Wednesday, March 15, 2006

PTC #3

3. Budget Marketing: What can be done about marketing for writers with a $2k advance?.

1. Get as much marketing and marketing support as you can (politely) wrangle out of your publisher. Ask your editor and your agent for marketing ideas and advice. Find out if you've been assigned a publicist, make contact if you have and ask their advice. Ask your editor if there is a more established author at your imprint who would be willing to place an excerpt of your novel in the back of their next book. Talk to pros you know at your publisher or who write in your genre and ask them for ideas and advice. Contact your local booksellers, meet store managers in person and see what they're willing to do to help hand-sell your book.

2. Think outside the bookmark/widget/con circuit box. Example: Last week I met author Ed West at a local quilt show. At these shows you usually find quilts, quilters, quilt shop booths and quilting demos by the local guild, but never authors, so it was a nice surprise to meet him.

Mr. West set up a table with his books and talked to ladies as they made the rounds. He had a reproduction quilt from his novel set up as a backdrop behind the table, and he and his wife (I assume that nice lady was your wife, Ed) were dressed in period costumes. He happens to be a warm, marvelous speaker and an expert on period quilts and quilting, and sold three books in the five minutes I stood there listening to him.

3. Use the Internet; it's free. Set up a weblog, they're free. Become active in the author blogging community. Jump in discussions (like this one) about budget marketing and brain storm. Do the same at writer communities with discussion boards. Add a link to your web site/weblog to your signature block. Put up excerpts from your book on your web site. Have interesting contests to giveaway galleys, ARCs or final editions of your book. Answer author surveys (the one I answered for Mad Max Perkins led to a featured interview on his blog.) Don't SPAM anyone, but make yourself available for interviews to bloggers and other publishing-related web sites.

4. Use the media. Send out a press release to local, state and national media. If you do this, read up on press releases and how to write them (also see PR Web link below) effectively. Write articles for trade web sites and magazines about your author experience and submit them for consideration (free promotion which you get paid for, and most allow you to put a web site link in your end-of-article bio.)

5. Invest only in promotion that a) you can afford and b) is proven to boost book sales. I wish I could give you a list, but most book advertising services promise a lot and don't deliver much in the way of statistics. As with suggestion #2, look for something unique that makes you stand out from the pack.

Related Links:'s article Low-Budget High-Impact Marketing Plan.

PR Web's How to Write a Press Release that Gets Noticed by the Media.

Voices of Hope's .pdf format article Self-promotion on a Shoestring.


  1. Anonymous4:05 PM

    Very helpful, Alison, thanks for the link.

  2. Anonymous7:00 PM

    My current publisher doesn't do excerpts (that I've seen) but they do "upcoming releases" which have a one-page synopsis for a new book. I don't yet know how they decide which announcement goes in which book, but that's something I'll have to investigate soon.

    Another idea that I think PBW might have used is to excerpt yourself in your own book. If the timing works out, you can string along a reader with your next upcoming book. Or if you write in more than one genre, you might be able to attract a different audience.

  3. Anonymous7:38 PM

    This is going to be vague, but you know on Amazon where they have those things where if you buy the book you were searching for, plus another book, you get a discount on both??? Well, you can nominate your own book to be paired with another author's, if they would attract a similar readership. I think you have to pay for this, but, IIRC, it wasn't hugely expensive.

    This would be a great idea for a couple of first-time authors, to pair up their books to maybe increase both their sales. Also, if you can get paired with another author who sells well, that's got to help your sales, too. Maybe people don't buy the two books together, but maybe they click on over to your book's page.

    Amazon has a lot of marketing features for authors and publishers.

  4. Promo and marketing is my least favorite part of being a writer, but there are a few things I picked up and it's one of the few topics being discussed that I know at least a little bit about.

  5. Anonymous2:33 PM

    Re: writing message boards. When I made the decision to focus on my writing as full-time as possible, making major changes to my life, I also abandoned much of the internet chat that had been a big part of my life. I only came back to a writing board when I was desperately seeking an answer to a question.

    (Background: At the time I had completed novel #1 and was unagented. Now I am agented and working on Novel #2 while my agent sells novel #1. I write commercial fiction.)

    I found a bunch of people who had no background or experience but who were more than willing to tell me what to do. Luckily, one actual writer, who had encountered my situation, wrote to me off-line and also said, psst, come over to these boards, real writers hang out here.

    What I discovered is - yes, people are supportive and chatty, but I don't see much difference between those forums and the other message boards/forums I used to hang out in! People are snarky, bitter, waste lots of bandwidth about what they ate for breakfast.

    Now, I realize that in genre fiction this may be way different, but how is hanging out at a place like Readerville or Backspace (and I am not attempting to diss their proprietors or the people who find value in the spaces) going to help my career? Wouldn't that time be better spent brainstorming a plot line for novel #2 or reading a book or even vacuuming up some cat hair or getting a load of laundry done?

    Thanks. I appreciate the no-frills advice here (and I mean that as a compliment).

  6. Anonymous12:59 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Above deleted comment was SPAM. I'm closing this post's comments to prevent more of the same.