Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Never Go (Book) Marketing Without A List

For a long time the word marketing meant, well, marketing. 

You know:

Peanut Butter
Chocolate Chips

But along comes the time when my life turns that term upside and around and marketing has nothing to do with food or rickety carts or special super sonic discount cards.  Jeez.  I’m so good at grocery shopping! Going to the supermarket. Marketing.  Whatever you want to call it.  I keep a running list through the week of what I need and want. I keep like-items together, sometimes I include recipes. Then, on a full stomach, I go off to the market, list in hand.  And aisle by aisle, I get what I need. Sometimes things I want. Sometimes what I want isn’t there and I either wait or make a substitution.

Hey wait! 

There is no reason that the principles of good food shopping can’t apply to good BOOK marketing. Here's a marketing list to get you started!  

  • Keep a running list. Anytime an author does something you like, or something you don’t like, write it down. Start now so you don't forget anything you need. You know how you can spend $200 in the supermarket and leave without the milk?  Yeah, that. 
  • Figure out what you need, and what you want.  You may want the red velvet cupcakes from the bakery section.  You may want coverage for your book on a snazzy website.  What’s the cost, financially, and to your ultimate goal? If you want to eat healthy, forego the cupcakes. Or buy one. If you are on a tight budget, find a less expensive (or free) way to market your book.  Maybe there’s another site just like it that will offer you the same benefits.  If you need something, figure out a way to get it done. If you want it, decide if it really belongs on the list. Remember, you can always make a new list later. 
  • Search things out.  I don’t know about you but I’m relentless if there is something in a store that I want to find. Things are not always where you think they’ll be, are they?  Go searching through online and in-person marketing opportunities for your book like you were looking for an ingredient for a recipe for your very important person’s birthday. Be relentless.  It won’t come to you. I know this because I've waited. 
  • Ask questions.  Gotta love the produce guy, right? He knows his stuff. He’s done this before and he’s the one who can show you how to pick a ripe cantaloupe.  Ask authors you admire how they found their favorite resources. Follow (stalk) authors and watch what they do. Do that. 
  • Do what you enjoy.  Try new things, but if you like it, you’re more likely to be good at it, follow through, and have your message find the right readers and book buyers.  Book marketing is not one size fits all. Probably the reason I sometimes am tweaking dinner for different family members.
  • Be polite. Others’ time and personal space matters in book marketing. A lot. It’s probably a good idea keep a fair distance in the other market too, so as not to bang your grocery cart into the back of anyone’s ankles. 

Amy Sue Nathan is the author of THE GLASS WIVES, forthcoming from St. Martin's Griffin, May 14, 2013.  She hosts the popular blog, Women's Fiction Writers, and tweets about writing, publishing and chocolate @AmySueNathan


  1. Love this, Amy! I do keep a list, but I like the idea of watching what your other favorite authors do. Great tips!!

    1. Yes, I always stalk, I mean, study, other others. :)

  2. Very clever and apt, Amy. I've been keeping a list, but I want to be more comprehensive and focused about it. The metaphor serves some good inspiration for that, thank you.

    1. You're welcome, Sam. I rely on my lists, that's for sure!

  3. This was great! And such a clever way to frame the advice. :)

    (Red velvet cupcakes...now I really want one! Or three!)

    1. Thank you, Jess. If I think about snacks, everything seems to make better sense.

  4. You make this all sound so practical - be organized, inquisitive, persistent - it almost seems doable!

    1. Lauren, you are an inspiration and make it all look easy. Sneaky of you! ;-)

  5. This is so cute Amy, and got me thinking on many levels. Love the advice to have fun—will have to really meditate on that one, since the idea of marketing in general, among so very many authors who do so distastefully, is bitter. I do have a notebook that will solely be dedicated to this in which I'm already jotting down promises to review, etc. Yours is so close now—I'll be watching!

    But now I must go eat because this post made me hungry.

    1. Stay true to yourself, Kathryn, and ignore the folks who bother you with their marketing efforts. Those aren't the ones you'll learn from anyway. You can do it! I know you can!