Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writers, Have Your Elevator Speech Ready

I remember attending my first trade show to represent a company and its products. My supervisor asked me, “Do you have your elevator speech ready?”

“My what?” I replied.

An elevator speech is your content condensed into the amount of time you spend in an elevator. In other words, it’s your small window of opportunity – most likely a minute or less – to interest your prospective customer in your product.

The concept of having an elevator speech for my book didn’t dawn on me until I was preparing for my first book signing.

I asked myself the question, “What will I say when someone asks me what my book is about?”

The answer may not be as obvious as it seems. As an author, you know your book better than anyone else. There’s the pro. The challenge is distancing yourself from everything you know and finding a way to summarize your 200+ page novel into two or three short sentences.  
So what should an author’s elevator speech include? Here's what I suggest.

What category or categories does your book fall into? Is it fiction or non-fiction? If it’s fiction, is it a mystery, romance, fantasy, or other? If it’s non-fiction, is it a biography, informational book, or devotional? There are dozens of genres, so be specific in identifying which ones apply to your book.

For whom did you write the book? Identifying your target audience will help anyone you’re conversing with decide if the book is right for them or someone they know.

What is so interesting about your book that would make people want to read it? This is your chance to share just enough information about your story to arouse curiosity. Don’t try to summarize your entire plot; you’ll lose your audience, and find yourself floundering to finish your sentences.  

Then, take these elements, and combine them in a way that is conversational. Here’s an example for my newly released book:
Secrets Beyond Lake Winona’s Shore is a Christian fiction mystery that young adults and families will enjoy. Abigail "Abby" Grant, my heroine from book one, stumbles upon a mystery in the lakes region of New Hampshire and must uncover forgotten Cold War secrets in time to save a man’s life. The plot explores right and wrong ways to respond to situational dilemmas while underscoring the value of forgiveness.
A related exercise would be to take your elevator speech and condense it into one sentence. For a formula, check our Rachelle Gardner’s blog on Writing a One-Sentence Summary.

The takeaway from all this is to be prepared. Don’t be caught off guard when someone says, “Hey, congrats on the new book. So what’s it about?”
Be ready to answer.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Marketing Gone Bananas

I like to watch for clever new marketing techniques, and this week, I spotted one in the fruit bowl in my kitchen.

One of the bananas had a sticker that read: I Heart Lunch Boxes. I doubt that sticker would influence anyone's buying decision, but what it does create is memorability. It's not something I expected to see, and therefore it grabbed my attention. I think marketers call that generating visibility for your brand.

Think of a commercial that's stuck in your head. Why did you remember it? Usually, it has a catching tune or something that makes you laugh - oftentimes unrelated to what the commercial is trying to sell.

Have you seen the Pampers "Beautiful Mornings" commercial? I would never have thought it possible to make a diaper commercial attractive or cute, and yet, I think Pampers has succeeded with this one - combining adorable babies with the song "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story.

And then there's the holiday season that puts on a dazzling display of marketing techniques - targeting audiences of all ages.

What lessons can self-published authors learn from all this? I think the short answer is to get creative with how you promote your book and maybe focus less on thrusting your book in front of readers and more with raising visibility and awareness for your message.

What are some "outside the box" methods you've used to market your book? Did they work and why?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kristen Hogrefe Presents a New Christian Fiction Mystery the Whole Family Will Enjoy

The press release for my second book is now available on

Summary: This second installment in the Wings of the Dawn Series offers teens and families a fresh, page-turning mystery just in time for the holiday season.

For the full press release, please follow the hyperlink below.

Kristen Hogrefe Presents a New Christian Fiction Mystery the Whole Family Will Enjoy - Christian Fiction,young adult fiction,adventure books

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Release: Wings of the Dawn, Book 2

I'm thrilled to announce the second book in my Wings of the Dawn Series, Secrets Beyond Lake Winona's Shore.

It's immediately available through CreateSpace on my page. Look for it on Amazon in the next few days. I'll share a press release with more information in the near future.

I don't believe in resting on laurels, but I'd like to reflect for just a moment. Ecclesiastes 7:8 says:
"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."
One of my professors in college used to challenge us as students to "finish well." After all, anyone can start strong, but finishing takes perseverence and hard work.
"...and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."
To be patient is to endure in spite of weariness, to press on in spite of setbacks. Yes, I am proud of my book, but not vain (or at least, I hope not). Actually, I can rather relate to Anne Bradstreet in her poem "The Author to Her Book," which begins this way:
"Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain..."
And yet, it is my desire that God take my writing, even if it is but the "ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain," and use it in such a way that would bring glory to Him and enjoyment to those who read it.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stick to Your Goals: Don't Let Go!

A couple weeks ago, I was driving to church Sunday morning when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something on my side mirror.

I glanced to the left to see a tree frog holding on for dear life. His flattened body was suctioned to the glass. Every time he tried to move, his tiny legs would flap in the wind; he quickly learned that if he wanted to survive, he couldn’t let go.

Unfortunately for me (and my irrational fear of tree frogs), he didn’t let go – even after I had parked my car. Instead, he hopped from my side mirror onto my window and refused to budge. Likely, he was too exhausted to hop off my car and decided that my side window was an inviting place to rest. However, in my mind, his position implied that the minute I opened my door, he was coming inside. So, I resorted to crawling out the passenger side to avoid him. I know... You’re probably thinking, "That’s ridiculous." Laugh if you like.

Despite my dislike – and apparent distrust – of tree frogs, this one demonstrated a quality that all of us would do well to imitate: perseverance. How many of us want to “let go” and give up when hurdles and challenges stand between us and our goals?

The temptation to throw in the towel can grow stronger when roadblocks arise, but we have to resist the urge to quit. Do you want to be an author? Don’t give up if no one seems interested in what you have to say. Reevaluate and accept constructive criticism, but don’t toss your dream aside in frustration.

Do you want to self-publish? Don’t let the process overwhelm you. Yes, you will probably encounter set-backs. Right now, I’m working through what I hope to be the last typesetting and formatting issues with the interior of my second book. The waiting and constant need to check and double check edits can be frustrating, but I know the end is in sight. I just have to hold tight, do the next right thing, and keep sight of the finish line.

Whatever your goals are, don’t let go of them. Stick to them, and one day, you will reap the rewards and satisfaction of reaching your destination.