Life After Publishing: Visualizing Your Marketing Needs
Writing a book has become so much more than simply writing that book. There are many steps along the path to getting the book written and published, but even after the book is in print the work is far from being done. That book you have labored so hard over, spent all that time pouring yourself into, will not start to sell itself. There is a long, challenging road ahead for authors once they get a book into the publication stage, and some of that work can start right now, even if you haven’t finished or sold a book.
Steps to take even if you haven’t written or published that first novel
- Get a website or blog active and keep it up-to-date with writing related information – Few things are more effective in the long-term than a dedicated location online where a consumer can go to learn more about you, discover your brand, and see what you’ve written and the things in the pipeline for the future. Don’t count on social media or Amazon to be the first place a reader will go to find information about you. Besides, a website or blog allows you to tailor the content your audience will see when they visit. Just be sure to keep things current – nothing is worse than looking into an author to find that their upcoming events page is a year out-of-date or that the last upcoming book listed has been out for a while. If you need help starting your new blog, you can refer to this article by J.K. Allen.
- Start building a list for a newsletter – If you are unpublished this might seem like a strange thing to do, but it will accomplish two things: allow you to grow an audience that might drive your book’s sales and allow you to interact with a portion of your audience. Nothing book related to share? No problem! Your approach could range from sharing what you’ve been reading (after all, if they subscribe to a reader’s newsletter they probably like reading books in your genre) to sharing behind-the-scenes looks into what your typical day as an author looks like. Give them exclusive samples. Have fun letting them get to know you and they’ll be likely to stick around. Heidi Angell offers a great series on building your newsletter to guide you.
- Find groups of authors who write in your genre and network – This is an important step because not only are they likely to be your biggest cheerleaders when you have a book come out, but they are also a source of information. Learn what they have tried and haven’t tried and how those things turned out. While things that fail for one author might succeed for another, you can always learn from their experiences and adapt those lessons to your own campaign as an author. The other authors in your genre might be competing for the same audience as you, but that doesn’t make them your rivals. Make lasting friendships with authors out there treading the same path as you. Even when no one else will understand your struggles, these authors will!
Steps to take if you have at least one published title
- Contact local libraries and bookstores – This is an important step because your biggest market, at least early in your career, should be close to home. There are bound to be a handful of bookstores, both small and large, within a reasonable travel distance from your home. And there should be a ton of libraries. Emails suffice in this modern era, although a face-to-face visit to promote the idea of them carrying your book might bring about greater success. With libraries you aren’t likely to gain much in the way of immediate sales – they will at best take a single copy of your book to have available for checkout – but this is a way to reach local readers and get them hooked enough to want to buy their own copy or eagerly await the next release. Larger bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, are likely to be difficult to break into but, if you can get your book on their shelves, this is the place most likely to sell copies. Many indie bookstores love to stock local authors, although sales rates might vary. But these shelves are where you want to get your book, and this takes time.
- Find reviewers to rate and write about your book – I have written about this at length in the past few months, covering how to network with book bloggers and how to write a review request. So I won’t go into a lot of details here, as there are two quality resources to read there. However, I will emphasize that you get out of the relationship what effort you put in with book bloggers. And that goes beyond just looking to see who you can submit requests to.
- Find local events or create your own event opportunities – Local convention coming to town? Many of them are willing to rent a table to authors, allowing you to not only market yourself in a face-to-face situation but to also generate immediate sales. I’ve had great success with a local event, which was primarily focused on comic book writers and artists. For a free event, I more than made back what I invested in time and effort to prepare for the event. Many of those local, indie bookstores will also be willing to consider hosting author signings, readings, and other ideas to generate traffic. Just be sure that you aren’t relying solely upon them to spread the word and generate excitement for the event. If you can secure a good turnout, word will spread and you might get offers for other events or invited back to do another event at the same location.
David Wiley is an author of science fiction and fantasy stories, choosing to write the stories that he would love to read. His first fantasy novella, A Merchant in Oria, was published by OWS Ink, LLC. and is available now. His first novel, Monster Huntress, will be coming in 2018.
His short fiction has previously been published in Sci Phi Journal, OWS Ink, Mystic Signals and King Arthur anthologies by Uffda Press and 18th Wall Productions. David resides in central Iowa with his wife and their cats and spends his time reading, writing, and playing board games.
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