What’s the Plan?

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My buddy Sherri sent me a link to a web site that’s accepting  novella submissions for an eBook.  It’s a horror publisher (among other things like dark fantasy/sci-fi/erotica/etc.), and she thought it’d be right up my alley.  I did too.  I mean, I’ve got novellas; I write horror novellas; seems like a match made in heaven, right?

I haven’t submitted yet.

Why not, you idiot?? you ask with passion and vehemence.  What is WRONG with you??  Are you stupid or crazy or both??

I’m not stupid, crazy or any combination of the two.  I’m confused, lost and scared to death.

Of what?  Well, one of the requirements for submission is, include a marketing plan.  No one can promote your book as well as you can, so claims the submissions guidelines.  The publisher wants to know what I’m going to do to hawk my book like a pamphlet-passer in a red-light district.  And you know what?  I have no friggin’ idea what I’m going to do.  I guess I could pass pamphlets, but … y’know.

I’m not into marketing.  I’ve heard of several authors who marketed their books before it got published, or who self-published and marketed their book so effectively it became a million-seller (The Shack, anyone?).  My first understanding of the publishing world was, a non-fiction author had to develop a “platform” – an audience or following of some size – before they propose a book.  For fiction writers, this isn’t necessary.  The publisher is going to produce the marketing for the book, so the author contributes to the publicity by doing the things the publisher arranges (i.e., book signings, radio or television interviews, Oprah, etc.) and has a professional, user-friendly web site to promote the book.  That was it.

Okay, so that was incredibly naive, but that’s what I thought was going on, and some of the agent blogs I read (which, admittedly, are the opinions of those agents only and don’t speak for publishers except in an indirect way) confirmed this.  Marketing is done by the publisher.  Not so for this publisher, though.

Since I don’t have a marketing plan, don’t know the first thing about a marketing plan, and haven’t yet done the research to put a marketing plan together, I’m not ready to submit to this publisher.  And I’m kicking myself for it.

I know I’m going to suck at marketing.  I’m not one for blowing my own horn and if you haven’t noticed, I’m not a people-person.  So, how am I going to market my book?

I don’t know.

How are you writers out there all marketing your books?  How’d you come up with your marketing plan?  What resources did you tap to get there?

Any input’s welcome.  Thanks, y’all!


All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
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13 thoughts on “What’s the Plan?

  1. Ok This is tough love Moment – Dude stop crying about oh I am not good at tooting my own horn about myself and I DONT KNOW HOW TO DO IT. Nobody is going to hand you money and beg you for your story.

    Why not, dammit???

    There are people that would love to be able to write like you SO GET OFF YOUR ASS!!!

    But I do my best writing ON my ass! (Thanks for the compliment, Steve. 🙂 )

    look up how to market yourself..get some self confidence and get with it…your dream is your there but guess what if you dont do something NOW someone is going to take it……SO GET UP NOW AND DO SOMETHING…this message has been brought to you by the Zman

    And now I know I have a friend with a marketing degree who’s willing to help! Woo! Yay for not having to know crap, and MORE Yay for having friends who DO!

  2. Since it’s an epublisher, I’d think most of the marketing could be done online. Blog interview tours, getting reviews on blogs, having a facebook, myspace, web page for the book, giveaways to drive readers to your blog like paperback writer does, building a mailing list…I have a friend who publishes paranormal romances with an e-pub, and those are all things she’s done.

    No tough love here, just regular love. You can do it! (If you want.)

    I do want, and I thank you. It’s a good opportunity and I don’t want to let it slip by (even though their “we own the stuff you send for THREE YEARS” made me wince a little). And I love you too. I’ll have to pay more attention to PBW and see what she’s doing. Thanks again, sweetie. 🙂 *hug*

  3. I uh, have a marketing degree and love putting this kind of stuff together. I’d be happy to help you develop a marketing plan / timeline with everything you’d like to do. It’s what I’m good at 🙂


    Thank you soooo much, Kree. Consider yourself hired. Erm … volunteered (I can’t pay you) to put together an Internet-based marketing plan to peddle my books. You can start … NOW! 😉

    Seriously, thank you. I appreciate it if you can do it.

  4. My plan for marketing has been pretty randome really. I chose to have free material available via my website and blog and see if those freebies generate any sales of my novel.

    This is a pretty typical tactic, actually. Nothing random about that. It’s something King and Koontz have both used to great success, and no doubt many others as well.

    It’s hasn’t made me a millionaire but I do have a following (and the chicks dig me).

    No they don’t. I asked.

    In fact I would say I got a lot of great tips about blog promotion from you so don’t sell you mad skillz short yo.

    Well, thanks, Dawg. You da bomb. Glad I could help, yo.

    Did you check out this article? Some good stuff here…


    Uh … well, I’m sure it works great for one out of every couple million authors, but self-publishing is a TOUGH. ROW. TO. HOE. No two ways ’bout it.

    If I can get the cash and the manuscript tuned up I plan to have a book of stories available via Lulu. Wish me luck!

