If you’re not JK Rowling, there’s work to be done

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If your book received “withering reviews” that included an assessment like, “so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd” you’d never sell any copies, right?

Unfortunately, writers with gold-plated names like JK Rowling can overcome such a New York Times review (it was of one of her post-Harry Potter novels, “The Casual Vacancy”). According to this article it still sold more than 1.3 million copies and was the No. 1 best-selling hardcover fiction book of 2012.

Later, Rowling published “The Cuckoo’s Calling” under a male pen name (Robert Galbraith) and the book sold only modestly until she was unveiled as the true author. It had done about $50,000 in sales, prompting the NYTimes writer to comment:

What’s clear is that without the aura of celebrity, “The Cuckoos’ Calling” would have been just another work of debut crime fiction. Its author might have gotten a modest TV deal, and maybe another book contract, while working another job to make ends meet.

So, unless your name is JR Rowling and your readers aren’t looking too closely at the cover, there’s a lot of work to be done to get book sales rolling.

bookshelf will your book stand out from the others?

The behind-the-scenes work to create a platform prior to publishing your book is almost as much work as the writing itself.

This is a great, step-by-step guide to  publicity and marketing, including working with related blogs two months before publication and planning a “cover reveal.” Interestingly, it says little about sending out advance copies for reviews.

And if you’re querying agents, your online presence is important, according to this survey. So think about showcasing your expertise in your subject matter or providing evidence of an audience (yes, prior to publishing). It’s all about your platform, which is well-described in this blog post.

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Market your work visually with Pintrest and Tumblr

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Medium is a new website for sharing thoughts, akin to a TED talk without the video. This week they’re trumpeting the fact that author Walter Isaacson solicited feedback for an unfinished book on the site. It goes without saying that he has garnered a wider audience for that book already. Brilliant.

Oy vey, what’s a part-time writer to do? Keeping up with all of the newest portals to publicity is so time-consuming!

Yet if you carve out a little time each week to read up on Galleycat and your Twitter feed, you may be able to pick out one or two to pursue (yes, this is on top of blogging, feeding the cats, paying the bills, etc., etc.).

In fact, I was checking out Medium and found a great post about a two-month-old Tumblr blog, GoBookYourself.co that has exploded into the stratosphere. Like many new online vehicles, it’s image-based, yet is about books. Check it out: the concept is so simple. I’m still working on getting my client’s books in there.

the tumblr blog GoBookYourself.co is a visual way to make book recommendations

the tumblr blog GoBookYourself.co is a visual way to make book recommendations

Speaking of visual marketing methods, we know Pintrest is very popular — but were you aware that it’s second only to Facebook for driving click-throughs? And more than that, just hours ago data was released that shows 1/3 of women are on Pintrest. Of course you  know that women lead in book purchases. That’s simple math.

Of course big companies like Lowe’s have Pintrest boards. When they want to sell grills they post recipes and photos of shish-kabobs. Take a peek at ways they use the site and try to think of how you can expand your repertoire:

If you create a character who enjoys a good wine, why not pin images of wine, beautiful artistic labels and grapes on the vine with references to your character (“Sukey Jones would never drink before dinner, unless it was a light Reisling.”) and a link back to the site where your book is sold.This article has already expanded my knowledge of Pintrest exponentially. I’ve pinned images of my client’s Coast Guard rescue books and labeled them as Gifts for Men/Gifts for Sailors and Boaters and Inspirational People but I really haven’t spent a lot of time on the site. That’s going to change with this new knowledge.