Friday, August 19, 2011

Marketing Your Work.

When you have the opportunity to write anything you want, the many choices almost overwhelm. Below are some tips on Marketing a manuscript and also the published product. First, a bit about how I became a Melange author. I found Melangé when I was looking for a place for "The Corpulent Chiropteran," a humorous short story about a reluctant vampire. The editor liked the story and it now appears in Curious Hearts. Finding a home for something you liked writing, but is not loaded with sex and rapacious vampires is not easy.

So, how could a naïve young man fall into the clutches of an older vampire and find a way to survive? Some will argue Wally is too stupid to survive, but he bumbles through trying to do right. I also wanted to explore the relationships between him and his mother and a wallflower of a young woman and him. However, none of these people are exactly what they seem. In the end, the story is about choices, character, and love.

Writing and polishing a story or a novel is important, but only one aspect of what a writer must do. Other blog posts have focused on various aspects of craft. Once aspect unmentioned is the bugaboo of many authors: Marketing.

First, recognize that marketing is not only essential, but it is creative and can be fun. Marketing has at least two major stages:
  • Manuscript marketing and
  • Publication marketing.

Manuscript marketing, in some ways, the more difficult of the two, involves identifying suitable agents or publishers for the material. With so many writers out there, authors have a lot of competition. Agents and editors are inundated with growing piles of submissions. In most cases, it's easier to say no, than yes. They want the best material with the highest sales potential. Publishing is a business and when products, i.e., books whether ebook or print, don't sell, the publisher loses money and an agent makes no commission. It also makes finding a publisher for the next manuscript much harder.

What can a writer do to improve the chances of success? Research and focus. Find out which agents or publishers want this kind of material. Plenty of online resources exist for identifying both.
  • Check out publisher and agent websites and bookstores and look at what publishers are producing.
  • Look inside a few books at acknowledgement pages. They often mention agents and editor names.
  • Network with fellow authors and at various writers' meetings.
  • Check reviews of similar books for publisher names.
  • Develop a strong title.
  • Have a strong one line, also known as a tag line, description.

An example of the last two from my recent sale:

Beyond the Rim of Light by Alex Stone, Alice through the worm hole gains the power of the Count of Monte Cristo to save a sentient species from annihilation.
Okay, maybe not the best, but it caught an editor's attention and led to a review by the publisher. The book is now scheduled for release in May 2012.

Finished book marketing varies. Entire books have been written on the topic and I'll mention only a few. Some are obvious, others less so.
  • First, make sure your signature line on all email carries the publication title and ISBN.
  • If you have a website, post information on it there.
  • Post information on your blog.
  • Ditto for Facebook or other social media.  
  • Take the opportunity to be a guest blogger on other blogs.
  • Find some newsworthy aspect of interest to the local media.
  • Do interviews on blogs, local radio, and TV if possible.
  • Look for tie-ins with holidays or local events/history.
  • Use your friends and networking.
  • Sign up with speakers bureaus or give talks to local groups.

Book signings can be great for the ego, but seldom sell many books. Try to have one with other authors—that draws more people and is less lonely for you. Signings are a good opportunity to talk with readers and make friends. Walk around the book store and encourage people to visit the signing table. Always carry one of your books with you along with a few bookmarks or flyers. Dressing as a character or in some striking way also draws attention.

By no means are these suggestions exhaustive. I've said nothing about bookmarks, postcards, or flyers. These can work and be produced easily and quickly. Professional design is nice, but many templates exist for such items. If you have a laser printer, you can do some yourself. Some publishers will provide these to authors free of charge. However, when you produce them, you have control both of the content and the cost.

You may find it difficult to do all of the items listed above, but most are within the capabilities of any author. Once you establish the contacts and discover which work best for you, the process becomes easier. Establishing a loyal reader base helps a lot. Each new published work provides a bigger fan base on which to build.

These are only a few of the many things an author can and should do, and they cost little. For many authors, marketing is more work and less fun than writing. It is important to you, and your work deserves the best effort you can give it.

Look for Beyond the Rim of Light in May 2012 from Melange Books.

Nell DuVall--Romance, mystery, and speculative fiction
"Corpulent Chiropteran" in Curious Hearts, Melange Books ISBN 978-1-61235-207-7

Train to Yesterday 
Lrg Prt Thorndike Press 978-1-4104-0878-5, 
Rg Prt (Five Star Expressions (Cengage) 978-1-59414-663-3 
          available at

Beyond the Rim of Light by Alex Stone, Melange Books, May 2010


Margaret said...

Mel: great advice about marketing your book on two levels. In this day and age of epubbing, marketing is essential.

Congratulations on "The Corpulent Chiropteran"

Becky said...

Hi Nell - congrats on the new website and blog. Wishing all the best with your latest releases!

Hugs, Becky

Carol Ann said...

Marketing can be overwhelming to authors when first faced with the task. Your explanation of breaking it down into two segments is super advice. Congrats on your latest sale!

Marcia James said...

Great marketing tips, Nell!

Here's another: Website URLs aren't case-sensitive, so it reinforces an author's pen name to use Title CAPS. For example, instead of typing my website URL this way:, I type it this way:

I think using a book's ISBN number is optional. If you're posting to an email loop that restrict the number of lines in an author's signature, you can delete the ISBN number.

Looking forward to reading your books!
-- Marcia ;-)

Mila Ramos said...

Wonderful advice!!!

This is something that I have always been curious about, even now actually. I was convinced to a point that there was a secret book out there on marketing that I missed out on. This has been a great topic for you to share!!

Thank you so much!!!