Thursday, February 19, 2009

The aha! moment

There comes a time in every writer's life when they have to do some marketing and promotional work for their book, their baby. Let's face it: no one cares about your book the way you do. And today, even in the large publishing houses, marketing and promotion falls squarely on the shoulders of the author.

I'll be the first to tell you that I am not comfortable with that. The whole marketing thing is outside my comfort zone. But, I've been diligently working on it, establishing an internet presence, making up a media kit, a marketing plan, and listening to a fellow author, Elysabeth Eldering, drag me towards book festivals.

Why do I buck the promotional angle so hard? Perhaps because my book has not yet been released, it is hard to realize that what I do now will help me in the future. Perhaps. "I'm a writer," I think to myself. "I don't want to spend time each day working on marketing! I want to write." As you can see, I don't think I've reached the aha! moment when what I am doing now correlates directly to the amount of sales and exposure my book has.

Fortunately, there are good books, like Carolyn Howard-Johnson's "Frugal" series, to help me along. Elysabeth has the same publisher I do and it helping me out. She has been encouraging me to write a teacher's guide. Those things are big these days, but I'm not sure I'm ready to jump on that band wagon. I have a hard time envisioning my middle grade urban fantasy as having any fodder a teacher would want.

Perhaps there isn't an aha! moment. Perhaps when my book is out I'll gradually realize that all the marketing and promotional work I'm doing is making a difference.

What about you? Did you have an "aha! moment, or are you still working towards it? I sure am.


Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Oh, sure, I get a ha moments but unfortunately they all hit me in the middle of the night. So by the time I find my glasses, grab my notebook and pen, the A HA has now begun UH?

Katie Hines said...

LOL, Lea!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

All of that promotion is necessary though!
And you might eventually discover you enjoy it.

L. Diane Wolfe

Helen Ginger said...

Marketing is time-consuming, but keep in mind, the more you can do now or get set up before the book comes out, the easier it'll be when it does.

Donna McDine said...

Hi Katie...seems like you are going down the right path...good luck with your marketing. My aha moment smacked me upside my head in January...write first thing and everything else later. That means no checking email or going near my computer until I write. Feels so much better and everything is more enjoyable.

Warm regards,

elysabeth said...

Great words by Helen. She's been doing it a while. Trust me, in the long run, you will be establishing your name and your book(s) that folks will be anxiously awaiting your next book. In establishing a web presence, I hope that means you do have a website and not just the blog.

In linking to me, the better blog to link to is my since that is strictly on my books. And looking at your followers, you have already grown a good bit. You have more than I do and I try all the time (my website, blogs, book titles and all that are in my email signature line, but doesn't seem to be helping much). I also have a monthly newsletter I try to keep up with. All of it is marketing. I'd love to see more folks join my newsletter and passing the word to their friends, et cetera. The more my books get mentioned, the better off.

As far as "dragging" you to book festivals and all, What a better way to make contact with thousands of reades? Some not so many but still you are hitting the market you need - readers. Most attendees at book festivals are following their favorite authors and finding new ones to add to their reading lists. You never know who you will meet at a book festival. I consider them sound investments in the marketing of oneself, even if you do nothing but volunteer before you feel comfortable having an exhibitor booth or trying to get on as a guest speaker.

A teacher's guide - you have plenty of fodder to be used in the classrooms. If they are studying about history, you have it; legends or whatever. There are many angles you can take with your book and a teacher's guide doesn't have to be long; just a few discussion questions or research projects on key aspects of the book, something fun and an end-of-book quiz that can be used for extra credit or to supplement the kids grades - that just proves they read the book because those questions can't be answered unless you've read the book. I'd even go so far as to say add a few discussion questions to the back of the book for those readers who won't get the teacher's guides because the books aren't in the classroom.

I'm sure some of your other readers will tell you that all these things are necessary to really establish yourself in the writing world because remember there are literallly thousands of books published every year and you want to be the one set apart and picked up many times over. We can't make money from our books if the readers aren't picking them up and even if they are, we need thousands and thousands of them to be buying (we make pennies on the dollar for our books so do the math - it takes me about 1000 books sold to make what I would on my job in four days. Exposure, exposure, exposure - that's what all this marketing is doing - the more people who see you, the better for you.

Keep hanging in there and if I lead you down the wrong path, hopefully someone will be able to direct me back up the right one and benefit us all.

Katie Hines said...

I should clarify: Elysabeth is dragging me to book festivals because I'm the one resisting, not due to any actions on her part. Thanks, and sorry for any misunderstandings.


Wyn said...

Are you going to the book festival in Dallas? It sure sounds like it's going to be a big one.