Some people have noted in the comments section of yesterday’s post that with the promise of Vanguard Press’ marketing budget comes a big question: what makes for a great marketing plan?
My favorite book story promotion was when Po Bronson sold shares in his debut novel BOMBARDIERS, which was about stock brokers — it was clever, it was the perfect tie-in and it attracted a great deal of attention.
I think everyone is wondering how books rise above all the noise out there and generate buzz through marketing. What are your favorite marketing plans, tips and tricks?
Simon Haynes says
Give away the ebook version for free.
Depending on the author’s contract, he or she may only give away a limited number of e-books. In my case I’m allowed five. I gave one away in a contest on July 1, and I’ll give another one away at Book Roast.
My publisher will take care of reviewers, but I might find one or two myself here in my local area.
I also plan to have my local newspaper do a story on me. They’ve done it with many local authors, Eve Silver being one of them. With free distribution to 250,000 readers, I’m bound to get a few sales out of that.
Marilynn Byerly says
boWithout wide distribution for your book, most promotion is wasted effort, and distribution is the publisher’s job. With the exception of a contract that includes a promotion budget, bookstore placement, etc., a genre author can do little to improve distribution.
That’s not to say an author shouldn’t have a good promotion plan in place when she is looking for a publisher, and she shouldn’t devote serious time to promotion before and after the book is out. Any nudge to the sales numbers may mean a second book will come out, and most publishers like authors who take that extra effort to promote.
Genre authors with very successful careers write excellent, consistent books that come out on a regular basis, they have backlist in print, and they really work at promotion.
Even Nora Roberts, one of the most successful genre authors in the world, personally works hard at promotion on her own on top of what her publisher does.
Re the fortune cookies: extremely easy and cheap. I had them done for my wedding–Oakland Fortune Cookie Company. They will do all the custom fortune printing for you. Awesome. Cost less than $200 I think. And way fun.
That being said I am a veteran of trade show management and gimmicky giveaways are cool initially but always get trashed later. No one cares about pens or fliers. They toss them. Still, enough companies do them to warrant looking into it.
Happy Birthday Nathan!!! You’re a gift!
Nathan Bransford says
Nathan, it’s your birthday???
Happy Birthday To Our FireCracker Agent!!! Yeah!
Karen Harrington says
As a recent debut author myself (Janeology, Kunati 2008) I’d have to say MySpace has made the biggest difference in my ability to network with other writers. And from those other writers, I learned how to put together an effective website, other blogs on which to write a guest post and how to put together a virtual blog tour. The networking is so key!
A friend of mine had a situation like this come up this week: She submitted a query to a small publisher, and the first response was, “The writing is good, but how do you plan to market the book?” She was a little shocked, to be asked such a question at this early stage of querying.
Is it normal for a publisher to ask this question after just one query? I was always told it was a little presumptuous and rude to offer marketing suggestions at the query stage. Now I’m not so sure.
Nathan Bransford says
I think editors are increasingly expecting that authors are going to bring marketing to bear to support a novel, so no, that doesn’t surprise me at all. In fact, I try and pre-empt that question by either pointing out or implying how an author will be able to attract attention to their work as I’m submitting.
Wanda B. Ontheshelves says
If I had my druthers…and if editors are “increasing expecting” the author to have a marketing strategy of some kind…that agents, when requesting a partial + synopsis, also request a 1-page marketing plan (one little page) – that way there would be a natural place to talk about merchandising and branding (if that happens to be one of your strong points and something you’re really into)…and then you don’t have to embarrass yourself coming out of left field with it…out of the blue…
Marketing has been a big topic between me and my agent even before a deal is struck. And as Nathan says, it’s part of the submission package.
I raved about a new website on my blog the other day. Bookrabbit.com combines a social networking site dedicated to book lovers, and an online book store. I think it’s a great opportunity for authors to interact directly with readers at the point of sale, and I really hope it takes off. It’s only a few months old.
