Any first year freshman majoring in Marketing will tell you that the key to selling any product or service is to get the word out. It's a fairly simple concept and also one that is just pretty darn obvious. For instance, one can write the greatest book ever written, but if no one knows about it, it will never be read or appreciated. So how do you best get the word out when promoting a new novel? That was the conundrum we were facing.
This past summer my second novel in the MacBridan Mystery series, Relic of Darkness, was released. If you like mystery thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat and where things go bump in the night, then you're in for a good read. Its predecessor, The Dark Side of the Cross, introduced the series as well as the main character, James MacBridan. Happily, it was very well received and I got great feedback on MacBridan, hence his return.
So with book two getting ready to come out, even though we were more experienced, we still faced the same issue. How do we effectively spread the word about this new book with, what is at best, a modest budget? Clearly you first want to reach out to your fan base via email, Twitter, Facebook and any other social media outlet there is. The goal here is to get them excited and to help you spread the word.
We then reached out to the book stores and book clubs in our community, setting up book signings and speaking events. All of these are good, but you're still limited, for the most part, as to whom you know and how much time you, as an individual, can commit. Despite everything my wife and I were doing, the question was always out there: What are we missing that is new and would give my book more exposure?
The vast majority of authors face this very dilemma. Sadly, few of us actually share in the mega budgets that the big publishers bring to the table for what is only a handful of authors. For most authors, 90 percent of the marketing effort falls on their shoulders. While we may be adept at writing, marketing is an art from all in its own.
Fortunately, this time around my wife and I did not face this daunting task alone.
The first time I heard Dennis Welch speak was at a men's event at my church. Dennis owns his own company, Articulate. Dennis works with authors as their publicist, getting them and their books in front of as many media outlets as possible. After his presentation, he and I spent some time talking. It was then that I learned that he only represents authors who write non-fiction, primarily business books. Nevertheless, he shared a great deal of information with me and we stayed in touch.
Months before the release of book two, I reached out to Dennis and we met for coffee. We discussed ideas as to how to more effectively promote my upcoming novel. After a few minutes more I took a giant leap of faith and asked if he would work with us on promoting this new novel. Dennis took some time to think about it, but as he'd enjoyed book one, he was intrigued by the project and signed on. Dennis brought a great deal to the table and opened doors for us that we never would have thought of going near. All was going well, and then he laid a very different idea on us.
Let's do a book trailer!
At first I really didn't know what to say. I mean, we've all seen trailers and I'm one of those people who really enjoy them. Trailers are a critical tool for promoting films and can play a huge role in a film's success. Show me a boring trailer and I'll show you a movie that is destined for a short run. Television networks use trailers all the time, both for new and existing shows. But we weren't doing a film or a television show. We were in the process of promoting a book!
Not wanting to show my complete skepticism, and at the same time wanting to mask my sudden concern for Dennis (had he suffered a bump to the head?), I asked him to explain how that would work. I'd never heard of a book trailer. In his normal, patient manner, he let me know how book trailers were becoming more and more the norm. With people doing more of their shopping online, book trailers were becoming pretty common on several retail web sites. We talked about it some more and finally agreed to move forward.
But, we needed a song. A scary, moody piece that would roughly follow the same emotional road as the book. How could we possibly do that?
Well, it turns out that Dennis is an accomplished songwriter, and once upon a time he even made records and wrote music for a living. He happened to have a song in his catalogue called Guardian that worked perfectly. He even had a cool recording of the song he had done with his band almost 25 years ago.
Who could have known?
So, with that hurdle out of the way, Dennis did the leg work and found the company that would produce the trailer. A great deal went into the preparation and after a few weeks they completed it. They then sent us a semi-final cut for our review, asking if there were any changes we would like for them to make. The first time I saw it, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was really good! It set the right mood, it gave enough of the story to draw me in, and the scenes it pictured were amazing. Especially amazing in that some of them were exactly as I'd imagined them when I wrote the book!
All in all, the trailer turned into an asset for us and we learned something new at the same time.
The bottom line? There are a lot of ways these days to be heard and to get noticed. Don't settle. Find the one or two ways to bring your book to public attention, and then, do the most important part.