book promotion, book sales, marketing, Uncategorized

Promotion Commotion

I’m creating the backmatter for Maisie in Hollywood. Above is the final page in my book, a promo for Sly! The Rogue Decamps.

I’ll have to have Decamps able to be found on Amazon when book one of Maisie is printed and ready to sell. Like Perry, I plan to sell at book and art fairs and to try to get it into local bookstores.

I’m researching promotional strategies on the web. Most of what I see might work for previously published authors with a following – and an email list:

  • Post a cover reveal – Run giveaways of ARCs – Send ARCs to major publications (For sure, in my dreams!)
  • Create bonus content. (For your hordes of dedicated followers, natch.)
  • Announce a title reveal. Have your book available for preorder in time for its cover reveal.
  • Build an author street team of volunteers to incite word-of-mouth buzz. (Again, in my dreams)
  • Create an inventory of book promotion images to promote the preorder and book launch. (This I can handle.)
  • Post fun photos of the book on social media. Publish posts on sites like BuzzFeed & Medium.
  • Your mailing list! Mailing list! Mailing list!

Screw it.

Carl has his path: Get your name known by submitting to anthologies. It seems to be working for him, and good luck to him. GD and Victor have also had success with anthologies and small publishers.

I’m searching for anthologies of humor. I see nothing that fits my stuff. One looked promising until I got to: maximum 700 words.

700 words are not enough to develop any appreciable characterization. I should try it, I guess, to see what I can do with 700 words. Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t think so. I don’t want to write graphic-novel-style without the graphics.

Cover reveals on social media, do they work? I skim right past them. Does anybody pay attention to them?

Does anyone here have a substantial mailing list? How did you acquire it?

I’m counting on my eye-catching covers to drive sales. At an art fair, this may work.

I’d like to get a peek at that catalogue that book stores order from. I’m guessing a snappy title is your best bet there. Do you get to include a subtitle? How about a short description? *Sigh* Maybe the crucial piece of information is your name. Are you a known quantity?

Ah! It’s called ‘Books in Print’. I think I can get a look at it.

Speaking of titles, I’m googling titles of articles I’ve posted here and on Medium. A number of them turn up in a google search. The ones that don’t, maybe the wording is not individual enough, there are too many pieces called ‘And Away We Go’, etc.

I’ve just changed the title of this piece from blah to something more interesting.

I’ve known a lot of screwball characters in my time. I could work this or that name into a headline and have the individual folded into my story in a reasonable manner so it’s not an outright bait and switch. I might snag folks who’ve wondered, for instance, whatever became of that bad boy Richard Rheem?

Richard, a former lover of Andy Warhol, was my housemate for two years in Boston. Could I claim he inspired one of my slippery characters? He was sure he deserved more out of life than life was handing him. Yeah, he’d fit right in with my lovely bunch of malcontents.

I google him from time to time. I see a gelatin print of Richard, by Warhol, is selling on artsy.net. Asking price: $18,000! And photos from his days with Andy. I can’t find anything current. Is he still around? When I knew him he already had a couple suicide attempts under his belt.

Hey it’s just a thought.

My larger point is: we have to think outside the box, worm our way into widespread notice by any route available to us.

I’ll wrap this up: What else can I do to improve my chances of being discovered? I know, I know. Finish the damn thing.

This massive project overwhelms me. This is the way it goes with me. I start small, and my thing grows and grows. Sly, an eight-book series, started as a short story in 1985. I had drawn an image of a cat playing a fiddle for an illustration class. I decided it needed a story to go with it. Sly (his name at the time: Puss) was born.

That piece is long lost. I altered a well-known verse and explained the solid history behind it. (Many a childish rhyme was based on a real event.) I recall the verse. The story? Not so much.

Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle.
The cow jumped over Muldoon.
(A cow and a pig joined Puss’s attempt to obstruct an assassination plot. Muldoon was one of my villains.)

The little dog laughed to see such sport.
(Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, was known as Elizabeth’s ‘lap dog’)

Cavendish ran away with the spoon.

