Friday, June 5, 2015

The Weakest Link by Jim Hart

I recently read this in a proposal’s marketing section: “Marketing any book, particularly an author’s first writing, is where I believe an agent should play the most important part in publishing and earning their fee. Therefore, I expect that this area will be heavily focused on by the agent. This area needs to analyzed and discussed in greater detail.”

What this particular writer failed to recognize is that their marketing strategy should have already been analyzed, prepared and included in the proposal that was in my hands.

While the entire proposal should be strong, this is one section that should not be the weakest link, and the responsibility to create a realistic marketing plan begins with the author. A literary agent will certainly jump in with thoughts that will strengthen any section of a proposal.

Last week I was looking at a message board and found this statement on a thread that someone had posted from a smaller publisher’s web page: This means that much of the promotion and marketing for your book will be on your shoulders. Therefore, we ask authors to present a marketing plan for each book we accept. We will support your efforts as much as we can, but it'll be a while before we can cover a world tour. In reply one person posted: “I don't like when publishers ask authors to create the marketing plans. That's the publisher's job.”

This is another example of not clearly understanding the author’s role in creating a credible marketing strategy. The industry continues to experience change and competition for a shrinking amount of publishing slots is extremely fierce. Publishers are keenly interested in the details of a writer’s marketing strategy.

A weak marketing section will contain phrases like “I plan to create a web page for my book” or “I plan on contacting organizations that will host book signings”.

A strong marketing plan will contain phrases like “I currently have a web page for this book” (and a link is supplied) or “I have contacted, and have commitments from, these books stores, book clubs, churches, etc. (and provide a list of actual places). If possible, also note the anticipated size of the audience at each event.

Overall, it’s important to communicate what you now have in place, and what you are certain that you will be able to accomplish, not just what you hope to do.

While it would be great to include a ridiculously large number of social media statistics in your proposal, the reality is that not everyone has thousands of Facebook friends, or thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers. What can get attention, however, would be statistics like:

·         54% of my posts are re-tweeted
·         82% of my blog posts are commented on
·         39% of my subscribers leave a comment

As you become better at engaging your current followers and subscribers, there’s a good chance that you’ll see your social media numbers grow. Engaged social media readers are also more apt to attend a book signing, or other speaking engagements.

In a recent interview Zondervan executive editor Carolyn McCready said “The platform issue is very important, but it doesn’t have to mean that you are the pastor of a large church or a speaker for major women’s conferences. You do have to show that you are working hard to gain a following and that you have made progress in that arena. Speaking, blogging, writing for magazines and newspapers, leading workshops on your topic—all can be really important to a publisher. Then give us a marketable topic, and the reasons that it is—do your research!”  (link-to-her-interview)

One thing I picked up when I was learning to write proposals for a non-profit organization is that people give money to other people, rather than to an organization.  It’s important to have potential donors connect with you on a personal level if you wanted them to support your organization. You can’t discount the power of connecting with others.

But you have you to give people a reason to connect, and that’s through the strength of the content that you offer. Next Friday we’ll discuss some ideas on how to connect and engage on social media.

How have you been successful with connecting with, and engaging your readers?

No comments: