Hello and welcome back to the third Rebel Author Podcast episode. Today, I talk to Boni Wagner-Stafford about nonfiction and specifically how to market nonfiction books. Though if you’re a fiction author, I think you’ll still gain a huge amount of insight and ideas on strategic marketing.
In the intro today, I try and persuade you to join my facebook group. Every Monday (at some point on Monday because I’m notorious for doing it late at night. HEY WHAT? It’s still Monday somewhere), I post a thread asking members for their weekly goals. The following Monday, we review and post our new goals. Everyone joins in and is super supportive and we have hundreds and hundreds of comments each week. There’s loads of banter and members ask questions on all kinds of topics from craft to marketing and publishing. And I also do the occasional facebook live Q&A session.
I love the accountability of having to post and confess whether you reached your goals. Im currently trying to finish the third book in my YA fantasy series called Trey by the end of October so that I can write The Anatomy of Prose during Nano.
So, If you’d like to join you can by going to:
Our listener rebel of the week was Christine, you can find out more about her here.
On to the show.
Boni Wagner-Stafford – How to Market Nonfiction Books
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Sacha Black Hello and welcome to the rebel author podcast. I’m Sacha Black and I am here today with Boni Wagner-Stafford. Boni is an author, author, coach, writer, ghost writer, editor, and co founder of Ingenium books. She’s a communications manager for the alliance of independent authors and award winning former journalist and has led public sector teams in media relations, issues management and strategic communications and planning corr, that’s a mouthful. Boni has been at the controls of a helicopter loves back country canoeing once jumped from an airplane sang on stage with Andr… ooh how do you say that?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Andrea Bocelli, there you go.
Sacha Black In a backup chorus, and grew up skiing in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, she lives in. She’s lived in more than 15 different cities in Canada, France and Mexico. And is found most on her 40…40 foot sailboat Ingenium in Mexico Sea of Cortez. Is that that is 40 foot isn’t it?
Boni Wagner-Stafford That is 40 feet? Yes.
Sacha Black Yeah. Okay. I know nothing about boat. So I was like is that 40 inches? Feet.
Welcome Boni, thank you so much for giving us some of your time this evening or or your afternoon, as I know that you are in Mexico, just for everybody listening, there is a bit of a time delay on… in the in the Wi Fi. So if there are any pauses That is why. So welcome, Boni.
Boni Wagner-Stafford Thank you very much, Sacha. Happy to be here and happy you’re launching your new rebel podcast.
Sacha Black Thank you. So tell me a bit about your journey into writing and why you write nonfiction particularly?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Well, that’s a great question. I’ve always been a writer, you know, like many authors and want to be authors, I’ve always been interested in writing, you know, starting with my grade, not even starting with but you know, back when I had a grade five writing assignment that we were to, to create a story and characters and I was right into the Nancy Drew series back then. And so I created this whole different Nancy Drew book, I made up the whole story, the whole mystery, the whole search, but I used the Nancy Drew characters. And so when I got to school to present this wonderful what I thought was a one, I was so proud of it, I had so much fun. Of course, I got a failing grade because I was off being so excited about thinking about Nancy Drew, I didn’t hear the second half of the assignment, which wasn’t everything has to be totally original. So that kind of burst my bubble. But anyway, I went on to be a journalist, reporter, and working in television and radio, mainly and dabbling in print. And, you know, storytelling has just always been part of my bones. And then the next phase of my career, I was in Government Communications. That’s that mouthful of media relations, issues, management, strategic communications, but so I was always while I was there, I was responsible for the editorial production and release of, you know, 300 page budget documents and white papers on, you know, tourism, industry restructuring, and all those kinds of things. But so everything I’ve always done, and maybe tracking back to that fateful grade five, assignment where I failed on fiction, that I just feel I love nonfiction. I love true stories. I think they make the world go around. And it’s just where I’m most comfortable. And I do have some fiction. historical fiction based on a true story. Of course, there always has to be that element of truth. But I do have some fiction in the works that, that I find very difficult. But so that that’s kind of how it all comes together.
Sacha Black So you started out your writing career writing fanfiction, I love that. I had no idea. I had no idea. I think that’s brilliant. And also, so did you how did you feel about the corporate comms? I say this only kind of for the rice while because I, you know, I as you know, I left corporate what I like to call my corporate Helmare instead of a nightmare. And, you know, because I just, you know, I wasn’t suited to the corporate lifestyle. So but how long did you did you kind of spend in the corporate world?
