For our February meeting, Rome Area Writers welcomed local author Deborah Malone back for a talk on marketing your book. Although aimed primarily at self published authors, Malone had multiple tips and pointers that work for any author regardless of how they’re published.
The first tip is, in some ways, the hardest: have a finished book. Publishers aren’t interested in ideas, Malone said, so you need to have a book to show publishers and agents. If you’re self published, you need to have a book that’s been thoroughly beta read and edited (preferably by a paid editor) before selling it to the public.
When it comes time to write proposals, authors need to remember to brand themselves as a writer. Malone recommended Kaye Dacus and her website as an excellent resource for the dos and don’ts of writing a synopsis, proposal, and query letter.
For the self published author, Malone emphasized the need for well designed, eye-catching covers. Titles, she added, should be memorable, short, clever, and enticing. In the case of her murder mystery novels, Death in Dahlonega, Decatur Dead, Terror on Tybee Island, Chilled in Chattanooga, and Murder in Marietta, Malone said the local angle brought a sense of familiarity to her books, as readers often enjoy reading about places they know.
Building a following online is important for any author, whether they go the traditional route for publishing, as approximately 80 percent of marketing is the author’s responsibility, Malone explained, or if they self publish. Toward that end, Malone recommended every author to have their own website and run a blog on that site. If blogging by yourself starts becoming a choir, or if the blog gets stale, it can help to start running a joint blog with other authors or have guests pots on your own blog. For social media, Malone added, citing Stress Free Marketing by Renea Winchester, it’s best to have a 5 to 1 ratio of other topics and writers to yourself.
Networking at book events and conventions, joining writing groups, and speaking at book clubs are all good ways for an author to get their name out. Malone spoke about how she keeps a supply of books in her car and has business cars on her at all times, as she never knows when she may encounter a prospective reader.
Malone recommended Stress Free Marketing and Sell More Books by J. Steve Miller as important books for self published authors to read. She recommended Write in Style by Bobbie Christmas and GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon as useful writing resources for authors.
Rome Area Writers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering local writing talent and helping authors improve their work. We meet the second Thursday of each month at the Rome/Floyd Library from 6 to 8 PM.