THE MARKETING PLAN – A necessary evil
With the changing paradigm in modern publishing, authors MUST become their own marketing team.
by Jill Behe
As with all businesses that want to succeed, a good marketing department is essential. If we, as writers, want to retire on the profits from our royalty checks, we need a great marketing plan. And, unless we find a creative way to let them know there’s a book available to buy, how will Joe and Jane Public know we wrote one?
The first goal of every serious writer is to have their work published. The second is to be on the Bestseller list.
An independently published author has to work harder to get the same exposure as one published by a legacy house. Consistent perseverance, dogged determination, and creative marketing strategies are all necessary to call attention to their work.
Traditionally, big houses used signings, book tours, and radio interviews to keep their authors in the spotlight. More exposure, more sales, more money.
But not anymore.
Cutbacks are everywhere.
Nowadays, especially with the launch of the Kindles and Nooks, and e-book availability, signings and tours are rare and expensive … hell, they’re all but gone. Publishing houses aren’t forking out the dough for them, anymore.
So, what can we, as individual professional artists do?
Several things come to mind:
These sites are attracting more and more people, and are an excellent (and necessary) way to spread the word. Friends tell friends, family tells family, and so on and so forth: blogging, guest blogging, and virtual book tours, posting, texting, and tweeting.
But, that’s not enough.
A personal Website:
Where do you go when you want to find out about your favorite author? You go to their site, or one that their publisher has set up.
Your fans want to know about you, too. There are a lot of different sites available where setup doesn’t require a college degree to understand the instructions. Perhaps a friend or family member has the knowledge to build one for you … and not demand your firstborn as payment.
What? Really? How better to advertise? A business card, with the title of the book, author’s name, and author’s Website. However, phone numbers and home addresses are not pertinent information on this kind of card.
VISTAPRINT is a very good site for reasonably priced cards. They also offer an array of other marketing tools: pens, mugs, T-shirts, postcards, etc.
Pin them on bulletin boards (libraries, grocery stores, banks, Laundromats, Post Offices, and college campuses, to name a few). Slip them into the envelopes with the utility bills, holiday cards, letters, anything sent in the mail that will reach someone otherwise unreachable.
Leave them at the table at restaurants, or at the cash register.
Pass them out to strangers at the mall, at the gym, on the street, at the store, at work.
Can be left in doctor’s offices, businesses, and don’t forget to ask the local librarian for permission to leave them at the front desk. Anywhere. It’s an old-school technique, but it’s real and tangible, and a heck of a lot of fun passing out.
Record a reading and post it on YouTube. Make a video with a few friends acting out a scene from the book. There’s also any number of independent Internet radio stations with shows dedicated to various types of genre fiction: mystery, thriller, spooky, etc.
Talk to someone at the local public, college, and/or high school library to set up a reading. Ask to speak to a high school English (Communications Arts) class, a writer’s critique group; if you’ve put out a book and made even a single sale, then these people want to hear from you.
Call or visit your local brick-and-mortar indie stores and arrange for a reading, or book-signing, or both. Make sure to have some books on hand for patrons to purchase on site.
Ask the manager if it would be possible to stock a few on his shelves.
Performance Art Venues:
With this area of marketing, no, one doesn’t have to get in the nude and roll around in Jello. On the other hand, bravery is still a must. Look for open mike opportunities, places–such as coffee shops, street diners, and even local Saturday markets–where people, artists and musicians and other performers are welcomed to deliver poetry slams, book readings, etc. Often these places have no problem with artists handing out (or selling) their wares, such as chap-books, works on CD/DVD, or actual books.
This should be a no-brainer, and shouldn’t be a headache for writers, but often it is. Tough. Write anyway: putting up book reviews on Amazon (this is a biggie, and a great way to get noticed, to network with other writers, and to garner book reviewers for yourself when you’ve work available), post in discussion groups, leave comments on author blogs, follow your fellow writers’ posts, and then respond to them, and with more than just a quickly typed “lol.”
And when you write, write well, ’cause you want your writing to be read, and understood, and enjoyed, and RESPECTED, remembering that whether it seems like it or not, every time you put words down, you’re advertising your name and your brand.
Sounds like a lot of work.
Of course. But anything worth doing, is worth doing to the best of our ability.
And this list of marketing prompts is just the start. Get on the Net and troll for ideas. Learn about Kindle publishing, about Kindlegraph. Find out who J.A. Konrath is, and why you should know what he has to say. Get onto Facebook and send “friend requests” to your favorite authors, indie and legacy, and when the time’s right, engage them in conversation. And don’t forget to thank them for their advice. Look for and download e-books on marketing, and self-promotion. Many are free. Make Google your friend.
And sometime between all the chores, don’t forget to work on that piece of flash, short story, novella, novel, blog post, or magazine article. Develop and grow your list of contacts, expanding your mailing list, and your network of fellow authors. Populating Websites with decent content, month after month, can be a nightmare. Often authors will absolutely welcome a well-written piece, and will reciprocate when you need one for your site.
Success or failure doesn’t rely solely on the publisher anymore, and shouldn’t be expected. Being in control of how poorly, or how well our book sells is on us. Everything possible needs to be done to get the word out that we have a published book available.
No stone unturned.
Now get going. There’s a to-do list to hit.
The Rebel has spoken.