Boni Wagner-Stafford 11 years. And, you know, it’s interesting, I and it was government not, you know, similar to corporate but but government, so public sector very much about the public good, obviously, with the political bent, because what was in the public good, very, depending on which political party was in power. But my transition from being a reporter, where I reported on government, to then being inside, representing the government was was interesting, I realized once I was inside government, that all my preconceived notions about what government was all about, were not true. You know, I won’t get into all of those things. But you know, government is a big, fat, cushy, everybody’s lazy. I mean, the people that I worked with, in in the Ontario government in Canada, were some of the smartest, hardest working people that I have ever met. And I was very fortunate to be working on things that I just found fascinating, you know, securities regulation, reform, you know, municipal tax structures, taxing
Sacha Black Wow,
Boni Wagner-Stafford Tobacco tax, and related issues, like, Yeah, I know, I know, it’s horrible. But you know, and then industry reforms, and, you know, the debates that we would have around the board tables, deciding what to do to address a particular social, public or economic issue, we’re just fascinating. I mean, it was really some of my most fun work kind of, you know, I loved my journalistic work, but, but but the communications work in government really went much, much deeper. And, and I really, I did, I loved it. And, and that is, I loved it until I did love it anymore. And I was ready to do something else. So that’s kind of the same reason I left journalism, I loved it until I didn’t love it anymore. And then I went to do something else. And I loved communications till I didn’t love it. And and I went to do something else.
Sacha Black Well, so I mean, I say corporate What the I was actually in, in in government, as well, which is why I am kind of smiling back here. Nobody can see me grinning, but I’m kind of grinning. As much as you loved it, I hated it. But obviously, I’m very grateful that there are you know, because everybody that I worked with absolutely loved, you know, those kind of debates in, you know, for the societal good and stuff. I just wasn’t suited to it. Right. Okay, let’s get into…
Boni Wagner-Stafford It’s not for everybody, for sure.
Sacha Black And so we are here today to talk about one particular book that you’ve published. And I’m kind of one particular area. So you published a book recently called 1 million readers, which I read and loved, by the way. And so I wondered. So and just for everybody who hasn’t read it, one, go and read it, but two, it’s about marketing, nonfiction. Now, whilst it’s themed on marketing, not nonfiction, particularly, I took a lot of things from it, that I could apply to my fiction, but marketing and promotion. So yeah, don’t feel like you can’t read it just because I’m saying it’s about non fiction, nonfiction. Now, one of the things that I learned one of the very first things that I took from your book was about the difference between promotion and marketing. Now, I kind of up to that point, been rolling them into one. And, and seeing them as the same thing, but they’re not. So I wondered if you could tell listeners about the difference between marketing and promotion?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, great question. And, you know, this became crystal clear for me just in the last couple of years, because I did the same thing. And I think it’s a very common thing. But so I like to think of marketing as the umbrella promotion is one of the things you do under that marketing umbrella, but they are not interchangeable, and they’re not the same. And so marketing is… relates to everything that you do, to spread the word about you as an author, and about your book or books. promotion is a very specific activity that you undertake, when you want to sell a book. And they’re connected, of course, because the marketing is what happens when you’re fertilizing the ground, you’re making sure it’s, you know, you’re creating your the awareness, you’re wanting people to know that you exist, that work has to be done before the promotion is going to work. But the marketing piece isn’t all about selling. And this is, you know, frankly, this is where a lot of indie authors get tripped up. And you hear complaints about oh, my God, I you know, I just this author keeps just, you know, spamming me and saying buy my book by my book. Well, that is exactly what’s the problem is that that author has confused promotion, with marketing, nobody is going to buy a book from a promotion effort until you’ve done the marketing work to seed the ground with awareness about you and your book. Does that make sense Sacha?
Sacha Black Yeah, no, it does. Absolutely. And I think that say there’s a very famous phrase about seven touches, or seven times a person, a potential customer needs to see a message from you or, you know, come into contact with you. And that’s obviously the marketing side, to set up your promotion. So.
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, that’s right. Yep. Yeah. And so marketing is about establishing credibility, creating awareness, making sure that you’re providing a connection point, it’s all of that stuff. And all of your promotion activity will be for not, if you aren’t focusing on that marketing piece first. And that said, You can’t only do the marketing piece, either, at some point, you do have to say, hey, buy my book, so that they they go hand in hand, but the marketing piece really needs to be in place first, before you embark on any kind of promotion.
