Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thursday Tips: Marketing!

 It’s not one of the Big Six brick and mortar publishing houses but you're excited and you like it. Your publisher will not be taking out ads in the Times, but they will do their part and spread the word about your book- send your book out to some reviewers, announce it on their website, they even may send out some press releases- but these days, most of the work of publicizing your book is down to you. Yes, you. So what are you going to do? Glad you asked! Here are some ideas to help:
  1. Get an audience before the release.  When you announce your newly-published book to the world, it would be nice if someone was there to hear you. So how many people read your blog? How many friends do you have on Twitter or Facebook? Are you using LinkedIn groups, Goodreads, LibraryThing? Unless you are being followed (friended, or whatever) by hundreds, if not thousands of people, you probably need to put some time into building up your profile on these sites. This way when you make that announcement, you won't will feel as if you are standing on the stage in an empty theater.
2. Create a brand. 
In writing, the author is the brand. And that means you. You need to present yourself in your communications with potential readers in a way you are comfortable with and which is related to the books you expect to be promoting. An important part of this is to know which genre you are working in. When you are putting yourself out there and finding ways to talk about your book, don’t forget what your brand is – who you want people to see you as. Stay focused.
3. Know what you are going to say. 
Marketing is about message. Your brand is part of it but the rest is all content. What is your book about? Who will it appeal to? What groups should be interested in it, discussing it, recommending it, and what will catch their attention? Work it all out, find the wording you need to convey the message clearly, then, in everything you say, stay on that message. You probably write the kind of books you also love to read. Mostly, your target audience is people rather like yourself. Take a while to understand what it is that attracts you to new, unknown writers in your genre and you are half-way there.
4. Understand where your interests lie
You will be selling your book through a variety of channels (book shops, online, as ebooks and as print – possibly POD) and in a number of ‘geographies’ – defined in your publishing contract – to a number of audiences (‘market segments’ in the jargon.) Some channels and geographies will earn you more money than others. If your royalties on net, vs on retail price, it is of critical importance to you personally how big a cut various middlemen are taking. (Remember it can be quite hard to know which channel is best since while apparently high-paying channels like direct sales from your publisher’s own website may earn you a bigger royalty than online stores like Amazon, the latter is likely to out-sell the publisher’s own shop by many times and deliver a much bigger return for your effort. The same goes for audiences. 
5. Keep it rolling. 
With online sales and ebook editions, publicizing a book is not the one-shot event it used to be. Market dynamics have changed since the days when bricks and mortar book shops were all that there was and you had three to six weeks during which your book would be on the shelf before it was returned to make way for the new batch of hopefuls. Now your book will stay in online catalogs for as long as your publishing agreement lasts – and longer if you act to keep it there. You probably have a few months now, after the launch, while your book is fairly new, when you can actively promote it and try to keep people’s attention on it. Even beyond that point, you can run occasional refresher campaigns to lift its profile again. This is all good news for the writer. The bad news is that the marketing need never end!
6. Engage. 
Talk to your readers and your potential readers. Talk about your book if they’re interested. Talk about the genre. Talk about writing and publishing. Talk about yourself. People are interested. It’s hard to grasp at first. You do interviews, you write blog pieces, you twitter about your life, your opinions, and your book, and you. “What the hell is so fascinating about me? Aren’t people going to think I’m a complete ego-maniac?” I hear you and my answer to that is maybe some will, but an awful lot won’t. 
7. Keep your pipeline filled
Like it or not, you are selling a product. It’s a business. Your readers are consumers of that product. If they like it, they will want more. The only way they will get more is if you write it. So don’t stop work on that next book, no matter how much extra work the last one has created. A book takes a long time to write, revise, edit and polish. Then you have to sell it to a publisher (oh yes, there are no free rides, each new book can be just as hard to sell as the last one.) Then edit it and then market it. It’s a long pipeline. You keep putting words in at one end and there will be more books to sell at the other. If you stop, there will be a gap.
8. Prepare to work your socks off. 
You may think you were busy when you wrote the book – what with the day job and family commitments – but once you have signed that contract, you will shift into overdrive. Now, as well as the day job, the family, and writing the next book, you also have to work with your publisher on edits, and you have to work on your marketing campaign. Your social networking will escalate, your blogging and website content writing will increase, you’ll be trawling the blogsphere working with your communities of interest, and you’ll be pestering reviewers the world over to just please take a look at your book. That’s why I say it’s writing an iceberg – seven tenths of the work comes after the book is finished.
9. Don’t forget to have some fun, or you’ll go nuts. 
Hope this helps! See you next week!

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