Marketing a Book (or any Creative Work)

You as a Brand

If you are a writer or artist of any kind, you are a brand. I tell my stu­dents, every per­son is a brand: you become asso­ci­at­ed with a prod­uct or ser­vice. Your rep­u­ta­tion for integri­ty and qual­i­ty will pro­ceed you. I could write a long essay on the val­ue of being hon­est, hard­work­ing, and so on.

Writers rely on build­ing a fol­low­ing, usu­al­ly based on con­sis­tent­ly good works. But, even that’s not enough. You also have to get peo­ple inter­est­ed enough that they will read or see your works. Marketing mat­ters.

One of the mis­takes authors and artists make is assum­ing that a pub­lish­er, pro­duc­er, agent, or some­one else will deal with mar­ket­ing and pro­mot­ing the work — and your career. You might tell your­self, “My suc­cess is their suc­cess.” Unfortunately, you’re like­ly one of many. Yes, you might be viewed as a com­mod­i­ty by the peo­ple you expect to mar­ket you.

Agents, pub­lish­ers, pub­lish­ers… they do love you while your career is hot. Become the next big thing, and every­one will be more than hap­py to work to pro­mote you. This is not because every­one is greedy or self­ish; it is more com­plex. Since these peo­ple rep­re­sent dozens, hun­dreds, or thou­sands of artists, they have to invest their ener­gy (and mon­ey) wise­ly.

An author recent­ly told me that he didn’t want to be the one pro­mot­ing his works. It felt like pride or con­ceit to be claim­ing peo­ple should buy his book. As an artist, you cre­at­ed your work for an audi­ence, though we some­times tell our­selves dif­fer­ent­ly. You must reach out to that poten­tial audi­ence, some­how.

The Marketing Steps

Step 1: Ask Permission

Be hon­est with your agent or oth­ers involved in pro­mot­ing your work. Ask if you can do some of the leg­work to pro­mote your­self and your work. Keep things pos­i­tive, explain­ing that you under­stand your work is one of many and you sim­ply want to help.

Step 2: Review Existing Plans

You should know what has been or will be done to pro­mote your work. Compare any exist­ing plan to the remain­der of this quick and sim­ple mar­ket­ing guide. Only do those things that won’t under­cut the efforts of mar­ket­ing experts. Just as you should let an edi­tor do what an edi­tor does best, let the mar­ket­ing pro do his or her job. But… you might need to help fill in some gaps.

Step 3: Web Presence!

If you don’t have an “offi­cial” web­site and/or Facebook page, cre­ate those. (If you need help, we are avail­able to guide you.) If your works are avail­able on Amazon, also cre­ate an Amazon “Author’s Page” and link that to your oth­er Web pres­ences.

Have your online sites com­plete and ready before mov­ing to the next steps. You should include links to your web­site and Facebook page with­in your email sig­na­ture, on busi­ness cards, and in any mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als.

Step 4: Create a Media List

Create a list of the local media. Starting local is much eas­i­er than try­ing to con­tact nation­al media. Start with local news­pa­pers and broad­cast media. Once you iden­ti­fy those orga­ni­za­tions, iden­ti­fy par­tic­u­lar colum­nists, reporters, and show hosts with a his­to­ry of cov­er­ing authors and artists. Sending press releas­es, mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als, and review copies of a work to “Editor” or “Manager” is inef­fec­tive. You need spe­cif­ic names. You also need to know enough that you can con­nect your work to oth­ers the media per­son­al­i­ty has men­tioned.

Step 5: Write a Template Letter

Personal let­ters work bet­ter than press releas­es. Compose a tem­plate let­ter that can be cus­tomized to each media per­son­al­i­ty you hope to reach. The tem­plate will be the “body” of the let­ter, and then you will write cus­tom open­ings and clos­ings for each recip­i­ent. Today, most peo­ple will send an email. Still, use the tem­plate approach instead of send­ing “off-the-cuff” let­ters to strangers.

Step 6: Customize the Template

Your cus­tomized let­ters should begin with a men­tion of some the media per­son­al­i­ty has done that enjoyed and that con­nects to the work you are pro­mot­ing. For exam­ple:

Your inter­view with Beverly Smith, author of Knights of Nowhere, was a great intro­duc­tion to a mas­ter of young adult fan­ta­sy. As a fan­ta­sy author, I appre­ci­at­ed your respect for the genre. My new work, Middling Squire No Longer, was recent­ly men­tioned by Smith on her web­site.

End the let­ter with a sim­i­lar con­nec­tion to the per­son­al­i­ty.

Step 7: Contact… and Follow-Up

After you are sat­is­fied with your tem­plate let­ter and the cus­tomized ver­sions, start send­ing them. Send only two or three at a time, instead of send­ing every let­ter at once. Keep a week or two inter­val between the mail­ings, until you have con­tact­ed every media out­let on your list.

Two weeks after each mail­ing (or email­ing), send one fol­low-up note to each per­son­al­i­ty con­tact­ed. Do not con­tact any­one a third or fourth time, unless you are asked to do so.

Step 8: Local Organizations

As you con­tact local media out­lets, also begin com­pil­ing a list of local orga­ni­za­tions with a his­to­ry of hav­ing guest speak­ers. As a writer or artist, libraries and muse­ums are cer­tain to be on this list. Search online for oth­er orga­ni­za­tions, too. Sadly, many peo­ple have for­got­ten local ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions are still active: Lions Clubs, Rotary, Soroptimists, and oth­ers. (Maybe you should join some groups, too.)

Additional Suggestions

Never say “No” to an inter­view or pub­lic appear­ance, no mat­ter how small the group or media out­let. Remember, you need an audi­ence — read­ers, view­ers, lis­ten­ers, et cetera. They have plen­ty of choic­es. Be acces­si­ble and it will be reward­ed over time.

Help oth­er writ­ers and artists with kind words — and online links. On your web­site, Facebook page, and else­where, be sure to sup­port oth­er writ­ers and artists.

Participate in any “niche” orga­ni­za­tions relat­ed to your works. If you write romance, join the Romance Writers of America. If you are a play­wright, join the Dramatists Guild of America. Connecting to col­leagues builds a net­work that will help your career. Do not mere­ly join groups, either — be an active mem­ber.

Be patient. Marketing takes time.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Facebook Comments

Author: Tameri

Tameri Publications provides freelance writing and editing services.