Why Did the Monkey Cross the Road? Because the Other Side Had Paperback and Foreign Rights

Lisa did a wonderful job of laying out the “online marketing must haves” like FB buttons or RSS feeds (neither of which I actually…erm…have yet). She was pretty thorough, providing an “online marketing to do list,” so I thought I’d offer up another angle of marketing.

Okay. Not to be dramatic or anything (because the Irish aren’t known for that right?) but this picture here is how I envision my relationship to my debut book. Here is my “baby” and I have to get her across a busy road of marketing, reviewers, sales ranks, stacks of competing books, and profit spread sheets (and other things I’m not even aware of yet!). I feel like successful marketing will be akin to a rosy crossing guard who steps into the road, blows her whistle, halts traffic, and waves us safely across to the side of success.

At the expense of sounding like I’m trying to convince everyone that the world is flat, I just wonder if online marketing is always the best way to go. I know it serves as an excellent resource/driving force for other things, but I don’t hear much about anything else. I also think that online marketing doesn’t always accomplish as much as we hope it will. What about offline marketing? What can we do there? (Shall I prepare for virtual rotten vegetable throwing?)

Let me backpedal a bit and say that I love online promotion. However, I also love writing. I enjoy a warm shower and seeing daylight in a form other than a screen saver. I just worry that, without judicious planning, I could become a professional marketer rather than a writer. Do other people worry about this? Interview down the road: “Oh, yes. I do love to write! Why, I’ve just tweeted about how I’d love to get back to it someday.”

There I go with the dramatics again.

Now, I am a nuts and bolts kind of girl, and I realized early that social media is just that—social—and, therefore, necessary, if you’re looking to spread a message. I understand the basics of this online stuff. This was why I went skipping to the computer—lollipop in hand—and set up a website. I thought it wasn’t bad, considering I didn’t know what I was doing. At all. (Would you hire a plumber that said that?). A trusted friend set me straight on its quality.

Like Lisa, I borrowed the funds for a professional web designer from my advance—never mind that I had no offer yet. I called it an “investment.” And you know what? It was! I was told later that Penguin signed me, in part, because of my online presence. They thought I would be an author who’d promote her book. They’re right. I will. I am. I have.

So, I now have a website, which serves as a calling card (as Lisa so aptly describes it) but it won’t sell books just sitting there. Isn’t it still word of mouth that primarily promotes sales of books? So, any promotion should have something to do with spreading the word about the book—the genre, the subject matter, its strong suits, the curriculum tie-ins, and “the readers of ‘X’ will love this book” stuff, etc., etc., etc… (Are you reaching for aspirin?)

One way to reach the masses is the use of platforms—broad groups/places from which to market your book. This can be helpful because, it seems to me anyway, that word of mouth in a homogeneous group moves faster and with more enthusiasm. Also, people want to read about what is important to them. So, brainstorm some ways that your book could be of interest to a group. For example, because my protagonist in ONE FOR THE MURPHYS is a foster child, I am in contact with the Foster Care System here in CT, as my book could be a support for both foster parents and kids. There is a heavy Red Sox/Yankees rivalry in my book. Will I use that? You betcha! Once you identify some of these platforms for your work, you may be able to use the internet to access them. Don’t discount, though, picking up the phone and making personal connections, too.

No matter how you do it, the most important thing is to find ways to make those connections with your readers! As I think about writers I know who are active online with strong book sales, they are also walking, talking writers who are OUT there, attending conferences and visiting schools and libraries. So, put yourself out there, too! Before your book is even released, volunteer to speak at the local library. Offer to give writing workshops to kids. Then give them a memory of a well-run, fun, active workshop. Something to take with them is good, too. Bookmarks, perhaps?

Also, keep in mind that adults are on author sites. For the most part, kids aren’t looking for authors online unless they have a book report. So, we must maximize our ability to reach the kids. How do we do that? I’d love a dialogue in the comments section about ways to do this!

I don’t know. I feel like I’ve gone in circles a bit. After all, I’m still finding my way through this myself. As I think about where marketing really begins, though, one thing I keep coming back to is this: Periodically, I’ve polled kids at school on this topic; they don’t seem to care at all about interviews, blogs, or websites. Far and away, what do the kids care most about?

The book.                      

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Why Did the Monkey Cross the Road? Because the Other Side Had Paperback and Foreign Rights

  1. L.B. Schulman

    So right, Lynda. There are many way to market a book, and you got me thinking about the audience that I am not reaching as much through social media: kids themselves. I will share a quick story that just happened…I went to our school librarian and told her about my book. She was so excited that she told another parent who hired me to tutor her very talented daughter in writing. This led indirectly to a job teaching a week long creative writing camp this August! So yes, do not only see daylight on your screensaver (I’m going to quote you often–love that!). Get out the door and start crossing that street.

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      Great story, Lisa! Yes, there is so much potential for the domino effect that you describe here. Besides, getting out from behind the computer to connect is fun!!

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  2. Great post. And definitely something to keep in mind! Balance in marketing, who knew? 🙂

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      Hi, Kris!

      There really is *so* much to think about with marketing. It could be a full time job in itself! I’m thinking a lot about balance these days! 😉

      Lynda

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  3. Lynda,
    I struggle with this too! I’m essentially a private person who doesn’t particularly enjoy self-promotion. But I do it and I make sure I keep my publisher in the loop (I want them to remember the work/money I put into my marketing when they are deciding on that third book!)

    And I don’t google myself (often) but I do haunt my Google Analytics reports — it’s absolutely fascinating to see where people come from and how long they stay!

    Good luck,
    Michaela

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      Michaela!

      Great to hear from you!

      The marketing maze is a tough road, isn’t it? My book is far from release, and I’m still in the middle of it all! I imagine it gets both crazier and easier once the book is out.

      Hmmmmm…Analytics reports? Sounds interesting… 😉

      Lynda

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  4. Lynda Mullaly Hunt

    Interesting: “If you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don’t go running around an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there, shining.”

    ~Annie Lamott~

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  5. Mary Pierce

    Daunting as the notion of marketing is, while reading your post, Lynda, and also, Lisa’s before it, it struck me that it’s also enormously exciting to have such tools at our disposal. Those of us still traversing the pre-publication road owe a debt of gratitude to your generosity of spirit in the willingness to share your strategies with the rest of us. Thank you!!

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      Yes! It is exciting, Mary! And addictive, which is why I think a writer needs to be careful. Too much online time can become “useful procrastination.” Erm…Is that just me!? 😉

      Thanks for coming by, Mary!

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  6. Sometimes I definitely spend too much time connecting to those I think can help me spread the word about my book or get it into the hands of kids who would benefit from reading it. Mine is a very targeted book…about shared custody. I’m grateful that was my first published book because it definitely gives me a platform to work from. Life, writing….all need balance. And becoming a successful author requires that balance. Good luck with your journey, Lynda. I think you’re teetering in the exact right spot!

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    • Lynda Mullaly Hunt

      Hi, Carol!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, a book likes yours (and mine) is the kind of book where platforms become very helpful. I am really trying keep balance in mind these days. So, many things in my life that are so important–requires a lot of thought and planning.

      I’m honored that you came by, Carol! Thanks so much! 😉

      Lynda

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  7. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Great post, Lynda!

    As a middle grade author, I’ve been thinking about ways to reach that middle grade audience. It’s tricky, since they aren’t (for the most) on online social networks, so parents, teachers and librarians really are the gatekeepers for this age group. I’d love to hear more in the future about what works for middle grade (and picture book) authors.

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  8. Pingback: Why Did the Monkey Cross the Road? « Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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