THE FIRST TIME an editor asked me the question,”Who are you and why are you interesting?” I was stricken speechless (not an easy feat for me).
My first thought was, “Me? Interesting? I don’t even know where my car keys are!”
It was easier when I lived in the city, where I worked at a major newspaper, had friends in the FBI, hung out with SWAT guys and was involved in Search and Rescue.
Now I spend my days keeping books on the ranch, weighing and keeping track of cattle, mucking cow poo for fertilizer and shooing deer out of the kitchen garden. Which I suppose is a different kind of interesting.
But I still know what my books are about and what makes them interesting.
When you know who you are and what is interesting about you, and what your book is about and who will be reading it, it makes it easier to get an agent, an editor, and believe it or not, it also frees you up when you’re writing–it gives you a framework to help build your book.
Knowing your book and how editors will present it to the marketing department, and how marketing will present it to readers are key, and here are a few questions to add to your Marketing Plan:
What are comparable titles to your book?
What do you believe distinguishes your book from comparable titles?
Develop some advertising blurbs. You are the author; you know the book better than anyone else. How will the book be sold? What will motivate people to buy it?
Develop some “sales pitches,” one-sentence blurbs that will make people want to know more–Some of mine were:
- SCOOP is a mystery about the three kinds of men in your life: The ones you play with, the ones you stay with, and the ones who just need killin’
- SCOOP is the sassy, sexy story of an obituary writer’s life, love and the occasional dead body
- SCOOP is the story of an obituary writer who finds herself up to her eyelashes in dead bodies and surrounded by more hot guys than she can shake a stick at.
Describe the audience, including age group, to whom this book is directed, and why you believe this audience will be responsive to your book, and, more importantly, buy the darn thing that you have slaved for, bled over and given up all hopes of ever having sex again . . . okay, I made that last one up for dramatic license.
Other than through bookstores, how do you believe this audience can best be reached?
List any previously published works, sequentially, with title, publisher, year.
List any works that are forthcoming, with title, publisher, and anticipated publication year.
List any books you are now working on or planning, and have a short, TV Guide version ready to go.
My blurb for SEARCH, the second book in the Cauley series:
FBI Special Agent Tom Logan is back in town, and he’s got a proposition for obituary writer Cauley MacKinnon. He needs somebody dead. And who better to help fake the death of a weasel-y informant than Cauley, aka the Obituary Babe? But things go awry when the snitch is gunned down on the way to the courthouse, his sister is nabbed by a mysterious cloaked figure and soon Cauley is up to her eyelashes in dead bodies, and on the hunt for the missing sister with her search and rescue dog, Marlowe.
So how’s that for a game plan? When most of us get into this business, we mistakenly believe that we will write a Masterpiece, lay it on the front doorstop and people would fall all over themselves to get it. Ah, if only it was that easy.
Who was that knucklehead who said, “If you build it they will come?” I’d like to introduce him to the business end of a very nice Ferragamo strappy sandal.
More accurately is the Tom Hanks quote “Of course it’s not easy–if it was easy, everyone would do it!”–that, and “There’s no crying in baseball!”
Yeah, the marketing end is a big pain in the ass, but getting a good marketing plan will help.