Monday, October 8, 2007

Having a Marketing Plan

When you get a group of authors together and give them all a drink, one of the first topics to come up will be marketing. Specifically, the difficulty of getting marketing commitments from their publisher. With over 5,000 books published every year, clearly something needs to happen to make any given book stand out—thus marketing.

But to be fair, publishers have a limited amount of time, manpower, and marketing dollars to go around. With anywhere from ten to fifty books on each season’s list, prioritizing and budgeting are key. So what can a new author, or any author, do to help ensure their book gets a piece of the publishers marketing pie?

I think one of the most important steps an author can take is to demonstrate to the publisher that they are willing to be a partner in the marketing of their book. That they understand that both author and publisher have to work together to get this book into the hands of readers, that it must be a joint effort.

However, this can be really hard for introverts, as the mere thought of promotion tends to send us running for a bottle of antacid.

But we’ve demonstrated over the last few months that there are a number of things introverts can do that don’t require extroverted behavior or bold marketing moves but can still be effective in getting the word out to about their book. Armed with all the information you’ve learned here (and other places) I highly suggest you put together a marketing plan for your book.

In you marketing plan, you list the things you’re comfortable doing, you play to your strengths, and demonstrate your commitment. It’s a great opportunity to show how much you are willing to do to make this new partnership between you and your publisher a success.

Understand that a marketing plan is NOT a demand letter with the author stating all the things they want/expect the publisher to do for them.

It’s a statement of everything the author is planning to do to market their book, along with a few suggestions for joint promotion or marketing opportunities with your publisher.

So one of your tasks is to sit down and think what a brand spanking new (introverted) author like yourself brings to the table.

Your writing, which they’ve already shown they believe in. Your willingness to succeed, your enthusiasm and hopefully a small army of enthusiastic supporters—friends, family, fellow authors, the librarian you chatted up while doing your research, your child’s third grade teacher who found out you were writing a children’s book, your cousins, your local indie bookseller, where you’ve bought your books for years and are friendly with the staff, your small town newspaper or alumni newsletter, or church bulletin that’s always looking for bits of news to publish. (Remember, no book is as highly celebrated as a first book. It’s a momentous occasion and people will love celebrating that moment with you.)

Or perhaps you already have a couple of books out. In that case, you have a few more contacts to build upon.

An introverted marketing plan might include the following:

Create author website*
Feature contests and giveaways on author blog
Arrange blog tour with following popular blogs (then list them)
Print and mail 500 post cards to local schools, libraries, independent booksellers, and personal acquaintances.
Press kit mailing to local print media
Have promotional items made (this would be something that could tie in with your book in a clever way, like temporary tattoos, personalized pencils with the book title on it, magnets, etc.)

*Ideally you should have this up and running a few months before the publication date. It’s the #1 most important marketing tool you can have.

Not sure what else to put on the plan? Check back here to remind yourself which tasks you’re comfortable with.


Saints and Spinners said...

I know there has been some debate as to whether or not a blog helps with marketing, and I would not advocate for an author to start a blog simply to have it. However, just so you know, I've found myself more inclined to read an author's work after getting to know him or her a little bit via blogging. Mitali Perkins, Shannon Hale, Robin Brande, and Tom Riddleburger are four such authors who come to mind.

Saints and Spinners said...

P.S. Oh, and Robin LaFevers and
Mary Hershey as well!

Mary Hershey said...

Great, Robin! I haven't ever done anything quite this proactive, but I love it. And WILL do it for my next one coming out the chute.

And, thanks Alkelda! Glad you've come by our sites. :-) I'm with you on that. Once I get interested in someone via their blog, I usually can't wait to read their books. (Mailed your mug yesterday! It is enroute as we speak. Enjoy!)