Sacha Black So So just a couple of so what would a couple of examples be then of marketing. So obviously, the promotion is stuff like Facebook advertising, or Amazon ads, or, you know, a social post that has a link to your book, but can you give me a couple of examples of what marketing would be without the promotion?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, and it’s, it’s interesting, it’s not black and white. So you can engage and launch a series of Facebook ads, that is about marketing, you can launch a series of, you know, any kind of ads can be about marketing, not necessarily the promotion, sometimes they can be combined. So it’s not quite so black and white. But so the marketing pieces that I’m talking about, and that 1 million readers talks about is is really a framework and a mindset, and to strategically pull all the pieces together so that you’re thinking about you, your book, the sales, your you know, whatever your definition of success is, in a holistic way. And that you take the time to think through and plan all of the activities that will be in your marketing bucket. So they’re coordinated, they make sense and so that your promotion can be successful. So marketing is everything from defining a clear objective, what is it I want to achieve? marketing, and this is my definition of marketing, you can talk to somebody else who’s going to have a totally different thing. This is just what works for me and, and how, how I like to think of this. And so marketing, you might have a marketing budget, which is also where it’s confusing, because your promotion activities are going to go into your marketing budget, if that’s if that’s the way you’re tracking your spend. But, you know, it’s how you write your website copy, it’s the colors you choose, for your website, it’s the you know, it’s the look and feel of your author photo, are you are your eyes closed? Are you in black and white, or your color, all of those things all come together into the marketing banner, they all have a message. And what your marketing strategy is going to do is bring all those things together. So you know why you’re choosing what color, you know why your eyes are open or closed? Or you don’t see your face at all? or whatever, whatever, whatever that is. If that makes, if that makes sense.
Sacha Black It does. Absolutely. And I think the why behind a lot of the marketing is for me, personally, the most important part. And, you know, and certainly around things like branding and color and building up. You know, your author personality, I suppose I think, you know, almost everything of mine is purple. You know, even my author photo is purple…. Yeah. Okay, great. So, my next question was around a concept that I’ve only ever heard once, before and outside of reading your book, and you went into quite a lot of detail, which is why I was so fascinated by it. But, and this is around the concept of selling a feeling to your readers and or customers, and I wondered, and it’s selling a feeling rather than selling a product. So I wondered if you could talk a little bit about what that is the concept what it means and, and and and what it means for authors in their planning and marketing?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, yeah, it’s a great question. And so not to discount the fact that at some point, we all as authors need to say somewhere, buy my book, and that it is a product, this is not to discount that we are selling a product. What this is talking about is what we need to engage and think through as authors, when we go through the motions, all of the many motions that we have to go through before we can be ready to sell that book. And before a reader will say buy. So this this notion of selling a feeling rather than a product is tied into the age old, you know, since millennia we human beings are attracted by story. Stories affect us, because they engage a feeling they engage our emotions, even the most intellectual, you know, dry stuff there is there is a, there is a feeling that that that we connect to. Now, I’m not talking about textbooks or anything like that, but I’ll just put that aside for the moment. But, and let me use an example not from the author world. And this we had a conversation about this earlier this week. I have lived on my sailboat, I’m not on the sailboat today, but I will be again shortly. But so in the boat world, there are particular kind of sailboats that are suited to different kinds of people. And so there is one particular kind of sailboat that really is, you know, it’s very luxurious the lines are clean the interior is, you know, the latest fashion and design. The type of person that would be interested in that kind of a sailboat is very different from the type of person who would be interested in a heavier, maybe a wooden type of sailboat that you know, is is more about the adventure of sailing rather than comfort on the water, and you are going to your sales job with each of those two products has to engage different feelings, and you need to connect to your potential buyers with different feelings based on what that product is. So and it and it and it’s not overt, the let’s say we’re trying to sell boat number one, we’re going to use words like because the person that’s interested in Book number one is more likely a woman than a man is more likely less interested in the actual above deck sailing process and more interested in the beautiful sunsets, you know, commonly sitting at anchor. And so the words we would use to try to promote and sell that boat would be luxury, comfort, safety, those are words that evoke a feeling in the reader, but only in the target reader. The second boat that I talked about that potential owner is not interested in comfort, luxury and safety. This boat number two potential owner is interested in how fast the boat goes, is there a plum bow to cut through rough seas, we would never use the word rough seas to talk about selling boat number one, even though both boats will equally experience rough seas. So you know, we want to talk about adventure plum bows how she you know cuts through the sea, how you know that sort of thing that taps into the emotion that each target reader is looking for. And so with our books, if you’re writing crime thrillers, you know that the reader is looking for a little bit of an escape they’re looking for they want to be entertained, they you know, they’re there. They love the notion of a mystery. So you don’t answer you don’t answer all their questions, you don’t solve the you don’t put the synopsis on the back of your book, for example, and you use words that will create the feeling that that reader is looking for. And even, you know, that’s a fiction example, in in a nonfiction example, even if it’s something like, you know, how to develop your personal brand, and become a better leader. The emotion that we’re looking for there is one of a sense of, okay, accomplishment. I know, you know, it’s a, there’s a clarifying feeling of, alright, I can do this, I know, this is going to tell me what I need to know. And you need to try to tap into the feeling that that we was looking for, which is the reason that they would pick up your book in the first place.
