Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Build a Marketing Database

Today I read an article that reminded me of the importance of marketing your book. Sure, all writers know you have to market and promote your book, but how many of us are actually ready to do that and are maximizing our efforts?

The article was Port Orchard’s Macomber Isn’t Known Well, Just Read Well by John Marshall, the book critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It was a phone interview with romance, or women’s fiction, writer Debbie Macomber. She has over 70 million copies of her books in print.

One thing that I noticed right away was this comment by Macomber:
I have a mailing list of 75,000 readers -- and these are not lists I have bought; every one of those readers has been in touch with me personally. Every city I am going to, I send out postcards to everyone on my list in that city and neighboring ZIP codes. I have a staff of three who help me with that. So I'm bringing a lot of people into the bookstores where I appear.
Now that’s being ready to market. Yes, she has staff to help her, but my guess is that she didn’t have help in the beginning of her career. Another guess would be that even without help, she started building her database of contacts.
That’s what every writer needs to do. Keep records of friends, acquaintances, anyone who might be interested in reading, especially in reading your book. Nowadays, we tend to keep in contact with people via email. But you can see the importance of knowing the snail mail addresses of your contacts. If you know their zip code, then you can contact them to let them know you’re coming into their area.

It’s important to start now. Even if you’re not published yet. Even if you’re on book ten. Start a mailing list. Build a database. And, yes, keep those email addresses as well. When you do book signings or talks, pass around a sign up sheet. When you meet and talk to people at a conference or event, get their business cards. Think about ways to build your database. As you become more well-known, like Macomber, your list will grow from those sign-up sheets, from fans emailing you. But even before you’re published, you can start on your list.

Once you’ve built a base list, keep adding to it. If you do it in increments, it’ll be a lot easier than if you suddenly have a book signing or a tour and you’re scrambling to come up with people to send notices to.

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