Today, I’m bringing a post on marketing from a good friend, EM Whittaker, author of the Turbulence book. I did an interview with her in early December, and her interview had some GREAT information on marketing I had to put into a separate post to share.
EM’s Marketing Advice
First: Writers cannot find all their own mistakes, no matter how hard they try. The first large message I received in my track changes (manuscript editing doc) was using over 600 em-dashes, and transposing words like “when” and “as” within a sentence. A good editor will help you find your mistakes, build upon your style and help you build a better voice while improving your writing at the same time. It’s a partnership, not a hand-off or a one-and-done type deal.
A good editor will help you SELL your books – a bad editor will not force you to grow and correct your mistakes. Readers will notice and will leave bad reviews if the editing’s shoddy, characters aren’t thought out, head-hopping occurs (transitioning POVs for no reason in the same scene) or if the book’s bad in general.
Amazon will remove these reviews if the author edits their manuscript and uploads a cleaner version later. However, new writers shouldn’t learn this way after being docked the first time.
Editors are valuable, and can make or break an author’s career. Make sure to schedule some extra time inside your editing window for your and the editor, in case extenuating circumstances occur. I also say this because you could have issues that need fixing that you didn’t know about (like timing issues, or parts that may need complete overhauls because they don’t work for the story). We ran into one of these scenes in Chapter Two, and it took four tries to fix.
All authors should find an editor, even if you need to use payment arrangements for services if you’re an indie author. I did this method, and it was money well spent, considering the book is 10 times better then when I first submitted it to Shay.
Second: While I’m on the subject of investing, cover art means everything. It is the focal point of why readers will pick up your book, whether printed or ebook. Therefore, if you’re not with a publishing house who offers editors and cover art, invest with a good cover artist you’re comfortable with.
If you’re a graphic designer or know someone else doing this for you, you can skip the next few paragraphs. Otherwise, please read. You don’t want to make the same mistake I did.
Shop and get recommendations. Ask in the community and look for feedback. Query and see what their process is and if you get on with your artist. It’s easier to work with someone who thinks on your lines and gets back in a timely fashion rather than someone who drops from the face of the planet every time something goes wrong.
Also. when working with the cover artist (no matter which way you publish), stay within industry standard when doing your covers. The human brain cannot process too much stuff on a cover (or, as we call it, looking busy). So, before you hire a cover artist or work with one, look in your genre and see what bestselling authors are doing to hook people in. You don’t want your book to look like a different genre or like a graphic novel, which is what happened to mine. It was nice for promotional art, but not as a book cover, which was a costly lesson.
So, cover artist is a must. Establish a relationship with them, and be nice. They’re doing you a huge favor.
In addition, please listen when the cover artist asks you not to share their “proofing images” around on the internet. I know one person who lost their cover artist for not honoring this request years ago when I first got into writing. Your artist may allow you to share with a close friend or colleague if you ask, explaining it’s for feedback purposes, not for influencing their work or your cover design. Examples of this are if the artist needs feedback on certain elements of the cover, not for changes.
Third: For marketing, use a method that works for you, not what everyone else is using and failing at. For example, a good horror author I talk to uses his bad reviews to sell his books, and makes a killing piquing the reader’s curiosity over the 1 or 2 star review. Most writers wouldn’t be so bold, but this seems to work for Jim.
I like to share snippets (between 250-850 words) on my personal Facebook page while in the middle of drafting. This is how I’ve garnered a lot of interest before the book’s even sold, and gained valuable feedback. It’s also how I found my beta readers.
When NaNoWriMo happened, we had threads where we shared snippets, such as first and last lines of scenes. Some posted entire ones, while others just did the bare minimum. However, I acquired interested parties for ARCs this way this month, based on the few pieces I posted for the next book. This made people ask about the first, so that was a pleasant surprise.
Last: Network! You never know who you’ll talk to or what opportunities will arise within the industry.
Networking was how I got with my publisher (J. Ellington Ashton) originally. I participated in a writing short based off a picture someone posted for a writing challenge. After I made the 4500 short story and got honest feedback, I started submitting for them. While I decided to continue submitting short stories for JEA, it gave me the confidence to branch out my writing and self-publish my novels. I’ll continue this trend, and start submitting to other houses later in 2017 to grow my portfolio.
Networking on Facebook and various groups was how I connected with several people I work closely with, including my editor, formatter PR/PA company and cover artist. So social media is a powerful tool if used correctly.