Blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
“I’m not even done with my first draft. Why should I think about pre-marketing, whatever that is?”
Marketing starts much sooner than the book’s release day. Much, much sooner. It’s not premature to start thinking about marketing before the book idea is fully formed.
Pre-Marketing Before You Write
- How will your idea translate to radio interview or guest blog material? Does it have a strong enough connection to a theme readers will care about and want to discuss?
- What special interest groups might be interested in the book you’re thinking of writing? Caregivers? Athletes? MOPS groups (Mothers of Preschoolers)? Couples in trouble?
- Start following social media groups that focus on your book’s theme or target readers.
- Will your story make it easy for a design team to create an engaging cover?
Pre-Marketing As You Write
- Your novel character surprises you with the announcement that his father was a Wounded Warrior. A subplot you didn’t see coming introduces exotic animal rescue. You use an anecdote in your nonfiction that reminds you of someone who may need a copy of the book. Take notes as you go along for your future marketing–or ministry–efforts.
- An idea hits about something from your freshly minted chapter that would make a good discussion guide question for a book club or small group. Take a moment to write it down in a file dedicated to questions like that.
- Another theme weaves its way into your story. Keep note of it for sample interview questions.
Pre-Marketing As You Edit
- You discover a line you wrote that would make a great text image for promoting the book. Keep a running list of noteworthy quotes to create those social media images.
- As you edit, you take note of motivational tips that would work together in free printable downloads. Don’t wait until the book is published to start recording those tips.
- Take advantage of opportunities to maintain a good relationship with the marketing and sales teams at your publishing house.
- What iconic items from your book or in your online searches would make good giveaway accompaniments when the book releases, or as thank you gifts for your launch team, if you plan to use one? Collect them now.
Thinking about marketing during the musing, writing, and editing stages may seem like distractions. But if we treat marketing thoughts like a soundtrack running underneath the process, our accumulation of ideas–like a snatch of a remembered song–will better equip us for the inevitable marketing efforts required of us no matter our publishing path.
What would you add to the list of pre-marketing ideas?
Perfect example of “begin with the end in mind,” Cynthia (Stephen Covey would be proud).
*I’m pretty much past the “as you write” stage, but they are the perfect backdrop to “as you edit.” Makes me eager to have another go at the early chapters.
Shirlee, isn’t that the truth? Having something to search for does make that fortieth pass through the book have new meaning! And it’s helpful to keep these thoughts in mind as any of us work on our next book, and the next.
Damon J. Gray
Like Shirlee, my manuscript is complete, but will be undergoing a number of edits, followed by a good wash and wax. This is a blog post that will be turned into a Word doc and stored in my marketing folder. Thanks Cynthia!
Thank you, Damon. When you create the document, add some of the additional ideas this community is mentioning. Great thoughts.
What a useful list from one who rides the bronco instead of just cheering from the stands!
I’d add something for those who write series. Lay out the plot for the next volume, and indulge yourself in the fun of writing the beginning, the ending, and a few high and low points in between. Then edit and polish the beginning to a mirror-like sheen so you can include it at the back of your finished novel to get readers who just finished with a happy sigh primed to want the next volume ASAP.
Also a wonderful tool. The best (and sometimes scariest) question for an author is, “That was great. What else are you working on?” Having a ready answer can win a reader for life!
Jaxon M King
I’m afraid of horses, Carol. 🙂
Just cuz they outweigh you by >700 pounds and can run 40 mph, what’s to be scared of? Male grizzly bears are about the same, except I think their max speed is closer to 35. Horses do make great supporting characters in some of my novels.
What a great topic, Cynthia! If I may, I would like to add a couple of thoughts:
* Are there Scriptural verses that describe the story’s thematic elements, and perhaps the characters? Collate them now, along with notes for upcoming blog posts and memes.
* There may be other quotations that serve a similar role; Robert Ruark’s thematic quote for “Something of Value” was a Kikuyu proverb, “If you do away with the traditions of the past, then you must first replace them with something of value.”
* Develop personality profiles for your characters using tests like Myers-Briggs or Enneagram, and work up an invitation for readers to see what they might do dealing with the same choices your characters face.
* If you’re writing a historical, or dealing with subjects or settings that are unfamiliar to many, ‘package’ your research so that you can offer it as a supplement. We have a true master of this in our own Books and Such community; you can’t visit the Roman Empire, but Carol Ashby’s got the next best thing (www.carolashby.com)
* If you’re an indie on a budget and would like to make a book trailer, and have some musical skill, why not develop your own musical score for the story, and individual musical signatures for the main characters. There are software packages like Norton’s Notion 6 that will let you do just that, and the entry-level system costs just $149. AudioMulch is another good platform. (To see an example of the development of a ‘character signature tune’, see the 2006 film “The Holiday”; it’s a nice romantic comedy, and perfect for this time of year.)
So many good ideas here, Andrew! What fun to receive a free download of an author’s map perception of the setting. And that brings us to Pinterest. I often start a private (for my eyes only) Pinterest board as I’m collecting research and images to inspire me while I write. Eventually that Pinterest board is made public so readers can walk through the “museum” of my writing process, character choices, and what that diner/cliff/boardwalk/scar really looked like as I imagined it.
