I’ve received many questions over the past year in regard to marketing a novel and the best way to go about it. It’s simple and complicated. How’s that for an answer? No doubt the Internet has made it easier and more streamlined to market any product, but there is still a mountain of work to maintain on a regular basis.
Here are five basic questions and how I’ve approached marketing a novel. You can be free from all the unnecessary paperwork and promotion by staying organized and on track. Simply put, have a plan. Keep things as simple as you can, but keep moving forward.
1. When should you begin marketing a novel? Before or after you’ve written the book?
You should begin marketing the novel before you’ve finished the book and before publication. You begin to lay the foundation by gently easing into it. Once you know what your book is going to be about (fiction or nonfiction), you can begin to write articles, set up a blog and/or website, and begin to create a buzz about your book. Book blog sites are fantastic to help create a buzz about you and your book. Your intended audience will be looking forward to the new release of your book.
2. How much time should I spend marketing and promoting every week?
The best way to gage how much time to spend is to figure out what it is you want to do with your novel in a realistic manner. How much time can you actually spend? Can you stick to it week after week? Generally, you should spend a little bit of time each day or every other day. If you wait for once a week, you’ll find that it will overwhelm and consume you. Start with a solid list of what you want to accomplish for the week. For example, a good rule of thumb is to spend a minimum of an hour a day. This would include updating social networks, posting a blog article, networking with other writers, sending out emails or mailing lists, researching websites, etc. Realistically, it’s closer to two to three hours a day.
3. What are some of the ways to promote a book?
Promoting a book requires a combination of efforts and there is no simple recipe. I would recommend for new authors to have an active blog (minimum 3 articles a week) as well as a simple website. Keep these sites updated on a regular basis and interesting because you will always have new visitors stopping by. The social networking capabilities out there is extremely effective with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and writer/reader specific sites such as Goodreads, AuthorsDen, CrimeSpace and Shelfari. Make sure you network your blog with all the blog related sites: blogger.com, blog catalog, networked blogs, etc. And, always take the opportunity to promote yourself and book through local venues such as book signings, interviews, artist events, businesses specific grand openings, flea markets, book giveaways and any type of author appearances.
4. How long should I spend on a promotional idea if my marketing isn’t working?
Keep in mind, nothing happens overnight. Things do start out slowly and begins to gain momentum. Don’t be discouraged when you first begin if not much is happening and you’re selling only a few books. The key is to have several marketing outlets and let them simmer for a while. Objectively look at each area and see what’s working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, cross it off your list and keep moving forward. Keep the idea in your marketing notes because at a later time it might prove to be useful. Consistency. Drive. Tenacity.
5. Should I hire a marketing manager?
This is a personal decision. It is based on what kind of budget you have available and what you’re willing to do yourself. I personally feel that you should be actively involved in your marketing and promotion regardless if you hire someone to help you. You can do this all by yourself! If not, pick a dollar amount that you can live with on a monthly basis. Don’t get overwhelmed or hustled if you spend more money, you’ll get even better results. That’s not true. You need a solid, workable plan and you need to active every day/week without fail. It’s not impossible to market and promote a book by yourself, but beware that you will have quite a workload and need to do your homework.
The best advice I can give is to look at ALL your options and don’t be too quick to make a choice. Don’t’ rush into something! People and companies MAY NOT be what they seem. I’ve learned the hard way of a mistake I made, but it doesn’t have to derail you.
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Talk to writers, authors, bloggers, promotional specialists and publishers. Make a plan before you jump out there, you’ll be more satisfied with the results.