Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

News, trends, and the future of publishing
User avatar
taylormillgirl
Posts: 138
Joined: December 28th, 2009, 9:02 am
Contact:

Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by taylormillgirl » May 6th, 2011, 7:42 am

Hey everyone! I have good news and slightly scary news.

The good news: My contemporary romance is going on submission sometime in the next couple weeks. Woohoo! I've been waiting for this moment a long time.

The slightly scary news: My agent wants me to write an author bio, which should include a marketing plan for this book. (Insert sound of record scratching.)

Marketing plan? Uh...aside from networking like a mofo, local book signings, asking author friends to give me shout-outs and reviews on their blogs, and attending reader-writer events, I'm not sure what to include in my plan. My own blog has a tiny following, but my romance is written under a different name. (The love scenes are...let's say fully described.)

I'd like to tell editors, "I'll bust my arse doing whatever you want," but that doesn't sound too professional, does it?

I've spent the last couple years focused on writing the best damn manuscript I could, and I didn't allow myself to worry about the business aspect of being an author. The result = now I feel clueless. Anyone want to help me think outside the box here and come up with some unique marketing strategies? Thanks in advance if you've read this far. :-)
Author of hot & humorous romances, debut novel coming in 2012 from Sourcebooks!
http://macybeckett.com/

Guardian
Posts: 563
Joined: September 29th, 2010, 4:36 pm
Location: Somewhere between two realms
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Guardian » May 6th, 2011, 9:51 am

The bio is okay, but since when the author must do the marketing plan? It's the job of the agent and the publisher. It's not and never was the job of the author. I would look after that agent of yours, because this sounds a bit strange. Just take up the question; why should you and will pay that 10% for the agent and greater percentages for the publisher as basically you're paying these percentages for jobs like this. If your agent is lazy to do any sort of marketing, lazy to promote you (As this is one of the purposes of an agent) in your place I would look for another one.

User avatar
taylormillgirl
Posts: 138
Joined: December 28th, 2009, 9:02 am
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by taylormillgirl » May 6th, 2011, 12:40 pm

Do you or do you not have some suggestions for me, Guardian? (Aside from firing my agent, that is.)
Author of hot & humorous romances, debut novel coming in 2012 from Sourcebooks!
http://macybeckett.com/

Guardian
Posts: 563
Joined: September 29th, 2010, 4:36 pm
Location: Somewhere between two realms
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Guardian » May 6th, 2011, 1:05 pm

Yes, I can give you some advice. Try cross-marketing. One of the working method is... you create a much shorter and also cheaper product, a short novel in your case, and you can use that one to advertise the large one prior the release (As if it would be a promo of your skills and it's also capable to create a fan base.). Then there is the usual; website (optional) ---> facebook / twitter method (At facebook try to find fan pages and / or forums which is about the same genre what about your WIP is.). Real life scenarios ---> Leaflets doesn't cost that much (A5 paper, some text and optional graphic ---> photocopy). You may use these leaflets to promote your work at the appropriate places, shops, etc, etc... If you're creating a website ---> send it to hundreds of webdirectories and advertise it at multiple places. If you have a small budget, you may use Facebook and other "Pay by impression" advertisements (These ones are usually cheap. i.e.: 15000 impression ---> app. 20-25USD). And also a marketing plan must include an app. budget (Again, these ones are usually calculated by the publisher, not by you as you don't know what their budget is.).

But, as I said it shouldn't be your job at all. I don't know you, but maybe you never did marketing before (It was my job at few of my workplaces.). I just don't know why an agent, whose primary job should be to promote you is asking you, the author to do the marketing plan. Marketing comes from a budget and the budget is known only by the publisher. Now you must create a marketing plan for an unknown budget. Promotion and all the surrounding events are usually done by the agent. So it's a bit strange to me.

I know what I say may sound very harsh, and I'm sorry for that as it's not aiming at you. I just don't want you to fail, because someone is giving to you a task which shouldn't be yours at all (You're an author, not a marketing manager or a product promoter.).

I hope it's going to help you something.

User avatar
taylormillgirl
Posts: 138
Joined: December 28th, 2009, 9:02 am
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by taylormillgirl » May 6th, 2011, 1:25 pm

Thank you, that's very helpful. I didn't even know some of those things existed!