A spoon was coated with a clear glaze of poison that would dissolve when dipped in a scalding-hot mug of a treat only recently imported from the Americas–chocolate. This was the method by which Cavendish intended to commit regicide. A Catholic cleric, dressed as a member of his household, wearing his livery, was to serve the beverage and take the fall.

Book four, A Dainty Dish, was eighty-percent written. It will be substantially reworked. Why? Because I discovered John Dee, Elizabeth’s royal astrologer. My conception of the assassination plot has changed radically.

It’s just as well. The cow jumped over Muldoon . . . maybe that gem is best forgotten.

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29 thoughts on “Promotion Commotion

  1. I attended a webinar yesterday in which four authors shared the paths they followed to publication. Each story was different. One of them used “hybrid” publishing, which started with paying the publisher more than $3,000 and finished with having to do her own marketing. (Didn’t that used to be called “Vanity Publishing”?) She was committed, and repeatedly said how proud she was to have three books of a middle grade mystery series published. The other three authors had just recently had their debut books traditionally published, but had experienced a series of events to get there that would never be duplicated by anyone else. The only thing all four had in common was that their works were rejected many times before being accepted.

    It seems clear the beginning is to submit and submit and submit . . .

    Mimi, I read every word of the page promoting Sly! When I got to the bottom, I stopped cold at “He looks fierce, but he’s really a sweetheart.” Did you deliberately dismiss “but he’s really a pussycat”? The sweetheart version sounds like a pet owner explaining to someone who’s afraid of the cat. The pussycat version sounds to me like the author is inviting me in on the joke.

    You mention art fairs. Are you considering Renaissance Faires as well?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Renaissance Faires are a GREAT idea, If Mimi can have a vendor offer hard copies at their booth, I would expect “SLY: The Rogue Decamps” to sell well. The vendors tend to travel the country from Faire to Faire. And, I think the people who make their living at the RenFaires will love Mimi’s work.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Keywords. That’s like the one-word recommendation in The Graduate: “plastics.” If somebody was googling (or amazoning) for a book like you write, what words would they enter in the search bar? Finding those words, perhaps by searching any similar books (as if any book could be like yours!), then using them in your descriptions, may be your best chance of attracting readers/purchasers/avid fans.

    Liked by 5 people

      • Mimi I would think your stories are so unique that finding good keywords would be doable, and worthwhile. I just googled “cat humor,” that’s a big cat-egory. It’s a start. If you were looking for other books in the same genre as yours, what words or phrases would you search for? Once you find some, see what key words they use. You can have ten or more search terms.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Good idea but searching Amazon (Books) for “science fiction books” returns 1-24 of over 70,000 results. I suspect those 24 books were chosen by Amazon algorithms as those most likely to generate revenue for Amazon.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    Mimi, you have a plan that is more comprehensive than most I’ve seen. Keep at it, and don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t pan out right away.

    A mailing list? I met with a business consultant from the state university who showed me software that produced a name and address mailing list of men and women sorted by age, who bought books about the outdoors, and who bought fishing and hunting licenses, and who lived in my county and also in my state. He said he could plug in any variables I wanted, and the use of the software was available for free if I would come to the business department at the university. I thought the software was intrusive and devilish, I wondered how may lists I would be on, and I never used it. Maybe I should have used it.

    A neighbor with an autistic son wrote a small book about living with autism and about his hopes for his son. He did the vanity publishing thing. He isn’t someone who would go in for readings and signings, and few of the books were sold. He told me that at least the writing of the book was therapeutic. A local newspaper editor found the book and published a lengthy, glowing review in the paper (circulation 8,000), and the review sold two more copies. A shame, because parents with special needs children would be touched and encouraged by the book. How to get it in their hands? I’m not sure.

    I’ve written about a friend who published a book of outdoor stories through one of the better nearby vanity presses. His first press run was 1000 copies, and he needed to sell 700 to break even. I learned that he sold out the first run. I saw his wife at the library in town and told her I knew Dan was rich now, and celebrated, and revered wherever he went. She laughed. She said Dan put his money into another 1000 copies, and he spends all his time sitting at a card table in libraries and bookstores and a chain of grocery stores. Such is the life of my author friend.

