Marketing Your Work (The Business of Being a Writer)


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You have to start asking yourself questions like: Who is your ideal reader? What publications or publishers serve that reader or readership?

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What do you want to accomplish by making your work public by publishing? When does it make sense for a writer to self-publish? You were a speaker and you sold books at the back of the room, or your book was this eccentric thing that reached a niche audience that only you knew about. Today, it can make sense for many types of writers self-publish, especially those writing genre fiction for adults. A significant percentage of the genre fiction market is driven by Amazon and e-book sales, and some entrepreneurial and savvy authors are better at playing that game than traditional publishers are.

Anyone who can reach their audience directly through online means e. The larger question is: You have to choose your path for the right reason, at the right time. With so many people publishing their own work, is it harder than ever for a writer to get noticed? But I consider all writers capable of adapting and innovating in their careers, at any stage, if they can just get out of their own way and avoid self-defeating thoughts about marketing and self-promotion.

Some writers struggle with technology or are tired of being constantly online. What advice do you have for them? Could it possibly be as good, or even better, than the first? But we all loved it from the first page, breathed a big sigh of relief, and then felt a different kind of stress: We realized we had a big opportunity—and responsibility—to help Ng reach even more readers with this new book. She started participating on Goodreads because of her own passion for reading. This is because social sharing is built into every activity on Goodreads.

When people enter a giveaway, a story appears in the newsfeed of their friends, essentially creating a mini advertisement for the book. When someone posts a review, a story shows up in the newsfeed, helping more people discover books to read. And if someone hears about a great book in the media and adds it to their Want to Read shelf, their friends see this in their newsfeed, providing another wave of reminders about the book.

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Building Pre-release Buzz January - May The Penguin Press marketing and publicity team plotted out a year-long campaign, with major milestones in nearly every month leading up to publication. They targeted four distinct audience groups: In January , nine months before the book was due to come out in September , the Penguin Press marketing team focused on booksellers —a crucial audience who had been very supportive of Ng's first book.

They also brought Ng to Winter Institute , a conference of independent booksellers that takes place in January each year, and handed out galleys there. In addition, they sent galleys to influential booksellers across the country. The next step was to focus on readers. Getting this key audience excited and aware of the new book was the focus in February Ng's announcement on Goodreads and Twitter that Little Fires Everywhere was now available for pre-order helped kick-start some early Want to Read shelvings of the book on Goodreads and started the social amplification effect.

Meanwhile, the Penguin Press publicity team swung into action, sending early copies to media contacts. Soon they had secured an exclusive cover reveal and excerpt with EW. March was when the Penguin Press sales team really kicked into gear, with sales reps sharing ARCs with booksellers and librarians.

On Goodreads, the first big spike in interest came from a pre-review by Goodreads member Maxwell , one of the top reviewers on Goodreads.

In April , Penguin Press ramped up their pre-marketing with Goodreads. The team ran the first of what would be six Goodreads Giveaways and mailed ARCs to some key Goodreads reviewers who were fans of Ng's first book. As a result, the essential early buzz started to build with readers, and by the end of May three months before publication , Little Fires Everywhere already had 4, Want to Read shelvings and 23 reviews. To keep the momentum going, the Penguin Press team ran more giveaways on Goodreads in May, June, and July, which continued to build an audience of readers who had added Little Fires Everywhere to their Want to Read shelves.

Starred early reviews from Kirkus Reviews , Publishers Weekly , LibraryJournal , and Booklist came out, further building support and anticipation for the book. In late June , Angela M, one of the top 25 reviewers on Goodreads, gave a 5-star review of the book. This drove another spike in people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves and continued to drive more discovery of the book on Goodreads over several days. As a result of the large number of fans the book had won in the librarian community, Little Fires Everywhere was also selected as the Favorite book in the September LibraryReads list.

The list is shared widely, and Goodreads has many librarians in its community who are friends with other librarians and readers. Rave reviews continued to come out on Goodreads, and the Penguin Press team analyzed these to help shape their messaging with ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon Marketing Services. By the end of August 12 days before publication , Little Fires Everywhere had reviews, and 15, people had added it to their Want to Read shelves, a clear signal of the huge anticipation building for the book.

It was at this point—perfectly timed for the lead-up to publication on September 12, —when things really caught fire. There was also high-profile print media coverage, in publications including Real Simple, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Glamour , and Marie Claire. This influential email highlights some of the most popular trending new books published that month and is a significant driver of book discovery on Goodreads. This gives publishers the opportunity to send a warm, friendly, and personal message from an author to their fans, and includes links to retailers to convert these interested readers into buyers just as the book comes out.

This email went out on September 6, helping drive another significant spike in people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves as well as pre-orders.

In the first 11 days, the number of Want to Read shelvings on Goodreads doubled. Notable Readers Remember the unexpected accelerants we mentioned at the beginning? September 12 was not only publication day, but also when actor, producer, and famous book lover Reese Witherspoon announced that she had chosen Little Fires Everywhere for her popular RWBookClub. As Witherspoon's team promoted the discussion on Instagram, more people discovered the book and added it to their Want to Read shelves.

