Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marketing 101 -- Nikki Arana

Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of suspense, women’s fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She has won several national awards, including The Carol Award - twice, and the Beacon Award. Her book, The Winds of Sonoma was named One of the Top 20 Books of the Year by Christianbook.com. Nikki is also the recipient of the Excellence in Media Silver Angel Award. All of her books deal with social, political, and spiritual issues that confront society today. She is an experienced speaker and has presented numerous, highly successful workshops on the craft of writing. Nikki also serves persecuted Christians who are under the threat of death through her ministry, A Voice for the Persecuted. Her newest release, The Next Target, was inspired by her ministry. You can visit her website here: www.NikkiArana.com or connect with her on her blog: www.nikkiarana.com/blog  or as Nikki Arana, Author on Facebook.

My thanks to Nikki for taking the time to answer my questions on marketing.

TP -- Are you agented? Do you feel it important to have an agent?

NA -- My agent is Natasha Kern. I think it is extremely important to have an agent.  And I strongly recommend that when your book is polished you query for an agent rather than a publisher.  An agent will let you know if your book meets the standards that publishers are looking for.

TP -- What percentage of your marketing falls to your house and agent?

NA -- I’m not aware of agents who do marketing. Successful agents have enough to do taking care of their clients interests. The amount of marketing that I am required to do depends on the publisher. My current publisher, David C. Cook, has done a fabulous job with the marketing. They have several people working on it.  I am kept very busy fulfilling my obligations to the interviews, appearances, etc that they line up for me.

TP -- Do you have a brand? Why is it important to have a brand?

NA -- I’m not sure what you  mean by a brand. Do you mean a tagline? I don’t have one.  If you mean a brand as far as a term that describes the kind of fiction I write. Then, yes. I write transformational fiction. Transformational fiction is fiction that deals with tough issues. It seeks to show how God's Truth transforms characters on their journey. And it invites the reader to journey with them. Readers often find they are touched or changed in some way by the story.

TP -- Are you on any social networks? (Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Linked In. etc.)

NA -- I am on all of them.

TP -- Book clubs? (ACFW, Goodreads, Etc.)

NA -- I’m on Goodreads.

TP -- Writing Groups? (ACFW, yahoo groups, etc.)

NA -- I’m on the ACFW writers loop. And belong to the Idaho Writers League

TP -- Do you feel being in these groups are important? Do they help you with promotion? Give an example of how?

NA -- Yes, I feel the social networks are important. Readers and writers have found a niche there. You can promote your books there and get results. Particularly with promotions related to Kindle or free books.

I recently tried offering a book from my backlist for free on Kindle for 5 days. I spent a lot of time promoting it on all the groups that are connected to reading. I was able to drive the book to #1 in its category and #7 in all of the Kindle Free Books group. It had the effect of driving up sales on the rest of my backlist. It was very successful.

TP -- How much time do you spend on these site?

NA -- That is a huge problem. If you are not disciplined, a simple posting can turn into a hour of something else.  But if you are really going to do a promotion, you will be on the sites for hours. Posting and responding to others who post or repost or tweet or whatever.

TP -- Can you over promote yourself?

NA -- I don’t think you can over promote yourself if you are promoting across numerous venues. But if you are only on Facebook and you are posting about your latest release for days to the same groups, you run the risk of the members saying I would never buy a book from that annoying author who is intruding into my life every hour.

TP -- Do you have a blog? How often do you blog?

NA -- I love to blog. Not all authors do. It is an outlet for me. I blog about serious things like being discouraged, or unsure of my path. My blog is very much like a personal journal of my thoughts and the spiritual encouragement that I find in the Bible.

TP -- Do you use book trailers? Do you feel they are useful for promotion? Vlogs?

NA -- I haven’t yet. But am considering it. I don’t feel that they are persuasive if they don’t look professional.

TP -- What do you know about Author Videos?

NA -- Nothing yet.

TP -- Do you travel for book signings and other promotion? How often? What would you take to be prepared?

NA -- I don’t like to travel because it destroys my schedules that keep me moving forward.  But I will always do it if it is an opportunity to give my book exposure. I don’t really believe in book signings unless there is a lot of advance promotion or it is tied to another group, like a church.

 TP -- Do you attend conferences? Other than learning and getting to talk with editors and agents do feel conferences are beneficial in marketing?

NA -- The reason to attend a conference depends on where you are on your writing journey. I attended as an emerging writer for the reasons you mention in the question. I attend now as an established writer to enjoy the fellowship and share what I have learned by giving classes.

TP -- Do you use libraries for promotion? How?

NA -- Not really.

TP -- Have you ever stopped doing a certain kind of promotion because you found it'd didn't work for you? Or was a waste of your time.

NA -- I would say book signings fall into that category.  A lot of work to book them and set them up. And if they’re not in a Christian bookstore, then most of the people coming in to buy books are looking for something else.

TP -- Do you do public speaking? Do you feel that is important for promotion? What other public venues do you use for marketing?

NA -- Yes, I do public speaking. I have presented at the RWA convention and other large venues. I love doing workshops with my peers. It is a great way to get to know them. I love speaking and teaching emerging writers most of all. We need more Christian authors. I teach story structure.

