Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Marketing For Today

I haven’t posted here in a couple of days, but those days have been pretty much of a whirlwind for me. I’ve been contacting a lot of people about Swords of Talera, trying to set up a couple of signings, and also just enjoying looking at the cover. I’ve always heard that the time for writers to do their marketing is “before” a book comes out. I didn’t do any marketing directed at “Swords” before it came out. This isn’t completely because I’m lazy and dumb. I do have my reasons for not doing so, some of which do have to do with marketing.

First, of course, I freely admit that I’m superstitious about talking of potentially good publishing things until I see them in front of me. Writing primarily for the small press means that, often, things will not come out when you think they are, perhaps just not on time, and perhaps not at all. I’ve been embarrassed before by telling my friends that such and such was going to be published and then having it…not.

Second, and this is a marketing related issue, I see the benefits of “pre-marketing” to be much more important if your book is going to be widely distributed in bookstores and be there on the shelves when potential buyers stop by. The purpose of this kind of marketing is to create an awareness in potential readers that the book exists and to suggest in some way that it might appeal to those readers. But if the book is going to be sold primarily online I suspect that the same rules don’t apply. So far, all of my “marketing” has been done online. I’ve sent emails to friends and have posted about the book on my blog and on various other sites/groups that I visit regularly. This worked pretty well to create an initial surge. “Swords” reached into the 8000 level on Amazon’s Sales Ranking, and hung around in the 9000 to 14,000 level for a couple of days. I know this doesn’t mean I’m going to hit the Times Bestseller list, but it felt good and I know it means that I did sell some books pretty quickly.

Third, in a way I have been doing marketing, but not marketing of a “book.” The internet has been a boon to folks like me. Strange as it may sound, I’m a pretty shy sort of fellow. I don’t make friends easily and I don’t really enjoy a lot of social events. I often feel ill at ease or even a bit awkward when there are a lot of people around. I suspect that this is true of quite a few writers, of course. But the internet has given me a forum where I can feel comfortable posting information about myself and letting people get to know me in a sort of slow, non-intense way. I also have interests in reading and writing that aren’t necessarily shared by large numbers of other folks. The net has helped me find several groups who have common interests with me, and it was after posting to those groups that the biggest jumps occurred in the Amazon sales rankings.

Some of the people who bought Swords of Talera had read my writing before and liked it. Some bought it because they love the genre and are willing to take a chance on anything new in that area. But some of them bought the book simply because they had gotten to know me online. Many of those are folks reading this blog. I appreciate you all.


Bernita said...

Your "ranking" sounds good to me - so you must be doing a number of things right!

Erik Donald France said...

This is all terrific, Charles. Forward, ho!

the walking man said...

There is a saying in retail: put the saddle on them and ride 'em till they buy.

But what you are doing is not retail as much a promotion...self promotion and promotion for the book. Charles you are an accomplished teacher, writer and author, the days of shyness are gone. You have no time for it. although this is a niche genre the basics of promotion still apply and the best form of promotion is free. word of mouth.

get a few business cars printed up with the book cover on one side and ordering info on the other and give them out to everyone you come into contact with including the grandma in the grocery store line in front of you. She may not want it but she may buy it as a gift for one of her grandkids.

Tell everyone, without over doing it, your new book just came out and can be found at so and so. They may not be interested but they may know gamers into this sort of fantasy.

I know all of this not from the marketing classes I've taken, but from turning an poetry open mic from a five person event into a standing room only crowd.

just get the word out, it is like starting a rumor, man it will be passed from mouth to ear and people will be lined up to have their copy signed by the author, a first edition signed copy of the first book of a trilogy.

Piss on that shyness, you'll find no stink comes from the coals. You have an ISBN start hitting the bookstores chains and independents and get them to put it into their catalog if they are not willing to buy five copies for the shelf. (hence the cards)

Marketing or promotion is fun, you get to meet people in your face world and spend a few minutes finding out if they really are secret readers. Maybe your book will get them out of the closet.


minus273 said...

