Thursday, January 17, 2008

Marketing Tasks: Six to Seven Months Out

One of the things to keep in mind is that Mary’s marketing and promotional tasks are designed around the fact that it’s her third book. Perhaps you are looking at promotion for your first book, or perhaps you’re prepublished and being smart and looking ahead. (And good for you if you are! As Mary likes to say, create the frame, then step into it. Don’t wait for it to appear.)

So with this being her third book, there are some marketing frameworks she already has in place that you might not, and I’d like to talk about those.

Some of these tasks could even be done a good twelve months out, but for the sake of tidiness, we’re going to stick to a six to seven month schedule like Mary has for her book.

The first thing you should do is discuss with your publisher what their plans are for the book and what, if anything, they are expecting you to do. Always keep your publisher in the loop, whether it’s through their publicity department or your editor.

It’s also important to remember that different publishing companies have different marketing personalities. Some love and encourage author involvement—the more the better, and others prefer to do it themselves with little or no feedback/input from the author. We can’t stress enough how important it is to discover what your publisher’s marketing personality is!

One of the most critical things your publisher will do for you is mail out ARCs. ARCs is an acronym for advanced reading copies, which are sent out to booksellers and reviewers. DO be sure to check with your publisher to see if they do this. Some smaller publishers might not, or may only do limited mailings, and I’ve heard many industry people say that ARCs are one of the most effective marketing tools out there. So if you publisher isn’t doing many arcs or review copies, you might need to step into the void. (We can talk more about how to do that if enough people are interested. If you want to know more, just leave a comment to that effect and we’ll talk about it in an upcoming post.)

Also, most publishers will have a brochure or flyer for new authors spelling out what exactly they do for each release. Much of this info will be in there.

As for what you the author can do, the general consensus is that the single most important marketing tool is an author’s website. So your first mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin researching websites so you can put together your own. This can seem hugely daunting, so here are some thoughts to get you started.

*Surf the web. Explore different websites to see what type of look and feel you prefer, what sort of content catches your eye, which designs you find easiest to navigate. Make a note of the designers, which are usually listed at the very bottom of the home or contact page. This will fall into two categories: visual design and content. Make notes on both.

*Another good reason to start this as early as possible is because good designers are often booked well in advance. You’ll need some lead time to fit into their production schedule. The less money you have to spend on a website, the earlier you should begin your searching and visualizing. Good designers who are also cheap are even rarer than hen’s teeth, so step lively there!

*Spend as much as you can on your website. It is your professional presence, just as an office is the physical presence of a lawyer or doctor or accountant, your web site will often be readers’ first introduction to you, so you want it to be as wonderful as possible.

*Here’s a hot, money saving tip I’ve heard from a few different website designers and one that I used. If finances are an issue (and aren’t they always?) a great way to get a lot of bang for your web-designing buck is to consider a template, specifically, a Wordpress template. Wordpress is blogging software, but it is highly sophisticated blogging software that allows for pages and all sorts of regular website features. This saves you money by having much of the architectural programming in place, so you don’t have to spend as much time and money on coding, but instead can focus on the design and content.

For my Theodosia site, I used this template from Template Monster, and had my designer use the artwork from the book as the design elements, so now it looks like this.

In addition to saving you money on the initial designing stage, it’s VERY easy to go in and update the website yourself—really as simple as posting a blog entry, thus saving you money in updating costs.

If, like Mary, you already have a website, consider an updated look or lots of new content to focus on your upcoming release.

But don't relax yet. There's lots more to do! I’ll be back next week with more tasks to accomplish this month.


Melissa said...

(We can talk more about how to do that if enough people are interested. If you want to know more, just leave a comment to that effect and we’ll talk about it in an upcoming post.)

I'd love to hear more of what you have to say about ARC's!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Me too. Hope we constitute "enough people!"

Anonymous said...

Am I enough? What about those ARCs?

Mary Hershey said...

Robin, the Violets are rallying! More on ARCs in upcoming posts, por favor--


Jennifer J. said...

Hi, Robin and Mary,

I do have a marketing type question, and maybe it is worth a blog post in the future.

What do you do for a paperback launch? I have one coming out very soon. The book has done well in hardcover, and I'm well known in my region, and am getting out and about with school visits, conferences, etc.

Do you think I need to do something special for the paperback launch? All I've done so far is let the local bookstores know that it's coming in softcover, but otherwise, it's just part of what I'm doing already, and since it's not a new book entirely, I am waffling over whether I need to do anything else, besides updating my website, blogging, basically, promo business as usual.

I'll take my reply off the blog-air, if you've got any hints.

Best wishes from your biggest fan,
Jennifer J.
who wants TEN LUCKY THINGS to be out already

R.L. LaFevers said...

The Mighty Violets have Spoken. More information on ARCs coming soon to a blog near you.

And Jennifer, that is a great question! One I need an answer on too because I have a paperback coming out in May. Will do a bit of research and post on this soon!

Jennifer J. said...

Thanks, Robin. I'll look forward to what you find out. Thank you so much for sharing!

Terry P. said...

I'd like to hear more about it too. Mine is a small publisher so I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Anonymous said...

I've a quickie question, too. My July 2006 trade bestseller, Flirting with Forty, is being rereleased this May as a mass market title. I'd love to hear more on how you'd position a book that's coming out in a different version (hardcover to paperback, trade to mass market). I've not heard a lot on this and am definitely trying to come up with a game plan!

R.L. LaFevers said...

Jane, I'm researching this even as we speak. Myself and another Violet both have paperbacks coming out this spring and we're trying to figure this out. I've found out a bit, but not as much as I'd like before I report back. So stay tuned...