Thursday, July 21, 2011

Follow Up Questions for Kirt Forakis- Marketing Director At Cedar Fort

I appreciate Kirt taking the time to answer the questions I posted yesterday. As I read and prepared the blog I had a few other questions pop into my mind. I asked Kirt if he would answer my follow up questions and he is gracious to answer.

Steve: How is the marketing budget for a project decided? Is there a standard marketing package or is the marketing plan created for each unique project?

Kirt: Each project is a little unique and and we decide as a team what a budget will be. We don’t focus as much towards “how much,” but rather what types of advertising will work for a particular book. Some books will get a budget that is used towards traditional marketing, but it is not as effective as it once was. We would rather focus time and effort on social media. Authors are able to reach hundreds and thousands of people with little or no money spent. Authors can participate in blog tours and interact with followers through Facebook and other types of social media. Authors should not feel bad if they do not get a budget for traditional marketing. In most cases this just means that we feel an author can reach their audience better through social media and face to face interactions. There will need to be a unique marketing plan for each book as well. The type of book will determine the type of blogs an author will want to engage in and so forth.

Steve: What is your philosophy for expending marketing dollars to get CF books into Deseret Book, Seagull and other catelogs?

Kirt: This is a topic that I have not gotten fully involved with and can get back to you later.

Steve: How does Cedar Fort plan to increase marketing and distribution within large chain stores such as Wal-Mart or Costco from regional to national participation?

Kirt: This falls more on our sales team, however as a marketing department we provide our sales team with ammunition. We need to get our sales team anything that will help get books into those chains. This is why we seek for book reviews, press releases, public relation info and more to support a book. If an author has any info, stats or material to help our sales team, we would like the material sent to us. The authors who put in the time to provide ammunition, such as press releases and developing large followings on social media, have a much better chance getting into large chains and selling well.

Steve: Will the marketing department discuss with the author the plans they have regarding the breadth of marketing? (ie LDS bookstores only, or Regional, or national plans)

Kirt: Most books that are LDS can expect to be more regional. There are some LDS books that have an appeal to a larger audience and sometimes we don’t know that until we see a demand for it. As we work with the authors, we will inform them of our efforts and what direction we are moving for their book.

Steve: A while back Mr. Mortimer stated that Cedar Fort plans to offer advances for books that have national appeal. How does this play into Cedar Fort's marketing strategy?

Kirt: If we have a good notion that a book will have a national appeal, we will focus our efforts a little differently. Again, this comes down to what type of book and the audience. We work as a team to form our plan geared towards each book. Online and social media is already national so we would just need to teak what is being done on it a little. As far as traditional marketing, we will consider our options and where the money will be best spent for an individual book.

Conclusion: Hopefully these posts over the last 2 days has shed a little bit of light on the marketing philosophies and workings within Cedar Fort. These interviews may have raised questions for you personally and I encourage everyone who has questions to work closely with their production team at their publishing house so that you are able to gain knowledge and understanding about the business side of publishing and also to ensure that you are satisfied with the end product. It has been nice getting to know Kirt and I appreciate his time and willingness to participate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview with Cedar Fort Marketing Director- Kirt Forakis

I'd like to welcome Kirt Forakis and thank him for taking the time to answer my questions. He is the new Marketing Director for Cedar Fort Publishing and has important insights into the author and publisher relationship regarding marketing. While this information is specific to Cedar Fort, it may also be useful to others of you working with a different publisher.

Steve: Please tell us something you are normally too shy or humble to admit about yourself.

Kirt: I won Utah state champion in physics and represented Utah in Nationals and was on the Deans list almost every semester in college.

Steve: As Marketing Director, how will your marketing experience strengthen Cedar Fort as a publisher?

Kirt: Cedar Fort wants to get more involved with social media and gorilla marketing and I have seen success using both methods. I will help Cedar Fort expand their marketing avenues using proven methods and creative thinking.

Steve: How has your previous experience prepared you for this new role?

Kirt: First, I love marketing and advertising. It is a passion for me and I never stop learning or trying new ideas. Second, I have a lot of experience. I have used almost every advertising method I can find and have used several different ad campaigns and designs. Tracking is also important to me and I have tracked most the campaigns I have run. I have a good idea of what types of advertising tends to work and what does not. I have experience organizing and managing events, giveaways, websites, social media outlets, design teams, customer service, PR and media relations.

Steve: What is your marketing philosophy?

Kirt: In short, marketing needs to generate results and wow your audience. I believe you need to capture the attention of your audience within a few seconds and from there have a call to action that creates a direct response, preferably a purchase. From there, it needs to be as easy as possible to move from the advertisement or media to the decision making and purchasing phase.

Steve: What should writers expect from the publisher in terms of marketing effort?

Kirt: We will be using our experience and creativity to help authors reach their audience and reach their goals. Authors are the best marketing tools and so our goal is to teach them and give them direction in their efforts. We will work with authors throughout the entire process to help create a marketing plan and other materials that will be useful to make their book successful.

