Today we are thrilled to host Janice Hardy, author of the MG Healing Wars trilogy and dispenser of writing wisdom through her blog, The Other Side of the Story. Anyone who visits Janice’s blog knows the amazing wealth of knowledge it holds, and if you’ve read her books, you’ve no doubt fallen in love with the rich world and characters and seen how Janice puts honed technique into practice.
The third book in the series, Darkfall, has just been released, and it got me to thinking about the huge challenge it must be for any author to promote a sequel or series. I asked Janice if she’d share some of her Marketing Fu, explaining what she’s found to be successful as she dives into promoting her third book to readers. So, take it away Janice!
After I sold my first novel, (The Shifter) I spent weeks scouring the web looking for advice on how to market books. I knew it was important, but had no clue what to do. It’s been four years now and I’ve learned—and tried—a lot of different things. Some worked, some didn’t, and some I wished I’d done differently right from the start.
I could do a whole post on this alone, but this is probably the most important thing you can do to market your novel. In today’s world, folks are used to popping online and looking up the things they’re interested in. Having a website gives them something to find. And right or wrong, businesses without a website always feel less professional. Your book is your business, so make sure it feels like a pro.
You really want to have a card with your name, the book’s name, and the cover image on it. Not only are they great for conferences, but hand one to everyone who asks about your book. They’re great reminders of not only your name, but the title, and we all know how easy it is to forget things like that.
A Pitch Line
I just heard a lot of you groan, but this really is a must have. When those folks ask you about your book, you need to be able to tell them what it’s about in one or two sentences. Typically, it’ll go like this:
Person Who Just Found out You’re an Author: Oh, what’s your book called/about?
You: The Shifter, and it’s about a girl who can heal by shifting pain from person to person, and when her little sister disappears, it turns out to be the only weapon she has to save her. Here’s my card.
Then you hand them that nifty card with your cover on it. It may get stuck in a pocket and forgotten, but it might just lead to a sale. I’ve gotten invitations to events because of random “here’s my card” moments with people I met in line at bookstores.
Do I hear more groans? Probably, but this is also pretty important. At the very least, you’re going to need copy on your website about your book. While the cover copy is good, having something punchy that’s sales focused is even better. It’s about marketing, remember? If you do ads, postcards, bookmarks, media kits, or anything PR related, you’ll want something that sells the book, not just describes it.
A tagline is great to have as well. Taglines are those short slogans that grab attention. Just like an ad or movie poster, they’re designed to intrigue and make you want to know more. Here’s mine for The Shifter:
Sister. Healer. Deadly Weapon.
Nya has a secret she must never share.
A gift she must never use.
A world she must never question.
And a sister whose life depends on her doing all three.
It’s a tad long, but it works as both tag and copy sometimes. This is on my business card, postcards, the media kit, and all kinds of marketing materials. As a summary tagline, I also use:
Discover a war-torn world where healing is dangerous, and those with the best intentions often do the most harm.
When I need a short description (like for events or proposals), I use this:
Nya is a Taker: with her touch she can heal injuries, drawing the pain into her own body. Unlike other Takers, she can’t push the pain into the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it from person to person, a skill she must conceal or risk being used as a human weapon. But when her sister mysteriously disappears, Nya must decide—how far will she go to save her?
I also have a short blurb that describes the entire trilogy:
Nya is a Shifter, someone who can heal by shifting pain from person to person. She’s hunted by those eager to exploit her ability for their own purposes, determined to make her a weapon, a killer, even a symbol for the war that’s brewing.
All Nya wants is to protect her family and regain her people’s freedom, but the more she’s drawn into the plans of others, the more she realizes how key to everyone’s victory she really is.
And how much she’ll have to sacrifice just to survive.
Notice how similar these are to a query. This is why those skills are so important to develop! Once you can describe your book in marketing terms, you can craft the sales copy to help promote it. I know it’s hard to write these, but having several options ready and waiting when you need them will make it easier for you to promote your book in a wide variety of places. People need copy about your book if they’re doing something about you. Make it easy for them to talk about you in a way that helps sell your book!
WOW! How often do we get a window into actual marketing material like this, and the why behind it all? Thanks Janice! (And if you aren’t already following Janice’s blog, do your writing a favor and go visit her writing craft treasure trove!)
There is much, much more…so much we’ve had to break this into 2 POSTS. So, in true marketing fashion I’m going to tease you to make sure you tune in: Is blogging worth it for Authors? How about Blog Tours and Guest Posts? What type of swag is the most popular, and what about those *gulp* author appearances?
Click HERE for PART 2 of Janice’s Marketing insights!
Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE, and her newest release, DARKFALL. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. You can visit her website, chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.