Thursday, January 8, 2009

On marketing

Is there really one right way to market that book of yours? The obvious answer here is no, but it is crucial that you, as the writer do all that you can to market your book. Simply put, the more people who know about your book, the better the chance the book will sell.

So, let's talk about some of the options. Although this list is in no way the end of the list, these are some of the most common that we hear about.

THE BOOK SIGNING These are what every author dreams of. We see it all of the time on the news when a new author has a book signing. People are lined up out the doors just to get a chance to meet you as the author and have a chance to brush up with a celebrity. In reality though, book signings are tough and really hit and miss. You will spend a lot of time arranging the signing with the book store, making sure they have your books there and ready to go, and then sit there and wait for people to come. Now, unless you have been advertising this book signing and/or you are a famous writer, the only traffic you will get is the occasional person to stop by and see what you are doing. Plan on not selling a whole heck of a lot of books in this case.

Now, you can try to find a way to get together with a few other authors all in your genre and see what you can do. Sometimes the bigger the crowd signing, the increased chance you will sell more.

Let me know your thoughts on the book signings.

ADVERTISING There are a ton of approaches to advertising and in most cases, it is simply going to cost you. Putting ads for your book in magazines is great but these need to be big enough for people to read. I have seen people try putting ads in the classified sections of these magazines but in the end, these type draw very few readers.

You can try online ads such as banners on other people's websites but make sure you have a hyperlink that takes the reader directly to the site where they can buy the book.

Of course you can always go with the print format of postcards or book marks. I honestly have to say that other than postcards from authors I already know that send me one telling me about a new book, I don't follow up. It really becomes too much work. The same for the book marks.

Now, I will have to say that the bookmarks are great if you are signing books and you have some for other books that might not be there. The hope is that the reader will love your book enough and go after the other books.

Let me know what type of advertising you have used.

WEB PAGES We've all heard it. You have to get a webpage. Sure, we are all on the internet, but unless you know who you are looking for, these webpages are not going to attract new readers. It is just too hard to find you.

The one great thing about the webpages though, is that readers can follow up when they read one book and see if you have other books coming. In other words, for the new reader, this might not draw a lot of support.

And then there is My Space, Facebook and the like. I am sorry to say, I am not a fan of these sites. I hate to break it to you people, but you don't have 5000 friends. Sure these sites are fun, but if you already have a web presence, adding these sites will not necessarily get you more people and yes, it will suck up more of your writing time.

BLOGS - Blogs are the new in thing. Everyone has one. I will say that blogs are very much like websites. People will not simply stumble across you site.

Where you can make a great statement is by spending time on others blogs. When you post, you continually find ways to pitch your books as well. If you can even get on some big names blog for a chat, this really works great. Again, it is a great place for others to meet and greet you from the comfort of their own homes.

DISCUSSION GROUPS - This is simply a networking option but a great way to spread the news about your books and book signings. Sure you are promoting your books to people who are already in your loop, but by keeping your name out there, it will spread some. You won't get a lot of new people, but you keep up the presence.

REVIEWS - Reviews are great and if you have a publisher that already sends your work out to select places, it is even better. Of course, if you send it to people that rip your story apart, this is just not the type of marketing you want. It is crucial to know you will be getting some great feedback.

I should add though, having reviews by insignificant sites and critiques will not get you much. I see this all of the time when people submit stories for me, aparently "name dropping" but quoting people that don't mean squat.

I think the one thing to notice is that you have to be active. You can't just expect to sit back and see what happens. Proactive is the key word.


  1. I haven't done a book signing in ages, because it really does suck up writing time, but when I did do them, the most asked questions I received were: do you work here? Do you know where the bathrooms are?

    The store owners always told me that they sold out of my titles after I was gone, which makes me think that I'm either scaring the average reader, or they feel intimidated by meeting the author. Or, they could simply be like me. I don't like meeting the authors of the books I love. I don't want my personal impression of the author to affect how I feel about the book.

    Some of my fellow authors swear that the "drive by" signing works. That's when an author shows up at a store and offers to autograph stock, and then affixes an autographed by author sticker on the front. I've never done it, but they seem to think it helps sales.

  2. Not a bad idea to ask a few friends to that signing. I too am much more interested in the work than the personal quirks of the author, but last year while cruising through B & N the store announced an author talk beginning, and I thought I may as well go, i liked her book, and went upstairs to find i was the ONLY person at the signing. We waited a long time and no one else came. I only went because I thought she was someone else. The tables were piled with books for sale, and she had invited her entire family, whol lived at least four hours away, to be part of her first signing. My heart really broke for her. I stayed for two hours and tried to discuss a book I had never read. I think they belived I had read and liked it. I will always remember the dignity with which she handled this sad situation. I wish her the best. Don't go alone.

  3. Are you doing a book tour? I've heard that question most often from media types and at first it surprised me. As if that is the marketing answer and throngs would come out just because I wrote a book. Closest I came to a book tour was gathering a group of friends and heading out of town to a book signing. One stop - one day only!

    I've spent part of a lunch hour with a writer doing a cross-country book tour. Why? I hated to see him all alone at that table with a stack of books while people walked by and ignored him. We had a great conversation about writing and I bought his book just because I didn't want to see the book signing be a total failure. He reminds me that unless people know who you are and wait for your books to come out, book signings by themselves are not effective. You have to market them front and back. So while I think most book signings aren't worth the time, every book should have one - the book launch!

    I have a chance to participate in a book signing with a few other authors including one bigger name author and I was weighing the pros and cons of participating. Your post made me think that maybe it's one of those instances where you won't know unless you go.

    I've used posters, bookmarks, Facebook, MySpace, twitter and other networking sites, blogging, a website, articles, interviews, brochures, etc. Still hunting for that totally unique marketing strategy that doesn't suck gobs of time.

  4. Hmmmm. Interesting topic. I honestly can say I’ve never even been to a book signing that wasn‘t a HUGE author. Why? Because you don’t hear about them. I think to have any success, you’d have to have already gotten your name out there in some big way. Since I am unpublished, I have to give you my opinion from a readership POV. While I would love to live under the illusion that my book is published, there’s an instant buzz and I’m swept across the states and beyond to sign my novels for the throngs that cometh - I know this isn’t reality.

    As far as other marketing tools - well again, from a readership stance - the website is the one that I utilize the most. I search the web for new releases that I want and I track my favorite authors by their websites. I love blogs as well.

    Facebook is great for keeping up with all of my networking pals, and even if they aren’t my ‘friends’ in the biblical sense, boy as a community it can be a great tool for letting others know what your doing. I get lots of info on what other authors are doing through FB.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said stay active. Even if I LOVE the authors book, if I don’t see or hear anything about them for a long time, I’m going to forget them. Okay, maybe not forget, but someone else who gives updates and has releases more often is going to hold my readership longer.

    There is so much out there to read that making yourself visible and giving your readers new novels at acceptable intervals is key. Nothing is more frustrating for me than falling in love with an authors style and voice - then never seeing their books again. Good page turning novels that will spread by word of mouth are probably the best marketing tool there is.

    And unfortunately, you can’t control that other than writing more.