Steve: What should the author do personally to market their work?

Kirt: Everything they can! A publisher can only do so much and go so far. The author holds the keys and can make the difference between an average selling book and a top seller. Authors need to finish two important steps for their book to sell well. First, write a great book and second, do a great job marketing it. We will be producing an author training packet that will outline what an author can and should be doing to market their book that will contain details, examples, tips and screen shoots. Again, we will be here to help along the way and get authors started in the right direction.

Steve: What is your vision for marketing LDS based fiction and non-fiction in the LDS community?

Kirt: This will depend on the demographics for the book. There are several ways to market a book and first you start with “who” you are going to market to. Once you know the “who”, then we can plan the “how”. There are several LDS websites, blogs and social media sites that appeal to certain markets and we will find the ones that work for individual books. We already work with some LDS based media and authors are encouraged to find more places to talk about and discuss there books.

Steve: What is your vision for marketing Non LDS based fiction and non-fiction regionally and nationally?

Kirt: Again, this depends on the “who”. We have several media outlets for national and regional, but the genre of the book with direct the process further. For example, we will focus cookbooks to media that involves cooking in general. The author is advised to seek out any form of media related to their book and contact them. Some will request the publisher to contact them and we will contact corporate in such cases. Using marketing material will help your chances of getting on these media outlets such as reviews and press releases. These items should be thought through and included in the marketing plan.

Steve: What should every author understand about the marketing process at Cedar Fort?

Kirt: First, we need to start getting support material such as reviews, press releases, endorsements and so forth. These will be useful for creating buzz and initial sales. It is good to talk with authors over the phone or in person to make sure we understand each other and establish a good working relationship. Second, we will put together a marketing plan that outlines the “who” and the “how” for the book. It will include an outline and details for dates, goals and possibilities that need explored by the authors and by us. Social media will need to be set up and authors will need to be interactive on them to generate followers. The authors will then start plans for a launch event, book signings and interviews. We are here to help. We will work with corporate and other places where an author can get stuck such as Deseret Book and Barnes and Nobel. Training material is being created as fast as we can and will be a valuable resource for authors for a step by step of the marketing process.

Thanks Kirt. I look forward to seeing the Author Training Packet.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spurt Writing

I sometimes find that I don't spend the time writing that I ought to. A day will go by and then two. Then a week, three weeks, a month. Yikes. Maybe the rest of you aren't slackers like I am, but time can easy float by without any writing accomplishments. Why is this? I want to write. I like to write. How can I let so much time pass without writing? There are a couple of simple answers.

1- Life is busy. Shocker! It doesn't feel like I have enough time to make meaningful progress on my WIP. I am a slow reader and a slow writer and I need a significant period of time to commit. I can't sit down for 20 minutes and knock out a page on my WIP and then get back to my other activities. It just doesn't work for me.

2- I lose focus and get out of practice. Then I start procrastinating because I know it will take even longer to get into the flow of writing my scene.

3- I don't feel creative. Maybe my creative energies are spread too thin. My well is only so deep and I have already depleted my creative juices at work, church, family etc. Do you ever feel this way?What can we do about it?

Spurt Writing- short writing periods of 5-10 minutes. What are the benefits of Spurt Writing?

1- It is easy to find 5-10 minutes as opposed to a 2 or 3 hour block of time to write. If I don't have enough time to spend on my WIP then I can spend a shorter period of time writing something else. Anything else.

2- It allows me to stay fresh and in practice in organizing my thoughts by observing and describing what I see or feel. Short spurts help me to avoid long writing haituses. Instead of writing on my WIP I can spend 5 minutes describing how to fold a paper airplane out of the brochure on my desk. I can describe the taste of a sour Skittle. I can describe the smell of the berry hand sanitizer that glopped onto my shirt.

3- Writing helps me generate creativity. I often start writing with no clue whatsoever what I want to write. Once I start writing the scene or character takes on a life of its own. If you don't know where to start, begin with a "what if?" senario and see what happens.

As writers we must organize our thoughts and find interesting ways to describe the world we are creating. We can practice this even when we can't write. If there is no keyboard around and you don't want to waste your time scribbling something down because you know you won't be able to read it later, and you haven't had a chance to write today, spend 5 minutes describing OUT LOUD the way your body feels as you're working out. Describe the pain, exhaustian, exhiliration. Describe out loud the way the leaves flutter in the wind or the muggy dampness of the air you're breathing. Speaking often helps me find the proper rhythm.

If you find you are not spending the amount of time writing you would like, start with the short spurt. Take 5 minutes and describe simple things at your home, or in your garden, or thoughts that pop into your mind as you hear a verdict in a high profile murder case, or the emotions you feel when a driver cuts you off in traffic. It can be anything.

For me, this helps. Fine, I don't have time to write a chapter today, or even this week. There's no use beating myself up about it. But maybe something I describe in my Spurt Writing will spark some creativity and find its way into a later work.