Marketing Strategies for New Authors

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Signing my first contract!
Any editor or agent will tell you story is key in getting a writer’s career started. Once a writer signs that contract, she is thrust into a world that sometimes leaves her wondering if she just slipped down Alice’s rabbit hole. Or was that just me?
In today’s economy, publishing houses are expecting writers to step up their marketing game. So how is a debut author supposed to market a book that isn’t even on the shelves yet? 
When I learned my debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, would be published by Love Inspired and released in November 2011, my brain shifted into gear to figure out how I could reach out to my future readers. Love Inspired novels are category romances, which means they are on store shelves for only a month, although they can still be ordered online until the print run ends. 
I really didn’t know much about marketing and had no idea what would work, but I had to focus on what I thought would work for me. The first thing I did is ramp up my website. When readers find an author they love, one of the first things they do is search for the author’s website. I wanted my site to by my online home where readers would feel welcomed and want to learn more about my books. Jim Rubart spoke at the 2009 My Book Therapy pizza party and talked about making your website stand out from the rest. One thing he mentioned was to go beyond the “Welcome to my site” home page. Taking his advice, my homepage introduces visitors to my Romance With the Written Word
I designed my site using iWeb software on my Mac. I chose colors based on my author photo taken by the very talented and uber friendly The Clik Chick’s Amber Zimmerman, daughter of one of my favorite authors, Diann Hunt. Amber did my author photos at the 2010 ACFW conference. I loved working with her and was pleased with the result. A professional author photo tells the world that writing is your business, not just a hobby. 
Another way unpublished writers can get their names out to the public is by getting involved in writing organizations—volunteering at conferences and writing for newsletters. I’m actively involved in My Book Therapy as the forum coordinator and Voices e-zine editor. I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers where I volunteer at the conferences and participate as a bi-monthly columnist for Afictionado, ACFW’s e-zine. 
Additionally I blog on my personal blog and my writing support group’s collaborative blog—MBT Ponderers. Plus, the WordServe authors have gotten together to collaborate on the WordServe Water Cooler blog–publishing, marketing and industry information for writers. Our blog debuts on Tuesday, August 2. Be sure to check us out! We look forward to getting to know you! 
With the explosion of social media as the latest avenue for marketing, I opened Twitter and Facebook accounts. I’m still trying to work those two media opportunities into my schedule. Since I work full-time in my home and write in the evenings, there isn’t a lot of time hang out on Twitter or Facebook. Edie Melson’s new e-book, Social Marketing for Writers, is a great resource to help writers balance an online presence with their busy schedules. 
Amazon has my novel available on October 18. To raise interest, I put together a blog hop that will go from October 18 to November 30. I say blog hop instead of a blog tour because readers will be participating in a virtual scavenger hunt for an opportunity to win the grand prize at the end of the blog hop. I hope to raise interest about my book while taking the traditional blog tour and giving it a little twist. 
Once my cover is available, I will be ordering my new business cards, bookmarks and postcards. I’m not sure about other promotional items like pens or sticky note pads because they’re pricey. I created an advertising budget and need to stay within those guidelines. 
On November 5th, I will host a public book launch party for Lakeside Reunion. I plan to send a bulletin-sized announcement to all of the churches in my area, contact my local papers and library to generate more publicity about my book. 
Lakeside Reunion is set in the fictional town of Shelby Lake and hopefully, the first of several novels in my planned series. To give readers an inside glimpse into Shelby Lake and its residents, I’m working on a Welcome to Shelby Lake website. The site will offer character insights, facts about the town and recipes. 
Thankfully, Harlequin–Love Inspired’s parent company–provides some marketing for their authors. I’m not sure if my marketing strategies will generate buzz for my book or not, but at least they show my publishing house I’m willing to partner with them to help make my book a success. 
Be sure to visit Rachelle Gardner’s blog tomorrow for information about the WordServe Parade of Blogs on MARKETING to learn how other WordServe clients are marketing their books. 
Your turn: What marketing strategies are you using to help create buzz for your books? If you’re not published yet, what are you doing to help build your platform?
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  1. Jessica R. Patch

    Lisa, this is a fabulous post! Your ideas are incredible. I love the website just for Lakeside. Very neat idea.

    I'm looking forward to reading your book!

  2. Melissa Tagg

    Awesome post, Lisa! Someday WHEN I have a book coming out, pretty sure I'm going to need to re-read this. Can't wait for your release!!

  3. Melissa Tagg

    p.s. I'm getting headshots taken next week. Woohoo! Okay, actually I'm not so much looking forward to the actual photo session as much as I am just finally getting it done. Just one good hair day, that's all I ask for. 🙂

  4. Katie Ganshert

    Can't wait to read your book woman! Love this post!

  5. Wendy Paine Miller

    Came over from the parade. So fun!

    And you know what I also really love…that picture of you! Makes it sooooo real.
    ~ Wendy

  6. Lucille Zimmerman

    Lisa, I love the soothing look of your blog. I look forward to getting to know you on the new WordServe Water Cooler blog.

  7. Jenny Sulpizio

    Loving these posts! Great tips and thank you so much!

    Jenny Lee Sulpizio
    Author of "mommy Whispers"

  8. Reba J. Hoffman

    Ok, so when my first book debuts, I'll be soooo glad I have you on speed dial! 🙂