Susan Meissner here with the second half of Chip MacGregor's 10 marketing tips. Chip is a literary agent with a background in publishing, editing and writing. You can read his excellent blog here. If you missed last week's post with the first five of these 10 tips, just scroll down the CAN home page here and read that post from last Saturday. Here they are then, tips six through ten.
Sixth, consider an e-zine or FeedBlitz thing will help get your blog known. People will sign up if you offer them a free product of value at no cost -- a short story or a special report or something. It can't just feel like marketing content -- you've got to actually give people something they want. And in doing so, you capture their email addresses. This isn't something you can do overnight... but imagine being able to tell your publisher, "I've got ten thousand devoted readers who have signed up for my e-zine every quarter." That shows you've got a lot of readers. And, of course, when your book releases, you've got to tell all those people about it, and give them some sort of incentive to buy TODAY.
To do this, you've actually got to have something of value to give away. Words, thoughts, or something else. So... what would you give away? I was just reading about a woman doing a novel about Ireland. She asked people to sign up for her e-zine (they had to give their name and email address), and she promised that when her novel released, she was holding a drawing and one lucky winner was going to win a trip to Ireland. She got thousands of subscribers. Let's say a couple hundred of them bought her book when it came out. So she made several hundred dollars in royalties, and a ticket from New York to Dublin is only about $400. Sure, the author had to make the investment, but it didn't end up costing her much, and the word-of-mouth marketing that came from it was great.
Seventh, if you're going to rely on the internet, consider getting some video together to help promote it. When you look at the growth my YouTube and other video clips on the web, you can see the direction advertising on the internet is going. And you may want to at least consider buying web ads on the sites those potential readers visit. Don't assume it's too expensive until you've checked it out. Those are basically cheap space ads, and some of them are seen by more people than the space ads in trade journals. (Again, you probably realize this, but many sites have "pay-for-click" ads, which cost nothing unless an interested reader actually clicks on the ad to read more about your book.)
Eighth, if you're writing non-fiction, or your novel contains material that is related to news in some way, think about creating some articles and posting them. What you're trying to do is to create buzz, of course. You want people to notice your book, to start talking about it. There's a bunch of information available on how to do this -- Randy Ingermanson has talked about it on his site, and you've probably heard the idea before. If you were doing a novel that focused on a child abduction, you'd do a couple articles on child abductions and how to prevent them. You then post those on sites that draw readers interested in that topic. At the end of the article, it mentions you've done a novel. Or maybe in your article you mention some of the resources you used while researching your novel. Either way, you get the word out. And it's free (except for your time).
Ninth, don't assume your publicist has really gotten the word out to book reviewers and radio stations. The publicist may have done that...or she may not have had the time. Make sure to ask, "Who received a copy of my book?" and "Who did you contact about my book?" It's a completely fair question (though you may have to ask several times before you get an answer). Those that didn't get a copy should be sent one right away. (Oh, and be aware that most major book reviews require your manuscript be there about 8 months before publication. It's a long lead time, so if your publisher didn't make advanced reader copies or bound galleys, how are they ever going to review your work?) Getting in touch with radio stations is also important. You may think that's an old-fashioned idea, but it's pervasive, there's always a need to find guests to talk about the topics of the day, and now that there are internet-only radio stations, the market has increased substantially. It's usually a fairly low-ticket item to work with a freelance publicist just to notify stations about your book, so if your publisher isn't cutting it, consider making a call to a good publicist who can help with that.
Tenth (and last), I want to encourage you to "think locally." That is, try to make yourself successful locally. Drive around to all the bookstores in your area. Go in, hand the owner a signed copy of your book, and thank him or her for carrying it. Tell the owner a bit about yourself -- this is a small industry, and making friends with bookstores can only help. Do the same thing with media in your area -- introduce yourself and give them a book. The arts section of your local newspaper may be excited to have a nationally-published writer to interview. Think of angles -- it could be your topic, or it could simply be the "local girl makes good" approach.
I've never been a huge fan of book signings (they tend to sell few books and leave the author deflated), but if you do one locally, invite your friends, your family, and your church so that you get a crowd. Make it an event. And speaking of churches, make sure to hit the bigger churches in your city. Let them know about the book, and how it fits into the Kingdom. Many large churches have newsletters that reach thousands -- an article or an interesting interview (or simply a mention of your book) can garner you some attention with Christian readers. What you're trying to do is to create some success locally. If you can do that (particularly in a major metropolitan area), then you can begin to try and translate that success regionally, and, eventually, nationally. That's exactly what the author of THE SECRET did -- establish some local success, then get regional attention, then hit nationally