Tuesday, December 01, 2009

12 Days of Promo: Day 1 Books Don't sell themselves

Writer's myth #1: Books don't sell themselves.

As a new writer you can feel overwhelmed very quickly. I wonder if I would have even become a writer if I realized how many hats you have to juggle. Writing is hard work. It takes a lot of effort get a book done. A little luck, and after some sweat and sometimes some tears, you have a polished story ready for your adoring public--or so you hope.

The biggest stumbling block is that your public doesn't even know who you are yet. Some writers hope that being put out by the big boys in New York, you won't have to work as hard. In today's economy that just isnt' true. You can be epublished, print published or self-published. It really doesn't matter who you are, or where you are starting out on that ladder, you need to know how to market yourself. Your books are your business. Your name is your brand and you need to think about how raise your royalties if you want to eat. With marketing budgets being slashed left and right, the majority of that responsibility falls on you. The writer.

So what's a struggling writer to do? Well, if you don't want to starve you got to get your name out there. Put yourself on the map and tell people about your book--and I don't mean to spit out the well rehearsed blurb. You got to tell people why they should read your book. Why they even want to crack open the book.

Writing is not usually a lucrative field. Except maybe for the lucky (and hardworking, I might add) authors who make the New York Times bestseller list. The majority of authors I know make under $20,000 a year. On top of that, it's highly competetive. If you don't meet your deadlines, the editor usually has someone ready, willing and able to take your place in line to get their book published.

So what's my advice to those authors dreaming of retiring on the royalties they make from their first book sale? Don't quit your day job just yet.

Publishers expectations are high. They expect you to be well rounded, have an internet presence, and be a marketing machine. You have to blog and network. You need to set yourself apart from all the other writers to choose from. So what's a writer to do? First off, just breathe.

Just like writing, you can't do it all at once. Just remember that it took more than a day to write your book. You need to expect it to take more than a day to market your book as well. I find that by setting aside an hour each day I can use that time to market myself. Or if you find, it easier, make it once a week or something similar, but remember it will take time. You can work on a newsletter, a blog, a graphic design, ordering bookmarks, making contests, setting up live chats, booksignings, or anything you find works.

Most blockbuster bestsellers are not first time booksales. You build an audience with each book and you learn and grow, finding more effective places to market yourself.

Building name recognition is to me the most important thing you can do for your career. It starts by branding yourself. Coming up with a tag line. Some of my favorites are by ebook authors, but there are quite a few used by really big names in the business. What are tag lines you ask? They are short and to the point. People use powerful words in short phrases to get the attention of the readers, editors, and agents. Put simply, tag lines sell books.

Here are some examples but I am sure you can think of some other names:
For Karen Marie Moning's Fever series che uses "Catch the Heat, Feel the Fever!"
For Stephen King's book "The Cell"--"There's a reason cell rhymes with hell."

There are some other things that can help. When writing try not to jump around from genre to genre. Write books that are similar in tone and in the same filed. Sticking to a genre makes it so your readers can come to know what to expect and repetition does not hurt. It can remind people when they see your name, that they meant to buy your book.

What have we learned today?
*Stay organized
*Make a schedule
*Set aside time to market yourself
*Brand is big business

12 Days of Promo--Day 1
12 Days of Promo--Day 2 (coming Dec 2)
12 Days of Promo--Day 3 (coming Dec 3)
12 Days of Promo--Day 4 (coming Dec 4)
12 Days of Promo--Day 5 (coming Dec 5)
12 Days of Promo--Day 6 (coming Dec 6)
12 Days of Promo--Day 7 (coming Dec 7)
12 Days of Promo--Day 8 (coming Dec 8)
12 Days of Promo--Day 9 (coming Dec 9)
12 Days of Promo--Day 10 (coming Dec 10)
12 Days of Promo--Day 11 (coming Dec 11)
12 Days of Promo--Day 12 (coming Dec 12)

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