Managing the Marketing & Publishing Mystery for Authors

Wouldn’t you love to know how to make your book that you’ve worked so hard on successful?  I attended a presentation by a publishing and marketing expert  – Sharon Goldinger.  Sharon is the owner of PeopleSpeak and the president of the Publishers Association of Los Angeles (PALA).  She is a book shepherd and publishing and marketing consultant.

Sharon explained, you have to have an elevator speech on the tip of your lips at all times.  In 25 words, you need to be able to spark the person’s interest and make them want more.  Then wait, and let them absorb what you said.  Hopefully you have tickled their curiosity and they will ask for more information.  Be ready with another 50-word compelling discourse about your amazing book, so that they can’t take another breath without buying it.

You have to thoroughly know your reader.  Pick 3 distinct audiences and you can even do a vision board – what do they look like, watch on TV, and how do they spend their free time? Start out narrow and then broaden your reach.  As we approach the holidays – would your book be a great item for a gift under the tree?  Surely your book would be just right for Jacob for one of the eight days of Hanukah.

In today’s whirling evolution of the publishing world, change is the only constant.  Good luck keeping up with it.  In our discussion about the differences between traditional and indie-publishing, Sharon emphasized to be sure to thoroughly read contracts and if it’s too technical or boring – hire a professional.  You don’t want any painful surprises!  If you hire freelancers to help deliver your baby, make sure you have a contract with each spelling out their responsibilities.  As writers we all know, sometimes, we have something in our heads that an editor finds didn’t quite make it to the page.  This is not the time for those kinds of mistakes!

In choosing between indie, traditional or a hybrid, first examine your publishing goals.  Is the book for your family’s eyes only, or do you have dreams of being the next Stephen King?  It matters.  Will your choice impact people’s perceptions of the quality of the content or the marketability for your genre?  If you want to be a financial success, your book must be presented in a professional manner – don’t get caught with your margins the wrong size.  To publishing professionals, it’s no prettier than trying to squeeze a size 20 body into a size 10 pant : (  The Chicago Manual of Style is the industry standard.  Make sure your cover artist is a book cover designer – not your brother who is pretty good at paint-by-numbers.  Don’t give people an obvious reason not to take your book seriously.  Know without any doubt – WHO OWNS the intellectual property?  “Self-publishing service” companies can be tricky – how much is it going to cost you to buy your own book copies?

For marketing, pick your poison (my term, not hers : ) Sharon says that ideally, marketing should start 2 years in advance of publication. There’s a plethora of choices out there – choose the one that fits your personality AND also inspires you to act.  If posting on Facebook gives you a stomach ache because you don’t care about reading what Aunt Martha had for lunch today – don’t do it.  To get any traction, you have to post at least twice a day!  There are so many options.  Facebook still has a big impact, but there’s also Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram – the list continues to expand. Would a series of YouTube videos or Ted Talks make sense? See what works for you.

Make a marketing plan.  Write down the tasks you are comfortable with, or at least can tolerate doing such as: writing blogs for your own website, guest blogging, writing articles, speaking, teaching classes, and webinars.  What makes sense for your time constraints and personality?  If you are planning to blog, create an idea list of 52 topics.  You can probably use the chapters in your book to develop ideas.  Research who else blogs on your subjects and stalk them.  Make thoughtful comments. Sometimes you can get a guest blogging gig from your efforts.

Sharon says that speaking is the easiest way to make money and the best way to connect with people.  Back of the room sales or bundling your books as part of the ticket price for your appearance can yield good returns on your time investment.  Be sure to have a sign-up sheet to capture your audience members who are interested in following you.  This builds a permission-based readership.  Then consolidate this data into email software such as MailChimp or Constant Contact and stay in touch with your readers.

As you can see Sharon provided some great tips for authors trying to navigate the turbulent waters of publishing and marketing.

As always, I invite you to Join Me on My Journey…