Marketing? Me?


Wednesday afternoon, I went over to visit my friend Kim Harrison for a little advice. She’s a bestselling writer of urban fantasy and wise in the ways of self-promotion, and I knew she’d be able to help me out. My husband and I had been talking about giveaways for my upcoming book signings. He wanted to order a somewhat expensive item, printed with my promotional information, to give away. But the cost was so high that I started digging my heels in – it’s not that I don’t love everyone who’ll come and buy a book, but if it’s between presents for y’all and a mortgage payment, I guess you know who wins.

I trooped over to Kim’s house for tea and advice. She very graciously pulled out all her old and new promotional items for me to see, and we talked about cost benefits and do-it-yourself options. She shared her thoughts on what worked and what didn’t, and why. Slowly and surely I started getting a better handle on what to do. I left there with a peaceful mind and a plan.

When I first began writing, it never occurred to me that I’d need to do much more than write the book and maybe have a few signings. It’s a book, and it sells itself, right? Alas, no. There are an awful lot of books on the shelves, and if I want mine to stand out, I have to help it along. I hit the jackpot with my cover art (Shelly Wan is a goddess!) so that was a plus. And I happen to be a rather gregarious sort, so talking to people won’t be a problem at all. (Getting me to hush is going to be tougher.) But an extra little sursey (that’s Southern for “surprise”) never hurts. The trick is to avoid bankrupting yourself to do it.

What’s that? What did I decide to give away? Aw, you’ll just have to come to a signing and find out!


11 comments to Marketing? Me?

  • *Said in a sing-song voice*
    I knooow whaat it iiiiiissss!

  • Michele Conti

    awww. Nothing in Calgary, or anywhere near it. HumRumph.

  • I’m a bit of a heretic on self-promotion. I did a lot early on. I had postcards and bookmarks made up for my first several books and took them around to bookstores in the Nashville, Chattanooga, and Huntsville areas (logging hundreds upon hundreds of miles). I did mailings, I still do giveaway contests on my website, and I’m doing lots of web stuff still. But I don’t think that signings (aside from local ones that draw lots of people) and mailings are worth the effort anymore. The number of people we can reach in these ways is so tiny and the return from the effort and expense is so low, that I don’t bother. The web stuff? Yeah, that’s worth it — low input and high return. But I realize now that a lot of the stuff I used to do was all for me — it was stuff I did to make myself think that I was helping my sales, because the idea of doing nothing was too scary. But I don’t think any of it made any real difference in my numbers.

  • Sorry, Michele! I had hoped to come to World Fantasy in Calgary, but it just isn’t working out this year. *whispers* I might be talked into sending you one of the Freebies once they’re made….

    David said “But I don’t think any of it made any real difference in my numbers.”

    And that’s exactly why I was panicking over the expensive giveaways my husband liked – I just couldn’t believe the expense would be reflected in sales numbers.

  • J Horton

    Promotional products don’t have to be too complicated. A good online company to get ideas is InkHead. If you want to learn about them and read a full article, check out my full article at Digital Marketing Magazine.

  • David, I agree about the signings, with the exception of signings in touristy spots. A Saturday in a B&N or comparable bookstore can get your book into the hands of people from all over.

    I have a friend who went from self published to New York house to big bucks with this method. She lives on the Carolina coast and she made friends with all the bookstores in a hundred miles of beach. She signs *every* weekend in one, *and* every time it rains (which sends tourists in to shop).

    She made signings work. I don’t live near a beach, so that’s out for me. But for some, it purely works.

  • I want one of the whatever they are! Probably! Rest assured, if I find a signing near me, I will go, and I will buy your book, even if you have run out of free whatever-they-ares you’re giving away.

    In Other news, I am now officially writing a book!

    Magical Words, and David’s simple yet oft-repeated advice (mantra?) of “Put your Butt in the Chair and Write”, have inspired me to do just that. My book Idea is less than 48 hours old, but I just wanted everyone at Magical Words to know that if.. WHEN my book is done, it will be, in part, thanks to this blog.

  • Thanks, Frank! We appreciate that.

  • Michele Conti

    Frank – same notion hit me.

    But, I have confidence issues. Oh well, just another obstacle to overcome.

    Freebies, I like freebies. Muchly Appreciated. TeeHee.

    I just have to convince my boyfriend to go to World Fantasy with me. I don’t think a whole bottle of Kali Phos tissue salts would get me through that many people on my own.

  • Judy Bienvenu

    Hi Misty,

    I know folks who have used to purchase “swag” to give out at parties and events. They even have some Pirate stuff. Kind of cheesy, but inexpensive. Worth at least checking them out.


  • Michele Conti

    One thing that sucks about living in Canada is, you can never get the books until weeks after the Americans get them.

    I went to Coles today, in search of Mad Kestrel…and it is not to be released until next month. *sigh* oh well, good things are worth waiting for…