Monday, February 7, 2011

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and dog-gonnit, people like me.

I got into a Twitter discussion on Friday about when it was appropriate to begin marketing your material. Over the past two years, I’ve had five releases and, despite doing very little marketing on my own (being the newbie I was) have enjoyed a moderate amount of success. No, not everyone knows my name, and those who do, I think, are more likely to go, “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard of her.” Definitions of success vary across the board, and the sort to which I’m referring falls mostly in the “hey, I made a bit of money and got several good reviews!” category.

All this being said, I’m fairly certain that, had I done a bit more marketing—had I even known where to begin—I would have fared a little better. As everything in life, though, you take what you learn based on experience and interactions and apply them toward future endeavors. Therefore, with any upcoming releases—hell, any upcoming anything—I plan to be vocal. Will Project A be contracted? Well, of course I don’t know that now, but I’d like to think it has a shot. Either way, getting my name out there in the blogoverse, posting excerpts, sharing progress, and yes, doing a bit of self-promo even before I have something to sell will help both generate an audience for my work and boost sales once it does hit the bookshelf.

Some people may see this as overly-confident. I prefer to think I’m hopeful. I’ve also witnessed, over the past few months, how an author with no releases can amount public opinion, reader interest, and respect even before having signed a contract. There is an author I know on Twitter whose debut publication was released in January. She worked her butt off getting acquainted with other authors and keeping potential readers posted on her progress. Before she had anything to sell, her name was all over the place. And because I am also published at her house, I know her release was an instant best seller. That’s not to say you can’t sit back and hope everyone falls in love with your blurb (that’s what I did, after all), but of the two options available, I’d go the other way. You have little to lose.

Authors don’t just market their work, they market themselves. You have to have confidence in order to put your work on the line. Therefore, I encourage all authors, established and aspiring, to get their name “out there.” Befriend other authors, chat with readers, talk about yourself and your work and listen when others do the same. There’s very little being open and friendly can do to hurt your chances with success.

7 comments:

Dawne Prochilo said...

Before my first novel came out in 2009, a few author friends told me the easy part (writing and editing the book) was done and now the real work started. I laughed thinking of all the hours I put into writing. But they were correct- marketing and promoting my book (not self-published) was difficult. Social networking is where I turned to boost sales and to get my name "out there".

Kelli McCracken said...

I agree with your 100%. My novel isn't out yet (still revising) but I was lucky enough to get in with a great group of writers who helped me learn that it's never too early to market yourself. I didn't start hitting Twitter hard and heavy unil December 2010. I've been building up my network of fellow authors and read blogs, excerpts, take workshops, everything I can to better myself, my writing, and hopefully, my marketing.

There are many aspiring authors who think they have to have a finished product to promote themselves. So not true. I was taught that you should start marketing as soon as an idea pops into your head and you decide to commit yourself to writing this story. I feel lucky that I didn't have to learn this the hard way.

Great post, Rosalie. Thanks for sharing the info.

Rosalie Stanton said...

@Dawne - I think I was so stunned to be accepted by any house, it never occurred to me to do more marketing than I did. Now my release with LSB (actual date TBA), I'm doing short-shorts based on the characters, excerpts, and talking about it as much as possible, and there's still a buttload I could be doing. It really is the "hard-part."

@Kelli - Well, your tactic is working! Yours is definitely a name I recognize. :) And I absolutely agree; start ASAP. If you bank on the notion that you might not get accepted, you're missing out on the connections you can establish. Furthermore, publishers LOOK at authors who are good at getting their name out there. After all, interest in writers means big bucks for the house that has them. Keep doing what you're doing; I can guarantee you'll have sold me a copy by the time your work comes out!

J.L. Campbell said...

Many first time authors - including myself - don't quite know how to go about marketing their work and we also don't realize that our network can do for us if people are gung-ho about our work. I had to learn as I went and unfortunately, I'm still marketing in fits and starts.

Rosalie Stanton said...

I absolutely agree, J.L. Really, what I do now is Twitter, excerpts, blogging, and the rest I learn as I go.

J.A. Saare said...

Great post, Rosalie, and so true. It's amazing how getting your name out there beforehand helps. It truly does!

sarahballance said...

Love this post, Rosalie. When my first book was published, I knew precisely one writerly soul, abstained from social networking, and had secured my web and blog addys but neither held content. I don't think I believed they were actually publishing my book until the link was live, at which point I blinked a few times and have yet to recover. ;cP

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