Marketing Tips for Aspiring Writers

Marketing a book and book tour can be very costly, especially if you are a new writer and unaccustomed to balancing needs with what needs to be done to effectively market a new book. There are several ways to market a book including getting a publicist, ordering marketing materials, and promoting the book via print or electronic media. Trying to decide what needs to be done from a marketing perspective can be challenging without the proper time to think about the budget, and what the end result of marketing the book and creating media buzz for a new product.

The ink is dry on the page after the last word has been typed, the book has been edited by a professional editor, and it is now at the publisher going through the final phase of the technical process to take your words and format in a trade back published book. This is the opportune time to critically think about how much money you are willing to sink into your published effort. Will it be a smaller effort where you place ads in a local newspaper? Are you trying to reach a specific audience and age market? Do you want to simply create a need for your book by creating an internet presence? These are questions that may ramble through your quiet writer’s mind as your book is being completed. Sit down and jot down the pros and cons of each situation. Whether or not, you have a contract with an independent publisher, small printing press, or traditional publisher you are responsible for marketing your book. Just finishing the book is not the end of the process.

There ways to market your book in different ways. The costs attached to creating a website can run between $100 and $500. Finding a good website designer is the key to having a user friendly website. Take a good look at other author websites and see what you want included in yours. Many authors focus on having a section about their book, their biographical information, excerpts from their work, and a guest book where website visitors can leave a note of praise or comment about the website. For many authors, the basic marketing tool is a business card, with the author’s name, book title, ISBN number, toll free or local telephone contact number, website (optional), and ways to get the book. The ways to get the book may be the publishers number, or a website where the book can be purchased. The cheapest online business or promotional site many beginning authors use is www.vistaprint.com where the card can be designed and purchased for under $10.00. Flyers with the book title and information can be designed on a home computer; all that is needed is a text for the book flyer, color paper, and a good printer. Costs should be minimal. If you are not comfortable with designing your own flyer, contact your local printer or go to a Kinko’s or Office Depot to have them design it. If you take your work to a local printer, you should have a hard copy of the work you want completed, or design the work on a computer, put on a floppy disk and format to that local printer’s specifications. Calling the printer first will save you in terms of loss of time and getting it right the first time. Having basic author tools of a business card, flyer, and excerpt from the book will help in creating a press kit.

A press kit is the author’s tool to promote their work. Within a press kit, you should have a press release letter that states information about the book, a copy of the book, a flyer about the book, and any previous press materials (if your book was highlighted on a website, any articles written by you or published letters about your book) and place all materials inside a double-sided folder that has a slot for business cards. You take the press kit and give it to selected book stores or other places where you feel you would benefit most by trying to create a buzz for your work. Most author’s use their press kit with bookstores, newspapers, or literary websites to get possible exposure. With your press kit, you select the bookstores, book clubs or other organizations you want to use to help promote your new work. This can be done while your book is being finalized in the last stages of printing.

Creating buzz before you book is released is a smart thing because once you start promoting it, people will want to know when it’s going to be release, where they can get it, and who you are. Once your book is finished you will need to start doing promotional events like attending book fairs, conferences, booksignings, and other industry affairs. This is much easier when you already have pre-printed cards to hand out to other authors, fans, and industry professionals. Without these basic tools it can be very hard for people to know about you or your new book. You must also write in the marketing budget the costs associated with all the events you plan on attending or hosting. Costs can range from very little to a lot, especially when attending literary fairs or events. Within your budget should be travel costs (transportation/food/housing) and marketing materials. A good way to streamline costs may be to do a lot of things with other authors. As you go along in your career you will meet other like-minded individuals and on a case-by-case scenario you may be able to split costs on tables or booths at literary fairs. Network with reputable authors and find out who’s a good candidate to help split costs with.

If you don’t want to do a press kit or get bogged down all the details of a creating a marketing plan, hiring a good publicist can help you achieve the same goals. Network with other authors to find a suitable person to fit your needs. Before you call a publicist, make sure you have in mind the kind of services you want them to do for you. Do you need just a press release created and sent in a mail campaign? Do you need a book tour created for you? Do you want them to get you into certain book stores? Have a list pre-prepared when you speak with the publicist. Try to talk with other authors who have publicists to find out the costs of maintaining a publicist.

One of the easiest ways to promote your work, can be to begin writing articles and being highlighted on literary websites. This helps you build an audience or add to your current fan base. The more articles you write, with different literary organizations, can really help you expose your work to a new market for your work. Contacting the literary organization, find out about the submission process, submit the appropriate material, and then hopefully you will begin promoting yourself as a published writer with those websites. Most literary or publishing websites have a need for content for their sites. Choose a specific site that goes along with the theme of your book or your work to ensure mutual interest. If your book that centers around a African-America female character, then perhaps a website geared towards African-American Women may be interested in an article for that audience. Check the sites for specific submission requirements and submit that article. Once it is published, save your published work and also email your fans with the highlight.

A free way to promote your work on the internet is creating an online group where you can post information about the book and any updates on author events. Most authors set up groups on Yahoo or other internet service providers.

Local newspapers can be a source of promotion with very little cost. Check with the newspapers on their fees. There are ways to get published in them if you check out any community newspapers that need content. Major newspapers will run higher costs. You might want to review their market and see if your book hits that market as well.

Researching book clubs in your area can be a source that can help you promote your book. However, you want to check with them before their reading season starts. Book clubs mostly sometimes have certain books selected before the reading season starts so once your book is available, you should definitely contact local book clubs, send out a press kit and see if they would be interested in your work.

The public library is another free source for authors. Many libraries have specific literary programs so once the book is done, make sure to take a copy to the local library, and have them add to their catalogue. It is free and once you publish the fact that it is available at the library you create buzz for it. At the library ask if they would be interested in you hosting an author event about your book or about the publishing process. You can speak to interested writers and introduce your work to them at the same time.

Authors are constantly challenging themselves to get into different ways to promote their work, including promotions on radio shows. Traditionally a hard market to get into, the past years have opened an internet market for places to have your work exposed to an internet audience. Authorsfirst.com has a show called, “Authors First”. Basically you send your press kit to the website with a minimal fee, and they will give you a show date. You call from a land line (home) and get interviewed over the phone. A good way to hype up your product if you do get a radio interview is to invite a few friends over to the house and have an informal “listening” party. So as you get interviewed, others in your circle will also know that you have done something wonderful, with your work! There are several other shows, just google “online internet author shows” and you should get a couple of them.

Whatever measures you take to promote your work, just keep everything you do, including copies of articles written, highlights in newspapers, fans letters, praise from reviewers, and any other physical things to add to your press kit.

Writing a new book can be an awesome task and without the proper promotion, it will just be a couple of poems, or stories, that you wrote and did nothing with. Don’t just stop at the publisher and hand out copies of the book to family and friends, but create a buzz so everyone knows the achievement you have completed. Not everyone has in themselves to be a writer, and not everyone will publish a book. Once you publish your book, let the world know about it! Creating a good marketing plan and budget is a great start to a long successful career as a writer.

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