3 S.R. Johannes: Marvelous Marketer: Anastasia Goodstein, editor-in-chief of Ypulse

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Anastasia Goodstein, editor-in-chief of Ypulse

Hi Anastasia. First, I am sure our
readers would like to know all about
YPulse and how it got started.

Ypulse is a media platform for youth media and marketing professionals. We publish a blog, Ypulse.com; a newsletter, the Ypulse Daily Update; as well as several conferences each year, the Ypulse Mashup events. We are coming up on our 5th anniversary.
I started Ypulse.com in May of 2004 and am the editor-in-chief. I also provide editorial direction on all Ypulse Mashups as well as creative direction for the overall Ypulse brand.

Ypulse.com reaches a highly influential audience of agency, brand and media executives as well as social marketers trying to reach our youth (tweens, teens and early twentysomethings). With a unique blend of readers and conference attendees, we all get a rare opportunity to learn from academics and youth advocates who are working with youth on a daily basis. This benefits many different sectors including authors, corporations, and non-profits.

I am very excited because Ypulse is also named one of the top 100 marketing blogs on Ad Age’s Power 150 List. We have been featured in several leading publications including USA Today, Business Week, Forbes, and Fast Company.

I started my career in the non-profit youth media space at Teen Voices. I have worked in media for the past 15 years and have helped many launch youth oriented web and television properties for brands like Oxygen, AOL and Current TV. I have won awards for my blog and know a lot about our tweens, teens and early twentysomethings.

My first book about teens and technology called Totally Wired: What Teens & Tweens Are Really Doing Online was published by St. Martin's Press.

In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book?

My top 3:

1) Know your audience...and where they hang out online. Book promotion can be very time consuming, so if you aren't a full-time author, you need to figure out who will buy your book and be strategic about where you spend time promoting online and what you do to promote (blog, create videos, Twitter, etc.) It's impossible to be everywhere and impractical to create/maintain every kind of "social media" out there. Pick and choose the right sites and the right content for your audience.

2) Unless you are a big name, skip the bookstore tour. Pick a cool indie bookseller in your hometown and have a nice launch event there (inviting all your friends and family). Other than that, unless you're a well known name, don't waste time at bookstore events where 2-5 people will show up, often "regulars" who go to all the events and never buy your book! Obviously if you have large contact networks in certain cities, and know YOU can turn out a bigger audience, then do it. But if you're relying on the bookstore to pack them in, forget it. Instead do events that make sense. If your book is for teens, reach out to YA librarians who are passionate about this audience and usually know how to fill a room.

3) If you have the discipline to post at least 2-3 times a week, use a blog to build an audience for your book before it comes out. Get people excited, let them get to know you, build an email list and most importantly elevate your search results -- the more you post and tag your blog posts the more people find you and your content and ultimately your book.

In your opinion, how important is social networking? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter

Social networking is as important or useful as your network is. If you only have 20 friends on Facebook and they're mostly your real life friends and family, and you blanket them with book promotion status updates and links....well, I'm sure they'll put up with it being your friends and family, but if you have a couple hundred friends, colleagues (past and present), your reaching a much larger radius of people. Still there's a lot of noise on big social networking sites, and I'm not convinced they will make you a best seller.

That said, it's worth creating a group or a page on Facebook, and if your book is for teens, make sure you have one on MySpace, too (and hire a teen with lots of friends to help promote it on both MySpace and Facebook through their networks). I think sites like GoodReads are even better because people are there to find out about new books and are more likely to buy them. Twitter takes time to cultivate real followers and effort to be part of the Twitterverse -- not just promoting yourself but participating in the larger conversations to build trust and credibility and/or being witty/clever in 140 characters or less. If you have the time/bandwidth, it can be very valuable. Just as with my bookstore analogy, I think it depends on how well known you are -- with social networks and Twitter, how big your networks are to begin with as far as what kind of impact you'll have right away vs. building up your networks in the course of promoting your book.

What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?

One thing we as writers know how to do that other folks trying to market products sometimes don't is WRITING. Blogs and other websites LOVE good, free content. Guest post, offer to write newsletter articles, etc. and make sure your book is mentioned and/or integrated in some way (include the cover!). Work with your publicist to be able to do book giveaways combined with Q&As for blogs. We run them all the time on Ypulse.

Readers love getting free books, bloggers love having stuff to give away to loyal readers and you get great publicity. If you're publicist will mail the books out (so the blog doesn't have to) even better. And if you have a YA title, reach out to high school newspapers for reviews. Teens also love getting free books, and believe it or not they still read their high school newspapers. Teens also love contests....So think "free" (i.e. getting free books to influencer teens) and contests. I would also suggest hooking up with folks like Not Your Mother's Book Club, Readergirlz and the folks at YALSA. All do a great job promoting YA titles to teens.

As the author of Totally Wired: What Teens & Tweens Are Really Doing Online, did you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random? If not, why? Would you like to?

I definitely had a plan and ideas about where to try and target my efforts, but as a first time author I also learned a lot of lessons the hard way. I sat in empty bookstores and libraries where I assumed they would promote me instead of me promoting me. I was invited to speak at a PTA meeting, and once I saw how successful that was for reaching my audience, I began suggesting it to parents who would reach out to me. I did countless blog interviews, podcast interviews, guest posts, newsletter articles, etc.

What helped me the most was having an established blog and readership going in -- that's why you see bloggers get book deals. My readers bought 6K copies of my book the first month. I spend the next 8 months selling around 4K more copies little by little. Because Ypulse has five years worth of posts online, I have very good search results around anything teen or tween or Gen Y related.

I did get publicity through my publicist that was directly related to the book, but I continue to get publicity (two years later) from reporters finding me via search. I did lots of radio/talk/NPR, tons of newspaper stuff and local and national TV. Still my national TV appearances were very short and usually just a quick expert comment in response to some incident that would happen involving teens and tech -- yes, they would show the book cover, and it's great, but it's not like an in-studio segment on the Today Show or a longer appearance on Oprah. And even if you're lucky enough for that to happen, there's just no guarantee it will move hundreds of books.

What has also helped me was having a great agent at a large agency (ICM). When ICM made a deal with the American Program Bureau (a large speakers bureau) to represent its authors, I suddenly had a lecture agent and began getting paid speaking engagements around the book (I still get them). Very often our speaker's contract mandates that they have a book sale/signing as part of the engagement. So the book keeps going...even after I've officially stopped promoting it.

No matter how well your book sells, just remember, having a book and being a published author is still a huge calling card, credential, credibility builder, even in this "totally wired" world.

Just getting published is a huge accomplishment. :)

Thank you for taking the time to join us today.

Thank you Shelli!


Katie Anderson said...

Ooo good interview Shelli! I like this girl! she knows her stuff.

Casey Something said...

Definitely a great interview. Thanks, Anastasia, for bringing some new thoughts to the table. Loved this one!

And, always, thanks Shelli!

Carrie Harris said...

As always, this is a fabulous interview! Thanks!

Sherrie Petersen said...

How interesting that she recommends skipping the big book stores. It does make sense to reach out to librarians and do events there. Cool ideas!

Irene Latham said...

Shelli, I love these interviews so much. Also LOVE Goodreads. :)

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

It's interesting she says she continued getting publicity two years later. I wonder if that is more common for nonfiction books than for fiction books?

Robin Constantine said...

Great interview, Shelli! I love getting more info on how to use social networking sites as a promotion tool. It can all get so confusing sometimes.