by Janet Fogg
So you’ve just sold your first book? Or decided to self-publish? Congratulations! After you recycle those champagne bottles and generally sweep up the debris, what’s next?
If you’re being traditionally published, it might be a year before your book is actually released, so what should you be doing until the day that lovely brown truck rumbles down your drive and delivers a box of books into your eager, shaking hands? Of course you’ll need to work on edits, and also keep working on the new manuscript that you’ve started, but what else should occupy your time?
Now don’t groan and roll your eyes. Oh all right, you can moan just a little, but if you prepare your book marketing inventory now and then slowly implement your marketing plan, maybe, just maybe, it’ll be fun instead of a burden. (How’s that for positive spin?) And if you’ve decided to self-publish, you need to jump on your inventory and action plan right away!
I’ve had two books published; a novel by a small press and a non-fiction by a large press, and I’ve learned a heck of a lot between book one and book two. I fumbled along in my marketing efforts for the first, my novel Soliloquy, and while the editors and staff at The Wild Rose Press were wonderful to work with, they rely on their authors to do the bulk of the marketing. So I became involved in loops and groups and joined Facebook, but I didn’t have a plan and it showed. I stuck my toe in the social networking pool, held my breath, and backed away slowly. For example, I did some blogging but didn’t have a theme, nor did I seek guidance on how to link to other blogs, or proactively look for blogging partners, all of which I have done since.
Seeing as you’re reading this blog you likely know quite a bit about tweeting and blogging and all such social stuff, but if you don’t, please look back at some of the blogs here on the Rock, such as “Catch that Twitter Love” by Tamela Buhrke. I’m not going to delve into the specifics of social networking in this series, other than to reiterate how important networking is, but instead will focus on preparing a book marketing inventory - an inventory of documents and text as well as suggested research for use in your marketing plan.
Let’s start with a few basics.
1. Think about your web presence, both professional and personal. Do you have a website? Do you have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Do you contribute to any online forums, websites, communities, or blogs?
It’s my very great pleasure to inform you that from now on, it IS all about you, so don’t squirm. As I mentioned earlier, if you haven’t plunged into social networking, get started NOW. You don’t have to do everything, but you should get involved somewhere, somehow, and soon. Facebook is certainly one of the largest venues, but there are many others, such as Google+, Linkedin, and so on. If you don’t have a website (or blog that substitutes as your website), start one soon.
2. Make an appointment for a professional photo, as your “author photo” will be used repeatedly. In this digital age that picture will hang around forever, so you want a flattering photo that can be used on your book jacket, website, in press releases, and so on. If you hire a professional photographer, request full rights before the shoot. Most will be amenable to this, if they receive acknowledgment whenever possible. Get a written release from the photographer that you own those rights. If a friend or relative is a good photographer, that’s great, but get a release from them as well. Also, if you have the software, you might want to save the photo in various sized jpgs, pdfs, and tifs.
3. Next? Draft several versions of your bio. A very short (single paragraph) bio plus a medium length and longer version, though no more than one page. You’ll edit this text later on, and spin it slightly depending on where you’re using it, but it will be very handy having multiple versions saved and available to edit. In the long version also include the book’s topic and highlights and where a reader can learn more (your website).
Include most if not all of the following details – and of course, keep it interesting!
Name in full (including degrees, honors, title etc.):
Nationality and place of birth/ hometown
Possibly your date of birth
Summary of Education
Previous books (with dates and publishers)
Periodicals which you have contributed to
Any professional or civic organizations to which you currently belong and does your writing appear in any newsletters?
Anything personal which you think might be of relevance
4. Now you can start on the draft of a one-page summary about you and your book. You’ll need ISBNs, page count, pricing, and your book cover image to complete the one-pager, but text and format can and should be underway, so you’ll have this summary ready to attach to press releases.
Ultimately, your one-pager would include:
Book title and author
Publisher’s name, address, phone, website
Your website and/or blog
Okay, that wasn’t too bad, was it? Next week we’ll begin to think about what else you need in your book marketing inventory. If you’re fortunate, your publisher will be your marketing partner, and the answers to the questions I’ll pose will be helpful to you AND to them.
See you next Monday!