Marketing Q&A: Anne Chaconas
We’ve been using our author Q&A feature as a glimpse into the world of an author – how s/he came to be a writer, the struggles s/he faced, the most triumphant moments.
Books don’t fly straight from the author’s brain into your hands, of course. Several other professionals have a hand in making sure a writer’s hard work is polished and publicized.
We had the chance to pick the brain of one marketing specialist recently. Anne Chaconas, who prefers to call herself a marketing ninja, launched Badass Marketing in April 2013 and has been unleashing her clients’ inner badasses ever since.
Here are some of her insights; we’ll be sharing more in the not-too-distant future.
SADYE: How did you come to launch Badass Marketing?
ANNE: I worked for a variety of different companies and corporations in the years after college, but they all had one underlying theme: I was always the one finding ways to advertise products and seeking out audiences. I loved the work I was doing, but I didn't like working for someone else's business.
So, in April of 2013, I decided to take all the knowledge I’d acquired through years of corporate America drudgery, quit said corporate gig, and start a business specializing in helping authors kick some serious ass. I'd made lots of friends and connections in the indie publishing world through avid reading and had already helped a few author friends with small marketing tasks pro bono, since I had the knowledge and they needed the help.
So, I figured — why not get paid to do the thing I was already doing for free? … My author friends were always telling me how much they hated marketing their books. But launching and marketing a book shouldn't suck. It should be exciting and fun. It shouldn't make you want to slit your wrists. It should be the awesome culmination of an excellent creative process.
SADYE: What does that mean, then, for the writer?
ANNE: I help authors increase their social media presence. I distill their personality and turn it into an unforgettable brand. I create kickass ad campaigns and get the buzz started for books. I create massive book launch plans, and get those books to the top of the Amazon lists. I launch viral social campaigns, make fabulous live-action book trailers, get naughty with memes, and make Photoshop my bitch.
In short: I unleash my clients' inner badass.
SADYE: Are many authors skeptical of the need to hire a marketer? And how would you refute someone who says it’s an unnecessary expense?
ANNE: Nowadays, I don't have to do quite as much “proving” as I used to – but my client list is also compromised of authors who have been in the game for at least a few years and know that having a partner and a sounding board when it comes to the marketing side of things provides a certain peace of mind that they just cannot find on their own.
I find that debut authors are pretty skeptical still – mostly, I think, because they don't have a backlist to worry about (yet). Once they do and their time becomes split between trying to write the next book and marketing the one they just wrote, the skepticism tends to go away, and hiring someone to do the heavy lifting on the marketing side of things becomes much more attractive.
SADYE: How do you respond to those skeptics, then?
ANNE: If you're having success doing it on your own and you're enjoying doing it … why hire someone to do what you can do well yourself? It doesn't make sense.
But if you find that (1) you are spending more time marketing your existing books than writing new ones, (2) you're just not having the kind of success you want to have (particularly if you're spending a lot of your time doing marketing work), or (3) the very thought of marketing your books makes you die a little inside – then looking into hiring someone to market your books for you is a smart move.
Think about the time you're spending doing your own marketing, and compare it to what would happen if you took all that time and instead spent it writing – would that result in you making more money (even after paying someone to market your books for you)? If the answer is yes, then you should definitely get a marketer.
SADYE: What characteristics should an author look for when “interviewing” a marketer?
ANNE: Personal compatibility is key, because you're going to be working very closely with this person – handing them your creative babies, so to speak – and you're almost always going to be working on projects with a fair bit of pressure behind them (since, fun as they can be, book launches and book promotions can be pretty stressful as you wait to see if your efforts pay off). If you don't like them right off the bat, this relationship will just never work.
Transparency and the willingness to share are also essential. Whoever you work for has to be okay with sharing any work they do for you. Refusing to share didn't work well when you were in grade school, and it doesn't work now. Hoarding information and keeping it from you will keep the balance of power off-kilter – and that's no way to work together.
… On the flip side, they should be wary of people who make any sort of sale numbers or rankings guarantees. I know from experience that a book launch is wildly unpredictable – sometimes, even if you do everything right, a book might fizzle out after a day or never really take off – so if the person they're interviewing tells them they can "guarantee" them a certain number of sales or a particular placement on bestseller lists, an author should wonder what's really going on.