TP -- What have you found to be some of the best uses of your energies for marketing?

NA -- Inspiring others to forward and/or post the things I put out there. It is exponential and makes the reach broad. I post to my circle of friends, they all repost to their circle and on and on.

TP --  What marketing ideas or guideline might you give an author who is just starting out?

NA -- If someone is just starting out and hasn’t written a salable ms yet. I would encourage them to not think about marketing. But to focus on craft. If they just sold their first novel, then it is time to start making your marketing plan. Try to identify something in your novel that you can build a platform on. It really helps if you can connect to some kind of reader base. For example, my third book was about a boy who had Down Syndrome. I connected to Special Olympics and did a book signing when they came to my area for an event. I met people active in the organization and stayed in touch.

TP -- Do you hold contests? Do giveaways? Have they been helpful for promotion? Why or Why not?

NA -- I don’t personally hold contests, but the marketing team for the publisher does.  I think it is helpful. You have to get your books out there.

TP -- Thank you Nikki. Appreciate your insight. 

Take a look at Nikki's current release -- The Next Target.

Would You Share Your Faith If It Would Cost You Your Life?  

It only took one bullet. Austia's friend and student fell dead. And with a glimpse of a newspaper headline, the young and recently widowed Austia knows more about what happened than the police. From that fatal night, Austia’s secret outreach to the U.S. Muslim community—in the guise of English language classes—becomes a target. Local  Muslim extremists set their sights on ending her ministry and even her life. And the women she ministers to will be next.

A thick web of deceit closes in around Austia, and her circle of friends becomes smaller by the day, even as she finally opens herself to the idea of falling in love again. But who can she trust? Facing a spiritual battle that proves more treacherous than it at first seemed, Austia’s convictions are tested to their limits and her heart becomes primed for breaking. She must ask herself: how much she will risk to stay true to herself, her faith, and to the lives of the women she serves?


L McMaken said...

Very insightful, thanks Tina and Nikki - lots of very good info.

June Bryan Belfie said...

Interesting interview. Thank you both for sharing.
Marketing is an area I need to work on, so I appreciated some of your tips, Nikki.
Hope some day to meet you.
Blessings, June

Nikki Arana said...

Would love to meet you too, June. If you are ever in the Pacific Northwest you can contact me through my website www.nikkiarana.com or FB at www.facebook.com/nikkiaranaauthor.

DenaNetherton said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Nikki and Tina. I'm just at that stage where I'll be marketing my first pulished book. By the way, I love Natasha Kern.

Julie Lessman said...

NIKKI!!! I just finished The Next Target last week and absolutely LOVED it -- incredibly haunting!!

I'll be honest and tell you that I am strictly a hardcore romance reader, which means I want the focus to be on the emotional ebb and flow of a relationship first and foremost and not on a mystery or a cause. BUT ... you did both BEAUTIFULLY and opened my eyes in the process, which is what it's really about in Christian fiction. I fully intend to post a review and advertise it on FB, Twitter, etc. soon, my friend, so GREAT JOB!!

And aren't we two lucky ducks, not only to be represented by Natasha Kern, but to be her friends as well??

Another great post, Tina!!


Heather Day Gilbert said...

Good post! I didn't realize book signings aren't always the best way to market your book, but that does make sense. I guess we need to be thankful that we're living in the computer age, so marketing can happen quickly and can reach many more people!

Nikki Arana said...

Hi Julie. So glad you'll be posting a review. I hope on Amazon. I sometimes am attacked by Muslims who don't like what I do and they will post terrible reviews to try and sabotage the book!! Ack. So honest reviews are always welcome.

And Heather, let me clarify. Book signings can be a good way to promote if they are planned in a way that will generate attendance like tying them to a presentation or church or something. I love to support Christian bookstores especially.

Sadie and Sophie said...

Tina, this is a great idea - I'm enjoying the ride! And Nikki, always remember, "Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world" and bring on those good reviews!

Jo Huddleston said...

Nikki, you say when you promote your book with your circle, they in turn promote with their circle. When you first promote with your circle, do you ask them (in that promotion) to contact their circle to expand promotion for your book? Or do you just expect/hope they will do that?

Nikki Arana said...

Hi Jo,

When I write the post on my page I end it with something like - Please help get the word out by sharing with your friends and reposting on other sites.

Then when they share, their friends read the end of the post - Please help get the word out by sharing with your friends and reposting on other sites.

which has the feel of coming from their friends, and on and on.

Tina Pinson said...


May sound funny, but I don't even think to ask that on my posts. I guess I wonder if I'm not being pushy. I may have to reconsider that.

Also just wanted to thank you so much for your willingness to share.



beckydoughty said...

Nikki and Tina,

Another great post, Tina. So glad you're doing this series.

Nikki - I am blessed to have won a copy of your book! I'm just getting ready to bust into it and I'm very excited as I've read so many good things about it.

I hear a lot of mixed reviews on the whole book-signing thing - interesting. I still want to do one just to say that I have :-) so I'll have to make sure it's well planned and executed!

Thanks for your thoughts - much appreciated, both of you.

Deborah Heal said...

It's fascinating hearing the different authors answer these Marketing 101 questions. So glad they're visiting.