Sacha Black Yeah, and as you were talking, I was kind of, I couldn’t help but you know, relate this back to myself and thinking even about the podcast. So yes, you know, what is the feeling that I want to give to listeners? Well, swear every British, you know, obviously, in the writing world, a little bit cheeky, probably sarcastic, and you know, and rebellious, obviously. But then, you know, yes. Okay. It’s about writing and marketing and creativity or any kind of creativity and in this industry, but, you know, you could look at and for listeners, both Boni and I do freelance work for the alliance of independent authors, whereas if you go to their podcast, and it’s much more professional, and not that I’m not being professional, but you know, I’m going to drop a few f bombs or whatever it’s fine. But it’s about selling that different feeling.
Boni Wagner-Stafford You told me in advance.
Sacha Black Yeah, yeah. Oh, no, you can say fuck, it’s totally fine.
Boni Wagner-Stafford Oh right okay I’m so glad.
Sacha Black Yeah, sorry, I should have said yeah, no, these all have explicit on them, because I can’t be censoring myself. But But yeah, no, it’s, it’s, it’s a different feeling. And, and actually, this is really important, because I was thinking about how this, you know, being self aware, and knowing the feeling that you create, whether it be with your podcast, or with your books, helps you to find your tribe to find your people, your readers. And so just being self aware about that, I think is Yeah, that’s something I’m definitely gonna take away and chew over.
Boni Wagner-Stafford And yeah, and you know, that’s a good point to this, the self awareness piece, which is, many authors may not many people, whether it’s authors or people, many people may not be explicitly aware of what the feeling is that connects them to a particular book when they are readers. And so the self awareness piece is absolutely critical for this because until you can envision it in yourself. You know, when I want to go and pick up the latest Lee Child and read about Jack Reacher, I know exactly what feeling I’m, I’m after, I really I just want to shut my brain down, I want to be entertained, and I can’t sleep yet. But so I want to find out, you know, where’s, where’s the hitchhiking to now. But you know what, I’m going to choose a different book when I’m after a different feeling. But so as authors, we need to pay attention to what those feelings are in ourselves. And look at how we interact with the books that we buy, and that we read, in order to identify what some of those feelings are. And then we apply those to our target reader, and our books and kind of replicate, understand what it is that we’re trying to offer our readers what feeling we want to, we want to create for them.
Sacha Black And kind of looking at this little like a, a story, a book, because that’s, I guess, how I relate most things. It’s almost like a trope of marketing. It’s like, what are the tropes of your marketing? You know, when you think about the tropes of your book, that’s kind of the feelings for that genre that you’re trying to create. But actually, it’s kind of bringing those up in under the umbrella of marketing and thinking about the tropes that you want to market to your to your readers. So yeah, this is I’m my brain is going 10,000 miles per hour, and gonna move on. Otherwise, I know, I’m just gonna be talking about this for an hour, and everyone’s gonna be like, come on Sacha.
Boni Wagner-Stafford I come back and do another show about this.