And happy birthday, Nathan!
I like the ebook-for-free strategy myself, for thriller novels.
Does this mean you want a marketing line or paragraph in the query letter?
From anon @ 11:51
Thanks Nathan. Very helpful information about a slightly intimidating topic.
Lynn F.C. says
Seth Greenland, my former UCLA Extension writing instructor, admits he promoted his book sitting in a chair in his underwear in a suit jacket and white shirt. Not only that, he made a video ” to publish online depicting a scene from his new book ”Shining City.”
He started with Backstage.com and advertised for actresses for book video. No problem. Then he needed a pimp and called another one of my writing instructors, Mark Haskell Smith, author of “Delicious” and “Moist,” who was working on his fourth book. He asked him if he had time to spend an afternoon with several beautiful women in a hot tub? Knowing Mark, it was a done deal and according to Seth it did not take him long to commit.
The shoot took 15 hours and editing took several days including adding background music.
Seth admits this is “serious business” if you want to sell your book. “It’s a chaotic new world and if a novelist can’t have a little fun shilling for his own book, then what, finally, is the point.”
So check it out. http://www.sethgreenland.com
Yes! I’ve been sitting here drooling over the idea of doing a soundtrack for my book yet have never heard anyone else talk about it. My book has tons of music intertwined in it, where the lyrics and mood of the song kind of serve as a silent narrator/foreshadowing tool. And of course it has sweet songs.
I was thinking of setting up a website where, if you buy the book, you get a code that you enter at the website and it lets you download the soundtrack for free. I imagine its easier said than done, as I’m sure you’d have to get the permission of all the artists and whatever, but I think it could garner a lot of attention and get people buying the book to get the music (because, as previously mentioned, the songs rock).
Julie Weathers says
Since my book is epic fantasy and I am working on taking sword fighting lessons, perhaps something to do with ren faires and Celtic fests. Offer some support to someone who goes to a lot of these in exchange for promoting the book.
Work the conferences.
Go back and milk my contacts in the Quarter Horse journalism and horse racing industry to promote the book. Make the rounds of the horse magazines with the story.
Mention to some of my old racing fans how much fun it would be to name a racehorse after my book. Then hope the horse wins the All American.
Be a fun person people like to hang around. Word of mouth seems to be as good as anything, if not better.
Be a complete blessing to my agent and editor so they enjoy working with me and my career.
My favorite marketing plan is my favorite marketplace: the small Jersey Shore town where I live. I develop my WIPs in blogs. My friends read along and comment, and the buzz builds through town.
BTW, about soundtracks: My “coming-of-rage” historical WIP contains a list of period music. I’m creating links for the soundtrack.
Patti Auburn says
I’m writing a YA novel about a brother and sister who travel the world (magically) on quests. I think I’d like to have a travelogue website to go with it, so that the readers can further explore their travels.
Southern Writer says
I’m a little behind in my blog reading, and apparently, in wishing Nathan a happy birthday. Happy belated birthday, Nathan! As for great ideas for promoting books, I have just two words: Bella Stander.
My book, 13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY, is set in an oil refinery. My website contains links to fuel-saving resources and car models!
Neil Plakcy says
I don’t think anyone answered the question “What is a blog book tour?”
It’s when you go around to a bunch of different blog sites and offer to write a guest blog for them. It gives them fresh content, and it gives you the chance to reach fans of other writers.
The best outcome is when you find a blog from an author whose fans will like your book, and when you write something specific to that blog.
heather simmons says
I started thinking about marketing before I decided on the actual plot. I love suspense so I write the way I want to see things played out for me. I chose a subject that has 1.) a following 2.) conflict (it may make some angry but they’re interested) and 3.) a title that appeals to the eyes for some reason
I think there are a lot of ways to kind of, (subliminally?) grab a person’s attention without them realizing you’re doing it. Before they know it, they’re enthralled and can’t turn away. It’s a sneaky approach but it works wonders. 🙂