Would you plan a party, spend money to have it catered, and then give guests one day notice? Never! But time and again, authors do something similar. They publish too soon. Once they consider the book done, some writers simply let the title go to press. After all, writers want to be read, and the urge to publish can be overwhelming. Who doesn’t want to hold her books in her hands? On occasion, some publishers move too quickly also. But being first or fast doesn’t garner an author or press any more acclaim or sales. It hurts marketing and sales. The market is flooded, and we as readers have more choices than ever before about what to read. If a writer or press rushes through important decisions, especially key marketing decisions, it can damage a book’s success—which is heartbreaking.
Here are a few tips to help you determine if you are ready to go to market:
1. Your book has been professionally edited (this point is primarily for the self-published but could pertain to the hybridly-published as well.)
If your answer here is no, I strongly encourage you to hire an editor to review your manuscript. Review an editor’s credentials first to make certain they are a good fit for you and your title.
2. You have developed a marketing plan.
Your marketing plan includes a calendar or timeline. Most book marketing starts well in advance of publication date, at least four months ahead, often much more. This is because some media require materials or information early.
3. If you have no marketing plan or timeline, I advise you to stop and delay publication until you do.
What can happen if you rush to publication? You may miss review opportunities. Aside from marketing issues, you might have errors in your text or might not have the appropriate structures and systems in place to sell your book. When a writer publishes a book, she hopes to see buzz about it at publication, not an empty room at a signing or a small crowd at a launch party or no reviews. I often compare publishing a book to having a baby. You need a lot ready before the big arrival.
Writers work for years on their manuscripts, polishing, rewriting, copy editing. Why wouldn’t one give the same attention, space, and time to preparing to market the title? Proper marketing is about giving your story—the story only you can tell—the very best chance to be read by the widest possible audience.
Caitlin Hamilton Summie is a book marketer and publicist whose firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, has guided authors to success since 2003.
The Knoxville Writers’ Guild (KWG) will host Caitlin Hamilton Summie’s workshop “Marketing for Small Press Authors and the Self-Published” on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 1-3 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church. Hamilton Summie will walk writers through the basics of creating a marketing plan for their works. Topics will include assessing resources, designing marketing objectives, developing an elevator pitch, considering sales and distribution issues, and more.
Register and pay for the workshop online.