November 1, 2011 Posted by Tom Bale in marketing

Marketing experiment underway

Over the past few months I've been trying to put a lot more thought and effort into marketing, which is an aspect of my career that I've been guilty of neglecting in the past. Having the website completely overhauled was the first major step, but there are a number of other activities underway at the moment. I've had a promotional bookmark designed and printed in quite large quantities, and to coincide with the publication of BLOOD FALLS I visited most of the bookstores in Sussex, as well as a few in the surrounding counties, offering them a stack of bookmarks to give away to customers. These were very gratefully received by the staff, many of whom expressed surprise that publishers weren't more involved in producing this sort of merchandise.

Whether the distribution of bookmarks will lead to more sales is yet to be seen, but I intend to revisit the stores between now and February, when the mass market edition comes out, and hopefully I'll get some feedback on the success - or otherwise - of my efforts in this respect.

In the meantime, there are various other things I'm experimenting with. Because I enjoy fresh air and exercise and a chance to daydream, I'm spending the odd hour here and there delivering the bookmarks door-to-door. Very unlikely to yield many sales, since reading has always been a minority activity and this isn't a method that can be targeted at readers of any sort - much less crime fiction fans. But it's a pleasant displacement activity all the same, and as with virtually every type of marketing: you just never know!

Running alongside that, I've placed adverts on Facebook and Goodreads, which I'll run for several weeks. It's early days yet, but so far Facebook seems to be producing more "clicks" than Goodreads.

And finally we have good old face-to-face promotion in the form of author events. In October I've given talks at Crowborough Library and at the Lime Cafe in Worthing, in conjunction with the local Waterstones. Both events were hugely enjoyable and a fair number of books were sold at the end of the evening. There's also the hope that the people who attended will go away and mention the books to their friends and colleagues - word of mouth still being an absolutely vital method of promotion. I also have a signing booked for Saturday 19th November, when I'll be at Waterstone's in Horsham from 11a.m. If that goes well, I know of several other local stores who would be interested in having signings.

I hope that at some point, perhaps next year, I will be able to assess the various activites and decide which are successful and which are perhaps not worth the time and effort. There's no avoiding the fact that nowadays it's only the major authors who command real promotional investment from publishers; the rest of us have to do it ourselves. I suspect it would be fascinating to compare the effect on sales from the sorts of activities I've listed above with the kind that the bestselling writers enjoy: the billboard and newspaper advertising, reviews and features in the mainstream media, blurbs from other authors and so on...

Probably neck and neck. What do you reckon?

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