To Market, To Market

I love writing. Sometimes the words and ideas flow. Other times, I feel as though I’m dragging them out of my head. But after a while I have a rough draft, then I edit and edit and edit until I feel the story is ready to go public. I query, wait, hope, and if the stars align, I sell the story. The publisher takes the manuscript, hones it to as near perfection as we can make it, and a book is produced and offered for sale.

End of story. Right?


At least it’s not the end for most of us. Not nowadays. Once the book is published—even before it’s published—there’s the marketing. It used to be that the publisher did most of the marketing and the writer did a little, maybe made and handed out bookmarks or something with the writer’s name and/or the name of the book on it. This was simple, low cost merchandizing. But then publishing houses started cutting costs and the PR budget was slashed. Now the writer had to take on more of the burden. No longer just a writer, he or she has become a publicist, has learned how to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), write blogs and participate in blog tours. To get the word out about a new book, we beg for reviews. (I hate doing that, but I know they’re important.) We spend time figuring out how to get articles in on-line or print magazines. Newsletters. We pay for advertising. Give talks at libraries, book clubs, etc. The list goes on and on.

It seems as though we have to do more and more every year. Some of it I like, especially any events where I have face-to-face contact with readers. On the other hand, some of the marketing makes me feel like a door-to-door sales person.

I don’t know any way to avoid it. Even hiring a publicist requires some personal involvement. (And not everyone can afford a publicist.) As more and more books are published, both through traditional publishing venues and self-publishing, we’re all going to be struggling to be “seen.”

I wonder what marketing ideas will pop up next. And will they make any difference?

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14 Responses to To Market, To Market

  1. All I can add, Maris, is amen. Wish there was a magic marketing bullet of some kind. Great post.

  2. Very informative post on the business end of writing, Maris. I agree with Margo. A magic marketing bullet would be nice. I’m sure we’d all rather be writing than marketing.

  3. Melissa Keir says:

    Your title of this post made me go all Mother Goose…To market to market to buy a fat pig, home again home again jiggity jig! Each day, we get up and do the same things over again, hoping that we are making a difference in our sales and in the lives of others. 🙂 We write and off we go!

  4. ann bennett says:

    Everything we do takes a specific skill set. Being a good writer does not translate into being a good publicist or marketer. It makes me think of the phrase a “Jack of all trades and master of none”.

    It all goes back to supply and demand. So many people are writing and publishing. Books compete with other media.

    There aren’t easy answers for writers. This is why I purchase so many books at book fairs.

    • Maris Soule says:

      I thank you, Ann, as I’m sure many writers do, for helping by buying books. And you’re exactly right. There aren’t any easy answers, not with movies, TV, games, and social media competing for the public’s time and money. I know sales and publicity are not my strong suits.

  5. Lucy Kubash says:

    Having worked in retail for the last 25 years or so, I should be a good salesperson, right? But I’m really not. You would also think a writer would enjoy marketing her books. I really don’t. Yep, I’d rather be writing, too.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Lucy, I know you used to shelve books in retail stores. What, in your opinion, influenced sales? Author’s name? The book’s cover? The book’s blurb (focus or type of book)? Where it was placed on the shelf? Any of the above?

  6. Paula says:

    Maris, for what it’s worth, I brag you up to everyone I know. 😀

  7. Diane Burton says:

    I have to keep reminding myself that if I invented a widget and wanted to sell it, I’d have to advertise. Doesn’t make it any easier, though. Good luck with the promo.

    • Maris Soule says:

      My concern is my widget looks like a lot of other widgets. It’s a challenge to figure ways to convince others that my widget is worth their time and money. I’d rather be inventing more widgets.