Tuesday, March 22, 2011


So we’re talking about marketing and publicity this month.
Now, there’s a topic that’s guaranteed to put gray hairs into a writer’s mane.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: 50% of your promo works, but we don’t know which 50%.

And if we did, we’d all be sleeping better at night.

Here’s what I do know: there’s no magic bean. No special trick that’ll assure success. No single right way to do it. Twitter isn’t necessarily better than Facebook, or vice versa. Blogging works wonderfully for some people, but not so well for others. Some people really get off on doing booktrailers and skype interviews; other people avoid them like the plague.

You gotta find what works for you. Same as when you write, really. We all write a certain type of book, be it a romance, a mystery, science fiction or fantasy... or around here, a lot of just plain Southern fiction, it seems. You probably chose it because it interested you, it’s what you read yourself, and you turned out to be pretty good at it. You were probably better than you were at writing anything else. It was what suited your voice.

Has anyone ever heard a classically trained opera singer try to sing a pop song?

If you have, believe me, you won’t soon forget it. The singer might have the most gorgeous voice you’ve ever heard, lauded in opera houses across the world, but he or she can’t pull off a chorus of 'The Man in the Mirror’ without sounding laughable.

Because that type of song doesn’t sit well in that type of voice.

And it’s the same with us. We write what we write because it’s what suits us. It comes easy. It sits right in our vocal range.

We have to do the same thing with promo and marketing. Yeah, some people do really well with blogging. They have thousands of followers who hang on their every post and run out to buy their books the moment they appear in stores. Good for them. It makes perfect sense that if it works so well for them, we should do the same.


Maybe not. If blogging three times a week is agony, you probably shouldn’t do it. Why put yourself through that? You’ll hate it, and the fact that you do will come across, believe me. Find something else to do, something that works for you. Something you enjoy.

All promotion, marketing, and PR comes down to one thing, and one thing only: getting the word out. The best way to sell books, what we all wish for, is buzz. Word of mouth. One person telling another person, “This book is awesome; you have to read it!” And in our day and age, we’re lucky to have a lot of different ways to get that message out.

There’s Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads and LibraryThing. There’s blogging and there’s reviewing other people’s books, so that when yours comes out, you’ll already have built a reputation and people will want to check out what you’ve written. There’s free promo and promo you pay for, there’s internet ads and postcards you send in the mail. There’s press releases and free keychains. Conferences you can go to and online workshops you can teach. There’s literally a million different ways you can put yourself out there. The trick is to find what works for you; your personality and your budget.

And then keep doing it. Because at least 50% of what you’re doing works. You just won’t know which 50%.


Jennie Bentley is the author of the bestselling Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. Book 4, Mortar and Murder, was released in January. You can find out more about Jennie and her doings and undoings on her website, http://www.jenniebentley.com/

1 comment:

Brey said...

so useful

Love reading your blog, check mines out as I'm just starting out...