To Market, To Market… by Kimberly Ripley

This article may be freely reprinted/redistributed as long as the entire article and bio are included.

As writers, much of our day is spent marketing and promoting our work. Every day? Some people are astonished when I answer that with a resounding, “Yes!”
I spend a good part of each workday performing some sort of marketing and promoting.

Of course this varies from day to day. One day might find me busy making phone calls and sending off e-mails announcing a new book, magazine article, book signing, or workshop. The next day my desk might look like an arts and crafts haven, as I cut out scanned pictures of book covers and put them to use as creative promotional tools. Sometimes I write articles about such activities, and while other writers stand to gain something from such articles, I am once again marketing my own writing. I am, in essence, selling myself.

That has a vile ring to it, but as writers that is certainly what we must do. We must market ourselves as far more than just a writer, too. A writer with good public relations skills will probably sell many more books than one without them. And a writer who doubles as an excellent public speaker fares better, too.

Recent book signings have prompted me to explore new ways of marketing and promoting myself, my books, and my image as a freelance writer. Each of these methods implemented were low-budget and require novice ability.

The recent release of my book Freelancing Later in Life as a paperback, has catapulted my creativity in a number of ways. By first designing a web site, followed by a free electronic newsletter, the title of the book is being circulated worldwide.

Since marketing professionals claim that one must be exposed to a product a number of times before they will purchase it, I am covering this ground significantly. My cost? Absolutely nothing but the few dollars per year it takes to maintain the web site.

When I began receiving overwhelming positive feedback about my newsletter, questions about the book started pouring in. Would it pertain to freelance writers who might not be quite so old-“old” being between 30 and ancient? Would it explain some of the steps needed to begin the querying process? What about those who write simply for the love of the craft and not necessarily for publication? Yes, yes, and yes again.

In response to these many questions, another idea blossomed. Could “Freelancing Later in Life” be utilized as a workshop? Is there significant information within its pages to serve as workshop text?

“Oh, yes,” the Community Relations Director of my local Barnes and Noble said, “Especially if you facilitate the workshop.”

I now have “Freelancing Later in Life” workshops ready to go in New Hampshire, Florida, and Maine beginning early in 2002.

Physical marketing works especially well with people attending book signings. Perhaps they’ve wandered through the store or library at the time of your signing, but maybe aren’t quite ready to purchase a book. How do you draw them in? Give them something free to take away. “Free” is a miraculous word in the English language. It serves as a people magnet, whether it boasts a cup of coffee or plastic gizmo-and marketers know it often eventually results in sales.

Recently promoting a book for Adam’s Media called “A Cup of Comfort” I incorporated a “freebie” that actually worked very well. “A Cup of Comfort” was highly promoted on October 14 on National Cup of Comfort Day. Barnes and Noble stores across the country offered patrons a free cup of coffee or tea when dropping by for the readings and signings. Still actively promoting this book in which I have a story published, I decided to continue with the free cup of comfort idea. Scanning the book cover, I made business card sized copies on card stock. I then stapled a tea bag to each card. Guests at the signings were invited to take a cup of comfort home with them to enjoy at their leisure.

Similar cards have promoted “Freelancing Later in Life”. A 3-D scan of the book cover, imprinted with the web site’s address, makes a wonderful magnet when backed with adhesive magnet strips. Not blatantly saying “Buy the book!” instead it reminds readers to browse the site in search of freelance writing information.

The holidays are a perfect time to enhance marketing efforts and to do so a bit more creatively than throughout the rest of the year. “Breathe Deeply, This Too Shall Pass” is my book of short stories depicting the humorous aspects of parenting teens. (Yes, there are a few!) Local stores are now selling my “Parent’s Sanity Kits”. They include a signed copy of the book, a soothing scented candle, a bottle of aspirin, and various holiday goodies. These are also advertised on my web site for “Freelancing Later in Life”. May the circle be unbroken!

When it comes to marketing and promoting books, authors must dare to dream. But don’t ever let it stop there! Implement the dreams to a form of reality and sit back and watch the sales increase. Write from your heart and market from your brain. And never, ever give either one too much of a hiatus!

Kimberly Ripley is the author of “Freelancing Later in Life” and “Breathe Deeply, This Too Shall Pass”, both available at Booklocker.com. Visit her “Freelancing Later in Life” web site and sign up for the free newsletter at: http://www.freelancing1.homestead.com