Up The Creek Without A Paddle – But Not Really

To an unpublished author, thoughts of marketing your book once it’s published might not be front and center of your mind. You’re more focused on finishing that manuscript, acquiring an agent, polishing your proposal. That’s as it should be. But what if you’re agented, and have several editors showing interest in your completed project?

Now is the time to start your engines and put some wheels on your marketing strategies. Sure, your book may not sell right away, but you’ll want to be prepared when it does. And even if you’re still in the early stages of your writing journey, it’s never too early to start thinking about it.

Last week on my blog I shared a few of the things I’ve been doing since my book, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in March. The prospect of marketing can seem daunting to a new author. At first I felt as though someone had pushed me upstream with no paddle, no compass, no directions at all. I soon learned the world of marketing has many places to explore. Today I’m going to focus on one.

Networking.

Your network is where you hang out; it’s who you talk to, share life with. It’s your community. At this point, published or not, you should be working hard to establish an online presence through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+, etc…the Internet is by far the cheapest and fastest marketing tool at your disposal. Learn to use it wisely.

Then there’s your real-life community. We all have family, friends, co-workers, right? These are the folks you want in your network, people who know you, love you and have supported your writing efforts over the past few years. They’re going to want to tell everyone they know about your book, this is great! Make sure they’re kept up to date in the process and send them a copy or two when your book comes out. The more people you can get saying wonderful things about your writing, the easier your job gets. And don’t forget to thank them for their efforts.

But what if you don’t have a supportive family? What if the people in your immediate circles just don’t get it or just don’t care? All is not lost here. While I’d like to advise you to have a good heart-to-heart with these folks, I’m no family therapist. Focus your networking efforts elsewhere.

Do you belong to a writer’s group? If you don’t, you should. This is the next best thing to having all your cousins in Nebraska hauling boxes of books around in the back of their trucks and selling them at every pit stop.

I’ve recently finished reading an excellent book on social networking by Kristen Lamb, We Are Not Alone  – The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, (Who Dares Wins Publishing, 2010). I highly recommend this book and I know quite a few of my fellow WordServers do too. One thing Kristen said that I love is this: “Fish where the fish are.”  Your writer’s group will not only provide support and encouragement in your writing journey, but when your baby is finally born, they’ll be the first to send flowers and start handing out the chocolate cigars. Most writers have a blog. I’ve never met a writer who didn’t like to read. Combine the two, and you have instant reviewers, influencers and endorsers.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for an interview or to ask someone to review your novel. Yes, you may have to send a few copies here and there, but if it’s going to help get the word out about your book, it’s a great investment. And always offer to reciprocate by featuring fellow authors on your own blog and helping them spread the word about their new baby when the time comes.

Networking has been the most fun for me so far in this gig as a newly published author. I’ve expanded my network considerably, met a lot of wonderful people who have been more than gracious with their words, time and endeavors to get my book ‘out there’,  and I’m looking forward to doing it all over again when my next novel comes out!

What about you? Have you started networking? If you’re already published, tell us about your experiences.