Monthly Archives: November 2005

Sunday interview: Lee Goldberg

Californian Crime novelist Lee Goldberg‘s latest books are The Man with the Iron-On Badge published by Five Star and Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense published by Signet.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?
Beyond my website and blog, I do the usual round of booksignings and speaking engagements/luncheons/seminars. I also attend the two major mystery conventions — Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon. On top of that, I send out a bimontly enewsletter to my mailing list of about 1000 folks and review copies of my books to publications, websites and blogs that my publisher might over look .

A few months before a book comes out, I send a personal letter to booksellers and key “opinion makers” in the mystery genre (fans, reviewers, bloggers, authors, etc).

2. What marketing have your publishers done?
Next to none, beyond sending out review copies and listing the book in their catalog.

3. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market your books?
Your primary target isn’t the reader… it’s the bookseller. If you can get them excited about your books, the readers will follow.

Another thing I learned is to use my time wisely — don’t accept every booksigning or speaking opportunity. Ask yourself whether you will either a) sell a lot of books or b) accomplish valuable networking with booksellers. Otherwise, it just isn’t worthwhile. Often I will go to an event knowing I might not sell lots of books at the time but that the effort will pay off down the road.

4. What’s the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?
Face-to-face meetings with booksellers in their stores and at the mystery conventions.

5. What advice would give for authors starting out with marketing their books?
Don’t be all about selling your book. Relationships are more important. If you can establish relationships/friendships with sellers, reviewers, and other authors, it will create the all-important word-of-mouth that truly propels sales.

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Sunday interview: Michael Allen

UK booktrade commentator Michael Allen’s first novel was published in 1963. His latest book, Grumpy Old Bookman, is a printed version of the first six months of his blog of the same name.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?
Most kinds. My first novel was published in 1963, and in those days no one at the publisher asked me to do anything in the way of marketing or publicity, and I didn’t realise that it might help if I did. However, from then on, I did my best to co-operate with whatever the publisher suggested, and to initiate some publicity of my own. I never have written a book on which the publisher was willing to spend any serious money, so usually my involvement has been limited to being interviewed by the local press, with the occasional radio interview. My own initiatives have included asking friends and relations to request copies from their local library (probably not very effective), and giving the publisher lists of possible reviewers. I have also given informal talks and formal lectures.

Nowadays I run my own small press and no longer work through big commercial firms. This means that I have to do all the marketing myself. For reasons of cost I usually limit this to concentrating my sales effort on the UK library suppliers, and sending out a limited number of carefully targeted review copies. I also plug my stuff online as hard as I can.

2. What essential things about marketing did you learn that you wish you’d known from the start?
The main thing to be said about marketing, in my view, is that modesty is the enemy of talent. My problem is that I don’t much like personal publicity. A few years ago I had a play produced in Croydon, and a local newspaper gave me a whole page, with picture. It seemed to me thatthat was quite enough personal publicity for one lifetime.

3. How has marketing changed for authors since you were first published?
I began writing in an era when there were very few media outlets in the UK — there were far more in the US, of course. The whole idea of hype was almost unknown in the 1960s. It has grown exponentially since. Today it’s simply not enough to produce a publishable book, or even an outstanding book. You need something else to go with it — either an established reputation in the arts, sports, politics and so forth, or some sort of exploitable talent. I read recently about a young female crime novelist inthe US: what clinched the sale of her book to a publisher was that fact that she was also a singer/songwriter, and could perform on TV after talking about her book.

4. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market yourbooks?
I learnt that I don’t enjoy personal publicity and that about 90% of marketing is a complete waste of time and money. The trouble is, no one knows how to identify the valuable 10% in advance.

5. What’s the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?
The most successful single piece of marketing occurred when I sent a copy of one of my thrillers to a the manager of a bookshop which is part of a big UK chain. It turned out that he was a very keen fan of thrillers, as was a senior executive in the company. They both read mine and placed a substantial order. This was purely the result of chance.

6. What advice would you give for authors starting out with marketing their books?
Don’t be tempted to spend huge amounts of money. Huge means more than you would spend on a short holiday. It almost certainly will not pay off.

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Sunday interview: Yvonne Eve Walus

New Zealand author Yvonne Eve Walus‘s novel, Murder @ Work, is published by Echelon Press.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?
I don’t think there is anything I haven’t tried. Public speaking, booksigning, personalised pens advertising my book, business cards with the book’s jacket at the back, bookmarks, conference bag goodies, website, bookexpo events.

2. What essential things about marketing did you learn that you wish you’d known from the start?
i. Be confident. Don’t walk into a bookstore with the mindset that you’re asking a favour when you approach them with your book. Imagine you’re doing them a favour letting them stock your fantastic work.
ii. Take a box of chocolates when you’re going to approach a bookstore manager or owner.
iii. Go for “value” – minimum cost for maximum impact. A cleverly designed black and white flyer can have as much impact as a colour one, at half thecost.
iv. Allow people multiple options of payment, including PayPal and creditcard.

3. Your novel Murder @ Work is published as ebook format. How has this impacted your marketing approach?
It hasn’t really. Murder @ Work is available in paperback as well as e-format, but I never give it much thought when I market the book. I believe most sales so far have been in paperback.

4. What have you learned from your experiences of trying to market your novel?
It’s harder that you could possibly imagine. It’s harder than doing a doctorate, harder than raising kids. Marketing a book is even harder than writing one.

5. What’s the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?
Told all my friends I would never speak to them again if they didn’t buy my book for themselves and all their friends. 🙂 Seriously though, I believe my most successful bit of marketing is still to come: I’m in the process of organising a murder mystery evening (a public event with tickets and solving a fictional case etc), where I will pitch my book.

6. What advice would you give for authors starting out with marketing their books?
If you can afford it, get a public relations officer. If you can’t afford one at all, still get one (even if it’s your mother or spouse).

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Sunday interview: Fenella-Jane Miller

 

Fenella-Jane Miller‘s first novel, The Unconventional Miss Walters, was out with Robert Hale last month.

1. What kinds of marketing have you done as an author?
I’ve set up interviews with Writer’s News, Mature Times, Romance Junkies and Essex County Newspapers. I invited 150 people to my book launch using postcards with a picture of the cover and asking all to order from library if they couldn’t come. I’ve been handing out bookmarks to anyone who expressed an interest and I’ve visited local bookshops and libraries.

2. What marketing has your publisher done?
Robert Hale put The Unconventional Miss Walters in their catalogue, provided excellent postcards and bookmarks, and are supplying point of sale stuff. They sent out 7 review copies, to names I gave, and are entering the book in RNA Romance and Sagittarius competitions.


3. What essential things about marketing did you learn that you wish you’d known from the start?
Contact publications as soon as you sell book because they work 6 months in advance. Don’t contact the press until it’s published.

4. What did you learn during your experiences of trying to market your book?
People are very interested in authors. They seem more impressed than we are with ourselves. It was only when I got my first positive feedback from a reader, an ex-literature academic, that I felt confident to go out and sell it.

5. What’s the most successful piece of marketing you’ve done?
The book launch party where I sold over 40 books as a direct result of this.

6. What advice would you give for authors starting out with marketing their books?
See above!

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