BEFORE submitting your manuscript, you should have a marketing plan in place. I know, that sounds crazy, but it’s true. You need to look beyond your first publication. I’ll bet you already have tons of ideas for the next book. Heck fire, you might already have it written! Your publisher may even ask what your long range plan is, so be prepared for that.
I got accepted by a small press, Briona Glen Publishing in New Hampshire. My vision for my book was one of their submission requirements. What? My vision? I just wanted to get published and make enough money to get a facelift! Oh, and go on Oprah, of course.
Since I didn’t think they would appreciate my petty, selfish plan, I came up with something more serious.
First, I wanted my book to be written well enough to deserve publication. However, having a book published certainly doesn’t guarantee success. I think you could ask any popular author about their achievements, and they would all say marketing/promoting their book played more of a part in their success than the actual writing. Let’s face facts, you can have a well written book, but if no one ever hears about it . . . well, you’ll only have a well written book . . . sitting on a shelf gathering dust.
Second, Ann Everett is a pen name. I chose it for two reasons. Ann is mine and my daughter’s middle name. Everett is my husband and son’s middle name. Yes, in Texas, we’re so vain, we name our children after ourselves. Since my writing style has been compared to Janet Evanovich, choosing Ann Everett, also worked out nicely for me to be on bookstore shelves next to her.
I said my style has been compared to her, but it ends there. Her series character, Stephanie Plum is single. My character, Tizzy Donovan, is a widow and single mother. Stephanie can’t decide which man she wants, Ranger or Morelli. Tizzy hasn’t been with a man in almost five years! Stephanie never has any money. Tizzy has plenty. Plum’s story takes place in a city, mine in rural Texas. Stephanie is a bond enforcement officer, but never has bullets for her gun. Tizzy works in a bakery, has a gun, and knows how to use it. Many differences, but the crazy, over-the-top humor is similar and I certainly don’t mind being compared to a best- selling author!
Lastly, and this is the most important part, I pitched my book as the first in a series of three, with a cookbook between the second and third installment. Why a cookbook, you ask? Well, in the novel, the bake shop is named Sweet Thangs and owned by sisters Pattiecake McAlister and Sugarpie Monroe.
When I submitted the manuscript, I didn’t realize I had a marketing plan, but I did! Three humorous, romance mysteries, with a non-fiction book thrown into the middle.
Briona Glen saw that as smart, because fiction and non-fiction market in different ways and they believed fans of the novels would want to buy the cookbook and cooks would most likely want to buy the series.
It’s too soon to tell if the plan works. The second novel, YOU’RE BUSTING MY NUPTIALS, is due for release in August 2012, the cookbook, SWEET THANGS, probably late 2013. See what I did? I just promoted both books!!
If the plan works or not, at least having it in place in the beginning allows me to market the upcoming novels and cookbook (like I just did) right along with my first book, LAID OUT AND CANDLE LIT.
At signings, I have fliers advertising the release of the second book and a handout of a recipe which will be included in the cookbook. I Facebook recipes. I blog recipes. I sometimes serve a recipe at a book signing. All gimmicks, but part of the plan.
Blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are all part of marketing. You need to have those in place as well, BEFORE your book comes out. However, don’t use those places to promote your book over and over, with tweet after tweet. Use the social networks to help establish your name. Taking part in some of the discussions, tweeting each day, staying connected to your FB friends, and listing your website, will help you do that.
So, take a look at your novel. Do you have something in it you can market other than just the story? I have a friend who incorporated horse show competitions into her book. Think of all the horse related clubs and organizations where she can market.
Perhaps one of your characters does volunteer work for a particular organization or is a member of a special group or one who does DIY projects. You could market by tweeting or blogging helpful hints.
I have another friend who centers his mysteries on the Sweet Adeline’s. He’ll be able to attend SA conventions and join their on-line groups to sell his books.
Do you have something in your book you’ll be able to capitalize on? If you do, you may already have a marketing base and not know it.
Bottom line. Get a plan. When your book launches, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.