Marketing a debut author/book

From what I’ve been told, marketing a book in traditional ways is difficult in a time of social media. Marketing a debut author is even harder. No one knows who we are; there’s no name recognition to bank on.

In the good old days, a publisher would buy a full page ad in the national newspaper to promote a book but not in this economic turndown. They’re expensive: around $ 7,000, I’m informed, for a single  ad in the Globe and Mail. Publishers are more likely to buy advertising in a subway station, where there’s a captive market, than in a newspaper at that price, particularly when so many people get their news online.

Luckily, because I’ll be published by a big press, I have help figuring this out. There’s a whole marketing department at Penguin Canada to work with, and I’ve even been assigned a publicist to help line up interviews.  (Yes, people, I have “people” of my own now.)

But I’m aware that much of this rests on my shoulders: my contacts, my availability for interviews, my creativity, my salesmanship (and of course, my book. All the marketing in the world won’t sell a bad one).

I’ve already put together a list of what Penguin calls “influential people.” These are friends of mine  that we may send a galley copy to, hoping that if they like it, they’ll tell others. They are also people I would approach to help publicize my launch by telling their networks about it. 

I guess this blog has also become part of the marketing effort. I initially created it to track my journey to publication but I’m happy to say that it’s had over 21,000 hits since I started up a year ago — there are evidently a lot of other debut authors out there interested in seeing how all this goes.

I’ve  contacted a pro about doing a website which we’ll start working on this month. That said, I’m mindful of the fact that people don’t go to websites randomly: they have to be looking for something. They can’t know what they don’t know, so I have to find a way to tell them about the book and whet their appetite.

And so I’ve changed my tagline on my email signature from “If you want it done right, ask a busy person,” to “My novel, The Beggar’s Opera, will be out in February, 2012!!!!” 

I usually field a hundred or so emails a day, so that has to help get the word out to people I might not think to tell about this, like clients and other realtors and the people who contact me trying to sell me stuff (not that I think Nigerian widows, lottery winners, and penis enlargement peddlars are actually interested in The Beggar’s Opera but you never know).

I’m back on Twitter, which I’m actually enjoying this time around (hated it last time) thanks to some of my AW pals who use it not just as a bulletin board but also for some interesting back and forth.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to in the dog days of summer as well as working on Book  Three. And of course, my day job in real estate. By the way, I am never too busy for your referrals :-)).

So all you published authors out there — you were debut too once; maybe you still are. What did you do to help create “buzz” for your book?

Suggestions gratefully received. If I get enough of them, I’ll do a post on it!

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10 Responses to Marketing a debut author/book

  1. Jerome says:

    For my little testimony on the apple’s iBooks store, I recently started a google adwords campaign: small budget (3$ per day) an it helped me get 10 clicks a day on my iBook webpage. This is a small scale attempt (and I wouldn’t consider me as a writer, as I give my own humble testimony in my book), but I’m sure it could help if you put the right budget into it.


  2. Jerome says:

    In short, I put a text ad using google Adwords service: just need to register freely (maybe a Gmail address is required, I did it with a gmail account).
    Then, you set a new campaign and a new ad: 3 lines: first, the pitch, then second line, then the URL you want to lead to.
    Choose your keywords: books, thriller, etc… (Google helps you to find a lot of keywords)
    After that, you choose a budget per day, AND amounts of bid you’d like to put to get a good place to appear (this is were Google makes so much money !).
    Google approves the ad and you’re on business, watching each morning how many clicks you got…!

    I did also a campaign to sell my house: could be VERY useful for you as lots of people are googling to find house: the ad leads to my agent webpage for the house.
    Of course use specific terms concerning what you have to sell: type, localization, etc..
    Any way to increase traffic is good, isn’t it ?


  3. Peggy Blair says:

    Definitely. It’s all about traffic!


  4. Have you looked into advertising on A lot of “iiterate” if not “literarary’ Canadians visit it, including many involved in international issues, who might be interested in your book.


  5. Apologies, that would be “” Yikes. And “literate” Yikes.


  6. Simon says:

    If you’re not already there …

    Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything.

    You can do giveaways at Goodreads and Librarything … they also have a Publishers package (starts at USD2,000) in case you can get the Penguins into it…

    If Penguin won’t spring for that then you can buy smaller click thru ads for thirty cents a click (or whatever you bid but 30 or 50 cents is enough.

    Your Amazon author page (which should be managed by you) also links to your blog and Shelfari.


  7. You could do some guest blogging on other author’s blogs. This works really well, and can exposure your work to a whole new audience.

    You should also look into Facebook. Create a page and start interacting with your audience. Have everything you do link back to your blog/site so there is a central place people can go.


    • Peggy Blair says:

      Thanks David. Both good tips. I have done some guest blogging but at the moment, my FB page is personal. Penguin has suggested creating one for my lead character, Inspector Ramirez. What do you think of that idea?


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