Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Marketing Medusa . . . Don't Let It Overwhelm You!

This week I taped and watched a Lifetime movie a friend suggested, "Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story."  It's a story every writer should see.

I greatly admire JK Rowling's prolific gift . . . I read her story, but I was mesmerized by this film.  It showed her struggles as a young British writer to become one of the world's weathiest women.  How a single mother on welfare with a magical story went from rags to riches in 3 years.  Her beloved Harry Potter series has sold more than 400 million books worldwide, resulting in a billion-dollar film franchise.  And how she was turned down 7 times before being picked up by the Christopher Little Literary Agency in London.

Can you imagine the thoughts that went through the heads of those 7 agencies who turned her down?  It only goes to show . . . Keep on writing, keep on dreaming, and never, never give up!

"Every 30 seconds someone in the world starts reading a Harry Potter book."
I won't spoil the story by telling you more.  It can be seen at My . . . for free.

"Marketing . . . Don't let it overwhelm you."  This is what I tell myself as I sit at my desk pondering what to do next.  Marketing may appear as daunting as a ten-headed monster like the snakes of Medusa.  But I refuse to be intiminated.

Your written marketing plan will help your publisher focus on your book . . . will prove your own commitment . . . and will become a valuable reference tool throughout the publishing process. 
              -Jacqueline Deval, Publicize Your Book

My goal is to develop a well-thought-out marketing plan showing the action items I propose to market my book.  Projects I can undertake on my own, and also initiate if I elect to self-publish.  Research, I've decided, will be more fruitful if I tackle only one or two items at a time.  This will let me savor the adventure . . . rather than dread it.  This marketing plan will be presented with my book proposal, and as part of my query letter.

Notes from:   Publicize Your Book by Jacqueline Deval 
  • Qualities needed to successfully market your book are an open mind . . . curiosity . . . polite persistence . . . and a certain level of boldness
  • Keep an expense log of tax-deductible expenses: phone calls, postage, book-related business travel, express mail, Internet service provider fees, etc.
  • Your job is to provide the product, locate the audience, and then persuade them to buy.

What does your book offer readers?  Who are those readers?  How do you reach them and convince them to spend money on your book?

During my research, I watched the movie "Sideways" again . . . Miles is a distressed novelist who carries his manuscript in boxes in the back seat of his car.  While on a road trip to California's wine country with his best friend, he stops to make a call to his agent.  She regetfully tells him, "They're passing . . . really liked it, they just couldn't figure out how to market it."  He paces.  "It's a fabulous book with no home.  The whole industries gotten gutless.  It's not about the quality of the books anymore, it's about the marketing."

This scene hit me like a flying Frisby . . .

Identify the many target audiences for your book . . . . Does your book fit a specific genre, or does it fall within many?  Where will readers find your book?  Who will want to read what you've written?  These questions will narrow your focus . . .

Target audience . . . I've learned my memoir does not fit the profile of the prolific writer who plans to write multiple books on a specific genre. This adds greater importance to identifying my readers. With this in mind, I decided to target my audience as my action item for the next few weeks.  If I dig deep enough I should be able to uncover the markets I need and others I never knew existed. 

Do you know who your target audience is?

Lesson Learned . . . My Two Cents

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:  What?  You too?  I thought I was the only one.      C. S. Lewis


  1. I remind myself at least twenty-four times a day not to be overwhelmed by the arduous task of self-marketing, finding an agent, shielding myself for negative feedback, being turned down, and all that other stuff we have to do. Really, writing the book was the easiest part, which is mind boggling to me because sitting at my desk night after night and writing 126,000 words WASN’T easy. I lost time in my life, a friend or three. Sometimes I ask myself why did I do it, why do I bother, what’s in it for me? I don’t know the answers and it may all have been in vein or it may just be what I think it is, the passion that keeps me exploring life. And there I go again, answering my own questions. I remember the first time I read JK’s story. She was living on the dole (welfare) and barely making it. It’s a Cinderella story if there ever was one.

  2. Marketing can definitely be overwhelming. There are things about it that I love. Signings, school visits, book expos--they're all great. The rest of it? Ugh! But we have to market ourselves and our books. Knowing your audience is key.

  3. Ah Brenda, we're in the same boat. Writing my book at 96,000 words (revised) was the easiest part compared the this! I fondly look back at those 4AM mornings at my computer before going to work, the quietness and the joy of writing while waiting for the first bird to awake. I'm sure I'll never look back at marketing fondly. Nothing peaceful about it. Open books with highlighted pages cover and surround my desk like wild Indians on the warpath. And I too have lost time, family and friends, moved back and forth across the country and I'm still working on my book . . . but what would I rather be doing? Not sure. I do know I'm content, I've found my nitche. I've find passion, adventure, love, God, hope, humor, etc. in writing, as I found from reading when I was young. I think we all write for the same reason . . . because we found we can.

  4. Kelly - You've made my day! I now have that glimmer of hope believing there will be something to love about marketing one day. Thanks! Again, congratulations on your book. Does Dash have another adventure on the horizon? Question: Do you have a dog at home?

  5. Why not look at your marketing as a conversation? That's what I do. I market my writing blog, my writing business, and my Zazzle shops, in that way. I'm limited in that with two children and only my husband for support, I can't really get out and about so I do the best I can online with blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Squidoo, a couple of large online writing communities and newsletters. I'm a bit of a social media whore really but I enjoy it. Maybe that's the key - enjoying the conversation. Good luck.

  6. Fi - I appreciate your excellent suggestions, this world is still new to me. Ventured through some of your blog posts this morning to get a feel of your "conversation style." It's warm and inviting. Also printed your comments to file so I can find it when I'm ready to post elsewhere. Working 3 days a week throws me out of sync. I must overcome this stumbling block. Thank you for your support, I'm always open to new ideas.

  7. Hello, Nancy - good to "meet" you. Funnily enough I watched Sideways for the first time a few months ago and I was struck by the absolute veracity of the author/agent exchanges! I made me think the screenwriter had been there too, along with the rest of us somewhere along the line.