Rachel runs Bad Redhead Media, a company that helps authors with social media, marketing, and branding. Rachel is also a multi-published award winning and bestselling author. Her books include the following: A Walk In The Snark humourous essays about women and motherhood/work/relationships; The Mancode Exposed witty essays about men, women, sex, and chocolate; Broken Pieces poignant and compelling essays about her experiences as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She is also one of the contributors to Self-Publishers Monthly. And she offers a social media bootcamp for authors.
Wow! Rachel Thompson is definitely a kick-ass redhead! She joins us today to share her insight and wisdom about the importance book marketing for authors.
Tell us about your background and how you got into the business of helping authors market their books?
I started out in marketing and sales back in 1987 (in soul-sucking Big Pharma, mostly recovered now thanks). I quit in 2004 to focus on family and start my writing career, which really took off in 2009 with blogging. I self-published my first two (humor) books in 2011, my third book of creative nonfiction/poetry Broken Pieces in late 2012, and am very close to releasing Broken Places (I’m now with hybrid publisher, Booktrope). I’m also working on a social media book for authors.
I found that applying my marketing and sales experiences to marketing and selling books fairly easy, and as a working mother, social media and digital marketing is a great way to build relationships and target readers. Utilizing my skills as a marketer and an author, I started my business, BadRedheadMedia in 2011, and most recently more affordable group sessions at Author Social Media Boot Camp. I focus strictly on social media, branding, and marketing authors, either doing their social media for them or teaching them how to do it.
Many authors just want to write their books and let amazon or their publishers take care of the rest – what do you say to that?
It’s a nice dream, but not reality at all. I have clients who are traditionally published by the Big Five and they are still doing all their own marketing. With advances in tech, readers expect to be able to connect with their favorite authors on Twitter or at the very least, Facebook.
And it’s not just about blasting book links — social media is social! This doesn’t just mean chatting about your cat. Provide great content (articles, quotes, pictures of said cat, or whatever interests you), branding yourself so readers think of you when they see something. It’s about creating expectations.
As I mentioned above, branding isn’t some silly buzzword, it’s the foundation of everything you will do as an author. What interests you, what are you an expert in, what are you passionate about? This can have nothing to do with your book (though it usually does). Pick four or five topics that you find interesting and write about those (tweets, blog posts, pictures, quotes). This is you being authentic, not a automaton sharing ‘buy my book!’ links repeatedly which is ineffective at best and will get you blocked and reported for spam at worst.
For me, I experienced childhood sexual abuse, so I write about that openly in Broken Pieces. As a result of sharing my experiences so openly, I’ve created a survivor community on Facebook, a chat on Twitter (#SexAbuseChat every Tuesday 6pm PST that’s open to any survivor), an anthology (the #NoMoreShame Project), and more. And that’s just ONE topic!
This branding is very different than what I share on BadRedheadMedia, which is my business. There I share social media, marketing, and branding information.
Can being really good at social media translate into really good book sales?
Good question. Yes and no. LOL. There’s no one magic bullet. I have a list of about twenty things authors need to do to be successful, starting with a great book (professionally edited, designed, proofed, etc), along with multiple marketing activities that I share here in this article Tough Love for Authors.
Certainly developing a social media presence and personality helps an author — it’s publicity, SEO, and interaction all rolled into one.
Some authors have social media accounts but no website. Do you think websites are necessary or do you think that being on facebook, amazon, and goodreads is enough?
I absolutely believe you must have a website! You also need to purchase your domain (it’s usually about $10). Think of it this way: your website is your home, a home you own. You decorate how you want, throw parties, invite people over for conversations. This is where you get to be you and it’s yours.
If you only have social media accounts, you are renting space that could, at any time, be taken away or shut down for repairs. Not only that, but you are subject to someone else’s rules and whims (aka, algorithms), and believe me, those change frequently.
One or the other isn’t really an option, either. It all works together.
When you look at the bestselling authors out there – aside from writing great books – what do they do well?
Most are ‘out there’ — interactive, authentic, approachable. Some are controversial, and that’s fine, too. Nobody said we have to be watered-down and palatable to all. They are well-branded, they know and trust their voice. We are no different — we need to trust ourselves, too. We are fascinated by story, as a culture. Famous authors are (usually) great storytellers.
There are sooooo many authors out there selling their books. How can Jane Doe Author stand out amongst all the rest?
Focus on your topics, and connecting with readers.
Each of us has unique experiences and we’ve got something to say. Not everyone is an amazing writer, but we all have stories to share. Being authentic and sharing those universal truths connect us. Don’t be afraid to be real!
What do you love to read? Who are some of your favourite authors?
I love paranormal — not your ‘vampire’ kind of stuff, but more the traditional ‘slightly south of normal’ kind of para. I’m a sucker for a good time-travel story. The Time-Traveler’s Wife is still one of my all-time favorite books. Anne Rice (The Witching Hour is great). I’m reading Deborah Harkness’ All Souls’ Trilogy now (which does have a non-sparkly, non-annoying vampire and a witch).
John Irving, Pat Conroy are literary fiction favorites. Hemingway, Wolff, Sexton, Dylan Thomas — a lot of the classic twentieth century poets.
Thank you Rachel Thompson for joining us today.