Marketing 101: Essentials

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I’m getting pretty used to opening my front door and finding a package waiting for me.  What did I order this time?  Sometimes I can’t go to sleep, so I stay up and entertain myself with shopping sites.  It’s amazing what I think I need at 2 AM versus what I think I need at 2 PM!  
So there’s this huge package on my doorstep, evidentally dropped by a drone since I never heard a delivery truck.  The heavens dropped this here by magic. Must be something great inside. And. It’s. FREE!!!
Hours later…
Um, I have all these nice little colored boxes of various sizes.  It was quite thrilling to open each one, but all I see are some weird pieces and paper with tiny printing on it.  Oh no!!  I have to read INSTRUCTIONS.  It probably looked good in the ad, but now I have to put it together?  Really??  
My favorite expression right now is expectations versus realities.  This box EXPECTS me to assemble the parts–ha!  Not my forté.  However, when I ordered this, I must have believed there was some real component to it that would have a REAL impact on my writing career.
So, let’s unwrap each box together and simplify the assembly.  You will not need any special tools unless you need some special tools.
 
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The Copper Package

There are essentials to marketing anything today.  The book industry is tough.  If you think you have just written the Great American Novel, maybe somebody but you should know about this revolutionary piece of literature.  How do you get the word out?  Open the box and start with #1.
#1  You must have a website.  No website=pretty much nothing.  Don’t expect to be acknowledged as an author or sell any books without one. Brick and mortar is going the way of dust.  When a client of mine described what the closing of a Barnes and Noble did to her community, I was shocked.  Yes, I can and do, obviously, order online, but when it comes to books, I’d like my experience to be in a store.  That is exactly how many authors gauge their success:  I got into B&N!!  Yeah! Get a website.  If you know what you are doing, you can go to Wix, Weebly, use Apple templates (Sandvox)–anything to get you started.  Minimally, you should have a page about you, a page about your book, a way to contact you and order the book, and a blog so you can stay in touch with fans.
Price: minimum is free
#2  You must have a domain name appropriate for your site. GoDaddy or other websites will offer you the opportunity to purchase one there.
Price: $100+
#3  You must have a professional email address.  If you are currently using slutty909 or cock#1, get a new one.  These look like you are immature or don’t take your writing seriously. Yahoo and gmail addresses are usually accepted, but rather than take the chance, change to one that reflects you as the professional writer you are.  This will be included in your website hosting or domain name.
Price: free as included
#4. You must have a Facebook account.  Whether you like it or not, there are millions of active people and groups on Facebook.  You can control who sees what, but remember your goal is to get your name out there and sell books.  Authors survive and build reputations based on exposure. I do agree that FB only targets people over 30.  There are similar ways, but different methods, to reach the under 30 crowd.  If you are Facebook shy, ask someone to set you up.  You will need a profile page and a post page.
Price: free although you can purchase FB ads
These are just some groups I have found lately that look very promising: Writers’ Group, Children’s Book Reviews and Promos, A Place to Promote Children’s, Reviewmates, Writing for Children: A Community for Kidlit Writers, Writers Helping Writers, Fiction Writing, Writers Assembled.  More pop up every day.
#5  You must have a professional headshotDo not use a selfie.  Those things you have hanging on your wall that you don’t really notice get quite the attention when they look like alien antennas or something sticking out of your head.  Maybe you know a photographer or can watch for specials.  Conferences generally offer free or very inexpensive headshots.  NOTE:  you do not own that photograph even though you paid for it.  The photographer owns it.  You will need a signed release.  Most photographers have the paperwork.
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#6  You must have a business card that advertises you as an author or writer.  The best ones I have seen are very simple:  a cursive or printed name of the author with “author” below it.  Detail information can go on the reverse side.  This is your job, not a hobby or something you do when time affords it.  Take your writing side seriously.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the bronze plan.  Obviously, that package has more to assemble and may require some outside assistance.  Just saying…
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Tips for First-time Authors

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How to I start?

Typically, you pitch an idea or send a query letter before you write an entire manuscript that may or may not be accepted.  Don’t pitch to a company that doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.  Don’t pitch a romance to a company that specializes in mystery or a children’s book to a company that specializes in adult literature.  Do your homework.  Check websites or get access to the Writer’s Market.

Do I send everything?

Never write or submit more than an idea or several chapters  It’s unrealistic to expect one or more people to drop a current project and read your 50,000 words overnight.

What about a contract?

Never work without a contract.  Contracts vary from company to company.  Again, unless you are Stephen King, Lady Gaga, or a Real Housewife, don’t expect millions in signing bonuses.  Traditional publishing houses are not going to extend any offer until you have proven yourself profitable.  Small publishing houses don’t make those kinds of offers.

How long before I publish my book?

Just because you have finished writing, or assume you have a final product, that is not true.  You are now in the hands of several editors and the editing process.  And unless you are Ernest Hemingway, you need those editors.  (See my blog about the publishing process and what does an editor do.)

You want the best for your “baby.”  There are short cuts, but that doesn’t guarantee your baby will be healthy and thrive.