Unrealistic Goal Number One

One of my goals–and I don’t know how realistic it is as I’m in the writing phase that is best known as “despair” right now–is to make my second book better than my first one.

But this is a year when I’m going to see words that I have written first hit print.  And that means that not only do I need to write, I need to think about promotion.  I need to think about updates to my website, guest blogging, bookmarks, giveaways, newsletters, and book trailers.  In some small part, I look at these things–and some of the associated expenses and I cringe.  One question I ask myself is, is all this really worth it?  Everyone is making book trailers, and yet even the most-played trailers have youtube hit counts in the low hundreds.  Nothing that I can do stands out.  Funny book trailers have been done.  Live-action book trailers have been done.  Rap book trailers have been done, and besides, my book is set in the early Victorian era and I’d hate to get everyone’s panties in an anachronistic twirl before my book comes out.

Then there’s the website.  If you build it, they will come.  If you want them to come more than once, you have to update it.  Not just once, but regularly.  Of course, every author now knows you have to update your website monthly, and so we’re all fighting amongst ourselves for that rare spot, where we are the ones that readers choose to visit.

So here’s one unrealistic goal for the year:  I want to do things that have never been done before–at least as far as romance novel promotion goes.  And I want to do it in a way that leaves me plenty of time to do what’s most important:  writing the best books that I can.

And the good news is, I’m going to be unveiling Part One of Courtney’s evil master plan soon.  Very soon.  Any guesses as to what it might be?  And what would you want to see a romance author doing?

7 thoughts on “Unrealistic Goal Number One

  1. Hi, Courtney,

    Wearing my marketing hat (the one I don at the day job). Regarding promotion, the idea is to create Awareness, especially for a debut author. Get your name out there in a variety of places – and often. While it’s not different, I think guest blogs are helpful – and you can arrange to have a reader win a book. Posting sample chapter(s) of your book is also not new, but it *is* a form of trial purchase. Obviously the website is crucial, but you are right that you have to drive traffic to it (memories of my consumer behavior marketing class are floating through my head). Again, I think getting your name in as many places on the web as possible will help create awareness. A really professional ad in RWR or a fan mag could potentially help create awareness if done in conjunction with other marketing efforts. To be honest, the best promotion is word of mouth – viral marketing on the web these days (that awareness thing again). I’m betting your book sold in auction because it a) was different, and b) evoked an emotional response in the reader. Focus on A + B in your marketing efforts to create interest. Now for specifics. If it were me, I would focus my marketing dollars on buying extra books and sending them out as freebies to RWA chapter conferences or other events. And I would give some space on the website to readers and their opinions. Most author websites focus solely on the books and the author. Ask your readers what they look for in books. Then feature reader quotes. You might even consider a bookseller feature. BTW, I had a long conversation with a bookseller at a party last year. I asked her what authors could do to help promote their books. Her answer surprised me. *Talk to the customers.* Huh? She said most authors read books at their book signings because they’re shy. I wouldn’t have thought of it since I don’t have a shy bone in my body. 🙂 Can’t wait to buy and read your book!

  2. Courtney – I so here you. I am doing all the same things – wondering should I do bookmarks or something different etc and have that second book to work on. Yikes no wonder I have no nails left.

    I have absolutley no idea what to do – not an inkling of what your master plan could be. But I so wish you luck with it. :o)

  3. My guess for the Master Plan: Pixies stationed in bookstores around the world, smacking their lead-weighted pixie wands against their palms and strongly suggesting that no one wants to leave the store without buying at least one copy of your book.

    As for what I want to see an author doing, the only thing that really matters in the long run is writing great books. Readers are compelled to talk about books they love, and reader recommendations are always the #1 referral source, so don’t invest too much of your time, energy, or money on the fripperies.

  4. Have your publishing house do as much as it can for you. And they will for you, b/c in your they have a big investment to recoup.

    Bantam gave away 250 ARCs of PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS at Nationals in 2007. Best awareness building tool I’ve seen for my books. Have Harlequin do something similar for you.

    And I’ll also second what everyone says about word of mouth. Eventually, readers build you up. And you build up your readership through relentlessly good books published at reasonably regular schedules.

  5. I’ve just started doing web hunts on my romance industry site – Night Owl Romance. A group of author sponsors and NOR donate prizes to the contest. (pretty in expensive promotion) – Each author hides a graphic on their website for readers to find. Each author drives traffic to the “hunt” page. We give readers a list of author websites and send them off to find the graphics. So, each author sends traffice and we send the readers onto the other author websites. It’s a large cross promotional pool. Readers find new authors and books. There is no $ cost to be a sponsor author – just the prizes. All the authors and NOR saw a huge spike in site traffic. If your interested in joining the next hunt it starts March 1st. Just contact me if you want to be a sponsor.

    I’m also working on a book of my own directed at how authors can market their books to the public. The in’s and out and how to go about it all. More details at: http://romancebookpromotion.com

    ~ Tammie King

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