The Basics of Marketing Your Book (Part 1)Posted: July 8, 2010
As I said in my last post, The Changing World of Publishing, the world of publishing is rapidly transforming with the entrance of digital technology entering the scene. The debut of digital media has increased opportunities for writers, to be sure, but it has also changed the way things are done in the publishing industry, taking control for marketing our writing out of publishers hands, and placing squarely on the author’s shoulders. This gives authors more control over their books, even if they are not self-publishing, (which more and more authors are these days), traditional publishers may be more motivated to work with authors, that know how to promote their work to give it maximum exposure. I’ve invited my friend and fellow writer, Chris Keys, to do a guest blog for us. Chris is a fledgling author, making an impressive first flight, but he has a lifetime of experiences behind him, including extensive sales and marketing experience. I’ve asked that he draw on his marketing knowledge, as it applies to digital media, and to share some of the ideas that he has for self-promotion and marketing your writing. Chris has graciously come up with a blog post packed with so much good information, that we decided that it should be split into two posts. Today’s post will be the first of the two installments of:
The Basics of Marketing Your Book (Part 1)
by Chris Keys-Author of The Fishing Trip-A Ghost Story and Reprisal! The Eagle Rises!
I’d like to thank Angel1 for subjecting you…er, rather allowing me this opportunity share with you my limited expertise in the field of book marketing. However, I do have over twenty five years of experience in the field of self promotion, and marketing of small businesses on less than shoe string budgets. My latest opportunity to practice my skills in self promotion and small business marketing is with my own writing career.
What? Did I just say, “Self promotion and small business marketing in the same sentence as writing career?” What? This is usually followed by the standard line of, “I’m not in business, I’m a writer!”
I’ve heard that line only a few hundred dozen times and I’ve only been blogging about the subject about six months. What many would be writers don’t realize is that writing is a business. A small business with potential of being a very big profit maker, but few of us go into writing worrying about how much money we’ll make writing our poems, short stories or even novels. We go into writing because we believe we have something to say or we can help people or we just have great story to tell. But the house hold names from the literary field, Grisham, Clancy, King, Roberts, Cussler, and several dozen more, did go into it realizing up front they wanted top make a living writing books and they approached it that way.
As a non household name, you need to stop and first of all, decide where you see your writing going. Do you see it as just a hobby or would you really like to have it make so much money you could quit your day job and write full time. For simplicity, we’ll assume that you want to be a household name. You want to be read in mass by the public and you want to be showered with acclaim as the next great literary genius. You just know you can stand on top of Hemingway and crush him…sorry. I get carried away when I start thinking about how my new novel due out this summer titled “Reprisal! The Eagle Rises!” could be the next great American novel.
But let’s get back on track here. You want to be more than just someone who hides in the spare room, yelling at the kids now and then to be quiet, with a shelf full of manuscripts that need dusting. This is where self promotion and marketing come in.
Sending off your manuscript to a publisher for their consideration is self promotion. It is also marketing. You’re getting your name out in front of the publishing company’s gate keeper, the person who does a cursory review of your manuscript and decides if it gets a closer look by someone else higher up the food chain. It is also marketing, in the most minimal of ways because your asking them to buy to your book. Maybe they will, but in the current market place, they probably won’t. The market is just too packed with good and or great stories and the only ones given serious consideration without the author providing proof of a following, by way of a career in the writing field in non fiction, such as reporting or commentary are celebrities. The Paris Hilton’s of the world or rock stars, former politicians and movie stars. If your not one of those people it doesn’t mean you can’t grow that following, create that buzz about your book or you can’t make money from your book. It just means you have to get serious, about self promotion and marketing.
Three paragraphs back, I joked about my desire to be a household name and of standing on top of Hemingway to get there, you of course groaned, but I got the name of my upcoming book in front of you. Quick what’s it called? Made you look. That’s a marketing ploy for getting the title of your work known. The New York ad men don’t usually use that style of plug when they do their multimillion dollar budget ads but then I’m on half a shoe string and even that maybe more than my budget can stand. The whole idea is to get exposure for you as a writer and for what you have written.
Everything you do, from this moment forward needs to be directed at developing a following for you, and here is a very basic plan for doing that. I can expand upon the different ideas here later, after you’ve enjoyed some minor success following the plan and have tuned your mind to the required setting to be able to shamelessly plug your book without making too many people barf and run away. That’s the real trick, doing it in a way that no one realizes it’s happened. I hereby claim the coinage of the name, “Stealth Marketing” But that’s only part of the plan.
Things you’ll need in order to be serious about marketing yourself and your book start with joining social networking sites. It’s easy and painless so just jump right in and start posting your opinions. Be sure to join a few of the sites to start with and then change sites, add some, lose some as you grow in confidence that you can write well enough to get your point across. That’s what the sites are for. Writing practice! So practice.
Then you want to get yourself set up with a blog. I was very hesitant to start blogging, myself. I knew it was a good way to get people to know about my work but I had no idea what I would write about. I knew I had a good story and I thought I had a publisher, so I wasn’t in any big hurry to blog.
Then my publishers announced that they wanted me blogging. They didn’t care where I did it, just that I did it. It was one of the ways they wanted me to get exposure and it was hoped that after a while, I’d develop a following. It was part of their marketing plan for any books they published. So get blogging. I’m currently blogging on Blogspot. Writerchriskeys.blogspot.com, check me out and become a follower. It’s a very easy site to set up your blog on. You can also get paid to blog and there are several sites where you can do that. A couple of pay per blog sites are, Today.com, Fanbox.com, and Hubpages.com. They will all pay depending upon the number of hits your blog receives.
One of the biggest social websites is Face Book. You’ll want to be setup there, for sure. Once you’ve opened your Face Book page you’ll want to start seeking as many friends as you can get. One of the ways I’ve been able to develop friends on Face Book is to ask friends that I already have to recommend friends that I can ask to be friends. On Face Book, you’ll post your excerpts, blogs, info about you and your writings. Don’t get too personal but do try to provide some insight into the inner workings of your creativity.
Then you’ll want to open a twitter account. I have to confess, I’m struggling with twitter. I’m unsure what to talk about and how to limit my word usage to 140 characters. After all I was politician and I am trained to expound upon a subject until at least fifty percent of the audience falls a sleep. I have trouble being brief, but I’m a reformed politician. Really I am. Honest you can trust me. To get a good handle on twitter, I’d suggest you check out a web friend of mine, Tony Eldridge, author of, “The Samson Effect” soon to be a major motion picture. He has a website dealing with marketing for authors, titled “Marketing tips for Authors”. I whole heartily recommend you sign up for his news letter, lots of great marketing tips.