by Susan Cushman
As I considered the theme for this round of posts—“Best advice to a new author on how to get publicity,” I initially decided to leave the marketing advice to my fellow bloggers here who actually have published books, and also to the professionals, like Jane Friedman, author of the Writer’s Digest blog, “There Are No Rules.” Her January 17 post, “How to Find a Direct Line to Your Readers,” (an interview with Patricia Davis,) is full of terrific marketing advice.
And check out this article by Guy Gonzales, (Gonzales and Davis were both speakers at the 2011 Writers Digest Conference) on “Marketing Yourself in the Digital Age.”
But then I considered what I might have to offer, as an emerging writer, down here in the trenches, building a platform and finding my way around the social media while trying to finish my two books-in-progress. I came up with three building blocks of pre-book marketing—the ABCs of Book Buzz.
ARCS: I just read an interesting post about ARCs (Advance Readers’ Copies) at the Waxman Literary Agency’s blog. The post talks about good ways to use ARCs as pre-marketing for your book, but also warns against some abuses:
“… why do we now have an ARC culture where people collect them like trading cards, or display them like spoils of war after a trade show, or go online to sell & buy them on eBay, or pass them person to person so everyone on the internet with even a passing interest has read the book two months before it even hits shelves?”
63 people left comments on that post, so you might want to check it out if you use ARCs to create buzz for your books. I’m always happy to receive them from authors who know that I review books on my blog, but I never pass them on to others when I’ve finished. Instead, I encourage them to visit their independent bookseller (or order online or download to their e-reader) to purchase their own copy. I’m almost finished with an ARC I recently won in a contest. Watch for my blog review of The Inheritance of Beauty—coming February 8—by “A Good Blog”’s own Nicole Seitz. And check out the “Reviews and Buzz” section of Nicole’s web site to see good marketing in action.
BLOGS: My first strategy for pre-marketing for future books was to start a blog. I’ve averaged 3 posts/week over at Pen and Palettesince August of 2007. I try to balance the topics: writing, art, spirituality, personal/travel/family, so that my readers won’t get bored. Then about a year ago, I sent a guest post to Karin Gillespie here at “A Good Blog” and soon thereafter became a regular blogger here. In January I did the same with Jane Friedman at “There Are No Rules,” and now I’m writing for her Writer’s Digest blog (which gets over 50,000 readers/month) once a month. (My next post at “No Rules” is this Friday, February 4.) Whenever I post on any of these 3 blogs, I link to each post on Facebook and Twitter. I also frequently comment on other writer’s blogs and link back to my own site. If you think blogging is overrated as a marketing move, check out Scott La Counte’s article in the February issue of The Writer, “From the little blog that could, a book contract.”
CLIPS: The third thing that comes to mind is my eight published essays. (A ninth will be out in April, and a chapter I contributed to an anthology will be out later this year.) I set out to write short pieces for the sole purpose of getting some published clips to include when I am ready to query agents for my books. But somewhere along the way I fell in love with the essay, as a literary genre, and as something I love to write. I think it was Anne Lamott who said that the essay is a one-night stand and the novel is a jealous mistress, and that she writes essays when she needs a quick fix. Instant justification. I find myself feeling that way when I’m in the throes of the long form, trying to hold it together for at least 60,000 words. I set the book aside and write an essay and voila! I feel confident again. And yes, getting those essays published is a marketing move for when my first book is finished, but it’s also an end in itself.
So, I guess that’s a wrap. Leave a comment (and link back to your own site!) to join the conversation. I’d love to hear about your own experience with ARCs, blogs, clips or other marketing maneuvers.
Susan's essays have been published in The Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Journal (2007 finalist), First Things: The Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life, and several other journals and magazines. In 2011, her essay, “Chiaroscuro: Shimmer Shadow,” will appear in the second volume of All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, from the University of Alabama Press. Susan’s blog, Pen and Palette, was voted one of 50 Top Creative Writing Blogs of 2010 by Awarding the Web. She is a regular guest blogger on Jane Friedman’s Writers’ Digest blog, "There Are No Rules." She is currently writing a novel and a nonfiction book.