- The single most important marketing strategy is to write a good book. If you've done that, then the second most important thing is to write another good book. Word of mouth is the best marketing scheme ever. It only happens if you write a good book.
- A good review is worth its weight in gold. Believe me, I know; I've been super-blessed in that department. You can't force, engineer, or ask for a good review. See point 1 about writing a good book.
- Do a public speaking course, and then practise at local events. Practise until you're so used to getting up in front of random strangers that it becomes a chore and not a terror. I've had some public speaking experience in the past. I can't begin to tell you how important it was to be able to get up in front of a crowd and feel confident.
- Blog if you have something to say. Do not blog if you have nothing to say. Some people are natural bloggers, and to my surprise, I appear to be one of them. (I would never have guessed, seriously.) An unattended, trivial, or boring blog is worse than no blog.
- Book trailers. I looked into it very closely, asked people, surveyed GoodReads, asked you, my fine readers of this blog. As far as I can tell, a good trailer is unlikely to generate noticeable sales, but a bad trailer is capable of turning people away. Most trailers are the video equivalent of powerpoint. Don't do it, unless Spielberg is your second cousin.
- The social networking thingies...use them if you would have anyway. Do not use them if the sum total of your communicative desires is, "Buy my book."
- Even if you love social networking, don't try and do everything. That way lies madness and unbelievably low productivity (see point 1 about writing a good book). Pick two sites. Personally, I loathe facebook but rather enjoy Twitter and GoodReads.
- Bookmarks, postcards, and other stuff generally known as "swag". I have a handful of guitar picks labeled Felonious Jazz. Bryan Gilmer was giving them away at Bouchercon 2009. It's the only swag that ever caught my attention. Bookmarks are hugely popular and totally worth your while. Some people actually collect author bookmarks for their own sake. Postcards are for posting to library buyers and indie stores, to let them know your book exists. The problem with postcards is printers have minimum orders, and you don't need more than about 400. If my library sales and indie orders are any indication, then the system works, but to be honest I suspect it was the reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal that really prompted buyers.
Gary's thoughts on book marketing, draft #1
Since I'm now a little bit along the publishing path, I thought I'd stop for a moment to offer my thoughts, such as they are, on book marketing. I called it draft #1 because I speak from my vast experience of precisely one recently published novel. Come back this time next year and I'll probably say something different.