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Hello and happy spring from Cat Hoort and Kregel Publications!

Question for you: have you found the jewels of Amazon?

I’m not talking about any lost treasure, rain forest, or river. I am, of course, referring to Amazon.com: the go-to online retailer that has made it easy for practically anyone anywhere to get our books. We know them as a retailer—a seller. But did you know they also market? Amazon offers several ways for you to interact with your readers—right there on your book’s product page. Here are a few “jewels” that are easy, accessible, and effective ways to market your book on Amazon:

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Headshot-Small Hi all!

I’m Cat Hoort. I hope you are all enjoying a sunny spring!

Recently, I wrote a post about the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook profile. The key difference between the two is purpose: the purpose of a profile is to communicate with friends/family whereas the purpose of a page is to promote your product to fans. If you’re like me, you probably started with a profile and (over time) have realized that the profile has been used for both business and personal endeavors. As a result, your personal contacts and your business contacts are all blurred together. Sound familiar?

One option to separate your personal and business contacts is to create a page and invite your business contacts to “like” you on that page, thus creating two different Facebook platforms organized by audience-type. If you’re not ready to create a page, however, what are your options? Is there anything you can do on your Facebook profile to help you start separating friends and business contacts?

Good news. The answer is YES.

It’s called a Friends List. The Friends List feature organizes your profile friends into categories assigned by you. Once a list is established, you can use it to speak directly and simultaneously to members of that list (but not to your other friends at the same time).

Here’s a quick guide on how to set up a Friends List:

1. Go to your profile. Under your profile picture, click the Friends link

2. Click Edit Friends box in the upper right of screen

3. Click Create a List

4. Name your list in the field that says “Enter a Name”

5. Add people to your list either by typing their name into the search box and/or by clicking on their name in the scroll down. If you have a lot of friends to choose from, scrolling through might take a while so searching for specific names might be easier (assuming you know the specific names you want to include).

6. Click Create List

To send a status update directly to that list (and only to that list), type a message into your status bar. BEFORE YOU HIT SHARE:

1. Click the down arrow right next to the send button and select “customize”.

2. Under the heading “make this visible to” select “specific people” from the drop down

3. Type in the name of your list in the field below. Your list should pop up. Click on it to select it.

4. Click save setting.

Now, when you click the share button on that particular status, only friends on that list will be able to see that status on your wall. All your other friends (and their friends) will not be able to see that status so you can be more specific in who you talk to. Each time you want to talk to a specific Friend List, click the drop down and follow the four steps above before you hit Share.

Last Note: Your lists are private to you and your uses, but there are also Featured Friends Lists that make your lists public on your profile. Whether or not you are considering the move to a page, Friends Lists can help you improve how you use Facebook by organizing your Facebook contacts. Anyone out there use Friends Lists? Comment here and let us know if they’ve been effective for you.

Cat Hoort has worked with Kregel, Abingdon Press, and Worthy. She’s provided this as writing industry article as a guest post.

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Understanding the Difference Between a Facebook Profile and Page

Hello from Cat Hoort. I was just visiting the Kregel Publications Facebook Page and found an interesting question from an author:

I’m finally joining Facebook, but I need some advice. HOW should I be using Facebook?

This is actually a very common question. I first congratulated the author on asking the right question. He didn’t ask SHOULD I be using Facebook? (he knew the answer to that was “yes”); instead he asked: HOW should I be using Facebook? Read More →

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Headshot-Small How to Reinvent Your Merchandising

Postcards, bookmarks, business cards and flyers have all been consistent elements in book promotion for several years. Together they make a standard part of a publisher’s marketing plan and an asset to an author’s promotion toolbox. And yet, they are just so… old.

Marketing is about creating a splash and catching someone’s attention. More than that, our industry requires marketing campaigns to build relationships with readers. Merchandising pieces have traditionally offered a take-away that not only catch attention but also give the reader something to look at later to remind them of a book’s title, an author’s name, or a character description. But once that reference has been made, what happens to the postcard? Inevitably, it will be discarded.

It will be discarded unless you make it something worth keeping. But how do you do that? How do you reinvent something so basic? How do you move from a traditional mass-marketing approach (printing hundreds or thousands of recyclable pieces) to a unique and targeted promotion that has lasting impact? How do you prevent the tried-and-true from becoming the same-old, same-old?

Here’s one idea: Instead of printing large quantities of one design, ask your publisher to print smaller quantities with unique designs.

  1. Design your merchandising pieces around a theme. It’s really easy to put the cover on the front and a book description on the back and call it a day. But what would happen if you featured elements of your book instead of the book itself? If you’re a nonfiction author, choose different quotes from throughout your book and feature a different quote on different cards. For fiction, maybe you can focus your theme around your characters. Offer a behind-the-scenes profile of each character, giving readers a deeper look at the people who move your story.
  2. Place the different cards and bookmarks strategically. Ask your local library and book stores to offer them near their cash register or even as bag stuffers. One of my authors got permission from the bookstore manager to place one of her cards in other novels that were stocked on the same shelf in that store—a little cross-merchandising, if you will.
  3. Position the merchandising pieces as trading cards, letting readers know their card is one of a set. Tease them with clues to the other cards and where they could find them (maybe you offer different cards to different stores so readers can go on a “scavenger hunt”). Maybe you’re at a writing workshop or conference and every time you hand out a card you encourage the reader to talk to other attendees and find the rest of the set. If you’re interacting with your fans online, consider hosting online book discussions where readers share the behind the scenes notes they have on their cards.
  4. Use the design of the pieces is other ways. One of the novelists I work with kept the designs of each of 6 postcards she used and turned them into web graphics that were then formatted into an animated introduction into her website.
  5. Offer specials or giveaways to people who promise to pass our cards for you. Have then email or Facebook you with details of how they distributed your cards and then award a prize (could be as simple as an Amazon gift card) to the most creative. Your readers aren’t just readers. They can be great marketers too!
  6. Be creative in your messaging. A business card doesn’t have to be boring. Communicating your basic contact info is one thing, but what if the card could provoke further interaction on your website? Think of a catchy line that begs people to look at your site for more information. Kregel novelist Patti Lacy’s bio starts with the line “I was born in the front seat of a Buick. I guess you can say my entrance into this world sparked a love for travel and the unpredictable.” How’s THAT for catchy? Offer a statement like that on the business card, followed by a URL, and your website unique visitors will skyrocket.

What else? How do you use postcards, bookmarks, business cards and flyers in unique and exciting ways? Share your ideas! We’d love to hear them!

Cat Hoort has worked with Kregel, Abingdon Press, and Worthy. She wasn’t born in the front seat of a car but still considers herself lucky to be able to work with fabulous authors who have such amazing stories to share.

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Headshot-Small Hey all,

Greetings from Cat and Kregel Publications! When I came to work this morning, I was planning on writing this post about a completely different topic. But when I sat down at my desk, I did what every marketing manager does when she first arrives in the office—I opened my email. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best thing to do because I spent the next hour answering queries from ad reps, questions from coworkers, and quandaries from authors. One email in particular took me by surprise.

Written by a first-time author, the email was only a few sentences in length. Short. To the point. I like that. She was asking for advice on how to get her book into the hands of people who could help promote it. Influencers, I thought. Impressive. Since we only just finalized the title of her book and haven’t even finished designing a cover, I was impressed that the author was already thinking about a post-release promotion. It was the last sentence, however, that really caught my attention:

“Would you be willing to give me your thoughts on my list of endorfluencers.”

Her what now?

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