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Marketing Platform - What's Working for You and Your Book?
Jennifer S Wilkov
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 12:39 PM
Joined: 8/7/2011
Posts: 7

As a writer, you've got to do more than just write a great book. You have develop, design and execute a great platform for marketing your book (online and offline).

Agents and publishers are getting more and more sensitive to whether a writer has a platform - or not. Some are reticent to take on a writer who doesn't have one, no matter how great the book and writing are.

What are the top 3 strategies in your book marketing platform?

How do you intend to build and expand the following for your book?

Agents and publishers want to know. Discuss.

Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Saturday, July 7, 2012 11:10 AM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 195

Kris Rusch has had a couple of really good blog posts lately on building a writing career:

The most important strategy in marketing your writing is...writing more.  Yeah.  Writing more.  More books, more stories in anthologies, more articles in nonfiction outlets.  Because no matter how much you promote your first book, no matter how great your platform,  it's just one book.  One book   And to really get name recognition as a writer (not as whatever else you are), you need more than one book.  You need book after book after book. 

Why?  Because people may read your one book...and go looking for another....and if it's not there--or coming soon--they'll forget your name as they read someone else's book (and next book, and book after that.)    If readers like your first book, they want another dose--and they want it now (or at least, word that it's coming soon.)   Though a good website and blog can help promote you,  if you don't have another book coming out, people lose interest.

So the most important thing you can do to promote your first book is get your second book, and the third, and the fourth...etc...published.  As a fiction writer, your platform is your books.   Sure, people may be interested in a book by a Navy Seal,  an astronaut, an Olympic star, a celebrity of any type....but that's one book, and just long enough to pick it up and look at it (which is important--that gets a few pages read.)  But people read books for content, so no matter how fascinating your life might be, if your book doesn't hold 'em, they'll walk away. 

Since most first books don't earn out (and since publishers know this, don't get a great advance),  what publishers and agents really want to know is "Can you do it again--another book that grabs the reader--and do it over and over and over, with variations so it's new?"   Yes, will you also do what you can to promote it...but can you repeat the process?  Will you continue to write books with the potential to leap off the shelves?   Or have you spent five or ten years polishing this one jewel, and will you need to spend five or ten years on the next (by which time nobody will know your name and it's like launching a fire novel all over again.)  If you come to them with three or four complete books--so they can put them out closer together than you can write--if you launch your career with several books coming out four or six months apart--you'll get more name recognition faster, and more sales overall,  than with one book heavily promoted.

If the time you spend on promotion interferes with your rate of production, you're better off writing more.  Career writers--the writers who are making a living at writing (and yes, they do exist)  were often near-unknowns (or complete unknowns) until their books took up enough shelf space in stores that the casual reader noticed. 

I came into the business with three books (a complete trilogy) that my publisher was able to put out in May, October, and January.  Very little advertising, but it did mention that the next volume was coming in less than six months.  In three years--1988, 1989, 1990--I had five books out, plus a short fiction collection.   So readers believed there'd be more coming, and I began to have a solid following-- good enough to get the next contract. 

More books expand the following.   So does more writing of any kind with your name on it--short fiction doesn't make a living anymore, but it does promote you as a writer and it can fill the gap between books for your hungry readers...cookies instead of a full meal, but chances are they'll like the cookies.   You can put short fiction up on your website--if it's got some relation to your book(s)  it will be of special interest.  You can use short fiction as a teaser for the next book, or to fill out the one before--either can work.  Or you can search for anthology slots, sell to magazines--any method will help.  Having your short fiction published apart from your own site will expose readers to it who might not come to your site (they haven't read that first book.) 

Websites are essential these days, and they need to be aimed at helping potential and actual readers find out what they need to know--not always what writers think they need to know.  Sites need to be fast-loading, clean design, easy to navigate, contain all information needed to order books from any source (including ISBN numbers) --all with as little scrolling or click-through as possible.  And interesting, of course, though most visitors won't really explore. 

For very narrowly focused writers (you're planning a mystery series with an intriguing detective)  a project-specific website and blog may work better than a more broadly-focused one.  I have a general website (set up back in '96) that includes all my work plus "other stuff", but I also have two project specific websites and blogs for very different work and have considered adding one for the space opera/military SF.   This allows SF readers to avoid fantasy content (and vice versa) and provides a non-genre "face" for a book that's been used in FYE  and community readings (the Speed of Dark site.)  The ongoing fantasy project had a 20+ year gap between the older books and the current ones;  the Paksworld website and blog allowed the readership for the older books to learn about the new ones before publication.  All sites are crosslinked, with links as well to LiveJournal and Twitter. 

But still--and useful as these have been--what really matters is writing the books people want to read, and writing them fast enough that the name is still out there, and the publisher can count on the books coming in on time (sometimes very close to the deadline--but there.)  When push comes to shove, I turn off the internet and write the next book.

Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012 9:33 PM
I have a Facebook fan page and am on Twitter. I'm trying to get back into regular blogging on my website. Until my health took a downturn a couple of years ago, I was a regular attendee at a handful of regional conventions, county fairs, and book fairs.

I had an anthology come out October 2009. I always carry a copy with me - along with bookmarks and my business cards. Regardless where I am, I always make sure I leave my card and one bookmark in someone's hand. Sometimes I sell the book. Sometimes I give it away. Sometimes I donate it (to a library or such). But I always carry at least one copy with me because I never know if someone I talk to will want a copy. If I have one on me, and that person has cash, all the better for a sale - which might or might not have happened if I'd left him empty handed.

My publisher loves it when I'm able to go to conventions because that's where I'm best able to move the antho. Print is $16, but we sell them for $10 at cons. Plus, I'm there to sign them, which folks seem to enjoy, whether it's for them, a family member, or a friend, etc. 

At conventions, I'll take both hands full of bookmarks and just walk around the dealers floor and pass them out. "Here, dude. Take a bookmark." "Ma'am, you look like you need a bookmark." "Do you like books? Take a bookmark!"

Sometimes I'm able to take the box with me out on the floor, pick a spot, and just stand there passing out bookmarks and smiles (sometimes hugs, too - I'm the Apex Free Hug Giver) until I'm all out of one or the other. I'll stand in front of our booth and pass out bookmarks. When I'm manning the booth, I hand out bookmarks and business cards with sales (we love our bookmarks and business cards!). When someone approaches the booth, I let him browse a while, then I'll say something like, "How are you doing?" and get him talking. Then I'll ask, "What do you like to read? What are you interested in?" I'll offer suggestions to fit his interests, always pitching my antho last.

If someone does choose the anthology, I always offer to sign it - and ask if they want just a simple signature or a personalization. And always ask how to spell someone's name, even if it's Joe Davis.

At a book fair in late 2009, I sat beside a woman who fell in love with my bookmarks. She said, "My publisher offered me bookmarks, but I didn't know what I'd do with them, so I didn't take any. Maybe after this weekend, I'll ask for some." She said this after she watched me pass out something like 500 bookmarks!

I live in an apartment complex. Now and then, I'll hang my "writer / editor" flyer on the bulletin board in the laundry. I also now and then hang up a small stack of business cards and bookmarks. Whenever I go to the clubhouse for something, I take a small stack of bookmarks and leave them in the self-serve coffee center. Management will sometimes let me leave stacks on the office staff's desks and / or newspaper / leasing information table, too.

Put yourself out there.

But if you're doing it on social media, be gentle. Don't spam and don't harass.

Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012 9:41 PM
This is me again.

I forgot something.

The contract on my anthology ran out last October, but it's still selling like growing weeds, so it's still in print. I have a novel coming out this winter. The plan is to market the anthology alongside it here and there. And, my health allowing, I'm going to get back to the regional convention circuit and fairs next year and do as many as I'm able.

In fact, I'm having surgery in two weeks and am hoping I'm healed up well enough to attend The Scarefest at least one day, or one morning, during its run in late September. It's a huge convention, right downtown, and my publisher always does well there. I sat with him last year one afternoon just for a couple of hours and sold almost ten books. (I told him, "It's the boobs!" LOL)

Also, check with your favorite local indie bookstore. Mine does an author's meet and greet every Saturday morning through the summer at the farmers market downtown. These are well attended! You meet people and move books.

I have friends who do fiction/writing/industry podcasts - they're all always happy for me to send them in a short spot about the anthology for them to run. One of my friends does a music podcast, and he pushes my writing all the time. Sometimes on the podcasts, give-aways or contests happen.

Too, do guest spots on blogs. Those work out well.

Lela sain
Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:19 PM
Joined: 4/2/2013
Posts: 5

I was wondering after the e book is published.  If an agent would be intrested in picking it up.  I would love to have a hard back copy completed.  With the e books I could refer to an agent if provided the opportunity.  So I say all that to say this.  I am  telling friends. Making use of book country free epublishing. However, looking for information for guidance when you dont know what direction to go in.  I am in the sugestion stage.  I am in need of reviews on my project.  Iam at the whats next.        
Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 3:07 PM
Your book would be considered a reprint. From what I understand, most agents and publishers aren't interested in reprints.

Lela sain
Posted: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:40 AM
Joined: 4/2/2013
Posts: 5

since the ebook is completed.  How do you go about geting the ebook to hard back.  will bookcountry auto it.
Lela sain
Posted: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:42 AM
Joined: 4/2/2013
Posts: 5

One other thing.  I have blocked my book on bookcountry since my ebook has hit the market.  Is this a good thing.