Take An Educated Shot in the Dark
As an editor, I’ve received the blasted submissions. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s when a writer determines their manuscript is ready to go out into the market. Then the writer researches online or using a market guide or some other resource with the names and email addresses of many different editors. He writes his open line something like, “Dear Editor” then blasts out the exact same submission to a variety of locations at the same time. The effort is totally legitimate because he mentions in the body of the letter that it’s a simultaneous submission. I’d be surprised if the blasted submission approach gathers much interest except a pile of formula rejection letters.
Instead my preference is to use the educated shot in the dark method. You will notice that it still is a gamble and nothing is definite—but it’s an educated and calculated program. I use this method whether I’m submitting a book proposal, writing a query letter or pitching an idea to an editor. Also I use it in the marketing area for my new book.
Publicity and promotion is a constant for any writer (and if you aren’t doing it, you should be). You have to be promoting new ideas or telling people about your latest project. As you get work, it initiates more work—or so it seems from my experience. In the area of book promotion, you can promote your book over a long term period (and you need to do so). The fragile and critical areas for book promotion are in the beginning. It’s particularly critical the weeks before the book is released then for the first six to eight months of the book’s release. When you turn in your manuscript to a publisher, you should be thinking about promotion. It may be another six to nine months or even a year before the book appears in print. As the author, you need to be proactively working on spreading the news about your new book. Whether your publisher creates a marketing plan or not, as the author you need to be creating and executing a plan. Publishers are looking for authors who understand the necessity of book promotion and are willing to use their own resources to sell books.
There are some great books to teach writers in this area such as Beyond the Bookstore by Brian Jud. You learn that more than 50% of the books sold are sold outside the traditional bookstore market. Jud teaches you how to tap into that market and includes a marketing CD in the back of this book which I highly recommend. Another book to teach you about this area is Publicize Your Book by Jacqueline Deval. It has excellent tips about how an author can come along side the publisher and support their efforts and not be a pain or high maintenance. Deval has worked as a director of publicity inside various major publishers and understands the limitations of a publisher. The book has a unique perspective. Another excellent title is from Tom and Marilyn Ross called Jump Start Your Book Sales! Some of the information in this 1999 release is dated but it contains excellent and powerful ideas.
I’ve been reviewing these books on my shelf because I’m working on marketing a forthcoming book. I understand the exact results from my efforts are difficult to measure. It’s part of the uncertainty that comes in the publicity/ marketing area. There are many factors which go into why a person will purchase a particular book. Maybe the endorsement on the cover of the book will attract the person. Possibly the subject matter or the reader’s history with this particular author. I believe I’ve read that you have to hear about a book or a product something like six or seven times before you purchase it (on the average). Publicity is a part of creating this buzz around your book or product. In some ways, my publisher is charged with working on these aspects. Also the author needs to dig into these aspects.
And the specifics about how I’m personally taking an educated shot in the dark? This post has grown too long. Come back tomorrow and I’ll have the details.