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Tag Archives: Marketing

Are My Little Pony’s for girls?

thingIf I said “Transformers and Superheroes are for boys and your little girl is weird if she watches it” you’d probably be pissed. I know I would. As a little girl I watched tons of X-men, Batman, Spiderman, and Transformers. Heck, anything with a -man at the end was okay with me. I also watched some She-ra and a few other cartoons that were specifically for girls and the boys would shun. But not a lot of them.

Honestly, I have to admit that a part of me thought “if this isn’t good enough for boys then why am I watching it. They think it’s gross, so maybe it is.” Even today there is a small hint of shame when I say I liked She-ra as a little girl.

The dilemma: Programs are still marketed for girls or boys. They still encourage a specific gender norm. Boys like cars and superheroes. Girls like make up and fashion. But what if they don’t? Is that wrong?

I could care less about fashion and makeup, the things that are marketed to girls. I like the way I look without those things, and I buy my clothes off the discount racks because I’m not spending $300 for a pair of shoes or a dress. I like to look pretty like any other girl, but I don’t like wasting my money on “fashion”. Does that make me less of a woman? Hell no!

Society won’t tell a girl that she is wrong for watching superheroes, but they will definitely tell a boy he is wrong for watching My Little Pony’s. Why? My Little Pony’s has catchy music, nice animation style, good morals and themes, and most of all it focuses on how important friendship is. Something many children have problems with add they are distanced from one another with computers and tech. And for boys who learn that showing emotions is “girly” and makes you weak this is even better. Finally they have a role model that lets them know it’s okay to tell people what you’re really thinking/feeling.

I think the stereotype of what girls and boys like (or rather what can be sold to their parents) has been shifting for a while, and toy companies are slowly being dragged along kicking and screaming. Take the #wheresrey hashtag that’s been going around since the release of “Force Awakens”. People were PISSED that the main character of the show was no where to be seen in any of the merchandise. Because Hasbro, who had the contact for merch on Star Wars, believes that little girls don’t buy merchandise, and little boys don’t buy toys with girl dolls in them, she was no where to be seen. And it wasn’t the first time they did this. They also left out Black Widow from the Avengers set, and Gamora was left out of the Guardians of the Galaxy set and t-shirts. The Black Widow issue is so annoying they have a whole tumbler for it.

That’s why there is a difference between dolls and action figures even if they look the same. An action figure of She-ra is a doll. A doll of GI Joe is still an action figure, even if it looks a lot like a Ken doll in camos. Girls get dolls, boys get action figures, right? That’s been how it was for decades, but we’re also breaking down that stereotype. My son had a baby doll when he was two years old. He carted it around all over the place, and he loved it. I had no issues with it. I’ve seen other little boys holding dolls as well, and there are some great reasons to let kids, boys and girls, play with baby dolls. Why wouldn’t you want a boy to grow up thinking that it’s okay for him to hold a baby? Or would you rather stick with the idea that it’s “women’s work” to take care of babies?

The biggest problem is that cartoons are made to sell merchandise, not to get kids to watch them. When the creators of My Little Pony came to Hasbro with the new format (which was geared to a more modern and slightly older generation) Hasbro would not give them the go ahead unless they made the show about fashion and makeup, two things that weren’t suppose to be in the show at all when first developed. They had to make Rarity a pony with her own fashion studio to satisfy the requirements. So imagine their surprise when teen boys became their biggest demographic.

Trying to perpetuate age old stereotypes has not helped the toy industry, which is sad. The movie industry is starting to break free with movies like Frozen and Force Awakens with women playing prominent, strong roles. Why shouldn’t it be the same for boys who are allowed to watch My Little Pony’s?

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Commentary

 

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What I Learned from Neopets

ponyI use to play Neopets every day. I’d log in, do my dailies, play some games, then do something else only to come back later in the day to play my favorite games again. I figured if I was going to play those silly little flash games I may as well get something for my trouble. That “something” was a digital pet with color patterns, digital toys, digital books to read, and hours of time… wasted. Right?

