The Secrets To Marketing Fiction

The Secrets To Marketing Fiction



When my first book (The Cliffhanger) was published nearly seven years ago,​ I had high hopes of​ its success. I mean I am,​ after all,​ a​ PR person – so how hard could it​ be to​ market fiction? Granted,​ up till that point I hadn't taken on​ a​ lot of​ fiction — well,​ to​ be honest I hadn't taken any fiction. Fiction is​ tough and everyone knows it. But now I was going to​ get my chance,​ and what better way to​ start than on​ my own book? When the​ Cliffhanger hit the​ #1 spot on​ Amazon it​ was no accident,​ it​ was a​ creative push that got it​ to​ #1 and ironically,​ the​ pitch that prompted this Amazon soar had nothing to​ do with the​ book. Curious? Then read on.

When I was first pushing the​ Cliffhanger I did all the​ things a​ good fiction author is​ supposed to​ do. I sent out review copies,​ created a​ stunning press release,​ scheduled book events. All of​ these things were great,​ but they didn't give it​ the​ momentum the​ book really needed to​ succeed. the​ book signings were good,​ but a​ tad boring,​ the​ press was interested,​ but not enough to​ feature me more than once. I knew I needed to​ do something,​ but let's face it,​ when you're writing romance it’s tough to​ find a​ pitch that has the​ stickiness to​ it​ to,​ well,​ stick. When you're taking a​ fiction book to​ market you​ need to​ have more to​ hang your star on​ than a​ groovy story – you​ need something the​ media can sink their teeth into,​ you​ need grit. That 'grit' is​ the​ reality piece of​ your story.

The truth is​ there's always a​ thread of​ reality that weaves through each piece of​ fiction. Find your reality and own it,​ if​ need be,​ craft your pitch around it. Let's say you​ wrote a​ book about a​ woman overcoming domestic abuse. You've done your research,​ you​ know the​ stats,​ in​ fact,​ you​ might even be considered an​ expert. Why not then turn a​ portion of​ your campaign into a​ domestic violence pitch? the​ same can be said for just about anything. They key here is​ to​ find that grain of​ reality and see if​ it's interesting enough to​ create a​ new peg. Once you've found your hook,​ own it. What I mean is​ become the​ expert on​ that hook and familiarize yourself with ever statistic,​ every study and every new trend.

When the​ Cliffhanger was released I soon realized that marketing romantic fiction was only going to​ take me so far,​ but marketing the​ method of​ printing was more unique. Why? Well,​ the​ Cliffhanger was one of​ the​ first books in​ the​ San Diego area to​ be published via print-on-demand. Hence,​ that became my story. Until the​ Presidential race of​ 2000. Now that was an​ entirely different story.

No doubt many of​ you​ will remember the​ counts,​ recounts,​ chads,​ and hanging chads,​ right? Well,​ one morning I woke up to​ find our local paper with the​ following headline: "Cliffhanger." I knew right then that if​ I couldn't find a​ hook to​ hang my star on​ that angle,​ I might as​ well hang up my marketing hat forever. it​ was at​ 3 a.m. that I woke up with an​ idea so stunning,​ I knew it​ had to​ work. I raced out to​ the​ office supply store the​ minute it​ opened to​ pick up several packs of​ clear labels. I got out the​ postcards I had printed with the​ book cover on​ them and stuck on​ labels with the​ following slogan:

Getting tired of​ the​ Presidential cliffhanger?
Try this one.
The Cliffhanger,​ a​ novel.
No politics involved.

I mailed 500 postcards out that day while praying the​ election wouldn't get called. I mailed these postcards to​ everyone in​ the​ media I'd ever contacted. Ever!

Days after my mass-mailing,​ I was walking through my living room,​ when suddenly I spotted my book cover on​ the​ screen. I was stunned. the​ local TV anchor was saying,​ "This has got to​ be the​ best thing I've ever seen. This lady wants you​ to​ go buy her book. I say everyone should rush out and buy it." And everyone did. That afternoon my book shot up to​ the​ #1 spot on​ Amazon,​ where it​ stayed for three months. it​ even beat out Harry Potter (which was #4 at​ that time),​ yet Harry got the​ movie. Go figure.

The point is​ that finding an​ "anchor" will help you​ push your campaign. This works for book events,​ too. if​ you've written a​ crime book,​ why not "theme" your event with DO NOT CROSS Police line tape (if you​ can get your hands on​ it) or​ some other prop? the​ key is​ to​ be unique,​ carry your theme throughout your marketing and hang your star on​ unique ways to​ promote your book.

But the​ second piece of​ this,​ the​ piece that's become all the​ rage recently,​ is​ the​ visual aspect of​ your book. Now I'm not talking about the​ cover,​ I'm talking about the​ movie. Yes,​ you​ read right. Your book,​ a​ movie. Now I'm not talking about a​ full-blown two hour motion picture. I'm talking about a​ movie trailer. Most recently several major publishers have started using book trailers to​ promote the​ fiction books they publish. Why? Because we are a​ very visual society,​ and if​ you're trying to​ distill the​ core of​ your book into a​ thirty-second elevator pitch,​ why not distill that same information into a​ trailer? Studies have shown that book trailers can increase book sales in​ excess of​ 30%. This is​ why most of​ the​ major publishers are jumping on​ the​ book trailer bandwagon. Still not convinced? Check out this book trailer of​ Candlewood Lake and see if​ it​ doesn't entice you​ to​ buy the​ book:

http://www.authors-online.com/billboards/drivein/candlewood/index.html

Now here's a​ short list of​ tricks we've used to​ promote fiction:

* For a​ series of​ detective novels we worked with,​ we told the​ author that instead of​ pitching the​ book,​ we were going to​ pitch some of​ the​ intriguing unsolved mysteries. He became the​ unsolved mystery expert and when he did a​ book event,​ that's what he talked about. People were enthralled,​ and it​ also got him quite a​ bit of​ radio,​ too!

* For a​ chick lit book last year the​ author had one of​ her recipes (for Orgasmic cookies) come to​ life when she partnered with a​ local cookie company. the​ result? We had people writing us for copies of​ the​ book just so they could try this fabulous cookie.

* And what better place for a​ romance reading than a​ romantic winery? if​ you​ live near some wineries,​ don't hesitate to​ stop by there and ask if​ they'd like to​ invite you​ in​ for a​ reading.

Have you​ ever considered partnering with another author who has a​ similar title? Last year,​ I consulted with two authors who'd written books about Paris. I decided they might want to​ meet and partner up for events. They did,​ and the​ result was magnifique! Everyone loved the​ "evening in​ Paris" they'd created,​ and needless to​ say,​ they got lots of​ bookings!

The trick is,​ with all the​ fiction out there,​ you​ have to​ find a​ way to​ be different. Selling the​ story isn't always going to​ sell your book,​ but entertaining the​ reader or​ selling how the​ story affects the​ reader or​ how it​ can benefit them will. Find your anchor,​ hook,​ or​ story – and you've found an​ audience.

Becoming a​ marketing story-teller isn't as​ hard as​ some people make it​ out to​ be,​ and whoever said fiction can't be marketed just didn't know how to​ tell a​ great story.




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