How Far is Your Reach?

A recent response on a message board got me thinking about this.  If your book was published today, to what extent can you promote yourself?

Social networking is all the rage, as discussed by Kathleen Y’Barbo at Books & Such Literary Agency.  People tweet, post on their FB walls and blog.  The question is, do these things really sell books?  The commenter who sparked my interest in this topic emphatically stated, “NO!  I have never sold a book through FB or Twitter.”

(Although, how would you know?)

Others claim that book signings are an ancient practice and have a spot at the top of the “Worst Publicity Dollars Spent” list right next to school visits and radio interviews.

I write resumes and have learned the power of tweaking words.  I can make anyone look good on paper, as most writers can.  It’s why we write.  I believe this ability is the biggest pitfall apsiring author’s must face when creating their marketing plan.  A marketing plan is only as good as one is able to execute it.  Editor Lynn Price discusses this at length on her blog. 

While we have grandiose ideas of traveling the country, appearing at all the right events and selling trunk loads of books to the waiting masses, this typically does not happen to Jane and Joe Writer.  Traveling costs money and marketing budgets are small.  Book signings take coordination.  And the masses don’t just miraculously appear because we want them to.

“Fine,” we say with slight indignation.  “If our publisher won’t spend the money letting me sell my Arctic Adventure on the beaches of Cabo, I will use my profit do do so.” 

Think again.  Revenue on books is much smaller than you think.  It will take massive sales to pay for that Cabo holiday book signing.  If you don’t believe me, check out what Agent Nathan Bransford has to say. 

All this information got me pondering what we can and should be doing to promote our writing.  Which tacticts work, which ones are dreams. 

Do you have solid plans regarding self-promotion?  Contacts in all the right places?  Or are you still building your brand and a faithful following of future book buyers?

One thing I know for cetain, when I do get published and begin marketing in earnest, I will work with my agent, editor and publicist as suggested by Agent Kristin on her blog, Pub Rants.

8 responses to “How Far is Your Reach?

  1. jmartinlibrarian

    I think it is very important to reach out and establish yourself as a community builder. Reach out through blogs and Twitter to get to know folks.

    I currently follow a lot of authors. Some I know personally; some I just adore because of their work, their humor, or their generally awesomeness.

    I quickly “unfollow” wannabe and published authors who use social networking only to send out pleas to buy their book or visit their site five times a day. Yuck.

    Ditto for authors who beg and plead for more followers.

    Personally, I don’t want “followers.” I want “friends” along for the journey.

    Think about it: by whom are you more a like to buy a book from? An author who cajoles, or an author you enjoy interacting with?

    Respect Karma. Respect your peers and friends.

    • “Personally, I don’t want “followers.” I want “friends” along for the journey.”

      Jenny, what a fabulous line. I think this sums up every kind of relationship I want in life, not just in regards to my writing. That’s some succinct and awesome insight.

  2. Cat what a great post! I have often wondered the same thing? If our online presence is to reach future readers why are we doing certain things? I mean, my blog is for me as a creative outlet. I appreciate my followers so much and love the encouragement, but they are not my target audience. And why am I following certain people on Twitter? (not meaning my writer friends– I couldn’t do without them) I don’t think my followers will buy my books, although I hope I’m wrong. Very wrong. But the questions remains– am I reaching young adults? (That is my target audience.) Probably not. I’ve thought about this for quite some time now and think it’s time to try something different. I’ve had a few ideas swimming around for awhile and maybe it’s time to start implementing them…

    Great food for thought Cat! I love your blog. It’s always so relevant. 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement and kudos, TK.

      What’s is so funny about your resonse is that my market is also YA and below. Heck, they certainly don’t read my blog or follow me on Twitter. They don’t know I exist! To that end, my social networking will not sell more than a handful of books if even that.

      Like you, and Jenny before, I think social networking has a “friend” aspect. It is a connection to a community of likeminded souls that you don’t tyically find in your home town–unless you live in a very artistic and large community.

      Yet as juvenile writers (you can keep the pun if you want!) we do have an advantage. School and library visits are still cool. I’ve read my books to kids in the classroom before and have presented at Young Writer’s Conferences. This, I think, is a better use of my “advertising dollars” and I love the interaction with the kids.

      Fleshing out a good marketing plan that hits our target audience can be difficult. I hope you find something that works, because I need all the help I can get!


  3. Great post! I will definitely be reading through the blogs of the agents I trust (Nathan, Kristen, Jessica…) for their advice, but I have pretty much zippo done on my plan 🙂

    • Jemi,

      I think you’ve done a great job already–especially for not trying. Your blog (and appearance on other’s blogs) highlights you to your target audience. Your personality makes people get warm and fuzzy inside and think “friend.” As Jenny said, she’s much more likely to buy a book from someone she enjoys interacting with. I’m willing to bet most people are like her. I know I am.

      In fact, AQ has really heightened my awareness of this. In our core group of writers, I can honestly say I would purchase every single book from them. Why? I feel as if I have a bond–a friendship–with them. Ditto for my NaNo (LJ) Buddies. In some cases, I’ve spent years with these writers and would be honored to purchase their books.

      Funny, my DH often laughs at me when I talk about my cyber friends. I don’t think he understands how real the connection can be.

  4. Cate- love your idea of getting out and reading to kids at schools and libraries however I am deathly afraid of reading out loud because of my slight speech impediment (if I read to fast ex:railroad comes out as wailwoad lol…can I hire a really good animated, story-teller to read my stuff for me to kids?? Oh how I wish…I guess I’ll have to get over it as some point! Great post thanks!

    • Charlie,

      I’m sure there are great ways around that. And my I-can’t-pronounce-it-to-save-my-life words are anything with the R sound too close to the W. Rear wheel drive sounds like a car trying to start–rrrearrreardrive. LOL!

      When I write for kids, I always edit out those sounds that make me stumble–no use making someone else with my affliction suffer. You could have the teachers or librarians read the books and you could speak after. I have a writer friend who is working on a sign language series. We talked about her reading while a deaf person signed. There are all sorts of fun and creative ways you could present, and not all of them include reading.

      I always think we have the easiest writing interest in the world. Seriously, an adult author gets to sit at the library and sign books, talk cordially with patrons and answer questions. Juvenile writers get to play. We get to wear funky costumes (Like the Chicken Lady), play silly games and sit on the floor. We can cross our eyes, tell goofy jokes and say rrearrearrdrive and wailwoad without being embarassed.

      Have I ever mentioned how much I love kids?

      You’ll do just fine!

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