Mark Terry

Friday, March 09, 2007

Marketing Your Novel, Part 1

March 9, 2007

With the publication date of THE SERPENT'S KISS hurtling toward me (JULY 1, 2007, feel free to pre-order :), my publishers and myself will love you for it), I've begun my marketing efforts. Although I'm not 100% comfortable doing this, I've decided to fill everybody in on my efforts as I go along, and more importantly, break down the dollar amounts and time put in. And when I'm done sometime in the fall (presumably), I'll total it.

I've decided to partake again of AUTHORBUZZ. We did this with THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK, although in that case I didn't pay for it. This time the money's out of my pocket (although it is tax deductible). AUTHORBUZZ is a series of e-newsletters focusing on your book, complete with cover and links, etc., and it's sent out to literally thousands of book buyers, booksellers and librarians. It also goes out on the e-newsletter SHELF AWARENESS, which if you haven't signed up for your free subscription, you should. AUTHORBUZZ is the brain child of bestselling author M.J. Rose and it seems to be taking off.

Does it work? Well, although one sometimes suspects that MJ is doing very well off this enterprise, I can only respond that on the days my entries came out my website traffic increased three to four times. So I've written my check and made my three entries and sent them off already. Part of my AUTHORBUZZ bit is a contest, but we'll talk more about that at a later date.

Cost: $895

Time: About 2 hours

Mailings. For THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK I put together a tri-fold brochure. A graphic artist friend of mine redesigned it for free. Then I had it professionally printed, which cost well over $1000. I spent even more, bribing my kids with video games to stuff the envelopes and slap the labels on it. The labels cost about $100--I bought a list off the Internet of independent bookstores. Unfortunately, as I found out, a third to about half of those indie bookstores had gone out of business or moved, so I got about 1000 back. I have also got a database of libraries, most here in Michigan, as well as people who have contacted me or signed my guest book at signings. I've spent the last couple weeks sorting through all those returns and re-organizing my indie bookstore database. I'm not doing a brochure this time, but I'm planning on doing postcards. Anybody know of a good company that does these? I'm looking at Vista Prints.

Anyway, to-date I've got a total of 2190 addresses, so I'll probably get 2500 postcards printed up. That looks to be relatively inexpensive, about $155. Postage is estimated at about $854, although I haven't checked yet for postcard mailing rates (assuming they don't go up before June/July), but it might be lower. I'm awaiting part of an advance check and some travel reimbursement from one of my clients so I can cut my business Visa bill about in half before I order these, but soon.

Do these work? I was thinking no, but when I recently interviewed David Morrell I mentioned I didn't think they were effective and he said, "How can you tell?" I hemmed and then I hawed, then conceded that I actually probably didn't know. So I decided to try it again. Will it result in direct sales? Maybe a few. Hopefully by combining AUTHORBUZZ with mailings and my publisher's catalogues and any reviews I get in the trade journals like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Library Journal, will result in some name and title recognition, reinforcing each other. You really have to think of marketing (for anything, not just books) as a CAMPAIGN, not just a single event.

Cost to-date: $0

Probable cost: $1000.

Time to-date: About 10 hours

Probably time: About 25 hours

Four months or so before publication is the time to start organizing formal book events like library talks and book signings. I'm not going this route, although if something comes up I'll do it. I know I'll be moderating a panel at the Kerrytown Book Festival in Ann Arbor in September. I was much happier doing informal drive-bys, so I'll be doing even more of those come July.

Anybody have suggestions, ideas or comments, let me know. I'm open-minded.


Mark Terry



Blogger Ron Estrada said...

Direct mailing is hit and miss, but it does get your name out. You might try a contest on your website. Something fun-create a character for my next novel or even be a character in my next novel. Win autographed copies, that sort of thing. I'll e-mail the graphics company we use. We also use a service for bulk mailings.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I will be having a contest. It's pretty much a "sign up for my mailing list and get entered" thing and the prizes will be a signed copy of THE SERPENT'S KISS.

The first time I did a grand prize of a signed book and a $100 gift certificate and 9 additional signed copies. I'm thinking I might do something like that a few months later when the rest of the stuff starts to slow down.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Rob Gregory Browne said...

I used AuthorBuzz for Kiss Her Goodbye and it certainly generated a large number of hits on my website. I have no idea how many books it has sold, but a writer friend is convinced it's the reason she hit the NYT extended list with her last book.

Who the hell knows? I sure don't.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

Wow, I'm exhausted already. Good thing you have kids for the slave labor. Marketing sounds like the hard part of this biz.
Thinking back to how I found you and a few other authors...Konrath I found through an artical he wrote for Writer's Digest. I found you and Rob G. Brown from your posts on Konrath's site. I found a few other authors through talks they gave about the writing process at libraries and book stores. I haven't read Authorbuzz but I'll go check it out.
Love the cover art!

6:55 PM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

I once read that most local politicians are elected on party or name recognition alone. And that it takes three or four sightings before a name starts to stick?

Just my fuzzy memory, but it sounds to me like you're on the right track! Good luck!

7:15 PM  
Blogger Jess Lourey said...

Thanks for showing the dark side of writing! I'll be following this thread attentively.

For me, postcards work. I send out around 1500 and include a few prominent blurbs. I agree that drive bys are more comfortable and immediately effective than book signings, but I do a lot of signings in smaller towns and often get a newspaper article and radio interview out of it if I call the radio/newspaper directly myself, so that might be something to consider.

Best of luck!

5:12 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I write a fair number of freelance article for podiatrists (don't ask, it's a living) about how to run their business and marketing is a big topic for them, especially when opening a new practice.

Rule of thumb in marketing according to the experts is that a name won't stick until someone hears it 6 times. One marketing expert I interviewed said, "Well, 6 is sort of the number you hear, and I don't know if it's true, but let's put it this way: it takes a lot of mentions before people notice and take action."

Same applies to books, maybe even more so, because there's so much competition. If I want to go to a podiatrist, there are only a couple within, er, walking distance (so to speak). But if I want a book, well, I have a huge number to choose from.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous gregory huffstutter said...

How about if you were to look at advertising placements with large organizations that handle terrorism threats or infectious diseases (like the the IDAC)?

You could look into putting ads in programs for upcoming conferences or on their websites.

That would help extend your name outside the 'heavy mystery-reader' pond and hopefully attract some light-reading scientists... people are predisposed to your subject matter.
about a subject matter

9:34 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

An interesting idea. I was considering this a bit, primarily because someone I know who writes scrapbooking mysteries put some ads in scrapbooking magazines. Something to think about. Thanks.

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