Jennifer Slattery recently signed a contract for her debut novel. She's been enthusiastic about being an author with a marketing plan, so I asked her to share her ideas on marketing. -- Sandy
Jennifer: It was the moment I’d been waiting for, the event that moved me from aspiring novelist to contracted. After a brief celebration, I got to work, because I refuse to be a “one book wonder.” You see, selling a book doesn’t necessarily launch a career. Contract number two hinges largely on how well book one sells. Successful novelists, then, are those who write and market well. And marketing is a journey of stepping stones.
Most publishing professionals will tell you it takes a great deal of time, energy, and books to develop a strong platform. I believe this platform starts with consistency.
A writer’s online presence is important. In fact, my publisher asked me point blank, “Are you blogging regularly?” My answer, “Yes. In fact, I just agreed to write regularly for Crosswalk.com. I also have articles scheduled to appear on…”
In essence, I had an ever-expanding plan in place. A plan that started small, with nonpaying markets. When I first started writing in the evangelical sphere, I blogged for pretty near anybody and sent articles to most anyone who would print them. Yes, even those publications that wanted me to interview locals… when I lived, oh, ten or so states away.
As soon as editors started showing interest in my work, I began to pay attention to what others were doing online and in print, from guest blogging to article writing. I read about book launches, give-aways, and marketing ideas. I developed an email folder and word document where I could save all marketing links and ideas. I made blogging and article writing part of my novel-writing career and scheduled time for these activities. This took work, diligence, time management, planning, and a great deal of prayer.
Most importantly, I made sure every piece I put out was my best work, recognizing lazy, boring, or poorly written posts and articles will drive readers away. I made deadlines, whether they were for a friend’s blog or a paying magazine editor. As a result, people began to come to me. In fact, that’s how I started writing for Crosswalk.com and the ACFW Journal. In both instances, I started as a freelancer and was later offered a regular gig from the editors.
I set reachable blogging and article writing goals and wrote those into my planner. Reachable goals are things like:
Send four article queries out per month
You have no control over things like how many new subscribers you’ll gain or how many articles you’ll get published. However, if you consistently make and meet reachable goals, over time you’ll naturally grow your readership and writing credentials. And increased writing credentials lead to increased writing opportunities.
To reiterate, increased sales come from an increased readership. An increased readership comes from an increased reach. An increased reach is helped by increased writing credentials and an ever-increasing online presence. Increased credentials and online presence comes from starting wherever you’re at and presenting your best work while keeping an eye out to opportunities.
Even if you're not published yet, do you have a general plan for developing a platform that will help you sell future books? Do you keep a file with marketing ideas that seem to work for other writers? We're here to learn from one another, so share something you are doing now to prepare for "that day."
Jennifer Slattery loves blogging and connecting with others through Facebook, and she’s trying to learn Twitter. This past October, she received a contract on a missional romance (title and release date to be announced) from New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about Jesus Christ and seeing lives transformed by His grace. When she’s not blogging or writing, she’s helping other authors perfect their writing and grow their gift. You can find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog, http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. You can find out more about her editing services at http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/about/