Let’s Talk Marketing

Alright everyone, with this post I’m just going over a few things you want to consider when marketing your books. Or businesses for that matter.

I talk with a bunch of small businesses trying to gain accounts and marketing is one of those “necessary evils” that no one wants to admit. It’s just a tad bit more exciting than insurance selling, but everyone thinks that they do not need marketing or advertising, when, in truth, they do. Why do they think this? Because most people are focused about now. Will I gain money from it now? There is a possibility for that with advertising, but most times its function is to tell people you are there so that you have the POTENTIAL for business. That is a very important concept to understand here. Just because you do some of these marketing ideas, does not mean you will have the best-seller–but it sure doesn’t hurt. Plus, I’m not sure if anyone told you this, but most authors don’t make money on their first book, they make money on the second book and third book (if it’s a series). The importance of marketing, then, is really to tell people you exist! Once you have a fan base your sales will only increase exponentially.

So, your book is coming out. How many months should you plan on marketing? Beforehand four months is preferred, but two months is the very minimum. With that being said, let’s break down marketing into the (free) section and the (paid for) section.

Free Marketing Opportunities

The reason is that alot of this pre-marketing is going to involve sending your first free option (1) galley copies to various editors of magazines. For example, I am a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity (joined it in college) and when my books hit the shelves sometime later this year, they are agreeing to put a blurb about it and me in their magazine that goes out to over 80,000 people, nationally. THAT IS SOME CRAZY PUBLICITY. But, don’t stop there, try to get reviews out in Publisher’s Weekly. Or perhaps some genre-based magazines. Anyways, no one wants to review books AFTER the fact that is has been released, they want to review it before hand so that they can have some sort of influence of whether or not it is a flop. Research the Writer’s Market for some of these magazine options,  but also, just Google stuff.

Free option (2) comes in the form of social media. Do not outright tell people to buy your book, that is selfish, and desperate, but you can tell them that the book is scheduled to be released at such-and-such a date. Or even if you are writing a book many people already have an interest in reading it because they personally know you. When you do have a book release ask people to post something on their statuses about “checking” out this book or whatever. You’ll be suprised the power of social media.

Free option (3) = virtual author book tours. So, I guess I should clarify something really quick, these aren’t necessarily “free” options. Most people who review your book and agree to publicize it (for free in a magazine) usually request a free copy of the book. That is something that you will have to pay for, however, the cost is more than worth the publicity in most instances. With that being said, let’s talk about virtual author book tours. Blogging is huge nowadays, and if you already are an established blogger, then you have a following. But, look for people like you, and those who enjoy your particular genre and ask them to review a copy of your book on their blog. You will want to keep the query letter short when reaching out to these people. Now, this is a pre-marketing tool (it can also be after release date), but when doing this you will want to make sure that you actually have books on hand in case it generates traffic to your website and that you will need to fulfill orders. Make sure to thank them for their time afterwards, and if you are engaging in discussion with others, make sure you have timely responses! This is your credibility on the line here.

Free Option (4) = Signatures. Now, this is really subliminal marketing but when you have emails, you have a “signature” option which is usually composed of your (1) name, (2) title just so that you don’t constantly have to type it. Well, now you can put that you are an “author of such and such a book” under that too. It will give you more credibility, and also, people might be intrigued by you being an author and now that they know the book, they will hopefully search you out, so have a website ready! Don’t limit yourself to just emails, though, use these signatures in chat rooms pertinent to your book’s topic as you are out there building rapport with other authors and establishing yourself as a vital online presence.

free option (5) = book signings. Again, do when you have physical copies to sell, but out of all the options this can be the biggest flop and most heartbreaking. It all depends on how well you advertise the book signing, and most people that come will be your friends who already know you wrote a book. This can be good for increasing publicity, though, if you do it enough. And that is what we are really going for here. Bookstores should not ask you for money when doing these sort of things, if they do, don’t go with that bookstore.