    Only the best of it shall I wish for you, bud. 🙂

  5. I’m going to go against all the comments here and say… If it’s published as an ebook and you have to do all the marketing yourself, what do you need the “publisher” for anyway? Why sign away your rights for three years for what looks like nothing?

    You can make your own ebooks. It’s not rocket science; google on the formats (acrobat-pdf, mobipocket-prc, microsoft reader-lit… There are a couple of others, look at the offerings of an online publisher that actually sells stuff for more examples). The formats I named can all be generated from .html by freeware (and a decent word processor will save to .html — admittedly crappy html, but it’s good enough for the converters to handle). Buy web hosting and a shopping cart to automate the process (otherwise, you’d have to use PayPal and email the book to buyers — doesn’t look so professional and you’ll lose the impulse purchaser). OR, work with an online publisher that behaves like a real publisher, e.g. they make the book available on their web-based shopping cart, they promote it (and it never hurts to blow your own horn and pound your own drum, so use that marketing help you’re offered), they pay you a royalty ranging from 10% (bleah) to 50% (excellent) of the book’s sales. They keep certain rights for a certain time period (read your contract, and if you can get free agenting, woo-hoo! Otherwise it may not be worthwhile for a first ebook), leaving you free to sell other rights if you can, and they give you something of value in return for the rights they retain and the money they keep from sales.

    Certainly something to think about, isn’t it? Unfortunately, the expense of even epublishing at this point is beyond me. I’m not adverse to having stories I never thought would see print go published just for exposure. It can’t hurt, but being paid is better, for sure. I’ve looked into self-publishing before, but it was the expense and the marketing that put me off it in the first place. Still, something to consider. If all else fails, I can look into it when I’m in a better financial place.

    Thanks for chiming in, hon, and it’s so good to see you again!

  6. O hey. Forgot to add. sorry for the double post, but —

    Question, what is the website? Can you share?

    Let’s see … I think it was Damnation Books. Check it out. 🙂

    One big downside of do-your-own-marketing presses, from respectable Lulu to ripoff Publish America, is that they don’t usually provide any editing or proofreading help. You need a good editor — or “beta reader.”

    Ah, but that, my dear, is a specialty of mine. 😉 Getting the book copy edited and ready for publication doesn’t daunt me as much as the cost of self-publishing — both to my reputation among traditional publishers and financially. I will always call for beta readers, but copy editing I can do. 🙂

  7. “You need a good editor — or “beta reader.””

    *coughcoughcough*AHEM!*coughcoughcough* Sorry! Just clearing my throat.

    ~Chopped Liver 😉

    What? I said I don’t need help. That included you, so you weren’t left out. What’s yo’ prob? 😉

  8. My wife is my regular beta reader. After over ten years of marriage she’s a master at it.

    In fact you might say she’s a “master beta”

    Not that I would of course.

    Of course. Never.

  9. Damnation Press looks legit, just new. If they have the selling end and they do market — they just expect you to help — 3 year North American print and worldwide e-book rights seems very fair. They’re brand new so they have no track record, but hey, we all started somewhere! I’m pulling a u-turn after seeing their site and saying go ahead, submit it!

    Well, the 3 years is a long time. A LOOOONG time. If the story I sub is popular and a mainstream publisher wants it, I can’t give it. That’s my only hesitation. Yes, they did look legit, but that marketing requirement is what’s got me balking.

    And if they say no after all, go to the library and look up publishers in the Writer’s Market and send it out some more.

    Oh, I’ve got a list of ’em I can hit before I have to resort to The Writer’s Market yet. 😉

    Thanks for sounding off, E! Love you hon!

  10. It’s a huge misconception that most publishers will be marketing your book. Really the only time they market your book is if they dish out a large advance. Authors need to be more active in book promotion, more so now than ever before. There are several book at Amazon on self-promotion and book marketing. You may be able to get used books really cheap.

    Things you can do very inexpensively or for FREE:

    Have a website if you don’t.

    Write a press release and send it to your local media.

    Join online networks and organizations of people who write in that genre and get your name out there. In those forums/places, look for individuals to organize a blog book tour.

    Make MySpace and Authors Den profiles and facebook pages for your ebook and pen name. Exposure is good. Also join groups on those sites and post notices of your publication.

    Make a book trailer with windows movie maker. It’s easy to learn. You can get photos at istock really cheap and royalty-free music cheap. Crank out a 30-sec commercial or something and plaster that baby everywhere. There are hundreds of video sites online.

    Have readings/discussions at your local libraries. You could have a really cool one close to Halloween with a horror/suspense/paranormal theme. Some book stores let writers do this too. Make flyers and send out press releases to drum up interest.

    Print out some flyers promoting your book and post them on any board you can.

    If you have any writing chapters or meetup groups in your area, network and make some flesh and blood connections.

    Building your email address book and contact list and send out publication updates.

    *Whew!* I’m exhausted just READING about the process! Thanks for all the fantastic tips, Courtney!

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