I know, it sounds a. Silly, b. Pointless, and maybe even, c. Delusional.
But one of the things I learned from
stalking reading the Books and Such blog is that there are things you can do to start the marketing process for your yet-to-be contracted book.
So, even though I don’t have any books out yet, I’m doing lots of marketing stuff. (Don’t you just love my way with words? It’s unbelievable I haven’t been published yet.)
While I’ll have much more to work with as far as marketing goes, once I have a book contract, here is how I am working on marketing my books before they are published:
Building an email list
This is also part of my platform, but it will be key in marketing my books someday, as well. I do this right now mainly by getting sign ups for my newsletter. I offer it in several places on my website, I have a sign up form on Facebook, and anytime I am speaking, I get sign ups for my newsletter there, too.
Some glorious day, I’ll be able to send this email list the news that my book is being released soon and they should check it out. If I waited until I had a contract to get to work on this, then I would be starting from scratch and trying to build a list while also getting my book ready for publication.
A One Sheet is a single sheet of paper that reads like an advertisement for a book, sort of like what you’d read on the back cover. I make one for each book. I design my own One Sheets and find images that suit my books and try to make the overall feel of the One Sheet reflect the tone of my books. I usually do this as I am starting to write the book, then change and tweak it as the book evolves over time. I used my first one sheet to pitch to my agent when I first met her.
I usually include the One Sheet along with the Book Proposal. Here is a great post on How To Create a Compelling One Sheet.
The Book Proposal
The Book Proposal is what you’ll send to an agent or editor after you’ve piqued their interest with a query and they ask for a follow-up submission. You’d never send it to someone unless they requested it. But you should absolutely write one so that when someone does request it, you can send it right away.
Once a book is finished, I’ll spend about a week or so writing the proposal for it. This includes a brief description, a complete synopsis, a marketing plan, information about me and about my platform, and a section that compares my book to others on the market. Don’t tell my writing friends, but I actually enjoy writing proposals! It uses a different part of my brain than fiction does and it gets me excited about selling my book.
I’m kidding about not telling anyone… it’s just rather common to dread the proposal-writing process. But if you tackle it step-by-step and break it into manageable chunks, it isn’t that intimidating. And writing a proposal can really help you see your book in a different light, that is, in the eyes of a potential reader. That’s a good thing.
If you’d like more information, this article is a good starting point: How to Write a Book Proposal.
Planning a Book Launch
As I write, I’m collecting ideas for launching the book I’m writing.
For each book, I have giveaway ideas, promotional ideas, unique factors to include, book launch party ideas, and more. I strategize ways I can get my book shared in ‘real life’ and online and I come up with a loose plan for promoting it.
I have pages of notes and ideas for putting together a launch team, or street team– a group of people that will read my book and post reviews and help promote it. I add book-specific ideas to those notes, too.
I gather ideas like this, so that when the time comes I am ready to go. And also because it’s just plain fun. It kind of brings a rational dimension to my daydreaming.
It’s also going to save me buckets of time when I am pressed to actually plan a book launch.
Things I’m Not Doing So Well:
For everything I am doing to market my someday-books, there is something I should be doing, but I’m not. I could blame time management, but in my case most of the things I’m not doing come down to me needing to break out of my comfort zone. While I’m working on this in some areas, like Speaking, I am still working on it in other areas, like the ones listed below.
That being said, now that I’ve admitted these shortcomings, I’ll have to work even more quickly to rectify them. I think my reluctance towards some of these steps are quite common in writers, and I also think that having a book contract would make me more comfortable in these situations.
Getting to know local booksellers
I visit our three local bookstores regularly, but I’ve never made an effort to get to know the owners or managers. I should be doing that and developing relationships so that I can better serve their stores when I have books being sold there. But I’m shy with new people and also an introvert, so it’s no surprise that this is something I’ve been putting off.
Growing a reader list with physical addresses
My reader list with physical addresses is pretty small. I’ve learned (from Books and Such) that I need to have an ongoing list of contact information for anyone specifically interested in reading my books. The idea is that I can keep them updated–for instance, if I have a book event someday, I can send invitations out to everyone on my list that lives in a 50-mile radius from the event.
Just talking about my books in general
Again, I am not good with selling myself or even responding well when someone reaches out to me. I’ve had many people tell me they can’t wait to read my books, but I’ve only added a handful of them to my Reader’s List because I am the antithesis of pushy.
I had a friend ask me for over a year for a copy of a workshop I did and I couldn’t bring myself to give it to her because deep down, I thought that if I gave it to her, she would think that I thought she needed to hear it, even though SHE’S THE ONE WHO ASKED ME FOR IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
I am ridiculously awkward when it comes to even coming close to promoting myself.
So I need to force myself out of my comfort zone and when someone tells me they want to read my books, I need to start being okay with saying, “That’s great, why don’t you give me your address I’ll send you a note when it comes out.”
Because right now, just writing that makes me cringe.
I think it’s good to be aware of the areas we need to grow in, because then we can actively work on those things. And since this is a series about my life as a pre-published writer, I figured I’d be honest. Most of us don’t have all of these things down, and I’m guessing lots of published writers don’t, either.
So don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t consistent in building a platform, or you only write in bits and spurts. Just keep growing and moving forward a little bit every day, and when the timing is right, it will all come together.
Read the entire series here: Life of a Pre-Published Writer. Next up…Learning. It never stops!