I do check in with my Neopets now and then. Now it’s more to waste a little time in between writing, or when I have a spare moment available. Usually my pets are starving when I get there, and they stay starving more often then not. But as I was playing today I realized there were some things about Neopets that reflected lessons I’d learned in my every day life. Lessons that a child playing Neopets could easily understand and use later on.

Buy low, sell high!

This could be a stock exchange commercial. But seriously, it works. It works when you’re buying supplies to make jewelry or trinkets to sell  in your Etsy shop. It works when you’re sourcing the paint for your canvas, or the fabric for your dress. It works when you are scheduling your time for working on your novel. Put in less money then you sell it for. Money includes effort, time, etc.

But remember, the first few are usually the loss leaders. You don’t make money on them, you make money on volume. So don’t out price yourself. Realize that you probably will have to settle for breaking even for a little while until you manage to gain a following and some fans, and then you can go hog wild and make a living.

The more stock the more sales

This was the one that got me thinking about this article. Neopets gives you your own shop where you can sell the digital items you’ve gathered. I was filling up my shop, setting prices, when it dawned on me: the more items in my shop the more likely I was to have sales.

It wasn’t just that my shop would be more visible because I was more likely to have the specific item someone was looking for. It was the fact that the more I had in my shop the more people might just find my shop organically, and the more spur of the moment purchases they might make. Even if the prices were high. Even if they didn’t necessarily want that copy of “Babaa Care”.

It’s the same with my own Amazon store. The more books I have in there the more likely I am to get a random customer. The more likely he is to just pick up a couple of things instead of just one while he’s there. It works with other types of merchandise as well. Who goes into a shop that only sales milk? No, we want a store where we can get eggs, bacon, and cheese too. So give your customers what they want. Create more things for your shop.

Work a little every day for the best rewards.

A big part of Neopets is the dailies. Every day you can go to a website that has a link to all the dailies, or you can remember them. I preferred the websites to start with, though few of them listed all the daily activities you could do. Each activity gave you a new item, a few neopoints, or an avatar. Each one got you closer to the million neopoint mark in your bank.

But this applies to the real world as well. Every day, adding a little bit to your art, or writing, or music.. every day studying or going to your day job. It all adds up, little by little, till you have something to show for it. It’s just another reason for me to write every day, even when it sucks. Even when it’s hard.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Neopets often add items that are limited time, or seasonal. They change games, update areas, add and subtract things. Everything changes, both online and off. Nothing lasts forever. And one of the things you learn in Neopets is that it pays to collect those things that are limited. Just like comic books in the real world. If only a few people can get them, or if they disappear over time, then they slowly become more valuable.

Gambling doesn’t pay.

There is a bit of controversy around the gambling available on Neopets. They have their own version of the Lottery, and scratch cards. You rarely win. In fact you make more money from scratch cards by selling them in your shop then you do by actually scratching them off. Other things, like Poogle Racing and Keno allow you to pay in money, but rarely pay out. Thankfully it’s all neopoints, but you get the picture.

The virtual doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stay virtual.

Some time ago Neopets added real life items to their catalog. Plushies, console games, wearable, etc. Working in digital media as I do with books this is a great lesson for me as well. Digital items shouldn’t always stay digital. There should be some branching over to the 3D world. What if I made a plushy that I could sell? Or a poster? Or wearables? It’s a great marketing strategy and makes the real life and digital life closer to each other because you have something you can touch and feel on this side of the screen. What’s more, they always gave a digital item with the real world item. Tokens, free items, and digital merch to go with the plushy you bought. These items were FREE for Neopets to give away, so it made sense to add value to their real world objects by having digital items go with it. As a writer/artist/etc you can do something similar. Add QR codes for free books, or digital backgrounds. Give something digital away with every real world purchase. At the very least a free (or greatly reduced) ebook with every print book.

I’m sure there are more, but I am too tired to think of them.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Commentary

 

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FAQ- How do I promote my book?

