Monday, November 26, 2012


It's Cyber Monday. Not sure what that means? It's the Monday after "Black Friday" which is the Friday after Thanksgiving, an American Christian holiday held on the 4th Thursday of November. Don't get me started on discussing what, exactly, the date purports to commemorate. I'm too much of an indigenous people's advocate!

Anyway, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States. The last few years, the shopping frenzy has begun on Thursday night, around midnight, after everyone's stuffed to the gills with gobble-gobble turkey. Yeah, after "being thankful for all they have" people go out and shop for every little thing they have not. It's a little ironic in my mind but it's an American tradition. Go Capitalism, eh?

Black Friday is a madhouse in the retail world, which is why it's called Black Friday and not Red Friday--businesses are put "into the black" just from this one day's sales! I experience my first-ever Black Friday working in retail this year and OMG, we did 3 times the normal "big day of sales" in just 10 or so hours.

A few years ago, a new trend started: Small Business Saturday, when shoppers were encouraged to support small businesses by shopping with them on Saturday instead of buying everything from large businesses on Black Friday.

Our POTUS, Mr. Obama, went out shopping for books to give as gifts this year and made a point of being photographed and filmed doing so inside a small business bookshop in the D.C. area. I guess he's never going to be above milking the camera for good PR, eh?

After Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, being a Christian country, the majority of Americans stay home on Sunday--I mean, "go to church" (yeah, that's what I meant)--and finally on Monday, when white-collar workers return to work, they get online to buy whatever little thing they might've missed on Friday or Saturday because heaven forbid they not buy every last thing there is to buy.

So we have Cyber Monday, nearly as big for online shopping as Black Friday is for brick-and-mortar shopping. In the Digital Publishing world, of course, Cyber Monday is more important than Black Friday, since our sales are primarily online sales of eBooks. Click through the jump break for tips on how to maximize your own photo opps and good PR--or at least, how to focus your efforts to maximize your Cyber Monday and holiday season sales for 2012.

Publicity and Branding, Not Advertising and Sales
Publicity and advertising are actually working at cross-purposes when it comes to shopping extravaganzas like the "Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday" weekend. Advertising tells people what is on sale and for how much--or how little--but they have to already know they want this one and not that one because everything's on sale this weekend. Advertising works for "spreading news about a known brand" whereas publicity works for announcing the arrival of a new brand. Trust me, as an Indie Author, even if you have 5 or 6 books up for sale, you are still a new brand to most people. Well, unless you have over a million existing customers already? No? I didn't think you'd be reading my blog if you did ((GGG))

So what's the difference? That's the biggest obstacle most Indie Authors have, figuring out which is which and what to do with "this business and marketing stuff." Let me try to simplify it for you: publicity not advertising, branding not sales. Not sure what each of those four terms really means or how they differ from each other? Read on.

Don't advertise an unknown brand.

Create an Author Brand and publicize it to make it known.

Allow your Author Brand Name to sell your products

Advertising is output, from you to the world, blasting your message and hoping the prospective customers (prospects) are listening (to you and not your competition). Publicity is the opposite, it's input, when others talk about you and send you prospects who actively seek out your products to buy. That's the dream, right? That's also Immutable Law of Branding (for Indie Authors) Law 3: Law of Publicity. There are some excellent examples beyond those links of publicity that worked (i.e., Apple's launch in the 1980s was history-making). Check out Law 4: Law of Advertising, too.

Publicity is not something that happens "to" you but rather, something you actively generate for yourself--by choice. It's easy to do when you have a branding platform on which to stand. You must define and strengthen a brand, however, to have something around which to center your PR efforts.

If you are focused on your current book and the selling of it (or selling it and the 5 that came before it) but you have stopped seeing sales, you must be scratching your head wondering why. After all, you're pitching your book like crazy, right? Promo tweets abounding? Risking being called a spammer on Goodreads?

Your mistaken assumption is that advertising will generate sufficient interest--buzz or hype--that total strangers who've never heard of you will somehow be willing to shell out hard-earned money for your product. You need to have credentials before you can advertise to get sales (Immutable Law of Branding 6: Law of Credentials). That comes from publicity, not from advertising.

I've adapted the Immutable Laws of Branding for our special industry, here, along with the Immtuable Laws of Marketing), which you can also buy as a paperback book from CreateSpace if you prefer to read offline (Blasphemy! decries the Indie Author.)

Why Branding and PR?
When you get people talking about you and your products, you want them to focus on your brand's uniqueness, not the new and specific plot points of just one book. Prospects need to focus on the you that makes your books different from, say, mine. That's how you get people to buy "everything this author writes"; you get them to buy your brand, not your books. Isn't a dedicated "True Fan" the ideal goal here? So rather than advertising a product, build publicity around a brand.

What's Next....
Tomorrow I'll be skipping the Tuesday Tip so that on Wednesday, I can participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop being run by Indie Authors planetwide. I was invited to follow along in the chain by Barb of Creative Barb's Wire. I'll be telling you about my own "Next Big Thing" and then linking you to a handful of possibly-new-to-you Indie Authors I think are working on interesting projects. You may or may not agree but I hope you'll stop back on this week on "Writer Wednesday" (#WW on Twitter) to learn more.

Thanks for stopping by today!