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  • Writer's pictureBill

Marketing Morass

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

I’m getting to the point of letting Baby Doe go to its (hybrid) publishing home. Should I? Is the novel as good as I can make it? Should I have one more editor or beta reader go though it? Hard to know. For a poem, Robert Hass says sometimes the choice is not one of finishing but abandoning it. Jane Smiley says she knows her novel is done when she needs the money. The advice of neither is helpful in my case. My definition for “done” is that I can’t stand to look at even one more time (though it will need me to look over a final proofing on what used be called galleys). So what to do when Baby Doe becomes a real book?

Marketing, that's what. Here’s my start and I’m feeling like Piaget in the appended pic:

Defining the category of the book is more important than genre, because category defines book placement in bookstores (and especially searches in Amazon. Don’t know where Amazon lists how they categorize books). I guess my novel, Baby Doe, is Literary, with the keywords being Women's, Mainstream, Medical, Historical, Mystery. My general list of things I may have to learn/master:

Amazon ads

Amazon KDP or KDP Select Amazon book sales to build readership FaceBook notification and ads

Notification and ads on Instagram Cost/click/buy ratios Website blogs Goodreads On line reviewers Media: print, radio, and sure TV. Media handout sheets and prepub book copies Email collections and big push for launch Launch party Book clubs, some on line Virtual bookstore readings Friends Club: free books for reviews and recommendations

Here’s a deeper dive on one aspect of marketing from Randy Ingermanson who is known for developing the Snowflake method of growing your novel. His helpful blogs are archived on his website.

This is a quote from his Sept 1, 2020 post (used with permission):

“Let’s say you’ve published a book and you want to promote it effectively. The book’s available in e-book, print, and possibly also audio.

You want to be able to do some of the following things that will help you market your book:

· Send Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) to some of your fans before you launch the book so they can be ready to write reviews when your book launches.

· Automatically deliver a related free e-book or PDF file to people who sign up for your e-mail list, providing automatic support to people who can’t figure out how to download the e-book or read it.

· Send a gift copy of your e-book to a friend.

· Let your fans hear a sample of your audiobook.

· Run a group promotion with similar authors so you can all build your e-mail lists together.

· Sell your book directly to fans.

· Sell postcards at conferences with one-time printable codes that then allow the buyer to download exactly one watermarked copy of your e-book.

· Create landing pages where fans can sign up for your e-mail list and then download a free e-book, all managed automatically so you don’t have to do anything.

The tool I use is BookFunnel lets you do all of the above marketing tasks with very little work. They handle the techie stuff. You just write your books and run your e-mail list.

In order to sell or give away copies of your book, you must have distribution rights. If you are traditionally published, you have sold your publisher all distribution rights in exchange for royalties. The advantage of traditional publishing is that your publisher handles most production tasks and they pay all production costs. The disadvantage is that you can’t sell copies of your book at wholesale. (You can sell them at retail, which means you buy them from the publisher first, and then resell them to customers, but this would be tricky to do with e-books; normally you buy only paper copies and resell those if you can.) But you can’t give away copies of your e-book or audiobook either.

If you are an indie author publishing non-exclusively on Amazon KDP, B&N Press, Apple Books, and/or Kobo Writing Life, then you have the rights to distribute your book elsewhere. That’s what “nonexclusive” means. In this case, you can sell it or give away, as you like.

The key word here is nonexclusive. If you have entered your book in the Amazon KDP Select program, then Amazon has the exclusive rights to distribute your book, which means you don’t. There is a question about whether this means you can’t even give away free review copies. The KDP Select Terms of Service are murky on this question…

One final comment: Even if you intend to publish your book on KDP Select, your agreement doesn’t begin until the day you enter the book into the KDP Select program. And as far as I can see, this happens only on the day your book goes live. This means you can still use BookFunnel to distribute Advance Reader Copies of your book to selected fans before your book goes live. That’s how many authors get a lot of reviews right when their book is published. Because they’ve already seeded review copies in advance to reviewers. If you do this, just remember to take your book off of BookFunnel before your book goes live on KDP Select.Does any of the above sound like something you’d want to do? If so, check out

I don't take paid ads for this e-zine. I do, however, recommend products that I think will have value to my readers. Usually these are other people’s products. Once in a while, I recommend my own.The First-Time Author plan is still cheap—only $20 per year, and it’ll get you rolling. I have been using BookFunnel for several years now, and I love it.”

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