Thursday, August 12, 2010

RWA Workshop on Marketing for the Brave New World

I was very surprised to see that this particular workshop was not well attended. Personally I had thought there would be people sitting on the floor. It could have been the timing -- just after lunch on the Saturday  or didn't really say that this was SMP marketing and PR team plus a high profile book publicist and star agent. Mary Kay Andrews is a best selling NYT author and she brought along her team to say how they supported her and what could be done, particularly when budgets are cut to the bone. This wasn't a PAN workshop but something that was open to everyone.
There is a handout which I believe was mainly written by Meghan Walker and Mary Kay. Meghan Walker is a book publicist with Tandem Literary. It is worth its weight in gold.
It was recorded and perhaps that is the reason for the low attendance but I was surprised. It amuses me that so many people spend time in the bar when there is so much to offer on tap.
Anyway, it was highly useful, and Mary Kay did her job as she is now in my TBR pile.
But if anyone needed a primer on marketing, this was it.  Her message was the more you take on, the more the publisher is willing to kick in. You are your brand and your brand is you. Believe in it.
The workshop confirmed many of the things that were said in the Harlequin Digital Workshop and elsewhere -- Social Media is key. If you don't want to do it, maybe you can get a fan to do it. Only do what you are comfortable doing but make sure your website is up to date and there are BUY buttons for all major online bookstores, or at least have the ISBN. There was mention again of exclusive content which is only available from your website.
Don't waste time on bookmarks -- actually if you happened into the goody room on the Saturday afternoon, you'd see why. All books gone. All pens gone. A ton of paper left behind.
But you can also do things locally such as reaching out to local bookstores and libraries. Give workshops and reach out to reading groups. (Which reminds me -- I need to update my website and add the workshops etc that I am doing in the next few months...)
Stuart Krichesky mentioned the book Tribes by Seth Godwin and the importance of building communities. (Acutally I've read Seth Godwin's blog for years so I felt smug.) Krichesky also gave some pointers on twitter and how to use it. This tallied closely with the Digital workshop that Malle Vallik and Jenny Bullough gave on the subject. Twitter can be used as a listening station to see what others are talking about, it should be used generously and not as a hard sell. It is another way to engage readers. You should also use the search function and you should look at things that interest you.
The handout contains 10 things that an author can do and shouldn't expect the publisher or publicist to do for them but the most important thing is to use your time wisely. The Book must be done FIRST. It is only through having something to sell that you can get a return on the investment.
Anyway, it was a thoroughly useful workshop and one which was open to everyone. It is also why it pays to go through the workshop list beforehand and see what appeals.


Phillipa said...

Michelle - thank you for the report and link to thsi! If I'd been at the conf, I'd definitely have gone along. I'm thoroughly enjoying learning all about book marketing at the moment and what authors can do for an enthusiastic Publisher. :)

Michelle Styles said...

Phillipa --
Because of the move towards online book buying, authors need to do more. Everyone was saying this, so I was surprised that so many people missed this thoroughly useful workshop. Glad you found my notes of interest.

Nell Dixon said...

Very useful Michelle, and backs up a workshop I went to at Bournemouth earlier this year which was on Public Health. Marketing is marketing and brands are brands. I always think that if I've worked hard writing my book then it deserves my best efforts to let people know it's out there. I don't thinkI'd ever be a hard sell kind of person and I don't think that kind of thing works in the book world but I do feel I should explore new things and try to learn.

Caroline said...

Thanks Michelle for another great report. You have been so generous in sharing what you learned and saw at the RWA. Caroline xx