Monday, January 16, 2012

Grandma Mary Can't Market your Book

*This post was originally put on the #Amwriting blog.*

If all you want is for Grandma Mary to read your book, don’t bother continuing with this article. You’ve accomplished your goal and you don’t need me to tell you how to market your book.

But, if you one of the growing number of authors who has realized that the sole person responsible for marketing their book is . . .gulp . . themselves, then perhaps you should read on.

While I’m far from an expert, I can share with you what I’ve learned.

Let’s say you’re lucky enough to snag yourself a contract with a publishing house (and this could be a small publishing house or a large one, it doesn’t seem to matter) they really aren’t interested in doing much marketing for you- the author- anymore.

And if you’re like a growing number of writers and are considering (or already have) self published, then you know that the marketing for every book you write falls squarely on your shoulders.

Depressing, ain’t it?

No, no, no! This is an opportunity for you to get creative, to reach out to your readership and draw them into your world of writing and books.

I’ve broken this down into 7ish steps and added a chart for clarification.

1. Acknowledge what problems you might run in to while promoting. For me they’re always one of two things. Not enough time and not enough money. For you they might be that you’re shy, don’t like to network or think that promotional stuff is silly and a waste of time. Whatever it is, write it down. By identifying the problem, you can find ways to work around it within your promotional efforts.

2. Write down your goals; give yourself something to shoot for. Don’t write things like “Sell as many books as John Locke.” Be kind to yourself; give yourself goals that can be reached within reason. It’s good to have long term, high shooting goals, but if you aim for Locke or Hocking status right out of the gate, you may just derail not only your promotional track, but with your writing track too.

3. Next, fill out a budget. This budget should include how much you are willing to spend a month on your marketing and PR plan. Your budget will dictate to a certain extent what venues you’ll be using to get your book out to the masses. Along with a financial budget, also write up how much TIME you’re willing to spend per day on your marketing. This is very important as it is easy to get caught up in marketing and you may find yourself promoting at all hours of the day and night.

4. Make a list of all the things you could possibly do to promote your book. Brainstorm, look up ideas on the internet, see what other authors are doing, ask your friends, ask your network. Include anything and everything, don’t censure, you never know what might spark the fire for you. (See the Actions section of my Chart for a few ideas.)

5. Now you want to make a list of all the people you think might be able to help you promote. This can be friends and family, acquaintances, clients, or other writers you have helped out in the past. This is an important step in order to make your marketing move forward. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Where ever possible, outsource. Your network is a HUGE part of getting the word out to new readers, so take advantage of them, they want to help you!

6. Go through the list of possible Actions; decide what will work for you within your budget and your time frame. Remember that if it’s free, it will likely cost you more time so be ready to put in the hours needed.

7. An important step that I touched on earlier was that you don’t want to sacrifice your writing time for promotional time. Eventually you would end up with nothing to promote. Look at your day, decide when you want to write, when you want to promote and STICK TO IT!

After you fill out your own chart, you’re ready to make a plan for marketing your book. My suggestion would be to have a calendar where you write down your goals. You can check off what you’ve accomplished and can easily see what is next on the list.

As writers our focus should ALWAYS be on writing the next story; improving our craft. But if we want more than Grandma Mary to read our books, we need to take the initiative and start our own marketing plan, even if that means taking a little time away from our writing. In the end, when your books are being read by strangers around the world, you won’t have to promote so much. You can sit back with Grandma Mary and work on your next big novel.


LM Preston said...

Great meaty blog post on the responsibility of an author to see their baby to success.

Jan Romes said...

Great post, Shannon! Promo can get tricky! I love your organizational skills & chart! :-)

Jan Romes

Shannon said...

LM- Thanks, I couldn't agree more. It's all up to us if we want to see our "Baby" succeed. :)

Jan- The chart was actually a lot of fun (yes, I'm a total geek!) and I hope it helps lots!

S.A. Hunter said...

Shannon, thanks! Great and informative blog...I love the chart idea. Now...if I can just achieve your kind of discipline... :)