Sacha Black Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And what’s a market scan?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Oh, this is one of my favorite. It’s actually so I’m from my corporate communications, Government Communications, I’m just going to call it corporate because you’re so right. It’s all corporate. But
Sacha Black Booo…
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, I know. Fuck, I’m glad I’m out of there. Yeah, I really am. Whenever when we were in corporate communications, whenever anything, before anything was ever going to go out to the public. Whether it was an announcement about the cost of auto insurance, or whether it was announcing a new event at a tourism industry thing, or whatever it was, whenever anything was going out to the public, we always did what we called an environmental scan. And I’ve taken this notion and applied it to book marketing, because I just found it so incredibly valuable. And so it is looking at work. For the book purposes, we’re talking about a market scan, I sometimes call it environmental scan, the two things are the same, but what it is, is a very purposeful look at the broader environment into which you are launching your book. And I consider everything being fair game, everything from socio economic considerations, like what’s happening with the economy, are people buying paperback books, are they buying ebooks? Are people buying my genre of books and and why? Is my genre, something considered a luxury or, you know, in economic downturns people are more concerned about the elements on the lower end of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, for example. So being able to connect the the broader socio economic environment is going to help you decide not just your messages, your marketing messages, but how you’re going going to pitch it, what that feeling is that you’re going to try to create. So if it’s a real economic downturn, for example, and you’re writing thrillers, and but people might not have money for thrillers, you really want to emphasize that they sure want to do a skit, they sure want to escape, they don’t want to be thinking about the bills that they can’t pay right now. So we want to emphasize those emotional and those feeling connections with what the benefits are that they’re going to get out of the book, for example. So that’s one part of the market scan. The other part of the market scan is I always like to know what’s going on in the publishing industry, things are changing very fast, I want to make sure that I know, you know, what kind of books are selling what’s happening with, you know, its platform is working better which format is you know, right now, audio books are selling a lot. So that you know, and that’s pretty standard, but won’t change month to month. But if you’re writing a book every year or two, then before I go to launch a book, I make sure that I am touching those kinds of scenarios, and make sure that I know what’s happening. And then it gets to be more specific. If you have a book about you know, how doctors can heal from burnout on the job, then we’re talking about the market scan is, you know, what’s the accepted level of wisdom right now about doctors and burnout? And you kind of look for where’s the you know, what, who’s doing the studies? Who’s who’s talking about it? What are resources, besides my book, or you know, that, that that that people can go to to try to get help from this and make sure you know, who else is talking about it, and who you might want to connect with who you might be competing with? where there might be opportunity, you’d look for conferences and events? You know, if you have a book that is set in a particular geographic area, what is the latest thing, what’s the latest thing that’s happening in that area, you know, is your book set in France, and all of a sudden, the last, you know, 12 months have been occupied by the yellow jacket protests and your book doesn’t mention them at all. And it’s apparently set last year, then you have you and you have a have a problem. That’s not to do with marketing necessarily. But these are the kinds of things that a market scan and an environmental scan can help you do, they will also identify. As I mentioned, with the other resources, they’ll identify gaps and potential places where you could where you might want to take some marketing actions, and they can identify allies. So in addition to competitors, sometimes our competitors can actually be allies. So if I’ve written a book, let’s use the same example about something to help doctors heal from burnout. And I just discovered through my market scan, but that there’s this really cool physician that’s on the speaker circuit. And, and he’s talking about it in a new and different way. Well, I can connect with that person and say, Hey, I think you might be interested in my book, and I think maybe there’s some opportunities for us to do to work together, would you like a copy of my book, I’m going to be in your area, or I see you’re coming in my area, can we sit and have a coffee, and then you never know how that might turn out. But maybe that guy, then he goes on his speaker circuit to the next speaker. And he holds up your book and says, I met this great author of this great book, and I want it you know, so the, the market scan is where you identify all those opportunities, if you’re not doing your market scan, you’re not looking for those kinds of things.
Sacha Black Yeah, and I think that stands certainly for fiction and nonfiction, I don’t think that is something that only non fiction listeners should be doing. I think it’s useful for Fiction too, because, you know, it’s that contextual marketing, you can create local opportunities, even in your area from your book, or, you know, national ones, or, you know, whatever. But there, there it is looking for those extra opportunities. And so many authors don’t do that. And, you know, it’s an easy way to sell more books really, frankly.
