Everyday Book Marketing
Promotion ideas to fit your regularly scheduled life
By Midge Raymond
Ashland Creek Press Copyright © 2014 Midge Raymond
All rights reserved.
Transitioning from Writer to Marketing Expert
As anyone who has published a book knows, the promotion can be just as much work as the writing itself—if not more. And promotion can be particularly challenging for writers who are far more comfortable in the solitude of their writing spaces than in front of audiences, as well as for those time-strapped authors who managed to find time to finish their books in the early or late hours of the day but now may have to find time during more normal hours to promote it.
Thanks to the Internet, it's possible to promote your book without leaving your home. It's not ideal—most readers love the opportunity to meet writers—but even if you're only able to schedule a few in-person events, you can do a lot on social networks and on a "virtual" book tour.
It's also possible, if you start at least six months before your book's release date, to accomplish all you need to do within an hour or so a day—it's a question of knowing what you need to do, getting organized, and making the most of the moments you have.
First, you'll need to transition from writer to marketer. This is often a difficult transition for a writer who only wants to start on her next project—but while it's great (and essential) to keep up with your writing, you don't want to do this entirely at the expense of the book you've just worked so hard to finish and get out into the world. And with more than 200,000 books being published each year and so much competition for every reader's attention, you need to be willing to get out there (in person and/or virtually) to talk about your book. If you're not out there talking about your book, you're likely to find that no one else is talking about it either.
The next section will give you an idea of the specifics you need to think about, but in the meantime, here are a few big-picture questions to consider as you make this transition into marketing mode.
How is your book coming into the world?
Whether you're being published by a large publisher, by a small press, or self-publishing will determine much of your marketing plan. If you have a large house behind you, you may have access to a great deal of its resources (on the other hand, as Kim Wright points out in her Q&A on page 132, you may not). If you publish with a small press, you may be able to work closely with your publisher to share marketing opportunities. If you self-publish, you'll have to be especially creative—and also have partners willing to help (see Zoe Ghahremani's Q&A on page 173 for more about this). If you publish an e-book only, you'll be doing online marketing since you don't have a physical product (or you may decide, as Jackie Bouchard discusses in her Q&A on page 188, that having a print copy is worthwhile for the marketing opportunities it offers). But do keep in mind that, in whatever way your book is entering the world, you'll need to prepare yourself for a lot of promotion ahead.
Who's the audience for your book?
If you publish traditionally, your book will be categorized by your publisher; talk to your editor and/or publicist about how they plan to market it—as literary fiction, or women's fiction? as general fiction, or mystery? Not that you have to follow their category for your book, but how it's labeled by your publisher allows you to tap into certain markets. For example, if your publisher is labeling your novel as a romance, this opens up a lot of opportunities with book bloggers, romance writers' associations, etc.
Another thing to consider is the way readers are most likely to discover your book. If you self-publish, you may find that your core audience is primarily digital, as bestselling Kindle author L.J. Sellers has learned (see her Q&A on page 159). If you're publishing on your own, providing lower-priced e-books is a great way to get your work into the hands of new readers who are more likely to take a chance on a new author if it doesn't cost them very much. And then, if these readers like your book, word of mouth (via good online reviews) will keep the buzz going.
What are the best ways to reach your intended audience?
You'll want to go where your readers are. If they're mystery fans, check out the big mystery conferences, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and Left Coast Crime. If it's literary fiction, look into such conferences as AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) and Bread Loaf. You'll also want to explore the myriad venues where you can plan book-related events; see Part 2 for more on events.
What resources will you need to promote your book?
This includes everything from money to time. Part 2 covers book marketing basics, such as a website and author photo—but even before you get to this, consider what your budget is and how much money you can afford to devote to promoting your book. This will help you plan, and stick to, a reasonable budget (see Wendy Call's Q&A on page 144 for tips and advice on creating a budget).
Next, think about what sort of time you have to spend on promotion. Ideally, you'll be able to devote at least three-quarters of your writing time (if not all of it, for the next six to twelve months) on book promotion instead. Book promotion can be endless—you'll realize that there's always more you can be doing—so you'll need to be sure you do the minimum while still keeping your regularly scheduled life in some sort of order. Figure out ways to maximize your book promotion time for the next six to twelve months, whether it means getting up earlier, finding child care, recruiting family members to take on some of your usual duties, etc. Remember, your book's launch happens only once, so you'll want to make it count.
A word about independent publicists: Depending on how you publish, you may or may not have an in-house publicist who will work with you on your book promotion—and even if you do, this publicist will likely have several, or many, other authors to promote as well. So, if your budget allows, you might consider hiring an independent publicist to work with you (this person can also work with your in-house publicist). See the Q&A with publicist Alice B. Acheson on page 196 for more details on how an independent publicist can help.
What will work best with your strengths and schedule?
This is where you'll need to be most honest and realistic with yourself. Many writers, for example, feel they must do readings as part of a book tour—yet this is only one of many options for a book tour. And if you're the parent of a small child, perhaps doing a multi-city tour isn't going to work; focus instead on making the most of local events, and do other events virtually. If you're a serious introvert, maybe in-person events will cause more stress than they're worth, or won't allow you to fully connect with readers; focus more on writing guest blogs, op-eds, essays, and articles, and submit them widely. Or, on the other hand, if blogging and social media don't come naturally to you, focus instead on opportunities that you do enjoy. While book promotion does require that we leave our normal comfort zones—by reading in public, for example, or by writing and submitting op-eds—it needn't be (and shouldn't be) torture. Know that you'll need to do some things that will be challenging; also be prepared to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and arrange your book marketing around ways that capitalize on your strengths while minimizing the activities that are more difficult. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Everyday Book Marketing by Midge Raymond. Copyright © 2014 Midge Raymond. Excerpted by permission of Ashland Creek Press.
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