Want Your Book to SELL?

Want Your Book to SELL?

OK peeps – as promised, I’m providing some of the information from this year’s HNS Conference. The first session I dropped in on was “Breaking In and Staying In the Historical Fiction Game”, a panel presented by Michelle Moran, Karen Essex, and C. W. Gortner. Thanks to these wonderful peeps for their expertise!  If anything here doesn’t make sense, cough that up to my poor note-taking skills rather than any error on their part, OK?

Here’s the gist of things they suggested you do once you are published to ensure longevity (read “increased sales”) in your career.

Michelle Moran (author of Nefertiti) offered these specific suggestions:

  • Plan on spending at least 10-20% of your advance on marketing/publishing
  • Fly to New York (or wherever!) to meet : 1) your editor, 2) your publicity team, and 3) your marketing team
  • Know the difference between the publicity department and the marketing department. The publicity department handles reviews or anything else “free” that promotes your book. The marketing department handles ads.
  • If you haven’t done so already, create an author website that includes a page for bloggers. This page should contain images of your book that they can download, links to Amazon, etc. It should also have a form where bloggers can contact you for Q&A, guest posts, etc.
  • Consider the difference between spending this money on print and internet ads vs. internet only. It’s hard to judge the value of print advertising (so, if you’re printing up bookmarks, how many sales are these really getting you?). Internet advertising, however, is easy to measure. You can see the effect of every click. When purchasing these ads, ask yourself “Who is my target market?” For me, that would mean “What kind of people are interested in Vikings?” This isn’t just readers. What about people who are traveling to the place you’re writing about? In my case, this would be Norway and France.

Karen Essex had this to say:

  • Decide whether you just want to enjoy writing, or if you want to enjoy writing and publishing
  • If you want to enjoy writing and publishing, you must be tireless in making sure your books reach an audience
  • She agreed that you must do all the things Michelle mentioned to get attention from your publisher; understand that publicity departments have about 3 weeks on your book before they move on to the next book on their list
  • Make yourself useful. Write about people that readers want to read about. And yes, you must tailor your material to the public taste.
  • Talk to book clubs
  • Also, you must reconcile the beast of “going commercial” vs. “being artistic.” Bottom line: what will allow you to live your dream?

C. W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen, had this to say:

  • It took him 13 years to get published; but when he did, his book sold at auction ($$$$$$)
  • Do your face time. He immediately went to New York  to meet his editors and marketing people
  • He spent half of his advance (people, half is 50%) on  marketing. Be persistent in your marketing. He focused on stretching the usual 2 weeks of hardcover promotion to 6 weeks instead.
  • There is value in virtual blog tours – but before going to a blog, check and make sure it has comments (because most frequently, comments = traffic)
  • Know that marketing for your hardcover pays off in the paperback sales
  • Use Google Alerts to see where you pop up in blogs (so he’s getting an alert on this now!)

Folks, all these experts agreed that you need to meet with your agent and do a marketing plan. Tell the marketing department at your publisher that you want to partner with them in the marketing of your book. Present the plan (drafted by you and your agent) to your publisher and let them choose what they want to do on the list – then you’re free to do the rest.

Remember – if you plan on a lengthy career as a writer, this translates into sales. It’s all about sales. Don’t forget it.