October’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up
Author’s Guide to PR and Marketing: On Your Own, But Not Alone
By Lexie Smith
Marketing your book is like life. Ultimately you’re responsible for how you live your life, but you don’t have to live it alone. Unless you want to, in which case you’ll have a quiet life and even quieter book sales.
You need other people to help market your book, but you don’t need advanced degree in glad-handing. October’s Third Thursday program provided a quick marketing primer from panelists author Ernest Cline, writer and publicist Jennifer Hill Robenalt, author and writers’ resource blog maven Cynthia Leitich Smith, and author Jo Whittemore.
Here’s a quick breakdown of ways you are on your own, yet not alone.
You’re on Your Own
The reality of the publishing industry is that you are responsible for marketing your book. Your time, your money, and your self are investments you must make to promote your writing projects.
- Time to network online and offline with readers, potential readers, librarians, writers, event organizers, etc.
- Time to create content for marketing and networking (social media posts, media packets, etc.)
- Time to learn about the publishing industry
- Money for marketing education—ebooks, books, coaching, classes, conferences, etc.
- Money for website development – At the least you need to buy your domain name (something like YourName.com ) for about $10/year. There are lots of free tools you can use for your website and marketing. (Including blog platforms, Facebook and Twitter.) Eventually, you’ll want to spend some money on the design of your website and hosting for your site.
- Money for a publicist or marketing team—Once you’ve done all you can do, you may want to take your marketing to the next level and hire a professional.
- You bring a unique energy and tone to your work. Only you can bring those same things to your marketing efforts.
- You know your work better than anyone else, therefore, you will have ideas that other people may not. (See the FAQ about the DeLorean Ernie used on his book tour.)
- You are more passionate about your project than anyone else will be.
- It takes time to develop your writing voice, it also takes time to develop your marketing style. Experiment with different things to find out what works for you.
You’re Not Alone
So, you have to spend your time, money, and your self selling your book. Isn’t it enough that you wrote the thing? Not if you want people to buy your book. Thankfully, you have many resources available to help you learn about and execute marketing. Avail yourself to opportunities in person, online, and in print.
- Local writers groups can provide feedback on your projects and moral support. Search online for these groups. (Check the Organizations for Writers page on the WLT site.)
- The Writers League Third Thursday programs in Austin provide loads of information from a variety of panelists and the chance to connect with other writers.
- Classes, workshops, and conferences offer learning and networking opportunities. (Including WLT workshops, like the PR Boot Camp Jennifer Hill Robenalt taught.)
- Join forces with other authors to help promote each other’s books. (For example, Jo Whittemore is a member of the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels at TexasSweethearts.com.)
- At some point you may want to hire an agent and/or a publicist to help you. CynthiaLeitichSmith.com has some good resources to help you with that when you’re ready.
- Search for genre specific writing groups online. Members can help you with all stages of writing, including marketing.
- Educate yourself about marketing by enrolling in an online class. Check WritersOnlineWorkshops.com from Writer’s Digest.
- Subscribe to a few blogs that include book marketing and promotion in their topics such as Jane Friedman , Cynthia Leitich Smith and Dana Lynn Smith.
- Look on websites of authors you like for information about the site (who designed or built it), email them and ask what they did to help them market the book.
- Check your local library or bookstore for books on book marketing.
- Consider books about small business marketing.
- Look at the books you like. Scour the books for any reference to any person or thing that helped them market the book; look in any nook and cranny you can think of in the book: acknowledgements, about the author, book jackets, preface.
The idea of marketing your book may be daunting, but our panelists showed that it can be done and it can even be enjoyable. Stay tuned for November’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up about launching your book. (Subscribe to the WLT blog feed here and sign up for the WLT newsletter here to get updates about upcoming events and other useful information.)
Lexie is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.com, BloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.