Blogger: Mary Keeley
The more I talk to writers at conferences and review proposal submissions, I find most aren’t fully aware how important a part their personal marketing efforts play in their chances of getting an agent and then a contract. It’s always easier to respond positively to realities when we understand them. With that in mind, here is a quick review of publishing realities.
It’s been drilled into you from every direction that quality of your writing is paramount. And it is. So you involved yourself in a good critique group and responded to constructive advice from your critique partners through numerous drafts. You’ve attended writers conferences to learn, grow, and introduce yourself to agents and editors. And perhaps you also hired a professional to evaluate and/or copyedit your manuscript for grammar and punctuation cleanup.
Congratulations, you’re halfway to being prepared for submission.
Here’s where business reality comes in: You are the primary marketing engine for your book. Agents and editors want to know you know that. Whether you’re an unpublished, a mid-list author, or even a best-selling author, the personal marketing plan in your next proposal can be a make-or-break issue.
Because publishers know–and you need to know as well–that getting your first contract may depend on the audience you have already accumulated as an indication of sales potential for your book. Published mid-list authors have the same challenge, in that sales of their first book or series must be great and increasing with each new book in the series if they hope to get the next contract.
Most publishers’ annual marketing budgets will be spent on their best-selling authors because that is where they have the most reliable return on their investment (ROI) in terms of revenue from book sales. I can’t fault them for this. It wasn’t always that way, but along with the economic downturn in 2008, wheels were set in motion that have changed the publishing industry forever.
You know those wheels: self-publishing, e-book publishing, and the resulting epidemic of brick-and-mortar closures. We need to support those whose doors are still open, especially Christian bookstores and also Barnes and Noble, as often as possible, and pray they stay afloat. This year I’m committing to purchase books at the Christian bookstore 20 minutes away from me. If I can’t find the book I’m looking for there, I’ll go to the Barnes and Noble 15 minutes away. But I digress.
Trimming staff and cutting production costs (cost of goods or COG) was necessary for publishers to survive. For a few years Christian publishers were viewed as greedy disrespecters of authors because they wouldn’t go above the 25% royalty rate for e-books. But we came to realize the COG savings from their e-book publishing was keeping them in business when the COG for print books was rising and sales were declining. Who among us wants to see Christian publishers close their doors? What traditional source could Christian authors go to that could be relied on to consistently maintain the Christian message and worldview in your books?
Understanding these dynamics, make time in your writing schedule to focus on the second half of your preparation for submission. Debut and mid-list authors can expect the following marketing efforts from their publisher:
- Review copies will be sent to media outlets in hopes of having a review published in the magazine or on the website.
- Someone in the publicity department will alert media and perhaps try to schedule radio interviews for you.
- Your book will be listed in the publisher’s catalog.
The remaining work is the author’s responsibility. Details about the following items should be included in your proposal:
- Grow your audience through social media, your author website, and blog. All your comments, posts, and website content should relate to our brand and your book.
- Network with influencers and ask them to read your book and possibly promote it.
- Contact radio and TV stations, bookstores, churches, and organizations to let them know about your book and to request interviews, readings, and signings.
- Offer free copies and contests on your blog, which will draw followers to your website where they can easily click on the “Purchase” buttons you installed to buy your book immediately, while their interest is at its peak.
- Additional efforts personalized for you and your book. Be creative!
Do you have a positive attitude toward doing the bulk of marketing for your book? What creative ideas are you planning to initiate for your book?
Create a detailed marketing to include in your book proposal. Click to Tweet.
Build your audience at the same time you are writing your book. Click to Tweet.
Understanding industry realities fosters a positive attitude toward marketing your book. Click to Tweet.