By Wendy Lawton
Many writers dread creating the marketing section of the proposal. Let me follow Janet Kobobel Grant’s lead and talk about this portion of the proposal. Janet earlier talked about the competition portion here, and the last blog post talked about crafting your bio. I discussed the importance of your proposal here.
When it comes time to write the marketing section of the proposal, too many writers hit the wall.
“I’m a writer, not a marketing guru.”
“Isn’t marketing what the publisher is paid to do?”
“I only have a handful of readers on my blog.”
“How do I know what’s possible and what will sound like over-promising?”
Let’s take these issues one at a time and talk about them.
- “I’m a writer, not a marketing guru.” And you, as a nonfiction writer, have much to offer. Several of my authors have written articles that connect in some way to the theme of their book. In the bio at the bottom of the article, the book is featured. Others have written guest blogs on high-traffic blog sites. The novelist can offer marketing tools as well. Just like the nonfiction writer who can write articles to promote her book, several of my fiction clients have written a novella– a prequel to their series– and offered it to the publisher as a marketing tool.
- “Isn’t marketing what the publisher is paid to do?” I’ve heard this way too many times. Marketing is a partnership. I was at an ABA writers event several years ago when I heard a brusque fiction editor say, “What’s this marketing stuff I see in the proposals these days? Leave that [expletive] out. We have professionals to do that.” Obviously her ABA house is very different from our CBA houses. They want to find out what you bring to the table so they can capitalize on that. They also want to know that you will consider your readers your “tribe” and will faithfully take care of them. If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this blog it is this: Your publisher’s job is to bring you new readers, your job is to take care of every reader you get, carefully putting their contact info in a database and connecting with them regularly.
- “I only have a handful of readers on my blog.” In your marketing section you need to focus on your strong points. Like a recent proposal I sent out, the therapist/writer had done more than two dozen drive-time interviews on a large radio station and had more planned. We focused on her interview experience and wrote that she was working on building her online brand and her social media presence. Focus on the positive and don’t overlook your strong regional connections. Your agent will help you leverage your strengths. And if you do have impressive social media numbers, those are gold right now.
- “How do I know what’s possible and what will sound like over-promising?” A marketing section is a great place to share ideas that you will do to market your book. I say, that you will do, because too often this where proposals go overboard. “I’ll be available to do all television appearances the publisher arranges, including Chicago appearances like Oprah and New York appearances like the Today Show.” Um, this is way overblown. The correct way to put it, would be, “I’ll clear my calendar during the release period, spending time on social media and several scheduled speaking engagements as well as any media opportunities the publisher may offer.” This is what is expected. Oprah is not going to call. You may have connections that may be useful in marketing, however. Mention these. “I’m currently the co-chairmen of the Minnesota Nursing Association. Since my book deals with health, I’ll be able to connect to a number of professionals who may be helpful in marketing my book.”
I could go on and on, but I won’t. This is not a exhaustive list of dos and don’ts for completing the marketing section of your proposal but at least it’s a start. Your turn. Questions? Suggestions? What did I leave out?