Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Guest Post: Shelli Johannes-Wells on Marketing at Different Stages

This is blog vacation week! And to celebrate, I've got a series of guest posts for this week...and a chance to win tons of free books! Today we're welcoming Shelli Johannes-Wells, a top marketer and agented author who runs the super-popular blog Market my Words. Thank you for guest blogging with me, Shelli!

Marketing for All Stages of Your Career
Marketing is something that happens throughout your career and it does change based on the phase you are moving through. Your target audience changes and therefore you need to adjust your marketing to fit the needs of the audiences. Here are a few things you can do in each stage:


Before signing with an agent
Your target is the agent. So keep that in mind as you begin your journey.
  • Write a great book – without a “product” there is no point in targeting any “market” or searching for an agent. The best way to gauge your writing is to better your craft, use beta readers, and join critique groups.
  • Write a good query letter with an irresitible hook – Elana Johnson has a great ebook and Casey McCormick does weekly agent spotlights
  • Begin building your platform – do whatever you feel comfortable with to begin (join an organization and get involved, blog, participate in conferences etc.)
  • Do your research – know the agents and their likes/dislikes. A lot of them are very active on Twitter and blogs and that gives you extra insight you may never get otherwise.

After the book deal (but before publication)
Now your goal is to figure your future target audience and how to reach them.
  • Immerse yourself in networking
  • Build a professional web presence – before you may have had a scarce web site or the beginning of a blog. Take it to the next level. Add a media kit, be sure your branding is consistent
  • Start developing an extensive marketing plan. Who are your audiences, how do you reach them, what relationships do you need to develop
  • Look at all the events around your publication date and start planning visits/signings/conference appearances/ etc at least 6 months in advance. It wont all be done but you want most of your stuff in place 3 months before publication.
  • Meet with your publicist and be sure you understand their role. Be sure you partner with them and know what they are doing and where you can pick up.
  • Focus on the larger target markets. Be sure your plan spans all avenues: online, in person, etc.

After publication
At this point, most of your marketing should already be in place.
  • So it is a matter of executing it and making sure it is continuous.
  • Find other ways to branch out of the mainstream marketing.
  • Now you can focus on the smaller target audiences.

I guess my point is that how you market depends on who you are marketing to. Agents, editors, readers, writers, librarians, bloggers etc. You need to know the audience, find out how to best reach them and then target them directly. This will change throughout the phases of your career and it is an ongoing process.

28 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! Marketing always makes my head spin. But maybe that's 'cause I used to be a pharmaceutical sales rep, and sometimes the marketing was bang--your-head-against-the-wall ridiculous. ;)

beth said...

Thanks again, Shelli, for contributing!!

Casey McCormick said...

I'm feeling more and more confident about marketing and promotion, thanks to you Shelli. And yet, I have so much more to learn and work toward. Not a bad thing! I'm looking forward to it. Great post!

Nisa said...

I'm with Stine. Marketing makes my head spin too. Thanks for all of your words of wisdom, Shelli!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Awesome post - Shelli is one of my favorite bloggers! Marketing is such a beast of a thing that I feel like I can't collect too much info, and Shelli is the best. :-)

Elana Johnson said...

I love Shelli's advice. Her posts are always so easy to read and make me feel like I CAN do this marketing thing. Thanks!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great post. I like Casey am feeling more confident about marketing (though sometimes still overwhelmed) from reading your blog with all its helpful advice. Sometimes I wonder how it's best to market to the middle grade kids who don't read blogs that much if at all or twitter. I hope you'll have a post about this sometime.

Shelli said...

thanks guys! Im so glad to hear thsi advice helps writers tackle the Marketing Mound.

Natalie - we really dont target directly to MGs. We target to the influencers - parents, teachers, librarians, schools, bookstores etc.

Its hard to reach 10-14 year olds.

I have a teen panel answering marketing questions. Pop over and include this one - maybe they can give us some additional insight.

Christina Farley said...

I missed this interview when my internet wasn't working. Glad I found it! Thank you both.

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