[The last in the series]
By Al Kalar
Write something every day
You’ve found a publishing house and they’ve agreed to publish your book. The editing/re-writing process is over. All the decisions about cover, dedication, and such have been made. It’s time to celebrate!
Maybe a trip to the Bahamas? A cruise? Why not? You’re gonna get rich off your book. Right?
Weeellllll, maybe. But if you do you’ll be one in several thousand. Maybe you can afford to take in a movie and a night on the town with your spouse or a date.
Here’s a nasty bit of news: most first books fail. If you got an advance, it may be the only money you see from the book. If it doesn’t sell well enough for the publisher to recoup his expenses, you may not be asked to write another.
It’s partially up to you to make sure this doesn’t happen to your wonderful child.
So, what can you do?
“Hey! Wait! I thought that was the publisher’s gig.”
Your publisher will do what he can. If he’s a “paper book” publisher, he’ll do his best to get your book into the distribution channel. If it looks worth the effort, he may even do a small amount of advertising from his ever-shrinking ad budget.
But if you’re not a big name like Steven King, it’s not likely he’ll do a high-profile campaign. Heck, he might not even pay expenses for you to do book signings.
The sad fact is, that new authors are expected to do a lot of the marketing themselves; something most writers find uncomfortable at best (unless your book/expertise is about marketing).
The sad fact is that many otherwise talented writers never get the notice they deserve because they won’t make the effort to understand and enter the marketing side of the business.
So, again, what can you do?
Make a plan
- While you’re waiting for the book to actually get published, you can plan your campaign. Even make a list of things to do. Read below to find out what your tasks might be.
- When you’re done with that and while you’re waiting for the book to actually be published, do your pre-publication promotion to build anticipation and start writing your next book.
- Then, when the book finally comes out and you know where it is NOW available . . .
Spread the Word
- Tell everyone you know about your new book. Tell them where they can get it. Ask them to tell their friends. Be tactful and not too shameless.
- Ask them to post a review of the book after they read it. Tell them where they can post the review (Nothing Binding, Publisher’s site, Amazon, Google Books, wherever it’s listed).
- If you have an account on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads, or similar social media site, mention your book to your “friends” there and on appropriate forums (don’t raid the forums, be a well-behaved and regular contributor). Start a blog about yourself and how you went about writing and publishing your book.
Make use of local media
- If your book is about an area (especially an area in which you live), let the local newspapers, radio, and TV stations in on it. “Local boy/girl makes good” is a good story to balance the normal politics and bloodshed they have to wade through. If you’re good at public speaking (in front of a camera or microphone), you can hint at a live interview.
- But be sure to make the entire story about the book and the area. Get away from “me” unless asked during the interview. Whatever you do, make sure the host looks good. Take the time to prepare him on the interesting points he might ask about. Don’t try to script him, just give him ammunition he can use “to look good and intelligent”. This will require you to think about the entire thing yourself before you contact anyone.
- Try to talk about any benefits the reader will get from the book. “This book will tell someone how to get rid of bad breath forever, Chet. For instance, one of the little secrets is to carry around a box of tic-tacs at all times.” This is giving away something to create interest.
Create an “author” website
You can talk about yourself and your book(s) along with links to the site where your book can be purchased. If you’re not comfortable dealing with the technology side of a web site, you might want to spend your efforts elsewhere or engage a professional (or friend) to set you up (watch out for kids who don’t “get” marketing and professionalism). Be sure to link to your web site wherever you talk about your book or it’s subject matter.
Blog or forum
Start a blog or forum based around your book. This gives you an opportunity to interact with your fans (and may save you from having to go through a ton of fan mail and answer the same questions over and over again). Again, make sure your readers know where to go to purchase your book. This is another “techi” thing you may want help doing.
- Some authors say book signings work, others say it’s a waste of time. I have no opinion.
- If your book appeals to children, you might work with schools to give talks to kids in the age group that is most likely to appreciate your book. Early grade schoolers are particularly good audiences for a well-presented talk. Have some books to autograph and sell, kids appreciate that more than adults.
- On book signings:
Attend “fan” conventions (you’ll probably have to pay for exhibitor space).
Haunt the Internet
- Read the materials on Google Books to see if you want to become involved in their program.
- Set up an author page on Amazon if your book sells through them. Link it to the RSS feed on your blog.
- Visit other places and forums related to your book. Become a regular contributor and occasionally refer to your book along with a link to where it’s available or your author/blog/forum page. Budget your time. Spend maybe an hour a day doing this and keep records so you’ll know where you’re “a regular”. Try to visit each site at least once a week. If a site gets stale, drop it and find a new one to take its place.
- Don’t neglect your social marketing sites.
Here are some of the things a cartoonist does to sell his hardbound books:
- sets up a MySpace page for each book
- sets up an Imagekind page to sell framed illustrations from the book
- promotes the book on his own web site
- gives copies to friends and family and gets them to write reviews (“unless they hate it of course”)
- goes around to schools, talks about cartooning, and does book signings for kids
- every Christmas he signs a framed book illustration and auctions it off for charity which “gives me good coverage and also benefits people”
This is the last article in this series.