|Amy Green - Fiction Publicist at Bethany House Publishing|
By Amy Green - Bethany House Fiction Publicist
If you’re like a lot of writers, the idea of self-marketing is either A. boring, B. uncomfortable, C. terrifying, or D. all of the above.
But here’s a secret—as a writer, you already have all the tools you need to be a good marketer.
A bunch of successful, completely-unrelated-to-fiction corporations are throwing around the buzzword “narrative marketing.” Fancy marketing gurus are realizing you can’t just shout, “Buy this! Click here! Give us your money!” But when people care about a product—when you build a story around it so it has meaning—the product sells. (For examples, see any commercial that tries to get an emotional response, whether that’s a laugh or an “Aww!” moment.)
As fiction authors, you already have an advantage. Here are some ideas of how to apply it.
Know Your Characters’
This is How to Plot 101, right? As an author, you need to understand what your protagonists want and find ways to make that clear to the reader.
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On social media, you can’t go wrong by being your genuine, enthusiastic self—many readers want a personal connection with the authors whose pages they’ve “liked.” For in-person interaction, make it fun: have a giveaway, bring food, call your email sign-up a “guest book” and use a pen with a giant daisy on top. When writing that letter to librarians, think of the angle that would intrigue them—local author, a fresh look at state history, the lack of books for this age group or on this subject?
When you consider the people you’re talking to and their wants and needs instead of just what you want to say, it makes a much better experience for everyone.
In a really good story, the reason you keep turning pages into the weary, bleary-eyed hours of the night is because you absolutely must know the answer to the question: What is going to happen next?
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· Have a dramatic cover reveal . . . and tell fans a few days ahead of time that it’ll be coming. Maybe even show a tiny bit of the cover along with the date of the full reveal.
· Give fans a sneak peek of the story. Whether that’s hints about a character, a few “teaser” quotes, or an exclusive excerpt for people who are a part of your email list, readers love to see what your story is going to be about.
· Host a contest a month or so before the official release date, with the prize being early copies of your book. Be creative—have readers guess what type of restaurant the heroine runs, tell them to caption the cover image with what a character is thinking, play Mad Libs with one of the scenes of the story . . . anything goes!
Show, Don’t Tell
Hopefully, you have a critique partner who spills red ink all over “telling” phrases like, “She was hurt by his unkind words” or “Suddenly, he felt very angry.”
It’s the same with marketing. Sure, you can just state things outright. But why would you? Here are some examples:
Showing: When it comes to book covers, what draws you in? What turns you off? Join the conversation on my blog.
Telling: My book is really great! You should all go give it a five-star review on Amazon!
Showing: Here are some of my favorite reviews so far—thanks to everyone who supported my book by leaving a review during release month!
Now, will there be times when there’s nothing more to say than a headline about a free ebook deal or a new release? Sure. And that’s just fine. But whenever you can, do more than just convey information. Tell a story.
Limit Your Subplots
Yes, subplots add depth and interest to the main story. But if your romance also has a railroad tycoon trying to shut down the orphanage and a maid struggling with a murder she witnessed, and the protagonist’s mother petitioning the city to allow women in the annual horserace while simultaneously trying to reunite with her prodigal daughter, and a troupe of circus performers seeking shelter from an incoming tornado . . . you may have a bit too much going on. (I got exhausted just writing that sentence.)
In the same way, there will probably be one or two main areas where you focus your marketing. Maybe you love writing guests posts for blogs. Maybe Facebook and Pinterest are both really fun for you. Maybe you see your website as being very important and update it often. That’s your main plot.
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Here’s the bottom line, coming from an official publishing company marketer and everything: You don’t have to do it all.
Stick to your main plot for most of your self-promotion—take the thing you like best and learn more about it, get good at it, be consistent with it. Try out some new subplots from time to time, but don’t overwhelm yourself (and lose valuable writing time) by putting everything on your To-Do list at once.
Right now, everyone else in the marketing world is trying to apply the principles that you already know and use in your fiction writing every single day. Enjoy being on the cutting edge . . . and get out there and share those books with the world!
Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for all four historical releases from Bethany House this month. FOUR BOOKS-FOUR WINNERS
Tried and True by Mary Connealy,
The River by Beverly Lewis,
Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer,
A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears