As I explained in Part 1 of this series, over the past year I made it a point to go to a multitude of writing conferences. From big, national conferences to small town gatherings, I attended over a dozen conferences, drank
lots of too much coffee, and took copious notes. In this series, I’m sharing with my readers my top seven takeaways from the experience.
At most of the conferences, there was a session or panel or workshop (or two or three) dedicated to marketing. At first, I ignored these sessions thinking they were relevant only to those authors who were interested in self-publishing their books. (And believe me, from what I heard at these conferences, if you are planning on self-publishing your baby you absolutely want to investigate marketing, self-publishing, and the world of ebooks.)
But after attending a few conferences and seeing this topic over and over and over again while at the same time hearing writer after writer talk about these sessions, I decided to attend a few myself (here is where the networking from Part 1 comes into play – had I not been talking to these authors, I would not have learned how important these sessions are for all authors no matter where in the process you find yourself).
What I learned about marketing blew me away.
I had assumed that once your book was accepted by a publishing house, marketing would be done for you. After all, isn’t it in the best interest of publishers to have their books sell? Yes and no. It turns out publishers like to put most of their eggs in one basket.
What does this mean for Average Joe (or Jane) Writer?
Let’s pretend Big Publisher has $100 to spend on marketing 10 books. Chances are that he or she will put $90 into marketing one of the books and spread the remaining $10 over the other nine books. Smaller publishing houses have less money to spend, so while your book may get more attention there is likely to be a smaller budget.
This boils down to a fairly simple result for most authors – Average Joe or Jane Writer will need to pick up the slack with marketing if he or she wants his or her publication to experience the best possible sales and build his or her name.
How do writers go about this? We all know writers who tweet incessantly about their own books, but this simply doesn’t work. At least not according to the many successful (often best-selling) authors I listened to over the past year who were involved in marketing their own works. What does work is a combination of activities and connections with other writers and book-friendly community partners.
What follows is a list of some the ideas and suggestions I gathered from the various conferences. Take the ideas, tweak the ideas, leave the ideas – it’s up to you. But know that when the time comes to market your work you should be prepared to be actively involved in the process.
Author Marketing Ideas
- Promote other authors’ books. This seems to work especially well if you can join a group of like-genre writers who will do the same for you. Instead of tweeting or blogging about your own book, offer to do a review or giveaway of their books and ask them to do the same for you.
- Tie marketing into workshops at community events – but be sure you are truly providing a value to the community (don’t just try to sell your books). For example, at the local Arts & Wine Festival, offer a creative writing session (or two) to aspiring writers or teens … and at the end offer to sign copies of your book.
- Start a “Read Local” challenge. Band together with 15-20 other local authors, create a poster with your books, and spread the word. This works especially well with YA and middle grade books where schools can compete to see which can read the greatest number of local authors in a given time period. However, this could also work with adult readers and local libraries.
- If you write YA or middle grade, offer to do school visits. Be sure that the teachers prepare for your visit (i.e., the children should know the book and have questions ready). Also be sure your books are available to the students through the school or classroom library. Schools usually pay authors for these visits, and rates vary based on your geographic region and how long your visit lasts.
- Offer to do writing workshops at local schools and community colleges. You can charge for the workshops and offer to have copies of your books available for sale/signing at the end of the day.
- Giveaway Skype visits to schools and community groups. Offer to do a 15-20 minute Q&A for no cost through a website or Twitter giveaway.
- Donate a few copies of your books to underprivileged schools/community groups/events.
- And lastly, remember that the best publicity is publishing additional books. The more titles you have to your name the broader your audience and the more marketable you become. So write, write, write!
What about you? Do you have any tips or tidbits for author marketing? Have you engaged in any of the above tactics or done something on your own? I’d love to hear about it in the comments box! The more we share with each other the more we grow!