Thankfully, I entered the world of fiction after having paid my dues as a nonfiction author. One thing I learned along the way is that a book does not sell itself. One cannot be an author only—strictly an author. In order for a book to become even mildly successful (break even or earn the author a few hundred dollars), it has to sell. And in today’s fiercely competitive publishing climate, it takes a whole lot of marketing strategy to sell books. Just as you cannot give birth to a child and expect it to raise itself, you cannot produce a book and expect it to sell itself. You have to become a “parent” to the book. You must mold and groom it to fit into society and then adequately introduce it to your world of readers.
This is nothing new. Books have always sold according to the level of promotion they receive. No one will buy a book they do not know exists. And the author is the best marketing agent for his or her book.
Long gone are the days when a publisher would run an elaborate marketing program for each book he produces. Today’s authors, whether traditionally published or self-published, must promote his or her own books. Sure, you can hire a marketing company or a publicist. But this does not absolve you from the task of book promotion. In fact, you’ll be busier than ever meeting your public, doing interviews, producing articles, maintaining a blog and so forth.
I’ve written numerous articles and entire books on the topic of book promotion and marketing over the years. And I maintain that promotion begins before the book is ever written.
Why? How can you promote a book before it is a book? By choosing a topic or genre that actually has an audience…by bringing out a book that is wanted/needed.
So the first thing I did for the sake of my book series success was to research the genre. I wanted to know what else is out there like this book. Is this a popular genre? Who makes up my audience—my readers? How many are there? Where do I find them and how do I approach them?
You see, unlike many—I venture to say most—authors of fiction or nonfiction, these questions do not enter their minds and this fact is a huge detriment to their success. So before I decided to publish, I had my ducks in a row. I knew where I would take the project and how I would promote it.
Note: Of course, this is not to say that was the end of the marketing story. Oh no. When you make the commitment to produce a book, you are in it for the long-haul—or for as long as you want the book to sell. You’re always promoting, seeking new avenues of promotion, pursuing proven activities and so forth.
However, what works for me might not work for you. The marketing tactics I used for my books on publishing and book promotion won’t be right for marketing my Klepto Cat Mystery series. So how does one discover the activities that will work for his particular book? Here’s my checklist:
I listen to other authors of books in this genre, watch them, and even spy on them. For example, I visit the websites and blog sites of cozy mystery authors and authors of cat story books. I read their blog posts, check out their give-away programs, discover what add-ons they’re selling or using as enticement to generate sales, and I read their media material. Where are they speaking/signing books? Who has reviewed their books? What organizations are they affiliated with? What activities are they involved in? I adopt and adapt those tactics that can work for me and for my series.
One of my most important decisions related to the Klepto Cat Mystery series was to sign up for the Kindle Direct Publishing program. They offer several ways for their authors to reach their readers. If Amazon sees that you are promoting your books—you’re getting a lot of interest and numerous reviews are being posted—they will include your books in their promotional emails. I believe that Amazon has been a real boon to my sales. But this is not the case for every author and every book. It appears that those who devour novels love the convenience of reading them on their Kindles and other reading devices. If you’re producing a nonfiction book, however, you may not (probably will not) experience the same success as I am with my mystery series.
As a published author, you are always in promotion mode. Every choice you make with regard to your book project should be with your audience in mind, and this goes for the writing process as well. In fact, I’m going to try winding this up tomorrow, although I’m having fun and enjoying the reflection, so I may go on and on.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about specifics when it comes to writing a book of fiction for publications. The theme will be to think about your audience while you’re writing. I’ve edited many-a-novel where the author leaves the reader out in the cold—confused. I maintain that this will occur less often when the author puts him/herself in the reader’s shoes from day one. We mustn’t second-guess our audience. Although, we don’t want to write too simplistic, either. Particularly with cozy mysteries, the reader expects an easy read, but he/she also craves something to do—to think about. While you should create a story that’s easy to follow, don’t do the thinking for your readers. It can be a fine line—and something we’ll talk about tomorrow. I will also share some anecdotes featuring my experiences with this mystery series—how I develop an action scene, how I develop a cat’s personality and so forth.
In the meantime, read all 5 segments of My Story, beginning January 6, 2015. Learn how I became a published author. Discover what prompted my reputation as a key player in the publishing arena. Find out what inspired me to shift gears completely and start writing fiction—the Klepto Cat Mystery series, in particular—and why they’re selling so well. If you have any questions or comments along the way, please direct them to me at PLFry620@yahoo.com. Or leave a comment here. To see all 5 entries, go to http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades
In the meantime, check out my Klepto Cat Mystery series—now eight books strong—here: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2