Editor’s note: We thought it would be useful to feature publishing professionals who manage spoons! You can also check out our Writing Resources menu for more tips and consultants!
This week, Dianna Gunn answers some of our questions about marketing and branding!
SpAN: Can you describe the services you offer?
Dianna G: I offer a variety of services through two brands: my own personal brand and the Weeknight Writers Group.
Under my name, I offer workbooks and consultation packages to help authors with various aspects of the business side of publishing. These focus mostly on marketing, drawing experience from my “day job” as a freelance blogger who specializes in business and marketing topics. The main workbooks currently available are Branding for Fiction Authors, the Twitter Planner, and the Content Subscription Planner. All of my existing workbooks can either be printed or used as journaling guides. For extra guidance, you can hire me to do a one-hour consultation where I go through your completed worksheets and offer suggestions to help you improve your marketing materials plus find marketing opportunities that fit your genre(s).
As the founder of the Weeknight Writers Group, I run a premium Discord server where writers can get accountability check-ins for writing and marketing as well as areas for brainstorming, moral support, market listings for short fiction, and monthly workshops. The Weeknight Writers Group also hosts Storycrafting Sessions, free one-day virtual conferences that explore specific aspects of writing. In 2022 our events are genre-based, focusing on Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
SpAN: Many authors struggle with self-marketing. How do you try to make this easier for them?
Dianna G: Honestly, for a lot of writers half of the battle is convincing them that marketing their work isn’t gross or unethical. I remind them of the stories that changed their lives and the fact that their stories could also change lives, but only if people know about them! I think it’s really important to focus on the power and value of stories, which really can’t be overstated. I mean, fascists wouldn’t be so determined to ban books if they were powerless objects.
In terms of the services I offer, a lot of what I do is take marketing concepts I’ve learned through various entrepreneurship programs, years of research, and my own experience running a business (or three), and boil them down into their most basic components. My goal is basically to explain it so it’s easy to comprehend because a lot of authors are so overwhelmed by marketing. I reframe everything to minimize common marketing jargon and focus on language specific to books.
SpAN: What are the common “mistakes” you find when authors are trying to promote their work?
Dianna G: The most common mistake I see is authors taking a scattershot approach to marketing, flitting between strategies on a whim and also going for long periods of time with no marketing at all. And, honestly, I get it; we’ve all got too much on our plates and I struggle to market my work consistently too. But at the very least, you should be paying attention to how well each marketing campaign works. Take notes on when you see sales bumps and what they correspond to. Treat it like a scientific experiment and get specific. If you’re running a campaign on social media, you can even encourage people to tell you when they buy the book. Once you know what works, you can repeat and refine that process so that when you do have time for marketing, you’re pouring it into things that actually work.
SpAN: How can authors improve their online presence (website, social media)?
Dianna G: The two things I wish authors considered more are SEO and graphics.
SEO is Search Engine Optimization, the art of making your work more visible to Google and Amazon. Basically, it boils down to finding a balance between using relevant words with high search volumes and making sure your text still conveys important information/is pleasant to read. You can find keywords using free tools like the Google Keyword Planner.
Graphics are a bit more self-explanatory. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to do well if you’re not a graphic designer. This makes it important to read up on principles of design and use high-quality graphics tools like Canva. Or, if you can afford to, hire someone to create your graphics.
SpAN: Where can people find more info about your rates, business, and materials?
Dianna G: People can grab my workbooks and consultation packages from my Ko-fi store.
As for the Weeknight Writers Group, most services are offered through our Sustaining Membership Program.
Dianna Gunn is a freelance SEO writer, digital marketing consultant, indie author, podcast producer, and about 18 other things. Her dark fantasy novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian, is available through her Ko-fi store and all major ebook retailers.
When she isn’t working on her own books, Gunn helps other indie authors navigate the complex world of business and marketing. To accomplish this, she published her first workbook, Branding for Fiction Authors, in 2019.