It’s getting to be the season when books are being released in time for gift buying, and I thought you might find something useful in this article I wrote a few years ago.
Other than the deep, time-constrained editing that happens, one of the hardest parts of the writing process comes when you’ve typed THE END on the last page of your manuscript and sent it off for publication. That’s when you face the daunting task of marketing your beautiful baby.
Whether traditionally, indie-, or self-published, the task of marketing falls to all authors. In today’s literary world, even 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 on TV or Facebook in the past few months?) The ultimate goal of marketing is, of course, to garner attention for your story and increase sales.
A fairly easy way to start marketing is togo on a blog tour with as many bloggers as are willing to host you. You write a post or answer some questions, plug your book, respond to readers, and you’re off to the next blog site. It takes some time and internet contacts to get this going, but reclusive authors usually like this kind of marketing. The neat thing is, with the right internet contact, you can easily reach an international audience.
Like James Patterson, authors need to connect with their readers. Actually, they must connect with their readers. 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) public speaking.
For me, and a lot of other authors I know, the prospect of public speaking can be a bit scary. Our normal milieu as we create our stories is solitude in front of a computer or with pen pressed to paper. We’re watchers . . . we observe the behaviors of other people and take copious notes for future story/character ideas. Being the watch-ee (in front of an audience) takes us completely out of our comfort zones.
That’s where a formulaic “stump speech”* can offer a degree of confidence.
The first thing I did when my first novel, DEADLY STAR, was handed off to the publisher was to outline a flexible stump speech. Start with an anecdote, give a brief bio, including why I use a pen name and how I chose it. I thought I would follow up with something about where the idea for the story came from, the research involved, the characters, and I plan to read a couple of short excerpts. Then I print it out in large, bold, double-spaced type and practice it. That helps me with timing the length of my presentation and makes me familiar with the flow so I can wing some of it, ad lib a bit, and actually make occasional eye contact with someone. The more often I speak, the easier it becomes.
Other than participating in panels at conferences, I’ve never had to speak at an out-of-town gathering. If that happens, I’ve read that it’s a good idea stop by the venue and get familiar with the layout. Another trick for newbie speakers is to attend someone else’s presentation if possible…that takes a lot of the mystery out of the event.
Caveat for public speaking: It’s important to really know your work, because the Q&A will bring some surprising questions—always.
A fellow Sisters-in-Crime/Guppy author and TV investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan came up with seven quick steps 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
4. Know your stuff!
5. DON’T worry.
6. Get big.
7. Love it and embrace it.
Now if I could only get steps 5-7 down pat. What step is most difficult for you?
(* “Stump” is another word for “campaign” —like politicians do when they’re trolling for votes. Authors are trolling for sales.)
Be sure to watch Amazon for the soon-to-be-released Christmas charity anthology Hometown Heroes. I am thrilled to have a short story, “Hobbes House Noel,” in it.
"When protagonist Merrill Cowper rents her beloved Hobbes House lake-front cabin to a stranger, she becomes an unlikely hometown heroine when she saves his child from the possibility of a watery death. This would be the year she learns that the best Christmas gifts don’t always arrive wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow. Sometimes they don’t even fit under the Christmas tree."
The anthology, compiled by Bienvenue Press, will benefit the Cajun Navy, that awesome volunteer group, comprised mainly of private boat owners, who assist in search and rescue efforts after hurricane disasters. The organization was formed after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005.
I’ll post the final cover reveal soon and info on when/where to purchase. I hope you’ll help support them as well.
That’s the post for today. Hope you found something interesting. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.
For gifts that keep on giving, pick up copies of DEADLY STAR and CHOOSING CARTER . (A hint in case, like me, you have only two more paydays until Christmas.)
GIVEAWAY CHALLENGE . . .
Let me know you’ve left a new review on any of my work at Goodreads, Amazon, wherever—good, bad, or simply “I read it.”—and I’ll put your name in the raffle hat. The random name I draw on December 6 will receive a nice gift bag of goodies. I’ll post it on my Facebook page, so be sure to stop by.
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