Monday, October 17, 2011

The Topic Writers Love to Hate: The Latest Trends in Book Marketing

This past weekend, I spoke on the Writing Panel at the 21st Century Book Marketing conference in San Diego.

The three day marathon hosted publishers, book marketing experts, and media mavens offering their best advice on how the 350 audience members—some new authors, some seasoned—could sell more books, raise their profiles as authors, and expand their speaking engagements and workshop opportunities.

Mind you, most writers, including moi, partially recoil from the subject of marketing. Writers want to write, not sell. That is, until their first book comes out. Then, authors realize that no one outside of their family and friends will know about their book unless they get out and promote it. (Publishers usually promote a book for the first three months after publication –maximum.)

Although this year marked my first time actually speaking at the conference, I have attended the event for three years in a row.  With publishing changing wildly and the advent of social media, I have to say that each year I learn something.

Here are some of this year’s highlights:

*Your personal story can work magic in your marketing.

Whether you are writing about DNA or a murder mystery, your personal story around writing the book, getting interested in the topic, researching the book, what events in your past gave you insight into the topic, or even just how you gained the confidence to write the book, will help sell the book.

Readers want an emotional connection not only in the book itself but in your marketing around it. YOU are often your best emotional hook.

This may sound obvious but a lot of writers hide behind their words.  Step forward.  Describe how you started with the book (the incident that sparked your desire to write, the problem you wanted to solve, etc.), the obstacles you faced to get to a solution, and then, the outcome.  It’s all about basic storytelling structure. It works in books and it works in marketing your books.

*Video blogs are increasingly important.

This is NOT music to most writers’ ears. Somehow we all think, at least secretly, that our words should stand on their own.  But if your best marketing hook is you, then the best way for people to get to know more about you is through video. There, they can pick up verbal and visual information around your personality and why you care so deeply about your book’s subject.

Video blogs should be short. No more than three minutes, preferably shorter. Name them according to key words on which users are likely to search. Post them on YouTube as well as on your site.

*Associate Yourself and Your Book(s) with Non-Profits or Corporations.

This, of course, is a huge topic, with many facets, but also many opportunities. Brendan Burchard, #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author of The Millionaire Messenger spoke about this. Obviously, some books and some authors are more adaptable to sponsorships than others. But it is worth a brainstorming session with yourself: How can you work with an organization or a non-profit that connects with the topic(s) of your books or your areas of expertise? Your association with an organization immediately taps you into a platform and database of people far bigger than you might ever create on your own.

The conference offered much more advice, including a live Skype interview with the producer at the new Anderson Cooper daytime television show which is booking a lot of authors.

I will report more next time.

DIVINA INFUSINO is the author of Day Trips From Orange County, an often personalized account of Southern California’s iconic and idiosyncratic locales, natural and cultural sites, hotels, day spas, shopping areas and restaurants. She is also a co-author of The Love Response and Rock Gods. She has developed and consulted on numerous books over the past eight years, including those by bestselling self-help author Debbie Ford and wellness author Dr. Ellen Cutler. Divina has worked as a staff entertainment writer for The Milwaukee Journal and The San Diego Union, was a cultural commentator for KPBS Radio, and has also been published in Rolling Stone, The Economist, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Reuters,The New York Times Syndicate, Harper’s Bazaar,, and Among her celebrity interview subjects are Madonna, Julia Roberts, Bono, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Deepak Chopra, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Kate Bosworth, Stephen Covey, Norman Mailer, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Keith Richards. She earned her bachelor’s in English and Communications from Marquette University and a master’s in mass media analysis from the University of Wisconsin.


Unknown said...

Thanks, Divina. I totally agree about the personal marketing aspect. I love hearing the story behind the story. It brings the book to life and the author to life.

Kathi Diamant said...

Thanks, Divina--almost as good as being there!

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