Monday, August 01, 2011

To Market, To Market...

I'm excited to be participating in the first ever WordServe Blog Tour, (taking place TOMORROW) hosted by my fabulous agent,
Rachelle Gardner. I hope you'll check out all the wonderful links she'll be posting. I'm also really excited to tell you about a new blog that's been set up by a bunch of my fellow WordServe clients. We'll be sharing about all things writing, and you can find us HERE. Hop over and check it out, and we hope you'll join in the community chat.

So on to my thoughts on Marketing...

My debut novel, Yesterday's Tomorrow, (an Inspirational romance that takes place during The Vietnam War), came out in March. I'd like to share a few things I've done and continue to do to promote my book.

What comes to mind when you hear the word market?
I often think of the nursery rhymes I learned as a child:

"To market, to market to buy a fat pig;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog."


"This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went...
"Wee wee wee" all the way home..."

One of my favorite movies of all time is Oliver! Do you remember the scene where Oliver wakes on his first morning in Mr. Brownlow's house and watches the London street below come to life, and they sing "Who Will Buy..." It's a fabulous scene and I would have posted it here but I couldn't find a clip of it. To me, it exemplifies the meaning of the word 'market', the noun: 'a regular gathering of people for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock and other commodities.

However, for the author's purposes, we want to concentrate on market, the verb: to advertise or promote something.
And incase you're wondering, no I'm not super smart. I just looked up the word and there you have it - who knew a dictionary could serve another purpose other than a paperweight.

So now that we've cleared that up, we know that marketing means we're going to have to figure out how to sell our books. The hard part is done. We've written that manuscript. Rewritten it a hundred times, sent it out and finally, finally, received the wonderful news that somebody loves it and will publish it. You now have a brand spanking new book with your name on the cover to prove it!
Now what?
Well, that's easy. Your name alone will attract hundreds of readers who will come running to buy your book and a copy for their mother, cousin and best friend. You have an eye-catching cover and your story is so unique that it'll become an overnight best-seller.
Uh, hello. Unless you're Nicholas Sparks or Nora Roberts, that's probably not going to work for you.
When's the last time you walked into a bookstore?

This is just a teeny tiny section of the rows upon rows of books that customers have to choose from.

Why should they choose your book?

We've already mentioned a couple of reasons. While sounding tongue-in-cheek, there is actually some truth to them.

Your cover - I don't have statistics on this, but I've certainly heard a lot of people say they will pick up a book if they like the cover. If the title and back cover copy intrigue them, they'll probably buy it. So this is something to keep in mind when you're in production, if you have any say in those things.

Your network - No, I'm not talking about NBC or FOX. Your network is the large group of friends, family and online acquaintances you've been revving up over the past few years - they've been supporting you every step of the way, are absolutely delighted that you're finally a published author and they're going to let the world know it.
Please. Do yourself a favor right now. If you don't have a network, get out there and create one. Immediately.

Never underestimate the power of WORD OF MOUTH. As an unknown debut author, you need to get the word out about your book.
The more help you can get, the easier it will be. You want people to start talking about your book. You want them to recommend it to their friends. You want those friends to buy the book and recommend it to their friends.
This of course is all easier said than done. But it's not impossible.

Who are you targeting?
It's important to know who your readers will be and how they will hear about your book.
Because I don't live in the US, I may be at a bit of a disadvantage in that I can't travel around to various bookstores and promote my book. My biggest market is going to be through online sales.
Yours may not be. Once you figure out where you're going to have the most impact, concentrate on that area.

Some other things I've done to help promote Yesterday's Tomorrow -

Facebook - honestly, for me, this has been one of the greatest marketing tools available to me. My community of friends really got behind me in helping promote my book on Facebook. And they're still doing it! The last time I checked, 212 people had shared the Amazon link to my book. That may not sound like a lot, but if you think about it, most of those two hundred and twelve people have over two hundred friends or more. So that's a lot of people who might get a glimpse of a book that interests them, especially if it is recommended by someone they know.
I use Facebook to interact with readers on my Author Page. I also created a fan page for Yesterday's Tomorrow, where I post reviews or information about book signings and giveaways.

Do Giveaways - Everybody likes a free book. When I am a guest on a blog, I usually either give away a paperback copy or a Kindle copy of my book. Be aware that although this may cost you a few dollars, it's also a way to get your book into more circles.

Book Clubs - Contact book clubs in your area and tell them about your book. Ask them if they'd be interested in a copy and if they would consider reading it. If they respond favorably, offer to come and talk to them. This is a lot of fun. You can even use Skype to meet with them if you're not in the same area!

Connect with other authors - Newsflash! You're not in this alone. Remember that picture of the bookstore? There are a million authors out there and they're all trying to promote their books, just like you. Make friends with them. Help each other out. Offer to host your author friend on your blog and talk about their book and ask them to do the same for you on the same day. Um, you say, what if their book is better than mine, isn't that like shooting myself in the foot? Meh. Maybe. But what fun is life without taking a few risks now and again?

Reviews - All those folks reading your book is great, but you want to know what they think. Make sure you have a list of reviewers you can send your book to - people who will read AND post a review on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, GoodReads, Facebook. I've found that readers want to know what others think about a book before they take a chance on it.

I hope that gives you a glimpse into what you can do to promote your work...if I continue, we'll be here all day and you won't have time to read all the other fabulous author's blogs on this subject who probably have way better advice than I do.
Whether you're newly contracted and anticipating the release of your first book or you've done this a dozen times, marketing is hard work. It's time-consuming, not to mention expensive.
But it is necessary.
Don't sell yourself short. It's okay to brag a little, you've earned it. But if you're succeeding in your marketing efforts, you'll have a lot of help.
Most importantly, look after yourself. Take a breather now and again. Don't spend all day every day trying to come up with new ways to promote your book. You need to rest and rejuvenate.
You also need to be working on your next novel!

Nobody ever said this gig was easy. It's not. But it sure is a lot of fun!


Wendy Paine Miller said...

Lots of goodies in here. Now off to click a few links.

Oh, and the word market initially makes me think of lots of fresh produce! Yum!

~ Wendy

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Thanks for the post! It was really helpful.