Today I have a special treat: the first blog interview. 🙂
When it comes to self-publishing, we’ve all heard about the importance of editing and beta readers, and how good cover art is important to catching potential readers’ eyes. However, one thing I have not heard a lot about is the actual marketing of your book. Of course, word-of-mouth is an important starting point, and word-of-mouth is what will keep sales flowing long after your book has been available to the public.
However, some of us need a little extra push to get that book out on the shelves in the first place. You can have the most awesome book in the world, but if no one knows it exists, how will it be read?
That’s why some authors hire marketing and public relation consultants. Each one has a variety of services, and what the author needs will depend on their book and how well they can market it themselves.
Since this isn’t a topic I’m particularly familiar with, I decided to ask around and see if anyone who offers their services would mind answering a few questions.
For this interview I’ll be talking with Matthew Wayne Selznick, a creator working with words, music, pictures and people. Through MWS Media, he helps other creators bring their endeavors to fruition. He lives in Long Beach, California and is available at: http://www.mattselznick.com.
Read his resume here: http://www.mattselznick.com/about-matthew-wayne-selznick/matthew-wayne-selznick-resume/
Matthew: I provide marketing consultation, and I’ve occasionally done public relations work. I have experience as an author (self-published and traditionally published), a former bookseller, and an interactive marketing producer.
How should an author go about marketing their book?
By going where your audience is, being an engaged member of the community, and building relationships with people who become fans, supporters and evangelists. By seeking out new fans by looking for opportunities and areas of overlap. By establishing yourself as a writer worth reading, which means both writing a good book and presenting yourself well.
You mentioned being an engaged member of the community, and building a fan base. How do you go about doing that?
No matter the genre or niche (for non-fiction), there are people talking about it on the Internet and, very possibly, in your local community. Since you’re focused on YA fantasy / science fiction, there are probably hundreds of like-minded forums, Facebook groups, Yahoo! groups, fan websites, and even real-life meetup groups available to you. Use Google to find them… join them… and be an active member there. It’s all about building relationships and establishing connections *before* you even mention that you’re an author, or that you have a book for sale. Build relationships and become known… people who “know” you will be much more willing to support your book when it’s time to unleash it on the world.
The same thing goes with Twitter — follow people in your genre, and watch their tweets and conversations. For example, if you’re writing young adult fantasy, you could do worse than follow Neil Gaiman. Follow their conversations, and follow their followers — engage with them when appropriate. Contribute useful information when you can.
What do you expect of the author your working with?
To be available, to be open, and to be willing to be the brand. Authors who are not prepared to be marketers of their own work are at a tremendous disadvantage. Nothing sells a book like an engaging, involved and passionate author.
You’ve mentioned branding, and being a passionate author. Do you have suggestions regarding branding? How do you go about determining an author’s brand?
The author’s personal brand is built by the author through their public voice — which should be their *real* voice. Brand isn’t something that’s determined… it’s something that is developed.
For example, Wil Wheaton’s “brand” could be “super-smart, really nice author, actor and gamer who feels like every geek’s older brother.” That’s not something he deliberately created… that’s who he *is.*
What do you charge?
It depends greatly on the project, the niche, and the author’s willingness to get their hands dirty. It also depends on whether I’m engaged on a project-based level, or as an hourly consultant. My base rate is $50.00 / hour, but project-level work usually results in a lower “hourly” rate overall.
How do you go about determining project level prices? You’ve mentioned the $50.00 base rate hourly. What all does that entail? How long do you typically spend with an author on this sort of project?
My primary role is mentor, trainer and advisor. Since the best spokesperson for an author is the author, I encourage them to manage their own Twitter stream, their own Facebook page, and so on. It’s my job to make sure they’re handling their social media in the most ethical and most effective means possible. I will also research opportunities like guest blog posts, online magazine articles, anthologies (a short story in an anthology is a way to promote an upcoming book!) and reviewers.
Because the tasks and level of involvement vary with each author client, this kind of work is usually billed on an hourly basis, although I do occasionally work under a retainer. Project-based tasks would be creating a website, doing a book cover, editing, e-book conversion, and other services.
When do you suggest that an author begin looking into a hiring a marketing consultant, if they plan on doing so?
It’s good to get some advice tailored to your specific book early on… and by “early on,” I mean once you’ve completed your first draft. The time to begin building a personal brand and an author platform is well before your book is to be released. You want to have an audience to promote to on release day!
For authors who would like to get their feet wet planning their marking and social media, I recently added virtual and, when
practical, in-person consultation services. There’s more information at http://bit.ly/mwsmedia-consultation. Folks who “Like” my MWS Media Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mws.media.us can also use a coupon code for 50% off their first appointment, so that might be an inexpensive way to be introduced to these concepts as they apply to a new writer’s specific situation.
So there you have it! I’d like to thank Matthew Selznick for being our first interviewed guest, and I appreciate his taking the time to answer a few questions. Hopefully this has been helpful for you readers. 🙂