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Book Marketing: What Traditional Publishers Expect from Authors Beyond Writing the Book

Getting a book contract is exciting beyond belief. I finally got a hard copy of the book. I said to my sister  one morning as I stuffed a copy into envelopes to mail off to those who contributed:

“I’m doing ‘authorly stuff;’ it makes me feel even more like a real writer!”

In case you don’t know, I’ve self-published over 90 ebooks (fiction and non-fiction). The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook is not only my first traditionally published book, it’s my first paper copy book as well (it’s also available on Kindle).

When I self-publish, I don’t do paper copies; I only do ebooks. So actually holding a copy of a book in my hand with my name on it – well, I have to say, it felt good. With that being said, writing the book was the easy part. Marketing is where the real elbow grease comes in.

Be Prepared to Answer These Questions When You Get a Book Deal

The Ultimate Freelancer's GuidebookYou see, just because you get a traditional book deal, it doesn’t mean they take care of everything for you. You are totally expected to market the heck out of it. In fact, one of the things that the publisher asked me about before I even signed the contract was what my blog’s stats were.

The Acquisitions Editor who initially contacted me about writing the book wrote:

One last thing: do you know the numbers for your Unique Monthly Visitor’s and Monthly Page Views for your website? The publisher loves that sort of stuff.

They obviously wanted to see that I had a well-established platform of potential buyers. I not only sent them my blog’s stats, I told them how many newsletter subscribers I have, other sites I operate that complement this one, other sites I contribute to (eg, SheWriters.com) and how often I blogged.

FYI, here’s the other stuff they asked for:

  • My Bio;
  • 3 Writing Samples; and
  • The Table of Contents for the proposed project.

Why It’s Easier Than You May Think to Land a Traditional Book Deal

Publishing is a for-profit business. “Well, obviously,” you may be thinking.

The reason I point this out is that many writers don’t think of it that way. We creative types tend to be so starry-eyed and in love with our words that we forget that publishers could care less about our book. What they want is a book … that sells!

Author and writing coach Nina Amir explained it beautifully in this Writer’s Digest post, writing:

Look at it this way: You have a product you want to bring to market—a book. You want someone to finance the creation and production of that product. So, you go looking for an appropriate venture capital partner—a publisher.

The publisher, on the other hand, seeks someone with a viable, meaning marketable, product who will be a good business partner. A good business partner, in this case, is someone who can complete the creative end of the production process—write the book—but who can also help the product succeed—sell the book.

And that’s exactly why the publisher that offered me a contract signed me on. I had what they wanted, eg: experience in the niche they wanted the book written on; an in-built, ready-to-buy audience; and a proven ability to deliver the goods.

So even though I’d never been traditionally published, they had no qualms about working with me.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!

As Nina explained so eloquently, a publisher wants a partner (you, the author) to help them get the word out about the book. It’s an ongoing thing that never stops – unlike the writing. And that’s what can make it exhausting.

I not only got paid an upfront fee, I make money on the backend – of both the hard copy and e-book versions. So the marketing is worth it if it’s paying off in sales, but it is exhausting.

My book will be published next month (Sept 2nd). Back in May, the marketing arm of my publisher emailed me a packet with some “homework” to do, eg: update my social media profiles to tout the book, update my publishing profile on Amazon, do outreach to journalists, etc.

I came up with a marketing strategy of my own.

My Marketing Strategy for The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook

Guest Posting: I decided to do what I know best – reach out to influential bloggers in my niche (freelance writers) to do guest posts on their site.

Blog: Do posts on my blog and send to my newsletter subscribers.

Social Media Outreach: Post a link to everything I publish or that is published about the book to my social media accounts (basically FB and Twitter); and

Reaching Out to Influencers: Try to reach out to influencers. For example, I’m doing a series of posts on what I learned from the entrepreneurs featured on Shark Tank, eg, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec and  Lori Greiner.

I also tried to publish on influential blogs like The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur. As of this writing, I have heard back from The Huffington Post (more on this below), but not Entrepreneur. I’m going to keep submitting.

If you’ll notice, my overall strategy involved a lot of content marketing.

Why I Chose Content Marketing as a Marketing Strategy

Choosing to market via this medium was no accident. I went this route because once a  piece of content is live on the web, unless a webmaster pulls the plug, the content will be live forever. So even though the initial marketing push may be slight, over time, this can add up to big exposure.

And remember, I get residuals on sales – so a year, three years and five years down the road, as long as the book is in circulation, I get a cut of sales.

Also, everybody needs content these days and if you’re offering good content for free, it’s hard for a webmaster to pass that up – even big sites like The HuffingtonPost, which thrive off of the submissions of unpaid contributors; many of whom, like me, are simply looking for exposure.