free option (6) = telephone calls. Alright, so this is really really stealthy, but it’s pretty sweet. So, if you are really interested in getting your self-published book into big brick-and-mortar stores, call and request it. When they say that they don’t have it, say that you will get it from the independent book store. Now, one of these phone calls will not do anything. Why, 100 of these phone calls may not do anything. But if you get your friends to call (and if you have contacts in other states that would be interested in doing it, contact them about it and the script they should follow) enough times you will start to pique their interest. Now, what constitutes calling enough? Well, that is really up to you but I would not call yourself more than three times a week. if you have your friends call this same amount at random hours, then it will start to gain publicity with the clerks and perhaps they will go that extra step and request the manager get it so that they don’t miss out on sales.

free option (7) = public television and radio. if you can get on public tv shows as an interviewee I would recommend doing so. One writer’s group I am in has a person who runs their own tv show where they interview authors, so I plan on setting up something with them once the book is actually published. Now, when you do this, make sure you are ready. Nothing worse than stumbling over your answers and not knowing what your own book is about. You might actually LOSE sales that way. So, come prepared and swing for the fences.

free option (8) = book trailers. Design one of these with some cover art of your book. Having videos with not only increase your SEO (search engine optimization) of the website if you have it embedded, but it is also great for another vehicle to channel your book information out into. What should you include? Well, what your book is about, the title, publisher, author, and of course when it comes out. Other things may include website info for everything you (this includes Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, etc.) Need music for it? Look here, http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?keywords=revenge&Search=Search

You’ll have to credit the guy who is doing it, but they are pretty nice instrumentals.

Now that we’ve talked plenty about free ideas that you can consider, let’s talk about paid forms of marketing.

Paid (1) = TV. If you have a genre type book, you may want to consider this. Guardian of the Core is a science-ficiton/fantasy book and I am aiming it towards college aged males. What types of programs do they watch? Well, probably comedy central, FX, spike, syfy. Romance? SOAP Network, Lifetime, Hallmark channel. Research here is the big thing and be prepared to spend a little. What I would recommend using here for TV spots, by the way, is the book trailer that I mentioned up above under free advertising. Great way to let people know about it and it’s, for the most part unless you paid for someone to make it, free. For the video at least.

paid option (2) = conventions. Here is a great way to meet fans of your genre and build your rapport with the reading and writing community. Look online to see if your genre has any of these conventions, and if they do, start researching how you can become one of those booth people. What you’ll have to consider here is cost/benefit. You will most likely need to pay for hotel room, travel, food, etc. So, will you earn enough publicity/make enough money through book sales, to warrant such an expense? If you do go, I suggest you bring a friend along with you who will (a) make your trip a little less boring, but (b) can handle the cash register while you interact with your fans!

paid option (3) = direct mailers. From genre-based magazines, get a list of people who subscribe (you’ll have to pay for this) and if it is within your budget send them a direct mailer that is snappy and grabs their attention mentioning the release of your book. If you have them, include some reviews from pre-publicity attempts.

paid option (4) = Swagger. Okay, so what I mean by this is gear that you can hook up your fans in! Sky is the limit here. Bookmarks may be essential for readers. For my book there are different houses that have different sigils (pretty much the olden day version of logos for today’s companies). Anyways, what I plan on doing is creating buttons for each of these main sigils and giving them away (or at the very least selling them for cheap) with each book. People start wearing these around and ask, “Oh what does that represent.” The person tells and, Boom! You have a referral. Another options for you servers and waitresses out there is buy a bunch of custom-made pens with the title of your book on it, and the website. When those people steal your pens (and trust me I know they do because I have been a server before), they will go home with information about your book and a link to your website. Another subliminal tactic. And, while people sign the checks, you will be exposing them to it, although they may not think so.

There are probably more that I didn’t cover. But alas, this blog post is getting quite long as it is. Use your creativity for marketing ideas and you will come up with a bunch more. Again, the first book is all about getting your name out there. You want to build your fan base and cut a slice in the market for yourself. It will cost money, but if you play it right, and write it right, the book should start building its own publicity in time. Many books don’t get discovered for years. The Hunger Games was out two years before people noticed it. Game of Thrones, even longer.

With all, make sure you research before utilizing these ideas or any ideas that you may have. You want to see where you best marketing dollars are placed because this venture that you’re taking is already going to be expensive, no sense in doing things that will not give you the most possible ROI.

Until next time. Happy writing.

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