I see many, many of the published authors in my RWA chapter doing their own marketing. (Published by both large and small houses.) Sad, but true, In fact, a few of them have ordered promotional materials advertising their book's release date, only to have the publisher come back and change that date without notification. That means $1,000 in "swag" was pretty much wasted. Personally, I'd like to steer clear of gifty promo items. I'd rather spend that money directing traffic to my website, Facebook, etc. as you suggested.

Thanks again. You've given me a lot to consider.
Author of hot & humorous romances, debut novel coming in 2012 from Sourcebooks!
http://macybeckett.com/

Guardian
Posts: 563
Joined: September 29th, 2010, 4:36 pm
Location: Somewhere between two realms
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Guardian » May 6th, 2011, 2:01 pm

You're welcome. Oh, and a little trick what I forgot...
The good news: My contemporary romance is going on submission sometime in the next couple weeks.
The good news: My contemporary romance, [TITLE GOES HERE!!!] is going on submission sometime in the next couple weeks.
I'd rather spend that money directing traffic to my website, Facebook, etc. as you suggested.
I'd rather spend that money directing traffic to my website [HINT; IN THE SIGNATURE!!!], Facebook, etc. as you suggested.

And if you have any homepage add it to your signature. Most of the self promotion is failing on three things...
1. Many are shy to tell what their work is, what their name is. So speak, speak, speak about it, just as I used to do about my Crystal Shade (Website in my signature, 4-15+ visitors are guaranteed, depending on the time of day and where you hint it.) <--- like this. Always use every possible option to advertise your work, or give a hint about it when you speak about it (But never, ever spoil anything. Just grab the attention.). Don't force it, but always hint it, so people are going to remember for it's name at least. Always remember; you know what your work and it's title is... but people are not mind readers.
2. Many forget to tell where the future customer may find their work (Signature ---> homepage, blog, facebook, twitter, etc, etc... whatever you have. Always share it.).

And the greatest mistake...
3. Self publishers start the marketing on the day of the release (95% of self publishing).

So try to avoid these mistakes and that's already half success.
Last edited by Guardian on May 6th, 2011, 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sommer Leigh
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: April 2nd, 2010, 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Sommer Leigh » May 6th, 2011, 2:03 pm

I think authors doing their own publicity and developing their own marketing plans is becoming very much the norm these days. I don't think it is so strange at all. I've heard some pretty good discussions about it around some author blogs, I'll see if I can't track them down again, I am pretty sure I saved links to the better ones SOMEWHERE.

Social networking is great, sure, it can definitely help. And there are a lot of really great ways, ok ways, and ways that may or may not be helpful at all to get the word out. And luck, let's not forget luck.

First, what do you have online as far as presence? Website, blog, facebook, twitter? You don't need all of them necessarily, but some of them work really well together depending on how much time you've got to spend. If you haven't developed these things yet, you'll want to figure out which you'll use and start developing them soon. Remember that blogs take at least six months to just get going, longer to build a good strong following.

Then I'd start researching and making lists of all the really great book blogs. There are some fantastic romance-centric book blogs, but there are others that cross lots of genres. When I'm home on my own computer I can send you a list of ones I personally follow if you want. Check their guidelines, but almost all of them are willing to accept copies of your book in exchange for reviews, though the review is never promised to be positive. Even if you can't supply them with review copies, having a plan to send out really nice press kits is always a good idea. They should include a couple of different sized buttons that promote your book and link to your website. It should include a high resolution copy of your cover, and any gadget/widget/fun web things that they can display to promote you. Many of these book bloggers are also the sweetest people in the world and are willing to answer questions about what marketing strategies have worked best for their particular readers. As far as I'm concerned, book bloggers are right up there on the Most Awesome People list with librarians.

Make a list of forums, websites, and non-book review blogs that are centered on your genre/theme that would click well with your book. Think outside just books - for example if your romance had pirates in it, pirate-themed internet hot spots would work too.

