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Monday, January 17, 2011

Marketing: Where the Rubber Hits the Runway

I love writing, and am proud to call myself a writer, yet it's been weeks and weeks since I've actually written anything. Instead, I've (temporarily) become that somewhat scary and misunderstood creature, a Marketer.

This past week I had the privilege of introducing Bumpy Landings to the world, and I've learned quite a bit in that short time. I'm by no means an expert, but I thought it would be helpful for both you and me if I shared three of the lessons I've learned.

1. Have books on hand and be prepared to sell them. My home teacher came by the day after my books arrived, and I proudly showed them to him. He asked where he could buy one, and I pointed him to Amazon and Moon's LDS bookstore in Dallas. After he left, my wife said, "I think he really wanted to buy one from you."

I answered that these were copies for me to send to reviewers, but as I thought about it I realized I could always get more for them. So I took one with me the next time we met, and he eagerly bought it. I have since schlepped a box of books with me everywhere I go, and when people ask where they can buy one, I say "Right here."

Being prepared also applies to having business cards with book info in my pocket, and preparing a smooth 30-second pitch. I'm still working on that, but it's gotten a lot better than "It's about this guy, and, um, there are airplanes..."

2. Play to your (and your book's) strengths. My book is set in Hawai'i, so I've adopted that as the theme for much of my promotion. The idea of "escaping the winter chill" features prominently in my marketing material, and people have commented that Bumpy Landings helps them do just that.

At a recent signing, I took my ukulele to fill in the quiet spots. I'm hardly a master strummer, but it was fun for both me and the people I was with. Also, notice the little paper airplane to the side of my stack of books. Since Bumpy Landings features flying as part of its central conflict, I printed up airplane patterns with the cover colors and book title, and give them out to kids. I have no idea how effective they will be as marketing tool, but they sure are fun.

3. Include your friends. I stand by my assertion that the best part of this whole writing gig has been the friends I've made in the writing community. This past Saturday, I was invited to participate with three of those friends at a signing in Logan at The Book Table. Having friends at the store made it especially fun, as we were able to talk amongst ourselves during the slow periods, and we were able to attract a broader range of readers.

(Okay, actually everyone came to see Tristi, but that worked out well for the rest of us.)

Once the signing was over, we worked our way down the Wasatch Front, stopping at bookstores and libraries to introduce ourselves and share bookmarks. I learned a ton from hanging out with Tristi and Rebecca and Daron, and I look forward to planning events with other authors in the very near future.

What are some of the marketing lessons you have to share?

5 comments:

Michael Knudsen said...

Looks like a great tour so far, Don!

I've learned that the build-up is more important than even the execution. Pre-promotion, both online and in print, is best started weeks before, intensifying right up until the day. It's hard work, but worth it when a good crowd shows up.

I agree with you about selling your own books. I've gotten over obsessing about my Novelrank ranking and bookscan stats. Let's face it, a first-time author's LDS market release is not going to crack the top 10,000 on the bestseller list, and how many books Amazon sells is not going to impress anyone. If I wait to let "those guys" sell my book, I make $1.50. If I sell it myself, I make $10. Plus it's a much more personable transaction, and the customer always gets a signed book!

Pam Torres said...

Great insight! I awarded this blog an award over at soimfifty.blogspot.com. You can pick it up on Tuesday.

Valerie Ipson said...

Thanks for the post. It all looks like fun.

Steve Westover said...

Great post Don, and great comment Michael.

Selling the book myself is something I've struggled with. I have never kept a large supply on hand and I've always referred people to Amazon and local bookstores, but what you say makes a lot of sense.

Strike while the iron is hot and make the sale personal.

Steve Westover said...

Great post Don, and great comment Michael.

Selling the book myself is something I've struggled with. I have never kept a large supply on hand and I've always referred people to Amazon and local bookstores, but what you say makes a lot of sense.

Strike while the iron is hot and make the sale personal.