Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest post by S.M. Boyce, on marketing your novel

S.M. Boyce is a fantasy and paranormal fiction novelist who recently published her debut novel The Grimoire: Lichgates. Boyce updates her blog weekly so that you have something sarcastic to wake you up in the morning. Also, her Creative Writing degree entitles her to both be pompous and serve you french fries.

She has been actively marketing her new novel and offered to talk a bit about what she’s learned. Feel free to get in touch with her and to connect online, since she loves meeting new people (all links and details at the end of the post).
Hey guys! Laura has graciously let me take over her blog for today to talk to you about marketing your novel.

It’s important to remember that I wrote this post with the assumption that you’ve already listened to the number one rule of authorship: write a good book. It sounds pretty basic, I know, but your prerequisite for reading this blog post is to either have a unique, well-written novel or be in the process of writing one. All set? Awesome, let’s keep going.

People tell me that marketing daunts them, and I can understand that. Those who are used to listening to radio and TV ads may think that they have to also push, push, push…and that is usually about as much fun as a root canal.

Thing is, there are multiple kinds of marketing and selling. Yes, once of them is the targeted “push” method of 30-second advertising sound-bites, but that’s a tough racket. I’ve found much more success in social networking. I’m sure you know that social networking is a powerful tool, but let’s talk for a minute about just how important it really is.

Social networking is all about starting a conversation. That means you as the author are there to share.Keep in mind that not everyone will be interested and not everyone will like your book.

The key is to find your marketing balance between polite and confident. You should have a healthy self-assurance about yourself and your book when you’re marketing, but absolutely no one wants you to post thirty tweets a day about your book – that will get you unfollowed and unfriended faster than you can blink. But if you feel uneasy, you’ll come off as such. People won’t be as inclined to listen, much less go on to share your message with their friends. Approach interactions with a confident and open-minded manner and people will receive it that way. If you care about your book and believe that it’s an amazing product (see blog prerequisite) then you’re not really selling…you’re spreading the word.

The Road to More Readers

There is no cut-and-dry path to success.

Oh, were you expecting a list? Sorry, that’s not how this works. If there was a rulebook, everyone would read it and then those steps would become obsolete. Truthfully, I think the steps most successful people take often bring them success simply because no one else has thought of doing it that way before.

Have a marketing plan full of all the ways you’re going to get yourself out there. Add to it constantly. If one idea fails, move onto the next. Don’t give yourself time to become disappointed, because I can tell you right now that not every one of your ideas will work, and that’s okay. Your goal, in the end, is to be seen as many places as possible. Stick to it and don’t give up. Find what works for you, your target audience, and your book, and build on that.

The way I see it, there are really only three set rules to being successful in crowded markets:
1. Most of what has been done once probably won’t work again.
2. Be creative, innovative, and new.
3. Be assertive but polite.

Basically, you need to be different and innovative. Do new things. Come up with creative ideas. Think outside the circle that’s outside the box.

Step #3 was really more of a personal observation. You don’t want to give up too easily (hence, the assertive), but you don’t want to piss people off (hence, the polite). I have heard of authors sending bloggers death threats because the blogger either didn’t write a favorable review or didn’t write one at all. Seriously?

I know that you’re above this, but it disappoints me that any authors do this at all. If someone doesn’t like your book, thank them for their time and move on. You can’t please everyone and you’ll go crazy if you try.

Some Ideas

So now that we’ve shaken off the thought that there’s some sort of step-by-step guide to making everything work perfectly, let’s work with that clean slate.

There are two significant tips I have to successfully market your book:
1. Be everywhere at once.
2. Forge lasting relationships (not one-night stands!).

Successful marketing is all about being everywhere at once. Be everywhere you can. Work with everyone you can. Talk to everyone you can. When someone asks you if you want to do something, the answer should be “Sure!” unless it’s going to hurt you in some way (that Nigerian prince isn’t really going to send you any money). “I don’t feel like it” won’t really cut the cheese.

On that same note, make friends. The fancy term for this is “networking,” but that has always struck me as a manipulative term. To me, “networking” implies that you’re only building friendships that benefit you. Don’t do that, because those relationships will flounder.

If you want to go out there and really make an impact on the literary world, do it through meeting as many amazing people as you can. Talk to them on Twitter. Facebook them. Plus one their book on Google+. Start email conversations about books you both like and, hell, the weather. Go to their blog and leave a comment. Follow their blog if it’s interesting. Review their book on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Smashwords (if applicable). Critique their stories on Scribophile or Critique Circle.

*Catches breath* You know what? Go ahead and start with me. I challenge you. See my contact info below and get in touch with me. Tell me about your cats, dogs, books, marketing ideas, whatever. Make me laugh.

The point is this: there are an unlimited number of ways to meet people. If you talk about your book, fine…but don’t make that your central point of focus. In the end, you’re not really selling your book. You’re selling yourself. You as a writer are a brand: your personality, your energy, your intelligence, and your experience all factor into your online presence, which is what the internet really wants to see.

One story comes and goes. Yes, books turn into classics, but nine times out of ten people are going to love and respect the author more than the story. Go out and be awesome.

Contact S.M. Boyce
Feel free to poke, prod, and ponder in S.M. Boyce’s general direction
Boyce’s novel: The Grimoire: Lichgates


Jenny said...

I love the advice about "forging lasting relationships." I find myself irritated with authors who are all about pushing their one book on me. I want to feel like I know an author. That's what makes me pick up the NEXT book! Great article.

Philip said...

Nice post. You're right...I'm more inclined to look into more someone's art or work if they're interesting and engaging, rather than if they bombard me with book-selling shtick.

S.M. Boyce said...

Thanks, guys! I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking that relationships are the best way to market oneself.

Joseph Randle said...

The only thing I learned from a very reliable person in my life is that "Market your product even before it's release." and as far as I have observed,it does works all the time. Just like having a trade show giveaway ideas in the podium.