Third Thursday Wrap Up

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

  • 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

  • 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.

Your Self

  • 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.

In Person

  • 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.

Online

  • 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.

In Print

  • 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.

October’s Third Thursday Wrap Up: “An Author’s Guide to PR & Marketing”

By Lexie Smith

“Hey! Did you hear about my book? “

“I’m writing a book. It’s gonna be awesome.”

“Please buy my book. “

Pestering your friends, family, and foes is one kind of marketing, but the “I’ll buy your book so you’ll shut up” sale is not public relations gold.

Thankfully, there are ways that are more effective and, dare I say, enjoyable.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Marika Flatt, Jennifer Hill, and Dominic Smith, were the experienced panel of authors and communication professionals who inspired us during  October ‘s Third Thursday program at Recycled Reads, Austin Public Library’s invigorating used bookstore. Here’s a quick recap.

Helping Dr. Author and Mr. Marketer Coexist

You may be intimidated or simply not like the idea of being a business, but a split personality is not required to promote your writing career.  Writer you and PR you are both you. (And neither is as nasty as Mr. Hyde.) These tips can help the one you do both things needed to sell your work.

Guard your active writing time. Whatever time of day works for you, protect it. Marketing and PR must be additional time in your schedule, but don’t let it cut it into time spent on your primary writing projects.

Manage your marketing time.  Jennifer suggested you divide your marketing time between writing marketing content, and interacting on the social network(s) you’re a part of.

Improve your writing while marketing.  Always Capra helped Jennifer strengthen her character development and social media muscles at the same time. Blogs give you more space to do that, while Twitter’s 140 character limit requires conciseness. (Especially if U R going 2 limit textspeak, by choice or need.  LOL.)

Realize the value of industry professionals. Do-it-yourself technology (blogs, Twitter and Facebook) makes it easier and cheaper than ever for authors to connect with readers. However, at some point, you can benefit from the experience and industry relationships of public relations professionals. To get an idea of what they offer, from a consult to a full marketing plan, visit Marika’s at PR by the Book and Jennifer ‘s services at Robin Hill Media.

This is How They Do It

Take a look at a few authors who do marketing and PR well. When you see something you like, try to incorporate it into your plan.

Marika mentioned how well author Bryan Davis uses Facebook to connect.  He responds to all comments and even alters his book tour according to suggestions from his fans.  He has several books and over 3,000 Facebook “Likes” for his page.

Jennifer started her Always Capra blog out of boredom. Her character Capra was also active on Facebook and Twitter.  An agent noticed and Jennifer was signed to write a novel.

Billy Coffey has one book under his belt with another coming out November 2011. Marika noted the strength of his online presence. He uses WordPress for his site, which includes a blog and links to his Twitter and Facebook accounts. You can also see a list of interviews he has done.

What’s Next?

All the PR skills you develop will help with the next step of building your book, the book launch, which happens to be November’s Third Thursday topic, “Blast off: The Book Launch & Beyond.” Join us on November 17 for for the conclusion of our “Building Your Book” series.

(My apologies to Dominic Smith for not mentioning him more often. Due to traffic, I missed the first half of the meeting, so I didn’t hear him speak as much.  If any of you were there and would like to leave a comment to fill in the gaps, please do. Thanks.)

Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.comBloggingForWriters.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.

Conference Takeaways

Now that the 2010 Writers’ League of Texas Conference is behind us, I’m wondering what everyone’s favorite takeaways were. Here’s my favorite eye-openers of the weekend:

  • Agents do NOT read synopses — they’d much rather read the actual book.
  • Cal Morgan of HarperCollins was a superb last-minute substitute for Carrie Kania. He reminded us that in the end, it’s all about the writing and the book.
  • The WLT’s new staff more than rose to the occasion. Jan, Bethany, Kate, and our fab interns (Bryan, Juliette, Kaitlin, and Ashley) rocked!

What words of wisdom, tips, or advice struck you? We invite you to share them here at the blog or on Facebook.

And if you want to relive the conference in pictures, here’s a link to photographer Deanna Roy’s website! (Pictured at right: Agent Alex Glass of Trident Media)

— Posted by Cyndi Hughes