Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why You Ought To Own The Rook

 Or: A Tale of How Not To Market Your Book

I'm giving this marketing thing a try, because the most I ever do to advertise any of my writing is leave a link here or there. That and tell my friends to tell their friends. Not sure how well that's working out, actually (but it is a sound method! just don't let it be your only method).

To get your book, your name, your title, what have you, to get your thing out there, you have to have a certain amount of confidence and aggression about it. Don't be afraid of being annoying. Post in forums if you wanna maintain some anonymity or reach a ton of strangers. It's not a great technique, but who knows? You could snag a couple readers here and there. (I think that's one of the important things. Getting readers where you can. They may come from unexpected sources - trust me, I don't want my grandma to read The Rook but she liked it anyway - but always encourage them.) Everyone else is trolling forums with links and pictures and posts, anyway, so why not add to all the noise?

I mean, everyone knows the basics. Tell your friends. Tell your classmates. Tell your family. Tell your in-laws. Tell your pets. Tell your study buddies, babysitter, children, teachers, bosses, coworkers, underlings, facebook creepers, and twitter followers. Throw yourself and your book out there! You may get criticized for it, and you may get ignored. But you may also get praised and drum up some readership. ...Actually, maybe not the facebook creepers. They probably already know about your book, anyway.

Tell all those aforementioned people to tell their friends and family and coworkers and who knows who else! Six degrees of separation, my skittens. Foist your book upon enough people and it may just sit in J.K. Rowling's library one day. Or Suzanne Collins'. Or Stephen King's. Or Stephanie Meyer's. (By the by, how do you think they got famous? Besides having known names and really kickass agents, I'm guessing. They get their books out there! With help, granted, but who's to say you can't get help, too?)

It also depends on how your book is put forth, too. A book that is only available online would have to be marketed a bit different than a book that you could go down to a bookstore (not borders! /cry) and pick up off the shelf. And yes, it is slightly embarrassing to tell people that no, you can't buy your book at a bookstore. Don't you know what self-publishing is? Only online, grandma. Just have mom buy it for you.

I am far from a marketing, writing, publishing, anything guru. Far from it. But perhaps, that lets me be a little more helpful. I've stumbled through this, just like I bet a lot of you have or will. I'm not making beaucoup bucks off my writing. I'm still doing this not as a career. So I could probably help people with what little I know, right? At the very least, it can be a place to start. So, skitty, where do we start? You start BEFORE the book is done. (Or even written.)

But - wait - why then? I'm still busy writing the damned thing! I don't have time to tell people to buy it when it's not even done yet!

Good points! But it doesn't mean you can't drum up interest and anticipation. If you're using NaNoWriMo as a kickstart to your novel, for example, utilize the forums there! Fill out your author profile and fill in tons about your book. If nothing else, random strangers trolling around the site would be able to see a snippet and/or a quick synopsis. On the internet, you can't really control who can and can't see your public information, so why not just let it be? Throw it out there and get it to as many anons as possible! Link people to your NaNoWriMo profile. I've found that a LOT of people misunderstand what it's actually about, but they can see a summary, an excerpt, and that handy little progress bar. What more do they need? They don't have to understand it to cheerlead for you.

The internet age is a grand one, but it does have its downfalls. Then again, use it, too! Use all the world to your advantage! Facebook and Twitter (or google+, or myspace, or tumblr, or livejournal, whatever your cup of tea is!) are great ways to get your book out to a lot of people with not a whole lot of effort. Sure, you lose the ability to individually tailor your sell to each person, but it's all about snagging a couple readers wherever you can get them. Post links to your facebook profile! Pimp it out in your twitter! Don't ignore these easy marketing ploys. Really. Don't be like me and be embarrassed about your writing; you will get nowhere with that attitude. (And don't be like me and resist posting on facebook because of that one person who you don't want to read your writing.)

Where else do you frequent on the internet? What other big forums that are fairly creativity-friendly do you check in on daily? It doesn't have to be a writing site, although those are generally more sympathetic to your plans. (But remember, they're also out there to promote their own writing too, half the time. Sometimes, it's a good idea to trade - you read mine, I'll read yours - but not for everyone.),, LiveJournal, TvTropes (although be VERY careful in perusing that site. or not. I'll see you in a week.), and even more art-centric sites like deviantArt and tumblr are also pretty easy ways to drum up some interest. Post a link to your book as your 'homepage'. Put links in your journals, profiles, whatever is available and freely available to the public. The internet is a vast series of tubes, and those tubes are full of cats, but they could also be full of your story. Just so long as you don't push out the cats. I like them.

Now, onto non-internet-related ways to market your new book. Friends and family are invaluable here. Personally, my mom has been a huge help. She's been helping to sell books to just about anyone she knows, and she does it with no small amount of massively embarrassing pride. Relatives are also good targets! Remember, they're your kin. Guilt them into it if you have to. But use them! Tell them to recommend it to friends and coworkers.

Want to know a surprising gift from getting relatives to read it? New audiences. My aunt read my book, and she happens to be a teacher. Now it seems like several german classes in Douglas, Wyoming are quite enamored with my book. Use that sort of thing! Teachers, nurses, students, accountants - there are lots of careers these days that connect you to a lot of people. Use that! You don't have to thrust the book in their face, but just a mention. "Oh, my cousin wrote a book... I just got done reading it..." They don't even have to like it to help you, really.

There are perks to where you live, of course. And people you know, or people your close friends and family members know. Don't waste these, either. I come from a pretty unpopulated neck of the woods, and it seems as if my family has been around here since the dark ages. There are two small towns in this state I can't go to without tripping over distant relatives or neighbors. This is a great way to get the word out there, too! Yes, these are miniscule towns that you will never find on any map, probably. But they're people. They're potential readers. And they have friends and family outside that little town, too, I'm betting. It's like a spider web.

Speaking of local politics and how you can work them to your advantage, if you come from a smaller town, use this to your advantage as well! After all, it's not every day they get a brand new author in their midst. Contact the local newspaper, see if you can get an article. Donate a copy or two to the local library. (That's another thing - you may not always make money off of your books. But getting your name out there is just as important. ESPECIALLY if you plan on continuing writing.) If you can get an interview on the local news, all the more power to you! (Note: I did not do any of these things except donations to several libraries. I am shy, and it sucks, especially since a couple of these were offered. Do NOT let your shyness get hold of you! You are amazing and talented and you just wrote a book! Let the world know!)

So now that I've offered some pretty common sense and basic advice, I'll just end Part One here. The second part will mostly be me trying (and failing, most likely! :D) to write a good "sell" for The Rook. Think of it more as an example than anything else. ...Unless, you know, you'd want to buy it. Because that would totally be cool, too.

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