An oriental man pushing a shopping cart full of books hailed me in the parking lot of a hardware store. “I…” His forehead creased with concentration. “Booook…” He smiled and pressed a hand to his chest. “Writer.”
I nodded but edged toward my car.
He flashed a bright smile and waved one of his paperbacks in my face. “You…want…buuuk?”
He placed the paperback in my hands. The cover wasn’t bad, I remember thinking, but he could barely speak English. Unless he’d hired a translater, I could imagine what the content might be like.
He’d undoubtedly taken my silence for consent. I shook my head and thrust his offering at him. “I don’t want the book.” I added a polite “thank you,” but he’d already turned away and was scanning the parking lot for his next customer, no doubt.
Sometimes I feel like that man.
Virtually speaking, I’ve been out there pushing my shopping cart from customer to customer, trying to convince people to buy my book. It’s easy to forget there’s a better way.
Marketing Your Book a Better WayFor one thing, I should remember to ask for help. When it comes to marketing a book, it takes a village. I have never felt more needy than when my first book released. You’d think the opposite would be true, since I now had something to offer. I wish it worked like that. Launching a book is a lot like childbirth, to cite an overused analogy.
A woman who has just given birth usually won’t be running a marathon any time soon. She needs support and care. One of the best things I’ve done is put together a private launch team of friends, writing colleagues, and fans. I found out how important that can be when Wayfarer, book two in my Tales of Faeraven epic fantasy series, released while I was flat on my back while deathly ill. My team stepped in for me when I needed them.
Launch team members should be people willing to help without expecting a return because they believe in you as a writer and in your books. That’s as it should be, but I try to treat them well and ensure that the favors go both ways.
Trying to push my shopping cart all over the place, pursuing strangers after stranger, will just wear me out. Besides, it doesn’t work well at all. People buy from those they know, like, and trust. This is why developing relationships with readers is important. That’s been said before, and by many voices, because it’s so true.
Every new book gives an author more traction but another mouth to feed, in terms of marketing time and energy. Out of self-defense, you have to figure out what works and what doesn’t. That’s difficult for a writer because so often what we do can be immeasurable.
Engaging on social media and chatting in forums with the hope of interesting readers are two examples of immeasurable efforts. I might tell myself I’m ‘getting my name out there,’ but marketing experts tend to be skeptical about these types of activities. That’s a hard-line approach I’m not sure I can adopt, but I do limit the time I give to efforts with results I can’t measure.
One of the best things I’ve done is develop systems and schedules to keep my social media updates, content creation, and marketing efforts straight. I’m blessed with an analytical nature, but it’s taken a while to get my mind around this. I’m considering share my systems here at Live Write Breathe. If that’s of interest, please let me know in the comments.
Did I mention that having the help of others is vital when launching a book? :o) Just checking. This point bears repeating. My launch of DawnSinger, the first novel in Tales of Faeraven, was successful because a number of people I helped along the way pitched in for me in return. That’s the way social networking works. Wherever you are in your writing journey, it’s never too soon or too late to give your help to someone else. But you can’t give to get. People can smell a selfish motive, and it stinks.
The best marketing advice I can give you is to be sincere in all you do. That oriental fellow pushing his shopping card around the hardware store parking lot at least had that going for him. In his favor, too, were a passion for and belief in his books and dogged perseverance. These are the elements that can drive sales, but they aren’t enough alone.
Marketing Your Book: What Works
- I know now that any pinnacle I reach will be because many hands carried me there. That’s humbling but so beautiful. Putting together a launch team and treating them well has made the difference in my book launches.
- People buy from those they know, like, and trust. Trying to sell to readers who have never heard of you usually doesn’t work very well.
- I’ve learned to guard my time and avoid or limit immeasurable marketing efforts. I’m an artist and a friend, but I’m also in business. I can’t let myself lose sight of that fact.
- Systems and schedules to help organize social networking, content creation, and marketing are a necessity to help leverage my time.
- Energy for marketing comes from my passion for my books, belief in my writing, and perseverance in marketing them.
What do you think of my points? Do you have any other thoughts to share on this topic?