Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gabrielle S. Faust on Book Marketing

Our guest author today is Gabrielle S. Faust. Faust is the author of the ETERNAL VIGILANCE vampire series, as well as two collections of poetry entitled BEFORE ICARUS, AFTER ACHILLES and CROSSROADS. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and currently pens articles for such sites as Fear Zone, Fatally Yours, Austin Art Examiner and Sci-Fi Wire. More information about Faust and her work can be found on her website, www.gabriellefaust.com.

Outside of the literary world, Faust is also widely recognized in the graphic design and illustration communities for her creativity. With over ten years of professional experience, including the founding of Faust Productions, a freelance studio offering graphic design and brand development services, as well as public relations and marketing (focusing primarily on the publishing and independent film industries) for an international portfolio of clients.

She’s going to talk to us today about promoting your books and yourself. Welcome Gabrielle.

Welcome To Book Marketing

That brilliant day has finally come! You’ve received the official acceptance letter from a publisher. All of your hard work has paid off, all of the long hours sweating over your manuscript, all of the tears cried over rejection letters somehow justified. You are a published author. You can sit back, kick up your heels and bask in the ethereal glow of your success. New York art socialites will ask you to attend their parties as the “interesting author”, universities and conferences will ask you to speak for their attendees, royalty checks will be sitting in your mailbox each time you open it…or so the your vision of that day had played out time and time again in your head. And you were content to live blissfully in that delusion. You never would have thought that the hardest leg of your journey had not even begun! No one warned you of the crash course in marketing you would need to master once the book was in print and sitting there like a newborn infant, unable to feed or clothe itself. Yes, my dear authors, it would appear that writing the book, even finding a publisher, is the easy part. Now you must promote it.

The golden era of large-scale in-house marketing departments and fabulously overflowing promotional coffers is unfortunately as extinct as the Ankylosaurus. In today’s fast-paced, cutthroat world of publishing, authors are, more often than not, left to their own devices when it comes to generating sufficient buzz surrounding their work. If said author is unversed in the hydra monster of advertising and marketing, it can be a terrifying undertaking, at least at first. I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend the first ten years of my professional career as an art director and brand manager in the graphic design studio/ad agency world and, thus, it was only second nature to me to instantly begin developing my marketing strategy and brand to promote my vampire series ETERNAL VIGILANCE, even before the first novel was in print. However, I can’t imagine having not had that experience and honed skill set before attempting such a feat. I have heard repeatedly from other authors that the marketing of their book is overwhelming and, at times, feels like a full-time job in itself. They were sadly unprepared for the work that lay ahead of them; those that were able to embrace it have flourished while others have become incredibly discouraged by the process. This is not said to frighten anyone from the publishing world, by any means, but to simply realign one’s expectations to a more realistic outlook of the future, after publication. You, the author, must do the prep work ahead of time, investing the necessary hours to teach yourself about marketing basics and develop a strategic plan of action to ensure that the world hears you and that your work is not buried under the avalanche of titles published each year. You can’t rely on your publisher, your agent, your distributor or your editor to do the work for you. The life of your book is in your hands. Try not to drop it on its head.

There are a few simple things you can do, to start with, to begin developing your book marketing savvy. The first of which is to check out the most current books on marketing strategy. You can find these in your Graphic Design section of your local bookstore or library. While you’re in this department, thumb through some of the books on design trends (logo design, advertisement design, packaging design, etc.). This will give you a current outlook on what is considered “hot” in the world of advertising and design. What you may consider eye-catching, may in all honesty, be quite out of date and stale. Investing the time to do this research will expand your vision of possible marketing avenues and give your “brand” a fresh new look. And, yes, you must begin to look at your work and yourself as a sort of brand. Create a consistency in your marketing materials so that they tie into your book cover design(s). This way, when people pick up a postcard or bookmark from you at a convention or signing they will automatically make the mental connection. The more motivating and eye-catching the design of this brand, the more likely the person will be to gravitate to and buy your book, so give every piece of marketing material equal care and consideration. You may have only one chance, at between two and four seconds, to grab someone’s attention. Make those seconds count.

