Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cheryl Kaye Tardif - Author Interview Part 1

You're known as one of the most savvy authors in the business, does that trait come natural or did you have to work at it?
Gosh, thank you, Jeff. I'm not sure if I'd call myself savvy or just plain stubborn. I refuse to give up on something I love doing, which is writing. I believe it is every author's responsibility to do everything they can to ensure the success of their work, otherwise they'll only have regrets. I don't want to look back and think "Crap, I should've sent my books to Oprah." So I mailed them to her as each was published. She's never replied, but at least I did it. And I'm not giving up. One day I will catch her attention! :)
Much of my business sense comes from the different types of careers and jobs I've held over the years. My job background has been richly varied and gave me experience in advertising, marketing, copy writing, direct sales, telemarketing (don't hate me, people--it was a job), management, and motivational speaking. Even then, I had to learn how to be good at these things mostly on my own. I was the youngest salon owner back in the mid-80s and I had no one to teach me how to run it. I made it more successful than it had ever been, mostly because I was creative. I have been self-employed in various business ventures over the years, which is where I learned a lot about self-promotion.
I think I have a natural sense of creativity and a flare for the dramatic. I also have the ability to imagine very clearly how I would like something to work. Then I go after finding out how to make it happen. I've been practicing the "law of attraction" before I ever knew that's what it was called. There are so many tools available, especially online, that authors who want to learn how to market their books CAN. It does take work, lots of it. It's not always easy, but then again, nothing in life worth having ever comes easily. It takes dedication; you can't just try twice and then give up. If something doesn't work, find out why. Then do it again, only this time learn from mistakes and do it better. If I didn't truly believe all this and that I could learn how to market my books consistently better with each one, I wouldn't be an author who has published 4 novels and has a New York agent pitching the next one. When it comes to marketing, I am ALWAYS learning how to do more, and how to do better.
What have you found works in book promotion and what is a total waste of time?
There are many things that work and for me some of my favorites are:
  • Virtual book tours or VBTs - The VBT I held in August 2007 made my latest novel Whale Song an overnight success and Amazon bestseller, and it has continued to sell steadily ever since. This VBT also brought success to my other novels--The River and Divine Intervention--as a result. Virtual book tours can be very effective, but they must be done right. That means they need to be organized and advertised properly so that readers can find these events and feel like they're participating. One of the common mistakes I've seen when authors do a VBT is that they don't keep a schedule, so readers have no idea where to go each day. VBTs are not difficult to organize but they do take time and diligence. I've written an article on how to organize a virtual book tour (aka guest blogging, virtual author tour, online book tour...) that explains step-by-step what I did that resulted in a very successful VBT.
  • Online social networking groups - Getting involved with social networks such as Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, MySpace and Facebook result in one of the best marketing tools an author can have--word of mouth advertising. These networks encourage relationships. This is where an author can meet readers, chat with them and enjoy the company of other booklovers and authors. This is where readers go to find new books and new authors. I've written a 5-part article that shows authors how they can use online social networks as part of their marketing strategies.
  • Blogging regularly - Having a blog that is updated at least a few times a week has the ability to interest and hold onto readers. I try to give an assortment of tidbits, from sharing news to sharing some of the reviews I've received, and also to write about myself so that my readers and fans get to know more about me. Blogging is something I recommend to anyone who enjoys writing. In fact at a recent book signing a woman told me she'd been thinking of writing a book but was unsure whether she was any good as a writer or if she could even do it. I suggested that she start a blog, experiment, gain some readers, get some feedback. Blogs are a vital tool, next to an author's website.
  • Book reviewers - I found it very worthwhile to send out review copies to book reviewers, most of them just avid book readers. I contacted Amazon Top Reviewers, found other reviewers online, and used the social networks above to find people who would read my novels and review them on various review sites. Sales resulted from these reviews, from their recommendations and from comments left on review pages.