C.Lee McKenzie lives in rural California and is the author of Sliding on the Edge released in April 2009 and Princess of Las Pulgas, released December 2010. Armed with a Masters of Arts in Linguistics C.Lee teaches creative writing workshops, writes her own wonderful books, promotes and markets those books, all while trying to lead a semi-normal life, sans take-out.
An avid reader and philanthropist, C.Lee gives us the chance to look in to her world and how book marketing takes over ones life (in a good way!)
I offered C.Lee some cookies and asked her to tackle book marketing and social media with me...
How do you juggle the marketing and press of your books and still continue to find time to get the exciting stories in your head down on paper?
This is the biggest challenge I face, actually. I find that as I network online, do workshops, read and edit manuscripts, and do presentations I have less and less time to write, which is what I got into this business to do. The only way I can do all of this and not become a permanent part of my computer chair is to have a system. Mine is to blog twice a week, visit other blogs twice a week (becoming more difficult because of the numbers), go to all my forums at least once daily, and tweet five times in the morning, Monday-Friday. I like to do YaLitChat on Wednesday nights a much as possible, so I do return to Twitter on that night.
Because I'm a Mod at YaLitChat I try do at least four crits each week--notice I say "try." To do a good job takes a lot of time and I feel it's important to take that time with each entry. I also try to visit my groups there and if there's something going on I like to poke my nose in or leave some information.
How did you learn to market your books?
You know the old Sink or Swim tactic? That's how I did it. I didn't know diddly-squat about promoting anything, let alone a book--my book! I was invited to join the 2009 Debs and they helped a lot. So many of them are PR savvy and very willing to share. That probably saved my writerly butt. The rest has all been by trial and error--a lot of error.
Do you research it, learn from the pro’s or just go with the flow where marketing is concerned?
I do visit a lot "how to" blogs. I've also attended several sessions on Social Media at conferences and that's helped. Check out Alice Pope, she has a lot of good tips. Still, I'm in the hunt-and-peck category of self-promotion, and I'm always looking for any help in that area.
Social Media, by way of Blogging, Twitter, Facebook etc, seem to be the new alternative to any previous notion of advertising. Which do you find more effective and would you consider hiring a third party to ‘take care’ of your social media marketing, if funds allowed, of course!
I'm trying to rank these media resources. So far Facebook has brought me a lot of attention, but I'm really growing very fond of Goodreads. I offered a giveaway of Princess and had over 200 requests the first day! Now that's attention. As for Twitter, I like the quick in and out exchanges--(brilliant btw.I wish I'd come up with the 140 characters idea first.) Twitter's really helped me boost the number of followers on my blog more than anything.
It's funny that you ask about hiring help. I told my family this morning that I needed an assistant. They rolled their eyes, but I was serious. A friend of mine, who was starting a business, hired a college student to take care of email, personal matters (they bought the birthday cards; he signed them sort of thing), left a tidy "to do" list for him every afternoon. That gave him back an amazing number of hours each week. I'm not sure if that would work for me--well, the birthday cards definitely not. I love to do those myself, but maybe tweets? Maybe an occasional blog post when I'm in a twist for time? I don't know, just thinking about it.
Apart from copious amounts of caffeine, is planning your day and sticking to it your best bet to coping with your long days?
I guess the short answer is yes. I like to set aside really early mornings for writing. That would be about 4-6; then I go through my list that I mentioned above and do what I call The Business of Writing. I'm a very morning person, so if I give my writing the mornings I actually give it the best of my brain. If I'm lucky I can get back to what I've written later in the day to read and edit or toss or cry, depending on what I find there after the passion of morning writing has passed.
Does planning exhaust your creativity by sitting down at a certain time to write instead of when it strikes?
I understand that I can't plan when I'm going to get just the right idea, so planning and creativity are completely separate for me. I only plan the best time to write, and then conjure my muse. He's quite fickle (I'll send you a picture and you'll understand. You don't have to use it if you don't want to.) so I can't schedule around him. However, my pad and pencil are an added appendage. When I'm grabbing the carton of milk from the refrigerated section of my favorite grocery store and the best scene I've ever conceptualize comes into my head, I takes out my trusty spiral notebook and I writes. I'm sure I annoy shoppers, but when you gotta write, you gotta write. Right?
Right now, your fans can contact you at your website http://cleemckenziebooks.com Can you ever see yourself not being accessible?
You know, that's an interesting question. I was thinking that if I died tomorrow all of that stuff I've written or images I've posted would remain, like, forever? Of course, if I'm long gone, accessibility wouldn't be an issue for me, but that "forever idea" kind of bothers me. A more direct answer to your question is not really. If someone takes the time to contact me and wants to "talk" to me about my book or their book or any writing-related issue, I think I'll enjoy it.
Thank you so much for taking five to fill us in on your book marketing adventures, maybe that could be your next book...
Ha! That's a great idea. Let me jot it down in my spiral notebook.