Thursday, June 21, 2007

Marketing Your Work

by Heather Moore

Sometimes when all the writing and editing have been done, you finally get that publishing contract. But then what?

Do you sit back and add up royalty checks? The more effort an author makes to promotes his/her work, the more successful a book will be.

Even if you aren't published yet, you need to establish an internet presence. In today's techno world, the internet is a major catalyst for marketing. One way to do this is start a blog or become a contributor to a blog.

If your first book is about to be released or you've just received your first book contract, you need to create a website right away. Readers today are web savvy and they like to connect with their favorite authors.

If you have a book (or two) already published and your sales have been lackadaisical, consider the following self-promotion ideas:

1. Drive-by signings. Call the store manager in advance and tell him you'll be "dropping by". Bring bookmarks to leave in the store, sign the stock they carry of your book, and chat with store employees. J.A. Konrath gave some great tips in the June 2007 Writer's Digest.

2. Hold contests on your website or blog. This can range from youth writing contests to answering trivia questions about a character in your book. The prize? A free copy of your book, of course.

3. Volunteer to speak at writer's groups or conferences. You may find that by sharing your experience or knowledge you are gaining lifetime readers in the process.

4. Post flyers around your community about book group speaking engagements. Make yourself available for conference calls to book groups farther away.

5. Compile a newsletter/e-letter list. At every booksigning or author event, ask people to sign up for your newsletter.

These are just a few things you can do. Gone are the days of the reclusive author. You need to be just as much of a salesman as a good writer in order to make your book a success.


Josi said...

Sometimes that fantasy of buying a cabin and writing for weeks on end whisps through my mind...before reality crashes through with the realization that my book is part of ME and it's my job to sell it as much as possible. I wish I'd known that in the beginning so I'd have been better prepared. Great blog heather.

Julie Wright said...

Great information . . . Oh how I wish I'd known when I began this crazy career.

kc petersen said...

I remember when my first book was published and I thought, "Ah, now I can relax a bit and maybe think about another one." Hah! One of the first things that happened was that my publisher asked what plans I had for promoting the book, and before I knew it, I was doing "appearances," book signings, and speaking engagements.

Hey, that's not what I signed up for! What a wake-up call to an introvert that was!

Next time I publish a book, I might hire an alter ego, someone who is really extroverted, beautiful, and charming (and highly intelligent, too, of course) and she will go do all that appearing stuff while I can stay home and think up new ideas for my projects!

Anonymous said...

I'm a author recluse in a techno age and sales are just fine. Don't do author signings. Don't have time to blog. Don't even have a website (though I do manage a few for other people in one of my other day-jobs). All the vanaity that is self promotion turns my stomach far too much than the nausea is worth. I don't mind people reading what I write, but I hate promoting them into having a look. Hey, if its decent enough, someone will read it and maybe they tell their friends. And if it isn't stellar--it deserves to languish in relative anonymity.

Heather B. Moore said...

KC, so very true! Writing is such a solitary business, that those who write are usually introverts. So it's hard to go out and sell your own book.

And anonymous, I feel the same way. Most authors though won't get a second contract if the first book doesn't fly off the shelves the first 30 days. And if you have a small publisher with limited marketing budget, self-promotion aids in getting that second contract.

Anne Bradshaw said...

A few years ago I'd have agreed with the comment by anonymous. These days I think differently and see that no matter how difficult and nauseating it is to act the part and push myself, it has to be done if anyone's going to buy my books.

No one's going to come looking for me. The competition is too huge now. Only the few 'greats' out there get sought after. And they might sell even more if they market their book.

Thanks for these tips, Heather. I have another to add.

Stores--especially in smaller cities--will sometimes allow a local author's book to be sold on consignment. It's worth a try as it's one more place for people to see your book cover on a regular basis.

Annette Lyon said...

As much as I'd love to be a recluse--and I think most writers secretly prefer that life (that's why we love sitting in our own little bubbles by the computer!)--it's not realistic if we want to be successful. I've had to really step out of my personal box (I've stepped so far out of my box I don't know where it IS anymore). It's hard. It's uncomfortable. But it works.

Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks for your tip, Anne. That's a great idea.

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Marketing means sales. Whether you think you like to market or not, it has to be done by someone, and no one is better than YOU. Your publisher markets your book to booksellers who in turn market it to an audience. If your book gets set on a back shelf somewhere, without a visable cover, then rarely will anyone find you. Long gone are the days when people had hours to browse titles in the bookstore. Quick in and quick out is the new motto for buyers, and that means our books need to create a buzz if we want to succeed. With so much competition, that often means we need to create the buzz ourselves, through whatever marketing means we can use. If that includes personal appearances, then so be it. And if someone doesn't buy this book today, that doesn't mean they won't buy one tomorrow. Good luck to all of you who currently have books out. I'm keeping my fingers to the keyboard, hoping to join all of you sometime soon.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious. Is it unheard of for an author to seek out interviews from the media and opportunities to appear on talk shows to promote his/her non-fiction book? I figured most big authors have some type of an agent or manager who arrange their interviews and appearances. If I were to contact a talk show in the future in regards to my book are they likely to not take me seriously if I represent myself? Just curious what anyone's thoughts are about that. Great Blog!

Oh....also, my publisher hasn't really contacted me or given me much information on what to expect or how to go about promoting my first book which is just weeks away from being released. I figure they are very busy, but I still don't know the title of my book and the exact details on it. I have heard that its very important to promote your book before its released but without knowing this information I haven't been able to do much. I had some great ideas for online promotion and when I shared them with my publisher I was told to hold off and they would contact me about marketing and promotion when it gets closer to the release date. It is now 6 weeks away and I am starting to get anxious and worried. Is this typical and should I not be worried?

Heather B. Moore said...

Anon, most authors can't afford a publicist, so it falls to the author to become the media advocate. You can write up press releases and send them to media venues. The best way to get contacts is to network with other authors who have gone down that road. You also need to get your book reviewed by as many reviewers as possible. Set up some booksignings, and establish a web presence.

Publishers are busy, so as an author you need to always be proactive. I'm surprised you don't have a final title. Get the final title and ask them for a jpeg of the cover. It should be going to press any day if its release date it in 6 weeks. So those things should be finalized. Ask your publisher what types of advertising they have budgeted for your book (catalogs, etc). Ask them if they can print bookmarks for you. If not, have then printed yourself. Most of the promotion will be done by you, the author.