Boni Wagner-Stafford And it is another piece of the market scam that I mentioned, that is really, really important. And I do it every single time. And I have with the authors that I work with as my clients as well. And that is a rigorous competitor scan. So I, I consider that under the bucket of a market scan. But you know, when I first start working with with a new author, and before we’re even very far into the editorial side of the book, we’re we’re looking at, you know, 20 to 30, similar books similar in the space, the subject matter, and we’re looking at every thing we’re looking at how old they are, how well they sell, what does the description look like? What does the cover look like? What’s the price of the paperback? And the ebook? How many reviews? Do they have? What you know, what’s the average star rating? What are the reviews, saying who has provided the editorial review for that book, and it’s this, you know, it’s all part of that competitor scan on its own, doesn’t do anything, if you’re not prepared to to take it into account and act on it and acting on it means you’re are considering how the reader expects to see and find your book in this sea of all these similar places. So it should affect the choices you make for your cover, it’ll affect your title, it will certainly affect your pricing. And again, you might find both adversaries and allies in that search. Oh, so and so is written a book, but it was five years ago, but they’re having some success. So perhaps I’m going to connect them, you know, maybe we and they’ve got lots of reviews. And so maybe I can get that person to review my book and promote my book. So it’s, it’s, it’s all about connecting the dots. Really, it’s making sure that you’re not launching your book into a vacuum, that you are very, very clear. And were on what is happening in the world around you that the environment that you’re launching your book into.
Sacha Black Yeah, I completely agree, I think. And also, just to say there is so much more about this in Boni’s book and, and loads and loads of kind of really tactical tips and tricks that I have written copious amounts of notes on that I need to go and process. So yeah, cheers for that so many pages of notes, I’m like argh all the things I want to do. Okay, talk to the new author, what one or two things? Would you tell them all lessons have you learned perhaps through the through your own marketing? What would you tell them to do when when preparing their their marketing for their, their nonfiction book? Or fiction? You know?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, you know, it’s really tough because a while it’s, I’m going back to my own first six, but it’s tough because we the hardest part of the book, we think, is the writing. And then all of a sudden, we finished writing. And we realized that Oh, my god, there’s, it’s not the hardest part at all. So I view, my advice to new authors is to recognize that in all the benefits to there are so many of being an independent author and being in you know, creative and commercial control with your own prod product. product, which is your book and your projects is that marketing is a process, it is not a single event, it is a process. And it will be part of what you do for the lifetime of your book. As long as you want to be getting attention for your book and selling some books, then you need to be engaged in marketing. And so that’s the first piece of advice. And the second piece of advice is that I would take the time to do the strategy work. I don’t know very many authors. I don’t know very many authors, I work with lots of authors. But it’s not that I don’t have a big circle of friends that are authors. So the people I’m working with, you know it ALLi, but I’m not aware of very many authors that actually do this, the level of detailed planning and coming up with the marketing strategy that I’m advocating in 1 million readers. And that’s what I would say is take the time, go through the book, or other people’s it doesn’t have to be my book. There’s lots of resources out there, but take the time to pull together your own version of a marketing strategy. Because once you’ve done that work, you’ll have things to do to keep your book alive and in front of your potential readers for potentially years to come. If you don’t do this work at the beginning, you are going to go Oh, well, I launched a Facebook ad and I have some review readers, why is my book not selling? I don’t know what I should be doing today. If you do the work on the strategy of the front, you will never say you will never have to say what should I be doing to market my book today, you will always know and it will carry you through, you know, a year two years of marketing your book.
Sacha Black Yeah. And I think that’s a really important point, because I actually upon you know, and I did actually take genuinely copious amounts of notes, but then I got very overwhelmed by it. But I think that’s a really key point that you just made, because actually, I don’t have to do all of those things immediately. I’m terrible for that. I just want to do them all. Now. I highly impatient, but actually, it’s it No, that’s such a good point. Because the benefit of being an indie author is that we have control over the marketing, whereas most traditional publishers focus on that launch period. And sort of the few weeks around it, actually, you know, I’m still marketing a book that I published two years ago. And if I had, you know, a intensive, detailed marketing plan, then I wouldn’t have to be making this shit up every single day, I would go to my plan. And so I so I have a book that I’m while I’m got about 22 k of notes at the moment. So I after I finished my next fiction book, that’s what I’m focusing on, but it is nonfiction. And I did download your workbook, and I am going to go through it because I think it will give my book the best opportunity to reach as many readers as possible. And I’m just going to keep that point in mind that actually, yes, I am going to come out with a metric fuckload of tasks. But I don’t have to do them immediately. And therefore that should I hope to take away the overwhelm of having such a big marketing plan. And yeah, I think that’s a great takeaway. I wanted to ask you about PR, because that is one thing that I was I had my kind of skeptical eyebrow raised when I was reading it. But and I think this is perhaps just because I am ignorant about PR, but PR seems like one of these things that traditional publishers do when they throw loads of money at it, and nobody can really quantify it. But I think I know of indies who are starting to look at PR managers for themselves. So I wondered if you could just talk about what actually is PR, and how that differs, perhaps from the marketing that indies might be doing? And and how indie authors specifically could capitalize on it.