Goodreads Influencers Another accelerant on Goodreads came from some of the most influential reviewers on Goodreads. First, Emily May , the most popular reviewer on Goodreads —with more than , friends and followers—posted a positive review on September Combined, these popular reviewers have thousands of followers, who saw their book reviews in their Goodreads newsfeeds.

As they liked and commented on the reviews, they created more stories about the book in the newsfeeds of their friends, creating more awareness and buzz about the book. As a signal of just how powerful this group of reviewers is, today 11 of the 30 most popular reviews for Little Fires Everywhere are by members of The Traveling Sisters group.

It tore at all of us. Celeste Ng is masterful at this. Ng was selected by the Goodreads Editorial team for an interview due to her popularity on Goodreads and the growing interest in Little Fires Everywhere among Goodreads members in the lead-up to publication. Thanks to this reader buzz, fabulous media coverage, the book club picks, and a months-long tour, it was no surprise that Little Fires Everywhere debuted at No. The book continued on the bestseller lists through the fall. Then at the end of October , due to rave reviews and the overall popularity of the book on Goodreads, Little Fires Everywhere was a nominee for the Goodreads Choice Awards in the Fiction category.

Marketing Strategy: How To Write Copy That Turns Website Visitors Into Customers

The Goodreads Choice Awards are the only major book awards decided by readers, and in , there were 3. As you can see from the graph above, the impact on the book on Goodreads was dramatic! This was a book that had been on the bestseller lists for weeks and had already been discovered by , people.

Adjust your settings so your first and last name shows up in readers' feeds.

Such is the power of the Goodreads Choice Awards that another 17, members added it to their Want to Read shelves in a single day. The Goodreads Choice Awards also drive sales, and the Penguin Press team saw a spike in purchases as a result. Thanks to winning the award, the book saw a steep change in the number of people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves, which has continued to this day.

Now in Orbit One of our favorite quotes about book marketing is from publishing industry consultant Michael Shatzkin: The publisher commits maximum firepower to getting them off the ground. Most crash to earth. Some go into orbit. And the power of the Goodreads Choice Awards effect continues! As you can see from the visual above, the Goodreads Choice Awards drive significant discovery and interest months beyond the announcement of winners.

This led to yet another spike in people adding the book to their Want to Read shelves, and we expect to see more people discovering and reading the book as we get closer to the TV series launch. Of course, while driving discovery is critical, publishers and authors want to see people buying and reading the book. As noted at the beginning of this case study, the book now has , ratings, making it the number one most-rated book on Goodreads that was published in Ultimately, though, all the great book marketing tools in the world would not have worked without an amazing story.

Goodreads can only help amplify the success of a good book. In the end, the story stands on its own. An example email with a customized message. Some tips on how to create copy for this message that really resonates with readers: We recommend the email comes from the author of the book. Share an anecdote or interesting insight. Where did the idea for the book come from?

Have readers been asking a particular question about this book that you can reveal the answer to? Is this book related to an event or person in your life? Invite an ongoing connection. Use the email to encourage people to follow you on Goodreads so you can continue the connection. Thank people for entering the giveaway and how much you appreciate their interest in the book. People are busy and attention spans are short. As a quick refresher, here are all the ways your book will be promoted with a Premium Giveaway: Featured placement in the Giveaways section of Goodreads, with tens of millions of visitors each month, giving your giveaway significantly more visibility and more entrants.

This helps generate even more entries, creating more stories in the Goodreads updates feed. About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read the book too. Check our help topics or contact us Next: Got a question for Catherine McKenzie about her publishing career or marketing?

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Combined, these popular reviewers have thousands of followers, who saw their book reviews in their Goodreads newsfeeds. Even more impressive is that the book has an average rating of 4. For details on message content, view our guidelines. People who RSVP get a reminder the day before the event. Thanks to this reader buzz, fabulous media coverage, the book club picks, and a months-long tour, it was no surprise that Little Fires Everywhere debuted at No. Do those publications serve your target audience?

Leave a question in the comments and the author will respond to them the week of May Be sure to follow her on Goodreads to see all her updates. Turning Attention Into Sales Posted by Cynthia on April 12, Jane Friedman has spent more than 20 years in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publisher, and professor. The following is an excerpt from her newest book, The Business of Being a Writer. Come up with at least two or three established writers who produce work similar to your own.

Study reader reviews of their work on Amazon or Goodreads. When you find a stellar review by a person who is active online, dig deeper—take a look at their profile and their website if they have one, and develop a portrait of someone who could be your ideal reader.

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Think of a writer similar to you or one you wish to emulate. Which publications have interviewed or reviewed that writer? Do those publications serve your target audience? What can you learn about the audience from those publications? Where do writers similar to you appear — both in real life and online? What events do they attend? Look at their social media activity: What does it say about who their readership is? To drive a sale 2. To build a relationship.

Find authors in the same genre or with a similar writing style and follow them on Goodreads to see what kind of activity they do. Use Ask the Author to ask successful authors for concrete advice. Sullivan great answer to one readers' question here. Decide how your Goodreads activity will fit into your marketing plan.

For example, figure out when you will run a Giveaway or take questions from readers using Ask the Author. Authors sometimes wonder how to effectively reach and engage with reviewers on Goodreads, especially when they can see how much Goodreads reviews can impact the success of a book. There are two different approaches for authors when it comes to promoting books on Goodreads that authors should leverage together.