Jeffrey Marks is the newest instructor at WritersWeekly University. His class, Intent To Sell – Marketing Genre Fiction Works In Today’s Marketplace, helps first-time novelists create the materials they need to start marketing their works. Limit of 40 students per class.
When I started writing, I wasn’t sure how to get the message out regarding my book. If enthusiasm was any indication, my first book would have been a best seller. I work in marketing in my day job; certainly, I should have known what to do in order to sell mystery novels. I did know that the world had changed. The dream life of running off to Paris and writing like Hemingway had been replaced with the more proletarian life of sitting in a mall bookstore and directing patrons to the bathroom.
I decided to learn from expert advice and purchased a few of the how-to guides on book marketing and promotion. Most of the books on the market at that time were geared towards non-fiction. These books were helpful when talking about promoting my biographies, but they didn’t help much in getting attention for my mysteries.
My next step was to escort a few authors around town and talk to them. Most writers are generous people who are happy to answer questions, and they were grateful for the free car service and a chance to rest their weary signing hand. I met bookstore managers and community relations managers for several stores. These experiences taught me about how to behave during a booksignings and media events. I still follow their advice, which really amounts to good manners.
Since Cincinnati isn’t a literary Mecca, I also wrote author profiles for many years. The experience allowed me to ask writers about their experiences in marketing their works, what worked and what didn’t. They were eager to share stories of what had really helped them to get noticed in a very competitive arena.
I began to learn about professional organizations and conferences. I attended a few conferences and made some incredible contacts there. Authors shouldn’t wait until their first book hits the shelf to start making these contacts; it’s never too early to begin making introductions. For all the websites and real-time activities that can be done to market your work, book promotion still relies heavily on personal contacts and word-of-mouth sales.
I didn’t know all of this. Some of it I stumbled into fortuitously. I had to learn other things the hard way. It took a few years and many wrong turns to find the ways that work best when talking about book promotion for fiction. I’ve done the dreaded mall signings and even lived to tell about it. They’re not that bad if you go into it with a positive attitude and a smile.
Marketing genre fiction is a unique endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be something learned by trial and error. After several years of hard knocks, I was asked to write a book on how to promote genre fiction. That book was published in 2002 as Intent to Sell, and is coming out with an updated second edition in April.
That led to me taking over MurderMustAdvertise, a Yahoogroup established to share ideas about book marketing. Many of those ideas have made their way into the new version of the book and into my repertoire of tools for selling books. Helping others to learn about marketing has made me a better promoter as well.
One of the things I’ve found is that what works for one author might fail miserably for another. I don’t mind interacting with readers. After being cooped up for months writing a novel, I’m happy to be out and talking to readers. It’s a matter of preference and the author’s comfort with selling. Some writers prefer the solitary life and hate the idea of doing any selling.
I hope that I can help other authors find a way to make their voice heard above the din of a thousand other authors. Who knows? It might just be a book I want to read.
Jeffrey Marks, the author of five novels, is the newest instructor at WritersWeekly.com University. His class, Intent To Sell – Marketing Genre Fiction Works In Today’s Marketplace, aims to help first-time novelists create the materials they need to go out and set up booksignings, go to genre fiction conventions and even line up television and radio interviews. Jeff breaks down the needed materials into easy weekly pieces that will combine to make a killer press kit without hiring a publicist for thousands of dollars. Plus you can ask questions and get feedback from Jeff via email. And you get the ebook version of Intent to Sell, his Anthony award-nominated marketing book. There is a limit of 40 students per class, so don’t delay!