I’ve been writing for nearly two decades and continually spent time networking to build bridges and marketing strategies. We can’t do everything at once but with persistence we can build various platforms. Let me share how the past has been a bridge to recent and upcoming releases.
I spent early years of writing as an article writer but kept the connections and continued to write articles. However, I worked at looking ahead to the best matches for upcoming books. When my Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front released last year I had an article related to the book come out every month for several months. I also did this for a new book for girls and already have assignments for my upcoming September release for preschool girls.
Tips: This means being able to pitch to the right magazines with the right ideas that fit their audience. For my preschool release (One-Year My Princess Devotions) I pitched to a teen magazine. Sounds like a bad fit? Wrong! I did a twist by pitching to On Course to write an article on how teens can reach young children (they babysit, have little siblings, help at church, serves as camp counselors, etc.) and the editor loved the idea.
As a former TV host I have a good idea on what appeals to a producer or host and that helps, but you can learn by listening and watching to see what you like and why. I can get on with children’s books by pitching ideas that reach parents or finding the right holiday match for the home front book (military dates, military spouse week, July 4th, etc).
So, for the Home Front book I did wait a bit due to my husband’s health and passing on to heaven, but then did
a book tour in early March to do three TV shows and have another scheduled for next week. I combined that with My Mine Dream Room book for girls and the shows had me chat about both books and show crafts from the girl’s book. I also mentioned my next book and the hosts want me back for those. I used a publicist to help me with the scheduling but actually pitched the first show myself with email to a host who has had me on numerous times.
Tips: Start locally and capture the words used when you share the book idea and see people get interested. Volunteer for a local telethon to answer the phone as that helps you get known locally and can open doors. Check your network of friends to see if someone does a blog radio or TV show and is willing to have you as a guest. Try making a short video yourself to see how you look and sound on TV as practice. And know that radio usually comes first. Producers are a bit fearful if you have no experience on media that you might freeze up (as a host I had that happen with guests).
When my Princess devotional releases I’m set to do a few Mother-Daughter Tea Parties and will be joining a
team of women who do conferences Raising A Modern Day Princess. But, I first built relationships with the preschool directors and with the team of women speakers. I even helped get one of the women booked for a retreat.
Tips: Consider where the readership hangs out and what events with speakers they attend and then network with people connected to the events. Or create your own pathway. I envisioned tea parties with moms and girls dressed up. I could see the crafts we’d make and fun we could have, so, I got to know some preschool directors, spoke to their classes, and had books at their book fairs (and gave them a portion of my sales). I also made plans that they could use the tea parties as fundraisers.
Your publisher has a limit for promotion but may team up with great opportunities you provide. Magazine ads are expensive and get more mileage when paired with an article by the author. When my Home Front book released I had two magazines run an ad for free with my article. I set up to add an article for a kid’s magazine where they will run an ad beside it if the publisher will buy the ad (and they give a better deal because of the article).
Tips: Communicate with your editors/marketing people and the magazine. When I pitched an article for The Old Schoolhouse magazine on the Home Front topic (stories of young patriots on the home front) and landed the contract I let my editor know. Turns out the editor had just decided he really wanted an ad in that magazine so he asked me about a contact at the magazine. I already had the information on the ad department, passed it along, and that week they contracted an article for the issue with my article (coming in November 2013).
Keep records. I’ve kept track of all the radio shows, blogs, and TV shows I’ve been on and used them to get on for repeat appearances. Over the years that list has grown.
I also let my editors know of connections I have. Tyndale’s marketing department had a conference call with me about the upcoming Princess book and I shared about articles I already set up. That got them more excited about article possibilities and they want content from me as they can place articles on blogs and connect with editors they know. I mentioned I had thought of an acrostic for parents that could be a good connection for publicity and they loved it and decided to look into creating bookmarks with the acrostic.
I usually create posts or ideas for them as I write my books. The material is fresh in my mind and so is my enthusiasm. There’s often more in my mind than fits the word count so the overflow goes into a social network file for the book. With my miniature raft book I am using the file to do weekly posts and then put a note with a link on twitter and Facebook. It makes life easier as I work on the next book or release. I also have a spread sheet of dates related to my home front book and use that to update social networks and the home front web site.
Tips: Save; don’t erase what you edit out as you write. It could be good for a post! It may be a humorous post of errors you caught or it may be great content that just didn’t fit between the covers. And do consider debriefing at the end of a writing day with other notes about the book to be used as social network posts.
I hope these ideas help you. Marketing is an ongoing process where you build connections and relationships. It’s all about communicating as you communicate your passion and also communicate with pitches and keeping your publishing team in the loop. I’ve hired Don Otis as my PR person and also hired Kathy Carlton Willis to help me with other promotion. They have taught me and helped build my marketing platform. I’ve also appreciated anything my publishers have done and made it a pin to meet the sales people when I’m at ICRS or other trade show.