Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Writing Wednesday - Marketing 101

I’m trying really hard to make Wednesday about writing, but it doesn’t always happen. Last night I found a piece of paper I have been scouring my files for and even asked my author friend, Susan Kelly Skitt, if she knew where it was. She checked all her e-mails and files and couldn’t find it either.

If you’re like me, you send “stuff” to your author friends, hoping if you ever need it again they will produce the document (it’s kind of like a back-up system). Now that I have the paper in hand, I’m going to permanently document it here on the blog, so if I lose it again, I’ll know where to find it (because you all will tell me where I put it)—right?

These statistics absolutely stunned me, so I circled everything in red. Writing a book is the easy part, but marketing it is the hard stuff. In fact, 85% of your book proposal will be made up of how you intend to market your “labor of love.”

Frankly, I’ve read some book proposals and have to wonder, Do they really intend to do what they say they’re going to do? In fact, one author wrote: “I will use my entire advance towards marketing my book.” Okay, what if your advance is only $3,500 and your publicist costs you $5,000. Oops! Hopefully, it will pay some dividends and you will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Then there’s the royalty check. I was speaking to an author friend of mine and mentioned that I received my royalty check this month (a whopping $79.50) and she said, “But I’ve never received a royalty check, yet!” I nearly fell off my chair because this woman has written several books and is probably the most prolific writer of words I know—not to mention downright hysterical!

In the publishing world, you don’t receive a royalty check until you pay back your advance from selling “X” number of books.

Oh, did I mention that if you have an agent (which is almost a “must” in today’s publishing climate), they receive 15% of your advance and 15% of all your royalties.

Okay, now for the good news: What works and what doesn’t work in “marketing” your book. Think of this as marketing 101. These statistics were taken from a poll on Live Journal (July 16, 2007). The question was posed: Which of the following promotional tools led you to purchase a book?

*Previous familiarity with author’s other work 99.1%
*Cover art 62.5%
*Cover or flap blurbs (promotional quotes) 58.4%
*Reading first chapter of book online or in store 63.5%
*Contest sponsored by author or publisher 7.2%
*Published (print or electronic) book review 57.0%
*Recommendation of friend 91.2%
*Attending a reading or signing with author (including a convention) 51.7%
*Bookseller or librarian recommendation 41.8%
*Receiving postcard in mail from author 3.7%
*Receiving promotional e-mail from author 5.8%
*Reading about book on author’s blog or Web site 62.6%
*Reading about book on another person’s blog or Web site 80.4%
*Receiving toys or other promotional gimmicks from author 3.0%
*Other (specify in comments) 7.9%

All of this is meant to help you be realistic about your writing and your marketing. None of my author friends have received an advance of $100,000 (yet!). Some of them aren’t even breaking even—worse yet, some are actually going in debt trying to market their books.

Writers write because they are passionate about it and even if they never receive a single penny from their work, they would continue to do so. Writing is like breathing. By the way, hop on over to Susan Kelly Skitt's blog and read the beautiful poem she wrote about being a writer (you will be inspired!).

Now I’m going to file the document away under “Book Statistics” just for future reference.

Blessings to all of you on your writing journey.


Susan Kelly Skitt said...

Okay, I'm off to get Joel to school, but I will be back to talk about this "marketing" thing later :)

I knew I could count on my statistics girl to hit the head on the nail when it comes to what works and what doesn't! Marketing is so confusing and frustrating!!!

Connie Pombo said...

Can you believe I finally found that paper with the stats; it's under the folder "Marketing Statistics." Just in case I forget again!

Yes, let's talk. I know one thing, I have an entire basement full of "stuff" from author booksignings. But I know one thing: everyone appreciates chocolate and at least a bookmark (can't go wrong there!). But the other stuff, know!


Greg C said...

Well Connie. You really spelled it out for me here. I have a new direction. I no longer want to be an author. I want to be an agent to many authors. I won't promise you anything except that I will that 15%. Ready to sign with me? Seriously though I have a story to tell that I believe is true but I don't have any real facts. I do however know in my heart that it happened. I should tell you about it sometime and see what you think.

Connie Pombo said...

You and me both! What I think is interesting is you don't need to be an author to be an agent, you just need to know about the publishing "business." But that's not to say some agents aren't authors; in fact, many are.

Although you can go the editor route, but you can't do both (simultaneously)--meaning submitting a book proposal to an agent, and an editor of a publishing house. The first thing an agent is going to ask is, "Who's seen this book proposal?" A good agent will have lots of contacts and aware of what each publishing house is looking for. An editor "usually" works for one publishing house. And then again, they switch around a lot too (smile!).

It's all so very interesting--eh?

More to follow next week! said...

Oh Connie! Bless You! Hysterical and prolific, it doesn't get any better than that!
No,no roayalty checks yet...thank God they don't make you pay them back what you don't recoup...but here's the bite. Future editors will ask for sales figures and if you have had one or two books and they don't sell well, well, it is going to be that much harder to get that contract.

And if I have heard it once, I have heard it a million times. The Marketing part of your proposal is the most important part; more important than the writing. Oy Vey.I get Terry Whelin's Right Writing news and every time I read it I feel hives and hot flashes setting in. Now he wrote about Twitter. What the heck is twitter? I don't have enough hours in the day; with all that marketing when is one supposed to write?
I found the stats very helpful. Word of mouth is powerful. Key chains are not. And believe me, I have done it all, and I am one of those who was blessed with a great job for awhile that paid the marketing expenses, but I am way in the hole. The only good thing that may happen is if I ever hit one out of the park then people may go back and buy the other stuff I have written.
I do have an agent, one I am totally happy with. I had one for my first book (Winning the Drug War at Home) but he didn't get me the contract, I did but he still got the commission. Oh well, fifteen percent of not much is even less. And we're not in it for the money anyway (Oh, didn't someone tell you that?) We write because we are passionate about sharing a message. Now, I bet you know someone who has been seduced by drugs. I wrote the book I needed to read, the problem is, despite all kinds of every publicity it still isn't selling. Must be denial.
Oh well. Enjoy your $79.50 and don't give up your day job. As a matter of fact, I just went and interviewed for a day job. (So I can keep writing).

Love, Kathy