Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Industry Insider: Author Sound Relations' Lee Hyat

Please welcome Lee Hyat, owner of Author Sound Relations as our Industry Insider guest today!  Welcome to the PHS, LEE!


How did Author Sound Relations get started?

Hi and thank you for inviting me for an interview at PHS!

I started Author Sound Relations when a good author friend encouraged me to put down solid roots on the internet via my own website. I’d already been working with her and a few other authors for two years by then. I suppose I needed a push and she provided it.


Why would an author choose to outsource promo?

Authors are busy people and even though writing is a solitary profession, it can really sap one’s energy. It’s never easy juggling a full time job and a family and still be able to give 100% to all your responsibilities every day. Add to this the fact that a lot of writers don’t enjoy self-promotion and feel stressed out more than usual when it comes to publicizing their new book.

Outsourcing your promo can help you present a cheerful ‘game face’ at all times and give the impression that you’ve got everything under control. It can help ensure you stick to your projects and deadlines and have plenty of time for family and don’t get overwhelmed.

It’s time consuming to keep up with all the emails, the social media sites, coming up with new contests and promotions for each book, handling reader / fan mail, lining up reviews and interviews, sending out goodies to conferences, and so on. Making sure you and your book are well represented, especially when you can’t be everywhere, is not an easy thing to juggle with an already packed schedule. Best of all, outsourcing doesn’t have to cost a fortune.


What are the particular benefits for a series author, considering the short shelf life?

Most series authors have more deadlines in a year than a single-title author, and more pressure to keep up with said deadlines plus all the other responsibilities in life. If you left the promo part to someone else and just concentrated on the writing, it could mean more time to write, ease of delivering completed manuscripts on time and still leave time for family and a little fun.

I’ve had one series author client tell me she found time to write one more novel each year by outsourcing her promo.


What are authors' biggest mistakes with promo?

Here are a few I personally think authors should be careful about –

*Not having a professionally designed and well maintained website. If you’re published you ‘must’ have a website so readers can find you. Your website is the first step in promo and also your ‘home’ on the internet. Put some good money into the designing by having a professional handle it for you.

*Not giving enough promotional importance to your book just because of the short shelf-life. Your books are available a full month prior to the actual release date and then for a full month (or even longer) online ‘after’ the shelf life. Milk that availability for all it’s worth. The shorter the shelf-life, the more concentrated your promo should be. You need to let readers know you’ve got a new book coming out soon and to create a buzz. Buzz creates energy and can help build momentum when a new author debuts or when a new book comes out.

*Failure to build a reader contact list. From the moment you receive your first fan letter, it’s important to start building your contact list. Make sure you know how and where to reach them (email and mailing address).

*Disregarding the power of the banner ad. I’ve heard some authors say a banner is a waste of time and money. I strongly disagree. A banner is a stress free way of getting some advertising for your book and name exposure for yourself. It’s silent advertising. The power doesn’t lie in the number of ‘clicks’ your website receives from that ad. (they’re definitely a perk but not the main purpose of a banner ad.) The power is in continuous name recognition and title exposure.

*Failing to put some careful thought into your business card or promo goodie. Please don’t take advantage of that the great offer that just popped into your mailbox for 250 free business cards (or postcards) – no matter how tempting it sounds. We’re talking about your reputation here and this business is all about perception. Perception is Everything! Spend a little time on research. Your local Office Depot can give you a really great deal on these cards if going to a designer is too expensive at the moment.


What upcoming trends do you see in promo?

There seems to be strong emphasis on ensuring authors are being interactive in online communities and social media websites. Anything that involves interaction with your readers, like blogging, book trailers, special excerpts and rewarding readers, is important. They’re your fans and they want to interact with you. Give them the opportunity and a place to be your fans and remember to continuously reward them.


What kind of promotion do you think has the most impact on sales?

Excerpts - Putting an excerpt in the hands of your readers always goes a long way to help those sales numbers. Don’t wait for the reader to visit your website and find the excerpt. If you’re investing money in promotional goodies, instead of a cheap magnet and even cheaper pen, think about offering a card or booklet featuring a short excerpt with a hook to make them more curious about your book.

Newsletters that deliver excerpts, recipes, photos, character or location trivia and other fun stuff to readers in their mailbox. Encourage them to go out (or online) and buy the book without actually saying ‘go buy my book’. Newsletters are also a good way to make yourself available to readers one-on-one and help drive more traffic to your website.

Launch Contests – I know they cost money but you can be creative with them and make it fun. Readers are your fans. Fans love to be rewarded for showing you their love and support. If you keep rewarding them now and then, they’ll keep coming back and they’ll create the online buzz to help you sell more books.

Word of mouth and reader interaction – create that buzz online. Get your die-hard fans to help you spread the word about your upcoming book and be sure you’re available on social media sites, online forums and / or your blog regularly so fans can reach out to you.


What gives you the greatest pleasure in your job?

I love it most when a client is pleased with the results of our promotional efforts; when a client’s book goes back for a second printing within six weeks or when a client emails to say she hit the NYT list with the first book we’ve worked on together for promo. Days like those make all the hard work and late nights worth it. I know the author(s) feel thrilled when they get such great news because they’ve put their heart and soul into making the book the best it can be but it helps me feel validated too – that all the promotional efforts I’ve helped put in have borne fruit and made my client feel pleased. It’s a really satisfying feeling.


