The most important lesson I learnt about marketing from my book launch
Last month I launched my book, The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Handbook, a self-help book for writers that is based on the podcast of that name. The book presents the best advice I’ve received from professional authors and editors over the last three years, and is the result of months of effort. When it was released I felt a mixture of pride and exhaustion, as well as a sense that, though I’m emotionally attached to this work, I now wanted to have a break from it.
I don’t think I am unusual in feeling this mix of emotions. One of my friends has just published a trilogy of fantasy novels. For him this represents the fulfillment of a project that has taken years to complete. He now feels exhausted by the process. I was speaking to another Christian writer recently, and she told me that once her book was released she just wanted people to find it themselves and buy it if they wanted it.
These comments, together with my own experiences have brought me to two conclusions.
- Authors, especially self-published authors, have similar experiences and emotions once they complete a book.
- These experiences and emotions are understandable, but are not conducive to the energy required to properly market a book
That second point presents a challenge to all of us. We all know that our books don’t “sell themselves” and most of us don’t have a marketing team on stand-by waiting to take our work to the world. It could be that our aim is to simply write a book and have the satisfaction of seeing it in print, and if that’s the case then we can sit back and relax after publication. However, if we want to sell our work, we need to prepare to do some marketing, even as we feel the inevitable exhaustion of a jobcompleted. How can do this? Here are three steps I take:
1. Start early - this is really important. I know that I need to plan well in advance for the marketing activity I want to engage in. That means researching the options well in advance, and then deciding what time and budget to commit to.
2. I need to maintain the standard of what I do. My marketing efforts need to be of the highest quality I can manage, like my books.
3. Finally , I need to stop when I’ve completed these tasks, and focus on the next book
In so many ways, marketing is counter intuitive for writers, but I’ve learnt that, whatever I plan to do with my work after it’s published, I can’t expect some untapped well of energy and enthusiasm within me to see me through, or a grateful public to rush out to buy my work, whether I market it or not. The best summary of it I think is this: we need to go that extra mile and give our marketing efforts the same degree of planning, preparation, and attention that we would give to the book itself.