To get you started on your book marketing path, there are a few current web tools which most authors are using today, that will keep you in touch with your audience, as well as cultivate new readers. However, keep in mind that you must tend to these things with a consistent regularity or else they are worthless. Just like your fichus, if you don’t water it, it will turn brown and die. Also keep in mind that the “brand” I spoke of in the previous paragraph should be carried throughout all of your pages in order to create a consistency. Once you develop a look for your marketing materials, apply this design to all of your web tools. Again, it’s all about creating a recognizable signature that draw readers in and make them remember you as a professional writer, emphasis on the “professional”. If you do not have the skills to create these design materials yourself, invest the money and hire a professional designer to do so. Trust me, it will pay off in the end in folds!

Blogs: Every author must have a blog. Whether you decide to use a free blog such as the ones available through the Wordpress.com website or you chose to set up a more in-depth site with outside hosting space and a custom url, you should have at least one main site where you can direct your readership. Your blog should feature pages talking about your background, your book(s), your book tour (where you will be signing) and contact information. Use the front blog page as a way to regularly update the world with the current news of your progress in your publishing adventure, as well as any industry news related to your specific genre or field. Remember to always be professional, but entertaining. Give the visitors to your blog something that will keep them coming back for more and a reason to tell others to visit your site.

Live Journal: Many authors I know chose to also use Live Journal as a way to keep their readers and fellow authors abreast of their world. Live Journal (www.livejournal.com) tends to have a more personal and relaxed persona to it and gives you the option to set your journal entries to “friends only” or “private” if you would like to be more candid at times than others. LJ is a great way to network and should definitely be considered.

Facebook: Facebook (www.facebook.com) is the new MySpace, so to speak. It is the hot social networking site and is utilized heavily by just about everyone, it would seem. Facebook is an excellent way to instantly update your fans and friends as to your latest news. You can post videos, pictures and create invites to your book signings and convention appearances. Another feature, which I have found very beneficial, is that of Groups. You can create a Group for your book or series which people can join. They can then post discussions about your book, photos related to the book, comments, as well as receive news blasts from you regarding all things related to your work. It is extremely user-friendly and self explainable so if you are easily intimidated by the internet, this will make it all the more pleasant to adapt.

Twitter: I’m sure you’ve heard about Twitter by now. What is Twitter? It is what is referred to as a “microblog” site. The purpose is to allow users to post microblog posts of 140 characters or less, which are instantly viewable to all of the people who chose to follow that particular blog. I must admit that it is a VERY addictive site and quite a bit fun, as well as extremely useful in getting hot news out very quickly to a large network. Again, it is very user-friendly and free, which is always a bonus! Simply sign up with a user name and password at www.twitter.com and start blogging. To talk directly to someone use @theirusername and to join in on group discussions use #discussionname somewhere in your “tweet” or microblog post. There is also, if you want to be even more tied into the grid, a way for you to link your Twitter account to your Facebook account using a program called Tweet Deck (www.tweetdeck.com), which is a free application you can download and install on your computer. Ah, the many possibilities!

MySpace: Those that are fully integrated into the internet often will argue that MySpace is becoming a bit outdated. I have not jumped on that bandwagon just yet. I still find MySpace to be a very useful tool in my marketing efforts, especially to reach out to the younger members of my audience. I also prefer the home page set up of MySpace over Facebook as it allows the user to be more creative in applying their brand to the site that people first see when contacting you. To use an example, here is my MySpace page: www.myspace.com/gsfaust. However, MySpace can be a bit of the Wild Wild West at times so be sure to set up your account so that people can’t randomly post comments without your approval or you may end up with some very random and offensive material on your homepage. Also, it is a good idea, I have found, to change your password regularly to guard against all of those rebel sixteen-year-old hackers out there who still think it’s cool to hijack your site. Don’t let these things intimidate you, though. No site on the internet is 100% safe and where there be technology, there will always be hackers. Just take the necessary precautions to safeguard your work and you’ll be just fine. All of that aside, MySpace is very useful in many of the same ways that Facebook is: you can post videos, blog posts, comments, announcements, photos and send out invites to your followers, which they, in turn, can forward to all of their followers or “friends”.

