Publishing today isn’t what it used to be. Authors can no longer sit back and expect their book to sell itself. More specifically, they can’t expect a publisher to sell a book for them. Indie authors have long known that when they type the words “the end” their job is only half finished. Now, traditionally published authors have learned this hard fact as well.
Every author, regardless of stature, must market their work.
In short, if you’re looking for publishing success, one must be a solid writer and a savvy marketer.
I’m married with three children and like many other women, I’ve often joked about my long list of job titles. Shall we rattle off the titles together? Let’s see…in no particular order, there’s mother, wife, chef, uber driver — because pick up and drop off is on my kids’ timeframe, not mine — confidante, homework helper, psychologist/advisor, and shall I mention courtesan to my husband or is that getting too personal?
Now, add to that list, what happens in the wee hours of the morning before the family wakes, during school hours, and after school until I drop dead around 9 p.m. This is the time for my day job…book packager. What’s a book packager? It’s basically the hats that every author needs to wear or is willing to hire out. It includes proofreader, editor, cover artist, digital formatter, and certainly not least, marketer. It’s this last job of marketer, publicist, advertiser, or whatever title you want to place on the person who gets the word out about your book, that is vitally important to your publishing success.
Marketing of a book is so important that one should plan their book’s promotion simultaneous to writing it. I know what you’re thinking…you’re a writer and therefore, it’s the plot, pacing, characters, and dialogue that must be considered when writing. All true, but one can do this and simultaneously consider marketing. As a writer, this is your job whether you choose to do the marketing or hand it off to someone else. Either way, if you think about marketing while writing, that job becomes easier. Let me explain.
In my many years of working with authors, I have learned a truth about book marketing that still surprises me to this day. It’s what I call the Field of Dreams aspect of marketing. Similar to that movie’s famous line, “If you build it, they will come,” book marketing often times carries the “if you tell them, they will buy” sensibility. I’ve always believed in a soft-sell approach. And yet, I know that marketing means telling people about my book. But there are clever ways to do so.
I don’t attend dinner parties and bring up my book during every cocktail hour. I don’t post about my books every day on Facebook, nor do I tweet them every hour on Twitter. But,
Here’s how I do it with subtlety.
…a few well-placed mentions of my books will result in sales.
As I’m writing my fiction under the pen name Mia Fox, I might notice a line of dialogue and happily think that I nailed it. I created something that will resonate with my romance readers. Perhaps I do a little happy dance, thanking the stars that writer’s block didn’t strike, but more likely, I make a note of this sentence in a separate document.
These notes are for a future time, or more aptly, a future marketing time, and they will come in handy. These quotes will be conveniently organized and ready. Imagine if you wanted to find a perfect quote and then had to hunt through your entire book looking for it? Best yet, it’s not just quotes that you can pull from your book as a creative marketing tidbit. Read on to learn about one of my most successful marketing campaigns.
If you’re reading a post like this one on book marketing, I’m willing to bet that you’ve read others. Furthermore, I’m assuming that you’ve tried a few marketing tactics yourself. Perhaps reducing the price of a book, running a contest, advertising on one of your social media platforms…you know, types of campaigns we’ve all run. But how successful can a campaign be if everyone is doing it?
One might argue that everyone does these campaigns because they are successful. Still, I believe the best method of marketing is to put your creativity to better use. I prefer to try a combination of the tried and true campaigns, along with something new to shake it up, stir the pot, and get those readers wanting my work.
I mentioned pull quotes above. Let me elaborate. These are best done if they are short quotes that evoke the mood of the scene without requiring an explanation. You want to find quotes that can be taken out of context and still be understandable. They’re the “movie trailer” moments of my book.
Does your main character have a hobby? Do the characters eat at a particular restaurant? Do they live in a well-known town that offers special tourist attractions? These are all aspects of your book that can be expanded upon. One of my most successful marketing campaigns was for my book, Malibu Angel. The setting of that book is, of course, Malibu.
I sent out a newsletter pre-release that showcased the beauty of this well-known beach in a pictorial layout. I also included articles about some favorite restaurants in the area and mentioned some celebrity sightings that took place. Then, I took it a step further and also mentioned what those celebrities were up to in the news. It was a fun read, completely outside of my book. These details weren’t mentioned in this paranormal romance book, but they served to elaborate on the setting and give some “behind the scenes” details to my readers.
Best of all, it gave me a way of talking about my book without the obvious plea to buy my book. I let the details and description sell my book. To me, marketing is most effective when your target audience is receptive to what you want to sell.
Selling isn’t easy. But if you spice up your campaigns with creativity, suddenly you’ll enjoy the process and your readers will reward you. It does take time and there’s no shame in hiring someone to do the marketing for you, or at least to create the template of your campaign. What you must remember, whether you are doing the work or hiring someone to do it for you, make your campaigns resonate with authenticity. Ensure that your marketing campaign is appropriate for your book’s genre.
And finally, never let your writing fall by the wayside.
Win a print copy of Margery's book, Full Color Life: How to Live a Creative, Balanced Life (value: $12), a wonderfully empowering guide to help businesses and individuals, find their creative spark and develop the self-belief and tools to make their business and personal life flourish.
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#NaNoProMo Day 3: Want Publishing Success? Be a Great Writer and Clever Marketer by guest Margery Walshaw @EvatopiaLit
If ever stranded on a desert island, her one wish
is to be with another writer.
Margery’s articles have appeared in national newspapers and she has also worked on publicity campaigns for nationally and internationally recognized companies. She was privileged to teach public relations at Pepperdine University in Malibu and provide countless professionals with private instruction on book packaging, marketing, and public speaking.
Margery holds a Bachelor’s Degree from U.S.C. and returned later to earn her Master of Arts degree in Professional Writing also from U.S.C.
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
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