The Nightstand Diaries – experience one author’s marketing plan as it’s put into action

The Nightstand Diaries – experience one author’s marketing plan as it’s put into action

 It seems that we all know someone who is writing or is thinking of writing a book. Maybe you’re even in the midst of writing a book or have completed your magnum opus. While vast changes in the publishing world have allowed more writers than ever to become published authors, sadly the hours, months and years of hard work to get to ‘The End’ doesn’t mean you’ll be read by anyone other than Mom and Aunt Mildred. Even if you get a book deal from a traditional publisher, the marketing, most of the time, is up to you. A fellow author that was published by a major house tells the story of how he didn’t get any marketing assistance, so he hired his own publicist…at $3,500 a month!

Fortunately, with the explosion of social media, we can all market our scribblings to a wide audience for free or next to nothing. All it takes is knowing where to find your audience and the desire to interact with them. 

I confess that I’m still learning how social media works – most times I feel like an ant in a snowstorm. And the questions I ask myself seem endless: Do I tweet every day? Blog once a week? Is that enough? Too much? What could I possibly say so that people will want to follow me? And how can I track what’s working and what is just a giant time suck? 

I’ve named my blog, “The Nightstand Diaries” because in terms of making a living as an author, it doesn’t mean squat that we’re published. It also doesn’t mean squat that our books are taking up space on a bookstore shelf (some of the most expensive real estate in the world, right?). It’s only when someone takes our book home and reads it – as a way to relax on a lounge chair, pass time on a subway, or as the last mental exercise before putting it on the nightstand and going to bed – and we become a part of our readers’ lives that we will fully realize the dream of truly being an author. With this notion in mind, I invite you to come along as I try to do that very thing.

My goal is to try and sell 5,000 copies of my new novel The Brink over the next year. It’s a suspense thriller that, in my own humble opinion, is a pretty darn good read. It’s also won two awards from its publisher and it just received 3 out of 5 stars from Foreword Clarion Reviews, so I’m not just blowing smoke up your skirt. Since my last name isn’t Grisham or King, free (or nearly free) social media will be the medium we’re using to market it. As we all know, social media is like the new, undiscovered forest that’s suddenly sprouted at the edge of our city and, while it seems inviting and thrilling, it is also a confusing place where new species of plants and trees seem to pop up every day. I’m familiar with social media and, by attending a few seminars and reading books such as The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott, I’m learning more every day. But I also know that I am going to F*** up many, many times, which will probably be good fun for everyone, including me, as I’ve got a pretty thick skin and I’ve been laughing at myself for most of my life.  While many of my news releases will be posted with tongue firmly in cheek (any Onion fans out there?), I’ll also post what I’m doing to market the book on a daily basis, what it costs (in money and time), and how effective it is (i.e. # of sales generated from each strategy or event) and we can all either celebrate it afterwards, or you can laugh at me for my stupidity. Either way, we’ll have some fun, share some great ideas, and hopefully over the year, realize, as authors, what the power of social media can do for all of us. And, BTW, I purposely named it “The Nightstand Diaries” not “Diary”, so I expect a lot of input from others that we can all learn from.

 A little about The Brink – It’s a suspense thriller that takes readers along as Danny Cavanaugh, a fugitive Texas Ranger and Sydney Dumas, a brilliant judge in the International Court of Justice, race from the wilderness of Mexico to Washington, D.C. with evidence of a secret society’s plot to create global financial Armageddon. The controversial aspect of the novel comes from the fact that I’ve used real-world numbers and economic theories to show just how easy it would be, given our current economic climate, for this catastrophe to happen. After shopping it around to several of large publishing houses, my agent, Tris Coburn, and I thought it would be a good idea to go the self-publishing route and publish it through iUniverse. During that process, the book has won both the iUniverse Editor’s Choice Award and the Rising Star Award. It was published May 2010, and I’ve already done a few signings and a significant amount of marketing (which I’ll share in tomorrow’s post).

A little about me – My “day job” is as a freelance writer. I’ve been writing for almost 10 years now and have two other published novels. Five Days in Dallas was my first novel and also a book that features Danny Cavanaugh – then a Dallas, Texas detective. My second novel, The Campaign, was one that, as I like to say, went straight to audiobook. I also narrated it and recently pulled it off the web so I could publish it in a traditional format upon the success of The Brink. It is a stand-alone novel that centers on the question, “What would happen if all the presidential candidates were killed in the 72 hours prior to Election Day?”

 So, if you are a writer, or you know someone who is, it’d be great if you’d join me, or tell your friend to join in the fun. No one should go into the woods alone, right? 

 Today is June 14, 2010, just a few days after my birthday. As a gift, I’m giving myself a year to work my tail off. Again, the goal is 5,000 copies. Let the madness begin…

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