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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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."

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

15 comments:

L. T. Host said...

Awesome post! It's nice to start thinking about these things now, hopefully I'll be able to use your advice someday. And hopefully you'll have even more to share by then. :)

Amalia T. said...

Great post! I particularly like the advice of just picking two social networking sites and not overextending in that department. I can definitely see how it might be tempting to try and flood all of them, but you're right that it would kill your writing time.

I'm taking notes for the future even if that means my horse is falling behind the cart.

C. N. Nevets said...

Good stuff, Gary! Very practical and sensible! Thanks!

Bryan Gilmer said...

Thanks for the guitar pick mention, Gary. Thanks for the promoting tips, too.

Susanna Fraser said...

I'm just happy to have someone back me up on my anti-book trailer stance. The day I'll have a book trailer is the day I can afford directors, actors, and production values as good as the images in my head...and somehow I think by the time I can afford Peter Jackson or Ang Lee or Peter Weir, I'll be past the stage of scrambling to promote my books!

Valerie Geary said...

Great post! Good stuff to keep in mind for later. *tucks post in safe place*

Gary Corby said...

Susanna, yes, I sort of wanted to do a trailer, purely because everyone else was, but the more I looked into it, the more I couldn't justify it.

You're not alone...I've come across a few people who are anti-trailer. When I surveyed GoodReads, I discovered many readers, perhaps most, don't even visit the web sites of their favourite authors. The constantly-online people (like me!) overestimate the power of the nets.

Gary Corby said...

LT, Amalia, Nevets and Valerie,

You're already following the most important advice...you're writing good books! That's point 1.

A lot of what I've learned is that the book matters more than any amount of voodoo marketing rituals.

Gary Corby said...

Hi Bryan!

I should be thanking you for the picks! I thought it showed terrific imagination.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Ya, my bookmarks have been going pretty well. And cheap, too.

Guitar picks. Awesome.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Very helpful post, Gary! I'm curious about how authors use Goodreads...will have to check that out ( I have an account but don't do much with it).

Anne R. Allen said...

Useful and wise. Thanks!

Gary Corby said...

Hey Betsy, yes, bookmarks are the one mandatory, I think.

I don't know if I could come up with something as cool as guitar picks. Somehow a customized amphora seems a bit over the top.

Gary Corby said...

Vicky, I like Goodreads because it's highly targeted to readers. Not authors! Also, it's impossible given the way it works to divert it into general social networking, and I've yet to see a spam.

The one thing I dislike is, they've begun taking payments, I believe, for authors to promote themselves above the norm. If they continue that route it'll all become a lot less trustworthy and a lot more like marketing. The reason it works so well right now is that it's a level playing field where the readers rule.

Gary Corby said...

Thanks Anne. Useful perhaps...wise, I doubt. These are all early experiences!