Monday, July 03, 2006

This Little Author Went to Market

Well, this is fascinating.

In light of all that’s happening this week, I started to write a post about marketing. You all know I’m not one of those authors who sits back and thinks the publisher should do all the marketing. And I don’t want you all to be, either. Self-marketing works. But you have to keep at it, and you need to be very creative. I sat down to write a post to encourage you in your own creativity.

Then just before starting the post, I got it in my head to google “Kanner Lake.” For some reason I hadn’t thought to do this before. I knew the only “Kanner Lake” sites that would come up would be talking about my series, because I googled that name before I ever decided to use it to make sure it’s not a real lake somewhere. So I hit “search”—and my mouth dropped open. How many hits? Over 16,000.

Violet Dawn, first book in the series, doesn’t even release for another month.

We all know how google works. Once you start looking at the sites, you’ll see far less than the total hit count, unless you want google to show you all the sites—many of which are very similar. However, I wanted to compare apples to apples, so I then ran a search for my last release, Web of Lies. I added my name to make sure the hits would all be about my book. Result for total hits—just under 9800. And Web of Lies went on a successful blog tour just a few months ago. I then ran a search for “Dead of Night” plus my name (Dead of Night was released before WOL). Result—about 2500.

No doubt the huge jump between Dead of Night and Web of Lies is due in part to the blog tour for WOL. Plus Forensics and Faith had been going for a year by the time WOL released, which added to links. Now with the Kanner Lake series, there is no denying what is happening. Through involving other people in the Scenes and Beans blog, I’ve found a way to get people talking about my series weeks before it even hits shelves.

This is the key that I see over and over in the new marketing books. Out with the mass market advertising approach; in with networking, grass roots support, and word of mouth.

But in order for the word of mouth thing to work, you gotta give folks a good reason to talk about your product, whether it’s dishwashing detergent or a book. There seems to be two basic reasons people will talk about a product: (1) The people enjoyed the product so much they want to tell others about it, and (2) There’s something to be gained personally by the folks who talk about the product.

I think if you can hit both 1 & 2, you’ve really got something.

People will engage in #1 at their own incentive simply because the product worked. “Hey, Mary, have you tried new XYZ dishwashing liquid? That stuff’s amazing.” “Wow, have you read XYZ book? I just loved it!”

For the Kanner Lake series, I do hope readers talk about the books because they enjoy them. But the series hasn’t launched yet, so I can’t count on #1 at this point. Except that 50 interested people did get an early read of Violet Dawn through auditioning for Scenes and Beans, and that surely counts for something. But the main thing going on for the series right now is #2. I’m working on giving the S&B bloggers (SBGs) lots of incentives to talk about the series by my turn-about promoting of them and their own work and sites. The more successful Scenes and Beans is in terms of readership, the more the SBGs willl benefit. And later, as the series’ readership at large will be able to send in posts for possible use on the blog, the network of folks benefiting from talking about Scenes and Beans will spread. (Although the original SBGs will always have a special distinction, which they deserve.)

Since I first started mentioning this marketing idea here on Forensics and Faith—before I could even specify what it was—I figured it would be a public experiment. I don’t mind being forthright about how it’s all working over time. I figure we can all learn from watching how the project goes—and then each of you can take that knowledge to create new marketing ideas of your own. I have plans for a very large readership for S&B. Will I make that? Well, I’ll give it my best shot. And I’ll let you know how well I succeed. I do know that blogs take time to build readership, but I’ll be constantly working to promote S&B from the very beginning. I’ll also let you know how well the SBGs benefit by their participation.

Of course, blog readership and search hits aren’t the end result when you’re writing books. The bottom line will be—how will all this help sell the Kanner Lake books? I won’t be able to fully answer that question, because the results of my own marketing in terms of sales can’t always be delineated from sales as a result of Zondervan’s marketing—and they are doing more to promote this book than any of my previous ones. But I’ll let you know as much as I can figure out.

I’ve seen some of my suspense writer pals do some interesting things in marketing their books.
T.L. Hines (author of Waking Lazarus), is a marketer. Chris Well (author of Forgiving Solomon Long and Deliver Us From Evelyn) has always got his eye on marketing too. So whether I’m talking about my own marketing ideas or others’, I do want to continue discussing the issue here at Forensics and Faith now and then. We all can learn from each other as we share ideas and see how well they work in the marketplace.

Here’s to marketing—and your own creative ideas.

Have a great 4th, everyone. I’ll take a day off of blogging tomorrow, then be back with you on Wednesday.


Cara Putman said...

Wow! That's incredible, Brandilyn. It will be fun to see how all of your efforts, mixed with some from us, works. There's sure to be a buzz when the book actually releases.

Domino said...

It takes more than one brick to build a house. If I want a career, I have to keep working on the writing and the marketing. But building a community of like-minded and interested people helps tremendously. I'm sure I'll be needing help when my book is ready to hit the shelves.

I've been seriously thinking about marketing for over a year now. I think things will be put into effect in stages.

Have a great Fourth and Fifth of July, Brandilyn!

Dineen A. Miller said...

The idea of marketing myself and my "future book" used to scare the heebee geebees out of me. Now I see it as a challenge. I'm very curious to see how Tony's compaign pans out as well as yours, Brandilyn. Already my brain is trying to figure out a new angle. That's really hard to do but worth pondering!

Happy 4th!

Kjersten said...

Happy 4th of July Brandilyn!

Kristy Dykes said...

Thanks for the insider's look at your marketing tips. I want to learn, learn, learn. You are so marketing savvy, and I know it'll all pay off.

Thanks again--for everything. I learn something new about the industry every time I read your blog.