Many aspiring writers I know seem to think that only self-published writers have to market their books. They work on the assumption that once they sell their novel, the publisher is going to do the rest for them.
Unfortunately, this myth is perpetuated by writing support groups across the country. I learned this wasn’t true even before I sold my novel. My first tip-off was when an acquaintance of mine, who had just sold her first book to a large detective publisher, made her bookmarks and began attending conventions six full months before her book’s scheduled release date. Her publisher did provide her with the bookmarks. But before she got them, she used MS Word and a template, and took her “generic” bookmark down to her local Kinko’s and had about fifty of them printed up.
Her reasoning, “My publisher’s marketing material won’t be out for a few more months, so if I didn’t make my own, I would have squandered an opportunity. The publisher will be placing ads in some of the big genre magazines, helping my book get pro reviews and getting some big-name writers to blurb my book. Otherwise, most of the marketing is up to me. The publishers use the bulk of their marketing budget on the big names. I was advised by others to do some footwork on my own, so I am.”
Well before I even sold my first novel, I started a list, with the help of more experienced writers, of inexpensive marketing ideas to get the ball rolling and to get my name out there. Once I sold the novel, I got in gear and started marketing myself. You can do most of this before your book is even out. Some of the items on this list require computer skills.
Other parts require that you get out there a little more. Don’t worry if you’re shy or reclusive. You won’t have to become more social unless you want to. You have to get involved, accept help from enthusiastic friends who want to help you out, and turn everyday social activities into a positive situation for you and your novel by, in the very least, talking to people. You’d be amazed at how easily “How are you today?” can turn into “When is your book coming out?” even when you’re talking to the clerk at the post office.
Start writing articles and submit them to writer’s magazines, e-zines, and newsletters (like this one). That way you can mention your book in your bio and get your name out there. You can even learn HTML, or get a WYSIWYG web page creation program and build yourself a website if you already haven’t.