What books are you looking forward to reading?

I have a lot of books on my tbr (and eBook) pile but a few right on top include Liz Fielding’s A Wedding At Leopard Tree Lodge, Donna Alward’s Sold To The Highest Bidder, Leigh Duncan’s The Officer’s Girl and A Cowboy’s Plan by Mary Sullivan. In terms of upcoming books, I’m really looking forward to reading Caitlin Crews second book but I think it’s going to be a while before I can get my hands on that one!


And the big one – are you still writing????

Thank you for asking. Yes, I am still writing though not as often as I might like to – or I should. Right now I’m trying to finish a partial for submission to Harlequin. My fingers are crossed… for so many reasons!


Thanks Lee for the great interview!

You can check out Author Sound Relations at www.authorsoundrelations.com .  Don't forget to check out the ASR blog featuring a different author each day, and the Goody Room!

22 comments:

  1. Terrific interview, Lee and so full of wise stuff. I really wish I'd had someone like you to go to when I'd had my first book published!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lee, this is so interesting - great interview. Wonderful advice on promotion for stressed out authors :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very timely post, Lee - my first novel 'Turning the Tide' is out this June and it's the promo side that is freaking me out a tad. I was also about to reach for 'those' business cards...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello Lee! How wonderful to see you here - and to have all this wise stuff and great advice gathered in one place. Like Liz I wish I'd had someone with your very special expertise around in the early days of my career.

    Now of course you're helping me with the USA promo for my books and I am so grateful for your flair and efficiency in that. It's been invaluable - as has your friendship.

    Here's to seeing ASR go from strength to strength - and my fingers are so tightly crossed for your writing too.

    Thanks for everything you do Lee
    love
    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your hard earned expertise. It's fascinating and informative. I think knowing what and how much promotion to do is one of the hardest things for a writer!

    Good luck with that Harlequin submission.

    Annie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for a wonderfully informative and insightful post.

    I second Liz and Kate - I wish someone with your expertise was around when my first book was published.

    All the best with your Harlequin submission.

    Helen

    ReplyDelete
  7. Liz: Very helpful interview. As a long time reviewer with The Romance Readers Connection, I know how much work goes into getting a book published and marketed. Your interview was so informative! Good luck on the Harlequin book! geri pearson (reviewing for TRRC as Jeri Neal)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Lee!
    It's great to see you here. Thanks for a wonderful and informative interview. Good luck with Harlequin.

    Dara

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lee, I'm printing out your interview and saving it where I can see it. It's full of all the good stuff that we need to keep in mind about how to be sure our books get found amid all the other books on the shelves. Thank you for your insights and for sharing them with us!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Lee!

    As an avid reader, your interview revealed all the right ways to grab the fans attenetion in buying an authors book. My favorite promo's are the author's newletter. I am subscribed to a lot! To me this is the best way to keep up-to-date on all their books. I never miss a thing!

    Yes, banners are a good thing! It always catches my attention right away and I read it!

    Blogs are my second favorite way to keep in the know. Lee's blog, TOTE BAGS N BLOGS, is the best one out there and my personal favorite! I have been with her blog ever since it started. She has a wide range of authors who guest every day which is pretty amazing in itself! I can just imagine Lee how much work it is lining up all those great authors!

    Thanks again Lee for a wonderful interview and my congratulations on such a fantastic blog!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That was a pleasure to read, Lee. It's really helpful to have these things explained, and the ASR blog is a delight. Good luck with your writing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Lee - good advice on promo!! I'm glad to see that I'm taking most of your advice! Thanks for a wonderful interview!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great interview, Lee! Tks so much for taking the time to give us advice. You rock!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a great interview! Loved it, Lee, and as you know, I follow most of your advice as I'm one of the authors that couldn't live without you! Well, I could maybe live without you, but couldn't survive the publishing life without you. You beautifully handle so much of my PR and promo and business. Thanks tons!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Couldn't agree more with all you've said, Lee. Wish I'd found you earlier in my career! It was lovely working with you on my Fox & Fisher books.

    Cheers from CJ

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a great article!
    Lee, you were the first person to interview me when my first book for Harlequin Mills and Boon, A Spanish Inheritance was released in 2003 and we've been friends ever since -
    For a very good reason - I like you, trust you, and enjoy your company, as much as I admire your work ethic and brilliant ideas
    Long live Author Sound Relations and the fab Lee Hyat!
    And keep on with that writing!
    Love Sue xx

    ReplyDelete
  18. Lee, you did great things for me, and I hope to work again with you soon!

    Best,

    Jessica Barksdale Inclan

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lee,

    What a great interview. I'm def one of your biggest fans!

    Kudos, kisses, congrats for a great article!

    Lisa Dale

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lee, thanks for visiting today. :-) I think my favourite promo we've done together is the Newswire...and for those of you who haven't tried Lee's work yet - she does LOVELY design work!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I enjoyed it, Donna. :) Thank you!

    And thanks so much to all my friends for this wonderful support!!

    Lee x

    ReplyDelete