Okay, you have a book. It’s up on Amazon, Kobo, and everywhere else… Now what?

Well, the best answer is… Go write another book!

No, seriously!

Here’s the deal, if you have one book and go promote it, great, people can buy that book. But, a lot of people won’t buy a book if you only have one up there. They like to sink their metaphorical teeth into their favorite authors and read LOTS of stuff from them, so if you have only one book out, and they love you, then they aren’t going to be as willing to take a chance.

Also, what if you do well with your book? Where do the readers go from their? And what if you put the first book up for free, they read it, but have no second book to buy?

It just makes sense to have more books out. The more you have, the more you can share with your readers. The more you share the more they can share.

The concept of visibility dictates that the more surface area you have, the greater the chance someone will spot you… so give yourself lots of books, and lots of feelers out there for maximum chance to be seen.

Okay… got your second, third, etc, book done? Great!

Now… go play on social networks. Meet people, comment on their threads, share your stories. DON’T PROMOTE!

Seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Yes, well, we are living in a counter intuitive world. How many of us skip cable, TiVo, use Netflix or anything else, just to avoid advertisement? Why would you think anyone would want to see and advert about your book if they don’t want to see a commercial in the middle of their TV show?

No, they want you to interact with them. Be funny, be interesting, join the conversation. Or produce something worth talking about. if you can do both then you are GOLDEN! People will go looking for you to see what you say if you are interesting enough. People will search out your commercials on youtube if you’re funny. They will Google your story if you’re exciting. They will post tributes, make fan fic, and generally make a joyful noise as long as you making something they care about, or you are someone they care about.

My best success hasn’t been screaming “BUY MY BOOKS!” It’s been making friends. Sharing stories. Interacting with fans. That has brought more people into my little corner of the web then anything else out there. And I am so grateful to all the friends that have made this possible.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in On Writing

 

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An Author at Pax

If you’ve been following along, I went off to Pax with a bag full of buttons, stickers and a couple books.

I decided that I’m horrible at marketing myself.

The buttons were easy. I gave them out left and right, left a few around the convention center, and then didn’t have enough to give away towards the end when they had a button exchange.

The stickers …. not so much. I gave out a couple, but I just balked.

This is just a case of me having absolutely no self confidence. I went to pull out the stickers and I started to worry… are they good enough? Are they going to be offended that I’m trying to tell them about my book? Do they think self-publishing isn’t ‘real’ publishing?

I did pull my book out and show a couple people that sounded interested in it. Showed them the cover, answered a couple questions. I even met a couple of fellow authors, and we discussed why we were self publishing instead of traditionally publishing.

I also sat in on a panel about having confidence in yourself to go pursue your dreams. A few were writers as well as their day job, and the question of “traditional vs self publishing” came up. They echoed what everyone else is seeing… A lot of traditionally published authors are jumping to self publishing because they see more of the money, and are just as instrumental in the marketing.

I know I shouldn’t have been so nervous to hand out the stickers. I could have put a sticky on the book and said “free book” and put it on a table. I could have had more confidence in myself. But I’m a work in progress.

Next year I’ll do better.
Till then… want some stickers?

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Personal Notes, Updates

 

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Just Throw Me To The Wolves, Why Don’t You!

I had a rather uncomfortable discussion with my boyfriend this morning. And I’m going to share it, because it isn’t about our personal relationship (sorry if that disappoints you, but really, go watch a soap opera) it was a conversation about my writing career, and what I want out of it. And more importantly, what I’m willing to do to get what I want.

He asked me “why are you afraid to promote yourself?”

And he’s right. I’m terrified. I called a library and asked for information on getting my book into the library system, and they never called back. So I never called them back either. And why? Cause I was terrified.

“What’s the worst they can do?” he asked me. “Say no?”

And really, it isn’t “no” that scares me. I could care less if people tell me no. People have told me no all of my life and I did it anyway. No, it wasn’t the “no” that scared me.

It was the asking.

