When we think about marketing, we tend to get so focused on the idea of marketing our book to the reading public, that we forget that there is a marketing task that comes well before that, and it is even more important in the great scheme of things: marketing oneself to the publisher.
Now, that sounds kind of scary, and if you were applying for a sales job or something in upper management, it would be scary. Luckily, as authors, our books will make up about 85% of our marketing efforts. Which is why writing the very best book you can is one of our top marketing focuses here at SVP.
This very concept was re-enforced for me at RWA, where I had the opportunity to hear Shauna Summers, a Senior Editor at Bantam, speak. She was adamant that writers should absolutely allow themselves to write outside the box—but only if that’s where the story took them. She did not recommend it just for the sake of being “out there.”
She said you gain nothing by being small. She sees lots of manuscripts that are good--not--great. She wants great.
She mentioned the very real danger of having one’s manuscript critiqued and workshopped to death, so that every last spark of freshness and originality is lost. You can’t please every reader, not even in your critique group, and if you try, you risk eradicating that very thing that makes your special and will allow it to stand out (market itself) to the editor.
So you got that, Vi’s? Go forth and create—BIG—outside the box.
And lastly, I have a huge Bonus Marketing Tip hot from the conference.
One of the Very Big Name Editors said that, in her opinion, pitching appointments were an absolute waste of time, especially when you considered how stressful they were for everyone concerned. She had never bought anything from a pitch appointment and tried to steer clear of them as she could tell more from a good query than a pitch. What a relief! So while, yes, it's a great excerise to be able to distill your book into a pithy short blurb, you don't actually have to verbally pitch it in order to succeed in publishing.
::introverts everywhere heave a great big sigh of relief::