Last weekend, I attended the BookBaby Conference in Philadelphia. BookBaby (yeah, I know. That name…) is a company that does all the stuff that happens after you create the manuscript. The conference was entirely focused on marketing books.
I went last year, too. That was their first one. It was a little rough around their edges. Most of the panels were from vendors and framed marketing from the perspective of non-fiction. It’s a lot easier talking marketing for non-fiction than it is for fiction. Almost all the advice I see on marketing assumes non-fiction, and fiction is a completely different animal.
But I still got enough out of it that I came back…especially when I saw the keynote speaker: Joanna Penn.
Philly is two hours out of DC, so I hopped a train out of Union Station. The hotel was by the Delaware River.
I don’t like the city much because it’s hard for me to eat. I’m gluten free and dairy free, and the majority of the meals have some form of bread in everything. If it’s not breaded and fried, it’s in a sauce. I like travel and don’t like travel. Food is always hard.
This conference had a more diverse group of speakers (still some who were vendors), but this time I felt more like it was speaking to the fiction writer.
Self-Publishing is Not a Backup Plan
Eva Lesko Natiello gave this panel. Highlights:
- The #1 thing is to get reviews.This came across over and over during all the sessions. Amazon gives all new books a bump in the rankings for about 30 days to give it a chance to be noticed. Reviews show activity and interest.She also said to put a request in for reviews at the back of the book. I’ve seen traffic on this before. Some say to do it, some say it makes you look desperate. But I’m trying it anyway. At this point, it’s not going to hurt.
- Use subtitles.
This was an interesting one. The subtitles don’t go on the cover itself, but in the field on Amazon. It might provide additional keywords and the genre. She noted that a traditionally published writer got stuck with a cover that totally misrepresented the book and put it in a different genre than it was (it was women’s fiction; cover was young adult male). The publisher refused to change the cover because of cost, so she suggested they add a subtitle to Amazon to clarify the genre.
- The Amazon Link
When you copy and paste the link to your book from Amazon, they know it comes from you. All the sign-in info is in that link. So you have delete everything after the ISBN number so that the link is clean.
Success Leaves Traces
This one sounded better than it actually was. Highlights:
- Rise to the challenge
- Understand and practice the pain of discipline
- Combine persistence with perseverance
- Willing to learn from every possible source
- Embrace the partnership with editors and other publishing professionals.
- Know the power of information
- Know the importance of relationships
- Constantly search for the next opportunity to practice their craft
Typing it out from my notes, it’s a good list, and yet the session was somewhat unmemorable. But a particular highlight is item #4. There was a writer I absolutely loved when I first discovered her series. Every time I visited B. Dalton, I looked on the shelf to see if she had anything new. Every book she wrote got better.
Then she turned into a best seller and decided she didn’t need to learn anything new. Her writing went downhill. She still sold books, but I went from buying them in hardback to getting them at the library. Then, eventually, only occasionally at the library because the books weren’t worth my time. A few books ago, it looked like she was trying to recapture those early days (maybe sales have gone down?)—and she can’t. The skills she had then are completely gone.
Book Marketing Masterclass
This was one of Joanna Penn’s sessions. It stated right after lunch, so I came back half an hour early to make sure I got a seat. I figured it would be full, and I was right! We had people sitting on the floor. She just did a post about the conference.
- Strategy is choosing what you want to do and more importantly, what you don’t want to do.
Pretty much, if you hate doing something, you’re probably not going to be very successful at it. This, of course, includes writing in a genre you don’t like.
- Long term marketing has to be autopilot
Because we need to write!
- Put links everywhere.
In the front of the book, in the back of the book, in your email signatures. I came back and uploaded the eBook for Cursed Planet with a updated bio to add more links.
An email responder can also be used to add more value, providing a link to a podcast or an interview.
This is another tip that came from multiple sessions. For blogs, post on a schedule and stick to it (which I haven’t always done). She recommended doing content planning because otherwise it can really be hard to keep up (something else I’m going to think about). I remember one writer from my old WANA group who waited until the last minute—when she needed to post—to come up with an idea for the post, write it, revise it a bunch of times, and then post. She was complaining about how much time the posts took.
She mentioned that she was on Pinterest, because she loves pictures. She uses pictures to show some of her research for her books (it’s under the J.F. Penn name if you go looking for it). I’m visual spatial and like pictures, but I’ve been so overwhelmed by my day job, something like Pinterest was too much. Things have improved there, so I’ve created a folder for my current project, Last Stand. https://www.pinterest.com/garridon/
That’s just the first day. Part II of this will be posted next Tuesday.