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, this is a really, this is a really tough area, too. And so first of all, what is it, I talked about PR as earned media, as opposed to paid media, if I’m paying Facebook to promote my ad to people of a specific demographic group, that’s a paid media, if I am doing an interview for this podcast, for example, this would be an example PR, where where I’m being spoken to by somebody who is on their own getting the word out to other readers that I wouldn’t normally connect with. So So this, you know, talking to you is an example of PR, it’s not in the traditional sense, but really what’s traditional anymore. Yeah. But so, yeah, and the the challenges, and I think it’s another gray area, where, first of all, you know, it includes everything from the interview in the New York Times. And wouldn’t we all love that. But it’s everything from that right down to maybe your neighborhood free weekly newspaper? Or, you know, is there a podcast somewhere or a, you know, that sort of thing. But the danger with PR is that people think, Oh, I can just put out in a news release. And I can pay this, you know, PR web or PR, new wire whoever it is, you know, a couple hundred bucks or 1500 bucks depending on the length and whether you include images and expect that that’s going to bring me all kinds of media attention? Well, it doesn’t. And there are you know, there are there are books that makes sense to to spend time and effort on getting PR and books that it doesn’t make sense. Or there are elements of your book. So let’s take a let’s take a thriller, you know, a fiction thriller set in a particular community. And so, you know, the story revolves, I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go, The story revolves around a murder in the library, I don’t know. And so you have to be aware of what elements you have in your book that are right for PR, the fact that you’ve written a book is not a good enough hook for trying to go out and seek media attention, the fact that you’ve published your I mean, it’s a wonderful accomplishment, don’t get me wrong.
Sacha Black That’s it Boni crush everyone’s dreams.
Boni Wagner-Stafford But yeah, it’s just there has to be some real hook, that you can hang your PR outreach attempts on. Something that is going to be of interest to people beyond well beyond the fact that you’ve written a book, unless the fact that unless the book that you’ve written is so new and avant garde that we’ve you know, bicycles for cats or something, you know, if they’ve written a book about bicycles for cats, then, you know, please don’t ride your bike enough to get you some traction. Don’t
Sacha Black Don’t don’t ride a bike about cats and bicycles.
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yes, funny. But so, and trying to get PR, it’s a whole machine in and of itself. And I think the sad part of it is that that, you know, it’s easy for us to get duped into thinking that oh, you know, I’ll just, I’ll do this media release. And all I’ll pay for the distribution, because look, they’re telling me that they’re going to distribute my media release to 275 media outlets around the country, and I’m going to be seen on 12,740 websites, what’s the load of crap, that’s doesn’t mean you’re it only means they’re pushing it across the desks, it doesn’t mean that a reporter is actually going to pick it up and write anything about you. So I think that’s one thing to be really careful of, and combining that with understanding, you know, what it is about your book, or what it is in your book that might be newsworthy, or that you can turn into a newsworthy hook. And then leverage that. Did that answer the question you asked me, or did I prattle on and get completely carried away? as I usually do?
Sacha Black I think so. Let me see if I’ve understood. So for example, if somebody you said that you were writing a historical novel had some kind of true, was it true, true crime in it? Or, but let’s say somebody’s Yeah. Okay. So let’s say somebody writes about a crime that happened in their local village, for example, their local town or city, and they publish that would that then be kind of a hooky a news item that somebody could kind of pull out? to, to go to the local papers to say, look, you know, where I’ve written this story, it’s about this true crime, it’s set here. Is that an example? Or?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yes, yes, that that that would be an example. And what you’d want to do in that case is, you know, how are you? First of all, how are you portraying that location? Yeah, so depending on, depending on how you portray the location, but let’s say that it, you know, it’s, it doesn’t do anything negative to to the location, and, you know, whether it’s the library or a corner or park or whatever, but so is there a historical society? You know, is this set in the past? I don’t know. But is there a historical society? Is there a, is there a local tour operator? Is there you know, do you go and do it a reading at the location where in the book, your murder occurred, so making something happen, that you’re creating the hook around, that is connected to your book is not a bad idea. So okay, my murder happens at the quarter corner of fourth and Vine. And so I, you know, set up an event where I’m going to be at fourth and Vine, and I’m going to do a reading and I’m going to, you know, maybe you dress up with the get some people to play a couple of roles as characters, and then you, you, you pitch that to local media, that becomes a local event. And that gets people talking about your book and your you know, so that that would be an idea.
