Writers are an enthusiastic and passionate bunch, but when it comes to marketing, we see more confused faces, blank stares, and resistance than in any other industry. It's easy to be idealistic about writing a book, but when it comes down to it, publishing is a business, and authors who want to sell books need to be on top of marketing. To offer some guidance on the topic, here are the top five mistakes we see authors make in their marketing efforts.
#1 Not Doing Any Marketing at All
The worst thing you can do as an author is nothing. Publishers and bookstores alike are concerned about bottom lines and profit margins. They won’t risk their money on a title with no marketing support. Even if you do manage to get it into bookstores, if you don’t drive people in to buy your book, you may be stuck with hundreds of returns as the books that never sell make their way back to the warehouse (leaving you looking like a dud not worth publishing again). In many cases, you have roughly three months from the date of publication to prove the strength of your title. If it doesn’t move, you can say goodbye bookstore and hello backlist.
#2 Waiting Until They’re Published
Everyone wants a bestseller. Did you know that bestseller status is based on velocity of sales and not on the total amount of sales? That velocity is built largely on preorders from retail stores? Retail stores start making their purchase decisions as many as six months before the date of publication, which means you have to prove you have the followers before you even have a book. You need to start building your author platform now. It takes three months to get traction, six months to see results, and a good year to build up a decent platform. Don’t wait.
#3 Expecting the Publisher to Do It All for Them
Again, publishing is a business. If you go out and start a business, you don't expect the bank who fronts the loan to do marketing for you. Publishers take on titles based on the assumption that you will actively sell your book, and they are expecting you to deliver. Even though this can be frustrating, it’s your career hanging in the balance if the book doesn't sell.
#4 Automating Everything
Too many people—not just authors—think that marketing is automated content. It’s not. I’m all for re-purposing content and streamlining processes, but a constant stream of one-way ads and promotional posts is a cop-out. Today’s market demands engagement. They want direct access to the real you in real time. Don’t set your marketing on cruise control.
#5 Not Making It Professional
Last but not least, too many authors plop a DIY website with no content and a few weak profiles on the Internet and attend one writer’s conference and call that being a professional author. You have to dress for success, and your marketing materials have to be up to snuff. You need to invest in professional websites, vibrant materials, and a professional appearance so you always make a great first impression. Any author with the intention of getting into Barnes & Noble should expect to spend at least $5,000 to $10,000 on marketing.
If you are an aspiring author, I implore you to take heed and put some thought and money into your marketing. To succeed in retail, you need great marketing in addition to a great book. Don’t leave it up to chance!
Shennandoah Diaz is president of Brass Knuckles Media, an uncensored PR & Marketing firm catering to creatives and the avant garde. Passionate about education, Diaz empowers creatives by sharing articles and teaching workshops on marketing, social media, and publishing. Learn more at www.brassknucklesmedia.com or at www.shennandoahdiaz.com.
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It’s that time of year. Time to sign up for gym memberships, to clean out cluttered spaces, and to make grandiose lists of things to-do in the New Year. All joking aside, if you want to make a real go at becoming a published author in 2011 there are a few commitments you need to make.
1. Commit to Read More
If you want to become a published author you need to know what’s selling in your genre. You should be reading the bestsellers plus the others to see what’s getting published and what’s standing out. In addition to reading in your genre you should be reading about the craft of writing and the business of publishing. The more you know the better your chances are of getting published (and not getting screwed).
2. Commit to Learning
No matter how good you are you could always be better. Take a class online or at your local writer’s group. Watch webinars, read, and attend workshops. Set aside at least 30 minutes every day to learn and improve your skill.
3. Commit to Making Friends
Writing is a lonely pursuit. Don’t work in a vacuum. Make friends with other writers and passionate readers. There is so much you can learn from them and the support they give you can help you weather the rejections and bouts of writer’s depression.
4. Commit to Marketing
Publishing is highly competitive. Everything you can do to raise your name above the crowd and get noticed will help you get a book deal and, once the book is published, make sales. Figure out your “brand,” get involved on social media, and start networking with your readers.
5. Commit to Writing
You need to commit to writing and submitting your work several times a week. Build a solid writing practice, line out a schedule you can stick to, and hold yourself accountable. You can’t publish a book without a finished manuscript. You have to put in the work.
6. Commit to Passion
You should write because you love it. Yes its work and yes sometimes its hard, but you have to fuel your passion and drive your creativity to its limits if you want to succeed. Any gains you make mean nothing if you aren’t passionate about what you do.
Shennandoah Diaz is the President of Brass Knuckles Media, an uncensored PR & Marketing firm catering to creatives and the avant garde. Passionate about education, Diaz empowers creatives by sharing articles and teaching workshops on marketing, social media, and publishing. Learn more at www.brassknucklesmedia.com or at www.shennandoahdiaz.com.