On the topic of Scriptures, it works two ways. As we read our work, we’re reminded of Scriptures that address the topic. As we read God’s Word, we’re reminded of…Scriptures that address the topic!
I’ve wondered whether there are copyright issues for authors on making Pinterest boards with other’s images related to our commercial works. Can you address this, Cynthia?
Thanks for the kind words, Andrew.
The beauty of creating an informational website is its reach far beyond any deliberate marketing target. People from 107 countries have come for Roman information. Some have led to international sales I never expected, with international sales being 10% of my total sales and 7% of the total number of international site visits. I NEVER expected that kind of response and wouldn’t have known how to get it if I’d deliberately tried.
*Plus, with an informational site, you have the pleasure of helping someone find the info they need or want.
As to the copyright issues for Pinterest, I’ll look deeper into it for a future blog post. Pinterest is dependent on the concept of sharing–the more the merrier. But I know some who always make sure they include a link to where the post or image originated, if they can tell. Will dig deeper. Thanks for the nudge, Carol.
Oh my goodness Carol when I found your site I was so excited. It is a digital, online treasure of all things Roman. I can see why so many come to your site.
Cynthia, you break all of this down so practically. Thank you. I am beginning work on a new story. This post could not have come at a better time.
*I’m going to start a document (or three) with what you’ve shared here, so I have them ready when I begin writing.
Glad it could be useful, Jeanne.
These are great ideas, Cynthia. I like to create graphics with those quotes that I hope will touch hearts. I keep them hidden away on Pinterest for hopefully one day … 🙂
And sometimes, just sometimes, the quotes turn out to be the ministry/mission/purpose! Either in the heart of the author, or for the public. 🙂
Jaxon M King
I like making videos, such a teaser trailers. I use Animoto. I even made a voiced scene preview. Have to be careful to put in the time to make it of good quality though. I’ve seen some book trailers that seem to have been thrown together in one afternoon. I feel like that might actually be a negative promotion.
Somewhat intimidating topic, BTW. Thank you for addressing it, Cynthia.
Ooh. Negative promotions! Great topic for another blog!
Cynthia, I had a couple more thoughts on this…one can get up to speed for potential engagement with readers during the pre-marketing phase.
* Work out a regular blogging and posting schedule, with cross-linking so readers can find you easily and reliably on the platforms you use.
* Answer every comment, as long as the numbers are manageable. When you get too popular, and you have to cut back on replies, explain that and explain why.
* When you get birthday notifications on FB, send greetings…again, as long as the numbers are manageable. Readers like to know you care.
Andrew, so many great ideas! And you asked ME about marketing? Wow, between Cynthia, yours and all the other ideas my marketing binder.will be full and ready to help me “go forth.”
Good points, all.
It’s also helpful to think about how you can establish yourself as an authority to a subject linked to your novel.
If you’re a blogger, blogging on that subject will help Google recognize you as an expert and thus boost your numbers.
I wrote a WWI novel (still unpublished) and have wound up a queen of Pinterest for some people because I kept all my WWI research photos on Pinterest. It all helps build credibility and enlarges your territory.
Grateful for your insights, Michelle!
Oh how I love this blog. So much great info, and I really enjoy ask the input from everyone who comments.
Cynthia thanks for breaking the information into usable portions, and thanks to all of you for your valuable input. I have a binder for marketing that had some information, but this blog has given me so much more in a way I can actually understand and appropriate. Thanks again everyone.
You made my day, Elizabeth!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Great ideas, I do have a file of funny quotes as I write. They are so hard to find later. Theme topic question would be much easier to think of if I saved them as I went … thanks!
Mary Kay Moody
What a gift of a post today, Cynthia. I am working on the Marketing section of my proposal (and taking a brief break at the moment). Just love God’s timing. And your ideas. They fit so well with Rachelle’s suggestions for keeping organized yesterday.
Other ideas? I was going to mention Pinterest. Glad we got there. Also, we discussed at our writers’ group: Libraries. Make a list of general interest topics from and research done for your book. Both can launch a welcome presentation at your local library. I understand they’re often looking for programs to present to the public.
This is a great post. Pre-marketing notes not only prepare me to market my book when the time comes, but it also helps me refine who my audience is and conceptualize why I’m writing. Marketing feels intimidating at times, uncharted territory… But when I reframe it in terms of my story and the best way to connect with the people who have been my focus as I write, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
For me, it’s all about finding the people who will most benefit and enjoy the things I write. It’s something I’ve been working to improve on, and it’s coming more naturally for it to flow in the background as I write. A big question I ask myself: How can I make the connection with my reader personal…not personal about me, but afford them a venue to share their life and experience. Their true stories in conjunction with my fictional stories.
Jean E. Jones
Wow! This post and the replies have so many great ideas. I want to be much better prepared for marketing my second book. I’m going to try to write blog posts as I go so they’ll be ready to post when the book launches. I love the idea of keeping quotations ready. Carol Ashby’s site is amazing–I’ll ponder how to incorporate more of that.