Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Marketing Fiction

If I really knew how to effectively market fiction I could probably make billions. But for new authors like me there is no tried and true method that anyone can point to and say "Do this and you'll be on the New York Times bestseller list." Believe me I've looked for it. The bottom line is that you do everything you can possibly think of to get the word out that your book is in print and then hope like crazy that someone buys it. There are a couple of resources, though, that I found helpful.

One of those resources is Pyromarketing by Greg Stielstra. I think Greg's book could have been shorter. There's good stuff in it but also some fluff. Be that as it may, the concept he describes is excellent. You can read more about Greg's theory in his blog. The basic idea is to give the people who are most likely to enjoy your product (in my case The Election) a sample and then use them to spread the word about your book like wildfire.

I've utilized this to some extent in my own marketing for The Election. In the last three weeks Howard Books and I have probably given away 200-250 copies of The Election. If I could afford it, I'd like to give away 1000 copies. You might ask, "Why give away copies?" The answer is simple. I want as many people to read my novel as quickly as possible. How long would it have taken for 200-250 people to actually purchase copies? Weeks? Months? This way I've gotten copies into the hands of 200-250 people within the first week of the release. And these are not just random people. They are friends, family, media, associates, etc. that I think would be the most likely to enjoy my novel and begin spreading the word. Stielstra describes these people as the "driest tender." The people who are the most like to catch on fire. And I think it's working.

I have no idea at this point how many copies of The Election have actually scanned through at a point of sale. Hopefully I can talk real numbers in future months. But many of the people who received free copies have called or e-mailed that they simply couldn't "put it down." That's what I want to hear. And when they tell me this my reply is "I'm glad you enjoyed. Please tell all your friends and family." The driest tender needs to set the surrounding grass and trees on fire until a wildfire is spreading.

So how do you effectively market fiction? For me, as a new author, I've got to get the flames burning as quickly and as hot as I possibly can so that word spreads rapidly.

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Blogger Terry Whalin said...

Hello Jerome,

Keep up the hard work of telling people about your book and giving it to others--to seed the market with the driest tender (from Pyromarketing). Spread the fire as Greg says.

You may have read this story when I wrote it originally but look at the perserverance in this entry. Notice Andy Andrews gave away 12,000 copies of his book--until one copy got in the right hands at the right time: Must Have Perserverance It's what it takes some times.

I'm pulling for you.

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