By Betsy Dornbusch
Marketing is a dirty word in publishing. The publishers don’t do it, the writers don’t want to do it, and it doesn’t work anyway, right? I mean, how many times do readers have to hear about a book before they buy? Three? Eleventy-hundred? Who knows?! Might as well do nothing.
If you can deal with the guilt.
Or do EVERYTHING!
If you can stop eating, showering, caring for children, going to a day job, writing because who has time to write when you’re hawking books to anyone who’ll listen. Also, be sure to find a good therapist because that way lies madness.
Pro-tip: Do What You Do Well.
Read, take advice, try some strategies on for size. If it doesn’t work, if you hate doing it, then for the love of all that is holy, don’t do it anymore! I’ve many friends who handsell books at cons. Me, not so much. One writer I know just did a 100-stop blog tour in a month. Yeah, no. I’m not particularly good at asking for author quotes or disciplined in sending out review requests, so I let my publicists —a private one I hired and the Night Shade Books publicist— handle that. Some writers are wonderful at doing readings. Me, not so much. And, gasp, some writers really do just concentrate on writing the next book, which is also a valid marketing strategy. This often coincides with writing short stories and novellas to sell alongside their primary works.
As for me, I’ve tried lots of stuff and six books and ten years later my focus, besides writing the best book I can, is on making friends and talking at cons. That’s pretty much the size of it, though the list does go on a bit:
- Cons get me in front of SFF readers and maintain my industry friendships.
- I blather online and in person about my passions. Mine are diversity in SFF, and home décor because I used to be a designer.
- Strategic local appearances.
- Limited strategic, high-profile guest blog writing.
- Interviews: I’ll let about anyone interview me: podcasts, blogs, paper.
- Make friends with booksellers.
- Swag: Pens are reusable and readers are delighted to carry off the pen you signed their book with. I always have some with me and if I meet someone in the wild who shows interest in my books, I give them one.
- Hang out in bars and meet people. Readers hang out in bars. At cons, writers and editors and agents definitely hang out in bars.
- Twitter and Facebook (Or Ello, Tsu, Instagram, blogging, pick your online flavor. Just be consistent and remember cross-posting is your friend.)
- The Blue Mailer from RMFW for every book.
You’ll notice I don’t waste a lot of time doing things outside my particular talent sphere. I’ve spent some time honing the skills I enjoy and I’ve tossed most of the rest. So. Where do your marketing talents lie and how can you exploit them?
Betsy Dornbusch is the author of several short stories, novellas, and novels. In addition to speaking at numerous conventions and teaching writing classes, she has spent the last decade editing the online magazine Electric Spec and writing on her website Sex Scenes at Starbucks (betsydornbusch.com). She and her family split their time between Boulder and Grand Lake, Colorado.