At the recent Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) I gave a presentation on identifying major and minor themes that can help with marketing fiction. Let’s face it. For indie authors, book reviews in any traditional sense are difficult to come by. We all want to end up in the New York Times, but there are over 1 million books published every year and only 52 New York Times Book Reviews. Even with a publicist who knows people at the Times who make editorial decisions, by the numbers it looks like a long haul to getting that review in the paper.
The Problem with “Book” Marketing
Many writers think of their books as singular products, referring to them as my “novel”, “mystery series”, “fantasy”, “romance”, “coming-of-age novel”, etc. I have been working on marketing fiction for twenty-five years and I can honestly tell you that trying to sell your book to a reviewer based on, “this is a great new novel” is not going to cut it in our competitive world.
One Solution to Fiction Promotion Challenges
There are many strategies you can use, like digital pr, but the one I suggest first is dissecting your book to go beyond book reviews. In my presentation, I described the process using a book we all know, The Great Gatsby. I analyzed it through a more comprehensive lens–digging deep into any promotional angle I could find. Here is an outline of the process you can try on your book(s).
The Deep Dive for Marketing Fiction
- Open a blank document or take a clean sheet of paper. Write the title and genre of your book at the top.
- Make two columns, one called “book assets” and the other “my assets”
- In the “book assets” column write a list of the locations in your book; any topics that it covers (in Gatsby the list included Prohibition and Class Wars); and anything particularly interesting about the characters.
- In the “my assets” column make a list of things that pertain to you and your brand, such as where you live and where you grew up. Add items like what you do beyond writing; any parts of the book based on your own personal experience; why you wrote what you wrote; and any additional interests, hobbies, or skills that you have.
- Now make a list at the bottom of the page of where you can imagine finding interest in the items in either list. Is there a story in the media that relates to your topics? In addition to being a novel, does you book include anything of interest to health care, psychology, or business? If your book is a mystery, note mystery outlets that you would target online and in print.
- Finally, pretend you are a reporter and write some mock headlines based on your list of angles and outlets. The Great Gatsby in today’s world might inspire a headline like “Class Divides in New Novel Mirror the Culture of Celebrity and Billionaires vs. Everyone Else”; or “New Novel Explores Whether Class is Defined by your Market Value or by Knowledge and Manners.”
Thank You English Teachers
Remember English Class? Yup, this process has some similarities. The exercise will help you think about marketing fiction in a broader way. It will also help enhance the number of opportunities it will have in the media. Marketing fiction is always a challenge. The first step to getting more press and attention is to see how many latent themes and topics your book can address.
For information on marketing fiction, see Case Studies #3
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