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Sunday, August 20, 2023

When the marketing begins

cj Sez:   Other than the deep, time-constrained editing that happens, one of the hardest parts of the writing process comes when authors have typed THE END on the last page of the manuscript and sent it off for publication: the task of marketing that beautiful baby.

  Going “on the stump”* for sales will almost certainly include some public speaking. For me, the prospect of public speaking is a bit scary. Writers’ normal milieu as we create our stories is solitude (maybe with some background music or white noise) in front of a computer or with pen pressed to paper. We’re watchers . . . we observe the behaviors of others and take copious notes for future story/character ideas. Being the watch-ees can take us completely out of our comfort zones.

  Whether traditionally, indie-, or self-published, the task of marketing accrues to all authors. In today’s literary world, big-name publishing houses are requiring their equally big-name author-clients to help market their own brand and creations. (Anyone remember seeing James Patterson’s TV ads for something called the MasterClass Online series?) The ultimate goal of marketing is, of course, to garner attention for the author’s work and increase sales.

  Like James Patterson, authors need to connect with their readers. Actually, they must connect with their readers. They need to build a relationship with fans of their work. (I've written on that subject before.) That means authors do readings at book clubs and libraries. They do book signings and media (TV/press/radio) interviews. All of those tasks require (gasp) exiting the safety of the computer chair and getting “out there,” shaking hands and public speaking. That's where a formulaic “stump speech” can offer a degree of confidence.

  The first thing I did when I handed off my first novel to the publisher was to outline a flexible stump speech, and I keep updating it. 

  I start with an anecdote. Then I give a brief bio, including why I use a pen name and how I chose it. I follow up with something about where the idea for the story came from, the research involved, the characters, and I read one or two short excerpts. I flesh out my speech outline with a few comments below the bullet points then print it out in large, bold, double-spaced type and practice it, practice it, practice it. That helps me with timing the length of the presentation and makes me familiar enough with the flow that I don’t have keep my head down to read it word-by-word and line-by-line. I hope to wing most of it, ad lib a bit, and actually make occasional eye contact with someone.

  Caveat for anyone about to do some public speaking: It’s important to really know your work, because the Q&A will bring some surprising questions—always. Authors: If you’re not reading an excerpt, browse through the synopsis for the novel.

  Other than local groups, I’ve never had to speak at an out-of-town gathering other than participating in panels at conferences. But if that invitation should arrive, I’d try to stop by the venue and get familiar with the layout. Another trick is to take advantage of any opportunity to attend someone else’s presentation…that takes a lot of the mystery out of the event.

  A fellow Sisters-in-Crime/Guppy member came up with seven quick points for dealing with the scary thought of having to speak in public (and she’s so good at it, public speaking seems second nature to her): 
1.      Research your audience
2.      Plan
3.      Practice
4.      Know your stuff!
5.      DON’T worry
6.      Get big
7.      Love it and embrace it.

P.S.: * “Stump” is another word for “campaign” —like politicians do when they’re trolling for votes, authors are trolling for sales.

“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent.” —Stephen King

  Writers, if you want to schedule a post on Lyrical Pens for a blog tour, drop me a note. (PG13 work, please.)


  Okay, that's it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you!


  THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are fast-paced, thriller/suspense stories with sassy banter and a smidgen of sweet romance. (Perfect diversions for those quick weekend getaways.)
  The books are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore. Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.

Little note: The Haunted Book Shop has a few signed copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact:  If she happens to be sold out, I have a small stash. Angela Trigg, the awesome owner and a RITA Award-winning author in her own right (writing as Angela Quarles) will be happy to ship you any book(s) by any author of your choice.

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