Special post today. Gratitude Sunday will be back next week.
ETA: IMPORTANT! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU ARE ENTERING THE CONTEST. Some people may vote just to vote (not to enter), so I want to make sure I count everyone who does. Thank you!
Alright everyone, I may not know a ton about marketing, but I do know when to pull out the big guns. Luckily I have one of those in my arsenal. Her name is Laura Barnes at Laura B Writer. Laura is a marketing consultant and children’s book writer who helps authors build their online media presence. A while back, I signed up for one of her blog critiques through her Monday series From A Marketing Perspective, and she scheduled it for this week. While evaluating my blog, Laura noticed that I was in the middle of promoting my entry for the MeeGenius Children’s Author contest, and offered to help with that instead. I’m sure she could see me sweating, struggling and even floundering straight through the Internets. Needless to say, I jumped on her offer.
Be sure to visit Laura’s blog tomorrow because she’s providing the juicy details behind all of the suggestions she gave me (awesome). Meanwhile, I am using this post to implement one of her suggestions – to run a contest to help me spread the word about my story. (For background on the MeeGenius contest, please visit the How It Works page. For background on my entry, please read this post).
Why I Need to Reach Out
People within my own Network, both offline (friends and family) and online (blog followers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers), have been immensely supportive, and a great percentage of them have voted for my story. I’ve been in the Top 50 (out of 400+) since the contest began on November 28th. While this is fantastic (THANK YOU), Laura pointed out that for marketing to be truly effective, you need to reach beyond your own network. In other words, you need people to help spread the word to their networks. One way to do that is to run a contest with prizes that are of value to the people you are asking to help. I wouldn’t want to ask for help without offering something in return, so that works perfectly for me. Here goes.
The Contest: What’s In It For You?
I know that many of my blog followers are writers, so I am offering up what I call the Big Kahuna. For the past 18 months, I have kept a spreadsheet to track children’s book agents, especially those who represent picture books. On this spreadsheet, I have the agent’s name, company name, website (both personal and corporate), email address, Twitter, Facebook and blog information (if applicable), submission guidelines, which genres they accept and any notes I’ve taken on who they represent, specific interests, etc. There are more than 100 agents on this list who are currently accepting submissions. This will be one of the Grand Prizes.
I also wanted to have a Grand Prize for non-writer followers and/or writers who already have agents and therefore would not benefit from my spreadsheet. So the second Grand Prize is a brand-new iPod shuffle. I figure everyone could either use one or find someone on their list to give it to this holiday season. If not, it would make a great donation to a Toys for Tots-type organization.
Note: If both Grand Prize winners want the spreadsheet, I am willing to give two of them. I can only provide one iPod shuffle, however. The first GP winner will get first choice. If that winner chooses the iPod shuffle and the second GP winner also wanted that, they can be moved to a First Prize position and I’ll draw another GP winner. To speed this process along, if you plan to participate in the contest, it would be helpful (although not mandatory) to leave me a note in your comment letting me know which GP you would prefer if you win. Make sense?
I will give away two first prizes, which will be the winners’ choice between a critique (of a complete Picture Book manuscript or the first 10 pages of a manuscript in any other genre) OR a $25 IndieBound gift certificate.
Three lucky winners will get a brand new picture book of their choice. That’s right. ANY picture book the winner wants will be theirs.
I will ship any prize internationally.
What is the Timeline?
The contest starts today – GO! – and will end when the MeeGenius contest ends, at midnight EST on Sunday, December 18th. I will give myself a day to sort out the winners (selected from Random.org), and will announce them on Tuesday, December 20th. Happy Holidays! 🙂
How to Enter
You may pick and choose from the following activities to enter the contest.
- Vote for my story on the MeeGenius contest page. (2 points – one time only). You do need a Facebook account in order to vote, but even if you don’t have one, you can do any or all of the other activities. I know many of you have done this already, and I am aware of most of them. If you left a comment with your vote and I replied to you (via Facebook), you do not need to take any additional step. I will be able to count your vote. If you simply “liked” without leaving a comment, please let me know that you voted in the comments of this post.
- Promote my entry via Facebook. (2 points – one time only) Note that this step can be combined with #1. If you leave a comment with your vote promoting the story, that comment will appear on your Facebook Wall. I am checking these regularly, and I will reply to each and every one. That way, you will know your FB promotion has been counted toward the contest. Same for those of you who have already taken this step. There is no need to repeat it (unless you want to of course!). If you voted anonymously and would now like to promote via Facebook for the points, you can do so by sharing a link to my entry and urging people to visit and vote. Here is an example of the type of comment that’s most effective, left on my entry from my daughter’s teacher. “Please “like” this story to help a parent in my class get her phenomenal children’s book published.” If you are promoting separately from your entry vote and we are not connected on Facebook in any way, please leave a link in the comments section of this post.
- Tweet to your followers asking them to vote. (1 point per day, starting today, for a total of 8 possible points) In order for these points to be counted, you MUST use the hashtag #JHMeeGenius with your tweet. That is how I will track and count them. You must also provide a link to my entry in each tweet.
- Blog about the contest. (3 points – one time only) In your post, you must provide a link to this post, a link to my entry, and a link to my post providing background on the story. In order to receive the points, you must leave a link to your blog post in the comments.
Comments on this post should be used for letting me know you are entering, your Grand Prize preference, informing me of previous MeeGenius votes you need counted, and/or providing links to blog posts or Facebook promos. The comments section can also be used to ask any questions you may have about the contest. However, comments on this post do not count as points for the contest. In order to enter, you must take at least one of the steps outlined above.
Laura refers to her blog as an “experiment in author marketing.” I think this blog contest is also an experiment to see how much of a difference social media can make in marketing and promotion within a tight time-frame. As of this writing, I have 186 votes and my entry is ranked #48 overall. It will be fascinating to see what happens to those numbers over the course of this week. Of course I realize that if nothing much happens, it will be a bit embarrassing for me. But it’s a chance I am more than willing to take. Regardless of the contest outcome, I will write a post next week detailing my “lessons learned” from marketing and promoting for my MeeGenius entry. Hopefully we can all gain from that.
So followers, start your engines! Off we go!