. I'm the needle and my competition is the haystack. I cannot find the right route to tap into readers. Any suggestions. It's not that I'm tired of talking to my peers, but I'd like to branch out a bit.

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Hi, Ginger, thanks for visiting.

To answer your question, your marketing plan has to revolve around two major things: 1) What do your customers want and 2) What is it you can give your customers that your competitors can't give them?

You are one of many, many writers. Your customers are the people who read the kind of stuff you write. In order to market effectively, you first have to learn precisely waht your readers want. This will take some time and effort, but it's the basis of your marketing plan.

Then, you have to consider yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, and just what you're willing to do to give your readers the best reading experience you can. Yes, writing the book is the first step. But the way you present yourself to them must be different and unique.

You also need to be sure you're presenting yourself to people who are likely to a) read your book, or b) promote it. If you write romance, you don't want to spend a lot of time promoting yourself to sports writers--unless they know a bunch or romance readers and are willing to help you promote yourself to them.

You might want to check out this author marketing website, it contains lots of good information:
http://www.amarketingexpert.com/articles/

Hope this info helps!

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions, Linda. I will keep asking authors to come by tomorrow, too, if that is okay.

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Maryann, I enjoyed answering your readers' questions today and will be happy to answer more tomorrow. I'll be available in the morning and the evening - am spending the afternoon travelling for a 2-day business trip.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I'm coming to the discussion late, but I appreciate the advice. For many of us who write, marketing and promotion don't come easily.
But small presses aren't going to do much in the way of book promotion. So I guess we
must learn marketing skills or remain unknown.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE INFERNO COLLECTION
THE DROWNING POOL
TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS
STACY'S SONG

Morgan Mandel said...

I do like to stretch and write different things, but haven't been doing it where the money is. I'd like to try this, and probably will, but first I have some WIPs that I really want to get finished.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Dorothy McFalls said...

Hi Linda,

Thank you for you advice so far.

Can you offer one thing that in your opinion is the most effective to get the word out a new book? I'm launching a new genre, new series with Berkley Prime Crime in May under a new pen name, and I'm afraid no one will know about it. I'm anxious to get the word out.

Dorothy St. James
Flowerbed of State, May 2011

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Jacqueline: Unfortunately, you've got that right!

Morgan: Good luck when you stretch yourself!

Dorothy: I'd say to let all the fans of your previous stuff know what you're up to. Some writers think that because they write using pen names, they should promote different incarnations of themselves as different people. I don't agree--unless you don't want the world to knw you write romance as Linda Lovely. Even if fans of your other books don't read this new genre, if they liked your other books, they're fans and they'll spread the word.

One thing to keep in mind is this: a customer is a customer. I've found that many of my mystery readers (who aren't the least bit interested in business) are buying my business book ... and then giving it as a gift to people they know. And the people who've been buying my business book are buying mysteries to give as gifts for the same reason!

I always carry postcards for both my books, which are written under two different versions of my name. I've found that having two different types of books to promote and offer has twice the impact, and twice the potential to uncover new fans.

Good luck!

Maryann Miller said...

Dorothy, I'd like to add to what Linda said in response to your question about launching a new series. Don't discount the value of doing online promoting by doing guest posts on blogs, which is what Linda and my guest tomorrow are doing. Then there is also a book blog tour where you schedule a week or two of guest posts with links from one to the other. This is a good way to reach people who are not already fans of your work.

Katie Hines said...

I really agree with Linda. I wrote for a couple different newspapers for a couple of years, and it helped my fiction writing tremendously. There's nothing that can replace the deadlines that have to be made, the revisions needed, and writing tight because you have only so many words in a column.

Joyce Yarrow said...

Thanks for sharing your expertise, Linda. I've been reading the report on "The Mystery Book Consumer" prepared by Sisters in Crime and it's fascinating. You can find the complete report on their web site. Here's an interesting excerpt:

• Browsing bookshelves is no longer the only way readers become aware of mystery titles.
• Book clubs such as Mystery Guild remain one of the top ways readers become aware of mystery titles.
• The majority of mystery buyers
over 45 are not influenced by online marketing.
• Mystery buyers under the age of 40can be influenced by online marketing.
• Readers in their 40’s are more likely to buy e-books than any other age group.
• For mystery readers, liking the character is more important than for readers of general fiction.

I'm going to focus on the last item and start promoting my books more as a series instead of focussing just on the last release.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks for weighing in on the topic Joyce and Katie. This has really been a good discussion of several aspects of writing and marketing, and I have picked up some tips that are helpful. I appreciate everyone who has contributed. Linda may be back again this evening to respond to comments.

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Maryann was right ... I'm back!

Katie, A lot of non-fiction writers and journalists agree with us. I also suspect that writers of fiction bring a host of other talents to their non-fiction in the same way--just the opposite. They probably bring a bit more poetry to their descriptions and a bit more imagination to their turns of phrase. By the way, I love when people agree with me, so thanks! :)

Joyce: Thanks so much for the information you shared. At first, I was surprised by the statistic that people over age 40 are more apt to buy eBooks than any other age group. Then I counted on my fingers the folks my age (way over 40) who got Kindles and Nooks for Christmas and, after running out of fingers, I'm not surprised any more!

Congrats on coming up with an innovative way to market that works for YOU. Each of us needs to think outside everyone else's box. What works for me works because of my personality and a bunch of other stuff specific to me. It may not work for you. And vice versa.

PUBLIC APPEAL: Once you ladies have tried a new or innovative marketing approach, let me know if it worked and why it did or didn't.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing. We writers have to stick together!

Maryann Miller said...

This has been great, thanks for coming back and wrapping it all up for us, Linda. I do love the fact that all the writers I have met online are so willing to share information and leads. Thanks to all.

Dorothy McFalls said...

Thank you Maryann and Linda! I don't visit many blogs. The information in this one, however, has been invaluable.

LINDA FAULKNER said...

Thanks, Dorothy. I'm glad our information was helpful. Maybe we can convert you to a blogger!

Maryann Miller said...

Dorothy, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words about the blog and Linda's contribution.

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