New Years’ Resolutions for Authors

Authors already have too much to do in marketing their books. But a steady, consistent effort with a lot THINKING involved is better than a sudden blitz, especially if you are paying for publicity help. The most successful books build a buzz and more are sold in the second year than the first and the third year than the second. Think about books like What to Expect When You Are Expecting – not generally NYT best seller stuff, but selling thousands year after year. People hoping to make a living as an author need to write several perennial sellers like that before royalty checks will begin to sustain them.

Here are my New Years’ Resolutions for Authors who know slow and steady will win the race:

1. Make time for marketing. If you spent two hours a week on emails, phone calls and brainstorming for the next weeks’ calls and emails, you would spend more time than the majority of authors. Plan to take Friday afternoon or Thursday morning or some other regularly scheduled time and devote yourself to a continuing effort of at least six months.

2. Get the basics done and maintain your website.
Journalists, potential large volume buyers and those who might want to hire you for consulting, coaching or teaching will look first at your site. Do you know how often I go to an author’s site I’d like to interview and find no easy place to buy, no contact information and no bio? If I were a journalist on a deadline, I’d go on to another author – I just wouldn’t have time to chase you down. Make sure you link your site to any interviews you do – print or broadcast as soon as possible after the interview.

3. Follow the media and get on board their already-running treadmill. Watch Saturday and Sunday morning cable TV – especially CNN, MSNBC and FOX. All three constantly interview authors about the topics that were important during the week. Local morning shows do the same. Look ahead for national holidays and other opportunities to be the expert and make a media list so you can email journalists and others with just the information they need when they need it. Unless you have real news (which you can create with surveys and polls), you will need to get on the treadmill of stories the media is already interested in. Most people try one effort with the media – one press release or email – and then give up. Send something to those on your media list whenever you think you can make a contribution to their work with sources and resources. Create relationships with them – it is about what you can do to make them look good and in-the-know – not about selling books.

4. Get great help when you need it and can maximize it. Hire an author’s assistant when you don’t have time to execute. Hire a publicist or others to help you with marketing ONLY after you’ve done the basics, like preparing your web site and doing some local media yourself. Don’t spend money on advertising, do spend money on expertise and hands-on help.

5. Have the confidence to pursue big wild ideas. If you think a company would be perfect to buy 5,000 (or 100,000) copies of your book, call them. Find out as much as you can about the marketing contact so you can start a business relationship. Don’t expect too much, too soon – this is a long-term strategy. But imagine is you could call one company or organization a week and one out of 50 said yes! This would include potential sponsors, nonprofit organizations and others that share the passion for the topic of your book. Fun is infectious, so make this fun for yourself and for them. Again, this is about what you can do to enhance the company or organization reputation, not about selling books, so think about how you can do that. Blog about how much you admire them and what they do – get on their radar!

I’ve created a Book Marketing Checklist for authors that parallels these ideas that you are welcomed to download at the link. Enjoy and have a very happy and productive 2011!

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