Sacha Black So give me a couple of really tangible tips, how would an indie author without their own PR manager, actually get PR?
Boni Wagner-Stafford Well, um, it’s everything that we’ve been talking about here. So the first thing is that not, don’t assume that you can just get it from the, the fact that you have written a book, and it depends on your book. And it depends on what’s in your book. And so, you know, it almost really does require some, some feedback from somebody who has done this before. So the first thing if you do want to, if you have that hook, so I’m getting caught up on whether you have that hook or not. So let’s move past the hook. I think this is what you’re asking me. So then it is, you want to craft your story, you want to use that feeling the story that is going to be in your media release, for example, and whether or not you issue the media release, in my view, you must write that media release, because it is your story. So even if you’re even if you’re going to pitch one on one, and you’re not actually issuing a media release, I always advise write it anyway. Because you want to get it right, you want to have that lead, catchy, grabby paragraph right off the top. And then you kind of dig into it from there. So the whole structure of how you, you know, write a media release, and, and then you decide who is the best candidate for me to send this to be realistic. There’s, you know, there are local and Community Media outlets that are perfectly relevant PR opportunities for many people. And there are national and international media outlets that are going to be relevant for very few people. So be realistic, when you’re setting your target of where you actually want to get. Get your attention and traction, and you build your contact list. You know, it’s just grunt work, finding out how you reach these people and recognize that newsrooms and media outlets are extremely busy places they receive hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of calls and emails. And so you need to be a) respectful b), you need to be very clear on what the benefit is to that reporter or producer or whoever it is that you’re pitching, why they should be interested, respect their time. And, and, and, and follow through. So those would be kind of the mechanical steps to go through.
Sacha Black Yeah, and and that that was kind of what I was getting at as, as well. And I guess one of the other things, I suppose is for you to have things prepared in advance. So they might ask for a call type sheet of your books. Oh, you know that that kind of? Yeah, yeah.
Boni Wagner-Stafford The your your media kit.
Sacha Black Yeah,
Boni Wagner-Stafford Yeah, I want to have your release written, you want to have your one page description of what the book is who you are, as an author, you want to have print ready and web friendly images, your book cover your author photo, you want to have your contact info, you want to have you know, some people are creating business cards, you know, designed that looks similar to their books, business cards, or postcards, or bookmarks, or whatever it is. So it might there might be a product associated with that, or it can be all electronic, but so assembling, making sure that you have all your ducks in a row, you have everything you need together, that the worst thing is to make the effort to outreach and oh my god, big surprise, you get a bite and then you’re not ready. So yeah, you need to be ready with your your, your your kit.
Sacha Black Amazing. Thank you. And so this is the last question. This is always the last question. This is the rebel author podcast. So tell me about a time in your life where you were a rebel where your inner rebel came out to play
Boni Wagner-Stafford Oh my God, I’ve always been playing with my inner rebel that is so funny. Well, I you know, I don’t want to shock people so I’m not going to go back to my teenage years
Sacha Black You can shock everyone!
Boni Wagner-Stafford I’m not any of that I’ll do I’ll do something a little more a little safer till the next time we talk well, I you know, I had my my very good very well paying a management job in in Government Communications and I didn’t no longer wanted the life It gave me and so I stopped I you know, people were aghast I quit and I embarked out on my own to do my own thing took a huge risk took took huge financial hit. And people thought I was crazy. And and I was crazy. But but it was also the perfect thing for me to do at the time, I would not have the things in my life that I have now had I stayed, I would be financially better, better off but I would not be as alive and enriched and in touch with myself and the things that I want out of my life.
Absolutely. I always think it’s worth taking the risk because the benefits you I always I’m trying not to get all philosophical, philosophical, but you know, when you when you take those big leaps of faith, good things always always appear on the other side of your fear. Yeah, amen to that. Right where can where can listeners find out more about you?
Boni Wagner-Stafford www.ingeniumbooks.com ingenium is INGENIUMBOOKS.
Sacha Black Fantastic. Well, thank you very much, Bonnie for your time. I really appreciate it. And thank you to everybody listening and also thank you to everybody supporting on Patreon. If you would like to support the show and get early access to all of the episodes, then you can visit me on www.patreon.com/SachaBlack that is SACHA I’m Sacha Black, you’re listening to Boni Wagner Stafford and this was the rebel author podcast.
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