While I was striving for years to sell a novel, I naively believed that if I ever accomplished that goal, my writing career would be set.
I had no idea how incorrect my thinking was.
Once I finally sold my first novel (although it was not the first one I wrote—those were practice), I discovered I needed to work extra hard for quite some time to promote it. Below are some things I’ve learned, although everyone’s experiences won’t necessarily be the same.
Getting your name out there is particularly important. Coke and Nike and Wal*Mart don’t seem to need advertisement for people to know of their products, yet those powerhouses continue to promote to keep their brands in front of buyers. We authors do the same when we join online groups and contribute to their conversations. Attending conferences, volunteering at them, and giving talks on panels or individually can help. We get to meet people there and learn more about our craft. We also can get to know authors who might help by giving us author quotes for our books or recommending us to their agents.
Some authors spend much more than their advances on giveaways, although many doubt the worth of those items. The two items I like are postcards and bookmarks. I’ve left stacks of bookmarks in libraries and bookstores and given them to anyone I speak to about my books. I’ve dropped them in envelopes with bills and set some down in stores after asking to make sure they won’t just be thrown away. Some writers’ conferences request bookmarks to be placed in goody bags for all attendees, who are also readers. I send them.
I purchase fewer postcards than bookmarks and mail them to everyone I know, including former classmates, for the first book signing of each book. They are also great to send to independent bookstores to let owners know about your newest novel.
The best way to market your book, almost all editors and agents say, is by word of mouth. Write a great book, and get everyone who reads it to convince many others to buy it.
Another word-of-mouth method I use is this: When I call a company for advice on how to use a product I’ve bought or to ask a question about billing or such, the person on the phone always answers me and then asks, “Can I help you with anything else?”
“How good are you at editing?”
“Excuse me,” most will respond, and then I’ll tell them I’m working on my latest novel and sure could use some help editing.
Almost everyone wants to know what kind of novel I write and what are the titles of my books. I suggest that they check my Web site, www.juneshaw.com. All of these strangers sound excited and tell me they will.
The challenge with marketing your book is balancing it with time to write your next one. I’m most creative soon after I wake up, so that’s when I normally write. My mind is duller early in the afternoon and late in the evening, so I spend more time with online groups then.
Since everyone’s situation is different, you need to find what works best for you. I wish you all the best. June
June Shaw’s humorous mysteries RELATIVE DANGER and KILLER COUSINS have received excellent reviews. While promoting them, she is hard at work on their sequel, DEADLY REUNION.