Just ordered "Swords" from Amazon. This is the first time I've used Amazon & it's a bit strange. They recommended I buy dive watches & sports bras. Don't know why. They also said I'll get delivery on 05-17. I hate to wait, I'm big on instant gratification. Please explain again why you aren't in a regular bookstore? Barnes&Noble is 3 blocks from my home and would be easy to buy & maybe get signed. If you do get a signing set up in the Covington library, please post on your blog; I'm in Mandeville & could get to Cov. easy.
Also I'm still waiting to hear you've started a screenplay of "Cold in the Light". I loved the book(Sphynx gifted me with a copy) & it would make a terrific movie.
Anyway, Congrats on publication of "Swords of Talera". I can't hardly wait to get my copy.

Unknown said...

The walking man is right about promotion, and especially about the business cards, which can be bookmarks.

Put one in any mail you send out, too, such as bills you're paying. Put 'em on all bulletin boards, bathrooms (if you dare), and anywhere else you frequent.

The book HOW TO GET HAPPILY PUBLISHED has a lot of suggestions useful for independently-published authors.

Congrats, too, on the great cover!

Jay said...

Either way, it's a great accomplishment.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I agree, the internet is a great avenue for getting the word out. It's also a great way to kill time when you should be writing. I congratulate you on your succes.

Susan Miller said...

Just keep a huge grin on your face, know that it is really great and be yourself. I was one of those that would have never bought a book in this genre for myself. In that respect I must thank you for opening my eyes to a whole new world of reading.

Randy Johnson said...

"Swords" arrived in the mail yesterday(5/09), along with Cold In The Light from Amazon. They're going into the reading pile. Good luck with the new book.

Sidney said...

You should create the book's own My Space page to help spread the word.

AvDB said...

That's a pretty darn good ranking, considering the huge number of books for sale at Amazon. Be proud.

If there's a way I can help you promote, let me know. I'd be more than happy to lend a hand.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernita, Erik, Jay, I appreciate the support.

Walking Man, Emily, I've done some of these things, have actually read "How to get happily published," although maybe I should reread.

Sid, that's a good idea. I have a myspace page, just nothing up on it yet.

JR, the net is what I'm doing mostly at present.

minus273, I'll post here for sure when I have my signing. Make sure you introduce yourself. Glad you liked "Cold in the Light." Hope you get "Swords" soon.

Susan, glad to hear it. I periodically try new genres just to see what I might be missing.

randy, let me know what you think of the books. Do remember that "Cold in the Light" is quite a bit different from "Swords." The latter is more action/adventure while "Cold" is more horror/thriller. I'm proud of them both, though.

Avery, I appreciate that offer very much. I'll probably be taking you up on it.

Thanks everyone.

RK Sterling said...

I'm so happy for you, Charles. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Donnetta said...

I'm doing the "dance of joy" for you today, Charles! Sounds like all the above advise is pretty solid. Your hard work has paid off!

Lucas Pederson said...

And we appriciate you!
Sounds like what marketing you have done is doing just fine for your book. And besides, who needs the bestseller's list anyway? AT least you got a book published, you get to see your name on the cover. That feeling must be grand. And at least you are selling books. Some folks sometimes don't sell many books at all.
And yes, I too am uncomfortable around groups of people. I'm shy as hell, as a matter of fact. But once I get to know people, I loosen up a bit and start enjoying myself. I just gotta be patient is all.
Here's to you Charles!!!! May you publish many more books to come! Way to be.

the walking man said...

THIRD WEDNESDAY accepts classified ads related to any arts-related activities: books for sale, events, readings, performances, and happenings. Rates: $5.00 per ad, per issue. Advertising is free for a limited number of group, arts-related activities.


OR BY USPS (snail mail) To:
Third Wednesday
174 Greenside Up
Ypsilanti, MI., 48197

This is a Journal that is Published in the same town as U of M and for 5 buck you can get an ad hit their web page for poetry and short fiction submission instructions


Michelle's Spell said...

Good luck with all the marketing stuff. You make a very good point about most writers being a big shy (the profession only makes it worse) and that the internet does help with publicity. Congrats on all the success!