Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Marketing -- a Must Part of Publishing

            Most people don't recognize marketing as a part of publishing, but it is. Once a publisher accepts a manuscript or an author decides to self-published, marketing on the part of an author (and an illustrator) needs to begin.

         Somehow someway, the rumor that an author's job ends once a manuscript goes to press spread throughout the world. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Remember, authors and illustrators are the best promoters of their books. If an author like James Patterson has to promote his books, those of us not as well known or as popular must promote even more.

         Below is a list of ideas whose sole purpose is to assist authors and illustrators in their marketing efforts. No one needs to try all the ideas but should try several. If some don't work, try something else. However, a few are needed, such as numbers 1, 8, 9, and 12.

1. Promote on Facebook and other on-line social media. (Contracts state authors should have a blog, a website, and be at least on Facebook.) Get that website up and running -- before the book is released.

2. Send handwritten notes, cards, or greeting cards to inform friends or the public of your new book or existing books as well as any appearances you are making.

3. Use handwritten fonts as an alternative to actually handwriting cards.

4. Use or a similar medium as a way to contact others.

5. Search out and enter contests. Researching online is one way to find contests. OWFI has a writing competition every year (

6. Join the Chamber of Commerce and use its networking opportunities.

7. Promote your book on radio, t.v. spots, and/or talk shows.

8. Talk to your librarians about purchasing your book for their shelves or fill out a book request. The library will often purchase that book after the request. Also, have friends and relatives request your book at their local libraries.

9. Have a giveaway once in a while. There are different ways to do this. Be creative. B.J. Daniels gives away special bookmarks, magnets, aprons, and other mementos of her books. Personally, I prefer not to give away a current book, but if you have previous books, you might give away one or more of them to build an interest in your new book.

10. Set up a booth in art, crafts, street, or book festivals. Sell your books directly. Authors and illustrators usually make more by buying their books at a discount, selling at retail (or slightly lower), and pocketing the profit.

11. Donate a copy of your book to one or more local schools and get media coverage, even if in a small local paper.

12. Write a very short story about one or two of your book characters and post it on your blog or other places as a FREE item, a lead-in, or attention-getter for your book.

13. Build your name's brand, or that of your book, by giving away pencils or pens with your name and email address on them, bottles of water, bookmarks, postcards, etc. Always have business cards to give away.

14. You should provide information (links) on social media and on handouts such as fliers and postcards so that people know where to find your book or books.

15. Prepare postcard-sized inserts with your autograph to place in each book: On the card, have your photo, brief info about books, and a polite request for the reader to place a rating and brief review on Amazon if book pleased reader.

16. Prepare and keep an event diary for annual events in which you are interested in participating. In that digital or hard-copy diary, keep a compilation of press releases, press clippings, email blasts, photos, marketing materials, a monthly to-do lists, and anything else that would be helpful for you to plan the next year's attendance or that would be helpful for the next year's publicity person. For example, OWFI has a conference annually. If you attend, speak at that conference, and/or have your book or books in their conference bookstore, then have an event diary for that event.

17. Don't write just one press release. Customize the release for each specific media. A different slant is needed for media out of town than for local media.

18. Promote your book at least 3-4 months before it's released officially. This idea may not work or be wanted for every book, but it will help for some books.

19. Find local places to host a book signing for you and/or to carry your book(s). For example, a book about sports might grab the interest of a sporting goods store; a book about dolls might interest a toy store; a book about a dog or cat or other pet might interest a pet store.

20. Have a guest book for people stopping by your booth at an event. Be sure visitors write their emails so you can send messages (with a way for the recipients to "opt-out" of receiving more emails) go share writing tips and information about upcoming events or books.

21. Be aware of opportunities to promote your book.
For example, one 4RV author carries a copy of her book and another book to read with her. While waiting for an appointment or for a friend, she reads the extra book and looks around to see if anyone else is reading. When she sees a person reading, she asks the person the title of the book. She tells the person she is an author and is interested in what people like to read. That short conversation provides an opportunity for her to talk about her books. She doesn’t always sell a book, but she can give the person a business card and flier about her books.

         Finally, search for other ideas to promote your book. Be creative, but don't be afraid to "borrow" ideas from others. You are the best person to promote your book because you know it better than anyone else. Be proud of your "baby" and present it to the world. You may not be a James Patterson, yet, but you can promote as hard as he does.

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