Grael Norton, Wheatmark’s Director of Marketing, does a fantastic webinar called “Do This First” which answers the question “What’s the first thing I should do now that I have written my book?” I won’t be a spoiler. You’ll have to watch the webinar (register at www.bookpublisher.com) to get the answer.
I have some “do this first” advice of my own, which answers the question “What’s the first thing I should do to market my books?”
Should you focus first on traditional publicity, advertising, social media marketing, getting reviews, entering book contests . . .? Based on my experience working with hundreds of successful authors, the simple answer is: Networking. In particular, networking within the community of people who are passionate about your genre or subject. Whatever other marketing you do, you will need members of this community to get your work, and you as an author, discovered by a large number of readers.
In his 2010 classic The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell argues that for anything to go viral (like a book) it needs the help of following three types of people: mavens, connectors, and salespeople. Every fiction genre has its mavens (people who know everything about the genre), connectors (people who know all the best writers, editors, agents, and reviewers in the genre), and salespeople (people who can convince the readers of a genre to buy books.) Every nonfiction subject has the same. Where can you find all three types of people for your (fiction) genre or (nonfiction) subject? In writers’ groups focused on your genre or subject.
Say you write romance fiction, there’s the Romance Writers of America, www.rwa.org, an outstanding association of career-focused romance writers. They provide many online and regional networking opportunities, as well as a huge annual conference (next July in Denver).
Say you write biographies of women who contributed to the history, culture, or growth of the American West, there’s Women Writing in the West, www.womenwritingthewest.org. They also provide many online and regional networking opportunities. And they are having their annual conference this month in Tucson! (I’ll be attending as an acquiring editor.)
Whatever your niche or subject, I encourage you to find a writers’ group focused on your type of writing, and join it. The people most likely to read and get excited about your books to become the mavens, connectors, and salespeople that you’ll need to get discovered are in these organizations. Get to know them!