Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Million Dollar Marketing Question

Flick'r photo by Colin_K
As all six of my blog followers know, I am speaking on social networking and marketing for children's writers in about six weeks.  From personal experience I have a bucket-load to share already, but that hasn't stopped me from perusing the internet for neat links and cool sites, and pretty much anything that might be of interest to me and/or anyone who has to listen to me in the coming weeks.  Those poor souls....

But I digress.

Anyway, you know, I have lots of good stuff for brand new beginners and even more good stuff for those promoting a book.

What I don't have, however, is much for those "in-betweeners" out there.  You know, those who have an agent but haven't sold a book, or those who are submitting straight to editors and getting personal rejections.

So I ask you, my collective social network, what are your tips for those who don't have a book yet but aren't beginners, either?  I'm interested in any of the following:

  • Website or no website?  If yes, what do you put on it?
  • And what about those Facebook Pages?  Do you set one of those up now, before you sell, or wait until you've sold something?
  • Do you post sample work on your blog, or not?  What about blurbs?
  • For those who have published, what are some things you wished you would have done before you sold a book (concerning social networking/marketing yourself and your work)?  Or things you wished you wouldn't have done?
  • How important is it to network before you sell a book?  I mean, how much time/energy should "in-betweeners" put into social networking?
  • Are there questions I should be asking here but haven't?  Please tell me the question, and answer it if you can, too.

I already have my own answers to most of these questions, but I'm curious to see what others think.  Feel free to pick one or all of these questions to answer, by the way.  Whatever you want to share, I'll be happy to hear.

I'm catering my presentation to all stages of the road to publication (and writing for all ages of children, too), so I am planning on being prepared for anyone who walks through that door.  Thanks in advance for your input!

Oh, and if you have a favorite link to share about social networking/marketing/online platforms, please share that, too!  I probably already have it on my list, but I'd love to be surprised by one I don't know about.

Thank you, lovely people!


  1. Since I don't have an agent yet I don't have any suggestions for you but good luck on your presentation!

  2. From my little perch, for what it’s worth:
    I didn’t make a website until after my first sale. Even then, it was a home-made labor of love by my thirteen year old. It still is the same ‘not professional’ looking site, and I’m more than all right with it, but you or your agent may want to take a more polished approach.
    I didn’t start a blog until my second sale, to a small publisher that felt online presence was a good thing and encouraged blogging. I’ve been ‘trying it out,’ and so far I like it for its own sake. But I have been told it is not an effective sales-tool. I would imagine your agent has a professional assessment on this also.
    This brings me to suggesting that you ask your agent for input on this. I have gone the unagented route (I write a lot of PBs and few agents are interested) but if I had a professional to help guide me, I would knock on her door.

    1. Thanks, Mirka. That's a good suggestion: writers should ask their agents and see what they suggest (I sure did when I signed with my first agent). Thanks for reminding me of that!

  3. Here's my two cents.

    Social media should be approached for their own sake, i.e., to make genuine connections with people. Any networking that occurs is a natural outgrowth of making connections. I would encourage people to start early, but to keep a professional presence in mind. [Do you really want an agent or editor who Googles you to see THAT picture? ;-) Or to see you making fun of his/her editorial suggestions? ] Once you have a community online, then if you get to the point where you're announcing book sales and events, you'll have people who are already interested in you--and you won't annoy people by showing up overnight out of nowhere with the relentless message, "Buy my book!" Also, if you start early, you don't have to scramble to try to build an online presence overnight, on top of the million other things that come with publication.

    What to put on a site when you're not published yet? A bit about what you like to write and any experience you do have (e.g., "Jane Doe has an MFA from ____ U., teaches literature, and is writing a historical romance.") And then whatever interests you. If you write about a specific topic--say, how to train dogs--then your sites would probably have dog pictures and dog-training tips. On Twitter, you can just share links or comments that you find interesting. What most people are attracted to is either helpful information, an engaging personality, or both.

    Have realistic expectations: don't pour hours and hours into social media thinking it will make you a bestseller or get you a book contract. Those things have happened, but they're rare. Keeping the writing central, socialize second.

    I don't put samples online. There are all kinds of schools of thought on this, but my main reason is that I don't like to share my work until it's really ready, and then when it's really ready I'm hoping to get paid for it!

    I've rambled long enough, so I'll just add the universal caveat: take it for what it's worth, your mileage may vary. :-)

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. You said basically what I plan on saying, though I was curious to know if my thoughts are the same thoughts as others' thoughts. Good to know they are! ;)

  4. This is a great set of questions and I hope you'll be posting your thoughts on this subject in the near future. I've never heard that expression "in-betweener." I like that. ^_^

    I have a blog and a website and am quite fond of Twitter. I love Verla Kay's Blueboards, too. And for now, as an "in-betweener", this feels like enough. And I've always been very careful about what sort of information I share publicly.

    I do have small excerpts from my "polished" WIPs on my website (in fact, an editor from a large house read them and contacted me requesting a full after she read an interview I did of one of her authors on my blog.)

    I've met some of my best writer buddies through social media and also some excellent critique partners. Being connected with other writers and readers keeps me informed, educated, and happy. ^_^

    1. You haven't heard it, Angelina, because I just barely made it up. ;)

      And I will post my thoughts, but probably after I give the presentation (2nd week of June), because I'm going to need that much time to get them in order!

      And thanks for sharing what you do! I really do appreciate it.