TO MARKET, TO MARKET, TO SELL A FAT BOOK

By Marsha Hubler

www.marshahubler.com

Done wrote me a book on a whim or a dare,

Published it then with explosive fanfare,

So what should come next in the writing game?

Marketing, of course, to broaden my fame.

But where to begin? And where do I start?

Peddling downtown with my books in a cart?

How about the TV, radio, or online?

If I sell just ONE tome, oh, twill be so fine.

Ah, yes, the marketing game.

I’ve met hundreds of authors over the past twenty years since I’ve started writing to publish, only a handful ever telling me that they enjoyed marketing their work. I think those few had some kind of degrees in business and were quite successful in their financial stratosphere before they ever considered tackling writing as a profession.

Then there’s the rest of us. We who love to think, and stew, and write, and rewrite. We who detest promoting and marketing our books because it’s such a waste of our precious time that could be spent in front of our computers. Our minds are constantly aggravated with this daunting question: how can we budget our time successfully so that we can exercise our creative juices, yet get out there and sell a book or two?

When Zonderkidz released my Keystone Stables Series in 2004 and 2005, I looked for ways to promote and market the six books without investing much money. Why? I didn’t have the bucks. Even though the books were published by a well-known Christian publishing company, I knew that my sales depended mostly on my efforts. So with a shoestring budget, I set out to peddle my wares.

Over the course of the past six years I’ve found that I could “sell a book or two” without investing a lot of cash, but I did have to invest a lot of time. I must have done something right because the first book in my Keystone series, A HORSE TO LOVE, has become a best seller.

Borrowing a handful of notes from my writers’ workshop Power Point presentation, I’d like to share with you some marketing ideas. Perhaps you can fine-tune these strategies to fit your specific needs. I guarantee that if you convert a few of these ideas into action, you will sell your books. Remember, it doesn’t take much money. It does take a lot of time, but I believe you’ll find that it’s time well spent.

  1. As soon as your book comes out, call all the local newspapers and radio

stations.  They are usually very interested in doing an interview or feature

article with photos about a local author and his/her book. If you live near a TV

station, try your best to connect with them for an interview, news flash, or

guest appearance on a talk show.

  1. Print your own business cards with your book cover featured on it. Put the cards in envelopes when you pay bills and leave the cards with tips in restaurants.
  2. Start your own website, get on Facebook, and look for “free advertising” websites.
  3. Link your website with other authors’ websites for more exposure and look for writers’ websites that do book reviews.
  4. Offer speaking services to your target audience. This venue has sold more books for me than any other. The first two years my books were out, I spoke an average of about once a month in churches, schools, and community groups.
  5. Offer special deals such as “Buy two books, get one free” or offer a small token gift with book purchases. I offer plastic horse models with the purchase of four books or more. I have a friend who gives out daffodils with each purchase of her book. Another author friend gives a fancy curly-Q bookmark with each purchase.
  6. Offer to do book signings at bookstores and businesses that would attract your readers. However, always ask to have your signing on a special sales day or before a holiday. Last fall, I had a book signing at a COLE’S HARDWARE store on their big sales day of the year and sold more books than at some bookstore signings.

As you analyze these suggestions and plan your own marketing strategies, be as creative with this necessary part of writing as you are when you’re pecking away at your keyboard.

So load up your cart, put a smile on your face, and hit the highways. Your own best seller is right around the corner.

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Splashing About Titles

By Lisa Lickel, author of Meander Scar

Quack! ‘Scuse me while I wiggle my feathers. Thank you, Brenda, for this opportunity to swim in your pond. I love splashing in new waters.

Hmm, when did I realize I was out of formation? Probably the first time I foundered when some fellow multi-published authors, an editor, and my agents did not like my choice of title for my newest release. I mean, really, who wouldn’t like a water-based title? Meander Scar. Okay, sure it’s a tad on the harsh side, but it fits the story. And the tag: Love can heal even the deepest scars. I didn’t make it up, but I like it.

Advice. Brenda thinks I could advise someone. High praise, indeed. She didn’t exactly tell me what, so let’s chat titles since I’m thinking about them. The first piece of advice is find something short and not used recently or well by someone else. You can find titles by hopping on Amazon and doing a search of something you like. I do that with all my work, even a general “google” search, too. The closest I could come was Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. I did change my title once. I used my theme Bible verse and figured that once I was famous, I could go ahead and write another book with my original title. Another title I checked was for a novel I’m calling Innocents Pray. Only one other book had that name – the non-fiction account of several nuns who were massacred several years ago. I figured I was pretty safe with my choice.

Besides not being too popular, too long, or unpronounceable, a title should fit the scope of your work. A good way to brainstorm is to begin with a one-word theme. Find quotations with that word. Books in a series are fun to name. Think of all the mystery books out now. Just like sports writers, mystery novelists come up with the cleverest titles. Something in the book can trigger a title. For instance, the above-named Innocents Pray (theme: control) takes place in a hospice with a lovely water sculpture in the lobby. I’ve named the second book after this fountain, Tears of Eden (theme: forgiveness). An earlier book of mine, Healing Grace, uses the title as a direct play on the theme and the name of the main character. Brainstorm a page full of potential titles, then go ahead and google them. Have fun. One title breadcrumb might paddle you toward another.

Which leads me to my second piece of advice about titles. Don’t fall in love with your choice. Really. If you want to see your book in print, don’t sweat the stuff if your publisher thinks your story would do better with a different title. None of my articles and my first book didn’t keep my original choice of title. The first book’s was too long, and I was okay with changing it. But that’s a whole ‘nother ducktale.’

To recap: A title should reflect the personality of the book. It should give the potential reader a flavor of the icecream she’s about to lick, and it should not disappoint. Research. While titles and ideas cannot be copyrighted, you might want to consider what the potential title means. I once chose something for an article that I had no idea was a vernacular for a gay/lesbian issue. You should use the message of your title or point to why you chose it in the first third of the story. If you’ve got something off-beat, like mine, you should at least explain it, otherwise you disappoint and annoy some of your readers into not trusting you with subsequent books. Use this title in your proposals, but be prepared to give or take other suggestions from your publisher. Some argue that titles sink or swim your work; others think a picture is the more attractive lure. Think of your audience. Go stalk the shelves at your nearest bookstore and watch what people pick up and put back down. Then go ask them why. Don’t worry – if you live in a big enough town, you’ll never run into them again.

My website: http://lisalickel.com

Come find me also on facebook, shoutlife, edgy christian fiction lovers, she writes and goodreads

My books:

The Gold Standard, a cozy mystery from Barbour

Healing Grace, an inspirational intrigue from Zumaya

Meander Scar, inspirational romance from Black Lyon

These are the links for above:

http://www.amazon.com/Gold-Standard-HEARTSONG-PRESENTS-MYSTERIES/dp/1597895253/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237984174&sr=8-1

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Gold-Standard/Lisa-Lickel/e/9781597895255/?itm=1

http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Grace-Lisa-J-Lickel/dp/1934841226/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244721331&sr=1-1

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=Healing+Grace+by+Lisa+Lickel&box=Healing%20Grace%20by%20Lisa%20Lickel&pos=-1

http://www.blacklyonpublishing.com/Lickel.html

Author: Lisa J. Lickel
ISBN: 978-1-934912-23-2
Price: $16.95 paperback
Price: $8.00 Ebook (PDF format)
Pages: TBD paperback

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