Thursday, February 28, 2008

Marketing Tasks: Five to Six Months Out - Putting Your Words to Work For You

We haven’t talked about our marketing calendar countdown in a bit and I can feel that clock ticking. There are a few other marketing strategies to consider employing, but they need to be addressed a good five to six months out, so I want to talk about them before too much time gets by. Especially since this marketing angle is particularly well suited to introverts: magazine articles.

Magazine articles based on some element or angle from your book can be a fabulous way to generate interest in the topic and get the word out about your book to a very specifically targeted audience. But since most magazines, especially print magazines, have a huge lead time, time is of the essence.

For example, for Mary’s book, THE ONE ABOUT A KID, she could have written an article highlighting the Challenged Athletes Foundation and pitched that to any one of a number of children’s magazines or even with that particular topic, mainstream women’s or consumer magazines. With Donna Gephart’s book, if she’d wanted to she could have written a short non-fiction article explaining the election cycle process for a kid’s magazine, which would have been a great way to get her name and book title out there in front of the reading public. It has the added benefit of requiring no face-to-face time, and usually has a high built in interest factor for you since you were passionate enough about the subject to write a book on it. Plus chances are you’ve already done most of the research.

When WEREWOLF RISING came out, I had always meant to do this but got swamped with other things at the time. I could easily have written a couple of articles using my research material. Maybe one on the social structure of wolf packs or the origin of the myths of werewolves.

This doesn’t work with all books or all subject matters. Some clearly lend themselves better to these sorts of articles. For example, I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think of a magazine angle for TEN LUCKY THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME. The only things I could come up with were a short article on the effects and chances of truly being hit by lightening—which might be interesting for kids but Mary’s book doesn’t really deal all that much with the topic. Or perhaps, since her book is about friendship and she has great credentials due to being a coach and her prior vocational experience, an article about the ins and outs and dynamics of friendships and how to navigate that. Social tips for girls who aren’t particularly skilled or experienced in navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of friendship. That sort of thing.

Sometimes, especially with certain subjects (wolves, Egyptology, psychological issues) well-established print magazines might prefer someone with serious subject credentials. However, the good news is that there are hundreds of e-zines on the web and they are always looking for material. Plus, if they deal with a subject you touch on in your novel, you are targeting an audience with a built in interest factor. Depending on the age and readership of the magazine, these articles can run from the very short (250 words) to full length (2,000 words.) The other good news is that having an upcoming book release does give you some writing credentials when approaching the magazine.

So go forth and do what you do best: write!

Until next week!


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I so appreciate these tips. Promotional advice is often very intimidating: you-must-do-this-and-do-it-this-way-or-your-book-shall-perish! When really, the questions are: how much are you willing to sow for what you will reap? What's most important to you, and what's realistic for you?

Terry P. said...

Sound advice, Robin, and timely too. I wrote an article related to my upcoming book last month and started subbing it to a bunch of regional parenting magazines. My only problem has been that many of the regional magazines won't take work from writers outside of their region. Just a heads-up for anyone thinking about going for than magazine angle.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Yep, liquidambar, that's pretty much our approach here at SVP. "What's most important to you, and what's realistic for you?" Feels much more sane...

And excellent point about the regional publications, Terry. I'd always wondered if there were any restrictions like that, and now you've done the research for us! Thanks!

Mary Hershey said...

Cool, Robin- I hadn't really ever thought about magazine possibilities as a publicity tool vs. just writing income. I could probably do an article on sibiling rivalry, at least a cautionary tale-- "What Happens When Sisters Go Bad." ~(:-])

Thanks for enlightening us all!

Mary Hershey

Barbara Shoup said...

Googling mindlessly, feeling like a slacker because I've been avoiding what I promised to do to promote my new book, I happened upon "Shrinking Violet." Thank you, cosmos! I love you guys! I am not alone!

R.L. LaFevers said...

Barbara, we're so glad you found us! And you are most definitely not alone! Please do come back for more inspiration, validation, and commiseration whenever the need strikes!

Barbara Shoup said...

Thanks! I'm THERE!