Thursday, January 31, 2008

Don't Just Take Our Word For It...

Gather round children and you will hear, a midnight tale of …well, really good news for introverts. Remember lo those many months ago when I shared with you my favorite piece of marketing advice? Remember?

Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. Donald Maass, founder of Donald Maass Literary Agency and author of the wildly helpful WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL has spoken. And I want to share his answer with you.

First of all, I found this blog entry via a link on Writtenwyrdd’s blog (which is a fabulously informative blog and I highly recommend it, especially for writers of fantasy) to a post on Josephine Damian’s blog, which is, I’m guessing, the cyber equivalent of six degrees of separation. Anywho—Josephine attended one of Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workshops and asked him about the benefits of blogging and other promotional activities. His answer?

You really must go read the entire thing to get the full impact of what he said, but here are a couple of highlights to motivate you to read it.

…here he made his palms and fingers flat, then held his hands a few inches apart and said with the same vehemence of his earlier reply, "It’s what’s between the cover that sell the book." Tender reader, he doesn’t so much say these words but rather hurls them at me.

But wait. It gets better....

To sum up, Donald was willing to concede there were examples, few and far between, where an online presence helped in some small ways, but in terms of significant sales or opportunity, you have to wait until you’ve released 4-5 books for the time and effort spent promoting yourself online to payoff in any way that’s worthwhile, sales-wise.

And don't forget to read the entire comment thread, because she has more gems in there, such as the following:
DM made note of all the promotional bookmarks and postcards being handed out by the romance writers in my group (the group that hosted the workshop), and he says they are a waste of time and money as well.

So check it out. And Josephine promises to have more posts up soon on her encounter with Donald, so you may want to follow along.


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I have heard several times that the most important factor in a book's success is its quality. That quality generates buzz, word-of-mouth, etc., better than any marketing ploy. It's always a relief to hear. Yes, some excellent books get overlooked, and some people are able to hype less-than-stellar books into the flavor of the minute, but overall they say the best thing you can do for your book is to make it as irresistible as possible.

Mary Hershey said...

I'm so glad you posted this, Robin-- Donald Maass is such a cool cat. He really is responsible for turning my writing around. That conference we went to of his a few years back was awesome, unforgettable.

I love his message about focusing on quality writing. He is very X-Treme in his presentation which I think is hugely effective in getting a message across. And in helping WAKE US UP! That said, I don't think anyone should throw out their promotional materials and crawl back in their writing hole. I think there is rooM for a little gray here. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for making this point! I left an authors group a while back because everyone mainly talked about desperate sounding marketing schemes and no one talked about craft. I thought, WHAT am I doing here???

I do all the normal promotional stuff, mind you, but bottom line I concentrate on the work. Thanks for the validation.

writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for the plug, Robin! I appreciate your kind comments.