Desiree Zamorano was the featured reader.
Paddy Hirsch and Monica Holloway
The Mystery of Marketing:
Solving the Puzzle of How Best to Promote Your Book
By Laura Brennan
Paddy Hirsch, NPR producer and fiction and non-fiction author, and Monica Holloway, memoirist, report back from the wilds of book marketing. Both are traditionally published, and the sobering news they shared was that, unless you’re already a big name (as an author or as a celebrity), traditional publishers are not going to put a lot of muscle into your marketing. As with indie authors, getting the word out is up to you.
So how do you make your book discoverable?
First of all, understand that marketing is time consuming and can take away from your writing time. If you don’t want to do it, there are publicists (both national and local) you can hire for anywhere from three to six months prior to your book launch to help with the process. They are expensive, and there is no guarantee of success. But sometimes the best marketing you can do is write another book. Unlike writing, outreach can be outsourced.
Start early, as much as a year before your book launches. Paddy and Monica highly recommend reading Jane Friedman’s book, “The Business of Being a Writer.” Build a website, get an author Facebook page, and experiment on other social media such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. What you want is to find out which platforms you enjoy and which you hate. Focus your attention on the ones that you will do regularly and discard the others. The idea is to connect with readers where they hang out online — but you have to be willing to hang out there as well.
Remember that unless you’re gunning for the NYT Bestseller List, you don’t have to pop on the first day. Keep going with your outreach to sell books over the long haul. It used to be that publishers themselves were the tastemakers, but now anyone with followers is an influencer. You can reach them as well, or better, than a publisher’s in-house publicity department. Make a personal connection: why do you think they (and their audience) would want to read your book? Marketing is about finding those people that your book — and your own personal story — will resonate with.
It’s not just about making virtual connections. Get yourself, your story (why you wrote this book at this moment, which is often as compelling as the book itself) into the world. Connect with your community by reaching out to local groups interested in your topic. Offer to give a talk and let it be known on your website that you are available as a keynote speaker. While this may seem obvious for nonfiction books, it can also work for fiction; many mystery novels are about deeper issues than whodunit. Go to book fairs and make yourself available to local book clubs. To reach book clubs around the country, make an offer on your website to send a free copy of your book to the club for them to check out to see if it’s a good fit, and then offer to Skype into the meeting.
In the end, whether you do it yourself, with your in-house publicity department, or with your own hired gun, marketing your book is about connecting with the readers who will resonate with your story. It’s a long process, but it is full of lovely people who will become fans, open unexpected doors for you, and buy your next book, and the next.