Marketing for Success 101: And the Gold Goes to…

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You, of course!

How did you get to the top?  You worked hard (unpacking boxes-ha!).

Seriously, though, you did work hard; dissecting and utilizing all the tools of marketing is intimidating.

So, your final manuscript should glow like gold in the hands of an agent, editor, or publisher.  You get the gold because you took the following actions.

iu-5.jpegEditing.  I don’t know how many posts and lectures I have given on this topic.  It seems to be the area where a new author wants to take high risk.  Agents, editors, publishers are very busy.  We usually have a year’s worth of work stacked high and more comes every day.  Thousands and thousands of manuscripts.  No one can read all that.  So, the norm is to read about 3 pages.  If there are too many typos or grammar problems, that’s a giant red flag.  Your ms is not going anywhere except back to you or the trash.  I know that’s harsh.  How else can I get this point across?  People like books that flow and sustain some kind of pace.  Typos and grammar problems ruin everything.  You don’t want your reader stumbling from word to word.

Note:  not all editors are the same.  If you are writing fantasy, find one who likes fantasy. He or she is already familiar with the genre, loves to read it, and knows what reader expectations are.  A proofreader is not an editor.  See my previous blogs on editing.

Note:  get quotes.  If you have $25 in your pocket and the bill is $250 for editing, you may want to get more resourceful.  Self-publishers should particularly pay attention to this.  Knowing where to find a good editor can be problematic.  Ask for recommendations.  If you are reading a book that you think is exceptionally organized, see if the editor’s name or company is on the title page or acknowledgment page.  Ask me.  I know some great, very thorough editors with decades of experience.

Price:  Free to $$

iu-6.jpegArt Work.  If you are not already an artist, don’t think you are going to sit down with Photoshop tonight and design an award-winning cover.  I wish it did work like that.  Finding good art that works in a book has been the most challenging part of my job.  I wrote quite a few kids’ stories a long time ago, but that’s where it ended because I had no clue where to find an illustrator.  Then I published novels.  Again, the art was a problem until I lucked into a great cover designer at a conference.  You never know whom you will connect with.

Invest in a good illustrator or cover designer.  Use somebody who does this as a job, not a hobby.  Communicate.  Communicate. Communicate.  If you want a white dog and you get a brown one, say something.  You may be paying for illustrations you are not going to use.

There is no such thing as a good cover.  You need a good front cover AND a good back cover.  The front cover serves to grab someone’s attention.  Colors should be genre appropriate, no more than 3 fonts from the same family, and give standard information:  title, author, series, and maybe a comment.  It must be readable.  The back cover compels the looker to buy.  A back cover could include a blurb, reviews, author bio info. You can find writers who specialize in writing back covers.

If your book isn’t selling, ask someone to look at the first 3 pages.  If there are many errors, fix them.  If there aren’t any errors, then redo the covers. You could go as far as also changing the title.  Of course, that’s going to cost you an ISBN each time, but you do what you have to sell the book.

Price:  Free to $$

iu-7.jpegIdentify your genre.  If you don’t know what the genre is, nobody else does either.  Different genres have different rules.  Prologues are good for epic fantasy and sci-fi, but not for any other genre.  You can create all kinds of worlds which may or may not be logical.  Your reader will buy into one unbelievable fact, but not two. Even color has something to say.  Three years ago turquoise on a cover indicated you were reading a metaphysical book.  That color is everywhere now.

Plus, there are new genres and niche categories popping up every day.  Boomer Lit started about 6 months ago.  Bizarro Lit, Ergodic Lit, Oulip.  Sorry.  I have no experience here.  They are too new to the market.

Price: Free

iu-8.jpegNow you have a finished product, so start entering contests and get your book out there.

If you are writing a children’s book, Google children’s book contests.  How many contests you enter often depends upon the time of year.  There are many to enter right now (October).

If you follow me on FB, I repost contests the minute one shows up in my feed.

Note:  watch the fees.  They vary from Free to $$.  If you are paying a fee, what are you getting?  Yes, you can say you won such and such and maybe you have a medallion to put on your books, but what else?  Any publicity with that or is it over?  Any contest that charges exorbitant rates should provide something other than a medallion or the jpg of a medallion.  AND it should be a prestigious award.  Some money would be nice. (Smile)

Note:  always read the fine print.  Every contest is different.  PDF or hard copy?  How many hard copies?  What category?  One or cross categories?  Fees.  If you enter a contest and the prize is the publication of your work, don’t enter several of those.  You could be looking at legal issues.  If you win, did you sign a contract that promises you’ll be there?

Tomorrow, I’ll address questions and offer what little financial advice I can provide.  I’m also putting together a list of marketing agencies who have some experience with fiction. If you want to turn the entire marketing project over to a third party, there are some good people to work with.  (I also know the scammers.)

Hope to see you or interact with you in a FB Group–never a dull moment there!

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