    A great show is coming up in March that will be a shoe-in for Dan’s book, but a table starts at $600. I don’t know if he will do that.

    The few I know who make a living at writing, a couple of them must be millionaires by now, still spend a lot of time on the road, reading and signing in person.

    Liked by 5 people

    • mimispeike says:

      “. . . he spends all his time sitting at a card table in libraries and bookstores and a chain of grocery stores.”

      Something like that will be my future, I suppose. I’m ready for it. As I said, I’m up for all possibilities. Thanks.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. When my novel, The Phoenix Diary, came out, Penguin got into a fight with Amazon and Amazon dropped hundreds of Penguin’s titles, including mine. So, I advertised on Google. I set up a Google “Display Network Campaign” over the phone with a Google representative of the Google Ad Words Team. We created a Landing Page for the ads (ThePhoenixDiary.com) that included Google Analytics so we could make useful tweaks over the course of the campaign.

    The results are here, Jousting Windmills: https://writercoop.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/jousting-windmills/
    but to make the story short, my ad appeared 3,898,083 times. It was clicked on 68,481 times. I sold 15 books, most of which were bought by friends and acquaintances, at a cost of $1427.93.
    😏
    Trial & error is often how we learn new things. One purpose of the Writers Co-op is to share experiences so other writers can try them or avoid them. It will be interesting -and hopefully, valuable- to learn how Mimi’s stratagems pan out.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Mimi, I once worked a booth at the Colorado RenFaire. A friend of mine, a Wiccan Princess, sold herbs there that summer. Her husband built the booth and she and I sold the herbs. The people of the faire were friendly, hard-working and mostly pagan. The motorcycle gangs that provided security for the 15-acre medieval village were unbelievably polite men and women. A great time was had by all.

    You should spend some time at one. You might soak up enough of their spirit to create a book specifically targeted to RenFaire vendors and their customers. It could be a lucrative market.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. victoracquista says:

    Oh my gosh! Mimi, I almost don’t know where to begin. I wrote a post for the Co-op sharing my thoughts about marketing in May, 2020:(https://writercoop.wordpress.com/2020/05/11/marketing-and-promotion-musings-madness-and-misgivings/) I have new thoughts and experiences to share and a suggestion or two. I will say upfront that I have yet to reach anywhere near the kind of sales I would like to achieve despite daily efforts at marketing and promotion.

    I distinguish between “exposure” as one goal of marketing and promotion and “sales” as another goal. There are many things you can do to gain exposure using social media, writing guest blogs, being interviewed on podcasts, and a host of other things. Many of these are not costly with respect to money but they are time consuming.
    You can pay for services that promote your book, advertise, hire professional marketers, etc. The return on investment might be less than you hope for. Depending on your budget (do you have a budget?) and risk tolerance, there are opportunities to pursue.

    I would encourage you to develop a marketing plan with steps to follow and a timeline, and clear guidance to yourself on who your target audiences are. Different strategies might be needed to target different potential buyers/readers. You might also consider your “branding.” I have been encouraged to market myself as a multi-genre author. Given how colorful your characters and stories are, I think they have more traction for branding, but I am certainly not an expert.

    You might want to read this resource: https://libguides.ala.org/marketing-to-libraries/reviews about positioning yourself for outreach to librarians. I think you have something unique and librarians might be very open to consider carrying your title. Marie Monteagudo is a publicist who specializes in developing library marketing plans and her fees are modest. I have connected with her via the Authors Guild.(https://go.authorsguild.org/marketplaces/404).

    I personally think author email lists are overhyped but some authors and marketers are big fans.

    Liked by 4 people

    • As a small press editor and writer I can put that in perspective. I had great success selling a 717 page novel, just today selling the 222nd copy, largely due to a growing booktube reviewer who reviewed it a year and a half ago. Now the book is coming out from Zerogram Press, and they will likely consider anything under 5000 sold a failure.
      Rick

      Liked by 5 people

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