I know I’ve blathered on about promo plans numerous times, but it just can’t be discussed enough. Whether you’re going DIY or looking for trade publishing, you need to have a realistic promo plan.
Let me give an example of what I mean.
Author’s Promo Plan:
I plan on approaching baby stores about carrying my book about preemies, including store chains like Babies R Us.
What an Editor is Thinking
Very cool! But where is the author’s market research to see if baby stores will actually carry preemie books…i.e. her preemie book? Where is the statement that says the author talked to a few store managers about whether they would be interested in such a deal? Where is the proof that this plan is even viable?
If it isn’t there, then an editor will see this for exactly what it is: An idea. While ideas are great, they aren’t a promotion plan.
A promotion plan is ability to implement.
What Makes Editors Gooey
So let’s change this around a bit so it catches an editor’s eye:
I have spoken with numerous baby stores in my area after noticing that they had no books about preemies, yet they have great preemie clothing departments. The managers were enthusiastic about the possibility of selling my book, especially when I offered to give a talk at their stores to preemie parents. Additionally, I talked the the head buyer of the preemie department at Babies R Us, and she was excited about seeing my proposal that would get my book into their stores.
See the difference? Editors love ideas. But what they love more is something that has been proven to be possible and is already set in motion by their publicity teams.
Editors have been around the block a few times and spot the difference between, “Hey! This is a great idea” and “Hey! This is reality.” Be prepared to have the goods.
Another thing that authors should know is their competition. I know it’s not good to talk in absolutes, but this really is something authors should do if they’re serious about their literary future. I’ve seen more than a few authors (or their agents) include title comps that are as old as the hills and twice as dusty in the attempt to show there’s a hole in the genre and their book will bring this subject matter up to date. Thing is, we do our own search, and if I see scads of books that are very current and very competitive to your book, then I’m going to shake my little finger at you ‘cos you done be busted.
And really, you need to do this anyway, so you understand what you’re up against. If you’re busy wondering why your cancer book isn’t selling, then maybe it’s because you failed to notice the bajillion cancer books already flooding the market. If you’ve spazzed out on establishing a platform, and you have no idea of your competition, then you aren’t properly prepared to sell many books.
You need to be able to speak intelligently to how your book compares and contrasts to your competition. I mean, won’t you look quite the silly if someone interviews you and asks how your book compares to last year’s big hit…and you don’t know it exists? Seen it; squicked out in sympathy for the author. Don’t be that author.
Writing a book is a romantic idea – no really, it is. We get this idea burning in our souls and take the time to get it out. We sweat blood, drink a lot of bad gin (or is that just me?), and wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant twist of a phrase. But once it’s written, you haven’t reached the end. You’ve reached a whole new beginning, and how you prepare for that predicates the impact your book will make on the marketplace.
Don’t get caught with your Vickie Secrets down around your ankles. Separate the Cool Idea from Cool Reality, and keep your eyes wide open to your competition – and you’ll find an editor who simply can’t live without you.