Writer Discovers 5 Weird Tricks. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!

Or, 5 Tips to Market Your
Book Online

Note: This post originally appeared on the Creatrix Marketing blog.

As hinted in my tongue-in-cheek clickbait alternate title, anyone who tells you there’s a guaranteed path to publishing success is probably selling something. Usually in ebook form. As the old joke goes, if you purchase, “Learn how to be a bestseller, just buy this book!” the only thing you’ll find written inside is, “Write a how-to book; tell people to buy it.” 

While there’s nothing you can do to guarantee success, there are steps you can take to increase your chances. Many authors compare publishing success (whether self-pubbed, small press, or traditional) to being struck by lightning. Think of these tips as your lightning rods.


Write a marketable book. I’m going to catch a lot of flak for this one, but the easiest way to market a book is to make sure it’s easy to pitch. In Hollywood, they call this High Concept—your story should be clear enough that you can describe it in one to two sentences, and have someone hooked if you only have an elevator ride to pitch your story. I know, you’re an artist, you write what the muse speaks and not what sells. But you really can have it both ways: Perfect your elevator pitch for marketing success, and perfect your prose for artistic fulfillment. No one will read your genius if you can’t convince them to crack open the cover.

Be active on social media. There a thousands of people, right this second, looking for their next book to read, and they’re doing so online. Social media is where you give your elevator pitch, but don’t use the internet solely as a sales tool. Be yourself. When others see that you like the same shows, or they admire your viewpoint on an issue, or fall for your under-140-character wit, they’ll pay more attention the few times you announce a promotion. Which leads us to…

Use available marketing tools. No need to reinvent the wheel, all that groundwork has been laid out for you. If you’re self-pubbed, you should consider running free or discounted promotions of your title. You can also get your publisher to run some of these promotions for you. Then advertise your promotion on the many websites/mailing lists targeted to eager bargain hungry readers. This will drastically expand your reach, increase sales, and gain you reviews. 

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Market off-line too. Don’t forget to reach out to the real world. You don’t have to be a bestseller to set up a book signing at your local store, or an interview on your local radio station. Tell friends at parties. Always carry business cards! By rubbing elbows with potential fans out in the real world, you’ll increase your visibility online too. Many of those new connections will reach out to find you in cyberspace, or tell their friends. Each new fan is like planting a seed to help you grow as an author. 

Think outside the box. There are far, far more reading options than ever before. From the growing list of classics, to the self-publishing movement, it’s hard to stand out. You’ve got to try something different. For me, that’s been book trailers. You can turn that elevator pitch into a short film, and spread it out across the series-of-tubes just like a movie trailer. If done well, it’s an entertaining piece in its own right and most viewers don’t feel like they’re directly being advertised at. Book trailers are a growing trend, but what will be the next tool? Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to discover it.


Are you a writer or marketer? A reader/customer with thoughts on being pitched to? Add your opinion in the comments below. And don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe!

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The Social Network

No, not the movie (although I am a fan, put me on team Sorkin).  I’m talking about the act of social networking and why I’ve joined in.

Social networking is becoming more and more important for a writer.  Whereas, at least my impression was, you used to get published, go to cocktail parties, attend a couple of book signings, and accept any awards that come your way–this is now a fantasy.  Now you’ve got to market the hell out of yourself.  The most accessible way to reach lots of people is with digital new media.  And it’s all the easier for you, if you have that stuff set-up before you’re a tid-bit famous.

I have a screenplay optioned, which will hopefully find a studio home right around the new year.  My producer has tantalized me with a possible “Christmas present”–fingers crossed!  I also have a novel I’m doing one final polish on, before I begin steps toward publishing.

So basically: this website, this twitter account, all the networking, is happening now because I feel (hope?) I’m on the cusp of my writing career really taking off.  I don’t want to create a website the same day its URL gets printed on a book cover, right?  Gotta have some meat on it first.

Rather than have this post be merely a public diary entry, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned as I’m setting all this up.  It’s been a tough journey, as my friends and family don’t really tweet or blog.  And self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to me.  At all.  There was (and still is) a learning curve.

TWITTER
People follow non-public figures, whom they don’t know, for pretty much one reason: they also want followers.  So when someone follows you, and you just sit back and think, “cool, I have a follower!”, guess what?  They’ll most likely unfollow you in a couple of days.  What can you do to keep your new followers happy?  1) Follow them back 2) Send them a message, thanking them for following!

BLOG
If you want people to read your blog, one of the biggest resources is other bloggers.  First step here, read their blog.  Then post an intelligent comment, pertaining to what you just read.  DO NOT post your website in your comments, this just comes off as spam.  If you’ve written something sufficiently intriguing, people will check your profile, which should have a link to your own blog.

For anything and everything, you should have something interesting to say.  I got a decent amount of hits with my Screenwriting vs Prose post, because it was something I can speak to that not many people know about.  It was, in short, worth reading.

The world is changing for writers, and to use a screenwriting term, “Stasis=Death”.  You have to go with the changes, or get left behind.  It’s been proven that people who embrace change live longer, and I think the same can be said about our careers.

I leave you with a positive note: writers are now in commercials.  Perhaps taking our careers in our own hands is a good thing?  A power-shift?  Publishing houses own books the way movie studios owned stars in the 1930s.  If this changes, it could be the writers who come out on top.