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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Myths of Book Marketing Part II

Myths of Book Marketing Part II

Doing a video interview only takes a few minutes. That’s true for the actual video when it’s aired, but prep time can be daunting. Today I was lucky. I spent only an hour prepping: showering, shaving, selecting the right attire that included a blue instead of a white shirt, stopping for a haircut on the way to the interview, driving to the interview location, practicing what I wanted to say. The interviewer/camera person was almost right on time. Setting up the equipment took no time at all, finding the right background with minimal background noise and good lighting was slightly more tricky, but Abbye Garcia—affectionately known as “the girl with the camera”—proved an expert at what she does. She started off with asking the right questions, promising to edit out all but the essentials. I forgot I was on camera and I answered her questions as if I were speaking directly with her. We did two interviews and a couple dozen publicity stills. We wrapped up the entire session in less than an hour. I had time to drop off some mail-order book sales at the post office before heading home to write. Total time away from the keyboard: less than four hours.

                Is all this necessary? you ask. Yes, it is, if you want to sell books.

                I’m naturally a shy, retiring kind of guy. There was a time when I sold most of my stuff using pseudonyms. Name recognition didn’t seem important to me at all. I was wrong.

                Kevin J. Anderson reminded me, in his wonderful Million Dollar Professionalism for the Writer, that Dean Koontz also wrote many of his early works under pseudonyms. Stephen King wrote a few books under the Richard Bachman name. But it was only when they got their own names out there, where people could recognize them, that they wrote best-sellers.

                King is as much a master of marketing as he is a master of the macabre. People ask for his works by name because they know his name and know the quality of his writing. People are willing to pay money for his grocery lists.

                I want people to read what I write because they know my name and recognize the quality of my story-telling. Writing a good book is only part of the process. Getting the books into the hands of readers is equally important.

                Do interviews sell books? Yes, a few. But a lot of interviews over a long period of time can add up to a significant number of books reaching readers who’ll want to buy more.

                A by-product of having your own name on the cover of your books is writing a better book because you own the story. When I ground out down-and-dirty novels for packagers, I didn’t care about the quality. I did it for the money (plus the practice of fast-paced story-telling with minimum characterization). Nobody knew who wrote those novels. I didn’t care if anybody ever knew.

                But the marketplace has changed, and I have changed as I’ve aged and grown as a writer. I care about what I write, carefully crafting every word, and I want people to read what I write and to know who wrote it.

                I’m proud to be a horror writer. I write in other genres, too, and I’m proud of those stories, as well. I do mysteries, police procedurals, suspense thrillers, and occasional fantasy and science fiction. I have a few cross-over novels. Okay, more than a few. But I want to be known as a horror author.

                But what makes me a horror writer isn’t the interviews I do nor the name recognition. What makes me a horror writer is what I write. It’s writing the kind of stories I like to read and putting them into the hands of other readers who also like my kind of stories. Reading and writing always comes first.

                To be continued….


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