How to market your book, part 1
I’m going to be speaking to Sisters in Crime in April about book marketing, and my journey through the dizzying world of how to place and sell your book.
So let’s start with the basic question: What is marketing?
Here’s the dictionary (dot com) definition:
“the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising”
OK, so here’s another, more specific definition that I found on a marketing blog called Hubspot:
Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company’s product or service. Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.
Here it is, rewritten for me:
Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your book. It pertains to all aspects of the publication process, including research and writing; publication and distribution; and sales and advertising.
In other words, if I want to get people interested in my book, then everything I do that relates to my book is a marketing opportunity.
So how does THAT work? I mean, when I’m researching, I’m up in the library, chest-deep in tomes about crime and punishment in post-colonial New York. Or I’m trawling old travelogues on the Library of Congress website. How is that a marketing opportunity?
Or, when I’m writing, I’m either slumped over a desk in the quiet section of the Silver Lake Library, or wedged into a dark corner of the Los Feliz Starbucks. Marketing myself how, exactly?
OK. Time to back up a bit. Because I have some good news.
It is true that the book publishing landscape has changed radically over the last decade or so. Distribution and has been turned on its head by the Internet. Sales have been roiled by Amazon, ebooks and audiobooks. Marketing has been disrupted by social media. But the good news is that, in reality, nothing has changed. Books get traction the same way they always have: by recommendation. In the past that recommendation might have been via a trusted reviewer in a newspaper, or a friend who shares a reader’s taste. Today the recommendation might be through someone you follow on social media or whose newsletter or podcast you subscribe to.
If, like me, you grew up with the old ways, this new world can be confusing. But here’s some more good news: this new world, while labyrinthine and anarchic, actually offers many more opportunities for marketing and publicizing your book than the old one. Gone are the days when a handful of reviewers held the careers of most of the world’s writers in their hands, and authors lived or dies by their appearance in a newspaper column or talk show. Today we have proliferation of gatekeepers: blogs, vlogs, podcasts, newsletters, all the social channels: there are so many more ways to get the word out than there used to be. And this new world is even better for genre writers, who are able to reach their people much more effectively via niche fan sites on the internet.
It all boils down to the same point, that the secret to a book’s success is still word of mouth, and the good news is there are now many more mouths out there to spread the word.
So, how to get your book in front of those mouths? (Or the people with those mouths, anyway.)
I’ll be writing about that next week.