Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Marketing 101

Writing an engaging story is a major challenge and a wonderful accomplishment. It requires skill and knowledge, practice and perseverence. Over time, as we work to improve our craft, our writing gets stronger proportional to the effort we put in to our personal writing improvement. Still, as challenging as writing can be, for an author, writing the story may be the easy part. Once the story is submitted, accepted, edited, revised and edited a couple of more times we are feeling good about our work, and maybe getting a little tired of it. But the work is just beginning. Now comes the challenge of marketing our work. Auuugh!

The book is finished. Now what? How do we generate buzz for our work? How do we get the word out? Who do we market to? What activities will help us find the success we're seeking? Here are a couple of things I'm trying to do as I market my new book, Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island.

1- Online Book Promotion: Have an online presence.
- Create a Facebook Fan Page. Post updates and interesting thoughts relevent to the book.
- Twitter- Actively participate in Twitter to get your name and the name of your book out there for others to see and think about.
- Web Page- create and maintain a professional looking web page with information about you and your book
- Create a book trailer and post to uTube, your blog, FB, your website, etc.
- Organize a blog tour. Your publisher may help you in this but if not, follow a number of blogs relevant to your book and audience and build relationships. Ask people to review your work. They may say no, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
- Seek additional reviews on Amazon, Goodreads etc. People won't know what you need or what you want unless you ask. People you ask may not always respond, but it's easy to ask and doesn't cost you a thing.

There are many other things you can do to build up your online presence but remember, it's not necessary to beat people over the head marketing your book. Keep it fun and interesting. Sometimes marketing will be overt, but sometimes it is covert by asking an interesting question or sharing a fun story that gets people thinking that you might have something to say that they may be interested in reading.

2- Traditional Book Promotion:
- Build relationships with local bookstores and arrange for a launch party and additonal book signings.
- Prepare a press release and contact newspapers, radio & TV stations. Think BIG and think small. Local is good but you may as well send notifactions to the larger outlets as well. It's easy to do, doesn't cost you anything, and the worst that happens is they don't run your story.
- Donate a couple of copies of your book to local and school libraries and ask them to hang a poster of your book on the wall or pass out some book marks.
- If appropriate, set up school visits to make presentations.
- Attend writing conferences to improve your craft and network with other authors
- Utilize Family and Friends to help you market your book. It doesn't need to be a formal thing like you're running a political campaign, but let your biggest fans help spread the word.

These ideas are not novel, but when we put together a marketing strategy aimed at reaching the ideal audience, we set goals, and then work the plan, our work will have a better chance of getting into the hands of more readers. Remember the old addage: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Marketing doesn't happen by accident. It takes effort. And unless your publisher is willing to put loads of effort and money into marketing your book (which most will not), it's up to you. Find what works for you, and attack your marketing plan to make it happen.


Liz said...

I am a professional publicist by trade, a writer on the side, and I FULLY support the list above!

Tracy Krauss said...

Your comment that the writing is the 'easy part' is quite true! I never expected marketing and promotion to be so time consuming or take so much effort. Great list.

Steve Westover said...

Thanks Liz and Tracy.
After having my first novel published I was surprised by the amount of marketing I was expected to do. I had no idea and so I was very slow in rolling out my web presence. I think a lot of new writers assume that the publisher does all the marketing and book tours etc. This is a little bit of a reality check :>)