I try to do something almost every day to promote my book. I’ve been keeping a file with my promotional efforts for a couple of reasons: (i) I may decide to write an ebook about how I promoted the book; and (ii) to remind myself to keep up my promotional efforts.

When you’re doing a lot of promoting, it can be easy to get discouraged, especially if you’ re not seeing big sales. Seeing what you are doing in black and white serves as a reminder that you’re “on it” and eventually your efforts will pay off.

My book hasn’t been been released yet, so I’m not sweating the “no sales” thing – at least not yet! Following is a list of things I’v e done to date.

AUGUST 5TH

Blog post for IW.COM (this site)

Sent post out to subscribers in a newsletter;

Posted to Twitter, Pinterest & FB accounts

Posted on SheWrites.com

Notified all contributors who sent in material for the book.

Sent note to all freelancers who sent in questions before I wrote the book (around a dozen).

Applied to Entrepreneur.com to be a site contributor

AUGUST 6TH

Sent questions back to Anne Wayman at AboutFreelanceWriting.com

AUGUST 8TH

Sent 15 questions back to Jennifer Gems at Pen & Prosper blog

Published Post on IW.com and SeoWritingJobs.com (yes, published two posts that day) and sent out to newsletter subscribers.

Tweeted out link to IW.com blog post.

Posted link for article on SeoWritingJobs.com on my FB account.

Scheduled post I wrote today on IW.com to be posted to FB tomorrow.

AUGUST 9TH

Wrote and posted long “Shark Tank” post to IW.com — Spotlight on Barbara Corcoran. Linked to it on my Twitter and FB accounts.

Also sent a DM to Barbara’s Corcoran’s Twitter account and posted a comment on one of her FB articles and posted the link in that comment.

AUGUST 11TH

Reblogged Anne Waymans post on AboutFreelanceWriting.com on IW.com. Posted to Twitter. Schedule to go live on my FB acct for tomorrow.

Anne says it will go out in her newsletter subscribers.

AUGUST 13TH

Appeared on Chicago Writers Association blog, courtesy of Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen & Prosper fame, who serves on the Board of Directors for the organization.

To explain, Jennifer sent me 15 interview questions and asked me to answer five. I answered all of them in hopes that she’d do a series on her blog. She split my interview responses into two posts — one on her blog, and one on the Chicago Writers Association site (links to both are below).  A  win-win for both of us!

AUGUST 15TH

Wrote post for HuffingtonPost. Sent to them via their editorial page and directly to Ms. Huffington herself.

Sent out query to three other freelance writers) asking if they’d like a guest post.

Tweeted

AUGUST 16TH

Received email from Arianna Huffington (yes, the lady herself!) that the post I sent on the 15th was approved for publishing. Now waiting for blog log-in info to add post to the site.

AUGUST 17TH

Heard back from John Soares over at ProductiveWriters.com. He was one of the bloggers I approached on 8/15 about doing a guest post. He said yes, so will be doing a post for his blog soon. Be sure to look for it, ok?

AUGUST 19TH

Published post to IW.com (this one)

Sent to newsletter subscribers

Posted Link to FB & Twitter Accounts

Posted excerpt of IW.com post on SheWrites.com

Reached out to two freelance sites about about guest posting on their blog

Paid for ad on cartofbooks.com ($18.99) / Basic Promotional Plan: As you can see, I use a lot of “free promotional marketing” (in quotation marks because my time is not “free”), but there are times where I’ll spend money. I’ve never never tried this site before, but the plan seemed to good to pass up for the price, so I said, “What the hell!

Blogs/Site’s I’ve Appeared On So Far

Pen & Prosper

Chicago Writers Association

About Freelance Writing

Conclusion

As you can see, marketing is a full-time, ongoing job. I’ve let other projects I was in the middle of slide because I was late in starting my marketing efforts for the book. Also, I had a death in my family that took up several weeks of traveling and dealing with personal stuff during this period.

All the while, mind you, I was still completing projects for clients.

So just know, writing the book is the easy, finite part of landing a book deal. Marketing it is the real work – but it can pay off big. I’ve already seen an uptick in my other book sales and subscribers to my newsletter have also increased. All good stuff!

Here’s to your publishing success. 🙂
Yuwanda
Note: Follow my Author Profile on Amazon to get updates on new releases (just click the “Follow” link under the profile pic to the left).

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    Comments

    1. But most publishing companies publish thousands of titles a year. And no one cares more about your book—or knows its message as well—than you. Publishers today expect authors to be a strong partner in marketing their own books.

      • Of course! Not saying that I mind, just explaining what goes on after the book is written.

        Many writers get excited just to get a publishing contract and think that their publisher will handle everything. I wanted to let them know that writing the book is just part of the equation; that ongoing marketing is required on their part as an author. As you said, it’s a “partnership.”

        Thanks for dropping by. 🙂