How do you explain to other people that you are afraid to ask for anything from anyone. Even if I were starving and broke, unable to buy a loaf of bread, I would rather go pick up soda bottles and turn them in for a few measly coins so I could buy a banana, then ever ask another person for anything.

I have a very clear memory of going to my great-grandmothers house with my parents when I was about 6 years old, and asking my mom if I could ask great-gran for some pie. She made said it was rude. You never asked for anything in someone else’s home, except water. If they wanted to give you something that was fine, but you never, EVER, under any circumstances, asked for something.

The other day we were at our friends house, and one of them was heading out the door to get food. I’d mentioned that I was hungry to my boyfriend, but neither of us had cash on us. It was like pulling teeth to get me to just ask our friend, who was offering, to buy me a sandwich. It’s was just $3 for a sandwich, and he was offering, but I was so embarrassed. What the heck is wrong with me?

So today, when Gregg asked me what I was afraid of… He’s right, I need to figure this out.

I don’t have any problem posting on my blog, twitter, or Facebook about a new book. The fact is that I am an author, and anyone who chooses to follow me on social media knows that I’m an author, and should expect me to say something. But I’ve been thinking of handing my book over to the teller at the bank who asked about my book a couple months ago. I’ve gone to the bank several times, book in hand. And I leave it in the car every time, too shy to actually hand it over.

Why?

I have this intrinsic belief that I should be seen, and not heard. A belief stemming from years of reinforcement with my parents, and later with a husband who treated me the same way.

And it wasn’t even that they thought “a woman’s place was in the kitchen” or some ridiculous thing like that. It was me. They thought I should be quiet. And that thought was constantly reinforced with criticism and chiding. Sometimes angry yelling to shut up, go away, leave me alone…. Even while other women were encouraged to speak their mind around me. Just not me.

So here I am with this fear of speaking up. Of being heard. And I’m an author. An author who by definition must speak up and be heard. And if I ever want to get my books noticed, to get myself noticed, I have to speak up. I have to be heard.

To be fair… I have improved so much over the last few years. I never would have considered publishing a book of short stories just last year. I never would have considered doing a podcast, but today I am doing yet another one, and I am HAPPY to do it. I speak up. I talk over people to make myself heard sometimes. I tell the guys to shut up and let me talk… and I am happy for it. I enjoy it. It’s worth it.

So why is it still so hard to say “I wrote a book, here it is. Read it if you like.” ?

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2013 in Commentary

 

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Around the Web

A lot has been happening this month. Penguin is pushing Authors Solution. Amazon is discouraging free book sites. And interviews all over the place! Here is a look at what’s been going on around the web.

Amazon HEAVILY discouraging websites that focus on free books. (The guys over at SPP are probably going to be talking about this on the next episode, so keep an eye out for that. 

Tips on recovering from Writers Burnout

Penguins Solution for Writers: One Racket to Rule Them All  (I liked that title too much to paraphrase.)

60 Years of interviews with authors from The Paris Review

We had the review scam a few weeks ago, now authors are paying for their spot on the best seller list.

Breaking Dawn, Part 2 wins 7 Razzie Awards

Barns and Noble may cut back on Nooks and some more about that from NY Times.

The internet is kickstarting a teen poetry revolution.

Shut the *** up and Create, an article by one of my favorite new authors. (Language)

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Updates

 

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Around the Web

Tor Authors give tips on writing.

Yes, Virginia, You can be a Paid Author Too (which is a bit tongue in cheek, and NSFW language.)

11 ways you can help get your favorite author noticed, some of which are new-ish.

Google+ communities create networks for authors and publishers. (I’ve been saying for a while, Google+ people! Drop Facebook! Find me here.)

7 Worst Mistakes by Indie Authors (according to Joanna Penn, taken from her own experiences.)

Writers and Depression: An Interview with Psychotherapist and Author, Philip Kenney

And because I absolutely love this site, and think more people should use these: MOO stickers and business cards.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Updates

 

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