Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Is My Publisher Sitting On His Hands Instead of Marketing My Book?

The people in my online Fiction Writers’ Group recently were asked the interesting and very common question above, and I thought I’d post it and let you know what my answer was. I wish someone had told me ths answer when I was a new young writer. It would have saved me about eight years and some tens of thousands of dollars had I known what I have written below.

Maybe it will help you, too. I hope so.

My friend, you're making the same mistake I made when my first novel was published, those many years ago. You are expecting the publisher to be your marketing specialist. Unfortunately for writers (who really just want to write), publishers are not marketing specialists at all; they are publishers.

These days, writers must market their own stuff, and that means having an impressive platform.  I know personally of some agents who won't even handle writers who don't have a significant platform.

A platform, as I'm sure you're aware, is your sphere of influence--your mailing list, your contacts, socially, in business, and in normal everyday living, who can and probably will buy your book and/or talk about it on their show, invite you to speak at their university/college/highschool/group, and to people who also have a copious sphere of influence.

This may sound daunting, but anyone who has written a book and gotten it published can do just about anything!  You're one of a very small percentage of the population of the world.

The first thing you need to do is to start a media blitz. Google "media kits" and see what kind of suggestions the different sites make. Make a list of the items that are common to all of them, get those together in a brief, neat format, and send them to your local radio and TV stations, as well as to your local newspapers.

Tweet about your book--and yourself. Talk about it on Facebook. Hopefully you will be able even to do a video message. Tell people in line at the grocery about it, using your "elevator speech." (An elevator speech is a 10—30--second synopsis of what your novel/film/story is about.)

Don't ever tell the ending. If they know that, they don’t have to buy your book. You just told it to them, chapter and verse.
Lots of writers make video trailers for their books. You might try contacting the producers on this list to determine prices and details.

Its a very effective way to promote your book, and expense varies, depending on your needs.

You might even want to try doing one yourself with your video camera.

Make up bookmarks and business cards for your book, and ask local libraries if you might leave some of the bookmarks on their countertop, where people check out and return books. Pass out the cards to everyone you encounter, whether or not you know them.
You can get really nice business cards from, at a reasonable rate.  Sometimes they have 'giveaways' of postcards, magnets and the like as well.  It's well worth checking them out.

Use every way you can to promote that book.  Never give up.

The famous author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” Mark Victor Hansen, had his first book signing and no one came. The venue was inside a mall, so instead of getting depressed, he ran out into the mall, bought a whole bunch of helium balloons, and ran around giving them away to children, telling the parents, “Have you heard? Mark Victor Hansen is having a book signing today! Can you imagine? Mark Victor Hansen!  Better get over there before he leaves!” People flocked to the bookstore (possibly feeling obliged because they had just gotten a ‘freebie’ from him) and the rest is history.

Do anything legal, moral and non-fattening that will get your book marketed, no matter how foolish it seems. If it makes them buy, it’s okay.  Sometimes it's good only if it’s legal and moral.  I just threw the "non-fattening" thing in because I saw myself sideways in a mirror last night.

Set up a book signing at your local bookstore, introduce yourself to the manager, and autograph all the books they have in stock--in fact, if you're smart, you'll talk to the manager ahead of time and ask if he will order a few extra for your signing.  I've always found that bookstore managers are delighted when I autograph my books. They put a special "Signed by Author" sticker on the front, and people seem to buy them faster.

Research "Marketing your books," and go to and sign up for their newsletter, and also sign up for free publicity for your non-fiction book.  News releases are sent up to three times a day to keep you up-to-date.  It's at:

Both are very informative. I wish they'd been around when I was first publishing.

Sorry you have to do this yourself, but we're all in the same boat, I’m afraid. The best thing to do, now that your book is published, is roll up your sleeves with a big smile and get out there and tell the world—shouting it from the virtual rooftops—how great your book is!

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