Sunday, February 14, 2010

Marketing Stages by Guest Blogger Shelli Johanes-Wells

I wanted to talk about the different stages of marketing as it relates to every writer's career.

There are generally four stages to an author’s career and your marketing focus will change as you move through these stages.

1) Prior to getting an agent/publication
2) Agented/Before deal
3) After deal/Before publication
4) After published

An author’s platform is what they do to connect with their readership. I believe your readers change as you move through the process.

1. Prior to Publication - Target Agents and Writers

The “marketing” should be targeted specifically towards agents as well as building a writers network. Writing a great book and marketing your book to the right agents are the most important things in this phase.

Your audience
  • The essential piece to marketing is to be sure you understand your audience.
  • Be sure you have an awesome book,
  • Do your research. Market your book to the agent that wants it. Look at and to find out who the right people are. Do they have a blog? Are they on twitter? What are they representing?
  • Where does your kind of writers hang out? If you write for children, check out Verla Kay and SCBWI.

Your platform (Note: As far as platform - I see it as identifying what you do special and then making yourself visible. For writers it is how they present themselves and what they are known for. It is finding your niche and presenting it to the world so people remember you. Marketing collateral (web sites, brochures etc) are ways to present that platform to the world)
  • You MUST begin building a web presence. Reserve your web site address. It is essential in this day and time. Most agents will Google authors they like and see what platform they have. Be sure it is professional.
  • At the very least, your web site should be basic and have your book summaries, bio, as well as any contact information. You never know who will visit. What will you name it? What’s your tagline? What is your signature?
  • Build a great bio
  • Create online presence. So, what is the right way for you to become visible? Do you want to start a blog, twitter, Facebook? Do you have any topics that are special to you? Can you begin building a name for yourself?
  • Get business cards that you can hand out to agents or writers. Be sure they are professional. GO to for inexpensive but quality cards.
  • Look for and join organizations that align with you and your platform. For example - for children’s writing - SCBWI and Verla Kay.
  • If you have other niches – like maybe you write historical fiction – look for other places to integrate. Are there any historical fiction or societies that you can join?
  • Slowly start to get your name out there. You never know who you will meet. The more people who know about you or your book – the better.

2. Agented/Before deal – Target Editors

Once you have an agent, the marketing continues. Now it is time to start switching your attention and begin marketing towards the houses/editors as you near going on submission. This does not mean stalking them. It means putting yourself in the places they are.

Your Audience
  • Learn about the houses, the imprints, and their lists. Get their catalogs and read them. Your agent will know all this but it can’t hurt for you to stay connected.
  • Study the editors - what do they buy and what do they like. Publishers Marketplace and Publishers weekly are great resources.
  • Be visible. Go to conferences, meet them, talk to them. You want them to remember your name in case your agent sends your manuscript to them. They will not only buying your book, they will be buying into you. The more you can get them to recognize your name, the better.
  • Attend kitlitchats and yalitchats on twitter. Many editors attend those as well and give you insight into the publishing side.
Your Platform
  • Update your website. Be sure it is professional in case editors go there during the submission process. Tell them about you, your books, the better. Be sure your agents name and contact information is visible.
  • Be sure you are participating on the discussion boards. If you join but are not visible or active sometimes, it is a waste of time.
  • Volunteer to help – give back before you ask for anything.
  • Actively support and promote others in their journey and publication. Maybe someday, they will support you.

Shelli has worked in marketing for almost 20 years and is the founder of her own marketing company, Bilan inc. Since 2000, she has worked with clients including Spanx and Goody Hair Products. Her Market My Words blog is a popular marketing blog for authors. Shelli is a children’s book writer ( currently represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group.

Be sure to check back next week to find out what to do for Stages 3 and 4!


I want to apologize for being so absent lately, and need to thank Mary for bringing such a STELLAR line up of guest bloggers to grace SVP! What a feast of great information and inspiration!

I promise I will be back to blogging more regularly once I get my deadlines met! Miss you all!


Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

Thanks for sharing :)

Tabitha said...

Great post! Thanks Shelli!!

Stina said...

Great Advice! Thanks Shelli and the Shrinking Violets!

Jennifer said...

Wow! So much to do. Thanks, Shelli for the advice. It's nice to have it all laid out for you. Now off to work!

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

awesome post! I've never even thought to break it down like that. is another good site for business cards! Oh and I am a HUGE scbwi and verla kay fan!

Paul Greci said...

Thanks for providing such a clear road map!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

GREAT post, Shelli! Thank you!!!

Nancy Ancowitz said...

What a stellar line-up of great tips and insights about getting published! I'm often asked how I got an agent and a deal with a publishing house. While I'm always happy to tell my story, I'm delighted that now I can also refer people to Shelli's guest blog post for this well organized lowdown.

David F. Weisman said...

Great ideas here. I have a blog but still need to start twittering.