BlogTV: If you’re feeling like you are really wanting to come out of your shell and push the marketing envelope, there is BlogTV (www.blogtv.com). This will require a webcam and a great deal of courage, but it will allow you to record live video announcements about your work or book tour, as well as interact with viewers of your BlogTV station in real time as they log in to chat with you. I must admit that I am still getting used to this format of promotion, but it is definitely a marketing tool that I will continue to use. The videos generated on BlogTV are stored in your personalized channel on the site, but are also downloadable so that you can post them on your blogs, websites or even upload them to YouTube! And all for FREE!

These are only a few of the current web tools you can utilize for the promotion of your novel and, believe it or not, it only skims the surface of what can and should be done to properly promote your work. But don’t be overwhelmed! It is a learning experience with its own learning curve and once you take the plunge, you’ll find it isn’t as terrifying as you once thought. The end result: the world will know about the book you spent all of those years writing. And isn’t that what all authors really want out of the publishing process?

Good luck!

Thank you Gabrielle S. Faust.

Check Gabrielle's website for her upcoming post on Book Trailers.

Ask Gabrielle questions or just say hi in the Comments section, which is now open!

23 comments:

  1. 9. A Website designing will avoid dithering and half tones. Best is to use two hundred sixteen color palettes which is more popular and this is the best way to optimize the colors on a website.

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  2. Great advice here. I was just thinking yesterday - no joke - wouldn't it be great to have a live internet based interactive TV blog, and I read this and "Bingo was his name-o!"

    I'll be checking into THAT tip, bet on it.

    Really appreciated all the info here. Nice job, thank you!

    The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

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  3. Marvin, I have no doubt that you will figure it out and having it up soon. You are a whiz.

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  4. I'll have to try Blog TV. I'm doing Blog Talk Radio, but didn't know about Blog TV.
    Thanks for the tip,

    Morgan Mandel
    http://www.morganmandel.com
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  5. Great tips! Makes me tired just reading them! LOL BlogTV--hey, and here I thought I knew everything. :-)
    Thanks for all the good information.

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  6. Terrific ideas. I will implement some of them ASAP. I'm not, however, ready for BlogTV. I do have the webcam on my laptop but I not ready to pretty up in my home office yet. LOL

    I do twitter, a recent addition to my repetoire and also have a presence on MySpace and Facebook. I think I'll have to start a "Lucinda Pierce" group on Facebook soon.

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  7. Ta, damn useful advice.All I need now is an agent, publisher...oh, and maybe a finished novel might help!

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  8. Wonderful overview of book marketing strategy. Thanks for the interview.

    Karen
    http://www.karenfollowingthewhispers.blogspot.com

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  9. Blog TV does sound interesting, as long as it's not too technical! I agree, Diane, about having to clean the office. That's a stopper for me.

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  10. Enjoyable and informative post. Blog TV - what will they think of next!:)

    Jane Kennedy Sutton
    http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/

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  11. Blog TV? What a great idea! I already have the built-in cam on my little Toshiba laptop. This is a good excuse to buy a new blouse and new earrings, get a haircut, put on makeup for a change. LOL

    Patricia

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  12. I didn't even know blogtv existed - I've been working on the nerve needed for blogradio. I hear an Eeeeek coming on.

    Charlotte Phillips
    http://charsbookreviews.blogspot.com/

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  13. Thanks for the great information, and other than BlogTV it's all stuff I'm doing already. There are no guarantees with marketing, but it's nice to know I'm on the right track!

    --Lisa
    http://authorlisalogan.blogspot.com

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  14. Let us know when you go live, Patricia.

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  15. The problem with bogTV is that, unlike blogRadio, you have to look presentable to appear. No more interviews in my jammies. :-)

    Thanks for the great overview of marketing. Now I just have to figure out how to create a brand and what I want it to be.

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  19. Wow the only thing I'm not currently doing is blog tv! (and blog radio)
    It's kinda scary. :-)

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  20. Sounds like you're way ahead of the game, Cat. Good for you!

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  21. Thank you everyone for reading the post! I'm so glad that you all found it informative! :)

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