Depending on what your book is about, there might be some really interesting, unique, out-of-the-box marketing ideas embedded right in your story that you can use. Interesting marketing techniques always get more interest just by virtue of being more than just a press release. In a time period where we are all obsessed with interesting online media, think about things like video (not necessarily a trailer), interactive websites, anything that can get people to interact with your marketing. For example, a self-published book I read about a zombie outbreak was preceeded by a blog written by a character in the same universe documenting what's happening to her. It didn't exactly have anything to do with the book (though there were some hints embedded within) but "she" posted pictures of a dark empty street and a shadowy figure lumbering toward her, video of a ruined building with a voice over about the people she knew who'd lived there, and sketches from her paper journal. It was sort of like a story within a story and culminated in a BIG ending the day before her book launched. It was awesome.

Swag is ok, but I don't think the swag itself is the draw so much as the IDEA of swag. A plain giveaway isn't going to be nearly as helpful as doing an interactive multi-media challenge where the winner or winners receives something interesting upon completion. That way you have people talking not just about the swag to be won, but people are talking about how interesting and fun the challenge is. This will require some creative out of the box thinking, but it can be done ! I agree that you don't need to spend lots of money on bookmarks and postcards and what ever. That's a lot of money on stuff that probably no one cares about. I saw a pretty good giveaway on GoodReads a while back where the author gave away a Kindle with her book loaded on it. That seemed to gather a lot of comments and interest.

And us! Don't forget us! I think a lot of people on the forums would happily become champions for you :-) Congrats on this whole thing by the way, it is a wonderful opportunity! Can't wait to see your book!
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

Guardian
Posts: 563
Joined: September 29th, 2010, 4:36 pm
Location: Somewhere between two realms
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Guardian » May 6th, 2011, 2:08 pm

I think authors doing their own publicity and developing their own marketing plans is becoming very much the norm these days.
That's secondary marketing to boost the primary sales and to extend the primary marketing. That's different. But when the agent is asking the author to do the primary marketing plan instead of the publisher... that's strange (Then why do you need them in the first place? The agent should promote the author and her work to the publisher. And worse case scenario, if the publisher is asking this from the author to create the marketing plan, well... publishers are always advertising themselves as; You, dear author, you can't live without us, because we do the ultimate #1, giga-mega marketing.... so this is a contradiction. A great one.). If this would be a secondary marketing as in most cases, the agent wouldn't as it as it's not their job. Right now this sounds as... give this job to the author too. She already created the primary product what we're going to sell. She is going to pay us and she is also going to do the job instead of us. Well, we already have a good day.

OFF: Do I see right that you've became a moderator? If yes, congratulations, Sommer! I'll be a good boy, I promise. :)

Sommer Leigh
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: April 2nd, 2010, 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Sommer Leigh » May 6th, 2011, 2:37 pm

Guardian wrote:
I think authors doing their own publicity and developing their own marketing plans is becoming very much the norm these days.
That's secondary marketing to boost the primary sales and to extend the primary marketing. That's different. But when the agent is asking the author to do the primary marketing plan instead of the publisher... that's strange (Then why do you need them in the first place? Agent should promote the author to the publisher, the author herself. And if the publisher is asking this from the author, well... publishers are always advertising themselves as; You, dear author, you can't live without us, because we do the ultimate #1, giga-mega marketing.... so this is a contradiction. A great one.). If this would be a secondary marketing as in most cases, the agent wouldn't as it as it's not their job. Right now this sounds as... give this job to the author.too She already created the primary product what we're going to sell, she is going to pay us and she is also going to do the job instead of us. Well, we already have a good day.

OFF: Do I see right that you've became a moderator? If yes, congratulations, Sommer! I'll be a good boy, I promise. :)
As I understand it, agents don't do publicity necessarily. Publicists do publicity, and if you're very lucky you get that through your publisher, but most people aren't very lucky. I've heard some agents will help develop your marketing plan and will help develop specific marketing requests that the author can submit to their publisher, but that's not their primary job. Again, I think it depends on the agent and I know this only anecdotally from reading other author's experiences. That's why a lot of authors end up hiring publicists. I went to a wonderful talk at a convention done by a publicist that was both helpful and kind of terrifying.

