Thursday, November 17, 2011

Your Modern Marketing Plan

If she were doing a book signing, I'd definitely buy a copy...then get back in line.

My agent just sent over some pretty detailed information for us, his authors in his stable, on how we might go about marketing ourselves in this the ever changing era of digital publishing. What's impressive about the marketing package samples he included with the email is that it's social media heavy. In particular is a bullet about tracking down the top 100 sites that are relevant to your book (be it a hard-boiled mystery, a true crime novel, or a non-fiction narrative about St. Peter and Paul), and then finding ways to either guest blog on them, be interviewed or if none of these, perhaps paying for an advertisement. The point is this: getting your book cover in front of YOUR AUDIENCE!

I like this way of thinking because....:

1. It allows you to focus in on a specific reading group. The old adage applies here. If you shotgun your promotion efforts all across the social media board without a rudder, it's possible no one will see it. But if you focus in on specific peeps who might belong to your tribe, then it's possible everyone sees it.

2. You only have to go as far as your computer to make this work. Whether you're sitting in your bedroom or in a gondola in Venice, Italy, you can become an effective marketer so long as you have an internet signal.

3. Cost. It's potentially free, that is you decide not to pay for advertising.

4. Your audience will grow exponentially so long as you have written a good book. In other words, if it's a good read, the people who frequent these sites will chat it up, and your next book....again if it's good...will probably do even better and so on, and so forth.

So, I applaud my agent here.

But here's where I'm a little sticky with the marketing thing. Much of the sample plan is rooted in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It talks about driving/flying all over kingdom come and doing books signings. It talks about spending hundreds if not thousands on Bling. Yes, that's right. Bling. You know, T-shirts, pins, key-chains, pocket protectors for that nerdy engineer in your life. It talks about driving all over the place to do readings.

Here's my take on this, let's call it old fashioned approach: Unless you are already Stephen King, it doesn't work for shit. Not only will it not work for shit, it will end up costing you money. Book stores are dying while, at the same time, on-line purchases are on the rapid increase. However, if you can find a book store that will grant you a signing as a virtual unknown, it's likely you will sell only a few copies, if you are lucky. In the end, you will have put out gas money, dough for a hotel, plus incidentals like food, and booze...and believe me, if the signing is a total no-show-whiff, you'll want to have a couple of drinks later. You will wake up the next morning with a mustard on your new book cover T-shirt, hungover, and entirely in the red before the tour has even gotten off the ground.

But wait, can't you land a series of readings????
I'm sure you can try with the help of a publicist who might run you anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per month. But beware, unless you are the hot lingerie model pictured above or Tony Bourdaine with a highly popular cable television show that focuses on exotic locales you can only dream of seeing, you are not only going to be invited to speak without pay, it's very likely no one will show up. Again, it'll be another red letter day.

Hey listen, I love my agent. He just scored me a major deal and we have a lot going for us right now. All I'm saying is, folks, forget the old ways of marketing. They might work to a slight extent, but then I could probably pull out the old 8-track player and pop in that Casey and the Sunshine Band tape and let the good times roll. But it doesn't beat my Pandora account or my I-pod. Now there's progress.

What you need to do as authors, is focus on internet, on social marketing opportunities, your blog, your Twitter posts, your Good Reads, You Tube, and Google+ accounts and more.Seek out those 100 prime sites that will  help you focus in on your audience. If you hire a publicist, make sure she or he focuses almost entirely on online promotion and virtual tours for each one of your titles. Only when this solid foundation of internet marketing has firmly been established, and your e-book editions are selling in or around the 10,000 and less range consistently, should you begin to spend time on book signings and readings. What was once a primary marketing consideration is now of secondary importance.


Because e-Books are becoming the dominant form in which we read.


  1. And if the online thing doesn't work, do signings in sexy underwear?

  2. lots of good info thanks

  3. Very good advice, thank you for this.

  4. My takeaway from this is that I need to start writing porn.

  5. The correct term Ben is Erotica. I take great joy in that everyone knows I didn't pick that picture and I'm prosocial media all the way!

  6. Come on, aren't you going to share his tips? :) And everyone likes porn.

  7. I'd probably get kicked out of Victoria's Secret for trying to buy an outfit like that, lol. But your logic is sound.

  8. Why not just hire the model to attend each book signing? The line would stretch for blocks...

  9. Like how you narrowed down what promo stuff works today. My problem is finding time to do both.
    Write and keep up with the social media. But then, everyone's in the same boat.

  10. I've modeled recently - maybe I can pull out a few of those outfits and poses when I have some book signings? LOL :)

  11. Thanks for the post even though I don't have a clue how to go about it. Congrats on you major deal!