And thank you! I'm very excited and honored and humbled :-) I think green is my new favorite color!
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

User avatar
Holly
Posts: 500
Joined: December 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Holly » May 6th, 2011, 3:59 pm

First of all, congratulations! I hope your book is a roaring success.

My suggestion: Go to Google and search "romance blog reviews" or something that includes "blog reviews." It should bring up a ton of blogs that review romance novels. Then go to those blogs one by one and read their submission guidelines. When your book is about to come out, start contacting them like crazy and beg them to review it.

User avatar
taylormillgirl
Posts: 138
Joined: December 28th, 2009, 9:02 am
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by taylormillgirl » May 6th, 2011, 4:08 pm

Thanks, everyone. Your tips are greatly appreciated!

Somer, I have a blog, twitter, and Facebook page under my real name, which I'll utilize once my YA goes on sub. (We haven't even started revising that one yet.) However, when it comes to my steamy-romance-alter-ego, she only has a website and a naked twitter account. It really stinks having to maintain, brand, and publicize two identities, but oh well.
Author of hot & humorous romances, debut novel coming in 2012 from Sourcebooks!
http://macybeckett.com/

Nicole R
Posts: 186
Joined: September 30th, 2010, 4:40 pm
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by Nicole R » May 6th, 2011, 4:27 pm

How exciting! Major congrats to you. The others have had really great suggestions already - here are a few more you might want to consider:

Brainstorm local media options
Does your daily paper have a book reporter? Is there an opportunity for an author profile in a regional lifestyle magazine? Does your university/college have an alumni paper? (I work in PR, and we always ID alumni mags as an outlet for promotion announcements, etc. for our clients) If you have a top list of publications, it's pretty easy to track down the reporter's email and draft a short pitch, similar to your query. Then, if you do get an article, you can often reuse it as a handout at readings or as a reference for blogger interviews.

Partner with local libraries/bookstores
I know you already mentioned local readings, but also be sure to ask the librarians/store owners to recommend a few of their colleagues, groups or publications who might be interested in your work. Those folks will be pretty well networked, and they're usually happy to make an introduction for authors. That way, you can start to grow awareness outside of your hometown.

Fun with photos
For her recent book release, my friend started posting photos of all the places her book appeared around the world (not in terms of countries where it had been published, but where her readers had taken it). She had copies in Hawaii, Australia, the Netherlands, etc. Some of the readers sent in really creative photos, too. It was a neat campaign because people started tuning in to find out where the next photo would come from - she generated interest in her book and in herself as an author.

Good luck!

User avatar
taylormillgirl
Posts: 138
Joined: December 28th, 2009, 9:02 am
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by taylormillgirl » May 6th, 2011, 9:20 pm

Sweet! Thanks! You guys are the best. :-)
Author of hot & humorous romances, debut novel coming in 2012 from Sourcebooks!
http://macybeckett.com/

drewwilliam
Posts: 2
Joined: June 10th, 2011, 5:52 am
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by drewwilliam » June 13th, 2011, 12:27 am

I want more Twitter followers but I don't want to follow any more people or buy followers. I heard there are a couple of websites where we can buy followers or can also try it for free. Is it true?

get twitter followers

User avatar
J. T. SHEA
Moderator
Posts: 498
Joined: May 20th, 2010, 1:55 pm
Location: IRELAND
Contact:

Re: Putting together a marketing plan? Help!

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 13th, 2011, 6:10 pm

You've provoked an interesting discussion, Taylormillgirl. I partly agree with all posters and commend their helpful advice.

Your agent seems to mean direct author-to-reader marketing, as distinct from marketing to publishers, which is definitely your agent's job, and marketing to bookstores, which is definitely the publisher's job. Such direct author-to-reader marketing can indeed work, but its history seems spotty to say the least.

While I know romance has its own particular customs, I am surprised your agent made no suggestions at all for your marketing plan. It is one thing for an agent to ask a client to do their own marketing, but quite another to offer them no guidance in the task.

Presumably your agent has other romance author clients and more publishing experience than you do. What has worked for those other clients in the past?

BTW, did you actually ASK your agent for advice? She sounds friendly enough in an interview I found and speaks of talking with some of her clients every day!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest